Sunday, September 30, 2007

According to Chiapas Indymedia both the local state government and the federal Mexican government have begun to intensify their campaign against Zapatista communities:
"At this time, the state government of Chiapas and the federal government (of the PRD-PRI and the PAN respectively0 are waging a campaign against the Zapatista communities. "Official" evictions, paramilitary attacks, invasions sponsored by officials, persecutions and threats, have become once again part of the surroundings of the indigenous communities, the Zapatistas, who have set upon constructing their own destiny and improving their living conditions, always without losing their indigenous identity.
Just like in the worst times of the PRI, of Absalon Castellanos and "Croquetas" Albores Guillen, the PRD government of Chiapas is attacking the poor and needy, while catering to and benefiting the powerful. Just like any right wing government, that of Juan Sabinas in Chiapas continues the repression and dispossession, but now under a left-wing flag and with the double sponsorship of the two "presidencies" of our country, that of Felipe Calderon (of the PAN) and that of Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (of the PRD, and, above all, of himself). "
The repression that they are now facing has led the Zapatistas to cancel the second phase of their planned 'Other Campaign' journey. They still plan to send a delegation to Encounter of the Indigenous Peoples of America from October 11th to 14th.
See HERE to read more about this decision and the reasons behind it.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Today in 1547 Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, author of Don Quixote, was born in Alcala de Henares, a small town close to Madrid. He was the fourth of seven children in a family of minor nobility. Cervantes spent much of his youth moving from town to town with his family. In 1569 he made his literary debut by publishing some verse in a collection edited by Lopez de Hoyas on the occasion of the death of Isabel de Valois, second Queen of Phillip II of Spain. In this year he left Spain for Italy where he served as chamberlain in the household of Cardinal Guilio Acquaviva in Rome. one theory has it that Cervantes was escaping from the law in his exit from Spain because of his involvement in a duel. . By 1570 Cervantes had enlisted in a Castillian infantry regiment stationed in Naples, then a possession of the Spanish Crown. The next year he took part in the battle of Lepanto where the combined fleets of central Europe defeated the armada of the Ottoman Empire. In this engagement he was wounded three times by gunfire. One of the wounds crippled his left hand for life.

After Lepanto Cervantes remained in hospital for almost six months. He rejoined the Spanish infantry and served in Naples until 1575. In September of 1575 he was on board a vessel bound for Catalonia which was attacked by Algerian corsairs. He was taken prisoner and spent the next 5 years as a slave in Algiers until he was ransomed by his parents and the Trinitarian Order. Back in Spain he married Catalina de Salazar y Palacios in 1584 and took on a number of minor bureaucratic jobs as a purchasing agent for the Spanish Armada and later as a tax collector. In 1585 he published his first major work La Galatea and also several plays that attracted little notice except for El Trato de Argel and La Numancia.

Cervantes proved to be even more dishonest than the average Spanish government official. Either that or he was extraordinarily foolish or unlucky enough to get caught because he was sentenced to prison for diddling the accounts that he was responsible for as a tax collector. Or perhaps he was simply loose lipped. According to the prologue of Don Quixote the idea of his great novel first occurred to him while he was serving his time at Argamasilla de Alba in La Mancha. His genius was to give a picture of real life and manners and to express himself in everyday speech. Cervantes remained dirt poor and rather dodgy until 1605 when Part 1 of Don Quixote was first published to great international acclaim. It even led to a plagiaristic sequel by an unknown author who went by the pen name of Alonso Fernandez de Avellaneda. In reply Cervantes wrote Don Quixote Part II which was published in 1615. The second part of the book is considerably less comic than the first, but it has its admirers.

Cervantes died in Madrid on April 23, 1616, the same day that Shakespeare died. This has led UNESCO to declare April 23td the 'International day of the Book'. There is actually some dispute about this date because it is the date on his tombstone which the Encyclopedia Hispanica claims would have been the date of his burial rather than his death. The coincidence of the two deaths has also led the famous Mexican author Carlos Fuentes to speculate that Cervantes and Shakespeare were actually the same person. In this Fuentes has added his little theory to the almost endless academic industry of the "hidden author of Shakespeare", for which there are over 60 candidates. Cervantes is one of the more outre. There is also some speculation on Cervantes himself, but most of it revolves around his ancestry. The first English translation of Don Quixote was made in 1608 by Thomas Shelton, but this wasn't published until 1612. Shakespeare evidently read Don Quixote, but it is very unlikely that Cervantes was ever aware of Shakespeare's existence. A rather extreme academic, Francis Carr, has suggested that Francis Bacon wrote both Shakespeare's plays and Don Quixote. To say the least this theory has little credibility.

Don Quixote has been recognized as one of the great works of world literature. It has been translated into almost all modern languages. In Spain today every city that has even the slightest connection with Cervantes attempts to claim him as their own. Molly can remember one "conversation"- no... Molly was an audience rather than a participant- in Granada, Espana some years back. I was taking a picture of the statue dedicated to Cervantes in one of the plazas and fell into conversation with one of the locals. It was one thing to hear that Cervantes was both the greatest and most famous writer ever born. It was another to hear nonsense about how deeply connected he was to Granada. Lots of "si,si sis" in that conversation from Molly's side. None of the other works of Cervantes, good as they are, has achieved the fame of this novel.

To see more about Miguel Cervantes see:

Miguel Cervantes at Online Literature (has the text of Don Quixote available)

Works by Miguel Cervantes at Project Guttenberg http://www, (also has Don Quixote online)

The Wikipedia Article on Cervantes

The Cervantes Project (has the complete works of Cervantes in Spanish)

This may be more or less repeating the obvious, but the Harper Index has a very interesting article in its most recent post. This is part of their project to show how the Harper government manages the news, and the strategy behind it. The basics of the post are fairly simple. Repeat a lie often enough and it becomes the truth. Goebbels said it much better many years ago. What is unique and what should give pause to us all is the assertion that attempts to refute a lie are often rather fruitless because they merely repeat a meme(not the sort of thing that the authors would call it) and reinforce it in the audiences mind. The Harper Index calls upon a study by University of Michigan social psychologist Norbert Schwartz for their article. He has found that hearing an opinion multiple times from the same source is almost as influential as hearing it multiple times from multiple sources. In other words the attempts to debunk a falsehood often rebound on the debunkers and reinforce the original falsehood.
As I said, this may be something like stating the obvious, and it is hardly the "cutting edge" of present day psychology which is neurological and evolutionary. Still...the obvious often has to be restated over and over (as these findings make plain) for people to take them to heart. It certainly gives Molly pause for thought about how she often frames posts here on this blog. Only a little pause, by the way.

In the early morning of September 23rd masked gunmen murdered Guatemalan union leader Marco Tulio Portelo as he was leaving his home for work. He was the secretary for sports and culture for the Guatemalan workers' union SITRABI who are engaged in organizing Del Monte workers. His brother is the union's general secretary. This follows a pattern of rising anti-union violence in Guatemala. In July the headquarters of SITRABI was raided by uniformed soldiers . The union has called on the Guatemalan government to immediately undertake a full and open investigation into this latest murder. To send a message to the Guatemalan authorities insisting that the murderers be brought to justice go to

If you read or listen only to the mass media in article such as this you may be under the impression that the recent uprising of the people of Burma has already been thoroughly crushed by the military rulers. Protests in Rangoon (Yangon) have indeed diminished as the military exercises brutal repression against anyone foolhardy enough to confront them and moves to restrict the monks who have been leading the most recent protests to their monasteries. Yet protests continue in other cities and outlying areas. If you believe mass media reports such as the one linked above then you would think that the Burmese people have surrendered to despair and have taken refuge in a fantasy of American intervention. The reporters for the Associated Press based in neighbouring Bangkok, Thailand actually managed to find 3rd or 4th hand "quote", transmitted by rumour, to back up their assertions. Yet, in the same country in which they are based there is a website/magazine run by Burmese exiles that continues to provide up to date information of what is actually happening within Burma.
The Irrawaddy magazine/website is run by exiled Burmese from a base in Thailand. It continues to transmit news despite cyber attacks from the Burmese government. According to what they report from day to day the protests are still continuing, and there are signs of weakness in Burma's military junta. How far this will go is still anybody's guess, but it is far cry from what the American media have tried to portray. Perhaps there is indeed a few demented souls in Burma, enough to count on the fingers of one hand, who believe that their only hope is some white knight riding to the rescue from that pure and is interested country, the USA. Hardly anybody outside of the USA believes such nonsense, and only a minority within the USA believe it.
The Irrawaddy came under cyber attack from persons unknown, undoubtedly connected to the military rulers, who flooded their original site with viruses. They have established a backup site at . Molly actually has to tell a story here in connection with the reliability of the mass media. I had more than a little trouble finding this site because I began from references in the mass media who referred to the site with a DOT.ORG tag. Stop and ponder for a minute. These "news" organizations have hundreds of employees, some of which are supposed to be "fact checkers". They "check" what they publish so "thoroughly" that they can't even catch web connections that don't work. Molly is one person who works a 60 hour week at other matters. These people are supposed to have verification as their real and true job. If they can't catch simple mistakes how reliable are they in terms of other "news" that may be pure and simple fantasy, written on a napkin at a bar in Bangkok ?
In other news the Burmese junta has engaged in an act of what can only be described as pure and simple childish malevolence. They have stopped or restricted the delivery of UN food aid to half a million people, many of them children. This is an act of petty spite, probably connected to the arrival of the UN envoy Ibrahim Gambari in the country today. The envoy was whisked from Rangoon to the military's new "show capital" at the remote town/fortress of Naypitaw soon after he arrived. It's more than possible that the willingness of the military to let their own people starve is a show of force to the UN.
Also in other news the internet within Burma came on briefly for a few hours today despite the military's blackout. The window of opportunity lasted only a few hours. hard to say what happened there. Sabotage from dissident members of the military ? Simple incompetence ? Who knows.
In addition to the site that Molly mentioned, which has apparently received 22 million hits in the last two weeks, here are a few more sources for information from Burma and the international solidarity movement with its people.
Burma Forum Canada
Canadian Friends of Burma (has information on solidarity actions in Canada)
Federation of Trade Unions-Burma
Prospect Burma (student oriented)
See also the links provided here on Molly's Blog a few days ago when I last blogged on this subject .

Since 2005 local organizations in Bangalore, India have tried to publicize and correct unfair labour practices on the part of the jeans manufacturer Fibre and Fabrics International and its subsidiary Jeans Knits Pvt. Ltd.. Abuses alleged include high work pressure, forced overtime, physical and psychological abuse, overwork without pay and failure to provide contracts. This company provides jeans for G-Star, Armani, RaRe, Guess, GAP, Mexx and others.
The company responded with legal action against both local Indian organizations and their international supporters. They obtained a court order against local people in July 2006, banning them from commenting on the company's labour practices. This injunction was extended in February of this year, and the court case surrounding it continues to drag on. FFI also succeeded in obtaining injunctions in a local court against international supporters of the Indian workers, but for obvious reasons these are hard to enforce. In response the company has managed to convince a judge in Bangalore to issue arrest warrants against 7 staff members of the Clean Clothes Campaign in the Netherlands and their internet providers Antenna and Xs4all.
The supporters of the Indian workers are being accused of "cybercrime, racist and xenophobic activities and slander".
In response the Clean Clothes campaign has redoubled its efforts to convince customers of FFI to cease ordering from this source until they clean up their act. They have also launched an online campaign to protest this attempt to muzzle free speech. To join both campaigns and to read more go to . To follow this campaign and others maintained by the Clean Clothes Campaign see the link above.
Molly Note:
If the reader looks again at the list of charges he or she will notice the "racist and xenophobic" part. Molly has always opposed any and all laws putting limits on freedom of speech no matter what their "good leftist, progressive intentions". Far too many so-called leftists see nothing wrong with such attempts to legislate social morality and in fact are quite supportive of them. If, however, you fail to see the immorality of such laws you might be persuaded that they are a bad idea because they provide ever ready tools for others to use for purposes that you don't agree with. The actions of the Indian courts are hardly the only example or even the last of 10,000 examples from across the world. In other words if you can't support freedom from the basis of morality you might consider supporting it from the basis of practicality.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Comrades at a recent Auckland, New Zealand anarchist conference held a womyn's caucus. Women present at the caucus felt that it would be a great benefit to revive the existing a-fem networks, both locally and nationally. The New Zealand comrades are working towards reviving both the national New Zealand email list and also the local one in Wellington, but they are also interested in details about other such lists that may exist so people outside of their country may be able to help them out here. To read the full story about their project go to the article on A-Infos. To subscribe to the national NZ list or the Wellington list or to provide details about other lists email

As of tonight, September 28th, the news is that the "virtual strike" at IBM's presence in the Second Life cyberworld was a huge success. The photographs above are from the strike blog at . This site contains further news of the protest to which IBM has yet to respond officially. At press time 1,853 people and their avatars from across the world had taken part. The strike blog has a number of photos from both the real world and the Second Life site. Well worth looking at.
Many people were apparently unable to sign up for the protest due to technical reasons. For those there is an online petition in support of the Italian workers. See . Go there to drop a little line of solidarity with the Italian workers.

Since Wednesday, September 18th cleaning workers employed by Penauille-Derichebourg at the Roissy airport in France have been on a strike called by the CNT-F. This is a French anarchosyndicalist union unconnected with the AIT. The workers are protesting the appointment of a new forewoman long known for her high handed and authoritarian way of dealing with the workers. On September 26th the workers held a demonstration in the halls of the airport. so far the management has refused to negotiate and threatens the dismissal of the workers. The workers have replied that, "The strikers of the CNT do not intend to give in to this blackmail and will continue the strike to attain respect for the dignity of the workers".
To follow developments in this strike go to the website of the CNT-F (in French). The CNT also provides a regular online bulletin, also in French, for supporters. Details are available on the website.
The Penauille workers are asking for solidarity letters to be sent to the director of Penauille-Derichebourg in Roissy protesting the company's actions. Her email address is . They also ask that copies be sent to the international secretary of the CNT-f at

Two antifascist comrades from the Minsk area of Belarus are now serving three year sentences in Belorussian camps for their role in a fight with fascists in December of 2006. One of these, Maksim Gubski recently turned 18 in late July of this year. He has been active in the anti-fascist movement in Minsk for three years and was one of the organizers of Food Not Bombs in Minsk. He and his comrade Vladislav Vladimirovich Plashkevick were involved in a fight with fascists last December. The fascists lost, but one of them recognized the pair and went to the police. Their comrades in Belarus are asking for letters of support to be sent to Maksim and Vladimir while they are in prison. The addresses are below. If possible write the addresses in Cyrillic script as they are more likely to arrive then.
Maksim Gubski
Batowa str. 4 Bobruisk
213800 Belarus
Vladislav Vladimirovich Plyashkevich
1K-10 otryad 4
Novopoltsk-5 Vitebskaya oblast
211440 Belarus

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

In the past few days an article published in the 6th edition (September, 2007) of the Costa Rican anarchist journal La Libertad has been making its way across the internet in English translation. Its latest appearance is on the A-Infos site. As far as Molly can make out its first appearance in English was oddly enough on the Polish anarchist site Centrum Informacji Anarchistcznej which publishes some material in English(see HERE). The article in question is a response to a previous more or less Pro-Chavez article published in La Libertad, and the author is a member of the Venezuelan anarchist editorial collective of El Libertario. The article is too long to reproduce here, and Molly suggests that her readers consult the A-Infos original at . A few salient points from the article bear repeating here.
A. The left in this part of the world, and perhaps in most other countries as well, has a long standing tradition of believing in the "great man" theory of history with at least part of their divided minds. The article points out that the present dynamics of opposition to neo-liberalism did not appear miraculously with the advent of 'Chavenism' whether dating from his comic opera coup attempt in 1992 or his more sucessful use of electoral politics to actually gain power recently. The oppositional movements began to gather strength in the 1980s, seperate from any Blanquist dreams, and Chevez rode to power using this sentiment and has attempted to channel it towards his own ends while in power.
B. The author criticizes the author of the original article for calling for and praising a pluralistic movement in his own country, Costa Rica and recognizing "complexity" in that struggle while demonizing any and all opposition to Chavez as a simplistic "agents of reaction". This is hardly a unique failing. With long experience Molly has come to know that even otherwise sensible leftists who can understand the complexities of their own countries where there may be "10 sides" rather than 2 will too often return to a kindergarten Stalinist mindset when they look at the so-called 'Third World' in situations that may be much more complex.
C. The Venezuelan comrade points out that the tradition of a "populist strong man" has had a long life in Venezuelan history. The obvious comparison to Peronism is something that is studiously avoided by acolytes of Chavez of whatever leftist stripe they may be.
D. The author also points out the ineffectiveness of the social policies in Venezuela in comparison to the vast financial resources available to the state because of the "oil bonanza". As he says, the poor get scraps while a new business class of collaborators with the government fatten themselves at the public trough. The article refers to these people as the "boliburguesia". In English this would be termed the "bolibourgeoisie", and it is the subject of many reports, both leftist (usually left Trotskyist) and otherwise that have appeared over the past few years. Molly has seen this sector discussed in places like 'The Economist' and analyzed much more thoroughly there. It fattens on the import business and on various other monopolistic privileges granted by a corrupt state.
Doubtless this parasitic business class sucks up a good proportion of the oil wealth that would otherwise be available for actual real help to the poor and working class in Venezuela. Doubtless as well that if Chavez ever has to tack in another direction should the world situation change- a feat at which he will probably excel Muhamar Khaddafi- those leftists who see no reason to educate themselves about this business sector will suddenly discover it and blame it for the supposed "betrayal of the revolution". Here, however, is where Molly has to go beyond what the Venezuelan comrades of El Libertario point out. Situations such as Venezuela are indeed complex, and there are other class forces struggling for dominance other than a corrupt state sponsored clique of speculators. Think for a minute. Suppose a business gets say $1 million because of "connections". It takes merely two heads of a division of a government department charged with "deepening the revolution" to each skim off $500,000 and equal this amount. Ten subchiefs each skimming off $100,000 have the same effect. One hundred petty bureaucrats each pocketing (or giving out to friends or relatives) only $10,000 have the same effect. Venezuela is a country where the state appointed "helpers of the people" with such opportunities number in the tens of thousands. These people corrupt and end up smothering local initiatives of the poor and working class, and it is their influence that gives Venezuela the reputation of being one of the most corrupt countries in the region. They are actually a class that is struggling for power, and to a large degree they are not just a "class in itself" but also a "class for itself" as the ideology of Chavism gives them coherence and justification for their aspirations.
It is true that situations such as those in Venezuela give some minor opportunities for people from the lower classes to self organize, but it is also a certain guarantee that such efforts will rapidly become either colonized or suppressed, co-opted or eliminated, by an imperial New Class with the unlimited power of an oil rich state to back it up. Those who expect some sort of real, self-managing socialism to emerge from such a situation are highly unrealistic. To the ideological entrepreneurs of the emerging state bureaucracy in Venezuela this sudden windfall represents the same sort of business opportunity as the "tech bubble" did for another class in the USA of the 90s. There's gold in them there hills ! The Chavez bubble may yet burst for any number of reasons. Increasing unemployment and inflation, some of it due to the gutting of domestic industry in favour of the bolibourgeoisie importers. Economic discontent from this that cannot be bought off easily enough with crumbs. Disgust and fear of the fact that Venezuela is advancing towards a Colombian level of crime and violence no matter what the government says or does. Any number of other factors could prick the bubble. Chavez may do it himself, as mentioned above, by making an abrupt turn at a simple whim. That's the danger you run when you depend upon a strongman to "embody" a revolution.
But Molly has strayed pretty far from the original article now. She refers the reader back to the original for a interesting read.



The" virtual strike" called by employees of IBM in Italy is on for tomorrow.

After a flurry of media attention the first "strike in Second Life" will be held tomorrow. For more information on the protest go to . If you haven't signed up your avatar already this website will give you instructions on how to do it. The protest/demonstration/strike will take place over the course of 12 hours and has the support of IBM employees in over 18 countries. Sounds like a wild time. See past articles on this event here on Molly's Blog. Hundreds of supporters of the Italian IBM workers have already signed up for the event. Sounds like a hot time.

As mentioned on Molly's Blog the other day the protests in Burma are ongoing, and the military is beginning to move against the people. The online labour solidarity site Labour Start has an extensive online coverage of the events as they unfold as well as the international response to the government's actions. The emphasis is on union rights and the actions of Burma's workers, but other up to date information is also included. To follow the story tune in the the Labour Start page on Burma at:

Today is the day of this year's Harvest Moon. The exact time of the event is when the Moon reaches the spot in the sky where it is precisely opposite the Sun. This will occur at 19:45 Universal/Greenwich time today (7:45 pm). This will be 14:45 (2:45 pm) here in Central Daylight Time. To find the timing for your own time zone see the Time and Date website.
All of the full moons of the year have popular names that differ from place to place. See HERE, HERE and HERE for three different lists. Other names for the Harvest Moon include the Wine Moon, the Singing Moon, the barley Moon, the Fruit Moon and the Elk Call Moon.
The Harvest Moon is the most common name. The Harvest Moon is defined as the full moon that falls closest to the Fall Equinox which occurred three days ago on September 23rd. This moon can actually occur earlier than the equinox, and in about one year out of four it occurs in October. This happened last year but will not occur again until 2011.
The popular belief that the Harvest Moon stays in the sky longer than other full moons is false. But farmers traditionally did have more time to work by moonlight at this time of year. This is because of the variation in time of moonrise from day to day as the seasons change. Usually the Moon rises about 50 minutes later each day. When the Moon is, however, travelling in the sky near the path of the ecliptic, as it does in September, October and November, the day-to-day difference is foreshortened. The effect depends upon latitude. The further north you are the shorter the daily difference between moonrises. In Miami, for instance, the Moon rises an average of 37 minutes later from day to day at this time of year. At the latitude of Edmonton, Alberta, however, the average difference is only 12 minutes. This meant that on successive nights during the harvest season that farmers would indeed have more time to work the fields by moonlight on each day of the harvest. The same is true for the next moon of the year, usually known as the Hunter's Moon. In the southern hemisphere the situation is reversed, and the Moon rises more than 50 minutes later from day to day at this time of year.
The Harvest Moon is also neither brighter nor of a different colour than other full moons of the year. People who go out early to observe moonrise around the time of the Harvest Moon may be fooled by what is known as the 'Moon Illusion' into thinking that the Harvest Moon is bigger. Any moon, or any other sky object for that matter, always looks bigger when it is near the horizon. This is despite the fact that it occupies exactly the same angular diameter in the sky. The difference in size is a trick of perception rather than any real physical effect. Similarly the rising Harvest Moon is no redder than any other rising Moon. Refraction of light due to Earth's atmosphere gives all objects near the horizon a reddish hue. Think of the rising or setting Sun.
As mentioned previously on Molly's Blog (See 'Welcome to Autumn' last weekend) today is also the day of the equilux. This is the time when daylight and nighttime are most exactly equal. There will be another such day next spring. Til then...

Tuesday, September 25, 2007



The latest news from Burma, renamed in their own version of political correctness as 'Myanmar' by the brutal military ruling class of that country, is that ongoing protest have continued to grow in size and spread to many other cities in the country. The latest round of demonstrations actually began back in August, but it is only recently that it has become headline news. The trigger for the protest was plan by the ruling junta to double fuel prices, and the initiators were the country's Buddhist monks. Both the actors and the issues have grown considerably since the beginning of these events, and what will happen next is anybody's guess. There have been numerous other protests against the junta in the decades that they have held power, some of them even mass movements like the present one. All have been suppressed. Some Burmese dissidents suggest that the death toll from the military's actions over the years may have been in the hundreds of thousands. For those interested in following these developments closer than the mass media does Molly suggests the following sources:

1)Burma News

2)Burma Digest (has good photos of the demonstrations)


4)Burma Underground (mostly about ethnic minorities in Burma)


*When a hollow regime does collapse there is always some "trigger", sometimes great and sometimes small. This may be as large as a defeat in a foreign war. This has happened often enough in history. It may be as small as a minor change in government regulations that finally touches the majority of the population enough to make them rebel. These triggers come more or less at random and attempts by would be revolutionaries to hasten "regime change" in their absence are harmless busywork at best. At their worst, as with individual terrorism, they prolong the life of the regime in question by both increasing its public support and by "waking up the snake" and provoking it to act against much more serious forces of opposition than the terrorists.

*A regime is likely to be most successfully challenged where there is a sphere of civil society outside of the control of the state where opposition can be more or less freely organized. In recent years this has often been religious in nature. Poland, the Philippines and now Burma come to mind. Actions on the part of the state to eliminate this free public sphere are dangerous because they may provoke the sort of "trigger" discussed above. The state is thus forced to tolerate its mortal enemy within its territory. The actions of the Chinese government today to try and eliminate the Falong Gong cult are evidence of a ruling class that recognizes such a danger and hopes to eliminate it before it becomes so powerful that it has to be tolerated. Such independent public spheres don't have to be religious in nature, but in most countries it is the churches/religions that have a base of public support to begin with that makes them difficult to challenge in their early growth. If independent public spheres do not exist there is NO magical shortcut to bring about regime change short of depending upon a "revolution from above" such as what happened in the ex-Soviet Union when it fell apart. No amount of "militance" will substitute for a mass movement, and the larger and more firmly established the movement is before a "final confrontation"the more likely it is that the end result will be an improvement for the majority of the population that carry out such a "revolution without revolutionaries". The overriding goal of any movement for social change should be to build such independent social spheres- not to engage in spectacular actions.

*"Revolution From Above" is always a possibility as a regime becomes more desperate and less popular. Such "revolutions" are most likely to result in merely superficial changes that better the life of the average person hardly at all- except where they open the field for developing an independent civil society. The sort of divisions and hesitations that lead to such events are, however, a necessary condition for "revolution from below". No regime will fall until it becomes rotten enough so that at least a minority of its soldiers, police, guards,etc are willing to desert. This has to be thoroughly understood,and any actions by so-called "militants" which only serve to increase the solidarity of the armed force opposing the people should be thoroughly discouraged by more sensible opponents of the regime. The Burmese military ruling class have been challenged repeatedly, often by mass movements, over the last few decades, but they kept on soldiering. Whether the present movement wins or loses will depend upon whether the regime is rotten enough so that the soldiers become unreliable. Sensible ruling classes-China, the USA, Cuba are examples- try their best to make at least their military into a closed subculture isolated from the general population. They can hardly ever succeed in doing this 100%. The degree to which they succeed is the degree to which their regime is safe from any change short of that imposed by foreign troops.

*The Burmese people have chosen the path of non-violent resistance. This is a sensible and logical choice. Their strength is not in the number of guns that they can bring onto the street-always a minuscule part of 1 percent of what the military can bring to bear. Their strength is political and emotional. They hope to make the ruling class waver and their armed forces hesitate. Nobody knows better than people in Burma that "all ruling classes will fight violently to keep their position". That's a given. Such truisms are used by the decadent remains of the "New" Left in the USA and those under their influence in other western countries to justify whatever stupid and counterproductive wild schemes they may have to try and bypass the long and hard work of organizing "within the people". Burmese people know this truism far better than any leftist militants do, far, far, far better. But they draw sensible conclusions from this fact. To fight on their own terrain with tactics that have at least a chance of success. perhaps this is because they actually want to win rather than to "prove themselves". everybody should fight to win and not to show off.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Party on Friday, September 28, from 5pm on---Where ? The AEELI's new courtyard at 2033 St-Laurent Blvd:
Around 1972 in Montreal a gay bookstore, Androgyne, located in the western part of downtown welcomed anarchists and stocked anarchist books. Towards the end of the 70s some anarchists started the Alternative Bookstore in a small building on St. Laurent. In 1982 this building was purchased by anarchists who formed an association (the AEELI: Association des especes libres et imaginaires) to ensure a space for the bookstore as well as the maintenance and management of the building. During its 25 year existence, the AEELI has had difficult periods which have had repercussions in Montreal's anarchist milieu. In 2004, Alternative had to close, but a few months later, in November 2004, the Association created the new anarchist bookstore, L'Insoumise ("The Insubordinate"). This is a good development for the anarchist organization of our project (the AEELI and Insoumise) which is based on a confederal association of groups and individuals os several anarchist tendencies.
The AEELI was also restructured to avoid it from going astray, and to better reflect our anarchist views and practices. The building also houses a library-the DIRA- as well as another association of supportive comrades- the L'Ocal. Together anarchists manage this resource that belongs to us.
On Friday, September 28, we invite our supporters and all anarchists to come celebrate the 25th anniversary of the building's ownership by the anarchist milieu. in the courtyard out back, from 5 pm on there will be a BBQ (vegetarian food available), refreshments, music and comradeship.
Cheers for the 25th anniversary of the AEELI ! and long live the anarchist AEELI !



The Anarkismo site has published an interesting article by a member of the Zabalaza Anarcho-Communist Federation (South African platformist organization). The article takes off from the attendance of numerous delegates from African union organizations at the recent I-07 conference organized by the CNT-F in Paris. The author analyzes the political positions of the unions represented and draws some conclusions for the project of spreading anarcho-syndicalism in the continent of Africa. Some extracts from the article:

"What is particularly interesting to us, and the focus of this article, is that, for the first time, the Industrial Syndicalist Conference had a significant African presense this year, with delegates representing trade unions from Algeria (Snapap), Morocco (UMT, CDT, ANDCN, poor peasants, FDR-UDT), Tunisia (CGTT), Guinea (CNTG, CEK, SLEG), Ivory Coast (GCT-CI), Djibouti (UDT), Congo DRC (LO), Mali (Cocidirail, Sytrail), Benin (FNEB, UNSTB, AIPR), Burkino Faso (UGEB, CGT-B, AEBF) and Madagascar (Fisemare). ...

"As seen from the preceding breakdown the African delegates present, entirely paid for by the CNT, seemed to all have come from a range of independent and radical unions influenced by Marxism, and it is interesting to consider what might have attracted them to an anarcho-syndicalist conference, and what this means for creating an opening for spreading libertarian socialist ideas in Africa. ...It is critically important for militants from a libertarian socialist tradition to engage with organizers from Africa coming from an authoritarian socialist tradition (Marxist or otherwise). The reason being that one has to consider the context in which their political identity would have developed, bearing in mind that there is very little libertarian socialist tradition in Africa as a whole, and that many people on the continent with Leftist inclinations would invariably have been attracted to authoritarian/statist models of socialism and Marxist ideas or, for example, the type of 'African socialism, as practiced notably in Tanzania....

"It is also important to note that 'African Socialism' has been tried and found wanting, and that radical leftists in Africa might be becoming disillusioned with mainstream state socialism and be looking around for alternatives. Perhaps this is what attracted the African delegates to I07 ?. perhaps they feel so isolated and in such a desperate situation that activists from a statist orientation are willing to try anything to garner support from the international community. ...
"Whatever the case may be it is a sound strategy for the French CNT to be in contact with these groups and it helps to facilitate a dialogue about forms of organization, visions of the type of society that we want to create and it allows for the building of solidarity struggles between groups in the so-called first and third worlds. ...I strongly feel that the French CNT has taken an initiative that I would love to see followed by the other more developed and stronger anarchist and anarcho-syndicalist groupings and movements, with the capacity to do so, from the former colonial regimes. There is also, encouragingly, another similar initative to I07, the 'International conference on the coordination of base unionism and social connection in Europe and the Maghreb' being organized by the Spanish CGT due to take place in Malaga on 28, 29 and 30 September 2007. ...
"The legacy of Marxism and the Soviet Union is fading into history and, as a result, there is a vacuum of ideas in the African left. At such a time it is crucial for anarchists to step in and try to fill this vacuum, at a point where people may be looking for alternatives and might be open to libertarian socialist ideas. Anarchists should not be sectarian about their engagement with the broader African Left as, without a doubt, if we fail to take the initiative and try to fill the vacuum of ideas with a libertarian socialist- or more specifically and anarchist communist alternative, the larger and still, regrettably, better organized authoritarian socialists will certainly seize the opportunity to provide material and ideological support to the African trade unions, social and anti-globalization movements who, often desperate and uneducated as to the flaws of state socialism, will take whatever help they can get.
"If, however, anarchist and anarchosyndicalist groups abroad are going to try and develop contacts with unions in Africa, and try to spread anarchist and anarcho-syndicalist ideas and tactics, they would need to have a strategy for doing so. One key point to note, however, when embarking on this strategy is that every effort must be made to try and make contact with the rank-and-file workers, not the union bureaucrats or to try and ensure that union leaders disseminate the information and ideas they receive from anarchists abroad at the base.
Read the full article at the Anarckismo site for much more on this topic.

The Harper Index has recently published a story on Tom Flanigan's new book 'Harper's Team'. Flanagan has been an important mentor to Stephen Harper, having been Harper's national campaign director in the 2004 federal election and a senior advisor in the 2006 election. He is also a senior fellow at the notorious Fraser Institute and a member of the right wing political science clique at the University of Calgary known as the 'Calgary School'. The book traces the steps that led to the Canadian Alliance Party and its merger with the Progressive Conservative Party. As the article in the Index points out it ends with the 'Ten Commandments of Conservative Campaigning''. These "commandments are essential in understanding what Harper is all about and predicting what he will do next. As an aside they are also good political advise in a Machiavellian sense for others opposed to neo-conservatism, but who too often flounder in confusion about what to do.
Go to the article at the Harper Index to read about this book, what Harper is all about and what one of his best advisers says is the way to go.

In the Fall of 2006 Molly and the wife visited the city of Venice. At that time the planned expansion of the US military base on Vicenza(in the 'Veneto'-the area of Venice) was in the news, most particularly in connection with a Papal visit to that city that was widely seen as giving support to conservative forces in Italia. The news was also very much mixed up with further reports of corruption on the part of then Italian President Silvio Bertusconi (corruption in Italian politics ? Is this "news" ?). The Vicenza base is presently a major staging area for the US military in its adventures in the Middle East. If the planned expansion goes through the Vicenza base will be the largest US military presence in Europe. Since the beginning of the plan there has been mass opposition to this project. Despite this the present "centre-left" government of Italia seems intent on continuing the work of their conservative predecessors. The latest event happened from September 6th to 18th under the heading of the No Dal Morin Festival. It included international speakers, and 300,000 people attended. The festival culminated with three days of direct action. A full report on the festival can be seen at the site at

Coming up on October 5th: The launch of the People's History of Canada/Kanada Poster Project:
This is a new project coming out of Vancouver. Molly reproduces their press release from the No One Is Illegal Vancouver site.
"Join us for the much anticipated launch of the People's History of Canada/Kanada Poster Project!!!
The People's History of Canada/Kanada Poster Project is a collaborative effort between grassroots artists and No One is Illegal-Vancouver. The artists working on this project come from a diversity of communities and almost all carry his/herstories and direct experiences of colonization and displacement that are being engaged within the project.
Launch includes work by *Afuwa Granger*Alex Mah*Ange Sterrit*Annie Banks*Naomi Moyer*Tania Willard*Riel Manywounds and Gord Hill*Tyler Toews.
The project also includes Setareh Mohammedi, Paco Segure, Kara Sievewright, Naava Smolash and Elogyny Tharmendran.
A series of original pieces will explore various moments of repression and resistance in Canadian history such as systems of apartheid from reserves to border walls, environmental racism in Africville to Skwekwek'welt, history of exclusion from the Chinese head tax and Japanese internment to Security Certificates and current immigration policies, resistance such as the Skeena Rebellion and Gustafson Lake siege, history of migrant labour programs, impacts of the 2010 Olympics and more.
Through this project we have attempted to create art that is an active part of our social movements and anti-colonial struggles. We invite you to check out this exciting and powerful series of works at our launch party of Friday October 5th where prints and full colour posters will be available for sale. The exhibit will remain up at Rhizome Cafe until October 21st.
Thank you to those at the Purple Thistle, Rhizome Cafe, Gallery Gachet, No One is Illegal Vancouver collective members and Under the Volcano who supported this Project.
For more information contact or call 604-875-8455

Saturday, September 22, 2007



Tomorrow morning at 4:51 am CDT (9:51 UT) the fall equinox will arrive.You can convert this to your own time zone using the Time and Date site. The equinox is defined as the time when the Sun is directly above the Earth's equator. This usually occurs around March 20th (the Vernal Equinox) and September 22nd (the Autumnal Equinox). At this time the Sun crosses celestial equator. The equinox is also the time of year when the celestial equator intersects with the ecliptic. The equinox is a point in time, not the name of a day. The day when daylight and nighttime are "most nearly equal" is referred to as the Equilux. while the equinox falls on September 23rd this year the equilux will actually be September 26th.

The time of the equinox isn't fixed. Each year they fall about 6 hours later. This is partially corrected by the leap year every four years which resets the time of the event. The reset isn't perfect however, and there is a slow drift of the time of the equinoxes (and solstices) to earlier times in the year. The shift amounts to a full day over the course of about 70 years. This shift is largely compensated by the century leap year rule of the Gregorian calender.

As we approach the equinox the rate of change in the length of a day increases. If you follow the time periods of daylight you will notice that they change most slowly around the times of the solstices but change most rapidly at the equinoxes. At the poles this means that the rate of change is instantaneous. The equinox marks the transition from 24 hrs sunlight to 24 hrs darkness. The further you travel from the poles the slower the rate of change. At the equator the rate of change is mere seconds per day. This apparent "midnight sun" in its full effect can be seen up to 100 kms from the poles. The time from the solstice in June to the September equinox is 94 days. The time from the December solstice to the March/Vernal equinox is only 89 days. This discrepancy arises because the orbit of the Earth is elliptic rather than perfectly circular. This means that the rate at which the Earth orbits the Sun also varies. It is faster towards the spring(northern hemisphere) when the Earth is closer to the Sun.

The actual times of daylight and night are not equal at the time of the equinox. This is not just because the equinox is a point in time. It is also due to other factors that contribute to the day being longer than the night at this time of year. First of all, the Sun is not a point source of light. It is a disc, and sunrise and sunset are defined from the point of view of the upper edge of the disc. The discrepancy is at least a minute on both ends of the day. There is also the effect of light refraction when the Sun is near the horizon. This makes the Sun seem to be a little bit more above the horizon at both sunrise and sunset. This effect adds almost seven minutes to the daylight. If you take twilight into account the "day" at the time of the Equinox would be almost an hour longer than the night. As you go towards the poles this difference increases, and the time of the equinox has much more day than night.


There are a number of other interesting things about the equinoxes:

*Equinoxes have a temporary disruptive effect on geostationary communications satellites. This happens because there is a point in time at the equinoxes when the Sun is directly behind the satellite from the point of view of receiving stations on Earth. The Sun's radiation overwhelms the much weaker signal from the satellite with noise. The duration of this effect varies. it may last only a few minutes, but it may persist up to an hour.

*There are a number of other names for the two equinoxes rather than spring/Vernal equinox and autumnal/fall equinox. These names suffer from the fact that they are obvious references to matters only in the northern hemisphere. South of the equator the situation of the seasons is precisely the opposite. Some have proposed using 'March Equinox' and 'September Equinox'. This is familiar to those who use the western solar based calender, but lunar calenders such as the Jewish or Muslim calenders have the equinoxes falling in different months from year to year. The equinoxes were once named in astrology as the 'First Point of Aries' and the 'First Point of Libra'. Because of precession these astrological signs are no longer the constellations where the equinoxes actually occur. Today they are the 'Pisces Equinox' and the 'Virgo Equinox'. One hardly ever hears such terms in common usage. Finally, there are the 'Northward Equinox' and the 'Southward Equinox', referring to the direction of the apparent motion of the Sun at each equinox. These terms are also rarely used.

*There is a persistent folk legend that the equinoxes are the only time of the year when you can stand an egg on end. This myth has been thoroughly debunked by the owner of the Bad Astronomy Blog who devotes a lot of his efforts to exposing hoaxes, myths and misconceptions in the area of astronomy. In actual fact you can stand an egg on end at any time of year. It just takes a little practice and skill. See the article at

*Because the Sun is not a point source of light it actually takes the Sun about two and 1/2 days to cross the equator. The equinox is defined as the time when the midpoint of the Sun's disc is over the equator.

*A couple of good references on things equinoxal:

1)Details about the length of day and night at the equinoxes.

2)Calculation of length of day.

3)Table of times for equinoxes, solstices, perihelion and aphelion in 2000-2020.