Sunday, May 25, 2008

For the past several months Irish anarchist Andrew Flood has toured 45 American(and a handful in Canada) cities on a massive speaking and organizing tour. He was speaking about how the Irish anarchist movement has matured and organized. While on tour he recorded a number of interviews from various anarchists active in the USA, and they present a picture of the movement in that country today. The following item, describing the interviews was originally published on the NEFAC website.
North America, The Other America: Interviews with Anarchists in the United States by Andrew Flood
Andrew Flood has spent the last several months traveling around the USA speaking about anarchism in Ireland. Forty-five cities with populations from thirty thousand to over eight million. At many of those stops, Andrew interviewed local anarchists, and has published over seven and a half hours of audio: Providence, Boston, North Hampton, DC, Richmond, Syracuse, and New Orleans, Pittsburgh, Atlanta, Miami, Sarasota, Gainesville, Detroit, Minneapolis, Seattle, Olympia, Eugene and San Jose.
A tour through a country at war, something he was reminded of by the wrapper around every Greyhound ticket which might as well have read "If you broke or desperate enough to travel with us you might just join the army". A country at war abroad in Iraq and Afghanistan, at war at home with its own population, excluding the political ones he witnessed at least half a dozen different sets of arrests on his tour. He heard of schools taking students in shifts each morning because of the lack of buses, he saw bridges that had collapsed due to under funding, heard of the mass layoffs in state after state and in the rust belt saw the destroyed industries and homes of a previous generations dreams.
On his travels he used the opportunity to record interviews with many of the local anarchists who were organizing the meetings which he edited on the bus and posted to once he hit his next wi-fi signal. We've collated these interviews below, over two hours of audio in all. All those interviewed are anarchists but apart from that they represent a section of the population of the United States ranging in age from perhaps 20 to nearly 70. Together they give an impression of 'the other America', that is the vast majority of the US population that is not visible in the election coverage or as characters on 'Friends' or 'Sex & the City'.
These interviews are a fragment of a picture, a selection of the hundred plus people Andrew had conversations with, the ones where there was enough time and enough quiet to allow him to flip open a five year old laptop and hit record. He couldn't always do that so there are many fascinating conversations that are missing including one from a visit to one of the 100+ political prisoners still incarcerated in the US.
He spent four days in NYC but the shortage of both time and quiet spots in that city where many work three jobs just to pay the rent means no recording from there--he was, however, able to interview New York City anarchist Ashanti Alston while in Sarasota, Florida. And then there were also the overheard conversations, on the train to Providence he listened to two recently returned Iraq vets compare their terror of camel spiders, in the Greyhound station in Springfield, Mass another vet screamed at a Bush broadcast on the TV.
Pictures and links to the recordings at:
* Providence, RI: Senia and Mark
* Boston, MA: NEFAC
* North Hampton, MA: Anne Marie
* Washington, DC: Alex
* Richmond, VA
* Syracuse,N and New Orleans, LA: Stephen and the Syracuse Solidarity Network
* Pittsburgh, PA
* Atlanta, GA: Capital Terminus Collective
* Miami, FL: Patrick
* Sarasota, FL: Ashanti Alston
* Gainesville, FL: James Schmidt
* Detroit, MI: Chris and Mike
* Minneapolis, MN: Kieran
* Seattle, WA: Rogue
* Olympia, WA: Christa
* Eugene, OR: Mark, Kate and Nathan of the IWW
* San Jose, CA: Amanecer
*Senia and Mark in Providence, Rhode Island: They talk about Students for Democratic Society, the IWW, anarcha-feminism in Puerto Rico and the US primaries.(53 minutes.)
*SDS in Providence
*NEFAC in Boston, Massachusetts: An interview with four members of the Boston union of the North Eastern Anarchist Communist Federation (NEFAC). NEFAC were the organisers of the NE tour which is why quite a few of the interviews are with NEFAC members. NEFAC talks about the Boston Irish, housing organization around the foreclosure crisis, unemployed workers organising and political prisoner support in the USA today.(27 minutes.)
*Anne Marie in western Massachusetts: On activism in a small town / rural setting (North Hampton, MA), how she became an anarchist, the local anti-war movement and class struggle politics.(27 minutes.)
*IWW in Philadelphia, PA
*Washington, District of Columbia: the DC specific problem of building a popular anarchism in a city where there are several protests every day.(8 minutes 30.)
*Richmond, Virginia: the Richmond slave insurrection of 1800, anarchism in Richmond since 1995 and homeless activism. There is a little bit of periodic noise on the Richmond interview as it was conducted in the public park that is mentioned in the interview and there were occasional gusts of wind.(23 minutes.)
*Syracuse Solidarity Network and Stephen about New Orleans, Louisiana: Covering anarchist organizing, local anti war and feminist movements and activism in a rust belt town. The second half is Stephen talking about how the experience of working with Common Ground in New Orleans after Katrina radicalized him and is probably the most interesting segment of the six interviews done up to this point of the tour. Also, of course there is the standard question about the US elections.(27 minutes.)
*Capital Terminus Collective in Atlanta, Georgia: Interview with three members of the Capital Terminus Collective in Atlanta, Georgia. Interview covers hospital privatizations, housing, police corruption, segregation of the working class and ends with the usual question about the US election.(40 minutes.)
*Patrick in Miami, Flordia: Patrick of the Black Mangrove Collective was interviewed about struggles in that city and the political background. The interview covers everything from the difficulties of operating in a city where right wing Cuban exiles dominate the political landscape to community struggle for housing and organizing in trailer parks.(20 minutes.)
*Ashanti Alston in Sarasota, Florida: Ashanti Alston Omowali is an anarchist activist, speaker, and writer, and former member of the Black Panther Party. He was a Black Liberation Army political prisoner for over 12 years. His speech the All Power to the Imagination conference in Sarasota, Florida was recorded.(40 minutes.)
*James Schmidt in Gainesville, Florida: An interview with James Schmidt of the Civic Media Center infoshop in Gainsville, central Florida. Interview covers student town, recession, CMC origins, IWW, homelessness, organic farms and farmwork and the elections.(26 minutes.)
*Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: Issues covered include the anarchist history of the city, transport cuts, current anarchist and left activity and of course their take on the US elections.(12 minutes.)*Chris and Mike in Detroit, Michigan: A look at the radical history of Detroit and current anarchist activity in the city. Covers the period from the Congress of Industrial Organization (CIO) upsurge and the mass migration to Detroit from the south, Black liberation movement and influence of Marxism and Leninism to the formation of Anti-Racist Action (ARA). They also talk about issues in the city today and the formation of the new group Solidarity and Defense.(40 minutes.)
*A city in ruins.Kieran in Minneapolis, Minnesota: He talks about employment in the 'Twin Cities' the loss of union jobs, the 1934 strike and Bloody Friday, the co-op movement in 60's and 70's, the American Indian Movement and Wounded Knee/Pine Ridge, influence of British anarchist groups and the formation of Love and Rage, Profane Existence and the punk scene and organizing against the Republican National Convention and of course the elections.(18 minutes.)*Rogue in Seattle, Washington: A range of topics that included the legend of Seattle, gentrification and public housing, prison abolition, left bank books, hoping freight trains, homeless at 15, punk vs nazi fights in North Carolina, IWW struggle to unionize Austin co-op, Class Action Alliance and Environmental activism, ACT-UP and condoms in prisons.(40 minutes.)
*Christa in Olympia, Washington: Interview with Class Action Alliance member and sex worker activist Christa. She talks about work in Olympia, homelessness, the port blockades of war equipment, ICE raids/ sanctuary city, local anarchist activity, the Utopian Design Collective and primitivism, sex workers in Seattle, going to the DNC and RNC mobilizations.(14 minutes.)
*May Day in Olympia IWW (Mark, Kate and Nathan) in Eugene, Oregon: Interview with IWW members Mark, Kate, Nathan in Eugene, Oregon. issues covered include local industry, gentrification of downtown, decline of radical organizing, what remains, anarchism in Eugene today, the decline of primitivism, the IWW, and organising hippie businesses.(14 minutes.)*Amanecer in San Jose, California: An interview with four members of Amanecer in San Jose. They talk about tech jobs and the service sector, history of police brutality, poor being pushed out of the city, referendum to abolish rent control, cop watch and De Bug, the flea market, left in San Jose, the furious 5, formation of Amanecer, and work in social movements.(26 minutes.)====================

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