On February 20, 2021, Berliners came together in one of the busiest streets of Neukölln, which is home to a community of migrants hailing from all over the world, but especially migrants from the Middle East and North Africa. Organized by several leftist, anti-fascist, and anti-racist syndicates, people from a range of positionalities came together to publicly remember the nine victims of a far-right extremist attack on two shisha bars in the city of Hanau that took place one year ago on February 19. Long forgotten by mainstream German media, demonstrators marched through the district repeating the names of those killed—Hamza Kurtović, Kaloyan Velkov, Mercedes Kierpacz, Fatih Saraçoğlu, Sedat Gürbüz, Vili Viorel Păun, Ferhat Unvar, Gökhan Gültekin, Said Nesar Hashemi—with righteous anger and intention. In a beautiful speech read in German, English, Arabic, and Turkish, they pronounced the structural nature of the violence against those identified as refugees, migrants, and immigrants in Europe against a dominant narrative that dismisses the Hanau massacre as an Einzelfall, or an isolated incident.
“Widerstand überall! Hanau war kein Einzelfall!” “Resistance everywhere! Hanau was not an isolated incident!”
It is March 12, 2021, and I am riding home to Queens over the pockmarked industrial roads of eastern Mott Haven. I am crestfallen, having just had to tell a regular whom I bring food to that our mutual aid organization is running out of funds to keep up the grocery delivery system we’ve had going now for a year. For a year, we’ve been able to bring groceries and supplies to some of the members of our community most marginalized and most harmed by covid. I’ve been delivering to this individual nearly from the beginning. I always knew the funds would eventually dry up, that the initial outpouring of generosity last April would give way to ennui and normalization. It doesn’t make it any easier. I promise her that I will figure out something, that I will keep visiting and bringing any food I can scrounge up from local food banks and the like, but unfortunately, it won’t be quite as robust.Continue reading “Mutual Aid: A Feel-Bad Story”
This article was originally published in French on Le Monde on March 4, 2021.
Translator’s Note: In the past two months, Emmanuel Macron’s Minister of Higher Education and Research, Frédérique Vidal, has commenced a witch-hunt against French universities. Under the unfortunate title of “Islamo-leftism,” she is attacking academics whose research is located in the field of “postcolonial studies.” The charge against them is that they threaten the unity of French society. Macron is following along the dangerous footsteps of Orban, Duda, and Bolsonaro—to name only a few—in curtailing academic freedom. The text translated below is a petition drafted by academics from the United States and elsewhere expressing their concerns with the steps taken by Vidal.
Bilingual poet and scholar Patrick Sylvain’s book-length collection of English/Haitian Creole poems — Unfinished Dreams / Rèv San Bout — from which the following sequence is drawn “investigates the unrealized personal and sociopolitical aspirations of Haitians, both at home and in the diaspora,” writes Sylvain. The motivating figure that limns and permeates these poetic reflections is the “unfinished.” Through it, Sylvain elaborates a range of historical, political, social, ecological, and formal poetic claims and wagers. The Haitian Revolution (1791–1804) — an impertinent attack on global capital for which, Sylvain explains, the Haitian people continue to be punished — haunts this work, as a paradigmatic forbearer of all that remains to be done. Utilizing a wide array of formal constraints and poetic conceits gleaned from a variety of literary and cultural traditions, Sylvain is writing against enforced and encrusted ideas of prestige and class that obstinately attach to Haitian Creole as a language of aesthetic and intellectual production.
The following poems are interspersed with excerpts from Sylvain’s essay “Bilingual Existence and the Portals of Translation.” Listen to Sylvain reading his poems in both languages on the barricade/ramparts SoundCloud.
More selected poems from Unfinished Dreams / Rèv San Bout will appear in Barricade’s forthcoming Summer 2021 issue, where Sylvain will discuss his poetic engagement with historical and contemporary Haitian life.
Barricade: A Journal of Antifascism and Translation is looking for a page designer to assist with laying out our print copy for the next issue. While it is not a paid position (no positions at Barricade are), we may be able to subsidize the subscription to InDesign for the duration of the project, and you will be recognized in both the online and print versions. The page designer will be responsible for laying out submissions following our established style guide (using templates from previous issues) and will work with our publisher to prepare the final copy for print publication. Candidates will need to have familiarity with InDesign and a strong commitment to antifascism.
This role will require you to be available to work 10 hours per week during May and early June 2021. Your working hours will be largely at your discretion.
Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and attach a CV if you’re interested.
Following the dissolution of Yugoslavia, the main part of which proceeded in several stages from 1980 to 1992, the newly minted independent countries were granted the opportunity to try their hands at democracy.
The year 1992 saw the first parliamentary elections in Croatia, which were held in the approximate form as they still are today—i.e., citizens voted to fill the seats of around 150 representatives or deputies to serve in a unicameral parliament, the so-called Sabor. These seats would be re-filled every four years by direct popular vote. The aforementioned number of representatives is the first burning issue regarding the Croatian political system; specifically, for a country that is roughly the size of New York State and whose total population is estimated at just over 4 million, the figure is a tad too high, leaving plenty of room for (or perhaps occasioning) manipulation and corruption.
The climate change crisis demands of us a reevaluation of the connection between the local and the global. Meanwhile, the pandemic has given rise to a renaissance of mutual aid efforts around the globe. In India, response to laws targeting smaller farmers in favor of corporations ultimately brought about what may have been the largest general strike in the history of the world.
Ramparts: A Barricade Forum is currently seeking contributions for our next themed series, “Local Activism/Global Fascism”. We are interested in submissions–whether textual, visual, or multimedia–that address the connection between local issues and larger-scale authoritarianisms from a variety of angles. From detailed descriptions of how day-to-day activism has been affected by large structural forces to commentaries on unexpected international parallels, we’re excited to use our platform to highlight relationships of scale.
Send your submissions and pitches to email@example.com.
January 20, 2021, a new president—an old politician—is peaceably inaugurated in Washington, D.C., against a backdrop of proliferating fears, lurid fantasies, familiar rhetorical flourishes, fatiguing analyses, blurry concepts, and weird events. Partisans and observers leverage the language of exceptionalism (‘this is unprecedented’) and inevitability (‘this is a logical culmination of…’) in an attempt to get a grip on what is, what has been going on. What to call the actions of a collection of citizens who broke and entered upon what is ostensibly their own property, with the aim of interrupting the affirmation of what is also ostensibly their own will? ‘This is unprecedented’—but then again, no: these griefs, this disunity is nothing new. These are the energies summoned and solicited by the democratic organization of a polity, a polity that has never been united, and they are not unusual. The ordinariness of sometimes, often, incandescent divisions is one thing that we had hoped to elaborate in the context of this election : series. To move beyond the defensive posture of jaded wonder coupled with a smug ‘I told you so’ at the state of things. That, and to gather together as broad a picture as we could of the overdetermined fulcra that democratic elections are: the fierce, anguished, conflictual, historically determined energies that are brought to bear on a week, a day, a decision, a draft legal document, a legislative body, and that are meant to result in a series of actions and policies that answer, mollify, or reward these energies.
On October 2, 2016, Colombians were asked to endorse or reject a proposed peace agreement between the Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia–People’s Army (FARC–EP) guerrilla group. Though the peace agreement would not redress the country’s rampant poverty and economic inequality (Colombia is the second-most unequal country in Latin America), nor would it bring a sudden end to armed conflict (many guerrillas and paramilitary groups are still active, like the National Liberation Army (ELN)), it did contain several bright spots: it would bring peace to a considerable portion of the countryside; it would return land illegally seized during the conflict; it promised to subsidize economic losses incurred by the replacement of illegal albeit extremely profitable coca or poppy crops with legal albeit less profitable agricultural activities, by offering credits for land acquisition to the rural population; it opened up the space for the formation and consolidation of social movements, many of which were able to participate directly in the negotiations; it would mean the end of hostilities between the government and the FARC, whose members would undergo a process of socioeconomic reincorporation into civilian life; and it promised recognition, truth, and reparations for the many victims of the country’s war crimes by establishing a new transitional and restorative justice system.
The shockwaves of the referendum still reverberate through much of Colombia’s social and political landscape. What happened on October 2, 2016, determined the country’s future agenda in terms of land distribution, the illegal drug trade, gender relations, transitional justice, political rhetoric, and the demands of the rural population.
A society of solidarity and care emerging in response to state incompetence and repression enters the stage of military dictatorship at the outset of 2021. After five months of sustained peaceful protests, the number of people taking part in weekly marches is now waning as a result of poor weather, exhaustion, emigration, and pandemic spread; increasing are the networks of horizontal organization and solidarity initiatives from below. From August 2020 to January 2021, the Belarusian state and society have undergone several rapid metamorphoses: on the level of the state, a shift from state-capitalism with soft-authoritarian constitutional rule to a military dictatorship; on the level of civil society, a mass transformation of individuals into citizens and political subjects, active in a horizontal self-governance without leaders; on the level of gender relations, a crack in the hegemony of patriarchy; on the level of the protest movement, a morphing of an uprising into a revolution. If the August election presented an occasion for this process, prepared by the global context (such as the COVID pandemic and economic crisis) and local forces (such as the erosion of the welfare state and generational change), it was an event following that election that spurned this sustained protest movement. The riot police and other forces of the repressive state apparatus unleashed a wave of terror unprecedented in post-Soviet Belarus. What followed was a sustained act of defiance and resistance. A protest against fraudulent elections turned into a revolutionary resistance because in the terror actions that followed, the state authorities became identical with its repressive apparatus. It became clear that the police forces, riot police in particular, have been trained, sustained, privileged, and subsidized in the society with the sole purpose of doing exactly what they did—exercise brutality on the citizens—while fully believing themselves justified to do so, seeing themselves as the true citizens and rulers of the country. As it turned out in retrospect, protesters’ demand for the end of police violence and to hold those responsible for the crimes accountable amounted to a demand to overturn the entire system, because the system based on police violence was built in the course of the past 26 years since the democratic election of Aleksandr Lukashenko in 1994, who has retained the office of presidency since then. In other words, the Belarusian protest expressed a refusal to live in a country in which such terror is a possibility at all, which was tantamount to a revolutionary demand to remake a society as a whole.
At the time of this writing, over thirty thousand people have been detained (most on charges of violating the law on mass gatherings stipulated in Article 23.34), countless people have either left or were forced to leave the country, over 150 people are considered political prisoners, and several are dead since election day on August 9, 2020. The demands of the protesters have not changed: end police repression; release all political prisoners; hold new, fair elections. In the past five months, the protest movement has adopted neither a cohesive political program nor a geopolitical orientation. The world, and the post-Soviet sphere in particular, is following with a keen eye and a series of questions suspended in the air: Is governance without legitimacy, based solely on a repressive apparatus, possible? If so, how? Is peaceful protest insufficient for revolutionary transformation? When the times comes, will the forms of protest, characterized by solidarity, horizontality, and leaderlessness, subordinate or be subordinated by the content of oppositional politicians with the hegemonic neoliberal agenda waiting at bay? The Belarusian revolution has provided an alternative to the color revolutions in the region in the mode of its protest; will it provide an alternative in the mode of its politics? In what follows, I provide a timeline of the events, not so much from the point of view of heroes, a series of heroic actions, or sacrifices by the Belarusian civil society—of which there are many—but from the point of view of the dynamism of the protest with respect to the repression of the authorities that both suppresses and stimulates it. The meaning of these events, no doubt, is determined retroactively from the standpoint of January 2021—i.e., the events that appeared decisive from the standpoint of September have changed their meaning by January—and the current standpoint is characterized by the stalemate between the oppressive apparatus and peaceful protest. While the record of these events also serves an archival purpose, the standpoint of dynamism of the mass movement from which this story is told also serves as a reminder that any stalemate or disappearance of resistance is only apparent, so long as the causes of the resistance persist.