It took “less than a minute” (Grand Jury Hearings vol. V, p.272 [subsequent references by volume and page number]) according to (then) Officer Darren Wilson for him to kill Michael Brown. In that moment, the relations of force that the police—meaning the entire apparatus of social control—try to prevent us from seeing became starkly visible. Ferguson has become a symbol because it depicts the ongoing strength of white supremacy. The grand jury’s refusal to indict makes this system visible.
In both its devastation and possibility, Detroit is an outpost from our collective future. Long-term struggles on the ground throw our cities, our work, and our lives into a new light. In Detroit, racial, economic, and environmental justice are understood in the global context of empire, neoliberalism, and climate disaster. People think of revolutionary time in decades and centuries, rather than in days and months. In Detroit, it’s all about “visionary organizing.”
The city is the dreamworld of capitalist civilization; as the economic foundations of that civilization crumble, what do we do with the physical and imaginative ruins? What would it mean to bid the dream of the city farewell, and envision a different kind of collective landscape beyond the divide between urban and rural? The conditions for the Plan are ripe, and the securing of space will be essential.
Debt is an exemplary form of capital accumulation today, operating through a new regime of self-managed exploitation imposed on poor women in the South as much as student debtors in the north. Practices of commoning–mutual aid networks, pooled resources, shared caring activities–are essential to resisting debt and reproducing non-capitalist forms of living.
At a moment of movement impasse, what lessons could Occupy learn from the radical community organizing tradition pioneered by SNCC in the early sixties? Long-term, locally embedded relationship-building and leadership development at the neighborhood level were key principles that allowed SNCC to mobilize people on the ground in ways that were expansive and empowering.
Combined with more familiar forms of colonial rule, debt is a disciplinary mechanism control in the occupied territories exercised in different ways by Israel, international donors, and modernizing Palestinian elites. Boycott, divestment and sanctions can thus be a crucial supplementary frame for building global solidarity with the Palestinian freedom struggle. What debts does the world owe Palestinians?