After seeing the video of Laquan McDonald being killed in Chicago, it is time to say: police murder on video is now the hallmark of American visual culture. Let’s look away from the torn bodies, while learning that the videos still show us how the no one’s land where they died, which connects private and corporate property has become a featureless killing zone, emblematic of neo-liberal America.
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?