ISSN 2327-3666

December 10, 2013

Radical Critique Annual Review 2013

Featured Paper Abstracts

Is Africa Merely an Effect? - by Cyril-Mary Pius Olatunji
There have been hot debates over the issue of colonialism in Africa and several theories have emerged from the debates. The Afro-pessimism of Achile Mbembe, the conceptual decolonisation theories and the African exceptionality argument of Kwasi Wiredu, the introspectism of Anyiam-Osigwe, the self-reliancism project, even the recently re-ignited slavery blame debate, the search for indigenous knowledge system, the renaissance project, are all efforts to explain or to confront the effects of colonialism on Africa. Much of these previous debates however, centred on the assumption that it is either true or false that colonialism or the postcolonial African political leaders have caused the present political and economic crises of Africa. Rather than merely taking side on the debates, this paper has approached the problem from a different perspective in order to address a much-neglected epistemological issue, by raising a fundamental epistemological question that opened up some other dimensions of the problem. 

This analysis challenges the discourse of The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness. Drawing on previous research and historical literature it offers an in-depth discussion of the flawed contextual framework and fundamental problems of The New Jim Crow. It establishes that The New Jim Crow paradoxically excludes an analysis of mass incarceration’s most central and defining factors, its most salient, affected and revolutionary voices (especially the voices of African Americans), and shows how the book engages in a paradoxical counterrevolutionary protest that misleads readers about the context, causes and possible remedial methods of mass incarceration in the United States. In extension, it suggests that readers, students and would-be agents of social change move “toward d√©tournement of The New Jim Crow," or, toward an understanding of "the strange career of The New Jim Crow"- and of it's associated writers.

Recent Article Entries 
The evidence for the presence of thermite at the World Trade Center (WTC) on 9/11 is extensive and compelling. This evidence has accumulated to the point at which we can say that WTC thermite is no longer a hypothesis, it is a tested and proven theory. Therefore it is not easy to debunk it. But the way to do so is not difficult to understand.

As a faceless PhD student in a social science-y department, I repeatedly catch myself with the strangest metaphors to describe my research experience. The latest one is of academic work as a love relationship with a RealDoll: a lifestyle requiring sustained commitment and a rich (puppetry) skill set, to spin a tapestry of memories around an elegantly irrelevant act of masturbation.

Noam Chomsky and the Willful Ignorance of 9/11 - by Kevin Ryan
In response to a question at the University of Florida recently, Noam Chomsky claimed that there were only “a miniscule number of architects and engineers” who felt that the official account of WTC Building 7 should be treated with skepticism. Chomsky followed-up by saying, “a tiny number—a couple of them—are perfectly serious.”...If signing your name and credentials to a public petition on the subject means being serious, then Noam Chomsky’s tiny number begins at 2,100, not counting scientists and other professionals. Why would Chomsky make such an obvious exaggeration when he has been presented with contradictory facts many times?

In Defense of Radicalism - by Jeff Shantz
In the present period few terms or ideas have been as slandered, distorted, diminished, or degraded as radical or radicalism. This is perhaps not too surprising given that this is a period of expanding struggles against state and capital, oppression and exploitation, in numerous global contexts. In such contexts, the issue of radicalism, of effective means to overcome power (or stifle resistance) become pressing. The stakes are high, possibilities for real alternatives being posed and opposed. In such contexts activists and academics must not only adequately understand radicalism, but defend (and advance) radical approaches to social change and social justice.

The United States of War: An Addiction to Imperialism - by Solomon Comissiong
The U.S. is Number One is weapons of war and domestic civilian gun deaths – and very little else. Historically, peace has not been a priority for the United States, which has waged war every decade since 1776. “The people must demand an end to war, not because it costs trillions of dollars, but because it cost millions of lives.”

Several leading American mainstream journalists say that the US government is lying about 9/11 and the so-called war on terror. Unfortunately, media owners and editors won't let them report their findings...Recently, Seymour Hersh, America's top mainstream investigative reporter, broke the news that the US government's claim to have killed Osama Bin Laden on May 2nd, 2011 is “a big lie. There is not one word of truth in it.” 

Far from alleviating poverty in the Global South, the American Peace Corps locks marginalized communities into a global web of capitalist exploitation. On March 1, 1961, President John F. Kennedy signed executive order 10924 which formally created the American Peace Corps (APC). Since its inception, the American Peace Corps has sent over 210.000 Americans abroad to 139 different countries with the intent of “promoting world peace and friendship.” Like many Americans, I knew very little about the workings of this organization. It wasn’t until I met a starry eyed graduate in Bangkok, Thailand who could only wax poetics about helping the poor set up businesses and take out micro-loans, that I felt I needed to find out more.

On September 24, President Barack Obama gave a major address at the United Nations General Assembly at its annual meeting....This speech came at a time of fluid change in the world and especially in the Middle East. Masses have risen up in their millions, seeking a way out. Different forces with different programs—including extremely reactionary ones—have been contending.

Reports are that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is engaged in a massive, covert military buildup. An article in the Associated Press in February confirmed an open purchase order by DHS for 1.6 billion rounds of ammunition. According to an op-ed in Forbes, that’s enough to sustain an Iraq-sized war for over twenty years. DHS has also acquired heavily armored tanks, which have been seen roaming the streets. Evidently somebody in government is expecting some serious civil unrest. The question is, why?

ROOM 220: Is 'New Jim Crow' The Old White Supremacy? - by Gahiji Barrow
The New Jim Crow has captivated many Americans’ attention since it was published in 2010. Michelle Alexander has become the poster woman for ending the drug war and mass incarceration, for policy reform and for mass movement organizing. She wrote this book for liberals like her to alert them that this system—in which people are being targeted, criminalized, stereotyped to support popular complacent consent for criminalization, incarcerated, and then denied full citizenship upon release—is a legacy to the racial caste system that was Jim Crow. While this I believe to be true, I also believe that there is more to unfold in the story than Alexander has presented in her book.

With all the furor over the revelations about the NSA’s spying and its massive overreach in collecting our data, another big spying scandal has gotten less attention: the massive corporate culling—and selling—of our personal information to, basically, other corporations. We now live in the era of Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram and Foursquare, where millions of us willingly share personal information, rendering old notions of privacy obsolete. And now, many are turning a blind eye as corporations become increasingly cavalier about obtaining the information we don’t actively volunteer.

For the Italian Marxist Antonio Gramsci, hegemony was not something that was necessarily attained through force or economic power. Gramsci instead wrote about a form of power that was more subtle and covert in nature: he emphasized the large role of cultural institutions which through ideologically impregnated imagery unconsciously shape our value systems. We not only give our consent to this process, but most of the time actually enjoy such experiences and are even willing to invest our time and a lot of money into it.

The Occupy Wall Street movement is raising new questions about an emerging form of authoritarianism in the United States, one that threatens the collective survival of vast numbers of people, not through overt physical injury or worse but through an aggressive assault on social provisions that millions of Americans depend on. 

Although his fans will argue otherwise, Christopher Jordan Dorner was neither a Nat Turner nor a Spook Who Sat by the Door...Nat Turner was a leader of men, who inspired approximately 70 enslaved and free Black men in a glorious attempt to overthrow the slave system in Virginia, in 1831. The rebellion that goes by his name was a collective struggle that shook the slavocracy to its core, and one of the few U.S. slave revolts that was not betrayed by informers. Christopher Dorner enlisted no one in his fatal and solitary vendetta against those he felt had done him personal harm. He died alone trying to hide his huge Black self in a mostly white mountain recreation area, leaving behind a “manifesto” that was mainly about himself and his service to the national and local armed forces.

It was an impassioned performance by a cynical politician who offers little but corporate tax incentives and continued austerity. Barack Obama peppered his State of the Union address with up-tempo buzzwords about illusory “progress,” but the president’s substantive message was that he is determined to complete the austerity bargain he struck with the Republicans in 2011. Thus, it is a sign of “progress” that “we are more than halfway towards the goal of $4 trillion in deficit reduction that economists say we need to stabilize our finances” – meaning, he will collaborate with the GOP in cutting almost $2 trillion more.

"...the hip hop being endorsed appears wildly detached from the political history and goals of a discipline born out the 1960’s Civil Rights and Black Power movements. The language appearing on the department’s website makes clear that this version of hip hop excludes “stereotypical gangster and drug culture,” but it also excludes the radical politics of hip hop/Black Studies in favor of odes to multiculturalism. No mention of anti-racism or anti-colonalism; no references to Afrocentricism or Black feminism—this is the hip hop studies of Will Smith and MTV, not Rebel Diaz, dead prez, or Immortal Technique."

Increases in prison construction under Stephen Harper’s Conservative government pave the way for an ever-expanding prison population followed by a persistently growing pool of offenders to ensure prison beds will be filled. This phenomenon of prison expansionism is outlined in Thomas Mathiesen’s (1986) classical text on abolitionism. 

In California, the past several months have witnessed one of the most impressive prison struggles in recent memory. For 21 days in July and 17 in September/October of 2011, thousands of prisoners participated in a hungerstrike against torture. Despite not winning all of their demands, the prisoners won politically, transforming the terrain on which they, and we, must organize our next move.