This issue was born in interesting times. As the first drafts rolled in, Toronto was shaken by the June mobilizations against the G20. When the dust settled and the charred shells of police cruisers had been scraped off the streets, hundreds of our comrades were behind bars and many were facing serious criminal charges. Most local activists spent the summer fundraising for legal defense, supporting the people in jail, organizing rallies, and countering the state’s PR machines. From en masse illegal searches and preemptive raids to conspiracy charges and draconian bail conditions repression was ubiquitous. In the media and the courts, the G20 Integrated Security Unit (ISU) used everything they could get their hands on as evidence against protestors. Including our books. A copy of Upping the Anti 5 appeared in a police display of “weapons” seized from activists during the protests, alongside ropes, goggles, gas masks, and props seized from an unsuspecting enthusiast en route to a live action role playing game. The ISU’s audacity made us snicker, but we agree on one thing: Upping the Anti is a weapon in the struggle.
The G20’s promise of an era of austerity has sparked debates about how radicals should orient to this moment. As we near the end of 2010 (a proclaimed year of resistance for activists in Canada), we’re confronted with a clear challenge: we lack a plan for a long-term, broad-based, sustained resistance. We’ve gotten the bill for the bailout of global capitalism; will it invigorate our movements or foster right-wing populism? In Toronto, we’re bracing ourselves for the mayoralty of newly elected conservative Rob Ford, a longstanding city councilor known for his xenophobic and homophobic outbursts. Whatever plan we choose, we’re in for a serious fight.
Fights are best prepared for with a dose of critical reflection. Issue 11 opens with our thoughts about violence. Focusing on the events of the anti-G20 convergence, we use our editorial pages to account for the two situations of violence that framed the protests: that of the OPP’s Integrated Security Unit, and the actions of the black bloc on June 26th. We analyze the strategic implications of these violences by locating social democrats’ denunciation of the black bloc in the history of organized labor. From where do current conceptions of violence derive, and how do they shape our political terrain? We turn to the idea of “non-violent direct action”—what is it, and in what ways does it necessitate specific forms of organization and production among activists? Strategically, to whom does non-violent direct action appeal? When and how do we come to terms with the violence implied and inherent in non-violent direct action?
Chandra Kumar kicks off our interviews section in conversation with food sovereigntist Raj Patel. Patel argues that food sovereignty is one in a series of “overlapping sovereignties” required by true democracy, and describes lessons that can be learned from decentralized, autonomous farmers’ movements in the global south. Next, Shelley Tremain interviews Ladelle McWhorter, an anti-racist feminist scholar and activist living in Virginia. McWhorter analyses the relationship between race, gender, and normalization, and argues that genealogy is an important tool for understanding modern power relations. In our final interview, Benjamin Holtzman and Craig Hughes speak with scholar James C. Scott about his research on everyday peasant politics. Scott contends that subtle forms of resistance, shaped into a shared culture among the oppressed, have significant implications for large-scale social change.
Our articles section begins with Lesley Wood’s account of anti-capitalist struggle in Toronto, which she presents to contextualize and assess anti-G20 convergence organizing. She argues that the “reconfigured networks” of local community organizing in the past five years paved the way for the particular story anti-summit organizers told to fuel the recent mobilization – one with consequences they did not fully anticipate. Next, John Clarke provides a retrospective on the tenth anniversary of the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty’s (OCAP) famous march on Queen’s Park. Clarke offers a detailed account of mobilization during the reign of Ontario’s former neoliberal Premier Mike Harris, illuminating the similarities and key differences between then and now. Clarke concludes with assessment of current forms of resistance – specifically the Toronto Workers Assembly and OCAP – and their hopes for achieving victory against austerity.
In our final article, Stacy Douglas offers an anti-racist analysis of queer activism in Britain. Douglas examines radical UK publisher Raw Nerve Books’ decision not to reprint an anthology of queer essays that included a piece that critiqued prominent gay rights activist Peter Tatchell’s alleged Islamophobia. She argues that Raw Nerve’s decision, and its subsequent defense by white queer activists, can be seen as an instance of white solidarity building – a dangerous political agenda that builds “good feeling,” by drawing upon legacies of racism and white supremacy. Douglas goes on to identify anti-racist agonism as a radical framework that might effectively intervene in such cases, while remaining mindful of the practical difficulties that such a framework entails.
In the first of our two roundtables, Sarita Ahooja, Fred Burrill and Cleve Higgins interview indigenous activists Joe Doem, Laura Norton, and Walter David, and non-native solidarity activist Carole Boucher, on the 20th anniversary of the “Oka Crisis.” Our second roundtable, convened by Thomas Nail, features four members of No One is Illegal-Toronto, who discuss the history, trajectory, and intent of their current Solidarity/Sanctuary City campaign, and the success of some sub-campaigns.
We are also pleased to bring you three timely book reviews. First, Tim McCaskell relates his own history of queer struggle to Gary Kinsman and Patrizia Gentile’s The Canadian War on Queers. Next, Chandra Kumar reviews Michael Keefer’s edited collection Antisemitism Real and Imagined, in which contributors analyze the motivations behind the Canadian Parliamentary Coalition to Combat Anti-Semitism. Etienne Turpin then unpacks Tiqqun’s An Introduction to Civil War, a book that has made waves across North America and Europe.
On the administrative side of things, we would like to thank Chandra Kumar for his work on our editorial committee as he moves over to our advisory board. We would also like to welcome Robyn Letson, Adrie Naylor, and Simon Wallace to our editorial committee and Eton Harris, Brett Story, and Elise Thorburn to our advisory board. Finally, we would like to extend our most sincere thanks to Caelie Frampton, Krisztina Kun, Emily van der Meulen, and Jessica Peart for their work on our advisory board as they move on to other projects.
Our introductory remarks would not be complete without our customary call for financial support. As you may know, Upping the Anti receives no external support from any government or educational institution, and is entirely funded by subscriptions, sales, and donations from our readers. Over the course of our first 10 issues, we have been able to squeak by in raising the $7000 that it costs to print and distribute each issue of the journal. Today, however, the compounding challenges of sustaining a purely volunteer project have led us to contemplate hiring a staff person.
The only way that we could pay a staff salary is through increasing the number of our monthly sustainers – people who pay $10 or $20 a month through PayPal or pre-authorized debit payments in support of the project. We are still short of our goal of signing up 100 sustainers; if this project is to grow beyond its current limits we need you more than ever. Please visit http://www.uppingtheanti.org to sign up!
If you know other activists in your organization or community who would benefit from reading and contributing to UTA, please get in touch with us to receive bulk copies at a 50 percent discount. If you order ten or more (either back issues or the current issue) copies are only five dollars each. Get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’re interested.
Finally, we’re looking for pitches for our next two issues. The deadline for pitches for UTA 12 is December 1, 2010, and the deadline for first drafts is January 6, 2011. The deadline for pitches for UTA 13 is May 1, 2011 and the deadline for article drafts is June 1, 2011. For more information, please visit our website at http://www.uppingtheanti.org.
We hope this new issue stimulates conversation and action, and we look forward to reading your pitches and letters.
In solidarity and struggle,
Kelly Fritsch, David Hugill, Tom Keefer, Sharmeen Khan, Clare O’Connor, Robyn Letson, Adrie Naylor, AK Thompson, Simon Wallace
Toronto, November 2010