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Now is the Time? Now is the Time! The Potential of the Gulf Coast Crisis
by St. Louis @'s
Saturday, Sep. 03, 2005 at 8:02 PM
Now is the Time? Now is the Time!
The Potential of the Gulf Coast Crisis: Points for Discussion and Intervention
Now is the Time? Now is the Time!
The Potential of the Gulf Coast Crisis: Points for Discussion and Intervention
We wrote this text because we felt the level of discussion regarding the aftermath of hurricane Katrina needs to move beyond the rhetoric of cheering or condemning looters, cheering or condemning the authorities, or simply crying for the victims. "Oh my god, I can't believe this is happening," or "I told you so," or "People are dying!" just send us talking in circles. We want the U.S. (and possibly the world) to launch into the unknown- the total breakdown of the social order- and then continue pushing for a self-organized society.
In wanting this, we encourage drawing out and publicly defending the liberatory activities of the last 6 days and deepening this social rupture by refusing to confine it to the Gulf Coast. Our idea of how: implement concrete forms of solidarity that do not just focus on defense, but on attack.
RIGHT NOW, THE SYSTEM IS EXTREMELY VULNERABLE.
* We are experiencing one one of the largest disruptions of the capitalist economy and the social order since perhaps the L.A.-fueled urban rebellions that rippled across the country in 1992.
* Morale among the authorities is low: One-third of the N.O. police force has deserted and the rest are operating with limited vehicles, fuel, weapons, and communications, National Guardsmen are openly questioning their intervention both in N.O. and Iraq, the N.O. Mayor has broken down publicly...
* Faith and trust in the federal and state authorities is evaporating as aid and rescue resources are strangely absent or diverted. Meanwhile, world watches the starving locals on the nightly news. The National Guard is physically blocking ordinary citizens trying drive aid into N.O.. Bush has his lowest approval rating ever. His rhetoric of 'death to the looters' confuses most people who have, in the last few days, began to sympathize with the looting (see next point). Disgust with the government, and perhaps with government itself, grows.
* Growing defense of unlawful acts. Many everyday Americans are breaking from their lawful routine to justify the looting. As the definition of crime (and survival) shifts, agents of social control begin to weaken.
* A second crisis is threatening the stability of the system: rising gasoline prices. People are asking, when will it stop, who is responsible, and why even pay? Gas theft has skyrocketed and street protests against the hikes are rumbling across the country. This is creating a double crisis and people are mobilizing with the regime up against the wall. Not to mention the military stalemate in Iraq. Can the system be overloaded to the point of collapse? How can we best participate in these crises?
FOLKS IN LOUISIANA AND MISSISSIPPI HAVE RECOGNIZED THIS VULNERABILITY AND ARE ACTIVELY ASSAULTING IT.
* They are physically attacking the social order. The stories of gunfights, arson, and looting keep surfacing: in New Orleans, organized and sporadic attacks on police stations, officers, and National Guard units since the time the hurricane hit (before the flooding) and now fires set to buildings, many of them previously untouchable in the eyes of the poor; and then there is the looting (most notably, guns to carry out further attacks on the system) on a scale far greater than what South Central L.A. experienced in 1992.
* They are undermining capital's dominant social relations. Mass looting throughout the Gulf Coast, some of it quite pre-meditated and some of it outside of the hurricane path. Every account reads as a festive (or nervous) atmosphere with every sector of the population partaking: black, white, Latino, men, women, children, old, young, and even cops and wealthy tourists. The normal forms of exchange have been abandoned and large free markets have been reported on the neutral ground (the median) down some New Orleans streets. And it's not just a big 'fuck you' to those who profit from their needs, but also a defiant stance that everyone is entitled to enjoy themselves- what some would call 'excesses:' beer, televisions, etc.
* The breakdown is spreading: reports of widespread looting in New Orleans, Baton Rouge, Lafayette, Biloxi, Gulfport, and Hattiesburg and now signs that Memphis and Houston may soon face unrest with all the refugees from N.O.
IF NOW IS THE TIME, THEN WHAT TO DO? (SOME POINTS TO DISCUSS, MODIFY, AND, OF COURSE, ACT UPON)
* Refugees coming to your town? The most significant difference between the L.A. revolt and that of New Orleans, is that L.A. still exists. So far we have seen looting spread to areas where the refugees are sent, so this seems the most obvious way to expand the attack. People used to one week of not paying for anything (and gunfights with the police) of course find it psychologically difficult to walk into a store and revert back to paying (or obey the police)- any petty thief can tell you this. Here in St. Louis, authorities have decided to house hundreds of refugees in an (not-so-) old county jail. Enough said.
* Target the agencies responsible for the brutal neglect and murder of the people of New Orleans. Salvation Army, Red Cross, FEMA, all U.S. Military branches, etc. (More perpetrators keep being uncovered- e.g. Outback Steakhouse was reported to be serving food to rescue workers but denying food to the refugees in central Louisiana.)
* Provide solidarity with 'insurgents' in N.O. It is a very real possibility that the next week will see the federal government engaged in a guerilla conflict with citizens intent on defending their city. Solidarity could means vocal support, material support, and/or attack on our own terrain to spread the insurgency and weaken the forces of order. Any revolt, no matter how wonderful, will suffocate if it's not spread. Their fight is our fight- refuse to be divided from and condemned by potential comrades.
* Be careful what you take from the media reports. Don't believe the government statements. First-hand accounts and even on-the-ground corporate media reports provide a vastly different story than the official line. And it is those stories that must surface so we can't be divided into bad looters and good looters, armed gangs and rescuers, unemployed and workers, etc.
* Harness the sudden spirit of mutual aid. Outsiders are offering help for the displaced. Feelings of mutual aid not only pervade in the looted street markets of battered N.O., but also in those who were not there. But, as usual, it is mostly misdirected to paternalistic aid organizations (Red Cross and Salvation Army- both of which have abandoned the survivors), though housing offers seem to be bypassing these large organizations.
- a handful of St. Louis' unwanted children of capital
September 3, 2005
* This is the result of discussions between comrades here in St. Louis over the last 6 days concerning the situation just down-river from us- discussions which will no doubt continue. We want to encourage a breaking out of discussions across the country on the implications and potentialities of the post-catastrophe situation in America. This is a hastily written text that we acknowledge has many gaps. Please help us fill them and share any discussions you have had with comrades in your city, whether it be inside or outside the Gulf region. If you want to respond to us directly, please do so as a 'comment' here:
Excellent. I agree.
Saturday, Sep. 03, 2005 at 8:23 PM
History backs you up.
Katrina Marches on Washington?
Sunday, Sep. 04, 2005 at 4:53 AM
A thought. Which would be backed up with my complete, in-person, suppport, if there is serious interest in making this thought a reality. I am not currently close enough to NO to start the ball myself.
Evidence of bureaucratic failures in the handling of Katrina are starting to piss a lot of people off.
The fact that hotels are not offering - even temporarily - free rooms to refugees... the gas gouging... the depiction of survival as "looting"...
All of these issues clearly illustrate the fact that "Profit Over People" is not right or acceptable, at least in this level humanity.
Those who have lost everything have nothing to lose.
Your're going to have to leave anyway...
WHY NOT MARCH ON WASHINGTON
Real people and the truly compassionate churches will undoubtedly line up to support those refugees marching to the White House from the disaster area. You're going to have to go somewhere, and you're probably not going to be working for quite awhile - why not get some fresh air and demand justice!
Our government has obviously misspent billions and billions of dollars and have made every effort to ignore your plight both before Katrina Hit and After.
Personally, I'd rather be Marching for Justice and the realignment of US Priorities than sitting in a sports complex with 25,000 people twiddling my thumbs.
Whata ya say?
Have anything better to do?
Any better place to go?
In the best country on earth they would have been prepared for this kind of disaster. In the best country on earth they would be handling the aftermath competently. In the best country on earth Red Tape and Profit would not be getting in the way of saving lives and dignity.
Walk outa there with your heads up and on a mission.
Have faith, and the support you need will materialize.
Encourage these groups to deliver info with the food to Organize Marchers. This will allow people all along thr route to to do their part insupporting the refugees.
Sunday, Sep. 04, 2005 at 5:19 AM
ORGANIZE with Food & water
The survivors may not know just how bad they've been deliberatly fucked. Give foof and thought to Marching on Washington.
by x ___ x ____ x
Sunday, Sep. 04, 2005 at 6:40 AM
notank.jpg, image/jpeg, 512x341
what's it going to take?
Why March Only on Washington?
by Smash Corporatism
Sunday, Sep. 04, 2005 at 7:48 AM
The primary problem with centralized marches is that not everyone can go to them. Why not march on Crawford as well? Why not find out the names of the hotel chains that ejected refugees and march on their local branch? Why not march on the Governor of LA too. Let's march all over the place.
the useless left[-over]
Sunday, Sep. 04, 2005 at 2:19 PM
Give me a fucking break. Marches? Is that all you can think of? People have lost asbolutely everything they have (which in most cases wasnt much tom begin with) and the only thing the fucking left-over can think of is another fucking meaningless march!?!
What will that accomplish? Nothing!
You guys are pathetic...
Sunday, Sep. 04, 2005 at 2:42 PM
I can't think of a less constructive way for these tens of thousands of dislocate and devestated families to spend their energy than in walking up the entire east coast to ask politicians for things (not to mention that DC is pretty much empty this time of year...maybe by the time they limped in, the politicians would be back from vacation?).
People in these communities need to use all their energy keep themselves together and rebuild their lives--and this will involve resisting military/corporate attempts to rebuild NO as a homogenised capitalist playground. We should use all our energy in solidarity with these efforts to construct new communities from the ground up.
The march on Washington idea goes completely counter to the spirit of the original article, which encourages an independent, insurrectionary and constructive spirit--not the familiar attitude of begging.
comment on trageting the agencies responsible-not Red Cross
Sunday, Sep. 04, 2005 at 4:39 PM
From what I can see, the Red Cross is doing everything they can to help. The Red Cross in BR has asked people to walk in and volunteer, and be trained on the spot.
Newspaper reports indicated that Red Cross volunteers with supplies were stopped by the National Guard and not allowed to deliver those supplies to the New Orleans area.
Along similar lines, it's been reported that the US has not (yet) accepted offers of aid to refugees which have come in from 50+ countries and organizations outside the US (though oil has been accepted).
Sunday, Sep. 04, 2005 at 5:03 PM
The news had a comment from a Salvation Army worker in Biloxi saying they were used to being the first ones there, but not the only ones--this report at least suggests that they were doing what they could.
not an advoke of pathetic meanless marches
Monday, Sep. 05, 2005 at 9:32 AM
Refuggee tent city in LaFayette Park & and a constructive eay fort these people to express themselves while the have nothing could be very valuable.
I'm not tsuggesting an organized "let's get together and march" kinda march.... but rather a steady stream of rufugees walking outa there.... sure beats sitting around putting yourself at the mercy of federal relief fucksups.
You can fend for yourself by sticking around waiting for help and trying to grab some food without getting shoot OR you can fend for yourself by walking the fuck out. might as well have a collective destination... people will come out to help....
This is what a real people sponsored (NO-ANSWER/NO-UFPF) action could look like.
Yjhe media and people, I believe, are ready to cover the real issues here. It's an opportunity.
on the march
by dyad member
Monday, Sep. 05, 2005 at 1:26 PM
It's critical to work on multiple diverse approaches simultaneously, especially in events of this magnitude. The march idea (as correctly understood) would mobilize the kind of outside supporters who are mad as hell but aren't quite ready to participate in the grassroots restructuring of society.
What's being proposed here is as different from your typical street march as the Bonus Army March on Washington was in 1932, and it would probably evoke the same kind of government response. This would be a serious mobilization.
I'm sure that there will be at least SOME people who will emerge from this disaster wanting to do something very much like this march on washington. But it would be difficult after what they've been through. Which is precisely why they'd need to know for sure, ahead of time, that they would be met with all the moral, logistical and material support they need from the outside. This is what the author of the Katrina March post is doing, personally offering his assistance and assurance of solidarity to anyone from the gulf coast who may be thinking along these lines.
Rather than preemptorily killing this idea, we should be joining the poster in making it clear to those who may be considering it that, whatever they want to do, however they want to do it, we'll be there with them and for them with provisions, reinforcements, places to stay, and whatever else they may require of us.
To answer the question "Where Do We Put The Refugees?"
Monday, Sep. 05, 2005 at 3:53 PM
I say: the white house lawn.
...so to speak.. because if they were actually on the white house lawn... they'd be shot....
LaFayette Park.. the Mall ... there's a lot of public space in washington...
shuttle busses could work for the impatient ..
Marches are less than useless
Tuesday, Sep. 06, 2005 at 5:47 PM
They accomplish nothing but distraction and give the false impression that "someone else" can and will set things right.
A more constructive use of energy would be to educate the displaced poor as to why they find themselves in such dire straights.
If you can get a truck of supplies to a tent city or other shelter, bring pamphlets and other literature that explain the role of capital in the distribution of wealth.
And if anyone so much as mentions Avakin, shoot them "on sight". The day fast approaches when avoiding another cult of personality clusterfuck will be a high priority.
by x ___ x ____ x
Wednesday, Sep. 07, 2005 at 12:22 PM
"We found a young girl raped and killed in the bathroom," one National Guard soldier told Reuters. "Then the crowd got the man and they beat him to death."
"... penned the storm victims outside in sweltering heat to keep them from trying to walk out of the city ..."
"People trying to walk out are forced back at gunpoint ... 'It's sad, but how far do you think they would get', one soldier said."
hmmmm... How Far Would They Get?
<a href="http://today.reuters.com/news/NewsArticle.aspx?type=topNews&storyID=uri:2005-09-04T010202Z_01_FOR373303_RTRIDST_0_NEWS-WEATHER-KATRINA-HELPLESS-DC.XML&pageNumber=0&summit=" target="_blank">SOURCE
repost from list serve
Thursday, Sep. 08, 2005 at 9:40 AM
To the Survivors of Katrina:
If you survived the hurricane, and our government’s attempt to kill you off by denying you aid that was surrounding New Orleans, you’ve probably made it from the Superdome to the Astrodome. Might I suggest that you also visit the Capitol dome?
The sad reality is that you have no job, and no home, and it’s very difficult to find work these days, so like it or not, the horror that your life has become might be as close as you’ll ever get to having a vacation.
It seems right now that the plan is to put the survivors of the Siege of New Orleans onto busses, and spread them out in anonymous homeless shelters across the nation, so they might be divided, and forgotten as quickly as possible.
I don’t think our government should be allowed to hide this crime. I think our government should live with this crime until it’s solved, to the satisfaction of the victims. They shouldn’t be permitted to continue with business as usual after yet another act of mass murder is sold to the public as “failures” or “incompetence.”
I think the people of New Orleans should march, en masse, to Washington D.C., and I’m sure that if they did, American citizens would provide them with everything they need along the way. Organize a march, state your route, and you will not want for the entire journey. Your fellow Americans will do a much better job of providing aid than the government did. Please don’t confuse the two. Our government obviously does not represent the people.
If you don’t organize this march, our government will put the white-wash machine into motion. The media will divert the public’s attention with a celebrity scandal, while a senator appoints an “independent commission” that will concentrate on hiding the blame.
The newspapers will print stories of Katrina survivors finding nice homes and good jobs, but every survivor you know will be sleeping on a cot long after the public has forgotten about them. It’s a matter of “speak now, or forever hold your peace,” because within a few months, the public will have lost interest in whatever drawn-out hearings result from this, and they’ll be back to watching “reality TV,” as an antidote to our poisoned reality.
What was also exposed in New Orleans is our society’s obvious disregard for poor people in general, and especially people of color.
Don’t let them bury the problems of our society until it’s time to bury more victims, and don’t let them white-wash this tragedy so the people can suffer another. Justice delayed, will most definitely result in justice being denied, and if they get away with it, they’ll do it again.
The flooding of New Orleans was completely preventable, but funding for levee repair was sent to Iraq. Food and water poured in from all across the nation, but our government stopped it from getting to the people who needed it.
The people of New Orleans should not let this be forgotten, and they should not let themselves be swept out of sight.
The people of New Orleans need to march to Washington D.C. right now. Camp on the White House lawn, and do your laundry in the reflecting pool. Washington D.C. needs to be invaded by the suffering its politicians have created, because that suffering will be ignored until Americans have to look it in the eye everyday. --- Jolly Roger
If anyone can get this message to survivors of Katrina, I would appreciate your help in doing so. Thanks. --J.R.