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This is How We Welcome You: “Try Hamilton” tries fucking itself

4Yesterday, a group of scumbags affiliated with local real estate companies organized a tour of Hamilton for a group of investors, with the goal of drawing in capital from outside the city. This project is called Try Hamilton and they describe their goals as a chance for entrepreneurs and developers to envision ‘city-changing’ possibilities. Shamelessly pro-gentrification, they talk about our neighbourhoods as blank slates, gloat about the money to be made if an area can be successfully ‘converted’ to a different kind of resident. Of course, for most of us, their financial wet dreams appear in our lives as violence, hunger, or eviction – and so of course we have to fight back against them.

5When the group of investors emerged from the Ti-Cats stadium, fresh off the inspiring words of the city’s mayor, and tried to board buses, they were met by a crowd of forty angry people who encouraged them to, rather than try Hamilton, try fucking themselves. With signs reading, “Gentrification is disgusting, you rich fucks are disgusting”, “who gets off on evicting families?” and “Fuck you for trying”, we met them with a wall of rage that showed them what the class war their investments drive can mean. (Continued)

The Most Important Thing: Reflections on Solidarity and the Syrian Revolution

This text is available as a zine for easy printing and distro: readable pdf and imposed booklet.

Better zine courtest of Ruines des Kapitals

“The most important thing,” my friend said on our way home, “is to destroy the state. The Syrian revolution went very far and a big reason for this is that we were able to completely destroy the state in many areas. Even if we can’t prevent the counter revolution, destroying the state makes whatever comes after much weaker.”

My friend was an active participant in the first few years of the Syrian revolution, and we had just spent the evening at Leila al-Shami and Robin Yassin-Kassab’s speaking tour for their book Burning Country: Stories of Syrians in Revolution and War. These two authors, based in the UK, spoke passionately about the various revolutionary projects that unfolded in Syria between 2011 and 2013 and that continue struggling to survive today, under the bombs and indifference of the world. A few days earlier, we’d also attended a talk by Paul Z Simons describing his experiences travelling to Rojava, the majority-Kurdish areas in what used to be northern Syria. Paul compared his motivations for travelling to Rojava to those of anarchists around the world who travelled to Spain in the 30s – describing Rojava1 as the most significant anarchist revolution since that time, he has been travelling North America trying to inspire direct support among western radicals.

These two tours both offered anarchist perspectives on Syria and yet their narratives were surprisingly different – on our walk to the bus station, we dug into those differences and tried to understand them. In spite of their scale and commitment, the anarchic practices carried out by the Syrian revolution (not in Rojava) have been largely ignored by anarchists in the west, while Rojava has been widely, and often uncritically, celebrated. In light of rapidly changing events on the ground, as grassroots groups risk being decisively overshadowed by the maneuvers of states, it’s important to look more carefully at Rojava and the Syrian revolution to see where our solidarity should lie. This will help us support revolutionaries there in the years to come and also make sure that, in the present, anarchist support isn’t fuelling forces that divide and undermine revolutionary energy. (Continued)

Steal City: Thoughts on some everyday struggles in Hamilton

200 copies of this text were distributed as a beautiful zine during the May Day 2016 celebrations in Hamilton’s Beasley Park. PDF now available for download.

A Steal City…

Far and wide, Hamilton is known as the steel city. Historically, the largest producer of steel in the country, our solidly working-class city has been built around the steel industry. For better or worse, steel has been integral to what it means to be a Hamiltonian. Against this backdrop, we want to make a slightly different proposition – we propose that in practice Hamilton is a stolen city. Hamilton is a city built on the widespread theft of indigenous lands. Hamilton is a city where everyday bosses steal the profits made by their workers and landlords steal hard earned money from tenants. Hamilton is a city where politicians embezzle funds, as police rob us of our freedom and in some cases our lives. The only appropriate response to these realities is to take our city back. As part of this year’s annual May Day celebrations, the intentions of this modest publication are twofold – to call into question some of the taken-for-granted institutions and values that shape our city, and perhaps more importantly, to encourage action. Written by a handful of people inspired by anarchist ideas, the pages that follow discuss issues related to policing and immigration, the environment and colonization, violence, democracy, and private property. Against these systems of domination, we propose autonomy, solidarity, internationalism, and direct action as ways to build our collective power in this city.
(Continued)

There Are Cops on Your Facebook (yes, even in Hamilton) — “Sam Brown” is one of them

sam

This shouldn’t come as a surprise.

Police have a long history of creating and using fake social media accounts to track people, pages and events. The kicker? You don’t have to be masking up at demos or occupying oil facilities to earn their attentions. Just as much as they’ll lay charges if the opportunity presents itself, police exist on social media to glean more subtle information from political dissidents of all stripes and their pals – things like our personal networks, politics, current gossip, and moods.

With this information, police can more easily work out who’s organizing, who their friends and families are, and possibly even things like who to approach as an informant or where to place or start undercovers – on top of a slew of other things.

In other words: police are on there to capture the very essence of facebook, and their presence puts all of us at risk. No exceptions.

Now let’s talk specifics. Or one specific. (Continued)

Facing the Counter-Revolution: A review of Burning Country, by Robin Yassin-Kassab and Leila Al-Shami

“In 2011 and 2012, Syrians launched a popular revolution of enormous consequence and reach. New forms of organisation and expression emerged which reconfigured social relationships away from those based on hierarchy and domination towards the empowerment of individuals and communities. From 2013 on, however, these experiments were increasingly submerged by fierce counter-revolutionary trends, both Assadist and regional. War dismantled the country’s infrastructure and social fabric. Over half the population fled its homes. What does this mean for revolution as a desired end?” (219)

Anti-authoritarians Leila Al-Shami and Robin Yassin-Kassab look back over the past fifteen years of resistance movements in Syria, to understand the anarchistic currents that emerged during the revolution that began in 2011. Altough this revolution has gone farther than any other in recent memory, it is poorly understand and has received little support. With Burning Country: Syrians in Revolution and War, the authors seek to change that.

As they explain in the introduction, their goal is to increase our understanding of the Syrian revolution to encourage practical solidarity. They also draw many general conclusions about revolution, struggle, violence, organization, and authority that will be valuable to radicals in the Middle East and around the world in the rapidly changing terrain of the 21st century. (Continued)

Seven Years Against Prison

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New years in Southern Ontario wouldn’t be complete without a festive expression of our rage against prisons and the world which requires them. For the seventh year running, we brought the party to several local insitutions of control and isolation, in order to show those trapped inside for the holidays that they aren’t alone.

Traduction vers le français par La Solide

The first prison we visited was the Toronto South Detention Center, a newer prison located in Mimico which is still mostly empty. About 30 people came out from six cities in the area and created a huge ruckus with giant fireworks and a marching band. It was our first visit to Mimico and there was no response from police or prison officials, although there was a very enthusiastic response from those inside.

Our next stop was Barton, the local Jail in Hamilton and the site of new-years demos for the past seven years. Eighty or ninety people contributed to a fun and rowdy atmosphere outside the prison, and those stuck inside responded in kind. Participants shot off more giant fireworks, banged on drums, launched a small arsenal of paint bombs on three sides of the building (including the front door) and, when the paint bombs ran out, started chucking chunks of ice toward the surveillance cameras. Masked individuals also spray-painted ‘H(A)PPY NEW YEARS’, ‘BL(A)CK DECEMBER’, and other tags against prisons both on the sides of the jail and on nearby buildings where the messages are visible to those inside. Again, there was almost no response from police. (Continued)

Five Questions for the Climate Movement

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Page 1/2 of a printable version of the leaflet. It’s laid out to be half a letter-size sheet printed on both sides and folded in half.

Text from a leaflet distributed at the Hamilton2Paris Climate rally in Hamilton, Ontario. The H2P rally was organized by a coalition of local organizations who invited others to form their own contingents.

Against Capitalism — For Community Autonomy!

As an anti-capitalist and anti-colonial contingent in the Hamilton2Paris climate march, we believe the issue of environmental devastation is about so much more than carbon emissions and that the best responses to it will never come from the rich and powerful. The business and political classes have always benefited from this destruction and if they now claim to care about the environment, it’s because they need to do so to pacify us and preserve their privilege.

Although it is a victory of sorts that so many powerful people now take climate change seriously, we can’t afford to let this become another chance for them to manage and control our lives and those of people around the world. We want to remember the histories of resistance of all those who have been resisting for hundreds of years in defense of the land. These are the voices we honour and celebrate!

As the reality of climate change gains more acceptance, the nature of the struggle changes. We want to offer five questions to the climate movement for us to ask ourselves as the fight moves into a new phase. (Continued)

A Certain Discomfort: Of Anarchist Solidarity and Syria

from Anarchist News

Even as Rojava captures the imaginations of anarchists, with many groups and individuals around the world engaged in active support of the Kurdish-lead libertarian experiment, there remains a profound ambivalence among anarchists towards the struggles in the rest of the country formerly known as Syria. On the one hand, some radicals seek to identify and support grassroots initiatives, popular armed formations, or resistance movements in exile that have a liberatory character; on the other, some see the Syrian Revolution as nothing more than yet another imperialist coup being lead by armed religious fascists with nothing worth supporting. Between those two poles, the huge majority of anarchists (and others who care about international revolutions) consider the conflict too complex and murky to come to any conclusions.

To be clear, I’m writing as one of those who sees a lot of liberatory potential in the Syrian Revolution, who has tried to follow it and hear the voices of organizers on the ground even as their work has been overshadowed by authoritarian armed groups, and who has tried to do some minor acts of solidarity by translating and writing articles. It’s quite striking that many who support the Rojavan revolution so fervently are unwilling to extend their interest to the rest of Syria, where the huge majority of the country’s 20+ million inhabitants live(d). Some have explained this by the absence of a cohesive political project under the dictatorship – unlike in the Kurdish regions, where the PKK was able to organize during its transition to libertarian municipalism, the repression was such that there were no organized parties and only a few clandestine networks of dissenters.

(Continued)

Support for Refugees means support for Assad? Confronting the pro-Assad left in Hamilton

On Saturday September 5th in Hamilton, at the Refugees Welcome rally organized by Sanctuary Hamilton, one of the speakers decided to use the opportunity to put forward his views in support of Syria’s Assad regime. Dismissing the millions of people who have participated in the Syrian revolution, from Aleppo to Rojava and from Zabadani to Raqqa, as “the so-called Syrian rebels” (the scare quotes are his), he went on to call for Canada to end its sanctions against the Assad regime and to re-establish diplomatic relations as ways of addressing the desparate situation of many refugees.

I think it’s important to respond to this for two reasons. Firstly, because it was totally innapropriate to inject that message into a non-sectarian rally calling on the federal government to do more for Syrian (and other) refugees. He was effectively blaming the Syrian people for their own displacement by labelling the movement against Assad the source of the problem. But more importantly, support for the Assad regime in leftist spaces is unfortunately not a marginal position. It often hides behind anti-war or anti-imperialist rhetoric, but there is a pro-fascist current within the left. With a blend of cherry-picking, conspiracy theories, and knee-jerk “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” reasoning, it’s possible to give speeches in support of this dictatorship, one that has killed over 200 000 Syrian people in the past four years (1), even while evoking the names of refugees who died while fleeing the regime’s violence (2). (Continued)

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