Urbicide: design by destruction – Israel strangles Palestine Everyday – Towards a no state solution

Nowhere is the true face of the armed state and its characteristic violence so blatant, the bankruptcy of its ruling class politics so brutally visible, as in the Palestinian West Bank under the Israeli boot. Tristan Anderson’s severe injury in Ni’ilin village on March 13 marked a dark Friday in a long non-violent struggle of resistance to the Israeli matrix of control and oppression, a struggle for dignity and self-determination at the grassroots in Occupied Palestine. Eight days later, many marched in solidarity with Tristan, and the hundreds of other Palestinians, Jewish Israelis and internationals injured or murdered by the Israeli military in Ni’ilin and numerous other villages and towns on the Occupied West Bank over the past nine years, in the vortex and wake of the al-Aqsa intifada.

A chronicle of oppression

Arafat al Khawaje, aged 22, was murdered in Ni’ilin by Israeli bullets, even as the attack on Gaza reached a new peak of ferocity, shot in the back on December 28. Arafat was a third-year student at the Arab-American University Jenin. The AAUJ held special services on January 1, 2009 to mourn his murder (1).

At the same demonstration, Mohammed Sa’adat Fahami Al Khawaje, 20, was shot in the forehead with live ammunition from close range, and died on New Year’s Eve. Mohammed was the fourth youth from Ni’ilin to be murdered by the Israeli Occupation Forces. 10-year-old Ahmed Mousa and 18-year-old Youself Amira were shot dead in late July, 2008.

This is a struggle over the uprooting of olive trees, the theft of land and livelihood, the erasure of a people from their homes, villages, soil. And the continuing construction of the Great Wall of Palestine, the Apartheid Barrier.

This village of some five thousand inhabitants had 22.4 square miles of land on the eve of the 1948 war that established the state of Israel. 15 square miles were confiscated at that time, along with some 4.5 square miles slated to be confiscated by the construction of the Separation Wall and other Israeli military barriers, which will leave the village with 2.8 square miles, including its built-up area.

At the forefront of the resistance in Ni’ilin – which has become an icon of the Palestinian struggle at the grassroots across Palestine – has been Anarchists Against the Wall, a direct action group out every week to protest in solidarity with local Palestinians. Nowhere else in the world is a small determined group of non-violent social anarchists facing a heavily armed military on a weekly, and sometimes a daily basis. The work of AATW deserves international support. Tristan stood in solidarity with them, and they stand with him.

Getting free

The ultimate radical vision that should guide Palestinians and Israelis is, in my view, a decentralized socialist commonwealth of ta’ayush (togetherness), cooperating in free association and mutual aid, beyond the abominations of capitalism and its nation-state system. The goal, as James Herod sees it, is to forge a community of communities, countering hierarchy, wage slavery, profit, commodities, social classes, private ownership of the means of production, patriarchy, and much more (2).

Herod argues that if we were already now reorganizing ourselves “into neighborhood, workplace, and household assemblies, and were struggling to seize power there, then we would have a base from which to stop ruling-class offensives.” He stresses that in the three-pronged attack on the System that he envisions, “by focusing not merely on the workplace (seizing the means of production) but also on neighborhoods and households, it anticipates a recapturing of decision-making – that is, its relocation out of state bureaucracies, parliaments, and corporate boards, and into our assemblies. […] It also emphasizes capturing the means of reproduction (and not only production) through household associations. Its guiding principle is free association.”

But that is a future space of radical liberation toward which we can move, down a long road of fightback and transformation. Revolutionary pragmatism knows that today’s work is standing together with those in the daily struggle – rooted in a tough and resilient sumud (steadfastness) — for justice, dignity, and resistance to the matrix of control and urbicide in Ni’ilin and across Occupied Palestine.

Urbicide in action

Integral to Zionist state ideology and matrices of control is a policy of “urbicide,” a form of spatial strangulation, stunting the demographic, physical and economic development of Palestinian communities. Palestinian villages and cities are systematically invaded and destroyed, along with structures of livelihood, health, education, and the surrounding natural landscape and agricultural land. The resistance in Ni’ilin is against this urbicide, and a policy of the “eradication of normalcy” designed to wear down and demoralize the Palestinian population. It is associated with a planning strategy of conquest where “Palestinian urban space is constructed as a pre-modern, formless, almost solid conglomerate of material and human refuse, a treacherous, dangerous place that needs to be cleansed through hygienic practices embodied in the act of ‘design by destruction'” (3).

In the sociopolitical imaginary of the Israeli ruling-class, Palestinian space is demonized and dehumanized, a “cancerous” threat to the purported organic “body” of the modern state of Israel (4). As Abujidi & Verschure stress: “Sovereignty over space is an important element in achieving geopolitical aims intrinsic to the longer-term policy imperative within the geopolitical colonial imaginary that guides the Israeli nation-state” (5).

The construction of the wall and intense violence against civilians throughout Palestine including the attacks in Ni’ilin and many other villages is urbicide in action, an engineering of space and an invasion of local neighborhoods designed to ensure total Israeli control of the Palestinian territories and traumatize the population, undermining all aspects of their infrastructure, and shattering their psychological well-being. In Sari Hanafi’s view, such policies are intended to make it all but impossible for Palestinians to live a normal life, and to induce them to emigrate – a form of “voluntary transfer,” as Israeli documents term it (6).

Resisting the brutality and building a different future deserves the solidarity of the progressive community in Oakland, throughout North America and around the globe. As Anne Feeney reminds us, from the West Bank to Seattle: “It’s a worldwide war. It’s a war on the workers / And it’s time we started calling the shots” (7). Now more than ever. ¡Ya basta! / khalas! is the watchword.


1. The university is here: http://www.aauj.edu

2. James Herod, Getting free: Creating an association of democratic autonomous neighborhoods. Oakland: AK Press, 2007

3. See Nurhan Abujidi & Han Verschure, Military occupation as urbicide by “construction and destruction”: The case of Nablus, Palestine, The Arab World Geographer (2006), vol. 9, no. 2: 126-154.

4. Eyal Weizman, Builders and warriors: Military operations as urban planning, Site (November 2004): 2-4; see also Weizman, Hollow land: Israel’s architecture of occupation. London: Verso, 2007.

5. Abujidi & Verschure, ibid., 143.

6. Sari Hanafi, Targeting space through biopolitics; The Israeli colonial project, Palestine Report, February 18, 2004.

7. Listen to the song “War on the Workers,” http://home.earthlink.net/~unionmaid/id1.html

Implicaitons of the Hamas Victory – could the popular rejection of the rotting road map for peace lead to a no-state solution?

This time, for the first time in my life, I do feel a change in the air. … the rebellion spirit of the Palestinian resistance is a spirit people can empathise with. You know why? Because the Palestinians are in the forefront of the war against evil. (Gilad Atzmon) [1]

A new era in the Palestinian liberation struggle is upon us. Rather than just a electoral repudiation of Fatah’s long years of corruption, mismanagement and collaboration with the Israeli plutocracy, the extraordinary success of Hamas at the polls comes from the gut, the depths of despair of an entire population. It is a powerful protest against the Occupation, a loud NO to persistent efforts by the Israeli military and political class to force Palestinian surrender and crush their national rights.

This vote by the Palestinian working masses was a resounding NO to political Zionism and its century-old agenda of Zionist segregation and land expropriation. NO to a pseudo-‘settlement’ imposed by Washington. NO to abandonment of the demand for a right of return for the millions of Palestinian refugees. NO to shredding Palestine into Bantustans. NO to the Great Wall of Palestine. A massive electoral expression of muqawama, resistance. As embodied in the name Hamas itself, an acronym for Harakat al-Muqawama al-Islamiya (Islamic Resistance Movement).

This article reflects on that victory, and on future pathways out of the impasse in Palestine/Israel, beyond the dead-end of the two-state solution. The social action of Hamas, its local dynamic pragmatism in addressing the everyday needs of Palestinians, may become the mother of inspiration for far more than observers at present can imagine.

Israeli jazz artist, novelist and peace activist Gilad Atzmon put it pointedly:

those who dwell in occupied Palestine had their say, they went to the poll and gave all us a major lesson. They presented us with the most heroic spirit of resistance. They told the West, and Israel, and the EU, and the Arab world … and the other gatekeepers, “you can all bugger off. We know what we want. We are tired of your phoney kindness. We are exhausted of your hypocritical willingness to help. We are sick of your solidarity. We don’t want you to tell us what we are and what we should be. Don’t liberate us and don’t save our women. We will take care of it all from now on” [ibid.].

Resistance to Ihtilal: the ‘Suffocation’

It’s useful to ponder a few facts of the singular political ecology of this election: it was carried out under the most grinding Occupation (Ihtilal, the ‘Suffocation’) currently in force anywhere on the planet — a free vote by ordinary people living under appalling oppression, in extreme poverty, their villages and towns turned into locked cages. Some two-thirds of the population lives below the official poverty line of $2.20 a day. A WB Report for 2004 described the economic situation as the “worst economic depression in history,” with unemployment of 60-70 percent in Gaza and 30-40 percent in the West Bank. The PA itself is a major employer, with some 136,000 on its staff rolls, their salaries supplied largely by international donor Capital.

31 of the candidates, 15 now elected, are behind bars in Israeli jails, probably unprecedented for any democratic poll in the world.

The Hamas leaders Ahmed Yassin and Abdel Aziz al-Rantissi were openly assassinated by Israeli air strikes in March and April 2004. So the massive pro-Hamas vote is also in part a payback and political ‘blowback’ for that kind of targeted state violence by the Israeli political elite, tacitly supported by Washington.

To compound matters, some of those who won election are wanted by the Israeli authorities for ‘suspected involvement’ in anti-Israel violence. Most of these men are now in semi-seclusion, and fear arrest if they try to travel to Ramallah, the site of the Palestinian parliament. Is this the fruit of ‘free elections’ under an iron Occupation?

Refugees Excluded

Nor should we forget: this election was a poll by a clear minority of the true electorate of the Palestinian people, the far greater majority of whom live as refugees in a vast Diaspora — mainly in the Middle East, mostly ‘ethnically cleansed’ in 1948 and 1967, and as second-class citizens inside Israel proper. If all Palestinians could vote in a pan-Palestinian plebiscite, who knows what the results might be. Their right of return should be high on the agenda. Hamas is absolutely committed to it [2]. Meanwhile, Washington, its allies and the UN went to extraordinary lengths to allow Iraqi “out of country voters” (even in Israel) to participate in the poll in Iraq. But those same powers have shown no interest in giving Palestinian refugees a voice of any kind. They are ‘silenced’ in a classic sense.

Rooted in the Working People

Most centrally, Hamas is a multi-sided grassroots movement rooted since its founding in 1988 in the working people, the neighborhoods: its activities in the Palestinian street have concentrated on building an extensive education network, distribution of basic foodstuffs for the holidays, aid to the poor, youth camps, sports, care for the elderly, scholarships, sponsorship of light industry, and religious services in the mosques.

Armed resistance, the activity of the jihadist shahid (martyr for the faith) and the Ezzedin al-Qassem brigades, is a relatively small part of its program, demonized by the Western media as “terrorism” with no cause. It is Palestine’s principal weapon against military occupation. One of the Hamas women elected in Gaza, Mariam Farahat, known as Um Nidal (Mother of the Struggle), helped send three of her sons as shahid. She told ABC news: “Our land is occupied. You take all the means to banish the occupier. I sacrificed my children for this holy, patriotic duty. I love my children, but as Muslims we pressure ourselves and sacrifice our emotions for the interest of the homeland.”

Islamic fundamentalism is a major strand in Hamas ideology and integrity, but many of their supporters in the Palestinian street are secular and will remain so. As anarchist activist Ilan Shalif stressed: “From the polls it seems that the voters of Fatah and Hamas did not differ so much where their level of religious fervour was concerned” [3]. Some of its leaders and rank-and-file are hard-line, others are ‘pragmatists.’ People learn to distinguish between rhetoric and action.

The Harakat al-Muqawama al-Islamiya has anchored itself not as a political party but a genuine people’s movement of mutual aid, highly efficient — and resistance to an entire choreography of systematic oppression. As one Palestinian village resident put it in response to ‘why people chose Hamas’: “If you sit with them they will say: ‘We hate Fatah. They did nothing for us. A few poor people suddenly became rich people. Hamas worked in another way. They worked with society. They worked with the poor.’ ” Many Palestinian Christians also cast their ballot for Hamas. Now anticipating a heavier Israel military hand in their daily lives, another villager commented: “They knew what they voted for … They know the consequences. If they want to liberate their land, they have to suffer” [4]. And the big gains for Hamas were among the local candidates, precisely at this scale. The Washington Post reported that the U.S. secretly channeled $2 million to Fatah in the closing phase of the campaign.

Imperative Now: Fight the “Wall of Siege” Against the Hamas Leadership

Despite the “wall of siege” the U.S. and many Western powers have erected to try to suffocate any attempts by Hamas to form a viable new government, Hamas is standing resolute. What baffles the Western oligarchies is that here you have a principled political movement, rooted in popular democratic support, and unwilling to yield to Western pressures, the “world according to Condy Rice” and financial blackmail.

Hamas deputy political leader Moussa Abu Marzouk stated very
clearly in early March 2006 in Moscow that recognizing Israel would negate all Palestinian rights. He said: “I gave the Russian officials a white sheet and I asked them to draw me a map of the Israel they want me to recognize and nobody was able to draw the map.” No one could. No one in the present or future Israeli government can do so. Israel is by definition a state without fixed borders that its own political class can recognize. Since its inception as a movement 120 years ago, political Zionism has been dedicated to grabbing ever more Palestinian land, territorial expansionism as a principle of political life. The building of the Great Wall is part of that. The expanding network of “apartheid highways” (for Jews only) around Jerusalem and throughout the occupied West Bank is part of that. The Israeli military takeover of the Jordan River Valley, in effect the West Bank’s “eastern boundary” with Jordan, now being consolidated, is also part of it. Hamas knows this. No doubt Washington will do everything to isolate, discredit and suffocate the Hamas leadership. And to split its ranks. Progressives everywhere, including inside Israel, need to fight against these moves.

What is emerging as of mid-March 2006 is indeed a kind of “Class War from Above,” orchestrated by international donor Capital, on Hamas and the will of the Palestinian people to resist, a form of geopolitical extortion.

It is time to de-demonize Hamas and listen to the will of the Palestinians, their voice. Gilad Atzmon echoes this:

If we are as democratic as we claim to be, it is down to us to respect and welcome the Palestinian people’s choice. I would suggest that to support Palestine is to support the Palestinian people and their right of return regardless of their political, theological or cultural choices [5].

Ever more Israelis may come to share that view. Ever more are disgusted with the militarization of their society and concomitant brutalization, its colonial-settler ideology of inequality, segregation and might over right, the endless bloodshed, the insanity of the ever expanding West Bank settlements [6]. Whatever the fundamentalist views of some strands in Hamas leadership, are they any more ‘extreme’ than some of the Jewish religious parties that may play a role in the next Israeli government? The sacralization of politics is a distinctive element on both sides of this divide.

Beyond the Rotting of Oslo: Thinking Outside the Box

The Hamas victory is a watershed. It is time for a new political class in Israel to move forward to a just solution. Beyond the contradictions, hypocrisies and cul-de-sac of the Oslo process. Mahmud al-Zahar, a key harder-line Hamas leader in Gaza, put it well: “As for a future government, we are putting all the possibilities on the table. What has the Israeli government presented to us? Nothing. Oslo is not only dead, it has rotted.” Khalid Mish’al, head of the Hamas Political Bureau, wrote:

Our message to the Israelis is this: we do not fight you because you belong to a certain faith or culture. Jews have lived in the Muslim world for 13 centuries in peace and harmony; they are in our religion “the people of the book” who have a covenant from God and His Messenger Muhammad (peace be upon him) to be respected and protected. Our conflict with you is not religious but political. … But if you are willing to accept the principle of a long-term truce, we are prepared to negotiate the terms. Hamas is extending a hand of peace to those who are truly interested in a peace based on justice [7].

If the “‘two state solution’ has been all but killed off by the very powers who today claim to be supporting it, primarily Israel and the U.S. [and] the fictitious ‘Road Map’ is as much on life support as is Ariel Sharon himself” [8], perhaps other options can begin to be envisioned and pragmatic steps taken toward their realization. Many foresaw that the Oslo agreement would not bring stability to the region because it spelled Palestinian capitulation to colonization, no settlement freeze, the continuation of apartheid within Israel and across the West Bank and the de-Arabization of Palestine. Adam Hanieh notes: “The Hamas victory helps to dispel the myths surrounding the negotiations of the last decade. The Palestinian population of the West Bank and Gaza Strip has overwhelmingly stated that these negotiations have merely been a cover for the deepening of Israeli apartheid” [9].

Whatever the prevailing ‘two-state fantasies’ in the pipeline, none can provide a lasting just solution to the intractable impasse in Palestine. The populations are too massively intertwined (1.3 million Palestinians live in Israel, and 450,000 Jews in the West Bank), the physical geography of water and transport militates against it. The apartheid nature of the Israeli ‘ethnocracy’ [10], marginalizing its large Arab citizenry, cries out for radical change and civil equality within Israel. Moreover, both peoples’ identities and national meta-narratives are now interwoven with the total area of historic Palestine, most especially that of Hamas. In a unitary state, those narratives would move to revision. The very upending of old structures and command networks on both sides of the divide signaled by the Hamas breakthrough at the municipal level (and Sharon’s demise) may open up new wormholes in anti-state space.

An Old Vision Revitalized: One Democratic State

Can we imagine ordinary people working together to build a single democratic state for all Palestinians and Jewish Israelis, one democratic polity, its citizens living in ta’ayush (solidarity) and full equality? Sound totally utopian? This is the concrete vision of the Palestinian-American peace activist Mazin Qumsiyeh, as laid out in a powerful article in 2005. The compelling 2004 Olga Appeal by a group of non-Zionist Israeli intellectuals is also in this spirit [11].

And now there is an association: a growing fusion of people across the planet, including Israeli Jews and Palestinians, banded together in the organization ‘The Association for One Democratic State in Palestine/Israel’ (www.one-democratic-state.org). There is a broad spectrum of political opinion, united by orientation to a few core principles for a unitary state.

Writing on the Hamas victory, Whitbeck is visionary:

The “destruction of Israel” is clearly a negative formulation. The “creation of a fully democratic state with equal rights for all” in all of Israel/Palestine could be a positive reformulation which would be recognized by the world as just and offer genuine hope for peace and reconciliation [12].

The revitalizing of the demand for refugee return could be part of that new agenda, as Hanieh suggests.

‘One State’ and Beyond

Perhaps the election victory of Hamas is a first step on that path to building a polity and society beyond the nation-state, a ‘no-state solution’ — a cooperative Arab-Jewish commonwealth in the ancient land of Canaan. Hamas’s own practical agenda, as it emerges, will initially likely be quite different, anchored in its 1988 Charter. But politics is in powerful flux, if people can discover new modalities for political organization in the workplace and neighborhood. Hamas may prove to be an inventive amalgam of pragmatism and principle. Radical pragmatism says: see what can emerge. But fight to let it emerge. It needs the midwives of grassroots activism.

Zapatismo in Palestine/Israel: Ya Basta/Khalas!

Social pragmatist paradigms for such bottom-up organizing are now multiplying in Latin America, within Zapatismo in Chiapas, the Landless Workers’ Movement (MST) in Brazil, the rise of the indigenous peoples in Bolivia, Ecuador and elsewhere, and as a complex of autonomous movements across Argentina, a “socialism of the people, participatory and decentralized” [13]. An analogous ferment is needed as an organizing tactic and avenue forward here. Holloway talks about it:

Probably we have to think of advancing through experiments a
nd questions: “preguntando caminamos” “walking we ask questions”, as the Zapatistas put it. To think of moving forward through questions rather than answers means a different sort of politics, a different sort of organization. If nobody has the answers, then we have to think not of hierarchical structures of leadership, but horizontal structures that involve everyone as much as possible. What do we want? I think we want self-determination — the possibility of creating our own lives, the assumption of our own humanity. This means collective self-determination [14].

In Palestine, that would require a massive popular movement to “regain the commons” among ordinary Jews and Arabs, energizing a new ensemble of struggles for direct & inclusive democracy and participatory economy. It means bringing people in the neighborhoods into a new kind of political and economic decision-making in their own streets and communities, a pro-active role in the management of their own affairs, their work places.

Building an infrastructure of what was called in the togetherness of Arabs and Sephardic Jews in Spain in the Golden Age of Arab-Jewish symbiosis, living together, ‘convivencia.’

The goal of a libertarian-socialist multicultural and multi-faith Commonwealth could begin to energize new forms of decentralized direct democracy, people’s participation and horizontalism, neighborhood autonomy as it moves beyond notions of any conventional capitalist ‘state’ run by a corporate ruling class, in Israel a veiled dictatorship of 15 families over the Israeli economy, media and politics.

The people’s NO to the old politics in Palestine was a protest against their own lack of political participation and disaffection, their daily ordeal of dispossession and denigration under the Ihtilal. Those masses may well be open to proposals for new forms of political life, based on local control, autonomy and creative resistance [15]. Perhaps, as realism will require, initially within a Hamas-Green armature for transformation. Mousa Abu Marzook has emphasized: “Hamas has pledged transparency in government. Honest leadership will result from the accountability of its public servants. Hamas has elected 15 female legislators poised to play a significant role in public life. The movement has forged genuine and lasting relationships with Christian candidates.” It is explicitly open to pluralism, a major role for Palestinian women on the political road ahead. Marzook: “fair governance demands that the Palestinian nation be represented in a pluralistic environment. A new breed of Islamic leadership is ready to put into practice faith-based principles in a setting of tolerance and unity” [16].

One Big Union

Grassroots working-class syndicalism among Palestinians and Israelis, forging new bonds of solidarity, is one pathway out of the morass of the ‘national question’ — and the immense ever widening gap between poor and rich in Israeli-Jewish society. It can become a hands-on incubator for overcoming mutual distrust. One option that can appeal to workers and the many unemployed is to create IWW-like base groups in both communities. Not a small political party, but a work-oriented horizontally structured independent movement –- oriented to people’s everyday problems to make ends meet and have a say, and broader issues of self-determination and vernacular dignity. Building, from the bottom up, a scaffolding for organizing and change, aspiring to “a world in which production and distribution are organized by workers ourselves to meet the needs of the entire population, not merely a handful of exploiters” [17]. A Wobbly union is one such non-hierarchical vessel for nurturing autonomy. It is lean, concrete, a structure workers and their families can understand.

Or imagine a movement like that of Argentina’s Piquetaros (picketers) across Israel and Palestine: protesters, many unemployed and underemployed workers, staging marches again and again against the government to draw attention to the people’s plight.

But authentic organization springs from struggle, not vice versa. That must begin and be sustained.

A Call for Urgent Solidarity: Anarchists Against the Wall

Kobi Snitz in Tel Aviv has issued a call for online donations to the legal fund of Anarchists Against the Wall (AATW, Anarkhistim Neged ha-Gader): www.awalls.org. Help of various kinds, including direct participation on the front lines, is much welcome. The repression of internationals on this front by the Israeli military and police has been vicious.

AATW is involved in both direct action and demonstrations against the Wall, especially at the embattled villages of Budrus and Bil’in in the West Bank. It is committed to a joint struggle of Palestinians and Israelis. AATW’s contribution, an unprecedented mode of joint Arab-Jewish sumud (steadfastness), is widely recognized in both the Palestinian and Israeli media, and is regularly reported on AINFOS.

In part linked with them is the organization One Struggle/Ma’avak Ehad (www.onestruggle.org), another dedicated vegan anarchist group in frontal confrontation with all aspects of the Israeli state. Ma’avak Ehad, which initially helped spawn AATW, also deserves libertarian solidarity [18].

In its fierce commitment to direct action, AATW could serve as a mini-paradigm of joint Palestinian-Israeli action, its praxis perhaps a template for future more systematic radical organizing of workers (and students as workers-to-be), One Big Union ‘from the river to the sea.’ New beginnings for convivencia. Whether that is ‘Western cultural colonialism’ in the political sense that Atzmon criticizes only joint struggle will determine. Mazin Qumsiyeh has a good website with suggestions about what you can do where you live and work to aid the struggle for justice in Palestine, and the forging of new paths forward: http://qumsiyeh.org/whatyoucando/


1. Gilad Atzmon, “Western Cultural Colonialism and the Palestinian Choice,” http://peacepalestine.blogspot.com/ ; see also www.axisoflogic.com/artman/publish/article_20915.shtml

2. As Khalid Mish’al stated: “Our message to the Palestinians is this: our people are not only those who live under siege in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip but also the millions languishing in refugee camps in Lebanon, Jordan and Syria and the millions spread around the world unable to return home. We promise you that nothing in the world will deter us from pursuing our goal of liberation and return.” See Khalid Mish’al, “We will not sell our people or principles for foreign aid,” Guardian, Jan. 31, 2006, www.guardian.co.uk/israel/Story/0,,1698702,00.html

3. Ilan Shalif, “Palestinian Parliamentary Elections: The Hamas Victory ,” www.anarkismo.net/newswire.php?story_id=2320

4. I. Fisher, “Villagers Who Voted for Hamas Saw Hope Despite Obstacles,” New York Times, Jan. 27, 2006, www.nytimes.com/2006/01/27/international/middleeast/27cnd-voices.html

5. G. Atzmon, “Where to now, Palestine? Some reflections,” http://peacepalestine.blogspot.com/2006/01/gilad-atzmon-where-to-now-palestine.html .

6. See especially the work of New Profile, www.newprofile.org/default.asp?language=en .

7. Khalid Mish’al, “We will not sell our people or principles for foreign aid.”

8. “Hamastan Indeed,” Mid East Realities, Jan. 26, 2006, www.middleeast.org/mernew.htm .

9. Oren Yiftachel, “‘Ethnocracy’: The Politics of Judaizing Israel/Palestine,” Constellations 6 (1999), www.geog.bgu.ac.il/members/yiftachel/new_papers_eng/Constellations-print.htm .

10. Adam Hanieh, “The End of a Political Fiction?,” http://auto_sol.tao.ca/node/view/1772?PHPSESSID=81750c8739aeb00401b669854c9e0bff

11. M. Qumsiyeh, “A Two-State Solution is No Solution: Thinking Outside the Box on Israel / Palestine” (CounterPunch, June 2005, www.qumsiyeh.org/thinkingoutsidethebox/ ); Olga Appeal at www.qumsiyeh.org/theolgaappeal/ ). See also “One State for Palestine – Israel: Silvia Cattori in
terviews Mahmoud Musa,” Dec. 3, 2005, http://peacepalestine.blogspot.com/2005/12/one-state-for-palestine-israel-silvia.html .

12. J. V. Whitbeck, “De-demonize Hamas and support democracy,” posted on USQuagmire listserv, Jan. 28, 2006.

13. Judy Rebick, “Socialism in the 21st Century,” http://auto_sol.tao.ca/node/view/1767?PHPSESSID=30a53693842caebbebbe0d8bd9bb22ed ; see also Marina Sitrin, “Horizontalidad in Argentina,” http://info.interactivist.net/article.pl?sid=05/07/26/1417232 and idem, Horizontalidad: Voces de Poder Popular en Argentina, Chilavert 2005.

14. See M. Sitrin and J. Holloway, “Walking We Ask Questions,” http://spip.red.m2014.net/article.php3?id_article=118 . The ongoing re-establishment of the SDS in North America is a kindred potential paradigm for ideas for participatory social activism, with a strong libertarian socialist thrust, www.studentsforademocraticsociety.org .

15. See B. Templer, “Tanks & Ostriches,” http://the-dawn.org/2004/08/ostriches.html and idem, “Thirteen Theses,” http://midwestpopulistparty.org/Bill_Templer_Article_2.html

16. Mousa Abu Marzook, “What Hamas is Seeking,” Washington Post, Jan. 31, 2006.

17. IWW homepage. The IWW grew internationally by some 35% in 2005, celebrating its 100th anniversary in struggle. An active exemplary IWW local is the Edmonton General Membership Branch (http://edmonton.iww.ca/ ).

18. A well-informed analysis of the work of the anarchist collective One Struggle is W. Budington, “Animal Rights Activists: Up against the Wall,” the student underground, Oct. 2005, www.thestudentunderground.org/article.php? id=16&issue=51

Nothing Natural About This Disaster

How should anti-authoritarian socialists respond to the politics of the great wall of water of 12/26 in the Indian Ocean and the spectacle of its havoc? Its horrific tragedy is interwoven with the very architecture of our world system built on inequality, privilege and greed — structures of neo-colonial control and dependency, wealthy centers and desperately impoverished peripheries — and spliced with the image machinery of the society of the spectacle. The tsunami becomes a text through which to view anew the contradictions of this system highlighting the need for a world built on socialist principles of mutual aid and self-organization.

Why No Warning?

Giles Ji Ungpakorn has stressed: “As events in Thailand show, natural disasters, such as violent storms, earthquakes and tsunamis may have natural causes, but their effects are the result of the profit-driven system we live in.” [2] The systems’ priorities are inscribed in a chilling fact on the morning of 12/26: a warning was sent from Hawaii to the American military base on the island of Diego Garcia far south of Sri Lanka — while elsewhere there was silence. Here in Thailand, someone in Bangkok made a conscious decision not to “alarm” the tourists at the very peak of high season on the Andaman Sea coast [3]. Simple science in the hands of the masses could have saved tens of thousands [4].

There were a full two hours in Thailand between the seaquake’s first tremor at 8 a.m. and the cataclysm that hit our southwestern coasts at 10. One of my own students, a tour guide out in a longboat with 21 passengers at Bamboo Island in Krabi, escaped in the nick of time because she suddenly spotted the Great Wave coming, was near shore, and hurried her boat captain and astounded tourists to high ground. She had a cell phone in her pocket and could have easily been given a warning had her firm been notified. There was no warning.

As Fred Goldstein notes: “Capitalist television networks have recently carried footage of amateur video showing the tsunami hitting Banda Aceh. But first you saw people cleaning up from the earthquake, slowly and methodically for 25 minutes, completely oblivious of what was to follow — despite definite danger signs, like the sea receding. An organized, educated, prepared population with the government fully behind it could have evacuated thousands of people, even at the site closest to the epicenter of the tsunami. Evacuation to safety in most areas involved moving people only a relatively short distance from the coast. This holds in even greater measure for the high-casualty areas further from the quake, such as Thailand, Sri Lanka, India and of course East Africa” [5].

Horror on the Margins of a Margin

This has been a calamity on the “periphery of a periphery,” massively affecting in the main simple fisher families and their economies where people live literally on the edge. Natural disasters affect poor and developing countries disproportionately because the struggle of the down-and-out for daily survival does not allow for disaster preparedness. And as mappings at the Earth Institute at Columbia University clearly show, most of the “disaster hot spots’ on our planet lie in the Global South. The geology and meteorology of calamity ominously overlap with the geography of poverty [6].

Profits not Mangroves

Yet this calamity was due in significant part not to geology but to massive environmental degradation as a result of a profit-driven system of priorities: the destruction of the mangrove forests along the coasts of the Indian Ocean over the past two decades, sacrificed to tourism development and excessive shrimp farming. As Devinder Sharma has stressed, the devastation wrought by this wall of water was “the outcome of an insane economic system — led by the World Bank and IMF — that believes in usurping environment, nature and human lives for the sake of unsustainable economic growth for a few” [7]. Nearly 72 per cent of the shrimp farming is confined to Asia, and the expansion of this shrimp farming in India, Thailand, Indonesia and elsewhere, has been specifically at the cost of tropical mangroves — amongst the world’s most important ecosystems. Here as elsewhere, the priorities of the World Bank were guided by concern for profits not people, greed not need, despite many warnings by environmentalists about the potential impact of the loss of mangrove forests. Sharma points out that at the very time the tsunami struck, logging companies were busy axing mangroves in the Aceh province in Sumatra for exports to Malaysia and Singapore. “Ecologists tell us that mangroves provide double protection — the first layer of red mangroves with their flexible branches and tangled roots hanging in the coastal waters absorb the first shock waves. The second layer of tall black mangroves than operates like a wall withstanding much of the sea’s fury. Mangroves in addition absorb more carbon dioxide per unit area than ocean phytoplankton, a critical factor in global warming.” The market-driven eco-collapse behind the disastrous effect of the tsunami has been underplayed by the capitalist media.

Spectacle’s Schizophrenia

Indeed, at the heart of the way the media have treated the tsunami’s havoc is a kind of schizophrenia in the face of the everyday tragedy of misdevelopment and inequality that ravages the Global South. At the core of the way the neoliberal corporate governments have responded is a similar schizophrenia. The extraordinary perhaps excessive “tidal wave” of charity masks an underlying indecency in the way our Spectacular world is organized — its fundamental dehumanizing indifference to the massive death of the poor. Natural disaster is a natural candidate for media and charity hype. Horrific suffering of the innocent is momentarily turned into the spectacle of the month, a barrage of benefit concerts, while the vast oppression that is much of humanity’s everyday in the Two-Thirds World remains endlessly invisible: the more than 2 million who will die this year of AIDS in Sub-Saharan Africa, the 900,000 who will die of malaria, the 11 million AIDS orphans in Africa at this very moment, the 2.7 billion on our planet who live on less than 2 dollars a day.

Certainly 12/26 has been the most mediatized natural catastrophe in modern memory. As Mike Whitney notes: “This is where the western press really excels: in the celebratory atmosphere of human catastrophe. Their penchant for misery is only surpassed by their appetite for profits. . . . The manipulation of calamity is particularly disturbing, especially when disaster is translated into a revenue windfall. . . . Simply put, tragedy is good for business. When it comes to Iraq, however, the whole paradigm shifts to the right. The dead and maimed are faithfully hidden from view. . . . The uneven coverage (of Iraq and the tsunami) highlights an industry in meltdown. Today’s privately owned media may bury one story, and yet, manipulate another to boost ratings. They are just as likely to exploit the suffering of Asians, while ignoring the pain of Iraqis” [8]. The anti-war movement needs to seize on these contradictions, bringing home to ordinary Americans their split consciousness: the hypocrisy of gala charity drives for tsunami victims and profuse “giving” — to ease our consciences — while our army and corporations wage a war literally against the world.

Compassion and Victimization as Control

Harsha Walia stresses that “political global compassion is often an ideology of political and social control couched in euphemisms and contradictions of humanitarian intervention . . . Let us be clear that there is no doubt that humanitarian work in order to save lives and provide adequate access to food and shelter is absolutely necessary. But the larger context must never be lost: international aid and NGO work will largely defuse the anger of those affected by the tsunami. . . . The power and anger of the people has again been channeled into victimization
to curb any political resistance” [9]. Central here is the entire hierarchical structure of much aid — top-down, dispersed by international governments and NGOs. Handouts construct a whole curriculum in the inculcation of dependency, drying up the wellsprings of self-sufficiency, reinforcing hierarchical structures that serve well ruling class interests. The governments in all the affected countries have sought to build a consciousness of victimization by “natural disaster” to deflect public anger.

Another aspect of such a frenzy of focus is the “tsunami relief industry,” largely Western, that rushes in with NGOs and bureaucrats quite literally to “exploit an emergency to reproduce their own bureaucracies,” for their own benefit, to justify their own existence, as detailed in an insightful article on the “accomplices of destruction” [10]. As Arundhati Roy reminds us: “NGOs . . . defuse political anger and dole out as aid or benevolence what people ought to have by right. They alter the public psyche. They turn people into dependent victims and blunt the edges of political resistance. . . . They unwittingly reinforce racist stereotypes and re-affirm the achievements, the comforts, and the compassion (the tough love) of Western civilization. They’re the secular missionaries of the modern world” [11].

Social anarchists need to be speaking out, telling people this calamity was in significant part preventable: you are the victims of the human greed on which this system is founded, you should be damn angry. We need to contemplate how to make this disaster a “politicizing” factor for self-action and rage against governments, statecraft elites and their inevitable failures — instead of one more lever for intensifying depoliticization and the passivity of the victim. That is also fed by the culture of ‘fate,’ what Thai Buddhists call ‘duang,’ acquiescence in the face of ‘predestined’ oppression and suffering.

The Tsunami and its Geopolitics

Troops in Aceh, Sri Lanka and Thailand have all been fighting separatist insurgencies for years. After the tsunami, these troops were more focused on these internal insurgencies than mobilizing to assist the Cataclysm’s victims [12]. This is another reason why Washington found it convenient to step in with such a massive ‘military humanitarian’ presence, conveniently attuned to its own geopolitical interests and imperatives across the region.

Indeed, Bush’s Pentagon is eager to reenter its old Vietnam War era military base U-tapao in Chonburi province 90 miles south of Bangkok [13]. Washington has been pressing Bangkok for the past 18 months to allow it to use Thailand as its new “forward positioning” site facilitating its armed forces in the war against terrorists in Southeast Asia [14]. Now that door has been opened, as Thailand is made a “regional hub” for a massive redeployment of military equipment and personnel, with the linchpin at U-tapao. And the pictures beamed across the planet of American soldiers helping distressed Moslem survivors in Indonesia is engineered to ‘improve’ Washington’s ‘image’ in the Moslem world and beyond, while at the same time reproducing and demonstrating capitalism’s military hegemony. Socialists in Sri Lanka (New Left Front) have called for the removal of American troops there: “On the one hand, it is an opportunity for the US to gain a foothold with designs to suppress the LTTE and control the Tamil liberation struggle on behalf of local capitalist rulers. On the other, it also provides an opening for the US not only to arm-twist Sri Lanka to go along with global capitalism, but also to use Sri Lanka’s strategic location to consolidate its neo-colonial agenda all the more blatantly” [15].

The spectrum of tsunami relief can be read as a lesson in the geopolitics of the manipulation of image and bolstering of power & influence in the name of compassion. Condy Rice called the tsunami a “marvelous opportunity” for showing the world how “generous” the U.S. is. It has also been a boon for Japan, China and India, major geopolitical players in the region [16].

Communalist Alternatives to Social Atomization?

An anarchist network of socialist communities grounded on mutual aid, radical direct democracy, self-organization and self-help, would know better how to respond to disaster. It would be better prepared by assuring that what safeguards exist are equally shared, not reserved for Hawaii, Japan, and the California coast. It would redirect the vast expenditures on the military toward help for the people. The networks of associated communities and regions would be able to distribute assistance where needed more equitably, more rapidly and without the vast corruption associated now with NGOs and their channeling of humanitarian aid through hierarchies of authority. The people would have had a proper system of information and education about the danger of massive Walls of Water. The need for science for the people is a natural moral of this horrific tale. Anarchist information structures could tap the reservoirs of traditional folk knowledge, reconnecting with the Earth, as in Thailand where Chao Lay nomadic fisher communities on the Andaman coast — so-called ‘sea gypsies’ — read the warning signs according to ancient sea lore and were able to flee in time to higher ground [17].

Fundamental here are basic eco-socialist water management, sustainable rural communities, a proper infrastructure of roads, adequate health care, a halt to the destruction of mangroves and their restoration. Decentralized empowerment would mean working class people doing far more for themselves on the ground where they are. This is the grassroots mutual aid in action, of which there are countless untold examples in this disaster — tales that radicals need to salvage and retell.

1. Harsha Walia, “The Tsunami and the Discourse of Compassion,” ZNet, www.zmag.org

2. Giles Ji Ungpakorn (Workers Democracy, Bangkok), “A “natural’ disaster made worse by the profit system,” Socialist Worker, 8 Jan 2005, www.socialistworker.co.uk/ ; see also the insightful interview with Mike Davis, “The burden falls on the poorest societies,” Socialist Worker, 7 Jan 2005, www.socialistworker.org/

3. “What if an early warning had been given?,” The Nation (Bangkok), 31 Dec 2004, www.nationmultimedia.com/ As a ranking Thai official noted: “The important factor in making the decision was that it’s high season and hotel rooms were nearly 100-per-cent full. If we had issued a warning, which would have led to an evacuation, [and if nothing happened], what would happen then? Business would be instantaneously affected.”

4. Arthur Lerner-Lam et al., “Simple Science Could Have Saved Thousands,” Los Angeles Times, 30 Dec 2004

5. Fred Goldstein, “Cuba leads world in managing disasters,” Workers World, 20 Jan 2005, www.workers.org/

6. Michael Schirber, “Scientists Chart Global Disaster Hot Spots,” www.msnbc.msn.com/

7. Devinder Sharma, “Tsunami, Mangroves and Market Economy,” GM Watch MMII, 14 Jan 2005, www.gmwatch.org/

8. Mike Whitney, “Iraq Vs. Tsunami; The Duplicity of the Media,” Anarchist People of Color, www.illegalvoices.org/

9. Walia, op.cit.

10. Thomas Seibert, “Komplizen der Zerstˆrung,” Sozialistische Zeitung (Cologne), Feb. 2005

11. A. Roy, “TIDE? OR IVORY SNOW? Public Power in the Age of Empire,” San Francisco, 16 Aug 2004, www.democracynow.org

12. Ungpakorn, ibid.

13. Sirinapha, “Tsunami Relief as a Subterfuge? The Pentagon Scrambles to Reenter its Old Thai Air Base,” http://dc.indymedia.org/

14. “Terror Offensive: US Wants Forward Base Here,” The Nation (Bangkok), 12 June 2003, www.nationmultimedia.com/

15. Dr. Vickramabahu, “No to induction of foreign troops!,” International Viewpoint, Jan 2005

16. Jacques Amalric, “The Tsunami and False Friends,” LibÈration, 20 Jan 2005, www.truthout.org/

17. “Wisdom of th
e sea,” Bangkok Post, 17 Jan 2005, www.bangkokpost.com/

Teaching the Conqueror’s Language in the

In “rejecting the Iraq quagmire” (PB Floyd, #79), its duplicity and failures and lies, we should also be opposing the recruitment of North American, British and Australian ‘experts’ to help implement the ongoing ‘reconstruction’ and creation of an American puppet plutocracy in West Asia. An integral component of the “colonialist shell game” Floyd calls attention to is the occupiers’ need to impose English as a working language for the occupation and future satellite. This article looks a bit at imperial English in connection with this latest conflict in America’s drive to implant its culture & power & megalanguage across the globe.

The anti-occupation movement should be pressing on campuses and in professional organizations for those with ‘needed skills’ to refuse to cooperate with this monstrosity. And that means teachers of English as well as ‘professionals’ in a hundred other disciplines. And ordinary American taxpayers from all walks who foot the staggering bills for this ‘transfer of expertise.’ Who watch their kids get sent as soldiers to protect it.

An Influx of “Know-How”

The Pentagon already needs entire battalions of interpreters — or brigades of imported teachers of English as a foreign language (EFL) to administer the “rebuilt” Iraq now on the drawing boards. The lucrative “market” for EFL being opened up by our generals will be a windfall for teachers from Sydney to Seattle. Experts from numerous other fields are also being recruited to “reshape” Iraqi education, from kindergartens to universities. And platoons of Western researchers, including grad students, will soon descend on a ‘pacified’ Iraq as transnational foundations seek to fund new projects. North American, British and Australian universities will attempt to set agendas for “collaboration” and research in Iraqi academe. In this complex picture, I want to concentrate on the predictable massive infusion of what Chinua Achebe called “the world language which history has forced down our throats.”

EFL on the March

American hegemony — its geopolitics driven by the key assumption that it has defined the way of life that must be adopted by all — must rely on the learning of its language in order to maintain and cement its control. In Iraq and Afghanistan, as elsewhere (Pennycook 1994;1999). While EFL suffuses at a dizzying pace along the Gulf, generating a veritable boom in lucrative positions for “native-speaker” EFL teachers and applied linguists, Iraq has for two decades remained an impenetrable fortress. Now those walls have been razed, quite literally, and the scramble for jobs to teach EFL and other academic specialties in Iraq is in the offing.

EFL administrators and “teacher trainers” in the British Council and U.S. Dept. of State are beginning to lay the groundwork for what they may call “Operation Iraqi English Literacy”. That is only in “pragmatic” hands-on character for the BC and the Education Office within the Department of State — they are after all a proven arm of the British and American governments in the implementation of cultural policy centered on spreading the blessings of the hegemonic language. The English Language Fellow Program funded by the Dept. of State will probably soon announce big-bucks “openings” in Iraqi academe. The commercial “EFL industry” from Melbourne to Maine is now gearing to set up a whole chain of private schools and language centers in the ruins to aid the Anglo-American firms already cashing in on their bonanza. Peace Corps planners doubtless hope to realize an old dream: penetrating the high schools and villages in a major country in the Arab East, gaining a foothold in a region where the PC is still largely outside. American universities are also scouting the Iraqi terrain for appropriate sites to set up “branch campuses” (like City U/Seattle across Eastern Europe) to promote democracy, teach business management and of course EFL, molding the new pro-American Iraqi “elite” in the image of Wolfowitz, Halliburton & Co. Helping to consolidate an Iraqi economy and polity coupled like a caboose to the US engine. And masterminded by educators, planners, economists, engineers, consultants and other ‘professionals’ from the states.

Hegemony’s Machine

As Hodge (2002) has put it: “The “new world order” is a Disequilibrium Machine, a manic device which produces exponentially increasing inequality (of power, wealth, health, conditions of life) on a planetary scale, affecting all nations and peoples, transforming political and cultural relations between people, changing the relations between humans and all other species, between humans and the life processes of the planet itself. It is a single process at every fractal scale.”

This is the device — its imaginary and brutal reality — we are now up against and must struggle to counter. As our “gunfighter nation” regenerates itself through violence and unilateral conquest on ever new ‘frontiers’ (Slotkin 1993), the English language teaching profession in particular needs to interrogate its vested interest and central role in the maintenance and reproduction of the language of Empire and its pax Americana (Phillipson 1992; Pennycook 1998).

Academic Moratorium?

Students, educators and others who are outraged by this war and the values it represents must question any ‘complicity’ by their professional organizations and universities in the “transfer” of knowledge and skills under the occupation. Under conditions of “neocolonial” reconstruction and semi-military administration, the first imperative is an academic and professional boycott or moratorium on expatriate personnel recruitment for projects and employment in Iraq, and on participation in externally generated and uninvited “research.”

The complicity of the ‘knowledge industry’ in the planning and oiling of the Occupation and Iraq’s ‘satellization’ and subjugation has to be focused on, as it was during the resistance campaign against the war and American presence in Vietnam — and the ‘secret war’ (1964-1973) against the people of Laos, where I work. And where the effects and residua of that American bombardment, the heaviest against any rural population in human history, are still felt, still visible, still dangerous.

Suffocating the Space of Capitalism

What the vast majority of ordinary Iraqis need at this disjuncture is autonomy. And like the Palestinians, oxygen to survive. Help in what Zapatistas call “suffocating the space of capitalism” (Esteva 2001). In any new beginnings in education, the bottom line should be self-reliance, dignity and sustainability: Iraqi educators will have to lead the way, with their priorities, at their pace. Wary of “imposed imports” and “research projects” from the Anglo-American West. In this process, Iraqi language educators will need time to come to critical grips with the cultural politics of English as an international language, its inherent aporia: the problematic linkages between the diffusion of English and social inequality, English as a narrow-door gatekeeper to privilege and power (Dua 1994; Pennycook 2001). And English as a Trojan horse that helps to deepen and perpetuate their dependence on our imperial periphery.

Grassroots Pedagogies of Resistance

One progressive alternative for us is to join in hands-on solidarity with people’s grassroots movements in Iraq as they crystallize. In ‘reclaiming the commons,’ the principal right for all Iraqis, the kind of education that should be created need not be in the mold of what Western ‘developers’ deem necessary — as a tool for their own neo-colonial penetration of the society and economy. What is needed is to generate opportunities for practical learning beyond the classroom in changing Iraq from the bottom up. Zapatistas are doing this across Chiapas and Oaxaca. Even in arrangements for learning, its content and social ‘certification.’

Such autonomous, holistic community-rooted education is at the heart of Madhu Suri Prakash & Gustavo Esteva’s exciting book, Escaping Education: Living as Learning Within Grassroots Cultures (NY: Peter Lang 1998). It’s one all anarchists should read. A brief excerpt is available at http://www.multiworld.org/m_versity/althinkers/gustavo.htm . We have to be thinking about alternative landscapes of learning for those who constitute the majority of the people on this planet, what Prakash & Esteva call the Two-Thirds World. We need to be talking about anti-authoritarian approaches to the regeneration of soil cultures, and building resistance to indigenous cultural meltdown in the global classroom. To help people take creative steps in “escaping the certainties of development, progress and education; recovering their own truths” (ibid.: 73).

Especially those of us who teach on those dominated ‘peripheries,’ to which Iraq has now been added. Learning from what Prakash & Esteva term the ‘refusenik cultures’ and ‘grassroots postmodernism,’ the ‘diversity of liberation in the lived pluriverse’ (ibid.; 35-85): “Postmodernism at the grassroots describes an ethos of women and men who are liberating themselves from the oppression of modern economic society. The reign of homo educandus and homo oeconomicus go hand in hand. Liberation from one cannot occur without liberation from the other” (81).

Pedagogies of Rerooting

One prime component in this pedagogy of localization (ibid.: 129-131) is the people’s right to their own language, learning to “fashion a voice for themselves from amidst the deafening channels of domination” (Canagarajah 1999: 197). To be multilingual, OK, sure. That’s cultural hybridity. A fact of our era and its geopolitics. But to ‘conscientize’ learners to withstand and oppose the agendas of Empire and McWorld (Freire 1993), learning to ‘read the wor(l)d’ critically. And to interrogate the headlong dominion of English. As Canagarajah (1999: 2) reminds us, the resistance perspective opens doors to the possibility that “the powerless in post-colonial communities may find ways to Ö reconstruct their languages, cultures, and identities to their advantage. The intention is not to reject English, but to reconstitute it in more inclusive, ethical and democratic terms.” Anti-authoritarians should help define what that reconstitution can mean.


Canagarajah, A. S. (1999). Resisting Linguistic Imperialism in English Teaching. Oxford: OUP

Dua, H. (1994). Hegemony of English. Mysore: Yashoda Publications

Esteva, G. (2001, May). “Interview with Gustavo Esteva, by Sophie Style.” ZMag, http://www.zmag.org/ZMag/articles/may01style.htm

Freire, P. (1993). Pedagogy of the Oppressed. New York: Continuum. The translator M. B. Ramos notes there that ‘conscientizaÁ„o’ refers to “learning to perceive social, political and economic contradictions and to take action against the oppressive elements of reality” (17)

Hodge, R. (2002). “Monstrous Knowledge in a World Without Borders.” borderlands e-journal, 1 (1), 14, http://www.borderlandsejournal.adelaide.edu.au/vol1no1_2002/hodge_monstrous.html

Pennycook, A. (1994). The Cultural Politics of English as an International Language. New York: Longman; _______. (1999). “Development, Culture and Language: Ethical Concerns in a Postcolonial World,” http://www.clet.ait.ac.th/hanoi_proceedings/pennycook.htm

_______. (1998). English and the Discourses of Colonialism. London: Routledge

_______. (2001). Critical Applied Linguistics: A Critical Introduction. Mahwah, N.J. Erlbaum, esp. pp. 46-73

Phillipson, R. (1992). Linguistic Imperialism. Oxford: OUP

Slotkin, R. (1993). Gunfighter Nation: The Myth of the Frontier in Twentieth-Century America. New York: HarperPerennial, esp. pp. 10-21, 654-660


An earlier version of this appeared in ZMag, June 2003. The author is based in Vientiane, Lao People’s Democratic Republic. Email: