'Intelligent discontent is the mainspring of civilization.' -- Eugene V. Debs

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Holiday Charitable Contributions 

Charitable contributions are something that we should consider all year round, but the holidays motivate people to consider the question more seriously. For me, the question of personal and community empowerment has become increasingly primary in my thought, so here are some recommendations:

KDVS Community Alternative Radio

Now, I admit that I broadcast on KDVS, so my self-interest is rather obvious. But KDVS is a station that is cooperatively managed by students and community programmers, with very little oversight by the UC Davis administrators. Programmers are free to broadcast almost anything outside of the commercial constraints of the marketplace. If you live beyond the confines of Northern California, look for a station with similar values, and consider financially supporting them, and remember NPR stations don't qualify.

Common Ground Collective

Hurricane Katrina has exacted a terrible toll upon New Orleans, one that endures to this day. Both the federal government and institutions, such as the Red Cross, have failed to respond adequately, requiring local, grassroots organizations to step forward: Common Ground's mission is to provide short term relief for victims of hurricane disasters in the gulf coast region, and long term support in rebuilding the communities affected in the New Orleans area. Common Ground is a community-initiated volunteer organization offering assistance, mutual aid and support. The work gives hope to communities by working with them, providing for their immediate needs and emphasizes people working together to rebuild their lives in sustainable ways.

Middle East Children's Alliance

Living conditions for Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza are dire, with more than one in four Palestinians considered deeply impoverished, as are the prospects for the creation of a Palestinian state that would acknowledge their right to self-determination. Western governments have withdrawn funds because of the electoral success of Hamas, seeking to collectively punish them as a means of forcing them to elect a new government more agreeable to them. The Middle East Children's Alliance, or MECA, raises funds for food and medical supplies for them, as well as for the people of Lebanon.


Both Lebanon and Gaza were subjected to assaults by the Israeli military, using weapon systems supplied by the United States. In both instances, the US government has unequivocally supported these actions, despite the consequences for the civilian populace. Samidoun is an indigenous alternative to MECA if you want to contribute to an organization attempting to assist people in the aftermath of the IDF destruction of the infrastructure of Lebanon: SAMIDOUN is a grassroots coalition that aims to work in a democratic and participatory atmosphere. The coalition is multi-confessional and diverse in terms of nationality. The coalition is also diverse in its composition in terms of supporting organizations, from student groups, to the gay and lesbian center, to arts and film production collectives, to small political parties, to environmental groups. But the bulk of the work is through young volunteers from all over the country, some of whom are refugees themselves.

AK Press

As described by wikipedia, AK Press is a collectively owned and operated independent publisher and book distributor that specialises in radical and anarchist literature. It has published numerous books that describe social movements within the US and around the world that have been depreciated or otherwise deliberately erased from public memory by both the mainstream as well as the institutionalized left.

The reissuance of The Subversion of Politics, by Georgy Katsiaficas, is an excellent example, and, having read it myself, a real page turner, as the suppressed memories of the past are remembered:

Since the modern anti-globalization movement kicked off with the 1999 WTO protests in Seattle, a new generation has been engaging in anti-capitalist direct action. Its aims, politics, lifestyles, and tactics grow directly out of the autonomous social movements that emerged in Europe from the 1970s through the mid-1990s. In fact, today's infamous "Black Blocs" are the direct descendants of the European "Autonomen." But these important historical connections are rarely noted, and never understood.

The Subversion of Politics sets the record straight, filling in the gaps between the momentous events of 1968 and 1999. Katsiaficas presents the protagonists of social revolt—Italian feminists, squatters, disarmament and anti-nuclear activists, punk rockers, and anti-fascist street fighters—in a compelling and sympathetic light. At the same time, he offers a work of great critical depth, drawing from these political practices a new theory of freedom and autonomy that redefines the parameters of the political itself.

Consider becoming a Friend of AK Press to assist in the continued publication of books that challenge the mainstream view of history, social relations and the origins of political change.

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