Progressive Struggles against Insidious Capitalist Individualism – Interview with Angela Davis

Published on Jadaliyya, by Frank Barat, Sept 24, 2014 (also on ZNet).

In this interview, Angela Davis, and activist, teacher, author, and icon of the Black Power movement, talks about the linkages among global struggles. Touching upon black feminism, the importance of the collective, Palestine, the prison-industrial complex, and much more, Professor Davis expounds on the role that the people can and should play.
(A shorter version of this interview was first published in The Nation … //

… FB: How would you define “black feminism”? And what role could this play in today’s societies?

  • AD: Black feminism emerged as a theoretical and practical effort demonstrating that race, gender, and class are inseparable in the social worlds we inhabit. At the time of its emergence, black women were frequently asked to choose whether the black movement or the women’s movement was most important. The response was that this was the wrong question. The more appropriate question was how to understand the intersections and interconnections between the two movements. We are still faced with the challenge of understanding the complex ways race, class, gender, sexuality, nation and ability are intertwined—but also how we move beyond these categories to understand the interrelationships of ideas and processes that seem to be separate and unrelated. Insisting on the connections between struggles and racism in the US and struggles against the Israeli repression of Palestinians, in this sense, is a feminist process.

FB: Do you think it is time for people to disengage completely from the main political parties and from this concept that our “leaders” call representative democracy? Engaging in such a corrupt and rotten system, governed by money and greed only, gives it legitimacy, right? What about stopping this charade, stopping voting and starting to create something from the bottom up that is new and organic?

  • AD: I certainly don’t think existing political parties can constitute our primary arenas of struggle, but I do think that the electoral arena can be used as a terrain on which to organize. In the US, we have needed an independent political party for a very long time—an antiracist, feminist workers party. I also think you are absolutely right in identifying grassroots activism as being most the important ingredient of building radical movements.

FB: The Arab world has gone throughout tremendous changes in the last few years, with ongoing revolutions taking place in many countries. How important is it for people in the West to understand the complicity of our own governments in sustaining Arab dictatorships?

  • AD: I think it is entirely appropriate for people in the Arab world to demand that those of us in the West prevent our governments from bolstering repressive regimes—and especially Israel. The so-called “war on terror” has done inestimable damage to the world, including the intensification of anti-Muslim racism in the United States, Europe, and Australia. As progressives in the Global North, we certainly have not acknowledged our major responsibilities in the continuation of military and ideological attacks on people in the Arab world.

FB: You recently gave a talk in London about Palestine, G4S (Group 4 Security) which is the biggest private security group in the world, and the prison industrial complex. Could you tell us how those three are linked? … //

… FB: Coming back to your answer about violence, when I heard what you said in the documentary, I thought about Palestine. The international community and the Western media always are asking, as a precondition, that Palestinians stop the violence. How would you explain the popularity of this narrative that the oppressed have to ensure the safety of the oppressors?

  • AD: Placing the question of violence at the forefront almost inevitably serves to obscure the issues that are at the center of struggles for justice. This occurred in South Africa during the anti-Apartheid struggle. Interestingly Nelson Mandela—who has been sanctified as the most important peace advocate of our time—was kept on the US terrorist list until 2008. The important issues in the Palestinian struggle for freedom and self-determination are minimized and rendered invisible by those who try to equate Palestinian resistance to Israeli apartheid with terrorism.

FB: When were you last in Palestine? What impression did your visit leave on you?

  • AD: I traveled to Palestine in June 2011 with a delegation of indigenous and women of color feminist scholar/activists. The delegation included women who had grown up under South African apartheid, in the Jim Crow South, and on Indian Reservations. Even though we had all been previously involved in Palestine solidarity activism, all of us were utterly shocked by what we saw and we resolved to encourage our constituencies to join the BDS movement (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) and to help intensify the campaign for a free Palestine. Most recently some of us were involved in the successful passage of a resolution urging participation in the Academic and Cultural Boycott by of the American Studies Association. Also members of the delegation were involved in the passage of a resolution by the Modern Language Association censuring Israel for denying US academics entry to the West Bank in order to teach and do research at Palestinian universities.

FB: There are various means of resistance available to people who are oppressed by racist or colonial regimes or foreign occupations (i.e., Additional Protocol I of the Geneva Conventions), including through the use of armed force. Nowadays, the Palestine solidarity movement has committed itself to the route of non-violent resistance. Do you think this alone will end Israeli apartheid?

  • AD: Solidarity movements are, of course, by their very nature non-violent. In South Africa, even as an international solidarity movement was being organized, the ANC (African National Congress) and the SACP (South African Communist Party) came to the conclusion that they needed an armed wing of their movement: Umkonto We Siswe. They had every right to make that decision. Likewise, it is up to the Palestinian people to employ the methods they deem most likely to succeed in their struggle. At the same time, it is clear that if Israel is isolated politically and economically, as the BDS campaign is striving to do, Israel could not continue to implement its apartheid practices. If, for example, we in the United States could force the Obama administration to cease its eight million dollars-a-day support of Israel, this would go a long way toward pressuring Israel to end the occupation.

FB: You are part of a committee for the release of Palestinian political prisoner Marwan Barghouti and all political prisoners. How important is it, for justice to prevail, that they are all released?

  • AD: It is essential that Marwan Barghouti and all political prisoners in Israeli jails are released. Barghouti has spent over two decades behind bars. His predicament reflects the fact that most Palestinian families have had at least one member imprisoned by the Israeli authorities. There are currently some 5,000 Palestinian prisoners and we know that since 1967, 800,000 Palestinians—forty percent of the male population—have been imprisoned by Israel. The demand to free all Palestinian political prisoners is a key ingredient of the demand to end the occupation.

FB: You said during a talk at London Birkbeck University that the Palestine issue needed to become a global one, a social issue that any movement fighting for justice should have in its program or agenda. What did you mean by that?

  • AD: Just as the struggle to end South African apartheid was embraced by people all over the world and was incorporated into many social justice agendas, solidarity with Palestine must likewise be taken up by organizations and movements involved in progressive causes all over the world. The tendency has been to consider Palestine a separate—and unfortunately too often marginal—issue. This is precisely the moment to encourage everyone who believes in equality and justice to join the call for a free Palestine.

FB: Is the struggle endless?

  • AD: I would say that as our struggles mature, they produce new ideas, new issues, and new terrains on which we engage in the quest for freedom. Like Nelson Mandela, we must be willing to embrace the long walk toward freedom.

(full interview text).

Related Links:

7 feminist polemical texts to get you energized: ANGELA DAVIS, JULIA SERANO, and more …, on Bustle, by LOUISA DUNNIGAN, Aug 27, 2014;

The Ten Point Plan, on Black, not dated;

Angela Davis (born January 26, 1944) on en.wikipedia is an American political activist, scholar, and author …; dans fr.wikipedia, /Liens externes; née le 26 janvier 1944 à Birmingham en Alabama, est une militante des droits de l’homme, professeur de philosophie et militante communiste1 de nationalité américaine; auf de.wikipedia, Angela Yvonne Davis (* 26. Januar 1944 in Birmingham, Alabama) ist eine US-amerikanische Bürgerrechtlerin, Philosophin, Humanwissenschaftlerin und Schriftstellerin, die in den 1970er-Jahren zur Symbolfigur der Bewegung für die Rechte von politischen Gefangenen wurde. Außerdem war sie in den Jahren 1980 sowie 1984 hinter Gus Hall die Kandidatin der Kommunistischen Partei der USA für die US-Vizepräsidentschaft; /Einzelnachweise;

Videos with Angela Davis:

Other Links:

Russia tops ISIS threat, Ebola worst of all? Lavrov puzzled by Obama’s UN speech, on Russia Today RT, Sept 24, 2014;

Russia tops ISIS threat, Ebola worst of all? Lavrov puzzled by Obama’s UN speech, on Russia Today RT, Sept 24, 2014;

The Syrian Front: Waiting to Die in Aleppo, on Spiegel Online International, by Christoph Reuter, Sept 24, 2014 (Photo Gallery): Bashar Assad’s troops have control of western Aleppo and drop barrel bombs on the eastern half every day. Death is ever present. SPIEGEL recently spent a week in what has become a ghost town …;

Dr. Claud Anderson: Make It Black, 51.05 min, uploaded by godvia, May 25, 2013: Dr. Claud Anderson Founder & President of Think Tank, Harvest Institute, presses for inoculative and prophylactic measures to be taken by the Black Community.(2006);

Malcolm X: National Public Radio, 31.23 min, uploaded by godvia, April 26, 2013: (Undated) 1961. Piercing interview with NPR reporter wherein Malcolm X lucidly articulates his stance for Black Self-Governance. Unedited interview in its entirety released to NPR by reporter’s estate after her death;

FIU professor champions women’s health in rural India, 2.40 min, uploaded by FloridaInternational, Oct 26, 2012 … and 135 other videos in autoplay; /Sites externes;

Olivier Besancenot décrit le projet de Nouveau Parti, 25.01 min, uploaded by oziel1996, May 10, 2012; Extrait de l’intervention du meeting Debout du 03 mars 2008 … et 21 autres videos in autoplay;
Olivier Besancenot: on en.wikipedia born 18 April 1974) is a French far left political figure and trade unionist, and the founding main spokesperson of the New Anticapitalist Party (Nouveau parti anticapitaliste, NPA) from 2009 to 2011 …; See also; dans fr.wikipedia, né le 18 avril 1974 à Levallois-Perret (Hauts-de-Seine), est une personnalité politique française d’extrême gauche …; /Sites externes;

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