Neo-Liberalism and the Defanging of Feminism

How to manufacture consent in the sex trade debate

Feminist Current

August 18, 2015

by Raquel Rosario Sanchez

So Amnesty International voted in favour of adopting a policy that calls for the full decriminalization of the sex trade. Hurray? Once the celebration or despair subsides we are left we a troubling picture… And what that picture reveals is one of deceitful propaganda and misleading rhetoric.

Amnesty International has claimed that this decision was made in the interest of protecting the safety and human rights of sex workers and included a thoughtful and thorough consultation process that explored all viable alternatives. Salil Shetti, Secretary-General of AI states, “The research and consultation carried out in the development of this policy in the past two years concluded that this was the best way to defend sex workers’ human rights and lessen the risk of abuse and violations they face.” He adds, “We also consulted with our global movement to take on board different views from around the world.”

On its face, these efforts and intentions sound noble. Yet Amnesty International has concealed the cynical origins of the policy they are now selling to the masses.

Their press releases frame the conversation as one that happened as part of a “global movement,” when in fact only about 40 per cent of their own membership participated in the process (most members, in fact, weren’t initially made aware this policy was in development). Not only that, the organization has gone to great lengths to obscure the role that brothel owner, Douglas Fox, the man who crafted the original proposal on sex trade decriminalization and lobbied the organization to this effect, played in this process.

If you look beyond the façade of human rights for “sex workers,” what is revealed is a perfect example of an organization choosing ideology and profit over the well-being and human rights of women and girls.

Fox is the owner of England’s largest escort agency, Christony Companions Escort Services. It was during one of Amnesty International’s internal debates in Newcastle in 2008 that he drafted the original policy resolution which was subsequently leaked to Julie Bindel, who exposed the draft proposal-in-process. The outrage that ensued forced Amnesty International to distance itself from Fox. But regardless of the fact that the organization does not want to be connected to Fox — a man who attacks anti-violence activists and feminists for allegedly stigmatizing people in prostitution yet insists on referring to people in prostitution as “whores” — he continues to take credit for the policy that AI has implemented.

John Dockerty and Douglas Fox, owners of Christony Companions.
John Dockerty and Douglas Fox, owners of Christony Companions.

Fox is quoted as saying that Amnesty International’s internal violence against women campaign group was the key opposition to a decriminalization policy. He saw one of the “problems” within Amnesty as being that the organization has “(in some ways very effectively) campaigned against violence against women. The people and one woman in particular who has headed this campaign has taken what effectively is an anti-escorting stance and has quoted Melissa farley and Julie Bindel heavily in their literature.” Fox brags that he “challenged this position and the statistics used both on the Amnesty web site and at the conference where I basically caused a rumpus at the violence against women stall.”

Regarding concerns about decriminalization resulting in an increase in human trafficking, supported by evidence and research, he claims, “I was asked over and over and over again about fears that supporting sex workers would increase trafficking. I won them over very easily, however, which does show that getting the press/media on our side to give counter arguments is so important.” Fox then rallied his supporters to join Amnesty International as members in order to lobby for this policy. He said, “Getting Amnesty on side will be a huge boost to our morale… We need to pursue them mercilessly and get them on side.”

And it seems Fox was successful in pushing feminist anti-violence groups aside in order to convince Amnesty to advocate on behalf of men’s right to buy and profit from the sale of women and girls.

After the policy was approved, Fox was, naturally, thrilled. “It is exactly what I hoped for,” he said. “I am very, very pleased that Amnesty has taken this position.”

As an anti-violence and anti-trafficking activist, I find the callousness of Fox’s statements and the fact that the policy proposed and lobbied for by a brothel owner was eventually passed chilling and sickening.

And how was he able to get away with it? By adopting the term “sex worker.”

See, “sex work” rhetoric means that owning a large brothel in England and allegedly doing occasional sex work on the side qualifies people like Douglas Fox to speak on behalf of prostituted people worldwide.

Welcome to the dangerously deluded world of Amnesty International, an organization that did an about face on women’s rights. A world where brothel owners and pimps are equated with prostituted people (who are overwhelmingly women and girls) in order to ignore the voices and expertise of survivors, survivor-led organizations, anti-violence organizations and sex industry scholars, as well as evidence and research that shows their new policy supporting the full decriminalization of the sex industry leads to more trafficking.

But, in fact, throwing women under the bus is not new for Amnesty International. The former head of the gender unit in the organization, Gita Sahgal, told the Observer, after she was fired, that an “atmosphere of terror” prevailed inside the organization, that “debate is suppressed,” and that staff are cowed into accepting the party line. She also called the leadership of the organization “ideologically corrupt”, saying “there is a deep misogyny in the human rights movement and the kinds of issues that women have to face tend to bring that out.”

Now that we have this dubiously-concocted policy, initiated by a pimp and funded by a billionaire, the marginalization of survivor’s voices and feminists, an unwillingness to acknowledge the real meaning of this policy, and outright lies about the evidence behind their claims, what’s next?

What’s next is the silencing of critiques of the sex industry by implying that only “sex workers” can speak in this debate. Yet this policy was not approved by prostituted women and girls, but by Amnesty International, a so-called human rights organization run by people privileged enough not to have to prostitute themselves.

The policy states, “Many sex workers feel the term ‘prostitute’ is demeaning or misogynistic, and organized sex worker groups generally prefer the term ‘sex worker’ or ‘person in the sex industry.’” What they’ve failed to mention is that many more activists who have been in the sex industry reject the term. In fact, “sex work” is a very political term that intentionally erases the reality of who is prostituted and why, allowing men like Fox, who run the largest prostitution ring in north-east England, to call themselves “sex workers.”

By arguing that only “sex workers” can speak about “sex work,” you are effectively saying that only people who are in favor of decriminalizing pimps and johns have a valid opinion about policy, as it is only those who advocate for the full decriminalization of prostitution who use the term “sex work.” That is to say, sex industry advocates use the term intentionally as part of their efforts to normalize and degender the system of prostitution. If the sentence was altered to read “listen to survivors”, “listen to prostituted people,” or “listen to people who have been commercially exploited,” Amnesty International would have ended up with a different policy.

This argument narrows the debate to ensure an individual, tit-for-tat approach in which participants are forced into an Oppression Olympics-style rhetorical contest that ignores intersectionality in order to compete to see who is marginalized enough to have a voice. Experience and personal narrative can be crucial in many instances but also they, conversely, lack the broader contextual frameworks that a systems-level analysis requires. This kind of argument also erases the fact that the sex industry is not at all some sort of grassroots organization or collective but is, instead, a billion dollar industry driven entirely by male demand.

To be empowered as a sex worker in an industry that relies on the dehumanization and constant influx of the ever-younger bodies of mainly women and girls is a privilege. As an anti-violence worker and sex industry researcher, hearing people talk about how violence-free their experiences in the sex industry have been is encouraging. But even sex industry advocates know that this experience represents a very small minority of people in the sex trade. To use these few stories to promote a policy that has been proven to further marginalize and endanger women and girls globally is inhumane, oppressive, and counter to the purported goals of a human rights organization.


[Raquel Rosario Sanchez is an activist and advocate from the Dominican Republic. Her efforts center around violence against women and girls, anti-human trafficking efforts, and death penalty abolition. She is pursuing a Master’s Degree in Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies in Oregon.]

United Nations Covers Up Child Rape in Africa and the Buying of Sex in Haiti

InnerCity Press

June 18, 2015

by Mathew Russell Lee

With scandals surrounding UN Peacekeeping, from covering up child rape by French “peacekeepers” in the Central African Republic to buying sex in Haiti and selling UN Police jobs in the DR Congo, on June 18 UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon was scheduled to give a speech to UN Force Commanders in Conference Room 9 of UN Headquarters in an open meeting, following a public photo-op with the commanders.

But when Inner City Press showed up for the photo op, UN Peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous directed one of his officials to tell Inner City Press to leave.

Inner City Press refused, noting that Ban Ki-moon’s appearance was listed in the online Media Alert of the UN Media Accreditation and Liaison Unit (MALU). Nevertheless, Ladsous’ official insisted, and Ladsous himself began to film Inner City Press with his phone.

When Ban Ki-moon and his security detail of at least four arrived, they proceeded into Conference Room 9, as did Inner City Press accompanied by a MALU staff member and a staffer from UN Photo. But just as Ban Ki-moon began speaking, two of his security officers came over and told Inner City Press to leave. In the hall they said that “the organizer” — Ladsous — had ordered it.

Inner City Press asked, if some UN official tells you to throw out the media, you just do it? “If he told you to throw me on the ground, would you throw me on the ground?”

“Somebody doesn’t have to tell me to throw you on the ground, if I’ve got to put you on the ground, I put you on the ground,” came the response. Audio here. Periscope video here. Now YouTube video permalink here.

Another security officer said, at this point the media is not coming in. That’s it.

This is called censorship. And it happened right in front of Ban Ki-moon.  When Ban came out of Conference Room 9, he had a discussion with Ladsous – what about? – then walked on by. Periscope Video II here. This is Ban’s UN, UNtransparent, descended to censorship.

Inner City Press has reported not only on Ladsous’ cover up of rapes in CAR (and before that in Minova in the DRC and Tabit in Darfur), but also on a growing lack of transparency in Ban Ki-moon’s UN, including the reported use of Ban’s name by his nephew “Dennis” Bahn while purporting to sell real estate in Vietnam to the sovereign wealth fund of Qatar. (Bahn works for Colliers International, which rents office space to and for Ban’s UN system.) Now, outright censorship.

The old UN Correspondents Association has said nothing, just as they said nothing and more when Ladsous said he would not answer Inner City Press and Ban’s spokesman decided not to call on Inner City Press to put a question to Ladsous, on the CAR rapes and cover up. The new Free UN Coalition for Access has demanded an explanation and response from MALU and the Department of Public Information above it. A senior UN official told Inner City Press, “There is no court.”

This use of UN Security is ironic, given that as Inner City Press reported on June 17 and asked Ban’s deputy spokesman about on June 18, Ban shook hands in the UN in Geneva with a person on the US Al-Qaeda terrorist list, photo here. But today’s UN has become the source of lawless censorship, amid its scandals. Watch this site.

August 11, 2015: On rapes by UN peacekeeping in Central African Republic (CAR), InnerCity Press asks UN if Ban Ki-moon will disclose findings and punish men:


August 13, 2015: When InnerCity Press asks US Samantha Power about UN rapes and the Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) cover up in Tabit, Darfur, she ignores the question and walks off the podium:


Real Men Don’t Prostitute Women

August 18, 2015

Running time: 2:38

“To understand patriarchy is to understand that free choice is a fairytale.” — Dr Meagan Tyler

“Prostitution – We Don’t Buy It” – Speakers: Tom Meagher and sex trade survivor Rachel Moran


Playboy Feminism™: how the gentleman’s porn rag co-opted the women’s movement


June 30, 2015

by Meghan Murphy


Playboy’s recent attempts to incorporate “feminist” content into their online magazine are part of a longstanding effort to sell a version of “women’s lib” that really only benefits men.

Playmate Bunnies at Playboy’s 60th anniversary celebrations in 2014. Photo: Rachel Murray/Getty Images for Playboy
Playmate Bunnies at Playboy’s 60th anniversary celebrations in 2014. Photo: Rachel Murray/Getty Images for Playboy

If you ask Hugh Hefner, he’ll tell you he “was a feminist before there was such a thing as feminism”. Just this week, Cosmopolitan republished Hef’s love letter to himself, arguing that feminism was its own worst enemy, Playboy being the true source of women’s liberation. “Everybody,” he writes, “if they’ve got their head on straight, wants to be a sexual object”.

This piece was originally published in 2007, but Hef’s been making the same argument since the 1960s. And, in fact, the magazine did promote their own version of “women’s lib” back then – supporting reproductive rights and, of course, “sexual liberation”. The Playboy Foundation even donated generously to abortion rights organisations and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) to fund daycare centers. Longtime senior editor, Nat Lehrman said the magazine “came out on these important feminist issues before feminists had figured out what their issues were”.

But their support for women was selective, to say the least, and back then there were few feminists who fell for it. Playboy still was known primarily for the centerfolds and was clear about their distaste for a certain kind of woman (and a certain kind of feminist). The Playmate was a young, happy, simple girl – not a “difficult” one, Hef told journalist, Oriana Fallaci, in 1967. Problem is, the feminist movement has fought for women to be seen as human, not one-dimensional playthings.

Claiming to support women’s rights while simultaneously insisting on our objectification was unconvincing for the second wave. But the times they are a-changing and the kind of feminism presented to today’s liberal doesn’t seem so far off from the magazine’s ethos. In an era that ascribes “empowerment” to everything from breast implants to nude selfies to pole-dancing classes, and when the hottest conversation of 2014 was Beyonce’s feminism, it only makes sense that the magazine would double-down on their efforts to capitalize on the movement.

Playboy’s existence relies on the notion of women as sexually liberated proponents of free love. As such, the introduction of the birth control pill in America was deeply connected to not only women’s liberation but to the sexual revolution – women could now have sex “like men”, no strings attached. Playboy was crafting a version of “women’s lib” that was, in the end, still male-centered. Women were permitted to be “sexual” but within the confines of a one-dimensional view of “sexuality” that had to, in the end, satisfy men.

In Right Wing Women, Andrea Dworkin said, of the sexual revolution, “It did not free women. Its purpose – it turned out – was to free men to use women without bourgeois constraints, and in that it was successful.”

So while the sexual revolution was a grand old time for men, for women it was more of a drugged up, floral-patterned version of rape culture. In the past, women could (theoretically) say “no” to sex lest they get pregnant. With the advent of the pill, there was no justifiable reason (from the perspectives of men) to say “no”.

What Playboy did 60 years ago mirrors the direction popular feminism (and liberal politics, more generally) has taken today. Playboy’s philosophy was an individualist one that valued “personal freedom” and “personal choice” above all else and saw the state as an impediment to the American Dream. Western men – progressives or activists who claim to oppose corporate power, imperialism, and white supremacy – have happily adopted Playboy’s version of feminism. Rather than questioning their own power and privilege and the way in which patriarchy has dictated representations of the female body and female sexuality, they’ve embraced porn culture, positioning the male gaze as liberatory.

In an imagined effort to defeat the virgin-whore dichotomy that had, in the past, created a class of women men could use and abuse in order to protect the “purity” of upper class women, many progressive men (and liberal feminists) found a “solution” in constructing all women as “whores.” Rather than challenge the notion of women as bodies that exist to serve men, in one way or another, whether through childbirth, sex, or unpaid domestic labour, they’ve embraced Playboy’s “all women are fuckable” vision of emancipation. And not only were all women to be sexualised, consumable objects, but they were supposed to love it. Women learned to always be “up for it,” lest we be labeled repressed prudes. Ergo, our liberation depended on our sexual availability to men.

Playboy’s “safe-for-work” site, launched in 2014, has been recruiting “feminist” content. While many saw this as an effort to rebrand, Playboy’s efforts to coopt the feminist movement are ingrained in the magazine’s history. Cory Jones, senior vice president for digital content told the Columbia Journalism Review, the brand has always been “inclusive,” “pro-consent,” and “pro-women”.

Indeed, Playboy’s foremost “feminist” writer is Noah Berlatsky, whose work exemplifies their longstanding approach to feminism: men know what’s best for feminism, regardless of what feminists say. His political philosophy appears to be “equal objectification for all”, which fits perfectly with the brand. It’s the idea that the more women we can view as “fuckable”, the more women will be liberated.

Today, Playboy and writers such as Berlatsky emphasise “choice” and “consent” in their writing on female sexuality – the objectified are meant to be eager about their objectification, not forced, not begrudging. This all serves to reinforce exactly what Hefner began selling in the 1960s: the Playboy man is a “gentleman”, which means that he won’t catcall women on the street or support revenge porn – rather, he wants a woman’s enthusiastic consent (nobody likes a downer, after all…). He wants her to have chosen objectification and to frame it has something she enjoys.

In a recent piece, Berlatsky wrote, erroneously, that radical feminists who criticise the notion that empowerment is achievable through male-dictated beauty standards were cruel and exclusionary. Misrepresenting feminist critiques of objectification as personal “attacks” on women is common practice for liberals who are unwilling to extend discourse beyond the personal. Using the language of liberal feminism, he capitalises on the very lack of accountability demanded of him as a white man, writing for Playboy, to trash and slander women who challenge the very systems of power that support him. Like Hef, he sees himself as a generous, open-minded, “feminist” man – one of the “good guys” – so kind as to engage in the sexualisation of all women, fairly and equally.

Apparently aware of critiques of both his work and of Playboy’s “feminist” marketing efforts (some of which came from myself), Berlatsky recently argued, defensively, that he chooses to write for the magazine in order to “change minds.” He claims that, despite feminists like Susan Brownmiller’s claims that Playboy doesn’t speak to women, but uses them as “masturbatory fantasies” instead, women were, in fact, enthusiastically speaking to him. Berlatsky has a habit of including particular women’s voices in his ongoing battle against feminism – women who will parrot back to him exactly what he already wants to believe and convey. It’s a shrewd move, learned from the masters. The sexual exploitation industries have always found women to bring onside – women who are hopeful that the “sexy = empowering” mantra will prove to be true. Though, somehow, despite all that sexy sex, Playboy has yet to end patriarchy…

Comedien and Playboy writer, Sara Benincasa, whose articles include “Why Every Woman Should Do A Pinup Photo Shoot,” describes herself as “a sex-positive, body-positive, fun-loving feminist”. Now, there’s nothing wrong with loving sex, your body, or fun – the problem is that these qualifiers are code for “unthreatening feminist” and, therefore, describe the ideal “Playboy Feminist”. It represents the kind of feminism that won’t interfere with men’s sexual fantasies – you can imagine the words placed right alongside a Playmate a la “I’m fun, easy going, and up for anything!”

Other “feminist” articles recently published on the site include a plea to decriminalise the purchase of sex, a piece about how empowering it is to give men blowjobs, and a couple about the compatibility of feminism and porn. The message isn’t particularly subtle…

Playboy will never bring on feminist writers who challenge men’s vision of women as beautiful creatures to be gazed at and carefree girls who are always up for a good time because it goes against everything Playboy stands for. Supporting writers who represent dissenters as bitter hags and hateful prudes is a far better marketing strategy.

What writers like Berlatsky (and Playboy as a whole) refuse to acknowledge is the possibility that women’s liberation does not rest on men’s ability to find them “beautiful.” His lie, that feminists find the bodies of naked women “disgusting” is particularly misguided (and willfully so) – we know full-well that our body-hatred derives from men like him and other Playboy readers. It is he and men of his ilk who tell us our happiness, our worth, our ability to love ourselves, our humanity, and our freedom all rest on their sexual arousal and satisfaction. Berlatsky’s misogyny is – like Playboy’s – subtle and cloaked in the language of “sex-positive feminism” and liberalism. It is a “pro-women” kind of anti-feminism. And his timing couldn’t be better.

Now that second wave feminists have been thoroughly trashed by progressive men and women alike, the time is ripe for Playboy Feminism’s resurgence. Today’s young feminist wants to make her own porn, perform stripteases (But for free… Because it’s not work, it’s “for fun”) take her objectification into her own hands via Kardashianesque Instagram “belfies”, and rebrand prostitution as an empowering choice sexually liberated women make for themselves.

Playboy never wanted to impose their version of liberation onto women – they wanted us to adopt it willingly, gleefully – with our consent. They wanted us to call it our own. And we did. Playboy Feminism is indistinguishable from mainstream liberal feminism: it is pro-capitalism, pro-sex industry, pro-beauty industry, and pro-objectification. It challenges little in terms of male power, but supports “sex” and uses buzzwords like “choice”, “agency,” and “consent” in order to avoid more complex, challenging conversations that situate “freedom” within a larger social and political context. It asks nothing of men but that they support our “choice” to hop out of our bunny suits and into the grotto.

Meghan Murphy is a writer and journalist from Vancouver, B.C. Her website is Feminist Current

Pornography, Prostitution & Trafficking

Public Good Project

by Jay Taber

Melissa Farley 1

Melissa Farley of Prostitution Research and Education discusses the public health crisis of pornography, in particular the human trafficking that makes prostitution profitable. Amnesty International is challenged by prostitution survivors to end its support for legalizing these crimes against humanity.


[Jay Taber is an associate scholar of the Center for World Indigenous Studies, a correspondent to Fourth World Eye, and a contributing editor of Fourth World Journal. Since 1994, he has served as the administrative director of Public Good Project, a volunteer network of researchers, analysts and activists engaged in defending democracy. As a consultant, he has assisted ethnic minorities and indigenous peoples seeking justice in such bodies as the European Court of Human Rights and the United Nations.]

For All Those Who Were Indian In A Former Life

Manataka American Indian Council

by Andrea Smith

The New Age movement has sparked a new interest in Native American traditional spirituality among white women who claim to be feminists. Indian spirituality, with its respect for nature and the interconnectedness of all things, is often presented as the panacea for all individual and global problems. Not surprisingly, many white “feminists” see the opportunity to make a great profit from this new craze. They sell sweat lodges or sacred pipe ceremonies, which promise to bring individual and global healing. Or they sell books and records that supposedly describe Indian traditional practices so that you too, can be Indian.

On the surface, it may appear that this new craze is based on a respect for Indian spirituality. In fact, however, the New Age movement is part of a very old story of white racism and genocide against the Indian people. The “Indian” ways that the white, New Age “feminists” are practicing have little grounding in reality.

True spiritual leaders do not make a profit from their teachings, whether it’s through selling books, workshops, sweat lodges, or otherwise. Spiritual leaders teach the people because it is their responsibility to pass what they have learned from their elders to the youngest generations. They do not charge for their services.

Furthermore, the idea that an Indian medicine woman would instruct a white woman to preach the “true path” of Indian spirituality sounds more reminiscent of evangelical Christianity than traditional Indian spirituality. Indian religions are community-based, not proselytizing religions. For this reason, there is not ONE Indian religion, as many New Agers would have you believe. Indian spiritual practices reflect the needs of a particular community. Indians do not generally believe that their way is “the” way, and consequently, they have no desire to tell outsiders about their practices. Also, considering how many Indians there are who do not  know the traditions, why would a medicine woman spend so much time teaching a white woman? A medicine woman would be more likely to advise a white woman to look into her OWN culture and find what is liberating in it.

However, some white women seem determined NOT to look into their own cultures for sources of strength. This is puzzling, since pre-Christian European cultures are also earth-based and contain many of the same elements that white women are ostensibly looking for in Native American cultures. This phenomenon leads me to suspect that there is a more insidious motive for latching onto Indian spirituality.

When white “feminists” see how white people have historically oppressed others and how they are coming very close to destroying the earth, they often want to disassociate themselves from their whiteness. They do this by opting to “become Indian.” In this way, they can escape responsibility and accountability for white racism.

Of course, white “feminists” want to become only partly Indian. They do not want to be part of our struggles for survival against genocide, and they do not want to fight for treaty rights or an end to substance abuse or sterilization abuse. They do not want to do anything that would tarnish their romanticized notions of what it means to be an Indian.

Moreover, they want to become Indian without holding themselves accountable to Indian communities. If they did they would have to listen to Indians telling them to stop carrying around sacred pipes, stop doing their own sweat lodges and stop appropriating our spiritual practices. Rather, these New Agers see Indians as romanticized gurus who exist only to meet their consumerist needs. Consequently, they do not understand our struggles for survival and thus they can have no genuine understanding of Indian spiritual practices.

While New Agers may think that they are escaping white racism by becoming “Indian,” they are in fact continuing the same genocidal practices of their forebears. The one thing that has maintained the survival of Indian people through 500 years of colonialism has been the spiritual bonds that keep us together. When the colonizers saw the strength of our spirituality, they tried to destroy Indian religion by making them illegal. They forced Indian children into white missionary schools and cut their tongues if they spoke their Native languages.

Sundances were made illegal, and Indian participation in the Ghost Dance precipitated the Wounded Knee massacre. The colonizers recognized that it was our spirituality that maintained our spirit of resistance and sense of community. Even today, Indians do not have religious freedom. In a recent ruling the Supreme Court has determined that American Indians do not have the right to sue under the American Indian Religious Freedom Act. They have also determined that if Indian religious freedom conflicts with any “compelling” United States interest, the government always supersedes Indian peoples’ freedom of religion.

Many white New Agers continue this practice of destroying Indian spirituality. They trivialize Native American practices so that these practices lose their spiritual force, and they have the white privilege and power to make themselves heard at the expense of Native Americans. Our voices are silenced, and consequently the younger generation of Indians who are trying to find their way back to the Old Ways becomes hopelessly lost in this morass of consumerist spirituality.

These practices also promote the subordination of Indian women to white women. We are told that we are greedy if we do not choose to share our spirituality. Apparently, it is our burden to service white women’s needs rather than to spend time organizing within our own communities. Their perceived need for warm and fuzzy mysticism takes precedence over our need to survive.

The New Age movement completely trivializes the oppression we as Indian women face: Indian women are suddenly no longer the women who are forcibly sterilized and tested with unsafe drugs such as Depo Provera; we are no longer the women who have a life expectancy of 47 years; and we are no longer the women who generally live below the poverty level and face a 75 percent unemployment rate. No, we’re too busy being cool and spiritual.

This trivialization of our oppression is compounded by the fact that nowadays anyone can be Indian if s/he wants to. All that is required is that one be Indian in a former life, or take part in a sweat lodge, or be monitored by a “medicine woman,” or read a how-to book.

Since, according to this theory, anyone can now be “Indian,” then the term Indians no longer refers specifically to those people who have survived five hundred years of colonization and genocide. This furthers the goals of white supremacists to abrogate treaty rights and to take away what little we have left. When everyone becomes “Indian,” then it is easy to lose sight of the specificity of oppression faced by those who are REALLY Indian in THIS life. It is no wonder we have such a difficult time finding non-Indians to support our struggles when the New Age movement has completely disguised our oppression.

The most disturbing aspect about these racist practices is that they are promoted in the name of feminism. Sometimes it seems that I can’t open a feminist periodical without seeing ads promoting white “feminist” practices with little medicine wheel designs. I can’t seem to go to a feminist conference without the woman who begins the conference with a ceremony being the only Indian presenter. Participants then feel so “spiritual” after this opening that they fail to notice the absence of Indian women in the rest of the conference or Native American issues in the discussions. And I certainly can’t go to a feminist bookstore without seeing books by Lynn Andrews and other people who exploit Indian spirituality all over the place. It seems that, while feminism is supposed to signify the empowerment of all women, it obviously does not include Indian women.

If white feminists are going to act in solidarity with their Indian sisters, they must take a stand against Indian spiritual abuse. Feminist book and record stores should stop selling these products, and feminist periodicals should stop advertising these products. Women who call themselves feminists should denounce exploitative practices wherever they see them.

Many have claimed that Indians are not respecting “freedom of speech” when they demand that whites stop promoting and selling books that exploit Indian spirituality. But promotion of this material is destroying freedom of speech for Native Americans by ensuring that our voices will never be heard. Feminists have already made choices about what they will promote (I haven’t seen many books by right-wing, fundamentalist women sold in feminist bookstores, since feminists recognize that these books are oppressive to women.) The issue is not censorship; the issue is racism. Feminists must make a choice either to respect Indian political and spiritual autonomy, or to promote materials that are fundamentally racist under the guise of “freedom of speech.”

Respecting the integrity of Native people and their spirituality does not mean that there can never be cross-cultural sharing. However, such a sharing should take place in a way that is respectful to Indian people.

The way to be respectful is for non-Indians to become involved in our political struggles and to develop an on-going relation with Indian COMMUNITIES based on trust and mutual respect. When this happens, Indian  people may invite a non-Indian to take part in a ceremony, but it will be on Indian terms.

I hesitate to say this much about cross-cultural sharing however, because many white people take this to mean that they can join in our struggles solely for the purpose of being invited to ceremonies. If this does not occur, they feel that Indians have somehow unfairly withheld spiritual teachings from them. We are expected to pay the price in spiritual exploitation in order to gain allies in our political struggles.

When non-Indians say they will help us, but only on their terms, that is not help – that is blackmail. We are not obligated to teach anyone about our spirituality. It is our choice if we want to share with people who we think will be respectful. It is white people who owe it to us to fight for our survival, since they are living on the land for which our people were murdered.

It is also important for non-Indians to build relationships with Indian communities, rather than with specific individuals. Many non-Indians express their confusion about knowing who is and who is not a legitimate spiritual teacher. The only way for non-Indians to know who legitimate teachers are is to develop ongoing relationships with Indian COMMUNITIES. When they know the community, they will learn who the community respects as its spiritual leaders. This is a process that takes time.

Unfortunately, many white feminists do not want to take this time in their quest for instant spirituality. Profit-making often gets in the way of true sisterhood. However, white feminists should know that as long as they take part in Indian spiritual abuse, either by being consumers of it or by refusing to take a stand on it, Indian women will consider white “feminists” to be nothing more than agents in the genocide of their people.



Editor’s Note:  The article above first appeared in the “Cultural Survival Quarterly”, Winter 1994 and was written by Andrea Smith, who is a member of “Women Of All Red Nations” in Chicago, and she is the Chairperson for Women of Color for the “National Coalition Against Sexual Assault”.  While branded by right-wing Catholics as controversial, pro-gay, pro-abortion and a radical feminist, her opinions bear a strong resemblance to truth that some people find offensive.  We do not.


Human Rights vs. Right Based Fishing: The Ideological Battleground in Siem Reap

World Forum of Fishers People

April 28, 2015

By the international secretariat of the World Forum of Fisher Peoples – 26 April 2015


(2014) Photo courtesy of Masifundise 

On 23-27 March 2014, six representatives from the global fisher movements, the WFFP and WFF, supported by ICSF and a couple of researchers, participated in the UserRights2015 Conference in Siem Reap, Cambodia. Few in numbers, these delegates represents millions of people from indigenous and small-scale fishing communities. The additional 130 participants were from government, inter-governmental organisations, academia, big business, and international conservation organisations.

Even after the five days in Cambodia, it remains somehow unclear what the conference aimed at achieving. Bringing together 140 people from across the world – of whom only about 45 were women – should clearly aim at something more concrete than providing “… guidance on how to support appropriate rights-based systems in fisheries and thereby contribute to a sustainable future:”1

During the five days, it became clear that the dominant, hegemonic view brought to the fore by most speakers and delegates centred around ‘private property’ as a fundamental basis for user rights in fisheries. In fisheries governance this is also referred to as Rights Based Fishing, ITQs, Wealth Based Fishing or Catch Shares by various different players.

There is an irony in this almost fundamentalist belief in private property. On the one hand the FAO – the key host of the conference – and the World Bank aims at eliminating huger and reducing rural poverty. On the other hand, the World Bank – as one of the most powerful players in fisheries governance globally – admitted that the private property system is good for some and bad for many. If the very system aggressively promoted by the World Bank – and many other participants at the UserRights conference – is bad for many, how then can it contribute to eliminating hunger and reducing poverty?

For more examples on the devastating consequences of private property systems in fisheries – or Rights Based Fishing – see the Global Ocean Grab: A Primer.

The WFFP delegates repeatedly argued – from the floor, as panellists and in presentations – that small-scale fisheries must be governed by applying a Human Rights Based approach. The underpinning principles of such an approach include equality, indigenous peoples rights, food sovereignty, gender equity, poverty alleviation for all, customary and traditional rights, traditional low-impact fishing, and participation in governance. Yet, these arguments only gave rise to a minimal dialogue, and on numerous occasions the responses were degrading and unwarranted.

The form of the conference allowed for many short and long presentations but limited scope for real engagement and dialogue. As such, it took the shape of an ideological battleground, where the strongest voice may end up being the one that finds its way into a conference report. Considering that proponents of private property were stronger in numbers and were allocated the majority of slots – air time – at the conference, it is feared that the views of the WFFP will becomes oppressed in the outcomes of the conference. While we do not know what to expect in terms of concrete outcomes, it is speculated that the conference will produce a report that will be used by the FAO with respect to its future work on fisheries governance, including the International Guidelines on the responsible Governance of tenure of land, fisheries and forests (Tenure Guidelines) and the International Guidelines for Securing Sustainable Small-Scale Fisheries (SSF Guidelines).

Considering that the FAO recently endorsed the SSF Guidelines (2014) and the Tenure Guidelines (2012), it was expected that the FAO would use the guidelines to set the scene and inform the contents of the programme. Yet, aside from a couple of references on the official conference website and the mentioning of the guidelines in an opening speech, it was only the WFFP, WFF and ICSF who consistently made use of the guidelines to inform presentations and dialogue. Many participants seemed unaware of the guidelines – or outright ignored their existence – and the FAO officials showed disappointingly little interest in picking up on the linkages between the main theme of the conference – ‘user rights’ – and the Tenure and SSF Guidelines.

Considering that the FAO has invested huge amounts of human and financial resources in the development of the guidelines, this almost ignorant position is even more controversial.

The strategic use of language in Siem Reap

While many of the ‘usual suspects’ spoke openly about the need for private property, ITQs and similar terms in relation to fisheries governance, some adapted the language and thereby masked their underlying belief in private property as the one and only solution. This way of adapting the language is used to strategically persuade others – including fisher movements across the world – about their ‘honest’ and ‘sincere’ support and not only in Siem Reap but more generally so. At face value, it can be difficult to distinguish the good from the bad, but by looking just a bit deeper it’s not that difficult at all. One approach is to look where the funding comes from, and another is to do a bit of research on the political positions of the various actors and to find out who is serving on their boards. Too often, and in particular with international conservation organisations, we see a very close tie with multinational agri-businesses, super-market chains or other financial giants, and some are even governed by top-business people from the same funding corporations.

In the light of the above, it should come as no surprise that the overall impression of the WFFP is that the conference failed in ‘providing guidance’ – which was the only concrete objective of the conference mentioned on the website. Yet, the participation in the conference was crucial for a couple of reasons. Firstly, without the interventions of the WFFP and friends from WFF, ICSF and a couple of researchers, the conference would have been an assembly of neo-liberal thinkers and institutions who would have had an unhindered opportunity to develop their own plans for fisheries governance on the basis of private property regimes. Secondly, the knowledge and information about some of the key actors and their agendas, which we have gained by participating in the conference, is critical for developing and refining strategies on how to push for a Human Rights Based approach and the implementation of the FAO Guidelines.

A couple of facts about UserRights2015

Donors/partners: Environmental Defence Fund (EDF), Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad) Norad and Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida)

Participants: 95 men and 45 women

1 The only concrete reference to the objectives of the conference on the official website:

Allende was Wrong: Neoliberalism, Venezuela’s Student Right and the Answer from the Left

Venezuela Analysis

February 10, 2015

By Lucas Koerner 


“Defend university autonomy for a true popular democracy.” “Freedom and Autonomy.” “Movement 13 welcomes you to study, struggle, and love.” 

No, these slogans I saw adorning the walls were not copied from the University of Chile, where I studied in 2012-2013, researching and struggling alongside the Chilean student movement that is militantly fighting to overturn the neoliberal educational regime imposed under Pinochet. But they very easily could have been. No, I was not at a militant Leftist public university; I was in Mérida, at the Faculty of Humanities of the University of Los Andes (ULA), which is regarded as the principal recruiting ground for Venezuela’s rightwing student movement.

On Friday, January 23, the ULA erupted once again in violent student protests in which masked students temporarily set up barricades and attempted to forcibly enter several local stores. For local residents, these protests represented a bitter reminder of the “Guarimba,” the several months of violent opposition demonstrations in which rightwing students together with Colombian paramilitaries shut down major avenues with barricades and assassinated police and Chavista activists in a desperate bid to force the salida, or exit, of President Nicolás Maduro.

What is most confusing and troubling is the fact that the discourse of “university autonomy” has always been a slogan of the Left, which young people from Chile to Greece have utilized to defend themselves from outright repression at the hands of dictatorial regimes as well as from the far more nefarious structural violence of neoliberal privatization. Moreover, the practices of donning the capucha, or mask, setting up street barricades, and hurling molotov cocktails in pitched street battles with police are tried and true Leftist tactics developed in the course of grassroots struggles against the authoritarian capitalist state in contexts as distinct as Venezuela, France, and Palestine.

Yet in contemporary Venezuela, these historically Leftist forms of struggle, encompassing discourses, symbols, and tactical repertoires, have been appropriated by rightwing students, but with an ideological content that could not be more radially opposed: far from rebels or revolutionaries, these rightwing students are reactionaries through and through, bent on reversing the gains of the Bolivarian Revolution and restoring the oligarchic order firmly in place for 500 years prior to the conquest of power by the revolutionary grassroots movements that comprise Chavismo.

Here we are confronted by the stone-cold realization that there is nothing inherently revolutionary about young people, or students for that matter. Sadly, we are forced to concede that Salvador Allende, who famously said, “to be young and not revolutionary is a biological contradiction,” was wrong.

In what follows, I will offer some cursory notes towards an explanation of this rightward shift among certain segments of Venezuelan students together with their paradoxical appropriation of historically Leftist modes of struggle, focusing on the gentrification of the Venezuelan university as well as the ascendancy of neoliberal ideology as two crucial conditions for this overall process of ideological mutation. I will conclude with an interview with Javier, a student of political economy at the Bolivarian University of Venezuela, who currently put his studies on hold to pursue worker organizing in coordination with local communal councils. Javier will discuss the Bolivarian University as a radical pedagogical alternative from below as well as the struggles faced by revolutionary students in the face of a resurgent Right.

The Gentrification of the Venezuelan University

This dramatic ideological metamorphosis undergone by Venezuelan student movements cannot be explained outside the context of the neoliberal “gentrification” of the university. Nonetheless, this neoliberalization only came in the wake of the brutal repression of decades of radical student struggles that sought to bring down the walls that separate the “ivory tower” from the social reality of the poor, excluded majority.

At its height; the 1969 movement for “Academic Renovation” fought for a radical democratization of the university, whereby students, faculty, and university workers would have equal decision-making power; which George Ciccariello-Mahr terms a “radicalization of the very notion of autonomy itself, one that asserted autonomy from the government while insisting that the university be subservient to the needs of the wider society of which students and workers were a part.”1 As we will see later, it is precisely this more nuanced, dialectical notion of autonomy that is lacking among those presently claiming to speak on behalf of Venezuelan students.

The revolutionary Renovation movement was savagely crushed by the government of Rafael Caldera, who unceremoniously sent tanks to close down the Central University of Venezuela (UCV). Nonetheless, this outright repression was tame by comparison to the “more insidious… subtle, and long-term policy of ethnic cleansing within the public university [which was realized] by limiting popular access and returning the institutions to their previous status as refuges for the most elite segments of society.”2 This progressive embourgeoisement of the Venezuelan university prefigured a similar process that would occur globally in the context of the neoliberal turn of the subsequent decades, in which public universities from the University of California to the University of Chile saw ruthless cuts in public funding, privatization of services, dramatic tuition hikes, and creeping technocratization, all with profound implications for social class composition. That is, the youth filling the halls of Venezuelan public universities came increasingly from the ranks of the bourgeoisie and petty-bourgeoisie, which rendered them all the more vulnerable to the seductive appeal of neoliberal ideology.

Unfortunately, this tendency has not been entirely reversed under the Bolivarian governments of Chavez and Maduro. While the Bolivarian Revolution has seen the creation of a new system of Bolivarian universities in an effort to outflank the traditional public universities as we will see below, the government and the array of radical social forces driving it from below have thus far been unable to launch a frontal assault.

In other words, whilst these traditional universities are “public” in name and nominally free for all students, historic public universities such as the UCV nevertheless retain all kinds of classist filtering mechanisms, such as entrance exams and additional fees for registration, books, etc., that serve to effectively bar working class students from attending. Most egregious in this respect are the so-called “autonomous universities” such as the ULA, which are conferred unquestioned authority over internal decision-making, while at the same time receiving full state funding, amounting in some cases to the budget of a Caribbean nation, for which they are obligated to give little in the way of formal accounting.

Moreover, this lingering bourgeois form of education in the traditional universities is matched by a thoroughly technocratic content, in which education is conceived as the production of upwardly-mobile experts insulated from the daily struggles of the masses, who are destined to serve the bureaucratic state or capital. As Javier, a student of political economy at the recently founded Bolivarian University succinctly put it, this capitalist model of education is about getting you to subscribe to the bourgeois careerist fiction that you need to study in order to “be someone,” fetichizing education as a sterile commodity purchased like any other in order to augment one’s “human capital,” as consistent with neoliberal logic.

Given this disproportionately elite class composition and thoroughly bourgeois educational paradigm, it is no wonder then that the student federations of public universities like the UCV and the ULA are now governed by the Right.

Neoliberalism: The Illusion of Subversion

While the changing class composition of Venezuelan universities over previous decades represents an important structural factor behind the rise of Venezuela’s rightwing student movement, we cannot neglect the particular characteristics of neoliberal ideology, namely its seductive capacity for passing as radical or revolutionary. But first, what is neoliberalism?

Neoliberalism might be defined as “historical, class-based ideology that proposes all social, political, and ecological problems can be resolved through more direct free-market exposure, which has become an increasingly structural aspect of capitalism.”3 Emerging as the political response on the part of the capitalist state to the economic crisis of the 1970s, neoliberalism sought to roll back the “democratic gains that had been previously achieved by the working classes, and which had become, from capital’s perspective, barriers to accumulation.”4 It was in this context of the ‘68 revolt that the revolutionary Left and the neoliberal Right would share a proclaimed common enemy, namely an overbearing, bureaucratic state engaged in bloody imperialist wars abroad and fierce repression at home, although the anti-statism of the latter was pure rhetoric, as neoliberal politicians were content to use the state to implement their class project.5

In what followed, the post-’68 demands leveled against the capitalist state for formal individual rights by the hegemonic variants of the feminist, LGBT, civil rights, etc. movements were perfectly compatible with the neoliberal agenda, which in turn spawned the “NGOization” of Leftist politics whereby non-profits progressively took over the leadership of social movements and channeled them in a de-radicalized, localized direction.In what followed, the post-’68 demands leveled against the capitalist state for formal individual rights by the hegemonic variants of the feminist, LGBT, civil rights, etc. movements were perfectly compatible with the neoliberal agenda, which in turn spawned the “NGOization” of Leftist politics whereby non-profits progressively took over the leadership of social movements and channeled them in a de-radicalized, localized direction. These developments gave rise to the normalization of petty-bourgeois lifestyle politics, especially in the newly gentrified universities, wherein demands for “diversity” and “inclusion” of underprivileged minorities could safely be made without ruffling any feathers. Thus, the dangerous lure of neoliberal ideology lies in its ability to render individualistic lifestyle politics, i.e. demanding access to consumer items, as cathartic acts of authentic revolt and resistance. Even as critical a thinker as Michel Foucault was seduced by neoliberalism’s apparent radicalism, joining in its chorus against the welfare state and praising it as a vehicle to promote the rights of the “excluded” (prisoners, LGBT people, women, those deemed “mentally ill,” etc.).6

We should not, therefore, be surprised by the fact that a segment of Venezuelan students don the traditional clothing of the Left and actually consider themselves revolutionaries facing down what they consider an oppressive dictatorship. But we must not be fooled. What the Venezuelan Right is attempting to do is appropriate the historic slogans, symbols, and tactics of the Left, but strip them of all collective emancipatory content, which is replaced with bourgeois individualist demands for consumer choice. Thus, the “freedom” that they demand has nothing to do with the plethora of social rights conquered under the Bolivarian Revolution, but here connotes unregulated access to dollars, weekend getaways to Miami, the “right” to own and exploit.

The “autonomy” that they clamor for amounts to nothing short of total unaccountability to the rest of society, while continuing to lay claim to the latter’s resources. The militant tactics of the street barricade, the capucha, and the Molotov do not figure here as legitimate forms of mass resistance or revolutionary intervention, but represent instances of fascist, paramilitary violence enacted by individuals against a government of the people. Nonetheless, it is precisely the apparently “anti-authoritarian” character of neoliberal ideology that enables the Venezuelan student Right to retrofit traditionally Leftist forms of struggle with reactionary bourgeois content, effectively disguising their shrill cries for individualist consumer choice as a righteous chorus of social rebellion.

However, this rightwing appropriation does not go uncontested. If symbols like the capucha and the barricade ultimately constitute what Ernesto Laclau terms “empty signifiers” that can be filled with any ideological content, then their meaning is perpetually disputed in the heat of social struggle. In other words, the Right’s usurpation can and must be reversed by new generations of revolutionary young people, struggling to at once reclaim the past and win the war for a socialist future.

The Bolivarian University of Venezuela: The Answer from the Bolivarian Left

The flagship of the Bolivarian government’s revolutionary initiative for higher education, the Bolivarian University of Venezuela (UBV) was founded in 2003 as part of the Mission Sucre, which has saw the radical expansion of access to quality public education among the popular classes historically excluded from the Venezuelan educational system. Today, the UBV annually graduates more students than any other institution of higher education in the country. Apart from rupturing with the traditionally oligarchic form of Venezuelan higher education, which has historically been the province of the elite, the UBV also proposes a revolution in the practical content of education, which it defines as “liberating, with criteria of social justice, inclusive, free and quality.”

I had the opportunity to sit down with Javier, a student of political economy at the Bolivarian University, who has temporarily frozen his studies in order to take on worker organizing in his community in 23 de Enero, located in the vast working class area in the west of Caracas known as Catia. He also works as a facilitator in the Bolivarian University for Workers “Jesus Rivero” in the Capital District government, which aims to raise political and class consciousness amongst public workers and prepare them for “assuming the direct and democratic management of the social process of work”. All facilitation sessions take place at the workplace itself.

His words paint a provisional picture of the depth of the revolution in educational praxis currently underway in Venezuela.

Q: Can you speak about the popular pedagogical project of the Bolivarian University?

A: Well if I were to talk about a popular project towards the structural transformation of the state and also the structural transformation of our thinking that we have currently, I would openly uphold [the example of] the Bolivarian University of the Workers, because, it’s a university that breaks with the top-down, positivist framework of education. The worker or compañero takes on the process of self-education in the space of work itself. This leads to the complete reevaluation of the education I have in my mind that I reproduce in practice, and this critical reevaluation of thought and practice lets me reinvent myself. The thinking that I have is a different kind of thought pattern that breaks with the frameworks of the capitalist system.

Moreover, our university sets down [the model of] self-education through reading, debate, and writing. This means that we don’t deny existing theories. We read the current theory, which is the systematization of struggles, for theories are the systematization of the struggles of the people, of the experience of the people. We debate this systematization, and we see if it can be adjusted to our present moment in order to not be dogmatic, but rather dialectical. Continuous, collective, integrated, and permanent self-education, that is the strategy. It is collective, because we all educate ourselves through the exchange of knowledge. It is continuous and permanent, because it never stops and we are always educating ourselves. It is integrated: We can specialize in an area, but we truly have to also know a little about everything, because labor is not an individual process, but a social one, where we all participate and we are all important in the development of the nation.

We also address the question of the management of the social labor process in order to be able to bring about structural transformations. When we talk about taking on the management of the social labor process, it’s the whole process. We realize this when we look at the arepa: the person who sows the corn, the person who harvests the corn, the person, who transports the corn, the person who processes the corn. In other words, the arepa comes out of a process in which there are very many people participating, the truck driver, the compañero in the factory, the compañera amassing the cornmeal; it’s all important work. So we propose that we take on the whole process and view ourselves as equals in struggle. This then is what permits us to truly form a culture of work that is not the competitive culture of work of the capitalist system, but rather a culture of work that guarantees the happiness of our people, we ourselves taking over the organization of what is truly socialism, the structural transformation of the state that we have.

Q: I want to follow your last point to a more macro level. How do you place the Bolivarian University in the context of the socialist struggle more broadly in society, particularly in terms of struggles over education?

A: Many of the universities teach the students a [large] number of lies that we at the Bolivarian University of Workers work to dismantle. We therefore have to dismantle the [large] number of lies that the capitalist system has sold us. One of these things that that they sell you in the universities is that you have to study to be someone. But they don’t explain to you that from the moment that you are in your mother’s womb, you already are someone, someone important. If you were to lose vital signs in the womb, your, mother would feel a great pain, and not only your mother, but your father, your closest family members. So, we are headed towards breaking with this framework of education, this deceitful education that continues to view you as labor-power.

[In contrast], the Bolivarian University of the Workers teaches, which is fundamental and essential, the review of the development of struggle in our society from the perspective of labor. How did our society undergo transformations? How were the instruments of labor forged, and how also how were the mechanisms of social division created? How did this social division take us to the point of creating systems of domination? In one moment, we lived under what was primitive communism, then we lived under slavery, and then what was feudalism, and now we are living under a system that continues to be slavery, that is the capitalist system, where they continue to dominate us with miserable wages and there’s no just distribution of wealth.

In our revolutionary Bolivarian process guided by our President Hugo Rafael Chávez Frias, he addressed all of these historic struggles, but he also set down the important and timely objective in our Constitution and organic law of the just distribution of wealth. And if a compañero has a great factory bought with what he says is the product of his labor, we don’t believe him above all because the amount of property that he has is the product of alien labor and he pays [his workers] a miserable portion of the wealth that he receives from their labor. So, we are going to rupture with this system, go about rethinking, to understand that we can have other forms of organization for managing public administration. It could be a counsel administration, of counsels with revolutionary leadership, where the most dedicated compañeras and compañeros are vindicated and recognized. In this dynamic, we are not saying that we [the workers] are the only historic subject of our Bolivarian process, but rather that the campesino, the fisherman, the transport worker are also important. The path of communal [organizing] is also important, and so is the struggle of the compañeras and compañeros in the student centers, who keep on despite being pounded by this education of the capitalist system. For us, it is the recognition of all of the compañeras and compañeros in our struggles that matters.

We have also proposed that this process of collective, continuous, integral, and permanent self-education has to reach the communal councils, the communes, the colectivos, the social movements, whatever organizational expression that they might have. It has to reach [these spaces], because, we have to break with and decentralize the [traditional] conception of the university. It’s a great struggle we all have to take on, because what is the university, but the universalization of knowledge. You, I, all of  the compañeros here, the bus driver, all of the people who are here in this medium of transport possess knowledge.7 What we have to do is create the spaces where we can expound the amount of knowledge that we have and expound as well the amount of needs that we have, and in function of this, begin planning [society, especially the economy] ourselves.

Q: Many young people in this society, in the universities, have been deceived, and there’s a struggle for hegemony among young people in this country. For instance, we have a rightwing student movement that is producing openly violent and fascist leaders. How do you view the role of these alternative pedagogical projects in this struggle with the Right?

A: For us, the fact that the compa is young does not mean that he is revolutionary, that he is for structural transformation. The Right has many young people, but they are old in their thinking, because they continue upholding capitalist thinking. One has to be young in different areas, physically, but above all in one´s thinking. If there is a man who we could say marked a watershed in our history, not just for decades, but for centuries, it is Hugo Rafael Chávez Frias, because he shattered the framework, he imploded the schema of the bourgeois state. He imploded a space of great domination with new thinking. With liberating thinking, he imploded the space of the army, of our armed forces, a repressive organ that was directed against its own people on February 27th and 28th, 1989.8 He had a reflexive capacity, because Comandante Hugo Chávez Frias had already been doing this work. It’s continuous, it’s work that is going to take a long time, and we have to dedicate our heart and soul to the work that we are called to do and not neglect a single area.

The other task is to recognize our advances. The fact is that we have graduated an amount of compañeras and compañeros who have not graduated in forty years during which they didn’t have access to education. Yes, we can and must deepen our revolutionary process to advance towards socialism, but it’s also important to recognize all of the advances that we’ve had thus far.

Q: I went to the ULA last week and I fascinated by the discourse of autonomy and freedom appearing in their murals, the capucha that they use, all of which is an appropriation of the discourse and symbolism of the Left. How do you respond to this?

A: They have always tried to take our symbols away from us. For us, the capucha is a symbol of struggle. It’s ours. It was us who had to mask our faces [and protest in the streets], because we didn’t have an adequate education, above all in high school, but also in the university. We had many problems during the Fourth Republic, and we had to take to the streets, because they raised the student transportation fare. We had take to the streets, because we had to have class on the floor, because there were no chairs, because the roof was leaking. We lived through all of this, and for those reasons, we went out into the streets.

Today, there is a movement that is trying to take the streets, but responding to the interests of the private companies and the private media, which regrettably under our revolutionary process continue to have an economic power, which is expressed in the media, in the rumor campaigns. What we have to do is dismantle this vast amount of lies, but these rumors have an effect, because there’s a number of lies that we still have in our heads, that we have not yet dismantled. It’s a great challenge.

Evidently, many groups there [at the opposition marches] are paid, many groups that don’t truly represent our people. You can ask them. There were some compañeros of the people interviewing  some of the people who participated on January 24th in the “March of the Empty Pots,” which we might rather have called the “March of the Empty Heads,” because they don’t think. So they interviewed them and asked them if they were poor, to which they quickly respond, “I’m not poor.”

Besides, this is an example of them trying to steal our symbols, the pots, which our people took out to the streets before the Caracazo and after the Caracazo, because the pots were truly empty, there was nothing to eat. Today no, it’s an economic war, they are hoarding everything, and everyone has seen the amount of food that we have. They tell us that there is no flour, but there’s not a single arepera closed. They say that that there’s no milk, but there’s no shortage of yogurt. So they are trying to escape from the regularization of the sale of these products in order to reap greater profits, but not only to reap greater profits, but also to boycott the revolutionary government and that this unrest be directed against the revolutionary government of Nicolás Maduro.

From here, we have to go out in the streets with an alternative popular communication that engages face-to-face with our people and dismantles the large amount of lies, but we also must develop the productive forces. Beyond a crisis, well there is a crisis, but it´s a crisis of their system, a crisis of capitalism, because the socialist system still doesn’t exist yet. So we have to take advantage of this crisis of the capitalist system and come out of it advancing ahead with the development of our productive forces, evidently organized according to a distinct logic of work, a new culture of work that is liberating: labor that truly educates you to build this new republican order envisioned by our philosopher and pedagogue Simon Rodriguez, the teacher of Simon Bolivar.




1 Ciccariello-Maher, G. (2013). We created Chávez: A people’s history of the Venezuelan revolution. Durham; Duke University Press, p. 113.

2 Ibid., p. 112.

3 Marois cited in Weber, J.R. (2011). Red october: Left-Indigenous struggles in modern Bolivia. Brill: Boston, p. 30.

4 Panitch, L., & Gindin, S. (2012). The making of global capitalism: The political economy of American empire. Verso: London, p. 15.

5 Harvey, D. (2005). A brief history of neoliberalism. Oxford University Press: New York, p. 42.

6 See Zamora, D. (2014). “Can we criticize Foucault?” Jacobin, 10 December 2014.

7 Note: This interview was conducted on a public metro bus en route from Ciudad Caribia to Metro Gato Negro in Catia.

8 February 27 and 28, 1989 refers to the Caracazo, the explosion of mass social mobilizations rejecting neoliberal measures imposed by the government of Carlos Andrés Pérez, under whose orders the army occupied the streets of Caracas and proceeded to gun down anywhere between 300 and 3000 people.

How to Uphold White Supremacy by Focusing on Diversity and Inclusion

December 10, 2014 | 2014 in Review

Liberalism’s Inherent Racism

by Kyra

Since the civil rights movement, white people have exploited every opportunity to conceal their colonialist legacy and longstanding (ab)use of white supremacist power. They’ve proven time and again that they have no interest in rectifying that history, only in dealing with the fact that they could no longer deny the reality of those injustices. One effective tactic has been to separate white supremacy and colonialism from the way racism is understood and taught through schools, history textbooks, news media, and through any white-controlled institutions. These lessons, of anti-racism as-told-by-white-people, will be familiar to you: that racism is only explicit racial prejudice; that separatism is the essence of Jim Crow (and therefore inclusion is the antithesis to de jure segregation); and that the remedy for a racist society is a colorblind one.

All of these assumptions are grounded in liberalism: the egalitarian principle which works to ignore and erase difference rather than to undo oppression. It strives for a post-feminist, post-queer, post-racial or racially colorblind world. Liberalism as an ideology deems equal rights and equal treatment as a higher priority than? material justice, or as an effective means towards ?it. Its presumptions of equality are false, as individualist equality may be written into law and policy while material inequality thrives. It effectively abstracts and obscures power dynamics along lines of race, class, and gender. The difference between material justice and liberalism is the difference between actually making reparations for a long history of racism and countries like Austria, Finland, Hungary, France, and now Sweden removing all mentions of “race” from their legislation.

Liberalism is not the opposite of conservatism on a left-right political spectrum, but a set of values that informs various other political ideologies including conservatism and libertarianism. Even the most popular manifestations of feminism and radical political thought (anarchism, communism, and socialism) are their most liberal forms. You can recognize the influence of liberalism in any political philosophy or practice that?, ?consciously or not?, ?focuses on individual equality before social power. What is it that says that ending racism means setting aside our differences and finding commonality? Liberalism. What is it that says that we need love to bring us together and to end the hate which drives us apart? Liberalism. What is it that says to choose unity over disunion? Liberalism. What is it that says racism/sexism/sizeism hurts everyone? Liberalism.

A large public art structure with alphabetical blocks spelling out 'LOVE'.

Photo CC-BY jm scott, filtered.

All of these ideas value a certain perception of equality at the expense of those who suffer due to social inequality. That’s why you’ll notice this rhetoric so frequently employed to dismiss oppressed people who direct their anger…at their oppressors. Through a white-writing of history (and history textbooks) that erases and minimizes all of the revolts that were necessary for change, liberals are able to demand that protesters remain totally peaceful, pacifist, and nonviolent (by which they mean non-destructive of property) in the face of dehumanization, degradation, and absolute repressive violence (the actual destruction of human life). White liberals and their sympathizers take ideas and quotes from Martin Luther King out of context and use them to shame disruptive protesters as rioters and looters, dismiss more militant activists as spiteful and vengeful, blaming them all for their own conditions.

The toxic effects of liberalism are clear in diversity advocacy and its language. Take the reframing of affirmative action as an initiative to promote diversity. Affirmative action was created in recognition of a centuries-long legacy of racism and historically discriminatory hiring/admissions practices. It is remedial in nature, and requires the recognition of past and ongoing wrongs that need to be righted. In stark contrast to this, diversity emphasizes the pragmatic benefits to morale, productivity, and profits. Diversity is the practice of mixing together different bodies within a common organization, and is a prime resource to be capitalized upon by businesses and organizations that are white owned and/or operated. Diversity still benefits those in power by taking advantage of the various experiences and vantage points of different racial/gender/sexual backgrounds. Rather than respecting difference and redistributing power based on it, diversity only “celebrates” difference in order to exploit multiculturalism for its economic value.

There is a reason that diversity is consistently promoted as being beneficial to everyone, disregarding who benefits most from various arrangements of diversity. As a dominant mode of thought, we must challenge liberalism if we hope to challenge the structures of domination that it both masks and reinforces, through diversity or otherwise.

A wall that reads 'Imagine' with a peace symbol on it.

Image CC-BY Matteo Piotto, filtered.

“Inclusivity” and “exclusivity” are politically meaningless without context and divert attention away from specific power dynamics. In common use, they are assigned inherently positive and negative values without specifying who is being included or excluded. This is why you might see a group proudly promote itself as being more “open” and “inclusive” than a group which is intentionally exclusive to create a safer space for a specific marginalized group. This is because de jure segregation is so strongly associated with racism. Still, segregation is not racist in and of itself. It is racist depending on a history of white supremacy, depending on who is enforcing segregation, and depending on the material impact of said segregation.

While after a history of slavery and Jim Crow segregation, fighting for desegregation was obviously necessary, but that progress is not inherent to diversity and inclusion. They are only valuable insofar as they reduce a white stronghold on power. How would racial diversity or the inclusion of men benefit the organizational team behind Black Girl Dangerous? What about organizations like the Trans Women of Color Collective or INCITE! which could only be opened to more racial diversity through the inclusion of whites? Diversity and inclusion whitewash and undermine the very basis of their value for racial justice and feminism: providing access to resources, representation, and power to identity groups that lack them. Not only is “inclusivity” politically meaningless, but to frame the benefits of stronger representation of marginalized races, genders, etc. within “diversity” gravely strips the progress it provides of its power and political significance. There is then danger in uncritically advocating for—or even just discussing power dynamics in terms of—diversity or inclusivity.

Closed spaces for marginalized identities are essential, especially ones for multiply marginalized identities, as we know from intersectionality (not to be confused with the idea that all oppression is interconnected, as many white women who have appropriated the term as self-proclaimed “intersectional feminists” seem to understand it). Any group, whether organized around a shared marginalized identity or not, will by-default be centered around the most powerful within that group. For example, cisgender white women will dominate women’s groups that aren’t run by or consciously centering trans women and women of color. A requirement for all groups to be fully open and inclusive invites the derailment and silencing of marginalized voices already pervasive in public spaces, preventing alternative spaces of relative safety from that to form. Hegemony trickles down through layers of identity, but liberation surges upwards from those who experience the most compounded layers of oppression.

So why do so many people seeking racial justice, female empowerment, and queer liberation still choose to advocate for “diversity” and “inclusion”? They appeal to liberalism. They prevent oppression from being named. They prevent us from speaking truth to power. They make progress sound friendly to those in power. Companies can tokenize women and people of color throughout their advertising. They can get way more credit than they deserve for being not 100% white men. They can profit from the increases in efficiency and productivity associated with more diversity. All of the above ignore the fact that companies needed to have diversity initiatives to make them less overwhelmingly white in the first place; that white people are the ones in the position of being able to grant access in the first place. When we work for justice and liberation, we can’t accept progress that is conditional on being economically beneficial.

The only way to prevent that is to name oppression for what it is; to speak truth to power. If a group is dominated by whites, men, and other privileged classes, don’t let that be reduced to a diversity issue.

You may have seen the phrase before and possibly even used it yourself, but if you still focus on inclusion and diversity, you don’t truly understand: assimilation ? liberation. When we talk about diversity and inclusion, we necessarily position marginalized groups as naturally needing to assimilate into dominant ones, rather than to undermine said structures of domination. Yes, we need jobs; we need education; we need to access various resources. What we don’t need is to relegate ourselves to the position of depending on someone else to offer us inclusion and access to those resources. Inclusion is something they must give, but our liberation is something we will take. The cost of assimilation is always in the well-being and lives of those who are not close enough to power to be able to assimilate. Another less popular expression of our expression more sharply calls attention to these dangers of uncritical integrationism: assimilation = death.


This work is licensed under the Decolonial Media License 0.1.


[Kyra is a Chinese-Amerikan trans woman working to create space for radical racial justice through technology where progress has been limited to liberal white feminism. She serves on the board of directors of the Free Culture Foundation and founded the Empowermentors Collective, a skillshare, discussion, and support network for trans, disabled, and queer people of color who share a critical interest in race, gender, and technology. She Tweets in spurts and bouts @kxra.]

Western Intervention and The Colonial Mindset

Poster courtesy of Mark Gould
January 20, 2015
By Prof. Tim Anderson

In these times of ‘colour revolutions’ language has been turned on its head. Banks have become the guardians of the natural environment, sectarian fanatics are now ‘activists’ and the Empire protects the world from great crimes, rather than delivering them.

Colonisation of language is at work everywhere, amongst highly educated populations, but is peculiarly virulent in colonial culture. ‘The West’, that self-styled epitome of advanced civilisation, energetically reinvents its own history, to perpetuate the colonial mindset.

Writers such as Fanon and Freire pointed out that colonised peoples experience psychological damage and need to ‘decolonise’ their minds, so as to become less deferential to imperial culture and to affirm more the values of their own cultures. The other side to that is the colonial legacy on imperial cultures. Western peoples maintain their own culture as central, if not universal, and have difficulty listening to or learning from other cultures. Changing this requires some effort.

Powerful elites are well aware of this process and seek to co-opt critical forces within their own societies, colonising progressive language and trivialising the role of other peoples. For example, after the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, the idea that NATO forces were protecting Afghan women was promoted and gained popularity. Despite broad opposition to the invasion and occupation, this ‘humanitarian’ goal appealed to the missionary side of western culture. In 2012 Amnesty International put up posters saying ‘NATO: keep the progress going’, on women’s rights in Afghanistan, while the George W. Bush Institute collected money to promote Afghan women’s rights.

The unfortunate balance sheet of NATO’s 13-year occupation is not so encouraging. The UNDP’s 2013 report shows that only 5.8% of Afghan women have had some secondary schooling (7th lowest in the world), the average Afghan woman has 6 babies (equal 3rd highest rate in the world, and linked to low education), maternal mortality is at 470 (equal 19th highest in the world) and average life expectancy is 49.1 years (equal 6th lowest in the world). Not impressive ‘progress’.

In many ways the long ‘feminist war’ in Afghanistan drew on the British legacy in colonial India. As part of its great ‘civilising mission’ that empire claimed to be protecting Indian women from ‘sati’, the practise of widows throwing themselves (or being thrown) on their husband’s funeral pyre. In fact, colonial rule brought little change to this isolated practice. On the other hand, the wider empowerment of girls and women under the British Raj was a sorry joke. At independence adult literacy was only 12%, and that of women much less. While India still lags in many respects, educational progress was much faster after 1947.

Such facts have not stopped historians like Niall Ferguson and Lawrence James attempting to sanitise British colonial history, not least to defend the more recent interventions. It might appear difficult to justify colonialism, but the argument seems to have a better chance amongst peoples with a colonial past seeking some vindication from within their own history and culture.

North American language is a bit different, as the United States of America claims never to have been a colonial power. The fact that US declarations of freedom and equality were written by slave-owners and ethnic-cleansers (the US Declaration of Independence famously attacks the British for imposing limits on the seizure of Native American land) has not dimmed enthusiasm for those fine ideals. That skilful tradition certainly influences the presentation of Washington’s recent interventions.

After the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq we saw a change in approach, with the big powers enlisting sectarian fanatics against the independent states of the region. Even the new Iraqi state, emerging from the post-2003 rubble, was attacked by these fanatics. An ‘Arab Spring’ saw Libya trampled by a pseudo-revolution backed by NATO bombing, then delivered to a bunch of squabbling al Qaeda groups and western collaborators. The little country that once had the highest living standards in Africa went backwards decades.

Next came brave Syria, which has resisted at terrible cost; but the propaganda war runs thick. Few in the west seem to be able to penetrate it. The western left shares illusions with the western right. What was at first said to be a nationalist and secular ‘revolution’ – an uprising against a ‘dictator’ who was killing his own people – is now led by ‘moderate rebels’ or ‘moderate Islamists’. The extremist Islamists, who repeatedly publicise their own atrocities, are said to be a different species, against whom Washington finally decided to fight. Much of this might sound ridiculous to the average educated Arab or Latin American, but it retains some appeal in the west.

One reason for the difference is that nation and state mean something different in the west. The western left has always seen the state as monolithic and nationalism as something akin to fascism; yet in the former colonies some hope remains with the nation-state. Western populations have never had their own Ho Chi Minh, Nelson Mandela, Salvador Allende, Hugo Chavez or Fidel Castro. One consequence of this is, as much as western thinkers might criticise their own states, they are reluctant to defend others. Many who criticise Washington or Israel will not defend Cuba or Syria .

All this makes proxy wars more marketable in the west. We could even say they have been a relatively successful tactic of imperial intervention, from the contra war on Nicaragua to the proxy armies of Islamists in Libya and Syria. So long as the big power is not seen to be directly involved, western audiences can find quite attractive the idea that they are helping another people rise up and gain their ‘freedom’.

Even Noam Chomsky, author of many books on US imperialism and western propaganda, adopts many of the western apologetics for the intervention in Syria. In a 2013 interview with a Syrian opposition paper he claimed the foreign-backed, Islamist insurrection was a repressed ‘protest movement’ that had been forced to militarise and that America and Israel had no interest in bringing down the Syrian Government. He admitted he was ‘excited’ by Syria’s uprising, but rejected the idea of a ‘responsibility to protect’ and opposed direct US intervention without a UN mandate. Nevertheless, he joined cause with those who want to ‘force’ the Syrian Government to resign, saying ‘nothing can justify Hezbollah’s involvement’ in Syria, after the Lebanese resistance group worked with the Syrian Army to turn the tide against the NATO-backed jihadists.

How do western anti-imperialists come to similar conclusions to those of the White House? First there is the anarchist or ultra-left idea of opposing all state power. This leads to attacks on imperial power yet, at the same time, indifference or opposition to independent states. Many western leftists even express enthusiasm at the idea of toppling an independent state, despite knowing the alternatives, as in Libya, will be sectarianism, bitter division and the destruction of important national institutions.

Second, reliance on western media sources has led many to believe that the civilian massacres in Syria were the work of the Syrian Government. Nothing could be further from the truth. A careful reading of the evidence will show that almost all the civilian massacres in Syria (Houla, Daraya, Aqrab, Aleppo University, East Ghouta) were carried out by sectarian Islamist groups, and sometimes falsely blamed on the government, in attempts to attract greater ‘humanitarian intervention’.

The third element which distorts western anti-imperial ideas is the constrained and self-referential nature of discussions. The parameters are policed by corporate gatekeepers, but also reinforced by broader western illusions of their own civilising influence.

A few western journalists have reported in sufficient detail to help illustrate the Syrian conflict, but their perspectives are almost always conditioned by the western ‘liberal’ and humanitarian narratives. Indeed, the most aggressive advocacy of ‘humanitarian intervention’ in recent years has come from liberal media outlets like the UK Guardian and corporate-NGOs such as Avaaz, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch. Those few journalists who maintain an independent perspective, like Arab-American Sharmine Narwani, publish mostly outside the better-known corporate media channels.

Imperial culture also conditions the humanitarian aid industry. Ideological pressure comes not just from the development banks but also the NGO sector, which maintains a powerful sense of mission, even a ‘saviour complex’ about its relations with the rest of the world. While ‘development cooperation’ may have once included ideas of compensation for colonial rule, or assistance during a transition to independence, today it has become a $100 billion a year industry, with decision making firmly in the hands of western financial agencies.

Quite apart from the dysfunction of many aid programs, this industry is deeply undemocratic, with powerful colonial overtones. Yet many western aid workers really believe they can ‘save’ the poor peoples of the world. That cultural impact is deep. Aid agencies not only seek to determine economic policy, they often intervene in political and even constitutional processes. This is done in the name of ‘good governance’, anti-corruption or ‘democracy strengthening’. Regardless of the problems of local bodies, it is rarely admitted that foreign aid agencies are the least democratic players of all.

For example, at the turn of this century, as Timor Leste gained its independence, aid bodies used their financial muscle to prevent the development of public institutions in agriculture and food security, and pushed that new country into creating competitive political parties, away from a national unity government. Seeking an upper hand amongst the ‘donor community’, Australia then aggravated the subsequent political division and crisis of 2006. With ongoing disputes over maritime boundaries and petroleum resources, Australian academics and advisers were quick to seize on that moment of weakness to urge that Timor Leste’s main party be ‘reformed’, that its national army be sidelined or abolished and that the country adopt English as a national language. Although all these pressures were resisted, it seemed in that moment that many Australian ‘friends’ of Timor Leste imagined they had ‘inherited’ the little country from the previous colonial rulers. This can be the peculiar western sense of ‘solidarity’.

Imperial cultures have created a great variety of nice-sounding pretexts for intervention in the former colonies and newly independent countries. These pretexts include protecting the rights of women, ensuring good governance and helping promote ‘revolutions’. The level of double-speak is substantial.

Those interventions create problems for all sides. Independent peoples have to learn new forms of resistance. Those of good will in the imperial cultures might like to reflect on the need to decolonise the western mind.

Such a process, I suggest would require consideration of (a) the historically different views of the nation-state, (b) the important, particular functions of post-colonial states, (c) the continued relevance and importance of the principle of self-determination, (d) the need to bypass a systematically deceitful corporate media and (e) the challenge of confronting fond illusions over the supposed western civilising influence. All these seem to form part of a neo-colonial mindset, and may help explain the extraordinary western blindness to the damage done by intervention.




Tim Anderson (2006) ‘Timor Leste: the Second Australian Intervention’, Journal of Australian Political Economy, No 58, December, pp.62-93

Tony Cartalucci (2012) ‘Amnesty International is US State Department propaganda’, Global research, 22 August, online:

Ann Wright and Coleen Rowley (2012) ‘Ann Wright and Coleen Rowley’, Consortium News, June 18, online:

Noam Chomsky (2013) ‘Noam Chomsky: The Arab World And The Supernatural Power of the United States’, Information Clearing House, 16 June, online:

Bush Centre (2015) ‘Afghan Women’s Project’, George W, Bush Centre, online:

Some detail of Syria’s ‘false flag’ massacres can be seen in the following articles:

Dale Gavlak and Yahya Ababneh (2013) ‘Syrians In Ghouta Claim Saudi-Supplied Rebels Behind Chemical Attack’, MINT PRESS, August 29, online:

Rainer Hermann (2012) ‘Abermals Massaker in Syrien’, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 7 June, online:

Stephen Lendman (2012) Insurgents Named Responsible for Syrian Massacres’, ICH, 11 June:

Richard Lloyd and Theodore A. Postol (2014) ‘Possible Implications of Faulty US Technical Intelligence in the Damascus Nerve Agent Attack of August 21, 2013’, MIT, January 14, Washington DC, online:

Marinella Correggia, Alfredo Embid, Ronda Hauben, Adam Larson (2013) ‘Official Truth, Real Truth, and Impunity for the Syrian Houla Massacre of May 2012’, CIWCL,May 15, online:

ISTEAMS (2013) ‘Independent Investigation of Syria Chemical Attack Videos and Child Abductions’, 15 September, online:

Seymour Hersh (2013) ‘Whose Sarin?’, LRB, 19 December, online:

Souad Mekhennet (2014) ‘The terrorists fighting us now? We just finished training them’, Washington Post, August 18, online:

Marat Musin (2012b) ‘THE HOULA MASSACRE: Opposition Terrorists “Killed Families Loyal to the Government’, Global research, 1 June, online:

Sharmine Narwani (2014) ‘Syria: the hidden massacre’, RT, 7 May, online:

Sharmine Narwani (2014) ‘Joe Biden’s latest foot in mouth’, Veterans News Now, October 3, online:

Truth Syria (2012) ‘Syria – Daraa revolution was armed to the teeth from the very beginning’, BBC interview with Anwar Al-Eshki,YouTube, 7 November, online: