The essays in this volume analyze structures of power and violence in the context of half a millennium of bloody Euro-American expansion and imperial rule. While history and empirical evidence have shown on numerous occasions that violence can have short-term efficacy in people’s struggles for liberation, it is not a viable route to a society of solidarity, reciprocity, and cooperation. Violence is the preeminent tool of the master class. The “master’s tools,” Audre Lorde warned, would “never dismantle the master’s house.” Although they might, she argued, “temporarily allow us to beat him at his own game,” they would not lead us to the deep, global transformation we must achieve to honor the sanctity of all life on earth.
These prophetic words define the theme of Insurrectionary Uprisings. In choosing the content of this volume, we asked ourselves how to best embody the concept of Sankofa, an Akan, Twi, and Fante concept that to move forward one must retrieve wisdom and lessons from the past. It is our position that we cannot create a world based on solidarity, collectivity, justice, and liberation without remembering the ethical and material basis of the social worlds that were destroyed by the expansion of Euro/America and the white supremacist, capitalist, heteropatriarchy whose inevitable implosion threatens the entire globe.
A collection of both historic and new writings on the nexus of strategic unarmed resistance, radical ideologies, and the long struggles to build movements for justice and liberation. Beginning with the work of Gandhi, Arendt and Thoreau, the volume grounds the theories which undergird nonviolent resistance to capitalism, colonialism, white supremacy and heteropatriarchy.
The volume includes two sections exploring nonviolence in the long Black freedom struggle within the US. From Ella Baker to Martin Luther King, Jr. and Fannie Lou Hamer, from Vincent Harding and Grace Lee Boggs to Colin Kaepernick, the two sections on the Black liberation movement highlight the theory of nonviolence in direct and indirect ways and foreground the relevance of these historic texts for the present moment of political uprisings. Black strategies for survival and power are analyzed in terms of the ongoing US economic and epidemiological crises as well as the global climate crisis and ecological collapse. A section on revolutionary nonviolence in Africa presents a previously unpublished piece on the role of armed struggle by Franz Fanon, as well as essays by Amilcar Cabral, Barbara Deming, Graca Machel, Kenneth Kaunda, and Nozizwe Madlala-Routledge This section clearly contextualizes the continent’s anti-colonial struggles with the practical thinking about military and unarmed tactics which those movements faced over the course of a half century.
The section on nonviolence and feminist struggle highlights the work of Grace Paley, Audre Lorde, and Arundhati Roy, along with a little-read piece by Johnnie Tilmon, a leader of the 1960s welfare rights movement. The section on resistance against empire tilts toward Latin American scholars/activists with essays by Maria Lugones, Anibla Quijano and Berta Caceres. This section includes pieces that draw from current debates about the role of state power in building towards radical change and the push to build holistic perspectives on what liberation means for all peoples. The final section on social change in the 21st Century reflects on specific aspects of organizing which are facing campaigns and movements of today and tomorrow. Our goal is to provide challenges and insights for building effectively against all forms of oppression.
Though primarily compiling key texts not often seen or contextualized together, the book also provides new strategic commentaries from leaders including Ela Gandhi, Ruby Sales, ecofeminist Ynestra King, Africa World Press’ Kassahun Checole, and Palestinian Quaker Joyce Ajlouney, Hakim Williams, and Mireille Fanon Mèndes-France. With a mix of past and current commentaries, from both academic and activist points of view, we uncover fault lines that have prevented mass, global movements of movements from solidifying over the last fifty years. Through this narrative, the book ends with visions of how best to use all that we know to bring about deeply rooted transformations in ways that will lift up and not traumatize people as they move toward liberation.