All Episodes

April 27, 2024 149 mins

All of this week's episodes of It Could Happen Here put together in one large file.

You can now listen to all Cool Zone Media shows, 100% ad-free through the Cooler Zone Media subscription, available exclusively on Apple Podcasts. So, open your Apple Podcasts app, search for “Cooler Zone Media” and subscribe today!

http://apple.co/coolerzone

See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Mark as Played
Transcript

Episode Transcript

Available transcripts are automatically generated. Complete accuracy is not guaranteed.
Speaker 1 (00:01):
A zone media.

Speaker 2 (00:03):
Hey everybody, Robert Evans here, and I wanted to let
you know this is a compilation episode. So every episode
of the week that just happened is here in one
convenient and with somewhat less ads package for you to
listen to in a long stretch if you want. If
you've been listening to the episodes every day this week,
there's going to be nothing new here for you, but
you can make your own decisions.

Speaker 3 (00:27):
Welcome to it could happen here. I'm Garrison Davis. On
this show, we end up talking a lot about the
various ways of politicians, media personalities, and lobbying groups are
constantly trying to make life a living hell for trans people,
between restricting medical care, access to public spaces, as well
as banning and literally burning queer art. Basically a lot

(00:51):
of depressing stuff that's designed to make us trans people
go mad. We live in a transphobic society. All it
takes is one bet day for an aspiring comedian to
fall into a vat of estrogenizing chemicals and emerge a
jokerfied harlequin. Filmmaker Vera Dru's new movie, A Multimedia Queer

(01:11):
Fever Dream titled The People's Joker, takes this premise and
depicts what it's like trying to make a living as
an irony poisoned trans person in a Gotham city where
comedy has been made illegal. This isn't just an unauthorized
transgender parody of DC comics, though it is that as well.
The film is a wholly unique collaboration of dozens of

(01:32):
queer artists utilizing fair use to tell a trans coming
of age story with the gothic, queer coded imagery of Batman.
If you know anything about my tastes, you probably know
that this is incredibly up my alley. So in a
departure from this show's usual doom and gloom, I'm putting
together a few episodes on what it means to be

(01:54):
a queer artist in today's political climate. More episodes will
come out next week, but I wanted to get this
one out right now, in time for listeners to catch
the theatrical run of The People's Joker, hopefully in a
theater near you, right now or in the near future.
Last week, I was lucky enough to chat with the
clown Princess of Crime herself, Vera Drew, about the making

(02:18):
of the People's Joker.

Speaker 4 (02:20):
My name is Via Drew. I'm the writer, director, and
I also star in the People's Joker. I also did
some of the visual effects too. You can get tickets
online at the People's Joker dot com.

Speaker 3 (02:32):
I would like to just start with the origin of
the People's Joker project. Why is there a transgender Joker
and why does that make so much sense?

Speaker 4 (02:42):
I'm glad you feel like it makes sense. I mean,
it kind of really started just because Todd Phillips was
like in the news talking about like woke culture and
how like it was too hard to make comedy now
and stuff, which is really funny coming from a director

(03:04):
who's made millions and millions of dollars making comedy and
like also like made Joker like the year prior, and
that is a comedy. Like it's a dark comedy, but
it's totally a comedy and it made a billion dollars.
But yeah, he was complaining about woke culture, as is
his right. But in my co writer, the person who

(03:28):
ended up becoming my co writer, bri LeRose, actually just
kind of jokingly commissioned me on Twitter to re edit
Todd phillips Joker and actually venmowed me twelve dollars, and yeah,
I started doing it. Like in earnest, I started like
actually re editing the movie. And I had worked at

(03:49):
Absolutely Productions for years as an editor and had kind
of come up as an alternative comedy editor, so you know,
at that point it was probably just going to be
like a lot of bart sound effects and woosh noises
and slips and slide whistles. But as I was working
on it and kind of just making this like big

(04:10):
piece of bound footage video art, like a narrative kind
of just like fell into place and it kind of
just came in an instant and I was just like, oh, okay,
I think I actually want to make like a coming
of age film, but I want to make like a
parody of The Joker, like in that process and kind

(04:30):
of just like tell like a really earnest and super
personal autobiographical story about my life and growing up in
the Midwest and coming out as trans and comedy and
you know, my relationship with my mom and toxic relationship
I was in and stuff, but kind of process and

(04:51):
mythologize all of that through through Batman characters. So that's
kind of the origin of the movie. Guess I had
also kind of been kicking around an idea for like
a body horror, like a trans body horror movie before
that that was basically like about a drag queen who

(05:14):
was physically addicted to irony and like couldn't like survive
without it, but it was also like destroying her from
the inside out. The two ideas kind of like merged
together into this sort of I guess.

Speaker 3 (05:27):
Yeah, that definitely comes through. One of my favorite parts
of this movie is that it gets to talk about
so many intimate aspects of trans experience, like trans misogyny,
the intersection of transphobia and misogyny that gets targeted against
transfems in particular, as well as trans for trans relationships
or T four T, and lots of other little things.

(05:47):
It's using the visual language of Batman as a shorthand
to get textualize parts of queerness that just don't often
appear in mass media. I showed my co host Mia
the film last week to get her thoughts on the
movie as a piece of queer art, since her and
my own tastes often greatly differ. What did you think
of the transgender clown.

Speaker 5 (06:09):
It rips one of the things that was the most
interesting to me about it is like, so I'd read
some reviews of it, and because it's you know, because
it's sort of the sub media works, most of the
reviews are by those people. And it's really fun to
see a movie where you're reading it and you you
look at this and you're going, oh, these people didn't
get it. They how much. But they do not know

(06:31):
about T boy swag. They do not know about like
all of this stuff that's happening in this And yeah,
I mean, I think that's the thing about it that's
really interesting, because you know, transcoming of age story is
like one of the few kind of stories you're sort

(06:52):
of allowed to tell if you're trans, less so in film,
more so like in writing your stuff, allowed to do
this specifically. Yeah, Yeah, And it's really interesting the way
that this movie starts with a you know, for the
first maybe ten minutes, it's okay, this is like a
pretty standard coming of age story, and then it hits
the real shit in a way that doesn't ever show
up on this stuff.

Speaker 3 (07:14):
Like I first saw this movie a year ago, and
I was shocked at the depiction of like T for
TA relationships, which you like never you never see so
being able to look at like emotional abuse within a
T for T relationship being depicted this way, You're like,
oh my god, it's like actually like showing something that

(07:34):
is literally never talked about like openly, like this is
something that we like people have experiences of, but it's
never really like shown or discussed. I found that to
be incredibly resonant and very like tastefully done.

Speaker 5 (07:47):
Yeah, I mean I was just like weeping watching parts
of it. Absolutely. There's a line in there that is
I have never ever like one of the sort of
most real things that like you as a transwoman experience
is someone who's trans misogyny exempt saying they don't feel
safe around you. Yeah, and that being how they kick you,
like how you get ran out, how you get abused.

(08:07):
That the fact that that's in that's in film, and
you can see all of the people, like you can
see sis people like not getting it, like they just
they don't they don't understand what's going on. And that's
really incredibly powerful in a lot of ways.

Speaker 3 (08:26):
All while in like Jared Letter Joker makeups, ye, Like
it's amazing, They're like getting into all of this like
extremely intense stuff. The gas landing scene was fucking phenomenal,
But it all looks like this, fucking like copy pasted
comic art spliced in with like Speed Racer and Return
from Oz. And it is with all of these like

(08:47):
adult swim asthetics, because ver Drew has been an editor
on a lot of like starting with like Tim and
Eric stuff to like Nathan Fielder to Tim Robinson, very
entrenched in this like layered allage like adult swim style.
So that's present all throughout the movie. It's extremely visually unique.
It's it's kind of like like it like an It

(09:08):
really is like an Internet meme, like brought to life
and like puppeteered by like an uncanny unseen hand. I
think it really embraces the aesthetics of like an ill
fitting Halloween Harley Quinn cosplay costume. It's like taking that
and like deeply interrogating what that visually represents and looks
like and why someone would wear an ill fitting Harley

(09:30):
Quinn costume. It deeply understands all of like the aesthetics
sensibilities behind an image like that. Extremely extremely fun. I

(09:51):
think it's worth talking about, at least in brief. The
trajectory of this movie's release because it is a very
comic book. Joker fied story from the idea of this
film to its premiere at a film festival, to all
of the uncertainty and legal chaos that came along the way.
So an earlier cut of this movie was originally set

(10:12):
to premiere at TIFF, the Toronto International Film Festival back
in twenty twenty two. Right before the first showing, Warner
Brothers sent a vaguely worded but threatening letter which resulted
in the People's Joker being pulled from the festival save
for one late night screening that got rave reviews. With

(10:33):
its legal status uncertain, the movie kind of went into limbo.
Here's Vera drew on what happened after the first Tiff showing.

Speaker 4 (10:44):
I really put all I had into this movie, you know,
like I really I cashed in every favor I had
ever accumulated in Hollywood financially, Like I took out a
huge loan to finish it. And it was just this big,
deep personal thing that I had made that originally really
was just for me and my friends. Like it was

(11:05):
just kind of a thing that I had just made.
You know, maybe I would have shown it to like
my Patreon or something, but like it was, uh, you know,
after a certain point like it, you know, once we
had that like premiere, it was just like I need
to like I can't just post this to YouTube. I
can't like just dump it somewhere or like shelve it.

(11:27):
And what felt right really was like taking the movie
out just to festivals and kind of doing like a
secret screening tour, which is what we did, and that
was really exciting and kind of like a jokerfied way
of sort of getting this this movie out there. And
I was just surrounded by other filmmakers and the genre
community and you know who would see the movie at

(11:48):
this festival and be like you need to just wait.
The person who's gonna help you is gonna come.

Speaker 3 (11:53):
So for a while the film was making surprise secret
screenings at film festivals across the US in Canada, and
now almost two years later, the queer distribution company Altered
Innocence picked up the film and it's now in movie
theaters and nationwide.

Speaker 5 (12:10):
The thing that's I think is really interesting about this
is sort of the timing of it, because this originally
comes out in twenty twenty two right, sure it does
and then gets on came out by pushed back into
the closet by the corporate.

Speaker 3 (12:22):
Ghouls of this discovery pushes the people's choker back into
the closet.

Speaker 5 (12:27):
Yeah.

Speaker 6 (12:28):
But what I think is.

Speaker 5 (12:30):
Really interesting about it is is its position in this
sort of arc of queer media.

Speaker 7 (12:35):
Right.

Speaker 5 (12:35):
I mean when I was a kid, there was nothing.
It was like, like the first queer thing I ever
saw in a show was the Cora Sami kiss at
the end of Legend of Korra. Like there was nothing,
and then suddenly it's funny. I just watched last night,
like three of the old Law and Order SVU trans episodes.

(12:57):
Oh god, oh boy, oh boy, do they have some
extremely extremely interesting moments.

Speaker 3 (13:04):
I will leave it up to the viewer's imagination.

Speaker 5 (13:08):
Yeah. But and what's interesting about the race is you
get this moment that I kind of recognize from you
have this sort of Asian American media too, where like
there was this you know it was if you go
back and watch something from two thousand and four that
has an Asian person in it, it is it is
like like there are people right now in the US
who will physically attack you for being Asian. And who

(13:30):
will say shit and who's whose level of verbal racism
will be less than the racism that's just in this
movie as a gag. Sure, and you know, and so
you get and eventually, like throughout the twenty tens, we
sort of got like, oh, there's like Asian Americans and
movies now, and that was kind of happening with with
with sort of you know and prickoling cartoons, things like
owl House. That was kind of happening in media with

(13:51):
queer people. And then there was the sort of the
twenty twenties backlash, and that's like you you can you
know it's it's in the same way the Huntress. Thompson
has this line about like you can see exactly where
the standing in Vegas. You can see the line where
the sixties receded, Like you can see the line where
all of the queer stuff just is like gone. And
this forces everyone. You know, you if you have two options, right,

(14:13):
you can fucking go back into the closet and you
can fucking work on whatever dog shit show that's just
going to be completely sisse hat now, or you can
just you can make the people's choker. Just to say,
you can just make you're just you can just go
and do it and you can make something. And I

(14:35):
think there's something that's very different than a lot than
the sort of wave that have come before. It is
it like this is this is the transmedia that is
made by trans people for trans people. And there's some
like trapping stuff for SIS people to sort of like
walk them along a little tiny bit, but.

Speaker 3 (14:51):
Like it uses the language of DC comics to handhold
other audiences to understand what's going on.

Speaker 5 (14:57):
Yeah, but but at its core, you know, and like
obviously like the yeah, there's you know, mix of plicks
like I'm butchering his name.

Speaker 3 (15:04):
No, no one knows how to say That's that's the
whole bit, is that no one knows how to say it.

Speaker 5 (15:09):
Yeah, I mean, like you know, so like there's like
there's like kind of deep cut like comic stuff in
there too, because you know, this is by people who, like,
unlike everyone who makes these fucking movies these days, people
who actually genuinely, like deeply love the source material that
they're pulling from, yes, and thus are willing to just
go off the walls with it and have like Jason

(15:30):
Todd t boy Swag emotional abuser Joker.

Speaker 3 (15:33):
Who has any many such cases like so.

Speaker 5 (15:36):
Much more interesting than any iteration of the Joker I've seen,
absolutely well.

Speaker 3 (15:41):
And it also it also pulls on like the very
long history of the Joker being queer coded. Yeah, I
mean like if you go to like Grant Morrison's Joker,
extremely queer, the sixties Batman show is all very queer,
but like, the Joker has always been seen as this
kind of this like having this queer deviant element despite
really only having like heterosexual pairings, but even still in

(16:03):
his relation to Batman, it's always been a very queer
heavy thing. And that's something that DC Comics has definitely
shied away from intentionally and having something that so blatantly
embraces that well, not not just like does it for
like fun representation, like actually interrogates like queer relationships through that,
through that extremely like troubling power dynamic is really really fascinating.

Speaker 5 (16:27):
There is no fucking CIS man, Like, there is no
white CIS dude who has gone through enough shit to
make them cruited to the Joker like come odd, It's like,
oh damn, I couldn't get on a comedy show, so
I became the Joker like wait, wait, wait, no, no,
this is insufficient. The Joker, Afi Mia. All it takes
is one bad day. I you know, I mean, I guess,

(16:49):
I guess.

Speaker 3 (16:49):
I guess that is like, do you want to know
how I got these emotional scars.

Speaker 5 (16:54):
It's really like like every cisman is okay enough with
violence that they think that they're one bad day for
just murdering everyone around them, and sometimes they snap and
it's like true, you know, but also come on, like
you want a fucker.

Speaker 1 (17:10):
It's seen. Shit.

Speaker 3 (17:11):
We've had a very like in cell embrace of the
Joker ever since he ledger, of course with the Joaquin
Phoenix movie, very in cell coded, both in conversation with that,
because this piece was made as a direct reaction to
Tom Phillips's The Joker Movie, but this is always it's
in conversation with that, while highlighting the actual like like

(17:31):
very very uh inherent queerness to this man who dresses
up like a clown to play with another man who
dresses up like a bat. I was lucky enough to
catch an earlier cut of the People's Joker at a

(17:53):
Canadian film festival last year, dressed in one of my
many Harley Quinn costumes. Again, if you know anything about me,
you know I love Batman on Gotham City. I do
my yearly queer Batman returns watch parties where I dress
up like Michelle Feiver's Catwoman. But the social groups I'm
often in can sometimes be a little bit weird about

(18:14):
Batman stuff, because he's like a fascist or whatever. But
I've always thought that Gotham City is really queer as
a concept, and I love that someone else appeared to
share that opinion and decided to explore Gotham City as
an aesthetic zone to operate in as a queer artist.
Here's Vera Drew talking about the connection between her queerness

(18:36):
and Batman.

Speaker 4 (18:37):
I really am like a lifelong Batman comic fan, and
I've been working on this movie for four years and
I'm somehow still not sick of Batman, which is crazy
to me. Yeah, I mean, I think like the lore
has just kind of always been there in my life,
and it's always just felt very queer to me. I mean,

(18:59):
I guess most in like a subtext way, but you
just think back to like all the iterations, Like, I mean,
my my entry point into Batman was Joel Schumacher Batman
like I saw Batman forever when I was six and
I it was like, literally one of the first times
I realized I was trans was that moment was just

(19:20):
seeing Nicole Kidman. I wanted to look like her. I
wanted to be perceived how she was being perceived. I
wanted someone to look at me the way Batman looks
at her. And that was all very confusing for a
six year old, you know who up until that point
was pretty sure they were a boy. I grew up
in the nineties, so I didn't really have like my

(19:43):
representation was the Jerry Springer Show and Howard Stern. That's
where I saw trans people, and I think like comics
were just this space where I could I don't know,
it just feels very queer like and it's it's not
j subtext. I mean there is, there's a lot of
subtext obviously in like the Schumacher Batman's like his his

(20:06):
Gotham City just is a like gay Neon nightmare of beauty.
We're definitely like taking that aesthetic kind of in the
People's Joker like that was always kind of my vision
for Gotham. But even the sixties Batman, despite how absolutely yeah, yeah, yeah,
you know, it's it's super conservative, but like it's it's

(20:28):
so colorful and like it's.

Speaker 5 (20:30):
Very gay, it's extremely gay.

Speaker 4 (20:32):
It's and it's like, I because somebody actually described it
to me the other day as like you have like
a character like Riddler and like he's just surrounded by
like hot women. Like it's just everybody feels like kind
of like a weird, poly annoying person, you know, which

(20:53):
is me and my friends.

Speaker 3 (20:54):
So I feel like Adam West is definitely playing like
a closeted gay man in that show as well, totally
who's like surrounded by much more like flamboyant queers and
he like doesn't know how to deal with it.

Speaker 4 (21:07):
That's totally fair.

Speaker 3 (21:09):
I really appreciated, like there's so many Batman Forever jokes
in this, Like you even use the Batman Forever font
like constantly throughout the film. There's so many like little bits.
I really appreciated all of the Alexander Knox jokes throughout
the film. I think feel like that's one of the
most underrated characters from the Tim Burton movies. And then

(21:29):
all of like the Grant Morrison super sanity bits also,
I found incredibly funny. When I was watching it, I
felt like a big strong sense I felt was like,
this is what a piece of art would look like
if it was made like within the DC universe. It
feels like something that comes like from that point and
is like somehow like emanated into our world.

Speaker 4 (21:51):
Wow, thank you.

Speaker 5 (21:53):
It was wonderful.

Speaker 3 (21:54):
There's definitely some like speed racer elements, a little bit
of like David Lynch's Dune, especially like the Mister Mixelplex
scenes felt very much like all of like like the
Weird Spice visions. It was great seeing this progress from
the cut last year to this one. It flows a lot.
When I was talking with my co host Mia about

(22:14):
the film, we both pointed out how this movie doesn't
just feel like a movie with gay people in it itself,
feels like a piece of queer art, like the art
itself has a sense of inherent queerness. I think there's
a lot of reasons for that, the fact that it's
a collaborative project from dozens of queer artists sending in

(22:35):
background pieces, characters, voice acting, music, set design. It all
creates a very like DIY queer zine kind of feel,
but in a moving picture. So I wanted to talk
a little bit more about this difference between just queer
representation and queer art. You kind of touch on something
previously where like the difference between queer representation and like

(22:58):
art that is that the is queer. These are like
two very different things, and the movie actually is in
conversation with this as well, being like the difference between
hiring a trans person to be on the SNL cast
versus a trans person doing their own comedy show, right,
and how those are two very different things with very
different politics. And I think this movie is a large
statement against that assimilation is to drive that a lot

(23:20):
of people kind of fall back on for like self
preservation reasons, self coping reasons, and like financial reasons. Sure,
it is extremely critical of that notion and reifiz like
this like diy approach towards queer people making our own art.

Speaker 5 (23:35):
Yeah, And that's something I've been thinking about a lot, because,
like you know, like Asian Americans have like we got there, right,
like sis as and Americans, we we got our representation,
Like what is a representation? It's like, well, they found
a way to make like being East Asian the thing
you can sell to white people. By having it be
about food and selling the version of like a slightly
different version of the traditional family, and I you know

(23:58):
and like and you can you can sort of ask
what good has this done for Asian American people? And
mostly what it's done is that Asian American cinema there's
it's a wasteland, right like, and you know, and you
could see like there's a there's a version of sort
of of where the twenty twenties go that's different where

(24:20):
the assimilationist drive kicks in and we don't. And this
happens to Quimbidia where it's just this yeah, nothing, it's
just this void of sort of formless content that gets
sold to the sist people.

Speaker 3 (24:31):
I mean, and I think you could even look at
that from a lot of like twenty sixteen to twenty
twenty stylings of queer media that does come off as
very similationist. And now I feel like we are entering
this new age of trans cinema where we have a
lot of people either working with more independent production houses.
I mc fairy excited for I saw the TV Glow
coming out next month, but we have a lot of

(24:53):
other independent trends filmmakers starting out quite young getting into
filmmaking also not quite young, like into their thirties, who
are working to actually produce films and media that don't
just get thrown up on YouTube. That producing art that
does not just become another transgender video essay that floods
the site. Right, it's finding other ways to actually engage

(25:13):
artistically besides the very comfortable ways that we've gotten used to,
whether that's like, you know, what your average trans DJ
trans like electronic music or a trans video essay, which
feels like, really the only two ways to make art
is a trans person reliably are making YouTube videos making music,
both of which can be very good. Absolutely, there's of
some fantastic trans musicians. There's a lot of great video

(25:35):
essays out there, but the artistic landscape is so much
bigger than that. And being able to watch people realize
that this YouTube thing is so self limiting and trying
to grow past that is incredibly cool to see. I
know there's stuff like Nebula, just like this streaming service
kind of built on YouTube but trying to do more
of its own things. That's been interesting to watch grow.

(25:57):
But also a lot of people attempting just to actually
like take movies to film festivals and actually like engage
with this as like art and like having it be
recognized as arts. Like it would have been so easy
to turn the people's choker into like a YouTube fan film, right, yeah,
fucking thousands of fucking Batman fan films on YouTube.

Speaker 5 (26:14):
That would have been so easy.

Speaker 3 (26:16):
But the insistents are like, no, I'm actually gonna actually
going to use like fair use law, gonna actually do
like a legal parody and push this through film festivals,
get it in actual movie theaters. We are seeing a
lot more transfilms at film festivals. We are seeing this
start happening, and I'm very excited to watch this grow.

Speaker 5 (26:34):
Yeah, And I think what's ultimately happening here is that
there's a combination of two things. One is that we
were getting spat out by the traditional media machine, and two,
the traditional media machine is rotting from the inside, right,
And it's not good that either of these things are
really happening. But simultaneously, it also means that we're in
this position where, having been spat out, we can go

(26:56):
make the giant media monster. Yeah, we can go stab
it and force a bunch of these like random CIS
critics to be like to try to figure out a
tea for tea relationship, but just blow it.

Speaker 3 (27:08):
Something like this would have never been made by Warner Brothers.
That's just like impossible. This art could have never never
been made under Warner Brothers, Right, that's just impossible, and
being able to say no, I'm going to use these
cultural iconography that we keep being told endlessly that this
is this is our culture's version of mythology, of which
is fucking people talk about superheroes like that all the

(27:30):
fucking time, like this, this is our Greek gods, this
is our blah bla blah blah blah. Yet it's just
owned by like two companies who control everything about it
and don't allow the public to actually engage with these
as cultural thinkers and say no, we actually are going
to find a way to use these characters in relation
to someone's own life as an artist and using it
to talk about queerness and comedy and working in the

(27:51):
comedy industry as a queer person to create a very
unique piece that yeah, literally could have there's no way
wouldever be made. So this is this is this is
a piece of art that could have never happened any
other way. And now we have it playing in a
local theater near you, and I think that's very cool.
Here's Vera Drew again talking about the theatrical run.

Speaker 4 (28:11):
We're playing a lot of cities. We keep adding more.
If you don't see your city, bother the theater in
your town and tell them you want them to play it,
and you know, show them one of the many articles
about this film and maybe they maybe they'll do it,
or reach out to us and let us know. The
People's Joker dot com and you can follow me at
Vera Drew twenty two on Twitter, Instagram and now TikTok.

(28:32):
Don't know how to use it, but we're going to
figure it out together.

Speaker 3 (28:35):
Thanks for listening again. You can check out The People's
Joker at the People's Joker dot Com look for tickets
and showtimes. Hopefully they'll be one in your area. Next week,
there'll be more episodes talking about the making of this movie,
as well as a few other transcomedian art projects that
are currently ongoing. See you on the other side.

Speaker 6 (29:09):
Welcome to Grappen Here, I'm Andrew Sage to future channel Andreism.

Speaker 5 (29:14):
I'm joined by Mia Wong. Did not miss your que
this time? This will not make any sense to you
unless you've heard the previous episode in which I missed
by you.

Speaker 6 (29:23):
But hello, indeed, indeed welcome, did missic you? So recently
I read Born a Crime by Trevoranoah. It was his
memoir of his childhood in South Africa and politics society.
Is a decent comedian and had me laughing out loud

(29:46):
and thinking a lot as well, and it really reignited
my long pass and interest in South African history because
he's given a lot of context when sharing his stories.
So I decided to look into the history of anarchism
in South Africa and that's what we will be exploring today.

(30:08):
Much of the information I gathered is thanks to the
scholarship of Lucian van der Walt, a South African anarchist
and professor of sociology. Particularly, I'll be looking at the
work on anarchism and Cynicalism Southern Africa from the International
Encyclopedia Revolution and Protest and Anarchism and Cynicalism in the

(30:29):
colonial and post colonial world. Without getting into the lengthy
and storied history of the region, I do need to
provide some context, so we'll start in the mid nineteenth century,
where the region that became South Africa was considered marginal
to the world economy. You had the poet of the
Cape of Good Hope and Port Elizabeth, which handled me

(30:50):
in the agricultural exports. And this was during the second
period of the British Cape Colony's existence, after it had
briefly fallen into the hands of the Batavia and Republic
during the Napoleonic Wars. None of that is particularly necessary
to know for our sake, but you know a little
fun fact. At this point, once again, under the British,

(31:11):
the land was broadly agrarian, and Britain's farms were worked
by colored and African workers. The neighboring Natal Colony, also
under British rule, had its plantations worked by indentured Indians.
The rest of the interior was under various Africana republics
and African kingdoms. For those not in the know, so

(31:34):
African in this context refers to obviously Africans, Black Africans
to be specific, Indians referring to the indentured laborers from
the Indian subcontinent, Africanas referring to the Afrikaans or Dutch
speaking white South Africans, and then we have, of course

(31:54):
the British, which are you know, white British people, and
the colored as a designation as a group as a
self identified ethnic group referred to the people of mixed
European and African heritage that had begun to develop their
own identity in their own community. Because the settlement of

(32:17):
South Africa had started centuries before, so other than the
agricultural export and ports providing a respite for trade between
the West and the East, the Southern African colonies weren't
particularly high up on anyone's list of priorities. But then
the economic landscape of the region transformed with the discovery
of diamonds in Kimberley in eighteen sixty seven and gold

(32:39):
in Woodwater surround in eighteen eighty six. To make a
very long story short, this led to the rapid centralization
of mining activities and the growth of towns like Johannesburg,
one of the most well known towns in South Africa.
Imperial interests intensified, resultant in the British Wars and Africans
and Africanas and the lablishment of the Union of South

(33:01):
Africa in nineteen ten. An extremely diverse and polygoth society
under British rule. By nineteen thirteen, almost half of the
world's gold output came from with waters Round area and
with Watersrand Minds employed one hundred and ninety five thousand
Africans and twenty two thousand white workers. The working class

(33:23):
clearly faced many racial and ethnic divisions. It was primarily
composed of various Africans, which had their own divisions between them,
and there were also divisions between the largely skilled white
immigrants from Europe and the largely unskilled local white africaners.
The marginalized African and colored middle classes that began to

(33:46):
form from the few free laborers involved in various grown
industries would come to lead early nationalist movements while grappling
with segregation, discrimination, and linguistic challenges. As van der Wald said,
and they lived in a situation where a cheap African
labor formed the bedrock of the mines as well as
state industry and the crowing commercial farming and manufacturing sectors,

(34:09):
and where the cheapness of African labor was primarily a
function of the black's historic incorporation into the country as
a subject to people. In this sense, local capitalist relations
of exploitation were constructed upon colonial relations of domination. Fast
forward to the eve of apartheid in nineteen forty eight,
when African and nationalists took power and extended the segregation

(34:30):
policies in the first four decades of the Union even further,
you get two responses to the national question preceding the
development of apartheid from the organized labor crowd at the time.
The first response, known as white labourism, was associated with
the mainstream white labor movement leading back to the nineteenth century.
The South African Labor Party and South African Industrial Federation

(34:52):
were key proponents of white labourism, and both organizations were
born from the exclusiveness of early craft unions that later
evolved into more pronounced racial exclusiveness. This white laborism approach
combined social democracy with segregation, promoting job reservation and preferential
employment for whites, urban segregation and Asian repatriation white power

(35:18):
for white workers. Basically, the other races can figure out
their own deal, of course, on the reservations that we
put them in. So it's no surprise that the apartheid
government in part mainstreamed this white laborism movement, but the
second response to the national question was linked to the
Communist Party of South Africa the CPSA from nineteen twenty eight,

(35:42):
when it adopted the Native Republic thesis under pressure from
the Communist International. This approach advocated for the establishment of
an independent South Africa Native Republic as a precursor to
the Workers and Peasants Republic, separating national liberation specifically in
the fourth of nationalism and then socialism into distinct stages.

(36:04):
The CPSA initially considered leading both of these stages, but
later abandoned this idea and opted for a united front
with the African National Congress, aiming for a unitary, democratic,
and capitalist state with land reform and partial nationalization. But
there's a hidden history that goes unnoticed prior to the

(36:25):
rise of apartheid and the CPSA. All the way back
in the eighteen eighties, Henry Glass played a pivotal role
in establishing the local anarchist tradition in South Africa. He
was an Englishman born in India with a background in
radical London circles. He moved to Port Elizabeth in the
eighteen eighties and engaged in various jobs, including working on

(36:48):
the Witwatersrand minds among African people. He contributed to the
Cape Labor Press, translated key works by Kropotkin into English,
and distributed anarchist materials through various organizations. Glass seems to
have taken a good look at clonalism, saw how Africans
were treated, and didn't shy away from calling it out

(37:11):
now self. His writing did idealize pre capitalist cultures, for example,
pointing out in a letter to Kropotkin that you can
still find amongst them the principle of communism, but his
main focus was on pointing fingers at an order that
treated Africans like second class citizens, and going even further
to champion the idea of a working class movement that

(37:32):
bridged racial divides. He understood the foolishness of white workers
to try and pursue their liberation alone while sidelining their
colored comrades, and though Glass spent his time agitating in
Port Elizabeth, this was also a perspective shared by the
Social Democratic Federation or SDF, based in Cape Town, which
despite its name, was all about pushing anarchism and syndicalism. Actually,

(37:57):
maybe more precise there was a dominant wing within the
SDF of Cape Town that emphasized anarchism and syndicalism. There
will also moderate and status elements in the SDF as well.
Cape Town was quite different at that time from Port Elizabeth.
Port Elizabeth was mostly African and white, but Cape Town

(38:17):
had a significant colored population, which created a situation where
much of Cape Town's working class was free labor rather
than bound to some form of slavery or dangure. Coloreds
were facing growing official segregation and popular discrimination from the
late nineteenth century onwards, though, so there was a growing
discontent as the working class fractured even further. But there

(38:40):
was a key figure in the Cape Town SDF that
pushed anarchism and syndicalism, and that was Wilfred Harrison, another
friend of Kopotkin, a carpenter, a trade unionist, and an
ex soldier. He was known as a very dynamic speaker
and a staunch anarchist communist who pushed for a future
where workers owned and controlled everything. With Harrison at the Helm,

(39:01):
the SDF set up shop in Adelaide Street, where they
were organized in talks, events, and even standing in elections
for propaganda purposes. The sdf's events attracted thousands, creating truly
uniquely integrated public spheres that would bring Colors, white and
Africans in some of the same spaces. They were holding

(39:21):
speeches in Afrikaans, which was the most popular language of
the colors, and in eastingt Closer, the language of the
Mooser people. They had bookshops, reading rooms, refreshment bars, beach trips, choirs,
and even a few socialist christ Nets. At the various
talks they welcomed controversial figures, including a young Gandhi. Harrison's

(39:45):
wing of the SDF further sought to remove union color bars,
unionize colors, secure equal pay, and build unions that would
unite all workers, regardless of race. In the early nineteen hundreds,
socialists and with Waters Round launched the Weekly Voice of Labor,
led by Archie Crawford and Mary Fitzgerald. The paper saved

(40:06):
to connect socialists across cities from Duban to Kimberley, to
Cape Town to Johannesburg. Archie Crawford was a staunch anti segregationist,
pushing back against the South African Labor Party for its
policies and organized in the neglected colored workers. In nineteen ten,
the SDF hosted British synicolist Tom Mann, whose tours the
region would inspire the founding of the Socialist Labor Party

(40:28):
or SLP. In Johannesburg. They adopted the ideas of Daniel
de Leon, the American leader of the International Workers of
the World, and were followed by the Industrial Workers Union,
which linked with the IWW in Chicago. The IWW's ideas
spread to Duban and Pretoria, but it was Johannesburg where
they flexed their muscles with successful strikes and challenges to

(40:52):
labor laws. The IWW's position carried the same as its forebears,
fight the class war with the aid of all workers
to whether efficient or an efficient, skilled or unskilled, white
or black. IWW organizer Jock Campbell would be the first
to specifically make propaganda amongst the African workers in which
waters Rand. But don't get me wrong, these efforts do

(41:26):
not mean that they necessarily succeeded. The IWW and SLP's
struggle to recruit to cross racial lines semms not primarily
from prejudice, but from their overall weakness as union organizers
outside the tram sector, where they saw the most successes,
and of course, the practical challenges of organizing the predominantly

(41:47):
unfree African workforce underwit Water's Rand. So they talked a
good talk about reaching across racial lines, but not a
massive success because they didn't have a strategy in place
to actually establish those actions between Africans, colored and Indian
workers in this regard. Actually, the SDF in Cape Town
was a lot more successful. However, something did happen in

(42:10):
witwaters Rand. In May nineteen thirteen, a significant general strike
erupted on the witwaters Rand, initiated by white miners and
quickly spread in across industries. The strike was marked by
riots and gun battles and escalating on what's called Black Saturday,
July fifth, resulting in twenty five deaths at the hands

(42:31):
of the imperial troops. Subsequent strikes by African miners and
Indian passive resistance campaigns further intensified the social unrest, with
the failure of a compromise in the aftermath of the
nineteen thirteen strike led to a second general strike in
January nineteen fourteen. The state responded swiftly, declaring martial law,

(42:53):
mobilizing forces and suppressing the unions, resulting the arrest and
deportation of key activists, including Archie Crawford. Then World War
One further disrupted things, with the country joining the British side.
While some organizations suspended activities to support the war efforts,
hardline African and nationalists launched an armed rebellion, leading to

(43:15):
split within the SDF and the South African Labor Party.
Although anarchism synicalism played a role in these turbulent events,
the actual syndicalist movement on the Witwaterstrand was weak and
divided by nineteen thirteen, despite attempts to forge unity through
the United Socialist Party the USP, it fell apart due
to existing divisions and ideological differences among the constituent groups.

(43:38):
While organized syndicalism struggled to lead the strikes, syndicalist ideas
and slogans gained considerable traction in labor circles. The strikes
and war issues reinvigorated existing anarchists and syndicalists, radicalized new activists,
and sparked widespread interest in radical ideas which would lead

(43:59):
to an new development. In September nineteen fifteen, the Industrial
Socialist League the ISSL emerged as a prominent syndicalist formation,
comprising of the syndicalist veterans and anti war South African
Labor Party activists. The ISL quickly became the largest left
political group before the Communist Party of South Africa. The

(44:21):
ISL rooted in the ISWW tradition, advocated for the organization
of workers on industrial alliance irrespective of race, and envisioned
in an integrated revolutionary one big union for national liberation
and class struggle. The ISL criticized whitecraft unions for the
divisive practices and advocated of industrial unions to confront the

(44:43):
challenges posed by giant corporations and trusts. Racial prejudice, according
to the ISSL, served the ruling class's interests insuring a
study supply of cheap, unorganized African labor at the same
time that the ISL was actively opposing discriminatory laws. The
ISL also doubted the efficacy of African nationalist programs in

(45:05):
genuinely emancipating the black masses. It contended that national oppression
was rooted in capitalism, making national liberation unlikely under the
prevalance system. The ISL aimed to reform white unions, but
while leading efforts to organize people of color, they faced challenges,
of course, in the form of opposition from white workers,

(45:26):
electoral defeats, and hostility from established unions. They were evicted
from Trades Hall in nineteen seventeen for resistant discriminatory policies,
but continued the activities cultivating links with people of color,
particularly through its passionately anti Zionist Yiddish speaking branch. The

(45:47):
ISL played a pivotal role in establishing unions among people
of color, launching the Indian Workers Industrial Union in Durban
in nineteen seventeen and later through night schools for Africans,
initiating the Industrial Workers off in the same year, both
of which would be led by their own constituents. In
July nineteen eighteen, there would be another general strike, this

(46:07):
time primarily by Africans. Earlier that year, one hundred and
fifty two African municipal workers were sentenced to hard labor
for striking, leading to protests organized by the Industrial Workers
of Africa, the International Socialist League and the South African
Native National Congress and the South Africa Native National Congress

(46:28):
the SANNC, which was the precursor to the currently ruled
In African National Congress the ANC. The Joint Action Committee
proposed a general strike on the Witwatersrand for the release
of the sentenced workers and better pay for African workers.
Although the strike was canceled last minute, several thousand African
miners participated anyway, resulting in arrests for incitement to public violence.

(46:54):
The rested individuals included ISL members and a member of
both the Industrial Workers of Africa and the ESSAYNNC. A
year later, in March nineteen nineteen, ISL members played a
role in their civil disobedience campaign against pass lords, which
required non whites in South Africa to carry documents authorizing
their presence in restricted white areas. That resistance campaign led

(47:18):
to nearly seven hundred arrests. That same year, in Kimberley,
the ISL established syndicalist unions among colored workers, such as
the Clothing Workers Industrial Union and the Horse Drivers Union.
These unions achieved significant successes, including wage increases in Cape Town.

(47:38):
ISL members City Way and KREI aimed to organize the
Industrial Workers of Africa on the docks. They collaborated with
the Industrial Socialist League the ind SL, a syndicalist breakaway
from the SDF, and played a role in the major
strike on the docks in December nineteen nineteen. Now the
strike ultimately disintegrated, but it's still mar significant event. All

(48:03):
in all, the ISL, heavily influenced by syndicalism, would play
a major role in the strikes of the late nineteen tenths.
The ISL's influence extended to the formation of the Communist
Party of South Africa CPS, alongside the SDF and the
INDSCEL and a few other groups in the nineteen twenties.
That party would go underground after the Anti Communist Act

(48:26):
of the fifties and re emerge as the South African
Communist Party the SAACP. For most of its history, it
has been explicitly Marxist Leninist, heavily influenced by the Bolsheviks. However,
when it first started, syndicalist concepts still lingered within the
party for many years before was eventually excised. The internationalist

(48:49):
and multi racial vision of the syndicalist movement was later
taken over by the two stage strategy of the cpsa
slash SACP, which sought to establish an independent, democratic capitalist
republic as a precursor to a socialist order. This, of course,
diverges from the earlier anarchist and syndicalist strategy, which viewed
the anti colonial independence and class struggles as interconnected and

(49:12):
didn't see national liberation as solely the purview of nationalism,
a view which to me is more sophisticated and revolutionary
than this one track status view that Marxist tend to
adopt contrary to the organizing efforts of actual working class people. Interestingly,
Van der Walt argues that while CPSA undeniably contributed to

(49:32):
working class struggles since the nineteen forties, a critical look
reveals that they made consistent cricketures of the pre CPSA left.
They sort of established themselves as the true vanguard in
the fight for South Africa's liberation. So they portrayed the
pre CPSA left in two main currents, the Proto Bolsheviks
considered true socialists and everyone else The pre CPSA left

(49:55):
was deemed a failure, with the Proto Bolsheviks credited for
pioneer and socialist work among black workers. According to their narrative,
it was only in the late nineteen twenties the CPSAS
adoption of the Native republic thesis and Marxist Leninist ideas
that the national question was adequately addressed. Anarchism and syndicalism
are portrayed as marginal and bothersome predominantly white movements that

(50:20):
at best underestimated the significance of national oppression were at
worst endorsed white supremacy and segregation. This interpretation, of course,
positions a CPSA slash SACP as the sole bearers of
revolutionary socialist solutions the national question, while ironically erasing the
history of early African socialist and syndicalist radicalism. So wrapping

(50:43):
up a bit here, we delved into the intricate history
of anarchism and syndicalism in South Africa, uncovering a movement
that played a significant role in Southern Africa from the
eighteen eighties to the nineteen twenties and consistently grappled with
the complexities of the national question. We've seen a multi
racial and internationalist movement marked by a steadfast opposition to

(51:05):
racial discrimination and a commitment to interracial labor organization and
the unity of the Wigan class. They had a vision
of a society rooted in class solidarity, of an industrial
republic distinct from the conventional nation state and in lockstep
with an international industrial republic. Now, despite the decline of
anarchism and cynicalism in the years following the founding of

(51:29):
the CPSA slash sacp Anarchism is still alive today in
South Africa. The Zaba Laza Anarchist Communist Front or ZACF
is a specific anarchist political organization based in Johannesburg, South
Africa and founded on May Day in two thousand and three.
The organization operates on an individual membership basis by invitation only,

(51:54):
emphasising theoretical and strategic unity among members. The Zaba Lazas,
a line with the anarchist communist Platformists and a specifistic
traditions within anarchism, subscribe in to the idea of an
active minority pushing anarchist ideas within larger movements. In fact,
unlike the anarchisynicalists, the Zablazas don't aim to build mass

(52:16):
anarchist movements, but rather to participate in existing social movements,
spreading anarchist principles within heterogeneous organizations. Zablaza advocates for direct democracy,
mutual aid, horizontalism, class combativeness, direct action, and class independence.
It emerged during a time of political closure within trade

(52:38):
unions which were controlled by the African National Congress government.
It oriented itself towards emerging social movements such as the
Anti Privatization Forum and the Landless People's Movement, aim into
advance anarchist principles within these movements. Sablas's work includes popular
political education, combatant reformists and authoritarians, tendencies, an advocation for

(53:02):
the independence of social movements from political parties and electoral politics.
So that's the story the history of anarchism and cynicalism
and South Africa. Obviously this is a summary, but it
goes to show the influence that these movements have had
in shape and the history of that often forgotten region

(53:24):
of the world. Thanks for joining me once again, or
Powell to all the people.

Speaker 5 (53:30):
Yes, welcome to it could happen here a podcast that
much of the chagrin of my upstairs neighbors is being
recorded at almost three in the morning. Is being recorded

(53:54):
at three in the morning instead of at any normal
time because a bunch of protests broke out across college
campuses against the genocide and Palestine. We will cover that
at some point very soon. However, Comma, there is this
episode to be done. I'm your host, Mia Wong, and

(54:14):
this episode is something a little different. So there's an
element of Trump's Agenda forty seven that we didn't really
talk about in our episodes. That's actually a pretty significant
amount of the material, and that's Trump's trade policy. And
this is sort of surprisingly a very large part of

(54:36):
his pitch. The sort of gist of it is that
Trump's appeal to like the white working class TM is Okay,
we're going to do a bunch of protectionist terrorists. This
is going to bring jobs back to the US by
imposing costs and manufacturing in other countries, etc. Et cetera.
This will bring jobs back to America and it will

(54:56):
make America greater or some shit. Now, the center piece
of this is what's called the Reciprocal Tariff Bill, and
it's not that complicated. Basically, what it says is if
a country imposes a tariff on an American good, the
US imposes an identical tariff on that tariff. It's designed
to basically automatically start trade wars. Now, the reason we

(55:22):
didn't cover this in the original Legenda forty seven slate
of episodes is that even in the worst case scenario
where Trump takes power like a coup, and you know,
the sort of power of anyone to oppose the magnificantly curtailed.
I don't think you can get this one passed. And
the reason I don't think you can get this one
passed is because, you know, as it turns out, this

(55:45):
package and we're going to sort of explore this a
little bit. Actually seriously, messing with tariffs is something that
is really really going to piss off a lot of
corporations that actually matter. Now, Okay, So like I could
have just done the episode anyways, led with that and

(56:06):
just given a sort of you know, just given the
disclaimer that like it's probably not gonna happen. But I
think there's a more interesting story here that hasn't really
been talked about about the origin of basically the framework
of modern American politics, both on the right and on
the left, because they both emerge I think from a

(56:26):
series of arguments about trade that has been kind of
broadly forgotten. I think that's to our detriment. And the
product of this is that there's been a sort of
raft of arguments and I've seen this as much from
the leftist from the right, that Trump's support for tariffs
and particularly the sort of trade spat he got in
with China from twenty eighteen to twenty nineteen marks the

(56:49):
end of the sort of like neoliberal free trade regime
and the emergence of like new nationalist protections against free trade.
That's like the neo economic system that's replaced neoliberalism. And
I am very skeptical of this. And the reason why
I'm very skeptical of this is because I, like when
I was coming up as a leftist, I spent a
bunch of time seriously became involved in like irl left

(57:13):
organizing around twenty seventeen. I'd done some stuff in like
twenty thirteen before then, but that meant that, you know,
a lot of the stuff I was reading was accounts
of what was called the global justice movements, which was
alter globalization, anti globalization. There's like it has it has
a million names, but it was it was a series
of mass protest movements against the sort of raft of

(57:33):
free trade agreements coming out of the nineties. So and
you get a very very different picture of the history
of free trade that is sort of broader and more
expansive in the history of the resistance to it. Then
you get if you just sort of like, you know,
assume neoliberalism has been the same always and Trump is

(57:55):
the sort of aberration to it. Now, Trump's status as
an aberration something that I question. I mean, you know,
the trade war that he got into is something, you know,
it's it's it is different. But I think there's a
lot of there's a lot of sort of hype around
Trump's like opposition to free trade. And like one of

(58:16):
the big things you know that Trump ran on was
pulling out of NAFTA, and he did. He did pull
out of DAFTA. However, COMA he then set up a
new trade NAFTA. By the way, it's a North American
Free Trade Agreement. It's really shit. We're going to talk
a bit more about what exactly it did later, but
you know, it's broadly seen, I think rightly as something

(58:38):
that smashed both huge portions of what was left of
the American manufacturing economy and you know, the parts of
the economy that had been rebuilt in the eighties and
also just absolutely annihilating the mechicangy cultural industry. For reasons
that we will we will explain it a bit. It's
now becoming extremely deeply unpopular because unbelievable numbers of workers

(58:59):
lost their and you know, the the jobs that they
got afterwards had shittier wages. You know, entire communities are ravage,
et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. So Trump, you know,
famously campaigns I'm pulling out of this deal, but he
replaces it with something called USMCA. Now here's the thing
about this deal. This is basically just NAFTA with slightly

(59:21):
stronger carve outs for the auto industry about like what
percentage of the parts of vehicles had to be produced
in the US and some like slightly stronger labored like protections,
which is like fine, but it's it's basically the same deal, right,
So you know you have to take this whole sort
of like a Trump is like the anti free trade
thing with a grain of salt. And look at again

(59:44):
this deal they negotiated, which is just NAFTA. It is literally,
after all of the hype of him pulling out of NAFTA,
he did NAFTA again. Now this something very interesting that
I don't think people remember. Obaba also opposed NAFTA, and
they came into office and then nothing ever fucking happened.
The NAFTA, So, you know, the sort of like the

(01:00:05):
rumors of naftas Dubais have been greatly exaggerated. But Comma,
the story of the building of opposition to NAFTA is
very very interesting. So something I don't think most people
understand is that the modern American left is descended from
the Zapatistas. Very specifically. We're gonna one day cover the

(01:00:29):
Sapatista uprising in some detail, but the sort of cliff
nosed version is that on January first, nineteen ninety four,
the Zapatistas, who are you named after the great Mexican
revolutionary hero Melio Zapata, staged in uprising in Mexico. They
seized a bunch of cities very quickly. They were sort
of driven out of those cities, but eventually they took

(01:00:50):
control of a decent part of the territory of the
Mexican state of Chiapas. The Zapatisa stage is uprising for
a number of reasons. The most famous of them is
that January first, nineteen ninety four is the year the
NATHA took effect. One of the things about this free
trade agreement is that it in order to ratify it,

(01:01:10):
the Mexican governments changed the constitution, and the part of
the constitution they eliminated was the part that had secured
collective ownership of a bunch of land for indigenous people,
and this would allow corporations to seize and control the season,
controlled the indigenous lands, exploit for resources, kicked the people
off of it, and kill them. Now, this obviously was
unacceptable to the Zapatistas. They go into revolt. What I

(01:01:34):
think people don't realize is the zapatisis what the Zapatisis
did next, which is holding these a series of these
things called encuentros like encounters. Sorry, my Spanish is not
as good as it once was, and it was never great,
but you know, in which they invited you know, sort
of leftist activists from all over the world to get together.

(01:01:56):
And this is the thing that re built the left
after the absolute catastrophe of the death of the old
left around the collapse of the Soviet Union, which sort
of annihilated like the sort of old left like communist
political parties and you know Usherton, like the pure era

(01:02:17):
of the march and neoliberalism, and the activists that came
out of these encounters go back to you know, go
back to their respective countries and they start and you know,
they're they're organizing against these trade against you know, these
series of free trade deals, and they start doing what's
becalled what's become known as summit hopping. I think the

(01:02:38):
most famous of these in America is what's become known
as the Battle of Seattle, the nineteen ninety nine giant
protest against the World Trade Organization summit. Yeah, and this
sort of you know, and this starts from about nineteen
ninety nine to nine to eleven. There's a huge wave
of these well, I mean it goes on after nine eleven,
but nine to eleven really damages it. But there's this

(01:02:59):
massive it's like really the first sort of real like
mass mobilizations and social movements like in the US sense,
like there's a stuff in the anti nuclear whom of
the eighties, but this is this is the first really
big sort of like resurrection of the left. And I
think importantly for us, like the people who people who

(01:03:19):
found occupy like David Graeber for example, is someone who
starts doing politics like during this period dream alter globalization,
during these sort of protests, and those people, those are
the people who build occupy, and you know, occupy for
whatever whatever else you can say about it, Occupy is

(01:03:40):
the single event that brought that like drag the American
left kicking and screaming out of irrelevance and all of
that shit. Everything, you know, every all of the sort
of organizational tenets of occupy, all of its sort of ideology.
That stuff is all stuff from multi globalization, right, and
you know, the sort of tenants of like direct democracy,

(01:04:01):
of the sort of like the sort of economic egalitarianism,
this opposition to free trade. This you know, this whole
thing about the way that the World Trade Organization and
the World Bank, you know, use sort of economic structuring
deals to devastate economies and like turn entire nations into
sort of debt peons. This is all ault globalization stuff.

(01:04:24):
And this movement is very, very powerful and very successful.
Even the sort of arch like you know, by by
by by the time you hit twenty sixteen, right, this
has reshaped politics in the US to the extent that
like arch neoliberal Hillary Clinton says she's openly in fa
like openly says she's in favor of renegotiating NAFTA and

(01:04:44):
opposes her own trans Pacific Partnership, which is the last
of the sort of giant free trade deals that would
eventually like die and go up and smoke with Trump. Right,
I'm going to read a passage from David Graver's piece
to Shock of Victory about what actually happened UH dreamed
this movement. This is section about free trade agreements. All

(01:05:05):
the ambitious free trade treaties planned since nineteen ninety eight
have failed. The MIIA was routed the FTAA the focus
of the actions in Quebec, and Miami stopped that in
its tracks. Most of us remember the two thousand and
three FTAA, some mainly for introducing the quote unquote Miami
model of extreme police respression against even obviously nonviolent civil resistance.

(01:05:26):
It was that, but we forget that this was more
than anything, the enraged flailings of a pack of extremely
sore losers. Miami was the meeting where the FTAA was
definitively killed. Now no one is even talking about broad,
ambitious treaties on that scale. The US is reduced to
pushing from minor country to country trade packs with additional

(01:05:46):
allies like South Korea and Peru, or at best deals
like caf TA uniting its remaining client states in Central America.
And it's not even clear we'll manage to pull that off.
And this is what we've seen from you know, sort
of projecting forward from the future, from the two thousands
when this is written. Free trade was not killed by
Trump or shijianping. These free trade agreements, if anyone, was

(01:06:07):
killed by the Zappatistas and the global justice and the
global justice movement. That the that, you know, the sort
of like in contros and the Zappatista is built.

Speaker 4 (01:06:15):
Now.

Speaker 5 (01:06:15):
One things that Appatistas did not build is the producting
services that support this podcast. And we are we are
back from products and servicing, products and servicing. That is
slightly ominous. Now, the modern left isn't the only thing

(01:06:39):
that sort of descended from the backlash to free trade right.
We've we've you know, we we've gone over the extent
to which the left is built off of this stuff.
But much of the modern right is descended from the
sort of ross perrot like right wing nationalists backlash to
the same stuff. I think probably the most the most
famous link between that era and this era is Alex Jones.

(01:07:00):
This is the reason that like Alex Jones, and people
like him screaming about like scream constantly about globalists, right,
because you know, the global justice movement has two kind
of wings. There's or you know what was called anti globalizition.
It's two wings. One wing is a sort is a
leftist wing, which is like, okay, we actually support like

(01:07:21):
the we know, we support the global like movement of
ideas and people, but we but you know what, what
what globalization and free trade actually means is locking people
down in their countries with militarized borders while capital boost
freely between them. And we think that's fucking bad. There
was also another you know, there was also the right
ring reaction, which is this incredibly right ring nationalist reaction,

(01:07:42):
which is that like, ah, like these these like rootless
cosmopolitan globalists are uh are like like you know, taking
all of our jobs and moving them to like Mexico,
and you know they've like sold they're like sold out
the American people. And you know, like obviously this stuff
is just it starts anti it starts like as anti

(01:08:05):
semitic dog whistles and just gets I mean like like okay,
these are like the loudest dog whistles of all time. Right,
But you know, they get increasingly anti semitic, and this
is the kind of stuff you know that Alex Jones
is doing. And this is the kind of sort of
writing politics that winds out over so sort of like
neo conservatisms more like sort of hoorah free trade. We're

(01:08:30):
going to use like the might of the American empire
to like you know, spread sort of like this very
specific model of capitalism to other countries. And you get
the sort of Trump style like fuck every other country,
We're gonna kind of do tariffs and stuff. Now, what
I think is very interesting. So what Trump eventually sort

(01:08:51):
of winds up, you know, producing as a discourse, I
guess you could say, is is this is this image
of Okay, so, like the thing that's holding back the
American worker is China because all of our jobs are
being sent to China, and so if we just put
more tariffs on China and we defeat China geopolitically, everything
will sort of like be great in the American nation.
Like you the white worker are going to have jobs again,

(01:09:14):
Like everything's going to go back to the way they were.
And what's fascinating about this is that, you know, as
the trade war's intensifying, and then mid Light twenty tens
in China, there is a parallel discourse which is almost identical,
where Chinese nationalists will do this thing where they talk
about like breaking through the Great Ming as a solution

(01:09:35):
to evolution. We talked about involution on the show before.
Is this concept that's very popular in China right now,
where you know, it's becoming increasingly clear that like a
working hard is not going to actually get you any
more money than you're getting now, Like you're not going
to get ahead in life. You're just sort of stuck.
And so you're stuck in this condition of putting more
and more effort into nothing. And the Chinese nationalist argument

(01:09:57):
is that if you, if you can geopolitically dif feed
the US, China will sort of like break out of
its wage stagnation and economic stagnation. And so you know,
what you have is this very very dangerous collision of
these two sort of like right wing nationalisms that are
like offering these really sort of categorically false assertions that

(01:10:18):
if you just follow their sort of nationalists geopolitical agenda,
then all of the sort of class issues that everyone's
dealing with will suddenly magically work themselves out. Now contra
this and contra I think the argument that even that
sort of just you know, the argument that I was
talking about before, that like Trump and the sort of

(01:10:39):
nationalists like economic policy and discourse from China like represents
something you know, seismic, like a seismic change, and like
trade policy, that signals the end of neoliberalism. I want
to come back to the point of will Trump actually
be able to implement any of the stuff even if
he had sort of near dictatorial power, And I think
the answer to that is no. The reason I think

(01:11:00):
the answer to that is no is that, you know,
one of the old observations about quote unquote free trade
from the global just movement is that, Okay, if you
look at what quote unquote trade is, right, international trade,
huge amount of it is literally the same company moving
its own resources from one place to another. Now, the

(01:11:21):
problem is the more expensive it is for corporation to
do this, the more pissed off they get. Right, and
this means that this kind of like tariff war bullshit,
And this happened through the Trump administration that pissed off
a lot of people. And if if you know, and
Trump is you know, his intention is to start an
even larger and more powerful series of trade wars. This
is going to piss off a lot of people who

(01:11:42):
actually matter in the sort of in the American political system,
which is to say, a lot of shareholders and a
lot of CEOs, and you know. And so I think
the fairly obvious inclusion is that what actually happens here
is you get exactly the same kind of shit that
happened with Trump's like quote unquote pull out of NAFTA,
where he makes like one or two symbolic gestures and
then everything continues as normal and he declares victory. Now,

(01:12:05):
the second problem I have with people looking at this
as a sort of new regime is the way that
they're thinking about this sort of like tiff and subsidy
regime as something that's that's not a part of neoliberalism, right,
Like the sort of theoretical ideal of neoliberalism is countries
aren't supposed to do tarriffs. Countries aren't supposed to be

(01:12:26):
able to do like quote unquote protectionism. So we're not
supposed to give subsis and manufacturers and everyone's supposed to
like compete on a free and equal trade playing field.
This has never been true and in fact, what free
trade has meant in practice, and this has been true
since the founding of the World Trade Organization. What it
means is that Western countries get to impose terriffs and

(01:12:48):
manufacturing subsidies and non Western countries don't. Right, even in
the WTO, there's a bunch of random carve outs for
like fucking like random workers in Germany and stuff. This
is also a part of like literally a part of
what start of the Zapatista uprising. I mean we talked about,
you know, the primary cause, like the elimination of collective
ownership from Mexican constitution. But another huge problem is what

(01:13:15):
what NAFTA was going to do is force a bunch
of Mexican corn farmers to compete with American corn farmers. Now, okay,
if it was literally just corn farmers from these two
countries competing, like Mexican corn farmers probably eventually cauld out
compete American corn farmers because Americans are fucking dogshit at farming.
But under the terms of NAFTA, and this is again

(01:13:35):
the thing that's been true of free trade this whole time,
they have to compete with subsidized American corn. This is impossible.
Mexican farmers got fucking annihilated. All of their land was
seized by corporations, and you know, it has brought sort
of devastation and ruined to the Mexican economy ever since.
This has been absolutely great for the ruling class because
all of these farmers who suddenly like you know, can't

(01:13:56):
afford to keep their farms anymore, were forced into sort
of like labor and a bunch of shitty sweatshops that
were set up from NAFTA. So this worked great from
the perspective of American capital. But again, if you look
at what actually happened here, right, all of the sort
of like rhetorica of free trade, you know, like sort
of like fades into myst and face of the reality
of one of the great industrial policy programs in the

(01:14:21):
in the history of world economies, which is the American
subsidization of its own fucking agriculture. And you know, this
isn't considered in the quote unquote industrial policy or like
industrial like government planning or whatever, like largely because people
have this weird bias when they talk about government planning
that it only is supposed to apply to like, oh,

(01:14:41):
government planning means when like someone like plans steel outputs
or some shit, but like, no, like the actual large
scale economic plan that goes on the US is the
unfat like billions and billions of billions and billions of
dollars will be pour into the agricultural industry every year. So,
you know, if if you look at the stuff that
everyone's claiming of these sort of new innovations that are
like the end of neoliberalism, right, it's like, oh my god.

(01:15:04):
Other countries are putting up like protectionists subsidy things, Like
they're having their you know, people are like trying to
make microchips and they're having like state sponsored programs to
do microshrips. It's like, well, they're just doing with microchips
what the US has been doing with cord this entire time. Right.

(01:15:24):
What's really changing to some extent is that, you know,
the deal had always been that Western countries get to
impost Harris and AD manufacturing subsidies and non Western countries don't.
And I think part of what's weighing people out is that, like,
you know, China has actually been kind of attempting to
break the West monopoly on being able to do with
industrial policy, and this has caused a bunch of people

(01:15:47):
to really severely overestimate the extent to which like this
is an actual break from previous regimes of trade and capital. Now,
another point that I want to make that I I've
talked about this before on the show, but I want
to kind of briefly touch on it again because I
think it's really important and it's really badly understood. Is

(01:16:08):
that for all of the sort of discourse about how
like a China's like entering into economic competition with the West,
and it's like increasingly using the party to like pursue
nationalist aims instead of like following the market, if you
look at what's actually going on in China, despite all
the hype about like China and the US are decoupling
their economies, or like China is trying to make its

(01:16:30):
own domestic silicon industry, the actual tendency in Chinese economic
policy is towards further integration and increasing foreign otoship. China
has a lot of provisions about foreign companies needing to
be in partnership with Chinese companies in order to operate
in China. There's always been massive restrictions on how much
stock a foreign company can own in Chinese companies, and

(01:16:51):
these restrictions in sector, sector after sector after sector are
being lifted, and so you have to sort of look
at this, you know, the sort of like surface level
nationalist narratives about like, ah, we're entering an era of
like warring like like warring mutually exclusive economic trading series,

(01:17:11):
with the reality of China being like, no, please foreign capital,
like you can operate here without us. It's going to
be great just to keep keep keep pumping more capital
in if we all, if we all work together, all
of the sort of porgeows you will keep making money together.
And I think all of this leads to something the
last thing I want touch on, which is what's actually

(01:17:33):
happening here and the thing that's actually happening here and
the problem, the thing that's actually causing all of these
sort of like all like the sort of focus on
trade itself and the sort of Trumpian nationalists, we can
solve all your problems by trade competition. What's happening is

(01:17:54):
that after about the nineteen sixties, because of sort of
structural manufacturing of a capacity under consumption production, you know,
industrial production is zero sum, right, you can't increase production
rates in a country without that, you know, without that
production coming at the cost of another country. And this

(01:18:15):
is this is because and wow, stop me if you
heard this one before. This is because of fucking capitalism
and what Trump is trying to do and what you know,
to a lesser extent sort of xihiping, and what to
you know, these sort of Chinese nationalists are trying to
do is turn you know, they're trying to stand on
a beach and order the tide to recede in order

(01:18:37):
to stop the coming class war. They are trying to say, no,
we can go back to the era where production wasn't
zero s. We can do this as sort of terrorists.
We can go back to the golden age of both
corporations and unions making moor corporations and workers like making
money together and the sort of like national collaborationist project.
And they're doing this in large parts because they are

(01:19:00):
watching the same thing that you and I are watching,
the same thing. That's the reason this episode is being
recorded at fucking three in the morning, is at of
a normal time, which is that all across the US,
and you know, increasingly all across the world. You can
fucking see the working class starting to organize again. You
can see it starting to wake up, you can see
it starting to mobilize. And this whole fucking thing, all

(01:19:25):
of Trump, right, this entire sort of racist, senophobic nationalist project,
is just utter dread that Ferguson and the Black Revolution
put into the fucking hearts of these people. And if
we fight hard enough, we fight smart enough, and we
fight organized enough in Shilah, we will see the fucking
day when these people's nightmare comes true and we never

(01:19:47):
have to hear another word from these fuckers again. It
says been it could happen here. Hi.

Speaker 8 (01:20:07):
Everyone, welcome to the podcast. It's me today and I'm
joined by Meghan Burdett, who is the director of research
at the Kurdish Peace Institute.

Speaker 9 (01:20:14):
Hi, Meghan, thanks so much for having me.

Speaker 8 (01:20:17):
Yeah, thanks for joining us. So what we wanted to
talk about today was these local elections that have been
happening in Turkey in the last week or so. We're
recording in very early aprils that it happened I think
towards the end of.

Speaker 9 (01:20:28):
March, right, yeah, March thirty first.

Speaker 8 (01:20:31):
Yeah, So can you explain to listeners First of all,
like I mean, I've heard about these Turkish local elections
almost constantly for the past several months, because I hear
about them from Kurdish migrants leaving Turkey. Almost every time
I'm at the border, I meet people and they tell me,
can you explain sort of the context of these elections,
the concerns going into them.

Speaker 9 (01:20:53):
Yeah, of course. So first off, these are the first
elections in Turkey following the presidential and parla mentory vote
last year that was seen as a huge disappointment for
the opposition and also for a couple of separate reasons
and a couple of similar reasons for the pro Kurdish
political movement as well. The Opposition underperformed last year. They

(01:21:14):
were not able to defeat Erdowan as the polling and
the sentiment in the country had suggested that they would,
and the pro Kurdish political movement also underperformed as well.
They did not win as many seats or as many
votes as they usually do, and a lot of that
was attributed to the very complex Alliance decisions they made,

(01:21:35):
choosing not to run their own presidential candidate and instead
ask their voters to vote for the CHP, which is
the main opposition party that has a history of being
very nationalist and violent and exclusionary towards Kurds. Though things
have changed in these past twenty years, voters didn't understand
that a lot of voters weren't happy with that. And
then there were some local level issues with selections of

(01:21:56):
candidates as well, and then of course the climate of
very severe political repression, and had the opposition one there
was a lot of hope that it would have started
to change things on the Kurdish issue in Turkey. You know,
from what I'd been hearing from people, there were prospects

(01:22:16):
of political prisoners being released, of contact between the state
and of delah Ojalon being re established, which could have
been the opening of a new peace process if you
follow this. You know, the PKK declared a ceasefire prior
to the elections. They initially said that it was following
the earthquake in order to not allow the conflict to

(01:22:37):
intervene with humanitarian efforts, but they did very explicitly extend
it through the elections. And the discussions around that that
I heard in Iraqi, Kurdistan, in Northeast Syria and in
Europe made it very clear that that was an opening
to hopefully be able to leverage it into a larger
piece process were there to be a political change happen.

(01:23:01):
So for Kurds, the situation did not improve. Ardwan continued
his crackdown and his military aggression against Kurds in Iraq
and Syria, and for democracy in Turkey, for the condition
of the opposition, for the condition of all the groups
that pressed under Aerdowan's regime, whether that's women, whether that's workers,

(01:23:21):
whether that's the earthquake victims that have been left behind,
things didn't get better. So these elections were an opportunity
for people to register their disapproval in a way that
I think many might have wished that they could have
a year ago. And that disapproval was registered for the
first time. Air Dowon's party, the Justice and Development Party

(01:23:44):
or the AKP, was not the first place party in Turkey.
The main opposition CHP actually overtook them the pro Kurdish
People's Equality and Democracy Party or the DEM Party, which
used to be the HDP, So if I call it
the HDP, I'm sorry. Went Actually their results were much
more in line with what they had done in the past.

(01:24:05):
They performed you know, right on standard, they actually won
more municipalities than they did in twenty nineteen, and there
was a lot of enthusiasm for change among Kurds, among
supporters of the opposition, you know, among people who I
think had wanted to see things start to move in
a more democratic direction last year. So that was a

(01:24:25):
very big deal for that reason. And it also shows
the fact that Airedowan is not necessarily as invincible in
twenty twenty eight as people feared he would be.

Speaker 8 (01:24:38):
Yeah, So talking of invincibility, I think that's a good
kind of key into our next topic, which is that
the elections weren't exactly like a smooth kind of I
guess concession by Idowan and by his party. Right, can
you explain to people who aren't familiar with this what happened?

Speaker 9 (01:24:56):
Yeah, So, to start, before the elections, over seventy five
of voters who supported successful pro Kurdish mayoral candidates had
their elected representation taken away from them. The government removed
and imprisoned elected mayors and replaced them with regime loyalist
trustees who essentially ruled these municipalities on direct orders from

(01:25:18):
Erdowan in Ankarap. So this was on an unfair playing
field for the Kurdish political movement to begin with, very
unfair playing field for the main opposition as well. At
Kreme Mamoluh's the very popular mayor of Istanbul, who just
won reelection by a very large margin, as a criminal
case against him that could have him banned from politics,

(01:25:39):
So this was very difficult in the Kurdish regions. There
were many many irregularities on election day. One that a
lot of people were discussing were these so called mobile
voters where the government actually sent members of these security
forces predominantly from Western Turkey into Kurdish cities to vote
in large groups for ruling Akap. You know, there's a

(01:26:02):
lot of videos taken by local media, local politicians and
activists challenging these people, asking them where they're from, and
then videos of them all crowding into the airports and
back on their buses flying back to Western Turkey the
next day, so you know, they're not even making a
pretense of being local voters. That shifted the results in
some districts. In Chernock, which is a very heavily militarized

(01:26:25):
province where the government bases a lot of its military campaigns.
You know, into the occupied regions of Iraq and Syria
from the pro Kurdish political movement alleges that these voters
shifted the outcome. So you had that kind of outright
attempts at theft in addition to the context of repression.
And then most brazenly, just one day after the election,

(01:26:47):
the local provincial election board denied a mandate of victory,
you know, essentially the documents certifying that a candidate has
won the elections and will be allowed to assume office
to the pro Kurdish candidate of Billa Zaidon in the
province of Vaughan, which is a heavily Kurdish province where
the dem Party won all fourteen district municipalities and the

(01:27:10):
metropolitan municipality as well. So the local election authority essentially said, no,
you can't run. There's been a last minute legal finding
that you're unfit to run for office, as there always is, right,
and then they tried to give the municipality to the
candidate from Erdowon's party, the AKP, who got less than
half of the number of votes.

Speaker 8 (01:27:32):
Right yeah, so kind of yeah, and validating the results.
We're going to break briefly for an advert here and
then we'll be back, right, We're back. So when they
tried to invalidate these results right into install representatives, I

(01:27:56):
guess you could call them that who didn't win the
popular vote. There was like a significant street response to that, right,
can you talk us through that? And then the repression
of it and the results of it.

Speaker 9 (01:28:07):
Absolutely so. There were mass demonstrations in Vaughan in other
Kurdish provinces, and these are people coming out who not
ten years ago saw the military raising their cities to
the ground, killing civilians in the streets. This is a
very costly endeavor for Kurdish people in these provinces to
go protest. That's why you haven't seen it to such

(01:28:29):
a degree as was seen in the nineties, in the
early two thousands, since the collapse of the peace process
and that violent military campaign in the cities. But last
night they were out in full force, and very notably,
they weren't alone. There were protests in Istanbul and solidarity
as well, you know, carried out by Kurds living there,

(01:28:50):
but also by leftist parties, by feminists, by Kurdish religious organizations,
by all the segments of civil society that have sort
of oriented around the pro Kurdish political movement, and there
was also a pretty significant reaction from the main opposition CHP,
which is not known for radicalism. You had the CHP

(01:29:11):
party leader Osgara Ozel saying that it was illegitimate for
the government to deny a candidate a mandate, and then
you had Imamulu in Istanbul also criticizing the decision, saying
it was illegitimate and calling on the government to respect
the popular will. So at the same time you had
this outcry across the Turkish political spectrum, you had tens

(01:29:32):
of thousands of people out protesting, braving police violence. You know,
there were armed pro government vigilantes caught on video shooting
into crowds. There was very, very harrowing videos of beatings
and torture of civilians. Journalists were attacked and prevented from
covering the protests. This was a very difficult situation to watch,

(01:29:53):
and a lot of people that I was speaking to
were worrying about a return to the level of violence
that seen in twenty fifteen and twenty sixteen. Were things
to escalate, But you know, sometimes there's good news in
Turkey and Kurdistan. Not always, but sometimes you know, in
Turkish you'd say da dyne kaslan Achaz will win by resisting,

(01:30:16):
and in Kurdish you'd say behludan Jiana resistance is life
and that sort of Those are very famous protest slogans
that proved really accurate last night, because today Turkey's Supreme
Electoral Council actually reversed the attempt to give the election
to the losing pro government candidate and gave the Dun
party candidate his mandate back. So they've said that he

(01:30:38):
will be allowed to assume office, and I think they
looked at this huge street protest, they looked at this
opposition coming from not only the pro Kurdish political movement
but many different political forces in Turkey, and the state
decided to back down. They decided not to pick this

(01:30:59):
fight now. And you know, that's not to say that
voter suppression in other provinces wasn't an issue. That's not
to say that there are still outcomes that are being contested.
You know, the government's doing a lot of very unfair
things right now to try to take districts from the
CHP and from the pro Kurdish political movement. But what
this does show is that when people insist on a

(01:31:22):
democratic outcome and when they are willing to stand up
for it in large numbers and face the consequences the
difficulty of doing that that even regimes like air dons,
these very you know, autocratic, far right governments have a
point at which they will back down. And I think

(01:31:42):
that that display of resistance and solidarity getting a government
like that to back down is something that can be
very hopeful for people around the world right now.

Speaker 8 (01:31:52):
Yeah, definitely. I mean we've seen like just to the
stuff we've cold or obviously the United States, but also
in Mianma, like increasingly it's harder and harder for states
to deny people's right to be represented or to be heard,
and like that's a good thing Germany for democracy.

Speaker 5 (01:32:08):
Yeah.

Speaker 8 (01:32:09):
I wanted to ask about you spoken a little bit
about the Turkish military's incursions into northern Assyria and into
like Iraqi, Curtistan, Curtis Donal, a potonomous region. Can you
explain that there's a lot of like I think Turkey
is pretty clearly like telegraphed plants for increased military activity
in that region. So can you explain what's what's being

(01:32:30):
proposed and what that means.

Speaker 9 (01:32:33):
So, I think because they have gone into this election
and found themselves weakened. This is something that could make
Airdon very dangerous. One thing that the government has always
done when it's found itself weak is try to polarize
society by attacking the Kurds both domestically and internationally in Iraqi,

(01:32:55):
Kurdistan and in North East Syria. Of course, you have
the AKP government loss of its majority in the twenty
fifteen elections during the peace process becoming the reason for
the government's abandonment of the peace process itself. Then in
twenty nineteen after the local elections where the government lost
control of Istanbul and Ankara for the first time. That

(01:33:15):
was very quickly followed with the appointment of state trustees
to Kurdish municipalities, and then the invasion of North and
East Syria following Ardwan's agreement with Donald Trump about that.
And so this does look like the kind of context
in which he has lashed out against Kurds in Iraq
and Syria before, and given these threats that you mentioned

(01:33:37):
that he has been making. The diplomatic traffic between Turkey
and Iraq, Turkey and Iran, Turkey and the US and Europe.
They do appear to be preparing for something now. I
was just on the ground in North and East Syria
and in Iraqi Kurdistan, and I heard from many people
that they're concerned. The threats that the government has been

(01:33:58):
making appear to suggest that they might try to go
for a geographically larger military operation this time. There's a
chance that instead of only conducting their typical spring offensive
into Iraqi Kurdistan, which usually gets them nowhere, they might
also attempt to invade northern Syria as well. Of course,

(01:34:18):
that's very internationally contingent. They would need a green light
from the Americans and from the Russians to be able
to violate those cease fires and go in there. But
the threats very real. It's something that people are very
concerned about on the ground, and I think that it's
worth paying attention to, and particularly for those of US
and countries that are allied with the Turkish government making

(01:34:39):
noise about, you know, opposing trying to get onto the
agenda so that permission is not given here and they're
not incentivized to do this.

Speaker 8 (01:34:47):
Yeah. I think that's a very good point, because, like
Curtish issues are ones that don't come up very much
in the press in the United States for the most part,
and people and their representatives don't hear about them very much.
But this is one of those like be right to
your your rep things like that, that doesn't a lot
of shit isn't going to get changed with an email
to your elected officials, but especially like certain officials who

(01:35:08):
are on you know, foreign relations, to committees or something,
as well as as like other forms of political activism
could help here, right like, especially in an election year
like that. That's a way to stop that.

Speaker 9 (01:35:21):
Now, this is something that needs to be made into
an issue. And one thing I hear time and time again,
whether I'm speaking to people from the Autonomous Administration, the
YPG and the YPG or pro Kurdish politicians in Turkey
is they know, you know, the weapons that are being
used against them, the tear gas canisters, you know, the
drone parts, the bombs, the equipment, the military training that

(01:35:43):
these personnel get. It all comes from Europe, the United States,
NATO countries that are allied with Turkey. There's a lot
of leverage and you know, pushing to end that military
support is something that could be done right now, that
could be very important. And really, you know, this is
something where one feels almost when one makes these calls,

(01:36:03):
like once constantly asking you know, you should do this
for these people because they're being oppressed and your government
has a say in it. But we really benefit from
this too, Right if you look at what the Kurdish
people and their allies in Turkey have done and standing
up for democracy in getting the government to reverse this
attempt to steal an election, you know, that's one small
example of the very powerful democratic tradition that they have.

(01:36:26):
That is something that we can learn from, you know,
whether you're in the US or in Europe, in many
different countries around the world right now, the threat of
authoritarianism and the sort of far right politics of which
Airedwan is an example, it's an international threat, and you know,
standing with the people who've been able to resist it
is something that you know can benefit us all around

(01:36:48):
the world as well.

Speaker 8 (01:36:49):
Yeah, and like it presents a vision for a future
in which we all stand united against state violence around
the world, rather than being isolated and gradually destroyed by
various states and violent actors. Talking I guess of violent actors.
The one more thing I wanted to cover with we're
jumping around a little bit was but like I think
people will probably have seen at least maybe their social

(01:37:12):
media timelines are different than mine, But there was a
lot of violence against Kurdish people in Northern Europe recently,
right in Belgium, I think, I think maybe in Germany
as well. Explain a little bit of that. Like it's
we get into a little bit of like like Turkish
fascist politics as well, but can you explain what was
going on there?

Speaker 9 (01:37:31):
So this all began when some far right Turkish nationalists
started threatening a Kurdish family after returning from nol Rose
or Kurdish New Year celebrations, and escalated into you know,
essentially these far right vigilantes prowling the streets looking for
Kurds and Kurdish businesses to attack. And this is not

(01:37:52):
something new at all. The Turkish government has invested a
great deal in allowing these structures to operate in Europe.
You have the Gray Wolves, which are a fascist paramilitary
actually the paramilitary wing of the party with which Airdwan
is currently allied and with which he has a majority
in parliament, the National Action Party or the MHP. You know,

(01:38:15):
this is a group that's been responsible for murders and
assassinations and all kinds of attacks on Kurds, other minorities, dissidents,
and has been responsible for violence in Europe as well.
You have the government encouraging religious fundamentalism through its network
of religious institutions in Europe and trying to make that

(01:38:36):
very extreme and very politically instrumentalized vision of religion popular
amongst the Turkish community. And then you have you know,
Turkish intelligence assets able to freely operate and conduct all
kinds of attacks on Kurdish dissidents, you know, within the

(01:38:56):
very center of Europe.

Speaker 10 (01:38:57):
Right.

Speaker 9 (01:38:57):
We all remember in twenty thirteen the assass nation of
Sakinah Johnson's in front of the Kurdish Community Center in Paris.
That murder was never solved. The perpetrator, who they caught
very conveniently died in prison before he was set to
go to trial. Turkish responsibility has never been proven in court,
I think, because there are a lot of people who

(01:39:18):
don't want a full investigation of a case like that
to come out. And then, just I believe yesterday or
maybe the day before, it came out that a Belgian
court found alleged Turkish operatives responsible for planning attacks on
two very senior Kurdish diplomats in Belgium who are members
of the Kurdistan National Congress, which is sort of like

(01:39:41):
the de facto foreign ministry of the Kurdish diaspora in Europe.
You know, these individuals had been spying on the Kurdistan
National Congress building, They'd been in contact with Turkish officials,
They'd been planning assassinations very senior politicians. This is a
real problem. You know, these groups and the state itself
are able to freely attack civilians, plot murders and do

(01:40:06):
violence and really cause chaos. And that's something that's very dangerous,
not only for the Kurdish community, but for really anybody
living in their way.

Speaker 5 (01:40:14):
Yeah.

Speaker 8 (01:40:14):
Yeah, and there are a lot of people who would
rightly want that to stop. I think, so, like, what's
the current situation is a number of people were like beaten.
Was somebody kidnapped? Did I see or was that? I
didn't see any further reporting on that than one photo.

Speaker 9 (01:40:29):
It was very serious. I mean, there were people were attacked.
I'm not exactly certain of the extent of kidnappings or
other instances like that, but this was some very serious
violence and we know what these groups are capable of.
They have killed people and they have essentially gotten away
with it. So it may have died down for now,

(01:40:51):
which is certainly good. And obviously, you know, we saw
a lot of calls for a restraint, you know, from
the Kurdish community, a lot of calls for or these
European governments essentially to do their job and prevent these
groups from you know, importing their nationalist campaigns against a
persecuted minority to a place where you know, these cords
have fled to be free from that sort of thing.

(01:41:14):
So it's stopped for now, but it's very much not over,
you know. I when you see the Kurdish community in
Europe and spend time with them and look at the
security precautions that they have to take just to hold
conferences and cultural festivals, Yeah, it's really quite disheartening.

Speaker 8 (01:41:27):
Yeah, yeah, especially like you say, in northern Europe, like
they're not in Turkey. Left Turkey to avoid that stuff.

Speaker 5 (01:41:33):
Yeah.

Speaker 8 (01:41:34):
We'll take a second outbreak here and then we'll be
back to finish up. So for the last part, do
you have anything you want to add that we haven't
got to yet.

Speaker 9 (01:41:55):
I think that you know, overall, looking at the situation
in Turkey following these elections, looking at the situation in Europe,
we're seeing that the Turkish government continues to be an
example of the danger of these kinds of far right, nationalist,
religious fundamentalist regimes that are on the rise everywhere. These

(01:42:16):
are political trends that are growing around the world, and
Airdowan and his current Turkish government are a very clear
example of the danger that that causes, not to just
the population of a country, but to neighboring countries, to
diaspora communities that have left, that have gone elsewhere, that

(01:42:38):
maintain their culture and maintain their interest in political organizing.
So these are threats that people are going to be
looking at around the world, and I think it's very
important to be following the situation in Turkey for that reason.
But at the same time, looking at how the Kurdish
people and their allies in Turkey, you know, on the left,
in workers' movements, in feminist movements, in all of these

(01:42:59):
sort of grews that have also been victimized by Erdowan's regime,
we're seeing that resistance is possible, that people can stand
up for democracy and they can win and that look right,
nobody's giving up on their work. You know, the KMK
doesn't stop advocating for Kurdish interests in a diplomatic capacity

(01:43:19):
because their members face threats. You know, these people go
to work every single day, you know, in Wilsheva, in
North and Eastsyria, in Iraqi, Kurdistan, Kurdish groups, you know,
Kurdish political organizations, Kurdish politicians and activists, they continue building
up their project. You know, I said, I was just
in northern Syria. It's extremely difficult right now. People don't
have electricity, people don't have water because Turkey bombed all

(01:43:42):
the infrastructure. But still they're celebrating now Rose. You know,
they're talking about their upcoming local elections that they want
to hold and how to hold them in the best way.
You know, they're talking about their new social contract and
how they can implement it. They're moving forward constantly despite
the threats that they're facing. And I think that you know,

(01:44:03):
many of you listening to this are people who are
probably looking to improve and change the society that you
live in. And so when we look at what's going
on in Turkey and in Kurdistan, we can see both
very clear examples of what it is that people who
want change are up against, but also what they can
accomplish even under those conditions.

Speaker 8 (01:44:23):
Yeah, I think like one of the things I took
from going to Kurdistan was like how invested, like how
genuine the solidarity that those people have with other like
oppressed groups. It's like I spent as much time answering
questions about me and ma as I did like asking
questions about Kurdistan, which was surprising to me, but obviously

(01:44:44):
happy to do it. But like it would be nice
to see some of that solidarity come back from the US, right,
So are they're like, I mean, I guess you can
come down to the border and help Kurdish people literally
any day of the week if you'd like to do
that all the time. But what concrete actions people take,
especially with regard to like helping their self administration in

(01:45:05):
North and East Syria, right, Like they're facing constant attacks,
power stations get bombed, Like all my friends there are
always struggling to have power, internet or even like electricity,
and they got flooded recently on top of all that. Yeah,
so like their concrete actions people can take to help
to be in solidarity Oh absolutely.

Speaker 9 (01:45:24):
I mean, I think one thing, if you have expertise
on anything to do with, you know, power grids that
are resilient to these kinds of attacks, on alternative clean
energy sources, anything that could possibly help people in a
situation like this live. They want expertise. There's a lot
of problems that they're facing that they simply because of

(01:45:45):
the war, don't have the capacity not only to solve,
but even to start thinking about how it is that
one solves a problem like this because there just aren't
that many societies in the world going through it. So
any kind of in addressing energy issues, environmental issues, these
kinds of problems, the second and third order effects of

(01:46:09):
the attacks on infrastructure, on oil and gas, on power facilities,
that would be very important. They really do need that,
and that's something you know, you can write to us
at the Kurdish Piece Institute. We can connect you with people.
If you have contacts on the ground there, you can
talk to them. That's one thing. Then at the end
of the day, you know, they have these elections coming

(01:46:29):
up that is a big step for them. They've just
put out a new social contract. They're really trying to
listen to some of the internal criticisms that they get
and really build up the civil, social political side of
their system. You know, there's a belief among many people
there that I've talked to that because of the existential
nature of these wars that they're fighting, they haven't been

(01:46:50):
able to really pursue the political elements of their revolution
to the degree that they want to. And they're trying
to do that now. They have this new social Contract.
It's an incredible document. You can read it. They're going
to hold municipal elections on May thirtieth, I believe is
the date that was announced. So any if you know
a lot about electoral systems, if you have done election

(01:47:13):
observation before, if you want to help them do that
right and get international attention for what it is that
they're doing. That's another way that people have been telling
me that you can help. And then finally, you know,
if you're here listening in the US, Airdwan is coming
to the White House on May ninth. According to reports
from Turkish and international media, there is going to be

(01:47:37):
a demonstration. There will probably be a lot of campaigns
around that demonstration as well, on things like conditioning and
ending arm sales and security assistants on calls for peace,
on calls for the US to end its support for
and enablement of Turkey's occupation of Iraq and Syria. It's

(01:47:58):
repression of its Kurdish people at home, and so anything
that you can do to join those actions in those
campaigns would be very helpful. You know, this is going
to be an opportunity to let both Airdowan and the
White House hear what the American people think about US
support for what the Turkish government is doing. So be there,

(01:48:18):
get involved. That's one way that we can, you know,
make our voices heard and try to push for a
change in policy.

Speaker 8 (01:48:25):
Yeah, I think it's great. I think people should like
if you want an example of I guess the US complicity.
Like while I was in Kurdistan, there was a bombing
that killed thirty nine SIH like internal security forces, and
that was like a plane that your tax dolars if
you live in the US, developed, right, like an F
sixteen with munitions, so you probably sold to them, and

(01:48:49):
the US is selling has sold more F sixteen since then, right, yes, Yeah,
So like that is a thing that we could stop,
and that would concretely stop. Like I spoke to a
mother who lost her son. He was a little I
think it was like fourteen fifteen, a little football player.
They had pictures of him all over the house, right, Like,
it was really heartbreaking stuff. And I know that this

(01:49:10):
happens a lot in other parts of the world. I'm
not saying that's not important too, but yeah, it's it's
always hard to talk to parents who have lost their kids,
and you can stop that happening. Like, if we don't
sell them the f sixteens that do that, then they
don't have the ability to do it, at least not
as much.

Speaker 9 (01:49:25):
And this is one way that we can connect struggles
and causes as well, because it's all the same companies
that are providing equipment to all of these states that
are doing this. You know, the targets are the same
for these kinds of campaigns. And look, you know, all
of these governments, all of these corporations, they know that
they're on the same side. We don't always know that

(01:49:46):
we're on the same side too, And so I think
that getting together and pointing out the patterns and standing
against you know, these arm sales and security assistants in
the context of Kurdistan, alongside many other contexts where they're
also very destructive is an important way that we can
sort of amplify our efforts to do that.

Speaker 8 (01:50:05):
Yeah, yeah, I think that's a very good, very good point.
Like I live in San Diego. Almost every single bomb
that has fallen on Palestine and many of the water
full on Kurdistan. Have you know the company that sold
that has an office here, Like if they're the places
where you can apply pressure in places where you can
hopefully make a change, Megan, where can people you mentioned

(01:50:27):
like emailing you? Where can people find you? How can
people keep up to date with what's happening in Kurdistan?

Speaker 9 (01:50:32):
Yeah, of course. So you can go to Kurdishpeace dot org.
That's the website of our institute. If you go to
our about page, my contact is on there. You can
always reach out to me whether you have a question
about Kurdistan, you want to read our research and analysis.
You know you're a journalist or an analyst and you
want to submit something yourself. We can help you there.

(01:50:53):
We're also on Twitter at Kurdish Peace Org. And yeah,
that's a great way for you to follow. In the
English language. If you're looking for resources on the ground,
you can follow North Press Agency which publishes in English,
the Rojeva Information Center, which publishes in English. And then
you know, get involved with your local Kurdish community in

(01:51:13):
a lot of major cities in the US. If you're
in New York, if you're in Boston, if you're in
the DMV area, if you're in California, like you know,
there are active Kurdish communities, and you know, go to
a cultural event, go to a demonstration, you'll find both
great ways to get connected and really get plugged into
solidarity efforts. But also you know, a wonderful community and

(01:51:36):
a wonderful culture that I think, you know, anyone would be.
I've certainly been, you know, very happy to have experienced.

Speaker 8 (01:51:44):
So yeah, likewise, yeah, great, Thank you so much, Megan,
that was great.

Speaker 9 (01:51:50):
Thank you.

Speaker 5 (01:52:04):
Welcome to Dick It Happen Here, a podcast coming to
you from a week where decades are happening. I'm your host.
Nia Long with me is James Stout.

Speaker 8 (01:52:12):
Hi, man, I'm great to be here.

Speaker 5 (01:52:14):
And also with us as Talia Jane an independent journalist
covering social movements and protests who is currently covering the
Gazza solidarity encampments at Columbia University. Talia welcome to the show.

Speaker 1 (01:52:25):
Thanks for having me, guys.

Speaker 8 (01:52:28):
Yay, thanks for doing us.

Speaker 1 (01:52:30):
Hell yeah, yeah.

Speaker 5 (01:52:31):
So I'm excited. I'm excited to talk about the Columbia occupation.
I also want to briefly mention that there are a
lot of there's been a wave of occupations of campuses
across the country just right now. This is being recorded
on Wednesday night. By the time this goes up on
like Friday, a lot of the stuff we're going to
be saying is probably going to be at a date

(01:52:52):
because everything's moving really quickly. But I mean there's occupations obviously,
like Columbia. There's like CSU, Humblet, University of Texas at Austin,
Ohio State, Harvard, Yale, Berkeley, some university in Italy, Emerson, Tuft's, MIT,
NYU City, University of New York, the New Schools, University
of Rochester, University of Pittsburgh, USC, University of Minnesota, University
of Michigan, Vanderbilt, UNC, Chapel Hill. I mean, there's so

(01:53:16):
many of these. By the time that this goes up,
there will be more of them. Yeah, it's been wild,
there's been a lot of I mean at Humboldt, there
was a lot of very intense fighting with the police.
A bunch of kids occupied a building. They beat the
shit while Okay, that's going a bit too far, but
they barricaded it, kept the cops from coming in, cops

(01:53:36):
ran off of campus. So, lots of incredibly wild stuff happening. Yeah,
which I guess brings us to the Gauza. The I
guess the original one, the first one. They got a
lot of media attention, the Gauza Solidarity acampment at Columbia.

Speaker 4 (01:53:52):
Yeah.

Speaker 5 (01:53:52):
So, Telly, I wanted to ask you, so, how did
this sort of start and what's kind of been making
it different from the really pretty large number of other
free Palestine anti genocide protests that have been on campuses
and off campuses for the past like time, Yeah, six
seven months.

Speaker 10 (01:54:11):
Yeah, Well, I think the genesis of this was that
Columbia University, as we've seen in universities across the country,
suspended a number of pro Palestine advocacy student groups. They
were very slow to move their feet about targeted attacks
against students who were demonstrating for Palestine, including an incident

(01:54:35):
where someone was allegedly sprayed with a chemical irritant or
people were sprayed with a chemical irritant by former IOF
soldiers who are also students here, and just this, you know,
building tension of there is a actual genocide occurring, and

(01:54:55):
universities are being forced to and towards the people committing
the genocide instead of standing on the right side of history,
or they're actively choosing to do that too, because their
whole thing is not about actually educating people and preparing
them to be tomorrow's leaders and managers or baristas, but

(01:55:19):
to get people, you know, to give them money to
fill their coffers and portray this image of you know,
exceptionalism and elitism and whatnot.

Speaker 1 (01:55:32):
So that was the genesis.

Speaker 10 (01:55:34):
And then on Tuesday night I got a text at
like eleven pm, I want to say, asking me if
I wanted to come cover a late night slash early
morning de occupation demo. And this was from someone I'd
never talked to before. I had no idea who it was,
but they said it was a Columbia and they said

(01:55:55):
it was late night, early morning. I thought I'd be
out of here at you know, ten am the next day,
and then you know, standing there witnessing it all unfold,
it became pretty evident that that was not the case.
And I think the reason why this stands out is
because this is an elite university where you can't say, oh, well,

(01:56:16):
these are just dumb TikTok kids. These are kids who
have like the these are like adults who have you know,
they have incredible resumes, really high academic excellence. They got
into an extremely difficult school to get into, and they
are joining the ranks of the you know, frazzled fringe,

(01:56:38):
stinky anarchists and the silly kids who are being brainwashed
by TikTok. And they said like, no, those people are right,
like this is bad and you need to disclose and
divest and we're not going to stop until you do.
And I think that that stance from a position of
privilege really shook things up. What followed also set a

(01:57:05):
tone of the university deciding to call the police and
claiming that this encampment was it posed a clear and
present danger to the safety of students on campus, which,
you know, anyone who has spent any length of time
in or around the encampment can plainly see that that

(01:57:26):
is nonsensical.

Speaker 1 (01:57:27):
It's absurd.

Speaker 10 (01:57:28):
These are kids that are studying on a lawn, but
that choice of bringing the NYPD in and having one
hundred and eight students arrested by the NYPD Strategic Response Group,
which is their you know, counter terrorism goon squad that
violently represses protests pretty consistently, to have them arrest one
hundred nate people, including carrying them out from by their

(01:57:49):
arms and lengths and arresting legal observers.

Speaker 1 (01:57:52):
You know that that was like.

Speaker 10 (01:57:55):
This is that it was an outsized response for something
that was pretty straightforward.

Speaker 1 (01:57:59):
There hanging out on a lawn.

Speaker 10 (01:58:01):
They have everything set up to sustain within that space.
They are not going out and roaming around and you know,
breaking things or assaulting people or anything like that. And
they're just using this to call attention to their cause,
which is divestment from genocide and from you know, war profiteering,
and to and the school's gentrification of Harlem, and to

(01:58:27):
you know, at institute, an academic boycott of Israel and
Israeli campuses that are in community with Colombia, like their
satellite schools that bring the IOF soldiers to Colombia to
commit harm against students here. And you know, so these
are these are very basic asks and they were met

(01:58:48):
with state force signed off by the president of the school,
and seeing that, I think is what provoked a lot
of other schools of like, well, if Columbia's doing it,
than we definitely got to because you have a major
elite institution taking this step, making clear that this is
not just a cause that you know, the scrappy little

(01:59:12):
weirdos at the bottom like me care about, you know.
And so I think that's what set it off. And
the fact that they returned they just took over the
other lawn while while their classmates were being processed after
being arrested. They just took over the other lawn and

(01:59:33):
they're like, all right, we're going to set it up
here was such a hilariously like based move that it
was like the defiance and the determination was undeniable. And
when you see a group like with the students at Humboldt,
where the cops with the riot shields are trying to

(01:59:54):
barge in and they're pushing them back and they're screaming
get the fuck out, and they're bonking them over the
head with the empty water jug, when you see things
like that, Yeah, when you see things like that, it's
very like there is an energy to this that has
always been there, but that has not been very easily
seen by the masses, and we're now seeing it show

(02:00:20):
its head of like, no, we're not fucking around, like
you need to listen to us.

Speaker 1 (02:00:24):
We're tired of the song and.

Speaker 10 (02:00:26):
Dance game that you're doing, dismissing all of our valid concerns,
because we know concretely and statistically that we are on
the right side of history, and we're going to make
you listen and trust that if you beat us up,
we're coming back, like we're not going away. It doesn't
scare us, which is what the kids at a UT

(02:00:47):
Austin were chanting I think when they brought the horses
in the state troopers in.

Speaker 1 (02:00:52):
It's like, we're not scared of you.

Speaker 10 (02:00:54):
And that tone has permeated throughout the demonstrations for Palaestinian
liberation since in prior to October. But if you don't
follow the protests, or if you only go by what
the major news outlets are saying about them, you don't
see that tone. So this, for me is not surprising.

(02:01:14):
This is a continuation of an energy that has not
ceased for upwards of six months. I think it's the
two hundred and first day of the genocide. So it's
not surprising for people who've paid attention. It's a relief
for kids who are here and who have been involved,
and who have been silenced and ignored and written off

(02:01:36):
this whole time.

Speaker 1 (02:01:38):
It's a very long answer.

Speaker 5 (02:01:39):
I now that's a.

Speaker 8 (02:01:40):
Good one, though. I think it's a It's great to
have your perspective if someone who's been on the ground.
One thing I wanted to ask is, like, obviously this
is a protest that its core is about state violence,
and it has predictably enough been responded to with state violence.
And like you said that people were generally not weighed

(02:02:00):
by that. I wonder if you've seen people who kind
of had the opposite reaction, Like I kind of remember
the student protests that I had been involved in. I'm
just going to say that, and I can remember like
the reaction by students when seeing that fellow students being
assaulted by the police was like, Okay, fuck this, Like
you know, like Georgio Wah has this thing about like

(02:02:22):
when I see a real flesh and blud worker of
fighting is natural. Letting me the policeman. I don't have
to ask myself what side I'm on, did you find
the same thing with students where they were like, okay,
I wasn't out here, And now I've seen the way
the university and the cops have responded to this, and
now I'm coming out because it's not okay.

Speaker 10 (02:02:39):
The encampment went up Wednesday and it was forcibly removed
with arrests on Thursday, I think, or was it Friday.

Speaker 1 (02:02:49):
I don't remember. It was a long time ago. For me.

Speaker 8 (02:02:53):
It's fine, But.

Speaker 10 (02:02:55):
Prior to the encampment being taken down, the possibility of
it provoked a significant response from the student body here
at Columbia to show up and rally around the encampment
all night. They did this march, this daisy chain where
they were chanting. The more you try to silence us,

(02:03:18):
the louder we will be and disclose, divest, We will
not stop. We will not rest all night around the
encampment to keep it safe and to show that they
had larger support beyond the students who chose to stay
on the lawn at risk of being arrested. After they
were arrested, more students came onto the other lawn and
have continued to occupy that second lawn so absolutely it

(02:03:42):
was a strissand effect.

Speaker 1 (02:03:43):
They tried to shut.

Speaker 10 (02:03:44):
It down, and it made people feel very strongly that
they need to show up and put themselves on the
line as well. And they also I think they saw
what I think it also showed them what the state
does and what the university does, and seeing it firsthand
eliminates a lot of the mystery that, you know, the

(02:04:05):
fear that can circulate of like the uncertainty of it.

Speaker 1 (02:04:09):
Seeing what it looks.

Speaker 10 (02:04:10):
Like, they're like, oh whatever, And now they're seeing, you know,
videos of protesters being brutalized on other campuses, and like
I heard so much told me last night they said
that they overheard someone like talking to another student on
the lawn and they were like, oh, so you a
jail support, Like, yes, you're there, Like it's it's this

(02:04:31):
sort of they're gonna they're gonna do what they're gonna do.
We don't care, like because these are the threat of violence.
Physical harm is a threat to cease whatever it is
that you're doing, of academic harm. These are things that
are trying to get you to stop doing what you're doing.
And when you know that they are being deployed as

(02:04:52):
tools and tactics. You're not gonna stop because they're not
scary to you.

Speaker 1 (02:04:56):
Well, what are you gonna do?

Speaker 10 (02:04:57):
You're gonna suspend me for joining in a historic protest?

Speaker 1 (02:05:02):
Okay, see if I care. You know, I think that's
the energy for a lot of students.

Speaker 5 (02:05:07):
Yeah, unfortunately we need to go to ads for a second,
but I don't know, skip them and we'll be back
in however long it takes you to press the forward
button like six times and we are back. So, something

(02:05:31):
I wanted to ask about. I've been seeing a lot
of stuff floating around about the negotiations that are happening
between the university and the students, and I want to
know what have you actually heard about these because the
statements that have been coming out don't seem to really
be matching anything else I've seen going on on the ground.

(02:05:52):
Do you know what's happening?

Speaker 10 (02:05:55):
So the university has taken a stance of this is
a clearing present day, it is disruptive, it is harmful,
et cetera. That's because it's impeding with them building stairs
and stadium seating for the commencement that's happening in a
couple of weeks. So you know, It's like that's that's

(02:06:16):
the clear and present danger is that it's costly for
them to have to wait to complete this this setup.
But my understanding is that the students are very much
holding their ground, very firm, and their their demands are
very reasonable. It's saying like, tell us where your money
comes from, so we can look into it and see

(02:06:37):
that you're keeping your nose clean. This isn't a difficult
to ask. I think if you ask to see my receipts,
I could jump to you. Although I'm not an elite university,
but I'm also not you know, profiting off of weapons manufacturing.
And so the university's stance is very much trying to

(02:06:59):
kind of spook them into quitting. And there was a
statement released by the president last night at four am
saying that the students made some concessions, two of which
were things that they're already doing. One of which was
an easy adjustment that's not a concession, which was just

(02:07:19):
making the camp more ada accessible and in compliance with
FDN Y regulations for fire safety, which I think would
be crazy if a fire broke out at this camp. Anyway,
I was a tangent. And then there was a thing
saying that they're going to be ending negotiations in forty

(02:07:42):
eight hours, and with the students reported out from those
negotiations at the time was at the university at around
midnight threatened to call in the National Guard and to
call in the NYPD, and that shut down negotiations. And
it was only after they put out these widespread calls
and thousands of people gathered on the lawn in support

(02:08:03):
of the encampment that that was changed and the university
agreed in writing to not call the YPD and to
not mobilized National Guard, which I don't think they have
the authority to do regardless, but it was this written
concession from the university, and their perspective of it was

(02:08:24):
that the students provided concessions. And I think it's kind
of it speaks to who each side is speaking to.
The students are speaking to the movement that they have
kind of shepherded into existence, and the university is speaking
to their donors and their trustees and the right wingers

(02:08:45):
who are having nuclear meltdowns on Twitter.

Speaker 5 (02:08:50):
That's something else I wanted to sort of ask about
because I it's kind of hard for me to a
sense of it, like, Okay, so Speaker of the House
Bike Johnson, who is a utterly deranged session Zionist.

Speaker 7 (02:09:04):
Yeah, like you mean the new Churchill mea godly real weirdo,
like anti evolution guy he's been, he said, He said that.

Speaker 5 (02:09:15):
Like he's going to go to Congress and call for
the National Guard deplay, which also doesn't make any sense
because Congress. I don't can't do it either. But I
think you're trying to get like the governor, but like,
what what do you think of the actual odds of
a National Guard to point? Because I've heard a lot
of talk about it and I can't gauge it at all.

Speaker 1 (02:09:32):
So Hochel has said.

Speaker 10 (02:09:34):
That that's not on the table, I believe, And there's
no interest from what I can tell of the actual
elected reps in calling in the National Guard. There's interest
from Eric Adams, who is a former cop and basically
still a cop, to use the NYPD, and the NYPD

(02:09:54):
has been very allergic to when the National Guard comes
out here because they want to be the ones skulls
and being in charge of brutalizing New Yorkers, and they
take a great offense when someone else comes in and
does it for them. So they wouldn't really be on
board with the National Guard mobilizing here either. The school
doesn't have the authority to do that. It's only the governor.

(02:10:15):
The governor hasn't made any indication, and Mike Johnson is
doing conservative stunt work. He was joined by Elie Staphonic,
who is a conservative, and you know she regularly disseminates
disinformation and inflammatory propaganda to demonize unhoused people, migrants, queer people,
so it's no surprise that they're you know, banging this drum,

(02:10:38):
which was also pushed by Shy davidy or however he
pronounce his name, who was an assistant professor here who
attempted to hold a rally in the center of the
Cause of Solidarity encampment with a slew of Zionists and
his ID card was deactivated and he found out in
real time in front of a bunch of cameras that

(02:11:00):
he called to come watch him. It was It's one
of those things that you witness in real time that
you feel like you're you're living in a movie. But
it was great, and he had a nuclear tantrum and
claimed that it was because he wasn't safe on campus
when he was told that his protest was not safe

(02:11:21):
for their students. So, you know, I think it's we're
seeing a lot of rhetoric and a lot of saber
rattling from the far right, from conservatives, from people who
have never had any kind of support for Palestinians or
for the cause of Palestinian liberation. You know, Mike Johnson
makes he receives over a quarter million dollars from APAC.

(02:11:44):
You know, these are these are not people whose statements
should be taken seriously in the context of what is possible,
what is reasonable, and what is you know, reality.

Speaker 1 (02:11:57):
To put it.

Speaker 8 (02:11:58):
Nicely, Yeah, yeah, I think a reason it's fascinating, like,
at least to me, Like I went to a fancy university,
you know, and engaged in plenty of including pro Palestine
actions when I was there. But a thing that I see,
like as a journalist now, is that the right wing
and wealthy folks generally seem to see that ivy league universities,

(02:12:18):
particularly in the US, is like their safe space. And
I think the reason that they're so mad at this
is that they feel like it's not just that it's happening,
it's where it's happening, and like that that's called them
to have these massive tantrums like you've reported on.

Speaker 10 (02:12:33):
Yeah, I mean, there's, there's, there's it's it's all hypocrisy
for them because on the one hand, these are liberal
universities who are ushering in an era of DEI and
purple hair and queer kids. And then on the other side,
these are sacred spaces of learning and higher education that
no one should have access to unless they're you know,
grandparents are in the Arian Brotherhood. So it's it's one

(02:12:55):
of those things where it kind of depends on the
day about how they feel about really elite campuses of
higher learning.

Speaker 1 (02:13:04):
But it doesn't matter either way. They don't care. They
don't actually care.

Speaker 10 (02:13:08):
They just hate the cause and will do anything they
can to bring it to a halt. But the DNA
of this cause is to keep going regardless of the
efforts to stop it.

Speaker 8 (02:13:23):
Right, And it wasn't so long ago that everyone was
up in arms, when I say everyone on the road
was up and arms about campus free speech, which is
something that seems have likely been forgotten in the last
couple of weeks. It's like that we've all seen videos
in Texas today right of the DPS and state troopers
and horses and bikes that live to misuse bikes. But yeah,

(02:13:43):
it's as I guess, the hypocoty is kind of the
point with those people.

Speaker 10 (02:13:49):
Yeah, I mean, like Mike Johnson made his speech today
on the steps of the Low Library. He was talking
about how you know there was a repression of free
speech on campus, but then in the same breath he
said that and that's why I want to call in
the National Guard to eliminate this protest. Their argument is
that this protest is inherently anti Semitic because it rejects

(02:14:09):
the state of Israel and the genocide and apartheid that
the state has been doing since its inception and prior
to its inception of the Palestinian people. And in the IHR,
in the IHR definition of anti semitism, it is any
criticism of the State of Israel, which would include people

(02:14:31):
who are living in Israel criticizing their own government, would
be labeled as anti Semitic. And they're trying to redefine
reality in real time by claiming that these students who
just don't want for mass death to be occurring and
they don't want their university to be responsible in facilitating

(02:14:51):
that are somehow anti Semitic. Meanwhile, a large number of
them are Jews themselves. Who you know they held satter
at the start of Passover.

Speaker 8 (02:15:04):
Yeah, I think, uh and maybe do you know bing one,
a photojournalist, Yeah, withual friend being being took this photo
which went viral on Twitter. I source in the New
York Times of a Jewish graduate student just like sitting
on a folding chat being like, now I'm fine, I
don't feel unsafe here.

Speaker 10 (02:15:19):
Oh yeah, I mean that's like, that's the thing is
that the people who feel quote unquote unsafe are also
the people who are known antagonizers of pro Palestine demonstrations.
These are the kids that bought like fart spray from
Amazon to spray on students who were demonstrating peacefully. These

(02:15:39):
are students who show up with giant flags outside of
Columbia University to antagonize people. They brought thick wooden poles
with flags fixed to them to a demonstration on Wall
Street the week prior to this encampment launching, and they
were antagonizing people. They were getting in, they were trying to,
you know, instigate arguments with people, and you know, they

(02:16:02):
were just kind of trying to incite, and then they
claim to be victims when people respond to their inciting behavior,
and it's very much like an abusive mentality that they have.
But in terms of like actual anti Semitism, all of that,
all of that rhetoric ends up being a distraction from
actual instances of anti Semitism. And the more that you

(02:16:24):
try to fuse the political ideology of Zionism with the
prejudice against Jewish people for being Jewish, the more you
try to fuse those together as one thing, like, you know,
fusing Jewish identity to Zionism, the more you see instances
of anti Semitism actually anti Semitism. So if anything, like

(02:16:44):
the students who are coming in cheering on Israel and
boasting about the murderers of you know, tens of thousands
of children, the starvations, and the displacements of millions of people,
the more that they do that, the more that that
teaches people like, oh, maybe all Jews are like that,

(02:17:06):
maybe all Jews are bad.

Speaker 1 (02:17:08):
And then I.

Speaker 10 (02:17:09):
End up getting DMS from people photoshopping my face into
an oven calling for my death when you know, I
don't give a fuck about the state of Israel. I
don't give a fuck about any states, you know, So
it's just it's one of those things like this is
like they are they are planting toxic seeds and then
flipping out when they sprout.

Speaker 8 (02:17:32):
Talking of toxic seeds, now is the time for some
marketing professionals to plant some toxic seeds in your mind
as we take our second advertising break. All right, well
we're back, hopefully. I haven't bought anything since we last spoke, Tylia.

(02:17:55):
I wanted to talk a little bit about a thing
that we've seen a lot. It's like this idea of
like the universe, and this happens at every protest movement
right like the state, the university, whatever, will seek to
appoint people leaders and allow them to negotiate on behalf
of everyone, even if those people have not consented to
be negotiated for, and then they'll use that to corupt

(02:18:17):
the movement, offer concessions that these particular people might want,
and in doing so kind of defang the original sort
of protest. Is that something that you've seen happening or
the university's tried to do to like divide people or
to kind of pull people out and appoint them as leaders.

Speaker 10 (02:18:35):
They've suspended the people that they believe to be primary
student organizers, but in terms of other divisions, they have
not been successful. These are students organizing with their classmates.
It's not possible for some outside group to infiltrate that
space because they are not students at this university. You know,

(02:18:56):
there's SJP chapters that students are members of in their schools,
but they are ultimately making the choices of what their
SJP chapter is doing, and you know a lot of
those SJP chapters have been suspended. So, you know, I
think in terms of the possibility of the university having

(02:19:16):
any sort of in to build some sort.

Speaker 1 (02:19:19):
Of op is very low.

Speaker 10 (02:19:22):
The solidarity that we're seeing is I don't think I've
seen levels of people on the same page and able
to organize. The literacy of it is just phenomenal. You know,
there's people who are just they're all very like clearly
knowledgeable about what it is that they're organizing for, what

(02:19:43):
the risks are, what the history of the movement is,
and they've spent a lot of time learning those things
to make sure that when they decide to take a
step forward, that they are doing so fully informed and
fully empowered and trying to break that down is something
that has not been successful. And we've seen that, you know,
time and time again. They have this chance. The more

(02:20:05):
you try to silence us, the louder we will be.
And it's true, and these institutions should probably start believing
it because it would save them a lot of trouble
by you know, trying to write this off is something
that you know, people don't know what they're doing or
you know, whatever it is, because they are they know everything,
They know everything. These are kids that all they do

(02:20:27):
is study, you know, like you're talking about huge nerds
joining into a massive, you know, decades long social movement.

Speaker 1 (02:20:38):
They've done the reading.

Speaker 8 (02:20:41):
Yeah, talking people who's done the reading. I wanted to
talk about like faculty because I know a lot of
people who are faculty at university's listened to this podcast,
and I'm sure they're interested in, like how faculty have
been in solidarity with students there, how they can be
in solidarity with their own students. So have you seen that?
Have you seen faculty up?

Speaker 4 (02:21:01):
Oh?

Speaker 10 (02:21:01):
Oh yeah, there was a massive faculty walk out the
other day between Barnard and Columbia faculty members. The schools
are kind of related. They're right across the street from
each other, and they have a lot of overlap. Barnard's
kind of under slightly under the university the Columbia umbrella,
but still has the un president and things like that.
And there was a huge faculty walk out from both

(02:21:24):
campuses that gathered on the Low the steps of the
Low Library, and it was easily hundreds I would say,
maybe like five hundred people and.

Speaker 1 (02:21:34):
That was it. That was it Columbia.

Speaker 10 (02:21:35):
And then at NYU, the students set up an encampment
and they were surrounded by faculty who had linked arms
as a as a dazy chain around the encampment to
protect the students. So we're seeing a very real, you know,
multi layer of solidarity emerging in these spaces. And I
think it's you know, even if the even if professors

(02:21:57):
and faculty don't necessarily wholly or wholly understand they're not
fully on the same wavelength as the student organizers, necessarily,
they're still showing up on the basis of like, these
students of the right to express their opinions and they
should not be getting met with severe academic or state

(02:22:18):
discipline for doing so. Because we've seen these same campuses
open their doors to people like Charlie Charlie Kirk and
Gavin McGinnis, and you know, like white supremacists and white
nationalists who are able to go on their campuses and
spread hate and you know, right going disinformation and try
and recruit people through their you know, young Republican school chapters.

(02:22:41):
Those chapters aren't being disbanded. You know, there's there isn't
an urgent rush to prevent the hosting of white nationalists
and white supremacists, and you know, people who are actually
politically and intense anti Semitic to an extreme, they're not

(02:23:03):
doing anything to actually like prevent those people from appearing
on campus. So I think that there's there's a lot
of layers to it, but there is a very strong
surge of faculty saying like, hey, this is this is
fucked up, and we're not We're not going to let
you think that this is just kids that you're picking on,
Like you're also attacking your own staff, who you know,

(02:23:24):
has a longer relationship to the university, has a you know,
as hard as it is as it is for these
kids to get into the school, it's harder to get
hired to work.

Speaker 1 (02:23:34):
Here, and so you know, we're seeing a lot of that.

Speaker 10 (02:23:37):
There's also security people who were put in charge of
evicting students from their rooms at Barnard.

Speaker 9 (02:23:44):
Because Barnard has chosen that students at Barnard.

Speaker 10 (02:23:48):
Participated in this demo, they weren't only going to be
suspended temporarily, but evicted from their housing, banned from campus,
unable to access any food or meal plans, whereas the
Columbia students have been suspended are still able to access
housing and meal plans, but they aren't allowed to go
to class or any campus events, which is fine because
the only one that's happening right now is the encampment.

(02:24:09):
But you know, there was there was a security person
who sent an email to the school at Barnard saying,
like I quit, Like this is this is inhumane, this
is undignified, this is crazy. You're giving these students fifteen
minutes to uproot themselves from their rooms. They might not
have another place to go. These you know, these might
be students who don't have a family's house.

Speaker 1 (02:24:33):
Nearby, or you know, or the funds or the.

Speaker 10 (02:24:36):
Means to live somewhere else and not worry about the
cost you're you know, destabilizing people's lives in a very
severe way. And this this you know, security person resigned.
They're like this is nuts. So I think there's there's
the fact that just the the overall what is of

(02:24:58):
how these universities responding has provided a type of solidarity.
And then there's also the fact that a lot of
people just generally understand that genocide is bad, and it's
gotten to a point where there's a lot of rhetoric
trying to obscure that and obfuskate like what is genocide?
And you know, Israel isroid truxs and all this other

(02:25:21):
like bullshit like propaganda and disinformation and you know, fear
mongering and all these things.

Speaker 1 (02:25:28):
And people can see very clearly what the game is.

Speaker 10 (02:25:31):
And so we're kind of at a pivotal moment for
just common reality and critical thinking.

Speaker 1 (02:25:37):
And I think that we're seeing a.

Speaker 10 (02:25:39):
Lot of people show that the efforts to alter what
our established common reality is is not working.

Speaker 5 (02:25:48):
And the Springs means is the thing I wanted to
close on, which is where do you see this going?

Speaker 10 (02:25:54):
Oh, I'm an need a minute on that one. I mean,
you know, we're at a very pivotal moment in history.
There's a lot of comparisons being made to protests against
the Vietnam War, and in those protests there was a
lot of state violence, a lot of state repression, but
there was also a lot of people willing to throw.

Speaker 1 (02:26:16):
Down in a very intense way. And you know, we're
already seeing.

Speaker 10 (02:26:23):
Levels to that that have very very strong parallels, you know,
with Lake Aaron Bushnell, which is also a story that
I ended up breaking, And you know, like, so this
is this is big, and I think that right now,
in the midst of it, it's hard to guess what's

(02:26:44):
going to happen two weeks from now or six months
from now. But I guarantee you we all know what's
going to happen fifty years from now. We're all going
to look at this fifty years from now and be like, Wow,
stay was on some dumb shit. Those protesters were right,
and it's good that they didn't stop totally.

Speaker 8 (02:27:03):
Yeah, I think that's a great place to end, Talia.
I wonder if you would like to let people know
where they can find you, where they can read your work,
how they can support your work.

Speaker 10 (02:27:12):
Sure, so I mostly report live on Twitter talia otg
as in on the ground, and you can support me
by signing up on Patreon for hopefully more than five
dollars a month. Those those small donations cover the entirety
of my living and survival and allow for me to

(02:27:34):
do this work for the past four years. So I'm
like incredibly grateful. You know, people can support on Patreon.
They can also if you just want to do like
a one time heard you on the pod loved it.
I have like a PayPal and a Venmo and all
that other shit on my Twitter account if people want
to send a couple couple bucks that way, and you know,

(02:27:56):
another way to support is send me tips if you
if you decide that you're gonna do something, feel free
to you know, email and bio.

Speaker 1 (02:28:07):
I always, I always want.

Speaker 8 (02:28:08):
To know send all your all your tips, especially if
you're at Columbia University. Anything else do you want to
plug or me or anything else need to do before
we go.

Speaker 1 (02:28:18):
I'm sorry that my voice sounds really like this.

Speaker 10 (02:28:23):
It's I don't think I've I haven't gotten a lot
of sleep, and I hope that everything I said was coherent,
even though I was just giving you essay after essay
after essay.

Speaker 8 (02:28:34):
It was fantastic. Thank you so much, Shatie.

Speaker 5 (02:28:37):
Thank you so much, and thank you guys. It's something
I could say from everyone. I could happen here, from
the river to the sea, Palestine will be free. Fuck him,
fuck him up, keep.

Speaker 8 (02:28:50):
Yeah, fucking get him.

Speaker 1 (02:28:54):
Hey.

Speaker 2 (02:28:55):
We'll be back Monday with more episodes every week from
now until we heat Death of the Universe.

Speaker 11 (02:29:00):
It could Happen Here as a production of cool Zone Media.
For more podcasts from cool Zone Media, visit our website
Coolzonemedia dot com, or check us out on the iHeartRadio app,
Apple Podcasts, or wherever you listen to podcasts. You can
find sources for It Could Happen Here, updated monthly at
Coolzonmedia dot com slash sources. Thanks for listening.

It Could Happen Here News

Advertise With Us

Follow Us On

Host

Robert Evans

Robert Evans

Show Links

About

Popular Podcasts

The Nikki Glaser Podcast

The Nikki Glaser Podcast

Every week comedian and infamous roaster Nikki Glaser provides a fun, fast-paced, and brutally honest look into current pop-culture and her own personal life.

Stuff You Should Know

Stuff You Should Know

If you've ever wanted to know about champagne, satanism, the Stonewall Uprising, chaos theory, LSD, El Nino, true crime and Rosa Parks, then look no further. Josh and Chuck have you covered.

Music, radio and podcasts, all free. Listen online or download the iHeart App.

Connect

© 2024 iHeartMedia, Inc.