16 December 2011

First, a World Revolution of Decolonization

The article that follows, written by anthropologist Jason Hickel, is a welcome critique of the shadows of Eurocentrism and the desire for middle-class privilege in the West as found in the "Occupy" movement. Hickel links these to the failure of the Occupy "movement" to exist as a phenomenon outside of North America and Europe, where it is predominantly located, and the neglect of critically important realities of the role of imperialism in developing and enforcing the middle-class lifestyles of the West. This is a constructive critique that adds to some of the previous articles reproduced on this site, such as "Decolonize Wall Street," and "Decolonizing the Occupations".

How to Occupy the World: A Call for True Internationalism

Dr. Jason Hickel

The leading tagline of the Occupy Wall Street movement reads: “Protest for World Revolution.” This is an ambitious claim, to be sure. And in most respects it seems to ring quite true: the movement has successfully taken root not only in cities and towns throughout the United States but also in major urban centers around the world. On October 15, Occupy Wall Street’s success inspired a broad wave of coordinated occupations across Europe. I was a founding participant in the one that began in London.

But the Occupy movement has been notably absent outside of North America and Europe. Not for want of trying, of course: in southern Africa, where I am originally from, small groups of committed activists tried to instigate occupations in a few key regional cities, but without much success. In South Africa, a society pided by violent inequalities that proceed directly from neoliberal policy, Occupy managed to attract only a few dozen souls – a poor showing for a country known for one of the highest protest rates in the world.

What accounts for the failure of Occupy to capture the imagination of the global South, which comprises precisely the people whose lives have been most brutally affected by the recent global financial crisis? And in what sense can Occupy claim to be a world revolution if it leaves out – and in some cases even alienates – the vast, non-white majority of humanity?

Occupy is “international” at the moment only inasmuch as it exists in many different countries at the same time. But each of the occupations is primarily concerned with particular local or national issues. For instance, Occupy Wall Street is focused on corporate personhood, the Glass-Steagall Act, and collateralized debt obligations, while Occupy London is worried about tuition hikes, preserving the National Health Service, and reversing Thatcher’s 1986 financial deregulation bonanza.

Yes, the occupations communicate, and yes, they stand in solidarity with one another. But they are not united around concerns that are recognizably global in scope.

True, Occupy protestors and their sympathizers have helped sound the alarm on issues of international concern like fossil fuels and climate change, as we saw recently at the COP17 meetings in Durban. But as it presently stands the Occupy agenda is rather provincial – even Eurocentric. Aside from its radical elements, most of the movement’s American and European supporters simply want to reclaim their rights to live decent, dignified, middle-class lives.

Western Affluence and the Global System
There’s nothing wrong with this aspiration, in and of itself. But middle-class affluence in the West depends on a system of extraction that produces and perpetuates tremendous poverty in the global South. This was true under European colonialism, when the gap between the richest and poorest countries increased from 3:1 to 35:1, and it obtains even more so in this era of neoliberal capitalism, during which – according to the Human Development Report – that gap has reached an unprecedented 74:1.

According to World Development Indicators, in 2005 the wealthiest 20 percent of the world’s population – a proportion that includes almost all of the Occupy protestors – accounted for 76.6 percent of total private consumption. The wealthy nations of Europe and North America have an inordinate degree of control over the world’s resources, which they command through international financial institutions like the World Bank, the IMF, and the World Trade Organization.

Occupy Wall Street correctly criticizes the fact that an increasing proportion of these spoils has gone to the top 1 percent of U.S. society since the mid-1970s. But it is not enough to want to redistribute that wealth back to middle-class Americans. Even if the Occupy movement does manage to fix the financial sector, stabilize the economy, and redress social inequality in the West, the violent, imperialist modes of accumulation will still remain in place.

The process of extraction from global “periphery” to global “core” is what sociologist Immanuel Wallerstein has called “the world-system.” Since the 1980s, one way of facilitating extraction within the world-system has been through “structural adjustment” loans from Western governments to post-colonial countries. Debts from these loans are leveraged to forcibly liberalize markets, privatize resources, cut social services, and curb labor and environmental regulations to create business opportunities for multinational companies and facilitate the flow of wealth to the West.

Western corporations realize huge profits by taking advantage of these policies. They, externalize the costs of production to the global South where they can get away without paying for the labor they exploit, the resources they extract, and the pollution they leave behind.

Forced liberalization has plunged poor countries into economic collapse, slashing average per capita income growth in half after 1980 and leading in some cases to negative rates. Economists estimate that poor countries have lost $480 billion per year as a result of structural adjustment, while multinational corporations have stolen as much as $1.17 trillion (from Africa alone!) through loopholes created by market deregulation since 1970. The upshot of this has been rising inequality, deepening poverty, and worsening health, mortality, and literacy rates in much of the global South.

Finding the Right Targets
Western affluence and the consumer lifestyles of the “99 percent” in the United States and Europe depend on the plunder of other places and other peoples. This is one of the reasons that people in the global South tend to feel alienated by Occupy. First of all, they don’t see why they should support a movement of Westerners who want to regain levels of affluence that depend at least in part on the extraction of their countries’ labor and resources. What’s more, the locus of the economic decisions that affect them is not ultimately their national governments, but the institutions in Washington, DC and Geneva that determine economic policy from afar; it doesn’t make much sense to occupy locally when the power lies elsewhere.

Occupy’s vision for world revolution will only catch on in the global South once the movement extends its purview to encompass these concerns and begins to challenge inequality between nations as much as within them.

We cannot rely on “development” to accomplish this. Not only does development serve as a fa├žade for the global extension of neoliberalism, it also rests on a purely absurd premise. The notion that everyone in the world should enjoy the equivalent of Western middle-class living standards ignores the fact that the planet simply does not contain enough resources for each person to consume as much as, say, the average American. Instead of “developing” the global South, we need to un-develop the West; we need to subvert and dismantle the flows of tribute that underpin Western affluence.

Occupy must realize that even huge wins at home will not necessarily translate into changes in the world-system or even changes in the U.S. role in it. Given that neoliberal capitalism is organized on a global scale, any real change will require a movement that is global in scope. Never has there been a better time to challenge the WTO, the World Bank, and the IMF’s policies on trade, debt, austerity, structural adjustment, resource extraction, and sweatshops.

Targeting these institutions is crucial because they determine Western access to labor and resources in the global South. The United States controls the levers of this system, since voting power in the World Bank and the IMF is apportioned according to each nation’s level of financial ownership. With about 17 percent of the shares, the United States has enough to single-handedly block major decisions, which require 85 percent of the vote.

At the WTO, market size determines bargaining power – so rich countries almost always get their way. On top of this, rich countries control key decisions by using exclusive “green room” meetings to circumvent the consensus process. If poor countries choose to disobey trade rules that hurt them, rich countries can retaliate by using the WTO’s courts to impose crushing sanctions.

Change in the world-system can only happen once these institutions are democratized and de-corporatized. This will require building alliances with the global justice movement and anti-globalization campaigns in postcolonial countries that have been working on these issues for decades (such as La Via Campesina, an organization of 200 million peasants worldwide). Neoliberalism was crushing people there long before it hit white, Euro-American youth.

Alliances with the Global South
Another reason that Occupy has not caught on outside the West is that the leaderless, consensus-based horizontalism that has made the movement so popular in North America and Europe doesn’t work as well where most people can’t network through the Internet. Instead of fetishizing this tactic for its own sake, we need to be pragmatic about reaching out to established parties, unions, and other institutions – even if hierarchical – that actually have the ability to organize the rallies that an international movement needs. We reject traditional tactics at our own peril.

It’s easy enough to explain why the global South hasn’t joined Occupy. But why should we care? First, because the extractive processes that underpin Euro-American affluence cannot be fully understood from within the “core.” Our goals need to be informed by conversations and alliances with activists in the global South. Second, because challenging these powerful and deeply entrenched interests will require serious pressure from all corners of the world-system. If we want to bring about “World Revolution,” we have to be able to mobilize the world.

Occupy might do well to glean a few lessons from the struggle against apartheid in South Africa. Like the world-system in microcosm, apartheid capitalism allowed a white minority to accumulate massive wealth by extracting cheap labor and resources from a non-white majority. A number of white people rejected this system and became key activists in the anti-apartheid movement. But their efforts would have come to naught without their African counterparts, who mobilized mass resistance by going door-to-door in the townships, building the capacity for the strikes and boycotts that brought the apartheid state to its knees.

A truly global movement is not out of reach. Indeed, it has never been more possible than it is today. This is our opportunity to occupy the world. We dare not miss it.

Dr. Jason Hickel teaches at the London School of EconomicsDepartment of Anthropology.

08 December 2011

In the News: Militarized Academia, Human Terrain System

"Mapping the Human Terrain"
The following is a list of articles and key extracts that deal specifically with the U.S. Army's Human Terrain System, and more broadly with "human terrain" applications of social sciences to military missions. The larger phenomenon of interest to AJP has to do with the militarization of academia. Emphases in bold have been added.

The reports cover areas that include news that a social scientist in Human Terrain Analysis assisted in interrogations, as may have one belonging to the Human Terrain System, even while the program officially insisted it was not involved with "intelligence" gathering; related to the last point, we also learn about Eric Rotzoll, former CIA, also involved with HTS; we learn about the further development of human terrain mapping technologies; in addition we read about the use of HTS data that is uploaded to databases which are then used to create extensive, detailed simulations of actual Afghan villages; we have more notes on military funding for university research aligned with national security goals, and counterinsurgency; we catch glimpses of retired military professionals joining the private sector, and boasting in part about their "human terrain" expertise; we see more discussion on anthropology as a "useful" and "practical" discipline to the powerful; and, lastly, a few funny and even bizarre videos about the Human Terrain System.


Counterinsurgency Adviser to Speak at VMI
Dec. 5, 2011
Dr. Martin Scott Catino, a counterinsurgency adviser and specialist in U.S. foreign and security policy, will speak at Virginia Military Institute Wednesday, Dec. 7. The talk, “Counterinsurgency and Culture: A Report from Afghanistan,”....Currently a counterinsurgency adviser for DevelopMental Labs Inc., Catino has served in the United States, Iraq, and Afghanistan in intelligence, supervisory, and advising posts for the U.S. government. In 2009-2010, during Operation Iraqi Freedom, he served as the deputy team leader and lead social scientist of the Human Terrain Analysis Team at Multi-National Division-South, Basra, Iraq. This past year, in Operation Enduring Freedom, he worked as the acting senior intelligence officer for a Defense Intelligence Agency unit at Camp Julien, Kabul, Afghanistan. This past spring he was embedded with a platoon of the 34th Infantry Division conducting operations in Kabul province.
CSTs face combat to ‘give Afghan women a voice’: Danger often lurks for female Cultural Support Teams
Army Times, Friday Dec 2, 2011
By John Ryan
...a new program that selects and trains female soldiers to embed with special operations teams across Afghanistan to cultivate relationships with local women and children, who make up about 70 percent of the population....The program is designed to assist counterinsurgency operations by tapping into a reservoir of female voices that have largely gone unheard because of local customs that frown upon American men and Afghan women interacting....Baldwin assessed schools and health clinics, facilitated meetings between village elders and nongovernmental organizations and participated in three women’s shuras From those meetings, she discovered many women wanted to learn how to read and write or sew. She was able to map “the human terrain,” like piecing together family trees, from her interactions with the Afghan women.
Defunct War Strategy Program May Still Overshadow University of Wisconsin-Madison's History of Dissent
Truthout, November 29, 2011
By Steve Horn and Allen Ruff
...Eric Rotzoll, a military man with intelligence community connections. As a deputy commander of a "provincial reconstruction team" (PRT) in Zabul Province, Afghanistan in 2004 and 2005, he planned and led civil affairs operations in support of counterinsurgency in the region. From 2006 to 2010, he worked as an "all source analyst" for Defense Department intelligence subcontractor Northrop Grumman. Still with the military at that time, he also served from July 2008 to July 2009 as a Human Terrain Team (HTT) leader in Afghanistan. The HTTs, ostensibly comprising privately contracted civilian anthropologists and other social scientists, have been assigned to each Army brigade in Iraq and Afghanistan since late 2005. Armed on patrol, such "academic embeds" have worked to provide cultural and social "human intelligence," or "Humint," on various "locals" as part of the counterinsurgency effort in both countries. In January, 2009, an embedded journalist moving with an HTT unit on the ground in Afghanistan identified Rotzoll as "the man in charge" and "a former analyst for the CIA...." No mere enlisted man, but an academically trained intelligence warrior, Rotzoll apparently brought a particular added expertise to the "Grand Strategy Workshop." His name also subsequently appeared on the UW JASONs roster for 2009-2010, his affiliation listed simply as "US Army."
Afghanistan: What the Anthropologists Say
The New York Times, November 18, 2011
By Alexander Star
As in Iraq, the United States military has responded to bad news with counterinsurgency: eliminate troublemakers in the dark of night, with the most lethal arts, and befriend tribal elders by day, with cultural sensitivity and expertise. The Army has gone so far as to embed credentialed social scientists with front-line troops in “Human Terrain Teams” that engage in “rapid ethnographic assessment” — conducting interviews and administering surveys, learning about land disputes, social networks and how to “operationalize” the Pashtun tribal code. The military, in short, demands local knowledge. But what kind of local knowledge is in supply, and what does it indicate? Though the chief purveyors of such insight, academic ethnographers, have balked at working with the military — the American Anthropological Association issued a report condemning the Human Terrain program as a violation of professional ethics — they have not ignored the country.
Morgan State wins $1.8M grant to start national security program
Monday, November 14, 2011
Alexander Jackson - Baltimore Business Journal
Morgan State University has been selected to receive a five-year, $1.8 million federal grant to begin a degree program in national security. The Office of the Director of National Intelligence's Intelligence Community Centers of Academic Excellence Program chose Morgan and the University of South Florida to be awarded with grants to establish programs in National Security Studies. The National Security Studies program will be aimed at honing skills needed in the intelligence community such as international relations, foreign language and cultural immersion, scientific and technical programs of study, including cyber security....Under its five-year grant deal, Morgan will establish a consortium of historically black schools in Maryland, Virginia and North Carolina to do research in human terrain systems and bio-systems with specific applications to South Asian countries such as Afghanistan, India, Bangladesh, Nepal and Pakistan. The National Security Studies Program was established during 2005 in response to the nation's increasing need for professionals in the intelligence community who are educated and trained with the unique knowledge, skills and capabilities to carry out America's national security objectives.
Tuesday, November 08, 2011 
By Mike Kelley
For decades, the Army's Aviation and Missile Command, Space and Missile Defense Command, NASA, and other institutions have turned to UAH [University of Alabama, Hunstville] in the search for solutions to complex technical issues. But Horack [Dr. John Horack, UAH Vice President for Research] thinks there is an element they're missing. The Department of Defense, he says, is "transforming in ways that aren't fully predictable," facing new threats in a highly-charged political environment and constrained budget situation. And while the military has always looked to America's universities for help in solving complex technical issues, Horack thinks they should also look for help with what he terms "the human terrain." University faculty, he says, can take a fresh look at problems and issues, and bring insights and perspectives to problems facing America's military planners. "There is a need for improved socio-economic awareness. But there is no place to go on the GSA schedule to get this type of information." The military, he says, have underutilized America's universities, failing to get from them vital information that could aid strategy and operations in missions around the globe. "We're not using university muscle as well as we could," he says. 
Interrogation is not a social science 
Financial Times, November 4, 2011
By Gillian Tett
....when the anthropology “tribe” assembles this year, it will have a new topic to discuss: its links with “power” – or, at least, the US military. Last month, the AAA posted an article from Nature on its website that claimed that the US military has been employing the services of anthropologists in Afghanistan to improve its data-gathering techniques. In particular, during the past five years, it has apparently run so-called “human terrain analysis” programmes, to make its Afghan operations more culturally sensitive....But what has made this latest revelation so controversial is that Julia Bowers, the anthropologist named by Nature, was not just writing tomes about Afghan marriage rituals, she was aiding interrogations too. Or as Nature reported her telling a conference: “Typically human-terrain analysis is more of a human data-gathering and mapping approach…” but cultural expertise was “key in the support I was providing to the interrogator to develop a relationship with the detainee”. While, crucially, it is unclear how widespread this practice might be, the revelation has reawakened the debate about just how far social scientists should allow themselves to aid the elite....“Advising people on how to extract information from people who don’t want information extracted, that is the antithesis of what the anthropological encounter is supposed to look like,” Hugh Gusterson, a network leader, has observed. But the pressures will not die away soon; not when budgets are being cut, jobs are scarce and governments (and corporations) are desperate to get better information about culture. To put it another way, precisely because anthropologists are good at analysing cultures and power structures, their research is of interest to people in… er… power. It is a bitter irony; even – or especially – in Afghanistan.
Neah Appoints Colonel Lamont Woody as Defense Advisor to the Board of Directors
Market Watch, October 26, 2011
NEAH Power Systems, Inc. announced today it has appointed Col. Lamont Woody, US Army (Retired), most recently a principal of the Laconia Group, as its defense advisor to its Board of Directors. In this role, Col. Woody will advise the company in international defense and government relations and various potential collaboration, partnership and business development opportunities....Col. Woody [in his military career] also implemented human terrain, social networking systems, and law enforcement systems and programs.
Strategic Paradigms » Blog Archive Perspectives on the C4ISR Conference – October 2011
October 28, 2011
By Ehsan Arari
Even the panel on the Human Terrain System (HTS) – a topic of great interest and personal involvement for me – was too tactical in its focus....My own take as an outsider (i.e., a person who does not tow any party line) is that our Achilles heel related to intelligence is the ever-growing complexity of our Intel bureaucracy and the mountainous nature of Intel data. We collect a lot, but have no clue as to what to do with it. I heard the evidence of that during the panel on HTS.
GEOINT 2011 summary | Open Geography
October 24, 2011
The panel (video link) speculated on socio-cultural intelligence as a new facet of intelligence, ie SOCINT. Sharon Hamilton provided a lot of information about the HTS (now over 40 in total, with 31 teams in Afghanistan). It has now been given permanent funding (rather than through Supplementals). She said they use the NGA 12 human geography standards of data to make a baseline dataset (video 1:49’50″), and that 55% of their products are unclassified at the moment. Hamilton claimed that HTS does not have to “convince” the social science community (of the value of HTS) because they (the Army) fill their HTS classes (video at 1:34’00″). You can take that statement with a pinch of salt, no doubt.
New Mission for Military’s ‘Human Terrain’ Experts: Interrogation
Wired, October 19, 2011
By Sharon Weinberger
Cultural expertise was “key in the support I was providing to the interrogator to develop a relationship with the detainee”, said Julia Bowers, principal senior analyst for human terrain at SCIA, a company based in Tampa, Florida, that provides socio-cultural services for the military and intelligence community....Bowers worked with the U.S. Central Command’s human terrain analysis branch, which is separate from the Army’s Human Terrain System (HTS), a better known program that embeds social scientists in combat units. Both, however, are designed to provide the military with better cultural understanding and expertise....The interesting question is whether anyone associated with the HTS, which has been dogged with controversy over its five year existence, has been involved with interrogations. An internal memo — dated March 16, 2009 and signed by then-HTS program manager retired Col. Steve Fondacaro — notes that “HTS does not have DoD [Department of Defense] approval to conduct interrogation operations.” “HTS personnel are not trained and certified in interrogation methodology and as a result will not conduct interrogations,” the memo continues. Nevertheless, one former employee me that this is precisely what appears to have happened in 2009; but when the employee complained to the program’s senior leadership, they did nothing. When asked about this, Fondacaro replied in an email that “all the units we supported ran interrogations, just like they ran mess halls, vehicle maintenance, medical support ops, civil affairs etc. and HTS supported the unit.”....“Our team members may have been asked to help or advise in any or all of these areas where it related to greater insight and understanding of the population,” he told Nature. “But it did not result in any of these operation becoming core mission capabilities HTS focused upon.”
Pentagon Cultural Analyst Helped Interrogate Detainees in Afghanistan: 'Experiment' raises alarm among social scientists.
Scientific American, October 18, 2011
By Sharon Weinberger of Nature magazine
So far, the HTS has been involved in interrogations in just one experiment. A former employee of the HTS, who asked not to be identified, says that they learned in 2009 that HTS personnel were involved at one point in interrogations in Afghanistan. "I sent it up the chain at Fort Leavenworth; they knew about it," the employee says. "It struck me as blatantly unethical. I didn't want anything to with it." The employee, who describes the work as "the exact opposite of what the program says it is", left the HTS shortly after voicing their concerns. Retired Army Col. Steve Fondacaro, who headed HTS until he was ousted in a management shakeup last year notes that all the units that HTS teams support are involved in interrogations.
First They Came for the Anthropologists
The Atlantic, October 12, 2011
By Edward Tenner
The real irony of Governor Scott's remarks [about anthropology being an impractical degree area that is not useful for finding employment] is that anthropology can be so practical that it even makes many anthropologists uneasy, as in the Defense Department's Human Terrain Program, condemned as unethical by a commission of the American Anthropological Association (AAA) in 2009. 
ISEBOX Fuses Geospatial Data: New Methods of Human Terrain Analysis
Imaging Notes Magazine, Fall 2011, Volume 26 Number 4
By By Abe Usher, CTO and Altaf Bahora, Vice President The HumanGeo Group
To enable the military to fuse together the data at its disposal and make better decisions, faster, the HumanGeo Group developed ISEBOX (Integrated Socio-Cultural Environment for Behavior Observation Exploitation), a geospatial threat-forecasting application that allows data with different spatial resolutions to be intermixed while preserving the original data. ISEBOX identifies friendly forces, trends, geo-political activity, and threat indicators to provide operations planners with critical access to data required to perform Intelligence Preparation of the Battlefield (IPB). ISEBOX uses variable precision data encodings of location to facilitate non-obvious pattern detection and predictive analysis in the geospatial domain....ISEBOX ingests the widest range of open sources of geospatial data (such as social media, civilian government sources, NGO data, and community-driven data collections) and provides a means of combining the sources to enable analysts to detect non-obvious patterns in the data in order to “tip and cue” planners, collectors, and analysts to points on the ground defined by geography, time, function, and analytic discipline.
Knowing the enemy, one avatar at a time: As military crafts virtual Afghan villages, some scientists raise ethical concerns
The Boston Globe, May 30, 2010
By Farah Stockman
The villagers are bits of software code, and the Americans who “visit’’ are players in a videogame-like program designed not only for training purposes but for intelligence analysis. The program, which loosely resembles the game SimCity, is part of a US government effort to develop sophisticated computer models of real Afghan villages — complete with virtual people based on actual inhabitants — in an attempt to predict their reaction to US raids and humanitarian aid. The project, spearheaded by a University of Pennsylvania engineer at the behest of an undisclosed US government agency, straddles the line between research and intelligence as part of a wider US effort to design software capable of forecasting human behavior in war zones. This type of research, often referred to as “human terrain mapping,’’ has attracted increased funding in recent years from US military planners who believe it will become a crucial tool for combating terrorism and insurgencies....“Are we going to detain someone if a computer predicts that he will become an insurgent?’’ asked Hugh Gusterson, an anthropologist at George Mason University. “The real danger of models is their seductiveness. They can be so realistic and powerful that it is easy to forget they are just a model, and they start to rely on them more and more.’’ The concerns were so great that the US Department of Energy, which controls the national laboratories that own some of the most sophisticated computers in the country, has pushed back against recent efforts to enlist its scientists in the work. Citing uncertainty about how the military will use this research, Energy Secretary Steven Chu issued a memo late last year barring employees from working with data about individuals, citing fears that it could violate a federal law mandating that human research subjects never be harmed. “The lack of full disclosure of the purpose and the potential repercussions to subjects recruited for participation . . . undermines any . . . ability to review such work against federal requirements for the protection of human research volunteers,’’ Chu wrote in December. The project also adds fuel to an ongoing debate over whether social scientists should ply their trade for the military, since some virtual villages are created using surveys taken by embedded social scientists known as human terrain teams....Silverman believes that one day, the whole of southern Afghanistan will be recreated in a vast computer model....Shortly after the human terrain teams were launched in 2005, the Marines paid Silverman to study what could be done with data they had collected. He published a paper arguing that it should be fed into simulators to help forecast events. Since then, the human terrain teams have shifted their data collection methods from open-ended reports toward more rigid questionnaires that can easily be uploaded into a database, according to former terrain team members. John Allison, an anthropologist who began training as a team member last November but has since resigned, said the teams were taught to upload the data into a classified Pentagon database known as SIPRNet, where is it distributed to a host of US agencies, some of whom pass it on to analysts like Silverman. Steve Fondacaro, the project manager for the Army’s human terrain system that oversees the data-collection teams, said the information is primarily used by commanders on the ground to design effective development projects. He said the data are not used to harm anyone. But he also acknowledged that he does not know what other agencies do with the information. “I don’t spend a lot of time tracking down what the government people are doing with the data that we access on the ground,’’ he said, adding that he did not know about Silverman’s project.

The University of Hawaii at Manoa and its Department of Anthropology plays host to the U.S. Army's Human Terrain System, and in particlar its own graduate, Dr. Christopher A. King, social science director for HTS (as King's presentation slides show [see slide 6], that Department produced five of HTS' anthropologists). Apparently, Dr. King is happier with this version of his presentation, as it has not been censored or deleted, as happened recently. Dr. King makes less than credible assertions in taking questions from the audience, toward the end, that HTS staff have total control over their information--please review the article extracts above for contrary evidence. He has also fails to address how a current HTS trainer, former intelligence analyst and former team member in Afghanistan, pilfered confidential fieldnotes and passed them on to military intelligence, as evidenced in the WikiLeaks releases.

And finally, on an utterly bizarre note, what appears to be an insider's video of a HTS graduation ceremony:

04 December 2011

Decolonizing the Occupations

In line with our previous report on "Decolonize Wall Street," from an American Indian perspective, we present the following commentary, from an African-American perspective:

White privilege, the legacy of 500 years of European military and economic suppression of the rest of the planet, is manifest even in movements that purport to be transformational, like Occupy Wall Street. Beneath the politics of economic reordering lie notions that the “new” and overwhelmingly white movement somehow supersedes the centuries-old aspirations of Europe’s primary victims.
Decolonizing Our Occupations A Black Agenda Radio commentary by editor and columnist Jared Ball 
“Radical voices from the world’s majority are simply not welcomed even in spaces that each previously occupied.” 
In two different settings and for two different reasons both the All Peoples Revolutionary Front and The Cornel West Theory made similar statements in response to this international moment of occupations. The APRF, from their perspective in San Diego and CWT from theirs, this week in Amsterdam, both spoke to still powerful blind spots which often prevent real coalition building. In each instance Black and Brown voices pierced a few White bubbles to at least momentarily address an important reality – the experiences and history of the world’s majority is often suppressed beneath the organized whims of a much smaller and Whiter minority. 

As their show this week in Amsterdam was wrapping up Cornel West Theory front man Tim Hicks took a minute to vibe directly with the crowd. He wanted an audience new to his band’s music to know just how hard it is for such an unorthodox hip-hop group to be heard. Their beats are dope concoctions of traditional Black-laced samples and bass lines with White drumming and guitar riffs. Their fiercesome foursome of Black female and male lead vocalists deliver powerfully out-of-the-ordinary political lyrics whose content speaks as often and more easily to Frantz Fanon or Assata Shakur than the band’s actual namesake. And all of this creates a delightfully complicated problem for genre-based thinkers and corporate playlist arrangers. So Hicks took to the mic and thanked the crowd at the Live On The Low weekly hip-hop spotlight at the Winston Hotel and then let them know that despite endorsements from leading intellectuals like Cornel West, rap legends like Chuck D, and world renown soul sisters like Erykah Badu, groups like his still have to struggle to reach an audience. 
“They speak to longer struggles still incomplete that cannot be forgotten or marginalized by these more recent and mostly White uprisings.” 
And from San Diego All Peoples Revolutionary Front representatives had taken to the mic more than a week ago to remind the current and mostly White occupiers that theirs is late and not necessarily conscious of its own complicity in the previous occupation of the world’s majority. "Our minds have been occupied by colonialism," said one speaker. And the group’s previously published open letter to the occupation calls attention to the very “colonizing language” of these occupations, with calls like “taking back our country,” with which many First Nations people simply cannot unify. Other speakers reminded of the imperial process that decimated existing communities, nations, identities and created new ones in permanent and hostile distinction from the West, from the White. Their calls for self-determination and an appropriate concept of "occupation" differ importantly from but remain in basic solidarity with those of the mainstream occupations. But they speak to longer struggles still incomplete that cannot be forgotten or marginalized by these more recent and mostly White uprisings. The differences are important and, as Greg Tate wrote recently, speak to the fact that this country remains more segregated by race than class. 

And what each speak to in their own space and way is that radical voices from the world’s majority are simply not welcomed even in spaces that each previously occupied. White corporate dominance over hip-hop has largely wiped out space for group’s like the Cornel West Theory, just as now White liberal dominance over social unrest continues to limit space for other world majority radical voices from being heard. And if you continue to doubt that this latter point is an issue, just look at last week’s aired panel from The Nation magazine in all its Whiteness and ask if those in the occupy movement who are worried about corporate co-optation need to look more carefully at the liberal takeover currently being carried out. 

We all have indeed been occupied by colonialism and hip-hop and the occupation movement are no different. I am glad though that in their own ways each occupation suffered these small interventions. May many more soon come. 

For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Jared Ball. 

On the web visit us at BlackAgendaReport.com

Dr. Jared A. Ball is an associate professor of communication studies at Morgan State University in Baltimore, MD. He is also the author of I Mix What I Like! A Mixtape Manifesto (AK Press, 2011)
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