Monday, February 12, 2018

"Knowing was an 'illumination.': We Must Support Each Other, on the Golden Notebooks and a rally for a friend. #IStandWithRavi and #NewSanctuaryCity.

Revolting Lesbians with a message for the world. 

Two of the coolest, Tim and my BFF!!!

Scenes from "You Can't Deport a Movement," above.  Photo below of what happened the last time Ravi had an ICE check in.  Saturday, the activist enjoyed a stay of deportation.  Photo and caption by Erik McGregor. "Ravi Ragbir, executive director of the New Sanctuary Coalition of New York City... On February 10, 2018; The New Sanctuary Coalition together with faith leaders, immigration activists, and community members outside the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) offices and immigration courts at 26 Federal Plaza, marching in silence and prayer in solidarity with Jean Montrevil, Ravi Ragbir and all immigrants who are facing deportation. (Photo by Erik McGregor)"

"Knowing was an 'illumination.' During the last weeks of craziness and timelessness I've had these moments of 'knowing' one after the other, yet there is no way of putting this sort of knowledge into words. Yet, these moments have been so powerful, like the rapid illuminations of a dream that remain with one waking, that what I have learned will be part of how I experience life until I die."

--Anna Wulf in The Golden Notebook

For weeks, our reading group – dubbed the activist informed reading group - planned to read the Golden Notebooks by Doris Lessing.  Her1962 novel about people and movements, contradictions and hypocrisy, individuals and history felt ideal for this moment of uncertainty, immigrant bashing, and market fluctuation.  It is not easy living every day knowing that the government of the place you call home has been controlled by corporations and people with little interest in embracing the better angels of our nature, people embracing the most xenophobic of our instincts.
 But illuminations are everywhere, in the streets, people, movements, and ideas. I saw it all day long on Saturday.  
We’d get to the book after rally.
I rode out of the house at 830 AM to get to Foley Square in Lower Manhattan forthe rally for our friend facing deportation.
“This moment is urgent. This is bigger than any one case. ICE is escalating its attack on immigrants, and only our movement can stop them.

There is a new stay for Ravi’s deportation, but this moment matters now MORE THAN EVER! We must stand up for the countless thousands of Ravis and Jeans and show that we are powerful together! We leave no one behind! ICE cannot target our leaders OR our communities! 

Bring your friends, your colleagues, your love and solidarity to demand a#NEWSANCTUARYCITY 

We need to stop the escalation of ICE and the president’s attacks on immigrant communities, including targeting dissidents for deportation, threatening Dreamers with detention, ICE efforts to infiltrate courts and churches, and up to the racist rhetoric of the president and his office. We will not be silent and we will not let immigrant communities continue to be an example of the endless cruelty of this administration. 

In the spirit of Valentine’s Day, we’re asking friends and fellow activists to help hand deliver a message of love for all immigrants to ICE’s office by showing up on Feb. 10th at 9AM in solidarity with Ravi, Dreamers, TPS recipients, workers, families, and community members. We’ll use messages of love and solidarity to combat the "good immigrant, bad immigrant" narrative. We resent the pressure on immigrants to prove their social or economic worth in order to justify their humanity. We encourage making signs that celebrate people’s differences through what makes them special -- not just how a piece of paper classifies them.

This rally concerns all of us -- immigrants, U.S. citizens, New Yorkers. This is a fight against this racist administration’s attempt to overstep the constitution and cherry pick who has the right to freedom and who will be terrorized into silence. We’re going to let them know that this movement has deep roots and cannot be eradicated. We’re going to show them that you can’t deport a movement. 

Please share widely!

Feel free to use the themes below when creating signs for the rally!

“You Can’t Deport a Movement” -- ICE is targeting our leaders to try to silence our communities. We’re going to let them know that this movement has deep roots and cannot be eradicated. 

“Have a heart!” -- Express love for all immigrants! Complement it by wearing heart adorned clothing, signs, and accessories. 

“I am Ravi” -- Ravi Ragbir forfeited his privacy in this vulnerable time to stand as a symbol for the fight that millions of people in this country face. When we show our solidarity with him, we show it to all people threatened with deportation.

“Love to [....] immigrants” -- Let’s remind America of every immigrant’s humanity. Status or citizenship is a detail, not an identity. Celebrate the identities, hobbies, and talents that make us human!”

Most all my friends were there, activists from Rise and Resist, the Revolting Lesbians, Anarchists and Judsonites, speaking up for our friend Ravi and the movement he represents.
Walking around at the rally I greeted comrades, snapped a few pictures, and we listened to speeches.
Several of the Revolting Lesbians who had brought attention to the climate science denying policies of Rebekah Mercer, who sits on the board of the Museum of Natural History, were there.
The speeches continued about Ravi and the plight of all immigrants.
Finishing the rally, number one and I walked, traversing the majestic Brooklyn Bridge, toward home.
By eleven I was greeting my friends at the Commons, where we were discussing David Harvey’s tomb, the Madness of Economic Reason.
“We’ll be reading the Penguin edition of Capital,” Michael announced, starting out with a little housekeeping.  We’d been reading Harvey for weeks.  The week before, he even joined our group.  But what was the best way forward for the group – to read more Harvey or get to the source, Marx?  We’d discuss the topic for almost an hour.  Process counts after all.
“Its such a socialist approach,” laughed Leslie, reflecting on discussion of how we would move forward during our bathroom break.
Its useful to ask what to do with the banks noted another participant.
Read Rick Wolf to explore that question, its not for this reading group.
Will the venture capitalists consume all the devalued assets, asked another member?
But what will happen with the markets?  One man cheered for the markets to crash.  Others pointed out that the poor become collateral damage when economy contracts.
A crisis does not equate to a victory for the left, another participant followed.  The Germans got national socialism after a crisis in the 1930’s.
For weeks, we’d been talking about the circulation of capital moving and transforming like the water cycle, the paths of value in motion.  Harvey even send us his chart of the process.

ProductionReproductionChart - Harvey

The speed of circulation is important notes Harvey. T
Thinking about the immigration debate, I wondered about Marx’s concept of anti-value, when circulation slows. You can learn a lot about the immigration debate reading the business section of the paper.  Supporters of private prisons want bodies filling their prison cells, jails, and immigration detention centers.  Why else would the state be spending its tax dollars to detain Ravi and Jean, flying them from here to there, incarcerating them and many others, taking them out of circulation. Of course, the counter argument can and has often been made that immigrants do more to move the circulation of capital and projects from anti-value to value, doing jobs needed to build and rebuild cities, bringing ideas and innovation.
Yet, alienated workers are threats to valorization. 
And that is certainly the case today.
And so on, we debated.
And I started to turn to the anarchist pamphlet I picked up at the interference archive.
Around break time, I quietly bowed out of the debate. My friend Gene thinks its crazy to study Marx.  He grew up in Russia, only leaving for the states when he was ten.   He lived the failures of the socialist paradise. 
These were the debates we saw in Eastern Europe last summer, where Stalin twisted Marx’s critique into an oppressive system, housing many on the one hand, detaining and torturing countless other bodies on the other.
I wandered home to get ready for our Golden Notebooks session that would start at three PM.
I first heard about the book in my freshman year of college three decades ago. Sitting at the outdoor coffee house at Scripps college in Claremont CA, my friend Kira was reading a copy. 
            “I just broke up with Jack,” she told me when I sat to talk with her.
            “Are you ok?”
            “I am fine,” she told me in a blas√© tone, before sticking her nose back into her book.
She later lent me a copy of the book, which I loaned to somebody else, never getting it back.
            I only dug back into the book this winter for the AIR bookclub.  Its Caroline's favorite novel.  At six hundred plus pages, it is considerably longer than most of the other books we read. The book is about Anna, who has completed a considerably successful autobiographical novel about her life with the communists.  But now she is stuck, trying to talk things out with her friend Molly, drafting four notebooks about her life and her writing, her politics and desires, sex and art, communist dreams and the realities of her world, that she hopes to synthesize into a golden notebook.  It’s a whole book about things splitting about…
The book begins with a simple observation.
"The two women were alone in the London flat."  But, “Everything is cracking up…” observes Anna to Molly, people, movements, ideas, the party, sex, men, women, everything.
            We read it all afternoon, one line after another. 
            Like the Harvey reading group, we’d spent hours debating how much we could get done, and how many sessions we should dedicate to the story. Yet, this book took everyone by surprise, opening up a huge conversation about theory and practice, literature and consciousness.
            “A self-knowledge is knowing on deeper and deeper levels what one knew before…” writes Lessing.
            There is a knowledge deep inside of us.
            But it gets obfuscated. We justify things and become rigid.  Lessing’s best lines are about the true believers, certain in their faith about the system or their criticism of it.
            It helps to understand the Trump era, noted Dave, pointing out that we’ve been through terrible times before.
            “What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun,” noted Leslie, referring to Ecclesiastes 1:9.      
            We are marching through history, looking at ourselves and the social forces around us, trying to integrate knowledge into action, theory into practice.  A little history and humility helps.
“Knowledge was an illumination,” Lessing reminds us.  “That is what learning is. You suddenly understand something you've understood all your life, but in a new way.”
“Think wrongly, if you please, but in all cases think for yourself.”

Thank you Doris.
Solidarity counts. 
We must support each other. 

reading the golden notebooks together. 

1 comment:

  1. Beautiful Photos and A Really Nice Essay of our time showing Ravi, We Care about All Immigrants in this fascist time in America