Bordering on peace: Save Zimbabwe Now!

School’s out for summer
School’s out forever
School’s been blown to pieces

No more pencils
No more books
No more teacher’s dirty looks

Out for summer
Out till fall
We might not go back at all

School’s out forever
School’s out for summer
School’s out with fever
School’s out completely

Welcome to Zimbabwe, where even Alice Cooper becomes a prophet. The schools of Zimbabwe are closed. One more organ shuts down. Here’s a week in the death of a nation and a map of the borderlands.

Zimbabwe is not dying. No. Zimbabwe is being choked by killing off its health services. Zimbabwe is being violently kidnapped, disappeared, tortured, til death do us part. Zimbabwe is being negotiated to death, while schools stay closed. Do not confuse dying with murder.

The year ahead looks even bleaker, without seed or with reduced international aid. 10 out 13 million people live in abject poverty … in a land filled with natural riches. Zimbabwe has become a `factory for poverty’. Zimbabwe has entered the business of poverty production. Zimbabwe can give you a great deal on cholera and is willing to consider reasonable offers for hunger. It’s the sale to end all sales.

Have the people of Zimbabwe suffered enough yet? Suffered enough for what? As Zimbabwean Pastor Wilson Mugabe said last week, “We have become beggars … yesterday we were people who could feed the whole of Southern Africa. Hear us, we have suffered enough.” Who measures and weighs the suffering, who decides who lives, who dies, who suffers, who cries? Zimbabwe is a lesson, a curriculum. Zimbabwe closes schools, and thereby teaches the region and the world: “This is a lesson to our region. We came together to liberate ourselves, but now [we see] that power can pervert you to become precisely the opposite of what led you to become a freedom fighter. This is a lesson to other liberation movements in our region.”  The people of Zimbabwe have suffered enough.

Over the last five months, tens of thousands have fled Zimbabwe for South Africa. Zimbabwe inflation is at 6.5 quindecillion novemdecillian percent. Is that really a number? Zimbabwe cholera death soars past 2700. It will rise to 3000 by week’s. Just another day in the death of a nation. Life in Zimbabwe is `precarious’. The women of Zimbabwe have taken to the roads. Many, such as the members of the Kubatana Cooperative, sell goods by the side of the road. For women in Zimbabwe, life is not only precarious, it’s perilous. Jennie Williams and Magodonga Mahlangu are sort of released from prison; Jestina Mukoko and her comrades remain in Chikurubi Maximum Prison, and everyone wonders about those disappeared who are “still missing.” Then Chris Dhlamini and six others, abducted and then `revealed’ in Chikurubi, were reported as misplaced. Misplaced. In Zimbabwe today, reporting that the person you abducted and then smuggled into prison without any charges is now missing, that’s called transparency. We need a new Zimbabwe dictionary that will explain the words, transparency, currency, death, negotiation, hunger, hope. We need a new Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe has been `misplaced.’

Desperate children and women flee Zimbabwe for the bleak horror show that is Musina, South Africa. For the children, life in Musina is precarious and perilous. For the women: “While the stories of the refugee children are troubling — with penury in Zimbabwe being exchanged for penury here — many of the more horrifying stories in the city involve the rapes of helpless women.” They are not helpless, they managed to cross the border. For Zimbabwean women, life is more than precarious and more than perilous.

The SADC talks on Zimbabwe fail. Joy Mabenge of the Institute for Democratic Alternatives for Zimbabwe, concludes, “”The pronouncement that the political talks are dead is likely to trigger mass protests. For now the masses are trapped and indeed arrested in false hopes of either an inclusive government or a transitional authority being consummated. The nation has reached a tipping point and what the ordinary people are waiting for is in historical terms the 28 June 1914 Sarajevo assassination of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand to trigger some sort of coordinated civil disobedience.” Now that’s a democratic alternative. Meanwhile, the school system is in total collapse. Teachers can’t afford to teach and so sell goods on the street. Women teachers , women who were business owners, traders, accountants, secretaries and PAs, police, they cross the borders, into Zambia, Mozambique, Botswana, and enter the sex work industry. Last year, 30,000 Zimbabwean teachers left the educational system; 10,000 now live in South Africa.

The killing of Zimbabwe includes the story of borders. It is a story of neighboring nation-states equating security with peace, and so closing their borders. It is a story of distant nation-states claiming that national sovereignty, borders, is the basis of the rule of law. The only crisis, the only emergency, that supersedes national sovereignty, the rule of borders, is military. So, SADC dithers. The UN dithers. All nation-states dither.

The world dithers, and Zimbabwe continues to be killed. Zimbabweans keep crossing the borders out. But who crosses in? Recently, people have started to question the sanctity of those borders, the logic of outflow. In the past week, with the launch of Save Zimbabwe Now, something new emerged. Save Zimbabwe Now has called on people of conscience to engage in a personal collective action, fasting and monitoring. Yesterday, Nomboniso Gasa of the South African Commission for Gender Equality and a member of Save Zimbabwe Now, put governments on notice that people of conscience, people who want Zimbabwe to be free today from hunger, oppression and poverty, would be monitors. The test for competency to become a monitor is trust. Not a blue helmet worn nor a civil service exam passed: “by sheer silence… they condone what is happening – so what basis do we have to trust them!” Trust.

As Graca Machel said at the launch of the Save Zimbabwe Now campaign, Zimbabwe is a lesson. Even when the schools are closed. Yvonne Vera knew this, the lesson that is Zimbabwe. Her last novel, The Stone Virgins, ends on a double note of education. On one hand, there’s Nonceba, who is remarkably educated: “there are not many people with a good high school certificate in the city. She has an advantage. Education for everyone is being constantly interrupted by the war. Schools close down. They remain closed. Especially, the mission schools located in rural areas. Nonceba has an astounding capacity for joy.”

And there’s her partner, Cephas: “His task is to learn to recreate the manner in which the tenderest branches bend, meet, and dry, the way grass folds smoothly over this frame and weaves a nest, the way it protects the cool livable place within; deliverance.”

The schools must be opened today, the hospitals and clinics as well. People must have access to their own and their shared capacity for joy. At the same time, the cool livable place within must be learned. The borders must be opened so that exile is not confused for deliverance. Save Zimbabwe now, not from itself but rather from those who are murdering it.

Dan Moshenberg, dmoshenberg@gmail.com

Bordering on peace: Mexico and the United States

How is the border story told? Let’s look at Ciudad Juárez as an example. Reporters Without Borders and the Centre for Journalism and Public Ethics (CEPET) released a report this week that “points out that the deployment of many federal personnel – civilian and military – to this major drug-trafficking stronghold has not made the city any safer and has even exacerbated the violence.” The deployment of federal personnel exacerbates violence. Gaza, meet Ciudad Juárez.

But El Paso, just across the river, is safe. Why? For some, it’s the new immigrants, “who tend to be cautious, law-abiding and respectful of authority”, as well as Fort Bliss and a heavy police presence. Why does military and civilian presence in El Paso reduce violent crime, but increase it in Ciudad Juárez ?

A recent New York Times article ends with Marisela Granados de Molinar, who “was an office manager at the Mexican attorney general’s office in Juárez, but lived for decades in El Paso with her husband, Jose A. Molinar Jr.”. For decades, she crossed the border. In December, giving her boss a lift to El Paso, her car was riddled with bullets. Her boss “wanted to visit Wal-Mart.” Her husband reflected, “She was never afraid. She thought she wasn’t important enough for them to care about.” Not important enough to kill.

This is an old story, the story of murdered women not important enough to kill. Ask the mothers of the disappeared of Ciudad Juárez. They’ll tell you, it’s an old story: “On the same day Barack Obama was inaugurated as the first African-American president in U.S. history, an old story was repeating itself in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, across the river from El Paso, Tex. Staging a caravan through the violence-ridden city, a new group of mothers of disappeared young women brought public attention to the cases of daughters who have gone missing since January 2008. Holding a rally at the downtown cathedral, the mothers demanded their daughters be returned home alive. . . . All of the disappeared young women are teenagers who went to school or worked for a living, and most were headed to downtown Ciudad Juárez, the scene of numerous disappearances since the 1990s.…At least 29 new cases of women who have disappeared in Ciudad Juárez since January 2008 are pending… The latest rash of women’s disappearances coincides with violent upheavals in the criminal underworld, increased seizures of drug loads, changes in political administrations, and deployments by the Mexican army or federal police. Since 1995, several groups of relatives have thrust the issue of their missing daughters and sisters into the international spotlight. Mass protests, which reached their zenith in 2003-04, prompted the administration of former Mexican President Vicente Fox to create new government bureaucracies, including a special commission on violence against women in Ciudad Juárez and a special prosecutor’s office. Both agencies were widely criticized for failing to clear up numerous disappearances and femicides. Since Mexican President Felipe Calderon assumed power in December 2006, the two agencies have become virtually invisible. Meanwhile, murders of women officially reached all-time heights in Ciudad Juárez last year, when at least 86 women were slain; many homicides were connected to the narco war that claimed more than 1,600 lives overall. Women´s murders have continued into 2009.”

It is an old story, but it’s not the whole story. Scholars and activists have addressed the femicide of Ciudad Juárez as local and national, the old story which must be told, and also as transnational, the story of the border town under neoliberalism, of the Mexican border town under NAFTA. Laura Carlsen this week noted that NAFTA begat the Security and Prosperity Partnership which begat the Merida Initiative, or Plan Mexico, which militarizes, well, everything and everyone south of the Rio Grande. Plan Mexico claims to impede transnational criminal activity, which, of course, only flows south to north. And the south-to-north “contagion” justifies militarization of civilian zones: “the militarized approach to fighting organized crime, couched in terms of the counterterrorism model of the Bush administration, presents serious threats to civil liberties and human rights. In Mexico, this has already been clear particularly among four vulnerable groups: members of political opposition, women, indigenous peoples, and migrants”. All those murdered ones not important enough to kill. Women are women, and women are members of the opposition and indigenous peoples and migrants.

NAFTA reordered the borderlands, in particular for women. Many have written on this. From Shae Garwood’s “Working to Death: Gender, Labour, and Violence in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico” to Melissa W. Wright’s Disposable Women and other Myths of Global Capitalism to Kathleen A. Staudt’s Violence and Activism at the Border: Gender, Fear, and Everyday Life in Ciudad Juárez, the myth of the disposable women is fused to the reality of the indispensable women. The murders and disappearances of women was never “merely” individual or local. The Juárez femicide is part of the historical moment, the moment of NAFTA, of economic and political restructuring. Women responded with new organization and action. Women of the border town Ciudad Juárez know that militarizing the police brings more violence against women. Their state of terror comes from gangs, police, soldiers, partners, and employers. For Staudt, violence against women is the overarching problem at the border.

Violence against women is the border. Everything of the border must be understood in the context of violence against women. Irma Maruffo gets it: “Women do not enjoy the freedom of secure transit in the city, and this is a right and a responsibility of political authorities and the legal system.” The regime of state and the rule of law stand accused. The Mexico – U.S. border has been redrawn by NAFTA, by the State, the Law and the Market, that value `national security’ over women’s freedom. The inequalities of that border generate and gender violence. Open that border, and make freedom and peace, rather than security, a priority and goal.

Dan Moshenberg, dmoshenberg@gmail.com

Announcing a new feminist journal: Women In and Beyond the Global, WIBG

Women In and Beyond the Global, WIBG, a peer-reviewed online journal

Women In and Beyond the Global, WIBG, is an open access feminist project that analyzes and works to change the status and conditions of women in global households, prisons, and cities. WIBG involves activists, academics, information specialists and others. WIBG has established a blog site, www.womeninandbeyond.org, and, in collaboration with the Center for Transnational Women’s Issues, a monthly seminar. We are pleased to announce our newest project, a new peer reviewed, open access online, international feminist journal: Women In and Beyond the Global, WIBG.

WIBG will publish interdisciplinary analyses, creative expressions, reports from the field, interviews, and artworks. The journal will create a common space for activists, academics, and information specialists to share their work and views, to interact with one another, and to change, in whatever way, the world.

WIBG intends to support and encourage publication around the globe. Our current Editorial Committee includes the following: Kelly Cooper, Cuernavaca, Mexico; Cheryl Deutsch, Mumbai, India; Cathy Eisenhower, Washington, DC, U.S.A.; Dan Moshenberg, Washington, DC, USA; Siphokazi Mthathi, Cape Town, South Africa; Rachel Riedner, Washington, DC, USA. We invite others to apply to become members of the Editorial Committee.

On February 1, we will circulate the call for papers for our first issue. Stay tuned.

If interested, please contact Dan Moshenberg, dmoshenberg@gmail.com, or Cathy Eisenhowercathy.eisenhower@gmail.com

 

 

 

Bordering on peace: Gaza

In the continuing sunshine of the inauguration of Barack Hussein Obama, Susan R. Benda, a DC-based lawyer, reflects on the embracing impact on her own son, a pre-teen raised by a single mom: “The doors of his imagination have swung open, and his sense of his place in the world has changed.” Doors of imagination, perception, and possibility swung open this week, personal doors that had stood closed for generations, that had been closed for so long many had forgotten they existed, had forgotten they were doors at all, many had come to accept the doors as walls, solid, immutable, opaque. People learned to open doors again, people learned to pass through again, people learned to cross thresholds again.

Some doors still remain closed, however, and they are called borders. This series, “Bordering on peace,” will offer stories concerning women pushing against the closed door common sense of nation and nationalism. We begin with four: Gaza, Mexico/United States, Zimbabwe, India/Pakistan. You are invited to contribute your own.

For Rewa Zeinati, Gaza is a place where only the dead are allowed to dream of peace:

Heavy

(Gaza 2009, day 13)



A child’s head rests on the rubble

Body-less,

Hair plastered on her face, eyes closed,

Dreaming of peace that comes too late.

Peace that comes too late is defined by time. Time, in Gaza, has always been something different: “Time there does not take children from childhood to old age, but rather makes them men in their first confrontation with the enemy.” Peace comes too late because it has no passport, it has no papers, and so is blocked at the borders, the borders that only the Israelis manage, the borders that Israelis have controlled and sealed.

Time there makes children into men. And the women? Of course, women in Gaza have been devastated by the violence; the stories abound. But there’s another story, that of Palestinian women organizing as the rockets descend on their homes, as told by Islah Jad “Many women in Gaza have risked their lives to save the besieged ‘targeted’ groups in Gaza. Women, through their mass mobilization, managed to save many houses from being demolished by Israeli artillery. Women are mobilized to provide vital emergency services for women in Gaza, women are also active in the media and mass communication to make their voices heard against this war.” This war, like the ones before it, will end. But peace that comes too late will not be allowed across the borders, and the tunnels are being sealed.

[Tomorrow “Bordering on peace: the U.S. – Mexico border”]

Dan Moshenberg, dmoshenberg@gmail.com

5th Conversation of the Transnational Network on Women’s Issues

On Saturday, Feb 7, 10:30-12:00, Lisa Rabin and Catherine Berrouet of George Mason University

 will speak about

THE CULMORE LITERACY AND POPULAR EDUCATION PROJECT: MELDING COMMUNITY AND UNIVERSITY KNOWLEDGES IN NORTHERN VIRGINIA” 

at the 5th Conversation of the Transnational Network on Women’s Issues.

To join the conversation in person, please go to George Washington University Phillips Hall, Room 411, 801 22nd St, NW, or Towson University Cook Library 404A, Towson, MD, 21252.

To join us by phone, please email transfem@c4twi.org.

To view the flyer for the event, please click here:

Feb-7 transnational_network_flyer

Visit http://ctwiei.ning.com/group/tnwi to hear the podcast of our previous talks.

The Republic of Chikurubi

What passes today for good news from the government of Zimbabwe? The 100-trillion dollar note? No. The rate of deaths from cholera exceeding the rate of inflation, having topped 2000? Not even close.  “The twisted arithmetic of crumbling Zimbabwe” that makes burials out of reach of ordinary peoples’ economies? Nope. Give up?

Good news in Zimbabwe is the release of two-year old bandit terrorist Nigel Mutemagawo, abducted, held in custody for 76 days, held at Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison for close to two weeks: “Medical reports show that during his abduction and continued detention for charges of banditry and terrorism, two year-old Nigel was assaulted and denied food and medical attention by his captors.” Two years old. Talk about early childhood education. Not to worry, though. The news isn’t all good. Nigel’s parents, Violet Mupfuranhehwe and Collen Mutemagawo, remain `in custody’, and Nigel was sent to MDC officials, “who are total strangers.” Zimbabwe has figured out both the national security issue and child care. Democratic socialists, take note.

Jestina Mukoko appeared in court Thursday, January 15: “Jestina Mukoko, a well-known human rights campaigner in Zimbabwe, was forced to kneel on gravel for hours and was beaten on the soles of her feet with rubber truncheons during interrogations, she said in a sworn statement recently submitted to a court in Zimbabwe.” Not to fear, the rule of law still presides in Zimbabwe: “Zimbabwe’s director of prosecutions, Florence Ziyambi, said Thursday that Mukoko’s rights were not violated by her detention.`She can ask for remedies and compensation for the ill treatment she claims she went through,’ Ziyambi said.” In 100-trillion dollar notes, no doubt.  It’s a good thing that Zimbabwe’s Attorney General had already declared Mukoko a national and societal threat and had said that she would stay in jail, no matter what the courts decide.

While the Big Parties do and don’t negotiate, people, ordinary extraordinary, are changed, perhaps forever. Beatrice Mtetwa said of Jestina Mukoko, after her two court appearances on Thursday: “It’s like she’s no longer the same person they took away.” She is no longer the same person they took away.

Where was Jestina Mukoko taken? Where was Violet Mupfuranhehwe taken?  ”All the female detainees, including the former ZBC broadcaster, are being held in solitary confinement in the male section of the notorious Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison – an area of the prison reserved for only the hardest of criminals.” Perhaps this is the government’s plan, to change the name and substance of the country from Zimbabwe to Chikurubi: worthless money, rampant disease, collapsed infrastructure, feuding gangs committed to interminable conflict. Sounds right.

What if every country were renamed according to its most notorious prison? The Republic of Zimbabwe could become the Republic of Chikurubi. The United States of America could become the United States of Guantanamo. The Republic of Turkey could become the Republic of Imrali. The Republic of Indonesia could become the Republic of Nusakambangan. The Commonwealth of Australia could become the Commonwealth of Christmas Island. The possibilities of translation are endless. They form a chain, an archipelago, around the globe. Where were Jestina Mukoko and Violet Mupfuranhehwe taken? The Republic of Chikurubi. Where did they go? That remains to be seen.

Dan Moshenberg, dmoshenberg@gmail.com

Refugees here, there, and everywhere

Refugees have been in the news a lot lately. The strikes on Gaza offer one of the most prominent and horrifying examples happening right now.  Zimbabweans fleeing the Mugabe regime, often classified as economically displaced, fall under the category of ¨refugee¨ in mainstream reporting. The U.S. occupation of Iraq has led to the displacement of millions of individuals and families, creating a massive refugee crises in which over 4 million have left their homes to find refuge in other parts of Iraq, Syria, Jordan, or other neighboring countries. Reporters cover humanitarian crises in Darfur, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Chad, Georgia . . . and the list continues. Given this broad naming of displaced individuals around the world as refugee, it would appear that all of these groups fall similarly under the category of refugee, although the historical and geopolitical contexts are markedly different. 

This undifferentiated category of refugee seems to pop up, well, everywhere.

After reading a recent article in The Nation about New Orleans and the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, referenced in Dan Moshenberg´s recent post, I was caught off guard by A.C. Thompson´s mention of refugees.  Recounting race-specific violence following the storm, Thompson says, ¨Facing an influx of refugees, the residents of Algiers Point could have pulled together food, water and medical supplies for the flood victims.¨ Refugee is just sort of slipped in there, no? Indeed, refugee became the contentious, yet popular, way of identifying displaced New Orleanians following the storm.  However, while Thompson takes on the very important task of discussing forgetten histories of extreme white on black urban violence, he refers to the refugees rather nonchalantly.  Information about where the refugees came from and why they might have fallen into the category of refugee remains curiously absent. Moreover, his portrayal of New Orleans is decidedly male, or at least male-normative, as all of the active players in the article are men. As we continue to remember Hurricane Katrina, we must ask the following question that few critics taken into consideration: where were/are New Orleanian women displaced by the storm, the majority of whom were poor and black? How did refugeeness following the storm differ along the lines of race, class, gender, location, age, and ability?

It is the frequent, unspecific, and gender-neutral use of the label refugee that concerns me.  While the United Nations and individual nations maintain their respective legal definitions of refugee status, the name is used all too frequently in reporting about conflict and disaster to describe those who are victimized and desperately in need of aid, often perceived as coming from the largesse of the West.  It seems that refugees, whether considered to be economic, political, religious, or otherwise, remain largely nameless, faceless, and desperately in need of help.  

One of the most curious examples I have recently seen is the labeling of refugees fleeing Ciudad Juarez and moving to El Paso.  According to Alfredo Corchado of the The Dallas Morning News, Senator Eliot Shapleigh says, “Just like the good people of Houston took in the refugees from New Orleans, El Pasoans will also help the refugees from Juárez.¨ Similar to Thompson´s portrayal of Algiers Point, all of the active players in the El Paso-Ciudad Juarez area are men. Given the use of label refugee to describe crises around the world and the increasingly high levels of femicide in Ciudad Juarez, this portrayal of ¨refugee¨ as narco-economic, male migrant is painfully shortsighted and disturbingly problematic.  

In the majority of representations of mass displacement, the situations of women, especially women of color, remain obscured.  These women, the third world `others´ lost in the traffic of disaster, conflict, and humanitarianism, exist outside of and below public intelligibility and political recognition. Given current reporting practices concerning refugees, especially those circulating in the U.S. public sphere, these feminized groups remain largely un-trackable and unspeakable.

Kelly Cooper, kellycooper3@gmail.com

WIBG on Facebook

We started a Women In and Beyond the Global Facebook group!

If you are a Facebook member, please join the group to connect and share ideas with transnational feminists working around the world.

If you are not on Facebook yet, be sure to join here so that you don´t miss out on WIBG events, discussions about women in global households, prisons, and cities, and opportunities to colloborate with feminists.

“Mugabe’s wife raids bank vaults”: who built the vaults?

The headline reads: “Mugabe’s wife raids bank vaults”. Remember Brecht’s poem about the worker who reads history, which ask, “Young Alexander conquered India. He alone?” She alone?

Grace goes shopping, Bob goes for `reflection.’ What does he see when he looks in the mirror? Who does he see? Does he see the starving, the dying, the tortured? Does he see Jestina Mukoko? Reporters Sans Frontieres do. They wrote yesterday to “Tomaz Salamao, the executive secretary of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), urging his regional organisation to put pressure on President Robert Mugabe’s government to release journalist and human rights activist Jestina Mukoko as soon as possible. As soon as possible is always too late. Ask the citizens and residents of Gaza. Ask the citizens and residents of Zimbabwe.

The Times today posted a Civicus video made largely in Zimbabwe over the Christmas holiday. It’s called `Inside Zimbabwe’. Not a single woman is interviewed. They must have all been in Malaysia shopping. But it does have some great lines: “South Africa is acting like a condom to Robert Mugabe.”

Who built the bank vaults? Not Grace, not Bob, not the South African government nor the South African corporations, not SADC. Cooks, domestic workers, farmworkers, and others. As soon as possible is always too late.

Dan Moshenberg, dmoshenberg@gmail.com

 

Everyone is astounded: Chadian women making freedom

Africa may face centuries of poverty. Social Watch has developed a basic capabilities index  that shows that economic growth does not necessarily produce drops in poverty levels. In fact, “the basic needs required to escape poverty persists; even more, it is increasing, in spite of impressive economic growth in most developing countries.”  Meanwhile, according to the Social Gender Equity Index, “More than half the women in the world live in countries that have made no progress in gender equity in recent years.” And this has nothing to do with lack of resources. It’s about decisions that governments, that people in government, mostly men, make … freely.

Everyone is `astounded’: “Reed Brody, a campaigner with Human Rights Watch, said it was `astounding’ that 60 percent of the world’s countries have made no progress in recent years in expanding female access to education. He called for increased investment in the realisation of basic entitlements as part of a `human rights stimulus package. When you free women from the discrimination and poor health that they face in their daily lives, you unleash the powers of half of humanity to contribute to economic growth,’ he said ‘.” `Free women’ to become productive laborers; `free women’ to sell their free labor freely? At the heart of the human rights version of women in the world is precisely this liberal bourgeois capitalist model: the problem with women is women aren’t free laborers. 

As long as freedom is viewed as an economic term, as long as freedom is `justified’ because it produces and reproduces `economic growth’, there will be no freedom. But don’t worry. Global warming will lead to a perpetual food crisis. In the by and by of the perpetual food crisis, we will all be free to starve. According to climate researcher David Battisti, “This is going to unfold in the next 100 years.” So, the developing world need not worry about basic this and gender that. Time is no longer of the essence, time has become the substance. 

Where is all this food not going? According to Mike Davis, to urban slums in the global neoliberal metropole. For Davis, the failed state is more often than not a failed city, and the role of empire is to figure out what do about the failures: “The most interesting thing happening right now is the joint efforts of the US and Brazil in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. I would argue that the US sees that effort as a possibility to test and develop strategies to stabilise cities by means of security measures, city planning and social efforts.” The militarization of social space is not new, and, as women have known for centuries, it emerges as much from boardrooms and bedrooms as it does from war rooms. There must be something more interesting.

How about this: a hundred or so women in Chad, carrying knives and sticks and who knows what else, march through the streets, organize, takie charge, do things. Cécile Moutouba. Larnem Marie. Others who chose to remain anonymous. Freedom.

Freedom, not because it’s economically viable, but because it’s freedom. The refusal to accept bare life, the refusal to accept extermination, the refusal to accept violence, the refusal to accept `the acceptable’, the refusal to accept failure. These hundred or so women in Chad are making freedom, and that production is as real as any goods production, as any economic growth that doesn’t pull women out of poverty or anything else.

Dan Moshenberg, dmoshenberg@gmail.com