By its grammar the visual communication of protest empowers citizens and deepens democratization. Well-designed posters can deliver powerful messages that resonate across generations, hearkening back to troublesome and grievous periods in history. They create a visual history of the progress that societies have made against the abuse of power by their authorities, the challenges facing them in preserving liberty, justice , and democracy; the dangers of regressing towards fascism, and the crucial seriousness of staying committed to the struggle.
So how are visual communications of protest that can influence the way we think and react? And what role their iconography plays in socio-political progress? It is clear that the visual communications that are presented in an authentic grammar of protest and are connecting with the aspirations and demands of protesters have the most powerful impact. The visual grammar of protest is reactive and immediate, demonstrating passion and commitment.Visual communication is only a ‘necessary condition’ and not a ‘sufficient condition’ for action. By themselves, they do not generate progress, but they try to inspire, energize and motivate the society to propel to action. In order to do so well a rallying cry should be paramount, bold, and most importantly, have empathy and warmth. It should also be a vivid idealized description of a desired outcome of collective effort that inspires, energizes and helps stakeholders to create a mental picture of the targets to be achieved.
With the advent of social media and electronic communication, the dynamic of social protest has been acquiring new and powerful dimensions. The new visual grammar of social pretest , integrating images and text in two-way conversations has empowered citizens and their pervasiveness and influence have had a profound impact socio-political infrastructure.
The 1960’s era is defined by the Vietnam war and social unrest throughout the world. For many people, including the American intellectuals the war was cruel, unnecessary and tragic. It was a time upheaval throughout the world, guerrilla organizations such as Uruguay's tupamaros and chile's Movement of the Revolutionary Left (MIR), the Kimbundu-based Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) & the Union of the Peoples of Northern Angola (later the National Liberation Front in Angola or FNLA), the Liberation Front of Mozambique (Frelimo), the Movement for the Liberation of São Tomé and Príncipe (MLSTP), the African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde (PAIGC), the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), Kampuchean (or Khmer) People's Revolutionary Party (KPRP), the Pathet Lao movement in Laos, the Viet Minh movement in Vietnam, the All India Coordination Committee of Communist Revolutionaries (Naxalites), The Baader-Meinhof group (the Red Army Faction) in West Germany, la Nouvelle Résistance Populaire (NRP) in France, the Brigate Rosse (BR)in Italy and many other groups sprouted throughout the world and gaining ground in almost every country.
In January 1968 North Vietnamese regular forces and Communist guerrillas launched an offensive on the cities of South Vietnam. This attack took place during the Tet holiday, the most important festival in the Vietnamese calendar. Despite clear signs that an offensive was imminent, the Americans were taken by surprise. Eventually, after several weeks of bitter fighting, America troops and the ARVN (Army of the Republic of Vietnam) regained control of the cities but found that the Saigon regime had lost ground in rural areas. Coming on the heels of the Tet Offensive which showed the war in Vietnam to be in disarray, in the early evening of April 4, 1968, Martin Luther King, Jr. was shot dead. He was standing on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee, where he had come to lead a peaceful march in support of striking sanitation workers. Two days later, eight members of the Black Panther Party (BPP), including Eldridge Cleaver, Bobby Hutton and David Hilliard, traveling in two cars were ambushed by the Oakland police. Cleaver and Hutton ran for cover and found themselves in a basement surrounded by police. The building was fired upon for over an hour. When a tear-gas canister was thrown into the basement the two men decided to surrender. Cleaver was wounded in the leg and so Hutton said he would go first. When he left the building with his hands in the air he was shot twelve times by the police and was killed instantly.
On Friday 3rd May a meeting was called in Paris's Sorbonne University to protest against the closure of Nanterre University the day before. This followed a week of clashes there between extreme right wing groups and students campaigning against the Vietnam War. Using the excuse of a rumor that the right wing were going to attack the students meeting, the university authorities called in the police. At first the police encircled the Sorbonne, then after negotiation agreed to let the students leave, peacefully, in groups of 25, men and women separately. The women were allowed out, but when the first batch of men came out they were immediately arrested and forced into waiting police vans. A crowd developed and started to angrily push forward. When the first of the vans tried to leave onto the Boulevard St Michel, their path was blocked by a crowd of students getting bigger by the minute. The subsequent massive strikes in France severely challenged the government's legitimacy. General de Gaulle not informing Prime Minister Pompidou or anyone else in the government, fled to Baden-Baden, Germany to meet with General Massu, the head of the French army to discuss possible army intervention against the protesters. On June 5, 1968, Robert Kennedy was assassinated just after midnight at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles following a victory speech for the California Primary. This was an annus horribilis.
The movement against U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War began in the US with demonstrations in 1964 and grew in strength over the next few years, peaking in 1968. There Swedish young people demonstrated and sold the magazine Vietnambulletinen (“The Vietnam Bulletin”) and raised funds for the NLF resistance movement. They organized De Förenade FNL-grupperna (DFFG, “The United NLF Groups), which burgeoned into a popular movement with 140 local chapters all over Sweden. The three main slogans were “US out of Vietnam,” Support the People of Vietnam on Their Terms,” and “Fight US Imperialism”. Expressions of Solidarity. In Holland, to call LBJ a killer was legally prohibited. Thus the youth get around the problem by using such wordplays as "Johnson is a miller" or "Johnson is a terrifying president". During a symposium on 21 October 1967 Bernard Delfgaauw, a philosophy professor, came up with a statement that could provide a solution: 'Measured by criteria used in Nurenberg and Tokyo, Johnson, his supporters, and generals are war criminals." This sentence was spread on thousands of banners and posters. An increasing number of demonstrations against the Vietnam War also took place in Australia in 1969–70 as opposition to Australia's involvement grew after 1964. Televised images of the fighting strongly influenced the escalation in anti-War feeling. During March and April 1969 street marches and sit-ins were held across the country, reaching a peak in May 1970 when more than 200,000 people across Australia marched in the first moratorium.
The first march to Washington against the war took place in December, 1964. Only 25,000 people took part but it was still the largest anti-war demonstration in American history. As the war continued, more and more Americans turned against it. People were particularly upset by the use of chemical weapons such as napalm and agent orange. In 1967, a group of distinguished academics under the leadership of Bertrand Russell set up the International War Crimes Tribunal. After interviewing many witnesses, they came to the conclusion that the United States was guilty of using weapons against the Vietnamese that were prohibited by international law. The United States armed forces were also found guilty of torturing captured prisoners and innocent civilians. U.S. behavior in Vietnam was even denounced as being comparable to Nazi atrocities committed in World War II.
|The Great Society – Anonymous silkscreen poster. 1967.|
|King Kong’s Song – Anonymous artist. Offset poster. 1967-1968. Published by "Black Light|
|Untitled – Anonymous artist. Offset poster. 1967. Published by Pentagonal Dodecahedron Ltd.-The Bindweed Press.|
|Untitled – Sture Johannesson. Offset poster. 1966.|
|Antiwar poster for the Student Mobilization Committee, 1969, Richard Avedon and Marvin Israel Photograph by Richard Avedon|
|Vietnam Referendum ’70, Let the People Vote on War!, 1970 |
The Vietnam Referendum ’70 was a Cambridge-based anti-war collective that pursued an immediate Vietnam withdrawal vote. This poster was one of their many tools to promote that agenda
It wasn't until Johnson began his massive bombing campaign against North Vietnam in 1965 that the Antiwar Movement actually found its roots and dug in. Words like "counter culture", "establishment", "nonviolence", "pacification", "draft-dodger", "free love", "Kent State", and "Woodstock" were added to the American vocabulary. It was the beginning of the hippie generation, the sexual revolution and the drug culture. In that year, David Miller publicly burnt his draft card and was sentenced to two and a half years in prison. His actions inspired others and throughout America, young people on college and university campuses all around the country began to organise protests against the war. Teach-ins and student organizations like the SDS (Students for a Democratic Society) held rallies and marches, the first of which happened in Washington in April of 1965. Over the next 2 years the anti-war movement snow balled. Activists, celebrities and musicians like Abbie Hoffmann, Timothy Leary, Allen Ginsberg, Jane Fonda, Jefferson Airplane, and countless others took up the Anti-war cause and waved Anti-war banners. Their speeches and their music reflected the anger and hopelessness that Americans felt over the Vietnam war. Between 1963 and 1973, 9,118 men were prosecuted for refusing to be drafted into the army. The most famous of these (an interesting tidbit in my opinion) was Muhammad Ali, the world heavyweight boxing champion .Students in particular began protesting at what they considered was an attack on people’s right to decide for themselves whether they wanted to fight for their country.
Swedish NLF activists took to the streets: they held appeal rallies, stood outside grocery stores and liquor stores and sold magazines and collected donations. They also inspired a lot of people who were far outside their own organization and helped make the anti-Vietnam war movement the strongest in the western world. For instance, 50 000 people demonstrated on the First of May on Norra Bantorget in Stockholm. Prime Minister of Sweden Olof Palme delivered a powerful condemnation of the American bombings of Hanoi at Christmastime that same year.
The war in Vietnam is illegal and immoral. The question is, What can we do to stop that war? What can we do to stop the people who, in the name of America, are killing babies, women, and children? We have to say to ourselves that there’s a higher law than the law of a fool named Rusk; there’s a higher law than the law of a buffoon named Johnson. It’s the law of each of us. We will not murder anybody who they say kill, and if we decide to kill, ‘were’ going to decide who it shall be. This country will only stop the war in Vietnam when the young men who are made to fight it begin to say, "Hell, no, we aren’t going."
There isn’t one organization that has begun to meet our stand on the war in Vietnam. We not only say we are against the war in Vietnam; we are against the draft. No man has the right to take a man for two years and train him to be a killer. Any black man fighting in the war in Vietnam is nothing but a black mercenary. Any time a black man leaves the country where he can’t vote to supposedly deliver the vote to somebody else, he’s a black mercenary. Any time a black man leaves this country, gets shot in Vietnam on foreign ground, and returns home and you won’t give him a burial place in his own homeland, he’s a black mercenary. Black Power by Stokely Carmichael, 1966, Berkeley, California
On Feb. 1, 1960, four black college students, Joseph McNeil, Franklin McCain, David Richmond and Ezell Blair, sat down at a “whites-only” lunch counter at a Woolworth’s in Greensboro, N.C., and refused to leave after being denied service. Additional students joined them over the following weeks and months, and sit-in protests spread through North Carolina to other states in the South. By April of that year the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) was founded by the leaders of the sit-in protest movement, and Martin Luther King, Jr. and others encouraged the SNCC to serve as the youth wing of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). However, the students remained ﬁercely independent of King and SCLC, generating their own projects and strategies.
SNCC’s emergence as a force in the southern civil rights movement came largely through the involvement of students in the 1961 Freedom Rides, designed to test a 1960 Supreme Court ruling that declared segregation in interstate travel facilities unconstitutional. The Congress of Racial Equality initially sponsored the Freedom Rides that began in May 1961, but segregationists viciously attacked riders traveling through Alabama. Students from Nashville, under the leadership of Diane Nash, resolved to ﬁnish the rides. Once the new group of freedom riders demonstrated their determination to continue the rides into Mississippi, other students joined the movement.
The voting rights demonstrations that began in 1965 in Selma, Alabama, sparked increasingly bitter ideological debates within SNCC, as some actvists openly challenged the group’s previous commitment to nonviolent tactics and its willingness to allow the participation of white activists. The Stokeley Carmicheal faction within SNCC did not trust whites, and since whites could not be trusted, then blacks would have to do everything for themselves if they were to control their own political and economic destiny.
In May 1966 SNCC’s election Carmichael was voted as the chairman. During the month following his election, Carmichael publicly expressed SNCC’s new political mantra ‘‘Black Power’’and soon during his speeches when he shouted out "What do we want ?", the crowd's responded: "Black Power", and the cry got louder and louder by each day. Carmichael and his supporters saw "Black Power" as a way of resurrecting "Black Pride" and African-American culture. Carmichael stated in 1966:
"We have to do what every group in this country did - we gotta take over the community where we outnumber people so we can have decent jobs."In his 1967 book, Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community? King agreed with Carmichael, stating;
SNCC staff members are eminently correct when they point out that in Lowndes County, Alabama, there are no white liberals or moderates and no possibility for cooperation between the races at the present time.Nevertheless, he maintained that over the longer run;
effective political power for Negroes cannot come through separatism’’ (King, 48).
After the Selma to Montgomery March, Stokely Carmichael and other SNCC organizers entered the rural area between Selma and Montgomery the notorious Lowndes County Alabama, not a single black person in this county, whose population was 80 percent Black, was registered to vote. In fact, no Black person in this county nicknamed “Bloody Lowndes” was known to have been registered to vote in the entire 20th century. Remarkably, in less than a year, despite violence that included the murder and the attempted murders of civil rights organizers, Blacks were a majority of the registered voters in Lowndes County. This success in voter registration was assisted by the August 1965 signing into law of the Voting Rights Act.
Carmichael promoted the idea of an independent Black political party. That party, the Lowndes County Freedom Organization (LCFO) pioneered the development of written and visual materials clearly illustrating through words and pictures the importance of the vote. In 1966, the LCFO, which its symbol was a black panther, fielded candidates for county offices and the party’s instructions were simple: “Pull the Black Panther lever and go home. Inspired by LCFO success, in October 1966 Bobby Seale and Huey Newton formed the Black Panther Party (BPP) in Oakland, California, aiming to overthrow the oppression of the black people in the United States. They rejected any assistance from the white liberals, adhering to the argument that:
What does it mean if black people, once having the right to organize, are not allowed to organize themselves? It means that blacks' ideas about inferiority are being reinforced. Shouldn't people be able to organize themselves? Blacks should be given this right. Further, white participation means in the eyes of the black community that whites are the "brains" behind the movement, and that blacks cannot function without whites. This only serves to perpetuate existing attitudes within the existing society, i.e., blacks are "dumb," "unable to take care of business," etc. Whites are "smart," the "brains" behind the whole thing.
Within a couple of years the Black Panthers in Oakland were feeding over 10,000 children every day before they went to school.The leaders of the Black Panthers were influenced by the ideas expressed by Malcolm X in the final months of his life. The Panthers therefore argued for international working class unity and supported joint action with white revolutionary groups. The Black Panthers eventually developed into a Marxist revolutionary group. The activities of the Black Panthers came to the attention of J. Edgar Hoover and the FBI. Hoover described the Panthers as "the greatest threat to the internal security of the country" and in November 1968 ordered the FBI to employ "hard-hitting counter-intelligence measures to cripple the Black Panthers". Prominent members of the Black Panthers included Stokely Carmichael, H. Rap Brown, Fred Hampton, Fredrika Newton, Eldridge Cleaver, Kathleen Cleaver, David Hilliard, Angela Davis, Bobby Hutton and Elaine Brown.
The Black Panthers had chapters in several major cities and had a membership of over 2,000. Harassed by the police, members became involved in several shoot-outs. This included an exchange of fire between Panthers and the police at Oakland on 28th October, 1967. Huey Newton was wounded and while in hospital was charged with killing a police officer. The following year he was found guilty of voluntary manslaughter. On 6th April, 1968 eight BPP members, including Eldridge Cleaver, Bobby Hutton and David Hilliard, were traveling in two cars when they were ambushed by the Oakland police. Cleaver and Hutton ran for cover and found themselves in a basement surrounded by police. The building was fired upon for over an hour. When a tear-gas canister was thrown into the basement the two men decided to surrender. Cleaver was wounded in the leg and so Hutton said he would go first. When he left the building with his hands in the air he was shot twelve times by the police and was killed instantly.
In the early hours of the 4th December, 1969, the Panther headquarters in Chicago was raided by the police. The police later claimed that the Panthers opened fire and a shoot-out took place. During the next ten minutes Fred Hampton and Mark Clark were killed. Witnesses claimed that Hampton was wounded in the shoulder and then executed by a shot to the head. The panthers left alive were arrested and charged with attempting to murder the police. Afterwards, ballistic evidence revealed that only one bullet had been fired by the Panthers whereas nearly a hundred came from police guns.
In 1961 Angela Davis enrolled in Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts. While at Brandeis, Davis also studied abroad for a year in France and returned to the U.S. to complete her studies, joining Phi Beta Kappa and earning her B.A. in 1965. Even before her graduation, Davis, so moved by the deaths of the four girls killed in the bombing of Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in her hometown in 1963, that she decided to join the civil rights movement. By 1967, however, Davis was influenced by Black Power advocates and joined the SNCC and then the Black Panther Party. She also continued her education, earning an M.A. from the University of California at San Diego in 1968. Davis moved further to the left in the same year when she became a member of the American Communist Party. In 1969 Angela Davis was hired by the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) as an assistant professor of philosophy, but her involvement in the Communist Party led to her dismissal. During the early 1970s she also became active in the movement to improve prison conditions for inmates. That work led to her campaign to release the “Soledad (Prison) Brothers." The Soledad Brothers were two African American prisoners and Black Panther Party members, George Jackson and W. L. Nolen, who met each other 1966.
Nolen introduced Jackson to Marxist and Maoist ideology. Jackson’s Soledad Brother was published in the fall of 1970. His book Blood in My Eye was published posthumously in the fall of 1971. These were political manifestos, which became bestsellers and brought the radical prisoner a great deal of international attention.
I met Marx, Lenin, Trotsky, Engels, and Mao when I entered prison and they redeemed me. For the first four years, I studied nothing but economics and military ideas. I met black guerrillas—George “Big Jake” Lewis, and James Carr, W.L. Nolen, Bill Christmas, Torry Gibson.…We attempted to transform the black criminal mentality into a black revolutionary mentality. —Soledad Brother: The Prison Letters of George Jackson
Jackson's prison letters he authored between 1964 and 1970 showcase him as a young man grappling with a cruel and unjust society towards the black youth. In his intimate letters to Georgia and Lester Jackson, the son honestly struggles to comprehend and make sense of the American economic system and its values and their impacts on the black families like his own. His letters portray him as a deeply curious and analytic reader who carefully explores the ideas of various socialist thinkers, ideologues and activists as Che Guevara, Frantz Fanon, Karl Marx, Vladimir Lenin, Leon Trotsky, and Mao Zedong. Jackson was inspired by the powerful events of the Cuban revolution and the struggle of the people of Vietnam, as well as the anti-colonial rebellions going on all over the globe.
Jackson became one of the most prominent intellectual and activist prisoner. While in Soledad Prison Jackson and W. L. Nolen, established a chapter of the Black Panthers and later Jackson became a Field Marshal of the Black Panthers Party. In 1966 he co-founded, with W.L. Nolen, the Black Guerrilla Family, which was rooted in the ideas of Marx and Mao. In 1969, Jackson and Nolen were transferred to Soledad Prison. Jackson's political transformation was seen as insincere by prison officials, with San Quentin associate warden commenting that Jackson "was a sociopath, a very personable hoodlum" who "didn’t give a shit about the revolution". On January 16, 1970, the three of Soledad Brothers, George Jackson, Fleeta Drumgo and John Clutchette were charged with the murder of a white prison guard John V. Mills at in retaliation for the shooting deaths of three black Muslim prisoners during a prison fight in the Soledad's exercise yard.
Jackson was born in Chicago and moved with his family to Los Angeles at the age of 14 As a teen, he had a number of juvenile problems, which landed him in trouble with the police and resulted in him spending time in the Youth Authority Corrections facility in Paso Robles, CA. At 16, he was accused of stealing $71 from a gas station for which he received an indeterminate sentence of one year to life in which his case was reviewed annually. Jackson was never granted parole and spent the rest of his life in prison. In 1962 he was transferred to San Quentin Prison for a series of infractions. There he came under the tutelage of an older inmate, W. L. Nolen. Under Nolen's influence Jackson began to see his crimes and imprisonment in a political context, and he quickly became a leader among the growing faction of politically-charged inmates at San Quentin. He developed strong ideas viewing capitalism as the source of the oppression of people of color, and became the leader in the politicization of Black and Chicano prisoners in Soledad. The fate of the Soledad Brothers became an international cause célèbre, which focused on the treatment of blacks in prison. The publication of Jackson’s book "Soledad Brother" that same year added to his visibility. For many supporters, the issue was the belief that the Soledad Brothers were victims of a prison conspiracy.
On August 7, 1970, George’s 17-year-old brother Jonathan burst into a Marin County courtroom with automatic weapons, freed three San Quentin prisoners and took Judge Harold Haley as a hostage to demand freedom for the three "Soledad Brothers." However, Haley, prisoners William Christmas and James McClain, and Jonathan Jackson were killed as they attempted to drive away from the courthouse. The case made international headlines. The state claimed that Judge Haley was hit by fire discharged from a shotgun inside the vehicle during the incident. The weapon was said to have been attached by wiring, tape, and/or a strap of some sort, and/or held beneath his chin. The shotgun was traced back to Angela Davis
One year later in August 1971, three days before he was to go on trial, George was gunned down in the prison yard at San Quentin in what officials described as an escape attempt. Jackson’s death was eulogized by Archie Shepp, Bob Dylan and Steel Pulse songs, such as Shepp's “Blues for Brother George Jackson”, Attica Blues album, Dylan's “George Jackson” and the British reggae band, Steel Pulse's “Uncle George” on their 1977 album Tribute To The Martyrs.
Some of the most important organizations involved in the struggle for liberation were the African National Congress (ANC), the Pan-Africanist Congress (PAC), the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP), the Black Consciousness Movement (BCM) and the United Democratic Front (UDF). There were also Indian and Coloured organized resistance movements (e.g. the Natal Indian Congress (NIC), the Coloured People's Organisation).
In 1960, at the black township of Sharpesville, the police opened fire on a group of unarmed blacks associated with the Pan-African Congress (PAC), an offshoot of the ANC. The group had arrived at the police station without passes, inviting arrest as an act of resistance. At least 67 blacks were killed and more than 180 wounded. Sharpesville convinced many anti-apartheid leaders that they could not achieve their objectives by peaceful means, and both the PAC and ANC established military wings, neither of which ever posed a serious military threat to the state. By 1961, most resistance leaders had been captured and sentenced to long prison terms or executed. Nelson Mandela, a founder of Umkhonto we Sizwe (“Spear of the Nation”), the military wing of the ANC, was incarcerated from 1963 to 1990; his imprisonment would draw international attention and help garner support for the anti-apartheid cause.
In 1976, when thousands of black children in Soweto, a black township outside Johannesburg, demonstrated against the Afrikaans language requirement for black African students, the police opened fire with tear gas and bullets. The protests and government crackdowns that followed, combined with a national economic recession, drew more international attention to South Africa and shattered all illusions that apartheid had brought peace or prosperity to the nation.
The United Nations General Assembly had denounced apartheid in 1973, and in 1976 the UN Security Council voted to impose a mandatory embargo on the sale of arms to South Africa. In 1985, the United Kingdom and United States imposed economic sanctions on the country. Under pressure from the international community, the National Party government of Pieter Botha sought to institute some reforms, including abolition of the pass laws and the ban on interracial sex and marriage. The reforms fell short of any substantive change, however, and by 1989 Botha was pressured to step aside in favor of F.W. de Klerk. De Klerk’s government subsequently repealed the Population Registration Act, as well as most of the other legislation that formed the legal basis for apartheid. A new constitution, which enfranchised blacks and other racial groups, took effect in 1994, and elections that year led to a coalition government with a nonwhite majority, marking the official end of the apartheid system.
|Liberation Support Movement, Rupbert Garcia New York, New York, United States 1981|
|Take the Struggle Forward, South Africa, 1986|
|FEDSAW, Western Cape, 1987|
|Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU), 4th National Congress, Nasrec Johannesburg,, 1991|
|By Rachael Romero ,|
Offset litho, designed but not drawn by Marlene Powell and produced by COSATU.
This portrait was painted from verbal descriptions by people who had visited Mandela in prison, as it was illegal to publish the photograph of a prisoner.
|This poster depicts Jabu Ndlovu, a National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa ( official, who was killed at her home after returning from a national meeting.|
Occupy Wall Street was a 21 century movement outside the old ideological frameworks of socialism, capitalism or any other "isms" in between. It was an statement in protest that the voices of "We the People" have been silenced for a long time, and finally, in 2008, the greedy Wall Street bankers nearly ruined the country. They were then bailed out by corrupt politicians, and soon the greedy bankers were back at it again. Meanwhile, average Americans who could not find a job were getting thrown out of their homes. The U.S. political system has become corrupt. Big corporations, lobbyists, and lawyers were taking advantage of the taxpayers.
On August 4, 1822, James Madison, one of the Founding Fathers of the US confederation wrote to W. T. Barry ;
A popular government without popular information, or the means of acquiring it, is but a prologue to a farce or a tragedy, or perhaps both. Knowledge will forever govern ignorance, and a people who mean to be their own governors must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives.
For far too long the governments of elites, no matter being popular or unpopular, have operated "without popular information," Occupy Wall Street and all the other cities around the globe aim to provide the governments with "popular information". People were told that Capitalism provides the most efficient way for generating wealth and its distribution. But, they are not told that in a true capitalism, there are no multinationals and monopolies. All businesses are small, operating in a level playing field, where the information is transparent, and available to everybody. A system in which there is no insider trading, no favoritism towards the big oil, the big pharmaceutical, the big banks, and so on.
In that system, no sociologists like Douglas Massey can find a phenomenon like in the United States that; the income gap between the richest and poorest has dramatically widened since the 1970s, resulting in a U-curve of increasing inequality, and no Census Bureau can find that;
the number of Americans living below the official poverty line, 46.2 million people, was the highest number in the 52 years the bureau has been publishing figures on it.
our political economy is run by a compact elite that is able to fuse the power of our public government with the power of private corporate governments in ways that enable members of the elite (to freely decide) who wins, who loses, and who pays.and this is why the billionaire, Warren Buffett, complains that
My friends and I have been coddled long enough by a billionaire-friendly Congress. It’s time for our government to get serious about shared sacrifice.
Perhaps more importantly as Nicholas D. Kristof has argued in his New York Times op-ed column, Crony Capitalism Comes Home on October 26, 2011:
... In recent years, some financiers have chosen to live in a government-backed featherbed. Their platform seems to be socialism for tycoons and capitalism for the rest of us. They’re not evil at all. But when the system allows you more than your fair share, it’s human to grab. That’s what explains featherbedding by both unions and tycoons, and both are impediments to a well-functioning market economy...Capitalism is so successful an economic system partly because of an internal discipline that allows for loss and even bankruptcy. It’s the possibility of failure that creates the opportunity for triumph. Yet many of America’s major banks are too big to fail, so they can privatize profits while socializing risk.
The upshot is that financial institutions boost leverage in search of supersize profits and bonuses. Banks pretend that risk is eliminated because it’s securitized. Rating agencies accept money to issue an imprimatur that turns out to be meaningless. The system teeters, and then the taxpayer rushes in to bail bankers out. Where’s the accountability?
In fact, the Founding Fathers, like Thomas Jefferson and John Adams were giving plenty of warnings about this state of affairs. Jefferson wrote to a friend in 1816:
I hope that we shall crush in its birth the aristocracy of our monied corporations, which dare already to challenge our government to a trial of strength, and bid defiance to the laws of our country.
Abraham Lincoln, the first Republican President in a November 21, 1864 letter to Col. William F. Elkins foresaw the problem and wrote:
I see in the near future a crisis approaching that unnerves me and causes me to tremble for the safety of my country. As a result of war, corporations have been enthroned and an era of corruption in high places will follow, and the money power of the country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the people until all wealth is aggregated in a few hands, and the Republic is destroyed.
President Grover Cleveland foresaw that Corporations "are fast becoming the people’s masters" in 1888. He wrote:
As we view the achievements of aggregated capital, we discover the existence of trusts, combinations, and monopolies, while the citizen is struggling far in the rear, or is trampled beneath an iron heel. Corporations, which should be the carefully restrained creatures of the law and the servants of the people, are fast becoming the people’s masters.
Even if in the words of Theodore Roosevelt, in his Union Address of 1902, "these big aggregations are an inevitable development of modern industrialism, and the effort to destroy them would be futile" we still need to bring them under control and stop their corruptive influences. In the words of president Roosevelt:
Our aim is not to do away with corporations; on the contrary, these big aggregations are an inevitable development of modern industrialism, and the effort to destroy them would be futile unless accomplished in ways that would work the utmost mischief to the entire body politic. We can do nothing of good in the way of regulating and supervising these corporations until we fix clearly in our minds that we are not attacking the corporations, but endeavoring to do away with any evil in them. We are not hostile to them; we are merely determined that they shall be so handled as to serve the public good. We draw the line against misconduct, not against wealth.
And now "We the People" are speaking through the action which is articulated in these posters.
|Wisconsin Workers' Uprising began as a protest by a few students and teaching assistants over deep budget cuts, but quickly turned into a history making movement of working people. Was the occupation of the state capital in Madison, Wisconsin a resurgence of organized labor in the United States? Or the last gasp for unionized workers? Here is an assessment by an unsympathetic political commentator: |
When Wisconsin's government employee unions and the activist Left began their failed crusade against Gov. Scott Walker, they saw themselves as the peasants storming the castle. They compared themselves to the Tahrir Square demonstrators overthrowing oppressive Egyptian ruler Hosni Mubarak. "Solidarity!" was the watchword of the Left as Walker and the Republican legislature passed a bill curbing the collective bargaining powers of state employees and cutting some of their bloated taxpayer-funded benefits. The workingman was going to stand up to the monied special interests. They called it "the Wisconsin Uprising." But as the recall progressed, something telling happened: The labor issue faded into the background...
Unknown to most U.S. residents, International Women’s Day has its roots in a strike by female garment workers in New York City. On March 8, 1857, these textile workers marched and picketed to demand improved working conditions, a 10-hour day, and equal rights for women. The police attacked the march. On March 8, 1908, women textile workers marched again, recalling the 1857 march and demanding the vote, and an end to sweatshops and child labor. Two years later, revolutionary Clara Zetkin urged the international socialist Second International to adopt March 8th as a holiday honoring the struggle for women’s rights. The motion passed. On February 28, 1909, the first official National Woman’s Day, was held by the Socialist Party of America, in New York City. Thousands of people showed up to various events uniting the suffragist and socialist causes. Besides the fact that it celebrates women in a society primarily controlled by men, it is the socialist roots of International Women’s Day that have discouraged its celebration in the United States. After all, this is a nation that created Labor Day to prevent workers from celebrating May Day, even though that workers’ holiday was established in the United States in the late nineteenth century.
On March 19, 1911 (the 40th anniversary of the Paris Commune, a radical socialist government that briefly ruled France in 1871), the first International Woman’s Day was held, drawing more than 1 million people to rallies worldwide. On March 8, 1917, a massive demonstration led by Russian feminist Alexandra Kollontai is considered to be a link in the chain of events that led the Russian Revolution. That was the reason that Lenin declared Woman’s Day an official Soviet holiday in 1917. In 1975, the United Nations General Assembly began celebrating March 8 as International Women’s Day.
|Dia Internacional de la Mujer (International Women's Day), ca. 1980; Designed by Women's Graphics Collective (United States); USA; screenprint|
In order to separate their new feminist art from the male-dominated traditions of modern Western art, every poster was designed and completed by committee rather than by individuals. A 1973 Chicago Tribune article explained that the women, “plan[ned] their ideas at gigantic ‘poster thinks’—sessions in which people toss[ed] thoughts around until designs appear[ed]. Everyone share[d] in the dirty work, the silk screen stenciling, printing, and clean up.”[ii] Since members were already printing collective images, they were open to printing designs that originated elsewhere, using the profits from sales to support their operational costs and to showcase the wide range of the women’s movement and feminist design. This particular design represents such a use of borrowed imagery—the text at the bottom margin credits the original poster as a Cuban design.
On April 2011, during Barrick's annual general meeting, communities in Argentina and Chile protested the binational Pascua Lama project in the streets of Buenos Aires, Santiago, San Juan and Vallenar. Since project construction began in 2009, the Huasco Valley community in Chile became increasingly convinced that contrary to company promises, the project will bring only death and destruction. Chilean authorities determined that Barrick was non-compliant with a formal commitment to protect glaciers, to which Huasco Valley, located on the edge of a desert, depends for its water resources, and fined the company for its misconduct.
Toothfish, an environmental movement started as a self-described “international poster project” during 2010, aiming to raise awareness of the destruction of the earth’s natural resources. People are encouraged to remove the posters, relocate and recycle them to create or find by accident some context and meaning between the scene and the poster, with a request to document this by taking a photograph and passing the images on to toothfish.org.
Soviet graphic designers, facing various political restraints, used their artistic creativity to create some of the most beautiful environmental posters.
|“Red List protects nature” - The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, founded in 1948, is the world’s most comprehensive inventory of the global conservation status of plant and animal species.|
|“Protect birds - they are doctors of the forest”|
The Israeli Socialist Organization, better known by the name of its publication, Matzpen (Compass), formed in 1962. It was the first organization in Israel founded on principles of anti-Zionism. Its membership joined Israeli Jews and Palestinian Arabs to resist Israel’s apartheid policies. Matzpen challenged Israeli manifest destiny for twenty-five years, and its legacy continues to animate anti-Zionist organizing within Israel and around the world. The poster was designed by climate and social justice organizer Joshua Kahn Russell and anti-imperialist author Dan Berger. Russell and Berger interviewed each other over the recent Rosh Hoshana (Jewish New Year) about the poster, Jewish radicalism, and Palestinian self-determination.
|Peace Now Poster: Did you know that the settlers are only 4% of all citizens? It is time to remind the government the facts, and remember its size relating the entire population.|
|The Shalom Achshav peace movement was founded in 1978 during the peace talks with Egypt. During the first Lebanon War (1982) the movement organized the largest demonstration ever held in Israel, when around 400,000 people (out of a population of 5.5 million) demonstrated in Tel Aviv to end the war. The lot includes posters published during the Lebanon War, posters commemorating to the first and second anniversary of the assassination of Emil Grunzweig, invitations to demonstrations and various political slogans, amongst them "Separate into Two States", "Save Peace", "The Majority Wants Peace", "Soldiers recruited in 1998 do not want to die in the next war", "Now – Sit and Talk", and more. Sizes and conditions vary. One poster of the "Geneva Accord"|
|The posters, designed by David Tartakover, show the famous photo by David Rubinger of Israeli soldiers standing next to the Western Wall in June 1967, just after taking control of the area, with the slogans "Weeping for Generations" and "35 Years of Occupation" embossed on the image. The posters are meant to promote a concert and rally at the Tel Aviv port next Friday." Source: Ha'aretz|
|A poster by Ido (Sany) Arazi of Peace Now, inspired by the famous photo of Begin, Sadat and Carter shaking hands at the culmination of the Camp David Accords|
|Peace Now: (large text) First they push Torah (small text) After that they push soldiers, (text at bottom) They don’t have God, We must evacuate Hebron,|
|Peace Now: the word for "hell" is misspelled to include the word “Aza”, the Hebrew term for the Gaza, small text: another land invasion, January ’09|
Ahmed Ebrahim, a graphic designer from Cairo, Egypt has created this project for Amnesty International. These series of poster are a commentary on political corruption in Egypt of after the military coup.
|The Idle No More movement has quickly gained momentum, particularly with a new generation of young, social-media savvy First Nations activists of Canada. Thousands have used the #idlenomore hashtag on Twitter to debate issues and spread information about upcoming protests.|
|Poster by Dwayne Bird, a New Media Designer based in Winnipeg as part of his contribution to the Idle No More grassroots movement.|
The campaign was started by four women from Saskatchewan against a number of bills before Parliament. They are particularly critical of Bill C-45, the government’s omnibus budget legislation, which they say weakens environmental laws. “We started discussing that and felt that we need to bring attention to this legislation,” said Jessica Gordon, one of the four, who lives in Saskatoon.
Justseeds Artists’ Cooperative is a decentralized network of 24 artists committed to making print and design work that reflects a radical social, environmental, and political stance. With members working from the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. They believe in the transformative power of personal expression in concert with collective action.
|Josh MacPhee, hand printed by Kevin Caplicki,|
The screen print features the artwork of Asian movement artist Tomie Arai.
Sue Simensky Bietila
A celebration of the 2011 takeover of the capital in Madison, Wisconsin by workers and their supporters.
This print was made for the portfolio Migration Now. It calls for an end to the detention system and an end to the abuse of immigrants’ rights. With the proliferation of laws and enforcement policies that seek to criminalize immigrants in the U.S., immigration detention has become a fast growing form of incarceration. The for-profit detention industry is growing, in spite of the fact that detention facilities have been found to subject people to physical, psychological, and sexual abuse. ICE and its supporters continue to defend the substandard conditions of detention centers, denying that people’s human rights are being violated" [With a very special thanks to the artist Molly Fair, who has kindly provided the information on this stunningly powerful poster, correcting some errors in the previous details].
Honoring the life of the Mexican Revolutionary Emiliano Zapata Salazar on this El Dia de Muertos (The Day of the Dead). Starting Oct. 31 every year, Mexicans honor the saints with tokens of “what you would assume saints would like,”
Acteal: Sowing Seeds of Memory to Harvest Justice. Acteal is a small Tzotzil community in the municipality of Chenalhó part of the Mexican state of Chiapas. This community mainly formed by members of the organization Las Abejas (The Bees) were victims of a massacre the 22nd of December 1997 by a PRI party sponsored Mascaras Rojas paramilitary group. This piece is dedicated to Manuel Vazquez Luna survivor of the Acteal massacre and friend. (1984-2012)
Hana Shalabi, by Sanya Hyland
Hana Shalabi, a Palestinian activist, has been compared to Winnie Mandela for her nonviolent civil disobedience in protest of her "administrative detention" by Israel. After a 43-day hunger strike in which she became seriously ill, Shalabi was released from Ramleh Prison Hospital in April 2012 under the condition that she be expelled to the Gaza Strip for a period of three years, far from her home in the West Bank.
|Garage Collective was set up in Jared Davidson's garage in Christchurch, Aotearoa/New Zealand around August 2007, with the explicit intention of avoiding the design and advertising industry. |
The New Zealand Federation of Labor, the Red Feds, was the first significant NZ labor organization. Deeply influenced by the IWW (Industrial Workers of the World), the Red Feds worked between 1908 and 1913 to unite the various trades together for class struggle, revolutionary unionism and the abolishing of capitalism.
|Jared Davidson, Garage Collective|
|Abigail Miller/Ezra Nepon|
New Jewish Agenda (1980-1992) was a national membership organization with the slogan "a Jewish voice among progressives and a progressive voice among Jews." NJA practiced participatory grassroots democracy with over 45 local chapters, and organized for justice through National Taskforces on Middle East Peace, Worldwide Nuclear Disarmament, Economic and Social Justice, Central American Solidarity, and Jewish Feminism. NJA took radical stances on the rights of Palestinians and Queer Jews, and organized a Jewish presence in movements throughout the 1980s. NJA's work included: petitioning the Council of Jewish Federations for a Settlement Freeze on the West Bank in 1983, organizing synagogues to join the Sanctuary Movement for Central American refugees, discrediting Reagan's attempts to mobilize Jewish support for the Contras, working in solidarity with anti-Apartheid activists, and organizing a successful dialogue between Jewish, African-American, and Arab women for the 1985 UN Decade for Women NGO Forum. Jewish activists from a wide range of religious and secular communities coalesced in NJA, building power and analysis that continue to illuminate progressive Jewish activism.
Wirikuta is a site sacred to the Wixarica (Huichol) Indigenous tribe in the state of San Luis Potosi, in northern Mexico. Like many sites sacred to indigenous nations across the globe, Wirikuta is facing desecration in the name of capitalist expansion and natural resource extraction. First Majestic Silver, a Canadian mining company is planning to open a massive mine that will destroy this sacred place and the habitat of thousands of species.
|Rodney Watson by Pete Yahnke Railand
"I'd rather do my time in jail than be a party to the racism I saw in Iraq. As an African-American, I grew up with racism. But in Iraq, I saw the same kind of abuse and mistreatment, only this was U.S. enlisted soldiers and American contractors, like security forces, abusing Iraqis."Rodney Watson a 29 year old Army Spc. from Kansas City, MO. served 12 months in Iraq. He refused to return and was seeking refuge in Vancouver, Canada.
|Favianna Rodriguez, International Women's Day,|
|"To Protect & Serve? Five Decades of Posters Protesting Police Violence,"|
In recent years, alleged police brutality has been at the heart of several high-profile cases both in the news and on social media. The Black Lives Matter and Hands Up United movements began in direct response to it. It made an unlikely icon out of Colin Kaepernick and inspired other athletes to take a knee during the national anthem. It led to protests across the country and sparked a national conversation.
In 2007, American activist Tarana Burke used the term “Me Too” to raise awareness and stand with victims of sexual abuse. A decade later, the hashtag went viral as women came forward to accuse powerful men of harassment and misconduct.
#MeToo evolved into a global movement, generating new or spinoff hashtags in many languages. It has impacted countries around the world — and has also been transformed by them. In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, activism on women’s rights and gender-based violence did not ceased. If anything, in some cases, it gained new urgency online.
The movement’s momentum amplified public debate and activism to end sexual harassment and violence in many countries, including Afghanistan, France, India, Mexico, Nigeria, South Korea, and Tunisia.
While the high-profile cases of sexual harassment and violence exposed largely focused on rich, famous, and powerful men in the entertainment industry, government, and journalism, #MeToo has also highlighted other sectors where this abuse is endemic – and invisible. This includes low-wage sectors such as domestic work, the hospitality sector, and agriculture.
The ‘yellow vest’ protests began after the French government’s decision in late 2017 to raise a direct tax on diesel in an effort to fight against climate change. Since then crude oil prices surged, making diesel prohibitively expensive for many who relied on their cars to get to and from work, especially in rural areas.The “yellow vests” were named after the hi-vis tops motorists are obliged to carry in their vehicles under French law in case of a breakdown. The movement transformed into a general protest against French President Emmanuel Macron’s administration. Around 50,000 “yellow vest” protesters were taking part in more than 1,000 demonstrations nationwide, according to the interior ministry.
“At a roundabout blocked by the gilets jaunes, a man in his car hit a truck in front of him. The driver of the car died,” a city spokeswoman told CNN. Protesters appeared disorganized, with scattered groups walking randomly across the capital. A few hundred protesters cordoned by police marched toward the Madeleine Church near the presidential Elysee Palace but were stopped in a small adjacent street. Tempers frayed and police with batons fired tear gas to repel a few demonstrators trying to break through a police line.
|A poster with a yellow vest on the facade of the town hall of Morbecque (North), November 15, 2018.|
(FRANCOIS LO PRESTI / AFP)
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License.