Publishing and organizing
Support The Volcano in 2020!
In 2015 The Volcano launched as a newspaper to record and encourage the development of a new movement against displacement and dispossession. Until then, The Volcano had been called the Downtown East and was published as an organ of the Downtown Eastside Neighbourhood Council (DNC), a group of low-income Downtown Eastside residents that was fighting gentrification and for the rights of renters and homeless people in that neighbourhood in particular. We changed the name of the newspaper because we decided to shift our focus in publishing, and organizing, to support communities in struggle throughout British Columbia rather than just one neighbourhood. The work of organizing has always been tied to the work of publishing The Volcano.
The energies of the editors of The Volcano are also bound up in community organizing struggles. This double-duty is helpful for the insights and knowledge we gain. Because we are involved intimately with communities that are fighting against the regulation and control of homeless people in Maple Ridge, we know that Mayor Morden’s claim that he evacuated and took control over Anita Place tent city because of “fire risk” was a cynical ruse. Because we have been on the ground for every twist and turn of the struggle of renters against condo-development eviction and displacement in Metrotown, we know that the Burnaby Mayor’s “moratorium” on demovictions played politics with people’s lives and homes, it did not stop displacement. This knowledge comes from bitter experience earned so close to affected communities that we feel it ourselves.
As thinkers and writers, we do not rely only on archival research and the reports of others that we synthesize into general knowledge to be consumed. As organizers, we are part of producing the conditions that knowledge emerges from, and as writers and publishers we reproduce knowledge in pursuit of political transformation – to better understand our organizing and the experiences of our communities, and to influence the thinking and activities of others in our communities.
Before we can commute the pains of experience into explanation, our knowledge takes shape as intuition. We felt that Maple Ridge Mayor Morden’s “fire risk” justification was a power grab before we could explain it. Before we could justify the suspicion, our guts told us Burnaby Mayor Hurley’s “moratorium on demovictions” was bullshit. Expressing our learned intuition is not enough if we want to convert our feelings into useful knowledge. Ours is what theorist James C. Scott calls “partisan knowledge;” the “ability and experience necessary to influence the outcome – to improve the odds – in a particular instance.”
Our partisan knowledge and commitments mean we do not carry the bourgeois-institutional stamp of authenticity of journalists or academics, but we are intellectuals. Italian communist theorist Antonio Gramsci argues that intellectuals are not a special, distinct social group or class in society. Every class, he says, have their own necessary wing of intellectuals, who abstract the specific experiences of people in that class and translate them into analysis and prescriptions for action. Intellectuals emerge organically from every class and significant social group. The ruling class seeks to recruit them out of their subordinate classes into their service in mainstream media and universities. But intellectuals exist before they are recruited into bourgeois and colonial institutions, they do not necessarily work in service of dominating power as part of these dominating institutions.
The Volcano is a resistant institution. We publish our own newspaper in order to do intellectual work committed not to the dominating order but to the independent interests of working class and Indigenous communities against capitalist and colonial power. The downside of this commitment is that we sometimes get carried away by the demands of community struggles and our publishing – at the very moment that it is needed the most – sometimes falls off.
We started 2019 with plans to publish a print copy of The Volcano every month, and then after a single issue in January, the City of Maple Ridge started a long siege on Anita Place tent city and three of our editors were arrested. We then published online only sporadically and in print, for a few months, not at all.
There is no surefire way to make sure we keep publishing while our editors are under the immediate pressure of also playing leading roles in the survival struggles of communities. But without the resistant intellectual work of abstracting our community experiences and prescribing action, we run the risk of leaving the analysis, interpretation, and production of knowledge about these critical struggles of our time to professionals in the employ of our enemies.
As we find ourselves in the tailing months of the year, finally publishing a new issue of The Volcano, our plan is to make clear the purpose of different forms of publishing that we do. Our print newspapers, which we are determined to release regularly, will be a tool of struggle. The newspapers will amplify the voices of people in struggle in Indigenous and working class communities, spreading what we call “social movement journalism.”
We will continue publishing our online newsletters, which include this social movement journalism, but also have space for longer, theory and analysis writing. This theory and analysis writing will be collected in booklets, rather than in newspapers, and distributed internationally in order to expand our interactions with people in struggle throughout all continents of the earth.
This summer, our editors and other members of Alliance Against Displacement took part in three international conferences: the International League of People’s Struggles in Hong Kong; Socialism 2019 in Chicago, and; the Red Nation conference in New Mexico. We brought some pamphlet-versions of our articles to these conferences but felt the need for more; for booklets that collect and expand our theory work on pressing political questions.
This fall, in order to support the tent city tour of British Columbia organized by Alliance Against Displacement and the June 8th Poor People’s Network, we published, along with a long-overdue print edition of The Volcano newspaper, two ‘zines and our first book.
All sustaining donors to The Volcano will receive a copy of these ‘zines, which are based on the themes decided on at a gathering of tent city delegates this summer: “Abolish Supportive Housing,” and “Stop the War on the Poor.” Donors will also receive a copy of the book that contains a record of the discussions at the tent city movement gathering that happened on June 8th in Victoria, To Build a Poor People’s Movement. You can download the pdfs of this book and these pamphlets on our new “Volcano Books” page here, and you can read more about the June 8th gathering in upcoming articles and the next print issue of The Volcano in January.
Sustaining donors to The Volcano will receive everything that we publish in 2020. On top of the organizing-oriented newspaper publishing, we are planning to produce booklets about Sinophobia and Canada’s position in an anti-China global realignment; fascism and the meanings of anti-homeless hatred, and more.
We welcome the involvement of people in communities in struggle, and of thinkers and scholars committed to revolutionary anti-colonial and anti-capitalist projects to contact us and get involved in this work. The Volcano publishes a broad range of forms of writing: from the most concrete notes from the field, to more abstract theoretical study. The Volcano is a tool for our movements, and we depend on the contributions of movement fighters to sharpen this tool.
To pitch an article or for more information about getting involved in The Volcano email us at firstname.lastname@example.org