FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Stories From the Underground

The concept of underground political activism in the United States is currently a remote fantasy. I say that without making a judgement one way or the other about the morality or political efficacy of such activism. Despite the efforts of the FBI and other government agencies aligned with the Department of Homeland Security to entrap unsuspecting (or emotionally unstable) citizens to perform armed acts against the corporate state, the fact is there really is no organized left-leaning underground political movement of any substance in today’s United States. Even if one considers the entrapment, trial and convictions of a couple groups of young men charged with conspiracies to blow up bridges and the like earlier this century (the five young anarchists arrested for conspiracy and NATO 3 come to mind), those cases do not represent a movement. The same can be said for the sporadic cases involving young people who have converted to Islam, are opposed to US military intervention in predominantly Muslim nations and are then set up by federal agencies.41DCwCwIqKL._SX311_BO1,204,203,200_

This was not the case in the 1970s and early 1980s. The Black Liberation Army, Puerto Rican independentistas, the Weather Underground, SLA, and other similar groups not only made headlines with their actions, they also enjoyed some popular support. Indeed, as something of an indication of their numbers, dozens of their former members are in prison around the nation. Most of these political prisoners will never get out of prison, especially in today’s political climate where virtually all extralegal (and a fair amount of legal) political activity from the left is considered terrorism by the powers that be.

This is the context of Diana Block’s new novel, Clandestine Occupations: An Imaginary History. Block, who spent over a dozen years underground because of activities related to her political activity in the Puerto Rican independence movement and was also a member of the Prairie Fire Organizing Committee—a group which began as an aboveground support organization for the Weather Underground, has written an emotionally taut and politically discursive tale. Centered around the lives of three generations of women whose lives are entangled in a web of love, politics, work and children, Clandestine Occupations takes the reader on a journey over four decades, at several cities, and numerous political groups. Over the course of this journey, the reader is exposed to a thought process where people of all races, genders and ages put ideals of social justice and liberation ahead of their own individual desires and goals.

Not only is this book informed by Block’s political life and her involvement with the Puerto Rican independentista movement of the 1980s, it also plucks events and individuals from today’s news. The case of her character Rahim, a Black Panther once known as Clarence Jackson, reminded this reader not only of the political prisoner Mumia Abu Jamal, but also of the recently acquitted defendants in the case known as the San Francisco Eight. Additionally, by setting some of the book in the antiwar protests of 2003 and the Oakland Occupy encampment of 2011, Block simultaneously reminds the reader of the omnipresence of political protest, its similarities and differences, and the never ending determination of the powerful to neutralize those who oppose their designs.

Working with a subversively restrained prose that evokes powerful emotions, Diana Block tells a heartrending and intellectually appealing story of a group of modern women interconnected through politics, family and love.  Multi-generational, the women’s stories weave in and out of a loom created by forces often beyond their control. Intellectually and spiritually informed by a woman’s perspective, Clandestine Occupations is reminiscent of the best work of writers like Doris Lessing and Marge Piercy—who have also tread the path of fictionalizing revolutionary struggle in the belly of the modern Empire. By the same token, it is more than women’s literature. Indeed, it is revolutionary literature of a very high order.

More articles by:

Ron Jacobs is the author of Daydream Sunset: Sixties Counterculture in the Seventies published by CounterPunch Books. His latest offering is a pamphlet titled Capitalism: Is the Problem.  He lives in Vermont. He can be reached at: ronj1955@gmail.com.

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

April 22, 2019
Melvin Goodman
The NYTs Tries to Rehabilitate Bloody Gina Haspel
Robert Fisk
After ISIS, a Divided Iraq, Wounded and Grief-Stricken
Binoy Kampmark
Julian Assange as Neuroses
John Laforge
Chernobyl’s Deadly Effects Estimates Vary
Kenneth Surin
Mueller Time? Not for Now
Cesar Chelala
Yemen: The Triumph of Barbarism
Kerron Ó Luain
What the “White Irish Slaves” Meme Tells Us About Identity Politics
Andy Piascik
Grocery Store Workers Take on Billion Dollar Multinational
Seiji Yamada – Gregory G. Maskarinec
Health as a Human Right: No Migrants Need Apply
Howard Lisnoff
Loose Bullets and Loose Cannons
Ricardo Alarcón de Quesada
Dreaming in Miami
Graham Peebles
Consuming Stuff: The Polluting World of Fashion
Robert Dodge
Earth Day: Our Planet in Peril
Weekend Edition
April 19, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Andrew Levine
What Will It Take For Trump to Get His Due?
Roy Eidelson
Is the American Psychological Association Addicted to Militarism and War?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Time is Blind, Man is Stupid
Joshua Frank
Top 20 Mueller Report “Findings”
Rob Urie
Why Russiagate Will Never Go Away
Paul Street
Stephen Moore Gets Something Right: It’s Capitalism vs. Democracy
Russell Mokhiber
Why Boeing and Its Executives Should be Prosecuted for Manslaughter
T.J. Coles
The Battle for Latin America: How the U.S. Helped Destroy the “Pink Tide”
Ron Jacobs
Ho Chi Minh City: Nguyen Thai Binh Street
Dean Baker
Fun Fictions in Economics
David Rosen
Trump’s One-Dimensional Gender Identity
Kenn Orphan
Notre Dame: We Have Always Belonged to Her
Robert Hunziker
The Blue Ocean Event and Collapsing Ecosystems
Theodore C. Van Alst, Jr.
Paddy Wagon
Brett Wilkins
Jimmy Carter: US ‘Most Warlike Nation in History of the World’
John W. Whitehead
From Jesus Christ to Julian Assange: When Dissidents Become Enemies of the State
Nick Pemberton
To Never Forget or Never Remember
Stephen Cooper
My Unforgettable College Stabbings
Louis Proyect
A Leftist Rejoinder to the “Capitalist Miracle”
Louisa Willcox
Aldo Leopold’s Land Ethic and the Need for a New Approach to Managing Wildlife
Brian Cloughley
Britain Shakes a Futile Fist and Germany Behaves Sensibly
Jessicah Pierre
A Revolutionary Idea to Close the Racial Wealth Divide
George Burchett
Revolutionary Journalism
Dan Bacher
U.S. Senate Confirms Oil Lobbyist David Bernhardt as Interior Secretary
Nicky Reid
The Strange Success of Russiagate
Chris Gilbert
Defending Venezuela: Two Approaches
Todd Larsen
The Planetary Cost of Amazon’s Convenience
Kelly Martin
How the White House is Spinning Earth Day
Nino Pagliccia
Cuba and Venezuela: Killing Two Birds With a Stone
Matthew Stevenson
Pacific Odyssey: Guadalcanal and Bloody Ridge, Solomon Islands
David Kattenburg
Trudeau’s Long Winter
Gary Olson
A Few Comments on the recent PBS Series: Reconstruction: America After the Civil War
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail