It’s important to make a distinction between workers who produce surplus value and service employees, because the entire capitalist economy rests on the surplus value generated in the production of commodities. This is the only new value produced in capitalist society, and it is generated in the labor process itself, as the worker is making physical commodities that can be bought and sold. That’s what exploitation is: taking this value produced by the worker.
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Here’s an interview I did for the largest Athens (Greece) daily paper, about “The Beginning of the American Fall.”
What I sent them, answering their questions, is below (I’m not sure what, from this, was actually used)…
1) How does it feel to be one of the few women in the cartoon world?
It’s hard to make a living as a cartoonist, no matter the gender. In the last decade or so, being female has become much less of a novelty in the cartoon/comics world. I actually don’t think about that very much. In some instances it has probably been one factor (secondary, among others) when I’ve been passed over for jobs or received lower pay, but I can’t control that, so I move on, and keep trying a lot of different things to get my work seen and to find ways of making an income from it. My (far left) political views are actually much more of an obstacle to achieving the traditional view of “success” than anything else. Not to mention the collapse of print media. These have been much more significant factors for me.
2) Politics and cartoons. An uneasy bond?
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Here’s an article I wrote for Salty Eggs.
Our worst nightmares reverberate with the prediction of respected scientist James Hansen: if we don’t stop TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline, then it’s “game over” for stabilizing the climate. With final US governmental approval (or not) to complete the pipeline looming, struggle over it is intensifying.
In late January, representatives from more than 25 First Nations in what is currently known as Canada and the US met in South Dakota to pledge mutual support in halting all Alberta tar sands oil production projects, including specifically the Keystone XL pipeline.
On February 17, tens of thousands rallied in Washington, DC, to demand that the Obama administration reject the XL pipeline. Even the members of the Sierra Club were sufficiently alarmed that the staid ENGO had to lift its 120-year ban on civil disobedience.
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Thanks to a lot of great and generous readers, the upcoming book of cartoons-with-texts, “Capitalism Must Die!” is only $60 away from reaching its $6K goal– and with 10 days left, may even surpass it!
[EDITED: Made it just a few minutes later!!]
I’ve launched a fundraiser on Indiegogo for a cartoons-with-text book I’m putting together called “Capitalism Must Die! How to Kill Capitalism Before it Kills Us.” It will last through February 15. The book will contain some of the cartoons and text that appears here on this website, plus other content. Contributors will receive books, artwork and more. I’d very much appreciate it if you could spread the word to your readers, friends, and contacts. Thank you!!
Thanks so much to those who have already contributed!
Here’s the text from the Indiegogo page:
Capitalism Must Die! How to Kill Capitalism before it Kills Us will be a short (approximately 124 pages), simple book (with text, comics and illustrations) explaining capitalism: how it works, why it’s evil, and how to crush it. It’s very basic and accessible theory for the beginning revolutionary. The book will be printed in black and white, as cheaply as possible so more people can get it and use it. There will also be an ebook in full color.
With the funds I raise here, I’ll be able to focus for the next few months on producing this book, without needing to do additional freelance work. If I don’t make my goal, I will still take partial funding and produce the book no matter what (and you will still get your rewards). If I receive extra funding, I have more books planned (two books on general revolutionary concepts, and one on essential principles & practices for effective revolutionaries) and any extra funds will help me produce those too!
As an organizer, I often need materials that will help clarify basic concepts, to assist myself and others in understanding this nightmare of a system, as well as to introduce the theories – the guidelines – that could help us end it. We need to fashion our own tools to build a revolutionary movement. I haven’t been able to find all materials I need, so I decided to make some myself. If I need them, others might need them too.
For this book, I will combine my skills as a long-time organizer, writer, and award-winning cartoonist (RFK Journalism Award 2012, Society of Professional Journalists’ Sigma Delta Chi 2010, Adbusters Creative Resistance Award, among others). I’ve learned through my 20-year career as a cartoonist (published in hundreds of venues including the Los Angeles Times, South Florida Sun-Sentinel, Daily Beast, Z Magazine and the Occupied Wall Street Journal) that editorial cartoons must be sharp, to-the-point, and easy to understand. Revolutionary theory can be all those things as well.
Topics to be included:
What capitalism is, and what it is not
How capitalism functions: its economic mechanisms and social dynamics
Why capitalism is inherently expansionist
Why war, ecocide and poverty are inevitable effects of capitalism
Why no one – even capitalists themselves– has the power to make the system more humane or less destructive
What must be done to destroy capitalism
Who is in a position to damage and destroy it, and who are their allies in that struggle
What is the difference between profit and surplus value, and why that is important
Why attacking capitalism’s awful effects is not a viable strategy
What are the structural weaknesses and vulnerabilities in the system
This book is an expanded version of a talk and slide show I gave last year at a day-long event called Earth at Risk, at the University of California at Berkeley, organized by Derrick Jensen, with Arundhati Roy and several other speakers. Many people approached me afterward to ask if I would make the talk widely available. This book is the result.
Here’s some recent reader feedback:
“I like what you’re doing with this series of graphic presentations. Very educational, while still remaining fun to look at.”
– Sean Michael Dodd
“I look forward to the new cartoons. Sometimes they are revelatory and I perceive a new insight into something I thought I already had a full understanding of. You are able to encapsulate big concepts in succinct and thoughtful ways.”
“Yours is an especially tough message to hustle — that all these feel good recycling type things individuals are doing mean nothing if we dont shift systemically. We collectively dont actually want to hear this message, we are trying to dodge it. But then your clever cartoons come along. And we like cartoons and we read them, and we are shaken up and we can’t just go back to pretending.”
- Paxus Calta-Star
Please spread the word about this campaign to your friends and contacts.
Thanks in advance to everyone who donates! And to Indiegogo for providing the platform, and to Ted Rall for his very nice narration.
See more of my work here at stephaniemcmillan.org. See the work of One Struggle at onestruggle.net.
CONTACT: I’d be happy to answer any and all questions from potential backers. Please email me at email@example.com
For anyone who has the impulse to say: “Isn’t it hypocritical to be raising money when you’re against capitalism?!?”, I would like to point out that as long as we do live under capitalism, there is still rent to pay, food to buy, printers to pay, etc. I’m seeking subsistence and production costs only, and there’s little danger of me using the money to open a book sweatshop where I put desperate writers and cartoonists to work on my assembly line, while I lie around sipping mojitos… Hm… wait a minute….can I do that?
The official publication date of my new comics-journalism book about the Occupy movement, “The Beginning of the American Fall,” is Tuesday, November 13, 2012. If you are planning to purchase it from Amazon anyway, I’d like to ask you a favor: if you buy it there on Tuesday (tomorrow), you’ll bump up the sales rank on that site, making it more visible and increasing sales overall.
Also, I’d really appreciate it if you can spread the word about it, add reviews to Amazon, and encourage publications and websites to review it as well.
Here’s the Amazon link:
One of Publishers Weekly‘s Top Ten Graphic Novels for Fall 2012!
“American Fall is the definitive, thrilling and inspiring account of the beginning of the first major street-level protest movement since the 1960s: the Occupy Wall Street movement. Stephanie McMillan’s stunning illustrations, personal accounts and first-hand analysis documents the most exciting event in U.S. politics in generations.” —Ted Rall, author of The Anti-American Manifesto
“Stephanie McMillan is an important and courageous political philosopher. This book movingly shows important lessons we can learn from the Occupy Movement and apply as we move forward toward the revolution we so desperately need.” —Derrick Jensen, author of Endgame, and A Language Older Than Words
Can a cartoonist and millions of random strangers change the world? The initial stages of their attempt are chronicled in this book of comics-journalism and written observations.
Stephanie McMillan, long-time activist and cartoonist, has waited her entire life for the American people to rise up. Sparked by uprisings around the world, a new movement bursts onto the national scene against a system that denies the people a decent life and puts the planet at risk.
With delightful full-color drawings, interviews, dialogue, description, and insightful reflections, this book chronicles the first several months of the fragile and contradictory movement. It situates detailed personal experiences and representative narratives within the broad context of a truly unique and historical global conjuncture. This book will stand as a record of the emerging movement in accessible comics form.
2012, Seven Stories Press.
“With delightful full-color drawings, interviews, dialogue, description, and insightful reflections, this book chronicles the first several months of the fragile and contradictory movement. It situates detailed personal experiences and representative narratives within the broad context of a truly unique and historical global conjuncture. This book will stand as a record of the emerging movement in accessible comics form.”
$16.95 – FREE shipping in US
Please note: for international shipping of one book, please add $10. For other quantities, please email me: firstname.lastname@example.org).
I just got my copies yesterday from the publisher of my new novel, The Knitting Circle Rapist Annihilation Squad, co-authored with Derrick Jensen. $15, signed, free shipping. Described as a combination of Monty Python and the SCUM Manifesto.
The patch, pictured on the cover, is also available for $6 each (5 for $25).
Details and order information here: http://stephaniemcmillan.org/shop/
Minimum Security is about to shift gears. The current story, wherein a group of friends attempts to save the world by stopping a geo-engineering project, will draw to a conclusion on September 28.
Following that will be a week long intermission, during which readers are invited to enjoy an original silent ballet interpretation by Victoria guinea pig, performing scenes from Maxim Gorky’s Mother.
Then, starting on October 8, Minimum Security will begin a phase entitled “Proletarian Theory is a Revolutionary Social Force.” Dusty books of heavy academic theory aside, revolutionary politics can be amusing!
The purpose of this project is to promote and popularize the construction of proletarian theory, in an accessible form, as a contribution to the elimination of capitalism and for a classless society liberated from all forms of domination, exploitation and oppression. The cartoons will be linked to supplementary texts.
This is partly an exercise for me to achieve clarity for my own political work, and partly to share what I think — I don’t have all the answers (no one person or group can). So constructive input and exchange of ideas will be appreciated. You are welcome to share the work freely. You could, if you find it useful, use it as an organizing tool.
Topics will include definitions of theoretical concepts, class analysis, forms of organization, and ideas for beginning to develop a political line.
Many efforts are being made. I offer this one small stream to join the mighty river that will sweep capitalism off the face of the Earth!
I want to thank everyone who offered to contribute to Code Green, and who helped promote my fundraising campaign, and who sent notes of encouragement. I appreciate your efforts very much!! I’m very moved by your level of support and by your very kind words.
The campaign did not succeed, so I won’t be drawing that particular cartoon any longer. And I’m going to begin seeking some other kind of way to make a living than being a cartoonist. However, I will continue to draw and write cartoons and other things as a complement to organizing, as my contribution to the social change that we so urgently need. Plus Minimum Security continues to run at gocomics.com.
I’ve been thinking of quitting drawing “Code Green,” my weekly editorial cartoon about the environmental emergency. My income from paying clients has crashed; if I’m going to continue it, it needs to be supported by readers.
So I’ve started a fundraising campaign.
I’m not going to be pushing this much at all. This is the only post I’m going to make about it. I’m okay with quitting this cartoon. But because some readers seemed dismayed when I talked about quitting, I didn’t feel right about ending it without giving you a chance to keep it going.
So… please support and share if you wish.
(BTW, I’m going to continue my comic strip “Minimum Security” — soon in a new form).
This DVD includes videos of the talks given at Earth at Risk, an event in Berkeley, CA, in November 2011. The speakers are: Derrick Jensen, Lierre Keith, Waziyatawin, Thomas Linzey, Aric McBay, Arundhati Roy, and myself.
$20 each – FREE shipping in US.
[PLEASE NOTE: Ships after July 17, 2012].
A review of “As the World Burns” in German, at Permakultur-Blog: http://permakultur-blog.de/bucher/die-welt-brennt
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“Fünfzig einfach Dinge die man tun kann um es weiter zu Verleugnen”, so der Untertitel des Buchs “As the world burns” von Derrick Jensen & Stepahnie McMillan. Es ist aber eben kein Ratgeber, wie dieser Untertitel vermuten lässt, sondern analysiert im Gegenteil Tipps um die Welt zu retten aus eben solchen Ratgebern. So rechnet eine der Hauptfiguren vor: Wenn ALLE Menschen die typischen Tipps befolgen würden (Energiesparlampen benutzen, Autoreifen immer aufpumpen, recyclen), würde das die CO2 Emmisionen nur um 21% senken.
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I received the RFK Journalism Award for editorial cartooning this year, for both Code Green and my comics journalism work (“The Beginning of the American Fall”, about the Occupy movement). (I was also named a finalist for this year’s Scripps Howard Award).
Here’s some press coverage about the RFK:
South Florida Sun-Sentinel:
Please pass this along to friends and contacts who might want to contribute.
Thank you for any support you can provide!
* * *
Batay Ouvriye, (Worker’s Struggle, www.batayouvriye.org), a labor movement in Haiti, is planning a series of activities to commemorate International Worker’s Day (May Day), 2012.
The objectives of these activities are to:
· Continue to build the workers federation known as May First Trade Union Federation/BO.
· Reinforce the combative capacity of the trade unions inside BO (so that members are better prepared to fight for worker’s interests).
· Plan a national meeting of all union delegates.
· Elect the new executive committee of the newly formed union SOTA/BO. (Sendika Ouvriye Tekstil ak Abiman, Creole for Textile and Clothing Workers’ Union).
· Organize a march on May Day in Port-au-Prince.
· Organize marches throughout Haiti of sweatshop factory workers, peasants, and agricultural workers.
To organize these series of events, urgent funding is needed and we ask for your financial support and solidarity. It is not easy for workers to organize themselves across great distances in a land which is constantly attacked by natural disasters, foreign intervention, and brutal regimes. The Haitian workers, who are constantly in danger of repression, ask for your help and support. Any contribution which you can make will benefit Haitian workers in their struggle to better their conditions. Thank you for your help!
Please send contributions to the Paypal account
of supporter Stephanie McMillan (you don’t need a Payapl account, just a credit card). Go to Paypal.com and send to email@example.com, or click the button:
This is the text of the talk I gave at the Left Forum last weekend in NYC:
* * *
Environmental destruction is the most urgent and immediate problem we face. If we don’t solve it, nothing else will matter. I would argue that it’s the principle contradiction of the current period. Through it, the common ruin of contending classes is becoming increasingly likely, but as the economic and ecological crises converge, the possibility of liberation and social transformation also opens up. But only if we organize to make that happen.
The problem is accelerating because of capital’s constant need to expand into new areas. They have entered a period of extreme extraction, on a scale never before seen: fracking, oil from tar sands and deep sea drilling, mountaintop removal. Because of the falling rate of profit, capitalism can never economically catch up with itself and must constantly break through its limits in a vain attempt to resolve its own inherent internal contradiction.
Feudalism and all forms of class society have had internal contradictions that drove them to expand. But capitalism has taken this to a new level, because instead of just requiring more resources to continue existing (to feed an expanding agrarian population, for example), it requires constant growth of production to expand for its own sake. The needs of the population aren’t the point, and commodities aren’t even the point — accumulating surplus-value to expand capital itself is the entire point. This is what pushes it to exceed limits on a scale previously unimaginable.
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If you’re in New York, I’ll be on two panels at the Left Forum on March 18. Please come by if you can!
More information: http://www.leftforum.org/
Building the Red-Green Revolutionary Strategic Alliance
with Ron Whyte (Deep Green Philly) and Joe Ramsey (Kasama)
3 p.m. Sunday
Cartoonists For/Against Revolution (and/or other major changes)
with Ted Rall (Anti-American Manifesto) and Ruben Bolling (Tom the Dancing Bug)
From Earth Day (April 22) 2010 to late 2012, Minimum Security comic strips comprise a single, coherent narrative. Each strip doesn’t have its own joke, but there’s plenty of humor, as well as a long-term plot, suspense, and lots of explosions. Here’s the start of the story: http://stephaniemcmillan.org/2010/04/23/all-means/.
“The Minimum Security Chronicles: Resistance to Ecocide” will be published as a graphic novel, Fall 2013, Seven Stories Press.
“The Minimum Security Chronicles: Resistance to Ecocide” tells the story of a group of friends who live on a planet being destroyed by evil corporate overlords (that would be, take a wild guess, Earth). Some of them vow to do whatever it takes to stop ecocide. How? They aren’t sure. As they build a resistance movement, those who love them the most can be their biggest obstacles.
Here are the main characters:
|Kranti : Her name means “revolution” in Hindi. Beneath her harsh, uncompromising exterior is a person really hard to get along with. After spending two years erasing her carbon footprint by living as a re-wilded neo-primitivist in her brother’s back yard, wearing leaves and eating grubs, she noticed that her grueling lifestyle went unnoticed by those in power, and did nothing to hinder their destruction of the planet. She decides to try a more effective strategy: fighting back.|
|Bananabelle: Kranti’s best friend since preschool, Bananabelle is a lovely, cheerful person with a good heart, but her loyalties are divided. A sustainable economy, or swanky shoes? She’d like both. She’ll help out at a community garden or attend a protest, but she’s not sure about all this revolution business – a little love and being a good example ought to be sufficient.|
|Nikko: Kranti’s younger brother, a computer genius, knows that the Earth is doomed. Rather than waste his life on a lost cause, he plays video games like it’s 1999.|
|Javier: Nikko’s boyfriend is a musician. His genre, Animist Riot-Polkacore for the accordion, ensures that he’ll always be a frustrated one. Nevertheless, he’s dedicated his art, such as it is, to the struggle. The struggle expresses polite gratitude while turning down the volume.|
|Bunnista: He’s an action-oriented rabbit, furious about the shrinking wilderness, the vivisection that took his eye, and pretty much everything else as well. Impatient with the fine points of political philosophy, all he wants is to destroy human civilization. His favorite method is blowing up infrastructure.|
|Victoria: A guinea pig with a vision, she’s the brains of the Resistance and its Minister of Agit-Prop. She’s all about plan, strategy, tactics, ideology and method. Possessing logic and clarity, she serves as the fuzzy, potato-shaped mastermind of the revolution.|
|Chip: The cultured son of a major corporate bigwig, he has everything except the one thing he really craves: Kranti’s love. He’d settle for her lukewarm indifference, but he doesn’t even get that. When he calls her on his diamond-studded, solid gold cell phone, she never answers — alas, alas. Bananabelle, however, thinks he’s the hottest thing since this season’s Manolo Blahniks.|
Deep Green Resistance, the organization inspired by the book of the same name, is holding a fundraising raffle.
One of the items offered to winners is to name a character of the upcoming novel co-written by Derrick Jensen and myself. The Knitting Circle Rapist Annihilation Squad will be published in 2012 by Flashpoint/PM Press. It’s a comedy about a group of women who kill rapists (in the words of one reader: “Andrea Dworkin meets Monty Python”).
Enter this raffle for the unique opportunity to choose the last name for one of the smaller characters in the book (provided the name doesn’t distract from the book. In the words of Derrick Jensen, “Moonbeam or Cannibal or Gesundheit” would not be appropriate!)
You will also receive a free copy of the book when it is released.
Here’s the page where you can buy tickets: http://deepgreenresistance.org/dinnerwithderrick/
Here’s the cover:
This embroidered patch is on the cover of a novel I co-wrote with Derrick Jensen (due out September 2012 from PM Press/Flashpoint). It can be either ironed or sewn on. Measurements: 3.5″ x 3″.
$6 each; $25 for each multiple of five – FREE shipping in US.
My comics-journalism project on the occupy protests is mentioned in Der Taggespiegel (Berlin) (1/3 issue), with an image included:
So bieten die unterschiedlichen Beiträge vor allem sehr persönliche Blicke auf die Bewegung und ihre Entwicklung und portraitieren diese mit all ihren Widersprüchen. Stephanie McMillans „The Beginning of the American Fall“ (Teil 1 hier, Teil 2 hier) zeigt zum Beispiel, wie die beiden zunächst unabhängig entstandenen Bewegungen „Stop the Machine“ und der Ableger der Occupy-Bewegung in Washington D.C. sich immer mehr annäherten, bis sie schließlich ineinander aufgingen. Die seit 1992 als politische Cartoonistin aktive Zeichnerin führt nicht nur unterschiedliche Charaktere vor, sondern zeigt auch deren Zusammenspiel und damit die organisatorischen und konzeptionellen Diskussionen und Planungen im Hintergrund der Occupy-Bewegung. So wird deutlich, dass dort viele verschiedene Interessen aufeinander treffen und der nach außen präsentierte Zusammenhalt der Aktivisten nicht immer selbstverständlich ist.
I’m thinking about the past year and making plans for this one.
Some highlights of 2011:
* I attended “Stop the Machine” for a week in Washington, DC and drew a 10-page comics-journalism piece about it: http://www.cartoonmovement.com/comic/20
* In November, I spoke at Earth at Risk, an all-day conference in Berkeley, with Derrick Jensen, Arundhati Roy, Thomas Linzey, Waziyatawin, Aric McBay, and Lierre Keith: http://www.earthatrisk.net/. A DVD and a book of this event will be released in the coming months.
* I spoke at various events including Left Forum and Spring College Media Convention (NYC), Occupy Miami, and the Society of Environmental Journalists conference (where I also helped organize a rally outside with dozens of local environmentalist organizations).
* The anti-capitalist/anti-imperialist collective that I work with, One Struggle, continued to grow, hold discussions, and participate in local political life. Here’s the website: http://onestrugglesouthflorida.wordpress.com/
* My editorial cartoon, “Code Green,” earned a Sigma Delta Chi Award from the Society of Professional Journalists.
This year so far I plan to speak again at Left Forum and other venues. I have a couple books in the works, including “The Knitting Circle Rapist Annihilation Squad,” a novel (genre: political comedy) co-written with Derrick Jensen, to be out in September. The current story for “Minimum Security” is all plotted out to finish this summer, after which the format will change. I’m working on a short film with the working title “Capitalism Must Die.”
Oh yeah, and the economy will collapse and we’ll be further along in the process of revolution. Lots to do!