Green Anarchy #20
An Anti-Civilization Journal of Theory and Action
A Question of Spirit?, by Faith Spirit
Buried inside the temples, mosques, cathedrals, churches, and synagogues of religion are some of the deepest, most extensive—and too often overlooked—roots of civilization. Specialization, segregation, and obedience to authority are three main characteristics of religion and of all hierarchies (from hieros meaning sacred—holy, set apart for service to the deities; and archeum—to lead or rule). Hierarchy first described and enforced the ranked division of angels, the rule of the high priest, and the leader of sacred rites.
The collective refusal to look critically at the presumptions, assertions, and interconnected ideologies programmed into us (leading to a sense of their being ‘givens’) has led to an almost religious expansion of the reason-based, thus more accepted, ‘secular’ institutions of academia and science. Theologians, scientists, psychiatrists, philosophers, and mystics have strictly divided, compartmentalized, and further mystified the whole of our life experience through their self-defined (thus self-proven) analysis, abstractions, and symbology. Body, brain, chakras, conscious, dreams, ego, emotion, feeling, heart, id, imagination, instinct, intellect, intuition, knowledge, memory, mind, personality, psyche, reason, senses, soul, spirit, subconscious, superego, third eyes, thought, unconscious, wisdom ...even a godspot are offered as fundamental, discrete components of a once whole being. And with each division comes a potent entry point for our (most often self-) control. The divide and conquer strategy begins within.
The invisible, powerful force that so many call spirit (variously translated as wind, air in motion, power of breath, vital life-force, vigor, or soul) that the masters have used so successfully to their own ends, cannot escape our questioning. Acceptance of any ‘given’ is counter to an exploration of an authentic, unmediated, and exquisitely free life. Some questions that came up for a group of anarchists discussing spirituality are offered for your consideration:
Do you have a thing you call spirit? Do other humans have spirit? Other life forms? Non-living things? Manufactured things? What is your spirit and how does it present itself–form, source, location, function? Is there more than one spirit in the world? If there are multiple spirits, do they have some relationship to each other? How does spirit connect to the rest of your entity? If someone denies the existence of spirit, are they wrong, not conscious, missing something? Do you attempt to convince them otherwise? Are you convinced otherwise? If their spiritual beliefs/practices/paths/culture/religion is different from, even contrary, to yours, how do you interpret the difference? When and how did you become aware of spirit? Does your family share spiritual or religious views? Do you have a spiritual practice? Where did you learn/develop it? Have you evaluated the relationship between your current beliefs and/or practices and those of your “formative years”? Are there similarities or contradictions? What role do specialists play and what makes them authorities on your spiritual path? What is the goal of your spiritual practice and how do you evaluate its efficacy? Are you easily influenced by new ideas? Are you susceptible to suggestion? Do you use ritual, symbology, repetition, unfamiliar language, or other predetermined functions? Has your spiritual awareness changed over your lifetime? In what ways? What was the impetus for change? How will you know if/when others are using your spirit for their own goals? Does spirit die when the rest of you dies? Do you see your spirituality as personal? Are you reluctant to share/discuss it? Do you have secret practices? Does your spirit encourage your engagement in or withdrawal from political/social resistance? Is it neutral? Does it enhance or detract from other relationships? If your spirit or practice effects others, is it really so ‘personal’?
The roots of our separation from the whole of self (with the close/simultaneous dis-connection from the rest of life) and the resultant ease with which every aspect of life became ordered and controlled may well lie deep in the antechambers of religion to be later twisted and extended throughout the hallowed laboratories and offices of science and state. But the seeds of their existence and the fundamental elements that sustain their growth remain within each of us. If we don’t question our own motivations, mindset, and practices used for our so-far successful enslavement/domestication, how will we really know when we are being manipulated by other forces? How will we ever have an unmediated, unique, and individual wholeness where the only practice necessary is one of simply BEING?
Be wary of easy answers; the best questions lead only to more interesting questions; none will lead to The Truth.
The Garden of Peculiarities: Fragment 37
by Jesús Sepúlveda
If identity separates the subject from other subjects and nature, consciousness reattaches it. Clearly, without consciousness, there is no possible change. Clarity and good sense are acts of consciousness because they permit a comprehension of existence itself within the frame of the totality of life. Consciousness feeds the imagination that operates under creative processes. Intelligence, on the other hand, proceeds rationally in that it stores data, processes information, establishes associations, is self-aware, problematizes and gives answers. It also adapts, questions and fantasizes.
Fantasy is the product of a peculiar kind of creation: Alice in Wonderland, for example. Imagination, however, opens the possibilities for the eternal fan of creation. Consciousness can also be self-destructive and lead to suicide. The ending of one’s life by motu propriois only possible through an act of consciousness. It is, according to Albert Camus, an act of absolute freedom. This generally occurs when consciousness is paralyzed by the standardizing action that dispels imagination. When consciousness does not imagine—which is, after all, how it expresses itself—it self-destructs. Aesthetic manifestation of the being is impossible when imagination is annuled.
Welcome to Green Anarchy
“The stratified past still clung to by those who grow old with time is ever more easy to distinguish from the alluvia, timeless in their fertility, left by others who awake to themselves (or at least strive to) everyday. For me, these are two moments of a single fluctuating existence in which the present is continually divesting itself of its old forms.”
– Raoul Vaneigem, The everyday eternity of life
Summertime, and the livin’ is easy?
Summer is a time of activity and abundance, although in this postmodern techno-industrial nightmare, you kinda have to ask yourself, “abundance of what?” Most of us inhabit a physically scarred and increasingly desolate wasteland, surrounded by emotionally distant and fragmented people, in a spiritually barren and uninspiring culture, where power-hungry moralists from all directions try to limit our dreams, steal our lives, justify this existence, and recruit us for their team. Now, we know, maybe we’re being a bit dramatic. Some of us have been able to carve out pockets for ourselves and those we care about, trying to reconnect to the earth and each other. But, overall, these endeavors are floating in a sea of despair, and even our own experiments are severely restricted by the death-culture’s paradigm, its physical limitations, and our socialization within it. If there is one thing we can agree upon, it is that there is little worth preserving in this world, and while most things eventually fall apart on their own (the inertia of all matter and ideas), the situation, dynamic, and logic of civilization–with as much momentum behind it as it has, and whose roots run so deep and tentacles stretch so far–needs a great deal of help coming down. Besides, our most joyous and unbound moments within this mess might quite possibly be in the creation of its destruction! This is not merely a physical task, but one in which transformation is deep, multifarious, and encompassing. As stated on the shirt of a punk in the crowd, “We don’t want to rock the boat. We want to sink the fucker!”
The previous issue
In our Spring Issue (#19), we tackled a topic vital to understanding, and projecting a war against, the megamachine, “Indigenous Resistance to Civilization”. While we have always strongly identified with, and have provided space for, the various native struggles around the world, it was important to expand on this in our magazine. We provided numerous thoughts from various indigenous people, on-the-ground reports on struggles from across the earth, and some non-indigenous anarchist perspectives on this subject. Overall, we’ve gotten great feedback on the issue, but there have also been some complaints, most notably from a couple of native folks revolving around the inclusion of John Trudell, Russell Means, and even Ward Churchill. While we understood that there would be some controversy in including Means for his ridiculous sell-out status as a movie star and wanna-be politician; Trudell for his internal disputes with various American Indian Movement factions; and Churchill for somewhat similar reasons, we felt that the pieces we used were of great importance to an anti-civilization critique, and stand by our decision to print them. We wrote a sort-of disclaimer for the Means piece (“The Same Old Song”), which we made a last minute decision to run because we felt it was a cutting and concise analysis of the inherent conflict between Marxist theory & practice and indigenous people. We gladly ran the Trudell spoken word/poetry because it is some of the most potent and lucid expressions against the death culture out there, from a period of time in Trudell’s life, as Ward Churchill states, “when he still had something to say.” And, until we become convinced in any way that Churchill does not have one of the most powerful perspectives on conquest and genocide in the Americas, environmental destruction, political repression, cultural appropriation, and resistance to colonization, we will gladly make room for him. In fact, we had hoped to run a second part to our interview with Ward, but since he is so overwhelmed right now with his numerous controversies, we’ll have to wait until he has some time to breathe. In no way, however, did we unconditionally endorse any of these three (or anyone else in our magazine) by printing their insightful words. Like most political movements, there are long-running disputes, factions, and political mud-slinging in AIM, and other native movements, about which we are not qualified, nor arrogant enough, to have any opinions to offer. While we respect people’s concerns, and do not want to make light of any of them, Green Anarchy doesn’t seem to be an appropriate place to discuss these conflicts, many of which have been going on for thirty years, and it is not our place to flesh them out. We provided much welcomed space for the subject of “Indigenous Resistance to Civilization”, in that issue, and we hope the discussion continues.
In this issue
In Green Anarchy, we use a great amount of ink reporting on actions people take and the ideas and situations which inspire those actions, but we felt not enough space had been dedicated to deeper, more personal motivations for liberation and reconnection which inform our thoughts and actions. As an outgrowth of the last issue, which opened up many questions concerning various forms of indigenous spirituality and those of anarchists wanting to reconnect to the world in more profound ways, we felt the subjects of spirituality, ideology, and other frameworks for various worldviews could be discussed more thoroughly in this issue. Obviously, as anarchists, organized religion (like institutionalized anything), is something we exhaustively despise and whose total annihilation we seek, so we won’t really be going too far down the “Organized Religion Is Bad 101” road. Also, as should be expected, our collective, and anarchists in general, have diverging opinions and feelings on this very personal subject. What we hoped to do was open the door to inquiry along these lines and print the most provocative contributions we received (sorry if we didn’t print yours, but we had so many to chose from), and let the articles speak for themselves. We are happy to say that more than any other recent issue, we feel that this one is the most diverse in perspective, and at times seems to contradict itself and open more questions than it answers. Such is the nature of this topic, and open-ended dialogue in general. Hopefully, this is engaging to you, and opens up many new possibilities for exploration. Let us know what you think. And don’t worry, we haven’t gone New Age and woo-woo on you, and the usual features, action, and analysis outside this theme are included as always.
We want to clear a few things up
Most of us on the current collective of Green Anarchy have been working on this project for close to five years now, and have been tremendously surprised with its world-wide reception and the transformation into what it has become. We had a rudimentary beginning, and have made lots of mistakes along the way, but, overall, feel we have set our expectations high, and so have you. Based on the many letters and emails we receive daily (mostly awfully supportive, and a few hating us) and the ever-increasing demand for more copies, we must be doing something right. In this issue, as our collective goes through some exciting changes, we wanted to make a little space to clarify a few misconceptions and tie up some loose ends which have occurred along the way...
Brief thoughts on editorializing
As you may have noticed, our collective and individuals within it have strong opinions. We try to balance this with each other, other contributors, and a respect for the intelligence of the reader. In the past we may have been too heavy-handed in responding to or prefacing articles that were more controversial or challenging. Sometimes it was needed, other times it may have come off as ideological overkill. For the record, we do not agree (as a collective, or as individuals) with everything that is printed in this magazine. We decide what goes in based on how much it has to add to a specific or general discussion, and not on whether it fits neatly into our theoretical box. In the future, we will try to be clearer when we have editorial or personal opinions or additions to the discussion, but we also hope you can sift through divergent ideas yourself.
It’s not all good, but it’s certainly not all bad
We pride ourselves on not holding back, and unleashing an uncompromising critique on every aspect of the civilized logic and the resistance to it. We feel this is vital for any truly radical project that hopes to make a complete break with this world. While many appreciate our willingness to take off the kid gloves, some find it too harsh for their mellow. It’s easy for a reader to write something off completely, or make huge overarching statements about complicated subjects because they don’t agree with the style, tone, or even content of part of an article or issue. If you don’t like an aspect, one suggestion would be to read it anyway, and think critically about why you don’t like it, rather than reacting to it in a knee-jerk fashion. This is an important skill to develop in critical thinking, and will allow you to appreciate aspects of an idea you were unable to before. This will also help in developing a stronger analysis of what you disagree with and then you could write us a letter or article discussing your point of view. Another option is to avoid what you don’t like, and go to the stuff you do. There’s lots of material in each issue. Shit, the direct action reports are close to a quarter of the magazine. We try to have a variety of perspectives (primitivist, indigenous, eco-feminist, insurrectionary, etc), writing styles (academic, personal rants, etc), and tones (constructive to not so nice), and while we are always re-evaluating our approach, it seems to be an effective method of providing space for many, as well as cutting through some of the crap. We also have a diverse readership who enter the discussion from various perspectives, so if something seems too basic or too academic or too critical, be patient, that article might not be for you.
You may have noticed that many of the articles in Green Anarchy are either anonymous, or use playful, obviously not legal, names. We receive contributions from all over, some with formal names, some with pseudonyms, and some with no name at all. Most of the collective members write under an assortment of identities and there is the overt editorial collective voice. There are a few regular names that reappear, but in many ways much of the content is not linked to specific people. This has confused some, and angered others (usually those rigidly attached to a very academic and Western approach to putting forth ideas). So, we thought we would give a few reasons why some people may choose to write detached from a specific identity, at least until these ideas are more widespread.
The first should be somewhat obvious. Much of the content in this magazine focuses on the destruction of civilization (basically almost everything in our world). Now this is quite a controversial, and well, sketchy subject to put forth, especially in a snitch society dominated by “law and order”. While some of us are a little more suicidal with our tendencies than others, for security reasons, many choose to publicly put forth their concepts and strategies without revealing their “true” identities.
Another reason for writing in a pseudonym, or anonymously, is to avoid the baggage of personality. There is an approach to writing which holds ideas as one’s own, and in connection to their body of work, and their colleagues and predecessors. Then there is an approach that puts out ideas to freely float through discourses. Both have advantages and disadvantages, and in some way, these tendencies can be roughly linked generationally. The former, and more formal approach, has the advantage of adding to any essay a more easily referenced larger context of work, therefore more densely packing each piece; a relationship can then develop. The downside to this is the baggage that comes along with that author, both in their actual work and in their perceived life and status. For example, some people may think they already know what John Zerzan has to say based on his previous work or notoriety, and either dismiss it ahead of time or look through starry eyes, either of which gets in the way of objectively and critically absorbing and engaging with the ideas of a given text. The latter approach (anonymity) allows for the writer to state ideas in a more open context, and thus places the priority on the specifics of the text, and not the author. It can, unfortunately, seem a little dislocated for those used to the former method, but it seems to have less of a concept of possession of ideas, and can allow for more explorative situations. The middle ground of these approaches, is the ongoing usage of a pen name or pseudonym (i.e. Feral Faun, Felonious Skunk, etc). This allows somewhat for a relationship between author and reader to develop, often on a specific topic, but permits slightly more freedom than using a legal name.
We are not all John Zerzan, nor his minions
We are an anti-civilization anarchist journal, which attempts to incorporate a wide variety of theoretical and practical approaches to attacking the civilized order. Anarcho-Primitivism strongly informs much of this project, and the editorial collective in particular, but we are not necessarily all “Primitivists”. This being said, John Zerzan has been the most prolific and well-known writer of the anti-civilization anarchist tendency, and therefore many see this as “his” personal project, both Green Anarchy and the theoretical discussion surrounding it. John has a vital role in both, but he is the first to take his place as a mere part in a collective project of individuals. Any attempts at placing more importance on one thinker, falls into the trap of specialization and celebrity/villainization (depending on perspective). While John may be one of the few people who uses his legal name in connection to this project, we have always been a group of independent autonomous thinkers and doers with our own critiques, passions, and desires. While the best known gets the most recognition (positively and negatively), the work and creation is always done by many.
How can I help?
It is because of people’s generosity that Green Anarchy continues to grow. Half of the burden of this project is finding the money to pay for printing, mailing, supplies, equipment, and other expenses (approximately $6,000 per issue). We want to thank the many distributors, subscribers, and supporters out there, but we always need more of you. Please, consider becoming a PAYING distributor, a subscriber, or special donor. If a group of prisoners in Minnesota can scrape together $100 to send us (even though they get it free), we think those on the outside can at least throw something down. This project has been extremely well received around the world, and we are currently mailing out a third of our 8,000 copyprint-run free (with over 500 to prisoners), but we need your help to carry on. You might consider ordering items from our Distribution Center (located on page 82). This is a significant portion of the funding for our project, plus it is an excellent anarchist resource (including over 80 pamphlets and zines, as well as many books and videos). Also, as Green Anarchy continues to grow, we are looking for one or two serious people to get more involved in the production and day to day maintenance of this exhausting (but rewarding) all-volunteer project, so contact us.
Finally, we always ask for your contributions of articles (but please no lengthy term papers, 1-3000 words is more likely to make it in than 4-8000 words), reviews (under 1000 words), letters (under 500 words), poems, and images. We prefer that you email all contributions (in Microsoft Word if sent as an attachment).We have no rigid theme for the next issue (but we’re hoping for some more practical stuff), and we have lots of great material that we were unable to fit into previous issues already piling up! The dead-line for Issue #21-Fall/Winter2005-6 is September 1st.
–The Green Anarchy Collective, Summer 2005
Sometimes I really feel like an old dinosaur around here. It seems like I have lived so far beyond my own time that the forests and land in which I grew up no longer exist. I feel like I’m a relic of a lost time, just walking around a land that has changed into something unrecognizable since the days I hatched from my egg. As I walk I look around and feel like I can see ghosts and spirits of what used to be, and have since died out or been killed off. I look at the concrete and pavement, the steel-reinforced brick and cement cell blocks and wonder how many leafy trees once covered this area. When I glance at the razor wire fences I wonder about the people/animal relations that used to live here and freely move about the lands.
I don’t feel like I’m anywhere near what I used to call home. I feel like I am standing on the site of what used to be my childhood home. There is now only ash and rubble, everything is demolished. Left behind are the phantoms and memories only I can see. Reality haunts me. So many questions race through my mind.
I don’t know if I have lived a past life, only that my soul feels old and weary. The Indigenous teachings of these Sacred Lands bring me a lot of peace. They also give me a way to pay my respect to the quieter things in this universe, to the shadows and spirits. From the Ancient Ways I draw my connection to the Universe and recharge to rise and fight yet again.
A huge old plant-eating dinosaur, that’s what I feel like when I lumber around the recreational yard. I’m walking around looking for other dinos and can’t see any. It’s sad, I can’t recognize the land because it has been destroyed so thoroughly. I seem to be looking for my favorite 500 year-old Oak or Walnut tree, the one I like to rub my back up against. I can’t find her anywhere. Was I born in the wrong time, or even worse, have I outlived my time? I wonder a thousand things, yet one question returns to my mind with reckless abandon. Was I born into this generation so that I can help make the necessary changes, the ones which we desperately need to make? With this question as my rebel anthem I rise and I fight, and will do so until I have no breath left in these Ocelotl lungs!
ce Tepehpechtli Amiqui Ocelotl, Mexico Tribe - Michigan
Meditation on Mediation: Direct Experience As Spirituality, by Mia X. Kursions
(formerly known as Dolly Llamaz)
DISCLAIMER: Any time one tries to articulate or define that which is only captured and constrained by words, there is bound to be a great degree of limitation, repetition, and vagueness. Hopefully, this can be minimized, but also, this lesson can point out the larger meaning of this essay.
He was lying banged and battered, skewered and bleeding
Talking crippled on the cross
Was his mind reeling and heaving hallucinating
Fleeing what a loss
The things he hadn’t touched or kissed his senses
Slowly stripped away
Not like Buddha not like Vishnu
Life wouldn’t rise through him again
I find it easy to believe
That he might question his beliefs
The beginning of the last temptation
Dime store mystery
There is all of this senseless, unhealthy, and intrusive stuff (some physical, but most not) between our world and us. Some of it is inherent to civilization with its logic of dislocation and disembodiment, some of it is socialized or installed in us as methods of control, and some of it we temporarily embrace in our attempt for efficiency, comfort, or for coping within this overwhelmingly dismal reality. This is, in essence, alienation; the separation of us from ourselves, from each other, and from life itself (although these are not truly distinct categories from each other). This is the complete opposite of the direct unmediated experience that I believe to be the fulfillment and celebration of our unique individual spirits connecting. Spirituality, for me, is a life-long process of ridding myself of this mediation. It is not a concept or idea, but the absence of abstraction and linear perception. It is not a place, but an on going unconscious linkage of liberatory moments within a lived context. It is not a path, but a life (worth living). It is not a practice, but simply being.
We are all encrusted with horrific scars and are weighed down with clunky armor, but we still have an essence or spirit that, for many of us, is not yet broken or tamed. Connecting more fully to this spirit is to more deeply understand who I am, what I feel, and what my authentic desires might be. To be spiritous is to be refined or pure. Now, it seems odd to speak in such absolute terms (especially from where we are right now), but one could use this simple definition as meaning to be unmediated, unfractured, or whole – the essence of who we are. While this may seem like an abstractor ideal condition, the process of becoming less mediated, could be an important step in aspiritual reconnection to life. I feel that my spirit flows through (and in fact is) the physical, emotional, intellectual (and any other distinction we could arbitrarily make) together within and without me; there is no separation.
I would define a direct experience as an immediate situation or way of being that does not rely on the symbolic to understand and define our experience, and one that is not mediated by ideology, agenda, and personal baggage (that is, what is imposed upon us through various experiences and socializations). It is understandable that in our current reality, where the symbolic methods of understanding, communicating, and navigating through the world are almost all we have to operate with (the rules of engagement), that we temporarily consent to a certain degree of its control in our lives (explaining complex situations, communicating over long distance, making plans, traffic lights, etc). But the one realm where this is absolutely unnecessary, and in fact, where it is ultimately inhibiting, is our spiritual endeavors (and possibly sexual experience, which can deeply relate to spirituality as well, but that’s another essay). On a fundamental level, how we view ourselves and how we are connected within the context of our bodies, our minds, our relationship to others, and the world, inform how we move through the world and relate to others, and are therefore relevant to any anarchist discourse.
Mind and Body: Philosophical Traditions of Separation, Dualism, and Resolve
The duality of nature, godly nature,
Human nature splits the soul
Fully human, fully divine and divided
The great immortal soul
Split into pieces, whirling pieces, opposites
From the front, the side, the back
The mind itself attacks
I know the feeling, I know it from before
Descartes through Hegel belief is never sure
Dime store mystery, last temptation
The concept of the interconnectedness of everything and within ourselves is in opposition to most conventional philosophic traditions, which attempt to compartmentalize, sever, and dissect rather than see the confluence within. The influential Western thinker who first comes to mind, Rene Descartes, clearly articulated what has always been the basis for domestication throughout civilization, a strict mind-body dualism. His Cartesian model of the world rigorously cuts the connection between our bodies and our mind, viewing our physicality as merely complex machinery willed by God.
This is at the root of Western society, and in a general way, civilization itself. Disconnected from our bodies, Descartes believed in three sources for our ideas: the adventitious (from outside the mind), the factitious (manufactured by the mind), and the innate (imprinted on the mind by God). In his various Meditations, he explored how we understand the world and used “reason” to deduce his thoughts on materiality and divinity, giving most credence to the latter. Believing God to be perfection and truth, he held that every mental act has two distinct elements moved by God: understanding, which observes and perceives; and the will, which approves or agrees with the belief in question. Since God gives both, he saw them as virtually flawless, and that “error” or “unreasonableness” is a moral failing or a going against of truth. The idea of a mind-body split, supports the idea that the mind is created, and more or less controlled by God, while the body independently performs an assortment of repetitive and mundane physical tasks. This concept follows through to the idea of immortality of the human mind or “soul”, unaffected by death of the physical organism. This separation also sets the stage for scientists to rely on observation for their mechanistic view distinct from “divine” or “mystical” explanations. Other Cartesian metaphysicians built on Descartes’ ideas, describing varying degrees of synchronization or paralleling concepts between mind and body, but all accepting a fundamental split, and all seeing us essentially as minds linked to God, or at best, a mode or piece of the wholeness of God, who coordinates our actions.
Cartesian philosophers have in common with many spiritual thinkers the orientation of moving beyond the physical, or transcending the material to the spiritual. In hopes of escaping the “dirty”, “bloody”, and “painful” aspects of life, they create this distinction in order to elevate above the “profane” and “foulness” to the “sacred” and “pure”. The somewhere or somehow or someone that is elsewhere, that we can “link to” (through prayer, meditation, devotion, etc) relieves us of the immediate difficulties of our physical reality. It allows us to tolerate intolerable conditions and behaviors, as well as rationalizing the acceptance of power over us. Attempting to find significant or ultimate meaning detached from the physical is at the core of our dysfunctional society, yet being open to, believing in, or feeling things that conflict with our “knowledge” of physicality can be a powerful non-rational perspective, provided it is coupled with deep and integral connection to the physical. While I feel the need to place a higher value on what I can see and touch, I also don’t want to be purely a materialist. Rather than seeing the spirit as something separate that we fasten to, like a power plant, or something that adjoins or travels through both body and mind like electricity through a wire, spirit could be understood as the essence of the unseparated (unalienated) wholeness.
Another common philosophical thread is that of exploring the tension between the subjective and the objective. With Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel’s “absolute idealism”(and idealists who followed), we see a critique of traditional distinctions between objective and subjective understanding and the development of dialectical accounts of human consciousness, including the individual sensation through the social to that of a World-Spirit. A tension is then seen between intelligence and object, or the knower and the known. Hegel believed in a fundamental unity or absolute consciousness to connect all subjective egos and a logic (dialectical in character) to study its fundamental structure of reality. Seeing Spirit as the grand synthesis of the self-knowing and the self-actualizing totality of all that is, Hegel saw human thought as one portion of the Becoming of Absolute Spirit. Considered subjectively, Spirit may be observed through the structure of thought in each individual, with consciousness striving for perfect knowledge through a movement of thesis through antithesis to synthesis. Considered objectively, Spirit involves the interaction among multiple selves. Most purely, Hegel viewed the synthesis as the Absolute Spirit, ahistorical process of expanding human awareness of the fundamental unity of all reality, gradually discovering and expressing its true nature. This idealism, and its promise of inherent or underlying unification, complete with “logical” explanations, is progressive in nature, and essentially leads to a dependence on religion, nationalism, utilitarianism, and optimism.
Max Stirner took Hegel’s resolution of dualisms further to create a triad of Materialist-Idealist-Egoist, attempting to collapse idealism and connecting philosophy to the individual outside the fixed idea proposing a synthesis found in the interest of the unique – the egoist. While Friedrich Nietzsche set the goals for the egoist as creation beyond oneself, Stirner focused on consumption and the temporary and finite ego’s appropriation of the world as is, to make it one’s own. Stirner pointed out that lords and gods obey nothing beyond themselves and set themselves up as the supreme morality to serve. Rather than serving these “great egoists”, Stirner proposed to be the egoist himself (and ourselves), but rather than imploring us to follow, entices us by example, avoiding the creation of a new illusion to submit to. Stirner’s egoism becomes merely the following of one’s own interests and desires as a unique being, and the investigation of what that might be. There is no external moral or reference point outside the values of the egoist. All relationships then are willed and hold no intrinsic status or permanent bonds, and are simply the union of independent and conscious egoists. Perhaps most important in Stirner’s realizations is the relation to one’s self. He sets up mere “valuing” life against “enjoyment” of life, in which the former one is the object to be secured, and the latter one is the subject of all valuing relations. In the question of “who am I?” which has its response in the person who asks it, Stirner speaks of a “nothing” which is not one of emptiness, but instead one without imposed or predetermined value, a “creative nothing” to be filled with spontaneous passions and relationships. Stirner had a very positive influence in the realm of philosophy, but still, somewhat limited as an anthropocentric perspective, unless the egoist could also be a bird, a river, a rock, or a constellation. Ultimately, the intellectualization of spirituality (philosophy) has severe limitations.
Releasing the Flow: Detouring from Paths, Rituals, Specialists, the Sacred, and Religion
I was sitting drumming thinking thumping pondering
The mysteries of life
Outside the city shrieking screaming whispering
The mysteries of life
Some people see spirituality as a path to travel, and the more worn the path, the more “true” or “meaningful” it must be. This only reveals fear and laziness. Fear, because people distrust themselves, being stripped of confidence, and are only partial beings dependent on experts in a society fragmented and stratified by specialization. Lazy, because they are encouraged to take a path of least resistance and “rewarded” for being uncritical and uncreative, willing to accept a belief system rather than dwell in the realm of experience and mystery. They develop a practice, rather than a spiritual life of being. Often, we mistake the specifics of the process for the energy that moves it, or that it is. Instead, the method is infused with meaning rather than the experience itself. For instance, we can understand and experience a forest in many ways (scientifically, historically, emotionally, etc), each revealing a particular aspect but not its spirit (although, within the symbolic, sometimes poetry and music offer tingly glimpses). Typically, we move through a forest on a path, one made through ritualistic habit by humans or through repetitious instinctual usage (by deer for instance). We ordinarily stay on this path, making slight excursions off it to encounter “unique spaces” (epiphany or temptation). This mode of encounter is typical of the “spiritual path” model. We place a higher value on what has come before (because “they must know best” or “others have done it”) than in our own spontaneous and passionate desires.
I propose that a more direct, less mediated, and more experiential way to open up is to skeptically distinguish the path as one limited route, and to fully immerse oneself in the forest (bushwhacking, climbing, swimming, rolling, sleeping, eating, shitting, breathing, singing, remembering, etc). In the first method (the path), we actually go around the forest. It is on either side of us, rather than into the forest, and the forest into us. We are alienated from it through the method, rather than part of it through experience. Again, this hints at the object-subject dualism that creates problematic relationships and barely partial comprehension. Mediation is a path around rather than immersion into.
Ritual, including ceremony, prayer, chanting, sacrifice, etc, is the typical form of mediated spirituality or “spiritual expression” (a phrase which should hint at its alienated attributes). It funnels our experience and motivations into premeditated and rehearsed ceremonial conformity. When we define our spirituality by others’ previous accounts or standards, we submit and define our spirit to their limitations. Ritual has all but replaced spiritual being and is the manifestation of aspiritually impoverished and fractured society. We ritualize every aspect of our lives, replacing authentic moments with predetermined ones. Like neurotic obsessive-compulsive drones, we go through the motions (Rosary Beads, Buddhist chants, Pagan dances, etc) thinking this is connection and substance. Even if we knew the supposed “purpose” of these rituals, which we often do not, their meanings are specific to very particular places, people, and times. Even these “original” meanings were mediated expressions or alienated procedures, so their postmodern imitations are surely doubly dubious. New Age, the salad bar of spirituality, sifts through the many spiritual manifestations and religions in an attempt to glean “positive” aspects from each and re-contextualize them into one’s particular world-view, typically filling spiritual emptiness with the de-spiritualized motions and rituals of others. It is the spiritual cop-out for the lethargic and uncreative and for those who view everything as a commodity to consume, or who eternally search for the miracle cure or magic pill (or those who purchase metaphysical lottery tickets). New Age is not a specific path (although there are some common trajectories used), but instead, a postmodern excuse for tiresome superficiality. New Agers will pull out the “appropriate” ritual for any situation or the “suitable” prayer for each moment, and yet reek of eternal emptiness, buzzing from one path to the next more often than many of us change our socks.
Another unsettling aspect of traditional and conventional spirituality is that of the specialist (shaman, master, guru, priest, etc). While making it more convenient to approach a certain spiritual paradigm, these experts actually move us further from our direct experience into that of ceremony and religion. If spirituality were merely a technical matter, it would almost seem reasonable to approach an expert for advice, guidance, or even direction, temporarily forgetting the issues of power and lack of subjectivity that surround them. Shamans, for instance, throughout the history of external spiritual expression and ritualized practice, have monopolized the link to the “other”. While there has also been the role of shamanas healer and visionary (which also contain problematic aspects of hyper-specialization), typically they are at the root of a stratified society based on division of labor and of specialized knowledge and power. This limits the individual’s access to a spiritual life, and again, funnels it through a vessel with one finite and ritualized perspective. As a society increases in scale, power becomes multiplied, and a class of priests collaborates and creates a body of “knowledge” and customs as amystified society within a society. While the dynamics of gurus, masters, priests, and other specialists have varying levels of power depending on the situation, they all share the intrinsic element of mediator.
The concept of “the sacred” is another questionable notion often linked to a quest for spirituality. This encompasses themes in which certain domains are viewed as sacred, everything is sacred, or nothing is sacred, each with its own specific rationale, reactive position, and custom. The human/divine split is encompassed within the idea that certain things, beings, actions, or realms are exclusively sacred, in which we, as humans, inhabit a corrupt and profane world, and that the sacred is “untouchable” by the mortal and “lesser” being, except through mediated and specialized customs and people. This is the basis for a complete separation. The concept of everything being sacred, views all of this world, and beyond, as divine and proposes specific morally grounded methods and practices for interaction with our world. The concept of nothing being sacred (while of most interest to me as an independent unique being relating to my world) is often, unfortunately, a rationale for self-indulgent destruction of the world and the whimsical oppression of everything outside ourselves. Probably the most helpful way to approach the concept of profanity/sacredness, is to avoid the abstraction altogether and develop unique relationships outside this false dichotomy.
Paths, rituals, specialists, and concepts of the sacred are all vital components of the institutionalization of spirituality – religion. Obviously, the discussion of this particular subject is along one, and best left for anarchist ABC’s, but it does represent the fulfillment and summation of all of the negative and alienated projects of spirituality, and in fact, stands on the opposite extreme to an unmediated spirituality. The perpetuation of ideological, moral, or religious confinements are, in essence, a profound form of mediation from a free, willed, direct experience absent of imposed bonds and limitations. Another significant problem with any religious-centered view (beyond the personally limiting and inadequate nature of it) is that it creates, like any form of ideology, an abstract bias, self-righteous attitude, and the conception of an “other”. Once traveled down, this slope gets slipperier as morality and dogmatism become all-consuming. Religion is the endpoint, and complete deadness of spirit.
Neither Here Nor There: Living Outside of the Mediated Framework
There’s a funeral tomorrow
At St. Patrick’s the bells will ring for you
Ah, what must you have been thinking
When you realized the time had come for you
I wish I hadn’t thrown away my time
On so much human and so much less divine
The end of the last temptation
The end of a dime store mystery
Spirituality, for me, is the ability to directly connect without defining or creating a solidified framework or even desiring to express the experience. By its very nature it is unexplainable. Anytime we try to express these experiences, by the very character of representation, they cannot be direct experiences; they are outside us and move further from us as an abstract medium that is only a pale reflection. Any time we limit our experiences through ritual, paths, specialists, ideology, religion, morality etc, we mediate our lives through an imposed and artificial condition that is inherently repressive and stifling to our spirit. The experience of expanding ourselves, opening ourselves, and understanding ourselves in a free and unlimited way is where I derive significance of being. Spirituality can be burning a church, the Grand Canyon at sundown, a snowflake on your tongue, a flash of deja-vu, a tingle up your spine, an unrestrained orgasm, sharing deep intimacy… really anytime we are fully presenting ourselves and in the world without barriers. How we relate or connect to our spirit or our unmediated being is always different from person to person, and even within ourselves; in other words, always in a perpetual state of flux.
We are all part of the earth. All detachment, elevation, or transcendence is an illusion. All we can do is move closer or further from life and ourselves. This should not be mistaken, however, for a “return to Eden” undertaking. Sure, in my opinion, life for humans (and all other beings) was qualitatively richer and healthier before civilization’s annihilation of connectivity, but “return” is merely a reversal of the linearity of progressivism. Just as wildness is not something to preserve or restore, but something inside us to connect to and present in all of our relationships. Living free now and ultimately being released in a complete physical sense as our flesh becomes the nourishment for future life is all we can “know”. “We’re all gonna be just dirt in the ground” (meditate on that for a while). Our ego is for now, the moment, and is the basis for infinite possibilities of connection. Our ideas and thoughts are the expression of our ego, the now, and helps us to momentarily distinguish ourselves from everything else of which we are intricately a part. There is no way out (this is not merely an objective analysis, but also a subjective celebration)… we are connected! We are influenced and we influence. Under all our mediation, we are spirit.
Habitual Ritual? Or Free As The Wind?, by Penelope Rosemont
from the book Surrealist Experiences: 1001 Dawns, 221 Nights
How to develop a closer relationship to the natural world is a question of urgency. Is “ritual,” however, the best – or even a worthwhile – means of effecting this closeness? By ritual I mean formalized, routine actions performed as if by rote, completely lacking in spontaneity and imagination, as exemplified by the rites of the world’s dominant institutionalized religions. In my view, the ceremonies of the Earth’s primal peoples – those of Africa, Australia, Oceania, and the native cultures of the Americas – do not properly belong to this category, for they tend to be open to all kinds of variation. For example, the seasonal dances of the Hopi and Zuni, however much they may seem to have in common with ritual in the dogmatic church sense of the term, nonetheless leave ample room for individual originality and collective improvisation.
Throughout history ritual has functioned largely to separate humans from the objects of their adoration. It is a form of authoritarian mystification linked to other elements in hierarchical and exploitative social structures. Repetitive and compulsive, ritualistic behavior was concocted by privileged priesthoods to subdue and control their followers.
There is nothing natural about ritual, which in truth belongs to the most artificial human-centered ideologies. Trees, birds and wolves do not have rituals or religions. To be closer to the natural world, we should draw on the wisdom of the wilderness. The natural world expresses itself freely, and that is what human animals need to do as well. We need to express our creative desires, our wildest imaginations, and these are best expressed in dance, play, humor and in what such inspired dreamers as Blake and Emily Dickinson and Lautreamont regarded as poetry.
According to an old Zen saying, “To point to the moon a finger is needed, but woe unto those who mistake the finger for the moon!” Ritual is one name of this mistake.
A spontaneous, wild dance in the morning sun is far more invigorating, liberating, and natural than any ritual repeated over and over so that it inevitably becomes routinized and meaningless. We need the unfettering of the imagination, not ritual; we need the celebration of life on Earth in all its diversity, not the religionists’ hatred of sexuality and their patriarchal scorn for Nature. We need to develop communication with the natural world, through peaceful receptiveness to its inspirations, and active participation in its wonders.
We need to invent wild, joyous festivals of earthly life. We need to learn more from the mating dances of Whooping Cranes, the howling of Timber Wolves, and what John Muir recognized as the songs and gestures of trees in the raging storm.
Reclaiming J. Krishnamurti for Anarchy
All authority of any kind, especially in the field of thought and understanding, is the most destructive, evil thing. Leaders destroy the followers and followers destroy the leaders. You have to be your own teacher and your own disciple. You have to question everything that man has accepted as valuable, as necessary.
—J. Krishnamurti, Freedom from the Known
Having realized that we can depend on no outside authority in bringing about a total revolution within the structure of our own psyche, there is the immensely greater difficulty of rejecting our own inward authority, the authority of our own particular little experiences and accumulated opinions, knowledge, ideas and ideals. You had an experience yesterday which taught you something and what it taught you becomes a new authority—and that authority of yesterday is as destructive as the authority of a thousand years. To understand ourselves needs no authority either of yesterday or of a thousand years because we are living things, always moving, flowing, never resting. When we look at ourselves with the dead authority of yesterday we will fail to understand the living movement and the beauty and quality of that movement.
To be free of all authority, of your own and that of another, is to die to everything of yesterday, so that your mind is always fresh, always young, innocent, full of vigor and passion. It is only in that state that one learns and observes. And for this a great deal of awareness is required, actual awareness of what is going on inside yourself, without correcting it or telling it what it should or should not be, because the moment you correct it you have established another authority, a censor.
—J. Krishnamurti, Freedom from the Known
When I was asked to contribute an article to this special “spirituality” issue of Green Anarchy, I found myself at a rare, uncharacteristic loss for words. Sure, I could regurgitate all the obvious critiques of monotheism, polytheism and religion in general, but it’s unlikely that I’d be introducing any new concepts to this rather boring and tedious discourse (Does any anarchist really need to be convinced that authoritarianism lies at the root of all religious paradigms?). I also (briefly) considered scrutinizing the reactionary, uncritical embracing of Neo-paganism and Eastern cosmological designs (what I call the “substitution faiths”) by so many self-professed anarchists, but again, I wasn’t able to muster up any sincere enthusiasm for such a dull, fruitless undertaking (After all, the elevation of mythological forms and structures to the level of eternal verities is appealing only to those who fear the swirling, magnificent mystery of chaos and seek to impose an illusory “order” on it; those who are afflicted with a pathological need for a “belief system” to quell their own nagging insecurities).
It was tempting as well to assail the metaphysics of the Left (dialectical materialism, reason, logic, science, progress), but the pastime of “left-bashing” is starting to become a little redundant in the pages of GA and I’m loathe to give this terminally-ill worldview any more importance than it merits. The blunt truth is that I find nearly all communication about “spirituality” to be farcical, supernatural rubbish, not to mention highly pretentious; theology is about as useful to me as a book of soggy matches, and morality nothing more than a covenant to stay deaf, dumb and paralyzed—a social prohibition on instinctual expressions and a voluntary acceptance of mutilated freedom. I similarly deplore all notions of humyn “saintliness” and “perfection” (political, ethical or otherwise), and the cloistering of intelligence within transcendental castles (or monasteries) of sand.
Yet, against this background of irreverent disdain for all unearthly creeds and ethereal conjecture, I’ve occasionally encountered “spiritual” writings that have inspired me in my own quest for personal liberation. For instance, the Taoist reflections of Lao Tze and Chuang Tzu (which at times seem to be taking into account domestication and the civilizing process itself), or some of the more “primitive” (pre-religious) versions of Zen (which include refreshing elements of foolishness, buffoonery and absurdist qualities in their speculations on consciousness). There are also certain Western intellectual heretics—like William Blake, Percy Shelley, the French amoralist Jean Genet, and the profoundly underrated Dadaist philosopher, Tristan Tzara—who have “spiritually” enriched my existence through their radically subjective takes on liberty and autonomy.
But in my (sometimes) humble opinion, the “spiritual” thinker who has the most relevance to anarchist theory (by virtue of the fact that he was an anarchist!) is J. Krishnamurti, an iconoclastic “anti-guru” from India who devoted his life to burying the putrid corpse of religion, superstitious spiritualism, and every other mystification that impairs the experience of being alive.
A Disturber of the Peace
War is the spectacular and bloody projection of our everyday living. We precipitate war out of our daily lives; and without a transformation in ourselves, there are bound to be national and racial antagonisms, the childish quarrelling over ideologies, the multiplication of soldiers, the saluting of flags, and all the many brutalities that go to create organized murder. Education throughout the world has failed, it has produced mounting destruction and misery. Governments are training the young to be the efficient soldiers and technicians they need; regimentation and prejudice are being cultivated and enforced. Taking these facts into consideration, we have to inquire into the meaning of existence and the significance and purpose of our lives. We have to discover the beneficent ways of creating a new environment; for environment can make the child a brute, an unfeeling specialist, or help him to become a sensitive, intelligent human being. We have to create a world of no government which is radically different, which is not based on nationalism, on ideologies, on force.
Jiddu (“J.”) Krishnamurti (1895-1986) was a unique figure in twentieth century philosophical thought. He belonged to no religion, sect, or country, nor did he subscribe to any school of political or ideological thought. Instead, he stated that these are the very factors that divide us from one another and bring about personal and social conflict, ubiquitous feelings of disconnection and ultimately, the ghastly ordeal of war. The century in which Krishnamurti lived saw two world wars, continuous political, ethnic and religious violence, mass murder on an unparalleled scale, the physical annihilation of the biosphere and the development and proliferation of genocidal regimes throughout the world. In virtually every public talk he gave, Krishnamurti addressed this global crisis, calling on his listeners to give serious attention to the psychological structures that breed violence, conformity, obedience, exploitation, stupidity, slavish tendencies, and wretchedness in their lives.
Unlike most anarchists who probe these desperate circumstances from entirely economistic or materialist standpoints, Krishnamurti considered our planetary predicament to be commensurate with a more grievous and buried (as in “un-discussed”) crisis of consciousness. From his perspective, the settlement of this quandary relied on a pitiless inspection of our internal environment; in other words, searching out, locating and overthrowing the symbolic shackles, the blighted “moral frameworks”, and the ideological strongholds that fester beneath the outer world of appearances; the conceptual and ideational enslavers of perception that have brought about a generalized poisoning of consciousness, one that lies at the root of the despotic society we inhabit.
Krishnamurti was not interested in providing his “audience” with more ritualized, schematic and occultist systems around which to base their lives. He left behind no “sacred” books or dogmatic tenets, no ceremonial formalities or “special prayers” for those who sought to turn him into their “saviour”. On the contrary, Krishnamurti resolutely denied the validity of all doctrinal authority and “spiritual” conventionalism and was unwavering in his conviction that all conditioned belief systems and ideologies inevitably result in a world of dimmed, compressed consciousness—a deformed perception full of restrictions, of walls blocking the way to freedom. And always, his central preoccupation remained authority and the ossification of consciousness that results from our acceptance of it.
Krishnamurti never spoke in abstractions and offered no consoling fundamental principle of “transcendence” for those sick at heart with the misery and hardships of this world; more accurately, he insisted that the “answer” to humyn suffering (war, alienation, political oppression, the myriad varieties of poverty) was not to be found in some fantastical hereafter, but in the here and now. These aren’t problems for spiritual “specialists” or externalized superhuman “deities” to solve, but rather, an accumulated heritage of cultural ignorance and conformity that necessitates the active willingness of all who truly desire freedom to keep their eyes and minds open in the midst of all the tyranny, carnage and heartlessness around them; to engage in an unflinchingly honest examination of all the conventional answers, all the conventional routines, and all the conventional games our degraded, socialized minds reenact daily, as if on auto-pilot.
Igniting the Flames of Awareness
To revolt within society in order to make it a little better, to bring about certain reforms, is like the revolt of prisoners to improve their life within the prison walls; and such revolt is no revolt at all, it is just mutiny. Do you see the difference? Revolt within society is like the mutiny of prisoners who want better food, better treatment within the prison; but revolt born of understanding is an individual breaking away from society, and that is creative revolution.
Now, if you as an individual break away from society, is that action motivated by ambition? If it is, then you have not broken away at all, you are still within the prison, because the very basis of society is ambition, acquisitiveness, greed. But if you understand all that and bring about a revolution in your own heart and mind, then you are no longer ambitious, you are no longer motivated by envy, greed, acquisitiveness, and therefore you will be entirely outside of a society which is based on those things. Then you are a creative individual and in your action there will be the seed of a different culture.
So there is a vast difference between the action of creative revolution, and the action of revolt or mutiny within society. As long as you are concerned with mere reform, with decorating the bars and walls of the prison, you are not creative. Reformation always needs further reform, it only brings more misery, more destruction. Whereas, the mind that understands this whole structure of acquisitiveness, of greed, of ambition and breaks away from it—such a mind is in constant revolution.
—Krishnamurti, Think On These Things
Krishnamurti recognized that the age we live in is one of mass murder, of brute thinking, of thought control, of blind, stupid concentration on trivial externals. Therefore, absolute internal honesty was—in his opinion—the first requirement for extricating ourselves from all the mental artificialities, deluding mirages and labyrinthine mazes of our conditioned belief systems, with the object of obliterating all remnants of psychological subordination from our consciousness. Within Krishnamurti’s thought, solitude maintains a substantial function as a methodological tool.
Time and again, Krishnamurti points to solitude as a methodology for dispelling the arbitrariness of culture and authority, an indispensible instrument for amplifying the mindfulness and sensitivity that is a prerequisite to “knowledge of self”. Krishnamurti emphasized not only the path of solitude as fundamental to “enlightenment”—or self-realization—but also the requisiteness of experience, rather than ritual or doctrine external to oneself. How much solitude? How much self inquiry and reflection? That is exactly for the individual to discover, not awaiting any “authority” to sanction it or persuade the individual to pursue it. For the total development of the humyn being, solitude—and the push for clarity it compliments—becomes a categorical necessity for the individual seeking to discern how fettered their minds are to regulated, conditioned thoughts. Krisnamurti conceived of solitude as a separation from the social contrivances and accretions of the oppressive culture around us, and as the only reliable means of emancipating ourselves from all the psychological encumbrances of our conditioning. If we can rid ourselves of all that is merely dependent on culture, says Krishnamurti, we can unfold
as individuals-alone, yes, but also free.
No Defences and No Masks
We do not want to be disturbed, we want our thoughts to run in easy grooves. We set up habits of easy thought, easy existence, have a comfortable job and there stagnate. For most of us, that is peace — having a clear sky But in this clarity there are a great many things going on, a great disturbance in the atmosphere, which we do not see. What we see is very superficial, is just on the surface. The kind of tranquillity we want, is a superficial calm, an easy existence. But peace is not so easy to come by. We can only understand peace when we understand the great disturbance, the discontent in which each one of us is caught, when the mind is free from easy thought, easy grooves of pattern, of action, when we are really disturbed — which we all avoid. Most of us do not want to be disturbed. But life does not leave you. Life is very disturbed, life being the poor people, the rich people, the camel that suffers with so much weight on its back, the politician, the revolution, the war, the quarrels, the bitterness, the unhappiness, the joy and the dark shadows of life. We carry on; and the beauty of life passes by.
Krishnamurti’s critique of authority as a hindrance to free inquiry is well-known. His critique of the flight from disturbance as another major hindrance to free inquiry, is considerably more subtle and probably less widely recognized. In Krishnamurti’s view, all walls, even “soft walls”, hinder free inquiry and every individual must ultimately choose between comfort and awareness, or as he sometimes put it, one must choose between security and truth.
In his writings and public talks, he consistently sounded a steadfast warning to beware of those who offer comfort — “a snare in which you are caught like a fish in a net”. This is one of many vivid metaphors he used to convey the urgency of facing reality in a more robust and vigorous frame of mind, in order to cast off the strangling snares of religion, nationalism and all other forms of ideological escapism. From early in his life to his final days, he counseled against putting up “Please Do Not Disturb” signs when the house we live in is burning.
Krishnamurti saw in the crisis of our times an unprecedented opportunity for a revolution of the individual, a revolution of the mind, where the myth of external authority would be renounced conclusively and the “spiritual”/material deadlock of our troubled culture would be untangled.
Out In the Dark, There is Only You...
War is intellectually justified as a means of bringing peace; when the intellect has the upper hand in human life, it brings about an unprecedented crisis. There are other causes also which indicate an unprecedented crisis. One of them is the extraordinary importance man is giving to sensate values, to property to name, to caste and country, to the particular label you wear. Things made by the hand or by the mind have become so important that we are killing, destroying, butchering, liquidating each other because of them. We are nearing the edge of a precipice; every action is leading us there, every political, every economic action is bringing us inevitably to the precipice, dragging us into this chaotic, confusing abyss. Therefore the crisis is unprecedented and it demands unprecedented action. To leave, to step out of that crisis, needs a timeless action, an action which is not based on an idea, on a system, because any action which is based on a system, on an idea, will inevitably lead to frustration. Such action merely brings us back to the abyss by a different route. As the crisis is unprecedented there must also be unprecedented action, which means that the regeneration of the individual must be instantaneous, not a process of time. It must take place now, not tomorrow; for tomorrow is a process of disintegration. If I think of transforming myself tomorrow I invite confusion, I am still within the field of destruction. Is it possible to change now? Is it possible completely to transform oneself in the immediate, in the now? I say it is. The point is that as the crisis is of an exceptional character to meet it there must be revolution in thinking; and this revolution cannot take place through another, through any book, through any organization. It must come through us, through each one of us. Only then can we create a new society, a new structure away from this horror, away from these extraordinarily destructive forces that are being accumulated, piled up; and that transformation comes into being only when you as an individual begin to be aware of yourself in every thought, action and feeling.
It should be self-evident that this exceedingly individualistic approach to cultural deprogramming—with its rejection of formalized traditions, “secure” structures, and the extreme authoritarianism of the guru/ disciple relationship—is not for the servile, weak-minded, or dependency oriented. If “spirituality” (to use a very loaded term) is to be equated with self-awareness, then it’s a pursuit that’s going to involve acknowledging some very hard truths about what’s really going on in our mangled, repressed psyches. It’s going to entail a confrontation with all the psychological buffers and insulations we erect to prevent such a frightening procedure of self-inquiry from occurring—the sophisticated mechanisms with which we deflect exploration of our inner lives. It’s an incredibly arduous, difficult task—as socialized animals saddled with centuries of authoritarian conditioning— to unmask our ingrained predilections towards submission and critically enter into conflict with the powerful patterns of self-mistrust that have become part of our psychic structures.
But anyone who desires self-rule will pragmatically benefit from initiating such a thorough deconstruction of their socially implanted mentalities, keeping in mind that any thrust towards “self-awareness” has no finality; there is no static state of “enlightenment” for any of us to aspire to. Instead, self-awareness is a living, fluid experience that is ongoing and that can never be tied to verbal representations, visual signifiers or any other type of reification. It’s an adventure that is wholly unique to every individual, and for which there is no map or external guide; it’s the internal aspect of our revolution against authority, the dislodging of all the comfortable lies and hypocrisies that smother our intrinsic, creative vitality and make us so susceptible to authoritarian manipulation.
In fact, if “spirituality” is synonymous with self-awareness, then those that don’t seek it are all mad as hatters. That is to say, they are all robots, and sleepwalkers; detatched, as it were, from the workings of their own minds and slaves to all the mental acrobatics of personal dishonesty; for without a willful effort to apprehend ourselves, we stay unreflective self-deceivers and livers in a collective fantasy-land of endless social torments, inward stupefaction and standardized behaviour...
When Our Minds and Hearts are Burning: Some Concluding Quotes From Krishnamurti
The moment you follow someone you cease to follow Truth. I am not concerned whether you pay attention to what I say or not. I want to do a certain thing in the world and I am going to do it with unwavering concentration. I am concerning myself with only one essential thing: to help set man free. I desire to free him from all cages, from all fears, and not to found religions, new sects, nor to establish new theories and new philosophies. If an organization be created for this purpose, it becomes a crutch, a weakness, a bondage, and must cripple the individual, and prevent him from growing, from establishing his uniqueness, which lies in the discovery for himself of that absolute, unconditioned Truth.
Unfortunately, education at present is aimed at making you conform,fit into and adjust yourself to this acquisitive society. That is all your parents, your teachers and your books are concerned with. As long as you conform, as long as you are ambitious, acquisitive, corrupting and destroying others in the pursuit of position and power, you are considered a respectable citizen. You are educated to fit into society; but that is not education, it is merely a process which conditions you to conform to a pattern. The real function of education is not to turn you out to be a clerk, or a judge, or a prime minister, but to help you understand the whole structure of this rotten society and allow you to grow in freedom, so that you will break away and create a different society, a new world. There must be those who are in revolt, not partially but totally in revolt against the old, for it is only such people who can create a new world—a world not based on acquisitiveness, on power and prestige.
—J. Krishnamurti, Think On These Things
From One Cage to Another
I know many who daily practice certain ideals, but they become only more and more withered in their understanding . They have merely transferred themselves from one cage to another. If you do not seek comfort, if you continually question — and you can question only when you are in revolt — then you establish freedom from all teachers and all religions; then you are supremely human, belonging neither to a party nor to a religion nor to a cage.
Crisis Ignites the Flame
As long as your mind is carefully, surreptitiously avoiding conflict, as long as it is searching for comfort through escape, no one can help you to complete action, no one can push you into a crisis that will resolve your conflict. When you once realize this — not see it merely intellectually, but also feel the truth of it — then your conflict will create the flame which will consume it.
Throw Away Your Crutches
Friends, why don’t you worship a cloud? Why don’t you pray to the man who is labouring in the fields, or take delight in shadows cast on tranquil waters? While you are worshipping in an enclosed shrine, Life dances in the street and escapes you. If you do not test your strength by throwing away your crutches, how can you know your integrity, your vitality? I have done all these things and so I know that ... these things are shadows. If you are burning for Truth you must come out of your shadows ... and enjoy that which creates all things.
If you deny every form of clinging to something that will give you comfort, not knowing where it is going to lead you in that state of uncertainty, in that state of danger, that is denial. In this search for contentment, comfort, your thoughts and feelings become shallow, barren, trivial, and life becomes an empty shell. The human mind is lethargic; it has been so dulled by authority, so shaped, controlled, conditioned, that it cannot stand by itself. But to stand by oneself is the only way to understand truth. Are you really, fundamentally interested in understanding truth? No, most of you are not. You are only interested in supporting the system that you now hold, in finding substitutes, in seeking comfort and security; and in that search you are exploiting others and being exploited yourselves. In that there is no happiness, no richness, no fullness. Be Disturbed for The Rest of Your Life.
Strangers: Touching the Void, by Sky Hiatt
You are born. The faces watching you will be known to you throughout your life. They will tend to you, dress you, feed you, teach you. They will love you. You will grow up playing under the same trees they played under before you and their parents before them. You will sing the songs they sing. You will dance the ritual dances passed down through time. You will sing and dance in unison with your tribe. You will learn the traditions, the codes, the rhythms, the customs and the mysteries of your kind and you will pass them on to your own in time. You will eat the common foods and follow the fashion that follows climate that follows the land that surrounds you. You will call the Earth home. You will build lodges by your own hand. You will never doubt the meaning of being alive. Everything around you will reflect you and will be anchored in the cultural mind. Your life and your ideas will be valued. Shared myths and legends will intensify the bonds of brotherhood and sisterhood. You will never wonder what to do, what to be. The resonance of your way of life will ratify the social memory and you will be free.
But all that was before. Things are different now. Today, infants are born into the anonymous hands of people they may never see again. They are swaddled and laid in rows in bassinets, Baby Smith, Baby Lee. Their first labels. Their indoctrination begins at the beginning. The cries, the sounds, the faces, all this will fade, and be lost to them. They will move on to daycare, pre-school, first grade, second grade. The continual rotation of teachers, schoolmates, even the rooms and buildings they study in, inure the young to the perverse influences of social impersonality. By the age of 12 most children cede in utter unquestioning concession to the unbearable weight of being. They are already experts at suppressing the primitive senses. They are the ghost in the shell of Mamoru Oshii’s dystopic human being. Strangers stream past them, the faceless white noise of modernity. Today’s children are born into the void.
We all know the process. We too have internalized the isolative overdrive of the present, not blindly, not happily, but, as Lewis Mumford would say, “...with more abject obedience than terror alone could achieve.” As we age, we reify the process. This is how things are now. But we will anyway pass the iconic nobodies of life over the radar of our anticipation, hunting for facsimiles, replicas, approximate versions of ourselves. Because deep inside, so deep nothing can ever erase it, is the longing for a true human compliment, someone who speaks our language, shares our passions, our intensities, our instincts, our fears, our noble goals. Everything. But usually the radar detects only errors and we waver in-decisively. Maybe there is no one out there. Maybe we can settle for the closest thing.
How did these two populations, that of the past, and that of the present, come to be so different? What happened to that other world? History covets such revelations. Today we know that few abandon such a life willingly. Things were done. But what was done, at the time, wasn’t even a crime. To the contrary, it was heroic. It was messianic. Because when Christopher Columbus and his crew regarded the naked naturalist populations of the new world, the first mission was wealth and power, the second was to crush out everything unfamiliar, everything not like them. And they succeeded so well in these goals, they fixed for all time the landmark and by now almost Sabbath notion of the justness of colonialism. Their achievements have survived the trials of time and they are immortalized. They opened the conquered lands to the architecture of industrialization, the genius of the germ theory, advanced weaponry, fashion, and an otherwise almost imponderable body of knowledge festered into existence in the plague-ridden hubs of Europe. Along with the barbarism of soulless greed, the intrepid adventurers of the age of exploration brought with them the bounties of technical and scientific ingenuity and the fortitude of spirit necessary to impose these towering gifts on a naked people who had nothing.
Modern multiculturalists, after having cleared aside the atrocities of history so as to view the pure core of the blessings colonialism conferred upon the world, ruminate and apologetically sanctify the assault. The primitive people were lost, Columbus found them. For this he has been historically indemnified. He sailed under the flags of commerce and entrepreneurial consciousness became the condescending hallmark of our times. He changed our world, rewrote future history and generated an alternate future world-view. He and the other adventurers crisscrossed the globe victoriously destabilizing cultures, unable to detect the subtle shifting in the well of social souls their victories authorized for the generations. They were on a proud mission of inevitability and there was probably no way they could have known what they were doing or understood why their distant descendants would politely shun each other and live implausibly humbled and cautious all the time. The dazzling colossus of cultural decay set into motion by colonialism, exploration and global commerce weakened the laws of social attraction and tempted the human world into severance and decay. Their pursuit of adventure, privilege, and prosperity, has devastated culture upon culture and erased thousands of years of tribal knowledge and social continuity from the Earth and replaced it with shopping plazas and urban landscapes as sterile to human cultural well-being as the vacuums of outer space. As we now know, the mission the conquerors set out on was a mission of human estrangements.
Emigrant millions flooded out of beloved, old-world homelands sheared of familiarities and regimes of life evolved over centuries – even millennia. The global population shifts rose out of other displacements– the collapse of feudalism, the rise of capitalism, and the industrial revolution – and initiated inter-continental casualties of cultural bereavement. Most of the pioneers would never rediscover all of what they had left behind. They would become the “new people.” They would be hated and feared. Their greatest thinkers would earn renown critiquing their own disastrously flawed social associations. The new world would be populated by strangers. It would be built by strangers, run by strangers, ruled by strangers, and their dead would lie among strangers in the cemeteries of the new land.
Incoming surges of invasive populations, already displaced from cultural identity, are helpless. For them life is a puzzle. How to stay healthy is a mystery. What to eat is a mystery. Every generation meets a world made new by the impetus of chronic novelty and the incessant social upheaval this novelty foments. Here there are no sacred places. Sacred lands are an enigma. There is no community. Communalness is unthinkable– unbearable. Tradition fades. Even families deteriorate. The standing populations have no meaningful social aim or direction. They are a mystery to themselves and a menace to everything else.
The grand corrosive compromise of our times – the psychology of the conquering ages – has produced an intransient, rational, over-specialized world where the modern neo-nomadic homeless hoards have settled into a state of permanently arrested cultural evolution. Lionel Tiger called it, “Emotional rigormortis.” A disease of the present. In the initial phase, so many strangers monopolizing the horizon must have been shocking, stunning. The daily assault now drifts passively into our systems shutting things down, deconstructing the tribe day after day. “I’ve… heard footsteps, seen the fading dust cloud of Diaspora, felt at least a candle’s worth of Holocaust, heard echoes…” Thanks to the adventurers of history, we falter toward one another, even toward our image in the mirror. Are we prisoners of war? Are we slaves? If not, where are our people?
“Hello, My name is Bob.” At least that’s what the nametag says. It also says, “I am a victim of psycho-social dismemberment. I don’t know you and I probably never will.” The label implies a precondition of impermanence and superficiality and a lack of interest in you, whoever you are. It proclaims a temporary dissolution of the process of formative acquaintanceships. It’s a signal – you will not be expected to remember anything they say, or care. Labels bypass the old standards and substitute new methods based on the ebbing enthusiasms and the incremental erosions of modern social life. We don’t object. Best not to ask more than society cares to give. We are comfortable not knowing who these people are. The label guards the outposts of social isolation.
It’s a new and unusual social category – people we don’t know and may never meet again, meaningful only in the aggregate. The doors are opened. Seats must be filled. It doesn’t matter by whom. Just interchangeable biologic units relieved of the burdens of familiarity. Better to pray with strangers than to pray alone. Better to join an impermanent social coalescence that anyway allows total strangers to refer to you by name. Time is short. Times have changed. Modernity prefers a cursory social experience. Just relax. Nothing significant or wise or memorable needs to happen. These are the times of social splitting, the decay of perceptual conditioning, the breakdown of the cohesive bonds that once rooted us to place and aligned us with our kind. I know what is happening to you. There has been a death. Our counterparts have died. In our desolation we live on.
This slyly intoned anonymity has become a conditioned norm. Intense congregations of strangers diffuse the gregarious instinct. And another instinct surfaces, a kind of reluctancy passing as tolerance. Theaters, churches, parties, workplace seminars – these are the laboratories of reverse social alchemy, where all the cultural gold is spun back into straw. Here’s where we perfect our talents of dehumanization. Before, you may have been a warrior, greeting fate with legendary bravery. Now, you are a culture of one, a gang of one, a jury of one, sequestered. We are a population of stellar crystals, no two alike, two hundred and seventy million markets of one in the hyperselectivity of modern-day marketing. It has all been sanctioned by social temporariness – the sand dunes of uncertainty, the deterioration of your reflection in the glass. There is little there now but shadowy silhouettes of narcissism. The fabric of hereditary cohesion has unraveled leaving behind a society feeding on its own toxicity. History has fixed our dearest undreamt dreams inside us. Oh, to never have to talk to strangers again, never to have to try to make them understand you.
We are the uprooted people in contact daily with others we do not know, may fear, and may never meet again, people who will demand only a fraction of our attention or concern. Escape is rare and fleeting. You can stand in line and fill the stadium. Everyone there will share a passing passion. The stranger on the stage entertains the strangers that have paid to see them. It’s not free, such unity. The lights go down and now, electrifying synchronicity! All are tuned to unanimity! But the tidal bore of ticket holders will soon recede and you will be alone again. It’s like a practice for death and dying. Or maybe you could follow the entertainers, and prolong the sensation. Join the slipstream of consciousness to catch a glimpse of what once was sanctioned social heritage. It could be we suffer from undiagnosed multiple personality disorder splitting ourselves in ritualized self-mutilation. Each personality has a different wardrobe, different jargon, different rules of social order, different friends who don’t care to know each other. We are internally programmed to be in and out of touch with ‘the other me.’ Each of us is far more specialized in our own psyche than we are in the labor force or academia. We are subdivided against the self and much of our lives are spent ‘passing’ as somebody else.
When Whites first entered the New Zealand high-lands, the native people there thought they were their ancestors returned from the dead. They were so pale. Today they know the difference, but when the tourist boats land, still they say, “The dead have arrived.” The dead are now arriving all over the world. Vacation – from the Latin – vacatio – freedom. The modern extreme sport. We will uproot the tentative tendrils of constancy and lie on a beach with people speaking foreign languages. Maybe it will be beautiful there and therapeutic. But, surely, where you are living should be beautiful and it should be your sacred home. As a species, we strayed outside the tropics on the crutch of agriculture and beyond that on a meat-based subsistence diet. A craving to get away is symptomatic. In general, the world belongs to those who stay at home.
Home? That would be the alabaster thrall of apartment asylums a little bit like death row. Even time-travelers could tell from a distance there is a problem. Monstrous buildings imply towering social hierarchies draining the timeless zones into the world of clocks and mechanisms. Theaters – beloved names on the marquee – supermarkets, waiting-rooms, churches, museums, mortuaries. These are the places where the “lobotomized dwarfs” of the Lewis Mumford present intermingle, keeping the genuine instincts on hold. Beyond this there are neighborhoods of tidy houses. Inside the folks are waiting for something. Sure, you should love thy neighbor as thyself, but probably, first, you should know them. They say agoraphobia is a pathogenic response to social distress. But they have it wrong. It’s not that these people fear going out, it’s that they yearn to stay in. They yearn for familiar things, sameness, control, continuity. For some, at least, it’s better to pray alone than to pray with strangers. Uprooted people are fearful and will build a world of limits and seal themselves inside it. They’ve been sensitized, which is a condition we may all be working toward. Already we need our space. Are we deranged? A crisis hotline? Yes, strangers have trained for years to help people much like yourself cope with life’s indignities. Support groups offer you a chair. AA, NA, AL ANON, adoption support groups, rape crisis centers. The Amber alert. The Megan law. The Lindberg baby. There is a vast network of strangers in place helping each other get by. Have they any sense at all what the problem is?
If you fall sick, the emergency room is the place for you. Health care professionals. If you die, there’ll be a marker, a marble nametag identifying your place of rest. Without a tombstone, your loved ones will not know which grave to lay the flowers on. But before the burial, somebody will have to find you where you took your last breath. Businesses specializing in cleaning up after the dead confess they are not often called to scenes of violent crime and murder. Usually someone has died alone and lain so long before discovery that their bodies have begun decomposing, silently melting into the T.V. chair. What will the autopsy reveal? Blood type, fingerprints, visible scars. Just another human genome archetype packed with tantalizing morsels of chemical perfectibility. When the genome is all mapped out, the golden age they’ve promised will finally dawn upon us. “From dust thou art to dust thou shall return?” That’s just the way naïve angels say things. We’ll be embalmed for future reference, future museum trophies. It’s like a reenactment of Sylvia Plath’s poem. “...I am the magician’s girl who does not flinch. What have they accomplished? Why am I cold?”
Populations are becoming a standing mausoleum of human artifacts already a little out of date. A culture of artifacts, or perhaps a cult Our age is becoming peripheral even to itself. We are not the ideal species. We are weakened by strangers. They weaken us. So we give into a future of digital detachment and isolation, and to the reign of personalized nationalism. Each of us is being nudged into antiquity by the force of anonymity – edging toward a future of museums and voiceless mummies. We’re not the only ones. Museums are the fallout shelters for the Christopher Columbus atomic bomb that feeds on the uneven unparallels of the present and recent past. We, the living, visit such places shamelessly viewing the forensic detritus of former times that collapsed around simpletons too idealistic to survive. Apparently, cultural amnesia is a disease fatal only to those uninfected by it.
Museums codify the domino theory of civilization. The more museums, the faster the pace of loss, more cultures driven to oblivia. It’s a controlled panic. Dead artifacts buried by the momentum of minutia and the oceanic flux modernity feeds upon, sustaining nothing. And many, many more museums are needed by now. There is simply no way to adequately house the losses of our times. This is all a melioration. It’s meant to pacify us, so that the mission the explorers set in motion will seem wondrous. “See, we’re saving everything. ”Without Christopher Columbus so many people would still be stuck in yesterday and decomposing there.
A society of mandatory strangers is the power that keeps modernity going. A collective would rise up and shut it down. To allow civilization to continue, we simply cannot know each other too well. Of course, in the end, none of this matters. We are gradually losing the capacity to become humiliated. Once the sublevels of cohesive attraction are destroyed the decay rate severs the mother bonds, the blood bonds, the human quantum knowledge base. These days we don’t know too much about the past or graves that didn’t need name tags. Identity theft? What’s left to steal?
Is there anywhere further down we can goon the conveyor belt to nowhere? We are already on the digital, virtual, microchip path. The radio, the television, the movies – phantom qualities of secondhand human beings. Voices and images we will come to accept into our inner circle of icy intimacy. These are the specialized, intangible people of the present. Often it’s enough to build an obsession on. There is the news to keep abreast of. All kinds of things are happening to people far away. Strangers are dying, getting married, having babies. We can follow presidential campaigns to get to know the candidates. Our future rulers. Familiar strangers, in charge of everything. The phone, the internet, email – a bonanza of disembodied attributes! Acquaintanceships wisely hiding all dissimilarities. Or open a book. The written word is the way people unknown to each other communicate. Telephone buddies, chat room pals, words spewing out across the screen. World Beat –the music of strangers. Out there somewhere is your multiple-personality soul-mate. If things go wrong, rebuild the firewalls, terminate all external links and become reclusive. In a fragmented society, it is destined that the forces of specialization will calcify human social freshness. In its place, a fragment of a friend pulled out of Frankenstein’s boneyard. Strangers on the street are far too intimate, not quite specialized enough, too complicated, and sadly, sadly, different than we are.
We cannot survive this way. Like rats and coyotes, we humans are generalists. Simplification of natural and social systems favors such species as ours, which can often adapt to the changes, whatever they are. But, usually, for each human society, the survival skills that back up adaptations are passed on as a coherent body of teachings. In our case, this cognitive pact has been broken. It was broken in us, and in those before us and those before them. The intergenerational human system of common thinking that once protected the tribes and the world around them has atrophied and set us on an unfortunate path. At this point, we are just unidealized vessels for technological minutia. No matter how many indentured strangers gather together, they can never hold enough common, generalized knowledge to allow us to survive. Analytically derelict cultures such as ours cannot even hope to outlast the generations of an average anthill. It’s a mathematical imperative. Anthropologists have theorized that for human cultures to endure, it would be best not to let cognitive trust populations to dip too low. Estimates vary. To hold on to enough functional information, it’s important the members of the trust remain well acquainted and stable geographically. The indigenous Tasmanians are the champions here. They lived in small groups isolated from contact with other cultures for 12,000 years before being discovered by the British and wiped out. They survived in their wild world with a compliment of only 24 cultural artifacts, giving them the title of the most ‘primitive’ people alive in recent times. Will we ever be so clever? The comprehensive hive-mind they shared allowed the Tasmanians to survive.
But, we are modern. So we are at a disadvantage. Modernity makes us stupid. Not by killing brain cells, although it surely does, but by displacing us from the land and destabilizing the cognitive trust. And, of course, by monopolizing our time. Culture should take care of all basic human needs. That’s why it was invented. It should solve things for us, and set us free. In an over-controlled society, such as ours, one has to create one’s own reality, and cope with the ever-present conundrum of what to be and what to do, where to live, what to wear, and where to eat, and so on. This brings out certain qualities. It’s been theorized that if we were to check on the planet in 1000 years, and if humans were still here, we’d likely find it populated by type ‘A’ personalities. In that world, flashes of group autonomic expressiveness may remain situational improbabilities. The type A life doesn’t allow much time for the hivemind or the genius of self to manifest.
But citizens of the present prefer a culture that doesn’t hem them in. They want to do whatever they want to do. Eat out, vacation in Hawaii, quit their job, move to Missouri, collect Ming pottery. This is the modern rebel on the road with Jack Kerourac demanding more individuality, more self-indulgence, more instantaneous wish fulfillment. Inhabitants of the present want to distance themselves from their parents stuck in the past. They don’t want the dark ages falling in on them. These are the cultural eunuchs cynical beyond their years suffering from chronic uprootedness, or what Marshall Berman refers as a “... a perpetually renewed form of suicide.” They guard select accomplishments and thrive on absolution. Maybe abandoning culture altogether will cure them.
But, this is not what we need. We need a robust, rooted, mirror-image society of savages that magnifies our image, empowers us and protects us. We have the job of resuscitating ourselves. And there’s no one to help us out. Rebuilding the collective will be a painful and humbling effort that we truly may not have the strength for. Failure is possible. We are coded for the past but we don’t live there. A society of idiosyncratic strangers is going to have trouble getting it done. Maybe like Helen Keller reassembling the Titanic. In the case of anti-civilizationists, maybe the Luddites and the vegans and the road kill addicts and the agrarians need to shake hands and talk it out. There is a planetary problem affecting everything. It’s a war the lonely orphans of the present were born into. There are only two options, to fight or to give in. If we fight this war and if we win and we survive, and we are able and allowed to live on, and rebuild everything and heal the deep wounds, we may be rewarded with the chance to submit to the Earth unconditionally, to stay home and never give it up to anyone again.
Strangers Source Material:
The Myth of the Machine: The Pentagon of Power; Lewis Mumford
Against the Machine; Nicols Fox, 2002
Guns, Germs and Steel; Jared Diamond
Columbus: His Enterprise; Hans Konig
All That is Solid Melts into Air; Marshall Berman
The Technological Society; J. Ellul
The Culture of Technology; Arnold Pacey
The Mission, film 1989; directed by Chris Menges
Technopoly; Neil Postman
Invisible Frontiers; Stephen Hall, 1987
Conditions of the Working Class in England; F. Engels
Ghost in the Shell, film; directed by Mamoru Oshii
The Manufacture of Evil; Lionel Tiger
Cannibal Tours, documentary film; directed by Dennis O’Rourke
Discover Magazine, 3/9, pgs 48-57
Radio I.Q., This American Life, Jan 2005
Portraits of the White Man: Linguistic Play and Cultural Symbols Among the Western Apache; Keith Basso
First Contact; Bob Connelly and Robin Anderson
The Need for Roots: Prelude to a Declaration of Duties Toward Mankind; Simone Weil
From The Bee Meeting, the Collected Poems; Sylvia Plath 1962
Indigenous and Campesino Resistance
"Our freedom fighters are poorly armed, often having to make do with spears and bows and arrows to fight the Indonesian army, yet despite our poor military equipment, we have been strong enough to stand up against Indonesia’s military machine for more than 30 years. No one can deny we are strong."
-Moses Werror, Chairman of the Free West Papua (OPM) Revolutionary Council
January 1-3, Lima, Peru: Four Cops Killed by Gunmen
Gunmen belonging to a separatist indigenous group seized a police station in remote southern Peru and then ambushed a police vehicle responding to the scene, killing four cops and wounding several more. The attackers demanded the resignation of President Alejandro Toledo.
January 3, Manaus, Brazil: Indigenous Occupation of Government Buildings
At least 100 indigenous leaders and community members began occupying the offices of the Brazilian government’s National Indigenous Foundation (FUNAI) in the capital of Amazonas state, to demand the removal of Benedito Rangel de Moraes as the regional head of FUNAI, and the demarcation of the Mura indigenous reserve in Altazes municipality. The protesters were pressing for resolution of other issues in specific communities, including an end to the constant invasion of loggers in the indigenous territory of Novo Airao. On January 20, after receiving a federal judge’s order to vacate the FUNAI offices, the occupiers—now numbering some 340 members from 18 different ethnic groups, and including about 40 children—threatened to burn down the building if the police intervened. The indigenous burned tires in the street outside the building, and armed themselves with bows and venom-tipped arrows and other traditional weapons in preparation to confront any attempt at eviction.
January 11, Guatemala: Two Mayan Farmers Murdered
Two indigenous farmers were killed for opposing Canada-U.S. mining operations in Guatemala during a confrontation with 3,000 military and security forces sent to protect a convoy of mining equipment owned by Glamis Gold Limited (GGL). GGL, listed on both the Toronto and New York stock exchanges, houses its Canadian operation in Vancouver, BC. Under the former Guatemalan administration, the corporation obtained exploration permits, and with support money from the World Bank, invested $254 million in an open pit/underground site located in Sipacapa, Department of San Marcos. The Marlin project, as it is known, is expected to extract 13.3 million tons of gold for the corporation over an 11-year period.
There is widespread opposition throughout Guatemala to the project. For 40 days, Guatemalan residents protested and blockaded convoys on the Pan American Highway carrying mining equipment into the western highlands. On January 8, the Minister of the Interior threatened to bring in troops to accompany the convoy. On January 11, he made that threat a reality, resulting in the deaths of the two men and injuries to many others.
Early February, West Papua: OPM Guerrilla Goliat Tabuni Continues To Evade Capture
The Indonesian military is expressing concern that a particularly experienced and capable OPM brigade – guided by renowned guerrilla fighter Goliat Tabuni – is active again in the Highlands of West Papua. Goliat Tabuni, an enormously competent OPM warrior and strategist, is prominent for his ambushes on Indonesian military forces and has had a large price on his head since 2001, but continues to elude arrest. “Goliat Tabuni and his members are still in Puncak Jaya. I got this information from the church members” said Elieser Renmaur, “Regent” of Puncak Jaya. “They always wage guerilla warfare in the forests and always try to look for opportunity to attack when we are not alert”, lamented the distressed governmental lackey.
Reports of Goliat Tabuni's undefeated presence in the Highlands is momentous news, as it comes at a time when West Papua is bracing itself for a new wave of colonial predation and “resource” obliteration. For instance, Harmony Gold (a mining conglomerate) has won in-principle approval for its new Hidden Valley Gold mine near Lae. If the mine opens on schedule, mid-this year, it will be the first new large-or-medium-sized gold mine to open in Papua New Guinea in eight years. Hidden Valley has been 20 years in the making and there can be no doubt that the so-called peace process/spurious elections will sign over the fate of the region to international finance. The premeditated political conspiracy for opening the mine is to use “democracy” as the flag standard to justify conflict & killing over the access to the NO GO ZONE.
Additionally, in late February 2005, environmental investigators claim to have uncovered massive timber smuggling from Indonesia's Papua province to China. The London- based Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) said 300,000 cubic meters of merbau wood - a hardwood mainly used for flooring - is being smuggled out of Papua every month to feed China's timber processing industry. “It's probably the largest smuggling case that we've come across in our time of research on illegal logging in Indonesia,” said Julian Newman, the group's head of forest campaigns.
The investigation has revealed that in a just a few years, a small anchorage in eastern China has been transformed into the largest tropical log trading port in the world. A nearby town has become a global center for wood flooring production with 500 factories together consuming one merbau tree every minute. The EIA said logging in Papua involves Indonesian military and civilian officials, Malaysian logging gangs and multinational companies, brokers in Singapore and dealers in Hong Kong. Indonesia is losing forest areas the size of Switzerland every year.
This tree extraction enterprise is run by international syndicates that stretch across Asia, depending on the police and military who allow heavily-laden boats to sail from Indonesian waters, and forge deals with local communities to cut the timber and guard logging sites. In light of these upcoming and ongoing onslaughts, we wish the undaunted warriors of the OPM the best of luck in their clash with the civilized world.
February 14, Mexico: Mining Company Tells Subanen Community to Cooperate or Face Immediate Eviction
Eighty-six Subanen families face eviction from their Ancestral Domain at the hands of the Canadian Mining company TVI Pacific Inc. The company is offering each family 250,000 pesos ($4,600) for their cooperation in this forced relocation. Three of the families have already received formal notices from the company. These families are among the many farmers who have been actively opposing the operations of the mining firm.
Timuay Boy Anoy, a Subanen spokesperson, has responded to the recent pressure by saying that TVI will only have its wishes “over our slain bodies”. He has stated further that “Even if it means death, we will continue fighting TVI because our land is our life and it has already been taken from us by TVI, which does not have the slightest respect for our indigenous rights and sacred practices.” TVI started open pit gold mining in Sitio Canatuan last year under a Mineral Production Sharing Agreement that they gained in 1998. Starting at the top of Mt. Canatuan, the Company has steadily worked its way down the mountain with earth scraping bulldozers. TVI operations are now just 15 meters from the houses of some members of the Canatuan community.
March, Guatemala: Furious Protests as New Trade Agreement Passes
At least six people were injured as Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) protests intensified on March 9. Thousands of National Civilian Police agents cordoned off a two-block area around the Guatemalan Congress building and used tear gas and nightsticks to disperse a demonstration of almost 2,000 participants. Elsewhere in Guatemala City, 10 men in ski masks stopped a bus, asked the passengers to get off and then set the vehicle on fire.
Thousands of Guatemalans demonstrated around the country on March 14 in a national strike called by the Indigenous Campesino Union and Popular Movement (MISCP) to protest the March 10 ratification by Congress of the CAFTA and to demand that President Oscar Berger not sign the measure, which joins Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and the U.S. in a trade bloc. Starting early in the morning, hundreds of campesinos blocked highways in various locations, including Cumbrede Santa Elena, Baja Verapaz department; San Agustin Acasaguatlan, El Progreso; Morales, Izabal; San Vicente Pacaya, Escuintla; el Zarco, Retalhuleu; and Coatepeque, Quetzaltenango. In Quiche, protesters shut down the departmental headquarters of the Governance Ministry, in addition to blocking the highway in Sacapulas municipality.
Protests continued around the country on March 15-16. At least one demonstrator was killed when police and soldiers tried to break up the highway blockade at Puente Naranjales in Colotenango. The police used tear gas and smoke bombs on the protesters. A group of campesinos began hurling rocks onto the agents from cliffs overlooking the highway, and the police responded with bullets. Juan Lopez Velasquez, a teacher and member of the Campesino Unity Committee and the leftist Guatemalan National Revolutionary Unity, was apparently beaten by the police and then killed with a shot to the head at point blank range.
April 5, Chile: Mapuche’s Land Recovery Is In Full Effect!
For several days police tried with no success to take over the Mapuche community of Rankilhue near LleuLleu, located in the province of Arauco. The police were trying to seize wood that was taken by the Mapuche in their land recovery process. Although no Mapuche was arrested this time, some of the pigs involved in the operation were badly injured by shotguns and slingshots; they had no other choice but to leave the community. This is not the first time Mapuche people have taken over lands, or wood owned by big companies, and it will probably not be the last time.
April 15, Quito, Ecuador: Protests Swell In The Streets
After three consecutive days of protests by thousands of Ecuadorans in the capital, on April 15 Ecuadoran president Lucio Gutiérrez declared a state of emergency in the Quito metropolitan area and dissolved the Supreme Court of Justice. The move sparked more and larger protests, with demonstrators calling Gutiérrez a dictator and demanding the immediate departure of the government and the entire political class. The next day, April 16, Gutiérrez backed down and revoked the state of emergency.
The mobilizations in Quito picked up steam on April 13 with a “cacerolazo,” in which demonstrators banged on pots and pans, followed by a “reventón” – bursting of balloons – on April 14 and a “tablazo” on April 15, in which protesters made noise with pieces of wood. On April 16, protesters hurled streams of toilet paper at the main government building in a “rollazo,” suggesting the need to wipe clean the excrement of corruption. Scheduled for April 17 was a “basurazo,” in which demonstrators planned to dump garbage at the Congress building. Meanwhile, the city council of Cuenca announced an “escobazo” (loosely translated, a broom attack) for April 17 to “clean up the country.” A local radio station in Quito, Radio La Luna, has played a key role by spreading word of the mobilizations and opening up the airwaves to citizens who wanted to express their anger at the government.
April 15, Belize: Conflict Over Telecommunications
A conflict in Belize over control of telecommunications has sparked a series of strikes and protests against Prime Minister Said Musa and his People’s United Party. The conflict is centered on ownership of Belize Telecommunications Ltd (BTL), the government telecommunications company, which enjoys a near-monopoly over phone service in the country.
At some point before 5am, BTL’s entire network went down due to apparent acts of sabotage. The system of another company, Speednet, went down shortly after 8 am. Over that weekend and into the next week, Belize remained virtually cut off from the world, without phone, internet or fax services. BTL technicians refused to repair the damage until the ownership issue was resolved. The government flew in Nortel engineers from Mexico; they had nearly completed repairs when another apparent act of sabotage collapsed the system again.
On April 17, the National Trade Union Congress of Belize (NTUCB), which represents some 15,000 workers, wrote an open letter to Prime Minister Musa, saying it “wishes to join the thousands of other Belizeans in registering our loss of confidence in your leadership” and calling on Musa and his entire government to resign. That night, rocks and bottles were thrown outside the BTL compound, and a spokesperson for the Government Press Office, Vaughn Gill, was beaten by an angry mob. Rocks were also thrown at Prime Minister Musa’s house, located down the street from BTL. Musa and his family had been evacuated to the Princess Hotel.
Native American Political Prisoners:
Byron Shane Chubbuck #07909051, US Penitentiary, PO Box 1000, Leavenworth, KS 66048. Indigenous rights activist serving time for robbing banks in order to acquire funds to support the Zapatista rebellion in Chiapas, Mexico.
Eddie Hatcher #0173499, ECI, PO Box 215, Maury, NC 28550. Longtime Native American freedom-fighter being framed fora murder he did not commit.
Leonard Peltier #89637-132, PO Box 1000, Leavenworth, KS 66048. American Indian Movement (AIM) activist, serving two Life sentences, having been framed for the murder of two FBI agents.
Luis V. Rodriguez #C33000, PO Box 7500, Crescent City, CA 95532-7500. Apache/Chicano activist being framed for the murder of two cops.
Tewahnee Sahme #11186353, SRCI, 777 Stanton Blvd, Ontario, OR 97914. Dedicated Native rights advocate serving additional time for a prison insurgency.
David Scalera (Looks Away) #13405480, TRCI, 82911 Beach Access Rd, Umatilla, OR 97882. Dedicated Native rights advocate serving additional time for a prison insurgency.
Spotlight on Mapuche Political Prisoners In Chile
“The President Lagos and his new law against the “terrorists” want to have us in jail. As a poor Mapuche, they humiliate us. They have our communities under daily harassment in their houses, this also occurs with the families of Jaime and Patrician Marileo Saravia, of the community Jose Guiñon, that are condemned by 10 years in prison; the family of Huenchullan Cayul of Temucucui, and also many more Mapuche families in the Ninth and Eighth region. Here I am in a judgment, and my uncle of 69 years continues being allanado to any hour of the day or at night. The cops interrogate the small children; have beaten up women, they threaten them with their weapons, ‘and who says something about it?’, I ask myself.
Those are some of the things that I want the people to know on the abuses of cops and of the Chilean justice system against my people, I am here prisoner in an unjust trail accused of setting fire to the Poluco Pidenco property of the wood company “Forestal MININCO”, and they accuse me of being a terrorist.
But for us there is not justice; we are Mapuches, the state only protects the rich and remembers the natives when it’s useful for them, when they want to look good in front of the other countries, so everybody believes that in Chile they respect us. That’s not true, even in this so-called socialist government, they keep us prisoners, and only because we are Mapuche! We are Mapuche and we defend what is ours and we don’t feel ashamed of that.”
–Juan Carlos Huenulao Lienmil, Mapuche political prisoner
The Mapuche political prisoners are all those Mapuche whose liberty has been taken, or is in the process of being taken, as a result of their participation in actions that aim at the reconstruction of the Mapuche people’s culture, meaning the lands recovery processes, or exercising territorial control on recovered grounds. Thus the following circumstances are outlined:
Resisting the advance of wood companies, power plants, and touristic Mega-Projects installed in Mapuche territory.
Victims of the repression, harassment or pursuit exercised against the Mapuche communities in struggle.
Exercising the legitimate right to self-defense set against the repression from the private companies and Chilean state.
With the previous criteria, clearly our brothers and sisters are not “criminals” or “delinquents” as the oppressive state has tried to brand them. On the other hand, the political character of the imprisonments, also obeys the laws that apply to the Mapuche people, like: the law of interior security of the state and the anti-terrorist law, designed in the military dictatorship and legitimized today by the same government’s people that required its banning during those times.
Clearly these are laws that seek the protection and perpetuation of the power of capitalist economic groups and of the ruling classes that exploit the state to maintain their privileges and domination towards the Mapuche people and Chilean people.
Listing of Mapuche Political Prisoners (brought up to date on May 1, 2005)
Prison of Angol: Pedro Aguirre Cerda N° 80 y Los Confines s/n°, Angol, IX Región, Chile
Jaime Marileo Saravia, Patrician Marileo Saravia, Jorge Manquel Towers, Patrician Troncoso oak Trees, Jaime Huenchullan, Pedro Queipul, and José Nain (also: the recently detained Cristian Calhueque Millanao will probably be transferred here as well).
Prison of Traiguén: Coronel Gregorio Urrutia N° 129,Traiguén, IX Región, Chile
Aniceto Norin Catriman (community Didaico) and Pascual Pichun Paillalao (community Temulemu)
Prison of Concepcion: Camino a Penco N°450 Casilla: 70, Chile
Víctor Ancalaf Llaupe (community Choin Lafkenche)
Between earth and sky
Paradise. It is around the hope for it that religion has been able to gather the oppressed, soothing them with the obligation of patience and submission. But when paradise ceases to be something to wait for, in order to become a place to conquer on earth, religious discourse leaves behind the quality of “opiate of the people” in order to become a detonator of the rage of the poor.
In the millenarian tendencies of the Christian Middle Ages, paradise was the place of abundance and freedom, and was supposed to descend from heaven for a Millennium: the Apocalypse would open the door to it, destroying the world of injustice, with a movement that welded human revolt and divine thunderbolts.
The idea of the Apocalypse conveyed the absolute refusal of a world that the disinherited could not think of as their own and gave form to a boundless dream, and an equally absolute promise of happiness. In this new era of means, however, the reasons for refusal pile up endlessly while the hope for a different life seems to have been destroyed.
The discourse of the new fundamentalism gives breath to this desperation that on the one hand no longer desires the end of the world and on the other hand no longer wants to bring paradise down onto the earth. Its strength resides precisely in being a response to a mass uprooting that is much broader and more violent than that furnished by ethnic and nationalist discourse. If it is true that the erosion of concrete links between human beings gives birth to their research into the mythicized form, with religious discourse, the community into which the uprooted are invited to integrate themselves is no longer the restricted one of ethnicity or nation, but the potentially immense community of believers. By welding the reference to single territories and specific populations with the community of believers (the Moslem umma, for example), religious discourse succeeds in confronting social fractures that have the whole world as their theater. Keeping paradise well locked up beyond the heavens, then, fundamentalists describe the planet as a place of corruption that it is impossible to redeem but that can only be governed harshly by the wise ones who incarnate the law of God.
This is how, for example, Islamic fundamentalist groups can penetrate into the heart of the social struggles of half the world, from Palestine to the outskirts of Paris, from Bosnia to Chechnya, in order to bend the immense force of the refusal of the world to the service of a political, economic and religious racket that has nothing to do with hopes for a liberated life.
Revolt itself changes form when it fuses with the project of God over the world. We think of the kamikazes who blow themselves up in the midst of civilians. They respond, sometimes simultaneously, to three needs. The first is that for desperate revenge of one who has grown up within a situation of such extreme dispossession as to no longer be able to take into account either her own life or that of others: It matters little whether it is those responsible or those who are merely passive spectators of the extermination.
The second is that of one who knows that with their death the implacable hand of God is acting in history, in a struggle between good and evil that puts every ethical consideration aside and that redeems a whole life in sacrifice. The third is that of a piece of the world that has lost confidence in the possibilities of the future to such an extent as to cling to the sanctity and purity of the martyrdom of its children, which even leads those who reject militant religiosity to accept its apocalyptic categories, perhaps from political expediency. It is in this sense that the sympathy with which even secular revolutionary groups look at the kamikazes can be read.
When God makes use of human hands, everything – even indiscriminate slaughter – is justified, and when hope in paradise remains something heavenly, happiness can be found only in sacrifice and martyrdom. These are the words that those who are desperately seeking an Apocalypse that no longer holds a memory of the Millennium cry out to us:
Hold all things in common; otherwise, the scourge of God will fall upon everything that you have in order to spoil it and consume it. And God will dry every tear from your eyes; and death will be no more, nor will there be anymore sorrow or weeping or pain; because the things there were before are past.
For the moment, the ruling order controls the possibility that this need for the apocalypse could become the dream and practice of social revolt through the authority of fear. It experiments in a manner that is increasingly rapid and chaotic with social alarms with which it continues to hide real problems and ward off every subversive threat. Or else it opposes every more or less broad group that protests with the necessity of a supposed common good that is more and more obviously the good of Nobody, i.e., of the state. The police truncheon, in such a sense, only continues the work of scientists, city planners, “communication experts”: social isolation. We live in an epoch of means, in which, behind its appearance of dead times, the continuous catastrophe of Progress hides and hatches enormous social conflicts. To the lovers of freedom, keeping their senses quite alert in the face of every humiliation that will be inflicted on them, and disciplining themselves until [...] suffering would no longer have opened the rapid descent of discouragement, but rather the rising path of revolt.
- some anarchist thieves
Ecological Resistance From Around the World
“Let us withdraw more than just our vote from the Great Machine and its servants. We must completely cease playing along with it whenever this is possible. We must gradually paralyze everything that goes in the old direction: military installations and motorways, nuclear power stations and airports, chemical factories and big hospitals, supermarkets and education works. Let us consider how we can feed ourselves, keep warm, clothe ourselves, educate ourselves and keep ourselves healthy and independent of the Great Machine. Let us begin to work at this before the Great Machine has completely regulated us, concreted us over, poisoned us, asphyxiated us and sooner or later subjected us to total nuclear annihilation. We must live differently in order to survive!“
- Rudolf Bahro
January 12, Auburn, California: ELF Attacks Construction Site in A Series of Actions
The FBI is doggedly investigating the attempted firebombing of a construction site in Northern California. Workers found five bombs at a business in Auburn, CA, the same kind as those discovered at a subdivision under construction in a nearby town in December. Crews disabled all the bombs. Officials say the Auburn business had sparked controversy because of the destruction of old trees. Graffiti at the scene in Auburn is also comparable to that found at the other ELF targets.
The incendiary devices were of corresponding manufacture to those found Dec. 27 at an upscale Lincoln subdivision a few miles away. The accelerant in all eight devices was a combination of gasoline and red dye diesel fuel commonly used in farm machinery. According to authorities, graffiti at the Lincoln homes was similar to that left at other local targets. Messages included “U will pay,” “Quit destroying their homes,” “Evasion” and “Leave”. The incindiary devices were detected in a development at Twelve Bridges, a golf-oriented, master-planned community in Lincoln. As many as 60 homes are under construction in the area.
The following day, arson investigators began revealing more about the attack. “It had two slats of wood across it. And on top of that was a timer with a battery hooked up to it. And then it went to a flare that had matches wrapped around it,” said Joe Paskey, who found one of the devices. Those devices were on top of 5-gallon buckets filled with diesel fuel. Investigators said they could have destroyed the entire complex. The ELF later claimed this action in a communiqué released on January 19. The letter stated that they wanted to do economic damage to JTS Development, the house builder. The statement from “Agent Emma Goldman and the Crimethinc. Senior Officers of the Earth Liberation Front” was too long to print, but quite provocative. Unfortunately, due to questionable circumstances, there have been a number of arrests in relation to these actions (see: “State Repression” section for details).
January 12, Lowell, Massachusetts: Verizon Begs FBI To Help Stop Phone-Wire Sabotage
Officials won’t say whether the vandalism that knocked out telephone service for Verizon customers in three area towns is considered by them to be a form of “domestic terrorism” or if they believe it is being done by a telecommunications professional. This most recent attack on Verizon equipment was the third incident in three months. On Jan. 5, eight telephone cables were cut in six Chelmsford spots. More than 300 customers lost service, some for more than five days. Nearly two months before, on Nov. 8, a single cable was cut in Chelmsford. Most recently, somebody used a saw to cut copper and fiber-optic telephone lines on the base of utility poles in Chelmsford, Westford, and Billerica during the early-morning hours.
Verizon spokesman Jack Hoey said the culprit does not necessarily have an anti-Verizon agenda. “It could be somebody just on a mission to cause vandalism,” he said. “Sometimes there’s no rhyme or reason.” Chelmsford police are on heightened alert for suspicious activity but said it is difficult to guard against another incident. “There’s so many different areas where this individual can attack,” he explained.
January 20, Swansboro, North Carolina:
Three Onslow County teens were charged in connection with vandalism at seven homes under construction. They evidently painted equipment with spray paint, stomped holes in the walls and kicked out windows. We don’t believe for a minute that because actions like this are small and seemingly “disconnected”, that they are politically insignificant; rather, they are part of a growing momentum to win our lives back from the jaws of death and shake off the somnambulance that has maintained our slavery for so many centuries. In fact, no action or attack, however small, leaves power unaffected. The horizontal spreading of these attacks is sabotaging projects of the powerful and uniting the exploited in a vast conspiracy of the self.
February 7, Sutter Creek, California: ELF Strikes Another Apartment Complex
An early morning arson at a new apartment complex seems to be the work of the ELF. Graffiti saying “We will win – ELF” was found at the site. There were seven individual fires set by seven incendiary devices. Four of the apartments suffered direct damage, others were ravaged by fires set in halls and by smoke. Most of the blazes were extinguished by a sprinkler system, but two uncompleted units were ruined. The California firebombs have unnerved the region’s construction industry, said Dennis Rogers, a senior vice president for the Building Industry Association of Superior California.
February 13, Auburn, California: Courthouse Targeted by Firebomb
Authorities were shocked to find a firebomb at the foot of the Placer County Courthouse’s entrance. FBI and local law enforcement converged on the scene of the latest in a string of firebomb plantings where ELF activists may have intended to burn down Auburn’s most recognizable landmark. A resident on a morning walk spotted a purple duffel bag outside the east entrance to the courthouse. The walker noticed a “suspicious odor” coming from it before contacting Auburn Police. The Placer County Explosives Ordinance Disposal team used a remote controlled robot to examine the contents of the bag.
This most recent incident comes on the heels of arson suspect Ryan Lewis’ arrest the previous week. Lewis, 21, of Newcastle, was charged with attempted arson in connection with a firebombing attempt in Auburn and arson for an apartment fire in Sutter Creek (See this issue’s “State Repression News” section for more details.)
February 14, Colorado: Hayduke Lives in Harvey Gap!
An unapprehended vandal didn’t do very serious damage after pulling a plug on Harvey Gap reservoir, but the Garfield County sheriff is taking a hardline approach with the incident. “We’re kind of treating it as eco-terrorism,” said Sheriff Lou Vallario, because the vandal left behind the graffiti message “Save the Gap.”
The Harvey Gap vandal cut through chains to open the reservoir’s release valve at night and between 60 cubic feet per second and 70 cubic feet per second of water flowed until about 6am the next morning, said Scott Dodero, manager of the Silt Water Conservancy District, which controls Harvey Gap. The Edward Abbey-style stunt freed about 50 acre-feet of water. The only reported detriment was to irrigation ditches, but the sheriff’s office has notified the FBI.
February 15, California: Another Bomb Found in Auburn–This Time at The DMV!
A pipe bomb unearthed in the early morning behind the Auburn office of the Department of Motor Vehicles prompted the FBI and local law enforcement to evacuate businesses in the area. What was originally considered a “suspicious package” turned out to be a bomb, the third planting of explosive devices found in Auburn in several weeks – the second in three days. Pig investigators refused to say if they believe the most recent bomb is connected to the Earth Liberation Front, which has claimed accountability for previous firebomb plantings in Placer County.
“It appears to be a pipe bomb with elbow PVC piping, duct tape on the ends with gunpowder in it,” said Kelly Baraga, spokeswoman for the California Highway Patrol. “There were wires or antennas sticking out of it.” Members of the Placer County Sheriff Department’s bomb squad used a bomb robot to investigate. City officials are scared shitless that the last two bombs were found near government buildings, not construction sites as in the past.
February 17, Albuquerque, New Mexico: Anti-Development Sabotuers Suspected in Arson
A new house that appears to have been intentionally lit on fire on Albuquerque’s Westside is being scrutinized by federal agents who are concerned “the blaze may be an incident of ecoterrorism.” The home, which was under construction, was the first being built on land at Unser and Montano near the Petroglyph National Monument, land considered sacred by some Native Americans. The home burned to the ground and, at the time, Albuquerque Fire Department officials said the blaze was suspicious because no electricity had been connected to the structure.
“We do have groups that are not happy with the development,” said Bill Elwell, Special Agent in Charge of the Albuquerque FBI field office. “We also had some billboards and other areas that were targeted with graffiti and it was very apparent that they were not happy with development out there.”
February 26, Lake Tahoe, California: Vandalism of Property Where Three Bears Were Killed
Unknown vandals caused $2,000 in damage to a Lake Tahoe home where three bears were fatally shot earlier in the month, and the owners think someone displeased with over the killings could be responsible. Russell and Diane Tonda told police that someone smashed windows, broke fan blades, tore lighting fixtures from walls, destroyed cabinets, and cut wires and gas lines on their snowblower. The Granite Bay couple said they’re considering selling their Tahoma-area “vacation home” after receiving dozens of phone calls and letters expressing anger over the bear shootings.
The vandalism was discovered by a housekeeper about a month after Russell Tonda secured a “depredation” permit from the state to kill one bear they believed had caused $100,000 in damage to their west shore home and was still sleeping under the house. The Tondas hired three licensed hunters, who fatally shot a mother bear and her two cubs.
March 2, West Java, Indonesia: Seventeen People Sentenced For Riot At Proposed Waste Processing Plant
A West Java court has sentenced 17 villagers to jail for involvement in a riot at a proposed waste processing plant in their community. The incident occurred during a protest at the plant, which is known to be hazardous to people’s health and the environment. Private guards defended the dump with teargas and live ammunition. At least five people were shot and wounded, and another 37 were beaten and detained (see Green Anarchy #19 for more details). Local legislators recommended the temporary closure of the plant, but Jakarta Governor Sutiyoso vowed to not give in to the actions of “anarchists”. About 143 villagers in the province were subsequently killed in February when a landslide at a rubbish dump buried their houses in dark mud and toxic waste. The 17 people received jail sentences for attempting to burn down the Bojong waste processing plant and employing sticks and rocks to smash buildings and vehicles.
We strongly support those imprisoned in Indonesia for attacking one of the many tentacles of this extremist system and seeking to halt the march of technology and technological progress. Taking on the Industrial Mega-Machine means assaulting this technological-political apparatus in all its forms. It means renewing forms of autonomy and creating unspoiled ones, fashioning face-to-face, egalitarian models of association, and undermining absolute Power by shaping a momentum of autonomous community with the desire and determination to destroy it.
March 2, Lopatcong, New Jersey: Vandalism Strikes Power Company Transformer
Jersey Central Power & Light Co. said someone tried to sabotage a local portion of its electrical grid, the first act directly against equipment since the utility’s union went on strike three months ago. “This action was obviously conducted by someone with a working knowledge of substation operations and an intent to sabotage the equipment,” JCP& L President Steve Morgan said in a news release. “Therefore, we cannot rule out that it may have been associated with the strike against JCP& L.”
Oil valves were opened on two transformers at the Marble Hill substation in Lopatcong Township, company spokesman Scott Surgeoner said. The act of vandalism caused an estimated several hundred gallons of oil to drain from the units. The oil serves as a coolant. A transformer is a device used for lowering the voltage level of electrical current. Surgeoner had no damage estimate. He said the hole cut in the fence measured about 2 feet by 2 feet, and the oil was contained within a concrete pad that extends around the area. This willful destruction was the third “suspect” incident since the strike began Dec. 8, utility spokesman Ron Morano said. The first was Jan. 22 when a fiber optic cable used for internal communications was cut. The other happened a few weeks later, when an independent trucker was leaving a JCP& L warehouse in Ocean County and drove past a picket line. Someone climbed into the cab and assaulted the driver. About 1,350 members of International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers System Council U-3 have been on strike since Dec. 8, with major issues focusing on health insurance costs and a company proposal to have some workers on 24-hour call. JCP& L sells electricity to 1 million customers in 13 counties in New Jersey, including Warren and Hunterdon.
Although the exact motives for this present offensive against JCP& L remain unknown, they do help to uncover the connections between the daily reproduction of misery and passivity in our own lives and the impelling automatism of the larger technological Megamachine, with its daily reproduction of ecological catastrophes. JCP& L is one small component of a larger, self-propelled, unitary mechanism that will not come to a halt until it reaches the ultimate destruction of all that contains a thrust towards life—or until it is destroyed. Transforming life is much more difficult than signing a petition or begging our rulers to grant us all survival out of the kindness of their non-existent hearts. It involves identifying and dismantling the technological infrastructure that makes it possible for this daily slaughter to go on, which is why we choose to accentuate actions like this in the pages of GA.
March 7, Fair Oaks, California:
Some Fair Oaks residents are concerned for their property after someone vandalized their vehicles. Keith Lott’s Ford pickup truck was tagged with “E.L.F.”. Lott believes he may have been targeted because his job is in construction equipment sales. His business is clearly visible on the side of the pickup truck. “I know ELF is very much against development and construction in the Sacramento area,” Lott said.
March 14, Tazewell, Tennessee:
Unknown individuals sabotaged a construction site. The company identified 5 pieces of machinery impaired by some sort of acid or chemical that was poured into the fuel tanks. One hydraulic tank was also damaged, and a few items were taken from the site as well. One piece of equipment was worth $400,000 alone.
April 1, Bluffs, Illinois: April Fools Solidarity Action With Peter Young
The following communique was found on www.directaction.info. Peter Young is a long time Animal Rights activist who was forced to go on the run in 1997 when he was accused of several fur farm raids across the midwest. He was arrested in late March in California and now faces serious charges (see this issue’s “State Repression News Section” for more details).
From The Communique:
“04-01-05 To all those who refuse to give in: In the early morning hours of April 1st, our small band of do-gooders made our way through muddy fields and grassy mounds to descend upon a fox factory farm owned by Kerry Littig (1774 Eagle Run Rd, Bluffs, IL 62621). She is the top breeder of silver foxes in the U.S.
Until now she probably thought that she was pretty safe since her address has never been made public. We found you Kerry, and more importantly, we found the foxes you imprison, force to suffer, and finally mutilate all for your own profit and the vanity of others.
Only the breeding animals were on the farm, so we knew this wouldn’t take very long. After removing the majority of the surrounding fence, we entered the shed, removed all of the breeding information and finally opened every single cage, releasing dozens of foxes into the surrounding countryside. We hope with all our hearts that some make it! Kerry better believe that we will come back, time and time again, until this hellhole is closed once and for all.
This action was done in absolute solidarity with all of those forced to flee in order to escape the state’s repression, and most of all FOR PETER, who made it seven years. You inspire us immensely and are with us in every passing moment.
Strong Hearts Forward!
the Animal Liberation Front”
…and more Ecological Resistance From Around the World
April 10, Beijing, China: Factory Pollution Protests Turn Into Riot
Thousands of villagers rioted in eastern China, injuring dozens of police, after two of about 200 elderly women protesting over factory pollution died during efforts to disperse them. It was the latest in a string of outbreaks of rural violence as the world’s most populous nation faces disgruntlement over a widening wealth gap, widespread corruption and ecological disintegration. The ruling Communist Party is keen to curb dissent and preserve social stability, but a spate of recent protests and their scale illustrate the extent of grievances in rural China. More than 50 police were injured in this recent riot and rushed to a hospital, with five listed in critical condition, a doctor said. About four villagers were injured. Police had tried to disperse about 200 elderly women who had kept a 24-hour vigil for two weeks at sheds and at a roadblock outside an industrial park housing about 13 chemical factories. Two of the women were killed, villagers said. “They were run over by police cars,” one said. Thousands of villagers clashed with police in riot gear, overturned about 10 police cars and hurled rocks at cops holed up in a local high school. “Villagers knocked down the wall of the school and charged in,” one villager said. Residents also smashed the windows of about 50 buses which carried some 3,000 police, para-military police and security guards.
April 13, Sammamish, Washington: Feds Investigate Possible ELF Actions
Federal agents are investigating a fire at one home and a fire-triggering device found at another home as possible cases of renewed ELF activity in Washington. Both homes are newly-constructed and within blocks of each other on Inglewood Hill Road in Sammamish. A driver reported seeing a sign reading “Where are all the trees, burn rapists, burn.” It was signed ELF. Investigating pigs smelled a strong odor of natural gas inside the home and found an incendiary device that had not gone off. About six blocks away, a new home burned in a fire that destroyed the garage and left smoke damage elsewhere in the house. The Earth Liberation Front claimed responsibility for setting fires that destroyed two newly-built homes in Snohomish, WA, a year ago
“...There has never been another time in history when our Mother Earth has been under so much attack. The time has come when the Earth will begin to purify herself, to save herself and there will only be a handful that will survive and those are the ones that know how to survive off the land, away from their system. What will happen when the lights go out, the water stops flowing out the taps, the transportation routes are impassable, and the grocery stores have no food to stock their shelves? Do you know how to survive, without depending on them and their system? They don’t teach us how to survive in their education system—our children are being taught to be law-abiding white taxpayers. This is why the Land, and the protection and defense of our lands are crucial. This is why learning how to survive off the Land is necessary... Which side are you on? The side of Mother Earth or the enemy.”
– Native Youth Movement
Eco-Defense Political Prisoners:
Ted Kaczynski #04475-046, US Pen-Admin Max Facility, PO Box 8500, Florence Colorado81226. Sentenced to multiple lifetimes in prison for the “Unabomber” bombing attacks against the architects of industrial society.
Jeffrey Luers (Free) #13797671, OSP, 2605 State Street, Salem, OR 97310. Serving a 22+ year sentence for setting fire to Sports Utility Vehicles to protest the destruction of the environment. He has been made an example of by the criminal injustice system and he urgently needs your support.
Fran Thompson #1090915HU 1C, WERDCC, P.O. Box 300, Valdalia, MO 63382. Long-time eco-activist serving a life sentence for shooting dead, in self-defense, a stalker who had broken into her home.
Helen Woodson #03231-045 FMC Carswell, PO Box 27137, Admin Max Unit, Fort Worth, TX76127. Serving 27 years for robbing a bank and then setting the money on fire while reading out a statement denouncing greed, capitalism and the destruction of the environment.
Spirit Of Freedom: Earth Liberation Prisoners Support Network www.spiritoffreedom.org.uk
Lessons from the Tree Sitters
For decades now, radicals have made Northwest forests home while attempting to stop deforestation and create healthy communities of resistance. And, for decades, the number of slaughtered forests has increased. This summer we need to take a step back and reflect on what isn’t working. We are facing the largest timber sales in history, the results of failed litigation, and new torture technology from the state. But the odds have never been with us in this particular struggle. In fact, we are trying to save a meager 10% (or less) of the original old growth on the Pacific coast. With this history, and understanding of the urgency of the situation, why haven’t forest defense campaigns been successful? What is different now? Something is missing. Something is stunted. Our tactics are not stopping them. The recent preoccupation with the media, and a stubborn reliance on ‘sacrificial lamb’ strategies have reduced forest defense to ineffective and symbolic games. Everyday there are more clear-cuts... What are we doing wrong? The question needs to be asked. I don’t have the answers, I only want to bring this discussion to the table.
In my mind, one of the problems that forest defenders are facing is a reliance on a formulaic way of resisting. To some, timber sale = tree sit or road blockade. Even when these martyr tactics have not been effective for years! Although they may have slowed logging at one time, the enemy has learned how to deconstruct and neutralize these obstacles. Nowadays, blockades last only a few hours and tree sitters are, more often than not, extracted from their platforms. People are putting their bodies on the line, risking arrest and at times, risking death.. This is serious. However, IF the goal is to stop logging (as one manifestation of civilization) why aren’t new tactics being tried? Why are these critical conversations so difficult to have? I recognize that this is a war fought on many fronts, and there are underground actions happening; however, the ones that make the news - are the same old thing. For example, the struggle against the Biscuit timber sale in Southern Oregon has had over forty arrests in eight (+) road blockades over the last year. Each time, activists are locked down, the loggers and pigs come in, people are arrested, and the trucks move through after waiting a couple of hours. I realize that the people creating these actions are incredibly motivated and demonstrate an amazing dedication, but the repetition of this same strategy is alarming - dangerous and ineffective. So, what is happening here? Last year in Oregon, trees fell in Straw Devil, Fall Creek, and Blue River Face, despite the presence of tree sits in the areas. Hundreds of acres have been logged in the Biscuit timber sale this year. The efforts of all these campaigns were not able to stop the timber beast. This history in mind - it is (past) time to look closely at the strengths and areas that need improvement in recent forest defense tactics. We have the opportunity to learn from this. So, how can we open a dialogue, a collective brainstorm to reflect on the past and creatively look forward? How do we step out of the formula?
Another area of forest resistance that is troubling, is the insistence on media coverage. While I recognize some of the benefits of having news reach other parts of the country, the Biscuit campaign (and others) has become almost exclusively focused on attracting the attention of the corporate media. This results in actions that are deemed palatable for the ‘viewing audience.’ The goal becomes more about a picture in the paper or a ten-second radio spot, than what is necessary to stop logging. Looking at guerilla resistance movements such as the Viet Cong in Vietnam or the IRA in Northern Ireland, what would their struggle have looked like if they focused on creating a pleasing image for the newspapers and television? These examples may seem extreme, but it serves to illuminate the point that media are not on our side, and will not be effective in stopping the Mega-machine. What is part of the spectacle – serves the spectacle. If we learned anything from the anti-war movement against the war in Iraq, then we can see that colored pictures of people holding signs did nothing to stop the war. The government wants to channel resistance into these pacified, dull, and ineffective strategies.... Creating ‘free speech areas,’ or ‘protest zones.’ Setting up tree sits or locking down. By allowing our rage and energy to be chained, trampled, and pacified we are giving up our best asset... the genuine intensity and passion that we bring to our own struggle for liberation.
So, whether we are on a logging road or at the courthouse, standing there holding a sign does little except enable the pigs to take your picture. I would like to see forest defense communities and other radicals move away from sacrificial lamb tactics (like lock downs and tree sits) – that the spectacle loves – and instead begin to really brainstorm new ideas within affinity groups. What if we took inspiration from campaigns like Stop Huntingdon’s Animal Cruelty (SHAC) – which have kept investors from putting money into Huntingdon Life Sciences and have caused extensive damage to their company? What have they done that has worked? What gets their message heard? Maybe it’s because they hold individuals accountable for their part in the violence. Get to know the enemy. Draw attention to those who make the decisions. In the forest defense circuit, we have an advantage in that – we already know what they want, and we know where they are going.
So where does this leave us? Hopefully, in a new space where we can look back on previous parts of the struggle and see what worked... what was inspiring... and what can be applied to our present situation. In a lot of ways the honest talks around the fire, subtle lessons in re-wilding, and people learning the language of the forest are all aspects of forest defense that inspire me... and can ultimately aid in a larger resistance to civilization in its totality. With this in mind, let’s take this time to try some new things... let’s break out of a formulaic way of resisting... and get creative!
Elves Are Cautious, by the ELF Tactics Unit
Acts resisting civilization have been around as long as civilization itself has been around. In recent years a small fraction of these acts have been committed under the banner of the Earth Liberation Front (ELF). Claiming to be a part of the ELF allows groups and individuals to better explain why they do what they do. No longer does each individual action need a letter of explanation to the local media. More importantly, using the ELF name allows individual actions to become something more. They become part of a clandestine movement and yet another threat which civilization must face.
Due to the increase in danger to itself, civilization, using the state, must use more of its resources to destroy this movement. It is not simply the local police force that investigates, but the federal government. When taking part in actions in the name of the ELF extra caution must be used.
Research is essential. Due to the special risk involved in taking ELF actions, targets must be chosen with care. Is it worth risking a 22 year prison sentence to destroy a number of Sports Utility Vehicles? Maybe. That is a decision individuals must make. But it is always important to consider other targets and other options. Is there another target where the risk of getting caught is less? Are there means other than arson which do the same amount of damage without the high sentence?
Maximize the effectiveness of actions taken and minimize the risk.
Another consideration is the goal of the action. ELF actions have two effects; direct and symbolic. The act itself is direct. Using the ELF name guarantees a level of media attention allowing the action to also be symbolic. Destroying genetically modified crops is a direct action. But when the story is picked up by the media, your action takes a more symbolic character. Destroying that one individual crop becomes a statement against all Genetic Engineering. If the symbolic character of an action is the main goal, the direct part of the action becomes less important. An incendiary device that failed to go off will still create media attention. An act as simple as graffiti can do the same. Likewise if direct action is the main goal, there are times when not using the ELF banner may be appropriate. By avoiding the link to the ELF movement high risk actions may involve less risk. There is a good chance that the action will bring less attention from the media and the authorities.
To get an idea of the effectiveness of an action, looking at past actions may help. Over the years, the effectiveness of ELF actions has varied. Deciding which actions were successful will lead to a better understanding of how to obtain the desired effect of a future action. Was the Vail ski resort arson a success? Was the solidarity action with Jeff ‘Free’ Luers? Looking at other similar movements is also helpful. To see the effectiveness of acting against the same target numerous times we can look at the Stop Huntington Animal Cruelty campaign. Looking at actions of the Weather Underground, the Angry Brigade and other groups who took actions similar to those of the ELF will also give an idea of what is and is not effective.
Likewise looking at the history of the ELF and other similar movements will help show what security measures should be taken. Often a letter to the local media may be helpful in creating attention and a better explanation of the actions. At the same time, many of these letters, phone calls or emails have been used in court against individuals. Billy Cottrell was apprehended because of an insecure email. When Billy found out that someone else was arrested and accused of the ELF action Billy took part in, Billy sent out emails with details of the ELF action in hopes that these emails would lead to a release of the person arrested. Tracing these emails back to Billy led to his arrest. Here Billy made two large mistakes, both of which could have been avoided had he done more research. First, he had little idea of email security and how emails may be traced. If one is not aware of the ways in which email security may be compromised, one should not use email. Second, Billy assumed his emails would have an effect on the government’s actions. If Arnold Beverly admitting to having shot Officer Faulkner has not helped Mumia, an anonymous email certainly isn’t going to help someone the government is prosecuting.
Once arrested, another very common piece of evidence was used against Billy Cottrell. That is, using the testimonies and statements of friends and relatives. It is all too common for friends, lovers, and family members to purposefully or accidentally say something incriminating when being interviewed by the government. The less people that know who took part in a certain ELF action the better. In fact, if one is taking part in high risk actions such as those of the ELF, the less people who know that that person has radical politics, the better. Numerous times the government has used the fact that people may be sympathetic to the ELF as evidence.
As many of those who have taken ELF actions know, going underground may be the only way in which to avoid arrest. Actions taken by those who have gone underground are more difficult to trace. Even when the government is able to trace actions to someone who is underground, finding that person becomes a daunting task. The long life of urban guerrilla groups is due to their members going underground and becoming invisible from the authorities. It was only after 27 years of searching that SLA member James W. Kilgore was finally found in South Africa working as a university professor. There are many other examples where the state still has no idea who was a part of certain underground groups.
When deciding on taking ELF actions, one’s willingness to go underground should be taken into consideration. Again, looking at the history and memoirs of those who were part of groups who were forced to go underground is important. Likewise, looking at how and why certain members of these groups were apprehended is important in creating a level of safety for oneself.
Some of the most recent arrests and convictions stemming from ELF actions could have been easily avoided if a higher level of security was present. It breaks our heart to see simple mistakes lead to time in prison. We only hope for and urge those who take actions against civilization to be more cautious.
Farewell, and may the blessing of Elves and Men and all Free Folk go with you. May the stars shine upon your faces!
A Singular Rapture, by the mosh@terran hacker corps
Ah, the dream of immortality—to have your
thoughts, dreams, and personality securely
etched in clean shiny silicon, instead of its
current implementation in nasty old carbon,
with its propensity to rot.
—Surviving the Singularity
It has been interesting to set some of our (metaphorical) sights on the Fundamentalists who are the most vocal proponents of an Armageddon, their war to end all wars. Their pulpits vibrate with thunderous demands propelling their flock to fight for control of the Unbelieving world. Their missionaries and soldiers with word and sword promise a disembodied transcendence to God—The Rapture to some—awaiting the victor. But, while we were scoping out these dark-frocked ‘wingnuts’, a group of neo-priests, white-coated instead of black, appeared in the shadows. These conjurers proclaim a logical/rational/ reasoned—but equally mysterious (even to them)—transcendence of the flesh. Like their counterparts in the other misanthropic faiths, these scientific missionaries attempt to hide the sterility of their alienated psyches in grandiose claims of possessors of Truth. The abstract mumbo- jumbo of biblical law is replaced with their equally sacred and obtuse incantations of mathematical formulas and scientific laws. The megareligion of science reigns supreme for one overarching reason: the obedience and sacrifice of IT’S congregation is rewarded in the here and now with tangible, replicable, (and highly marketable) results.
Instead of being labeled wingnuts, these reverend are called geniuses.
End-time believers bank on the fulfillment of the great utopian myths—a fountain of youth, heaven, and eternal life—to be realized in the Rapturous moment when the mind/spirit/soul transcends the impure, temporal flesh and blood, and non-believers are Left Behind.
Science has its own manifestation of this miracle in The Singularity, the rapidly approaching point (2005-2030) when “imminent creation by technology of entities with greater than human intelligence” will produce “change comparable to the rise of human life on earth”. This Scientific Rapture will occur when artificial intelligence (AI), nanotechnology, biotech, and robotics finally come together to spawn an “evolutionary change” that can neither be predicted nor controlled by the very humans who render it. The outcome of this union will be a new ‘species’ of “unprecedented physical, intellectual, and psychological capacity, self-programming, self-constituting, potentially immortal, unlimited individuals.” Eventually, and according to plan, humans in their inferior physical form, will be all but eliminated— perhaps by the new species itself.
The Scientific Rapture is a ‘runaway’ event producing change so rapidly the outcome cannot be predicted. One planned outcome is the production of the first artificial intellect (artilect) that will quickly reproduce an even more intelligent offspring, repeating its ‘evolution’ at (at least) the speed of light. Any humans that remain will have to choose between technological ‘enhancement’ (becoming cyborg), having their brains uploaded into a suitably outfitted computer (transhuman), or (as bizarre as it seems to these dystopians) remain a MOSH (mostly organic substrate human).
In the Beginning...
Those who design and develop new ‘species’ aren’t scientific deviants—they follow a Fundamentally consistent path of Progress charted by scientists and philosophers over the centuries.
Descartes proclaimed thinking was equivalent to being, mind and body are separate, and the mind—with its ability to break life into discrete constituents—can and should attempt to know all there is to know. Further, he was certain “God set up mathematical laws in nature, as a king sets up laws in his kingdom”. A useful observation for those who reject ALL such laws.
Bacon believed that knowledge equals power; data-collection leads to truth, truth leads to technology which is ‘enlightened’, “...in the mechanical arts, which are founded on nature and the light of experience, we see the contrary happen, for these are continually thriving and growing, as having in them a breath of life” [a.k.a. spirit]. Bacon was sure that one day, life would be made by design. He lamented, “.midst of all my endeavours there is but one thought that dejects me, that my acquired parts must perish with myself.” Newton’s belief system was rooted in his own deep anxiety and fear of the unknown only nominally assuaged by Christian practices, the rest was buried in theory and pontification. His ‘miraculous’ survival of a premature birth on Christmas Day, 1642 contributed to his conviction that he was THE prophet of God in his time. The result, “A structuring of the world in so absolutist a manner that every event, the closest and the most remote fits neatly into an imaginary system has been called a symptom of illness, especially when others refuse to join in the grand obsessive design. It was Newton’s fortune that a large portion of his total system was acceptable to European society as a perfect representation of reality.” By the 19th century, agricultural domestication was rigorously and scientifically controlled to produce specific pedigree—not so domesticated humans. Research and experimentation into techniques and materials that might strengthen the ‘right’ stock soon became a dominant (though unofficial) theme of scientific research. By the early 20th century, the ruling class began funding institutions to research and develop the perfect servant as well as the means to enhance and extend their own superior bloodlines. Eugenics, parthenogenesis, manufactured lab animals were some of the early ‘successes’. By the end of the 20th century, over 1 million in-vitro humans had been developed, cloning of mammals realized, artificial organ implants commonplace, and the mapping of the human genome, the “blueprint of life”, near completion. The Holy Grail had finally been discovered—its name: biotechnology.
Of Prophets and Miracles
The logic of the futurists goes something like this: humans have evolved superior intelligence thus become the dominant species and are now capable of producing even superior intelligent ‘life’; and so it is their evolutionary destiny [perhaps even their calling] to do so. The religious proportions of this notion are well-articulated by the prophets themselves. From brain designer Hugo De Garis, “The prospect of building godlike creatures fills me with a sense of religious awe that goes to the very depth of my soul and motivates me powerfully to continue, despite the possible horrible negative consequences... I suspect that the scientific hunger I have had since a teenager has a lot in common with what drives a lot of very bright men into theology.” Vernor Vinge, computer scientist, mathematician, and science fiction author asks us to “...imagine a willing slave, who has 1000 times your capabilities in every way. Imagine a creature who could satisfy your every safe wish (whatever that means) and still have 99.9% of its time free for other activities. There would be a new universe we never really understood, but filled with benevolent gods (though one of my wishes might be to become one of them)”.
These brainiacs are not ‘cranks’, pseudo-scientists, or tinker toy technologists. They are movers and shakers in the high-tech industry—Davos Scientific Fellows and Nobel Prize winners are amongst the reverent. Some are called Cosmists, for their perspective that “the annihilation of one ultra-primitive, biological, non-artilectual species (i.e. human beings) on one insignificant little planet, is unimportant in comparison with the creation of artilect gods”. Some are Transhumanists, adapting their bodies with high-tech gear and drugs to stay alive long enough to be further exalted when the optimum time arrives. Extropians are members of a Libertarian sect who want longer lives, if not immortality, through unrestricted technology. Oh yeah, and they have their own handshake.
While those who do the ‘real work’ are rarely seen, perhaps a brief glimpse at some of the evangelizers of this Scientific Rapture is sufficiently horrific enough to warrant your exploration of a movement stealthily permeating the already putrid, hallowed halls of science, academia, and politics.
Ray Kurzweil is a prolific writer and researcher (and mega-capitalist) of the future. “There is no reason why we cannot reverse engineer the human brain, and essentially copy its design. Although it took its original designer several billion years to develop, it’s readily available to us, and not (yet) copyrighted...So evolution moves inexorably toward our conception of God, albeit never quite reaching this ideal. Thus, the freeing of our thinking from the severe limitations of its biological form may be regarded as an essential spiritual quest. In making this statement, it is important to emphasize that terms like evolution, destiny, and spiritual quest are observations about the end result, not the basis for these predictions.” An emphatic caveat belied by many of his cohorts’ statements.
Marvin Minsky, “father of AI”, believes consciousness arises from an ensemble of programs running within the brain’s hardware. If the program can be decoded, his reasoning goes, the
totality of the mind can be known, duplicated, and improved upon. Hans Moravec, robotic genius, thinks machines can become the repository of consciousness and thus become human beings. He postulates that human identity is essentially an informational pattern that can be replicated. His company is producing marketable robots for the security, transportation, and cleaning industries.
Eric Drexler, nanotech pioneer and founder of the Foresight Institute, tells us that all the brains that have ever existed since the ‘Cambrian Explosion’ 570 million years ago, including non-human brains, could be simulated by a single nanocomputer the size of a large factory and use no more power. Frank Tipler, physicist and cosmologist preaches that the universe is evolving into a giant supercomputer which he calls the Omega Point—the state when intelligence controls the Universe but is “perhaps, indistinguishable from God.” Andreas Nowatzyk plans to scan mice in order to move closer to reverse engineering of the brain, an important first step towards the design and manufacture of an artificial one. Humyn brain scanning has already begun—a death row prisoner’s brain and body is being dissected and measured to determine its electro-mechanical functioning.
Nanotechnology, particularly nanorobots, are key to an artilect future and machines built with parts the size of small molecules are being designed, developed, and installed today. Some may be self-replicating ‘swarms’ that are unlikely to be controllable once they determine the course of their own reproduction.)” Robert Freitas Jr., nanomedicine proponent, writes “Death is an Outrage” and laments that the loss of information that occurs with death also “destroys wealth on a grand scale.” MIT scientist Angela Belcher, of the Cambrios Technologies Corp, uses genetically-modified viruses to produce electro-magnetic nanomaterials ‘efficiently and cost-effectively’ through processes meant to mimic nature. She recently received a $500,000 “genius grant” by the MacArthur Foundation, which honors people for their “creativity, originality, and potential to affect society.”
The computer was once viewed as a model of the human brain and its workings; now the faithful believe the brain/mind IS a computer; just version 1.0 and ready for an upgrade. Humans have already, albeit painfully, adapted to the mechanization of their body as cog and gear. The unquestioning acceptance of an increasingly intimate and omnipresent technological world has created the ‘need’ to have nearly every aspect of life digitized and connected to the Machine’s abundant electronic subsystems. Thus, the Internet may be the first and most promising stage of the Singularity as it continues to expand into a massive “neural network”, according to some futurists. Disappointingly, most hackers merely toy at the periphery.
The Money Changers
The visions of immortality are fueling the dreams, vanities, and bank accounts of the venture capitalists and ruling elite who inject this death industry with billions of dollars while they inject their own imperfect, aging “meat machines” with silicon, botox, and a plethora of performance enhancers in order to live long enough (and be ‘beautiful’ enough) to be immortalized. While it is still difficult to get funding for research that overtly contradicts Judeo-Christian dogma, the plethora of industrialization’s diseases provide all the rationale necessary to explore bioengineering techniques. The mantra of “improving health and medicine”—particularly for the cancer industry—is the standard affirmation of all research, especially the controversial. Korea’s recent announcement of advances in human stem cells along with their pairing up with Scottish sheep cloner Ian Wilmut (remember Dolly?) has US proponents of unlimited exploration decrying religious hindrances to federal funding. The hymn goes: any move ahead by Others is a risk to US economic and security superiority.
De Garis is certain that artilect building will be the world’s dominant industry: “These magnates will have devoted their whole lives, their egos, their very souls, to artilect creation. As leaders of their industries, they will have selected themselves as the most capable people, the most visionary, the most forceful, the best organized, to drive their industries forward.”
Investment into biotechnology topped $20 billion in 2000. Investment in nanotechnology is already expanding rapidly and, according to James Chilcott of Evolution Capital; the nano prefix in company names surpasses the dot-com suffix of the early web years when thousands of new millionaires were ‘made’. There are now over 670 nanotechnology corporations in the US with a stated $3.5 billion invested in 2003. With the U.S. government’s recent infusion of $3.7 billion, applied over the next four years, the industry is well on its way to meeting the predictions of the free marketeers. Lux Research states products that incorporate nanotechnology will account for $2.6 trillion by 2014. Do you still think we’re talking about science fiction? And who will have access to transcendent technology? “Probably only an elite, but it won’t be the technological elite, it will be the financial elite. The technology required to reach posthumanity will hold such a premium that it will be available only to those who develop the technology, those they choose to give it (family, friends etc), and those that can afford it”.
Will this trajectory continue as it is now—largely unchallenged? “Killing a few hundred or a few million Cosmists will be considered justifiable by the Terrans for the sake of preserving the survival of the whole human species, i.e. billions of people. The fanaticism and strength of purpose generated by the Cosmist vision will be pitted against the fear of the Terrans, two extremely powerful forces. The war will be passionate and very deadly, given the historical era in which it will take place, i.e. probably late this century with late 21st century weapons...Terran vigilante groups will be established. Terran literature will flourish and Terran hate groups will start to sabotage the brain building companies. Security at the brain building research labs will be sharply increased. The top brain building researchers will be given bodyguards, partly to protect their lives, and partly to protect the financial interests of the companies who benefit so much from the fruits of their researchers’ ideas.”
From Natasha Vita-More, founder of the transhumanist movement: “To relinquish the rights of a future being merely because he, she, or it has a higher percentage of machine parts than biological cellstructure would be racist toward all humans who have prosthetic parts.” Husband Max More, also of the Extropian Institute advocates protecting “people’s freedom to experiment, innovate, and progress”. “Let a thousand flowers bloom! By all means, inspect the flowers for signs of infestation and weed as necessary. But don’t cut off the hands of those who spread the seeds of the future.” Hughes thinks “if, in the future, the technology of human enhancement is forbidden by bio-Luddites through government legislation, or if they terrorize people into having no access to those technologies, that becomes a fundamental civil rights struggle. Then there might come a time for the legitimate use of violence in self-defense.”
Will this ‘event horizon’ be reached? In the words of some devotees: “It’s inevitable. Nothing short of a civilization-destroying catastrophe can delay it, much less stop it.” “The Singularity is not at all inevitable. It can easily be prevented by a catastrophic global breakdown (Club of Rome scenario)”. “But if the technological Singularity can happen, it will. Even if all the governments of the world were to understand the threat and be in deadly fear of it, progress toward the goal would continue. In fiction, there have been stories of laws passed forbidding the construction of ‘a machine in the likeness of the human mind’. In fact, the competitive advantage—economic, military, even artistic—of every advance in automation is so compelling that passing laws, or having customs, that forbid such things merely assures that someone else will get them first.” For “tracker of Luddites” and vice-president of the Extropy Institute, Houston attorney Greg Burch, direct conflict with these advocacy groups is unavoidable. Reformers are already at work trying to ease people onto the side of a Scientific Singularity, with non-profiteers following the missionary path of their Christian counterparts. For example, The Singularity Institute’s mission statement: “to accelerate the arrival of the Singularity in order to hasten its human benefits; to close the window of vulnerability that exists while humanity cannot increase its intelligence along with its technology; and to protect the integrity of the Singularity by ensuring that those projects which finally implement the Singularity are carried out in full awareness of the implications and without distraction from the responsibilities involved.... Welcome to the War on Apathy.” Yet another declaration of war by the Pathetic.
The US Department of Defense is a major funder and procurer of biotechnology, using it to increase their ability to monitor, control, and eliminate those who oppose the goals of the Machine’s executive management. The DoD and its partner, the Department of Justice, are interested in technologies capable of creating super-soldiers (including cops) who will not be limited by human senses and basic requirements like sleep and food. We are all too familiar with the advancements in surveillance technology, biochemical dissent-control products, and biometric identification systems. The police state is being upgraded at a magnitude that is unprecedented and far exceeds any rise in crime or current resistance. What do you think they are preparing for?
Whether or not a ‘Rapture’ will occur is not our primary concern—we are not into prophecy. The armies of the Fundamentalists; Christian, Jewish, Hindu, and Muslim, are already annihilating THEIR particular undesirables by the thousands—TODAY. Simultaneously, the products and ‘by-products’ of Science herald apocalyptic results biblical fantasy/sci-fi writers were unable to fully articulate (though they were quite successful in preparing the world for the ‘inevitability’). It is apparent to us, the twin Raptures of religions old and new are but a single, planned catastrophic event out of which fearful believers have hope, faith, or belief—that salvation will arise.
The direct sense/intuition/instinct for danger has been supplanted by the doctrines of religion and the tools of its inevitable offspring, science. If this were not the case, surely we would have stopped the extinction and putrification of all that is necessary and desirable for our species to survive and thrive long ago. If the cycles and changes inherent to all life had not been mystified and used against us—by and for ruling class ascension—we might have adapted/evolved in a holistic, symbiotic way. Now, the whole of our being is shattered into the utilitarian parts necessary to run a Machine whose prime directive is the accumulation of unlimited wealth and power—while fulfilling the dreams of glorious immortality—for an elite minority who prevail because they are deemed unstoppable. Even the ‘Dollys’ who recognize the dire circumstance the entire planet is in—the direct result of science’s inability to predict the outcome of ANY experiment or technology—are certain that a (scientific or religious) miracle will save them. And so they wait.
Unless you have your own miracle close at hand, you will need to determine your position in this total war on life—started thousands of years ago—as new battle-grounds are defined, weapons selected, and strategies tested. Perhaps a warning issued by one of the neo-priests to the flock also applies to the resistants. “Don’t be a bystander at the Singularity. You can direct your effort at the point of greatest impact—the beginning.” The author of The Panopticon Singularity offers additional advice to those who might think of themselves as another ‘chosen people’ waiting for the collapse: “And don’t think you can escape by going and living in a log cabin in the middle of nowhere. It is in the nature of every police state that the most heinous offense of all is attempting to escape from it.”
If it is evolutionary for some humans to use intelligence to design and manufacture ‘superior’ intelligent replacements—sickening and killing humans alongside other species in the process—then perhaps they must do their/God’s work. But, if their evolution concept is correct, than we, the mosh@terran resistants, have evolved—well, quite differently. We find all apocalyptic priests and their followers—bent on destroying us and the rest of the living, breathing ‘natural’ world—abominations. Therefore, it is in our ‘nature’ to do whatever we deem necessary for the survival of our unenhanced selves, our offspring, and our nonhuman relations. We choose life on OUR terms, not on the misanthropic terms of the Masters. A few words from Thoreau have a particular potency in this technophilic society, “for every 100 people chopping at the branches, only one is hacking at the roots”. And so it is that we find ourselves, quite ‘naturally’—blade in hand.
[Editors: the authors provided extensive references and resources which are posted on the web at firstname.lastname@example.org]
Anti-Genetix Actions From Around The World
“We are entering into a decade of genetic confrontation. Up to now Capital has contented itself with subordinating the natural world to its economic cycles, returning it to the rhythms of the market. What is involved now, however, is a qualitatively new project. The biotechnological project involves restructuring the natural world not as heretofore in the destruction of those living beings external to Capital’s project, or as an obstacle to its progress, but in the creation of altered and then new living organisms—plants and animals now, people later—whose reason for existing is that they serve well the function of valorizing Capital. Biotech promises a new world based on the logic of the market—a world made over in the image of Capital, where what is important about tomatoes is not their taste but their ease of packaging and processing, where the whole natural world is redesigned to fit in with commodity production. Our first priority must be to demystify and attack the uses of this new technology, exposing who benefits from it and who suffers. The stakes in this struggle are the highest we have come up against yet, but are also an indication of how far Capital may fall if we succeed.” –Tomas MacSheoin, Biotech: The Next Wave
January 1, United Kingdom: Vauxhall Sainsbury’s Visited by the “Bourgeois Adventurists”!
Some hooligans from some leafy suburban estate in Surrey- calling themselves the Bourgeois Adventurists-went for a jaunt into the bright lights of the inner city, to commemorate the new year with an anti-genetix action. Strolling up to the Vauxhall Sainsbury's supermarket, they removed spray cans from their Barbour jackets, sprayed “No to GM Milk!” and “End GM Imports” in garish fashion upon the grimy urban walls and nearby Sainsbury's billboards, then retired with a swift “Tally Ho!” to whence they came.
January 30, Wimbledon, United Kingdom: Sainsbury’s Targeted In Anti-GMO Action
London Earth First! targeted a Sainsbury’s store in the Wimbledon town center in a protest against Sainsbury's sale of GM milk. The shop was closed down, locks glued, and slogans including “No GM milk” and “Earth First!” spray-painted on doors and windows. This is part of an aggressive campaign of direct action, by individuals pissed off that genetic modification is coming in through the back door, despite popular opposition.
February 9, Rotorua, New Zealand: 4 People Arrested During Attempted Decontamination
Four people were arrested while attempting to decontaminate the field trial of genetically modified trees, all in the Forest Research Institute (FRI), in Rotorua, New Zealand. These individuals were supposedly inspired by U.K. GM actions and decided that autonomy begins at home–in one’s own bioregion–as they gathered with hundreds of people from all over New Zealand at the site of FRI’s GE pine tree field trials.
“Using a field trial to evaluate the environmental risks is akin to starting a bushfire to find out how badly it burns,” said Felicity Perry, spokesperson for the Peoples Moratorium Enforcement Agency. “This is not just about Rotorua. Once genetically modified organisms contaminate the environment it affects all of New Zealand with irreversible damage. There is no going back.”
February 18, United Kingdom:
There was another nighttime visit to the Sainsbury’s chain, as part of continuing activity against bio-technology. On the night of Tuesday 18 February, a group of people visited a Sainsbury’s supermarket in Scarborough. Some windows were smashed and “No GM” was spray-painted on the welcome sign at the front of the building. The group escaped unnoticed. The U.K. has seen many actions against genetic modification of foods over the last few years. Sainsbury’s is currently seen as one of the more tactical targets.
Egocide, by Kevin Tucker
The primal war is a spiritual war.
It began as the spirit of wildness was buried beneath the interests of domesticators: within history and within ourselves.
At its core lies the spiritual connection, the wordless sense of being that flows through the world. It is not about fighting for ‘Nature’ or about individual desire. It is about egocide: killing the self/Other split that underpins all civilized relationships.
There is no ‘Nature’, alone and isolated outside of our grasp. There is only the life that is in and of us. This is something that cannot be taught, written about or described. It’s not filling in space for god/s, nothingness, economics or science. It is not a cognitive force that hears every prayer.
I can’t say what it is that I feel. I can’t objectively prove its existence. But without my soul, I am as good as dead.
The domesticators have known this for a long time.
I can say that I feel something. It’s something that I know is real. It’s something worth fighting for.
That’s something that wild peoples and places have been telling us for ten thousand years.
Humans, like all beings, are intrinsically spiritual. Not in the sense of elaborate ritual or religious beliefs or anything of that sort, but spiritual in a much different way: a lived spirituality.
There is a flowing, organic nature to the world. It’s something you can feel as you follow tracks through the new snowfall. Something felt in a handful of wild berries or the smell of roots. It’s something you see in the eyes of an animal as their pupils dilate for the last time. The sting of a thorn, the protests of squirrels, and the ambience of rain on leaves, the sound of rushing water: there is life in all of these things. An essence that simply living brings you into.
The world of the nomadic gatherer/hunter knows no ‘Other’. There is no concept of nature. But there is a greater connectivity. There is no survival, no smallness or grandiose feeling. There is only life and death, interwoven and honestly laid out before you.
An individual exists as a part of this. Not in the manufactured sense of communistic groupthink, but in the spiritualistic sense. Life is inseparable. There is no dependency. There is no fear of a Future. No path of Progress. You can say there is an implicit sense of trust and honesty, but neither word does it justice. No word does it justice. Life simply is.
That needs to be restated: for most of us, life simply is an ideal. It’s a utopian desire or an irretrievable past. We simply can get closer to it or we can’t. But life can simply be life. It always has and always will be there. But we don’t think of it like that. We can’t think of it like that. We’ve been trained to see it differently. Life is simply something ‘Other’: either as a religious/anti-religious ideal or as a deadened scientific definition.
It must always be distant.
How do you turn someone against themselves? Against those around them? How do you tame the spirit? These are the issues that domesticators have always had to answer. The necessary response is what makes up our everyday lives: to domesticate, you must break someone mentally, physically, and spiritually.
Simply put, you must disconnect.
That disconnection, that mediation, has always been the primary goal of domesticators. The reason why is simple: domestication is about dependency. But that dependency is not about necessity, it’s about perceived dependency. It comes down to belief.
Most people believe that the state and civilization are necessary now because we know nothing else. We are raised in a manufactured reality. A sterile, planned world complete with heated seats, air conditioning, and power locks. Food is the processed side note to our consumption. Work is something you must do and the boss is someone you must obey.
The idea of living without civilization, and even more so, living well, is about as alien to us as the idea of living in this reality would be to anyone who lives without it. These are intrinsically different ways of viewing and being in reality. One is about the vital freedom to choose between the lesser of two evils and the better of two brands. The other is about the difficult choice about which direction you feel like roaming in today and which leaf looks most tempting.
How did we get from the latter to the former? How did we come to accept so little from life? How did we become so dependent?
How did food in storehouses become more important than the world outside? Filling those storehouses with large amounts of wild grains or dried meat or fish is an easy enough thing to do. For the most part, it may take a few days for a huge amount of food for the societies willing to do so. Becoming the person to ration the surplus isn’t that complicated either. Making people listen to that person, however, is.
The issue is about control. Power flows from control. But control requires physical and mental force. You can force someone in a cage, but it’s another thing to get them to accept it.
To successfully gain control over another being, that cage must be internalized.
For us, unfortunately, that cage has been internalized. This is the domestication process at work.
No one gives up their autonomy freely. The spirit of wildness which flows through all life must be broken.
To break the spirit, you must first isolate it. This is both the hardest and most important thing that must be done. We are born physically and mentally for a life of nomadic gathering and hunting. Like wildness/life everywhere, our spirit is inseparable from the world around us.
This needs some clarification.
I’m not talking about some new age ‘oneness’ anymore than I’m pushing for some kind of universal ‘indigenous perspective’. I’m talking about an unmediated relationship with the world. I’m talking about something that is felt and known without words. Nearly all human societies to have existed have lived with this spirit in their being. I’m talking about the same spirit that must be killed so that we can become who we are now. The spirit must be killed so that we can turn against ourselves and the earth.
Killing that spirit is impossible. It exists in all life. But at some point people began burying it: began accepting cheap substitutes. It was a long, hard and isolated problem, but the original trauma of domestication is a deep wound. One that spreads quickly and destroys anything in its path: always moving and searching for some kind of meaning. What that meaning is will always change shape and form, but the seekers are trained to look everywhere and destroy anything that stands in the way.
We are trained to look everywhere but our own damaged souls. We are trained to look for something, but never to feel. That, of course, is intentional.
No matter how we view the world, be it egocentric, anthropocentric, biocentric, etc.: we must always see the world (read: ‘Nature’) as someplace wholly separate. Certain people are/were a part of that (read: ‘Indigenous’), but that is gone, at least as far as we’re supposed to be concerned. The earth is a place, life is an ideal: you have only yourself.
Disconnected, lonely and desperate, we sink or swim in their reality. This is domestication. This is us occupying land that we have little sense of and alone in an environment flooded with billions of others.
This is your soul on Prozac.
The self/Other split begins with domestication. You can’t take control over a world that you are a part of. According to the monotheists, Adam and Eve took the first step by naming the animals in Eden. They may very well be right to a certain degree: life dissected and categorized is far more of an experiment than a community.
But the greatest damage was the one that turned life into property. It turned the spirit into wild grains, fish and large mammals into surplus: into wealth. The world of the gardener turns the world of the gatherer/hunter into a world of weeds, crops, gardens-in-use, fallowing gardens, and the village. The farmer dissects that even more into rows of crops in fields, animals-as-food or animals-as-workers, thinkers and doers. The capitalist sees consumers, distributors, managers, producers, and guards.
The world of wildness becomes processed and refined. The spirit of all things becomes the spirit of all things ‘useful’. The divide continues: we are no longer mere apes or wild beasts. We are the stewards of the earth, the bringers of the Future. Subject, object.
The soul must be isolated to be re-contextualized.
This is done subtly at first. As people in some places did settle and did start taking stored food, the initial roles for power began to emerge. But that power needed to be implicit even for the power of suggestion that Big Men would wield. This meant tinkering with the spirit. That became the job of shamans: the first specialists.
The role of the shaman spreads from the healer. A shaman is usually still a healer, but there is rarely a shortage of healers. For nearly all nomadic gatherer/hunters, healing is a communal activity. Healers deal with their reality through that communal spirit. Everyone is involved. The shaman, on the other hand, interprets that reality. That is extremely important.
Many shamans only slightly inserted their message into their interpretations of the spirit. The most important idea was implicit in their existence: the soul of the world is more open to certain individuals. Their position was as mediator between the individual and the rest of the world. And through this, the seeds for a self/Other split are born.
The message of the shaman, like the message of the preacher and the pundit, validates the social and political reality. As society becomes increasingly dependent on certain foods, the gods become specialized to ensure their growth (sun, water, earth/soil, and seed). As the political realm becomes more hierarchical, so does the cosmic one. As settlements become more permanent and spread into villages, the once unified world turns into the village, the gardens, and the forest. The dead become ancestors to fear as witches, werewolves, and sorcerers become the all seeing eye of morality.
The interpretation of the world around us becomes subject to the ancestors, to gods, then to god and science. But at the base of this is the self/Other split. The world of the nomadic gatherer/hunter based on cooperation and openness is replaced by competition and fear. People follow the hand that feeds as it substitutes their unmediated connection with the world through its vision.
First we split from the world and then we fear it. That’s where domestication begins. Fear and dependency grow to the point where anything else is unthinkable and even more so, frightening.
This is the world we are born into. This is our dependency. This is our inheritance.
We are raised to accept it and continue substituting the spirit of wildness for the soulless world of domestication and mediation. The only spirit left is the self.
In a dog-eat-dog world, you sink or swim.
Subject or object. At least that much is supposed to be up to you.
The domesticators have been at their job a long time. For the most part they are successful at replacing the total world that we know in our hearts with the totality they have placed around our minds. But their job can never be complete. They sedate, distract and occupy us, but the wildness will always slip through the cracks.
For too many the uncontrollable urge to live free is too far beyond reach. It ends in self destruction or in the splitting of the mind.
The shell cracks only partially.
The totality of civilization in our minds is mirrored by the world it has created. Concrete, steel, glass, and iron do for the body what the church and state have done for the mind. Hierarchy and domination become structural. Our smallness and insignificance is constantly reinforced.
The revolt against civilization means that we must attack both internally and externally. In reality, there is no separation between the two. This attack is a response: a response to the totality we’ve been lulled into that seeks to destroy everything. For some that is meant literally. Their goal is to eliminate everything from concrete to Nature so that you are free to do anything or go anywhere. It’s a nihilistic rage that seeks honesty only where the individual remains isolated: to remove any and all conceivable chains.
To a degree I can understand this active nihilism. When everything you know feels tainted, it seems instinctive to deconstruct not only everything you know but how you think and feel. It makes sense as part of a process of shedding the totality of civilization, but that is it. Far too often it is seen as a goal in itself: a methodology towards the radical purity and free from all constraint. It stands as a deadening response to the sterile corpse of the city and country.
But nihilism, like its more honest relative, egoism, fails to break free of that initial grasp of domestication: the self/Other split. Both rely on that isolation, that Neverland of Self. To the nihilist and egoist there can be no greater connectivity without morality. The two oppositions remain: self and Other.
The initial lie of the domesticators comes full circle.
Civilization kills the spirit. It must in order to exist.
We think, build and maintain civilization. It is the reality created for us and the reality that we recreate daily. It is our addiction. It is everything we are given so that the soul cannot breathe: all the cheap replacements for wildness, for spirit. It is what we are given so that the spirit cannot remember wildness. So that we will no longer desire wildness.
It has always been this way. It must always be this way for civilization to exist.
It comes back to domestication.
But domestication is not irreversible any more than it is evolutionary. It has always been resisted by the spirits that refused to be tamed. Wild beings, human or not, have always fought against it: if not in mind and soul than in body.
This is the primal war: the refusal of life to be domesticated. It is the refusal of wildness to become ordered and civilized. It is the spirit that refuses to die.
It is not about a certain people, place or time: it is about life. Those who know that spirit without mediation have always put up the hardest fight. There was no fight or revolution for abstract ideals, for some unknown or unknowable place of undefined and questionable freedom as individuals. The fight was about something felt, something innate. The fight, then, now and always, is the rage of the spirit of life and wildness. It knows no isolation or mediation. It grows through the cracks in the sidewalk and the refusal of toxins in our bodies. It will stop for nothing and it is extremely deadly.
It is within us, anxiously waiting. It cries for the healing of the spirit (rewilding) and the healing of the body (resistance). Both are one in the same. Our deepest wound cries for healing. That is a cry for action.
For the nihilists and egoists, resistance comes from the immediate need to destroy what destroys you. Its only construction is in its destruction. I’m not going to say that is always a bad thing. But I will say this: I have no question in my being that there is something that I am fighting for, not just something I’m fighting against. It is not about morality or about some lofty new age crap: it’s about something unmediated and present. Something real.
As my ideas of self and Other dissolve, I’ve come to realize that there is life in this world. I know it is interconnected. It comes through the spirit that is never dead, but it is channeled and caged by the domesticators. The end result of ten thousand years of mediation.
I know this like I know civilization must be destroyed. My spirit knows this. My spirit feels this. The spirit of all life knows this. It has always known this.
I’ve only begun to listen.
Egoism, by John Beverley Robinson
There is no word more generally misinterpreted than the word egoism, in its modern sense. In the first place, it is supposed to mean devotion to self interest, without regard to the interest of others. It is thus opposed to altruism - devotion to others and sacrifice of self. This interpretation is due to the use of the word thus antithetically by Herbert Spencer.
Again, it is identified with hedonism or eudaimonism, or epicureanism, philosophies that teach that the attainment of pleasure or happiness or advantage, whichever you may choose to phrase it, is the rule of life.
Modern egoism, as propounded by Stirner and Nietzsche, and expounded by Ibsen, Shaw and others, is all these; but it is more. It is the realization by the individual that they are an individual; that, as far as they are concerned, they are the only individual.
For each one of us stands alone in the midst of a universe. We are surrounded by sights and sounds which we interpret as exterior to ourselves, although all we know of them are the impressions on our retina and ear drums and other organs of sense. The universe for the individual is measured by these sensations; they are, for him/her, the universe. Some of them they interpret as denoting other individuals, whom they conceive as more or less like themselves. But none of these is his/ herself. He/she stands apart. His/her consciousness, and the desires and gratifications that enter into it, is a thing unique; no other can enter into it.
However near and dear to you may be your spouse, children, friends, they are not you; they are outside of you. You are for ever alone. Your thoughts and emotions are yours alone. There is no other who experiences your thoughts or your feelings.
No doubt it gives you pleasure when others think as you do, and inform you of it through language; or when others enjoy the same things that you do. Moreover, quite apart from their enjoying the same things that you enjoy, it gives you pleasure to see them enjoy themselves in any way. Such gratification to the individual is the pleasure of sympathy, one of the most acute pleasures possible for most people.
According to your sympathy, you will take pleasure in your own happiness or in the happiness of other people; but it is always your own happiness you seek. The most profound egoist may be the most complete altruist; but he knows that her altruism is, at the bottom, nothing but self-indulgence.
But egoism is more than this. It is the realization by the individual that she/he is above all institutions and all formulas; that they exist only so far as he chooses to make them her own by accepting them.
When you see clearly that you are the measure of the universe, that everything that exists exists for you only so far as it is reflected in your own consciousness, you become a new person; you see everything by a new light: you stand on a height and feel the fresh air blowing on your face; and find new strength and glory in it.
Whatever gods you worship, you realize that they are your gods, the product of your own mind, terrible or amiable, as you may choose to depict them. You hold them in your hand, and play with them, as a child with its paper dolls; for you have learned not to fear them, that they are but the “imaginations of your heart.”
All the ideals which people generally think are realities, you have learned to see through; you have learned that they are your ideals. Whether you have originated them, which is unlikely, or have accepted somebody else’s ideals, makes no difference. They are your ideals just so far as you accept them. The priest is reverend only so far as you reverence him. If you cease to reverence him, he is no longer reverend for you. You have power to make and unmake priests as easily as you can make and unmake gods. You are the one of whom the poet tells, who stands unmoved, though the universe falls in fragments about you.
And all the other ideals by which people are moved, to which people are enslaved, for which humyns afflict themselves, have no power over you; you are no longer afraid of them, for you know them to be your own ideals, made in your own mind, for your own pleasure, to be changed or ignored, just as you choose to change or ignore them. They are your own little pets, to be played with, not to be feared.
“The State” or “The Government” is idealized by the many as a thing above them, to be reverenced and feared. They call it “My Country,” and if you utter the magic words, they will rush to kill their friends, whom they would not injure by so much as a pin scratch, if they were not intoxicated and blinded by their ideal. Most people are deprived of their reason under the influence of their ideals. Moved by the ideal of “religion” or “patriotism” or “morality,” they fly at each others’ throats—they, who are otherwise often the gentlest of neighbors! But their ideals are for them like the “fixed ideas” of lunatics. They become irrational and irresponsible under the influence of their ideals. They will not only destroy others, but they will quite often sink their own interests, and rush madly to destroy themselves as a sacrifice to the all-devouring ideal. Curious, is it not, to one who looks on with a philosophical mind?
But the egoist has no ideals, for the knowledge that his ideals are only his ideals, frees her from their domination. She acts for his own interest, not for the interest of ideals. She will neither hang a person nor whip a child in the interest of “morality,” if it is disagreeable to her to do so.
He/she has no reverence for “The State.” She knows that “The Government” is but a set of men, mostly as big fools as he is himself, many of them bigger. If the State does things that benefit her, he will support it; if it attacks her and encroaches on his liberty, she will evade it by any means in his power, if she is not strong enough to withstand it. He/she is a person without a country.
“The Flag,” that most people adore, as people always adore symbols, worshipping the symbol more than the principle it is supposed to set forth, is for the egoist but a rather inharmonious piece of patch-work; and anybody may walk on it or spit on it if they will, without exciting their emotion any more than if it were a tarpaulin that they walked upon—or spat upon. The principles that it symbolizes, they will maintain as far as it seems to their advantage to maintain them; but if the principles require them to kill people or be killed themselves, you will have to demonstrate to them just what benefit they will gain by killing or being killed, before you can persuade them to uphold them.
When the judge enters court in his toggery, (judges and ministers and professors know the value of toggery in impressing the populace) the egoist is unterrified. She/he has not even any respect for “The Law.” If the law happens to be to his advantage, she will avail himself of it; if it invades her liberty she will transgress it as far as he thinks it wise to do so. But she has no regard for it as a thing supernal. It is to her the clumsy creation of them who still “sit in darkness.”
Nor does he bow the knee to Morality - Sacred Morality! Some of its precepts she may accept, if he chooses to do so; but you cannot scare her off by telling him it is not “right.” He usually prefers not to kill or steal; but if she must kill or steal to save herself, he will do it with a good heart, and without any qualms of “conscience.”
And “morality” will never persuade her to injure others when it is of no advantage to himself. She will not be found among a band of “white caps,” flogging and burning poor devils, because their actions do not conform to the dictates of “morality,” though they have injured none by such actions; nor will he have any hand in persecuting helpless girls, and throwing them out into the street, when she has received no ill at their hands. To her friends - to those who deserve the truth from him, - she will tell the truth; but you cannot force the truth from him because she is “afraid to tell a lie.” He has no fear, not even of perjury, for she knows that oaths are but devices to enslave the mind by an appeal to supernatural fears. And for all the other small, tenuous ideals, with which we have fettered our minds and to which we have shrunk our petty lives; they are for the egoist as though they were not.
“Filial love and respect” he will give to his parents if they have earned it by deserving it. If they have beaten her in infancy, and scorned her in childhood, and domineered over him in maturity, he may possibly love them in spite of maltreatment; but if they have alienated her affection, they will not reawaken it by an appeal to “duty”. In brief, egoism in its modern interpretation, is the antithesis, not of altruism, but of idealism. The ordinary person - the idealist - subordinates their interests to the interests of their ideals, and usually suffers for it. The egoist is fooled by no ideals: she/he discards them or uses them, as may suit his own interest. If he/she likes to be altruistic, they will sacrifice themselves for others; but only because they like to do so; they demand no gratitude nor glory in return.
Jacques Camatte And the New Politics of Liberation: Part 3, by Dave Antagonism
The Revolt of Humanity Against Capital
“Revolutionary struggle is struggle against domination as it appears in all times and places, and in all the different aspects of life” — J. Holloway
“In the Beginning Was the Scream” in Revolutionary Writing: Common Sense Essays in Post-Political Politics
How can Camatte inform the creation of a viable and dynamic anarchic praxis? And is the struggle already throwing up forms and gestures that share a commonality with Camatte?
To begin with a radical politics informed by Camatte signals the end of the politics of the guillotine. The image of the revolt against capital being a war between two separate and distinguishable classes now finds little relevance. Instead we are presented with a revolt of humanity against capital: against a social relationship that is constructed out of the reification of our own activity. Revolution is reaffirmed as self-abolition: as the liberating destruction of the roles and behavior that make us up and force us to remake the conditions of our own enslavement. As Camatte writes: “each individual must be violent with him/herself in order to reject, as outside themselves, the domestication of capital and all its comfortable, self-validating ‘explanations’”. If we consider the global dimensions of the material community of capital, revolution grows from the self-abolition of the proletariat, to the self-abolition of a planetary work machine — the complete and total remaking of daily life. This concept of revolution goes beyond the standard ideas of both the Left and ultra-left: of the seizing of the infrastructure of capital and applying it to new management (whether that is of the party or councils).
Camatte is scornful of demands to occupy the factories: “so all the prisoners of the system are supposed to take over their prisons and begin the self-management of their own imprisonment”. The revolt against the despotism of capital, a situation predicated on the development of production forces, and historical presuppositions, is a revolt against the entirety of capital. It is a revolt against the nature and trajectory of civilization: against both the original ruptures of the gather/hunter gemeinwesen and its latest developments. This revolt has primitive and Luddite dimensions. But Camatte doesn’t turn this into an ideology, he doesn’t believe in a simple return to a perfect primitive stage (as some GA/AP proponents do); this kind of thinking is just another “echo of the past” — a product of a domesticated humanity.
Camatte argues that we must reject a mythology of class. He writes: “We are all slaves of capital. Liberation begins with the refusal to perceive oneself in terms of the categories of capital, namely as a proletarian, as member of the new middle class, as capitalist etc. Thus we also stop perceiving the Other — in his [sic] movement toward liberation — in those same categories.” I would also suggest that here we find a momentary link between Camatte and the kind of popular global Zapatismo that is found in many anarchic circles. The first global encounters that the EZLN hosted were for “Humanity against Neo-liberalism”. The rejection of the roles capital has created for us allows us to see the lines of connection we share with everyone. It also is crucial in the creation of praxis that does not reify particular social struggles as the determining element of general revolution. Thus we can move to construct the networks/ rhizomes/webs of resistance that can celebrate the difference, singularity and validity of each of its participants, whilst not collapsing into a politics of fracture.
The transformation from a proletarian project to a human one means that new methods of struggle are needed. It could be argued that the massive mobilization of civil society that opposed the latest chapter of war in the Persian Gulf, is testament to the living death and impotence of that standard praxis of both the Left and liberalism. Camatte argues that to be successful, a liberating revolution must take place on its own “terrain”. But if there is no exterior to capital where can this terrain be? Camatte is somewhat infuriating in not helping to identify this new terrain: he only identifies what it is not. For example: “Today humanity can launch its battle against capital not in the city, nor in the country side but outside of both: hence the necessity for communist forms to appear that will be truly antagonistic to capital, and also rallying points for the forces of revolution”. Where could this be? It is possible that this terrain to launch struggle from only comes into existence with struggle. One could think of the global movements that aim to redefine space such as squatted social centers in Europe, community gardens in New York, the autonomous municipalities of Chiapas, for example, as these new spaces. If one thinks of the latter then we can see how it is both rural yet global — space where various communities live daily agrarian lives, yet also a sort of planetary epicenter taking on people and meaning much broader than its physical borders. A host of other rebellious gestures both constructive and destructive — graffiti, rioting, crossing borders, Reclaim the Streets parties, the Temporary Autonomous Zone, communes, dumpster diving, voluntary homelessness — could all be seen as ways that this new terrain is created.
These kinds of activities invariably bring people into conflict with the state, as they disrupt the smooth flows of capital and transgress laws of property. This means the issue of violence must be confronted. Yet the rejection of the black and white of class war means we are pushed up against those who are just ourselves: humans playing roles assigned by capital. Camatte, while not sympathizing with the state, argued that many student clashes with the riot cops in the early 1970s worked to reinforce the roles capital uses to pit humanity against each other, not diminish them. Camatte doesn’t preach non-violence but rather that revolution must deal with a contradiction of violence: that it exists in social conflicts, that violence against capital is to be celebrated as essential, yet violence against capital often means violence against people, which can swamp the revolution and crush its liberating nature. This has a number of implications. For Camatte, since communist revolution is about the reaffirmation of life, the representation of revolution as war, with its focus on death and martyrdom, works only to project repressive notion of humanity into the core of the revolt against domination — “this would be putting itself (revolution) once more on the terrain of class society”.
Again he is vague about an alternative, suggesting “we have got to find new methods, such as treating all institutions with contempt and ridicule by leaving them trapped and isolated in their own concerns”. This perspective may have been viable in the early 1970s, when capital seemed to have lost any innovative qualities. However, facing the active project of neo-liberalism and neo-conservatism, maybe a more insurrectionary approach is needed.
But if we look at the trajectory of the revolts against neo-liberal institutions that manifested in anti-summit struggles, we see some validity in Camatte’s concerns. The more ‘successful’ insurrections appear to be ones that were both festivals and insurrections: that participate in the creating of new modes of being as they jam the functioning of capital. Sometimes that smashing of the London stock exchange and the torching of police cars will be a central part of the destruction of domestication, other times it will be part of its reinforcement by brutalizing revolutionaries, and reducing everything to thuggery.
But can we even challenge domestication personally in the hope of challenging it socially? It is unclear. It is possible that a wide range of social deviance, of politics of the body, of culture, of irrational ecology concerns, of sexual liberation, contain within them wild feral qualities that offer at least the chance of rebellion. Humanity is not yet totally roboticised. So let us finish off on Camatte’s most optimistic note: “Living is not submission, but reinvention, creation!”
Editors’ Note: Throughout this series the author uses the term “communist” to describe a desirable society or goal. For those unfamiliar with this particular usage, (we assume) he is using it in the pre-Marxist (and therefore, pre-Leninist-Stalinist- Maoist) context, common for various anti-state communists. This generally means a classless and property-less society based on cooperation. It is important to point this out, since most people are only aware of communism’s “popular” connotations and context — state communism and authoritarianism. While we understand how the author uses the term, many of us find it dubious and feel it to be confusing to use a term with such overt baggage. The term “anarchy” already encompasses the positive aspects of communism, but also explicitly makes clear anti-authoritarianism and the autonomy of the individual as integral components.
The Gods of Babylon, by redbeard
THERE IS A “DARK” SIDE TO FREEDOM THAT IS EXPLOITED BY CIVILIZERS. It is only dark to the value-imprisoned minds of the civilized, but that is now a pretty much global mindset. The religious threat of eternal darkness awaiting the rebellious terrorizes millions of humans suffering under the sway of value. The “soul” is of infinite value because it belongs to god, the arch evaluator. The individual is absolutely responsible for his/her acceptance of the salvation proffered by the god of his/her tradition. But since no religion has ever been able to convincingly demonstrate the validity of its necessary presuppositions (the existence of a soul, a moral god, divine revelation, an afterlife, etc., etc.), the individual is left with nagging doubts about the most pressing questions of her/his existence. This gives rise to fanaticism, one of the most debased states of human beings and the appallingly mean and destructive behaviors that express this worst of social sicknesses. Fanaticism’s day has arrived, which may signal official religion’s end. But capital, the head of the beast of civilization, has triumphantly outgrown its need for a religious base. It still feeds from religion’s trough, but it has managed to so condition the minds of its slaves with the numbing affects of value that value’s traditional grounding in god is no longer necessary. Values are gods. The old monotheism has spawned the means of its own demise - a “secular” polytheism of values. Let’s look at a few of the values that are used to maintain civilization’s iron grip upon the human animal.
Education. The “dark” side of freedom is its disdain of received values. It ignores them with a casualness that the civil find offensive to the core. Education reigns perhaps highest among the civil pantheon of value/gods. It is possibly the most universally worshiped deity of them all. An enormous amount of time and energy is spent in appeasing this, the slavemaster’s favored god. Children are sacrificed to it every day. Once she is endowed with the god of education’s “spirit” (literacy), the long struggle in the depths of the child’s very being has begun. Life will be one surrender after another until a somnambulistic habit of obedience is established. She is then educated and can be trusted with “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” among the masses of obedient, educated, slaves. More and more children require chemical alteration of their neuro-cognitive functions in order to be subdued sufficiently for the process.
Comfort and convenience are twin gods of the value pantheon that woo their worshippers into a blind paralysis, rendering them unfit for anything but domesticated slave life. These gods are perhaps the most deadly of all. Their magic is powerful. They anesthetize the civilized to the point of being unable or unwilling to see the vast amount of suffering and misery demanded upon the unbaptized and upon the earth itself in order to keep their worshipped presence at hand. The priesthood of these tyrants are the powerful advertising and government (of any type...they all offer civil comfort and convenience of service as part of the “benefit” of remaining obedient) propaganda industries. Too few of us have enjoyed the comfort of a cozy nook in the forest on a bed of dry pine needles or a mattress of leaves in a crevice under a boulder and the convenience of ready-to-eat flowers, roots, nuts, leaves, fruit, and game if so desired. Imagine a night without incandescence or fluorescence anywhere to be found! You may become aware of a possible “comfort” far more profound than anything civilization could ever muster.
Security and safety are another set of twin value/gods that reign in the civil pantheon of high principles. These two are probably the most deviously deceptive gods of the bunch. We are inculcated from early on with the fear of injury from malicious “others” and from “nature” in general. Instead of simply experiencing these things and gaining the natural insight we would from our experiences, we are taught to believe that an unseen evil is in the heart of the evildoer instead of recognizing a blatant wrong choice for what it is and dealing with it for ourselves. The “light” of civility is dependent upon the belief in the “darkness” of barbarity and evil...mysterious, untamable forces that cannot even logically exist (the apostle Paul of Christian fame used the phrase “mystery of evil” in one of his to-be-later-canonized epistles.). Logic can “prove” the existence of many things but precisely nothing needs its proof. If it does, it only exists as an abstraction in the brains of human logicians, which all modern civilians are by lifelong training. Extinguish the light of rationalist authority and barbarous ignorance will be nowhere found. One good way to help bring that about would be to extinguish, en masse, the environmentally devastating incandescent and fluorescent lights of civilization! There are far more people who commit the worst kind of crimes that are in civilization’s streets, homes, schools, hospitals, churches, government offices, factories, malls, etc. than their few scapegoat representatives in prisons. But the spectacle of criminals processed and imprisoned serves the double role of suggesting a false sense of “security” and inculcating a deeper faith in the lurking presence of evil in all of us. If faith can stimulate courage and healing, it can also stimulate fear that cripples and kills. In such a climate as world civilization, it is little wonder at all that violence continues on a large scale. The “violence” of stopping civilization’s madness is the medicine required to ameliorate the commonly perceived problem of violence that won’t go away. Consider an illustrative scenario: if all, say, 2000 inmates of a federal or state prison were suddenly released into the streets of NYC with no strings attached to their release, and the same number of “law-abiding citizens” were rounded up at random from the streets, homes, and workplaces of the same city and dumped onto the streets of Atlanta, with no money or status, which city would most likely notice a spike in violent crimes? If vengeance is a valid motive for action against a harm done, then surely it can only be “valid” if exacted by the one so harmed, his/her loved ones or community as immediately as possible. A mediated institution of vengeance, which is what the penal system primarily is whether officially admitted or not, produces weak, fearful, and easily intimidated subjects that depend upon and support such a system. Not to mention scoundrels of every nuance. Security and safety serve only proprietary interests, and since property is the first of all thefts, its banishment will be a clarion sounding the end of their tyranny.
Health and welfare are yet another twin pair of values that have become deified and have been awarded their high thrones in the pantheon. The health-care catastrophe in America could easily end up being the focal point of a quasi-reformation of the entire industry. Millions of working and unemployed are on the verge of financial devastation and more and more will experience foreclosure on homes, etc., due to outrageous medical costs. One of the more obvious truths of human existence is that we all get sick at times and we all die. But in civilized culture, these facts are ignored and the impression is given that the next pill or technique will be the golden one to defeat sickness and perhaps even death. The Christian mythology has given hope on a perhaps unconscious level that death can somehow be defeated. Death and disease are seen as nuisances and inconveniences to be eliminated. Of course it is a fact that sickness and disease is rampant in civilized culture and the established rationalist medical profession has been highly effective in covering over the root cause of these banes....civilization, from the beginning of agriculture on. The food that civilians eat is hardly worthy of the name. Manufactured, processed food is one of the worst manifestations of the degradation of life in civil culture. Supermarkets are chock full of “feed” for the slaves with fancy labels and catchy names. The earth still offers an abundance of real food for humans and all other lifeforms, but there is real danger that such will not be the case in the not-too-distant-future. In fact, it has already been determined that pollution from burning fossil fuels to keep the death machine cranking has accumulated in the vast oceans of the earth to the point of measurable harm. Certain fish and other sea creatures are deemed unsafe to eat for pregnant womyn and young children. And of course, everybody knows on a gut level that the stress and strain upon the bio-system of humans endured in every-day civilized life is probably the primary trigger of susceptibility to every kind of disease imaginable. Living in a continuous state of frustration, boredom, despair, and the roller-coaster emotional swings of life in this disaster can only seriously damage the marvelous immune system with which nature endowed us through eons of evolution. A child born into civilized culture is condemned to be concerned with health issues her whole life. Immediately at birth, she is taken from her mother’s warm breast and with sterilized, gloved hands placed into a metal and plastic box in a geometric formation of other boxes inhabited by little fellow refugees with an I.D. tag on her wrist. She is punctured with steel needles shortly afterwards in the long process of forced inoculation against nature’s microorganisms that would scarcely be of harm to her if she were raised in the wild with a group of loving, caring, healthy humans and other animals...that is, if she were freeborn and free-raised.
Welfare is the other value that reigns alongside that of health. One of the most commonly heard objections to ending civilization is that millions would starve. Somehow, saying that seems to help objectors avoid the stark reality that millions are starving now and have been since civilization spread its powerful tentacles around the globe. Left wing politicos and philanthropic organizations thrive on identifying themselves as the benefactors of the masses who would otherwise starve without their help. They think quite highly of themselves and quite disparagingly of their fellow humans’ ability to thrive upon the abundance of earth’s food and medicine. Of course, millions would indeed perish if civilization and all its detriments were to suddenly vanish into thin air. But when the machines are stopped and the factories are empty of slaves there will be a transition to simpler, healthy and more fulfilling lives in harmony with all of life...a vision that refuses to bow to logical, sensible, arguments. During the transition, which will probably occur more quickly than most of us would imagine, there will be all this stuff to help make the transition bearable. One or two generations of humans born free “after the great fall” will be well established in living wild and free because our embodied being is at home on wild earth. They will be underway in inventing creative ways to celebrate the joys of living in harmony and co-operation with the earth and all her offspring. Health and welfare will be forgotten words of the slave-world of civilization talked about in stories and perhaps sung about for centuries expressing the deep memories of the hell that will never again be given sway. Of course, even the idea of “centuries” will be left behind. There will be no need of calendars and certainly no clocks and schedules.
Opportunity. This particular value has more hucksters than any other, it seems. Pretty much all advertising is an offer of opportunity to enhance one’s slavery by purchasing another commodity in whatever form, from breast or penis enlargement to sunny Caribbean vacations, and all the commodity junk and “services” that are killing us. Lottery ticket sales are soaring in the u.s. as more state legislators invite the industry to feed upon the sheep under their liberal, paternalistic domains. “Job and career opportunities” are nothing more, of course, than the luring of conditioned citizens into slavery, offering in exchange a wage...numbers on paper that enable the slave individual or family to purchase the commodities needed for sterilized existence and for tranquilizing their battered senses and instincts. The luxuries and toys that the wage-slave produces by his/her labor used to be fairly sufficient as tranquilizer, but now, these more and more have to be supplemented by chemically altering the brain-soup inside the skulls of millions. The huckstering of these “remedies” has become a multi-billion dollar industry. At bottom, it could be said that what displays itself as the high god of opportunity in the commodity-world of industrial civilization, is a sure doorway to further enslavement and misery. All one has to do is ask the question, “what would I consider the ‘opportunity of a lifetime?’” and think of its implications. Yet billions of human beings are on the constant lookout for just such an opportunity. Enough has been said here to point out the need to question all the received values of civil culture, and disengage from them in our thinking so that our actions can be freed from the concern of offending civil values, the gods of Babylon....A necessary liberating endeavor.
“Our position is that of combatants between two worlds—one that we don’t acknowledge,the other that does not yet exist.”
– Raoul Vaneigem
January 3, New Orleans, Louisiana:
Anarchist graffiti in solidarity with striking newspaper workers in Ohio has appeared near the Times-Picayune building for several weeks in a row. The newspaper has encouraged their workers to go to Ohio and work as scabs to break the strike.
January 15, Thessaloniki, Greece:
Four people were attacked by fascists outside an occupation of the Terra Incognita in the center of Thessaloniki; one was severely injured. The next day 20 fascists showed up outside the same occupation shouting nationalistic slogans and throwing stones. As a response to that, on January 22, 250 anarchists, anti-authoritarians and autonomous comrades made a concentration outside the offices of the fascist organization during which the offices were destroyed. After that they marched towards the university area.
January 22, Athens, Greece:
Riot police sprayed anarchists with tear gas after they rampaged through the center of Athens, destroying a municipal police car and smashing four store windows on the capital's main shopping thoroughfare, Ermou Street. The anarchists, who numbered some 500 in total, had latched on to a protest march by students and teachers from higher education institutes seeking better facilities and funding.
January 23, Athens, Greece:
French far-right leader Jean-Marie Le Pen attended a news conference in Athens hosted by the extreme-right Hellenic Front. Protesters staged a small anti-fascist rally in Korai Square. Also, around 100 suspected anarchists vandalized the offices of the far-right-wing Chrysi Avgi organization in Thessaloniki.
January 26, Sardinia, Italy:
The specter of the police violence surrounding the G8 meeting in Genoa four years ago returned to haunt Italy when 47 people, including senior police officers, doctors, nurses and prison guards, went before a judge, accused of violently mistreating arrested demonstrators. Tensions were further heightened when a bomb went off in Sardinia outside the home of one of the defendants, a member of the paramilitary Carabinieri. No one was injured. The device was similar to one set off when Tony Blair visited the island last summer as guest of Italy’s prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi.
February 8, Athens, Greece:
Bomb Attacks On the Rise! A series of homemade bombs damaged the entrances of five Greek banks and two local offices of the ruling conservative party, but no one was hurt, police bastards said. The blasts, triggered by camping gas canisters and gasoline in central and eastern Athens, targeted four branches of Eurobank and one of National Bank within an hour. One of the banks was badly damaged and several cars parked nearby were hit.
Dissident groups mainly identified as anarchists have in the past regularly staged similar attacks in the capital. Due to increased policing and the installation of surveillance cameras before last August’s Athens Olympics, as well as the capture and breakup of the skilled November 17 guerrilla group in mid-2002, the Greek establishment has seen a drop in such attacks. But in recent months the attacks appear to be on the rise again, with several bomb attacks–mainly against police convoys and guards. Police sources said the attacks have raised fears that a new guerrilla group may have been formed.
February 12, Greece: Anarchists Thought to Have Planned Series of Dawn Attacks Across Attica
Greek police believe that anarchists orchestrated a series of attacks with homemade bombs that hit five banks and two offices of the ruling New Democracy (ND) party in different parts of the city of Attica. No one claimed responsibility for the attacks, which targeted Eurobank branches in Exarchia, Petralona, Glyfada and Acropolis, and ND offices in the districts of Lambrini and Ilion. The worst damage was caused in the Petralona attack where the ground floor was completely destroyed. There were no reports of any injuries.
February 23, Voula, Greece: Anarchists Target Greek-U.S. Executive’s Vehicle In Protest of Bush Visit
In the coastal suburb, a car with U.S. license plates was damaged in an arson attack by anarchists protesting a visit to Europe by Bush. No one was hurt in the attack on the vehicle, which belonged to an unidentified Greek-American businessman. A group calling itself Revolutionary Action claimed responsibility for the attack, in a telephone call to an Athens newspaper.
March 2, Italy: Anarchists Claim Responsibility for Letter Bomb Campaign
Anarchists have claimed responsibility for a wave of letter bombs that exploded outside police stations in northern Italy and claimed another bomb was due to go off at Italy’s most famous musical festival. Interior Minister Giuseppe Pisanu told Parliament that the bombs were “blatantly meant to kill”. Anarchist groups have often set off small bombs around Italy over the last few years, targeting institutional buildings, foreign company headquarters and media, but they are normally set for the dead of night to do damage rather than to kill.
An anarchist group called Cooperativa Artigiana Fuoco e Affini sent a letter to Genoa’s Secolo XIX newspaper claiming responsibility for the recent explosions. It said it had targeted the famed San Remo music festival “to send a message of freedom and solidarity for all prisoners” held in Italian jails. Police said they had found no evidence of explosives in the San Remo theatre and promised to take maximum precautions during the rest of the festival. However, two bombs went off outside a police station in central Milan, hidden in paper and glass recycling bins. In Genoa, bombs exploded outside two police stations and four recycling tubs outside other police posts were set on fire. No pig injuries were reported.
March 4, Athens, Greece:
Unidentified vandals hurled a Molotov cocktail at a road surveillance camera on Iera Odos in the Athenian district of Kolonos in the early morning, causing serious damage.
March 7, Ostia, Italy:
A bomb exploded in front of the courthouse in a coastal town near the Italian capital of Rome, causing considerable damage but no casualties. The bomb tore through the main entrance of the court building, causing part of the front wall to collapse and shattering windows in surrounding buildings. The blast followed four explosions the previous week near police stations in Genoa and Milan. A group calling itself the Informal Federation of Anarchists has claimed responsibility for the Genoa and Milan bombs.
March 23, Athens, Greece:
In an escalation of attacks on the technologies of control, two unidentified vandals set fire to two more road surveillance cameras in the Athenian district of Kolonos in the early afternoon, causing substantial damage. Cameras in this district of Athens were also targeted in early March.
March 26, Greece:
A gang of 30 anarchist youth went on a rampage in Athens in the late evening, throwing gasoline bombs and stones that damaged five parked cars. No arrests or injuries were reported. Athens pigs said the rampage took place around Exarchia Square in central Athens. And the same night, in the northern Greek port city of Thessaloniki about 60 anarchists used gasoline bombs to burn a parked car and an ATM machine.
April 1, Athens, Greece: Bigots Eclipsed by Anarchists
Anarchists rioted in the central Exarchia district of Athens, throwing petrol bombs and stones at police, smashing cars, damaging shops and besieging the local police station. One anarchist was arrested. The riots followed an anti-racism march inspired by the soccer game between Albania and Greece.
April 7, Athens, Greece:
A branch of the National Bank of Greece in Ano Patissia, near central Athens, was firebombed in the early morning hours. Nobody was hurt. At the same time, a traffic police CCTV camera at the junction of coastal Vouliagmenis Avenue with Alimou Avenue was destroyed by arsonists before dawn.
May 1, Germany:
German riot police battled masked anarchists in Berlin and Leipzig as sporadic violence once again flared up during May Day celebrations. Police used water cannons against insurgents during riots in the eastern German city of Leipzig. Violence broke out after some 2,500 demonstrators tried to disturb a march through the city by supporters of German far-right National Democratic Party (NPD). About 100 people in the two cities were arrested.
Throwing stones, bottles and signal rockets at police, a group of anarchists overturned a car in Berlin’s Kreuzberg district near the government quarter but were chased away by police before they could set it on fire. Kreuzberg — a Bohemian district populated with a mixture of immigrants, students and squatters — has been the scene of May Day violence for the past 18 years despite extensive prevention efforts by police.
The most tense moment came shortly before sunset when a group of about 1,500 anarchists, many of them masked and wearing dark hoods, tried to march towards the Berlin headquarters of the Axel Springer publishing company. “Everything for everyone and everything for free,” they chanted. After sunset, anarchists made another short-lived attack on them, hurling bottles and stones at police near a street festival. Police said three Berlin cops were slightly injured, compared with more than 50 in the early hours of May 1, 2004 – as several dozen people, some masked, pelted them with bottles and stones after a concert in the east of the city. Many local businesses and bank offices were better prepared this year, boarding up windows and doors.
Anarchist Political Prisoners:
Bill Dunne #10916-086, Box 019001, Atwater, CA 95301. Anti-authoritarian sentenced to 90 years for the attempted liberation of a prisoner in 1979.
Ojore N. Lutalo #59860, PO 861, SBI #0000901548, Trenton, NJ 08625. Anarchist and black liberation soldier serving time for revolutionary clandestine activities.
Mike Rusniak DOC K88887, Dixon CC, 2600 Brinton, PO Box 99, Dixon, IL 61021. Serving time for stealing a police car, and other acts of anti-government property-destruction.
Rodney Wade #38058, S.I.C.I., ND-BL-24, P.O. Box 8509, Boise, ID, 83707. Ecological activist serving time for self-defense against a racist attack.
Robert Thaxton #12112716, (aka Rob Los Ricos) MCCF, 4005 Aumsville Hwy, Salem, OR 97301. Anarchist sentenced to over seven years in prison for throwing a rock at a cop at a June 18, 1999 Reclaim the Streets protest in Eugene.
Brian McCarvill #11037967, Oregon State Penitentiary, 2605 State St, Salem, OR 97310. Became politically active while serving a 39-year sentence on bogus charges, he has been continually harassed after filing a lawsuit against the Oregon Dept. of Corrections.
Jerome W. Bey #37479, SCCC (1-B-224), 255 West Hwy 32, Licking, MO 65102. Social prisoner and founder of the anarcho-syndicalist Missouri Prison Labor Union.
Anarchist Black Cross Network www.anarchistblackcross.org
The Return of the Gods - Irrationalism, Ideology and Anarchy, by Dave Antagonism
The recent death of John Paul II and the vast televised pageant that swept the globe, accompanied by the manifestation of mourning crowds, was just another example of the mass Irrationalism that seems to be dominating more and more of social discourse(s) and is a fundamental part of the operation of the global empire of capital. This mass Irrationalism can be witnessed in numerous unfolding social phenomena; but is most noticeable in the rise of religious fundamentalism and ethnic and communal violence. However, there is also a general cultural condition of the irrational in which the banal takes on the characteristics of the marvelous and fantastical (the spiraling fetishism of all commodities, obsessions with celebrities etc); the cost being that the marvelous becomes banal - all the brilliance of living takes places within the spectacle. The world seems both terrifyingly crazy and boringly predictable. Here we will look specifically at the ideologies of mass Irrationalism.
The dominant ideologies of both capital and state and its official and partial opposition during the 20th century - socialism and liberalism - are being pushed aside by a politics that puts into play a series of mytheo-poetic narratives of blood, nation and god. This Irrationalism is no aberration but a consistent product of the dominant order and can only have authoritarian consequences.
The most dominant manifestations of mass Irrationalism are the rise of fundamentalist ideologies out of the traditional religions and the rise in the tenor of nationalist and ethnic identities. These ideologies are often attached to specific hierarchical institutions. These ideologies often pose as some kind of atavistic rediscovery of community and a return to a past/tradition that is being destroyed by various outsiders and barbarians (liberal elites, social/sexual deviants, immigrants, “The West” etc) . However, despite appearances, the rise of this Irrationalism is in no way “anti-modern” and is in fact facilitating the creation of the material community of capital—the very process of de/reterritorialization and de/recoding of social life, that these ideologies chart on their Rapture index as evidence of the coming apocalypse. There remains no ‘original’ community for the conservative to conserve. It exists only as an ideological fetish that is imposed back onto reality. Various anti/non-Enlightenment cosmologies are resurrected from the past and with them a range of categories and perspectives that then become part of a general right-wing authoritarianism that tries to discipline both the disorder and opportunity that arises in this particular crisis of state and capital. The institutions that provide the life of these ideologies – such as churches – may present themselves as organic communities at odds/or out of step with the dominant order but are completely intermeshed into either or both the vision-machine and the war-machine. This is witnessed in both the horrific (Jihad’s flying planes into buildings) and the mundane (TV evangelists).
Mass Irrationalism emerges not just out of the heights of power but also amongst the most wretched of the earth. The massive collapse of the Left as state system and as an ideology and the seeming end of history, has created a well of hopelessness in the world. Into this hopelessness seep ideologies that purport a rhetoric of some kind of divine justice, whether it be at the hands of Gaia or God. This is not just taking place in the slums and barrios of the globe but also in the metropolis. It is understandable that in dark times there is an appeal in the idea of some higher truth that will save us. For the Left this was most often a deified idea of oppressed identities - the mystical proletariat - that would one day awaken from its slumber. For green radicals it is ‘nature’ or the ‘earth’, which Swamp-Thing like will save us from ourselves. Yet as Mike Davis identifies in his article “Planet of Slums” in New Left Review, it is religious fundamentalism that is the growing power amongst the global poor—just as it is amongst the elite. Mass Irrationalism seems to be taking root in all the different singularities and divisions of the multitude.
The culture industry puts into play a stream of seemingly contradictory ideologies in its process of selling specific commodities and maintaining the conditions of commodity society generally. One example is that almost any life-style magazine show will put into play - in almost equal measure - dosages of technophilia and primitivism. The latter will often critique contemporary life as too stressful, too regimented, too rational and instrumental - and show us how we can escape this through taking a holiday to Fiji, taking up meditation, “trying to stress less” or any other solution that still remains on the territory of things and their prices. The critique that this form of “primitivism” entails - that modern life is too rational - is something we find often in the broad church (and I mean church) of green politics. This often leads to a reification of the supposedly irrational and the development of ideologies that base themselves on a series of spurious
mystical insights and the fetishism of an idea of ‘traditional’, and ‘aboriginal’ people that has little to do with the lives, hopes and real struggles of these people themselves. (Take for example the use of the concept “The wild” amongst some U.S. anarcho-primitivists - it seems to be quite similar to the “Force” except stone hammers have replaced light-sabers. Not necessarily an improvement and makes me wonder if a reactionary monastic cult of Eco-Jedi will be called into being to guard it.)
Mass Irrationalism is part of the production of a general condition of authoritarianism that capital needs as neo-liberalism proves to be unstable at both a macro and micro political level. Its authoritarian function is facilitated on multiple levels. On one hand its ascribes a series of Truths that can never be questioned - as timeless essences of the cosmos. These truths clearly ascribe an inside and outside, a good and bad, a friend and enemy which contribute to the functioning of sovereignty and power. As Agamben identifies, the camp is the “bio-political nomos of the planet” - that special spaces of punishment and detention are the basis for the construction of life on all sides of the fence. It is the ideologies of mass Irrationalism that create the populist justification for this increased retardation of the few remaining liberal civil rights and the constant brutalization of huge sections of the globe; they both identify an enemy and call into being justifications for force that traditionally liberalism has had trouble manifesting (and hence why throughout its entire history liberalism always courts the illiberal for reasons of state and rule.)
The daily life of mass Irrationalism sees large numbers of people interpolated into the rituals of sprawling ideological hierarchies and rackets the church service become pep rally. Whilst these postmodern Nuremberg rallies cannot provide a sense of community in a liberating way, they do create a different sort of community - one typified by gross conformity and groupthink. It is a community in which the very private remains of the self are exposed to constant surveillance. Surveillance by both anointed representatives of the structures and by one’s fellows. In this way these rackets work as part of the production of subjectivities that fit within the dominant machinery of the spectacular-commodity economy. It seems to matter little if the actual racket is a Baptist church or a yoga center. The message is the same: there is something wrong inside of us, something black and nasty, and it is through the submission to ritual that it will be fixed. As the flesh machine of plastic surgery and cosmetics sculpt and commodify the surface of our bodies, the institutions of mass Irrationalism (working with that rationalist structure, psychotherapy) re/form our interiors. It could be possible to try to de-link some of these mystical processes from their hierarchies as part of the general social uprising: we could “schiz out” these irrational practices so they can no longer be contained by the institutions that invoke them and intermesh them as part of our own nomadic war machine. A Friday night Sufism, holy revelations on the bus, yoga in the workplace - oh wait, that is already an accepted management strategy!
For those of us that do not buy these ideologies, a general atmosphere of fear and insecurity is created. How do you reason with a suicide bomber, or explain to the Baptist with a gun why you want an abortion, or why you think your mum will prefer to die than be a vegetable, that they have no right to be examining your anus unless nicely asked and screw you I want to drink beer, smoke crystal, dance like a mad man and/or watch Queer as Folk? In this climate it is tempting to look to other authoritarian institutions that have an official ideology of rationality as protection - particularly the state and generally the legal system. It is to the state that people look to save us from an invisible enemy that seems everywhere - the bomber on the bus, the bigot on the street corner. Of course, by increasing the power of the state we reinforce the general social conditions that produce the mass Irrationalism we are seeking shelter from and cripple the only power that can actual destroy both - our own autonomous collective counter-power.
Techno-rationalism and mystical Irrationalism move forward together they are both part of the broader practices of power and the project of capital; and both construct/reduce the human, real living people, to the status of subjects and to the state of subjection. It is under the auspices of mass Irrationalism - the crescendo of enchantment - that the most base and functionalist rationalization of our lives and the earth have taken place. The development of the military apparatus, the penetration of bio-power, the encroachment of the panopticon, the annihilation of the biosphere, etc. could only happen under the “crackpot realism” generated by a cultural and political tone soaked in mass Irrationalism. Thus the realization of liberation – the real historic movement against the conditions of the present – the construction of nomadic war machines that can create numerous ruptures and generate new processes of living built on autonomy and desire – has to pose itself against both rationalism and Irrationalism, against both enlightenment and counter-enlightenment.
It is difficult to ascribe a single reason to the rise of mass Irrationalism. Arguably it is the product of numerous and semi-autonomous developments; this would include commodity fetishism, the bio-political management of the population, the divisions of labor, psychic/sexual repression, massified technologies, the cultural industry etc. That is, all the forms of power and control that construct a population that on both an individual and collective level lacks any real autonomy. The situation in which human activities in the broadest sense is reified and fetished into one form or another. Indeed, the contemporary globe seems to move to the demands of all things – except people. The spectacle is awash with gods and idols, both sacred and profane, which seem to be the animating forces of the globe: democracy, the market, technology, nature, etc. All these reifications obscure the reality that it is people and their social organization that is being talked about here.
As Marx identified, the expansion of alienation is the corresponding constriction of human autonomy – the construction of our condition of poverty, at the mercy of a world we have helped build but struggle to understand – let alone control.
It is tempting in this rejection of Irrationalism to return to humanism as a basis for thought and action. However, the category of ‘The Human’ is a reification in itself and behind it stands a series of disciplinary apparatuses. The realization of The Human has been a process of identifying what is supposedly human and then the repressing of what supposedly it is not: the history of humanism is a history of mental asylums, prisons and camps. The Human emerges as part of the circuitry of the bio-political management of the population. It is possible to radicalize the concept of the human – to see it as historically constructed, as a contingent moment produced in the friction of power and resistance – and as such pose the idea of radically other ways of being human; ways that are immanent now through our collective ability to rupture against capital and state.
As argued above, the response to mass Irrationalism cannot be a call for the deepening of rationalism – this split is a false opposition – but rather an entirely ‘other’ approach to both. A sense of being based on our own individual lives and on our struggles for autonomy. The production of the rupture that will throw all this into question will involve moments that are both “crazy” and “reasonable”, “mystical” and “technical” – and also none of these, both of these and beyond them all. To dream of a world totally unlike that made by civilization is of course insane to the discourses that produce today’s truth, but it is also the only reasonable and sane thing to do. Thus the only real force(s) that can resist mass Irrationalism is: our own resistance. As much as mass Irrationalism is fueled by our sense of powerlessness, and the techniques of power, a real victory – even if it is in the scheme of things a “reformist” one – would be a powerful blow. Any revolt that destabilizes the normalcy of rule and shows our ability to re/make other worlds against and beyond commodity civilization would open the way to the death of all gods and idols. If there is a kingdom of heaven, it is actually a republic of the commons, and can be made only by our active negation of all the circuitry of power.
Anti-Capitalist and Anti-Government Battles
“Where constraint breaks people, and mediation makes fools of them, the seduction of power is what makes them love their oppression. Because of it people give up their real riches: for a cause that mutilates them; for an imaginary unity that fragments them; for an appearance that reifies them; for roles that wrest them from authentic life; for a time whose passage defines and confines them.”
–Raoul Vaneigem, The Revolution of Everyday Life
December 27, Pendeli, Greece:
Two gas-canister bombs exploded and one failed to detonate near the offices of ultra-nationalist party Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) in the northern Athens suburb of Pendeli, Athens pigs said. According to investigators, local residents say they saw two youths placing the devices near the organization’s premises in Pendeli Square before making off on a high-powered motorbike.
January 11, Santa Cruz, Bolivia:
Hundreds of thousands of workers in Santa Cruz, Bolivia’s largest city, went on a general strike, causing gridlock in a growing anti-government protest that crippled another major city and elicited a pledge from the president to resign if the demonstrations turned violent.
January 15, Lagos: Youths Burn Police Station, Free Detainees
Youth in the town of Uromi in Edo State, burned the police station in the area, carting away arms and freeing detainees over the alleged killing of a student by policemen at a checkpoint. Also torched by the protesting youths was the residence of the Divisional Police Officer of the station and two vehicles. The protesting youths also paralyzed commercial activities in the town as stores and other public places were looted.
January 18, Algeria: Offices Burned in Violent Protest
Rioting youths looted and burned public buildings in a northern Algerian town to protest against an increase in gas prices and a lack of housing and jobs in the latest disturbance to hit the country. Between 3,000 and 5,000 inhabitants of Birine, 120 miles south of the capital Algiers, initially took part in an unauthorized protest which later turned violent when youths looted and set fire to buildings.
“There was huge damage. Rioters set fire to several public buildings, including the city hall and those belonging to the local post office and tax office,” a local journalist, who asked to remain anonymous, told Reuters. “Anti-riot police weren’t able to control the crowd until the arrival of more policemen from neighboring towns,” he said.
January 18, Cyberspace: U.S. Republican Websites Hacked
In solidarity with the millions around the world who are being oppressed under the Bush agenda, The Internet Liberation Front has hacked and defaced six Republican websites who push forward the sick and violent ideology of warfare, capitalism, and profit over people.
The will of the people was not expressed in these “elections”. Imperialist war, tax cuts for the rich, and ecological destruction are not in the interest of working people or the stability of our global society. The Bush administration are rich lying thieves, these inaugurations are a joke, and the whole system is corrupt. We will not be their slaves and let them get away with murder. Activists and hackers alike are rising up to resist the Bush administration using street protest, sabotage, and hacktivism. You won’t hear about it on their televisions cause the revolution is in the streets!
The massive counter-inauguration protest in DC is only the beginning. Expect four more years of resistance to the U.S. war machine. Hacktivists of the world, unite!
January 21, Milwaukee, Wisconsin:
About 10 anonymous banner drops were done throughout the city, including a huge one made of stolen upside down flags and reading “end empire.”
January 22, North Yorkshire, England: Blaze at Stately Castle Does Damage Worth Millions
An inferno that tore through one of England’s oldest neo-gothic mansions is thought to have caused financial damage worth millions of pounds. More than 80 firefighters were summoned to deal with the flames, which gutted as much as three-quarters of Allerton Castle, a “national treasure” in North Yorkshire. The English Heritage society is calling for an arson investigation to determine if the fire at this decadent estate (the ancestral home of Lord Mowbray and Prince Frederick Augustus, brother of George IV) was deliberately set.
January 27, Fort Campbell, Kentucky:
Army Specialist Rodney Whitacre, 26, of Decatur, Illinois, was arrested after he called in a bomb threat against his unit. He served in Iraq in 2004, and his unit was about to be re-deployed.
January 27, Algeria: Rabble On The Move!
Disillusioned youths are rioting with increasing frequency across Algeria as social problems become a new headache for a government still focused on fighting a long-running Islamic rebel uprising. Youths have burned and looted public buildings and set up road-blocks in towns across the oil-rich North African country almost daily over the month of January. They are protesting over a rise in the cost of living and a lack of housing and jobs.
“Youths are striking back and unless the government wakes up and helps the poor and disillusioned, riots will spread,” Malek Serrai, head of think-tank Algeria International Consult, said. Algeria last experienced serious riots in 2001 and before that in 1988 when a popular movement forced authorities to scrap the one-party rule in force since independence in 1962. To try to stop the unauthorized demonstrations, dozens of people have in recent days been jailed for disturbing public order and destroying state property.
Anti-riot police have intervened in a dozen towns in January, often using batons, tear gas and water cannon to disperse crowds. Dozens of people, including police, have been injured. Analysts worry that strong-arm tactics are not working because much of Algeria’s youth – with 75 percent of the 33 million population below 30 – see no future for themselves.
February 1, South Toledo, Ohio:
Anti-war protesters have targeted a local military recruiting office. But instead of singing songs or carrying signs, these protesters had a much more pungent way to express themselves. They threw a bucket of manure into the office and painted an obscenity on the wall. An e-mail sent to News 11 by a group calling itself “War is Shit” claimed responsibility. In its e-mail, the group says, “In a nation fueled by murderous lies, we can think of nothing more appropriate than expressing our disgust in this inappropriate fashion.”
February 1, New York City: Army Recruitment Centers Attacked
Two Army recruiting stations, one in The Bronx and one in Manhattan, were hit by vandals in unrelated attacks. David Seigel, 19, of Litchfield, Conn., was arrested and charged with vandalism for allegedly throwing a burning rag at the recruitment post in Parkchester at around 7:30 am. The rag caused some charring and minor damage to the building.
David Seigel is being held on $150,000 bail. He was caught when Metro Transit Authority pigs saw him crouching in a doorway wearing latex gloves. A note in his bag said that the attacks were for anti-war reasons. Seigel faces five to 20 years in federal prison if convicted for setting fire to the Army center.
Five hours later, an employee of an Army recruiting station in the Flatiron section of Manhattan noticed that the front door had been cracked by a rock. Someone had also used red paint to scrawl an anarchist symbol and an expletive that mentioned the war in Iraq, authorities said. Police have no suspects in the afternoon attack. The Joint Terrorism Task Force is investigating the incident.
February 3, Turkey: Bomb Found Near U.S. Base
Turkish police defused a bomb discovered near a military base used by the U.S. The bomb, containing 11 pounds of explosives, was found in a nightclub near the entrance of Incirlik Air Base, where 1,400 U.S. troops are based as part of a NATO mission. This incident came just a few days ahead of a visit by Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice to Turkey. Washington has expressed an interest in expanding its use of the base, which is an hour’s flight from Iraq.
February 5, East Orange, New Jersey: The Antiwar Movement Gets Aggressive
The five U.S. Army recruiters who work from a storefront office in East Orange arrived in the morning to discover that a plate-glass window above the main entrance had been shattered, along with a window in the Navy office next door. Since the beginning of 2003, there have been more than a dozen other–often violent–incidents aimed at military recruiters or property through-out the country. In a few cases, vehicles have been set on fire; in others, blood has been thrown through windows. Spokespeople for the armed forces have downplayed the incidents even as many recruiters have increased security at their stations.
January 30, Los Angeles, California: Pro-Graffiti and Anti-System Community Group Forms
Graffiti Against The System (GATS) held a meeting with the intent of building a radical movement of youth, graffiti artists, and other guerrilla artists who are organizing themselves. GATS opposes the police state that occupies our communities, and the system that is responsible for this. Reprinted below is a manifesto that was circulated at that meeting:
Based upon the statement that “Blank walls equal blank minds” G.A.T.S. aims to give the city a voice: A rebellious and unapologetic voice that is against everything wrong with this system. With spray-cans, slap tags, markers, wheat-paste and other tools of self-expression we will scream and we will be heard. In a time when graffiti has been demonized and called ugly we pledge to expose its importance in the realm of politics and raise it to the level no other kind of art has reached. We worry not about the legalities of our actions, but of the message we try to convey. We know that if graffiti didn’t change anything they would make it legal.
We unite with people based on our main tasks, which are as follows: Stop the war on graffiti/youth Bring political life to people, especially the youth
Create public opinion
Bring advanced organization into graffiti
Bust missions as to promote graffiti as an art
In as few words as possible: We are anti-capitalism and pro-graffiti.
Contact GATS at: email@example.com
February 24, Gladstone, Oregon: Student Arrested In Flag Theft
A huge American flag that served as a landmark along Interstate 205 before disappearing was found stashed under the bed of a Tualatin High School senior. The theft of the 30-by-50 foot flag, ripped from a lighted pole at Latus Motors Harley Davidson, drew outrage and several thousand dollars in donations to replace it. Sean Beauchamp, 18, was arrested on accusations of theft, criminal mischief and abuse of a venerated object. He was booked into Clackamas County Jail and released on $37,500 bail. Theft and criminal mischief are class C felonies, punishable by a maximum five-year sentence and $125,000 fine. Abuse of a venerated object is a class A misdemeanor, which carries a maximum penalty of one year in jail and a $6,250 fine.
March 10, Jakarta, Indonesia:
Students, angry over a drastic rise in fuel prices, ripped down the gates leading to the Indonesia Parliament. The demonstrators attacked police lines with stones and petrol bombs, but were not able to get inside the building.
March 11, Malabon City, Philippines: Squatters Violently Defend Homes
Barricades sprung up around a 5-hectare squatter colony, which is home to approximately 4,000 families. The fortifications had been prepared for eviction. Residents had already stormed city hall and denounced the mayor for not taking the necessary steps to turn over the land to the squatters, as previous mayors had begun to do. Residents armed themselves with clubs, molotov cocktails, and improvised guns. Community spokesperson Amy Criss vowed “We will fight. We will kill and die for our homes if we have to. If they will come here to demolish our houses, they should think twice. There will be a bloodbath if they would try to destroy our homes.”
As promised, violence erupted the following day during the demolition of the squatters’ shanties. Those injured were mostly members of the demolition crew who sustained gun-shot wounds in different parts of the body. The riot erupted after some 500 members of the demolition crew, armed with a demolition order, started to demolish several houses. Around 100 police were deployed in the area. Apparently outnumbered, the police failed to prevent the riot. Not a single arrest was made despite the number of casualties. The demolition crew finally pulled out from the area and the tension subsided.
March 21, Lawrence, Kansas:
Police from Lawrence and the University of Kansas (KU) are investigating vandalism involving anti-war slogans and banners. They were discovered in the city’s downtown area and on the university campus. Officials say graffiti was spray-painted on windows at military recruiting offices, and large banners hung on some buildings bore messages such as “US Out of Iraq,” ”Stop the Killing” and “Blood of the War Is On Us”. At the military recruiting offices, police say a glue-like substance was poured on some of the locks. On the KU campus, there were anti-war slogans painted on a door to the Military Sciences Building and on six government vehicles in a nearby parking lot.
March 23, England: Crafty Thieves Prey on Parliament!
The Houses of Parliament have been revealed as rich pickings for thieves, with more than $150,000 pounds of valuables stolen in the past 4 years, including computers, solar panels and jewelry belonging to politicians. Newly released documents show that thieves strike Parliament on average of at least once a week. There have also been a number of outbreaks of vandalism. For example: 1,000 pounds worth of damage to a bust of John Smith, the late Labour party leader. The crime figures were compiled by SO17, the branch of the London Metropolitan police that guards the Palace of Westminster.
One of the more interesting statistics concerns the number of knives and gas canisters that have been found on people attempting to enter Parliament: In 2003-4, 333 knives were seized by police at the entrances to Parliament, compared with just 64 in 2001-2. Police also seized 52 gas canisters, two batons and a knuckle-duster last year. There have also been several well-publicized breaches of Parliament’s security systems.
Last year, hunt saboteurs were able to walk onto the Commons floor, and Tony Blair was hit by a bag of purple flour thrown by campaigners calling for more rights for fathers. A bullet-proof barrier now separates the public from the politicians and searches have become more vigorous. The statistics show that theft is still the most prevalent breach of security, but recently there have also been two bomb threats and one threat to kill.
March 29, Chile: Day of the Young Combatant
Clashes between masked youths and riot police took place in the Chilean cities of Santiago, Temuco, and Osorno on March 29th, the annual “Day of the Young Combatant”,resulting in more than 48 arrests and seven injuries across the country. Young rebels tore down light posts, raised barricades in the streets, and threw rocks and firebombs at police water cannons outside of various universities, while riot cops fired tear gas. Three corporate journalists were attacked and had their equipment stolen in Santiago. Later that night, in the working class Santiago neighborhood of Villa Francia, masked rebels blockaded streets and fought with riot police yet again.
This year’s Day of the Young Combatant marked the 20th anniversary of the deaths of two young MIR (Left Revolutionary Movement) militants (the Vergara brothers, Eduardo and Rafael), killed in a confrontation with police officers on March 29th of 1985. The Day of the Young Combatant also commemorates the deaths of many other young rebels who died in the resistance (the Mapuche youth Alex Lemun, for example).
March 30, Indiana: Medal of Honor Memorial Defaced
Vandals left the famous Medal of Honor Memorial looking like it had been through its own battle, and repairs are expected to take at least six weeks. Memorial officials estimate repairs could cost $6,000 to $8,000 in materials alone. “It’s not so much the money, it’s the fact that someone would do this dishonor to people who have gone above and beyond in protecting the rights of American citizens,” said Susan Hanafee, a member of the IPALCO Foundation board responsible for the upkeep of the memorial on the Downtown Canal.
One panel had a hole in it, while glass in a second panel was chipped. Each panel weighs about 200 pounds with glass that is one inch thick. In addition, walls around the memorial were spray-painted with obscenities aimed at Gov. Mitch Daniels and President Bush, peace symbols and a plea to “legalize ganja,” a reference to marijuana. Vandals also sprayed graffiti along an area of the canal that stretches from the National Collegiate Athletic Association offices to just east of the memorial. Investigators are trying to see if two security cameras in the area captured the vandalism.
April 1, Iraq: Insurgents Attack Abu Ghraib!
Insurgents assailed Iraq’s Abu Ghraib prison, launching waves of car bombs, rockets and gunfire in an hours’-long onslaught that wounded 18 Amerikan GI’s. The attackers apparently didn’t penetrate the prison grounds, although 12 inmates were also reportedly wounded during the siege. Roughly 40-60 insurgents kept up sporadic attacks for about four hours, in an attack that was much larger in scale than the shoot-and-run ambushes that have characterized the guerrilla campaign against the two-year-old U.S. military occupation.
Military spokespeople said the insurgents attacked in multiple locations at the same time, focusing on two guard towers and then using a car bomb to try to penetrate a gate. Combat helicopters helped push back the attack and no prisoners are believed to have escaped during the melee.
This recent attack on the Abu Ghraib prison facility should be welcomed as a direct assault on the foremost icon of Bush’s War of Terror. Abu Ghraib has the same meaning to Iraqis as did the Bastille to the French prior to the Revolution: an enduring symbol of arbitrary state power and cruelty. Under Saddam the prison could be dismissed as the logical exponent of a tyrannical regime bent on removing political opponents. Now, however, under the authority of Bush and Rumsfeld, it has become the torture-capital of the entire Middle East; Abu Ghraib is the epicenter of Bush’s new world prison state, a phenomenon that is trying to extend its tentacles throughout the globe.
For the most part, the truth of Abu Ghraib is concealed by the collaborative American media. They have disguised the obvious implications of Bush’s torture gulag. In fact, AbuGhraib, like Guantanamo and the other stars in the American prison constellation, is a laboratory where the Defense Dept is analyzing the limits of human suffering. We know this from the many eyewitness accounts of sense-deprivation techniques, drugs forced up prisoners rectums, extreme temperature variations, isolation chambers etc. A whole range of afflictions is being used with clinical precision to gauge the parameters of human endurance. This Nazi-like attention to detail is assisted by both doctors and para-medics alike, each lending their hand to this new regime of state terror.
Currently, the occupation forces are holding an estimated 10,000 Iraqi prisoners; none of whom have been charged with a crime or who have access to legal representation. The vast majority has been arrested in “massive sweeps” in response to the burgeoning insurgency. This is the real policy; the rest is just public relations. What difference does it make if it’s attacked by angry family members, insurgents or even Bin Laden itself? The point is to knock the facility down and release the prisoners. The mere existence of Abu Ghraib runs counter to the concept and experience of freedom.
United Freedom Front Prisoners:
The following three individuals are serving huge sentences for their role in actions carried out by the (UFF) in the 1980’s. The UFF carried out solidarity bombings against the U.S. government on a variety of issues.
Jaan Karl Laaman W41514, Box 100, South Walpole, MA 0207.
Thomas Manning #10373-016, Box 1000, Leavenworth, KS 66048.
Richard Williams #10377-016, 3901 Klein Blvd., Lompoc, CA 93436.
MOVE is a radical ecological movement that has been attacked by the Philadelphia Police since its inception. Nine members were convicted and sent to prison for life following a 1978 siege at their house in which one cop was killed by another cop. One of those nine, Merle Africa, died in prison after being denied medical treatment.
Debbie Simms Africa #006307, Janet Holloway Africa#006308, Janine Philips Africa #006309, 451 Fullerton Ave, Cambridge Springs, PA 16403-1238.
Michael Davis Africa AM4973, Charles Simms Africa AM4975, Box 244, Grateford, PA 19426-0244 SCI Grateford.
Edward Goodman Africa AM4974, Box 200, Camp Hill, PA17011-0200 SCI Camp Hill. William Philips Africa AM4984, Delbert Orr Africa AM4985, Drawer K, Dallas, PA18612 SCI Dallas.
The Master Race, by Rob Los Ricos
“Race:...2. A group of people united by a common history, nationality or tradition.”
–The American Heritage Dictionary, 3rd Edition
The one thing that all civilizations have in common, their very defining characteristic, is the creation of wealth and privilege for a ruling elite. Regimes may come and go, but the structure is never more than slightly modified. Elitism is preserved as the sole focus of civilized societies, no matter who is in charge.
The ruling elite of the New World Order is not made up of any ethnically “pure” people. People of all ethnic groups are allowed - encouraged, even - to fight their way into the
inner circle, provided they are ruthless and cunning enough, and that they don’t present a challenge to institutionalized elitism.
The lives of the wealthy and privileged are so dissimilar to those of the poorer members of industrial societies, they constitute a distinct race. The oppression of civilization’s have-nots by the master race can therefore be accurately described as racism. This racism is the cornerstone upon which western civilization was built. It permeates every facet of the West’s social fabric, so that everything which occurs everyday reinforces the domination of the world and its various peoples by a tiny minority. The master race uses their wealth and power to perpetuate racism.
Basing racial critique on skin color and ethnic heritage doesn’t grasp the totality of racism. If one equates being “white” with being part of the master race, then how does one explain away the generations of Euro-Americans who have nothing but contempt for banks, corporations and governments and are being warehoused in US prisons? Who is “whiter”, according to the theory of skin privilege: the typical rural American outlaw, or Clarence Thomas? Who has more power in this country, the leader of the KKK or Condaleeza Rice?
There may well be more “people of color” among the global elite than there are “white” people. Skin color is not relevant to the racism that dominates us.
What the master race has in common is that they have received a Western education and they do business with Western banks, for the benefit of Western interests. It’s not ethnicity that makes one part of the master race, it’s loyalty and service to Western institutions that grants one a pass into the upper echelons of Western civilization.
(Eco-feminists in south Asia, among others, have pointed out that most of the powerful and wealthy nations are in the northern hemisphere, so in deference to their analysis, from here on, I’ll refer to the colonial, imperialist nations of old as the North. Also, I’ll refer to the master race as “whitey”, in order to keep the discussion in somewhat familiar terms. And also because it’s fun.)
After pummeling one another for a millennium, the northern nations discovered distant lands inhabited by a wide variety of peoples who shared one thing in common: their societies were not devoted to developing more efficient methods to slaughter their neighbors. I’m not suggesting that warfare was unknown outside the North. I am, however, observing that most peoples had other things to do besides scheming up easier ways to massacre their neighbors.
The northerners, on the other hand, were so adept at wholesale slaughter, Christopher Columbus salivated at the thought that his armored, heavily armed sailors could readily subdue the Arawak and Carib peoples he encountered on the islands he stumbled upon. He wrote to the Spanish monarchs that these easy living peoples could easily be forced to “accept our ways.”
It wasn’t enough to massacre, rape and plunder these other peoples. Their cultures were to be obliterated and the unlucky survivors forced to live in a manner acceptable to their conquerors. This was the original shock and awe campaign.
The peoples conquered by the invading northerners were forced to convert to Christianity, but more importantly were also forced to labor at the creation of wealth for their conquerors.
Diseases, wars and forced labor killed off an incredible, incalculable number of indigenous peoples wherever the invading northerners asserted their military superiority. It’s no wonder, then, that most of the survivors came to emulate their conquerors. To many, the choice was to either adopt the alien civilization or face extermination. This is still the false choice presented to all of us on a daily basis: work or starve. The choice is false because it is actually a threat. The effectiveness of the threat has not diminished over time. However, it is not really a threat so much as it is a ruse. Because all of us have been forcibly absorbed into civilization, we have come to accept such ruses as truisms. “Money doesn’t grow on trees,” we all know. How many of us, when confronted by such cliches immediately remind ourselves, “No, but fruit does!” Who needs money, when food is readily available, everywhere?
This brings up the question of private property, a concept outside of most human societies throughout our existence. How can a person own a forest, a mountain or a valley? The very idea is absurd. Land is timeless. Human’s mightiest civilizations are fleeting.
Yet, here we are in the 21st century, and the work-or-starve ethic has spread to every land on the planet. And, grotesquely enough, few people can even question the sanity, much less the ethics, of the equation. Why is that? Why must everyone on the planet have to live according to one all-encompassing, suicidal social dictum? Racism, that’s why.
Not a racism based on ethnic or geographic characteristics, but a racism which presents one and only one worldview as acceptable, and obliterates everything that could potentially challenge it’s apparent omnipotence. In a world where Whitey has conquered over all, Whiteyism reigns supreme. Whitey doesn’t rule because Whitey’s ways are inherently superior to other People’s lifeways. Whitey rules because everywhere Whitey goes, the local population is infected with Whiteyism. The various Peoples begin to see the world through Whitey vision. They rebuild their societies to accommodate Whitey’s objectives. We all learn to think, act and live like Whitey. Once a society is infected with Whiteyism, everyone in that society wants to be Whitey. And the Whitey wannabes will not tolerate anyone escaping Whitey’s grasp.
The clearest example is that of West Papua. Many peoples there – stone-age living hunters, fishers, foragers and herders – have made it clear that they have no desire to give up their cultures and become Whiteys. They want no part of nation-states or “economic development.” They want Whitey to leave them alone. Sadly, the Whitey Indonesian government desires to develop West Papua for Whitey reasons. And the tribal Peoples there, with their incredible diversity of languages, stories and wisdom, will either accept Whitey’s ways or they will be slaughtered. This is happening now.
So, where are the protestations about the racism so explicit in this genocide? Instead, there are only mild disputes about how to spread Whiteyism to the Peoples of West Papua. The kinder, gentler Whiteys wish for the West Papuan Peoples to be allowed a voice in how they become Whiteys, behind such catch phrases as “sustainable development”. But almost no one outside West Papua demands that these Peoples be allowed to live outside the realm of Whiteyism. And just try to argue that the West Papuans be left alone. Then, all the familiar Whitey attitudes come to the fore: “These people are ignorant savages”, “They need education and health care”, “They need...” this and they need that. What almost everyone in Whiteyland needs or wants is for these Peoples to be subdued and Whitey-washed, just as they were! There can be no escape from Whiteyism–everyone must be assimilated. If not, it points out how complicit the rest of us are in upholding and reinforcing Whiteyism. Few people in Whiteyland want out of Whitey’s grasp. Mostly, they want what Whitey’s got.
People emulate Whitey and fight one another for a greater share of Whitey’s plunder. Whitey’s wealth was stolen from lands and Peoples all over the world, and Whitey’s been doing this for over half a millennium, with no end in sight.
That’s why Whitey has vast stores of wealth hidden away, and why all the poor, under-developed countries are in debt to their conquerors. It’s a pretty good racket, isn’t it? Take away all the natural resources from some people, then loan or sell it back to them at a hefty profit. It makes me sick just to think of it. It makes me even sicker that so few people see this extortion, this crime against humanity, for what it is, and do all they can to stop it.
Instead, almost everyone in Whitey’s domain devotes their entire existence to keeping Whitey in power. And, if called upon, most people would destroy anyone or anything standing in the way of Whitey’s profit lust. Just to earn themselves a share of Whitey’s wealth.
Not one so-called opposition group in the North stands against Whiteyism. Instead, they all – feminists, marxists, syndicalists, ethnic nationalists, liberals, religious fundamentalists – bicker over who gets dibs on Whitey’s privileges. The clamor and competition to prove themselves worthy of Whitey’s favors is disgusting.
We all know how humiliating work is. How employment grinds us down, takes away our lives, leaves us numb and drives us insane because it does not fulfill our lives at any level that matters: spiritually, existentially, passionately, lovingly.
But still we serve Whitey’s will, because doing otherwise entails risk, hardship and extreme danger. We cower at our jobs in order to keep a paycheck coming. This is Whitey’s way of bestowing blessings on us. Whitey rewards the devout with money, the adept with credit. Every time we purchase anything, we are casting a vote for Whitey’s continued reign. Every paycheck cashed is an act of devotion to Whitey. Every day we report to our jobs or schools, we demonstrate our faith that Whitey will still be in charge in the future, a future we are actively creating, according to Whitey’s wishes.
Got a credit card? Then congratulations! You are a card-carrying Whitey. That piece of plastic is nothing but toxic waste anywhere Whitey’s rule is not firmly established. Your credit rating is the measure of your Whiteyness: the more important one is to Whitey, the higher the credit rating. Credit cards, paychecks and cash are worthless to the Peoples of West Papua. Whitey has not conquered them. And until we cast off the intellectual, religious, and social chains that bind us to Whitey, Whitey will continue to rule over us. This is not an impossible task. We can do this, but it will take real, determined struggle. We’ll have to endure hardship, face danger, suffer great pain, to rid ourselves of Whiteydom. This is not something that can be done quickly and without sacrifice, or in one’s spare time. To tear down Whitey will take nothing less than the complete commitment of our existences.
If we don’t withdraw our live’s energies from Whitey, we’ll end up doing as so many generations before us have – sacrificing our lives to Whitey. No amount of Whitey’s wealth is worth one minute of your life. Do you doubt that? If so, let me know if you ever succeed in buying one back.
I Am an Antichrist!
Leaders in the field of marketing products of divinity, the Christian churches have bowed to the pressures of the commodity system and put on a display of contortionism which will not cease until their trademark, the chameleon-like Jesus, has been discarded entirely. Son of God, son of a whore, son of the virgin, worker of miracles and maker of loaves, militant and steward, pederast and puritan, accuser and accused, convict and astronaut... no role is outside the range of this amazing puppet figure. He has been a hawker of suffering, a waiter dispensing favors... he has been a miser and socialist, a fascist and anti-fascist, a stalinist and peasant, a Reichian and anarchist. He has marched on every side under every flag; he has been in every self-doubt and stood at both ends of the lash, and been present at most executions where he has held the hand both of the executioner and of the executioner’s victim. He has his place in the police-station and prison and school, brothel and barrack, department store and guerilla-held territory. He has been used as a pendant and dipstick, as a scarecrow standing guard over the resting dead and the kneeling living; he has been used as torment and short rations: and once the hawkers of the blessed foreskins have rehabilitated sin as a commercial proposition, he will serve as a dildo. Poor old Mahomet and Buddha and Confucious... sad symbols of rival firms lacking in push and imagination... Jesus outbids them on every front [although Mahomet is becoming more rigorous competition]. Jesus Christ... superdrug and superstar... all the images of the man who sold out to God, caught up in the hard sell of the Godhead.
Symptoms of the System’s Meltdown
“The Meek Shall Inherit Nothing”
January 1, Kifissia, Greece: Pig Killed Outside British Envoy’s Home
An armed Greek cop was shot dead as he stood guard at the home of Britain’s top military envoy in that country, Col. Mark Blatherwick, who was at home during the pre-dawn attack. Four years ago, Blatherwick’s predecessor Brig. Stephen Saunders was gunned down as he was driving to work from Kifissia. The motive for this latest attack is listed as “unclear”.
January 5, Seattle, Washington:
Police Chief Gil Kerlikowske reported his Glock 9mm semiautomatic service pistol as stolen. The gun was in his department vehicle which was parked downtown. The gun was not in plain view and nothing else appeared to have been taken. Officer Debra Brown considers it an embarrassment, “but officers can certainly be burglarized and have their weapons stolen. It happens.”
January 10, Hoorn, Netherlands:
Thieves successfully bypassed the Westfries Museum’s security system to nab 15-20 17th century Dutch paintings and a “substantial portion” of the 124-year old silver collection, a $13 million heist.
January 11, Pensacola, FL:
Two students attacked the Brownsville Academy of Arts and Sciences, resulting in the school closing for 2 days. The destruction included extensive vandalism, theft, and arson, costing more than $500,000. Sadly, the two students were later caught.
January 13, Mona Shores, Michigan: Student Steals Joy Ride
An 11-year old boy went on a school bus driving spree, leaving a trail of smashed mailboxes and broken telephone poles behind. The boy had left the bus at the ‘wrong’ bus stop and when the driver and aide chased him he dashed back into the bus. He, and a second student remaining on board, proceeded to take the two-mile spin. He faces school disciplinary action, but is not expected to face criminal charges.
January 23, Waterbury, Connecticut: Open the Floodgates!
Investigators are trying to determine if the fire hose valve on the fourth floor of City Hall was opened intentionally. The building houses offices for the Tax Collector and Twin Clerk. The resulting flood caused sufficient damage to require the building to be closed for cleanup and repairs.
Late January, Augusta, Georgia: The Bomb Threats Continue
More than a dozen bomb threats have been made at Glen Hills Middle School since the schoolyear began. There were seven during the week of January 10th alone. Three people had been arrested previously, but the calls continue. Police say the callers sound young and “use tricks” to avoid being caught.
Early February, Tucson, Arizona:
U.S. agents patrolling the Arizona-Mexico border have been assaulted 80 times since October 1. Nine of the incidents involve shootings, according to the agency’s reports.
February 10, Florida: Suspected Cop Killer Captured
A man accused of killing one sheriffs deputy and wounding two others was captured in the Ocala National Forest after a day-long search involving hundreds of law enforcement officers. Jason L. Wheeler, 29, was wounded in the gunfight. Wheeler had reportedly ambushed three pigs outside his home.
February 10, United Kingdom: Police Radio Mast Pulled Off Base
A controversial emergency communications mast in a Cornwall village has been vandalized. Police said a rope was attached to the mast in Mawnan Smith, near Falmouth, and it was then pulled over. The incident was described as a “deliberate act” and police said the person responsible must have unscrewed bolts before dragging it off its base. Masts are being put up across Devon and Cornwall as part of the force’s new digital Airwave radio system.
February 11, Quincy, Massachusetts: Discovery of Fake Grenade Closes High School
Quincy High School was evacuated when authorities found a replica of a World War Two-era grenade under a stairwell. The device was not explosive, but the state police bomb squad was called in and students were sent home as a precaution. Earlier in the week, a threatening note was found scrawled on the wall of a boy’s bathroom at the school. Later on that same day, a small fire was set in a trashcan in the same bathroom.
February 14, New Zealand: $20 Million Arson Damage at Schools in Past Five Years
Principals are calling for tighter security after it was revealed arsonists had caused nearly $20 million damage in the past five years. Almost 300 schools have been affected by fires believed to have been deliberately lit, with damage running into the thousands of dollars every time. Hamilton’s Fraser High School faced a $3 million bill after arsonists torched the new gym in 2001. And 25 others have been left with damage of more than $100,000. Education Ministry figures show 446 school pupils were expelled or suspended for arsons between 2001 and 2003. Education Ministry property manager Brian Mitchell said arson was a fact of life for schools.
February 15: War of the Worlds Website Hacked
Steven Spielberg’s next big-budget epic has been hit by a website defacement. A Brazilian hacking team replaced the front page of the War of the Worlds promotional website with their own slogan “no fate, un-root”. A Brazilian hacking community known as “Simiens Crew” has attacked a number of sites this year, exploiting vulnerabilities in PHP and Advanced Web Statistics (Awstats), but defacing the War of the Worlds site is a step up in profile. Mikko Hypponen, director of anti-virus research at Finnish outfit F-Secure suggested their efforts were “more interesting than the average web graffiti. Mainly because this one hits a really high-profile website; the official home page of one of the biggest movies of the year”.
February 21, Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania: Attacker with Chain Saw Shot by Police
Police killed William Henkle when they pumped at least thirteen bullets into him. 40-year old Henkle reportedly ignored pepper spray and cops’ commands and allegedly attacked a state trooper with a chain saw. Trooper Michael Hartzel, treated for minor injuries on his shoulder, lower back, and buttocks, was one of the cops who surrounded Henkle before they opened fire and riddled his body with bullets.
February 27, Frankfort, Kentucky:
Vandals broke into the state Republican headquarters during the night, wrecked an office and stole a computer server, state party Chairman John McCarthy said. The office has an alarm system, but it was not triggered during the raid. McCarthy said the vandals opened a safe and a lock-box, and stole some computer keypads and a server containing financial information about the estimated 37,000 party donors. McCarthy said most of the information on the server was public record. But McCarthy believed the server also had a list of email addresses and phone numbers that were not public records. McCarthy said the office was also burglarized six weeks prior. The vandals were not caught.
March 1, Sydney, Australia: Bomb Explodes Near Pig Station During Four Nights of Rioting
Four youths were being questioned after two homemade chlorine bombs were thrown at a police van parked outside a station during a four-night riot. Witnesses said they saw two boys aged about 12 approaching the van on bikes before throwing the soft-drink containers filled with the chemical mix. “It was a chlorine bomb - you could smell it,” said a resident. “A couple of kids were going to put them under the truck when someone yelled out ‘oi’ and they pegged them. The police ended up catching them.” Only one exploded and police removed the other unexploded bottle, which lay under the front wheel.
The rioting occurred in Macquarie Fields, a large public housing project on Sydney’s south-western fringe. The riots, during which police were pelted with molotov cocktails, garbage cans, shopping carts, bricks, and rocks, were sparked by the deaths of two teenagers, killed when the stolen car they were in hit a tree while they were being chased by police.
New South Wales Police Minister Carl Scully says the situation is intolerable. “We will not allow this sort of behaviour in a modern civilised society,” he said. Police Commissioner Ken Moroney was appalled by graffiti in the area: “Police will die” was scrawled large on one wall, along with “We know who the real criminals are. We just want justice”, “Police will die”, “Cops kill kids”, and “We will kill you dogs”. “I’ve been a police officer for 40 years and have never seen these sorts of slogans written on walls at any time in this state,” he told reporters.“That’s disturbing in itself.
“Tell the police... to back off,” local resident Barbara said. “I think that’s what they’re saying.”
March 4, Mayerthorpe, Alberta: Four Royal Canadian Mounties Dead!
Police scoured a western Canadian farm for clues into how four Mounties were shot to death in one of the national force’s largest bloodbaths. The pigs, all members of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, were gunned down during a raid at an illegal marijuana growing operation 90 miles northwest of Edmonton. The suspect, identified as Jim Roszko, 46, was killed in the shoot-out. Such police killings are rare in Canada, which unfortunately has strict gun controls.
Early March, Makurdi, Nigeria:
Thousands of anti-police rioters took to the streets after a bus driver was shot and killed by police, for refusing to pay them a 14 cent bribe. Rioters burned down two police stations and a number of luxury cars.
March 14, Magdalena Tequisistlan, Mexico:
An Oaxaca cop who murdered a taxi-driver in a bar brawl, was thrown out of a third story window, and then burned by a vengeful mob. Two similar incidents occurred in Mexico last November where police are seen as inept and corrupt and people say they must take security into their own hands.
March 15th, Selma, Oregon: Pay Phone Booth Vanishes
A thief evidently used a vehicle to pullout a Central Telephone Booth on the 18300 block of Redwood Highway, getting away with $2300 in equipment and $100 in coins.
March 16, Hamilton, Australia: Lonely Dwarf Plays with Fire
Shane Reid’s fascination with fire caused nearly half a million dollars of damage. The Hamilton dwarf turned to living at night among the lights of emergency services to escape a lifetime of teasing and ridicule. Fixated by fire, Reid would stand at a distance and watch his firefighting heroes douse his flames. Recently, the 27-year-old was found guilty of last year‘s arsons at Cambridge High School and Forest Lake Primary School.
Since arriving in Hamilton at 18, he has lived his life in darkness, his day starting about 10pm, when he would wander the streets spending time in police or fire stations asking questions or chasing fire engines. “He’s very knowledgeable. He knows all the firetrucks and the equipment they use” a local pig said. “Reid liked the thrill of watching his handiwork and outsmarting the police”, he added. He often discussed the fires with his caregiver, asking about fires – the best way to light them, what accelerants to use.
March 17th, Moscow, Russia: Electric Monopoly Head Survives Attack
Anatoly Chubais was on his way to work in an armored limousine from his country house in an elite area west of Moscow when a bomb exploded near the vehicle. After the blast, his driver sped off and two attackers in combat fatigues sprayed the fleeing BMW with automatic weapon fire before fleeing into a nearby forest. Chubais, 49, is the controversial head of the state-controlled electricity monopoly, Unified Energy Systems. It is unknown whether the attack was politically motivated or a response to his plans to divide and privatize the world’s largest power grid. The assailants briefly exchanged fire with security guards following in another vehicle before escaping into a nearby forest.
March 23, St Louis, Missouri: Science Center Vandalized
An Omnimax movie called “Fighter Pilot: Operation Red Flag” inspired the ire of vandals who splashed red paint and scrawled anti-war slogans on the St. Louis Science Center walls and the only poster advertising the film. About $4,000 in damage was estimated. The movie is about Boeing’s F-15 Eagle fighter jets training at Nellis Air Force Base near Las Vegas, Nevada.
April 7, St Louis, Missouri: Five Cop Cars Get Windows Smashed
Four marked St. Louis Police cars and a marked Airport Police car had their windows smashed while parked outside their homes. The driver’s side window in each vehicle was broken, one with a brick, the others with a pellet gun, authorities said. St Louis pigs have been the recent focus of tire-slashings and anti-pig graffiti (including “smash a cop car for Jesus”), according to reports.
April 23, Aztec, New Mexico: Phone Hackers Hit Courthouse
The San Juan County Courthouse phone system was hacked and pirates were able to extract long distance codes. The problem was not apparent until potential jurors began using the court’s office number instead of the toll-free number, which was always busy. Over 4,000 overseas calls were made in the interim.
April 26, Bridgeville, Pennsylvania:
The tires on 17 of 60 Chartiers Valley School District buses were flattened by cutting the tire stems. 3,400 students had a temporary reprieve when classes were canceled.
Any Day Now, Everywhere, World: Cell Phone Virus Epidemic
“By 2006, cell phone viruses will be what viruses are on the Internet in 2004”, according to John Pescatore, an analyst with technology research firm, Gartner. A rash of viruses hit the cell phone networks last year, including the Cabir virus that drains the batteries by constantly sending transmissions to nearby phones, even if they are not in use. Another virus was spread through cell phone marketing websites. A third virus disguises itself as a game user’s download, replacing the phones’ screens with a skull and crossbones. Cell phones are being designed and used like computers, but these ‘smart phones’ have not received the attention of security programs their personal computer counterparts have. Some industry security analysts suspect these early viruses are field-tests meant to refine those likely to be the most destructive. Smartphone users can connect to the Internet, use email, and download new music, games, and graphics to ‘enhance’ their phone experience. The scale of attacks is unclear as the federally funded CERT Coordination Center at Carnegie Mellon University, which monitors Internet viruses and worms, does not separate computer and cell phone incident reports. There are over 170 million cell phones in use in the U.S. alone, compared to 116 million computers. Users’ phone books, bank account information, and other personal identification data is vulnerable.
Overcoming the Psychology of High School, by Wild Youth
Every high-school student and anyone who has ever attended high school is intimately familiar with the psychology of high school. In point of fact, the psychology of high school is the pathology of commodity-society and thus it is not enough to say that everyone is well acquainted with the psycho-malaise of high school, but rather this institutional psycho-malaise is the psychology of individuals themselves. Of course this should come as no surprise considering that the principal function of school is widely accepted – amongst revolutionaries at least – as being the reproduction of the social relations of capital. What is surprising is the dearth of rigorous, specific and revolutionary critiques of high school. Apart from Ivan Illich’s seminal polemic Deschooling Society, little attention has been paid to the elaborate workings of school. It is totally inadequate for our critique of high school to be a mere appendage on a position paper consisting of a few anti-authoritarian platitudes (we oppose authority so we naturally reject conventional schooling). The many deleterious facets of high school must be analysed in full and their instrumental role in capital’s domestication of humanity elucidated.
Because high school acts as capital’s incubator, some of the dominations and contradictions inherent in capital naturally appear in an analogous form within high school, while some couldn’t be said to appear at all. But those that do manifest do so in a way endemic to high school and thus should be treated specifically. I hope to briefly illuminate those that I have come to recognise and which collectively constitute the psychology of high school as personally experienced. I also hope to open up discourse on the subject and stimulate further critical analyses of high school by high school students themselves. We can only overcome the psychology of high school if we understand its processes and how we have been conditioned thus far.
The Perversion of Desire
It is self-evident that high school – as one of the institutions of capital – seeks to transform individuals into productive automatons. How it does this isn’t quite as clear. Sure, the same manipulative techniques are used as elsewhere in the spectacle, but what does this look like exactly and how does it feel? The high school student’s desire to explore and experiment with the world of knowledge – if it has survived years of previous schooling – is brutally perverted to serve the interests of industrial society. High school falsely satisfies this desire by offering a clockwork-like sequence of curricular consumption and measured performance with the ostensible purpose of education and development. In the face of this overwhelming normality, the high school student abandons all dreams of passionate inquiry, creative trial and error and ever-expanding learning experiences. Some will never even notice this happening. For others this resignation is a tragically conscious decision that must be made if they are to ever feel happy and successful. Once the high school student embraces externally dictated education, she becomes in fact nothing more than a high school student whose primary concern is fulfilling her role par excellence. Once this process is complete the high school student is ready for the externally dictated activity of the world of work.
The educational guise of high school can scarcely conceal the true nature of this formidable institution. At every stage, the high school student questions the necessity of some protocol, some formality to the overall success of their education. As soon as the illusion is torn down and high school is seen in its true functional light – a method of determining another wage slave’s position in the work pyramid – the need for its vast bureaucratic modus operandi will become apparent. High school students are spot on when they declare that examinations and year-round assessments have nothing to do with education. For the pathological evaluation and measurement of the high school student’s performance does not facilitate their education but rather acclimates them to the logic of civilization: that creative activity, the pursuit of knowledge, personal growth and even life its self must be quantified, analysed and reduced to some abstract form. We cannot even begin to discuss the impact this has on both the spirit and the psyche of the high school student. The anxiety, guilt and helplessness evoked by being constantly assessed and compared to the alienated activity of others brings the high school student to the brink of suicidal desperation. Well-accustomed to the unending pursuit of higher and higher grades, those who emerge from high school seemingly unscathed are well and truly desensitised to civilization’s fixation with greater and greater value.
Before the high school student is alienated in the sphere of production – for he has long been alienated in the sphere of social consumption – she is alienated in the sphere of instruction. The alienated activity of the high school student does not produce a tangible commodity, thus no surplus value is created and consequently exploitation in the traditional sense does not occur. Nevertheless, the form and content of his/her schooling is determined by an institution and their experiences therein are reified. The daily activity of the individual high school student bears no distinction from their peers who all regard their movements as mere “school work”. They exercise no control over the form and content of their instruction and so what little they do achieve becomes the achievement of an institution, as it was an institution that presided over the entire experience from beginning to end. Education really does become something other and this explains the visceral contempt and disinterest many students feel towards high school. Like all alienation, the high school student feels self-worth insofar as she participates and excels in the institution that surrounds him. When the high school student begins to fall behind his classmates in the competitive consumption of curricula, she succumbs to the castigation of teachers and parents and internalizes the constraint. He/she has now learnt to feel satisfaction only when an inhuman institution applauds his/her output.
The fragmentation of daily experience and social activity outside of high school is a firmly ensconced public secret. How this manifests for the high school student is particularly noxious. Accelerating what started as soon as she entered the schoolyard as a child, the high school student’s world is violently divided in two: the educational and the non-educational. What little learning is done within high school assumes far greater importance – a predictable result when the high school student’s spectacular role is contingent on their high school success – than that which is not. This incredibly limiting dualism tears apart what is naturally a holistic experience and depreciates learning done outside of school. So much so that the high school student forgets how to learn without being taught and/or fails to recognise and appreciate edifying experiences outside the walls of high school. The inverse of this fragmentation is that there is now a specific time and place for those experiences that are not considered to be educational. Hence the high school student relegates partying, art, music, property damage and other joyous activities to weekends and holidays alone. Here the high school student is seduced by the temporality of the spectacle and the compartmentalization of her time really gets going. I have only looked at a few aspects of what really is a multifaceted microcosm of alienation. We must theorize further if we are to thoroughly understand the psychology of high school and how to liberate ourselves from it’s crippling grips. It is equally as important for us to test our theory through practice. By playing around with different methods of subversion we can discover the weak spots in our theory and the institution it seeks to destroy. We also have to heal the spiritual and psychological lesions that high school has inflicted upon us and there is no better self-therapy than joyous revolt.
State Repression and Political Prisoner News
Well, the rifleman’s stalking the sick and the lame
Preacherman seeks the same, who’ll get there first is uncertain
Nightsticks and water cannons, tear gas, padlocks
Molotov cocktails and rocks behind every curtain
False-hearted judges dying in the webs that they spin
Only a matter of time ‘til the night comes stepping in.
Jokerman dance to the nightingale tune
Bird fly high by the light of the moon
Oh, oh, oh, Jokerman.
–Bob Dylan, Jokerman
Infamous Idaho Outlaw Released
Idaho’s most infamous outlaw, Claude Dallas, killed two state Fish and Game wardens in a remote desert 24 years ago, an act that brought him notoriety as a modern-day mountain man at odds with the government. Now, 54-years-old and bespectacled, Dallas is being released from prison after serving nearly 22 years for the execution-style slayings of Conley Elms and Bill Pogue, officers for the Idaho Department of Fish and Game. The case has been among the most politically polarizing in Idaho history, with some expressing “disgust” at how Dallas has gained a measure of folk-hero status among those who rally against the establishment.
Dallas was convicted of manslaughter in 1982 for shooting the Fish and Game cops, who had entered his winter camp on the South Fork of the Owyhee River, one of the West’s least-populated regions, to investigate reports of illegal trapping. According to evidence at the trial, Pogue, who had drawn his own weapon, was hit first with a shot from Dallas’ handgun. Dallas then shot Elms two times in the chest as the warden emerged from the trappers tent, where he’d found poached wildlife. Dallas then used a rifle to fire one more round into each cop’s head. A sympathetic jury acquitted Dallas on all murder charges and only reluctantly convicted him on two counts of manslaughter, saying that he might have been freed outright if he hadn’t used his .22 caliber rifle. Dallas’ 1986 jailbreak (he was on the loose for over a year before being recaptured) only heightened the legend perpetuated by his admirers; that he was a rugged survivalist at war with a heavy-handed U.S. government.
Will County, Illinois: Prison Charging Inmates for ‘Services’
Will County officials are considering a $6-58 charge per inmate per night for “three daily meals, lodging, security, and healthcare”. Under this new program, convicts would be charged according to the sentencing judge’s guidelines and payment in full would be due within 90 days of release. The county jail is consistently overcrowded but a $50 million annex project is being launched this spring, adding nearly 700 more beds to the county’s incarceration business. The current cost of incarceration is estimated at $87 per night, with the new building it could goup to $180. Lobbyist and former state senator William Mahar will be pushing state senators to draft a bill to allow Will County, and perhaps the other 101 counties in Illinois to begin charging inmates. A truly ominous sign of the times...
The Spectacle Sells “Prison Experience” As Entertainment in Thailand
The managers of social misery are taking their degradation of our lives a step further with the development of a new “Reality TV” show starring the most involuntary of all non-actors: actual prisoners! A maximum-security prison outside Bangkok is planning to broadcast—as “entertainment”—the daily lives of prisoners, including their last moments before execution. This will also be an Internet broadcast that Thai prison officials think will be “an extremely effective deterrent to potential lawbreakers”.
Britain Boosts Anti-Terrorism Resources
British Home Secretary David Blunkett announced $160 million in new funding for security and readiness in 2005. The money is earmarked for police anti-terrorism units, chemical, biological, and radiological protective gear for police, and communication equipment for emergency workers, including a new radio system. Some of the money will also go to biometric technologies to identify people with scans of the eyes and faces. This is in addition to the 1,000 new intelligence experts added to the spy agency MI5. MI5, the head of Britain’s domestic security service, complains of big gaps in Britain’s infrastructural defences—such as the group of protesters who climbed Parliament’s famous Big Ben clock tower in March 2004. MI5 recently warned officials that western societies are only “4 meals away from anarchy” where the “law of the jungle” would take over and citizens would resort to looting or violence to find food in the event of a breakdown in civilized order. Strikes, natural disasters, attacks on strategic installations, power stations, and computer systems are cited as possible threats.
This focus on the domesticated food chain has experts discussing the psychological changes that might occur in people if food was not readily available, prompting them to take matters into their own hands. The government does not rule out the possibility of police and/or army securing supermarkets and other food sources in the event of an emergency.
Brendan Walsh Sentenced to Five-Years for Molotov Attack
Brendan Walsh of Endwell, PA, who acted in opposition to the war in Iraq, will spend the next five years in federal prison for throwing a Molotov cocktail through the window of a local armed forces recruiting station in Vestal, NY, near Binghamton. After serving 5 years behind bars, Walsh will be supervised for 3 years. He was recently sentenced in Federal Court. Walsh had pleaded guilty to a charge of attempting to damage or destroy a building by arson. He was also charged with attempted destruction of communication lines utilized by the U.S. Armed Forces, which carried a maximum sentence of 10 years. Detectives say Broome Security’s work with surveillance video was crucial in their investigation.
Brendan can be contacted at:
Brendan Walsh #12473-052, FCI Allenwood Low, Federal Correctional Institution. PO BOX 1000, White Deer, PA 17887.
New Jersey Man Arrested For Arson of McDonald’s in Seattle
On March 7, a 22-year-old New Jersey man with possible ties to the Earth Liberation Front and Animal Liberation Front was charged in U.S. District Court in connection with a fire set on the roof of a McDonald’s near Seattle, Washington’s Space Needle. Christopher McIntosh is accused of setting the fire on January 20, 2003, and leaving a message on a Seattle arson tip phone-line saying, ”There was an E-L-F A-L-F hit at McDonald’s across from the Space Needle.”
An agent from the FBI’s “domestic terrorism” squad claims to have identified McIntosh using evidence left at the scene, including fingerprints on a spray-paint can. In a preliminary hearing Chris McIntosh has been charged with Animal Enterprise Terrorism in conjunction with the alleged arson. He’s now facing over 30 years. He is currently in the ‘hole’ awaiting his trial date. Anonymous donations of check, money order or well-concealed cash can be sent to: Chris McIntosh Support Fund, PO BOX 8943, Collingswood, NJ 08108.
He can be contacted at: Christopher McIntosh 30512-013, FDC SeaTac, Federal Detention Center, PO BOX 13900, Seattle, WA 98198.
Underground Animal Liberationist Peter Young Caught
On March 21, Peter Young was captured in California. For those unfamiliar with his case, Peter has been a fugitive since 1998 after being indicted on charges of violating the “Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act” – stemming from a series of 1997 mink liberations in Wisconsin. The circumstances surrounding his recent arrest are unknown, but he faces several serious charges as a captured “fugitive.”
Despite an enormous outpouring of support from the activist community, on August 30, 2000, Justin Samuel (Young’s co-defendant) entered into a plea agreement with the U.S. Attorney’s office in which he implicated Peter and promised to “make a full, complete, truthful statement regarding his involvement in violations of federal criminal statutes charged in the original Indictment, as well as the involvement of all other individuals known to him regarding the crimes charged in that Indictment. And the defendant agreed to testify fully and truthfully at any trials or hearings.” Samuel eventually served two years in prison and is now free and living in San Diego. Despite his repeated efforts to reintegrate himself into the animal rights movement, most activists and organizations have shunned him as an untrustworthy individual, a scumbag, and a snitch.
A good attorney is essential for Peter, but thousands of dollars are needed to make this happen. Donations can be made payable to “Peter Young Support Fund” and sent to: Peter Young Support Fund, 740A 14thSt. #237, San Francisco, CA 94114.
The website: www.SupportPeter.com will have regular updates and indicate how people can help. All information and questions can now be directed to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Spanish Anarchist Xose Tarrio Dies In Prison Hospital
In early April, we received sad news about the death of our libertarian comrade Xosé Tarrío. After many months in a coma at a hospital in Coruna, Xosé is finally free, no more prison, no more torture, no further humiliations. Left for us is his immensely humane story, full of successes and mistakes; left for us is one person’s dignity, a weather-beaten human face of the fight for life in a prison hell. Doctors said that Xosé was ill, and we say that this society is ill; he did not die, he was murdered. Today it was him, tomorrow somebody else, and like this every day. We can’t do anything else for him but keep his ideas in our hearts and actions, elbow against elbow and fist against fist, until we demolish the prison walls. This will be our homage.
Francesco Gioia Captured, Revolutionary Offensive Cells Trial to Begin
On May 11, Italian and Spanish antiterrorism police arrested Francesco Gioia in Barcelona, Spain. In July, Francesco had been placed under house arrest and “caution custody” in Pisa, Italy, following a round of raids and arrests against eco-anarchists and radicals in the region. On August 7, 2004, facing the threat of imprisonment, Francesco went on the run. Unfortunately, he has been re-apprehended. Italian authorities are now pushing for his extradition. In Pisa, Italy, the 2004 campaign of repression began when the “Via del Cuore” space was raided and five were arrested on June 7. This space is associated with the eco-anarchist group Il Silvestre and their journal Terra Selvaggia. An original communiqué from the Revolutionary Offensive Cells (COR) was apparently discovered during this raid. The COR is a Marxist group responsible for a string of attacks against the political establishment, most of these carried out with incendiary devices. The following week, another comrade was arrested. More raids against ten houses followed on July 30. Three other individuals were arrested, two being accused of preparing and using firebombs, the third of conspiracy. Attempts have been made to explicitly link these individuals to the COR. Both Alessio Perondi, arrested on June 7 and accused of involvement in an attack, and William Frediani, arrested July 30, are still currently imprisoned in Italy.
The Italian state’s attempts to create fantastic links between the Marxist COR and anarchists clearly demonstrate how far those in power will go to remove any threat to their rule. The preliminary hearings for those accused of “subversive association” in relation to COR actions have been scheduled for late Spring/early Summer.
Contact the prisoners:
William Frediani, Casa di Reclusione, Via Maiano 10, 06049 Spoleto (PG), Italy.
Francesco Gioia, Modulo VII, Ctra. Comarcal 611, km. 37,6; 28770 Soto del Real, Madrid, Spain
Alessio Perondi, Via Pianezza 300, 10151 Torino, Italy.
Contact Il Silvestre:
Il Silvestre, via del Cuore 1, 56 127 Pisa, Italy.
For more info, see: www.spiritoffreedom.org.uk
Anarchist Rebels in Italy Arrested, Immigrants Killed
On May 12, five anarchists from Lecce: Annalisa Capone, Angela Marina Ferrari (Marina), Cristian Palladini, Salvatore Signore, and Saverio Pellegrino, were arrested as part of yet another investigation for “subversive association with the intention of terrorism”. Anarchist homes and spaces throughout Italy were searched. The occupied space Capolinea in Lecce was closed and subjected to judiciary seizure. Anarchists have been raising constant and uncompromising opposition to the concentration camps that the language of the state calls “Centers of Temporary Residence” (CPTs), whose director, Father Cesare Lodeserto, was arrested with charges of private violence and kidnapping. Now that various locked-up immigrants (whose only crime is that they are poor and don’t have their papers in order) have begun to rebel, the voices of those who expose the concentration camp system are shut up. They are accused of a series of attacks against the property of the managers and financiers of the CPT, those who get rich from the slaughter of the Iraqi population (Esso), and the dislocation of the Mapuche (Benneton).
While these comrades get arrested, in a single day, the police in Turin evict a nomad camp, kill a Senegalese man in cold blood at a roadblock, cause the death of another immigrant who tries to getaway from a police sweep. For weeks the inmates of via Corelli in Milan have been on hunger strike. They protest on the roof. They cry out their desire for freedom. Meanwhile hundreds of refugees are locked up in “welcome centers” from which they try at all costs to escape.
FBI Interviews “Citizen Informant” (Snitch), Parent, and Suspect; Four Arrested in Sacramento Area Fires
The Feds have taken quite an interest in the recent surge of actions occurring in the Sacramento area, including the incendiary devises and graffiti found in three houses on a construction site on December 27 in Lincoln, five incendiary devices found in a commercial building under construction in Auburn on January 12, and the “Emma Goldman” communiqué claiming responsibility for both actions (see “Ecological Resistance” section for more details). According to an affidavit by Angela Y. Armstrong, Special Agent of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, assigned to the Domestic Terrorism squad for the Sacramento Division investigating a series of three interrelated arsons that are believed to have been committed by members of the Earth Liberation Front, some people have been talking...
According to the affidavit [infuse some skepticism]: On January 13, a “citizen informant” had a conversation with Greg Lewis, the father of Ryan Lewis. During that conversation, Lewis opined to the informant that he thought his son, Ryan Lewis, was involved in the arson attempt in Auburn, the previous day...because of Ryan’s political views, because his pickup truck was missing the night of the arson, and because he found red diesel in the bed of the truck the next day.
On February 8, agents interviewed Greg Lewis. During that interview, Lewis stated that he believed his son was involved in the attempted arson, repeating the above stated facts, also stating that, because he was a general contractor, he had all the components of the Auburn and Lincoln attempted arsons except for the red diesel, gasoline and flares. The interview took place in the shed on Lewis’ property. At the conclusion of the interview, Agents observed a skateboard that Greg Lewis identified as belonging to his son, Ryan Lewis. Agents observed writings on the skateboard including the words and phrases, “crimethinc”, “art as terrorism”, “this means war”, “the trigger has been pulled”, and “you will find your only safety is in danger.” Greg Lewis also stated on February 7 and 8, that he observed in the back of Ryan’s Subaru, black plastic bags containing empty one gallon plastic milk jugs and other empty plastic containers.
On February 8, Ryan Lewis was interviewed by FBI/JTTF Agents. After initially denying any knowledge of the arson attempts, Ryan Lewis [supposedly] admitted to transporting to the Auburn arson scene components of the incendiary devices, knowing that they would be used to commit an arson. These components included six five-gallon buckets containing a mixture of red diesel and gasoline. Ryan Lewis also [supposedly] admitted to having stolen the red diesel fuel from four construction sites in the Auburn area. He also [supposedly] admitted to knowing and being in contact with the individuals who committed the attempted arsons prior to the arsons. Ryan claimed that he did not have any involvement with the Lincoln arson attempt and that he does not know the identity of the persons who committed that crime or who used his components to commit the Auburn attempted arson. He [supposedly] claimed that following the Lincoln arson attempt, he communicated with the perpetrators of that crime who directed him to deliver the components to the Auburn location. Ryan Lewis acknowledged being aware that Emma Goldman was an eminent anarchist. He was asked about the word, “Crimethinc.” written on his skateboard and he acknowledged that he agreed with the philosophy expressed by Crimethinc.
Based on this sworn statement, and Ryan’s [supposed] indication that he did not act alone, the case has quickly opened up for the state. Jeremiah Colcleasure, 24, Eva R. Holland, 25, and Lili M. Holland, 20, are the most recent individuals to be arrested in connection with a series of attempted arsons. On March 10, a federal grand jury indicted the four. In the State’s mind, social and political motivations elevate common crimes such as arson to the level of terrorism. The indictment adds allegations against Ryan Lewis and Eva Holland, who previously had each been charged in only one of the three incidents targeting an upscale Lincoln subdivision, an Auburn office building, and a Sutter Creek apartment complex, all under construction east of Sacramento. Lewis is now charged in all three attacks. Holland now also is charged in that incident. She previously was charged in an attempt to burn down two unoccupied Lincoln homes early Christmas Day, where similar incendiary devices also failed. Also previously charged in that incident, and now indicted, are her sister, Lili Holland, and Jeremiah Colcleasure. Colcleasure and Lili Holland allegedly told investigators that they, along with Lewis and Eva Holland, planted homemade incendiary devices at two of the Lincoln homes. Colcleasure allegedly said the four set out in Lewis’ station wagon after a Christmas Eve party at the Holland sisters’ home. Lili Holland allegedly said Lewis had the accelerant and timers and organized the attempted firebombing. A conspiracy charge against the four alleges their joint activities spanned the period from Christmas Eve through the Auburn attack. Lewis also was indicted in the only successful firebombing, Feb. 7 at the Sutter Creek apartments, which sustained an estimated $50,000 in damage. All four are charged with conspiracy to commit arson and two counts of attempted arson.
This is all very alarming information, and raises some huge questions about not only Lewis and his co-conspirators, but also the unsettling recent undercurrent of cowardice, snitchery, and cooperation with the State, not to mention a slew of bad security that could cost these people a large portion of their lives.
Prisoner Uprisings and Escapes
“The culture of a thousand years is shattered with the clanging of the cell door behind you. Life outside, behind you, immediately becomes unreal. You begin not to care that it exists. All you have with you in the cell is your bare animal instincts… You sit on your cold steel mattressless bunk and watch a cockroach crawl out from under the filthy commode, and you don’t kill it. You envy the roach as you watch it crawl out under the cell door.”
– Johnny Cash, liner notes from At Folsom Prison
January 1, Trenton, New Jersey: New Year’s Day Ruckus
Dozens of inmates in a unit of Bayside State Prison attacked guards on New Year’s Day with broom and mop handles, an iron, and padlocks. The skirmish, involving four inmates at the medium security prison, began as a guard was about to pat down an inmate who had smuggled food out of a dining area. The inmate turned, swore at him and punched him in the face. The guard said they continued to fight until he had subdued the inmate, but he called out, “Bloods out, rat-a-tat, Bloods out,” an apparent reference to members of the Bloods street gang. Inmates and guards fought for the next 20 minutes, resulting in injuries to 29 guards. Injuries included chipped vertebrae, pinched nerves, knee problems and memory loss. While some inmates – perhaps four to six – fought continuously, an undetermined number of others would come from behind, hit guards a few times, then retreat into the crowd of inmates standing around, the guards said. “This was a planned assault by the inmates to take control of the unit,” said Lt. Daniel Habeck, who was in charge of the area at the time of the uprising.
February 2, Sneads, Florida: Guard Shanked!
One guard was stabbed and 11 others beaten during a riot at Apalachee Correctional Institution that began when an attempt was made to seize a prisoner’s homemade knife in the recreation yard. The brawl began when a prisoner told a guard he was afraid another prisoner might try to attack him with a shank, Department of Corrections spokesman Sterling Ivey said. Nakia Huggins was brought to the guards and asked about the knife. He punched one guard and began running. He was quickly isolated between two fences when he began waving the shank at two guards, one of whom was stabbed as he grabbed Huggins from behind. Meanwhile additional guards were sent into the recreation area, where some of the 200 prisoners began attacking them while others shouted encouragement. It took an hour to restore calm, Ivey said.
February 11, Buenos Aires, Argentina:
A riot in a central Argentina prison holding 2,000 inmates left at least three inmates dead, two injured, and two members of the security detail seriously injured. Two dozen guards were taken hostage by inmates wielding homemade knives, while others hurled rocks at police hiding behind plastic shields.
February 12, California: Top-Security Pelican Bay Under State of Emergency
A sophisticated plan to kill three guards was uncovered along with homemade knives and other weapons “typically found in prison,” according to Lt. Perez, spokesman for the prison. The plot was to be carried out with simultaneous actions, at a specific time, on a particular yard. The state of emergency was called to allow officials to search all cells and interview 1,400 inmates. The prisoners will be kept isolated in their cells and all classes, outside time, and work are suspended for up to six weeks. Pelican Bay is known for its violence and even the UN called the facility “inhuman and degrading”.
February 16, Baku, Azerbaijan:
With temperatures outside dipping below zero, dozens of freezing, wet prisoners climbed off of the roof of their maximum security prison after they were sprayed by fire trucks to end a protest demanding better treatment. The local television station aired footage of the inmates coming down a ladder after enduring the low temperatures and the typically strong winds of the region for nearly 24 hours. Over 100 prisoners had climbed onto the roof, some holding flags that read “SOS” and “The warden is a blood-sucker,” and shouted demands that the warden of the facility known as “prison colony 11” be fired. Human rights groups have said prison conditions in this former Soviet republic are among the worst in the world, with endemic overcrowding and a soaring tuberculosis infection rate.
February 24, South Africa: Chaos On Highway As Prisoner Escapes
Two pigs were seriously injured when they were attacked by a prisoner they were transporting from Pretoria to Johannesburg. One cop was stabbed in the back and the prisoner then managed to wrest his firearm from him. He allegedly shot the other cop in the neck. The 30-year-old prisoner had a knife and somehow managed to remove his leg-irons while he was in the car. He then ran across the highway and disappeared. He was eventually re-arrested.
March 1, Manchester, England:
Neil Brennan, 21, serving six years for robbery, was liberated from guards at gunpoint, forcing them to unlock his handcuffs before he made off with two accomplices. Brennan was in a van taking him to a hospital for treatment to a minor injury when the vehicle was hijacked. The van had only just left and was at a road junction when a car pulled up in front of the vehicle. Two men got out and threatened the guards with a gun until they unlocked Brennan’s handcuffs.
March 26, Iraq: Tunnel Discovered at Camp Bucca
U.S. Military officials discovered a large escape tunnel at this detention center in southern Iraq. It was 12-16 feet underground and ran 600 feet from beneath the floorboards of a detainee tent to the far side of a berm, exterior to the camp.
April 8, Havana, Cuba:
Inmates at Combinado Este prison, the largest in Cuba, rioted for the second time in two weeks. Dozens have been injured from inhaling gases or from burns. A dozen were hurt in a similar March 19 uprising.
April 12, Des Moines, Iowa:
A prisoner escaped through a hole in a fence no bigger than a cereal box. Deputies said after 31-year-old Nick Briner escaped, he ran through an alley, and stole a pickup truck, driving through a half dozen towns, stealing a car in each place. He was unfortunately captured again in Keytesville, Mo.
A Matter of Life and Death, by (I)An-ok Ta Chai
Three friends of mine died this year. All three were somehow killed by Civilization (cancer, auto accident, and suicide resulting from a deep depression). I have never before had people close to me die, so this has thrown the subject of death right into my face.
Many people when confronted with the green anarchist approach reject it because they see it as implying massive numbers of deaths the world over. These people see our current inter-connected dependency on things such as modern agricultural, transportation and health care systems and they deduce that the collapse of Civilization would entail the imminent deaths of many millions of people as a result. These two examples, among others, have led me to reflect on death and Civilization, or conversely, on life and wildness.
It has been said before many times that death is a natural part of life. The moment we are born, we all have an expiration date, even though we do not usually know when that is. Everything dies, be it plants or animals, solar systems or microscopic organisms, or people - young and old alike. People have died suddenly and unexpectedly both before and inside of Civilization. Yet despite this, the fear of death very often hangs over us, consciously or unconsciously. We really really do not want to die, and we are willing to do pretty much anything to avoid it.
I believe that our fear of death locks us into slavery and solidifies Civilization itself. Fear of starvation and lack of shelter keeps us supporting commodity culture and wage slavery. Fear of disease keeps us supporting the alienating industrial medical system. Fear of murder and assault keeps us supporting police, prisons and militaries. Fear of death in an uncertain future keeps us supporting educational institutions. Fear of death at the hands of the State keeps us from rising up in revolt.
Fear of death is the only possible underlying explanation that I see for this. It can’t be the fear of suffering, for Civilization and Authority have unleashed a Hell-on-earth plethora of sufferings upon us already that we all experience regardless of our obedience. Death itself then stands as the mystery-shrouded bogeyman scaring us into compliance. And sadly enough, to our own credit, we have been so thoroughly indoctrinated, domesticated and blinded by fear that we often can not think of any other ways to survive even when we really want to!
So we find ourselves frantically rushing about going to work to get the money to pay the bills, jumping through the hoops on command to avoid the deadly punishments. In all our haste, we leave our souls behind. We become the living dead. Zombies, in a very real sense of the term - unaware of our own actions, cut off from really feeling our own pain, alienated from our own thoughts and feelings, mindlessly mouthing the mantras of everyone else around us. This speaks to the classic distinction between really “living” and just “surviving”.
Yet, there always remains at least a spark of life in each of us - a seed of hope. I believe that green anarchy is the most natural way of living in the world, and in order to live in the kind of harmony and connection with life that green anarchy speaks of, all life forms each have a fundamental and inherent drive towards autonomy, authenticity, cooperation and generalized self-actualization. We can beat down, repress, ignore and misdirect ourselves from this basic component of ourselves, but as long as we live, there always exists the potential for wildness and revolution. In order to really live the question then becomes - how do we nourish our inherent drive for anarchy and actualization? This is an enormous and important question to answer - and a question that I find is best answered when you look inside yourself and ask it of yourself with full honesty.
When somebody physically dies, we can then take this a number of different ways as well. Speaking for myself, my most empowering experience around death happened earlier this year, around two of those friends that I mentioned at the beginning of this article. These two people were a part of some local communities that really cared for them, and upon their deaths these communities spontaneously came together to address it. What was talked about was how these people, through their actions, contributed in their lives to the qualities of autonomy, awareness, connection, inspiration and other such things that anarchy thrives on, is based on. We also talked of where these people fell short of this. This latter part was an endeavor that was much harder for us to do, given the socialization that we all have in Civilization to “be polite” and “respect the dead”. Very importantly, we all spoke very openly about how we were each experiencing these deaths. All too often, when someone dies, the living and their experiences are put aside in order to praise the memory of the dead. This was not the case.
The standard way of dealing with death in our society I see as indicative of the “living death” prevalent in Civilization. The buying and selling of coffins, funeral home services, and burial plots, the standardized rituals and institutional roles, the masks and facades of being nice and polite, the inviting of everyone and anyone to the funeral, regardless of how disconnected or estranged they may have been from the person who died, in order to give it mass appeal - how is this any relief from the commodification, standardization, fakeness, and impersonal mass-nature of the society that surrounds us? This all contributes to fostering the image that Civilization is truly inescapable - that even in death we must relate in these unnatural ways.
So what of the possible deaths of millions that could be a part of the collapse of Civilization? How do we even begin to deal with such a catastrophe? It is very easy to de-personalize such a thing, especially when talking of a cataclysmic event of global proportions. To paraphrase Joseph Stalin, one person dying is a tragedy, a thousand people dying is a statistic.
I see it as being essential to always keep in mind that for each person dying, they too have friends, family, loved ones and people affected by them. The emotional, psychological and social impact and ramifications of these deaths can lead to changes and actions that are completely unpredictable, for better or worse. If we do not keep this in mind and take active precautions around it, I dread to think of where this could lead us. It is for this reason that I see two practices and developments as being needed. We need to learn how to mourn in a way that is meaningful and emotionally healing and we need to learn how to really deeply support each other and be there for each other.
Learning how to mourn is not just something that we’d use when some great tragedy happens to come across our lives. Every day, we come across news of some injustice that some government is perpetuating somewhere, some new species that has gone extinct because of industrial development, or some blatant lie being spread everywhere through the capitalist press. Or even in our own personal lives - simply walking down the street in a large city can be a cause for mourning - with its intense advertising, pollution, and social alienation. Or we can notice inside ourselves how our own souls are largely dead - how we too are very much domesticated and cut off from the flow of life. So learning how to really mourn is essential to life - otherwise we can be paralyzed by depression, defeated by hopelessness, drained by pessimism, or just simply overwhelmed by the sheer enormity of it all.
Supporting each other and being there for each other falls under the classic anarchist principles of “mutual aid” and “solidarity” - however my focus here is on an often overlooked realm where these principles can be applied, the emotional and psychological. Crucial to building community and communal cohesiveness, making free association work harmoniously, and enabling the individual to develop themselves as an autonomous being is finding ways to really be of support to one another in these sensitive and personal areas. This is by no means an easy task, since we are all trained to view and treat one another as alienated roles and static labels and not as autonomous individual people with all of the complexity, subtlety, and nuances that that entails. But I am convinced that it can be done, if only we can tap into that part of us which is most innate and natural - our feral selves. When we can do that, then I am
convinced that we would inevitably find that we are profoundly real and in alignment with all that is inside us, we will find that we are keenly aware of and attentive to those around us, and we will find that we are genuinely appreciative of the life existent in those around us. From all of this, we will find that we evolve into relationships that are genuinely supportive to others.
I can give polemics here about how Civilization and Authority kill far more than the collapse of Civilization ever could, how with every day that Civilization continues the number of people that would probably die as a result increases, and how Civilization is essentially based on death and destruction, but I won’t. I instead find it more empowering and personally meaningful to speak of the relationship dynamics and life processes of “life” and “death” both inside and outside of the context of Civilization. To consider what it truly means to be alive and not a zombie and to consider how we relate to death both before and after it happens is a radically subjective and at times intimately personal subject matter, I realize.
I can only hope that I have helped provide here some points of reference and inspiration for making your own personal exploration of these subjects out of the realm of the domesticated and into the wild.
Story of Isaac
by Leonard Cohen
The door it opened slowly,
my father he came in,
I was nine years old.
And he stood so tall above me,
his blue eyes they were shining
and his voice was very cold.
He said, “I’ve had a vision
and you know I’m strong and holy,
I must do what I’ve been told. ”
So he started up the mountain,
I was running, he was walking,
and his axe was made of gold.
Well, the trees they got much smaller,
the lake a lady’s mirror,
we stopped to drink some wine.
Then he threw the bottle over.
Broke a minute later
and he put his hand on mine.
Thought I saw an eagle
but it might have been a vulture,
I never could decide.
Then my father built an altar,
he looked once behind his shoulder,
he knew I would not hide.
You who build these altars now
to sacrifice these children,
you must not do it anymore.
A scheme is not a vision
and you never have been tempted
by a demon or a god.
You who stand above them now,
your hatchets blunt and bloody,
you were not there before,
when I lay upon a mountain
and my father’s hand was trembling
with the beauty of the Word.
And if you call me brother now,
forgive me if I inquire,
“Just according to whose plan?”
When it all comes down to dust
I will kill you if I must,
I will help you if I can.
When it all comes down to dust
I will help you if I must,
I will kill you if I can.
And mercy on our uniform,
man of peace or man of war,
the peacock spreads his fan.
WARNING: All reviews are the unrestrained (and at times, moody) opinions of various members of the Green Anarchy Collective, except where noted. Uh-oh!
Recipes for Disaster: An anarchist cookbook
by CrimethInc. Workers’ Collective
Recipes for Disaster, the new book by CrimethInc. is advertised as the practical follow-up to their Situationist-inspired zine-turned-book Days of War, Nights of Love (2001). I thought their first book, filled with a generally inspiring assortment of essays, flyers, artwork, myths, daydreams, historical accounts, and communiqués (while I had my criticisms), was a breath of fresh air in a frequently stale and often extraneous anarchist press. It offered remarkably potent glimpses of personal liberation for an otherwise apathetic and crushed generation, in a radiant and exhilarating literary style. As a more visual and less obscure Revolution of Everyday Life (Raoul Vaneigem,1967) for the post-X generation, it had much to contribute to a generalized (but often ghettoized) revolt against the systems of domination. However, the “practical” sequel, hoping to bring the “doing” to the “dreaming”, and be the contemporary Anarchist Cookbook crossed with Abbie Hoffman’s Steal This Book, unfortunately falls brutally short. As we have seen coming-on lately with their “Don’t Just Vote, Get Active” campaign, it seems that CrimethInc has gone activist.
This 624-page monster primer, designed for your average 18-year-old drop-out, punker, or wanna-be-social/eco-do-gooder is not necessarily a bad idea, if only it contained more radical suggestions on destroying this world and creating an entirely different one based on our desires. Instead, what we have is an A to Z manual on how to be a good activist and a counter-cultural success. If we look at it superficially, we see a very handsome, well-organized guidebook of “practical” information covered with romantically militant rhetoric about longing for disaster (“something interrupting the tedious routines that compromise existence for so many of us”). This book claims, “Whether disaster is something you privately pine for or desperately hope to escape, one thing is for certain–the old recipes won’t suffice anymore. We need recipes for disaster. Here they are.” Well, those are big words, and I am sorry to say, ones they do not live up to.
Sure, there are some useful subjects covered, like “Direct Action”, “Affinity Groups”, “Blocks, Black and Otherwise”, “Sabotage”, and “Security Culture”, admirably without the usual anarchist jargon, offering an example of how a primer like this could be presented without falling into the characteristic elitist literary traps. But even these more beneficial subjects are riddled with liberal disclaimers and one-liners about “not alienating people”, and making sure everyone is comfortable. This was far less offensive to me though, than the endless list of ineffectual, played-out, liberal reformer “recipes” like “Banner Hangs”, “Bicycle Parades” (Critical Mass), “Food Not Bombs” (“if there isn’t a FNB in your town, it’s time to start one... FNB is a gateway drug to activism”), “Guerilla Performances”, “Pie Throwing”, and “Coalition Building”, along with all the feel-good, socially-correct, and uncritical justifications for them. Basically, more of the same. That’s the biggest disaster here.
Of course, Recipes for Disaster also contains your quintessential CrimethInc.esque material we all expect (although you would think they invented them), like “Dumpster Diving”, “Hitchhiking”, “Stenciling”, “Shoplifting”, and “Squatting”, along with some other worthwhile (and some not) Do-It-Yourself kinda stuff like “How to Build a Rocket Stove” and “Screenprinting”. This was ok, but maybe they should have stopped there; nothing all-too groundbreaking, but still somewhat useful. In a time when we are facing more and more desperation and degradation, CrimethInc. has the potential to add some of their classic dreamy defiance that helped to re-invigorate some of us five years ago, coupled with some innovative practical challenges to the totality. Instead, they are turning into a parody of themselves and have become what they once resolutely criticized: mindless activist zombies unable to look beyond the spectacle of pseudo-resistance. Hopefully, people can extract useful information from this handbook (because it is in there), be inspired by some of the rhetoric (which is getting quite tiring for many of us, but perhaps useful to those who haven’t come across it before), and move on with a critique of this world, the desire to destroy it, and their dreams for another one...and enjoy themselves along the way.
$12. CrimethInc. Far East, PO Box 1963, Olympia, WA 98507. www.crimethinc.com
A Child’s Guide to Nihilism: A Coloring and Activity Book
In these times of swelling social immiseration and unhealth, where the optimism of the ‘60s is a remote memory and delusional visions of blissful utopias have little relevance, nihilism (in the active sense) has much to offer those wishing to destroy “all of this”. While no complete remedy for the alienated and destructive reality we face (in fact it could be viewed as an anti-panacea), nihilism can be a lively influence to an anarchist critique of ideology, culture, and power. Perhaps more important, it can free us in terms of our action. While a fair number of anti-civilization and post-left anarchists have a revived interest in nihilism, many are still grappling with a working understanding of it.
A Child’s Guide to Nihilism, created by various San Francisco Bay Area folks (including Aragorn!, one of the main contemporary advocates for investigating the nihilist tradition and perspective), offers a concise and clever introduction to the general outlook and historical framework. This “Coloring and Activity Book” contains short historical accounts (including a helpful timeline), interactive exercises, word searches, crossword puzzles, and an assortment of clever and humorous lessons for the home-schooled and independent students. My favorite was the name matching exercise in which we are asked to connect the assassins to their target. Don’t expect to be an expert in the “negation of everything” after you’ve finished with this handsome little zine (complete with some unforgettable original artwork), but you will certainly get a laugh, have some fun, and possibly learn a thing or two about a unique perspective that doesn’t get bogged down in the trappings of totalized affirmative visions.
Now available for $2 from Green Anarchy
Black Badger No. 7
Black Badger is the ongoing (it comes out every year or two) self-described “weasely journal of review and commentary”. Produced by a member of Anarchy magazine’s new editorial collective, I always look forward to the zine’s entertaining wit and intellectual vitality, but what I appreciate most is the personal insight into the author/friend. It’s basically a personal journal and a lighter counterpart to the author’s more serious writing. I’ve often wondered about his connection to the badger as a symbol, mascot, or metaphor for himself (or possibly his alter ego). Is it the external threat of sharp claws ready to tear into anything that endangers its existence (which are actually more useful for digging holes than for fighting)? Perhaps it is the squat, low to the ground ability to maneuver through the world without being caught. Maybe it is the acute sense of smell that warns of putrid foulness and impending danger, while also leading it to a feast of worms, rodents, and other “lesser” beings. Whatever the reason, I should be satisfied that my urban comrade has some interest in life outside the human frame-work, even if it is somewhat anthropomorphized.
Badger begins with the amusingly conceited line, “sit back and enjoy the finest anti-authoritarian personal zine in the English-speaking world.” One hopes this is a joke, but as we read on, we are not quite sure if the level of humor matches that of the arrogance. As I skim through issue #7, I am reminded of the author’s rigorous precision and clarity (which he demands from everyone else at a level that makes him seem at times to be more of a professor than a peer). In general, I find much of the writing to be astute and helpful to an anarchist discourse on topics ranging from organization to morality in this mix of opinions, reviews, and correspondences.
The tone, however, can be quite standoffish. I am the last to candycoat my opinions, nor do I avoid playing hardball when it comes to articulating my analysis (I can really let people have it), but Badger goes beyond this with an overly judgemental and at times moralistic tone. Perhaps most representative of this is “Badger Thoughts on Pot”. Now I’m certainly not going to say that marijuana is helpful to anything beyond self-medication or perhaps one of many useful tools in personal and collective spiritual/emotional/physical experimentation. It certainly gets abused far too often, and commenting on this in a personal zine is understandable, but do we really need to be dragged through Badger’s timeline of how he became intolerant of others’ personal choices? He talks of the “stinky kid” behind him in mathclass and his pot-smoking parents with the contempt and disgust one usually reserves for a snitch or Maoist. He admits that in this realm of his life he experiences “a mixture of moral revulsion, disappointment, hostility, sadness, and anger.” I guess this is another case of personal zine as therapy.
This same tone bleeds over into Badger’s observation of the Feral Visions Gathering where he ridicules “so-called animal noises”, makes some hasty conclusions of the “rewilders”, and lumps most people into the category of “children” (by which he means self-centered, irresponsible, helpless parasites, or as the Rainbow Family calls them, “drainbows”). This was definitely a minority of those in attendance, but if Badger dismounted from his aloofness long enough to interact with the dirty traveler kids he might have had a different taste, and even realized that many who he called “children” (as if the usage of that term as a negative isn’t offensive enough) actually live relatively “responsible” and “sustainable” lives (or are at least actively attempting to). Badger’s projected assumptions show more about his own shortcomings here. With its no-no’s and lessons on being a “good guest”, this section reminded me more of an Emily Post column than an anarchist review.
One area that I find difficulty in relating to Badger is his critique of bioregionalism. I think a critical discussion here is important, for we cannot trade a rigid paradigm for another straitjacket, but I typically find the discourse over-simplistic. Although there’s not the ample space to get into this in detail here (but hopefully we can expand on this in GA soon), a few points warrant brief reply. According to Badger, “Bioregionalism is a theory that uses the ideas of biology to create boundaries of geography and plants and animals” While this may be true of many that profess a bioregional outlook, it does not encompass everyone, and particularly not those with an anarchist perspective. Typically, anti-civilization anarchists incorporate much more than a simple biological approach, and do not strive for a “pure” bioregional solution. The “rewilding” and bioregional outlook of most green anarchists combines an understanding and deep connection to the various dynamics of place, small-scale communal practice, and the wildest dreams and desires of the individual. Are there some natural limits to place? Of course, but I think it is more advantageous to look at bioregions as open-ended, amorphous areas which overlap and interrelate, rather than exclusionary, walled-off biological systems that demand our submission. In addition, concepts of “native species” do not need to be seen as limiting factors, but simply bio-historical conditions we can understand and learn from. An anarchist bioregional perspective is less concerned about pureness, and more interested in how we can integrate into existing localized patterns while maintaining our autonomy in a symbiotic and mutually beneficial situation.
Badger’s relatively hostile position to a deep connection to place seems odd in relation to his preoccupation with ethnicity and ritualized spirituality. Throughout the zine (and in previous issues) it is referenced with an almost ethnic solidarity that seems odd for any anarchist. It can certainly be interesting and sometimes helpful to connect to our ethnic roots, especially when we seem so disconnected from who we are and torn from our homes. At times, however, I feel there can be an ethnic bias or defensiveness which may be overlooked, and which can occasionally come out in this zine, such as the semantical argumentation over the meaning of the term anti-Semitic (which he feels can only be used in reference to Jewish people, and not Arabs – see Fredy Perlman’s “Anti-Semitism and the Beirut Pogrom” for an interesting discussion and converse view on this topic). The fact is, over-identification with any specific ethnicity, religion, or group has its pitfalls, and in my opinion, is far less valuable than identification with place. I suppose this is a difference in prioritization of relationships.
Despite my criticisms, BB is a worthwhile read. I enjoyed Badger’s thoughts on his occupational shift and his struggle to find a writing voice with which he feels comfortable and that adequately expresses his ideas. The lengthy and informative email exchange with a “wingnut” was a clear and well-articulated anarchist analysis of the state and power (although not devoid of the typical sharpness of tongue). And finally, the scattered, yet illustrative thoughts on postmodernism were also noteworthy. Perhaps Ted Kaczynski was being a bit too harsh in his letter to issue #3 when he wrote, “I found your magazine mildly entertaining, but I will tell you frankly that I think you would have accomplished more if you had devoted the whole thing to badger lore...” At times, however, I’m unfortunately left with the feeling that Badger is more of a crotchety socially-conservative elitist than a critically engaged anarchist working through his ideas (and his own baggage/armor). At various junctures throughout the zine I felt that I had intercepted a note sent to my parents from the high school principal. To be honest, I really didn’t care what they thought of me skipping class, smoking in the boy’s room, or using a dangling participle back then, and I certainly haven’t gained much patience for it since. I appreciate a great deal of what is written about in the zine and feel a lot of affinity with the author, but the scolding style of Black Badger is hard for me to get beyond. I am thankful, however, that the author has this personal zine, if only to keep his more ranty and narrow-minded excursions out of the more important collective project he is involved with, Anarchy magazine.
No Listed Price. Black Badger c/o CAL Press, PO Box 3448 Berkeley, CA 94703
The Fullness of a Struggle Without Adjectives
from Canenero by Venomous Butterfly Publications
The Fullness of a Struggle Without Adjectives is an engaging new title from VBP comprised of material originally published in the Italian anarchist weekly paper Canenero during the winter of 1996-97 (before it soon went defunct). The subject being discussed is armed struggle from a critical insurrectionary anarchist perspective. The pamphlet consists of five short texts: “The Translator’s Introduction”, in which Wolfi Landstreicher (who has done many marvelous translations from Italian over the past couple years) briefly explains the context of the texts and puts his personal take on it; “Communiqué From Prison”, the militant, yet lumpish, piece initiating the discussion, written by two Italian anarchists awaiting trial who advocate for the formation of anarchist armed struggle groups; “The Fullness of a Struggle Without Adjectives”, the initial response to the communiqué by the editors of Canenero; “A Missing Debate”, a follow-up by the editors who were dissatisfied with the lack of critical discussion on the subject; and “Letter On Specialization”, an excellent clarifying response by Massimo Passamani. Overall, the pamphlet raises many important critiques of armed struggle (and other forms of specialized resistance) in an intelligent and applicable fashion.
Much of the credit in sorting out a great deal of the discussion should go to Wolfi’s concise introduction, which sets the tone and fleshes out some of the more significant themes in the pamphlet, as well as providing important background information. The general critique of this compilation (except for the initial communiqué in favor of forming armed combat organizations) is that specifically defined groups engaged in armed struggle create a specialized struggle and also limits one’s possibilities for rebellion. Wolfi puts it well by offering, “While it is clear to me that a revolutionary transformation that would destroy the state and capital is not likely to occur without the use of armed violence, it is equally clear to me that this is not the essence of such a transformation. ”This is a meaningful distinction to make in that it recognizes the need for a certain tactic, without being duped into thinking that the tactic is “the Revolution”. For instance, if one took out the electric grid of a certain region (or if we were so lucky, an entire North American country), it would significantly alter many things (mostly for the better, in my opinion), but it would not create a complete social transformation nor alter the intrinsic logic of civilization, only its temporary functioning. Just as if one took out a politician (or even an entire political party, or even an entire capital), it might create notable change, but it would not resolve the mindset that accepts, and in many cases embraces, institutions of authority. This critique does not make these actions meaningless, only that they might be more meaningful when they occur in a context of a more comprehensive social transformation.
Wolfi goes on to write,“...that the formation of specific armed organizations separated from the rest of the struggle against the ruling order can only act to undermine the subversion of social relationships that is the essence of anarchist revolt.” and later states that, “Our methods of fighting against this society need to carry the relationships we desire within them. Only in this way can our struggle be carried out with joy, free of the christian baggage of duty and sacrifice [emphasis added].”
While I generally agree, this is where I feel things begin to be overstated and start to develop from one perspective or method to a methodology or ideology. There are numerous processes and directions to create/destroy/transform, each with their advantages and disadvantages (from experiential and transformative potentials to practical and likely effectiveness). While I am in agreement with an insurrectionary approach (a transparent non-ideological expanding process of generalized revolt aimed at the civilized order), I also understand a potential for specific cells with certain skills or desires to attack specific points of the physical apparatus and infrastructure of civilization. Is there value in a critique oft his approach? Sure, but we do not move through the world in neat and clean ways (all action is merely partial, with some possibly more full than others), and we live in a highly complex society which may require certain groups of specialists to help bring aspects of it down (at least in the short run). I also make room for the random attacks or unleashing of rage on the system that do not fit into either the insurrectionary or the organized specialist columns. In fact, these nihilistic and apolitical actions are probably going to alter the social and political landscape far more than the other two. While I may have my insurrectionary preference, I don’t want to be naïve or consumed by wishful thinking. Again, being critical of an approach (or lack of specific approach) is helpful, but it can also easily move into a Correct Formula for social transformation.
The Fullness of a Struggle Without Adjectives deals with these questions in much more detail in an open way, although I wish a perspective outside the “insurrectionary anarchist” position beyond the unsophisticated communiqué was also included. I value the willingness of the various authors to criticize political prisoners’ ideas, and not fall into the guilt-ridden trap of holding the opinions, analysis, or strategies of those who have been captured by the state above their own. It is well worth a read, if only to get anarchists out of over-simplistic mindsets concerning armed struggle and specialized revolt.
$2 Venomous Butterfly Publications 818 SW 3rd Ave, PMB 1237, Portland, OR email@example.com
(reviewed by the Cobalt Phantom of Arm ‘n Hamma)
We hesitated reviewing this one for a while, since drawing attention to it could easily contaminate the world of critical anarchist thinking (setting it back at least to the early ‘80s)! Hopefully that wasn’t too abrasive for Mishap, whose tender dermis disintegrates anytime discussion ventures outside his comfort range (the progressive world of political correctitude) or gets a bit negative. For someone who embraces punk so strongly (to the point that he shelters it against any criticism and petitions his friends who have moved on from the insular counter-culture to “Please Don’t Go!”) he doesn’t seem to have much punk left in him. In fact, we get the feeling Mishap is about as “punk” as Donny Osmond or the Partridge Family. Having always been connected to the punk scene, and while we may not be self-identified as such (at least at this point), we have always treasured its raw, crass, angry, antiauthoritarian energy that didn’t take itself too seriously. So, when we reviewed the “political” punk world’s favorite paper, Slug and Lettuce (GA Winter2004/Issue #15; read it for yourself and decide how straightforward we were), we thought those who identified with that particular counterculture would be able to take some honest (and at times harsh) feedback. WRONG! While many appreciated what we had to say, a number of folks, Mishap leading the charge, treated us as if we had punched out their mother and killed their cat. We actually got kicked out of a house for it too (but that’s another story). With that being said, we will not restrain our thoughts any longer since we’ll get the same defensive response whether we are polite or nasty.
Basically Mishap (formerly known as Mayhem, but that name was probably too troublemaking, militant, active, and “macho” for his tastes), is a personal zine that is best at home in that realm. When it enters into political discourse it is of the Slug and Lettuce, Slingshot, or Heartattack variety (the same old liberal/punk/P.C. dronings, including an article in #16 which neatly explains that people who reject political correctness are simply racist, sexist, homophobes just unwilling to “deal with their shit”). If you like whining, this zine is for you! If your political analysis includes skateboarding, politeness, zine culture, privilege-obsession, and (one very limited perspective of) punk, articulated in a forced and hollow self-righteous/moralistic anger, this zine may be of interest to you. If you are at all curious about the travels and personal life of a seemingly humorless and self-loathing “punk”, you might want to pick this zine up. If you’re looking for clearly articulated political analysis or inspiration, you might want to look elsewhere. For example, there’s an article in issue #18, entitled “Revolutionary Rambos?”, in which Mishap claims, “I’m not a warrior!” No shit, you’re kidding. “I’m sick to death of the macho warrior evocations that pollute anarchist discourse” and goes on to explain that the word “warrior” implies “a coldness; and impersonal detachment from the world of the living.” Really? Many cultures that have embraced warriors in the past (without overidealizing) seemed to be much closer to an authentic relationship to the earth, each other, and their situation than any punk or anarchist scene. While we would agree with the danger of fetishizing anything (including armed struggle), militant resistance is neatly labeled, packaged, and tossed aside in the typical Mishap fashion. The false dichotomy of fighting and developing personal relationships is once again cooked up for us to swallow.
While Mishap writes lots of book and zine reviews, one of the only radical books he appears to have read lately is David Watson’s Against the Megamachine, which seems to be excerpted for every issue, probably so he could claim to be anti-civilization (despite the absence of anti-civ ideas in his own writing). The rest of the books reviewed (while a few may be somewhat interesting) often come off the shelves of either Barnes and Noble, the latest course-plan for the Women’s or Ethnic Studies programs at the University (by which we mean they usually remain within the realm of progressivism), or from the local punk record shop.
Zine reviews tend to focus solely on the personal. Mishap has had much to say about how to review zines lately, even giving “guidelines” on how to critique them a few issues back. Basically, be nice. After doing more reviews for other magazines (Maximum Rock and Roll and Slug and Lettuce), he has slightly altered his take in relation to things he doesn’t like (which he tried to avoid before). “There is an evil temptation to be a mean bastard that I’ve resisted except when faced with trash [by which Green Anarchy would obviously be included]...I want to say at the end of almost all the reviews, ‘Hey, doing zines is rad and so are you!’” Except, of course, if your zine (GA perhaps) has a desire to be critical, then he’s fine referring to them as “cesspools of negativity like one unnamed paper from here.”
What pissed us off most about the latest issue, placing Mishap alongside Brian Oliver Sheppard and Chaz Bufe (see: “Waldorf and Statler” on page 69 for more info on these two) in our “show no mercy” category, was the disingenuous attacks that he made on Green Anarchy’s review of Slug and Lettuce. Now if Mishap wants to go to blows with us, that’s fine, we’re certainly up for the challenge. But one thing we do require is honesty, something I think even our strongest critics could not deny. In his article titled, “It is so great how everyone understands...” he writes about the need to discuss openly our depression, and that when this happened in S&L, two reviewers [us] at Green Anarchy, “made it clear that they believed that people who suffer depression are simply weak.” He goes on to explain how, “This line of ‘reasoning’ posits that depression isn’t real (isn’t pain) but only an excuse for weak people to shy away from committed, revolutionary struggle.” Well, I don’t know what he was reading, but we examined our review again (just in case we wrote something in a drunken stupor that we don’t remember), finding nothing along these lines, probably because we don’t believe it to be the case. We, as most people socialized in this culture, are continually suffering from depression as well as a long list of neuroses that I’m sure have become quite “normal” in this society. The closest thing to what Mishap depicts was a brief reference to S&L’s preference for reviewing personal zines more positively than resistance-oriented ones, and the title of our review: “Punk Is Not Dead, It’s Just Really Depressed”, a tongue-in-cheek reference to the broadening depression that has overwhelmed so many punks without much of a critique of what might cause it, nor much insight on how to heal. One would have to read into this immensely (or project their agenda) to say that our “ignorant hit-piece disguised as a review” contained “negative stereotypes about people with depression”. Without ever directly quoting GA, he makes some pretty suggestive statements that could easily be disproved if one were to actually read the review, or that particular issue, which contained an in-depth interview with eco-psychologist Chellis Glendinning, and other articles which went deeply into social isolation, alienation, and depression. But such is the method of argumentation for those with an agenda like Mishap, one which we would characterize as progressivism (and hostility towards anything which isn’t). We would agree that much of the politics of S&L, and Mishap, does avoid “revolutionary struggle”, but this is for reasons other than depression. Mishap’s dishonest generalizations reveal a lack of integrity and defensiveness, but maybe he wrote this knowing we would respond, giving his dismal little zine more exposure. Well, I guess it worked.
$2-3 Mishap, PO Box 5841, Eugene, OR 97405
Advertisements for Anarchy 1982-2005 by Dan Todd
Coming out of a narrow, elitist, overbearing and overrated milieu (the anarchist press), the collected flyers of Dan Todd speak in a dynamic, charged language which is not yet worn out, debased, or degraded by excessive intellectualism; projecting a raw urgency that is the perfect antidote to the high-brow novocaine of all the self-important, hyper-conceptual anarchist journals that have become so irredeemably dreary and tiresome. In this outstanding collection, Dan Todd demonstrates that with the requisite subtlety and skill the “lowly” 8 1/2 x11 photo-copied flyer can fulfill the purpose of its ephemeral existence: making a mental wreckage of the pseudo-reality that passes for “life” in this culture and jolting the motor of consciousness into a higher gear through a daring synthesis of pilfered images and original texts.
Dan’s flyers are not entertainment, they’re an assault and might be best described as low-budget “art with a vengeance”. I say “art” because in Dan’s masterful, talented hands the flyer provides a forum for experiments with metaphor, irony, humor, and explosive wordplay that succeeds in doing what most anarchist “intervention” (of the printed variety) fails to accomplish: undermining established notions of order and logic and tearing the beholder away from the stagnant meaninglessness of their programmed routines and habitual modes of thought.
Venomous and facetious by turns, Dan’s flyers wage an effortlessly determined war on complacency and boredom of every kind, turning a one-sided, blank piece of paper into a revolutionary medium for exploring subversive relationships between topic and image; detourned cartoons containing surprising “shortcircuits” that suddenly illuminate at the same time as they dazzle the mind; strange and apparently arbitrary liasons between pictorial images and words which are astonishingly at odds with the secure world of rationalized perception; a generalized iconoclasm that bursts apart the most venerated symbols of capitalist civilization and renders them meaningful in a totally different, extended context.
It’s a challenging, absorbing approach that represents a definite departure from the dull and predictable rhetoric that the English-speaking anarchist press seems so unwilling to supercede. There is an explicit need for self-styled anarchist “theoreticians” to leave their book-lined mausoleums and walk the streets of the living again; to question the effectiveness (or lack thereof) of their haughty, inflated publishing projects and inaccessible philosophical inquiries and begin devising ways to become a relevant force in actual (not “virtual”) social struggles for a change.
Most information and “analysis” that ween counter in this society is merely an establishment tool with which people are lulled to sleep while those in charge are steering us toward our doom. As anarchists we want to and endeavor to draw attention to these lunatics and their exterminist plans and demonstrate that we intend to be reckoned with when it comes to defining the “rules” for our life and death, the “rules of engagement”, so to speak. But the clock is ticking, there is a gravely apparent urgency to our resistance at this time, and the anxiety, frustration and rage that underscores our collectively confined existence must be constantly sharpened and anarchist perspectives must be brought out in the open...
The question is: how to most effectively do this? The ivory tower dissertations being formulated by the anarchist “intelligensia” don’t even have the potential to help effect a genuine change in circumstances and are so intrinsically designed for armchair consumption that they barely qualify as “agitation” of any sort. We need to get vitality and freshness back into our propaganda, for if our analysis puts people to sleep – or worse, engenders new forms of alienation and self-delusion – then we haven’t influenced the demystification of anything.
A seditious, easily-reproducible flyer, like graffiti or billboard “revisionism”, can provoke a psychic disturbance in the viewer/reader, working upon the mind in a way that bypasses the “rational” faculties of our civilized intellects; and thereby functioning as a tool of transformation rather than a toy of masturbation. The immediacy and directness of a well-crafted flyer has the ability (like music) to convey immense amounts of information and sentiment in an almost magical procedure, cutting through all the bullshit like a well-sharpened blade – and in a culture of widespread “attention deficit disorder” and mass “alliteracy”, this is a significant strategic consideration! All of these tactical advantages – coupled with the cheap, readily-accessible nature of the medium itself – make the flyer an ideal format for the dissemination of anti-authoritarian thought and critique.
Recognizing that an encounter with anarchist theory should not be a passive experience, but an upsetting one, Dan infuses his flyers with an intense desperation that can’t be ignored. Continually experimenting, Dan is determined to prevent an important D.I.Y. medium from becoming hopelessly stagnant in the future, and the results of his mirthful explorations are frequently awesome. Intricate and intoxicating, meshing savage intelligence with pure situationist instincts, Dan allows his imagination full liberty as he selects for maximum desecration the most admired and revered objects and myths of the present regime: the automobile, nationalism, technology, production, work, celebrated servitude, submission to the market, the reification of social roles, cops, computers, the military, and the whole hierarchical pyramid of power. This is an aptly named anthology, for the “cold fury” of Dan Todd’s wrath is implacable and guaranteed to disturb the status quo and cause cognitive upheaval in the conventional thoughts of the bourgeoisie. Every one of these flyers has its’ own special scent, or “stench”, delivering a different level of energy or a different kind of awareness, depending on the value or institution being attacked. Dan is a verbal terrorist par excellence, intent on the wholesale negation of prevailing norms, and his combined flyers constitute an impatient interrogation of the repressive System we live under, a flagrant challenge to the false notion of social “peace” and stability. The air surrounding the North Amerikan anarchist “mildew” has been filled for a long time with the stink of decay, making Cold Fury the most refreshing revolutionary agitprop I’ve come across in a while. A groundbreaking anthology, spanning 23 years of impetuous troublemaking, that you’ve just got to see for yourself to understand. Get a copy of Cold Fury and treat yourself to a mischievous new sphere of reference. An indispensable weapon that should be in every post-left anarchist arsenal.
Available for $5 from PO BOX 2626, Tucson, AZ 85702-2626
(any given issue) (reviewed by Lechate)
The only stimulation that I derive from perusing Slingshot is the stimulation of disgust: the disgust of watching a flawed, defective prototype aimlessly duplicate itself, year after year, like a disembodied ghost that refuses to accept the death of its physical body and instead lingers on in the mortal realm, haunting the environment where it used to reside...
Whiny leftist morality, smug Berkeley self-righteousness, arrogant assumptions and narrow-minded generalizations, white guilt beyond reckoning, cheerless, sedate P.C. “jokes”, uninspired editorializing, one half-witted sermon after the next; in short, every single issue a carbon copy replica of the one that preceded it, right down to the insipid graphics and obligatory Critical Mass “action report”. This is an abomination of a newspaper, an affront to critical thinking, and one of the biggest embarrassments to the West coast anarchist milieu (with which Slingshot maintains a tangential connection). At a time when relevant analysis, political clarity, and a clean break with obsolete leftist paradigms are more indispensably required than ever, Slingshot persists in its unbroken manufacture of progressive/reformist cliches and “fortune cookie” summaries of complicated geopolitical events, in effect, contaminating an already perplexed spectacle of “radicalism” with more ideological confusionism.
“Yo-Yo” or “Tennis Ball” would be a less misleading name for this loathsome rag, as there is nothing in Slingshot that even remotely hints at a serious attack upon the authoritarian order that encases our lives and strangles the Earth. It’s just a ceaseless barrage of activoid gibberish, supplemented with sanctimonious grade school-level “lessons” on the “cultural insensitivity” of white-skinned people growing dreadlocks and combating global warming by riding bikes. Aiding and abetting the cause of stupification, every article in this sorry tabloid is permeated with euphemistic “Leftspeak” and all political expression is placed in a straightjacket of anarcho-progressive “axioms” (gender is entirely a social construct, H.U.D. screws over single moms, anarchist communities are not challenging heterosexism, racism or white supremacy, etc.). The politics of denial and the need to be politically correct dominates all discussion in the pages of Slingshot, with most contributors seeming to believe in a “moral progress” where humyns evolve on a social plane by cleansing their minds of inappropriate and “ideologically unsound” thoughts. Utterly lacking in scope and ambition (and overdosed on liberal puritanism), Slingshot champions the usual array of “social causes” in a manner that requires no thought.
Repeated exposure to Slingshot is NOT recommended for strengthening one’s revolutionary morale or fighting spirit, and is more likely to lead to apathy, disillusionment with social struggle and/or a numbing of the critical faculties. The most enraging aspect of Slingshot is the sickening, colossal waste of resources that go into its production, so that roughly 12,000 unwanted copies can blow through the streets of Berkeley and San Francisco like newsprint tumbleweeds. As with Terry Schiavo, dragging on in a state of vegetative undeath, someone needs to seriously consider removing Slingshot’s feeding tube. File under: Landfill waste.
Free. Slingshot @ the Long Haul, 3124 Shattuck Ave, Berkelel, CA 94705
Tribes and Tribulations: An FPCN Intercultural Tribal Music CD
I’ve always had a strong appreciation for the music of struggle and resistance – particularly the rebel anthems associated with the Irish liberation conflict and the anti-spectacle anarcho-punk sounds of the early to mid-eighties (the creative apex for that short-lived burst of chaos) – so I was excited to come into contact with this CD, which collects the freedom songs (14 in all) of the Batwa Pygmies, the Hazda Bushman, and various tribes from the West Papuan Highlands. West Papua is a tropical island paradise in the South Pacific, still pristine with stunning beaches, thriving coral reefs, and rainforest covered mountains with snow capped peaks. But as our regular readers know, a dark cloud hangs over paradise as the non-assimilated native Papuan people suffer a constant reign of violent terror from brutal colonizers and the Indonesian military, fighting back to prevent the destruction of their culture and land.
Since 1969, an estimated 400,000 native Papuans have been killed or disappeared by the blood thirsty Indonesian regime. This CD, put out by Friends of People Close to Nature, is an attempt to break the international silence surrounding this ongoing genocide. According to the liner notes: “money collected from the sale of this CD, or donated, will be 100% used to assist tribals in living the way they want to live – without civilization.” Consistent with their anti-civilization politics and their hostility towards the global economy, Friends of People Close to Nature (FPCN) also makes it clear that this CD is anti-copyright and encourage people to “please copy and distribute.” Still, there’s a time and a place for being a low-bagger and anyone who’s too lazy to muster up a lousy $15 bucks for this CD – considering these cultures are facing complete extermination – is pretty useless in my book. This disc opens with the sounds of chainsaws and falling trees, heralding the arrival of Progress and Free Enterprise (this track is titled “What Tribes Hear Everyday”), but is quickly followed by defiant Koteka chants and traditional Papuan independence and war songs.
This CD, and its companion disc “Sounds Like Freedom: Sounds and Songs From West Papua” (also available from FPCN), are a stirring reminder of the inspirational, spiritually-empowering role that the force of music plays in most liberation movements. But the weapon of music can never compare to the music of weapons and the most authentic, meaningful solidarity that any of us in the West can show the people of Papua is to “bring the war home” and hold marauding, corporate bastards like Freeport-MacMillan and British Petroleum personally accountable for their funding of ethnic cleansing.
For ordering info, checkout the FPCN website: www.fpcn-global.org
Quest for Fire
directed by Jean-Jacques Annaud (1981)
I am not a primitivist per se, but I do have a strong interest in what that critique has to offer along with a need to create a life based on a symbiotic wholeness. I am also quite interested in discussions about the human use of fire. Since this film was recommended by a self-identified primitivist, a group of anti-civ anarchists gathered around the tube for a rare movie night. Only one of us walked out early; unfortunately it wasn’t me.
Hollywood set out to remind us of the Hobbesian view of primitive life as brutish, nasty, and short. Scene after scene describes violent competition as the norm (even between close relations when it came to food or women); women were the compliant property of the men (merely bending over to wash in a stream was an invitation to penetration); and other animals were anxious for domestication (illustrated when a bundle of grass was offered to and accepted by a herd of wooly mammoths impressing these wild creatures so much they turned their pending attack toward a nearby enemy).
The theme of this atrocity is the search for a new source for fire which, according to the moviemakers, is the key to life. The protagonist tribe had lost their source for heat, cooking, and fiery projectiles when the container it was dutifully carried in was accidentally dropped in water. This put the film squarely and predictably in the action/adventure category and with it, all the lack of intelligence that genre requires. One modern-day absurdity after another gets translated backwards in time while simultaneously alluding to the positives of progress (including the progression from the unacceptably hairy, fleshy females to the desirable, lithe, hairless, decorated body of co-star Rae Dawn Chong).
The best thing I can imagine any self-respecting future primitivist would want with this movie is to destroy every copy of it.
Available at any mainstream video outlet near you.
Abolishing the Borders from Below
Issue #17 September 2004
This is a bimonthly newsletter subtitled, Anarchist Courier from Eastern Europe. Each of the 39 pages is tightly packed with reports, news, and analysis provided by a “relatively stable network of correspondents” located throughout the region that covers Poland, Bosnia, Herzegovina, Croatia, the Baltics, ...along with other former Soviet-controlled areas.
The goal of the editors is to “tighten the cooperation between east and west in resisting Fortress Europe, the globalization of the world economy, and above all capitalism and its effects on our life...The intent of this paper is to set up a better network of communication between groups and individuals from different parts of this continent.” The newsletter opens with the minutes from an Abolishing Borders from Below (ABB) meeting in Belgrade. This was an interesting bit of insight into the ideas and issues facing a collective that explicitly does not add significantly to content; they prefer to focus their efforts into reliable and consistent publication and distribution. The contents of this issue include interviews with anarchists from Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Anfema, an anarcha-feminist group from Croatia, reports from a ‘radical eco-protest’ camp in Perm-Russia, and an anti-NATO countersummit held in Istanbul. The cover story is a brief analysis of the Nestle boycott in Poland. And speaking of Poland, the piece I enjoyed most was in the Letters section where a writer takes a critical look at the Polish anarchist movement. The author’s critique of 3 major weaknesses in that movement – reformism, lack of offensive capabilities, and false unity – can easily be applied to the American anarchist situation as well, hence our critique of movements in general.
The English translations are quirky, thus interesting in themselves. Occasionally, the language differences get confusing but, as the editors put it, “...we decided to be rather ‘bad English reputation’ newspaper as to rise a level of language and in this way eliminate probably 30-60% of our regular readers.” If you are interested in the issues and experiences of anarchists in the former Soviet colonies of Eastern Europe, perhaps you’ll join me in becoming one of those regular readers of ABB.
Contact: Abolishing BB c/o Schwarze Risse, Kastanienallee 85, 10435 Berlin, Germany or firstname.lastname@example.org
The Prison Within The Prison: Resistance To The F.I.E.S. Isolation Units In Spain
(North American Edition) by Tarantula
How much can I tell you, reader? Are there things best left unsaid? If I tell you that at one point I sobbed - great heaving, painful, raging cries at the wretchedness of our situation, so much more pointedly focused under the hidden microscopes in the prison walls. If I share my pain with you as I tell you how I was moved by this collection of letters of anarchist prisoners in Spain and how difficult it was, at times, to continue, will I be guilty of agit-prop, or worse? Shall my review be shunned by the anarcho-intellectuals and anti-authoritarian academics because I did not remove myself to a suitably distant point of objectivity? They might prefer I explain that this is a 38-page pamphlet describing the Spanish State prison system through letters and essays from prisoners. It opens with “FIES en Lucha, A Short History of the Prison Struggle in Spain” giving context to the current situation in Spain where the hierarchy of domination and repression that exists outside the walls replicates itself within. The writer describes the hyper-repressive conditions introduced by Antonio Asuncion, now a leader of the Socialist Party of Alicante: isolation without time limit and living conditions dictated by the “whims of the penitentiary center” including censorship, refusing visitation, exercise only in cages, physical and psychological torture. Patxi Zamoro Duran, released after 18 years, eloquently describes the prison: “It’s a gun they point at society and they say if you deviate from the established rules, you’ll pay for it with a prison sentence...And the same thing happens in prison. If, once in prison, you don’t accept the established rules, you go to a prison within the prison.”
Why can’t I find my coldness right now, my proper distance – I cannot discern my head from my heart, my intellect from my emotion? Let me try again.
Letters and communiqués from a number of political prisoners fill the pages of this pamphlet translated, compiled, and printed by people associated with the ABC. (I will try to pass quickly by the posthumous letter left by Paco Ortiz, the one that wrenched from me those always reluctant tears buried deep in the well of 50 years of swallowing). Perhaps I am too closely touched by the words of frustration and angst that flow from the pages as clearly as if I was sitting in the same fucking four-walled cage – or pacing in rage and frustration at “those who have left me alone in this decision of struggle and freedom, as well as for the traitors and enemies, a smile of profound and eternal contempt.”
Perhaps our intellectual keepers of the Anarchist tradition would be correct to condemn me as too biased a writer to offer a fair perspective; thus am guilty of trying to lead others. A worthy concern and question – when does the writer’s influence become an exertion of power? But I feel to reject this for now. The words of these Spanish prisoners are filled with the passion and sincerity of their emotion and the courage and strength of spirit, along with consistently intelligent and reasoned analysis of our shared situation. For example in “Critique and Analysis of Anarchism Today” from a libertarian prisoner of Jan 2, 1999: “Unluckily, in the heterogenic anarchist universe, it exists one group of individuals, very well accomplished in the system with which they share authoritarian tendencies and privileges, and that call themselves anarchists. Some of them have by “BRAINS”, others have considerable bank accounts and social status, others are academics that support the institutions. All of them show their particular anarchism with perfect and splendid articles in news papers and expensive books....In the press of the “democratic system” their[sp] are portrayed as the “good anarchists”, the ones with the capital “A”, because they preach one ideal society that the others will have to achieve but they themselves are not willing to confront the dominants for; they make us sick from the fear they have towards their master and they scream their sentences like mad people every time an attack against oppression is made.”
Fuck it! We are thinking and feeling and instinctive beings and the first hierarchy I wish to smash is my own – mind over emotion, spirit over mind, one body part over another, intellect over all! Read this pamphlet and weep, rage, become disillusioned, debased, unable to face another moment. Let the reality of the System’s horrors envelop you – then let it move you to your own resistance. If you prefer the cold and calculating projection of the scientist or the eternal ‘objectivity’ of the philosopher – go elsewhere. I prefer the heat of the unpredictable flames of real human passion.
Tarantula anarchist/communist distribution: 818 SW 3rd Ave. PMB #1237, Portland, OR 97204
Welcome to the Machine
by Derrick Jensen and George Draffan (reviewed by M.F.S.B.)
Ever heard of a Domestic Control Hover Drone? What about nano-bots? Or uber-soldiers equipped with jet-powered boots, having no need to eat or sleep for a week at a time, and covered with protective exoskeletons that reflect light in ways that render them essentially invisible? How about the ability to remotely monitor our brainwaves such that our very thought patterns are known? Or the ability to send a focused sound (or image) directly into our heads, as if coming from our own minds? Remote controlled chip to trigger your brain’s pleasure center, anyone?
This shit ain’t science fiction, people – it is today’s science.
Derrick Jensen’s newest book (co-authored once again with George Draffan, Strangely Like War) is well summarized by its subtitle: Science, Surveillance, and the Culture of Control. It is a scathing critique of science, particularly regarding how it is (and has always been) used to control the natural world – including humanity; yet it is also a much broader critique of civilization and hierarchical relations. Its primary theme is the premise that our living world has been turned into a huge, hopelessly complex (and essentially lifeless) machine by the bureaucratic institutions of civilization: science, religion, capitalism, the state, etc. The technologies and techniques of surveillance and control, and how they fit into the development and operation of the machine, are another major theme; it is here that the book gets its overall tone and much of its informational value. Also thematic are the psychological effects of ever-increasing human domestication, which is admittedly my own characterization of quite a bit of the interesting ground that the authors cover. It is difficult, in such limited space, to avoid over-simplification of the ideas covered in the book – which touches on virtually every major aspect of human life in the context of the machine; intellectual, emotional, physical, psychological, spiritual, sexual, etc.
Some interesting background on science and technology is provided, including coverage of some of the more relevant technologies available today and just around the corner. Even more interesting to me, though, is the often excellent discussion around how all the technology, and the ideologies which allow and promote its development, fits into the context of this death culture. In addition to the book’s core concepts of technology, bureaucracy, surveillance and control, there is analysis of some fairly diverse concepts, including: knowledge and its relation to power; brain functioning; individual (not just human) identity and identity theft; privacy; non-biological “humans”; the psychology of fear and control; and much more. The many ways in which the machine continually and necessarily (not to mention efficiently) turns life into death are pointed out in clear and sometimes devastating ways.
I appreciate the fact that the authors do not seem to fall into the all-too-common trap of a myopic perspective rooted in ideology. Science and technology have had catastrophic effects on the living world, they point out over and over; yet they don’t create a single Bogeyman, instead choosing to place it all in appropriate context alongside everything else that defines the totality of civilization.
Central to the authors’ analysis is the concept of the Panopticon. From the book: “The Panopticon is a blueprint for a prison designed as a cylinder, with cells radiating from the central guard station...The cells are always lit, while the guard station is always dark. Because prisoners can never tell whether or when they are being watched, they have no choice but to presume that at every moment they are under surveillance.”
Get the picture? What an excellent metaphor for life in today’s civilized world.
The idea that civilization has become a huge, complex machine which essentially runs itself, is one that is not particularly difficult to grasp. It logically follows that we’re all merely cogs in this machine, easily interchangeable and replaceable. However, a finer point that is too often left out – as it was in this book – is that some cogs are far more specialized than others, and therefore are not quite as easily replaced.
Which brings me to the locations of some of the more significant cogs that are specifically mentioned in the book, including: Seisant, L-3 Communications, ChoicePoint, Equifax, Experian, The Marmon Group, Winston Partners, Winston Capital Fund, The Carlyle Group, Halliburton, MIT, DARPA, etc. These are but some of the bureaucratic organizations behind the science of destroying life on this planet.
Lest my hypercritical side feel left out, there are a couple things in the book I take issue with. I think the book could be noticeably shorter and still have just as much information and impact; there is definitely repetition, and a few of the chapters were a bit heavy on lengthy quotations (sometimes the personal anecdotes could have been shorter as well). I was slightly disappointed in the chapter titled “Fear,” as it seemed to stray from that topic after the first few pages.
The message I get from this book is not new, but bears repeating nonetheless: The entire world would be far more healthy if we lived authentic lives in which our relationships with ourselves and other living beings, rather than our part in the machine, were our primary focus. In fact, our very survival – indeed that of a great many species – depends on it.
Overall, I found the book to be extremely readable, relevant, thought-provoking, and informative. I also enjoyed the personal perspective (both first- and third-person) that is often present. The authors may target a “mainstream” audience, but this book definitely comes from what I consider to be a radical (based on the origins of that word – root) perspective; that is, it attempts to look at the roots of our situation, not just one specific cause or aspect of it. Highly recommended.
Now available for $18 from Green Anarchy
The Boiling Frog: Thoughts on the origins and historical impact of greed and power in human societies
or A Couple Ideas On What the Hell Is Going On And What We Might Do About It
This is a sharp little 41/2” by 11” 12-page presentation from some folks in Florida. It is essentially a well-put-together editing of a chapter from Daniel Quinn’s Story of B, which focuses on the historical unfolding of civilization and what that says to us.
Quinn has been a rather potent anarchy gateway drug, besides the inherent merits of his work. Ishmael and The Story of B especially have laid out the nature of civilization and its control logic in non-political terms; that is, for readers who steer clear of political writing and who would therefore probably otherwise not come across an anti-civ critique.
The selection on offer here is less literary than most of Quinn’s work, in fact, and says a lot. A fine, accessible intro to what civilization began as and continues to be; a handy overview of what’s at stake. A cover graphic—maybe that frog slowly boiling?—would’ve been nice, and this creation may continue to be perfected. Real nice job.
Available from: Downward Mobility Press and Distribution, PO Box 961, Lake Worth, FL 33460, (561) 547-6686
News from the Balcony, with Waldorf and Statler
Update on Workerist Morality: Same Shit, Different Decade
If you are looking for the source, the perennial spring, of sectarian sentiment in the current anarchist milieu you could do worse than examining the behavior of the modern heirs to Sam Dolgoff. These Dolgoffians are understandably dissatisfied that their vision of revolution through “Modern Industry Better Organized Anarchistically” (see Dolgoff’s The Relevance of Anarchism to Modern Society) has been put to bed by the emergence of REI and Trader Joe’s. Rather than bringing down capitalism, all the current real world examples of syndicalism seem instead to simply enfranchise more people in the system, creating more capitalists. Filled with impotent—although poetic—rage at this failure, they have instead lashed out at any and every anarchist that disagrees that industrial workers are the catalyst to social change. Just as we lash out at being fed baby food and wearing diapers.
Dolgoff himself established the proper line by calling every non-workerist “bourgeois,” differing only from his Marxist anti-anarchist peers by calling for a “system of workers’ self-management” (All Power to the Soviets!), although never forgetting “...the organization of the anarchist-communist society on a large scale can only be achieved gradually as material conditions permit, and as the masses convince themselves of the benefits to be gained and as they gradually become psychologically accustomed to radical alterations in their way of life.” Dolgoff wins the grumpiest old man contest! But what of his progeny?
Chaz Bufe. He poorly rewrote Dolgoff’s Relevance and Bookchin’s Listen Marxist! in the mid-‘80s calling it Listen Anarchist! to shake his fist at all the young rapscallions who were throwing rocks at his perfect, beautiful philosophy. Some choice lines that remain commonly in use today by various Dolgoffians include: “The reason why such people... choose to label themselves as anarchists is undoubtedly, in many cases, that they believe the worst bourgeois lies about anarchism—that it’s a synonym for chaos and an extreme everyone-else-be-damned form of individualism. They use ‘anarchism’ as a blanket justification for irresponsible, anti-social behavior.” And “...work must be performed in order for society to exist...most able-bodied people work, and it would be difficult to find a more alienating approach to those of us who work than the anti-work attitude, which in effect states: ‘...you’re stupid for doing it.’” Maybe there’s a lesson in that last line?
We have to ask, what is sillier: labeling those you disagree with “bourgeois” or paraphrasing their offensive deviations from the party line. It seems Chaz never discovered the fine art of using someone else’s words against themselves.
Brian Oliver Sheppard. Poor Brian is the deluded younger generation of the Dolgoffian aberration. He has actually defended anarchism as more efficient than Capitalism (is that an argument for or against?), international workers self-management as an improvement to globalization, and wrote a new introduction to Dolgoff’s Relevance. From the introduction: “The primitivist sect of the American anarchist movement actually seems to... [advocate] destroying what it calls the ‘industrial mega-machine,’ thereby returning to small, localised, autonomous villages. This is completely at odds with what the anarchist movement has fought for traditionally.” When Sam was interviewed in Paul Avrich’s Anarchist Voices, he derided ‘ox-cart anarchists’ who opposed organization and wanted to return to a “simpler life.” Because there’s nothing more anarchist than marching lock-step with industry—more widgets and doo-dads for freedom and liberty!
And rest assured there are plenty of Dolgoffians outside of Bufe’s See Sharp Press. You can see their influence in the writings of Arthur J. Miller; AK Press is practically bursting at the seams with this influence (not even to mention largely controlling the market of new and old anarchist titles); Dolgoff’s own Anarcho-Syndicalist Review; and the remnants of the non-platformist anarcho-communist scene, that impoverished group held together more by what they are against than what they are for.
You know what they say, “You’re only as old as your ideology is tired”...
When Anarchists run out of ideas...
When we caught the foul wind that the next issue of this otherwise fine and appropriately ornery periodical would bear the theme “Spirituality,” we were quick to get our undergarments in a twist. And when you wear your pants as high as we do, that saying takes on new depths of meaning.
Along with the social contract, the other thing we didn’t sign up for is a spirit. Like the worker-owned collectives out there whose existence only provides us real and sordid examples of the poverty of the prisoners taking over the prison, the practice of submitting oneself back to the yoke of superstition and its varied ritualized observances leaves us in a cloud of stunned bewilderment. For the record, the only Soul we’re interested in is the musical acrobatics of that young James Brown fella’.
Now don’t go confusing us with Rationalists (of which there are no shortage in our generation), but smelling of patchouli, talking about Zen and Stirnerite individualism while giving a “shout out” to the native people of North America is just plain embarrassing for everyone. As these old eyes see it, there is a difference between finding inspiration and ending up a wanna-be; and that difference is not whether you smoke your hemp from clay or metal.
Now for some spirit of camphor to settle down my lumbago...
The Absolute Dog, by M.C. K9
A review of Antisthenes of Athens: Setting the World Aright by Luis E. Navia (Greewood Press 2001)
“I share Bertrand Russell’s conviction that modern cynicism constitutes the very antithesis of classical Cynicism.”
A little poem to make the main point:
after the socratic crack
the dogs continued to roam free
plato the first fire hydrant
aristotle the nearest tree
We have been looking at the wrong ancient Greek philosophers for almost 2500 years because we have let words on the page speak louder than actions in the street.
Antisthenes, some say the most dedicated student of Socrates, became known as “the Dog” or “the Absolute Dog” because of his “absolute commitment to reason infused by a creative energy” (E. Bignone cited in Navia) for setting the world aright. Similarly, Diogenes became known as “the Dog” or “the Dog of Sinope,” and it was as “dogs” that a variety of popular or “street” philosophers found “a will to resist and to set the world aright by means of the application of rational principles to human conduct” (Navia,pg. 96) over an 8 century period from 5th century BC to 3rd century AD. Remember dogs were not the overbred poojies of bourgeois pet fetishism that we know today, but they did stand guard, sorted out friends from foes, lived lives without shame, indifferent to etiquette and rules. The Dogs “became, with pride and self-assurance, self-chosen dogs because that name reflected in some measure the way in which they presented themselves. In appearing in the garb of dogs or doggish people, however, their intention was not to abandon human nature and replace it with canine nature or to advocate the transformation of people into animals. In them, as can be gathered from statements attributed to Antisthenes, the point was to distinguish between nature (‘fesis’ in Greek) and convention (‘nomos’ or “law” in Greek), and to remain attached to the former, while setting aside the latter. If a happy and virtuous life is to be attained, we must divest ourselves of the artificiality under which we have become buried through the influence of irrational conventions and atavistic modes of being. We must deface the currency that has made us what we were not meant to be. The flight from what is natural that characterizes the human condition is what needs to be corrected, and if the world is to be set aright, it is to nature that we must return.”(Navia, pg. 100)
I really like just about everything I can find to read about the Dogs (see bibliography below). Navia’s book about Antisthenes makes me understand how and why the Dogs were hidden from me during the 60 of my 65 years that I spent being taught and then teaching in schools. I could have been learning about why Diogenes chose to live in a tub when I was in kindergarten; all the stories about Diogenes confronting the big men of his time convey simple lessons that a child in kindergarten or first grade could learn: Alexander the Great to Diogenes, “Let me grant your greatest wish, O wise man!” Diogenes to Alexander the Great, “Dude, could you move just a little to one side or the other? You’re blocking my sunshine.” Yet I didn’t figure out that the Dogs of antiquity were probably the first western anarchists and resisters, the prime or prototype opponents of civilization and class society, perhaps early western Buddhists and certainly the first beatniks, until after I had retired from academia. I took four consecutive semesters of philosophy courses at Yale in the late 1950s and never got to word one about the Dogs; none of my profs took their “black humor, paradox and surprise, ethical seriousness” (A. A. Long pg. 33) seriously. Graduate school in 1960s Anthropology did not steer me toward the Dogs as the first fieldworkers and participant-observer-critics in social and cultural anthropology, the first westerners to advocate for freeing slaves, women and “barbarians” and against racism, sexism, and imperialism. Somehow, thirty years of research, writing and teaching at a university while working with left and anarchist colleagues didn’t encourage me to sniff out my ancestral Doggie ancestors.
It’s not only that scholars have largely ignored 8 centuries of dogged opposition to Greek and Roman civilization, but most academics have fed us what the Dogs called typhosor lies, intellectual smog, a complete reversal of meanings, when they told us that the Dogs were just a bunch of cynical cynics, nattering nabobs of negativism. In fact they were curious, ruggedly idealistic materialists, fully embodied spirits, intensely practical and consistent in their insistence on happiness and action as the main attraction. The Dogs’ first big sin was joy seeking.
“In much livelier language than I use here, they can be seen to have advocated the following propositions:
Happiness is living in agreement with nature.
Happiness is something available to any person willing to engage in sufficient physical and mental training.
The essence of happiness is self-mastery, which manifests itself in the ability to live happily under even highly adverse circumstance.
Self-mastery is equivalent to, or entails, a virtuous character.
The happy person, as so conceived, is the only person who is truly wise, kingly, and free.
Things conventionally deemed necessary for happiness, such as wealth, fame, and political power, have no value in nature.
Prime impediments to happiness are false judgments of value, together with the emotional disturbances and vicious character that arise from these false judgments.”
The Dogs’ second big sin was to be skeptical about theory, words, logic, laws of contradiction and predication, and the value of texts. There is no tangible evidence that they wrote anything down. We have zero (0) books from any of the early Dogs: Socrates, Antisthenes, Diogenes, Crates or Hipparchia. They walked the city, hung out, presented the alternatives they believed in as action, demonstrations of joy in simplicity, and if you asked a question they might have a snappy answer. Asked why he was masturbating in public Diogenes said something like, “Hey, I wish I could relieve my hungry stomach by just rubbing it.” You get the idea: shameless joy seekers, puncturing the pretensions of the respectables.
The two big sins together – seeking happiness in nature and simplicity while opposing theory, language games, text – guaranteed that most academics would not be interested for over two thousand years.
Antisthenes of Athens: Setting the World Aright costs quite a bit of money, but is a valuable introduction to the life and legacy of the first self-proclaimed Dog. Chapter 1, “Sources and Testimonies”, describes how Prof. Navia sifts the varieties of evidence, taking as “primary” sources what was written about Antisthenes by his contemporaries (none of the “sixty-one works ascribed to Antisthenes” and “preserved in ten volumes” according to Laertius, writing 400 years later, have survived) and taking as “secondary” what has been written about Antisthenes in texts like Laertius’ Lives of the Philosophers. In Chapter 2 Navia constructs “A Biographical Sketch” or speculative biography based on what various Greeks and Romans over centuries had to say about Antisthenes. In Chapter 3, “The Interpretation of Homer” and especially Chapter 4 “Saying Nothing about the No Thing”, Navia gives us evidence of Antisthenes’ deep skepticism about language and Homer’s poetic license, as well as Navia’s own contemporary and radical critique of language as symbolic and full of lies:
“People in high and low places would be gagged into silence and would find themselves without employment, for their lives are structured in webs of lies and euphemisms under which the truth is securely suppressed. Among humans, language has a variety of functions, the most common of which is the capacity to perpetuate the deceptions in which they live. As the Cynics realized, speaking “the Thing which is not” is probably the most engaging human activity. We misname things calling them by the wrong names, utter words and expressions not knowing what they mean, and alter the facts of experience saying that they are otherwise than they are. We fabricate fables and falsehoods about all sorts of things, including ourselves, and use language as a screen to obfuscate those who listen to us. Whether in speaking or writing, lies, deceptions, and misrepresentations are the daily bread of human existence.” (pg. 54)
Chapter 5, “The Socratic Connection”, makes the case for Antisthenes as the faithful, primary disciple of Socrates, as opposed to Plato who edited Socrates to suit Plato’s own philosophical goals. Navia argues at length that Plato wrote down his version of the talk, while Antisthenes walked the disciple’s walk that authenticates Socrates as the first or prototype Dog. Chapter 6, “Antisthenes, the Absolute Dog”, develops the thesis that the death of Socrates at the hands of the state radicalized Antisthenes and deepened his commitment to “knowing thyself,” “defacing the currency,” and “setting the world aright.” In Chapter 7, “Simon the Shoemaker”, Navia takes the liberty of constructing a profoundly anti-Platonic “Platonic dialogue, ”a symposium of voices in which we hear how Antisthenes argued with Socrates over the matter and manner of his life and death. This is the best chapter, the final chapter summing up what is known about Antisthenes, and these 16 pages would make an excellent first reading in every “Introduction to Philosophy” course, or as a jumping off point for courses on “Anarchism”, “Natural World/Legal World”, “Liberating Libertarians from their Addiction to Property and the so-called ‘free market’” and the complementary course, “Liberating Socialists from their Addiction to Statist solutions for most of our problems.” The basic issues and questions of their times and ours are represented here by the imagined voices of Socrates, Crito, Antisthenes, Apollodorus, and Simon. This “ancient discussion” convinced me that the legitimate heirs of Socrates were Antisthenes and Diogenes, and certainly not Plato and Aristotle who laid the theoretical foundations for class society, empires, church and state hierarchies and the neo-conservative, fascistic ideology of the present day.
I don’t think it is an accident or coincidence that black American men responding to the strange places where a literate civilization has taken us, call each other “Dawg” and rappers like SnoopDoggy Dog identify deeply with a cartoon canine ontology. Broadly speaking we are at a point in time where language, logic, symbolism, discourse and discursive systems have both proliferated into specialized lingos, and become fixed, rigid, deceptively technical, lying to us more and more about reality. There is an ever thicker mass mediated smog of overspun political typhos that we breathe daily; the special typhos of advertising distorts language and thought 24/7; the specialist fogs of war, diplomacy, business, academia, sciences and technologies, arts and aesthetics, commodified sports, spectatorship, celebrated celebs, etc. etc. etc. etc. obscure reality and soften what is left of our brains. Navia again: “...lies, deceptions, and misrepresentations are the daily bread of human existence.” (pg. 54)
In sum, Socratic wisdom, praxis and street philosophy were stolen by Plato and Aristotle and turned into text and typhos in service to civilization, state power, militarism, dominance, empire. The Dogs said “piss on it” and went the other way; it is time we studied their way more carefully.
Other books by Luis E. Navia are The Adventures of Philosophy (1999), Diogenes of Sinope: The Man in the Tub (1998), Classical Cynicism: A Critical Study (1996).
Long, Anthony A. “The Socratic Tradition: Diogenes, Crates, and Hellenistic Ethics” in The Cynics: The Cynic Movement in Antiquity and Its Legacy, edited by R. Bracht Branham and Marie-Odile Goulet-Caze. University of California Press 1996.
A History of Cynicism, by Donald R. Dudley. Gordon Press, New York 1974. (Reprint of Methuen, London, 1937).
Introduction to Drop Everything, by Annie LeBrun
Translated from French by Guy Ducornet
[This piece first appeared in English in the book, Surrealist Women: An International Anthology, edited by Penelope Rosemont. It is a translation of the introduction of Annie LeBrun’s book, Lachez Tout (Drop Everything), a merciless critique of what she calls “neo-feminism”—what most of us here know simply as feminism—written in 1977. Annie LeBrun was born in Rennes, France in 1942. She was involved with the surrealist movement—which is more a revolutionary movement than an art movement—between 1963 and 1969, and has continued to be involved in creative projects of revolt since.]
At sixteen, I decided my life would not be as others intended it to be. This determination—and perhaps luck—allowed me to escape most of the misfortune inherent in the feminine condition. Rejoicing that young women today increasingly manifest their desire to reject the models heretofore offered them, I, nonetheless, deplore their seeming readiness to identify with the purely formal negation of these old-fashioned models, that is, when they do not settle for simply bringing them back into fashion. At a time when everyone complacently intones that one is not born a woman but one becomes a woman, hardly anyone seems to trouble herself about not becoming one. Indeed, it’s just the opposite. Contrary to the efforts of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century feminists who endeavored to eliminate the illusory difference that gave men real power over women, the neofeminists of recent years have made it their business to establish the reality of that difference in order to claim an illusory power that women are said to have been denied. So thoroughly do they work at establishing the reality of this illusive difference that in the end, the revolt against impossibility of being tends to vanish under the blows of militant stupidity, thus introducing the obligation to be. Do we forever need to remind ourselves that in matters of revolt, we need no ancestors? And definitely, no technical advisers eager to exchange their recipes for feminine insubordination from A to Z.
In view of the extent of the crimes more or less legally perpetrated, not only against women but also against all those who refuse the social codification of sexual roles (homosexuals in particular), this revolt can only be regarded as urgent—so urgent that I cannot refrain from disrupting the chorus of those, male or female, who claim they are abstracting it from the private obscurity where it violently takes shape, and from whence it draws its overwhelming strength. I insist: this rebellion is always directed against the collective morale, no matter upon what basis the collectivity was founded. How, then, can we fail to see that today every woman will be dispossessed of the recovery of her self if she does not notice that every one of her tirades might be redirected and used to build an ideology as contradictory in its proposals as it is totalitarian in its intentions? We even find her tacitly encouraged on all sides to reveal the claims of her sex, ever since the so-called “women’s cause” was presented as the image of a rebellion tamed inside the net of the negative normalization that our epoch is so proficient at casting over the most remote spaces on the horizon.
Having always disdained masters who act like slaves as well as slaves eager to slip into the skins of masters, I confess that the ordinary conflicts between men and women have been of very little concern to me. My sympathy goes rather to those who desert the roles that society assigns them. Such people never claim to be constructing a new world, and therein lies their fundamental honesty: they never impose their notion of well being on others. With a powerful determination that can often overturn the established order, they are just happy to be the exceptions that negate the rule.
Oscar Wilde interests me more than any bourgeois woman who agreed to marry and have children, and then, one fine day, suddenly feels that her oh so hypothetical creativity is being frustrated.
And that’s how it is.
I shall not list my preferences in this regard: it would be useless to do so, and extremely discouraging for the cause of women.
The fact that I have done my best as far as possible, to avoid biological destiny’s psychic, social and intellectual hold upon me is my own business, but I shall never give in to society’s attempt to make me feel guilty in the name of all women and to force me back into the limitations of that destiny.
Such sudden and inexorable promiscuity in search of each woman’s identity indeed threatens women at the very heart of their freedom when the gender difference is asserted at the expense of all other specific differences. Let us just consider calmly what we have all had to endure in the name of God, Nature, Man and History. It seems, however, that all of that was not enough, for it is all starting up again under the banner of Woman. Specialists in coercion make no mistake when with sudden zeal they increase the numbers of national and international organizations dealing with “la condition feminine” without actually effecting any legislative change. And they can hardly go very far astray, since the moment when Louis Aragon [a Stalinist], that choir boy for repression for almost half a century, announced that woman is “Man’s Future”. I have the gravest doubts about a future that might look anything like Elsa Triolet.
In all that is said and written in the name of woman, I see the return—under the pretext of liberation—of everything that has traditionally diminished women. They denounce the family but extol motherhood as the foundation of the family. They attack the notion of woman-as-object but promote the revival of “feminine mystery”. And the exposure of the relationships between men and women as power relations initiates theories about the most sickening and inane conjugal squabbles. For me these are just so many more reasons to be glad that I have turned my back on the dead-ends of so-called “feminine sensibility”. Moreover, nothing could make me alter my natural aversion to majorities, especially when they are composed of part-time martyrs—largely a phenomenon of the western world.
The more deafening the noise of our time, the more I feel certain that my life is elsewhere, gliding along my love whose shapes entomb the passing of time. I look at you. We shall meet on the bridge of transparency before diving into the night of our differences. We shall swim near to one another at a distance, tense or distracted, going against the stream of our enigma to find ourselves in the uncertain embrace of our fleeting shadows. We are not the only ones to have encountered a point of transparency before plunging into the night of our differences and who have come up not caring whether we are male or female. And if very few men find it easy to recognize themselves in Francis Picabia’s avowal, “Women are the agent of my freedom,” it is perhaps because that comes only with the triumph of a Marvelous that men and women have yet to discover. That is why I object to being enrolled in an army of women engaged in struggle simply because of a biological accident. My frantic individuality is exactly in proportion to all that strives toward the interchangeability of all beings.
This book is a call for desertion.
[We would love to translate this entire book from French. Please contact us if you can help.]
Any World (That I’m Welcome To): JZ in Transit
Since last fall (2004) I’ve had the good fortune to have traveled rather widely, speaking and discussing anti-civilization perspectives. Here are some impressions and tentative conclusions.
September involved about ten days in Italy, sponsored by the independent publisher Stampa Alternativa; stops in two south Tuscan villages, Siena, Bologna, and Rome. I’d done a slightly more extensive tour in 2002, and see an interesting contrast between the two swings. The first go-round consisted of anarchist settings, the latter less so. This time, the people I encountered were more likely to be small farmers, anthropology students, or curious ex-leftists, rather than more strictly political types. And what I kept sensing was a greater interest and openness than I’d met with two years earlier.
In late October/early November I was in Turkey for 2+ weeks. The excellent anarchists of Izmir and Istanbul are fairly few in a country of 70 million; but according to folks I talked with, they exert an influence that greatly exceeds their numbers. Anarchism is only about 20 years old in Turkey. One very intriguing highlight, along with meeting some superb primitivo individuals and enjoying legendary Turkish/Kurdish hospitality, was an evening with three Islamic anti-civilizationists. Islam includes some shamanistic, pantheistic elements (sometimes Sufi-oriented) and the folks who wanted to meet are among such unorthodox Muslims. It was very clear that their outlook went far beyond a simple anti-Western position to very actively engage with green anarchy ideas, but I don’t know what this really means or how far it goes. A woman and two men of this persuasion virtually demanded—in the friendliest terms—that KAOS, Istanbul anarchists publishers who were present at the meeting, bring out more anarcho-primitivist works. “We need them!” they emphasized.
I spent a week in Frankfurt and Berlin in January 2005, in conjunction with the opening of Lutz Dammbeck’s fine anti-technology film Das Netz (The Net). The Left in Germany managed for along time to actively suppress the questioning of mass society (aka modernity, technoculture, etc.) and civilization, but it appears that this film has finally kicked that closed door open. The film has been something of a sensation in terms of this (long overdue) discussion, and it felt good to witness this shift, and even play a tiny part. New anti-civ projects are now emerging in Germany, such as Die Eule 2 in Chemnitz.
In early April I spoke at the University of Wisconsin, University of Florida, and University of South Florida, meeting sharp and friendly people and hearing about new anti-civ efforts and awareness. It’s not like the old days—just a couple of years ago—when the primitivist orientation was often viewed as something almost secret, esoteric.
Two and a half weeks in Croatia and Serbia (April/May) offered a wonderful opportunity. Once again some beautiful folks expended a lot of time and energy to make the visit happen. In the Balkans neither communism nor war is an abstraction, or even a distant memory. Another very educational sojourn for me. Zagreb, Split, Rijeka, Pula in Croatia; Novi Sad and Belgrade in Serbia: serious interest, lots of protracted discussions, and bigger-than-expected turnouts across the board.
A leftist at the talk in Belgrade proclaimed it a “scandal” that I would be offering such exotic approaches in a country faced with a “lowered standard of living,” etc. But it made me feel a bit less of an arrogant American to see that he was the only one present who saw things that way, given the negative reactions he received. In Belgrade and Zagreb, the large number of women discussion participants was very noticeable; women were the majority in the post-talk Q-and-A sessions.
With apologies for leaving out important cultural, economic, and political differences among countries, here are a few common threads that seemed evident to me:
There is an extremely widespread understanding that something different is needed. Matters worsen in every regard, and though we clearly need forward momentum, it feels like we’re stuck. It’s well known that the left is dying or irrelevant, an enormous failure. I have been struck by the willingness to grapple with an orientation that really aims to change this world in fundamental ways, rather than to slightly rearrange the same old massified reality under new management. The invitations I’ve received are just one small sign of growing interest, as is the fact that virtually every single presentation/discussion exceeded attendance expectations. Something new is in the air, with roots that are humankind’s very oldest. Quite a few see this “something” as a spiritual development, an effort to restore wholeness and reconnect with the earth and one another. I think we should be very open to this, especially given the limitations of a political sphere that is increasingly understood as shallow, limited, and grounded in power relationships (including the power relationship of “representation”). This spiritual tendency intrigues me a lot and may prove to be decisive, in profound and unforeseen ways.
Sorry, we can’t print them all, but keep them comin’ (under 500 words makes us the happiest)
They Need to Fear Us
Dearest Green Anarchy:
Greetings from Prison-ney Land, fellow anarcho-primitivists! Why shouldn’t we be violent in our cause? Public opinion? Ba humbug! Public opinion is controlled by the media, which is in turn controlled by big business and government – our enemies! Look, anarcho-primitivists want to see the system collapse entirely. And that’s just not going to happen so long as there are individuals who want – at all cost– to keep environmentally damaging capitalism going.
ELF claims they exist to take away the profit of destroying natural life. More power to them, but I guarantee that if we also jeopardize their lives, then they’ll start listening. For all the money we take away from their little ventures, there’s a dozen more eco-nonfriendly schemes that are paying off. If we burn down a house that’s being built, they’ll just build another one. If we bomb SUVs, they’ll just buy another one. If we sabotage their tools and equipment, they’ll just buy more. But if we kill them, then who is there to keep it going?
The corporations behind the devastation of our planet aren’t listening to us. They don’t care about us because we aren’t a serious threat to their livelihoods. We need to become that threat! They need to fear us. I don’t want to live in a violent world. I dream of peace, love, understanding, and respect. But look at the wild. If a bear decides it wants wolf puppies for breakfast, what does the wolfpack do? They go on the warpath and kill themselves a bear. They are free to act as they will, to do what is necessary to survive in the wild. So should we be free.
The government isn’t afraid to kill us or imprison us as we wage our war against environmentally damaging capitalism. They have practically infinite resources to use in this war for Earth Liberation. They have a great number of military-trained personnel armed with automatic weapons, electronic stun devices, tear gas, body armor, and other goodies to deploy against us. Our lives, our rights, and our beliefs mean NOTHING at all to the governments of the world. We are their enemy, and they will stop at nothing to utterly annihilate us. Why should we, the underdog and the right, care about their lives?
When a corporate executive of a big lumber company decides to call the government for help in defending his office and his home from ELF direct action, the government sends armed juggernauts to stand guard and terminate any perceived threats. I personally see no wrong in ending the pathetic lives of the pigs AND that feebleminded corporate executive. If they fire at me while all I’m doing is spray-painting the CEO’s gas-guzzling SUV, then I WILL fire back.
I know what I say is controversial and bound to piss someone off. But please, don’t direct your just wrath towards me. I am a brethren of the cause. I am a fellow Child of Gaia. Take that rage and point it at a legitimate target. Boise-Cascade? Huntingdon Life Sciences? Your local police department? The target is your choice, but please, for the love of Mother Earth, don’t let sappy Leftist morals stand in between you and a good, solid anti-authoritarian and anti-civilization message to those in power.
Rev. Randy Tarl Howells #65002
IMSI A-20 P.O. Box 51
Boise, Idaho 83707
Morality Is Morality
I hoped to write a full-length article on this subject, but decided that a letter might be more appropriate since my thoughts are not yet as developed as I had wished. Maybe this can be a springboard for a lengthier discussion within these pages. I want to put forth a controversial comparison – controversial at least in radical circles, since the general comparison of “extremism” is probably common in most of the mainstream – between many animal liberationists and anti-abortionists, specifically the militant wings of these movements. My issue with both groups is not on the extremity of their actions, since I feel that direct action (property destruction, sabotage, arson, etc) with a specific goal is tactically more effective and ultimately more meaningful than the symbolic and mediated methods (protest, petitioning, lobbying) of action. What concerns me, and what connects these two groups, is the morality guiding them. Don’t get me wrong, personally I feel great when animals are freed from the torturous conditions of vivisection facilities and factory farms or when buildings which perpetuate animal abuse are destroyed. In addition, I have much respect for the courage ALFers have in taking such actions. And, I certainly have no love for those who target abortion clinics and the people who help women to obtain abortions. Unfortunately most people are still reliant on these medical institutions and until this knowledge and responsibility can be reclaimed by more women, abortion clinics are much needed resources in our communities. It is the morality, the “I am doing, and will do, whatever is necessary for WHAT IS RIGHT” attitude which guides many of these actions that disturbs me. Morality is morality, regardless of how I may feel about the actions, or some of the other personal motivations behind them.
I personally feel that the distinction of personal ethics – those flexible concepts and ideas which help inform our actions without any overarching right or wrong element– is a healthier and less dogmatic way of approaching the world. Without opening a huge can of worms here, morality, or the acceptance of a universal good and evil, allows for a huge range of horrific behaviors and actions, from the psychological to the physical (but morality can also limit the actions we take). This is a major distinction between the actions anarchists might take, and the actions of a fundamentalist (Christian, Muslim, or Leftist). For anyone to define the “morally correct” way to protect life, is to submit themselves to a theology or ideology, and is contradictory to liberation. What does this mean for animal liberationists? To start, a re-thinking in attitude, motivations, and rhetoric. These same criticisms can be said of many eco-warriors, anarchists, or anyone engaged in altering their world. It does make things more complicated, and I’m not sure what this might look like, but I think what it begins to look like is the primacy on our own enthusiasm for unbound freedom, and not the moralistic messengers and foot-soldiers that plague our world by trying to “save us”.
Yours in spontaneous and unmediated revolt,
Kafka’s Despair and Nihilism
Dear Green Anarchy,
Kafka’s politics is that of despair and nihilism and, far from “implying that these power structures can be targeted and overcome if they are first understood”, Kafka makes repeatedly clear that he believes that these shadowy power structures are totally incomprehensible and fully integrated into the structure of our society such that we may only come across the low level representatives of these structures such as in “The Trial” and then by mere chance. I am inclined to disagree that the machinations in place are “of themselves” and exist for no other purpose. The purpose is simply beyond comprehension to the characters, it is nothing more than that. The implication is that an undesirable individual to the ruling classes, to the “high judges”, can be eliminated without due explanation of what it is that is undesirable. It could very well be a powerful enemy within the Bank. The alienation in capitalist society is not shown to be meaningless, merely a shadowy tool yet still a tool and therefore meaningful. I do not hope to express Kafka’s actual beliefs and opinions but as a critique within itself I do not believe that it is anarchist in nature, but expresses common alienations in capitalist society. Lets not forget, Kafka was in the social position of a minor bureaucrat himself and as such the paper system would necessarily seem meaningless. He was neither the explicit victim nor arbitrator but merely an operative. He saw the workers being trampled but their struggles were as alien to him as his own function.
that’s ma 2 cents
Social or Collective “Momentum”
Hello, GA friends,
At the request of one of the editors of GA, I read Felonious Skunk’s “Contribution to Momentum Against Civilization”. As I suspected, the article relies on a wordplay (etymologically, “momentum” is simply the Latin word for “movement”). This is not a problem in itself. Wordplay can lead to a clearer use of language. But in this case I don’t feel it does, in part because F. Skunk uses his scientific metaphor somewhat inaccurately, opposing momentum to movement. In physics, momentum is an attribute of movement, so the question of what this movement is remains. And that question is ignored in the article.
Accepting this opposition leads to a misunderstanding of those who may use a different language and, thus, a misrepresentation of certain perspectives. F. Skunk believes that there are anti-civilization anarchists who support “movement building”, and he wants to counter this. I have yet to encounter these anti-civilization movement-builders and doubt they exist. F. Skunk’s confusion seems to arise from the fact that certain individuals (myself among them) use the term “social movement”. But in my own writings, I have always distinguished social movements – which arise when people’s rage against being dispossessed, dominated and exploited creates an impetus to rebellion that begins to take on social dimensions – from political movements – which attempt to either channel social movements into narrow ideological confines or replace them altogether. What F. Skunk refers to as “movement” is what I refer to as “political movement” and reject. What he refers to as “momentum” includes what I refer to as “social movement”, but also includes individual acts of rebellion that those of us who despise the civilized order carry out on our own and with a few others we trust even when we see no evidence of a social movement of revolt. Used in this way, the concept of momentum may be useful in the sense of continuing the momentum of our own revolt regardless of what is happening on a larger scale. I certainly don’t want to wait for large-scale insurgence before acting on my desire to revolt against a way of living that I hate. But sometimes when rebels lose track of the potential for social revolt, they fall into a self-righteousness based as much on a belief in their own “correctness” as that of the promoters of political movements. The ascetic on her platform of purity is as dogmatic as the evangelist proclaiming his faith on the street corners. It doesn’t matter whether we call the larger scale tendencies toward revolt that arise “social movements”, a social or collective “momentum” to revolt or any other term. The question I asked in my essay “Autonomous Self-Organization and Anarchist Intervention” still remains: How do we anarchists, who have specific ideas of how this society operates and how to fight against it, intertwine our rebellion with the rebellions of those who may not have such ideas, who are rebelling in response to immediate circumstances, without falling into the role of politicians presenting a program? Having been in situations where social rage began to burn, and not being satisfied with the limits of my own minor acts of rebellion in these situations (since these acts do not in themselves prevent the various politicians and community leaders from channeling such rage into safe, meaningless non-action dependent upon the institutions), this is not a question I can ignore. My own desire to tear down this despicable order moves me to confront this question.
F. Skunk’s article may offer another way of talking about certain questions, but it doesn’t eradicate those questions. Serious discussion of these questions is what we most need now.
For the conscious, creative destruction of civilization,
everything must burn!
this is what i have to say, an open letter to the dying world. a desperately tortured scream for those who scream along with me. you know that everything, everywhere is rotten and molested to falsity. lies within lies. you can either suffer alone, in secret or we can suffer openly together and try to stop our suffering, but you can never convince yourself that your suffering is not deep and constant, no matter how hard you try. everyone spends most of their energy pretending to be okay and suffers alone... what a fucken tragedy. nothing will ever change until you have the courage to admit that everything is fucked to death by this rotten ass system – not capitalism, racism, sexism, homophobia, speciesism etc., but all of it together and more... hate us if you will – we are here to fuel your hatred, disappointment and despair in the hope that you’ll stop taking this shit. we long for anything that furthers and quickens the decay of civilization. we are the future, and we know that there is no future. it’s been rotting since the beginning. abandon everything before it’s too late. you’re either with us or against yourself. everything must burn!
A Few Questions
In my opinion, your latest issue (#19 Spring 05') is your best so far. Particularly amazing to me was your expansive and intimate articles and updates from all over the world. Ones I liked the most were, “The Evershifting Terrain of Creative Destruction,” “Indigenous Anarchism,” “Paleolithic People Survive Tsunami Waves,” “Resistance from the Tropics,” “Primal Guerilla Warfare” and “Resistance Without Reservation.” All of them overflowing with inspiration! A few questions though, how come Aragorn! insists on “Indigenous Anarchism” as opposed to Indigenous Anarchy. I thought there was interest in moving away from the sort of ideological baggage of AnarchISM and into a dialogue of AnarchY which may or may not choose to embrace principles of AnarchISM. Don’t get me wrong, the essay was wonderfully written and the ending paragraph left me with much to think about. My other disagreement was with Dave A’s article on Jacques Camatte. Another excellent analysis, but I don’t agree that GA/AP types have a “non-dialectic view of history.” What about Fredy Perlman’s “Against History, Against Levaithan!”? I felt that Perlman showed that humanity is always in constant struggle against civilization and that life-affirming moments are rooted in resistance. Just my two cents. Thank you GA for all of the creative energy you put into this project, I’ll try and lend as much support as I can.
Looking At Surveillance Cameras
Better late than never, we have seen Green Anarchy#16 (Winter 2004), which contained “Lights, Camera, Action! Destroying Video Surveillance Cameras as an Act of Rewilding.” Written by “The Grievous Amalgam” (TGA). This article lays out a strong opposition to the use of surveillance cameras in both public and private places. As a result, we welcome it. Nevertheless, this article includes a number of very serious mistakes, some of which are practical; others are theoretical. TGA reduces video surveillance cameras down to Closed Circuit Television (CCTV), without seeming to realize that not all video surveillance cameras are part of “closed” systems. Some of them—the wireless cameras—are part of Open Circuit Television (OCTV)systems. There are important differences between the two: while CCTV cameras do not add to the growing amount of microwave pollution that is all around us, OCTV cameras do; and while the signals in CCTV systems can only be accessed if someone has access to one of its cables, and thus are fairly “secure,” OCTV signals can be accessed by anyone with a certain type of antennae and receiver, and thus are highly “insecure.”
TGA also reduces video surveillance systems to the “Panopticon,” a term from the 18th century that Michel Foucault tried to popularize in Discipline and Punish, and makes the same mistakes that Foucault makes. According to Foucault, “the major effect of the Panopticon” is “to induce in the inmate a state of conscious and permanent visibility that assures the automatic functioning of power,” which can be accomplished by arranging things so that “the surveillance is permanent in its effects, even if it is discontinuous in its action; that the perfection of power should lead to render its actual exercise unnecessary; that this architectural apparatus should be a machine for creating and sustaining a power relation independent of the person who exercises it; in short, that the inmates should be caught up in a power situation of which they are themselves the bearers.”
Foucault goes on to say:
“In view of this, Bentham laid down the principle that power should be visible and unverifiable. Visible: the inmates will constantly have before his [sic] eyes the tall outline of the central tower from which he is spied upon. Unverifiable: the inmate must never know whether he is being looked at at any one moment; but he must be sure that he may always be so.”
As we pointed out in an essay on poker, some—enough—of the people who know or suspect that they might be watched constantly do not become “anxious,” do not voluntarily curtail or cease their criminal behavior, do not get “caught up” in the “power situation.” Instead, undeterred, they treat this situation like it was a game, a game of poker: they suspect the other player (the watcher) is bluffing or they engage in bluffs of their own.
They constantly experiment: can I get away with it? When did I get away with it? Can I get away with it again? And, if no one is watching, they will try to get away with it all the time. Furthermore, even if they are in fact being watched all the time, some will become “players,” that is, will perform for the watchers, and thus demonstrate the facts that being watched isn’t enough and that, if “Big Brother” truly wants to be a tyrant, he won’t be able to do it easily or cheaply; he will have to exert force; he will have to get his hands dirty, even bloody.
This brings us (has already brought us) to our last point. TGA writes that, “For every new strategy of social control on the part of the State, there is a novel and surprising tactic of negation, and for every video surveillance camera installed, there is a complimentary form of resistance, of subversion.” We agree wholeheartedly, and believe that, for the last nine years, we have practiced such a tactic: that is, performing anti-surveillance plays directly in front of these cameras. But there is nothing novel or surprising about the single tactic mentioned by TGA, who is only interested in physically destroying the cameras. “Destroy what destroys you!” TGA proclaims.
Quite predictably, even though we are also anarchists, TGA doesn’t make any reference to us or our highly publicized actions. The message seems clear: if you do not engage in physical destruction, you are not an anarchist. But we are anarchists who simply see things differently from you: if you destroy what destroys you, you will only destroy yourself; but if you detourn (divert) what destroys you, you will be able to re-create yourself.
The Surveillance Camera Players (New York City)
Rewilding White Guilt ?
Dear Green Anarchy,
I’m white and, like Skunkly, don’t have much experience with indigenous resistance to civilization, but I found “Practical Rewilding” to be overly white-guilt driven and thus disgustingly altruistic. White privilege does exist, but his equation is overly simplistic and essentialist, lumping all white people together despite major differences between ethnic groups and how they controlled or were controlled.
Yes, finding an alliance within indigenous resistance has its benefits and it might even be the desire of some individuals to embrace this alliance as individuals, but I certainly hope that Skunkly didn’t inspire anyone into such alliances by moralizing them into it. Skunkly’s trip exposed a desire to rewild, but very quickly I found that Skunkly didn’t try to rewild for himself, but rather developed a quasi-ideology that white people specifically should embrace. Skunkly notes that we (white people) would benefit from learning rewilding skills from native peoples, that we would be helping “ourselves” (white people) because of our (whites and natives) blanket interests in striving for “social justice, resisting global forces of destruction, defending wild lands” and simply trying to live better through this racial(-ist) alliance.
Skunkly’s position is further clarified by an explanation of his personal experiences in this area, which only reveal his economic privileges rather than convincing me that I, as a white person, am benefiting from life enough to feel responsible for another race’s oppression. Sorry, Skunkly, in the minivan of life you are riding shotgun while I’m in the foldout backseat. I don’t sympathize with your position of white(-guilt) power, even if the minivan is whizzing by natives as they are broken down along the highway.
Rewilding, simply put, is something we should do for our own reasons and we (individuals) should feel angry about the domination and misery that civilization perpetuates against us, not guilty over societal privileges we have no control in.
High Priest Wombat,
Behind Predator’s Iron Doors
I let this feather go upon the spirit of the winds. It carries with it my utmost love and respect to you and to the left and right of you as well. I am sitting behind the “predator’s” iron doors and four walls. With the creature smiling down upon me and my iron journey will be coming to the beginning of its end in June. I was brought into the enlightenment of your paper Green Anarchy by another Nawoj brother as a native to the cause of the struggle, despite the hardship, I was glad to be brought to the circle of our brother’s & sister’s struggle of the Red Nation. SoI send this talking paper requesting your assistance on how to get on your mail list. I do not have much but what I do have I will send if and when I can. I am only wanting to remain connected to the struggle as we struggle behind these walls.
P.O. Box 954
Sacaton, AZ 85247
Are You All Delusional?
I assume that “Editor” is the proper address but in lieu of anything better, I will so address you. Are all of you who subscribe to and read this rag “Delusional”? Who in their right mind would telegraph the “Hit” in such as obvious manner? It appears to me that you are all sitting in your preppy dream penthouses; smoking god only knows what, until you’re so full of yourselves that you have to put it in print or explode.
Get it through you thick skulls and into your fried brains that the average person follows the path of least resistance until it takes them and everyone they know right off cliff. No one ever passes up comfort for cold, hunger, and real work! No one will willingly step foot out of their air-conditioned B.M.W. unless or until there is something they perceive as better or necessary waiting there for them. Mr. and Mrs. Couch Potato will sit and watch reruns of “Married With Children” or “Monday Night Football” until their fat asses get so big their hearts explode. Any of them who might agree with you would never get past the first paragraph of your first article because they haven’t been educated with an Ivy League mind.
Get real folks. Ted Kaczynski was one in 6 billion! Your target audience doesn’t need to be spoken down to. They need your info presented in a manner they can understand using words, terms, and concepts that fit into their small but beautiful anarchist minds.
Tom Manning, who is a wonderful man, is also one in 6 billion who acted but understood a higher level. Byron Shaw Chubbuck, who is also here at Leavenworth with me, was one to act on his emotions and who understood there was a better way but Byron Shaw Chubbuck (OsoBlanco) (Oso) could never be so eloquent as your publication. His vocabulary is that of a high school dropout. But he leads an army. If you truly wanted to progress your agenda you would focus your articles to this market. Come down out of the clouds and talk to the people.
Don’t get me wrong. I appreciate everything you are doing and maybe you have a firmer grasp on reality that I give you credit for, but I spent three weeks reading your articles aloud and then explaining them to Oso’s friends.
Unfortunately, once someone receives a copy of your rag they are automatically on a list. Maybe that’s the plan. Are you a government agency looking for leads? Sound paranoid? Well I have a good friend who gives sound advice. Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they aren’t looking. Maybe if Ted had been one of your subscribers the Feds would have caught him a long time ago. Remember, those who act, can’t be known. Those who are known can’t act. Ted was smart enough to realize that until he was so consumed he finally had to publish. We all know where that got him.
I guess what I’m trying to say is this. You’d do well to set up distributors who sell openly but don’t act. Then your words of inspiration can be read anonymously but you still make a buck. Those who subscribe are out of the game for good. If they’re smart, all they will do is watch.
Practical Rewilding: Facing the False Self - On The Practice of Emotional and Spiritual Rewilding, by Rubus and Terra
A Wildroots Column about Feral Living
The subject of a practical rewilding experience is deep and broad, like the diversity of earth-based lifeways, and the ecologies of different parts of the earth. Most of us are still children re-learning how to live as human animals. At our land-project in Southern Appalachia, we largely focus on disentangling ourselves from civilization and learning to rewild ourselves, both physically and emotionally. Since we’ve collaborated before (the Rewilding primer, for example), it made sense for us to continue in this tradition of helping bring a consistent focus on practical rewilding, or “feral praxis” to Green Anarchy, through this new column. There are countless topics that could be addressed in this regular column, much of which we have far less experience with than others, so we hope to draw on the experiences and knowledge of many in future columns. In this way, we are simply facilitating this column. In each issue, we will explore a different aspect of practical and/or personal experiences, pertinent to the particular issue’s theme. If you have any ideas or contributions, please contact us through Green Anarchy or at email@example.com
Going Feral: Escaping our Domestication
To “go feral” is to literally escape from domestication. Having been domesticated, we are trying to unlearn it and live free, but we can never be truly “wild”. We are distinctly different from beings who were born and raised within the web of life, in which no one species dominates, and where reciprocity and organic, self-organization are the norm. However physically free we manage to become from industrialism and mass society, we are psychologically – even subconsciously – influenced by our experience of domestication, and will always carry certain behaviors and perceptions that we developed in our domestication process.
Like neurotic caged circus animals, we pace in front of the bars. As all organisms do under stress, we adapt to our conditions. Interstate to interstate, paycheck to paycheck, headline to headline, we adapt to our surroundings. But we are always living under the condition of stress. If not physically, amidst toxic water, food, medicine, soil and air...then socially, amidst patriarchal programming and its moralism and sexual repression, surplus hoarding, and its armed extension: colonization.
Psychically, “the spectacle” infects our subconscious with the “thingification” of our selves and our daily experiences and interactions. Emotionally, we are left out cold and hungry for love and acceptance from an early age. We learn from observing others’ coping mechanisms, and shield our pain with defensive posturing. Spiritually, our relationships with the circle of life in which we live are mechanized by the dogma of Progress and Industrialism, so that we forget how interconnected we are with all the life forms on the planet.
This desensitization allows us to justify our participation in our own extinction, and it shows up in our disrespect for each other. We dehumanize each other, making assumptions and boiling people down into simplistic categories, to be easily discarded like the “resources” we use up so casually. Social scenes and all their gossip and politicking help us maintain our own, and everyone else’s image, keeping us all under control. We bolster our own defenses against each other whenever possible, competing for approval and status like there’s not enough to go around. This scarcity of approval can be traced back to our childhoods, which so often lacked real physical intimacy and nurturance, or encouragement and acceptance.
As progress marches onward, we fit ourselves into whatever constrictive roles and molds that are offered to us in order to be officially recognized. Our self-domestication reaches new depths, as we surrender our intuition and empathy to the manipulations and rationalizations of our minds.
As we see reflected in the pages of Green Anarchy, the practice of destroying Civilization and reconnecting with life happens on multiple levels, simultaneously. Physical confrontation with the machinery of Civilization, and physical rewilding through earthskills and earth-based lifestyles, are often emphasized as Anti-Civ praxis. But on a personal level, rewilding ourselves emotionally and spiritually also presents a serious challenge to a lifetime of indoctrination, and endless possibilities for self-discovery and heightened self-awareness.
The “false self”
Emotional recovery from Civilization will be a lifelong process for many of us. This is something not to feel discouraged by, but to take comfort and courage in our common experience as domesticated humans going feral. The other options definitely don’t seem too appealing: spend a lifetime in denial, distracted by our own indulgences in materialism, entertainment, and drugs, eventually have a nervous breakdown and/or commit suicide...you know the rest. So here we are, knee-deep in the deconstruction of our “false selves” as Brad Blanton names the enemy of the individual in his book, Radical Honesty.
Civilization’s logic tells us to use our minds to create an image of ourselves to project to the social world around us. This image protects our self from directly experiencing the emotional trauma we live with daily, and keeps others from seeing the self we ourselves are avoiding. Others project their “false selves” to us as well, and together we all support each others’ self-denial.
According to Blanton, “We conceal ourselves because we fear that the pain accompanying the act of self-disclosure will literally destroy us, or fundamentally damage our being in some horrible way. In addition, we fear we may destroy others with our truth-telling.”
We need others to play their roles as well. When emotions or fears are provoked, our minds rush to protect our image of ourselves. Rather than be reminded of the realness and rawness of direct, open interaction, we often avoid personal contact, opting for emails and phone messages instead of getting to the heart of the matter.
Blanton continues, “The ability to ‘get naked’ in front of other people who are still in their roles is important. Coming out from behind our roles permits us to look behind the roles of others. Because we can see more clearly, the threat of other people, posing in their roles, fades. Coming off it, dropping the roles we thought we needed for protection, turns out to be not only safe, but a place of power.”
The unmasking of ourselves starts in our own relationship to ourselves. But often it is through human relationships that we have the opportunity to share and express this self-awareness. We test our comfort levels and courageously push through uncomfortable feelings and insecurities. Sometimes finding this courage leads to greater levels of self-respect and self-worth, the lack of which lie at the root of much of our dissatisfaction with life.
Decivilizing the ways in which we communicate with other humans means discovering ways of interacting that feel direct and real, that achieve mutual empathy, and ultimately that lead to personal growth for everyone involved. As so many new possibilities require, this process also inevitably involves a negation of the habits and behaviors we’ve acquired as coping mechanisms for alienated life. Creating space within relationships and communities for the unfolding of this whole process is essential for mental, emotional and spiritual health. At times, it can be helpful to have loose formats or frameworks, tools and visions for this exploration, and they need to be organic enough to adapt to the variety of contexts in which we live, work and play.
The Talking Circle
“When imbalance arises and there is a need to discuss issues or make decisions, a Talking Circle is often called. At other times a Talking Circle may be held when People feel no more than a general desire to share personal truths. It is a respectful way of sharing that allows every individual’s truth to be spoken, and heard.”
Earth based peoples have often used the Talking Circle format for group communication, and it endures today in communities focused on rewilding. One variation is described in Tamarack Song’s new book, Sacred Speech-The Way of Truthspeaking, and practiced at Teaching Drum Outdoor School: Beginning with and ending with a group ritual like hand holding and a moment of silence, a “talking stick” is passed around the circle, beginning with the person who calls the circle. When one is speaking, there are no interruptions. Attentiveness is key, and each speaker must be completely heard. Negative body language or mutterings are considered disrespectful of the format.
When the circle has been completed, the first speaker asks if everyone has spoken their truth. If not, the stick goes around again, and again if needed, until all have felt heard. Anyone may pass the stick without speaking. There is no agenda, though there may be issues suggested at the beginning, and they can be discussed one by one. If all issues aren’t discussed before everyone’s restless, another circle is called for a later date. Consensus may be achieved, or it may not seem desirable or necessary. Rather than trying to “resolve” or “mediate” conflict and controversy, anger and resentment are simply brought to the surface. Communicating these feelings often results in a kind of a disarming of the passive-aggressiveness and hostility that can create tension in communities.
Interestingly, so much of our pent up anger and feelings of resentment come more from not feeling heard by each other than the actual conflicts themselves. Conflicts often arise when someone’s behaviors or actions trigger unexpressed, or unacknowledged feelings in someone else. These feelings are sometimes based on fears or anxieties that have nothing to do with the people involved in the conflict. Getting to the root of these fears, and respectfully expressing them to those with whom you live or work, can change dynamics drastically in one moment.
In Sacred Speech, Tamarack offers the Talking Circle as a way we can practice what he calls “Truthspeaking”. He credits his native teachers with awakening what he considers a lost consciousness common to all humans. Like Blanton’s “radical honesty”, speaking one’s truth is the key to living in the present, and letting go of attachment, judgement, regret, resentment, expectation, and fear: all the psychological neuroses that keep us miserable.
Our culture’s obsession with mental rationalizations for every emotion or sensation, has led us to the brink of insanity. It’s not enough to know this and simply accept the loss of ourselves. What seems like a powerless situation can be remedied by the simple act of reaching through the fog of alienation to vocalize the secrets and fears that we hide behind. Once we realize that we are all recovering from this near self-loss together, we can start to empathize with each other’s behaviors and roles. We can start helping each other escape from the prison of our minds.
“The being within which the mind resides yearns for freedom. The mind resists freedom. Freedom is antithetical to mind...The main thing that can free a person from his or her mind is telling the truth. Telling the truth is always interpreted by the mind as a threat to its security. When people think that who they are is their mind, they feel like they are committing suicide when they start telling the truth. It scares the shit out of them. And they are committing suicide in away. What dies in telling the truth is the false self, the image projection we have presented to the world. All real suicides, where people really died, were the result of a battle between being and mind. In those cases, the mind won.”
—Brad Blanton, Radical Honesty
Tamarack Song - Sacred Speech-The Way of Truthspeaking
Brad Blanton - Radical Honesty: How to transform your life by telling the truth
Garfield, Spring and Cahill - Wisdom Circles: A Guide to Self-discovery and community building in small groups
The Nihilist's Dictionary: #5–Division of Labor, by John Zerzan
Di-vi-sion of la-bor n. 1. the breakdown into specific, circumscribed tasks for maximum efficiency of output which constitutes manufacture; cardinal aspect of production. 2. The fragmenting or reduction of human activity into separated toil that is the practical root of alienation; that basic specialization which makes civilization appear and develop.
The relative wholeness of pre-civilized life was first and foremost an absence of the narrowing, confining separation of people into differentiated roles and functions. The foundation of our shrinkage of experience and powerlessness in the face of the reign of expertise, felt so acutely today, is the division of labor. It is hardly accidental that key ideologues of civilization have striven mightily to valorize it. In Plato’s Republic, for example, we are instructed that the origin of the state lies in that “natural” inequality of humanity that is embodied in the division of labor. Durkheim celebrated a fractionated, unequal world by divining that the touchstone of “human solidarity,” its essential moral value is – you guessed it. Before him, according to Franz Borkenau, it was a great increase in division of labor occurring around 1600 that introduced the abstract category of work, which may be said to underlie, in turn, the whole modern, Cartesian notion that our bodily existence is merely an object of our (abstract) consciousness.
In the first sentence of The Wealth of Nations (1776), Adam Smith foresaw the essence of industrialism by determining that division of labor represents a qualitative increase in productivity. Twenty years later Schiller recognized that division of labor was producing a society in which its members were unable to develop their humanity. Marx could see both sides: “as a result of division of labor,” the worker is “reduced to the condition of a machine.” But decisive was Marx’s worship of the fullness of production as essential to human liberation. The immiseration of humanity along the road of capital’s development he saw as a necessary evil.
Marxism cannot escape the determining imprint of this decision in favor of division of labor, and its major voices certainly reflect this acceptance. Lukacs, for instance, chose to ignore it, seeing only the “reifying effects of the dominant commodity form” in his attention to the problem of proletarian consciousness. E.P. Thompson realized that with the factory system, “the character-structure of the rebellious pre-industrial labourer or artisan was violently recast into that of the submissive individual worker.” But he devoted amazingly little attention to division of labor, the central mechanism by which this transformation was achieved. Marcuse tried to conceptualize a civilization without repression, while amply demonstrating the incompatibility of the two. In bowing to the “naturalness” inherent in division of labor, he judged that the “rational exercise of authority” and the “advancement of the whole” depend upon it – while a few pages later (in Eros and Civilization) granting that one’s “labor becomes the more alien the more specialized the division of labor becomes.”
Ellul understood how “the sharp knife of specialization has passed like a razor into the living flesh,” how division of labor causes the ignorance of a “closed universe” cutting off the subject from others and from nature. Similarly did Horkheimer sum up the debilitation: “thus, for all their activity individuals are becoming more passive; for all their power over nature they are becoming more powerless in relation to society and themselves.” Along these lines, Foucault emphasized productivity as the fundamental contemporary repression.
But recent Marxian thought continues in the trap of having, ultimately, to elevate division of labor for the sake of technological progress. Braverman’s in many ways excellent Labor and Monopoly Capital explores the degradation of work, but sees it as mainly a problem of loss of “will and ambition to wrest control of production from capitalist hands.” And Schwabbe’s Psychosocial Consequences of Natural and Alienated Labor is dedicated to the ending of all domination in production and projects a self-management of production. The reason, obviously, that he ignores division of labor is that it is inherent in production; he does not see that it is nonsense to speak of liberation and production in the same breath.
The tendency of division of labor has always been the forced labor of the interchangeable cog in an increasingly autonomous, impervious-to-desire apparatus. The barbarism of modern times is still the enslavement to technology, that is to say, to division of labor. “Specialization,” wrote Giedion, “goes on without respite,” and today more than ever can we see and feel the barren, de-eroticized world it has brought us to. Robinson Jeffers decided, “I don’t think industrial civilization is worth the distortion of human nature, and the meanness and loss of contact with the earth, that it entails.”
Meanwhile, the continuing myths of the “neutrality” and “inevitability” of technological development are crucial to fitting everyone to the yoke of division of labor. Those who oppose domination while defending its core principle are the perpetuators of our captivity. Consider Guattari, that radical post-structuralist, who finds that desire and dreams are quite possible “even in a society with highly developed industry and highly developed public information services, etc.” Our advanced French opponent of alienation scoffs at the naïve who detect the “essential wickedness of industrial societies,” but does offer the prescription that “the whole attitude of specialists needs questioning.” Not the existence of specialists, of course, merely their “attitudes.”
To the question, “How much division of labor should we jettison?” returns, I believe, the answer, “How much wholeness for ourselves and the planet do we want?”
The Nihilist’s Dictionary was originally a regularly running column in Anarchy: A Journal of Desire Armed over ten years ago. The entire dictionary can be found towards the end of John’s book, Future Primitive (Autonomedia/Anarchy), and in a zine format available from our distro.
Dust in the Wind, by Mysteria
I am an ever-changing, shape-shifting, undifferentiated (except, to the surgeon’s scalpel or scientist’s scope; neither I trust) fusion of particles I ingest, absorb, inhale, and allow in that come from other infinitely re-forming amalgamations that shat, pissed, cum, vomited, shed, decomposed, spit, exhaled...on and on and on. Infinite. Eternal. Immortal.
Sometimes, I imagine each particle carries (but not by physics formula, especially quantum) an essence–unique. Perhaps it even accumulates essence from all it has been a part of or inproximity to (though not in the geographic sense) in its tumbling, traveling dance with life. I occasionally ponder the idea that when those uncountable entities enter into my own, their essence is added (though not mathematically) to what was already here. That the whole of my existence is temporary, yet infused with all that ever was, all that is now and (perhaps) all that will ever be, seems, well—almost obvious. Infinite. Eternal. Immortal.
The unique creation that is ‘I’ is vibrantly alive alongside all other entities in the continuum called life. I often connect with other life-mixes in a deep and meaningful way that defies logical, reasoned, rational explanation. Coincidence, déjà vu, extrasensory perception, dreams, visions, magic, instinct, intuition, and that special understanding (not in the learned kind) I share with one or another that needs no words seem as those small voices (not in the oral sense) whispering on the poet’s wind. Voices of times past, experiences gathered, entities merged and separated; in an organic, chaotic, symbiotic anarchy. The dance of the wild, uniquely manifested. At times the wisdom (not of the bookish implication) of the ages seems present in the smallest existence and experience and I am reminded of the horrors of human Progress that have denied me this in full.
It seems that this spirit others talk about so much these days (too often with a cleric’s tone) might be that essence I grok in lively things. But I get confused because I don’t have a path or a practice related to it as others have to their spirit (much less a religious practice, though the distinction between practice and religion eludes me most of the time). I can’t imagine what purpose, what goal such an intent would serve, much less what a physically-bound/intellectually-stimulated/specialist-developed practice could do that a prolonged moment of stillness, lying bare on the earth, inhaling and absorbing life’s essence, sensing (not in the 5 or even 6th division way) and reinvigorating my wholeness—could not. I have no void to fill, no aspect of my being I want to transcend. If I am a seeker at all, it is for that elusive wholeness—stolen. I love (not in the Hallmark way) living and the totality of me. All I need is to be unencumbered, detangled, and disconnected from all that stands in my way of dancing freely—before my time (not the clock kind) to shift arrives.
That which is ‘I’ is but naught but a speck in the whole of everything. Just as surely as I am living, ‘I’ am also dying (and so are you). It often seems this notion of transcending is borne of a fear of the death of the ‘I’ that rarely experiences an exuberance, trapped in a machine (in every sense of that technologic atrocity) existence that splits us into smaller and smaller differentiated identifiable matter directed into its appropriate purpose.
I have little fear left of leaving this ‘I’, but this does not stop my instinct for living. That which is ‘I’ will end in some tangible way in its own space and time (not in a clock or calendar counting). Memories of me in others will continue and so in a way ‘I’ go on. Perhaps as I touched others and others touched me, an essence merged to became a living but slowly fading reminiscence. It often frightens others when I talk about looking forward (without tempting an early arrival) to that moment when all that is now rendered as ‘I’ transitions to something new. I want to be whole in that moment (not a material dying/spirit ascending Ultimate split), so that which is ‘I’ will experience a transitioning in a glorious blaze of ecstasy and all that makes up the ‘I’ is carried in the wind to invigorate what is touched or bound (gently) to next. (But even that desire carries too much of that ‘I’ ego, I suspect).
Some days, when all is silent (that is, minus the techno-human cacophony) and the hawk’s wings flap so close overhead they are all I hear, it seems I may have heard the sound a spirit-essence would make. I always smile and feel a certain thrilling calm come over me. But these are all just so many meanderings of a restless, aging, fool of a human caught in a mechanized, industrialized turmoil so massive I can hardly breathe. My movements often express my rage and a deep unspeakable sadness; too often overshadowing the equally (not by accountants’ formula) deep and unspeakable joy whose dance infuses all of meas well...I am not certain (by any technique) about this spirit-essence thing and I waste little time pondering it. But I would love the sound of wings in free flight to accompany me in the moment ‘I’ move on.
Don’t hang on, nothing lasts forever but the earth and sky
It slips away and all your money won’t another minute buy
Dust in the wind, everything is dust in the wind
Dust in the wind, all we are is dust in the wind
All we are is dust in the wind
–Kansas, Dust in the Wind
 I have focused on high school specifically instead of school generally not because there is any fundamental difference between elementary and secondary school, but because the methods of conditioning are intensified in the latter. It also helps that I currently find myself there.
 To be honest, the lack of a critique of school amongst so-called radicals does not surprise me in the slightest. In fact, the number of social democrats masquerading as revolutionaries who either apologize for high school or blatantly support it are no small few. An even larger number of solid comrades unfortunately just fall short of really understanding the domination of high school. To be fair though, one must take into account that many revolutionaries were not revolutionary during their high school years and as a result any retroactive critique of school will struggle to really appreciate the magnitude of its oppression.
 No matter how hard I look I can’t find, for example, wage slavery and the extraction of surplus value occurring within high school, although the preparation is clearly taking place. Could one posit that we produce value-to-be-realized every time we consume and regurgitate curricular thereby determining our future position in the capitalist mode of production?
 Needless to say, the infinite desires of the high school student – just like the rest of humanity – outside of the realm of inquiry are also mutilated and re-directed to serve the interests of capital. Our desire to play is replaced by the consumption of economic pseudo-pleasures and so forth.
 This scenario is all too real for me. I just recently lost a friend to the logic of high school who openly admitted that the pursuance of an alternative was simply too hard.
 In many cases young people cross this divide and can simply not endure the pain of high school any longer. We need to show that while suicide may expedite survival the only way to life is through the joyous revolt of desire.
 I draw a parallel between the pursuit of grades and the pursuit of value, as the former really is just one of civilization’s many value systems. Any qualitative richness that may miraculously arise during high school is always subordinated to quantitative success.
 While it may be true that the activity of high school students during school actually is identical in that they have a limited number of curricula to consume, the subjective responses are plethoric despite this standardization.
 I’m rather uncomfortable using the term education due to its prevailing connotations. Though there exist several dictionary definitions for education that do not imply an externally directed formal process.