Green Anarchy #21
An Anti-Civilization Journal of Theory and Action
The tide is out, the wind blows off the shore;
Bare burn the white sands in the scorching sun;
The sea complains, but its great voice is low.
Bitter thy woes, O People,
And the burden
Hardly to be borne!
Wearily grows, O People,
All the aching
Of thy pierced heart, bruised and torn!
But yet thy time is not,
And low thy moaning.
Desert thy sands!
Not yet is thy breath hot, Vengefully blowing;
It wafts o’er lifted hands.
The tide has turned; the vane veers slowly round;
Slow clouds are sweeping o’er the blinding light;
White crests curl on the sea—its voice grows deep.
Angry thy heart, O People!
And its bleeding
Fire-tipped with rising hate!
Thy clasped hands part, O People,
For thy praying Warmed not the desolate!
God did not hear thy moan:
Now it is swelling
To a great drowning cry;
A dark wind-cloud, a groan,
Now backward veering
From that deaf sky!
The tide flows in, the wind roars from the depths,
The whirled-White sand heaps with the foam-white waves;
Thundering the sea rolls o’er its shell-crunched wall!
Strong is thy rage, O People,
In its fury
Hurling thy tyrants down!
Thow metest wage, O People.
Very swiftly, Now that thy hate is grown:
Thy time at last is come;
Thou heapest anguish,
Where thou thyself wert bare!
No longer to thy dumb.
God clasped and kneeling.
Thou answerest thine own prayer
—Voltairine de Cleyre, The Hurricane
Santa Claus is Coming to Town, by Faith Stealer
He’s making a list
Checking it twice
He’s going to find out
Whose naughty or nice
Santa Claus is comin to town
Myths and stories serve as acceptable explanations for a life of increasing subjugation, a life disconnected from all that our imagination describes. Only dreams that stay within the realm of the masters’ ordered options can be considered viable. Consequently, fantasies repeat throughout history – updated throughout the march of civilization, ensuring a continuous supply of willing subjects who subvert and subdue their wildest dreams to function reasonably well in the death machine of Progress.
For a system of this magnitude to succeed, our complete domestication is required. That is, the Machine-masters’ rules must be unquestioned. Internalized. And most of the time we follow along. But obedience doesn’t come without significant doubts and varying degrees of resistance, so regularly scheduled reinforcement of this unnatural order is necessary. From fairy tales to pop music to blockbuster movies, the spectacle convincingly asserts (never explicitly, mind you) that our lives are both dependent on and in service to a special, powerful, and superior people. Elite who deserve to take what they want by force of will or army. Eventually their taking becomes our voluntary giving. It IS better to give then receive.
From the moment we first tried something new and were thwarted we learned our master was also our savior. From the parent who punishes us out of ‘love’, to the God who provides salvation if we are obedient, and eventually to the cops serving us with club and gun, we are FORCED to behave as we are told. If we do this well we are rewarded with symbols of success. If we do it poorly, we suffer in increasingly restrictive imprisonment.
Young children start life as the most free and the most resistant. They’ve not yet internalized the morality of master-slave, higher-lower, ruler-ruled, so the education system’s primary goal is to instill the dominant reality – we are not free to explore and experiment, to ‘fail’ or ‘succeed’ on our own terms. We learn very quickly (or not) that others know best and we’re rewarded for accepting this Truth or punished for testing its limits.
At the end of each year, the System presents a particularly enticing myth, tantalizing the slaves-in-waiting while reinforcing the masters’ expectations on the already trained. Christmas, now celebrated by nearly every modern society – Christian or not – offers a three-layered myth system of reward-punishment. First, is the Santa Claus. A jolly, generous, well-fed white man who shares the bounty – his elf-slaves – created with the deserving. With his supernatural powers and perfectly domesticated reindeer only HE can deliver the goods. Simultaneously, the cuddly baby Jesus tugs at the heartstrings of the saved and even of many of the dubious. Finally, woven throughout both savior myths, the ubiquitous Green and Red shines for everyone. Billions of green dollars are spent in the illusion that success, love, and happiness can be purchased. For a time, the rosy feeling of the season dissolves the red of the slave-wagers’ anger and blood, buried or shed in the daily grind of a rapidly breaking machine.
But the Santa and JesusGod, like all savior-masters, don’t trust us to do what is good and right. Furthermore, they don’t appreciate the discontent or rebellion implied in our long faces and misbehaviors. So, Santa (like God, parents, bosses and police) uses ‘supernatural’ powers to see what we’re up to.
He sees you when you’re sleeping
He knows when you’re awake
He knows if you’ve been bad or good
So be good For GOODNESS sake
Over time we learn that those eyes aren’t as all-seeing as we were led to believe. And whether we step over the good line ourselves or watch and cheer on others who walk outside the line, we appreciate getting over on the watchers, thinking we are getting over on the masters.
More of the citizenry is being naughty instead of nice. Because more of us are questioning, challenging, and refusing, the supernatural watchers are becoming the reality myths preconfigured. In every town and city surveillance cameras stare at us from street corners, schoolrooms, churches, libraries, offices, and factories. Microphones record our conversations in hotel lobbies, bank teller stalls, and cashier stands. Listening devices are placed on telephone lines and our words recorded to see who is casting doubts, who might be challenging the ruling order. While the Internet provides a means to launch such challenges, it also provides the easiest means yet for tracking the whispers of discontent. For the increasingly rare corners that the masters’ spy technology hasn’t (yet) reached, private police and watchful citizens launch their own investigations, in the feudal exchange for more privileges from the wardens. And the focus is expanded during the holyday period from November to January as more folks – many who can’t afford the symbols of the truly successful – take what they need or want. Making a list and checking it twice has never been quite so easy.
You better watch out
You better not cry
You better not pout
I’m telling you why
Santa Claus is coming to town
The Santa myth serves another purpose (systems serve multiple functions – efficiency rules). The immediate albeit temporary purpose that the Jesus (and other after-life saviors) gives permanence to but requires waiting for – in fact, requires dying for. That is to assuage our pains and frustrations; to give context to why we remain captive to a life that REVOLVES around producing what the masters want; consuming what is left over from that production; and spectating and speculating on the lives of those who have more or less, better or worse, harder or easier than we do. Ignoring the reality that by accepting the commodities our labor creates and the devastation all production causes, as we purchase the imitations that remind us that we can never have what the master has, we accept a slow and agonizing death. It is the death of spontaneity and of an authentically free life. It is our slow and agonizing death alongside all other living things inhabiting what has become, a production-consumption-prison planet.
The illusion of being free to choose our way of life is so thorough that most people believe they have access to all they want or need. They don’t question the fact that their options are limited to what the elite determine is acceptable. If they acknowledge limitations it is to see that the desired is just out of reach. And, if harder work can’t get it, they’re resigned to not being good enough to even want them.
Of course ‘radical’ activists ask some questions. But they rarely ask why we have masters at all. If they’re really ‘revolutionary’ they may suggest selecting new and kinder masters, push for more equitable distribution of the symbols of success. But, the green and the red still spreads thickly across the landscape of their Utopian visions.
We CAN choose differently – our free will extends far beyond the choices offered by the masters’ spectacular myths. The options for a free way of living are so expansive only our dreams hint at the possibilities while too often only our declining health and recurring angst announces our discontent. And only the fear of the unknown beyond the illusions prevents a leap beyond the artificial limits set at birth.
So yes, enjoy this holyday time – hell, enjoy every moment you can. Perhaps you’ll find a few moments when the house is quiet and the young ones sleep – waiting for gifts from the rich, white savior – and ponder the course of a life stripped of the gift of limitless wonder replaced with objects of value. Maybe you’ll reconnect to the reality that sharing and giving freely are the most pleasurable ways of ‘exchange’ (ultimately the reason this whole damned Santa/Christmas spectacle works so well) and that it does not require destruction and slavery.
Our possibilities for a healthy and liberated way of life require the destruction of the illusions reinforcing our subservience to a Master of all Things.
Kill Santa Claus, crucify Jesus (again). Quickly and decisively we’ll destroy the masters’ illusionary saviors and symbols of power, success, Progress. We have all we need within our grasp and – just for now – time is of the essence.
Several self-described radical institutions are celebrating organized longevity – Earth First, Food Not Bombs, and the Industrial Workers of the World – equating decades of ‘time in service’ with revolutionary possibility. Participants rarely question the oxymoronic nature of “radical” organizations that are bound by tradition and often rigidly identified with the ideals and activities of the founders. It seems the old saw, ‘the only thing constant is change’, doesn’t cut it for those whose ideology requires defending, whose perspective doesn’t shift as experience, awareness, and the chaos of life shifts.
But examples of this tendency abound; how many of us don’t or haven’t clung to hope, examples, models, or an idealized past or future to get us through to some ‘other side’ of discontent? Lingering for a time in one idea or project surely expresses solidarity or support; a temporary and limited unity with cohorts. But when do our activities constitute the promotion or advocacy of someone else’s actions?
These questions are being raised more frequently amongst radicals critiquing publications like Green Anarchy. While too much of what is touted as an intent towards dialog seems more of the same ‘the best defense is a good offense’ some questioners seem genuine and inviting enough to step in for a moment.
We publish writings from hundreds of individuals whose ideas, analysis, critique, or experiences seem relevant to an anti-civilization perspective. There is no rightness, no order, and no objective rules, morals, or imperatives we follow in selecting the content. We rarely know the writer’s ‘real’ name, much less their history or future. For those authors we do know more about, we consider where they are currently situated in relation to their writing under consideration. But, it is their words, not the whole of the person we are offering. We never fully agree with anything – much less everything any other person says or believes. That also seem oxymoronic for anarchists to expect!
We’re constantly changing; organically morphing as we mature (for lack of a better word) in our understanding of ourself, our place in the world, and our relationships with others. This is going to come quite naturally as we narrow one focus for a time, at others, opening it to new thoughts that appear unexpectedly. Often through others’ writings. We are pretty sure most thinking, open-minded radicals are doing so as well. If a contributor later becomes or is discovered to be a pig, a child molester, fascist, etc.– should we feel bad for having given their earlier ideas – that never reflect their darker tendencies – space in our magazine? We are a small editorial collective who – like most people opposed to the confines of the institutional mentality – struggles to articulate complex and controversial views that encompass uncountable and untraceable directions. Do we need permanent disclaimers, periodic apologies, and pre-allocated space for the back-forth defensive arguments that usually intend to solidify one point of view over another rather than to expand a mutual understanding. Which does not mean agreement!
We are in service to no one person, idea, or perspective and we’ll continue to offer writings according to the current and amorphous whims of the collective as influenced by the intelligent and exploratory commentary of readers who support a non-ideological discourse in anti-civilization theory and action.
— GA Collective
Welcome to Green Anarchy Issue #21 — Fall/Winter 2005-6
“And these children that you spit on… as they try to change their worlds… are immune to your consultations… they’re quite aware what they’re goin’ through.”
—David Bowie, Changes
Summer’s over and the inward time has crept up on us. As we embrace and revel in this period of plotting and reflection, this collective is going through some very exciting changes. Most significant perhaps, is that some of us have finally left Eugene (we’ll keep our critique of that particular scene out of it, for now). And some are taking a long-needed break. Don’t worry, there’s no big split or controversy for you to gossip about. All is (relatively) calm in the collective. We still love those we always have, and hate those we always will (sorry to be so definitive, it is really mostly for effect). This change will affect the project in different ways, hopefully primarily positive, although it will take adjusting and fine-tuning during the transitional period. The distribution will still be centered in Eugene, but much of the production will no longer occur in the once infamous “hotbed of anarchy”. With a key person remaining there, Eugene will surely remain a pivotal place for Green Anarchy, but a few of us have decided to relocate to a more rural area of Oregon. Our reasons are many, but the desire to live in a wilder environment closer to our visions is most important. Admittedly, while our own domestication (as well as this huge project) keeps us somewhat tied up in the mess of civilization, living more intimately in the forest and around people who have a deep connection to the earth is healthier for us to make our breaks, detoxify, re-learn, fight, and to live wilder lives. We are beside ourselves with delight. Perhaps this place of more strength and clarity will be even more inspiring to the pages of Green Anarchy. Give us an issue or two before you give us too much feedback on the effects of this particular change on the project. Please, still send your articles, letters, images, donations, subscriptions, questions, words of support, hate mail, etc to the usual address, as we have an intricate process (including wizards and dwarfs and underground tunnels) to get the right stuff to the right places and people (although slightly more patience would be appreciated since dwarfs have short legs and take a lot of days off to look for mushrooms and play with axes).
It is worth noting that another Feral Visions gathering has transpired with tremendous fruition, thanks to the folks at Wildroots (and friends). This year, it was in the astoundingly diverse bioregion of southern Appalachia, straddling the Tennessee and North Carolina border. Amidst the creeks, forests, hills, meadows, and summer rain of this region, we immersed ourselves in a collective rewilding process that I’m certain transformed all involved. This makes three years straight that the Black and Green Network has been able to get together a gathering focusing solely on anti-civilization theory and practice, and each year enthusiasm for the gathering and the general perspective increases, as well as becoming more serious, thoughtful, diversified, and down to earth. There is a more detailed write-up on the gathering on page 73 by the Wildroots Collective, but we thought we’d give a few of our criticisms, so as to strengthen a primarily positive annual event.
We were excited that this year’s gathering was more focused on primitive skills, DIY workshops, and practical rewilding than previous years, a reflection of those who were the primary organizers – people who immerse themselves in actually living a more feral existence day to day (in terms of food, shelter, and community), as opposed to prioritizing the philosophical, theoretical, and resistance end of things.
All of these elements are vital, and a balance of them is probably the healthiest and most effective approach, something we are all attempting to juggle. There was, however, a tendency by some to avoid the deeper theoretical and insurrectionary discussions. Perhaps this was because these talks have dominated previous gatherings and fill most of the pages of green anarchist publications, perhaps it was an attempt to take advantage of the access to all the great skills instructors present, but at times it felt that we might be seeing the beginnings of a slight slip into subculture. That is, escapist and self-referential in our practice and a little bit defeatist, carving out our scenes in the world. This critique (or warning) of some primitivists has been leveled in the past, and is not something to be taken lightly unless we want to become like many of the “back to the landers” of the late sixties and seventies; apathetic, passive, and opposed to insurrection. Again, it wasn’t overwhelming, just something to consider.
One particular issue of the gathering, which may be related to the first one, was a few people’s casual, and at times friendly, open, and cooperative interactions with the Forest Service. These pigs of the forest often attempt to intimidate gatherings of this type and size to enter into a legal agreement (permit) with them over the use of the land. Typically, radicals ignore their presence, and while a few people may occasionally (though rarely) be ticketed for “indecent exposure” or drug/alcohol related “offenses”, usually no permit is signed and the event goes off with little or no disturbance. This year, however, there were a number of naive and liberally-minded people who were either frightened by the scare tactics or who disturbingly believed that the Forest Service “has our, and the forest’s, well-being in mind”. Eventually, a small group of people (probably craving attention and acknowledgement) decided to sign the permit, and believed we were then “safe”. Some of us were outraged. Not because of some symbolic ideals we have, but because anytime you enter into collaborative efforts with the State (or any oppressive force), you open up the door for more repression. This is basic, and not something one would think necessary to debate with other anarchists. The security of all was compromised by a few, and since the Forest Service stated that they perceived this event to be organized by Green Anarchy magazine, some of us could have been more directly affected. Luckily, this time, their occupancy and demands did not intensify, but certainly remained, and set a bad precedent.
Send us your thoughts on the gathering, so we can post them on our website. Hopefully, the positive and negative criticisms of this year’s gathering by us, and others, will be taken to heart by the organizers of next year’s event, which will be hosted by folks in the Southwest.
We Went Spiritual On Your Ass
Some people thought the previous issue was the worst direction we could have taken, while many more thought it was a vital topic to discuss. Others could have gone either way with the theme, but were glad that GA is comprehensive enough outside the topic of a particular issue to keep them interested. We are very glad we discussed spirituality, if only to see something of the range anti-civilization folks are coming from. It was also a great learning experience for each of us, as well as an excuse to articulate such a huge topic, one that motivates some of our lives and makes us whole, and one we often contemplate in the barren reality we typically inhabit as domesticated humans. It was also good to expose some of the reactionary and materialist leftists who were hostile towards the topic, proving once again that they are stuck in the realm of exclusively social and political solutions. But don’t worry, as with any of our themes, it was merely a temporary focus or deeper look into one particular realm.We always try to come back to a holistic picture from which we wish to analyze and attack the totality we call civilization.
A Mélange of Stuff
With all of the theme issues we’ve had lately, a lot of really great stuff that didn’t necessarily fit into those issues, yet were impressive and provocative, had been set aside for future use. With the changes we’ve been going through, we thought it would be a great time to publish some of these gems, in addition to some really top-notch recently received articles, as well as essays written in the collective. Consider it anti-civilization patchwork. It’s almost exclusively original stuff and, in our opinion, well worth the wait. Highlights include: John Zerzan’s “On the Origins of War”; “Stones Can Speak,” a poetic and powerful look at what is going on in Bolivia by Jesús Sepúlveda; “Only a Tsunami Will Do,” a potent and lucid rant on feminism that is sure to create a storm of controversy; an interesting narrative piece by Viva MacSeoin; an extensive review of “Liberate Not Exterminate,” the new apology for the city by the Curious George Brigade; and much more. And, of course, we also have all the usual goodies you have come to expect from us. We hope you get something out of it, we sure did.
OK, We’ll Say It Again…
Green Anarchy is an all-volunteer project that costs approximately $6,000 per issue (printing, mailing, supplies, equipment, and other expenses). We need your help if you wish to see it continue. We’ve gotten a ton of support already, but we always need more. So please, think about becoming a PAYING distributor, a subscriber, a special donor, or consider ordering items from our Distribution Center (located on page 83). This provides 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 we go through our exciting changes and we try to reintegrate into lives outside of this project, we are looking for one or two serious people to collaborate with and get more involved in the production and day to day maintenance of this project. All sorts of skills are helpful (artists, typists, proofreaders, techies, writers, reviewers, researchers, distributors, fundraisers, masseuses, etc), and no contribution is too small. So contact us. By the way, if you haven’t checked it out lately, our website (www.greenanarchy.org) has been totally revamped. It is still being updated, but it already contains a huge archive of material and is now fully interactive. We will also be putting online items that we can’t typically fit in each issue, like actions and state repression (which we can only offer a glimpse of in this limited number of print pages), other essays, event announcements, links, and more. We hope this can become a huge resource for folks.
Send us your contributions of articles (under 4000 words), reviews (under 1000 words), letters (under 500 words), poems, and images. We prefer that you email all contributions (in Microsoft Word/rtf file, if sent as an attachment). The theme for the next issue (#22-Spring 2006) is Technology, which we’ve been looking forward to addressing for a while. Hopefully some of the “Post-Left” anarchists who consider this topic uninteresting and not too relevant could write us an article about why they might think that. The deadline is January 1st.
For Wildness and Change,
The Green Anarchy Collective
“Untitled”, by Viva MacSeoin
His face masked, arm raised, fingers open, his body clad entirely in black – a moment frozen in a photograph of a broken chunk of pavement just gone through a storefront window. A thousand pieces of bottle green glass all over the sidewalk.
A merchant’s corporate window shattered.
At this photograph in a magazine held open in my hands, I stared and stared, bleary-eyed from a four-day trek across America from Nashville, Tennessee to Portland, Oregon. Four days earlier was November 30, 1999. The first day of the anti-WTO uprisings in Seattle.
At this stark photograph of a man in mid-riot I kept staring as two words, two questions kept flying around and around in my head – Shattered, Why? No quick answers came. I put the magazine back down. Only terrorists wear masks. Did they not know that?
Anyway, what did it have to do with me? Activism is a bumper sticker – Save the Whales, Save Tibet, Save our Salmon. Single-issue. Single attack. That’s it. You broadcast your message to an anonymous authority who somewhere, somehow is supposed to change things. That’s it. Stick a bumper sticker on it. You’re done. Or you make a sign and march passively from one end of town to the other. But never ever under any circumstances do you commit violence – especially not property destruction. That is a sin. Property has papal infallibility, the divine right of kings, you will go to Hell if you question it.
The next day, I went back to that magazine and looked at the photo again. Now there were others – pictures of people my age, my background, kicked, beaten, gassed, pepper-sprayed – their suffering blatantly exposing the falsification of history that tells us that the circumstances creating police states and riots happen only in the past, only in the ghetto. Only in the Third World.
But I did not fully understand that yet. I just liked the photo. A raised arm. A brick through a window. Shattered glass. It must have felt good.
I put away the magazine once more and picked up the first secretarial temp job I could find. Fourth temp that company had had. They all kept quitting. Not enough to do. No one really caring if anything got done. Unsupervised and unwanted. With internet access. Click, click. Where in the world do you want to go today? Seattle.
It took a while. There were a lot of “isms”. The WTO, global finance, third world debt – not exactly easy reading. Then somebody tossed me a lifeline with these three words that came across my monitor like three wise men:
Property is theft.
Property is theft.
Is that so? Prove it.
And I was hooked. Like a hound dog on a track, I followed anonymous tips back to the scene of the crime – back to the image of the black clad window-smashers – but this time the image had a newly-minted caption to explain it all – Anarchists.
Anarchists? Yes, anarchists said the bruised corporate media in Seattle. And they are all from Eugene. I got out my month-old Oregon map. Eugene is one hour and fifty minutes from Portland. Jeesshh. Anarchists in Oregon. Why?
Around the corner, the boss’ footfalls clomped. Away went the map and the internet, up went Microsoft Word on my computer screen. Without comment, the boss disappeared into his office and picked up the phone. My heart pounded. He sat down in his big chair, engrossed in a phone call with his boyfriend. A sigh of relief – I was free again for several hours. Still, better to look busy for awhile. I started typing into the Word document.
Believe it or not, finding jobs like these is not hard, their main attraction being the loads of free time they allow to dream, to surf, to write. Writing was the reason I moved to Oregon, because once there, I intended to finish a novel about a woman lost in an ancient and deadly forest where the only way out is to learn how to love. But the tale needed a setting and Oregon promised to be a land of mystic oceans, volcanoes, old growth forests. Above all, I needed a forest.
How the story initially took shape and why is beyond the scope of this relating, but it honestly can be said that the main impetus came from a near-death experience. Quite literally, one radiant Fall day, I felt the Angel of Death pass through the room; his presence hovering just long enough to impart one word:
In the wake of his leaving came turbulent thoughts about the reality of my own passing. I imagined being rowed across the river Styx. What would I say to Death should he ask me about my life? The question elicited an indifferent shrug, then a sullen scowl, then smoldering anger, hot tears, and finally beneath it all – despair.
To recuperate powerful emotions threatening to overwhelm everything, I put Death in the book and gave him a brother – the God of Love. To the woman in the story I gave four guides – a condor, a wolf, an owl, an opossum. To her adventure – a forest haunted by love and death and the dawning hope that nothing is as it seems. The book was an attempt to face the grief of a lost home and a broken family, to recuperate the energy of a looming nervous breakdown, to try to understand why I am so alone. I became convinced I was nuts.
Yet how was I to explain the three or four great horned owls that moved into the woods outside my apartment window, the opossums in the yard in the middle of the night, the vultures surfing the air rising up from the hollows into whose folds my apartment complex was built, and then one day, a snake lying across the sill of my door when I came home. Not too long after, a large stray dog shot out of the woods and clamped massive jaws onto my ankles and wrists in a terrifying hold whose meaning I still do not understand.
As it all unfolded, possessive relatives began to cling more and more tightly as I tried to pull away for the psychic space necessary to write. Unable to escape their empty conflicts, their golden cages where anything may be had but personal growth and freedom, I ran away. To Oregon. To a land of mystic forests.
But most of all, I was writing to convince myself that wilderness is only a story; I was writing to silence the nagging doubt that the artist gives to her art what she cannot give to her life. Then somebody threw a rock through a window. Shortly thereafter, I drove to the Hoh Rain Forest on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington. Spellbound, standing beneath old growth Elders in the Hall of Mosses, I felt a message come loud and clear:
You cannot justify cutting down even a single tree for a novel that will never describe a forest as well as Nature can.
As fast as I could, I got away from those trees, and for a little while longer fought their wisdom. A great novel had to be written; I wanted to become famous and wealthy. How else does a person get out of meaningless McJobs, isolation, banality? Without money, one cannot have a thatched cottage by the sea in a Gaelic-speaking county in Ireland. Without money, one cannot grow bamboo for a Zen hut to be built beside a hidden spring in the heart of Florida. Without money, one cannot….
But I was not really convinced. Fame and money rarely change anything – certainly not isolation and banality. A few days later, a terrible case of writer’s block set in. Still I slogged on. The block got worse until finally, exasperated, the Angel of Death lost his temper. Grabbing me by the back of the collar, he dragged me to the door and rasped gravely, “Get out!”
I went to a protest. Gaping like a tourist, I saw my first in-the-flesh anarchist giving a fiery speech on class war. Homeless, he was a resident of Dignity Village – the self-governing tent city in Portland that once every few months gets evicted from their campsites on public land by armed eunuchs of the State – evicted because the presence of a tent city in the neighborhood drives down the price of real estate.
The struggles of Dignity Village increasingly embodied everything I was learning about the economic and spiritual violence of capitalism, and about the resistance to that violence that Dignity Village modeled in their anarchistic self-determination. Anarchist theory poses a question, how can we live our lives without domination, coercion, violence? Without hierarchies and pyramid schemes? In Dignity Village, and in street protest as well, I saw what the Zapatista Marcos meant when he said we are fighting for communal spaces against market forces.
Yet there was an unspoken barrier between Dignity residents and their supporters – we could help but we were not homeless. I kept reading. As my faith in the system steadily unraveled, at night sometimes, I went to bed shaking, pulling the covers up over my head. I am going to Auschwitz. They are going to put me in Auschwitz. Because I don’t believe in Them anymore. Because I can see what They do. For seeing the truth, for wanting to leave Them, we are all going to be beaten and imprisoned. War is the health of the State. Yes, I know. I remember childhood.
On and on I read, the books piling up beside my couch as a great, nagging fear that some collapse, some terrible reckoning, is just around the corner would not let me rest. What could a person do, how would one survive when it came? Survivalist books shot to the top of the reading list. Meanwhile, the corporate media was still looking for someone to blame for Seattle. They found John Zerzan – the primitivist writer from Eugene. He was to blame for the property destruction in Seattle because he and “his” tribe hated Civilization. How wicked!
Off the library shelves flew the books by Zerzan (and others), who page after page, methodically demolished the sacrosanct, civilized ideologies of time, technology, language, number, agriculture, art, and industrialism. It was exhilarating. It was as if something long dormant, scarcely to be believed, but there all along came springing up like hearty weeds through the cracked pavement.
The mists of pre-history clearing away, an enlightened picture began to emerge of the people who lived before the conquest of civilization. Particularly inspiring were their intimate ways with the natural world, their freedom from time and toil, their refusal of accumulation, and a marked absence of exploitation and hierarchies. Just as surprising came the evidence that there are still primal peoples living the old ways; that it is even possible (and desirable) to do so.
Yet this idea was terrifying in its implications, in its risks. America’s ongoing policy towards Old Way peoples has always been nothing less than exterminationist. With my own eyes I have seen a measure of this kind of intolerance in Portland’s treatment of Dignity Village. If Native Americans got genocide, if Dignity Village’s homeless cannot even have a communal place to pitch their tents, then what chance do any of us contemplating this lifeway have?
Then I remembered the radical’s challenge that if it does not revolutionize your daily life, it isn’t revolution. And in this day and age of ecological and spiritual devastation, anything less than revolution is death. Perhaps it is too alarmist (or hopeful) to say that civilization is collapsing. I really do not know. But it has collapsed inside of me.
That our feral natures and primal selves are eternal and irrepressible is miraculous news yet not really new, for it seems that for so long the natural world has been trying to make contact. Only just recently have I learned that this understanding has a name: Dodem. It is the only way I know how to explain what I wish to become. This is our story:
Unfazed by concrete, suburbs or social climbers, the Relations were not long in appearing. The house in Georgia where we lived when I was a toddler was adjacent to a piney woods, and one day while I was playing in the yard, a copperhead came slithering towards me out of the woods. My mother managed to intercept the creature with a garden hoe just in time to prevent the occurrence of what most likely would have been an interesting conversation. Despite my mother’s hostility, the viper clan was not deterred.
A few years later, we moved to Tennessee, and one day my father took the four of us (I have a younger brother) out in a boat on Tims Ford lake. As lunchtime neared, we anchored about twenty yards off a small island during an unusually humid May afternoon. My mother, when she relates this story, says that there was something about that island and the unusual weather that just felt “snaky”. The island was covered in thicket with shady trees hanging low over the water.
Ignoring her intuition, my mother began to pass out sandwiches to a hungry and cranky crowd. Next to me, a red can of Pringles potato chips sat on the right side of the boat nearest the island. Suddenly, like a dark flash of lightning from the shore came a tremendous, black explosion through the water. A serpentine missile, it drove towards the boat with great speed and blasted the red Pringles can head first, knocking the chips into the water.
Gape-jawed, I sat with half a sandwich clutched in my hand as the water moccasin slammed into my side of the boat again and again. Had she chosen to, this water viper easily could have slithered into the boat as she was well able to raise her head high enough over the edge to knock out the Pringles. My father gunned the motor into reverse and we fled. That was our first welcome to Tennessee. There were more to come.
At eight years old – scrambling hand over hand up an embankment above a rain gully – I was just about to place my hand on the next hold when something inside said look. I glanced down in time to keep from placing my hand on a baby moccasin hidden under a brown leaf that he had just raised up enough with his head to look me straight in the eye. My heart stopped in my chest. Then I fled.
To no avail.
At ten, my childhood friend and I were running across a long-abandoned railroad trestle that passed over a wide creek in the woods below our house and fields. Way ahead of my friend and flying over the thick, rotting ties I felt a voice again say look. I glanced down and saw – a step away and easily within striking distance – a tremendous water moccasin sunning himself on a support tie below the top of the railroad. He had to have been at least six feet long as his fist-sized head was propped up at a forty-five degree angle between several coils, his tail placed coyly under his chin. I will never forget the look that viper gave me. I turned and ran.
Incredibly, we came back a few months later to hunt crawdaddies sure to be lurking beneath the hardened slag under the railroad trestle. Finding a particularly promising slab about three feet in diameter, I instructed my friend and his sister to ready themselves on the other side for all the crawdaddies that were sure to come flying out and into our pails as soon as I tipped the slab on its edge. Heaving the tall slab back, I could not immediately see what was under the capstone, but looking across into the shocked faces of my friends, I knew we must have hit the mother lode. I grinned and peeked over the edge of the slab. It was horrible.
A slimy, graybluegreen mass – the medusa’s head beneath the capstone seethed and twisted and writhed like the living viscera of some monstrous animal. There must have been thousands of them. Looking up at my friends whose color had blanched completely out of their faces, I managed to choke out a single word: run. Slamming the capstone back onto the nest, hundreds of writhing, seething missiles shot out on the enormous splash towards the backsides of my fleeing companions.
Barely escaping with our lives, we never played together in that creek again. Two decades later I happened across a specimen of the monster in a natural history museum. At last, the beast had a name: Gray’s crayfish snake. Perfectly harmless, and as fond of crayfish as any child.
Nonetheless, the water moccasin got the blame and the woods and creek remained abandoned with the approach of adolescence. Sixteen came and I was again in the yard of our house, only this time no happy toddler, but a distant, sullen teenager working on the only thing that really mattered – a perfect tan. A radio headset covered my ears shutting out all the world. Turning over to bake the other side, I saw something flutter in the corner of my eye. It was a blue jay hopping madly beside my mother’s rose garden (which she watered obsessively, causing both the frog and nesting bird population to shoot up dramatically and thereby attracting predators fond of said populations).
A black whip cracked maniacally at the blue jay’s head, and the jay slashed back at the water moccasin with its sharp claws. Undeterred, the viper continued heading straight towards me. I shot out of the yard and onto the porch and into the house.
Then away to college in Athens, Georgia, then up to Chicago for film school and off to a Pacific island resort to teach American sports to Japanese tourists and up to Kyoto to teach English and off to OCS to become an officer and three weeks later over to the VA for physical therapy for permanent injuries to both feet and then lots of temp jobs and a vain attempt to explain through a novel why my father went bankrupt and lost everything including our home and why my parents divorced so brutally.
Nevertheless, these temporary diversions have utterly failed to convince me that the viper in my mother’s garden and the viper on the railroad trestle were not one and the same. Civilization’s complicity in keeping this fact from coming to fruition has not succeeded either; its war against memory has failed. The ancient Eye of the Viper has looked into me and revealed just how deep primal memory goes. After all, these reptiles watched the dinosaurs die.
Now maybe water moccasins cannot really help to explain what is happening to me, and maybe I am about to overstate their importance to revolutionary Return, but when all else failed, they remained. They remained when the wolf and the Indian were murdered, when the trees were taken and the land exploited, when labor was enslaved and dissent silenced, they remained.
They remained to remind the genocidal South that you cannot control what is wild. They remained to retreat to some of the most god-awful hot and humid places ever created. And they flourished. And in these places where they flourished, they built a reputation for legendary unpredictability. In their numbers and in their stealth, they became the reason why we call some swamps hell.
The wolf and the Indian temporarily beaten back, the oppressors let down their guard and the moccasins began pouring out of the swamps – into swimming pools, into log piles, into basements, into rose gardens, into barns and boats and bathrooms. Everywhere. To walk anywhere in the South is to feel that you take your life in your hands; it is to know that you had better look before you reach or sit or step or lift. It is not that the moccasin is a fierce or particularly deadly creature. It is that s/he is so unpredictable that little can be said definitively about their nature.
Sometimes when threatened they vibrate their tails like a rattlesnake. Sometimes they don’t. Sometimes they warn before they strike by exposing the inner white of their mouths (giving rise to the alternative moniker cottonmouth). Sometimes they don’t. Sometimes they inject venom when they bite. Often they don’t. Sometimes they swim out with their heads up like periscopes to bite people who have fallen off of jet skis. Usually they don’t.
Highly territorial during the mating season (May/June), they are sometimes aggressive. Sometimes they can be counted on to be lethargic in the wintertime. Often not. Sometimes docile, water moccasins occasionally have been picked up and handled without incident. Some people do the same and lose a limb.
Experts claim that snakes do not crawl into sleeping bags to warm themselves up next to folks. Sometimes pit vipers wait near sleeping bags for mice seeking crumbs to drop by. Solitary creatures, moccasins usually travel alone. People who have fallen into nests of them say it is like wrestling with a ball of barbed wire.
Cottonmouths have a reputation for dropping out of overhanging tree limbs and onto canoers’ necks. Perhaps sometimes, this is true, although the responsibility largely falls to the agile, tree climbing, and harmless water snake who, cloaking herself in the water moccasin’s reputation, is the same color and shape. It takes an expert to tell them apart. Not to be outdone, water moccasins have also been known to climb trees. Sometimes boaters reaching around trees to tie up their lines have been bitten.
Armless, legless and deaf, pit vipers hunt in the darkness with profound subtlety relying almost solely on heat sensitivity (which they register through pits located between their nostrils and eyes). Elliptical, cat-like pupils are at the center of their night hunter’s vision. A precious commodity, venom is reserved for prey and used only as a last-ditch defense in the most dire of circumstances. Bloodless in combat with one another, their skirmishes leave the loser to fight another day and the winner to procreate.
Despite their unpredictability, water moccasins are usually forgiving. In fact, I am alive today because a certain cottonmouth took mercy on my childhood carelessness and chose not to instigate a deadly fall from the top of a railroad trestle. On that momentous day, the look in the Eye of the Viper was many things, but above all it was Remember.
And so I remember, despite how greatly it hurts sometimes. Though much was lost, the Way of the Viper remains, and it is the Way of the Viper that I wish to walk into my path. As far as I can discern from limited research and personal experience, the Way of the Viper is this: patience and precision, subtlety and stealth, unpredictability and wise retreat, a deadly reputation for quickening surprise, a sensual fidelity to sun and water, and the silence and timelessness of eternity.
Wanting only this, no amount of face-masking, fist-raising, black-cladding or rock throwing at military formations of riot-geared eunuchs is ever going to mollify the recognition that they are not what’s in the way. Besides, I cannot learn from an enemy I do not respect; I want my own fear not theirs.
And it is in the forest, not the streets of civilization, where I want to face this fear; it is there that I want to understand how to deepen love. Even if it means at first to be like an ungainly, near-sighted, omnivorous opossum with little for defense but playing dead in a musk of offal. Perhaps Nature will be forgiving. After all, the bumbling opossum has an immunity to cottonmouth venom up to ten times the dose that would kill a man.
When attempting to explain to the human Relations nearest me my desire to live and learn at Nishnajida, I am most often met with a sad or cynical “Well, that is all very good, but in the end we cannot go back.”
And they are right.
We cannot go back.
But we can come full circle.
Like the snake swallowing its tail – the symbol for eternal Return.
“...give me a wildness who’s glance no civilization can endure...”
–Henry David Thoreau
Revolution, Zen, and Dirty Dishes, by Icarus Descending
Throughout a variety of non-Western traditions of philosophical thought one can find a directive or general urging towards making peace with the chores of everyday life. These seemingly necessary activities–laundry, dishes, and the like–should be performed in a conscientious way, so that you are always fully present and engaged, enjoying each waking moment as much as possible. I first encountered an elaboration of this concept in the writings of Thich Nhat Hanh, a world-renowned Vietnamese Buddhist monk living in exile for much of the past four decades. In his books and workshops, he offers people the choice of making nearly every act a meditative act: from walking to drinking tea, from sweeping to cooking, he urges us to not let the seeming inevitability of everyday activities prohibit our enjoyment of them. So often they become aspects of a deadening routine, one in which you are never contemplating or experiencing what you’re currently doing, insofar as the mind is focused on the past or the future: infinite layers of multitasking, shuffling through a never-ending hall of mirrors instead of living. Thich Nhat Hanh, amongst others, urges us to break from this path.
This way of approaching the world appeals to me because it seems like a simple, deeply personal war one can wage against the overarching societal imperative to be as efficient and productive as possible. It reminds me of the Situationist rallying cry, now common in anarchist agitprop, to live without dead time. It has the potential to make us more aware of ourselves and our interactions with the world around us, fostering more meaningful and authentic relationships in the process. In other words, it blunts or halts our pervasive experience of alienation. Because alienation is not simply a condition, a checklist created by Marx or Adorno or Zerzan, the newest survey adjacent to “How is he in bed?” in the newest edition of Radical People that you complete and announce, with grim finality, that “yes, I too am alienated!” Rather, alienation, like oppression, is also experienced directly in detailed moments of everyday life. Just think about protocol, social lubrication: handshakes, nods, “what’s up? not much”, “hi how are you? good and you? good”, and all manner of talk about the weather are partially just an expansion of the logic of production into the most basic aspects of our social interaction (or inaction). Calculated detachment. If you made the conscious decision in your life to value process over product, quality over quantity, you would be able to define your own terms of success, your own desires, your own fulfillment...all of them potentially radically divergent from what’s offered by our current society.
And then go about the drastically more challenging effort to manifest those changes, desires, and dreams. While I am describing a very active, concrete commitment to changing the way we live, in the time it takes you to yell “Free your mind!” you will realize how incredibly naive and egocentric the phrase is, and the concept can be. At some point in this narrative you may have said to yourself, “This sounds an awful lot like Dr. Phil’s latest self-help manifesto,” and you are absolutely right. There lies a fundamental conflict and tension in this whole philosophical milieu.
It’s passive. Or, rather, it can be. It can lead, like so many ways of framing the world, to complete submission and acquiescence to the current order of things. If you follow this train of thought to its logical consequences you arrive at a place that should raise the pulse of every anti-authoritarian. Martin Luther King, Jr., in a speech entitled “Facing the Challenge of a New Age” given in 1965, said the following: “If it falls on your lot to be a street sweeper, sweep streets like Michelangelo painted pictures, like Shakespeare wrote poetry, like Beethoven composed music; sweep streets so well that all the host of Heaven and Earth will have to pause and say, ‘Here lived a great sweeper, who swept his job well.’”
And what a legacy that is! Interestingly, if you look at most of the commentary surrounding this oft-repeated and celebrated quotation, you come across a never-ending parade of liberals misinterpreting the quote to be, “whatever you choose to do in life, do it to the best of your ability, with passion and determination.” Well, there’s certainly nothing particularly distressing about that. I’ve heard everybody from my fourth grade teacher to Army recruiters saying the same thing, and I nod in agreement, though clearly we have fundamentally different understandings of what “being all that we can be” means. No, the problem lies in a single word, a verb that serves as the scaffolding of this insidiously self-pacifying ideology: falls. There is no choice involved in the “lot” of the imaginary street sweeper in King’s speech. It has simply befallen him and, accepting that as a given, he now has the choice to be a grumpy Gus who resents his profession or he can draw praise from the Man on High if he pours his heart and soul into a life of sweeping well. To me, part of what it means to be an anarchist is that first spark of critical analysis that looks at the above situation and, both theoretically and in everyday practice, brings that broom handle crashing down on a nearby store window. In other words, we don’t accept the confines, limits, or boundaries that have been set for us. And it’s not that we want more: we want something different altogether.
So, it seems, one must strike a delicate balance between being fully present, and making the most of your everyday life, and accepting your everyday life as it currently exists. Because, while washing your dishes can be a meditative and enjoyable act, seeing it as such can also prevent you from asking, “Why the hell am I always washing so many dishes?” You have to stay critically aware of the fact that so much of what we do rests on a fragile but opaque implied necessity, assumed need and value that goes without questioning, reflection or analysis. Even proponents of social change and social justice, whether it’s Thich Nhat Hanh’s brand of engaged Buddhism or MLK’s tireless but ultimately misguided struggle to organize against racial oppression, can become unknowing agents of cooptation and essential powerlessness.
Celebrate the details: the songs, the smiles, the small caresses of wind or hands. Hope and happiness rely on the enjoyment of authentic and unmediated experiences as part of the world around us. Never forget, though, to continue questioning the very foundations of our society–particularly that which feels inevitable and essential. There is a powerful difference between making the best of a terrible situation and accepting our terrible situation as the best that we can hope for in life.
The Nihilist’s Dictionary: 6 - Progress, by John Zerzan
Pro-ress n. 1. [archaic] official journey, as of a ruler. 2. historical development, in the sense of advance or improvement. 3. forward course of history or civilization, as in horror show or death-trip.
Perhaps no single idea in Western civilization has been as important as the notion of progress. It is also true that, as Robert Nisbet has put it, “Everything now suggests that Western faith in the dogma of progress is waning rapidly in all levels and spheres in this final part of the twentieth century.”
In the anti-authoritarian milieu, too, progress has fallen on hard times. There was a time when the syndicalist blockheads, like their close Marxist relatives, could more or less successfully harangue as marginal and insignificant those disinterested in organizing their alienation via unions, councils and the like. Instead of the old respect for productivity and production (the pillars of progress), a Luddite prescription for the factories is ascendant and anti-work a cardinal starting point of radical dialog. We even see certain ageing leopards trying to change their spots: the Industrial Workers of the World, embarrassed by the first word of their name may yet move toward refusing the second (though certainly not as an organization).
The eco-crisis is clearly one factor in the discrediting of progress, but how it remained an article of faith for so many for so long is a vexing question. For what has progress meant, after all?
Its promise began to realize itself, in many ways, from history’s very beginning. With the emergence of agriculture and civilization commenced, for instance, the progressive destruction of nature; large regions of the Near East, Africa and Greece were rather quickly rendered desert wastelands.
In terms of violence, the transformation from a mainly pacific and egalitarian gatherer-hunter mode to the violence of agriculture/civilization was rapid. “Revenge, feuds, warfare, and battle seem to emerge among, and to be typical of, domesticated peoples,” according to Peter Wilson. And violence certainly has made progress along the way, needless to say, from state weapons of mega-death to the recent rise in outburst murders and serial killers.
Disease itself is very nearly an invention of civilized life; every known degenerative illness is part of the toll of historical betterment. From the wholeness and sensual vitality of pre-history, to the present vista of endemic ill-health and mass psychic misery – more progress.
The pinnacle of progress is today’s Information Age, which embodies a progression in division of labor, from an earlier time of the greater possibility of unmediated understanding, to the stage where knowledge becomes merely an instrument of the repressive totality, to the current cybernetic era where data is all that’s really left. Progress has put meaning itself to flight.
Science, the model of progress, has imprisoned and interrogated nature, while technology has sentenced it (and humanity) to forced labor. From the original dividing of the self that is civilization, to Descartes’ splitting of the mind from the rest of objects (including the body), to our arid, high-tech present – a movement indeed wondrous. Two centuries ago the first inventors of industrial machinery were spat on by the English textile workers subjected to it and thought villainous by just about everyone but their capitalist paymasters. The designers of today’s computerized slavery are lionized as cultural heroes, though opposition is beginning to mount.
In the absence of greater resistance, the inner logic of class society’s development will culminate in a totally technicized life as its final stage. The equivalence of the progress of society and that of technology is becoming ever more apparent by the fact of their immanent convergence. Theses on the Philosophy of History, Walter Benjamin’s last and best work, contains this lyrically expressed insight:
“A Klee painting named ‘Angelus Novus’ shows an angel looking as though he is about to move away from something he is fixedly contemplating. His eyes are staring, his mouth is open, his wings are spread. This is how one pictures the angel of history. His face is turned toward the past. Where we perceive a chain of events, he sees one single catastrophe which keeps piling wreckage upon wreckage and hurls it in front of his feet. The angel would like to stay, awaken the dead, and make whole what has been smashed. But a storm is blowing from Paradise; it has got caught in his wings with such violence that the angel can no longer close them. This storm irresistibly propels him into the future to which his back is turned, while the pile of debris before him grows skyward. This storm is what we call progress.”
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.
On the Origins of War, by John Zerzan
War is a staple of civilization. Its mass, rationalized, chronic presence has increased as civilization has spread and deepened. Among the specific reasons it doesn’t go away is the desire to escape the horror of mass-industrial life. Mass society of course finds its reflection in mass soldiery and it has been this way from early civilization. In the age of hyper-developing technology, war is fed by new heights of dissociation and disembodiment. We are ever further from a grounding or leverage from which to oppose it (while too many accept paltry, symbolic “protest” gestures).
How did it come to be that war is “the proper work of man,” in the words of Homer’s Odysseus? We know that organized warfare advanced with early industry and complex social organization in general, but the question of origins predates even Homer’s early Iron Age. The explicit archaeological/anthropological literature on the subject is surprisingly slight.
Civilization has always had a basic interest in holding its subjects captive by touting the necessity of official armed force. It is a prime ideological claim that without the state’s monopoly on violence, we would be unprotected and insecure. After all, according to Hobbes, the human condition has been and will always be that of “a war of all against all.” Modern voices, too, have argued that humans are innately aggressive and violent, and so need to be constrained by armed authority. Raymond Dart (e.g. Adventures with the Missing Link, 1959), Robert Ardrey (e.g. African Genesis, 1961), and Konrad Lorenz (e.g. On Aggression, 1966) are among the best known, but the evidence they put forth has been very largely discredited.
In the second half of the 20th century, this pessimistic view of human nature began to shift. Based on archaeological evidence, it is now a tenet of mainstream scholarship that pre-civilization humans lived in the absence of violence—more specifically, of organized violence. Eibl-Eibesfeldt referred to the !KoBushmen as not bellicose: “Their cultural ideal is peaceful coexistence, and they achieve this by avoiding conflict, that is by splitting up, and by emphasizing and encouraging the numerous patterns of bonding.” An earlier judgement by W. J. Perry is generally accurate, if somewhat idealized: “Warfare, immorality, vice, polygyny, slavery, and the subjection of women seem to be absent among our gatherer-hunter ancestors.”
The current literature consistently reports that until the final stages of the Paleolithic Age—until just prior to the present 10,000-year era of domestication—there is no conclusive evidence that any tools or hunting weapons were used against humans at all. “Depictions of battle scenes, skirmishes and hand-to-hand combat are rare in hunter-gatherer art and when they do occur most often result from contact with agriculturalists or industrialized invaders,” concludes Taçon and Chippindale’s study of Australian rock art. When conflict began to emerge, encounters rarely lasted more than half an hour, and if a death occurred both parties would retire at once.
The record of Native Americans in California is similar. Kroeber reported that their fighting was “notably bloodless. They even went so far as to take poorer arrows to war than they used in economic hunting.” Wintu people of Northern California called off hostilities once someone was injured. “Most Californians were absolutely nonmilitary; they possessed next to none of the traits requisite for the military horizon, a condition that would have taxed their all but nonexistent social organization too much. Their societies made no provision for collective political action,” in the view of Turney-High. Lorna Marshall described Kung! Bushmen as celebrating no valiant heroes or tales of battle. One of them remarked, “Fighting is very dangerous; someone might get killed!” George Bird Grinnell’s “Coup and Scalp Among the Plains Indians” argues that counting coup (striking or touching an enemy with the hand or a small stick) was the highest point of (essentially nonviolent) bravery, whereas scalping was not valued.
The emergence of institutionalized warfare appears to be associated with domestication, and/ or a drastic change in a society’s physical situation. As Glassman puts it, this comes about “only where band peoples have been drawn into the warfare of horticulturalists or herders, or driven into an ever-diminishing territory.” The first reliable archaeological evidence of warfare is that of fortified, pre-Biblical Jericho, c. 7500 B.C. In the early Neolithic a relatively sudden shift happened. What dynamic forces may have led people to adopt war as a social institution? To date, this question has not been explored in any depth by archaeologists.
Symbolic culture appears to have emerged in the Upper Paleolithic; by the Neolithic it was firmly established in human cultures everywhere. The symbolic has a way of effacing particularity, reducing human presence in its specific, non-mediated aspects. It is easier to direct violence against a faceless enemy who represents some officially defined evil or threat. Ritual is the earliest known form of purposive symbolic activity: symbolism acting in the world. Archaeological evidence suggests that there may be a link between ritual and the emergence of organized warfare.
During the almost timeless era when humans were not interested in dominating their surroundings, certain places were special and came to be known as sacred sites. This was based on a spiritual and emotional kinship with the land, expressed in various forms of totemism or custodianship. Ritual begins to appear, but is not central to band or forager societies. Emma Blake observes, “Although the peoples of the Paleolithic practiced rituals, the richest material residues date from the Neolithic period onward, when sedentism and the domestication of plants and animals brought changes to the outlook and cosmology of people everywhere.” It was in the Upper Paleolithic that certain strains and tensions caused by the development of specialization first became evident. Inequities can be measured by such evidence as differing amounts of goods at hearth sites in encampments; in response, ritual appears to have begun to play a greater social role. As many have noted, ritual in this context is a way of addressing deficiencies of cohesion or solidarity; it is a means of guaranteeing a social order that has become problematic. As Bruce Knauft saw, “ritual reinforces and puts beyond argument or question certain highly general propositions about the spiritual and human world…[and] predisposes deep-seated cognitive acceptance and behavioral compliance with these cosmological propositions.” Ritual thus provides the original ideological glue for societies now in need of such legitimating assistance. Face-to-face solutions become ineffective as social solutions, when communities become complex and already partly stratified. The symbolic is a non-solution; in fact, it is a type of enforcer of relationships and world-views characterized by inequality and estrangement.
Ritual is itself a type of power, an early, pre-state form of politics. Among the Maring people of Papua New Guinea, for instance, the conventions of the ritual cycle specify duties or roles in the absence of explicitly political authorities. Sanctity is therefore a functional alternative to politics; sacred conventions, in effect, govern society. Ritualization is clearly an early strategic arena for the incorporation of power relations. Further, warfare can be a sacred undertaking, with militarism promoted ritually, blessing emergent social hierarchy.
René Girard proposes that rituals of sacrifice are a necessary counter to endemic aggression and violence in society. Something nearer to the reverse is more the case: ritual legitimates and enacts violence. As Lienhardt said of the Dinka herders of Africa, to “make a feast or sacrifice often implies war.” Ritual does not substitute for war, according to Arkush and Stanish: “warfare in all times and places has ritual elements.” They see the dichotomy between “ritual battle” and “real war” to be false, summarizing that “archaeologists can expect destructive warfare and ritual to go hand in hand.”
It is not only among Apache groups, for example, that the most ritualized were the most agricultural, but that so often ritual has mainly to do with agriculture and warfare, which are often very closely linked. It is not uncommon to find warfare itself seen as a means of enhancing the fertility of cultivated ground. Ritual regulation of production and belligerence means that domestication has become the decisive factor. “The emergence of systematic warfare, fortifications, and weapons of destruction,” says Hassan, “follows the path of agriculture.”
Ritual evolves into religious systems, the gods come forth, sacrifice is demanded. “There is no doubt that all the inhabitants of the unseen world are greatly interested in human agriculture,” notes anthropologist Verrier Elwin. Sacrifice is an excess of domestication, involving domesticated animals and occurring only in agricultural societies. Ritual killing, including human sacrifice, is unknown in non-domesticated cultures.
Corn in the Americas tells a parallel story. An abrupt increase in corn agriculture brought with it the rapid elaboration of hierarchy and militarization in large parts of both continents. One instance among many is the northward intrusion of the Hohokams against the indigenous Ootams of southern Arizona, introducing agriculture and organized warfare. By about 1000 A.D. the farming of maize had become dominant throughout the Southwest, complete with year-round ritual observances, priesthoods, social conformity, human sacrifice, and cannibalism. It is hardly an understatement to say, with Kroeber, that with maize agriculture, “all cultural values shifted.”
Horses are another instance of the close connection between domestication and war. First domesticated in the Ukraine around 3000 B.C., their objectification fed militarism directly. Almost from the very beginning they served as machines; most importantly, as war machines.
The relatively harmless kinds of intergroup fighting described above gave way to systematic killing as domestication led to increasing competition for land. The drive for fresh land to be exploited is widely accepted as the leading specific cause of war throughout the course of civilization. Once-dominant feelings of gratitude toward a freely giving nature and knowledge of the crucial interdependence of all life are replaced by the ethos of domestication: humans versus the natural world. This enduring power struggle is the template for the wars it constantly engenders. There was awareness of the price exacted by the paradigm of control, as seen in the widespread practice of symbolic regulation or amelioration of domestication of animals in the early Neolithic. But such gestures do not alter the fundamental dynamic at work, any more than they preserve millions of years’ worth of gatherer-hunters’ practices that balanced population and subsistence.
Agricultural intensification meant more warfare. Submission to this pattern requires that all aspects of society form an integrated whole from which there is little or no escape. With domestication, division of labor now produces full-time specialists in coercion: for example, definitive evidence shows a soldier class established in the Near East by 4500 B.C. The Jivaro of Amazonia, for millennia a harmonious component of the biotic community, adopted domestication, and “have elaborated blood revenge and warfare to a point where these activities set the tone for the whole society.” Organized violence becomes pervasive, mandatory, and normative.
Expressions of power are the essence of civilization, with its core principle of patriarchal rule. It may be that systematic male dominance is a by-product of war. The ritual subordination and devaluation of women is certainly advanced by warrior ideology, which increasingly emphasized “male” activities and downplayed women’s roles.
The initiation of boys is a ritual designed to produce a certain type of man, an outcome that is not at all guaranteed by mere biological growth. When group cohesion can no longer be taken for granted, symbolic institutions are required—especially to further compliance with pursuits such as warfare. Lemmonier’s judgment is that “male initiations… are connected by their very essence with war.”
Polygyny, the practice of one man taking multiple wives, is rare in gatherer-hunter bands, but is the norm for war-making village societies. Once again, domestication is the decisive factor. It is no coincidence that circumcision rituals by the Merida people of Madagascar culminated in aggressive military parades. There have been instances where women not only hunt but also go into combat (e.g. the Amazons of Dahomey; certain groups in Borneo), but it is clear that gender construction has tended toward a masculinist, militarist direction. With state formation, warriorship was a common requirement of citizenship, excluding women from political life.
War is not only ritualistic, usually with many ceremonial features; it is also a very formalized practice. Like ritual itself, war is performed via strictly prescribed movements, gestures, dress, and forms of speech. Soldiers are identical and structured in a standardized display. The formations of organized violence, with their columns and lines, are like agriculture and its rows: files on a grid. Control and discipline are thus served, returning to the theme of ritualized behavior, which is always an increased elaboration of authority.
Exchange between bands in the Paleolithic functioned less as trade (in the economic sense) than as exchange of information. Periodic intergroup gatherings offered marriage opportunities, and insured against resource shortfalls. There was no clear differentiation of social and economic spheres. Similarly, to apply our word “work” is misleading in the absence of production or commodities. While territoriality was part of forager-hunter activity, there is no evidence that it led to war.
Domestication erects the rigid boundaries of surplus and private property, with concomitant possessiveness, enmity, and struggle for ownership. Even conscious mechanisms aimed at mitigating the new realities cannot remove their ever-present, dynamic force. In The Gift, Mauss portrayed exchange as peacefully resolved war, and war as the result of unsuccessful transactions; he saw the potlatch as a sort of sublimated warfare.
Before domestication, boundaries were fluid. The freedom to leave one band for another was an integral part of forager life. The more or less forced integration demanded by complex societies provided a staging ground conducive to organized violence. In some places, chiefdoms arose from the suppression of smaller communities’ independence. Protopolitical centralization was at times pushed forward in the Americas by tribes desperately trying to confederate to fight European invaders.
Ancient civilizations spread as a result of war, and it can be said that warfare is both a cause of statehood, and its result.
Not much has changed since war was first instituted, rooted in ritual and given full-growth potential by domestication. Marshall Sahlins first pointed out that increased work follows developments in symbolic culture. It’s also the case that culture begets war, despite claims to the contrary. After all, the impersonal character of civilization grows with the ascendance of the symbolic. Symbols (e.g. national flags) allow our species to dehumanize our fellow-humans, thus enabling systematic intra-species carnage.
Binary Gender Division and Dualistic Thought, by Helena
The idea of two opposite sexes, binary and rigidly defined, is itself a product of western dualistic thought.
Objectivity, one of the most central ideals of alienated society, has historically been defined as being an explicitly male virtue. The capability to extract oneself from one’s surroundings is a skill characteristic of the rational mind, the “male” mind. Implicit in the concept of objectivity is an axiomatic dichotomy between subject and object, an emotional distance between the two, as well as an idea of the aperspectivity of the observer, a view from nowhere. This concept of objectivity results in an interpretation of knowledge as a relation of power rather than of interdependence; to gain objective knowledge of something is to conquer it, rather than to embrace it. Man is seen as separate from and superior to his surroundings. Also rationality, the ability to by means of pure reason transcend one’s feelings, has traditionally been viewed as male within western civilization; beginning with Plato identifying woman with matter and man with form. Later philosophers, such as Hegel and Rousseau, saw woman as a completely different being from man, having no more in common with him than animals. This division between the sexes was not, however, always explicitly valued; Rousseau, for example, often painted a romanticized picture of what he thought of as female nature, much like the image of the noble savage. Influential moral theories, such as that of Kant, assert that women have a lesser capacity of moral reasoning, being completely governed by their feelings. An emotionally based act, such as a woman giving her life for that of her child, cannot be regarded as a moral act, according to Kant as well as several of his contemporary followers. Woman, whose thinking is particular, is incapable of reasoning in terms of values. Just as nature, woman has no way of transcending her physical existence, and is hence reduced to a more primitive state. This identification of woman and nature results in the description of women as less human than men, rationality being said to be the uniquely human capability that elevates mankind from its non-human environment.
Life has, in the western mind, traditionally been divided along the lines of dichotomies such as nature – culture, matter – mind, into private and public spheres; due to her “inability to reason rationally,” woman was excluded from the latter. She was, instead, to take care of the private sphere, to make possible for her husband to fully transcend his material existence.
As a mother, woman is made a symbol for the dependence upon and connectedness to the physical environment so despised by the masculine individual. For him, she is the memory of helpless hunger, unconditional need and, by her unabashed carnality, a reminder of his own mortality. Being born of a woman is, for a man raised in a woman-hating culture, a source of fright as well as frustration. A natural step in the process of masculinization, the main components of which are self-sufficiency and independence, is therefore to subjugate and dominate the nature that is a prerequisite for his own existence, with the purpose of denying this fact. Through patriarchal society, man paradoxically makes himself completely dependent on a woman to care for his basic physical needs, in order to deny his dependence on the physical sphere.
Throughout history, woman and nature have suffered parallel oppression. Matter is dead, meaningless; and woman is matter. This is most clearly illustrated, as Susan Griffin has pointed out in a brilliant essay, by the pornographic drama. Here the female character is explicitly devoid of autonomous will or internal meaning; she is spiritless body, brute matter, and her only value is instrumental.
In the words of Simone de Beauvoir, “Man seeks in woman the Other as Nature and as his fellow being. But we know what ambivalent feelings Nature inspires in man. He exploits her, but she crushes him, he is born of her and dies in her; she is the source of his being and the realm that he subjugates to his will; Nature is a vein of gross material in which the soul is imprisoned.” Improving technology, devastating forests, raping women, civilized man creates the false impression of controlling nature, and thereby denying his own mortality. His own sense of emptiness is projected on the outside world, which is seen as cold, hostile and essentially meaningless. All this makes clear that the process of masculinization is in many aspects synonymous with that of domestication. The subjugation of woman to man represents the subordination of flesh to spirit, the control of the rational mind. At the base of this is, as has already been pointed out, an idea of opposition between mind and matter, which most likely has its roots in the hierachial societies that developed with the transition to a sedentary way of life about 10,000 years ago.
We are, as Griffin puts it, divided against ourselves. Where does this, then, leave women? Are we, as some male philosophers would have it, less capable of rational and symbolic thought? The idea of a strict division between genetical and social is severely symptomatic of western polarized thinking. There exist no absolute genetical predispositions. The concept of inherited traits has meaning only in a specified context; genotype is inextricably linked to fenotype; in isolation, the former is a mere abstraction. One might also point out that even if statistical differences were found between men and women, the fact that even a few individuals might not be correctly described by the statistical model, would be an argument against imposing societal norms that would limit the individual freedom of (at least) these individuals.
On the other hand, a complete denial of any dependence upon the biological conditions of the human organism is absurd. Humans have evolved during hundreds of thousands of years, and the evolution has been fully determined by the physical surroundings. Our eyes have gotten their form in dialogue with caribou, mayfly and nuthatch; our tongues are a product of clear spring water and ripe plums. All that we experience as meaningful, even the most abstract-construction, we experience using thought that took form during millions of years on vast savannas, and under wet rocks. To, like Judith Butler and other postmodernist feminist thinkers have, take a stance of complete physiological relativism does nothing to resolve the constructed gap between mind and matter.
It is clear that women are to a great extent participating in upholding and recreating patriarchal structures. Women’s liberation is by many feminists identified with the masculinization of women. In general, though, women are not as encouraged to build their personal identities around domination and transcendence of nature. Instead, we are generally brought up to develop capabilities of listening and sensing. In patriarchal society, however, a most fundamental capacity is taken from us, the capacity to listen to ourselves. We are taught to fill the needs of men, rather than to acknowledge those of our own. In reclaiming this capacity, though, we might also be able to use the values that have been taught to us in creating a world that is undivided, undenied, livable.
Seven Lies About Civilization, by Ran Prieur
The lie about “progress” is not just that it is good, or inevitable, but that it exists, that we have ever experienced such a thing as straight-line, singledirection, open-ended, positive-valued change. We might think we have, because “progress” is the central lie of our culture and there are illusions and fantasies of it everywhere:
There’s the schooling system, where we go from “lower” to “higher” grades – but this rising is not real, just a story they tell, and the change is just to make us fit better in the dominant system, as we trade experience for rigid stories, intuition for intellect, diversity for uniformity, independence for obedience, and spontaneity for predictability. Then there’s the wage labor system, where we’re supposed to go from “lower” to “higher” positions, but few of us do, and anyway “higher” just means the dominant system has a tighter grip on our attention, our values, our souls. Then there’s the history of technology, where the changes are declared “better” when their effects are to increase our forceful transformative power over the world while also increasing our emotional distance, or to make us more dependent on specialists, or to surround humans more and more with things humans have created, a process that Jerry Mander has identified as psychic inbreeding. The deepest place yet in our inbreeding is the world of computer games, games which almost without exception are built on the myth of progress, training us to self-administer dopamine for visions of ever increasing power, and then letting us off with a “win” instead of showing us how this kind of story really ends.
In reality, nothing gets absolutely “better” but just changes its relationships, and a change in relationships that trades awareness and collaboration for disconnection and domination is not irreversible but unsustainable, not open-ended but self-limiting, not positive but destructive.
There is no disputing the fossil record, in which life on Earth has changed many times. The lie is to project the myth of “progress” onto these changes, to declare that they go in a simple straight line, in one direction, and always getting “better.” This is a circular argument, where our collective insanity slaps a mask of itself on the biological world to justify itself.
In reality biological changes are unlike the lie of “progress” – they go in all kinds of directions, with populations falling and rising, organisms getting bigger and smaller, and moving from water to land to water. And nothing gets “better” except that species get better adapted to their environments, and in the absence of catastrophes the totality of life gets more diverse and complex.
But in both these ways, civilized humans have done the opposite! We do not adapt to the wider world but twist it to fit ourselves, and even twist ourselves to fit our narrow cultural fantasies. And we do not increase but decrease the diversity and complexity of the whole, by driving species to extinction and exterminating or assimilating human societies into a uniform global monoculture. So whatever you call the biological history of the Earth, civilization is not an extension of it but a denial of it, a catastrophe.
3. Everything is Natural.
Happily most people recognize this as a silly pseudo-philosophical distraction, but I want to knock it down anyway. The argument rests on a semantic distortion, a redefinition of “natural” to include absolutely everything, because I say so. Civilization is natural because humans are animals, toxic waste is natural because it’s derived from stuff that comes from the Earth, bla bla bla.
Real people do not use the word “natural” in this way. Maybe it’s “natural” if I take this club and bash your head in, but you would prefer that I didn’t, so you define words like “murder” to express and defend this preference. In the same way, people define “natural” to express and defend their preference for living trees over plastic trees, meadows over parking lots, rivers of drinkable water over rivers of dioxin. This is what “natural” really means, and if we don’t want to die of cancer and turn the Earth into a poisoned desert, we have a responsibility to linguistically separate the natural from the unnatural and choose the natural many times a day.
If you want a tight definition, natural means in symbiosis with nature, and nature means the totality of symbiotic life on Earth, and symbiotic means related in ways that are mutually beneficial and beneficial to the whole, where wider benefit takes precedence. Defining “beneficial” pushes the limits of our impoverished language, but I’m going to say generating autonomous and diverse aliveness. And if you don’t know what aliveness means, look harder.
4. Technology is Neutral.
Of all the lies about civilization, this one is the most insidious, the most challenging to refute, the one that most cripples the understanding of people who should know better. It is such a huge lie that it’s hard to get a grip on it, so self-referential that it’s hard to get outside it. Getting outside it is not a matter of learning a simple argument but learning a whole different and more complex way of thinking.
The lie has two forms that are usually blurred together. One says that technology as a whole is neutral, where “technology” may be covertly defined as modern industrial technology. The other form says that every particular technology is neutral. My strategy is to attack the second and make the first look silly by declaring that no particular technology is neutral, that every technique, technology, and tool has its own set of motives and relationships.
First, I want to expose the lie’s strange internal definition of “neutral”. A thing is “neutral” if you can tell a story about how it can do good and another story about how it can do bad. When do we ever use this definition in real life? Do we say a serial killer is neutral because in addition to raping and killing women he pays taxes and is sometimes nice to people? If you work in a factory by day to learn how to sabotage it by night, are you neutral to that factory because you both help and hurt it? If my nation sells weapons to two other nations that are at war, so they will destroy each other and my nation will come out on top, does that count as neutral? Of course not! But these are the same kinds of ridiculous arguments people use to declare technologies neutral: Television is neutral because it not only makes us passive consumers of a uniform culture subject to central control, but it can transmit useful information. Dams are neutral because while they submerge ecosystems and block fish runs, they also make electricity. Even atomic bombs are neutral if we can think of some cockamamie story about doing good with them.
The next level of deception is to say that it’s the “way we use” a technology that’s important. For example, cars are neutral because/therefore you can use one to go from place to place, or to intentionally run someone over. But as Jacques Ellul pointed out, the latter is not a use – it is a crime. Calling it a use tricks us into placing our evaluating perspective in an artificial space between the normal use of cars and a crime, instead of where it belongs – right in the middle of the extreme biases in the normal use of cars.
Even if we ignore the exploitation of “resources,” the displacement or murder of indigenous people, and the release of toxins required to manufacture and fuel cars, even if we ignore the millions of collision deaths and the poison-leaking wrecks, and we just look at cars as consumer tools, we can still see troubling built-in effects:
By moving us faster from place to place, cars insert distance into our physical environment, and the space in this distance will be largely filled with streets and parking lots to hold all the cars. Earth-killing pavement, urban sprawl, and strip malls are practically inherent in the technology of the automobile. Also, for complex reasons, speeds beyond a certain low threshold actually increase commuting time. Also, once this distance has been inserted, you need a car to do anything. To exaggerate a point made by Ivan Illich, if you live in Los Angeles you might as well have had your legs cut off.
Take away the cars, and we don’t try to walk 40 miles a day on the freeways – we tear up the pavement and build our physical communities so that everything we need is in walking distance. We spend less time commuting, we free all the time and energy we were putting into cars, and we regain autonomy through being able to use our own legs.
Also we have better relationships. Because cars move us past everything so fast, and because they enclose us, they insulate us from the reality around us, from other people and nature, and they enable us to replace thick close relationships with thin distant ones. Without them we relate directly and frequently to what’s right in front of us; we know our neighbors and we know the land.
I could make similar arguments about computers, television, electricity, even written language. But the point is not to simply reject whole categories of technology, but to learn to see the alliances and motives that are built into technologies themselves regardless of “use,” and to practice including or rejecting them on the basis of this understanding.
The customary definition of “use” is itself a trick of language that subtly limits what is negotiable. Notice that it includes only use by consumers and not use by engineers, who have covertly been given permission to use anything in any way. Is the automobile a technology, or a use of the internal combustion engine? Is internal combustion a technology or a use of fire? Some ancient societies used the technology of the wheel only in pottery-making. Let’s do that! “No, no, the car is a technology, and the use is where I drive it. That’s the only thing you’re permitted to question.”
If you can keep the discussion going, sooner or later you will hear something like “Cars could be electric instead of gasoline-burning” or “We could use solar or wind power instead of nuclear.” Then you can point out that they’re choosing one technology over another for the same use, so they knew all along that technologies are not neutral.
5. We Can’t Go Back.
Like the above, this is purely a religious doctrine – but this one is clearly refuted by the ruins of ancient civilizations all over the world from which people went “back,” and by lucky or exceptional individuals all through history who have dropped out of the system and moved closer to nature. In one sense, however, it’s true: exploitative societies have no reverse gear and can only escalate until they crash. To avoid thinking clearly about this, we can tell ourselves the next one:
6. The All-Or-Nothing Future.
According to this story there are only two possibilities: continued industrial civilization, or the total end of the world. Continued civilization generally means continued use of machines to transform relationships into domination and self-absorption. For the technophiles this could mean mining other planets, or deeper virtual reality; for the liberals it might mean taking an idealized version of upper-middle class life in a wealthy country in the late 20th century, extending it to the whole world, and staying there indefinitely through mechanical central control. And supposing our civilization fails – don’t look! There’s nothing there but horrible absolute oblivion which we can talk about only in terms of what we “must” do to avoid it. People express this with maddeningly vague pronouncements like “If we don’t reduce greenhouse emissions by 50% in ten years, it will be too late.” Too late for what?
The obvious reality is that the suggested reforms are both politically impossible and insufficient, that our civilization is a runaway train that will not slow down until it jumps the tracks, and that the actual future will be deep within the region we’re forbidden to look at. The extinction of 95% of species including humans is not some unthinkable horror but a specific possibility that we can think about with precision. A milder possibility is the Road Warrior scenario where a few humans survive on a half-dead Earth. Milder still would be a political decentralization and ecological recovery like the so-called “dark” age in Europe after the fall of Rome. My point is, we can influence this! Our dreams and actions can affect what kind of world we go to, but they cannot possibly maintain the world we’re used to.
There comes a time in a fire when you stop trying to save the whole building and switch to saving what you can. The purpose of the all-or-nothing lie is to block this mental shift, to keep all our attention channeled into either saving the world as we know it, or just giving up. If we see that radically different worlds are possible and some of them are really going to happen, if we start imagining and building vigorous competitors to industrial civilization, we will hurt the “economy” and especially hurt the feelings of people who have invested their egos in the dominant culture. Another way they protect their egos is with the next lie:
7. Civilization Happens Once.
This peculiar idea is similar to the above, but the blind spot it enforces is not to other-than-civilized systems, but to other civilizations. The pro-civ version says this is our one and only shot to colonize space or whatever, and the anti-civ version says that if we can knock down the present civilization, nothing like it will ever happen again. I don’t know where people came up with such an idea, unless they know something I don’t about the coming new-age transformation of human consciousness. The harsh lesson of history is that every particular civilization falls while civilization in general keeps chugging on.
I define civilization in general as an alliance between dominator consciousness and exploitation-enabling techniques, creating a society that systematically takes more than it gives. Yes, the oil will run out, but civilizations were rising and falling for thousands of years without oil, and I see no reason they won’t do so again. The general pattern can operate, if necessary, on nothing but the muscle power of slaves and domesticated animals. And when you add on all the metal and hardware that will be lying around, and the lingering habits from our age, and whatever technical knowledge is preserved, it sure looks like we’re going to have civilizations around – to play with or resist – until we go extinct or change into something quite different.
Only a Tsunami Will do: For a Post-Feminist Anarchy, by Rita-Katrina-Andrews
Are you ready to smash the reefs of the old world before they wreck your desires? Lovers should love their pleasure with more consequence and more poetry. Some of us have fallen in love with the pleasure of loving without reserve — passionately enough to offer our love to the magnificent bed of a revolution.
—Guy Debord, Society of the Spectacle
Anarchists who cling to Leftist ideology as if it’s a life raft are not worth the energy of a tirade. But, when another self-described post-left anarchist used an essentialist feminist scheme to explain away a much more complex situation, one of my peri-menopausal rants became inevitable. If it leaves you cold and uninspired – good; I’ll have reflected the subject matter well. If you are already preparing your defense, gwan-get to a ‘safe space’ to vilify me as ‘maleidentified’, ‘manarchist’ or ... But look, I’m not dissing you, ‘sister’ or ‘brother’; always do what pleases you most. It’s just that the endless 60’s reruns of “Men: Oppressors – Original Problem” and “Women: Nurturers – Only Solution” are tiresome. Depressing. Frustrating. And the latest newsflashes, “Man Deviates From Essential Nature, Becomes More Feminine; Crochets Scarf” or “Woman Takes Male Privilege; Abuses Iraqi Prisoners” are just spinning attempts to aerate a stagnant pool liberally polluted with the flotsam and jetsam of feminism’s (p)receding two Waves.
When feminists proclaimed “the personal is the political” they conveniently ignored the fact that politics require de-personalization; de-uniquing and de-individualizing, massified roles with near verbatim scripts. I insist, the personal can only be the anti-political – ungoverned and ungovernable unique humans whose liberation can have no interceptors, interpreters, or redirectors.
For those who need to identify the roles and scripts of my life to better position me on their revoltving stage – here’s some personal for you. I’m a woman/female/girl. Mostly ‘caucasian’. Omni-sexual. Enslaved by mother starting age five (ironing boards don’t fold that low for the young maids?). Army brat raped by military intelligence father for six-plus years starting at age ten until I swore the ‘masculine’ vow to kill him if he touched me again. Battered for years, never fully broken. And no matter how hard They squeezed, an intractable rebel girl. I was also (and still am when it suits me) a damned good actress (or is it actor), which saved my ass more than once. I left ‘home’ as soon as I found a way out – and oh, what a way! Mother, military wife – age 17. Prostitute in training, age 19. Single mother of two by 24. Sexy bartender, thieving comptroller by 29. Kick-ass electronics tech, ace network engineer – 33. With one final agonizing push from below, disgusted corporate executive – age 35. Throughout it all, scores of lovers, but damn few close and trusting relationships – male or female. Who do you trust in a world filled with used/users and ideologues who can rarely be ‘real’? All this Progress and Success in the ‘man’s world’ brought death too close by 40. I ignored the warnings for two more years while I searched for a gradual escape. Once I realized that route didn’t exist, I simply bailed. For 7 years I embraced life as a stinking desert rat and outlaw. My only aspiration then, as now, is to be a ‘wild thing’. By doing what I wanted, when I wanted – and mostly alone – I gained a level of health I’d not had at any age. Now I’m 50 and the long-forbidden tears of pain merge with those of rage when I hear anarchists spouting the same shit, thousands of different days later; “conform to appropriate behavior or else”. My health is waning again and I have real playing to get caught up with/in, but I can’t escape this reeling stage no matter how remotely I go! Everywhere life suffers and dies before its time, if my experience is any reflection and it’s us human ‘brothers’ and ‘sisters’ doing the murder while indignantly pointing the finger (some preferring the middle digit) at each other. Sibling rivalry has gone global and our quarrels, deadly.
Separation is the alpha and omega of the spectacle.
Look in the goddamn mirror – look all around you! No one is like you and no one can really know you – maybe not even yourself. But you think you’ve got everyone else figured out. Look for sacred, fleshy mounds. A dick? – Man, don’t trust him; patriarch, violent, oppressive, privileged, testosterone-poisoned, rapist-in-waiting, in need of punishment. Breasts? – Woman, nurturing, kind, earth-loving, safe, survivor, in-need-of-sisterly-support. Damn it! So many generals armed to the teeth with generalizations! Our allies can’t be distinguished/extinguished by appearance OR homogenized experience; neither can most of our enemies. Believe it or Not —Ripley.
Redefining the root of oppression as the patriarchy is not a well-thought out critique, it’s a well-marketed cliché designed for a captured audience (and another buck-oh-five bumper sticker). Of course, the obvious rulers on the world stage are mostly men whose power and glory comes primarily through the Institutionalized hierarchy of violence. And yes, many homes are the domain of god-thefather with woman and child beaten into supporting roles. But to reconstruct the entire world on a patriarchal foundation, radfems had to ignore women’s roles in the design and enforcement stage. Women also rule (there are few who who don’t dominate someone/thing; hierarchy is ubiquitous because of its success/ access/-ibility to everyone). If women’s power has come primarily from the institutionalized hierarchy of manipulation, matriarchy is supposed to be desirable? Fuck that! My liberation cannot be measured in the incremental subtleties of physical pain relieved. And no amount of revisionism can disguise the shifty-shifting roles we all play in this CO-creation: heroes and heroines, saviors and damsels-in-distress, villains and innocents and…
Alert! Alert! Most every frightened fear-monger was raised by a mother. Do you think she might have some role in creating the monsters their offspring become? Or are the domineering, child-beating, Abu Graib, star-quality commandeers of the global-stage-sans-cock simply patriarchs with pussies? What do you call women who urge – if not order – their men to war to return as heroes protecting the oh-so-sweet and suddenly available booty? From ancient Helen of Troy to the re-released Lysistrata, the cunt is no stranger to the imperial battlefield. Tell me, is it gender, class, or race privilege that keeps the blood off the hands of the Albrights, Elizabeths, Thatchers, Rices...? Is it sexism that keeps women ‘behind the lines’ stuck with the ‘inferior’ roles of director, coordinator, or yellow-ribbonier of the men who slaughter for ‘freedom’?
It is easy to see why bourgeois thought, strung up as it is on a rope of radicalism of its own manufacture, clings with the energy of desperation to every reformist solution, to anything that can prolong its life, even though its own weight must inevitably drag it down to its doom. –Raoul Vaneigem
Women’s Studies (Institutionalized Her-story) produce new leaders who mimic the strategies of their historic predecessors, who succeeded in defining nationalism as a unifying birth identity. But, feminists are way behind in marketing their massified set of values: a common (politically correct) language, generalized shared experience as victim/survivor, loyalty to The Cause, and an “incredible commonality of vision”. And as do patriots, these feminists often treat me as a traitor because I refuse to join their “Liberation” Party.
Stars of the new-age feminist stage hawk their wares in honor to the goddesses — deities worshiped by the earliest domesticaters of field and home. Some point to these matrilineal and matriarchal societies of old as models for a postpatriarchy future. I can’t help but wonder; if early civilized women’s rule was so fucking excellent, why was it ended? Is it possible their subjects objected to being controlled; consequently genderizing their oppressive experience? Roles couldn’t have been exchanged after a masculinist revolution, correct?
But let’s get real. We don’t know shit about the distant past with ANY certainty so lets stick with today. Teachers are mostly female, and along with the mommy dearests – and aides de camp Mattel, Disney, and countless other spectacular brands seared onto our overly large brains – have primary responsibility for schooling/punishing the wildness (as in the spontaneous self-exploration of the curious delights and even pains of life) right the fuck on out of us.
“Be good girls and boys – the Machine needs you to behave in order to use (then kill) you efficiently later.” Or am I still blaming the big-V, glossing over an innate female naiveté, ignoring a forced ignore-ance of woman’s subjugation and oppression?
Bullshit! Women are intelligent, aware, and more than innocent bystanders or collateral damage in the brutal war on life; far more than empty vessels to be filled by Man’s cock and ideals. Women are as capable of greedy, destructive, bitchin’ behavior of our own accord as we are of submissive (eventually selfdestructive) acceptance of another’s brutality. And here has always been resistant women fighting – often alongside men – against the imposition of another’s order. All humans have a wide range of traits and tendencies that can’t be reliably tied to her ‘blood’ or his ‘nature’. Some men are brutes and some women are, too. Some women nurture, others don’t – but that doesn’t make them brutes (or masculine). Some men nurture – which doesn’t make them wusses (or more feminine!). And when does violent self-defense become offensive aggression; compassionate nurturing force compliant pacification – both tools of the Masters? Do we want to demolish gender roles or redefine them?
A dominant and dominating force fixing us in our proper place is the elevation of a mass – identifiable, controllable, and homo-non-genius – above all. Well... not above our overlords and ladies of course. Class IS one of the deep and suck-ulent roots maintaining the divided and conquerer and we ALL give aid and comfort to this enemy. But most feminists have to diminish the class – and race – factor or risk exposing their own bourgeois white roots and concomitant goal of wresting power from their male classmates. And they NEED our help to get it/up.
Feminist consciousness-raising focused a magnifying glass on men’s oppression of women. A useful beginning perhaps, but the scope was never expanded to explore the greater duality we share as both possessor and dispossessed. Women still don’t talk about the shit we ought to be talking about if we are going to spend so damn many words and trees on our liberation. Feminists talk about taking back the night (I’ll take a whole lot more day, thank you!) while the fucking pigs guard their flanks. Does it matter if the swine are women? Men are relegated to the back of the line if they’re permitted at all (as though the night is safe for men and as if these women have shit to say about who is or is not allowed in the streets!). Hey mamas, guess what? Your ass-end is one of the most vulnerable points in your rigid formation – you can’t see what’s coming! You send the ‘brothers’ to the back (sound familiar), elevating the ‘sisterhood’ to it’s proper place of leadership, prominence, and self-protection. In reality, those men have got your back while you still play the fool.
There’s also a lot of woman-talk about female objectification and male privilege, of the necessity for a step-by-step consensual intimacy and of an ever-expanding definition of rape. Objectified? Damned right! I am one of trillions of (barely) living beings redefined as Capital’s objects – things of usefulness until we’re useless and then we’re nothing. Was my raped-pussyobject damaged more than my brother’s smashed-face-object? Is the old Anglo man’s labored dying breath – black-lunged from years as miner-object – more privileged than the African girlchild’s starvingbelly-object of colonial-diamond/ gold annihilation for all those pretty rings on the all those pretty fingers, sold to the highest bidder for the legally-objective right for both actors to get what they want when they want it? Fuck that shit! You want to measure and rank our tangible pain along with abstracted privilege!? What coldhearted measurement device do you have, feminist woman? And when will you stop sacrificing – and I mean sacred-fixing – our (w)hole to be used against us while we prop up the Masters’ limp, yet somehow still-potent play for the Accumulation of Everything?
And don’t tell me that you – astute and clever woman – don’t know how to wield the weapon of your ‘femininity’. You want Power? Control? Domination? Women wrote their own book, it’s just not in print. We rarely even talk with each other about the ways we can and do manipulate; taunt and tease, offer and withdraw affection (or sex), flatter and ridicule – men (and women and children) into doing our bidding. This is not the unfortunate yet righteous feminine response to the masculine power trip. It is the interactive tightly-scripted Play For More Power and Control men and women act out together. We know how much men want and need and love to get up all next to us; to feel us, to feel us feeling them. Stroking bodies, nurturing love, licking wounds, and ... oh damn! You know what? I love it too! I love her smooth breasts and soft pussy; his hard cock and rough chest. A man’s sweet whispers and a woman’s ardent bites. When we’re uninhibited and unmediated by rigid con-sensuality; certain we’re lovers not abusers and rapists – we’re ALL there. If we fumble in our desire and unfamiliar passions, why the surprise that anarchists are not perfect in their every gesture and word? Our fluid, wild, and lusty dance has long been reduced to lock-step marches: a puritan morality by the Right and gender, sexual, and reproductive rights by the Left. As we tear down our habituated facades, we may still be ‘inappropriate’ at times. Repressed (and who isn’t in some significant way) – do we oppress? Shattered and afraid – do we attack those we’re closest to? But our necessary attack is (un)bound to explode somewhere! Can we help each other with our aim?
And, the eco-feminist’s (and is every feminist really an eco-feminist?) reified Earth is not my Mother! My mother raped me as sure as my father, whether she turned away in silence or handed him the lotion. The ‘earth’ is symbiotically-conflicted, wildly-simple, amazingly-complex, violent-nurturing, male/ female/hermie/ungendered, multi-colored, undefinable beings living alone, together. Humans included, once for FREE! Why anthropomorphize, genderize, then parentalize – always spectacularizing – it’s uniquelyindividual-wholeness? If ‘Earth’ is ‘Mother’ – we are ALL motherfuckers! Raping her with our death machine-beauty aids-tofu-packages thrust into too-shallow graves unlubricated with recycled-sustainable lies. Oh, but those clear-cut mountains DO remind me of a shaved pussy – I’ll grant you that. Still lovely living mounds, but scraped raw for what? And please don’t distill your reasoning to “for the Man’s wood”. Distillation doesn’t make for purity, it merely relocates unwanted elements to where you can’t see or smell or taste them anymore. And it will not help your cause if it is indeed one of a healing nature.
Anarcha-feminists, I thought you might be accomplices in my genderless, raceless, classless, open-armed eternal struggle for immeasurable freedom. The double female identifier surely hinted at your narrowed perspective, little changed from before you became an ‘anarchist’. Your battle of the sexes continues while all around you extinction gives a shit about identity – gendered or other Otherness. I’m a fucking anarchist – opposed to ALL hierarchy, which presents itself in ways both gross and subtle, Institutional and institutional Focusing on one of its forms is useful at times, but why would any anarchist extract then isolate – even equating or elevating – one type of domination over another? Hierarchy≠patriarchy. Individual women who call themselves feminists (WHY?) DO have relevant ideas, critiques, and experiences for anarchists to consider. But feminism cannot be re-formed into an image of anarchy and anarchy has no need of reformation in the image of Woman.
When will you stop identifying with what defines you?
None of my rant denies the reality of female subjugation (or of the male’s), of sexism (or racism or classism...) or of a temporary usefulness of segregated safe-spaces. Breaking free of our chains is difficult, possibly embarrassing; at times even painful and dangerous. But how can self-imposed confinement ever be liberatory? How will we create new worlds devoid of separatism when we use it as The Strategy? This tirade IS a dismissal of the one-sided, non-self-reflecting, and non-self-critical discourse and massified divisiveness that dominates all political theory and practice, including feminism. The roots of our subjugation are deep and tangled; each strand feeds and supports itself and the structure it is inseparable from. Clipping one will not destroy the whole; roots are both regenerative and cooperative. This is why some anarchists and other radicals declare the whole-tangled-mess our enemy. It is civilization (patriarchy≠civilization) rooted in an all-encompassing domination over the land and over every entity sustaining and sustained by it. It is life as war whose strategies include aggressive, violent attacks AND subtle, destructive manipulations.
Men, women...fighting for the elusive Happily-Ever-After-Plus-$’More. This powerful enemy includes a mindset requiring controlled, predictable (despite acknowledging its impossibility), identifiable order according to a Mass-ter plan. But it is perhaps, first and foremost, the loss of the unique individual, alienated from self and others, masked in a divisive pseudo-libertarian-unity. We are unified only in our misery, guilt, and blame – wasting away in our too often self-selected, segregated, readily-identified roles – in reality, easily monitored cells. Male, female, black, white, straight, gay....And no kinder and gentler feminine warden will release us; if we want out we need to break out and burn the prison down. And our opportunities are rapidly disappearing.
There’s no Womanhood to exalt, no Manhood to destroy. If anyone treats you in a way you don’t want – deal with them as individuals. Don’t tag them as proof of a misbehaving aggregation; anarchists neither accept nor impose representation. Missteps amongst comrades – even with strangers – are opportunities to explore our roles and (usually unspoken) expectations. If a John is abusive, a Kat dangerous, take them out [of that position] in whatever way you see fit. When we directly and consistently refuse and resist every imposition of another’s will/ leadership/order/coercion and remain open to insurrectionary inspiration in any form, we embrace a means never-ending.
Find yourself, man/woman/.../child – let me find myself. If we’ve got a groove let’s dance it into the streets where we’ll get it on. Watching each others’ back as we explore the unfamiliar night where strangers are unique, but really not so strange. Can we learn to trust our intuition/instincts/senses, our comadrés Y compadrés who live in their own skin, instead of ideologies built on the irrationally rationalized fears of others?
FUCK! We’ve got to destroy this stage/platform before it gets kicked out from under nearly-dangling feet and noosed and hoodied heads. And I want to lay my naked and wounded being on the newly exposed dirt alongside the sensual, raging, gentleness of a tribe of free lovers of life while I still can. With my tears of pain and rage unabated, I ask you most urgently – why do you wave away potential accomplices while playing The Droll Revolutionary instead of embracing us in the infinite ecstasy of revolutionary play?
Winds of Anticipation
Oh, the wind, the wind is blowing,
through the graves the wind is blowing,
freedom soon will come;
then we’ll come from the shadows.
–Leonard Cohen, The Partisan
Global weather patterns are becoming far more extreme, destructive, and unpredictable (characteristics we cherish in resistance to the machine) and civilization is revealing its inherent weaknesses and limitations. The deserts are flooding, forests are burning, the ground shaking, and oceans rising. And as the skies rage, the once-thought perfectly engineered fortresses are being penetrated and destroyed. And all over the planet, people’s comfort levels – and even survivability – is being put into question. Forcing them to rethink this artificial set-up we call civilization. Is this the result of global warming? Or the manifestation of end-time prophecies? Could it be the collective shriek of the earth to this nightmare? Can it be the result of the chaotic rhythms of life responding ‘naturally’ to the conditions they encounter and whose combined force is thus rendered unstoppable?
Whatever the scientific, religious, mystical, or wild reasons offered, something significant is happening here. This time it is not just the barbarians at the gate, but a collective force that cannot be reckoned with. At best and only temporarily, blindly and more frequently frantically buttressed from. No matter how hard we try to control it, the ‘earth’ holds sway.
As we welcome back this section to Green Anarchy, we acknowledge – some empathizing with – the pain and death which accompanies natural disasters/reclamations/acts of revenge (depending on your perspective). But we also place and understand it within the context of a system that inflicts brutal devastation every single fucking day it trudges on.
We’re reporting what we see going on; this doesn’t mean we’re cheering it on (although some of us have no problems shaking our pom-poms for team Earth). What the hell are we going to do to stop it, even if we wanted to do? Recycle harder, pray more fervently, institute a better political system? How about realistically and critically assess the foundations civilized assumptions are built on and grab hold of what seems to be rooted in something more meaningful, symbiotic. Because it is coming down. Maybe faster and harder than we had ever imagined or can prepare for…
July 23, Tokyo, Japan: Waiting for the “Big One”
An earthquake registering 5.7 on the Richter scale shook Tokyo and the vicinity injuring five people, swaying buildings in the heart of the capital, and disrupting commerce. The quake came just hours after thousands of volunteers and rescue workers took part in one of Japan’s largest-ever tsunami drills, anxious to prevent a repeat of the devastation seen in last year’s Indian Ocean catastrophe.
The injured were at a shopping center in Saitama. Train platforms were swarmed by passengers, many of them on their way home from Tokyo Disneyland in Chiba.
Television footage showed a three-meter tall steel tower fall onto the roof of a house, but nobody was injured. The tremor is said to have caused at least two minor fires. Narita airport, the main international gateway to Japan, closed its runways, and the Shinkansen bullet train, metropolitan subways, and other train services remained halted.
The earthquake’s epicenter was in the Boso peninsula of Chiba prefecture just outside of the capital at a depth of 90 kilometres underground. There was no tsunami threat. This time. Japan is home to 20 percent of the world’s major earthquakes and is always bracing for the dreaded “Big One” predicted to hit “some time”.
July 25-30, Mumbai, India: A Monsoon Holiday
High speed winds, lightning, and thunder, unprecedented at this time of the year, accompanied heavy rainfall leaving houses in up to two meters of water. In other areas, flood waters rose to a height of 15 feet. The scientific reason given for the devastating localized rain was that the strong vertical currents usually holding water in tall clouds were, for reasons still unknown, weakened and the suspended water came down all of a sudden. The city region received 73mm of rain in a single period, the suburbs 94mm. Geologists blame the reclamation of the natural streams, which used to provide natural drainage for the floods. Another reason given was the encroachment of slums over the storm water drains and the main river in Mumbai.
The unparalleled flooding stopped all normal activities in Mumbai, as at least one-third of the surface area of the city was flooded, virtually cutting-off the metropolis from other parts of India. For days, telecommunication systems shut down, airports closed (with over 700 flights either canceled or delayed for several days), public transport halted, and hundreds of thousands of people were marooned at different points in the city. 37,000 rickshaws and 4,000 taxis were ruined, 52 local trains and 900 public buses damaged, and 10,000 trucks and tempos grounded.
Most banks, including the largest bank of India, stopped functioning at all the centers of Mumbai. ATM transactions also could not be carried out in other parts of India due to failure of the connectivity with their central systems located in Mumbai. As most of the trading is done via the Internet, terminals of the brokerage houses across the country remained largely inoperative. An unprecedented 5 million mobile and 2.3 million phones refused to ring for over four hours. The financial cost of floods was also unprecedented with the stoppage of entire commercial, trading, and industrial activity maintained for days. Preliminary indications are that floods caused a direct loss of about $100 million.
The over 1000 deaths were caused by a variety of conditions: stampedes that followed false rumors, suffocation in cars after water levels rose too rapidly to allow escape, electrocution, crushing by collapsed walls, landslides, and of course many drowned.
New Orleans, LA: After the Levy Breaks
Those too poor to relocate in the face of Hurricane Katrina helped themselves to what was left behind. As the area turned into a toxic waste disaster the governor ordered the National Guard to evacuate survivors as floodwaters continued to rise. The Guard was short-handed with most of its members in Iraq. Authorities initially turned a blind eye to people who were taking necessities such as food and water from closed down stores, and some used the opportunity to help themselves to others’ goods.
Looters filled industrial-sized garbage cans with clothing and jewelry and floated them down the street on bits of plywood and insulation as National Guard lumbered by. At a Walgreen’s drug store in the French Quarter, people were running out with grocery baskets and coolers full of soft drinks, chips and diapers. One man, who had about 10 pairs of jeans draped over his left arm, was asked if he was salvaging things from his store. “No,” the man shouted, “that’s EVERYBODY’S store.”
Mike Franklin stood on the trolley tracks and watched the spectacle unfold. “To be honest with you, people who are oppressed all their lives, man, it’s an opportunity to get back at society,” he said.
Looters cleared out the entire firearms section of a WalMart and in a separate instance both a looter and a pig were wounded in a shootout. But looters weren’t the only people trying to gain something out of this disaster. Business in other neighboring areas is booming with the dollars of the hurricane’s refugees. The economy as a whole, however, is expected to suffer.
“Once we get the 3,000 National Guardsmen here, we’re locking this place down,” Mayor Ray Nagin said. “It’s really difficult because my opinion of the looting is it started with people running out of food, and you can’t really argue with that too much. Then it escalated to this kind of mass chaos where people are taking electronic stuff and all that.” Some drove away with trunkloads of beer. Thieves commandeered a forklift and used it to push up the storm shutters and break the glass of a pharmacy. The crowd stormed the store, carrying out so much ice, water and food that it dropped from their arms as they ran. The street was littered with packages of ramen noodles and other items. The New Orleans police chief ran off looters while city officials themselves were commandeering equipment from a looted Office Depot. During a state of emergency, authorities have broad powers to take private supplies and buildings for their use.
New Orleans’ homeland security chief, Terry Ebbert, said looters were breaking into stores all over town and stealing guns. He said there were gangs of armed men moving around the city. At one point, people on the street fired at cops stranded on the roof of a hotel. Authorities said a cop was shot in the head and a looter was wounded in a shootout. This is just skimming the surface of what went on in the city known for its decadence and nonchalance, but Katrina may have pushed it over the edge it had The Warrior Wind by Ralph Chaplin from An Anthology of Revolutionary Poetry Once more the wind leaps from the sullen land With his old battle-cry. A tree bends darkly where the wall looms high; Its tortured branches, like a grisly hand, Clutch at the sky. Gray towers rise from the gloom and underneath— Black-barred and string— The snarling windows guard their ancient wrong; But the mad wind shakes them, hissing through his teeth A battle song. O bitter is the challenge that he flings At bars and bolts and keys, Torn with the cries of vanished centuries And curses hurled at long-forgotten kings Beyond dim seas. The wind alone, of all the gods of old, Men could not chain. O wild wind, brother to my wrath and pain, Like you, within a restless heart, I hold A hurricane. The wind has known the dungeons of the past, Knows all that are; And in due time will strew the dust afar, And, singing, he will shout their doom at last To a laughing star. O cleansing warrior wind, stronger than death, Wiser than he may know; I smite these stubborn walls and lay them low, Uproot and rend them with your mighty breath— Blow, wind, blow, blow! long been teetering on (like most of civilization) for quite some time.
Response to the New Orleans disaster has been mostly predictable. Those invested in the system cry for a day and then go on rationalizing what went wrong and how they will prevail tomorrow (i.e. rebuilding New Orleans into a post-modern playland like Las Vegas). Leftists decry that the system should have taken better care of its citizens to prevent such a tragedy, they should have responded better after the fact, and technological advances will save us. And too many anarchists filed into one of these categories. Some wellknown anarchists took on the role of the red and black Salvation Army alongside thousands of other similar organizations, coordinating fundraisers and transporting supplies to Louisiana and Mississippi. Very rarely are the larger questions muttered; like why the hell they built a city under sea-level, much less questioning cities themselves. There is little discussion about mutual aid or ways to free ourselves from civilization’s dependencies and ‘good will’. Instead, it’s just the all-too familiar conventional and knee-jerk responses, and the shit hasn’t even started to hit the fan yet.
Livermore, CA: Fire Taunts Nuclear Facility
Firefighters contained a 10,000 acre grassfire that broke out near Site 300, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory’s experimental test facility. There were no injuries, and no damage to laboratory buildings has been reported. Founded in 1952, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory has a mission to “ensure national security and to apply science and technology to the important issues of our time” for the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration.
The Warrior Wind, by Ralph Chaplin
from An Anthology of Revolutionary Poetry
Once more the wind leaps from the
With his old battle-cry.
A tree bends darkly where the wall
Its tortured branches, like a grisly hand,
Clutch at the sky.
Gray towers rise from the gloom and
Black-barred and string—
The snarling windows guard their
But the mad wind shakes them, hissing
through his teeth
A battle song.
O bitter is the challenge that he flings
At bars and bolts and keys,
Torn with the cries of vanished centuries
And curses hurled at long-forgotten kings
Beyond dim seas.
The wind alone, of all the gods of old,
Men could not chain.
O wild wind,
brother to my wrath and pain,
Like you, within a restless heart, I hold
The wind has known the dungeons of
Knows all that are;
And in due time will strew the dust afar,
And, singing, he will shout their doom
To a laughing star.
O cleansing warrior wind, stronger
Wiser than he may know;
I smite these stubborn walls and lay
Uproot and rend them with your
Blow, wind, blow, blow!
Max & I, by (I) An-ok Ta Chai
I’ve had an interesting proposition set before me, something that I’ve been avoiding clearly looking at for a while. How would I delineate a connection between the philosophy of the famous 19th century German individualist anarchist writer Max Stirner and the general “green” or anti-civilization approach to anarchy? I’ve been daunted by this question, for one, because Stirner is simply so old – a dead European intellectual of days gone by – and anti-civilization anarchy in it’s current expression, in my opinion, is quite cutting-edge. For another, Stirner is quite individual-oriented, some may even say “narcissistic”, while green anarchist analyses address all of world history, the global eco-sphere, and all aspects of life. And finally, I’ve seen a lot of different people love Max Stirner, from Platformists to Libertarians to green anarchists – and all of them strike me as intense and weird individuals, and I’m not quite sure that I would want to attract their attention.
Nonetheless, I must confess – I love Max Stirner. I always have, as long as I’ve known of the guy. Then I realize – I don’t really like Stirner as a person, or even as a writer. He was a German girls’ school teacher who hung out with snotty intellectuals like Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels and he was married to a wife who admitted to never loving nor respecting him. His writing often went off on unnecessary rants about European history or some other philosopher guy, and he frequently informed his readers about how bad-ass he was because of how free and uncompromising he supposedly was. This is not why I love Max Stirner.
I love Stirner because of what I personally get out of his writings or ideas attributed to him. I would sum this up as – you experience your life as you, not as anyone or anything else. As far as you know, this is the only life that you’ve got. Therefore, you should make sure that all of the relationships and ideas that you come across actively help you to live your life in a way that is free, fulfilling and enjoyable to you in the here-and-now. And fuck anyone or anything that gets in your way.
A lot of modern-day commercialized self-help shit vaguely has this same message, so aside from being the original quotable self-help guru, Stirner had some integral, unique iconoclastic components to this philosophy on life. Stirner took an anarchist approach by saying that all forms of government, capitalism, and authority destroys people, thereby eliminating the possibility of achieving this self-supporting aim in life. Stirner also had an amoralist angle by holding that the concepts of good/ bad, right/wrong, duty and obligation cloud one’s vision away from this self-chosen focus. He came from an individualist direction by believing that conceptually placing society, the collective and/or the group first deters from valuing one’s own life as primary. And he took an existentialist stance by saying that concepts, belief systems, and ideas have no inherent meaning in and of themselves – that you put the meaning into them yourself, and then act accordingly. When you put this all together you then have a direct line of sight straight to yourself – what are you doing here and why are you doing it? Stirner pointed out how chances are that in any given situation you’re not even trying to take care of yourself – you’ve in effect lost yourself in the process.
Stirner helped me to take my anarchist beliefs and outlooks personally. He helped me to clearly situate myself in the midst of all this bullshit society that surrounds me. Government and capitalism directly screws me over, right here and right now, so if I want to personally live a free, fulfilling, and enjoyable life, then it’s all got to go.
More striking for me was how Stirner helped to expose the ghost-like nature of all these different ideas of morality, obligation, family, property, government, and society itself – how so often I view these things as being tangible entities in and of themselves (as opposed to being just concepts in my head) and as a result I see them as making demands and threats upon me. Stirner reminded me that it is people and the physical world that hurts or obstructs me, that all thoughts and relations to that are based on ideas inside my head, so why not choose to think and act differently, in a way that helps me?
One concern that comes up around Stirner’s approach, particularly when considering it in conjunction with green anarchy, is that it can be used as an excuse for consumption, gluttony, and over-indulgence. To this, I can only say that I believe that there is a certain joy and fulfillment that occurs in human experience that is more profound and far-reaching when health and balance is reached than when consumption and over-indulgence is engaged in. I believe that because one’s body is a natural organism, we can trust an inner felt-sense (as opposed to whim and habit) to guide us in finding our own personal health and balance, and that we can trust to make our decisions based on that.
This is all great so far, but the tricky part comes when trying to apply Stirner’s ideas to establishing mutually-supportive relationships with other people and non-human life. Stirner had a suspicion that relationships of mutual support and respect with other people were indeed possible, but he really did not know how to do it.* His relationship with his wife is an example of that. And as far as non-human life goes, Stirner was more a “dominate nature, make it serve you” kind of guy – not exactly eco-conscious.
This is where I think that it is important to take Stirner’s ideas and “run wild”, so to speak. I see this as best being done by first keeping in mind some basic principles of human social dynamics – if you disregard or screw over other people, then they are less likely to keep your interests in mind. Therefore if you want social relationships that help you, you need to keep in mind and help out others, too. Mutual respect and support, voluntary cooperation; aka – anarchy.
Next, if you want people to help you out in a thorough and personal way, then you need to really know each other and trust each other. After a certain number of people, the personally-knowing quality begins to diminish, and hence the ease and depth of mutual trust goes as well. This puts a cap on the number of people that a group can have while still maintaining this kind of integrity. Therefore it becomes desirable to personally choose to organize in small-scale groups based on trust and affinity – “tribes”.
If you want to live for yourself, to respect your own enjoyment, satisfaction, and freedom in life, and if you want to include the often overlooked realms of the sensual and the spiritual, all aspects of life as you experience it – chances are that you wouldn’t be choosing to work in factories, till the fields, sit in traffic, go to war, wait in lines, numb yourself to the incessant grating background noise of industrial society, wade through continually-growing piles of trash, or other trademark features of Civilized life. When living your life in this different way, work itself clearly becomes seen as an undesirable choice.
Domestication, an essential pillar of Civilization, is clearly at odds with Stirner’s philosophical approach to living. Domestication requires displacement from yourself and that which naturally supports you. Stirner’s approach is that of finding yourself and consciously putting yourself in alignment with that which effectively supports you. How can you tacitly accept programming and training from outside of yourself when your whole chosen basis for living is to clearly find and carry out your own standards, assumptions and actions to best support yourself?
Living with others who also choose to live their lives in this way, and respecting and supporting eachother in this, then, establishes a social norm which is inherently antithetical to the driving force of agricultural and industrial society, ergo, Civilization itself. This social norm could spread as a generalized mode of interaction among people, or it could serve as a foundation from which to attack Civilization or defend against its encroachments. Either way, this way of relating socially and living your life is inherently fulfilling and supportive of yourself, therefore it is of value. Stirner’s philosophy then becomes antagonistic to Civilization.
Living an uncivilized, undomesticated life consciously chosen and meaningful for myself within a context of a small group of known and trusted people engaged in mutually supportive and respectful relationships towards this end – this is Stirnerite green anarchy. The thought of this as an applied practice in my life sends chills up my spine. The thought of this generalized to the rest of humanity – no Civilization at all – is simply exhilarating. That crazy dead German loner wingnut didn’t know what he was getting into.
*Stirner called his vague notions of anarchistic social relationships “unions of egoists”, and his ideas on this became a foundation for what was later fleshed out in insurrectionary and post-left anarchist models for decentralized self-organizing groups.
For more information on our boy Max, you can check out Stirner’s most well-known and influential book “The Ego and Its Own” currently in print from Cambridge University Press and the anarchist publisher, Rebel Press.
Other writings by and about Max Stirner can be found online at: http://www.nonserviam.com/
And for a true story of some Stirnerite anarchists who took his philosophy to a whole new level, I recommend you check out “The Bonnot Gang” by Richard Parry, also published by Rebel Press.
The Garden of Peculiarities: Fragment 6, by Jesús Sepúlveda
The individual tends to see him or herself as an individual subject. This is to say, as an indivisible being, unique and monolithic. This vision has generated a false consciousness of the being that justifies pragmatic individualism as much as the Cartesian disembodiment of the self: “Cogito ergo sum,” mind over body, the virtual world, personal space, etc. The institutional propaganda of school and the authoritarianism of the expert scientific voice have impelled civilized populations to internalize the notion of the monolithic subject whose incorporeal identity reifies itself into an expansive ego, thus reproducing the instrumental logic of colonizing western thought. The expansive “I” turns itself into a unique and indivisible individual, thus negating its own multiplicity, plurality and flexibility, all that constitutes its own peculiarity. Thus, while the monolithic identity negates multiplicity, disembodiment rejects reality. So, the indivisible identity reifies itself through the disembodied consciousness of the “I.” And this consciousness is nurtured and forms itself through the standardizing mechanizations of taxonomic knowledge. The individual is not a being apart from its totality, nor is it fragmented between body and consciousness. The individual is a part of its totality, and its body interacts with reality. Denying this is justifying alienation. To feel the wind, for example, that crosses our pores when we stop at night to look at the stars, is sufficient proof that this totality exists. To believe the opposite is to be sadly alienated.
Poetry and art prevent the standardization of peculiarity. Artistic language suggests, instead of describing comprehensively, the immediate presence of being. Art and poetry dismantle the reduction driven by intellectual control, allowing its practitioners to become a part of totality. This transformation is called authenticity or one’s own voice, that is, the genuine that exists in everyone. This authenticity is nothing more than the peculiarity of every being: that which opposes standardization expressed by—among other things—the reification of the “I.” To think, for example, that one is an image projected in a mirror, or to believe in the formal and pictorial combination of a portrait, or in a mechanically reproduced image—photography, video or film—represents an alienating distance between the reality of a being and the reifying Cartesian consciousness to which the civilized world submits. Images as mediating ideological constructs of human relationships constitute what Guy Debord early on called “The society of the spectacle.” Since then, the world has conglomerated like a swarm of bees around panoptical centers of domestication: television, Hollywood, the cult of celebrity. This is without even taking into consideration surveillance and control. Images massively lead individuals to see themselves as individual subjects, that is, as indivisible beings, unique and monolithic, thus ignoring their flexibility, plurality and mulitiplicity. This final trilogy is the stuff of which the innate peculiarity of the self is made.
Stones Can Speak — Bolivia and the Lulaization of South America, by Jesús Sepúlveda
A year or so ago, as I was having a conversation with a Bolivian friend about the U.S. culture and the modern industrial complex, he pointed out to me with surprise that there were people who believed that stones were not alive. He mentioned this as an example of alienation—because he knew that everything from this planet is a living creature, even a stone. And knowing that was not a big deal for him; on the contrary, it was just common sense.
The amazement produced by the realization that there are some people who don’t see that stones are alive is a clear example of the crash between two cosmovisions. As Carolyn Merchant stated in the early 80’s, European rationalism and Western science put nature to death in order to make supremacist ideology a prevailing one under the promise of progress (The Death of Nature, 1983). “Animism” was the name given to the non-Western, holistic, down-to-earth perspectives that view the earth as a living organism. The turmoil experienced in Latin America in the last decade is the overlap of these two contemporary Weltanschauung[s] interacting openly. First World capitalistglobalizers, Second World industrialistCommunists, and Third World developers are becoming unified—in spite of their own agendas—in their war against the Fourth World, which doesn’t aim to clear-cut the ancestral trees, dam the rivers, poison the earth, enslave its people or sell out for cash. Stones are alive and there are spirits inhabiting them— people heat stones in sweat lodges because they represent the ancestors that come to us with answers. Then, we pledge to them, we get reconnected, and we get healed. There is no equivalent practice in the Western rationale. For the West, this is superstition.
Following George Manuel, Ward Churchill uses the notion of the Fourth World to refer to the indigenous nations, whose territories allow the existence of the industrialized First and Second Worlds and the industrializing Third World (“The New Face of Liberation”, 2004). Churchill states that in any territory where there is a nation-state there is a Fourth World suppressed by the masters and the industrial chimeras. Thus, any Fourth World liberation implies dismantling the state structure and its military territorialization. Indigenous liberation can sometimes be in opposition to the Third World liberationists—often centered on progressive-Socialist agendas with a preferential emphasis on the role of the state.
Walking through the Witches Market in La Paz—a day after the road barricades were cleared on January of this year—I realized how deep the Western view has been innoculated in my mind. I couldn’t really understand the meaning of the various amulets and magical objects that people were offering in that peculiar market. I realized that my perception of reality has been modified and trained according to one model of interpretation, which standardizes the notion of the world in order to impose on us a set for socialization, in which the Hegelian master-slave dialectic is still in power. This is the logic of control, the realm of La Politique.
In the Andean world, everything is alive. The anima of living things is expressed in an uncanny and symbolic form to be interpreted. This symbolic world does not exist to serve a privileged caste but to clarify the meaning of life in the living web of the universe. The sun, the sky, the stars, the mountains, the clouds, all the elements of nature are symbols to be deciphered in the course of one’s life. The planet is a natural garden — simultaneously wild and affected by our existence—where we grow and recover consciousness, while the social-petro-industrial urban complex is the scenario where we become absolutely lost persecula seculorum.
John Zerzan suggests, based on archaeological evidence, that there is a link between “ritual and the emergence of organized warfare” (“On the Origins of War”:2005). Symbolic culture derives from ritual, which apparently appeared in the Upper Paleolithic. Civilization, hierarchical division of labor and domestication appeared later on, around 10,000 years ago approximately, during the Neolithic. From that point on the “imperialism of the symbolic” has reached all human spheres of social life. Organized warfare epitomizes civilization and its practice of standardization However, humans lived feral but with a symbolic dimension at least for 40,000 years. The oldest cave-paintings documented by anthropologists are dated from the Upper Paleolithic in Australia, circa 50,000 years ago.
The invasive symbolic thought of the West is based on the Logos, which shapes instrumental reason and is very different from the symbolism of Australian aboriginals and native peoples from other parts of the world. Shamans walk about the Amazon in tune with the jungle to find the right mushroom or liana or plant to treat a specific disease or for other purposes. The Mapuche Machi uses floripondio (brugmansia sanguinea) to induce dreams and visions in order to cure people. Dreams and visions are interpreted through symbolism. Amazonian peoples have a tradition of foraging. The Mapuche were hunters and nomads. They crossed the Andes from Argentina to Chile, and mixed with the horticulturists and fishers who had already been living in the region.
According to U.S. Archeologist Tom Dillehay, and Chilean Geologist Mario Pino, the oldest human settlement on the continent was in Monte Verde II in the South of Chile. In 1976 they found medicinal plants, stones and artifacts in a location 35 kilometers—21 miles approximately—southwest of Puerto Montt, which are dated from 33,500 years ago. Although this discovery challenges the current theories about the continental population, it was confirmed in 1998 by the U.S. Society for the Progress of Science based in Philadelphia.
Later on, one hundred years before the arrival of Pizarro and the conquistadors, the Incas used slaves and domesticated llamas and alpacas—vicuñas are still wild—to create their empire, which ended with the arrival of Europeans. Colonization and conquest imposed the Spanish empire in the Americas, initiating an early process of globalization.
Humans will either go extinct or will survive living according to the cycles of the earth. The symbol of summer is the harvest and the symbol of winter is hibernation and fire making. In the Andean cosmogony, symbols are not representations of reality that mediate direct experience but signs that allow the reading of the will of nature. More than a representation, the symbol is an interpretation of the force of life, which requires being in tune with nature itself and all the elements. For Andean symbolism, profit, efficiency, progress and acceleration are vacuum concepts. In this world, life is about something else. If you cannot hear the murmur of stones there is no way you can communicate with this secret world. Andean people were forced to speak Spanish, but they still speak their mother tongues (Aymara and Quechua, primarily). Understanding this vision is not a matter of learning the language and the culture, but to un-westernize and un-modernize yourself, producing a switch in the brain cortex and the personal mindset.
As UO professor and author Rob Proudfoot put it in an informal conversation with a graduate student, it is impossible to fit your sandal on the foot of an elephant. Circular perception of time of native cultures has no intersecting point with the linear perception of Western civilization. Both perceptions can coexist on different levels. When they touch each other there is conflict, and a lot of people usually get killed. That is what is going on in Bolivia.
According to Western standards, Bolivia is one of the poorest countries in Latin America. There is no governmental stability and the political interregnum is increasing. As in many other places in Latin America, modernity never took off.
Chilean Professor J. points out that the Bolivian political impasse is the consequence of conflicts of political power (“Bolivia: crónica de la revolución que no viene” and “Bolivia: el fin de la alternativa reforma o revolución” in www.pieldeleopardo.com). The sandal of political solutions is being enforced in the altiplano reality through the insurrectionist strategy of the main Bolivian Workers Union (COB), and the electoral strategy of the Trotskyist organization Movement Toward Socialism (MAS). Since the Bolivian people overthrew two presidents in two years (Gonzalo Sánchez de Losada in October 2003, and Carlos Mesa in June 2005), the Bolivian institutionality has been in crisis. The US man to carry out the Empire business is the neoliberal Jorge Tuto Quiroga—whose tactic to control the country would be repression. Sánchez de Losada tried the same tactic and it did not work. People were killed but water wasn’t privatized. Mesa was more decent. He didn’t repress. In addition, balkanization is taking place in the country and the reactionary region of Santa Cruz is trying to get independence from the nation-state. Bolivia has water and gas, and multinational corporations cannot afford to lose control in the area. Strategically, a couple of months ago, U.S. marines opened a new military base in Paraguay—another landlocked country, that borders Bolivia. However, coca farmers, local assemblies of various indigenous groups from El Alto and other sites, and campesinos keep fighting for autonomy and local power in the communities.
These spontaneous and organic mobilizations have empowered the Bolivian people who fearlessly challenge any authority and feel proud of their indigenousness. To save the nation-state, the Chief of the Justice Supreme Court, Eduardo Rodríguez, was appointed as an interim president. But the conflict does not go away. Solares, the leader of the Bolivian Workers Union, proposed the centralization of the conflict through UN support and Brazilian and Argentine assistance. Congressman and Trotskyist leader of MAS, Evo Morales, is urging an election in order to institutionalize the crisis. Meanwhile, the temporary autonomous zones— to quote Hakim Bey—are becoming stronger, more rooted and more permanent. This situation is certainly working in favor of local autonomy, liberating the imagination of people from the Eurocentric Logos and reinforcing a non-Western indigenous biorhythm.
The Bolivian movement for autonomy goes beyond institutional solutions and hierarchical and vertical decisions. It is setting a precedent for the liberation of the Fourth World, and is spreading rapidly. Amazonian people from the areas of Sucumbíos and Orellana in Ecuador have been protesting the militarization of the region, chemical fumigation, the Plan Colombia and the violence imported into their bioregion. This month (August 2005) the Mapuche people initiated a cavalcade from Temuco to Santiago in an attempt to be recognized as a nation and achieve national representation. People from Chiapas have been supporting and keeping alive the Zapatista Caracoles centers as a form of independence and self-government.
When the indigenous nations take the initiative and force the crash between their cosmovisions and the modern-standardizedWestern Logos, the whole institutional structure based on the nation-state trembles. Probably, what the elite will pursue in Bolivia will be to reaffirm the institutions and save the nation-state. Social-Democrats, leftists and Socialist governments are taking office all along South America in order to serve as a social cushion and give an apparent face of stability to their countries, so the elite can keep its control and continue neoliberal business as usual: Lagos in Chile, Lula in Brazil, Kirchner in Argentina, Tabaré Vásquez in Uruguay, Palacio in Ecuador, and—to a certain extent—Chávez in Venezuela. Last month, experts from the Lula administration met with Evo Morales. Apparently, the agenda for the new government has been laid out. What used to be a desire of the people to elect leftist governments during the period of the military regimes seems now to be a tactic from the neoliberals to MarxistSocialists to stop the increasing pressure of the indigenous nations. Endurance of and resistance against the European—and now American—penetration have been taking place for more than 500 hundred years. Anti-Columbus day is rising all over the continent. The Maya predicted the end of the Fifth Sun by 2012, which could coincide with visible and everyday-life ecological disasters and the dramatic — if not total—reduction of the industrial energy supply. Nobody knows what the end of the Fifth Sun might mean, except for stones, which are murmuring in a symbolic language that we need to learn to hear.
Eugene, August 2005.
No Longer Invisible! — Indigenous and Campesino Resistance
“We’ve got nowhere else to go.
Our life exists with our land.
It is our foundation. It is our past,
present, and future.”
–Kevin Buzzacott, Arabunna Elder
Early May: Free Trade and Resistance in Guatemala
Glamis Gold, a mining company incorporated in Canada with headquarters in Reno, Nevada, was given a $45 million loan from the World Bank to construct and operate a gold and silver mine in San Marcos, Guatemala, in the country’s western highlands. Two of the towns directly affected by the project are San Miguel Ixtahuacan, and Sipacapa, whose populations are 98 percent and 77 percent indigenous.
Local community members said people were asked to sign their names to receive lunch at Glamis presentations. They now suspect that Glamis used the lunch lists to claim they ‘consulted’ people in order for the company and financier, the World Bank, to say there is popular support.
The mining project will bring long-term social and environmental destruction, consuming vast amounts of water, which could make water used for irrigation of farmland scarce. Glamis is not required to pay for the use of water. Any water that is left available for local communities to use for farming and livestock and the immediate ecosystem can also be expected to be contaminated by cyanide, which is used for the extraction of gold, and other harmful chemicals and debris associated with open-pit mining.
Despite the atmosphere of intimidation, local opposition to the mining project has not only sustained itself but continues to grow.
May 8, Bolivia: Squatters Take Hostages In Retaliation For Attack
A group of armed assailants hired by local landowners, accompanied by Ayoreo indigenous people they had contracted as thugs, attacked the Pueblos Unidos (United Peoples) rural squatter encampment on the Los Yuquises estate in the eastern Bolivian department of Santa Cruz. According to Bolivia’s Movement of Landless Rural Workers (MST) and the Unity Pact, an eastern region coalition of indigenous, campesino and grassroots groups, at least three squatters were disappeared in the attack and a number of people were beaten. Two people were wounded, one squatter and one assailant. The assailants also burned rice and pineapple crops and several homes.
MST members responded by taking 60 assailants hostage. On May 12, the squatters agreed to release the hostages after the government promised to prioritize making a determination on ownership of the Los Yuquises estate, and distributed land to MST members. The assailants said they were hired to harvest rice for 50 bolivianos ($6.18) a day, but when they arrived to work they were given weapons and told to violently evict the squatters. Local residents said landowners send recruiters to impoverished neighborhoods on the outskirts of the city of Santa Cruz to hire members for their “shock troops.”
May 9, Dominican Republic: Police Scum Shot During General Strike!
More than 20 people, including a number of grassroots agitators, were arrested in the northern Dominican Republic city of Salcedo on the eve of a 48-hour general strike scheduled for May 10 and 11 to demand attention to local needs. Homemade explosives went off in several neighborhoods, and police and army patrols took over the city. Unidentified assailants fired at a group of police agents who were patrolling Salcedo in a pickup truck. Police sergeant Alberto Ramírez Morales was fatally shot in the chest and the city’s police commander, Lt. Col. Eugenio Sánchez Salcedo, was wounded in the hand. National police chief Manuel de Jesús Pérez Sánchez responded by sending an additional brigade of 150 agents to patrol the city.
Carlos Cepeda, governor of Salcedo province, blamed the shooting on the Broad Front of Popular Struggle (FALPO), one of the grassroots groups which called the strike. On May 10, the first day of the strike, businesses and schools in Salcedo were closed and the streets were virtually empty of traffic. An El Diario-La Prensa correspondent reported that city streets were first blocked by burning tires, then militarized, and that the access roads linking Salcedo to the rest of the country were closed.
May 12, Bolivia: Car Bomb Cancels Summit During Gas Uprising
A car bomb exploded outside the Bolivian headquarters of the Brazilian national oil company, Petrobras. The company is a major player in the export of Bolivian gas and oil. No one was injured but the explosion clearly indicates that the rebellion against foreign control of the nation’s gas and oil reserves has taken a violent new turn. A previously unknown group calling itself the “Patriotic Block” claimed responsibility for the bombing and warned that other attacks could follow.
President Carlos Mesa’s plans for a national summit to try to find a peaceful solution to the gas battle fell apart the next day as Mesa announced that the meeting had been cancelled until some unspecified future date.
May 17, Brazil: MST March Reaches Capital City of Brasilia
Some 12,000 members and supporters of the Movement of Landless Rural Workers (MST) demonstrated in the Brazilian capital after carrying out a two-week, 200-kilometer march to demand the acceleration of agrarian reform. The march left on May 2 from the city of Goiania, capital of Goiás state. While MST leaders held a three-hour meeting with leftist President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva on May 17, the marchers rallied outside the U.S. embassy and the Finance Ministry before heading to the Brazilian Congress. The march was joined by thousands more supporters in Brasilia; Agencia Brasil gave a crowd estimate of 30,000.
In Porto Alegre, military police blocked some 400 MST members from occupying the federal building; Native American Political Prisoners: Byron Shane Chubbuck #07909051, US Penitentiary, PO Box 26030, Beaumont, TX . Indigenous rights activist serving time for robbing banks in order to acquire funds to support the Zapatista rebellion in Chiapas. Eddie Hatcher #0173499, Marion Correctional Institute, POB 2045, Marion, NC 28752. Longtime Native American freedom-fighter being framed for a murder he did not commit. Leonard Peltier #89637-132, USP Lewisburg, 2400 Robert F Milleo Dr, Lewisburg, PA, 17837. 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. the resulting clash left three agents and four MST members injured. The protests culminated a month of activities nationwide commemorating the April 17, 1996 massacre of 19 landless rural workers by Military Police (PM) agents on a road at Eldorado dos Carajás in Pará state. The marchers in Brasilia dumped garbage in front of the U.S. embassy as a MST spokesperson explained: “We are here to return the garbage of competition, the garbage of arrogance... the garbage of domination, the garbage of war.” The marchers demanded that “the White House get its feet out of Iraq, Cuba, Venezuela and Haiti,” and that Israel withdraw from the Occupied Territories of Palestine.
When the march reached the Congress, a contingent of riot police attacked marchers with clubs; the marchers responded by throwing bottles and sticks at the agents. A total of 32 demonstrators and 18 pig agents were injured. There are some 4.6 million landless people in Brazil, while 46 percent of the country’s cultivable land is concentrated in the hands of less than 1 percent of the population. During this year’s “Red April” campaign of land occupations, the MST led nine occupations in Bahia.
“Whose voice was first sounded on this land? The voice of the red people who had but bows and arrows…What has been done in my country I did not want, did not ask for it; white people going through my country…When the white man comes in my country he leaves a trail of blood behind him. . .”
–Mahpiua Luta (Red Cloud) of the Oglala Sioux
Late May, Dominican Republic: Bring Back The Butterflies!
Students and teachers marched on May 18 and 19 in San Francisco de Macorís, the capital of Duarte province in the Dominican Republic. The marchers were demanding punishment for the police agents who wounded seven high school students with bullets on May 16. The students were demonstrating to demand improvements to the Manuel Maria Castillo high school when police opened fire.
On May 19, police agents broke up a march by teachers and students and kept them from reaching the Castillo high school. Later a firefight between police and hooded armed individuals left a lieutenant colonel and a soldier with bullet wounds. Soldiers were sent in to militarize the city, and troops from the “hunters’ battalion” based in Constanza, accompanied by police “black helmets,” fired at hooded youths who were throwing stones.
May 26, Brazil: Amazon Loggers Clash With Lost Tribe
A Brazilian Indian tribe armed with bows and arrows and unseen for years has been spotted in a remote Amazon region where clashes with illegal loggers are threatening its existence. The tiny Jururei tribe numbers only eight to ten members, and is the second “uncontacted” group to be threatened by loggers in the month of May, after a judge approved cutting in an area of the jungle called Rio Pardo.
Accelerating rainforest destruction threatens the tribes. Deforestation in 2003-04 totaled 10,088 square miles, the most in nearly a decade. Indian rights activists are alarmed. A powerful lobby of cattle ranchers and soybean farmers are fueling deforestation and threatening Brazil’s 700,000 Indians.
In the most recent scuffles, Jururei Indians set booby traps with spikes, piercing the foot of one logger. Loggers are within three miles of Indian camps. One Jururei shot three arrows at a government helicopter as it flew overhead.
Native American Political Prisoners:
Byron Shane Chubbuck #07909051, US Penitentiary, PO Box 26030, Beaumont, TX . Indigenous rights activist serving time for robbing banks in order to acquire funds to support the Zapatista rebellion in Chiapas.
Eddie Hatcher #0173499, Marion Correctional Institute, POB 2045, Marion, NC 28752. Longtime Native American freedom-fighter being framed for a murder he did not commit.
Leonard Peltier #89637-132, USP Lewisburg, 2400 Robert F Milleo Dr, Lewisburg, PA, 17837. 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.
Continued Rebellion in Bolivia
The resistance began on May 23 with a number of strikes and demonstrations of over 100,000 people but swung into full force the next day when militant demonstrations broke out in La Paz and an indefinite general strike was declared in El Alto. Demonstrators blocked roadways cutting off the capital from the rest of the country. The road to the airport was also blocked and protesters were threatening to occupy the airport leading American Airlines to cancel all flights. Throughout the day, police clouded the city with tear gas and injured at least six with rubber bullets. Almost 40,000 took to the streets throughout the day including 10,000 indigenous peasants. “We cannot allow the k’aras (the white men) to tear apart Bolivia” said an indigenous rebel, coming in from neighbouring El Alto.
Declaring “Now we are going to take the Palace of Government” they marched towards the building, demanding Mesa’s resignation and the nationalization of the oil industry. Police stormed the area, shooting gas grenades and rubber bullets. Sniper’s guns aimed out the windows of one local building, prompted angry demonstrators to hurl sticks of dynamite at the building. Cars and windows were smashed in the surrounding area. Miners and coca growers joined the melee at the Plaza. Two government tanks appeared. The center of La Paz was shut down by almost 20,000 of Bolivia’s poorest.
By early June protesters were announcing their approach with the blast of dynamite. Most are Indian – Aymara or Quechua. They call themselves the “original ones.” Indian musicians spur on their fellow marchers with tunes from traditional instruments – the banjo-like sound of the charango, a small guitar usually made from an armadillo shell, or the zampona, a reed flute that seems to echo the wind blowing across the Andes. Many walked for seven days from far-flung villages. They say they’ve covered more than 100 miles. But just two blocks from their target – the national congress building and the presidential palace – their way is blocked by riot police – the so-called Special Security Group.
The demonstrators are rallying to a call for the Bolivian government to nationalize the country’s natural gas industry and toss out multinational corporations. But their fight runs much deeper – it’s a fight against the free-market economic policies and globalization. This is a battle between the haves and the have-nots, between the downtrodden and desperately poor Indian and mestizo majority against the political and economic elites – a fight some analysts say could be contagious across Latin America. And as symbolized by the wooden sticks and dynamite fuses of demonstrators on one side and the riot shields and helmets of police on the other, it is clear this is the frontline of the fight back.
The ensuing street fights are an uneven contest. It’s a fluid confrontation. Clashes erupt in alleys and around corners and are lost and won in seconds. Protesters rain down rocks and stones from slingshots. Police duck for cover. Then the crack of more rounds being fired into the air and fresh volleys of tear gas drive the mob back. The demonstrators’ most effective weapon is the dynamite charges the miners bring along. The police wrest back control of the plaza and break up into small squads — some on foot, some on motorcycles. They foray down side streets like marauding gangs and disperse small crowds before they can really mass again.
A 51 year-old miner from Potosi, part of the march of miners headed to the Congress meeting in Sucre, was shot and killed by government forces. This was the first death in the threeweek standoff between protesters and the government and is an ominous indicator of the rising tensions. The chilling expression of the rebellious population is, “a las puertas de la guerra civil”, at the gates of civil war. There is a popular saying in Bolivia, Hasta las ultimas consequencias! Literally translated it means, until the final consequences. Politically translated it means, once the people have mobilized past a certain point there is no turning back.
The Incas and Bolivian workers who are protesting and driving from power their sell-out “leaders” have a clear understanding of how the ruling elite is attacking them. This is very different from most Americans, who have been easily tricked by the ruling parties’ sleight-of-hand use of “wedge” politics, into actually supporting our own destruction. What is the difference between an Inca Indian in Bolivia, and a middleclass wage-slave in America?
Answer: The Inca Indian knows where her or his interests lie, recognizes that the leading political parties are thieves and agents of international and domestic corporate interests out to rob them, and joins with thousands of like-minded comrades to take to the streets and drive the crooks and charlatans from power, using everything from sticks to sticks of dynamite. The American, in contrast, is easily snookered by politicians who use “wedge issues” like abortion, gay marriage, defense against “terror,” or posting of the 10 Commandments on public buildings to get her or him to vote against her or his own real interests. Americans are increasingly atomized and connected to each other only through the Continued Rebellion in Bolivia mediation of mass electronic entertainment vehicles, which convey the official version of reality. They travel to and from their places of work in isolated automobiles, from inside which they view other vehicles and their drivers primarily as obstacles and rivals whose only significance to them is that they interfere with their ability to get to their destination. At work, they operate in neo-feudal settings that discourage open discourse and that punish free speech, and that have attacked and largely destroyed any sense of collective action by virtually legislating class autonomy out of existence.
Little wonder that Americans are all strangers in their own neighborhoods, and that they are all fighting – and mostly losing – their individual struggles for survival while Bolivia’s Incas are marching enmasse to defend their rights. For now, the Bolivian elite have dodged a bullet but have come no closer whatsoever to addressing the fundamental issue that brought thousands into the streets and shut down the country – deciding the fate of regional autonomy.
What will the social movements who have mounted such fierce “street heat” do now? Leftist power mongers like Evo Morales and MAS have signaled that they will give the government a truce of unknown duration to allow a dialogue on those issues with the Congress and new President. Other movements, most especially those in El Alto and the altiplano, have made it clear that they will continue to press on with their demands, regardless of the recuperators of revolt.
“People of the Land,” Without Land — Interview with Roberto Ñankucheo
120 years of desperate struggle for their own land, as told by Roberto Ñankucheo, a werken (spokesperson) for the Mapuche community of Neuquen, in southern Argentina.
Mapuche means “people of the land,” but the Mapuche territory is vanishing under the siege of large landowners. The conflict between the Mapuche and the Compañia de Tierras del Sur Argentino (CTSA) has run its legal course. For the Argentine courts, the Patagonian lands belong to whomever is the owner according to the property tax registry as recognized by the state. But a spokesperson for the Mapuche speaks of a perspective of belonging to a territory that has no place in the logic of the courts. “I am Roberto Ñankucheo, I am a werken, a vocero, a spokesperson for the Mapuche community of Neuquen, in southern Argentina. The Mapuche live in five provinces in Argentina: Buenos Aires, Rio Negro, Neuquen, Chubut and in the area north of Santa Cruz. There are also Mapuche who live in what is today called Chile, but what for us is gulumapu, the western land. We are for them puelche, the people of the east.”
Can you briefly summarize the quarrel between the Mapuche and the Compañia de Tierras, which relates to the Italian company Benetton?
Benetton is the concern that bought a little less than one million hectares of land in Patagonia, where the Mapuche live. This could only have been done with the complicity of government leaders, who sold tierras fiscales, communal lands, state-owned, or land bought from other large-scale landowners for which they did not have clear titles of ownership. This land was always inhabited by the Mapuche, but the government of Argentina did not enforce the reforms of the constitution of 1994, which recognized the pre-existence of indigenous people to the state, who possess state-ratified rights to the land. The law says that we have rights to these ancestral territories, but the Argentine government did not decide against Benetton. The most noted case is that of the Curiñanco-Nahuelquir family, accused of having usurped lands belonging to Benetton. It was originally a criminal complaint against the Mapuche for usurpation, and the first criminal court verdict was that there was no usurpation, because there were no elements of a crime: there was no abuse, no illegal activity, no damages— in short, nothing characteristic of a crime. But the civil courts said that Benetton possessed sufficient title of ownership and that the ancestral use of this territory by the Mapuche could not be shown. In reality even in recent times the state has never formalized the rights of the Mapuche to these lands, because it always prefers to give legal guarantees to entrepeneurs, to invasion, rather than to the community.
I would like you to speak of the difference between the European idea of being owners of the land and the concept the Mapuche have of living on a territory.
To begin with one must understand that on this point – “being owner” or “being part of” – the difference between two completely antagonistic worldviews is itself rooted. We think of ourselves as part of the territory, part of nature, we explain our existence—as a people and as individuals—by the manner of which every one of us explains our own origin. Every Mapuche comes from an element of nature: this means that for each one of us our own origins are in forces that reside in our territory, in this territory where we live. In my case, I am Ñanku – that is my surname, Ñankucheo, and Ñanku is an eagle, a young eagle of this area, with a white breast. I explain my existence by way of the tuwun [editor’s note: geographical origin] and the kvpalme [editor’s note: cultural origin of nature], that explain where each one of us comes from: the kvpalme indicates from which natural element we come and the tuwun tells us where we are geographically. When the Ñanku are no more, my own origin will disappear, the foundation on which I explain my belonging to a territorial space will vanish. From here our sense of belonging to a place is formed: belonging to, and not being owners. But if we say that we do not feel ourselves to be owners of a territory, this assertion will be used by those who say, as Benetton: “Yes, we are the owners.” This is difficult to explain in a society like that of Europe, where every territory is owned historically through the logic of invasion. I imagine that it would be even more difficult in a culture like that of Italy, which descended from the Roman Empire. And Roman law is the foundation of the law in Argentina: on the basis of an idea of ownership developed within Roman law they took lands away from the indigenous people. And still today they apply this basis of Roman law that does not consider the possibility of an ancestral use of the land, of the fact of being part of the land without owning the land: Roman law did not know the concepts of kvpalme and tuwun. They are definitions, they are world-views that do not encounter one another.
In addition, the “Western” world-view, based on an idea of development understood as the extraction of resources, has succeeded in creating a new reality in the world of indigenous people: misery. In Africa many indigenous people had no word for “poverty” until the Europeans arrived…
Also in our language, mapudungu, there is no word for “to lack,” because before we did not lack anything: we were part of nature and nature gave us that which we needed to live. There was no concept of “being poor,” of “needing something.” The words “to lack,” “to need” are not words in our language, in mapudungu one cannot speak of a “lack” or “I need...,” we have to add the Spanish verb faltar. It is the same in America, in many of the indigenous cultures there exists no word for “poverty” or “need,” these words arrived with the European invasion.
This ability of the European invaders to create definitions that impoverished reality is an interesting concept. The conquering of Patagonia was called “the conquest of the desert.” But there is no desert in Patagonia…
The huinca* thought in an authoritarian mode: “If I am not here, this place is uninhabited.” The Indians were, for them, savages, they were not human beings: therefore, our land was a desert. There were people, there were cultures that lived together with nature, and they had lived with nature for thousands of years, but the Westerners said: “If there are no cities here one cannot live here, therefore, this is a desert.” Everything depended on the world-view, on the way of seeing the world. Westerners do not respect the world-view of the indigenous people who live in these places. If only they were in a position to listen to how we understand nature, how it is possible to relate ourselves to nature...Mapudungu is a language that permits one to relate oneself to nature. But they never stop to listen: they only understand what is written, or that which is validated by a technician, a professional, an expert that tells them how things are. All the explanations produce the same way of understanding the world. They do not appreciate that there are many more worlds that they still do not understand. None of them understood that they did not discover America: how could they “discover” a continent that was already inhabited? They must come to the realization that they have not discovered anything, that there were already cultures that lived here for thousands of years. But in 500 years they have not become aware that they did not discover anything, and they still think they have to bring about civilization and knowledge. But it is a knowledge that brings destruction.
And the destruction comes to strike at the life of the people. So that there are some Mapuche who are in jail simply for defending their ideas.
Here in Argentina there are a lot of trials against the Mapuche, and also still against our brothers in Chile: they are also part of our people, we feel that they are of the same flesh. In Chile there is a very high level of repression. In fact there are open cases against approximately one hundred of our fellow Mapuche, and other Mapuche have been sentenced to ten years in prison. In my own case I was in jail for a month and a half for “usurpation of land,” a ridiculous accusation: how can I usurp my territory? The state has never been persuasive, neither with its words nor with its agreements. On the contrary: its persuasion has always come by force of arms. First with the cross and the sword, and today with a more sophisticated sword, but it is the same one that tried to subdue us 500 years ago.
*Translator’s note: huinca is a Mapuche word that is used for various designations, including “foreigner,” “white man,” “Christian,” and “an outsider to Mapuche culture.”
Interview by Alberto Prunetti
(translation by James Landes)
Ecological Resistance from Around the World
So, so you think you can tell heaven from hell, blue skies from pain
Can you tell a green field from a cold steel rail? A smile from a veil,
Do you think you can tell?
–Roger Waters, David Gilmore, Wish You Were Here
And when in the work of destruction employed
He himself to no method confines
By fire and by water he gets them destroyed
For the Elements aid his designs
Whether guarded by Soldiers along the Highway
Or closely secured in the room
He shivers them up both by night and by day
And nothing can soften their doom
–General Ludd’s Triumph (An 1812 English Luddite anthem)
April 24, Anderson, SC: Destruction Can Be Fun!
Close to $1 million in damage was done to equipment on a controversial subdivision construction site. “They literally tore the equipment apart with another piece of equipment. My Freightliner dump truck was flipped over numerous times and smashed. Literally disassembled with an excavator,” said the building contractor.
April 26, New South Wales, Australia: Sabotage!
Four men and a woman were arrested and taken to the Bombala pigpen after police discovered three harvesting machines bound with cables, mechanically preventing their operation.
May 15, Queensland, Australia: Transmission Towers Sabotaged
Premier Peter Beattie told the state parliament that the attempts to bring down two electricity transmission towers west of Brisbane, by removing up to 100 bolts on each, were not believed to be acts carried out by “terrorists”, but instead, “malicious vandals”.
The state-owned electricity transmission company Powerlink found the loosened bolts, anchoring a tower at Dinmore near Ipswich, had been removed in an attempt to topple the tower. It could have dragged down up to six others if it had collapsed.
An earlier tampering with a tower in Toowoomba, Australia occurred in July 2004. Beattie said the government had been reluctant to release information earlier because it did not want to encourage copycat incidents. Electrical Trades Union (ETU) deputy state secretary Peter Simpson said the vandalism could have blacked out large parts of the state if either tower had collapsed. “It’s like a cascading effect and the strain it puts on adjacent towers causes them to topple over as well.”
May 17, Fair Oaks, CA: ELF Strikes “Quiet Neighborhood”
Armed with sharp objects and spray paint, ELF operatives went into a Fair Oaks neighborhood overnight to make a statement. A half dozen residents woke to deputies pounding on their doors alerting them that their trucks and SUV’s had been ‘ELF’ed with spray paint and their tires slashed. In addition to the SUV damage, signs were also plastered around the area threatening President Bush and encouraging residents to “Bomb the White House”.
May 18, Long Island, NY: Enigmatic Fires Erupt At Construction Sites
Three fires in the Town of Oyster Bay, occurring within two miles and two hours of each other, caused “considerable damage”, a fire supervisor said. Federal officials from the FBI and BATFE have examined the sites, two involving houses under construction the third a government building. They are trying to determine if the fires were an act of “eco-terrorism.” One fire was so fierce that flames jumped a driveway and set another house on fire. No one was hurt in any of the fires.
After visiting all three sites, town Supervisor John Venditto said he found the timing and placement of the blazes “disturbing.” “When you see three fires within an hour of each other you can’t help but think it’s deliberate and systematic”. The first fire took place at about 2:20am, the second at about 3:25am, which also set the roof and attic of a third house on fire and scorched the framing of another house. In addition four automobiles were damaged along with minor fire damage to another occupied house in the vicinity. The third blaze broke out at 4:45am in a building that housed a garage and storage facility located at the town marina.
One of the owners of the houses under construction stated, “The Laffey Associates houses are selling for $1.1 million each, without a backyard. They were quality homes. The one that burned was about half finished.” At discussions around the fire sites investigators speculated that ELF might consider the new construction sites as their battleground.
May 19, Sierra Madres, Mexico: Forest Defenders Slaughtered
In early May, the Mojica family, who has maintained a strong resistance to logging in the Petatlan mountains since 1998, was attacked by unidentified gunmen. A nine-year old boy and his 20-year old brother were killed, the younger one dying in his mother’s arms. Her husband and two other children were wounded in the ambush. They, along with other members of the Organización Campesina Ecologista de la Sierra de Petatlán, OCESP (Peasant Environmentalist Organization of the Sierra de Petatlán), are in conflict with local caciques (bosses) and have been harassed and attacked, and arrest warrants based on fabricated charges have been issued against them as they try to save Pacific Coast forest from lumber barons. Coincidentally – or not – Boise Cascade canceled contracts for massive cutting operations in the Petatlan citing supply problems. Fifteen logging permits were also revoked.
May 23, Camarles, Spain: ALF Helps Shut Down Primate Facility
A fire seriously damaged generators and offices at a primate breeding facility partially owned by Covance. The farm was set to become Europe’s largest factory supplying monkeys for experimentation. Covance had been trying to make this unit work after earlier attempts in France also failed. Shortly after the ALF action, it was announced that the facility would close down for failure to comply with government permits.
According to the communiqué: “As other ‘comrades’ who have fought against the farm have condemned the raid because of its violent component, we want to make clear that this should be understood as a proof of the most absolute rejection that we feel.”
June 12, Oppland, Norway: Outfoxed?
Two buildings were burned (without animals inside) at a fox farm. Several cages were opened and “Morder” – murderer – spray-painted. Police are investigating the incident as arson, suspecting animal rights activists to responsible. One building was destroyed and damages are estimated in the hundreds of thousands NKR.
July 8, Success, NH: Attackers of Logging Site Relentless
A North County logging operation has been vandalized again, the latest arson caused half a million dollars damage to equipment. It’s not the first time logging equipment has been damaged on Thomas Dillon’s property. The investigation is continuing into the fire last month that destroyed $500,000 worth of logging equipment. The logging equipment destroyed by the July 8 fire included a plow truck, an excavator and an 18-wheel tractor trailer.”Whoever did this, I consider them homegrown terrorists,” said Berlin Mayor Robert Danderson.
July 18, Bloomington, IN: Escalated Resistance to I-69 Expansion
An extension of Interstate 69, part of the planned “NAFTA Superhighway” crossing eight states to link Canada and Mexico, has become the focus of resistance this summer. In late May, a bomb scare put a temporary halt in business as usual when the customer comment box at the State Capitol building started ticking.
In June, protesters spray-painted slogans on the capital building. When the police attempted to get the large unruly group to stop and remain in place so they could investigate the crime, the protestors ignored the pig’s request. Additional cops from the State Police, Indianapolis Police, IUPUI Police, and Park Rangers responded to the scene resulting in 24 arrests for disorderly conduct. One person jumped on the back of a pig and was subdued by a Taser. She refused to identify herself and has been arrested for battery on a police officer, resisting arrest, as well as disorderly conduct. Over the course of the investigation cameras were recovered from several of the arrested persons and warrants issued to examine the pictures and identify the specific persons responsible for defacing the Statehouse. Spectators in the area also gave up their cameras toassist the pigs; no warrant necessary for these good citizens.
On July 18, the office of a contractor overseeing the final design for one section of the highway was vandalized. The office of DLZ Indiana Inc. had been an earlier target of peaceful protests. In this latest incident, incendiary devices were thrown, attempts made to break doors and windows, and signs and security cameras painted red. The incendiary devices were improvised using light bulbs according to Gary Abell, Department of Transportation spokesperson. The base of several light bulbs were removed, the bulb filled with tar and a cloth fuse attached, lit, and thrown at the building. Nothing caught fire but the building was splattered with tar. When workers tried to remove the black stuff, it ignited, contradicting their first assumption that it was merely black paint. Damages were estimated at $5000.
July 22, Dublin, Ireland: Resisting Shell Oil Results in Arrest
Five men were arrested in June for contempt of court when they refused to allow Shell to install a pipeline on their land. A month later thousands showed solidarity with resistors by staging street protests. Other resistance actions have resulted in delays costing hundreds of thousands of euros.
July 26, Durango, CO: Vandal Targets Resort Construction
An estimated $100,000 worth of equipment was vandalized at Tamarron Resort last week, interrupting construction on the development’s ambitious expansion project for a day and a half. Vandals slashed truck tires and shot out windows on nine vehicles, cut fuel pump lines and defaced other property, said Lt. Dan Bender of the La Plata County Sheriff’s Office. Among the heavy equipment wrecked were excavators and three dump trucks. The equipment belonged to Rathjen Construction and Asphalt Paving Co., a Durango contractor preparing roads and water lines for homes under construction.
These acts follow the late July 19 attack when at least one person broke into the resort and trashed four separate construction sites, Bender said. Property on County Road 200 near Rockwood was also destroyed.
Tamarron Resort, about eight miles south of Durango Mountain Resort, recently added nine holes to its golf course. The resort also features a golfers’ club, condominiums, several large houses and a lodge. Expansion plans call for large homes to be built on 350 new lots.
“We don’t know whether it was an ex-employee or one of these ‘Earth First’ people,” said company owner Bob Rathjen. “They really did know how to sabotage the place.”
Late July, Whatcom County, WA: Suspicious Fires Burn Homes Under Construction
Suspicious fires have destroyed two homes under construction in Whatcom County in less than a week. A fire on Monday caused $100,000 in damage to a home being built and Fire Inspector Bill Hewett called the fire “suspicious.”
A fire on July 20 destroyed another home under construction and accidental causes were ruled out. Investigators are trying to find evidence to see if they have a serial arsonist on their hands or whether eco-terrorists are trying to send a message.
August 4, Cuzco, Peru: Resistance to Polluting Mine
Thousands of people have occupied the Rio Blanco copper mining facility. Police have killed at least seven, up to eight are missing, and 32 have been arrested so far. One pig was shot and injured when his gun was wrested away from him. The area’s residents are trying to push Britishowned Monterrico Metals out of their community after they destroyed farm land and polluted local waterways with the toxic chemicals necessary for the largescale extraction process. The company’s managers insist they have no intention on leaving and in fact plan on making it the second largest mine in the country.
August 7, Bojong, Indonesia: Residents Clash With Police
For the eighth time since the plant was constructed in 2002, people living close to the Bojong waste treatment plant have battled with cops. They are trying to prevent it from opening due to the amount of pollution they fear it will create. In this latest insurrection, they barricaded the facility and used molotovs, and other projectiles to prevent access. The police did not fire on them this time – they have in the past – in an effort to soften the resistance. But the residents are refusing to compromise. The plant must go!
August 22, Montpelier, VT: When WILL it All End?
The fight over the future of Sabin’s Pasture has gone from words to physical action. Two tires on a piece of logging equipment being used to clear-cut the 95-acre parcel of land were punctured. Joe Codling, who with his family owns Codling Bros., which is logging the land, is pretty certain the act was intentional.
It’s the second act of vandalism in as many weeks on the site. When Codling Bros. first started logging the forested portion of the property, which is owned by the Aja/Zorzi family, someone took grease, smeared it on the equipment, and wrote, “I am the Lorax. Stop logging,” Codling said. Angeles Zorzi, who owns the property with her brother, came out to view the damage. She shook her head and said, “When is this all going to end?”
Controversy over the landmark parcel on the outskirts of the capital began in 2001 when the Aja/Zorzi family expressed interest in developing the land. Some in the community had a strong reaction to what they considered out-of-scale development. The proposed project at one point called for up to 600 housing units, in a city whose population hovers just above 8,000. Since then, a heated dispute over the parcel’s future has been under way.
August 30, ME: Attacks on Plum Creek Timber Continue
A Plum Creek official said his SUV tires were slashed and “Leave Maine” scratched into the passenger door during a public meeting about the company’s controversial North Woods rezoning plan. James Lehner, Plum Creek’s regional general manager drove away from the meeting before realizing his tire was flat.
Logging equipment belonging to Alan Emerson, a private contractor who works on the project, was also vandalized. On remote land in Beaver Cove Township, vandals broke the controls inside a logging vehicle, smashed another vehicle’s windshield, and moved several machines to different sections of the land. Computer wire was wrapped around logs that were moved into the roadway and scattered along an unpaved logging road. “That cluttered the whole road up for 300 or 400 yards,” said Mike Gould, an investigator with the Piscataquis County Sheriff’s Office. “It was pretty brazen of these people to do that.” The vandals also left behind the message, “Stop cutting wood,” scratched in the fellerbuncher, a machine that cuts trees. Police think this act of vandalism is not connected to the theft of about $5,000 worth of equipment another sub contractor reported in July from a work site on Plum Creek land in the Bowerbank area. No arrests have been made in connection to the theft.
The resistance to Plum Creek has been ongoing. In May, local police and Plum Creek workers were forced to climb on the roof to remove a banner that read “Scum Creek = Playgrounds for the Idle Rich”. Beneath the banner, the building was painted with the message “2nd Growth Not 2nd Homes.” Other painting on the building, roof, windows, and signs included “P.C. Out of Maine”, “EF!”, “No New ‘Camps’”, “Go Home!”, “Leave the North Woods Alone”, and “Forest Liquidators”.
And in July, vandals targeted the offices of a land management company proposing the largest development ever in the North Woods, hours before environmentalists gathered publicly to show their opposition to the proposal. Workers arrived at Plum Creek’s state headquarters to discover someone had cut down the sign in front of the building. Also, there were spray-painted messages including “Leave Our Land” and “Maine Is Not For Sale.”
Seattle-based Plum Creek announced its development intentions for the Moosehead Lake region in December. The project would include 975 house lots, four sporting camps, two resorts and a golf course. The project is the largest subdivision ever proposed in the 10.5 million acres of unorganized territory that the Land Use Regulation Commission oversees. As part of the plan, Plum Creek proposed setting aside 89 percent of the 426,000 acres as “working forestland”. Most of the development would occur in the next 10 to 15 years, Plum Creek officials have said.
Wabamum, Canada: Fresh Water Murky, Priorities of Capital Clear
A Canadian National (CN) Railway train derailment spilled a large amount of bunker fuel oil into an area lake. CN was quick to begin repair on the tracks but slow to stop the spread of oil into the environment. Angry residents blocked the tracks when the company refused to attend a community meeting to discuss the cleanup or send in the promised cleanup crew. The lake provides both drinking water and tourist dollars to the village.
Earth and Animal Liberation Political Prisoners:
Josh Demmitt, 12314-081, PO Box 6000, Federal Prison Camp, Sheridan, OR 97378, USA. Serving 30 months for an arson on a University animal testing facility. Due for release 24/04/06.
Aaron Labe Linas #38448-083, FMC Butner, PO Box 1600, Butner, NC 27509. ELF prisoner doing time for a series of actions against urban sprawl and other targets.
Charles Arthur Jordan IV, #68163065, Federal Prison Camp Sheridan, PO Box 6000, Sheridan, OR 97378, USA. On remand accused of planning to destroy equipment belonging to a quarry company which he allegedly claims is polluting a river.
Ted Kaczynski #04475-046, US Pen-Admin Max Facility, PO Box 8500, Florence Colorado 81226. 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.
Stephen Marshall, 68511-065, Federal Detention Center, PO Box 5000, Sheridan, OR 97378, USA. On remand accused of planning to destroy equipment belonging to a quarry company which he allegedly claims is polluting a river.
Christopher McIntosh 30512-013, FDC Seatac, Federal Detention Center, P.O. BOX 13900, Seattle, WA 98198, USA. On remand accused of a joint ELF/ ALF arson attack on a McDonalds.
Fran Thompson #1090915 HU 1C, WERDCC, P.O. Box 300, Valdalia, MO 63382. Longtime eco-activist serving a life sentence for shooting dead, in self-defense, a stalker who had broken into her home.
John Wade #38548-083, FCI Petersburg Low, Satellite Camp, PO Box 90027, Petersburg, VA 23804, USA. Serving 37 months for a series of ELF actions against McDonalds & Burger King, urban sprawl, the construction industry, and an SUV dealership.
Helen Woodson #03231-045 FMC Carswell, PO Box 27137, Admin Max Unit, Fort Worth, TX 76127. 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.
Peter Young #223341, Dane County Jail, 115 West Doty St, Madison, WI 53703, USA. On remand accused of releasing mink from a fur farm.
For more info: www.spiritoffreedom.org.uk
all day long…
the incessant high-pitched sounds
beep beep beep beep beep beep beep beep beep
and the lowgrinding-angstmetal screaming
of earth movers in reverse
ripping. Screaming. Trees. Flowers. Critters
agony upon agony rages in me
so that those petrochemical shitheads
can make a bit more money
FUCK! FUCK! FUCK!
a full moon night
when the only sound I should hear
is the roaring, crackling fire in the stove
the sizzling water heating to wash up with
and the cranberries popping sweet
i hear it
i hear it again
the incessant high-pitched sounds
beep beep beep beep beep beep beep beep
and the lowgrinding-angstmetal screaming
of earth movers in reverse
destroying, shredding, killing
disrupting my peace…
...and for the first time
in 300 full moons
i remember my
22-magnum semi-automatic rifle
The Ballot or The Bullet? — Little Known (But Highly Entertaining) Assassination Trivia, by Black Powder
“Violence among humans seems to be worst when it is institutionalized (as in a standing army). Then it becomes the basis of the society’s economy. It becomes self-perpetuating and self-justifying. In addition to the death and destruction it causes, it re-enforces a masculinist character among the people. This is not the violence I am talking about, but rather the hit-and-run spontaneous violence of autonomous anarchist collectives. Not against the general populace, but against those in control. Anarchist violence still kills, but is quite a different thing from the massive, scientifically planned objective violence of institutions like the Pentagon. It is more like the violence of a cornered animal defending itself. Still, those who kill defile themselves, and they must be prepared to accept the consequences of that defilement. But at this stage in the crisis of international industrialism, I see no effective alternative to revolutionary violence. And revolutionary violence is effective—that’s why the U.S. government is so uptight about it.
I’m not saying that revolutionary violence is the only form of resistance or even the most important form at all times. But it does play a part, depending on the circumstances. Revolution is an act of both creation and destruction.
For those who detest the very thought of violence, let them consider for a moment the powder keg the U.S. ruling class is already sitting on. The U.S. today is a country whose economy is based on ghastly exploitation of peoples throughout the world. Not only do U.S. corporations exploit these peoples’ labor, but they take the better part of their natural resources, churn them into commodities, and sell them in the U.S. and other countries, where they are quickly converted to garbage. As a result of this imperialism, mass starvation now stalks the Third World. Within the borders of the U.S. itself, the ruling class and the privileged professional classes live as zombies, utterly alienated from their sexuality, from nature, and from themselves. The great American middle class lives in a plastic bubble, surrounded by suburbs and television, totally oblivious to the dragon whose tail it is treading on. At the bottom, the lower classes burn with resentment. With each passing year, the skies grow darker with pollution, and the earth is ever more gorged with refuse. The privileged classes grow old, filled with fat and cancer.
These outrages cannot last forever! Sooner or later, something is going to give, and when it does, the debate over violence will be academic indeed.”
–Arthur Evans, Witchcraft and the Gay Counterculture
Probably the first clandestine organization to consciously put into practice the strategy of “propaganda by deed” was the Narodnaya Volya, or People’s Will, a small group of Russian nihilists that was founded in 1878 to challenge Tsarist rule. For the Narodnaya Volya, the apathy and alienation of the Russian masses afforded few alternatives other than the resort to daring and dramatic acts of violence designed to attract attention to the group and its objective. However, unlike the many establishment historians who have equated the principle of ‘propaganda by deed’ with the wanton targeting of civilians in order to assure political publicity through the shock and horror produced by wholesale bloodshed, the Narodnaya Volya displayed a nearly idealistic attitude towards their utilization of revolutionary violence. To them, ‘propaganda by deed’ meant the selective targeting of specific individuals whom the group considered the embodiment of the autocratic, oppressive State. Hence their ‘victims”—the Tsar, leading members of the royal family, senior government officials—were deliberately chosen for their ‘symbolic’ value as the dynastic heads and subservient agents of a corrupt and tyrannical regime. An intrinsic element in the group’s collective beliefs was that ‘not one drop of superfluous blood’ should be shed in pursuit of aims, however meritorious or visionary they might be.
Even after having selected their targets with great care and the utmost deliberation, group members still harbored profound regrets about taking the life of a fellow human being. Their unswerving adherence to this principle is perhaps best illustrated by the failed attempt on the life of the Grand Duke Serge Alexandrovich made by a successor organization to the Narodnaya Volya in 1905. As the royal carriage came into view, the insurgent tasked with the assassination saw that the duke was unexpectedly accompanied by his children and therefore aborted his mission rather than risk harming the intended target’s family (the Duke was killed in a later attack). Ironically, the Narodnaya Volya’s most sensational accomplishment also led directly to its demise.
On 1 March 1881 the group assassinated Tsar Alexander II. The failure of eight previous plots had led the conspirators to take extraordinary measures to ensure the success of this attempt. Four volunteers were given four bombs each and deployed along the alternative routes followed by the Tsar’s cortege. As two of the bomberassassins stood in wait on the same street, the sleighs carrying the Tsar and his Cossack escort approached the first nihilist mutineer, who hurled his bomb at the passing sleigh, missing it by inches. The whole entourage came to a halt as soldiers seized the ill-fated executioner and the Tsar descended from his sleigh to check on a bystander wounded by the explosion. ‘Thank God, I am safe,’ the Tsar reportedly declared—just as the second bomber emerged from the crowd and detonated his weapon, killing both himself and the noxious autocrat. The full weight of the Tsarist State now fell on the heads of the Narodnaya Volya. Acting on information provided by the arrested member, the secret police swept down on the group’s safe houses and hideouts, rounding up most of the plotters, who were quickly tried, convicted and hanged.
Further information from this group led to subsequent arrests, so that within a year of the assassination only one member of the original executive committee was still at large. She too was finally apprehended in 1883, at which point the first generation of Narodnaya Volya armed fighters ceased to exist, although various successor confederation’s subsequently emerged to carry on the struggle. At the time, the consequences of the Tsar’s assassination could not have been known or appreciated by either the condemned or their comrades languishing in prison or exiled to Siberia. But in addition to precipitating the beginning of the end of Tsarist rule, the group also deeply influenced individual revolutionaries and subversive coalition’s elsewhere.
To the nascent anarchist movement, the ‘propaganda by deed’ strategy championed by the Narodnaya Volya provided a model to be emulated. Within four months of the Tsar’s murder, a group of radicals in London convened an ‘anarchist conference’ which publicly applauded the assassination and extolled tyrannicide as a means to achieve revolutionary change. The concept took hold and anarchists were responsible for an impressive string of individual assassinations of heads of state from about 1878 until the second decade of the twentieth century; After Tsar Alexander came a failed assassination attempt on Kaiser Wilhelm I by anarchist Karl Eduard Nobiling in 1878, followed by the assassinations of French president Carnot in 1894, Spanish prime minister Canovas in 1897, Premier Antonio Cánovas del Castillo of Spain (1897), Empress Elizabeth of Austria in 1898, King Umberto 1 of Italy in 1900 (planned in Paterson, NJ), U.S. President McKinley (1901), Russian interior minister Von Plehve in 1904, Grand Duke Sergei of Russia in 1905, King Carlos of Portugal and son Luiz in 1908, Russian prime minister Stolypin in 1911, Premier José Canalejas of Spain (1912) and King George of Greece in 1913. Being a ruler was obviously a riskier business a hundred years ago!
While candle-holding liberals and “anarcho-gradualists” pursued a strategy of half-hearted “protest”, capitulation and guaranteed defeat, the practitioners of Propaganda by Deed understood that their relationship with the established order was one of TOTAL WAR, and that they were involved in a life and death struggle for the independence of their minds and bodies.As members of the exploited and dispossessed, they were compelled to turn towards revolution because they grasped that the pounding pressures of the predatory System left no time for placid reflection, and through their exercise of retaliatory homicide, they contributed to exposing the process of pacification which holds the whole authoritarian order together.
Disparate and haphazard though the anarchists’ assaults were, the movement’s emphasis on individual action or operations carried out by small cells of like-minded radicals made detection and prevention by the police particularly difficult, thus further heightening the State’s fear of this ungovernable force. In 1901, following the assassination of US President William McKinley (by a young Hungarian refugee, Leon Czolgocz, who – while disavowed by more “conservative” and reformist anarchists – was nonetheless influenced by the philosophy), a troubled and apprehensive Congress swiftly enacted legislation barring known anarchists or anyone ‘who disbelieves in or is opposed to all organized government’ from entering the United States. We’ve anthologized this inventory of obscure and uncelebrated assassination folklore in honor of the defiant, insubordinate wimmin and men who made the decision to stop whining and start winning, and who exhibited the willingness and capability of Hitting Back!
The Revenge of Leon Czolgocz!
In October of 1912 Theodore (Teddy) Roosevelt was on his way to address a campaign rally in Milwaukee, Wisconsin when he was shot with a .38 revolver by German immigrant John Schrank. Schrank claimed that the ghost of William McKinley came to him in a dream and told him to avenge his assassination by killing his successor, Roosevelt! The bullet smashed through Roosevelt’s eyeglasses case and his two-page speech, fractured his fourth rib and lodged in his chest. Roosevelt, famed for his “dramatic flair”, insisted on delivering his speech as planned, and only afterwards went to a hospital for treatment. He unfortunately recovered quickly, but did lose the election. Schrank was sent to an insane asylum.
Hungry Stomachs Lead To Loaded Guns
Teddy’s cousin and fellow president Franklin D. Roosevelt was almost killed before he could even take office! On February 15, 1933, anarchist Guiseppe Zangara attempted to assassinate FDR while the then President-elect was giving a speech in Miami, Florida. As he shot, he shouted, “Too many people are starving to death!” Zangara – an unemployed brick-layer – later said, “I don’t hate Mr. Roosevelt personally... I hate all officials and everybody who is rich.”
Zangara, a Sicilian anarchist, had lived in New Jersey since 1924, and had only been in Miami for a couple of months. According to the papers, “he was in Miami because it was warm and he was out of work, and he had lost $200 on the dog races.” It is said that he wanted to kill kings and presidents of wealthy governments since he was 17.
By chance, Zangara heard that FDR would be in Miami to give a speech. Three days before the shooting, Zangara purchased a 38-caliber pistol at a Miami Avenue pawnshop. As Roosevelt finished a short speech at Bayside Park, Zangara fired five rounds from 25 feet. Roosevelt was completely untouched by the gunfire due to Zangara losing his footing atop an uneven chair, and a bystander striking his arm. One bullet struck and fatally wounded Chicago’s Mayor Anton Cermak, who was shaking hands with Roosevelt at the time. Four others were wounded, including Mrs. Joseph Gill, wife of the President of Florida Power and Light.
An example of swift retribution by the State, Zangara pled guilty five days later and was sentenced to 80 years in Raiford Prison. At his sentencing he said of the President-elect, “I decide to kill him and make him suffer. I want to make it 50-50. Since my stomach hurt I want to make even with capitalists by kill the President. My stomach hurt long time.”
Anton Cermak subsequently died from his wounds two weeks later, and Zangara was immediately tried for his murder. In perhaps one of the shortest periods of time between crime and execution (32 days), Zangara was sentenced to the electric chair and executed on March 20 at Raiford. Unrepentant, Zangara was cursing and railing against capitalists as he was put to death. Giuseppe Zangara’s last words were spoken to the judge present at his execution; “You give me electric chair. I no afraid of that chair! You one of capitalists. You is crook man too. Put me in electric chair. I no care!”
A spectacularized journalistic account of Zangara is detailed in a book by Blaise Picchi entitled “The Five Weeks of Giuseppe Zangara: The Man Who Would Assassinate FDR.”
There was also a film that came out that same year (1933) called The Man Who Dared, which is an “imaginative biography” of Anton Cermak, the Chicago Mayor who was killed in the line of fire during Zangara’s attempt on FDR; Zangara is also discussed in the 1992 documentary Stalking the President: A History of American Assassins (directed by Peter Gust).
Why Would Anyone Shoot a Demoncrat?
A failed “hit” also took place against FDR’s heir, Harry S. Truman (former Ku Klux Klan member, anti-Semite, and the only “human” to ever order the use of the atomic bomb—twice) on November 1, 1950. Two Puerto Rican nationalists, Oscar Collazo and Griselio Torresola, tried to shoot their way into the president’s residence but were stopped outside by guards. In a hail of gunfire, observed by the president from an upstairs window, a guard and Torresola were killed, while two other guards and Collazo were wounded. Collazo was sent to prison and later released.
The Pope’s Faith in the Afterlife is Tested
In the early 1970’s, our occasional allies, the surrealists, took a (literal) stab at “propaganda by the deed” when Benjamin Mendoza Flores, a Bolivian surrealist painter, attempted to put the kibosh on Pope Paul VI. On November 27, 1970, Pope Paul VI, visiting the Philippines, was attacked at the Manila airport by the dagger-wielding Bolivian painter disguised as a priest. Although the Vatican maintained the pontiff was not hurt, it was revealed in 1979, a year after his death, that Pope Paul had, in fact, suffered a serious chest wound. Flores explained his act as being in opposition to hypocrisy and superstition.
Why Settle For Impeachment?
During the course of researching this special investigative feature it was revealed that 9/11 was not the first time that someone conspired to fly a plane into the White House. One would think the methods of assassinating the U.S. President would be quite varied, but in fact the only proven manner of doing so is the use of a firearm. Not only has no other device or technique ever been successful, but to the best of our knowledge there has only been one other effort – to use aircraft – and it was directed at Richard “Tricky Dick” Nixon.
Sam Byck, an unemployed furniture salesman who hated Nixon and capitalism, and had protested at the White House to impeach him, was the heroic individual who undertook this assignment. The government later claimed that he had a history of mental illness, and was investigated by the Secret Service in 1972 after he threatened President Nixon. On February 22, 1974, Byck, chief orchestrator and sole member of “Operation Pandora’s Box”, ventured to hi-jack a commercial jetliner from Baltimore-Washington International Airport with the intent of flying it “as best I can” into the White House to assassinate Nixon.
Poor Sam never even made it off the ground though. During the botched action, he killed a security officer in the airport; then after a brief cockpit struggle in which he fatally shot the pilot and copilot, Byck himself was shot twice by the police while still on the ground. Byck then put his gun to his right temple and blew his brains all over the instrument panel.
[Editors Note: In addition to all these various attempts on the life of the “Commander-in-Chief”, eight governors, seven U.S. Senators, nine U.S. Congressmen, eleven mayors, 17 state legislators, and eleven federal-level judges have been violently attacked. No other country with a population of over 50 million has had as high a number of political assassinations or attempted assassinations.]
“Anarchy, once achieved, makes further bloodshed irrelevant. Away with our explosives, then! Away with our destroyers! They have no place within our better world. But let us raise a toast to all our bombers, all our assassins, most unlovely and unforgivable. Let’s drink to their health…then meet with them no more.”
“My sympathy for the solitary killer ends where tactics begin; but perhaps tactics need scouts driven by individual despair. However that may be, the new revolutionary tactics — which will be based indissolubly on the historical tradition and on the practice, so widespread and so disregarded, of individual realization — will have no place for people who only want to mimic the gestures of Ravachol or Bonnot. But on the other hand these tactics will be condemned to theoretical hibernation if they cannot, by other means, attract collectively the individuals whom isolation and hatred for the collective lie have already won over to the rational decision to kill or to kill themselves. No murderers — and no humanists either! The first accept death, the second impose it. Let ten men meet who are resolved on the lightning of violence rather than the long agony of survival; from this moment, despair ends and tactics begin”
Anarchist Resistence from Around the World
“We must discover new frontiers…People have been standing for centuries before a worm-eaten door, making pinholes in it with increasing ease. The time has come to kick it down, for it is only on the other side that everything begins.”
Late April-Early May, Cheverly, MD: Glue and Graffiti
Several sites around the city have been targeted by “unknown anarchists”. “Free the children” was tagged on a power box at one public school. In other instances locks were glued shut.
May 10, Athens, Greece: Anarchists Release Hostages
Greek anarchists released two senior politicians and scores of others following a standoff sparked by scuffles with the police at an Athens university. The release came seven hours after anarchists wearing black masks attacked a book-launching ceremony at the Athens Polytechnic, keeping at least 100 guests and politicians in near siege-like conditions overnight.
The hostages left the compound safely, but only after their captors, chanting anti-state slogans, were allowed to walk out freely. No arrests were made as scores of snipers and riot police were ordered to retreat from the tense scene. Witnesses and police officials said the anarchists were enraged on their return from a protest march the previous evening when they spotted armed security guards on campus grounds. A senior police official said, “Their first reaction was to attack the security guard who was escorting one of the two politicians...When the situation seemed to deteriorate the guard fired a warning shot.” A 28-year-old male anarchist was shot in the foot, consequently the security guard sustained minor head and body injuries from club-wielding anarchists. Both of the injured were rushed to state hospitals and police reinforcements were sent to the scene.
The anarchists, who swiftly swelled from a group of 30 to 150, had stormed the school’s auditorium where the audience was attending the booklaunch ceremony. Among them were Christos Verelis, a former transport minister, and Evangelos Venizelos, a former culture minister and constitutional expert who co-wrote the country’s ban on police presence at state universities. The socialist politicians were held hostage for roughly seven hours. One politician left the complex with anarchist graffiti sprayed on the back of his jacket.
May 15, Greece: The Spoils of War
Seventy youths hurled Molotov cocktails at a riot police bus parked in the central Athenian district of Exarchia, but no injuries were reported. None of the homemade bombs struck their target but two garbage dumpsters were set alight, according to police who chased the youths. An anonymous caller to the Mega television channel said it had been a reprisal for the May 10 injury of a 28-year-old man by police gunfire outside Athens Polytechnic. Later, photographs posted on the Internet showed masked youths posing with riot police shields and a helmet reportedly stolen during the attack.
In early July, during a surveillance operation, police arrested two men in connection with the attack as they were trying to dispose of the riot shield, which they had smashed into small pieces and placed in garbage bags, police sources said. Police found a shotgun and bullets at the home of one suspect, and a police helmet, gas mask, bulletproof vest, shotgun and chainsaw at the home of the other.
May 19, Exarchia, Greece: Police Attacks Follow Antifascist Demo
After a 2,500-strong antifascist demo in Athens, cops launched a full-scale operation arresting over 100 people. This appears to be an act of revenge for the humiliating attack of a police unit and the partial expropriation of its equipment days before.
Riot police flooded Exarchia following riots by anarchists who had just concluded the Athens demonstration against neo-fascist groups. Rioters armed with petrol bombs set fire to rubbish dumpsters and destroyed a parked car. Others threw stones at other parked cars and two bank branches causing extensive damage. Using copious quantities of tear gas, riot squad pigs gave chase to through the streets of Exarchia, eventually detaining 141 people.
Throughout the night, the city streets were packed with undercover and riot police. People were arrested in the streets, cafes and during house raids. The owner of one of the establishments, left-wing activist and former terrorism suspect Epaminondas Skyftoulis, was arrested for allegedly operating the cafe without a license and the keeping of smoke bombs on the premises. Thirteen people were charged with felonies and 6 with misdemeanors. A spontaneous solidarity demonstration was formed outside the police headquarters, only to be attacked with tear gas by the riot cops.
May 20, Palo Alto, CA: Lytton Plaza, Alive Again?
A “Reclaim-The-Streets” (RTS) event, billed as a “revolutionary street party” in downtown Palo Alto, may be the first serious demonstration at Lytton Plazain decades. In the 1960s and early ’70s, the plaza was the site for numerous summer demonstrations protesting State oppression, from the Vietnam War to a sound curfew and anti-commune ordinance.
The night began when a group, estimated at between 100 and 200 persons – mostly older teenagers and collegeage – gathered at Lytton Plaza. Fifty to seventy began marching around the downtown area chanting and waving flags and signs. The event escalated within the first half-hour when one demonstrator whacked a police car with a “flag thing”. Police then cordoned off several blocks and moved in on the marchers, arresting one whom was suspected of smashing a car window and cornering others. “Class War”, “Fuck theRich”, “Solution: Revolution”, and other revolutionary anti-capitalist slogans littered the streets. A group of anarchists also managed to commandeer a dumpster, and quickly and with much resolve, planted it in front of the street and tipped it over, while the street party and various banners blocked off the front of a block.
The event was sponsored by Anarchist Action, described on its web site as a “grouping of several anarchist collectives, affinity groups, and individuals throughout the San Francisco Bay Area, who have come together to organize our own forms of resistance based upon anarchist principles.” On the site they announced a “suburban insurrection” and exhorted people to “Live without dead time!” “Every aspect of our lives is beyond our control,” it said. “From where we work to where we sleep, when we go to school and where we play, outside forces dominate our environment, and our lives become repetitions of the same meaningless nothing.” Police patrol our streets, global markets make our decisions, and we live our lives through television screens, spectating and mimicking. This isn’ta coincidence. All around the world, from Iraq to China to the Bay Area, people are being marginalized and subjugated by an invasive global capitalism. But survival is getting old – we want to live!”
The event raged for at least two hours, involved 250 people, and at least 4-5 police departments, and resulted in two arrests. Reports of large amounts of streetart/graffiti, andattacks on various large-scale corporate businesses have been reported as well.
May 23, Kansas City: Anarchist Anti-War Protest Rocks Plaza
At 4pm on the Kansas City Plaza, the monthly liberal peace rally occurred as usual. However, this time a group of twenty masked anarchists expressed their own rage against the Iraq War. After marching through the peace rally chanting, “We’re fed up with symbolism. Take the Streets, Disrupt the War!” they ran through the streets and sidewalks wreaking havoc on the Plaza. While anarchists on bikes created traffic interference and blocked intersections, others grabbed trashcans, newspaper stands, tables from yuppie establishments, and other items to throw into the streets.
“Fight the Rich. Arm the Poor. We want a Class War!” was heard as the action continued. An anonymous protester explained to onlookers that the Plaza was disrupted because it is owned by the Rich, who are operating the Iraq War, and serves as the “urban playground” for Kansas City Metro’s Rich and Upper Class-while mass poverty abounds in the metropolitan area. The protesters stressed that the only way to stop the Iraq War is to overthrow the racist capitalist system behind it.
Late May, Athens, Greece: Labor Ministry Bombed
The armed “Revolutionary Struggle” cell claimed responsibility for the late May bombing of the Greek Labor Ministry in a communiqué published in the newspaper To Pontiki. The early-morning bombing damaged the entrance to the building and shattered windows in surrounding buildings.
“This was a response to the neoliberal plans of the Greek State for labor relations and marks the beginning of a new round of action,” said the statement. The group called for an “armed struggle” and “revolution” which would lead to political and social freedom.
Revolutionary Struggle first appeared in September 2003 when it placed two homemade bombs at the main Athens court complex, slightly injuring a cop. The organization also claimed responsibility for the Kallithea police station bombing 100 days before the start of last year’s Athens Olympics. In this latest statement, the group also claimed the bombing of two riot police buses last October that did not result in any injuries.
June 5, Greece: Arsonists Damage Two Banks in Athens
About 15 anarchists went on a rampage in central Athens, throwing gasoline bombs that damaged two banks. No arrests or injuries were reported. Police said the pre-dawn attack in central Athens targeted the Egnatia Bank and the Commercial Bank of Greece. The attack follows a bomb attack the previous week at Greece’s Labor Ministry.
Earlier that day, a pack of five men torched wiring leading to a surveillance camera at a downtown intersection. The previous day, another six surveillance cameras were damaged in different parts of the Greek capital.
June 7, Greece: Cop Car Firebombed
Unidentified arsonists threw two Molotov cocktail bombs at a police patrol car parked for repairs in a workshop near the Pedion tou Areos park, Athens pigs said. No one was injured but the car sustained significant damage after a fire broke out.
June 8, Greece: Anarchist Youth Target Police
A group of five hooded anarchist youths hurled Molotov cocktail bombs at a police van parked at a road junction in the central Athenian district of Exarchia. No one was injured in the attack.
June 9, Greece: “New Democracy” Party Offices Targeted
A group of anarchists hurled Molotov cocktails at offices of the ruling New Democracy party in the southern coastal suburb of Alimos. There was minor damage to the premises but no injuries were reported.
June 10, Denmark: Minister’s Home Targeted
Denmark’s idyll of bicycling monarchs and accessible politicians was shattered when Immigration Minister Rikke Hvilshøj’s car was firebombed. Flames spread from the garage and engulfed the roof of her home. “We heard a large explosion and my family got out of the home,” said Ms Hvilshøj, who has presided over some of the harshest immigration policies in Europe.
The Minister and her two young children have been moved to a secret location. Bodyguards, normally used ad hoc for Danish politicians, were hastily assigned to all Cabinet Ministers. Ms Hvilshøj was seen outside Parliament with two police escorts. The informal relationship between politicians and the voters is part of Danish culture. Parliament can be visited without elaborate security checks, ministers bicycle between appointments and Queen Margrethe goes shopping in Copenhagen with friends and courtiers, rather than with police escorts.
But the passion stirred by Denmark’s immigration rules is strong. Five years ago a car belonging to the head of the Danish immigration service was firebombed. The latest attack was carried out by an anarchist group calling itself “Action Group Border-less Beate”.
June 18, Asheville, SC: Propaganda Abounds
We’ve heard that all around the city of Asheville, anarchist and anti-civilization slogans and threats have been spray painted on public walls and capitalist property. Comments like “Democracy Is A Pacifier”, “Never Work”, “Smash Clocks”, “Kill God”, “Lifeless”, “Quit Your Job-Steal Everything”, “Consumers Are Slaves”, “Jesus Is A Loser”, “Your Priest Is Your Pimp”, “Your Lives Are Governed By Flashing Lights”, and more have been seen in alleyways, at the local mall, on computer and cellphone stores, gas station pumps, art gallerys, local “health food” stores; basically everywhere!
July 3, Athens, Greece: Fire to the EYE!
Authorities are fingering anarchists in the newest incidences of surveillance destruction. In five different parts of Athens, cameras were destroyed in what police have called a coordinated attack on the surveillance equipment. Early last month, hooded youths had destroyed seven cameras.
An estimated 293 CCTV cameras were installed before the Olympics as part of the one-billion-euro security campaign. We’re certain that the judicial authorities are complying with the Hellenic Data Protection authority, who have placed “severe restrictions” on their use to traffic monitoring.
July 12, Barcelona, Spain: Anarchists Blamed for Bombing
A pig sustained slight injuries when a bomb hidden in a metal thermos exploded at an Italian cultural institute in Barcelona, The bomb exploded when a police officer approached it, injuring him in the arm and side. The officer’s sniffer dog was killed. The police in Barcelona, along with some Italian officials, are putting anarchist and anti-authoritarian groups “of Italian nationality” as prime suspects. Also there has been allegations of “local supporters of the prisoners in Italy being behind the explosion”. These allegations are based on graffiti in front of the institute in solidarity with anarchist political prisoners in Italy facing police brutality and a biased judicial system. The graffiti also included “the letter A, the symbol for anarchism”.
Employees of the cultural center noticed wiring coming out of a thermos left at the door of the institute and notified authorities. Police cordoned off the zone. When a cop and bombsniffing dog approached the jug, it exploded!
Although no one claimed responsibility, police were examining recent explosions by anarchists using similar devices for clues, the top representative of the Madrid government in the Catalan region said. Italian anarchists claimed responsibility earlier this year for a wave of letter bombs that exploded outside police stations in northern Italy. Italian police carried out more than 100 raids in May and said they had uncovered a “vast and dangerous” anarchist network that had orchestrated the bombing campaign. Italian Interior Minister Giuseppe Pisanu has compared the anarchist movement to Italy’s Red Brigades, a 1970s Marxist guerrilla group that orchestrated bombings and kidnappings. The Catalan authorities had reportedly contacted the Italian consulate in Barcelona a few days prior after having detected “greater activity of anarchist groups” in the city. There had been a number of demonstrations in Barcelona over the past days calling for the liberation of prisoners in Italy belonging to the same group as the protesters. However, police in the northeastern Spanish port said they could not confirm anarchists were behind the bombing and were “keeping an open mind in their investigations.”
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 #901548, 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, OSP, 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
Agents of Chaos — A Communiqué into Militant Primitivist Tactics
Disclaimer: this is for entertainment purposes only.
For whatever scientific, spiritual, or political reasoning there might be for the world as we know it, there is a very clear problem. Civilization surrounds us. The wild world catering to life and only life, is being threatened. As this death-march runs onward, and as progress or the dominating techno-reign advances, the earth, those whom inhabit it, and essentially life itself is experiencing or will soon face devastation. Not only is life being attacked in the physical realm, but the fire which motivates any and all existence is being refined, conditioned, and in some cases permanently shattered.
With this realization, one must come to accept, and more importantly take responsibility for what must be done to stop it. Finding courage and will in post-modern civilization is a very challenging obstacle. Discovering efficient ways of resisting its anatomy is also a difficult task. This writing is not threatening. This article cannot blow up a substation or cut a fiber optic cable. But it is intended to encourage a revolutionary mentality which can survive the obstacles of this society. On both an emotional and physical level.
These are simply notes to provide direction. To encourage an approach seeking war with civilization. I am still growing and learning myself. But I hope that some of the following suggestions as to discovering, practicing, and safely preserving an insurgent relationship with techno-industrial civilization, will contribute to any truly anarchist struggle.
So with that said; Let’s get our shit together, and with the flames of nature burning in our heart, let’s roast this fucker to charred embers!
Struggle: A militant anarcho-primitivist approach
The modern order is vulnerable. It has weaknesses. And it is feasible for those who oppose it to claim a material and intellectual capability to destabilize it. But the strength of the modern order cannot be ignored. It coerces those it dominates into lacking the material resources required to resist it. Therefore preparation on a holistic level is essential for every successful insurgent. On a purely tactical or technological level it is necessary to understand the dynamics and degree to which this system can and will defend itself. This is to be a framework for one’s approach to resistance, crisis, warfare, etc.
In a situation of urban warfare, what type of weapons will the military, police, or other tools of the state be using?
And more importantly; what type of accessible weapons are needed to safely defend oneself from them?
A hypothetical situation which can encourage this type of research would be if an individual was physically or logistically (weapons, location) outnumbered and overwhelmed. Would it be more important (in a situation implying immediate escape) to have an assault rifle (ak-47, sks, ar-10, ar-15, etc.)? Which, though deadly, is known to be inaccurate (from a distance), loud, and easily located. Or would it have been more helpful and efficient to have a sniper rifle, (long rifle/ scope, common ammunition; .338 magnum) which allows long distance head shots, or a space between yourself and the enemy? Making the space and time to run and hide. Not only is this tactical preparation essential, but it lies at the foundation of one’s physical preparation. Being able to defend yourself in hand to hand combat, running in attack, retreat, or crisis, handling your rifle etc.; requires endurance and strength.
From experience and observation it seems that most anarcho-primitivists or anti-authoritarians have not taken this seriously (at least outside of a theoretical realm). And because of this, they continue to suffer the physical incompetence of a post-modern/ sedentary existence. Exercise is essential in this case. Manuals for police, the army, or navy are helpful sources for this type of training. Basically because it gives you an understanding of what the enemy is practicing, as well as where you have to be to destroy them.
Understanding your enemy on an emotional level is very important. Knowing what it is about the history of this death-machine that makes you ill inside is encouraging. Feeling the coldness of your enemy is very motivational. But if we are going to turn these feelings into action, we are going to have to put time and energy into acquiring the technical skills to resist. We are going to have to understand how the machines of this system work and how they can be destabilized.
The state has a spectacle of fear at its service. It encourages us to overestimate its stability. But with proper research and preparation, underestimation and overestimation are not consequences we will have to endure.
KNOW YOUR ENEMY!
Proceed with the understanding that under the banner of techno-industrial civilization, hypocrisy is inevitable. And with the knowledge that civilized culture forces us, or conditions us, into compromising our instincts.
For our health and the wild world we are fighting for, an insurgent must constantly be refusing or at least challenging the choices and compromises made, which are not necessary in surviving the civilized world.
Due to our conditioning as humyns rather then animals, many of the parodies fabricated to mimic the primitive or natural world we once participated in may become appealing. Nights of fucking, drinking, or other forms of escape are understandable, and sometimes needed. But if we are to kill this death-machine, we need to consider a focus which keeps that wild desperation burning in our hearts, and that crippling urge to kill and destroy that which wounds us, breathing in our lungs.
In the food we eat, and the nights we choose to have, we must re-appropriate our conditioning so that in our daily lives, struggle will always be on our minds. Preparation for war must be recognized as we struggle to live healthy lives under the circumstances of order.
The mentality of this strategic proposal was briefly discussed earlier in this writing. But I would like to refer to specific situations or logistics for further description.
As techno-industrial civilization topples the earth and progresses onward to full-spectrum domination, drastic measures are called for.
Revolution is not possible under the circumstances (nor desirable; insurrection on the other hand is). We can no longer wait patiently for the “people” (whoever they are) to rise up against tyranny. Nor would I want six or however many billion humans coming together at once and destroying industrial civilization. What is required is a strategy that aims not at petty symptoms, (scarcity, free trade, etc.) but the total sum.
What can create crisis? What will impede or stop people from contributing to this death-machine? What will arrest progress (the evolution or trajectory of techno-culture) dead in its tracks? Essentially, how can I bring down, cripple, or absolutely destroy my enemy?
How can I save the people? How can I intellectually force the dispossessed into accepting me as their vanguard? How can I be less alienating?
These are not insurgent questions. They are walls being built between one’s desire and one’s tactics. These are intellectual compromises of one’s struggle. Insurgent introspection is the immediate gateway to an insurrectionary framework.
Now again, in relation to strategy. We need to think about what the system is dependent upon. We need to look beyond the gruesome altars and spectacle, and uncover the roots or base of the catastrophe that surrounds us. A tactic one could propose is focusing one’s violent abilities into destroying Industrial plants, fiber-optic cables, substations, transformers, or dams which fuel electricity. A tactic like this would halt production and potentially cause favorable social mayhem. Because at least the western world (America, Canada etc.) is completely dependent on electricity. A similar tactic would be targeting cell phone towers or other aspects of the telecommunications system, making it difficult, or depending on the degree of destruction, nearly impossible for governing forces to efficiently coordinate with one another. These are only two examples. But I feel that they are important to look at for the sake of creating a revolutionary strategy fitting the capabilities of our physical struggle. Or these could be looked at as metaphors for hitting the system where it hurts.
Sometimes we need to use cell phones to take out cell phone towers
Since by now I hope the reader sees that I am clearly advocating insurrection against civilization, I would like to state some principles I feel an insurrectionary would benefit from. As an anarchist I am against the isolation and alienation we are subjected to, under the banner of utilitarian society. But just as we need to pick up the gun to get rid of it, it is very difficult to not utilize some of its principles or resources in our fight against it.
Utilitarianism is unavoidable. Not necessarily related to each other in resistance, but to the resources of this Order: Robbing, looting, taking what is needed to use this system against itself. It must be known that we will have to use some of the master’s tools to dismantle the master’s house (Because a slingshot will not always take out a tank. Not to discourage the literal attempt.).
Another inevitability would be sectarianism. What I mean by this is: the refusal to compromise one’s motivations, tactics, etc. to ideology, organization, political platform etc. For an individual or small group to be threatening it must be autonomous and operating through deep relationships of an affinity of desire. And always skeptical of those they choose to associate or work with. Not only regarding safety and security in surviving the obstacles of the state (visualize a fellow insurgent under interrogation), but also so one will not be forced into a subtle or drastic re-directing of the targets they choose to hit, or what goals they have established. If an individual feels as if s/he needs to work with anyone at all, it is stressed that before deciding to cause physical violence against the techno-state, there needs to be a deep understanding and trust with those you choose to fight with.
A firm grip on the sacred
As civilization spreads to make up our total surrounding, hyper-discouragement begins to take an effect on our hope of eradicating it.
Most historical left-wing oriented anarchist movements have had a very Christian mentality when it comes to what it is they are looking and fighting for. What I mean by this is the dream of a world where factories are owned by workers and social stratification becomes horizontal (all become constrained to the roles of the proletariat). A utopian or political promised land existing in some other world (not much different from now) will pop up as soon as some social program carries itself out or everyone gets organized, blah blah blah….
I feel that if an individual is going to be fighting, it is important to be looking to experience or somehow taste wild nature/freedom (that which motivates them). If what you are fighting for is an abstraction, or just simply unreasonable under one’s logic, then you are fighting a worthless struggle of self-deception or rebellious escapism.
I know what I fight for is here. I long to live a life where I am free from the conditioning and infrastructure that works against nature. I long for autonomy; so I look to be responsible now. I wish to be able to relate with the earth free from the technical banner of division of labor by toppling relations of specialization, so I look to acquire the earth-based skills needed to live such a way. I look to have a direct relationship with the land, so I strive to feel that. And I know that a force is trying to destroy this world for good, but it hasn’t. And I know that there is more than this empty existence that surrounds me.
It will take time to totally break away from the tragedy of civilization. But why not start now? And why not look to break free now?
This article is lacking in depth and technical information (additional information is presented in writings, contacts, or projects listed throughout the essay). It is intended mainly to expose essential principles of an insurgent mentality in the modern world.
As I walk in the woods I feel a sense of wholeness. I feel free because I feel one with the web of life. When I walk through a city, I feel alienated from myself. I feel constant animosity and instincts of rage. This contrast of self must be preserved on both levels. What I mean by this, is creating a life where the wild world we fight for, is never forgotten, or more importantly, never lost.
But as we enter the cities, and walk along the trails of a concrete labyrinth, we understand how it is that it can be dismantled.
We utilize its intelligence to take out its mentality. We utilize its resources to eradicate its producing capability. We, on a very shallow level, participate in its realm, only as a threat to its nature, which is emptiness.
Hit Where It Hurts, Theodore John Kaczynski Available in Green Anarchy #8 (from GA) or in pamphlet format from Alive and Awol Publications (Geocities.com/aliveandawol)
Guerrilla Warfare, Che Gueverra Available for free or purchase at any used or chain bookstore
Revolution and/or Insurrection, Kevin Tucker (GA Distro)
Electric Funeral, Havoc Mass (GA Distro)
Towards a Citizen’s Militia (Geocities.com/aliveandawol)
As Darkness Falls (Geocities.com/aliveandawol)
Total Resistance, Wimberly Scott Available online
Direct Action Underground (GA Distro)
Ten Blows Against Politics, by Il Pugnale
Politics is the art of separation.
Where life has lost its fullness, where the thoughts and actions of individuals have been dissected, catalogued and enclosed in detached spheres – there politics begins. Having distanced some of the activities of individuals (discussion, conflict, common decision, agreement) into a zone by itself that claims to govern everything else, sure of its independence, politics is at the same time a separation between the separations and the hierarchical management of separateness. Thus, it reveals itself as specialization, forced to transform the unresolved problem of its function into the necessary presupposition for resolving all problems. For this reason, the role of professionals in politics is indisputable – and all that can be done is to replace them from time to time. Every time subversives accept separating the various moments of life and changing specific conditions starting from that separation, they become the best allies of the world order. In fact, while it aspires to be a sort of precondition of life itself, politics blows its deadly breath everywhere.
Politics is the art of representation.
In order to govern the mutilations inflicted on life, it constrains individuals to passivity, to the contemplation of the spectacle prepared upon the impossibility of their acting, upon the irresponsible delegation of their decisions. Then, while the abdication of the will to determine oneself transforms individuals into appendages of the state machine, politics recomposes the totality of the fragments in a false unity. Power and ideology thus celebrate their deadly wedding. If representation is that which takes the capacity to act away from individuals, replacing it with the illusion of being participants rather than spectators, this dimension of the political always reappears wherever any organization supplants individuals and any program keeps them in passivity. It always reappears wherever an ideology unites what is separated in life.
Politics is the art of mediation.
Between the so-called totality and individuals and between individual and individual. Just as the divine will has need of its earthly interpreters, so the collectivity has need of its delegates. Just as in religion, there are no relationships between humans but only between believers, so in politics it is not individuals who come together, but citizens. The links of membership impede union because separation disappears only in union. Politics renders us all equal because there are no differences in slavery – equality before god, equality before the law. This is why politics replaces real dialogue, which refuses mediation, with its ideology. Racism is the sense of belonging that prevents direct relationships between individuals. All politics is participatory simulation. All politics is racist. Only by demolishing its barriers in revolt could everyone meet each other in their individuality. I revolt, therefore, we are. But if we are, farewell revolt.
Politics is the art of impersonality.
Every action is like the instant of a spark that escapes the order of generality. Politics is the administration of that order. “What sort of action do you want in the face of the complexity of the world?” This is what those who have been benumbed by the dual somnolence of a Yes that is no and a More later that is never. Bureaucracy, the faithful maidservant of politics, is the nothing administered so that no one can act, so that no one recognizes their responsibility in the generalized irresponsibility. Power no longer says that every thing is under control, it says the opposite: “If I don’t ever manage to find the remedies for it, let’s imagine it as something else.” Democratic politics is now based on the catastrophic ideology of the emergency (“either us or fascism, either us or terrorism, either us or the unknown”). Even when oppositional, generality is always an event that never happens and that cancels all those that happen. Politics invites everyone to participate in the spectacle of this motionless movement.
Politics is the art of deferment.
Its time is the future, which is why it imprisons everyone in a miserable present. All together, but tomorrow. Anyone who says “I and now” ruins the order of waiting with the impatience that is the exuberance of desire. Waiting for an objective that escapes from the curse of the particular. Waiting for an adequate quantitative growth. Waiting for measurable results. Waiting for death. Politics is the constant attempt to transform adventure into future. But only if I resolve “I and now” could there ever be an us that is not the space of a mutual renunciation, the lie that renders each of us the controller of the other. Anyone who wants to act immediately is always looked upon with suspicion. If she is not a provocateur, it is said, she can certainly be used as such. But it is the moment of an action and of a joy without tomorrows that carries us to the morning after. Without the eye fixed on the hand of the clock.
Politics is the art of accommodation.
Always waiting for conditions to ripen, one ends up sooner or later forming an alliance with the masters of waiting. At bottom, reason, which is the organ of deferment, always provides some good reason for coming to an agreement, for limiting damages, for salvaging some detail from a whole that one despises. Politics has sharp eyes for discovering alliances. It is not all the same, they tell us. The Reformed Communist party is certainly not like the rampant and dangerous right. (We don’t vote for it in elections – we are abstentionists, ourselves – but the citizens’ committees, the initiatives in the plazas are another thing). Public health is always better than private assistance. A guaranteed minimum wage is still always preferable to unemployment. Politics is the world of the lesser evil. And resigning oneself to the lesser evil, little by little one accepts the totality in which only partialities are granted. Anyone who contrarily wants to have nothing to do with this lesser evil is an adventurer. Or an aristocrat.
Politics is the art of calculation.
In order to make alliances profitable, it is necessary to learn the secrets of allies. Political calculation is the first secret. It is necessary to know where to put one’s feet. It is necessary to draw up detailed inventories of efforts and outcomes. And by dint of measuring what one has, one ends up gaining everything except the will to lay it on the line and lose it. So one is always taken up with oneself, attentive and quick to demand the count. With the eye fixed on that which surrounds one, one never forgets oneself. Vigilant as military police. When love of oneself becomes excessive it demands to give itself. And this overabundance of life makes us forget ourselves. In the tension of the rush, it makes us lose count. But the forgetfulness of ourselves is the desire for a world in which it is worth the effort of losing oneself, a world that merits our forgetfulness. And this is why the world as it is, administered by jailers and accountants, is destroyed – to make space for the spending of ourselves. Insurrection begins here. Overcoming calculation, but not through lack, as the humanitarianism that, perfectly still and silent, allies itself with the executioner, recommends, but rather through excess. Here politics ends.
Politics is the art of control.
So that human activity is not freed from the fetters of obligation and work revealing itself in all its potential. So that workers do not encounter each other as individuals and put an end to being exploited. So that students do not decide to destroy the schools in order to choose how, when and what to learn. So that intimate friends and relatives do not fall in love and leave off being little servants of a little state. So that children are nothing more than imperfect copies of adults. So that the distinction between good (anarchists) and bad (anarchists) is not gotten rid of. So that individuals are not the ones that have relationships, but commodities. So that no one disobeys authority. So that if anyone attacks the structures of exploitation of the state, someone hurries to say, “It was not the work of comrades.” So that banks, courts, barracks don’t blow up. In short, so that life does not manifest itself.
Politics is the art of recuperation.
The most effective way to discourage all rebellion, all desire for real change, is to present a man or woman of state as subversive, or – better yet – to transform a subversive into a man or woman of state. Not all people of state are paid by the government. There are functionaries who are not found in parliament or even in the neighboring rooms. Rather, they frequent the social centers and sufficiently know the principle revolutionary theories. They debate over the liberatory potential of technology; they theorize about non-state public spheres and the surpassing of the subject. Reality – they know it well – is always more complex than any action. So if they hope for a total theory, it is only in order to totally neglect it in daily life. Power needs them because – as they themselves explain to us – when no one criticizes it, power is criticized by itself.
Politics is the art of repression.
Of anyone who does not separate the moments of her/his life and who wants to change given conditions starting from the totality of their desires. Of anyone who wants to set fire to passivitiy, contemplation and delegation. Of anyone who does not want to let themselves be supplanted by any organization or immobilized by any program. Of anyone who wants to have direct relationships between individuals and make difference the very space of equality. Of anyone who does not have any we on which to swear. Of anyone who disturbs the order of waiting because s/he wants to rise up immediately, not tomorrow or the day after tomorrow. Of anyone who gives her/himself without compensation and forgets her/himself in excess. Of any one who defends her comrades with love and resoluteness. Of anyone who offers recuperators only one possibility: that of disappearing. Of anyone who refuses to take a place in the numerous groups of rogues and of the anaesthetized. Of anyone who neither wants to govern nor to control. Of anyone who wants to transform the future into a fascinating adventure.
Anti-Capitalist and Anti-Government Battles
“To monotonously live the mouldy hours of the ordinary people, the life of the submissive, the accomodated, a life of convenience, is not living, it is only vegetating and carrying around an amorphous mass of flesh and bones. To life one should give the exquisite elevation of the rebellion of the arms and mind.”
—Severino Di Giovanni
May 22, Venezuela: Gunmen Seize Government Helicopter
Armed gunmen stole a government-owned helicopter before dawn after taking three security guards hostage at an airport in eastern Venezuela. The Bell helicopter is the second to be stolen from the airport located in Ciudad Bolivar in less than a year.
May 27, Zimbabwe: Class War Ignites
Police torched dwellings in a poor squatter camp overnight and deployed more than 3,000 pigs to “monitor” the destruction of informal settlements around the capital of Zimbabwe. Residents rioted in at least one township on the southern edge of Harare as police arrested street vendors and burned their kiosks. While police used gasoline and torches to destroy shacks in one township, state radio said desperately poor residents in other areas hurriedly tore down their own shacks, taking away building materials they had bought with their life savings.
Police are under orders to destroy “illegal dwellings” and vendors’ shacks as part of a campaign to clean up the city. About half of the city’s urban poor live in the shacks. About 10,000 street vendors have been arrested since the crackdown began eight days prior. “Police went around beating up anyone they came across. They made sure there was no electricity in the area and under cover of darkness they were beating everyone up,” said a local resident, adding that the area had quieted by daybreak.
“Operation Muram-batsvina” – which is Shona for “get rid of trash” sparked riots in some Harare suburbs as police descended on some 9,000 shacks and houses at White Cliff farm, also known as Tongogara, 20km outside of the capital, where the land is being “re-pegged” and allocated to members of the army and police as part of President Mugabe’s strategy to strengthen the regime’s relationship with state forces. In other cases new black farmers have arrived saying they have government permission to take over the farms.
The unrest was just the latest sign of economic chaos in the southern African nation, once the regional breadbasket. The Zimbabwe Government dramatically boosted staple food prices, devalued its currency by 45per cent and warned that 4 million of its people could face famine. The United Nations estimates that “up to 360,000 people (more than 2 percent of Zimbabwe’s population) throughout the country have been evicted from their homes.” Thousands of people are living on the streets, with no shelter from the Zimbabwe winter temperatures, which at night can fall to 0 degrees C.
Thousands of destitute people, who have been forced into the countryside, will find themselves under the control of the local ZANU-PF tribal leaders who have total control of the meager food supplies.
June 1, Cape Town, South Africa: More Township Rioting
Police fired rubber bullets, tear gas and stun grenades to quell the latest township rioting in South Africa, as the country’s intelligence agency said it was investigating the surge of violence in shantytowns. President Thabo Mbeki said riots in three Cape Town townships and in shantytowns in at least three other provinces could pose a threat to ‘national stability”.
About 150 rioters in the Cape Town township of Kommetjie burned tires and threw stones at cars after a local official turned up to discuss their demands for better housing following riots the previous week. There were also riots in a shantytown in the Eastern Cape’s city of Port Elizabeth, where 28 people were arrested for public violence.
At the heart of the riots is growing frustration with the Government’s failure to provide better housing and other basic services that the apartheid regime had long denied poor blacks, who were herded into townships far removed from the white-inhabited cities. At least 7.35 million people – roughly one in 16 citizens – live in shacks with no amenities. Housing officials have said the unrest is also tied to upcoming municipal elections expected some time between December and March. But even the governing African National Congress acknowledged that the rioting was a cry from the poor, fed up with broken promises.
June 17, China: State Operatives Attack Farmers as Capital Takes Hold
Video footage of a deadly clash between farmers and gangs employed by a Chinese electricity company to turf them off their land has been released, providing startling evidence of local conflicts normally kept hidden or denied by the communist Chinese State. The video, acquired by international media from a local farmer, shows a gang armed with pipes and shovels as they charge a huddle of peasant protesters who have refused to abandon their land to developers. After a short one-sided battle, a single farmer was left on the ground and beaten by an assailant armed with a pole. Following an explosion, gunshots, and screams of “Run!” the images suddenly end.
According to Beijing News, six villagers and one attacker were killed in the incident and at least 48 people were injured, eight of them seriously. The fighting was reportedly the latest and most violent of several assaults by up to 300 thugs who were hired by a local utilities company to force the peasants off their land.
Tensions had been simmering since 2003, when the villagers refused to accept an offer from Hebei Guohua Power, a state-owned company which wanted to build a storage facility on their land, about 140 miles south-west of Beijing. Many have been living in tents on the land ever since, despite increasingly violent attempts to force them to move.
Late August, Tonga: Fiery Rebellion Spreads
Every night in a small Tongan park, graffiti scrawled on a concrete rotunda is whitewashed over, and every morning it is painted back. “Evil is governing those governing us” it reads. The shady reserve, Pangai Si’i, is where hundreds of striking civil servants and supporters meet each day in a show of solidarity for their cause. Speeches are made, food is eaten, kava is drunk and dances break out. Gossip is shared about the country’s royal family, and rumors circulate about what might happen next. The Weekend Herald hears stories of how vehicles will be driven on to the airport runway, significant buildings will be torched, and even that guns may be produced. It is those deported back to Tonga from countries such as the U.S. and New Zealand, to whom the rumors are attributed. One former convict animatedly told a newspaper photographer about the planned torching that night of the Prime Minister’s office.
There have been arsons – most spectacularly this week’s razing of the King’s beach house – and attempts to burn down a school in the outer island group of Vava’u. On Tongatapu Island the week before, four Government cars were torched. No one was caught. Vandals broke windows to get into the school, where they smashed 12 computers, causing up to $15,000 damage, and spilled petrol in two rooms.
Thousands have been on strike for five weeks seeking pay raises of between 60 and 80 per cent as response to ministry chief executives enjoying salary increases of close to 100 per cent. Most of the strikers are teachers and at Tonga’s largest school, of the 885 enrolled, less than 100 are turning up. A high-ranking member of the Tongan Government says the country will exercise its military muscle if anyone dies in arson attacks hitting the country.
Money has become important to Tongans in a way it wasn’t 20 years ago, a relatively late transition from a subsistence economy to a cash economy. Electricity was supplied to the whole of Tongatapu Island only in the mid-1990s and villagers then bought fridges, televisions, and washing machines. As a result, they then ended up with power bills. Many previously got by through living simply and growing their own food.
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.
G8 Direct Action Roundup
In early July (2-10), anarchists and anti-capitalists throughout the world moved to the streets, engaging in direct action against capitalism and for unrestrained liberation. The annual G8 summit at the Gleneagles golf resort – located near Glasgow and Edinburgh, the two largest cities in Scotland – inspired individuals and affinity groups to directly confront the Machine. Mainstream protesters organized spectacular events to point the “people’s” passive ire towards the current state/corporate regimes who continue the ceaseless, centuries-old annihilation of human and nonhuman animals, their air, water, soil, food, and medicine along with their symbiotic, experiential wholeness.
The largest spectacular event was the pathetic “Live 8 – Make Poverty History” music extravaganza led by the rich and wannabe-rich pop icons of the music and movie industry of the “Free World”. Thousands of young and aging ‘radicals’ gathered to “do their part for freedom”. This repetitive, yet still successful, strategy employed by the Machine locks down any who might be capable of connecting their own frustration and rage to the logic of state/capital, they were strategically caged. Even paying for the ‘privilege’. The tastes of authentic, unmediated, personal and collective liberation savored in those (still too brief) moments of joyful rebellion are powerful and could add to the growing rupture, but the Entertainment Industry plays its real role quite well. Particularly appropriate was the opening song, performed by British rockers, Kaiser Chiefs, whose “storming” rendition of Predict A Riot played to the crowds enclosed by official and unofficial police guards who made sure it didn’t happen there. Yet again, the pop-cultured prisoners were prevented from breaking out of their mass–‘ooh, I was there, dude, it was so cool!’ trance while their elite idols shored up their own fragile, capitalist fiefdoms.
Calls for direct action were issued well in advance. The People’s Global Action (PGA), the same loose network that had called for the day of action against the WTO 6 years prior, declared July 6 as the Day of the Blockades and thousands converged in Scotland to take concerted action to shut the G8 down. Even in Prison America autonomous actions of resistance, including the West Coast Anti-Capitalist Mobilization and March against the G8 inspired the imaginations of revolutionaries and insurrectionaries. We present the more interesting actions for your consideration.
A five-hundred person international assembly of anarchists converged at Edinburgh University on July 2 to ratify the PGA decision to blockade main highways connecting Glasgow and Edinburgh to Gleneagles on the 6th. Dissent!, an international antiauthoritarian network of resistance against the G8 organized a selfcontained camp for thousands in an ‘eco-village’ strategically located to Glasgow, Edinburgh and Gleneagles. This small town of Stirling has seen many battles throughout the history of anti-colonial resistance. However, it is surrounded by the Forth River and has only one road exit, making it vulnerable to police containment. A decision reached in the final hours before the action concluded it would be advantageous for autonomous groups to act according to their own design and many left the camp a half a day ahead of time to locate in forests and suburbs along the routes to Gleneagles. Two hundred of those remaining at the camp organized the Suicide March to block the strategic M9 highway. It was named such since a thousand rebels would face up to 10,000 cops along the way. “The group decided against all odds that the risk was worth it” since they would, at minimum, provide cover for the groups clandestinely mobilized elsewhere.
The march began by 3am on the morning of July 6, meeting the first of many police lines within 15 minutes. The pig lines were deep and impenetrable. Since no back up plan had been considered in advance, the marchers retreated to find other routes to the highway. A suburban mall nearby provided a convenient stopover to release pent-up rage as windows were smashed and walls spray-painted with graffiti including “10,000 Pharaohs Six Billion Slaves”. Confiscated shopping carts were filled with rocks as they headed towards another highway entrance. A scout on bicycle alerted the group to a police line forming ahead and a front line of stick-toting and rock-throwing anarchists began engaging with the poorly prepared pigs that retreated after only about thirty seconds. Stoked by this first success, the rebels continued along the now open roadway and were joined by others hidden in trash bags along the roadway. The group made it onto the entrance ramp of M9 but found themselves facing scores of vans filled with riot police and as they turned back to retreat again, a contingent of pigs had arrived to block their exit path. The 250 that remained – the rest having dispersed at various points along the route – escaped into the suburban neighborhood after a brief battle provided an opening. A neighborhood local provided alternate directions to the highway that took them across fields, a golf course, and through the trees. They made it to the highway unhindered and by 6am the highway was blocked in both directions using tree trunks, rocks, and branches. They returned to camp to prepare for further planning and action.
Other groups were having success blocking key roadways as well. By 8:20, fifty “eco-warriors” had the bridge leading to where some U.S. delegates were staying blocked. Another group, including the Kid Bloc, was reported as having a picnic on the motorway while riot cops looked on confused. When blockades were threatened, coordinators at the camp were notified and reinforcements transported to shore them up. Finally, the BBC reported all roads heading north to Gleneagles were shut down, though unsurprisingly they did not report the reason why.
The next plan was to break down the perimeter of Gleneagles. The legal march – the G8 Alternatives controlled by the Socialist Workers Party, canceled earlier by the police – was announced as a go and those remaining at the ecovillage joined up at the intended starting point, Auchterarder, the town nearest the summit. Within two hours, the perimeter of Gleneagles was breached at two points with over 500 anarchists and socialists attacking pigs with pieces of ripped-out fencing. Chinook helicopters filled with riot cops and dogs greeted rebels who breached the hallowed resort of the ruling class. A head-to-head battle ensued as heavily armed pigs used shields and batons to force back the embattled and significantly outnumbered rebels. As the attacks raged, Tony Blair landed by helicopter and Bush crashed into a security cop while riding his bike.
A legal march was canceled again by the pigs, but through a negotiation process with the vanguards, it was again permitted. The parade, resembling a carnival, drew locals who lined the streets watching the spectacle. When the marchers came to a barricade they stopped and chanted, calling for an end to the Iraqi occupation and to the debt of the “developing world”. Black-clad and masked individuals, located within the crowd, began to move forward to shake the barricade, eventually taking a piece of it down. This started an argument between anarchists and the leftists who insisted they not take their militant actions any further. As one protester started to walk towards the resort, pigs pushed back and a new battle began. The barricade itself became a weapon used against the police line. The confrontation raged for twenty minutes until police reinforcements attacked from the rear breaking up the crowd. But the fields located between the street and Gleneagles were unprotected by barricades and the 3ft barbed-wire fence was easily scaled. Protesters battled the pigs in the 500- meter area that separated them from their goal. Four hours later, 100 had been arrested and 29 pigs wounded.
On July 7, a security cordon had been enforced around the eco-camp where up to 5,000 dissidents had reconnoitered. Police in full body armor and carrying shields blocked the main entrance to the camp and closed the roads in the town.
A group took control of the luxury flats of Prime Minister Blair; ‘The Panoramic’ complex in the center of Bristol. The Avon & Somerset pigs were taken by surprise, having mobilized their forces to deal with “peaceful demonstrations” elsewhere in the city. The communiqué issued by the South Bristol Anarchists also challenged the Live-8 spectacle: “We have taken control of Blair’s million pound flats in an act of solidarity with militant black bloc comrades in Scotland. Blair is a hypocrite who claims he is “making poverty history” whilst sitting on personal investment property worth millions of pounds in our city. “MAKE POVERTY HISTORY - KILL THE RICH”
San Francisco, CA
The organizers of the July 8 San Francisco event billed it as the “West Coast Anti-Capitalist Mobilization and March against the G8'’. The Mission District was selected as the battleground. A march began with an estimated 200 people with black flags and banners such as “Anarchist Action”. The march was punctuated by flag burnings and attempts to stop traffic, but was countered by police attacks using tear gas and batons. Small riots followed some of the pig attacks. Groups began to split off, with police units following some of them. Splinter groups attacked Wells Fargo, Bank of America, Kentucky Fried Chicken, PG&E, smashing windows with hammers, sticks and poles. Making good use of what was close at hand, overturned news boxes blocked cops from entering several intersections.
At some point, Officer Peter Shields exited his patrol car after a foam mattress was reportedly thrown under it, with some attempting to light it afire. He was allegedly surrounded and beaten about the head causing sufficient damage to put him in the hospital in ‘serious condition’. Three comrades are facing multiple charges in the attack on Shields: Cody Tarlow, 21, of Felton (Santa Cruz County), Doritt Earnst, 31, of Berkeley and a third suspect who refused to identify himself. Charges include suspicion ofattempted lynching, malicious mischief, battery to a police officer, aggravated assault on a police officer with a deadly weapon and willful resistance to a police officer that results in serious bodily injury. In addition, Tarlow was held on suspicion of wearing a disguise for the purpose of escaping discovery or identification with a public offense. Earnst was also suspected of removing a weapon other than a firearm from a pig, and the unidentified man was suspected of inciting a riot.
There is a lot to discover, consider, and critique about the goals, strategy, and tactics used during anti-G8 actions. We hope this will be done amongst trusted members of affinity groups who might find creative ways to share useful but non-compromising information. For now, we’ll savor the raging joy that resonates deeply in all of us who experience every liberating moment of unrestrained insurrection.
Some Notes on the Social Construction of Reality, by Theresa Kintz
Religions, worldviews, ideologies…ahh, the dilemma of the social construction of reality! How does one transcend socialization, break free of ideological thinking, is it even possible? It presents a unique problem for us anti-civ types who are acutely aware that all that we know has been learned, conditioned by our race, class, gender, our temporal and geographic place, by civilization in general, i.e. our unique social location.
It is our awareness of this, I’d argue, that allows us to make the first step towards an authentic existence. The recognition of our own and of others inherent subjectivity is key.
I know that being born female into a white, downwardly mobile middle-class Catholic family in the US in the latter half of the 20th century shaped my worldview. Have I learned to stand back, examine my views, place them in a context and then go beyond ideology? How can I be sure I have succeeded? Are my anarcho-primitivist views simply a logical outcome of my traditional socialization plus a taste of the post-60’s culture of rebellion? I could only pick and choose from the ideas that I was introduced to; how did I come to the conclusion that Rousseau, Thoreau, and Zerzan were more interesting and insightful thinkers than Mills, Locke, or Bookchin? What impact did the Viet Nam war or the Black Panther movement have on the way that I came to see the world during my 70’s adolescence? How did the strong women family members that I’ve known all my life influence the woman I have become? And what about all these years I have spent as a student in universities listening to people (usually males) profess? How has watching television, or reading popular books and magazines affected my perspective on reality? Not to mention the interpersonal relationships, the significant others I have known and the way they have all shaped my ideas. And of course there is civilization, industrial society: that form of social organization that permeates every aspect of my daily existence.
When addressing the issue of how the anti-civilization movement should think of belief systems and the effects they have on our society, on us, it is important to remember the nature of culture. Culture is to humans as water is to fish. We are immersed in it always and forever as social beings. It is very difficult to step out of the cave, or the matrix, or whatever cultural reference you want to use to refer to what philosophers describe as the prism (or prison) of our own subjectivity. But freedom in a large sense stems first from freedom of thought, as Thoreau argued. Even when his freedom of action was taken away when he was imprisoned for his civil disobedience he proclaimed himself to be more free than the conformists of his society that accepted an unjust social order instead of resisting.
The first step toward transcending the traps of ideology is acknowledging the universal yet diverse nature of it. It is not the type of post-modernist recognition of subjectivity that leads to a nihilistic conclusion that all belief systems are equally valid. They are not; as all of us who strive to construct a critique of civilization know. It is more a matter of realizing that the way we look at the world, our attitudes, our values, our beliefs are always under the influence of the socialization we encounter in industrial society, and therefore our personal theory and practice should be a matter of reflection that is constantly under development.
I have no problem saying I believe in anarcho-primitivism. Is this ideological thinking? So what? I do not feel the need, as some anarchists do, to constantly assert that my belief system does not deserve the designation ‘ideology.’ To me, this is a semantic quibble.
What is a worldview, a belief system, an ideology if not just a way we human beings come to understand the world we live in and form the basis for acting in it? Is it possible to live your life without a worldview, without judgment or assigning value, isn’t that necessary for agency? Can we honestly say that we in the anti-civ movement are not interested in spreading our worldview, our ideology? Isn’t it just another way of saying we want others to seriously consider anti-civilization ideas? Perhaps to even act on them to stop the Leviathan from destroying nature and societies? Isn’t this why we write, gather, tour, talk, burn things down? It is more than just a purely oppositional stance; it is constructive as well as we posit the possible solution in a future primitive.
The anarchist, primitivist, anti-civilization perspective comes closer than any worldview to transcending the traps of ideology, but it is an ideology none-the-less. It is an exercise in critical thinking that strikes at the core of our social conditioning and calls into question the most fundamental beliefs about our relationships with each other and the natural world. But it also has the same form and substance that all social constructions of reality have. Our debates call attention to this as we argue with one another about best theory and practice.
Fredy Perlman, rejecting the ‘anarchist’ label, famously said that the only ‘ist’ he claimed to be was a cellist. I embrace my shorthand identities – I am an anarchist, a primitivist, an archaeologist, a feminist….but I know I am more than what these categories I place myself in may stereotype me as – it is linguistic shorthand designed to merely facilitate communication. I have an ideology because I have ideas about the world and I act on them…
Symptoms of the System’s Meltdown
“It is revolt itself, revolt alone, that is the creator of light.”
May 2, Michigan: Teens Face Charges for School Fire Bombing
19-year-old Katie Davidson turned herself into authorities for her role in the fire bombing of her old high school. This comes after the arrest of her alleged partner in crime, 19-yearold Nicholas Meyers. Davidson and Meyers allegedly threw Molotov cocktails into dumpsters and set fire to the school’s computer-aided design room, destroying computers and months of students’ work. Both face charges of arson, preparation to burn, breaking and entering, and using Molotov cocktails.
May 2-3, Slidell, LA: Students Arrested for Bomb Threats
Two students were arrested after two consecutive days of bomb threats at St. Tammany Jr. High School. Officials discovered writing in bathrooms and on a desk indicating someone planned to “blow up the school.” They think the threats are the work of students looking for an excuse to get out of class. After another student ratted her out, a 12-year-old admitted to writing a threat to blow up the school. She said she wanted to have some time off from school like when they evacuated the building after yesterday’s bomb threat. The school was evacuated for a second time Monday when someone activated the fire alarm. There have been at least five bomb threats at the school since March, according to one parent. Kids at this school love to get out of class!
May 4, Conway, South Carolina: Recess Can Be Anytime
Over the weekend, windows were broken out in 56 school buses parked in a bus lot near Conway High School. A driver’s education vehicle, three golf carts, and a storage shed also were damaged during the incidents. Students were able to arrive an hour late to school, thanks to the damage – estimated at $30,000. Previous incidents of vandalism in the area include a handful of bus tires being slashed last year at Conway and Socastee high schools and two cars in 2003 being rigged to ram into Socastee High School without a driver.
May 22, New Orleans, LA: Cop Murder Victim Remembered
Friends of police murder victim and trombone player “Shotgun” Joe Williams hurled objects at police and assaulted pigs during a party celebrating what would have been Joe’s 23rd birthday. 11 people were arrested at the 300-400 person party in the 9th Ward neighborhood. Joe was killed by police while unarmed in August of 2004.
May 29, Bridgeport, CT: Riot Follows Dirt Bike Rider’s Death
Four cops were injured and people threatened to “kill the pigs” as tensions surrounding a fatal dirt bike accident boiled over into a riot. It began when police received repeated calls of shots being fired, not far from the Greene Homes housing project, where Ahkeem “Robby” Cohen, 21, who died in the May 27 accident, once lived. A crowd of about 30 people, holding a vigil for Cohen, surrounded an unmarked police car yelling obscenities. Manuel Turado, 16, allegedly pushed one of the pigs. As the cop attempted to grab hold of Turado, an unidentified member of the crowd shoved the pig from behind, causing him to fall. Police said Turado began pounding the cop in the back of the head with his fists. Additional police arrived and the crowd pelted them with glass candles and bottles of alcoholic beverages. Someone hurled an object shattering a window at the General Electric Credit Union offices across the street. Police countered with pepper spray and arrests. Three people, including two relatives of Cohen, were arrested in the confrontation and four pigs suffered injuries.
Meanwhile, Mayor John M. Fabrizi urged the community to stay calm, even as he raised questions about whether the dirt bike had collided with a city-owned SUV driven by his aide, Michael E. Feeney, as a witness previously reported.
Memorial Day Korea: MSN Hack Worth Remembering
It looks like hackers have some unfinished business with software giant Microsoft. Once again, they have targeted the popular MSN Web site in Korea and activated password-stealing software which gave them access to passwords of the users on the site. It’s unclear how many users had been affected in activity that continued for up to three days before protective measures were under taken. This attack is the latest in a series of penetrations into Microsoft’s products that continue to plague the company even though it has invested millions of dollars to make its products more impervious to computer hacking.
This latest break-in went undetected for days when researchers at San Diego-based Websense Inc. discovered the intrusion during routine scans. Websense scans more than 250 million Web sites every week looking for sources of viruses and related problems that affect web sites. Consequent to this news, Microsoft stock shares fell 36 cents to $25.43 on Nasdaq.
June 2: Holargos, Greece: Government Documents Burnt
A fire broke out in a building where the Athens Prefecture’s Transport Department archives are stored. This arson is thought to be the work of a group that produces forged drivers’ licenses and customs documents, Athens Prefect Yiannis Sgouros said. A closed circuit television tape shows two individuals setting fire to the storeroom. “It is clear that organized rings... are trying to cover their tracks,” Sgouros said.
June 15, China: Electrical Pylons Taken Down by Thieves
A high-wire theft of a power line in north China went spectacularly awry when a loose cable got tangled up with a passing truck and pulled down seven pylons. The accident brought traffic to a halt for nine hours and caused some 1.3 million yuan in direct economic losses and 80,000 people were left in the dark.
Theft of power lines has become rampant as high-tension cables are cut for its scrap value. Power supplies have been running short across China as strong economic expansion has fuelled the fastest power demand growth in the world.
“The power cut has renewed the focus on China’s strained electricity network, with officials working to prevent blackouts, whether brought about by sabotage or natural causes such as storms and earthquakes,” the China Daily said.
June 17, Eugene, OR: Teens in Custody for School Fire
Eugene pigs have arrested two teenagers in connection with a fire that destroyed the gymnasium at Santa Clara Elementary School. Evidence left at the scene and tips from anonymous snitches led arson detectives to arrest 15-year-old Danny Hale and 17-year-old Nicholas Ingram.
Firefighters responding to the blaze called for additional crews after they forced open the gymnasium doors and found the main floor fully engulfed in flames. The fire then spread to the second floor and attic; the ferocity of the blaze forced firefighters to retreat, as the gym roof finally collapsed.
June 26, China: Riots Continue!
Thousands of Chinese rioted in Chizhou, in the poor eastern Anhui province. This latest revolt started when a sedan and a bicycle – ridden by a middle school student – collided. When the men emerged from the car they assaulted the student. The attackers were taken to a police station but the growing crowd swarmed around the station demanding the men be handed over to them. Some focused their anger on the men’s Toyota, smashing it, flipping it over, and torching it. Fire fighters fled the scene as soon as they arrived. Armed police were driven back by a hail of rocks and lit firecrackers. The crowd also attacked reporters, one of whom was burned by a firecracker, and confiscated cameras from anyone taking pictures.
Power to the police station was cut and the mob started throwing fireworks inside, according to the Chizhou Daily. The crowd, now numbering around 10,000 flipped at least three police cars and set them on fire. A nearby supermarket was also looted during the chaos. Hundreds of armed police in full riot gear managed to restore order around midnight. The official Xinhua news agency, in a rare report on a local disturbance, blamed the riot on a few criminals who led the “unwitting masses” astray, in which six pigs were wounded and thousands of dollars in damage occurred.
Protests have become increasingly common in China, largely fueled by “corruption” and the widening wealth gap. Earlier this month, villagers in the northern Hebei province, protesting to keep their land, were attacked by a group of armed hired toughs. Six farmers were killed and 48 injured in the ensuing battle.
July 4: “United” States: Independence Day Explodes!
Here’s a brief wrap-up of just a few of the chaotic events that occurred on the birthday of the U.S. Empire:
Johnson City, TN: A crowd of 100 people turned on cops, some shooting fireworks at pigs, and some avoiding that mediation, and punching them in the face.
Provincetown, MA: “You had the punk factor out there,’’ Provincetown Police Chief Ted Meyer said. ‘’Contentious is the best word I can think of.’’ A crowd of two thousand or so remained in the streets after the fireworks show that drew 60,000 throughout the day. Police insist they were there breaking up fights when things got out of control. Some participants had other versions. One man stated the police jumped his friend from behind because he had an open beer bottle in his pocket. Twenty-four were arrested.
Michele Couture watched the fracas from a second floor of a building across the street. She stated that she was horrified by dozens of instances of public urination in the alley below her. ‘’It was totally unbelievable and really appalling,’’ she said. ‘’These people contributed nothing to Provincetown except urine, vomit and violence.’’ That’s punk as fuck!
McKinney, TX: Police responded to “dozens of calls” in one neighborhood for gunshots and fireworks. Whenthey arrived at the scene, squad cars were hit with bottle rockets and beer bottles. Cops chased several people into their apartments and ordered non-residents to return to their homes. A short time later, another wave of disturbance calls involving fireworks and gun shots brought them back with a repeat performance of bottle rocket and beer bottles attacks. This time a crowd began gathering in the streets. A SWAT team was called in to assist. The crowd was restless and people were fighting or shooting fireworks; fires blazed in a tree and in the bed of a pickup. The SWAT team used tear gas to break up the crowd who continued to throw fireworks at the paramilitary force. Some arrests were made.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg, NC: Dozens of cops were called to the transit center in uptown Charlotte when hundreds of teenagers began fighting, blocking traffic, pushing dumpsters into the street, and firing guns into the air. Police estimate the crowd to be about 2,000 at its height. The ruckus continued until around 3am. Twenty people were arrested on charges of fighting, disorderly conduct, and resisting arrest. One person faces felony charges of inciting a riot. Police said the incident might prompt some changes in the planning of next year’s event.
Santa Cruz, CA: An 18-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of arson after a fireworks-related fire was discovered in a trashcan at Pacific Collegiate School. He was one of three men seen running from the school about 11:30pm. Investigators are probing its possible relation to fires set in two larger trash containers adjacent to the Santa Cruz High School library just after midnight. This second fire caused an estimated $50,000 damage and police say it may be related to a series of arsons in the city last year.
July 7, Waco, Texas: Escalating Arson Attacks in Downtown In less than 2 weeks at least a dozen blazes were set in a 10 block radius downtown. Waco Fire Marshall Jerry Hawk thinks one person is to blame. Most fires have been in dumpsters or small grassy areas. However a recent fire at a strip mall damaged or destroyed most of the businesses. Two fires were set at the historic Waco High School and a church was also ruined.
July, Beirut, Lebanon: Bomb Injures Lebanese Minister
A powerful bomb targeted the motorcade of the outgoing ProSyrian Lebanese defense minister in a wealthy Christian suburb this morning, wounding him and killing two bystanders. The Red Cross and the Mexican Embassy are near the location where the bomb, believed to have been planted in a parked car and denoted remotely, hit the minister’s Porsche and left a crater in the road.
This was the first assassination attempt against a top Lebanese official since former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri was killed by a car bomb in February. “There is a plan to eliminate every witness with information about the assassination of Rafik Hariri,” Druze leader and Syria critic Walid Jumblatt told Future TV. “I expect these killings to continue until the security services are purged” of allies to Syria.
July, Congo: Riot Police Enforce Democracy
Black-clad riot police fired tear gas to disperse a crowd of up to ten thousand demonstrators protesting delays in Congo’s first postwar presidential elections. Occasional gunfire could be heard, but it was not immediately clear who was firing or on whom or whether there were casualties. ...even more Symptoms of the System’s Meltdown Police, some wearing black masks, could be seen arresting protesters.
July, Sparta, TN: Man Held in Church Fires
One church was destroyed while another church on the same street was heavily damaged. Five vacant houses were also set ablaze in what police have said was a string of arsons. James Henry Dibrell, 47, was in custody in connection with the fires that stunned the predominantly AfricanAmerican neighborhood in the heart of Sparta. The acts are not considered Hate Crimes since Dibrell himself, according to state prison records, is black. “What is there to hate – a church, an empty building? We will rebuild”, said Ben Gardenhire.
July 22, Berlin, Germany: Plane Just Misses Schroeder’s Office
A small aircraft crashed onto a lawn between Germany’s parliament and Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder’s office in central Berlin on Friday, killing the pilot as it burst into flames, police and witnesses said. The singleengined, ultra-light aircraft crashed a couple of hundred metres from the Reichstag building that houses the lower house of parliament and about the same distance from the chancellery, witnesses said.
July 22, Yemen:
At least 50 people have been killed in Yemen in two days of riots ostensibly over rising oil prices. 375 people were injured in the riots, including 255 policemen.
July 22, Tblisi:
Vladimir Arutyunian, a 27-year-old ethnic Armenian, was arrested yesterday following a shoot-out in which he killed the head of the Interior Ministry’s counter-intelligence department. He is also suspected of throwing a faulty hand grenade toward President Mikheil Saakashvili and visiting U.S. President George W. Bush last May. Photos posted on the Interior Ministry’s website show Arutyunian allegedly holding a grenade wrapped in a red handkerchief, minutes before throwing it at Bush and Saakashvili. But Tbilisi Prosecutor Giorgi Ghviniashvili today said Arutyunian had not confessed to investigators, making it difficult to charge him over the grenade incident.
July 23, Beirut, Lebanon: Bomb Welcomes Rice’s Visit to “New Lebanon”
A bomb blast rocked central Beirut just hours after US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice made a surprise visit to pledge her support for the “new Lebanon” ushered in by Syria’s April troop pullout. Two vehicles were torched in the blast caused by a bomb placed under a car parked close to the privately run Saint Joseph University on the edge of Christian east Beirut. Lebanon has been rocked by no fewer than eight previous bombings already this year, most notoriously a February blast that killed billionaire five-time premier Rafiq Hariri and is currently being investigated by a UN team.
July 23, Santiago de Compostela, Spain: Bomb Explodes at Bank
An ATM at local savings and loan bank Caixa Galicia exploded at a popular tourist destination. It is also the third most important city in the Roman Catholic religion behind Rome and Jerusalem.
August 19, Aurora, IL: Teens Arrested in Arsons
Two Aurora teens were charged with arson, accused of setting six fires. No injuries were reported in any of the incidents. Teens are also suspected of vandalizing a number of vehicles in recent weeks. The teens were arrested after Aurora police staged an undercover operation. The arson charges stem from a midnight fire in a shed at Rollins Elementary School
August 31, Orofino, ID: Bugged Coffee Can Leads to Arrest
Two dog teams and 17 law enforcement officers staged a pre-dawn raid on a wood-pole hut in the forest northwest of Weippe. They arrested David Pruss, 34, on a warrant for alleged malicious destruction of property and burglary. Police believe Pruss may be responsible for more than $100,000 damage to power transformers, telephone switches, a small hydroelectric plant and logging equipment including bulldozers, tractors, and skidders. He was also sought in a series of break-ins at area cabins and businesses, where various items were stolen.
According to the Clearwater County Sheriff’s Office, Pruss “is believed to have told others his intent was to damage public infrastructure in order to lure Clearwater County Sheriff’s Deputies into the woods for the purpose of picking them off.” Sheriff Alan Hengen said authorities discovered Pruss’ location after they placed an electronic signaling device in the bottom of a plastic can of coffee, and put the can in a building that had been burglarized several times. “We knew he liked coffee,” Hengen said. “He took the bait.”
The can was removed from the building a week after it was planted and deputies homed in on the transmitter signal to triangulate its approximate position: a 6-foot-square hut made of poles tied together and covered with pine boughs, concealing a tent underneath. According to the news release, Pruss was “believed to have been reaching” for a Mac-90 assault rifle that was found underneath him.
Sacramento, CA: Arsonists in Custody
Three juveniles are in custody for allegedly setting more than 30 fires in the Carmichael area in the past two weeks. Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department arrested the 15-year-old boys, accused of a series of fires started in trash cans, dumpsters and bushes that damaged Barrett Middle School, Del Campo High School, two businesses, several community parks, and 22 residences. “What makes this one unique are these three kids worked in concert, not by themselves, and they increased from small fires to large fires,” said Sacramento Metro Fire District spokesman Capt. Steve Turner.
Brimstone, Gall and Fire
—Look, there is someone standing in the middle of the street and he has a smoking weapon in his hand. Whoever could it be? —A dreadful terrorist, there is no doubt. —No, wait, he is wearing a uniform; he is a brave guardian of order…
There are truly few words capable of provoking an almost unanimous indignation. Violence is one of these since it brings back blood, sorrow and death: our stomach protests, overwhelmed by a feeling of nausea. This doesn’t prevent any of us from living in the midst of violence, justifying it, applauding it, employing it. Let it be said once and for all, every absolute condemnation of violence is hypocrisy. The world will never be a convent where peace of the senses and stomachs rules.
Thus, it is interesting to note how those who verbally rail the most against violence are the same ones who make extensive use of it, after having institutionally taken it away from the individual. Being the one who holds the monopoly on violence, drawing enormous benefits from it, the State does not love competitors and defends itself against them. On the one hand, it sprinkles violence with brimstone, in a way that makes it feel untouchable to anyone who has the boldness to approach it. On the other hand, when the subterfuge fails, it has recourse to slander against anyone who refuses to deprive themselves of such a possibility.
So let’s imagine when the weapon is pointed against the state itself! Yesterday the nazis called the population to beware of the partisans because they were all “bandits”, today democrats do the same thing with all rebels, thought of as “terrorists”. In every era and latitude, power needs to demonize its enemies. Thus, after the confiscation of violence, there is the confiscation of the words that signify it. After the hypocritical condemnation of violence, there is the hypocritical condemnation of terrorism. A State, the enemy of terrorism? Impossible, it is a contradiction in terms. At minimum, such a State would have to disband the army and the police, a prelude to its own disappearance. In fact, terrorism is characterized by being indiscriminate violence in the service of power. Soldiers who bomb entire territories, making thousands of victims among civilians, are terrorists. The men in uniform who charge demonstrations, smashing the heads and breaking the bones of anyone who appears before them, are terrorists. The judges who support them with laws, the politicians who give them orders, the industrialists who furnish them with weapons are terrorists. The State, any State, that imposes its will with the threat of prison or poverty, is terrorist.
It is true, there is also another form of terrorism. When minds in pain, that wander through the infernal terrain of the commodity, renounce all hope, all vital tension, any joy of living, here and now, this is where their violence tends to empty itself of any consciousness and becomes gloomy. One who believes in God can abandon this unbearable human condition in order to reach the divine, setting off on the path of martyrdom. One who is lacking any faith can only vent their gall for this eternal desolate present. Religious or secular as they may be, it is no longer hatred for those who impose the daily sadness that guides their actions, but merely resentment toward anyone who accepts it.
However, this end of the world can be seen not just as a dusk, but also as a dawn, the light of which enflames the heart and sharpens the vision of individuals who are inclined to strike their enemies. Their violence is never blind because they know how to distinguish between those who exercise authority (or strive for it) and those who suffer it, those who laugh at them from the height of their official chair and those who lament from the depths of their desperation. A violence, this one, that does not want to conserve any ancient privilege or demand any new right, but rather to reject them all, and that is born of the awareness that the gates of the prison society in which we are all locked up have no keys and thus will be broken open.
“The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.”
“The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master— that’s all.”
To those who feel completely uprooted, to the millions who are the damned of the Earth, reformism has nothing to offer. The promise of happiness must be at the height of what is missing. And what is missing are human relationships, the meaning and pride of one’s activity, the passions, the force of ideas, mutual recognition, the pleasure of adventure and effort. Only two prospects now correspond to the desert of hearts in these times of war: the Apocalypse and social revolution. Contrary to secular and rationalist illusions, the various forms of fundamentalism are not, in fact, a regurgitation of the past, but rather a civilized response to the breakdown of industrial society. The need for sacrifice is the reverse side of a world based entirely on utility and the commodity. Power has always drunk at both fountains.
—some internal enemies
State Repression News
The years have all passed, we’ve reached modern times, The nazis have come with their nazi war crimes. Yes the power was there, the power was found, Six million people have heard that same sound That old knock on the door, knock on the door. Here they come to take one more, One more…
—Phil Ochs, Knock On The Door
Italian Anarchists Arrested in Massive Raids
In May, five anarchists were arrested by the Digos (political police) as part of an ongoing investigation of “subversive association with the intention of terrorism”. Using 150 pigs, helicopters, and bomb-disposal experts, 16 homes and spaces were searched. The occupied space Capolinea in Lecce was closed and subjected to judiciary seizure. Eight others are under investigation while at large for the same charge and two more for unauthorized demonstrations. Telephone and environmental wire-tapping was used as well as a GPS detector installed in a car.
The investigators claiming that they are responsible for attacks against the ATMs of Banca Intesa, pumps of an Esso distributor, a cathedral in Lecce, and the house of Father Cesare Lodeserto’s sister. There has been constant and uncompromising opposition to the immigration detention camps or “Centers of Temporary Residence” (CPTs) whose director, Father Cesare Lodeserto, was arrested with charges of private violence and kidnapping. (See: “State Repression” in GA #20)
On May 19, seven people were put under house arrest in Cagliari and charged with attacks against cops and members of far right youth movements. Some of them were also charged with planning attacks against institutions, businesses, and religious targets and with the possession of gunpowder and other material used to develop explosive devices. Over 50 house were searched in the Cagliari raids.
On May 25, another five people were arrested, three in Viterbo and two in Pescara. Among the charges: planning the January 19, 2004 attack against Viterbo’s law court and the foiled attack against the headquarters of Viterbo’s Justice Minister on October 23, 2003. Twenty-five houses were searched, two Internet sites were terminated, and two e-mail addresses shut down.
The next day, 80 houses were searched by police forces and seven more anarchists associated with FAI, the Informal Anarchic Federation, were arrested. Three were charged with the July 2001 attacks, on the eve of Genoa’s G8 meeting, when parcel bombs were delivered to representatives of Italian institutions, corporate businesses, and the mass media.
“We don’t know if they are innocent or guilty, and we don’t care. We don’t look for the things that we consider justified in the lines of the state’s legal codes. If they are innocent they have our solidarity. If they are guilty, they have it even more.” We couldn’t have said it better than this anonymous comrade!
This is an ongoing situation, so information is changing daily (see: www.spiritoffreedom.org.uk for updates).
Long-standing Squat Evicted in Berlin
On June 6, the squatting project Yorckstrasse 59 in Berlin was forcefully evicted, the culmination of an 18-month stand-off between supporters of this counter-culture project and city officials. The dispute finally came to an end after police evicted the residents in Berlin’s Kreuzberg district, dismantling one of the last alternative living projects that sprung up in postWorld War West Berlin. 60 people, among them 11 children, lived in this former factory building and the Anti-racist Initiative (ARI), the pirate radio Onda, the Latin American information service Poonal, and other groups had their offices there. It was also a free space for many more emancipatory activities. The people from Yorckstrasse and many others in Berlin and elsewhere fought hard for the survival of the project that was founded 17 years ago. Many groups and individuals carried out solidarity events before and protests after the eviction, for instance in Uruguay, Poland and Austria.
Hundreds of people watched as police cleared out the “Yorck 59” building. The name is taken after the address, Yorckstrasse 59, which is in a district that has become known for its student, autonomist, and ultra-left subculture in the decades following WWII. A number of alternative groups sprung up here as environmentalism, militant feminism, and anarchism became reactions to post-war prosperity and conservatism. Truly a phenomenon of the times, these groups represented many different political perspectives, styles and attitudes, but they had one thing in common: the urge to break out of the political and social molds of the late 1970s. These new rebels also wanted to oppose the sentimental images of hippies bent on improving the world.
Many such alternative living arrangements died in the years following the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, as the city and private entrepreneurs bought up property and began gentrifying neighborhoods. And now, former residents and their supporters face legal consequences. The owner of the building is suing those who barricaded themselves in the building for damages and rent totaling 90,000 euros ($110,000). Similar alternative communities have been dismantled around Germany and most famously, in neighboring Denmark. Last year, Denmark’s conservative government voted to dismantle the counterculture neighborhood of Christiana, where hundreds of people have lived for free for decades. Now, the government wants to tear down existing buildings and use the property for luxury apartments.
UN Occupation Force Carries out Massacre of Poor In Haiti
On July 6, UN occupation forces carried out a major military operation in the working-class neighborhood of Cite Soleil, one of the poorest in Port-au-Prince. According to accounts from members of the community, many of those who chose to remain anonymous, as well as from journalists who were on the scene during the operation, UN forces surrounded two neighborhoods sealing off the alleys with tanks and troops. As helicopters flew overhead, UN forces launched the offensive, shooting into houses, shacks, a church, and a school with machine guns, tank fire, and tear gas. Eyewitnesses reported that when people fled to escape the tear gas, UN troops gunned them down from the back. Forces shot out electric transformers in the neighborhood. People were killed in their homes and on the way to work. The operation was primarily conducted by UN forces, with the Haitian National Police this time taking a back seat.
The evidence of the massacre? Homes riddled by bullets, tank fire and helicopter ammunition, and corpses. Multiple community people indicated that they had counted at least 23 bodies of people killed. Community members claimed that UN forces had taken away some of the bodies. Published estimates indicate that upwards of 50 may have been killed and an indeterminate number wounded, and that more than 300 heavily armed UN troops took part in the assault on this densely populated residential neighborhood.
Support Amanda Cerezo Garcia!
Green Anarchy has only just recently learned about the case of Spanish eco-anarchist Amanda Cerezo Garcia who has been imprisoned since the summer of 2003! Amanda is held on remand accused, along with Eduardo Alonso Sanchez, of setting fire to a vehicle which was being used to destroy the environment in Valencia (it is not clear what type of vehicle was burnt – What we’ve been told is there was a lawful campaign against this unspecified environmental destruction. Despite the “lawful” campaign the eco-destruction continued so someone decided to resort to direct action to stop the destruction). Amanda has also been accused of attempting to murder a neo-nazi politician with a letter bomb. The bomb exploded before it reached the politician, injuring a postman. Amanda has confessed to both the arson and the letter bomb action but has stated she acted alone in both actions. Amanda is well known in Spain as an anarchist and whilst in prison Amanda has been translating animal liberation literature into Spanish and then getting her supporters to publish these translations.
The UK’s Earth Liberation Prisoners has heard unconfirmed rumours that Garcia may have been released from prison.
Grand Jury Seated in Arson Case
Nine activists were subpoenaed from San Diego and the surrounding region to appear before a federal grand jury to extract information about the 2003 burning of a La Jolla apartment complex, which caused $50,000,000 damage. Three people, Danae Kelley, David Agranoff, and Michael Cardenas have refused to cooperate, and have since all been in and out of jail.
The Grand Jury is also investigating allegations that former ALF prisoner, Rod Coronado, distributed inciting material showing people how to make ELF incendiary devices.
This is just the latest addition to a strategy being used in Seattle, Eugene, San Francisco, Los Angeles, New Jersey and other cities targeting public activists and political groups.
Grand Jury on “Revolutionary Cells”
Animal rights activists have lost a legal battle in which they challenged subpoenas ordering them to testify before a Grand Jury investigating the whereabouts of animal rights activist Daniel Andreas who is accused of exploding two bombs in 2003. One of the devices exploded in a building owned by biotechnology firm Chiron Corp. The second device targeted Shaklee, a company that sells health, beauty and household products. Both explosions were claimed by the “Revolutionary Cells”. Both companies have links to the British company Huntingdon Life Sciences. The activists had tried to have the subpoenas quashed by the courts. However on August 26, U.S. District Judge Susan Illston denied the motion and all eight will now have to appear before the Grand Jury. At least one of the eight activists, David Hayden, has stated to the media he will not testify before the Grand Jury even if it means going to prison.
Chris McIntosh On Hunger Strike
Animal/Earth Liberation remand prisoner, Chris McIntosh started his hunger strike on the 2nd of September. Chris is demanding vegan meals. Send urgent letters of support to: Christopher McIntosh 30512-013, FDC Seatac, Federal Detention Center, P.O. BOX 13900, Seattle, WA 98198.
Plea Agreement for Peter Young
In late August, Animal liberationist Peter Young made a plea agreement in connection with 1997 raids on mink fur farms. Young could have been sentenced to 82 years in prison for the animal liberation charges and another 15 years for using a forged Virginia ID if found guilty. In accordance with the plea, Young may be sentenced to no more than two years behind bars, after which he will be subject to ten years probation. He must first plead guilty to two misdemeanor “animal enterprise terrorism” charges before a judge. His co-defendant Justin Samuel, who also evaded law enforcement for a number of years, took a deal in which he snitched on Peter and received the same jail sentence. According to Peter’s supporters this proves that snitches who are “reviled by activists” are not even respected by the FBI.
Sentencing has now been moved to November 8. Please send letters of support to: Peter Young #223341, Dane County Jail, 115 West Doty St, Madison, WI 53703. For more information about Pete, e-mail email@example.com or check out the website: www.supportpeter.com
Update on Tre Arrow’s Battle
A Vancouver, B.C., judge ruled that enough evidence was presented against Arrow to extradite him to the United States to face charges. Trey is appealing. The Canadian minister of justice has final authority over whether Arrow will be extradited and is expected to make a decision soon.
Tre Arrow faces accusations that he masterminded two firebombings in spring 2001. Born Michael J. Scarpitti, Tre was arrested on March 13, 2004, when he was spotted by a security guard at a home improvement store. Arrow is charged with 14 counts, including conspiracy to interfere with interstate commerce by means of arson, as well as using destructive devices, namely the fuse-equipped plastic gasoline jugs used in the Ross Island truck bombing. While authorities were hunting him in the U.S., Arrow traveled from Ontario to British Columbia, continuing an activist lifestyle and volunteering for a non-profit that collected discarded food for the needy. He was arrested, he said, for using bolt cutters to unlock dumpsters that contained reusable resources. Though he won’t mention names, he says a movie project about his life is in the works.
At the time of print, he could be written at the following address, although his situation is uncertain: Tre Arrow, CS #05850722, Vancouver Island Regional Correction Center, 4216 Wilkinson Rd., Victoria, BC V8Z 5B2, CANADA
Pigs Continue to Hassle Sherman Austin
When Austin was scheduled to speak at a Food Not Bombs benefit organizers were questioned as to his whereabouts and expected time of arrival. Security at the school was increased with several squad cars, and one unmarked car circled the premises the entire night. Previously, he was detained for “terrorist ties” in Burbank after he was pulled over and the pig discovered he was on probation for distribution of information related to explosives or weapons of mass destruction. Two more units showed up and Austin and his car were searched and he was asked if he had explosives on him.
UK and US Legalize On-going Repression
In a move that mimics the US response to the 9/11 attacks nearly four years ago, the UK is proposing laws to access personal information of all its slaves. The National Crime Squad has contacted Internet service providers in the UK, appealing for them to preserve email messages in case they prove useful to tracking down “terrorists” and the emerging networks of sympathizers. The proposed legislation would require providers to . . . more State Repression News store details of email exchanges including who has called or messaged whom, the times, and their locations. Data would be held for up to 5 years depending on EU decision.
The Home Office is also pushing for ways to track lost or stolen explosives across the EU, and access to EU databases by law enforcement agencies across the EU; and greater co-operation on tracking stolen passports. A national ID card is also in consideration. Officials claim the ID cards used in Spain helped find the alleged perpetrators of the Spanish train bombing via their mobile phones which require an ID card to purchase.
This, of course, comes on the heals of the July 7 blasts that tore through packed underground trains and a bus during London’s rush hour, killing at least 50 people and injuring over 700 more. Said to be the deadliest “peacetime” attack in London since WWII, the blast also disrupted the G8 summit as Tony Blair left the meeting to return to the beleaguered capital. Responsibility was claimed by the “Secret Group of al Qaeda’s Jihad in Europe”. Oil prices fell over five percent before recovering and London stocks closed around two percent lower. The British pound sank to a 19-month low against the dollar and stayed there. The bombings came a day after London was awarded the 2012 Olympic Games.
This latest attack caught the Intelligence and Security systems of the West by surprise again. In the US fear-mongerers upped the surveillance ante in response. Bomb-sniffing dogs searched rush hour trains in Atlanta. Heavily armed SWAT teams put on a show of force in New York’s subway and Coast Guard boats escorted the Staten Island Ferry across the harbor. Surveillance cameras watched the rails in Boston and other major cities. Extra sheriff’s deputies patrolled Los Angeles Metrolink trains. “Very little technology can be applied in this area in an effective way,” said Rafi Ron, a Washington security consultant who formerly headed security at Israel’s Ben Gurion Airport. Since the transit systems exist to move large numbers of people quickly over a large metropolitan area, anything that slows the process, such as security checks, would disrupt the system.
Following the March 11, 2004, train bombing in Madrid that killed 191 people, the Transportation Security Administration tested a high-tech security system at a suburban Maryland commuter train stop. Walkthrough portals “sniffed” the air around passengers to check for explosives residue. The TSA also experimentally screened baggage checked on long-distance Amtrak trains leaving Washington’s Union Station. In another test, the TSA screened passengers as they boarded trains. Amtrak spokeswoman Marcy Golgoski said TSA has no programs to screen people or bags at passenger railroad stations.
Mainly, it’s people themselves who are asked to patrol the mass transit systems. The 30-plusmillion who use subways, trains, and buses in the U.S. received another vague warning to “stay alert” and report “suspicious people and activity”. “We really need people to trust their intuition and their observation skills about what doesn’t look right,” said the Chief of DC’s Transit cops Polly Hanson. Oh, we are Polly, we are…
Italian Government Legitimizing Existing Roundups of “Terrorists”
Using the latest London attacks as fodder, the government will “now” allow police to detain suspects for 24 hours without access to a lawyer, and to take DNA samples from them without a court order. Authorities also will gain greater access to Internet and mobile phone records, and will be able to reward immigrants with residence permits if they cooperate with law enforcement. The latest security plan also calls for establishing a so-called super-prosecutor’s office that will coordinate terrorism and organized crime investigations. Currently, those investigations are led by independent prosecutors who do not always coordinate with one another, or with intelligence agencies.
With its ancient, compact layout, Italy’s capital retains an intimacy and openness and with that openness comes vulnerability. Rome has little choice as its major government buildings are in the heart of the city, with little separating them from public streets. A year ago officials put up barriers preventing vehicles from driving just a few feet from the national parliament building but even now, the traffic doesn’t appear to be out of truck bomb range, according to news reports. Members of the public still can walk a few feet away from the main entrance to Palazzo Chigi, the prime minister’s office.
With the Winter Olympics being held in February in the northern Italian city of Turin, and with an Italian general election expected next spring, many analysts believe that the first part of next year is the most likely time for an attack in Italy.
We’ve Got a Not-so-secret Secret: Y’all Are Idiots!
Government secrecy has reached a historic high by several measures, with federal departments classifying documents at the rate of 125 a minute as they create categories of semi-secrets bearing vague labels such as “sensitive security information”, “law enforcement sensitive,” “homeland security sensitive” and other vague tags. A record 15.6 million documents were classified last year, nearly double the number in 2001. Meanwhile, declassification has slowed to a relative crawl, from a high of 204 million pages in 1997 to 28 million pages last year. In a recent example, the Department of Health and Human Services sought to prevent publication of a scientific paper about the threat of a poisoned milk supply on the grounds that it was “a road map for terrorists.”
An Ominous Sign of The Times
Authorities in Los Angeles will soon begin tracking prisoners in the United State’s largest jail system using new radio-linked wristbands to pinpoint their location within a few feet. Los Angeles County plans to spend $1.5 million to tag about 1,900 prisoners in one unit of the Pitchess Detention Center in Castaic, about 40 miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles, beginning in early 2006. If it “works well”, the program will be expanded to the 6,000 prisoners at the county’s central jail and then to other facilities. The state of California has the biggest prison system in the industrialized world. This tyrannical state holds more captives in its jails and prisons than France, Great Britain, Germany, Singapore, and the Netherlands combined.
State Taking Greater Control of Local Food Supplies
Legislation aiming to force industrial farming practices are being introduced in states across the nation. Fifteen states recently have introduced legislation removing local control of plants and seeds. Eleven of these states have already passed the provisions into law. “Over the past several years in Iowa, we’ve seen local control taken away for the benefit of the corporate hog industry,” said George Naylor, an Iowa farmer and President of the National Family Farm Coalition. “With these pre-emption laws signed into law, we are now losing our ability to protect ourselves from irresponsible corporations aiming to control the agricultural seeds and plants planted throughout the state.” Much of the legislative furor is designed to stop locals from halting the use of GMO crops, herbicides and pesticides in areas they deem within their control, having relied on the illusion of local governmental sovereignty, town meeting democracy, and the belief in versions of “home rule”.
When The Music Is Your Only Friend
On August 22, a SWAT Team shut down a rave party on private property in the Diamond Fork area, an hour outside of Salt Lake City, Utah. About 90 law enforcement pigs from multiple agencies armed with semi-automatic assault rifles, tasers, helicopters, dogs, spotlights, and tear gas, arrested over sixty people for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, underage drinking, drug possession and distribution, resisting arrest, assault on a police officer, disorderly conduct, and one weapons offense. By the time police arrived there was a crowd of about 1,500. Prior to raiding the show, several unnamed police informants had reportedly told police that they had observed some “illegal activities”. A firsthand account from a DJ booked to play at the party stated that while police were arresting a man accused of possession, the suspect was beaten to the ground and continually “kicked in the ribs” by four armed “soldiers” dressed in camouflage. Tear gas was thrown at the partiers as they attempted to leave.
In Mlynec, Czechslovakia, tear gas and water cannon were used to break up the party of 5,000 ravers at the weekend-long event, which has been staged since 1994. About 1,000 pigs moved in shortly after the event started, saying that the revellers had damaged private property. They set up blockades and closed off roads around the site to stop more people attending. Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek said techno fans were “no dancing children but dangerous people”. In a new article, he stated the core of the techno enthusiasts was made up of “obsessed people with anarchist proclivities and international links,” who “provoke massive violent demonstrations, fueled by alcohol and drugs, against the peaceful society”. He expressed regret over the injuries, but said the police only defended themselves against attacks. Paroubek, of the Social Democrats, said comparisons with crackdowns on students by the communist authorities in 1989 were offensive. “Any analogy drawn with the current savagery of young anarchists is absolutely wrong and expedient.”
GA Note: We can only cover a fraction of the repression that emanates from the state apparatus, so we try to offer a glimpse of what is going on around the world. While we present some analysis of how the various state agencies act upon the general population, we prioritize the specific effects on resistance movements in general, and on ecological, anarchist, indigenous movements in North America in particular. Also, this publication only comes out three times a year, so some info may be somewhat outdated by the time you receive it. Please use this as a guide for your own research and inspiration.
More info on Political Prisoners:
Anarchist Black Cross Network
Spirit Of Freedom: Earth Liberation Prisoners Support Network
Animal Liberation Prisoners:
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, PA 17011-0200 SCI Camp Hill.
William Philips Africa AM4984, Delbert Orr Africa AM4985, Drawer K, Dallas, PA 18612 SCI Dallas.
Raise A Ruckus For Rob Los Ricos!
Rob los Ricos (aka Rob Thaxton) is a Tejano Chicano anarchist political prisoner currently serving 88 months (over 7 years) for throwing a rock at a cop during the June 18, 1999 Reclaim the Streets celebration turned riot in Eugene.
Rob is due to be released in June 2006. People across the country and the world have been asked to make the weekend of November 11-13, 2005 a day to support Rob, to celebrate, and to raise needed support money.
November 11th is the anniversary of the day four anarchists were hung in Chicago in 1887, despite their obvious innocence and international outcry for their release. This holiday is generally commemorated on May 1st all around the world. Rob wants to reclaim this as an anarchist festival day. And we’re asking you to help make it happen!
Donations can be sent to: Rob los Ricos, PO Box 83904, Portland OR 97283-0904
*Checks and money orders can be made out to “Rob los Ricos” or “Robert Thaxton.” You can also make a paypal donation at www.paypal.com. The email address to use is firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more info on Rob, check out: www.roblosricos.net
Prisoner Mutinies and Revolts
“Look at the prison you are in, we are all in. This is a penal colony that is now a Death Camp. Don’t intend to be here when this shithouse goes up in flames. You will have to kill on the way out because this society is a Penal colony and no one is allowed to leave. Kill the guards and walk free.”
–William S. Burroughs
May 12, Michigan: Benton County Prisoner Escapes
Police are searching for a prisoner who walked out of his cell when a jailer left a door open. Cody J. Weter, 28, took advantage of another inmate’s heart problems to leave the Warsaw jail early in the morning, said Benton County Sheriff Rick Fajen. When a jailer went to help the sick inmate, the door was left open, and Mr. Weter escaped. The inmate’s medical problem was legitimate, the sheriff said. “He was not in on it. He (Weter) ran out in socks and underwear. He took advantage of an opportunity.
May 13, Stuart, NE: Police Still Searching for Escaped Prisoner
Career criminal and smooth-talking thief William Hawley, 41, had at least three years left on his latest car theft conviction when he disappeared from a prison work squad. A lone correctional officer was watching the five-man crew when, according to records, Hawley was allowed to take a break underneath a ridge because he said he was sick. “We supervise these inmates as closely as possible,” Buchanan said. “It’s unfortunate that some inmates do try to escape from these squads when it gives so much back to the community.”
Between January and March there were 26 work-release escapes statewide. Two involved inmates who walked away from work squads. The remainder were prisoners in the final months of their sentences who are allowed out of custody during the day to work at regular jobs, returning to their cells overnight.
May 13, Uzbekistan: Over 500 Prisoners Freed During Riots
527 convicts and defendants were set free during riots in the Andijan region. Acts of insurrection and hold-ups caused 173 casualties among the general population. Three pigs gravely injured during these events later died in a hospital, another 276 underwent treatment. Eventually, 470 inmates returned on their own to serve out their terms and another 15 returned by force. The rest remain at large.
May 30, Australia: Man Escapes From Court, Hits Pig
A prisoner has escaped from a Sydney court after he jumped from the dock and allegedly stole a car, hitting a cop as he drove off. Steven Allron Eatts, 25, was to face Central Local Court on charges including break and enter with intent to steal, malicious damage, and assaulting a pig.
June 6, New Zealand: Maori Man Escapes Through Ceiling
Police are trying to track down a prisoner who slipped away during a fire drill. He had just arrived at the cells after being remanded in custody at the Upper Hutt District Court on dishonesty charges. Police say 23-year-old Wiremu Neilson broke out through a ceiling cavity in the processing room after the alarm sounded.
June 11, Alabama: Trusty Walks Away
Authorities are hunting for a minimum-security prisoner who escaped from the Baldwin County Corrections Center. Michael Parker walked out of the jail while working as a trusty and jumped in a waiting vehicle around noon, according to County Sheriff’s spokesman John Murphy.
Prisoners with trusty status regularly work inside and outside of the jail without shackles or handcuffs. Parker was granted that status in March and regularly cleaned and conducted maintenance work.
June 12, India: Warden Assaulted, Prisoner Escapes
According to police, Muthukrishnan, a prohibition-offender arrested on May 26, was “lodged” in Parangipettai sub-jail. Jail warden Rajaraman was preparing food for the inmates when the prisoner attacked him with a boulder and escaped. The warden was seriously injured and has been admitted to a government hospital.
June 13, Los Angeles, CA: Prisoner Escapes Through Hole In Wall
Local media reports that a robbery suspect managed to cut an opening in the wall of his cell and escape through the 15-by-9-inch hole in just an hour. Police say he appeared to have cut or torn a hole in the cell’s drywall and ripped up a metal security mesh before crawling out and leaving through a fire exit. Police Lt. Carlos Islas says he’s “reluctant to put any blame on anyone at this point. Clearly there’s a hole in the wall. Whether it’s a construction flaw will be determined at a later date.”
Mid-June, Sao Paulo: Rioting and More Rioting
Two riots occurred in less then 10 days. In the first, 11 guards were held hostage for more than a day. And in the second, sheets were set fire and prisoners tried to escape.
July 7, New Delhi, India: A Dozen Escape High Security Facility
Twelve prisoners escaped while under police escort from jail to a court hearing. The escape exposed serious flaws in the security system of Tihar Prison, South Asia’s largest jail. Tihar Prison is a high-security facility built to house 4,000 inmates but is currently holding 12,000. Eighty-percent of the incarcerated are there awaiting trial.
The prisoners were being taken by armed police to the court inside the jail premises. The men gave police the slip as they were being transferred from one police escort to another, according to the Press Trust of India. Two of the prisoners were soon apprehended, but the other ten remained at large.
July 11, Bagram, Afghanistan: More Enemy Combatants Loosed
Four suspected terrorists broke out of a U.S. military detention facility in Afghanistan. The escape from the heavily guarded lockup at the main U.S. base in Bagram sparked a manhunt for the suspects, identified as Arabs from Syria, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Libya. U.S. soldiers set up roadblocks and helicopters clattered low over villages near the base north of the capital, Kabul.
They are considered dangerous according to U.S. military spokesperson Lt. Cindy Moore. She declined to identify the four or elaborate on why they were being held. Another military spokesman, Lt. Col. Jerry O’Hara, described them only as ‘’enemy combatants.’’ He said it was the first time anyone has broken out of Bagram’s heavily guarded detention facility, where most of the approximate 500 detainees in Afghanistan are held. Suspected militants have, however, broken out of other detention facilities in the occupied territory. In 2003, 41 suspected Taliban rebels escaped from a government-run jail in Kandahar by digging a tunnel.
July 22, Miami-Dade, FL: Two Prisoners Escape Armed Transport
A cop was transporting two prisoners to the Turner Guilford Knight Detention Center when they escaped from the back of the police cruiser by unknown means. Police say a perimeter was immediately established and one subject taken into custody. The second subject is still at large.
August 11, Pittsburgh, PA: Perhaps Not the Last
Police are searching for 24-year-old Jason Rini who escaped while being questioned at the major crimes division on the North Side around 2:30 p.m. Police said Rini was in jail on a previous robbery and was brought to the major crimes division to be questioned about other robberies. He was reportedly alone in an interrogation room when he slipped through his shackles and escaped through a drop ceiling in the room. He then dropped down into an adjacent room, ran down a stairwell and escaped out a side door, according to police.
Rini has a history of trying to outrun police. He was shackled to the floor of the locked interrogation room when detectives left the room for about 15 minutes to get him something to eat, detectives said. “They were questioning him for most of the day. He didn’t appear to be a flight risk,” said police Cmdr. Maurita Bryant. A TV photographer who was preparing to drive out of the parking lot of the headquarters building saw him exit the building and followed him in his vehicle as he dodged between buildings. It was the first time a prisoner has escaped from the North Side police headquarters.
Rini’s family said he has a 5-monthold son with a serious heart condition scheduled to have a second heart surgery in a few days and may have escaped to be with his son.
August 16, Fostoria: Woman Escapes to Fresher Air
A female prisoner remained at large yesterday after escaping from the Fostoria Police Department. Police said inmate Joey Taulker, who has asthma, complained of having difficulty breathing. “The day-shift jailer brought inmate Taulker to the lobby so she could get some fresh air to help her breathing, and secured her to a chair. After the cop went into the office, Taulker escaped and ran out the door,” police said.
August 19, Port of Spain, Trinidad: Dangerous Cattle Tender Escapes
A convicted prisoner in Trinidad has escaped from the custody of prison cops at the island’s Golden Grove detention center in the eastern part of the island. Police and prison authorities have launched a nationwide hunt for 35-year-old Sean Hunt. He was allegedly one of the few trusted prisoners allowed to do odd jobs outside the confines of the prison walls. He was, however, supposed to have been under supervision at the time of his escape. Prison authorities say the inmate was tending to cattle in an open field close to the jail when he made a dash for freedom.
Aug. 28, Minas Gerais, Brazil: Two Pigs Killed in Jail Riot
A riot at a prison killed two pigs and two inmates. It started when a group of gunmen attacked the Governador Valadares Jail to help some inmates escape. The authorities tried to prevent the escape, but about 400 inmates in the prison took advantage of the chaos by staging a riot. A shootout ensued, leading to the death of two individuals on each side. Police and jail authorities regained control of the prison, but only after the rioting inmates burnt mattresses and destroyed parts of the jail roof to attack guards with the tiles.
August, Mineral Wells, TX: Another CCA Prison Riot
Inmates at a prison run by Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) fought their jailers with broken boards, sticks, broom handles and plumbing fixtures pilfered after breaking into and looting all of the maintenance buildings, the commissary, and laying waste to the “educational” buildings. Guards quelled the uprising with tear gas and batons leaving twelve inmates with substantial injuries. However, a report from a prisoner indicated that two inmates died and two officials wounded. Officials said about two dozen offenders got into a fight in the recreation yard of the pre-parole transfer facility. There were at least 500 inmates in the yard at the time, said Texas Department of Criminal Justice spokesman Mike Viesca. Other reports indicated mounting tension was due to the “cruel and unfair” tactics used by CCA and the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles. It all came to a head resulting in the 6 hour melee with financial damages estimated in the hundreds of thousands.
August, MI: Prisoner Escapes, Perhaps With Inside Help
Garfield Lawson III, 35, escaped from the Baraga Maximum Correctional Facility south of Houghton, apparently with the help of prison food-services employee Kathy Lynn Sleep, 43, according to the Michigan State Police. They left the prison in a Department of Corrections refrigerated food-service truck, which was later found abandoned. “We don’t know where they are going at this point. We have a lot of people out looking for them,” said Sgt. Joe O’Hagan of the Michigan Police.
August, Benner Township: Prisoner Escapes From Brand New Prison
One prisoner escaped from the new Centre County Correctional Facility, State Police at Rockview said. About 160 inmates just moved into the facility earlier in the month.
August, Winchester, KY: Handcuffed Prisoner Escapes
A man charged with two armed robberies in Winchester escaped yesterday as he was being returned to the Clark County jail after a court hearing, authorities said. David W. Greene, 35, was handcuffed with four other prisoners and was being led down the street from the James Clark Judicial Center when he escaped, apparently by using a key to the cuffs.
This is what we thought of the following zines and books. For your own opinions, read them and think for yourselves. (All reviews were written by members of the GA Collective, unless otherwise noted)
This Time We Fight Back! #1
“This time we fight back. We will not settle for privilege and distraction. For every witch that has burned we will launch a new attack on the systems of control. For every ecosystem razed to build this industrial complex we will tear apart the towers of the rich. Patriarchy will burn and we will dance in the ashes scattering seeds as the forest rises from the gravesites of industrial demise.”
(inside front cover)
This Time We Fight Back, while brief, is a passionate and sharp assault on the paradigm of domination and control. The author covers a lot of ground in short snippets from her life and analysis of what the fuck is going on around her and what has historically occurred in this nasty incubus we call civilization. This visually stimulating anti-civilization zine leans in both an eco-feminist and an insurrectionary direction. “Railroad Weeds and Conflict” opens the zine with a caffeinated rambling prose about navigating through a desolate urban landscape of concrete, poison, and broken dreams, yet managing to maintain a glimmer of (border-line nihilistic) hope. “Fighting For Our Lives” offers a short rant on moving beyond abstract analysis and cause identification to living in one’s body and placing oneself into direct opposition with civilization in order to live spontaneously and autonomously. “Abandoning the City” connects the first two essays by projecting practical rewilding. The interview with Derrick Jensen is an interesting, yet predictable, discussion on why we allow this nightmare to continue unchallenged, along with Derrick’s characteristic tactical solutions. “Healing and Fighting: a false dichotomy” examines, as the title suggests, the relationship, not isolation, of these vital components in overcoming the pathology of industrial society and developing a more complete anti-civilization practice. The final article is a basic, yet informative historical look at the intrinsic connection of the European Witch-Hunts and the colonization and assimilation of traditional communities as they were stripped from their physical and spiritual connection to their land. While the topics and bluntness of this zine may depress you, the unhampered enthusiasm to live authentically and to tear down this pseudoworld of domestication is sure to inspire. It is highly recommended.
“We have always fought back. What other option exists? When all of life has been co-opted to serve the suicidal religion of civilization the only way to be passionately alive is to place oneself in total opposition to this monster with every breath. To live beyond it, to take each opportunity to sabotage it… For the sake of desire and the inherent wildness of spirit…We will always fight back.”
(inside back cover)
No Listed Price. Write: This Time We Fight Back c/o The Purple Thistle, #260-975 Vernon Drive, Vanouver, BC, Coast Salish Territory V6A 3P2, or: email@example.com
Go Light: Thoughts on primal parenting and the wild child
One of my biggest annoyances with North American radical environmentalism is the extreme negativity and judgement directed towards those who have (or wish to have) children, aka “breeders”. The premise for this particular hostility is obviously overpopulation and its ecological impact, but the arguments are typically reductionist and the language is rooted in self-hating misanthropy. Sure, the conventional nuclear family (with 2.5+ civilized kids) is not sustainable (nor desirable), but neither is much else about the current condition. Yet we can continue to find joy and meaning in unique and common ways. To isolate one biological element and blame it for all the problems in the world is absurd.
Why not say that drinking water is fucked up, since of course, water is a dwindling resource. This sort of justification is not only nonsensical, but also shows a deep fissure from natural processes. Now, I’m not suggesting that everyone go out there and have kids. Shit, most people can’t even take care of themselves because of how damaged we all are. But neither do I think we need to be perfect people before we enter into relationships, even with new lives. I don’t know if I’ll ever be a parent. It radically reprioritizes one’s life, and let’s face it, the world we currently inhabit is a pretty brutal place, but I certainly don’t want morality and guilt to be part of my decision making process. I have seen people’s lives destroyed by becoming parents and I have also witnessed others become more whole and more passionate people. Recognizing and deepening our connection to life is perhaps most apparent when we create, nurture, and learn from children, whether we are connected biologically or as part of a community. It is a complicated matter, but one I think that should not be casually brushed aside or influenced by pressure from the norms and expectations of a “radical” scene. I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately, and this is one reason I was delighted to get a copy of the first issue of Go Light, a new zine on primal parenting.
Go Light focuses on teaching kids ways of relating to the world outside, or on the edge of, the civilized context. (Re)introducing children to edible and medicinal plants, building shelters, hunting and gathering, planting, singing and dancing, and more! An often overlooked dynamic in an anti-civilization analysis and practice, the goal of the zine is to “reevaluate native, tribal, primitive, land-based, aboriginal, and indigenous ways of parenting and slowly work to heal our civilized wounds in order to reestablish a culture of vibrant, feral humyns dancing alongside spirited, uncivilized children.” This zine can help one acquire healthier ways of teaching kids in general, and developing more effective and less hierarchical ways of sharing skills. It also opens one up to learning processes that are not one-way, but mutual.
This first issue contains a great primer called “Teaching Primitive Skills to Children: A Place to Begin” by Wanda T. DeWaard, which suggests safe and effective methods and experiences of passing on basic to more complicated skills. It offers advice like being one’s self, believing in and enjoying what you are doing, being spontaneous and flexible, teaching skills exactly as you would do in real situations, keeping it active and fun, trusting that children will learn far more from example and behavior than words, and processing what has happened. This issue also contains many “how-to’s”, recipes, some plant identification and use, stories, analysis, reviews, resources, contacts, suggested readings, and a wild child distro (including articles, essays, and videos).
While this first issue was more of a basic introduction, topics for future issues include: games, de/un/ homeschooling, childbirth, and gathering-hunting. I look forward to seeing how these subjects get handled. If we are looking to investigate the roots of this nightmare, we need to not only look at the roots of civilization (i.e. agriculture, surplus, symbolic culture, hierarchy, etc), but also the foundation and technique of our indoctrination and domestication as children (from birth, to schooling, to how we are taught to interact with our world), and how we can develop healthier methods of promoting holistic growth, communication, and learning.
No Listed Price. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Wild Within: Adventures in Nature and Animal Teachings, by Paul Rezendes
Paul Rezendes is certainly a fascinating character. His meandering path in life has included a stint as a hardened leader of a nefarious motorcycle gang in the sixties, a disciplined hatha yoga instructor and director of an ashram in the seventies, and his current incarnation as an expert tracker, photographer, and writer. The Wild Within is the philosophical and story-telling portion of his published works (which also include photography and tracking books). Paul extends a deep, yet uncomplicated tone, as he offers personal reflections of his diverse (and yet overlapping) experiences, as well as meditations and exercises concerning tracking, being present, and reconnecting.
I doubt Rezendes would consider himself an anti-civilization anarchist, so it was really encouraging for me to turn on to his book so strongly. Around every turn, through every chapter, and on every page I was with him as he unveiled his heart and revealed his perspective, one of perpetual opening up into wildness, and our dramatic and unique, yet temporal and unpretentious, place within it, and within us. It really struck a chord that this stuff goes much deeper than any political or ideological position, but is instead a crucial place of feeling and of belonging to the world.
While tracking animals is the main theme of the book, it is not in the sense of the “great outdoorsman” following an animal for sport or to kill. It is more about getting to know ourselves, the world we move through, and the connections we make, as well as distractions which confuse and suffocate us. Paul is greatly inspired by the ideas of the anti-authoritarian philosopher/ spiritualist Krishnamurti, a sort of anti-guru who spent his life living spirituality (unmediated) as opposed to striving for it. Focusing on the internal conflicts, such as morality, ideology, and fear, Krishnamurti offered no method or practice of transcendence, but instead provided insight, shared by Rezendes, of living in the here and now, or as Paul calls it “the wild within”. (See: GA #20 for more stuff on Krishnamurti).
Self-examination of our own psyche and of our physical world, places we rarely track with much insight or depth, is Rezendes’ journey. Tracing the processes of our own growth and the scent of a bobcat are equally important to Paul, and at times inseparable; the only way to track a wild animal is to be in tune with ourselves, and through tracking this animal we discover so much about who we really are. Being present, aware, sensitive, attentive, in the moment, and having clarity opens us up to intimacy with the places we inhabit, other species, other humans, and ourselves. This is often difficult in the fast-paced, displaced, rationalized, and thought-driven world we often find ourselves immersed in. Rezendes tackles all of this head-on, with integrity, without judgement, and without sounding too New-Agey. The Wild Within offers practical advice to novice trackers, but also some potent insight into key components of our own domestication as he convincingly describes stalking our wild selves. Check it out!
For an even more practical side of Rezendes’ tracking skills, another worthwhile read is Tracking & the Art of Seeing: How to Read Animal Tracks and Sign, which is beautifully photographed and gives detailed lessons on tracking rodents, rabbits, weasels, raccoons, foxes, coyotes, wolves, bobcat, cougar, bear, deer, elk, moose, and just about anything else you can think of. From prints, to scents, to poop, you can’t go wrong with this excellent resource.
Available at most bookstores, or online. Berkeley Publishing Group, 375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014 Email the author: email@example.com
Species Traitor #4 — An Insurrectionary Anarcho-Primitivist Journal
The long-awaited, much-delayed ST#4 has appeared. 192 pages, and only lack of funds prevented an even larger offering. It’s a book, really, somewhat like the late, excellent Do or Die numbers. I hope distribution channels are equal to the challenge, because this thing is marvelous, engaging, essential. Packed with substance and vision and a fully grounded, radical fighting spirit.
There are those who peddle an image of anarcho-primitivism as more or less the hippie or “lifestylist” wing of the growing anti-civilization momentum. Some of these critics prefer an armchair, abstract version of anti-civilization that doesn’t really clash with what has long been available (i.e. leftism of one brand or another). No pulling that rhetoric shuffle here. Species Traitor explores the “real break” that anti-civ has to mean if it is to mean anything. ST is the real thing, a beautiful artifact of the actual journey that is already under way, out of and against civilization. People on that journey know there is no turning back, no matter how many putrifying ideologies stand in the way.
ST lays out the functioning, in practice, of life-ways old and new. Nine “Case Files in anarcho-ethnography” thread throughout the issue, focused on various non-civilized aspects of living (e.g. birth, laughter, sexuality, equality). Anthropology and history combine with reviews, letters, analyses of present realities/how to attack them, spiritual and philosophical foundations, articles by Kevin Tucker, Sky Hiatt and others, an excerpt from Derrick Jensen’s upcoming Endgame—a super-rich trove all the way through.
What Fredy Perlman began, in his last years, with Against His-Story, Against Leviathan! and The Strait, Species Traitor has deepened, taken further. The publishing event of the year. Get it.
Available for $10 from Species Traitor, PO BOX 835 Greensburg, PA 15601, or contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Profane Existence #48 & 49 (May-August ‘05)
Profane Existence: “Making Punk a Threat Again!”—a debatable claim, I’m afraid. This longrunning zine was out of biz for a time, from the late ‘90s through the first year or so of the current decade, but there now have been almost 50 issues as it covers the anarcho-punk beat. When PE first returned a couple years ago, it offered a glimmer of hope that the punk scene was experiencing a rebirth as an impetus for resistance, but sadly, it has quickly degenerated back to a scene rag.
At 96 pages, Profane Existence has the space to be far, far more in-depth than it actually is. #48 has decent longish features on punk in Poland and Argentina, but no real probing into what’s going on there or could be going on. The nine-pager on genocide in Darfur would in no way be out of place in The Nation or any other humanist, moralizing rag. It contains no hint as to how globalization and industrialism have systematically devastated indigenous life-ways, for example.
#49 is sadly typical in its interview style, asking various band members how they see Bush as the whole picture of evil. In the same vein is the 25- page (!) spread on admitted progressive Chris Boarts Larson. Switching from liberalism to leftism is a piece on Umanitá Nova, an Italian weekly devoted to bureaucratic anarchism.
Profane Existence loves the circle-A but couldn’t say what it means. Whatever seems a bit militant qualifies, one guesses. Will Kinser of Born Dead raises a ray of hope with his comment that “corrupt governments sell out all the indigenous people for the dream of industrialization.” Too bad that in the same paragraph he declares it “the first world’s responsibility to distribute the resources and technologies they can offer” [to those losers in the third world]. PE is a bigger, glossier, punk-oriented Slingshot. Still waiting for the “threat.”
$5 from Profane Existence, PO Box 8722, Minneapolis, MN 55408 $20 for a 6-issue sub
Daybreak! Issue 6 (Spring/Summer ‘05)
This is a nicely put together 12-page tabloid that appears about once or twice a year. It has a healthy, non-ideological feel and lots of both newsy and useful features, plus some decent, post-left opinion pieces.
It’s a little lacking analysis-wise, however, and might even qualify as evidence for the longrunning overall knock about Americans: our “anti-intellectualism”.
I’m not against dumping on hair-splitting, sectarian “theory” addicts and their usual lack of contact with daily reality. But allergy to thinking things through, and knee-jerk hostility to serious questioning don’t go very far either. References to self-managed workplaces, police review boards, shorter work weeks and the like display a seemingly unexamined acceptance of reformist, superficial approaches. How does putting energy into such areas/projects constitute facing up to the deeper crisis and its dynamics? Do they take on the system itself or are they part of trying to humanize it a little?
Two Daybreak! reviewers discuss three recent issues of GA, both griping about the “mind-numbing theory,” how the issues are perhaps too “deeply saturated with theory,” risk being all about “theory for theory’s sake (is there any other kind)”, etc. I’m not saying GA cannot be criticized, certainly not; but having too high an intolerance for “theory” can be quite limiting.
Nonetheless, I like the thrust of this paper, my sense of its basic healthiness. Here’s one of my favorite judgments, from an opinion piece called “Long Term Resistance Means Culture War”: “Protest is like a 100th generation photocopy of a good oldfashioned king burning, where all the threat is extracted and all we are left with is an empty ritual…”
Single issues $1, lifetime sub $10. Free to prisoners and single parents.
Well-concealed cash only to: Daybreak!, PO Box 14007, Minneapolis, MN 55414 daybreaknewspaper.org
N’Drea: One Woman’s Fight to Die Her Own Way, by Andrea Dorea
(reviewed by Oliver)
One Woman’s Fight to Die Her Own Way chronicles Andréa Dorea’s experience struggling with cancer, undergoing chemotherapy and radiation therapy, and eventually challenging the medical industry and its function in the industrial wasteland responsible for both causing and treating her cancer. She was involved with Os Cangaceiros, whose members refused to work and attacked France’s prison system. “I fled not a few kinds of servitude,” she says, “first and foremost wage-labor. I spent fifteen years outside the law and never went to prison, but I could not escape disease.” (p. 68)
As if in prison, she was directly subjected to the will of powerful specialists well-studied in the logic of civilization while in the hospital. She tells how she was pacified by the doctors who treated her as though her cancer was her own fault, and manipulated into feeling like she needed their treatments, but she knows, “the chemical industry makes us sick by polluting the air we breathe, fouling the water we drink, and adulterating the food we eat, yet we call upon it to care for those very same ills. Likewise the nuclear industry causes cancer, which we then treat by means of nuclear technology.” (p. 57)
Andréa places this critique of the medical industry within the larger context of commodity culture, saying, “within the vast laboratory that the commodity world is for itself, medicine has a strategic role to play: its Herculean efforts to fight off illness – which is an unconscious protest of the subject – are a way of concealing the reality of human decline.” (p. 58)
Her disease accompanied a conscious protest of the subject. Just as she refused to have her life stolen from her by wage-labor, she refused to have her death stolen by the hospitals. Before dying, she concludes “I was about to be deprived of my own death, hence my life – which had been founded on the refusal of dispossession. By reappropriating my end I have retrieved what was at the beginning, and regained an understanding of my rebellion.” (p. 74)
This attractive book is from the people at Eberhardt Press, who are a new underground press that supports their publishing efforts by providing printing and bindery services to comrades and fellow publishers throughout the world.
$5 from Eberhardt Press, 3527 NE 15th #127, Portland, OR 97212
Liberate Not Exterminate, by The Curious George Brigade
(A Joint Review and Discussion by Methane and W.T. Smoke)
Methane: This thing has to be a joke, right? It would be mildly amusing if only it was a parody, but no, once again, some anarchists desperately cling not only to remnants of the death culture, but to the most significant manifestation of its very essence, the city. This new zine by the Curious George Brigade (CGB) is a hollow apology for the urban landscape, and a miserable refusal to view it as an inherently unhealthy, unsustainable, indentured, and anti-liberatory condition. In their “political love-letter for the city”, these postmodern leftists – who seem to have just received their undergraduate degrees from either an Urban Studies/City Planning School or Murray Bookchin’s Institute of Social Ecology (hard to tell the difference at times) – ask us to trust their “commitment to anarchy” and their “love for the planet”. Because, the city, as they see it, “might be the best hope for achieving the goals of green anarchy and healing the Earth”. Wow! This is either an undertaking to co-opt green anarchist ideas for their own metropolitan fantasies (read: pathetic nightmares) or massive delusion and confusion over the unrestrained and livable possibilities which lay within the asphalt, steel, and fiberoptic maze of the city. Either way, it is unbelievable, until you remember that many anarchists are still resolutely tied to the technophilic, organizationalist, and defeatist paradigm of the Left, where freedom is a word with very strict and predetermined perimeters indeed.
W.T. Smoke: I was psyched to see an anarchist collective tackle the subject of the viability of the city. And while this “little zine” by the CGB ranges from naive to unbelievable, I’m taking them at their word that their intent is “...to spark some interesting conversations about cities, ecology, and anarchy among our friends and future comrades.” A few years ago I attended a NYC anarchist study group and I found the two CGB members in attendance to be articulate, pointed and humorous. They also spoke as antiworkerist anarchists. But perhaps I am being too generous because of their succinct criticism of the NEFAC presenter that night. Unfortunately, this piece reveals the disturbing tendency of many American anarchists to embrace elements of liberalism/leftism. Here they tell us “if we are actually interested in radical change...we have to build new economic, justice, and social systems”. The section Oasis or Reform is filled with examples of projects meant to improve current conditions, something most of us do every day, but that doesn’t make them radical, revolutionary or even useful over the long term. And this is where their argument for the city falters most; they never extrapolate their small-scale examples into the city-wide scale they propose as the most sustainable way for humans to live. And throughout they promote new styles of democracy, institutionalism, and work. I’m tempted to argue that because cities are founded on and maintained by such political and economic ideologies, it would be difficult to impossible to promote the city without also being apologists for the institutions that keep it going, but I’ll save it for future discussions should there be any. If CGB is serious about their “love for the city” they will need to dig more deeply under the pavement to reveal real chaos and anarchy.
Methane: According to the CGB, reclaiming “their fortress– the cities” and to “actively engage in new, sustainable ways of living in the city,” is what constitutes a “serious critique of capitalism.” But, this sophomoric analysis of the workings of the world’s primary economic system (let alone the other horrific institutions and manifestations of civilization) is utterly useless. It is merely attempting to put forth a feel-good (and unrealistic) platform for “taking back” the cities. If you want to pretty-up your prison cell, go right ahead, but please call the concrete box what it is, because you’re only fooling yourself.
With lines like, “Cities if done right can actually be good for the environment,” Liberate Not Exterminate is riddled with wishful thinking and fictional tales of “responsible, ecologically sustainable, caring, and smart cities.” Using Hoboken, New Jersey as a model for density (approx. 35,000 people per square mile), they propose that the entire U.S. population could fit in the state of New Jersey. Even if this were true (of which I have serious reservations), not only would this be a hellacious experience, compounding all the neuroses and dysfunction brought about when that many people are crammed together, but it also has not been proven in any way how this could actually function without importing into the cities the majority of what is needed for survival, and exporting all the waste. Just because they say it could happen, doesn’t make it so. Sorry, some community gardens and sifting through garbage dumps just won’t cut it. Besides, I’m from New Jersey, and I can honestly say there is nothing about Hoboken worth mimicking, besides maybe the pizza.
W.T. Smoke: The only time I thought this might be a parody – of an ideological primitivism promoted by another charming but naive few – was when they proposed that all the people could live harmoniously in a limited geographic area – even using the term bioregion – that would supply all their needs while simultaneously healing and caring for the wilderness. “Doing the city right” for sustainability seemed strange since they are already done wrong for CGB’s vision of “safe, renewable energy” – passive and active solar, for one example. How will the skyscrapers that block so much sun be retrofitted for passive and where will the countless solar panels and the batteries be placed when their rooftops need to be used for gardens. They cite the reduction of energy in some cities by as much as 75% again without sourcing to see how and where this is being accomplished. And most importantly, they never talk about how the assemblies and components will be manufactured or maintained without industrialism, ecological devastation, division of labor – hell, they don’t even question labor, insisting people like to work if they get a sense of personal accomplishment.
Methane: Pretending to have a rudimentary understanding of biodiversity, the CGB promotes the idea that cities can have a more complex ecology than rural or wild areas. Furnishing comical “facts” like a supposed Audubon Society study that found “more species of birds in New York City than in the entire state of North Dakota,” they put forth the idea that the city is the test-tube for a neo-world. And thanks to the imperialism, global trade, and post-modern fads, “there are over 20 plants that exist solely in this city… [and] parrots live in Brooklyn.” Where some of us view three-eyed fish, two-headed turtles, and polar bears and penguins at the Miami Zoo as negatives, they peddle plants and animals out of their context, mutations, and species that would never breed together under uncontrived conditions as “new hybrids not found anywhere else.” Where ecology takes thousands and millions of years to evolve based on the slowly transitioning organic microconditions of a place, these people celebrate the instantaneous and whimsical morphing of gene pools. It’s no wonder they would twist a word like ecology to include the architecture of a city. Attempting to put an organic spin on the city’s structural elements (buildings, roads, infrastructure systems, green spaces), they describe it as its “bones” and “the body that the ‘genus loci’ or the spirit of the place inhabits…constantly being transformed by the rebuilding of its body.”
W.T. Smoke: I didn’t get that they think the city could have a MORE complex ecology than rural or wild areas overall, just that it is more ecologically diverse than one might think, comparing it to a desert that appears barren but is actually quite lush. Of course cities have many varieties of flora and fauna – humans are not capable of keeping it out, no matter how much they exterminate. They “believe it is wrong to believe that a pigeon or Brooklyn parrot is any less natural or wild than a spotted owl or a bald eagle”. Skipping the question of what is natural for now, its certainly questionable whether city critters are as wild. If wild means undomesticated/ not dependent on humans for sustenance, I doubt that city creatures would survive if they didn’t have access to the leftovers of human over-consumption, unlike their desert cousins. But I do agree that we don’t require the woods or deserts to begin rewilding. Which is first and forever an inner project; an exploration of and release from the bonds of mental domination and physical dependency that marks civilized life in favor of intuitive, direct, and immediate experiential life that harkens to the wild. It is another false dichotomy and tendency to binary thinking that insists rewilding is only possible in a remote setting. If that were the case all people living “off the land” using “earth skills” would be wild – they are not.
The city depends on the rural for most of the food, a lot of the water, and “recreation” (people leave the city in droves for a reason, too!) while the rural depends on the city for long-distance communication (mail, internet, phone), bureaucratic institutions (i.e. health care, welfare) and “recreation” (entertainment and shopping). City and rural anarchists interested in destroying capital, state, religion and all institutions of hierarchy have common enemies and could provide interesting mutual aid (i.e. food, medicine, safe spaces, maps, surveillance, intelligence) while we sort out this question of the city.
Methane: I would agree that there are individual and collective experiences that can be enjoyable, inspirational, and liberatory in urban areas. Hell, I got something out of my years of living there (mostly in the social realm). And I would also agree that “rewilding” is something that is primarily internal and can occur in an infinite number of situations and contexts. But I also have found the circumstances and dynamics of the city to be less conducive to undomesticating projects than rural areas and certainly more wild areas (less touched by primarily humans). It is harder to be a feral mouse in a cage than it is in a field (even if that field has human crops and plows), and there are certainly even more possibilities in a forest. For one, there are simply less civilized distractions and constraints. Just the pace alone can open up huge possibilities. Plus, there is simply more life outside of human manipulation to relate to and connect with. While there are some useful aspects to rewilding projects in cities, I am cynical of most, especially when a majority of them seem motivated by justifications for the urban “environment”. Without really talking about the negative aspects of the city, besides some tokenistic double-speak about cars and big mean corporations, and certainly never the emotional and psychological downsides, the CGB presents the city as an Oz, where all of our dreams can come true. “The city provides experiences that can be found nowhere else…one can watch the flow of humanity and enjoy the seclusion of anonymity at the same time…by eliminating the city we would be losing not only cultural diversity but also a varied range of beneficial human experiences…[they] allow us to reinvent our lives and create new families.” Can you say co-dependent rationalization?
W.T. Smoke: CGB insists it is cultural diversity that is so appealing about the city – contrasting it to the “tradition” and “stifling conformity” of the rural areas. Culture is tradition and while the city has a greater concentration of people from other parts of the world – who come to the city for capital not culture – the rural areas are amazingly diverse – farm workers come from all over the world. This makes me wonder where the writers have gone when visiting the “country”. But there is something about the city that even anti-civ anarchists seem to like: hanging in the coffee shops, eating at ethnic restaurants, attending social events. It would be more interesting to explore and expand the good feelings that these encounters offer wherever we live and agitate. But what about this other thing – some call it ‘the energy’ – that the city has, even drawing in its detractors?
Methane: Using the 2001 uprisings in Argentina as an example of the city “naturally striving for liberation”, Liberate Not Exterminate goes on to explain that in Buenos Aires “neighborhoods organized themselves into local spokes-councils and everything from stores to factories set up real worker councils to ensure the city functioned…for months the city, despite the economic and political crisis, ran smoothly and was more democratic than it had ever been.” So much for throwing a wrench in the functioning of society. Oh, that’s right, that’s not the goal of the CGB. Rather than looking at the fact that at least some of the dissatisfied people were rejecting modernity, production, economy, representation, and civility, the uprising is neatly presented as a unanimous plug for cities, a “place that can allow our personal choices to find company and outlets,” where “novelty and change are part and parcel of the urban experience…[The city] can produce anything. Possibility is the currency of the city.”
W.T. Smoke: This section had me thinking that NEFAC took over the CGB!
Methane: Perhaps most offensive about Liberate Not Exterminate, is the all-too typical distortion of anti-civilization, and specifically primitivist, ideas. Now, of course, no idea or analysis has it all figured out, and healthy (even brutal) critique is necessary for a perspective to deepen, but typically leftists (from the organizationalists to the technology lovers to the advocates for urbanization) love to present misleading, exaggerated, and even absolutely unfounded straw arguments. The CGB is no exception, carelessly labeling primitivism as “a form of economic reductionism” and a “reactionary fantasy” that “rejects the complexity and agency of humans while denying a hundred years of research on the topic.” Their contention is that there were a few egalitarian huntergatherers (of which they give the Inuit as an example, probably one of the poorer examples of a non-hierarchical society), who most commonly exhibited extreme sexism, domestic abuse, female genital mutilation, female infanticide, and spiritual monopoly by a few men. This faulty notion only displays their ignorance, since it is widely understood that most of these characteristics were not prevalent in hunter-gatherer groupings, but they instead developed in horticultural and agricultural societies, which far more resemble the dynamic of the city than that of hunter-gatherers in social structure, sedentism, food acquisition and storage, and their perception of the earth and each other. Claiming that “there is in fact nothing magical about hunting and gathering that leads people to reject hierarchy or oppression” is true in that it is not magic that avoids these trappings, but it does have to do with scale and lifeways. While these negative human tendencies are all but missing in hunter-gather societies, they increase as a society becomes more massified, with its most awful point being that of the city. This is why the hunter-gather lifestyle, while not seen as an ultimate or singular “solution”, is far more inspiring and useful as an example than any of the civilized models of human habitation.
And, of course, they get to their favorite contorted punch-line (to which the title of their zine is no doubt referencing)…we want everybody dead. An absurd deduction to draw from a critique of domestication and honest acknowledgement that the world’s population is unsustainable and due to the artificial lifesupport system created by civilization. Questioning civilization does not equal genocide, but instead puts into contention how we relate to the world around us, each other, and ourselves. This nonsense is followed by arguing that we can stuff lots more people onto the planet, and cites refugee camps as examples of humans living successfully in “extremely dense, often artificially induced, populations.” Sounds great, huh? They go on to condemn “the extreme anti-civilization argument” in which it is apparently “not uncommon to read writings condemning certain traditional people for FALL/WINTER ‘05-‘06 ISSUE being “traitors” because they fail to match up to some dogmatic anti-civilization check-list.” Now, I follow most primitivist forums, and I’d like to see where any of these distortions were ever printed. So much for reality, as their arguments contain more straw than substance.
W.T. Smoke: Several times they referred to primitive proponents of human annihilation that would reduce up to “5/6 of the world’s population” in order to support their pro-density argument. When I realized they were serious I had to chuckle, even though I was annoyed that yet another group trotted out this supposed green anarchist tenet without attributing the source. I’ve never read this anywhere. Those opposed to civilization are not just anarch-primitivists and green anarchists. There are insurrectionalists, anarch-communists, nihilists, and even anti-state communists who have strong critiques of civilization, some even considering themselves anti-civ. None advocate the extermination of humans.
This piece does not examine the origins of the city (commerce and wealth production) and the scale of devastation not seen outside of it. We all have a huge dilemma to face – the city cannot sustain the whole of a wild human population and the existing wild areas cannot sustain the human population in its entirety. This is why “love stories” of either pro or anti-civ anarchists need to be exposed as idealizations bordering on, if not fully immersed in, ideology.
Methane: Finally, Liberate Not Exterminate presents its case studies to give us an idea of where all of this primitivist bashing and cheerleading for cities is leading us. Without missing a beat, the CGB advocates what every other milquetoast “radical” rag has proposed for decades: community gardens, social centers, infoshops, bookstores, pirate radio, coffehouses, meeting halls, concert halls, art galleries, Food Not Bombs, free stores, and squats. Many of these things are far from fruitless, but I’d call them somewhat positive reactions to the current setup, and certainly not promote them with the vigor of the CGB, whose stated goal is “to build new economic, justice, and social systems…[and] to adopt anti-capitalist economies.” Uncritically, Liberate Not Exterminate endorses “technological breakthroughs on the renewable energy front,” as well as misrepresenting “The Free Town of Christiania in Copenhagen” as “fiercely anti-capitalist and independent-minded,” despite its absolute dependency on tourists for their survival, the city for infrastructure, and lack of even any mainstream sustainable practices (growing food, energy, etc). It is fun to go there, but it is nothing more than a counter-cultural amusement park.
The Curious George Brigade back up their empty promises by declaring to have spent years studying the ecological and social viability of cities (although they offer no real information or details, only cheerful socialist rhetoric and sugar-coated speculation not seen since Fred Rogers croaked). They assert that their critics just don’t understand. Well, as someone with a degree in architecture (whatever that’s worth), who was also once filled with similar utopian fantasies of “urban sustainability” and “lively neighborhoods”, as someone who has spent most of my adult life suffering in the toxicity, alienation, and hyperstimulation of the cosmopolitan condition, and as someone who has traveled to many of the “liberated” spaces that the CGB hold up as their models (European squats, Christiania, etc), I beg to differ with their “conclusions”. While the examples they give may, in some cases, be inspiring and useful in the short-term struggle for temporary sanity within the system, they are hardly long-term visions of anarchy, sustainability, or wildness. Liberate Not Exterminate is yet another justification for remaining on the civilized trajectory, one which plows through a field of misery. I don’t wish to be an “architect and builder” of the future, but instead a catalyst for destroying civilization’s future, and a wild, decivilizing human amongst and outside of the city’s ruins. For me, New Orleans is a better case study than the romantic “eco-city”. While there may be projects of mutual aid and struggle we can collaborate on, obviously, our visions are, for the most part, simply incompatible.
W.T. Smoke: The city cannot withstand the pressure of the barely controlled domesticated (human included) and feral animals crammed into increasingly diseased quarters. The recent devastation caused by tsunamis, hurricanes, tornadoes, heat waves, floods, viruses… need not be considered Apocalyptic events when predicting a likely future. Cities were designed on shaky ground, architecturally and philosophically. CGB makes the error of arguing for the city by simply arguing against (a convoluted interpretation of) the anticivilization perspective and by promoting the lies of green capitalists. And it just doesn’t hold water.
For Info on Liberate Not Exterminate, contact: email@example.com
News From the Balcony, with Waldorf and Statler
What if you started a Serious Revolutionary federation and no one gave a shit?
When you’ve been riding the waves of The Anarchy for as many decades as we two old coots, you start to get a sense of the patterns of things—the shifts of the seasons, as it were. And just like the leaves of autumn or the blooming of spring, the anarcho-Organizationalists are upon us again to rabble-rouse and blaze trails of shit through human lives until grad school beckons in another year or two.
Struggling since the demise of Love & Rage to be taken seriously by anyone outside of their Civil War Reenactor units, the Neo-Vanguardists are beginning to stink of the theoretical corpses they stand on. The smell is getting so bad that even some anarcho-Communists seem to be losing the stomach for it. The recent break-up of the FRAC—that would be the Federation of Revolutionary Anarchist Collectives—has initiated a new wave of public hand-wringing, notably the recent press release, “Unfinished Business #2: Proletarian Boogaloo” by Paul of the Northwest Anarchist Federation, aka NAF.
Paul sees this break-up as symptomatic of deeper problems currently plaguing the “revolutionary left,” namely that uppity anarchists who refuse to submit to the ideology of Federated anarcho-Communism have “any credibility or say in the discourse of the revolutionary left, or the anarchist milieu.” However, I’d suggest that the credibility non-Leftist anarchists do possess has more to do with the increasing awareness of the irrelevance of applying a 19th Century class analysis to 21st Century conditions and the anemic theory evident in the elevation of mass organization to the exclusion of all other methods of operating as agents against the State as offered by NAF, FRAC, NEFAC, et al.
These confusionist flunkies fritter away precious days building more unneeded and unwanted organizations; dull the minds of their followers with their endless, unproductive meetings and associated busywork; dilute the meaning of anarchy with calls for stronger leadership and accountability; and make cynical and opportunistic plays at electoral and/or labor politics.
They then have the gall to point the finger at any and all anarchists who oppose the Orthodoxy, to lay the blame for the weakness and theoretical impoverishment in their “revolutionary movement.”
Not to aggrandize the dismissed, but rather to uncloak the dismissers, our analysis of their MO reveals the anarcho-Federalists to be the intellectual and ideological heirs of 1968’s PCF. The exponents of this sad tendency who’re sly enough to graduate in journalism will later pay their rent revising our stories—denounce us today, republish our books tomorrow.
After seeing so many failed attempts throughout the years to build a “serious revolutionary movement” (SRM!) concerning itself with “real leadership and education” in tackling burning anti-State issues such as the “importance of leadership within anarchist-communism” within the core “educated [code-word for ‘correct party line’] milieu of revolutionaries,” we’ve memorized the formula:
Come up with the Clever Acronym and Cool Logo.
Meet long, meet often for the feeling of Getting Things Done!
Make shrill denouncements of any group or tendency that threatens your imagined ideological hegemony over “the movement.”
Implode due to lack of interest.
Write painfully dull retrospective of what went wrong in the best tradition of Crit/Self-Crit.
This is, of course, the problem of starting with The Answer and attempting to warp reality to fit. The nature of the fact that even other anarchoCommunists are losing interest in federalizing will be utterly lost on these myopic Managers-in-Waiting; the only conclusion they will be able or willing to come to is that there needs to be more and stronger Organization! Or as the “now-defunct FRAC” puts it, “we do not question the need to have an organized revolutionary anarchist federation…” The march to reform the State in their own image must trudge on. (Oh! Did we just say that out loud? Oh yes we did.)
If the Federated anarcho-Commies ever Win, these are the people who in all likelihood will be running the reeducation camps. We’re generally very reluctant to engage in any sort of didacticism, but as these old bones see it, anyone who believes it is their place to organize you, educate you, or in any fashion lead you is indeed your “class enemy.”
And since we’re feeling relatively magnanimous, we won’t even bother writing a clever heckle of the author of the NAF press release, an apparently proud “rank and file member of the British Columbia Government Employees Union.”
Let’s try it again, but this time with feeling!
25 Years of “Radical” Charity
Food Not Bombs is often adopted as an anarchist project despite its liberal beginnings and currents – a soup kitchen promoting “...positive personal, political, and economic alternatives”. That is, a charitable organization serving “The Hungry” who – like the rest of us – struggle with our dependency on the System. But, FNB IS different from church and state institutions! They only serve vegetarian food, usually vegan – usually rice and beans. Their treatises on vegetarianism replace those on religionism. They also serve outside so even the welcome hour of shelter is lacking. Finally, FNB offers an excellent chance of sharing a meal with the local pigs! That’s because FNBers “...make political and social statements at public places” in order to “... prove[s] to the government and business sector that nutrition is as necessary as health care and welfare cheques.” The established order must be terrified by rousing rhetoric such as “for a person to ask for a bowl of beans and rice once a day is like to start a revolution.” Or “Voting for the best candidate or giving money to your favorite charity are worthwhile activities but many people want to do more.” FNBers “want to create life affirming structures from the ground up. We want to replace the death culture with a culture of “Plumbers Not Bombs”, “Daycare Not Bombs”, and “Healthcare Not Bombs””. Is it the threat of sedition locking up the occasional FNBer or another spectacle serving up both activist and pig?
There was a time when FNB’s food stock came mainly from dumpsters, but as grocers locked the trash containers, FNBers switched to petitioning capitalists in grocery stores, co-ops, restaurants. Now most food comes from tax-deductible (as long as they don’t name FNB as the receiver) charitable donations. The meal is prepared in private homes then taken to public areas where FNBers show “Solidarity with the poor.” “We serve the poor to demonstrate that poor-bashing is out of whack with propriety and that charity is not in the governments purview to license.” When I see an FNB group outside an affluent university, I wonder how they define their “underclassed” and “starving millions”? Some FNBers serve primarily to friends and each other, a laudable re-appropriation if this was the intent instead of the result of attitude, timing, reliability, taste, or food quality keeping away the “needy”.
I’ve been asked “can’t anarchists help others in need”? My reply is more questions: do you think it is helping when, at best, you temporarily perpetuate dependency? Would you call it mutual aid or codependency since one gets food while the other gets a feel good moment? Isn’t this one of the subtle hierarchies that illustrate the anarchists’ opposition to charity? Hunger is a serious problem, but it’s absurd to think that feeding folks one day or even 7 days a week is in any way helping us to get out of the vulnerable place we’re in. There are plenty of do-gooders offering ‘free’ food, shelter, clothing in every city I’ve looked for them. Judeo-Christian dogma insists the pious must serve the needy. I certainly take advantage of these ‘altruists’ with tepid or oblivious smiles and perfunctory good wishes (and far too many god bless you’s) masking real intentions. Sometimes it’s fear they hide, perhaps of ending up like those they serve or of being attacked by those who don’t fully appreciate their good deeds. Other times I see pity. Many barely disguise the self-satisfied look of privilege points countered or heavenly ones gained. All this would be more tolerable if their true motivations were laid out on the dining table along with their bland and repetitive left-overs. But those driven to do-good-to-feel-better activities are rarely prepared to look at their own impetus for ‘helping’, much less to share their introspection with strangers.
We are domesticated animals and like pets and livestock, tightly bound by the masters’ food manufacturing and distribution chain whether we buy food, are on the dole, or accept it from charities who intercept other options. ALL are purveyors forcing us to accept this basic necessity on their terms. For an increasing number of us, and for a variety of reasons, wage-slaving for an imprisoned existence is no longer an option. Though we may thrive in other ways, finding enough food to survive is challenging as the number of outcasts grows. The security of civilization’s food supply is tenuous, highlighting one of its greatest weaknesses. This is a rupture anarchists, radicals, and revolutionaries ought to be exploring and spreading; not adding to the patchwork barely holding it together. A focus on self-sustainability MUST be reinvigorated if we’re serious about ending our subjugation. We need to find and create reliable, unchained sources for healthy food (and clean water). This is a fundamental strategical element in any viable liberation struggle and one reason the Masters’ try to control access to them.
I have a few questions for FNBers who are radicals and anarchists in more than label. Are you really about ‘helping’ or are you just wanting to do something – anything? How do you imagine a world free of domination and hierarchy when you choose to become just one more purveyor of the Masters’ wares? If addressing our food needs is of interest to you, why not explore and share options we all can participate in; how about some anarchist mutuality? A few ideas come to mind immediately: rewilding the cities with edibles; mapping locations where food already grows (bourgeois gardens, suburban agribusinesses) or can be obtained by the individual (dumpsters, food delivery locations, warehouses, etc.); learning and sharing the art of re-appropriation (poaching). Hunting the urban roadkill? How about mobbing grocery stores?
One final question: why do you continue your appeal to our dual enemies state and capital, made every time you choose to use the name Food Not Bombs?
*All “quotes” are from Food Not Bombs sources on the web.
Myco-Primitive — Mushroom-Hunting for those who don’t speak Latin, by Rat Girl
(Written 150 feet up a Douglas fir we named Whisper)
Homo sapiens have been making use of wild fungus since the dawn of our species, not only for food but also for medicine and dyes. Yeast, another form of fungus, can be used to bake bread and brew alcohol; many different types of fungus including some mushrooms like the birch conk, can be used as antibiotics and mushrooms, such as the indigo milkcap and the northern red-dye, can be used to dye yarn. Whether you’re at a forest campaign, on the run, or just camping, mushrooms are an excellent resource for primitive living. Mushrooms are nutritionally closer to meat (or maybe tofu) than to most vegetables. They also act as filters for toxins in the environment so it’s not a good idea to pick mushrooms in an area that has been sprayed with pesticides or herbicides or is too close to a road. Mushroom hunting really is a hunt since most mushrooms are very good at hiding. Mushrooms are often found under fallen logs and under suspicious humps of dirt or moss on the forest floor. All you need to get started is a basket or bucket. Baskets are preferable since mushrooms at the bottom of buckets can get soggy but sometimes you’ll stumble across a patch so huge you really need a few 5-gallon buckets. You’ll also need time, patience, a pocketknife, and a good mushroom guide with color photos. (David Arora is one of my favorite authors.) Some mushrooms need to be cut in half to be properly identified (and to check for bugs) and some species of poisonous mushrooms look very similar to edible species so comparing with color photos is helpful and attention to details is essential. [GA Note: This is only an introduction to amateur mycology. Do not identify for consumption without either consulting color photo books or the guidance of an experienced mushroom hunter. Incorrect identification can be harmful, and even fatal.]
For those unfamiliar with mushrooms, two major identifying features are what is under the cap and what is (or isn’t) on the stalk. Some mushrooms have gills or ridges, others have spiny teeth, and others have spongy porous flesh. Some mushrooms have bulb-like sacs around the base of their stalk and/or socks covering the majority of their stalk and some mushrooms have ring-like veils around the upper portion of their stalk. Also note whether the cap is soft, smooth, slimy, or scaly.
The following are easy to identify mushrooms, common in the Northwest. Many of these species are found elsewhere on this continent and/or in other parts of the world but the coloration or habitat might be different. For instance, the king bolete on this continent looks pretty much the same as it does in Europe, while the chanterelle can be red on the East Coast. Most mushrooms are found in the Fall while a few come up only in the Spring and some can be found almost year round.
Chanterelle: The chanterelle is one of the most well-known of wild mushrooms because it’s prolific, tasty, and keeps well. Chanterelles have ridges under their cap which run partway down the stalk. The cap is irregularly shaped, starting out round when young and having upturned wavy edges and an almost funnel shape when older. It’s a solid meaty mushroom that should be smooth and not slimy unless it’s too old and is rotting. It ranges in color from white (which stains slightly yellow) to bright yellow to golden orange. The inside is white in all varieties and the flesh should peel easily. They are usually found in conifer and oak forests. (A)
Winter Chanerelle: The winter chanterelle is slightly thinner than the golden chanterelle and is yellow/ brown with a hollow stalk and lighter ridges under the cap. It is found in wetter forests and can be harvested until the first snows. It’s a mushroom that can still thrive when all chanterelles have turned to mush.
Hedgehog Mushroom: The hedgehog mushroom is very similar in size and habitat to the chanterelle, look similar when young and are often found growing in close proximity. Instead of ridges, it has spiky-teeth under its cap and varies from pastel orange to white. It tends to layer itself in age while the young mushrooms have very round caps. It breaks crisply while the chanterelle peels. (B)
Matsutake: The matsutake is one of the hardest to find, most expensive and probably one of the tastiest mushrooms in the forest. Due to intensive commercial harvesting (most of which is getting shipped to Asia) matsutakes are becoming rarer every year. You usually have to look for them in little humps of moss or debris on the forest floor. It’s an all white-gilled mushroom with a round cap and a sock covering most of the thick stalk. The most distinctive feature is its smell; some describe it as cinnamon and nutmeg while others describe it as dirty socks; either way, it’s sweet, spicy and strong. When young, the sock around the stalk covers the gills as well. It stains slightly yellow and prefers sandy soil, pine trees, and manzanita. (C)
Short-stemmed Russula: This all white (inside and out), bland, gilled mushroom is the pacifist of the forest, usually eaten only in crisis situations and can be thrown at cops when other food is available. The only reason to pay attention to this mushroom is they’re overly abundant in most forests, sometimes alone, but often in groups, and usually pretty big and meaty. It has a large, round, flat cap with a slight indentation in the middle, will bruise slightly brown over long periods of time and has a short, fat, stubby stalk. (Make sure there’s no sac or veil on the stalk.) Despite its lack of flavor you can make a pretty good meal out of it as long as you don’t cook it too long, in which case it gets soggy. (D)
Lobster Mushroom: The lobster mushroom is one of my favorite mushrooms because it’s so big and bright and fun to find and because when cooked it has a firm texture and a not too overwheming seafood taste. This mushroom is actually a parasitic fungus growing on a short-stemmed russula. The cap becomes upturned and it develops bumpily ridges instead of gills. It ranges from a bright orange to bright red and sometimes has yellowish tinges. The inside should be white and it should have a distinct lobster smell to it. Unfortunately worms seem to love this mushroom as much as the short-stemmed russula, so it’s best to gather them when they’re young unless you don’t mind a little extra protein.
Green-staining Milkcaps: These mushrooms are a couple of different but very similar species which have a similar shape to the short-stemmed russula except muchsmaller and the stalks tend to be thinner. They are light orange or tan all over and stain a distinct blue/green when cut or bruised. They also exude an orange or reddish juice when cut. They grow under conifers and can be slightly bitter. Often salted or pickled, these mushrooms are not to everyone’s taste. (E)
Indigo Milkcap: This is one mushroom that I have never personally found because I’ve never gone mushroom-hunting in the South. It’s a very distinct blue mushroom with gills a darker shade of blue than the cap and looks very similar to other milkcaps. It bleeds a dark, bright, blue juice and can be used as a blue dye as well as being, reportedly, very tasty. It will get some greenish spots with age and is found in pin and oak forests in the southern part of this continent and in Mexico.
Admirable Bolete: The admirable bolete has a felt-looking reddish brown or dark maroon cap and a yellow, spongy, porous underside. It’s usually found on rotting wood in conifer forests (usually hemlock). The stalk has a kind of streaked or netted appearance in the same color as the cap and the most notable trait is its lemony flavor. (F)
Zeller’s Bolete: The zeller’s bolete is always a surprise. What you first see is just a small, plain, wrinkled, graybrown cap but, when you turn it over, it has a bright pink or red stalk and a bright yellow spongy underside that stains blue when bruised. Unfortunately, for all of its grand appearance it isn’t very flavorful. Everyone knows at least one activist like this; they talk a lot and dress the part but never get anything done.
King Bolete: The king bolete is one of the largest mushrooms in the forest. From a distance, they resemble hamburger buns littering the forest floor. The large meaty cap is the shape and color of a toasted bun (tan-orangishreddish-brown). The stalks are thick, sometimes the base is as wide as the cap and is usually whitish to tan. The underside of the cap is spongy and should be whitish when young and bruising yellow to olive when old (does not stain blue). Boletes like conifers best but can also be found among oak and birch trees. This is one of the few mushrooms that can be found at any time of the year except during the winter. It is best sautéed.
Turkey Tail: Turkey tail is a very common shelf mushroom that grows in huge clusters on decaying hardwood. The individual mushrooms are pretty small; the underside of the cap is porous and firm and this mushroom has no stalk. It alternates between fuzzy stripes and smooth ones. The stripes consist of any or all of the following colors: gray, light brown, tan, dark brown, black. It’s very tough and leathery but stimulates the immune system and can be used as a natural chewing gum. If it’s too dry and crispy, it’s probably too old; stick with the younger more pliable ones.
Jelly Mushroom: Jelly mushrooms were always my favorite as a kid because they have the texture of Jell-O (although tasteless) and are best eaten raw. They are very small, clear or translucent, gelatinous mushrooms with small teeth like a hedgehog mushroom. They grow on rotten wood and in moss, in conifer forests and are very common. They are good mixed with honey and/or fruit and sometimes used as a thickener in soups.
Inky Cap: The inky cap is a small, gilled, lawn mushroom with a gray/ tan cap, black gills and a slender stalk the same color as the cap. They usually grow in groups. The most distinctive feature is that it stains dark black and melts into a black ink as it ages which can be used to write with. (If it’s already inky you probably don’t want to eat it.) The down side to this mushroom is both it and its cousin, the shaggy mane, cannot be mixed with alcohol. If it is eaten with or within seven days before or after consuming alcohol, it will make you very sick (think natural anti-abuse).
Shaggy Mane: The shaggy mane is very similar to the inky cap in texture, taste, habitat, and effect with alcohol but looks different. It has a white, oval shaped cap covered in shaggy scales and is much bigger than the inky cap. It can also be used for ink and stains black. Both this mushroom and the inky cap tend to pop up in the Spring but, can be found in the Fall as well.
Shaggy Parasol: The shaggy parasol mushroom can be found just about anywhere, in lawns, pastures, orchards, gardens, roadsides, or even coming up from under your back porch. It is one of the few mushrooms that can be found year round. It has a shaggy white and light brown, cracked cap which hangs down like a parasol as it ages and a smooth white stalk complete with a distinctive ring around it and a bulb at the base. The most distinctive feature is it stains bright orange-red when cut. (Make sure the gills are white; if they’re at all green, don’t eat it.) Some people have allergic reactions to this mushroom. To reduce the risk of having an adverse reaction with this or any other mushroom, cook well at a high temperature. (G)
Puffballs: Most people recognize puffballs as the little round mushrooms that send up a puff of smoke when you step on them. Puffballs come in all sizes from very tiny to as big as a human head and almost always grow in clusters. Some are smooth, some have bumps, and some have spines; they range from white to tan to brownish and should be completely white and spongy inside. If it’s not white inside it’s either not an edible puffball or it’s too old, either way, you don’t want to eat it. (Also make sure that it’s not a poisonous amanita button in which case you would see the outline of a mushroom inside the ball when cut open.) All puffballs that are white inside are edible. They can be found from the Spring through the Fall, and are often used raw in salads.
“Thinking our way to health. I can see the allure. No one gets their hands dirty, and we don’t have to challenge or change the most entrenched values of civilization. In fact, we get used to them. We get to use them. We get to use our supposed independent superior brains to solve all our problems. No wonder meme theory appeals to writers. To bad it won’t work. We can’t destroy civilization with positive thinking. It is important to replace the guiding assumptions of the death culture with truth. But truths don’t spring fully formed from human minds. Quinn writes, “memes come to us from all the speakers who are vocal wherever we happen to grow up,” and lists parents, teachers, bosses, and the producers of media as the speakers. What about the non-human speakers surrounding us? What about the humans we have been trained not to hear? Any “healthy” meme that excludes those voices is as sick as the others. We still have to listen. We might even have to get up from the computer and go outside.”
–Laurel Luddite, Fire and Ice
Practical Rewilding: On Coming To Know Flesh
A Wildroots Column About Feral Living
A Rite of Passage…
The experience of transcending food as a product that we buy from the grocery store, to coming to know food as a gift of nature, is one that many of us have passed through. Here I will share my experiences of first learning how to skin an animal, and second, learning what it is to kill. For those who have never opened up an animal I hope that this article might help you feel confident in trying. For you, I have included simple instructions. For those who are experienced, I have tried to offer some personal insights, feelings, and tricks, though I am by no means an expert, and surely could learn much from your insights, feelings, and tips. In the second part of the article, where I share the story of my first kill, I am sharing one of the most profound experiences of my life. It is something that most of us, especially women, are taught to abhor, and think of as a purely “barbarous”. I want to shed some light on my own experiences of how this act has opened me to a whole new aspect of wildness.
The first time that I cut open skin and entered the magic of flesh stays with me as a rite of passage as strong as any other. I was staying at the land that I would later move to. I had finally found rebels who went deeper in their questionings and praxis than any others I had yet found in my rambling about the world. We had picked up two raccoons and a ‘possum on the way back to the land from a primitive skills gathering. There I had eaten bear and deer, and learned how to transform a fleshed raw deer hide into silky soft durable buckskin. Now I was determined to fill in what I was missing, the knowledge of how to separate flesh from hide. I wanted to feel confident that I could honor an animal found murdered by steel on the roadside. I wanted to learn how to eat it and clothe myself with it.
My companion had figured out how to skin on his own, and had determined that that was the best way for anyone to learn. Luckily we had found several critters, it being the fall, when critters start wandering further for food, and when their corpses are preserved by lower temperatures. This way I was able to watch him and try to mimic his actions, rather than stumbling completely blind.
Each of us hung a raccoon from its two hind legs, using tight slip knots above the first joint on the leg so that the animal would not slip with the force necessary to pull off a hide, but so that the rope could be easily untied and used again. I cut first the skin ringing the ankles and the wrists of the ‘coon, following the steps of my companion. Upon my first cut I felt an energy coursing through me. I was breaking through a boundary that I had put up a long time ago, a boundary between me and the wild, between me and death, and between the inner and outer worlds. As my knife cut through hair and skin to reveal flesh and bone I was struck by how delicate my own life was, how like this raccoon I am bone, flesh, and skin, and how, like this raccoon, I have the potential to live wild and free. The strength of the energy flowing from the dead raccoon to me was more than I was prepared to handle.
I cut down the legs, around the anus, down the tail and down the belly, trying to cut through the skin, but not puncture the organs. As the guts were exposed I proceeded to pull them out. The entire digestive tract is basically one long tube that goes from the mouth to the anus. I tried pulling it all out in one go, but I broke the tract just above the anus.
I do a lot of things differently now than I did that first time. Unless the animal’s belly is punctured when I pick it up off the road, I don’t cut down the belly, but rather pull the hide off of the critter like a sweater after cutting down the back legs. A tubular pelt is arguably easier to tan (soften) than a flat hide, as the belly is less likely to tear when stretching the hide to soften it. Now I also “core the Asshole”, cutting the anus out of the flesh that surrounds it to release the base of the intestines, instead of struggling to tear out the entire intestinal tract while it is still attached by faschia, or connective tissue to the pelvis. If you do not core the asshole, but just cut around it, as I did on this first raccoon, you may end up breaking the anus and getting poop all over the meat.
I have learned from experience and from advice that cleaning an animal is an appropriate term for gutting and skinning, for if you do this process right, and the animal did not suffer a belly wound in its death, you should end up with a rather clean carcass. If you do end up with digestive debris on the carcass you can wash it off. If the pelt gets dirty, on the other hand, you should not wash it, because the wetter the hide, the more likely it is to get infested with maggots. I had this happen to the only roadkill beaver pelt that I have ever had. I was keeping it for someone else to process, and it kept getting maggoty, and I kept washing the maggots away, which actually made the hide a better environment for the maggots.
Normally it is best to try to pull hides off rather than cut them off. The goal either way is to keep as much flesh off of the hide as possible. This is because if the flesh is left on the hide it will usually become dirty, and inedible, and you have to remove it if you want to tan the hide, as it prevents the penetration of brains (used when tanning) into the hide. After you have the hide off you must either go right into tanning, freeze it, salt it, or dry it into rawhide, which can be tanned later. If you do not do one of these almost immediately, most likely your hide will turn into a slimy, maggoty mess within a couple of days. The longer you wait the more likely it is that the hair will fall out of the hide as well, thus nullifying one of the most important uses of pelts, warmth. Usually I dry a pelt into rawhide immediately. First you must flesh the pelt. This can be done by picking off the flesh as it dries, or putting the hide around a scraped log or PVC pipe fur side in with a towel in between the hide and the log or pipe. You will need to make yourself a fleshing tool. If you can get a hold of an old planer blade, dull the sharp end, and wrap the two ends so you will have handles. If not, you can find a sturdy bent stick, and hammer in a hacksaw blade into the crook of the stick, sharp side in.
If I have case-skinned the critter, (not cutting up the belly, but pulling the hide up like taking off a sweater) I will take a live branch off of a tree and bend it in half, sticking it inside the critter with the bent end of the branch at the nose. You want the pelt inside out so that the flesh side will dry quickly.
Beginning to pull the hide off is a lot easier if your cuts down the rear legs to the anus go through the skin, but not into the flesh. You start pulling the hide off with a bit of skin, getting your fingers in between the flesh and the skin and peeling. You pull the hide down over the belly. When you get to the front legs you pull the arms out of the skin as one might a little kid’s arms out of a sweater, but with much more force.
At some point, with one hand around the elbow of the coon, and one hand around the hide, the sleeve came loose where I had cut around the wrist. Once I had skinned the arms and pulled the hide off of the neck I realized that something was stopping my pull. I had reached the ear, and like at all of these junctures between the outer and inner world, I had to cut through. Next I cut through the ear canal, then through the inside of the eyelids, and finally through the cartilage in the nose, and through the inner lips.
I was left staring at what to me looked exactly like the fetus of my aborted baby, returned to me from planned parenthood in a plastic jar filled with formaldehyde. I burst into tears, and that energy that I had felt through the skinning process, shaking me, hit me full force.
That night we made raccoon stew. When I ate of the raccoons I felt a great appreciation and connectedness with the animals. I had broken through another step in the alienation that lay between me and that which animates me, food. Breaking through these boundaries is painful, stripping away civilization from the core of our beings is painful. But I knew that I wanted to go further. Instead of only eating animals scavenged from the roadsides, incidentally struck by barreling machinery, I wanted to come to understand what it is to kill a creature to eat. I wanted to open the window between life and death. I wanted to take steps to learn fully what it is to eat of the wild.
My first kill…
I found an opportunity to peel away more layers of alienation a year and a half later when a group of us embarked on a 2 week “immersion project”, in which we explored living more directly in a little tribe by the confluence of two rivers. One of us brought a bunch of steel traps, and another brought the knowledge of how to use them.
Steel traps are clearly a civilized device — another mediation used begrudgingly in the quest for wildness. Their use is much like the use of guns in hunting, or hiking boots, backpacks and tents for living within nature, or of computers and magazines for communication. I am a baby in the wild. I do not know how to survive without civilization, but am on a path toward learning to live wild. I recognize the compromises that I make, every minute, and I do not hate myself for them, or fixate on those compromises in myself or others. I try to be conscious of them. I decided on this “immersion project” that I wanted to try to kill critters and eat them.
I decided that, given that we had steel traps, and there was someone there who had the knowledge of how to use them I would take the opportunity to learn how to kill in this way. Had someone at the project had great knowledge of primitive trapping, I would have chosen to learn to trap animals in that way.
A subset of the larger group, (those of us who accepted using the mediation of metal traps) set off to place and set the traps. I began to see where to look for tracks, how to see the places where animals walked over and over, rather than where one may have strolled, and noticed the subtle distinctions in finger length and formations. I had tried reading about tracks, but none of the information stuck until I was seeing them in the mud and until their interpretation could mean meat for dinner. There were so many skills that came together in setting traps, from tracking, to proper use of a hatchet to put points on the ends of sticks, to camouflaging the traps. It kept going through my head that so many folks of even my father’s age ran trap lines as children, wandering through the same forest or swamp day after day, checking their traps. I was just scratching at the surface of understanding tracks, and I was in my mid twenties. Oh, how far modern education has brought us.
A couple mornings later, when a friend and I went off to check the traps that we set near our camp, I was confronted with the success of a steel foothold trap.
A pregnant female raccoon (I know this because when I skinned her later she had 2 fetuses inside her) was snared with one rear leg in the trap. I looked at her, she at me. Her leg was broken. Letting her go was not an option. I stood in the river, water flowing around my sandaled feet. A chill went up my spine, and I was animated by a strong instinctual force, a force I felt once in a car accident, when I crawled through broken glass out of a turned over car to the safety of the woods nearby. Words in my head did not guide my actions, there were no words, I was only movement, instinct, animal. I walked up the shore, grabbed a large, sturdy stick to use as a club. I walked into the water again, feeling like I was an expression of the water, club in hand. Our eyes locked, both of us scared but with a deep understanding of what was to happen. She knew I was to kill her, to release her spirit to the river, and to claim her flesh to live on in the bodies of my companions back at camp. The raised driftwood club, hardened by its life in the water, came down with the force of my whole body. Her eyes acknowledged to me that it was time, that she was giving herself to me, not in words, but my heart knew.
Watching from the riverbank, my friend who was watching me and the raccoon wailed the instant the club moved. I didn’t think of the wail as coming from her, but rather coming from everything, from the “universe”. There was no distinction to me in that moment between me, the raccoon, my friend, and the river.
When the club hit, I felt the ‘coon’s life flowing through me and into the river, sky, and air. I cried in joy, sadness, death, creation, and noise – wailing. I stood dazed as the water flowed around my ankles. I stared at the raccoon as she convulsed, foot still in the trap, her body twitching. My friend screamed for me to finish her, and I bludgeoned her again, though I knew she was already gone, released, dissolved. The raccoon’s blood joined the river in red swirls, until it joined enough water to disappear to my eyes. I knew that the river now carried her, as it carried the water from the mountain streams from which I drank, and as i would later carry her flesh in my muscle and my heart. She had already gone back to the matter that is all life, to the force that sprouts new leaves out of dormant branches, that nourishes smiles in my friends, and allows new life to spring inside of me.
After killing and skinning the raccoon I ate only wild greens for 2 days. I wanted her to be my first meal, and I wasn’t ready — the experience was too intense. When I did eat her it was in a stew eaten by the whole camp. Stewed with the raccoon were exclusively wild foods: feral day lily bulbs, sochan, nettles, and other wild greens that a friend and I spent the afternoon gathering. We cooked the stew over a fire in a steel pot, a reflection of the steel trap she was snared in.
I value the experience that I had, that the raccoon gave to me, but I am not ready to do it again. I have not used steel traps since this experience. I have, however been noticing tracks and patterns of animal movement more than ever before, which is helping me as I learn about less mediated trapping. I feel like this experience has given me experience and confidence in learning how to eat of the wild. It has also shown me that if the gas really does run out soon, and there is no more roadkill, or tofu or beans on the shelves of stores, I could survive, and live well.
The raccoon still lives in me, in my flesh, and spirit…my first kill. She has shown me, viscerally, what I had only understood as a vague hope. I have the potential to live wild. With a tribe, I can eat of the wild and I can survive. It is possible.
This column, as well as the new publication, Uncivilized: A journal of feral living, is open to contributions. We want to create a format for people to share their experiences of going feral. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS — UNCIVILIZED: A journal of feral living
A magazine created for the exploration and cross-pollination of practical, critical and visionary words and images, taking aim at Civilization in its totality, and celebrating the rawness and realness found on the journey away from it.
Submissions of articles, rants, poems, stories, original graphics and photos, and any other stabs at the transcription of direct experience are invited, as well as free classified ads and resource listings. Also, we’d like book and other media reviews, and reprints and suggestions of favorite excerpts from books or articles.
Here’s some topics we’d like to see explored: earth-based skills (hide tanning and buskskin sewing, shelter-building, herbal wildcrafting, wild foods), radical communication and ecopsychology, mental health, attachment parenting, raising feral kids, midwifery, diet and nutrition, sexuality, primitive skills gatherings, rejecting symbolic thought/ critique of language, anarcho-herbalism, personal rewilding experiences and reflections, interspecies communication, anthropology: limits and benefits, starting ‘tribal’ land collectives, beyond agriculture: theory and practice, ecofeminism, gender, moralism, nihilism, activism, rewilding cities/urban foraging, and more!
Classified ads should remain under 100 words, and limited to announcements of projects and events, appeals for collaboration, bartering and trading, and DIY “commerce” like self-published zines & books, music, and crafts. Submissions (preferably on a CD/disk or via email as a word document, but snail mail will work too) can be sent to:
Uncivilized, POB 1485, Asheville, NC 28802
“Life is impossible without death…Life and death are not separate, but a continuum. It does not make sense to embrace one and avoid the other…Hunter-gatherer societies lived very close to the continuum of life and death. These people were a constant witness to the sacrifice of plants and animals at the altar of their own lives. With their hands they pulled and cut plants from the lifegiving soil. Their arrows stopped the hearts of animals, and they would then remove the entrails, their bodies still warm with life. The warmth of their own lives was ensured by the hides of the animals. They knew that they could not live unless the animals lived. They knew the animals lived because plants and other animals had died and become their flesh.”
– Paul Rezendes, The Wild Within
Reflections On… Feral Visions Against Civilization 2005, by the Wildroots Collective
The third annual green anarchist gathering took place july 27-august 3 in the southern appalachian mountains of east tennessee. Dubbed ‘Feral Visions against Civilization’, the week-long event combined group discussions on everything from primitivist theory and physical resistance to Civilization, to primitive and earthbased skillsharing.
Along with the typical off and on rains of summer, the mountain air kept us cooler than the rest of the humid south. A meandering creek surrounded the site, offering plenty of dipping opportunities and convenient daily bathing. Bare feet were comfortable in the grassy meadows and muddy trails, and the flat terrain made for easy packing in and out of the locally popular National forest site. A communal kitchen was set up at the head of the camp, with volunteers cooking two daily meals for 100+ folks, FOR FREE! An ‘infoshop’ area was set up where Green Anarchy magazine, Black and Green distro, and several other distros from around the country offered reading materials relating to primitive skills and anticiv theory and resistance.
Multiple workshop areas were designated for a wide variety of activities, both hands-on and theoretical. A specific area called “Empathy Camp” was maintained with a focus on emotional healing and support. A hide-tanning area offered materials and instruction through the entire week for the handful of folks who took on the multi-day task of tanning a deer hide. Others observed a bear hide tanning project, and yet others skinned and began tanning small mammal pelts that were brought in to the gathering as roadkill.
Workshops explored skills ranging from baskets made from tulip poplar bark that was harvested on site, friction fire-making, primitive weapons and traps, debris hut construction, rivercane flutes and blowguns, bamboo utensils and cordage making, to wool felting, permaculture, and fermented vegetable and mead making. Discussion topics included radical mental health, spirituality, gender dynamics in rewilding communities, ‘radical relationships’, ‘primal parenting’ and indigenous struggles against Civilization, as well as climate change and peak oil. A “Beyond Activism” discussion was by far the longest of all, with much examination of definitions of and motivations for activism, as well as pitfalls and benefits of participation in movements and campaigns.
Another discussion that delved into anti-civ resistance looked at the question of physical confrontation against the megamachine. What seemed to some at the beginning to be a discussion on tactics and strategy for weakening infastructure, to others this approach itself was worthy of debate. Examining questions of effectiveness of and motivations for an approach of “aided collapse” alternated with (theoretical, of course) info-sharing on tactical and logistical priorities and challenges.
The five day series on ‘Wilderness Attunement’ was one of the best attended and most enjoyed. Facilitated by folks from Teaching Drum outdoor school in Wisconsin, the class focused on developing awareness and stalking skills in the woods, obviously helpful in a wide variety of situations. Starting with a focus on attunement and awareness, the workshops progressed into shadowing, balance and blindfold exercises, stealth and camoflauge, and finally, tracking. The classes built upon each other, yet people could jump in at any point they wanted.
People traveled from both near and far to Feral Visions. From the urban DIY underground in West Philly to the forest-based communities of California, around 150 folks visited the FV site over the week. Forest Service rules require any group larger than 75 to sign a permit agreeing to certain land use guidelines, so over the course of the week, as the numbers grew, the “freddies” (a reference to “the nightmarish things they do to the forest”) made themselves increasingly present, walking around the site and even reading the workshop schedule board. Most participants ignored them, but they eventually leveled threats of eviction, prompting one individual to sign a permit. What many believe was a naive choice may have kept the authorities at bay with little actual enforcement. When one agent walked into a roped off and signed area where an aggressive dog was tied up, he ended up getting bitten. The dog was taken to town to verify his shots, but returned to his companion the next day. They never returned to the site after that.
Next year’s Feral Visions gathering will be hosted by a crew in southern Arizona, and will likely take place in the northern part of that state. Details will be posted on the Feral Visions web page (www.greenanarchy.org/feralvisions) as the date draws nearer. The black and green listserve is a great way to keep informed about FV plans and other related projects within the greater GA network.
Subscribe to it by writing a blank email to email@example.com
Report On the Earth First! Rendezvous, by Felonious Skunk of the Carbon Monoxide (CO) Collective
We’ll Get Drunk, Tell Stories of the “Good ‘Ol Days”, and Sit by and Watch as the Other Planets Get Destroyed Later!
Once again, I am back from another Round River Rendezvous, Earth First!’s annual gathering of the tribes and carnival of drunken hedonistic debauchery. This year’s congregation of North America’s “radical environmentalists” took place in the beautiful douglas fir, cedar, and western hemlock forests of Mt. Hood (Wy’East) National Forest in northwest Oregon.With ashort hike in and crystal clear lake, the unseasonable scattered showers were the only physical barrier to an excellent summer adventure…oh yeah, and all the activists. This year marked the 25th anniversary of the founding of Earth First!, so it seemed like an appropriate time to check the pulse of an aging movement.
I try to make this annual pilgrimage (when time and space allows) to hang out, play, reconnect, and share spirituous libations with folks who don’t live in my bioregion and whom I rarely get a chance to see. Despite varying political differences I have with many Earth First!ers (although political affinity with some is quite strong), there are personal and cultural (for lack of better terms) connections which run deep. By this, I mean that despite diverging opinions, strategies, projects, and goals that we are manifesting in our lives, a deep connection to the earth, a deep sorrow for its destruction, and a deep desire for a more wild existence binds us. Outsiders might call this a connection based on shared principles of Deep Ecology or biocentrism, but I would say that it is merely the common realization that we are part of life, not some superimposed species which can only relate on the social or political level, as well as a desire to halt the ever-expending devastation of our world. Despite the disagreements we may have, I feel more at home in this tribe than in most anarchist gatherings, even when they are comprised of mostly Post-Leftists (that is those of us who look beyond the pitiful Leftist tradition and routine for our political influence and connections). The fact that the gathering is in a wild place without a rigid agenda or permits from the state separates it significantly from the university and urban settings neatly arranged with breaks for lunch and dinner at local vegan restaurants and formal events in the evenings. This difference can perhaps be simplified as one somewhat resembling the world we desire verses one assimilating within the current set-up. Although I have many critiques of this particular scene, a part of who I am is an Earth Firster!, so while I could never see myself joining an EF! group or campaign, hopefully, there is a place for me here.
Another primary reason for attending the Rendezvous is to remind folks of the original intent of EF!, that is “No Compromise in Defense of Mother Earth!” (despite some obvious anthropocentric and paternalistic problems with the “in Defense of” part) and to add more anticivilization analysis and practice into the movement, linking it more firmly to a momentum against civilization itself. EF! has significantly shifted from its more right-of-center wilderness conservationist beginnings in the ‘80s, which embraced sabotage and isolationism, to a liberal/ Leftist eco-social movement which hypothetically supports a wide range of tactics, yet seems to really only employ and advocate for coalition building, educational outreach, banner hangs, lockdowns, tree-sits, and legal “monkeywrenching”. Coming to grips with this confused and conflicting (and yes, at times, inspiring) history, while attempting to infuse anarchist ideas and push the tactical envelope, in my opinion, is still a worthwhile goal, at least for one week a year, especially since the Earth First! Journal generally fails in this regard. While the term “eco-warriors” may be a gross exaggeration for this bunch, there is still something more interesting under the surface than your average environmentalists.
This year my time was generally split between personal connections, facilitating workshops, and anarchist interventions in other discussions. The personal interactions included rekindling old relationships, telling stories of our lives (struggles, sorrows, and accomplishments), strategizing, chugging whiskey, talking shit, sharing knowledge, helping friends, wrestling, sharing meals, contributing to collective endeavors, arguing – genuinely having authentic connections with people there.
As part of my more overt agenda, I co-facilitated several workshops with a close friend and member of the Wildroots Collective. In an attempt to break down the problematic role of specialists, all of these discussions had a limited introduction (5-15 minutes) followed bya more spontaneous and participatory dialogue, with only limited interjections to pose a new subject or question. The first conversation was a general anti-civilization discussion, which introduced some basic ideas and allowed for people to express their perspectives. The next discussion was on “Spirituality”, loosely based on an article from Green Anarchy #20, “Meditation on Mediation”. This brought to light some of the more personal and less intellectual aspects of what motivates some of us to obtain a more direct experience with our world, each other, and ourselves, breaking through our alienation into a deeper context. Needless to say, this discussion was all over the map. While there were some hard-core atheists, religious dogmatists, and New-Aged practitioners, in my opinion, most people had a healthy, holistic, free form, and personal connection to the subject. After GA #20’s tackling of this huge topic, it was interesting to see where people were at, which I would generally describe as cautiously optimistic for something deeper than politics. The final forum we initiated was a tremendously significant one called “Beyond Activism”. In a time of ever more burn-out and frustration over years of going through the motions and ineffectual resistance, many are renegotiating their relationship with “activism”, or giving it up altogether. Our goal was certainly not to encourage apathy or inactivity, but instead to reprioritize our lives based on our desires, rather than the duty-filled expectations of the activist world. People generally agreed that the most meaningful actions they take stem from their own passions, and not some guilt-laden program. By rejecting moralistic and sacrificial tendencies for those of direct immediacy and to some extent, self-interest, we not only feel more connected and a part of our activity, but ultimately are able to stay healthier and consistent, and have a better chance of achieving our short and long-term goals.
The other major agenda on my schedule (and the most entertaining) was to intervene (respectfully, when possible and desirable) in certain workshops and to undermine the forming of hierarchical power-dynamics (formal and informal) which tend to dominate these types of events. This is something that I would encourage every anarchist to do whenever they are integrated into groups that are not specifically antiauthoritarian…
One area in which you can see absolutely no distinction between this gathering and any other liberal/leftist/quasi-anarchist conference is the way the activists-types (who can be a very vocal minority) deal with privilege and oppression politics (the politicizing of racism, sexism, homophobia, etc.). Without getting into a long and complicated polemic here, I’ll just say that while I appreciate willingness to take these systemic and interpersonal forms of domination more seriously, I often find that their efforts are often undermined by a short-sighted approach. For instance, during a discussion on racism (which had some positive attributes), there was a tone of self-righteousness and judgement of those who did not attend this particular workshop (which was unwisely scheduled on the multikeg final party day). People who chose not to come, or those who vocalized a lack of desire to sit through yet another guilt-driven Racism 101 workshop led by pompous white kids, were said to be “unwilling to deal with their shit” or “not taking racism seriously”. But, unless the attitudes of pretentious anti-racist facilitators change, and until we can get past the simplistic and programmatic college textbook privilege discussion, we will continually be spinning our wheels, with only head-nodders and those in earshot looking to score points. Getting beyond the unsophisticated “racism is bad” elementary workshops, the paternalistic “how do we help the poor minorities”, or the predictable “get them onboard” opportunism, is the first step to seriously tackling racism (or any form of oppression oversimplified and adopted by the Identity Politics co’s*).
While the “How Do We Become Better Activists?” workshops and “Non-Authoritarian Leadership” discussions led by the “leaders” of the gathering (i.e. the organizers) were also an anticipated source of amusement, which warranted and received their due critiques and ruffling of feathers, one of my favorite joys of a Rendezvous is getting the chance to undermine the EF! monarchy and its charismatic grasp for attention. There is one guy in particular who is a case study for the quintessential egotistical activist leadership, but I won’t name names (mostly because he considers any publicity, good publicity). Anarchists in Eugene and forest activists throughout the northwest could write a book on his chameleon-like history of bouncing into the leadership role of campaigns, jumping in front of the camera, and switching political identities to match his target audience. Unfortunately, this year he was on a tight schedule, and was only able to stick around for a few days before being transported out to his next gig. However, in those few days we were graced with his presence, he truly touched us. Among his workshops were “Reclaiming Jesus”, a manipulative ploy to utilize mainstream Christian’s brainwashed faith for “our benefit”. He’s been studying Jesus lately, and thinks that “the son of God” had a lot of positive things to say that we could learn from and apply to our struggle (things like morality, justice, leadership, etc), and I’m sure this activist would love to see himself in a neoMessiah role. He also facilitated a discussion called “Apocalypse Not”, which was basically a rationalization to keep chugging along at ineffective activism, since the end (crisis, collapse, etc) was not for certain. Perhaps most telling of his political aspirations was when the media mysteriously appeared (I wonder who called them?), and the person who was going to speak to them was not there (probably signed up by someone for a security shift or to dig a shitter at that time), and guess who just happened to be there to fill in? You got it. But, perhaps most pathetic was the fact that as the reporter walked up to him, he grabbed the only baby at the gathering for a nice cuddly photo-op. No shit.
In general, the gathering was a good place to have tactical and strategic discussions, yet they often got limited by people’s comfort zones and feel-good politics. EF! is riddled with shortcomings, but this year a major disappointment for me was the trend towards a couple major campaigns, which suck everyone to them (often by tugging on people’s emotions). Currently they are the Biscuit Campaign, a crusade to stop salvage logging in the Kalmiopsis Wilderness area in southern Oregon, and Mountain Justice Summer, an attempt to stop mountain top removal (for coal) in southern Appalachia. These two campaigns seem to have very similar approaches in attempting to form “broadbased coalitions” ofradical environmentalists, liberals, local residents (despite many biblethumping tendencies), and the loggers or miners who are doing the dirty work. While this may sound good on paper, it has been tried hundreds of times with virtually the same outcome: complete failure. While these superficial coalitions are created amongst people with entirely different agendas, forests fall. While they are arguing over tactics and denouncing those who exert their autonomy, mountains get leveled. While people focus on the media to increase their numbers, the earth gets destroyed around them. And while people compromise themselves, liberation is lost. Those who spearhead these campaigns remove people from the fights in their own bioregions and their own lives, often sacrificing them to the state for their symbolic protests while playing out their delusional civil rights-era fantasies or feeding their egos.
The activities at the Rendezvous are a mixed bag. While it is unfortunately a recruitment center for activists (booo!), it can also be a place to have critical discussions. Some other workshops which went on during the week included: tree-climbing, making barricades, EF! history, map reading, monitoring timber sales, kissing, various campaign report-backs, primitive skills, axe-throwing, plant walks, and more. Of course, the week also had its fair share of games, poetry (good and bad), and tired-old campfire songs (during which I was lucky enough to be so inebriated that I could be nothing but belligerent). In the end, I felt good about the experience, if only to get away from the concrete and this damn computer for a week, and give my liver a workout. While I have little hope for this, or any, “movement”, and ultimately, the crowd I spent the most time with would feel more at home at the Feral Visions Gathering (See page #73 for a report back from this year’s gathering), I feel ok about maintaining a tangential connection to this scene and many still connected to it.
To quote a T-shirt from the 2003 Earth First! Round River Rendezvous (which pissed off the pacifists in the crowd and sums up my particular slant on things):
Earth First! Up Against the Wall Muthafucka!
On the Continuing Poverty of Student Life
“Fourier long ago exposed this methodical myopia of treating fundamental questions without relating them to society as a whole.” –The Situationist International Anthology
Once upon a time, there was a notion that universities were places of learning. The pursuit of academic excellence and disinterested inquiry were the watchwords in this story. If we ever believed this lie, today it is laid bare. One would hope that not even the most optimistic undergraduate could or would want to lull themselves to the tune of this second-rate fairy tale.
The myth of student life has merely adapted to the rationale of the prevailing times. Recast to match the ironic and detached 1990s and its monotonous millennial continuation, the real freedoms won in the past by students through refusal and creative struggle are neutered around the twin poles of cynical boredom and rosy-eyed nostalgia. Student life is but another role we are expected to adopt. And like most roles, despite the veneer of freedom this particular one has, its only purpose is to restrict rather than expand the possible arrangements of human life.
Once past the pseudofestival that is O-Week you will begin to discover the joys of academic specialization. “What’s your major?” echoes between the coffee shop walls. The academic specialization of campus is only a continuance in the realm of ideas of the infinitely accumulating specializations in society generally; a jumble of disciplines and knowledge spewed out at us in those cleverly disguised prisons known as school and college. At university, as elsewhere, isolation is the key: isolation of ‘facts’, or abstract ‘critique’ that makes a mockery of the term. Meanwhile the only serious endeavor (though far from merely serious), that is the active critique of social life, is treated contemptuously as either too difficult or more usually, as useless and outdated.
What is most alarming, though hardly unexpected, is the changing role of the university within society. Once draped in the ambience of a cloistered, almost detached body, the university now embraces its role as a central institution in the maintenance of capitalism. Vice chancellors seem compelled to fit the word ‘excellence’ into as many of the bland advertisements of campus-life as possible. The truth, far from being buried, is celebrated in the light of day: Industry dictates courses and user-pays.
The development of the university from spectral wraith into the cornerstone of the education industry is justified as in the interest of a competitive economy. This is the sigh of desperation as capitalism staggers past the millennium. As we watch the unfolding of yet another global financial ‘crisis’, the continuing privatization and ham-fisted butcher mentality of economic rationalism, a deep nausea sets in as the response of our self-styled ‘rulers’ is to accelerate and dish up more of the same. It is an obvious point to see that a nakedly Industry driven education system will be even less able to generate a critique of this very system. The University becomes one more commodity floating alongside all the other turds as we drown in the filth of capitalism.
At university a monotony of details are used to obscure the reality of our society. Everything is said so that the truth is lost against a background of incessant chatter: that this society is the society of the spectacle, a spectacle of the production, use and accumulation of commodities, where passive consumption reigns over and diverts the possibility of an active and creative engagement with our lives. We end up being passive sponges wiped over the scum of education. Any decisions that we are called upon to make are inconsequential in the sense that they are only a variation upon a common theme. Just as in the home, factory, supermarket or office we are reduced to choosing the wrapping paper on our exploitation and oppression, brand X or brand Y.
Student life tends toward a continuation of an initiation that has accelerated since birth, an initiation into the general impassivity in the face of a seemingly immovable and confusing social order. This detached trance that is called life is no life... barely alive. If we listen, the alarm bells are quaking within our very being.
Perhaps the most pernicious tool that keeps the cracks in reality hidden from our distracted view is the enforced material poverty most students experience. Whether you scrape along on loans, or are dominated by a job outside of your life at college, the result is that — except for a loud and boorish minority - the majority of students take their position amongst the ranks of the working poor. Though there can be much grumbling, most accept this as a consequence of being a student. An obvious result of this is to make student life little more than a protracted infancy, with institutions to clasp onto as the ability to question the fundamentals of the enclosing world drain away. This dependant relationship is generally recognized and thus the student is universally despised. However, student bashing is everyone’s guilty conscience. If not as impoverished, everyone still endures a similar social servitude.
The requirements of contemporary capitalism determine that most students will become mere lower functionaries for the state and business. Faced with the evident poverty of this imminent ‘compensation’ for their shameful present poverty, the student prefers to turn toward their present and decorate it with illusory glamour.
Perhaps the most laughable aspect of student life is a kind of diffused ‘Bohemianism’, celebrated with all the desperate finesse of a passing fad. It operates as an opiate as the student parades a lifestyle, which is both ignorant and myopic. Essential is the consumption of cultural commodities, theatre, films, bands, books, whatever, as a comforting reassurance that student life is worthwhile. But this culture we partake in is surely dead. Unless people can unleash their creativity on the world, they are reduced to watching a spectacle of life, a meaningless ménage of imagery and dreams of the past. Culture turns the student into the ideal consumer, an animated corpse capable of choosing cultural commodities with recourse to their wealth of fragmentary knowledge. Incapable of deciding to live for themselves, incapable of putting ideas to work, students are reduced to the state of erudite battery hens that can only gaze fondly at books.
Students dwell within the margins of the youth culture, one taken daily to new heights of impassivity with the ubiquitous marketing of recycled punk, literary t-shirts, bleached hair, body piercing, retro fashion and all the other paraphernalia of ritualized student and ‘alternative’ life. The explosion of youth as a category after the Second World War lead to the astute development of youth oriented marketing, not however without the contradiction that rebellion still shines through the glossy appeals to conform. The revolutionary potential of youth has been recognized in the predominate role that young people have played in radical politics over the last two centuries. Capitalism’s diversion and repackaging of a rebellious attitude is only the most obvious of its attempts to not only accommodate refusal, but to use it to try and recoup and divert the very real dissatisfaction that bubbles to the surface in the transition to a more ‘orderly’ adult existence. The rebellion of youth can be far more than just a choice of which sub-group you wish to adhere and identify with, it can be a total challenge to the way we live. At which point the question is not why are the youth rebellious, but why are adults resigned?
The initiation rite of student life over, its time to move into the ‘real’ world, the ‘independence’ of life as a worker, yet another role masking the general reality of exploitation, oppression and passivity. In the face of a university that is more concerned with the production of graduates trained in the imbecility’s of narrow specialization, the independence and intellectual freedom on which the student prides him or herself is a sham. In fact, a university education is the best inoculation against critical thought, undermining the potential for rebellion and a truly independent mode of inquiry. Revolutionary thought in the most important sense is thus well beyond any of the hideous intellectual shoals of the campus.
Today universities have neither the prestige nor dynamism they had in the middle ages, or even the nineteenth century. Their role has changed dramatically; from a rarefied aloof past into the very heart of vampiric modern economic development. Industry-driven universities, lapping up the paltry spoils of privatization and user-pays, are but another sign of a degrading social malaise. Professors, once the ferocious ideological guard dogs defending the social order, are now the sheep dogs rounding up the lambs for whitecollar jobs. In this system, culture is a useless excrescence of the profit motive.
In passing we should add that between the cracks of apparent student conformity there do exist some students that have understood the system, because they despise it for what it is and know themselves to be its enemies. There is no shame or secret in using the ‘academic system’ for its own destruction: as surely as ‘education’ is openly cast as the best and perhaps only way to corral a growing awareness of a universal social sickness known as modern civilization.
The student is a product of modern society just like Nike and the Internet. Our extreme alienation can be contested only through a contestation of the entire society. This critique can in no way be carried out on just the student terrain. Everywhere where modern society is beginning to be contested – whether in Seattle, Prague or S11 in Melbourne – young people are taking part in this contestation; and the revolt represents the most direct and thorough critique of student behavior.
Ideas must become dangerous again.
Keep ‘em comin’! The juicier the better, but try to keep them under 500 words.
Frequent Trips to Webster’s
I had to write and let you know that I received my first issue of Green Anarchy. I could hardly believe that it made it through the scrutiny of the Gestapo in the mailroom delivered to me with the seals intact. These swine like to censor and reject most anything that does not promote baby Hey-zuse and the thin air mystery. Reading your mag is the most enjoyment I’ve had in awhile, even if I have to make frequent trips to my Third Edition of Webster’s II New College Dictionary 2005. I have to tell you what I’ve read so far apeals to my instincts. I am very greatful that you are able to send me your mag at no cost. At this point in my life. Being held hostage by the diabolical mechanism some call the state washington. I am unable to contribute to the cause. I appreciate the efforts of everyone to get this to my hands.
Resistance, Love, & Respect
Pissed Off In PA!
Dearest Green Anarchy,
“I myself have never been able to find out what feminism is: I only know that people call me a feminist whenever I express sentiments that differentiate me from a doormat.”
–Rebecca West, The Clarion 1913
One thing I’ve been contemplating a lot lately is my vagina’s influence on my life. Like race, gender is a master status, the most recognizable and socially important aspect of my existence. It defines who I am and how people react to me more than my class, it colors every social interaction I have with other human beings, male or female.
Recently I have become entirely fed up with sexism in the male dominated green anarchist movement and want to speak directly to the men about this.
Now, this is personal. Mr. Green Anarchist, think long and hard (pun intended) before you sexually proposition your sisters in the movement. If you must, go ahead and put sex on the table but finish this (dis)course quickly if you are rebuffed and don’t be aggressive.
We women go through our lives being constantly reminded that we are sex objects. I, for one, had naïve hopes that this would not be an issue in my associations with men in the movement, but alas, this has just not been the case. Every time a guy in the movement comes on to me I am crestfallen. And I am astonished and insulted by how often my rejection of a male anarchist has prompted him to initiate a conversation about how I must be “sexually repressed” – the truth is I am no sexual prude, I have sex often and enthusiastically. I am an openly polyamorous anarchist but just because I believe in free love doesn’t mean I want to fuck you and not wanting to fuck you does not make me sexually repressed!
Check your ego and accept a woman’s decision, let her know that having sex with you is not a prerequisite for your friendship. I have seen grown men in the movement turn into petulant assholes once they have understood that my relationship with them is not going to include sex. It completely changes their attitude toward me. I am no longer valuable as a comrade and I am made to feel like I am withholding something from them that they want and somehow feel entitled to! This attitude is just so disheartening and it really, really pisses me off. Anarchist men should know better.
The strange thing is, I bet most men reading this now are thinking, “Why should women feel insulted rather than flattered.” I wish I would get propositioned by all of the anarchist women I meet!” Well, what’s up with that!? It IS different because you are a man. Don’t you see that your desire to put me in the prone position is about powerover, which men have in our society, women do not, and we are all supposed to be resisting?
Another thing – I wish there were more women contributing to the pages of Green Anarchy. We need to think about why there are not. The canon is so male dominated, the central texts all written by men (Perlman, Zerzan, Black, Moore, Tucker, Connor) and the editorial collectives of most of the GA zines today are also male. What’s going on here? Try to name a woman who is contributing to this discourse? Should we care? Is there a place for feminist theory and practice in the anti-civ movement?
I’d like to encourage my sisters out there to say something, anything about this state of affairs and their experiences as women in the movement.
Yours truly hoping to start a dialogue,
Pissed off in PA
Rita-Katrina Andrews Responds: I’m no Mr. but I’m responding anyway. The assumption (which I have heard repeatedly about my anonymous writing) that our contributors are predominantly men is odd. First, how can you – or we – discern gender when most writers use pseudonyms? Second, if we are questioning the whole construct of gender, does their gender matter if one is not attached to ‘equality’ or other ridiculous measurement? As to the rest of the letter: thanks for the inspiration! (See page 18).
Ceremony is Not Synonymous with Mediation
I don’t often get roused enough by articles in this magazine to force myself to my computer to type out a response, but the article “Direct Experience as Spirituality: Meditation on Mediation,” [Summer 2005/Issue #20] contained so many important points of spiritual discussion and interest that I had to get typing.
I hope that my arguments turn out to be clarifications of the said article’s meaning rather than criticisms of it – it all depends upon the meaning the author intended to connect to his/her words. Language is a tricky business. For me, the central thesis of the article was that, “Attempting to find significant or ultimate meaning detached from the physical is at the core of our dysfunctional society…,” and I agree fully that the detached spirituality of modern religions are to blame for a host of social dysfunctions in areas dominated by one or another civilization.
What I take issue with are some comparisons that the author makes, which in my opinion are completely false analogies. I will take two of the most glaring ones to task: comparing shaman to priest, and comparing ceremony to religion. Neither of these two analogies has any basis in reality and in my opinion is insulting to a host of different indigenous cultures who had wonderfully connected and un-mediated ceremonies which affirmed and embodied their connection to the earth and cycle of life. The purpose of the “shaman” was not to “monopolize the link to the other,” the purpose of the shaman was to act as a guide for collective spiritual experience. Two examples of this among many are the ceremonies of the O’odham and Lakota. Their ceremonies (or rituals depending on your definition) are not functions of hierarchy or mediation – they are the exact opposite.
The notion that any form of ceremonial prayer, ritual, sacrifice, homage, etc., is inherently hierarchical and alienating, or that such things start human cultures on a slippery slope towards such things is a false understanding. In fact, such a notion is likely the result of projecting upon indigenous earth based cultures a civilized understanding of spirituality – one that was likely formed in reaction to the death culture perpetrated by the Judeo-Christian racket.
Another point that I have to engage with is the idea that viewing the earth as sacred is somehow in conflict with anarchistic principals. Viewing the earth and all life as sacred is exactly what civilization does not do and is exactly what eco/green anarchists should be doing. Again, I know that this argument may boil down to nothing more that definitions of what “sacred” is but in the case that it does not, I feel a need to state what I see as obvious. As a life form among many life forms all residing in a global life form known as the planet earth, the most profound connection we can make is to view this cycle of life as sacred. Doing otherwise only plays into the hands of our, and the cycle of life’s, enemies.
For an end to the death culture and the Judeo-Christian fascists who perpetuate this civilization.
Mia X. Kursions Replies: I appreciate your concern over aspects of my article, but I don’t necessarily understand the problems at hand to be merely matters of semantics. In comparing shaman to priests, the endeavor wasn’t to say that they are equal (or the same thing), but that they perform similar functions in society, that of spiritual mediators. Something I believe to be unnecessary and undesirable. Obviously, there is a gradation or continuum of negative influence. The “spirituality” of an institutionalized, monotheistic, earth-destroying, life-controlling Judeo-Christian culture will play out much differently than one which is more attuned to the earth and based on natural dynamics. So, of course, a shaman in the latter may have a qualitatively less harmful (and even possibly positive functions; i.e. medicinal healers) role in a society then that of a priest. But we must avoid idealizing any form of social structure or role of specialization (and all the downsides of such), especially when concerning our own unique relationship with the world – spirituality.
In addition, to write off my critique of ceremony and ritual as a projection of a civilized mindset is a cheap and extraneous argument. My personal experience, feelings, and analysis are that ritual typically stagnates, makes rigid, and institutionalizes spirituality, even on a tribal level. This is not to say that experimenting with ceremony (especially in a spontaneous way) cannot contain valuable elements, or that various indigenous peoples haven’t had “positive” and “connected” experiences doing so. But, entering into it with critical awareness of the dynamic of mediation, I believe, is essential to limiting its trappings.
As for the discussion on “sacredness”, which was only briefly touched on in my article, and which is not completely represented by Hendricks in his letter, it is worth noting that the very concept is a Judeo-Christian reification, one that exemplifies separation, rather than connection. The article wasn’t attempting to provide another path of spiritual expression, but instead, its intent was to challenge preexisting notions of the subject, and offer ideas based on more direct and unmediated experience.
German Marxists Early Primitivists?
Can’t say that I normally write letters to anarchist magazines, but one of the lines in John Zerzan’s “Any World (That I’m Welcome to): JZ in Transit” (GA #20) was really too much. He says that “The Left in Germany managed for a long time to actively suppress the questioning of mass society (aka modernity, technoculture, etc.) and civilization…”
Of course, nothing can be further from the truth and Zerzan himself knows this quite well. His own critique of mass society, progress, civilization and technology is hugely indebted to German Marxists such as Theodor Adorno, Walter Benjamin, Max Horkheimer and Herbert Marcuse: the so-called “Frankfurt School.” Even a quick glance through Zerzan’s work will reveal dozens and dozens of references to these four German Leftists – and this doesn’t even include predecessors such as Ernst Bloch, who was writing critically about technology as early as the 1930s.
How Zerzan can claim that the people who wrote lines like “There is no document of civilization which is not at the same time a document of barbarism” (Benjamin) or “No universal history leads from savagery to humanitarianism, but there is one leading from the slingshot to the megaton bomb” (Adorno) are involved in suppressing questions about modernity and civilization is beyond me. In fact, as I understand the intellectual development of primitivism, these German Marxists forged the first steps toward it.
JZ Replies: A funny thing seems to be happening. It’s almost as if the marxists (living and dead) were primitivists all along! But maybe I didn’t make myself clear. I was referring to contemporary Germany in terms of the suppression of anti-civilization ideas. If you think this hasn’t been happening, ask the Die Eule folks, who were ceaselessly attacked and, in effect, hounded out of existence in the ‘90s by the Left. I was in Frankfurt and Berlin in January 2005 in conjunction with the unveiling of Lutz Dammbeck’s implicitly anti-tech film, Das Netz. It was leftists at the screening who were howling against a critical discussion of technology.
I have certainly learned a lot from the likes ofAdorno, Benjamin, Horkheimer. You are correct in saying that they raised important questions about mass society––and to a much lesserdegree, civilization. Ultimately, they did not want to oppose or end mass society and civilization, as my work repeatedly points out.
In Defense Of Slingshot
You make me laugh..hehehe.. Do you even know how many people don’t even like you? Do you even know how many people say that you guys are a bunch of hippies from Eugene? Do you even know how many people that I know like Slingshot and not you? Do you even know that you make coments and talk shit without even knowing what the fuck you’re talking about? You all dissapoint me so much. I’d read your paper sometimes...you break my heart w all your competition bullshit.. you said Slingshot doesn’t help one’s revolutionary’s moral or fighting spirit...Do you?
Do you help at all w all your competition bullshit? You say in your article that we’re a bunch of white-skinned people growing dreadlocks and riding bikes...well fuck you ‘cuz you don’t even know us.. And so goes on... I just got in a shock when my friend told me..”I like you and I still read what you write for slingshot even if GA doesn’t”...so I read your article and I got mad.. a bunch of children.. You wanna see evolution in people’s minds through competition..how anarchist is that?…
I mean..How do you really wanna change the world if you’re promoting hate between your friends? I don’t get it. We don’t talk shit about you. And what’s wrong w what we write? Are we too honest? or Do we just let people be free and write as much as they want about how fucked up the system is? Or..ohh..maybe we don’t talk about Feral Visions and how lame that gathering was..oh yeahhh..that was fun! “Let me see who’s sexier at feral Visions...ups.. “I forgot the toilet paper”...That’s all I saw at feral Visions.. even the mostt feral person had a cellphone...fuck a bunch of that.. here..goodluck..maybe next time you could let MJS post an article on your paper since we try to save the mountains...What about you?
GA: Wow! You seem so articulate and intelligent. How could we get you to write for us? You are wasting your obvious brilliance on a rag like Slingshot.
Message In a Bottle
Thank’s for the recent issue (#20) of GA. Much appreciated. Must say, I was somewhat surprised that you would send your publication to me, considering the abrasive letter I sent awhile back. I appreciate that you took my cynicism, and candor, with no judgement call(s).
I have been a prisoner of the STATE(s) for the past thirty-one years. Even served a bit in Salem. I have this “thing” about blind authority. When I came across your mag, for the first time, through another convict, also somewhat “anti civilization” oriented, I have to be candid, I figured it for just another ragpabum. Like a hard-core Mother Jones, or Mother Earth. This issue I have read, am still, from first to last page. My finances aren’t what you’d call great, but I’ll be able to kick in a few bucks, help pay for postage at least as soon as I get paid. Next week.
I’m slaving in the Clinton prison garment factory sewing T-shirts. THOUSANDS of the fuckers, for forty-five cents per hr. Up till recently I sent most of what I made, (about twenty a week) home to help my Ma pay for her meds-n-such. They gave me a death-bed visit, cost me eighteen-hundred, but at least I got to kiss her good-by before she shuffled off this mortal coil.
She worked forty friggin years for the same factory, hardly missed a damned day, then when she retired because of her health, the Feds took just about every fuckin dime of her retirement funds, some shit about taxes…No,…I ain’t got a lot-a-love for a civilization that feeds off, sucks the life from and drains away what spirit remains until some minimum wage system-drone empties the bed-pan from beneath the lingering bio-mass that once had been a good hearted human.
Yea, I’m a cynic. Once worked death row in Florida State prison for a couple years. Used to set and chat with folks like Bundy, Long, Sheppard, you know the type, ones born without anything inside. Look into their eyes and see eternity…I see the same bottomless fuckin pit when I look into the eye-sockets of these drone-shit-eaters who stumble past this cage I’m in ever day to count the name-less, numbered bodies.
Yea, I’m a fuckin radical, always have been, but time’s dead on my ass, that candle I burned at both ends, Tenneson, wasn’t it?…well, there ain’t much of it left.
I’m figuring maybe a few years left. I’m cellin around guys who’ve been existing in these cages, some for thirty-five, forty years. The real walkin-dead.
Talked with one last week while in the yard. He told a couple of others how he planned on checking out. I listened to his plan with a jaundiced ear, that is, till he went through with it. Seems he wanted company. No big pre-amble, no wild, last Hurrah…he just stepped out of line, snatched a pencil from his pocket, and stuck a shit-eater in the throat. They beat him down. As they dragged what was left of a man down the cement steps, his skull making dull thumpity-thumps on the stone, I actually saw a grin on his dead face. Now THAT’s what I call an anarchist.
Yea, I know, there’s them in Chili, and South America, and all through the Middle East, Central America, and where what all else who’re strung up in bamboo cages, in cold cement room-sized coffins, and those who fight to their last to defend what tiny piece of ground they scrabbled out a life on, dieing to defend it to the last breath, but somehow, they ain’t real…I mean they’re REAL, but…they ain’t breaking the quiet of a long night on a cell block passin stomach gas, or shuffling in an endless line, two, by two to a pointless, fruitless work assignment beside me.
There’s a line in a flic I recently saw, Blade Runner, I think it was…this robot has this guy on a roof top in the rain, he’s diein, this robot…and he tells this shit eater fuckin cop that; “it’s all just teardrops in the rain.” I know what he meant. That’s all we become eventually, just a quiet puff of air as what once was a life expires into the nether.
Don’t think I’m snivilin, or griping, you’d have it wrong if so…no, I just wanted to stuff this in a bottle and toss it into the sea of nothingness. There’s this tatoo I always liked. You might of seen it? In the background there’s this screaming eagle, hawk, whatever…it’s wings are spread wide, talons so sharp they glint, it’s beak open wide in a scream…in the foreground, his back to you, stands this small mouse. He’s all fucked up, ratty, busted tail, natted fur, cut, twisted back…but his right paws extended high above its head, his heads tipped back watching what’s gunna be his death commin at him. His broken-twisted paw held high, and his middle finger sticks straight up in a last, “FUCK YOU.”
The caption beneath reads; “The Last Act Of Defiance.”
Like that seventy-one year old con who stuck that shit eater with a pencil…THAT’s what I thought of as I faced the wall with twenty others, feet spread, hands pressed against it above my head.
I’m thinkin…that ain’t a bad way to go.
I had a shit eater bark at me the other day over some bullshit. I told him as I walked off…”Ya know? Ya don’t even see the kindness around you.”
“What the fuck are you jabberin about?” he barked.
“Man, it’s these guys you treat like shit that let you go home alive.”
I’m figurin that nobody’ll ever read this past a couple lines, but ya know, it don’t matter cuz it’s all just teardrops anyway.
Stephen M. Waite Sr. # 95-B-2305 A-6-23
P.O. Box 2001
Dannemora, NY 12929-2001
Blatant White Supremacy?
Peace & Greetings. Re your Summer Issue (#20):
You made certain comment (“the previous issue,” page three) about receiving responses to your Spring Issue (#19) having to do with Native issues, specifically that you received “some complaints, most notably from a couple of native folks” about your presentation or portrayal of the Native resistance in this land in your magazine. You stated that you did not give credit or exposure to the expressed perspective of these “native folks” you heard from because of “running disputes, factions, and political mud-slinging in AIM, and other native movements… Green Anarchy doesn’t seem to be an appropriate place to discuss these conflicts… it is not our place to flesh them out.”
Green Anarchy took it upon itself to present Native issues and invite comment, then censored us. Is it only when the white anarchists among you, and other white movements, want to dispute or debate that it will be presented in the pages of Green Anarchy? This is blatant white supremacy, whether you realize it or not. In your magazine white anarchists are forever presenting disputes, conflicting angles on everything, including what is anarchy, openly criticizing individuals. But when Natives make a presentation of principled analysis and self-critique in the crystallization and furtherance of our resistance, it gets trashed as factional mud-slinging, and suddenly “Green Anarchy doesn’t seem to be the appropriate place to discuss these conflicts.” To consider or portray our debates in such a negative manner that you have (“running disputes, factions, mudslinging” and as merely a “complaint”) yet present white and other debate as progressive is to demean us. Such open forms of arrogance and conscious or subconscious white racism is quite common in the green/anarchy camp. To clarify, we do not consider your spirit of criticism/self-criticism as infantile factionalism or mud-slinging. To us, its discussing and exchanging, different thought, dialogue that is needed to clarify issues and determine what is what, to make progress or just to get understanding, something people can learn from and that will inspire contemplation, thinking out the issues and arriving at conclusions. This is not to do with Green Anarchy but with the Native Resistance, and if you are not going to present the Native Resistance as it is but rather according to your personal or collective bias, then you are not accurately portraying our resistance but merely “playing Indian,” projecting a false reality of the Native people of this land.
We will not belabor this except to point out that your reportage misrepresented us as “a couple of native folks.” We are a resistance movement, as we signed our correspondence to you. We are not AIM or AIM-affiliated.
In addition, we ask that you print our previous correspondence and this letter, and let the sharpnel fall where it may.
Michael Contreraz C-45857 Bx 5242
Corcoran, CA 93212-5242
The Kupa Resistance
*We would also like to present a formal statement about the Kupa Resistant that we feel your readers could benefit from and which elucidates the overall situation of the Native people on this land in terms of occupation and colonialism.
GA Response: To start, censorship is a notion where one gives authority to another (much like the concept of rights). We offer up huge portions of this magazine to a wide variety of people and can only print a fraction of what we receive. And yes, ultimately we decide what goes in based on our priorities and perspectives on what we feel will offer the best chance for healthy dialogue on a wide assortment of anti-civilization and anarchist discussions. Sorry if you disagree with our decisions, but as editors, they are ours to make. We collectively chose not to print your previous letter and an additional one, not to silence debate, but because we felt it would open a huge can of worms which is already (maybe rightfully so) consuming numerous websites and magazines; something we were not interested in for this particular project. We were quite open about this in the introduction to our last issue, and were not attempting to hide anything. We were not yearning to make light of the serious situation (as one can read for themselves), it simply did not seem the appropriate place. Issue #19’s theme was “Indigenous Resistance to Civilization”, not “Indigenous Conflicts”. They are important, but a little off topic for this anarchist journal. Calling this “white supremacy” is an easy way to bully a perspective. That may work on liberals and leftists, but not us. If we had printed your original letter, others, no doubt, would have also charged us with “racism”. So we chose not to go there. Maybe this was a poor decision, and maybe we could have explained this better, perhaps offering other resources or contacts where the discussion around the “questionable” characters of John Trudell, Russel Means, and Ward Churchill (the people in dispute) are taking place.
As far as not recognizing your letter as coming from a “resistance movement” as you signed your correspondence with us, we do not recognize representation of movements, only ideas coming from people presenting their opinions. We welcome all written contributions and invite your presentation of the Kupa Resistance and any other topics for future issues.
Dear Sisters and Brothers:
The wet man is not afraid of the rain.
I’m happy to report that I did get Issue #19, Spring 2005 w/o any problem. It is possible, since I’ve shown my willingness to litigate over the denial of anarchist reading materials, that the administration here just caved. At least, that was the impression I got when I met with an asst. deputy warden on the matter.
And, yes, another great issue! I dug the indigenous theme, particularly, as I’m part, albeit a small part, Cherokee. There are quite a few native americans inside, and they say GA sure beats the hell out of reading Indian Country. The interview with Ward Churchill was timely, as we are circulating petitions in his support, demanding that U of Colorado Chancellor Phil DiStefano resign for conducting the witch-hunt against Ward.
John Zerzan’s article “Too Marvelous for Words” hit home with me, and I’ve enclosed a poem I wrote awhile back on the subject, “s-p-e-l-l”, which John may find of interest, or even your readers. I, also, enclosed another one, entitled, “see?”. You can publish or disseminate either in any manner you see fit, using my name or pseudonym, R7, or use them to start a fire. Just know, I’m not afraid of being identified, and as I informed Fifth Estate, if you don’t use my aka then I’d as soon have my whole name and address published. Hey, I’m already wet, 25 to 50 years worth and I got little to lose.
Saura Agni’s “Operation Civilization: The War That is All Wars – Chapter 2”, was an interesting piece in a ‘zine filled with great stuff. Saura had me at the first line and I well remember how as children in a fairly upper middle class neighborhood, Grosse Pte Woods, Michigan, we hated and feared the police whether we were up to something or not, because we instinctively knew that they were no good. Subsequently, everything that has transpired in my life has affirmed our original childhood assessment. Go figure.
Thank you, thank you for sending me GA. The best ‘zine I’ve read in years. I wax so ecstatic because, over the course of 50 years I generally find myself against everything, I’m astounded that I seem to be in complete agreement with any ‘zine in its entirety, issue after issue. I felt that way about FE once upon a time. Please keep ‘em comin’ if you can. That’s all I got for now. Gotta run and hand off this issue to the next in line. I’m gone …
Peace out, war in,
Rand W. Gould
words spell our blood
words spell our tears
as all our fears
words spell and yell
right in your face
words spell to tell
out all our fate
words you speak
but destroy things too
beware the words
of a spoken flood
stay and watch
as they turn to mud
beware the spell
don’t speak, hell
don’t dare to breathe
Ya Got My Goat
I don’t doubt the sincerity of GA’s ardent anti-industrial primitivism – a kind of utopianism itself despite a recent GA article decrying utopianism as a kind of futile progressivism. Neither do I doubt the sincerity of its anti-leftism and anti-marxism despite the reality that GA has to increasingly dredge up its anti-marxist diatribes from the ‘80s and earlier because real socialism and communism is becoming extinct everywhere except in the theoretical new minds of leftist critics and academics who cheer the demise of old models, expecting the evolution of a kindly, humanistic socialism that will never happen so long as free market capitalism (read, primarily, U.S. imperialism) multiplies in power.
Sincerely, GA applauds the fall of the former commie giants, seeing no diff between socialist industry and the myriad, pointless duplications and wastage of the free-market variety. GA applauds and the U.S. empire applauds its applause and moral support, even as the giant extends its many localized electronic arms into individual brains, that the collectivized new “free market” may expand. (Let the empire applaud – primitivism will triumph eventually? Nyet.)
Yeah, so what’s the diff? Industrialism is industrialism, right? Even red anarchy – even pinko anarchism – has a tough time breathing in the quasi-McCarthyite GA.
What gets my goat definitively is the article on the Hmong tribalist conclave of SE Asia. Indigenous, the Hmong were, and may yet be to an extent but innocent they ceased being years ago when they began collaborating with French colonialists, as your article tells, and finally began their collusion with the CIA and hence the mass murder by the U.S. of more than 2 million SE Asian natives. Of course, the indigenous, primitivist status of the Vietnamese villagers who were slaughtered by U.S. forces wasn’t quite pure by GA standards, the villagers having taken up cultivation of crops and livestock management. Be it noted, however, that at least two studies of biological/chemical warfare (by McDermott, and Cole) maintain that “yellow rain”, so-called, was a myth (+ is), a propaganda tool. Whatever the truth about that, we know that agent orange, napalm, and other of the many bio/chem weapons used by the U.S. against SE Asians were all too real. So was the CIA relocation of selected Hmong in the U.S. GA considers the Hmong still a tribe by definition, no doubt. To my mind they are more fittingly called a mercenary gang now, nearly analogous to the fascist Central American contras championed by the U.S. military machine during the Reaganite ‘80s.
I can think of someone else who no doubt applauds the so-called “Network For Asian Liberation” plugged by your Hmong author. That would be that old fraud the Dalai Lama, who was also escorted out of Asia by a CIA operative, and who later distinguished himself in ‘Nam by mailing the severed ears of several dozen Viet Cong (or alleged Cong) to his superiors in D.C. as proof of his prowess in the field.
The Lama chief will no doubt continue his lecture tours if his health still permits, making the rounds of the Masonic halls talking up Freedom Dubya style, and GA will write on, on its new road to the old feuds of tribalism, continuing its commie-bashing on the way. The Lords of free-market expansion applaud all the more because they know not all reds are dead, even stateside, and not all are pacifist wimps pacified into silence. Some push back, as they say.
John A. Hickam
 I Eibl-Eibesfelt, “Aggression in the !Ko-Bushmen,” in Martin A. Nettleship, eds., War, its Causes and Correlates (The Hague: Mouton, 1975), p. 293.
 W. J. Perry, “The Golden Age,” in The Hibbert Journal XVI (1917), p. 44.
 Arthur Ferrill, The Origins of War from the Stone Age to Alexander the Great (New York: Thames and Hudson, 1985), p. 16.
 Paul Taçon and Christopher Chippindale, “Australia’s Ancient Warriors: Changing Depictions of Fighting in the Rock Art of Arnhem Land, N.T.,” Cambridge Archaeological Journal 4:2 (1994), p. 211.
 Maurice R. Davie, The Evolution of War: A Study of Its Role in Early Societies (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1929), p. 247.
 A.L. Kroeber, Handbook of the Indians of California: Bulletin 78 (Washington, D.C.: Bureau of American Ethnology, 1923), p. 152.
 Christopher Chase-Dunn and Kelly M. Man, The Wintu and their Neighbors (Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1998), p. 101.
 Harry Holbert Turney-High, Primitive War: Its Practice and Concepts (Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1949), p. 229.
 Lorna Marshall, “Kung! Bushman Bands,” in Ronald Cohen and John Middleton, eds., Comparative Political Systems (Garden City: Natural History Press, 1967), p. 17.
 George Bird Grinnell, “Coup and Scalp among the Plains Indians,” American Anthropologist 12 (1910), pp. 296-310. John Stands in Timber and Margot Liberty make the same point in their Cheyenne Memories (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1967), pp. 61-69. Also, Turney-High, op. cit., pp. 147, 186.
 Ronald R. Glassman, Democracy and Despotism in Primitive Societies, Volume One (Millwood, New York: Associated Faculty Press, 1986), p. 111.
 Emma Blake, “The Material Expression of Cult, Ritual, and Feasting,” in Emma Blake and A. Bernard Knapp, eds., The Archaeology of Mediterranean Prehistory (New York: Blackwell, 2005), p. 109.
 Bruce M. Knauft, “Culture and Cooperation in Human Evolution,” in Leslie Sponsel and Thomas Gregor, eds., The Anthropology of Peace and Nonviolence (Boulder: L. Rienner, 1994), p. 45.
 Roy A. Rappaport, Pigs for the Ancestors: Ritual in the Ecology of a New Guinea People (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1967), pp. 236-237.
 René Girard, Violence and the Sacred, translated by Patrick Gregory (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1977). Like Ardrey and Lorenz, Girard starts from the absurd view that all social life is steeped in violence.
 G. Lienhardt, Divinity and Experience: The Religion of the Dinka (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1961), p. 281.
 Elizabeth Arkush and Charles Stanish, “Interpreting Conflict in the Ancient Andes: Implications for the Archaeology of Warfare,” Current Anthropology 46:1 (February 2005), p. 16.
 Ibid., p. 14.
 James L. Haley, Apaches: A History and Culture Portrait (Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1981), pp. 95-96.
 Rappaport, op.cit, p. 234, for example.
 Quoted by Robert Kuhlken, “Warfare and Intensive Agriculture in Fiji,” in Chris Gosden and Jon Hather, eds., The Prehistory of Food: Appetites for Change (New York: Routledge, 1999), p. 271. Works such as Lawrence H. Keeley, War Before Civilization (New York: Oxford University Press, 1996) and Pierre Clastres, Archaeology of Violence (New York: Semiotext(e), 1994) somehow manage to overlook this point.
 Verrier Elwin, The Religion of an Indian Tribe (London: Oxford University Press, 19550, p. 300.
 Jonathan Z. Smith, “The Domestication of Sacrifice,” in Robert G. Hamerton-Kelly, ed., Violent Origins (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1987), pp. 197, 202.
 Christine A. Hastorf and Sissel Johannessen, “Becoming CornEaters in Prehistoric America,” in Johannessen and Hastorf, eds., Corn and Culture in the Prehistoric New World (Boulder: Westview Press, 1994), especially pp. 428-433.
 Charles Di Peso, The Upper Pima of San Cayetano de Tumacacori (Dragoon, AZ: Amerind Foundation, 1956), pp. 19, 104, 252, 260.
 Christy G. Turner II and Jacqueline A. Turner, Man Corn: Cannibalism and Violence in the Prehistoric American Southwest (Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 1999), pp. 3, 460, 484.
 A.L. Kroeber, Cultural and Natural Areas of Native North America (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1963), p. 224.
 Harold B. Barclay, The Role of the Horse in Man’s Culture (London: J.A. Allen, 1980), e.g. p. 23.
 Richard W. Howell, “War Without Conflict,” in Nettleship, op.cit., pp. 683-684.
 Betty J. Meggers, Amazonia: Man and Culture in Counterfeit Paradise (Chicago: Aldine Atherton, 1971), pp. 108, 158.
 Pierre Lemmonier, “Pigs as Ordinary Wealth,” in Pierre Lemonnier, ed., Technological Choices: Transformation in Material Cultures since the Neolithic (London: Routledge, 1993), p. 132.
 Knauft, op.cit., p. 50. Marvin Harris, Cannibals and Kings (New York: Random House, 1977), p. 39.
 Maurice Bloch, Prey into Hunter: The Politics of Religious Experience (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992), p. 88.
 The “rank-and-file” of organized labor is another product of these originals.
 Robert L. Carneiro, “War and Peace,” in S.P. Reyna and R.E. Downs, eds., Studying War: Anthropological Perspectives (Langhorn, PA: Gordon and Breach, 1994), p. 12.
 Cited and discussed in Marshall Sahlins, Stone Age Economics (Chicago: Aldine, 1972, pp. 174, 182.)