Category Archives: Organizer Essays

Tips for disruption

There is a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious, makes you so sick at heart, that you can’t take part. You can’t even passively take part! And you’ve got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels, upon the levers, upon all the apparatus, and you’ve got to make it stop! And you’ve got to indicate to the people who run it, to the people who own it — that unless you’re free, the machine will be prevented from working at all! – Mario Savio

Building a new world based on freedom, cooperation and environmental sustainability in the face of powerful corporations and governments that seek to maintain their domination is not easy. The system isn’t going to topple on its own just because a few of us refuse to participate in the death machine and retreat to our gardens and other lifestyle politics — it needs our help. A wide variety of tactics and strategies — from strikes, street protests, direct action and riots to street theater, community building or educational campaigns — can move us forward. These pages suggest how to create disorder and disruption because sometime doing so is the best option, but other tactics may be more effective in a particular situation.

General Theory

Order is when those in charge know where a crowd is and can manage the situation by re-routing traffic so business as usual can proceed everywhere else. From a police perspective, a bank occupation isn’t such a bad thing. There are a lot of banks so having one shut down for a couple of hours is tolerable.

Disorder is the rare, exciting, spontaneous moment when internal and external systems of repression lose their grip. Suddenly anything can happen and no one knows what is going to happen next. Those in charge fear and hate disorder because they’ve lost control.

When promoting disorder, the main goal isn’t to look tough confronting a line of riot cops. When you confront the police, it usually results in order not disorder, because the police know precisely where you are and its only a matter of time before they can amass enough forces to surround and bust your ass if they so choose.

For disorder, you want to avoid ever seeing the police but rather keep them guessing and confused while you’re free to cause chaos everywhere the police aren’t. Big protests often concentrate police forces and leave the rest of the city unguarded. The police are organized centrally so multiple mobile groups can scramble their hierarchical structures.

Disruption and disorder can take many forms. The system loves a conventional war within traditional categories. Like guerrilla fighters, it’s our job to figure out forms of struggle where we have an advantage. Creating beautiful expressions of the world we seek to build — music, art, gardens, public sex, bicycle swarms, etc. — avoids the system’s us vs. them paradigm.

Organization

Upsetting order is easier when friends cooperate.  Affinity groups are small direct action cells — usually 4-8 people — who share attitudes about tactics and who organize themselves for effectiveness and protection during protests, riots or for middle of the night action missions. The best affinity groups are people with pre-existing relationships who know and trust each other intimately. Decisions are made as collectively and quickly as possible depending on the circumstances. In a chaotic protest situation, affinity groups enable decision making (as opposed to just reacting to the police) while watching each others’ backs. Affinity groups with experience and a vision within a bigger crowd can take the initiative and start something when the crowd is standing around wondering what to do next.

Some affinity groups use a code word which any member can yell if they have an idea for what the group should do next. Upon hearing the word, others in the group yell it too until the whole group gathers up and the person who called the huddle makes a quick proposal. The group can then agree to the proposal, or briefly discuss alternatives, and then move. A code word can also allow regrouping when the group gets separated in a chaotic situation. It is a good idea for everyone in the group to discuss their limits before an action. During the action, taking time to check in about how everyone is feeling will keep the group unified. Don’t forget to eat and take pee breaks, which will be a lot easier when someone can act as lookout while you duck behind a dumpster.

Some affinity groups have division of labor in which some member say away from the action to support members who might be arrested. An affinity group can send scouts on a bike to check out action opportunities. Affinity groups can be ongoing groups that last for years, or they can form just before a particular action.

Sometimes multiple affinity groups cooperate before or during an action using a spokes council. A spokes council is a meeting for making decisions involving large numbers of people more quickly in which each affinity group is represented by a single member. Often the rest of the affinity group sits behind the member who is the speaker so the group can let the speaker now the group’s views.

DIY mental health Tips

Watching while our society destroys itself triggers despair and anxiety. Yet it is possible to summon the courage to stay engaged with the world, survive and fight back. When you’re suffering from depression and anxiety is often the hardest time to ask for help from others around you — and paradoxically when you need help the most. Feelings exist for reasons — if you repress them too hard, you can miss important lessons they may have for you. Here are some tips you can use when you’re in crisis which can also be helpful if you’re trying to care for someone having a breakdown.

• It can help to focus off the crisis and onto what you find joyful until you can gather more resources.

• Our brains are connected to our bodies so concentrating on physical health can help treat mental distress. Eating healthy food on a regular schedule and getting enough sleep are key. Exercise, dance, biking and physical movement can help. So can fresh air and having a stable, calming place to stay.

• There is no shame in asking for help or discussing disturbing mental states with others. It helps everyone when these feelings are out of the closet.

• When things are really painful or stressful, it can help to step back and disconnect from feelings that you’ll be destroyed unless you achieve a particular outcome like keeping a particular lover or avoiding changes. Change is inevitable and our greatest source of pain can be our attachment to keeping things static. A year or two from now, whatever is happening now will be a memory and the pain of wishing it was otherwise will be gone. Most changes, even when they are painful, open up other opportunities. When you accept that your life is an adventure, you can see painful changes as plot twists – great stories you can tell later. When you avoid attachment to a particular outcome, you can step back and watch your life like you would watch a movie, which can really reduce your suffering.

• Dissociating from emotions can be a useful short-term survival strategy, but in the long run, those emotions will find other ways to come out — such as in physical symptoms, panic attacks, or periods of emotional crisis.  If you’re having trouble feeling your emotions, getting help is a really good idea.

• Joining a mutual support group of peers listening to and helping peers as equals can validating, while not necessarily endorsing your feelings. You can form one yourself or join an ongoing group.

• Find a counselor who supports your self-determination. Ask about confidentiality if someone else — such as your parents, boss, or governmental program — is paying for your therapy.

• There is no shame in using psychiatric drugs such as those for depression or bipolar disorder if you know they work for you.

• Keep in mind that some current emotional crises may be caused by traumas from the past, which may need to be emotionally and consciously processed in order not to keep recurring.

• When you’re depressed, the most helpful thing to realize is that the depressed feeling will eventually pass and your life will begin to seem meaningful again with time. Depression inhibits your ability to perceive and understand the world correctly. Your perceptions of isolation, loneliness, un-lovability, and hopelessness are not realistic when you are depressed. You have to get through the low point so you can correctly understand reality again on the other side. Avoid making any decisions or drastic moves such as hurting yourself when you are unable to correctly perceive reality.

• Distracting yourself from depressed thoughts can help: listening to music, washing dishes, or doing a project alone or with others.

• Many communities have 24 hour a day crisis hotlines or crisis centers. Call 800-SUICIDE if you’re thinking about killing yourself or 800 646-HOPE to reach a rape crisis line for survivors of sexual violence.

• For anxiety, try to remember to breathe. Practicing meditation may also help you relax.

• Acupuncture, massage and other body work can be ways for others to give your whole self some gentle attention.

• Ecopsychology is realizing nature and wilderness are our greatest healers. Spend some time outside the city to get centered and get away from pollution which is in itself mind-altering.

• If you have a loved one in crisis, the most helpful thing is to make it clear that you care and be there to listen. They may not be able to call or ask for help — it can be very helpful to keep calling them every day or two to check-in, even if they don’t answer the phone or seem to want help. Sometimes it is okay to want to be alone so don’t be too pushy. Just make it clear that you care.

• Social change: Actually address the stressful factors in your environment. Revolution can heal.

• If someone is having delusional thinking or expressing violence related to mental issues, these suggestions may not be helpful and it is okay to reach out for professional help.

 

2015 Organizer introduction

Active resistance to the death culture of eco-destruction, sweat shops and cultural homogenization is alive and growing. The communities who create and use this organizer are diverse, but we’re united by our inability to fit in with a world organized around injustice, power and greed. A key response to the oppressive corporate system revolves around building alternatives based on freedom, cooperation, beauty, pleasure and love. When faced with endless concrete, we build gardens. When the system builds malls and TV, we share what we have and start our own band. We’re trading their career path for skill shares and self-knowledge built around meditation and psychedelic drugs. And if the corporations persist with poisoning the air and water to make a quick buck, we’ll throw a monkey wrench into the works or climb over their fences and seize the fucking factory.

This organizer comes to you straight from the underground. The historical events you’ll find here illustrate the huge number of ways our resistance expresses itself — reaching into every aspect of what it means to be human from organization to work to personal life to our relationship with the earth to sexuality, technology, art, psychology . . . Many people are working on their own little corner of reality to come up with a response to the unsustainable oppressive monster. It’s time to pull together and synthesize what we’ve all been working on into something even more irresistible.

The organizer created collectively — a power sharing alternative to the hierarchical structures that surround us. Operating collectively is messy and complex and the fact that we end up producing a functional calendar at the end of it is kind of hilarious. It’s messy because it’s alive. We hope the organizer helps people access other pockets of resistance. We are glad to have you with us.

This is the 21st time we’ve amused ourselves by publishing the Slingshot organizer. Its sale raises funds to publish the quarterly, radical, independent Slingshot Newspaper. We try to distribute the newspaper for free everywhere in the US. Let us know if you can be a local newspaper distributor in your area. Thanks to the volunteers who created this year’s organizer: Aaron, Alex, Ali, Angie, Ara, Ari, Audrey, Aya, Bill, Claudia, Cody, DA, Eggplant, enola, Fil, Finn, Gina, Heather, Isabelle, Jasmin, Jesse, Jett, Joey, J-tronn, Kathleen, Kathy, Katiri, Kermit, Korvin, Lew, Lindsey, Liz, Marlene, Mario, Melody, Nat, Nausicaa, Nick, Solomon, Sophia, Soren, Susan, Vanessa, Zoe and those we forgot.

 

Slingshot Collective

A Project of Long Haul

Physical office: 3124 Shattuck Avenue Berkeley, CA 94705

Mail: PO box 3051, Berkeley, CA 94703

510-540-0751 ex. 3 • http://slingshot.tao.ca • slingshot@tao.ca • @slingshotnews

 

Printed in Berkeley, CA on recycled paper

 

Anti-copyright.

 

All volunteer collective – no bosses, no workers, no pay.

2016 Organizer introduction

Some of the most exciting moments we have experienced in the last few years have been in the streets, getting teargassed by armored riot cops, running around corners and through holes in fences with the people we love, scattering, regrouping, and coming back stronger than ever.

The clarity of these moments is exhilarating. Realizing that the police have all the power in the world but still can’t control us; seeing the way that power can shift and reverse, even in this entrenched world; knowing, without doubt, which side we are on. Experiences like these bring everything in to focus and can become bright shining beacons with which we navigate more effectively through the rest of our lives, but our years are also filled with other moments that make us feel more alive including many experiences where the lines are far less clear and understanding subtleties serves us better than the satisfaction of moral certainty.

It is crucial to oppose the ugliness we see in the world, to name our trauma and make visible the systems of power that shape so much of our lives and undermine our ability to connect with each other. The temptation to turn the moral clarity of a particular moment into a general kind of reductive self-righteousness, however, is strong. It often relies on the logic of the very systems we are trying to oppose.

We are more interested in amplifying the moments we feel most alive, honing our skills for when we face down cops in the street, but also for when we dance and fuck and go on walks with people, when we negotiate sharing our lives and working on projects together and have expansive conversations with each other. We hope that this organizer will give you a place to take notes and make plans, conspire and record all of the moments that make up your life, definite or potential, exciting or logistical, filled with all the clarity and subtlety of life, but never dull.

This is the 22nd time we’ve amused ourselves by publishing the Slingshot organizer. Its sale raises funds to publish the quarterly, radical, independent Slingshot Newspaper. We distribute the newspaper for free everywhere in the US, often at the places listed in the Radical Contact List. Let us know if you can be a local newspaper distributor in your area. Consider sending us content for the paper. Thanks to the volunteers who created this year’s organizer: Ali, Amanda, Angie, Bernadette, Brooke, Caitlan, Claire, Dave, Eggplant, Elisa, Fern, Fil, Finn, Heather, Isabel, Jacob, Jesse, Jesska, Joey, Katie, Kelsey, Kermit, Korvin, Kristi, Lee, Lew, Lindsay, Maggie, Mel, Reishim, Rory, Stormy, Vanessa, Xander & those we forgot.

Slingshot Collective

A Project of Long Haul

Physical office: 3124 Shattuck Avenue Berkeley, CA 94705

Mail: PO box 3051, Berkeley, CA 94703

510-540-0751 ex. 3 • http://slingshot.tao.ca • slingshot@tao.ca • @slingshotnews

 

Printed in Berkeley, CA on recycled paper

 

Anti-copyright.

 

All volunteer collective – no bosses, no workers, no pay.

 

 

 

 

 

Know your rights: Tips for dealing with the police

These suggestions from the National Lawyers Guild “Know Your Rights” guide summarize the rules to which the police are theoretically subject. Since the police, the courts, and the government can and do ignore these rules when they feel like it, these tips should be taken with a grain of salt. Sometimes these tips may help you later on in court, and sometimes they won’t. But even though the state can’t be counted on to follow its own laws, it still may be helpful to know what these laws are so you can shame particular state agents or deal with particular situations. Always use your best judgment — if you aren’t doing anything wrong, there may be no reason to be excessively paranoid or escalate a potentially innocent and brief encounter with a police officer who is just saying “hi” into an ugly situation by acting suspicious and refusing to say “hi” back. The point is to avoid giving information. We don’t want people to interpret these suggestions so strictly that the suggestions themselves cause problems.

Providing this information isn’t intended to scare you into inactivity or make you paranoid. The vast majority of radical projects are legal and proceed with no interference from the police. The police hassle and arrest people because they hope that such repression will frighten 99 percent of the population away from radical activity. We can take reasonable precautions while continuing the fight for liberation.

Never Talk to the Police

Anything you say to an FBI agent or cop may be used against you and other people — even if the questions seem routine or harmless. You don’t have to talk to FBI agents, police or investigators on the street, if you’ve been arrested, or if you’re in jail. (Exception: in 20 states, you can be prosecuted for refusing to give your name. Refusing to give your name in the other 30 states may arouse suspicion.) Only a judge has the authority to order you to answer questions. Many activists have refused to answer questions, even when ordered by a judge or grand jury, and subsequently served jail time to avoid implicating others. It is common for the FBI to threaten to serve you with a grand jury subpoena unless you talk to them. Don’t be intimidated. This is frequently an empty threat, and if they are going to subpoena you, they will do so anyway. If you do receive a subpoena, call a lawyer right away.

Once you’ve been stopped or arrested, don’t try to engage cops in a dialogue or respond to accusations. If you are nervous about simply refusing to talk, you may find it easier to tell them to contact your lawyer. Once a lawyer is involved, the police usually back off because they’ve lost their power to intimidate. Even if you have already answered some questions, you can refuse to answer other questions until you have a lawyer. Don’t lie to the police or give a false name— lying to the police is a crime. However, the police are allowed to lie to you — don’t believe what they say. If you’ve been arrested, don’t talk about anything sensitive in police cars, jail cells or to other inmates — you are probably being recorded. All of this applies whether you’ve been busted for a minor infraction, or a serious felony.

What To Do About Police Harassment On The Street

If the police stop you on the street, ask, “Am I free to go?” If yes, walk away. If not, you are being detained but this does not necessarily mean you will be arrested. Ask, “Can you explain why you are detaining me?” To stop you, cops must have specific reasons to suspect you of involvement in a specific crime. Police are entitled to frisk you (pat you down) during a detention. If the police try to further search you, your car, or your home, say repeatedly that you do not consent to the search, but do not physically resist.

You can fight police harassment by watching the cops. You have a right to be in public and to observe police activity. Write down all police officers’ names & badge numbers, addresses of witnesses, the time, date, place and details of the incident, etc. If stopped, get people to watch for you.

What To Do If Police Visit Your Home

You do not have to let the FBI or police into your home or office unless they have a search or arrest warrant. Demand to see the warrant. It must specifically describe the place to be searched and the things to be seized. If they do present a warrant, you do not have to tell them anything other than your name and address. Tell the police that you do not consent to the search – this will (theoretically) limit them to search only where the warrant authorizes. If the officers ask you to give them documents, your computer, or anything else, look to see if the item is listed in the warrant. If it is not, do not consent to them taking it. You have a right to observe what they do. You should take written notes of what they do, their names, badge numbers, etc. Have friends who are present act as witnesses.

What To Do If Police Stop You In Your Car

If you are driving a car, you must show police your license, registration and proof of insurance, but you do not have to consent to a search or answer questions. Keep your hands where the police can see them and refuse to consent (agree) to a search. Police may separate passengers and drivers from each other to question them, but no one has to answer any questions.

What To Do If You Are Arrested

Repeatedly tell the police “I don’t want to talk until my lawyer is present.” If you suffer police abuse while detained or arrested, try to remember the officer’s badge number and/or name. You have the right to ask the officer to identify himself. Write down everything as soon as you can and try to find witnesses. If you are injured, see a doctor and take pictures of the injuries as soon as possible.

Searches at International Borders

Your property (including data on laptops) can be searched and seized at border crossings without a warrant. Consider backing up or not bringing important data before going through customs.

Police Hassles: What If You Are Not A Citizen?

In most cases, you have the right to a hearing with an immigration judge before you can be deported. If you voluntarily give up this right or take voluntary departure, you could be deported without a hearing and you may never be able to enter the US legally again or ever get legal immigration status. Do not talk to the ICE, even on the phone, or sign any papers before talking to an immigration lawyer. You do not have to reveal your immigration status to any government official. If you are arrested in the US, you have the right to call your consulate or have the police inform the consulate of your arrest. Your consul may help you find a lawyer. You also have the right to refuse help from your consulate.

Police Hassles: What If You Are Under 18 Years Old?

Don’t talk to the police — minors also have the right to remain silent. You don’t have to talk to cops or school officials. Public school students have the right to politically organize at school by passing out leaflets, holding meetings and publishing independent newspapers as long as these activities do not disrupt classes. You have the right to a hearing with your parents and an attorney present before you are suspended or expelled. Students can have their backpacks and lockers searched by school officials without a warrant. Do not consent to any search, but do not physically resist.

Common Sense Activist Security Measures

Don’t speculate on or circulate rumors about protest actions or potentially illegal acts. Assume you are under surveillance if you are organizing mass direct action, anything illegal, or even legal stuff. Check out the authenticity of any potentially disturbing letter, rumor, phone call, or other form of communication before acting on it. Ask the supposed source if she or he is responsible. Deal openly and honestly with the differences in our movements (race, gender, class, age religion, sexual orientation, etc.) before the police can exploit them. Don’t try to expose a suspected agent or informer without solid proof. Purges based on mere suspicion only help the police create distrust and paranoia. It generally works better to criticize what a disruptive person says and does without speculating as to why.

People who brag about, recklessly propose, or ask for unnecessary information about underground groups or illegal activities are a severe danger to the movement. The police may used infiltrators/provocateurs posing as activists to entrap people on conspiracy charges of planning illegal acts. You can be guilty of conspiracy just for agreeing with one other person to commit a crime even if you never go through with it — all that is required is an agreement to do something illegal and a single “overt act” in furtherance of the agreement, which can be a legal act like going to a store. It is reasonable to be suspicious of people in the scene who pressure us, manipulate us, offer to give us money or weapons, or make us feel like we aren’t cool if we don’t feel comfortable with a particular tactic, no matter why they do these things. Responsible activists considering risky actions will want to respect other people’s boundaries and limits and won’t want to pressure you into doing things you’re not ready for. Doing so is coercive and disrespectful — hardly a good basis on which to build a new society or an effective action.

Keep in mind that activists who spend all their time worrying about security measures and police surveillance will end up totally isolated and ineffective because they won’t be able to welcome new folks who want to join the struggle. We have to be aware of the possibility of police surveillance while maintaining our commitment to acting openly and publicly. Smashing the system is going to require mass action as well as secretive covert actions by a tiny clique of your trusted friends.

More info contact the National Lawyers Guild: 415 285-1055 or 212 627-2656; read The War at Home by Brian Glick or Agents of Repression by Ward Churchill

 

Drop a line to a prisoner

 

Many people in radical circles spend a bit of their time doing prisoner support activities. This can range from joining a books-to-prisoners project that mails free books to inmates, to individually becoming penpals with a prisoner. Some people focus on political prisoners — prisoners held because of their involvement in radical actions or framed because of their beliefs. Other people see the entire prison-industrial complex as illegitimate, criticize the way that it targets marginalized communities, and/or believe that it is wrong to imprison people at all. Many people are in prison because of the war on drugs, or because economic inequality under capitalism impoverishes entire communities and pushes people to do illegal things to survive.

A key way we can support prisoners is by communicating with them. Prison is a deeply isolating environment. In an email-dominated world, writing an old-fashioned letter on paper can be surprisingly rewarding for you as well as a prisoner. There are many penpal networks that connect prisoners with those on the outside. Here are some tips on writing letters to prisoners.

• When writing to prisoners, you have to put their prisoner number on the first line of the mailing address to get it through. Prisons prohibit mailing certain items like books, food, money, etc. Ask the prisoner for the rules.

• Make sure to put a return address on your letter. If you are writing to a prisoner you don’t know, it may be best to use a PO box or other neutral address.

• If you’re writing to a prisoner, keep in mind that the prison officials or other authorities may read your letter. Don’t discuss anything sensitive. If the prisoner is waiting for trial or sentencing (or on appeal), it may be better not to discuss the details of their case.

• While the state locking people up is shitty, it doesn’t follow that all prisoners are angels. They are people just like everyone else, and some of them are flawed or can be manipulative. Use reasonable caution and treat prisoners like you would another penpal.

• Be careful about accepting collect phone calls from jail — they are usually expensive.

• Don’t make promises you can’t keep like offering to find a lawyer to take their case, sending them money or expensive items, offering them housing on release, organizing a support campaign, etc.— being let down when you’re locked up can be especially devastating. Be clear about your intentions. If you’re not looking for a romantic relationship, it can be helpful to all involved to say so right off.

• You can find penpals by contacting your local prison literature project – check the radical contact list because many of these spaces host prison related projects.

Tips for subversive sex

In this political and historical climate, great sex can be a subversive, expansive, and radical mode of dismantling socializations and creating alternatives to mainstream drone culture. More and more, the Christian right’s morals and limits are seeping into the larger culture. Take a look at fashion, security precautions, and what is being passed off as education, entertainment, etc. This nauseating wave of puritanism and conservative values hangs in the air, almost unnoticed like the stale salty grease cloud present when passing a McDonald’s. Subtle, toxic, bland, unhealthy, normative.

Comfort in one’s skin and sexuality, consent and self-care are an essential backdrop. There is no way to have freeing sex without actively checking in with all partners about emotional and physical comfort and openness. If folks are shutting down, going on to the ceiling, disassociating or not that into it, then how the fuck can it be any good? Knowing what one wants is not easy, as we are taught very boring and limited sexualities in this culture. Part of what can make sex so revolutionary is discovering what it is we like and pushing ourselves (consensually of course) to and beyond our limits.

Role Switching

Many of us get stuck in sex roles or sex acts — butch or femme or top or bottom or daddy or slave. Switching up roles is exactly as it sounds; availing oneself the opportunity to receive when previously being the provider; taking turns sucking and being sucked, biting and being bitten, slapping and being slapped, holding and being held, fucking and being fucked.

Gender-queerness

Sex can be a stage to play with the fluidity of gender and go beyond binary-gender or sex determined gendered bodies. This may mean relearning how to have sex and switching your focus away from genitals and genital contact. (Boys get blowjobs and girls get finger banged.) There is so much to play with and destroy, pervert, re-name. It is respectful and sexy as hell to ask people what they call their body parts and how they want them touched. When opening up what we consider erogenous zones, more conversations about re-imagining bodies, gender, and society may become possible. Anybody can get a blowjob anywhere on their body and the same goes for finger banging. This can mean less focus on genitals and orgasms and more focus on nerve endings and what turns them on and works also on an emotional level for a person. Expansion, redefining and being aware of people’s boundaries are key in this realm and essential to sex.

Laughter

Try laughing during sex. It can be diverse; from a coy giggle, to a belly laugh, to laughing at oneself at an awkward moment or just as a way to communicate joy. Laughter is contagious and can put folks more at ease. One may laugh solo or in unison w/ sex partners. Laughing can help relieve tension – so you don’t get so caught up in your “performance”. Doing sex is goofy and silly and in fact hilarious. There is a myth that we should act a certain way during sex; virile, coquettish, animalistic, blasé, submissive, dominant, alluring etc. Laughing helps hush those “you should be fill in the blank” voices. It neutralizes the tape-loops that play in your head and the self-imposed expectations of hotness based on media-inspired sources. Noise in general during sex is a fabulous added layer to events. Sound can act as a reflection of what is going on and also act as a release for the sensations being experienced; crying, screaming, moaning, gasping are all marvelous additions to this sex symphony. Laughing enhances the intimacy and the experience in general.

Role Play

Adding some drama to the scenario can provide many things: lessen other social/psycho/dramas that folks tend to drum up when the issue of sex arises, keep things interesting and creative, help explore different identities, help approach taboo subject matters, and heal from past traumas. Role-play can be a great way to challenge one’s rigidities and discover hidden perversions in a safe context.

This can include working up characters in a setting with a plot. It can get intricate with scripts or songs, drag, props or outfits, even a dance routine. Also these scenarios can leave the bedroom and social norms. Here is where many taboos can be explored. The more the merrier, sillier, nastier. These games could challenge political and social norms in positive and smarty-panted ways. Role-play scenarios set up safe consensual spaces for folks to go there consciously, critically, humbly and with an open mind. The important thing here is that everyone is okay with where the story goes.

 

Please Call Again: Naming and Addressing “Others”

by Yeaozinho

People of European descent have seemingly always had trouble naming those that they came into contact with upon first arrival in the already-discovered continent of North America. In the oft told story, Christopher Columbus, believing to have traveled around the world and found himself in the Far East, referred to the people he encountered as “Indians.” (in a fine illustration of how the colonialist victors choose names for others, even the above discoverer’s name has been Anglicized from its Italian original: Cristoforo Colombo.) Indian, and later American Indian, are still the legal definition in US law for all the peoples living here prior to contact. However, since the name began with an error, it rankles many to this day. In the latter half of the twentieth-century, this nomenclature was altered in many textbooks and official documents to read “Native American.” However, this name too has angered many for the same reasons that “Indian” does: it is not a self-defined name, but rather one handed down from the powers that be. Perhaps Native American is more politically correct, but it is still clearly an outsiders’ description. (Ironically, the first usage of the capitalized “Native American” was done so by a group of racist Anglo-Saxon protestants in the 1850′s in an attempt to differentiate themselves from newer Irish and German immigrants.) A further problem is that the word “native” itself also has a number of pejorative usages, including “going native” and is associated in some people’s minds with being primitive or backward. Ultimately, naming is about power, and until everyone has the power to name themselves, this discussion will never go away.

Other terms not mentioned, like “indigenous peoples” or “Aboriginal” are so vague as to refer to nearly any ancient population worldwide, which is also hardly a useful characterization. (*Words like savage, Redskin, heathen or squaw have all gone out of favour because they have been deemed offensive, and one wonders the fate of all the terminologies we use today.) Defining a group of cultures so widely diverse as those that inhabited North America prior to contact is a fatally flawed proposition in the first place Also, terms like “Iroquoian-speaking” or “Pueblo-dwelling” define giant groups that are just as varied as saying “English speaking” or “Apartment-dwelling.” Borders also make things problematic, as “Native American” is meaningless when you consider the histories of the various groups that regularly crossed modern nation-state boundaries. So, why even bother to try and name people in this way? It is because this is exactly what both historic and modern-day colonizers want. If you can define someone, you can control them.

The natural inclination of those seeking to be respectful would then be: well, don’t generalize, refer to Peoples by their individual group-names rather than as one overarching population. However, this too is fraught with difficulty. Common usage names are often just as false and insulting as “Indian” can be. Take three examples: Mohawk is actually a word used by a rival group, the Narraganset, which literally means “the flesh eaters.” Both Sioux and Apache are French and Spanish corruptions of the word “enemy” in the languages of the Anishinaabe and Zuni Peoples respectively. In all three cases, European invaders, having no clue what they were doing or what the words meant, have defined groups for centuries by the terminology of their direct adversaries!

So, what is to be done? Well, of course, like any discussion of this scope, there is no one “solution” to the issue of naming. Think of how you define yourself and your own history: do you want the right to make that distinction yourself?

Naming is, and should be, about self-determination and empowerment. In the late 1960′s these concepts were flipped on their head when a radical group of activists began referring to themselves as the “American Indian Movement” and began to proclaim “Red Power.” Sometimes the very source of the strength of a word can be dependent entirely on who is saying it. Whenever there is confusion over what to call someone, I would offer only one concrete piece of advice: why don’t you ask them?

 

***Those of us at Slingshot welcome any comments on this issue and encourage people to send in their thoughts. The issue of naming itself came up at a meeting we had regarding the historical dates included within the organizer. We recognized that we were using far too many vague terms, and sought to define things as precisely as possible in a way those historical figures may have wanted to be referred to***

 

Introduction – 2014 organizer

Welcome to the 2014 Slingshot Organizer. In the world we envision, there are less facebook friends and more friends sitting around a campfire talking and singing late into the night. With the government tracking every email we send and every phone call we make, using a low-tech paper calendar is one of the last ways people can keep their thoughts, schedules, friends and whereabouts to themselves. Doing things by hand, off the grid and for ourselves is about more than just flying below the radar — living like this keeps our lives engaged, active and meaningful in an increasingly resigned, passive world.

In the corporate/computerized world, competition and greed organize reality. But you don’t have to accept that world. We’re building a counter-culture where people create projects and collectives freely of our own will to do things we care about with people we love. These structures should be impossible under capitalism, and yet we exist. And we’re growing because people aren’t interchangeable robots no matter how powerful multi-nationals, the government and the media may appear to be. Their world is fragile and temporary and history is full of powerful empires collapsing, as illustrated in this organizer. We hope you can use the organizer to create your own beautiful, pleasurable moments, communities and spaces worth fighting for.

This is the 20th time we’ve amused ourselves by publishing the Slingshot organizer. Its sale raises funds to publish the quarterly, radical, independent Slingshot Newspaper. We try to distribute the newspaper for free everywhere in the US. Let us know if you can be a local newspaper distributor in your area. Thanks to the volunteers who created this year’s organizer: Aaron, Adam, Ali, Andrew, Ara, Ari, Bill, Bolinho, Brian, Brianna, Brickma, Brooke, Brookie, Danny B, Dominique, Eggplant, enola, Eric, Fil, Finn, Francesca, Grant, Greta, Heather, Jamie, Jess, Jesse, Joey, J-tronn, Kaye, Kazoo, KC, Kermit, Korvin, Kris, Lala, Lew, Lindsey, Melissa, Mike, Nat, Nausicaa, Nidia, Rachel, Solomon, Sy, Vanessa, Zoe, Zoe, and those we forgot.

 

Slingshot Collective

A Project of Long Haul

Physical office: 3124 Shattuck Avenue Berkeley, CA 94705

Mail: PO box 3051, Berkeley, CA 94703

510-540-0751 ex. 3 • http://slingshot.tao.ca • slingshot@tao.ca • @slingshotnews

 

Printed in Berkeley, CA on recycled paper

 

Anti-copyright.

 

All volunteer collective – no bosses, no workers, no pay.

DIY Tips for Shutting Down a Bank

Big banks brought about the 2007 financial crisis through risky lending, and they are notorious for exporting wealth from local communities. The hacks in congress claim these banks are “too big to fail,” so rather than regulate or outlaw them, the politicians continue to use public money to bail out these private institutions–rather than directing funds towards education, transport, healthcare and other desperately needed community services.

No one else is going to do it for us, so perhaps it is time to take bank regulation into our own hands & shut down the corporate banks ourselves.

In 2012, a group of students & teachers at the University of California at Davis (UC Davis) used their bodies as a human chain, blocking the entrances to a corporate bank on their campus. After 2 straight months, the bank branch shut down and left the university forever. Maybe this tactic is most effective on universities and other campuses (i.e. hospitals), or maybe it can be transplanted into any community. We can only find out through trial and error.

If you are out of work due to the financial crisis the banks created, why not dedicate 15 hours a week to blockading a corporate bank in your neighborhood? It’s a great way to meet people, and it could have lasting positive effects on your community and quality of life.

Some tips:

- Coordinate. The Davis Blockaders are rumored to have used an online spreadsheet to sign up for 3-hour shifts to make sure multiple people were always covering the entrances during banking hours. (For funsies: you can treat the blockade like a job & wear a suit!)

- Personal Stories. If you have a personal story about how big banks screwed you or your loved ones over, don’t hesitate to share it with the customers you turn away.

- Recruit Lots of Local People from Diverse Backgrounds. It can also help to have some local celebrities & upstanding community members as spokespersons.

- Educate. Some people are still plugged in to the corporate media and don’t understand why big banks are bad. Be ready to explain the basics to these n00bs, or have some fliers to give them.

- Bring a book. Some relevant titles: DEBT: the first 5000 years by David Greaber and Too Big to Fail by Andrew Ross Sorkin.

- Document Any Abuses. If bank employees, customers, or cops attempt to break the law by assaulting anyone in the blockade, film them!

- Avoid breaking the law. Don’t give the police an excuse to crash your blockade. If a window gets smashed or a pedestrian gets punched, it’s pretty much over. If someone wants to do drugs or booze up, they need to go someplace else. A bank blockade is a specific type of tactic & needs to stay focused on its goal. That said, if a random riot wanders by and saves you some time by torching the bank, what can you say?

- Get Legal Support. Be in touch with local law firms that specialize in Civil Disobedience. Twelve of the Davis Blockaders were charged with misdemeanors, but several rockstar lawyers showed up to defend them in court. With help from the legal community, the “Davis Dozen” each received a mere 60 hours of community service & clean records.

- Send us your stories of successful blockades! We may run them in the Slingshot newspaper. All submissions to slingshot@tao.ca.

Some resources:

strikedebt.org – Join the global debt strike! Stop making payments & reclaim the future!

publicbankinginstitute.org – Make all banks into publicly-owned institutions and end this bullshit once & for all!