Category Archives: Autumn 2011, (09/30/11)

La Revuelta Estudiantil en chile

Av. Libertador Bernardo O’Higgins 1058. 2pm. Cientos de jóvenes en las calles, colgando placas, sentados en grupos, conversando, escribiendo, pintando. Y perros, muchos perros abandonados a sus lados. Esto fue una de las primeras cosas que vi cuando llegué a Santiago, Chile en julio de 2011 y pasé en frente de la Universidad de Chile. En aquel gran edificio amarillo imponente había una placa de lado a lado que decía “La Lucha de la Sociedad entera. Todxs por la Educación Gratuita”.

Esto es solamente uno retrato de lo que está ocurriendo en Chile desde hace unos meses. Estudiantes de las preparatorias y universidades están tomando las universidades de todo el país y declarando huelga desde el Julio de 2011 para obtener educación gratuita. La educación en Chile ha seguido las reglas neoliberales desde que Pinochet entró al gobierno en 1973, privatizando todas las universidades para dejar que la “mano invisible de mercado” actúe y generar competición para tener “calidad”.

Los estudiantes en Chile están en este momento luchando para tener acceso a más educación financiada por el gobierno, en vez de ser endeudados por muchos años. Muchas de los eslóganes están pintados como grafiti en las paredes de los edificios escolares, No + Lucro, No + Miseria, la Revuelta es ahora. También creen que la deprivatización de los recursos naturales chilenos podría financiar la educación gratuita. Destruaymos la educación de mercado, nacionalizamos el cobre dice otro grafiti.

De hecho lo que está sucediendo en Chile fue la misma dinámica clasista que está sucediendo en todo el mundo, incluso los EEUU: los ricos continúan estudiando (en las mejores universidades) y los pobres no pueden estudiar o se matan para pagar las mensualidades de la universidad. Es absurdo restringir el conocimiento solo para aquellos que pueden pagar, esto nada más que otra forma diferente de casta, si puedes pagar puedes aprender más y obtener una mente critica, si no, estas condenado. Además, no tener un diploma de universidad en un país menos desarrollado significa empleos de mierda, donde te tratan como mierda, teniendo que trabajar un millón de horas y todavía teniendo dificultad en pagar las cuentas.

En las manifestaciones en la capital de país ha habido mas de 600.000 personas en las calles, con apoyo no solamente de estudiantes pero también sus maestros, profesores, trabajadores en educación y familia. Una cosa impresionante es ver ancianos y chicos levados por sus padres a las manifestaciones, todas las personas oprimidas están comprendiendo que esta lucha es de todos. Los ancianos vieron y sufrieron todas las atrocidades cometidas por Augusto Pinochet y ahora ven un chance para intentar de retomar los derechos que tenían. Y los padres saben y quieren que sus hijos vayan a la universidad en el futuro, entonces ven como una chance de asegurar sus futuros. Hay una foto en internet de un chico de 7 anos en una manifestación, usando una bandana y colgando una placa que decía “Con mi papá aprendo a luchar. Después aprenderán mis hijos”.

También una característica que ven llamando la atención de todos y atrayendo mas personas a las manifestaciones son las formas creativas que los estudiantes están usando para expresarse: fantasías, danzas coreografiadas, obras de teatro, un kiss-in aconteció con mas de 100 estudiantes en frente de la universidad. Algunos estudiantes están corriendo por Santiago, siempre portando una bandera negra que dice “Educación gratuita ahora”. Uno die-in también aconteció, con personas colgando placas que dicen “Morí esperando una educación de calidad”. Otros estudiantes hacen una huelga de hambre.

Un aspecto interesante de la revolución estudiantil es que algunos estudiantes se han identificado con la lucha indígena de los Mapuches. Durante siglos los Mapuches en Chile han estado luchando en contra de la represión del gobierno, las tomas de tierras y ataques en sus comunidades. Se pueden observar muchos afiches y eslóganes pro-Mapuche entre los afiches estudiantiles, lo que demuestra el respeto y la solidaridad que tienen los estudiantes a los Mapuches, que han sido discriminados por la sociedad chilena. La violencia en contra del pueblo Mapuche es también un síntoma de un régimen represiva que busca sofocar las minorías y promover las industrias con fines de lucro.

Además, los estudiantes también han ocupado las universidades, creando espacios abiertos con palestras y clases gratuitas dadas por los propios alumnos y algunos profesores a toda la población. Ellos tomaron el lugar y han estado haciendo lo que se necesitaba hacer: difundiendo el conocimiento a los interesados, no importa si tienen dinero o no.

A pesar de todo eso, la reacción del gobierno a estas acciones ha sido violenta como siempre, la policía nacional de “Carabineros” ha reprimido todas las manifestaciones con mucho gas lacrimógeno, canons de agua y detenciones. Desafortunadamente uno chico ha muerto hasta ahora en las manifestaciones, un joven de 14 años, Manuel Gutierrez, que fue disapardo por una bala de un Carabinero. Pero toda la represión ha fortalecido el movimiento, porque mas de 70% de la población apoya las huelgas. A nadie le gusta de ver sus hijos agarrados por la policía y esto está creando más rabia y frustración contra el gobierno chileno.

Y ahora ya no es solamente una lucha por educación, muchos otros trabajadores están haciendo huelgas y participando de las manifestaciones, especialmente trabajadores en hospitales e servicios de emergencia, motoristas de taxis e camiones, y trabajadores en minas de cobre. En fin de augusto se sucedió una huelga general de 48 horas llamada por una confederación de 80 sindicatos.

Entonces por supuesto no es mas solamente una huelga de estudiantes, los chilenos están en un punto sin retorno que se visto en historia, cuando algo muy grande vaya ocurrir. ¡Estos momentos, cuando toda una sociedad se queda insatisfecha y decide salir a las calles y manifestarse es algo de celebrar y enaltecer! También como todo se empezó por causa de cuestiones educacionales, es un momento para pensar en el sistema educacional en EEUU y en todo el mundo bajo las reglas neoliberales: ¿Por qué el conocimiento y educación están bajo el control del mercado? ¿Que son los efectos que generará en futuro? ¿Que van a ser de los chicos siendo educados bajo este régimen?

Free food criminalized – free speech squashed

Orlando FNB

The Orlando, Florida Food Not Bombs chapter has fallen under siege by city-officials and law-enforcement over the past few months with dozens of people arrested for the crime of feeding the hungry. Volunteers with Orlando Food Not Bombs (OFNB) prepare vegan food to share with hungry people using ingredients that would otherwise go to waste. OFNB shares food to call attention to society’s failure to provide food and housing to each of its members. OFNB shares food in public places such as parks to reclaim public space for everyone, not just the privileged.

In July of 2006 the City of Orlando passed a law that limited the feeding of twenty-five people or more to twice a year. Several months later volunteer Eric Montanez was arrested by eight of Orlando’s finest. Police videotaped him from a tinted, black SUV parked a short distance away. They reportedly caught him ladling out stew to the hungry thirty times. The bastard! This is where the fight began…

OFNB hired an attorney and filed suit against the city. On September 26, 2008 Federal Judge Gregory Presnell ruled that the ordinance violated OFNB’s First Amendment rights to engage in activities that express political ideas. The ruling ordered the City of Orlando to pay OFNB’s attorney $200,000. One month before the payment was due, the city hired a private firm to appeal the case.

The 11th US Circuit Court of Appeals heard the case regarding OFNB on February 15, 2011. Nearly two months later, the Court of Appeals overturned the original ruling. While they agreed that feeding the homeless constitutes free speech, they claimed the ordinance does not unfairly limit the group’s rights.

During a food sharing on June 1 in Lake Eola Park, Orlando Police counted the number of people OFNB served and proceeded to arrest three members including Food Not Bombs co-founder Keith McHenry. This began a string of over twenty-five arrests carried out at food sharings during June.

Mayor Buddy Dyer called OFNB members “food terrorists” and ordered the group to serve in a barbed wire feeding cage located under a highway overpass in one of the most dangerous parts of town, an order they refused.

As an alternative, Dyer offered the group the chance to serve on the steps of City Hall without a permit as long as they stayed out of Lake Eola Park. On July 1, OFNB served food and offered literature there for the first time. The group attempted to return to Lake Eola Park on July 6, but Orlando Police once again arrested several members. Since then, OFNB has continued their twice-weekly sharings at City Hall, serving Mondays at 9:30 am and Wednesdays at 5:30 pm. In return, all charges have been dropped against those who were arrested for sharing inside Lake Eola Park.

Food Not Bombs members are now attempting to gather enough petition signatures to push the ordinance onto the ballot in 2012, in hopes that voters will repeal it entirely. This would allow them to serve in Lake Eola Park, where running water and restrooms are available to the hungry – necessities that are unavailable at the City Hall location.

Orlando is a prime example of city-officials putting profit before their own people. Mayor Buddy Dyer is trying to suppress Food Not Bombs to crack down on shabby youth and homeless people alike in order to further his agenda of downtown gentrification and the criminalization of poverty. Over thirty percent of Orlando’s shelters claim they have had to turn people away in the last twelve months. Many of them charge the homeless a nightly fee for shelter. In the wealthiest country on earth, why do we find it acceptable to demonize the poor? It is up to us to end this pro-corporate system of political policies that are impeding on our lives more and more everyday. Lend your support by spreading awareness and urging Orlando city officials to end the criminalization of poverty. Sign OFNB’s petition at www.thepetitionsite.com, or send Mayor Buddy Dyer an email urging him to repeal the ordinance. You can reach him at: buddy.dyer@cityoforlando.net. Speak out – and speak loudly.

Students Revolt in Chile

1058 Libertador Bernardo O’Higgins Avenue. 2pm. Hundreds of young people on the sidewalk, hanging signs, sitting in groups, chatting, writing, painting. And dogs, a lot of stray dogs by their side. That was one of the first scenes I saw when I got to Santiago, Chile in July 2011 and walked by Universidad de Chile. On that huge, impressive yellow building, there was a sign unfurled from the windows proclaiming “La Lucha de la Sociedad entera. Todxs por la Educación Gratuita” (The struggle belongs to the whole society. All in favor of free education)

This is just a snapshot of what is going on in Chile for the last few months. High school and college students have been taking over universities and colleges all over the country and declaring strikes since July 2011 in order to obtain free education. Education in Chile has followed the neoliberal rules since Pinochet took over in 1973, privatizing all universities in order to let the “invisible hand of the market” guide the education industry and generate competition for “quality”.

Students in Chile are currently engaged in a struggle to have more access to state-sponsored education, instead of going into major student debt that requires decades to be paid off. Many of the student slogans are graffitied onto building, “No + Lucro” (No More Profits”, “No + Miseria, La Revuelta es Ahora” *No more misery, the revolution is now!” And they also believe that deprivatizing Chile’s natural resources would provide funding for free education: “destruyamos la educacion de mercado, nationalizamos el cobre” (Let’s destroy market-based education, renationalize copper.”

What is happening in Chile points toward the same elitist dynamic that has been happening all around the world, including U$A: the wealthy people have the money to keep studying (in the best universities) and the poor people can’t afford to study at all, or they struggle like hell to pay college tuition. It’s absurd to restrict knowledge only to the ones who can afford it, this is nothing more than a kind of of caste system, if you can pay you can improve your skills and develop a critical mind, if not, you’re condemned. Besides that, not having a college degree in underdeveloped countries means getting only shitty jobs where people are treated as shit, working thousands of hours and barely making enough money to pay the bills.

The demonstrations in the capital of the country has involved more than 600.000 people on the streets and have had support not only from all students in the country but also from their teachers, professors, education workers and family. The most amazing thing is that it’s common now to see elderly and even children taken by their parents to the demonstrations; all oppressed people seem to have understood this struggle belongs to everyone. Elderly people watched and suffered through all the atrocities committed by Augusto Pinochet and now see a chance to try to claim the rights they’ve once lost. And parents want their children go to university in a few years, so they see a chance to guarantee their future. There’s a picture that can be found online of a 7-year-old boy in a demonstration, wearing a bandana and holding a sign that says “Con mi papá aprendo a luchar. Después aprenderán mis hijos” (With my dad I learn to fight. So will my children in the future).

Another element that has been getting people’s attention and even attracting more people to the demonstrations are the creative forms these students have been using to express themselves. Costumes, choreographed dancing, performing and acting. A kiss-in was held for more than 100 students in front of a university. Some students have taken turns jogging around Santiago, always holding a black flag that says “Free education now”. A die-in was also held, with people holding signs saying “Morí esperando una educación de calidad” (I died waiting for a good education). A hunger strike has also been held by some students.

One interesting aspect of the student revolution is that some students have identified with the Mapuche indigenous struggle. For centuries, the Mapuche people in Chile have been fighting against government repression, land seizures and attacks on their communities. Many pro-Mapuche posters and slogans can be seen among the student slogans, which shows the respect and solidarity students have for the Mapuches, who have long been discriminated against by Chilean society. The violence against the Mapuche people is also symptomatic of repressive regime seeking to stifle minorities and promote profit-driven industries.

Students have also occupied universities, creating an open space with free lectures and classes given by the some students and professors for the whole population. They have taken over many buildings and have been doing what needs to be done: spreading knowledge for those who are interested in free education, regardless of their socio-economic standing.

The government reaction to these actions has been violent as usual, the “Carabineros” national Chilean police has been suppressing all demonstrations with heavy tear gas, water cannons, and many arrests. Unfortunately, one adolescent has died so far during the riots, 14-year-old Manuel Gutierrez was shot in the chest by a Carabinero. But all this repression has further fueled the movement, and it has been said that more than 70% of the Chilean population supports the strike. Nobody likes seeing their own children be beaten up by the police, and the whole situation has stirred up more anger and frustration against Chilean government.

And now it’s not just a struggle for education, many other workers have been going on strike and participating on the demonstrations, especially hospital and emergency services workers, taxi and truck drivers and copper miners. In late August there was a 48-hour general strike called by an alliance of 80 unions.

So it’s definitely not only a student struggle anymore, they have reached that point of no return that sometimes can be seen in history, when something huge is about to happen. These moments, when a whole society is unsatisfied and decides to go out into the streets and speak out – this is something to be celebrated and praised! As it all started because of educational issues, it’s definitely an incentive to make us think about the educational system in US and around the world under the neoliberal rules: why should we leave knowledge and education under the free market’s control? What effects will it generate in the future? What will children being educated under this regime become?

Save the land from unimaginable threats – tim DeChristopher is in prison

Tim DeChristopher — who as Bidder #70 protested a December 19, 2008 sale of Bureau of Land Management oil and gas leases in Utah’s redrock country by bidding $1.8 million for 22,500 acres although he had no money or intent to buy the leases — was sentenced to 2 years in prison and a $10,000 fine on July 26. He was jailed immediately and is now in a Federal prison in California. His spontaneous and unconventional action brought attention to these illegal sales that were later invalidated. Salt Lake City police arrested 26 protesters who blocked a road after the sentence was announced. Tim got one of the longest prison sentences yet for a peaceful direct action to protest climate change and the corporate/government policies that are causing it. People around the world are organizing to support Tim while he’s in jail, support his appeal, continue his struggle to stop climate change, and promote alternatives to fossil fuels.

Tim read a long inspirational statement before he was sentenced. He noted: “This is not going away. At this point of unimaginable threats on the horizon, this is what hope looks like. In these times of a morally bankrupt government that has sold out its principles, this is what patriotism looks like. With countless lives on the line, this is what love looks like, and it will only grow. The choice you are making today is what side are you on. . . .

“Those who are inspired to follow my actions are those who understand that we are on a path toward catastrophic consequences of climate change. They know their future, and the future of their loved ones, is on the line. And they know we are running out of time to turn things around. The closer we get to that point where it’s too late, the less people have to lose by fighting back. The power of the Justice Department is based on its ability to take things away from people. The more that people feel that they have nothing to lose, the more that power begins to shrivel. The people who are committed to fighting for a livable future will not be discouraged or intimidated by anything that happens here today.”

Write Tim at: Tim DeChristopher #16156-081, PO Box 800, Herlong, CA 96113. Check Bidder70.org for updates. Send donations to Tim DeChristopher Legal Defense Fund c/o Pat Shea 252 S. 1300 E., Suite A Salt Lake City, Utah 84102.

The unpermitted zone – anarchists defy leftism in the Philippines

About 40 anarchists wearing masks vandalized and disrupted downtown Manila near where the Philippine State of the Nation Address was held July 25. Anarchists acting without leaders were small in numbers in comparison to around 8000 authoritarian-leftist protesters, some of whom got food or money to rally in a permitted zone — wishing for their demands in conjunction with corporate media and state institutions who fuck up the lives of millions of people in the archipelago. These are everyday reflected in the unprecedented growth of poverty, ecological destruction, homelessness, unemployment, hunger and other miserable conditions most of the inhabitants of the country endure.

Massive numbers of riot cops with batons and shields faced the authoritarian left in a typical-protest ritual. Every time is another rallying cry of pacifism, persuading the masses to another form of government, wishing it will happen one day. Of course, they could not get near the Hall of Congress at the back of Sandiganbayan (office of the Ombudsman), where the president (Benigno Aquino III) proudly addressed his accomplishments. The state and the left know each other well. Each of them is a ruling and authoritarian form. They are a bunch of leftist politicians building their nests in congressional bodies making laws and profit at the expense of the obedient citizen.

When the anarchist demo began, we reclaimed the streets and disrupted the normal flow of traffic. It was an unexpected moment for most of the authorities. As the cops watched the permitted zone to control the leftist protestors, they were shocked when they saw anarchists marching against the flow of the permitted march. Our main banner read “There is no change in continued reform. Anarchist revolution is the solution. Destroy hierarchy. Defend ecology. End poverty.”

We were loud even without a megaphone with our screams, drums and brave passion. We handed out leaflets and threw paint bombs at buses covered with advertising. We covered the permit zone with graffiti, stickers and circle A symbols directed against the state and capitalist oppression. In front of UCPB bank we set off firecrackers and protested.

Fighting the political death machine by disrupting the State of the Nation Address was a new tactic for us–the local version of disrupting the WTO, JPEPA, ASEAN, APEC and other capitalist trade talks, which are ruining the world and dooming its inhabitants to annihilation and destruction.

It was war from our hearts. It was spontaneity. There were no arrests.

People’s Park – the only thing that can make it work is work

People’s Park

As construction continues on a massive 620-unit University of California (UC) dormitory across from Berkeley’s People’s Park, the whirlwind of controversy that has hovered over the Park since its’ inception got stirred up again in August by the Telegraph Business Improvement and Development Association (TBID). They released a letter calling the park “a detriment to both the business and general community” and claiming the park is “a conduit for criminal activity and [ ] an unsafe, unpleasant place to visit.”

The letter asks UC to use their police force to hassle activists and “homeless” people who use the park and to prohibit free food sharing at the park. It called for a total redevelopment of the park using guidelines laid out by a corporate landscape architect’s design study, commissioned by UC at great expense 4 years ago and immediately relegated to the waste bin by most Berkeley residents. It calls for the destruction of improvements constructed by volunteers and installation of security cameras and lighting. The ultimate goal: gentrification of the park and elimination of non-consumers.

People’s Park in Berkeley has been contested ground since it was joyfully and cooperatively constructed — without permission — on a vacant lot owned by the University of California (UC) in 1969. Thousands of freaks and regular people worked to make an ugly and neglected lot beautiful — an act of creation, hope and reverence for the land and the beings who use it and a rejection of the private property system that values profit over use. After several weeks of construction, the university brought in police to crush the park, leading to rioting, one death and 150 wounded when police fired live ammunition into crowds. Governor Reagan ordered the National Guard to occupy Berkeley. Two years later, rioters destroyed a fence around the site and it was reclaimed as a park.

Since then, the university has always claimed to legally own the land on which the park sits, but many Berkeley residents reject this claim as covered in blood and thus void. Over the years, Berkeley people have practiced “user development” of the park — park users have constructed gardens, a free speech stage, free clothing boxes, bulletin boards, benches and tables, and users try to maintain the park. User development has always been frustrated by the University, which has repeatedly sent in police to tear out improvements. In a dense student neighborhood near campus, the park is one of the few pieces of ground where you don’t have to spend money — open to everyone regardless of wealth or social status. East Bay Food Not Bombs has served in the park five days a week for 20 years, and has become as much a fixture of the culture of Telegraph Avenue as any of the for-profit businesses that operate there.

The TBID letter caused a backlash and was embarrassing to some merchants — perhaps because it expressed some of their secret thoughts too openly. Park activist @RT thinks the letter controversy can be a useful kick in the pants for complacent Berkeley radicals who’ve forgotten about the park:

“After failing to pass an ordinance in the Berkeley City Council last winter prohibiting sitting or lying on the sidewalk (mainly spearheaded by TBID), this most recent failure of the Berkeley bourgeoisie to bully the least fortunate is heartening in several ways. For instance, after a many decade hiatus, People’s Park Volunteer Activist Committee is now holding regular meetings at the Grassroots House, 2022 Blake St., on alternate Thursdays at 7pm. We are also doing work parties in the park on alternate Sunday afternoons.”

He continues: “Every bit of volunteer effort that you invest in People’s Park is ultimately invested in alternatives to capitalism. Because of this, People’s Park in many ways defines Berkeley, gives it personality, uniqueness, vibrancy, and funk (not to mention honesty — a necessary ingredient of free speech.) If People’s Park was an anomaly at its’ inception, it is even more so in the midst of what is now an ultra-corporate urban environment. The fact that it is still there is an utter miracle, and a testament to the tenacity of this community of resistance. This tenacity, and sheer stubborn resistance is the reason why we will never go to a bank to get some money so we could landscape that place neat as a pin.”

@RT adds: “Unfortunately, another defining factor of People’s Park has been disfunctionality, perhaps almost the definition of it . . . and the only thing that can make it work is WORK. We really need to dedicate ourselves to that place if we are going to have a useful organizational structure in place in which to facilitate user-development. This is the time to invest ourselves as anarchist organizers in creating a truly democratic, consensus-based non-profit organization that promotes volunteer activism in People’s Park, now and for the future.”

In another development, anarchists have just begun a weekly anarchist liberated space / assembly every Sunday at noon inspired by the spaces occupied by anarchists in Greece. For info check berkeley.anarchyplanet.org/

Checklist for collapse

Preparing for Collapse

It’s so “now” to talk about collapse, but whether you are into Mayan astrology or just see the writing on the wall…we are in for some kind of big change. How this change will occur is difficult to predict, yet it seems foolish to not consider it and prepare for possibilities. Here’s a short list of some actions that may help.

1. Consider the world without the basic structures we take for granted. How will we cover our basic needs without the flow of petroleum, electricity, dumpsters? How will we eat, drink, stay warm, travel, communicate, heal ourselves?

2. Recognize and create tribal networks that can collectively work to solve challenges. Practice communicating and working together. Build skills and knowledge. Individuals should specialize in diverse necessary skills, information and tool gathering. Choose something valuable to the community and get good at it.

3. Begin now (years ago!) to grow your own food. Learn how and save your seeds! Compost and build up soil. Liberate land to grow food. Tear up concrete. Mulch grassy areas and replace with food crops. Plant fruit and nut trees! Graft fruiting branches on young “fruitless” varieties of city trees. Plant perennial berry and food plants. Get chickens, ducks, rabbits …

4. Consider where your water comes from. What are your alternatives if the tap stops flowing. Could you drill a well? Is your aquifer toxic? Where are local springs, creeks, lakes? Could you distill salty or polluted water? Can you create living filters? Do you have some stored water to give you time to figure it out?

5. Practice foraging. Know local fruit and nut trees. Gather acorns and learn to process them. Learn the edible weeds and local plants. Eat what is in abundance. Learn to prepare rats, snails, roadkill and insects for food.

6. How will you stay warm and cook your food? What will you use for light? Do you have hand saws, axes, sharpeners?

7. Learn first aid. Gather supplies. Develop healing skills. Learn herbal medicine and local healing plants. Learn basic dentistry.

8. Plan for ways to communicate if Facebook is down. Where will you meet or leave messages for your community locally and farther away in emergencies?

9. Begin transforming now, before the crisis, to learn what you will need. Develop methods that will be sustainable without future unavailable inputs.

10. Hone your spiritual manifestation skills. Follow your heart. Love the earth. Simplify, Simplify , Simplify.

Bohemian passivism – a critique of ineffective resistance

For many radicals in the united states, creating an alternative subculture or lifestyle is the preferred choice of resistance to the effects of capitalism*. From greed to over consumption, from destruction of the environment to worker exploitation, a solution will occur with a simple process of alternative consumption or lifestyle. Daily consumers are convinced that where they spend their dollar counts in supporting various causes, or in not supporting others. I maintain this as a liberal (or, more precisely, the left wing of capital) option. Dropout culture, freeganism, veganism, bike culture and other personal boycotts of products still remain as supposedly essential to any resistance**. The intention of these personal boycotts is to create resistance by not participating in the capitalist system. However, I believe this to be similar to other liberal concepts of change. Change is not something structural and based on generalized revolt, rather it is a result of conscientious consumption of alternative-looking products. Whether found in a dumpster or bought at a liberally conscious store, the same process is at work; consumption based on our current economy. You cannot buy capitalism away or garden it away — just as you can’t dumpster it out of existence, ride away from it on a bicycle, or compost it. Revolutionary change must be a qualitative shift in economic organization through generalized revolutionary consciousness and action, through revolutionary praxis.

All of these different ways of surviving within capitalism are not to be glorified or denounced. They are just ways to free up resources or relief of self-induced guilt. We need to use any resources we have and/or acquire to create resistance without limiting ourselves with consumer ethics (or lack of). These lifestyles can never be revolutionary because they rely on capitalism for their own existence.

Additionally, by focusing on alternative consumption habits within capitalism, one puts the blame of the problem on people who have no control of how those products are produced. Those who are simply trying to survive in this fucked up economic system and who couldn’t care less if they purchase X amount of product A or Y amount of product B. When we make judgments on others for their lack of cliquish boycotting, we are doing the work of capital to keep us divided in our resistance and focused on our consumption. This self-inflicted guilt is pacifying any real resistance beyond the constraints of ethical consumption. It is to the advantage of power and capital to have the blame diverted onto the working class, who have to buy fucked up products because they get shit for pay. It is important to live without guilt in personal consumption because the only choices we have are defined by capitalism. Until we bring some kind of revolutionary change, we will have no other choices. To think we have a choice is delusional.

Not only is boycotting non revolutionary, it is counter-revolutionary. It does nothing except obscure the many problems we face as it is structurally connected to an underlying whole. Due to a lack of theoretical commitment, our social confusion about what constitutes being radical and/or pro-revolutionary leads to our implicit assumption that we can have a consumer-driven revolution. There is no anti-capitalist negation in that sentiment and as such, it can only confuse potential militants away from revolutionary understanding. There are only two ways out of capitalism — revolution or death.

One may respond that a result of lifestyle boycotts is that you don’t have to work as much and, hence, are not producing the surplus necessary for capital reproduction. This is a problem because one does not take this position from a bird’s eye view. Not working is an impossibility for most people. Only a select minority can survive without working. This is not practical anti-capitalism, it is just temporary survival for a minority, with no threat to the whole problem of capital. Unless it is generalizeable (such as the case of generalized abandonment of work), it does not have the potential to cause structural change. Additionally, the surplus thrown out is nowhere near enough in volume to feed, clothe, or house the entirety of people. Most necessities must be produced, as they don’t materialize in dumpsters. That is why it will not sustain any type of revolt. This reality is often ignored by people in all likelihood because they secretly or unconsciously wish to keep the surplus for themselves, while living off the system and contributing less than average.

If this is the case, not only is alternative consumption misguided, it is actively co-opting any sort of actual resistance into a liberal understanding of the world, and potentially making the most militant of us into passive critics. This backs up our claim that alternative consumption and boycotting are not revolutionary and/or pro-revolutionary. They lead us into passivity with the system because we have found a nice escape. Just as the addict is able to coexist with daily misery, the radical is able to coexist with capital.

This passivity seems to have leeched into our lives where we reproduce the same behaviors and repeat the same seemingly-radical slogans while showing nothing of substance. Our easy survival off surplus production then contributes to our complicit apathy of the world. We forget in our privilege what we are against because we have no material connection to our suffering and exploitation, hence, the lack of need for struggle. Our very boycotting-as-struggle results in a boycott of struggle leading to pathetic notions of waiting for the “end” in whatever manifestation. To take the stance that pushing for anti-capitalist resistance and anti-hierarchical struggle is of no importance while waiting for the revolution and/or Armageddon and/or peak oil and/or global disaster and/or 2012, is a very privileged stance. We who are in prison, who are being deported, who are being shot, starving, suffering from mental illness, domestic violence, rent, bombs, torture, debt, assimilation, gentrification, rape, assault, houselessness, enslavement, etc. cannot simply wait idle for things to get better. To be passive to our oppression is to allow our world and its entire constituency — including ourselves, to be exploited, while apathetically waiting for some hypothetical end which may never come. None of us are free until all of us are free.

In conclusion, the best personal boycott that you can do is to kill yourself, and that won’t change anything.

In Death and Suffering,

We are Legion for we are everywhere.

*For my purposes, I define capitalism as a specific stage in a commodity-producing society characterized by exploitation of those who work for wage-labor by the purchaser of their labor-power (or capitalist) selling the workers product/service for more than their wage. This mode of exploitation is the form of social surplus production/appropriation in capitalism. That surplus produced by the workers self-expands through re-investment in machines, factories, or other financial assets, taking over new industries and countries providing the system with the need for competition and perpetual growth. Everything else falls into place in attempts to maintain this from the existence of the state to contain revolutionary class conflict or brutally expand markets to the non-capitalist world through warfare to financiers simply moving around money while skimming off extra into their pockets. This is the current economic system of united states and the rest of the colonized world. This means I define capitalism as based off of work. It is necessary to add that I do not define capitalism as mere greed or the profit motive as many do. These are merely bad manners in which capitalism expresses itself.

**For this article, we will define important terms as follows in order to avoid arguing semantics and confusing, implicit assumptions.

Freeganism – The practice of buying less for whatever reason as a response against the harmful effects of capitalism through some subversive means such as primarily dumpster diving, minor theft, road kill diets, squatting, charities, alternative “green” transportation (biking, vegetable oil fuel, train hopping)

Dropout culture – Not wanting to participate in the ‘system’ and, consequently, buying less or looking for other means of survival ‘outside’ the ‘system’.

Veganism – Boycotting animal products and by-products for ethical, dietary, environmental, or any other reason.

Suggested Related Readings

http://libcom.org/library/rethinking-crimethinc

http://crimethinc.com/texts/selected/purged.php

Feral Faun: Steal Back Your Life

Learning from Exarchia – Greek Anarchist Infrasturcutre and spacial appropriation

This essay was read aloud at a presentation titled: “What Can We Learn from the Greek Anarchist Space?” The event was held at the Long Haul Info Shop in Berkeley as part of a series of events called Brainstorm which aim to bring the anarchist circles of the Bay Area tighter together through coherent dialogue, discussion, and debate. This piece was specifically about a small neighborhood in Athens, Greece called Exarchia Square, which is a hub for rebellious and comradely anarchist socializing.

Tonight I am going to tell an anecdote of walking around the anarchist neighborhood in Athens called Exarchia Square with a young girl just like me. I spent a short two weeks in Athens during a sad time of much exterior conflicts due to fascists, austerity measures, and the city wide attempt at direct democracy. For this reason I have no first hand accounts of the perceived Athens reality, which includes riot, the semi nightly ring of tiny bombs, and playful skirmishes with the police around the polytechnic. Based on my understanding of the Greek space it would be considered betrayal to tell you second hand stories. Interpretation whether positive, negative, glorifying, or from the mouths of newscasters is a Greek Anarchist’s worst nightmare. So instead we will discuss the living spaces. That which holds the: “the conceptual, affective and cultural plane of the insurgency.” As put by The Flesh Machines in their text: Spoonful of Sugar.

I am hoping that some of my observations will inspire you, will bore you, might irritate you, and from there we can begin to dream of the question I was asked by my travel partner when we arrived in Exarchia square, shoulders laden with heavy backpacks, “Do we want this?”

I met Lily where it seems you meet up with everybody and anybody, the statue.

“Malibu! No one has given you a tour of upper Exarchia yet? What the fuck is wrong with these people!?” She grabbed my arm and we headed up hill. We hadn’t yet walked a block when she ducked into a coffee shop, “Wait here.” She came out with a letter in a plain, white envelope. Her first name was scribbled on top of it. “We use this café as sort of a renegade post office where comrades can leave each other notes.” She pocketed the letter to be read later and I gushed over what a great idea that was. I would start immediately when I got home seeking out the best possible spot for our very own bay area renegade post office. I thought a good place for us all to do this might be The Long Haul.

She said that Exarchia used to be harder, but that since the word spread about how cool it was hip restaurant owners, students, and tourists had swarmed in like flies to a light bulb. “We tried to smash up the restaurants and all that, but they never budged.” Her resolve to this problem was one of our stops: the anarchist owned bar. Later, I would spend some nights there drinking, arguing, and probably doing a little too much head nodding and smiling with the bands of kids pouring out of the night’s assemblies and Marxist reading groups. I think we need a bar too, but in the meantime it seems Radio Bar and Eli’s Mile High Club are ripe for the colonizing.

Next we went to what is famously known as “the benches.” When I pictured “the benches” and their surrounding alleyways I imagined a super crucial and expansive hangout zone. I arrived to find two and a half cement blocks with no backrest nor green space. Lily explained what happens here, “Anytime you walk by you can find anarchists sitting here. Except now, those people don’t know why they are sitting there. Keeping walking.” She turned toward the adjacent wall, which was lined with outdoor dining, raised her voice and pointed, “Up until recently this whole alleyway was ours, and covered in paint too! When this restaurant opened they ruined everything. Everything!” The benches of Patission made a huge impression on me. Everyone thinks the Greeks are so lucky because they have much more conquered living space, as opposed to the U.S. where every plot of earth has been tilled and marked for sale, sequestering any opportunity of play for profit by the enemy. We think that because of this we have no option but our couches and the couches of our friends. We think we have no territory. Yes, the Greek anarchist space is blessed with abandoned buildings, universities, squares, and parks, but it is also a network of tiny, hidden corners that are being taken advantage of. And we, like them, have city benches; designed for boring ok cupid dates, or a long talk between a father and his son or maybe for spectating a game of basketball. That should no longer be their only use.

I want to learn to occupy by lounging. Some of you should join me, and instead of using the benches, bleachers, storefronts, and art walks as intended we can take to lounging while saying and doing whatever we please, asserting ourselves as freaks, queers, and insurrectionists and making deals amongst no one but ourselves.

After leaving the benches we tramped up and up, weaving through the infamously skinny streets of Athens. She took me to the Greek version of Long Haul Info shop where she realized, “Oh goody! It is Wednesday they will be serving food.” When we entered there was but one, lone man and he didn’t seem to want to talk. The place was as such: table overflowing with outdated flyers, a well stocked library, a dirty kitchen, couches, the usual, and the promised Wednesday dinner had disappeared into the night. I loved it. What could possibly top that! We kept walking and in typical Mediterranean fashion a car whizzed past and almost hit me. I jumped out of the road and onto the sidewalk. Lily didn’t skip a beat in the story she was telling, looked over at me and said, “Oh, and here, we walk in the middle of the street.” When she said that I realized how well followed it was, as my brain collected flashbacks of others walking in the middle of the streets of Exarchia. The arbitrariness of this rule warmed my heart. In fact there is an actual initiative by the ministry of public order to create “bureaus of confronting incidents of arbitrariness” which makes all the silly, nihilistic gestures of the anarchist space seem so much delightful and appreciated.

The top of the hill called strefi is too good to share. The sun was setting over a 360 view of Athens, the acropolis well lit from below. Lily and I were really starting to get each other – trading ideas and working out stuff that had been stuck up in our heads about the anarchist space – me as an outsider and her as an insider. My presence allowed her to look at this space as if she too were foreign to it. “This place, this huge, gigantic city, is the craziest, craziest city, it is a teeming monstrous thing, look at it.” Athens is pure science fiction to look at from above. All the houses are squished and stacked very close. They are almost all made of cement and almost entirely white. She looked at me and giggled sinisterly, “it would be exciting to destroy it all soon…but that is stressful to think about because look how huge it is. It just goes on and on! Where to start?” She unzipped her cumbersome backpack and pulled out a black hoodie. “I cannot go a day without bringing my damn spare change of clothes with me just in case. It feels like it will never stop.” Her exasperation and her preparedness were a perfect mix. It reminded me that sometimes I feel like the pressure to be fierce, to understand what it would mean to be fierce, is the hardest part of being fierce. I told her about how I was reading this wacky Deuleze shit that Bart had sent to me punk mail style from California with Darla whom passed it to me earlier that day. I tried to relate it, “Deleuze says that each individual being is a multiplicity and has the force of an entire pack of wolves, that we are all individual wolfing.” She waved her hands wildly in the air, “No, no, no! That is too much, too much I cannot be a whole, entire pack of wolves all by myself.” We decided that it could be okay to be a definition-less becoming-animal band or pack with an animalistic disregard for the future and no scientific characteristics which required strict classification as in a scene or platform that asked for undying devotion to a prescribed ideology. In the end becoming many wolves was too much responsibility, so we decided that we are each a pack of dwarves, or maybe a lousing. And that kind of quelled the anxiety of overlooking this overcrowded, cement house maze that went on non-stop until the mountains in the east and the sea in the south.

Once the sky was finally dark we found our way to Scaramagra, the lower Exarchia squat that is the closest to the occupied Polytechnic University. Even though Lily didn’t live there she kept calling it her squat, and had a set of keys. I think this is one reason their squats survive as long as they do- they are not just homes, they are meeting places, and there is a band, a crew that overlooks it collectively. This might also be why things we describe as meetings are less stressful there than here. People come to the squat sometime in the night, the fridge is full of dollar beers and often hours after it was supposed to start people get around to discussing some intended topic or another. Then slowly discussion will appear to be facilitated but its not. Things are coming up as if off an agenda but they is most certainly no agenda. Each person speaks until they have said what they needed, no timers, and no deadlines. It drags on and on. There is no process for meetings in Greece. In so many ways they are inefficient, scattered, but they find a rhythm eventually, and rhythm has more possibilities than being efficient because of guidelines. Yes, I am suggesting no rules. No stack, no facilitator, no agenda.

From any direction you walk towards Exarchia, you know you are getting closer by the concentrations of graffiti. While the spray painted walls are more often than not really smooth, a-political tagging with good hand style, one does not have to walk a block without seeing a bright menu one or two or three ACABs, cops-pigs-murderers, sloppy circle As, and witty slogans of all kinds. This paint sets the tone of the uncontrollable youth and insurgents that use the grounds as home base. There is barely a wall, storefront, marble pillar, or statue that has been left to appear as it was designed to appear. Where there is room, posters with long, rambly texts are wheat-pasted in place describing something relevant to the anarchist space.

It is not all glory. Exarchia square, like our neighborhoods, has sadness. There are poverty stricken and homeless drug addicts, cops, and tourists. Not to mention a fair share of other undesirables: drum circles, hot topic like stores, and bratty teenage boys. Nonetheless, Exarchia lacks a certain sadness that I feel strongly in West Oakland where most of my friends and I live. It lacks the sadness of guilt and the baggage of self-identifying as evil, white gentrifiers.

What would it feel like to personally put fire to this blame? I propose that the design of gentrification is a false term. Prior to my arrival in my neighborhood decisions about how that neighborhood should change and look were made. Developers, urban planners, city officials and the cops imposed behavioral constraints in order to raise property value. Yes, there are initiatives that we hipsters take to play along. But there is an interaction between individual decisions and how the space changes based on precise state planning. This could look like community gardens, bike paths, and graffiti buffing, rapid foreclosures. This manicuring of cities leads to the isolation of certain cells of the population and the creation of ghettos.

An extreme example of this type of planning is that to dirty up Exarchia and create schisms amongst subcultures the police chase junkies into the park that lines the occupied polytechnic. One morning my friend said she entered the square to find that all night long the police had been putting every junkie in Athens in the square and there were 600-700 at least.

By allowing these designs to continue as patterns we are abiding to a social contract of the prevailing democratic majority. Maybe instead, we can become a minority of comrades who insist on carrying the autonomous initiative to move forward and attack. To borrow nothing from Athens but its bravery. Then we can use that to create our own thing, something that is big and new, something that has never been done.

On my last night before leaving Greece my travel partner and I were enjoying the usual rowdy, crowded atmosphere of Exarchia. I realized that the question he asked me on arrival he had never had the chance to answer cause I had been ranting too much about how I didn’t get Exarchia and didn’t want it and all this grumpy stuff (Which in days was replaced by a crush like admiration and longing).

“Hey! What about you?” I asked.

“What, about me?”

“Do you want this?”

He took his usual, pre-emptive breath, “Yes, the time has come to say things without mincing words: yes.”

When an idea is contagious – various spaces festering in anarch & cooperation

When folks gather together and decide to open up a radical bookshop, a bike coop, a warehouse for shows, or an underground art workshop, they’re creating the new world we need right now. These projects are oriented around meeting human needs — and especially our need for joy, meaning, and connection with others — not the just profiting off someone else and piling up more wealth for the boss.

In August, a meeting of 6 existing and 2 emerging anarchist spaces in the Bay Area to discuss resource sharing, joint publicity and events attracted more than 20 participants — evidence of the passion and energy that goes into radical spaces. Stay tuned for opening of the Holdout at 23rd and San Pablo in Oakland soon.

Here are some other new projects we got wind of too late to include in the 2012 organizer, plus some corrections. Check for more updates and corrections at slingshot.tao.ca.

Libertalia Autonomous Space – Providence, RI

A new Autonomous space with a lending library, free skool, internet access and meeting/event space. They host Icarus Providence and IWW. 280 Broadway, Room 200, Providence, RI 02903, 401-680-6264, libertaliapvd.org, libertalia401@gmail.com

Dream City Collective – Washington, DC

A worker-owned coop thrift store, book and literature store, silk screen project and events space. 5525 Illinois Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20011 dreamcitythrift.org

Burning Books – Buffalo, NY

A brand new radical bookstore with movies, speakers and events. Open Wed-Sun 11 to 7. 420 Connecticut St. Buffalo, NY 14213, 716-881-0791, burningbooksbuffalo.com.

TOAD Bicycle Cooperative – Kalamazoo, MI

A bike coop and infoshop in a basement space with a tool library, information on building and maintaining bicycles, free internet, and bikes that are for sale or for folks to build. TOAD stands for Teach, Organize, Assemble, Disseminate Information. They have 200 members / volunteers! 817 Hoffman Ct. Kalamazoo, MI 49007 269-779-2888

The Furnace – Albany, NY

A collective space with shows, art installations, workshops and events. They host Food Not Bombs and a silkscreen lab. 84 Grand Street Albany NY 12202

Phoenix Rising / Bad Egg Books – Tulsa, OK

An anarchist bookstore in the basement of a cafe/deli/grocery with a community garden and a free store. 306 S. Phoenix Ave. Tulsa, OK 74127 918-582-5344, phoenixrisinggrocery. blogspot.com, 1badegg.blogspot.com

Troy Bike Rescue – Troy, NY

A volunteer-run community bike space with DIY bike repair nights and bike education. Open Mon & Wed evenings and for events. 3280 6th Ave. North Troy, NY 12180 troybikerescue.org/

Sanctuary for Independent Media – Troy, NY

A community media production facility in an historic former church that hosts screenings, production and performance facilities, trainings in media production and a meeting space for artists, activists and independent media makers. 3361 6th Ave. North Troy, NY 12180 mediasanctuary.org/

Maryland Food Collective – College Park, MD

A not-for-profit food co-operative located on the University of Maryland campus in College Park right outside Washington DC that’s been going for 30 years. Drop-in volunteers can get food credit at the store if you’re traveling through the area and need some eats. B0203 Adele H. Stamp Student Union, University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742 301-314-8089

Berkeley Student Food Cooperative – Berkeley, CA

A new food coop on the UC Berkeley campus. 2440 Bancroft Way, #102 Berkeley, CA 94704 510-845-1985

Austin Yellow Bike Project Shop – Austin, TX

A community bike shop with tools and volunteers who help people fix bikes. They’re at a 3/4 acre site with a community garden. They also distribute free yellow bikes in public locations, but that part of their mission has become secondary (and it sounds like many of the yellow bikes disappeared . . .) 1216 Webberville Road, Austin, TX, 78721 austinyellowbike.org

The Front Stoop – Lincoln, NE

A new independent community bookstore. 860 S 27th Street Lincoln, NE 68510 (402) 474-6630

Brave New Books – Austin, TX

A bookstore focused on suppressed information – they appear to be Ron Paul supporters and/or libertarians. A reader wrote in to suggest we list them – let us know what you think. 1904 Guadalupe, Austin, TX, 78705 512-480-2503 bravenewbookstore.com

Mississippi Immigrants’ Rights Alliance (MIRA) – Jackson, MS

Not a space – they are a non-profit that a reader suggested we list. 612 N. State St. Jackson, MS 39202 www.yourmira.org

Commonweal Collection – Bradford, UK

A volunteer-based lending library with books and films focused on peace and disarmament, environmentalism and the green movement, non-violent philosophy and practice, human rights, development and regional issues, anti-racism, identity issues, social and economic alternatives, etc. c/o J.B. Priestley Library
University of Bradford, 
Bradford, 
West Yorkshire 
BD7 1DP Tele: 01274 233404

Corrections to 2012 Slingshot Organizer

Oops – we didn’t hear back from a variety of spaces when we were updating the radical contact list, so they got left out of the 2012 organizer and/or we got their info wrong. We should have listed the following places:

• Las Vegas Zine Library, 520 Fremont St (inside of Emergency Arts!) 702 773 6484; mail: Po Box 72071, Las Vegas, NV 89170 Email-lvzinelibrary@gmx.com, www.lvzinelibrary.blogspot.com

• We left Blast-O-MatArt Gallery in Denver out of the list by mistake – they are at Blast-o-mat Art Gallery 2935 W. 7th Ave. Denver, CO 80204 manofdoom@live.com.

• We left City Heights Free Skool off the list: 4246 Wightman St. San Diego, CA 92105.

• We printed the wrong address for Papercut Zine Library – they are now at 1299 Cambridge Street, Cambridge MA 02139.

• The First Avenue coop in San Diego has a new name and address: The Mad House, 3579 Madison Avenue, San Diego, CA 92116.

• We listed the wrong address for Big Idea books because they moved. They are now at 4812 Liberty Ave. Pittsburgh, PA 15224. Same phone #.

• We printed the wrong postal code for the Edmonton Small Press Association in Alberta, Canada – the correct one is T6E 4E3.

• We listed the wrong address for Barricade Infoshop in Melbourne, Australia – they are really at 670 High St Thornbury, 3071 Melbourne Australia. The PO Box we published no longer exists, either. Their email address is barricadeinfoshop@riseup.net and website is barricade.org.au.

• We left out a listing for The Freedom Shop anarchist infoshop at 162 Riddiford St, Newtown, Wellington, New Zealand.