Category Archives: Issue #121: Summer 2016

San Francisco Bay Area squatting scene report – East Bay Homes Not Jails is back at it again

By A. Iwasa

The decline of squatting in the East Bay has been one of the most heartbreaking signs of its rapid gentrification. I believe, without a doubt, this is a critical time for people to stand up to the moneyed interests by doing things such as squatting. Like Slingshot itself, whose roots are in the land struggle of People’s Park and the Haste St. and Barrington Co-op squats, we need to struggle for space or we will surely lose it. East Bay Homes Not Jails (HnJ) can be one of the many ways that we fight.

East Bay HnJ is a collective of squatters and squat supporters that meets Wednesdays at 7PM at the Oakland Omni Commons. Its goal is to open and enter as many vacant houses as possible, and keep them open as long as possible. Its politics are anti-oppression, and those who display oppressive behaviors such as racism, sexism and/or homophobia will be asked to leave meetings.

I first became aware that a new East Bay HnJ had formed around New Year’s Day, 2016. I was living in a rather large “commune” in the Mission District of San Francisco (SF) with two other people, and was so miserable I had taken to an audio book to help me fall asleep at night and get my mental wheels turning in the mornings. I had come to the East Bay to celebrate New Year’s Eve by goofing around with comrades, and saw a flyer for HnJ meetings at the Long Haul Infoshop.

Those mental wheels got turning the old fashioned way, and after my reluctant return to SF, I got my final pushes to get back to the serious work of the East Bay between the commune’s creepy “guru’s” attempts at micro-management, and loose travel plans with a freight train rider I met at Voku, a semi-monthly free meal in SF similar to Food Not Bombs in spirit, the next Friday. I packed up my gear and split for the East Bay.

The deadline for Slingshot #120 was also coming up, so I figured worst case scenario: I wouldn’t leave the East Bay after all and would be sleeping out again soon, but I had another newspaper to look forward to helping get out and my living arrangement wasn’t worth all the hassle.

Of course I hoped for a best-case scenario: getting back into a great squat with another issue of Slingshot on the horizon and all the East Bay’s other happenings. As might be expected, reality was somewhere in the middle.

Frankly, squatting in Oakland and working on Slingshot had been the two reasons I had come to the East Bay in the fall of 2013; having hitchhiked, rode freight trains and walked here from the White Castle Timber Sale Blockade near Myrtle Creek in Oregon.

I had been following the squatting scene in the East Bay for years in the pages of Slingshot, and though I had very mixed feelings about it, I wanted to come see things for myself. Similarly, I felt worst case scenario: I’d still have something to write an article about and then it would be back off to Arizona sooner rather than later, where my year had started.

At that time there had been an East Bay HnJ, but it had folded by the time I got to town. There was also an HnJ in SF, and some of its veterans are the folks who initiated the current East Bay HnJ. Though the squatting scenes in SF and Oakland are very different, the comrades are pretty cool and they are very skilled in the basics of scouting vacant houses, cracking them open and navigating the legal waters of occupying them.

Most of them are tenants now, but have been busy supporting squatters such as the Land Action 4 and other land struggles such as that saving the Gill Tract, supporting the Ohlone re-occupation last year and the civil disobedience earlier this year that stopped construction destroying the farm.

Also they are eager to share the previously mentioned skills; weekly meetings frequently include skill shares such as lock picking and key making.

Plus if more people get involved with the meetings and keep coming, we could start having more Away Team Missions where new squats can be scouted and cracked open.

At the check in of every meeting people are asked if they are housed and available for an Away Team Mission that night. The only place I’ve squatted in the Bay Area this year I was brought to through these meetings.

We also have a strong tendency towards sharing food and goofing around the way comrades can when you actually get along, so participating in HnJ has helped improve my life a great deal even if I’m still mostly homeless.

As one of the comrades told me about HnJ around 2013 in SF, “All I did was crack open houses and cook Food Not Bombs.” Sounds like a dream to me! But with the old membership requirements of showing up to three meetings in a row, then half of the subsequent meetings, I’m the only one who has joined the new collective since it started towards the end of last year.

Please consider joining, or starting your own HnJ Collective, and letting us know how things go for you all. eastbayhnj@riseup.net

A prisoner’s perspective – Black Lives Matter

by Asar Imhotep Amen, Ph.D. (aka T. T. Thomas)

“One of the most tragic beliefs widely shared by Blacks throughout the world is that white people need or want us or will treat us equally and share societal resources with us. Faith continues to prevail in spite of overwhelming evidence, which disputes this belief. Blacks continue to ignore the irrefutable truth that, in a racist social system, all institutions will reflect, protect and sustain values that are consistent with racism/white supremacy. This should not be considered surprising or profound since all institutions serve to perpetuate the social theory of the group that created them.” – Dr. Bobby E. Wright, African- Centered Psychologist

Sometimes, different people can independently arrive at the same conclusion. I didn’t start and haven’t been affiliated with the Black Lives Matter movement, but I respect their analysis of the problem and their desire to end it. Around the same time as #BLM was starting, I, like other people, was thinking along the same lines about what the fundamental problem was behind seemingly rampant police murders of Black people. And for once, I didn’t feel alone in centering the problem on what Black life means. If Black life doesn’t mean anything, the USA would be a genocidal slave state in which the killing and punishment of Black people is meted out and widely considered acceptable, regardless of guilt or innocence, gender, socioeconomic status, or other factors. And that’s exactly what it is.

#BLM (Black Lives Matter) is a grassroots coalition-based social movement started in the United States by Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors, and Opal Tometi in the wake of several unpunished (or lightly punished) incidents of police killing unarmed Black people, including the killing of Oscar Grant and Kenneth Harding in Oakland, as well as Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, Renisha McBride, and Michael Brown. While it consists of people with diverse viewpoints and tactics, the movement’s central aim is to oppose the systematic normalization of Black peoples’ deaths, which makes violence against Black people more likely and more acceptable. #BLM began as a social media movement, but has quickly become an on-the-ground social movement with many different actors and organizations that aren’t necessarily connected as one organization but have the same general aims.

Actions and policies of the state result in the disproportionate killing, injuring, and incarceration of Black people, but the struggle for Black life to matter is not just about opposing policing practices against Black men, boys, & girls. It is also about how domestic abuse victim Marissa Alexander was not allowed to defend herself against her abusive husband under the same “stand your ground” defense in Florida law that George Zimmerman used to get exonerated in the killing of Trayvon Martin. It is also about how Black transwoman Cece McDonald was prosecuted and convicted for defending herself against a hostile and racist group of white youths in Minneapolis. It is also about how broader political practices, like the mass disenfranchisement of Florida and Ohio Black voters, the shutting down of water services to Detroit residents, and the anemic federal response to Hurricane Katrina in 2005, show a remarkable disregard for Black lives.

Because the nature of racism is not just prejudice but also the power to enforce prejudice, punishing or educating those who commit violence against Black people without justification cannot address these problems individually. It’s too big a problem. The conservative Wall Street Journal reported that in 2011 NYPD had more stops of young Black men in Manhattan than there are young Black men in Manhattan. And at least one former NYPD officer has stepped forward to say that he was specifically ordered to stop young Black males at every opportunity. But he is just one officer, and NYPD is just one department. Police officers everywhere have broad latitude to stop anyone they suspect may be involved in a crime and use that latitude to systematically target Black and Latino men and boys. The problem is deeper than any one department and it’s “stop-and-frisk” policies.

For one thing, it’s everywhere, not just New York. One report described anti-Black racism as “baked into” police practices. “The root of the problem,” says #BLM co-founder Alicia Garza, “is anti-Black racism.” In other words, there is a unique, deeply ingrained, and pervasive kind of racism that American society at large feels toward Black people that goes a long way toward explaining these disparities as well as many others. What does Blackness mean to America? There are not-so-subtle hints everywhere.

-Black people make up approximately 12 percent of the US population, but constitute more than 40 percent of the prison population.

-White Americans use illegal drugs at rates that are comparable to, or well in excess of, the rates at which Black Americans use illegal drugs, but Black Americans are incarcerated for drug offenses 10 times more.

-In 2012, police and security forces killed a Black american at least once every 28 hours. According to another report, “Black teens were 21 times more likely to be shot dead [by police] than their white counterparts”.

The problem is not just that a de facto police state is ready to descend on Black people at any time, but also, more broadly, that the entire population of African Americans is perceived by the broader society (1) as a potential threat and (2) as unworthy of being listened to when we protest through legal, institutional, or other means. This problem must be viewed as a systemic one, not just an individual or institutional one, and it must be addressed on multiple levels, including not only institutionally or interpersonally but especially in our unconscious thought, the deeply ingrained thought processes that are reflected by our actions before we even have the opportunity to think. Before we can change our thinking to make Black lives matter, we must truly understand that the problem of Black lives not mattering is a problem of meaning that isn’t just individual or institutional but structural. It is rooted in what America is.

America needs Black lives to not matter. Due to centuries of negative images and stereotypes about Africans and racial Blackness, in the collective psyches of the United States, throughout the Americas, and across the world Blackness means, as the late psychiatrist Dr. Frantz Fanon said, “the lower emotions, the baser inclinations, the dark side of the soul”. A field of study within cognitive psychology known as implicit cognition (or implicit bias) finds quantifiable evidence of what Black people have been knowing for better of 1,000 years (had anyone with power ever bothered to listen): that deeply rooted negative attitudes towards people of African descent are held widely across the American population, even among those who claim to be non racist, even when other possible causes for these attitudes (like socioeconomic class or education level) are taken into consideration — and these attitudes tend to increase people’s willingness to use violence (interpersonal, institutional, or state) and punishment against Black people.

One recent quantitative study from Stanford, titled “Not Yet Human”, shows that people of African descent are commonly associated with apes at an unconscious level of mental processing. According to the study” “this Black-ape association alters visual perception and attention, and it increases endorsement of violence against Black suspects. In an archival study of actual criminal cases, the authors show that news articles written about Blacks who are convicted of capital crimes are more likely to contain ape-relevant language than news articles written about white convicts. Moreover, those who are implicitly portrayed as more apelike in these articles are more likely to be executed by the state than those that are not.” This finding agrees with the earlier work of Stanford literature professor Sylvia Wynter, who found that police in Los Angeles in the 1980s and early 1990s commonly used the incident code “NHI” — meaning “no humans involved” — for incidents involving African Americans. While many people acknowledge this police code have been racist, the Stanford quantitative study shows that even people who don’t think themselves racist have the same thoughts.

Other studies show that children of African descent are believed to be older, more mature, and less innocent than their white counterparts are, something that might explain why teachers suspend African American preschoolers at triple the rate of white preschoolers and why police and prosecutors are more likely to charge African American youths with harsher crimes or in adult court than they are in cases involving non-Black youths. It might also explain why 12-year-old youth Tamir Rice was shot dead by police at a playground in Cleveland, Ohio, while holding a toy gun, whereas white youths are free to regularly play with toy guns in their neighborhoods.

Another set of studies (“shooter bias” studies) shows that Black males holding cell phones are, on quick glance, believed to be holding guns, while white males are believed to be holding cell phones. These studies also found that people would be quicker to draw and shoot their weapons when faced with a Black male who might be holding a cell phone or a gun, compared with a white man in the same position. These studies might explain why plainclothes police shot unarmed immigrant Amadou Diallo after he reached for his wallet presumably thinking the officers wanted to see his identification or were trying to rob him.

Still other studies have shown that a stereotypically-named hypothetical Black defendant will receive a higher rate of conviction and harsher degree of punishment for the same crime than will a stereotypically-named hypothetical white defendant, even when identical evidence is presented.

A hypothetical job applicant with an African-American-sounding name is less likely to receive further consideration when a hypothetical job applicant with a white-sounding name is granted further consideration, even when both have the exact same resume except for the name at the top. An applicant for housing or mortgage will be similarly screened based on assumptions about whether they are Black or not, thereby shaping geographic segregation patterns.

African-American employees are more likely to be evaluated poorly by employers than are white employees.

Black NFL players are required to return from injury sooner than their white counterparts with the same injury. Other studies show that the medical profession is slower to give aggressive treatment to African Americans and less sensitive to the pain of African American patients.

Regardless of whether one stands on the side of those addressing the problem, like the founders of #BLM, describing the problem, like researchers at Stanford, or even denying the problem or defending police murders of Black people, the central problem is not a swirling morass of practices to be altered. It is a structure. These problems of anti-Black racism are not simply problems of individual or institutional practice or prejudice because they are repeated across widely disparate individuals and institutions with the same independent results. The psyche of anti-Black racism is not individual or institutional. Both the psyche and the institution are networked together as part of one dynamic, fluid, and massive structure. The psyche, like the institution, is a structure. The problems of Black life mattering are hence fundamentally problems of structural power. In other words, structural racism encompasses the entire system of white supremacy, diffused and infused in all aspects of society, including our history, culture, politics, economics, and our entire social fabric. Structural racism is the most profound and pervasive form of racism-all other forms of racism (e.g. institutional, interpersonal, internalized, etc.) emerges from structural racism.

The key indicators of structural racism are inequalities in power, access, opportunities, treatment, and policy impacts and outcomes, whether they are intentional or not. Structural racism is more difficult to locate in a particular institution because it involves the reinforcing effects of multiple institutions and cultural norms, past and present, continually producing new, and re-producing old forms of racism.

The problem of Black life mattering extends to unconscious levels of thinking and is not only deeply rooted, but also widely diffused and reinforced through multiple networks of power. It is therefore quite challenging to uproot without a massive change in the social structure that abolishes the ways that both personal and institutional practice, as well as individual and social frames of meaning, are tethered to the genocidal slave empire of the “modern” world, the United States. If we only think about the practice of prejudice without centering the ways that all racism derives from structural racism — what I call anti-Blackness — we will be at pains to explain why there is so deep a reserve of animosity that can result in normalized violence toward Black people (and people of color in general) and why the mass loss of Black life does not constitute a national emergency or a cause for widespread grief. True dedication to the principle that Black Lives Matter will require a revolution using all means necessary to end the structure of anti-Blackness.

Racism/white supremacy in America is deeply rooted in a global system of settler-colonial capitalism, land theft, mass murder (or if you prefer the sanitized euphemism of the term “genocide”) racial chattel slavery and its consequences. White privilege is the manifestation, consequence, and flip-side of Black oppression and exploitation, attacks on indigenous sovereignty, and the Eurocentric imposition of private property relations on both land and people is to extract profit through domination. This is a global Empire, and it is an empire here within the US itself as well. White supremacy, white privilege, and racism can only be uprooted by overturning that system of settler colonialism and imperialism, here in the US and throughout the world. Nothing short of decolonization, self-determination of oppressed and colonized people, and revolutionary social, political, economic and ecological transformation of entire society will do.

“Powerful people never educate the victims of their power in how to take their power away from them… the ideology of our “former” slave masters cannot save us. We will not be truly liberated until we are the main instruments of our liberation”. – Dr. John Henrick Clarke

Correspondence:

Troy T. Thomas, H-01001,

CSP-LAC A1-137-UP

PO Box #4430

Lancaster, CA 93539

Let’s Organize Anarchist – check out this proposal for a yearly conference

By Ian Mayes

There has been some talk occasionally about forming a new nation-wide anarchist organization. This is a project that definitely has caught my attention and interest, and I do think that some of the points that are made in this appeal are valid ones. At the same time I am also a bit skeptical, for I have been around long enough to see countless national and regional anarchist organizations come and go. This has all got me thinking though about the topic of formal nation-wide anarchist organizations. The thought of repeating the same old kinds of attempts that have been tried in the past does not appeal to me – whereas trying out something new does.

The real value for having a formal anarchist organization, I think, is that of providing a means for different anarchists to meet up face-to-face and having a venue for people to find folks to work together with on common projects that they all believe in. The focus of an anarchist organization should not be to provide content that reflects the beliefs and views of everyone who is associated with the organization, but rather to be a networking hub for anarchists to find each other. Having a publication is not necessary, nor is having a formal membership structure.

The idea that an anarchist organization should have ideological unity and should have common positions that everybody agrees on ultimately leads to frustrating endeavors which become a big discouraging waste of people’s time and energy. Even the term “anarchist” itself can be left undefined, although if some people want to meet up to discuss that they are welcome to do so. The key thing is for anarchists to be connecting with other anarchists, and from these connections the individual anarchists can create whatever common projects they want.

I also want to emphasize the importance of this organization being based upon people having real-life face-to-face connections with each other. In this age of online digital connections being so pervasive I think that one of the biggest barriers for anarchists now to confront is the profound social alienation of our modern society. Much of the mutual understanding and trust that is necessary for enacting real solidarity and mutual aid is lost now thanks to an over-reliance and over-emphasis on digital technology. So a new anarchist organization would still use all the modern online trappings – a web-site, Facebook and Twitter accounts, all of that – but all of these things would exist simply as tools to facilitate real-life face-to-face meetings happening.

I picture such a new anarchist organization as being based around having a large annual national gathering, as well as regional gatherings, local and citywide gatherings of anarchists. The format for these gatherings would be Open Space Technology, a means by which those people who are present at the gatherings determine themselves what the content will be. The organizing collectives for the conference would be concerned only with the logistical matters of making the conference happen, not with the content of what will be discussed at the conferences – that would be up to the conference attendees themselves to determine.

Ever since the National Conference on Organized Resistance (“NCOR”) stopped happening, there has not been an annual national conference for the anarchist movement to converge at. This new organization would exist in part to help support this conference in happening and to be a sustainable endeavor – independent of larger institutions such as universities and independent of any particular anarchist strain, ideology, or campaign. Given that this would be a nation-wide anarchist gathering, perhaps the location should be central for everyone in the country, let’s say: Wichita, Kansas. Unlike NCOR there is no reason to have to have a nation-wide anarchist conference take place every year at the capital city of the nation-state. However, like NCOR there is an advantage to having the consistency of the conference be at the same location every year.

The conference would not endorse any particular anarchist ideology and not support any particular anarchist project, and instead provide the means for different anarchist thinkers and activists to come together to meet each-other, by doing so it is hoped that the depth of anarchist thoughts and the creativity of anarchist projects would be helped more than if any particular partisan approach was supported. This is because more people from more of a diversity of backgrounds would be involved, with more of a cross-fertilization of ideas and perspectives taking place.

Internet-wise, it would be best for the web presence for this organization to support people in meeting up with their local anarchist groups, projects and collectives face-to-face. Picture a kind of online version of the Slingshot Organizer’s radical spaces contact list. The web presence would also have features available to support people in sharing transportation and places to crash at while traveling. There would be no place for debate or discussion online, all of this would be channeled towards other online anarchist projects that do that, or towards individuals or groups who are interested in having such discussion in-person.

With this kind of approach to a nation-wide anarchist organization, my hope is that quite a lot of new things could come out of it, both practical and theoretical, even new formal organizations! This organization would serve as a launching pad for other, separate, new things. The irony is that with having such an organizational arrangement, none of the new things that arise would officially be associated with this organization – they would be things that arose as a result of people meeting up through this organization and then going off and doing something else together.

Remembering Active Resistance – cops, Democrats and anarchy run riot in Chicago

by arrrgh-bot eggplant

Being a teenager in the 1980’s it was attractive to rebel by getting into the rich music scenes of metal and punk. I found sanctuary from the stupid American game of “capitalism is here forever, Amen.” I noticed quickly that most of the foot soldiers in these two camps of counterculture groups held special contempt for hippies ­—the other being poseurs.  One would think the lingering character flaws of religious fanatics, meathead jock-thugs as well as newly christened yuppies would deserve our primary ridicule. But I get it. The youth felt it necessary to differentiate themselves from the previous generation. Hippies were perceived as ineffectual, narcissistic and horribly stuck in the past. The punks largely ignored the 20th Anniversary of the Summer of Love and of Woodstock. Instead, celebration was saved for the deaths of Bill Graham and Jerry Garcia. The statues made by the Love Generation were more convenient to topple than police stations or World Trade buildings.

By 1996 a weird off-beat anniversary of our parent’s youth was scheduled. The Democrats were having a convention in Chicago for the first time since the disastrous convention protests in 1968. ‘68 went so badly it could be argued that it gave the seat of government to the reactionary wing for the next 8 years — and then 12 years more in the 80’s. The image of uncouth protesters facing off against the naked violence of the Chicago police and US Military is considered a high water mark for domestic radicalism. Many people who were previously eager about the country and its future walked on from Chicago ‘68 hating the government, the police, the courts and dismissing the whole American system as unreformable.

The hippie protesters of ‘68 planned their presence to be a Festival of Life; a marriage of sorts between the Heads and Fists. This unification of dropouts with those who were engaged in active resistance seemed inevitable and held promise to gather enormous numbers of people to create a splendid pageant. The rising tide determined to change the dialog of the country and inspire utopian dreams to counter what was really happening on the main stage – the Festival of Death. But the forces of control and coercion robbed the show as it tends to do making the gathering in Chicago the year’s top televised crisis. Just another distraction until rock-throwing protesters could be upgraded into the Manson Family and the SLA — and put people back in line hating dropouts and freaks.

The return of presidential shell games to Chicago in ’96 meant some sort of sequel was being played out. The static buzzing from the media made comparisons to the much publicize fracas of the 1960’s. Cops were said to have buttons that read, “I beat up your dad in ‘68” or some mentally ill thing like it. The message was that people not buying into the game should fear reprisals. The punk scene made for more dynamic options than just laughing off the spectacle and staying home, there was a little nudge to take the stage rather than complain about the show.

The Bay Area not only had a healthy punk and protest scene, it had an alien visit in 1989 in the form of an Anarchist Gathering. The space creatures who arrived that summer set up camp next to and within the punk scene (as well as the existing anarchist, activist and various scenes of freaks). The makeup of the community forever changed. A fiery charge was taken to the normal cycle of local protests. Many in the punk scene like myself were drawn to the vortex like the sudden arrival of a circle pit when a good tune starts up. Protests locally against the University, the police, war and racism sparked interest and passion into issues just outside of our reach. The calls to protect old growth redwood trees, Native cattle rights in Arizona or to confront white supremacist circle jerks suddenly had more car pools to choose from. Chicago’s 2nd DNC came well after this burst of energy but with a twist. The space ship Anarchist Convention was making another landing — promising more than just dull protests. The portals opened once again for freaks and people of strange intelligence to gather.

I hadn’t planned on attending but was offered a seat with some friends who were. Little did I know so many people from my scene (or my scene to come) were going and we managed to change the make up of people on the streets of the Windy City. My posse made a stop at Minneapolis long enough for me to get a good idea of the town. We visited the Profane Existence store/operation. That seemed like a good idea and thereby raised that organization out of abstraction for me. Maybe more people should pay visits to the DIY projects clogging the air space and get a feel of where they are coming from. After passing through Wisconsin for the first time we entered into the bosom of tall buildings that is Chicago. By nightfall we were in the desolate warehouse district where the convergence site was for protesters and other malcontents. The feelings of alienation that comes with a strange land scattered when I encountered my martial arts teacher at the door greeting new arrivals.

The convergence site doubled as Active Resistance, not quite a Festival of Life but at least ground zero for workshops and discussions. Building up to the days of the Convention across town were events outside and inside the warehouse. I think we were also permitted to sleep there or nearby. This allowed us to romp around town for a minute. I got to see Neurosis, a Bay Area band, play a small space that was so tightly packed the walls sweated as much as the people did. This was in the Wicker Park neighborhood, before it transformed like so many places into exclusive wealthy playgrounds. The vibrant street activity reminded me of familiar locales like Telegraph Ave or the Mission District, a multi-ethnic universe in defiance of the city’s segregated lines. We passed a Slam Poetry reading, which at the time was still underground and a little dangerous. It is unfortunate our group wasn’t distributing a message to take with us on the streets like; “Fuck the Democrats”, or “Anarchy Now!” That would’ve elevated us from being badly dressed tourists. We were new to town without a plan and without much purpose. Our politics lacked acumen and that certain kind of insanity that can get away with tampering the line to incarceration.

Eventually the convergence space became insanely busy. A day of workshops came before the days of marches and actions. The warehouse became intoxicating as several rooms offered simultaneous activities. I wandered into a train hopping presentation and the room was filled mostly with traveling kids (later to be called “Crusties”). At the center was a normie looking guy renowned for assembling the crew change guide for the United Stated and Canada. I was drawn into his style of talking and experience, as well as the collective intelligence of the people in the room. Still while learning delicious info about free travel I was missing about 4 other really interesting talks and activities in nearby rooms.

Later I went on one of the marches. The police didn’t charge us like expected. They did out number us in obscene proportions. The big news was that the Grey Men in Grey Suits came up with “Free Speech Zones” for us, that quickly was renamed “Protest Pens”. They are what they sound like; a fenced-off cube, but miles away from the eyes of the public or delegates or perhaps even God if such a thing existed. The “Protest Pens” most resembled an out door prison cell. Thankfully our march didn’t enter the cage and drink the Kool Aid. The rest of the time we kept on marching without permits, which in itself brings a certain satisfaction. I don’t really recall any dramatic window breakings or burning dumpsters which we would see in 1999 in Seattle.

The police did raid the warehouse as well as the Seeds of Peace kitchen that committed the crime of feeding the anarchist convergence. This heavy-handed tactic would continue into the next decade with confiscation of puppets and protest signs as alleged threats to order. The dominant culture made sure no organized resistance would step from the shadows of the monuments, be it government or the social movements of the past. Active Resistance did not live up to the Festival of Life. But it can be said that something as compelling came with the social ties people made and lessons learned that would inform later fights. The people who attended the anti-convention in Chicago were on hand for the highly publicized fights of subsequent years. More important they returned to their communities doing small things of consequence.

Beyond Spectacle – Increasingly Repressive Policing Calls for Greater Innovation at RNC & DNC

by Kris Hermes

Around the turn of the century, we saw a concerted effort by the state to stifle dissent. In the late 1990s, a new way of handling political protest was developed for milestone events of national importance, like the quadrennial Republican and Democratic conventions. Adopted by executive order under President Clinton, then later passed by Congress, the designation of National Special Security Event (NSSE) establishes a robust law enforcement apparatus with the FBI and U.S. Secret Service at the top of a multi-agency pyramid aimed at controlling free expression.

With the advent of the Global Justice movement and the effective protests in Seattle during the 1999 meetings of the World Trade Organization, a renewed focus on suppressing street actions and a new model for policing protest was born.

The 2000 Republican convention protests in Philadelphia gave then-Police Commissioner John Timoney the opportunity to develop this new policing model which is still used today. Coined by social scientists as a form of “Strategic Incapacitation,” the model uses a set of tactics that deliberately chills dissent, including heavy surveillance and infiltration, denial of protest permits, preemptive raids and arrests, indiscriminate police violence, mass unlawful arrests, and forms of preventive detention such as overcharging, high bail, and keeping activists detained longer than allowed under the rules of habeas corpus.

After becoming the Miami Police Chief in 2003, Timoney oversaw one of the most brutal responses to political protest in modern history during the Free Trade Area of the Americas demonstrations that year. Miami Mayor Manny Diaz called Timoney’s policing approach a “model for homeland security,” ushering in the repressive “Miami Model” which has been used to great effect ever since.

So, what does this mean for social movements and summit protests today?

Although the NSSE designation was not used against the Occupy Wall Street movement, nor has it been used against Black Lives Matter (BLM) demonstrations, the militancy of these movements has been effective enough for the state to try to control and suppress them.

The police response to BLM activists has caused the movement to use more creative strategies and tactics in order to push back against such repression, including a proliferation of “cop-watching,” ongoing protests at police stations and precincts, unannounced mass civil disobedience on freeways and roadways across the country, and an unwillingness to be co-opted by established political and religious organizations.

The Republican and Democratic National Conventions in Cleveland and Philadelphia this July will likely see the intersection of BLM-led protests and the NSSE law enforcement apparatus. There’s already been evidence of police spying on BLM activists, and it’s certain to get worse as the conventions approach. We will also see actions by the “Climate Justice” movement and, if militant enough, will undoubtedly draw an aggressive response from the state.

In the past, activists have relied on the element of “spectacle” at summit protests—dozens of TV News cameras and the public’s rapt attention—to broadcast the issues of the day. However, given the vast resources of the state and the increasingly repressive tactics used against dissidents, summit protests like the upcoming RNC and DNC must seize on more than just spectacle. Activist strategies and tactics need to be more innovative, confrontational and resistant to repression. We have to find ways to be in true solidarity with each other. Those with privilege need to better use their socio-economic positions for the benefit of others, especially activists who are commonly targeted by police such as known organizers, people of color, immigrants, and queer/trans folk.

The upcoming RNC and DNC also hold the opportunity to involve and engage people who live in areas surrounding the convention sites. Although it may be more work, we must endeavor to make connections between the millions spent by host cities (i.e. the taxpayers) and the failure to spend needed funds on their deteriorating social infrastructures.

Often missed by protest organizers is the network of labor needed to successfully host conventions and the inherent opportunity to involve and agitate workers who have the collective strength to withhold labor and/or sabotage the efforts of the political elite. Whether it’s bus drivers, food preparers and servers, or hotel workers, the opportunity to agitate can and should be exploited.

So, this summer don’t just join a march or rally. Use your political capital to resist the inevitably repressive response by police and push the envelope by designing ways of using the convention protests to truly advance our movements for social change.

Repression Breeds Resistance – cops occupation of NYC at RNC in 2004 didn’t spoil the party

By Derek Minno-Bloom

I moved to New York City (Algonquin and Lenni Lenape Territory) in late 2003. The NYPD’s stop and frisk program was going strong. It was a time when quality of life policies and keeping the streets clean of folks experiencing homelessness were more prominent than the city’s history of movement politics and culture, but there were still some burning embers in the streets left over from the largest global protest in world history against the Iraq War on February 15, 2003.

Those embers were easily fanned when the Republican Party decided to have the Republican National Convention in New York City from August 26 to 31 in 2004. The RNC could not have come to a city less welcoming than New York City. The party clearly wanted to play off of the momentum of 9/11 and the importance of the “War on Terror” by coming to the city were it all started.

Over 30,000 NYPD officers were ordered to Manhattan to confront RNC protesters and to protect the delegates coming to the convention. There were more police in Manhattan at that time than US soldiers who were sent into Afghanistan during the beginning of Operation Enduring Freedom in 2003. NYC felt like it was under military occupation during that week of August, but as the Black Liberation Army once said, “Repression breeds resistance.” Anywhere from 500,000-800,000 people showed up to protest that week, making it the largest protest of a presidential convention ever. Protesters also set a record that week. Over 1,800 people were arrested, making it the most arrests at a convention in US her/history.

That week I got arrested three times. With hundreds of others, I was thrown into an oily boat warehouse, where we tipped over porta-potties and ripped the chain-link and barbed wire fence, which they had constructed specifically for us, out of the ground. I rode with 6,000 other Critical Mass bike riders. There were constant direct actions and rallies going on. For a while it felt like the ‘60s I had read about. Everybody was in the streets in protest. It felt like there were hundreds of banner drops, and an uncountable number of protesters got into the convention to disrupt it. A diversity of tactics was certainly seen from broken windows and arson to street theater and all kinds of civil disobedience and traffic blocking and some of the largest marches NYC has ever seen. New York City felt alive again for one week that August.

Another amazing part of the convergence in NYC that week was that the politics of intersectionality met the practice. Still We Rise and the Poor People’s Economic Campaign marched and organized against systemic racism and classism. The AIDS Coalition to Un-Leash Power (ACT-UP) did a naked civil disobedience while chanting for the US to drop the debt of foreign countries and to reduce AIDS. The Queer Fist affinity group did a make-out sit-in in Times Square for queer and trans rights. Many groups protested global capitalism and US imperialism, while many radical groups protested the entire existence of the US as a violent and illegal settler colonial state.

There were two main goals during the RNC convergence, either to shut the convention down and send the Republicans packing or to make the RNC feel unwelcome in the NYC. We certainly accomplished the second goal. I probably have never felt as empowered as I did that week, with all two million of us who showed up to protest.

I was recently forced to look back on that RNC twelve years ago, when I received a pretty large check in 2015 from the City of New York, finally settling the last class-action lawsuit I was involved in from 2004, concerning the conditions of the holding facilities they kept us in. That convergence was what really politicized me. I truly believe that because of that convergence I am still an activist today. The memories from the collective power we all had was a glimpse that another world is possible in a US context. The anger I felt toward the NYPD’s unjust policing practices and the collective rage I felt with others against the US government during the RNC are still burning within me today. I got to deeply experience with millions of others that I was not alone, that others believed in the words of Martin Luther King Jr. when he said, “An injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” So if you’re thinking of going out to or organizing at the RNC or the DNC this year, I highly recommend it.

 

Occupy the Trauma – still struggling with PTSD years after Occupy Oakland

By Fallen Flower

I was doing okay five years ago. I had steady employment as a teacher, and was training to start a new job when the shutdown of Occupy Oakland happened, and some high-born roommates in my co-op insisted that I join their group at the protest that day.

I just moved in, and hadn’t told my roommates about my past: That I had grown up in low-income housing and had spent nearly a year homeless as a teenager. Sure I’d made it through college and must have, but I was still struggling every day to create a sense of personal safety in my life.

One of the roommates, a Yale graduate, sat down next to me a few hours after the Occupy shutdown, and told me if I didn’t got down to protest it, I was “part of the problem,” that I would regret it years later. She was quite persistent, and not willing to let it go until I agreed to go with her.

At the protest, we met up with other roommates, and after enduring a round of teargas and flash bang grenades, they all left. One of them asked if I was coming with them as they headed to BART, but my brain wasn’t able to make sense of his words. I wandered around the mayhem for hours after that, trying to regain my bearings, to regain my sense of reality.

In the five years since that night, I’ve dealt with severe PTSD, such as anxiety attacks, flashbacks, and suddenly going into shock. I tried going back to work as a teacher after the incident, but for the first time ever, I emotionally broke down in the classroom and I haven’t been able to face a classroom of students since. Something in me broke that night. I’ve tried holding down other jobs, but can’t keep them for long, as my anxiety tends to surface in some way employers aren’t cool with. One boss for example had a habit of grabbing people’s shoulders from behind and shaking them. Another boss became distrustful of me after I turned down an offer to join him and a local police chief for dinner.

An irrational side of me blames my former housemates for my PTSD. But I know it’s not their fault. Sure, I was bullied into going down to the protest that day. But who could have guessed the police would have turned Oakland into a firestorm? The things that happened that night were staged, I believe, with the intent to traumatize people. It is crazy-making to have fireworks shot at your head. Or lead-filled beanbags. Or tear gas. Other cities use pepper spray, but (at least in 2011) Oakland was the only city in the country using actual tear gas, even though it’s known to contain chemicals that specifically harm women and can lead to mischarges, birth defeats, and reproductive problems.

Flashbacks from that night haunt me everyday. I get the shakes. My guts tense up. Sometimes I vomit. A flashback hit me on the subway the other day and I vomited on the empty seat next to me.

The police turned Oakland into a hell-scape. I saw an elderly black man fall to the ground covered in his own pee, disoriented and humiliated as the yellow gas wafted all around. I saw a young blond man on the ground after he got hit in the head by one of the police projectiles. I later learned he was Scott Olsen, a military vet who had served 2 tours of duty in Iraq only to come back and get his head knocked in. Where I was standing that night, it looked like blood was dripping from Mr. Olsen’s eye sockets.

According to information released a few months later (see below), the shutdown of Occupy camps around the country was a coordinated effort between the FBI and big banks. That was why the shutdowns were almost simultaneous across the country, rather than different cities shutting down camps at their own rates, or not shutting their camps down at all. The banks used the police to harm and terrorize American citizens. How can I face a classroom of students after what I’ve seen? What do I say to them about the society in which they live?

I’m not in touch with my old roommates anymore, but if I were, I wish I’d told them to fuck off that night, rather than letting myself get bullied into going so that shutdown protest. I wish I had set better boundaries. Maybe they also got traumatized. But all of them had families to rely on and moneyed support networks, which helped them to emotionally recover afterwards, sending them on expensive vacations, helping them talk through their feelings, paying for their therapy and yoga classes. As for me, I’m a kite without a string. I didn’t have the network or money to recover, to build my life back.

If there is one thing I want people to know: If someone isn’t emotionally ready to go to a protest, don’t twist their arm. Sure, they may seem like they have the same past and support network as you, but don’t assume. Also, don’t pull someone into a protest unless you are ready to be there for them afterwards, and to keep an eye on their healing. I felt completely abandoned by my roommates, at the protest and after, as they continued to orate about the issues, rather than checking in in a meaningful way to see if everyone was really okay. This can create a cycle of trauma in which, directs people away from recovering, people start to politically bully others.

Later, when I tried to talk to the woman who pressured me into going to the protest, she shut me down as I tried to talk about my emotions and showed me video footage of a horrific New Orleans City Council Meeting she’d experienced in which the police tasered members of the public who were attempting to speak about a shady gentrification. I felt for her, having experienced such an awful moment of state violence—I could hear her voice screaming in the video as a reverend was being tasered in city hall—but her bitterness about that event, and about the futility of the eventual loss of all those people’s homes, this made it hard for her to hear me as I tried to voice my pain. I’m sure my bitterness and PTSD after the OO shutdown likewise made it hard for me to hear others. Perhaps this is how oppression works: a cycle of one heart being calcified after another.

Now our nation is in a state of dire poverty, with more than 50% of Americans holding less than $1000 to their names. The big banks have continued to do the same type of risky lending that caused the housing crisis, and schools, hospitals, and all social services are being gutted and made private. Occupy didn’t change anything for the American poor, and the middle class has vanished. Many of us who tried to stop this downward spiral five years ago are still dealing with the trauma dealt to us in a rigged game played by corporations under the guise of the state. What do we do with al this hurt when more just keeps on coming?

Learn more about the FBI & big bank coordination of the Occupy shutdowns: www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2012/dec/29/fbi-coordinated-crackdown-occupy

 

Never mind the ballots – towards large scale horizontal decision making

by Poll Cat

Over the last half century, an incredible decision-making process has emerged known as consensus, a process based on the radical idea that the group will not move forward on a decision unless every member is on board. Blossoming out of the Free Speech Movement, consensus process has been adopted in homes, workplaces, collectives, and community organizations as a way to make decisions with less interference from pre-existing hierarchies such as race, class, age, and gender. Consensus isn’t perfect, but it creates a framework for problem solving that offers a model of greater equality than the “rule of the privileged” that tends to happen in small groups by default.

Now, as consensus has expanded to countless spaces across the globe, it is a great time for anarchists to turn our creativity outwards, gazing past the edges of our communities, and begin strategizing better to make decisions and solicit opinions on a massive scale. Because even if we try to ignore it, the large-scale political machine affects our daily lives in so many ways. The broken system of corporate-dominated voting and lobbying controls our resources and has a stranglehold on our ecology, education, healthcare, and so many other social services. If we can dream up new, better ways of gaining and responding to public opinion we may be able to more rapidly move towards a world with a healthier, more sustainable human presence.

And, while Consensus works great in small, intimate groups, it becomes unwieldy on a large scale. This means we have to start thinking outside the box and come up with some new tactics. Some groups have already started working on just that.

Secure Polling System (SPS)

For the last few years, Hackers in Oakland have been developing the early framework for an idea called Secure Polling System. SPS would allow you to vote anonymously and securely, ensuring there’s exactly one vote per person.

How it works is you initially register with an office that verifies your identity. You then get a unique encryption key, allowing you to vote using your identity while simultaneously hiding your identity too. (Woo, encryption!)

This polling software would be open-source, so anyone with a little coding knowledge could verify that it’s counting the votes properly, preventing the types of “glitches” found in closed-source voting software, such as during the 2004 election in which a “software glitch” in the public voting machines caused the Republican candidate to receive 4,258 votes in Franklin County, Ohio — where only 638 people voted.

With open source software, things like that wouldn’t happen, or at least they’d be a lot easier to catch ahead of time.

Also, SPS would allow a radical redesign of how and when we solicit opinions. People could create their own opinion polls any time, soliciting others to respond to issues that might have been overlooked in our current (big-money-favoring) system of deciding what even gets to be presented to the public for voting. SPS could allow types of large-scale self-organizing without having a corporate filter between us and the opinions of others. It would be a move towards reimagining our society as one that is more responsive to each other’s needs, and with greater empowerment for those ready to voice the changes they want to see made.

To help with the development of this project, please visit securepollingsystem.org or @SecurePolling on twitter.

Liquid Democracy

Imagine every aspect of decision-making is broken down by topic and region, and each of us has a vote within every topic in our respective regions.

So, I’m going to get several education votes (a neighborhood one, a civic one, an eco-regional one, a bioregional one, and a national one), several urban design votes (nbr’hd, civic, e’rgn, b’rgn, nat’l), and likewise I’d get votes in topics like the arts, means of production, commerce, ecology, health care, etc. The goal is to break down all the decisions presently made by elected officials and divide them into accessible, sensible categories in which every person has exactly one person’s say.

A form of this governance was tried out in Iceland shortly after their Revolution in 2009, and they discovered a problem: making all the decisions about everything takes hecka time. Like 6 hours a day or something. Who wants to spend all day voting? We still have to live our lives! So, hackers came up with a solution: what if you can give your vote away to someone else to vote in your place? This is why it’s call Liquid Demoracy. You get to move your votes around.

So, for example, I might give all of my education votes to my sister, who’s a teacher, and is already researching the issues in education. And I might give my arts votes to my artist friend. And I might give my transportation votes to Jesse Palmer of Slingshot, who has an awesome grand vision to revise the transportation system to make everywhere accessible by a train-to-bicycle infrastructure.

In the meantime, I will keep my civic planning vote, because I’m personally involved with work to create community farms and develop a resilient local food supply. In fact, this is a topic I want to devote myself to, so I might try to gather lots of other people’s votes on it. I’ll put up fliers and speak at public meetings. As people give me their urban planning votes, my voting power might jump from 1 vote to 300 to 30,000 in local and national urban planning. This gives me a lot of say in every decision that goes through on this topic. People can take their vote back from me at any time if they don’t like a decision I made. To help keep my voters & the public up-to-date about how I’m using their vote, I might have a daily video blog in which I summarize all the decisions I made that day, and explain why I made them. I might also build coalitions with top voters in other categories, so to strategize how my urban planning decisions fit in with what’s going down in education, art, etc. Also, all the decisions I make are viewable by anyone whose vote I hold, so there’s a level of transparency. I’ll also have daily video blogs explaining my decisions so members of the public can better understand the work I’m doing.

Liquid Democracy represents a radical restricting of the social order, and it would also drastically change the media surrounding politics. The great thing about this voting system is it keeps public decision-making very public, and, in moments in which you’ve decided to let yourself be represented by someone, you have a great deal of power over how long that person may represent you.

It is a model of decision-making that better matches a society with our communication technology, and also helps avoid corruption in politics by preventing the existence of entrenched figures who you’re stuck with as representatives for 2-4+ years no matter what how shitty their decisions are after they are in office. Liquid Democracy means politicians have to represent their constituents, or they lose them immediately.

Sure, this system has flaws, but nothing compared to the present system of political oligarchy.

Liquid democracy software called “Liquid Feedback” is now being used on a small-scale by the Pirate Party in parts of Germany, Italy, Austria, Norway, France, and the Netherlands (check it out at www.liquidfeedback.org). Spain, being Spain, has developed its own separate liquid democracy software which can be found at agoravoting.com. Coders in Belgium are still working on their liquid democracy software called “Get Opinionated,” and they are looking for help finishing it at github.com/getopinionated/.

Art of Resistance

By Melissa

This is the story of a self-started food recovery program. It came into existence when I was working at a fancy bakery. The bakery was my first food service job and I was naively appalled by the amount of food, a lot of pastries and pizza, they threw out. Everyone else in the profession seemed unfazed. It’s the way things worked. Tired of seeing the food get thrown out, I started bringing the food to shelters and community organizations at the end of every night the bakery was open.

On the surface this project seems like yet another landfill diversion initiative, an offspring of Food Not Bombs. Except what I really want to argue for in doing this writing is for art as an incentive for common good. A lot of people dismiss art as a luxury for the rich. However, my background is in art and in my art practice I have been trying to find some meaning in art-making that dispels this. My motivation for doing this project was to at first make it a performance art piece: the ritual of taking away the unsold food every night to somewhere it could get eaten. Without the motive of art I don’t think I would have bothered at all.

Food waste is still such a hot button topic that there is a Wikipedia page for it. It totes well-advocated numbers like: one-third of all food produced for human consumption globally is lost or wasted (about 1.3 billion tons per year). I never had the nerve to ask my temperamental boss why so much extra food was consciously made. My one colleague, also a food service rookie, deduced it was because making 20 sandwiches probably cost the near same as making 10. So if they sold them all it would be double the profit.

But back to doing art and doing-it-yourself. After a few weeks of working at the bakery and nightly drop-offs I tried getting the nearby shelter and Food Not Bombs group to pick-up the food, maybe one night a week. It didn’t work. There was too much bureaucracy at the shelter and the local Food Not Bombs chapter at the time was chaired by passionate vegans so the dairy-filled bakery food was denied for serving. I tried contacting the biggest food recovery organization in the city to get some support – not a peep back. Too busy chasing bigger fish. Once in (one of many moments of) desperation I even asked a parking officer on the street near the bakery if he could pick-up food during his route. He awkwardly declined. Turns out they don’t do the same route every night. There was a lot of rejection from places that supposedly existed to help, to the point where I finally decided to put up posters to find volunteers myself to pick-up food. Miraculously, people responded.

Doing all this involved meeting a lot of people and I got really interested in the people I was meeting. There were my bakery colleagues and the volunteer couriers. There were the folks at the bike co-op where the food went to every Friday for a free meal served Saturday. There were the front-line workers at the women’s shelter. One night when I offered food to someone working at the shelter she declined and explained to me she didn’t eat throughout her entire 12-hour overnight shelter shift. She only drank water. I was enraptured. Wanting to talk to people and learn more about them can be difficult when you have social anxiety. Here, art comes again to make up for what I lack. If I was interviewing them for my art project they would have to talk to me! I started a book documenting the folks who I thought were terribly fascinating (and would talk to me back). Among the interviews include the topics of: dumpster diving in Sweden, living up in the Northwest Territories, owning a bicycle delivery company, tomato tattoos, and of course, art making.

The exchange of knowledge made the whole thing seem less like my energy was being put into shuttling food nightly and more like this exciting vehicle to connect with other human beings. Fighting capitalism can be desolate. It’s valuable to frame it in a way that’s less so and to be with others doing the same. Ultimately, I think the point of writing this is to share that if you are not satisfied or supported by existing nonprofit groups and have the time, energy and desire to do something small to resist oppression, you should do it yourself. I promise it’s worth whatever little time and energy you can compound into it. As individuals we are not powerless and, this is the most important thing I’ve learned, there will always be people wanting and ready to do the same. You just haven’t found each other yet.

Zine Reviews: One Less Email, One More Zine

Three Japanese Anarchists

By Victor Garcia, Kate Sharpley Library. Distributed by South Chicago Anarchist Black Cross PO Box 721 Homewood, IL 60430.

This was my second time around reading this ‘zine.  It had been years and was well worth the refresher. The author, Victor Garcia, was a veteran of the Spanish Civil War, who continued the struggle even sneaking back into Spain in 1946 to support the Libertarian Youth, but was arrested and imprisoned before fleeing the country again.

Starting with Denjiro Kotoku who had been a very active Marxist and comrade of Sen Katayama who, along with Asian Indian M.N. Roy had traveled through Latin America as communist organizers.  This ‘zine is full of fascinating connections like this!  Kotoku was considered such a threat by the state they not only imprisoned him but killed him in 1911 along with 11 of his comrades for allegedly planning a revolt.

But as frequently happens after such waves of oppression, one of Kotoku’s students, Sakai Osugi, picked up his gauntlet in the form of two of his mentor’s publications, Kindai Shoso (Modern Thinking) and Heimin Shimbun (Common Man’s Daily).  Also like Kotoku, Osugi was a skilled linguist who went about making some major translations such as The Origin of Species by Charles Darwin and Mutual Aid by Peter Kropotkin.  Though also similarly to Kotoku, the state considered him such a threat it killed him, albeit extra-judiciously.  This was also part of a wave of oppression.  A number of other libertarians and Koreans were also put to death.

There is a series of brief biographies and descriptions of groups before the section about the third primary subject of the ‘zine, Taiji Yamaga, who unlike the other two main focuses of this ‘zine, lived to an advanced age, 78.  But aside from their shared politics, he also shared their foreign language skills which combined with his lengthy life led him to correspond with many people over seas, both in and out of Anarchist movements, including Vinoba Bhave, a prominent student of Gandhi’s. (A. Iwasa)

It’s Going Down!

Anarchist News & Practice Across So-Called North America itsgoingdown.org

Recently a print edition of what is mostly a best of style round up of the website itsgoingdown.org came in to the Long Haul Infoshop.  This ‘zine is solid cover to cover, and reminiscent of how some of the better indymedia.org affiliates used to print around 2002 in New York and Washington, DC. (A. Iwasa)

Jacobin, Winter 2016

Issue 20:  Up From Liberalism jacobinmag.com 388 Atlantic Ave. Brooklyn, NY 11217

Well written and sharply laid out cover to cover; Jacobin is a periodical from the Socialist camp(s) that is rare to me in that every article was solidly worth reading.

Rooted in history and heavy on analysis, this issue of Jacobin didn’t offer very much of an alternative to capitalism in general or social democracy and the Democratic Party in particular that it pretty thoroughly took apart.

It reminds me of the old Socialist Alternative newspaper, Justice, around 2001 or so, only apparently, completely a media project.  It also strikes me as politically similar to the International Socialist Organization around 2004 in the sense that I wonder if they are Social Democrats or Trotskyists?  Neither?  Both? Without a doubt it is worth study and discussion, though I do wish they would be a little more up front about exactly where they are coming from.  If I’m not mistaken, pg. 99 holds the only explicit declaration of their Bolshevism, but even that is lacking.  What exactly is “the thorough Bolshevization of American culture”?  Like Socialism in general, the term means so many different things, it’s almost meaningless without a definition. (A. Iwasa)

Ida B. Wells Coalition Against Racism and Police Brutality, Prisoners’ Speak!  Journal #1

Memphis Black Autonomy Federation PO Box 16382 Memphis, TN 38186-0382 Prisoners write: South Chicago ABC ‘Zine Distro PO Box 721 Homewood, IL 60430

Diverse writings by both prisoners and supporters.  Race, class, gender and sexuality are all taken into account connecting prisoners’ struggles with those of working people on the outside.  Well written, thought provoking and decked out with beautiful art. (A. Iwasa)

Ker-Bloom!  86

audioanarchy.org

I know this ‘zine is a bit old, but it’s exciting because it’s about how Artnoose was introduced to Letters of Insurgents by Fredy Perlman.  Not only did she read it, but went along to set up an Insurgent Summer reading group and helped make up an audio book of it posted on the Audio Anarchy website!

The novel consists of letters between two comrades who participated in an anti-bureaucratic uprising in Eastern Europe during state communism, after one came to live in exile in the U$, and the other went to prison.

Letters of Insurgents is the only audio book I’ve ever listened to.  It will make you want to projectile vomit your guts out to your dearest comrade in a seven page letter.  If you’re lucky, your comrade will reply with more than a passing reference to “your beautiful letter” in an e-mail about something else… (A. Iwasa)

Letters of Insurgents by Fredy Perlman (available from:) Left Bank Books 92 Pike St. Seattle, WA 98101-2025

 

 

SCIENCE as RADICALISM

by William Gillis available online humaniterations.net/2015/08/18/science-as-radicalism/ in ebook format and as a zine.

‘Everything in the universe is in the public domain’ – William Gillis is a second-generation anarchist who’s worked as an activist in countless projects and capacities since getting involved in the lead-up to N30 (the “Battle in Seattle”). He studies high energy physics and has held a deep fascination with the egalitarian potential of markets since 2003. His writing can be found primarily at ‘Human Iterations’. “It’s no secret that a good portion of the left today consider science profoundly uncool… Indeed there’s a lingering whiff of technocratic stodginess and death that the word ‘science’ has never quite shaken. Those leftists most associated with it have a tendency to either be authoritarians looking to legitimize near-fascist narratives, or doe-eyed activists enchanted by saccharine visions of self-managed bureaucracies and The Meeting That Never Ends.” A Key concept throughout the zine is an appeal to deep critical thinking, to question the comfort of our belief systems. Key question: why the fuck is the ‘left’ so opposed to science? Be prepared  to use a dictionary if you’re like me, with a basic school education! Here is the beginning of William Gillis’ conclusion: “It goes without saying that we shouldn’t waste our lives fighting a war over every preferred definition. Language is often fluid, and not every term can be redeemed. A ‘language’ is often really forked into many simultaneous languages and there can be strategic and empathic virtues in swapping between them. But it’s also important to have our terms describe the most meaningful realities or distinct dynamics they can. Gaping conceptual holes, unspoken or unspeakable realities in a given language, can end up having a huge impact in our lives and impeding our capacity to fight. Language determines what we focus on by default, what gets left as awkward addendums, and thus what loops of debate we most frequently retread trying to get at realities outside the terms we have available.” This zine was to me a real hit and shake in the fluid matter of my upper compartment nut, but no headache! (elke)

 

 

 

Consequence (actually it is a book . . .)

By Steve Masover (344 pgs)

Published by Salted Rose Press

A story about Bay Area anti-GMO direct action activists, Consequence is a little slow to start. But the story wraps you up in the personal lives of the characters and turns into an intense page turner before you know it. The characters are very believable and being a Bay Area activist myself, I kept finding myself wondering, “maybe that character is based on so and so…” Consequence is a great read. It brought tears to my eyes a couple of times and has a real twist at the end of the adventure. Highly recommend it!! (Kelly)