Category Archives: Issue #123: spring to action 2017

3 sisters companion planting

By A. Iwasa

In spring 2010 I experimented with the Three Sisters Companion Planting, a Native American companion planting of squash, corn and pole beans, for my first time. There were some points where I didn’t follow the directions at all, so I thought I would write a How To article to share the directions I received, how I did or didn’t follow them, and the out comes.

The Three Sisters Garden Package included a 57-gram packet of Tennessee Red Cob corn, one ounce of Kentucky Wonder Garden Beans, and three ounces of Seminole Pumpkin seeds.

The plot is supposed to be a circle 25 feet in diameter, and a diagram is below. The packet of corn was far more than I needed, and I ended up planting out a rectangular area that was roughly 25 feet by 60 feet, using the pattern recommended, with seed left over.

The corn is supposed to be a tall and sturdy variety, to support the pole beans and planted when the soil was warmed up and the nighttime lows are only about 60 degrees Fahrenheit.

In southern Iowa that year, it was shortly after Mayday. The corn should be planted out in mounds that should be five inches high and 18 inches across. I later noticed I was supposed to flatten the tops, which I didn’t do. I made the mounds with compost of mostly broken down straw and sheep manure. This turned out to keep the mounds together really well through fairly heavy rains that spring when the soil which is heavily clay was all flattened out around the mounds. The mounds should be separated five feet from the center of each next mound, and in staggered rows. Four corn seeds should go into the mound forming a six-inch square. I buried each seed of corn with a handful of compost from another pile that was mostly broken down food waste, straw, grass, goat and chicken manure. The seed germination rate was nearly 100%, though a few plants turned yellow and died.

A comrade tilled in between the mounds then I cultivated in between the mounds with a hoe, and worked some of the soil onto the mounds, to try to help them keep their form.

When the bulk of the corn was roughly four inches tall, I planted four bean seeds per mound three inches from the corn plants, making squares like in the diagram below.

The one-ounce package of beans was half of what I needed, and a comrade bought me another packet so I could finish planting out the area.

I was supposed to wait until the beans sprouted before I planted the pumpkins, but the day the beans were supposed to start germinating we were expecting heavy rains, so I went out, cultivated with a hoe again, and made mounds for the pumpkins the same way I did for the corn and beans, in between the central mounds of corn and beans. Again, the amount of pumpkin seeds didn’t match the ratio for corn.

The directions, as shown above, advocated filling nearly all the areas between the corn and bean mounds with squash mounds, planting three seeds per mound, and then thinning to two per mound after germination.

Due to lack of seeds and my previous experience with squash, cucumbers and pumpkins there, confident in their ability to take over the area, I ended up mostly making two rows of mounds. They went through the corn patch long ways between the corn and bean mounds, with two pumpkin seeds and handfuls of compost per mound. I made a couple other mounds to use my last four seeds on the edges, so I could still train the vines to grow along the corn patch if I had to.

I was supposed to only hoe the plot one more time if I had to, but I was nervous and kept the plot cultivated very well until the pumpkins started to fill out.

Possibly because it was too wet and/or cool, the bean and pumpkin seeds didn’t germinate too well, at about 50%. But what did germinate was vigorous! Very quickly the beans started to grow up the corn, and the pumpkins filled up the ground. The corn grew to be some ten feet tall and I saw why I probably didn’t need to cultivate as much as I did after all.

Fake News

By Mark C. Marino

A story has been running all night through the streets of Los Angeles. “Fake News, It’s everywhere.” We caught up with it just long enough to take a selfie with it before it leapt off the Hollywood sign. It wasn’t the first. Fortunately, it sustained only minor injuries.

Fake News is a contemporary moral panic. It’s noise jamming the channels of transmission, but it’s also troubling our ability to recognize real news. It may have even influenced the recent U.S. Presidential election.

In response to this panic, and in order to make sure we left no bandwagon behind, Talan Memmott, the Provisional Provost at the UnderAcademy College, a non-degree granting alternative non-institution of higher learning, and I decided to walk into the mouth of the beast to teach a course in “How to Write and Read Fake News,” subtitled, “Journullism in the age of Trump.”

For the course, we used Medium (medium.com), which is also a strong platform for making any article look like real news, though I don’t know of any fake news scandals that have used it. Our chief organ is The Fake News Reader: (https://medium.com/the-fake-news-reader), which serves as our central course hub. Our journullists have the opportunity to publish in any of our three other course publications: CTRL-ALT-RIGHT: our right-wing tabloid; West of Knob Lick: our left-leaning broadsheet; and The Trumpet Blow Institute: A think tank where journullists can publish fake studies to support their fake news posts.

The goal of the course is to address this moment, what some might call a crisis if they wanted some serious clickbait, by diving straight into the shark infested waters and swimming around. We ask the students to write a Fake News article per day. However, since UnderAcademy is an alternative institution, we give them the option not to, and most of the lazy s.o.b.s (students over burdened) take that second option.

But what is Fake News? For the most part, it’s propaganda. But for our course, I’ve created a typology of about 6 kinds of fake news. Fantasy Fake, stories designed to be fun diversions; Funny Fake, generally satire; Fony Fake, hoaxes and ruses; Falacious Fake, misleading or sensationalized news; Flat Fake, an unfunny story passing itself off as real news; and Falshivka Fake, fake news from Moscow. My way might not be for everyone, and for those who don’t like it there is also “the highway.” However, I do feel that distinctions must be made between various kinds of Fake News, for example between Fake News and fake news, lest we give Fake News a bad name, unintentionally.

What about the Fake News Media? Well, the Trump Administration and his Trump Train have attempted to delegitamize professional journalists by denigrating their work as fake. Historically, this would be considered a kind of psychosis as it represents a break from reality. But in this case, the term is being wielded more as another form of propaganda through censorship and censuring any organization considered to be critical of the administration.

Can their be real news after fake news? I hope not. In other words, if you mean, can we go back to innocent perception of news as being free from ideology, then that would seem to me both unlikely and undesirable. If you mean go back to a time when people did not routinely deny empirical facts, then I’m doubtful but have some hope.

How can we tell real news from fake news? Well, you have got to think critically and triangulate. First, receive all news with a hermeneutics of suspicion. Long before this moment, even before the days of yellow journalism, consumers of news or official announcements needed to read between the lines. On the other hand, an educated citizenry requires sources, other trustworthy authorities, that can be used to try to corroborate or disprove the current story. Even then, a certain critical distance is obviously necessary to assess the legitimacy of those sources.

Curiously, the Trump Army believes that it is doing this critical work by circulating its counternarratives about hidden monetary forces behind grass roots protests or conspiratorial jihads for global domination in Islam. Reading through the Trumpian Twitterverse, I see these messages and the pride and righteous indignation of those who reTweet them.

The bigger question, I suppose, is how does anyone develop the critical faculties to critically evaluate not only the news they are receiving but also their corroborating sources when our tendency is to accept only the stories that jive with our narratives, our politics, our ideology. In a U.S. divided — actively pulled apart — by partisan media channels, how can a thoughtful citizen see past their own biases?

I suspect only through person-to-person human contact with those who believe differently. That is step one.

When did all this fake news start? It started with the first lie, the first rumor. Seriously, fake news seems to begin with the advent of communication itself. I have published a timeline where I try to review some of the more notable moments, though, including wonderful gems like The New York Sun publishing stories of winged humanoids on the moon, the Yellow Journalism that Hearst promoted, and the various attempts to create bogeymen out of one minority group or another (to name a few).

But in more contemporary times, it’s only about as old as the Internet. Here I’m referring to Populist Propaganda or Flat Fakes, or those news stories that look indistinguishable from something you could find posted on abc.com, except it turns out the source is abc.com.com. For as big a difference as those two little letters make to nature of source, the difference between the way those pages look is small.

Are there any fun ways people can approach fake news? I mean, is it okay to have fun with this?

Hmm. Do you want to have REAL fun with fake news? Find a story that seems to good to be true: Trump wins Nobel Peace Prize. Then send it to 15 of your most partisan family members. Watch to see if anyone reposts it on social media, and when they do laugh the bitter guffaws of those who brought lighter fluid to the fire of Rome.

Does satire still have a place? Yes, but it has to learn to be a bit smarter and maybe try to get a bit more sleep. More blue pills, fewer red pills. Or is it the other way around?

What’s the play with the Fake News Course? Well, the UnderAcademy has a tradition of provocative courses, including my class in Grammar Porn. Talan and I felt the current moment was offering an assault on reason, so we figured we’d assault it right back. In other words, to fly straight into the mouth of the fake news beast and see if we could at least make it down to the entrails.

Does the fake news class really teach people to write fake news? What are some of the assignments?

We teach people what is in fake news, largely through modeling and burying them in readings, and we also spend a little time explaining our 80-20-10 model of Fake News writing. However, what they do with that information is up to them? Most of them seem to be ignoring it.

I think my favorite is the post-fact checking, in which we ask students to corroborate an existing fake news story by finding support for its claims on the Internet. For every fiction, you can find a dozen sites (or more) with the same story. It’s very hard to break out of that bubble.

How does fake news connect with your broader experience of subverting / bringing play to the new media? (and what is the new media? How might we think of it?)

I have a bit of a history in troubling the waters of new media. First, there’s the overall creative category of netprov, or improvised networked narratives, that Rob Wittig and I have been working to promote. Our recent collaboration with Samara Hayley Steele and Cathy Podeszwa, Thermophiles and Love, brought play to online dating as we imagined a 5-gendered dating site for micro-organisms.

Other netprovs have been a bit more hoaxy. In Realy: Being @Spencerpratt and Speidishow, Rob and I played in the world of a Reality TV Star, playing with the borders of the same surreality in which our current President flourished. However, our work was to play improv and poetry games with the followers of Spencer Pratt and his wife Heidi Montag.

We took up a more direct political cause with Occupy MLA, a fictional occupy collective taking on the Modern Language Association, particularly on the topic of adjunct labor. However, we learned quickly that sometimes literary organizations like when things operate literally.

Our goal with these was never to troll or moll or manipulate. Our goal was create art that challenged people’s relationships to social media and that raised important issues through the telling of stories of characters. For example, the Occupy MLA group were terribly dysfunctional, ridden with in-fighting and acrimony, dragged down by the collegiate forces they sought to oppose, all the slings and arrows that assaulted their self esteem. Tempspence, the obscure poet who took over @SpencerPratt’s account, only wanted to get his name out there, but because he had taken on someone else’s (illegally) he was doomed to obscurity.

Even in our fake news class, we have fictional characters, who are posting articles — but their articles challenge the authority and structure of the class itself. So in my impish brain, I guess I’m always trying to undercut any dogmatic agenda my self-righteous brain might put forward as a way of avoiding some of the plights of orthodoxy and to explore the realm of what’s really at stake, the realm of our humanity (and inhumanity).

There is the money-making factor of face news. Should we take advantage of it while it lasts?

There’s money in lots of things. Selling mortgage defaults, oxycotin, steaks. So if that’s your thing, have at. But the biggest money will go to those who own the sites that serve up the ads on news fake and real. Want big money? That way go.

Do you think there will always be suckers ready to share fake news? I hope so. It’s perhaps the most truly American virtue.

Stop that train!

On November 11th 2016, Scouts from Port Militarization Resistance noticed a train they were watching was about to leave the Port of Olympia, WA and called for a blockade of the railroad track before the train could leave. Folx blocked the train tracks to stop the train that was carrying fracking proppants to North Dakota. Shortly after the train rolled up to the human blockade, people began to bring couches and pallets to block the train. Food Not Bombs showed up with free food. The two people who were operating the train asked the blockade to move and claimed they were only carrying organic corn, but the occupation stood firm and refused to vacate the area. Word began to spread and the location of the initial blockade made the train stand off a highly visible spectacle, which helped to galvanize support and led to the train backing off and returning to the Port. The site of the blockade eventually moved to 7th & Jefferson on public land. Nightly General Assemblies were established to create a more horizontal decision making process. Some of the backbone of this resistance was houseless folx, who helped maintain the camp as well as organize it. What started as blocking a train resulted in an encampment with places to eat, sleep, hang out, and be merry. There was a kitchen area, and people brought food and drinks. There were couches and sleeping bags, and a tent full of extra coats, blankets, gloves for campers to use. This encampment allowed for a sense of community and solidarity, even in the face of state violence and repression. The blockade started small, but ultimately resulted in a mostly enclosed space, unable to see in or out from the front side, and unable to get in easily from all other sides as well.

A week later on November 18 the Oly Stand camp was raided by riot police with pepper balls, batons and concussion grenades.

There is no way to write about the camp without acknowledging the power of capitalism over all experiences in our society. Any dissent against capitalist exploitation, extraction, or production is faced with state repression on differing scales. Here we saw riot police. In other areas of North America and parts of the world, people are going up against automatic weapons. In the streets of the United States the police terrorize people of color with profiling, arrests and gunshots.

As we learn new ways to hit pressure points on the expansionist force of capital power, we can recognize the pressure points we push on ourselves, and our own communities. For the latter it might not be so much of a point as a flavor, a taste beyond blind constructs of control mechanisms and so called realism. There was an autonomous zone formed in a downtown nook on a layer of tracks. It was on stolen land that has not been reclaimed; and the dynamics between groups holding far swaying political ideologies and cultural normalities was far from utopia; but the action and the place it was held in further catalyzed public opposition, forged bonds and comradeship, and gave many who were involved a taste of what is worth dying for.

I witnessed how a primal and radical impulse awakened or strengthened in many as they poured themselves into building a statement and sustaining their companions. Many just needed the right time and platform for an opportunity. So maybe all along the tracks, the tracks built in the name of manifest destiny, the tracks ever growing old and brittle already being a choke point, a weak spot in the robber baron enterprise, its Achilles heel; maybe these tracks are our bow and arrow. Pressure points work both ways, when one side is compressed the other expands. When communities have room to expand they organize. To all those involved in the struggle, may you keep finding those pressure points. Fight on!

 

when T&*@p comes . . . anywhere

Slingshot got this call to action from comrades in Ottawa, Canada, but of course it applies . . . everwhere!

At some point after his inauguration on January 20th, 2017, US President Donald T***p will visit Canada, and very likely Ottawa. The Donald Trump UnWelcoming Committee invites you to join the organizing to resist Trump’s inevitable visit in 2017!

While the exact details of Trump’s visit are unknown, we’re not waiting for specifics. In solidarity with the massive and continuing anti-Trump protests across the United States, we aim to resist his racist, sexist, anti-immigrant, xenophobic, and far-right politics. We resist deportations and Muslim bans, call for open borders and cross-border alliances, and support peoples’ struggles, from the water defenders at Standing Rock to the Black Lives Matter movement.

We don’t put much stock in politicians or political parties — the only way we can build a truly better world is through creating and supporting the collective power of grassroots networks and movements. To that end, we are calling for large-scale, decentralized actions to take place when Trump visits Canada. We aim to create spaces for people to act and demonstrate with fewer relative risks, but we also support spaces where people can actively confront and disrupt any meetings.

Visit: trumpunwelcoming.org

 

Zine Reviews!

Radicals seem to love printed matter, as evident in seeing all the hub-bub that’s made for book fairs, infoshops, distros, study groups, free schools…you name it. A ton of paper thrashes onto this scene; pamphlets, zines, newsletters, journals and various new forms of organization not easily pigeon-holed. The world may seem to be turning less free but that shouldn’t stop us from thinking and dreaming out loud. Here’s some self-published works that have recently crossed our path.

Dispatches From Standing Rock

Dispatches From Standing Rock is a collection of previously published pieces that describe the weeks leading up to November 1. An interview with an anonymous protestor details the history of the Sacred Stone camp and gives a feel for daily life there. An excerpt from itsgoingdown.org discusses the millions of dollars of DAPL property damaged in Iowa and calls for people to come to Standing Rock but also to organize locally in their communities. A piece previously published on Facebook urges global solidarity with people at Standing Rock. Two pieces describe the events of October 27 when tear gas filled the sky and the camp directly impeding construction of the pipeline was bulldozed, detailing tensions between property destruction and non-violence, indigenous and non-indigenous, autonomous actions and those taken in context of solidarity. A compelling portrait of a few weeks in the life of Standing Rock encampments. (L. Sherman)

 

The Criminal Legal System for Radicals: Setting and Balancing Personal, Political, and Legal Goals by the Tilted Scales Collective, tiltedscales@riseup.net. Published by Strangers In A Tangled Wilderness.

Extracted from the upcoming book, A Tilted Guide to Being a Defendant from Combustion books, this is an informative ‘zine written with both legal theory and its political practice so an untrained comrade such as myself can better try to follow the twists and turns of the US injustice system. Available for free from tiltedscalescollective.org. (A. Iwasa)

The Shadow #59, Winter 2016-Spring 2017

shadowpress.org

$1.00 or mail order $2.50 by money order to: Shadow Press PO Box 20298, New York, NY 10009

I first found back issues of The Shadow in the Long Haul Infoshop’s periodical archive while doing research on squatting. There are a tiny handful of 20th century copies giving a glimpse not only into squatting in that era of New York City (NYC), but all over the world via scene reports!

Much to my joy, last year I discovered The Shadow is still in print! #59 includes hard hitting investigative journalism by Greg Palast exposing how the 2016 US Presidential Election was stolen by the Republicans, to a couple of different in depth accounts of gentrification in NYC via sleazy politicians and the investors who own them. These articles in particular I felt could be a model for Slingshot to work from in our analysis of the Bay Area’s rapid and heartbreaking gentrification.

Sharply laid out with a wide variety of articles, and high quality art and photography made this newspaper a pleasure to read, though make no mistake! It is a call to action that should be taken seriously. (A. Iwasa)

The Spaces Between

By the kids who never fucking left

spacesbetweentour.wordpress.com

thespacesbetween@riseup.net

A few people from Denver, Colorado, currently the fastest growing city in the US, put together this ‘zine full of interviews with people from Evansville, Indiana; Athens, Georgia; Minneapolis, rural British Columbia, Modesto, Louisville, and Tucson. They followed up with a tour that included some of the hotspots that could be characterized as local Anarchist Disney Lands such as Chicago and Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, but I think this makes sense and I am unoffended by the term they seem to only apply to the San Francisco Bay Area.

I found the interviews thoughtful and inspiring. I was a little perplexed that Minneapolis and Tucson were considered “Spaces Between” since I’ve spent time in both and consider them to be major hubs on several levels. I brought this up to one of the ‘zinesters, Josie, who replied: “We painted the idea of ‘the spaces between,’ with a pretty broad brush. While some cities or towns included in this first round of interviews can be considered hubs for anarchists, like Minneapolis, geographically it is isolated. In the future we plan to include Eugene, OR, which was once a major hub of anarchism and now has found itself to be much more of space between.

“We are continuing to work on this project, after taking a break to tend to other areas of our lives, and would love to hear from people who would like to participate! We hope to tour again in 2017 as well.”

The only thing I didn’t like was there wasn’t a way printed to contact the comrades in Evansville. There probably should have been info printed for all the interviewees, or at least projects they think are worth sticking around for. (A. Iwasa)

A Mountain River Has Many Bends: The History and Context of the Rojava Revolution

From Strangers In A Tangled Wilderness

tangledwilderness.org

This text is an excerpt from A Small Key Can Open A Large Door from Combustion Books. It is a great primer for both understanding the history of Kurdistan in the grand scheme of things and in the contemporary realm of national liberation struggles.

It should be required reading for everyone in the world even sympathetic to the Anti-Authoritarian Left who can read English. In fact, it should probably be read and discussed by everyone who can get access to the text one way or another. It can be downloaded for free from the website above, and I’ve made a point of reading it twice to help further my understanding of the Rojavan Revolution. (A. Iwasa)

 

ClockTower Nine #11 $3

Danny c/o Spin Cycle

321 Broadway East

Seattle, WA 98102

Various perspectives covering things like favorite records, the outlawing of Pinball machines in the 1940′s, post card messages, Cleveland and the psychology of buying clothes. This reminds me of the kind of shit people made before the internet took over as it opens up the world in its own way. (egg)

 

Cans on the Shelf AKA Restless Legs

$7 USA $10 World

www.cargocollective.com/bryanbrybry

Take the highline with this photozine as it travels across the US in mid-2016. Featured here is this generation’s young people who “Having Little Being Much” are rendered in full color at off-the-map locations that are intimate. A document of life at the edge….and very soon into oblivion. (egg)

 

Parents On Parenting (POPS)#1

Jonas PO Box 633 Chicago IL. 60690

popszine@gmail.com

The Editor opens this first issue wearing his self doubts on his sleeve setting the tone that a parent is not merely an authority figure, but someone grappling with flaws and crisis. The contributors bring with them a variety of approaches that challenge the popular image of family in the modern world. Including the dilemma of radicals subverting a child’s run-ins with gender norms or the stigma towards disability–that will make some people raise their eyebrow. One piece borders on existenstial while another seem like notes to a therapist. A mixed bag. (Egg)

 

Dropkick Slurpee#2 $2

dropkickslurpee@gmail.com

Bored teenager fighting back using an art pen and a 3rd eye aiming towards outer space. Punk, junk food and creatures of an unknown origin on display in a comic book fashion. (egg)

 

Cheap Toys#19

Giz c/o CIRA

50, Rue Consolat

13001 Marseille France

Another zine rooted in travel, punk, radical polictics and a general tone of human warmth. There’s a subtext of border crossing as the narrator bounces and hitchhikes across Europe, sliping between writing in French and English. Haunting Anarchist libraries, sleeping on couches and making art yet there’s a sense of wearieness with how things are changing for the worse. This zine’s style atests to the lingering inspiration that charted a life of hope for the author. (egg)

Who Will Stand Up to T?#*p? We Will!

By Keith McHenry

We the people will stand up to Trump. Creating a strategy on how to transform America into a sustainable, post-capitalist society will take imagination. There are things we can do to prepare, to fight back.

Forming affinity groups is an important first step. An affinity group is simply a voluntary group formed around a common goal or interest. Such groups typically have five to ten participants who know one another and meet at least once a month, sometimes as much as several times a week. An affinity group provides a space for discussing tactics, strategies, and specific actions. It also provides a place to work cooperatively on projects. Importantly, it also serves as a means of mutual support and validation, a means of overcoming the crushing isolation that keeps people alone, disempowered, and hopeless; it can provide inspiration and stir the imagination in these dark times.

The longer a group works together, the more trust and strength it will have. Many affinity groups are organized in a non-hierarchical manner, often using a consensus decision making process, and are frequently made up of trusted friends. Affinity groups provide a means of organization that is both flexible and decentralized, and that makes it easy for like-minded groups to coordinate their activities.

A number of affinity groups can be formed into what activists call “clusters.” For example, in the effort to stop the Seabrook Nuclear Power Station in New Hampshire, clusters formed in geographic locations such as Boston, North Shore, and so on. All participating affinity groups would send representatives to cluster meetings, and any decisions they made then had to be approved by participants in the member groups.

Where this process fails is when large groups try to come to consensus on every minor matter. We saw this problem often during the Occupy Wall Street movement. Detailed discussions of minor things is better kept at the affinity group level, or, even better, are best left to work groups. An example would be food procurement and preparation at large gatherings and actions, which is usually delegated to Food Not Bombs or other work group.

An affinity group structure can help sustain blockades of rail lines, ports, highways, pipelines and other infrastructure needed to continue fascism. Access to food, water and shelter could be impacted for many of us. Affinity groups of food providers, medics, lawyers, artists, authors, musicians, construction workers, seamstresses, plumbers, electricians, gardeners, bicycle mechanics, scientists, yoga practitioners, teachers, software developers, media people and the many other skills will be necessary to sustain blockades, occupations and self defense efforts.

An affinity group can provide both emotional and practical support. The dire reports on our failing society can be stressful. Having close friends in an affinity group to talk with could be essential. Knowing that we have practical support if jailed can make it possible for more of us to take risks. We could share important passwords with a trusted ally and provide access to our homes so plants can be watered and pets cared for. If risking arrest we may want to give a designated member of the affinity group the birth dates, legal names, important people to contact and have a lawyer available. An affinity group could be vital as we experience the advent of “naked fascism.”

If thousands of us dedicate ourselves to forming affinity groups, organize nonviolent direct action preparations in our local communities, build decentralized networks of activists, and plan for an increase in harsh political repression we might be able to provide a solid foundation for opposing whatever Trump, corporate capitalism and fascism have to deliver. See you at the next action. Don’t mourn, organize!

Keith is a Food Not Bombs co-founder and author of Hungry for Peace and The Anarchist Cookbook

 

The Many Coups in Brazil: The Current Condition of State Violence

By Acácio Augusto

The main agent of violence in modern societies is the State. Through violence, it defines and maintains itself. Contrary to popular belief Brazil is an extremely violent country, despite the popular stereotype of football and carnival. This violence is directly connected to the high level of police lethality. In 2015 alone, 58,383 people were murdered, 160 killed each day, according to official government data compiled by the Brazilian Forum on Public Security in 2016. 3,345 of these deaths are attributed directly to the police, but a number of factors that link other deaths indirectly to police action must be considered. In general, the vast majority of the population applaud the police action.

Besides the violent and predatory colonial history of Brazil and the fact that it was the last country in the Americas to abolish slavery, recent factors contribute to this extreme lethality. In 1964 the country suffered a civil-military coup that inaugurated the series of coups in South America with US intervention as a way to secure the zone of influence in the context of the Cold War. However, when the civil-military regime ended in 1985, the so-called “slow, gradual and safe transition” did not extirpate from public life the various social sectors that sustained and benefited from the period of exception: from large media communication groups to sectors of regional rural oligarchies. The so-called political opening was the result of a pact among the elites. It met the demands of so-called civil society, which corresponded to the new planetary guidelines synthesized by the UN in the context of the collapse of the Soviet world.

In the XXth century, Brazil had a cycle of so-called progressive governments, inaugurated by two mandates of a sociologist of Marxist tendencies, linked to the “Social Democrat” party, of neo-liberal policies; followed by a former union leader and a former guerrilla woman connected to the fight against the civil-military dictatorship, both belonging to the PT (Worker’s Party), which boasts of being the largest party of the masses in the Americas. This sequence of governments in a formal democracy without military interference in political life ushered in a cycle of prosperity, arousing strong hopes both internally and externally: a country that would finally “work.” The recent impeachment process, completed in the second half of 2016, which overthrew the second term of the president by direct vote seems to have halted this cycle. This causes many in Brazil, especially the sectors close to the former government to proclaim the process a coup!

In fact, the process that toppled the president was fraught with legal maneuvering, games with public opinion, and petty interests of representatives of the legislature. Added to this was an intensification of conservative and even fascist positions in society, both in the middle and lower classes. In the last decade, and along with historical State racism in Brazil, the hatred of the different has gained ground in the country, and is amplified in digital social networks and has found political representatives that use this discourse. However, it would be wrong, or even simplistic, to attribute the impeachment of the president as the culmination of an authoritarian escalation in the country. As if, after the so-called coup, democracy would have been undermined. From an anarchist perspective, what is happening today in Brazil is a logical consequence of a representative state democratic regime that is only maintained by an extreme judicialization of life and politics and a government practice that is increasingly reduced to hyperbolic security production, in spite of any other political and social value, even democracy. This did not begin with the deposition of the president. Even if the consummation of this fact has generated, in the language of the constitutionalists, a legal insecurity and has legitimized conservative sectors that saw in PT government a communist threat, no matter how absurd it is.

The 13-year PT government brags about having achieved a number of goals set by international institutions such as the UN. The main one would be the eradication of misery by means of income assistance to the poorest. In addition, it advertises a number of social policies related to the expansion of retail credit, popular housing programs, and student credit programs. In short, the democratic government of the left in Brazil promoted a politics that included consumption and produced a mass of new debt. This is something that the banks, state and private sector, appreciate. Not only that. This government has been at the forefront of developmental mega-projects, such as the construction of the Belo Monte Hydroelectric Power Plant, with damage to indigenous and riparian peoples. And like every social democracy in the post-Berlin Wall world, it invested heavily in security. It created a new repressive police in 2004, the National Security Force. It carried out a program of mass incarceration that began in the previous government and poured rivers of money into the pacification policy of the favelas in Rio de Janeiro, the UPP (Pacifying Police Units), the cross-border face of MINUSTAH, a UN military intervention in Haiti led by the Brazilian army. One of the last acts of the president was the creation of an Anti-Terrorism Law that opens brutal legal precedents for the criminalization of social movements.

The point of no return for politics and social contestation in Brazil were the days of June 2013, which witnessed unprecedented and spectacular demonstrations across the country. Initiated in São Paulo, amid the protests against the increase in the collective transportation fare, these demonstrations put in question the narrative of great Brazil and the country that finally succeeded. This would be confirmed by the reception of planetary mega-events such as the UN’s RIO+20, the FIFA World Cup, and the IOC Olympics, scheduled, respectively, for the years 2012, 2014 and 2016. Many of those who went to the streets warned that in this large Brazil, poor, black and indigenous were still being murdered by the State; historical inequalities continued to be reinforced; the former persecutors of the sociological president, the syndicalist president and the guerrilla president, are now the allies of government. The emergence of the ungovernable on the streets in June 2013 exposed its intolerability to any government, the insufficiency of democracy, and opened a rift for manifestation of anti-political revolts that did not fit into the plans and papers of the current misery managers in the country.

The government, even if it was anointed as progressive, left and democratic, acted as any state would act: it severely repressed the protests. Promptly, the press and a number of political (left and right) analysts produced a flurry of “analyzes,” differentiating “peaceful” demonstrators from “vandals,” the latter identified among anarchists, autonomists that were not connected to any party or social movements aligned with the government, and especially practitioners of black bloc tactics. With the vandals expelled from the streets by police bombs and clubs, the so-called peaceful demonstrators were gradually occupying these streets. But this time, dressed in the Brazilian flag and asking for greater morality of the rulers, greater punishment to offenders of high and low politics, and with demands that went from the impeachment of the then president to the requests for new intervention of the military. Finally, the centrality of the State and its violence was restored, after brutal repression to the ungovernable and a troubled electoral process in October of 2014.

From an anarchist perspective, there is nothing to be regretted about this process, except to continue to fight against State violence and the exploitations of capitalism. However, if today, January 2017, the country faces a president who was not directly elected by vote, the scary growth of hate speech against blacks, gays, women and all manner of manifestation of difference and political protest, and violent manifestations spread from police in street demonstrations to beheadings inside prisons, this is due to the fact that, at the moment when State violence was put on the streets, the Left who then occupied the government did everything to restore its centrality.

Call it a coup or impeachment, the current political situation of instability in Brazil is the sequence of historical blows perpetrated here by oligarchs, military and political leaders / managers who never hesitate to restore and reaffirm the centrality and violence of the State. Despite extremely worrying economic issues, Brazil continues, as before, with the world’s most deadly police. And as any anarchist knows, the police are the permanent coup d’etat.

There is no solution or salvation for the present situation, but the continuous fight or the small war, as recalled Proudhon. There is the rebel struggle against the misery of State’s wars, waged beyond the borders and against those declared enemies within. Since June 2013, autonomous struggles have grown in Brazil, as well as interest in anarchy. Nonetheless, a conservative movement has also emerged and, unlike other moments in this country’s history, has taken the streets and organized itself in the shape of a “social movement”. These groups, from the elected-president’s impeachment, managed to give vent to the conservatism of the Brazilian society. Anarchists continue their struggles while the institutional left fight for hegemony. We remain on the streets with black flags and the black blocs, at the universities with our researches and publications that defy the order. We refused the order during the so-called left government and we still during the new governmental conformation of the neo-liberal rationality that announces a conservative adjustment in all planet. Our work is of the craftsman in the construction of a different life, in the transformation of the self, in the fight against what we are and in war to the State and Society.

Acácio Augusto is a member of nu-sol – anarchist association that does research, publications, records, and actions towards anarchy and against the punitive system – www.nu-sol.org).

 

 

[FOR THE PICTURES]

Picture 1 (“ataque à polícia”): A black bloc activist attacks the police at June 2013 in São Paulo. By Vice Brasil

Picture 2 (“antifa SP”): Gathering for the demonstration against the bus fare, organized by MPL (Free Transportation Fares Movement). January 2016 in front of Municipal Theatre of São Paulo. At the center of it the Antifa SP flag. By W. Raeder

Picture 3 (“BB Copa”): Black bloc positioned against the police in action against the World Cup in 2014, Rio de Janeiro. Unknown author

Picture 4 (“BBs”): Black blocs with shields at an action in Sao Paulo downtown, in June 2013. Unknown author

Picture 5 (“estudantes RJ”): Two students in a Rio de Janeiro’s school that has been occupied, holding a sign: “Fuck the Military Police”. February 2016. Unknown author

Picture 6 (“contra a olimpíada”): Black blocs with flares in Act against the 2016′s Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, in the city downtown, August 2015. Unknown author

Picture 7 (“flávio galvão”): Black blocs destroy police car in Sao Paulo, at the Republica neighbourhood, in June 2013. By Flávio Galvão, ADVP (People’s Video Direct Action)

Picture 8 (“imagem oficina”): Black blocs in June 2013 against the Police in Rio de Janeiro. Unknown author)

Picture 9 (“leviatã”): Anti Riot Military Police in Sao Paulo, lined to defend the windows of a movie theatre at Avenida Paulista in Sao Paulo. January 2016. At the backcround the movie’s poster: “Leviathan”. Unknown author

Picture 10 (“acácio vix”): Act against the bus fare at downtow, in Vitoria, Espirito Santo State. January 2016 . By Andre Lima

 

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Grain of Truth

By Leonie Sherman

“Tomorrow only fasting and praying to stop the pipeline!” declared Dorothy Sun Bear. It was the night before a national holiday that’s been celebrated with feasting since the Civil War, but there was no appetite for gratitude in the Oglala Wounded Knee Dining Hall, half a mile north of the Standing Rock Reservation. Four dozen people turned to Sun Bear and the bustling army tent fell silent.

“We don’t have nothing to be thankful for! They’re still stealing our land, they’re still digging up our ancestors!” She spat the words in disgust. “And we’re still fighting like we have been for 500 years.”

Sun Bear, a Lakota woman from Wounded Knee on the Pine Ridge Reservation, saw a video of a grandma getting tackled by Morton County Sheriffs four months ago. The grandma was resisting construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) where it was slated to cross the Missouri River. A spill, rupture or leak—there have been 3,300 such incidents nationwide in the past six years —would pollute the drinking water for her relatives on the Standing Rock reservation in North Dakota and 18 million people living downstream.

“I had to come here to defend her,” explained Sun Bear on Wednesday, Nov. 23. She brought six of her children and grandchildren. “We’re staying until the end, until we win. Then we’ll celebrate Thanksgiving.”

On Nov. 24, Oceti Sakowin, the main camp, swelled to an estimated 10,000 people. I had arrived four days early after a grueling three day driving marathon from Santa Cruz. “I think that one of the reasons people are coming here is because Donald Trump got elected,” says Madonna Thunderhawk, a Cheyenne-River Sioux who has been living at camp with her daughter and son-in-law since August. “I mean, where else can you go in this country right now to experience any kind of hope for positive change?”

It’s all about the land,” says Thunderhawk, gesturing at the brown rolling hills and bristling tipis of Oceti Sakowin. “People come out here with a lot of different agendas, but for us it’s always been about the land. Our ancestors are buried here. We come from here. We grow up here. This isn’t about climate change for us, it’s about the place we call home. The land is all we’ve got. We don’t have anything else left.”

 

 

“We aren’t just doing this for our people who live right downstream, whose drinking water will be contaminated by a spill,” continues Thunderhawk. “We’re doing this for all the rest of the people who live downstream as well, for all of us whose waters will be affected by an accident here.”

Security guard Hunter Short Bear, a Lakota from the Spirit Lake Nation, spent Thanksgiving Day responding to rumors of a camp raid and dealing with the constant stream of cars clogging the entrance station. “Today is supposed to be about giving thanks and coming together with family,” he says, gesturing at the dusty prairie bustling with activity. Supporters from around the world are bundled against the bitter wind, carrying lumber, sawing nails, hauling water and splitting wood. “Well, here we are. We’re all family now.”

“For us, Thanksgiving was never about family or friends,” says Tara Begay, a young Dine woman from the Navajo Reservation. “Our grandma used to tell us it was a time to remember those who have passed and what they fought for. To us, Thanksgiving was about genocide. It was about murder.”

Many people at the camp ignored the official government holiday completely. “There’s no vacations in camp,” says Everett Bowman, who is part Dine and part Paiute and calls the Owens Valley home. “We’re always working.” Sam Tame Horse Gallegos, a Mescalero Apache who lives in Pueblo Colorado, echoed that sentiment. “I came here to be part of this struggle however I can,” he says. “I’m going to spend the day helping out around camp, just like I do every day I’m here.”

“Normally on this day, the tribe gives us free food and we have a big dinner,” explains Sun Bear. “We’ve been programmed to celebrate the stealing of our land. That’s got to stop, we have to change that. We’re not thankful they took our land and stole all our natural resources. So, we’re fasting. My family won’t celebrate on this day anymore. We will fast and pray.”

BeaVi McCovey has been fasting on this day for over 50 years. She travelled here from the Yurok Reservation in Northern California and plans to stay through the winter. “My great-grandmother told me that the first mistake our people made in contact with white people was to feed them. She said if we’d just let them starve, we could have come back a year later and they all would have been dead,” she says. “We would still have our land and our way of life.”

“My mom thought Thanksgiving was a day to feed people who didn’t have money or a place to go, so there was always a big crowd at my house that day. Well, I thought this was a great opportunity to get up on my soap box. I would only drink water, and when people asked why I wasn’t eating, I would tell them what my great grandma told me.” McCovey smiles at the memory. She has fasted on this day since she was 9 years old.

But this year, she broke her fast. “I worked so hard with everyone, preparing the meal, I called it the harvest feast,” McCovey says. “It was such a communal effort. And then all these different natives sat down together and we shared what we had. It felt so great to be in a community of people that are gathered in prayer and ceremony.”

McCovey pauses to reflect on her time with the American Indian Movement and occupations she participated in decades ago. “We were more militant then, it seemed like a fight to the death. It feels so much more peaceful here. Maybe it’s because there’s no drugs or alcohol here, maybe I’m just older now.” She stops and squints into the smoky campfire. “The resistance here is so powerful because it’s a spiritual resistance,” she says finally. “We all have different beliefs, but we’re all here in prayer.”

Those joined in prayer represent the largest and most diverse gathering of indigenous people on the continent, maybe on the planet. “A month ago 3/4 of the registered tribes were present here and today there’s even more,” says Farron King, a 28-year old Cheyenne-River Blackfoot. “I was just kickin’ it with some Pawnee and some Crow; traditionally our people were enemies. So thank you oil companies for bringing all these indigenous people together!” He beams as he looks around at the young people with whom he shares the International Indigenous Youth Council Camp on the south shore of the Cannonball River.

One of those people is Mia Stevens, a 22-year old woman from the Paiute Reservation in Nevada, who is of Mexica, Ute, Dine, Paiute and Puerto Rican descent.

“On Thursday we wanted to make an honorable prayer for the trauma and genocide our people have been through, to heal the hatred and pain that led to. So we marched in silence to Turtle Island,” she says. Half an hour walk from her camp, on a hill above the Missouri River, lies an ancient burial ground that DAPL dug through to lay a section of pipeline a few weeks ago. Natives call the site Turtle Island. DAPL guards it with riot cops.

“We sang and prayed for the next seven generations, that they wouldn’t have to fight the way we do. Over a thousand people stood with us. We only sang our ceremonial songs. We approached the guards, in peace, and asked them to stand down,” she says, her eyes glowing with the memory. “They didn’t, but some of them lowered their face shields to respect our prayers. That was really big. Because we pray for them too. We know they’re just doing their jobs. We’re doing this for their children too.”

“Some celebrities offered us a big dinner and all this feasting, but we said no,” Stevens recalls, shaking her head. “We don’t want their pity food. We want them to stand with us. We want them to pray with us.”

“We don’t call what we’re doing actions or protests,” explains King. “We call them prayers. Everything we do out here is with peace and with prayer. When I came out here I started learning my language and our songs. When we all sing together, I can feel myself growing like a tree.” He inhaled deeply and straightened his spine, sitting up taller. “Now that we’ve found our way, we’ll never stop fighting. This is just the beginning.”

 

The Gotcha Game – calling for Safe Spaces for Crybaby Snowflake Ignorant Entitled White Cis Men

By Karma

There’s a game radicals, progressives, and liberals like to play. We are always looking for the turncoat in our midst. Did you catch someone confusing transsexual with transgender? Five points for you. Someone ignorantly, but not sarcastically, asks “what’s wrong with the phrase All Lives Matter,” 10 points for you. Sexist blonde joke? 4 points. We collect these points when we call out what we see for what it is: racism, sexism, homophobia, etc. And what do you get for all these points? You get to hide behind your accusations, behind your pointing finger. This is classic projection. If we can prove how racist someone else is, we will prove our own knowledge and superiority and no one will notice our own racist thoughts.

Perhaps you are thinking, “I am not racist.” This is a dangerous thought. It immediately makes me suspicious.

But my intent is not to wag my finger and shame you for your dirty, dirty -isms. No, I’m here to tell you to keep your wagging fingers to yourself.

My approach to racism is based on the work of Beverly Daniel Tatum, who compared race to smog: if you’re around it every day, you’re bound to get polluted. Like the puppets in Avenue Q sing, “Everyone’s a little bit racist.” We can apply Tatum’s logic to all the -isms. Sexism and the rules of gender are a collection of memes that people on the left are bombarded with relentlessly. A Kindergartener knows not to describe her friend by race; she knows that the princess is supposed to be rescued. By Tatum’s logic, though I’m a woman, I’m indoctrinated with sexist thoughts. Like when I catch myself assuming that a stranger on the Internet is a man, or how I enjoy objectifying women in movies. It’s harder to examine these tendencies in ourselves, so easy to call it out in others. Easier to deflect, deny. The Gotcha Game is seldom solitaire.

I’m not saying you shouldn’t call people on their bullshit. The examples above are offensive. But is your intent to help them grow, or is it to prove your own righteousness? If you acknowledge that ignorance is like smog, then you acknowledge that we all have to do work to become better people. Having faced our own imperfections, we will be gentle with the feelings of someone else who messes up. We are asking them to confront themselves. That’s hard enough.

I am a social justice warrior, because I am fighting for social justice. I’m not ashamed of that. Fighting for social justice sometimes means uncomfortable conversations. I want people to say these offensive things in my presence, because I want to have dialog. Dialog is only possible when people feel safe to express their view or ask questions.

For example, I once met a punk who opposed affirmative action because, as a white man with a mohawk, he too faced discrimination. Gotcha! It would have been easy to call him out for his racism, put him on the defensive as no doubt he expected. Instead I asked if he knew that most affirmative action jobs go to women, not minorities. I told him about how the first skinhead punks shaved their heads in solidarity with the unemployed Rastafarians who had to shave their locks. And without malice I pointed out that he could shave his hawk, but a minority can’t shed her skin. He admitted that he hadn’t thought it through, and I commended him for being so open-minded.

You might be thinking, “I’m not here to educate dumb racists. They need to educate themselves.” I get it. I run out of patience too, but we must fight this inclination. The Gotcha Game has real consequences, dangerous ones, as this election has shown.

The first is that people are turned away from our movements because they don’t feel safe asking questions. I’m not talking about allowing harassment or discrimination, people play the Gotcha Game around even the most innocent mistakes. Like the young white punk, these are allies who are just trying to sort through the smog of xenophobia and misogyny we’re all breathing in. But that can’t happen if we make him too uncomfortable to ask questions. .

Second, there is backlash to the Gotcha Game. Yes, we want to create safe spaces for marginalized people. But Reddit, Tumblr, and Facebook aren’t safe spaces. We shouldn’t want to enforce a strict no-offense policy in the world, because the world isn’t fucking safe. Like smog, shitty discrimination is lurking everywhere. It doesn’t help to hide it.

You can’t convince fascists to believe in human rights. They believe that the world is cruel and therefore any kind of rights are a lie to give a leg up to those who are currently winning. The fascists believe that might makes right, so being oppressed makes you inherently inferior. But most people aren’t fascist. Most people want very much want to believe that humans are good, that they themselves can be good. Yet there is a huge backlash against anything left-wing because people think that progressives are judgmental.

With real, sustained, open dialog people can be swayed. But no one listens when they are being chastised. Telling people what language they’re allowed to use doesn’t make anyone safe. It just makes them angry, and drives them into the arms of the fascists.

This article is one example of the sort of delightfully offensive, post-utopian smack talk you can find at the new website, reth.ink, edited by two of your favorite Slingshot-wielding women.