Category Archives: Spring 2003 (2/13/03)

Mental Health System FOrce Feeds Psyche Drugs

When the American Psychiatric Association brings thousands of its members to San Francisco this May, maybe it’s time for “mad pride.”

Some of the most profitable corporations in the history of the world are in the mental health system, such as the manufacturers of psychiatric drugs. How do we learn about and challenge the domination of these corporations? How can we create viable, humane, empowering alternatives?

On Sunday, May 18, 2003, there will be a nonviolent “freedom rally” in San Francisco in front of the Annual Meeting of the American Psychiatric Association at the Moscone Center, 1 pm. The demands: “Human Rights, Choice, Self-Determination & Freedom in the Mental Health System!”

Our mental freedom is under siege internationally and in California. If someone wants to use psychiatric drugs, they can; but the drugs should not be forced, coerced and pushed. Forced outpatient psychiatric drugging is now legal in California, and most US states. That means anyone in California could be court ordered to take powerful, addictive and brain-damaging psychiatric drugs against their will.

The Bush Administration is attacking our civil liberties using the mental health system. Bush’s latest mental health adviser is an American Enterprise Institute psychiatrist, Sally Satel. Her book on “politically correct medicine” worries that “mental patients are taking over the asylums.” Satel recommends that thousands of more Americans be forcibly drugged.

This western-style medical approach to the mental health system is being exported internationally and globalized by new multi-billion dollar programs sponsored by the World Health Organization and the World Bank.

This protest is a good time to unite with other movements impacted by the mental health system such as disability, youth, poor, homeless, women, people of color, peace, gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgender, and many others. This year is the 30th anniversary of the APA pretending to remove homosexuality from its list of labels.

Initial co-sponsors are groups of psychiatric survivors/mental health consumers: MindFreedom – Support Coalition International, California Network of Mental Health Clients, Mental Health Consumer Concerns.

On February 2, a thirty-person planning meeting met all day to help organize activities. Watch for details to be announced about a FREEDOM FAIR on Saturday, May 17, 2003, with booths, exhibits and a town hall to plan out exactly how the inmates will indeed take over the asylums.

This is a preliminary call for action. Updates & final details or if your group is interested in co-sponsoring or endorsing or simply joining the M18 planning e-mail list contact: www.MindFreedom.org; Support Coalition International; 454 Willamette; POB 11284; Eugene, OR 97440 USA; e-mail: office@mindfreedom.org. ph: (541) 345-9106. Toll free. 1-877-MAD-PRIDE

Free Ed, Free Yr Head

When the Bush administration decided to prosecute marijuana activist and author Ed Rosenthal for growing medical marijuana as an deputized Officer of the City Oakland, the Feds figured they would “make an example” of Ed and try to frighten the whole medical cannabis movement. But, like bungling keystone cops, the whole strategy backfired and ended up making the federal marijuana laws look even stupider than they had looked before.

The DEA was able to get a jury to convict Ed of growing marijuana, but to do so, they had to hide all of the real evidence from the jury. Jurors weren’t told that Ed was growing medical marijuana or that he was doing so at the behest of the City of Oakland. The government took the added precaution of throwing everyone off the jury who reported that they supported California Proposition 215, a ballot measure passed by a large margin that legalized medical marijuana in California.

Almost immediately after the jury rendered their verdict, they realized what a horrible mistake they had made. Days later, 7 of the 12 jurors protested their own verdict and called for a new trial, saying that if they had known the real facts, they would have acquitted Ed. The jurors, some of them shaken and in tears at a protest in front of the San Francisco Federal Building, said they felt they had been lied to and used by the government. The whole thing once again shows the heavy hand of the government and the stupid war on drugs. “There is no such thing as medical marijuana,” Richard Meyer, a spokesman for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, told the Associated Press. Referring to the conflict between state and federal law, He noted, “We’re Americans first, Californians second.”

For anyone on any future jury hearing any kind of marijuana charge in California or any other state with medical marijuana laws, this means you’ll have to assume that the defendant was actually growing medical marijuana, and thus should be acquitted. Since the government is going conceal evidence of medical weed, you can’t take the risk of convicting an innocent person. (Check out the screed on jury nullification, below.)

At the moment, Ed is free on bail, and various appeals are sure to be filed. If his conviction stands, he will be sentenced to a mandatory minimum of 5 years in jail for growing the plants. The fed decision to pick on an isolated individual, rather than taking action against California’s law, is the kind of cruel retribution that seems so popular in these days of war at home and abroad.

While Ed’s case has received extensive media attention, the real story are the hundreds of thousands of people who have been arrested, prosecuted, imprisoned — had their lives turned upside down or ruined — in the government’s failed war against pot. Despite billions of dollars and untold tides of human suffering, it is clearly impossible to stamp out marijuana. Nor does it make sense — at least a third of the country has tried pot, with no obvious ill effects. (Okay, a few hours of stupidity, perhaps, and some laughing at jokes that weren’t funny, but does that really justify a prison term?) A recent poll found that 80 percent of Americans support legalized medical marijuana.

(source: NY Times, Feb. 05, 2003)

Jury Nullification

At the very least, Ed’s case is a good lesson on the role of jury nullification — the power of a jury to go against a judge’s instructions and acquit a defendant if members of the jury decide that the law under which a person is tried is unjust. While the best solution to these problems is to get ride of the DEA, the government, the Courts, etc., until this happens, jury duty provides a great opportunity to impose some “checks and balances” on government authority.

Following are some (liberal based) points about this whole thing taken off the internet that are kind of interesting, even though we by no means endorse the “founding fathers”:

“I consider trial by jury as the only anchor ever yet imagined by man, by which a government can be held to the principles of its constitution,” said Thomas Jefferson in a 1789 letter to Thomas Paine. His comments presuppose laws which go above and beyond the national charter (such as drug prohibition today) and the jury’s vital role in seeing that no citizens are harmed by such tyrannical legislation.

John Adams, the second American president, sang from the same hymnal. “It is not only [the juror’s] right, but his duty,” he said in 1771, “to find the verdict according to his own best understanding, judgment, and conscience, though in direct opposition to the direction of the court.”

Likewise, in an 1804 libel case, Alexander Hamilton argued that “the jury have an undoubted right to give a general verdict, which decides both law and fact.”

“This distribution of power, by which the court and jury mutually assist, and mutually check each other,” Hamilton continued, “seems to be the safest, and consequently the wisest arrangement, in respect to the trial of crimes. … To judge accurately of motives and intentions, does not require a master’s skill in the science of law. It depends more on a knowledge of the passions, and of the springs of human action, and may be the lot of ordinary experience and sagacity.”

In other words, the people are deemed sensible enough to decide when one of their fellows is getting the shaft from an unjust law. This only makes sense. The people are judged sensible enough to elect legislators in the first place. If things go awry after the ballot box, the jury box provides one more place to check and stop the progress of tyranny by nullifying bad laws passed by those legislators.

Far from viewing nullification as a gateway to random enforcement of law, the founders viewed it as an essential tool for combating despotism and preserving liberty – one more method of denying absolute power to any single man or governing body.

Find out more about the rights and duties of juries at Fully Informed Jury Association — www.fija.org

Deny Detainment

As Slingshot goes to press, it is possible funding for the INS Special Registration Program will be killed by Congress. Unless and until it is, check out the following:

In mid-November Attorney General John Ashcroft ordered all male non-citizens age 16 and older who are nationals of certain countries to voluntarily appear at INS offices for photographing, fingerprinting, and interrogation. People from Iran, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Sudan, Afghanistan, Algeria, Bahrain, Eritrea, Liberia, Morocco, North Korea, Oman, Qatar, Somalia, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, Yemen, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia were required to register. Anyone who failed to register was subject to immediate deportation.

By the end of the first deadline, the INS in southern California had detained 1,000 men and boys, fully a quarter of all those who came to register. The men, mostly Iranians, were held for days in deplorable conditions, denied access to lawyers or their families, packed 30 and 40 into freezing cells with no beds, no showers and inadequate food. The Los Angeles jails were so crowded that hundreds were transported to jails in other states. Mass detentions were also reported in Houston and Cleveland. In all but a handful of cases, those detained had minor problems with their paperwork, often the result of INS bungling. Most have now been released on bail, but must return for INS hearings.

This special registration affects tens of thousands of immigrants from Arab and Muslim countries who are here on valid work and study visas. Many of these men have been in this country for years. They are scientists, doctors, teachers, students, and artists. Many of those detained were in the process of becoming permanent residents.

The stated goal of the registration program, which has its origins in the USA Patriot Act, is to counter terrorism. In fact, these mass registrations and detentions are a continuation of a government strategy to criminalize and dehumanize immigrants from Arab, Muslim, and South Asian countries, and to get us all used to restrictions on our basic freedoms in the name of national security. The registration of Arabs and Muslims is chillingly reminiscent of the roundup of the Jews in Nazi Germany and the internment of Japanese Americans in this country during World War II.

What you should know if you are subject to special registration

You Should Not Report For Special Registration Without First Speaking To An Immigration Lawyer. If INS believes you have violated your non-immigrant status or if a name check produces a “hit,” you are likely to be detained by INS and placed in removal [deportation] proceedings. To obtain information about free legal clinics on Special Registration being held in the SF Bay area, please call the American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee-San Francisco Chapter (AAADC) at 415 861-7444. If you are detained by INS and do not have an attorney, call the National Lawyers Guild INS Hotline at 415 285-1041.

You may be detained for any one of the following reasons (or others) if you report for special registration.

  • You have overstayed your non-immigrant visa;
  • You have worked without INS authorization;
  • You have failed to report for special registration;
  • You have had any kind of contact with the police;
  • You have failed to appear for an INS court hearing or interview at any time since you arrived in the US;
  • You have failed to appear in any court;
  • You failed to attend school after being admitted as a nonimmigrant student;
  • You have changed employers without obtaining another H-1 visa;
  • You are no longer working for your H-1 employer;
  • You entered the US with K-1 visa but didn’t get married

If a friend or family member came with you to special registration and you are arrested or detained, insist on being able to speak with that person before you are moved from the INS building. Ask an INS Detention Officer for your A number and give the number to your friend or family member who you should ask to call your attorney immediately. When you are moved to a new detention facility, call your friend or family member to let them know where you are.

Men who have reported for special registration and have been detained have been held for periods from overnight to ten days or longer. You will be detained until INS or the immigration judge sets a bond in your case and you are able to post the bond. Although you may be eligible for a bond, INS has been refusing to recommend a bond which means you must wait to be taken before an immigration judge to have a bond set in your case. In some situations, you may be ineligible for a bond because of existing immigration laws. Your bond may be $1,500 or more. Your family or friends will need to post the bond for you. When your deportation/removal case in the immigration court is completed, the full amount of the bond will be returned to you. If your friends and family do not have enough money to post the bond, they may post a surety bond through a bonding company. This money will not be returned to them and you may have to pay an annual renewal fee to the company.

Who Is On the Inside?

Accounts from INS Jail

On December 3 Roger Calero, a 12-year permanent resident, was arrested by immigration cops at the Houston airport on his way back from a reporting assignment in Guadalajara, Mexico. Released December 10 on his own recognizance after the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) district director was flooded with protest messages from around the world, Calero still faces a deportation hearing.

Houston–”I’ve worked on a lot of government projects,” said Mariano Tovar, a construction worker locked up in this immigration jail together with this reporter.

“I painted the courthouse and the local jail in Nacogdoches,” Tovar said. “I even worked on the construction of this jail in 1981.”

Recounting his personal story, he ran down a long list of government and other construction projects he had worked on since moving to the United States 34 years ago. Tovar, who was living in Nacogdoches, Texas, northeast of Houston, at the time of his arrest, arrived from Mexico in 1968. He became a permanent resident through the federal government’s 1986 general amnesty. A year ago he began his application for U.S. citizenship.

El Abuelo (Grandpa), as the younger workers here call Tovar, swapping experiences in the prison dormitory, was arrested a few weeks ago when he went to the INS offices to renew his expired green card. The immigration police is trying to use a conviction from more than 30 years ago as grounds to deport him.

The Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act, passed in 1996, expanded the number of crimes for which a person could be deemed “deportable,” including offenses as minor as trespassing or joyriding. The INS has sought to impose its own interpretation of the law by applying it retroactively, that is, to convictions that took place before the law was enacted.

One of the workers locked up here, originally from Nigeria, is facing deportation over a trespassing charge. What was his crime? Working as a door-to-door salesman and having the back luck of knocking on the door of a Houston cop.

Deportation on this basis can mean not only losing your job but your retirement benefits. Manuel García, 63, a carpenter from Utah, tells Tovar and others that this is what he faces if deported on the basis of a 1987 conviction. He has lived and worked in this country since 1974, gained his permanent residence 16 years ago, and would be eligible for retirement benefits next year.

“They let us work and work, and then when we get old, they want to throw us out,” said Tovar.

Many of those here were arrested after reporting to INS offices in order to renew a work permit or follow up on a pending application. For example, Artemio Monroy, 28, a hotel worker from Houston, was applying for his permanent residence through his wife, a U.S. citizen. He was arrested when he came in to renew a work permit he had received in 2000.

Monroy, originally from Guatemala, had been granted political asylum in 1992. But the INS issued a deportation order against him in 1996 after the Guatemalan government and guerrilla forces signed a political settlement to end the civil war in that country. In the meantime, Monroy has married and has a one-year old daughter, and his wife is currently pregnant. If deported he hopes to move back as close to the border as possible to work and help support his family in Houston.

Arrested in post-September 11 sweep “I am convinced that I am here simply because I am Muslim,” said Karim Bey Slimani, 27, who was born in Algeria. Slimani has been jailed here since October 2001.

“I am the only one left of those who were locked up here after September 11,” he said, reporting that about 40 immigrants from Pakistan and other Middle Eastern countries were brought to this INS jail after that date. Slimani has not been charged with any crime associated with the attack on the Twin Towers. An estimated 1,200 to 2,000 people, mostly immigrants from the Mideast and South Asia, were rounded up over the past year and in many cases held for months without criminal charges. They were often picked up on some minor charge such as not having their immigration papers in order.

Slimani, who had a deportation order dating back to when he first entered the country in 1996, is now being held indefinitely by the INS, which claims he has not cooperated with the “investigation process” in providing travel documents required to complete the paperwork for his deportation.

Despite the fact that the INS has his Algerian birth certificate, which they seized when they searched his home at the time of the arrest, and despite several phone conferences with Algerian consular officials to verify his identity, the INS deportation officer in charge of his case maintains that Slimani is Palestinian, insisting that he does not speak Arabic with a North African accent and that his passport “appears” fake.

Last September 30, having exhausted all administrative appeals with the INS, his lawyer filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus, seeking a court hearing. The petition pointed to a series of violations of his rights.

Under immigration law, a person facing deportation is supposed to be removed within 90 days of receiving a final deportation order, and the period can sometimes be extended to six months.

The day before he was arrested, Slimani received a call from an FBI agent on the cell phone he uses for his job as a cab driver in Houston. The cop asked Slimani for a meeting. At the meeting, the FBI agent asked him if he knew anyone who had celebrated the September 11 attacks, and went on to ask if he was Muslim and how often he went to the mosque, Slimani reported. It was during this interrogation that he told the FBI agent he had a pending deportation case. The next morning the INS arrested him.

The INS then told Slimani that if he had any information about the September 11 attacks, they could help him “resolve” his situation. “He was assuming that we are all terrorists,” Slimani said. “The cop then took me to my apartment, where he began searching everywhere. There he found my birth certificate, and $30,000 I had been saving at home.” A few days later, when his uncle stopped by to check on his apartment, the money was gone.

At one point, the deportation officer threatened that he was going to be deported to another country. They also warned that if he “kept playing games” they would jail him for three to five years, Slimani said.

“I have committed no crimes. I do not use any drugs, I don’t drink, I am clean,” he said. “Many people who came after me have already left. I just want an opportunity to clear my case, but I cannot do it from here,” he added.

According to the federal government, the vast majority of the more than 1,200 immigrants it swept up after September 11 have been released, deported, or convicted of minor crimes that are not “terrorist-related.”

The government reports that only six of the 765 people arrested in the “anti-terror” sweep on immigration charges are still in INS prisons. “I am one of them,” Slimani said.

Total Information Asshole

Poindexter on the Loose

The Total Information Awareness (TIA) program, currently underway in the Pentagon, with 250 million taxpayer dollars, goes way beyond your typical privacy infringement effort by the U.S. government. With TIA, we’re running into some truly weird and scary stuff.

Here are the basic facts: Admiral John Poindexter was appointed by President Bush to head a Pentagon program called “Total Information Awareness (TIA).” This program, according to its own website, will “increase information coverage by an order of magnitude,” “integrate technologies developed by DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) (and elsewhere as appropriate) into a series of increasingly powerful prototype systems,” and “develop revolutionary new models, algorithms, methods, tools, and techniques for analyzing and correlating information in the database to derive actionable intelligence.”

What this means is that the Department of Defense (DoD) will integrate the many existing commercial and government databases, such as credit card transactions, automobile rentals, airlines, passports, drivers licenses, online transactions, magazine subscriptions, medical prescriptions, emails sent and received, events attended, and any other conceivable electronic record, into one massive database. In a process called data-mining, they will then think of cool new ways to analyze this information to find “terrorists.” Note: the TIA website does not define “terrorist.”

Data-mining is the broad search of public and non-public databases in the absence of a particularized suspicion about a person, place or thing. Data mining looks for “suspicious” patterns of relationships between routine computer tracked transactions and people.

TIA is a significant departure from traditional security and intelligence efforts because the program is designed to watch data from everyone in the world, whether there is any reason whatsoever to think they may be doing something illegal or not. Thus, it is a shift from a world in which the government might investigate some people because they are acting “suspicious” to a world in which the government watches everyone all the time to decide if they are acting “suspicious.” The very concept of privacy is rendered obsolete by the creation of an all-observing government agency like TIA.

In modern society, a person’s whole life is routinely recorded as they have daily interactions with computers. Prior to the TIA proposal, this lead to the theoretical possibility of a world in which every step of our lives were observed and tracked. The possibility was theoretical because our daily actions were noted by many different computers owned by many different entities — no one computer added up all the different bits of information to form a coherent and complete picture of everyone’s activities. The computer from your credit card company wasn’t linked to the supermarket’s computer which wasn’t linked to the state driver’s license computer, which wasn’t linked to the FBI computer which wasn’t lined to your internet ISP, which wasn’t linked to your health insurance company’s computer.

The purpose of the TIA is to link up the data from all of these various sources and create a single, mega-database which gives its owner a very thorough picture of everyone’s lives. The owners of the data would work in secret, unaccountable to the common people, using billions of taxpayer dollars. The idea gets even more Orwellian if the federal government institutes a national ID card which must be repeatedly scanned, or if face recognition technology gets linked with the ever increasing number of video cameras being installed throughout the world. Government officials have already begun to routinely collect DNA samples in a variety of contexts from prisons to schools, raising the future possibility of linking genetic data into a TIA computer.

The TIA is such a significant change from prior police practice that the recently passed Homeland Security Act had to change laws which had previously prohibited US government agencies from spying on US citizens. This was necessary to permit construction of TIA.

Another tidbit worth knowing: Poindexter, the old white man in charge, is the same guy who was convicted on five felony counts, including lying to Congress, destroying documents and obstructing Congress in its investigation of the Iran-Contra affair in the mid 1980s.

From the New York Times: “It was Admiral Poindexter’s technological expertise that permitted him to create a back door, named ‘private blank check,’ in the e-mail system to circumvent normal White House channels, according to David A. Wallace, a specialist in electronic records at the School of Information at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. The system made it possible for the admiral to oversee the illegal activities of Col. Oliver North.”

“‘Clearly Poindexter consciously manipulated the system to act in a way to hide information,’ Mr. Wallace said. ‘When faced with a system of checks and balances, he decided to act illegally. What does this say about the person who we are putting in charge of designing the most comprehensive surveillance system on U.S. citizens ever?’” (New York Times, January 20, 2003).

That’s the basic run-down on Poindexter. But let’s go a bit further. Please look at the originally conceived logo for the TIA program. (It’s since been toned down slightly, due to considerable public reaction. But only slightly.) What’s this thing all about?

The TIA program is run by the Information Awareness Office (IAO) in DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency). DARPA, by the way, is the same people who invented the Internet…maybe now we’re beginning to see why. The motto of IAO is “Scientia Est Potentia,” “Knowledge is Power.” True enough. (And our unusual ally William Safire says “Exactly: the government’s infinite knowledge about you is its power over you.”) Then you have the thirteen-level pyramid with the all-seeing-eye cornerstone unattached, emitting light unto the World. Notice that the light would be shining mostly on North America.

I am not a conspiracy theorist. Quite the opposite, I am talking about these occult symbols because they need to be understood in a more down-to-earth context. Without getting into a full lecture on the influence of Freemasonry on the U.S. government and the history and goal of Freemasonry itself, one can state with absolute certainty that these symbols are of freemasonic origin, as are the symbols on the U.S. dollar bill and the Great Seal of the United States. The number 13 is a favorite with freemasons, as are the symbolic associations of the pyramids of Egypt. When asked about the symbol, Poindexter said “in his mind, the eye had represented the letter I, the pyramid the letter A and the globe the letter O a way of describing his new organization.” (New York Times, January 20, 2003) Funny, because “IAO,” as an informed freemason would know, is another name for the Sun God that Freemasons call “The Grand Architect of the Universe.” For example, here’s a quote from Isis Unveiled, by Madame Blavatsky, a classic in occult literature: “[Occult author] Movers gives a definition of the Phoenician idea of the ideal sunlight as a spiritual influence issuing from the highest God, I.A.O., the light conceivable only by intellect – the physical and spiritual Principle of all things; out of which the soul emanates.” (Isis Unveiled, Madame H.P. Blavatsky, Volume 1, p. 61)

“The light conceivable only by intellect”. Keep this phrase in mind, it is fundamental to a more full understanding of IAO, the Information Awareness Office. In other words, the Sun, and it’s Phoenician God, IAO, represents Reason. The light of Reason. The God of the Enlightenment, of the Deists, of the Founding Fathers, of Freemasonry. This light is symbolized by the Sun, and has been for thousands of years.

When I’ve mentioned this to people, some think that the “IAO” in Information Awareness Office must be completely coincidental. They didn’t choose it because it’s the name of the Phoenician Sun-God. But if we know that all of the symbols in the logo are blatantly of freemasonic origin, and the important texts of freemasonry all mention IAO as another name for this Sun-God that symbolizes “Reason,” then it seems highly unlikely that these three letters were chosen by coincidence. (See Aleister Crowley, Magick and Theory in Practice, Chapter 5, “The Formula of I.A.O.”) In my opinion, the chances of the government choosing IAO by accident are zero. What’s more disconcerting is that according to the New York Times article, Poindexter is actually aware of the occult symbolism that the logo references. It seems he sees the TIA program as a step toward the creation of the “New Order of the Ages” (Novus Ordo Seclorum) we see on our one-dollar bills, and that Freemasons value so highly.

Now, I’d like to emphasize that I don’t think this is about aliens or satanic forces or some lost civilization. That would be too easy. I would like, however, to put forward a hypothesis, from an anarchist perspective, on how to understand the often misunderstood connections between our government and Freemasonry. I do this because many well-meaning people, anarchists included, get fooled into a dangerous inaction by the many conspiracy theories out there.

According to one Freemason, “freedom of religion, of conscience, and of thought are Freemasonry’s highest goal.” Sounds lovely. And I believe them, except that those are also the stated goals of the United States of America. We all know, however, that in attempting to achieve those goals, the United States can’t seem to avoid slavery and genocide in various forms. How does “freedom of religion” lead to genocide of Native Americans and enslavement of Africans? Is the U.S. government actually run by a bunch of Satan-worshipping wackos having orgies in the Bohemian Grove? No — I truly believe that deep deep (very deep) down, they mean well. Let’s look at the logo again — the dominant symbol is the light of the sun, and IAO is the name for the Phoenician Sun-god. The Sun, by most people, is seen as a positive symbol of the source of light and knowledge. And yes, the Sun is a source of light. But it is not the only one, and that is a fundamental error. What the Freemasons, all of their predecessors, and the imperialist drive for endless expansion are ultimately founded upon is the mistaken belief that they are uniquely right and good, that they are the true beneficiaries of the light and energy of the Sun, that they are “enlightened.” Another way of thinking about it is that the Sun represents a dominating attachment to Mind or Reason as the highest form of knowledge. But, as the Sun is not the only source of light, the Mind is not the only source of knowledge.

Cultural theorists (and Holocaust survivors) Horkheimer and Adorno (The Dialect of Enlightenment) have already shown how the so-called “Enlightenment” inexorably led toward such civilized phenomena as the Holocaust and Hiroshima. And let’s please recall that the swastika, Hitler’s symbol of choice, is simply an abstract representation of the sun, used by sun worshippers for thousands of years. Why not throw in the Christian cross while we’re at it? And what do you know, it’s on our dollar bill in the form of the all-seeing-eye emitting rays of light.

The question of when and how sun-worship, i.e., mind-worship, arose is interesting and highly controversial. Many think that mind-sun-worship is equal to the rise of the rise of Western Civilization, beginning with the birth of systematic agriculture in the ancient Near East. Others might posit that it has always been an aspect of human existence. Where we come down on this issue has important consequences in terms of our thinking about the best way to create the change we want to see in the world. In either case, however, it is obvious that the State as it exists, and the TIA exemplifies this perfectly, is addicted to the Mind/Sun framework, and this realization helps us understand our relationship to the State.

It is important to attempt to understand what the deepest roots of something like the Total Information Awareness program are. Poindexter, Bush, the DoD, all of them, really think they’re protecting freedom and progress by pursuing a mega-database that can be used to watch and screw with anyone they choose. That’s because they think they’re the only ones who know what freedom and progress are. Because they think they’re “enlightened.” And yes, in a limited sense, they are protecting freedom and progress: their own. And that is sad, because we can clearly see how that limited sense of “freedom” continues to cause great suffering, and, most paradoxically, constraint.

Nothing like this has happened for a long time in the U.S. government. That is, nothing so blatantly Freemasonic and creepy has been pushed by an administration, since FDR (a high-ranking Freemason) put the all-seeing-eye on the dollar bill. In some way it’s a good thing: it reminds people that the State wants Power, and will get it however it can. It also has made people think about the bizarre symbols of the U.S. government. When one looks at them for a moment, they loudly proclaim the genocidal nature of our supposed “progress.” And here in the TIA logo we have another abstract representation of the Sun — when will people realize that our government runs by the same fundamental ideology as the Third Reich, and every other imperial government before that one?

We can say that the TIA is wrong, but we cannot say that what we’re doing, whatever it may be, is absolutely right. It is not about light and dark, good and bad. That’s falling into the sun-worshipping trap.

All of us, anarchists included, can be sun-worshippers: that is, think we know The Truth, think we are enlightened, for that is essentially what sun-worship is all about, and it is a lie. We can appreciate the sun as a source of light and energy, but know that it is just a part of a much larger whole. It is this fundamental arrogance that builds empires, commits holocausts, enslaves whole peoples, and creates TIA systems.

Infoshop Updates

Here’s some Infoshops that just opened or that we’ve found out about, plus some corrections to the list of radical contacts published in the 2003 Slingshot Organizer.

Cascadia Rising infoshop in Portland

“We just opened an infoshop/activist resource center located in the Cascadia Forest Alliance office in South East, Portland Oregon. We have on hand hundreds of do-it-yourself zines, scores of anarchist/radical/leftist publications from all over the US (and we’re hoping soon, the world) not to mention a lending library full of great books. Anyone is welcome to drop in (except cops) and browse, hang out, read, drink tea….all that fun shit!” Open 11:00 am-10:00 p.m.; all week!! 1540 S.E. Clinton, Portland, OR 97202 (503) 241-4879

Community Arts & Media Project buys a building in St. Louis, Missouri

These folks have managed to purchase a 100 year old, 9,000 square foot building to provide space for seven groups: the St. Louis Independent Media Center, Food Not Bombs, the Beehive Design collective (Midwest Hive), The Center for Alternative Technology, the SouthSide University free skool project, Confluence alternative journal, and the Gateway Green Alliance, which carries on environmental and social justice political campaigns. They’re currently fixing up the building to meet codes and trying to raise funds. Contact them to donate. They’re also trying to borrow money. Its located at 3026 Cherokee St., St. Louis, MO 63118; Mail address: PO Box 63232, St. Louis, MO 63163. 314.772.9178.

Black Planet Books collectivizes

Black Planet Books in Baltimore, Maryland is under new, collective management and is now located at 1621 Fleet St., Baltimore, MD 21231, 410 537-5005.

Check out the Misfit Theater Zine Library in New Zealand

An all volunteer run, non-profit book, music, zine and second-hand store. They also have a mail distro and a zine library. Visit them at 335 Grant North Rd, Aukland. Open Thur/Fri. 1-7, Sat/Sun noon -4. Mail them at PO Box 68939, Newton, Aukland, New Zealand.

Ironweed Infoshop in Albany, NY

The Ironweed Collective sent us a cool flyer with all the stuff happening in Albany: Critical Mass bike ride, Food Not Bombs, Revolution 101 study group and their Infoshop. Check it out at 98 Grand St., Albany, NY 12202 518-436-0929.

Madhatter’s IMC / Infoshop

They have an Independent Media Center with an Infoshop. These folks also publish the City Free Press, Connecticut’s only cooperatively run monthly. Check them out at 218 White St., Danbury, CT 06810 203-730-9397.

Wooden Spoon in Ann Arbor

The Wooden Spoon just transformed itself into a cooperative bookstore and community space. They’re at 200 N. 4th Ave., Ann Arbor, MI 48104 734-769-4775.

Breakdown Book Collective & Community Space reopens in Denver

After a brief closure and relocation, Breakdown Collective is back. They have radical books, a lending library, video library, free computer use, space for various organizations to meet, and a variety of information about upcoming community events. The community resource center provides a source for ideas, information, and literature marginalized or ignored by mainstream outlets, to educate, empower, and strengthen the Denver area community. Breakdown hosts and promotes artistic, educational, political, and cultural events, all in a non-hierarchical, and participatory environment. Check them out at 1409 Ogden St., Denver, CO 80218 303.832.7952. Open 12-9 Tuesday – Sunday

Corrections to the 2003 Organizer

  • We got word of the existence of ICT Infoshop, 1515 N. Sedgwick St., Wichita, KS 67203. We don’t know what ICT stands for or anything else about them, though.
  • The listing for Toronto Women’s books in the Canada section has the wrong phone number — the correct phone number is 416.922.8744.
  • If you’re in Sweden, check out Bokhandeln Info, Tjärhovsgatan 44, 11628 Stockholm, Sweden. They sent us a nice card. Their website looks very informative, if you know Swedish. If not, its rather confusing.
  • The listing for Boxcar Books in Fort Collins, Colorado is incorrect — there’s nothing at that address anymore.
  • The Stone soup collective in Florida doesn’t exist anymore.
  • We heard that Stone Soup cafe in Tucson, Arizona isn’t where we said it was. Any info?
  • Solidarity books in Indianapolis has closed or at the very least moved. Let us know if you do.
  • Boiling Kettle infoshop in Charlotte, North Carolina has closed or moved. Any info?
  • The Center for Creative Autonomy in Houston, Texas has closed.

Long Haul Infoshop Celebrates 10 Years

The Long Haul Infoshop in Berkeley — also home of Slingshot’s offices — celebrates 10 years of being open at the same location this year in August. If you came to the Infoshop in 1993 or 1995 or 1997 and haven’t been back since because you think you have it pegged as representing this or that, you might want to come by again — a lot of stuff changes over 10 years.

Long Haul recently upgraded its audio/visual capability by installing a fancy sound system and a video projector. Most Friday and Saturday nights, there’s a concert, party or movie showing. If you want to book a show or screen a film, call the new booking hotline at 510 540-0751 ex. 4. We’re especially looking for independent video producers who want to screen their work. Long Haul is publishing a quarterly calendar with upcoming events. Or, you can check on the schedule of events by visiting our brand new website at www.thelonghaul.org

Another change is that after 10 years of Monday being reserved for women only, Monday is now open to all genders. Monday can still be reserved for women only events and folks scheduling all-gender events on Monday are asked to do so no more than three weeks in advance to give women only events scheduling preference. The change was made reluctantly after the staff of women’s night noticed that interest in a women’s only space had evaporated.

Drop by Long Haul Monday – Thursday from 6-9, or Sunday from 3-9. Or, if you want to get involved in running the place, the next meetings are March 2 and April 6 at 1:30 in the afternoon.

Trumbullplex 10 Year Anniversary

Trumbullplex radical center/Infoshop/etc. in Detroit, Michigan is ten years old believe it or not, and us folks living here now are going to have a party. We are hoping to gather up as many former members as we can to share a weekend together. We have already considered mud wrestling, creating a scrap book, story telling, events for the kids, music and mayhem etc. If you’re interested, have ideas or are looking for a reason to come to Detroit contact us right away so we can plan a date.

Trumbullplex

4210 Trumbull, Detroit, MI 48208

(313)832-1845 • trumbullplex@yahoo.com

Happy Birthday Slingshot!

Still Slingshotting After 15 Years

This issue marks Slingshot’s 15th birthday. Lots of radical zines start up, but not so many of them keep going for 15 years. Fifteen years is a long time — for me, its almost half of my life. So, perhaps you’ll indulge me in a few reflections about what it all means.

* * *

Slingshot published its first edition on March 9, 1988. I didn’t work on that issue, but I read it within a day or two and I met some of the people who were publishing it while riding on BART over to San Francisco for a protest. The first issue was just one sheet of 11 X 17 white copier paper, folded in half. It was raw and militant, with handwritten headlines and hilarious seditious graphics. Slingshot looked like it was put together in the backseat of a getaway car after some really cool revolutionary act. I immediately loved it and got involved a couple of weeks later.

Before Slingshot, I was a left-liberal from a smallish town who had been a peace and justice activist since I was 16. I had worked on a number of political publications before — I was also editor of my high school paper.

Slingshot marked the conclusion of my radicalization — my move away from a belief that this country’s institutions could be reformed to an understanding that they had to be overthrown and replaced with something different. When Slingshot came along, I had started seriously studying marxist economic theory, and new political worlds were opening for me everywhere. Slingshot provided a way to turn this changing consciousness into a tangible form of action. I distinctly remember as I started working on my first issue walking down the street in the dark with two of the founders talking about stuff way more radical than I had ever dared to think or discuss before.

During the first few months, Slingshot published weekly zines, all photocopied on white paper. Publishing weekly was an amazing rush that I wish I could still experience. We would get together in the afternoon, figure out who should write what, write it, and be done with layout that same night. The next morning at 7 a.m., the paper would go to the copy shop when it opened, and be printed by noon. At noon, we would sit around Sproul Plaza at the university in Berkeley and fold the 1,000 copies by hand. As soon as they were folded, people would eagerly come along to take them and read them. Usually, all 1,000 copies were gone by 5 p.m.

* * *

We were able to do it like that because there was such a wonderful and active movement on campus in those days. We published weekly because every week, there were protests, building occupations, arrests, riots, squatted houses, trials — stuff was going on. At 19 years old, there were moments when I really believed that the private property system was on the verge of crumbling — that the youthful crowds in the streets would just get larger and larger and we would build a whole new way of living.

We were able to do it because we were young and relatively privileged. I was a student — most people who worked on Slingshot weren’t students but gravitated to the action, freedom and excitement of the university scene. I worked maybe 15 hours a week in those days, and many people worked less, or didn’t work at all.

For me, a crucial aspect of the Slingshot story is how people — both personally and politically — can continue radical ideas and action beyond youth, and sustain them into adulthood Or a different and less ageist and personal way to put it is how radicals can build structures that benefit from longevity without suffering from the tendency to become moderate, boring — gradually less than radical over time. I’m still far from sure that I understand the answer to these questions, but I still think they’re good questions.

Personally, I think I’m still working on Slingshot out of pure stubbornness. I don’t think its necessarily a good idea for anyone to be this stubborn or work on one project for this long, but everyone has personality faults they wish they could change. This is mine.

For me working on Slingshot is a personal psychological necessity — I need to feel like I’m trying to do something about the horrendous state of the world — about things I wish were different. To be honest, sometimes, even for years at a time, it doesn’t feel like working on Slingshot does any good at all. My key to maintaining my activism over all these years is to simply ignore that feeling when it surfaces. There are other times when it seems like it might possibly make a little difference — that people and society are capable of change, and that distributing visions and inspiration for change can help. The process of writing a newspaper and then distributing it all over the place — the idea that it may be read by other people you will never meet — this feels like a way to go beyond just hoping the world will change.

* * *

Slingshot completely severed its ties with the university scene in the early 1990s. For a while after everyone had graduated, we kept our office and mailing address on campus and used the university mailing permit, but eventually the whole process of finding “front students” to sign everything got to be more trouble than it was worth. The university, reacting to the campus anti-apartheid movement in the mid-80s, kept making new rules to prevent students and off-campus radicals from cooperating. The university finally banned people without student IDs from coming into many campus buildings. This tactic worked — since then, there hasn’t been much contact between the shrinking student radical scene and radicals living in town.

Just at that moment, in the spring of 1993, the Long Haul, a movement space for meetings that started in 1979, was facing eviction. We rented an office at Long Haul and joined the struggle to stop the eviction.

Up to this point, it wasn’t clear if Slingshot would keep going or not. After publishing weekly for a while, it started publishing monthly. Then in 1990 publication got less and less frequent. Renting an office was a declaration of sorts that Slingshot would keep going and transition to a new phase. Most people in the collective were a little older and were working more hours by then, so the project had to adjust.

We decided to publish quarterly, doing most work on the evenings and on weekends. There would be a deadline for articles and then everyone in the collective would read the articles — a process we call collective editing. Then, on the Friday night before doing page layout, we would have an “all night meeting” during which we would decide what articles to print and which ones to cut, and which pages to put articles on. Then people in the collective would volunteer to layout one or more pages. All this would get written on chalk boards. The all night meeting is a long meeting fueled by bags of chocolate chips with tons of political debate and struggle, sometimes bitter arguments, often howls of laughter and eventually total exhaustion and frustration. After staying up way too late Friday night, we would get up on Saturday and proceed to spend every waking moment of the weekend putting the whole paper together like a giant jigsaw puzzle. On Monday, mentally and physically spent, we would take the paper to the printer.

Most of the traditions developed at that time persist to this day.

* * *

One frustrating thing about working on a radical project for a long time is that you often can’t really tell if its doing any good. I’ve often suspected that a major source of “burnout” for activists is related to this uncertainty. At first, people get involved because they’re inspired to make change — they’re distressed at how things are. Over time, they put in a huge amount of work and time and energy. Weekends and evenings get spent in meetings and stuff like vacations and fun can sometimes get delayed or sacrificed. For most people, this would be okay if they could see how their work was making change. But after a certain amount of time, they realize that they can’t tell if anything is changing. Or maybe they realize that this whole social change thing could take a l o n g time. Not just a few years — maybe not even a few generations.

At this point, some people figure they have a choice — sacrifice their personal life in endless frustrating meetings for something that is uncertain and illusive, or flush activism completely down the toilet and enjoy life. I’ve noticed that the people most likely to burn out are precisely the people who throw themselves into activism the most deeply. The people who take on amazing numbers of projects and seem the most fully dedicated.

An important key to sustaining activism over a long period of time is figuring out a good balance between a happy personal life and activist work. That way, when you start to realize that maybe change could take a long time, you aren’t left with the stark choice of total self-sacrifice or burnout — leaving activism completely behind. Instead, you have better choices: you spend enough time enjoying life while also doing a reasonable amount of activism. While you might not be able to throw all your energy into the cause, at least then you’re doing something — and you can keep doing it even if you’re far from certain that the something you do is the best thing, the right thing or the most effective thing — or that it will even do any good at all. If it doesn’t do any good at all, at least you tried.

Another key to maintaining activism over a long period is to try to make the process as stimulating and humane as possible. We all know there are horrendous meetings and projects that just take energy out of the participants. One of the best parts about working on Slingshot is that while there is a lot of work, I think most of us get something positive out of it, too. Its exciting, at times. It encourages us to think and discuss stuff. We spend social time hanging out and being silly. (That’s why we often do the page layout naked late at night.) The Slingshot crew makes a point of sharing food — we often eat over our meetings. The process of writing and editing a newspaper requires you to think and grow. The collective process of working with others is especially thought provoking. Our ideas grow, expand and improve as we discuss and work with others.

I don’t think the importance of these humanizing aspects can be overstated. Over the last 15 years, the changing Slingshot collective has been my family, my community, my tribe. Where yuppies have a yuppie lifestyle, I have had a Slingshot lifestyle. The extent to which people can find community and support in the activist work they do will help determine how long people can maintain their activism, and how long different activist projects survive.

* * *

Another amazing thing about Slingshot which I think has permitted it to persist all these years is our defense of a participatory do-it-yourself culture. Somewhere early on, we collectively concluded that efficiency wasn’t the most important goal of the project. Mainstream western society always holds efficiency as its highest value, even where the pursuit of efficiency creates human misery or environmental destruction.

Slingshot has always tried to promote participation over a division of labor in which a small number of experts do all the mental work, with the physical work left to peons (or, increasingly, machines). Instead, everyone who works in the collective generally does every job there is to do. To this day, we almost always have new collective members who’ve never designed and laid out a page before do pages right next to people who’ve been doing layout for 20 years.

This is one reason we still insist of using what some consider primitivist publishing and distribution practices. We still do all our layout by hand with scissors and wax instead of with computers because everyone knows how to use a pair of scissors. Using fancy computer programs quickly creates a class of experts, and a disempowered class of people slower or less capable. The process of doing layout by hand is more joyful as well as being more participatory. We don’t spend our whole weekend in front of a computer — we spend it pasting tiny slips of paper together like an insane collage.

Vision for the future

Things for Slingshot are a lot different now than they were when we started. We have a pretty amazing distribution network set up. About 5,000 copies of each issue get mailed to over 200 bookstores and distributors all over the United States, plus we have 1,500 subscribers. We’ve been far more than just a Bay Area paper for the past few years, with the majority of our circulation outside the Bay Area. We have our funding figured out, we have a decent office, an amazing collective, and we have established lots of structures for making things work non-hierarchically and smoothly. Because of the Organizer, people actually know what you’re talking about when you say Slingshot.

The task for the next 15 years is to take what we’ve built in terms of the mechanics of getting a publication out, and use it as well as possible. Our biggest weakness is our content — our writing (and also art and photography . . .) We still function a lot like the zine we were 15 years ago, with most articles originating within the collective. Ideally, we would like to publish articles by outside authors — people who are good writers, or people involved in movements and organizations outside our immediate scene. This issue we’ve worked to reach out a little more than usual. Hopefully we’ll keep reaching out more and more — and talented writers will answer the call.

Another thing I hope will evolve over the next 15 years is a diversification of tone within Slingshot. More personal articles — articles in touch with their emotional life. This isn’t to say we should have less political articles or dilute them — just that politics can take more forms that the typical “this is the problem – here’s the analysis – here is what you can do” mold.

The revolution we need to build is beyond just what’s in our heads — it needs to be about changing our hearts. Another way to put it is that we need to go beyond pure materialism and describe how people’s values, goals and psychological lives can change (without, of course, totally forgetting about structures and institutions.) Our revolution needs to be about people LIVING and loving, not just about being activist robots.

Happy birthday Slingshot.

Slingshot ALumnus Remembers

Slingshot’s 15th birthday makes me feel kind of old, because I was in on it from just about its beginning. I was an English grad student at Berkeley when I became “Experienced” in Jimi Hendrix’s term. I was working on my dissertation, serving as Coordinator of the student Recycling Project, where I met members of the Slingshot Collective. Most of us were Berkeley students. At the time, U.C. Berkeley was hardly radical. Despite the university’s reputation as a hotbed of dissent, a legacy of the 60s, there was a need for a leftist voice, and Slingshot filled that need. Those first issues were printed on white paper, sometimes subversively copied on university copiers.

For one Slingshot article, marking the anniversary of the Free Speech movement at Berkeley, I went to the Bancroft Library Special Collections department, where I looked at their collection of radical papers from the 60s. I am proud to have contributed to a paper that will go into that collection commemorating voices of dissent against the repressive aspects of mainstream society. This despite remarks by “friends” which satirically contrasted my academic writing with the kinds of rhetoric of Slingshot.

I remain an academic — I have a job as a professor in a Southern university (hey, it’s true what the right says about the “liberal academics” corrupting our youth!) — but the articles I write for Slingshot are read by a lot more people than my cerebral studies of William Blake and Victorian novels. Slingshot, I note, now has a circulation of 12,000, and is distributed nationally, including to a sizable incarcerated population. Slingshot has allowed me to spread my strong views on things that confronted me as I became a mother: my belief in “natural” childbirth; my conviction that the practically universal practice of male circumcision in the U.S. is nothing short of genital mutilation. As an environmentalist, Slingshot has allowed me and the branch of the Sierra Club I’m involved with here, to express our opinion on clearcutting, pollution, and genetic engineering.

So, while teaching a class this semester on literary utopias, I read Slingshot as the collective shout of voices that promises an alternative to our present dystopian society, a wave of energy that may help to bring about an ideal society. Without voices of dissent, without resistance to a society whose values are destructive, distorted and demented, utopia will always remain “nowhere” (the literal meaning of the word). It is only by imagining an alternative and articulating opposed values that change will ever come. Viva Slingshot!