All posts by slingshot

Anarchist Housekeeping: Why Squatting is Worth It

by Suzy Q

Lately, some in the Bay Area radical scene (overwhelmingly people with decent jobs who rent), have been dismissing squatting, and those who choose to squat, with what I believe are shallow generalizations and stereotypes. The pitfalls of squatting are the pitfalls of anarchy, and we’re going to have to figure them out.

Most of Oakland’s squatters are people of color, often long-term residents, who don’t call themselves anarchists. There are no official statistics, but I know this because I keep bumping into them. Anyone scouting squattable buildings in these parts has to be cautious of disturbing people already there. In addition to these precarious squatters, many of the local squatters I meet are ordinary working people who stopped paying rent to their absentee slumlord years ago.

My current house is a good example. From what I’ve been able to piece together through things left in the house, and research at the courthouse and online, the last resident was a man who had previously rented the house, and continued to live there for two years after his landlord died, refusing to leave when served a Notice to Quit. He fought his eviction, but missed a filing date due to being in jail for a few weeks. Also, when we moved in, a man had been sleeping on the porch for about 5 months, hidden by the overgrown hydrangea bushes. He’s still at the same address, but now has a roof and electricity. The point is, my squat had already been squatted twice, in very different ways, by people of color.

The rest of this article is about and is directed to members of the predominantly white, young, and mobile anarchesque milieu, not because we’re especially special as far as squatting is concerned, but simply because that’s what I am. This is why I see squatting as part of the anarchist project.

We avoid paying rent, and therefore have time for our lives, whether that’s caring for friends and sweeties, educating ourselves, making music, engaging in community activism, or committing petty vandalism against developers and banks. It’s a special kind of a place. It allows a certain fluidity of people moving in and out, existing without their address being recorded by the state.

We get practice at the nitty gritty of anarchy. We have to figure out how to live outside of police and property titles, resolve our own conflicts, and share a resource that really matters to us. I’ve rented several times, and even though neither myself nor anyone involved has even considered calling the landlord or the police to resolve our conflicts, the subtext of property rights is always there. Even if we have guests and travellers, and do everything by consensus – I pay $400 a month for the right to this room. But in a squat, I am there because everyone else wants me to be there. Even if I found, opened, and fixed up the building, at the end of the day I don’t have any enforceable rights over anyone else.

Many of the same issues come up in an open squat as in an infoshop, but unlike most activist groups, we have a physical incentive to commit rather than drop out when things get hard. Squatting can be an intense experience because you can’t just skip the meeting Tuesday if the project is frustrating you. Anarchy is our life rather than a recreational activity after work.

Squatting and fighting for buildings has the potential to concretely disrupt the gentrification process. Once established, clever squatters can subvert tenant protection and property laws to drag a legal case, and therefore their occupancy, out for years. We waste developer and bank resources that would be used to do more damage elsewhere. The Hot Mess/RCA squat has delayed Rockridge Realty from developing an entire block of north Oakland for 2 1/2 years so far, and has cost them god knows how many thousands in legal fees.

In my experience, most people who assert that squatting causes gentrification cannot articulate the mechanism by which they believe this occurs. However, I can see two ways that members of the predominantly white, transient youth subculture that is our radical milieu choosing to squat might contribute to the gentrification process.

Firstly, it can bring white folks into marginalized, and therefore easily squattable areas, both as squat residents and through throwing shows that attract hipsters. One impediment to the gentrification of black neighborhoods is the racism of white yuppies, who don’t want to live among people of color. A neighborhood containing white squatters often feels more comfortable to a white yuppie than one of black working families. The same applies to white punks renting in these same neighborhoods, except that squatters have to be on decent terms with their neighbors, while white punks with a lease are free to be assholes to marginalized people if they feel like it.

White squatters don’t have to limit their activities to poor Black neighborhoods. C’mon guys, don’t keep taking remedial math, move onto calculus already! The logic of capitalism ensures that there will always be a few houses empty, even in the highest-rent areas. You can exploit that white privilege to take those houses, and then bring a few of friends of color with you.

Secondly, squatters and renters are much easier for developers and city governments to push around than people who own their homes. If a collective buys a house together, rather than squatting, they will be in a position to resist gentrification. This is great for people who have enough resources to pool to buy a house. I am not one of those people. Owning a house requires paying not just the mortgage, but taxes, garbage fees, etc. As an anarchist, I would rather not hand my resources to those people even if I had them.

Also, you can still squat in partially gentrified areas that would be too expensive to buy a house in, so the house-buying strategy relies on aiding the initial process of gentrification, in order to benefit from it in the end. Many of the SF and Berkeley co-ops either sold their buildings or gentrified internally.

Some dismissal of squatting has to do with personal experience of some squatters being assholes and some squats being drama bombs. I have to say that some squats/squatters do suck, but plenty of renters and homeowners suck as well. It seems odd for radicals to demand an infinitely higher standard of behavior from a group of people just because they don’t pay rent.

The absence of set rules and laws can be surprisingly hard to navigate. Often, people do the work to scout, research, and squat a house, but then, because they have no sense of ownership, let assholes and wingnuts move in and don’t feel they have the right or ability to kick them out. Our rent-paying friends tend to dump their unwanted people at squats to get rid of them.

Learning how to make decisions collectively and share resources and power is a difficult but essential part of the anarchist project. We need to develop a system of belonging outside of the capitalist model of property. We need to keep ourselves safe from people damaged by the police state without resorting to it. We need to make and hold each other to collective agreements.

These issues come up most fiercely in larger and more open collective projects, because people have different backgrounds and expectations, and there are too many people for everyone to develop close relationships with everyone else. Possibly because of this, most squats, even most anarchist squats, aren’t open to all and sundry. My current place isn’t. Everybody just talks about the more public and dramatic places.

In the end, anarchist housekeeping is sometimes tricky, but it’s worth it. Squatting offers many benefits to the individual anarchist and the promotion of anarchy at large. The difficulties that it offers are opportunities for learning and growth. These types of problems are not unique to the squatting situation, but rather arise with any group of people learning to do something that really matters to them in a non-hierarchical way.

To my friends who squat, who work shitty jobs to pay their rent, who sleep in their cars, under bridges, in parks – I love you all.

Eviction Warrant: Anti-Squatting Bill Threatens Renters’ Rights throughout California

By Steven DeCaprio

Over a decade ago I started squatting in California because of personal housing dilemmas. While seeking housing I realized that we could never build a stable movement without creating stable housing for organizers. Because of this I started the organization Land Action to help others establish squats in order to expand the circle as well as our capacity to organize. Squatting can provide an opportunity to escape the wage/rent treadmill, and it also prevents greedy speculators from getting their hands on abandoned properties. Because of this, squatters are in a constant state of struggle fighting against these land grabs. Unfortunately a new threat has emerged in the California State Assembly; a bill called AB1513.

The first draft of the bill created a new law that made squatting a felony. The new language of the bill allows a property owner to sign a document called an “Unauthorized Occupant Declaration” and demand that cops remove people from their homes based upon the owner’s declaration that they are trespassers. The cops are required under AB 1513 to treat the owner’s own written declaration as if it were a court ordered eviction. Thus AB 1513 gives property owners the power of the courts to evict anyone, at will, without any process.
Landlords already call the cops on their tenants and accuse them of trespassing all the time. Usually the cops don’t get involved in these disputes. However this bill gives property owners unprecedented power to remove anyone from their properties, and not even the cops can refuse to evict if there is a written request. Anyone with any common sense should realize that by giving landlords this type of power they will be guaranteed to abuse it. 

The only protection we would have for these extrajudicial evictions would be the fact that the landlord would sign the document “under penalty of perjury”. This provides almost no protection because very few tenants would be able to sue the landlord after the eviction, and even if they did a landlord could simply claim ignorance as a defense.
Sadly, property owners already have significant protections against squatters, such as trespassing laws, and in most cases AB 1513 would be totally unnecessary to evict squatters.

On the other hand tenants would likely be harmed significantly. By giving landlords the power of the courts to order an eviction, AB 1513 will remove both state and local protections for tenants, allowing landlords to bypass all the processes designed to protect tenants. Essentially, landlords will be given direct command over the police without due process in the courts.

AB 1513 puts all tenants at risk, but the most at risk tenants will be tenants without a written lease agreement, tenants who do not speak English as a first language, tenants holding over from a previous owner, and any other tenant belonging to a marginalized group. 

Currently this bill is still in the California State Assembly Rules Committee. One course of action to stop the bill is to contact your assembly representative. Another course of action is for us to build a squatting movement so powerful that we can force the banks, speculators, and politicians to recognize that housing is a basic human right. Anyone who wants help establishing a squat in California or anywhere else in the U.S.A. can find information at blogsquats.blogspot.com or contact Land Action at land-action.org.

Silent and Invisible: Marine Turbines in the Puget Sound

By Helena Bla-Latchkey (Soren)

I recently visited my mother who lives in the Discovery Bay area, just outside of Port Townsend, WA. Her front yard leads to the beach and her back yard borders on wetlands. In the morning, otters run through the property to rinse themselves in the freshwater ponds; at night, frogs sing and cry into the cold, damp air. Lichens drip off of towering pine, fir, cedar and madrona trees. Ferns, wild flowers and mosses blanket everything. The Cascade mountains glimmer like icy jewels on the horizon when the fog clears. It is a serene, primordially beautiful place, but the peace this small community usually enjoys has been disturbed by a subtle foreboding.

In 2007, the Snohomish Public Utility District received permits and 10 million dollars from the Federal Energy Regulatory Committee to begin researching the installation of marine turbines in Puget Sound. They began looking at seven different locations around the San Juan Islands, areas all known for their natural beauty and biodiversity. In 2010, SPUD honed in on two sites — Bremerton Pass and Admiralty Inlet. They recently settled on the latter as their pilot project. They plan to install two OpenHydro turbines as soon as possible.

Marine turbines sound like a good idea — a cleaner, renewable source of naturally occurring energy. This is certainly how they are portrayed by the SPUD and OpenHydro Corporation, in between assurances that environmental impact will constantly be monitored. How often have we heard this before, during the experimental phases of energy projects? What level of monitoring will these earnest promises ensure?

The truth is that marine turbines inevitably cause damage to life whenever and wherever they are placed near life. Turbines are massive wheels which are propelled by naturally occurring currents in wind or air, such as windmills. A turbine creates a vortex as it pulls these currents within its center. With these currents, modern turbines pull organisms and debris within, chopping them up and shooting them out at high speed.

The turbines proposed by SPUD are open turbines — 6 meter wide steel bands, with fins placed within. There are only a handful of open marine turbines in the world. They are considered relatively new technology and there are many unknowns. However, one known risk is that any marine mammals, fish and invertebrates in the area could be sucked in and battered within the turbines’ wall. The turbines also emit a constant stream of sonic and magnetic pollution. Because many marine animals rely on sounds and polarities in order to navigate, this white noise could disrupt and disorient them. This alone could have a grave impact on the survival of many species.

Simply installing them will involve extensive drilling directly into the sea floor. SPUD has ensured the public that this construction will be “silent and invisible” to surface dwellers. OpenHydro turbines, which will be used, are designed without toxic lubricants which can leak and cause environmental damage. Still, they will require constant maintenance in order to function properly. Salt water is corrosive. It seems difficult to hypothesize how much damage a massive hunk of metal, rapidly spinning in waters that reach 9 knots and connected to electrical transmission cables could do if it were to malfunction.

Puget Sound is home to a rich ecosystem which includes increasingly precarious species such as orca whales and salmon. The Skagit River, which feeds the Puget Sound, is one of the only places in the world where wild salmon still spawn. Salmon runs extend as far as 100 miles from the Strait of Juan de Fuca, utilizing complex and sensitive navigation in order to reach the shallow, temperate beds in which they were born. Doing this requires traveling along Earth’s magnetic fields. The Skagit River has miraculously remained hospitable despite the construction of multiple dams upstream during the 80s. Here, these fish, revered as sacred to the Tulalip, Snohomish and S’kallam tribes, breed and die as they have for thousands of years. If the Skagit River becomes inaccessible due to magnetic pollution, these salmon will have no place to spawn.

Many people who live in the Admiralty Inlet area depend directly on the environment economically. The local economy is largely driven by the Sound — from fishermen, to farmers, to the local service and tourism industries. From liberal, left-leaning Port Townsend, to more conservative Port Hadlock, there is already a seething mixture of anxiety, resentment and outrage over the proposed turbines. Some have come together to object to the turbines or demand more information. There are currently no plans for direct action as far as I could tell. People rightly fear the destruction of their livelihoods and the natural beauty that surrounds them.

Sadly, local residents do not have any choice in the matter. If SPUD gets their permits, they already have the green light. They plan to do this through their pilot project — the two small turbines at Admiralty Inlet. How can these two turbines demonstrate that more extensive installation of turbines will not cause more substantial environmental impact? The FERC has promised them up to 10 million more to continue research. Obtaining permits will simply be a matter of SPUD jumping through all the right bureaucratic hoops.

The power output the turbines will have is relatively unknown. I was told by a Port Townsend local that once all ten were installed and the project was complete, they would have a power output equivalent to a standard light bulb a year for every person in the greater Seattle area. This is the sort of vague approximation I would expect to hear. Blame for energy consumption is pushed back onto individuals and personal consumption, when industry and corporate business use far more. Energy industrialists tell us that we have demanded more energy and that development must take place in order to fulfill our supposed needs. However, if SPUD had peoples needs and desires at heart, they would listen to the people of Jefferson, Snohomish and Island Counties.

Sadly, there are few ways to obtain “clean” energy and no ideal ways to generate it at the volume it is currently used. Capitalist industry will inevitably drive itself forward until it is too late — no technology too untested or territory too sacred to spill blood on. Seductive lies do little to obscure the obvious: obtaining permits does not give them permission to destroy life and livelihoods.

Resistance Takes Root: Rebellion in Turkey’s Taksim Square

By İnci Stan, reporting from Istanbul

Things started to change in Taksim Square in Istanbul, Turkey a year ago May 27 2013. This time the demonstrations were not about Kurdish people’s rights, education fees or a specific person. The initial protest in Istanbul was about saving a park and its trees. An affluent man wanted to build a new shopping center to earn more profits, and to do so he would have to pave over the expansive Gezi Park.

The less nature there is, the more important it is. In Turkey, especially in Istanbul, a busy city of 16 million people, you can see lots of people hanging out on grassy knolls near freeways trying to find something besides pavement. Smelling and breathing the fumes of thousands of cars a few feet away shouldn’t be the only access to nature. Of course people don’t prefer to hang out there, but finding a green area is not easy in this city. That is why we and Istanbul cannot allow or afford to lose any more trees and nature as Istanbul is not in need more shopping centers, parking lots, and apartments.

Protests are a part of regular life in Istanbul. If you are a tourist, you might see more than 5 protests in the same day. Everyone thought that the police would come and the demonstrations would be over as usual. The police came and harassed the demonstrators but this time they didn’t leave. Despite the Turkish police using gas and water hoses, the park was still full of people. Not just the stereotypical Turkish protester but every kind of person was there: high school students, elderly people, taxi drivers, prostitutes, artists, homosexuals, children, elites, Kurds, tourists, Muslims, intellectuals, etc. All sorts of different people were uniting behind a common goal. The goal was not just about saving a park anymore — the goal was to change the government, the power structure, and the system.

Nobody could have foreseen this reaction. Turks as a people are afraid of protesting because of our bad collective memory of demonstrations in the 70s when many people were killed for speaking out. While younger people might not remember, our parents certainly do because they lived through those horrible days. What made people of all generations dare to protest while disregarding their fear of being killed for standing up? Perhaps because this time it was about the environment and excess development which is impossible to ignore. People demanded a humane life free from domination by a government that many Turkish people consider a dictatorship. Every hour the protest became more and more powerful.

Together we built a free zone in the center of the city in which there were no police. People were sharing. We built a library, held concerts, practiced yoga, offered workshops, handed out free food, made art, and welcomed varied political ideas, sexual identities and religions. All of this wasn’t easy. Dedicated anarchists constructed barricades around the park and fought against the police day and night. They were not violent to anyone directly, but they were willing to defend themselves. During the fighting, 6 young protesters were killed by the police. More than 8000 people were injured because of gas, water, and rubber bullets. The government pushed and attacked the protesters for hours. The stress of being abhorred by the populace caused at least 5 police officers to commit suicide.

Mainstream media didn’t show any of the demonstrations, from walls on the street full of political mottoes and unique art, to hospitals full of injured protesters. When an entire country was standing up, CNN preferred to air a documentary about the lives of penguins. We had to create our own media with tablets, smart phones, social media and the Internet with the slogan ‘’WE are media!’’.

Everyone agreed to protest in a peaceful way from the first day. The protesters tried to give out flowers, read passages from powerful books loudly, share food and water, and give hugs. They wanted to avoid violence but it was impossible. One guy stuck his hands deep in his pockets and stood silently for hours in the square. Even though he was just standing the police pushed him over. They couldn’t tolerate seeing a man who was simply standing.

After months the government gave up building the shopping center, but this didn’t resolve the main issues. It was a big disappointment for many people because the powers structure stayed the same and the media was still biased while business as usual continued. Nonetheless, the people of Turkey had stopped ignoring the fascism of the government and changed their minds. Defraudation, discrimination for marginalized people, putting Alevis, atheists and students on the spot had become part of the culture. Berkin Elvan, a fourteen year old boy who was going to buy bread for his family found himself on the wrong side of the protest and was gunned down.

His name has became another name on a wall in memory of all the injustice occurring. The problems haven’t stopped. Secret tapes of president Erdogan have been released. When Turkey prepared for the election, the revolution in Ukraine inspired the youth of the country. I think that revolution is not impossible but will not be easy either! This is more than a personal hope. This is all in hopes of waking a generation to say “Stop” to all old fashioned mindsets, rules, laws, and political techniques. This incites the question, “If I am smarter, more open minded, more well-educated, more intelligent than the politicians, then how can they manage my rights?” This practically screams out, “We don’t need borders, visas, stupid papers, ugly buildings, dirty air, artificial food, liar media, sexist beliefs, secret plans, war for more money, education for brain washing, taxes for the powerful, low living standards, gray cities, awful public transportation and health systems! We need trees, music, good books, sharing, love and understanding!” We understand that there is no problem with sexual, ethnic or religious differences — the problem is where the power is placed.

What about the art covered walls in the streets? They painted them over in gray — the government’s favorite color. They are not fond of the idea of seeing art covered walls again, but we must still show our colorful life-styles, otherwise they will think we have turned gray, too.

After almost one year, Erdogan who had a Twitter account with 4.17 million followers, became outraged and called all social media, “the worst menace to society,” and banned Twitter just before the election. Within hours, hashtags including #TwitterisblockedinTurkey and #DictatorErdogan were trending worldwide. Erdogan’s Development Party (AKP), received 43 per cent of the overall vote from the last election. Many people reported that votes were stolen on social media. This scandal reminded us of Emma Goldman’s quote; “If voting changed anything, they’d make it illegal.” So if we can’t change anything by voting, we should realize that now is the time to stand up and make change happen!

Calendar (#116)

April 22nd – May Day

Earth Day to May Day direct actions
afgj.org/earth-day-to-may-day

 

April 27 – 1-6pm

People’s Park 45th Anniversary Concert

 

May 3-4

2nd Annual Comox Valley Anarchist Book Fair,  Cumberland, BC asmattamay@hotmail.com

 

May 17
New York Anarchist Book Fair – Judson Memorial Church, 55 Washington Square South
www.anarchistbookfair.net/

 

May 23-25
Farm Conference on Community and Sustainability – Summertown, TN
thefarmcommunity.com

 

May 24th – Time TBD
March Against Monstanto San Francisco
www.facebook.com/groups/MAMSF

 

May 24-25
Montreal Anarchist Bookfair – Two locations:
Centre Culturel Georges-Vanier, 2450 rue Workman www.anarchistbookfair.ca

 

June 7, 2014 - 1-6pm
Scranton Zine Fest – Scranton, PA – Tripp Park Community Center, 2000 Dorothy St, Scranton, PA scrantonzinefest.weebly.com

 

June 27 – 3pm

Trans march – Dolores Park, SF transmarch.org

 

June 28

Dyke march – Dolores Park, SF facebook.com/sfdykemarch

 

July 1-7(ish)

Earth First Round River Rendezvous

earthfirstjournal.org/ef-round-river-rendezvous/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

July 1-7

Rainbow Gathering – Nevada or Utah (TBD soon)

 

July 25

Deadline for radical contacts, cover art and submissions for 2015 Slingshot organizer

 

July 29 – August 5

Moving Beyond Capitalism Conference – Center for Global Justice, San Miguel de Allende, Mexico www.globaljusticecenter.org/

 

August 2/3 – 10am-12am

Layout party for 2015 Slingshot Organizer – 3124 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley

 

August 7-11
Bay Area Solidarity Summer solidaritysummer.org

 

August 9

North American Hitchgathering – South Fork of the Yuba River

 

August 17 – 4pm

Slingshot new volunteer meeting – 3124 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley

 

August 18-25

Trans & Womyn Action Camp – Calistoga, CA

rsvp: twacbayarea@riseup.net

 

August 30-31 – 11am-5pm

13th Annual SF Zine Fest - SF County Fair Building, 1199 9th Ave (at Lincoln)
www.sfzinefest.org/

 

September 13

Article deadline for Slingshot issue #117

mail to: slingshot@tao.ca

 

Book Reviews (issue #116)

The Revolution of Every Day

By Cari Luna

Tin House Books, 2013, 388 pgs

Reviewed by Teresa

At first glance, this novelappears to be a whimsical fantasy about five young people dealing with the emotional roller coaster of co-existence in a squat in New York’s Lower East Side in the early 90s. But the book digs deeper than appearances, and squatting becomes a metaphor for love—love holding out against power at a time when power, as directed by money, began assaulting and rewriting the logic of our everyday lives.

In an author interview, Cari Luna explained that, even though she has never squatted, she was haunted by the memory of witnessing the 1995 eviction of two radical squats near the intersection of Avenue A and Thirteenth Street in Manhattan. Ten years later, she began writing a novel set in those squats because “the eviction of the Thirteenth Street squats seemed, to me, to mark the beginning of the end of the Lower East Side…the point when money had won.”

Actual building-occupiers might critique this book for the way it romanticizes squatting (there really isn’t enough arguments about doing dishes in here to make it a realistic portrayal!), but perhaps this book is less about the ins and outs of squatting and more about the messy, beautiful logic of love as it barricades itself against the cold, effacing power of money. This is the last stand that all of us face as we protect what is meaningful from the forces of sterilization.

Demotivational Training (Éloge de la Démotivation)

By Guillaume Paoli

Cruel Hospice Books, 2013, 146pgs.

Reviewed by Teresa

Feed your inner theory nerd with this fresh text from the French Post-Situationist movement. The opening chapter launches into a genealogy of capitalism’s basic mechanism. This genealogy could be compared to Marx’s genealogy of the commodity in the opening of Capital, however, rather than placing the commodity at the center of the political-economy, Paoli claims the culprit is none other than human motivation itself, human motivation hijacked by the logic of a nonsensical system of doing things. “You aren’t in the traffic jam, you are the traffic jam.” Pailo offers a meager cure, explaining, “the objective of practicing demotivation…would be rather to divest oneself from all the strategies that lead all of us…to the market, to methodically dismantle the mechanisms that ensure that, despite everything, [capitalism] works.” The rest of the book reads like a tour of the horrible carnival that is global capitalism. Paoli shows us the ghost of the marketplace, killed by abstraction. He leads us down the dark corridor of company training methods, as workers are made to internalize the wills of their masters, and then down through the madhouse of workaholics, those whose lives are so stripped of meaning they can only bring themselves to work without even caring why. The fifth chapter is a trip through time, stopping in the 16th century to examine the birth of the fetish, breezing into the late 1960s to chat with Guy Debord and the Situationists, as they grapple with the notion that the commodity just might be created by the spectacle. The final chapter, “Cancelling the Project,” leaves us hanging. To find out how it ends, watch the revolution live from the comfort of the tree fort you’ll build with all that free time you’ll have thanks to your demotivational training.

My one critique is that this translation doesn’t quite live up to the enjoyable whimsy of the original French. But it is good to finally get this book in English! It is quite readable, great fodder for any edupunk who wants to read the real critical theory they aren’t teaching in college. A good pairing would be The Coming Insurrection by the Invisible Committee. At times this book transcends the struggle between capital and workers and takes us to the very edge of the unfathomable, as the unfahtomable attempts to recapture its rights.

A Country of Ghosts

By Margaret Killjoy

Combustion Books, 2014, 198pgs.

Reviewed by Teresa

For those who wish to read their anarchism swathed in the clothing of a steampunk genre fiction, you’re in luck! Madame Killjoy brings us a fantasy world chock-full of bowler hats, steam engines, and silly puns, where an anarchist society of self-directed folk is at the cusp of invasion by a mechanized hierarchical empire. We follow Dimos Horacki, a compassionate journalist within the empire as he is sent to the edge of his society as a war correspondent, only to quickly realize, “I just may be on the wrong side of the war.” It is a story filled with beauty and sadness. An excerpt:

To his credit, Mitos Zalbii, with whom I had shared as few words as possible, stood over me and died with a rifle in his hands. I never liked him, and he never liked me, but he died fulfilling the arbitrary duty he had been assigned. That duty being my well being, I still think of him fondly and genuinely mourn his passing.”

What I find truly exciting about this book is the way it is the opposite of the typical capitalist coming-of-age story (the tale of a protagonist being sorted into the system) and rather, we see the hero unsorted, liberated from the inner and outer shackles of hierarchy, as could only happen in a magical place and time before the empire of global capital became a totality, a time when it was possible to enter a different cultural logic. Sadly, this is a story that can only be imagined in this day and age, and must be relegated to the genre of fiction. It is the first book in a series by Combustion Books called “The Anarchist Imagination.”

book review EXCLUDED

by Julia Serano

Seal Press, 2013, 336 pages

Reviewed by Finn

Excluded: Making Feminist and Queer Movements More Inclusive” is Julia Serano’s most recent collection of essays. Readers might be familiar with Julia’s work from “Whipping Girl”, a  collection of personal reflections on transmisogyny. “Excluded” picks up where “Whipping Girl” left off, continuing to confront transmisogyny and other forms of sexism, but within the context of feminist and queer organizing. Split into two parts, “Excluded” begins with personal essays on how queer and feminist circles are often unfriendly to trans women, femmes, and bisexual identified folks. Julia’s first-person accounts are paired with a healthy dose of analysis on why certain forms of sexism are pervasive in supposedly anti-sexist spaces and followed with some practical ways to combat this. With a blunt, thoughtful, and systematic writing style, Julia breaks down a complex intersectional problem in a way that’s easy to follow and challenges us to actually do something about it.

Part One of “Excluded” chronicles Julia’s personal experiences with with what she calls “sexism-based exclusion”, a wide range of biases and double-standards related to gender and sexuality. These forms of sexism are largely discussed in terms of subversivism, the privileging of identities deemed more “radical”, and identity policing among feminists and queers. More so than “Whipping Girl”, which was geared towards as broad an audience as possible, “Excluded” is speaking directly to fellow feminist and queer organizers. Attention is given to biphobia, femmephobia, the devaluing of binary gender identities, and the policing of language and identity. These issues aren’t all specific to radical organizing circles, but they’re definitely common in them. In communities where a lot of value is placed on identity, presentation, and terminology, making some of these criticisms can be difficult and intimidating, and I got the impression that Julia was sticking her neck out for those who have been silently thinking this stuff but unable to articulate it. (Incidentally, that’s totally why I wrote this review. I’m not going to make these points more eloquently than Julia did, so please just read her book.)

Julia does an amazing job of navigating the delicate territory between calling out your community and alienating them. I got the impression that a lot of care and intent went into the language used to talk about individual identities, but that punches weren’t pulled when it came to discussing problematic behaviors. My favorite example of this is when Julia discusses the demographics of Mich Fest protesters at Camp Trans. Noting that the cooler-than-thou homogeneously edgy masculine-of-center white 20-something incarnation of “radical queers” really doesn’t represent the vast majority of queer and trans folk, Julia suggests that this “radical queer community” is really just a social clique. Identity isn’t the issue so much as the creation and accessing of spaces that leave a ton of fellow queers-with-radical-politics out. In other words, the problem isn’t identity but the standard of identity. In line with this, getting sidelined for not seeming queer enough (or woman enough or cool enough and so on) is a running theme.

Ultimately, the point of “Excluded” is that feminist and queer organizing circles can perpetuate new forms of sexism, and in communities where heavy weight is given to (often academic and less accessible) language, identity, and presentation, false assumptions and double standards we hold inside ourselves are a major root of the problem.

What’s especially valuable is that Julia goes beyond observing Things That Need to Change and offers several ways to counter sexism-based exclusion. Rather than focusing on affecting large-scale change, Julia’s suggestions focus on small activist communities at the level of individual thought. Riding on the idea that sexism-based exclusion stems from false assumptions, Julia proposes ways to challenge our own and each other’s thinking. We are encouraged to do this at multiple levels of human interaction, from questioning our sexuality (When you find a certain gender unattractive, why is that? Mere lack of interest, or judgment or disgust or fear?) to spotting and confronting double-standards that pop up in organizer spaces (what do you do when a women-only space allows trans masculine folks while banning trans women?). I found Julia’s concept of “ethically gendering” ourselves especially mind-blowing. She suggests that identity can be consensual and ethical when self-validated and contained, but unethical when it depends on another person’s identity for reenforcement. That is, if my masculine non-binary identity was threatened by a genderqueer femme’s expression, I’d be non-consensually burdening that person with my assumptions about how a non-binary gender identity should exist. In addition to the serious self-examinations, more concrete aspects of Julia’s toolkit include using constructive criticism to avoid alienating potential allies with aggressive call-outs, trying to balance our inward focus on individual identities with outward effort, and losing the assumption that people sharing an identity will share the same needs, wants, and politics.

These ideas won’t cause a massive scale gender revolution, but they’re not intended to. Julia is providing a workable toolkit for moving towards inclusiveness within specific activist circles. Much of what Julia says distills down to her call to “expect heterogeneity”, which just means tossing out expectations about who might be included in “The Queer/Feminist/Radical Movement”. Everyone is fucking different, and not always in ways we expect. If this book were to have a weak spot, it would probably be if Julia’s strategies for inclusion didn’t work. However, you’d be hard-pressed to make it through this book without at least spending some time working on your own way of thinking. Being asked to step outside of your comfort zone can be scary and challenging, and this (to me at least) is the most awesome thing about this book – there’s a serious invitation for the reader to grow.

A New World in Our Hearts

Edited by Roy San Filippo

AK Press, 2002, 112 pages

Reviewed by Alex Iwasa

This fall will mark the 25th anniversary of the founding of Love and Rage as a network of activists from the U$, Mexico and Canada, organized to produce a revolutionary newspaper, which by 1993 became a membership based federation. That fall, editor Roy San Filippo joined and worked with the paper’s production group for three years and served a term on Love and Rage’s coordinating committee.

A New World in Our Hearts: Eight Years of Writing from the Love and Rage Revolutionary Anarchist Federation is a great start for people who want an at least partial understanding of how the anti-authoritarian Left in the U$ got to where it was by 1998, and how we can hopefully break some of the cycles of mistakes and outright wrongdoings that have continued since then, many of which have gotten worse.

Printed in 2003, this book is “a first step in preserving the organizational legacy, ideas, debates, and history beyond the political life span of the individual members of Love and Rage.” A second step is long over due. There is a Love and Rage archive available at loveandrage.org and a number of other websites contain articles by and about Love and Rage. But an in-depth, systematic study of the polemical debates and activism of Love and Rage, at least of a few core issues such as race and strategy would benefit comrades today greatly since we are facing too many of the same things, many of which are worse. A look towards the work of directly related post Love and Rage groups such as Bring the Ruckus would also be invaluable to people who continue to struggle for radical change today. If you are interested in helping with this, please write alextheweaver at gmail dot com!

Zine Reveiws (issue #116)

Zine reviews!
 Warning: reading will make you weird. Try these small press publications and you may be infected to either write and produce one yourself...or start to talk to yourself in public places. Met me at the donut shop with a sharpie.

Voices of the Lucasville Uprising Volume 1lucasvilleamnesty.org

The Lucasville Uprising was a prison rebellion against oppression and racism at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility (SOCF) just outside of the village of Lucasville. Nine inmates and one guard were killed in what was the longest prison rebellion in which lives were lost in U$ history. I find it remarkable primarily for how it brought African American and white inmates together.

This ‘zine contains essays by and one about people who were incarcerated in the SOCF during the 1993 uprising. There is also a few very well drawn pictures, done by one of the ex-Lucasville inmates who is on death row for his alleged role in the uprising. This ‘zine is a good place to start for those who want to learn more about the uprising, prisons, and the complexity of prisoners and their alliances whether one agrees with their politics or perhaps even oppose them. Includes prisoners’ contact info. (A. Iwasa)

functionally ill #17

functionallyill.blogspot.com

This is a ‘zine done by Laura-Marie, a 37 year old diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder, bipolar type. This particular issue deals with therapy and Laura-Marie’s feelings for her therapist, experiencing rapid cycling of depression and mania’s ups and downs, body image, navigating through the process of trying to get on disability and dreams. Most of the stories are short but punchy, nicely formatted and the binding is hand stitched. (A. Iwasa)

Destroy the Scene: BROS FALL BACKantieverythingshows@gmail.com poczineproject.tumblr.com 
	This was my first experience reading a PDF zine, but I feel like I appreciated it more because it looks like scans of the originals. Bros Fall Back has been out for almost a year, but it is very timely in light of what seems like a cycle of people not being accountable for shit that makes other community members feel unsafe or disrespected. What is the ‘scene’ really accomplishing when certain people feel excluded and unwanted? Is the scene simply another cis/white centric metric of capitalism? I feel like this Zine addresses these questions (and more) with a bullet. If you haven’t read it, you really should. Contribute to the death of your ‘inner bro.’ (torn) 

Assume Nothing #1 ($3)

edited by Ess Elle

assumenothingzine.tumblr.com

Judging from the cover, Assume Nothing looked like just another generic political zine with very little focus, but in actuality it was full of history, personal narratives, critical theory, poetry, and musical lyrics about a very specific subject: living with herpes. (Of course, the title insists that we refuse to make assumptions based on external appearances; lesson learned!) Clocking in at a generous 47 pages, Assume Nothing #1 speaks forcefully about the stigmatization of STDs (or is it STIs? STAs?), and fundamentally changed some of my perspective on herpes, safer sex, and even consent. The chapter on STI disclosure is also available as a wallet-sized stand-alone zine! etsy.com/shop/polycultures (x.lenc)

100 Year Rip-Off: The Real History of British Colombia, ($5)

by Bob Simms and Bob Altwein

adastracomix.com

Like a lot of people in the United States, I know even less about Canadian history than I do about South African, Russian, or even Croatian history, and this well-made folio (which was really more of a history with graphic accompaniment than a ‘comic’) seemed like a great place to start. It’s a re-release of a 1971 comic (‘remastered’ by N. M. Guiniling) that, despite a 40+ year content gap since its original publication and some frustrating oversimplifications (i.e. the assertion that WWI was nothing more than a dedicated industrialist conspiracy to increase product demand), still manages to enlighten capture attention with its Rocky & Bullwinkle-esque cartoons and refreshing attention to a slice of labor history I’d never heard of. http://adastracomix.com/ (x.lenc)

The Stowaways #15($2)

by Christopher Gordon

5082 Wendover Rd

Yorba Linda,CA 92886

fuckthestowaways.blogspot.com

The Stowaways is a great punk zine because it’s written by someone who goes to a fuckload of shows, so almost any DIY-minded (not necessarily just punk) band that passes through the Orange County/Los Angeles area has at least a passing chance at getting a show review. Unfortunately, the reviews aren’t always very comprehensive (one act, for example, is acerbically dismissed as a ‘fucking stupid band’ with no further explanation), but the author’s enthusiasm about the bands he loves often makes up for it. The zine also includes interviews with Elliot Babin (Dad Punchers, DNF, Touche Amore) and Kris Westreich (Collosal Wrecks) which was totally readable but sometimes suffered from Awkward-First-Date-itis (e.g. “Do you have any other siblings?”) and a pleasantly incisive editorial about racism in the punk scene. I’ll definitely be around for #16.(x.lenc)

Music We Hate #2
$3+$1 postage (trades OK)
c/o Fractured Noise
3124 Shattuck Ave.
Berkeley, CA. 94705
www.musicwehate.com
The lyrics to the song "The Internationale" were written while a revolutionary was fleeing from the destruction of the Paris Commune. Likewise the author of this zine fled a brief spark of revolution — this time in 2009 on the campus of UC Berkeley. Shifting his focus from upheaval of the classroom (and all of reality) to sonic disruption is what he's resigned to do these days. This issue uses interviews and show reviews to capture a bit of what is done at noise events. Though the form has been developing for a few decades it remains cutting edge by emphasizing free thought, improvisation  and provocation. The conversations captured here are pretty cool and readable. They only briefly relate on other performers (which will mainly interest those in the know) and spend quite a bit on contemplating ideas. The two musicians documented seem like smart people who attest to how the genre is staunchly DIY yet is often treated as an annoying little brother by rock/punk/metal enthusiasts. The editor Joey Refugio also is interested in giving space to artists who are politically inspired (as opposed to reactionary). (egg)

rabbit, Rabbit, rabbit #2 $2 or trade
654 Highlandview dr.
West Bend, WI. 53095
colinquackpack@live.com
Covering the sublime moments of a small town punk existence. Mostly it documents various bands using photos and hand scrawled notes that are dripping with enthusiasm.  Throw in some meditations that aim to inject a new world onto their land of routine. This issue also has a recipe for iced coffee. Some of the hand writing is hard to read and most of the descriptions are so brief you can blink and miss the point. I get the impression that the author is trying to condense his experiences and say much in very little space. Each page has a cut and paste approach which gives extra life to a "sleepy place need(ing) a wake up call." (egg)

Tat Rat Comix #4
Cameron Forsley
Po Box 720283
S.F. CA 94172
Sick looking underground art. Half-size format good to sneak peaks at (in class? during interrogation?) with lots of hidden content worth staring at. Proof that LSD hasn't left the Bay Area with the cancerous yuppiefication.(egg)

Cheap Toys #4 Fall 2013
2 Euros ppd or a cool trade
19, Montee du Caroubier
06240 Beausoleil, France
xtramedium@laposte.net
The editor is a former small town punk turned activist turned academic researcher who's really excited about library studies. This issue seems to be travel logs of the international DIY/punk scene of North America. My 8th grade studies couldn't help me with the passages written in French--which the cursive typewriter didn't help any. There are other pages written by hand or a computer, overall it has a promising feel to it.(egg)

Gallery Noctem
1557 Spring Creek Dr.
Lafayette, CO 80026
Art and poetry from Brian "Mugshot". I tried to read the poetry but it seemed pretty dense. If you have the time you might have a transcendental moment. I was just confused. (egg)

Back to the Future: Socialism 2.0

By Bill

What will health care become once Capital is buried 60 feet under in North America and across the planet? Its demise will spell the end of:

the private pharmaceutical industry and stranglehold of corporate Big Pharma interests and structures

private medical insurers, the whole shebang

the privately-owned industries for high-cost medical equipment

fee-gouging practices by countless physicians in the name of profit over people

the network of costly, profit-oriented private clinics and hospitals

Their disappearance will open up radically new vistas on health care provision and preventive medicine as an inherent public good.

My article today, grounded on many years of direct experience in provincial post-communist Bulgaria, asks if past paradigmatic experiments that strove over decades to create socialized medicine are useful historical experiments worth looking at and possibly learning from?

I wish to argue that we need to revisit the various experiments in universal health care in the socialist states of Eastern Europe. Those experiments now lie largely dismantled, demonized by the neoliberal corporate and political (dis)order that has descended on much of the former Eastern Bloc. My guiding thesis: in moving toward ‘socialism 2.0,’ the international left needs to look unblinkered at redeemable past real-socialist achievements in medicine, housing, guaranteed full employment, people’s education, salvaging and retrofitting what seems viable. This essay explores one such ‘experiment in people’s medicine’ that lost the Cold War, namely in the socialist People’s Republic of Bulgaria.

Bulgaria’s socialist experiment and grounded experience of universal socialist health care may have been the most positive of any of the various (and quite different) states inside what was called the Warsaw Pact. I have become ever more convinced, mainly by living long-term among Bulgarians of a generation born circa 1974 and earlier, that what Bulgaria achieved before the catastrophe of 1989-90 and the demise of its socialist system—it did not self-destruct—was indeed exemplary and is worth looking at and learning from. My own long-standing ties to social-anarchist imaginaries have been reshaped by repeated discussion with Bulgarians who are certain their own lives in the People’s Republic (1944-1990) were far more happy and ordered, materially and socially, then than now, and radical equality was a central value.

We need to ask what that system of medical social welfare actually was, how it was experienced, what it accomplished, as revealed by people’s oral history: building an oral history of socialist medicine as it was experienced and remains reflected in the memory of real people, its living subjects. What can we learn from its past for the project of a new more libertarian ‘socialism 2.0’ in our own century? What were its shortcomings and failings, as a system within a one-party authoritarian communist state operating under the myriad constraints of the Cold War? But exploring that requires an open mind among socialists, ready to rethink long-held shibboleths—beyond all the distortions of Cold War perceptions in North America, and on the North American left, unfortunately still operative down to the present day.

In real-socialist Bulgaria, medical care was universal and cost-free, including hospitalization and surgical procedures. Waiting periods for admission to hospital were kept to a minimum. Citizens did not pay for state ‘insurance’ coverage; rather, it was offered to all adults and children as a state benefit.

This fact was closely intertwined with a core aspect of the socialist economy: guaranteed full employment. Bulgarians in interview speak about “three people doing the job of one,” in effect a form of real-socialist job-sharing, all with a guaranteed livable egalitarian wage. Citizens with a primary school education (or less) were also all employed—as factory hands, toilet attendants, in agriculture, street cleaners and other simple jobs, all at a livable egalitarian wage. This was in effect a socialist UBI or ‘unconditional basic income’ for one and all, but tied to actually having an assigned job of some kind. Not to accept a job was viewed as a misdemeanor, in effect a crime not to work. The state enforced full labor, it was policed. Since there was ‘full employment,’ with the state as universal employer, it had no need to levy a special added monthly or annual fee for medical coverage (as exists today).

Virtually everyone over the age of 19 or 20, including many married women, had some assigned job. All doctors also worked for the state, there was no private practice, it was basically prohibited. The egalitarian system of incomes ensured that wage differentials among most workers—from professors, factory heads, doctors, lawyers, writers, artists, actors, railroad workers, to office personnel, sales personnel, street cleaners, you name it—were relatively minor. In their narratives, people recount that wages were quite adequate for most needs since costs of many essentials were kept at a minimum, and some aspects of virtual ‘demonetization’ (for example, of utilities like water, steam heat and electricity, or public transport) were clearly in effect. Prices were also uniform everywhere, and generally quite stable over long periods. Low-cost restaurants, nearly cost-free workplace canteens and vacation resorts were also once the familiar and welcome norm.

Doctors and dentists were assigned to all schools, factories, and agricultural collectives, as well as to set hours at clinics and in hospital. What this meant at a school, for example, is that children were regularly checked for general health and dental health, by an in-school medical practitioner. This system of preventive medical care was, in common memory, deemed quite exemplary: it led to an excellent standard in oral hygiene, promoted in and by the school. Doctors’ physical exams on the spot at school made sure kids were healthy, and not overweight. Physicians assigned to factories were available for any accident on the spot, and also ensured regular check-ups for workers. Doctors and nurses were also available at cost-free summer camps, which were very widespread as a means to educate children and youth and provide out-of-school recreation and training.

Patients could in addition go to any doctor of their choice, including a specialist. People narrate that care in hospital was in their memory excellent, as was food for patients. Patients were charged nothing for hospital stays and various procedures, or for medications. The ratio of hospital beds to population was high. Technology for accurate diagnosis and treatment was of a relatively high standard, given the constraints of the Cold War and the country’s relatively small size (peaking at approximately 9 million in 1988).

Importantly, pharmacies were all state-owned. The pharmaceuticals, from state-owned Bulgarian manufacturers and imported largely from other socialist economies, were, in people’s memory, of high quality and quite inexpensive. Only a non-profit pharmaceutical manufacturing industry could ensure the functioning of such a system. Nor was there advertising of such products. There was no perceived need.

In socialist Bulgaria, from the 1950s, there was a widespread network of rural primary care clinics, staffed by doctors and nurses and paramedics assigned to such posts. This helped significantly to overcome the inevitable differences in the geography of access to medical care, urban vs. rural.

After the collapse of socialism, the ‘class war from above’ under the naked rule of Capitalism resurrected in the former socialist states of East-Central and Eastern Europe, a ‘new periphery’ of global Capital, in some ways a ‘neocolonial’ topography of contradictions is particularly virulent and barbaric in Bulgaria. Today its population, economy, and levels of morale are in massive contraction under unfettered Capital’s ‘shock therapy.’ It is now the lowest-income post-socialist state, with the highest levels of economic emigration in Europe.

The once paradigmatic Bulgarian system of people’s health care lies largely in ruins, its restructured remnant seriously underfunded. The changes are striking. Many Bulgarians remain reluctant or simply unable to pay the current monthly fee for obligatory state health insurance (about the equivalent of $11), and so nearly 20 percent now are not legally insured. Nonetheless, hospitals now account for a third of all public debt in capitalist Bulgaria.

The contrast between ‘then’ and ‘now’ is stark and for many Bulgarians truly overwhelming, even devastating for the most impoverished, a large segment of the pensioned senior citizenry, and nearly all of the Roma ethnic underclass, the most severely afflicted victims in the reborn free-market economy. Once nearly all Roma were gainfully employed, despite the endemic racism against them; today Roma joblessness, in part due to the same now more virulent racism, is in the range of 85-90 percent; many Roma have emigrated westward in order to survive.

What then can we learn from the experiments in a now gutted people’s Bulgaria? Can some of real-socialist health care be retrofitted for tomorrow? Is a less centralized, more locally-controlled socialist commonwealth possible? How a far more ‘self-determining’ yet sustainable communist society could be vibrantly constructed from the ‘bottom up,’ based more on autonomous production units, remains an open question. Perhaps one key paradigm, both in the Balkans and North America, turns on creating worker self-directed enterprises (WSDEs) as a mass anti-capitalist movement, as Richard Wolff envisions. Would an economy grounded on WSDEs be able to forge a bold new system of socialist cost-free health care? As a material basis for that, could it engineer a decentralized mode of full employment anchored in radical hands-on democracy at work? Or is guaranteed full employment achievable only in a highly centralized command economy, with all the hierarchical architecture of top-down planning and control that can entail?

In all such visions of a post-capitalist future, egalitarian, cost-free, sustainable health care as a public good is a central challenge. So a working sub-thesis here might suggest: social-anarchist and real-socialist vision and practice can learn much from each other in a mutually fruitful if dialectical bond. That is a rare proposition, but we live in singular critical times.

Book Review: Hobo Fires by Robert Earl Sutter III

Hobo Fires

by Robert Earl Sutter III

3332 18th Ave. South Apt#1 Minneapolis, MN 55407

RobertEarlSutterIII.com 336 pages Retail $30

Review by Egg-Nog-shush!

Shit –- people get old. Rob Noxious is now Robert Earl Sutter…the III. At least his life as an anarchist artist hasn’t matured into as stuffy confines as the name has. Expanded and gotten deeper it has, rich with moods, idealism and friendship. It is a life that sips at the narcotic freedom to be found just outside of society’s cage.

There is a lot going on here to be encapsulated — if it could be a pill I’d suggest you’d grab something to wash it down. I’m going to cheese dick this review. This new graphic novel was sent a couple months ago to our collective and no one read it. When I noticed it wasn’t handled I started to entreat the well intentioned usual gang of volunteers loitering around our car wreck of a project to review it. I was given as much acknowledgment as a Green Party Voters guide at an anarchist book fair. So in an effort not to give similar treatment to old Rob I found a spot under a tree and read about half of the book – just in case.

For those who don’t know Rob he chronicles the things dear to him in comic book form. Living on the fringes of mainstream society by train hopping, squatting, playing DIY/punk music, pursuing Queer love and other advancements of living in current radical life. This recent comic does that but the twist is that it is set in the future — where people use technology to get the low down on what train to ride, where robots patrol no man’s land and activists make islands from recycled plastic bottles. There’s enough familiar things going on to capture you in the present age. Chance romantic encounters, people sharing music and drink, conversations speculating on reality, observations of nature ruling supreme. Oogles. The sci-fi part of it didn’t grab me and shake me until I picked it up recently and finished reading the story. The most impressive feat to find is that someone is actually sitting around thinking about the future. And not just how they’re going to make money or bullshit to prolong capitalism. It is a waking dream of a mutated reality carefully re-imaged on paper for anyone caring to look. Some dystopian aspects play strong. One of the main characters was busted by the pigs and lugs around a police state monitoring device…in his head. The story follows this character trying to remove the tracker.

There is a lot to be found while on the journey – and that better future is really the present day radical community. People meeting each other and discovering their dimensions is a consistent throughout the drama. There are conversations I didn’t catch onto like the philosophical and technical ramblings of science. It reflects the kinds of things people ponder when not leaded down by capitalism’s distractions. Though I rushed reading through these segments I found them accurate to conversations I’ve had in this scene.

Even if not all aspects of the narrative grabbed me, I did find it important that someone is thinking ahead. When so many people who look at the problems of the world today meet that knowledge and drown in alcohol, dwell on thoughts of suicide or go on shooting sprees. One character to be found in Hobo Fires had that last impulse until they found the radical DIY community. It is a community that make and share books like this one, or a boat to float down the Mississippi, or a collectively run house or cafe. It is what many people in the world desperately need today; some human made gift that isn’t ultimately going to (non-consensually) fuck you or rip you off. In this respect Hobo Fires acts as a magnifying glass to today’s struggling Utopias.

The art in Hobo Fires hasn’t progressed much from Rob’s output from the past ten years. I assume that the inner child is the boss when it comes time to make a comic. The characters and their world rendered in black pencil may strike some people as being crude. Many of the pictures have the quality of someone drawing during math class. He hasn’t grown into a serious artist as he dropped the “Noxious” from his name, unless you consider his crafting of narrative. He does spend enormous time drawing in the sheer number of the pictures to be found. Clocking in at 336 pages it will be interesting to see the people attracted to a pirate punk lifestyle spend the $35 necessary for such an endeavor. The story often stops to give images of an open vista that is common to a life tramping across rural America. Some pages are even ruled by negative space depicting the lack of artificial light to be found outside urban areas. These segments emphasize the sounds that become so vivid when you can’t see.

There are many pages here that Rob attempt’s to capture the divine—in nature and human endeavor. Realism of image is forsaken for the spirit of the moment being conveyed. Lots of the pages are worthy of just awe. I bet if you ever see the originals in their full size with the hours of finger work smeared over the page you’d shit your pants. But I don’t think you want that so it’s better if you go back to checking your phone. I think you missed a text – it was real important.

Book Review: Race, Monogamy, & Other Lies they told you – Busting Myths About Human Nature by Augustine Fuentas

Race Monogamy, and other Lies They Told You: Busting Myths About Human Nature Agustin Fuentes, University of California Press, 2012, 220 pgs.

Reviewed by Dym Squirrel

Some books are so near-comically ambitious that they invariably provoke either knee-jerk ridicule or messianic hopefulness, with precious little in between. The expansively tiled Race, Monogamy, and Other Lies They Told You: Busting Myths About Human Nature, runs that risk, but I hope it will be read with guarded optimism.

In my opinion, Mr. Fuentes doesn’t quite “bust” the myths he addresses, but he still does a helluva job deflating them, giving readers some solid ammunition in the battles over what “human nature” is (if anything) and the consequences of those battles on society. This book has two parts: first, a 3 chapter “Myth-Busting toolkit,” “Myths About Aggression,” and “Myths About Sex.” While all are interesting, I found the “Myths About Aggression” the most valuable from an anarchist perspective, since evidence that humans are not inherently vicious or greedy really strikes at the heart of justifications for hierarchical power and society’s infatuation with coercive control. Without espousing anarchism himself, Mr. Fuentes’ points go far in support of those of us who do. As for sex and “race,” he largely attempts to disprove any significant, genetically based differences between the sexes and amongst what most people think of as “the races,” and he succeeds about as well as one might hope.

Ultimately, the highlight of this book is Mr. Fuentes’ thorough, clear and accessible “Myth Busting Toolkit,” which should probably be reviewed annually by both newbies and veterans of the nature/nurture debate alike. His “Naturenurtural” coining for how people actually develop is a valuable conceptual tool for avoiding binary thinking AND the fallacy that development is just the addition of “nature” and “nurture,” like 1 +1 = 2, helping us see how 1 + 1 = * instead. Alchemy, baby.

My hardcover first printing contained a lot of small but annoying editorial errors, but hopefully those will be fixed in the softcover edition, and I’d still recommend it to anyone wanting to contribute to a free and equal society that cares more about people and truth than money and mythology.