Green Anarchy #18
An Anti-Civilization Journal of Theory and Action
To Produce or Not to Produce — Class, Modernity and Identity, by Kevin Tucker
Class is a social relationship. Stripped to its base, it is about economics. It’s about being a producer, distributor or an owner of the means and fruits of production. No matter what category any person is, it’s about identity. Who do you identify with? Or better yet, what do you identify with? Every one of us can be put into any number of socio-economic categories. But that isn’t the question. Is your job your identity? Is your economical niche?
Let’s take a step back. What are economics? My dictionary defines it as: “the science of production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services.” Fair enough. Economies do exist. In any society where there is unequal access to the necessities of life, where people are dependent upon one another (and more importantly, institutions) there is economy. The goal of revolutionaries and reformists has almost always been about reorganizing the economy. Wealth must be redistributed. Capitalist, communist, socialist, syndicalist, what have you, it’s all about economics. Why? Because production has been naturalized, science can always distinguish economy, and work is just a necessary evil.It’s back to the fall from Eden where Adam was punished to till the soil for disobeying god. It’s the Protestant work ethic and warnings of the sin of ‘idle hands’. Work becomes the basis for humanity. That’s the inherent message of economics. Labor “is the prime basic condition for all human existence, and this to such an extent that, in a sense, we have to say that labor created man himself.” That’s not Adam Smith or God talking (at least this time), that’s Frederick Engels. But something’s very wrong here. What about the Others beyond the walls of Eden? What about the savages who farmers and conquistadors (for all they can be separated) could only see as lazy for not working? Are economics universal?
Let’s look back at our definition.
The crux of economy is production. So if production is not universal, then economy cannot be. We’re in luck, it’s not. The savage Others beyond the walls of Eden, the walls of Babylon, and the gardens: nomadic gatherer/hunters, produced nothing. A hunter does not produce wild animals. A gatherer does not produce wild plants. They simply hunt and gather. Their existence is give and take, but this is ecology, not economy. Every one in a nomadic gatherer/hunter society is capable of getting what they need on their own. That they don’t is a matter of mutual aid and social cohesiveness, not force. If they don’t like their situation, they change it. They are capable of this and encouraged to do so. Their form of exchange is anti-economy: generalized reciprocity. This means simply that people give anything to anyone whenever. There are no records, no tabs, no tax and no running system of measurement or worth. Share with others and they share in return. These societies are intrinsically anti-production, anti-wealth, anti-power, anti-economics. They are simply egalitarian to the core: organic, primal anarchy.
But that doesn’t tell how we became economic people. How work became identity. Looking at the origins of civilization does. Civilization is based off production. The first instance of production is surplus production. Nomadic gatherer/hunters got what they needed when they needed it. They ate animals, insects, and plants. When a number of gatherer/hunters settled, they still hunted animals and gathered plants, but not to eat. At least not immediately.
In Mesopotamia, the cradle of our now global civilization, vast fields of wild grains could be harvested. Grain, unlike meat and most wild plants, can be stored without any intensive technology. It was put in huge granaries. But grain is harvested seasonally. As populations expand, they become dependent upon granaries rather than what is freely available. Enter distribution. The granaries were owned by elites or family elders who were in charge of rationing and distributing to the people who filled their lot. Dependency means compromise: that’s the central element of domestication. Grain must be stored. Granary owners store and ration the grain in exchange for increased social status. Social status means coercive power. This is how the State arose.
In other areas, such as what is now the northwest coast of the United States into Canada, store houses were filled with dried fish rather than grain. Kingdoms and intense chiefdoms were established. The subjects of the arising power were those who filled the storehouses. This should sound familiar. Expansive trade networks were formed and the domestication of plants and then animals followed the expansion of populations. The need for more grain turned gatherers into farmers. The farmers would need more land and wars were waged. Soldiers were conscripted. Slaves were captured. Nomadic gatherer/hunters and horticulturalists were pushed away and killed.
The people did all of this not because the chiefs and kings said so, but because their created gods did. The priest is as important to the emergence of states as chiefs and kings. At some points they were the same position, sometimes not. But they fed off each other. Economics, politics and religion have always been one system. Nowadays science takes the place of religion. That’s why Engels could say that labor is what made humans from apes. Scientifically this is could easily be true. God punished the descendants of Adam and Eve to work the land. Both are just a matter of faith.
But faith comes easily when it comes from the hand that feeds. So long as we are dependent on the economy, we’ll compromise what the plants and animals tells us, what our bodies tell us. No one wants to work, but that’s just the way it is. So we see in the tunnel vision of civilization. The economy needs reformed or revolutionized. The fruit of production needs redistributed.
Enter class struggle.
Class is one of many relationships offered by civilization. It has often been asserted that the history of civilization is the history of class struggle. But I would argue differently. The relationship between the peasant and the king and between chief and commoner cannot be reduced to one set of categories. When we do this, we ignore the differences that accompany various aspects of civilization. Simplification is nice and easy, but if we’re trying to understand how civilization arose so that we can destroy it, we must be willing to understand subtle and significant differences. What could be more significant than how power is created, maintained and asserted? This isn’t done to cheapen the very real resistance that the ‘underclass’ had against elites, far from it. But to say that class or class consciousness are universal ignores important particulars. Class is about capitalism. It’s about a globalizing system based on absolute mediation and specialization. It emerged from feudal relationships through mercantile capitalism into industrial capitalism and now modernity. Proletarian, bourgeoisie, peasant, petite bourgeoisie, these are all social classes about our relationship to production and distribution. Particularly in capitalist society, this is everything. All of this couldn’t have been more apparent than during the major periods of industrialization. You worked in a factory, owned it or sold what came out of it. This was the heyday of class consciousness because there was no question about it. Proletarians were in the same conditions and for the most part they knew that is where they would always be. They spent their days and nights in factories while the ‘high society’ of the bourgeoisie was always close enough to smell, but not taste.
If you believed God, Smith or Engels, labor was your essence. It made you human. To have your labor stolen from you must have been the worst of all crimes. The workers ran the machine and it was within their grasp to take it over. They could get rid of the boss and put in a new one or a worker’s council.
If you believed production was necessary, this was revolutionary. And even more so because it was entirely possible. Some people tried it. Some of them were successful. A lot of them were not. Most revolutions were accused of failing the ideals of those who created them. But in no place did the proletariat resistance end relationships of domination.
The reason is simple: they were barking up the wrong tree. Capitalism is a form of domination, not its source. Production and industrialism are parts of civilization, a heritage much older and far more rooted than capitalism.
But the question is really about identity. The class strugglers accepted their fate as producers, but sought to make the most of a bad situation. That’s a faith that civilization requires. That’s a fate that I won’t accept. That’s a fate the earth won’t accept. The inevitable conclusion of the class struggle is limited because it is rooted in economics. Class is a social relationship, but it is tied to capitalist economics. Proletarians are identified as people who sell their labor. Proletarian revolution is about taking back your labor. But I’m not buying the myths of God, Smith, or Engels. Work and production are not universal and civilization is the problem. What we have to learn is that link between our own class relationships and those of the earlier civilizations is not about who is selling labor and who is buying, but between about the existence of production itself. About how we came to believe that spending our lives building power that is wielded against us is justified. About how compromising our lives as free beings to become workers and soldiers became a compromise we were willing to take.
It is about the material conditions of civilization and the justifications for them, because that is how we will come to understand civilization. So we can understand what the costs of domestication are, for ourselves and the earth. So that we can destroy it once and for all.
This is what the anarcho-primitivist critique of civilization attempts to do. It’s about understanding civilization, how it is created and maintained. Capitalism is a late stage of civilization and class struggle as the resistance to that order is all extremely important to both our understanding of civilization and how to attack it.
There is a rich heritage of resistance against capitalism. It is another part of the history of resistance against power that goes back to its origins. But we should be wary to not take any stage as the only stage. Anti-capitalist approaches are just that, anti-capitalist. It is not anti-civilization. It is concerned with a certain type of economics, not economics, production or industrialism itself. An understanding of capitalism is only useful so far as it is historically and ecologically rooted.
But capitalism has been the major target of the past centuries of resistance. As such, the grasp of class struggle is apparently not easy to move on from. Global capitalism was well rooted by 1500 AD and continued through the technological, industrial and green revolutions of the last 500 years. With a rise in technology it has spread throughout the planet to the point where there is now only one global civilization. But capitalism is still not universal. If we see the world as a stage for class struggle, we are ignoring the many fronts of resistance that are explicitly resisting civilization. This is something that class struggle advocates typically ignore, but in some ways only one of two major problems. The other problem is the denial of modernity.
Modernity is the face of late capitalism. It’s the face that has been primarily spreading over the last 50 years through a series of technological expansions that have made the global economy as we know it now possible. It is identified by hyper-technology and hyper-specialization.
Let’s face it; the capitalists know what they are doing. In the period leading up to World War I and through World War II the threat of proletariat revolution was probably never so strongly felt. Both wars were fought in part to break this revolutionary spirit. But it didn’t end there. In the post war periods the capitalists knew that any kind of major restructuring would have to work against that level of class consciousness. Breaking the ability to organize was central. Our global economy made sense not only in economic terms, but in social terms. The concrete realities of class cohesion were shaken. Most importantly, with global production, a proletarian revolution couldn’t feed and provide for itself. This is one of the primary causes for the ‘failure’ of the socialist revolutions in Russia, China, Nicaragua and Cuba to name just a few.
The structure of modernity is anti-class consciousness. In industrialized nations, most of the work force is service oriented. People could very easily take over any number of stores and Wal-Marts, but where would this get us? The periphery and core of modern capitalism are spread across the world. A revolution would have to be global, but would it look any different in the end? Would it be any more desirable?
In industrializing nations which provide almost everything that the core needs, the reality of class consciousness is very real. But the situation is much the same. We have police and fall in line; they have an everyday reality of military intervention. The threat of state retaliation is much more real and the force of core states to keep those people in line is something most of us probably can’t imagine. But even should revolt be successful, what good are mono-cropped fields and sweatshops? The problem runs much deeper than what can be achieved by restructuring production.
But, in terms of the industrial nations, the problem runs even deeper. The spirit of modernity is extremely individualistic. Even though that alone is destroying everything it means to be human, that’s what we’re up against. It’s like lottery capitalism: we believe that it is possible for each of us to strike it rich. We’re just looking out for number one. We’ll more than happily get rich or die trying. The post-modern ethos that defines our reality tells us that we have no roots. It feeds our passive nihilism that reminds us that we’re fucked, but there’s nothing we can do about it. God, Smith and Engels said so, now movies, music, and markets remind us. The truth is that in this context proletarian identity has little meaning. Classes still exist, but not in any revolutionary context. Study after study shows that most Americans consider them middle class. We judge by what we own rather than what we owe on credit cards. Borrowed and imagined money feeds an identity, a compromise, that we’re willing to sell our souls for more stuff. Our reality runs deeper than proletarian identity can answer. The anti-civilization critique points towards a much more primal source of our condition. It doesn’t accept myths of necessary production or work, but looks to a way of life where these things weren’t just absent, but where they were intentionally pushed away.
It channels something that can be increasingly felt as modernity automates life. As development tears at the remaining ecosystems. As production breeds a completely synthetic life. As life loses meaning. As the earth is being killed.
I advocate primal war.
But this is not an anti-civilization form of class war. It’s not a tool for organizing, but a term for rage. A kind of rage felt at every step of the domestication process. A kind of rage that cannot be put into words. The rage of the primal self subdued by production and coercion. The kind of rage that will not be compromised. The kind of rage that can destroy civilization.
It’s a question of identity.
Are you a producer, distributor, owner, or a human being? Most importantly, do you want to reorganize civilization and its economics or will you settle for nothing less than their complete destruction?
Winds of War, Winds of Change!
Gasping for Air in the Age of Global Warming
Between the choking exhaust discharged on every side by the Industrial Death Machine, the flatulence of the U.S. presidential elections, and the general foulness that pervades the atmosphere, it’s impossible not to take notice of air (and the lack of it!)—or to avoid fantasizing about a revolutionary tempest that would dispel the psychic/spiritual soot we’re smothered by and freshen our struggle with some hopeful gales. A seemingly gaseous envelope of despair threatens to encircle us (a vaporous oppressor that we can’t simply smash—or even grasp!), while an equally incorporeal, but more quantifiable, greenhouse effect ravages the health of the biosphere.
The Kenai Peninsula in Alaska, nearly twice the size of Yellowstone National Park, is in the last phases of a graphic death, overrun by spruce bark beetles whose populations have exploded with rising temperatures. Other forests, farther north, are sinking or drowning as melting permafrost forces water up, bringing about a phenomenon known as “drunken trees.” North of Fairbanks, roads are buckling, telephone poles have started to tilt, and the 800-mile-long Trans-Alaska Pipeline is being desperately propped up with new supports. Melting Alaskan glaciers are now adding almost twice as much water to the world’s oceans as the entire Greenland ice cap. Simultaneously, Brazil’s efforts to industrially “tame” its vast jungles now pours about 400 million tons of greenhouse gases into the air each year, and the U.S. Defense Department steps up the incineration of its aging chemical munitions all over the Pacific Northwest.
What’s needed is a typhoon of fury, but the “radical” environmental movement in North America can’t seem to breathe out even a small draft of coherency in its analysis, just more of the same musty clichés—the fetid effluvium of a university education. With its head in the ethers, the “environmental movement” is like a static, immobile breeze producing only stale emissions. Rendered sightless by the smog of liberalism, these middle-class activists place their faith in the 1977 “Clean Air Act” and other assorted absurdities—and global asphyxiation accelerates. This war becomes more and more primal, as the green anarchist resistance matures into a biological, as well as political, conflict with civilization…
As totality’s atmosphere becomes all the more noticeably deadly, as well as impoverished/ impoverishing, brute force and the inertia of civilization alone enforce the Regime of domestication. Here, as in Iraq, the Empire has no clothes, no answers, no future. Force is a fall-back position of last resort. Forward, to breathe free!
Welcome to Green Anarchy
Can 2004 really be coming to a close already? Have five years really passed since the teargas and broken glass-filled days and nights of Seattle? Wasn’t this all supposed to have crashed by now? Youthful optimism and naivete grow steadily into a more serious focus, as the analysis of, and actions against, the civilized logic become stronger. Phrases like “the destruction of civilization and the reconnection to life” become deeper and more complex, but remain at least as potent.
One subject, which has often been underplayed (at times seeming almost absent) in a green anarchist critique, is that of “class struggle”. Not that it is unimportant, but often avoided in reaction to the overly simplistic and marxist-driven perspective of the Left. In this issue, however, “class” is tackled from various insurrectionary, primitivist, and personal perspectives. We offer no “unified” conclusions, only a sampling of ideas from which to draw inspiration from in our daily struggles against the institutions of control and domestication and our separation from life.
We did get a submission from NEFAC (Northeastern Federation of Anarcho-Communists), the self-described contemporary experts on the subject of “revolutionary class struggle”, but have chosen not to print it because of its lack of any relevance to an anti-civilization perspective. It basically re-hashes the same old stuff that appears in NEFAC’s dust-covered propaganda, while also advocating for “organic farming” and “alternative, intermediate, convivial, humanistic, community, or liberatory technology” which is “as democratic as possible”, and slapping “anticivilization” onto the title. Did they really think this would get past us? While we do have a critique of language, we can read! They could have at least left out the Kropotkin quotes, or not have so solidly declared their allegiance to the Left. Anyway, with all the contributions we received, many of which we were unable to print simply due to space considerations, we certainly were not going to make room for more of the same unoriginal leftism.
One subject which unfortunately doesn’t get addressed in this issue, and which we will certainly get to in the future, is the socialization of the upper-middle and upper classes, and how this relates to our micro-worlds, communities, scenes, etc. Too often, those coming from these backgrounds refuse to deal with their baggage, and like other forms of privilege, bring a sense of entitlement and power over others. Some of us, quite frankly, are a little tired of those who continually point out only others’ privilege, while never really perceiving the deeply engrained power dynamics they reproduce because of their own class background. Domination is domination, control is control, and power is power. They come in many forms, and are intermingled with our experiences. We cannot measure oppression in some sort of quantitative way, as some have suggested, with reactionary and leftist concepts like a “privilege pyramid”; but instead, power needs to be recognized, analyzed, undermined, and destroyed in all of its forms. We are all suffering from different roles and forms of socialization (even the upper class, although it’s harder for some of us to have much compassion there), and a lot of shit needs to be broken down, within and all around us, before we can live more healthy and egalitarian lives.
On a general note, we are very pleased and thankful that people have continued to appreciate and support this project. We have received lots of help from our call for financial assistance, and therefore have been able to preserve the quality and comprehensiveness of Green Anarchy, at least for one more issue. We are determined to maintain the free prisoner subscriptions and continue to provide as many free copies around the world as possible, provided people remain as generous as they have recently been. Our means to keep up with the growing interest in this project depends on you. GA is volunteer run, and, along with some generous help, we put in much of our own dwindling resources to sustain this project. To keep us going from issue to issue, we desperately need more folks to become subscribers, hold benefits, or at least pay the mailing costs on copies received. Perhaps most importantly, we need generous patrons who can help underwrite this project.
We also want to announce that, due partially to financial concerns, but more relating to a realistic assessment of our capabilities (and to avoid burn-out), we are reducing our publishing schedule to three times a year. We actually feel really good about this. Green Anarchy has become our lives, and that is great, but we want to be able to spend a little more time engaged in other forms of resistance and with the ones we love. This will allow us a few more weeks each issue for other priorities and our own physical, mental, and spiritual health. It won’t make a significant difference in this project, just an additional month between issues. Content and consistency will remain the same. Our new schedule will be Fall/Winter issue (early November), Spring (early March), and Summer (early July). The theme for our next issue (#19) is “Indigenous Resistance to Civilization” and the deadline for contributions is January 1st, 2005.
In wildness and resistance,
The Green Anarchy Collective
Note to Prisoners: Due to our mailing costs, we are asking that prisoners now re-subscribe (for free) every five issues so we know that you would like to continue receiving our magazine. We will let you know when your subscription has run out with your fifth issue. We are dedicated to providing free subscriptions of Green Anarchy to those who have been kidnapped by the state, and are currently sending over 400 free copies per issue into the prison system. Anyone who is currently receiving GA will receive the next two issues.
The Swelling of Leeches: How our Bones Build the Palaces of the Masters, by The Cocktail Furies
Whether to be a
great cagey perfumed
dying under the
& exist like luxuriant
flowers beneath the
emblems of their
or by mere insouciant
slap them, call their cards
spit on fate & cast hell
to flames in usury
by dying, nobly
we could exist like
propagate our revels
& give the finger to the
gods in our private
— Jim Morrison
Fractal Vision One: Arrival
Rising from our bloody birth fluids, we leave the warm familiarity of the organic Precambrian ooze, and our (still free) consciousness begins its brutal interaction with a hostile all-encompassing social organization – a coldly-oppressive, mechanistic SYSTEM that demands our conformity and our docile assimilation into its robot-like “community.”
This large-scale Institution of regularity and uniformity emits many fragrant odors and force-feeds us the myth of its artificial, manufactured Perfection, but this is nothing more than a bubble of film, conjurer’s trickwork projected over the actual landscape of exhaustion – a graveyard of slave laborers reduced to dehumanized components of the capitalist Imperium, absorbed into the anonymity of social and economic structures. Like prefabricated automatons, they represent and embody a historical process, the abstraction of the individual which lies at the heart of mass production. They are the adults, the domesticated, the BROKEN; the dull who delight in the following of petty rules, the standardized functionaries who (through the scientific conditioning of the Command machine) are under the remote control of the aristocracy; unable to think or act without permission, these vacuous sleepers are “animated” only by the daily struggle for survival, the desperate hope of escape from the place which history has made for them.
This drugged stupor (chemicals not required!) that passes for life and awareness is OUR future too, for there is spell/code, an “abracadabra” implanted in the brain of every child educated/ processed by civilization, the mantra of restriction – a SLAVE IDEOLOGY designed to set limits on autonomous thought and to successfully inoculate against any shift in allegiance. Brought up on a vast array of lunatic imprints, our habit-encrusted former minds are blind servants to the repetition compulsion, carrying out the work of our Masters in servile compliance. We all wear the same mask of submission and the message everywhere is of Power.
Fractal Vision Two: Once Upon a Time
The more we study the hierarchical conspiracy, the more we realize how consistent it is with the pattern of modern history, that is, the Official discourse of human social development. From symbols and rituals, from the religious and cultural myths of Egypt, Persia and Mesopotamia to high-tech subliminals and the propaganda in printed advertising that the eye doesn’t recognize, the pattern was set long ago, and there has been no deviation from it since the dawn of civilization. Although the facts have been doctored to fit the approved concepts of the Dominant Culture, there is little doubt that a New Order of domestication began with the march of agriculture, and the male accumulation of Capital and political power (patriarchy).
An immense institutional and ideological complex – a social pyramid – took hold and spread by contagion. Protection is the first necessity of opulence and luxury and the first Pharaohs had to be protected. The whole social order, favorable to their hygienic idleness and parasitism, required a cycle of conquest, extermination, and a chronic economy of war to quell the constant rebellions against Capital’s enclosure. Civilization was faced with the technical challenge of enforcing stringent parameters policing the levels of discontent within its boundaries. The slaves and prisoners were fed small humiliations, everyday defeats, despair and dullness in negligible doses that settled down in them, layer after layer, like sediment, until their souls were choked with sludge. They soon became blind and cannibalistic.
Fractal Vision Three: Dance of the Dead
The chimera of commodity culture has commodified anxiety (the surplus economy of the chattering classes reclining horizontally under the watchful beady eye of the psychiatric police.) Neurotic society thrives upon the crisis of its own insecurity; self-obsessed, picking at its own leaking sores to perpetuate irritation – the festering signs of its profitable dis-ease. It is the luminous specter of aesthetic pestilence and (s)existential illness, downgrading pleasure towards the sanctioned static of TV catatonia; an apparition of security and comfort delivering only inculcated fear and vexation.
A montage of cattle-like herds, grinding machinery and clocks litter the distressed landscape in which the putrescent waste pipes and factory death-fumes are evidence of the irreversible process of entropy. The prisoner continues to work, expending his/her energy to manufacture their own eradication, when freedom finally arrives in the form of death. The prisoners take on the nature of a commodity because the conditions that create their absolute dependence on the system are reproduced in the mesmerizing effects of THE PRODUCT. THE PRISONERS’ OWN ENERGY ENCASES THEM.
Capitalism has wired work and consumption with a morbid intimacy and the liberation of the prisoners is negotiated according to the axioms of industrial dispute, taking wage control and “benefits” to be the only effective bargaining tokens. “We want the right to work, we want equal pay” represents the demand for universal prostitution pimped out to the exhaustive transactions of “organized labor.” The prisoners continue to offer praise to the servile Machine, patronizing the dedicated slave mimicry of its parental masters; they extol the virtues of “the supreme and original program” – the work ethic – and have sentimental feelings for the test-tube from which they were conceived. THE HYPNOTIC STATE IS THE PSYCHOTIC STATE.
Fractal Vision Four: Many Happy Returns
A madman is laying waste to the planet. This madman’s imposed social order – civilization – is a laboratory producing monstrosities, incessantly mutilating and massacring individuals, eco-systems and life itself through its technology of prostitution and its logic of totalistic submission. Bhopal, Agent Orange, the invasion of Iraq, Mad Cow Disease – these are not “blunders” but rather part of the inescapable tendency of capitalist production and civilization’s cumulative effect on the meta-biological scale.
To “manage” its own contradictions and rebellious “by-products” the System has invested considerable energy into the construction of a vast, colossal ideological dam, against which a reservoir of expanding energy presses, heaving under the strain, creaking and groaning with the expansion of unrealized lives.
The cerebral zenith of this ideological con job is the cold equation of life with work, and the bland assertion that the social dislocation caused by progress and mechanization was “inevitable”. If Capital can extend its accumulative logic back to prehistory, which suggests the will to civilization in the species’ infancy, then the concept of manufacture (the production of objects and objectivity) must be counted as the principle feature grounding social grouping. This massive LIE has been oversubscribed as a generic myth secreted beneath every obliging account of the linear development from cave dweller to cul-de-sac resident. And like any archetypal narrative de(in)scribing the process of accumulation, such anecdotes are mediated by metaphors which honor the necessities of exchange-value, hence there is a price to pay FOR civilization (so the metaphor goes), and that price is the inhibition of primary instincts in return for the sublimated profits of the modern social topography with all its mediated exchanges.
When humans began to organize life into an economic system of commodity exchange, the spirit of life began to leave this place, and we began a long journey through misery. We say this “Trail of Tears” is over. We say it’s time to take off our armor and come out to play. OUR FANGS GLINT, AS WE PROWL WITH OLD EYES THAT MOVE WITH A SPIRIT IN ITS WAKE...
Fractal Vision Five: Fallout
We despairingly toil to subsist in a damned world where business adversaries fight wars over the carrion of States, where corporate dynasties set their nightmares loose to graze on their shattered and dazed prisoners – mere meat stockpiled for the victory feast of the New World Order. Everyone sleeps here in a single grave; a generalized denial, or dislocation of awareness, woven into the fabric of daily life – a condition of pervasive surrender to the strangulation of our planet.
It would appear that this autocratic system of coercion is consolidating its power and strengthening the dominance of its’ capitalist organization, nakedly preparing for a final, bloody saturnalia of mass slaughter. Except for one unavoidable glitch in the Mechanization process: CULTURE PROGRAMMING IS NOT ALWAYS SUCCESSFUL. More and more of us have broken out of the complex maze of scarred neurostructures and caught glimpses of the Totality of the System as distinguished from the fantasies promulgated by the advertising priests or in junior high school government classes. We have become utterly cognizant of the dominant minority’s conspiracy of power, awakened to the inevitable doom of the Empire, and for us there is no possibility of reintegrating into the pathology of the biocidal Control Machine. WE ARE NOT “MINOR ANOMALIES”. THE FISSURES IN THE SURFACE OF OUR MINDS ARE ALSO FISSURES IN THE SURFACE OF SOCIETY. With the dissolution of our mental bonds, we have become economically useless, unfit for service, and unwilling to be sacrificed. Our existence spoils the symmetry of Leviathan’s “perfect” mechanical order and as anti-hypnotic agents, we’re encouraged by the growing prospects for authentic (non-choreographed) rebellion. For while Capital may indeed have our bodies in its jaws, we also live in a period of warp-speed cultural disintegration and unprecedented opportunities for anarchic deconstruction abound...
The system is realizing a thermodynamic boiling point; the core is heating up, achieving the stage of no return: civilization is attaining critical mass, speeding up, increasing velocity until a hyper-instantaneous terminal impact shatters the glass console into 10,000 pieces of wreckage. In the rearview mirror Sade’s perpetual motion machine spins dangerously from its centrifuge, propelling pieces of debris – dismembered limbs and engine components flying in all directions. Each glance into the mirror yields a myriad of disasters captured in edited sequence by the egomaniacal Spectacle. The talismans of the Empire are being trampled upon by ripping tornadoes of change, and the Pentagon of Power is revealed to be a dilapidated palace of cracked, degenerate plastic.
Amidst all this carnage, the Left (an equally condemned excrescence of capitalism) acts out its own perennial self-doubt; a dramatic travesty of political decline producing sham performances of expected civil “disobedience”. The Left’s “demonstrative” routines (and thorough befuddlement) become symbolically performative once redemptive LESSONS can be squeezed from its corrupt LESIONS. Passing beyond the perplexity of the Left, we see in the flames of civilization immeasurable possibilities for a boundless, unconfined existence.
As anarchists (individuals opposed to ALL systems) we have no desire to ameliorate the downfall of this fading power structure or to “save” the human race from itself. We’re not interested in “curing” or “restructuring” the system and we’re even more repulsed by the Leftist version of “revolution”. Our dreams and our praxis are explicitly anti-authoritarian, but as an autonomous anarchist cell, our primary motivation’s different from many of our starry-eyed, idealist associates. While we derive joy and a sense of personal liberation from the act of defiance itself, we consider the concept of a “mass social movement” to be an ungrounded, delusional abstraction, and are not stimulated to revolt by self-deceptive optimism. As individuals, we’re in this struggle for a more primal reason and it’s cold and it’s old and it’s easy to understand: revenge.
Revenge for 10,000 years of abuse, of class predation, of sensual repression, of global usurpation, of being obliged to bow our knees to Caesar’s iron-rod rule. Capital’s currency is nothing more than the sum total of our damaged hearts and minds, the symbolic representation of our ancestors’ blood, of all the species and cultures scoured to extinction, of all the Earth’s wounds. Ours will be a high-tempo fluid war that has no defined fronts or formations, designed to suck our enemy into traps of His own creation, taking advantage of the System’s stupidities and weaknesses and avoiding its strengths.
We’re sharpening our arrowheads, invisible hunters with nothing left to lose. Cum! Cum! Let’s be going!
Thirteen Notes on Class Struggle for Discussion, by Sasha K.
Classes have existed since the beginning of civilization. Civilization has always been a class society.
Class is not just an economic category, it is social. Class relations structure and discipline the whole of society, not just the economy.
Class social relations have always been linked to a series of other oppressions such as patriarchal social relations and different forms of racism.
Classes are one of the primary structures organizing all societies since the beginning of civilization, although the form of class has changed through the development of civilization. This development of class society and social relations has always been intimately linked to the development of technology (thus I call society a “socio-technological regime”). As class society develops so too does social specialization and its technologies. A deep critique of society should always include a critique of class social relations and their links to the dominant material culture of that society, including the technologies that it both makes possible and that make it possible.
Class struggle has existed since classes have existed.
Class struggle exists even when people don’t recognize that they are taking part in it. It exists throughout daily life. One of the ways revolutionaries can intervene in class struggle, therefore, is to help people recognize that that is what they are doing. There are many ways to do this and we need to be creative.
When revolutionary, the dispossessed class struggles to end the existence of all classes, although often leftist managers of revolt attempt to channel class struggle recuperate it to capitalist ends in order to put themselves into power over others and into a position to benefit materially. For true revolutionaries those who really attempt to end the rule over life by the state, capitalism and all commodity relations, the discipline of work, patriarchy and the socio-technological regime the auto-destruction of the proletariat/dispossessed as a class is the goal, not for one class (the dispossessed/proletariat) to take over the position of another class (the capitalist or ruling class).
The point of class struggle is not to claim workers are better people than capitalists, to morally judge each class, or to celebrate one class over another, but to destroy the social institution of classes as a whole. Class struggle originates in the contradiction between our desires and the way class structures limit, control, exclude and exploit our life. Our struggle begins with our desires to live in a different way, to break out of class society’s disciplining control. Yet the recuperation of class struggle will continue in various guises as long as class relations exist, but this should not make us give up on class struggle, it should make us more careful in our analysis and more creative in the fight for our lives.
Class struggle is always global as is capitalism, but it is often recuperated by nationalist forms. We need to find where the revolutionary content of class struggle pushes to break from the nationalist form and put our force behind such a move. Thus it is not simply a matter of ignoring national liberation movements nor certainly of celebrating them but of critical and revolutionary solidarity with the force of class struggle that pushes for the complete destruction of class relations.
The root of class struggle is not to be found in economics. Production is not just economic either: it doesn’t only take place in factories, but spreads over society as a process of social production and reproduction that includes the control and discipline of workers as well as all other members of society. It is this whole social factorywhich produces social roles, relations and subjectivities, disciplines our bodies and our minds, and transforms and controls life itself that we aim to destroy.
The would-be leftist managers of class struggle usually try to transform class struggle into an economic struggle, a struggle for greater economic power, for a bigger piece of the pie, for a slight reorganization of the economy. This is the basis for the creation of the leftist bureaucracies, parties and unionsthis is their lifeblood. Yet since classes aren’t economic as much as social in character, for class struggle to be truly radical, for it to move towards the ending of classes as such, it must break away from economic goals and from the leftist managers that push them.
The synthesis of all struggle under one organization makes struggle particularly susceptible to control by leftist managers. Thus for class struggle to maintain its radical force it must remain autonomous, self-managed and self-organized, it must become uncontrolled and uncontrollable, and it must spread and deepen socially. The goal of the dispossessed’s revolution is never economicit is anti-economic, it pushes to break out of and destroy economy, all commodity exchange, and the mediation of relationships by all forms of money, ideology and morality.
Work is a disciplined behavior within economy. As an activity, it is separated from other aspects of life and into the sphere of economy. As class society has developed and transformed, work has been further and further alienated from our life and our desires. It becomes an activity that disciplines and oppresses us, an activity that we can’t control, that instead controls us. The revolutionary class struggle of the dispossessed fights to break all the separations imposed upon us by class society: the separation between ourselves and our activity, between work and play, and between ourselves and those with whom we interact.
Within the transforming capitalist system, different regimes of accumulation have organized how the capitalist class accumulates capital through the exploitation of the labor and energy of the exploited, excluded and dispossessed. Regimes of accumulation are different forms of capitalist labor discipline and organization. In the US and much of Europe, most of the 20th century operated under the Fordist regime of accumulation (this is named after Ford’s model of production and its ideology was Keynesianism). Beginning in the 1970s, that regime was replaced by the regime of flexible accumulation (temping, no unions, flexible hours, no guaranteed employment or retirement, outsourcing, the end of welfare, no controls on the movement of capital across borders, the increase in importance of global trade and of technologies of communication, surveillance and control, etc.; its reigning ideology is neo-liberalism and it is often referred to as “globalization”).
Many other countries are being pushed to take on the cast off Fordist jobs without the Fordist guarantees for workers (this is true of much of the third-world, for example). But the death of Fordism in some countries does not mean the death of class struggle, only its continued global transformation. This means we need to analyze such transformations and our responses, not that we simply give up on class struggle as some within the anti-civilization milieu seem to be suggesting. The regime of flexible accumulation has been accompanied by an increased financialization and privatization of all forms of social life and the increased commodification of life itself as well as a new looting of the third-world. This has shaped the character of present day class struggle. This transformation of capitalism and class relations should point out new targets for intervention (social, material, technological, etc.) and new contradictions of class society to exploit.
As anarchists or revolutionaries, it is not up to us to invent, produce or manage class struggle. Class struggle will continue to occur whether we acknowledge it or not. We can intervene in class struggle, but we don’t make it up in entirety. The question, therefore, is not whether we should recognize class struggle or not, but always, how do we intervene in class struggle which will continue whether we intervene or not.
Since civilization through all its transformations has always been a class society, the destruction of classes as such through the revolutionary class struggle of the dispossessed will always be a central goal of anti-civilization anarchism. This is one aspect that separates revolutionary activity from the bland leftist managers of revolt who often hang around revolutionary movements hoping to discipline and channel the force of class struggle to their own ends, saving capitalism and all its separations and alienations in the process.
Editors’ Comment: Capital co-opts and so does the Left. Which is not to say that sasha k is even so very leftist. And yet his “Thirteen Notes” express a curious, if predictable, attempt to incorporate what is emerging as a general anti-civ outlook.
Sasha’s approach says, in effect, that one can be opposed to civilization without departing from, say, classical anarchism. Basically, he declares that “true revolutionaries” are against the state and capitalism and therefore are anti-civ. But defining civilization in this limited way could also mean that syndicalists, anti-state communists, etc. are likewise against civilization. And they are not.
“Thirteen Notes”, while sufficiently and clearly expressing some important dynamics of class society, avoids mention of some basic institutions (viz. specialization, and domestication/subjugation of nature) which inaugurate class society and drive it forward on its lethal course. To define civilization so as to omit what seem to be its core features and logic doesn’t quite get to the heart of it. But now that green anarchy/anarcho-primitivism is an ascendant vision within anarchist circles, it isn’t difficult to imagine some folks wanting to appear anti-civ without having to move from older, less adequate conceptions. Our maybe we’re being too picky. What do you think?
Recommended Readings on Class Struggle
The Many-Headed Hydra by Peter Linebaugh and Marcus Rediker
Subtitled “Sailors, Slaves, Commoners and the Hidden History of the Revolutionary Atlantic,” this 433 page, finely-argued book elevates the “social scum” or “dangerous classes” (to quote Marx) of the post-revolutionary Atlantic basin into a pre-industrial, interracial, cross-gendered working class fighting against an emerging merchant capitalism. The “hidden history” that Linebaugh and Rediker discuss links the radical sects of England’s 17th century civil war to the later resistance of the 19th century labor and anti-slavery movements. This book is a major work that takes in a host of strikes, mutinies, and rebellions in which disparate forces cooperated for their own ends and on their own terms, rather than laboring, divided, for the cause of European colonialism. A must read!
The Mirror of Production by Jean Baudrillard
This is a radical critique of the idea of “production” – published in 1973 – that debunks standard Marxist concepts that presuppose and reinforce the capitalist view of human beings as production machines. A TRULY radical perspective on Capital MUST abandon this ideological construction of production. To quote from the book: “In order to find a realm beyond economic value (which is in fact the only revolutionary perspective), then the Mirror of Production in which all Western metaphysics is reflected, must be broken.”
Workers Against Work: Labor in Paris and Barcelona During the Popular Fronts by Michael Seidman
There are lots of books available on this period of time, but what distinguishes Workers Against Work is its focus on the seething, irrepressible rage of the workers, rather than the actions of the unions, political parties and military forces that usually make up history. What this study reveals is that workers consistently tried to avoid work as best they could, but faced Stalinist work-enforcers in Paris and Syndicalist ones in Barcelona, facts usually hidden or ignored by the Left. By revealing this hidden history of working class people refusing to identify themselves as “workers”, Seidman contributes to our understanding of what revolutionary change actually means.
The Making of the English Working Class by E.P. Thompson
A series of brilliant essays by the influential and visionary historian, acclaimed by working class dissidents worldwide as a “historian from below”. A particularly important section of this hefty and indispensable tome is taken up with Thompson’s reassessment of the Luddite movement, in which he counters the view that the Luddites were thuggish and argues that their highly effective actions against the forces of the state were only possible because they had the consent of the local communities. This is the story of a whole way of life for the lower swath of society being slowly and calculatedly ripped limb from limb, then stitched back together by a ruthless ruling class who found it profitable for themselves to do so. However, the process was not acted on passive or slavish beings; hearteningly, the people upon whom some of the cruelest (sustained and systemic) acts in history were perpetrated fought back, and did a great deal to frustrate the aims of Authority. Essential reading for anyone wishing to understand the development of industrialism.
This World We Must Leave and Other Essays by Jacques Camatte
Outstanding collection of translated essays by the seminal French ultra-left theorist covering a wide range of subjects including organization, domestication and the despotism of Capital. Camatte’s writing provides a strong link between class struggle and the anti-civilization critique. One of the only “communists” we respect!
The Right To Be Lazy by Paul Lafargue
Paul Lafargue, Karl Marx’s flamboyant Cuban-born son-in-law, wrote this devastating essay for a workers’ paper in 1880. Largely disowned by the straightlaced “official Left” of later years, The Right To Be Lazy has survived as an underground classic and is today kept in print by our dedicated comrades at the Charles H. Kerr Publishing Company. At once a masterpiece of critical theory and of rip-roaring, radical humor, Lafargue’s militant defense of the proletariat’s right to laziness is directed not only against the so-called “right to work” but against the entire slaveholder’s ideology known as the “work ethic.” Contains an excellent introduction by Joseph Jablonski called “The War on Leisure.” Toss out Marx and read his slothful, incorrigible son-in-law!
Dynamite: A Century of Class Struggle in America by Louis Adamic
A useful history that reveals how violent class struggle has been in U.S. history.
Midnight Oil: Work, Energy, War, 1973-1992 by the Midnight Notes Collective
A political journey through two decades of social struggles, ranging from the Middle East and Africa to Appalachia, tracing the unifying themes of work, energy, oil, and war. It suggests new boundaries, hidden political commonalities, and possible strategies for confronting the “New World Order.”
The Reproduction of Daily Life by Fredy Perlman
“Every time people perform an activity they have not themselves defined and do not control, every time they pay for goods they produce with money they received in exchange for their alienated activity, every time they passively admire the products of their own activity as alien objects procured by their money, they give new life to Capital and annihilate their own lives.” – from the text
Against His-Story, Against Leviathan! by Fredy Perlman
This is Fredy Perlman’s monumentally imaginative recounting of the origins, dynamics, and development of civilizations, conceived as the systematic self-enslavement and self-alienation of human communities. One of the most revolutionary books of the 20th century.
LIP and the Self-Managed Counter-Revolution by Negation
In 1973, LIP, a watchmaking company in France that went bankrupt, was “taken over” by the workers and quickly degenerated into an experiment in self-exploitation, remaining trapped in the present world’s “productionism” precisely because they couldn’t make a qualitative break with capitalism. A great case study on the folly of “self-managed” slavery.
Dreams and Dynamite! Selected Poems by Covington Hall
A true cousin in spirit to IWW/Surrealist bard T. Bone Slim, Covington Hall was a (believe it or not!) anti-civilization Wobbly, revolutionary poet and free spirit who fought for the overthrow of capitalism and dreamed of the “republic of the imagination.”
Also check out:
Closing the Iron Cage: The Scientific Management of Work and Leisure by Ed Andrew Homo
Ludens: A Study of the Play Element of Culture by Johann Huizinga
Why Work? Arguments for the Leisure Society edited by Vernon Richards
Rebels Against the Future by Kirkpatrick Sale (The definitive text on the Luddite rebellion.)
Progress Without People: In Defense of Luddism by David Noble
Stone Age Economics by Marshall Sahlins
Our Own Time: A History of American Labor and the Working Day by David Roediger and Phillip S. Foner
Gone to Croatan: Origins of North American Dropout Culture by Ron Sakolsky and James Koehnline
Black Rebellion in Barbados: The Struggle Against Slavery by Hilary Beckles
Testing the Chains: Resistance to Slavery in the British West Indies by Michael Craton
Hidden Americans: Maroons of Virginia and the Carolinas by Hugo Leaming-Bey
American Negro Slave Revolts – 1526-1860 by H. Aptheker Jailbreak
Out of History: The Re-Biography of Harriet Tubman by Butch Lee
Unions Against Revolution by G. Munis and John Zerzan
The Origins of Capitalism by Ellen Meiksins Wood
Against the Megamachine: Essays on Empire and Its Enemies by David Watson
Class Struggle: The Reformation of Kings, by Theresa Kintz
The relationship between capital and labor, between boss and worker, is and always will be that of master and slave. Just as slavery had to be rejected because it could not be reformed, the goal of anarchist praxis, as our friend Bob Black has asserted, should be the abolition of work and not its reformation.
At the core of anti-civilization thought are critiques of the social inequality and ecological destruction we see manifest in modern industrial society. It is disingenuous for the anti-civilization movement to support a class struggle ideological agenda if all it contends is that workers should get a bigger slice of the pie; In the final analysis, perpetuating the functioning of the techno-industrial system we seek to dismantle. That said, those who have (misguidedly) located the source of their very real misery in the unequal relationship between capital and labor specifically and who call their fight ‘class struggle’ could learn from a few points made in the anti-civilization critique. Here are my ideas regarding how the poor might fight against the rich.
ON THE PREHISTORY AND HISTORY OF ‘WORK’ – AnarchoPrimitivist (AP) thought is concerned with investigating the origins and describing the consequences of changes in material culture, subsistence strategies, technology, and social organization. To understand the evolution of what we call ‘work’ is to demystify its social history, clarify its current function, and offer a foundation for a cogent critique as we come to recognize its pathology.
Marx had it partially right: his historical materialism looked at the exploitation of labor in a historical context, tracing the roots of the social arrangements of his day. His analysis didn’t go deep enough. Marx noted the alienation experienced by the worker in the early Machine Age and correctly predicted such alienation would lead workers into an intellectually and emotionally barren existence where making money became the only imperative in life. His solution, a communist state where everyone would feel a sense of personal investment in their daily work as a result of receiving a fair share of the fruits of their labor, was a dismal failure, as history has shown.
To understand and ultimately end the struggle between the rich and the poor that began with the first accumulation of surplus in prehistory, we need to understand the trajectory of the very concept of ‘work’. The antiquity of class struggle is revealed by locating its origins in the first specialization and in the division of labor that consequently gave rise to social stratification.
The anti-civilization critique lucidly demonstrates that class struggle is an inevitable feature of all societies that accumulate surplus and maintain the complex social and technological arrangements required by the practice of domestication. The reality is that class struggle will continue until we reject civilization in total.
ON SOCIAL DYNAMICS – All of us recognize race, gender, and socio-economic status (class) as major factors determining one’s relative position in society today. For those engaged in specific critiques of racism, patriarchy, and social inequality the anti-civilization perspective offers valuable insights into how these social dynamics have evolved through time and how they function in contemporary society.
Social mobility is a concept used by sociologists to analyze social systems. Our affluent society is perceived as having a relatively high level of social mobility and this is an important construct for those who see the fight in terms of class struggle. The underlying idea is that everyone can be rich if they just organize, agitate, and demand what is rightfully theirs. This is a problem for several reasons. For one, how much is enough? Is one ever being paid ‘enough’? Where is the standard derived? Humans seem afflicted by a pathological desire to have more – more property, more power, and more prestige. This type of attitude has no place in an egalitarian – in an anarchist – society.
Inequality between races, men and women, and classes based on these characteristics or roles is obviously a problem, but the solution does not lie in having a woman president, more African American fighter pilots, and wellpaid loggers and prison guards. Being a better competitor in the race towards the end offers no real prize. The class struggle perspective lacks imagination. We need to envision a world that is totally different. We don’t want or need to join the rat race with the rest of the rats, propping up an industrial society that will ultimately lead to disaster for the human race and every other living thing on the planet. Even if all the pirates mutiny and take over the ship, it is still a ship that goes around looting and pillaging the earth for personal profit. Which brings me to my next point.
Class Struggle Only Helps the Bipedal Classes
Any political agenda that does not include an analysis and critique of the ecological consequences inherent in the ways that we make our livings in modern industrial society fails to address the most serious problem we face. Class struggle arguments calling for radical social transformation with regards to rectifying the very real and detrimental patterns of social inequality fail to locate the true source of the problem – civilization – and fail to identify all of its victims, which include non-human species. Again, what is needed is rejection, not reformation.
All previous anarchist societies lived in harmony with their natural environments. The anti-civilization perspective has much to offer the class struggle analysis by demonstrating that what we call work in the technological society, that is, people spending their lives making things to sell to other people so that they can get money to buy things that other people spend their lives making, is a really bad way to organize your society; bad for humans and bad for every other living thing on the planet. This is an undeniable reality and an unsustainable adaptation to living in the world. As long as we are committed to preserving the current set of social and technological arrangements that allow us to ‘make a living’ in industrial society we will remain trapped in a destructive spiral leading to ecological collapse and social chaos.
Just as the deep ecologists and Earth First! movement received just criticism for not taking into consideration the needs of their fellow humans in their analysis, the class struggle agenda deserves criticism for ignoring the needs of fellow non-humans and the natural world. At the intersection of these two movements is the anti-civilization perspective. This is one of the main reasons why it is so relevant today.
Green Anarchy’s theme for this issue is: what relevance does the anti-civilization critique have to class struggle in the here and now? It is in the here and now that the working classes are recognizing their oppression and resisting, which is a good thing. However, the anticivilization critique offers proof that the solutions for sale in the class struggle analysis are not real solutions.
The idea that the working classes are dupes, not willingly involved in an active partnership with the elite in promoting and maintaining industrial society is, while perhaps politically expedient, also condescending and patronizing. It reminds me of the people these days who say “Ooh, I am against the war, but I support the troops.” What?
Anarchist societies are based on everyone’s acceptance of personal responsibility and acting in the best interest of the group as well as oneself. The class struggle perspective suggests that absolving an entire class of people (the relatively poor) of responsibility for the ills of industrial society in order to encourage the development of a mass ideology (class consciousness) may have some revolutionary potential. This just does not seem like the way forward to me. Workers gaining control of the means of production does not solve the problem since production is the problem, socially and ecologically speaking.
We don’t want to make the prison that is civilization equally lucrative for all (an impossible task anyway) - we want to destroy it!
The solution lies in re-learning how to live simply, walking gently on the earth, destroying the belief that civilization is inevitable or desirable and creating a society where all living things can flourish. The resolution depends on the rejection, not the reformation, of civilization and the belief in the possibility, desirability, and ultimate realization of a future primitive.
A Surrounding For Us to Live Within — Notes on Industrial Society and its Ecology, by A friend of Ludd
The forest and the village
“A surrounding for us to live within”, this is how a little boy defined the environment in a theme proposed to various classes in Rovereto, Italy and the vicinity. It is one of the most beautiful definitions I know. In fact, it is necessary to start precisely from this: looking around. It is glaringly obvious that what surrounds us is not made for “us to live within”. One can survive here–that is all–and increasingly at the expense of millions of people.
In the notes that follow, we will try to bring to light some relationships between the progressive loss of individual and social autonomy, environmental devastation and the sharpening of repression. Not in order to update the endless catalogue of horrors and complaints, but rather in order to reflect on some possibilities. Just this once, we will start from a “for” and not an “against”.
What is a “surrounding for us to live within”? I would say a place in which the pleasure of solitude and the pleasure of meeting are artfully intertwined, whereas we know from experience that industrial society destroys both. With a telling expression, Gunther Anders described contemporary city-dwellers as “mass hermits”, more and more atomized in their relationships and more and more massified in their activities, pleasures and movements. Complete solitude is just as difficult as a truly mutual and unmediated encounter. If we consider wild nature as the place of solitude and the inhabited village as the place of encounter, a “surrounding for us to live within” is an uninterrupted interchange between the forest and the village, continuous movement without violence between the one and the other. It is the possibility of departing from one’s fellow human beings in order to later return to them; more, it is the constant awareness of such a possibility. Leaving in search of new thoughts, new bewilderments, and even new fears. The forest that becomes the countryside, the countryside that becomes the garden, the garden that becomes the village square, the path, the house. But a “surrounding for us to live within” is above all a humanity that knows how to travel through and inhabit these spaces, that knows how to master its uses, habits and techniques.
Our autonomy is an unceasing relationship between what is pre-individual and what is individual. The pre-individual is everything that is common and generic, like the biological faculties of the human being, language and the social relationships we find when we are born. The individual is what we snatch away through our activity. We become individuals through our way of entering into relationships with nature and with history. In this sense, solitude and encounter, forest and village are a threshold between the past and the present. Just as the individual ethic is born and stands out in a collective dimension (the concept of ethos refers, not randomly, to the place where one lives, the usage’s and customs), living spaces are the encounter between generations and their art of inhabiting. Industrial society, however, makes it increasingly impossible for different usages and customs to live together, just as it abolishes all harmonious interchange between the various techniques worked out in the course of history, in this way destroying the basic creativity of communities.
In short, a “surrounding for us to live within” is a place in which the “art of uttering great speeches and carrying out great deeds” (to take back the splendid definition of politics that is found in Homer) responds to two basic necessities:
– That activity is not separated through its representation;
– That techniques employed are not irreversible.
One of the essential characteristics of presentday society is that within it we are witnesses to a growing gap between the activity that we carry out and our capacity to depict its consequences. Due to the extreme division and specialization of labor, due to a gigantic technological apparatus that makes us more ignorant every day about the tools that we use (incapable as we are, individually, of understanding their nature, of mastering their production, of repairing their breakdowns), we aren’t aware of the significance of our activities. This is why the product of our activities can be calmly falsified and artificially reconstructed for us. To give an example, someone noted that it is easier, in terms of the real repercussion of the action on the awareness, to bomb an entire population than to kill an individual person. A bombed population is only whatever flash of light appears on a screen, whereas a murdered person is a reality whose complete weight the consciousness bears. This is why the current society is able to make us tolerate a daily scientifically organized butchering because it renders the relationship between actions and their consequences increasingly obscure. From financial speculation to military production, from necrotechnology to the nuclear industry, everyone can find examples for themselves.
A “surrounding for us to live within” is a place in which activity is not separated through its representation (meant in the political sense, as delegation, in the media/spectacular sense, as a system of images to be passively contemplated, and in the mental sense, as the dimming of awareness) . Another decisive characteristic of the current society is that it has taken techniques (for producing, building, exchanging) away from any local and communitarian dimension, distancing them in a megamachine – the consequences of which are increasingly irreversible. From nuclear waste to genetic mutation, techno-science has lost any experimental, and thus reversible, character because its experiments now have the world as laboratory – and there isn’t any spare world. A “surrounding for us to live within” is a place in which the question of technical efficacy is always subordinated to ethical and social considerations, in which it is possible to turn around if a path leads to the impoverishment of human relationships, hierarchical specialization and power. Only a totalitarian ideology legitimates everything that is technically realizable as scientific, thus imprisoning human becoming in a mechanical succession without end. Any progress deserving of the name—in customs, in mentality, in social relationships– is sought against this forced march.
A Spare Tire
State ecology—of which the COP9 summit represents a fine concentrate—is only the spare tire of industrial society. In fact, it is increasingly the police management of “environmental resources”. Without ever questioning the generalized dependence on the most polluting materials and technologies, it seeks to “moralize” atomized city-dwellers by subjecting them to further controls and vexations. Since this society no longer knows where to put its trash (in both the narrow and the broad sense), let’s go rummage in every family’s garbage and punish the wasteful.
A shining example of this ecologist ideology is the proposal made by Legambiental  with regard to new energy sources for stopping greenhouse gasses. For the entire duration of the summit, by sending two electronic text messages per Euro through the cellphone, one contributed not only to the spread of cancer, but also–courtesy of the mobile phone companies–to the acquisition of an Aeolian power plant in Swaziland. When these court environmentalists at times launch catastrophic alarms (about ozone, the icecaps, the scarcity of water), it is only in order to push the civilized still closer to the institutions and their supposed experts. To put it briefly, this ecology is the state solution to state problems, the capitalist solution to capitalist problems.
Up to now the most beautiful– and involuntary–response to the summits of the earth destroyers was given by the Milanese streetcar drivers, announcing the heated return of the wildcat strike, whose absence had been noticed for so long. Beyond their wage demands, maintained outside of any union scenario, these “irresponsibles”, these “criminals”, these “urban terrorists” (as the media and political choir described them) have posed an important problem of social ecology: that of movement in the big cities. A simple blockade of the transit network paralyzed an entire city. Rather than questioning themselves about how much they really control their lives and movements, city dwellers cried about the scandal, assembled on the sidewalks, throwing the very fact of existing in each other’s face. The ecologists were not missing, scolding the strikers for causing pollution to increase dues to additional car traffic (as if delays or absences at the workplace would not have, in reality, cleared the air a bit).
A sensibility and its world
In the last few years, there have been some struggles that were able to intertwine that necessity of conflict and direct action with the reality and the dream of a “surrounding for us to live within”. I think of the many initiatives and actions in solidarity with Marco Camenisch. It seems to me that most of the time these have been able to go beyond the limits usually present in mobilizations in support of any particular prisoner, communicating a sensibility and its world. I’ll explain. In the face of repression there is often the tendency to almost suspend one’s struggles in order to talk about prison and the comrades inside, involuntarily reducing the condition to a conflict between us and those in power. In the case of solidarity with Marco, however, starting from his struggle, the battle for his liberation has defined itself as a continuation and reinforcement of the reasons that led to his arrest: the practical critique of environmental and social harmfulness. We know from experience that this resistance to the tyranny of progress has been able to speak not only to comrades, but also to others, and that some mountain-dwellers and shepherds have considered Marco to be one of them. I noticed the same thing with the campaign against Benneton. Initiatives against multinationals often lead to neglect of the normal despotism of industrial production in order to concentrate on the excesses of a specific globalized economy: I don’t think there’s any need to give examples. Linking the environmental devastation caused by Benneton to the life and resistance of the Mapuche has been able to bring the problem close, instead of distancing it in an exoticism of sympathetic hues. These are small signs. Still it shows that an opposition to harmfulness based on direct action could generalize as happened recently in Basilicata, Italy. . I am not saying that we need to talk more about the environment and less about prison. On the contrary. I am saying that it is possible to pose the problem of prison–in discussions and in practice–in a social sense, not starting from “our misfortunes”. The best way of expressing solidarity with imprisoned comrades is to radicalize our struggles in their totality.
There is no doubt that a strong repressive wind is rising. I think that the decisive stake in play is that of being able to interpret this repression. Current living and working conditions can be imposed through an increasingly massive use of terror (terror of remaining unemployed and of not being able to pay quickly rising rents, terror of the police and of prison). Repression acts against atomized individuals whoseincreasing dependence on a bankrupt way of life is rendering them incapable of any material or ideal solidarity. It is a mistake to separate the repressive attacks from this progressive disintegration of the world—in the sense of a direct experience of reality and of one’s fellow human beings, outside of the media and mercantile bell-jar, outside of the tomb-like apartments of the concentration imposed by urban planning. Knowing how to interpret repression also means not falling into the illusion that those in power strike us because we are a real threat (with all the locking up of identity that such an illusion entails). If we are a detonator, as someone has said, the aim of those in power is to separate us from any explosive material, i.e., from any social context of struggle. In word and action, we should do the exact opposite.
In anti-industrial circles, reference is often rightly made to the Luddite insurrection against machinery (1811-1813). If the English government had to use more soldiers against the destroyers of machines than against Napoleon’s troops, it is because they were facing an authentic social uprising, anonymous and leaderless. An uprising in which the weapon of sabotage—always the pre-eminent tool of proletarian struggle—carried within itself a “surrounding for us to live within”. It was the work of a true and proper social intelligence, as is shown by the fact that during the attacks against industrial machinery, the machines that could be used, interchanged and repaired on a local and communitarian basis, that is, outside of the factory system, were spared. Despite the accusations of all the progressive and Marxist historians, there was nothing “blind” in this revolt. A subsistence economy that made extensive use of collective lands came into conflict with the system of property; an autonomy in the art of building homes and producing where the village met the countryside came into conflict with the dislocation into cities. Industrialism has had to train sensibilities– through beatings–in order to make them fit into its world, its techniques, and its values.
Repression is the bulldozer of a capitalism that is destroying the world, of a civilization that isolates men and women in order to later socialize them into its virtual community.
Utopia in the mud
It seems to me that the current situation is full of possibilities. If we were not so often incapable of practicing poetry, i.e., “the art of making illegal marriages and divorces between things”, as Bacon said, we would grasp many connections between situations that seem to be distant from each other. An example might be the one made earlier, of the wildcat strike of transit workers on the opening day of the environmental conference. There are many others. In this regard, I would like it if comrades were to deepen a discussion: the guerrilla war in Iraq and the questions that opens up.
What is going on there confirms a reality often expressed by revolutionaries: what no army could do (opposing and making things difficult for the greatest military force in the world), a social guerrilla war is able to do. Once again this suggests the necessity–in much smaller situations as well–of considering the concept of force differently. But I am not so interested in speaking about this, because we still have very little information about the role that the clans linked to the old regime play in the resistance (although the extreme diversity of techniques of attack against the occupation troops suggests that there is a social conflict in action that cannot be reduced to a war between powers). In the same way, I take for granted here the important occasion we have, especially after Nassiriya , of speaking about who the real terrorists are (the state and its lackeys), considering the propagandistic use that is made of the “terrorist alarm”, with its immediate repressive fallout. The governors know how to link the external Enemy (whoever impedes military aggression) to the internal Enemy (whoever remains outside of the choir of consent) much too well. We will have to draw some lessons from this in a hurry.
The Iraq situation, nonetheless, offers food for thought with regard to the relationships already sketched out between industrial society, ecological emergency and repression. I will emphasize a few of these.
There is the question of oil. Numerous studies commissioned by the oil companies are in agreement in pointing to the exhaustion of crude oil resources within the next ten years (not the absolute exhaustion, but rather the exhaustion of that portion of the oil that can be extracted using less energy than what could be gotten from the extracted oil). The curve indicated for natural gas is not many years longer. The same studies inform us that all the alternative energies (nuclear included) would not be able to satisfy even half of the current requirements. Without going into detail here, a question is posed. Even without considering that capital has not provided for alternative projects, kept opportunely hidden for the moment, there is no doubt that the problem exists, and that it brings to light some of the historical, if not downright ecological-planetary, limits of present social organization. To give an example, let’s consider that modern-day agriculture depends 95% on oil (herbicides, pesticides, tractors, industries for manufacturing pieces of machinery and other tools, means for assembling and transporting them, power stations to allow all this and so on). This oil society has generalized dependence on a single resource to such an extent (even the extraction and distribution of water are subordinated to it, and not just for the famous tubular wells activated by diesel), that the scarcity of such a resource takes shape as a catastrophe. Alternative solutions or not, the leap will not be painless, and the rulers know it.
Here is the second point I want to emphasize: anyone who sees the war in Iraq only as a military occupation for taking control of the energy resources is mistaken (though this is certainly also there, as the fundamental role of the oil companies in supporting the Bush administration shows).
What is going on is a huge political and social experiment: testing the capacity of/for resistance of entire populations placed in limited situations, situations that will be more and more frequent in the future. Iraq is a laboratory of economic investments, of military strategies, but above all, of social engineering. The ruling order–dealing with necrotechnology or oil–is increasingly carrying out a kind of experimentum mundi: experimentation on the world as such. The civilized must be adapted to all this with increasingly massive doses of control, vexation, terror. In the United States, there are now more prisoners than farmers. In the face of this reality, the Kyoto accords are a macabre hoax or rather, an ultimatum that sounds like this: you will have no other world except me. And here, the curtain falls on all ecology that doesn’t want to subvert this society and its institutions. All the alternative energy and all the most diligent organic cultivation in the world run up against this fact: when agriculture itself, now entirely mechanized, cannot do without a system of death, there is nothing to reform. This is what the war and the guerrilla resistance in Iraq is telling us.
No more illusions. The “surrounding for us to live within” that we have in our hearts will be born from the mud, but even in the mud, it is always necessary to affirm the way of life for which we are fighting.
The Birth and Death of the Worker, by zach fredell
You’re standing in the green expansive lengths of the fertile crescent. Wind whips through the fields of golden grain as your fellow workers reap the summer’s harvest, and sow that which will become the fall’s. Dressed in ragged clothing, slightly malnourished, you assess your lot in life. It could be worse. And things will undoubtedly get better, with the new innovations in plows. Each man’s plot will be increased 3 fold. 3 times as much area to plow. The bosses say this means that when they take their share, we will have three times what we did before. At the beginning of agricultural civilization the plight of the common person began to change swiftly, from a partial agriculture that involved compost heap gardening and other non-intensive methods to deeply plowing the soil, diverting the rivers, and massively changing the genetic composition of formerly wild species In becoming master over other animals, humans had begun their long march towards the total subjugation of their environment. With the rise of a sedentary lifestyle and its manifestation of cities came higher levels of organization; a specialized work force. Through specialization those who were able to organize others under themselves by monopolizing the technology of war, or the art of trickery, found it easy to accumulate wealth. Herein lies the most important concepts, the methods by which the bosses made themselves. At this point specialization had begun to take root, deeper and deeper with every passing year, and the rise of more powerful bosses. So came about the stratification of human beings into social classes. This is the point where we can show marked differences in the activities and plight of peoples within a society, and mark the birth of the “worker”. Under the above given definition of civilization’s beginnings we can say that the “worker” is someone who is given tasks by another. He/she is not the boss. In this way, the will of humanity is squashed through the removal of our free will. You can’t walk down to the pond and take a swim when the thought pops into your head, because you have another acre to plow today. If this task is not accomplished, then the boss’s wrath will be met. If the workers do not perform their task they face a penalty: monetary, physical, psychological or otherwise. Most individuals in civilized societies can be broken by an extreme display of violence, at which point they “learn their lesson.” The bosses also succeeded in tricking people into believing that for every year they plowed more field, worked harder to accumulate goods, and did their part, they would be one more step towards heaven. This is the mirage of civilization itself, that there is a point at which through our struggles we will reach happiness in material goods and/or achieve salvation. Of course it is just that, a mirage on the wasteland earth left in the wake of such a path. The anti-civilization critique then not only lends itself as an aid to class struggle, but gives it another dimension. This is what has been missing for so many years from most thinking on class war; a definition of what the end result of this struggle might be. The “workers” of the world have been shammed by numerous ideologies promising them paradise: marxism, socialism, syndicalism. Of course none of these have provided any substantive change, and fizzled when everyone found out what they have bought with their blood; new bosses, more oppression. They fail under one simple and concrete fact: humans are not genetically inclined towards being workers. We wish to be free. In light of such an idea we pose this question: how can class struggle and those who seek civilization’s downfall work together towards freedom? First, class struggle must be redefined to delete any notion that “work” as civilization has defined it will make things better. Second, all peoples must reach back and forward towards developing themselves as autonomous and self-sufficient beings, so that they cannot be starved or beaten by the bosses. And third, class struggle must be realized by the shutting down of the ideology of work that does not serve our second goal. This will be a hard road for those who have organized for a more socialistic or marxist society. We all must drop the notion of pride in the working class for a very simple fact. Nobody wants to work. They never have. Let’s stop the success of the bosses’ tricks and seek happiness in freedom. Then we can all bring this weak system down. When we realize that, we will have already won. And it’s all downhill from there.
The Modern Anti-World, by John Zerzan
There now exists only one civilization, a single global domestication machine. Modernity’s continuing efforts to disenchant and instrumentalize the non-cultural, natural world have produced a reality in which there is virtually nothing left outside the system. This trajectory was already visible by the time of the first urbanites. Since those Neolithic times we have moved ever closer to the complete de-realization of nature, culminating in a state of world emergency today. Approaching ruin is the commonplace vista, our obvious non-future. It’s hardly necessary to point out that none of the claims of modernity/Enlightenment (regarding freedom, reason, the individual) are valid. Modernity is inherently globalizing, massifying, standardizing. The self-evident conclusion that an indefinite expansion of productive forces will be fatal deals the final blow to belief in progress. As China’s industrialization efforts go into hyper-drive, we have another graphic case in point.
Since the Neolithic, there has been a steadily increasing dependence on technology, civilization’s material culture. As Horkheimer and Adorno pointed out, the history of civilization is the history of renunciation. One gets less than one puts in. This is the fraud of technoculture, and the hidden core of domestication: the growing impoverishment of self, society, and Earth. Meanwhile, modern subjects hope that somehow the promise of yet more modernity will heal the wounds that afflict them.
A defining feature of the present world is built-in disaster, now announcing itself on a daily basis. But the crisis facing the biosphere is arguably less noticeable and compelling, in the First World at least, than everyday alienation, despair, and entrapment in a routinized, meaningless control grid.
Influence over even the smallest event or circumstance drains steadily away, as global systems of production and exchange destroy local particularity, distinctiveness, and custom. Gone is an earlier pre-eminence of place, increasingly replaced by what Pico Ayer calls “airport culture” — rootless, urban, homogenized.
Modernity finds its original basis in colonialism, just as civilization itself is founded on domination — at an ever more basic level. Some would like to forget this pivotal element of conquest, or else “transcend” it, as in Enrique Dussel’s facile “new trans-modernity” pseudo-resolution (The Invention of the Americas, 1995). Scott Lash employs somewhat similar sleight-of-hand in Another Modernity: A Different Rationality (1999), a feeble nonsense title given his affirmation of the world of technoculture. One more tortuous failure is Alternative Modernity (1995), in which Andrew Feenberg sagely observes that “technology is not a particular value one must choose for or against, but a challenge to evolve and multiply worlds without end.” The triumphant world of technicized civilization — known to us as modernization, globalization, or capitalism — has nothing to fear from such empty evasiveness.
Paradoxically, most contemporary works of social analysis provide grounds for an indictment of the modern world, yet fail to confront the consequences of the context they develop. David Abrams’ The Spell of the Sensuous (1995), for example, provides a very critical overview of the roots of the anti-life totality, only to conclude on an absurd note. Ducking the logical conclusion of his entire book (which should be a call to oppose the horrific contours of techno-civilization), Abrams decides that this movement toward the abyss is, after all, earth-based and “organic.” Thus “sooner or later [it] must accept the invitation of gravity and settle back into the land.” An astoundingly irresponsible way to conclude his analysis.
Richard Stivers has studied the dominant contemporary ethos of loneliness, boredom, mental illness, etc., especially in his Shades of Loneliness: Pathologies of Technological Society (1998). But this work fizzles out into quietism, just as his critique in Technology as Magic ends with a similar avoidance: “the struggle is not against technology, which is a simplistic understanding of the problem, but against a technological system that is now our life-milieu.”
The Enigma of Health (1996) by Hans Georg Gadamer advises us to bring “the achievements of modern society, with all of its automated, bureaucratic and technological apparatus, back into the service of that fundamental rhythm which sustains the proper order of bodily life”. Nine pages earlier, Gadamer observes that it is precisely this apparatus of objectification that produces our “violent estrangement from ourselves.”
The list of examples could fill a small library — and the horror show goes on. One datum among thousands is this society’s staggering level of dependence on drug technology. Work, sleep, recreation, non-anxiety/depression, sexual function, sports performance — what is exempt? Anti-depressant use among preschoolers — preschoolers — is surging, for example (New York Times, April 2, 2004).
Aside from the double-talk of countless semi-critical “theorists”, however, is the simple weight of unapologetic inertia: the countless voices who counsel that modernity is simply inescapable and we should desist from questioning it. It’s clear that there is no escaping modernization anywhere in the world, they say, and that is unalterable. Such fatalism is well captured by the title of Michel Dertourzos’ What Will Be: How the New World of Information Will Change Our Lives (1997).
Small wonder that nostalgia is so prevalent, that passionate yearning for all that has been stripped from our lives. Ubiquitous loss mounts, along with protest against our uprootedness, and calls for a return home. As ever, partisans of deepening domestication tell us to abandon our desires and grow up. Norman Jacobson (“Escape from Alienation: Challenges to the Nation-State,” Representations 84: 2004) warns that nostalgia becomes dangerous, a hazard to the State, if it leaves the world of art or legend. This craven leftist counsels “realism” not fantasies: “Learning to live with alienation is the equivalent in the political sphere of the relinquishment of the security blanket of our infancy.”
Civilization, as Freud knew, must be defended against the individual; all of its institutions are part of that defense.
But how do we get out of here — off this death ship? Nostalgia alone is hardly adequate to the project of emancipation. The biggest obstacle to taking the first step is as obvious as it is profound. If understanding comes first, it should be clear that one cannot accept the totality and also formulate an authentic critique and a qualitatively different vision of that totality. This fundamental inconsistency results in the glaring incoherence of some of the works cited above.
I return to Walter Benjamin’s striking allegory of the meaning of modernity:
His face is turned toward the past. Where we perceive a chain of events, he sees one single catastrophe which keeps piling ruin upon ruin and hurls it in front of his feet. The angel would like to stay, awaken the dead and make whole what has been smashed. But a storm is blowing from Paradise; it has got caught in his wings with such violence that the angel can no longer close them. The storm irresistibly propels him into the future to which his back is turned, while the pile of debris before him grows skyward. This storm is what we call progress (1940).
There was a time when this storm was not raging, when nature was not an adversary to be conquered and tamed into everything that is barren and ersatz. But we’ve been traveling at increasing speed, with rising gusts of progress at our backs, to even further disenchantment, whose impoverished totality now severely imperils both life and health.
Systematic complexity fragments, colonizes, debases daily life. Division of labor, its motor, diminishes humanness in its very depths, dis-abling and pacifying us. This de-skilling specialization, which gives us the illusion of competence, is a key, enabling predicate of domestication.
Before domestication, Ernest Gellner (Sword, Plow and Book, 1989) noted, “there simply was no possibility of a growth in scale and in complexity of the division of labour and social differentiation.” Of course, there is still an enforced consensus that a “regression” from civilization would entail too high a cost — bolstered by fictitious scary scenarios, most of them resembling nothing so much as the current products of modernity.
People have begun to interrogate modernity. Already a specter is haunting its now crumbling façade. In the 1980s, Jurgen Habermas feared that the “ideas of antimodernity, together with an additional touch of premodernity,” had already attained some popularity. A great tide of such thinking seems all but inevitable, and is beginning to resonate in popular films, novels, music, zines, TV shows, etc.
And it is also a sad fact that accumulated damage has caused a widespread loss of optimism and hope. Refusal to break with the totality crowns and solidifies this suicide-inducing pessimism. Only visions completely undefined by the current reality constitute our first steps to liberation. We cannot allow ourselves to continue to operate on the enemy’s terms. (This position may appear extreme; 19th century abolitionism also appeared extreme when its adherents declared that only an end to slavery was acceptable, and that reforms were pro-slavery.)
Marx understood modern society as a state of “permanent revolution,” in perpetual, innovating movement. Postmodernity brings more of the same, as accelerating change renders everything human (such as our closest relationships) frail and undone. The reality of this motion and fluidity has been raised to a virtue by postmodern thinkers, who celebrate undecidability as a universal condition. All is in flux, and context-free; every image or viewpoint is as ephemeral and as valid as any other.
This outlook is the postmodern totality, the position from which postmodernists condemn all other viewpoints. Postmodernism’s historic ground is unknown to itself, because of a founding aversion to overviews and totalities. Unaware of Kaczynski’s central idea (Industrial Society and Its Future, 1996) that meaning and freedom are progressively banished by modern technological society, postmodernists would be equally uninterested in the fact that Max Weber wrote the same thing almost a century before. Or that the movement of society, so described, is the historical truth of what postmodernists analyze so abstractly, as if it were a novelty they alone (partially) understand.
Shrinking from any grasp of the logic of the system as a whole, via a host of forbidden areas of thought, the anti-totality stance of these embarrassing frauds is ridiculed by a reality that is more totalized and global than ever. The surrender of the postmodernists is an exact reflection of feelings of helplessness that pervade the culture. Ethical indifference and aesthetic self-absorption join hands with moral paralysis, in the postmodern rejection of resistance. It is no surprise that a non-Westerner such as Ziauddin Sardan (Postmodernism and the Other, 1998) judges that postmodernism “preserves — indeed enhances — all the classical and modern structures of oppression and domination.”
This prevailing fashion of culture may not enjoy much more of a shelf life. It is, after all, only the latest retail offering in the marketplace of representation. By its very nature, symbolic culture generates distance and mediation, supposedly inescapable burdens of the human condition. The self has always only been a trick of language, says Althusser. We are sentenced to be no more than the modes through which language autonomously passes, Derrida informs us.
The outcome of the imperialism of the symbolic is the sad commonplace that human embodiment plays no essential role in the functions of mind or reason. Conversely, it’s vital to rule out the possibility that things have ever been different. Postmodernism resolutely bans the subject of origins, the notion that we were not always defined and reified by symbolic culture. Computer simulation is the latest advance in representation, its disembodied power fantasies exactly paralleling modernity’s central essence.
The postmodernist stance refuses to admit stark reality, with discernible roots and essential dynamics. Benjamin’s “storm” of progress is pressing forward on all fronts. Endless aesthetic-textual evasions amount to rank cowardice. Thomas Lamarre serves up a typical postmodern apologetic on the subject: “Modernity appears as a process or rupture and reinscription; alternative modernities entail an opening of otherness within Western modernity, in the very process of repeating or reinscribing it. It is as if modernity itself is deconstruction.” (Impacts of Modernities, 2004).
Except that it isn’t, as if anyone needed to point that out. Alas, deconstruction and detotalization have nothing in common. Deconstruction plays its role in keeping the whole system going, which is a real catastrophe, the actual, ongoing one.
The era of virtual communication coincides with the postmodern abdication, an age of enfeebled symbolic culture. Weakened and cheapened connectivity finds its analogue in the fetishization of ever-shifting, debased textual “meaning.” Swallowed in an environment that is more and more one immense aggregate of symbols, deconstruction embraces this prison and declares it to be the only possible world. But the depreciation of the symbolic, including illiteracy and a cynicism about narrative in general, may lead in the direction of bringing the whole civilizational project into question. Civilization’s failure at this most fundamental level is becoming as clear as its deadly and multiplying personal, social, and environmental effects.
“Sentences will be confined to museums if the emptiness of writing persists,” predicted Georges Bataille. Language and the symbolic are the conditions for the possibility of knowledge, according to Derrida and the rest. Yet we see at the same time an ever-diminishing vista of understanding. The seeming paradox of an engulfing dimension of representation and a shrinking amount of meaning finally causes the former to become susceptible — first to doubt, then to subversion.
Husserl tried to establish an approach to meaning based on respecting experience/ phenomena just as it is delivered to us, before it is re-presented by the logic of symbolism. Small surprise that this effort has been a central target of postmodernists, who have understood the need to extirpate such a vision. Jean-Luc Nancy expresses this opposition succinctly, decreeing that “We have no idea, no memory, no presentiment of a world that holds man [sic] in its bosom” (The Birth to Presence, 1993). How desperately do those who collaborate with the reigning nightmare resist the fact that during the two million years before civilization, this earth was precisely a place that did not abandon us and did hold us to its bosom.
Beset with information sickness and time fever, our challenge is to explode the continuum of history, as Benjamin realized in his final and best thinking. Empty, homogenous, uniform time must give way to the singularity of the non-exchangeable present. Historical progress is made of time, which has steadily become a monstrous materiality, ruling and measuring life. The “time” of non-domestication, of non-time, will allow each moment to be full of awareness, feeling, wisdom, and re-enchantment. The true duration of things can be restored when time and the other mediations of the symbolic are put to flight. Derrida, sworn enemy of such a possibility, grounds his refusal of a rupture on the nature and allegedly eternal existence of symbolic culture: history cannot end, because the constant play of symbolic movement cannot end. This auto-da-fé is a pledge against presence, authenticity, and all that is direct, embodied, particular, unique, and free. To be trapped in the symbolic is only our current condition, not an eternal sentence.
It is language that speaks, in Heidegger’s phrase. But was it always so? This world is over-full of images, simulations — a result of choices that may seem irreversible. A species has, in a few thousand years, destroyed community and created a ruin. A ruin called culture. The bonds of closeness to the earth and to each other — outside of domestication, cities, war, etc. — have been sundered, but can they not heal?
Under the sign of a unitary civilization, the possibly fatal onslaught against anything alive and distinctive has been fully unleashed for all to see. Globalization has in fact only intensified what was underway well before modernity. The tirelessly systematized colonization and uniformity, first set in motion by the decision to control and tame, now has enemies who see it for what it is and for the ending it will surely bring, unless it is defeated. The choice at the beginning of history was, as now, that of presence versus representation.
Gadamer describes medicine as, at base, the restoration of what belongs to nature. Healing as removing whatever works against life’s wonderful capacity to renew itself. The spirit of anarchy, I believe, is similar. Remove what blocks our way and it’s all there, waiting for us.
You Won’t Find Me on Friendster, by Sphinx
With every expansion of technology into the entertainment realm, humankind gains some and loses much. The Internet itself was initially designed and built by a consortium of state, academic, and corporate entities to coordinate their research and development for high-tech offensive technology. Secondarily, it was grafted upon by the capitalist class looking towards a societal technology of efficiency and speed. It gained potential to become a social technology with the dissemination of the home computer when economics of scale dropped the price to the point where the middle incomes found it affordable. The Internet now reaches a new apex of social reach with the development of the Artificial Social Network (ASN) popularized in Friendster and its copycat systems.
Ostensibly purchased to aid the organization of capital within the family unit, the personal computer quickly became a “necessity” borne out of the quickening societal computerization of such basic tasks as writing or tax recording. The gradual, domestic extension of computers was latched onto by capitalists eager to integrate youth into new efficiencies. Suddenly, Apple was supplying computers to my elementary school. Soon, composition using word processors provided the advantage of high marks; being computer savvy brought the possibility of attending elite institutions (or at least that illusion); and typing classes became popular electives. Further state and technology sector cooperation brought accessibility to public libraries for those who could not afford their own private computer.
Concomitant to these geographical and mimetic shifts in technology, the Internet became more and more viable through the already-existing telecommunication infrastructure, replicating and building off of the local and wide-area networks of state and capitalist groupings. Soon, like a Trojan horse, the Internet arrived in the households of millions of Americans through BBS’s (bulletin board systems), Prodigy, CompuServe, and other on-line connection services.
Confronted with the crushing weight of a technological paradigm unleashing itself on the youth sector, my generation folded quite easily. Anomic suburban geography — where every home is a fenced factory reproducing the social identity-sets of capital — presented the already dissonant category of the “nerd” with two options. One was to participate as a dissident minority in an alienating social context that continually expanded loneliness (only ameliorated in the form of temporary escapes such as Dungeons and Dragons, science fairs, and ham radio etc.). Option two was to seek other distant, defecting minorities and unite in a new geography under the illusory control of said defectors. This option offered relatively permanent escape. Here the Internet completed a human community of pseudo-affinity while inducing a new amputation of social life; limbs were lost. Many chose retreat. This retreat helped form the social basis of the Internet as entertainment; with Doom, Doom II, Quake, and other text-based role-playing games nerds etched geographies of power for the powerless, enhanced by the circuits of capital.
The new generation of the technological working class eased into their plastic chairs, comforting and domesticating previously recuperated desires into a plaintive sedentism. Some time later we would see wild amplifications of these desires through the expanding immersion in this divided existence; strange spikes burst forth from the realm of outcast power. Violence experienced as a totalized cross-section replaced its previous social context based on reward and punishment — revenge — as practiced by the Columbine murderers — found new technological blinders. The suppression of guilt was as easy as revisioning the digital geography of murder upon the real. Shotgun shells through student flesh instead of digital Doom Nazis. Neo electrocutes the sentinel in “real life”, destroying it; everyone is confused...surely his power exists only in the digital realm?
Where hipsters and squatters pave the way for gentrification in areas of neglected municipal capital; the nerds, building upon their engineer progenitors, established a social basis for technological participation with the noose of technological community. The proliferation of chat clients — at first clumsy (mIRC) — found rationalization in the identity/region/interestbased chats of America Online. That the service would eventually spore into a free, even JAVA-based chat client, enabling constant communication with other cubicles (real or unseen), is indicative not only of the structural necessity for such a societal steam valve, but also the very real submission of desire to the piecemeal chum bucket of love and intensity. These changes corresponded to a re-sale of both nostalgia and identity. The absolute authenticity of the purchased item surged, finding itself best expressed in adult’s excited robotic rant: “New aw-aw-object! New aw-aw-object!”. The tech sector boom of the late 1990’s brought about an era where divided electronic social interaction enabled a further shredding and specializing of human interaction (aided largely by the proliferation of the cell phone). It was on this stage that the Internet superceded its inceptional base of military and capitalist power; far past its community of flirting engineers; far beyond the barking isolates of divided (but “united”) defectors; and into the community of use. Use as a storehouse of history; use as an expression of art; use as a method of “keeping in touch” (overcoming the separation of capital geography). Here is where Friendster enters the social field.
As an alternative to AOL Instant Messenger, ICQ, MSN Instant Messenger, and other instant communication programs — which require minute-by-minute interactions and a sedentary commitment to the computer — Friendster plasters the frozen moments of affinity across the Internet like a starscape. Constellations of friendship navigated at leisure. Replacing the commitment to the constantly mobile social field of instant messaging and providing a visual, homage-based alternative to electronic mail, Friendster promises to unite us as never before; to create a community of dividends on the stock market of testimony.
You are pulled into Friendster’s web by another — usually an actual friend — who offers you a place on their list of friends. From there, you find more friends who also found their way to this topography of inter-linkages. Then you write your own list of friends. Friends of friends become your friends and so on and so on. The passion for establishing a huge database of individuals and “meeting new people” becomes an end to itself before subsiding, eventually, into the stationary convenience of an accomplice list. Various urges pull certain individuals into the glamorous garage sale of spectacular bodies, spectacular ideas (usually summed up as an author name or book title), and spectacular lifestyle. Words replace praxis in an economy of accumulation; the social geography becomes yet another zone for conquest.
And yet, perhaps Friendster is useful... perhaps these examples are extremes, not representative of broader participation. Indeed, what I have laid out is a simple social understanding of some of the broad effects the Internet has had upon American society, a socializing process that seems quite difficult to abstain from.
I choose to abstain from Friendster for two reasons. My first, and primary, reason for abstaining from Friendster is that its use is a commitment to legality. By listing one’s affinities (along with your e-mail address books, photographs, and interests) one runs the real risk of a third party (the state’s investigators or private detectives) comprehending and intervening into one’s libratory projects; be these against capitalism or underneath it. The damage to graffiti, crime, direct action, and proletarian networks by such an exposure should be obvious. The standard objection to this statement is that technological correspondence is already so infested with control mechanisms and observations that one “might as well” just go all out and submit entirely; to effectively write the FBI a letter detailing the day-to-day scams pulled by a whole list of affinities. In fact, the network of control is not so invulnerable nor all-seeing, as evidenced by consistent attacks on data infrastructure, the continuing proliferation of anonymous spam e-mail, and the frantic pace of world governments to outlaw encryption (the state’s compromise is to allow an encryption level below its own).
Of course, Friendster relies foundationally upon the public visibility of this web of friends’ lists — forming the actual basis for the existence of this “service”. By this fundamentally required presentation, Friendsters voluntarily leap into the lion’s mouth, by proxy renouncing illegality within the circles of friends committed to the network. And here we see the ultimate conclusion of Friendster’s course; all individuals willing to break the law will exist outside of the network.
My second reason for refusing Friendster is precisely that instead of seeking to invigorate a digital community of fractionalized, desiring humans, I seek to invigorate a human community of whole, free individuals and itinerant, nondeterminant rhizomes. Because Friendster negates this through its axiomatic splaying of affinity before the control apparatus; its continuance of the sale of identity; and its rationalization of the retreat of human community with more retreat; I find it easy to refuse. This refusal does not pose itself as a negation of the digital geography; in fact it is a comprehension of the joining of digital and human geography; it is one path to the contradiction of something entirely other. I believe that this is actually a simple refusal. So long as humans prowl the streets by day and night; so long as chess is still played in the park; as long as we find ourselves pulled from intensity to intensity by the writhing of human movement; while snowball fights still spill out into mid-day traffic; and kisses burn between the skins and not circuitry, human community will continue its staunch, storied resistance to control and separation.
When the zombies take over, how long till the electricity fails?
Dear Tom O’Bedlam:
After watching Dawn of the Dead, I am left to wonder about one thing: If we were to suffer an apocalypse where most of the living became flesheating zombies, how long, assuming I survived, would I continue to receive hydroelectricity from my power company? Is it a mean-time-before-failure situation, or would the system automatically shut itself down after a few days? (I am assuming that most of the people who were supposed to be maintaining things at my hydro company would be out looking for brains, and that the surviving hydro employees would be busy digging shelters, etc.) Also, what’s the outlook like for people whose chunk of the power grid is supplied by coal, nuclear, and other types of energy? Just wondering how many solar panels I should be putting on my roof!
—Jason, Vancouver, BC, Canada
Tom O’Bedlam replies:
Believe it or not, this is a question I’ve been asked before. Many people wonder how key parts of civilized society might continue after a postapocalyptic Dawn of the Dead/Night of the Comet/Omega Man/Teletubbies Go to Paris scenario. Your question has two possible answers depending on which scenario of zombie conquest you envision.
In Dawn of the Dead, the zombification process doesn’t happen all at once. We can imagine a gradual scenario in which the infrastructure systems controllers plan ahead for shortages of personnel and try to keep the power going as long as possible. Alternatively, zombification could happen fairly quickly – say, over a few hours. I’ll address the second, more dire scenario in detail first, then the first, slightly less alarming one briefly.
How long the power supply would last in the most critical zombie situation depends on two key factors – first, how long a given power plant can operate without human intervention, and second, how long before enough power plants fail to bring down the entire transmission grid. I’ll ignore the side issues of whether the zombies would want to try to run the power plant themselves, or if they would be a union or non-union shop.
Power plants are incredibly complex facilities with an enormous number of controls, and consequently an enormous number of things that can go wrong. The level of complexity and reliability of the plants is a function of the type of power plant, the control systems installed, and the plant’s age and condition. In addition to the possibility of unplanned events causing shutdowns, there is also the problem of maintaining a fuel supply without human intervention. Given all these variables, coming up with hard and fast numbers is difficult. To address your question as well as I can, I’ll break down power plants by type (coal, nuclear, hydro, and natural gas) and discuss each one separately, focusing on the U.S. and Canada, since their electrical systems are closely tied. I’ll ignore oil-based plants because, contrary to popular belief, oil provides only a small fraction of total utility power generation in North America.
About 51% of U.S. and 16% of Canadian electrical generation comes from coal-fired plants. Coal power plants are generally the most problematic in terms of supplying enough fuel to remain in operation, and I could write (and have written) hundreds of pages about them. Mercifully, I’ll summarize. At most coal power plants the coal is stored in a huge outdoor pile, where it is typically pushed by bulldozers onto a conveyor and carried to large silos or bunkers at an upper level of the plant, from which it is fed to the burners. When the plant is operating at full output, these bunkers theoretically have a capacity ranging from 8 hours to more than 24 hours. As a practical matter, depending on the amount of coal in the bunkers and the way the plant distributes coal to the burners, the plant may start losing power in as little as 2-4 hours. Whether or not this initial reduction in coal flow shuts the plant down depends on the sophistication of the control systems and the ability of the plant to continue at partial power output without operator intervention.
Coal plants commonly require a lot of operator input to keep running. The controls at coal plants vary tremendously, from systems that are essentially unchanged since the 1950s to modern closed-loop neural network predictive models. In my experience from many months spent in control rooms of power plants around the world, coal plants on average require some sort of operator response for a “critical alarm” every 1-3 hours. Sometimes this is a relatively minor issue, such as a warning to flush the ash systems; sometimes it’s more serious, such as excessively high steam temperature or low coal supply. Whatever the case, if the control room were left unattended, I think it’s likely that a large number of coal power plants would “trip” (automatically shut down and disconnect from the electrical grid) within 12-18 hours.
About 20% of United States’ and 12% of Canadian electrical generation comes from nuclear power plants. Nuclear plants can operate a long time between refuelings – 500 days is a typical quoted figure, and some plants (Brunswick 1 and Pickering 7) are notable for having gone more than 700 days between refueling. Nuclear plants tend to be more stable in operation than coal plants, and generally have more advanced control systems that can correct for minor problems or routine fluctuations. Two nuclear plant operators I asked about this wondered what I had been drinking, then said that a modern North American nuclear plant would likely run unattended for quite a bit longer than a coal power plant barring a mandated operator response – perhaps as long as a few days to a week. This could vary considerably depending on the plant.
Hydroelectric plants supply roughly 60% of the electricity in Canada and 7% in the United States. In addition, the northern U.S. imports a significant amount of Canadian hydropower on top of that 7%. Hydro plants, for the most part, are highly reliable and require relatively few controls. Since their “fuel” is the water contained behind the dam, their “fuel reserve” can often be measured in weeks or months. Barring sudden equipment failure or other unusual circumstances, most hydroelectric plants in good operating condition would last days or weeks unattended.
Natural gas is the least significant fuel source for power plants in the United States and Canada. Most natural gas power plants in North America use turbines, which resemble a stationary jet engine. (Boilers, the other major gas technology used for electricity generation, typically are used for emergency power or startup power at coal plants.) A turbine receives its gas supply from a pipeline; as long as the pipeline has sufficient pressure, the turbine will have fuel. How long a pipeline would keep its pressure during a Dawn of the Dead event is difficult to determine. Experts I asked thought that pipelines in most regions would maintain pressure for only 1-3 days without human intervention – maybe less, depending on the status of power to the controls and other electrically-powered equipment. In other words, failure of a few key power plants or transmission systems could result in a cascade failure of natural gas supply to large portions of the system.
Simple-cycle natural gas turbines are highly automated systems with relatively few moving parts. I have worked at a power plant with simple-cycle natural gas turbines that ran essentially unattended for three days at a time, with operator input limited to dropping the power output at night and ramping it back up in the morning. That particular plant operated so well and so safely with minimal attention that the operators tended to read a lot, tie flies for fishing lures, and engage in Greco-Roman wrestling when the urge hit them (don’t ask). Combinedcycle gas turbines, which include a steam generation component, have more controls and moving parts and require greater attention. Combined-cycle gas turbines would likely operate unattended for a shorter length of time – perhaps only a day or two, depending on the age of the plant and the degree of automation.
Focusing on individual plants doesn’t give us the whole story, though. The North American power grid is a classic illustration of a chain being only as strong as its weakest link. As we saw during the blackout of August 2003, a relatively minor event or series of events can, under the right circumstances, bring down large portions of the whole system. During the August blackout, despite massive non-zombified human intervention, enough parts of the system failed to resulting in the loss of more than 265 power plants and 508 generating units within a few hours. As bad as the blackout was, without human intervention to shut down plants safely, balance load, transfer power to different lines, and disconnect salvageable chunks of the system from those that had totally collapsed, it could have been much worse. Quick intervention allowed isolated “islands” of power to remain in service – one large island in western New York supplied nearly 6,000 megawatts and was used to restart the power grid days later. But without humans working to isolate it, that island would not have been formed in the first place.
Bottom line? My guess is that within 4-6 hours there would be scattered blackouts and brownouts in numerous areas, within 12 hours much of the system would be unstable, and within 24 hours most portions of the United States and Canada, aside from a rare island of service in a rural area near a hydroelectric source, would be without power. Some installations served by wind farms and solar might continue, but they would be very small. By the end of a week, I’d be surprised if more than a few abandoned sites were still supplying power.
Now, let’s address a scenario where the zombification process is gradual. If the operators and utilities had sufficient advance warning they could take measures to keep the power going for a while. The first thing would be to isolate key portions of the grid, reducing the interties and connections, and then cease power delivery altogether to areas of highest zombie density. After all, it’s not like the zombies need light to read or electricity to play Everquest. Whole blocks and zones would be purposely cut off to reduce the potential drains (and to cope with downed lines from zombies climbing poles or driving trucks into transformers). Operators would work to create islands of power plants wherever possible, so if a plant were overrun by zombies and went down it wouldn’t drag others down with it. In cooperation with regional reliability coordinators, the plant operators would improve plant reliability by disabling or eliminating non-critical alarm systems that might otherwise shut down a power plant, and ignoring many safety and emissions issues.
Fuel supply would eventually be a problem. Hydro plants would fare best, essentially having an unlimited fuel supply given normal rainfall, and could operate until some essential component failed or wore out. Nuclear plants could run for perhaps a year or more before they would need refueling. Refueling is a tricky operation requiring many specialized personnel, and it’s doubtful that a nuclear plant could effectively refuel if 90% of the nuclear technicians and engineers in the country were running around glassy-eyed in the parking lot. Coal power plants on average have maybe 45-60 days’ worth of coal on hand. If the power output of the plant were reduced, this could be stretched for six months or more, but eventually it would run out unless deliveries could be maintained. There are a few mine-mouth coal power plants in the U.S. that could conceivably run for years, provided enough miners and operators remained un-zombified. Natural gas plants might be the most vulnerable, since maintaining the gas wells, balancing the gas flow, and otherwise keeping the pipeline system intact requires considerable effort. In addition, most power plants have little or no gas storage available on-site, so a zombie situation could put natural gas plants in a real bind.
So there you have it. As to your final question, I can suggest a better tactic than relying on solar. Go to the abandoned hardware stores, load up a flatbed trailer with gasoline generators, and take them and a few dozen-tanker trucks of gasoline to your house. You could have power for a long time, possibly years or more, until the zombies finally come for you.
Ward Cleaver inquires:
What about random zombie sabotage? For example, if some zombies got into the power plant and started randomly pushing buttons, pulling levers, and yanking cables, how much damage could they do?
Tom O’Bedlam replies:
Outside the control room, most essential wires and cables are contained in armored cable trays, or else are tucked well out of the way. However, once you get into that control room… well, the ones at the power plants I have been to are amazingly fragile. Most coal plants have an incredible number of exposed controls that can trip the unit, and I have met engineers who had accidentally done just that during a site visit. That’s why I instruct all the engineers working under me on their first visit to the control room to not only not touch anything, but to leave a “magic foot,” or one-foot barrier, between them and any and all controls, tables, chairs, etc.
Sometimes that doesn’t work. A co-worker was notorious for years for having bumped an empty ceramic coffee mug that fell onto a control panel, hit a control, and ended up tripping the unit. A $20,000 mistake. Thankfully, I’ve never done that.
Gas turbine plants are typically self-contained and the controls are out of the way. However, punching or clawing at a few panels would shut them down hard. My understanding is nuclear plants have more safeguards, but they’re not my areas of expertise, and times being what they are, I’d just as soon not know.
Canadian Electricity Association Website: www.canelect.ca/english/ electricity_in_canada_snapshot_Demand_1.html
US DOE Energy Information Administration Website: www.eia.doe.gov/cneaf/electricity/epm/table1_1.html
Nuclear Energy Institute Website: www.nei.org/index.asp?catnum=2&catid=47
U.S.-Canada Power System Outage Task Force, Final Report on the August 14th Blackout in the United States and Canada: www.reports.energy.gov.
Ecological Resistance From Around the World
“But neither wood nor fire found appeasement nor satisfaction nor rest in any heat great or small nor in any semblance until fire was made one with wood and communicated to it its very nature.”
– From the film Society of the Spectacle
May, Tampere (Finland): Arson Against Super Highway!
The following communiqué pertains to an action taken against the construction of a super highway in Finland. Damages from this anonymous action were estimated at nearly 100,000 euros.
“May 2004, Tampere Ring Highway: More and more roads are being built everyday and cities everywhere are quickly expanding, forcing us to adapt to the desires of the state and corporations. The highway that is being constructed in the city of Tampere is just one of these projects. In the early morning of May the 5th, we placed incendiary devices inside 5 earthmovers hoping to cause as much economic damage as possible to the project.
We want to make it clear it is not only this specific project that we are against, but all capitalist developments and industrialization itself. Projects like this mainly provide for the more efficient transport of labor and commodities which benefits the economy, but not us. The destruction of our natural environment and our neighborhoods alienates us from each other and from ourselves, and our ability to live self sustainable lives is taken from us.
Some call this drive for the development of our living spaces progress, but this “progress” is more and more resembling a locomotive with no brakes hurling towards an abyss. It is time for us to decide if we will live with these changes, or if we will begin to fight against them.”
May 30, John Day, Oregon: Forest Service Investigates Incendiary Device!
The US Forest Service is investigating the discovery of a small incendiary device found in the parking lot outside a Malheur National Forest office. A John Day Police Department officer found the device, described as about the size of a tennis ball and designed to ignite or burst on impact, on Memorial Day evening in the parking lot of a private office building rented by the Forest Service. A Forest Service investigator said there were no leads and no information on whether it might be connected to vandalism of logging equipment two days prior at a “salvage” logging site on the Malheur National Forest outside Prairie City.
June 15, West Jordan, Utah: ELF Torches Lumberyard
A West Jordan, Utah lumberyard goes up in smoke and the only available evidence suggests that the Earth Liberation Front (ELF) is responsible. Intense flames consumed the lumberyard at Stock Building Supply in the early morning hours, causing an estimated $1.5 million in damage. The 1:04 am blaze completely gutted the storage building, which contained a large stockpile of lumber, flat boards, and pallets. The fire also destroyed several forklifts and trucks. As about a dozen investigators from the FBI, BATF, the West Jordan Fire Department and other agencies combed through the charred rubble looking for clues, they discovered the initials “ELF” were spray-painted in green on an adjacent building and truck. A fax sent that afternoon to Salt Lake City radio station KSL, with the letters “ELF” at the top, claimed responsibility for the fire and threatened other targets in the Salt Lake area. The fax said the company had ignored warnings to repair its forklifts, which the fax said “put out far more pollutants than average diesel engines.” The ELF has targeted lumberyards in the past because they contribute to ecological destruction and sprawl.
June 16, Oregon: Forest Agency Makes Claims of Potential Eco-Sabotage
In sync with the early June tactics of the FBI – in particular the media-fostered hysteria surrounding the June 12 International Day of Action for imprisoned Earth warrior Jeff “Free” Luers – the Oregon Department of Natural Resources released a melodramatic “warning” to forest workers and wood products companies regarding a rash of booby-trapped road gates near Medford, Oregon. Supposedly, some of the steel lock coverings on various forest road gates were found to be rigged with bombs or sharp needles, though the Oregon Department of Natural Resources has been unable to document a single instance of booby-trapped gates (but it’s not a bad idea!)
Shelton-based Green Diamond Resource Company (a most revealing name) also got in on the rumormongering by issuing manipulative internal memos “warning” workers to look carefully at road locks before sticking their hands into the cans. “Someone could reach in and get their hands blown off”, said spokesperson Patty Case. “It’s eco-terrorism.” Actually, it seems more like a clear-cut case of “yellow ribbon” journalism, as the timber industry hasn’t produced a single fact to substantiate their baseless lies.
Yet, when we researched this matter further, we discovered at least two verifiable incidents where this tactic was really deployed. The most recent was in 2003 when a bomb was found on a road that led to Weyerhaeuser property in Cowlitz County. And in June 1995, in Salem, Oregon, the Association of Oregon Loggers issued a Member Alert, announcing that a major timberland owner found explosives wired into lock boxes on their forest gates.
June 16, Danville, Vermont:
A Unitell cell phone tower was knocked over by unknown saboteurs, cutting off cell phone service in the area and shutting down a radio station.
June 20, Jacksonville, Florida:
In one neighborhood, eight SUVs had their windows shot out with a pellet gun, causing thousands of dollars in damage. The whole operation probably took about thirty seconds and a minimum of organization.
June 22, Amarillo, Texas:
A construction site for a suburban development was sabotaged when unknown individuals started up bulldozers and earth movers, using them to flip over other vehicles and tear up survey stakes. Up to $200,000 damage was inflicted upon this site. Small actions like this, which are easily reproducible and require unsophisticated means that are available to all, are by their very simplicity and spontaneity, uncontrollable. They make a mockery of even the most advanced technological developments in counter-insurgency. This is what capital and the State are afraid of, this is the news that never makes the headlines, but is instead carefully concealed from the public eye. This is the good news we intend to spread.
June 23, Medford, Oregon: Second Wave of Vandalism Hits Development Project
Anonymous objectors to a 165-acre development near Roxy Ann Peak have sidestepped the “public hearing process” and have apparently decided to voice their displeasure with the project through vandalism. For the second time in two months, unknown vandals have damaged property at the Vista Pointe plannedunit development under construction on the East McAndrews Road extension, Medford police Sgt. Tim Doney said.
About two months prior, someone spray painted the words “No Sprawl” on signs and removed survey stakes from the Vista Pointe site and a nearby development. More extensive damage at Vista Pointe was discovered on June 22 by Johnny Cat Inc. crews who reported to work and found that five pieces of heavy equipment and two fuel trailers had been sabotaged overnight. Damage included cut hydraulic lines and dirtfilled fuel filters and radiators.
Vandals also used spray paint to write the word “unless” and the initials “TJC” on equipment. The estimated cost to repair the equipment is expected to exceed $7,000 dollars. Investigators say they don’t understand the latest messages left by the saboteurs. “We don’t have a clue what they mean,” said the brainless pig Doney. John Holmes, owner of Johnny Cat Inc., doesn’t believe “youngsters” are to blame for the damage. “Usually kids do vandalism a certain way – breaking stuff and making a mess,” Holmes said. “This was done in such a sneaky way. It was definitely older people – grown-ups.”
With a plan to build 657 homes on 165 acres, the Vista Pointe development is the largest ever reviewed by the city of Medford. The vandalism was expected to delay construction for “a few days”.
(Editors Note: the word “unless” is most likely taken from the Lorax by Dr. Suess. In the book, the Lorax leaves behind a rock with one word written on it: UNLESS. “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not!”)
July 5: Maine Earth First! Trashes the Governor’s Yard!
Persons affiliated with Maine Earth First! invaded the back yard of the governor’s mansion in Augusta and spread thousands of pounds of lobster guts, rotting food and oil around the yard, while one woman suspended herself from a tripod in the driveway. Six people were arrested on charges of trespassing on the Blaine House grounds, and one was charged with criminal mischief.
Maine Earth First! said it decided to invade the governor’s back yard because of concern that the “not in my backyard” stance taken by many local communities could lead to a liquid natural gas (LNG) terminal being built on the Passamaquoddy tribe’s Pleasant Point. Governor Baldacci, who is a staunch proponent of LNG, has been fighting a losing battle to set up a plant and an underwater trans-Canadian pipeline. Many communities have successfully blocked new LNG terminals in their areas, citing the environmental dangers as well as the threat it poses to fish population levels.
While we normally don’t report on this type of civil disobedience in the pages of Green Anarchy, primarily because we consider it stupid and ineffective to encourage people to offer themselves up as sacrificial lambs, we commend Maine Earth First! for at least taking the battle to the source. As the HLS campaign has shown, “personal accountability” is one of the most effective ways to make these bastards back down. Admittedly, something a little more creative could have occurred at the Governors mansion (with a minimum of tools and equipment), but it’s always nice to disturb the illusionary peace of those who would claim control of our lives and the Earth.
July 7, London (England): PNG Oil Palm Plantation Acton
The following action was carried out in London at the request of environmentalists in Papua New Guinea. Reprinted below is the communiqué:
“On 6/7/04 at nine in the morning eight of us took part in a “lightning demo” against CDC in London, unfurling a banner with proclaimed “PLANTATIONS ARE CORPORATE COLONIALISM AND ECOCIDE”. After chaining up their entrance doors, we left, seeing little point in waiting for the cops to turn up.
CDC is a UK government body that funds corporate expansion in what they see as the ‘developing world’. Under a philanthropic cloak CDC fund projects which transform land and relatively autonomous subsistence cultures into profit making resources for the global industrial system. Their slogan is ‘Capital for Development”, but equally could be ‘Development for Capital’.
For well over a decade CDC has been a major player in the expansion of oil palm plantations in Papua New Guinea. Wild, diverse, exuberant living forest systems are cleared and replaced by ecologically sterile monocultures. Oil Palm, in Mine Bay Province especially, is now one of the greatest threats to forests and the people who live there.
Traditional landholders are often pushed into signing leases they do not understand and which give them very little. This trickery is made possible by a feeling of inferiority that many Melanesians feel about their cultures compared to that of the conquering industrial civilization. Christian missionaries, television, corporations and the PNG state itself all play a part in this myth making. Yet until Western colonialism Melanesians lived for many thousand of years in autonomous tribes with an understanding of humanity as part of the web of nature. CDC unsurprisingly believes Melanesians must copy (and bow down to) the western white industrial world. Yet it is the expansion of this culture that is bringing unprecedented global wars and shattering the biological integrity of the Earth. Many of us in the West believe we have a lot to learn from tribal peoples in the Pacific.
Oil palm and logging open up new roads and access wild areas previously unreachable by industrial civilization. It is a direct attack on both wild nature and the autonomy of those people who call the forest home. We say to CDC: Stop funding Palm Oil expansion in Milne Bay. Today you were served a notice that your organization will be targeted when it does.”
July 20, Washington: Suspicious Fire Burns Logging Equipment and Office in Everett
Arson investigators are sifting for clues in a suspicious fire that damaged logging equipment at an Everett, Washington log yard in the early morning hours of July 20. The blaze torched a commercial wood chipper, a front-end loader, a log picker, and an office trailer owned by Willis Enterprises of Montesano. Fire officials were quick to add that the fire was set by an “eco-terrorist” group. The last known local action by the Earth Liberation Front occurred in Snohom County three months prior, when that group claimed credit for arson attempts at three subdivisions under construction. (See Green Anarchy #17 for more details.)
July 26, Charlotte, N. Carolina: ELF Damages Company Trucks
When Nicholas Louder arrived for work at Utilquest, he was in for a surprise. He saw that not only his car, but all the company vehicles in the Utilquest parking lot, had sustained damage. Saboteurs had marked the initials ELF on all the trucks and had also slit their tires.
August 3, Spokane, Washington: ELF Claims Responsibility for Hummer Fire
The FBI and the Joint Terrorism Task Force are investigating an e-mail sent to at least four news organizations in Washington State, supposedly from an ELF cell claiming responsibility for arson at a Hummer dealership in Liberty Lake. The e-mail says that the Eastern Washington Chapter of the Earth Liberation Front was behind a fire that heavily damaged one $55,000 Hummer and nearly burned two others at the George Gee Hummer dealership. One H2 Hummer had its windows broken and was spray painted with messages that oppose the Iraq war and President Bush.
August 11, Ashland, Oregon:
The Jackson County Sheriff’s Department reported that a radar site on the Mount Ashland Ski Road was vandalized. Damages were estimated at $1,500.
Eco-Defense Political Prisoners
#04475-046, US Pen-Admin Max Facility, PO Box 8500, Florence Colorado 81226.
Sentenced to multiple lifetimes in prison for the “Unabomber” bombing attacks against the architects of the New World Order.
Jeffrey Luers (Free)
#13797671, OSP, 2605 State Street, Salem, OR 97310.
Serving a 22+ year sentence for setting fire to Sports Utility Vehicles to protest the destruction of the environment. He has been made an example of by the criminal injustice system and he urgently needs your support.
Craig Marshall (Critter)
#13797662, SRCI, 777 Stanton Blvd, Ontario, OR 97914.
Serving a five-year sentence for setting fire to SUVs to protest the destruction of the environment.
#1090915 HU1C, WERDCC, P.O. Box 300, Valdalia, MO 63382.
Longtime eco-activist serving a Life sentence for shooting dead, in self-defense, a stalker who had broken into her home.
#03231-045 FMC Carswell, PO Box 27137, Admin Max Unit, Fort Worth, TX 76127.
Serving 27 years for robbing a bank and then setting the money on fire while reading out a statement denouncing greed, capitalism and the destruction of the environment.
For more info, check out:
Earth Liberation Prisoners Support Network
Anti-genetics Actions From Around the World
“The potential horrors of biotechnology – genetic pollution, the escape of genetically engineered organisms into the environment, the totalitarian use of cloning – only call for regulation of this technological system, to prevent its “bad use”. But if it is the fundamental ideology behind this system that we question, its degradation of individual living beings into mechanisms for the flow of bits of information, then reform becomes useless. If we are to save the dignity of the individual, the beauty of life, the wonder of the universe, then we must act to destroy this technology and the social system that produces it.”
– Biotechnology and the Digitalization of Life
Late March: ELF Destroys Transgenic Apple Trees in the Netherlands
Transgenic apple trees planted in the Netherlands in 2003 by Plant Research International (PRI) were destroyed in late March 2004, though we only recently heard about the action (due to transcontinental communication barriers). All 420 transgenic trees seem to have been broken by hand. The action was carried out by a Dutch cell of the Earth Liberation Front. The sabotage has delayed research by at least a year.
PRI has deliberately tried to avoid publicity on the issue. “It seemed sensible not to communicate actively on the issue, because of bad experiences in the past with a field trial,” said PRI spokesperson Erik Toussaint. Charges were filed with the police for 210,000 euros of damage. The GMO trial grafted 2-year old apple trees with a barley grain that supposedly stops an apple tree disease.
May 5: GM Crops Destroyed in Germany
A field of genetically modified (GM) wheat was destroyed by hoe-toting vandals under the cover of night. The local government responded to this act of sabotage with the revelation that GM crops are being tested in no less than seven of Germany’s 16 states. Police still don’t know who is responsible for damaging and pulling up the genetically-modified wheat plants being grown in a 400 square meter field near Bernburg in the eastern German state of Saxony-Anhalt. But until the field was sabotaged, the German government and media maintained that only two outdoor trials with GM crops were underway in the country.
The government of Saxony-Anhalt, however, reacted to the attack by announcing that GM crops are being cultivated in 29 locations, which the state has been keeping secret. The eastern German state initiated the project to explore GM crops’ resistance to “pests”. State Economics Minister Horst Rehberger admitted after this sabotage that GM corn crops were being cultivated in BadenWurttemberg, Bavaria, Brandenburg, Mecklenburg, Pommerania, Thuringia, and Saxony-Anhalt.
The Swiss firm Syngenta, whose wheat was used in the destroyed field, said it would review whether to continue testing GM crops in Germany. The wheat was being developed to test fungi. Activists from the mainstream environmental group Greenpeace had already ruined a field of Syngenta wheat in March 2004 by sowing organic seed where GM seed had been planted.
June 19: Genetically Engineered (GE) Trees Destroyed in Finland
Reprinted below is the communiqué from this action:
“We cut down a plot of 400 birch trees located at a research park in Laukanssaari (Punkahaju) Finland.
Gene transfer to the surrounding nature from GE trees is a real risk, from which the consequences are unpredictable. The Forest and Biotech industries manipulate trees and forests to satisfy their own needs, for their own profit. They are responsible for destroying natural forests and replacing them with monoculture tree farms, therefore destroying the biodiversity. This is irresponsible in an ecological and social manner, and genetic engineering won’t solve any of these problems. While trees may not be made perfectly for the forest industry, they ARE perfect for their working relationship in nature.
This action was done in solidarity with our Italian friends currently being imprisoned and harassed by the Italian State. For Marco, Sergio, the people of Il Silvestre, and those imprisoned by Marini. Keep fighting and don’t give up!”
July 2: GM Potatoes Destroyed in the Netherlands
Unknown people have destroyed thousands of genetically modified (GM) potato plants belonging to the starch company Avebe in Eernshaven. “We hope that it was made clear to Avebe now that their attempts to play god are pointless. Stop the GM madness now!” announced the saboteurs in a press release.
The action took place during the night when, according to Avebe, the potato plants were sprayed with a substance that destroys them. Since this action, the controls and security around other Avebe fields have been intensified. Beginning in 2003, Avebe has been conducting field trials in the provinces of Drenthe and Groningen with GM potato varieties whose starch composition has been modified. The thousand potato plants in Eernshaven were planted in the middle of April and were scheduled to be harvested in the middle of October.
In July of 2003, a similar action against Avebe took place when unknown people pulled GM potatoes out of the ground in Marknesse.
July 3: Transgènics Fora! Crush Genetically Modified Field in Spain
“THE LOST TIME IN INVESTIGATION IS GAINED TIME FOR THE CONSCIENCE”
People from all over Catalonia arrived at Gimenells, responding to a call by the Plataforma Transgènics Fora! to stop a GM wheat field experiment and declare Cataloniaa GMO-free zone. Apparently, a public crop pulling/ festival of destruction took place, but we’ve been unable to obtain any more details than that.
July 26: GM Actions Reignite in France
France’s most notorious anti-GM campaigner, Jose Bovè, and up to 1,500 other saboteurs tore up a field of experimental maize, launching a new wave of actions against trials of transgenic corn. Bovè risks returning to prison for up to five years, just a year after his last stretch, and could face a $75,000 fine for his participation in this action.
About 15 cops watched the crop removal take place in Haute-Garonne, south of Toulouse, but were under orders to only monitor the event. Pigs took down the identities of some of the participants and took photos after warning organizers that the information would be forwarded to the Haute-Garonne region’s prosecutor.
Bovè said the action was motivated by the government’s “deafness” on GM crops, warning that this crop pulling was just the beginning.
Failure to Appear at the Trial: Reclaiming Franz Kafka for Anarchy
The Literature of Franz Kafka
cannot be reduced to a political doctrine of any kind, yet a libertarian sensibility is inscribed into the heart of all his novels, which can be read as darkly comic parables (or even prophecies) on the nightmare of modern bureaucracy wedded to the chilling madness of totalitarianism. When Kafka speaks to us of the STATE, it is in the form of “administration” or “justice” as an impersonal system of domination, which crushes, suffocates, or kills individuals. One of the most important ideas suggested by Kafka’s work, bearing an obvious relationship to anarchy, is the alienated, oppressive and absurd nature of the “normal” legal and constitutional state, the impenetrable and unintelligible system where unfreedom prevails.
It’s no accident that the word and concept “Kafkaesque” has taken hold in this society’s vocabulary, for in his uncanny writing Kafka succeeds in capturing an existential condition unique to modernity and for which “social scientists” did not yet have a term: the dehumanizing effect of a reified bureaucratic apparatus which undoubtedly constitutes one of the most characteristic and defining phenomena of techno-industrial civilization. In the internal landscape of Kafka’s political allegories, a profound insight is applied into the way the bureaucratic machine operates like a blind, self-replicating network of gears in which the relations between individuals become an abstract, independent object. This is one of the most revolutionary, topical and lucid aspects of Kafka’s extraordinary and terrifying prose.
Editors, critics, and biographers have made available (in numerous languages) just about every traceable manuscript and scrap of information related to Kafka. Innumerable interpretations of Kafka’s dense, allegory-laden writing (symbolic, Oedipal, Freudian, existential, post-modern) are easily found by those with an interest in the subject, but the central theme of his novels and short stories – “depersonalization” and an anonymous, administrative Control Network – make decoding the obscure depths of meaning in Kafka’s literature a worthwhile and relevant mental exercise for anarchists (particularly anti-civilization anarchists).
And in fact, recent biographies have unearthed evidence that Kafka’s involvement with the anarchist movement of his time was more direct than ever previously suspected.
Kafka as Romantic Anarchist
“If one is inquiring into Kafka’s political leanings, it is, in fact, misleading to think in terms of the usual antithesis between left and right. The appropriate context would be the ideology which Michael Lowy has labeled “romantic anticapitalism”, though “anti-industrialism” might be more accurate, since as a general outlook, it transcended the opposition of left and right.”
-From Kafka, Judaism, Politics and Literature by R. Robertson
Kafka’s interest in the concept of anarchism (also known as “libertarian socialism” in the early 1900’s) began with his friendship with the Czech anarchist, Michal Mares, who invited Kafka to several anarchist meetings and demonstrations. Mares recounts Kafka’s attendance at these gatherings and his interest in the ideas of anarchists such as Peter Kropotkin and Michael Bakunin, in which a critique of modern capitalism is presented as a rejection of institutionalized politics in favor of a society based on a community level without any intervening administrative structures. But Kafka’s “anarchism” manifested itself as an anti-socialist critique of bureaucracy based on his own experiences with the Workers Accident Insurance Institute where he worked as a lawyer. Kafka’s skeptical attitude towards the “organized labor” movement and all political parties and institutions is perhaps best expressed in this description of marching workers from his Diaries: “There are the secretaries, bureaucrats, professional politicians and all the modern sultans for whom they are paving the way to power.”
This statement is typically anarchist because of its emphasis on the authoritarian character of the system and not solely on economic exploitation, as in Marxism. This critique of bureaucracy also links Kafka’s intellectual perspective with that of anarchists such as Gustav Landauer, who had developed a similar critique of socialism. Accounts by three Czech contemporaries document further Kafka’s sympathies for the anarchist struggle and his participation in various libertarian activities. Kafka evidently attended meetings of the “Mlodie Club”, an antimilitarist and anti-clerical group, and in the course of 1910-1912, took part in anarchist conferences on free love and the Paris Commune. Kafka also took part in protests against the death sentence of the Spanish anarchist thinker and educator, Francisco Ferrer, and in 1912, was arrested for protesting the death sentence given to the anarchist Liabetz in Paris.
Kafka’s interest in anarchy is also evident from his readings – he devoured books by Jean Grave, Proudhon, Godwin, Tolstoy, Emma Goldman and Benjamin Tucker and occasionally handed them out as gifts. Max Brod, Kafka’s main biographer, describes him as a “metaphysical anarchist not much given to party politics” – a definition that seems very much on the mark. For while Kafka may have had ties to the Prague libertarian underground, he was never a “joiner” and the anarchist inspiration that runs through Kafka’s novels was not the product of any political doctrine but originated from a state of mind and critical sensibility whose principal weapon is irony and humor, that black humor which surrealist Andre Breton called “a supreme revolt of the spirit.”
Kafka on Capitalism and the State
“Capitalism is a system of relations of dependence where everything is arranged hierarchically and everything is in chains.”
– Franz Kafka
In the gruesome dreamscape of Kafka’s painfully powerful literary technique, the towering edifices of modernity plaster a horrid uniformity on every facet of the environment – and every facet of the environment becomes an element of the individual’s imprisonment. The sadism and brutality that underpins the system is drained of all justification by Kafka’s armory of radical metaphors, which portray the market hegemony of Capital as a masked institution of rotating deception, a claustrophobic, alien power structure lined with mysterious filing cabinets… where every corridor seems to go on forever. Capitalism is represented as a society trying to merge all its citizens in a bland, numerical hierarchy, it’s massive technocracy dwarfing the lives of the “well-adjusted” workers – who have had their souls ripped out and are hemmed in by only vaguely understandable social roles.
Kafka’s master treatise on Capital’s commodification of life would have to be his magnificent short novel, The Metamorphosis, in which Gregor Samsa, a lowly traveling salesman (and sole bread winner for the Samsa family) wakes up one morning to find himself transformed into a giant insect. Gregor is so concerned about the financial implications his metamorphosis will have that nearly all thoughts of himself are pushed from his mind as he begins to formulate strategies of adaptation to capitalism’s demands. When he is completely unfit to leave his room and reenter the harsh competitive world, Gregor still wants nothing more than to make it to work! He is a slave to time, painstakingly “living” his days in accordance with train and bus schedules.
Gregor’s transformation is viewed more as an economic tragedy than a personal one. Now unable to make money and support the family, Gregor becomes completely insignificant. A drain on his family’s income and resources, an unproductive member of the capitalist system, Gregor is of no monetary use to society and is thus viewed (like many insects) with disgust. In Kafka’s “paranoid” subjective cosmology, the human being is reduced to the condition of a wind-up mannequin, a macabre caricature of a free individual. A system of identification, classification and observation has produced an endless procession of clones – all dressed the same, performing virtually identical tasks, and thinking the same thoughts – linked together without the faintest thread of historical memory. As the proletariat clones beget proletariat Copies of themselves, the original subject’s identity is fragmented even more and lost to a multiplicity of disconnected, irreconcilable social roles.
A Neck in the Noose
“Kafka had only one problem, that of organization. What he grasped was our anguish before the ant-hill state, the way that people themselves are alienated by the forms of their common existence.”
– Bertolt Brecht
Like his friends among the Czech anarchists, Kafka seemed to consider every form of state, and the state as such, to be an authoritarian and liberticidal apparatus founded on lies. Kafka’s blackest (and arguably, his most important) novel, The Trial, turns the law into a cryptic metaphor of the world order, where the myriad masks of officialdom take on the (non) appearance of an ever-present supervisor, and mental torture and mind-scrambling are the routine tools of authority. The law is invisible, yet invincible.
Charges are never laid; defense is banned; bureaucracy is all-enveloping; the judges unknown and ranked in near infinite hierarchy. With its eerie shadows, it’s unseen tormenter, and its aura of voyeurism, The Trial has the quality of a modern nightmare where the main character is the sinister State machine itself.
In Kafka’s The Trial, the nature, meaning and function of the law all remain mysterious; it is a labyrinth from which there is no escape. Indeed, the law may even be imaginary. There is no certainty. Yet, as a supreme authority, it paradoxically embodies justice, truth, knowledge and power, while its operatives combine the methods of a Total State with almost supernatural forces. The novel’s protagonist, Joseph K., cannot fathom the complexity of this impenetrable chain of command, which scrutinizes and manipulates his every move. The State is everywhere and nowhere and just like the piped muzak in a supermarket, you cannot switch it off!
Despite their hapless, petty and sordid characters, the bureaucrats in The Trial are only cogs in this abstract, paternalistic machine. Inasmuch as this is what the novel explores, a great deal of its significance gets lost in translation. In particular, the title of the book is misleading, for although the English “trial” has more than one meaning, the connotations of the word are different from those of the German one. A more exact translation of Der Prozess, would be “procedure” but which (in German, the language Kafka wrote in) also has undertones of “entanglement” and even “muddle”. Joseph K.’s trial is thus an in-depth study of the grotesque turmoil of getting hopelessly entangled in the System’s “process”.
In the Empty Courtroom
Kafka’s critique of the State touches upon several issues that are of vital significance to anarchists. One is that the inner workings of the State are controlled by procedures which remain shadowy even to those carrying out its orders. Another is that the autonomous, mechanical bureaucratic system is being transformed into an end-in-itself. A passage from Kafka’s novel The Castle is exceptionally illuminating in this regard:
“One might say that the administrative organism could no longer put up with the strain and irritation it had to endure for years because of dealing with the same trivial business and that it has begun to pass sentence on itself, bypassing the functionaries.”
As the economic and political systems of the world are now locked into one vast coalescing governing system, we can see that Kafka was discussing the pattern of the future in his writing, the swallowing up of humanity by an enigmatic, unyielding bureaucratic process. This monstrous sovereign structure has now attained an almost unqualified supremacy over the lives of its subordinates, reproducing itself even in revolutionary movements and coercing global obedience to it’s own inscrutable logic, rationalism and framework.
As long as this system remains abstruse and incomprehensible to anarchists, its omnipotence is assured. Kafka’s writing is subversive in that it reveals power structures hidden within power structures, implying that these power structures can be targeted and overcome if they are first understood. Anarchists need to demystify the state and its seemingly unbounded control over us, so that we can begin shattering this old order to pieces!
Anarchist Resistance From Around the World
“Perhaps the sacrifice of the present will turn out to be the last stage of a rite that has maimed humanity since its beginnings. Our every moment crumbles into bits and pieces of past and future. We never really give ourselves over completely to what we are doing, except perhaps in orgasm. Our present is grounded in what we are going to do later and in what we have just done, with the result that it always bears the stamp of unpleasure. In collective as well as individual history, the cult of the past and the cult of the future are equally reactionary. Everything which has to be built has to be built in the present. According to a popular belief, the drowning man relives his whole life in the instant of his death. For my part I am convinced that we have intense flashes of lucidity which distill and remake our entire lives. Future and past are docile pawns of history which merely cover up the sacrifice of the present. I want to exchange nothing – not for a thing, not for the past, not for the future. I want to live intensely, for myself, grasping every pleasure firm in the knowledge that what is radically good for me will be good for everyone. And above all I would promote this one watchword: ‘Act as though there were no tomorrow’.”
- Raoul Vaneigem, The Revolution of Everyday Life
June 10, Sant’ Anastasia (Italy):
The local electoral office of the rightwing National Alliance party was broken into and trashed, just one day after a National Alliance party rally was bombed in Bologna.
June 10, Derry (N. Ireland):
Young people engaged in two days of rioting against local and European Union elections, attacking police with paintbombs and gasoline firebombs, cutting down a tree to barricade a street and smashing the windows of a polling station. The mayor of Londonberry – a newly-elected Sinn Fein party member named Gerry O’Hrea – said that the petrol bombers who unleashed a wave of autonomous “anti-election” violence as European election polling ended were provoked by a heavy police presence, but still went on to condemn the anti-statist disturbances, saying that they “had become like a ritual in the city during election time.”
Up to 50 incendiary devices and 16 paint bombs were thrown at Irish security forces and electoral workers during the rioting. Electoral officers and ballot boxes had to be escorted from polling stations in the Shantallow and Ballymagroarty districts of the city when they were attacked. Petrol bombs were also thrown in the Creagan area at pigs as they removed boxes from polling stations. In another incident an electoral officer was showered with glass when a voting center in the Carnhill area was attacked. The sell-out politicians of Sinn Fein insisted that private security firms should be brought in to “normalize” the election process.
June 12, Italy: Anarchists Explode Another Bomb Outside Forza Italia Party’s Sardinia Headquarters
Another homemade bomb exploded outside the Sardinia headquarters of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia party just before dawn, causing no injuries. Police claim to have arrested three members of the local “Frain” anarchist group who were observed planting the bomb outside the party headquarters just hours before voting was to begin in Italy’s EU parliamentary elections. The three arrested anarchists were taken to the police station to appear before judges, where (it’s claimed) they’re already well known to the forces of law and order.
June 12, Russia: Anarchists Tag US Embassy in Moscow – “Free Jeff Luers!”
Reprinted below is from a press release put out by the Anarchist Black Cross in relation to this action:
“Yesterday evening a group of anarchists in Moscow wrote “Free Jeff Luers!” with huge letters on the wall of the US Embassy in Moscow. Protesting this way against imperial “justice” radical activists gave moral support to their comrade Jeffrey Luers. All participants of the action successfully escaped so security of one of the tightest guarded buildings in Moscow was put in shame.
June marks the beginning of the fifth year of imprisonment for our friend Jeff “Free” Luers, held captive bythe US State. Sentenced to 22 years and 4 months for burning three ecologically harmful Sport Utility Vehicles (SUVs) at Romania Chevrolet in Eugene, USA, Jeff has continued to be active in prison and fight back with his words and inspiration…
…Today, supporters of Free are organizing actions in at least 26 cities of Australia, Brasilia, Canada, Finland, Ireland, Portugal, Russia, the UK and USA.
WE DEMAND THE IMMEDIATE RELEASE OF FREE, WHOSE ACT MAY NOT BE CONSIDERED AS A CRIME, BUT AS AN ACT AGAINST CORPORATE MADNESS!”
June 15-16, Italy:
Between June 7 and 9, six Italian anarchists from the “Silvestre” group (who publish the radical anti-civilization newspaper Terra Selvaggia) were arrested and charged with “criminal conspiracy and preparing explosives”, among other charges. On the night of June 15-16 in Milan, Italy, a cellular telephone tower on top of an auto body shop was set on fire. Words of solidarity for “Free and Silvestre” were left on the walls.
June 21, Burgos (Spain):
Anarchists broke the windows of the Italian consulate and spray-painted messages on its walls in solidarity with Italian anarchists who were recently arrested.
June 28, Istanbul (Turkey): NATO Protestors Throw Firebombs at Police.
Hundreds of anarchists hurled firebombs and stones at police as they tried to reach the conference center where NATO leaders were meeting. Police used tear gas and water cannons to quell the contemptuous crowd and dozens were injured. Hours later, a concussion grenade went off in front of a building used by the Defense Ministry in Ankara, shattering some windows but causing no injuries.
The clashes in Istanbul took place about two miles from a barricaded zone in the city center where the NATO leaders including President Bush, British Prime Minister Tony Blair, and French President Jacques Chirac were meeting. Twenty-six pigs and about 20 civilians were injured in the protest.
In the most violent confrontation, in Istanbul’s Okmeydani neighborhood, about 2000 pissed-off demonstrators (including a significant number of anarchists) flipped cars over and hurled firebombs at police. Another crowd of dissidents gathered nearby and threw rocks at pigs who were attempting to use pepper spray to disperse the mob. An armored personnel carrier moved through the street where small fires burned and tempers raged. The streets of Okmeydani were full of barricades, most brandishing black flags.
The Turkish anarchist group “Anaristanbul” played a huge role in instigating the most intense street actions of the NATO summit, which occurred between June 16-28, but their imaginative and disruptive activities actually began three weeks earlier and indeed, encompassed the entire month of June. In late May, “Anaristanbul” called for mass revolt against the global murderers of NATO, issuing a statement that said, “You don’t have to watch this horror movie! The Istanbul streets are yours!” In the early June heat, “Anaristanbul” decorated the walls of universities and almost every corner of Istanbul with more then ten thousand posters and stickers.
To intensify the impact of their actions, “Anaristanbul” accelerated their efforts and between June 15 and 26 opened anarchist propaganda stands at three central points in Istanbul, and distributed almost fifty thousand pamphlets. This undoubtedly contributed greatly to the phenomenal turnout in the streets on June 27 when 500 anarchists marched with banners in eight different languages, spreading the anti-NATO struggle through mainstream Turkish society.
And finally, the earth herself registered her complaints about the NATO meeting, when in early July Turkey was hit with an earthquake of 5.0 magnitude.
June 28, Canada: Numerous Anti-Electoral Actions
On June 28, the day of Canada’s national elections, the turnout (participation) rate of registered and eligible voters dropped to 60.3 percent, the lowest since 1898. On the other hand, theft and destruction of election signs was rampant in British Columbia and across Canada. In Abbotsford, several election signs were even set on fire. In Victoria, British Columbia (BC), it was open season on all politicians, as even the Green Party came under attack!
One Green Party candidate complained to the media about being unfairly “victimized” saying “I’ve talked to anarchists who will knock down anybody’s signs…I definitely don’t condone it.” The Green Party in BC got a personal taste of anarchist rage on May 23, when a window was smashed at their Victoria office (perhaps adding to their persecution complex?). And, of course, there was an attack on Vancouver Liberal Hedy Fry’s office at the end of May that garnered lots of media attention.
In addition to all this, Port Moody-Port Coquittam Conservative MP, James Moore, had his office broken into and vandalized. And over the June 19-20 weekend, Winnipeg’s Conservative candidate Ron Bruinooge had an office window broken too.
The beauty of actions like these is that they give vent to feelings which cannot be “legally” expressed. Feelings which are too deep and far too human to be expressed through the machine of what people who profit from it choose to call democracy. And above all else, it showed those who attempt to lord over our lives that there are people around who are prepared to disobey!
June 30, Zurich (Switzerland):
Windows were broken on the ground floor of an office connected to the Axpo Corporation, which is the largest electrical energy producer in Switzerland. The words “We will blow you up – Free Marco” were written at the site, in reference to anarchist prisoner Marco Camenisch. The same building used to house the Wolgroth, the largest squat in Zurich in the 1990’s.
July 1, Greece: Pre-Olympics Molotov Attack in Athens
A firebomb was hurled at a Greek ruling party office in an Athens suburb, just hours after the implementation of a billion-Euro security plan to protect the city from attack during the August Olympics. Greece spent a record $1.2 billion on Olympic security, and enlisted the help of NATO and a seven nation advisory group including the United States, Britain, and Israel.
At the heart of the Olympic Security system was a $312 million technological network consisting of infrared and high-resolution cameras, radio communications, and computer networks being set up by a consortium led by San Diego-based Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC). “Concern about Greece’s vulnerability to penetration by international terrorist groups is partly due to the existence of countless points of entry into the country and to its arguably defective border and passport controls,” the Washington-based Congressional Research Service wrote in a report. “Greece has thousands of islands in the Aegean, Ionian, and Mediterranean Seas.”
In addition to its own domestic mix of anarchists and other radical groups, Greece sits close to many of the world’s hot spots including Iraq, Chechnya, Afghanistan, and the Balkans.
Early July: Late Breaking News from Poland
We received word in early July from comrades involved with the anarchist paper Warhead (PO Box 43, 15-662 Bialystok 26, Poland) that over 15 anarchist groups and initiatives took part in an aggressive sabotage of the EU elections in June. In many cities anti-election posters and graffiti covered the streets and numerous election billboards across the country were destroyed or damaged by slogans and paint bombs.
July 11, San Foca (Italy):
A group of anarchists attacked the “Regina Pacis” immigrant detention center, encouraging the detained to revolt, breaking windows and using a smoke bomb to create favorable conditions for escape. There was a scuffle between anarchists and the cops and one anarchist was arrested. Inside the detention center, immigrants smashed security cameras and other property.
July 15, Milan (Italy):
A gas canister explosive damaged a branch of Bank Intesa, which manages the accounts of the “Regina Pacis” immigrant detention center in San Foca. On June 28, a similar unexploded device was discovered at another Intesa branch in Milan. On March 17, an Intesa automatic teller machine was set on fire in Maglie, Italy. These actions reveal a clear pattern of repeated attacks on the scum who finance immigration detention/deportation centers!
July 15-19, Paris (France):
On the night of July 15-16, two windows of the Italian “San Paolo” bank on Alesia Street, and four windows of the same bank in the public square of Catalogne were smashed by anarchists. On the night of July 18-19, the display window of an Italian agency on Rochebrune Street met the same fate. These actions were claimed in solidarity with those currently being prosecuted in relation to the revolt against the G8 in Genoa, Italy (July 2001), and anarchists recently arrested and imprisoned in Pisa and Leece, Italy.
July 18, Saliceto di Cadeo (Italy): Cell Phone Towers Destroyed
Two cell phone towers were blown up in the night. The spraypainted messages “Carlo Lives” and “Free Marco” were found at the site, in reference to Carlo Guiliani, who was killed by police in Genoa during the revolt against the G8 in July of 2001, and Marco Camenisch, an anarchist prisoner recently sentenced to an additional 17 years for the murder of a Swiss border guard in 1989.
July 22, Athens (Greece):
In the early morning hours, firebombs were thrown at the Culture Ministry building and the nearby headquarters of the Cultural Olympiad, causing slight structural damage. During an anti-Olympics demonstration that night, anarchists threw a firebomb at the Interior Ministry building and spray-painted the columns of surveillance cameras set up for the Olympics. There were no arrests.
July 23, Milan (Italy):
Two gas canisters exploded at an Intesa Bank branch. Intesa manages the accounts of the “Regina Pacis” immigrant detention center in San Foca. A message was found in the area expressing solidarity with the six anarchists recently arrested in Rovereto. It also said, “Fire to the CPT [Centre for Temporary Detention]. Fire to every jail.”
July 25-26, Paris (France):
The display windows of an Italian Alfa-Romeo/Fiat car dealership on the Avenue du General Bizot were smashed in solidarity with Italian anarchists currently facing charges for the revolt against the G8 in Genoa (July 2001).
July 26, Paris (France):
Windows were smashed at the office of Quillery Fitial East Batiment, a group belonging to Eiffage Construction, which has recently built several new prisons throughout France.
July 29, Santiago (Chile):
An anarchist contingent used a trade union march to present a revolutionary alternative to empty rhetoric and reformist politics, spray-painting anarchist slogans over advertisements, interrupting the speech of the top union bureaucrat, and throwing stones and firebombs at riot police. At the same time, anonymous groups were raising barricades in the streets at several points throughout the city. The CUT trade union federation of course denounced the barricades.
August 1, Tasmania (Australia): Anarchists Attack Seven Schools
Security has been tightened at seven suburban primary schools following a $20,000 weekend vandalism spree. The Ivermay, Youngtown, Waverley, Rocherlea, Summerdale, Mowbray Heights, and Punchbowl primary schools were all hit in attacks that police say were coordinated and included extensive and similar graffiti on walls, smashed windows and attempts to set fire to the buildings.
At Punchbowl Primary, school buildings and sheds were sprayed with black paint including anarchist symbols and the words, “we’re good”. Condemning the attacks, Education Minister Paula Wriedt vowed that additional security measures would be put into place to protect department property. “Schools are a valuable community asset representing a cash investment of millions of dollars, but, more importantly, they are an investment for the future of our children,” said the career child abuser Wriedt. Evidently, the practice of burning down schools is so common in Victoria that they don’t even bother with sprinkler systems anymore – insurance is cheaper!
August 4, Spain: Squatters Riot in Barcelona
The day after the eviction of the L’Hamsa autonomous zone, squatters smashed the windows of banks and real estate agencies, set dumpsters on fire in the streets, and spraypainted slogans on walls. A police vehicle was attacked with rocks and a Molotov, forcing pigs to abandon ship! Two pigs and a journalist were injured.
August 15, Rome (Italy): Anarchists Linked to Plot to Attack High-Speed Train
Italian police claim to have foiled an attempt to sabotage a high-speed train linking the northern cities of Bologna and Florence on one of the “busiest” days of the year. Anarchist tracts claiming credit for the attack were found nearby, although no one has been identified or arrested as a possible suspect.
The saboteurs suspended large fishing hooks attached to two steel cables at the entrance of a tunnel in such a way that an approaching engine would rip away the lines providing electrical power to the train. The conductor of a Milan-Rome train traveling on a parallel track noticed and reported the suspicious cables, averting the action, according to a regional paper that published a photo of the hooks—typically used to hunt octopus. Investigators speculate that the saboteurs were attempting to create a high-profile disturbance by halting rail traffic along one of the busiest corridors in Italy on a day when most of the country was on vacation.
Several Italian papers reported that this particular sabotage technique is described in an anarchist manual entitled, “To Each His Own: 1,000 Ways to Sabotage the World”.
August 20, Athens (Greece): Minced Meat and Syringe Bomb Latest Weapon of Anarchists!
Anarchists claimed responsibility for a bomb threat at the Greek Athletic Federation’s headquarters in Athens, but police said they only found a fake bomb filled with minced meat and syringes. Bomb disposal experts evacuated and searched the central Athens building and cordoned off nearby roads after an anonymous call to a local newspaper.
In a statement sent to the Athens News Agency, the little-known “Anarchist Intervention” revealed that its bomb threat was a hoax, explaining that “commercialized sports serving records, profits, sponsors, and medals at any cost cannot but be covered in anabolics.” In related news, two Greek anarchists were arrested on August 21 on charges that they attacked and slightly injured four Spanish journalists in Athens to cover the Olympics.
August 27, Athens (Greece):
During a march of more than 1,000 people against US Secretary of State Colin Powell’s intention to attend the Olympics, a small contingent of maskedup anarchists smashed surveillance cameras, spray-painted the slogan “Against the Olympics of Repression” on a billboard, broke bank windows, and attacked the offices of the Association of Greek Industrialists. When riot police blocked an attempt to march to the U.S. Consulate they were assaulted with bottles, placards, and rocks.
“Powell’s visit here is a political provocation of the first order: 94% of Greeks are against the war in Iraq,” said an anonymous rioter. Powell wound up canceling his trip to Athens partly because of concern that his presence (and the riots that were almost guaranteed) would disrupt the closing ceremony at the Olympics.
August 29, Athens (Greece):
As the Olympics came to an end, about 100 anarchists rioted in a tourist district at 3:00 in the morning, attacking a bank and a McDonalds. When riot police arrived they were attacked with rocks and firebombs. At least six people were arrested.
September 11, Athens (Greece):
More than 2,000 immigrants, anarchists, and members of antiracist groups marched through Athens after an Albanian man was stabbed to death following a World Cup soccer qualifier. Gramoz Palushi, 20, was killed during fighting that broke out between Greek soccer fans and Albanian immigrants, hours after Albania upset European champion, Greece, 2-1 in Tirona. At the end of the rally, a handful of hooded anarchists hurled Molotov cocktails in Omonia Square at riot police. Anarchists also spray-painted slogans (many in Albanian) in the central streets, damaged many security cameras, and the windows of one bank. One pig lost his motorbike to the flames of an exploding firebomb.
Some vague terms long in need of definition, by Funeral Shannon
Peace: Peace isn’t the opposite of violence. Peace is the place encircled by violence, protected by it. In a fucked up world an equilibrium of perpetual creation and destruction is pulled apart and catalyzed in regions of fear and pain and regions of suffocating boredom. If the rulers came out on top of the capitalist equation it would almost make sense, but this is a lie. Every step of the hierarchy owes only its slavery to the next rung of the ladder. At the top is a scarecrow filled with ideologies instead of straw. God. Science. Progress. Peace.
Justice: Justice administered by the Capitalists. Justice administered by the Activists. They are identical. They always fall short of their promise because they seek only to implement fairness by measuring the actions of others against an objective standard that is outside us and above us. The problem isn’t that people aren’t measuring up to standards of good and evil. It’s that standards, institutions, moralities serve the needs of ideas, not the needs of the living.
Equality: Should we start counting all our teeth, to make sure we have the same number? Or count up how many oppressed demographics we fit into? Equality is only relevant to things with a numerical value. We live in a world of unimaginable uniqueness, no experience equals another. Capitalism and the Industrial world require that we put everything into category after category, give everything a numerical value. These values exist in the space where our relationships used to live. Where our emotion used to dwell.
Jacques Camatte And the New Politics of Liberation, by Dave Antagonism
During the final decade of the 20th century and into the early years of the 21st, the nature of radical politics fundamentally changed. The hegemonic currents, Marxist-Leninism and social democracy, suffered from the sea-change of neo-liberalism, and had difficulty grappling with the new currents of opposition embodied in such things as the Zapatista Uprising, radical ecology and the anti-summit movements. On a deeper level many of the fundamentals of traditional Leftism had been unsettled intellectually by post-modernism and by the changes of social organization that accompanied the growth of post-Fordist capitalism, not to mention the fall of the USSR and the regimes of Eastern Europe. This crisis of the Left was quickly interpreted as the universal victory of Liberal Democracy. However it is now clear that social antagonism, often of a revolutionary anti-capitalist nature, has not departed; rather it is re-asserting itself in ways that seem unintelligible to traditional political analysis.
One of these new currents is green anarchy/anarcho-primitivism (GA/AP). Consciously anti-ideological, it is rather a broad church of numerous tendencies and trajectories united by an anarchic politics that details a critique that goes beyond opposition to the state and market to a larger critique of civilization and its totality. Its roots are also broad, coming out of elements of radical ecological politics (especially around groups like Earth First! UK and the Animal Liberation Front), various counter-cultures and the ultra-left. It is the purpose of this essay to investigate one of the ultra-left authors that GA/AP has been deeply influenced by, yet who remains largely ignored by wider audiences: Jacques Camatte.
Camatte is a difficult figure for English speaking readers. His political origins are deeply immersed in the ultra-left, yet his political trajectory goes beyond them. The ultra-left is largely ignored in English speaking countries except as a foil to Lenin’s polemics or as a European curiosity. Camatte comes out of the Italian Communist Left (though he is French) and like them shares a deep engagement with Marx at the level of high theory that can be bewildering to the uninitiated. Whilst he was an essayist for nearly 40 years (mostly published in the journal Invariance) there exists only one English-language collection of his essays: This World We Must Leave & Other Essays, published by the eclectic label Autonomedia (home of many of the more serious works of contemporary radicalism.)
Camatte, however, has had some strong influences amongst (GA/AP). Later issues of Do or Die, the pre-eminent theoretical journal of GA/AP in the UK, with a wide readership in the broader ecology movement, cite him on a number of occasions. David Watson, prominent theoretician of Fifth Estate, the publication that in many ways was the first to articulate a thorough GA/AP praxis in the USA, shows an engagement with Camatte. Camatte’s writings on organization profoundly influenced the development of the publication Green Anarchist. More broadly though, Camatte charts the same political territory as GA/AP in a sophisticated way. He carries many of the same strengths and weaknesses of the broader current(s) and is thus useful for constructing a (post)-modern anarchic practice.
However, Camatte is no anarchist himself. Like the ultra-left his vision is communist and maintains a deep engagement with Marx. He is (like Marx maybe?) not, though, a “Marxist”. Camatte writes, “We (the journal Invariance) integrate Marx’s work (since he especially is concerned) but we do not pose a Marxist theory nor our own theory”. This is not merely semantics but rather evidence of Camatte’s attempts to build praxis through the refusal of ideology a tendency he shares with many radicals that emerged out of the near-revolution of May 68. However, his reliance on Marx would make him unacceptable for many anarchists for whom Marx is anathema. Camatte’s vision of communism has, of course, nothing to do with the statist regimes of the USSR et al. Indeed, Camatte affirms a vision of communism that is not only anti-statist but one that connects with deeper associations of gemeinwesen. To quote:
“Communism puts an end to castes, classes and the division of labor (onto which was grafted the movement of value, which in turn animates and exalts this division). Communism is first of all union. It is not domination of nature but reconciliation, and thus regeneration of nature: human beings no longer treat nature simply as an object for their development, as a useful thing, but as a subject (not in the philosophic sense) not separate from them if only because nature is in them. The naturalization of man and the humanization of nature (Marx) are realized: the dialectic of subject and object ends.”
This vision of communism is obviously libertarian, and one could argue goes beyond many anarchist visions such as anarcho-syndicalism, which only poses the self-management of the division of labor as an alternative, and glorifies production and work.
This essay will grapple with two of Camatte’s key theoretical themes: the despotism of capital and the domestication of humanity. Both arguably chart the course of social relations under the conditions of the real subsumption of society by capital and are key themes (even if they are not expressed in the same language) of much of the GA/AP critique.
The Despotism of Capital
Camatte asserts that we have entered a particular period of capitalism, which he calls the “Despotism of Capital”. This is a situation in which capital has created and forms a “material community” and a “human community”: in other words it is the condition of real subsumption: a situation where human activity takes place in the interior of capital. Previously we could typify capitalism as a “nomadic war machine” (Deuleze & Guattari). That is, an expansive apparatus or an ensemble(s) of apparatuses, that attempts to de/reterritorialise, reform and capture people, space and activity. This war machine had a combative frontier and thus there is something beyond it: an exterior. Different discourses place radical potential in this exterior, seeing in it both a boundary and a negating force to capital. This exterior was conceptualized as a number of social forces: the industrial proletariat (Marxism); the third world peasantry (Maoism); or students and marginal groups (the New Left), for example.
Camatte theorizes a different situation, one in which no substantial boundaries none that can not be overcome to capital exist. Indeed, it is not the case that capital dominates society, as some kind of lording power, but rather that it itself constitutes the entire community. This situation of the Despotism of Capital is typified by a number of conditions. One is that is has undergone a process of “autonomization.” This is a situation in which the various elements of capital production, exchange, rent, the state etc., increasingly fuse together and escape any previous human constrictions on their development. The second process is one of anthropomorphosis. Here capital transforms itself into nothing more than human behavior and human behavior into nothing more than capital. This happens through capital’s tendency to ultimately head towards a state of representation and thus able to mediate all human interactions, and comprise all of humanity’s relationships within its terrain.
Almost intuitively it is possible to see the merit in Camatte’s assertions. Human life seems to have taken on an increasingly massified form as it is constructed from cradle to grave within the dominant institutions of capital. Lived experience takes place on the terrain of school, hospital, work place, Internet, shopping center, movie theatre etc, i.e. within all the realms of the many hierarchies of capital, so much so that life becomes defined within the terms of these hierarchies. The institutions themselves become increasingly fused and unified into a whole. Moments of production and consumption, of work and leisure, of public and private seem to move to a more or less undifferentiated experience. Especially if we consider the advent and application of various digital and cybernetic technologies, we see a tendency toward the blending and standardization of daily life. (Note: Interestingly, part of this process is the invention of consumer difference. Niche markets are marshaled out of the memory of uniqueness or the cultural singularity of a previous time, what Camatte calls “Echoes of the Past”, that both feeds a desire for otherness yet negates its possibility). Subjectivity, whether it be as a student, mother, worker (all three at the same time?) or whatever, seems to be nothing more than a deeply personalized fetishization of the imagery of capital. For Camatte, capital reintroduces subjectivity. For it is through the production of individual identities that are understandable only through the framework of capital, that the entirety of human activity can be subsumed within exploitative relationships.
Continuing on the theme of fetishism and representation, it is now commonplace to talk of the total mediation of life through the representations of capital. Surely this is Baudrillard’s simulacrum or Debord’s spectacle! All of them allude to the situation of total commodity fetishism, where the fetishism has totally outstripped the realness of any use-value the commodity once possessed. It seems these observations are so obvious to be almost banal. It is worth stressing, though, what this means for the formation of social relationships. The situation of (almost) total domination of representation/fetishism is one where there is a disappearing ability to have an unmediated relationship with anything. All relationships tend towards their conception, formation and end within the realm of capital. To quote:
“As a result of this process of anthro-pomorphosis, capital becomes in turn a spectacle. It assimilates to itself and incorporates in itself all qualities of men, all their activities, without ever being one of them, otherwise it would deny itself by substantialization, inhibition of its life process.”
The Despotism of Capital has not emerged out of nowhere. Camatte cites two major reasons for its trajectory: the massive growth in productive forces and the effect of various pre-capitalist presuppositions of capital. Classical Marxism believed that whilst capitalism would bring into being immense productive forces, it would at one point reach “decadence” and become a hindrance to their development. It would be up to socialism and then communism to continue the development of productive forces. Camatte thoroughly rejects this, arguing that the development of productive forces has been crucial in establishing the despotism of capital and the removal of barriers and resistance to its power. It is this that has allowed capital to constitute itself as a community. As Camatte writes “ What he (Marx) presented as the project of communism was realized by capital”. Camatte rejects this, seeing that since capital and the productive forces have grown together smoothly, the social relationships and the productive forces are united in a singular “totality”. Since capital enforces its despotism by means of “objects and things that are invested with new modes of being,” the expansion of productive forces is the expansion of the prison in which the human finds himself or herself individually and collectively. If we take into account the division of labor and hierarchy that are inherent in industrial (and now cybernetic/digital) production, expansion of the productive forces across the social terrain to the extent that they constitute in entirety the social terrain, means vast expansion of atomization, massification and submission.
The expansion of productive forces has led to the dominance of ideologies that further deepen the despotism of capital. One of these is science. Camatte rejects the standard conception of science being a positive revolutionary force, decrying it as the “goddess and servant of capital”. For Camatte, science is nothing more than a “study of mechanism of adaptation that will assimilate human beings and nature into the structure of capital”. This is obviously quite a break from traditional Marxism, and more broadly, standard leftist thought which sides with the entire project of modernity (of which science is a part) against pre-existing religious/mystic consciousness. Whilst Camatte (unlike many who critique science) has no time for the revival of new-age mysticism, he maintains a particular vitriol for orthodox Marxism’s celebration of science and technology.
For Camatte, Marxism is a “repressive consciousness”. Rather than being a key to revolutionary praxis it “seems to be the authentic consciousness of the capitalist mode of production.” This is because Marxism has always posited the development of productive forces as the sine qua non of liberation, yet it has been the development of productive forces that has rendered powerless the rebellion of the classical proletariat. Marxism has thus functioned as an intellectual justification for the development of techno-scientific rationality and the massive expansion of industrialization. Indeed, the history of labor movements and national liberation struggles is one in which the struggle against the political control of the bourgeoisie has worked often to actually create and extend the despotism of capital.
Camatte not only sees the power of capital extend across the social body but back and forth in time as well. He emphasizes the continuing importance of the “presuppositions of capital”: the vast inheritance of the trajectory of class society that allows capital to develop. For Camatte “[c]apital is therefore the endpoint of the phenomena of democratization, individualization, and massification, all of which had begun to emerge well before capital had become a determinant element in the society”. To go further:
“These presuppositions are: production and autonomization of the individual, together with a related movement production of private property; production of the state and its autonomization; production of exchange value, which can assume highly developed forms. These elements of presuppositions, which appeared at the time of the Greek polis, are bound up with a representation that justifies the rupture with nature and with the community, the domination of men over animals and plants, and the domination of men over women.”
Whilst Camatte here dates many of these developments with the arrival of the Greek polis (and hence, in a sense, of the ‘West’), his investigation makes him look even further back. Camatte questions Neolithic developments of animal husbandry and the rise of agriculture. He sees in them the rise of the original conception of property and patriarchy and the original rifts in the pre-existing gemeinwessen. Classically, critiques of technology start with the Industrial Revolution. Here Camatte is beginning to develop the critique of capitalism, and thus the emergence of communism as a revolt against civilization.
It must be made clear, however, that Camatte does not see the Despotism of Capital as the triumph of either bourgeois society or of the capitalist ruling class. Indeed, he argues that capital, through its constant need to revolutionize itself, both destroys bourgeois society and all classes including the ruling class, reducing us all to a general universalized proletarianized mass. Camatte argues that both the bourgeoisie and the proletariat emerged with capitalism, but their struggle with each other, carried out on the presuppositions of capital and the unquestioning of productive forces, led to their abolition and the domination of society by capital. It was since proletarian struggle was successfully “mystified” by the categories of capital, when proletarian identity was built around the celebration of its role of “productive laborer”, that proletarian struggles advanced the domination of society by capital.
We can see this in the struggles and demands of the classic labor movements. As opposed to the very earliest movements of the proletarianized (such as the Luddites), which rejected the idea of wage-labor, the classical labor movement celebrated it. Classical labor movements fought for the right to work for the protection of their role within capitalism. This may have seemed justifiable considering the brutality of laisse-faire capitalism. The effect though of mass movements of both left and right (the popular front, fascism, liberal/social democracy, etc) was to add to the creation of the conditions of real subsumption.
The effect of the creation of the community of capital (by, in part, proletarian struggle) was simultaneously the generalization of the proletarian condition and the destruction of the revolutionary specificity of the proletariat. Of course, the universalization of wage-labor/proletarianisation has not meant an equalization of wealth or power under the despotism of capital. Indeed, the current global order has created a proletarianized multitude that is riddled by division. Capital maintains its rule through the imposition of opposed roles (the cop vs. the student, for example) up and down its pyramidal structure.
How true are these claims? If we look back over the history of the labor movement, the proletariat has tended to move further and further towards the interior of capital, and all labor moves towards a condition of proletarianisation. More and more of life takes the appearance of work, and work takes the appearance of life. We have the situation where the condition of wage-labor swells, but labor as a specific antagonistic class disappears. This does not mean the end of struggle it is now conceived on a different basis. Indeed, the simultaneous absorption and generalization of the proletariat leads to the transformation of all into potential antagonists: “because it (communist revolution) won’t be the activity of one class only but of humanity rising up against capital”.
The other side to this claim is that the ruling class, the bourgeoisie, ceases to exist. Capital dismantles bourgeois society with its clear restrictions and norms, because it appears in the way of capital’s total subsumption of daily life. The cultural conflicts of the last 20-something years, the debates on public morality and censorship, etc, have not been between a liberating social force and class society, but rather between capital’s desire for increasing social commodification, and the social structures from whence it emerged. Fixed rigid structures (schools, etc) that were essential to the emergence of capital become interferences in movements and flows that must be (and are) overcome. The neo-liberal offensive has been just this, the transformation of traditional refuges of bourgeois society into the circuitry of capital.
Is this the same as the disappearance of the ruling class? It seems obvious that there exist strata that populate the commanding heights of the global order. But do they truly rule? Are these sections any less dominated and alienated by capital? Whilst ideologically, certain individuals do take on the appearance of feudal Sun Kings depending on the fluctuations of various social discourses their personal existences are not crucial to the continuation of the social order, in the same way a king’s or Pharaoh’s is. Those who are at the top of the ziggurat of capitalism exist totally within social structures and discourses, and are coded by them. Whilst they are in the control tower of society, it is the concretized and embodied mechanism that provides the only possible courses of action. To quote David Watson, “only the circuitry acts”.
Camatte, writing in the 70’s, foresaw the revolution as a looming possibility and the end of capital close at hand. Obviously that was not the case. The neo-liberal offensive that arose as a counter-revolution to the social ferment that Camatte wrote about was an active process that involved planning and coordination. The top stratas of society were increasingly galvanized into acting in a dynamic fashion. Neo-liberalism made the various corporate executives, ideologies, politicians, party leaders, communist party commissars, etc, act like a ruling class even though objectively there may not have actually been one.
The existence of hostile classes is a useful tool to explain various social phenomena. A conscious and coordinated ruling class, enriched with its own autonomy and with the ability to dole out privilege, helps explain why an exploitative society would survive: oppressed peoples would be deliberately held down through repressive mechanisms. The model of the class society is thus that of the conqueror: the rule through force of the core over the periphery. Yet, if we now exist in the community of capital where all human behavior is part of a social wide machinery, a social factory, (Negri, Tronti, et al.) where we are slaves not to people but to the social relationships and discourses that we make up, how does the system survive? If we are our (and each other’s) own manifestation of oppression, why do we not just stop it? How can you explain the continuation of oppression/exploitation once clear, separate classes stop existing?
Camatte explains this phenomena as “domestication”. Indeed, the domestication of humanity and the rise of the despotism of capital are impossible without each other: their existences allow the other to function.
[GA Note: Part II of this essay will appear in our next issue.]
The Nihilist’s Dictionary: 3-Culture, by John Zerzan
Cul-ture n. commonly rendered as the sum of customs, ideas, arts, patterns, etc. of a given society. Civilization is often given as a synonym, reminding us that cultivation – as in domestication – is right in there, too. The Situationists, in 1960, had it that “culture can be defined as the ensemble of means through which society thinks of itself and shows itself to itself.” Getting warmer, Barthes remarked that it is “a machine for showing you desire. To desire, always to desire but never to understand.”
Culture was more respected once, seemingly, something to “live up to.” Now, instead of concern for how we fail culture, the emphasis is on how culture has failed us. Definitely something at work that thwarts us, does not satisfy and this makes itself more evident as we face globally and within us the death of nature. Culture, as the opposite of nature, grows discordant, sours, fades as we strangle in the thinner and thinner air of symbolic activity. High culture or low, palace or hovel, it’s the same prison-house of consciousness; the symbolic as the repressive.
It is inseparable from the birth and continuation of alienation, surviving, as ever, as compensation, a trade of the real for its objectification. Culture embodies the split between wholeness and the parts of the whole turning into domination. Time, language, number, art–cultural impositions that have come to dominate us with lives of their own.
Magazines and journals now teem with articles lamenting the spread of cultural illiteracy and historical amnesia, two conditions that underline a basic dis-ease in society. In our postmodern epoch the faces of fashion range from blank to sullen, as hard drug use, suicide, and emotional disability rates continue to soar. About a year ago I got a ride from Berkeley to Oregon with a U.C. senior and somewhere along the drive I asked her, after talking about the 60’s, among other things, to describe her own generation. She spoke of her co-students in terms of loveless sex, increasing heroin use, and “ a sense of despair masked by consumerism.”
Meanwhile, massive denial continues. In a recent collection of essays on culture, D.J. Enright offers the sage counsel that “the more commonly personal misery and discontent are aired, the more firmly these ills tighten their grip on us.” Since anxiety first sought deliverance via cultural form and expression, in the symbolic approach to authenticity, our condition has probably not been this transparently bankrupt. Robert Harbison’s Deliberate Regression is another work displaying complete ignorance regarding the fundamental emptiness of culture: “the story of how enthusiasm for the primitive and the belief that salvation lies in unlearning came to be a force in almost every field of thought is exceedingly strange.”
Certainly the ruins are there for everyone to see. From exhausted art in the form of the recycled mish-mash of postmodernism, to the poststructuralist technocrats like Lyotard, who finds in data banks “the Encyclopedia of tomorrow…‘nature’ for postmodern man,” including such utterly impotent forms of “opposition” as “micropolitics” and “schizopolitics,” there is little but the obvious symptoms of a general fragmentation and despair. Peter Sloterdijk (Critique of Cynical Reason) points out that cynicism is the cardinal, pervasive outlook, for now the best that negation has to offer.
But the myth of culture will manage to survive as long as our immiseration fails to force us to confront it, and so cynicism will remain as long as we allow culture to remain in lieu of unmediated life.
The Nihilist’s Dictionary was originally a regularly running column by John in Anarchy: A Journal of Desire Armed almost ten years ago. The entire dictionary can be found towards the end of John’s book, Future Primitive (Autonomedia/Anarchy), and in a zine format available from our distro.
Anti-Capitalist and Anti-Colonial Battles
“The unreal unity which the Spectacle proclaims is the mask of the class division on which the real unity of the capitalist mode of production rests. What obliges producers to participate in the construction of the world is also what separates them from it. What brings together men freed of their local and national limitations is also what distances them from one another. What requires the deepening of rationality is also what nourishes the irrationality of hierarchical exploitation and repression. What makes the power of society abstract makes its unfreedom concrete.”
- Guy Debord, Society of the Spectacle
May 9, St. Louis, Missouri: Military Reserve Building Hit in Anti-Bush Action
From the communiqué:
“On May 9, in South St. Louis, a military Reserve building had its front door and windows smashed out with bricks by the Yesterfang Reclamation. This is the second such attack on this building in correlation with a George Bush visit. On May 21 the YR brought resistance to the suburban wasteland of St. Louis’ elite West County by destroying the front windows of a military recruiting center with bricks and chunks of concrete.”
May 28, Chandler, Arizona:
A disgruntled Wal-Mart employee allegedly attacked three managers with a box cutter. Two of the injured managers were treated at a hospital, while the third is expected to recover.
May 31, Vancouver, B.C.: Politicians’ Windows Smashed
Two local politicians had their office windows smashed. The corporate media in Canada speculated that the attack on provincial Liberal Party Lorne Mayencourt’s office was possibly related to his proposed “Safe Street Act” targeting panhandlers, squeegee kids, and squatters. Federal Liberal Hedy Fry said that those who smashed her windows should “go to another country” if they can’t debate politics without resorting to violence. Premier Gordon Campbell also took time out of his busy schedule to denounce the sabotage.
June 8, Santiago (Chile):
Masked-up students burned tires on the street and set a McDonalds restaurant on fire in solidarity with hunger-striking prisoners.
June 9-10, Beiji (Iraq): More Pipeline Attacks Force Cut in Iraqi Power Grid
Saboteurs blew up a key northern oil pipeline, forcing a significant cut to the national power grid as demand for electricity rises with the advent of Iraq’s broiling summer heat. The pipeline blast near Beiji, 155 miles north of Baghdad, was the latest in a series of attacks by insurgents against infrastructure targets, possibly designed to shake public confidence in the new Iraqi government. The attack on the pipeline – which carries fuel to the Beiji power station, one of Iraq’s largest – forced a ten percent cut in the country’s 4,000 megawatt production, Assem Jihad, an oil minister spokesman, told Dow Jones Newswires.
More than a year after the U.S. occupation began, power cuts are common nationwide, in some places topping 16 hours a day. These rising and coordinated attacks on fuel and transmission lines in Iraq hint strongly that insurgents are now targeting major sectors of the industrial infrastructure as part of an overall anti-colonial strategy. An official at the Coalition Provisional Authority said that this pipeline attack had been the latest in a series in the same area and that repairs on the lines had been repeatedly followed by new strikes. The official said that the pipeline also delivered crude oil to at least one major refinery, whose operations had also been affected.
More worrisome to “Coalition” managers than this specific act of sabotage is the pattern of attacks on the electrical grid around the country. A member of the Electricity Ministry estimated that the high-tension lines that are the backbone of the grid have been attacked an average of twice a week recently, and confirmed that his agency was helping to train thousands of Electricity Ministry guards on how to protect and provide security for the more than 10,000 miles of major power lines in Iraq. [Editor’s Note: Good Luck!]
Even before this weekend’s guerrilla strike, the area around the power plant had been the scene of violence, including a drive-by shooting that killed two European engineers and a bomb attack on a police station.
Dr. Saad Shakir Twafig, an engineer who worked on the rehabilitation of the grid in 1991 and now leads a government-owned center in the Iraqi Ministry of Industry that is doing some work at several power plants, said the insurgents’ efforts aimed to “distract the American-backed government. If there is no electricity, no water, whatever, the government will fail,” Twafig said.
June 14, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania:
Three members of the Pennsylvania Army National Guard returned from 10 days of training to find that their vehicles had been vandalized in front of the armory. Three vehicles belonging to other soldiers were also damaged, including stolen CD players and speakers, broken windows and damaged interiors. The soldiers were scheduled to leave July 1 for more training at Fort Bliss, Texas, before heading to Iraq.
June 15, Paris (France): Rebel Electricity Workers Continue to Cut Power!
Electricity workers cut power to the French Prime Minister’s house, occupied electric plants, and marched in cities nationwide to oppose the government’s plans to partially privatize public utilities. Rebel workers pulled the plug on Prime Minister JeanPierre Raffarin’s private home in western France and took down his electric meter. Other disgruntled power workers shut down power at the Bordeaux home of a former premier, Alain Juppe, who now heads President Jacques Chirac’s party, and also targeted several prominent political figures.
In southern Durance, about 50 workers occupied a power plant, shutting down production by one third at a plant in La Rance. While some households were hit by wildcat outages, strikers in a few regions gave electricity away. In Northwestern Saint-Nazaire, they cut rates for families in low-income housing. Rebel workers also hooked up power again for cash-strapped families in the eastern Lorraine region that hadn’t paid their bills.
These acts of defiance follow on the heels of similar actions on June 8, when electrical workers caused power outages at three main line railroad stations in Paris, severely disrupting service. The power cuts caused 250 trains to be canceled or delayed, affecting 500,000 passengers.
June 17, Paris (France): More Electrical Sabotage!
French power workers stepped up their commando-style assaults by cutting electricity to the Eiffel tower and President Chirac’s residence in western Paris. Electricity was also shut down at the presidential Elysee Palace, several government ministries and Champs-Elysees Avenue for about 15 minutes. Rebel workers also cut electricity to the American Embassy, the British Embassy, the Interior Ministry, and several major corporate offices. Actions like these give a whole new meaning to the term “strike”!
June 20, Santa Barbara, California: Giant American Flag Vandalized
Vandals lobbed paint bombs at a $5,000 American flag that was draped on the Lobero Theatre in Santa Barbara for a Flag Day observance. The 30-by-50 foot flag, which had been criticized because of its size, was desecrated one day before it was to be taken down.
The patriotic civic group that purchased the flag is still trying to determine whether proper protocol calls for its cleaning or its destruction. “I am personally sickened by this willful and wanton act of vandalism of a symbol that should unite us,” said Paul Lamberton, president of the Spirit of ’76 Association. “I think the obvious intent was to make a statement about our government’s foreign policy,” said Dave Asbell, general manager of the Lobero Theatre.
June 22, Aberdeen (Scotland):
Two “speed cameras” on one of Scotland’s busiest roads were severely damaged after monkeywrenchers threw tires on them and set them aflame. Coincidentally, neither of the camera units had working cameras in them yet, but it will still cost the equivalent of $10,000 to replace the units. For a more detailed look at the destruction of surveillance cameras, we refer our readers to the articles “Lights, Camera, Action!” which appeared in Green Anarchy #16, and “Surveillance and Domestication” in the British Green Anarchist (#71/72).
June 24, Baghdad (Iraq): New Leader Told He Will Be Assassinated!
Abu Musab al-Zargawi, the Shiite leader credited for a series of bombings and beheadings in Iraq, has allegedly vowed to assassinate Iraq’s interim prime minister, according to an audio tape found on the Internet. A voice, purportedly that of Zargawi, said “You have escaped many times, without knowing it, from well-organized ambushes we have laid.” But, the voice warned, his group would succeed no matter how long it took: “we will not get bored.”
Zargawi’s Tawhid and Jihad movement is emerging as a prominent part of the fighting against the U.S.- led occupation. The group has been blamed for many bombings and assassinations in recent months, including the beheading of American Nicholas Berg and South Korean Kim Sun Il, whose captors demanded that the South Korea government withdraw troops from Iraq. While our sympathies as anarchists are with the Iraqi exploited who are fighting colonization, it behooves us, when attempting to navigate the turbulent waters of global conflict, to examine radical Islamic militants and the broader Islamic revival as critical and inevitable aspects of globalization.
The violent imposition of modern globalization is unmasking and unleashing previously obscured cultural tensions that are rippling across continents and intersecting in seemingly random, fractal-like patterns. Many global chaos theorists have described globalization as a fragmenting process rather than a unifying one, fomenting the rebirth of provincial, traditional, and religious loyalties, and see the revival of Islam as having heralded a “mutiny” against secularism, modernity, and global governance. This is wishful thinking, for while there may be deeply rooted incompatibilities in the value systems of different civilizations, Islam is part of the same patriarchal, monotheistic paradigm that’s been waging war on women and the wild for 10,000 years.
The revival of Islam can be better explained as a strategic assertion of identity and cultural loyalty, and also by the fact that it’s able to provide vast, unparalleled resources for insurgent movements. The stark fact is that at the global, national, and local level, Islamic social movements have eclipsed the old appeal of the Left and are becoming the most militant expressions of anti-imperialist nationalism. Viewed in global terms, Islam is the world’s fastest growing religion, accounting for approximately a quarter of the world’s population, a religion concentrated in some of the world’s poorest countries.
Iraq is both a flashpoint and indicator of the myriad (and often authoritarian) responses to globalization that are starting to appear, and as anarchists we can’t afford to be naïve about some of the dynamics at work in this age of upheaval. More importantly, we have a lot to learn from the guerilla strategies being developed in Iraq, in terms of our own de-colonizing process. The Iraqi rebels have correctly identified the physical apparatus that allows globalization to compress time/ space relationships by creating technologically networked interaction amongst geographically dispersed nodes of Empire. This electronic infrastructure is a multi-layered network of banking firms, microelectronic-driven production linkages, petroleum pipelines, “on-line” financial systems and satellitebased telecommunications, and it is highly vulnerable.
June 25, Nova Scotia (Canada):
Two sabotaged telephone lines left about 100 customers without service. Telecommunications workers have been on strike since April 23, and there have been many attacks on phone lines since that time.
June 28, Paris (France): Power Workers Keep on Striking!
France’s government-owned railway company had to cancel or delay 200 suburban trains because of electrical damage, affecting about 150,000 passengers. The disruption at the St. Lazare network, which connects Paris with northwestern France, was due to sabotage at a power distribution center in Nanterre, where cables were cut. Problems at the Gare du Nord network were the result of someone shutting off power at another distribution center.
Reseau du Transport d’Electricite, the French grid operator, said that some striking power workers also occupied a transmission tower in charge of the power line that connects France and Spain. Supply between the two countries “is in a precarious state,” the government said in its statement. “This action puts the electrical security of the Iberian Peninsula at risk.”
June 29, Paris (France): Energy Workers Continue to Fight!
In the opening shots of a coordinated day of action, rebellious French electricity workers briefly cut supplies to a major regional airport and several industrial companies as the French parliament prepared to pass legislation allowing limited privatization of the power and gas industries. Sixty striking workers also took over an electrical plant near Grenoble, and had cut supplies to five local companies. “I’m listening, but I’m not giving in,” said Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin, adding that there was no possibility of preventing passage of the legislation. Raffarin added a condemnation of what he called “illegal acts” carried out by the rebel workers, including the alleged sabotage of a switching station that threw the rail and metro system in Paris into chaos. Power cuts throughout the month of June snarled traffic on hundreds of trains, severely disrupting the flow of commerce during the ever-so important morning rush (to work) hour. Raffarin called in union management to punish illegal acts of power cuts, saying “in this republic one cannot oppose parliament with violence.”
June 29, Istanbul (Turkey): Explosives Found Two Days Before NATO Summit
Fourteen pounds of powerful explosives were discovered at Turkey’s main airport two days before US President Bush arrived for a NATO summit and two hours before Turkey’s Prime Minister landed at the heavily guarded facility. The bomb was defused after being discovered in a multistory parking garage, packed inside a spare tire beside a parked car and linked to a cell phone for detonation by remote control. Turkish and US officials at first denied reports of the discovery, apparently to contain embarrassment at the security breach on the eve of a summit attended by 40 prime ministers and presidents. US law enforcement officials later admitted that such a bomb “would have had a devastating effect”.
Four days prior, there were two explosions in Turkey - one outside the Ankara hotel where Bush was scheduled to stay and a second on an Istanbul bus which killed four people and wounded 17. Turkish police identified the bomber in the Istanbul attack as a 29-year old woman who was a member of a “militant left-wing group” and was wanted for two previous attacks. The woman died when the bomb accidentally detonated on her lap.
July 6, Seattle, Washington: Gas Stations Vandalized to Protest War
Owners spent days cleaning up after a vandal struck 10 local businesses, mostly gas stations and fast food restaurants, breaking windows and spray-painting anti-war messages, and doing thousands of dollars in damage. At a Shell station in Fremont, several windows were smashed; a half mile away, a Domino’s Pizza was the target.
Larry Gardiner was forced to spend the weekend cleaning up broken glass and replacing windows at his Chevron station near Green Lake. “It completely de-capacitated us”, he said. “We were out of business for a good whole day.”
Actions like these bypass the sheep-like behavior and restrictions so often predominant at mass protests, proving that wherever you live, something can be done (and done again!). When fighting the System and attacking the set-ups that smother our lives, it is far more intelligent to act autonomously or with a small clan of people you know and trust than with a brainless mass who have come together for artificial motives – like all belonging to the same party. Legality – or “playing by the rules” – is irrelevant to revolutionary struggle, and is only clung to as a guide by those who are too weak or too intimidated to think and act for themselves.
Of course, it is important to point out in relation to these anti-war actions in Seattle that surveillance cameras did catch images of a man as he spray-painted one of the targeted gas stations and local pigs are now trying to identify him. So keep persisting and resisting but for Chaos’s sake, wear a mask!
July 9, Istanbul (Turkey): More Anti-NATO Actions!
Two Turkish pigs were hospitalized when three people tossed a gasoline firebomb at their vehicle in an ambush attack, setting it on fire. We’ve also learned more details about the extent of the anti-NATO protests that preceded Bush’s visit to Turkey in late June. Evidently, a small bomb attached to a banner protesting the summit and Bush’s existence went off in downtown Istanbul on June 26, causing no injuries.
Two small bomb blasts that same night caused minor property damage but no injuries in the city of Adana, and a remote-controlled bomb placed under a car in the Black Sea port of Zonguldak was defused. The bombings are being blamed on “militant leftists”, and Turkish police have detained scores of suspected members of radical groups.
July 16, Buenos Aires (Argentina):
Unemployed rebels, street vendors, prostitutes and students laid siege to the city legislature building, tearing down police barricades, smashing windows, breaking apart doors, throwing rocks, and using slingshots against riot police inside the institution. The cops, in turn, used a water cannon and shot tear gas, eventually arresting 26 people. The rebellion was in response to the legal code intended to escalate punishment against the excluded – those who must break the law in order to survive, and those who decide to reclaim their dignity by revolting against the system that dominates them.
July 29, Mexico City (Mexico): Squatters Fight Back Against Eviction Effort
Police attempting to evict about 200 squatters from land north of Mexico City were greeted with gunfire, sticks and stones. Two pigs and a Mexico state official were treated for gunshot wounds and another 12 public officials were injured in the confrontation. Simmering land disputes in Mexico continue to erupt in violence against government authorities.
August 4, Davenport, Iowa:
Three banks were robbed while U.S. President Bush and Democratic nominee John Kerry were speaking just blocks away from one another.
August 19, Buenos Aires (Argentina):
Electricity workers threw rocks and firebombs at the administrative headquarters of the Ednor power company, breaking windows on three floors and destroying the groundlevel of the building. Ednor is owned by Electricite de France.
August 25, Cairo (Egypt):
A crowd of about 1,000 Sudanese refugees laid siege to the offices of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, injuring three Egyptian riot police, smashing the windows of the office building and cars parked in front of it, and destroying a security kiosk.
August 27. Asheville, North Carolina: Vandals Cause Major Damage to Wal-Mart
Anonymous saboteurs used onsite construction equipment in the dark of night to ram into the shell of the Wal-Mart Supercenter on Swannanoa River Road, causing an estimated $900,000 damage. The vandals entered the site and hotwired a dump truck and drove it into different areas of the building.
August 31, Buenos Aires (Argentina):
About 100 rebels were arrested after an assault on the Economy Ministry where International Monetary Fund chief Rodrigo Rato was visiting. Masked insurgents broke through police barriers, set tires alight at the building’s front door, and tossed rocks at riot police. Earlier in the day a bomb exploded at a BBVA bank branch, breaking windows and damaging two automated teller machines, and scattering pamphlets with the words “Get out of Argentina Rato. Don’t pay external debt.” Another bomb was also found at a McDonald’s but didn’t explode. Rebels also invaded the Sheraton Hotel where IMF officials were meeting.
September 11, Santiago (Chile): Street Clashes Mark Anniversary of 1973 Coup
Violent clashes cut short a major ceremony in Chile to remember those who died in the 1973 military coup that signaled the start of the 17-year military government of General Augusto Pinochet. Several thousand people were taking part in the annual march from the city center to the cemetery when a pitched battle between protesters and cops erupted. Demonstrators, many of them wearing masks, threw Molotov cocktails and rocks; the pigs responded with water cannons and tear gas.
September 29, Iraq: Occupiers Being Defeated!
As we go to print, none of the larger cities are any longer under U.S. control, as damage to Iraq’s new government, infrastructure, and oil pipelines continue to grow! There have been over 2,000 attacks on Coalition forces in September alone, according to the New York Times. This figure, in fact, minimizes the level of insurgent violence: actions are needed less as new areas are wrestled from U.S. domination. The defeat of Empire in Iraq now seems inevitable, as the number of attacks reported is up to 90 per day and support for the invaders is virtually non-existent.
Space and Capital, from “Let’s Destroy Work, Let’s Destroy the Economy”, by Alfredo M. Bonanno
No single part of physical space can be isolated from the interference of capital, be it outer space or the ocean depths, mountains or rivers, seas or deserts, the great metropoli or the tiniest, most out-of-the-way village. A whole series of relationships intersect and overlap: seemingly unrelated elements are linked by the common matrix of exploitation. One might try to deceive oneself by going somewhere far away, out of this world as they say, only to discover that the mechanisms of capital still reach us and function perfectly. That explains why we are against ecologism, just as we are against any other ‘alternative’ proposal that claims to do something against exploitation by isolating one part of reality from the rest. Of course, we also start off from specific points in our interventions, but we do not fool ourselves that we can really attack the enemy by remaining within that ‘part’. In order to move to attack we must overcome the fragmentation which at a certain point becomes a necessary choice, but is essentially a strategy that has been imposed on us by capital.
Now, the most serious pillage carried out by exploitation, the one laden with the greatest consequences, is the theft of time and space. These two thefts are substantially linked. Capital steals our time by obliging us to work and by conditioning our lives, infesting them with clocks, commitments, deadlines, and so on, right down to the smallest detail. By stealing our time it prevents us from understanding ourselves. It alienates us. Without time we would not even notice the theft of space. We need time in order to become aware of the very presence of space. To think, to listen, to dream, to desire. By living space in terms of distance, kilometers to be covered, moving from one place to another, we lose sight of our relationship with things, nature, the world.
Capital stole time from us (it needed it for production)–then came the systems of control and repression, and, finally, the generalization of consensus. Now we are faced with the need to move to the appropriation of our time and space. Our attack cannot fail to cause damage and ruin. That is in the logic of things, the logic of the class war. The project of power is global. It cannot permit the existence of “empty spaces”. Our project of liberation is also global, for the opposite reason. It cannot allow ‘free spaces’ not to exist. If we were to allow capital to achieve global domination, we would be dead for good.
Fortunately the road power will need to cover in order to reach globalization is still a long one. As well as embezzling space (and time) at a global level, capital is beginning to divide reality into two separate parts. It is no longer a question of the old fragmentation but of a net division, a real wall, between included and excluded. The first will be guaranteed a position of privilege, domination, high cultural levels, projectuality and creativity; the second, a condition of survival, consensus, subcultures, supine acceptance, lack of stimulation and perhaps even of needs. In this perspective capital and the State require complete availability of social space. Nothing must escape their control.
And that is not all. Capital now has technologies at its disposal that allows it not so much the possession of space as its actual production. Think of its capacity to communicate in ‘real time’ between two distinct points thousands of kilometers apart. That does not only change the productive order (variety, creativity, stocks, etc.) but also, and principally, the human order of social relations (which are also economic).
So capital is actually producing space on the basis of its project of exploitation and domination. It is transforming and destroying nature, modifying cities and the land, destroying seas, rivers and lakes, submitting stellar distances to its militaristic logic. The space produced in this way then serves to channel individuals. So we find ourselves in huge traffic jams, speeding along motorways, standing in queues in the supermarket. We are afflicted with traffic chaos, appointments we must not miss, and fictitious interests that make us feel bad, obliging us to be continuously and senselessly on the move. We move in spaces that have been programmed for us but which we imagine we have ‘chosen’ ourselves. Our houses are full of useless harmful objects. Space has come restricted or rather has changed according to the needs of capitalist production which needs to sell television sets, fridges, washing machines, furniture and built-in kitchens.
So, almost without noticing it, our time is disappearing and our space is reducing itself to relationships with objects that bear witness to capital’s power to convince. In this way we are being educated to repetition. We carry out the same gestures, as everyone knows (but systematically forgets), in the anteroom to consensus.
For its part capital is obliged to take space from us because it cannot leave any available for our creativity, our capacity for tinkering with things, our desire for innovation (which is the first stimulus to finding solutions that turn out to be incredible endowments of spontaneity and wealth). If capital were to leave space to such individual forces it would not be able to reach the pace of repetition that is indispensable to production. The latter, we must not forget, is only such on the condition that it is also reproduction. Think of the efforts (helped by electronic technique) that capital is making to realize everyone’s desires with the maximum (centralized and codified) diversification. The big names in fashion, the fast food chains, the advertising that highlights individual taste within mass production, are no more than attempts to block various roads that might be traveled today.
Although the space that is produced and reproduced is based on consensus, it contains a considerable amount of purely repressive aspects, in the policing sense of the term. Control regulates movement in every way. Raw materials and people, ideas and machines, money and desires. Everything is coordinated because everything has been preventively homogenized. Differences are no more than that; they are not radical diversities. They have been reduced to the rank of appearances and in this new capacity are praised to the heavens as the reign of freedom.
So the strategy of power is therefore that of controlling ‘all’ space in the same way as it controls ‘all’ time. It is not just a question of police control, but mainly of control based on consensus and the acceptance of models of behaviors and scales of values that are those of the capitalist technocrats.
What to do? Go in search of lost time? Lost space?
Not in the sense of a nostalgic journey, of going back in time. Nothing in life goes backwards, just as nothing presents itself again in an identical (or in an absolutely different) way.
The old relationship with space left the sign of a physical place. The sign of man and his things. A road, a square, a country crossroads, a river, the sea and the sky, woods and mountains, were in open discourse with the individuals who knew how (and wanted) to listen to them. And affinity with other individuals led men to the same places, animated their feelings, spurred them to action and reflection. One found oneself as an individual, whereas one now hides as part of a whole, of a crowd. Once we were open, also often unprepared and vulnerable. Now we are all protected by uniformity, repetitiveness. We feel more secure because we belong to the flock. Everything is being produced and reproduced. Everything is about to become a commodity.
In this perspective the struggle for social space becomes a struggle for the re-appropriation of all ‘territory’ beyond and against the rules of control and consensus.
*Alfredo Bonanno, longtime enemy of the State, is now serving six years in prison on charges of belonging to an “Armed Band” and “Subversive Association”. He can be reached at: Alfredo M. Bonanno, Via Papinano, 134133, Trieste, Italy
Prisoner Escapes, Mutinies, and Revolts
“From the perspective of the rulers of this world, we are, indeed, all criminals (at least potentially), all monsters threatening their tranquil sleep, because we are all potentially capable of seeing through the veil of the law and choosing to ignore it and take back the moments of our lives whenever we can on our own terms. Thus, law, itself, (and the social order of property and power which require it) makes us equal precisely by criminalizing us. It is, therefore, the logical outcome of law and the social order that produces it that imprisonment and policing would become universal, hand in hand with the development of the global supermarket.
In this light, it should be clear that there is no use in making laws more just. There is no use in seeking to monitor the police. There is no use in trying to reform this system, because every reform will inevitably play back into the system, increasing the number of laws, increasing the level of monitoring and policing, making the world even more like a prison. There is only one way to respond to this situation, if we would have our lives as our own. To attack this society in order to destroy it.”
- Why Do We All Live In Prison?
May 9, Hwaseong (S. Korea):
21 undocumented immigrant workers escaped from a detention center by scaling the walls. Four were recaptured. The guards claim that they were overtaken when they opened the door to a cell. They say two guards were beaten and the detainees used wrenches to break locks at the entrance of the building.
May 28, Milan (Italy):
A riot at the “Via Corelli” immigrant detention center left three police wounded and 19 immigrants facing charges of assault and mischief. Windows, chairs, tables, and taps were smashed and some of the detained climbed on the roof of the building. A group of North African immigrants had been on hunger strike at the center to protest deportations.
May 29, Rio de Janeiro (Brazil):
A riot took place in a prison after 14 inmates broke through its main gate and escaped. The rebellious prisoners took 26 guards and prison staff hostage and stole their guns. Three of the escapees were recaptured. The riot began in the early morning after inmates at Benefica Prison exchanged gunfire with police and began taking hostages. Two days into the rebellion, the rioting prisoners killed a 43-year old captured guard. Still, Brazilian prison officials held off on storming the penitentiary and continued to negotiate with the rebel prisoners, though the talks were complicated by the fact that participants of the uprising were not making any specific demands! Apparently anticipating a police assault, prisoners hung a sheet from one of the windows that said, “Don’t make this prison another Carandirn!” – a reference to the 1992 police massacre of 111 inmates in the Carandirn prison.
May 29, Instanbul (Turkey): Prison Riot Ends with One Dead
One prisoner was killed during unrest at a prison in southern Turkey before prison officials negotiated an end to the standoff. Around 16 prisoners blocked prison guards from entering their cell block early in the morning near the city of Antalya and killed one prisoner who opposed the uprising. State prosecutor Osman Vuraloglu said prisoners occupied the block after an inmate fell ill and a doctor refused to transfer him to a hospital, quickly adding “this incident does not have a political dimension.”
Leftist radicals and Kurdish groups have, in the past, staged many riots in Turkish prisons. In December 2000, at least 30 prisoners died when paramilitary forces stormed jails across the country to end a mass hunger strike initiated to oppose prison “reforms”.
June 2, Australia: Prisoner Found with New Jail Plans
A Tasmanian prisoner, found with the redevelopment plans of the state’s major maximum security jail, has triggered a shitstorm of controversy that is making Tasmania look like the setting of a Hogan’s Heroes episode! Opposition “justice” spokesperson Michael Hodgman demanded an explanation from state attorney-general Judy Jackson, saying that, “Ms. Jackson could land Tasmania in the Guinness Book of Records as the only place where a prisoner can get hold of schematic plans of a new prison showing all exits, drains, and the like. If this were not so serious, it would be a joke.”
He said that the plans had been found during a recent search of the prisoner’s cell at Haye’s minimum-security prison farm, in southern Tasmania. The prison blueprints are thought to have been stolen off a staff member’s desk.
June 3, Australia: Prisoner Walks Free From Cricket Game
A prisoner with more that 150 convictions has become the latest inmate to make a mockery of West Australia’s jails after he wandered away from an indoor cricket match being played by the prison team at a suburban sports complex. The 29-year old prisoner, Jason Cooper, has not been seen since. His escape became even more embarrassing for prison authorities when it was revealed that he had also escaped from Wooroloo prison in 1992.
June 7, Kansas City, Missouri: Prisoner Escapes Authorities at Hospital
Clay County sheriff’s deputies are looking for a prisoner who escaped from custody while being treated at a local hospital. After he was arrested on a parole violation, James Cates, 20, told the cops that he had swallowed some drugs. Police took him to the hospital for treatment, and he spent most of the weekend shackled to his bed until he freed himself Monday morning. Police said a security guard tried to stop Cates as he was escaping, but couldn’t.
Evidently, Cates stole a Dodge 4x4 sport pickup truck parked outside of the hospital. “He’d pulled his gown off on the way out, and he came out buck naked and took off in my truck,” said Bill Platenburg, the owner of the pickup.
June 8, United Kingdom: Prisoner Escapes from Police Station
Police across the West Midlands are hunting a prisoner who escaped from a police station after overpowering a security guard and handcuffing him to a bar. Timothy Augustus Smith knocked out the private security guard he was handcuffed to before using the key to free himself and flee through a window of the Nuneaton Police Station.
June 9, Australia: Mass Prisoner Escape
A mass prisoner escape in the center of Perth set off an intense police manhunt in Australia. Nine prisoners overpowered guards at the Supreme Court building, and commandeered vehicles to make good their escapes. The prisoners were in a confined area in the basement custody center of the Supreme Court when they bum-rushed their three guards (none of whom had guns). They then procured keys from one of the guards, went down a passageway and opened the exit door. This incident marks the 60th prison escape in Australia for the year 2004!
June 20, Nebraska:
Youths at the Lancaster County Juvenile Detention Center rioted for about two hours, after two inmates refused to return to their room. Guards were forced to flee as the young prisoners threw furniture and trashed a computer and a telephone, causing about $2,000 in damage. The rebellious prisoners then barricaded themselves in the “day room” and police were brought in to break down the door. Seven inmates were placed in lockdown.
June 22, Scotland: Prison Boss Stabbed with Coat Hanger!
A prisoner at a private jail in Scotland stabbed senior prison manager Michael Guy during an attack. Mr. Guy was taken to a local hospital and was later released after treatment. From what we understand, he was stabbed in the stomach with a wire coat hanger by a prisoner who has taken hostages twice before during riots.
June 27, South Africa: 800 Prisoners Briefly Escape
A strike by warders at the Nelspruit prison that left prisoners without food for more than 24 hours resulted in widespread rioting and a shortlived escape by 800 prisoners. Angry (and hungry) prisoners broke out of their cells and scaled prison walls in the center of the town of Nelspruit. In town, teargas had to be used to subdue the escapees, while other prisoners who could not escape rioted inside, burning mattresses and blankets. A police and army task force (supported by a special paramilitary task team and a correctional service “reaction unit”), was sent in to pacify the disturbance and got involved in a tense stand off with the striking warders, who refused to allow the task force into the prison! Striking warders refused to help with the situation, and simply watched from the sidelines, sparking strained altercations between police and warders that included threats to shoot anyone hindering the containment operation.
June 28, Scotland: Prisoner Escapes During Court Transfer
A prisoner escaped through the roof of a security van while he was being transported to court. David Duffy was being taken from police custody by Reliance Security Services to the Glasgow Sheriff Court where he was due to appear on charges of “breach of the peace” and assault. It’s believed that he forced open a hatch on the roof of the 14-cell vehicle. Since it took over security escort services in west central Scotland on April 5, the private security firm is believed to be responsible for at least 17 mistaken releases or escapes.
July 1, Colorado Springs, Colorado:
Jail inmates barricaded cell doors, threw debris and poured soap and water on the floors before El Paso County sheriffs were able to regain control of the situation. It’s not known what instigated the uprising.
July 6, Israel: Detainees Riot at Gilboa Prison
A cop and a prison guard sustained moderate injuries in prisoner riots at Gilboa prison. The facility, considered Israel’s best-guarded prison, houses dozens of what Israeli security forces label the “most dangerous terrorists in the country.” The riots were initiated by about 60 prisoners allegedly belonging to the Fatah, Hamas, and Islamic Jihad groups.
The prisoners poured hot oil on prison guards and burned mattresses. Inspired by the actions of the initial rebels, dozens of other prisoners joined the riots. Prison Service Forces managed to quell the uprising but remained on high alert at other prisons out of concern that riots would be staged there too.
July 14, Louisiana:
A man awaiting trial on a robbery charge escaped from the Avoyelles Parish jail by using a ladder to scale a fence. Local deputies, state troopers, and bloodhounds were conducting a wide search for 35-year old James Drake, who was able to escape when he grabbed a ladder that inmates were using to wash the jail.
July 15, Rizzuto (Italy):
Immigrants held in a detention center attempted to escape and fought with the police who tried to stop them, injuring at least nine cops. Three detainees were able to flee the center but were later arrested.
July 19, Colorado:
A prisoner is still on the loose after he escaped from the vehicle holding area at the Westminster police department with handcuffs still on. James Gene Williams, 19, was sitting in the back of a patrol car when he removed the seatbelt, kicked out the window of the police car, slipped his handcuffed arms in front of him and ran off! Police immediately set up a perimeter and tried to track him with a K-9 but were not successful.
July 20, London (England): Riot at Fast-Track Asylum Removal Center
The British government’s “Fasttrack” asylum system suffered a serious setback when detainees went on the rampage in its “model” removal center near Heathrow airport. Rioters wrested control of the Harmondsworth immigration removal center from staff after a Kosovan detainee was found hanged in his cell.
At first, custody officers managed to keep control of the center where 411 men were being held, but by midnight they had pulled out for their own safety after confrontations. Throughout the night waves of Tornado squads – made up of prison pigs trained in quelling riots – set about taking back the center, hampered at times by fires set by detainees. A tense standoff involving about 80 detainees continued in a recreation yard until the following day. The Home Office is launching an investigation into the riot and the center will remain shut for several weeks.
Discontent has been brewing at Harmondsworth; in May, 220 detainees took part in a hunger strike, complaining about the poor legal advice given and assaults by staff.
July 21, Olney Springs, Colorado:
Prisoners rioted and set fires at a privately run prison, destroying one living unit and extensively damaging four others.The disturbance at the medium-security Crowley County Correctional Facility began in the evening in the recreation yard and grew to include several hundred prisoners. A vocational greenhouse was also destroyed during the rioting.
The prison, which opened in 1998, is designed to hold 1,152 and currently has 1,807 prisoners from Colorado, 120 from Wyoming and 198 from Washington. The prison is managed by the Nashville, Tennessee-based Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), the United States’ largest private prison operator.
July 22, Farmington, Missouri:
Authorities were searching for a prisoner who escaped from the Southeast Missouri Mental Health Center. “Thought crime” prisoner Marcus Engesser was in the yard of the “mental health” center for a fresh air break when he mysteriously vanished. The judge who convicted Engesser in 2001 ruled that he was unfit to stand trial and ordered him to undergo psychiatric evaluation. While imprisoned, Engesser was accused of assaulting two correctional officers. This escape was the second in about a month at the center. The other escapee was later recaptured.
July 22, Mount Jewett, Pennsylvania:
Law enforcement officials in Pennsylvania are still searching for a prisoner who gave them the slip. Nineteenyear-old Josh Hanson is reported to have escaped after police transporting him from the Tioga County Jail to the Elk County Jail stopped at a rest area on Route 6. While unattended, Hanson exited the vehicle and escaped on foot through a densely wooded area, wearing handcuffs and one leg shackle, yet still managing to elude State Police. Hanson was originally arrested on stolen vehicle charges. A helicopter was deployed to locate Hanson, but it had to be called back due to inclement weather.
July 24, Nashville, Tennessee: Prison Corporation on Death Row after Riots and Homicide
Troubles continued to mount in July for Amerikkka’s largest operator of private prisons. Nashville-based Corrections Corporation of America suffered through two prison riots in one week in late July – one in Colorado and one in Mississippi. The uprisings followed a July 7 homicide at a Nashville prison, which is still being investigated, and a smaller uprising in Oklahoma. The spate of bad news for CCA is providing plenty of fodder for prison abolitionists and has prompted a sharp drop in CCA’s stock price.
CCA, with 62,000 prisoners in 20 states and the District of Columbia under their “management”, says it is confident that nothing is wrong with its operations and has hired a public relations firm to assuage fears on Wall Street. Maybe we should kick ‘em while they’re down?
August 17, San Foca (Italy):
Immigrants rioted and clashed with police at the Regina Pacis immigrant detention centre in San Foca, Italy. Six immigrants managed to escape during the melee. Hours later, a firebomb was thrown at the home of Don Cesare Lodeserto, the manager of the centre. An insert was found on the windshield of a family member’s car with the words “War to Don Cesar, manager of the jail for immigrants – Regina Pacis.” The following day, prisoners at the centre set fires and used cooking gas-canisters to damage a living unit.
August 20, Olmito, Texas:
Prisoners refused to go back to their cells, barricaded themselves in a room, smashed TVs and phones, and used makeshift weapons against guards, injuring two of them. Texas has had more than its share of prison disturbances and mutinies recently; earlier in the month, on August 6, five federal prisoners escaped from a privately run lockup near San Antonio. The prisoners apparently escaped while they were outside for an hourlong “recreation” period, said prison staff, who found that two perimeter fences had been cut.
September 11, United States: Envelopes Sent from Prison Rigged to Ignite!
At least five Western and Midwestern governors received envelopes in the mail designed with matches to ignite when opened. In Montana, the envelope prompted the evacuation of part of the state Capitol. The envelopes were sent to the governors of Montana, Idaho, Nebraska, Washington and Utah. Unfortunately, there were no injuries.
All of the letters appeared to have come from a maximum-security prison in Nevada, where another letter also turned up at the office of the state corrections director. On September 13, a similar letter rigged to ignite when opened and bound for the Virginia governors’ office was intercepted at a central postage-handling facility. Like the earlier letters, it bore a return address from Nevada’s maximum-security Ely State Prison. All told, a total of 15 letters appear to have been sent to high-ranking statists, with at least 3 of them catching fire as intended.
Class Dismissed, by Rob los Ricos
“…As late as 1700, the prevailing European social system was still one in which vast power, the greater part of landed wealth, and the prime control of political life belonged to the hereditary landed aristocracy…the factor of continuity – of the perpetuation down to the modern industrial world of a one-class social structure, or, in another phrasing, of the domination of a landed aristocracy – is one of the fundamental facts and continuing conditions of the history of western civilization.”
–Norman F. Cantor, The Civilization of the Middle Ages
Despite delusions to the contrary, since its inception, civilization has nurtured only one class – the ruling class. Attempts to divide civilized societies into sub-divisions such as middle or working classes miss this essential point. The parts of society which do not comprise the elite don’t matter. The single focus of every element in civilized societies is the creation and perpetuation of wealth and privilege for the benefit of an elite. The unfortunate masses left out of the elite ranks are insignificant. Our lives pass with little notice. We are interchangeable parts of an inhuman system. We could be slaves, conquered by the armed forces of the elite. Either from foreign lands, or from the homeland. We could be wage slaves. Whatever the level of coercion, anyone who doesn’t serve the interests of the elite are seen as deviant, undesirable, and dealt with as such.
The rise of the bourgeoisie in European societies was part of a process of liberalization of wealth that Karl Marx saw as potentially liberating for those who create the privileges and material abundance for the ruling elite to enjoy. Marx’s followers, however, never desired anything beyond taking the place of the ruling elite themselves.
Let’s face facts: people who are compelled to toil for the benefit of others are slaves. The end result of working-class rebellion is not the abolition of slavery, but would only result in putting the slave in control of slavery. This is not a good deal for most people. The reason working people fall for this proposition at all is because there has been little or no questioning of the false promise of industrial society – unlimited material abundance – at least not in the more advanced industrial states.
The proponents of class struggle whole-heartedly accept industrial society as the right and proper way of life. The benefits generated through the exploitation of natural and human resources make the costs of such exploitation bearable, desirable even. Here in the 21st century, the ecological, psychological, spiritual, and social costs of industrialism are becoming increasingly and unavoidably obvious, even to the most willfully ignorant, and the benefits portioned out to a dwindling percentage of the public.
To clarify things: Industrial Society is not the end-all and be-all of human endeavor. It crushes people into rigid social roles that by themselves are dehumanizing. Since working class slaves are destroyed as people, they cannot be expected to behave in healthy, life-affirming ways. That’s why nowadays, abusive, self-destructive behavior is so commonplace: dysfunctional families, sexual abuse, suicide, drug addiction. How can the majority of the population be expected to relate to other people in a healthy, respectful manner when every aspect of their existence brings them humiliation, powerlessness, pain, and abuse? Industrialism is not the answer to any of modern civilization’s ills, nor will it produce remedies to the devastation it causes.
Capitalism did not evolve slowly from medieval mercantilism over generations; it was manufactured in the English countryside when people, derided by the elite as “commoners”, were forced into destitution. Their access to lands their ancestors had utilized for centuries (the commons) was denied them. Prior to that, most people were able to meet their needs through the efforts of their own hands. People did not give up their ability to live self-sufficiently and take up wage-slavery voluntarily. It was forced on them through overwhelming military power. Luddite rebellions against Industrialism didn’t come until later (1800-1820). The original, primary battle to establish capitalism was over access to land. Class-based “revolutionary” movements have yet to grasp this, the single most important aspect to the fight against Capital. Yet peoples’ demands for land to utilize for their sustenance has fueled revolutionary movements since the 1640’s on every continent contaminated by Capital’s touch.
Tremendous amounts of wealth – accumulated over generations, centuries even – were plundered from people around the world by European armies, mercenaries, and adventurers. The first global empire was that of 16th century Spain, by the way.
This vast wealth was used to initiate capitalism. It funded the construction of massive factories and the seizure of the commons.
The aristocracy abolished common law. They refused to acknowledge the commoners’ ages-old rights because these rights weren’t recognized by law – written laws utilized by the courts. It helped their cause that the Lords were often the judges too. It also didn’t hurt that the Lords had professional soldiers in their service, nor that factory owners and bankers would assist them to hire mercenaries, if necessary, and arm them.
The traditions of the commons were finally eclipsed by the cowboy economics of the American West, wherein the first person or entity to utilize resources for profitable enterprises could claim First Rights to them. Thus, a mining company could divert the flow of a river to wash away mountainsides and leave simple pastoral families and subsistence farmers downstream with little or no water for their use. What mattered was that distant banks and industrialists profited, not whether homesteaders could provide for themselves and their families.
This plundering of natural resources, traditionally utilized by people through common agreement, was legitimized through shady legal shenanigans. These legal sleight-of-hand maneuvers form the basis on which international trade treaties and organizations that enforce and fund them, claim their authority. In addition to continued conquest of lands inhabited by indigenous peoples with no “legal” title to their homelands, the WTO and IMF/WB demand that local laws – fully established and recognized by local courts and governments–be overturned in favor of the interests (primarily the creation of profits) of international corporations and banks.
The struggle over control of the means of production is all but irrelevant to the idea of a liberated existence. Control of industry won’t free us from capitalism. Worker-controlled industries would still be dependent on financial institutions; we’d still be crushed into dehumanizing industrial standardization. We’d still be forced to compete for, even fight wars over, dwindling natural resources. We will be rid of the shackles of capitalism when we can meet our needs without being forced into economic servitude. For that to happen, we need to pursue our own goal: control of land to utilize for our own needs.
In the 21st century, we are living through a transformation in the way civilization functions. The wall of lies utilized to put a liberal face on the New World Order (NWO) is beginning to erode and the vile face of fierce ruthlessness necessary to enforce its regime is becoming easier to discern.
The greatest lie – the one which captivated Marx and generations of class warriors – was that liberal, bourgeois states and capitalism would create material abundance enough to enrich everyone and provide us all with lives of material ease. Marx’s unrequited infatuation with industrial society prevented him from looking behind the smoke-screen of capitalism to see the fallacy of perpetuating its infrastructure, but under new management. So long as people still believe in the liberal lie of material abundance for all, they will continue to be subservient to the interest of the elite. The International Communist Conspiracy failed to create any sort of alternative to capitalism because they neglected to counteract the methods used to construct it.
The three pillars of domination that prop up the NWO – overwhelming military and economic superiority, along with a compliant, pliable system of law – grew up alongside one another. Liberal states, capitalism, and military power are intertwined in their development; their evolution into a single entity during the last century makes it impossible to imagine any one existing without the others. This suggests that the success of one was, and still is, dependent on the others.
As things stand now, we in urban, industrialized societies are weak and helpless dependents on the forces that have reduced our lives to meaningless tedium. We have lost our way. We are also completely ignorant of how to live within the planet’s biosystems to sustain ourselves. Even sadder still, most of us are descended from a long line of people similarly alienated from the basic knowledge or ability to provide for ourselves without the benefit of markets. Few of us can hunt, fish, or forage for food, or build shelters from materials at hand, or make clothing out of raw materials. This knowledge is not completely lost, however. Not all people have embraced industrialism, nor have all people been assimilated by industrialism. We have allies in our fight against capital and we desperately need to seek them out and learn from them. Fortunately, there are religious, craft, and indigenous societies that retain the skills and knowledge we require.
In return for learning from indigenous peoples, we need to fight alongside them to preserve their autonomy. If they are under assault by corporate interests (mining, logging, petroleum extraction, etc.), we need to counter-attack.
We also need to respect the fact that they are different from us and accept them on their own terms. We may have something worthwhile to offer their societies, but it should be up to them to make that determination. Whether they are Inuit, Amish, herbalists, subsistence farmers, we must respect one another. We need each other desperately; we are all in a fight for our lives and the lives of coming generations.
One aspect to our yearning for liberation, which works in our favor, is that the NWO is dependent upon our consent and cooperation to function. There certainly is a vast array of coercive pressures they can assert on us: material comfort, social conformity, police harassment, etc. The NWO provides us with many excuses for remaining safely within the parameters it sets for us. When we resist these pressures, we sacrifice a lot, even so far as to endanger our lives. If we actually manage to overcome the NWO, we will undoubtedly lose a lot of what we take for granted in our consumer-oriented lives. What those of us in the industrialized areas need to keep in mind is that our lives of relative ease are dependent on the oppression of distant people who likely have no access to technology we take for granted. Two billion people alive right now have no access to clean drinking water. More than 3 billion have never used a phone.
The NWO solution – sell them cell phones and Perrier – isn’t the appropriate one. How many of us are in danger of losing our access to technology and the means of sustenance because of economic contractions in our countries? What our friends and allies in “underdeveloped” lands might tell us if they could, is “All we want is to provide for ourselves and our families. Please spare us economic development and leave us in peace”. Rather than competing over dwindling economic resources we should find common ground and learn how to survive without profiting from other people’s oppression.
¡No se rende! ¡No se vende!
Rob los Ricos
Mill Creek Correctional Facility
Indigenous and Campesino Resistance
“The first people who lived on the northern plains what today is the United States called themselves “Lakota,” meaning “the people,” a word which provides the semantic basis for Dakota. The first European people to he northern plains of what today meet the Lakota called them “Sioux,” a contraction of Nadowessioux, a now-archaic French-Canadian word meaning “snake” or enemy.
The Lakota also used a metaphor to describe the newcomers. It was Wasi’chu, which means “takes the fat,” or “greedy person.” Within the modern Indian movement, Wasi’chu has come to mean those corporations and individuals, with their governmental accomplices, which continue to covet Indian lives, land, and resources for private profit.
Wasi’chu does not describe a race; it describes a state of mind.
Wasi’chu is also a human condition based on inhumanity, racism, and exploitation. It is a sickness, a seemingly incurable and contagious disease which begot the ever advancing society of the West. If we do not control it, this disease will surely be the basis for what may be the last of the continuing wars against the Native American people.”
– from Wasi’chu, The Continuing Indian Wars, by Bruce Johansen and Robert Maestas
June 8, Quito (Ecuador): Small Bombs, Protests Hit Country
Small pamphlet bombs exploded in three cities and Ecuador’s powerful Indian movement blocked the Pan American Highway as part of planned demonstrations to demand the resignation of President Lucio Gutiérrez.
The violence came as the Organization of American States opened a meeting in Quito, the capital. Three bombs exploded in Quito, one in Guayaquil, Ecuador’s largest city, and three in Cuenca in southern Ecuador. No injuries were reported.
Police said the pamphlets in the bombs carried the name of the socalled Group of People’s Combatants, or GCP, by its initials in Spanish. The pamphlets criticized the OAS meeting and the government’s economic policies. Elsewhere, dozens of Indians managed to block the Pan American Highway, which crosses the country from north to south, in two places north of Quito.
Police later cleared the highway, but Indians returned to pile basketball-sized rocks on it, blocking traffic, according to radio news reports.
Indians make up about 4 million of Ecuador’s 13 million people.
June 10, Santiago (Chile): Bombing and Hunger Strike
A bomb exploded in an automatic teller area of a Banco Estado bank branch in the La Cisterna district of Santiago. The explosion destroyed three ATM machines, caused serious damages to the bank and blew out windows of nearby buildings. In an anonymous phone call to a radio station, a group calling itself the “Julio Guerra Commando, Southern Operative” took responsibility for the attack, and said it was to protest economic policies and the situation faced by Chile’s political prisoners.
Julio Guerra Olivares was murdered in 1987 by agents of the National Information Department (CNI) of then-dictator Gen. Augusto Pinochet in “Operation Albania,” a campaign against the Manuel Rodríguez Patriotic Front (FPMR). Five jailed FPMR members who began a hunger strike on April 12 at Santiago’s High Security Prison (CAS) marked the 60th day of their fast with a communiqué issued on June 10, a day after Chile’s Senate postponed a vote on a bill that would effect their release.
In the communiqué, Esteban Burgos, Jorge Espínola, Hardy Peña, René Salfate and Jorge Mateluna said they would continue their hunger strike.
Late June, Jauari River (Brazil): Tired of Waiting, Indians Invade Land
Several Brazilian Indian communities began to occupy at the end of June an area on the banks of the Jauari River, in the Amazon. According to them, their act is a means to prevent rice farmers from contaminating their land. They say they have been trying to solve legally their land problems, in vain.
The Indian communities of the Raposa, Serras, Baixo Cotingo and Surumu lands decided to occupy the banks of the Jauari River in an area located 180 kilometers from Boa Vista, in Amazon state of Roraima. They say they are tired of waiting for a decision from the Brazilian government concerning the official confirmation of the bounds of the Raposa / Serra do Sol indigenous land and are also concerned about the environmental degradation caused by rice farmers.
Over 300 indigenous people from villages located in the Raposa/Serra do Sol land affected by the pollution of rivers by pesticides in irrigated rice crops are taking part in the action. The largest rice farmer in the indigenous land, Paulo César Quartieiro, went to the area occupied by the indigenous people on June 29 to intimidate indigenous leaders when they were beginning to build houses/ shelters. After failing to intimidate them, he reported the situation to the Federal Police.
July 14, Tegucigalpa (Honduras): Pech Indian Leader Killed in Olancho Province
The Confederation of Indian Peoples of Honduras (COMPAH) reported that 57-year-old Elpidio Martinez Chavarria was killed in the remote village of Dulce Nombre de Culmi, in eastern Honduran province of Olancho (along the border with Nicaragua).
According to preliminary reports, Martinez Chavarria, a Pech Indian leader who fought for land rights was attacked while returning to his house in Dulce Nombre de Culmi from the village of Aguaquire.
COMPAH president Natan Pravia said the motive for the killing was not known and the Indian rights group was investigating. Pravia, nevertheless, said he believed the Indian leader’s “death is linked to the defense of land, because he was protecting his land from the landowners and loggers who wanted to take it.” Martinez Chavarria “was attacked, beaten and shot by his assassins,” Pravia said.
According to COMPAH, 70 black and Indian leaders have been assassinated in Honduras since 1970. Pravia said 40 of the murdered Indian leaders were from the Tolupan group, which lives in the provinces of Yoro, in the north, and Francisco Morazan, in central Honduras. The government is indifferent toward the killings of Indian leaders, Pravia said. According to official figures, some 10 percent of the Honduran population is Native, divided among eight different tribal groups.
Mid-July, Mexico: Indigenous Eco-Activists Await Fate
A Mexican court is planning to sentence two Raramuri Indian activists, Isidro Baldenegro and Hermenegildo Rivas in July. Both are charged with possession of weapons and Baldenegro with possession of marijuana.
Fraught with irregularities, their case has drawn support from numerous human rights groups who insist the defendants were set up by organized crime with ties to the police, logging companies and drug traffickers that operate in the area. A little more than a year after their arrest on charges filed by police and government prosecutors – accusations aimed at halting the two activists’ anti-logging fight – the case entered its final phase, and sentencing was expected in July.
Both activists were arrested in March 2003 just when they achieved – along with other Indians – a temporary halt of logging in a pine forest in their community, Coloradas de la Virgen, in an area of more than 50,000 hectares that the Rarámuri have inhabited since time immemorial, and home today to some 360 Rarámuri families.
In the 1950s, the government handed almost the entire area over to settlers, particularly the forested and cultivable lands.
In subsequent legal cases, the Indians, with Baldenegro as one of the leaders, were able to recover a portion of their traditional lands, but nearly all of it in ravines and gullies. But that did not stop them from acting as guardians of the native forests.
GA Note: We will have an extensive update on numerous native struggles in our “Indigenous Resistance to Civilization” issue (Spring/#19)!
August 9, Chiapas (Mexico): Angry Mob Locks Up Mayor
Hundreds of enraged residents of the impoverished Indian community of San Juan Chamula locked the mayor and three other municipal officials in jail, accusing the men of embezzling funds from public works projects. The angry mob gathered in the morning to capture Mayor Juan Gómez, the municipal treasurer and two town council members.
The township, located just outside San Cristobal, Chiapas, has a long history of religious violence between a majority Catholic population and evangelical Protestants. But this particular unrest appeared to be motivated by corruption allegations. The crowd revolted based on evidence that municipal authorities allied with the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) falsified documents to create phantom construction projects, according to representative Juan López.
Mapuche Indians in Chile Struggle to Take Back Forests
August 11, Paiguen, Chile: Before the conquistadors arrived, and even for centuries afterward, the lush, verdant forests of southern Chile belonged to the Mapuche people. Today though, tree farms stretch in all directions here, property of timber companies that supply lumber to the United States, Japan and Europe.
But now the Mapuches, complaining of false land titles and damage to the environment and their traditional way of life, are struggling to take back the land they say is still theirs. As their confrontation with corporate interests has grown more violent, Chile’s nominally Socialist government has sought to blunt the indigenous movement by invoking a modified version of an anti-terrorist law that dates from the dictatorship of Gen. Augusto Pinochet (1973-1990).
Despite international protests, 18 Mapuche leaders are scheduled to go on trial soon, accused under a statute that prohibits “generating fear among sectors of the population.” The charges stem from a series of incidents during the past seven years in which groups of Mapuches have burned forests or farmhouses or destroyed forestry equipment and trucks.
“Clearly, this is a conflict in which some fairly serious crimes have been committed,” said Sebastian Brett, a representative of Human Rights Watch in Chile. “But that does not mean you can call the people involved terrorists. These are crimes, not against human life or liberty, but basically against property, and they stem from a wide sense of grievance among the Mapuches that they have illegally been deprived of their lands.”
To many Mapuches, the current dispute is merely the continuation of a conflict that has existed since the arrival of the conquistadors in the 16th century. Retreating south of the Bío-Bío River, they succeeded not only in fending off Spanish control but also in having their independence formally recognized in treaties, and were only incorporated into the Chilean state in the 1880’s as the result of a series of violent military expeditions.
After that, in a conscious imitation of the American method of dealing with indigenous peoples, Chile put the Mapuches onto reservations so that German, Italian and Swiss colonists could settle in the region. But by the 1920’s, policies had changed, and the Mapuches lost title to all but a tiny fragment of their ancestral lands through procedures they now describe as illegal.
“From the moment the Chilean state annexed Mapuche territory, and used violence to do so, the rule of law has never existed south of the Bío-Bío,” said Aucán Huilcamán, a leader of the Council of All Lands, a Mapuche group based in the city of Temuco. “The state refuses to recognize that we are a people with rights that were in force even before Chile existed as a nation and which remain in force today.”
Though Japanese and Swiss interests are active in the region that the Mapuches call “Araucanía,” both of the main forestry companies are Chilean-owned. On land the Mapuches claim is theirs, the firms have planted hundreds of thousands of acres with Monterey pine and eucalyptus trees, species that are not native to the region and that consume large amounts of water and fertilizer.
Native American & Land Rights Politial Prisoners:
Byron Shane Chubbuck
#07909051, US Penitentiary, PO Box 1000, Leavenworth, KS 66048. Indigenous rights activist serving time for robbing banks in order to acquire funds to support the Zapatista rebellion in Chiapas, Mexico.
#0173499, ECI, PO Box 215, Maury, NC 28550. Longtime Native American freedom-fighter being framed for a murder he did not commit.
#89637-132, PO Box 1000, Leavenworth, KS 66048. American Indian Movement (AIM) activist, serving two life sentences, having been framed for the murder of two FBI agents.
Luis V. Rodriguez
#C33000, PO Box 7500, Crescent City, CA 95532-7500. Apache/Chicano activist being framed for the murder of two cops.
#11186353, SRCI, 777 Stanton Blvd, Ontario, OR 97914. Dedicated Native rights advocate serving additional time for a prison insurgency.
David Scalera (Looks Away)
#13405480, TRCI, 82911 Beach Access Rd, Umatilla, OR 97882. Dedicated Native rights advocate serving additional time for a prison insurgency.
Andy J. Riendeau (John Two Names)
RELEASED! More details in next issue
Operation Civilization: The War That Is ALL Wars — A Strategic Assessment of the Domestic(ated) Frontline, by Saura Agni
“To secure ourselves against defeat lies in our own hands, but the opportunity of defeating our enemy is provided by the enemy itself. If we know the enemy and know our self we need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If we know our self, but not the enemy, for every victory gained we will also suffer a defeat. If we know neither the enemy nor our self, we will succumb in every battle”
– Sun Tzu, The Art of War
We are warriors committed to defeating our enemy – the totality of civilization – and reclaiming our lives as our own. The internalized systems of domestication: morals, rules, laws, orders – encoded into our psyche by parents, schools, religions, social norms, and spectacular illusions – are no longer (if they ever were) able to keep us in line. Force – decisive, violent, and often deadly – is the primary means used, by an ever-increasing array of military and paramilitary troops, to prevent us from attacking the ruling order we know is a mortal danger to all of life. Fearful of tables turned, the ruling class uses goon squads to attain, protect, and defend their tenuous positions of power and disappearing wealth. For most of us in the West, the daily face of that enforcement is the police: sheriffs, deputies, officers, Bobbies, peelers, cops, narcs, informants – pigs.
Pigs throughout the world have a clear and oft-repeated goal: to serve and protect – one they accomplish quite well. They serve and protect their own interests – particularly their interest in maintaining a position of authority and power, thus recreating the dominant order with every public contact. They serve and protect the machinery of civilization – the institutions, infrastructure, designers, maintainers, button-pushers, and apologists – from the likes of us. They serve and protect bourgeois and elite class order from the criminalized individual of lower standing who refuses to conform, cooperate, contribute to the greater good, follow orders, fall in line, get with the program, play by the rules, OBEY THE LAW.
Understanding civilization’s frontline offense and defense is crucial to developing successful strategies for our engagement in this undeclared, 10,000-year über war – Operation Civilization. This study is intended as a strategic assessment of the pig situation in present-day America. It looks at the origin, structure, focus, technology, and weaponry, as well as the social-political-economic apparatus inherent to the law and order system. Finally, it intends to highlight the always-present, ever-escalating, and often-violent resistance against the totality that required an institutionalized and increasingly pervasive mechanism of control.
1. The Imperial Origins of Swine Fever
The history of civilization is the history of conquest – murder, rape, robbery, lies and wholesale destruction. It is the history of the domestication of all of Earth’s inhabitants – starting with the human. As settled agricultural societies replaced nomadic hunter-gatherer and small-scale cultivating tribes, self-appointed patriarchs (and occasional matriarchs) battled – in the name of greed, glory, or God - for control of Everything. Rigid hierarchical order was enforced creating two classes of people – the rulers and the ruled, the master and slave, the haves and the have-nots, the rich and the poor, the civilized and the savage, and eventually – the righteous and the criminal. As new empires expanded their reach across the globe, defending their booty grew increasingly difficult. With both offensive and defensive armies constantly overextended, there were simply not enough loyal men left to enforce compliance within the conquered, but resistant, lower class.
Imperial Rome introduced the world to geopolitical divisions in the form of the city-state; and with a few more imaginary lines, they divided these areas into wards and precincts. This was done, in no small part, for the convenience of policing. Vigiles of 7 squads, each containing 1000 freedmen, monitored the precincts for fire and other human disruptions to the social order. Three cohorts of police, under the control of the army, augmented the less-thanloyal freedmen guards. The emperors had their own squads, the Praetorian Guard, the personal bodyguards to the generals and the political henchmen of the emperors. The Guard carried out political assassinations, assisted in the ascension of new emperors, created their own strategic disorders, and eventually wielded the imperial power themselves. The Guard was of course, eliminated. New controls were imposed on the new controllers and innovation – a harbinger of civilization – had arrived in force.
Armed with weapons, money, and God, imperialists spread their spectacular vision of civilization – obedience to the invisible (moral imperatives, religious dogma, imaginary lines drawn); discipline of the sword, truncheon, gallows, and especially of the marketplace; politics of identity and pocketbook; and cultural commodification – along with the means of enforcing this nightmare, everywhere they conquered.
In 9th century Britain, King Albert, in the face of growing internal strife and frequent incursions of competing empiredriven armies, divided the vast lands into sections called shires, to better force the ‘king’s peace’. This omnipresent version of peace is based on his Book of Laws – comprised of Christian morality – including the Ten Commandments – and a need to criminalize, for the ruled, those acts important to furthering the authority and power of the rulers. All peasant men of the shire were required to guard their tithing (area). They reported to a hundredman who was in turn commanded by the shire reeve, a local appointee of the King ‘paid’ through bribes, fines, and confiscations – of his own determination. This sheriff had to swear “…to keep the peace of our Lord the King well, and lawfully according to your powers, and shall arrest all those who shall make any contest, riot, debate or affray, in breaking of the said peace.” This first politipig exists today, still as an elected or appointed political position whose primary responsibility is to serve and protect his position, followed by the responsibility for establishing the prevailing socioeconomic order through various methods of coercion.
“…it is more enlightening to understand what can be called everyday forms of peasant resistance: foot dragging, dissimulation, feigned ignorance, false compliance, manipulation, flight, slander, theft, arson, sabotage, and isolated incidents of violence, including murder, passed off as CRIME. These forms of struggle stop well short of outright collective defiance, a strategy usually suicidal for the weak. While these kinds of resistance are often a form of individual protection or self-help, they are not trivial. They limit the imperial aspirations of lords, monarchs, colonialists, nationalistic parties, and dictatorships of the proletariat.”
–Forrest D. Colburn,
Everyday Forms of Peasant Resistance
Feudalism was the predominant socioeconomic system in medieval times. Through right of noble birth, and rewards granted for conquering new territory, the landed gentry created fiefdoms and built heavily guarded manors while the newly landless peasants were indentured to their lords. William the Conqueror demanded greater centralized control of his empire and its inhabitants. While the sheriff still enforced local order, he now reported to the comes stabuler (master of the horse). This constable was essentially the local military representative of the crown. He too was officially unpaid, but, like the sheriff, he found ways to keep himself well fed. For the next 200 years, depending on the social and political climate, the law and order machine shifted between greater and less-centralized control. But, it always remained ineffective against the rabble that had not yet learned that to act against the crown and manor was to act against God himself. Those who rebelled openly – especially en masse – were likely to have someone getting ‘medieval’ on them, with the newest technologies of torture. Less detectable acts of resistance were more widespread – insurgents conducted a myriad of (mostly) individual acts to gain what was needed, or to just fuck with those who were destroying their life. Poaching – the act of the peasant asserting his/her traditional claim to the land’s wood, water, food, and medicine – was common. If authorities encountered the poacher, other peasants acted in solidarity, often outnumbering the lawmen, who might find their cottages torched when they returned home. They were also beaten and often murdered for enforcing the foreign and unwelcome order. General noncompliance was used to mitigate the increasing demands for their pittance and labor, and for their unquestioning obedience. The struggle of the peasants to regain self-sufficiency and their desire for more autonomy (implied in the direct and active resistance) formed the very basis of the pigs’ existence.
“Crime is the necessary condition of the very existence of the State, and it therefore constitutes its exclusive monopoly, from which it follows that the individual who dares commit a crime is guilty in a twofold sense: first, he is guilty against human conscience, and, above all, he is guilty against the State in arrogating to himself one of its most precious privileges”.
Ethics: Morality of the State
The commons were being enclosed and traditionally held lands stolen, all converted to private property. The peasants were increasingly forced to work for others in order to pay rents – on land they and their ancestors had occupied for centuries. An increasing number relocated to the new cities to slave for the new merchants. The ruling classes imposed rents, taxes, fines, fees, dues, and other economic bonds of wage-slavery, ensuring a steady income, and even steadier labor pool. By the early 13th century, over half the adult male population was working for wages in the urban factories of the growing merchant class or as laborers on the large farms of the lords of the manor. Together with the peasant and slave, the oppressed proletariat was ripening for revolt.
Other rebellions were fomenting as well. With the opportunity for greater wealth and power presenting itself in rising local and international trade and the newly recognized value of rents and land speculation, ranks of the nobility and merchants sought to limit the power and wealth of the crown. To temporarily thwart the inevitable, King John sealed the Magna Carta in 1215 – a ‘charter of liberties’.
This document forms the basis of American law and includes such liberal deceptions as: no taxation without representation, trials by a jury of one’s peers, punishments that fit the crime, and the most absurd lie, that no one is above the law.
Liberated from the threat of poverty by exhibiting loyalty to the masters and granted (or taken by the always-successful violent force) sufficient means to create the illusion of a more independent life, the merchant class began to create petty-kingdoms of their own – on and by the backs of the laboring class. While sharing the fear of the peasant class rebellion with the ruling class, they had their own special fear as well. The bourgeois were (and remain today) desperately afraid of losing the material wealth and prestige they gained through their own ‘hard work’ (and no small amount of deceit, theft, and aristocratic loyalty payments) and being forced to return to the ranks of the nonspecial, barbaric, proletarian class.
With the ruling center in constant flux and disarray, a return to locally controlled protection and order was called for. In 1285, the part-time parish constabulary was augmented by the watch and guard system that required all able-bodied townsmen to take a turn protecting the closed village/town gates from sundown to sunrise. Using the Saxon hue and cry system, the watchmen alerted the residents who were required, under the threat of punishment, to join in the apprehension of ‘criminals’ – resistant, fellow members of the proletariat who liked to express their revolting joy under the cover of night.
By 1361, with the signing of the Justices of the Peace Act, centralized state control was re-established. Lords of the manor were given the authority to maintain order and law on behalf of the crown. With parish constables as their appointed agents, these justices of the peace (JPs), sought to stop the rabble from ‘stealing’ food, wood, water, and land. Incarceration in newly built prisons, brutal physical punishment, and public killing rituals were broadly applied to even small infractions. In 1381, when the Parliament – meeting in secret out of fear of the exploited classes’ reaction – proposed a new poll tax, the first major peasant revolt erupted in the streets of London. For three days built-up tensions were released in riotous splendor until quelled by the killers in the crown’s army.
Following the many wars and power struggles for control of Europe of the 15th century, the 16th century saw increased rebellions against the loss of land and ability to make a livelihood without oppression. In 1549 thousands of peasants tore down hedges and fences that had enclosed the common land in Norfolk. 13,000 troops were called to stop the rebellion. Thousands of peasants were killed and injured and the leaders executed for treason. Murder by the State for treason, theft, and witchcraft was instituted; with the single largest day of execution occurring in 1649 when 23 men and 1 woman were killed for burglary and robbery.
Crime continued to rise as the poor and oppressed fought for sustenance and relief from abject poverty. Some were confused about whom to target and brutalized fellow wage-slaves. The creative types took advantage of the middle class naiveté and property theft became an independent business of its own. The 18th century marked the rapid creation of institutions designed to ‘encourage’ civilized order. A reward program that offered forty pounds per thief captured was instituted and quickly became a new market for the innovative. Thieves set up other thieves and claimed the rewards. The ‘it takes a thief to catch a thief’ mentality was born out of the desperate attempt to hang on to every material manifestation that defined the elite’s social standing. Frequent working class riots led to the 1715 Riot Act; if 12 or more people gathered unlawfully or for purposes of disturbing the peace, a lawman would ‘read them the Riot Act’. Those who had not dispersed an hour later would be guilty of a felony. Peasants began using disguises, including blackened faces, while poaching in the woods. This led to the 1723 Blacks Act which made disguises, while worn in the woods, a crime punishable by hanging to death [bet you’d like that, eh pigs?]. In 1729 Thomas de Veil, a former soldier, became the first police commissioner in London, taking up office at #4 Bow Street and meting out severe sentences. Oliver Cromwell introduced a mounted cavalry operating by merciless savagery to enforce order in the busy streets of London, increasingly torn by economic uncertainty, deepening oppression, and continuous religious and laboring class struggles.
Exploration and colonization of the ‘New World’ may have been inspiring the adventuring nobility and speculative industrialists and merchant-capitalists at the end of this era, but it inspired only dread in the proletariat, as deportation to the new ‘prison colonies’ became the favored punishment for this increasingly criminalized class.
In 1748 Henry Fielding became the next police commissioner, promptly putting 15 men with pistols on the crowded streets. Induced with the payment of ‘blood money’, these Bow Street Runners guaranteed their capitalist clients a fifteen-minute response to calls for help. These red-vested pigs served and protected the interests of the middle class for ninety years. The new bourgeoisie needed their own pigs to guard their new bourgeois neighborhoods and new bourgeois businesses. The West India Merchants funded the first large-scale private police force, the Thames River Police, to guard the busy port from looters. The fearful middle class also created private street patrols, paid with a percentage of recovered stolen property; establishing the bounty system and making theft doubly profitable. This community-supplied and unarmed force remained the norm in Britain until the end of the 18th century.
The situation was very different for the persistently resistant Irish colony where the communities preferred to supply constant, often violent resistance to English control instead of assisting in its own oppression. The first paid, highly organized, centralized, and militarized force was established with the Dublin Police Act of 1786. With the signing of the 1800 Act of Union between Great Britain and Ireland the United Kingdom was official, but not welcomed gracefully by the original inhabitants of Ireland. In 1812, Robert Peel, a middle class Tory, was appointed Secretary for Ireland with a formal constabulary. This protestant force, whom the Irish rabble called peelers, was the paramilitary predecessor of the ever-mutating Swine Fever, serving and protecting the Reforming interests of the Empire.
Beginning in early 1811, textile workers began to meet in secret, at night, practicing tactics and maneuvers for an attack on the newly industrialized mills whose owners were cutting their already meager wages. By March, several attacks were occurring EVERY night and were expanding to other factory-targets throughout Britain.
Despite the offer of rewards and the deployment of four hundred new constables, the rebels – known as Luddites - maintained their pressure through early 1812. Frustrated by the continued, successful attacks, over 12,000 military troops were called into the target areas. The Frame Breaking Act of February 1812 made industrial sabotage (from the sabot – a wooden shoe – thrown into the mill machinery to halt its operation) a capital crime. The Luddite response – an attack on a textile factory guarded by armed militia. They followed this attack a week later by killing a factory owner. On April 20th thousands of workers attacked another mill being protected by armed guards. Several workers were killed – three days later the factory owner’s house was burned to the ground. Three days later a factory was burned. Four men were executed for the act, including a 12-year-old. By summer of 1812, twenty-three men were sentenced to death and thirteen transported to the prison colony in Australia for attacks on cotton mills. While attacks on the textile industry (continuing into 1817) did not stop the machinery, they proved that the wage-slaves were not only going to fight the oppression, but had the intelligence, creativity, decentralized organization, and popular proletariat support to wage their own offensive and defensive campaigns. The capitalists whined and cried for more civil troops to serve and protect them.
Peel was promoted to Home Secretary and promptly established a public police system in London. The Metropolitan Police Act of 1829 established the first Office of Police, which was headed by two commissioners, Charles Rowan (son of an Irish landowner) and Richard Mayne (son of a JP). Within two weeks, a plan for a new force was presented (and swiftly enacted). The first official pigpen was organized like a military unit, including a strict hierarchical organization with 6 divisions (with headquarters); sections and beats (named thus for the cadence required for a street cop to complete his rounds in 15-20 minutes, about 2.5 miles per hour); 1000 candidates; a uniform design and manufacturer; a pay scale; a General Instruction Book written by a former Bow Street Runner; a weapon (truncheon); and communication system (a rattle). The recruits came from the working class; usually agricultural, but always from outside of London. These cops – so-named for their tactics and derived from the verb caper, meaning to abduct or nab – were traitors hated by other members of their class and were unceasingly threatened and attacked. When Secretary Peel developed a passion for the Sandy Back pigs found in Ireland, he began to breed them himself, creating the Tamworth pigs and a new name for his army. These paid and specialized forces were required to “maintain order, predictability, and continuity of gesellschaft” – a society of the corporation/of the common good. In 1830, the Swing Riots by farm workers in southern England sought higher wages and the end to mechanization; 9 people were executed and hundreds imprisoned. This year also marked the first murder of an official pig when a Division G cop was stabbed to death.
With the 1835 Municipal Corporations Act authorizing other urban areas to establish their own police forces and the County Police Act in 1839 giving Justices of the Peace full control over public forces in the rural areas, no corner of the British Isles was free from Swine Fever.
By 1840, a middle class revolution, inspired by the bourgeois revolution in the North American colonies, threatened an end to monarchical power in England in favor of an elitist democracy. Industrial-capitalist economics with its inherent backbreaking, time-stealing, freedom-squashing, life-controlling mechanisms had nearly completed its replacement of the mercantile system. The peasant and wage-slave raged to break free, and attacked the bosses, lords, and cops with increasing fervor; and anarchists and socialists agitated for an end to the monarchy in favor of a classless society.
The forerunner of the modern police was fully established; organized and committed to serve and protect the domesticating order according to their masters’ plan. Increasingly complex connections between the military, international police, federal cops, secret police, paramilitary police forces, private pigs, and volunteer citizen traitors enforcing this horror of Civilization were developing, just out-of-view. The Political Era of Swine Fever was just beginning, and the simple, land-based, relatively autonomous lives of the original inhabitants of Britain – gone forever. Or are they?
Further chapters of this study will detail the growth and proliferation of this disease of greed and fear and the strategies, technology and weapons, and future battlefields of Operation Civilization: The War That Is All Wars.
Welcome to our nightmare: Mind Control
A team of scientists implanted electrodes in five rats’ brains in order to control their movements, effectively creating a robotic rat. These movements are ones a wild rat would never do willingly on its own. (It is also highly unlikely that a rat is going to participate in science experiments without coercion.)
The rats’ brains have been implanted with three electrodes and a power-pack strapped to the animal’s back. Using a signal from a laptop computer, two of the electrodes stimulate the rat’s brain to send it to the right or left. Of course, it takes more than the addition of artificial parts into the nervous system. The rats also require indoctrination in order to accomplish these foreign tasks. When the rat moves in the desired direction, it is rewarded by stimulation by the third electrode implanted in the brain’s pleasure center. To make the animal go straight, only the pleasure center needs to be stimulated.
A computer controls the rats’ movements from up to 1640 feet away. The animals could be forced to climb trees and ladders and jump from heights and even be commanded to venture into brightly lit, open areas that they would normally avoid.
Tiny video cameras are strapped to the rats’ back, in order to see whether they might be used to transmit images and sounds of people trapped inside ruins. The researchers claim the purpose of these experiments is to determine whether robo-rats could be used to save human victims of earthquakes, hurricanes, and other disasters. Unfortunately, the rat’s jerky movements and the size of the camera precluded good imagery in the initial trials. Consequently, the power backpack will be miniaturized for implanting beneath the skin. There is no mention whether the research team questioned the cause of the jerky movements of the victims.
John K. Chapin, head of the project, is reportedly opposed to using his technology to control humans, he thinks it ought to be ILLEGAL. Sure, John, laws will protect us against this nightmare. Perhaps Chapin could use a judicial history lesson having spent too much time studying and implementing ways to violate what some may call natural law. Chapin is in the Department of Physiology and Pharmacology, Center for Neurorobotics and Neuroengineering, State University of New York, Downstate Medical Center, 450 Clarkson Ave, Brooklyn, New York 11203, USA. firstname.lastname@example.org.
Checkout his lab: http://www.rybak-et-al.net/chapin.html
State Repression News from Around the World
April 9: Billy Cottrell E-Mail Group is Up and Running!
An e-mail group has been set up-up where people can get up-to-date information about Billy Cottrell, accused of involvement with the damaging of approximately 125 SUVs in a series of Earth Liberation Front actions. To subscribe, please send an e-mail with the word “Add”, in the subject line, to email@example.com
Along with joining the e-mail group and sending letters of support, Billy’s support & defense campaign have asked publishers to send him books and magazines (direct from their publishing address). So if you put out a zine, please include Billy (and all the other ecoprisoners) on your mailing list. You can write Billy at: William Cottrell #29526112, Metropolitan Detention Center, PO Box 1500, Los Angeles, CA 90053.
For a full list of all the eco-prisoners please e-mail ELP4321@Hotmail.com
May 22: OUTCOME OF FRENCH ANTI-GM TRIAL
Three French anti-GM activists from ‘Confederation Paysanne’ were found guilty of damaging Colza crops during an anti-GM protest in 1997 that had seen 600 people protesting against GM crops in Saint-Georges d’ Esperanche (Rodano-Alps region). The three were each fined 300 Euros and ordered to pay 4000 Euros in compensation to Monsanto, the owners of the trashed Colza GM crops.
May 27: SHAC Activists Accused of “Terrorism”!
The FBI’s domestic terrorism squad arrested a Seattle animal-rights activist on charges that he conspired to use illegal and coercive tactics to shut down a company that tests products on animals.
Joshua Harper was one of seven people arrested by agents in Seattle, California, New York and New Jersey as part of an investigation into SHAC (Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty).
In pursuit of its goal to shut down Huntingdon Life Sciences – a New Jersey product-testing company that SHAC accuses of “horrendous animal cruelty” – activists have torched Huntingdon employees’ cars, vandalized shareholders’ homes and made threats against their families, according to an indictment unsealed in May, 2004.
Harper, 29, faces a single felony count of conspiring to commit animal enterprise terrorism. If convicted, he could spend up to three years behind bars and be fined $250,000.
Released almost immediately pending further court hearings, Harper said: “These charges weren’t brought against me because I am a criminal or a terrorist. They have been brought against me because I have been very effective in my activism. As my activism has begun to affect the profit margins of companies that make their living by killing animals, they had to retaliate.”
Among the tactics SHAC promotes on its Web site is to encourage activists to target companies that have a business relationship with Huntingdon.
The indictment makes note of a July 2002 incident in which two Seattle office towers housing Marsh, an insurance company that did business with Huntingdon, were hit by smoke bomb attacks. Harper denied involvement in the smoke bomb attacks.
Harper, a self-proclaimed anarchist, says he sees “a spark of hope in every broken window, every torched police car and every mink running free as their hearts desire.”
Such tactics, Harper said in an interview with the Seattle Post-Intelligencer three years ago, are necessary to achieve his ultimate goal: “The complete collapse of industrial civilization.”
He has been repeatedly called to testify before grand juries investigating eco-terrorism and animal rights terrorism. Harper will not cooperate and typically invokes his Fifth Amendment right, refusing to talk. He considers himself a soldier, defending the Earth in a war being waged against the wilderness and wildlife.
Harper reports being arrested more than a dozen times. For 36 days in 1998, while suffering from testicular cancer, Harper went on a hunger strike in a Santa Ana, Calif., jail where he was being held on charges that he assaulted cops at a demonstration.
“We see ourselves as trying to save the world and every being on it,” said Harper. “It emboldens us to take extreme actions.”
Anarchist Press Targeted in Italy
In June 2004 Italian police raided a house in Pisa, Italy and arrested five people. The five are said to have links with “Il Silvestre” which publishes the radical eco/anarchist magazine Terra Selvaggia (see Green Anarchy #17 for more details.)
Green Anarchy is offering our full support to the Il Silvestre six and we strongly encourage the larger movement to do the same! The charges against them are totally spurious and have more to do with the State trying to control the flow of communication than with any earnest attempt to stop “illegal” activity. This is a blatantly transparent effort by the authorities to try and silence this active anarchist group. As an international movement we must not allow our Italian friends to be neutralized by the authorities.
Show your solidarity with the accused by sending urgent letters of support to:
Betta, c/o Il Silvestre, via del Cuore, 1, 56100 Pisa, Italy. Under house arrest accused of promoting sabotage and participating in direct action.
Gioacchino, c/o Il Silvestre, via del Cuore, 1, 56100 Pisa, Italy. Under house arrest accused of promoting sabotage and participating in direct action.
Leonardo, c/o Il Silvestre, via del Cuore, 1, 56100 Pisa, Italy. Under house arrest accused of promoting sabotage and participating in direct action.
Alessio Perondi, Casa Circondariale di Prato, Via La Montagnola 76, 59100 Prato, Italy. On remand accused of promoting sabotage and participating in direct action.
Costantino Ragusa, c/o Il Silvestre, via del Cuore, 1, 56100 Pisa, Italy. Under house arrest accused of promoting sabotage and participating in direct action. Also accused of being a ringleader of a large anti-GM protest.
Support the Underground/Dissident Press! Support the Free Circulation of Revolutionary Information! Support the Il Silvestre defendants!
June 24: Protesting Farmer Gets Six Years in Prison
A tobacco farmer who drove a tractor rig into a decorative pond on the Washington Mall in March 2003 and threatened to blow himself up was sentenced to six years in prison. Dwight W. Watson, 51, of Whitakers, N.C., was convicted of making a false threat to detonate explosives and of destroying federal property, charges that carried a prison sentence of up to 20 years. Watson has said he was protesting cuts in federal tobacco subsidies, which he claimed had forced him to close down his farm. His protest caused a 48-hour standoff with the police, shut down three federal buildings and snarled rush-hour traffic in the center of the capital.
Letter From Aaron Linas
American ELF prisoner Aaron Linas has asked to be removed from all prisoner lists as he is concerned that support from the radical environmental movement could harm his chance of appeal. Aaron explains: “My lawyers are working on a downward departure which might reduce my sentence. Also in the future, 7 years or so, I’m looking to get all this expunged off my record in order to get a job as a professor or biologist. So depending on my actions now will in turn effect that decision in the future.”
Although we feel Aaron has been given bad legal advice, Green Anarchy is naturally respecting Aaron’s wishes and removing his details from our lists. We would also ask other prison abolition projects to do the same, in accordance with his legal strategy.
Rob Thaxton Moved Again!
Anarchist prisoner, Rob Thaxton, has been moved. Rob is a long-time anarchist activist and writer, sentenced to over seven years in prison for throwing a rock at a cop at the June 18, 1999 Reclaim the Streets protest/riot in Eugene. Mail to Rob should now be addressed: Robert Thaxton #12112716, MCCF, 4005 Aumsville Hwy, Salem, OR 97301
Anarchist Prisoner Matt Lamont Moved!
Anarchist/anti-fascist prisoner, Matt “Rampage” Lamont, has been moved. Lamont is serving time for allegedly planning to attack a white supremacist gathering. Mail to Matt should now be addressed: Matthew Lamont, #T90251/D3-140, 44750 W. 60th Street, Lancaster, California, 93536.
Support Thomas Meyer-Falk!
Thomas Meyer-Falk is a “Red Skin”(red and anarchist skinhead) political prisoner who’s been locked up since 1996. Thomas was originally sentenced for a bank robbery that was carried out to raise money for political projects. Thomas has further provoked the wrath of the German legal system during his incarceration, incurring many more additional charges, and is now looking at spending a total of 15 years, 9 months and three weeks in prison. There is an English-language website dedicated to supporting Thomas, which can be accessed at: www.freedom-for-thomas.de Thomas can be contacted by mail at: Thomas Meyer-Falk, c/o JVA-Z. 3117, Schoenbornstr. 32, D-76646 Bruchsal, Germany
July 2: Eugene Man Arrested for Vandalism of Logging Equipment!
A 19-year-old Eugene man has been charged with aggravated theft, criminal trespass and other crimes for allegedly helping steal a bulldozer and other equipment from a logging site in Douglas County in April. Sheriff’s deputies arrested Tucker Allan Williams of Eugene and 18-year-old Trevor John Swafford of Drain on identical charges; they are both being held in the Douglas County Jail. The pair allegedly used the stolen dozer to do $17,000 in damage to BLM gates, roads and signs near a logging site operated by Seneca Jones Timber Co. and Miller Timber Logging Co. just outside of Drain, Oregon (see Green Anarchy #17 for more details.)
July 4: Sherman Austin Released from Prison!
Political prisoner Sherman Austin, who made headlines last year after being targeted as one of the first casualties of the infamous USA PATRIOT Act, was released from prison and left Arizona to return to Los Angeles, California. The nightmare doesn’t end there for Sherman, though. He will be remanded to the custody of a halfway house where he will serve the remainder of his sentence. Starting now and continuing through the next three years, Sherman will be serving an additional sentence of federal probation, under which he will not be allowed to use a cell phone, computer or other digital device unless designated by the government. In addition, Sherman has been forbidden any contact with “anarchist groups,” which the federal government maintains “advocate violence as a means of disrupting order and achieving social, economic and political change.”
The terms of his probation are a continuing attempt to silence Sherman and keep him from interacting with political groups that he identifies with, in addition to further intense monitoring by the federal government.
Mid-July, Utah: Activist Admits Setting BYU Fire!
An 18-year-old man has admitted to setting fire to an animal science facility on the Brigham Young University campus on behalf of a militant animal-rights organization, according to court documents made public in mid-July. Harrison David Burrows appeared in U.S. District Court on one charge of destruction of property by fire and a second count of use of a destructive device during the commission of a crime. Combined, the charges carry a minimum 35-year prison sentence and a maximum 50-year term!
The July 8 fire caused an estimated $30,000 damage and was the third attack on the facility since May. In all three incidents, perpetrators left behind spray-painted messages indicating they were involved with the Animal Liberation Front, a loosely organized, decentralized, cellstructured group.
According to charging documents, Burrows told an FBI agent he and another man entered BYU’s Ellsworth Farm in the early morning hours of July 8 carrying several plastic containers of combustible fuel. Burrows said he poured the fuel on large cardboard bales in a recycling area of the farm and then lit the material with a match. Burrows also allegedly told investigators he called a local television station and claimed responsibility in the name of ALF.
According to other documents, a BYU police officer questioned Burrows and another man at the scene of the fire. Burrows told the officer he and his roommate stopped to watch the fire, and he gave police his birth date and address. Investigators searched the address two weeks after the fire, and found a tool identical to one taken from the farm, animal-rights literature and a birdcage identified as one taken from the farm the night of the fire, documents state.
Burrows, and his co-defendant, Joshua Stephen Demmitt, also 18, both pled guilty in court to arson and are scheduled to be sentenced in January. What the Hell happened here?!
In related news, on October 1, two ELF combatants accepted plea deals before judges in a U.S. Court in Utah. One of them, Justus A. Ireland, 23, admitted to starting a fire at Stock Building Supply in West Jordan, Utah on June 14, and spray-painting “ELF” at the scene. The identity of his co-defendant and the terms of their plea bargain are yet unknown to us. public attention on the United State’s and U.S. corporate involvement in the plight of violently repressed peoples in other bioregions.
Mid-August: Ray Luc Levasseur is Free!
Political prisoner Ray Luc Levasseur was released from federal prison. Ray has returned home to Portland, Maine, where he is being forced to stay in a halfway house.
Raymond Luc Levasseur, now 57, was a member of the “United Freedom Front” (UFF), an underground group responsible for 19 bombings and 10 bank robberies over a nine-year period that began in the 1970s. Arrested in the 1980s, Levasseur has spent the past 20 years in custody for his role in the actions. He was released this August, to be supervised by the government for the remainder of his sentence. He is still technically serving his sentence in the community.
While on parole, Levasseur will be required to stay in the state of Maine and keep in touch with his parole officer, and he is barred from using illegal drugs or engaging in criminal conduct. A parole violation could result in having to complete his sentence in prison.
The government tried the UFF in 1985-86 for bombing 19 courthouses, banks, corporations, and military installations in Massachusetts and New York from 1976 to 1984. After each attack – including the 1976 bombing of the Suffolk County Courthouse in downtown Boston that injured 22 people – the group issued communiqués accepting responsibility and advocating the government’s overthrow. The group also allegedly robbed at gunpoint nearly $900,000 from 10 banks in Maine, Connecticut, Vermont, New York and Virginia.
They were charged under federal indictment for the bombings of IBM, Union Carbide, Motorola, as well as the South African government offices in New York City. No one was injured in the bombings although property damage was extensive. These actions were part of a militant plan to use “Propaganda Bombing” as a tool to get media and public attention on the United State’s and U.S. corporate involvement in the plight of violently repressed peoples in other bioregions.
The Green Anarchy Collective extends our heartfelt support and solidarity to Ray!
For Ted (Thanks For All Your Help)
McDonalds, drug stores, banks on every block
Mathematics, hunched over my desk all day long
Something just wasn’t right
I went through school, pretending not to notice
In a lab somewhere, studies always proceeding,
Perhaps VX nerve gas is being developed?
Outside-trees fall, oil pumps, mountains overturn; to further this research,
And promote all that’s horrid.
A vicious circle…
Ignored the twisting of my gut and the knots in my throat,
Brought on by stories and images.
Look to the bright side of species extinction, extirpation
And greenhouses are places where gardeners work
Insomnia engulfs feigned ignorance.
I was always quick to learn, and I understand too much
For countless years I tried to warn you
But even the most careful eyes are blind
Convenience and progress weave the thickest wool
I tried to reach you through my writings, I never wanted to hurt anyone
It didn’t have to come to this,
Gave up my typewritter for a sword.
It is a fierce green howl of the wild always calling,
Freedom, stolen from everything without a voice
Wolf, Tree, Moss, Canyon, River, Cloud, Ocean…
So I gave away a false life, fell in love with a forest
Forever surrounded in lush Montana
I see the money growing from an olive branch
I witnessed failure of hope, peace, justice
And the future is bleaker than the past,
The time to force retribution was drawing near.
So, I sent messages, impossible to ignore or forget
As the smoke fades and drifts away,
Bodies lie cold upon the floor
And if the Earth continues burning,
Those who kill her shall live in fear and torment,
I find you guilty of crimes against the whole of life
Your fine will be more than economic.
I will stop the trees from falling,
Before I draw my final breath of sweet forest air,
You will pay tenfold for your destruction,
This time, the penalty is death. I was hidden in Montana,
Trapped alone with visions and ideals,
Twenty Five years I sought revenge for everything wild,
Twenty Five years and then they came,
Delivered me to a cold metal hell,
Gone forever; but a crack in the concrete remains,
A deep-rooted blade of grass serves as manifesto.
— sue h.
MOVE is a radical ecological movement that has been attacked by the Philadelphia Police since its inception. Nine members were convicted and sent to prison for life following a 1978 siege at their house in which one cop was killed by another cop. One of those nine, Merle Africa, died in prison after being denied medical treatment.
Debbie Simms Africa #006307,
Janet Holloway Africa #006308,
Janine Philips Africa #006309,
451 Fullerton Ave, Cambridge Springs, PA 16403-1238.
Michael Davis Africa AM4973,
Charles Simms Africa AM4975,
Box 244, Grateford, PA 19426-0244 SCI Grateford.
Edward Goodman Africa AM4974,
Box 200, Camp Hill, PA 17011-0200 SCI Camp Hill.
William Philips Africa AM4984,
Delbert Orr Africa AM4985,
Drawer K, Dallas, PA 18612 SCI Dallas.
For more info, check out:
United Freedom Front (UFF)
The following three individuals are serving huge sentences for their role in actions carried out by the (UFF) in the 1980’s. The UFF carried out solidarity bombings against the US government on a variety of issues.
Jaan Karl Laaman
W41514, Box 100, South Walpole, MA 0207.
#10373-016, Box 1000, Leavenworth, KS 66048.
#10377-016, 3901 Klein Blvd., Lompoc, CA 93436
The Garden of Peculiarities: Fragment 14, by Jesús Sepúlveda
In the pamphlet “Reform or Revolution,” written at the end of the 19th century, Rosa Luxemburg advocated the end of the salary system, in opposition to the reformist program of Bernstein, which was centered in the labor struggles for better wages through systemic reforms. The history of social struggle in the last few centuries has been divided into two camps with different totalitarian tendencies: those who prefer the ends to the means or vice versa. This has led to sectarian or naive politics, in turn leading, depending on the particulars of the case, to fanaticism or vacillation. The radical course is certainly to abolish the wage system. However, faced with a situation of subsistence or material want, every penny means a substantial difference in terms of the daily survival of the dispossessed. To deny this penny to those who die of hunger every day is to fall into vanguardist self-righteousness. It is to deny solidarity.
Capitalism, whether state or private, has taken advantage of the reduction of human life to the realm of the material. By raising standards of living, it has laid waste to quality of existence, and it has destroyed on a terrible scale our natural resources. In societies that are dependent on mass production, the notion of a good standard of living functions as a counterweight to compensate for the alienation produced by the industrial way of life, and at the same time this notion creates the fantasy of consumption. To be able to choose between manufactured products—produced by forced labor in a dependence economy—is seen as an exercise of liberty. This is clearly a strategy of standardization. In the current model, the worker’s role is to form part of the systemic gears that limit the possibilities of imagination and enslave human life through wage dependence. Salary is a quantification of the value that the system assigns to every human life. Its ultimate function is the mercantilization of human beings. Every individual in this process is reduced to an economic unit—or piece of merchandise— whose labor is to produce and consume. In this way the subject acts as one more input to the productive paraphernalia imposed by social machinery. Established differences between groups and classes are not only related to the position and role assigned in this paraphernalia, but also to the capacity for consumption and acquisition of goods and services. This consumerism is destined to decompress labor pressure, bureaucraticadministrative insanity, and the injustices of the process of the sale of the labor force. Two elements guarantee submission to the social system. On one hand, forced dependence of entire populations on the companies that make and distribute products of mass consumption. On the other hand, the maintenance of a high number of marginalized peoples, seasonal workers and the permanently unemployed, who operate, according to Marx, as a “reserve army.” In this case, getting a job is often a privilege that permits subsistence, erasing and hiding its enslaving and domesticating character. It is reinforced by sedentarism and subjugation to a rigid schedule, symbolized by the act of “punching the clock,” or the factory whistle that announces the return from lunch hour.
In the Romance languages the word work comes from the Latin root “tripalium”: the name given to an instrument of torture used by the Romans which consisted of a framework of three sticks. In the Anglo-Saxon world, the word “work” comes from the Scottish “weorc,” a theological term that refers to all the moral activities that can be considered the justification of life. Usually its use is in contrast to the idea of “destiny” or “grace.” The imposition of work as a torturous activity, or justifying action of hypocritical and self-righteous pragmatism, is a way of assuring domestication. Salaried work assures the territorialization of entire populations in zones delimited by authoritarian institutions. In this way, the state guarantees the sedentarism and social control necessary to administrate production.
The Latin “domus” means house, the etymological root of domestication and domiciliation—two processes, which articulate themselves together in the sense that the state extends its material presence to establish its dominion. A clear example of territorialization can be found in indigenous reservations, which openly emulate concentration camps or state relocation centers. Ghettoes are another example. There is also constant repression of those who are in permanent movement: nomads, gypsies, vagabonds, etc. In the present circumstances, dominant legality provides no space for the homeless: indigents that the system rejects and ignores because they alter the process of domiciliation. Curfew and state of siege are two crudely repressive manifestations created by this process. Certainly, along with domiciliation comes numbering. First it was numbers on houses, later individuals: telephone numbers, computer passwords, national identification numbers, social security or union cards, etc. This is how ideology constructs its methods of identification and inserts the notion of identity while at the same time fostering human commodification. Every creature is converted into a digit easily archived, categorized and reified. Domestic animals are numbered and become domestic fetishes. People are transformed into pure merchandise of numbered identity. The market, through the assigning of digits that classify everyone as such and such unit of production, consumption, profit or loss mediates this numeric social role. This is the true wage. And for this reason, the wage system and monetary value are inherent to the system. To undo one it is necessary to destroy the other.
The utilitarian ideology that reduces human life to the realm of the material and economic is the matrix of the system. Its theoretical base is part of the different narratives elaborated by instrumental reason. Its political practice is domestication, which is supported by the squads of state repression and the self-justifying legal body. Its objective is the perpetuation of the civilized order. This falsifies the world, promoting a perception of reality distant from true totality and reducing life to artificially constructed numbers (e.g. graphs and statistics.) In order to dismantle this ideology it is necessary to avoid standardizing reduction and to foment the flowering of the peculiarities of every creature that inhabits the planet.
Perhaps the first step is to learn to appreciate all that which is found outside of the civilized order, eluding the civilizing gestures so many times taught in the home and school. Maybe it is necessary to imagine an existence full of ends and means, which intersect—as Octavio Paz says—in a “perpetual present.” Maybe it won’t be so difficult to recognize the necessity of leisure. Maybe solidarity is possible without having to choose a, b, c or d, the base of the cretinizing logic of multiple choice. The contradiction between revolution and reform is not quite accurate; it certainly varies according to the state of the perpetual present. An individual is revolutionary only when there is revolution; the rest of the time he or she resists or provokes authority. And in neither case should solidarity retract the ends or the means. If it were this way, it would mean that everything human and natural had been reduced to the zone of the economic. It would also mean that nothing had changed, except the jargon that accelerates or slows down the rhetoric of the friction that plays along the executioner’s wall during war or class struggle.
Corrosive Anti-toxins, Transgressive Dreams, and Further Symptoms of the System’s Meltdown
“The game we are about to join is the game of our creativity. Its rules are radically opposed to those which govern our society. It is a game of loser wins: what is left unsaid is more important than what is said, what is lived is more important than what is shown on the level of appearances. And it has to be played out to the end. How can anyone who has suffered oppression till his very bones rebel turn down the life-raft offered him by his will to live without reservations? Woe betide those who abandon their violence and their radical demands along the way. As Nietzsche noted, murdered truths become poisonous. If we do not reverse perspective, Power’s perspective will succeed in turning us against ourselves once and for all. German fascism was spawned in the blood of Spartakus. Our everyday renunciations – no matter how trivial – lend fuel to our enemy, who wants nothing short of our total death.”
– Raoul Vaneigem, The Revolution of Everyday Life
June 4, Granby (Colorado): Bulldozer Rampage Shatters Mountain Town
A local muffler shop owner who plowed his makeshift armored bulldozer into several buildings over a dispute with city officials was found dead in the heavily-fortified machine after a SWAT team gained access with explosives. Police reports claim he died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Inside, police found several guns and a closed circuit TV that enabled the berserk pilot to see outside the bulldozer. Authorities identified Marv Heemeyer, 52, as the man who shocked the mountain town of 1,500 people by careening his armor-plated bulldozer into buildings and vehicles along the town’s main street. During his destructive rampage, Heemeyer also crashed his “battle ready” bulldozer into several downtown businesses and government buildings (including the town hall and library), and fired a number of shots at cops who struggled to stop him.
The bulldozer blitzkrieg ended after more than an hour of carnage when the machine smashed into Gambles department store and stalled there. That night, authorities tried to blast holes through the armor but failed. Heemeyer, who had welded himself completely into the moving fortress, remained inside and his dead body was not discovered until the following morning. Town residents said Heemeyer was upset about a concrete plant built on the west edge of town near a muffler shop he owned. Other residents were also opposed to the plant, but Heemeyer was among the most vocal opponents. Heemeyer often threatened to get back at town officials, the concrete plant and others who supported it, said Matt Reed, who has known Heemeyer about seven years.
The incident started about 3 p.m. when Heemeyer arrived at the Mountain Park Concrete plant. His bulldozer took out a white SUV and a forklift at the plant. It also damaged another building at the site and then headed 4 to 5 miles through town.
The tanklike bulldozer went on to hit the Town Hall, the town newspaper office, the home of the former mayor, and a hardware store owned by another man Heemeyer had named in a lawsuit. “He was making quite a point with this,” said Rick Kramer, a local who said he knew Heemeyer. “He’s gone after everyone who crossed him.” Four years ago, Heemeyer sued the town of Granby, the town’s Board of Trustees, a business park and an industrial park. Heemeyer argued that the town shouldn’t rezone an area near his muffler shop to accommodate the cement plant. The case dragged on from the Fall of 2000 to April 2002, when a local judge dismissed the case, according to court records.
The destruction wrought by Heemeyer’s 13-foot-tall bulldozer was marked by a clearly discernable trail of white bite marks that the bulldozer’s tracks etched into the black pavement – and by numerous spent bullet casings, their locations marked by yellow evidence tags. All told, after Heemeyer unleashed his long-simmering anger at the zoning decision, 13 buildings were destroyed and hundreds of rounds of fire were exchanged with police. At one point, Grand County Undersheriff Glen Trainor rode atop the hulking bulldozer trying to gain entry. “It looks like Baghdad,” said a radio reporter for KRKY-AM who covered the story from the beginning. Heemeyer’s tricked-out bulldozer – dubbed the “Armageddon Tank” by town residents – was purchased two years ago and was evidently several months in the making.
June 4, Alabama:
Faron Barksdale, who’s charged with capital murder in the shooting deaths of two Athens cops, pleaded not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect. Defense attorneys said Barksdale, 25, is a paranoid schizophrenic and didn’t know what he was doing. He’s accused of requesting police assistance, then gunning down Sgt. Larry Russell and Officer Tony Mims when they arrived.
June 7, New Fairfield, Connecticut: Arson Attack on High School Principal
“The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.” – William Blake An explosive described by authorities only as a homemade incendiary device was thrown onto the driveway of the principal of New Fairfield High School. No one was injured. Officials said the incident occurred just weeks after the same school received two bomb threats that resulted in at least one evacuation. The principal is now receiving police protection.
June 8, Canada: Sabotage of Telecommunications Network
Two critical fibre optic cables belonging to the Aliant Corporation were deliberately cut in Newfoundland and Labrador, which resulted in a “loss of service” for close to 250,000 customers living on the Avalon Peninsula, including St. John’s and the surrounding communities, as well as some areas of the West Coast of the province. The customers affected were unable to access long-distance, cellular, Internet and data services. These recent cable cuts add to the more than 20 “suspicious” attacks on the telecommunications network in Atlantic Canada that have taken place over the course of a labor dispute between Aliant and its employees (see GA #17 for more background). The particular cables were buried in enclosures several feet underground and were further protected by wooden covers, gravel and a large, heavy boulder. The sabotaged aboveground cable was located at the top of a 20-foot pole and would most likely take significant time, knowledge and expertise to access.
June 10, Miami, Florida:
33 vehicles were vandalized in the Hammock District Police Station parking lot in the early morning hours. Tires were slashed and the exteriors of the vehicles were damaged, including eighteen marked police cruisers, four unmarked cruisers, and 11 personal cars belonging to Sheriff’s Department employees.
June 13, Buenos Aires (Argentina):
A cop shot and killed 24-year-old Lisandro Barrau after he did not immediately stop when told to do so. The police say it was an accident. Later that night, friends of Lisandro and people from the neighborhood gathered and attacked a police station, throwing stones and a gasoline firebomb which destroyed the front entrance. The “forces of order” were unable to disperse the unruly crowd.
June 13, Tacoma, Washington: Shot Fired at Police Car is Called Revenge Attack!
A man arrested after a shot was fired at a police car said he was seeking revenge for the killing of his half brother, Harold McCord Jr., who was murdered in a police raid last year. Washington State pigs said the 26-year-old man was in a car with three other people when a shot was fired at a cop pursuing them in a patrol car. As reported in GA#14, Harold McCord, 36, used a fake gun made of cardboard to escape from the Pierce County Courthouse on June 23, 2003. The next day he was shot seven times as police raided an apartment in Monroe where he was hiding.
June 15, Lodi, California: Posing as Mechanic, Man Steals Police Car!
A Lodi man was arrested after allegedly posing as a body shop employee and taking a police car from a city maintenance yard. Levi Spears, 19, was caught when police tracked calls he was making on a police cell phone. An investigation showed that Spear’s adventure had gone well beyond just a spin around the neighborhood. He got into a minor collision with another vehicle, told witnesses he was an undercover police officer and then left the scene. When arrested by the local pigs, with whom he’d had other run-ins, Spears said he “just couldn’t help himself.”
June 18, Birmingham, Alabama:
The shooting deaths of three city pigs brought to eight the number of cops killed “in the line of duty” this year in Alabama. That ranks Alabama second in the US, California being first with 10 dead pigs. The three cops in Birmingham were killed while attempting to serve a warrant at a home.
June 30, Gainesville, Virginia:
Three teenagers were arrested and charged with causing $73,000 damage to their high school. They discharged fire extinguishers and poured paint and paint thinner on the floors.
July 1: Striking Teachers Clash with Police in Peru
Hundreds of striking teachers burned buildings and looted bank teller machines during clashes with riot police that injured 34 people and led to 15 arrests. The violence broke out after riot police used tear gas to flush some 350 teachers out of city offices they had begun occupying earlier in the week. The union teachers and several hundred more sympathizers first looted and set a fire at a hotel belonging to the mayor, blaming him for sending in the police. They then blocked roads with large rocks and burning tires and also hurled stones at firefighters to keep them from reaching the blaze.
The disgruntled mob also smashed open bank teller machines on the city’s main colonial plaza and stole the money inside. Rioters later sacked and set fire to three other buildings belonging to the regional government, the police and the local lawyers’ association.
July 2, Venice (Italy):
A man described as “mentally ill” by Italian police has been arrested and is believed to be behind a spate of vandalism the previous weekend against priceless religious statues in Venice. At least four known acts of vandalism were carried out: three hammer attacks on the hands of centuries – old religious figures, and the destruction of a neighborhood Madonna statue without “artistic value.”
Authorities searching for days for the culprit had feared more damage to the canal city, whose countless artistic treasures make it a veritable open-air museum. The millions of practicing Catholics in Italy were not asked to undergo psychiatric evaluation.
July 4, Springfield, Oregon: Fireworks Cause Power Outage
If anything positive occurred during the deafening and inescapable nationalistic din going on in the Eugene area on “Independence Day”, it was a brief power outage in downtown Springfield that is believed to have been caused by an errant firework that landed on a power line. There were reports of power failures all over the downtown area, affecting homes and signal lights.
July 4, Alva, Oklahoma:
Roofing nails were thrown in the driveways of the mayor, city manager and a city councilwoman. The mayor reportedly was puzzled as to why someone would target “elected officials.”
Early July, Algeria: June Explosion Revealed To Be A Bombing
The Algerian police have now admitted that an earlier June 21 blast at a power plant near Algiers, which authorities had first insisted was an accident, was actually a bombing.
July 6, Washington D.C.: Another Clone Factory Attacked!
Fire investigators are seeking those responsible for throwing a brick and lit fireworks through a school window. The resulting blaze caused $15,000 damage to Drew Elementary School in Northeast Washington.
July 6, Diepsloot (South Africa):
Rumors that the government was planning to evict residents of this squatter community ignited a three-day rebellion, as crowds of people barricaded the entrances to the neighborhood, threw rocks at cops and journalists, and burned two city council buildings. Riot police intervened with water cannons and two armored personnel carriers, arresting about 19 people and using a section of the “police act” to seal-off the area and prohibit journalists from entering it. Those who were arrested, as well as their supporters, threatened further unrest if the charges against them are not dropped.
July 11, Louisville, Kentucky: Police Boat Sabotaged
Fire destroyed one Louisville Metro Police river patrol boat and damaged a second boat AND the boathouse at Waterfront Park. Damages were estimated at $15,000. Arson is suspected in the fire, which broke out around 1am, said Lt. Robert Graham of the river patrol.
July 15, Eugene, Oregon: Police Find 2 Bombs at Separate Locations
The Eugene Police bomb squad destroyed two explosive devices discovered in two separate incidents. The first incident occurred when a cop conducting a traffic stop found a bomb in a car on East Second Avenue. Eugene detectives said the device wouldn’t have caused much damage had it blown, but the explosives unit responded and “rendered it safe.” The car’s driver, Wade Edward Stutts, was being held in the Lane County Jail on a charge of possessing a destructive device.
Then, shortly before noon, the explosives unit was called out to a local “Petsmart”, where a customer had found a pipe bomb in the parking lot and (for some reason) carried it into the store. Local bomb cops then arrived and also “rendered it safe.”
July 2004: Schools Under Fire Across Canada!
Anti-school actions appear to be on the rise in Canada, as we’ve learned from a packet of news clippings received in late July. On July 10, in Alberta, 24 windows were broken at the small-town Cremona School. On July 8, in Ontario, a firebomb thrown at the Hillcrest School in Owen Sound caused minor damage. And earlier in the month (July 5), in British Columbia, a group of rebel youth on bikes threw a firebomb at the Rayleigh Elementary School around midnight, but it exploded on a pathway beside the building.
August 4, Florida: Armed Standoff Ends After Judge Fakes Resignation on TV
A judge pretended to resign from his post on live television to end a standoff in which a gunman held an attorney hostage and threatened to set a bomb off in a high-rise. Duval County Judge Sharon Tanner, who authorities said had handled a case involving the gunman, gave the bogus resignation on camera as local stations were covering the hostage incident live. Her resignation was among the gunman’s demands. The attorney, Christopher Hazelip, was freed unharmed and the gunman surrendered shortly later.
Mid August, Copenhagen, Denmark:
A 21-year-old man under the influence of “magic mushrooms” attacked three cops as they attempted to take him into “psychiatric” custody. One pig needed stitches under his eye, and the other two suffered minor concussions.
September 3, England: Attacker Charges Entrance of Spy Agency
A man wielding a machete and a knife attacked two security guards at the building housing the headquarters of the British domestic intelligence service MI5 in London. The man charged the entrance of the building beside the River Thames and attacked the two security guards before armed police arrived and subdued him with a stun gun.
September 11, Germany:
An unemployed teacher received a four-month suspended sentence and was ordered to perform community service for slapping German Chancellor Gerhard Schroder in the face at a Social Democratic Party event. The man, Jens Ammoser, 52, had been upset about the government’s deep cuts in welfare and had sought to address his grievances directly. Chancellor Schroder described Ammoser as a “scatterbrain” and added that “physical assault was a unacceptable way of expressing political dissent”.
About getting free from the myth of Revolution, by Pablo A.
Since I was a little boy I’ve felt how my desires for freedom have been more than powerful. Even more powerful than that omnipresent Christian morality that wanted me to be obedient and quiet, charitable and weak. During those days of childhood emerged as a very strong force within myself, an inevitable struggle not to allow the offensives of modern life to hurt me, and to set myself free from the possible chains this same life would have installed in me. Those were unconscious and spontaneous processes. At 9, when I wished to drop out of school and learn on my own the things I was interested in, there was no ideology holding my arguments for freedom. There was no system of ideas telling me to hate that adult discrimination towards kids, putting them as ignorants, disabled and modifiable by punishment. It seemed simply absurd and very harmful that we were not allowed to have our own opinion (or that they have to authorize us to have one, in the first place), that we had to fulfill expectations that weren’t our own, and that we couldn’t just do what we wanted to do.
As the years passed by, I had the luck (or the misfortune, as some of my closest repressive leaders would say) to get in touch with people, books, bands and organizations that, in one way or another, channeled those uncontrollable desires for freedom. And that fact (my search for freedom being channeled) has had positive and negative effects. The positive ones are those we all know in the radical movement: the creation and integration of an international community of wonderful people working for diverse ends and with different means, with a similar spirit of liberty and happiness, the learning of multiple artistic disciplines, the liberation from traditions and other paradigmatic repression’s, among other things. The negative effect are those unconscious things allowed by that Western flavor that’s present in almost every thing we do, that almost inevitable installation of a universal and universalistic language in our daily life.
Of those negative effects that radical thought (or whatever you want to call the group of ethics, aesthetics and ideological systems that tend to put freedom as the priority and as a human necessity) has had in me, there is one that I’m particularly worried about. And it’s related to those protolibertarian desires I had in my days as a little kid. It’s precisely about the conceptual systematization of natural, self-taught and absolutely uncontrollable impulses and the desire for freedom. It’s about the limits that ideology and “libertarian movements” impose themselves, whether by making their members or supporters feel guilty through installing a unique moral speech, or determining a discriminatory plane of action and theory. Guilt is one of the worst inheritances of the Western Christian tradition, and it works as an excellent method of social control. And with making their members or supporters guilty through installing a unique moral speech, I’m talking about the creation (consciously or unconsciously) of certain behavioral standards that would govern these members and supporters. They vary in shape and color according to place and moments, but are, basically, those assumptions that seem to settle comfortably in the base of ideologies. Class struggle, social war and protest as revolutionary methods, in the classic position. And within more sophisticated groups (not to say, even, bourgeois): vegetarianism, nonviolence and the last tendencies of life-style revolution, such as shoplifting and political graffiti and stenciling. The dangerous thing is not ideas or actions themselves, but the framework where they get to install themselves: these are ideas and actions that are pretty attractive and they seem to be intensely subversive. Because of the same, they begin to install themselves as necessary, as correct methods, and mainly, as “good”. I’m talking about the unconscious imposition of guilt in ourselves, when we’re not doing the right thing according to those named standards. I’m talking about the uncomfortable feeling of being a failure to the world, to us, to the radical movement by driving a car, buying at the supermarket, eating meat or its sub products. I’m talking even about the self-repression of impulses due to this same guilt.
At the same time, and very related to this, there is the tendency of some individuals and groups to determine a plane of theory and action on which one’s supposed to act (also correctly) to successfully realize those desires for freedom, revolution or whatever it is. This comes usually from those interesting theories that claim they’ve found the precise point of the origin of our tragedies (hegemony of economics, Christian morals, incorrect distribution of resources, patriarchy or even a “bad” way to deal with the “real” capitalism). For these, we have pacifists telling us that violent protest works against any possible change. We have anarcho-syndicalists telling us that once the means of production are in our hands (or the “workers”) everything’s going to change. (It’s important to say that I’m referring to “isms”, and not to individuals that adhere to or participate in any ideology).
This is how, besides a right way to act, there is a right perspective, the place to look at the world from, to comprehend it and understand which are the right actions to solve its conflicts. Before these two impositive positions, driven mainly by the individual and collective unconsciousness, I was only to celebrate the sane and nicely pure chaos of the “ansias libertinas” of my childhood. Before this insistent Western mindset, manifested subtly in the radical movement, I only had to desire a constant and daily re-invention of my desires for freedom (let’s understand it now and once and for all: freedom for me, freedom for everyone; freedom, freedom, freedom!). I’m not proposing the reactionary Peter Pan (“be kids forever”, thus locking up those playful and free characteristics as only for infants), nor a coming back to the Paleolithic as a paradise. I’m not proposing the eternal “nostalgia” for past times, or even less the abuse of subversive/ situationist literature to light up hearts (by that way liberating ourselves from some old charges of Revolution) and not leaving enough fuel and fire to burn churches, city councils, malls and police stations. I propose to shake ourselves off the myth of that promised day that never arrives, after which all our post-revolutionary plans are supposed to happen. I propose to dissolve and solve all the psycho-emotional charges that we’ve put (and others have put; there is no need to deny the influence of some ideologies) and promoted through the years, forcing us to go beyond fear and starting by disarming our own systems. Do not be surprised, my orthodox colleagues, if I’m not demanding raised fists, flying stones (directed towards McDonald’s or any other corporation) or printed slogans, because I’m proposing to subvert our schedules, our food, our obligations, our loyalties and our strongest beliefs. To play and liberate, to reinvent ourselves constantly, in daily life, in that impermanent emergency of desires, instinct, intuition, and the yearnings for absolute freedom.
Now’s the time to get scared: I propose to do whatever we want to do. I’m not going to be revolutionary because of a divine mission. I’m not going to fulfill the expectations my comrades have of me.
Let’s make this a game: to live fully is what we’re missing. To die of boredom in obligations (even if they are super revolutionary) is what we’ve had enough of, and it’s too much by now. To live, to enjoy, to free life, and free ourselves is what we need. May the revolution be daily life, and daily life be revolting. Radicals of the world, ¡you’re dismissed to liberate yourselves from the shackles of Revolution!
Every cultural alternative
Discover your subversive singularity
Don’t be manipulated by the behaviorist codes
Of the normalizers and disciplinarians
Claim your individual autonomy as a starting point
For the complete overthrow of existing society
Subvert the caged imagery dictated by the media
And let your imagination dance free
Beyond taboos and inhibitions
The spectacle adorns itself with corpses
That submerge reality under structural ghosts
Congealing passion and life
Within the prefabricated scenario of terror
Which like gangrene spreads its death song
Don’t be caged into collective alienation
That mental prison of capital and state
To see it shatter won’t be a happy sight for them
Freedom demands the unlimited destruction of power
The destruction of their world
Forged on the chains of sacrifice
And suffering of millions
Life is rebelling and reclaiming its dues
— by an anonymous rebel
Here are some of our opinions on the anarchist press, and other various undertakings. We feel that the need to be critical is of utmost importance if we are to challenge our own and the general state of despair and monotony that the death-culture inflicts upon us. We try to balance a supportive tone with unrestrained criticism. This is what we came up with for this issue. We welcome your reviews of books, zines, papers, cds, films, organizations, or other projects. Please try to keep them under 800 words.
Cracks in the Wall, by Andy
The whole technosphere of this work-consume-watch TV-die world is fully exposed and laid to waste by this amazing gem of a zine. Cracks is written in the style of a “personal” zine but it’s a total winner as an all-out “political” one, too.
Lots of cartoons, original and otherwise, are employed, with humor, pathos and insights galore on every page. The original style and voice stand out, while every point seems grounded in the real life of its author. Very hard to give an adequate sense of how much is discussed in these distinctive, stimulating 48 pages of critique. And hard to think of another DIY creation that combines playfulness and depth so very well.
Really worth grabbing up this assault on civilization!
$2 or trade from Andy/CITW, 2 Tinkham Glenn, Willbraham, MA 01095
Industrial Worker: official newspaper of the Industrial Workers of the World
It is possible that the Industrial Worker (IW) folks have seldom met any industrial workers, which might account for their unchanging, uncritical workerism. They have only one thing in mind: corralling people into the control of Organized Labor. The IW has proven completely impervious to the critique of unions and in fact doesn’t even question the various excesses of unions in particular.
Thus the July/August issue reports on National Labor Relations Board rulings but is mute, as ever, on the subject of how the iron grip of federal labor law is designed to prevent any autonomous movement of unionized workers. Similar silence, throughout the years, on the completely repressive, bureaucratic structures of the international unions themselves. Analysis along these lines wouldn’t much help unionize the masses, after all. The Wobblies (IWW) slumbered through the last period of opposition – that of the 60’s and early 70’s – pursuing (with their usual ineffectiveness) the sole aim of formal bargaining recognition (government recognition). They continue to lack any other interest outside of their archaic mini-bureaucracy and can in no way be considered radical, despite a little inconsequential rhetoric.
Representation, wage labor, capital – none of these are indicted. Even more remote from the IWW consciousness are matters like the nature of globalization, technology, civilization, the domination of nature, etc. IW is a tribute to eternal unconsciousness, the better, they must reason, to ensnare the working class.
$1 from Industrial Worker, P.O. Box 13476, Philadelphia, PA 19101
The Female Species
The Female Species #5 celebrates its discovery of the Situationists only to unconsciously disclose their limits. FS expresses an exuberant militancy plus some bite-size situationist insights, while announcing the excellence of communism and Marxism. And, to top this, being scornful of Leftism at the same time! No mean feat. As incoherent or oxymoronic as proclaiming oneself as an “anti-state communist.”
The cover of FS #5 says, “the need for communism transforms everything,” amplified in short order by the further judgement that “history has shown that the need for communism transforms everything.” Of course, the nature of that transformation is painfully obvious to anyone with even a trace of historical knowledge. It has meant, in actual, universal practice, total enslavement to state power, ruthless domination of indigenous people, and war on nature, among other assaults against life and freedom.
Certainly one could argue, FS does not mean any actual communism that has ever existed. But why cling to a term that is so discredited and so despised? Those in government whose job it is to follow these things are praying that radicals never stop embracing the term communism. It is by itself a key factor working to guarantee that we will not mount a real challenge to what rules us.
The second half of The Female Species #5 is an interview with Nachine of the Red Anarchist Network (RAAN). This exchange continues the issue’s basic outlook via RAAN’s appalling commitment to an amalgam of anarchism and Marxism. Nachine says, characteristically, “we’re lucky because this recent resurgence of interest in the Siutationists has meant that now is a perfect time for ideas like Marxism to gain a new appreciation….”
No interest here in questioning the left as part of what we must leave. Very disappointing.
No price listed, The Female Species, 2692 Madison Rd., Ste N1 PMB 220 Cincinnati, OH, 45209
A Green Anarchist Project On Freedom and Love
This is an 8-page pamphlet by Mae Bee, drawings by Chester Wren. It thoughtfully challenges such components of monogamy as fear, jealousy, mistrust, possessiveness, disrespect and emotional unreality. Mae bases this exploration on “a recognition that our ‘common project’––the abolition of all power relations––includes the abolition of coercive/closed relationships. These are those relationships with fixed stature, those relationships with rules or permanent contracts.”
Freedom and a reconnection to the wild, she argues, call for opposition to any rule-bound relating as a priority, like resistance to homophobia and racism. This provocative, well-written essay concludes thusly: “Gay, straight, my lover, your primary partner, it’s all identity politics of ongoing contracts unbefitting lives of mutual desires. We do not need to ‘work’ at our ‘relationships’ merely to have them, without contract, demand, competition and coercion.”
No price. Mae Bee c/o Box EF!, Cornerstone Resource Centre, 16 Sholebroke Avenue, Chapeltown, Leeds LS7 3HB, U.K.
Or contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Beyond Agriculture, from Stuck In History Productions
Beyond Agriculture is an extended introduction to an anti-civilization take on feeding ourselves. This booklet discusses the various forms that agriculture has taken with an eye to escaping the control apparatus and orientation of a domesticated world.
It is a fine complement to the excellent Feral Forager zine, a creation of green anarchist friends in North Carolina. Beyond Agriculture, however, deals less with foraging, roadkill, etc. and its resource references are mostly based on its own bioregion and/or the Pacific Northwest at large.
This contribution is part of the crucial practical and theoretical work of anti-civilization. Minus such efforts we cannot go forward to pose real alternatives to what is ruining life, health, and wildness on the planet.
Extremely readable and engaging, this work by the Stuck in History folks explores the specifics of food systems from the perspective of learning to take what nature gives us, rather than the logic of the ever-deepening imperialism of a fatal industrial approach. The emphasis is on what can—and did—grow freely and health-giving at our feet, and how to proceed in this rewilding direction.
The contribution of Beyond Agriculture and similar work, such as by the Wildroots Collective, cannot be overstated. Check it out.
No address. Now available from the GA distro for $2.
Destroying Barriers, formerly Green Journal, is one of the relatively new anti-civilization zines and has been making a consistent contribution. Symbolic culture, domestication and technology are some of the parts of the whole, as R.M. (the author/editor) sees and analyzes things, usually in brief pieces.
DB issues are unnumbered, presented in a no-frills format, and come out irregularly (though subscriptions are available). It is heartening that San Diego has managed to spawn this type of publication, firmly and clearly focused on the Mega-machine that is civilization. Its editor, by the way, is also extremely well-informed on the issue of the surveillance society. Ask about Against Big Brother, from Gorgeous Revolt! Publications, same address as DB.
Available for only $1 from Destroying Barriers, PO Box 127, 12463 Rancho Bernardo Rd., San Diego, CA 92128
La Mauvaise Herbe vol. 3 no. 3
Here’s an excellent zine from Montreal for you anarcho-French speakers. Actually, a good chunk of it is in English; in-depth interviews with Teiohserahte, a Mohawk woman, and British Columbia anarchist Ron Sokolsky.
La Mauvaise Herbe is an expression that could be translated as “bad to the bone,” and this zine is true to a spirit of no-holds-barred anti-authoritarian critique. Its centerfold graphic shows an inflatable Che Guevara doll with its air rapidly escaping. “Che is shit. Deflate him” is a rough translation of the caption. MB’s lead article, “AK Press et les anarchistes verts” is a merciless (and funny) exposure of the left-liberal AK Press’s refusal to carry Green Anarchy.
We haven’t deciphered all that’s in this issue of La Mauvaise Herbe—but enough to know that there isn’t enough of this fearless and stylish criticism out there. Love it!
No price. Contact: email@example.com
Don’t Just Vote-Get Active: A Community Non-Partisan Voters’ Guide 2004 By CrimethInc.
Joining the chorus of self-described anarchists [Chris Crass, Cindy Milstein, Howard Ehrlich (Social Anarchism), Sun Frog (Fifth Estate), Slug & Lettuce,…unfortunately, the list is still growing] who feel that voting, while having its problems, might not be a totally horrible thing to do (at least this year), Don’t Just Vote-Get Active is yet another let-down from the occasionally inspiring collection of folks known as CrimethInc. As alternative propaganda to the pro-voting trash coming from Republicans, Democrats, Greens, minority advocacy groups, pop stars, and former counter-cultural figures like Jello Biafra, this brief 4-page newsprint handout had some potential to subvert the liberal inclination to participate in the electoral process, but it falls short. Don’t Just Vote-Get Active does address some basic anarchist ideas concerning voting, representation, autonomy, and most importantly direct action. In fact, it goes out of its way to promote direct action as the most effective method of empowerment and creating change in our lives.
The problem for me is the constant recurrence of the word “JUST”, as in “don’t JUST vote!” This implies, along with straight-up saying it a few times, that it’s fine to vote, JUST do other things as well. Don’t Just Vote states: “[Antiauthoritarians] developed their own mythology around voting, attributing to it the mystical power to ‘legitimize’ authority figures thus elected. But it is not voting that gives power to politicians, just as it is not not-voting that could take it away from them.” This is the same liberal hogwash that claims that the system is only broken, and not fundamentally problematic. Like starry-eyed activists who knock on my door asking for donations to save the whales, they sort of understand that their campaigns are ultimately pointless, but they have such momentum under their feet and energy invested in the system that they just can’t let go. My instincts tell me that the authors of Don’t Just Vote don’t actually believe that voting does anything but encourage the assholes, but instead throw in the “don’t JUST vote!” to reach people who have a hard time making the break. They seem to feel that it may be too difficult for some to go “cold turkey” from the system’s logic. Instead, they offer a soothing middle ground by claiming that the anti-voting position presents a “false dichotomy” and that by “refusing to take a stand” on the subject of voting, one “evades thoughtless dismissals…but instead raises entirely new questions without being alienating.” So what we are left with is the unfortunately wishy-washy CrimethInc. non-position again.
The most troubling segment of this particular anti-propaganda is in the “But What Should I Do?” section. Beyond the proposals for more pointless banner hangs and “Don’t Just Vote” signs and hand-outs at your local Food Not Bombs, they encourage people to “Go ahead and register to vote, so you can put up stickers or graffiti in the voting booth to remind your fellow citizens where the real power lies!” This is not only a pathetic gesture, but also incredibly irresponsible to encourage anyone to register with the state, or be put on yet another list. Like the symbolic and meaningless protests at the Democratic and Republican National Conventions, some anarchists would prefer to play these endless charades and pretend that they are changing anything. I say, don’t JUST be active, WAKE THE FUCK UP!
Free. Box 2133, Greensboro, NC 27402, www.dontjustvote.com
The Northeastern Anarchist — “A Magazine of Class Struggle Theory and Practice” Issue #9-Summer/Fall 2004
We have reviewed this publication before, but due to its proliferation on the international anarchist scene and the fact that the current issue seems particularly appalling, we feel obliged to bring it up once again…not that there’s any fresh content in their current issue. The Northeastern Anarchist is published twice a year by the Northeastern Editorial Brigade, the English language propaganda wing of the Northeastern Federation of Anarcho-Communists (NEFAC). They consider themselves the “theoretical journal” for their movement, with the now defunct Barricada (probably the most worthwhile of them) being the action journal, and the new Strike (which we have yet to see, but will surely review when we get our paws on it), the tactical paper for your average working stiff.
Theoretical journal…hum. Correct me if I am wrong, but isn’t theory meant to bring unique and radical ideas to the forefront, not a perpetual rehashing of what was irrelevant a hundred years ago? While they have a slick new look, upon opening NA you realize it is the same tired old rhetoric about organizing a mythological version of the working class. Don’t get me wrong, class is a very important dynamic of the current set-up to analyze and break down through the dismantling of power and the creation of egalitarian relationships. However, social stratification, or the development of a class society, appeared early in the rise of civilization, and is not merely a development of the past few hundred years. The dynamics are complicated, but at their root is a process of objectification, domination, domestication, accumulation, consolidation, fortification, and subjugation, which have been at work for thousands of years. No doubt, the working class has always been used, manipulated, and dispossessed by those classes with more power, but the overlysimplistic approach of looking at class dynamics and in particular the depiction of a monolithic and idealized working class by many anarchocommies leaves a lot to be desired. Also, this perspective frequently de-emphasizes, and in some cases disregards, other dynamics of oppression which are fundamental in propelling this nightmare forward. NA is a perfect example of these limited and superficial tendencies of looking at, and participating in, “class struggle”.
To say that NA is leftist to the core is an understatement, with your typical Marxist (or Bakuninist at best) critique of imperialism, industry, class, and organization. But, sadly, like many leftists who put themselves in the condescending role as organizers of “the masses”, they have actually become quite liberal, attempting to satisfy “the people”. The opening essay by internet discussion board loudmouth Stephen “Flint” Arthur is entitled “Blood Money: The Human-Capital Equation of the U.S. Occupation of Iraq”. Minus a few vague references to “class war” it could have easily appeared in any progressive or pacifist magazine, making Michael Moore seem almost radical. Flint suggests that we might end the war if the working class could unite to “effect the production and transportation of military capital” and also by not falling for recruitment propaganda and refusing to serve in the military. None of these objectives are themselves negative, but not very inspiring as “theory”. It also seems that contemporary war is Flint’s main problem, not the entire system or logic which creates this particular deadly symptom. He seems to speak from a position of one who may have an issue with certain leaders, policies, or modes of operation, but certainly not with the totality. In fact, he embraces many aspects of it, going as far as complaining about the U.S. government’s military budget, and declaring, “We need resources for housing, education, and healthcare—not warfare.” The article is filled with silly graphics like “After the war, Dick Cheney will have a job. Will You?,” sad stories on how people who join the military are lied to about their pay, benefits, and post-service medical care, and endless details on the numbers of troops and mercenary groups from every political organization and nation-state on the planet. Maybe if this was a publication geared to high school students who have never been exposed to anarchist ideas and were in danger of being recruited this could make sense, but in the “theory and analysis” section of an anarchist magazine…come on now.
The light-weight tone is continued with a mediocre article on “The Anarchist Case Against Voting”, which makes a few decent points against electoral politics and representation (although these arguments seem to conflict somewhat with the running of NEFAC’s own bureaucratic federation). However, statements about the positive goal of democracy and socialism pop up too frequently for me to find too much value here. The downward slope continues with an article that advocates equal wages for housework. Wait! Before you reactionary P.C.’ers get out your spray-paint and whips (a subtle Eugene reference), hold on. A serious acknowledgement and analysis of the social invisibility and belittling of “domestic work”, traditionally forced upon women, is an important step in looking at the devaluing of women inherent in patriarchy. This article does provide some positive achievements in this regard, but only going as far back as Adam Smith in searching for its origins and barely venturing outside the economic realm. How it proposes altering this dynamic, however, is absurd, and like most of the left’s proposals, utterly reformist. Without ever even questioning concepts like wage-labor or specialization, the authors go on for pages discussing strategies for demanding “fair” wages from the government and corporations! The authors say that “as anarchists” they support welfare, unemployment insurance, subsidized housing, and wages for housework as “defensive techniques” (reforms), yet never seem to get beyond them or even conceive of a radically different set of social relationships.
Just when you thought it could not get any worse (or less anarchist), we reach the section on “Economic Theory” in which Tom Wetzel presents an argument for Michael Albert’s Participatory Economics (ParEcon) as a response to a previous NA article which (sort of) criticized it. Wetzel describes ParEcon as “an attempt to specify the institutions of a new economic system” with workers councils, community councils, and federations deciding what should be produced, how it should be distributed, and the value of our work. In this vision of keeping most of industrial society intact, we would rotate jobs between “some shit work, some mental work, some manual work and so on, with varying rates of pay.” While somehow through a various assortment of meetings, procedures, and decision-making processes (that we are assured we will have full participation in), all of the details of how to maintain the functioning of mass society will somehow work out to everyone’s best interest. But, of course, “any viable society will also have a means of setting basic rules and of enforcing those rules.” Using the example of anarchists refusing to seize power in Barcelona in 1936 (something some of us see as a positive and consistent position for anarchists), Wetzel views Spanish anarchists unwilling to participate in the creation of an “anarchist dictatorship” as yielding power to others. He proclaims, “Anarchists have not always been consistent in recognizing that the emancipation of the working class requires a structure of political power.” Hinting that maybe for Wetzel, the rhetoric of “voluntary participation” and “grassroots decision making” and even “antiauthoritarian principles” may have their limitations. Going further to state, “If people make their own decisions about what they ‘need’ then ‘to each according to need’ becomes, ‘to each as they desire’. [But] in the ParEcon structure, the community and workers councils, and the federations of them, would have the power to decide how far they want this principle to extend.” Reassuring! Thank you for your concerns! All organizational/control issues aside, our unhealthy relationship to our environment (other humans, plants, animals, land, etc) creates power dynamics which consist of objectification and a process of placing value/devalue on life. This commodification of our lives, and of life in general, and the development of any economic system to push and regulate it, is more of the same civilized racket that is never addressed (much less criticized) in either ParEcon or NA.
The issue crawls along with another push for the Platform and other ways to reduce our passions and desires to the lowest common denominator, thus regulating it to meaningless rhetoric. It concludes with historical looks at anarcho-communists and anarcho-syndicalists (probably the most interesting part, as they seem to love the past, but read cautiously for their agenda-driven revisionism), reviews, and a letters section consisting of a two-person debate over “Flying Squads” and “Workers’ Autonomy”. Overall, a dull read. From cover to cover the current issue of The Northeastern Anarchist represents a cornucopia of everything green anarchists/ anarcho-primitivists argue against with the anarcho-communist and general leftist approach. We are considering carrying it in our distro as a “What Not To Do” primer.
$4. Northeastern Anarchist, PO Box 230685, Boston, MA 02123.
Riddley Walker, by Russell Hoban
(reviewed by Funeral Shannon)
“On my naming day when I come 12 I gone front spear and kilt a wyld boar he parbly ben the las wyld pig on the Bundel Downs any how there hadn’t ben none for a long time befor him and nor I aint looking to see none agen. He didn’t make the ground shake or nothing like that when he come on my spear he wernt all that big plus he lookit poorly. He done the rqwyrt he ternt and stood and clatter his teef and made his rush and there we were then. Him on 1 end of the spear kicking his life out and me on the other end watching him dy. I said, ‘Your tern now my tern later.’”
Told in a completely phonetic post-apocalyptic cockney narrative Riddley Walker takes place in southern England a few hundred years after a nuclear holocaust. Riddley Walker himself is a young boy who gets caught up in a cultural war between hunter-gatherers, farmers, and their primitive government that uses puppet shows to promote their agendas. A pivotal part of the story, the puppet shows depict the days just before the collapse and ultimately encourages people to begin pursuing the knowledge that will once again lead to their destruction. Contrasting the puppet shows are a series of myths told by hunter gatherer story tellers, beautiful and strange explanations of how humans learned to hunt (they were taught by a dog, but in Riddley Walker’s time dogs brutally hunt humans) and what they did to survive after the world biosphere was destroyed (cannibalism).
Humanity is poised to begin the advance again, due to a dwindling wilderness and the accelerating displacement of animistic culture by the messianic cult of Eusa (the mythical creator of the atomic bomb). From an anticivilizationist or anarchist perspective this book provides insight on what the world may look like thirty generations from now, as our own ancestors try to rebuild, or prevent the rebuilding of our culture, known to them only by the presence of artifacts that never decay. Not only that but this book speaks to the way the myths of any culture shape it and its collective goals. Do we live as a part of this earth or seek after some ultimately unattainable holy grail of knowledge at the cost of our connection to ourselves and the world around us? The book shows very simply the steps humans take towards civilization and their terrible costs.
Check your local bookstore.
Earth First! Eco-Hotties 2005 Calendar (reviewed by squirrel)
As if the anarchist/environmental circles needed to prove once again that (overall) folks are not dealing with sexism/objectification…this just in…the Eco-Hotties Calendar! (Yep, it is actually called that!) I was introduced to this pathetic fundraising idea when I was propositioned to pose for the calendar’s creation. At the time I expressed disgust over the idea, but then when it was actually put together, I fully realized the intensity of the situation. It seems that the newly created Cascadia Earth First! feels comfortable having their name associated with this ridiculous soft porn. Flipping through the pages (to read the articles, of course), eyes glance over bodies posed in various natural settings – in a lake, spending time with plants, and around a campfire. The calendar also shows people posed casually (naked, w/uncovered faces) sitting on a roadblock and in a platform. After checking out each month, I flipped to the back page – where, in one breath they try to fundraise, put out a call to action, and mention that, “who knows, you may even spot an eco-hottie out and about in the woods.”
The calendar seems to encourage people to join the ‘movement’ – to come and play eco-warrior with the hopes that you might get laid! It seems that this Earth First! collective wants people going to direct action-oriented activities to be focused on hooking up with a ‘hottie’. I want to be clear that I am not anti-naked. I am pro-naked, however, I am not in support of people exploiting bodies to get money. There is a difference between being comfortable with nakedness and being tolerant of objectification. If this calendar is any sign of where Earth First! and the radical environmental movement is headed – we might as well fold our cards.
The calendar includes photographs of both women and men, showing that the author(s)/creator(s) did have some awareness of the dangers associated with only photographing women nude. So, in some ways they were responding to the traditional pornography, by also objectifying men. (Is this progressive or just disturbing?). However, the ‘critical’ thinking ends here. I just want to clarify that even though you have dreads, it doesn’t mean that you are exempt from the objectification that film enables. I am disgusted that the Eco-Hotties Calendar is a response to the devastation happening around us – that resources and time were spent to make this calendar possible – and at the audacity to parade such intense privilege. Can you imagine trying to explain the Eco-Hotties Calendar to a person who has to defend themselves and their families from the destruction and violence of the Israeli army? The fact that white, American activists have the time and energy to resist global environmental collapse by creating and then selling a calendar of their friends naked in the woods…Give me a break!
It is also frustrating that people who care about Earth death, and their work to slow its degradation have been reduced to a couple of friendly ‘hotties’. The calendar minimizes the struggle to end commercial logging, mocks the drive to prioritize anti-oppression work within direct action circles, and makes a joke out of people putting their freedom on the line in defense of the Earth. The calendar also makes it clear that the objectifying/consumptive gaze is ok – even expected – within radical environmental circles… Let us be clear…just because you might wear a few patches on your clothes, does not mean that you are incapable of recreating fucked-up power dynamics. I am disappointed that there was not more of an uproar with the emergence of this trash. I mean seriously, when someone stares at one of these naked ‘hotties’ everyday for a month – are they really going to be considering the impact of deforestation?
Not only is this calendar a slap in the face to folks who give a shit about actually living antidomination, but also the photographs themselves serve as physical evidence for law enforcement. How helpful to have your file padded with close-ups of your breasts and thighs! Do people not realize the intensity of the government’s desire to destroy us? It makes me think that more people than I care to recognize consider this a game, that “fighting the man” is some fucking joke …otherwise why would anyone want pictures taken of their tattoos or uncovered faces? I hope that people who took their clothes off for the calendar are well aware of the absurdity/stupidity at handing the state this evidence, willingly giving them clear pictures of marks that are pretty much permanent and could easily be hidden. Come on people.
In addition to the body art that was catalogued by the government, they are also recording affiliations, interests, and associations. One woman had her picture taken in a climbing harness, another on a platform – now the state has hard evidence that these two women have been involved in this type of resistance. I am not interested in giving the state or any fucking institution anymore information than they have already stolen from me. So, of course, it would be apparent with even the smallest bit of an understanding about security culture…that you would not want a photo/documentation of your connection to something that could be understood as illegal activity. The state invests an incredible amount of money to know who is creating problems for the forest service/government, and who is involved in different radical circles – so why hand them this information?
It really disappoints me that the radical environmental front is not making some really basic connections between domination, oppression, and objectification. Makes me wonder how much people link the subjugation of people with the slaughter of trees …how much people link capitalism/environmental destruction/ racism and sexism. Come on folks, is our collective analysis still way back there? I mean shit, is it that much of a stretch to see that even language like “ecohotties” creates an atmosphere that says this type of objectification is acceptable? It is the same language that depicts life as something to buy or sell…trees/bodies = ‘natural resources’/commodities. It both annoys and frightens me that we are still in the ‘observation’ phase of understanding sexism. When are we actually going to be in the ‘dealing’ phase? The Eco-Hotties Calendar makes me think that this level of understanding is a long time coming.
Part of living revolution means dealing with and confronting domination. I am not waiting to deal with sexism and oppression until after ‘the revolution’. I am not going to hold a sign up to my oppressor to tell them to stop raping the land…I am not playing a game. And I am certainly not some fucking eco-hottie!!
No listed price. Cascadia EF!, PO Box 10384, Eugene, OR 97440, ef.cascadiarising.org
The Corporation, an award-winning documentary, is making its U.S. debut this fall. Co-produced by Mark Achbar (Manufacturing Consent), the film was meant to be an ‘activist’ launching pad from the outset. Branded, logo’ed, and marketed by a former AdBuster exec – it asks the question “Wouldn’t it be nice to have a say in how corporations do business?” Having foresworn seeing and reviewing the latest Michael Moore spectacle, Fahrenheit 9/11, I thought The Corporation might be a worthwhile Sunday afternoon diversion.
If you didn’t know that the corporation, the predominant manifestation of capitalism, has the legal status of a person and all the ‘rights’ and ‘protections’ that go with that designation – see the movie. If you didn’t know that the goal, indeed the legal obligation, of the corporation is profit – see the movie. If you were unaware of the corporate attack on all of life – animal, plant, air, water, earth – definitely see the movie. If you would like to hear a Quinn-inspired, corporate CEO decry the ravages of civilization, and put forth his solution – a new industrial revolution, ‘done right this time’ – you must see the movie. Finally, if you are inspired by the loyal opposition voices of the popular liberal/left press – Noam Chomsky, Howard Zinn, Naomi Klein, Vandana Shiva, and above all, the democratic icon, Michael Moore – please, see the movie.
You will want to see this movie if you need more, horrendous, visual proof that Monsanto’s Agent Orange irreparably damaged the people of Vietnam and that their bovine growth hormone tortures the cows of the agri-industry. You will also want to see the movie if you are interested in hearing the shills of the marketing conglomerates tout the schemes used to manipulate consumer buying decisions. You might even find it interesting to learn that the corporation fits the DSM-IV classification as psychopathic. (I found it interesting that I have 3 out of the listed 6 symptoms – what does this mean?!)
But don’t see The Corporation looking for an anti-capitalist perspective or for a critique of the state’s complicity in the corporate nightmare. In fact, this movie could easily serve as the rousing introduction to the new ‘green capitalist’ movement popular with the liberal/left consumer/activist.
The movie is too long – 2 hours – even if the viewer has never been exposed to any of the information presented. But it had some great footage and an interesting presentation style. There were also a few ironically amusing pieces. Not the least of these was the clip showing Earth First! radicals having tea with a CEO of Shell. After all, the Earth Firsters! and the oil boss are “concerned about the same thing – protecting the environment”!
The one area where I actually learned something was in the so-far successful campesino resistance against the privatization of water in Cochabamba, Bolivia. Through popular struggles spanning several months, resulting in over 100 injuries and the death of a 17 year-old, the Bechtel subsidiaries contract was canceled. Of course, the ‘psychopathic’ Bechtel is now suing these desperately poor people in closed hearings held by the World Bank – the perfectly healthy and rational institution of global capitalism – oops, corporatism.
The Corporation is all about ‘Global Harm Reduction’ and wants YOU to act now (well at least in November to oust the Bush cartel). So, if you are an anarcho-democrat, you definitely want to see the movie.
If you are an anarchist that actually understands that the capital-corporate-state is a totality whose subcomponents cannot be severed, reformed, or otherwise affected in any lethal way by left/liberal pseudo-tactics, perhaps you might consider other Sunday afternoon anticorporate education campaigns.
At most theaters that showed Fahrenheit 911.
Barbaric Thoughts: On a Revolutionary Critique of Civilization by Venomous Butterfly Publications
(reviewed by VolontaTerrarottura)
The author of this pamphlet has played a vital role in what I feel are basic projects for anarchists: critical analysis of the miserably confining and torturous situations we are in, and the rigorous exploration of an anarchist projectuality. For years, the author has been precise about what he is opposed to: all confines to the unlimited passions and desires of an egoist-communist (or is that communist-egoist?); i.e.civilization. Frequently causing me to pause, contemplate, and remember to always keep my ideas open for perpetual revision (its about questions, not answers), he is especially potent when confronting morality, ideology, and alienation. While we have some differences in outlook and prioritization, he has been a crucial voice of integrity in challenging flimsy or dogmatic pitfalls of various anarchist perspectives. Barbaric Thoughts is helpful in bringing up his explicit criticisms of green anarchist/anarcho-primitivist analyses, but it is limited to some extent in practical application due to some broad-brushed generalizations, its own rigidity, and a prioritization that seems to be anthropocentric in nature. While this is only a review (not a detailed point-by-point analysis or rebuttal), as an insurrectionary green anarchist (and reputed “closet primitivist”) who appreciates many of the critiques brought up in the perpetual insurrectionalist/primitivist debate, I’ll try to point out what I perceive as valuable contributions, unfortunate drawbacks, and personal disagreements with this notable pamphlet. I have stayed out of the excessive (and from what I hear, often close-minded) on-line debates of this essay, and only offer my opinions based on my personal interpretation of the reading.
Barbaric Thoughts begins by asking some enormous questions: “What is a revolutionary critique? What is civilization? What does a revolutionary critique of civilization mean in the realm of ideas? What would a revolutionary critique of civilization mean on a practical level?” I feel that the author’s definition of civilization is brief, but to the point: “this network of institutions that dominates our lives.” Yet, I would agree with some primitivists, that the downplay (and at times, near dismissal) of an examination of the origins of these institutions can be problematic, but so can an exclusive or tightly bound emphasis on them. Ultimately, the author’s general preference to focus specifically on the “present”, with the aim on creating a “rupture” with the current social order is a positive motivation, but I’m not sure this can be done in a vacuum without critically looking both backward and forward (and outside “social relations”) in terms of dynamics and reference points (something I’m not sure the author would necessarily dispute). He warns of a reversal of the linear and ideological notion of Progress, which he sees in some primitivists’ concepts of a “singular civilization” and “returning” to an ideal or “mythical” state (rather than completely rejecting this myth). While the point is clear, there are some basic trajectories of various civilizations we can trace and compare, which might hint at some predisposition to certain types of domestication. I’m also unaware of any anarcho-primitivists who deny the multi-linear cultural evolutions of civilizations in different geographic areas (this doesn’t include occasional unclear or sloppy rhetoric). With many of these cautionary dissections throughout the pamphlet, specific examples would have been really helpful, because the reader is often left with the feeling that the questionable tendencies discussed make up significant portions of the primitivist discourse. Occasional qualifiers that these are only a “few” people seem to be overshadowed by a more significant dismissive tone regarding primitivism.
One of my underlying concerns with the general form of the piece has to do with the author’s insistence on defining a “revolutionary critique”, a subject which (in my mind) becomes a very slippery slope. I agree with the author, that any tool or critique guided by morality cannot fundamentally break with civilization, since morality is the code of that system. While I do use the term “revolutionary” as an occasional adjective when describing a more general idea, concept, or action which completely rejects or runs contrary to the current arrangement (generally, how the author seems to use the term), I have increasingly stepped away from it because I get particularly nervous when it starts to be used as a measuring stick or framework to supposedly reject ideology or morality or in limiting strategies. Much anarchist discourse has shown me that an “anti-ideology” aesthetic or motivation can easily become ideological. As a short-cut to explain radical potential, the word “revolutionary” can be helpful, but as a guideline for theoretical and practical application, it can often become quite rigid, and I feel this essay, while criticizing this tendency, also begins to move along these lines.
One of my biggest disagreements with the author is his absolute dismissal of biocentrism, considering it “utterly useless” from a “revolutionary point of view” because of its inherent “moral perspective”. While the origins of much biocentric thought does come from a moralist position, the push to understand our relationships with the rest of life in different and less objectifying ways (not “submitting” to “nature” as the author claims), has been part of an important shift, despite any limitations. Some anarchists have attempted to reclaim or redefine a biocentric (life-focused) outlook as a way to connect (as humans) with life outside ourselves more deeply and meaningfully, and less oppressively. The author claims that “biocentrism merely seeks the expansion of rights and protections to the non-human world without challenging the roots of the social order.” This limited biocentric outlook may be true for those who attempt to create an ideology out of the desires to move toward more life-centered realities, but if we are to examine the roots of the social order, I would argue that the unhealthy and alienating institutions we have before us have been created from a mindset that specifically rejects a deep connection to all life. I think the overemphasis on class struggle (“The fundamental harmfulness of this society lies in the social relationships it imposes”), at the expense of a intimate examination of our alienation from the rest of life, is troubling, in the sense that it creates artificial boundaries over our existence as “humans” (as creatures functioning solely in a human social context). In statements from various anarchists that the “environment” is an important “issue” to them, it is obvious that some see “it” as a separate “thing” to save, rather than part of us in the move towards our personal and collective liberation.
The author also dismisses biocentric and deep ecologists for spending time in the legislative process. While this is an important critique of some biocentric people, it again paints the picture that this is inherent in these ideas. Anarchists with biocentric perspectives reject such avenues forcefully. It is possible to be influenced by concepts or navigate through certain terrain without automatically absorbing all of the previous baggage or reflecting contemporaries who share some similar perspectives. The author apparently feels this way about “communism”, but not “biocentrism”. However, the baggage of communism, despite some liberatory origins, seems far less likely to be transcended due to its horrific expression in the “real world” than any questionable aspects of biocentric views. To me, ideas and concepts are fluid and evolving, and the contemporary and commonly understood expressions of ideas are of the most relevance to our lives. Aside from all of this, the author is correct in claiming that misanthropy isn’t necessarily “revolutionary”, but personally (as one green anarchist speaking) some days (not everyday, or at least not all day) I can really understand some deep ecologists’ pessimistic sentiment. I wish the Earth First! Journal still had a misanthropic edge (not because it necessarily reflects my perspective), just so you could see that there was some anger and sobering nihilistic energy still alive instead of “101 Ways to Build a ‘Diverse’ Movement” of well-socialized eco-drones (Sorry, one of the less-disciplined sides of my “revolutionary critique” oozing out there…I’ll move on before I get called counter-revolutionary).
Much of Barbaric Thoughts seems to focus on, or be a counter-point to, the primitivist perspective on civilization. I, like the author of the essay, have never called myself a primitivist, for some overlapping reasons, but I certainly don’t have the same hostility towards the critique. In fact, my critique of civilization is greatly informed by what the author has called “presumed traits of ‘primitive’ societies”. Should we view anthropological findings as somewhat speculative and embedded with the logic of civilization? Sure, but I don’t think this necessitates throwing out the baby with the bath water. With some healthy suspicion, there is still much we can (more or less) discern from the material culture of various “primitive” societies. They lived as gathererhunters, they provided their sustenance on a daily basis and adapted to their environment using stone, bone, and wood, and the fact that they left so few traces is evidence of how gently they walked on the earth or how non-monumental and non-institutionalized their communities were. This is by no means completely “speculative”. Also, we can look at contemporary gatherer-hunters and see similar dynamics of how people can relate to each other without coercion or institutions. Should this rigidly define who we are or where we go? Definitely not. But it can help to seriously inform us about some positive and negative possibilities of humans. I do agree with the author that decisively defining a human “primal nature” can be problematic in any absolute sense, but most primitivists attempt to make clear that what they are examining is the track record of humans, not determining finite conclusions as to what we inherently are. I also feel that some primitivists’ emphasis on a “primal war”, one that attempts to go beyond social perimeters and into instinctual biocentric realms, is quite provocative, even if it does step outside the author’s ‘path to revolution’.
The subject of “collapse” seems especially troubling to the author as he dismisses those who “prepare for” an anticipated implosion of the various civilized systems, implying that those who focus on “primitive skills” cannot also be involved in a “conscious confrontation with the realities civilized reality has created.” Again, defining what is “revolutionary” and what is not, he “would rather put the effort into consciously dismantling the social order through revolutionary endeavors.” I too have my own concerns that a few primitivists have rejected direct conflict with the social order so that they can pursue more passive nihilist roles, but it seems somewhat understandable to me that some would take this direction. It is not my path for strategic and personal reasons, but I have no judgement of those who deal with this miserable reality in more idle or “escapist” ways, nor do I presume to “know” what is truly “revolutionary”. I am cynical of “revolution” as a likely (or desirable) social dynamic. I often engage with my actively nihilistic destructive side outside the realm of “social revolution”. Part of this may be how we define the “r” word, but part of it comes from a desire to not control nor to be controlled, nor predetermine the unfolding and trajectory of civilization’s dismantling. Insurrectional momentum against civilization on our own terms from what motivates us is of most interest to me, but so are various methods of “rewilding” which can also be vital in challenging the civilized logic in our own lives and do not directly contradict insurrectionary activity. Learning methods of living without civilization (institutions, industrialism, production, technology, etc) can be some of the most potent and concrete aspects of an anticivilization anarchist praxis and can break down significant aspects of mediation in our lives. Again, how does this conflict with attacking the system more directly?
I find the author’s discussion of origins (alienation, language, time, etc.) somewhat engaging, in ways limited, and at times unconvincing. He describes alienation as “the separation of our existence from ourselves through a system of social relationships that steals our capacity to create our lives on our own terms.” I feel this adequately addresses aspects of the alienated dynamic, but he dismisses the notion that humans (in a general sense) may have once had more intimate relationships with nature, from which they have become separated. He considers this “quasimystical” and paralleling “Christian theology” in that it requires “redemption from a fallen world”. While these parallels are interesting interpretations, I don’t think that is quite how most primitivists view the unfortunate shifts towards civilization, nor the processes of going feral. We have become alienated from ourselves, each other, and the rest of our world through various processes of domestication, and yes, primarily due to “social relationships”. I’m not convinced, however, that the sources of alienation that primitivists frequently describe do not also find most of their origins in “social relationships,” especially if one considers major parts of our disconnect to be a product of our domestication.
He goes on to attack John Zerzan (often taking cheap shots), calling him an evangelist for talking to the media and “going to conferences to present his message”, and who “found a saint in the Unabomber”. Evangelical tendencies go hand-in hand with those with ideological tendencies, and while there may be a grain of truth in this assessment of John, these seem to be minor underlying tendencies, not overt motivations – he is an anarchist at heart. The author, however, seems so fixated on debunking Zerzan, that he takes a good point, like the caution against the reification of social relationships when searching for origins, and produces some questionable ideas about time and language. Referring to the destruction of rooted languages by the ruling order, the author states that “the ‘loss of language’ does not make us less alienated or less civilized, simply less capable of communicating with each other”, confusing a critique of language itself as a mediated mode of expression and comprehension, with a horrific process of standardization by global capitalism (which primitivists frequently critique as well). He goes on to warn against a limited critique of time in which he emphasizes a look at current social relationships, again aside from its origins, and cautions against limiting and pre-determining wildness, but at the exclusion of primitive people’s experiences.
I appreciate the author’s description of class struggle as “the struggle of the exploited, the dispossessed, the proletarianized against their condition.” Generally, I tend to agree with much of the way the author describes “class” and its role as a fundamental dynamic of civilization. But it is certainly not the only dynamic, even if you are solely concerning yourself with social relationships. Claiming that an anti-civilization project is “at root a class struggle and an egoist struggle” has its limitations, and is never fully argued in the text. Social stratification is without a doubt inherent in civilization and appears early in its trajectory, but the separation or fracture of ourselves from life (human, ourselves, and other beings), from wildness, runs deep, and I would say is a fundamental aspect of civilization. Do social relationships play a major role in this? Sure, but not exclusively. The author acknowledges the importance of technology in influencing social relationships, but what about the technological arrangements that new social relationships are constructed upon? We can play the chicken or the egg game until we are all run over (without ever even crossing the road), or we can attack that which we perceive or understand to be the origins, logic, dynamics, and manifestations of control in our lives. And yes, in-depth discussions of our perspectives are also vital, but not when it becomes an ideological battleground over who really has found the origins or who’s critique offers the most effective strategy for “the dispossessed”. Part of me really relates to the idea of the struggle against civilization being a “project of reappropriation – of stealing back what has been taken from us”, if what the author is talking about is our autonomy and our lives, but I am still left wondering…If we are solely focused on human relationships, what does that mean for the rest of life? Why does a “revolutionary critique” revolve solely around human relationships? Can we really heal (if that is desirable for the author) from the wounds of civilization with this seemingly anthropocentric perspective? We don’t exist in bubbles. We are interconnected with other humans, species, and phenomenon, and we are also individuals. This requires an ability to relate in complex ways with our environments…places where contradiction and connection seem to cross paths.
There are definitely sections of Barbaric Thoughts which made me cringe, but there are also parts which forced me to question some of my own, and other anti-civilization anarchists’ tendencies. And while both my insurrectional(ist) AND primitiv(ist) friends will consider me soft and not critical enough towards the “other side”, these are my opinions, and I reject ideological membership on either team. It is well worth the read, but with an extra-critical eye and non-defensive heart. Its good to know where people are currently at, so we can accurately determine our connections with them based on transparency rather than speculation or assumptions. A lot is said by putting it out on the table.
No Listed Price. VBP, 818 SW 3rd Ave., PMB 1237, Portland, OR 97217
Split in consciousness -
Our true selves buried
Their peace, not ours
Their rules, not ours
Their war, not ours
Their order, not ours.
Humanity, not ideas…
Or is humanity an idea-
Their struggle: class;
False within their system,
Punctuated! by our
Seeps out our pores
Earth out our veins
Humanity out our heads -
Screams for the Sun…
And the Moon lost under
A Fucked Forest of Fantastic
Futuristic Phantoms of our
Codified into a “meep” in 1985 -
Theirs, not ours
Screaming for our human outside
to be Free from the
Civilized jails with cities as our
Just wanting to dance under the
Here’s just a limited sampling of the letters we got in the past few months. Send us your thoughts, and please try to keep them under 500 words so we can get more in here.
Lost Faith In Nihilism
Dear green anarchist comrades, I have been pleased to see your journal improve over recent issues, and I look forward to its continuing evolution. I also appreciate your efforts to provide a forum that may “offer important ideas and directions to an ongoing anti-civilization perspective” (“Welcome to Green Anarchy”, GA #16). Such a project is important–I hope that it receives the support it deserves, and that the appeal for help in your last issue is taken aboard by a broader anarchist movement. Not all of your content is agreeable, however, and sometimes particular articles are woeful enough to demand comment.
I have some problems with “An Anarchist’s Critique of the Break the Chains Conference” by S. Fuggire (GA #14), but I will not go into them here. Following dialogue with one of your editors, I am willing to not pursue this debate within your pages. I understand that your journal’s space is limited and that my criticisms, a year after the conference in question, may lack timeliness to some degree. However, I would like this debate, which touches on broader and lasting issues, to take place elsewhere. Those interested in the initial version of my letter should contact me directly, at the address below. I still consider the arguments put forward in this older letter to be valid.
Why should we bother to explore our differences? I’d see it this way: As anarchists, we argue about what we do because our intense discussions of principles and strategy play out in real world activity. Affinity– an anarchist basis for action and intervention–does not fall from the sky; we know it because we search for it, and this involves debate and clarification of ideas. The “anonymous nihilist” of the Spring ’04 Green Anarchy does not seem to recognize this. He or she declares an intention to “keep my mouth fucking shut about the correct or incorrect ways to fight the totality.” With this as a starting point, the article can be nothing but self-contradictory nonsense.
The author of “What I Wish I Had Said September 12, 2001” contrasts mere (worthless) ideas with “resisting the enemy on the only field that it understands” i.e. military confrontation. As if armed struggle is the philosopher’s stone, providing a way out from every contradiction. Such a conception is strangely religious, and suggests that armed struggle is a strategy requiring no justification but faith alone. We can observe the miracles that come from such a line of reasoning– terrorist actions for Islamic civilization become a real attack on civilization itself, whereas the acts of conscious anarchists are presented as staged “for the cameras,” as if September 11, 2001 itself had nothing to do with the Spectacle.
What the “nihilist” bemoans, I often appreciate. Anarchist responses to S11 are described in the article as being “press release style, making sure that no one is off script.” Instead I view this as anarchists continuing to agree on their most basic principles–the critiques of hierarchy, of domination and of class society. Likewise, the “anonymous nihilist” caricatures anarchists as stating, “if there were anarchy, or justice, or whateverin-the-fuck, this [S11] would never have happened.” I am no defender of justice or “whatever-in-the-fuck”, but I see it as a strength that an anarchist society is perceived as being fundamentally other than the cold gray world we currently live in. I don’t think that we need any prefabricated utopias to live such a difference in the here and now.
I have lost my faith in nihilism– I want deep and passionate revolt.
818 SW 3rd Ave. PMB
1237 Portland, OR 97204
[GA NOTE: We are (and have always been) more than willing to discuss our critique of the 2003 Break the Chains Conference, or any critique we have for that matter. This magazine should clearly demonstrate that. However, the conference was a year-and-a-half ago and most of its organizers refused to engage in dialogue about the conference (or their left-leaning politics), and in fact get defensive and hyper-protective whenever it is brought up (Dave not necessarily included). BTC even went as far as posting (on their website) and printing (in their newsletter) a disingenuous and misleading response to our critique by Marxist-Leninist Ed Meade, which even he, himself, retracted. It is for these reasons that we will waste no more space in this paper over it. If we got into it here, a whole can of worms would need to be opened, and frankly it’s not worth the space. For our initial critique (which we stand by), check out GA #14. If you want to get into it though, email or write us…even better, talk to us face to face.
As far as nihilism...well that’s a huge subject, and we appreciate Dave’s comments. But as amoral and antiideological anarchists wanting to “destroy all of this” without limiting our possibilities (both now and later), and without the delusional optimism of the ‘60s, nihilism offers some interesting influences to our anticivilization critique. While we don’t totally embrace nihilism as a collective, its sobering influence will continue to be (one of many influences) present in these pages.]
Green Anarchy Promotes Prison Unrest
Dear Mr. Zerzan,
Thank you for the phone call today. With a point-of-contact and telephone number, I have no problem in adding you to the list of approved publishers. Please understand that the Oregon Department of Corrections will continue to review your magazine for content related violations. Items that may encourage violent actions against authority or promote unrest will be cause for rejection. For example, the graphic representation of the hanging ‘officer’ with a pigs head on page 54 of Green Anarchy, Issue #17/ Summer 2004 or the facing picture, on page 55, of the negative image of a police officer in the crosshairs of a rifle scope. If you have additional questions about working within the parameters of the ODOC Rule on Mail (Inmate), please contact me. I am including a link to the rule for your further edification. Thank you again for the opportunity to dialog.
Sincerely, Randy Geer
Emergency Preparedness Central Mail Administrator
Oregon Department of Corrections
2575 Center St NE, Salem, Oregon
Bearded Dudes Who Fart Dust
Dear Folx at GA,
Howdy, and Revolutionary Greetings from the Huntsville Texas concentration camp system. First off, wanted to say…Fuck You!!! Nah, jes kiddin’. Actually, I rather dug issue #16 of Green Anarchy and I wanted to say that even though I don’t agree with the whole anti civ. primitivist perspective – not that I’d have any problem roaming the forests butt neked ingesting peyote with a blow dart gun or bow – and I veer more to the dried up ole Kropotkinesque anarcho communist outlook (bearded dudes who fart dust), I kinda enjoy some of the articles in your paper. I reckon on some level I share the same spiritual reverence for the earth as well as the anger against its destruction. I think a spiritual reverence for nature implies a spiritual reverence for our true natural selves too, minus all the contrived bullshit. I also wanted to say thanks for sending me this paper for free. That’s a very cool thing to do. Hey, I can’t even get a copy of the Industrial Worker for free, and I was a dues paying Wobbly for 7 yrs or more. So thanks!
The Grievous Amalgam article on Destroying Video Surveillance was right on, cept I think he gives Orwell short shrift. Hell, I read 1984 amidst heaps of piled up garbage in 20 degree drisling weather behind the prison kitchen and couldn’t put it down because it so well reflected mind sets and even situations I’ve found myself in in a prison setting. Orwell was not so recuperated that he couldn’t reach me, and I don’t see him in any bourgeois academic social science books, as I do Foucault. I also thought Marx’s thoughts could’ve been added to the mix. If you read his Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844 he talks about how what workers produce under capitalism gets turned against them. He was on the money. The more working people contribute to technological advancements, the more they forge the manacles which the state will use to keep them enslaved. Its just another dimension of dead labor enslaving living labor. As a prisoner I am only too cognizant of the numerous ways the state has contrived to keep me in check while I’m here and when I’m out on parole, much of it thanks to techno advancement. DNA files, computerized crime data bases, piss testing, leg monitors, etc. These advances would make B. Traven’s head swim.
Grievous Amalgam’s words regarding the Panopticon’s eye were right on. I work in a prison garage as a mechanic under a sort of panoptican eye, i.e. an elevated office, full of cops with a plexiglass window through which said cops glare at us and scope us out. It does induce the internalized self policing effect, and also is a good example of the Hawthorn effect. People work more if they see cops glaring at them and are less apt to misbehave. I’ve even seen dudes put some distance between themselves and so-called trouble makers for fear that their potential association would be seen and noted by the watchers behind the glass. But G. Amalgam is also right that there are blind spots. They can’t snoop on you if you’re behind a truck or underneath a vehicle. I feel irritable after 8 hours of that type of scrutiny. It’s fucking invasive just like the state is at every juncture. I’m real heartened by the actions of the MAD folks in the U.K. Welp, better leave you with a subingenius smile, like that Alfred E. Neuman cat on Mad Magazine and a quote from Johann Most in regard to our oppressors. “Extirpate the Miserable Brood!” All the best to ya!
Greetings from the Belly of the Beast in the U.K. I’ve just managed to finally acquire some literature which has been held in my property due to the bureaucratic nature of the shibboleth within which I am captive. I was refused most literature sent to me because of its “inappropriate” and “political” nature! However, I argued that this was a subjective value judgement and threatened to pursue it as a breach of Article 10 (Freedom of Speech) of the European Convention on Human Rights. When faced with this they soon backed down. Ah, the luxurious sweetness of poetic justice, using Babylon’s laws against them in a penal institution!
It was a relief to finally get my teeth into some news and opinion not of the mainstream media. It helps you to remember why you believe what you believe and proffers an extra boost to encourage you not to succumb to the subtle and not so subtle brainwashing techniques which aim to make you conform, tacitly or not, through the daily confrontation with institutional authority.
The issue of GA that I finally received was No. 15. I must congratulate you on the depth, nature and scope of the articles, they were excellent and demonstrate exactly the degree to which the artificial construct of Civilisation pervades all aspects of everyday life.
I found the article “Electric Funeral” particularly resonant, emphasising as it does the need to extend sabotage from the simple, but necessary, acts of destruction such as burning SUVs, dealerships etc. to the just as simple, yet more effective, sabotage of critical infrastructure. I have been aware of the antics of the Italians in regard to this for some time, and have often wondered at the barrier that prevents people taking this extra step.
I can only assume it is the artificially inbuilt “fear” of authority which permeates our formative years due to the nature of our conditioning at the hands of Babylon.
This “fear” of authority is one of our greatest barriers, as well as one of their greatest assets.
We must overcome this fear; easier said than done I know, but given the options what is there to lose? Is there any real, intrinsic difference between the “face” behind the dealerships and that behind the towering pylons that litter the land? The question is but one of size, and yet surely the isolated, decentralised, guerilla nature of sabotage lends itself perfectly to this task?
And if the fear is one of retribution or punishment, well then, yes – embrace it. By this I do imply martyrdom. Careful planning, awareness of criminal detection techniques and guarded conversation all contribute toward making this fear redundant – the risk can, of course, never be totally removed. I shall say no more on this due to space limitation, and the fact that my mail is monitored as I’m sure that yours is! Suffice to say that I am SURE that relevant projects are indeed underway in this bioregion, and that prison is not something that you should permit to act as a deterrent.
The prison system, being a microcosm of the state that employs it, offers an ideal way of examining the nature of power and authority as it constantly confronts you. It can only serve to reinforce ones beliefs, to permit you to reflect and contemplate the cause of your convictions and, hopefully, to resume the attack with renewed vigour and determination upon your release.
P.S. Also, for the record, I am doing 9 months for being so stupid as to let my head assault a riot pig’s truncheon. Keep up the excellent work.
The Vulnerability of the Industrial Infrastructure
I belong to an Australian ad hoc group of ‘urban infiltration’ enthusiasts. We explore civil infrastructure of all kinds - whatever we can find and get into, regardless of its supposedly ‘off limits’ status. There are branches of our group in most major cities in Australia. Naturally, we keep records of what we find, to share with other people with like interests. We also communicate with similar groups overseas. It is quite a common pastime, both in the USA, and Europe, and doing a google for ‘infiltration’ ‘draining’, ‘souterains’, ‘urban exploration’, etc. will turn up many web sites of such groups world wide.
Anyway, getting back to the point. Over the years, it becomes glaringly obvious to explorers such as ourselves, that almost all of the critical infrastructure of large cities is totally vulnerable. Electricity, water, gas, communications, sewage, drainage, rail – all of them could be shut down over wide areas for days or weeks by simple acts of vandalism, at remote and unguarded locations. If several different services were taken out at once, in ways requiring significant effort to repair (not difficult to arrange), it might be very hard to organize the restoration of services within a time scale compatible with maintenance of social order within a large city.
We joke among ourselves that it’s lucky we just like looking and taking pictures, because if we wanted to it would be child’s play to totally shut down virtually any city. There are just too many critical services exposed in too many places, almost all of them with little or zero security (and virtually impossible to provide security for). In the present ‘crisis’, there have been some ostentatious (but not very effective) upgrades to security at prominent landmarks and key facilities. For instance, the Sydney Harbor Bridge now has a few security guards on foot patrol, and a few more video cameras. But even that national icon would still be vulnerable to a determined and creative attack. Elsewhere, at less visible but still critical locations, there have been precisely zero changes in security arrangements.
And yet, so far there do not seem to have been any serious incidents of infrastructure sabotage, in any of the ‘coalition of the willing’ countries. Or anywhere else not actually in the middle of a war, for that matter.
To those of us with some interest in politics, this is an interesting contradiction to official assertions of frequent impending terrorist attacks. If I were one of these hypothetical terrorists, with a grudge against western nations, I suspect the idea of causing great economic havoc would be just as attractive as committing acts of mass murder. Possibly more so, actually, since it would make a point without at the same time creating violent nationalistic hatred of whatever cause was motivating me.
So we have two observations:
It would be easy for anyone wishing to massively disrupt society, to successfully attack the crucial infrastructure (and escape free).
Such attacks do not seem to occur. Instead we have (in the USA) one instance of spectacular, suicidal, localized destruction (WTC), and one instance of a generally disruptive (but politically targeted) biological attack (The anthrax mailings).
The only possible conclusion, is that there is simply no one seriously interested in committing major infrastructure attacks. And that implies there are actually no true (or even wannabe) ‘terrorists’ among us. And never have been.
Which in turn implies that all the actual and threatened attacks were not initiated by ‘terrorists’ (as advertised on TV), but by people with quite different motivations. As for who they are, and their motivations, I notice the rest of the internet has a few things to say about that. However, it is curious to note that our governments, while doing their best to scare the citizenry with tales of impending attacks, and making a great show of upgrading security around high visibility ‘targets’, tend to be doing virtually nothing of substance to protect the real soft and vulnerable spots of our society - the critical service infrastructure of the cities.
It’s as if our governments are certain these targets will not be attacked. Which is quite fortunate, since the effort required to harden all that infrastructure, including things like the fiber optic lines, and create a truly ‘secure society’, would be astronomical. I suggest that the ideal of a ‘secure society’ would be completely beyond the realm of the possible. Physically, it would require the laws of thermodynamics to be suspended. (More energy needed to run the security apparatus than the rest of society.) Economically, nothing could be profitable under the burden of massive security system cost overheads. Politically, it would require the elimination of almost all freedoms.
If there were any real terrorists, our entire western way of life would be untenable. The combination of technology and centralization makes us just too vulnerable to survive determined and creative attacks on our infrastructure.
This Letter Is No Exception
First off, I want to say that your magazine is one of the best and most relevant anarchist publications around today. Green Anarchy shines in a world of Slingshot’s, News from Nowhere’s, and Northeastern Anarchist’s. Statements like this, however; are almost always followed by criticism, and this letter is no exception. I have noticed the green anarchist critique as a coherent mode of thought be slowly replaced by a new set of repetitious jargon that seems to substitute for actual argument or an inspiring play of ideas. Words like passions, desires, wildness are starting to serve as a complete end to themselves (especially in essays like “subversion>insurrection>revolution..”) This waters down these important terms and makes everybody sick of them (and i’m sure we’ll all be drinking coffee at cafe insurrection in a few years). The problem isn’t simply overuse of terms, but that the terms are presented in the form of a new dialectic mirroring, frighteningly enough, christian and communist propagandizing. Domestication, as Wolfi says in “barbaric thoughts”, is the new original sin, but he is just as guilty for building up wildness as a concept paralleling the christian idea of purity. Why not explain what we mean and make no bones about it, encourage debate (and i’m not talking about snipes and catfighting between anarchist celebrities) and talk in real terms about strategy. Also disturbing is a new Anarchist redbaiting (it looks like Joe McCarthy’s ghost on the inverse). Obviously the political Left is something anarchists must be distinct from if they want to have an effect on the world, but having a bunchof greenanarchists sit around and denounce each other as leftists only serves the interests of paralysis. Many of the people that throw around that word seem to be confused about what an actual leftist is. I might define the left as a specific ideology and morality of oppression. A quantification of exploitation as opposed to an emotional response to the institutions that impede peoples lives. Some “post-Left” anarchists throw around all these disparate tendencies that characterize the Left and lump them in a big category that encapsulates everyone they don’t like. For example, NEFAC are not reformists, they are platformists (an even stupider tactic than reform, which at least is completely impotent as opposed to platformism, which is an embarrassing affront to anarchist thought). By doing so these Anarchists fall prey to a trap similar to that of the Leftists, namely ideology.
Gang culture, a Form of Modern Tribalism
Green Anarchy/Uncivilized Books: Naltze and revolutionary greetings, I just got finished reading Green Anarchy issue #15-winter 2004 and felt compelled to drop you a few lines. First off I’d like to extend my appreciation and gratitude for the “Libres y Salvajes” pamphlet that you sent me. I had some copies made for the raza in here to check out which was very helpful especially considering that there’s not much reading material (outside of prochristian religious propaganda) available to spanish speakers inside this and many other institutions. Most spanish speaking prisoners end up spending years and decades incarcerated with virtually nothing available to them in a language that they can comprehend thus leaving them with no opportunity to mentally liberate themselves. Many end up learning to speak conversational english but due to budget cuts in education programs none will become literate in english. That’s why pamphlets in spanish, like the one you sent me, are greatly appreciated. I wish more organizations would have the same insight to realize the latent revolutionary potential within the raza. I think a lot of organizations for liberation fail to recognize many strong potential areas altogether or have flawed organization tactics thus failing to reach their desired objective of getting their message and philosophy across. While some groups may succeed in breaking through language and cultural barriers and convey their philosophy, they often fail to break through sub-cultural barriers, in turn only confusing and alienating the same group of people they are attempting to help liberate. A successful method of delivery many times will differ depending on which group of people you’re targeting. For instance most organizations fail miserably when dealing with the gang subculture. Many fail to see this to be a form of modern tribalism (albeit with misdirected anger) and end up trying to exterminate what they don’t understand like the catholic priests at the time of the conquest. For instance, it seems the main tactic that’s used is to first get this person to denounce his or her affiliation. This tactic is not only oppressive but is also counterproductive and a waste of time and effort. Instead of working against gang subculture they should work with it. This method has been proven to be overly successful in the past and there are many examples we can dig out the archives and put forth. I’m not suggesting anyone support misdirected gang violence in any way, what I am suggesting is we support the group and help mentally liberate them as a whole and steer them into becoming a positive force in the movement. Gang subculture itself is merely a form of modern tribalism and gang violence should not be treated as though it is a disease when it is truly just a symptom of the disease we all know by many different names. Cure the disease and the symptoms will disappear…
Before I cut this letra short let me leave you with this, the Maya of Mexico and Central America built an “advanced civilization” with thousands of cities which we know now began to have adverse affects on the surrounding environment. Historians and archeologists have debated for years as to why the Maya would simply just abandon their cities and how such an “advanced” culture would choose to revert back to primitivism. According to many Mayan elders this was a conscious decision made by the people in order for not only their survival but the survival of their environment. I guess this reason makes no sense to men of “education”…
Remember, there are no bad apples in the barrel – the barrel itself creates evil…
#11965888, 2605 State Street,
Salem, Oregon 97310
The Left is Old
Dear Green Anarchy
I’ve been following the debate on ‘leftism’ in your magazine, which I get when I can, usually a long time after it’s come out. I wanted to add this. The critique of the left is older than the left itself – (There were people peddling leftism thousands of years before they were identified as ‘the left’ or ‘leftists’.) The critique of the left is/was born of the struggle against class society, civilisation and capitalism. (Although many of us don’t acknowledge it) we are all the inheritors of this continuity and tradition of thousands of years of struggle.
Every expression of this struggle that has embraced direct action and the re-appropriation of life and rejected ‘representation’ and ‘compromise’ or ‘negotiation’ with the state has had the critique of leftism inherent, living within it: even if those struggling never had the time, the capacity or the inclination to sit down and write about it. They expressed their critique of the left in a different way – outside of words. The situationists weren’t even the first to write these things down – they were just picking up where others had left off. All I’m doing now is picking this up. These are not ‘my’ ideas – they don’t belong to me. They belong to us all and to no-one.
And us? our small groups of comrades, converging around magazines like Green Anarchy, we are expressions of this struggle. This letter is an expression of this struggle. But let’s not get carried away! We are only part of a bigger whole – We’re not a leadership: either a political leadership or a leadership of ideas. If we were either of them we’d be leftists. Comrades! Thank you for the convergence.
EVERYONE AND NO-ONE
“Now What?” — A Primitiist Strategy Proposal, by RedWolfReturns
For those of us who have come to an encounter with the primitivist vision & critique of civilization, one very big & fundamental question always seems to remain burning in our hearts & minds: “now what?” The question is certainly a damned difficult one. It is a question I’ve wrestled with plenty in recent years and will continue to wrestle with into the foreseeable future. Just what the hell do people do next, once they finally wake up to a comprehensive critique of civilization— right in the middle of the most awesomely-powerful, destructive & dominating industrial civilization the Earth has ever seen? Any answer to such an overwhelming question is bound to sound a bit absurd depending on how you look at it (and I’m sure mine will be no exception); however, the following is my own attempt to propose a somewhat reasonable strategy for primitivist action in our present context.
First of all, I think we need to begin opening space for safe-havens where people can build community & learn through daily practice how to live in a direct, unmediated, and semi-primitive way. People need to re-acquire a taste for the experience of an authentic, intimate & sharing relationship with each other, the Land, and it’s Wild Life.
We can Begin opening space for this by purchasing small plots of land near National Forest and wilderness, or by living nomadic lives while camping or squatting on National Forest land (where one can legally camp at any given spot for two weeks after they’ve been discovered by the authorities, as long as no permanent structures have been built). If the Land is purchased, open it up for fellow primitivists to stay there long-term or (if they have more nomadic tendencies) as they pass through the area. People can hunt/fish/gather/trap/camp on public land, while being loosely based on private land as needed. If a squatter’s camp is erected in the national forest, its location can then be made known through informal networks so that hospitality can be extended to those who might like to come & live there as well. If we had a network of these safe-havens around North America, an informal circuit of nomadic or semi-nomadic bands (families, affinity groups, friends, individuals) could get to know each other & learn to live in new, neo-primitive ways with active support from each other.
Such support would then tend to build strong bonds of affinity that could be counted on in a crisis (for examples of people already forming communities along these lines see: www.wildroots.org and www.rewild.org). However, it should be noted that the people who own any actual land bases would probably want to be careful to avoid raising the attention of the State. This should be fairly easy however, since the primitive skills movement in America is currently accepted as a quaint hobbyist activity with unmolested schools/camps springing up all over the place (for examples of “primitive skills movement” activity see: www.teachingdrum.org, www.backtracks.net, and www.hollowtop.com/schools.htm). Only those who intimately know and trust each other need know there might be anything more going on than just a bunch of hobbyists playing around (and since the “more going on” will also include a lot of “playing around” this shouldn’t be such a problem). Of course, the nomads who circuit between these safe-havens will not be restricted with this concern (except of course, while at or near the safe-havens—primitivists probably shouldn’t shit in their own houses, either metaphorically or literally). As long as “state-smashing” Anarchofolks remain smart relative to security culture, they can & should act/resist in any way they see fit—but the land bases should remain just what they need to be—safe havens.
It is my personal belief that we simply must become intimate & connected with the Land again if we are ever to live without making constant war on our Wild Relations. Once opened, these safe-havens can hopefully become a place where we can respectfully ask the Spirits of the Land to help re-create our character as people once again. Our primary teachers need to be our Wild Relations and Mother Earth herself. However, we can also respectfully follow the lead of many American Indians who are re-connecting & reviving their Old-Ways, though we should be cautious & sensitive to the risks of cultural appropriation while venturing into this area. Hopefully, we want to get in touch with our own hearts enough to honestly re-create OUR OWN authentic Earth-based cultures, not just steal from Indigenous Peoples as Civilization is already doing. The operative principles here need to be respect and reciprocity—give back to native peoples & build bonds of solidarity based on common struggles and needs. Don’t just take, give back. (For a few examples of points-of-entry when it comes to possible connections with indigenous peoples see: www.treatyland.com/index.html, www.fpcnglobal.org, www.cs.org, www.ienearth.org, www.transformcolumbusday.org, and also www.americanindianmovement.org).
Next, we need to be willing & able to defend our communities & the land upon which they depend with whatever works. Whether that involves “being nice” or “being nasty” depends on an honest appraisal of the situation & what will ultimately & realistically serve the community (human and non-human) while taking full account of the forces opposing us. Often the best defense of the weak consists of some form & combination of illusion & adaptability. Any actual confrontation must be approached with the utmost of care & cunning. Also, take lessons from how indigenous peoples have defended themselves & their land—everything from how the Seminoles made cunning use of guerilla warfare to earn the title “the unconquered” to how the Ojibwe worked together in cooperation with white sportsmen to stop the Crandon Mine from destroying the land upon which they depend.
As this re-wilding movement grows among us as aspiring neo-primitive humans, we can also help to facilitate the same process on the Land itself through support for visions like the Wild Earth Project (www.twp.org). Then as more wild land opens up, more space is created for more neo-primitive safe-havens. In this way, rewilding the People will support rewilding the Land and rewilding the Land will support rewilding the People. Once this movement grows strong & something happens to tip the scales (like the beginnings of industrial or agricultural collapse) these neo-primitive communities could then move more towards the offensive end of the spectrum and begin to make use of any & all opportunities created by such a shift. Exactly what this will look like cannot accurately be foreseen at this point, but any actions taken will certainly grow out of the character of a Rewilded community, and will of course reflect the Earth-intimate culture from which they spontaneously spring.
Lastly, I’d just like to add that the way I see it, “Primitivism” is not about having “correct” ideas—nor is it about “working” toward some future “Revolution” based on those “correct ideas”. It is about re-learning respectful (not domineering) & playful (not work-full) WAYS of being, communicating & acting within our most basic relationships—right now. Personally, I don’t care much what people say they believe anymore, and I’m not interested in watching people sell out the present to work toward some Imagined future. Like children who started a fight on the playground, now is the time for us “civilized people” to learn to play again—to learn how to play in the dirt with our fellow humans and all our Wild Relations.
Anyone inspired by these thoughts can email me at:
News from the Balcony, with Waldorf and Statler
From which Direction does Anarchy Wither?
In case you missed the news in your favorite “agitational” periodical (does it have to be on newsprint to qualify as agitational, or just contain allusions to a working class or movement that is about to achieve glorious victory?), the FNAC, the Federation of Northwest Anarchist-Communists (formerly known as NWFAC), have finally settled on a constitution.
Clearly demonstrating just how important their project is, “The new constitution takes into account the size and needs of FNAC at present, directing the organizational structure towards strategically growing the federation and consolidating the federal offices to ensure needed work gets done. Federal officers were elected at the conference and federal council delegates have been elected from each local union.” This may seem like the work of gods, until you realize that there is only one collective in FNAC.
Why, do you ask, is it necessary to create this much infrastructure, legalism, and bureaucratic nonsense for just one collective? In their own words: “…we found ourselves needing a constitutional structure to assist us in maintaining collective responsibility, the development of our theory and tactics, and our active, public presence within the northwest of North America.” Which leads to many questions, not the least of which is, From which direction should a federation grow—the top or the bottom? Perhaps more appropriately, if it took three years for one collective to even ratify a constitution when exactly does the anarchy start? Or hell, how about the development of theory and tactics?
I’ll “collective responsibility” you!
With Friends like These…
In the run-up to the Republican National Conference, the media did well its job of terrorizing its intended audience with tales of the impending radical blitzkrieg that was to descend upon poor, defenseless New York City. Of particular note was the Daily News article, “50 Most Deadly Anarchists,” and the ABC Nightline segment, “When Anarchists Attack!”
I guess some “radicals” don’t take too well to being called “…troublesome, even dangerous…” and in a piece imaginatively titled “Anarchists say smears were way out of order” appearing in The Villager, a few self-designated representatives step forward to parley with reporters about the true happy, cuddly nature of anarchy. These verbal antics mostly consist of whimperings about “nonviolence” and “civil disobedience,” and include a few elucidating gems such as: “So what exactly would an anarchist America look like? It…would be an interlocking confederacy. It would be all sorts of things, groups of professionals and syndicates—people might belong to seven or eight.” Yeah, I get all weak in my bad knee just thinking about all the professionals and syndicates I could belong to after the revolution.
In amongst these tireless efforts to portray anarchy as a kindler, gentler socialism, there even echoed several cries for legal action in response to media “smears” and police harassment! All told, it’s getting harder for this old body to decide which smear is worse: anarchists as dangerous, property-destroying “terrorists,” or as puppet-wielding pacifists who themselves claim to be no threat whatsoever to the status quo?
Off the stage and back to grad school!
One from the Mailbag
One might think that the younger generations that comprise much of today’s self-styled anarchist milieu would appreciate a little gentle guidance from their elders every now and then—for the free publicity, if for no other reason! Well, that doesn’t seem to be the case, if this electronic mail we received from way up there in the Bay Area is any indication:
Thanks for the complimentary issues of Green Anarchy that you all gave me at the SF Anarchist Bookfair. While we have some agreements and some serious disagreements, I wanted to comment on the News from the Balcony section in issue #15. The header “Crass Opportunism” talking about work that myself and a lot of other anarchists were involved in around the Mayoral election in SF is hilarious. Seriously, I laughed out loud. While we may have disagreements, it’s important to recognize good witty humor nevertheless.
Barbary Coast Some “serious disagreements”? Buddy, that ain’t even the half of it! Ol’ Waldorf and I are still laughing our teeth out of our heads over this one. It distinctly reminds me of working eighteenhour days in the acid mines when I was twelve: about the only fun we had was amusing ourselves with dirty limericks about the foreman; every now and then he’d wander over, and hearing the tail-end of our good witty humor he’d force a little laugh-along, thinking himself to be (as the youth these days say) “down.” Now, as was the case then, we ain’t laughing with you.
We won’t miss you when you’re gone!
Uncivilizing: Physically, Mentally, and Spiritually — A Look At the Feral Visions Gathering, by Felonious Skunk
FERAL VISIONS AGAINST CIVILIZATION, the “2nd Annual Black and Green Anarchist Gathering”, took place the first week of August and was facilitated by various collectives of the Black and Green Network. Our goal was to help bring folks with similar perspectives into a wild environment and help break down mediation between ourselves, our world, and each other. The gathering provided an introduction to the various strands of anti-civilization thought, an in-depth forum for discussing and developing the theoretical and practical aspects of anarchoprimitivism/green anarchy, and also a skill-share for primitive skills and post-industrial/survival tactics. The entire event was centered on active participation and sharing and was, in my opinion, a tremendous success.
The location of the gathering (disclosed through our website, voicemail, and flyers only days before, for security reasons) was Twin Lakes in the Umpqua National Forest. This beautiful site in the Southern Cascades of Oregon was used for the 1998 Earth First! National Rendezvous, and was well-equipped to handle large crowds. With two crystal-clear lakes for swimming, fresh mountain springs for drinking, lots of berries (if you knew where to look), and tons of huge Douglas fir, Cedar, and Spruce trees to hike through, climb, or sit beneath, the location was ideal for people to re-connect and re-wild.
The “organizing” was very loose and open. Through various informal networks (publications, flyers, internet, radio, word of mouth), lots of people got the word out months ahead of time, while a core group, mostly living in the region, took the initiative to get the main supplies and site details together in the few weeks leading up to the gathering. The lakes were a mile and a half hike uphill from the parking lot, so some folks arrived a couple days early to haul supplies for the kitchen and temporary infrastructure. By the time people started rolling in, a top-notch kitchen, numerous shitters, and general information (signs, maps, etc.) were ready for the nearly 200 people who were there throughout the week (with approximately 80-100 at a time).
Although we contacted lots of folks with specific skills, knowledge, and opinions, we wanted to keep the schedule open to encourage everyone’s participation, so we decided on loose themes for each day, both on theoretical and practical levels, as suggestions or general orientations for people to plan around. At each morning circle we passed around a board for people to schedule discussions or skill-shares they wanted to facilitate or see happen. The theoretical themes were: Intro to Green Anarchy and Primitivism, What We’re Up Against (Civilization, Patriarchy, the State), Moving Beyond the Left and Ideology, Insurrection and Nihilism, Direct Action and Tactics, and Visions and Strategy. The more practical themes were: Intro to Earth-Skills and Primitive LifeWays, Shelter, Containers, Water, Plants (food and medicine), Healing (self-care, community care, spirituality), Hunting, Scavenging, SelfDefense, and Fire and Restoration. While things generally stuck to the themes, the event also had a flow of its own, which worked out quite well. Although it was not possible to go to everything, and there were times when the length of discussions were limited by the schedule, altogether it was invigorating without being too stressful. Inevitably, there did seem to be those who gravitated toward theory, and those who preferred down-and-dirty skills-sharing, but most people got a balance, not to mention the personal interactions, direct experiences, and play throughout the week!
Preferring to learn and practice “primitive skills” on my own or in small groups, and loving the intellectual stimulation of critical folks I don’t normally get to interact with on a daily basis, I tended to stay in the thick of the discussions and debates. I really appreciated “Leftism 101” by Lawrence Jarach of Anarchy: A Journal of Desire Armed, in which he gave a concise history of the Left, and its typical contemporary manifestations, so that anarchists could better understand the non-liberatory political tendency they often criticize (and in some unfortunate cases, consider themselves part of). Also of interest to me were the non-ideological discussions of Primitivism, a strategic look at the destruction of civilization’s infrastructure (electric grid, communication networks, economic systems, etc), a look at some ways of creating insurrectionary communities, and a healthy critique session of Green Anarchy magazine. I was a little disappointed with the anti-climatic discussion of the controversial new pamphlet, “Barbaric Thoughts” (see “Reviews” on page 65), billed as the long-awaited smack-down between insurrectionalist Wolfi Landstreicher and primitivist John Zerzan. Both sides seemed disinterested in this discussion, and most others seemed fairly timid in challenging any of the questionable ideas. Throughout the week the debate between insurrectionalism and primitivism came up in numerous talks, and most people felt that while there are rigid and dogmatic aspects in both tendencies, the ideas are connected in some very fundamental ways, and it seems that most of the differences are a matter of prioritization (to oversimplify: primitivists prioritizing origins, insurrectionalists focusing more on current institutions) and not opposing in terms of analysis or goals.
It was not all talk. There were more than enough plant walks, animal skinning, and tool/weapon making to keep any feral forager more than busy. I particularly enjoyed the baskets and lanterns that were made from urban scavenged materials and the tanning of animal hides. There were lots of informal skills shared as well, like communicating with feral noises over distances and backwoods stealth training when the Forest Service came to snoop, or the various shelters that spontaneously popped up during the week, especially when it started to rain. There was also an amazing infoshop put together by various distros in which tons of anti-civilization, insurrectionary, DIY (Do-It-Yourself) guides, and primitive skills zines were available for free.
Nighttime was a particularly interesting time at the lakes. Because of extreme fire danger, we had only two fire-pits, which encouraged folks to either play in the moonlight or get together for story-telling, reading poetry, rants, pickin’ and singin’, as well as larger discussions on topics including patriarchy, healing from civilization, and strategy. Most interesting was the radical/anarchist dismantling of identity politics as a limited, and often repressive approach to liberation (not a conversation that is easy to have in many leftist college towns).
One night towards the end of the week, the BASTARDs (Berkeley Anarchist Students of Theory and Research Development) did an amazingly hilarious shadow puppet show, mocking every single element of the anarchist milieu. As popcorn was passed around the fire, we traveled with John Zerzan as he went on a journey with his anarchist companions to find a “primitivist way” to fix his broken glasses. At everyone’s expense, we were thoroughly entertained with spoof characters like Tennessee Toad (editor of Fifth Estate), Judas B. Nicely (former primitivist turned leftist/liberal), Whitey McGuilt (who certainly bore no resemblance to Chris Crass), Luna Earth Child, the Plateauists, the Hermit of the Long Haul, Eco-Archy, Anthro Boy, Manny the Manarchist, Donna the Doormat, White Lion (suburban Rastafarian) and a parrot named Spitting Crow (a self-righteous anti-civ insurrectionary who constantly interrupts to repeat rhetoric of “passions and desires”). Everyone’s favorite character seemed to be Gimli, JZ’s faithful companion with a battle axe and short temper for anything reformist, leftist, or even mildly annoying. Each scene would end with “Gimli feeling feral fury!” and destroying that which oppressed him (or got in his way), as the audience cheered on! Woefully, Gimli finally got it in the end when the Sphinx (David Watson) guarding the Oracle of Detroit (Fredy Perlman) gave him a bogus trick question. But John finally makes it to the end of his journey, and learns that ideological thinking (even in fixing his glasses) is not always the best way to achieve one’s anarchist goals. This magnificently performed theatrical extravaganza of sectarianism and insider humor was a treat for everyone!
Overall, people were generally helpful and enthusiastic about contributing to the temporary community, yet there did seem to be an informal division of labor occurring at times. There was a dedicated security team and a solid kitchen crew, which were open and flexible, yet seemed to consist of a lot of the same people throughout the week. This was a little disappointing, but we are all trying to figure out how to contribute and cooperate after being taught to either compete or be too dependent on others to survive. Even in this regard there was growth at this gathering. And while the group was fairly homogeneous in some respects, it was actually diverse in many ways, with the militants, intellectuals, survivalists, raw-food folks, crusties, artists, gardeners, goat herders, foragers, and tree-sitters offering an interesting mix of perspectives on the decivilizing process. However, noticeably missing, especially at a gathering of this type, were many indigenous folks, something to definitely think about in the future.
Despite taking certain security precautions, since this was an open gathering on “public land”, we had to deal with the fact that we were always being watched from outside and from within. The overt pigs (Forest Service and Sheriff’s Department) were not too big a problem. When they appeared (about every other day), we mostly played off the trails, so they couldn’t count us or see what we were up to. But the undercovers and informants were a little more troubling. They were definitely there, but we tried to maintain a balance of precautions without becoming paranoid or judgmental of those who dressed or acted differently than “the (ab)norm”. We should expect that whenever we are doing anything that threatens the system, they will do what they can to investigate, infiltrate, and/or disrupt our activities. But as long as we take our safety and security seriously and take the necessary actions to protect ourselves and each other, and don’t act like a bunch of liberals who believe in playing fair or being honest with the state, this doesn’t have to impede our activities.
This is only a broad look at the gathering, barely a glimpse of all the personal and interpersonal experiences and adventures of people there. In general, most people who attended agreed that it was a very meaningful event. I want to give personal thanks to all those who facilitated workshops, the security team who gave us warnings when the forest service was coming, those who bottom-lined the kitchen and provided everyone with at least two great vegan meals a day, those who donated food, supplies, literature, energy, and money, and everyone who participated respectfully with an open yet critical mind. It was obvious that there is a strong desire to do this again, and people in the southeast have proposed organizing the “3rd Annual Black and Green Anarchist Gathering” in their bioregion next August (we’ll keep you posted). Many folks talked about different bioregions possibly organizing their own local events a few weeks before the larger one. Earlier this summer, there was also a successful anti-civilization event called “Green Anarchy in the UK – Gathering of the Tribes”. Each day it becomes more clear to many of us that the anti-civilization tendency within the anarchist movement is taking things seriously in many regards and constantly growing as a potent dynamic contributing to the momentum against civilization.
Special Note: Hundreds of dollars were spent on food and supplies for this gathering, mostly coming out of a few pockets, so if you were there and forgot your wallet, or just think this was a great thing to have happened, please consider sending well-concealed cash or a check or money order made out to “Green Anarchy” to GA, PO Box 11331, Eugene, OR 97440. Thanks.
For more info, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Why Shall We Meet? (A Call for an Anti-Civilization Gathering in India)
FRIENDS, We have decided to meet. It is obvious that in our mind this question will definitely haunt that why should we meet, what is the need of such a kind of meeting? Let us try to answer it!
We have come from different backgrounds. We have treaded different political paths. Some of us were in different political groups/parties/ currents. But the experience of all of us has compelled us to take a different route than what we were following. What has made us to change our tracks? Has it been our dissatisfied and questioning mind which has not allowed us to keep us fooling in the name of ‘salvaging mankind’? We came to the understanding that not only the Industrial Society and State but the whole Civilisation is the root cause of the misery of human beings and along with it, all the species in the universe are in danger of extinction forever. This question has disturbed all of us. We have been trying to seek answers to it from some source or the other. Every one of us then realised this, he/she was all alone, trying to seek help from somebody or the other. That feeling of loneliness that most of us have experienced, those who didn’t, have been the fortunate few. As such, we find that very few people are there with whom we can share these ideas on the one hand, and on the other, a hell of a number of people around us are there to attack us. ‘Civilisation’ is continuously pulling us into its trap and we are trying to resist it in all possible ways. Each one is trying his/her best to keep oneself ‘alive’. But it is a difficult, torturous and painful exercise. Because this civilisation has not left any room for anybody, either one has to serve it or death is the only choice.
It doesn’t make any difference whether you yourself are serving the system or somebody else is serving it for you. Directly or indirectly, each of us has to serve it, if we have to keep ourselves physically alive. And when we realise this, the kind of pain we suffer, who will understand it, with whom we will share our pain if not our friends, who are sailing in the same boat? Who will give courage to each other if not YOU & ME? All of us must have been haunted by the question that in spite of the protest movements through out the world, the massacre of the Iraqis could not be stopped, WHY?
In India, the long drawn protest against the construction of dams have been unable to decrease the height of them even by a few feet, WHY? People of Harsud are dying in the open, before the eyes of all of us. And these kind and many, many more questions are disturbing all of us. How to console oneself? For the pseudo consolation Marxist and those kind of ideological schools are best. But what about us? And that is why we should meet. To meet, to give courage to each other, to help in lessening the pain we are going through. To help in removing the feeling of loneliness. To tell each other, you are not all alone, we are all there together and at the same time, how to find meaningful ways in the direction of the collapse of civilisation. We are not “organisation” people, we are not “party” people, we are not “vanguardist”, we are not “leaders”! And that is all the more important reason to get connected. Because it is not the liberation of some few, or some caste, race, class or nation/s but it is the question of the survival and liberation of the whole human species. This specie can not be saved, unless all other lives are saved and liberated from the clutches of the jaws of “CIVILISATION”. It is a defensive and offensive struggle at the same time. It is philosophical and emotional war against the MEGA MACHINE. And “the beauty” of that mega-machine is, it comprises all of us. We are not out of it. Physically we are in it; ideologically we are trying to come out of it. But the forces of “Pulls” are much stronger than the forces of “Pushes”. The jaws of civilisation are all the time pulling us inside physically & mentally and we try to push our selves out of it ideologically & emotionally. Is it possible to stand against such a strong current all alone? When it is a continuous struggle within and without, can one stand without any support, all alone, against such a strong force? No and big NO! And that is why we should meet, rather we must MEET! If you feel in the same way, then please join us.
If you feel the same way, then please join us.
When you come, come with whatever ideas are there in your mind. If it is possible for you to put them on paper, do it, if it is not possible, then don’t bother, you can express your feelings verbally, even that you do not feel like doing just don’t bother, just be there, your presence will communicate a lot.
When we want to smash civilization, we want to smash all its ideological bearings and practices. Intellectualism and specialization is one of its most important tunes on which the demon of civilization is dancing! All of us will respect the feelings of the hearts and not the intellectual jugglery!
(BUT if you are for: Better Industrial Society, Welfare State, Civilization with a human face, then we are sorry, this is not the place for you!)
We are AGAINST all kind of Domination-Coercion-Discrimination-Domestication! And most of all POWER with all its manifestations!
You can send your suggestion–willingness–confirmation to: Debranjan (Debu) (Bhubaneshwar): email@example.com Neeta (Nagpur): firstname.lastname@example.org Dipu (Bangalore): email@example.com
We Are All a Part of the Mortal Machine — A Message From Anti-Civilization Anarchists in Turkey
As a student or a worker-employee-farmer, all of us reproduce the system, which kills the planet, in our daily lives. We use, sell and buy lots of necessary or unnecessary products and services that we don’t know by whom, how or where they are produced. Estrangement is at every small part of our daily life and we don’t want to understand it. Because of the speed of our daily life we prefer to accept and not to investigate. Technoindustrial capitalist civilization attacks everyday the mother earth and her creatures. And that mortal way of life is more and more accepted everyday by humanity. We, as a part of the anarchist movement that calls for a war against Techno-industrial Capitalist civilization, a war for a total liberation, have started to fight for a way of life in harmony with nature and away from hierarchy.
This fight aims for the collapse of civilization and to create a new way of life. Instead of dealing with artificial paradoxes such as Lifestyle or Social Contradictions, we should struggle to realize an unestranged and unfragmented life. And our way of struggling should be comprised of unestranged-unfragmented and direct relationships, styles and methods. For this reason we deny all types of formal organization (party, syndicate, federation, platform, etc.) and we prefer getting together multiplying and socializing in direct, organic and sincere relationship styles. Because we believe that in the struggle for social revolution, no membership, belonging or representation will realize the TOTAL LIBERATION.
Temporary and sincere relationship styles are the perfect tools to create an unestranged and unfragmented alternative lifestyle. Collective activities and direct actions performed along the desire of like-thinking people, without any group pressure, are among our foremost aims.
Techno-industrial Capitalist civilization increases its attacks day by day, and we believe in the urgency and importance of spreading our ideas and direct actions towards its demolition.
This system which makes life impossible over this planet, which drives humanity to insanity, which converts everything over the planet into things to be bought and sold, and which does not hesitate to eradicate, to plunder for this purpose, must be demolished. The System, while preparing its own end, seems to bring around the end of humanity as well as other endangered species. Humanity is held up with its own voluntary will and it is believed that its banishment is improbable. We must abolish such beliefs, such superstitions. Otherwise the human species is heading towards big disasters in the not so far future. We have two choices in front of us. We will either let the system reign and it will collapse A Message from Anti-Civilization Anarchists in Turkey eradicating a great scale of the human species together with itself; or social upheavals and revolts will stamp out this deadly system to create a world of peace in harmony with nature, a world free of states, authorities, a world free of wars, oppression, exploitation, tyranny. We prefer to struggle towards the demolition of this system and we want to carry on and spread an upheaval and rebellious cry against it. To attack and to damage it from all of its weak points is among our foremost aims. For this purpose we support all activities agitative, non-propaganditative, and violent or non-violent. We believe in the necessity of acquiring skills to create an alternative life style, in parallel to the efforts towards bringing the last deadly blow to the system. Because the person who surrenders her/his life to the specialists and experts, who submits to become a part of the machine, who accepts division of labor and specialization, cannot be a free soul. The megamachine created a life style, which weakened the person by not letting it develop the ability to survive by itself and to take its own decisions, the system made the person dependent on the experts and representatives. The civilization of misery of the daily life carries this society towards an unsolvable division of labor and thus towards a weakening: with every passing day our dependency to the system increases. Genetic Engineering, the Food Industry, Medical Industry, Criminological Industry, IT Technology and Energy Industry are in fact the exact being of Industrial Society itself, and it has to non-stoppingly renew itself and has to make people believe in their dependency.
Now there is another fact that the system cannot go on unless we let it. If we cannot show the probability of an alternative life style, this system will continue to be indispensable. That is why we started to demolish the system from our lives cell by cell.
Back to the Wild Project
The idea of returning to the wild is a daily life activity and a step for the Rewilding of our lives. We are all a part of the deadliest machine that has ever existed. All of us reproduce the system, which kills the planet, on our daily lives. Why should we struggle to provide for our needs when everything is available in the markets with one push of button? But at the same time, do we stop to think what this comfort and readiness costs us? Where do we think the oppression is?
Revolutionary activities today which struggle for the demolition of the capitalist system and oppression believe that the oppression is limited by the governing machine. But what do they think of expertise, division of labor, estrangement from nature, technology, development, modernism, urbanism, in short about all of civilization? How can they really believe that these ideas can be matched with freedom?
We do not believe in this impossible utopia! A life style which deems itself civil and above nature, can never create freedom. Because a society in which experts of all kinds walk around, which is fragmented and estranged, which tries to rule over nature and other species and try to reduce them to sources only, has to recreate oppression.
We believe in the existence of a new alternative lifestyle and the possibility of others as well. Humanity did not experience an estranged-fragmented and oppressive life style in the 90% of its history. The life style of the humans before discovering civilization and thus breaking away from nature, proves the existence of a more humanistic and non-governing way than today. This proves to us that it is possible to lead a wild life deprived of states, governments, authorities, experts and civilization.
Due to our belief in the Green Anarchist way of living, we feel ourselves responsible to struggle towards this goal. Otherwise nobody will bring us our demands in our name. That is why we bring up the idea of Return to the Wild to acquire back the primitive skills which the civil society made us forget. We invite everybody who believes in the possibility of freedom and the anarchy situation, and those who believe that the freedom comes not from an irresponsible and reluctant position but from a revolting and wild character, to join in this project.
The Scandinavian Travels of an Insurrectionary Green Anarcho-Nihilist, by Felonious Skunk
Goin’ to Sweden
Honestly, I never gave Sweden much thought before. I mean, I knew it existed, that it was some sort of socially liberal yet culturally conservative Social Democracy, and they had some strange meatballs, but I really never thought that I would ever find myself there until this Spring when John Zerzan told me of a group who wanted to bring him there to speak at a summer festival. Well, he couldn’t make it, so he passed on my name, the projects I am involved with, and what I typically speak about. To my surprise, they were enthusiastic and figured out a way to raise some extra cash to fly me there. I certainly wasn’t going to pass up the opportunity, so I scrubbed the dirt off my skin, changed my clothes, and literally left the Feral Visions gathering (see page 74) to get on an airplane for Sweden.
After 20 hours of hellish travel in which the sun never really set and I never really slept (although I did get to see the mountains, glaciers, and icebergs of northern Canada and Greenland…from 30,000ft), I met some of the festival organizers at the Stockholm airport. Motståndsfestivalen (Resistance Festival) was put together by Teatermaskinen (theatermachine), a political theatre group which is loosely anarchist. Politically, they don’t call themselves anything but “political theatre” because they don’t want to give answers. They feel “as soon as you give an answer, everything is stuck”. Their goal is to provoke people into debate and to question all parts of society…of civilization. The festival took place in Riddarhyttan, a village northwest of Stockholm, where the group has a theatre compound complete with an assortment of outdoor areas, multiple performance spaces, and a café. This was the first year for the festival, and the goal was to bring together theatre folks, musicians, and “political activists”, including Social Democrats, Greens, communists, and anarchists. This was a peculiar mix, and among the more political people, anarchists were definitely outnumbered (and not necessarily all that green). In Sweden, Social Democrats are the equivalent to liberals in the U.S., focused on “Social Justice” and reform. The Greens, also fully immersed in the parliamentary system, have totally absorbed almost all ecological struggles, with some opportunistic or clueless individuals somehow considering themselves “green anarchists” (complete with black and green star tattoos and pins, yet little, if any, of the anti-civ. Politics).
Meanwhile, many anti-capitalists in Sweden are still persuaded by communism as a path towards liberation, and they seem to make up the bulk of what passes for radical there, and were more than fully represented. And anarchists, well, we played our typical roles as the “idealists” and “extremists” in this crowd. The only difference here was that most of the organizers of the event were generally politically aligned with us, and many of the people in attendance seemed unconvinced with the usual leftist approach, and in search of new questions and directions.
After spending a day or so adjusting to the time change and meeting folks, I was asked to take part in a formal debate on whether imperialism exists, what it means today, and strategies for fighting it. After briefly commenting on the irony of four males discussing the subject of imperialism, a project that is obviously propelled by a patriarchal mindset, we quickly began to diverge in terms of analysis and strategy. The three other panelists were all coming from a socialist/ Marxist perspective, and had a hard time with the fact that while I acknowledge the dynamic of imperialism as a force of domination in the 21st Century, I find discussions around such topics to be fairly limited. I suggested that what could be loosely termed imperialism today, might more accurately be described as globalization, or the standardization of the planet into a unitary logic, a dynamic which has reached global scale, but one at work for thousands of years. I also suggested that a discussion of the colonization of our bodies, minds, and spirits has more relevance to me than the term imperialism, which tends to focus primarily on economic and social conditions, and rarely acknowledges psychological and “apolitical” concerns. Also, the discussion of imperialism typically revolves around the conflict of one imperial power over a smaller centralized power, without really tackling the question of power itself. National liberation struggles come to mind: some so-called anarchists support nationalist campaigns in Palestine, Iraq, and Cuba, rather than critically supporting people’s struggles for real “selfdetermination” in those areas and rejecting the regimes and organizations grasping for power. These and other questions, while annoying the other panelists, seemed to intrigue many people who are tired of dealing with things via the leftist paradigm. I was specifically thanked by a group of anarchists for raising questions that are often absent from this type of discussion. This sparked many more conversations and interest in my talk a few days later.
Because of the late nights of music, videos, and discussion, and the early morning scheduling of my talk, I was nervous that attendance would be low, but I think the uniqueness of the subject encouraged people to wake early and fill the auditorium. Lately, I’ve been doing a number of speaking gigs, and have organically developed a rough outline of my main ideas that I improvise. I typically give a 45-minute presentation of my particular green anarchist/anti-civilization perspective, followed by clarifications and questions, and then a more open discussion develops. I approach the origins and dynamics of civilization from a roughly primitivist perspective, focusing primarily on domestication and alienation, which flows into an insurrectionary view on how my passions, desires, and needs are restricted and undermined by the institutions and manifestations of civilization. I spend quite a bit of time contrasting a green anarchist perspective with the left, pointing out the substantial differences in approach on the subjects of technology, division of labor, production, organization, representation, mass society, morality, progress, autonomy and liberation. I conclude with a more practical discussion on resistance, the need to be critical, creating healthier ways of interaction, and rewilding. I make a point of being open, and constantly refer to the fact that these are ideas and feelings that I am moving from in my life and with those I have affinity, and in no way prescriptions or proposals for a revolutionary agenda. I have no desire to create or be part of a new movement, but instead throw my energy into a diverse and multifaceted momentum against civilization without ideological limitations, moral constraints, or entrenched expectations. I feel that it is important to be non-ideological in how we present and approach our ideas, and reject any new orthodoxy. I think it is also important to point out our complexity, and our ability to be influenced by a wide range of perspectives without adopting any one as “ours”. I wake up some days fully inspired and hopeful that we can significantly challenge the civilized paradigm through insurrectionary activities, deep and provocative questioning, and the connection to healthier and less alienated lives. Other days I am full of hopelessness and nihilism over our predicament, and reconcile with the fact that all I can do is destroy this reality so that maybe someday I/we will be able to comprehend our endless possibilities without the weight of this world upon us. These tendencies, and many other influences and motivations are within me. These days I half-joke that I am a insurrectionary green anarcho-nihilist.
Anyway, most people were really into the talk, and despite the usual tangential comments about violence, there were lots of more interesting questions, which turned into an informal discussion outside for another hour or so with about 30-40 people. We discussed both theoretical and practical concerns and proposals on how we might destroy civilization and live in different ways. Also that day, we showed the film Surplus (made and broadcast on network television in Sweden) and Eugene’s own Fuck the System/Takin’ It Down! (both available from the GA Distro). Over the last couple days, I spent my time making new friends, watching theatrical political monologues, listening to the wide variety of music, learning about the Sami (indigenous people of northern Scandinavia), and giving people shit about the fact that everyone (including anarchists) are addicted to cell phones! I also picked up a copy of Brand, an anarchist publication which has been around since 1898 (that’s right, over 100 years), but is not bogged down in dated content or dust-covered ideas. It was encouraging to see that the life-span of anarchist journals is not limited to only a few years. Overall, despite the proliferation of leftists and liberals, the gathering was a positive experience, and I greatly appreciated the generosity and openness of the organizers.
After the festival I headed west to hang-out with some anti-fascist anarchists I met at the festival who lived in Götheborg. While they were open to green anarchist perspectives, most seemed hesitant to completely break with the left and their modes of operation, like the federation model and the participation in unions. However, one area in which I had great appreciation for this crew (and anarchists throughout Sweden), was their militant non-tolerance for nazis. Due to the region’s history, and a general resurgence of the neo-nazi movement, anarchists put themselves on the frontlines of literally stomping out these hate-mongers. By finding out locations where they gather and recruit, anarchists attempt, through propaganda and force, to make the nazis’ goals impossible. This was inspiring, considering that in the U.S., anarchists seem to get bullied around by every imaginable asshole. This being said, I wondered how anarchists who were so preoccupied with fighting (as in “fighting racism”, “fighting classism”, “fighting sexism”) did not begin to have an overly-macho tone, and leave unaddressed the deeper issues which contribute to what they are fighting against. While women and men both used the “fighting” language, and carried their brass knuckles for use on any nazi they saw, they generally had different takes on the subject. Women typically saw more limitations and possible problems with this approach, while men were often more simplistic and hyper-enthusiastic. My problem isn’t with the actions, which are extremely necessary and heartening, but with the tendency to create a “tough guy” attitude and a pigeon-holed approach to liberation.
On a tour through the town, my friends took me to some of the main points of interest in the 2001 EU summit protest/ riot. Months before Carlo Guliani was killed in Genoa, Swedish police used live rounds on protesters, seriously wounding a few people. These incidents radically changed how both liberals and anarchists approached these events in Europe. Liberals got to see first-hand how the state responds to discord or loss of control. Anarchists realized some of the limitations of more overt activity, and began to slightly adjust their approaches, like not coming to these situations all wearing black hoodies as to avoid becoming the immediate targets even before riotous activity begins.
We also stopped at an anarcho-syndicalist bookstore to drop off some copies of Green Anarchy, where we were confronted with closed-minded hostility, surprising even some of my more left-leaning anarchist friends. I offered to mail them copies for free, but the “man in charge” refused, explaining that they did not want to expose people to this particular version of anarchism. Although there was plenty of non-anarchist material in the infoshop, he refused to let people decide for themselves the value of GA, explaining that cars and hamburgers were some of his favorite products of humanity and that he would never even consider a world without them. Wow! How do you argue with that? I tried for a little while longer before giving up and remembering that the uncreative, sheepish, and dogmatic mindset of many anarcho-syndicalists and anarcho-commies are universal leftist traits. Despite this negative detour into leftist obtuseness, I enjoyed the visit with my friends in Götheborg. We had many interesting discussions and drank a fair amount of beer and vodka.
I took a brief excursion from Sweden (and overtly political discussions) to check out Copenhagen. I spent my days in Christiania, a relatively liberated artist/counter-cultural section of the city since the early seventies, and my evenings at Ungdomshuset, a huge social center, squatted by anarchists and punks since the mid-eighties (where I managed to sleep through an entire punk show). The squat was a great place to meet up with other migrating anarchists, and connect with the local riff-raff. We traded stories, laughed, compared our scenes, and argued into the night about technology, morality, and organization.
The community of Christiania, located on an abandoned military base on the waterfront of the southern edge of town, began in 1970 when a group of people knocked down a fence to create a playground for their kids and something green to look at. Within a year, hippies, artists, and freaks started to occupy the abandoned military barracks in the area, starting a massive immigration of people from all sections of society who came to create an anarchistic alternative life based on communal living. Throughout the years, the city and state have made many attempts to remove people from the area or restrict activity, but have been continually met with various forms of resistance and public support for the “experiment”. Through self-government in which all inhabitants can participate, Christiania has become somewhat of an autonomous zone within Denmark. It has also become a mecca for those who enjoy hash, as a more “grassroots” alternative to Amsterdam. Pusher Street became famous for those in search of the “kind”, but recently, the local pigs have curbed much of this activity after massive raids. The city continues to threaten the shut down of the entire community and tensions are high as pigs regularly patrol a once “off-limits” space, but people plan on resisting any more repression. While it definitely has its limitations and problems, specifically concerning scale (over a thousand people live here) and self-sufficiency (they don’t grow much food, utilize much of the city’s infrastructure, and have become financially dependent on tourists and outsiders to survive), it was a very interesting experience. With beautiful makeshift houses, communal bathhouse, kindergarten, cafes, bars, craftspeople, artists, abundance of green spaces, mutinous attitude, and no cars, Christiania is a glimmer of hope in an increasingly overwhelming world.
To finish up my trip, I took a train back to Stockholm to meet up with a GA subscriber I had been corresponding with over e-mail. Founder of Roots, a new bioregional anarchist group focused on methods of rewilding (concentrating on connecting deeply to place), she organized a talk for me at a local café. An enthusiastic crowd packed in, and we had a long discussion on the various anti-civilization ideas and tendencies. The crowed seemed mostly anarchist, except for a few leftists and liberals and folks from Pangea, a green youth organization which unfortunately attempts to straddle mainstream parliamentary politics and lefty anti-globalization-type direct action. It was good to finally be done with my formal talks, and I spent the next two days connecting with people, drinking vodka, and fucking off. We especially had fun messing with the guards (who aren’t supposed to talk or move) outside the royal family’s palace.
Headin’ Back Home
In Sweden, there is new interest in the questions green anarchists and primitivists have been raising and there are new subscribers and distributors of Green Anarchy, but the great discussions, new friends, and priceless experiences I shared are the most appreciated. My only regret was that I didn’t give myself enough time to go to Lapland, the rugged northern area of Sweden, which is almost uninhabited by domesticated humans. After weeks of traveling, part of me was glad to finally make it back to the anti-civilization projects I am participating in and the ones I love, but another part wished I could keep traveling around and connecting to new people with passions to destroy the horrific anti-life reality all around us.
…the obligatory pilgrimage by the True Believers to the Church of Democracy, where the pious genuflect before their triplegod; taking the sacrament of continued obedience with fervent prayer, bows, and pleadings; desperately hoping for some distant-future peace, freedom, and prosperity.
This mindless ritual has the same result as the swallowing of the dry, gagging, tasteless host of the Catholic communion, the head-banging bows to Mecca by Muslims, the tongue-speaking, bible-thumping of the Protestant, or the cock-chopping ritual of the Jew – Paradise remains elusive.
The triplegod of Democracy – State, Capital, and Religion – has accumulated its power in two ways – through force and, more predominantly, through the voluntary conversion by the dutiful congregation.
With the Eternal Mystery of the voting ritual unquestioned, the flock returns solemnly to work, filled with the Light of Salvation. Back to manufacture new weapons against the apocalypse and to lay the foundation of new and better institutions, designed to keep their PrisonChurch strong. Moving On to participate in their personal self-flagellation rituals.
Voting is one of the few activities where the faithfuls’ future needs no prophets. A new Savior: mayor, governor, prime minister, president (really a new warden or petit-warden) will become one of the Chosen ones. This Redeemer will add or remove some rule or another; privileges will be granted to or removed from one group or another – depending, of course, on the charitable contribution dropped into the tithing plate.
So, anarcho-democrat, bow down and vote, but take what your God (Kuchinich, Kerry, Bush, whatever the name of your deity) gives you. Or, get off your knees and take back your freedom, peace, and prosperity in the here-and-now.
I see no hallowed, middle ground.
The Error of Correction
Correction has elevated itself to the heights of oppression in its manifestation as the vast prison complex whose various branches (in the u.s., at least) subsume the general designation of “department of corrections”. From the perspective of the dominant culture into which we are thrown and pinned, to correct is to make right. It’s easy to see the error of correction for anyone wanting to see. In fact, correction has risen to disastrous proportions when we look at all that goes on in its name. Technology is, in one aspect, the employment of means to correct or improve (which can be seen as a mode of correction). Children are introduced to correction/ improvement early on and live with its oppressiveness all throughout childhood in the domicile and in school until they become conditioned to self-correct. This is seen as “maturity”(maturity, in the sense of ripeness, suggests being ready for harvesting and processing). From there they enter the domain of human resources...fit for work and service and to be consumed by the reigning storm of the ideological systems of nations, states....Civilization.
Politics are about correction. The right wants to protect the material basis of wealth from flowing out beyond the possession of its elect. It seeks to correct any ideological currents of thought that would serve otherwise. It will use any means at hand from the most subtle propagation of it’s “values”, to invasion and obliteration of whole cultures whose lifeway is perceived as a threat (by merely being an alternative!) to those values that it uses for its maintenance. The left wants to maintain the material base of wealth, but desires a more “equitable” possession of resources and an increase in the outflow of wealth. Material wealth is the ground of all politics and its only real concern in spite of all the pontification by politicos to the contrary. Both right and left will use whatever means they can muster to correct any deviation from their ideal. This includes everything from brute fascism to the most “benevolent” socialism. All political wrangling and busyness is about the correction/ improvement of the institutions of society for the sake of material wealth and the power, privilege and comfort (whether charitably disbursed among “the people” or kept largely to the elite) accompanying it. Politicos, right and left, cannot question the basis of their mode of being...material wealth...the whole realm of resources and goods, who gets them, and most especially, who decides. They delve no deeper in life than that, or if they do, they fear it for whatever reason and refuse to admit it. They don’t dream, and if they do, they ignore and suppress their dreams discounting them as distractions from “reality”.
In music making, especially when composing on the fly, the components of musical energy: rhythm, tone, amplitude, and velocity...ebb and flow as the performance stretches along. There can be moments of mad chaos followed by sudden silence opening into ethereal sweetness and poignancy. But the musician’s virtuosity and sensibility is limited and he/she may stumble into a moment of “error”. Suddenly the flow may be arrested. A finger may abruptly strike an unintended string or key. The metered pulse that was so effortlessly there a moment ago may suddenly be lost. A hesitancy or sense of bewildered embarrassment may seize the player. Here, the musician is “all in”. What happens next is crucial to the entire performance. But the one thing most wanting to be avoided is to correct anything. Better just to deliberately play on, fully cognizant of the uncanny territory and, like the fool of the tarot, walk right off the cliff, knowing that the wind of musical inspiration will kick in and buffet the fall, or even turn it into flight. Or one may simply stop, ending the piece precisely there. Anything but correction. There is grace in music making. Correction has its place in practice and study, but in performance (even if the musician is alone), it is unwanted.
Life is not the practice or study of itself. It neither needs nor wants correction. The chaotic and bizarre movement that has entered the scene of life on earth that is called civilization, with it’s phrases and phases of nations and governments and contorted inventions of social manipulation, is a song of death. Over much of the earth, the silence of nightfall undisturbed by machines has been forgotten except in the deeper regions of the body, which resonate with the rhythms and sounds of nature. The business of civilization with its incessant correction of every damn thing, from the flow of streams and tides right down to the minute behaviors of humans and other animals and plants, including the most hidden lifeforms and energy formations of molecules and atoms, is the “performance” that needs desperately to be stopped.
A musician can be carried away with the flow of a performance. The music’s energy has its own momentum, which can sweep the performer along ecstatically...for a time. A part of a musician’s skill is the ability to discern at such times when and how to regain conscious and deliberate control of the piece at hand and wrap it up in just the right manner. To just continue on unaware of the necessary limit of even the most inspired rhapsodic flow would end in cacophony and exhaustion. And that is the stage of civilization now. Our home is exhausted and the incessant mechanical din is a mad cacophony void of inspiration. Politics wants to correct all of this. It’s time to end the piece. The pianist may have to have his stool jerked out from under him and the conductor shoved off the stage. We can’t just walk out of the performance; that’s not a choice. The song of death is echoing in every crevice of existence on the planet.
It’s time to stop the madness, not correct it.
 I use the word ‘poor’ here with some degree of cynicism. Rich and poor are extremely relative concepts. When there are 85 million people living on less than $72 per year in China, can the union workers who are paid that amount per day call themselves poor? [Editor’s Note: Is ‘poor’ merely an economic term? Can’t those with little or no capital not be ‘poor’?]
 The word ‘work’ here means the activity you, I, and the rest of the people in the world do for money.
 In the preceding paragraphs, a phrase is used in Italian, ìlíattivit non si separa dalla sua rappresentazionî. This phrase can be translated both as “activity is not separated through (or by) its representation” and “activity is not separated from its depiction” (or our capacity to depict it in all its consequences). The author of this piece uses the phrase in both senses, but there isn’t a single way to say both in English.
 Environmental League, one of the best-known Italian environmental organizations.
 In November 2003 blockade movement organized through general assemblies shut the region down, forcing the regional government of Basilicata to cancel plans for installing a nuclear waste deposit site.
 Where 19 Italian troops and 7 Iraqis were killed in an attack.