Tag Archives: Anarchism

Violence is a river; society is an ocean

The Philly radical paper The Defenestrator has put up one of the best anarchist articles I’ve ever seen: Violence is a Small River: To be with Society is an Ocean. It is an interview with three greek anarchists about their situation, and their ideas for helping anarchism grow, what it would take to have a revolution. It gets at the ideas that we don’t need pacifism but that violence isn’t really such a major thing as we often assume:

Most anarchists believe we know the truth and the people don’t, so the people must follow us. For example, there was a park called the Self-Organized Park of Cyprus and Paticion. The people occupied the park and self-organized. Anarchists went there and said, “this isn’t anarchist enough. We can’t sell beer. We can’t have this concert because the singer isn’t anarchist.” So in two month’s time, the only people who went there were anarchists. Many times we prefer pure anarchy than to have a relationship with society. This is a mistake. Like Marxism and Stalinism, if you believe completely in it and don’t allow criticism, we are no better than them. We go straight to one closed system.


Greek anarchists must overcome ideology, to learn to be with society and live within it, not outside it. That’s what we’ve tried to do here in Exarhia. After December 2008, people, not only anarchists, occupied public spaces and tried to manage these places using direct democracy. Also, here there are many anarchists who are open minded and try to build structures, and there are others who are not. I can’t speak of anarchists as a unified thing.

Note that the latter quote is not, from what I gather, suggesting that we all get mainstream jobs and basically let ourselves be eaten into society: they’re mostly defending the self-organized spaces that they’ve been building in the anarchist neighborhoods in Athens. Also of note though, is you can’t actually speak for greek anarchism as an individual: it’s certainly made up of disparate parts. That’s probably part of its strength. But anyhow, this article may or may not be an accurate reflection of the situation there. Even if it’s a bit of a myth though, it’s a useful one.

The RNC 8

That was the video that the RNC Welcoming Committee made before the RNC protests in Minneapolis / St. Paul in 2008. I think it’s hilarious and quite obviously satire. Now, a few years later, the RNC 8 are about to go to court (on October 25th), accused of conspiracy. Originally, they were being charged as terrorists. Now, just “conspiracy.” For helping organize a counter-summit protest.

Apparently, the above video is being used as evidence against them, because the prosecution doesn’t think that it’s satire. For christ’s sake, they use a molotov to light a barbeque grill, and they wear black bloc while showering in the morning. How could it not be satire?

So they released a second video:

The SAC blockade

Blockading Berns in Stockholm

I admit it: I don’t spend much time on the picket line. I’m mostly one of those “rooting for 100% unemployment” types, politically. But I recognize that while I may be looking for the abolition of alienated labor, there are people who got families to feed. And they shouldn’t be treated like crap. And what’s more, we should help them represent themselves as a unified work force. Syndicalists do this fairly well.

The SAC is a syndicalist union in Sweden that’s been around for 100 years, which is awesome. And they’re remarkable in a lot of ways that really deserve more words than I’m going to give them now (but they represent a lot of immigrants, fight for precarious labor, and aren’t just a bunch of bureaucrats. And they call their pickets blockades, cause they blockade!).

I was in town for part of their 100th anniversary get-together and it really, really warmed my heart. I got to meet syndicalists from Spain, Siberia, Italy, and the UK (and Sweden). And I went out to the picket line one night to photograph and participate. The picketers were made up of the SAC and then a student group that was some sort of… i dunno, liberals or marxists or something, but they were cool too. Everyone wore almost the same reflective jackets as the police.

The place they were blockading, Berns, is a super-fancy hotel and club that treats their workers like absolute dirt, makes them work ungodly long shifts, fires them for organizing, etc. etc.

The police were trying to claim that the picketers are mafia, in essence. It’s disgusting.

Continue reading The SAC blockade

Photos from Musta Pispala

Finland - Musta Pispala

I spent this past weekend at the Musta Pispala festival in Pispala, a suburb of Tampere, Finland. I don’t know… this might have been the best anarchist gathering I’ve ever been to. A few hundred people came over the course of the weekend, mostly anarchists from all over Finland. I was immediately struck by how welcoming the atmosphere was, by how friendly people were, how engaged and unpretentious the scene here seems to be. I sat in a meeting in which green and red anarchists listened respectfully to each other… hell they even work with each other here. I led my usual anarchism and fiction workshop, and a really interesting anarchism in the USA workshop in which tons of people had insightful comments and questions. I attended workshops on the anarchist prisoners of spain and on the anti-fascist scene and struggle in Russia.

The festival opened with a few hundred people marching without incident from the city center out to a complex of three abandoned factories in the suburbs, where a squatted party was thrown. The sun went down sometime after eleven and the twilight lasts until 1am before starting again sometime around 3am. I never got over this.
The second night I went to the beach on a lake. The third night, a crowded punk show at a collective-run bar and venue, where I watched an amazing doom/stoner/hardcore/crust band that refuses to record, I think named Ward. The fourth night, after the festival was over, I watched the world cup championship. Something I never would have dreamed of doing had I been in the states. It’s bizarre and beautiful to be places where my cultural conceptions and stereotypes simply do not apply.

36 images below, most of abandoned factories and sunsets and all of that lovely stuff.

Continue reading Photos from Musta Pispala

We Support Our Troops

This past weekend has seen remarkable protests against the g20 in Toronto, Canada.

The government has reportedly spent an astounding $900 million on keeping the world leaders and their meeting safe from the protesters. Which really, quite simply, points to exactly the problem with the priorities of our system: our system has, since the beginning, been more concerned with self-perpetuation and holding on to power than it is with, say, dealing with the issues of the world.

The media, of course, is trying to split us into “good protester” and “bad protester.” The Huffington Post has a posted a shamefully poor AP article ostensibly about how the police have now arrested hundreds of activists who weren’t even in the act of protesting, but it quickly devolves into a ridiculous effort to justify these actions. I feel like I’ve read this exact article a hundred times. Start by talking about how the cops did something sketchy, like raid a university center for mass arrests, but justify their action in the first sentence:

Police raided a university building and rounded up hundreds of protesters Sunday in an effort to quell further violence near the G-20 global economic summit site a day after black-clad youths rampaged through the city, smashing windows and torching police cars.

next move on to quoting the government:

Prime Minister Stephen Harper deplored the actions of a “few thugs” and suggested the violence justified the controversial cost. “I think it goes a long way to explaining why we have the kind of security costs around these summits that we do,” he said.

(note that this quote also serves the purpose of somehow justifying the $900 million spent defending the summit)

Follow this by finding a protest group willing to try to make a plea for “legitimacy” by embracing their purported enemies (the summit itself) who will never, ever give a shit about them, and turning against their would-be allies:

An anti-poverty group called The Global Call to Action Against Poverty criticized the protesters who committed violence.

“A bunch of pimply faced teenagers trashing shops and burning cars does not help anyone,” said Rajesh Latchman of GCAP South Africa. “These hooligans obscure the real issues.”

and finally, put it in historical context by justifying police brutality of the past:

Previous global summit protests have turned violent. In 1999, 50,000 protesters shut down World Trade Organization sessions in Seattle as police fired tear gas and rubber bullets. There were some 600 arrests and $3 million in property damage. One man died after clashes with police at a G-20 meeting held in London in April 2009.

First of all… $3 million in property damage versus $900 million in defense expenditure? But most important here is that a man “died after clashes with police” in london, which is an outright lie. A man, unrelated to the protests, was killed by the police. That isn’t a “clash.” A war is when at least two armies are fighting.


My response might be simplest summed up by someone over at Infoshop News: If you’re angry about people dressed in black burning cars, you should probably know about the people in suits burning countries.

So, yes, I support the “black clad hooligans” in Toronto. Because they believe, for uncountable reasons, that the unelected world leaders of the g20 are in the direct process of destroying the natural earth, looting the developing world, and generally perpetuating the whole “rich get rich the poor get dead” thing. And no, the protesters aren’t willing to be polite about it.

Think about it. If you believed that the earth and most everyone in it was being absolutely tormented, tortured, and murdered by some rich people wearing suits, would you go hold a sign somewhere and hope that these bastards look at you and change their minds? Or would you go try to stop them?

The black clad anarchists might alienate some people, but almost no one is inspired by a bunch of spineless people saying “nurr… the g20 is bad but we should be cute and cuddly towards them.”

I have no idea if summit protests are useful, but I do know that the people who are out there fighting are incredibly brave, knowing that the most powerful countries in the world are spending nearly a billion dollars to crush dissent. Knowing that the state has the power to call summit protest organizers terrorists. And by continuing to be a thorn in the g20’s side, no matter how hard it tries to remove us, we can show the world, and show ourselves, that money doesn’t have the power to silence us. That no, a bunch of evil bastards can’t meet in public without hiding behind legions of armored minions.

Speaking at Musta Pispala in Tampere, Finland

I’ll be in Tampere, Finland between the 8th and 11th of July to speak at Musta Pispala, an anarchist festival. I’ll be doing both a presentation on anarchist fiction and one on anarchism in the US. I might also end up playing a show there, I’m not sure… depends on the availability of an accordion, it looks like. The folks who run this seem to be the ones behind Takku, an anarchist magazine that I got to see at the Stockholm anarchist bookfair and that features (among lots of other things, of course), translations from Strangers In A Tangled Wilderness. I’m excitied.

I’ve always kind of loved Finland and I’m excited to have an excuse to go back.

Photos – Raumstation Rödelheim (well, its bathroom)

(click on pictures for much larger versions)

Last night I spoke in Frankfurt at a social center called Raumstation Rödelheim. It went rather well: the audience was engaged and knowledgeable, often adding information to my lecture. (In particular, I learned still more about the admirable punk-as-fuck post-colonial african anarchist fiction writer Dambudzo Marechera who spit in the face of government and the mainstream when they tried to accept him into their fold by giving him award after award and tried to bribe him into positions of power.)

I walked in the rain courtesy of a Janosch umbrella. Janosch is a german children’s book writer who is quite famous here. He’s also an anarchist. Anarchism is a weird secret world that runs parallel to the mainstream one, and it bubbles through quite often. Recently I was drinking tea with a non-radical friend of mine in Amsterdam. The cafe has posters for JM Coetzee, an anarchist fiction writer, up everywhere. And my friend was studying Noam Chomsky, the linguist and anarchist… she pulled his book out of her bag.

Anyhow, I seem to have a thing about photographing bathrooms of the places I go. I think a bathroom can tell you a lot about the character of a place. There’s one more very-wide-angle shot of the bathroom at Raumstation (which means “space station”) after the break.

Continue reading Photos – Raumstation Rödelheim (well, its bathroom)

Norman Spinrad, anarchist science fiction writer, to undergo surgery for stomach cancer

Science fiction legend Norman Spinrad (author of, among other things, the very first episode of Star Trek, I think one that was never produced) is about to undergo surgery for stomach cancer, today. He talks frankly of the procedure.

Norman Spinrad came up during my research for Mythmakers and Lawbreakers because he’s an anarcho-syndicalist, and many of his novels directly reflect that. So here’s to one of our own, and hoping to the various minor gods who look after radicals in surgery that all goes well.

An Open Letter To Glenn Beck From AK Press

My friends at AK Press have written a really interesting open letter to Glenn Beck, getting at him for accusing the anarchists in greece of not being anarchists at all… basically, pointing out that Glenn Beck is afraid of calling us anarchists because he’s afraid that his libertarian listeners might actually get excited about us.

I’ve also got all kinds of awesome pictures and such to post about my travels, but don’t have really good access to a computer right now in Germany with which to post. My apologies about that, sorry I’m mostly just reposting a bunch of anarcho news.