Here is a listing of some of the books, pamphlets and bits of propaganda that have caught our eyes and piqued our interest over the last year or so. Due to space we have focused mainly on stuff published by eco-radicals, anarchists, or similar relations and fellow troublemakers. We've generally only covered one-off productions - leaving listings for regular zines and newspapers in the contacts section at the end of this issue. Where possible we have also included details like author, publisher, format, price, ISBN and order details to help you track down a copy of anything that takes your fancy. Happy reading!
Beware: We Never Sleep, We Never Forget!
by Anonymous (Self published, 2000)
A4 paperback/135pp/US$5.00/No ISBN
This is an impressively hefty and radical magazine about economic sabotage to the state and corporate mega-machine. The (wisely) anonymous authors ask us to consider it a philosophical companion and expanded supplement to the classic Ecodefense. This publication is really well done, with excellent tips on all sorts of actions, including those that, as they say, "are not restricted by the limiting and anthropocentric taboo of violence." Also stuffed full of good graphics, poetry, bits of radical criticism and writing, book recommendations and security tips. Kinda reminds me of Live Wild or Die! years ago. I particularly liked 'A Firearms Primer for Anarchists and Punks' and the hilarious 'Cars versus Penguins' spoof advert. For your copy send $10 (including postage - and using a false name and very secure address) to: Graybill, POB 51011, Eugene, OR 97405, USA.
Permaculture: A Beginner's Guide
by Graham Burnett (Land and Liberty, 2000)
A5 pamphlet/60pp/£4.95/No ISBN
As someone once said, "Permaculture is revolution disguised as organic gardening." This is all well and true, but what if you've only ever seen the disguise? Here's where Graham Burnett's handy little booklet comes in. This pamphlet does exactly what it says on the tin; words and pictures guide the reader through the 'ethics' of Permaculture (earth-care, people-care, fair-share) and principles nicked from nature (e.g. minimum effort for maximum effect, everything goes in cycles, and many more). It backs these up with inspiring yet simple examples of everyday applied permaculture.
Yes, permaculture has a lot to say about gardening, but not as a separate activity from life itself. Rather, it's about putting our food, ourselves and our communities in context with each other - positive action to combat environmental catastrophe and social alienation.
So while gardening is still very much in evidence in this book, so are LETS schemes, community orchards, compost bogs, sustainable farming, urban residents schemes - and happy cartoons of people enjoying a bottle of wine and the sunset at their allotment. "No less a 'yield'," so the book says, "than 50lb of carrots or spuds."
The cartoons are Graham's own, and keep the booklet lively, but there are tables of information, too, so it's a useful reference book. The personal touch extends to the 'Further Reading' section, as each title comes with a short review. The list varies from basic gardening books to Road-Raging and Anarchism & Environmental Survival, placing permaculture in an even wider context.
Green Anarchy Primer!
Taking on the Totality
by Untamed Distribution (Self published, 2002)
A5 pamphlet/16pp/No price/No ISBN
A Guide to Living off Natures Bounty in Urban, Rural and Wilderness Areas
by Anonymous (Self Published, 2002)
A5 Pamphlet/29pp/US$1.00/No ISBN
This is a really fucking cool pamphlet from the USA. Starts by explaining why a wild foods diet is the one we are most suited to, and then goes on to show how we can institute elements of this into our lives now, even whilst still immersed in civilisation and industrial food production. The author/s explain that they have no intention of encouraging hunting, or even giving up food cultivation altogether to return to some so-called 'primitive hunter/gatherer ideal'. Rather they advocate a scavenging form of subsistence combining elements of a few ecological and radical ways of procuring food. This zine has an excellent piece on scavenging roadkill, with some good practical advice, including a piece on tanning the hide to make clothing. Also has an article on eating insects and loads of details on plant food collection and preparation. For a copy of this excellent zine send a few US dollars to: Feral Forager, POB 1485, Ashville, NC 28802, USA.
A Communiqué on Tactics and Organisation
To the Black Bloc, from Within the Black Bloc
by ARA and GMAC (Self published, 2002)
A5 Pamphlet/28pp/US$2.50/No ISBN
This pamphlet is a result of conversations between people involved in Anti-Racist Action (ARA) and the Green Mountain Anarchist Collective (GMAC) in the US. It is addressed specifically to the anarchist movement in North America, and so should be read as such, rather than as a 'global anarchist manifesto'. Situating their unapologetic and militant resistance in a historical tradition, the writers start by reflecting upon mass street actions in the few years since the anti-WTO demonstrations in Seattle during November 1999.
After a critique of middle class pacifists they continue, mentioning some basic steps we must take to increase our street capabilities. These break into 5 sections; increased organisation of street fighters, physical training, pre-emptive strikes, preparation for increased repression, and more education and development of theory. Some of the ideas are sound and have been mentioned by many of us here in Britain as a good thing to do; pre-emptive strikes on state forces and other relevant targets, learning more skills, working in affinity groups and issuing clear and militant communiqués to explain our actions.
However, where I disagree with this pamphlet is in its desire to form tactical leadership roles for demonstrations and actions. Leaving aside all 'political' (but very important) consideration about hierarchies, who fulfils these roles, and the construction of middle and upper class power bases within the movement, my opinion is that they just never fucking work properly anyway! The writing veers into the realm of complete fantasy when it starts talking about tactical reserves and the decision-making bodies who can deploy them when and where needed. Still, apart from some things, I do think this is a good pamphlet and well worth a read for our mainland European cousins and us. For a copy send $2.50 (including postage) to: Green Mountain Anarchist Collective, POB 76, Montpelier, VT 05601, USA.
The Battle of Genoa and the Anti-capitalist Movement
by One Off Press (Self published, 2001)
Paperback/141pp/£3.00/ISBN 1 902593 54 5
As the above gives away, this one-off and anonymously published book contains articles relating to the events surrounding the anti-G8 mobilisations in Genoa, Italy in July 2001. More specifically it focuses on the more militant sections of these mobilisations - especially the black bloc and related rioters. Aside from the short introduction, glossary and obligatory useful contacts at the end, it contains sixteen pieces of writing on various aspects of this militant resistance to the G8 and the system it is a part of. These include contributions from UK based radical eco-types, as well as a suprisingly good piece by the anarcho-witch Starhawk. After finishing this book I felt annoyed at myself for not going to Genoa, sad and angry at the injuries and death the police caused there; yet at the same time fucking inspired and hopeful for the future of our resistance. Read this excellent publication, and as the crudely painted banner in the final picture of the book suggests, "...don't only cry for the dead - turn sadness and anger into resistance." Copies are available from AK Press or Active Distribution.
Olive Drab Rebels
Subversion of the US Armed Forces in the Vietnam War
by Antagonism Press (Self published, 2002)
Paperback/37pp/No price/No ISBN
A timely publication, this pamphlet contains an introduction and 2 pieces that are attempts to understand the effect that the Vietnam War had on the American military.
The first article 'Harass the Brass' is the text of a leaflet given out during the large San Francisco naval show attended by thousands of military personnel. It starts by offering a few examples of resistance from within the ranks during the Vietnam War. Beginning in around mid-1969 an entire company of the infantry sat down and refused to fight on the battlefield, whilst later that year a company from the famed 1st Air Cavalry flatly refused orders (live on CBS television!) to advance down a dangerous trail. In the next 12 months this unit alone had notched up an impressive 35 combat refusals. By 1970 the army had some 65,643 deserters, roughly the equivalent of 4 whole infantry divisions.
It goes on to mention the common practise of fragging - a term for killing strict, gung-ho, and aggressive officers. In 1969 a soldier's underground newspaper even openly offered a $10,000 bounty on the head of the high-ranking officer who ordered the ill-fated attack on Hamburger Hill earlier that year. In 1971 the Pentagon's own figures show that there were 425 killings of officers that could be classified as fraggings.
As well as killings, sabotage was a commonly used tactic by dissenters within the ranks. Some of the more impressive actions included one in July 1972 where 2 aircraft carriers were put out of action through sabotage. Also that month a suspicious fire destroyed over $7 million worth of military resources.
After all these inspiring stories the article goes on to offer some historical context for military mutinies, including mentioning a rebellion in the ranks of the Spanish navy that disrupted Franco's Coup in 1936.
Just Leave Us Alone!
A Letter from a Papuan Tribesman
by Wiwa Wewo
(Solidarity South Pacific, 2003)
A5 pamphlet/47pp/£2.40/No ISBN
This is a unique piece of writing. Wiwa Wewo came to Europe from his native West Papua in 1999. West Papua is one of last places on the planet that is almost untouched by our destructive civilisation. But not for much longer; Indonesia's colonisation and the advancement of multinationals to exploit its massive natural resources leaves its tribal people murdered, tortured, and forced to leave their land, its forests ripped down, its mountains decapitated, and its rivers poisoned. Wiwa Wewo was sent by his people, the Lani, to find out exactly what "that Europe thing is that is attacking us." This pamphlet is a version of the letter he wrote back to his people to tell them what he found and what he thought this meant for the Lani and other tribal peoples.
His letter has the unusual clarity of view of someone from the outside, someone who has not been socialised and indoctrinated into our system. He writes with the uncompromising reality of someone whose seen and experienced the horrors and injustices that exist at the edges of our civilisation. He asks "how can I forgive or forget these things?" He came to Europe to see the 'modernity' he is seeing tribal people being pushed towards, and he found that this 'civilisation' was not going to solve the suffering of his people, rather it was causing it. The letter ranges from analytical criticisms of religious organisations, government, aid organisations, corporations, and of western culture itself, to touching accounts of individual atrocities that have happened close to him. It is an interesting and unusual piece of writing that I would recommend to anyone who casts a critical eye over our modern world.
For a copy of this pamphlet send £2.40 (including postage) to: Solidarity South Pacific, c/o SDEF!, Prior House, 6 Tilbury Place, Brighton BN2 2GY, England. To find out more about the situation in West Papua check out: http://www.eco-action.org/ssp/ [the letter is on the site as a PDF file].
The Rise of the West
A Brief Outline of the Last Thousand Years
by John Connor (Green Anarchist Books, 2001)
A5 pamphlet/81pp/£3.50/No ISBN
I just got hold of this, so haven't had a chance to have any more than a cursory look through it. A substantial publication, it's a radical and unapologetically subjective view of the development of the West in the last 1,000 years. Written by the Green Anarchist editor it takes a radical and predictably anarcho-primitivist look at things, with the ultimate aim of understanding the present situation, and how to undo it - for the benefit of ourselves, our friends, and the earth. Get hold of this, it contains a historical analysis that you'll be unlikely to find anywhere else. Also worth looking out is another pamphlet by John Connor, Children Of Guinea: Voodoo, The 1793 Haitian Revolution and After. Either of these can be obtained by sending £4.00 (including postage) to: Green Anarchist Books, BCM 1715, London WC1N 3XX, England.
Big Bad World
Cartoon Molotovs in the Face of Corporate Rule
by Polyp (NI Publications, 2002)
Paperback/96pp/No price/ISBN 0 954 0499 3 4
Polyp's graphic work has been gracing the pages of radical and alternative publications for a while now, and this book is a collection of some of his work. It's an excellent book, with cartoons taking in some of the myriad aspects of this insane and hypocritical world we live in. Particular targets are corporations, American politicians and - my personal favourite - middle class student travellers. Oh yeah, and it all made me laugh a lot too! A sharp and witty book.
Prison Survival - Prisoner Support
by Anonymous (Self published, 2002)
Paperback/32pp/No price/No ISBN
This pamphlet brings together various pieces of writing which are of practical help to those facing prison, as well as those wanting to provide support for friends and comrades inside. The first section has some pieces written by prisoners themselves. These cover topics and have loads of information that would be really useful for people facing prison for the first time. Written by a load of different prisoners they give a really good overview of what it must be like inside the State's gulags.
Que Se Vayan Todos
Argentina's Popular Uprising: Part 1 & 2
By Jennifer Whitney and John Jordan (Self published, 2002)
By Anonymous (Self published, 2002)
With a focus on the Woomera immigration detention centre demonstrations and breakouts in March 2002, this publication is dedicated to all those denied the freedom to move and the freedom to stay where they want in the world. Starting off with a considered and well-written editorial, this newspaper gives a much needed voice to some of those imprisoned by the Australian State as 'illegal immigrants'. It also includes articles on 'Economic Migrants', 'The Politics of Place and Space', as well as snippets from Melbourne Indymedia and an account of a Bangladeshi Australian mistakenly arrested as an escapee.
X Ultra-Militance X
By Anonymous (Self published, 2003)
This is the first issue of a really fucking great new militant animal liberation publication. This zine is radical, uncompromising and has a focus on militant direct action for animal liberation. And it has not just an eye on animal lib, but stretches it's gaze to take in oppression wherever it appears. Plugs the ELF and all the text has a cool anarchist spin to it. Has pieces on 'Direct Action', a catalogue of 'Recent Actions', an article on 'Dumpster Diving' and an interview with some vegan straight edge band (oh well, you can't have everything). As it says 'Read and pass on.' No idea where you can get copies of this from though - maybe just keep your eyes peeled and ask around?
Fighting for Our Lives
By CrimethInc. (Self published, 2002)
Another colourful and poetic production from those CrimethInc folks in the US. Despite limitations I quite liked their first book Days of War, Nights of Love (cool title, hey?) but really didn't like their second, Evasion. Since then I've seen a few of their newspaper type things encouraging us to shoplift, skip, skateboard, and go to free hardcore punk gigs every night, and I'm not so impressed as I was at first. This particular one has okay bits on 'Does Anarchy Work?' and 'Anarchy, not Anarchism!' - and some not so good bits on 'Is this What Democracy Looks like?' and 'The Economics of Anarchy'.
Some people have made a few pretty good criticisms of CrimethInc and some of the ideas and tendencies in their publications, especially with regards to class and race, but there isn't time, space, or inclination to go into them here. So, overall this thing is worth reading, if a little too focused on art and desire for my liking, and it's worth getting hold of as a cure for boring anarcho-lefty publications. Just don't think that by blagging into punk gigs, eating skipped food and hating people with jobs that the revolution's coming any closer... Also recently produced by CrimethInc is another free newspaper Hunter/Gatherer: A Journal of Folklore and Folkwar. For copies of both of these contact: CrimethInc Free Press, PO Box 1963, Olympia, WA 98507, USA. Check the web at: http://www.crimethinc.com/
Violence, Anarchy and the Left
by Anarchist Youth Network (Self published, 2002)
A5 pamphlet/35pp/No price/No ISBN
This pamphlet Violence, Anarchy and the Left fetishises violence in the same way that most pamphlets with the words anarchy and violence placed side by side on the cover do. However, it holds a militant message, a spirit that is defiant and tries to encourage us to transgress beyond the limitations we place on ourselves. As well as this it offers an interesting analysis and criticism of various strains of anarchy - and unsurprisingly the ELF and anarcho-primitivism are praised.
The attack on the CrimethInc "drop-out culture" for giving "white-privileged, middle class kids" revolutionary validation was one of my favourite bits. "Living off the excess of capitalism requires that capitalism continues... it pretends to liberate but really just breeds dependence." The alternative given by this pamphlet is to physically attack the system in solidarity with the oppressed.
The introduction is self-searching, not on a personal level but in an attempt to uncover the problems with anarchy today. A direct link is made with anarchist's unwillingness to break from lefty ideology (either in a dependant or reactionary sense) and the vision and moralising concerning violence in society. "Rather than making the point that violence is often necessary and even appropriate within the struggle, we have allowed the moralising Leftists and Liberals to control the dialogue and impose their own hypocritical standards of violence on us."
by Russell Hoban (Bloomsbury, 2002)
Paperback/235pp/£6.99/ISBN 0 74575 5904 X
Riddley Walker is about what all good fiction is about, it is about everything that matters. The nature of consciousness, the struggle of humanity to extract meaning from existence, a story about stories.
Set in a post apocalyptic Kent where society has regressed to the Stone Age, people cling to the confused memories of a great civilisation that had "boats in the air and picters on the wind". Though the details of the story are specific, it could be set in the ashes of any civilisation. These themes recur throughout the history of collapsed empires. The most important thing about the book is that it is a re-telling of the old story. There are no new stories in the history of human consciousness; just the same one winding their way through peoples lives, through history and the present moment, through fact and fiction, it's all the same. And life is none the worse for it. Riddley Walker's curse and gift is that he is one of the earliest to recognise this, and therefore, by instinct, he is able to read the future, after a fashion. Equally cursed and blessed. Riddley Walker is the proto-scribe, the one who through his actions and accounts begins the map of human consciousness. For better or worse. The Apple, language, original sin, Prometheus stealing fire from the gods, whatever you want to call it, I just call it the Old Story.
The whole book is striving towards clarity, the opaque, phonetic style it is written in demands the reader recognise this. It is a moving account of struggle and vision. This book tells that progress, historical and otherwise, is a myth, a lie told for the benefit of idiots. It also tells that there is no knowing, only the old story, the light and the darkness - and us. You can order, and then steal, a copy from any bookshop.
Desire for Change
Women on the Frontline of Global Resistance
By various PGA Women (Self published, 2002)
A4 magazine/64pp/£3.00/No ISBN
Restructuring and Resistance
Diverse Voices of Struggle in Western Europe
Edited by Kolya Abramsky (Self published, 2001)
Paperback/566pp/No price/No ISBN
This book, as the title suggests, offers an insight into the economic and political restructuring of Europe and the resistance to the construction of the European Union (EU). True to the book's claim the voices expressed within it are indeed diverse - the book contains 77 chapters, most of which have different authors. The introduction explains, "As far as possible the chapters are not coming from outside academic researchers, but from grassroots political activists involved in particular struggles in different social sectors, and in different countries across Europe."
Starting off with an exploration of the EU's historical development the book ambitiously goes on to explore the breakdown of the 'social consensus', the relaxation of trade barriers and the strengthening of border and immigration controls, privatisation and casualisation across Europe. Additionally there are chapters on the increasing industrialisation of Europe's 'periphery', EU expansion, ecological devastation and the emergence of the global anti-capitalist movement.
Cracks in the Empire
Chronicling Resistance to the Industrial System
by Anonymous (Self published, 2000)
A4 paperback/263pp/No price/No ISBN
I love this! Originally conceived as a radical alternative to the Earth First! Journal, this is a very inspiring and impressively huge publication produced by a small group of biocentric anarchists from a "hidden forest enclave in the Siskiyou mountain range of Southern Oregon" in the USA. It's very militant, with an anti-civilisation, class struggle and insurrectionary perspective. It meshes the best of militant eco-defence with a healthy amount of practical information, news, intelligent radical theory and loads of good graphics. One of the best publications I've ever seen, a pity there's no details on how to get hold of a copy. Hope it continues.
Some People Push Back
On the Justice of Roosting Chickens
by Ward Churchill (Re-pressed, 2002)
Paperback/16pp/No price/No ISBN
Written swiftly after the attacks on the World Trade Center (WTC) and the Pentagon on 11th September 2001, and taking its title from a Malcolm X quote about the assassination of John F Kennedy in 1963, this is a really fucking excellent essay. From commenting on those attacks, the Native American and radical academic and activist Ward Churchill effectively constructs the case that the USA pretty much had them coming. From the genocidal extermination of Native Americans, through the US sanctioned murder of around 40,000, mainly civilians, during their secret 'Phoenix Program' in the Vietnam War, to the recent bombing of the Iraqi people, he lists a long and obscene list of the US's murderous interventions in world affairs.
He concludes with the thought that 9/11 may not have been the ghosts of the Iraqi children, whose deaths the USA has been responsible for, coming to exact their revenge; but it may have been some of their butchered Palestinian cousins, or any of the 3.2 million Indo-Chinese who died as a result of the genocidal assault on South East Asia by the US. Or any of the hundreds of thousands of people burnt to death at Hiroshima or Nagasaki or Dresden. Or those who died along the Cherokee Trail of Tears, or maybe those murdered by smallpox at Fort Clark in 1836. Or even the Native Americans whose severed heads were kicked along the streets of the site where the WTC once stood. As he says, "the list is too long, too awful. No matter what its eventual fate, America will have gotten off very, very cheap. The full measure of guilt can never be fully balanced or atoned for." Fuck the USA. Also included is the excellent essay 'AMERICA Reaps What it Sows!' by Jalil A Muntaqim, a Black Liberation Army prisoner of war.
The Calendar Riots
By Anonymous (Self published, 2001)
The original idea behind this project was to uncover a reason for celebrating every day of the year - an admirable aim if ever there was one. With the best subtitle ever of "a work entirely calculated to excite unbridled licence in grown persons and promote immorality in the young ones of both sexes; decorated with numerous copper plates curiously drawn and elegantly engraved" this is a re-print of one of my favourite publications of all time. A date book and usable diary (for any year - you fill in the dates yourself) on every day of the year you get details of riotous and insurrectionary moments from the world over, as well as some of the more esoteric happenings of the world. Did you know that on New Years Day 1979 there was a two-day rain of seeds on Southampton? Or that on 5th April 1910 kissing was banned on French railways for causing too many delays? Copies are free, but send 5 second class stamps per copy for postage (and a donation to help with future projects would be nice) to: Billiard Room, Leam, Grindleford, Derbyshire S32 2HL, England.
By Jim Tindle, Oliver Tate and Laura Joy Heath (Self published, 2002)
A5 Pamphlet/24pp/No price/No ISBN
i shall take leave of my friends
- from Throwing Lights.
Bash the Fash
Anti-Fascist Recollections 1984 - 1993
by K Bullstreet (Kate Sharpley Library, 2001)
A5 pamphlet/36pp/£2.00/ISBN 1 893605 87 0
Bash the Fash is a personal account of one anti-fascist's involvement with Anti-Fascist Action (AFA). When the Socialist Workers' Party (SWP) supported Anti-Nazi League (ANL) folded in 1982 because "fascism was no longer a threat" the main force of opposition to the extreme right in the UK during the 1980s and 90s became AFA. The book lists a dozen or so incidents which give a good flavour of what militant anti-fascism has involved in this period.
There are victories and there are frustrations; the struggle against the police is the same in anti-fascism as with many other struggles, here the police role is protecting the fascists from the "frank exchange of views" they might otherwise receive. The victories and tales of daring are largely told in a light-hearted manner, although, in my (limited) experience the humour is often as a result of fear rather than delight in attacking fascists.
There are lessons in these few short pages, for example, the British National Party (BNP) have moved towards 'Community Politics' - and this has been mirrored by a shift in the tactics used to oppose them. Similarly with any other struggle, you cannot rely upon one set of tactics forever (not least because you're easier to catch if you're predictable!) and evolution of thoughts, ideas and tactics is a necessary driver for any victory.
As mentioned in the conclusion, one of the most important things about this pamphlet is that it is about reclaiming history, writing it ourselves to keep it true. It is useful for the 'small fish' such as myself to chronicle these events - warts and all - in case nobody does it and then the history would be lost, or distorted by right-wingers or liberals.
SIC - The Magazine of No Value
By Chumbawamba (Book Press, 2002)
Paperback/144pp/£4.95/ISBN 1 900672 01 4
Peace de Résistance
By SchNEWS (Self published, 2003)
Paperback/304pp/£8.00/ISBN 0 9529748 7 8
This is the most recent edition of the sort of yearly compilation of the past 50 issues of the radical and free weekly newsletter SchNEWS. This, their eighth book, contains issues 351 through to 401, as well as a whole host of articles, cartoons, loads of anti-war news, reports from global days of action, loads of photos and a comprehensive contacts section to finish it all off. Packed full of radical and little heard of news from all over the world, as well as a reference to happenings from the last year contained in all the SchNEWS issues, this is a really good book for general perusal (as well as an important resource) for anyone. For a copy send £9.70 (including postage) to: SchNEWS, PO Box 2600, Brighton BN2 OEF, England.
Dongarusalem and Other Poems
by Graeme Lewis and illustrated by Matt Tweed (Wooden Books, 1999)
Hardback/58pp/£6.99/ISBN 0 902418 13 1
Since my appreciation of poetry is not exactly well developed I'm probably not the best person to review this. But anyway, that aside, this little book is comprised of poems by Graeme interspersed with drawings by Space Goat musician Matt Tweed. Graeme (AKA Quobollox) is almost legendary within the radical eco-action scene. After breaking an injunction at Twyford Down he was arrested and taken to court. Having worn them for months for just this occasion, he stripped off in court to reveal an orange basque and suspenders, all this just after a Conservative MP had been found dead, naked apart from suspenders and an orange soaked in amyl nitrate in his mouth. Anyway, mad stories aside, despite my general ambivalence for poetry even I actually liked some of the stuff in here. I mean, how many other poetry books contain odes to the "Organic Cider Goddess" whose "sweet breasts drip the medicine of orchards plenty"?
Call Centre. Inquiry. Communism.
by Kolinko (Self published, 2002)
Paperback/208pp/No price/No ISBN
Could call centres be the 'new factories'? New centres of proletarian struggle, with their concentration of many workers under one roof, at a time when the old industrial working class, so combative a few decades ago, has been restructured and neutralised? The answer to this question, to judge from this book, seems to be a qualified 'no'.
The book details a workers' inquiry project over three years by the German Ruhr based group Kolinko. Not that our German comrades see themselves as sociologists, "That's how we perceive our inquiry and intervention in call centres in the last three years: as a revolutionary project in a specific sector that tries to understand and criticize the totality of capitalist relations... Inquiry means understanding the context between the daily cooperation of the workers and their forms of struggle and finding the new (communist) sociality within."
Using questionnaires to stimulate discussion and leaflets to agitate, the workerist and autonomist influenced militants "threw themselves" into "the sweatshops of the New Economy." But how does this differ from the old days when the Leninists went into the car factories to bring consciousness to the class? A painful and self-conscious realisation of this dilemma pervades the book, as Kolinko are at pains to distance themselves from any type of vanguardism, criticise any type of representation, and stress that they are for "workers' self-activity". Yet ultimately they do seem to aspire to the role of revolutionary educators; "We have to underline the fact that the conflicts and struggles take place on the basis of class relations, and show where the chance for the abolition of these relations and the potential for liberation lies."
Tales from an Allotment Shed
By Warren Carter (Moulsecoomb Forest Garden and Wildlife Project, 2001)
Paperback/52pp/No price/ISBN 0 9529748 5 1
This book is largely an account of local people's personal recollections of allotments in the Moulsecoomb and Hollingdean areas of Brighton from the 1930s. The book describes a time of scrumping apples and being cuffed round the ear by the local bobby. A time when you could happily leave your tools in the shed because there was "a code of honour that you wouldn't thieve off anyone's allotment". People didn't even feel the need to protect wildlife "because there was so much of it." The allotments were, however, covered in housing estates which one resident commented made her "really angry because they were taking away one of our playgrounds."
Seedy business concludes with a description of the Moulsecoomb Forest Garden and Wildlife Project. This is one attempt to recapture some sense of community and green land in an otherwise alienated concrete and mono-agricultural desert. Since autumn 1994 the project has transformed a site that had been derelict for 20 years into a wildlife and plant haven. The project also grows 'outlawed' vegetables that aren't put on the National Seed list, in a battle against the genetic erosion that has seen us loose 97 percent of the vegetable varieties available 100 years ago.
Murdering the Dead
Amadeo Bordiga on Capitalism and Other Disasters
by Antagonism Press (Self published, 2001)
With titles like 'Weird and Wonderful Tales of Modern Social Decadence' and 'Doctrine of the Body Possessed by the Devil' this pamphlet is worth reading for the titles alone. But why bother with 50 year old texts by an obscure Italian dissident? Bordiga's polemics explore the inner logic of capitalist production to show that the disastrous consequences of catastrophes such as floods, earthquakes, shipping and mine 'accidents' (Bordiga even anticipates nuclear catastrophes!) are not only exacerbated, but produced by capital in "its movement as value perpetually set in motion so as to multiply itself". This is not a question of mismanagement or the greed of the individual capitalist, or merely of cost cutting at the expense of safety to maximise profits. Bordiga uses Marxist categories of constant and variable capital, dead (i.e. past) and living labour, to show that "Modern capital has a great interest in letting the products of dead labour fall into disuse as soon as possible so as to impose their renewal with living labour, the only type from which it 'sucks' profit. That is why it is in seventh heaven when war breaks out and that is why it is so well trained for the practice of disasters".
Bordiga's relentless critique of Progress, of civilisation, capitalist science, technology and industrialism and the division of labour, still relevant today, is coupled with an attack on those who would appeal to the state to sort out the mess, for they misunderstand the fundamental role of the state in the reproduction of capitalist social relations.
In a similar vein the authors of the introduction attack Naomi Klein for her reformism and criticise the "anti-capitalist movement" for its unwillingness to go beyond a superficial, negative critique of capitalism. This is relevant for the radical ecology or direct action scene in its battle against the 'forces of darkness'. Precisely because it is living labour which forms the life blood of capital, responsible for catastrophes and environmental destruction, it is the working class in its contradictory and antagonistic role within and against capital, which holds the key to the abolition of capitalist social relations (and thus the improvement of the conditions of all life on the planet) through its own self-abolition. The only movement which can save the planet must be a social movement, a class movement.
Murdering the Dead, then, can be read for its insights into the relationship between capitalism and disasters and environmental destruction, but also as a useful introduction to Marx's critique of political economy. Haven't got the time or inclination to read Capital? Bordiga offers you a short cut by picking out some of the key passages!
TACT: Temporary Anti-Capitalist Teams
by TACT (Self Published, 2002)
A5 Pamphlet/12pp/20p/No ISBN
TACT is an acronym looking for a meaning and not finding one. The authors lament the "fragmented nature of our struggles" and hope for "greater coherence" within the anti-capitalist movement through the adoption of Temporary Anti-Capitalist Teams (TACTs). At best this is simply a call to work in affinity groups under a new brand name. The concept of these 'teams', however, is so amorphous it lacks any meaning. Surely the London types would have realised by now that 'declaring' yourselves to be a silly acronym (WOMBLES) doesn't make your actions anymore effective. TACT 1, as an example to us all, declare that one of their main activities so far has been "building and running their website" - enough said.
Broadening the Struggle & Winning the Media War
by Nicholas Henck (Kersplebedeb, 2002)
A5 Pamphlet/51pp/No price/ISBN 096895030 2
This pamphlet describes Marcos successful use of the international media. Unfortunately the author takes this at face value, and he describes the success of the 'public relations campaign' in terms of column inches, and the reason for this success as being Marcos's 'silver tongue'. The real success, however, is the international support and attention the Zapatistas have received as a result of the media attention. This support has ensured that their struggle has not been isolated and therefore more difficult for the Mexican government to suppress.
The success of the media campaign, in particular Marcos' communiqués, could also be due to their content rather than their poetic value. The eloquent call for the violent destruction of the state may not have been as palatable to the Western media as call for indigenous rights. Marcos is intentional in his appeal to be "everything to everyone", to avoid any ideological political position and to be compromising in his demands. Along with their reluctance to use military force, this makes the Zapatista struggle particularly exportable to Mexican civil society and Western liberals. This can either be interpreted as a reformist indigenous movement using militant posturing to court positive media attention or a revolutionary indigenous army tactically using poetic declarations to obscure their actual intentions. Despite its limited evaluation of the 'media war' this pamphlet does highlight the importance of learning when to attack, when to retreat, as well as when to speak and when to be silent. Important lessons for us all.
by Feral Faun (Elephant Editions, 2001)
Paperback/110pp/No price/No ISBN
This book is a collection of Feral Faun's writings spanning the last decade. Feral Faun has been a contributor to the radical anti-authoritarian magazine Anarchy - A Journal of Desire Armed for many years, and indeed most of these essays appeared there first. This collection is timely in that the author no longer writes under the name 'Feral Faun' and has moved towards a more insurrectionist point of view - although still just as critical of civilisation and domestication.
For me the highlights in this book are the essays 'Social Transformation - Or the Abolition of Society' and 'The Ideology of Victimisation'. Also included is 'The Anarchist Subculture', a sharp critique of the political ghetto and those that inhabit it, which was reproduced as a pamphlet for the 2000 Earth First! Winter Moot by Re-pressed Distribution. The title essay 'Feral Revolution' was reproduced in the last issue of Do or Die. For a copy (and a list of other insurrectionist pamphlets) contact: Elephant Editions, BM Elephant, London WC1N 3XX, England.
The Pink Pauper
by AnarchQuist (Self published, 2001)
How Globalise Resistance would Hijack revolt
by SchNEWS (Self published, 2001)
A5 Pamphlet/19pp/50p/No ISBN
Written in the post-June 18th and Seattle times when the left were desperate to clamber onto the global resistance bandwagon, this is a publication to lay bare the differences between those in the authoritarian left (especially the Socialist Workers Party - SWP) and our more eco-anarcho direct action scene. Does an okay job at this, although misses the main point about them being statists and us being anti-statists, which to my mind is surely the big sticking point, rather than them just being 'boring lefties', or into demonstrations rather than direct action. Anyway, this is nonetheless well worth a read if you're not sure what's wrong with the SWP. Copies of it can be obtained by sending 2 first class stamps and an SAE to: SchNEWS, PO Box 2600, Brighton BN2 OEF, England. It is also available on the web at: http://www.schnews.org.uk/
A Songbook of Radical Campfire Songs
Edited by the Hootenanny Collective (Self published, 2001)
Campfire song and music was a strong part of the anti-roads camp culture here in Britain, and from this book it seems as if it is in North America too. Packed full of wild rampaging lyrics and music, and with songs lauding the ELF, dumpster diving and eco-direct action, it even inspired me, a repressed and musically challenged English boy, to want to be a banjo wielding campfire rabble-rouser. You can get hold of a copy of this rad songbook (dude) by sending $14 (or $9 for a smaller rambler's edition) to: Hootenanny Collective, c/o EF! Journal, POB 3023, Tucson, AZ 85702, USA.