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Polemics for the People

By Jeff Shantz
Upping the Anti

The Red Army Faction (RAF) is one of the last half-century’s most talked about and least understood radical left groups. An anarchist colleague, upon hearing that I was reviewing this book, felt compelled to ask why, as an anarchist, I would bother to spend any time reading about – much less reviewing the work of – an irrelevant group of authoritarian leftists like the RAF. I replied that much of the terms of debate surrounding the RAF are based on mythology, rumour, misrepresentation, and propaganda. For the most part, the voices of the RAF themselves have been largely absent from the debates and discussions of their legacy in English-speaking contexts. The reason, as the editors of Projectiles for the People point out, is simple: their political position papers, commentaries, and debates have been largely unavailable within English-speaking Left circles.

Thus, those with an interest in the RAF and the phenomenon of anti-capitalist armed struggle movements in the West can be thankful for the labour put into the preparation and distribution of the present volume. The editors-translators went through every available document from the RAF in German, providing new translations of the texts. In making direct translations from the German, many of the documents were reviewed five to six times between the editors. Overall the work presents around 500 pages of new translations. The end result is a book that includes, to the best of the editors’ knowledge, every major political document issued by the RAF between 1968 and 1977. Their planned second volume will include every document from 1978 to 1998.

Discussion of the RAF has tended to be polarized between two rather starkly opposed positions. On the one hand, there are those who see the RAF as heroic urban guerrillas trying to initiate a spark of revolution in a Cold War context of supposed apathy, indifference, and inaction – particularly among a working class exemplified by a conservative, bureaucratic union movement bent on compromise with capitalism and benefiting from imperialism. This is a romantic position posing the RAF as the war brought
home, the burning of revolutionary desire “in the belly of the beast.” On the other hand, there are both communists and anarchists who view the RAF largely as irresponsible adventurists. The group is critiqued as “middle class” and privileged youth acting out “revolutionary” fantasies detached from any real movements or support from the working class. In this view, the cost of such carelessness was the state’s enactment of repression, punishment, and violence against the working class, poor, and oppressed – with disastrous consequences for working class and radical politics.

Interestingly, both of these approaches operate within a shared framework. Each suggests a detached and decontextualized RAF, operating on its own with little or no connection to specific communities or social movements. Similarly, they both fail to situate the emergence and development of the RAF within uniquely detailed political histories, traditions, and debates. Projectiles for the People goes some distance in providing this kind of context by including all of the theoretical manifestoes and communiqués that
accompanied actions and letters released by the RAF. Unfortunately, it omits most of the thousands of letters written by imprisoned RAF members and the hundreds of court statements made by RAF defendants. Nevertheless, it remains a comprehensive work, and it is significant in that it allows the group to speak in their own words and presents their own documents directly.

The RAF was formed in 1970 when a core of West German activists went underground to carry out armed actions against targets of West German capital and US imperialism. Over the course of almost thirty years their varied membership engaged in a range of often stunning actions, including assassinations and bombings against a variety of ruling class targets. Within a few years, as the preface to this volume points out, almost all of the original members were either dead or captured, a lesson on the obstacles facing such groupings given the deployment of state resources to stop them. Still, new members came forward to extend RAF activities while the political prisoners continued to serve as an embarrassment to the West German state, and an inspiration to radicals in West Germany and beyond.

This collection is not simply a documentary of the West German revolutionary Left at a particular point in the Cold War 1970s. It is more important for the insights it provides into the challenges, obstacles, and opportunities of waging armed struggle within the context of a wealthy, well-resourced, Western capitalist
state. In this, the experiences and activities of the RAF are unique in the lessons they might teach organizers in Western capitalist milieus. In our own context, it is likely that future conditions of radical social change, and certainly revolutionary struggles, will more closely approximate those engaged by the RAF in 1970s West Germany than the much more influential examples of Russia in 1917 or Spain in 1936. In this sense, the RAF experience might be a more appropriate focal point for contemporary revolutionary assessment than the much more popular and obsessively examined Russian and Spanish examples.

The RAF made a number of decisive mistakes and left many lessons behind; a thoughtful reading of these experiences can offer some insight to revolutionary Left struggles in the contemporary period. Among the perspectives the RAF presents is the critique of the false and defeating dichotomy between pacifism and violence and the belief among some activists that radical social change can occur purely through non-revolutionary community work. As the RAF argued:

If the red army is not simultaneously built, then all conflict, all political work carried out in the factories ... and in the courtrooms is reduced to reformism; which is to say, you end up with improved discipline, improved intimidation, and improved exploitation. That destroys the people, rather than destroying what destroys the people (81).

For the RAF, the movement to build a legitimate fighting force must coincide with the movements in the communities. Those movements alone can only go so far: “If we don’t build the red army, the pigs can do what they want, the pigs can continue to incarcerate, lay off, impound, seize children, intimidate, shoot, and dominate” (81). Profound social transformation will not happen “peacefully” and the state, confronted by growing social movements, will not simply wither away or collapse of its own contradiction. The RAF states:

We are not saying that the organization of armed resistance groups can replace the legal proletarian organizations, that isolated actions can replace the class struggle, or that armed struggle can replace political work in the factories or neighbourhoods. We are arguing that armed struggle is a necessary precondition for the latter to succeed and progress... as without it there can be no anti-imperialist struggle in the metropole (86-87).

Thus, the urban guerrilla struggle “is based on the analysis that by the time the conditions are right for armed struggle, it will be too late to prepare for it” (97).

The RAF were also scathing in their criticisms of the overly academic tendencies of the Left and the insular self-referential perspective of many student-based socialisms. In their view: “The decision of leftists and socialists, the student movements’ authority figures, to turn to the study of scientific socialism and transform the critique of political economy into a self-criticism of the student movement, was at the same time a decision to retreat into the classroom” (92).

The shift from organizing to publishing and the preference of some members of the Left for inaccessible writing and theoretical obscurity are also targeted by the RAF as failings of the so-called radical groups. In their words: “The paper output of these organizations shows their practice to be mainly a contest between intellectuals for the best Marx review before an imaginary jury, which couldn’t possibly be the working class, as the language used excludes their participation” (93). These are relevant and timely criticisms in the current period, given the retreat of some of the anti-globalization movement into intellectual pursuits, the privileging of obscure theoretical language within recent tendencies such as “post-anarchism” (which seeks a convergence of anarchism and post-structural philosophy) and the growing numbers of academics finding their intellectual niche in anarchism and anarchists who are
active primarily as academics.

At the same time, various commentators note the group’s failure to address the needs and desires of the working classes in Cold War Germany (or anywhere else for that matter). This failure raises questions about the RAF activities but even more about the capacity of armed struggle to speak to the working class in liberal capitalist democracies. Certainly this is a relevant question given the state-sponsored panic of the Age of Terror and the capacity of states and capital to stoke and mobilize working class fears.

If armed struggle is itself a way to communicate with the working class – an argument presented by various actors, from nineteenth century anarchist proponents of “propaganda of the deed” to the RAF and the Weather Underground – why are these tactics regularly dismissed? Were the RAF and their armed struggle serious responses to the failure of social democracy, trade unionism and pacifist protest, as they viewed themselves to be, or were they yet another sign of failure, ultimately as futile and dispiriting as the other tired options?

This collection provides little evidence that the RAF had much connection or appeal to the mainstream working class. Indeed as the editors suggest, they were “the object of mass hatred” and the West German working class seemed to view the RAF as a sign that people were “losing their moral compass” (xxi). The editors note that the RAF did not merge with the anarchist urban guerrillas who were also active in West Germany during the period partly because the more proletarian anarchists viewed the RAF as pretentious “middle-class” students.

Nevertheless, a reading of these texts suggests that the primary audience of the RAF was young people. The writings are, in pitch and tone, geared towards disaffected youth in alienating and oppressive conditions. But the RAF seemed to have little understanding of the industrial working classes and their aspirations in the here and now of capitalism. Indeed, in various places the RAF are contemptuous and dismissive of their “standard of living” and many of the things for which good numbers of workers strive (79).

It seems apparent that the RAF did not enjoy wider appeal because their writings lack a vision of a better world. There are profound expressions of contempt and disgust with capitalism-imperialism and oppression. Yet this is a largely negative impulse. There is little positive expression here. They express reactive rage, righteous to be sure, but they never quite rise above the level of rejection and anger. More often the tone is one of frustration and futility, even desperation. 

There is little in these often stilted communiqués that could be called inspiring. If nothing else, the collection makes it easy to see how the RAF missed the mark in calling working people to action. Tellingly, the most poetic and energetic piece is the courtroom statement by Thorwald Proll who was part of the group’s initial core but who left after about a year.

Curiously, the editors chose not to include “Regarding the Armed Struggle in Western Europe” (1971) by Horst Mahler, the only member publicly expelled from the group. The editors’ unsatisfactory reason is that the group rejected the text. In my view this choice was a great mistake, serving to flatten the history and narrow the debate and discussion. In fact, more examples of internal debate and disagreement, alternative perspectives and strategies from within the group would have enlivened the presentation here, which presents final statements almost as monuments or souvenirs without much of a sense of the vigorous and heated process through which they emerged.

The lack of debate, responses, and criticisms from other significant left interlocutors leaves the collection, at times, a bit sterile, with the same sense as certain histories of Stalinist sects. It also feels clinically removed from the debates, discussions, and movements with which the RAF engaged. The inclusion of some contextualizing debate would have been useful and contributed to the overall readability of the text.

The presentation leaves a feeling of uncritical support bordering on promotion at times. The editors claim not to want to “muddy the waters” by condemning or praising the RAF along the way, and that is a fair position to take. Yet there is much praise throughout the book, and the collection is produced clearly from a perspective of adulation, with very little condemnation.

Rather questionable positions are presented in the best possible light. The place of armed struggle in “baiting its ruling class into dictatorial reactions” is presented as a positive contribution of the RAF (xxi). Yet for critics, this is exactly, and obviously, the sort of adventurist irresponsibility that harmed the working class and the broader left as the state took the opportunity gladly to enact violence against opponents of capital with little distinction for their political affiliation. The RAF’s guerrilla strategy was vulnerable to manipulation by the state. The state and the far right carried out criminal activities and blamed the guerrillas. This happened not only in Germany, but in France, Turkey, and Italy. It also provided the state with a convenient excuse to enact repressive legislation against social movements. Activities of the guerrilla, detached from broader social movements and organizations of the working class and oppressed, served to breed distrust among the general population towards the left as a whole.

Overall, the collection fails to adequately address the more questionable side of the RAF, including some of its members’ connections to neo-fascism in West Germany (see Horst Mahler and Francois Genoud) and to the East German secret police, the Stasi. With regard to the latter question, the editors say only that until the later years “the RAF-Stasi connection seems to have been casual if not ephemeral” (59). The collection does not examine the extent to which the RAF chose targets or formulated ideology to please foreign state patrons.

Still, much recommends this expansive volume. At the outset of this review, I suggested that for some the RAF are little more than yuppie fakers, or worse, terrorists who provided the German state a freebie for initiating repressive policies that it was already looking to introduce. For others they stand as a beacon of hope in a grim age, an expression of revolutionary desire, and the refusal to concede. Overcoming this dualistic approach, based as it is around narrow and limited caricatures of the RAF, is a necessity if we are to develop a productive and helpful engagement with recent histories of struggle, organization, and resistance. This collection provides a starting point to do just that. ★ 

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Armed Struggle, the RAF, and Projectiles for the People

An Interview with Andre Moncourt and J. Smith

By Gabriel Kuhn
German Guerilla

Gabriel Kuhn has interviewed André Moncourt and J. Smith, the editors of Projectiles for the People, about their book, the RAF, and armed struggle. The complete interview is reposted here; a slightly abbreviated German version of this interview will appear in the German journal Arranca!, No. 41, December 2009. A Swedish version is up on the activist website Motkraft.

1) The amount of work that has gone into this project must have been enormous. What motivated you to do this?

André:  Several things, really.  For myself, no small part was the fact that I lived in Germany for various periods of time during the 80s, and as a result developed friendships and working relationships with people in both anti-imp and autonomist circles, giving me access to documentation and to a variety of points of view.  The North American left has always had a keen interest in German far left politics, reflected by the overwhelming amount of space devoted to the RAF, the RZ and Rote Zora in the two magazines dedicated to urban guerrilla politics that were published in Canada from the early1980s to the mid-90s, Resistance and Arm the Spirit.  Armed with my originally quite rudimentary German and a big ass dictionary, I became one of the translators for both of those projects, producing some fairly low quality translations of RAF texts, a number of which, for better or worse, have found their way onto the excellent website Ronald Augustin maintains.  When the idea of collecting the texts into a book arose, it became obvious that the translations needed to be seriously reviewed and reworked, and as I was responsible for many of the problems existing in the original translations, the task of fixing them logically fell to me.  There is much about the RAF that makes it unique and much that makes it archetypical of the western guerrilla in the First World during the Cold War, and both of these aspects provide lessons best learned by firsthand experience with the RAF’s unparalleled written output.

J. Smith: Initially i expected my contribution to this project to be quite minor: looking over some translations and writing some brief introductory texts to help contextualize them – i had hopes of perhaps finding some movement history of Germany and summarizing the key facts. But as i soon discovered, no such movement history existed (at least in English), and so in order to properly explain the RAF, we had to do the research ourselves.

We really had no choice, because the RAF’s story is so deeply enmeshed in the history of the West German revolutionary left, and its own intellectual output is so thick with references to the politics of its time and location, and also to the ongoing communist project, that to give the group and its ideas the respect they deserve requires a through explanation of what was going on at the time.

In retrospect i suspect that when not due to outright bad faith, many of the slanders directed at the RAF from the left – that the guerillas were “crazy” or “rigid” or “authoritarian”, or that their texts simply “do not make sense” – may stem from an ignorance of their political and intellectual context. The RAF’s project was based on positions that had emerged from the New Left, not only in West Germany but internationally. Their strategy was likewise predicated on the existence of a revolutionary left and international circumstances that no longer exist in anything like the same form. If one fails to grasp this, then their actions and ideas certainly must seem incomprehensible.

2) André, you mentioned that the North American left has always had a keen interest in German far left politics. Can you name the reasons for this?

André:  Some of the reasons are, I think ideological, and some are practical.  Broadly speaking, one can divide armed struggle in the First World during the period to which we are referring to into four tendencies:  national liberation struggles, such the IRA or the ETA; struggles against fascist or extremely authoritarian regimes, such as those waged by the PCE(r)/GRAPO or FP25; working class based struggles, such as the BR; anti-imperialist or social revolutionary armed actions within the metropole, such as those carried out respectively by the RAF and the RZ in Germany.

In Canada, outside of Québec (and, unfortunately, space doesn’t permit us to discuss the relatively complex national liberation politics of Québec, or its armed expression in the 60s, the Front de liberation du Québec), the first three forms of struggle had limited resonance.  National liberation outside of Québec had no application, and was often perceived negatively, even on the left.  Pierre Elliot Trudeau’s Liberal government, which ruled the country from 1968 until 1984, with the exception of one brief 10-month period, was in fact, in bourgeois terms, and extremely liberal government, particularly with regards to individual rights.  While there was a large unionized and fairly militant working class in Canada in those years, left-wing political activity in that milieu was restricted to what Germans would call K-group activity, while the unions supported the New Democratic Party, Canada’s social democratic party.

The far left in Canada at the time was, as was the case in West Germany, rooted in the countercultural New Left.  As such, the kind of activity that the West German guerrilla groups engaged in caught the attention of Canadian activists in a way that BR actions, for example, didn’t.  Although the book we are discussing is about the RAF, it was not the RAF that drew the greatest attention – ill-informed Canadian activists often wrote the RAF off as Stalinists with guns.  It was the Revolutionary Cells and Rote Zora that intrigued Canadian activists the most.  The decentralized structure, the often low-level nature of the actions and the populist rhetoric resonated with many young Canadian activists, most of whom fell somewhere on a spectrum running from countercultural anarchism to non-Leninist Marxists, like myself, at the time.  We all considered ourselves part of a broad “anti-authoritarian” movement.  Rote Zora added a quality of militant feminism to the mix that not only broadened the nature of the debate that existed at the time, but also helped bridge some gaps that otherwise would, I believe, have posed greater difficulties.

This element was practically reinforced by the fact that a number of young Canadian activists lived in Germany for extended periods of time in the late 70s and 80s, developing personal, as well as political, ties with their German counterparts in the anti-imp and autonomist movements, facilitating the flow of information.

3) Last year, Germany witnessed numerous events commemorating the "Deutsche Herbst 1977." Most of the events were of dubious political nature. Is it mere coincidence that your volume appears now or did the 30-year commemorations have anything to do with this?

André:  We first started talking about doing this book in 2004, and at the time, we were only thinking of one volume.  I certainly didn’t see it growing into the four-year project it did.  I’m not sure that had I known what I was getting into, I would have done so.  First, as a result primarily of the excellent ID-Verlag book Rote Armee Fraktion:Texte und Materialien zur Geschichte der RAF( and the International Association of Labour History Institutions’ website devoted to the RAF, on which former RAF member Ronald Augustin works (, it soon became clear that many more documents than had previously been translated existed.  Short introductions that I had prepared for the various sections of the book were also clearly inadequate, so J. set about researching and expanding upon these sections.  The end result was a history of the RAF that could have stood as a short book in its own right.  It is this work that turns the book from a collection of interesting documents into a compelling history that lets the reader see each of these documents in its historical context, something that is of course absolutely vital to really understanding them.  If anything, the 30th anniversary of the “Deutschen Herbst” was useful to us because of the information we could draw from various newspaper and magazine articles published at the time, particularly interviews with former RAF members.

4) I think there exists a general scepticism among German-speaking radicals when it comes to outside analyses of "their" history. At the same time, outside perspectives can often prove very enlightening. What can be learned from the RAF experience, in your opinion?

André:  As is the case with any such organization, there are both positive and negative lessons.  The two years between the RAF’s formation and its 1972 May Offensive spent constructing its infrastructure and clarifying its ideological basis allowed it to survive the decimation of the organization and the arrest of its core leadership following that offensive.  This painstaking work laid the basis that would allow the organization to reconstruct itself from the base up at least 4 times during its 30-year history.  The RAF prisoners showed people how, even in isolation, trial statements and hunger strikes could be used as survival mechanisms and organizing tools.  And, of course, the RAF proved that a small group of organized and committed individuals could deal substantial blows to the state apparatus and its personnel.

On the downside, the RAF’s decision to go completely underground, as opposed to the modus operandi of the RZ’s domestic wing, for example, left the organization isolated and cut off from the day-to-day developments in society and on the militant left, leading to a certain disconnect that could take the organization down the wrong road – the Pimental killing, which we will examine in Volume 2, is perhaps the most obvious example.  The RAF’s decision from the 1972 arrests until the “Deutschen Herbst” to orient its rhetoric around a more-or-less traditional anti-imperialist line, while orienting all of its actions at gaining the release of the prisoners, is understandable, but arguably an error.

J Smith: Throughout the imperialist west, the 1970s saw the emergence of different armed organizations on the left. In the United States, there are still dozens of men and women behind bars for the parts they played in this experiment. But the rhyme and reason behind the different guerilla groups, not to mention their eventual trajectories, varied not only within each country, but also certainly between countries. Learning about how things played out in a different society, where comrades faced different challenges and opted for different paths, helps reveal what was exceptional and what was perhaps unavoidable here.

Which is a fairly vague way of saying that the RAF’s story, while certainly unique, can be helpful in thinking about the history of revolutionary struggle in other countries, too. Not only in the obvious ways – the parallels between the psychological warfare the movement faced in the FRG and the COINTELPRO dirty tricks in the United States, or the development of isolation-torture on both sides of the Atlantic – but also in terms of the issues grappled with:  how a small armed group can intervene in struggles, how it can relate to the aboveground left, the challenges of operating in a society where much of the proletariat has become a labor aristocracy, adopting the ideology of the petit bourgeoisie… these realities have never been specific to any one imperialist society. So we can certainly learn a lot from how our comrades in different countries have dealt with these questions.

5) Is it possible to draw any parallels to armed resistance in North America in the 1970s and 80s?

André:  Between the armed resistance on the white left in the US and that in West Germany, certainly.  In both cases the armed organizations were based in the youth revolt, the student movement in particular.  In both cases, murderous attacks by the state’s military apparatus spurred the movement forward, the Ohnesorg shooting in West Germany and the Kent State and Jackson State shootings in the US.  And, of course, in both cases, resistance to US aggression in Vietnam was the fundamental unifying factor at the outset.  Likewise, in the 80s there was resurgence of militant armed resistance in both countries around a more diffuse anti-imperialism, addressing developments in the Middle East, Central and South America and Southern Africa.

J Smith: The revolutionary movement in North America was marked by national divisions, between oppressed and oppressor nations that exist within the same countries, and this was obviously not the case in West Germany. While the RAF was oriented around traditional anti-imperialist struggles, their relationship to concrete Third World struggles was really limited to training they received in various Palestinian camps in the 1970s. Their opposition was to imperialism-as-a-system, and their base was clearly in their own society. Questions of how to relate to organizations based in the oppressed nations, and what they needed to do in order to remain accountable to the masses of people who suffer under imperialism – questions that seriously challenged many white armed organizations in North America in the 1970s – seem to have been dealt with on a more abstract level in West Germany. This is not really surprising given that there is no basis for national liberation movements from within the borders of Germany, i.e. no internal colonies or oppressed internal nations.

Because of this, when one compares the RAF to North American groups, for instance the Weather Underground, one can be blinded by the glaring differences of scale and intensity, and (depending on your political sympathies) the RAF either appear as fanatical killers, or else Weather ends up looking like some half-assed bunch of hippy dilettantes. Neither judgment is really fair, though. The young people who first formed the RAF had grown up in a post-fascist society, the teachers and cops and judges and even their parents were often tainted by their personal collusion in the Holocaust, and so for them there was a greater appreciation of what the stakes of struggle might be than one might expect to find amongst most middle class white Americans.

So one ends up with the curious situation that in terms of their seriousness and the means they were willing to use, the West German comrades seem to have much more in common with a group like the Black Liberation Army – i.e. a group based in an oppressed nation – than with a group like Weather, despite the fact that Weather (like the RAF) were facing the challenge of being based in an oppressor nation..

6) Not everyone in the German-speaking world is familiar with the Weather Underground and its tactics. Could you give us a very brief overview of the group and explain why it might look like "half-assed bunch of hippy dilettantes" compared to the RAF?

J. Smith:  Weatherman was a faction that took control of the broad-based Students for a Democratic Society – the SDS, the main U.S. antiwar organization – in 1969, and as such pretty much precipitated the SDS’s falling apart. Their founding statement, from which they took their name, was cribbed from a Bob Dylan song: “You don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.”

Based in the student and hippy counterculture of the day, Weather sought to form a white counterpart to revolutionary groups based in the oppressed nations, such as the Black Panther Party. Becoming the Weather Underground Organization, the group established a clandestine mode of existence, and began carrying out armed attacks.

Very early on, though, some comrades putting together bombs intended to be used against a U.S. military dance crossed their wires and ended up blowing themselves up. The trauma of having several members die in such circumstances, while preparing an action that many in the WUO were clearly not comfortable with, led to Weather rejecting “militarism,” meaning attacks against individuals. All would now be limited to attacks causing property damage.

In retrospect, this retreat from “militarism” appears to be a real retreat from political responsibility. The state was not de-escalating, Black and Indigenous comrades were being gunned down on streets across the country, but these self-styled leaders of white youth felt they should reign themselves in, concentrating on purely symbolic bombings and that’s all.

It would be unfair to discount Weather, or write them off as unimportant or uncommitted. Given the incredibly corrupt and privileged society from which these young white communists emerged, their attempt to push things to the next level was certainly laudable. But within the mythology of the sixties, it has been exaggerated. Not hundreds, but thousands of armed political actions were carried out in those years, only a small minority of those by Weather. Within a few years of going under, the leadership was organizing to emerge, to seek amnesty, to become a legal left-wing force – and very quickly thereafter the entire organization was consumed in internecine feuding and factional splits.

7) Books about this have been published in English, most notably "Bringing the War Home" by Jeremy Varon. What do you make of his analysis?

J. Smith:  Varon’s book is a very interesting meditation on the morality of political violence, from a liberal progressive point of view. Unfortunately, not only did he do no real original research on the RAF, relying almost solely on the work of Stefan Aust for his facts, but he also managed to let a number of errors slip in. Most are fairly minor – for instance dates or names – but in at least one case, when dealing with the way in which during the 1980s Peter-Jürgen Boock denied responsibility for the part he played in the actions of 1977, Varon does not even realize that Boock was no longer a member of the RAF but rather a state asset at the time! So he concludes that with this state asset’s lies “the RAF reached a new ethical low”, which is really turning things on their head…

But more seriously, Varon’s exploration of the question of political violence is marred by the way in which he excludes the violence of imperialism from his analysis. He judges the guerillas’ violence in terms of the realities existing within West Germany and the United States, comparing it to the State’s counter-measures, but nowhere does he factor in the incredible violence that was (and is!) being done by countries like the United States and Germany around the world. This leads to bizarre assertions, for instance that the U.S. servicemen killed during the RAF’s 1972 May Offensive bore no direct responsibility for U.S. aggression in Vietnam. While Varon is incisive about the “politics of location” – the way in which one’s own personal place in society can distort one’s views of what is happening – he concludes that the emergence of a violent underground was simply the result of activists’ “isolation”, whereas i would argue that the really egregious isolation is that which allowed more privileged activists to ignore the situation of the most oppressed, and thus allowed them to justify to themselves their decision to work “constructively”, within the system.

This bias, one might call it an imperialist bias, leads Varon to present the RAF as a foil to Weather: again and again he points to the former as a case of good people having embarked on an immoral path, while Weather is applauded for their early decision to de-escalate and to pressure other armed groupings to engage in only non-lethal forms of violence. We are left to imagine that without this “ethical” turn, Weather would have ended up “as bad as” the RAF.

8) So far, Tom Vague's "Televisionaries: The Red Army Faction Story" has been the only book in English exclusively dedicated to the RAF. What are your thoughts on this work?

J. Smith:  Actually, Vague’s Televisionaries is not the only such book in English– Stefan Aust’s The Baader-Meinhof group: the inside story of a phenomenon, first released in English in 1987, and then re-released again last year, has been the standard “serious” reference work about the RAF until now. Also worth mentioning, Jillian Becker’s 1977 book Hitler’s Children, a counter-insurgency work dripping with right-wing bias and bitterness, remains seen by many as a valid piece of “real crime” reporting. While both these books have a bad rep amongst those who are sympathetic to the guerilla experience, and both are certainly biased against the RAF, they deserve to be mentioned simply because they are the main sources of information that everyone else has drawn on when discussing the RAF.

Indeed, Vague’s book – a very accessible and at-times humorous piece of writing, which originally appeared as a series of articles in the fanzine he produced in the 1980s – draws almost exclusively on Aust’s work for its information. And i should mention that we too, in our book, have relied on Aust for many details, though less heavily and i think with more caution than most others.

9) Your volumes are called a "Documentary History." Is documenting history their only purpose, or do you hope to stimulate debate about armed resistance today? What are the current perspectives of armed struggle in the metropolis?

André:  Certainly, if there is to be a debate about armed resistance in the metropole at this juncture, the experience of the RAF is one that warrants examination.  It is my personal perspective, however, that there are two essential factors that must be in place before armed resistance can be seriously considered:  there must be a mass movement in which the armed activity can have some meaningful resonance, and there must be some clear objective served by this armed activity in the context of such a movement.  I think that there’s a lot of movement-building and theoretical work needed before any practical consideration of armed resistance would make sense.

J Smith: The books are documentary histories in that they are primarily a collection of documents, writings by the RAF guerillas themselves. For myself, an important goal in publishing these documents is to simply allow comrades to understand who these people were, these comrades who certainly belong to our tradition (the revolutionary left), but who not only acted but also thought in terms very different from those that most leftists today would ever consider.

As for armed resistance, it will happen, whether one approves of it or not, and it will happen regardless of whether people know about the RAF or other past experiments in that direction. But i think that much can be gained from studying previous efforts, that perhaps some errors may be avoided, or at least mitigated. Here in North America, there has been an unfortunate tendency amongst those of us who are sympathetic to the idea of armed politics, and that is to not discuss the errors that were made by comrades operating on that terrain in the past. Blaming every defeat on the State and COINTELPRO really does a disservice to the revs of tomorrow, and is also pretty patronizing towards those who did put their lives and freedom on the line during the past wave of struggle. One of the advantages of looking at an armed organization in another society is that it allows us to examine some of the physics peculiar to this form of struggle in a more impartial light, without the ego and defensiveness that can often mark such conversations closer to home.

10) Why are you so sure that armed resistance will happen? Do you think this is true for North America as well? Is there a big difference between the situation in Canada and the one in the US?

J. Smith: What i suppose you are asking about is left-wing armed resistance – after all, since 2001 the world political scene has been focussed on the effects and potentials of armed struggle from other quarters. But from the left, we have only sporadic efforts – i.e. what is happening in Greece at the moment – but nothing of the scale or ambition of what occurred during the last cycle of struggle. Even when France was burning in 2005, there was no group able to back up their public statements of solidarity with that kind of action – and that was unfortunate.

History may not repeat itself, so seeing the exact same kinds of groups as the RAF re-emerge is unlikely. But the key contradiction remains – a system which condemns billions around the world to live one kind of life, full of misery, danger, and material want – while elevating a small minority to positions of comfort and wealth unheralded in human history. The contrast between “what could be” and “what is” just keeps on growing, and it galls.

Certainly, this contradiction cries out for change. Eventually – hopefully sooner rather than later – revolutionary movements will emerge as an answer to this cry. And some people will be frustrated by the limitations of those movements, so they will engage in covert, illegal, and violent acts. One does not have to go out on a limb to say this – it’s not that i am trying to be teleological, it’s just that capitalism is going to oblige and stick around until something gets rid of it, and i don’t see any other contenders.

Now this is not to say that armed struggle will always be the most appropriate or correct strategy. i think it will emerge regardless. But i must also say that i can imagine many situations in which it would be correct, where it would advance the struggle and be a healthy thing for our movements. When comrades are deported to countries where their lives are in danger, do circumstances not cry out for some kind of retaliation? When police attack picket lines, and workers are abandoned by the trade unions, doesn’t that put sabotage on the agenda? When women find the state unwilling and unable to reign in the male violence it engenders, doesn’t that beg certain questions that legality and non-violence cannot answer?

These are general observations, not limited to any one country.

If you are asking about specific initiatives in the United States and Canada, for years there has been nothing from the left but sporadic, one-off, non-violent symbolic attacks. More telling still, these attacks have not been carried out by organizations, but by ad hoc groups, or else by individuals operating under the aegis of some broad symbolic name. The Earth Liberation Front attacks of the 1990s, which led to the Green Scare arrests of the past years, are probably the best example of this. Or here in Montreal last year, some people torched a bunch of police cars. Good initiatives, but essentially non-violent, symbolic, and not necessitating any kind of clandestine structures – and without clandestine structures, there is only so much you can do.

Here in Canada things are more advanced in the Indigenous nations, where a tradition of armed resistance continues, and shows itself every couple of years in the latest confrontation with the state. But this is not at all the same thing as urban guerilla warfare, it is more along the lines of community self-defense, the establishment of no-go areas, etc., and often serves primarily as a bargaining chip to keep the state’s violence in check.

11) You are also planning volumes on the Second of June Movement and the Revolutionary Cells. How do you see these movements in comparison to the RAF? Why did you choose to work on the three groups in this order?

André:  In these three armed groups and Rote Zora, which we will also deal with, you find the entire spectrum of New Left politics represented:  the 2JM representing countercultural anarchism, the RZ and Rote Zora representing the autonomist impulse, with Rote Zora bringing a feminist subtlety to the table, and the RAF falling closest to an anti-Stalinist Marxist-Leninism.  The order isn’t terribly important, but as it is, we will be dealing with the groups in the order they arose historically.

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From Subversive Talk to Revolutionary Results

By Joel S. Hirschhorn
Third Party & Independents Blog

Normally, when I read a new book I like to get the essential message or theme of it quickly, so I can decide whether I will continue reading it very carefully or just make it a quick read. For Mickey Z.’s new book SELF DEFENSE FOR RADICALS: A to Z Guide for Subversive Struggle, I had to wait for page 7.

That's when I hit this statement:

“The current patterns of dissent in America are long overdue for re-evaluation and overhaul. The powers-that-be have long ago figured out how to either marginalize or co-opt dissent. Until our tactics evolve, we remain accomplices to the perpetual global crime we call civilization.”

This statement totally resonated with me. For many years I have written about my disillusionment with the lack of an effective, aggressive and even revolutionary dissent movement in the US. Maybe, I thought, Mickey Z. has some answers. Just maybe this small book could help bring the changes real subversives have been waiting for.

One message is that Americans are under attack and have every right to metaphorically bite back or better yet to take the offensive and hit first, even if it means fighting dirty, when the danger is very real.

In the quest for justice and genuine social change in American, Mickey Z. tells us it is time to fight for real.

Readers will have to accept the fact that this book is like one very big metaphor. Physical action against a threat I think is intended to instill more of a fighting consciousness among all kinds of people seeking solid changes in a very unjust, corrupt and sick society. Some may jump to the conclusion that Mickey Z. is promoting violence, but I am not so sure about that. What definitely seems to be the case is that the author is really fed up with dissent in America that is big on talk and very weak on results, which, after all, seems entirely correct if you, like me, see our nation with its two-party plutocracy and the whole planet slipping faster down the toilet.

Buy this pamphlet now | Download eBook now | Back to Mickey Z's Page

Robert King and Terry Kupers

The Psychological Impact of Imprisonment

Robert Hillary King, a member of the Angola 3, was released from prison in 2001 when his conviction was overturned after many years of legal battles. The other two members of the Angola 3, Albert Woodfox and Herman Wallace, both remain imprisoned today. In 2008, King released his autobiography, entitled From the Bottom of the Heap: The Autobiography of Robert Hillary King. His autobiography won the 2008 PASS Award, and has been reviewed by SF Bay View, Black Commentator, Hour, Alternet, Political Media Review, La Presse, Albany Times Union, and The Times-Picayune.

Dr. Terry Kupers, M.D., M.S.P. wrote the introduction to From the Bottom of the Heap and is Institute Professor at The Wright Institute in Berkeley, California. Dr. Kupers is a psychiatrist with a background in psychoanalytic psychotherapy, forensics and social and community psychiatry. His forensic psychiatry experience includes testimony in several large class action litigations concerning jail and prison conditions, sexual abuse, and the quality of mental health services inside correctional facilities. He is a consultant to Human Rights Watch, and author of the 1999 book entitled Prison Madness: The Mental Health Crisis Behind Bars and What We Must Do About It.

King and Kupers were interviewed in Oakland, California in October, 2009, when King was in town for Black Panther History Month. This video is only part one, so please stay tuned for more!

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| Buy the paperback now | Buy the eBook now | Back to Robert Hillary King's Page

Daddy Dialectic on My Baby Rides the Short Bus

Daddy Dialectic
November 15, 2009

I enjoy learning things from a book, those moments when you are stunned at what you just read, or shocked at some statistic, some point, some example. Those are the books I cherish. My Baby Rides the Short Bus was just such an experience.

From reading the introduction and on through the essays, I learned that some parents of special needs kids are radical prior to becoming parents and some become radicalized through parenting. I learned that they struggle, make mistakes, come to realizations about things they did, realizations that cause them pain, that inform choices they will make in the future, that serve as a catalyst for standing up and fighting for change.

I learned that, like parents everywhere, "they learn how their kids function and they make it happen as well as they can." Just like me; just like you.

But I also learned about the complexity of parenting, how it is something we learn to do, how we discover the depth of our militancy, awareness and patience, strengths sometimes we didn’t know we even had. Until we needed them.

I learned that the medical profession and schools and court systems, which can be difficult to navigate in general, can be downright ruthless when dealing with a special needs child and family.

I learned how encounters with these institutions can belittle, can terrify, can cut deeply.

I also learned that encounters with other parents sometimes hurt the most.

I learned a little humility.

I learned new words: neurotypical, authentic activism, and scores of acronyms I never knew existed.

I was reminded how sometimes the simplest things are the most effective, like playing with your child. Down on the ground rolling around.

I was reminded of the intensity of love. How sometimes the best thing to do is pick up your child off the floor and walk away, leave the office, ignore the advice. And yet, sometimes the most difficult act of love is to let go, to trust.

Reading My Baby Rides the Short Bus, I was reminded of the ferocity with which we love, the depths of our feelings, the need for community.

I was reminded of the power of sharing stories.

These are the stories I want to hear. The stories of pain and fear, stories of surprising strength, of learning, and then of doing. As Sharis Ingram writes, “at some point you will give up trying so hard, and come to trust yourself, trust your child, trust what *is.*”

Trust me, and go get the book yourself.

Buy this book now | Download ebook now | Back to Jennifer Silverman's page | Back to Sarah Talbot page | Back to Yantra Bertelli's page


Cook Food on Vegansaurus

By Meave

First, let’s appease the FTC by noting that we received a copy of this book for free, for reviewing purposes. Second, let’s appease the critics by noting that as Lisa Jervis is a founder of Bitch magazine, we are predisposed to love her. Third, I don’t have any photos of the food I made because I don’t have a functioning camera, so you’re just going to have to imagine how wonderful everything looked, OK? Fourthly, let’s write this.

Cook Food is a little, no-frills book that is crammed full of useful information. It’s written by a (seemingly) very practical person for the very pragmatic cooks among us, by which I mean she takes a very “do the best you can with what you have” approach, with her recipes functioning more as inspiration than rules to strictly follow. This, I dig; often I want to make dish but cannot find one of the ingredients, and do not have the opportunity and/or inclination to go get it. It’s rare to find a cookbook author who encourages you to wing it. This is all right.

I tried out three recipes from Cook Food, all of which I tried to follow to the letter but none of which I did, exactly. The first was Rosemary Mustard Tofu; lazily, I didn’t press the tofu at all, but I did let it sit in the marinade for a good long time. Per the author’s notes, the leftovers did make a good sandwich the next day. I accidentally put too much dijon mustard in the sauce, because I have trouble with tasks like measuring, but it wasn’t a big deal, really.

Next I made Lentils with Wine, which I loved and will definitely make again. For a dish with so few ingredients, it has a lot of flavor, full-bodied and rich and just really delicious. Red wine, red onion and green lentils are apparently the perfect combination.

Lastly, I tried out her version of peanut sauce, which, as she warned, was not at all like the Thai-style peanut sauce I had sort of wanted (despite having read the recipe before deciding to prepare it). This one I fiddled with, a little; I found it quite salty and, I don’t know, off somehow, so I added a lot of white balsamic vinegar and a couple splashes of plain soy milk, and that seemed to mend it for me. Then I ate it on everything; on Trader Joe’s vegetable gyoza; over cold mixed lettuces and hot rice (DELICIOUS, my goodness); as a dip for baby carrots and steamed broccoli. It turned out to be a very versatile sauce.

Cook Food wasn’t written by a vegan; it’s a vegan cookbook because Lisa Jervis believes that eating mostly organically and locally grown produce is healthiest for us and our environment (and she’s right, duh). It’s plainspoken without being obvious, and pragmatic without condescending. It’d make a wonderful first cookbook for new vegans—much better than those “Vegan Recipes for College Students” that teach you how to boil pasta or whatever—but once your skills have improved beyond “beginner” you’ll still find it useful.

Plus, like I said, it’s Lisa Jervis, and everything she creates is of very high quality.

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Q&A with E. Ethelbert Miller of Poet Lore

By Leslie McGrath
Drunken Boat

Poet Lore, the nation’s oldest continually-published literary magazine, is celebrating its 120th year. Established in 1889 and affiliated with the renowned Writer’s Center in Bethesda, MD, Poet Lore has published poetry and poetry reviews throughout half of our nation’s history. Published semiannually, Poet Lore has continued the vision of founding editors Charlotte Porter and Helen A. Clarke, who introduced to the American reader poetry from across not only the U.S. but also from South America, the Middle East, and Asia.

Poet and literary activist E. Ethelbert Miller, has served both on the board of directors of the Writers Center and as one of Poet Lore’s editors for the last eight years. He is board chairperson for the Institute for Policy Studies and the director of the African American Resource Center at Howard University. Miller is highly regarded for his knowledge of African American literature and his generosity to other writers. A frequent commentator on National Public Radio, Miller has published nine books of poetry. His second memoir, The Fifth Inning (Busboys and Poets Press) has garnered wide acclaim.

Managing editor Leslie McGrath spoke recently with Miller about his involvement with, and wishes for, Poet Lore.

Q. How did you get involved with Poet Lore?

I’d like to believe that Al Lefcowitz, the founder of The Writer’s Center, had a visionary moment. He’s responsible for me not only becoming one of the editors of Poet Lore, but also a board member of the Center. Al also selected Rick Cannon and Jody Bolz as editors. We quickly established a nice working chemistry. Rick left for personal reasons. I miss him. Caitlin Hill, now our managing editor, has done a remarkable job in that position. We’ve been fortunate to have undergone a variety of staff changes without any harm to the quality of the publication. A wonderful recent addition has been Jean Nordhaus as review editor.

Q. What did you know of Poet Lore before you became involved?

I never submitted poems to Poet Lore for publication. I wasn’t even a regular reader of the magazine. To some extent I viewed it as a “suburban” journal because of its association with The Writer’s Center outside the District of Columbia. It’s funny that many of my friends of color (even today) are not aware that I’m one of the editors of Poet Lore. Many people might be surprised to learn that Jody and I have our regular meetings at my house. It’s like that hidden location Cheney was fond of.

Q. How has its focus changed since you’ve been involved, if at all?

We no longer publish translations. The “Poets Introducing Poets” section is something we introduced and are very proud of. It’s a way of keep our contributing editors actively involved in the journal. Jody and I have discussed the desire to publish more long poems. Overall, I think the design and style of Poet Lore has improved. We’ve been using historical photographs for our covers. The names of contributors to an issue are now listed on the back cover. It’s important to produce a poetry magazine that people are proud to be included in. At the end of the day, I want someone to share Poet Lore with a friend or lover.

Q. Do you have any unrealized goals for Poet Lore?

I think Poet Lore has begun to benefit from Charles Jensen’s new leadership as director of the Writer’s Center. Our visibility is growing as we introduce ourselves to a new generation of readers. I like when I read a poet’s biographical note and they make reference to Poet Lore being a place where they’ve published. We take pride in discovering new voices. The future of Poet Lore will be shaped by its ability to capture the changing cultural voice of American poetry. We have to be able to embrace a multitude of writers who differ in voice and style.

Q. How has your work with Poet Lore affected your own writing and career?

I’ve been blessed having the opportunity to work with Jody Bolz as a co-editor.
She has to be considered one of the best poetry editors working with a magazine right now. I like her attention to detail, as well as her passion and love for poetry. Working with Poet Lore keeps my feet in the water.

This year I published a second memoir. I’ve been writing my E-Notes (a blog) every day. It’s good to have Poet Lore put her hand around my waist or find the center of my back. I need the hug and caress that only a good poem can give.

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Leslie McGrath is managing editor of Drunken Boat online journal of the arts. Her first poetry collection, Opulent Hunger, Opulent Rage, (Main Street Rag) was published in fall, 2009. She edited, with Ravi Shankar, Reetika Vazirani’s posthumous poetry collection, Radha Says (Drunken Boat Press, 2010.)

Tofu Hound Imprint

logoTogether with Bob and Jenna Torres, authors of Vegan Freak, we present Tofu Hound! The imprint develops innovate books on veganism and animal rights that promote an inspiring, new vision of social justice that includes animals.

We are a publisher with a commitment to publishing quality books on veganism, vegetarian cooking, animal rights, and related issues. We're small, but we have a lot of heart, and we work hard to bring valuable, vital, entertaining, and useful titles to market.

1. Vegan Freak: Being Vegan in a Non-Vegan World, 2nd Edition —Bob and Jenna Torres
2. Generation V: The Complete Guide to Going, Being, and Staying Vegan as a Teenager — Claire Askew
3. New American Vegan — Vincent J. Guihan
4. Alternative Vegan: International Vegan Fare Straight from the Produce Aisle — Dino Sarma Weierman
5. Cook, Eat, Thrive: Vegan Recipes from Everyday to the Exotic — Joy Tienzo






Vegan Freak: Being Vegan in a Non-Vegan World, 2nd Edition
Authors: Bob and Jenna Torres
Publisher: PM Press/Tofu Hound Press
Published: Dec. 2009
ISBN: 978-1-60486-015-3
Format: Paperback
Page Count: 248
Dimensions: 8.5 by 5.5
Subjects: Vegetarianism, Activism

Going vegan is easy, and even easier if you have the tools at hand to make it work right. In the second edition of this informative and practical guide, two seasoned vegans help you learn to love your inner vegan freak. Loaded with tips, advice, and stories, this book is the key to helping you thrive as a happy, healthy, and sane vegan in a decidedly non-vegan world that doesn't always get what you're about.

In this sometimes funny, sometimes irreverent, and sometimes serious guide that's not afraid to tell it like it is, you will:

* find out how to go vegan in three weeks or less with our "cold tofu method"

*discover and understand the arguments for ethical, abolitionist veganism

* learn how to convince family, friends, and others that you haven't joined a vegetable cult by going vegan

*get some advice on dealing with people in your life without creating havoc or hurt feelings

* learn to survive restaurants, grocery stores, and meals with omnivores

*find advice on how to respond when people ask you if you "like, live on apples and twigs."

In a revised and rewritten second edition, Vegan Freak: Being Vegan in a Non-Vegan World is your guide to embracing vegan freakdom. Come on, get your freak on!


"Going vegan is the single most important thing you can do to live nonviolence and the abolition of animal exploitation in your everyday life. In this down-to-earth and entertaining guide, Bob and Jenna Torres not only convince you that you have to go vegan today, they also give you what you need to live as a healthy and happy vegan for the rest of your life." -- Gary L. Francione, Distinguished Professor of Law, Rutgers University

"Vegan Freak is a witty, helpful, wall to wall look at going vegan. A must read for anyone who's felt like the only vegan-freak in the room." --Sarah Kramer, author of How It All Vegan

About the Authors:

A recovering academic, Bob Torres holds a PhD. in Development Sociology from Cornell University. Author of Making A Killing: The Political Economy of Animal Rights (AK Press, 2007), Bob's writings have also appeared in Critical Sociology, the Journal of Latinos and Education, International Journal of Occupational and Environmental Health, and Satya magazine. Co-host of Vegan Freak Radio, Bob has been quoted extensively in media pieces on veganism and animal rights. He maintains a web presence at

Jenna Torres has a BA in Spanish and a BS in Plant Science from Penn State University, and received her PhD. from Cornell University in Spanish linguistics. She currently works at a small liberal arts university in upstate New York.  She is the co-host of Vegan Freak Radio, a podcast about life as a vegan in a very non-vegan world.  She has also been on Animal Voices Radio (CUIT Toronto) and been quoted in Newsweek, Metro newspaper, Veg News, and the book Vegetarians and Vegans in the World Today.  In her spare time, she enjoys running, hiking, playing video games, and spending quality time with Bob and with her dogs and cat.

Buy book now | Download e-Book now | Bob and Jenna Torres's Page


Generation V: The Complete Guide to Going, Being, and Staying Vegan as a Teenager
Author: Claire Askew
Publisher: PM Press/Tofu Hound
ISBN: 978-1-60486-338-3
Published: May 2011
Format: PDF, ePUB, Mobi
Page Count: 160
Size: 8.5 by 5.5
Subjects: Food-Vegetarianism, Philosophy-Ethics

Going vegan is the single most important thing you can do if you want to get serious about animal rights. Yet, going vegan isn't always easy when you're young. You're living under your parents' roof, you probably don't buy your own groceries, and your friends, family, and teachers might look at you like you're nuts. So, how do you do it?

In this essential guide for the curious, aspiring, and current teenage vegan, Claire Askew draws on her years of experience as a teenage vegan and provides the tools for going vegan and staying vegan as a teen. Full of advice, stories, tips, and resources, Claire covers topics like: how to go vegan and stay sane; how to tell your parents so they don't freak out; how to deal with friends who don't get it; how to eat and stay healthy as a vegan; how to get out of dissection assignments in school; and tons more. Whether you're a teenager who is thinking about going vegan or already vegan, this is the ultimate resource, written by someone like you, for you.


“An essential guide that covers all bases…this first effort is a welcome surprise”

“A book that is genuine and heartfelt while also being funny, personal, and theoretically rigorous
--Bob Torres in the Vegetarian Journal

“This book is motivational, inspiring, resourceful and practical.”

About the Author:

Claire Askew was born in 1990 and went vegan a few days after her fifteenth birthday. After growing up in the Midwest, she is currently studying English and gender at a small liberal arts college in Portland, OR. She has been featured in VegNews magazine, the Vegetarian Journal, the Kansas City Star, and several podcasts, as well as the 2009 edition of Fiske Real College Essays That Work. She plans on spending the rest of her life writing, and this is her first book.

Buy book now | Buy e-Book now | Claire Askew's Page

New American Vegan
Author: Vincent Guihan
Publisher: PM Press / Tofu Hound Press
Published: October 2011
ISBN: 978-1-60486-079-5
Format: Paperback
Page Count: 240
Dimensions: 10 by 7
Subjects: Vegan Cookbook

All across North America, people are looking to make better choices, but also eat healthier, more environmentally friendly and, most of all, great tasting food. New American Vegan breaks from a steady stream of cookbooks inspired by fusion and California cuisines that put catchy titles and esoteric ingredients first in their efforts to cater to a cosmopolitan taste. Instead, Vincent goes back to his Midwestern roots to play a humble but important role in the reinvention of American cuisine while bringing the table back to the center of American life.

Weaving together small town values, personal stories and 120 great recipes, New American Vegan delivers authentically American food that simply has to be tasted to be believed. Recipes range from very basic to the modestly complicated, but always with an eye on creating something that is both beautiful and delicious while keeping it simple. Clear instructions provide step by steps, but also help new cooks find their feet in the kitchen, with a whole chapter devoted just to terms, tools and techniques. With an eye towards improvisation, the book provides a detailed basic recipe that’s good as-is, but also provides additional notes that explain how to take each recipe further, to increase flavor, to add drama to the presentation or just how to add a little extra flourish for new cooks and seasoned kitchen veterans.


“Guihan has a knack for infusing bold and fiery seasonings into fresh produce and vegan pantry staples--creating inventive, novel recipes that will inspire and excite the vegan home cook.” --Dreena Burton, author of Eat, Drink, & Be Vegan

“Vincent shows people that being a gourmand can happen in 30 minutes, and at all skill levels. This book will have you running to your kitchen to try things out.” --Dino Sarma, author of Alternative Vegan: International Vegan Fare Straight from the Produce Aisle

About the Author:

Vincent has been a vegan for more than a decade, and was a lacto-ovo vegetarian for a decade prior to becoming vegan. He grew up in a in a very small Midwestern town (Warterman, IL), where his back yard was the neighbor’s cornfield.  His parents cooked only sporadically, even though the nearest fast-food restaurants were a 20-minute car ride away and this cookbook is his revenge. Raised on TV dinners, burgers, pizza and spaghetti, he spent much of his young adulthood nestled between the delicatessens, greasy spoons and taquerias of Chicago’s southwest side, which helped to build his palate. Today, he lives in Ottawa, Canada, a city renowned (at least in Canada!) for its cosmopolitan snugness in spite of its size where he gorges himself on the cornucopia of foods from all over the globe, many of which he can’t even pronounce.  He has been blogging about vegan cooking and gourmet topics since 2006. And although not a formally trained chef, he’s a formally trained and highly skilled eater.

Buy book now | Download e-Book now | Vincent J. Guihan's Page  


Alternative Vegan: International Vegan Fare Straight from the Produce Aisle
Author: Dino Sarma Weierman
Publisher: PM Press/Tofu Hound Press
ISBN: 978-1-60486-508-0
Published: Dec 2011
Format: Paperback
Page Count: 160 Pages
Size: 10 by 7
Subjects: Cookbook, Vegan

“I want you to look at the recipes presented here and be as excited as a kid with a new toy. I want your heart to race, your mouth to water, and your pots and pans to sing to you as they bring together the elements of a good dining experience....” –From the Introduction

Tofu, seitan, tempeh, tofu, seitan, tempeh.... it seems like so many vegans rely on these products as meat substitutes. Isn’t it time to break out of the mold? Taking a fresh, bold, and alternative approach to vegan cooking without the substitutes, this cookbook showcases more than 100 fully vegan recipes, many of which have South Asian influences. With a jazz-style approach to cooking, it also discusses how to improvise cooking with simple ingredients and how to stock a kitchen to prepare simple and delicious vegan meals quickly. The recipes for mouth-watering dishes include one-pot meals--such as South-Indian Uppama and Chipotle Garlic Risotto along with Pakoras, Flautas, Bajji, Kashmiri Biriyani, Hummus Canapes, and No-Cheese Pizza. With new, improved recipes this updated edition also shows how to cook simply to let the flavor of fresh ingredients shine through.

Explore your inner chef and get cooking with Dino!


“This is vegan new school, which is really vegan old school, which draws on traditions that pre-date any of us. Cooking can be empowering, no doubt about it.”
--Lauren Corman, host of Animal Voices on CIUT in Toronto.

About the Author:

Dino Sarma Weierman was born in New Delhi, India, and immigrated to the USA with his family in 1986. From childhood, cooking has been a passion for him. He draws his influences from his mother and the many hours of food shows on television that he watched. Dino also writes and podcasts about food at

Buy book now | Download e-Book now | Dino Sarma Weierman's Page


Cook, Eat, Thrive: Vegan Recipes from Everyday to Exotic
Author: Joy Tienzo
Publisher: PM Press / Tofu Hound Press
Published March 2012
ISBN: 978-1-60486-509-7
Format: Paperback
Page Count: 256
Dimensions: 10 by 7
Subjects: Vegan Cookbook

Whether we find ourselves living large or small, everyday or exotic, there are countless opportunities to come to the table. --From the introduction

In Cook, Eat, Thrive, Joy Tienzo encourages you to savor the cooking process while crafting distinctive meals from fresh, flavorful ingredients. Enjoy comfortable favorites. Broaden your culinary horizons with internationally-inspired dishes. Share with friends and family, and create cuisine that allows people, animals, and the environment to fully thrive.

Cook, Eat, Thrive features dishes from both the everyday and the exotic, including:
• Buttermilk Biscuits with Southern Style Gravy
• Earl Grey Carrot Muffins
• Orange Cream Green Smoothie
• Palm Heart Ceviche
• Barbecue Ranch Salad
• Riz et Pois Rouges
• Raspberry Chévre Salad with Champagne Vinaigrette
• Samosa Soup
• Tarte aux Poireaux et Pommes de Terre
• Mofongo with Cilantro Lime Gremolata
• Ras el Hanout Roasted Beets
• Italian Cornmeal Cake with Roasted Apricots and Coriander Crème Anglaise
• Lavender Rice Pudding Brulee with Blueberries
• Peanut Butter Shortbread with Concord Grape Sorbet

Inside, you’ll also find:
• An extensive equipment and ingredients listing
• Basics like seitan, non-dairy milks, grains, frozen desserts, and salad dressing
• Menus for occasions, from Caribbean-inspired garden parties to vegan weddings
• Practical symbols to let you know if recipes are raw, low fat, soy-free, wheat-free, approachable for non-vegans, and quick fix


Cook, Eat, Thrive gives vegans the option of choosing exotic and extraordinary recipes for special dinner preparations, or simpler, yet imaginative creations for day to day meal planning.  Whether you're looking for everyday vegan fare, or exquisite vegan dining, Tienzo serves it up with culinary flair!” --Dreena Burton, author of Eat, Drink, & Be Vegan

“Every time I look at glossy food photography, I think of Joy's cookbook, and how she's already managed a stellar vegan version of it. Veganism discovers its abundance in here.” --Dino Sarma Weierman, author of Alternative Vegan: International Vegan Fare Straight from the Produce Aisle

About the Author:

Joy Tienzo loves food, and writing about food. Whether working as a pastry cook, hosting community brunches, or crafting wedding cakes, her purpose in life is to feed as many people as well as possible. When not in the kitchen, Joy can be found on a plane, a yoga mat, or volunteering for refugee and human rights causes. She lives in Denver with her husband and daughter, and can be found online at

Buy book now | Download e-Book now | Joy Tienzo's Page

A Sharp Elbow to Power's Jutting Jaw

By Mark Hand
Press Action

Mickey Z.’s Self-Defense for Radicals is more than a metaphor for resisting the oppression of governments and corporations. It’s literally a manual for helping you defend yourself when attacked by a mugger, political adversary, bully or anyone intending to commit physical violence against you.

Whether you should use the advice offered by Mickey depends on the situation, of course. If you’re walking down a city street and you’re confronted by a mugger armed with a gun, you may want to think twice about attempting to fend off the attacker by biting him or head-butting him — two self-defense techniques described by Mickey in the book.

However, let’s say you’re walking down the same city street and you’re grabbed from behind, but there’s no hint the attacker is armed. If you’re able to free your arms, why not follow Mickey’s advice and “deliver a sharp elbow to power’s jutting jaw.” Or try to use your elbows as a weapon by aiming them at your attacker’s eyes or groin. Just to be safe, Mickey suggests that if your first elbow lands cleanly, follow it up with several more strikes against your attacker.

Mickey is a martial artist, kickboxer and personal trainer. His decades of training in the martial arts — and his focus on combining a calm mind with a keen understanding of the body and the physics of action — have served as the foundation for his views on violence and how it should be avoided in most cases. However, as Mickey writes:

“Learning how to fight and/or defend yourself is not the same as promoting belligerent, anti-social behavior. We live in an exceedingly violent society. … While talk of non-violence is understandable and the struggle for peace has never been more essential, let’s face it: the odds are, that sooner or later you’re going to end up in a confrontation that may escalate into physical violence. So, why not be prepared?”

Mickey’s years of experience as a martial artist and personal trainer qualify him to write about self-defense. But he also says you shouldn’t worry about qualifications when wondering how to fight back. “You don’t need credentials to kick an oppressor’s ass,” he says.

Self-Defense for Radicals, published by PM Press, contains fewer than 40 pages. But as Derrick Jensen says in a blurb on the back cover: “This small book packs a powerful punch.” And Richard Cole’s cartoons, scattered throughout the book, provide a potent complement to Mickey’s self-defense instructions.

Following in the tradition of his other “list” books — The Seven Deadly Spins and 50 American Revolutions You’re Not Supposed to Know — Mickey’s Self-Defense for Radicals serves as an easy-to-use alphabetical manual for protecting yourself. The book’s target audience is women. In the “S” chapter, Mickey offers some statistics on the level of violence against women in the United States, much of which is committed not by a stranger, but by a husband or a boyfriend. For example, 232,960 women in the United States were raped or sexually assaulted in 2006. That’s more than 600 women every day. Also, 14% of all American women acknowledge having been violently abused by a husband or boyfriend.

Mickey also quotes Martha McCaughey, author of Real Knockouts, who explains that women who take self-defense instruction are offered a critique of the ways in which gender is constructed in a culture of male privilege that rests on the abuse of women. McCaughey continues:

“What is usually taken for granted as a fact of nature — that a woman simply cannot physically challenge a man — is revealed as a social script which privileges men at the expense of women. … Self-defense offers the possibility of a critical consciousness of gender’s influence on what we see as male and female bodies.”

While the book is tailored as a self-defense guide for women, most of the tips and lessons also can help men fend off an attacker. Eye gouges and groin punches can be just as effective when used by a man.

You may wonder why the book is titled Self-Defense for RADICALS. It’s because Mickey’s goal is to instill confidence in the minds of those people — feminists, environmentalists, activists for animal rights, human rights, civil rights and all rebels and dissidents — who are “putting their asses on the line” for fundamental change in our society. In defining “radical,” Mickey gets an assist from Angela Davis, who he quotes early in the book: “Radical simply means grasping things at the root.”

Along with his instructional guidance, Mickey’s message is motivational. In a world where oppressors have been operating scot-free for so long, Mickey offers an uncomplicated rallying cry: “It’s time to not be nice.”

Buy this pamphlet now | Download eBook now | Back to Mickey Z's Page

Interview with Martin Bull


1. How do you keep up-to-date with the new Banksy artwork going up around London?
Because of the internet (in particular) and digital cameras/camera phones it's now so much easier. New street work by Banksy (or possibly by him) gets photographed and spread around the world very quickly now. I keep in touch with several internet sources, especially the Banksy group on flickr, which I now hep to run. I also sometimes get told of new work by my friends, and have also been fortunate enough to be the first to 'discover' and spread the news about a few new ones myself, such as the 'Maid' and the 'Old St Cherub' (both in Hoxton, London).
2. You said you have had weird experiences discovering the artwork. Please explain?
It's not that weird I guess, but it seems strange how I decide to go down a particular street that I have not been down for ages (or never been down), or to visit a certain area for no obvious reason, and then I find something I've not seen before (and sometimes a piece that very few people have ever seen before). Or something might take me away from my original plan (e.g. a bus diversion, traffic problem, or talking to a random stranger) and it's at that point I find something. Maybe it's just the law of averages (I do wander a lot, and maybe I block out all the times I haven't found things!), but it does seem to me as if I find more than can be expected this way, and somehow I find things I never expected.
3. What can people expect to experience on the tour? And what about London, apart from Banksy art?
I don't actually run the tours anymore (I did 4 in 2006, but after then there were hardly enough to see, and I had moved away from London), but people can still use the book (and the free 'status updates' on my website) to do their own DIY tour if they want. It might have to be a shorter tour now though, or they might need to lower their expectations compared to how many used to exist. But doing your own tour means you can do whatever you want. It's perfect freedom, and more challenging in some ways.
London is apparently an ‘exciting’ city but I found that unless you could use its opportunities you might as well live elsewhere. I prefer the countryside really, although I do love the graffiti and the hustle and bustle and multi-culturalism of many parts of the city. It’s full of graffiti, especially in East London, and there are some great places on the outskirts, in places you might not expect to be fruitful, such as Feltham, Hanworth and Twickenham in West London. My favourite alternative graff area is Hackney Wick; an oasis of calm in an otherwise bustling Hackney / East London, and loads of good graff. The Olympic village will probably seriously change this area soon though.
4. With artwork disappearing and new pieces turning up, is it fair to say no tour is ever the same?
Two of the tours I only did once each, but the Hoxton/Shoreditch tour I did twice, and yes, they were different. Sometimes things literally change overnight, even though you might have walked some of the route the day before. When I return to London I still often wander around that area in particular, because it changes all the time; that's the nature of graffiti and it's not a real problem, although it does sometimes seem strange to see something really good or very old that suddenly disappears, especially if it's been gone over by something weak, or by the graffiti cleaning squads.
5. What feedback have you had about the tours?
I had good feedback about the tours, and people who came left pretty happy I think (probably helped by the tours being free, and me giving away a free hand printed B&W photo of mine, plus some rare stickers or postcards kindly donated by Pictures On Walls!). A few armchair critics came out of the woodwork though to criticise what i did, with comments such as 'a tour is a weird idea' (expletive removed!), or that a tour spoils the 'serendipity' of finding graffiti (I had to look 'serendipity' up in the dictionary). It's strange that everyone these days seems to have an opinion about everything in life (usually negative; and usually from people who never get off their sofas to try to do anything themselves). I think people who have opinions should be shot. That's just my opinion though J
6. Is it strictly a walking tour, or do you catch the tube?
The tours in the book are deliberately walking tours, and you don’t need to use any other transport. They could also be done by people with baby buggies or using a wheelchair, as any steps can be avoided. With more and more of the locations now gone there is more distance between the remaining locations, but you could still do the tours if you wanted, or you could just make your own DIY tour. The tours and the book were made as a bit of an accidental DIY effort, so I encourage people to take from them whatever they want. Have a nice few hours wandering around, chill out, talk to strangers, buy a copy of the Big Issue, and have a good time.

Buy Banksy Location and Tours Volume 1 now | Download Banksy Location and Tours Volume 1 eBook now | Back to Martin Bull's Page | Back to Banksy's Page

Check Out Banksy's Location and Tours Volume 2

Check Out This Is Not a Photo Opportunity: The Street Art of Banksy


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