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The Incomplete, True, Authentic and Wonderful History of May Day on Labour History Melbourne

by Rowan Cahill
Labour History Melbourne
April 29th, 2016


Writing in 1896, not long before his death, indefatigable socialist thought-maker and dreamer William Morris wrote that May Day is “above all days of the year fitting for the protest of the disinherited against the system of robbery that shuts the door betwixt them and a decent life”. That system was capitalism. The previous year he published a letter trenchantly criticising ‘experts’ and their plans to cull, tame and ‘manage’ the remnants of Epping Forest. This letter reflected an ecological awareness well ahead of the time, Morris cognizant of the complex unities of nature, the need to protect rare and threatened species, the subtle relationships between species, tall growths, undergrowths, thickets and space, the mutually supportive roles of different species for the life of the whole. In Morris, the Red and the Green were one.

So why begin a discussion of Peter Linebaugh’s latest book, The Incomplete, True, Authentic, and Wonderful History of May Day (Oakland: PM Press, 2016), here? Simply, and humour me, because I’ve recently revisited Morris’ writings, in particular travelled with Guest through News From Nowhere, and Jack Lindsay’s fine biography of Morris (1975). Linebaugh writes in the tradition of Morris’ May Day, against the same system Morris railed against. Reading his book is like taking a radical ramble with Morris through the Epping Forest he sought to defend, if with a huge imaginative leap the ‘Forest’ is recast metaphorically as the vast human history of protest by the disinherited. Asked in 1991 by his wife, Dorothy Thompson, if he still described himself as the Marxist he once was, historian E. P. Thompson unhesitatingly replied “that he preferred to call himself ‘a Morrisist’”. Linebaugh studied under Thompson, and this book is a wonderful blend of many things, resonating with echoes of Marx and Morris and Thompson.

For readers unacquainted with Linebaugh, some background is relevant. Born in 1943, he is described in biographical notes as “a child of empire”, with the UK, US, Germany, and Pakistan sites of his schooling; this is not unimportant, as a feature of his scholarly/historical work is an internationalist/transnational awareness and perspective. As I mentioned, he was a student of E. P. Thompson, hence the significant Thompsonian influence in his work, and he has primarily taught in American universities. Variously as author, co-author, editor, he has produced five substantial studies of British and Atlantic social history in the ‘history from below’ genre, notably The London Hanged (1992), a groundbreaking study of 18th century England, crime and punishment and the development of capitalism, and the game-changing study of Atlantic/Caribbean maritime rebellion, and radical political thought and action in the late 18th /early 19th centuries, The Many-Headed Hydra (with Marcus Rediker, 2000).

Linebaugh’s style of writing is accessible, and his books reach audiences beyond niche academia. A radical historian, he aims to write with social purpose and as a political act, his scholarship alerting readers to the possibilities for action in their own time and situations. A great deal of his work has been published in freely available non-academic journals, online, and in pamphlet form, often having multi-platform/outlet publication. This is a scholarly historian who wants to be read, and who makes himself available to readers, at home in the academy and on the barricades. Overall, Linebaugh’s writings range widely across sources and disciplines, ignoring/defying the tendency for neoliberalised academia to stay within narrow and highly specialised intellectual enclosures. If in his life and work one discerns echoes of Thomas Paine and William Morris, it is not coincidental, for he has written authoritatively and sympathetically on both.

Those coming to Linebaugh’s Incomplete history of May Day expecting some sort of linear ‘total’ narrative history of May Day will be disappointed. For it is not this sort of history. Sure, the history of May Day is a constant presence in the book, but the word ’incomplete’ in the title is an accurate description of the contents. For this is not a total/complete history, and ‘incomplete’ is also Linebaugh’s way of saying that May Day is a work in progress, and, as originally a festival celebrating the start of Spring and attendant rebirth, is constantly being reshaped, recast, reimagined, reborn.  Linebaugh simply and robustly puts it thus in his introductory chapter: “May Day is about affirmation, the love of life, and the start of spring, so it has to be about the beginning of the end of the capitalist system of exploitation, oppression, misery, toil, and moil. Besides full affirmation May Day requires denunciation: the denunciation of capitalism, of patriarchy, of homophobia, of white supremacy, of war”.

Morris in his end-days wrote of May Day as a metaphoric/symbolic occasion for the celebration and renewal of anti-capitalist resistance and struggle, the opportunity to bring the past, present, and future together in focus and to rebirth/recharge anti-capitalist fervour, determination, organisation. So too does Linebaugh in this ‘incomplete’ history, with May Day the focus for ruminations on anti-capitalist radicalism, and socialist imaginings.

A short book (192 pages), Incomplete comprises eleven essays/ruminations authored by Linebaugh over the last thirty years, drawing on his immense scholarship, and salted with autobiographical intellectual/political fragments. Aside from the introductory chapter, these were written in association with public events/occasions, the majority published in the American online magazine CounterPunch, some published and distributed as pamphlets. The concluding chapter is his retirement speech from the University of Toledo in Ohio (2014), reflecting on radical history and being a radical/activist historian, and railing against the capitalist control of universities under which “universities are dying as commons of knowledge, as sites of social regeneration, even as places to read a book”.

It is difficult to summarise this book simply, because it is about the radical/revolutionary spirit and experience, populated with people and crowded with events, the focus both sides of the Atlantic, but globally too, the time-frame spans the present back to early geological times in a discussion of the agency of anarchist quarry workers in 19th/early 20th century Vermont. Ambitious yes, but Linebaugh has the scholarship, background, ability, spirit and wit to confidently, and joyously, traverse the terrain, exploring patterns and influences within diversities. Linebaugh brings the likes, for example, of William Morris, Marx, Malcolm X, the Shelleys, Joe Hill, William Blake, W. E. B. Du Bois together, alongside struggles as diverse as those against the enclosure of the commons in Europe and those of the recent Occupy Movement, and movements diverse as the Mau Mau and SDS.  It is a tour de force underlining and endorsing the right to rebel against capitalism, and the imperatives to imagine and to work for socialist alternatives.

The art of Linebaugh is the ability to look backwards across diversities and detect and trace flows of radical thought, legacies of radical actions, and unexpected influences. His achievement is the development of an ecology of protest/dissent/rebellion, teasing out and demonstrating relationships and links and influences over time and across geographies, spaces, and diversities, between events and ideas and people in a way akin to the ecological understanding of nature. It is, in his hands, a political and historical understanding enabling one to see hope and achievement and worth when more rigid teleologies might only see inadequacies, shortfalls, and failures. Further, and importantly, he privileges that radical/socialist past, in effect mounting a counter-attack on hegemonic attempts by the current neoliberal stage of capitalism to render that past irrelevant and useless, to “silence alternatives” as Linebaugh puts it.

One can read history and the past in a nostalgic way, as a catalogue of what has been lost––the commons enclosed, the eight-hour day disappearing or never having appeared in the first place, the cancerous growth globally of repressive legislations, the militarisation of contemporary democracies eroding long held rights and freedoms––or one can read the past and take heart from it, and through solidarity, collectivity, and cooperation work for a better world and future.

If heart is taken, then renewed struggle, Linebaugh insists, has to be anti-capitalist, and Red and Green: Red, the socialist anti-capitalist struggle; Green the environmental struggle, because capitalism is a two-faced system, not only about the exploitation of human beings, but also about the exploitation of nature. The way forward, Linebaugh argues, is through solidarity forged in collectivity, of alliances, coalitions, the movement of movements, amongst people defined by, and aware of, their lack of control/power in the capitalist system, metaphorically “all toilers, not just the hands at any moment gripping the plough”, and by dissolving the “‘I’ into the ‘We’”.

No doubt each reader will take something different from this book, but for me it is important for demonstrating a number of things: how a radical historian can write in a scholarly, enjoyable public way without dumbing down either erudition or scholarship; how a radical scholarly/academic historian can engage, and have agency, outside of the academy. It is also a demonstration of how to write history that is alive, and how to reflect on the past, and learn and adapt from it. In short, Linebaugh goes a long way towards encouraging and fanning radical socialist dreaming and scheming in the present, dreaming not as escape but as opening a door to possibilities, and creating a light on the hill for the future.


Buy book now | Buy e-Book now | Back to Peter Linebaugh's Author Page


Birth Work as Care Work: A Review in SQUAT

Alana Apfelby Angela Anderson
SQUAT
April 2016

Break out the tissues and breathe deeply. Alana Apfel imbues Birth Work As Care Work with intimacy, empathy, and buckets of love.

I had the great honor to witness the development of this anthology. While working towards our Master’s degrees in Anthropology and Social Change at California Institute of Integral Studies, I cried tears of awe on many a train ride as I read the drafts of these stories. In our graduate work, Apfel and I were trained in scholar activism - creating knowledge that is useful to the communities portrayed within. Simultaneously training as a doula and a scholar activist, Apfel united compassionate birth work with the political: radical activism, postcapitalism and commitment to intersectionality.

Apfel hits that mark in this anthology, with a call to action and a commitment to birth justice for all birthing people. Unique to books about birth, Apfel explicitly recognizes that birthing people can be of any gender. The collection opens with an invitation to recall our own births. It was not until reading the narratives Apfel co-created with other birth workers that I realized how profoundly our own births affect us for the rest of our lives.

Stories range the spectrum of birthing experiences: from traumatic birth and disappointed parents to transcendent, communal births full of love and light. Apfel expands her analysis of birth through the politics of working as a doula, pointing out that many of the uncritically glorified ideals of birth are rendered unavailable to some birthing people on the basis of class, race, and other factors. Rounding out this holistic approach to birth work, Apfel includes a collection of herbal recipes beneficial to pregnant, birthing, and postpartum people.

Through Birth Work As Care Work, Alana Apfel calls for deeper awareness of the
experiences and lives of pregnant, birthing, and postpartum people. I was fortunate to read parts of this collection before I gave birth, and the perspectives I encountered certainly helped me birth my child without attachment to outcomes and without fear. This collection on birth is truly rare and precious. As pointed out, birth is a part of all our lives - for this reason, I encourage everyone to take this collection in.

Buy book now | Download e-Book now | Back to the Author's Page




Birth Work as Care Work: Stories from Activist Birth Communities: A Review

Alana Apfelby Dr Denis Walsh

This is a challenging and thought-provoking book, mostly coming out of the US context of the experience of black women in particular. It unashamedly takes the position of the oppressed and marginalised and applies a radical, anti-capitalist critique to the business of reproduction. In other words, starting with marginalised women’s experience of either birthing or working as a birth supporter, it critiques structures that undermine both women’s agency over their body and the commodification of birth in neo-capitalist systems.

Birthing is a social justice issue when any type of systemic discrimination is experienced by women, often layered because of patriarchy, racism and classism. The chapters are personal accounts of that experience from the inside, using informal interviewing and personal narrative. Though emerging out of the USA which is arguably more medically controlled than maternity systems in most western European countries, it is relevant for the UK context where gender, race, sexuality still intersect in oppressive ways.

There is a sociological tone to the writing but that is a strength as it brings incisive critique to taken-for-granted assumptions about how maternity care is organised and enacted, even within a publicly funded model. It also adopts an optimistic tone that bottom-up change is possible when grassroots activists band together and reminded me of how much social capital exists across various lobby  groups and how that could be harnessed for change – a recommended read!

Dr Denis Walsh
Associate Professor in Midwifery
Nottingham University

Denis was born and brought up in Queensland, Australia but trained as a midwife in Leicester, UK and has worked in a variety of midwifery environments over the past 25 years. His PhD was on the Birth Centre model and is now Associate Professor in Midwifery at The University of Nottingham. He lectures on evidence and skills for normal birth internationally and is widely published on midwifery issues and normal birth. He authored the best seller - Evidence & Skills for Normal Labour and Birth

Buy book now | Download e-Book now | Back to the Author's Page




Speak Out with Our Lives: A Review of Waging Peace

by Charles Busch
UCC

David Hartsough has given us a remarkable story of his life as a persistent and insightful peacemaker of our times. His wanderlust and astute eye for critical events around the world brought him to many of the right places at the right times.

A fine example was set for Hartsough in his childhood through the work of his father, a Congregational minister. Ray Hartsough answered the call of the Quaker service organization and was sent to Gaza in 1948 to lend assistance to refugees as a result of the Arab-Israeli War. As a child, David gained an immediate sense of the suffering of others and what is required to put one's faith into action to help bring peace and justice into the world.

As a young man in 1960, Hartsough spent a year in divided Berlin, where he studied postwar effects just 15 years after the end of World War II. Three critical observations came to him in these formative years. The ravages and suffering of war were still evident in the souls and neighborhoods of the German people. The U.S. and Soviet rivalry for influence and control dictated how the people lived, forcing them from hot war to cold war.

A second revelation came to Hartsough as he witnessed the depth of faith practiced by both Catholics and Protestants while visiting churches. This prompted him to take a serious look at what it means to be a Christian, asking how we are to practice the teachings of Matthew 25 within the reality of a world of mass suffering, starvation and the ever-present threat of nuclear self-annihilation.

Hartsough's third query strove to understand the human desire not only for adequate work, housing, food and health care, but also our yearning for freedom and self-actualization. Neither the West nor the East allowed a place for people to honestly speak out against cultural materialism, a restrictive bureaucracy and the constant demonization of each other. Where is true democracy to be found when society, churches, universities and media fail to question this siege mentality?

The long history of insatiable empire-building on the part of the United States is well-documented in this revealing book. In a meeting at the Soviet Peace Council in Moscow, Hartsough was told by the director and editor of the Young Communist newspaper that efforts were made on the part of Russia to de-escalate the mounting tensions at the time of the building of the Berlin Wall. It was felt that the U.S. continued the arms race despite the efforts made by the USSR for disarmament with a unilateral halting of nuclear testing in 1958, abolishing all military bases outside of its borders, and cutting 2 million troops from its forces.

Within a year of this meeting and five months before the Cuban Missile Crisis, in May 1962, Hartsough and a delegation of Quakers met with President John F. Kennedy at the White House. Hartsough was the youngest person present, and the group asked the president to unilaterally stop the testing of nuclear bombs and to challenge the Soviets to a "peace race."

The president's attention was caught by these peacemaking Quakers. In a speech at American University, he did propose a ban on nuclear testing and the idea of a peace race. Kennedy was killed five months after that speech.

Hartsough's history of peacemaking includes his witness to the U.S.-backed wars in Central America in the 1980s. Again, the suffering of innocent people struggling to sustain themselves on the land while enduring assaults from corporate-driven interests is an appalling history. The effect of such unspeakable violence continues to haunt these small countries to this day.

In reading this book, we are forced to look at ourselves and to acknowledge that our chosen lifestyles rely on war-making to attain such a high standard of living. The practice of American exceptionalism attempts to justify our consumption of massive amounts of the world's resources at the expense of the majority of the population.

Hartsough unfailingly identifies the places where nonviolent witness remains desperately needed. But beyond that, he also suggests the means by which we can confront the evil of greed-induced violence and sustain a long-term effort in bringing the transformative power of peacemaking efforts into the 21st century.

This means going to the margins and accompanying the people who suffer the results of U.S. foreign policy. It means living a simple life so that resources are more equitably shared.

Perhaps most importantly, Hartsough reminds us of the crucial role that community, family and friends play in carrying on the work of peacemaking.

[Martha Hennessy divides her time between family in Vermont and work at Mary House Catholic Worker. Her peacemaking efforts include travels to war-torn and occupied countries.]


Buy Waging Peace | Buy Waging Peace e-Book | Back to David Hartsough's Author Page


Peacemaker tells his remarkable life story

by Martha Hennessy
National Catholic Reporter
March 16th, 2016

David Hartsough has given us a remarkable story of his life as a persistent and insightful peacemaker of our times. His wanderlust and astute eye for critical events around the world brought him to many of the right places at the right times.

A fine example was set for Hartsough in his childhood through the work of his father, a Congregational minister. Ray Hartsough answered the call of the Quaker service organization and was sent to Gaza in 1948 to lend assistance to refugees as a result of the Arab-Israeli War. As a child, David gained an immediate sense of the suffering of others and what is required to put one's faith into action to help bring peace and justice into the world.

As a young man in 1960, Hartsough spent a year in divided Berlin, where he studied postwar effects just 15 years after the end of World War II. Three critical observations came to him in these formative years. The ravages and suffering of war were still evident in the souls and neighborhoods of the German people. The U.S. and Soviet rivalry for influence and control dictated how the people lived, forcing them from hot war to cold war.

A second revelation came to Hartsough as he witnessed the depth of faith practiced by both Catholics and Protestants while visiting churches. This prompted him to take a serious look at what it means to be a Christian, asking how we are to practice the teachings of Matthew 25 within the reality of a world of mass suffering, starvation and the ever-present threat of nuclear self-annihilation.

Hartsough's third query strove to understand the human desire not only for adequate work, housing, food and health care, but also our yearning for freedom and self-actualization. Neither the West nor the East allowed a place for people to honestly speak out against cultural materialism, a restrictive bureaucracy and the constant demonization of each other. Where is true democracy to be found when society, churches, universities and media fail to question this siege mentality?

The long history of insatiable empire-building on the part of the United States is well-documented in this revealing book. In a meeting at the Soviet Peace Council in Moscow, Hartsough was told by the director and editor of the Young Communist newspaper that efforts were made on the part of Russia to de-escalate the mounting tensions at the time of the building of the Berlin Wall. It was felt that the U.S. continued the arms race despite the efforts made by the USSR for disarmament with a unilateral halting of nuclear testing in 1958, abolishing all military bases outside of its borders, and cutting 2 million troops from its forces.

Within a year of this meeting and five months before the Cuban Missile Crisis, in May 1962, Hartsough and a delegation of Quakers met with President John F. Kennedy at the White House. Hartsough was the youngest person present, and the group asked the president to unilaterally stop the testing of nuclear bombs and to challenge the Soviets to a "peace race."

The president's attention was caught by these peacemaking Quakers. In a speech at American University, he did propose a ban on nuclear testing and the idea of a peace race. Kennedy was killed five months after that speech.

Hartsough's history of peacemaking includes his witness to the U.S.-backed wars in Central America in the 1980s. Again, the suffering of innocent people struggling to sustain themselves on the land while enduring assaults from corporate-driven interests is an appalling history. The effect of such unspeakable violence continues to haunt these small countries to this day.

In reading this book, we are forced to look at ourselves and to acknowledge that our chosen lifestyles rely on war-making to attain such a high standard of living. The practice of American exceptionalism attempts to justify our consumption of massive amounts of the world's resources at the expense of the majority of the population.

Hartsough unfailingly identifies the places where nonviolent witness remains desperately needed. But beyond that, he also suggests the means by which we can confront the evil of greed-induced violence and sustain a long-term effort in bringing the transformative power of peacemaking efforts into the 21st century.

This means going to the margins and accompanying the people who suffer the results of U.S. foreign policy. It means living a simple life so that resources are more equitably shared.

Perhaps most importantly, Hartsough reminds us of the crucial role that community, family and friends play in carrying on the work of peacemaking.

[Martha Hennessy divides her time between family in Vermont and work at Mary House Catholic Worker. Her peacemaking efforts include travels to war-torn and occupied countries.]


Buy Waging Peace | Buy Waging Peace e-Book | Back to David Hartsough's Author Page


Diana Block discusses Clandestine Occupations: An Imaginary History with Chris Burnett

By Chris Burnett
KPFK's Indymedia On Air

I have always been fascinated by the stories of organizers, revolutionaries and activists who have dedicated their lives to social change and revolution.

These stories help to highlight the mistakes, the victories and the political analysis required to change a system that is hell bent on the profit motive, one that may likely put the survival of the human species on the line.

Reading memoirs and books that explain the complex social relationships and challenges faced by those that put their bodies in harms way for ideals of human justice and liberation are important narratives that I think modern organizers should think about.

My guest tonight, Diana Block, is one of those people.

Diana Block has been an activist since the 1970’s and a founding member of San Francisco Women Against Rape, Prairie Fire Organizing Committee, and California Coalition for Women Prisoners.  She is the author of the memoir Arm the Spirit: A Woman’s Journey Underground and Back. Her latest book is called Clandestine Occupations: An Imaginary History which is published by PM Press.

Clandestine Occupations is a book not just about those engaged in revolutionary struggle, but it’s about the people around those revolutionaries that are effected by the struggle, many of which are only tangentially related, some that choose to become more committed.

It’s a story of what it’s like for those that support, and even betray, those involved in a struggle, and how they make decisions, or how they may chose to find an inner strength they never knew they had, or highlight a weakness that might betray those in the middle of that struggle.

I was very moved by this narrative, precisely because it asks the question of what effect radical politics may have on those around us. What does it mean to think about the effects a radical political analysis might have on those that are NOT as deeply committed? What might go through the minds of those that want to support struggles for liberation who have not had time to think deeply about their commitments, or the commitments of others? How do radicals work to change the dominant narratives in a population inculcated with an authoritarian or imperialist framework they never knew they had? How do organizers change the framework for understanding what freedom and liberation really is, especially from the standpoint of the most downtrodden and poorest amongst us? What do our most basic human interactions mean in the struggle, such as love, compassion, understanding, and respect? What does it mean to have children in the middle of a struggle?

I am happy to have Diana Block on the show to discuss her new book.


Buy Clandestine Occupations | Buy Clandestine Occupations e-Book | Back to Diana Block's Author Page


The Cultural Policy of the Cuban Revolution: A Excerpt in Cuba50

to defend the revolutionby Rebecca Gordon-Nesbitt
Cuba50

April 27th, 2016


The main hypothesis of Rebecca Gordon-Nesbitt’s important new book on the cultural policies pursued in Revolutionary Cuba is that there exist possibilities for relations to be created between art and society that are not premised on the profit motive. In the preamble to the book, titled “Cuba as an Antidote to Neoliberalism,” Gordon-Nesbitt makes clear that what motivated her project in militant research is the current market fundamentalism that consigns all cultural production to the needs of economic growth, shaping cultural production into an ideological weapon of capitalist globalization. As a Marxist art theorist with a keen interest in policy I often find myself reading essays on contemporary art waiting for a kernel of wisdom from its author, something that can put contemporary theory into some kind of relation with the history of radical cultural theory. In this instance, readers are richly rewarded as they are immersed in a case study where some of the perennial debates among artists and writers of conscience are worked out in concrete historical circumstances in which a socialist society attempts to bring into existence the best of what humanist Marxism has promised, along with the necessity of struggle against the results of centuries of colonialism, the pressures of capitalist imperialism and the failures of Soviet Stalinism. However, as Gordon-Nesbitt makes clear, the political event of the Cuban Revolution is not only a matter of history, but has implications for the future (xxiii).

Aside from the introductory texts, which includes a foreword by Jorge Fornet (the son of Ambrosio Fornet, one of the key cultural figures in this account), and a brief conclusion, the book is essentially divided into two parts, with the first three chapters approaching the subject of cultural policy in Revolutionary Cuba through a historically-specific perspective on theoretical issues, and a second part with four chapters that follows a more chronological trajectory from the earliest days after the victory of the 26 July Movement in 1959 to roughly the late 1970s.

In this period, debates between “liberal” and “orthodox” tendencies vied for primacy, interacted with international comrades and led eventually to the ratification of the Revolutionary humanist vision of leaders like Che Guevara and Fidel Castro, which sought to allow “everything within the Revolution and nothing against the Revolution” (69, 163). The role of militant leadership and of state functions are therefore affirmed not only as a matter of record, but as a point of solidarity by Gordon-Nesbitt, who notes with keen lucidity a meeting of cultural producers at which Fidel intervened by placing his pistol on the table, reminding all those present that the Revolution had been achieved at a great cost and that whatever freedoms had been won by the people of Cuba, artists and intellectuals were mandated with the task to pursue their work in the interest of social, political and cultural transformation and the needs of a socialist society.

In this first part, the author takes the broadest view possible on what a radical cultural policy, in any context, would need to consider. Beyond the mechanisms of socio-economic support for artists and writers, the relation between culture and the state is shown to be essentially different in a capitalist and a socialist context. Since the enlightenment, the aesthetic has been associated with human emancipation, a notion that has been tailored by different political perspectives and government agencies. Insofar as the United States and the United Kingdom have associated culture with commerce and economic growth, they ignore United Nations stipulations that art should be supported but not reduced to the status of a consumer good or a site for speculation. Since the solution to neoliberalization cannot be a return to romantic and modernist notions of autonomy, the policies experimented with in Cuba provide some ideas on how culture can offer a means beyond socio-economic contradictions. It is significant that the Revolution did not originate in strictly communist circles and that Cuban communists of the Popular Socialist Party (PSP) only belatedly joined the insurrection, leading to longstanding skepticism towards communism. Rather, the Cuban Revolution was led by new left intellectuals who considered themselves post-Stalinist. Yet, insofar as U.S. aggression was an ever-present danger, ties were maintained with the Soviet Union and Marxism-Leninism was applied to matters of political economy. The flipside to this, however, was a vision of socialism and of a humanist Marxism that sought to protect freedoms and human happiness as well as national cultural characteristics. This took the form of a Marxism influenced by the ideas of the Cuban intellectual José Marti, which were introduced by Che Guevara as a means to devise a continent-wide resistance to imperialism. The goals of freeing people from economic pressure, to overcome alienation and restore individuals’ capacity to relate themselves to humanity and nature are keystones of proletarian humanism that were given expression in the creation of a better life in both a material and spiritual sense. While literacy was a first objective of the 26 July Movement (with Cuba having today the second highest literacy rate and the U.S. and the U.K. coming in 44th and 45th place), the creation of cultural institutions was undertaken as early as 1961 with the building of national art schools, professional training for art instructors and an outreach programme to rural areas so as to abolish the distinctions between town and country and between manual and intellectual labour. In a short period, the amateur aficionados art education campaign would produce more than a million amateur artists within a population of seven million.

Throughout the 1960s, steps were taken in the development of an infrastructure for the administration of Cuban culture: in 1959 the government established the Cuban Institute of Cinematographic Arts and Industries (ICAIC) as well as the Casa de las Américas; in 1961 intellectuals formed the National Union of Cuban Artists and Writers (UNEAC); the pre-Revolutionary Nuestro Tiempo cultural society represented the ideas of the PSP; and the National Council of Culture (CNC) was created in 1961 – a group that Gordon-Nesbitt reproaches for its orthodox misreading of Marxian dialectics and separating art from the historical processes of the Revolution. (In fact, the entire fourth chapter is dedicated to a brilliant theoretical and historical elucidation of the pitfalls of ideological orthodoxy). In addition, in 1961 the National Art Schools (ENA) were established for training across the disciplines and in 1963 a National Museums Commission was formed, exhibiting art recovered from the elite, building a dozen new museums and touring exhibitions around the island and abroad. All of these institutions were committed to contributing to collective consciousness while sustaining creativity, supporting artists, developing pedagogical programmes and engaging with the world though cultural exchanges. In an early statement by Roberto Fernández Retamar, editor of the journal of the Casa de las Américas, the Revolution is described as a process whose course is not exact, but that the Cuban people are immersed in (65). One can see how different a statement this is from artists in the capitalist world who see themselves as an enclave, detached from the rest of society and at the same time immersed in the economic logic of the culture industries.

It was only in 1976 that the CNC was dissolved and replaced by the Ministry of Culture (MINCULT), headed by Armando Hart, a lawyer and former urban guerrilla. The bulk of the entire book, one could say, is dedicated to describing the process that resulted in the creation of MINCULT. Whereas the first three chapters give an overview of this period, elaborating what was at stake in terms of the ideals of the Revolution and the emancipatory role of culture under socialism, the last four take the reader into more detailed analysis of the particulars, demonstrating how at every stage, the valences of the dialectic, as Fredric Jameson calls it, can lead to very different understandings of what is happening. Gordon-Nesbitt consistently shows how the leadership sought to encourage the freedom of creative expression while at the same time securing the Revolution for the existing generation and for those to come. In this process, culture was given an important role in galvanizing revolutionary ideas, artists were freed from the laws of supply and demand, subsidies replaced royalties and sales, and property rights for creative works were replaced by state-sponsored dissemination.

Although it is not possible to do justice here to all of the particular events that are related in the last four chapters – from Fidel’s “Words to the Intellectuals” after the 1961 Pasado Meridiano controversy, the First National Congress of Writers and Artists (August 1961), the CNC policies of the early 60s, Che’s 1965 text “Socialism and Man in Cuba,” the [International] Cultural Congress of Havana of 1968 and its many participants, the Padilla Case of 1968-71, the First National Congress of Education and Culture of 1970, the Five Grey Years of military control of culture from 1971-76, and the First Congress of the Cuban Communist Party of 1975 – I would mention that throughout, Gordon-Nesbitt provides a rich and compelling analysis of the relationship between the political vanguard and artistic praxis that could easily be read alongside today’s discussions on socially engaged art, art activism, participatory art, transversal practice, relational and dialogical aesthetics, participatory art and other variants. Her book brings to the fore the problems that we in the capitalist universe would face if some of our political and cultural ambitions were to be realized. We would be able to go beyond confronting major institutions about the abuses of corporate management and sponsorship since they would be ours, people’s museums, universities and ministries, and we artists and intellectuals would have to decide amongst ourselves whether and how we support the Revolution, including its state mechanisms and infrastructures. We wouldn’t need to network or work without pay in order to accrue social capital like so many entrepreneurs of solidarity, but could dedicate ourselves to free exchange and authentic culture. Of course, even in the case of Cuba, there was never a moment when struggle was not required and protest against an imperialist foe was not a reality. The lessons of the Cuban experiment are not that liberal traditions are of no use to the Revolution, but that national culture should not be chauvinistic or elitist, that art and politics cannot be collapsed, nor can they be separated, and so, that aesthetic vanguards must work alongside political vanguards and vice versa. To Defend the Revolution Is to Defend Culture thus provides Marxist aesthetics with a view of radical ideology and universality that goes beyond sociological reduction and challenges the immanentism of today’s global, neoliberal bureaucracies.


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The Incomplete, True, Authentic and Wonderful History of May Day on Gods and Radicals

by Rhyd Wildermuth
Gods and Radicals
April 18th, 2016



Karl Marx and Fredrich Engles claimed, in The Communist Manifesto, that the history of all societies has been that of class struggle.  In a later edition, however, Engels inserted the following footnote:

“That is, all written history.”

What led to that clarification? Specifically, the discovery by anthropologists that pre-literate societies in Russia and elsewhere had held land in common. While all written histories of the world were founding narratives for the right-to-rule of the upper classes, unwritten histories told a different tale: stories not of hierarchies and class, of propertied rulers and priests, but of ways of being where property belonged to everyone and no-one.

In the footnote, Engels adds:

“with the dissolution of the primeval communities, society begins to be differentiated into separate and finally antagonistic classes.”

It’s tempting  to call these primeval societies ‘pagan’ and perhaps we should.  As Oscar Wilde suggested, the best way to overcome a temptation is to give in to it.  Besides, much of modern Paganism draws from the myths and relationality of less hierarchical societies, borrowing from the later-recorded oral histories of gods and spirits–with very liberal applications of imagination and dreaming—to create a New/Old way of being.

Likewise, Paganism can be said to be reaction to Civilisation, or at least a certain understanding of it. The alienation of modern workplaces, the vapidity of technological distraction, and the apparent emptyness and Authoritarian nature of major religious forms compel many of us to look elsewhere for our meaning.  For most of us, Paganism as we currently create it provides exactly that alternative.

If our desire to live according to Pagan forms of being is compelled by more than mere dissatisfaction with what’s on offer from the marketplace, churches, malls, televisions, cubicles and burger stands–that is, if it isn’t only a matter of consumer preference, but actually a resistance to those things—then no day embodies that desire, that compulsion, that celebration of the body and the natural world like Beltane, or May Day

But May Day doesn’t just belong to Pagans. While perhaps hundreds of thousands celebrate Beltane, many millions more in cities across the world have enacted a different sort of ritual, the revolt of worker against boss, renter against landlord, marcher against cop, of world-time against clock-time.

Are these May Days so different?

History From Below


Ask that question to Peter Linebaugh, and one imagines he would laugh, and then give you some very wild–and dazzling–history lessons.

In The Incomplete, True, Authentic, and Wonderful History of May Day, a new collection of his essays published by PM Press, Peter Linebaugh explores both threads of May Day, the Pagan threads (what he calls “The Green”) and the anti-authoritarian and anti-capitalist threads (“The Red”).

The Incomplete, True, Authentic and Wonderful History of May Day is a collection of 11 essays, each written about and for May Day (and, as he cheerfully notes in the introductory essay, sometimes written ‘the night before’ the occasion) which dance and weave into each other like the ribbons of a maypole.

Linebaugh doesn’t tell history in lines, and that’s a good thing. Linear history is the story of the machine-age, the mechanistic world of the factory and the skyscraper, the narrative of progress and the line-up to the gas chambers. Such a history wheels along, unstoppable along iron tracks past the present. Through its windows we might catch a glimpse of the ‘great men’ of earlier times, the generals and warlords, men of religion, men of industry, men of science; if, that is, the black smudge of coal and petrol smoke does not obscure our view.

Peter Linebaugh doesn’t tell the story of those people, he tells ours, the ‘History from Below,” and he recounts it not in lines but in webs, nets, drawing threads and throwing cables across vast distances to connect the people who actually live history, rather than watch it parade by.
For Linebaugh, the worker and the witch, the coal miner in Appalachia and the prisoner in London, the dead Sioux and the Italian anarchist, the daughter of an African slave and the German philosopher are all part of the same dance, each holding a coloured ribbon about the pole which unites us.

The Dance of the Red & The Revolt of the Green

The Green of Beltane and the Red of May Day are interwoven through their shared acts of resistance against Authority and the demands of the bosses. As he explains in the title essay (originally written as a tract in 1986):

Green is a relationship to the earth and what grows therefrom. Red is a relationship to other people and the blood spilt there among. Green designates life with only necessary labor; Red designates death with surplus labor. Green is natural appropriation; Red is social expropriation.

Green is husbandry and nurturance; Red is proletarianization and prostitution. Green is useful activity; Red is useless toil. Green is creation of desire; Red is class struggle. May Day is both.
(p.11)

The essay opens with a history of the Green, the pagan and irreligious celebrations from which most modern witches and pagans reconstruct the holiday. That it needed to be reconstructed at all further entwines the red and green threads together:

The farmers, workers, and child bearers (laborers) of the Middle Ages had hundreds of holy days which preserved the May Green, despite the attack on peasants and witches. Despite the complexities, whether May Day was observed by sacred or profane ritual, by pagan or Christian, by magic or not, by straights or gays, by gentled or calloused hands, it was always a celebration of all this is free and life-giving in the world. That is the Green side of the story.

Whatever it was, it was not a time to work.
 
Therefore, it was attacked by the authorities. The repression had begun with the burning of women and it continued in the 16th century when America was “discovered,” the slave trade was begun, and nation-states and capitalism was formed.
(p.14)
 
As Authority and the needs of Capitalists sought to form humans into machine-workers, festival days during which no work was to be done (as he points out, hundreds, and all of them sacred) became sites of battle. The celebration of May Day was banned, but as Linebaugh shows, this only made the celebrations more anti-authoritarian. In England, the May Day games were thereafter called the “Robin Hood Games” by the peasants, initiating the ‘Red’ current.

Of course, May Day is better known to the world not as an ancient European tradition, but a day of mass strikes, revolts, and marches to commemorate the Haymarket Massacre in Chicago. The events that day came about as part of a workers movement to reduce the length of the workday to 8 hours and to protest State repression and murder of labor activists. For Linebaugh, this is both the Red thread (leftist organisation against Capital) and the Green thread (the demands of the people for time to actually live life, rather than toil).

The Great Tapestry of Resistance


Other essays in the collection explore more of the modern class struggle centered on May Day. His essay X²: May Day In Light of Waco and LA explores the relationship between class struggle and social justice through the lens of Exploitation and Expropriation (the source of the X²).

1992 saw the Rodney King Riots in Los Angeles, during which 55 people were killed, thousands of people injured, and millions of dollars of property destroyed after a jury found the police officers who had severely beaten Rodney King not guilty of excessive force.

A common trick of Authority and the media is to de-legitimize the political anger in such uprisings, particularly amongst Black folk. Because much of the damage to business occurred not to white-owned establishments but to Asian-owned shops, the Rodney King Riots were written off as blind rage or even racist.

But Linebaugh sees in these events (which occurred during the few days before and few days after May Day that year) the same repeating form which led to the Evil May Day Riots in 1517.

Artisans in London attacked foreign merchants and bankers who had been brought in by the King to undercut wages and destroy the organising power of the guilds.  Manipulating immigration policy has always been a trick of the powerful against the lower classes.

It’s in such places that Linebaugh’s historical narrative becomes most powerful and truly international.  Linebaugh is particularly adept at showing the relationship between events in Europe and events in North America, a transatlanticism unfortunately rare in most histories.

Europe and North America are not the only continents where Linebaugh finds the spirit of May Day. Africa, the Middle East, and Asia all birth the repeating form of resistance. The threads intertwine fast and taut: anti-colonial struggle in Kenya connects to the Black Panthers, the struggle for the commons in Indonesia to student movements in the United States, striking soldiers from England to Ghandi and displaced Arabs, and eastern European vampire myths connect to privatisation and austerity moves in Ypsilanti, Michigan.

By the final essay (his retirement speech from the University of Toledo), the world of the Red and Green, the histories from below, have become a great tapestry of resistance which, like the title of the book, is True, Wonderful, Authentic….and Incomplete.

Like his other works, Peter Linebaugh leaves you dazzled, full of great optimism and the sense that the world is much smaller and an end to Capital much closer than you ever dared hope. But just as quickly, the stories end, the tapestry seems to fade away and you are left holding the colored cords, unsure what comes next.

His history of May Day is indeed incomplete. There are many, many more May Days to write about, including the one approaching. Will the Green and Red finally win this time? Will they twine together, braiding with all the other colors of the earth’s fecund life? The Black threads are there too, as are the Asian, the First Nations (see particularly his earlier work on Tecumseh in Stop, Thief!.) the Arab and the white, great ribbons all suspended from the top of a great tree.

Will we dance the world Peter Linebaugh shows us into existence around that pole this year? Or will it be the next? Either way, in his final lines Linebaugh invites us to that dance:

We have the world to gain, the earth to recuperate. M’Aidez! M’Aidez!


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Where have all the flowers gone?

By Mark Perryman
Philosophy Football
April 8th, 2016

 

It has become almost a mantra, there’s no protest music any more, discuss. In the mainstream maybe, though Beyoncé for one by following up her embrace of feminism with the message that the Black Panthers matter seems to confound even that. The trouble for musos of a certain age is that the rebel rock of yesteryear, from Guthrie to the Clash, existed in a popular culture almost entirely different to the one any musical rebellion of today has to navigate its way round. So how to make the connections to the past whilst remaining meaningful , not to mention musical, in 2016? 

The Hurriers - From Acorns Mighty OaksTake The Hurriers who seem to be single-handedly turning their home town Barnsely into a citadel of soulful socialism. Absolutely shaped by the enduring legacy of the miners’ strike this is band whose sound is straight out of the mid-eighties Redskins songbook , that’s a compliment not a criticism incidentally. Debut album From Little Acorns Mighty Oaks absolutely confirms this, music to shout along to rather than sing along to, full of commitment mixed up with rousing tunes.  Or Thee Faction, kind of the southern cousins of the aforementioned, though my all-time favourite description of them remains ‘Comrade Feelgood’. Whereas The Hurriers remind older listeners of The Redskins this lot have Wilko written all over them, again a compliment not a critique. Their latest masterpiece Reading, Writing, Revolution continues where previous albums left off combining music to dance to with a richly acute ear for socialist history. Dialectics for the dancefloor, just what The Corbyn Effect demands.  

Badass Lady Power PicnicReminding me of early Belle and Sebastian vocals-wise the debut album from The Wimmins Institute comes with a title nobody is going to forget in a hurry Badass Lady Power Picnic. The combination of wit and a lightness of music touch seves to prove showing our anger doesn’t always mean playing angry music, nice.  The rising prominence of women musicians in protest music is splendidly reported in a new, and free e-zine, with the brilliant title Loud Women. Promoters of political gigs have a read, there is absolutely no excuse for not having 50:50 in your line-ups. 

Robb Johnson - A reasonable history of impossible demandsA key role of protest music through the ages from has always been to provide a chronicle of the times we live, the histories from where we carve the present out of and futures we might dream about.  Leon Rosselson is without much doubt the most important singer of this tradition in Britain. His new album Where are the Barricades? marks his retirement at the age of 81 after some six decades of songwriting and singing.  Full of anger, wit and imagination that Leon has always provided across over all those years.  Robb Johnson comes from a slightly later era to Leon, though his beautifully packaged 5-CD box set A Reasonable History of Impossible Demands still manages to account for almost three decades of protest singing, 1986-2013. This is the era of Thatcher, the miners, Hillsborough, Stop the War and a whole lot more, the news via song and guitar. Yes it sounds old-fashioned but as a means to provide a collective response to all that is thrown our way, a sense of identity and belonging, and knowledge too Robb and Leon’s trade in verse and tunes has few rivals.  Joe Solo is one of many now adding something new to this tradition. A musician-activist Joe’s  new CD Never Be Defeated is what might once have been called by other artists a ‘concept album’. The difference lies in the kind of concepts Joe is interested in.  Solidarity, community and resistance in the coalfields of South Yorkshire ’84-85.

Goodnight Heard and Unheard Hope not Hate FavouritesOut of the despair of the Tories 2015 General Election victory and the delight of Jeremy Corbyn’s entirely unexpected landslide win in the Labour Leadership vote a wave of protest music , old and new, erupted. Goodnight Heard and Unheard Hope not Hate Favourites  is a double CD compilation of anti-fascist tunes, some of the classic variety – Billy Bragg’s The Battle of Barking – but for the most part pleasantly unpredictable, both artist and content. Plenty of old favourites too, Inspiral Carpets, Attila the Stockbroker, Wonder Stuff and Chumbawamba,, alongside the latest of the new wave including Siobhan Mazzei, Blossoms, Tracey Curtis, Steve White and the Protest Family.  A rich variety yet still journos ask ‘ Whatever happened to political music?’ Doh.

Orgreave Justice  is another double CD also featuring Billy Bragg alongside Louise Distras, Sleaford Mods, Paul Heaton with less well-known names Quiet Loner, The Black Lamps, Matt Abbott and more. The common theme here is truth and justice framed by that epic moment in the 84-85 Miners’ Strike, Orgreave. The specificity of the theme gives the disparate tunes and voices a collective sense of purpose producing an album of record as well as resistance. The spoken word and folk interludes sit well alongside the more obviously rousing tracks to create a really impressive compilation, in fact a textbook version for others to follow.

Land of Hope and FuryBased in my hometown Lewes, East Sussex Union Music Store is an extraordinary factory of good music – live music, record shop, recording studio and their own record label too.  Every town should have one, sadly most don’t.  Testament to their ambition and impact is the CD they rush-released within a few weeks of the nightmare Tory victory (on just 24% of the popular vote it should always be remembered) last May. Land of Hope and Fury also benefits from the specificity of its content, this time in terms of musical styles, mainly of Americana, Country and Folk which is what Union unashamedly favour. Lucy Ward, Mark Chadwick of the Levellers, Moulettes, O’Hooley and Tidow, with for me Grace Petrie’s If There’s A Fire in your Heart providing the absolute stand out track of a very splendid lot.

Somehow we ment - the Meow MeowsA music of change needs a music we can dance to as well. A mix of conscious lyrics and rhythms to move body and soul. It’s no accident that the 1980s Two-tone music was one of the first to provide this mix and with an unrivalled multicultural line-up too. A ska revival has been a long time coming but there is a hint of it with Captain SKA  and South Coast favourites The Meow Meows.  Both are absolute showstoppers live. The Meow Meows are promising to release a third album soonish, meantime treat yourself to some uneasy listening off their second album Somehow We Met.

A rebel music that knows its history, diverse in styles, mashing up gender, race and sexuality, conscious lyricism with enough tunes for those out to look good on the dancefloor. Not the same as it’s ever been, but paying dues to those who went before.  Sam Cooke’s A Change is Gonna Come . Not just a classic tune, but a shared musical and political ambition too, now  and back then too. 

Mark Perryman is the co-founder of Philosophy Football. On Saturday 1st October at Rich Mix London 2016 Philosophy Football in association with the RMT and Thompsons Solicitors, supported by The International Brigade Memorial Trust will be marking the 80th Anniversary of Cable Street and the formation of the International Brigades with a night showcasing protest music 2016 introduced by Mark Thomas and featuring The Hurriers, Louise Distras, The Wakes, Potent Whisper, Will Kaufman and Lánre. Ticket details to follow but reserve the date for a night not to be missed.

 

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The Struggles and Victories of a Xicana Woman in a Hardcore Band

By Leilani Clark
KQED

April 10th, 2016

I first saw the East Bay feminist hardcore band Spitboy in 1993. I remember the moment the four women, the only ones on a packed bill, took the stage at the Phoenix Theater in Petaluma. Wearing ripped shorts, combat boots, Converse and worn tank tops, they were tough, intimidating, and mind-blowing with a driving, abrasive sound I’d never heard women produce before. Sure, I loved punk rock. But I’d never seen it done like this. Spitboy’s lead singer Adrienne sang about gender oppression, sexual violence, and the mismeasure of women in American society like a no-holds barred assault. It was exhilarating, hardcore, and life-affirming;  I loved every second.

I idolized Spitboy from that day, adding them to a stable of bands that would inform my experience as a young feminist woman fronting an (almost) all-girl band a few years later.

Spitboy

In her new book, The Spitboy Rule: Tales of a Xicana in a Female Punk Band (PM Press) Michelle Cruz Gonzales writes about being a “Spitwoman” in those heady days. Gonzales — known back then as “Todd” — was the drummer in Spitboy and one of the band’s founding members. She still makes her home in Oakland, where she lives with her family.

The book, based on a zine of the same name, doesn’t function as a straightforward narrative. Rather, the collection of essays jumps around in time and consciousness, anchored by Gonzales’ reflections on the varied experiences of being a young, working-class Chicana woman in a well-known touring band at a time when women in punk rock were rare.

51EyR-zhyIL._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_

As such, it’s an engrossing account of a particular period in music history. A historical moment when, as Mimi Thi Ngyuyen writes in the preface, “some consciousness about women in music broke through, briefly.” (Read anything by Jessica Hopper for more on this.) Gonzales writes about her journey from Tuolomne, a “dysfunctional, limiting, broken” town in California’s Gold Rush country, to San Francisco, hellbent on playing music like her heroes the Clash — first with Bitch Fight, and later with Spitboy and Instant Girl. It isn’t an easy journey, and it’s exacerbated by class shame, a neglected Chicana identity, and sexist and abusive vitriol lobbed at Spitboy during live performances.

“As aggressively unapologetic women in a (still) bro-dominant scene, Spitboy shouldered both misogynist hostility and the burden of representation,” writes Gonzales, after relaying a story of one particularly disgusting comment from a male audience member.

Spitboy rectoWhat’s most refreshing about The Spitboy Rule is Gonzales’ ability to closely examine the class and race issues woven through the mid-’90s Bay Area punk scene. Yes, she found community, friendship, and unfettered artistic expression with the band. But, as she writes, she always felt like an outsider; the only woman of color amidst all white women. The only band member who didn’t come from a fairly comfortable middle-class background.

These cultural differences come to the forefront after the band stops to visit Gonzales’ grandmother in East Los Angeles. It’s a stop she later regrets:

Stopping had not been a good idea at all. We should have stayed on the I-5. I should not have suggested we veer off into the second-largest Mexican city in the world. I had made everyone uncomfortable, and now I was outside my body, seeing my adored Grandma and her shabby East L.A. home, which I’d always found tidy and comforting, her knick-knacks — which they probably called tchotchkes — and all her family photos of Mexicans, and now myself through different eyes, and I didn’t like it one bit.

Most working-class kids have experienced similar moments — even within the punk scene, where lots of middle class kids went to hide — the feeling of shabbiness, of not quite fitting in, which is disconcerting when you’re with a peer group that professes to accept pretty much everything except Republicans and SUVs. In truth, the punk scene suffered from elitism, mansplaining, and race/class privilege as much as any other cultural movement.


Gonzales writes honestly about being Chicana in an overwhelmingly white punk scene. “I didn’t often make references to being Mexican, a Xicana, in a mostly white band in a mostly white punk scene. It was just easier to try to blend in with my short hair, my tattoo, and my punk uniform.” She dates white guys (including Cometbus editor Aaron Elliott) and struggles towards an acceptance of her identity, first through learning Spanish, and later as an ethnic studies minor at Mills College.

There are victorious moments as well. Gonzales writes of the thrill of touring Europe with Citizen Fish, traveling to Japan for the first time where one rabid fan cried upon meeting her, and playing in New Zealand to enthusiastic crowds. All experiences she couldn’t have imagined as a young, isolated punk in Tuolumne, listening to the Clash and dreaming of England. Later, she meets Los Crudos, a Latino hardcore band out of Chicago that sings in Spanish and proudly displays their cultural heritage. “I began to feel more comfortable with my multiple identities,” she writes, “Spitboy drummer, feminist, Xicana.”

Gonzales is now in her mid-forties; Spitboy played that show at the Phoenix Theater almost 25 years ago. The stories and observations in The Spitboy Rule benefit from years of reflection, schooling, and life lived. This would have been a much different book if Gonzales had written it 20 years ago. It is a privilege to grow older, to have the chance to reflect on the formative struggles and building of consciousness that happens when we are young. And, for Spitboy fans like me, the true thrill comes from getting the inside story on the four radical women who took that stage in 1993 and blew us all away.

Michelle Cruz Gonzales appears on Wednesday, April 27, at Pegasus Books on Shattuck Ave. in Berkeley. Details here.

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