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Resisting Gender Violence Without Cops or Prisons: An Interview with Victoria Law

by Angola 3 News Staff
Truthout
December 8, 2011

Activist and journalist Victoria Law is the author of Resistance Behind Bars: The Struggles of Incarcerated Women (PM Press, 2009). Law has previously been interviewed by Angola 3 News on two separate occasions.

Our first interview focused on the torture of women prisoners in the United States. The second interview looked at how the women's liberation movements of the 1970s advocated for the decriminalization of women's self defense. Taking this critique of the U.S. criminal "justice" system one step further, Law presented a prison abolitionist critique of the how the mainstream women's movement, then and now, has embraced the same "justice" system as a vehicle for combating violence against women.

While citing the important work of INCITE: Women of Color Against Violence, Law argues that "today, abuse is treated as an individual pathology rather than a broader social issue rooted in centuries of patriarchy and misogyny. Viewing abuse as an individual problem has meant that the solution becomes intervening in and punishing individual abusers without looking at the overall conditions that allow abuse to go unchallenged and also allows the state to begin to co-opt concerns about gendered violence."

Furthermore, "the threat of imprisonment does not deter abuse; it simply drives it further underground. Remember that there are many forms of abuse and violence, and not all are illegal. It also sets up a false dichotomy in which the survivor has to choose between personal safety and criminalizing and/or imprisoning a loved one. Arrest and imprisonment does not reduce, let alone prevent, violence. Building structures and networks to address the lack of options and resources available to women is more effective. Challenging patriarchy and male supremacy is a much more effective solution, although it is not one that funders and the state want to see," says Law.

In our new video interview, Law builds upon her earlier prison abolitionist critique by discussing practical alternatives for effectively confronting gender violence without using the prison system. She cites many success stories where women, not wanting to work with the police, instead collectively organized in an autonomous fashion. Law stresses that at the foundation of these anti-violence projects is the idea that gender violence needs to be a seen as a community issue, as opposed to simply being a problem for the individual to deal with.

One group spotlighted, Sistah II Sistah/Hermana a Hermana, in New York City, was formed to confront both interpersonal violence and state violence. They formed discussion groups where experiences are shared and the women collectively decide what tactics and strategies to employ. In one instance, they confronted an ex-boyfriend, who was stalking a member of the group, by going to his workplace, where they demanded he stop and successfully enlisted the support of his employer and co-workers.

Self-defense advocacy and training is another tactic employed by many of the groups cited by Law. For example, in the 1970s, two feminist martial artists founded Brooklyn Women's Martial Arts (BWMA), later renamed the Center for Anti-Violence Education in the 1980s. Along with teaching practical self defense techniques at sliding-scale classes, Law emphasizes that the Center also focused on the larger picture of how violence "holds different types of oppressions together," resulting in a complex situation for poor women of color.

Our interview is being released in conjunction with the Unite to End Violence Against Women campaign first initiated in 1991 by the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women. This campaign began 16 days of action on November 25, the International Day Against Violence Against Women, and will conclude on December 10, International Human Rights Day. We will be releasing two more segments of our video interview with Law during the 16 days of action. So, stay tuned to learn more about how Chinese sisterhood societies dealt with gender violence, as well as an update on new stories of women prisoners' resistance that have happened since the first edition of Resistance Behind Bars was released in 2009 (a second edition is scheduled to be released next year).


 

 

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On the Ground in The Rag Blog

by Jonah Raskin
The Rag Blog
December 14, 2011

Sean Stewart’s On the Ground is the last of three feisty books published in the past year about the '60s underground press. The strengths of Stewart’s book are spelled out in the subtitle: it’s illustrated and it’s anecdotal.

Unlike John McMillan’s Smoking Typewriters, which came out last winter, and Ken Wachsberger’s Insider Histories of the Vietnam Era Underground Press, which came out last spring, Stewart’s On the Ground—which has just been published—does not try to be all-inclusive, comprehensive, and analytical.

Amply illustrated with art, cartoons, drawings, and covers from the colorful, eye-catching papers of the '60s, it comes closer than the previous two books to the spirit of the in-your-face underground papers.

Many of the anecdotes that appear in On the Ground are told by Sixties writers, photographers, and editors who were omitted, neglected, or shunted to the sidelines by McMillan and Wachsberger, though probably not intentionally. There were just too many contributors to the underground papers to include all of them in one book.

Marvin Garson—the editor of the San Francisco Express Times—is mentioned briefly and only in passing. That’s too bad because he had a deep understanding of media, news, and communications. Todd Gitlin mostly dismisses him in The Sixties because he pushed surrealism into “bad taste.” Of course, the underground press was often a mix of surrealism and bad taste.

Paul Krassner—one of the fathers of the underground papers—defended the mix time and time again and refused so say what was fact and what was fiction in his published pieces, what was made up and what was an accurate historical depiction.

The historian, Paul Buhle, provides a preface to Stewart’s On the Ground that has the feel of a hastily written piece that seems designed to attack the competition. In fact, Buhle goes out of his way to target what he sees as the flaws of McMillan’s Smoking Typewriters; his comments probably would have been more useful in a review of that book than in the preface to Stewart’s work.

Moreover, Buhle is so partial to the '60s that he often doesn’t seem to see the creativity and spunk of the subversive newspapers, newsletters, and magazines that were published long before the underground newspapers of the 1960s came along. But Paul Krassner, the founder and long time editor of The Realist, goes back to the 1950s and even further back to Tom Paine and the “whole tradition” of dissenting pamphleteers and makes it clear that America has a long rich history of defiant writers, editors, and publishers.

On the Ground does not aim to be critical of the Sixties papers or to skewer the protest movements of the era, but by reproducing the art, the cartoons, and the provocative covers from Rat, The East Village Other, The Seed, Old Mole, Space City!, and more, it aptly illustrates the youthful sexism of the artists and cartoonists and makes all too apparent a generation’s obsession with violence.

Guns, knives, and various assorted weapons appear again and again in more than two dozen illustrations in this book, and from the beginning to the end there are images of naked women, women with conspicuously large breasts, women performing oral sex, and women as the sex toys of men.

Fortunately, the book does not become defensive or try to make excuses for the images that glorify guns and that turn women into objects of male gratification. Enough time has passed, it would seem, for the pictures to speak for themselves, and to reflect the zeitgeist of the era without the need to condemn or defend. There’s something to be said for the passage of time.

Some of the Sixties chauvinism that Buhle exhibits is apparent in anecdotes from activists and organizers such as John Sinclair of the White Panthers who describes Detroit before the 1960s as “a cultural backwater” in which “nothing was happening,” though even in pre-1960s Detroit—and in Cleveland, Buffalo, and elsewhere in the Midwest—there were rumblings, grumblings, beat poets, jazz artists, and Marxists.

Really, folks. The thaw in the cold war and the cracks in the imperial society didn’t show up for the first time in 1960.

The voices of many of the women are less strident now than they were in, say, 1970 in the midst of women’s liberation, when nearly every man was regarded as a male chauvinist pig. Alice Embree gives credit to the civil rights movement that preceded the protests of the 1960s and that provided an “example of moral courage to direct action.”

Judy Gumbo Albert, one of the original Yippies, describes her job at the Berkeley Barb in the department of classified sex ads that were usually placed by heterosexual men. “I was a naïve young woman from Canada,” she writes. “This job really opened me to, and made me appreciate the diversity of human sexuality.”

Trina Robbins describes how she "fought her way into the male-dominated world of underground comix" to create her own original work.

Working for the underground press was usually a learning experience, though not always in accord with the ideas about education that were embraced by the college professors of the day. Rat editor Jeff Shero Nightbyrd explains that in New York in the late 1960s and early 1970s, “the Mafia controlled magazine distribution.” The East Village Other tried to bypass the Mafia only to learn that working with the Mafia and not against it was the only way to put papers in the hands of readers. “We had Mafia distributors,” Nightbyrd writes.

Many of the contributors to On The Ground—Thorne Dreyer, Harvey Wasserman, Paul Krassner, Alice Embree, Judy Gumbo Albert, and Jeff Shero Nightbyrd—will be familiar to readers of The Rag Blog, and there are colorful stories about the original Austin Rag, too.

“One of the important things about the underground press was that it was a collective, communal experience,” Thorne Dreyer says. “Everybody came in and got involved and became a part of it, and got politicized through the process.” And that same process, or something very similar to it, is taking place wherever the Occupy Wall Street movement has surfaced all across America.

[Jonah Raskin is the author of For The Hell of It: The Life and Times of Abbie Hoffman, and The Radical Jack London. A professor at Sonoma State University, Jonah is a regular contributor to The Rag Blog. Read more articles by Jonah Raskin on The Rag Blog.]

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Global Slump: A Review

Global Slumpby Seth Sandronsky
Z Magazine
January 2012

Beware the recovery from the downturn of 2007-2008, as tens of millions of people hang on and fall down. Their daily lives have differences and similarities. One of the former is place: the global south or global north. Chinese women assembling goods for export face labor conditions that female WalMart “associates” stateside don’t. But as women waged workers, they share similar relations with bosses and capitalist-friendly governments that back lower wages and weak environmental oversight as a lever for higher profits in a worldwide system. To get a deeper grasp of this process requires an analytic context to untangle the varied antagonisms that people experience in an era of turmoil for all but a wealthy few. To this end, David McNally, in Global Slump: The Economics and Politics of Crisis and Resistance (PM Press, 2011), sheds useful light on what is at stake and why.

McNally’s first chapter surveys the 2008 panic that radiated shockwaves around the world. As he documents, the financial damage began in early 2007 with HSBC Holdings losing $11 billion in home mortgage investments. The author explains how the blowing of an $8 trillion U.S. housing bubble hammered private-sector demand and led to a government bailout of big Wall St. banks, mostly, with the Obama stimulus package also flowing, too little too late for Main St. Crucially, with increased deficit spending from rescuing major financial players (“too big to fail”), governments worldwide are trying to exit the 2008 crisis with cuts to government spending.

In McNally’s narrative, there is a bi-partisan political move (i.e., GOP and Democrats in the U.S.; Labor and Tories in the UK) to cut such deficits. This is how, in part, the system, with a visible hand from the governments upon which it relies to grow, purges excess production in goods and services. The aim is to create the conditions for improved return on investment.

McNally writes on behalf of those who are the least at fault for the crash and are in the crosshairs of a “decade of pain,” thanks to government policies, e.g., budget austerity, that will reduce their living and working standards unless, of course, they can organize and mobilize for alternate policies. Such actions, he writes, involves “understanding the mechanisms capitalism uses to get out of crisis . . . an intellectual task of the greatest urgency.”

Think that Marxists such as McNally sing in the same voice about capitalism’s tendencies to crisis? Well, think again. He parts ways with, for example, Robert Brenner over the end of postwar prosperity in the 1970s and the next quarter-century before the Great Recession, or the era of neoliberalism. In contrast to Brenner, who holds that capitalism entered a “long downturn” in the early 1970s, McNally maintains that industries maintained profitable growth when that post-war period ended in part through workplace restructuring like “lean production.” Take U.S. steel industrialists. They used technological means along with anti-union approaches and work speed-ups to wring profits and growth from their work forces. To be sure, capital flight to the Global South was and is part of that changing structure.

McNally, following Marx, has a two-fold definition of capital. It is the means of production, or factories, offices and machinery. At the same time, capital is a social relation of waged-laborers and their bosses. Each depends on buying and selling commodities—both people’s energy and the goods and services they create at work—in the marketplace to survive another day in a competitive and class-driven system. Against this backdrop, McNally historically situates the rising role of financial capitalism in President Nixon’s ending of the Bretton Woods post-war monetary arrangement. In effect, he decoupled the greenback from its gold backing and let the dollar “float” to its fluid price on world markets. Later, global financial speculation exploded. Wages stagnated. Debt skyrocketed. In the global north, (dis)organized workers would get credit lines instead of wage raises over the next twenty-five years. In brief, this toxic brew sparked social inequality. In the history of capitalism, this gap breeds systemic instability.

McNally focuses closely on the gender and racial oppression built into capitalism. This is a major strength of his book. Further, he surveys popular resistance movements, from China to Mexico, Guadeloupe, Martinique, France and the United States. The role of the U.S. military in enforcing the economic rule of American capital is sparse. Yet McNally has, concisely, delivered a radical description of a crippled and crippling social system. His prescription for a way of living that puts people first is clear-eyed and empowering for readers.

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Suspended Somewhere Between: A Review

by Manjula Kumar
Global India Newswire
December 21, 2011

From my childhood to adulthood poetry has been an illumination and a guiding force for seeking peace and solace. To love poetry is to love Life in all its myriad forms. Through history poetry has provided people with an instrument to seek love and harmony.

Throughout the world, poets from diverse cultures and nationalities have built bridges of understanding through the power of poetry. Each generation, while continuing in tradition, has found new expressions.

In our own times, the recently published book of poems Suspended Somewhere Between by Dr. Akbar Ahmed reflects on the woes of our contemporary society within a global context. This is his first book of poetry and it embodies the voice of a scholar, the pain of a historian, the depth of a diplomat, but most of all it is the voice of a deeply sensitive and caring human being.

The work embodies the experiences, emotions, thoughts and aspirations of an intellectual with an imagination and a painter's eye. The work is a blending of the East and the West—reminiscent of Sufi poets like Ghalib and Faiz with echoes of the Romantic poets—Shelley and Keats.

For a writer, poetry demands a different sensitivity. It demands the bearing of one's soul. It requires one to dig into the deepest crevices, and that is why the best poetry is a catharsis—a catharsis for the poet as well as the reader. Dr. Ahmed's poetry is a vivid example of such cleansing and healing for the poet and the reader.

The title of the anthology is based on the poem from the collection "Prospects." The intensity of the poet enables the reader to share, to empathize and to identify with the "suspension." All of us feel "suspended"—geographically, in time, between generations, between disparate cultures.

The deeper meaning in the poetry is the suspension—the pain and the challenges of living and struggling in today's society and the challenge we face to find the delicate balance between the spiritual and the material, the practical and the abstract.

Prospects


Suffering from the Siddhartha syndrome
modern urban man confronts his prospects:
secure with wife, child, house and car.
Serenity is what we strive for;
survival
what we settle on
suspended somewhere
between the two
with a confusing backdrop
of various cultural influences
we
invariably, ultimately
settle for
survival:


The collection is divided into five sections—Pakistan, Love, Islam, Echoes of History and Pensees and is written in free verse that allows for flexibility of expression. Dr. Ahmed's work is unpretentious but rings true, modest and sincere. There is no artificiality, no arbitrary chiseling; it simply touches the heart and uplifts the soul.

What is it that I seek?
I heard it in Rumi's poetry
I know it was in Gandhi's gaze
I sensed it is Mandela's oratory
I saw it in Jesus' ways


The collection embodies a wide range of topics from the first very personal autobiographical note "Train to Pakistan" to "The Song of China" from the highly evocative "Nauroz" to the romantic "Zeenat, Princess of my Heart." The tone varies from deeply introspective and reflective to the romantic and emotive as in:

To my Mother
when I know that at midnight
she sits up praying to her God
to keep me warm and whole,
when I know that she will still bless me
though I give her eyes cause to tears . . .


The first section dedicated to Pakistan is not just a historical documentation but a personal odyssey; often painful and thought-provoking but always caring. The poem "The Small Boy by the Road" evokes a real tragedy in our world of glaring inequalities:

Small Boy by the Road
enough of princes and presidents
let us hear
of
humans and human beings
of the small boy with black eye sockets
as big as his black beret
already worn
all ready for sleep.
But who knows
or cares


Dr. Ahmed, the historian is also a poetic painter as evident in the very powerful and intensely apocalyptic piece "They are taking them away." While based on actual history—the creation of Bangladesh in 1971—it rings a universal message about the horrors and the senselessness of war. The entire piece has an amazing cinematic quality that pulls at the heartstrings.

They are Taking them Away
have you ever seen
a child's head crushed like a coconut
or a proud man cry like a baby
women, like broken toys,
on the rail tracks to Santahar Junction
bright flags fluttering from their thighs
does it matter
which side did this
or why

Walking in the path of earlier Sufi poets and continuing the search for the divine through poetry Dr. Ahmed is constantly voicing a message of love, peace and harmony.

The Path

I see those who find the divine in the Ganges
Or on top of the Himalayas
They find the divine in the noble doings of Lord Rama
Yet others find other paths
I wish them all Godspeed
For all of them are part of the "nations and tribes"
That the Quran tells me I must love
So that I can love my God


Dr. Ahmed's deeply introspective and scholarly work is part of a Muslim collective—the ilm—and embodies his life-long passion for Knowledge. His strong individual voice is always working within the larger human framework. He never rejects his religion, he begs for a deeper understanding: he glorifies it and shares it with all humankind. His religion, while always personal and sacred has universal underpinnings, as in the following:

The Meeting

I saw
in the corner of my eye
a flash of colour
yellow, green and silver
a snake
the deadly village viper
it stood stock-still by the prayer mat
still as the world around me
and
as unreal
and in that eternity
we were suspended in
a perfect harmony of calm and poise:
man and animal;
we were one in the house of God

it waited for me
to turn my head in salaam
and when I looked
it had gone.

In a world torn by terror and violence, the clear, poignant and eloquent poetry of Dr. Ahmed is recommended reading—rather prescribed reading. This is not "escapism," it is a reiteration and a reaffirmation of Life. As we approach the holiday season, his vision for a new world and his message of Peace, Love, Humanity, Harmony and Understanding is a gift for all. This collection of poems will continue to inspire and heal generations to come. (Global India Newswire)

Manjula Kumar is a Program Director at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.

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Suspended Somewhere Between: A Review

by Mark Scheel
Common Ground News Service
January 10, 2012

Praising Ambassador Akbar Ahmed’s new book of poetry, Suspended Somewhere Between: A Book of Verse, Greg Mortenson, author of Three Cups of Tea, opined, “Anyone wanting to understand Islam today must read Akbar Ahmed’s collection. We are given rare glimpses into the dilemmas, pain and despair but ultimately love and hope of Muslims through the verses of this true renaissance man.” In a world that all too often seems fractured along religious and cultural lines, Ahmed's work provides an important model of what can be accomplished through interfaith understanding.

At a recent tour stop at the University of Missouri-Kansas City promoting his book, Ahmed, Ibn Khaldun Chair of Islamic Studies at American University in Washington, DC and former Pakistan Ambassador to the UK, explained that his life experiences, given artistic expression in this poetry collection, “reflect our situation today as we increasingly appear suspended somewhere between cultures, places, peoples, and periods in time.” One of humankind’s greatest challenges moving forward will be the quest for tolerance and mutual accommodation amongst all peoples and nations. And Ahmed reiterated his long-term commitment to that quest by promoting interfaith dialogue and bridge building among peoples of differing ethnicities and religious beliefs.

Described by the BBC as “the world’s leading authority on contemporary Islam,” Ahmed is also the First Distinguished Chair of Middle East and Islamic Studies at the US Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland and a nonresident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, a think tank in Washington, DC. These positions stand as a testament to his dedication in joining with leaders of other faiths to promote cooperative efforts and ventures in religious harmony and interfaith understanding.

In his 2007 book Journey into Islam: The Crisis of Globalization Ahmed chronicles his experiences leading a team of young Americans on a tour of the three major regions of the Muslim world: the Middle East, South Asia and East Asia. They administered detailed questionnaires to Muslims in each nation and sat through seminars, luncheons and casual conversations, engaging in candid exchanges about religious, political and cultural differences as well as discussing areas where they could potentially find common ground.

That effort led to a similar project with young Americans called Journey into America in which his team travelled to more than seventy-five cities and a hundred mosques seeking to understand the largely unexamined Muslim community in the United States. The study produced a film which has been shown at campuses and film festivals worldwide, as well as a book, Journey into America: The Challenge of Islam, published by Brookings Institution Press in 2010. As summarised on the Journey into America website, the study “explores and documents how Muslims are fitting into U.S. society, seeking to place the Muslim experience in the U.S. within the larger context of American identity. In doing so, it is a major contribution to the study of American history and culture.”

Employing different media to explore his message of peaceful coexistence, Ahmed has also ventured into drama and had his play Noor, which was described in the Washington Post as “a paean to religious tolerance”, performed on numerous stages. The story line relates the abduction of a young woman named Noor and her three brothers—a Sufi, a secular government bureaucrat, and a fundamentalist—who represent currents inside modern Muslim communities as Ahmed perceives them.

In the preface to his poetry collection Ahmed declares, “I have travelled much, seen much, suffered much and much have I enjoyed the people I met and the places I visited.” In the closing poem, titled “What is it that I seek?” we are offered a compelling summary in verse as to what leads to interfaith understanding and acceptance among those people encountered in his life’s travels:

“It is God’s greatest gift
It raises us high above
It is the bridge over the rift
It is love, love, love”

Mark Scheel is a writer and former editor based in Shawnee Mission, Kansas. He is presently writing a novel dealing with interfaith themes. This article was written for the Common Ground News Service (CGNews).

Source: Common Ground News Service (CGNews), January 10, 2012, www.commongroundnews.org. Copyright permission is granted for publication.

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A Brother with a Furious Mind

by Ron Jacobs
Counterpunch
January 2, 2012

In 1981, a group of revolutionaries robbed a Brink’s armored truck near Nyack, NY. In the ensuing confusion and attempt to flee, three people died from gunfire. A couple days later, one of the revolutionaries was killed by law enforcement. 

The robbery itself was planned and carried out by members of the Black Liberation Army: a group of former Black Panthers who had chosen armed struggle, and the May 19 Communist organization, which was founded by white revolutionaries also dedicated to armed struggle. One of those members was former Weather Underground member David Gilbert. Gilbert is currently serving a sentence of seventy-five years to life in the New York State prison system. Other May 19th members arrested in relation to the robbery have been paroled or pardoned.

This month PM Press, the Oakland, CA. publisher founded by AK Press founder Ramsey Kanaan and others, is publishing Gilbert’s memoirs. The book, titled Love and Struggle: My Life in SDS, the Weather Underground, and Beyond, is certain to be included in the top tier of books having to do with the period of U.S. history known as the '60s. There is no self-pity within these pages , but lots of self-reflection. In what can only be considered a refreshing approach, Gilbert takes full responsibility for the path he has chosen and explains that path in an intelligently political manner and with a decidedly leftist understanding. Love and Struggle combines objective history, personal memory, and a critical perspective into a narrative that is at once an adventuresome tale and a political guide through the past fifty years.

Gilbert begins his story by describing his youth and his developing awareness that the United States was not what he had been led to believe it was. An Eagle Scout who believed the myths inherent in American exceptionalism, he was unprepared for the cognitive dissonance he underwent while watching the attacks by law enforcement on civil rights marchers in the U.S. South. That sense of conflict deepened when he headed off to Columbia University. By 1965, angered by the U.S. war on the Vietnamese and armed with a well-researched understanding of why the United States was really involved there, Gilbert was organizing Columbia students to join antiwar protests. Like many of his contemporaries, by 1968 he was an anti-imperialist and working full-time against the war in Vietnam and racism in the United States. By 1969, he was one of the original members of Weatherman and by April 1970 he was underground.

Gilbert tells his story with a hard-learned humility. Occasionally interjecting his personal life—his loves and failures, his relationship with his family—with his political journey, it is the politics which are foremost in this memoir. A true revolutionary, every other aspect of Gilbert’s life is subsumed to the revolution.  This kind of life is not an easy one. Indeed, it arguably makes the life of an ascetic monk look easy by comparison. After all, the monk is only trying to change himself, while the committed revolutionary wants to change the world into one where justice prevails; a world that by its very structure resists such change.

Love and Struggle
carefully examines the history of the periods Gilbert has lived in. From the early days of the antiwar movement and the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) to the public street-fighting arrogance of early Weatherman; from Weatherman’s transition to the Weather Underground Organization (WUO) and its growing isolation from the New Left it was a part of; and from the post-Vietnam war U.S. left to the Brink robbery and its aftermath, Gilbert keeps the politics front and center in his text. In his discussion of the period between Weather’s publication of its essential work Prairie Fire and its immediate aftermath, Gilbert provides an insight into the debates inside WUO and among its supporters in the years after the peace treaty was signed with northern Vietnam. His portrayal of the differences around theory being debated in the WUO serve as a broader description of the debates raging throughout the new left as the US intervention in Vietnam’s anti-colonial struggle neared its end. For those of us who were politically involved at the time, the debates ring with familiarity: national liberation over class; the interaction between race and class in the United States; the oppression of women and white male privilege. In a testimony to his writing abilities, Gilbert’s discussion of the issues makes them as alive in this book as those arguments actually were in the mid- 1970s. His keen political sense reveals the interplay between different political perspectives, understandings of history, and the always present contests of ego. The political arguments outlined by Gilbert (especially when describing the battle inside WUO) are still relevant today. Their echoes are present in the General Assemblies of the Occupy Wall Street movement and in forums more specific and less specific across the nation. Gilbert’s presentation of the essential WUO arguments that challenges the overriding role of class in the nature of oppression is not only reasoned and impassioned, it is worth studying and makes points useful to the future of anti-imperialist struggle in the United States. Furthermore, the book includes an ongoing and excellent discussion of the nature of white supremacy and white skin privilege. For anyone who has spent time involved in the Occupy movement the past few months, the relevance of this latter discussion is all too familiar.

For those looking for a sensationalist account of life as a revolutionary or a confession, they should look elsewhere.  David Gilbert’s memoir is a political account of a political life. Every action undertaken, every decision made is examined via the eye of a leftist revolutionary. This does not mean there are no page-turning moments in the book, however. Indeed, the sections describing Weather’s move underground and Gilbert’s daily life off the grid are interesting and revealing, as are those describing the attempts by WUO members to evade capture. The descriptions of Gilbert’s clandestine life and his subsequent moving back aboveground and then back under are also riveting.

Underlying the entire narrative is a current of what is best described as self-criticism; of Weather, the New Left, armed struggle and, ultimately, of Gilbert himself. As anyone who has experienced something akin to a self-criticism session can attest, such sessions can be emotionally wrenching episodes of retribution and petty anger. They can also be tremendously useful when conducted humanely. Gilbert’s written attempts at this exercise in Love and Struggle lean toward the latter expression while also proviing interesting and useful considerations to the aforementioned issues (along with issues related to those criticisms). Gilbert’s realization that his ego occasionally caused him to make decisions that weren’t based on politically sound rationales is something any radical leader should take into account.  In fact, Gilbert’s continuing struggle with his ego and it’s place in the decisions he made while free reminded me of a maxim relayed to me a couple times in my life; once by an organizer for the Revolutionary Union in Maryland and once by a friend from the Hog Farm commune. That maxim is simply: if you start believing that the revolution can’t exist without you, then it’s time to leave center stage and go back to doing grunt work where nobody knows (or cares) who you are. In other words, you are not the revolution so take your ego out of it.

In the well-considered catalog of books dealing honestly with the period of history known as the Sixties in the United States, Love and Struggle is an important addition. Borrowing his technique from memoir, confession, and objective history-telling, David Gilbert has provided the reader of history with the tale of a person and a time. Simultaneously, he has given the reader inclined to political activism a useful, interesting, and well-told example of one human’s revolutionary commitment to social change no matter what the cost.

Ron Jacobs is the author of The Way the Wind Blew: a History of the Weather Underground and Short Order Frame Up. Jacobs’ essay on Big Bill Broonzy is featured in Counterpunch’s collection on music, art and sex, Serpents in the Garden. His collection of essays and other musings titled Tripping Through the American Night is now available and his new novel is The Co-Conspirator’s Tale. He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion, forthcoming from AK Press. He can be reached at: ronj1955@gmail.com.

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Spain: Model for Anarchist Organizing

by David Porter
The 5th Estate
Spring 2012

The Spanish anarchist movement and revolution of the late 1930s are undoubtedly the historical force and context most praised by Western anarchists.

In absolute numbers, in proportion of the overall population they were part of, and in the radical transformation they accomplished in much of Spanish society, the reputation is well deserved.

Highlighting their accomplishments, José Peirats, the author of the best history (in three volumes) of the immense Spanish anarcho-syndicalist Confederación Nacional del Trabajo (CNT), states as well that, “We write for history’s sake and also for the purpose of enlightening future generations of fighters.” For this reason also, he says, “none of the mistakes made by workers should be glossed over in silence.”

It is critical that contemporary anarchists accept his advice. This recently published first volume of the English translation of his definitive work is an excellent place to begin.

This volume, translated by Paul Sharkey and Chris Ealham and extensively edited by the latter, provides exceptionally well documented insight into the Spanish anarcho-syndicalist movement’s first tumultuous decades as well as its internal ideological struggles and organizational variety.

It continues with the CNT’s initial experience in fighting Spanish fascist/Nationalist forces while simultaneously constructing the beginnings of libertarian communism in the Civil War and Revolution of the 1930s.

Several months after a Left coalition electoral victory in February 1936, Spanish military and Rightist political forces launched a violent revolt to overthrow the new government. Anarchists (and others) immediately resisted his effort in direct street clashes throughout Spain.

In Catalonia, where the CNT was the largest force on the Left, and elsewhere in the center and east of Spain, Leftist forces prevailed. Soon thereafter, front lines were established that divided Spain down the middle and more traditional warfare began.

Ealham’s detailed historical and documentary knowledge, as well as his political understanding of the continued relevance of Peirats’ account, significantly help in comprehending and appreciating the common political issues between the historical subjects discussed and contemporary readers. Ealham’s detailed notes and commentary bring up-to-date, and greatly add, to both the book’s scholarly and political activist dimensions.

Additionally, Ealham’s rich introductory account of the genesis of the original work published in 1951 and Peirats’ immense travails to complete it in conditions of post-Civil War exile, poverty and repression, provide a sobering contrast to the relative comfort of most present-day anarchist historians.

Long-time Fifth Estate staff member, Federico Arcos, who fought against the fascists in his native Spain, provided crucial assistance for the Meltzer Press original 2001 British publication of this translation as well as extensive valuable photographic resources whose images bring the text even more to life.

In our present context of spreading popular uprisings against the tightening screws of sick and increasingly desperate and repressive capitalism, this account is most timely. How Spanish anarchists created a massive working class revolutionary organization in the midst of a capitalist society, the nature of the social transformation they envisaged, and the struggle to maintain the integrity of organizational principles and objectives in the midst of civil war and betrayal by political “allies” are all critical issues for the contemporary movement of anarchists and anti-authoritarians.

Peirats, as the documentary historian, provides rich and detailed accounts of the debates. At the same time, as the experienced revolutionary activist, he conveys the passions, ideals and perilous myths lived at the grassroots level.

Peirats’ discussion and the events in Spain raise basic questions about what is and what makes a revolution. Is it realistic to hope for a single emancipating occurrence or is it instead a long-range and never-ending process of significant anti-hierarchical ruptures that break through the established forms of dominance faced in their specificities by each generation and social context? Alternatively, as the Spanish example suggests, the very potential for a deep revolutionary transformation at any historical juncture depends on both a long series of social ruptures over previous decades as well as a propitious immediate context of external factors.

While the Left electoral victory and subsequent civil war in 1936 opened up social space in areas of anarchist preponderance for revolutionary economic and social forms, the Left government and the war itself also imposed intense hierarchical demands of their own through repressive threats, dependence on foreign support, and the nature of violence itself.

The CNT, the anarcho-syndicalist mass revolutionary labor union founded in 1910, is the focus of Peirats’ history. But Spanish anarchism was both part of and partly separate from the CNT. This ambiguity between more purist anarchists (most prominently the FAI, the Iberian Anarchist Federation, founded in 1927) and the mass anarcho-syndicalist union movement provided much of the ongoing tension within Spanish anarchism before and during the 1930s.

Creating and maintaining a mass organization, however, inspired and led by veteran anarchists, brought forth issues of practical coordination of large numbers of workers, differing revolutionary commitment levels among those with and without anarchist backgrounds, and the difficulty of wielding decisive political power in the midst of various competing political parties and a rival socialist mass union movement, the UGT, without corrupting the anti-statist nature of the anarchist ideal and practice. In Spain at that time, the CNT represented by far the largest political force of anarchist inspiration. However, its claim to privileged influence over the strategy and goals of Spanish anarchism was constantly in dispute by those critical of its decisions or those anarchists not committed to a syndicalist orientation. Because of its very size and dynamism, whatever direction the CNT took usually had important repercussions on all anarchists, whether CNT members or not.

This was an important authority issues in itself. Authority disputes also emerged between historic leaders as well as between those who did and those who did not partake in violent direct action initiatives before 1936. Aside from this was the potential for CNT institutional bureaucratization and defensive leadership styles, especially after the fateful decision in 1936 to join newly created anti-fascist unity governments at national, provincial, and local levels, despite the CNT's diligent traditional commitment to decentralist and anti-elitist organizational principles and grassroots accountability.

As French anarchist Sébastian Faure observed, the result of the CNT’s governmental collaboration was that, “the impulse no longer emanates from the base but from the upper echelon; guidelines do not emanate from the masses but from the leadership.”

From the late 1920s through the entire Spanish Civil War and Revolution, and the defeat of both in 1939 (and later postwar exile), the issue of whether and how much this anti-statist movement should collaborate (including electoral voting in 1931, 1933 and 1936) with non-anarchist political forces (left and liberal parties and unions) was constantly debated and caused fundamental splits within the movement.

The high-stakes volatility connected to this debate was all the greater in desperate contexts of potential and real massive repression from rightist forces, especially during the Civil War itself.

The dilemma was inevitable for a movement which, however strong, was only a large minority within the over- all population, which was committed against imposing its own dictatorship on others and which, nevertheless, was under violent attack by state, capitalist and aristocratic forces.

When collaboration logic was accepted, even to the point of allowing four anarchist leaders to become ministers of the wartime central government, anarchists faced additional continued problems of how much to compromise the ideal of libertarian revolutionary self-direction in the face of alliance partners (liberal Republicans, Socialists, and Communists) whose leaders were committed to power aggrandizement (and, with the Stalinists, frequently to persecution of anarchists) at every turn, even in the midst of the deadly civil war. The consequences of repression and sabotage of anarchists’ military efforts and the rural revolutionary collectives in the Aragon area by their supposedly anti-fascist allies (especially the Communists) were enormously bitter and costly, as well described in this volume.

As Peirats states, “The CNT had glided into an uninterrupted avalanche of concessions. It was hard to get off this slippery slope. It had to do battle on terrain utterly different from its own . . . The CNT, heroic and invincible in the union, the factory and the streets, was easy prey in the salons and corridors of the ministries.”

Nevertheless, at the grassroots, Spanish anarchists had succeeded in launching remarkable and unprecedented widespread egalitarian and communitarian efforts in industrial, agricultural, educational and other realms, especially in areas of their greatest strength—Catalonia, Aragon, and Valencia.

A deeper issue of collaboration in this volume is concerned with to what extent and at what price could the anarchist movement reciprocate against repression and social oppression with violent retaliation, resistance and revolution of its own. In the face of assassinations and imprisonment of anarchists and state repression of various forms of anarchist expression, the growing polarization between non-violent (such as education, publishing, strikes and demonstrations) and violent alternatives was a continuing reality of the movement in the 1920s and 1930s.

It culminated in anarchists’ determined reaction with arms to the fascist insurrection in July 1936. As influential militant Diego Abad de Santillan later stated, “We knew that victory in the revolution was not possible without victory in the war and for the war’s sake we sacrificed everything. We even sacrificed the revolution itself, not realizing that this sacrifice also implied the sacrifice of our war aims.”

As Ealham emphasizes, Peirats’ history has been an essential starting place for understanding the Spanish Civil War and Revolution, from the time of its first publication to the present. In my view, it also provides a broad introduction to essential traits, dynamics, issues, and dilemmas of the anarchist movement generally. This new North American edition gives access to a new generation and a new community of readers and well serves Peirats’ original intent. FE

David Porter is a retired SUNY professor of history and political science and the editor of Vision on Fire: Emma Goldman on the Spanish Revolution. He is the translator and author of Eyes to the South: French Anarchists and Algeria, a grassroots history of the past six decades of Algerian history from the perspectives of the French anarchist movement, released by AK Press in November 2011.

Buy book now | Buy e-Book now | Back to José Peirats Valls Page | Back to Chris Ealhams Page




Kersplebedeb


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A radical distro under the name Kersplebedeb, produces agit prop materials as well as important (if underappreciated!) political books and pamphlets. Kersplebedeb is a non-sectarian project, but attempts to explore anti-patriarchal and anti-imperialist politics within an anti-capitalist framework.

1. Creating a Movement with Teeth: A Documentary History of the George Jackson Brigade — Edited by Daniel Burton-Rose
2. Let Freedom Ring: A Collection of Documents from the Movements to Free U.S. Political Prisoners — Edited By Matt Meyer
3. From the Bottom of the Heap: The Autobiography of Black Panther Robert Hillary King — Robert Hillary King
4. The Red Army Faction: A Documented History Volume 1: Projectiles for the People — J. Smith and Andre Monocourt
5. Prison Round Trip — Klaus Viehmann
6. Daring To Struggle, Failing To Win: The Red Army Faction's 1977 Campaign Of Desperation — J. Smith and André Moncourt

    

 

 

 

 

Creating a Movement with Teeth: A Documentary History of the George Jackson Brigade
Edited by Daniel Burton-Rose with Preface by Ward Churchill
Publisher: PM Press
ISBN: 978-1-60486-223-2
Published: September 2010
Format: Paperback
Size: 9 by 6
Page count: 320
Subjects: Politics-Activism, History-US
$24.95

Bursting into existence in the Pacific Northwest in 1975, the George Jackson Brigade claimed fourteen pipe bombings against corporate and state targets, as many bank robberies, and the daring rescue of a jailed member. Combining veterans of the prisoners' women’s, gay, and black liberation movements, this organization was also ideologically diverse, consisting of both communists and anarchists. Concomitant with the Brigade's extensive armed work were prolific public communications. In more than a dozen communiqués and a substantial political statement, they sought to explain their intentions to the public while defying the law enforcement agencies that pursued them.

Collected in one volume for the first time, Creating a Movement with Teeth makes available this body of propaganda and mediations on praxis. In addition, the collection assembles corporate media profiles of the organization’s members and alternative press articles in which partisans thrash out the heated debates sparked in the progressive community by the eruption of an armed group in their midst. Creating a Movement with Teeth illuminates a forgotten chapter of the radical social movements of the 1970s in which diverse interests combined forces in a potent rejection of business as usual in the United States.

Praise:

"Creating a Movement with Teeth is an important contribution to the growing body of literature on armed struggle in the 1970s. It gets us closer to knowing not only how pervasive militant challenges to the system were, but also the issues and contexts that shaped such strategies. Through documents by and about the George Jackson Brigade, as well as the introduction by Daniel Burton-Rose, this book sheds light on events that have until now been far too obscured."
—Dan Berger, author of Outlaws of America: The Weather Underground and the Politics of Solidarity; editor of The Hidden 1970s: Histories of Radicalism.

"Daniel Burton-Rose's documentary history of the George Jackson Brigade offers the reader a rare first-hand account of a militant movement's attempt to communicate and refine the intent of its actions. The volume focuses on the 1970s, when revolution seemed imminent to those engaged in 'the struggle.' It contains a marvelous array of surveillance reports, feature articles in mainstream newspapers, on-the-spot communiqués directed both to the Brigade's constituency on the Left and to the impacted public, and many print volleys between the groups on the subject of violence. Suddenly this hidden history comes alive, nuanced, open to interpretation with the actual documents in hand. Burton-Rose's helpful annotations and his thoughtful retrospective interview with several of the members of the group underscores his deep understanding of the period, the people, and the issues that remain compelling as revealed by the mix of remorse, self-criticism, as well as consistent conviction. The Brigade's use of international and historical revolutionaries as points of reference, also makes this book an valuable resource for a wide range of issue relevant to studies of the past, present, and sadly, the future."
—Candace Falk, PhD, Director of The Emma Goldman Papers, and Editor of Emma Goldman, A Documentary History of the American Years, Volume 1: Made for America, 1890-1901 and Volume 2, Making Speech Free, 1902-1909.

"The popular image of the 70s urban guerrilla, even on the left, is that of the student radical or New Left youth activist kicking it up a couple of notches. Daniel Burton-Rose’s documentary history of the George Jackson Brigade is an important corrective in this regard. The Brigade, rooted in prison work, white and black, straights, bisexuals and dykes, was as rich a mixture of the elements making up the left as one could perhaps hope for. We all have much to learn form the Brigade’s rich and unique history." 
—André Moncourt,  Co-editor of The Red Army Faction: A Documentary History.

"A deep dig into the victories and errors of this important yet often overlooked revolutionary group. 'Information a hundred times more powerful than any bomb.'" —G. Filastine, interventionist, Infernal Noise Brigade.


About the Authors:

Daniel Burton-Rose (Editor) is the author of Guerrilla USA: The George Jackson Brigade and the Anti-capitalist Underground of the 1970s and the co-editor of Confronting Capitalism: Dispatches from a Global Movement, and The Celling of America: An Inside Look at the U.S. Prison Industry.

Ward Churchill (Preface) is a prolific writer and lecturer, having authored, co-authored, or edited over twenty books. He is a member of the leadership council of Colorado AIM.

Buy book now | Download e-Book now | Daniel Burton Rose's Page

 

Let Freedom Ring: A Collection of Documents from the Movements to Free U.S. Political Prisoners
Editor: Matt Meyer
Foreword by Nobel Peace Laureate Adolfo Perez Esquivel
Afterwords by Ashanti Alston and Lynne Stewart
Publisher: PM Press/Kersplebedeb
Published: September 2008
ISBN: 978-1-60486-035-1
Format: Paperback
Page Count: 912
Dimensions: 6 by 9
Subjects: Politics, Prison Abolition
$37.95

Let Freedom Ring presents a two-decade sweep of essays, analyses, histories, interviews, resolutions, People’s Tribunal verdicts, and poems by and about the scores of U.S. political prisoners and the campaigns to safeguard their rights and secure their freedom. In addition to an extensive section on the campaign to free death-row journalist Mumia Abu-Jamal, represented here are the radical movements that have most challenged the U.S. empire from within: Black Panthers and other Black liberation fighters, Puerto Rican independentistas, Indigenous sovereignty activists, white anti-imperialists, environmental and animal rights militants, Arab and Muslim activists, Iraq war resisters, and others. Contributors in and out of prison detail the repressive methods—from long-term isolation to sensory deprivation to politically inspired parole denial—used to attack these freedom fighters, some still caged after thirty-plus years. This invaluable resource guide offers inspiring stories of the creative, and sometimes winning, strategies to bring them home.

Contributors include:  Mumia Abu-Jamal, Dan Berger, Dhoruba Bin-Wahad, Bob Lederer, Terry Bisson, Laura Whitehorn, Safiya Bukhari, The San Francisco 8, Angela Davis, Bo Brown, Bill Dunne, Jalil Muntaqim, Susie Day, Luis Nieves Falcón, Ninotchka Rosca, Meg Starr, Assata Shakur, Jill Soffiyah Elijah, Jan Susler, Chrystos, Jose Lopez, Leonard Peltier, Marilyn Buck, Oscar López Rivera, Sundiata Acoli, Ramona Africa, Linda Thurston, Desmond Tutu, Mairead Corrigan Maguire and many more.

Reviews:

"Within every society there are people who, at great personal risk and sacrifice, stand up and fight for the most marginalized among us. We call these people of  courage, spirit and love, our heroes and heroines. This book is the story of the ones in our midst. It is the story of the best we are." —asha bandele, poet and author of The Prisoner's Wife

“This extraordinary volume powerfully and eloquently brings together the voices of so many U.S. political prisoners. Taken one at a time, the stories, poems, communiqués, and analyses are not only heartbreaking in the suffering, courage and indomitable fortitude they manifest, but also paint a clear and damning picture of routine U.S. repression. When read as a whole, this book can do no other than inspire a new generation of activists and revolutionaries to free these prisoners and to bring down this whole wretched system of exploitation, theft, and murder. Thank you to the editors and to the contributors, and thank you most especially to the political prisoners themselves, who are giving their lives and are teaching us by their example how to be free men and women.” —Derrick Jensen, activist and author of How Shall I Live My Life

"As a convicted felon, I have been prevented from visiting many people in prison today. But none of us should be stopped from the vital work of prison abolition and freeing the many who the U.S. holds for political reasons. Let Freedom Ring helps make their voices heard, and presents strategies to help win their release." —Daniel Berrigan SJ, former Plowshares political prisoner and member of the FBI Top Ten Most Wanted List.

About the Editor:

Matt Meyer is an educator-activist, based in New York City. Founding PJSA Co-Chair along with USF Dean Jennifer Turpin, Meyer has long worked to bring together academics and activists for lasting social change. A former public draft registration resister and chair of the War Resisters League, he continues to serve as convener of the War Resisters International Africa Working Group. With Bill Sutherland, Meyer authored Guns and Gandhi in Africa: Pan-African Insights on Nonviolence, Armed Struggle and Liberation. He has edited the Fellowship of Reconciliation's "Puerto Rico: The Cost of Colonialism;" War in Africa and an African Peace; and the forthcoming two-volume Seeds of New Hope: African Peace Studies for the 21st Century.

Buy book now | Buy e-Book Now | Matt Meyer's Page

 
From the Bottom of the Heap: The Autobiography of Black Panther Robert Hillary King
Author: Robert Hillary King
Introduction by Terry Kupers
Publisher: PM Press
Published: September 2008
ISBN: 978-1-60486-039-9
Format: Hardcover
Page Count: 224
Dimensions: 6 by 9
Subjects: Biography, Politics, Prison Abolition
$24.95

Winner of the 2008 PASS Award (Prevention for a Safer Society) from the National Council on Crime and Delinquency.

In 1970, a jury convicted Robert Hillary King of a crime he did not commit and sentenced him to thirty-five years in prison. He became a member of the Black Panther Party while in Angola State Penitentiary, successfully organizing prisoners to improve conditions. In return, prison authorities beat him, starved him, and gave him life without parole after framing him for a second crime. He was thrown into solitary confinement, where he remained in a six by nine foot cell for twenty-nine years as one of the Angola 3. In 2001, the state grudgingly acknowledged his innocence and set him free. This is his story.

It begins at the beginning: born black, born poor, born in Louisiana in1942, King journeyed to Chicago as a hobo at the age of fifteen. He married and had a child, and briefly pursued a semi-pro boxing career to help provide for his family. Just a teenager when he entered the Louisiana penal system for the first time, King tells of his attempts to break out of this system, and his persistent pursuit of justice where there is none.

Yet this remains a story of inspiration and courage, and the triumph of the human spirit. The conditions in Angola almost defy description, yet King never gave up his humanity, or the work towards justice for all prisoners that he continues to do today. From the Bottom of the Heap, so simply and humbly told, strips bare the economic and social injustices inherent in our society, while continuing to be a powerful literary testimony to our own strength and capacity to overcome.

Reviews:

"For a person to go through twenty-nine years in one of the most brutal prisons in America and still maintain his sanity and humanity, that's what makes people want to listen to Robert."
--Malik Rahim, Co-Founder of Common Ground Collective

"Friendships are forged in strange places. My friendship with Robert King and the other two  Angola 3 men Herman Wallace and  Albert Woodfox is based on respect. These men, as Robert reveals in this stunning account of his life, have fought tirelessly to redress injustice, not only for themselves, but for others. This is a battle Robert is determined to win and we are  determined to help him."
—Gordon Roddick,  activist and co-founder of The Body Shop

"When there is a train wreck, there is a public inquiry, to try to avoid it recurring. Robert King's conviction was a train wreck, and this book is perhaps the only way the world will get to understand why. There are more than 3,000 people serving life without the possibility of parole in Angola today, some as young as fourteen when they were sent there, and many of them innocent but without the lawyer to prove it. We owe it to them, and others in a similar plight around the world, to read this book."
—Clive Stafford Smith, Director of Reprieve

Buy book now | Download e-Book now | Robert Hillary King's Page 

 

The Red Army Faction, A Documentary History - Volume 1: Projectiles For the People
Edited by J. Smith and André Moncourt
Forewords by Russell "Maroon" Shoats and Bill Dunne
Published by PM Press and Kersplebedeb
ISBN: 978-1-60486-029-0
Pub Date February 2009
Format: Paperback
Page Count: 736 pages
Size: 6 by 9
Subjects: Politics, Armed Struggle
$34.95

The first in a two-volume series, this is by far the most in-depth political history of the Red Army Faction ever made available in English.

Projectiles for the People starts its story in the days following World War II, showing how American imperialism worked hand in glove with the old pro-Nazi ruling class, shaping West Germany into an authoritarian anti-communist bulwark and launching pad for its aggression against Third World nations. The volume also recounts the opposition that emerged from intellectuals, communists, independent leftists, and then—explosively—the radical student movement and countercultural revolt of the 1960s.

It was from this revolt that the Red Army Faction emerged, an underground organization devoted to carrying out armed attacks within the Federal Republic of Germany, in the view of establishing a tradition of illegal, guerilla resistance to imperialism and state repression. Through its bombs and manifestos the RAF confronted the state with opposition at a level many activists today might find difficult to imagine.

For the first time ever in English, this volume presents all of the manifestos and communiqués issued by the RAF between 1970 and 1977, from Andreas Baader’s prison break, through the 1972 May Offensive and the 1975 hostage-taking in Stockholm, to the desperate, and tragic, events of the “German Autumn” of 1977. The RAF’s three main manifestos—The Urban Guerilla Concept, Serve the People, and Black September—are included, as are important interviews with Spiegel and le Monde Diplomatique, and a number of communiqués and court statements explaining their actions.

Providing the background information that readers will require to understand the context in which these events occurred, separate thematic sections deal with the 1976 murder of Ulrike Meinhof in prison, the 1977 Stammheim murders, the extensive use of psychological operations and false-flag attacks to discredit the guerilla, the state’s use of sensory deprivation torture and isolation wings, and the prisoners’ resistance to this, through which they inspired their own supporters and others on the left to take the plunge into revolutionary action.

Drawing on both mainstream and movement sources, this book is intended as a contribution to the comrades of today—and to the comrades of tomorrow—both as testimony to those who struggled before and as an explanation as to how they saw the world, why they made the choices they made, and the price they were made to pay for having done so.

Praise:

Of all the revolutionary organizations to have been forged by the so-called sixties generation, the German Red Army Faction has been perhaps the most mythologized and maligned. Here at last is their story, told in their own words through “official” communications, comprehensively assembled and available for the first time in English translation. This is essential material for anyone wishing to know what they did, why they did it, and to draw consequent lessons from their experience. —Ward Churchill author of On the Justice of Roosting Chickens

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Prison Round Trip
Author: Klaus Viehmann Preface by Bill Dunne and Introduction by Gabriel Kuhn
Publisher: PM Press/Kersplebedeb
Published: April 2009
ISBN: 978-1-60486-082-5
Format: Pamphlet
Page Count: 28
Dimensions: 8.5 by 5.5
Subjects: Prison Abolition, Activism
$4.95

Bang. The door to your cell is shut. You have survived the arrest, you are mad that you weren’t more careful, you worry that they will get others too, you wonder what will happen to your group and whether a lawyer has been called yet—of course you show none of this. The weapon, the fake papers, your own clothes, all gone. The prison garb and the shoes they’ve thrown at you are too big—maybe because they want to play silly games with you, maybe because they really blow “terrorists” out of proportion in their minds—and the control over your own appearance taken out of your hands. You look around, trying to get an understanding of where you’ll spend the next few years of your life.

Prison Round Trip was first published in German in 2003 as “Einmal Knast und zurück.” The essay’s author, Klaus Viehmann, had been released from prison ten years earlier, after completing a fifteen-year sentence for his involvement in urban guerilla activities in Germany in the 1970s. The essay was subsequently reprinted in various forums. It is a reflection on prison life and on how to keep one’s sanity and political integrity within the hostile and oppressive prison environment; “survival strategies” are its central theme.

“Einmal Knast und zurück” soon found an audience extending beyond Germany’s borders. Thanks to translations by comrades and radical distribution networks, it has since been eagerly discussed amongst political prisoners from Spain to Greece. This is the first time the text is available to a wider English-speaking audience.

 “Klaus’s take on survival strategy tells us we can not only survive thusly but can as well continue to serve the cause of liberation—which are really the same thing. We can be captured without giving in or giving up.” —From the Preface by North American political prisoner Bill Dunne

About the Author:

Klaus Viehmann spent fifteen years in West German prisons after his arrest in 1978 for various activities carried out by the anarchist 2nd of June Movement. While in prison he wrote an essay that became the centerpiece of the book Drei zu Eins (“Three to One”), published in 1991. The book introduced the concept of “triple oppression”—the interrelations between class, gender and race in oppressive social structures—to a radical German-speaking audience, and proved highly influential, especially in autonomist circles. Since his release Viehmann has been active in various left-wing projects, including solidarity campaigns for World War II forced laborers and Colombian trade unionists. He remains involved in numerous publishing activities, as an author, translator, and a graphic designer. He is also co-editor of two extensive volumes documenting the history of autonomist political poster art in Germany: Hoch die Kampf Dem (1999) and Vorwärts bis zum Nieder Mit (2001). His home is once again Berlin—today officially undivided, but, as he puts it, “a place where a lot needs to be done."

Buy pamphlet now | Download e-Pamphlet now

 

Daring To Struggle, Failing To Win: The Red Army Faction's 1977 Campaign Of Desperation
Written by J. Smith and André Moncourt
Publisher: PM Press/Kersplebedeb
ISBN: 978-1-60486-028-3
Pub Date: July 2008
Format: PDF, ePUB, Mobi
Page Count: 44 Pages
Size: 8.5 by 5.5
Subjects: Politics, Armed Struggle
$5.95

In 1970 a small group of West German revolutionaries decided to go underground, to set up safe houses, and learn the skills of the urban guerilla. They were the Red Army Faction.

Seven years later, almost all of the original combatants were in prison or dead, yet, through their example, they had inspired a militant and illegal support movement, comrades willing to take up arms in defense of the prisoners.

1977 was to be a year of reckoning. Through daring attacks and devastating errors, the West German guerilla brought their society to the brink, mounting one of the most desperate and incredible campaigns of asymmetrical warfare ever waged in postwar Europe. That they failed is no excuse to not learn their story, to see who they were and what they fought for—and, most tragically, to bear witness to the lengths the state would go to silence them. This pamphlet is our very modest introduction to this story.

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Reach and Teach


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Reach and Teach is a peace and social justice learning company, transforming the world through teachable moments.

 

An inspiring company that also has a fantastic store in San Mateo, California—
The Dove & Olive Works. Even if you can't drop in, you can visit them online at www.reachandteach.com

"Call it a social justice/education store/community center mashup. It's not like any other store or non-profit center around, which makes categorizing this new enterprise a little challenging—in a good way . . ." — Pam Marino, GoodNeighborStories.com

1. Ivy, Homeless in San Francisco —Summer Brenner and Brian Bowes
2. Operation Marriage — Cynthia Chin-Lee and Lea Lyon
3. Sometimes the Spoon Runs Away with Another Spoon Coloring Book — Jacinta Bunnell and Nathaniel Kusinitz
4. Girls are Not Chicks Coloring Book — Jacinta Bunnell and Julie Novak
5. Abe in Arms — Pegi Deitz Shea

    

 

 

 

 

Ivy, Homeless in San Francisco
Author: Summer Brenner
Illustrator: Brian Bowes
Publisher: PM Press / Reach And Teach
ISBN: 978-1-60486-317-8
Published June 2011
Format: Paperback
Size: 9 by 6
Page count: 176 Pages
Subjects: Fiction, Social Science (Ages 10 and up)
$15.00

In this empathetic tale of hope, understanding, and the importance of family, readers face the difficult issue of poverty and the many hardships of being homeless through an inspiring young heroine named Ivy. Ivy is the story of a young girl who finds herself homeless on the streets of San Francisco when she and her father, Poppy, are evicted from his artist loft.

Struggling to survive day to day, Ivy and Poppy befriend a dog who takes them to the ramshackle home of quirky siblings Eugenia and Oscar Orr, marking the start of some amazing adventures. Blending a spoonful of Charles Dickens' Oliver Twist with a dash of Armistead Maupin's Tales of the City and a few pinches of the Adventures of Lassie, Ivy's tale will appeal to young readers as well as give adults material to discuss with children.

Praise:

“Lolitas, Oliver Twists and Huckleberry Finns live on, and now, Ivy’s tale of hope lives right alongside them.” —Robin Clewly, San Francisco Chronicle

“A quirky, clever story about a young girl’s journey through the streets and homeless shelters of San Francisco . . . Ivy is fictional, but her circumstances are honest reflections of life for the many homeless children.” —San Jose Mercury News

"All the parts fit in so well that I almost forgot that I was reading a book. It was as if I was watching a movie and could hear their thoughts . . . I think this book is great for all ages. Ivy is both fun and moving."  —Anna Moss, age 12  Boston, MA

"Ivy was one of the best books I have ever read. I liked it because it taught an important lesson of faith and trust." —Rachel Hodge, age 13. Savannah, GA

About the Authors:

Summer Brenner was raised in Georgia and migrated west, first to New Mexico and eventually to northern California where she has been a long-time resident. She has published books of both poetry and fiction, for adults and children, and given scores of readings in the United States, France, and Japan. In addition to Ivy, her nine books include: Richmond Tales, I-5, and The Soft Room.

Brian Bowes is an illustrator–designer living and working in San Francisco. Brian is developing a working style in watercolor and is inspired by a range of artists, from Wyeth to Asian ink paintings. Alternately this is mixed with his long love for Science Fiction, Fantasy, and  a healthy fascination with shiny old-time machinery.

Buy book now | Download e-Book now | Summer Brenner's Page

 

Operation Marriage
Author: Cynthia Chin-Lee
Illustrations: Lea Lyon
Publisher: PM Press/Reach and Teach
ISBN: 978-1-60486-422-9
Published: October 2011
Format: Hardcover
Size: 8.5 by 11
Page count: 32 Pages
Subjects: Children's Picture Book, Family
$14.95

Eight-year old Alex has a fight with her best friend, Zach, who says he can no longer be her friend. Why? Because "her parents aren't married." Set in the San Francisco Bay Area months before the passage of Proposition 8 banning gay marriage in California, this picture book looks at the heartwarming and humorous actions of Alex and her younger brother, Nicky, to convince their parents to get married.

Though content with a commitment ceremony years earlier, the childrens' stubbornness prevails and the moms get legally married before Prop. 8 takes effect. Their love as a family is contagious as their neighbors begin to accept them for what they are: a normal, affectionate family.

Based on a true story, Cynthia Chin-Lee (author of Amelia to Zora) has written a splendid and touching story about a real family, and the real implications of the struggle for equality, with beautiful and captivating illustrations by Lea Lyon (Say Something).

Praise:

"Operation Marriage is an honest, insightful, and touching story illustrating the many ways that lack of marriage equality impacts kids' lives. Its messages—perseverance, trusting oneself, facing adversity and standing up to it—are universal, but its approach to the particular social challenge of marriage inequality fills a void in the children's book world. There is power in seeing a problem from a child's perspective, and much that we grown-ups can learn from looking at the world through a child's eyes. This book belongs in every school library and on every public library shelf."  —Sarah Hoffman, author of Pink Boys

"Even 3rd-graders know that commitment ceremonies are not weddings and domestic partnerships are not marriage. Operation Marriage shows how important marriage is to children and that they understand that anything less, is less than equal."  —Dr. Davina Kotulski, psychologist, and author of Why You Should Give A Damn About Gay Marriage (2004) and Love Warriors: The Rise of the Marriage Equality Movement and Why it Will Prevail (2010)

"Cynthia delights audiences, with careful consideration not to leave anyone out. Her books are winners."  —Heidi R. Kling, author of Sea

About the Authors:

Cynthia Chin-Lee is the author of A Is For Asia (Orchard Books), which Ruminator Review called one of the "Best 100 American Children's Books of the Century," and A is For the Americas (Orchard Books), which earned an award from the National Council for Social Studies and Children's Book Council (CBC/NCSS) as a Notable Children's Book in Social Studies. Her latest books are the award-winning Amelia to Zora: Twenty-six Women Who Changed the World, and Akira to Zoltan: Twenty-six Men Who Changed the World. She lives in Palo Alto, California, with her husband, son, and two cats.

Lea Lyon is an award-winning children's book illustrator, painting teacher, and portrait artist based in Richmond, CA. Her books include Say Something with Peggy Moss (Tilbury House), a Notable Social Studies Book and winner of the Teachers’ Choice Award from Learning magazine; Playing War with Kathy Beck (Tilbury House), winner of the Skipping Stones Magazine Award as one of the “Best 25 Multicultural Picture Books of 2006;” Keep Your Ear on the Ball with by Genevieve Petrillo (Tilbury House), winner of the Moonbeam Award in 2008 and runner up for the ALA Schneider Family Award in 2007. Lea’s most recent book, The Miracle Jar, is a Chanukah picture book by New York Times bestselling author Audrey Penn. (Tanglewood Books).

Buy book now | Cynthia Chin-Lee's Page | Lea Lyon's Page

 
Sometimes the Spoon Runs Away with Another Spoon Coloring Book
Author and Illustrator: Jacinta Bunnell and Nathaniel Kusinitz
Publisher: Reach And Teach / PM Press
ISBN: 978-1-60486-329-1
Published: September 2010
Format: Paperback
Size: 11 by 8.5
Page count: 36
Subjects: Family-Children, Activity-Coloring Book
$10.00

We have the power to change fairy tales and nursery rhymes so that these stories are more realistic. In Sometimes the Spoon Runs Away With Another Spoon you will find anecdotes of real kids’ lives and true-to-life fairy tale characters. This book pushes us beyond rigid gender expectations while we color fantastic beasts who like pretty jewelry and princesses who build rocket ships.

Celebrate sensitive boys, tough girls, and others who do not fit into a disempowering gender categorization.

Sometimes the Spoon . . . aids the work of dismantling the Princess Industrial Complex by moving us forward with more honest representations of our children and ourselves. Color to your heart's content. Laugh along with the characters. Write your own fairy tales. Share your own truths.

Praise:

"As moving and funny as Walter the Farting Dog, with pictures you can color however your heart desires, Sometimes the Spoon... is appropriate for children of all ages, especially those who grew up without it."
—Ayun Halliday, Chief Primatologist of The East Village Inky

"For some people the sky's the limit. For Jacinta Bunnell it's a place to put a rainbow. There are no limits in Sometimes the Spoon Runs Away With Another Spoon—just fun and love. Jacinta Bunnell invites you to "Step right up!" to the wonderful world of you!"
—World Famous *BOB*, Ultimate Self Confidence! Coach

About the Author:

Jacinta Bunnell is an artist and writer living in New York's Hudson Valley where she enjoys makes coloring books for a gender-defiant new world. Jacinta is a rehabilitated and reformed cheerleader who now has pep rallies for all sorts of freaks.

When Nat Kusinitz was in 6th grade he saw a painting of Frida Kahlo with all of her hair chopped off and was never the same again. He currently resides in New Orleans, where he spends his time riding the streetcar around and staring wistfully out of windows.

Buy book now | Download e-Book now 

 

Girls are Not Chicks Coloring Book
Authors: Jacinta Bunnell and Julie Novak
Publisher: Reach And Teach / PM Press
Published: Sept. 2009
ISBN: 978-1-60486-076-4
Format: Paperback
Page Count: 36
Dimensions: 8.5 by 11
Subjects: Children's Activity Book/ Feminism
$10.00

Twenty-seven pages of feminist fun! This is a coloring book you will never outgrow. Girls Are Not Chicks is a subversive and playful way to examine how pervasive gender stereotypes are in every aspect of our lives. This book helps to deconstruct the homogeneity of gender expression in children's media by showing diverse pictures that reinforce positive gender roles for girls.

Color the Rapunzel for a new society. She now has power tools, a roll of duct tape, a Tina Turner album, and a bus pass!

Paint outside the lines with Miss Muffet as she tells that spider off and considers a career as an arachnologist!

Girls are not chicks. Girls are thinkers, creators, fighters, healers and superheroes.

Praise:

"An ingeniously subversive coloring book." —Heather Findlay, Editor in Chief, Girlfriends magazine

"Get this cool feminist coloring book even if you don't have a kid" —Jane Pratt, Jane magazine

 

About the Authors:

Jacinta Bunnell is an artist and writer living in New York's Hudson Valley where she enjoys makes coloring books for a gender-defiant new world. Jacinta is a rehabilitated and reformed cheerleader who now has pep rallies for all sorts of freaks. She aspires to someday have friends like Jo Polniaczek from Facts of Life, Leroy Johnson from Fame,and Red Fraggle.

You can find her artwork at: www.parthenialoyal.etsy.com

Julie Novak is an actor, writer, musician, and artist who is committed to teaching tolerance. She believes that the wisdom of young people can change the world. She received her BS in Graphic Design from SUNY New Paltz, and is now serving as the art director for New York House Magazine, a publication focused on green living and sustainability. She contributed her design talents to the N.O.W. Foundation's "Love Your Body Day" campaign and helped plan SUNY New Paltz's first Transforming Feminism Conference. In 2006 she released a pop-punk CD with her band Guitars & Hearts which Bitch Magazine recommended in it's "suggested listening" column. Hear a sample at: www.myspace.com/guitarsandhearts She lives in New York's Hudson Valley where she works on musical projects and improvisational theater performances.

Buy book now | Download e-Book now | Jacinta Bunnell's Page | Julie Novak's Page

 

Abe in Arms
Author: Pegi Deitz Shea
Publisher: PM Press / Reach And Teach
ISBN: 978-1-60486-198-3
Published June 2010
Format: Paperback
Page Count: 172 Pages
Size: 8.5 by 5.5
Subjects: Fiction (recommended Grade 6 and up)
$15.00

A senior in high school, Abe's got a Division I track scholarship awaiting him, a hot girlfriend, and a loving and wealthy adoptive family, including a brother his age. But suddenly, horrific flashbacks and seizures rip him back five years ago to war-torn Africa, where he lost his mother, his sister, his friends, and almost his own life to torturous violence. In therapy for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Abe uncovers even darker moments that make him question why he's still alive.

This contemporary young adult novel portrays the pressures of teens to live a normal life, let alone succeed at high levels; while facing mental illness and—in Abe's case—a past that no one could possibly understand . . . or survive.

Pegi Deitz Shea has written a suspenseful, action-filled book that will open teens' eyes and hearts to the lives of young people exposed to violence around the world.

Praise:

"Pegi Shea’s book, Abe in Arms, although fictional in nature, could have been true for any number of young boys in West Africa whose lives were devastated by conscription into the rebel army through force, threats, manipulation, bribery, and drugs. As a counselor and member of a trauma team who went to Liberia to teach counseling skills to civic and religious leaders following their civil war, I found it very heart breaking to witness the long term effects of Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome upon the young boys, often no more than 11-14 years of age. Although there is a nation-wide effort in Liberia to rehabilitate these young boys, many require extensive mental health treatment and the prognoses are often disappointing. In her book, Pegi Shea engrosses us in the horrors of war, pulls at our heartstrings as we weep for Abe, and causes us to yearn for a time when he can confront the demons that control his life. At the same time, she explores the wrenching irony of war refugees being thrust into an American youth culture that glamorizes the very violence that has caused Abe so much anguish.  Shea’s resolution, like Abe’s epiphany, is surprising, believable, and gratifying" —Eleanor Porter Pershing, PhD, West Africa Trauma Team

About the Author:

Pegi Deitz Shea is best known for exploring human rights issues in children's books. Pegi has brought the worlds of refugees, immigrants, child laborers, and historical figures into the minds of readers of all ages. Her books include The Whispering Cloth, Tangled Threads, Ten Mice for Tet, The Carpet Boy's Gift and Patience Wright. Her books have been made Notables by organizations including the International Reading Association, National Council of Teachers of English, National Council for the Social Studies, Bank Street College, Junior Library Guild and the New York Public Library. She has been teaching writing for the Institute of Children's Literature since 1996, and teaching children's literature at the University of Connecticut since 2007. Pegi has presented at more than 350 schools, libraries and conferences across the nation. Raised in New Jersey, Pegi lives in Connecticut with her family when she's not traipsing around the world.

Buy book now | Download e-Book now | Pegi Deitz Shea's Page




PM Warehouse Behind the Scenes

muscle menNews > Additional Stories

PM Warehouse Behind the Scenes

Meet Dan. (He's on the left). Dan Fedorenko is a shipping machine. When you need a book to stimulate you, he packs, ships and checks the invoice twice, like a more lithe and more schooled-in-thrash-metal Santa Clause. He meets your needs. 



Meet Joey. (He's the other guy.) See Joey Paxman table. Table, Joey, table. Joey is a knowledgeable and charming gentleman and tabler who you will frequently see running tables for PM all over the West Coast. When not tabling, Joey is exploring the known limits of new interests and pushing past them, whether that is farming, drawing, sailing, or fishing. 

When these two powerhouses meet and are put into the relatively small space—that is, two different PM warehouses here in the San Francisco Bay Area—it makes for loads of work and creative breaks, as well as a rather appealing photo shoot opportunity that I just couldn’t pass up.


Recently, I had the pleasure of joining these ardent and indefatigable folks for inventory. The day was akin to walking up Lombard street (a long, winding, steep road for you non-locals) backwards. Muscles I don't usually use

skate2

were pulsating with heat, which on the one hand (and at the time) I really didn't much mind considering how very cold a December night in a non-heated warehouse can be, while on the other I realized this sort of pulsing should not be felt immediately and that tomorrow I would be lucky if I were mistaken for a bow-legged cowboy while walking the dogs.

skate

 













The day, besides physically trying, was pleasurable and extremely productive. Thanks to great company as well as fantastic neighbors in the warehouse space (more on this another time) we stayed alert, friendly and effective the whole ten bone-chilling hours.

wv co bike
Meet Craig. (See motorcycle stand-in). Besides the California warehouses, we of course have our West Virginia base. Sadly, Craig, who braves the winters out there and runs a tight ship of a warehouse, looks like a motorcycle in the following photograph, because honestly, that is what we would call his totem, or happy place. 



The following photographs are remnants of highlights from our day —from silly pranks, blowing off steam between long swathes of inventory, and the stimulating process of counting everything we own. 

Thanks for braving these adventures with us: we could not and would not do it without you. Cheers.

forklift

boxes

lickin the beaters torturing dan



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