Listen to the Episode — 46 min
Clara: The Ex-Worker;
Alanis: An audio strike against a monotone world;
Clara:A twice-monthly podcast of anarchist ideas and action;
Alanis: For everyone who dreams of a life off the clock.
Clara: It’s a new year and a new episode of the Ex-worker! In our 15 episodes thus far, we’ve tackled different aspects of anarchist thought and practice – we’ve covered histories of May Day and anarchist anti-fascism; explored different threads of anarchist thought such as green and insurrectionary anarchism; and sussed out some heavily nuanced positions around issues such as work, technology and prison. But today we’re gonna go back to something that we maybe should’ve covered a little earlier… what exactly is anarchism?
Alanis: Better late than never, right? It’s obviously a huge topic, and a complicated one at that. So, in typical fashion, we’re not going to try and put forth a single, unified position on what anarchism is, or try to come up with a cohesive definition. It pretty much isn’t possible. More often than not, anarchism isn’t so much a sum of ideas or theories, but is informed by people’s own practices and experiences, individually and collectively.
Clara: We’re going to hear from a lot of different people about their ideas about anarchy: from infamous and historical anarchists, as well as bunch of our friends and even some listener contributions.
Alanis: And as usual, we’ll have recent news, listener feedback, upcoming events and prisoner birthdays. I’m Alanis…
Clara: And I’m Clara, and we’ll be your guides through these uncharted waters. Visit our website at crimethinc.com/podcast for the show transcript and program notes.
Alanis: You can get in touch with us at email@example.com, or leave us a message at 202–59-NOWRK, that’s 202–596–6975.
Clara: Let’s go.
THE HOT WIRE
Alanis: We’ll begin with the Hot Wire, our look at resistance and revolt happening around the world. Clara?
Clara: This Tuesday was New Years Eve, and as per tradition, thousands of anarchists worldwide rung in the New Year by demonstrating outside of Jails and Prisons in an attempt to directly communicate to those caged inside that they aren’t forgotten. For an extensive list of those actions, check out our website, crimethinc.com/podcast.
Alanis: Over 8,000 protesters clashed with riot police this week in Hamburg, Germany as they protested against the planned eviction of squatters from a popular social centre, the Rote Flora, and against the eviction of hundreds of people from their homes. The largely peaceful protest erupted following a baton charge, and use of teargas and water cannons by the police. The protesters responded by building barricades, throwing stones, fireworks, and bottles. It is reported that over 500 people have been injured, and around 150 arrests made.
Clara: And, more surprises from our favorite news scandal – no, not another bite of Kardashian gossip – it’s the NSA! On Dec. 16th, a federal district judge held that “there is a substantial likelihood [that]… the NSA’s bulk collection program is indeed an unreasonable search under the Fourth Amendment.”
Alanis: [unimpressed] Wow.
Clara: In its opinion, the aghast court reminded parties that “no court has ever recognized a special need sufficient to justify continuous, daily searches of virtually every American citizen without any particularized suspicion.” The ruling granted a preliminary injunction, which would prevent the NSA from continuing its “systematic and high-tech collection and retention of personal data on virtually every citizen”; however, the court also stayed that order for six months pending the Obama administration’s inevitable appeal.
Alanis: A prayer vigil in Durham, North Carolina to honor Jesus “Chuy” Huerta, a young man who mysteriously perished in police custody in mid November, was brutally attacked by police in riot gear, who charged the crowd and deployed tear gas. A brief but intense street battle between riot police and anarchists along with enraged youth ensued, echoing earlier street clashes that occurred a few days after Chuy’s death in mid-November.
Clara: A bus chartered by the company Google to ferry employees to work at its Mountainview Headquarters was attacked in Oakland, California last week. As the employees took their seats, several people unfurled two giant banners reading TECHIES: Your World Is Not Welcome Here and FUCK OFF GOOGLE. The back window of the bus was then smashed out. The communique for the action connects tech companies like Google to the rampant gentrification and increased surveillance in areas of Oakland.
Alanis: The hepatitis-C drug Sovaldi hit shelves in December at a whopping cost of $1,000 per pill. Hepatitis researchers call the drug a landmark, because more than 90 percent of patients who (are able to afford) the new drug can expect to be cured with few side effects. A course of treatment will last 12 weeks and cost patients $84,000, plus the cost of necessary companion drugs. Some patients may need treatment for twice as long. Hep-C is a slow-moving and deadly liver virus that infects three to five times more people than HIV. Approximately, 170 million people are infected with Hep C worldwide.
Clara: And on Christmas Eve, members of the militant group Informal Anarchist Federation sent an envelope containing a USB drive and a 500ml Coca Cola bottle to a popular Greek news website. The USB stick includes a six-page declaration which attacks the companies Coca Cola and Nestle, and claims that four days after sending the envelope, they would be putting bottles of Coca Cola and Nestea tampered with 100ml of hydrochloric acid back on store shelves. The group declares that their intention is not to harm innocent people, but to force the multinational companies to withdraw their products from shelves. The USB also contains a video showing how they managed to tamper with a Coca Cola Light bottle without causing any damage to it seal, demonstrating that the group is capable of carrying out the threat.
Alanis: And now it’s time to share a piece of the CrimethInc Contradctionary. This week’s episode is brought to you by: Anarchist.
For more explorations of the war in every word, visit crimethinc.com/contradictionary.
Alanis: And now it’s time for listener feedback! We got a lot of responses to our last episode- thanks everyone, for writing in! We don’t have the space to respond to all of them, but if we didn’t get to you this time, we’ll try to be in touch.
First, we want to share a response about our feature on anarchist critiques of religion. One listener wrote in to praise the episode, but offer a “bit of healthy criticism”:
Clara: By making religion the de facto category into which you shovel everything that you wish to critique, you risk obscuring all the interesting conflicts between centralization and autonomy, and between authority and horizontality, that have played out inside religious frameworks. Where in your analysis would we put the Brethren of the Free Spirit, the Ranters, the Diggers, or any of the other movements that fought against hierarchy (in the sense of “rule by the sacred”) by proclaiming that everyone and everything is sacred, and no one is fit to rule?
Even simply in terms of anarchist historiography, this is a bit sloppy, as these movements are essential to the prehistory of anarchism as we know it. Proudhon dallied with Socinianism on his way to being the first well-known avowed anarchist. Wilhelm Weitling, a religious revolutionary communist who saw himself as carrying on the project of the Anabaptists, initiated Bakunin into the struggle against capitalism and the state.
Against religion, you counterpose the idea that our values should come from ourselves alone. Yet this sounds suspiciously like Western rationalist individualism. We might posit, instead, that our values and conceptual frameworks are always socially produced—and yet that in every society, there are both hierarchical and subversive currents at play, and that our task as anarchists is to identify and amplify the latter. Five centuries ago, social conflicts were framed in religious terms that we would frame in political, economic, or scientific terms today—but our modern framework isn’t necessarily any less deluded, or any more liberating. On the contrary, I would argue that some of the Adamites and Beguines were considerably more radical than today’s most vehement anarchists, by the standards of that time or this one. By the same token, might there not still be people taking positions within religious debates that would be of interest to anarchists?
I’m presuming here that the important thing is actual struggle against hierarchy and centralization, whatever language it employs or framework it arises in, not anarchism as a historically distinct identity or dogma. If you find this convincing,I demand a podcast episode focusing on anarchic religious movements and currents! Thanks for reading and considering this.
Alanis: Thanks for the thoughtful response, and for the rad historical references! To respond briefly: it’s true that we oversimplified what religion is, in focusing on the classical anarchist critiques that had pretty scathing words for the formal institutions they saw as instrumental to upholding the state and capitalism. Today, in an allegedly secular world, we need to revisit the angle of critique to take against newer manifestations of religious pacification, from Westernized Buddhism to denominational consumerism. And that may require us to examine more critically what we understand as “religious” frameworks, which in the past (and arguably today as well) include rebellious as well as pacifying currents. We might say that in medieval and pre-modern times, religious language and thought structured society so pervasively that rebellion could only be expressed through that framework. But that would fail to examine whether or not the Anabaptists or Diggers or other such religious rebels found radical potential from within religiosity itself – a far more intriguing possibility that your question forces us to ask.
Clara: You’re absolutely right that we want to broaden our focus to include all anarchic struggles rather than simply capital-A Anarchist branded movements. So we accept your challenge for a future episode that explores the roots of what we call anarchism today in the religiously motivated rebellions of the past. Until then, if you’re intrigued by these, start off by consulting Norman Cohn’s classic history “Pursuit of the Millennium,” or for a lively historical fiction account, check out “Q” by Luther Blissett.
Alanis: Next, listener Frank wrote in reference to our coverage of the Ukrainian uprising, saying:
Clara: Involvement from the right-wing extremist nationalists is more than just an involvement. The Sloboda neo-nazi workerist movement and other racist nationalist groups are at the ORIGINS of the current uprising, just as they served as powerful political tools during the first “color revolution” in Ukraine. US Congressman John McCain’s recent visit in the country was another smoking gun of the undercover influence by the Western fascists.
There is a major struggle for the EU and NATO to take hold of Ukraine just as they did with several other post-Soviet republics, in their fight against a Russian regime which is at least presumed to be non-aligned with the whole IMF/NATO/Troika globalist crap. But your very brief commentary on the events was pretty much not taking sides thankfully and it’s good the neo-nazis were at least stated as being heavily involved and posing as black hoodied protesters. Just that anarchists should be extra careful with the depth of their reporting on events like these… I say “should” because there is a clear and present problem with neo-nazis in the whole East Europe these days. These people are extremely violent towards all kinds of “abnormals” and foreigners, so it’s important to stay away from supporting the populist movements they contribute to create, as it may be giving them even more wind… Not all uprisings or revolutions are of anarchistic nature. And the CIA has got a decades-old history of setting up popular uprisings to further the agendas of the global capitalists.
Alanis: Frank, thanks for pointing this out. We did a bit more research of our own and contacted some anarchists in Ukraine, and found out that you’re exactly right. The whole uprising has been planned by a coalition of right-wing and neo-fascist groups and their European funders, concealed beneath a disingenous rhetoric of democracy, capitalizing on widespread discontent with an authoritarian regime as well as nationalist and racist cultural currents to pressure the state into a pro-EU regime change… which, incidentally, aggressively marginalizes any radical voices in favor of another variety of authoritarian neoliberalism.
Clara: Just a couple of examples of the weirdness this faux revolution has engendered: One of the leaders that John McCain dined with on his recent visit, Sloboda head Oleh Tyahnybok, was banned from entering the US earlier this year under pressure for Jewish groups because of his anti-semitic and fascist views! And: the pro-EU media reported that Ukrainian LGBT groups took part in the demonstrations; in fact, reports the Gay Alliance of Ukraine, the rainbow-flag carrying marchers were in fact provocateurs paid by the ruling regime to attempt to discredit the demonstrations by associating EU integration with rejection of family values. The group stated that while some gay and lesbian Ukrainians participated in the demonstrations, they did so simply as participants and not openly as gays or lesbians - because the massive fascist presence would have rendered it unsafe for them.
Alanis: All this is to say: things are not always what they seem. We’ve provided links on our website to statements made by the anarchist Autonomous Worker’s Union in Kiev, and some well-documented analysis that breaks down the interests behind the media gloss. It’s definitely true that not all uprisings or revolutions are anarchistic; the tradition set by the so-called “astroturf” (i.e., fake grassroots) revolutions of the 1990s and 2000s in Serbia and beyond reveals that neoliberal and even fascist agendas can hide behind seemingly popular rebellions against authoritarian regimes. For some background analysis on this, check out the CrimethInc feature on the revolution in Serbia titled “Fake Revolutions, Real Struggles”.
Clara: Let us know what you think! Send your feedback and thoughts by email to podcast at crimethinc dot com.
Alanis: And now it’s time to share a piece of the CrimethInc Contradictionary. This episode is brought to you by: Anarchist.
Alanis: For more explorations of the war in every word, visit crimethinc.com/contradictionary
FEATURE: WHAT IS ANARCHISM?
So, you’re an anarchist…
I grew up in a place that had a predominant religion…
I guess mine starts out pretty early in the 7th grade…
…And I moved to that city knowing like 2 people and it was super isolating…
So when I’m thinking about things that informed becoming an anarchist, it doesn’t really have anything to do with anarchism or theory…
We were looking at the paper and it was like “when did you first get into anarchy?” I was born!
It’s interesting hearing other people talk about their experiences of getting into anarchy through punk or through CrimethInc zines or whatever because my dad’s an anarchist, and so anarchy was a household word.
I kind of think I was born an anarchist… I was a really angry, anti-authoritarian kid. I didn’t want to be told what to do, I wasn’t interested in rules, I really didn’t see why I had to respect elders for the sake of respecting elders because some of them were really respectable and some of them really didn’t seem very respectable at all.
When I was 13, I was really into, as I’m sure a lot of people on this show were, into punk. I got a Grace Llewellyn book, “Teenage Liberation Handbook,” and dropped out of school, and used it to justify my dropping out of school to my mom.
And so from a very young age I felt not only watched by my parents, but every time I went out to play in the neighborhood I felt watched by my friends’ parents and even after a certain age by my friends. So that feeling of being policed is something that I feel like has always been a part of my life…
I remember distinctively sitting in the Library one day, and this punk kid that I had a really big crush on came up and drew a big, messy, circle-A on my hand. And he pointed at it and was like “look at this.” And I was like “Oh! What…” And he was like, “Anarchy.” And then I went home and was like “Mom, what does this mean?” And she was like, “Oh, honey, you have to be really careful with that.” “Well, ok.” And she was like, “Yeah, it has a lot of really bad associations.” And then I started going online and reading about anarchy, and anarchism. And I didn’t really understand, but I was like, “Yeah! Fuck the states! Fuck our government!”
For instance, today, I found out that my best friend from middle school and high school and her partner committed dual suicide…
My parents are both anarchists. They met at a protest to save this grove of oaks and to stop a highway and, yeah, I was born. And I’ve been around anarchism since I was a baby. And I didn’t come into it at any age, and I kinda always understood what it was. It kind of didn’t make sense to me when other people didn’t know what it was.
The story that my mom tells when she’s trying in general to explain me is that when I was two, during swimming lessons, the teacher said that we all had to swim across the pool, and so everyone swam across the pool, along the lap lines… and I swam across the pool, horizontally. And then she was like, “And then I realized that my kid was maybe not gonna be the same as the other kids.”
That was right around when the Afghanistan and Iraq war was popping off and so we did some really, it was really strange, because it was the smallest town that anarchism could happen in, and so we did some really weird things. We opened up a very strange infoshop, we had some very strange parades, we had some really strange confrontations with the locals there, who were my neighbors, and hated me after so long…
I didn’t really start paying attention to political stuff in general – and I mean political in the more typical sense of the word – until I moved to Russia when I was 11. And then when I lived there, the Soviet Union collapsed. And seeing that and seeing how that process went did make me more interested in how it was that things got ran in the world and the ways that those affected people, because the collapse of the Soviet Union affected people hugely on the ground in ways that were really obviously terrible and unjust.
She got taken by CPS when I was 15, just stolen from me, and I could never get in touch with her again. And then I have another friend this year who committed suicide, and then my cousin, last year, committed suicide during a police chase. And I feel like my entire life has been fraught with people getting stolen from me, either by the police, or by drug addiction, or by having to work 80 hours a week just to afford to live. And I think that’s a really common story when you’re poor.
I think that a lot of people often talk about isolation in the anarchist rhetoric. We want to form some sort of resistance against a world that isolates us, whether through work or whatever else society does to make that happen.
And at the same time I had just become newly disabled and I needed a lot of support. And my family was really great with that, but then there was a limit, that was one of the reasons why my family went bankrupt… it was a whole fucking mess. There was just so much going on at the time, that really I don’t think that many other scenes of people could have walked with me through or gone with me through.
Also at the same time I had gotten introduced into the punk scene, and so punk and anarchy or anarchism were pretty synonymous at that time, at least where I lived, which was a pretty small college town in the Midwest.
How I got into this mess, or how anarchism was what started to make sense to me, it’s total dorky punk shit. I started listening to bands, thinking this makes a lot of sense, thinking about how the way our society is set up, not being fair to so many people and screwing so many people out of their ability to do more than just survive.
Realizing that I was an anarchist was intertwined with animal rights, probably because a lot of the bands which were my first introduction to anarchism were also either vegetarian or vegan, and espoused ethics that go along with that.
The things that I found most inspiring were the ELF and ALF communiqués that were coming out at that time. You know, it was kind of a beautiful propaganda. I suppose what was most pungent about the writings was that there was a lot of substance behind it and it was the product of an action that was carried out wonderfully, and was highly effective. And at the time I was very much so in the radical ecological movement and very into animal rights, and so I definitely held those with the highest esteems: “Oh, this is a group of people who are really actualizing what they aspire to be and setting forth their goals of liberation.”
Eventually I got really involved with the animal rights movement, and the Animal Liberation and Earth Liberation stuff that was happening in the mid/late 90’s at the time, and worked really hard on that. Got in a lot of trouble, in various ways. And mostly felt good about that.
I didn’t see a solution within the state. And so, in that way, to remedy the state-sponsored environmental genocide, anarchy seemed to fit in with that as a potential kind of matrix for considering all these different thoughts.
I was really, really, really straight-laced and dorky, and was actually on track to joining the military before I discovered punk. And I think it was sorta an outlet for aggression, and feeling kind of bored.
I was a weird child, and still am. And being in junior high in a very repressed state, where everyone that I was around was wearing these very padded bras, lots of makeup… it was all very hetero-normative. And I could go into this punk space and people, if they had breasts, they weren’t wearing bras, and it was OK if I didn’t, and people didn’t care that I was twelve. I mean, to a certain degree people cared that I was twelve, but I wasn’t the weirdest looking one there, and people were having all these amazing conversations with me that had nothing to do with how I looked or who I was dating. It would be a regular occurrence that people would be passing out fliers for the next protest at the punk show, or there was a really interesting book that people were passing out for free at a show that was a book of literature to describe the local white supremacist symbols so that people could keep an eye out for it. And that wasn’t happening really anywhere else I was going.
I remember that morning, on May 1st, a bunch of us got on bikes an rode to city center and it was rush hour traffic in the morning, and we blocked all the streets with our bikes across the entire city, and just… yelled. I mean, it was a small thing, but in a city that is one of the top 5 largest cities in this country, to do that felt like something, and felt like it sort of broke an illusion of everything being very seamless.
And I was walking down a sidewalk one day, and I knew that I was anti- a lot of things – I knew I hated jails and I knew I hated the destruction of the environment. I grew up in a place where there are wetlands, and they were being destroyed and it made me really sad. And I knew that I hated the government, and I had been really into Days of War, Nights of Love when I was in high school. But then I saw this sign on a street post, and it said “anti-capitalists, feminists, eco-whatevers, come to this meeting.” And I went, and it turned out to be an anarchist collective.
And my grandmother, who was great, gave me an Emma Goldman book, actually - I think it was probably Anarchism and Other Essays - and said "Hey, I hear some of the things you’re saying, and I think you would maybe really like this, I think this will really resonate with you.”
ANARCHISM: The philosophy of a new social order based on liberty unrestricted by man-made law; the theory that all forms of government rest on violence, and are therefore wrong and harmful, as well as unnecessary. -Emma Goldman, 1910
And I was like “ok!” and went and read that, and was like, “Oh, of course. There’s a name for that.” But it wasn’t like something that I was discovering, it was a thing that I already am. So on some level my grandmother made me an anarchist, I guess.
And there was never a moment where I felt regret, or like I shouldn’t be doing that or that what I was doing was wrong… I always just felt that it was more and more right to do that. And I guess that always feels pretty electric, and scary… and fun. And I think that feeling can be addictive for some people.
And I met the first group of people who called themselves anarchists. And of course, I was not an anarchist, you know, I was all these other anti- things – anti-racist, anti-fascist, anti-capitalist. And the longer I was around that group of people, and the more that I saw that they did really engage with one another in a different way, they were actually interested in destroying the hierarchies that weave through the threads of most peoples lives, and actually attacking the things that oppress us on a more systemic level, not just as this one little thing or that one thing, but it was this cohesive way to weave the narrative of oppression and to weave disobedience into my every life and moment and every relationship. And I think that if I hadn’t met that group of people, I would probably be doing some kind of bullshit petition, or some random-ass way of doing dissent that didn’t make as much sense and didn’t make me feel good. But it was in finding a group of anarchists that first showed me that you can actually make your entire life about resistance; it didn’t have to be one thing that you were rallying against at a time.
So, there was that, and at the same time I was figuring out that I’m a total queer. And then the realization that my employers will never respect me as a human being because of the way I am, thinking about how fucked up that is, and how to stay afloat, I’m gonna have to for the rest of my life having to pretend to be someone I’m not. That’s one thing that’s made me struggle, to desire to see change.
Our task as anarchists, our main preoccupation and greatest desire, is that of seeing the social revolution realized: terrible upheaval of men and institutions which finally succeeds in putting an end to exploitation and establishing the reign of justice. For we anarchists the revolution is our guide, our constant point of reference, no matter what we are doing or what problem we are concerned with. The anarchy we want will not be possible without the painful revolutionary break. If we want to avoid turning this into simply a dream we must struggle to destroy the State and exploiters through revolution. -Alfredo Bonanno, 1982
I think there were moments like that for me, when we were in the streets, when everything was very fast, very energetic, and then there were moments when I was figuring out how that played into the rest of my life and my conversations with people who didn’t necessarily know about anarchism. And I think I realized soon after that that anarchy isn’t always about being in the streets and facing off with police in that way. Yeah, that moment was super important for me, I think about it a lot. That first day, where we just went all day, and it was… amazing.
It’s weird to interact with other kids when I definitely have different views than a lot of the other kids in my class. And it’s interesting because I don’t always know how to be like, “No! You shouldn’t talk to cops! You shouldn’t tell them everything you know!”
Something that has been on my mind for a while, maybe like a year or more at this point, is trying to think of ways that anarchist projects aren’t a separate thing from my life, or engaging in them doesn’t require any sort of discontinuity with my daily business. And so some things that feel relevant to that specifically are means of surviving, like squatting as a way of providing housing, and ways of getting necessities that don’t involve using money and other stuff like that, have been a way of exploring that.
And so if you’re not rich, you’re poor… and that’s where my drive toward social change came from. It’s like, what am I gonna do, just sit around and sit on my ass and let everybody I care about be slowly destroyed for the rest of my life?
Meeting with people and being around people that challenge each other and hold each other accountable and care about each other… even though that’s not really a concrete thing, I think having strong relationships is foundational to being able to do anarchy. You need people who you can trust, and who are always going to support you and who know you, and I think being able to do that every day or every week is doing that work.
I live in a house with a bunch of other adults, and we support each other really lovingly. And that’s just not anything my family understands, at all. They don’t understand the idea of mutual aid, or people helping each other out who aren’t family, just to survive the world. And when I think about making a life for myself that is completely different than the lives that I’ve seen other people have, it has a lot to do with creating networks of support that are strong, and that are based on something other than just paying your rent, or some kids, or some idea of romantic love. And it’s more based on a recognition that this world is terrible, and that we want to be in defiance to that terribleness, and then doing that together, because it makes life easier.
There was a march recently for someone who froze to death in town, because they didn’t have any place to live. Something that was inspiring about that to me was that it feels relevant to my circumstances as someone who lives without heat, and I know a lot of people who are also homeless and don’t have any place to stay. And I feel just as upset about this person’s death as I do that that’s a risk that all these people I know face. Just the circumstances of our living are a point of struggle in this case.
Anarchism can be described first and foremost as a visceral revolt. The anarchist is above all a person in revolt. -Daniel Guerin, 1965
I like, with the way that American anarchism is right now, is that it feels sort of like, friends discuss and get pissed off together and, as most people do, reflect on things that are really painful about our world. And then actually go and express it to other people, to neighbors, to the world. And don’t expect, don’t get bogged down with people needing a response, or needing a political response. Like, oh, we’re going to change this policy or something. I mean, certainly people that I’ve worked with have been like, “Fuck this policy,” but it’s never like, “Oh god, I really hope they change this law.” There will be another law that will fuck us over somehow, and when it comes, we will all be pissed off together and we will all hurt together. And that’s been amazing!
My four-year-old version of what anarchy is is that they go to a lot of meetings… there shouldn’t be power over people, and people should be able to live their own lives, and that our system is really unfair and that it should be less like… “RAWR, I’m stronger than you!” and more like, “OK, let’s do this together!”
Anarchy is the taste of the breeze and the home I return to. It asks everything and nothing of me all at once, leaving me to my own devices. Anarchy is the joy I got writing this on the clock.
Anarchy is possibility outside the limitations and scripts of capitalism and social roles. Anarchy is a space, a moment created, free from coercion and control, where imaginations and desires are able to soar because the structures of power are disrupted. It is a space to both rage and dream and refuse anything as it is handed to us and take what we want instead.
I came to anarchy long before I had words to name it as such. I came to anarchy through my hate for the police and State control and the rich and my place as a woman.
One year after the book fair with my dad in the car, and he was reading something, and it was talking about meals, and he was saying – do you know what I’m talking about? – he was talking about meals, and he was talking about two different scenarios, and there was one where there was a dinner and a host and people come over to the house and they sit nicely and they’re served by the host, and it’s very stuffy. And then there’s this other situation where people come to the house, and make food collaboratively, and they all wash the dishes, and it was this really simple example, but it outlined the difference between my dad’s house and my mom’s house, my dad being an anarchist and my mom not being an anarchist. And that was what brought it all together for me, and I understood the difference between my dad who respected my autonomy and treated me like an adult, and wanted to make decisions with me, and my mom who was very much the opposite.
And so I don’t even know if anarchism does anything, I don’t even know if it works, but I know it was the only way I ever felt like I had control over being able to change the things in our lives that suck, and that are so terrible.
Life cannot simply be something to cling to. This thought skims through everyone at least once. We have a possibility that makes us freer than the gods: we can quit. This is an idea to be savored to the end. Nothing and no one is obliging us to live. Not even death. For that reason our life is a tabula rasa, a slate on which nothing has been written, so contains all the words possible. - At Daggers Drawn
…And then there’s other moments, just like, being in the streets and recognizing your friends through the eye slits in their balaclavas, and trusting each other against forces that could have never been fucked with beyond that one night is also really important. It’s a million things.
NEXT WEEK’S NEWS:
Clara: And now it’s time for next week’s news. Alanis, what’s happening in the next few weeks?
Alanis: The NATO 3 are beginning their trial next week. Brian Church, Brent Betterly and Jared Chase have been sitting in jail since they were arrested before the NATO summit in Chicago in May of 2012. During the raid, police found household materials that they claimed could be used to construct incendiary devices. The three are each facing 11 felony charges, including terrorism enhancements, that carry a maximum sentence of 85 years in prison. We’ll be going into more detail about their case in our next episode, so keep your ears to the ground.
Clara: And of course we have some prisoner birthdays to mention; on January 6th, Oscar Lopez Rivera, a Puerto Rican independence fighter;
Alanis: On January 8th, Jeremy Hammond, hacktivist anarchist serving 10 years for cyber-actions against Strategic Forecasting;
Clara: On the 14th, Sundiata Acoli, a black liberation fighter and Black Panther who was arrested along with Assata Shakur in the murder of a New Jersey state trooper;
Alanis: Also on the 14th is Herman Bell, a Black Panther framed for the murder of a New York police officer;
Clara: And last but not least, on the 15th, Joe-Joe Bowen, a Black Liberation Army prisoner serving two life sentences for the assassination of a prison warden and deputy prison warden, as well as an unsucessful escape attempt that lead to a 5-day standoff.
Alanis: That’s it for this episode of the Ex-Worker. A huge thanks to all our contributors, collaborators and co-conspirators who put themselves out there and shared a piece of themselves with us for this episode.
Clara: We’ll be back next week with coverage of the NATO 3 trial. And let us know what kinds of topics you want to hear us cover in the new year. Drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org, or leave us a voicemail at 202–59–NOWRK, that’s 202–596–6975.
Alanis: This has been a production of the CrimethInc Ex-Worker’s Collective.
Clara: Until next time…
Alanis: Long live anarchy! Yeeeeeeeehaw!
Links and references from this episode of The Ex-Worker:
Anarchists all over the world rang in the new year by demonstrating outside of prisons and jails. Here are links to some write-ups from actions that took place in Omaha, New York City, Seattle, Helsinki, Athens, Volos, and Larissa.
Looking for some good reads to get you through this cold snap? Here’s more on anarchism from classic anarchists Emma Goldman, Marcus Graham, Daniel Guérin, Peter Kropotkin, Stuart Christie, Gustav Landauer, and Alfredo Bonanno.
We’ll be covering more perspectives on anarchism as it relates to gender and feminism in future episodes, but for the time being, here are some from anarchist feminists Voltairine de Cleyre and Carol Erlich, and the Anarcha Library.
But of course, you may already be an anarchist…
Statements about the situation in Ukraine from the anarchist Autonomous Worker’s Union in Kiev, and some well-documented analysis that breaks down the interests behind the media gloss. For more background, check out the CrimethInc feature on the revolution in Serbia titled “Fake Revolutions, Real Struggles”.
For more about radical roots in Christianity, look into the Brethren of the Free Spirit, the Ranters, the Diggers,, the Adamites and Beguines. Intrigued? Check out Norman Cohn’s classic history “Pursuit of the Millennium,” or for a lively historical fiction account, check out “Q” by Luther Blissett.
The NATO 3 are beginning trial this week. Check out their support website here. We’ll cover their case in more detail next week.
Upcoming Prisoner Birthdays:
Oscar López Rivera #87651–024 [January 6th]
Terre Haute FCI
P.O. Box 33
Terre Haute, IN 47808
Jeremy Hammond #18729–424 [January 8th]
P.O. Box 150160
Atlanta, GA 30315
Sundiata Acoli #39794–066 [January 14th]
P.O. Box 1000
Cumberland, MD 21501
Please address envelope to C. Squire, letter or card to Sundiata Acoli
Herman Bell #79C0262 [January 14th]
Great Meadow Correctional Facility
11739 State Route 22
P.O. Box 51
Comstock, New York 12821–0051
Joseph “Joe-Joe” Bowen #AM–4272 [January 15th]
1 Kelley Drive
Coal Township, PA 17866–1021