Listen to the Episode — 116 min



Clara: The Ex-Worker;

Alanis: An audio strike against a monotone world,

Clara: A monthly podcast of anarchist ideas and action;

Alanis: For everyone who dreams of a life off the clock.

Clara: Greetings, comrades and friends and lovers of freedom! Welcome back to the Ex-Worker! Last time we didn’t have enough space to share all of the fascinating and insightful reflections on 2015 we received from around the world, so in this episode we’ll have the Ex-Worker’s Year in Review, part two!

Alanis: We’ll hear comrades from Chile, Finland, Brazil, Korea, the Czech Republic, Colombia, and Europeans doing solidarity work in Kurdistan. We’ll also share reflections on the environmental movement’s so-called “victory” around the Keystone XL pipeline, and stories on anti-fascist actions in the UK and Australia.

Clara: There’s also a review of the latest issue of Perspectives on Anarchist Theory, published by the Insititute for Anarchist Studies, some listener feedback, news, events, updates on and calls for solidarity with radical prisoners Leonard Peltier and Herman Bell, prisoner birthdays, and plenty more. I’m Clara…

Alanis: And I’m Alanis, and we’ll be your hosts. Don’t forget to visit for a full transcript of this episode including lots of links and additional info to find out more.

Clara: And we want to hear your thoughts on this episode, updates from the struggles you’re part of, and whatever else you’d like to share - send us an email to podcast at crimethinc dot com.

Alanis: So, shall we get started?

Clara: Let’s do it.


Alanis: We’ll get things rolling with the Hot Wire, a quick look at the rousing range of rebellion, revolt, repression, resistance, and rabble-rousing going on across the world. Clara, what’s the deal?

Clara: Well, it was New Year’s, and so there were plenty of noise demonstrations outside prisons and jails and detention centers all over the place. We’ve heard reports of them taking place in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Minneapolis, Minnesota, Bloomington, Indiana, Toronto and Hamilton, Ontario, and of course Montreal, Seattle, Oakland, New York, and the other usual suspects.

Alanis: One of the six cops responsible for the death of Freddie Gray in Baltimore went to trial, but the jury was deadlocked and a mistrial declared; a new trial has been scheduled for June.

News Pundit: “When you have this kind of outcome, you are going to have a very explosive situation.”

Alanis: A number of protestors faced off with police and a couple of arrests were made, but an explosion was averted. Counterinsurgency efforts were in full swing: to quote the Baltimore Sun article, “Political leaders and neighborhood organizations called for calm in the leadup to the verdict. Police assembled in Druid Hill Park and schools CEO Gregory Thornton sent home letters to parents warning against student disruptions.”

Clara: A cop in Pennsylvania, while trying to evict a guy from his home, shot and killed his twelve year old daughter.

Alanis: In what has been described as a victory for animal rights activists, the FBI announced that it has classified animal cruelty as a Class A Felony, meaning they’ll track it in a national database along with crimes like homocide and arson. The FBI is not, however, going to track murders of people by police, leaving that job up to websites like, which documented 1,202 people slaughtered by US law enforcement in 2015.

Clara: How anybody in this day and age can see the FBI expanding the scope of its surveillance and monitoring as a positive thing is beyond me. Did these “animal rights activists” forget that animal activists were a primary domestic targets of FBI operations for years? Or that the SHAC 7 cumulatively served dozens of years in prison for running a website devoted to supporting direct action against animal abuse, solely because of the FBI’s obsessive vendetta against them?

Alanis: Meanwhile, the ALF is at it again, freeing 27 rabbits from an experimental facility at the National University of La Plata in Argentina and three partridges from the clutches of hunters in Turkey.

Clara: Rebels at the Hambacher Forest Occupation in Germany, topic of our audio documentary in Episode 37, carried out acts of arson and sabotage against the open cast brown coal mine operated by RWE.

Alanis: Former CIA officials blamed the Paris Islamic State attacks on companies that offer computer encryption that can’t be cracked by state agencies. Former CIA chief James Woolsey said NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden “has blood on his hands” because, he asserted, the Paris attackers learned from his disclosures how to hide their communications behind encryption. Woolsey thus decreed on CNN that Snowden should be…

James Woolsey on CNN: “…hanged by the neck until he’s dead, rather than merely electrocuted.”

Alanis: Glenn Greenwald wrote a pretty good editorial picking apart these claims, which we’ve got linked on our website.

Clara: Clashes continued around the borders of Europe in the new year, as migrants continue to struggle for passage into the EU. Off the coast of Spain, at least three migrants drowned and several more were injured in violent clashes with police at the Moroccan border, while six cops were injured in clashes with migrants in Calais attempting to cross into the UK.

Alanis: We reported several episodes ago on massive protests in the small former Soviet bloc country of Moldova, the poorest country in Europe, where in 2014 some wealthy capitalists managed to make off with an eighth of the country’s GDP in a massive banking fraud. A new pro-EU government has just taken power, in response to which angry protestors stormed the parliament building.

Clara: It’s worth noting that our source for this is Russia Today, which is an explicitly pro-Russia new site and therefore has a distinct interest in emphasizing eastern European resistance to pro-EU governments and policies. Still, regardless of the ominous hand of Russia that supposedly lurks behind every rebellious action in the former Soviet Union - a line that the EU-aligned power elites in these countries work hard to propagate - whenever government is delegitimized and protestors find new power, possibilities can open up that neither monolithic power can fully control.

Alanis: Massive protests have raged across Ethiopia since November against a proposed government project in the Oromia region that would have displaced many farmers. In a story familiar across Africa, Latin America, and Asia, a student from the region was quoted as saying, “All we hear about is development. The new foreign-owned farms and roads is what the world knows, but that just benefits the government. For us it means we lose our land and then we can’t sustain ourselves anymore.” Despite killing over 140 people over the course of the protests, the government was forced to abandon the project; nonetheless, protests continue.

Clara: In Chitungwiza, Zimbabwe, bus drivers stormed the city council to protest against bureaucratic fees, clashing with riot police and with drunken youths hired by the ruling political party to fight them off.

Alanis: Young people in Hezoua, Algeria shut down a border crossing with Tunisia, demanding employment and redistribution of agricultural land to the poor.

Clara: And clashes between the poor and the authorities are breaking out in Tunisia, including a rebellion by unemployed workers, who occupied a regional government building, shut down streets with burning tires, and torched a national guard post. The protests, which exploded after the death of Ridha Yahyaoui, a 28-year-old unemployed college graduate who had climbed an electric pole in protest against unemployment, have spread across much of the country, with thousands taking to the streets, clashing with security forces, and in some places smashing shops and looting. The government announced a nationwide curfew and has banned all protests, ostensibly due to a state of emergency necessary because of the “threat of terrorism.” The country’s major labor organization, the General Labor Union, which was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize for their role in “reconciling the country” after the Arab Spring…

Alanis: Reconciling them to what?

Clara: Exactly. Anyway, according to the media, they’ve called for “a national dialogue between political parties and civil society groups to find solutions in response to the protests.” Our friends at the Dialectical Delinquents blog refer to this as “another neat reminder of how unions, Nobel peace prizes, political parties and civil society groups are all united in trying to find ways of presenting continuing misery as ‘solutions in response to the protests.’”

Alanis: Incidentally, I think the news coverage has emphasized that the protestor who died was a “college graduate” to highlight that in Tunisia as well as in Egypt and other Arab Spring countries, education opportunities have expanded while employment opportunities have not. This has resulted in the existence of a substantial class of formally educated people who are not only unemployed and poor, but - this is key - were led to believe that they could live a different life. This gap between expectations and reality, the combination of material privation with the feeling of deserving something different, is a key factor in revolutionary mobilization throughout history.

Clara: And I think this new wave of clashes indicates pretty clearly the limits to an understanding of the Arab Spring as simply a rebellion against dictatorship, and thus by implication a call for representative democracy - which is of course the only other form of government or social organization that exists in the world, or so they’d like us to believe. The so-called Color Revolutions from Eastern Europe fit into the US’s notion of democratic uprisings quite nicely; in general, the people organized (with plenty of help from covert US funding), rose up, kicked out oppressive regimes, and then once parliamentary democracies were established, went back to work and essentially the same misery. It’s pretty clear now from Egypt, Tunisia, and the Arab Spring in general that the people of the Arab world are not going to content themselves with this, when police violence, unemployment, poverty, and all the basic conditions of their lives have largely remained the same. But the Islamic State is fighting hard for the chance to define what the alternative to Western-style capitalist parliamentary democracy is going to be, which of course suits Western democracies just fine. So it’s up to anarchists and rebels against authority of all stripes to articulate ways forward that reject both religious fundamentalism and capitalist democracy, and a notion of freedom that doesn’t rely on false gods, be they Christ, Allah, the nation, or the market.


Alanis: And now it’s time for some listener feedback! We’ve actually got a backlog of messages from listeners, but we’re gonna hold off on most of it until next episode, so that we can focus on finishing up our year in review reflections.

Clara: But first, a minor correction to offer about last episode. In our review of the AK Press anthology “Taking Sides,” we referred to the article “A Critique of Ally Politics” as having also appeared in Rolling Thunder #12. In fact, it actually appeared in Rolling Thunder #11. Sorry about that. Both issues are top notch, so don’t hesitate to read ’em both.

Alanis: That said, before we get to the international reflections, we have a couple more to share from the US, specifically around fascism and around the environmental movement and eco-defense struggles (which, as we sadly acknowledge, are far from the same thing).

Clara: One listener wrote in from the US/Mexico border, a region that does not tend to produce optimism. They wrote that the most significant recent development was the continuation of:

Alanis: The externalization of borders by nation-states and the internalization of borders psychologically. We will see the ways these lines demarcate both the manner in which we live and the manner in which we die. When will they determine the manner in which we resist? We are entering into a darker era where we will be asked evermore to account for what we have and have not done to resist fascism, in the greater geopolitical realm and within our own communities. I expect to watch a lot of things fall apart - and within that chaos, to continue to persist.

Clara: Damn. Real talk.

Alanis: Definitely borders have been a major point of discussion and conflict globally and among anarchists over the past year. The externalization of borders refers to the process by which powerful states increasingly use less powerful states as filters and gatekeepers for migrants in a gradated system of global hierarchy. Examples of this include how deterring central and south American migrants from crossing the US/Mexico border has increasingly been outsourced to the Mexico/Guatemala border, and how the Schengen system in Europe uses non-EU countries like Serbia and less wealthy outer EU nations like Greece as buffers to absorb and deflect the flow of migrants north and west. These borders, and the ones we internalize, are indeed increasingly determining how we live, move, and die; we’ll try to continue our coverage of how we resist them in 2016.

Clara: And I think it’s really important for us to continue to examine fascism and a political and psychological phenomenon, to understand it with some complexity and nuance. When “fascism” is just a reactive slur we sling at anything we see as authoritarian - or anything we don’t like - we’re missing an opportunity to understand what’s specific about it, why it’s spreading now, and why so many people are drawn to it… as well as what it does (or doesn’t) have in common with tendencies we see in our own communities and movements. We need to have a precise and not just polemical account of what fascism is and how it functions, so that we can oppose it externally and uproot it internally.

Alanis: I think we did a pretty good job of getting that process started in Episodes 11 and 12, but we always need to be learning and updating our analysis and strategies as conditions change. The critique offered by Sasha in the To Change Everything tour presentation of militant anti-fascism in the Czech Republic is a sobering one, and one we should take note of in our approaches to Nazi or KKK rallies as well as the popularity of Donald Trump.

Clara: Now, to be clear, that’s not to say that militant anti-fascist tactics of confronting Nazis in the streets is not effective, or, to use a precise technical term, fucking awesome. A correspondent from London Anarchist Black Cross wrote to us that one of the most significant events of 2015 for anarchism and anti-fascism took place in Liverpool in August, when a planned fascist rally called the “White Man’s March” was utterly crushed by a determined anti-fascist force. The fascists’ puny turnout - perhaps 20 to 30 out of an expected 150 - was confronted by hundreds of anti-fascists and outraged locals, chased out of the train station, forced to hide for safety in a left luggage shop, then chased off with their flags stolen and burned. It was a dramatic and unambiguous victory for the anti-fascist movement in a time when backlash against immigrants and Muslims was on the rise across Europe.

Alanis: The group National Action, an organizer of the failed fascist demo, exemplified a new trend in extreme-right racist groups that emulate the aesthetic and rhetoric of anarchist movements, posing as a radical youth subculture in an effort to attract disaffected young people to racist ideologies. Now, to get on my soapbox for a minute…

Clara: Are you ever off it, Alanis?

Alanis: Fair enough. Point being: unfortunately, some groups like the Southern Poverty Law Center that were founded to monitor racist and far right groups have now adopted a language of opposing “extremism” rather than racism, fascism, or even the still vague but at least more on point term “hate groups.” By focusing on so-called extremism, they’ve expanded their mandate to include anarchists and earth and animal liberationists as targets of their surveillance, which further muddies the waters by associating us with fascist groups that we oppose. The existence of groups that emulate anarchist style and rhetoric towards fascist ends offers yet another reason why it’s non-negotiably crucial for anarchists to be consistently active and visible in anti-racist struggles, so that no one can lump us together with fascists in a generic anti-extremism and in doing so delegitimize direct action.

It’s thrilling to hear about these scumbags getting such a solid trouncing; but let’s make sure to continue to support anti-fascist organizing on all levels, from demos in the streets to anti-oppression education to autonomous organizing by people of color and indigenous communities to immigrant solidarity and everything else we can think of.

Clara: And to wrap up our reflections on anti-fascism, we’ll share a quick reportback from an antifascist action that took place in late 2015 in Melton, Victoria, Australia. Our correspondent writes:

Alanis: Melton is a quiet semi-rural/industrial suburb about an hour from downtown Melbourne. The fascist organization “Reclaim Australia” took a page out of the book of the “United Patriots Front,” their semi-successful comrades (or, depending on the day, enemies) and jumped on a bullshit falsified local non-issue, in this case the supposed rejection of planning approval for a special education facility in favor of an Islamic school. The rally began on a lovely Sunday morning with speeches and shouting at both fascist forces, being the flag-waving thugs and our enemies in blue. Masked comrades kept the violence away from those who wanted to be kept safe as well as shoveling cops and ejecting media pigs trying to capture the faces of the injured and de-masked. The day finished with a cop-facilitated fascist march to a shitty carpark/playground after a bloody and desperate brawl between the organized anarchist warriors and the shirtless, drunken nationalists. Many fash copped a face full of flag-poles and fists as well as cops pepper spraying both sides. Horse cops entered the scuffles to chants of the classic line from the Aussie hip-hop act ‘Combat Wombat’: ‘Sponsored by multinational forces, GET THOSE ANIMALS OFF THOSE HORSES!’.

One of the many mind-boggling highlights of the day was members of the fash telling an indigenous speaker to “Go back to where you came from!” Remember that Australia always was and always will be Aboriginal land and is not up for reclaiming by anyone, including me, the descendant of colonizing pieces of shit.

Clara: Thanks to our Aussie correspondent for the report! It’s not hard to imagine that we’ll be seeing a lot more of these types of conflicts in 2016, with nationalist and fascist forces gaining momentum in many parts of the world. In the US, 2015 was marked by a surge in explicitly white supremacist organizing, in part surging in late summer and fall in response to the Confederate Flag controversy in South Carolina, fueled by right wing paranoia around the end of Obama’s presidency and possible restrictions on gun purchase and ownership, and tying in to Donald Trump’s pretty blatant race-baiting and police efforts to frame the Black Lives Matter movement as the cause of an imaginary violent backlash against poor defenseless police officers who are just trying to protect and serve us.

Alanis: On social media, a wave of so-called “White Student Union” groups have appeared at universities across the US, though it’s unclear if they’re just internet creations or actual student organizing efforts. They draw on the language of identity politics, “safe space,” and the notion of white victimhood at the hands of political correctness and, in the words of a University of Texas at Austin organizer, “Black Lives Matter terrorism,” whatever that means.

Clara: 2015 in the USA - asserting that the lives of black people matter has become a terrorist offense.

Alanis: While, of course, Dylan Roof isn’t a terrorist for murdering nine people in an effort to start a race war.

Clara: Starting last year, right wingers have been trying to spread rumors that ISIS terrorists are operating along the US/Mexico border, trying to slip into the US and establish sleeper cells that will attack when we least expect it. While these rumors have been thoroughly debunked, they represent the epitome of racist fears tying together Muslims, Central American migrants, terrorism and border security into a jumbled nightmare requiring nothing short of a racist backlash.

Alanis: And while thousands of people rush to buy high powered weapons before more gun control restrictions can be put into effect, zombie movies are more popular than ever, depicting allegories for white fears of rampaging irrational black and brown proles attempting to eat their brains. Hence Donald Trump, millionaire businessman and zombie hunter extraordinaire, white America’s Ku Klux knight in shining white armor. Or for the more liberally inclined, Hillary Clinton, facilitator of the bombing and destabilization of Libya and supporter of the US invasion of Iraq while touting gun control to court cop-loving liberals at home.

Clara: Suddenly I’m not feeling so optimistic about 2016, either.


Alanis: Well, you think that’s depressing, how about environmental news from the last year?

Clara: Oh, boy, I can hardly wait.

Alanis: One major news event for the environmental movement in 2015 was President Obama’s announcement in November that he was rejecting the Keystone XL pipeline proposed to send tar sands oil flowing south from Canada to the Gulf Coast. Here’s what the ever-cheerful Sierra Club had to say:

Clara: They said that it couldn’t be done. They said our sights were too high. That Keystone XL was a “done deal” and would be approved just like any other oil pipeline. Yet after years of hard work and amazing dedication, we have achieved a monumental victory in the fight to protect our planet from the disastrous effects of fossil fuels and carbon pollution: President Obama has rejected the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline once and for all! We owe this victory to the millions of Americans who came together and proved that people power can beat Big Oil, their billions of dollars, their armies of lobbyists, and the politicians they’ve bought."

Alanis: Hmm… why do I feel a little suspicious, Clara?

Clara: Uh, well, probably because it’s bullshit: at best misleading, and at worst a directly manipulative straight-up lie.

Alanis: Sigh… why am I not surprised?

Clara: We received this report from some Tar Sands Blockaders who’ve been there on the ground in the grassroots fight against the pipeline. Here’s what they have to say about it.

Tar Sands Blockaders: In November of 2015 the mainstream environmental movement claimed a huge “win” over the Keystone XL pipeline. As anarchists who spent years organizing against KXL on the ground, we would like to share our critique of this NGO narrative and name this what it is: total, wretched bullshit.

The “We Won!” story spun by the big green NGOs (i.e. the Sierra Club,, Natural Resources Defense Council, National Wildlife Federation, and others) leaves out any mention of KXL South, the 500 miles of pipe flowing from Oklahoma down to the Texas Gulf Coast. Back in 2011 when the #NoKXL campaign kicked off with the Tar Sands Action event in DC (the one where about 1200 people were arrested outside the White House during sit-ins), KXL was a single 1700 mile long pipeline project connecting the Alberta tar sands with refineries and export terminals in Texas. Since 2012 was an election year, Obama attempted to silence his opposition by delaying the northern half of KXL while simultaneously appeasing big oil by expediting construction of the far more critically important KXL South. At that time TransCanada was already shipping tar sands down to Oklahoma through other pipelines in its network and had created a surplus of landlocked, unrefined tar sands that was driving prices down. The KXL South would soon be the critical link extending that network of pipelines all the way through Texas to refineries and ports along the Gulf Coast.

Instead of opposing the new southern leg, many NGOs predictably parroted TransCanada’s talking points, declaring that the southern leg was not the real KXL and that only the northern leg would be their target. Undeterred, many residents and landowners impacted by the pipeline organized to take direct action. The Tar Sands Blockade (TSB) and Great Plains Tar Sands Resistance (GPTSR) blockaded the shit out of KXL South. Dozens of actions included everything from construction site takeovers, unclaimed sabotage, heavy equipment lockdowns, aerial tree blockades, storming corporate offices, and in one case even locking down to barrels of concrete inside the pipeline itself! But, sadly, it was not enough. We might have slowed them down (and cost them more than $5 million in delays according to their SLAPP suits against us), but by the end of 2013, KXL South was in the ground.

Incidentally, a SLAPP suit refers to the acronym “Strategic Litigation Against Public Participation,” an activist phrase for the kinds of absurd civil lawsuits filed by corporations against people and groups campaigning against them. Even when they’re legally unfounded, they can damage movements by costing them astronomical amounts of money in legal fees and forcing settlements like gag orders or restraining orders.

Alanis: Good thing we have such an impartial legal system in this free country. Gah, those scumbags.

Clara: Agreed. Anyway, back to the story:

Tar Sands Blockaders: All that time NGOs were using massive amount of resources to organize symbolic protests against KXL North, mostly in the predictable and highly controllable arenas of Washington DC. Unsurprisingly, they never attempted to mobilize their base to come to Oklahoma or Texas and actually stop construction of KXL­. The “environmental movement” had decided that our communities were disposable and that TX and OK would be sacrifice zones in order for them to have a campaign they could “win.”

Don’t get us wrong - we are elated for communities in so-called Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska and across Lakota territory who will not face this same fate. That win is important and should be celebrated; yet, we find it disturbing that so many people don’t know that KXL is flowing, even though it’s like the most talked about pipeline in US history. The southern leg is the inconvenient truth NGOs won’t talk about. None of them supported David Daniel, who initiated much of the grassroots resistance in Texas and opened the space for TSB and GPTSR to act. David was eventually sued by TransCanada for his boldness and is now under a gag order that bars him from speaking about TransCanada or KXL, even though it’s flowing through his backyard.

The NGO campaign against KXL is a case study in how the nonprofit industrial complex functions to both pacify its own base of supporters and disarm the frontlines of struggles. It seems absurd to suggest that all we have to do to win is write a few letters, sign a few petitions, and show up to a couple rallies, but it is undeniable that there are literally millions of people that think the fight against KXL was a complete victory all thanks to that exact model.

Zooming out: before the #NOKXL campaign began, industry was moving less than 200,000 barrels per day (BPD) from Canada to the Gulf Coast; today that number has reached almost 1.5 million BPD. Many anarchists who have engaged in similar fights against other tar sands infrastructure have noted that pipelines are critical chokepoints for blockading the flows of carbon and capital to world markets. While landlocked, this fuel is comprised of little more than poisonous sand with speculative value. So if there is any hope to stop their development it is not in the freezing streets outside the halls of power in Paris or DC – it is on our terms, in places we know and love, with people we trust. Start digging in, because this is anything but over.

Clara: Hell yeah! Thanks so much to these badass Tar Sands Blockaders for all the years of struggle they’ve put in despite being betrayed and let down by the big NGOs again and again.

Alanis: It’s just so infuriating that the big green NGOs are framing this as a victory for “people power” and “citizen action”, where this is actually an even more clear-cut case than usual of a single person wielding the arbitrary power to make a decision that affects millions of people - and not him himself - personally. The fairly obvious response that an anarchist or anyone with common sense can make to this is that when that much power is vested in a single person or a single office, then whenever that person changes his mind, or is better paid by a different faction, or is replaced by someone who feels differently, they can just as easily go back on that promise and do something different. Case in point: Donald Trump said via Twitter in August, “If I am elected President I will immediately approve the Keystone XL pipeline. No impact on environment & lots of jobs for U.S.” Not terribly surprising, given that he owns $250,000 in stock in TransCanada, the company building the pipeline. So then, if we want to continue the illusion that our “people power” and “citizen action” means something, we have to devote it all towards voting for some Democratic schmuck, who may or may not sell the movement out, all the while locating any ability to actually act and change things outside of ourselves, in Washington rather than on the ground where it actually matters. The point is that when our notion of “people power” is based on the ability of masses of people to convince a ruler to act differently, rather than our ability to use direct action to prevent ecological destruction and organize our own lives, that so-called power is always mediated, always fragile, and ultimately an illusion. And whenever we do anything to legitimize that power hierarchy, we’re ultimately making ourselves and the environment more vulnerable in the long and short term.

Clara: Yep.

Alanis: Gaaaargh! I know I’m preaching to the choir here, Clara, but that shit just makes me SO MAD!

Clara: Well, that shows us what’s at stake in really stepping up to take direct action against pipelines, infrastructure projects, dirty energy companies, deforestation, and all that other noxious shit that industrial capitalism and industrial state socialism have bequeathed us. On that note, our Tar Sands Blockade correspondents sent us some info about some environmental resistance projects going on in the Gulf Coast region, if you want to learn more about struggles happening down there. And if you want to hear more about the Tar Sands Blockade from an anarchist perspective, take a look way back to Episode 3, where we interview a participant in the campaign.

Alanis: Looking ahead to 2016, one listener who’s involved with the Prison Ecology Project gave us a heads up about a gathering that’s being organized in the Washington D.C. area on June 11 –13 focused on building around the intersection of incarceration and the environment. It’ll address issues ranging from support for eco-prisoners to fighting the construction and operation of prisons using environmental tools and strategies. They also pointed out a struggle brewing against a new federal prison slated to be built on a former mountaintop removal site in Eastern Kentucky. And if you want to get together and strategize with other eco-radicals, the Earth First! Winter Organizer’s Conference will take place February 10th–15th on Chumash territory outside Santa Barbara, California. We’ve got links with info on those posted on our website,

Clara: We’re all collectively responsible for dismantling the industrial economy that’s threatening all life on earth; it’s not enough to join up as “citizens” in coalitions to relinquish our power to politicians and bureaucrats, as the green nonprofits would have us do… and it’s DEFINITELY not enough to just gripe about the nonprofits and use their myopic liberalism as an excuse to not take action. Take a look around you, wherever you are, notice where the tendrils of ecocidal capitalism have dug in, and figure out what it would take to hack them out at the roots.


Alanis: As we did for our 2014 Year in Review, this year we asked many of our friends and comrades around the world for their thoughts about 2015’s most significant events and developments, and what they thought we should look out for in 2016. Since our last episode was so full that we didn’t have the space to include them all, we’ll share the responses we received from folks outside the US here.

We’ll get started with a lengthy report sent from comrades in Chile about the eventful year in anarchy that took place in the world’s longest country.


Clara: At 205 years from it’s so-called liberation from Spain, 132 years from the conquest of WallMapu, 42 years from the military coup that ushered in neoliberalism and dictatorship, and 25 years from the return to democracy, anarchist resistance burns bright in heart of Chile, in the capital city of Santiago. The historical memory of these events and resistance to them is everywhere - literally written on the walls, alive in the signs and slogans raised in any protest, and commemorated on the various combative dates throughout the year. In the tradition of that long memory, this annual report isn’t like those of businessmen or NGOs, detailing our linear progress towards some long awaited revolution. Rather, we hope to highlight some of the contemporary ways anarchists, anti-authoritarians, and nihilists in Chile are holding down their side in this centuries old war between people and power.

If you’ve heard anything about contemporary anarchism in Chile, you know that the student movement is very strong. This year in Santiago, two tragic events kicked things into high gear. On May 14, during a march for free education in Valparaiso, two students were shot and killed by the son of a store-owner, whose shop they were reported to have been wheat pasting posters on. A week later on May 21, also during a demonstration in Valparaiso, another student was hit in close range by a water cannon, cracking his head on the concrete and ending up in a coma. A nighttime anti-repression march was called for May 28, with 150,000 reported in attendance. The march had a particularly somber character, highlighted by disciplined torch bearers and a haunting choir of mourning students painted in white. Once the march reached the presidential palace of La Moneda, masked encapuchados started to erect burning barricades, looted stores, and engaged in fiery street battles with the carabiñeros. The march route downtown was covered in a fine dust of tear gas that provoked the senses for days afterwards.

At this point, at least a dozen universities had gone on strike or were occupied - the Metropolitan Technological University, the University of Chile, the University of Valparaiso, central university, the National Institute (which is actually a high school), and the University of Santiago, just to name a few. These occupations were backed by a strike called for by Chile’s largest teachers union. Even a few departments in the conservative Catholic University went on strike. By June, just in time for the Copa America soccer tournament, the whole city was peppered with decorative banners hanging from barricaded university gates and rooftops. Students also hosted a “football kick-around for free education,” shutting down the major downtown boulevard with hundreds of soccer balls and lobbing them at the cops, the hated referees of society.

Spirits weren’t the only thing lifted when subway construction workers used a crane to hoist their bosses’ truck into the air, declaring a strike for better pay. The strike was also coordinated to disrupt the beginning of the Copa America tournament.

The Mapuche struggle for their ancestral land continues in the south. Various logging trucks, a hydroelectric office, and even a forestry corporation’s helicopter got torched in direct action attacks this year. Starting in March, four Mapuche political prisoners went on a 46 day hunger strike for better prison conditions, losing 20 to 40 pounds in body weight each. The hunger strike was supported with various solidarity activities and actions throughout the country. In August, a group of right-wing truckers blocked the highway between Valparaiso and Santiago with burning trucks, calling for even worse government repression against “terrorist attacks” on logging trucks in Wallmapu territory. The truckers, accompanied by citizens waving the flag of the fascist party Patria Y Libertad, then marched on La Moneda, but not without a few scuffles with leftist and indigenous counter-protestors. On October 14, thousands of Mapuche people and others in solidarity marched on Santiago, demanding land rights and condemning Columbus Day. The march ended in street confrontations with police.

November 5th was added to the list of combative dates observed this year. This date commemorates the deaths of MIR militants Pablo Vergara and Aracely Romo during the dictatorship. It was observed with university activities and street conflicts throughout the 90s, but not as much in the last few years. This year, a handful of the more combative unions wheat pasted calls for resistance on November 5th and confrontations between police and encapuchados took place in the Poblacion Villa Francia.

Pablo was the brother of Rafael and Eduardo Vergara, the MIR militants whose 1985 death is commemorated on the Day of the Youth Combatant every year on March 29. This year’s street fighting on Day of the Youth Combatant was especially fierce, perhaps owing to it being the 30th anniversary, and 3 cops were killed during conflicts in the poblacion La Victoria. The commemorative activities in Villa Francia also had a special character to them this year, since Sol Vergara, the anarchist cousin of the commemorated brothers, was found guilty in February of firing on a bank security guard in 2014. The prosecutor alleged that Sol attacked the guard to avenge vegan straight edge anarchist comrade Sebastian Oversluij who was killed in an attempted bank robbery in 2013. Sol Vergara is now serving a sentence of 7 years.

There are a lot of political prisoners right now. In one particularly high profile case, 5 young comrades were arrested under charges of carrying out a firebomb attack against the human rights branch of the PDI, the Chilean FBI. Also arrested under Molotov-related charges are two comrades who are alleged to have been participating in street conflicts on September 11, the date of the coup that inaugurated Chile’s 17 year-long military dictatorship. A modification made to the arms control law back in February now means that these comrades are facing much heavier sentences than have been seen before for Molotov related charges.

Another important topic in 2015 that has seen much mobilization, from both the left and the right, is the topic of decriminalizing abortion. Abortion in Chile is illegal, and despite being situated between three countries with even stricter laws, abortion here is nonetheless carried out in clandestinity and, as always, the reprisals are only ever applied to poorer women, who are harassed and arrested.

The proposed decriminalization of abortion is currently being debated by a mostly male senate, and would only be decriminalized in the case of rape or health risks to the mother or fetus. In this environment there is no genuine interest women’s health, and as long as abortion is not morally decriminalized, women will continue to be threatened in medical centers even though it is legal. So there is no trust in the state’s proposal, because it also only covers a minimum percentage of the abortions that are carried out every year, and it puts women in a position where they are subject to doubt (for example, they must institutionally prove that they were raped, thereby being re-victimized).

Anarchist feminists have been organizing around the issue, proposing that only through networks of women, feminists and lesbians can safe abortion be achieved in the country, as it is they themselves who provide information, help to resist harassment from the law and other sectors of society, and seek to ensure maximum safety to women who have abortions as a part of anti-authoritarian and anti-prison strategies.

Although one anarchist video this year described Chile as the “largest exporter of riot porn footage in the western hemisphere,” the creative urge is just as strong, even if it doesn’t make it into all that riot porn footage we, um, export.

A new anarchist periodical, El Anarquico, was inaugurated at the beginning of this year, and is still going strong. It has a nice blend of classic anarchist texts alongside anarchist perspectives on contemporary questions, wrapped up in a militant but clean aesthetic that reaches out to everyday people on the street. In fact, it even gets carried by the newspaper kiosks on Alameda, the main boulevard downtown! Each issue has a print run of 2000, and they’ve put out 6 issues this year! Go Anarquico!

In more anarchist print news, Santiago’s anarchist book fair turned 4 this year, and left its traditional location in Villa Francia for Poblacion Nuevo Amanecer, or New Day, with the intention of taking place in a different poblacion every year from here on out. The book fair was well attended and had workshops on social ecology, illegalism, the lautaro youth guerrilla movement, permaculture, and anarchism for children. Valparaiso had its own anarchist gathering in November, the Jornadas Anarquicas, with a moving Skype presentation by north american ex-political prisoner Eric McDavid. Speaking of international solidarity, in November a month-long solidarity campaign with the revolution in Rojava was organized with lots of anarchist participation. Comrades even managed to fly in a Kurdish feminist from the region and organized a short speaking tour for her.

The Sante Geronimo Caserio library lost its lease on its current space, but is hoping to open its doors at a new location soon. El Jardin, a new social center in Poblacion Sara Gajardo, is literally being constructed from the ground up–made from recycled materials and hosting everything from printmaking for kids to anarchist self-defense workshops.

The oldest anarchist occupied social center in Santiago, and the first to make it to 10 years, La Volnitza, recently lost its court case against the new owners who bought the building in 2011. Since then, the house has gone through various trials, mafia style threats, and other kinds of harassment like getting the lights cut off. La Volnitza has been one of the most public anarchist social centers in Santiago, and has hosted lots of important projects, like the Sinapsis videozines from the Productora de Comunicacion Social and the Sociedad de Resistencia Santiago. The comrades at Volnitza are now entering the final phase of appeals. If they lose, it looks like they will be evicted in 2016, but if they win, everyone listening is invited to come party! They are especially excited about hosting events for folks from international social movements. It will be a historical precedent for other social centers in Santiago if La Volnitza can win their appeal. We wish them the best of luck.

Although not all anarchists are punks and not all punks are anarchists, the punk scene in Santiago is very big and very close to the anarchist movement, and there was one very tragic event this year that affected many of us. in April, at a concert of the punk band Doom, a rush on the door and the ensuing violence from the bouncers resulted in 5 dead and over a dozen injured. Those who died played in anarchist punk bands, were related to other comrades, and most importantly could have been any one of us who had decided to go see one of the better known bands in the worldwide anarchist punk scene. This tragedy left many of us angry and scared, questioning whether we are just building a consumer subculture or a true counterculture that has fundamentally different priorities than that of capitalism and all the violence that accompanies it. While the deaths were horrific, the outpouring of support and solidarity was inspiring, and helped many of us in the punk scene realize the capacity we have to accomplish much with the horizontal, do it yourself networks we have. There is a lot more to the story, and for English readers we recommend the report on Maximum Rock’n’Roll’s website entitled “Four Dead After Tragedy at DOOM Show in Chile.” Gaston, Daniel, Fabian, Ignacio, and Rob we carry you in our struggles and in our hearts.

It would be impossible to encompass in a single report all the publications, conferences, social center activity, poblacion anniversaries, theater pieces, murals, and festivals that comprised this year of anarchy in Santiago, Chile, but we hope that this imperfect summary finds resonance in other anarchist hearts across the world, and that any fires it sparks may come back to us one day to illuminates the darkness of capitalism and authority here at the end of the world. Somos pocos, pero locos. We’re few, but crazy.

Alanis: If you want to learn more about anarchism in Chile, including historical context for the Pinochet dictatorship, the role of memory and commemoration in militant struggle, and live interviews with a variety of active anarchists, check out Episodes 29 and 30.


Clara: Back in Episode 42 we interviewed a Finnish anarchist about the anti-nuclear struggle and student occupations going on in that country. Here are some reflections on the past year of developments in Finland and how we might orient ourselves toward the new year as the welfare state is dismantled and social unrest increases.

Alanis: In April, a new governing coalition, including a right wing racist and populist party, took power, and immediately began to institute austerity measures. They took power away from established unions, cut social security, health care, day care, education, and wages, while increased subsidies for industry and granting permission for construction of a Russian-owned nuclear power plant, despite the clear opposition of the people.

Under the new government the mainstream media has become even more one-sided and reactionary, and the overall social atmosphere became more racist. Syrian and North African refugees seeking safety here have faced dozens of violent racist attacks, as many native Finns blindly buy into the story that the refugees are reason for the economic crisis.

It could be said that this was the very last year of the famous Nordic welfare state in Finland. To anarchists it brings a new kind of situation. We might find more rebels, but to what extent should we be demanding our rights from the state, versus heading straight towards completely different forms of organizing and economy? How can we as anarchists reach people who are fighting for their rights to summer vacations or child benefits? One positive aspect is that there have been the largest rallies we’ve seen in decades, and generally more political activity. Anarchists are finding new comrades and sympathizers as the state is no longer seen just as the protector of all things good and holy, and the left parties are unable to challenge the neoliberal hegemony.

Anarchist have been active in the general anti-austerity movement and in the student movements, as part of larger coalitions. In anti-racist and anti-fascist struggles anarchist have been in a central role. And of course there have been conflicts between liberal and radical views toward racism. In many ways, we have to take the situation seriously and think more strategically about how to be effective in stopping the raising xenophobia and growing fascist ideas, but without getting stuck just reacting, with no space for our own new struggles. How can we help transform the racism in the air into class struggle - or is it even possible?

On December 6th, the Finnish independence day, anarchists organized a demonstration aiming to stop a Nazi rally in the center of Helsinki. During the demonstration Finnish riot police used their new FN 303 “less lethal” weapons for the first time against demonstrators, shooting one person in the eye, as the cops defended the Nazis right to march.

One big thing of the year has been the antinuclear protest camp in Pyhäjoki. There’s been dozens of blockades and other actions since April, and we have read about several acts of sabotage against the nuclear power company Fennovoima. The camp continues, and during the last weeks of April 2016 they will host some days of action called “Reclaim the Cape” aiming to stop the construction.

The ABC groups have done valuable work, having regular support events and letter writing cafés in Helsinki and Tampere. A few open squats have offered space for new people to find comrades (until the evictions). University anarchist groups organized regular presentations about interesting topics and have been finding new audiences. In Helsinki the info shop Mustan kanin kolo moved into a bigger space. Even when new campaigns and urgent issues arise, it’s important that we still keep running the basic infrastructure. Anarchist magazines were published more than in last few years. The anarchist federation Alusta was established this summer, including groups in Helsinki, Turku and Tampere and members in country side around Finland. One aim of the federation is to offer some kind of support for people outside of the cities where it’s harder to be part of the movement alone. So I could summarize that the year 2015 was a rich year for anarchism in Finland.

In 2016 we should expect protests to spread and should think carefully about how to relate to them. We should be more open to meeting and finding common ground with new people who are also suffering under the system, instead of focusing on their “incorrect spots”, like diet choices, ways of seeing gender, and so on. As the welfare state disintegrates we should take anarchism more seriously, as a real potential path for the future, instead of just an isolated subculture - not that subcultures should not exist or can’t give rise to valuable practices, but anarchism is something more. If we are at a point where everything might be possible, it should be really important to reflect on the valuable critiques we get. One problem still is that at least in Finland anarchists are rather white and comes from middle class families. As long as we are not able to include and attract people in most vulnerable positions we are doing something wrong. I hope and assume that somewhere things are different!?

When a lot of things are happening, there is an even greater risk of burning out, so let’s also take care of ourselves and comrades in 2016. Even if we’re dreaming big, let’s not do more than we can. Let’s remember that trying to do too much is also hard on our friends who have to take care of the things that we couldn’t ourselves. Then conflicts arise, and everything gets hard..

Merry crisis and happy new fear!

Clara: These were really interesting reflections to read, and strangely hopeful - which is not a common sentiment among anarchists in the world today! And the situation in Finland is likely to spread to other parts of northern Europe as well, as austerity advances and folks seek alternatives to a dying welfare state. I think one of the most important points they raised had to do with challenge for anarchists in these settings of fighting austerity not by appealing for a return to the golden days of state welfare, but imagining something radically different and self-determined.

Alanis: Of course, in a situation in which discontent is generalizing and anarchist ideas and approaches can be broadly relevant, it’s important to transcend the limits of subculture. But I’m not sure how constructive it is to wring our hands about the race, class, and cultural composition of the segments of the anarchist movement we’re a part of. As I see it, it’s important that we see ourselves not as “the revolutionary subject” or whatever, but as a particular force - a small one, but by no means a powerless or irrelevant one - within a broad mosaic of resistance and social transformation. Given that, we should organize in the contexts and among the demographics that make sense to us, while always making an effort to challenge ourselves and extend solidarity both outward and inward.

Clara: Nicely put. I’d generally agree with that, though I’d add the plug that this approach doesn’t mean neglecting to challenging oppression, both in terms of internal dynamics in collectives and movements as well as through solidarity with broader struggles. That has to be a top priority for any struggle for freedom and against authority, from my vantage point.


Alanis: Next we’ll turn south again to Brazil, where over the last year millions of people took to the streets… but not necessarily in an encouraging way. Still, there are plenty of inspiring stories tucked into this narrative we received from one of our comrades there.

Clara: Hi, Ex-Worker comrades!

You know, 2015 was the year of the crisis for many people in Brazil. The most common pun of the year was to refer to “dois mil e crise” - two thousand and crisis - which sounds strikingly similar to “two thousand fifteen” in Portuguese. The year began with hypocritical maneuvers from the Workers Party after the elections and the ugly defeat of the movements fighting the new and bigger increase in the costs of public transit in São Paulo. And it ended with a very inspiring struggle of high school students, who occupied more than 200 public schools in São Paulo and started do to the same in 23 schools in Goiás. And between these events, a lot of trouble happened. So let’s try to do a timeline of the most interesting moments!

Unsurprisingly, President Dilma Rousseff betrayed all those movements and people from the left – including even some anarchists! – who supported her to keep the Workers Party’s hold on the presidency for the fourth consecutive term. She appointed conservatives to key ministerial positions, destroyed the unemployment and social security benefits of millions of workers, and refused to talk to the media until the end of January. Hopefully now we’ve learned that it doesn’t matter who we elect? Probably not, I’m sorry to say…

In January, protests erupted in many cities against a new, even larger transit fair hike. The costs of bus and metro tickets rose 50 cents in São Paulo, almost three times greater than the last proposed increase of 20 cents that started a wave of demonstrations that spread all over the country in 2013. The narrative of the “20 cents,” the specific, winnable demand that each movement should supposedly find to fight for and achieve their concrete victories, was put to the test… and failed. After a month of demonstrations and other activities, few people joined the struggle in the streets and the fair hikes went ahead. This produced a crisis within the autonomous movements, especially the Free Pass Movement (MPL), prompting a moment of reflection about their internal process and its own role as a movement. Many people were interested in taking part and becoming protagonists in the fight against the fair hike, but the MPL was not able to step back from their defining role and allow the struggle to decentralize.

In March 15 another major protest took place, organized by the new right wing movements emerging in Brazil. During the elections in 2014, conservatives against Workers Party gathered five or six thousand people at protests in some big cities. Now they returned to the streets, taking advantage of a moment when President Rousseff and the Workers Party were losing popularity after several controversial measures and corruption scandals. But this time, they brought together a surprisingly large wave of demonstrations in more than 160 cities around the country. More than 3 million people took part, a greater number than joined in at the height of the 2013 protests; we saw that they are not a joke anymore. Some of these right wing protestors, particularly the youth, learned from and emulated the tactics of the radical uprisings of 2013, relying on decentralized organizing, a certain kind of autonomy, and extensive use of social media to bring together huge numbers of people.

This conservative wave was not just a phenomenon on the streets. The Congress, dominated by the Christian lobby, worked hard to introduce reactionary new measures such as the reduction of the legal age for incarceration in adult prisons to 16 and revising the Statute of the Family to define “family” as a man, a woman and children, excluding all the other kinds of family from legal recognition. Other laws are making even harder to talk about gender in schools and further restricting the right to abortion – which is already forbidden in the most cases - and increasing punishment against those who help someone access abortion services or information. But even in this repressive religious climate. resistance continues, with black and feminist movements working to destroy the myths and dogmas behind these measures and organizing demonstrations and marches all over the country. In response, in October 31st, women took to the streets against these measures proposed by the president of the Congress and for the right to abortion, in a wave of protests that became known here as the Feminist Spring. The debate attracted a lot of attention in the media and on the internet.

Actions took place on social media, in both virtual and physical spaces of debate, along with new kinds of street actions. Opponents of these repressive new laws fought for bodily self-determination and autonomy without control of either the state or churches. Many women advocated for forms of education that combat social conditioning and the macho mentality, including an essay question about violence against women on the national university entrance exam that sparked debate across the country.

In April, public school teachers from the state of Paraná went on a 44 day strike against the right-wing governor’s austerity measures that would close classrooms in the countryside along with layoffs and pay cuts. Thousands of workers took part, holding meetings and general assemblies in stadiums. On April 29th, a huge demonstration tried to march to the gates of the Legislative Chamber; 6000 protestors were brutally attacked by almost 3000 cops, and more than 200 hundred people went to the hospital. The strike was very powerful and many teachers wanted to keep fighting, but in early June the unions behind the struggle voted to end the strike in exchange for paltry concessions. Likewise, teachers in the city of São Paulo held their biggest strike ever, lasting three months and including 24 demonstrations for better wages. But the interests of the unions in seeking limited concessions while preserving their role once again took precedence over the interests of their workers, and the strike ended before achieving its demands.

Speaking of demands, in Belo Horizonte in August, the MPL, the organization Tarifa Zero, and many protesters managed to stop the increase in the bus tickets in the court after some demonstrations, a ten day occupation of the city council, and considerable repression. It was a very intense and festive struggle with a quite different, more open process than the one in Sao Paulo at the beginning of the year. Nonetheless, a month later, the city government revoked the injunction and brought back the fair hike.

2015 was a very important year for indigenous resistance. The few constitutional rights the indigenous nations have are under attack by several proposed new laws, such as the effort to transfer the authority to demarcate indigenous territories from the executive branch to the Congress, which is dominated by agribusiness interests, and changes that make it easier for farmers and landowners to take over traditional indigenous lands. Many indigenous people have died in conflicts over land and territory in recent years, most often murdered by paramilitary forces paid by farmers and police. Indigenous protesters organized many demonstrations and blockades, and some lands were retaken by Guarani nations. After decades of struggle, the Guarani in the northern part of the city of São Paulo had a small part of their land legally recognized as their territory. The fight will and must be continued.

Occupations in big cities like Recife, São Paulo and Belo Horizonte saw some expansion in numbers of buildings occupied and families housed, especially among refugees and migrants from the Middle East and Haiti. The homeless movements are some of the biggest movements in Brazil. A powerful example of resistance to the new model of city which is spreading all over Brazil is the Ocupe Estelita in Recife. Since 2012 they have waged an autonomous and horizontal struggle against the destruction of a dock in an area known as Cais Jose Estelita. Developers planned to replace it with twelve skyscrapers, gentrifying this traditional public neighborhood so that the rich can enjoy the view from their penthouses while police and private security guards increase surveillance to keep out poor and non-white people. In October and November demonstrations against the Project New Recife stormed the city, and protestors took back and occupied the docks from which they had been violently evicted in June. This movement can show us part of the global tendency, from the ZADs in France to Taksim Square in Turkey, of occupations that take over space in order to defend the terrain from capitalist development. The occupation formed a point of convergence for many people of different groups, identities, movements, and backgrounds who shared tents and organized concerts, workshops and marches on and around the occupied lots. A federal court ruling canceled the auction of the area, and the people continue to resist.

In terms of repression, the bad news was that the Congress approved an anti-protest law that categorized vandalism and blockades as terrorist acts that can put people in jail for 24 years. The good news, if you can call it that, is that the only person still in prison from the protests in 2013 was finally liberated. Rafael Braga, a young black and sometimes homeless worker, was arrested after a demonstration while carrying a bottle of soap. The cops said that it was gasoline and, lacking proper legal defense, he was convicted and spent two years in prison. The episode got famous and many anarchists were involved in publicizing his case and supporting his fight for freedom. Now, despite his release, his freedom is only half achieved; he will spend the next 5 years going from work to his house with a electronic monitoring device on his ankle.

Predatory industrial capitalism in Brazil claimed a number of victims this year in one of the biggest environmental disasters of the country history. A dam broke near the city of Mariana, destroy and erasing a entire village of 600 people, killing at least 17 people. An enormous surge of mud laden with heavy metals and toxic chemicals flowed into the Doce river, rendering it impossible for the Krenak indigenous people to fish and eat from the river as they have traditionally. Protests against the company behind the dam in solidarity with the victims took place in many cities, including one in which 350 people marched to the gates of the company offices with coffins and crosses, throwing mud and destroying the entrance of the building.

On a positive note, at the end of October in Porto Alegre the first Feminist and Autonomous Book Fair took place, with three days of debate, workshops and books!

And to finish, we must talk about the brilliant resistance of students of São Paulo, who reacted to the reorganization of the educational system by occupying more than 200 schools. The neoliberal government of the state of São Paulo wanted to close 94 schools, and reorganize many of them into schools for only one age group. This would have forced some 300,000 students to travel far from their homes to go to school and be separated from their siblings, with classes overcrowded and many teachers fired. In response, on November 9th about 18 students occupied a school in Diadema, in the metropolitan area of São Paulo. Two days later, cops armed with machine guns tried to get into the school but couldn’t evict the students.

On November 10th, a school in downtown São Paulo was occupied by 150 students. It was quickly surrounded by cops; teachers and parents were prevented from going in, but stayed outside in support of the kids. The next week, dozens of others schools saw the same kind of occupation. In one of them, the homeless movement took over the building overnight to wait for the students to arrive in the morning, then they left so the students could keep the occupation.

Alanis: That is fucking cool!

Clara: Seriously. Many demonstrations took place in different places of the city, where students sat in their school chairs blocking streets and roads. Sometimes, many different demonstrations happened simultaneously, with many confrontations taking place with the police on the streets and at the gates of schools. Within a month there were already 230 occupations. The schools quickly became real communes, as students organized themselves into committees for cleaning and cooking and catalyzed more than one thousand volunteers to give free classes and workshops, on topics ranging from graffiti to gardening to health care to debates about gender. Concerts and festivals were organized in some buildings. Artists and famous singers participate to show support for the movement. Neither political parties nor the student unions connected with them were were allowed to participate; the occupations always remained autonomous and horizontal. The popularity of the governor reached a record low after the occupations, and the reorganization plan was revoked and the Secretary of Education resigned. After the victory, some schools decided to keep up the occupation. Now, as of December, 23 schools are already occupied in the state of Goiás, in protest against privatization and militarization of the schools. Inspired by the students in São Paulo, they show us that the next year will start with struggles initiated by a very smart new generation.


Alanis: Now we’ll head west across the sea to South Korea, where our correspondent has sent a report titled “Fuck Hell Joseon as well as Dream Korea.”

Clara: What does that mean?

Alanis: Well, listen up and you’ll see. It begins:

In what sense exactly is the situation getting worse? And what opportunities does this offer us for change?

These questions could help us think through the last year and the coming one. In general, it’s better to be able to think through things with more complexity, rather than just a general judgment about whether things are getting better or worse. However, when asking and feeling around for an evaluation of current events in Korea, the general answer and impression I got has been that of a deepening problem, but with a positive side of a growing awareness and new attempts at addressing it.

Before I go more into the depth about what is now increasing called “Hell Joseon” (in reference to the monarchy that crumbled and was displaced by imperialism at the beginning of the last century), let me try to formulate a development that seems positive in and of itself: the social economy, meaning the cooperative movement and that which is neither (at least not fully) State nor Market, seems to have grown considerably and increased in importance in the last years. For example, a bunch of diverse civil society and activist organizations based in the same neighborhood (Mapo, Seoul) served as the focus for the creation of a co-op that buys IT services (like antenna connecting and data transfer) in bulk for its members and then also provides other related services like installation and maintenance, with the eventual goal of becoming an integrated independent IT provider with its own hardware/infrastructure. With some local governments and a public discourse that recognize and support this kind of social development, it could be just part of the global growth of the compromised NGO-industrial complex, but the awareness of this problem of autonomy is also there.

Anyway, desperate for something positive, I will say that life and resistance go on. In a media environment in which issues come and go at an increasing pace, throughout the last year, some people in resistance have demonstrated endurance and remained committed to long-term struggle. A movement to shed light on a ferry disaster and confront the authorities, in coalition with others, entered strong in its second year with large demonstrations in the spring. As winter begins, there are still tents out there, with slogans like “We will not forget, we will remember.” Also, on the island of Jeju, the struggle against the construction of a naval military base has continued for another year, although the construction is now well under way. The resistance there is shifting to a longer term strategy to block the real-estate development around the base.

Now for Hell Joseon and Dream Korea. One of the year’s most popular books is a novel titled “Because I hate Korea” about young people trying to escape through emigration. At the same time, Korea has been the destination for numerous migrant workers, whose struggle for the recognition of the primacy of their working status over other legal status might have passed a milestone this year. Also, a type of character that commonly appeared in TV shows this year is the (usually Western and white) “foreigner” who can speak Korean and shows love and interest for the “national” culture. On the political scene, to describe the current trend, some use the concept of post-democratization, meaning the parabolic trajectory or co-optation of past popular or democratic struggles by a system increasingly “democratic” only formally (namely in electoral procedures) and in a ever narrower sense, as the “thicker” aspects of liberalism are evacuated in the name of security. Others use the term fascism to describe the current transformation in which the government gets more partisan and aggressive and less conciliatory, contributing to a polarization of society along lines of identity, while economic prospects are dim and obscured. Anarchists will maintain a healthy suspicion of liberalism, but might want to note the following trends of the last year or so.

  • Dissident public figures and journalists suffered repression and pressure to censor at a scale unseen since the “end” of the dictatorship some 30 years ago.

  • A major scandal including prosecution of an opposition figure on grounds of treason (for supposed plans to coordinate an overthrow of the regime in the advent of a North Korean invasion) served as an impetus to ban an entire political party. Some anarchist comrades anticipate a similar case involving the National Security Law for next year and want to prepare a response, as recently it has been shown again that this law by definition makes us “thought criminals.” But it remains a challenge to do that in concert with others with whom we disagree on fundamental political issues.

  • The ruling party is preparing to impose a new school history curriculum, and it is apparent that the goal is to re-legitimize its own legacy; for example, it claims that through its collaboration with Japanese colonial rule and subsequent anti-communist dictatorship, it promoted security and development and thus set the precondition for the advent of democracy, etc. This move strikes a very sensitive chord and has predictably infuriated a large portion of the population, setting them into direct conflict with conservatives - which might be the exact purpose of this move.

  • Reaction to this curriculum change by the teacher’s union, which also recently lost its legal status, sparked a major wave of protest in November. The police showed their readiness to respond violently, and the degree of forced used against the protests spiked. The government response, supported by the corporate media, has been to vilify the protesters as “violent” and to crack down on the leadership of the main organizations involved. For example, earlier this month, after a siege involving 20,000 cops on the temple where the leader of the Confederation of Trade Unions took refuge, the prosecution accused him of sedition, a charge unheard of for 29 years.

  • With the current wave of protests, a game is being played around permits for legal protest in which right wing elements now seem to play a part. For the third round of protest, scheduled well in advance, permission to hold gatherings at two major places in Seoul were denied on grounds that other groups, specifically the right-wing militia type, had applied first.

  • Korea is one of the countries with the most intensive use of the internet, and this, along with demographic and cultural factors, creates a sense of a “small world”, meaning an atmosphere in which people are constantly on guard for fear of being filmed and exposed on the web. There have been cases of people so severely and widely shamed in this way that they suffered major consequences. In combination with masculine dominance (patriarchy), a phenomena of pejorative stereotypes of women created as internet memes appeared in recent years. One comrade mentioned as a major event of the year the emergence of a now highly popular site called Megalian, on which such stereotypes are discussed from the point of view of women, alongside a repertory of cases of sexual abuse, porn-humiliation and other sexual images taken or distributed without consent. Contributors to the site have exposed some of the most misogynistic authors and groups and documented their link with right wing politics. Its aggressive tone and willingness to fight back using the same tactic of the humiliating stereotype as meme, but now applied to men rather than women, has caused much controversy and intense internal debate, as well as its problematic targeting of some gay men’s sexuality for ridicule or defamation.

  • In this climate of heightened social tension, acts of defiance and rebellion have multiplied. Although most don’t go so far as a rejection of all authority, many seem to cross the line beyond a simple rejection of the current government. For example, at protests in the spring, someone committed the crime of burning the national flag. This fall, many publicly destroyed their citizenship ID cards and declared themselves not to no longer be citizens “under this government”. After protests in November, the president compared the protests to the terrorists attacks of the Islamic State and the parliament begin to prepare legislation forbidding the use of masks. At the next protest, there were thousands more people masked, often in a playful way, some of them even writing IS on their masks. After someone was charged with sedition, the title of the next protest event used a play on the word “seditious.” In the coming year, that’s the kind of situation anarchists could use to challenge the status quo and orient towards more radical and diverse direct action.

Recently, many Koreans have likely entertained a thought along the lines of “If this is what we get for government, then better no government at all (and anarchy)”. Though I often like to insist that anarchy is better than ANY government, rather than focus on theoretical talks, I am looking forward creating more trusting relationships first through joint participation in actions in the new year.


Clara: Now we’ll shift our focus to central Europe, where our correspondents in the Czech Republic offered us a lively report from the last year and an assessment of what’s ahead in 2016.

Alanis: Since the Ex-Worker’s 2014 year in review (Episode 33) when the story of the Klinika autonomous social center made its debut on international circuits, nobody could have expected what was to come in 2015. The communique read in that episode highlighted the start of what would be a long and widely visible rift between anarchists and activists around what was considered a worthy action for a worthy cause: the burning of a police car in solidarity with Klinika’s fight to continue to occupy the squatted building. Of course there was a negative response to this action from populist, media-loving folks from the scene, stemming from their desire to show the friendly face of Klinika. The more militant folks were also displeased with the tactics Klinika were using in their fight, such as single issue demand-based politics, and the fact that they entered into negotiations with the state. Nevertheless, the burning of police cars in 2014 ignited ideas within some more insurrectionary types around Czech Republic.

After all was said and done, Klinika has been a great success story as a social center. Repressive anti-squatting laws here make it near impossible to maintain autonomous spaces, thus it was massively needed. Klinika hosted collectives, events, “free-school” style education (for example, an “anarchist kindergarten collective” use the space weekly); the anarchist book fair was held there; language courses and discussions happen daily. It also became instrumental in non-hierarchical organizing of refugee solidarity groups, and for the anti-nationalist struggle. For some time Klinika was the central place for materials collected for refugees moving through Balkan countries, such as sleeping bags, clothing, and food, which got overwhelming support from many locals with charitable hearts.

But let’s not focus solely on our social anarchists; the insurrectionary militants have been playing hard, too. 2015 saw a rise in sabotages, militant tactics, and an unsettling air of discontent. The authorities felt it, too. There is a long list of sabotages against state property, mostly police vehicles and toll road equipment. Then there was corporate property and the restaurant Riskana, which was repeatedly attacked in solidarity with the numerous employees whom they failed to pay over the last years. Animal liberation groups have been at it too, rescuing a few thousand mink, damaging property of fur farms, and conducting open rescues at egg farms. We think this gives a reference point for the rise of anarchism within society and the increased militancy of groups and individuals. And with that comes the excessively long arm of the law and their ingenious fucking repression. A few days before May Day came the largest police crackdown in the history of Czech anarchism, under the name of “Operation Fenix.” With it came tactics previously not known to have been used here, such as entrapment and agents provocateur. This wave of repression still continues into 2016, with new charges brought forward and trials still pending. At least eight people are awaiting trial, some under domestic terrorism charges, another first for the Czech Republic - despite the numerous organized groups of Nazis who have killed and killed and killed.

To hear an anarchist response to Operation Fenix, listen to an interview with Czech Anarchist Black Cross in Episode 41, and a panel discussion involving Czech anarchist in Episode 44.

Besides Operation Fenix, the other big topic we touched on briefly is the so-called immigration crisis. This has lead to an extremely uncomfortable rise in xenophobia, nationalism, and fascism throughout society from almost anyone white with a dangerously high opinion of their nation and skin color. We’ve seen it as someone’s parent casually calls for genocide on social media; pop culture stars openly perform at anti-Islamic events; from the Czech president, who has made an endless list of idiotic statements, such as, “This country is not and cannot be for everyone, this country is ours”; “Yasser Arafat was worse than Hitler”; and so forth. He has spoken in favor of “Fortress Europe,” congratulating Hungary on their excessive fence building. he came to support and speak at anti-Islamic and anti-immigrant demonstrations, notably on November 17 - a national day remembering the end of the Velvet Revolution.

The atmosphere and events surrounding this issue forced anarchists to shift their tactics away from traditional militant anti-fascism and to figure out new ways to fight these waves of nationalism and widespread xenophobia.

2016: what is to come? We already know we will be busy this year, building and strengthening the anti-repression movement. There will be efforts to raise awareness on topics of security culture (DON’T TALK TO COPS), dealing with cops (DON’T TALK TO COPS), and not snitching (DON’T TALK TO COPS). There will be continued solidarity with our incarcerated comrades and those locked away for being born the wrong side of Fortress Europe. We hope that people will focus less on combating the most visible Nazis and rather figure out ways to combat the disease of nationalism affecting society here. We hope for better communication and understanding between groups fighting for the same thing, since Operation Fenix’s greatest victory was to split the Czech anarchist movement. We want solidarity back; it’s the only way to fight the prevailing order.

We should focus on maintaining the spaces we have and the strong ties which are broader than borders, especially with the international problem of nationalism. And, since the largest squat in Prague was brutally evicted last year (Cibulka) its a good time for the Occupy and Live movement to take a new place - especially as Klinika’s legal agreement ends in March, and they prepare and mobilize to counter that or run with the idea to a new spot. We’ll see. Squatters have brought cases against the cops for illegal eviction, and how it goes it could change the face of squatting in Czech Republic.

And finally, we hope for 2016, world-wide, more police cars in flames and less people in prison. Or, to be precise, all police cars in flames and no people in prison!

Signed, some anarchists living in but not necessarily from the so-called Czech Republic.


Clara: Our correspondents in Colombia wrote in to discuss a few of the most significant events from the past year in that country.

Two new radical spaces opened in 2015: the Social Center Tierra Negra in Bogota and Casa El Hormiguero in Medellin. We saw demonstrations and actions commemorating the anniversary of the suicide of Sergio Urrego, a young queer anarchist, and activities for the five year anniversary of graffiti artist Tripido’s assassination by the police. A week of remembrance took place ten years after the murder of Nicolas Neira, a 15 year-old anarchist killed by anti-riot squad at a Mayday demonstration. Thirteen people, including one anarchist, were arrested in Bogota and accused of taking part in explosive attacks. The charges were later changed to “disturbances,” in a case marked by many inconsistencies. They were freed in September, but their legal process continues.

Looking regionally at activity in Latin America, anarchist book fairs took place in Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, Uruguay, Chile and Colombia. Also in the same territories, sabotage and propaganda took place against government and banking institutions, companies that exercise animal exploitation and/or industrial multinationals. Workshops on anti-authoritarian sexuality and the body took place in different places across South America. In November, police aggression met with resistance at the first autonomous feminist book fair in Porto Alegre, Brazil. Animal liberation activists continued to struggle for the closure of Villa Dolores Zoo in Uruguay. Demonstrations and acts of solidarity took place after the femicide of Andrea Aramayo, daughter of Helen Alvarez from the Bolivian anarcha-feminist group Mujeres Creando. Rather than mourning, the streets sparkled with color to recall Andrea’s joyful spirit, reflecting the Mujeres Creando slogan “our revenge is to be happy.”

In terms of international prisoner solidarity: in February, the 5E3, Amelie, Carlos, and Fallon, were released from prison in Mexico, while in September, “Security Case” prisoner Carlos Gutiérrez was freed in Chile. Hunger strikes by anarchist prisoners took place in Chile and Mexico, and by self-proclaimed political prisoners and social war prisoners in Colombia. In Turkey, anarchist and vegan prisoner Osman Evcan won his demand to get vegan food after a hunger strike that started on November 30, and finished on December 20. And supporters across the world have conducted a letter writing campaign to Esra Arikan, anarchist and trans prisoner in Turkey, imprisoned in a male jail. During the initiative of solidarity with anarchist prisoners with long sentences (June 11), the second international week of solidarity with anarchist prisoners (August 23 to 30) and Black December: sabotage and propaganda in solidarity with imprisoned comrades took place across the world including actions in Argentina, Bolivia, Uruguay, Chile, Peru, Mexico and Colombia. And anarchists organized ever more creative solidarity actions to support prisoners, including cabaret evenings, silkscreen balloons with messages of support, masks, poetry, puppet shows, bingo games, and even tattoo conventions in Chile and Uruguay.


Clara: We also received this inspiring letter from a group of internationalists fighting in Rojava. CrimethInc. published an interview with them on its blog back in October titled “From Germany to Bakur,” which we’ve got linked from our website if you’d like to read more.

Alanis: Dear friends,

A friend told us you’re collecting impressions and reviews of the year 2015 out of a emancipatory, revolutionary perspective, which seems quite a good idea to us. It’s always good to strengthen our collective consciousness and awareness; to understand the unity of all the revolutionary processes, the great story we’re in - the global struggle for a new world, in which all worlds fit.

We’re writing you from Cizire Canton, Rojava, Syria, as a group of a few friends who came here from central Europe. We wanted to learn from the Kurdish struggle and connect our different backgrounds to its great treasure of experiences, its philosophy and its methods of organizing.

This year there have been some great progresses for the democratic project of Rojava. As you may know, here three things are happening in the same time - a social and mental revolution, an experiment of radical democracy, and military defense and diplomatic entanglement with external powers. The revolution is based on establishing a communalist system, similar to the ideas described by Murray Bookchin, and started to organize openly since Assad drew back his troops needing them in the west against the Free Syrian Army. For Rojava, the Civil War turned into a fierce war not only against the regime, but above all against another enemy, who has lost all ethical substance and wants to establish a fascist regime of political Islam - the so-called Islamic State.

Since last year the city of Kobane was under military siege and the military situation in general was really difficult. In 2015 the YPG/YPJ militias managed to free not only Kobane itself and all the villages in the Canton, but also to establish a corridor between Cizire and Kobane. Also Shengal was freed from IS, so that we now look at a state-free territory under people’s self administration from the Euphrates River in northern Syria in the West until the Shengal mountains in northern Iraq in the East - a historical step in renewing the Middle East.

So, this year started with really good news. After the military victory over IS the rebuilding of Kobane town began, and now life is flourishing again in the Kobane Canton as well, with many refugees coming back to their villages and to the city. After the Shengal mountains were liberated in beginning of spring, the democratic autonomy was proclaimed and self-defense forces established.

As you know, there is a strange international spotlight on the Middle East, dealing with the new order of this region, with all global players involved you can imagine - the US and the other NATO-states, Russia, the political Shia Islam of Iran, and the old regime of Damascus. And, not least, the forces of political Sunni Islam, including Turkey, which is isolating itself while supporting militant jihadist groups, and the more pragmatic Arabic states on the Persian Gulf, who are supporting whoever represents their goals at the time. Their game entangles Rojava and the improvised self-government in this game of hegemony. Altogether, even in this strange situation of chaos this year brought up some good things - a lot of external forces now accept the Kurdish movement and Rojava as dialogue partners. Arab opposition forces fought alongside with YPG / YPJ against jihadist gangs, and accepted the achievements of the revolution. While before, the Kurdish society was really isolated within Syria, now there is a process of common understanding and exchange going on. We even heard rumors from small Drusian cities in the south of Syria, which got in contact with the Rojava councils in order to learn methods for communalist self-organizing. So the system of democratic autonomy continues to spread, and together with the effective method of self defense that the YPG / YPJ have established, this year brought a good bit of hope to the Middle East and its people, who now have an example of a living alternative to nation-states and neoliberal invasion.\

The biggest problem of this year turned out to be the huge wave of refugees leaving Rojava. Even though there is a revolution going on, the situation is quite hard for living. Rojava, even though it became larger and much more secure within its territory, is still isolated by an embargo from all sides: in the north by the Turkish border becoming highly militarized, in the east by the Kurdish Regional Government of Kurdish Democratic Party of Barzani, an ally of Turkey and western capitalist states, and in the south and west by the Islamic State. In terms of infrastructure like water and electricity the situation got better, and there is no lack of food or basic needs. But the problem is, that, if you weren’t much involved in the process of rebuilding society anew from the ground up until now, it may be that the hope for an easier and more prosperous life in Europe is stronger than your faith in the achievements of the revolution and the friends working for social progress. The last month the wave of emigration decreased again, as for many people it becomes clear that Europe won’t be the answer for the problems of the Middle East. The image of Europe as a secure place of welfare and pluralism is a big threat for an experiment like Rojava, for it drives away consciousness of the need for mutual support and common work in the place you are. The hope of finding rescue in another place or from an external power is a dangerous force in Rojava.

For us as internationalists and activists, we made substantial progress in our personal and collective experience this year. Essentially we came here to learn about what it means when a society wakes up after long oppression under a regime which tried to hold it unconscious and helpless. Also, this year we got an impression what it really means to be granted political asylum, not by a nation state, but by a society which takes it as a given to be responsible for helping everyone who asks for help. Understanding is a long process, and as the story of this revolution is still unwritten, we are willing to stay here in the coming year to fight and work alongside with the friends who started all this and gave us and so many others a new hope for a free Kurdistan and global revolution. Indeed, the friends here never distinguish between those prospects.

The coming year probably won’t tranquilize the Middle East and Rojava. For sure, IS will get hit really hard, and sooner or later they will lose their territory. Then it comes to talks for a new Syria, and as it turns out already, Rojava will play its role and be able to serve as an impressive example of democracy on a decentralized basis, where people really get involved. Also there will be more and more people coming to Rojava willing to learn and fight together. As far as how things are done here, we can be curious about the opportunities for revolutionary forces in all the world once it becomes clear what this revolution could mean. Until now, it has already abolished borders, and given a new perspective for the whole Middle East and beyond.

We hope that we were able to contribute another piece to widen our horizon about these interesting times we stumbled in. We look forward to meeting at upcoming events and occasions, to exchange the secret word of conspiracy against their world, and to fighting together with you to create something better.

With revolutionary regards, an internationalist committee, Rojava, Syria.

Clara: Wow! Many thanks to our comrades who took the time to write to us from Rojava. We had a lot of thoughts and feelings in response to this letter. Of course it’s very hard to assess things critically at such a distance; still, we’re reluctant to take everything we hear at face value. On the one hand, it’s clear that the social reorganization unfolding in Rojava is a distinct alternative to fundamentalist and neoliberal states, and an inspiration for revolutionaries around the world. On the other hand, I’m afraid that valorizing the language of democracy serves only to strengthen our enemies and could leave Rojava vulnerable to co-optation by the visions of more powerful allies about what “democracy” is supposed to mean. I also note that this account leaves out the direct collaboration between the US military and the YPG/YPJ militias in fighting the Islamic State. The question of why Syrians continue to flee Rojava in substantial numbers, even when presumably food and basic necessities are available and there are no immediate military threats to daily life, seems critical and very difficult. The allure of the West is definitely real, though I would imagine that folks are motivated to leave by a complex range of factors, not simply insufficient faith in the revolution. We’re eager to stay in dialogue with folks in Rojava and other anarchists and internationalists supporting the transformations there as 2016 unfolds.

Alanis: Incidentally, the letter refers to the communalist ideas of American anarchist Murray Bookchin as an inspiration for the social organization in Rojava, which we’ve mentioned in previous episodes. We’ve been working for some time on an episode on Bookchin’s thought, though we still have a ways to go. Keep posted for that some time in the new year.


Clara: And now it’s time for the Chopping Block. As we mentioned in our last episode, this time we’re taking a look at the journal published by the Institute for Anarchist Studies, called Perspectives on Anarchist Theory, specifically its most recent release, Issue 28, on “Justice”.

Alanis: First, let’s clear this up: what is the Institute for Anarchist Studies? To quote from their website,, the IAS is “a nonprofit foundation established in 1996 to support the development of anarchism” and “a grant-giving organization for radical writers and translators worldwide.” They also collaborate with AK Press and JustSeeds, a radical artists’ cooperative, in publishing a book series called Anarchist Interventions; Harsha Walia’s book Undoing Border Imperialism, which we’ll be reviewing in a future episode on borders and migration, is one of the titles in this series. The IAS also organizes a conference called Renewing the Anarchist Tradition, offers a “Mutual Aid Speakers List” to help connect anarchist thinkers with receptive audiences, and, last but certainly not least, produces a journal called Perspectives on Anarchist Theory. It comes out in two formats, a print version designed by Josh MacPhee from JustSeeds as well as an online edition, and includes essays by writers that the IAS supports, feature articles with anarchist perspectives on contemporary issues, book reviews, and IAS updates. Each issue begins with a broad conceptual theme - recent issues have focused on “Strategy,” “Care,” “Movements,” and so forth - which loosely unifies the contributions they include.

Their most recent issue tackled the theme of “Justice” - quite a can of worms for the contemporary anarchist! The journal opens with a reflection on the theme written by the editorial collective, and quickly sets a thoughtful and inquisitive tone as it explores different dimensions of what justice might mean to anarchists in political, economic, ecological, and intra-movement or community contexts. It uses a series of rhetorical questions to prompt readers to examine our thoughts and values relating to justice without authority and the practical challenges posed by social oppression and reliance on state structures. While I sharply disagreed with their partial defense of certain principles of the US’s adversarial legal system, overall I found the introduction to be highly thought-provoking, and an excellent lens through which to read the forthcoming pieces.

The opening article from Sarah Coffey offers a synthesis of interviews she conducted while working as a legal observer with a wide range of local participants in the Ferguson uprising. It foregrounds the voices of the folks on the ground while exploring the range of divergent perspectives and experiences of those who came to the streets after Michael Brown’s murder at the hands of police. From Layne Mullett, an activist with Decarcerate PA, comes an article titled Brick by Brick: Creating a World Without Prison, which I found to be one of the most comprehensive summaries of the anti-authoritarian critique of the contemporary prison industrial complex I’ve encountered. I’d love to see it circulate as a separate zine, especially for books to prisoner groups and general anarchist outreach. Brooke Reynolds from the Jericho Movement contributes a profoundly compelling analysis of the hunger strike as a political tactic, as deployed by “war on terror” prisoners in Guantanamo and Palestinian prisoners in Israel. Its thoughtful analysis, punctuated with defiant statements and moving poetry from prisoners, proved one of the highlights of the journal for me. In particular, its unflinching deconstruction of a US Army manual on procedures for dealing with hunger strikers was both so viscerally horrifying as to be almost unreadable, and yet also a moving testament to the unbreakable will of resistant prisoners in the global police state. Another highlight was Brad Thompson’s article Breaking the Chains of Command: Anarchist Veterans of the US Military, which drew on his interviews with former soldiers and army personnel who had become radicalized and emerged from the military as advocates for resistance, highlighting their voices while drawing some careful but insightful conclusions. I’d especially recommend it to folks living in towns with military bases who want ideas on how to connect with potentially radical service members. The issue also includes pieces that address community accountability efforts and domestic violence; a critique of Deep Green Resistance, the discredited ecological organization led by Derrick Jensen and Lierre Keith; and two well-written book reviews.

All in all, the journal is a credit to the editorial collective and to the IAS’s mission of advancing thoughtful anarchist discourse. MacPhee’s design is elegant and creative, making it a pleasure to look at as well as to read. At 134 pages, bound neatly by Eberhardt Press in Portland, Oregon, it’s a solid but not intimidating read. While I had critiques of and disagreements with some of the pieces, all of them reflect a high level of quality in the writing and editing, and together offer food for thought on a range of issues. It’s worth mentioning that the theme of “Justice” is interpreted quite loosely; all of the pieces do relate in some way, but with a theme so broad, it’s hard to imagine any anarchist discussion that wouldn’t at least tangentially connect to “justice”. The thought-provoking questions set out in the introduction about the nature of justice within a framework of anarchist values and institutions remain largely unanswered, which I was sad about at first - mostly just because I found them to be so fascinating, as well as timely and pressing! Still, that’s not a critique of the pieces that do appear, which offer valuable insights into various topics. Hopefully future anarchist writers and theorists will take up these questions and travel further in the directions indicated in the introduction.

It’s also worth noting that what the journal means by “theory” is understood in a broader sense of critical evaluation and praxis, not merely abstract reflections on principles and philosophies and frameworks. With the exception of the introduction and the article analyzing hunger strikes, there’s not a lot in this issue that I’d classify as “theory” in that more limited sense. The pieces focus more on either summarizing or critiquing contemporary struggles, or presenting the voices of participants in them; and of course, there are theoretical dimensions to these accounts, as the authors grapple with different ideas and frameworks. Let’s put it this way: on the one hand, if the word “theory” makes you roll your eyes and imagine annoying, head-in-the-clouds radical eggheads or abstracted academics, then don’t worry, you won’t be put off by the pieces in this journal. On the other hand, folks who’ve cut their teeth on Foucault or Agamben or Tiqqun shouldn’t expect to find that style of theorizing here. Again, this isn’t a critique of the pieces themselves, but just a clarification that this journal is setting out to do something different. It manages to present a wide array of nuanced and critical articles while remaining accessible, which is quite refreshing in an era in which radical discourse too often either soars to heights of wanky abstraction or dives to depths of trollish inanity.

All in all, Perspectives on Anarchist Theory is well worth a read for anyone interested in insightful reflections on contemporary struggles from an anti-authoritarian viewpoint. The forthcoming issue 29, which should appear this spring, will be on the theme of “Anarcha-feminisms,” so I’m definitely excited to see that. For more info on Perspectives on Anarchist Theory, check out their website at You can order the print version online via


Clara: OK! Let’s bring it on home with Next Week’s News. Anything on the calendar, Alanis?

Alanis: As we mentioned earlier, The Earth First! Winter Organizer’s Conference will take place February 10th–15th on Chumash territory outside Santa Barbara, California. Organizers had this to say about the plans for the gathering: As most who attended this summer’s Rendezvous in Vermont know, EF! continues to struggle, stutter, and stumble when it comes to dealing with race and racism within our movement. We have indeed come a long way from the racist rhetoric that occasionally disgraced the pages of the EF! journal through the ’80s and ’90s but it is clear we still have much to learn. In light of this, and in the context of living in a country that has seen weeks on end of revolt against the white power structure’s continued terrorizing of communities of color, we are eager to dig in and explore issues of race, racism, and colonialism in the context of radical environmental organizing. We are also dedicating time during the week to: evaluate or tactics and how we train, strengthen our prisoner support efforts and build bridges with others fighting mass incarceration, talk about creating more internal structure, strengthening regional and national efforts/campaigns, and much more!

Clara: Don’t forget if you’re in the Chicago area to come to the next court appearance of Jay Chase from the NATO 3.

Alanis: It’s been rescheduled for Thursday, February 18th, and supporters are trying to turn out as many people as possible to let him know that he’s not alone. Check out the links on our website for more info.

Alanis: Incidentally, I read the indictment for these additional charges of aggravated assault that he’s facing, and it actually claims that he “knowingly and without justification made physical contact of an insulting or provoking nature with [a] Cook County corrections officer, and in committing the battery, he knowingly caused a correctional institution employee to come into contact with urine or feces, by throwing, tossing or expelling the fluid or material.”

Clara: Which would be pretty hilarious, if it wasn’t actually really serious; he’s potentially facing years of additional time, which is no joke. We’ve got a link on our website to a recent article discussing how the combination of his long term health problems and the shitty and neglectful environment in which he’s forced to languish in prison could potentially result in his death in prison. So let’s do all we can to support him.

Alanis: Without speculating on Jay’s innocence or guilt, nor validating the whole innocence/guilt framework in any way, I will say that in the opinion of the Ex-Worker podcast there is always justification for making physical contact of an insulting or provoking nature with a correctional institution employee, especially if it involves causing him or her to come into contact with urine or feces. Just saying.

Clara: In other news, the Cardiff Anarchist Book Fair will take place in southern Wales, UK on February 20th.

Alanis: Herman Bell, a former Black Panther who has been in prison since 1974, will face the parole board in early February. Here’s an audio clip from his support website,, in which he describes the context of his case and what we can do to support him.

Herman Bell: Hi, this is a message from Herman Bell. I’ve been told that it’s good that you should hear my voice, hear something direct from me. So where to begin, what to say? As I want you to connect with me, want you to feel my hand in yours, want you to see and experience my journey. I’ve been locked in a prison cell for 42 years; have spent more time in prison than I have on the streets. I need your support to get me out so I can go home. I’m as ordinary as your neighbor next door. No different than you are. I have a wife, children, and two lovely school-age granddaughters. I value hard work, fair treatment, social justice, transparency and accountability. You can say I’m a “people’s” person. I believe strongly that people should help people, that “to each according to his or her needs and from each according to his or her ability.” You see, I am not a criminal in the strict sense of the word. I never posed a danger to civil society. I never sought personal gain from my political actions; never robbed, never threatened, coerced, nor intimidated anyone in civil society. I never sold drugs. But I did, as did others, militantly resist the unrelenting structural violence of white racist domination and control that has afflicted the Black community since Black people were brought here as slaves.

Accordingly, in early February 2016, I will appear once again before the New York State Parole Board, it’ll be my 7th [time]. I’m eligible for parole release every 2 years. I’ve done the time on a 25-to-life sentence. I have satisfied all structural requirements over these long years and have had no serious disciplinary issues. Yet each time I appear before the Board, I’m denied parole “due to the nature of my offense;” and that is the assassination of two NYC policemen. The nature of my sentence of conviction arose from the immense social turmoil of the ‘60s and ‘70s and the FBI’s’ infamous counter-insurgent program known as COINTELPRO that sought through diverse and insidious means to destroy the Black Panther Party, founded in Oakland, CA in 1965, that I was a member of. This government program sought to deny Black political and economic self-empowerment. Destruction of the B.P.P., in the words of then-FBI director Hoover “by any means necessary,” was paramount to this design. Nationally, COINTELPRO enlisted the aid of local and state police agencies in this campaign. It was a push to maintain the levers of racist political power in this country that has dominated and controlled the lives of Black people through terror, bloodshed, lashing and lynching since its founding. (The rage and sorrow of Black people had sat in the darkness far too long.) And we pushed back in defense of our community: against that tradition of domination and control that has persistently fed off Black people in this country longer than they have been freed. It was an unapologetic direct attack on and resistance to the racist power structure in this country that has so historically maltreated and exploited Black people as though it were a national birthright. It gratified some and astonished others. And as unfortunate and regrettable as it often is in civil conflict,violence and bloodshed on both sides are bound to occur.

You may find my sentence of conviction inexcusable. You may likewise find the government’s actions during those times inexcusable, too. We Panthers were imprisoned. FBI, state and local police agents, and their provocateurs went unindicted for their unprovoked attacks on the Black community. This history, these events, are what I’m up against whenever I go before the Parole Board. The NY police union (PBA) have a close connection with the NY tabloids and each time before I go to the Board, newspaper articles opposing my release is a front page story, and online the PBA circulates a petition opposing my release, creating the impression of groundswell opposition to my release, when it’s just the PBA. You can write the New York State Parole Board and tell them how you feel. By writing the Parole Board supporting my release (because I’ve done the time, have satisfied all legal requirements, and deserve to be released) does in no way mean that you advocate, support, or intend to mimic what I did yourself. It simply mean you think I’ve done enough time and should be allowed to go home.

I thank you for allowing me this opportunity to say these few words to you, and I wish you well as I hope you do the same for me. And let us work hard on my behalf to get me out of here. Thank you very much; this is Herman.

Alanis: Check out for all the details on how to support him.

Clara: And speaking of prisoners, several folks inside have birthdays coming up over the next month. On the 4th of February, Veronza Bowers, Jr, a former Black Panther framed for murder by the FBI - check back to Episode 17 for a clip from an interview with him about his life and case;

Alanis: On the 16th, Kamau Sadiki, former Black Panther and Black Liberation Army soldier;

Clara: And also on the 16th, Shaka Cinque, also known as Albert Woodfox, the last incarcerated member of the Angola 3, a Black liberation fighter framed for murder during a prison riot. His conviction has been overturned three times, and a judge actually ordered his release last June, yet somehow he is STILL in prison after 43 years.

Alanis: You can find their mailing addresses and links to more info on their cases on our website.

Clara: And that is that for this episode of the Ex-Worker! Many, many thanks to all of our brilliant comrades around the world who sent us their reflections on 2015 and other thoughts and feedback. We’re excited that this podcast can function as a space of exchange and dialogue among anarchists from many continents, and to have the chance to engage with all of you listeners! Please don’t hesitate to get in touch by email at podcast at crimethinc dot com. Thanks for listening, keep loving, and keep fighting.

Online resources

Links and references from this episode of The Ex-Worker:

  • On the Chopping Block, we reviewed the latest issue (Number 28, on “Justice”) of Perspectives on Anarchist Theory, the journal published by the Institute for Anarchist Studies. You can order it through AK Press; you can also find them on Facebook, though you know how we feel about that.

  • Our friends at the North American anarchist news website It’s Going Down have announced plans to produce a print magazine! Check out their Kickstarter page if you want to show them some support.

  • Former Black Panther and long term political prisoner Herman Bell is up for parole in February. Please check out this info from his support site about how to help with his parole hearing, including an online petition.

  • Here’s Glenn Greenwald’s editorial critiquing the notion that internet encryption is responsible for the Paris terror attacks by the Islamic State.

  • The report we shared on Rojava came to us from a group of anarchists and internationalists from Central Europe working for liberation in Kurdistan. If you’re interested in reading more, CrimethInc. previously published a longer interview piece from this group titled “From Germany to Bakur: European Anarchists on the Kurdish Struggle”.

  • To learn more about the Guarani resistance in the state of São Paulo, mentioned in the report on 2015 resistance in Brazil, visit

  • Our friends who reported on the so-called “victory” over the Keystone XL pipeline sent links to some of the ongoing ecological resistance happening along the Gulf Coast, including folks fighting a massive 42" LNG export pipeline whose route from West Texas to Mexico cuts through Big Bend National Park - visit Defend Big Bend and the Big Bend Conservation Alliance; and the environmental justice group in Mobile, AL called MEJAC that is fighting an oil storage tank farm that would directly impact the historic community of Africa Town.

  • In terms of ecological resistance coming up this year, there’s the Prison Ecology Project’s gathering coming up June 11–13 in the Washington D.C. area, focused on building around the intersection of incarceration and the environment. There’s also a struggle brewing against a new federal prison slated to be built on a former mountaintop removal site in Eastern Kentucky. And the Earth First! Winter Organizer’s Conference is taking place February 10th–15th on Chumash territory outside Santa Barbara, California.

  • Please take a moment to support Jared “Jay” Chase of the NATO 3! You can attend his court date on February 18th in Chicago, follow his case on Twitter, Facebook, or the NATO 3 support page. You can also write to Jay at:

    Jared Chase M44710
    P.O. Box 99
    Pontiac, IL 61764

    Here’s an announcement from supporters about the court date:
    Pack the court for Jay Chase
    Thursday, February 18, 9 AM
    Cook County Criminal Courthouse
    2600 S California Ave, Chicago, Illinois 60623

    The presiding Judge had a sick day on 2.3 so Jared “Jay” Chase now has a pre-trial hearing on February 18th at 26th and California in Room 303. He is being targeted by the same prosecutor (Anita Alvarez) he faced during the NATO 3 trial for alleged assault charges pinned on him by guards while he awaited trial for two years back in 2012–2014. These same guards were allowed to testify against him during the NATO 3 sentencing in a somewhat successful attempt to bring a harsher sentence and now they will likely testify against him in this case… This trial is not just about a few extra years being tacked on to his current sentence which is coming to an end in May. The State has made it very clear through this obviously vindictive prosecution that they want to ensure Jay lives out his days in their cage.

    Please be there and show the State that we stand with Jay and let Jay know that we have not forgotten him or his struggle. He needs our love and support as he stands in defiance of this ongoing persecution.

  • Upcoming prisoner birthdays:

    Veronza Bowers, Jr. 35316–136
    USP Atlanta
    Post Office Box 150160
    Atlanta, Georgia 30315
    {February 4th}

    Kamau Sadiki (Freddie Hilton) #0001150688
    Augusta State Medical Prison, Building 13A–2 E7
    3001 Gordon Highway
    Grovetown, Georgia 30813
    Address envelope to Freddie Hilton, address card to Kamau
    {February 19th}

    Shaka Cinque (Albert Woodfox) #72148
    West Feliciana Parish Detention Center
    Post Office Box 2727
    St. Francisville, Louisiana 70775
    Address envelope to Albert Woodfox, address card to Shaka
    {February 19th}