An article from Do or Die Issue 9. In the paper edition, this article appears on page(s) 213-226.
Our letters pages are open access and we will print most things we receive - although remember that they do not necessarily reflect the views of the Do or Die editorial collective. Due to space constraints we would prefer it if letters could be kept to 500 words or less.
Dear Do or Die,
You people are sick and need help badly.
Dear Do or Die,
Many thanks for the copy of Do or Die Number 8. I've been reading it all day and in my opinion it's excellent. A few of the articles were a little wordy, but overall informative with a good global perspective on things and inspirational reports on J18, genetic trashings and camps/tunnels.
In some ways everything we hoped for back in the 1980s is coming true. The Hillgrove closure, the genetics thing and J18 are part of this - that people have no faith in politicians, bureaucrats or this shit sick system. The protest movements are getting stronger and Do or Die is part of that, so credit where it is due. Here's to many more issues. Be encouraged!
With best wishes,
Dear Do or Die Editorial Collective,
Congratulations on producing such a comprehensive, intelligent and all-round journal in Do or Die Number 8! In particular, your articles on feminism and womens' liberation were interesting, informative and indicative of how the counter culture/DIY movement is growing in its understanding of all movements against oppression. However, if you're analysing womens' liberation, then its political and historical sibling, gay liberation, should also be considered. The two movements arose virtually simultaneously during the counter cultural high tide of the late 1960s, against a background of hostility and antipathy which is hard to conceive of even today. Little more than thirty years ago, lesbian and gay people were, according to orthodox medicine, mentally ill (and could under certain circumstances be compelled to undergo grisly electro-convulsive 'aversion therapy'), were subject to surveillance, police harassment, fascist attacks, prosecutions, employment dismissal and media d emonisation. All these remain all too common features of the present as well.
My aim here is not to give a potted history of 30 years of gay politics - in under 500 words it's an impossible task! Suffice it to say that direct action and solidarity with other struggles have been central features of the movement: The Gay Liberation Front in the early 1970s immediately threw in its lot with anti-militarism, anti-fascism and anti-capitalist politics. GLF groups organised support for the Black Panther Party, the Angry Brigade, set up squats and counter-institutions for gays kicked out of home. And, along with feminists, disrupted the set-piece 'moral rearmament' events of the day, and even advised young straight draftees on how to drag-up convincingly so as to be labelled deviant and avoid Vietnam!
During the 1980s Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners raised upwards of £40,000 for striking communities, demonstrating the power of solidarity in challenging prejudices, and the early 1990s new wave of radicalism brought direct action groups OutRage! and the Lesbian Avengers into the coalitions against the Persian Gulf War, Criminal Justice Act and Asylum Bill.
As with feminism and anti-racism, however, co-option has stolen the radicalism of parts of the gay liberation movement, harnessing anger and hope to a commodified identity and reformist politics. The membership of radical gay groups is down, the Lesbian Avengers have folded and OutRage! has sadly become a mostly civil liberties lobbying cell. Even the annual Pride March through London is under threat, with proposals for a corporate take-over and transformation of the event into little more than a commercial street parade.
There are a plethora of views on how to go forward: all-gay direct action groups? Being out within other, 'straight' networks? Personally, I favour a mixture of both where necessary: homo-hatred should be opposed by direct actions, but that shouldn't stop activists from contributing to other struggles, as neither should it stop straights from giving solidarity to ours. We have all learnt much from each other in the past and can continue to do so.
Dear Do or Die,
In my opinion, the letter from JR against listing Albert Dryden as a political prisoner (Do or Die Number 8, p.340) is wrong.
Your correspondent claims Collinson was involved in campaigns, and was gentle etc. etc. Yet this same council bureaucrat tried to pull down Mr Dryden's bungalow. One is reminded of those accounts of Rudolf Hoess - the commandant of Auschwitz - who loved children, was a good family man and kept an excellent vegetable garden. It is not the personal life of the bureaucrat that is the seat of the problem, it is their role as a bureaucrat itself.
Harry Collinson was acting as a council official. He was only obeying orders, when he moved in to demolish Albert Dryden's bungalow. So was Hoess only obeying orders. The US Army were only obeying orders when they carried out the My Lai massacre in Vietnam. The police in Yorkshire during the 1984 Miners' Strike were only obeying orders. So were the poll tax bailiffs only obeying orders. So were the Hampshire Police etc. etc. etc. All states are like this.
Moral automatons are not part of any ethical community. To claim that bureaucrat actions are outside ethics is to deny the moral community. Thus the death of a bureaucrat/automaton is no loss to the ethical world.
In the same way, it seems contradictory to e.g. support the sacked trade union members at GCHQ Cheltenham. These people are tapping our phones, opening our post etc. High time these were shunned, refused to be served in shops, pubs. The 'relationship' between Dryden and Collinson is a model for all relationships between the individual and the state.
Pity he didn't finish off the BBC reporter too!
Dear Do or Die,
Permaculture is a part of the repression that denies any genuine expression of love and freedom. It consents to, and thus becomes, a part of creating and recreating patterns of behaviour based on the illusion of authority and its various expressions: bureaucracy, hierarchy, patronisation, denial, deceit and their inevitable consequence - violence, destruction of life. It is self-destruction.
Permaculture is one more aspect of this institutionalised violence that is sublimated into the self, so a false normality or 'reality' is maintained that forever seeks to reform itself, to reform behavioural patterns which are creating systematic destruction of all life. It is basically self-denial.
Only direct action challenges the illusion that is authority, an act of love and truth, which actively challenges the deceit and denial, an act that gives space for the possibility of an honest relationship that is not denied by power.
This possibility, this honesty, is the possibility of us all. This is the only healing, it can only be global, the end of all authority, the end of all illusion. This can be expressed and lived in the present, direct action. There is never any 'giving up', 'retiring', never any 'loss' or 'gain', there is only a greater expression of life, of love. Direct action is this expression, it is an act of honesty in a reality based on deceit and denial. Permaculture is part of this deceit and denial. (If it did not involve the exchange of money it would be different.)
A permanently sustainable human culture (permaculture) can only be realised through the end of all authority, through honesty. Permaculture, in consenting to authority, becomes an agent in maintaining it. It is behaviour based on deceit and illusion (consenting to dishonest relationships based on authority.)
Realise that authority is an illusion, there is no authority. Authority is a lie. It is something our parents taught us, us children, to keep us quiet. It is no longer relevant to the present, we are no longer children. This realisation is the healing - it is self-realisation. Direct action is just an expression of this self-realisation. I feel I am stating the obvious. Authority has many guises, many ploys. All are recognisable. In recognising it, it no longer has any power and the individual becomes self-empowered, free. Authority is just a mind trick, another dishonesty. It is rooted in past ways of behaving and relating, based on authority. We can outgrow these dishonest ways of behaving and relating. Outgrow the stuff our parents taught us - come into real time; the present.
There is no authority in the present, authority is illusion. Anyone claiming authority now is still believing stuff their parents taught them as a child, is still falling for the mind trick, has not yet realised their own mind. They are projecting past learned behaviour patterns onto the present, they are living a projection, an illusion. In the present there is no authority, to live this is the only practicality, this is to come into the present, to outgrow learned ideas and to live possibility. This is the possibility of us all. This is direct action. If anyone is still holding onto illusory ideas of authority, these ideas must be challenged, for they are simply learned ideas that do not relate to the present. This is the only practicality. This brings people into present awareness where all possibility lies. This is healing, to live this truth. This healing is global, it is forever in the present, it is present awareness.
It cannot be added to or taken from, cannot gain or lose, it is just a growth. Recognise authority and challenge it, this is all there is to do. The authority is in your own mind (fear). Realise this and peace arises naturally, like a new days dawning; the human race 'wakes up' to global peace. Direct action is the practical expression of this realisation - self-realisation. It is only practicality to live this truth, this present, this honesty, this love.
PS: I object to the terms 'protester', 'activist' and 'demonstrator' as they are unreal and divisive. What about 'person', 'people' and 'human beings'?
Hi friends of Do or Die,
I am a Spanish anarchist and militant in a libertarian direct action union, its name is CNT (National Confederation of Workers).
Well I saw a TV report on national channel called 'Canal Plus', it was about how the British State allowed private companies to cut down forest and build motorways or airports there, unfortunately that is something very usual in Spain and the rest of states in the whole world as well, but there was something more, there were people fighting against those companies, people defended the forest, each tree was a life to protect.
They built houses on the top of the trees (like the Ewoks in 'Star Wars') and I saw how the company hired people to fight against the 'tree defenders', I was really surprised about it, I saw all those people fighting for the nature and they weren't Greenpeace people. You know the capitalist system uses the mass media to show us that Greenpeace is the only 'rebel' big group which fights for ecology, I think it is a big lie because Greenpeace people are similar to 'politicians' because they use the same system tools to fight for the environment, but you know this better than me never the less I think they fight for a very good cause, but sometimes I think they are no more than politicians.
A woman of the forest camp sang a sad song with a beautiful voice in the last minutes of the TV report, and pictures of the evolution of the forest were showed since the camp had been created until only one tree was left and all around it was completely devastated. It was very sad, sincerely teardrops fell down from my eyes, but the song had a feeling of hope, it was like if Mother Nature and Planet Earth spoke by her voice. I really felt the same that she sang and I believe anyone would feel the same because the Nature spoke by her mouth. When the TV report finished I decided to go to Great Britain and meet them.
So I travelled to England, I arrived in London and met some squatter friends in Brixton (South London) and began my fight for dreams of utopia. I usually went to the 121 Centre in Railton Road, it was a famous squat social centre in South London area (I'm sure you know it), they wrote the Contraflow news, there I met the last step of the anarchist evolution 'the vegan and eco-defence culture' and I had my first news about Earth First!. I wasn't vegetarian before I arrived in London but I changed my way of eating in a few months because the vegan fight was pretty close to my way of thinking, I realised in that time that the anarchist movement in Spain and ecologic fight was sleeping compared with British anarchism.
I don't know if you know something about the Spanish anarchist movement history, anyway I will tell you something.
Anarchist trade union CNT was stronger in the early twentieth century and during the Spanish Civil War. The libertarian movement fought very strongly against fascism but that is not the most important fact, it was the revolutionary process made during the war in 1936. It started in Catalonia (Barcelona area, North Spain) and it was extended to the east Aragon and South Valencia very last. It is the only moment in world history that the anarchist movement triumphed, they collectivised earth and property and changed village government and councils for popular assembly (meetings), but they hadn't only the opposition of the National Army (the fascists) they also had the opposition of the Communist Party (leader of the Republican faction) this was worse than the fascists because the Republican government stopped and reduced the libertarian revolution with their rules.
The highest point of the libertarian movement in Spanish history was 1937, after that Franco won the war and began the darkest period of Spanish history, it was the death sentence for the left in Spain and for anarchism was the complete destruction, thousands of people were killed during 50 years of dictatorship, and when Franco died the 'democracy' came back to Spain and our borders were opened to the world. The anarchist movement is reborn from the ashes and shadows, but those 50 years of silence are a very big weight and libertarian ideas haven't evolved and so face the problems of the new world with the same strategies of 70 years ago. There are some exceptions in the big cities like Barcelona and Madrid where a minority of squatters exist with vegan and ecologist ideas - but very small compared with Great Britain.
Then I saw in your country that there is a natural evolution of libertarian ideas and you have seen that environmental destruction is the worst problem that humanity has to face, because if we destroy the part of Nature that we need to survive we will be condemned to disappear like animal species, I think you have seen this years ago and you are fighting in consequence.
Well I was in England for a year and I had the opportunity to meet that kind of people (who fight for the forests with direct actions like you) in a meeting party in the Jan Rebane Centre in Brixton they organised vegan dinners and poetry nights and that concert night a group of forest fighters (probably very close to 'Earth First!') organised a meeting and I saw photographs of their last forest camp. That was the moment that I had been looking for during all the time I was in London, but I am a shy man and I didn't speak fluid English in that moment so I didn't face the chance and lost my opportunity to make real one of my dreams.
I live in a small town of 65,000 citizens and we have two libertarian groups here. Our stronger struggle is against the bull fighters (bull killers) and bull killing, but this is the only fight close to the ecological struggle, you know the most part of our strength goes in campaigns against unemployment (this is a very big problem here) and against politicians, this is what I mean before, here we forget the environmental problems. I am the only man on my collective to have travelled to Great Britain but not only for a washing up job in London. I also went to your country to see and know how you give solutions to the social problems and live the libertarian reality with the squatter movement, I met people of 'Earth First!' and that is a really different way of thinking. In Spain we are dozens of years back, I mean the environmental crash isn't far away and the planet situation reclaims direct action, I know you really know we have no more than 50 years to change the relationship between mankind and Nature, if we use and spend all our energy fighting for better jobs and better wages, we are losing precious time to save our Mother Nature and save ourselves. We sleep here with problems and strategies of Bakunin's one century ago.
We have here a fanzine called la @rroba and I would like to open a section about ecology and animal liberation, and I would like to show to my friends how you fight with news about your struggle.
Well my friends of Earth First! the rest I can tell you is keep on fighting, you are a very bright star to follow on these dark days.
Your Spanish friend,
Dear Do or Die,
Despite being an excellent article, 'The New Luddite War: We Will Destroy Genetic Engineering!' (see Do or Die No.8, p.89) made an error in stating that "the - now global - elite continues to wage a war on the class that remains the main threat to its existence - the global peasantry." It seems that the author of this article believes that because the peasantry are reliant on the land for subsistence and are generally outside the market economy they are therefore a great threat to capitalism. Of course, this proves the exact opposite - because the peasantry have no intrinsic connection to capital, they exist for it only as a possible realm for further expansion. The struggles of the peasantry consist of resisting this expansion, which is undoubtedly an important and vital struggle and one which does attack capital, for capital must always expand. However, the global peasantry, because they are to an extent outside of capitalism cannot directly hit the heart of the beast.
The struggles of wage workers in capitalist economies on the other hand, can. It is the labour of wage workers that creates and maintains capital, that creates the profits it needs in order to continue to exist. Merely by stopping work they strike a powerful blow against the system.
In order to understand this society we need to understand both capital and class and their relationship. Grasping only one side of the story will lead us into all sorts of problems. Many Marxist academics and theorists understand only capital and ignore class struggle and they end up with a very skewed view of the world. Likewise class struggle anarchists, who seem to be allergic to reading Marx, don't understand capital and similarly end up confused. 'The New Luddite War' seems to be an example of the latter tendency - although being ecological class struggle anarchism, it takes the peasantry rather than the workers as its central protagonists. The author of the piece understands this society is characterised by a struggle between classes but appears confused about what these classes are or how they relate to capitalism. Are we talking rich and poor? the peasantry vs. the elite, or what?
Capital is entirely composed of surplus-value, extracted from the labour of wage workers by making them work longer than is necessary for them to reproduce the value of their wages. The extra value they produce above this is the capitalist's profit. This is the central motor of the entire system. If this extraction of surplus-value falters or stops, the entire system stops. Whether we like it or not, wage workers in capitalist enterprises occupy a centrally important place in the system, which is why so much energy has been dedicated to destroying, defeating and co-opting their revolutionary activity.
Charlie Marx's Enormous Whiskers
Dear Do or Die,
With regard to the letter from Bob Black in issue 8 (pp.337-338) of your publication, this fails to deal with the issues raised about Black's racism and dodgy political involvements outlined in my 1997 pamphlet Anarchist Integralism (available for £3.00 in British stamps from: Sabotage Editions, BM Senior, London WC1N 3XX). Black - who has written for the neo-Nazi Journal of Historical Review - opines in Anarchy after Leftism pp.44-45:
"I'm not one of those who cries out in horror at the slightest whiff of anti-Semitism. But the Dean sees fit to insinuate that even the promiscuously pluralistic Hakim Bey is ideologically akin to Hitler, and that the primitivist quest to recover authenticity "has its roots in reactionary romanticism, most recently in the philosophy of Martin Heidegger, whose volkisch 'spiritualism,' latent in Being and Time, later emerged in his explicitly fascist works." So let's consider whether Bookchin-vetted classical anarchists are ideologically kosher. Proudhon was notoriously anti-Semitic but since Bookchin dismisses him, however implausibly, as too much the individualist, let's set Proudhon aside. Bakunin, the Russian aristocrat who "emphatically prioritized the social over the individual" had a notion what was wrong with his authoritarian rival, Karl Marx. Bakunin considered Marx "the German scholar, in his threefold capacity as an Hegelian, a Jew and a German," to be a "hopeless statist". Hegelian, a Jew, a sort-of scholar, a Marxist, a hopeless (city) statist - does this sound like anybody familiar?"
The style of invective quoted above runs through the whole of Anarchy after Leftism:
"The hard Right Republicans, like Newt Gingrich, along with the Neo-Conservative intellectuals (most of the latter, like the Dean, being high-income, elderly Jewish ex-Marxists from New York City who ended up as journalists and/or academics) blame the decline of Western Civilization on the '60s."(p.21).
Similar sentiments can be found in Black's other writing. For example, 'My Date With Jim Hogshire (Version 2.1)' in Big Bad Bob Black: A Popular Reality Special Report (Popular Reality, Jackson, p.6), a somewhat idiosyncratic account of events surrounding Bob Black's activity as a police informant:
"I turned the tables on the Muslim maniac. You know how the towel-heads are always taking Westerners hostage: I took one of them hostage. Having a gun trained on you concentrates the mind wonderfully. When Jim pointed his rifle at me, I grabbed Heidi as a human shield. Whereupon (you surely suppose) he put his gun down. Not so! He trained his rifle on his own wife! "The animal did not seem to care!" as he wrote to Junto. I didn't care? I wasn't aiming a gun at her. Jim was wired up and fired up to shoot her if that's what it took to shoot me. Which, come to think of it, is consistent with how Muslims regard their women - as disposable. And with how junkies regard their junk - as their top priority: "Opium is that Muslim's religion!" (John Marmysz)."
With the same twisted logic that he uses to justify his activity as a police informant, Black rants about Heidegger and Junger in Anarchy after Leftism (p.43) as: "the twentieth-century German intellectuals he (Bookchin) j'accuses as carriers of nineteenth-century conservative romantic ideology."
Invoking Dreyfus (j'accuse) in defence of a card-carrying member of the Nazi Party such as Heidegger - not to mention Junger, the author of Storm Of Steel and Battle As Inner Experience - is a transparent attempt at presenting the victimisers as victims. As such, Black's rhetoric functions in a manner analagous to other anti-semitic propaganda - ranging from the calumnies of Bakunin to the fraudulent writings of Nesta Webster, and outright forgeries such as The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.
On the basis of this, and his other writing, it is clear that Black is a racist. As well as being the author of Politics, Prejudice and Procedure: The Impeachment Trial of Andrew Jackson which first appeared in the neo-Nazi and holocaust-denying Journal of Historical Review (Vol.7, No.2, Summer 1986, pp.175-192), Bob Black frequently has his articles reprinted in Green Anarchist (who also run 'Irrationalist' propaganda by Steve Booth advocating the gassing of the thousands upon thousands of workers who use the tube). Loompanics Unlimited, who have published Black's The Abolition of Work and Other Essays, as well as other texts by him, specialise in producing extreme right-wing pro-capitalist and survivalist material. I appreciate that you may not have been aware of all this, but hope in future you will not be running further correspondence from racists and grasses like Bob Black.
It's now been two years since Ted Kaczynski was sentenced to multiple life terms for the 1978-95 anti-tech Unabombing campaign, following a farcical trial in Sacramento. Ted's currently appealing this conviction. After the trial, Ted was sent to the notorious Florence Supermax prison, Colorado, where he's been denied visits from everyone except journalists, who he generally doesn't want to talk to.
Ted's main contact with the outside world has been by mail, with publishers Context Books covering postage costs. Now Ted's rebuttal to smears against him by his family and the media, Truth vs. Lies, is not being published, he is no longer receiving this mail money.
The Friends of Ted Kaczynski has been formed to cover Ted's mailing costs. A donation of just 30 cents will pay for a letter, so please support this anarchist political prisoner! Send your donations - preferably well-hidden cash dollars, clearly marked 'Friends of Ted Kaczynski' (with cheques payable to John Zerzan) - to the address below.
Yours - for the destruction of civilisation,
Friends of Ted Kaczynski
London WC1N 3XX
Dear Do or Die,
I'm contacting you with an unusual plea, a very unusual plea. I doubt you'll print it in your letters section, but there's no harm asking!
I'm a single vegan male (32, tall, slim, athletic, with long brown hair, blue eyes and an aversion to the 'rat race') with a need to father a child. But, I don't want to be committed to a relationship with either the lady or child. I want to maintain my independence. I just want to know I've fathered a child and so have a next of kin. And I'd like the lady to be alternative and vegan, hence contacting you. I don't want any child of mine to have a normal upbringing. I want them brought up as a strict vegan with high moral and ethical standards, and being taught about what they need to know not what society thinks they should know.
I realise I'm expecting a lot but there are partnerless ladies who are willing to be artificially impregnated, a service that can be both lengthy and expensive, so there are ladies who wish to have a child without commitment to the father, just as I wish to have a child without commitment to the mother.
At least my way a child would be conceived the natural way, through an act of love, not in a test tube, and in comparison to artificial means it would be quicker and cheaper.
This is a genuine plea, I'm not after cheap sexual thrills. If I was I could get them in other ways. I genuinely want to father. And all I would ever ask is for the child to be brought up as a strict vegan with high standards and to be kept informed about their progress. That's it! I promise I wouldn't interfere with their upbringing.
If you're interested please send details about yourself to me at: 7a Heath Close, New England Road, Haywards Heath, West Sussex RH16 3JW, UK and I'll send you more details about myself.
If you could print this for me I'd be extremely grateful.
Adrien J Dyson
Dear Do or Die,
Greetings and good health! Thank you for the information and publication you sent. It was quite informative and did help me pass the time in this US prison. I must venture to say I live the oppressive life so I do not really like to read much about it. It makes me think that people such as myself are forgotten because we are too small and can't really make an impact on the cause. We are dormant, stagnant. Just living a day to day existence. Having to pay or barter for the basic needs of life. The very needs most people take for granted. The prisons are not only a sub-culture but a vastly spread out third world country. To be honest I would rather prefer reading materials which take my mind out of this madness. I do enjoy thoughts of females. Even after 20 years in prison, I would prefer spending my time fantasising about women. I must be a healthy male after all these years! So, I would like some hot and nasty novels. They must come from a publisher such as yourself. No picture books. Just hot steamy novels. However, actual camera type pictures are welcome but cannot be polaroids nor show penetration or body fluids. I would enjoy such pictures of my British sisters. I hope I haven't offended anyone. I just want to be honest and up front. Being a foreigner in a US prison is no fun and it is extremely lonely and one feels very isolated. Personal correspondence is more than welcome. I am looking into transferring back to the UK to do my time so it would be very important to establish some contacts in that area also. I guess I wouldn't feel so lonely and isolated except that I am serving time for a murder I did not commit. It was so strange that the person who did admit the murder received less time than I did. I would have more understanding and appreciation for the prison if I were in here for doing something against the law. This is a very strange criminal justice system here. Help a lonely British brother by keeping his hopes alive with the thoughts of British women and lust.
Thank you for your time, effort and consideration in this matter. With warm and sincere personal regards, I am humbly,
Scott C Smith
PO Box 777
Monroe WA 98272-0777
Dear Do or Die,
I never find the urge to write to magazines but after reading the critical view of the Intercontinental Caravan (ICC) in the last issue I had to respond. Fair enough, I agree with most of the criticisms outlined, but what I disagree with is the need for this article in the first place. If it had been alongside a more critical appraisal of the ICC then I wouldn't have to write this, even though there is a more positive image of the project given in a different section of Do or Die. Such a mega-project may have been disliked by the author(s) but such criticism is a slap in the face to those who sacrificed up to nine months of their lives. The prospect of bringing 500 people from the South to confront the corporations that are fucking up their lives was an exciting project. It was not to the detriment of these people that some of the problems that arose were unseen until they went through the process of making the project happen. To criticise this is unfair since such a massive undertaking had never been attempted before. Indeed the general tone of the article gives the impression that the author(s) had an axe to grind. Why?
Dear Do or Die,
So here it is again! Despite the editorial collective vowing never to put themselves through the wrangle of another issue, despite the printing staff's glazed expressions and collective back problems after last year's truncated production process, despite the spontaneous combustion of many angry pacifists as they read the 'Things that go Bang' section. And, most of all, despite the pleading and moaning of those nearest and dearest to the editorial collective to lay off the political propaganda and spend those summer months being loving and lovable human beings rather than the miserable, exhausted and nocturnal creatures that the editing of Do or Die reduces them to. I've had enough! As one of those in dangerously close proximity to the editorial process, I have a sanity saving plea for all sincere and sympathetic readers of this issue. Distractions please! Anything and everything will be tried - good novels, bad videos, zines, saucy photos, plane tickets, origami books, erotic literature, recipes and lewd suggestions...
Please send to Do or Delirium at the usual address and accept my heartfelt appreciation at saving me from the yawning chasm of despair (my partner in the midst of the next issue).
With love from a desperate woman.
Dear Do or Die,
Cheers for the generous review. I think it is vital to maintain some kind of relationship between practical activism and research. Do or Die flies at reasonably high level discourse and the general level of thought and reflexivity in the movement is much higher than within groups like the Green Party or the NGOs who can think policy but in my experience rarely in terms of politics and strategy. One attractive feature has been your meditations on history which are generally well-referenced and interesting attempts to trace back lineages of revolt.
I have, though, felt that your histories have seemed a bit smooth. In the words of Clarke* you are in danger often of collapsing "the lengthy and complex process of stylistic development into too narrow a moment of analysis, and thus neglect [ing] how certain aspects are taken up or become imbued with an especial significance at particular moments and in relation to particular events." (Clarke 1976, p.182)
There is no very direct link between us and the pirates or King Ludd (except via Ed Abbey)! Equally movements and tactics are impure. The stuff on the Gordon Riots though went beyond being slightly too historically slick. The rioters burnt working class Irish homes as well as rough handling their lordships. Gordon was campaigning against Catholic emancipation. Okay, there were more sussed energies at work and lots of prisons were burnt to the ground and commercial activity in the city was impaired. The whole thing was a precursor to 1789, maybe William Blake was there and we all know that Barnaby Rudge is Dickens' only interesting novel etc., etc., but your account is one sided and in particular would tend to piss off any one from an Irish Republican tradition.
Centre for the Study of Social and Political Movements, University of Kent at Canterbury.
* See Clarke, J. (1976) 'Style' in Hall, S., Clarke, J., Jefferson, T. and Roberts, B. (eds) Resistance Through Rituals, (London, Huthchinson)
I write to warn your readers of a disturbing new political tendency that seems to have recently emerged, which though yet small, deserves to be stamped on swiftly. Others may have noticed publicity knocking around for an event called 'The Anarchist Heretics Fair', publicising itself with the strap-line: "Beyond Left and Right". It was advertised as a forum for the "outsiders and rejects from the mainstream contemporary anarchist movement including neo-medievalists, Goths... anarcho-monarchists, surrealists... neo-pagans, druids, odinists, folk autonomists and the hermeticists anarchist undergrounds." Now, I admit, I was tempted by some of this - I'm as amused by ley-lines and secret Martian bunkers under St. Paul's Cathedral as the next man, (here it comes...), BUT...
It was fucking dodgy. Among those advertised as attending were: Nexus - an Australian-based New Age magazine with proven and documented links to the far right; Albion Awake! (as if the name were not warning enough!) - a one-man Christian Anarchist group consisting of Wayne John Sturgeon, who promulgates a strange combination of conspiracy theory, evangelical Bible-bashing and British nationalism; and Alternative Green - a magazine put out by the ex-editor of Green Anarchist, Richard Hunt, who was kicked out for being on the far right, that, again, has links with fascists. And that's just the ones I've heard of!
Following the first thankfully very poorly attended event held in Brighton on the 6th May, a second Anarchist Heretics Fair was advertised for Saturday 14th October in an obscure venue in South London. This date was picked in direct competition with the Anarchist Bookfair. The Heretics Fair was to have included many of the same participants as before, with some new additions, including the group Nationale Anarchie (see: http://www.nationale-anarchie.de/ [ 22/7/02 Ouch that got shut down try http://www.chez.com/nationalanarchisten/ ] ) from Germany and the "National-Anarchist" National Revolutionary Faction (NRF), who engage in a avowed strategy of attending lots of 'our' events. Troy Southgate, the leader of the anti-Semitic NRF and an ex-National Front organiser, has said, "The NRF uses cadre activists to infiltrate political groups, institutions and services... It is part of our strategy to do this work and, if we are to have any success in the future, it is work that must be done on an increasing basis" ('Neo-Nazis Join Animal Rights Groups', Sunday Telegraph, Sunday 3rd September 2000).
Anti-fascists organised against this second Heretics Fair and the whole thing was thankfully called off due to threats the organisers said they had received. Some of them turned up to leaflet the Anarchist Bookfair later in the day and were persuaded to fuck off. Nevertheless, we should keep our eyes and ears open for any further left-right convergence moves like this.
In Britain as yet we haven't much had to deal with this sort of stuff because the far right here has consisted of such a benighted collection of boneheads that they are all too busy fighting each other to get anything else together. In Europe, the situation is different and the 'New Right' is much more sophisticated, trying to look respectable or using the language of anti-capitalism.
We must beware of any tendencies within our movement that push in this direction. For example, Tony Gosling of The Land is Ours runs the http:// www.bilderberg.org/ website, which collects information on the Bilderberg group, a secret organisation of the rich and powerful. Unfortunately the existence of such a group is like manna from heaven for right-wing conspiracy theorists and loony tunes of all descriptions, seeming to fulfill all their prophecies. Even more unfortunately Gosling is a Bible-bashing Christian who believes it's all part of a plot by the Illuminati and then goes on to point people in the direction of fascist groups for more information.
I would recommend everyone to read the article 'Beware of Bad Bedfellows' by the Dutch group De Fabel van de Illegaal in the Reflections on June 18th pamphlet published last year, which explains how far-right groups spouting radical language involved themselves in anti-globalisation movements in the Netherlands, and how in some ways those movements laid themselves open to this attack. If you can't find a copy of the pamphlet, it's available on-line at: http://www.infoshop.org/octo/j18_rts2.html
Also, check out this site for more info against right-left links: http://www.savanne.ch/right-left.html
There have always been some elements in our politics that the far right can latch onto. That doesn't mean that those elements should necessarily be discarded. It does mean we should be vigilant not to allow any muddying of the waters. If 'anarchist' Wayne John Sturgeon of Albion Awake! can say he is "interested in the growing convergence of the radical decentralist left with the radical decentralist right - in opposition to the globalisation of capital and the neo-liberal free market," then surely we have to do something to distinguish ourselves from that sort of politics. We need to develop our ideas and our actions so that the far right can have no common ground with them - so that no such convergence can ever occur.
NB: The whole thing appears to have been organised by Jonothon Boulter of 4 Huntingdon House, St. Paul's Avenue, Willesden Green, London NW2 5SR. Phone: 020 8459 5520 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org - Why not drop him a line or something?
Dear Do or Die,
Thanks for sending me the latest issue of Do or Die - I've really been enjoying reading it. I live on an organic farm in Eastern Washington, USA - also an old hippie commune/land trust, and slowly becoming a refuge for ageing anarchists who have escaped the city to become farmers.
I got to know Mark Cook while he was in the local prison via weekly visits. He has since been moved back to the coast - but sends me lots of radical literature that he gets sent, helping to combat my isolation. I'm not sure why he had you send his latest issue to me - but I really appreciate it. I'd like to pay for the next copy but don't have any idea how much to send - not liking government currency much. So here's an example of my own home grown garlic as an offer of my appreciation. Please let me know how much to send for the next issue in US dollars - or if you would accept garlic as a trade it averages $3.50 per pound.
I really enjoy and feel inspired by the reading of Do or Die. It may be that Mark is worried it won't be allowed in - or since he's due to be released soon he'll show up out here and read it. That would be awesome! I'm waiting to hear from him about this.
Dear Do or Die,
I have been meaning to write to you for the last two weeks but I'm just now getting round to it. You'd be suprised at how busy prison life can be. I make it a point to try and keep as busy as I can in order to keep my mind off the time I am doing. For the most part it works.
In any case... I got the zine you sent and I wanted to thank you for it. I don't yet know who had it sent to me but I read it and I give you all credit for a job well done. One of the things I try and do to keep busy is keep in touch with some of the activist groups around the world. I found that even though I can't be a part of the action I can still keep informed on the happenings. I've seen a lot of action reports over the years and yours is the most complete, well-written and well published that I've seen so far. I am a printer when I'm not serving time for bunk charges and I've seen a lot of crappy work. The bottom line is that it's not the quality of the printing that counts as much as it is the quality of the information. It does help, though, when the work is done in a professional manner. It lends credence to the issues at hand for some odd reason.
Today is an interesting day at this prison. Evidently someone escaped last night and so now all the screws are running around with their heads up their asses trying to figure out who, when and where. Pretty funny! Most times when this type of thing happens the warden loses his job and a few heads roll. Thank the Gods 'cos our warden is a complete asshole and deserves to get jammed up over this.
Enough of that. I hope you guys continue to spread the word and all is well in your group. If in the future you're able to send me another copy of Do or Die I would really appreciate the thought. The one you just sent will make its rounds among the rest of the cons here. There is a waiting list of about 12 people right now.
Take it easy and keep the faith,
Dave Seif #60492
ASPC-T, ECHO 138
PO Box 24402
TTucson AZ 85734-440
Dear Do or Die,
I want to thank you for issue number 8 and would appreciate it if you would keep me on your list to receive other issues. I am interested in all of this, and being a father of daughters I very much appreciate the issues of females. I don't know hardly anyone who is interested in any of these issues and would be very grateful if you would print this letter. I am in hope someone will write to me of the same interest. I am on Death Row.
PO Box 221
Annwyl Do or Die,
The last Do or Die featured an anonymous letter from D attacking Cymru Goch - Welsh Socialists. I'm sad that someone who claims to know "leading" members of Cymru Goch should see fit to defame us anonymously in a magazine for which I have a lot of time.
My initial response was to ignore the letter as a rather embittered person's rant against us but because it's reached a wider audience I feel I have to respond to the magazine rather than let the slurs go unanswered. Sorry to take up valuable space that should go to constructive campaigning and debate.
I can take all manner of political criticism where accurate. So let's look at the claims:
1. We are described as "heavily statist" without giving a single example. Both in our monthly paper Y Faner Goch and Extreme Democracy - We are the Welsh Socialists (our introductory pamphlet available to any curious Earth First!ers) we advocate workers' self-management and community control. We specifically attack both the Soviet-style state bureaucracies and Labourite State capitalist nationalisations as being totally at odds with our concept of libertarian socialism. That is taken as a given within Cymru Goch, even though we are not a democratic centralist organisation. As I'm sure D is aware, we're not that bloody organised!
2. The Scottish Republican Socialist Party (SRSP) is described as misogynist, homophobic, openly hostile to anarchism and potty. D succeeds in smearing Cymru Goch by association as we have no formal links with the SRSP (beyond website links) yet the impression given is that we as well as the SRSP are misogynist, homophobic, openly hostile to anarchism and potty. Does D have any proof of this regarding either the SRSP or Cymru Goch?
3. "We claim our heritage from the Free Wales Army (FWA)" - absolute bollocks. We've been openly critical of the FWA for being anti-socialist, although we would not condemn its tactics at the time. Our heritage, as mentioned above, has far more in common with workers' struggle (such as the Rebecca Rioters, miners' self-organisation) throughout the years than a bunch of amateurish adventurers. D mentions a "eulogy" in Y Faner Goch - there has been no eulogy. They had many right-wing nationalists among them but I re-read my To Dream of Freedom in vain to find a reference to John Tyndall. The NF smear is reminiscent of attempts by the security services to smear Welsh republicanism in the 80s and 90s.
4. Cymru Goch did join with the Socialist Party to form a Welsh Socialist Alliance, not an electoral coalition. This was similar to the Scottish Socialist Alliance (now Party) and other socialist alliances in England, with which we have good relations. This Alliance consists of a third of non-aligned members, a third Cymru Goch and a third Socialist Party and along with the SWP stood on a United Socialist list for the Welsh Assembly in May 1999 (there was never any intention of standing for the May 1997 general elections). The alliance, despite problems, is continuing to develop and overcome the traditional sectarian divisions that have plagued the left. Our results in the election were predictable given Plaid's play for the left-wing vote and our limited resources but we stood for tactical reasons - i.e. to get our message delivered free to half a million homes and lay down a marker that a socialist alternative exists to both New Labour and Plaid.
5. D is right, we haven't played a part in the anti-McDonalds campaign in Aberystwyth (because we've only got one member in Aber and he works long hours in a supermarket) and the Anti-Election Alliance would have been a bit strange to join given that we were standing as candidates in the Assembly. I could be equally critical of D, if I knew who s/he was, and ask about specific campaigns such as the Miners' Strike, the anti-poll tax struggle or various campaigns against opencast mining in both north and south Wales.
D questions our commitment to green, red and black politics, all aspects - along with our republicanism - that have been central to Cymru Goch since we were founded in 1988. I fully accept that we could have been more active at times but we all have commitments outside politics, whether work or family or something else (sex and drugs and rock 'n' roll). Unlike some left-wing sects we do not have any full-timers and none of our members could be termed lifestylers.
6. "Many of the senior party members are academics" I take this to be a reference to T, a law lecturer. At the last Cymru Goch national committee meeting he attended, he was in the company of a journalist, a supermarket worker, a call-centre worker and a postal worker. All, alas, men and doubtless "sweaty rugby lads" (another lovely criticism we all enjoyed). But not academics.
7. Female membership - got me there. It's a problem for the left and Cymru Goch is part of that problem. Unfortunately there are no easy answers to that, although we are consciously trying to reach women e.g. our Socialist Campaign Against Low Pay is attracting the support of many low-paid workers (mainly women) but I can't pretend that in itself is adequate. What would D's solution be?
8. The apologetic PS sounds as false as the rest of the letter. If you haven't fallen out with us, why write such a nasty piece and why personalise it with taunts about misogyny, rugby lads and academics?
Whatever our disagreements, I hope we can conduct them openly without resorting to anonymous smears that would do justice to the worst Stalinist disinformation. We have an open letters page in Y Faner Goch and have subsequently put D's unedited letter on that page. Please write again D - it will help sharpen the debate amongst the sweaty rugby lads - but don't try to do us down in the radical environmentalist movement without just cause.
Pob hwyl - all the best,
For Cymru Goch/Welsh Socialists
PO Box 661
Wrecsam LL11 1QU
Dear Do or Die,
I write in response to the letter 'Welsh Authoritarians?' published in Do or Die No. 8 (p.335). Sadly, your correspondent's indictment of both Cymru Goch and the Scottish Republican Party is quite correct. I say sadly because, as a Welsh speaker, there is much to commend in both groups' analysis of cultural and economic oppression of the Celtic peoples of the 'UK'. Cymru Goch's 'Off Our Backs - Wales a Colony', for example, remains a classic piece of liberation writing and one which the counterculture and anarchists would undoubtedly agree with.
Unfortunately, the gulf between the theory and practice of the groups is vast. Cymru Goch in particular veers between support for reformist nationalist campaigns and the revolutionary DIY ethos, giving it a meandering split personality, advocating 'direct action' but towards nebulously liberal ends. Anti-traveller bigotry, homophobia and sexism are quite commonplace in their meetings and, for all the rhetoric, grassroots ecological resistance is regarded as a trivial matter, secondary to the important task of regimenting the proletariat. Hey, even the SWP regard them as authoritarian!
Well, I've rattled on enough. I don't like writing letters and indeed I know for a fact that there are good individual activists in Cymru Goch, just as there are in SWP, Socialist Party, AWL et al. But we should always be wary of Leninist/Trotskyist organisations, even when they do adopt the language of anarchism.
Yr Eiddoch Gywir,
Towards the end of May Day, I was standing on a gritting box opposite the Black Prince, Lambeth, selling Green Anarchist (GA) to the tail end of the Brockwell Park-bound march. 'Heavy Metal' (blond, pony tail, blue shirt and jeans) came up ranting about 'violence', thumped my leg, and then joined his 20-something mates up the road. On going that way to rejoin the march, I was surrounded by a mob led by one Craig or Greg (face paint, white clown wig, black baseball cap) who was screaming "You cost us Solsbury Hill, you wanker!" and other incoherences. While three jostled and abused me, tried to grab my papers and otherwise attempted to provoke me to violence, their female cohort videoed it. Having failed to get my last GA off me by force, the self-styled 'fluffies' resorted to trickery. The crusty who'd been behind me went up the road pretending to want a paper. Having got hold of the GA, he handed it to 'Heavy Metal' who ran to the cops with it, unsuccessfully demanding they arrest me for the 'violent' Seattle story on the front page.
This incident wasn't the only one that day. Also on Black Prince Road, a lad told me he'd been harassed by 'Crusty' for mentioning PC Blakelock and in Parliament Square some South Coast sabs were menaced by the so-called 'fluffies' for being masked up. One then impersonated a Guardian journalist and tried to interview the sabs to get their names etc.
I suspect they'd been harassing others all day as self-appointed 'peace police' and that they were behind incidents of demonstrators being unmasked or otherwise compromised on earlier big London demos too. If so, it's now more appropriate to talk about 'the fluffies' rather than 'fluffies' generally. As individuals they're not distinctive, but they are as a group. From their obvious contradictions (e.g. attacking demonstrators in the name of non-violence, unmasking others whilst disguised themselves) and concerted tactics, some have suggested this group are agent provocateurs. My view is that they're the most E-damaged residue of the hard-line fluffy milieu that centred on the Rainbow Church, north London, during the mid-1990's anti-CJB period.
Regardless, they are compromising direct actionists, whether non-violent or otherwise, and should be identified and excluded from future demos. All information gratefully received via my correspondence address.
Yours - for the destruction of Civilisation,
London WC1N 3XX
Dear Cabbage Heads,
Autonomous spaces are important, and it's good to give space in Do or Die to highlight this, but not when you get it all wrong, tell blatant untruths and say nothing of importance in your section on the OKasional cafe.
Contrary to your article (Do or Die No.8, p.130) in Manchester the buildings picked have not been squatted because of any specific features or "important points". We have often talked about resisting eviction, not 'cos we want to defend the individual squat, but instead for the demonstration value of lock-on barrels and to be more overtly a reclaimed squatted space.
We've done much stuff in the six incarnations of the OKasional cafe, bringing the background politics of an autonomous and non-commercial space through it all. Food and drink by donation, organic beer, anarchy and squatting displays, bring and take stalls, library, kids' play area, action meeting point, live music, poetry and pancakes, performances, exhibitions, practical and info-based workshops, discussion groups, 3 course meals, activist socialising and access to all our other weird ideas and creativity. Why hell, we even squatted the Hacienda to build for J18, provide training, and raise funds for RTS arrestees (though we ended up with more people nicked, and in debt!).
We have always had an explicitly 'no mainstream media' policy (the opposite of what you claimed), and for most of our squats we decided not to attend court and give legitimacy to the judicial system.
So put that in your radical Brighton pipe and smoke it,
The OKasional Cafe
c/o Manchester EF!
22a Beswick Street
Manchester M4 7HS
Editorial note: The piece on the Okasional cafe in Do or Die No.8 was lifted word-for-word from an interview with someone from Manchester involved with the cafe.
Why the conspiracy of silence surrounding Green Anarchist? I don't get it. Why is no one ever prepared to tell them their magazine is shit? OK - people have, but only the sort of people who have always thought their magazine was shit, not anyone they might actually listen to.
Within the EF! network there seems to be this bizarre two-faced attitude; on the one hand almost everybody treats GA as a joke and pays very little attention to them, but on the other hand they are tolerated (largely because they are so ineffectual - the 'harmless nutters' theory) and no one ever expresses any of the criticisms they may have of them. This is our bizarre tolerance thing - is there anyone we wouldn't let join our club? Like you can advocate poison gas attacks on random commuters and no one will ever pull you up on it? What's that? So I could write leaflets advocating genocide or something and everyone would just snigger about it behind my back but not actually ever mention it to me. Is that any way to conduct revolutionary politics? Everything should surely be out in the open - air your differences. C'est nest pas?
Of course, I'm sure one of the reasons why no one ever says or does anything about it is because of The Feud - you know, the Stewart Home/Fabian Thomsett/Luther Blisset/Neoist attack on GA. A feud which has become so mind-bogglingly complex and has generated so many paranoid ramifications that only someone who was already mad (viz. the participants) or who wanted to be driven mad would ever dream of wading into it.
What seems glaringly obvious to me is that GA needed (and still needs) to be attacked, but that Home/Thomsett/whoever were precisely the worst people in the world to do it, because they achieved the hitherto unimaginable feat of making GA look sane.
Surely, all that would be needed to attack GA, rather than some bizarre and complex feud, would be simply to quote back at them some of the unjustifiable things they have published and challenge them either to defend them or disown them, with no stupid prevarication or get-out clauses about "we publish anything that gets sent to us - haven't you ever heard of free speech?" or "I didn't say we should carry out poison gas attacks against commuters, only that IF someone did, we shouldn't oppose them and we shouldn't feel sorry for the victims either."
It's all rather a shame really, because lots of the stuff they publish is very intelligent and interesting, unfortunately it's all marred by the paranoid logic of conspiracy theory and by straight-out lunacy.
A note for foreign readers (especially Americans): I would just like to point out for any foreigners who might be reading this - GA has little or no credibility in the direct action movement here, everyone pretty much regards it as a joke. They print paranoid conspiracy ravings and straight-out lies about the state of the movement here and then send it all over the world. I just hope that overseas readers have enough discerning intelligence to figure out that it's put together by barkers who have no involvement in anything that's actually going on.
A Zombie consumer who deserves his poison gas
Dear Do or Die,
Many Kudos to the Cats in Britain who saw beyond the limitations of Anarchism to embrace the People's War in Nepal... Mao said that the next 50-100 years would be the Strategic Offensive of the Proletariat, where we could actually sweep Imperialism and Reaction from the Global... with such analysis... Unity and Struggle is needed and the brothers and sister of Do or Die were open to this movement... this is a glorious time... the Mumia Struggle intensifies in the US and the US Imperialists have just sent their 1.3 billion dollars to the Butchers in Colombia to start Vietnam Part 2... the Mexican government, the Drug Government, is highly unstable and had to bailed out by the US Federal Banks and Fidel, yes a Revisionist, but still a fiery Nationalist, won't die and is receiving warm welcomes in the Latin Countries and Venezuela even boasts a warm leftist President... the stage is now set for Revolutionary Rebellion... making the 60s look like a tame parade... young urban Gangbangers in America will be watching this and choosing sides... Maoist sides... needing and creating new structures... Cats in Palestine and those Northern Irish Neighborhoods and Brixton will be watching these developments... Unemployed Gangs of Proletarians will Rise... it's Great to See that with Red Mask and Molotov in Hand the Comrades from Do or Die will be on the Front Lines!!!!!!!! Long Live the Maoist Movements in Nepal, Peru, Turkey, Philippines, India ............... and the UK!!!!!!
Blair Burns, MAS LUCHA
Dear Do or Die,
I'm an Italian forced guest of Her Majesty and I'm writing to you because I've started to translate some articles from Do or Die into Italian. I've got lots of friends in Italy that are interested in reading them, but unlucky not so many Italians understand English.
The Italian scene really needs some stimulus and ideas, particularly for ecology and occupation of sites and tree squatting. We can learn alot from England. So I'm writing to let you know and I hope you don't mind. It'd really help me as well to use my time in a constructive way as I'm serving a four year sentence.
Barbara Donati EH 6437
HMP Cookham Wood
Rochester ME1 3LU