Dossier: Escape

The misanthropic and dystopian speculative-fiction writer J.G. Ballard once mused that the two most important inventions of the Twentieth Century were the aircraft ejection seat and the birth-control pill.

He never explained what he meant by this, but I suspect that he was pointing out how technologies of escape have profoundly shaped the direction of this civilization’s history. Both devices are used to limit the extent of the physical repercussions inherent in certain kinds of risky behavior--they’re safety nets developed in the last century that let people get away with taking big, stupid chances, whether it is piloting a fighter plane deep into enemy territory or falling into bed with someone of the opposite sex who you never want to see again.


Fifth Estate Collective
Contents of print edition

Fifth Estate Issue #377, March, 2008, Vol. 43 No. 1

4 Readers’ letters

6 Green Scare News: Police Terrorize Earth First!er in Ohio

7 Powerlessness & the Power of the Prank from La lettre versatile de Jimmy Gladiator

8 Bowling with the Bonobo Bashers by Pieter Primatus

10 Stronger Wine! Madder Music! A manifesto by Apio Ludd


Various Authors
Letters to the Fifth Estate

The Fifth Estate encourages letters commenting on our articles, raising issues we haven’t presented, or reports from your area. Although we live in a digital age and comments in Microsoft Word are the most convenient for us, all formats are welcome, including type- and handwritten ones.

We read them all, but we can’t promise every letter will be published and some may be edited for length, grammar and punctuation.


Fifth Estate Collective
Call for submissions ... for Issues 378 and 379

Issue Number 378: MONEY

The ultimate representation; the symbol of all that is alienated in the modern world; the driving force of pathological greed; the whip that coerces wage labor; the basis of wars. Ten million millionaires world-wide control $37.2 trillion dollars in financial assets, assuring a planet of immiseration for billions of people.


Police Terrorize Earth First!er In Ohio

Just before midnight one night in early February Cincinnati Earth First! organizer (and longtime Fifth Estate friend) Marie Mason was terrorized by cops after her 16 year-old daughter discovered a cop fumbling with equipment underneath her automobile. Shortly thereafter, the same plainclothes cop and a uniformed henchman broke into Mason’s home; when confronted, they claimed to be searching for “prowlers” who were stealing “catalytic converters” from cars in the neighborhood and then they hastily left the scene.


Fifth Estate Collective
Gaza Hoax Powerlessness and the Power of the Prank

This is part of a communique from France, “La lettre versatile de Jimmy Gladiator,” translated by FE collective members.

Being especially partial to the sort of collective punishment that was declared illegal by the Geneva Conventions governing the conduct of occupying powers during war, the Israeli state periodically cuts the supply of electricity to the Gaza Strip (Israel bombed Gaza’s only electrical plant in 2006). Israeli human rights groups and the anti-colonial movement launched their usual protests, but it was some members of the extra-parliamentary far left that took an original initiative with the goal of getting people to think.


Pieter Primatus
Bowling with Bonobo Bashers

In my life I’ve met only two bonobos face to face. I stared at them and they at me through the glass of their cage in the Berlin Zoo. The experience gave me the same creepy feeling I get whenever I see gorillas or chimps in cages. Their sadness at being confined is obvious, as is their slightly accusatory attitude, which seems to say, “Why me? and why are you free?”


Apio Ludd
Stronger Wine! Madder Music!

“Their lives are like their knitting: introspective yet mindless; fussy, exacting, repetitive and pale-tinted by the cheaper dye.”

-- Rikki Ducornet

When I first encountered godless anarchy in the late 1970s, it was its excess, its unconstrained exploration and experimentation with the furthest realms of passion and ideas, and its desire and dreams that attracted me.


Don LaCoss
All Power to the Forevertron!

“We have been fooled, conned into letting governments and armies get into space on our behalf. Occasionally they will dangle little tidbits in front of us like “life on Mars” or “ice on the Moon,” but nothing really changes. It must be apparent that their interests are not ours. Now is the time for everyone, for all of us here to do it for ourselves--and for each other.”

-- from a 1995 manifesto by the Association of Autonomous Astronauts


Peter Lamborn Wilson

Swear fealty to the dark leprechaunism of revenge

Social Camouflage

Fabulous Insularity

become a lump of sensual actuality in the thin gruel of

Spectacular Electromagnetism

Set your basement afloat.

Behind the iron curtain of sheer boredom

with Civilization as we know it psychic

discoveries proliferate & angelic sensations


Daisy Cutter
Calamity Jayne

Ask! Tell!

We dare you to try to find the straight dope on recruiting statistics. Every month, armed forces recruiting numbers are announced, but when you read a handful of news stories about these same figures side-by-side, you find competing narratives about what these numbers mean.

But one indicator of how hard-up the military is for live, warm bodies is a startling relaxation of the silly “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT) policy. DADT prohibits any behavior that might suggest “a propensity or intent to engage in homosexual acts” on the grounds that it “would create an unacceptable risk to the high standards of morale, good order and discipline, and unit cohesion.” (And while we’re on the subject, we would like to say that we endorse any and all behaviors and acts that pose a threat to the military’s “high standards.”)


Ruby Green
Canadian Run

Jon R., a semi-retired North Dakotan farmer in his late 60s, eased his big, beat-up pickup truck off to the side of the dirt road and turned off the ignition. He turned in his seat and pointed to low wire fence running through the heavily-wooded field to the right.

“Usually, I would try to get here right before midnight. That fence is a good guide in the dark. You stay on the other side and follow that all the way to the corner of the field; straight ahead is an old fieldstone wall that you need to follow west until you find a small stream. You go upstream there for about two hours. Then you bed down for the night. I tell them ‘No fires at night. Dress warm, eat some food, fill your canteen at the stream, but no fires. Stay there until sunrise.’ Then I need to give them the compass readings...”


Igor Talliss
6,843 Armed Services Desertions in the Last Year Can the Troops Do Better?

The ruling elite’s successful management of mass-mediated news coverage during the US invasion of Kuwait and Iraq in 1990 was a revolution in governmental social control. Of course, psychological warfare has been a vital component in all war efforts since civilization’s first forays into organized butchery thousands of years ago, but arguably it was the Gulf War campaign that taught the Pentagon and the White House what Orwell had tried to warn us all about in 1948: in times of international conflict, the State’s administration of perception is the most critical part of any war strategy.


Army of None

a review of

Army of None: Strategies to Counter Military Recruitment, End War, Build a Better World by Aimee Allison and David Solnit, 2007, Seven Stories Press, 194 pp.

“War is good business, invest your son!”

-- Vietnam-era slogan

Did you enlist...and then change your mind? GI rights advocates can help recruits get out of the DEP — Delayed Enlistment Program. They help service-members apply for discharge or file grievances for harassment or discrimination. The GI rights hotline is answered by a network of non-profit, non-governmental agencies who provide information to members of the military. 1-800-FYI-95GI


Iris Waxcutc-ka (Hotcâgara)
The Lakotah Secession

In mid-December, an organization of Lakotah Sioux issued a declaration of independence claiming to unilaterally break treaties with the US government going back to 1868. “We are no longer citizens of the United States of America and all those who live in the five-state area that encompasses our country [Nebraska, South Dakota, North Dakota, Montana, Wyoming] are free to join us,” activist Russell Means said at a press conference.


Vachel Lindsay
The Black Hawk War of the Artists (1914)

August 2, 2007 was the 175th anniversary of the Bad Axe massacre, when US soldiers, settler militias, and army gunboats slaughtered Sauk (Osakiwug), Fox, and Kickapoo Indians following the Battle of Wisconsin Heights. This mass killing effectively put an end to the Black Hawk Wars.

The wars, named for what the British had given the indomitable war chief Ma-Ka-Tai-Me-She-Kia-Kiak, began with conflict over long-simmering objections to the 1804 treaties. Black Hawk was captured, imprisoned, and put on public display all over the US. He later fell ill and died in Iowa.


Yusuf Kataev

I look at the man sitting before me. He is a very polite man. He is in his mid-thirties. He is meticulously dressed in a plaid shirt and a pair of blue jeans. Lying on the table in front of him are piles of papers, on which he occasionally writes notes. He is cheerful, in a very good mood. Often, he strokes his scratched hand.


Amanda D.
What it Means to be a Prison Abolitionist

I started this work a few years ago when I became fascinated by what prisons were like in other countries and what prisoners in Saudi Arabia, Vietnam, and China had to endure. Then I became more involved in the local anarchist scene and was turned on to Independent Media and the Anarchist Black Cross (ABC). The original purpose of the ABC was to support the anarchists who were put in prison during the Russian Revolution.


Gary L. Doebler
“Tony” Revealed

Anarchist Alexander Berkman was sentenced to serve twenty-two years in prison for his attempt to shoot robber-baron Henry Clay Frick during the Homestead miners’ strike. While in prison, a plot was hatched to break him out. Who was the key figure involved in Berkman’s attempted prison escape?

Western Pennsylvania Warden Wright looks on as workers uncover the tunnel intended for Alexander Berkman’s escape (graphic by Rodrigo Quast)


Romeo Hardin
Tired of Being Stepped On?

One of the challenges today is to exist in a world in which you have no real control over your destiny. Our options are limited depending on demographics of ethnicity, gender, and wealth (or lack of). In conjunction with “the System” as it stands, we also must contend with cultural trends that negate our independence and interest in freedom from the ruling class.


Bureau of Public Secrets

Nothing exemplifies the sickness and degradation of the present society more than its “criminal justice” system, a cold-blooded infliction of suffering on a scale that far surpasses whatever offenses its victims may have been guilty of.

Think how long an hour can seem if you’re caught in some boring or frustrating situation. Then imagine being locked away not for an hour, or a day, or a week, but for years in a mean, ugly, hopeless environment administered by guards and officials who are in many cases more vicious and mentally sick than most of your fellow prisoners, who themselves may not be the most charming or uplifting of companions. And to add to the torment, knowing that a considerable portion of the people on the outside have been led to believe that you are being “coddled,” and that “light” sentences of “only” a few years amount to “getting off easy”


Walker Lane (Peter Werbe)
Escaping from Europe Why Our (White) Ancestors Came Here in the First Place

“[The Arawaks]...brought us parrots and balls of cotton and spears and many other things, which they exchanged for the glass beads and hawks’ bells. They willingly traded everything they owned ...They were well built, with good bodies and handsome features....They do not bear arms and do not know them...They have no iron. Their spears are made of cane...They would make fine servants.”

--Christopher Columbus, ship’s log, October 12, 1492


Hauling Secrets

What follows is an edited entry from “Hauling Secrets” an anonymous job-blog written by a handful of waste haulers in the Upper Mid-west. (haulingsecrets.com). The site offers interesting entries on bizarre on-the-job findings, as well as reflections on the cosmology of the waste stream in our over-developed civilization.


Andrew William Smith
Wild Child Alexander Supertramp and the Failure of Individualist Escape

The recent release of director Sean Penn’s film Into the Wild renews the controversial debates generated by Jon Krakauer’s 1997 book of the same name. At the roots, these charged deliberations have less to do with Penn’s ambitious directing or Krakauer’s compelling prose and focus instead on our collective interpretations about the tale’s real-life protagonist Christopher “Alexander Supertramp” McCandless.


Ianna Hawkins Owen
When the Getting was Good

You are like a boulder

and I was trapped under you

I am like that kid

who went climbing,

like that kid who was smashed

between you

and a hard place

who had to cut off his own arm

just to get away

from you.

There is a sea anemone

that can reverse the flow of its own heart.

Can you imagine?


Seditious Children

We will meet at the midnight hour

past the tree stump forest.

We will be sneaky slinkies and walky-

talkies. Robin Hood’s woods would be so

proud. Merry boys and girls sing

carnivalesque ballads and awaken

the tree’s breeze--our back beat.

Tonight, we escape to sing songs with the animals

songs that none of us know the words to.


Genderfuck the RNC! For the liberation of desire! For dance parties amidst the ruins!

On November 9 to 11, Milwaukee hosted the Midwest Anti-RNC Planning consulta. During the Sunday break-out strategizing session, a group met to discuss the possibilities of militant trans and queer action against the Republican National Convention in 2008.

Those involved in the discussion expressed their desire for a trans and queer bloc to play an integral and aggressive role in the strategy to shut down the RNC. It was proposed that such a bloc could hold one of the key intersections surrounding the convention center or could crash the parties of especially grievous religious fundamentalists.


K.M. Koan
Casey C.
Rhea Riley

From Seattle to St. Paul

There’s a specter haunting the northern Midwest. It is the specter of Seattle.

These days, no gathering of radicals in these parts can happen without some talk about our plans for the Republican National Convention in St. Paul in late summer. And no talk about anti-RNC action can happen without someone mentioning N30, the November 1999 protests against the WTO in Seattle.


Fifth Estate Collective
Acid Reigns

Note: Originally, FE special correspondent Kellie Button valiantly embedded herself with a group of anarchist LSD enthusiasts (represented here by the initials “HO”, “KG.”, and “AJ”) in order to report on recreational drug use for this issue’s special “Escape” feature. Unfortunately, a very long weekend in southeastern Minnesota among these self-described “anarcho-acidheads” yielded very little usable material, but something that did come up that has a bearing on the anti-authoritarian, anti-capitalist anti-RNC and anti-DNC actions currently under preparation. The relevant portion of one morning’s recorded discussion is excerpted here. Clarifying information provided by the editors appears in brackets.


Oliver Katz
Jacques Vaché and the Roots of Surrealism Book review

a review of

Jacques Vaché and the Roots of Surrealism, including Vaché’s War Letters & Other Writings, by Franklin Rosemont, illustrations by Jacques Vaché, 2008, Charles H. Kerr Publishing, 388 pp.

In early January 1919, a twenty-four year-old army translator named Jacques Vaché was found dead in a hotel room after a long weekend of partying. Not much is known about him--he was born in France to a French father and British mother, spent some time as a child in French Indochina, was drafted into the army as a translator when the First World War began in 1914, suffered a shrapnel wound in 1916, and that he smoked a fatal dose of opium about six weeks after the war was over. All that remains of his works are a couple of book reviews from a pre-war ‘zine he published with friends, about a hundred letters to friends and family from the battlefield, some experimental writings, and assorted drawings and doodles. Yet somehow Vaché, “a master of the art of attaching very little importance to everything,” has emerged to become a critical missing link between the most revolutionary cultural currents of late Symbolism, dada, and surrealism in early twentieth-century Europe.


Ron Sakolsky
Rocks in my Pillow Book review

a review of

Anarchy and Art: From the Paris Commune to the Fall of the Berlin Wall, by Allan Antliff, Arsenal Pulp Press, 2007

“Do you believe,” she went on, “that the past dies?”

“Yes,” said Margaret. “Yes, if the present cuts its throat.”

--Leonora Carrington

When I first heard about this project, I was excited at the prospect of a book entirely devoted to the history of anarchy and art. Sadly though, the result is a disappointment. Politically-speaking, the book rides the fence between the anarchist milieu and the authoritative voice of academia when what is needed is a sturdy pair of wire cutters, perhaps a catapult, or maybe even a battering ram. For me, the most positive aspect of the book is that its essays stimulated my critical thinking in response to its arguments. To be fair, attempting to write a history of the confluence of anarchy and art from the Paris Commune (1871) to the fall of the Berlin Wall (1989) is such a monumental project that much of the story will inevitably fall into the cracks of the eight episodic chapters that comprise its less than 200 pages. When I initially skimmed the book, I expected to be writing a basically positive review with my main critique being about the way in which surrealism is handled. However, upon actually reading it with some care, I soon realized that the book is problematic from start to finish.


S. Laplage
Albert Cossery Subversion by irreverence and ridicule

Anarchist Albert Cossery’s books are the most irreverent that I’ve ever read, ridiculing those in power, the police, the wealthy, and the stupidities of our industrial society. Everything our puritanical society deems important--material wealth, ambition, proper conduct, hard work, university degrees, progress--is ridiculed in his novels, most of which are set in Arab countries (especially Egypt). He mocks bourgeois materialism, consumerism, and productivity while reserving his sympathies for the lowlife: street-corner layabouts, hashish dealers, petty thieves, beggars, confidence tricksters (“shuttar” in Arabic), and bandits.


Don LaCoss
Without a Glimmer of Remorse Book review

a review of

Without a Glimmer of Remorse by Pino Cacucci, translated by Paul Sharkey, illustrations by Flavio Costantini (2006, Christie Books/Read and Noir; 364 pp.)

Read and Noir is the anarchist crime fiction imprint of anarchist Stuart Christie’s publishing collective; it’s an intriguing idea that deserves to be supported and I look forward to future titles. Back in 2005, Read and Noir put out an English-language translation (also by Paul Sharkey) of Pedro de Paz’s murder mystery/political thriller The Man Who Killed Durruti. This time around, it’s Pino Cacucci’s 1994 fictionalized biography of anarcho-bandit Jules Bonnot (1876–1912), the pre-First World War burglar, counterfeiter, car thief, cop-killer, and bank robber who was the most wanted man in France at the time of his death. (Interested readers may enjoy Bernard Thomas’s La Bande a Bonnot [1967] and Richard Parry’s The Bonnot Gang [1987], two of the best non-fiction histories of that affinity group.)


Vermillion Sands
The Tragic Death of Suharto

We here at Fifth Estate feel that a few words of remembrance are necessary to mark the passing of “Smiling General” Suharto. Beginning in 1967, this brutal terrorist’s “New Order” military regime was as vicious as the similarly well-funded US client-state dictatorships of Saddam Hussein, Augusto Pinochet, and the Shah of Iran. His government was a particularly spectacular showcase of nepotism and cronyism that rivaled that of Ferdinand Marcos thanks to hundreds of millions of Cold War dollars in US aid and crazily lucrative exclusive corporate concessions (with Chase Manhattan Bank, US Steel, British American Tobacco, General Motors, ICI, and a number of US petroleum combines) that allowed his closest friends and family to build monopolies and amass fortunes. Almost all of Indonesia’s current environmental disasters can be linked directly to the Suharto ruling clique’s industrialized pillaging of the archipelago. When he was finally forced from power in 1998 after the Pacific Rim economic crisis, Suharto had hoarded away more than $10 billion in personal wealth in foreign bank accounts, an inconceivable amount of money equivalent to more than 10% of Indonesia’s total foreign debt.


No! G8 Japan
Call for anti-G8 Action


In July, 2008 heads of the states that monopolize two-thirds of Earth’s wealth will gather at Toya Lake in Hokaido, Japan. Although the so-called “Group of Eight” (G8) does not have any legitimate right for deciding planetary affairs, they have self-appointed themselves world ruler. Thus the G8 has driven neo-liberal globalization at the same time as spreading poverty, violence, hatred, segregation, and environmental destruction.


David Watson
For Pat ‘the Rat’ Halley

“The layman Ho asked Basho: ‘What is it that transcends everything in the universe?’ (another version: ‘If all things return to the one, to what does the one return?’)

“Basho answered: ‘I will tell you after you have drunk up all the waters of the West River in one gulp.’

“Ho said: ‘I have already drunk up all the waters of the West River in one gulp.’


David Watson
Remembering Jim Campbell

Our longtime friend and comrade Jim Campbell died suddenly last September 17 of heart failure. He was 57 years old. Jim was a mainstay of the Toronto (and larger Canadian and international) anarchist community. Though we had not been in close touch lately, we had a long political and personal relationship going back to the late 1970s, including political collaboration, correspondence, and visits in Detroit and Toronto.


Laura Corsiglia
CB Surf Scoter

the cosco busan

a shipping ship

hit the bridge in the san francisco bay some weeks ago

and — perhaps you’ve heard

hundreds of birds--were oiled

poisoned corroded

bunker fuel’d


Monte ran the wash room

and i became a rinser

(convergent volunteers:

flock weep work keep


hot jet under into each feather

of each bird

dawn cuts grease

later then earlier each day

close up right here

waking dream life


lack of sleep



feather condition









Fifth Estate Collective
Back cover Erica A. Smith: On The Political Situation Experienced In Our Era

Contrary to the honeyed words of gentlemen, this Age of Empire is a pestilence upon every continent and soul, through colonization manifest or implied. Rich men from stone buildings wade blindly through the penniless on their way to the opera, at leisure after a day spent plotting wars across the seas; and though these gentlemen are excellent at imposing a world order, they are equally adept at colonizing the women who maintain their homes.