Various Authors
Letters to the Fifth Estate

Send letters to fe-at-fifthestate-dot-org or Fifth Estate, POB 201016, Ferndale MI 48220

All formats accepted including typescript & handwritten; letters may be edited for length.

Amazing Back Cover

I’m writing to ask about the amazing excerpt on the back cover of Spring 2008 Fifth Estate.

Who is or was Erica A. Smith? When was “On the Political Situation Experienced in Our Era” written? Most of the language in the excerpt seems to be late 19th or early 20th Century. But “colonization,” in context, seems to be contemporary. Perhaps I’m mistaken, but I don’t believe it was used in quite that way a century ago.


Fifth Estate Collective
Editorial Money: Root of all Evil

As several people who have seen this issue prior to publication have noted, the correct quote is “The love of money is the root of all evil,” but its truncated form seems more accurate than the original. Money itself, not just cherishing it, is the ultimate representation of all that is alienated in the modern world; the driving force of pathological greed; the whip that coerces wage labor; and the basis of wars. The current inequitable split of the planet’s wealth now allows ten million millionaires world-wide to control $37.2 trillion dollars in financial assets assuring a life of immiseration for billions of people.


H. Read
Green Scare Continues More arrests and harsh sentences for planet defenders. Fifth Estate writer indicted!


Developments in what is being called the “Green Scare” continue at a fast pace as the government increases its attack on forest, animal, and earth defenders.

Four environmental campaigners from Detroit including a Fifth Estate writer were arrested in March for eco-sabotage. Other activists around the country were subjected to the heavy hand of justice with harsh sentences and arbitrary acts. The possibilities of more arrests and indictments are on the horizon.


Marie Mason
My Green Scare Arrest Or, why does it take 30 cops to arrest one person? Couldn’t be anything about creating public hysteria against forest defenders, could it?

Up until March 10, I lived in a small, wooded, old neighborhood on the edge of Northside in Cincinnati.

That morning, I left the house with just enough time to get to my job while my 16-year-old daughter, Arianna, was asleep in her room. I drove to the end of my block and was startled to see an SUV come around the corner and stop directly in front of my car, blocking my way.


RNC Welcoming Committee
RNC: Shut It Down! Welcoming the Republicans to the Twin Cities

The 2008 Republican National Convention (RNC) will descend on Minneapolis-St. Paul, September 1 through 4, as the opening act in the pacifying spectacle of the coming presidential election. The most direct way to oppose a dog-and-pony show is just to stop it.


This convention of the rich, the white, and the conservative, is a self-congratulatory event intended as the opening shot in the attempt to convince the hapless voter that John McSame represents patriotism, experience, and “our” values, rather than war, empire, economic royalism, and the rest of the miserabilism known as America. Stopping the convention won’t stop the election, but it will disrupt their spectacle and prove that we have the power to shape our own communities and future.


Walker Lane (Peter Werbe)
An Anarchist in Cuba Socialism or Cell Phones

On February 2, I stepped off a plane that had left a frigid Toronto three and a half hours earlier and landed in the balmy sunshine of Holguin, Cuba. It was impossible to know then that I had arrived two weeks before the end of the island’s Revolution as we know it.

Santiago de Cuba, the southern city hailed as the home of the Revolution, the Moncada Barracks, where Castro and 125 men attacked on July 26, 1953. A guide explained the battle, Castro’s strategy, and showed where the fighting occurred, some of it in the foreground. Castro was captured, as were many of his men, some of whom were tortured and summarily executed. The building is now a school.


Dave Hanson
Shamanism, anarchy and the end of the world

After twenty years of teaching shamanic practices to small groups in several circles in Washington and California, I found the results to be mixed. In the groups in which I participated, there were many moving visionary experiences, but the flabby jargon of the human potential movement left important messages missed amid incessant psychobabble.


Joshua Sperber
Tarot Cards and The Left How prognostications of doom encourage passivity rather than action

There is a near cottage industry of leftists penning engaging, sometimes lurid, always vivid, prognostications of impending social, political, economic, and ecological doom.


Websites like Counterpunch and Common Dreams, for instance, have been prophesying for several years that a war on Iran is imminent due to the fact that, alternately, a US destroyer moves to the region (2006), oil prices rise (2007), an admiral retires (2008), or, the ubiquitous favorite, the Bush Administration is simply insane. Each one of these omens indicates there will assuredly be war, maybe tomorrow.


Daniel Pinchbeck
The End of Money The current economic crisis may be another bump on capitalism’s always dizzying terrain, or it may signal epochal changes

The crisis of the financial markets has taken on gargantuan proportions.

This spring saw the emergency sale of Bear Stearns, the fifth-largest financial institution on Wall Street, to JP Morgan for a paltry sum by “Master of the Universe” standards, including its flashy corporate headquarters and thousands of employees. Even this sale only came about because the US Federal Reserve agreed to cover the risks of exposure to creditors, pushing the financial costs onto US taxpayers. Despite this bailout and other interventions in the supposed “free market,” the financial system is still reeling. Credit liquidity has disappeared, causing shockwaves in student loans and other areas.


Peter Lamborn Wilson
An Army of Jacks to Fight The Power

In fairy tales, humans can possess exterior souls, things magically containing or embodying individual life force--stone, egg, ring, bird or animal, etc. If the thing is destroyed, the human dies. But while the thing persists, the human enjoys a kind of immortality or at least invulnerability.

Money could be seen as such an exteriorized soul. Humans created it, in some sense, in order to hide their souls in things that could be locked away (in tower or cave) and hidden so their bodies would acquire magical invulnerability--wealth, health, the victoriousness of enjoyment, power over enemies--even over fate.


Fifth Estate Collective
Call for submissions for next issue Get Ready to Play!

Play as a concept has always animated the anarchist/underground milieu with an infectious spirit of playful experimentation and exuberance. Riding wild and playful energy, we created seeds of an insurrectionary alternative reality that could one day replace or overthrow the dominant system. Physical, political, ideological, and imaginal spaces seemed open to us.


Don LaCoss
Counterfeiting Sovereignty Why the State jealously guards its currency

“Counterfeit coin is said to prove the existence of genuine--the terms being purely relative. But because there can be no counterfeit where there is no original, does it in any manner follow that any undemonstrated original exists? In seeing a spurious coin, we know it to be such by comparison with coins admitted to be genuine; but were no coin admitted to be genuine, how should we establish the counterfeit, and what right should we have to talk of counterfeits at all?


E.B. Maple (Peter Werbe)
Isn’t All Money Fake?

a review of

Counterfeit Currency: How To Really Make Money, M. Thomas Collins. Loompanics Unlimited, 1990 (out-of-print). Reprint from Fifth Estate, Fall, 1991.

Money is a fairly curious substance. Its official function is to represent value, but once said, you can immediately challenge all the assumptions inherent in such a formulation: Value; its representation? Since value itself is a representation of abstract worth, money operates within economies as a representation of a representation. No wonder its properties seem so inscrutable.


Val Salvo (Peter Werbe
Wealth and Poverty: In the Shadow of an Exclusive Club Fifth Estate reprint, Summer 1991

Expensive new cars--Lincolns, Cadillacs, Mercedes, Jaguars--arrive at the entrance to the Detroit Athletic Club (DAC). Rich, white men dressed in $750 suits, $200 wing-tip shoes, custom tailored shirts, sporting $2,000 Rolex watches are greeted brightly but obsequiously by uniformed black attendants.


Fifth Estate Collective
Call for submissions for Winter 2009 FE Subtext, Subversion and Sabotage

This winter, the Fifth Estate seeks to publish good reading for winter hibernation. Work that focuses on underground political, cultural, and social activity, as well as subtextual analysis. We seek discussion on how radicals and everyday people subvert the dominant culture in a meaningful way.

We seek analysis on the unspoken meanings of current social, economic, semiotic, and political phenomena such as entertainment, gender, institutionalized violence, the environmental crisis, the Green Scare, bio-ethical decisions or anything you can fit into the theme. We seek to examine the parts we play in subjection and subjugation. This winter we seek to exhume the churchyard and provide readers with an invisible choir that will sing audibly and precisely about the true meanings of things.


Cara Hoffman
Down and Out in Athens Excerpt from Nike by Cara Hoffman

Set in the red light district of Athens, Greece in the late 1980s, Cara Hoffman’s cult classic novel, Nike, is about getting by at the periphery. It chronicles the lives of a group of young expatriates from a global culture of war.

In this scene Maya Brennan, who has been raised on military bases throughout the US, and has sold her passport to finance her travels, uses the cultural capital of her upbringing to get the document re-issued. NIKE reveals a world where freelance military contractors, small-time traffickers, and refugees from the superficial materialism of the Reagan/Bush era surf undetected on the crest of a wave that was about to break in an era of perpetual military engagement.


Fifth Estate Collective
Strike! In the spirit of Eugene V. Debs


Eugene V. Debs,

an American Beowulf, who was like both a

sacred covenant rainbow

for all the blue proletariat

and a

powerful electromagnetic storm

and struck fiercely against the

industrial money monsters who

were mute,

blind, stark and cold

to all colors of tears and as

brutal, bloodthirsty and beastly


Jacques Camatte
We are all slaves of capital Excerpt from The Wandering of Humanity

This fragment is from Jacques Camatte’s pamphlet translated in 1975 in Detroit by Fredy Perlman. It was a key text in developing Fifth Estate concepts during the 1970s and 80s, ones which remain today. It speaks of capital and technology that has “run away” from its initiators and domesticated humans. It is available at blackandred.org


Jim Feast
The African Road to Anarchism? Will the collapse of government rule in countries like The Gambia lead to... The African Road to Anarchism?

My experiences on a recent trip to The Gambia on Africa’s west-central coast, brought to mind the historic leftist dream that the state will wither away once workers have overturned capitalism.

Here’s an irony of history. In the last 15 years, in the industrially undeveloped world, the state has withered away, not because of its supersession, but due to the extension of global capitalism. Talk of state collapse on capital’s periphery doesn’t mean governments have completely vanished, but that many states have diminished from being the totalized agencies of control we experience in Northern tier countries.


Cookie Orlando
Shoplifting and the Politics of Instant Gratification Are individual acts of transgression rebellion?

Lots of anarchists and other radicals shoplift on a regular basis. But the public discussion on the topic seems to oscillate between celebration and denunciation, with almost nothing in between.

On one side you’ve got CrimethInc and Yomango saying shoplifting is authentic resistance. As an anonymous author wrote in CrimethInc’s Days of War, Nights of Love, shoplifting is “the most effective protest” against the worst features of modern capitalism “because it is not merely theoretical--it is practical, it involves action.” Yomango is a European shoplifting community founded in Spain in 2002, whose name in Spanish translates to, “I steal.”


Sean Flynn
Getting Off Easy Men & Pornography!

a review of

Getting Off: Pornography and the End of Masculinity, Robert Jensen, South End Press, 2007, 197 pages

It is hard to read Robert Jensen’s Getting Off without getting drawn into an internal debate about power and desire and without feeling that there is a greater economic issue that the author, a journalism prof at the University of Texas at Austin, has left essentially untouched.


Cara Hoffman
Victorian Proto-punk, Riot Grrls The Literary Legacy of Helen and Olivia Rossetti

In 1903, two young sisters, Helen and Olivia Rossetti, published a novel under the pseudonym Isabel Meredith, chronicling their lives as radicals, propagandists, and key figures in the European anarchist movement of that era. Prior to that, while still in their teens, they edited The Torch--An International Newspaper of Communist Anarchism, from 1891 to 1896, which scandalously called for sexual equality, the destruction of religion, and the end of state rule by violent means.


Don LaCoss
The Car Bomb Poor Man’s F-16

reviewed in this article

Buda’s Wagon: A Brief History of the Car Bomb, by Mike Davis, 2007, Verso, 228 pp., $22.95

Mike Davis argues forcibly that the “vehicle-borne improvised explosive device” (in Pentagon parlance) is a weapon of mass destruction. Keying in on the terrible effectiveness of this weapon (“an inconspicuous vehicle, anonymous in almost any urban setting, to transport large quantities of high explosive into precise range of a high-value target”), Davis underscores the inevitability of its proliferation as globalized capitalism industrially overdevelops every corner of the world, “like a kudzu vine of destruction taking root in the thousand fissures of ethnic and religious enmity that globalization has paradoxically revealed.”


Anu Bonobo
CrimethInc’s Overflowing Cup of Anarchist Elixir A Review/Essay

reviewed in this article:

Expect Resistance: a field manual, CrimethInc., $8, CrimethInc.com

Rolling Thunder: an anarchist journal of dangerous living; P.O. Box 494, Chapel Hill NC 27514; rollingthunder — at — CrimethInc — dot — com

Why is the CrimethInc. Ex-Workers Collective (CWC ) the crew that the workerists love to hate? The rigidly anti-lifestyle critique leveled at-these so-called “arrogant middle-class kids” has become so commonplace that it’s as much a caricature of itself as it is an unsophisticated slag at these prolific publishers of beautifully-crafted anarchist propaganda.


Obituary for Dr. Albert Hofmann LSD’s Innovator Dies at 102


When I was first asked to write an obituary in the Fifth Estate for Dr. Albert Hofmann, who passed away on April 29, I felt conflicted. I was not wrestling with how to reconcile his contributions to neurochemistry and the politics of liberation; these seemed self-evident.

Rather, the question was how to write objectively about the father of LSD without talking about my personal relationship to the worlds he opened for me and millions of others.


Anu Bonobo
Remembering Hanon Reznikov (1950–2008) The Living Theatre loses a mainstay

Judith Melina and Hanon Reznikov

Because art breathes on in the legacy left with the living, death cannot defeat an artist. In this eternity of the permanent present, poems and plays and songs resist the tyranny of death. While this recognition hardly dulls the sting of mortality in the hearts of the bereaved when we lose a loved one, its message rings clearly today as we celebrate the life of the late Hanon Reznikov.


Fifth Estate Collective
Utah Phillips (1935–2008)

Utah Phillips at IWW Centenary, 2005, Chicago. On ends, folk singers Len Wallace and Charlie King; to Utah’s right, Federico Arcos.

The IWW and the labor movement lose a troubadour Utah Phillips, a seminal figure in American folk music, who performed tirelessly on two continents for 38 years, died May 23 of congestive heart failure in Nevada City, California, a small town in the Sierra Nevada mountains where he lived for the last 21 years with his wife, Joanna Robinson, a freelance editor. Phillips died at home, in bed, in his sleep, next to his wife.


Fifth Estate Collective
Utah Phillips’s Last Interview

The following is a portion of a transcript of a May 7 interview with Utah Phillips conducted by long-time Fifth Estate contributor, Peter Werbe. It aired on his May 11 Detroit radio show in part to provide publicity for a benefit concert for Utah held in Ann Arbor. It is available as a podcast at wrif.compodcastnightcall for the show on that date. It follows the first two hours of phone-in talk.


H. Read
Periodical Round-Up

Send your publication for review.

Anchorage Anarchy # 11 December 2007, $1 from BAD Press, PO Box 230332, Anchorage AK 99523 bbrigade (at) world (dot) std (dot) com

Individualist anarchist periodical from Alaska. (12 pp)

Black Flag #226, BM Hurricane London, WC1N 3XX UK black_flag (at) lycos (dot) co (dot) uk


Bernard Marszalek
The ‘60s, 40 Years Later No Chicago in Denver

Forty years ago, like today, the country found itself in an unpopular war of imperial domination to vanquish, not “Islamo-Fascism,” but Communism. And, like then, the political system was thoroughly corrupt and in the hands of a cabal of stooges with nightmarish plans.

Like so many others, when an election year rolls around and party politics rules the “news” with its loathsome trivia and journalistic manipulations, I long for refuge in an idyllic retreat deep in a forest far away from all media. But that isn’t an option for me, nor, I suspect for most people.


Fifth Estate Collective
Organizing for Anarchism in Ireland Fifth Estate Interview

The Fifth Estate sat down with Andrew Flood from the Workers Solidarity Movement (WSM), an Irish anarchist group, who was on a 43 city speaking tour of North America. Walker Lane conducted the interview April 16 at the Baile Corcaigh Irish Pub in Detroit’s Corktown district.

The talk Andrew gave later in the evening described the group’s involvement in anti-war and abortion rights organizing, opposition to a gas pipeline, and participation in community based movements. Descriptions of these struggles and more information are at their web site, www.wsm.ie