Various Authors
Letters Our readers respond

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.

Anarchists Out There

I am really glad the FE has published and continues to publish articles that cover the experiences of people in various parts of the world that haven’t conformed neatly to the dominant narratives on the left or the right, or the cheerleaders of any government. As anarchists, these are the stories we need to know about, and often the people are the ones we want to be in solidarity with, when we know they are there!


Fifth Estate Collective
AnarchoShorts Sex Pistols credit card...Charges dropped against Subcommandante Marcos

Anarchy in the UK, the Sex Pistols, the athletic shoes...and the credit card!

Beginning in the late 1970s, punk as a form of rebellion, along with the do-it-yourself ethos, engaged many people with anarchist and anti-authoritarian ideas.

But, whatever happened to the Sex Pistols, one of the punk rock scene’s founding groups?


Fifth Estate Collective
No Borders Issue intro, Masthead

No Borders! is an easy slogan to put forth, but difficult to achieve since the modern world is constructed on them.

We put out the call in general to act as a challenge to what exists, and in our organizing, and, hopefully our lives, as consistent with our vision and as a model of the new world we want to bring into being.


Peter Werbe
[Cuba] The Train to Matanzas Cuba: A tsunami of tourism & foreign investment hits the island

On March 15, our last day in Cuba, my wife and I boarded the Hershey Electric Railway in Casablanca, across the harbor from Old Havana, for a 57-mile trip to the town of Matanzas. We were flying back to Toronto from the airport near that city the next morning after eight days on the island. The line was built a century ago by the U.S. candy manufacturer to bring sugar from the fields to Havana harbor, and is the only remaining train of what was once the most developed rail system in Latin America.


Raoul Vaneigem
Obscurantism is Always the Light Source for Power Raoul Vaneigem on the Charlie Hebdo massacre

Translator’s Introduction

Raoul Vaneigem, along with Guy Debord, was one of the principal theorists of the Situationist International. Active with the SI from 1961–1970, Vaneigem’s most well known book, The Revolution of Everyday Life, contains the slogans that frequently made it onto the walls of Paris during the May 1968 uprising.


The Elections Donald Trump & Wilhelm Reich

The anarchist avoidance of the electoral process began over a hundred years ago as a bulwark against the seduction of reformism, social democracy, and the like, when the possibility of revolution seemed imaginable. The new world, which anarchists carried in their hearts, seemed realizable then, and argued that a march to the polls forestalled one to the barricades.


John Clark
Happy Birthday, Utopia! (You Deserve a Present)

This year marks five-hundred years since the appearance of English social philosopher, author, statesman, and Renaissance humanist Thomas More’s famous Utopia. We might also consider that it is just over five-hundred years since the definitive anti-utopia, Machiavelli’s The Prince was published.

We might say that the entire modern age has been a struggle between utopia and anti-utopia. Even more, it is a struggle between utopia and the dystopia that is at the heart of the dominant utopia.


Fifth Estate Collective
No Borders! No walls between people. No walls in our heads.

Borders are authoritarian by their nature. Nation state borders are formed by men with weapons; those in our heads by fear and conditioning. Each creates suffering, and even death, as at the boundaries between the U.S. and Mexico, those demarking the European Union, and borders and other divisions in the Middle East. Borders protect states and the elites that rule them, not the rest of us.


Leila Al Shami
Challenging the Nation State in Syria

Syria’s current borders were drawn up by imperial map makers a hundred years ago in the midst of World War I as part of a secret accord between France and Britain to divide the Mideast spoils of the Turkish Ottoman Empire. As the colonial state gave way to the post-independence state, power was transferred from Western masters to local elites.


Ron Sakolsky
Defenders dedicated to the U’nis’tot’en Land defenders

Activist with the Unist’ot’en Clan of the Wet’suwet’en Nation in northwestern British Columbia protecting indigenous lands from oil and gas development. August 2015. (RedPowerMedia.WordPress.com)

Broken leather latch

time’s dispatch

an oil-stained suitcase


tar sands underwear

surrounded by

industrial overwear.

Over where?

Not over here

you bastards

not anywhere!


Chellis Glendinning
Linear Perspective, Fences & Nature’s Glory

Linear perspective is a way of seeing things. Things closer to us are large, it tells us; things farther away get smaller and smaller as they recede toward a singular dot in the distance. The vantage point, from slightly above the scene, is that of a “bird’s eye view”

Many Westerners accept this way of seeing as a complete description of reality. Let’s look again. As psychologist Robert Romanyshyn describes in Technology as Symptom and Dream, seeing creation with the mathematical precision of linear perspective means seeing it from a very particular stance-and one with grievous implications for human psychology and the Earth’s creatures: detachment.


Jane Clark
Claiming Freedom Against The State’s Artificial Crisis-Building In The U.S.
A Transwoman at TSA Security

Fifth Estate note: Modern civilization is experiencing a crisis in part related to the proliferation of borders and the surveillance required to enforce them. Jane Clark’s article, “Claiming Freedom,” describes in personal and poignant terms one example of the ongoing regularized surveillance, even extending to violation of bodily privacy, and the process of stigmatizing and isolating those who are seen as outside defined borders of categories of normalcy.


Tearing Down The Prisons A Vision of a Prison-less Future

Fifth Estate note: The following text was sent to us anonymously via email. It contained a section following what is here describing an intense prison rebellion at an unnamed institution and without a date of its occurrence.

Although the uprising report was exciting, we had no way to check its authenticity, plus we knew its inclusion would guarantee that our prison subscribers would be denied this edition.


Dennis Fox
Border lines and Border Regions

As I wandered through Albania a few months ago, as unlikely a place as any during a six-month journey around the planet, a friend emailed a link to “Anarchist Traveling vs. Tourism.” *

The comments mostly reminded me that I’m not attempting an anarchist tour, whatever that might mean. I’m not looking constantly for political insurrection or utopian experimentation even though, inevitably, my anarchist lens focuses on signs of inequality and resistance, cops and soldiers, graffiti and posters (the circle-A, everywhere in Athens, is absent here in Oman).


Benjamin Olson
The Ideas & Desires of the DIY Bandits Life Jackets Are For Capitalists

Born in 2004 out of the industrial ruins of Shelton, Conn., 75 miles north of New York City, a shifting cast of individuals led by soft-spoken, anti-leader, Pepe Chapowski, released records, threw shows, bootlegged albums, sent merchandise and artwork to randomly chosen addresses, wrote letters to prisoners and friends, destroyed property, published articles and zines, built sculptures from garbage, held neighborhood meetings, booked tours, and scammed real estate owners, under the name DIY Bandits.


Reg Johanson
Teaching Migration, Detention, Camp How students learn about the refugee crisis

In The Figure of the Migrant, Thomas Nail asserts that “the twenty-first century will be the century of the migrant,” and the first years of the new century give ample evidence of this. From September to December 2015, events seemed to daily add themselves to the curriculum of the English course I was teaching on the literature, film, and visual art of migration, detention, and the camp, at Capilano University in North Vancouver BC, Coast Salish territory.


Jesús Sepúlveda
Waiting for the Barbarians Who are the real barbarians? The refugees or those who caused them to flee?

In August 2015, as refugees broke through a line of Macedonian police at the border between Greece and Macedonia going toward Western Europe, a phrase from the Greek poet Constantine Cavafy (1863–1933) came forcibly to mind: “the barbarians are coming today.” But as in Cavafy’s poem, it wasn’t clear who the barbarians really were in 2015.


El Habib Louai
Stoned on Ritualistic Bullshit

They shall all tell you, one by one, when you cross them, collectively

individually, in court lobbies or hotel lounges, in schools or inside

mosques. They shall tell you only what they shall tell you, in their

Abyssinian rhetoric of generational apology. They shall tell you the

same old bullshit they vomited before, and after the great flood of the


Jessamine O’Connor
Shopping List for My Newborn Girl






Blusher, Shadow

Liner; Stick-on lashes

Anti-perspirant; Perfume

Body spray, Deodorant; Facelift

Tummy tuck, Magic knickers;

Padded bra, Corset

Silicone implants;

Waxed legs

Shaved armpits

Plucked eyebrows

A Brazilian; Detox, Diet

Diet, Diet; Teeth whitening

Anal bleaching, Liposuction;

Colonic irrigation, Pedicure

Manicure; Laser hair removal;

Cosmetic gynecology


Bernard Marszalek
Beyond Automation 50 Years Later & The Rise of the Precariat

The effect of automation on employment was first brought to the public’s attention by a 1964 report, The Triple Revolution, issued by a California-based liberal think tank, the Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions.

The report asserted that technological developments were leading to almost unlimited productive capacity. But this was also reducing the number of manual jobs needed, increasing the level of skills needed for available jobs, and creating much more unemployment.


Wren Awry
Pétroleuses, Witches & Fairy Tales The Myth of Revolutionary Women as Arsonists

The Paris Commune

The Paris Commune, which lasted from March 18 to May 28, 1871, was an experiment in self-governance that is still inspiring today.

The Franco-Prussian war of 1870 saw the defeat of the French military by the more disciplined and technically better equipped Prussian military.

While the French government worked on negotiating the end to the war, many people living in Paris refused to surrender. Following a brutal four-month siege, they bravely took their fate into their own hands and declared Paris an independent Commune.


Review: Breaking Loose from the walls we create for ourselves


a review of

Breaking Loose: Mutual Acquiescence or Mutual Aid? by Ron Sakolsky. LBC Books, 95 pp., littleblackcart.com

Longtime Fifth Estate contributor Ron Sakolsky offers a short exploration of his concept of “mutual acquiescence.” For Sakolsky, the term seeks to understand how alienation and oppression are connected in everyday life, creating a “wall of domination” that prevents us from seeing another reality beyond the existent.


Fifth Estate Collective
Montreal’s International Anarchist Theatre Festival

“SMV: Social Media Virus” by A. Esmie Wright was one of the many plays presented at the 11th annual Montreal International Anarchist Theatre Festival (MIATF) May 17 and 18, 2016. It is the world’s only such event; a yearly, volunteer labor of love, presenting provocative, socially engaged, freedom-loving theatre from around the world at an affordable price. It adheres to the anarchist tradition of no government handouts or corporate sponsorship.


A. Esmie Wright
Social Media Virus SMV (play)


SEVEN: A young woman, mid-20s. Architect of the virus.

GEORGIA: A young woman, mid-20s. Friend of Seven.

CLEANER: Works for Seven.

CLEANER: Works for Seven.

SETTING: A window-less room with a desk and chair. Located in Washington DC.

TIME: Present. Seven is in a window-less room, monitoring activity on her computer. Her friend, a woman by the name of Georgia enters the room distraught.


Autonomy for robotic killers?

On the frontiers of what has been termed “moral autonomy,” a long-range anti-ship missile is being developed for the U.S. military by Lockheed Martin Corp. which can pick its own target and destroy it independent of human minders. A team at George Mason University is also developing large groups of small robots that can work together to carry out tasks (which could include killing individuals or groups of people) without the need for humans to undergo the stress of making decisions or intervening in any way. The Pentagon realists, along with their counterparts in other nation-states, welcome the ghastly robotic potential as delivering the much sought after shelter from all responsibility for crimes committed in the service of the preservation of the system they defend.

Marieke Bivar
Women’s bodies as capital Laurie Penny’s essays say women will gain power by saying, “No!” in all spheres

a review of

Meat Market: Female Flesh under Capitalism by Laurie Penny. Zero Books, 2011, 68 pp., $12.95

“Contemporary pseudo-feminism is all about the power of yes. Yes, we want shoes, orgasms and menial office work. Yes, we want chocolate, snuggles, and straight hair. Yes, we will do all the dirty little jobs nobody else wants to do, yes, we will mop and sweep and photocopy and do the shopping and plan the meals and organise the parties and wipe up all the shit and the dirt and grin and strip and perform and straighten our backs and smile and say yes, again yes, we will do it all.”

—from Meat Market


Ian Lovelace
Anarchism A generative force that gives birth to a new world

In one sense, anarchy is a desired end. In another, it’s an ever-present means, a universal tendency, a generative force that gives birth to new worlds.

In this latter sense, anarchy represents the ultimate achievement in human self-consciousness; the point at which we recognize—if only as a fleeting but transformative glimpse—that we are the artists who make and remake the human world of morality, social structure, and scientific theory.


Jason Rodgers
Future Tension What happened to the new century we were promised?

What happened to the future? The twenty-first century was supposed to be a new era; an age of liberty, love, and lucid life. The old world of misery was scheduled to be destroyed.

Instead, all we got is more slavery, hatred, and hyper-alienation.

Where are the dreamers? Why do we continue living on a prison planet? Why does it seem that it is each one of us alone against the universe?


Jim Feast
Anti-Anarchism The Denigration of Anarchism in High Art Fiction

We are all familiar with the ruthless stereotyping and blatant falsification of anarchism in the mass media employing out-dated, long exploded cliches such as that anarchists are solely interested in destruction, fueled by an infantile rage.

It was these stereotypes that were used, for example, in the 1880s to convict the Haymarket martyrs for a bombing they didn’t commit, and have been used repeatedly in U.S. literature to defame the most earnest opponents of capitalism and the state.


Fifth Estate Collective
Happy Birthday to the Unabomber? We don’t think so.

It is a mystery to us why a small number of anarchists and primitivists are attracted to Ted Kaczynski, the Unabomber, who carried out a murderous bombing campaign between 1978 and 1995 against targets representing technology. The homemade bombs he planted or mailed killed three people and injured 23. Although imprisoned for life since 1996, he continues to be cited as an influence by writers, and one group recently called for birthday cards to be sent to him.