Fredy Perlman
Anti-Semitism and the Beirut Pogrom

Escape from death in a gas chamber or a Pogrom, or incarceration in a concentration camp, may give a thoughtful and capable writer, Solzhenitsyn for example, profound insights into many of the central elements of contemporary existence, but such an experience does not, in itself, make Solzhenitsyn a thinker, a writer, or even a critic of concentration camps; it does not, in itself, confer any special powers. In another person the experience might lie dormant as a potentiality, or remain forever meaningless, or it might contribute to making the person an ogre. In short, the experience is an indelible part of the individual’s past but it does not determine his future; the individual is free to choose his future; he is even free to choose to abolish his freedom, in which case he chooses in bad faith and is a Salaud (J.P. Sartre’s precise philosophical term for a person who makes such a choice). [1]

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Fredy Perlman
Against Leviathan Community vs. the State

This article, which began as a review of Frederick Turner’s inspiring work of intuitive history, Beyond Geography: The Western Spirit Against the Wilderness, is now the introductory section of a book in progress treating similar and related questions—the origins of the state, the destruction of myth-centered, communitarian, free societies by authoritarian machines and economic social relations, the varied forms of resistance to and flight from the state, and other seminal and provocative problems.

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Fredy Perlman
The Continuing Appeal of Nationalism

Nationalism was proclaimed dead several times during the present century:

—after the first world war, when the last empires of Europe, the Austrian and the Turkish, were broken up into self-determined nations, and no deprived nationalists remained, except the Zionists;

—after the Bolshevik coup d’etat, when it was said that the bourgeoisie’s struggles for self-determination were henceforth superseded by struggles of workingmen, who had no country;

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Fifth Estate Collective
Fredy Perlman

The Machine against the Garden 2 Essays by Fredy Perlman

Critiques of economic development, material progress, technology and industry are not a discovery of the Fifth Estate. Human beings resisted the incursions from the earliest days, and many of North America’s best-known 19th century writers, among them Melville, Hawthorn and Thoreau, were profound critics of the technological society. Since these writers became “classics of American literature,” and therefore available to all interested readers, defenders of official views have had to carry on a “cold war” against them. The most powerful weapon has been the classroom assignment; most students attacked by this weapon never again cracked a book by a “classic.” Other ways of “conquering and pacifying” the classics have been more subtle: the authors were maligned, the works were misinterpreted, the critiques were diverted and at times inverted.

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Fredy Perlman
To The New York Review of B

See also: “The Machine against the Garden” (author’s introduction) in this issue, FE #321, Indian Summer, 1985.

Web archive note: Numbers in the text are related to references at the end. They are not errors in numbering endnotes.

While skimming through a recent issue of your magazine, I came across a caricature of a man baring his chest and exposing a letter stamped or branded on it. I supposed that the mark was intended to be a scarlet letter, even though the cartoon was black and white. I learned that the branded man in the cartoon was supposed to be Nathaniel Hawthorne, author of an unforgettable exposure of bigots who branded human beings with scarlet letters.

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Fredy Perlman
On the Machine in the Garden

See also: “The Machine against the Garden” (author’s introduction) in this issue, FE #321, Indian Summer, 1985.

Your comments as well as the urgings of other friends stimulated me to read Leo Marx’s book The Machine in the Garden. I quickly recognized the reviewer of Hawthorne’s Secret and also the author of the Foreword to my Signet Classic edition of Hawthorne’s superb novel. But I do not regret reading the book. The central themes of Leo Marx’s book have for several years been among my main concerns, and the book’s range as well as the profundity of many of its observations impressed, provoked and disturbed me.

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Fredy Perlman
Roger Gregoire

Worker-Student Action Committees (excerpt) May/June 1968

FE Note: What follows are thoughts on the revolutionary upsurge which shook France 20 years ago. Although ultimately unsuccessful, the message is that revolt is possible in modern society. In ours today, it is not the cops which prevent revolt, but the inertia of what is--the weight of the present.

The introductory section is from the fine new magazine, No Picnic, Spring 1988, Box 69393, Stn. K, Vancouver BC, Canada V5K 4W6; $1.50 per issue. The piece from Fredy Perlman, written from a participant’s viewpoint, appeared in Worker-Student Action Committees, co-authored by R. Gregoire, 1968, $2 from FE Books. The excerpt from Jacques Camatte appeared originally in FE #295, November 3, 1978 and is available at $1. Also recommended is Paris: May 1968, by Solidarity, available from FE Books for $3.

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Fredy Perlman
Speaking to the Beast an excerpt from Against His-story, Against Leviathan

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Richard Mock: Anthropology Gone Bad

Who, then, is the wrecker of the Biosphere? Turner points at the Western Spirit. This is the hero who pits himself against the Wilderness, who calls for a war of extermination by Spirit against Nature, Soul against Body, Technology against the Biosphere, Civilization against Mother Earth, god against all.

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Fredy Perlman
The Continuing Appeal of Nationalism (excerpt) reprint from FE #319 Winter 1985

Every oppressed population can become a nation, a photographic negative of the oppressor nation, a place where the former packer is the supermarket’s manager, where the former security guard is the chief of police. By applying the correct strategy, every security guard can follow the precedent of ancient Rome’s Praetorian guards.

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Fredy Perlman
The Continuing Appeal of Nationalism

Industrialized nations have procured their preliminary capital by expropriating, deporting, persecuting and segregating, if not always by exterminating, people designated as legitimate prey. Kinships were broken, environments were destroyed, cultural orientations and ways were extirpated.

Descendants of survivors of such onslaughts are lucky if they preserve the merest relics, the most fleeting shadows of their ancestors’ cultures. Many of the descendants do not retain even shadows; they are totally depleted; they go to work; they further enlarge the apparatus that destroyed their ancestors’ culture. And in the world of work they are relegated to the margins, to the most unpleasant and least highly paid jobs. This makes them mad. A supermarket packer, for example, may know more about the stocks and the ordering than the manager, may know that racism is the only reason he is not manager and the manager not a packer. A security guard may know racism is the only reason he’s not chief of police. It is among people who have lost all their roots, who dream themselves supermarket managers and chiefs of police, that the national liberation front takes root; this is where the leader and general staff are formed.

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