George Bradford (David Watson)
Marxism, Anarchism and the Roots of the New Totalitarianism

“Subjection of nature’s forces to man, machinery, application of chemistry to industry and agriculture, steam navigation, railways, electric telegraphs, clearing of whole continents for cultivation, canalization of rivers, whole populations conjured out of the ground—what earlier century had even a presentiment that such productive forces slumbered in the lap of social labor?”

—Marx and Engels, The Communist Manifesto

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George Bradford (David Watson)
The Fifth Estate Meets the All People’s Congress Or What’s a Nice Newspaper Like You Doing at a Congress Like This?

A couple of us went downtown to Cobo Hall on a cold Friday night to check out the rally to “overturn the Reagan program” and to pass out a few copies of the last issue to the curious. The rally was being staged by the “All Peoples Congress” all-weekend convention, a left-liberal amalgam; everyone from Dykes Against Racism Everywhere to trade unionists, feminists, Democratic Party hacks looking for a constituency, and leninists looking for cannon fodder. The posters had been all over the city since summer, free bus rides were being offered every fifteen minutes or so from various welfare and unemployment offices, Gil Scott Heron was supposed to perform on Saturday night for a benefit—it had all the makings of a slick, combination carnival and revival meeting. The revival, that is, of the Popular Front to Fight “Reaganism,” led by liberal politicians and trade union bureaucrats and staffed by the minions of the leninist parties looking for a piece of the action. But we had a lot of extra papers lying around turning yellow, and we were starting work on another issue, so we decided to potlatch them out of here and hand them out to the folks who might have taken the free bus ride to go somewhere where it was warm, and to perhaps shake up the true believers with some blasts against civilization.

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E. B. Maple (Peter Werbe)
George Bradford (David Watson)

FE & the Anti-nuke War Movement Where we’ve been

Contrary to the impression the accompanying photo may give, we have not been lying down on the job. Rather, since our last issue we have been quite heavily involved in holding several anti-nuclear war conferences (including the one announced in our January 19 issue), as well as various anti-war, anti-draft activities, and on-going discussions concerning our activities and our relationship to the momentum against nuclear war now taking shape throughout the country.

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George Bradford (David Watson)
The Nuclear Freeze Why we didn’t sign your petition

The rapidity with which a movement against nuclear weapons and war has blossomed has been as surprising to us as it has been to everyone else. There can be no doubt that the possibility of nuclear holocaust, and the understandable concern if not out-and-out terror which accompanies it, is one of the foremost questions on people’s minds today. The upsurge began in Europe and quickly spread to the United States. Conferences and convocations; demonstrations (20,000 in Chicago, 30,000 in Vancouver, 12,000 in Seattle to name just a few); the repudiation of civil defense plans in towns and cities throughout the U.S.; the growth of peace and disarmament organizations; and the storm of books and articles on the subject have all revealed a pervasive urgency and a growing sense of horror and resistance to the Reagan administration’s recent talk of “limited” and “winnable “ nuclear war, demonstration shots, and “first strike” capability.

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George Bradford (David Watson)
War without end A response on the Freeze

In response to “Readers dispute FE on Nuclear Freeze issue,” FE #310, Fall, 1982 (this issue).

On one point we all seem to be in agreement: the campaign for a nuclear freeze is not enough. So, I find it perplexing that rather than considering its inadequacies as a basis for investigating ways of moving rapidly beyond it (since we also apparently agree that time is very limited), our critics reiterate all of its conventional arguments. None of the specifics of our analysis are discussed. Instead, the Freeze is presented as the embodiment of the movement against nuclear weapons and war, rather than a single tactical approach among many possible ways to create an opposition.

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George Bradford (David Watson)
Norman Mayer and the Missile X Who is Sane? Who is Mad?

Norman Mayer tried to stop the Missile X and failed. On the morning of December 8 the 66-year-old Miami man drove his van up to the Washington Monument, threatening to blow up the structure with 1,000 pounds of dynamite. Not interested in taking human lives, he insisted that nine people inside be evacuated. Perhaps he could have toppled that ugly stone spire resembling a hooded Ku Klux Klansman, or even broken a few windows in the White House. (In fact, a White House luncheon attended by President Reagan was moved to a room facing away from the monument grounds.) But no bombs were exploded and no White House windows broken.

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George Bradford (David Watson)
N. Bates

Symbolic Protest & The Nuclear State Two articles

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While pacifists engage in symbolic acts of protest against militarism, the militarists engage in a bit of symbolism of their own. Top: moral witness at Williams International, where cruise missile engines are manufactured. Bottom: U.S. troops practice mass burial techniques during NATO maneuvers in West Germany last autumn. The articles appearing on this page were written by two people who took part in the Williams protests. The first article is signed by N. Bates, the pseudonym of a person who was arrested at Williams for civil disobedience, and who now faces multiple charges stemming from the action.

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George Bradford (David Watson)
Some Words on The Word A response

In response to John Zerzan, “Language: Origin & Meaning” FE #315, Winter 1984.

Despite his acute desire to break with all of the fictions of the modern world, John Zerzan makes the unfortunate mistake of taking its ideological justifications at their (false) face value; thus, the radical refusal which he posits tends to be an almost formalistic, inverted image of the society which he analyzes. There are no gray areas, no ambivalence in his critique, only absolutes. But these absolutes come ready-made, provided by modern civilization’s legitimation of its existence.

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George Bradford (David Watson)
A System of Domination—Technology George Bradford responds

In response to a letter from Jeffrey Vega, Tech Examined FE #315, Winter 1984.

Is it too much to ask that our critics take the time to read at least some of the voluminous material on the technology question rather than simply repeating the “well-worn” platitudes familiar to us all? In this case Jeffrey Vega would like to resolve a complex problem with a simple sleight-of-hand: look up the word in the dictionary and in such a way close the discussion by sanctioning the commonplaces which serve to mystify technology. Since his dictionary refers to “machines—not a system of domination,” there seems to be nothing to worry about; it must all be a neutral, passive machine or tool ready to be used in any way we desire.

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George Bradford (David Watson)
1984: Worse Than Expected?

1. Slavery Is Freedom. How technology makes use of our own natural anxieties about it to promote its power over us.

During America’s most highly watched television spectacle, the Super Bowl, viewers in ten major television markets were shown an advertisement from Apple Computer Corporation on the theme of George Orwell’s 1984. In the ad, the face of Big Brother speaks from a giant telescreen to a hall full of automatons (young people with fashionably shaven heads recruited for the role). Suddenly, a young woman runs into the room and hurls a sledgehammer through the screen, shattering it. A message follows, declaring a new model computer the machine which will ensure that the year 1984 cannot be come the nightmare world of Orwell’s novel.

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George Bradford (David Watson)
Domestication of Language Ivan Illich on Verbal Abuse

a review of

Shadow Work, Ivan Illich. Marion Boyers, Boston and London, 1981

“As progress and technology transform our way of life and our physical surroundings,” Lynne Clive writes [“Newspeak and the Impoverishment of Language,” FE #315, Winter, 1984], “they eat away at our language, enfeeble our spirit...” I would like to expand on this idea by making use of Ivan Illich’s insights discussed in his book Shadow Work, on language as one of the earliest areas of previous human competence—a cultural commons and focal point of shared meaning—to come under attack from church and state, and later from advancing technology and bureaucratic institutionalization. Illich argues that by undermining the “vernacular” domain in language, technics, and other areas of human activity, these forces of authority destroy self-sufficiency and freedom, making us all wards of the state and the disabling professional institutions.

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George Bradford (David Watson)
A “Culture-in-Action”

FE note: This is one of three responses to John Zerzan’s “The Case Against Art,” in FE #324, Fall 1986. The other two articles are: “Art, Life & Death” by Ratticus and “Journal Notes on Art” by George Bradford.

“Culture is dead. Create!”

—Paris graffito, 1968

“If I can’t dance, I don’t want to be part of your revolution.”

—Emma Goldman

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George Bradford (David Watson)
Journal Notes on Art

FE note: This is one of three responses to John Zerzan’s “The Case Against Art,” in FE #324, Fall 1986. The other two articles are: “A ‘Culture-in-Action’” by George Bradford and “Art, Life & Death” by Ratticus.

20 May: Art the enemy

Of course, while in Paris it is one’s duty to see the art and the many monuments. This is called “sightseeing.” You travel thousands of miles; peasants must be killed, perhaps, to get you there. Certainly whole estuaries have been fouled and species pushed over the critical edge toward extinction. But you cannot deny it: you are in Paris to see the sights and the sites. (Some sociologist has written a book describing tourism as paradigmatic of modernity. Without knowing the details of his argument, it is possible to agree that the rootlessness, the craving for authentic experience, and the pseudopraxis which is only another variant of commodity passivity, all of which characterize the modern traveler or tourist, do represent central elements in modern life. By criticizing it, we in no way escape its implications.)

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George Bradford (David Watson)
How Deep is Deep Ecology?

Introduction

For a number of years, the Fifth Estate has been writing about the crisis of Western civilization and its industrial/technological plague. At the same time we have been profoundly interested in primitivism and the cultures of earth-based peoples, realizing that their demise came with the subjugation of nature by the advances of the civilized world. The view that our planet faces a grave, man-made ecological threat is certainly not unique to us, and the last few years have seen the emergence of an international green or ecology phenomenon which demands an end to environmental abuse and seeks a reconciliation between humanity and nature.

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George Bradford (David Watson)
Bill McCormick
William R. Catton Jr.

Was Malthus Right? An Exchange on Deep Ecology and Population

George Bradford (David Watson)
Woman’s Freedom Key to the Population Question

a review of

Reproductive Rights and Wrongs by Betsy Hartmann, Harper & Row, New York, 1987; paper $10.95.

This impassioned enquiry is both important and timely. It is important because it synthesizes valuable research to reveal the interlocking connections between world population growth and the related questions of hunger, ecological devastation, political economy, human health and human rights. It is timely because it adds a much-needed dimension to the critique of the Maithusian orthodoxy that overpopulation is the underlying cause of hunger and that population control is the solution. It focuses on the social relations that underlie both the population explosion and the global strategies to confront it, and ties together the discussions of world ecological crisis, the contemporary battle over reproductive rights (including abortion), the question of population control And human rights in the Third World. Much of this is addressed in Lappe and Collins’ book Food First, but by exploring the area of population control, and women’s reproductive and total human rights, Hartmann adds much to the entire discussion.

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George Bradford (David Watson)
Return of the Son of Deep Ecology The Ethics of Permanent Crisis and the Permanent Crisis in Ethics

Introduction

The letter above [“Deep Ecology as Strategic Knowledge,” FE #331, Spring, 1989] was sent to the Fifth Estate last year in response to the essay I wrote, “How Deep Is Deep Ecology? A Challenge to Radical Environmentalism” (Fall 1987 FE). I had a brief correspondence with the author (who, interestingly, admitted to being an EF! man), and had planned to print his letter with several others from EF!ers (we eventually printed a selection of them in the Summer 1988 FE). The more I looked at “Miss Ann’s” (rather, Mr. Ann’s) letter, with its claims to an anti-technological, primitivist, even anarchist perspective, the more I realized its appropriateness as a starting point for my essay. However unkind one may judge me for using a relatively short letter as the focus for a long critical essay, I think the letter so representative of the entire range of problems with the deep ecology movement that I think the temptation is one worth following. If the form is strange, I can only hope that the ideas in the essay are important enough to overcome this problem. The form is in part a result of the shorthand manner in which deep ecologists tend to evade a genuinely critical dialogue. Deep ecology (DE) ideology appears to deflect criticism the way religious dogma does, by raising its voice over all others in defense of its intuitions and simply repeating its assertions (hallelujah and amen), as well as by conveniently misrepresenting the views of its critics.

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George Bradford (David Watson)
Cheerleaders for the Plague

In his letter, “Miss” Ann Thropy [this issue, FE #331, Spring, 1989] writes that it was his article celebrating AIDS that generated the criticisms of Earth First! and deep ecology. Even though his claim drastically simplifies the reasons for our critiques, it is undeniable that cheerleading epidemics is what earned him his notoriety. If his original AIDS article (“Population and AIDS,” Beltane 1987 EF! Journal) could have been dismissed as a sick joke, the same cannot be said about articles that have since appeared in the EF! Journal with a more developed, ostensibly scientific, argument. One in particular, “Is AIDS the Answer to an Environmentalist’s Prayer?” by Daniel Conner (Yule 1987 EF! Journal) describes the virus as a kind of Gaia’s revenge (Gaia being the name given the concept of a superorganism which is the entire Earth). Since population pressure “lies at the root of every environmental problem we face,” he argues, starting predictably from a Malthusian position, AIDS may be the answer to any “thoughtful” environmentalist’s prayer. If prayer is the key word in this argument, there is a reason; it borders on being pure religion.

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George Bradford (David Watson)
The Question of Agriculture

One irony of the deep ecology discussion is that almost at the same time that some deep ecologists were taking an explicit position for the abolition of agriculture as the prime cause of the widening spiral of civilization and ecological destruction, John Zerzan wrote an almost identical thesis in the pages of the Fifth Estate. (See “Agriculture: Essence of Civilization,” FE #329, Summer 1988.) For a response to Zerzan, see Bob Brubaker’s “Comments on Zerzan’s Critique of Agriculture” in FE #330, Winter 1988–89.)

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George Bradford (David Watson)
Revolution Against the Megamachine Stopping the Industrial Hydra

Staff note: George Bradford was a pseudonym used by name]fe_author&taxo[0][opt]&taxo[0][term]=david-watson][David Watson in these pages.

1. Autopsy of a Petrochemical Disaster

Remember the Exxon Valdez? The ship was the source of the worst oil spill to date in U.S. history, spilling eleven million gallons of oil in Alaska’s Prince William Sound, where it ran aground last March. By the time it had limped into San Diego Harbor in July, it also left at least one other oil slick some eighteen miles long off the California coast.

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E. B. Maple (Peter Werbe)
George Bradford (David Watson)
Lynne Clive (Marilynn Rashid)

Fifth Estate/Earth First! The Twain Meet in New Mexico

It already seems like a long time ago, but this past June three of us from the Fifth Estate staff headed out by train to New Mexico for our first Earth First! (EF!) Round River Rendezvous (RRR). This was the tenth annual RRR, which EF! describes as its yearly “tribal celebration.”

Needless to say, after the past couple of years of argument, discussion and heated exchange between Fifth Estate writers and people in EF! (see FE’s Fall 1987 through Spring 1989), we undertook the journey with excitement and a bit of trepidation. We were anxious to meet more of the faces behind the words, and though we had received warm invitations from several EF! individuals, we also received a few not so warm challenges to attend, and we weren’t sure we’d be welcomed by all.

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George Bradford (David Watson)
An Exemplary Life A Memoir of Fredy Perlman

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Fredy Perlman with the cover of Letters of Insurgents at Detroit’s Black and Red Print co-op, 1976

referred to in this article:

Having Little, Being Much: A Chronicle of Fredy Perlman’s Fifty Years, by Lorraine Perlman, Black & Red (Detroit, 1989), 155 pages, $3.50

I cannot say with any certainty what kind of response this perceptive, if rather abbreviated memoir would elicit from a person who did not know Fredy Perlman or his writings. It was written, clearly, for those familiar at least with his work, and they without a doubt will enjoy this glimpse of the man whose voice played such a large role in reviving libertarian traditions and articulating the critical primitivism that has profoundly transformed anti-authoritarian ideas during the last decade.

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George Bradford (David Watson)
War in Iraq Imperial Death Trip to Nowhere

The Empire, gorged and sclerotic from its daily gnawing on the marrow of the world, has now called up its armies and declared its “new world order.” Its commander-in-chief, a mediocrity in a civilization of hollow mediocrities, lays aside his golf club and announces a holy war to “defend the American way of life,” its basis in the sacred nectar of capital, the “lifeblood of industry and the Western economies,” oil. Hundreds of thousands of troops, with more on the way, now await their orders to advance to the conflagration. Or perhaps as you read these lines, the armies have already clashed, littering the sand with corpses and industrial junk.

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George Bradford (David Watson)
Swamp Rats & Urban Rats Unite!

a review of

Legend of the Great Dismal Maroons, Presented as a public service of the Grand Ludic Lodge, Ancient Scald Miserable Order, Great Dismal Maroons, celebrating 400 years of struggle for universal jubilation, 1589–1989, by James Koehnline. Panic Publishing, POB 1696, Skokie IL 60076–8696, USA. No price listed.

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E. B. Maple (Peter Werbe)
George Bradford (David Watson)

The War on the Poor Plenitude and Penury in Detroit

Capitalism is never good to all of its subjects. Regardless of its carefully honed mythology of democratic access to success and class mobility, capitalist society is a system of looting whereby a few at the top and a small substratum below them hog the vast majority of wealth.

Looting, the forcible extraction of wealth by a powerful minority from a defenseless or passive majority, is the keystone of capitalism and has been since its inception. This hemisphere was looted from its original inhabitants, its minerals, forests soil and animals looted to finance the empires of Europe. Slaves were looted from Africa to create the original capital accumulation and industrialization through slave labor. And through looting and exploitation of the poor and working classes of this country and the world, a colossal empire of capital has been established.

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George Bradford (David Watson)
The Triumph of Capital

INTRODUCTION

“Actually, as Winston well knew, it was only four years since Oceania had been at war with Eastasia and in alliance with Eurasia. But that was merely a piece of furtive knowledge which he happened to possess because his memory was not satisfactorily under control.”

—George Orwell, 1984

Although Orwell’s intent in writing 1984 was to shatter illusions held by stalinists and liberals about the Soviet Union, his book quickly became a metaphor for all modern bureaucratic societies, including the U.S.—and, with recent events in mind, perhaps especially the U.S.

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E. B. Maple (Peter Werbe)
George Bradford (David Watson)

Blood and Soil Ideologies Reprint

In our effort to bring readers important reprints from the FE archive, we offer the following excerpt from an article by George Bradford and E.B. Maple regarding the 1993 Palestine Liberation Organization/Israel peace agreement, “The PLO/Israeli Treaty: Another Defeat for the Palestinians.” This is the last section of the article.

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George Bradford (David Watson)
Symbolic Protest and the Nuclear State reprint from FE #314, Winter, 1984

Where, then, are the roots of revolt, how can the machine be halted?

A leaflet distributed recently by radicals in California to anti-nuclear protesters argues a point very similar to what we have written in the FE--that fear of being nuked is not enough, and that, “It is not only nukes that menace what is left of life, but the whole structure of modern society, beginning with the obsolescent machinery of work-to-pay-to-work which we call the ‘economy.’ Only a movement which taps into mass rage and desire by challenging this structure can hope to become strong enough to prevent the catastrophe.”

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George Bradford (David Watson)
1984: Worse Than Expected? reprint from FE #316, Summer, 1984

Somehow, the giant organizations which produce and disseminate all of this junk employ our very fear of technology to further its “unprecedented control” over our lives. The contemporary worship of this tremendous power arises from our actual powerlessness in the face of it, and the corporate-conjured image of our empowerment by technology corresponds directly to technology’s disabling suppression of human action. “Taking control with technology” adds up to our complete surrender to it--its taking control of us.

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George Bradford (David Watson)
Fredy Perlman: An Appreciation reprint from FE #321, October 1985

It is with great sorrow that we announce the passing of our friend and comrade, Fredy Perlman, who died while undergoing heart surgery in Detroit on July 26, 1985.

Radical means “at the root,” and such was the radical perspective of Fredy Perlman. As in theory, so in one’s practical activity, one’s life. The problem was to exercise one’s freedom appropriately to become a “masterless” human being, to overcome the split between thought and action.

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E. B. Maple (Peter Werbe)
George Bradford (David Watson)

Blood and Soil Ideologies Excerpt-Reprint

The following is an excerpt from an article commenting on the 1993 Palestine Liberation Organization/Israel peace agreement, “The PLO/Israeli Treaty: Another Defeat for the Palestinians,” from Fifth Estate #343, Fall/Winter 1993.

Eew realize that in the 45 years of Israeli existence, fewer than 700 Israeli civilians have been killed by Palestinian guerrillas. In the same period, Israel has slaughtered tens of thousands of Palestinian and Lebanese civilians (including scores of children whose “crime” was throwing stones), wiped out 400 villages, imprisoned thousands without trial, dynamited houses, cut down thousands of trees in orchards, and engaged in collective punishment in an attempt to terrorize the “natives” into submission.

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