Peter Werbe
“Get the big stuff”

“The chickens are coming home to roost”

—Malcolm X, Nov. 22, 1963

Malcolm was right, of course, and the chickens have come home so many ways since that grim day four years ago. Vietnam, Malcolm’s own death, riots across the country and now the biggest chicken of them all—the Detroit riot.

Detroit always does things up in a big way.

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Peter Werbe
Fifth Estate a-gassed

There is a Hebrew idiomatic expression, K’ninah Houra, which Joel Altus explained to me as sort of being equivalent to saying knock on wood after telling of some good fortune you have incurred and you want it not to change.

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I certainly should have said aloud K’ninah Houra after writing in our last issue that no harm had come to the Fifth Estate office, Mixed Media bookstore or Plum Street. For no sooner had our issue hit the streets than pellets were shot at the windows of Mixed Media causing total damage. The window was replaced with boards and a sign which read “Holy Smoke, Don’t shoot—It’s Love.” Proprietor Barry Kramer assured us business will continue as usual.

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Peter Werbe
Sexual Repression and Authoritarianism Control of Bodies equals Control of Minds

The juxtaposing of anti-sexual statements on this page by the Vatican and certain leftist leaders and groups is not meant as an exercise in cynicism, but rather to illustrate in graphic terms the role sexual repression plays within all authoritarian systems.

The Church, for example, is easily identifiable as a repressive institution. Its power to regulate moral conduct grew as did the centrality of its wealth and authority within the feudal system of the Middle Ages.

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Peter Werbe
Sex Economy Toward a Self-governing Character Structure

Coming to grips with the totality of Wilhelm Reich’s anti-authoritarian social psychology is beyond the scope of any short article. [1] Instead, this will be a brief summation of his notion of Sex-economy, which, along with Work-democracy constitute two of his major concepts.

To present Reich in such a manner means by necessity that many apparent inconsistencies in his work must be neglected. [2] To call oneself a Reichian (or a Marxist) means you raise insightful thought to the level of an ideology--a doctrine to be defended in all of its peculiarities.

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Peter Werbe
Marx: Good-Bye To All That

Inside the walled compound of a Buddhist monastery on the outskirts of Kyoto, Japan, the monks who reside there have created a meditation garden consisting of raked sand and about a dozen large stones. The stones are adroitly arranged so that no matter where one stands on the perimeter of the garden, at least one of the rocks is blocked from the sight of the viewer. The Zen wisdom behind this arrangement suggests that the world in all of its aspects is never completely knowable; that something always remains hidden.

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Peter Werbe
Hiroshima, First Shot of World War III

The barbarity of the nation-state since its emergence 8,000 years ago has only been limited in its intensity by a lack of the technological means needed to perpetrate horrors upon humanity. By the advent of World War II, science and industry, joined together in wedlock by Capital, achieved the breakthrough in destructive methodology and allowed a carnage of a staggering 30,000,000 dead.

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Peter Werbe
Back to the Stone Age? Gary Snyder asks, Poetry or Machines?

a review of

“The Politics of Ethnopoetics” in The Old Ways, Six Essays, Gary Snyder, City Lights Books, San Francisco, 40077 “(Reckoning roughly from the earliest cave paintings)”, 96 pp.

Ever since the dawn of industrial capitalism 200 years ago, a succession of philosophers, poets, social scientists, and mystics have written on the decline of the species since leaving “the state of nature” and entering the modern epoch. Hence, it could be charged, that there is little that is new in this book and much that has been heard from sources whose nostalgia for the days of yore is of a short lasting duration broken by a return to the middle-class life that spawns such ideas.

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Peter Werbe
Hiroshima: First Shot of World War III

Reprinted from FE #285, August 1977.

The barbarity of the nation-state since its emergence 8,000 years ago has only been limited in its intensity by a lack of the technological means needed to perpetrate horrors upon humanity. By the advent of World War II, science and industry, joined together in wedlock by Capital, achieved the breakthrough in destructive methodology and allowed a carnage of a staggering 30,000,000 dead.

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Peter Werbe
World-Wide Crisis Is The Recovery Really Here?

When an economic system produces 32 million unemployed in the industrialized nations, it would almost seem unnecessary to inveigh against its profound inadequacies. But several factors make it worthwhile to look at the present state of disarray in which world capitalism is currently mired.

Although some wag (either a queen, Marx or the Bible) once said that the poor have always been with us, most people know by now that this is a culture-bound observation and no more than a justification for the privilege of society’s wealthy. However, the saying is nonetheless true for the modern world.

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Peter Werbe
Noam Chomsky

Noam Chomsky “States are simply not moral agents.”

Noam Chomsky is a major figure in 20th Century linguistics although best known for his social and political criticism. He has taught at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology since 1955.

The following interview was conducted Oct. 31, 1993 by a Fifth Estate staff member who hosts a radio interview show on a Detroit station.

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Peter Werbe
R. Relievo (Rob Blurton)

Hiroshima, First Shot of World War III

Introduction by R. Relievo

As E.B. Maple points out in the following article (which first appeared in FE #285, August 1977), the atomic bombings of civilians by the American Army Air Corps at the end of World War II was not the knockout punch that convinced an intransigent Japan to suddenly change its strategy and surrender.

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Peter Werbe
History of the Fifth Estate Part I: The Early Years

“The Fifth Estate supports the cause of revolution everywhere.”

—FBI Report

In my estimation, the above twelve-word summary by the nation’s secret police serves adequately as an abbreviated history of this paper on the occasion of its 30th anniversary.

However, it will definitely not satisfy my friends and comrades on the FE staff who urged me on our 20th and 25th anniversaries to write a comprehensive account of the newspaper’s long existence as a radical publication.

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Peter Werbe
Will Success Spoil Chumbawamba? How does an anarchist band from Leeds deal with being international pop stars?

http://www.chumba.com/I arrived early at Clutch Cargo’s, once an imposing church, but now a trendy rock joint in yuppified downtown Pontiac, a gritty, predominantly black, industrial Detroit suburb. The occasion was a concert by Chumbawamba, the anarchist pop group from Leeds, England, which has achieved international acclaim for their catchy hit, “Tubthumping.”

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Peter Werbe
How I Stopped Recycling & Learned to Love It

Recycling is a classic case of co-optation.

The title of this article is somewhat misleading since I continue to recycle a portion of the waste produced daily by my household. What has changed is my previous diligence in making certain every scrap of what is recyclable winds up in my yellow curbside container.

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Peter Werbe
Love & Rage Implodes

Talk about going out, not with a bang, but a whimper. Love & Rage, the failed attempt at a continental anarchist federation, formally imploded earlier this year. So insignificant was their demise that we were unable to find out any of the sordid details surrounding the final collapse.

We do know that a faction led by L&R chief bureaucrat, Chris Day, has ditched anarchism for a more general leftist approach and has begun a new organization. Why is it that he and his cohorts only picked up the worst ideas about splits and factions from their original partners in L&R, the Revolutionary Socialist League? To be fair, it is ironic that ex-RSL members are the ones keeping true to anarchism, while the former anarchists have turned to organizational leftism. Now, they can have all the alliances they choose with authoritarians like the RCP without having to suffer the barbs of their libertarian critics.

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Peter Werbe
Profane Existence publishes last issue Crisis in the Anarchist Press?

We received word in mid-October that Minneapolis’ Profane Existence magazine was printing its last issue. The collective also announced cessation of their wholesale and mail order distribution, and record production operations.

Besides noting some financial difficulties, this prolific group, cited being “overwhelmed,” “we have no personal lives,” and “the pay sucks.” In other words, terminal burn-out after a decade of what they define as “a very all-consuming undertaking.”

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Peter Werbe
Chris Clark

A Speed bump in the road? “We are always facing Armageddon”

The following interview with Chris Clark, editor of the Earth Island Journal, publication of Earth Island Institute, was taped the week of January 18. I chose Clark to interview since he and his organization seem sensible in their theoretical and activist approach to defense of the environment. This may appear as an endorsement to some and a condemnation to others.

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Peter Werbe
Y2K: Will it all fall apart?

Previous to this era, opponents of capitalism, particularly marxists, but also anarchists, saw the internal contradictions inherent in the political economy as the basis of the system’s overthrow; the working class was to be the agency of revolution. Other marxist theorists postulated that resistance to imperialist domination and colonial oppression, or a revolutionary peasantry, could carry out this task.

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Peter Werbe
The Toll of U.S. Sanctions A First-Hand Account

Rudy Simons, a 71-year-old social justice activist, was one of 13 people from Metro Detroiters Against Sanctions who visited Iraq in December 1999 to witness first-hand the effects of U.S. policies on the civilian population. Fifth Estate staff member Peter Werbe interviewed Simons soon after his return. A section of it follows.

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Peter Werbe
Paul Preston

In 1936 Spain A New World Was Possible

Discussed in this article:

The CNT in the Spanish Revolution, Vol. 1, by José Peirats, translated by Paul Sharkey, edited by Chris Ealham, 348 pp., (24 pp. photographs). The Meltzer Press, P.O. Box 35, Hastings, East Sussex TN34 2UX, England, 2001 WIB ph. Also available through AK Press and Left Bank Books in North America.

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Peter Werbe
Dancing for Our Lives An Introduction to Paul Halmos

The following essay [“The Decline of the Choral Dance,” FE #361, Summer 2003] couldn’t have entered my consciousness at a better time. It was 1962, and I had spent my late teens and early twenties reading intensely in an attempt to discover the fundamental qualities of existence.

Reality seemed pretty bleak. Rigid conformity, compulsory patriotism, fear of atomic annihilation, and a cultural wasteland of had movies and boring music predominated in 1950s mainstream society.

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Peter Werbe
A New World in Our Hearts Book review

a review of

A New World in Our Hearts: Eight Years of Writing from the Love and Rage Revolutionary Anarchist Federation, edited by Roy San Filipo. AK Press, 2003, San Francisco, 139pp.

Letters to a Young Activist, Todd Gitlin, Basic Books, 2003, 174 pages

I haven’t read either of the books listed above and have no intention of doing so. I’m reviewing them in the manner all of us do each time we peruse a library or bookstore shelf. “Hmm, that looks interesting; no, that probably will be boring,” etc.

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Peter Werbe
History of the Fifth Estate: The Early Years

This article was originally written for our 30th anniversary edition which appeared in 1996. It has been updated and expanded for this issue.

“The Fifth Estate supports the cause of revolution everywhere.”

-- FBI Report

This nine-word summary by the nation’s secret police, I suspect, serves adequately as an abbreviated history of this paper on the occasion of its 40th anniversary. It is not due to an inflated sense of self-importance or radical nostalgia that people in the current Fifth Estate collective feel the story of our four decades of print should be recounted. Rather, it is because the history of this paper mirrored a period of large-scale rebellion throughout those years and continues today to give expression to a body of ideas which often finds little expression elsewhere.

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Peter Werbe
T. Fulano (David Watson)

Riots Revisited Two reprints from 1967 and 1987 FE on the Detroit riots

“July1967” by T. Fulano, from FE 326, Summer 1987

It was a full scale beggar’s banquet, the return of the repressed, a surprise party. The city people, young and old, black and white, went through the pawnshop windows like meteorites. Nervous exorcists, trembling before a mortal turned evil and massive and enigmatic, the politicians asked, “Who are you?” And like demons unleashed from an inferno, they answered, “Many.”

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Peter Werbe
Danger: Inflammatory Literature

A review of Scratching the Tiger’s Belly by Ron Sakolsky, 2012, Eberhardt Press, Portland, Oregon, 160pp., price listed as, “Until we achieve a world free of currency, this book is $9.95,” eberhardtpress.org.

Even the mailing envelope containing Ron Sakolsky’s latest collection of essays and poems announces a subversion of the expected. The publisher’s return address label has a traditional red “DANGER” oval above the words “INFLAMMATORY LITERATURE.”

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Peter Werbe
Cara Hoffman Interview

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Cara Hoffman published her first major novel, So Much Pretty, in 2011. It is a tale of family, community, and storytelling, but also about the ongoing acceptance of violence against women. Cara’s writing has appeared frequently in these pages. The Spring 2012 Fifth Estate featured a review of her book which was nominated for the National Book Award.

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Peter Werbe
Voices of the Underground Book Review

A review of Insider Histories of the Vietnam Era Underground Press, Part 2 edited by Ken Wachsberger, Michigan State University Press, 2012, 442 pp, $40

As you can see by the type on our cover, the Fifth Estate is approaching its 50th anniversary of radical publishing. This makes us either the longest or one of the longest running English language anarchist publications in U.S. history. The “either or” is due to from what date you count our appearance as an explicitly anarchist paper.

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Peter Werbe
Two Cheers For Anarchism?

a review of

James C. Scott: Two cheers for Anarchism; Six Easy Pieces on Autonomy, Dignity, and Meaningful Work and Play, Princeton University Press, 2012, 169 pp., $35 cloth and e-book

If we are expressing rankings by hurrahs, I would give James C. Scott’s book two cheers as he does for anarchism. Still, this middling mark is much higher than his slim volume of anarchist principles has garnered from other reviewers who express this philosophy.

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Peter Werbe
Anarchy for Kids Breaking Rules

a review of

A Rule is to Break: A Child’s Guide to Anarchy, John Seven and Jana Christy. Manic D Press, 48 pp, $14.95 www.manicdpress.com

Maybe you can’t tell a book by its cover, but a snappy title can gain an author attention where a lesser one might not. In an era where “everyone’s an anarchist,” James C. Scott’s book title, Two Cheers for Anarchism, reviewed elsewhere in this issue, was just the right formulation for even The New York Times to feature it. One suspects if he had given a full three cheers, it may have been ignored.

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Peter Werbe
M.A.D. Mutually Assured Destruction

It’s hard to pinpoint exactly when societies began to exhibit mass madness, but it certainly happened as the political state arose some scant four thousand years ago. What delusions of grandeur must have inhabited the mind of the first man to stand atop a ziggurat and announce that he was the representative of the gods on earth, or, crazier, that he was a god manifest with the right to rule over his subjects.

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Peter Werbe
Fran Shor
Dave Sands
Julie Herrada
Mike Sabbagh
David Watson

An Anarcho-Crossword Puzzle to test your knowledge of anarchist history and culture

<strong>View or download PDF [57 KB]

fe-390-48-anarcho-crossword

Hints are displayed below the puzzle.</strong>

<strong>See below for answers and annotations

#amw-attached-pdfs

</strong>

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ACROSS

3. Brit anarcho-punk band; also rude or distasteful

5. Not charity; the Prince agrees 6,3

8. Anti-roach spray, early punk band, but you can

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Peter Werbe
No Dance; No Revo What did Emma Goldman really say?

So famous is the quote (rendered in a variety of ways), “If I can’t dance, I don’t want to be in your revolution,” that it is even emblazoned on a souvenir coffee cup peddled by the Berkeley, Calif.-based Emma Goldman Papers project, and attributed to the turn of the last century anarchist and free love advocate.

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Peter Werbe
Marxism: Obscuring more than it reveals Criticism & Critique of a Failed System

“... [I]n my view, anarchism has no significant contribution to socialist theory to make.”

—Eric Hobsbawm, “Reflections on Anarchism,” 1969

Hobsbawm, the late British Marxist historian, in his snobbery, unintentionally poses the question as to the function of theory of any sort in revolutionary challenges to the present system. Marxists believe it is important to come to the confrontation armed with memorized critiques of capitalism and history, believing this provides them with the organizational and critical tools for overthrowing the system.

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Peter Werbe
Two Posters The Art of Opposition

Just as in other periods of contestation with the ruling order, not only did the Vietnam era resistance create its own periodicals, but it also published an enormous number of posters and flyers. Their subject matter didn’t only call for an end to the war, but denounced the U.S. empire and its armed forces, the police, racism, sexism, and many contained calls for revolution against capitalism.

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Peter Werbe
An Anarchist Cookbook That Actually Has Recipes! The old bomb making guide is replaced by one that lives up to its title

a review of

The Anarchist Cookbook

Keith McHenry, with Chaz Bufe Introduction by Chris Hedges, 2015

See Sharp Press, 154 pp.

It’s unfortunate that the best selling book with the word anarchist in the title is a terribly flawed bomb- and drug-making manual.

The original Anarchist Cookbook was first published in 1971, compiled by William Powell, then a 19-year-old living in New York City.

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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.

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Peter Werbe
The Struggle to Get Back to Zero The day before the 2016 election

There have been long standing political and theoretical debates about whether a particular political movement or leader is fascist. In the article before this one, as Bill Weinberg attests in the previous pages, it can come down to hairsplitting. Is Trump a fascist? Was the Spanish dictator, Francisco Franco? Or, Argentina’s Juan Peron? Or, is the term fascist applied indiscriminately to any oppressive government and politician?

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Peter Werbe
James Baldwin 3 Friends & Race in America

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James Baldwin, Malcolm X, Medgar Evers, Martin Luther King, Jr.

a film review of

“I Am Not Your Negro” (2016). Director: Raoul Peck; Writer: James Baldwin; Narration: Samuel L. Jackson. 135 min.

The title of this documentary about novelist, playwright, poet, and essayist James Baldwin is not spoken as such in the film. Where the line is uttered in this excellent film by Haitian-born director, Raoul Peck, Baldwin tells a British audience, “I am not your...” and uses the “N” word to complete his sentence.

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Peter Werbe
Jordan Flaherty

No Heroes Needed an interview with Jordan Flaherty

The Fifth Estate spoke with journalist and author, Jordan Flaherty, at Detroit’s Source Booksellers. His latest book, No More Heroes: Grassroots Challenges to the Savior Mentality, examines how often people of privilege makes things worse when they try to help oppressed or marginalized communities.

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Peter Werbe
Clinton Greater Danger to Peace Why Was Trump Putin’s Favorite?

It’s hard not to be distracted by the right wing Shit Show presently playing in the White House with its daily exposures of corruption, racism, xenophobia, and discrimination.

The most glittering of all the baubles dangled for our horror and enjoyment is Russian interference in the 2016 election and the collusion of the Trump campaign with President Vladimir Putin’s operatives. The accuracy of this charge is strengthened almost daily and denied only by the Trump camp, Fox News, and a surprising number of leftists and news sites like CounterPunch.

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Peter Werbe
Lena Kafka

Anarchy on the printed page A long tradition

Newspapers and magazines have been a part of the anarchist movement since its inception.

They contain daily agitation for ongoing struggles and are excellent sources of the history of a movement that is usually ignored by other left tendencies and historians alike.

They keep the flame of anarchy alive and depend on readers for their solidarity and mutual aid. Take a look at the sampling we have here and consider ordering them to assure their survival.

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Peter Werbe
Russia Revolution Books – Review From Adulation of Christ to Adulation of the Leader

a review of

Bloodstained: One Hundred Years of Leninist Counterrevolution eds. Friends of Aron Baron; Luigi Fabbri, Rudolf Rocker, Nestor Makhno, Iain McKay, Alexander Berkman, Maurice Brinton, Ida Mett, Otto Wile, Emma Goldman, et al. AK Press akpress.org, 2017

The Kronstadt Uprising by Ida Mett. Theory and Practice, 2017 theoryandpractice.org.uk

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Peter Werbe
The Way of the Passenger Pigeon Review: John Zerzan on the End of Civilization

a review of

A People’s History of Civilization by John Zerzan. Feral House, 2018 feralhouse.com

Beginning with John Zerzan’s 1970s jeremiads in this publication, his predictions of social collapse and later of civilization’s were best summed up by the title of his FE #276, January, 1976 article, “The Decline and Fall of Everything.”

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Peter Werbe
Cops are the heroes in Spike Lee’s film

a review of

“BlacKkKlansman”

Director: Spike Lee

135 min.

“The cops and Klan go hand in hand!”

—frequent chant at anti-cop demonstrations

Spike Lee’s latest film “BlackKkKlansman,” the story of an African American police officer’s infiltration of the Ku Klux Klan in the early 1970s, has received generally excellent reviews in mainstream publications and from anti-racist activists.

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Peter Werbe
Cuba’s New Constitution Bye-Bye Communism & Gay Rights; Hello Private Property & Censorship

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Groups like this performing at El Tanque at Havana’s Proyecto Cultural Muraleando will soon be subjected to official censorship.—photo: Peter Werbe

Pity the poor Marxist-Leninist militants now bereft of the police states for which they so earnestly apologized. But, not real pity as their dishonesty has caused as much damage to revolutionary possibilities as have the objects of their political ardor.

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Peter Werbe
Blood Lake Review

a review of

Blood Lake: A Filomena Buscarsela Mystery by Kenneth Wishnia. PM Press edition 2014; Spanish translation 2018. Originally published HB 2002

Anarchist fans of detective novels and murder mysteries who don’t like cops have to suspend a little of their social critique since it is the police, ex-cops, and private eyes who are solving the crimes. Anarchists as a rule don’t do much sleuthing.

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Peter Werbe
Lago de Sangre Reseña del libro

Una Revisión de

Lago de sangre: un libro de misterio sobre Filomena Buscarsela por Kenneth Wishnia. PM Press edición en español 2018; edición en inglés 2014; Publicado originalmente en 2002

Los anarquistas amantes de las novelas de detectives y de misteriosos asesinatos, a quienes no les gustan los polis, tendrán que suspender momentáneamente su crítica social porque son precisamente la policía, los ex polis y los detectives privados quienes resuelven los crímenes. Los anarquistas, segun la regla, no se encargan de actividades detectivescas de esa índole.

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Peter Werbe
Comics, Graphic Novels, & the 1919 Winnipeg General Strike

a review of

1919: A Graphic History of the Winnipeg General Strike. Graphic History Collective and David Lester. Between The Lines (2019)

Although the term graphic novel may seem used simply to gussie up what many would call a comic book, the phrase generally describes a publication with more serious content than what you find in Marvel’s superhero tales of Captain America, Iron Man, The Hulk, Spider-Man, and the rest.

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Peter Werbe
But It All Falls Apart A Leftist Guide for Seizing the Power of the State

a review of

Seizure of State Power, Part 3 of Manual for Revolutionary Leaders by Michael Velli. Sources of Velli’s thought annotated by Fredy Perlman. Black & Red (2019) BlackandRed.org

Spoiler alert: This text is not well-intentioned advice for those seeking to lead the working class and seize the power of the state. Quite the opposite. It is a polemic against those who seek such a role.

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Peter Werbe
In Havana? Conference on Trotsky?

It seems improbable that a conference was held in Havana last May to examine the life and ideas of the Russian Bolshevik, Leon Trotsky. One would think the Cuban Stalinist bureaucracy would be averse to allowing a gathering sympathetic to the Soviet dictator’s arch rival within the Russian ruling clique power struggle that occurred almost 100 years ago.

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Peter Werbe
Godless: 150 Years of Disbelief

a review of

Godless: 150 Years of Disbelief edited by Chaz Bufe; Introduction by Don Arel. PM Press, 2019 pmpress.org

More than a thousand years ago, a Chinese Zen master wrote: Magical power, Marvelous action! Chopping wood, Carrying water. The eleven essays assembled here by See Sharp Press publisher Chaz Bufe are effective diatribes against belief in gods that completely destroy every aspect and argument on which Christianity and other religions are based.

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Peter Werbe
A history of a little Detroit printing co-op that gave us Society of the Spectacle & a lot more

a review of

The Politics of the Joy of Printing: The Detroit Printing Co-op by Danielle Aubert. Artbook/D.A.P.

The text of this history of the Detroit Printing Co-op is engaging enough by itself, even without its colorful, graphic-filled pages of the work produced in the decade beginning in 1970 at an all-volunteer project amidst the city’s industrial ruins.

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Peter Werbe
The 2020 Election What to do while waiting for the Revolution

The 2020 Michigan presidential primary on March 10 marked the end of the progressive fantasy that the American political landscape could be altered by supporting U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders as the Democratic Party nominee.

Instead, it was bye-bye, Bernie, as Joe Biden swept every county in the state as voters overwhelmingly went for a candidate they thought had the best chance of defeating the execrable Trump in November.

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