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Fifth Estate Collective
Anti-capitalist then, now & forever FE approaches 40th anniversary

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—Albo Jeavons (www.adanon.org)

This issue on economy marks the Fifth Estate’s last edition of 2004, and as we approach our 40th anniversary edition, it feels critical to consider the decision we made 30 years ago to become explicitly anti-authoritarian and anti-capitalist.

For a brief period in the early 1970s, FE flirted with the kind of alternative journalism that we expect from weeklies like Nashville Scene, Detroit’s Metro Times, and the hundreds of other free papers of that ilk. During this time, FE also attempted to run itself as a business. This phase of the project was a failure. To mark “the last issue of the FE as a capitalist enterprise,” the volunteer editors who had been working together as the Eat The Rich Gang (some still involved in the project), made a series of decisions that we affirm today.

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Fifth Estate Collective
Contents of print edition

Features

Class & Solidarity 15

Intro to Economics 16

Last Ticket to Utopia 17

Political Economy, Perennial Economy: Marx, Thoreau, & Us 18

Land & Liberty 22

Refusing The Marketplace 24

Communalism of Desire 26

Pastoral Letter 28

Give it Away 32

Burning Man 33

Wildcat Reprint 34

Nietzsche & The Anarchists 36

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Fifth Estate Collective
Masthead

FIFTH ESTATE #367, Winter, 2004–2005, Vol. 39, No. 4, page 3

Special thanks to artist-activist Joy Garnett for providing us with our cover illustration, taken from her 2004 painting “Burn.” Garnett’s paintings are based on mass-media news photographs of figures swept up in states of extreme emotional or physical expression, from street riots to rock ‘n’ roll stage performances. One of her paintings, “Molotov,” is taken from a 1979 photograph of a Sandinista hurling a flaming Pepsi bottle; it prompted a copyright lawsuit claiming that Garnett “stole” the image. In response to threats from the intellectual property mafia, artists who challenge the idea that media images (especially those that are supposedly documentarian) can be owned, licensed, bought and sold have begun an action campaign called “Joywar.” For more information on Joywar, copyright, and political economy of images, see Garnett’s essay “Steal This Look” from the Summer 2004 issue of the on-line journal “Intelligent Agent”: intelligentagent.com/archive/Vol4_No2_ip_garnett.htm

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Fifth Estate Collective
Issue intro

Throughout 2005, we will celebrate our anniversary by spreading the ideas of revolution that made us notorious to authority and noted by readers everywhere as a consistent, intelligent, and even humorous tool for change.

From the suburban Detroit home of a 17-year-old high school student in 1965, to a gritty, inner-city Cass Corridor basement with an ever-changing revolutionary collective to a remote Tennessee barn of the current communal and editorial core group, the Fifth Estate has remained what the FBI called a voice “supporting the cause of revolution everywhere.”

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David Watson
Don LaCoss

Post-election post-mortem Four more years ... of resistance!

Editorial 1: Don LaCoss

It’s finally over. Now we can get back to work. Over the last seven months a surprising number of our comrades were increasingly distracted by the seductive spectacle of humiliating Bush and Cheney on a grand scale. Anarchists I know, respect, and love voted, ferchrissakes, in their overwhelming desire to publicly rub Bush’s nose in it. But in the back of their minds they all knew that a Kerry victory wouldn’t change anything other than infinitesimally retard the atrocities, plunder, and human rights abuses carried out in the name of the USA.

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Raccoon Porch
Ruth Opp

Falling off the Wagon Chicago Memorializes Haymarket

The Haymarket Tragedy of 1886 has been remembered by anarchists, workers, labor organizers, and historians as a seminal event in humanity’s ongoing fight for free speech, free assembly, and the abolition of wage slavery. Around the world, major cities have erected monuments and named plazas in honor of the Haymarket martyrs and the importance of their trial, but until September 14, 2004, no substantial marker had ever been erected where the incident occurred, near the corner of Randolph and Des Plaines in Chicago.

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Walker Lane
First Iraq Mutiny As War Drags on, Will There Be More?

Mutiny. This word, fearsome to the brass of any army (but joyful to anti-war activists), was left out of October media accounts about a US Army Reserve unit whose soldiers refused to deliver fuel along a route in Iraq they considered too dangerous to travel.

Eighteen soldiers, including the commander of the 343rd Quarter-master Company, refused to under-take a fuel delivery north of Baghdad in what they characterized as a “suicide mission,” given the frequency of attacks and the lack of armor for their unit. The commander was relieved of duty with the hope that the entire incident could be swept under a rug already showing great bulges from previous sweepings.

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Walker Lane
How to Support Anti-War GIs

As Bush’s Iraq quagmire begins to take on the same qualities as the war in Vietnam—fighting an insurgent population, mounting US casualties, increased slaughter of civilians, destruction of the country to “save it,” no exit strategy—so, too, does military opposition.

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Ex-Sgt. Camilo Mejia holding an anti-war sign in Iraq. After refusing to report for duty, he was sentenced to a year in jail.

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Sandor Ellix Katz
My Tale of Zero Tolerance

I was in New York during the Republican convention, mostly staying as far as possible from Madison Square Garden, but greatly enjoying the joyous spirit of counter-cultural expression that filled the city simultaneous with the Republican invasion. On August 31, 2004, I went to participate in a “green bloc” action called “true security,” with the theme of creative representations of a better world. The meeting place was the steps of the public library on 42nd Street and 5th Avenue. I arrived early and sat on the steps reading. Those library steps epitomize public space and free speech and have served for generations as a meeting place.

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Alexander Trocchi
Resistance is possible 2004 RNC Protests

The Republican National Convention (RNC) was the ultimate slight to New York: those who made careers and a quick buck off the September 11th events returned to feast like vultures on the corpses of the dead, attempting to rally support for a failing war and a disastrous regime by parading around near the site of Ground Zero.

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Sunfrog
On Class & Solidarity An introduction to economy & community

“I don’t believe in charity. I believe in solidarity. Charity is so vertical. It goes from the top to the bottom. Solidarity is horizontal. It respects the other person and learns from the other. I have a lot to learn from other people.”

— Eduardo Galeano

The following economy and community section deals at least as much with our visions for different and possibly better realities as it does with our critique of the current and devastating situations within capitalist economic relations. However, we can and should note that the statistics concerning global wealth and poverty are staggering. The elite classes experience unprecedented luxuries while the rest of the world struggles. The working class slips into disastrous debt and the under-class teeters toward catastrophic hunger, disease, and poverty.

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Tabatha Statid
Intro to Economics

This is the story about how I got a C- grade in my high school economics class. Mr. Burns told the class on the first day that we were going to spend all of our time playing the “Stock Market Game.”

We were given an imaginary lump sum of $10,000 at the beginning of September and our assignment was to invest it in stocks. We read the financial page of the local newspaper at the beginning of every class and compared notes from cable television financial news programs to track our make-believe investments. Mr. Burns said that the highest grade would go to the three people who made the most money in the class. Extra points would be given to those whose stock value had the greatest increase.

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Takver Shevek
Last Exit to Utopia

“In view of the solutions that are asked of us, routine completely re-upholstered in velvet is dangerous. Routine hatches more distress and death than an imaginary utopia.”

—Andre Breton

Green Anarchy #17 (Summer 2004) featured a rather amorphous seven-page article by one A Morefus as to why utopianism and anarchy are fundamentally incompatible. The author criticizes the totalizing impulses of utopian thought with a totalizing critique that glibly and thinly covers a few thousand years, from Plato’s Republic and the Shakers to the Bauhaus, the Third Reich, anarcho-primitivism, and post-human cybertopias.

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David Watson
Marx, Thoreau, and Us Political economy, perennial economy

From July 1845 to September 1847, Thoreau lived at Walden Pond outside of Concord in a small cabin he built largely from scrap. Uninformed cynics typically criticize him either for staying close to town instead of seeking authentic wilderness—or for staying in the cabin only briefly; Thoreau himself made no great claims for his experiment, as he called it, explaining that he was attempting to “live deliberately,” to explore himself, to turn his attention to the woods. (In his essay, “Walking,” he also says that he prefers a kind of “border life” at the boundary between civilization and wilderness). Thoreau finished Walden after returning from the woods to embark on the “other lives” he said he still needed to live.

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Seaweed
Land and Liberty

Perhaps it’s for the best that you don’t have a memory of yourself centuries ago as you looked proudly around your community—a community deeply embedded in a habitat. This is where you first made love, learned to swim, caught your first fish, perhaps even fought a first battle against belligerent neighbors. Practically everybody in your community knows the names of the flora and fauna of your habitat, where the berries are, when the birds leave and return. There is a common history that is told and re-told. Most of you have felt a kinship with the totality of your habitat—its weather patterns, rocks, streams, mountains and its unique smells and sounds—the singular music of your home. In short, you have a sense of place, you belong. These are all my relations, you will exclaim, as you look around.

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Ron Sakolsky
Refusing the Marketplace

Prologue

“Lady

with the very modern illness

agoraphobia

but ancient as fear

in a Greek marketplace

Lady

I have seen your face

crumple and break in ecstasy

of terror of horror of being

alive in the sewer world

feeling alien thoughts beating

at your mind an office desk

protruding from one ear

a subway train from the other

bells clanging gongs shouting

while you’re washing the dishes

terror

of the market place

and falling

falling into that white place

without shadows

where the rivers are milk

and Lethe dreams

and nothingness has no horizon...”

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Anu Bonobo
The communalism of desire Notes on the gift economy

The fear of communism comes with the notion that the State will take away our things, force us to share with unworthy neighbors, and leave us without self-determination. That contributes to why we need to replace communism with communalism.

To avoid old-school communism and the welfare office, the working-class and middle-class servants of post-industrial capitalism willingly suffer all sorts of indignities, while tolerating, for the global underclass, an unprecedented neo-slavery of staggering horror. A unipolar, neoliberal, global capitalism has emerged, and we face the accelerating influence of a global junta motivated by purely mercantile interests. The crushing one-world economic system has resuscitated the need for a revolutionary alternative; to counter the new boss, radicals might create a sustainable, communal opposition. To reclaim the communal alternative, we must un-hinge communism from its authoritarian baggage and purge forever the tendency to form vanguardist bureaucracies when voluntary, horizontal associations are all that we need. Abolishing wage work and private property, socializing all necessities such as food, land, and water: these demands continue the classic precepts of anarcho-syndicalism and libertarian communism. But today, we can extend these classic notions and envision an even more radical gift economy as the only alternative to capitalism.

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Peter Lamborn Wilson
Pastoral Letter A fragment

Imagine an alternate dimension where

dervishes are roaming around America

sects of Swedenborgian hobos, etc.

You’re there camping in the cemetery

long black hair in tangles ghostwhite face

* * *

Sion County is remote, rural, and poor, and always has been. Around 1870 a breakaway sect of German Amish-type farmers—the Sabbatarian Anabaptists of the “Seventh Day Dunkers,” moved there from Pennsylvania and settled down in the river valleys of the county’s northeast.

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David Graeber
Give it Away

Pioneering French anthropologist Marcel Mauss studied “gift economies” like those of the Kwakiutl of British Columbia. A former amateur boxer, he was a burly man with a playful, rather silly manner, the sort of person always juggling a dozen brilliant ideas rather than building a great philosophical system.

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PanDoor
Burning Man A Festival in the Desert

I have just left Black Rock City, the site of Burning Man, a yearly arts festival and temporary autonomous zone based on radical self-expression, and find myself in the paradoxical situation of being inspired to give written form to things that are utterly inexpressible.

In the desert of Nevada, Black Rock City is constructed entirely of art. It exists in material form for only one week in August every year, and then it disappears, as though into the ethers, its citizens dispersed to various faraway places.

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Fifth Estate Collective
Wildcat: Dodge Truck, June 1974 ...30 years later

This year marks the 30th anniversary of publication of the pamphlet Wildcat: Dodge Truck, June 1974, written and produced by several of the people who became the core of the Fifth Estate collective the next year when it was transformed into an overtly council communist, and then, anarchist publication. A short excerpt is reprinted below.

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Spencer Sunshine
Nietzsche and the Anarchists

John Moore was a controversial but intriguing English anarchist writer who passed away of a heart attack in October 2002 at the age of 45. He was the author of such short books as Anarchy & Ecstasy, Lovebite, and The Book of Levelling, and widely-read essays such as “A Primitivist Primer” and “Maximalist Anarchism/Anarchist Maximalism.” His “The Appeal of Anarchy” appeared on the back cover of Fifth Estate in the 1990s. When he died, he left behind an uncompleted anthology: I Am Not A Man, I Am Dynamite! Friedrich Nietzsche and the Anarchist Tradition. It featured essays from a dozen writers, from six countries, on the historical and conceptual relationships between Nietzsche and anarchism. I inherited the project the next year, and finally—eight years after its initiation—the book is finally complete and will be published in December by Autonomedia. I want to offer the following historical research, culled from both the anthology and elsewhere, to contribute to the discussion that will undoubtedly follow the publication of this work.

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John Brinker
Doug Graves

Mumia re-examines history of the Black Panther Party Book review

a review of

We Want Freedom: A life in the Black Panther Party by Mumia Abu-Jamal. South End Press: Cambridge, 2004

In his new book We Want Freedom, acclaimed activist Mumia Abu-Jamal has re-examined the history of the Black Panther Party (BPP) and has situated them in a broader history of Black resistance for a new generation to learn from their successes and failures.

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Sheila Nopper
More Dangerous than a Thousand Rioters Book review

a review of

Lucy Parsons: Freedom, Equality & Solidarity, Writings & Speeches, 1878–1937, Charles H. Kerr, Chicago, 2003

As a cop once said during her lifetime, Lucy Parsons is “more dangerous than a thousand rioters.” So strong was her anti-authoritarian presence that 62 years after her death, the revolutionary spirit of Lucy Parsons (1853–1942) continues to arouse the ire of the Chicago police.

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