Various Authors
Letters Our readers respond

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Greetings Comrades,

I just want to say thanks for keeping FE going. Yes indeed, the longest running radical mag in the US. I just ordered another year’s subscription.


Fifth Estate Collective
Contents, intro to print edition

Welcome to our Summer edition with its theme of Belief/Disbelief/Unbelief.

Our essays don’t so much investigate beliefs themselves as much as belief systems, our cognitive constructions which determine our perception of reality. Beliefs can either chain us to repressive ideas or free us with visions that go beyond dominant paradigms. The entire modern era has been one of contestation as to which belief systems will rule in societies--ones that link us to submission and acquiescence to hierarchal authority, or those which rebel against them and eliminate the categories of rulers and ruled. Comments are welcome on the essays which follow.


T.P.T.G. (The Children of The Gallery)
In Critical and Suffocating Times The anti-austerity popular explosions in Greece may contain the future of struggles against capital.

Kanellos, the ubiquitous Greek Riot Dog present at numerous actions (or is it PhotoShop?)

As a publication appearing only three times a year, it’s difficult to report on the outrages of capital and the empire in a timely fashion. Usually, we cover only issues not available elsewhere. However, the Greek events of this Spring seem worthy of reporting and analysis as Capital’s crisis becomes generalized and rulers’ call for austerity enforced on workers becomes more shrill.


Patrick Dunn
A Radicalization of Reich Sexual Repression & The Roots of Authoritarianism

-- Stephen Goodfellow

Wilhelm Reich’s The Mass Psychology of Fascism (MPF) was written in 1933, at the peak of Hitler’s rise to power. The book is, most immediately, an attempt to explain the victory of the Nazis, at a time when economic hardship in Germany should have provoked a turn to the Left.

More fundamentally, as Reich writes in MPF, it is an effort to diagnose the fascist phenomenon, not as a trend of national politics, but, as “the basic emotional attitude of man in authoritarian society, with its machine civilization and its mechanistic-mystical view of life.”


Who Is Wilhelm Reich?

Reich being led to federal prison in 1957, where he died two years later.

Wilhelm Reich (1897–1957) was an Austrian-born physician, psychoanalyst, and revolutionary. He worked with Sigmund Freud in the 1920s before breaking with him. His sex-political activities in Germany led to his denunciation by the Communist Party in the early 1930s and expulsion from the International Psychoanalytic Association at the insistence of his former mentor.


Walker Lane (Peter Werbe)
Wilhelm Reich The Emotional Plague & the Authoritarian Family



In 1976, much of what had constituted the New Left of the previous years was in a state of terminal collapse.

As an example, Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), the quintessential white radical youth organization, whose numbers at its height were in the hundreds of thousands, was reduced to several dozen activists in the Weather Underground.


Andrew Dobbs
Conspiracy or Anarchy If you think space aliens killed JFK and brought down the twin towers, and no one realizes it because of government chemtrails, you may think this article is part of the conspiracy.

Like God before her, Reason is dying. Her fast life has taken its toll: God took a millennium or two to live out His days, Reason has had a mere three centuries of gallivanting to the moon and back.

People now find her insufficient to explain their experience of nature just as they once found God unnecessary.


David Solnit
Tenth Anniversary of Bolivia’s Water War Report from the World People’s Conference on Climate Change in Bolivia

Commemorative march on the tenth anniversary of Bolivia’s Water War, Cochabamba, April, 2010.
--photo Mona Caron

In spring 2000, the people of Cochabamba, Bolivia rose up against the privatization of their water, forcing out the US based corporation, Bechtel, and Bolivia’s neo-liberal government to back down. The rebellion opened up new political space in Bolivia, catalyzing the most powerful, radical, visionary mass movements and mobilizations on the planet. My friend and collaborator, Mona Caron, a public muralist from San Francisco, and I spent six weeks in Cochabamba, a city in central Bolivia, during March and April co-creating art and visuals with local communities and organizations. We came at the invitation of the organizing committee for the International Feria del Agua (Water Fair) commemorating the ten year anniversary of what has come to be known as the Water War. We also participated with 30,000 others in the World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth, organized by the Bolivian government of President Evo Morales.


Peter Lamborn Wilson
“Anarchist religion?”

It’s often said that we anarchists “believe humans are basically good” (as did the Chinese sage Mencius). Some of us, however, doubt the notion of inherent goodness and reject the power of other people over us precisely because we don’t trust the bastards. It seems unwise to generalize about anarchist “beliefs” since some of us are atheists or agnostics, while others might even be Catholics. Of course, a few anarchists love to indulge in the spurious disagreeable and pointless exercise of ex-communicating the differently-faithed amongst their comrades.


Dan LaPonsie
God: Unplugged

“No, I think He looks better on the right,” Bejewel said.

Lisp slid god back over to a right-of-center place on the mantel. The electric god was plugged into a wall outlet, casting a shimmering white light on either the right or left of Lisp’s face--depending on where Lisp’s older sisters directed.


J. M. White
O (poem)

“A way that is laid out, is not the way.”

--Tao Te Ching


life is a journey

fraught with peril

the way is never clear

naive faith

and sarcastic doubt

circle aimlessly

resolving nothing

pay attention

your time is short

the way long

there are people watching television

while the house is on fire


Octavio Alberola
Venezuelan anarchists see Noam Chomsky as Chavez’s Clown

FE Note: The comrades of Venezuela’s El Libertario magazine are unrelenting in their criticism of what they call the myth of Hugo Chavez’s “Eco-socialism of the XXI Century.”

They often write about the general unwillingness to see the authoritarian side of Chavez as an echo of how almost the entire Left, including many anarchists, refused to criticize the Cuban revolution.


Frank Joseph Smecker
Commodifying experience The School of Tyrannical Indoctrination

In the mid- to late 19th Century, the rapidly expanding Industrial Age provided the impetus behind the expansion of the public school system. Reading, writing and arithmetic were pressed into service in order to form a needed literate labor force.

At the same time, it was important to assure that this newly educated proletariat remained obedient and submissive to authority. Subject matter such as history was taught from the perspective of great men and the victors of wars. Mathematics inculcated the presumption that the world is comprised of generalized numbers to be counted, manipulated and exploited. Reading and writing silenced languages older than words themselves.


Ian L.
A Reader’s Belief “Free oneself from an irrational belief in our need for authority.”

In my personal experience, the simultaneous transition from Christianity to atheism, and from conservative statism to anti-authoritarianism, had ontological shifts to non-belief as their catalyst.

I have come to see belief in any political ideology as having essentially the same religious quality as belief in any religious system. Both, it seems to me, inhibit learning and the progression of becoming which prevent individuals and societies from growing beyond the confines of ideology and dogma.


Le Garcon Dupont
Cul de Sac Are we in a hopeless dead-end?

FE Note: Usually, Fifth Estate essays are filled with the vision that alternatives exist to our current predicament. This article explores the possibility that humanity has already been extinguished and that there may be no hope of fashioning a different world. If that’s the case, do we just cease our resistance? Comments welcome.


Michael Gurnow
“The Folly of Beginning a Work Before We Count the Cost” Anarcho-Primitivism in Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe

“You don’t own property; property owns you.”

--B. Traven (Treasure of Sierra Madre)

Anarcho-primitivism states that humanity’s problems began once we abandoned our hunter-gatherer lifestyle in favor of an agrarian one. By contrast, our new sedentary way of life leads to social stratification and overpopulation due to a division of labor and food commodities being produced to the point of surplus.


The Politics of Carnival Festivals Medieval & Modern that Slip Out of Control

FE Note: In the random manner carnivals can get out of hand, so, too, does this article appear in our pages. A staff member sent it to us months ago, and we found it tucked away in our on-line files. It seemed like a good fit for our theme and we liked the subject matter, but upon reading it, realized that it had been printed elsewhere, particularly since it makes reference to an accompanying CD which obviously isn’t here.


Walker Lane (Peter Werbe)
Cuba: From State to Private Capitalism Adios Socialismo

HAVANA — We entered the elevator on the ground floor of Havana’s renowned FOCSA building in the city’s Vedado district and were quickly whisked, non-stop, to the 33rd floor. When the doors opened, tuxedoed waiters welcomed us to La Torre, an elegant, candle-lit restaurant with floor to ceiling windows overlooking the city and harbor twinkling in the night below us.


Walker Lane (Peter Werbe)
State Violence & Cuba’s Ladies in White

Civilian Cuban women aid state security agents by dragging Ladies in White to an awaiting bus following a Havana anti-government march.

In March, Cuban police broke up a protest by the Ladies in White, women with family members sentenced to prison for opposing the government. The images of the women being dragged to a bus, their white clothes smeared with mud, were broadcast world-wide as proof of the repressive nature of the Castro government.


Fifth Estate Collective
Call for Submissions for Next Issue

Theme: “DIY: Culture, Ethics, Aesthetics”

Next issue: FIFTH ESTATE #384 Winter 2011

Maybe the most persistent of all forms of external authority in our lives are the day-to-day tyrannies of specialists and experts. The Fifth Estate’s next issue investigates strategies of resistance to and liberation from this insidious system of technocratic mystification and domination with a look at the culture, ethics, and aesthetics of do-it-yourselfism.


Fifth Estate Collective
Marie Mason Update Denied a vegan diet; Appeals Continue


As BP continues to devastate the Gulf of Mexico for generations to come, militant eco-radicals like Marie Mason, who have dedicated their lives to halting exactly this kind of environmental destruction, helplessly watch from inside the dungeons of the State.

Mason is serving almost 22 years for two acts of environmentally-motivated property destruction, the longest sentence of any Green Scare prisoner. The Green Scare is the name given to the recent slate of prosecutions of radical environmental and animal liberation activists. Her sentence is under appeal.


Fifth Estate Collective
RNC Update Judge rules trumped up charges from 2008 Republican convention can proceed

The RNC 8 are preparing for trial following hearings to dismiss felony charges against them stemming from planned demonstrations at the 2008 Republican National Convention (RNC). The eight activists were preemptively arrested before the convention in St. Paul, Minnesota, some in raids by heavily armed SWAT teams. While the State dismissed terrorism counts last year, the defendants still face charges of conspiracy to riot with a dangerous weapon and conspiracy to commit criminal damage to property.


Dahr Jamail
Seth Kershner

Resistance to Iraq inside the military Q&A with Dahr Jamail

The U.S. defeat in the Vietnam war can be attributed to many things including the American military’s inability to vanquish the National Liberation Front and the North Vietnamese Army on the battlefield despite killing three million Indochinese and destroying the country’s infrastructure, and the enormous and unprecedented domestic opposition to the war.


Marie Mason
The Battle of the Story of the Battle of Seattle

A review of

The Battle of the Story of the Battle of Seattle, David Solnit and Rebecca Solnit, AK Press, 2009, $12, www.akpress.org

Having been in Seattle for the “insurrection” against the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 1999, I looked forward to reading David Solnit’s account of the days leading up to November 26 and his interpretation of the aftermath of those events. I took part enthusiastically in many of the demonstrations and blockades of which he writes, and ran in the Black Bloc.


Walker Lane (Peter Werbe)
How Once Dangerous Signs and Slogans Become Appropriated to Mean Their Opposite or Nothing

The dominant culture’s appropriation and enfeeblement of language that was once angrily thrust against it is nothing new.

Even the word “revolution,” which once sent shivers down the spines of a fragile bourgeoisie until their rule was assured, has been recuperated. After its brief resurrection in the 1960s, the phrase was quickly adopted by the advertising industry to mean anything new and exciting, as in “Breck’s revolutionary new hair coloring.”


Cookie Orlando
Anarchist Writers Use Fiction to Create Real Possibilities

a review of

Mythmakers & Lawbreakers: Anarchist Writers on Fiction, edited by Margaret Killjoy, AK Press, 2009, $12

Radicals these days tend to fall into a few different camps, and one of the most important splits is between the academics and the non-academics.

If you’ve got one radical leftist who is a graduate student in philosophy, for example, and another one who works, say as a counselor for the mentally ill, the two will probably agree on most things. But the graduate student is likely to fall back on theorists like Foucault, Deleuze, Adorno, and others to explain her views, while the counselor falls back on...who?


Don LaCoss
On Blasphemy and Imagination Arab Surrealism Against Islam

“God can do anything except suicide”
--Malcolm de Chazal

In 1973, a small network of Arab students living in Paris, London, and Vienna founded the Arab Surrealist Movement in Exile. At the group’s core was Abdul Kader el-Janabi, Farid Lariby, Mohammed Awadh, and Maroine Dib; they re-oriented surrealist elements against the intense misery they saw rampant in the Middle East: despotic police-state politics, nationalism (particularly Ba’athism in Syria and Iraq), militarism, patriarchal oppression, neo-colonial European interference, grueling poverty, and suppressed imaginations.


Don LaCoss
Surrealism & Atheism Review

a review of

Guy Ducornet, Surréalisme et atheisme... “A la niche les glapisseurs de dieu!” Ginkgo editeur, 2007.

Surrealist Guy Ducornet has been active in the Paris and Chicago groups since the late 1960s, as well as a participant in the para-surrealist Phases movement. In 2005, Ducornet began contacting surrealist groups around the world and announced his plans to re-issue the classic surrealist proclamation against religion from 1948, “A la niche les glapisseurs de dieu!” (“Get Back Into Your Kennels, You Yelping Dogs of God!”).


Christine Monhollen
Mick Vranich, 1946–2010

Our friend and comrade, Mick Vranich, died March 29 following a terrible construction accident in February. If you ever met Mick, you wouldn’t forget him. You may have seen him perform his poetry, punctuating lines with a stoic stare or watched him play guitar, amazed at his ability to perfect each note, each chord in sync with poetic ease. Perhaps you attended one of his benefits calling for freedom for Leonard Peltier. Maybe you just stopped by his Solstice campfire in the middle of Detroit and were offered a cup of coffee and some real, true talk, or poems like the ones of his on this page.


Reading “Letters of Insurgents” 34 Years After its Publication A Radical Classic is Igniting Discussion Again

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

As we go to press in late June, we are receiving reports of discussion groups formed around the country, in person and in on-line blogs, that are reading Fredy Perlman’s 1976 historical novel, Letters of Insurgents, published by Detroit’s Black & Red.


Pistoleros! 2: 1919 Review

Pistoleros! 2: 1919 is the second volume of the memoirs and notebooks of Farquhar McHarg, a seventy-six-year-old anarchist from Glasgow. Its writing was prompted by the murder of a lifelong friend.

McHarg’s Chronicles record his evolving beliefs and sense of mission, and the remarkable adventures he experienced from the day he sailed into the neutral port of Barcelona in the spring of 1918, a naive but idealistic eighteen-year-old, and 1976. Farquhar’s Chronicles are folk history, bringing the changes that shook the political and social landscape of Spain (and the world) between 1918 and 1976 into the framework of an adult lifetime. They make a vexatious but fascinating story that provides a deep insight into the spirit that moved the selfless, generous, occasionally naive and recklessly idealistic people who were involved in the bitter social struggles that marked the hectic insurrectionary and utopian aftermath of the great imperialist war of 1914 through 1918.