Various Authors
Letters Our readers respond

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Fifth Estate Collective
Anarcho-shorts & other Tales of the Planet

A valuable anarchist history resource, The Emma Goldman Papers archive, is being defunded by University of California, Berkeley, and will have to close if alternative funding can’t be found soon. The 34-year-old archive is currently the most comprehensive, organized collection of Goldman-related materials in the world.


Fifth Estate Collective
Contents of print edition

Fifth Estate, #393, Spring 2015, Vol. 50, No. 1

2 Letters

4 Anarchy in Kurdistan

Bill Weinberg

7 Eric McDavid Freed!

FE Staff

8 Armed Madhouse

Bryan Tucker

9 Justice for Franco Fascists?

David Porter

11 Sam Mbah Dies

Kelly Rose Pflug-Back

12 Florida’s Burnpile Press

Matt Keene

13 An Anarchist in Berlin


Bill Weinberg
Syria’s Kurdish Revolution The Anarchist Element & the Challenge of Solidarity


The north Syrian town of Kobani has been under siege since mid-September by forces of the self-proclaimed Islamic State, popularly known as ISIS. Early in the siege, world leaders spoke as if they expected it to fall.

The US took its bombing campaign against ISIS to Syria, but targeted the jihadists’ de facto capital, Raqqa, not the ISIS forces closing the ring on Kobani. But the vastly outgunned and outnumbered Kurdish militia defending Kobani began to turn the tide, while issuing desperate appeals for aid from the outside world.


Fifth Estate Collective
Green Scare Prisoner Eric McDavid Freed From Prison Served nine years for a crime that was never committed

SACRAMENTO, CALIF.--On January 8, Green Scare prisoner Eric McDavid was ordered released from prison after nine years because the government admitted to withholding documents from the defense at his 2007 trial.

Eric McDavid leaves prison with his lawyers after serving nine years after a rigged trial in which the government withheld evidence.


Bryan Tucker
Armed Madhouse Reflections on Mass Shootings


As the disturbing trend of mass shootings has steadily become a staple of American society, they serve as one extreme example of the collapsing modern social order.

Factors related to the rampages are isolation, hierarchy, the nature of school (where spree shootings often occur), militarization, and language.


David Porter
Will Franco Era Spanish Fascists Finally Be Brought to Justice? Including for the ghastly death of anarchist Salvador Puig Antich

On October 31, an Argentine judge, Maria Servini de Cabria, issued international arrest warrants and extradition requests to question and try 20 Spanish Franco-era officials accused of crimes against humanity from 1939 to 1975.

Spanish General Francisco Franco led the Nationalists, a military/fascist rebel group, to eventual victory in a civil war (1936 to 39), overthrowing the democratically elected republican government and quashing revolutionary social change led by anarchists and others.


Kelly Rose Pflug-Back
Sam Mbah Dies 1963–2014

Sam Mbah (1963–2014)

Sam Mbah, Nigerian activist, journalist, lawyer, and co-author of African Anarchism: The History of a Movement, passed away November 6, after suffering unexpected complications from a heart condition for which he had recently undergone surgery.

Mbah was an outspoken advocate of anarchist alternatives to global capitalism, and dedicated his life to providing anarchist models of organizing against government corruption, militarism, climate change, and other social and environmental issues.


Matt Keene
Burnpile Press Jacksonville’s Anarchist Collective

Anarchists sweat in Florida. Dumpstered foods spoil quicker, black bloc protests require balaclavas made with moisture-wicking, breathable materials, and mosquitoes relentlessly target the sugary-sweet blood of anti-capitalists.

Out of this sultry subtropical environment has sprouted Burnpile Press. Founded in 2012, Burnpile is an informal, community supported project dedicated to producing, printing, and distributing radical literature free-of-charge. They often distro as many as 200 Fifth Estates each issue as well as Berkeley’s Slingshot periodical, and many other radical used books, zines, and accessories at no cost to the reader. With no current info-shop location, all material is literally hand distributed through face to face interactions with those living in the region.


Rachael Stoeve
An American Anarchist in Berlin

FE note: Berlin is a city whose rich history rings with memories of anarchist martyrs who organized clandestinely against the Nazi and communist East German regimes, suffering tremendous repression. Since WWII, Berlin anarchists have been at the forefront of militant activities opposing the state and are known for their networks of communal, often squatted buildings.


Fifth Estate Collective
Call for Submissions

Fifth Estate Summer 2015 (Issue 394)

Deadline: May 1

Publication date: June 1


The war in Vietnam, the first great defeat of American imperialism, came to an ignominious conclusion 40 years ago, at the end of April 1975.

The United States Congress has authorized the Secretary of Defense “to conduct a program to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War.” This obscene commemoration of a shameful war should not go unanswered. We need to remind the world of its true heroes and victims--the Vietnamese people, the anti-war movement, and the draft resisters--and say No! to the celebration of the imperial war machine.


John Clark
The Society of the Spectacle Reconsidered Good Marx or Bad Marx?

a review of

The Society of the Spectacle by Guy Debord

Newly translated & annotated by Ken Knabb,

Bureau of Public Secrets, 2014, 150 pages. $15. bopsecrets.org

For those interested in Situationist ideas, this is an auspicious time to reconsider Guy Debord’s The Society of the Spectacle, originally published in 1967. Ken Knabb’s recently revised translation is a valuable resource for the study of Debord and the Situationists.


Fifth Estate Collective
We Lose SchNEWS Britain’s Action News Sheet

After 691 issues, SchNEWS, “The free weekly direct action newssheet published in Brighton, England since 1994” is no more. A mix of serious reporting and irreverent humor, it was born in a squatted courthouse as part of “Justice?”--Brighton’s campaign against the repressive British Criminal Justice Act.


Alex Knight
Debt & the Movement That Is Challenging it

a review of

The Debt Resisters’ Operations Manual, Strike Debt, PM Press, 2014, 256pp. Available online from strikedebt.org or PMpress.org

The good people of Strike Debt have revised and expanded their very popular “Debt Resisters’ Operations Manual,” (DROM) into a full-length book. It is half political and historical analysis of how indebtedness has come to define so many aspects of our lives and half a practical how-to guide for people struggling with various forms of debt to seek individual relief and collective action.


Fifth Estate Collective
FE Staffer Puts a Pie in God’s Face The Ultimate in Disrespect for Authority


For fifty years, the Fifth Estate has reflected on the world’s most contentious social issues including critiques of religion and its appeal to those in need of justifications for their oppressive goals.

Those who question or show disrespect for the basis of their quest for domination suffer threats, ones which are often acted upon.


Electronic Frontier Foundation
A Protester’s Guide to Cell Phone Use Who’s Listening & What Can You Do?

FE Note: The police have always done surveillance of revolutionaries. What is new now is the technological capabilities of government snoops. Being noted on paper 3X5 cards didn’t stop our predecessors, and their electronic gadgets won’t deter us.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation defends civil liberties in the digital world. Founded in 1990, the San Francisco-based EFF states that it “champions user privacy, free expression, and innovation through impact litigation, policy analysis, grassroots activism, and technology development.”


Alexander (for Retort)
Autarchy in Scotland Is the only choice “YES” or “NO” for a new nation?

In September 2014, the people of Scotland voted on an independence referendum question, “Should Scotland be an independent country?” Following an intense campaign, the “No” side won with 55 percent voting against independence with a turnout of 85 percent.

Alexander writes from Glasgow with an assessment.


Fifth Estate Collective
Anarchy in Books A sampling of the fine books we receive

Who’s Afraid of The Black Blocs?: Anarchy in Action Around the World, Francis Dupuis-Deri, 2013, PM Press pmpress.org

The Watcher, Nicholas P. Oakley, 2014, See Sharp Press, SeeSharpPress.com (Sci-fi)

The End of the World As We Know it?: Crisis, Resistance, & the Age of Austerity, edited by Deric Shannon, 2014, AK press, akpress.org


Fifth Estate Collective
Introduction to Anti-Marx Section


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 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.


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.


Murray Bookchin
The Myth of The Party Murray Bookchin’s classic exposure of the authoritarian and counter-revolutionary nature of the Leninist party

This is an excerpt of Murray Bookchin’s 1969 pamphlet Listen, Marxist! A longer version appeared in the May 1976 Fifth Estate, which is available in our archives at FifthEstate.org.

“[The essay that follows] is not a series of hypothetical inferences; it is a composite sketch of all the mass Marxian parties of the past century--the Social Democrats, the communists, and the Trotskyists.


Kevin O’Toole
Throwing Marx Out with the Bathwater?

a review of

The Tyranny of Theory: A Contribution to the Anarchist Critique of Marxism by Ronald D. Tabor. Black Cat Press, 2013, 349 pages, $30.00

In The Tyranny of Theory, Ronald Tabor is adamant that anarchists need to hold Marxists accountable for the historical record of Marxist regimes. He writes, “these regimes represent the underlying logic of Marxism, and the efforts of Marxists and Marxist organizations to create revolutionary societies in the future (should they get a chance) will, in all likelihood, lead to similar systems.”


Joseph Winogrond
How Slick-City-Boy-Karly Got the Country-Folk Killed Marx praised the emerging bourgeoisie for developing capitalist production.

Nature played a big part in the 1960s Revolution, more than just flower-power and communes. Many of us left the city for natural living, for our physical and mental well-being. We sought freedom from a mercantile world of wage-slavery. We read Mother Earth News. Gardens were planted; fields were cultivated. New ideas of untainted healthy food flourished together with a new-born environmentalism and deep ecology. The chauvinism of the 1950s was confronted by movements of peace, civil rights, women’s rights, environmental rights, consumer rights and so on.


John Zerzan
The Practical Marx Marx as opportunist & reformist politician

Karl Marx is always approached as so many thoughts, so many words. What connection is there between lived choices--one’s willful lifetime--and the presentation of one’s ideas? By 1846 Marx and Engels had written The German Ideology, which contains the full and mature ideas of the materialist concept of the progress of history. Along with this tome were the practical activities in politics. In terms of his Communist Correspondence Committee and its propaganda work, Marx (also in 1846) stated: “There can be no talk at present of achieving communism; the bourgeoisie must first come to the helm.”


Lily So-too
Under the wall

Lily So-too, What do they do to you? (oil on canvas, 72 by 72 inches, 2004)

Take me to

where my heart is sunken

deep into the land

stepped on, kicked, trampled, thought

nothing of,

to the place where people don’t know that

it is even there,

supporting their weight.

Let me love them anyway.

i am not divided from myself

let me feel the ache of the person

struggling to keep alive at the hands of another person

and under a mechanized system

designed to grind her back into stardust

mine is the same body and breath

that give her

material right to be, to exist.


Margaret Killjoy
The Fall of Ekset City Fiction

Ekset City was on fire. Flares and napalm and hammers and bullets and the angry minds of angry men were tearing through three hundred years of architecture and three thousand years of culture. At the center of the city, a bonfire engulfed the seven pillars of Ekset. A frightful horde of humans paraded through, warming their hands on the pyre of victory and sacrificing every trace of goblin culture to the consuming flames. Black smoke rose up so thick and high it fought against the glory of the sun.


David Adams
Women: Marx’s Forgotten Proletariat Silvia Federici’s Critique of Marx

While Marx developed some important tools for building a critique of capitalism from the perspective of the worker, he did not devote much thought to capital’s exploitation of women.

In Caliban and the Witch, Silvia Federici critically revisits the transition from feudalism to capitalism, the historical analysis of which plays a significant role in Capital.


Bill Blank
A Brief Story of The Clash, Radio & the Fifth Estate Book review

a review of

Stealing All Transmissions: The Secret History of The Clash by Randal Doane, Foreword by Barry “The Baker” Auguste, 2014, PM Press, 192 pp. $15.95 pmpress.org

In December 1979, after stumbling through my first trimester at Michigan State University, I took the allotted three weeks off in suburban Detroit. While the media began priming the struggling city as host of the upcoming Republican National Convention (and a probable Ronald Reagan presidency), a vague desperation overtook me, to search for alternatives, first on the radio and then in the press.


Andrew William Smith
Live TV or Die Primitivism on TV!

a review of

Live Free or Die. National Geographic Cable Channel

While I love the peace and challenges of backwoods camping, I admit that I don’t engage with them that often, and when I have, the thin lines between adventure and annoyance, between serenity and boredom, barely exist.

If you want to see a person with an intellectual critique of civilization get infatuated with civilization’s creature comforts, watch their most intimate reactions to home-cooked meals and hot showers after a few days or even weeks roughing it in the woods.


Riots, Revolt & the Black Bloc Book review

a review of

I Saw Fire: Reflections on Riots, Revolt and the Black Bloc by Doug Gilbert. Institute for Experimental Freedom, 2014, $10. 204 pp. littleblackcart.com

I’ve often found myself frustrated by the lack of worthwhile media projects that accurately capture how anarchists struggle. Doug Gilbert’s I Saw Fire: Reflections on Riots, Revolt and the Black Bloc is the kind of book that you can hand to people encountering anarchist resistance for the first time.