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Various Authors
Letters

Send letters to fe — AT — fifthestate — DOT — org or Fifth Estate, POB 201016, Ferndale MI 48220.

All formats accepted including typescript & handwritten.

Letters may be edited for length.

SEXUALLY DIMORPHIC

My partner brought home a copy of The Anarchist Review of Books and I wanted so much to love it.

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Fifth Estate Collective
Issue intro

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This issue’s theme, “What’s Next? Demand the Impossible,” is a challenge to all our imaginations.

We live in a world faced with the scourge of a plague, and in a country that is an armed madhouse with a good portion of its population seemingly gone off the rails with fascist rage and white fear.

What appears in these pages is nothing like a blueprint for where or how to focus our energies. We know well what we don’t want and what doesn’t work. In general, we know that creating alternative communities of resistance is what brings results and can provide a model of the world we desire.

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Fifth Estate Collective
Masthead

The Fifth Estate

Radical Publishing since 1965

FIFTH ESTATE #409, Summer, 2021, Vol. 56 No. 2, page 3

The Fifth Estate is an anti-profit, anarchist project published by a volunteer collective of friends and comrades. www.FifthEstate.org

No ads. No copyright. Kopimi — reprint freely

Fifth Estate Collective
Unfuck the World

Unfuck the World, says the sign on this page and the next. It isn’t just a one-off, rude slogan held by someone justifiably angry at the state of things.

It stems from the 2017 rap/rock song of that name by The Prophets of Rage, a band comprised of members of Rage Against the Machine, Public Enemy, and Cypress Hill. It’s an anthem for what has become a worldwide movement that will host its 9th annual UTW Day, September 18.

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Philippe Pernot
Direct Action Creates Community Unfuck the climate: Occupy the forests!

Anarchist utopias are alive and well, not only in Chiapas or Rojava but also in the heart of capitalist Europe. In Germany, police repression and gentrification have dealt a decisive blow to traditional anarchist strongholds like Berlin, with numerous free spaces closed down since the pandemic started.

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Steve Welzer
The Path to Change: Community

The movement for social change must be comprehensive and multi-dimensional. There is no simple Solution and no single Best Way to get from here to there.

But there has recently been a shift of sentiment regarding where and how our efforts for social change are most likely to be rewarded. Individuals and families, increasingly atomized within mass society, lack the resources and leverage to have that much of an impact. At the other end of the spectrum, the dominate institutions (corporations, government agencies, large universities, non-profits, etc.) possess institutional inertia to a degree that frustratingly impedes change.

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Ben Olson
Music & Domestication Hope lies with those musicians who resist

We need to affirm the value of music, especially undomesticated music, particularly during the social deprivations of the current pandemic. The past year has been a blur of social isolation, sheltering-in-place, and lockdowns.

The muted horrors of 2020 and beyond have led to increasingly isolated pleasures, fearful desires, little moments of secret forgetting (or seeking forgetting), private escapes that often only exacerbate the effects of being alone and afraid. In this situation, for many people, the experience of media, watching movies, reading, or listening to music, becomes a coveted refuge, a vain attempt at relaxation and respite from constant, only half-acknowledged anxiety, a survivors’ kit for augmenting the effects of collectively (though unevenly) distributed, and privately suffered, cultural trauma. But the isolation of music, the intertwining of the musical experience with our increasing domestication, means that our attempts to heal may fall short.

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Noah Johnson
To Live as the Trees Do

In Peter Kropotkin’s 1902 Mutual Aid: A Factor of Evolution, countless examples are provided of cooperation among animals, countering the social Darwinist concept of ruthless competition as the framework for both nature and human society.

Yet a frustrating exception to the seemingly ubiquitous importance of mutual aid was the apparent hyper-individualism of plants. Kropotkin dismissed this as due to their immobility, thus making competition a requirement for their survival. It is true that plants seem quite solitary, each concerned exclusively for its own survival.

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Karen Pickett
Revolutionary Ecology 40 years of the Earth First! Journal

The direct action-oriented Earth First! radical environmental movement and its public-facing arm, the Earth First! Journal, turned 40 years old in 2020. And, 2020 almost killed the venerable Journal.

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An Earth First! direct action blockade to defend a forest

The scrappy and irreverent publication was plunged into pandemic and quarantine hell, as its volunteers and tiny staff at its office in southern Oregon, used to working collectively in person, passing around articles being edited, was suddenly in chaos, navigating through poor internet in rural Oregon and steering over other considerable bumps in the road.

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Eric Laursen
Only Change is Permanent

Critical theory is a bit like pornography, as a Supreme Court justice once said when asked to define the latter: “I know it when I see it.”

Critical theory can be defined pretty loosely as well. It’s the multitude of intellectual spin-offs from Marx that began to take flight roughly a hundred years ago, at about the time that Lenin and his acolytes thought they have codified what Orthodox Marxism was, forever.

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Fifth Estate Collective
Good-bye to the Draft?

The Selective Service Repeal Act of 2021 was introduced in Congress on April 14 with bipartisan support in both the House and the Senate. If this becomes law, registering for the hated draft will no longer be required.

The draft laws have always contradicted the 13th Amendment that forbids involuntary servitude. The draft laws are the worst kind, forcing citizens to do the dirty, and often criminal work of the government in its endless wars, almost all of which are based on lies.

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Bill Weinberg
Anarchy in Belarus Anti-authoritarian Voices in Uprising Against the Dictatorship

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The former Soviet republic of Belarus exploded into angry protests last August in the wake of contested presidential elections resulting in a totally implausible landslide victory for long-ruling strongman Alexander Lukashenko. Police, riot squads and army troops unleashed harsh repression, using rubber bullets, flash-bang grenades and water-hoses against demonstrators who objected to the results in the capital of Minsk and other cities.

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Steven Cline
Future Shock: 2077

The prisons? Open. The army? Disbanded. And much more, besides.

Capitalism’s debraining machines have ceased all their debraining. Capitalism’s debraining machines lay rusty kudzu covered dead gone utterly forgotten.

It’s a love sex & shamanism world now, baby, yeah it’s everywhere ya look. Here, now, in this strange and marvelous and most lackadaisical of places—we all wear masks. Cuz we’re tricksters, kiddo, cuz we’re Monkey cuz we’re Crow. The ol’ Br’er Rabbit, reincarnated. But these masks of futurekind, they aren’t like any old mask that you knew from the waybackwhen, no siree.

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Jess Flarity
She Exists Only to Please Sexbot Take-over

Love dolls. Robo-whores. Slutbots. Synthetic options. Whatever you call the life-sized Barbies made by California-based Abyss Creations and other companies around the world, these 70-lb, orifice-slotted mannequins have one primary purpose: to be the ever-obedient, surrogate sexual partners of their owners, which are almost always men.

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Kim A. Broadie
Letter from the Trenches Can Schools Teach Freedom?

The late David Graeber perhaps said it best. “Bureaucracy has become the water in which we swim.”

For over 20 years, I was embedded within the New York City Board of Education as a licensed agent authorized to deploy weapons of mass instruction. These weapons were placed in our arsenal to control, and perhaps teach, but above all avoid scenes like the following, which happened just days after I started:

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Ania Aizman
From Tolstoy to Pussy Riot Teaching the History of Anarchism at the University of Michigan

In the fall of 2019, I taught a course at the University of Michigan: “Art and Anarchism: from Tolstoy to Pussy Riot.” The curriculum at the Ann Arbor, Michigan college concentrated on Russian anarchists, historic and contemporary, and was designed to be as accessible as possible even for those students with little knowledge of art, or Russia, or history, let alone anarchism.

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Martha Ackelsberg
Then and now The Spanish Revolution of 1936

July 19 marks the 85th anniversary of the Spanish Revolution.

This seems an opportune time, then, to reflect on multiple aspects of that revolution. It began as a response to an attempted right-wing military coup against the legally-elected left-wing government, unfolded in the midst of a brutal civil war, and came to an end with the victory of fascist armies in the spring of 1939.

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Octavio Alberola
Cuba: The Economy Changes The Authoritarian State Remains the Same

The Cuban state has usually been able to keep a tight lid on protests. Generally, it only allows demonstrations that have been organized by government ministries. However, during the fall and winter of 2020–21 the dissident San Isidro Movement in Havana began publicly defying the rules by demonstrating for freedom of expression for artists. The government responded with intimidation and even arrests.

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Max Cafard
Deserving the Best The Continuing Appeal of Surrealism

a review of

Surrealism: Inside the Magnetic Fields by Penelope Rosemont. City Lights Books 2020

I used to know an amazing old working-class philosopher (an electrician) and practical utopian who had a wonderful phrase to sum up his inspired anarchism: “We deserve the best.”

“The best” means, as Penelope Rosemont shows in this book, what the surrealists call “the marvelous,” a world of beauty, joy, and goodness. “We,” means everybody, of course.

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Sunfrog (Andy “Sunfrog” Smith)
Summer on Fire In 1967, it was the Summer of Love in San Francisco. In Detroit, it was a Summer on Fire.

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a review of

Summer on Fire: A Detroit Novel by Peter Werbe. Black & Red 2021

Summer on Fire, a debut novel from long time Fifth Estate staff member, Peter Werbe, takes place during seven weeks in 1967, the year I was born, during the months I lived in my radical mama’s belly. So, I definitely need the narrator’s front seat to those tumultuous times.

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Ngu Thi Yen
A Red Country (poem)

My country’s red, long so I was told

Victories, a star glows

Flag crimson, glorious so

Vanguard leads, the people follow.

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Red in sight, we have traded lives

Beat armies, lay siege to empires.

Red in mind, we have triumphed fights

Bathed rivals in blood and plight.

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Why today I see but grey

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Sean Alan Cleary
1984 Still Knocking at Our Door George Orwell’s haunting tale takes on new power in this graphic novel

a review of

1984: The Graphic Novel: George Orwell, Adapted & illustrated by Fido Nesti. HMH 2021

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It might be that everyone has something to say about George Orwell’s 1984. It’s not only a perennial favorite among curriculum builders in American high schools, but also a ubiquitous shortcut for political meaning.

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S. Laplage
A Sacco and Vanzetti Mystery with a Modern Twist

a review of

Suosso’s Lane by Robert Knox (Web-e-Pub 2016). web-e-books.com/suosso/paperback.html

During the Red Scare following World War I, Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti were the perfect candidates for judicial murder. Italian, immigrants, and anarchists.

They were convicted in 1921 of murdering a paymaster and a guard during an armed robbery at the Slater and Morrill Shoe Company in Braintree, Massachusetts. Although their innocence became increasingly evident, they were executed in the electric chair in 1927. Mass demonstrations protesting the trial and the verdict took place across North America and the world.

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William R. Boyer
Death Squad Thy Name is FBI

a review of

Judas and the Black Messiah

Director: Shaka King 2hr 6m (2021)

“You can kill a revolutionary, but you can’t kill a revolution.”

—Fred Hampton, 1969

But what if killing a revolutionary does kill a revolution?

—Curious Film Critic

Until recently, few high school social studies classes, let alone the general adult population, ever stumbled upon COINTELPRO, state terrorism, or Fred Hampton, the last of four prominent African American leaders assassinated during the 1960s, after Medgar Evers, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King. As the mainstream seems even less aware of our essential protest past, perhaps Hollywood has oddly begun to fill a disturbing void.

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Carrie Laben
The Booksellers of our Better Nature

New York City. March 2020, the first days of the crisis that would define the year. The words “mutual aid” began to appear where they’d not been seen before, from lamp post flyers to Reddit neighborhood forums.

Everyone from New York Governor Andrew Cuomo to Britney Spears was using the expression. Loosely organized groups ran errands and made deliveries. Friends sewed masks for friends, then for friends of friends. And well before the summer’s boiling-over of righteous rage at police brutality, sustained protests attempted to hold Cuomo and the prison system accountable for leaving incarcerated at-risk people in facilities like Rikers Island, which became a hotspot for COVID.

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Fifth Estate Collective
Art in the Fifth Estate

Images that appear in our pages are separate statements on the subject addressed in an article.

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P. 29 Lars van Dooren is a Brooklyn-based artist. He is a 2020 Frederieke Sanders-Taylor Studio Projects Fund grant recipient. arsvandooren.com.

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P. 20 Carla Repice’s work investigates systems of oppression and memory, and probes the effects of racism and dehumanization on the human psyche. She has an MFA in performance art, and studied painting and feminist theory at The Lorenzo de Medici School of Art in Florence, Italy. She lives in New York City.

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Marieke Bivar
Diane di Prima (1934–2020) Beat Poet & Activist

Diane di Prima has died. Now we have no choice but to introduce her to each other, since she is no longer here to introduce herself.

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Diane Di Prima, 1960s

On paper, you could say, “she was a poet, she was a feminist, beatnik, anarchist, Buddhist.” You could list her famous friends and lovers. Promote her books, her poems, her art. But she was so many things.

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Penelope Rosemont
The Paris Commune, The Right To Be Lazy & Surrealism The People Ruled the City for Three Short Months

“Work, now? Never, never. I’m on strike.”

—Rimbaud

This year marks the 150th anniversary of the Paris Commune, an experiment in self-governance that is still inspiring today. It was born in response to the suffering caused by the Franco-Prussian War and the betrayals of the French central government.

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Tom Sykes
The Human Life Exchange Rate Mechanism Liberal Rights, Double Binds, the West, & the Rest

In our neoliberal societies, elites like to quantify the worth of human lives in various ways. A telling example is per capita GDP (Gross Domestic Product) that determines the economic contribution each citizen makes to a nation.

Such a view gives succor to Social Darwinists and free-market right-wingers. If some lives are more valuable than others in this formulation then why should those of lower value be aided by the wider community? While few elite figures today would say things like this out loud, similar calculi tacitly inform many political decisions.

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Ernest Larsen
Prison Abolition It’s Time!

Through the uproar of the sustained near-uprisings of Covid summer 2020 against police violence and systemic racism, one could sometimes hear more radical voices. The assertion from them that everybody behind bars should be recognized as a political prisoner is no longer completely beyond consideration. If so, then it’s worth looking at how radical prisoners have conceptualized their experiences within the state’s institutionalization of punishment.

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