Paul J. Comeau
Everything you thought you knew about human history is wrong, and here’s why Book Review

A review of Debt: The First 5,000 Years by David Graeber. Melville House Publishing, 534 pages, hardcover, $32.00

It takes a particularly special kind of writer to tackle a subject as nebulous as the history of debt. However, none seems better suited to the task than David Graeber.

Debt, perhaps Graeber’s most powerful and deeply subversive work to date, grapples with one of the oldest economic and moral conundrums in human history, that of money’s unique capacity to “turn morality into a matter of impersonal arithmetic--and by doing so, to justify things that would otherwise seem outrageous or obscene.”


Paul Buhle
Is syndicalism outdated? Book Review

a review of

Ours to Master and to Own: Workers’ Control from the Commune to the Present Edited by Immanuel Ness and Dario Azzellini. Chicago, Haymarket Books, 2011, 417pp, $19

Syndicalism, the love child of socialism (or Marxism) and anarchism, seems to be badly outdated, or is it?

The idea that the working class could overthrow capitalism and the state through a general strike, and administer a new society through workers councils reached a peak popularity shortly before the outbreak of the First World War, but sunk rapidly thereafter. It was sometimes criticized as the propensity of highly skilled workers, but actually it was the faith of the lower levels (especially in the Industrial Workers of the World, if rarely called syndicalism by them).


Paul J. Comeau
Johnny Spanish “Dissent” Music Review

The past few years have seen an explosion in politically conscious hip-hop, with many artists like Rebel Diaz and Final Outlaw gaining widespread recognition for their affiliation with Occupy Wall Street and other social justice causes.


Add to this list another up and coming emcee, Johnny Spanish, whose free mix tape Dissent can be found online. Originally from Louisville, Kentucky, but currently living in Brooklyn, Spanish says Dissent “[was] heavily influenced by my anarchist beliefs and was my first real foray into explaining my philosophy.”


Fifth Estate Collective
Revolution as Spectacle Book Review

A review of

Venezuela: Revolution as Spectacle by Rafael Uzcategui, Introduction by Octavio Alberola, Translated by Chaz Bufe, Tucson, See Sharp Press, 2011, 232 pages;

FE Note: What follows isn’t strictly speaking a review. The one we had intended didn’t materialize, so we are reprinting this from the Venezuelan anarchist publication, El Libertario, where much of Rafael Uzcatequi’s writings appear, and whose themes are echoed in this book.


Fran Shor
Rise and Fall Global Competition, Conflict, and Realignment in an Era of Declining U. S. Hegemony and China’s Rising Power

A defining historical feature of the decline of specific empires in the world capitalist system has been the conflict surrounding the emergence of a successor. The United States and Germany engaged in a protracted struggle in the first half of the twentieth century to determine which country would replace Great Britain as the dominant power.


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.


Fifth Estate Collective
Anarchist Summer Reading Read a book this summer. Then pass it on.

In a by-gone era, summers were when people took two week vacations and sat on the beach with an escapist novel to forget the world of work and obligations.

The books reviewed here contain the opposite of an escape: they ask the reader to become engaged with a world facing collapse on a multitude of levels, and with the critical task of knowing what we want and how to get it.


Bernard Marszalek
Anarchy for Kids A Review of Colin Ward’s Essays

A review of Autonomy, Solidarity, Possibility: The Colin Ward Reader

Damian White (Editor), Chris Wilbert (Editor), and Colin Ward, Paperback, 375pages, AK Press (Edinburgh, Oakland, Baltimore), 2011, $21.95

This large collection of essays by Colin Ward, his last publishing effort before he died last year at the age of 84, affords those who know him only as the author of the ever-popular Anarchy in Action (now in print for almost 40 years!) with an in-depth view of his many interests.


Peter Werbe
Cara Hoffman Interview

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.


Marieke Bivar
Creating a Community Against Abuse

A review of The Revolution Starts at Home: Confronting Intimate Violence Within Activist Communities, Edited by Ching-In Chen, Jai DuLani, and Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha, Preface by Andrea Smith. South End Press, 2011, 325 pp, $16

The Revolution Starts at Home is a series of articles, accounts, and discussions aimed at not only dealing with the aftermath of abuse, but also challenging the underlying institutions and values that perpetuate abuse and violence. The aim of the anti-violence movement, as Rebecca Farr of Communities Against Rape and Abuse (CARA) writes, is to “create a world where so many people are walking around with the skills and knowledge to support one another that there is no longer the need for anonymous hotlines.”


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,”

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.”


Fifth Estate Collective
Donations to Support Marie Mason Important Change

All donations for Marie Mason should be sent to

Support Marie Mason,

c/o Fifth Estate,

POB 201016,

Ferndale MI 48220.

Checks should be made out to Support Marie Mason.

Funds are used for her prison expenditures, plus support material such as t-shirts, leaflets and brochures to publicize the injustice of Marie’s sentence, provide travel stipends, and expenses for her pro bono lawyers.


Paul J. Comeau
Paul Goodman’s Last Testament

A review of New Reformation: Notes of a Neolithic Conservative by Paul Goodman, PM Press, 194 pages, trade paperback, $20.00

Although Paul Goodman established himself as one of the most influential thinkers of the 20th century, by the end of his life the anarchist philosopher felt dissatisfied with the direction of the political movements his writings had inspired.


David Widgington
The Power of Art Should Never be Underestimated

A review of The Listener: Memory, Lies, Art, Power, A Graphic Novel by David Lester, Arbeiter Ring Publishing, 2011, 310 pp, $19.95; distributed by AK Press,

All works of art, regardless of their form, offer a message to their audience. Some may be conceived as more deliberate acts of communication, while others allow room for nuanced interpretation. As a political tool, art can even inspire an audience to risk their own lives or take the lives of others in the name of social change.


Yasmin Nair
Ryan Conrad
Karma R. Chavez

Against Equality: Don’t Ask to Fight Their Wars! Repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell means gays can now fight openly in the Empire’s wars

The iconic scene of a Navy sailor kissing a nurse following the Japanese surrender in 1945 is depicted in this statue, tellingly entitled, “Unconditional Surrender.” The three-ton sculpture is on loan to New York City from the Santa Monica Midway Museum since 2007, and sits in Times Square. It will soon be replaced by a permanent bronze version in December. Donations will cover the $1 million price tag. Rather than a surrender, the act today would be considered a sexual assault.


Fifth Estate Collective
Call For Submissions: Education

For: Fifth Estate, Fall 2012

Deadline: August 1

Publication date: September 5

Fall is the traditional time when students resume their studies. At present, there are tuition strikes, austerity strikes, student loan debt crises, and other dilemmas regarding education playing out in the public arena. For much of mainstream society, even the very value and meaning of education is now in question.


Bjorn Gay
Corvid College: Public Fire Anarchy goes to college and no debt when you leave.

Is this a class? It is at Corvid College.

Forty-two years ago, philosopher Ivan Illich wrote, “I also believe that the end of the ‘age of schooling’ could usher in the epoch of a global schoolhouse that would be distinguishable only in name from a global madhouse or a global prison in which education, correction, and adjustment became synonymous.”


Kelly Pflug-Back
G20 Gender Violence Police Attacks at the 2010 Toronto Demonstrations Targeted Women

Under the Canadian Criminal code, violence is not defined as a gendered issue. When a girl or woman is physically or sexually attacked, the act is subsumed under sections 244–246, which define assault, assault with a weapon, aggravated assault, sexual assault and aggravated sexual assault.

Removed from their social and historical context, acts of violence against women appear to be a spontaneous phenomenon whose perpetrators lack any definite motivation besides anger or lack of self control. This lack of context also removes political accountability from the social norms and legislature that enable gender-motivated violence.


John Clark
Occupy New Orleans Fights Off the authoritarian Left to defend Horizontalism

Anarchists lead the way in a May Day march. Authoritarian leftists tried to intervene in Occupy New Orleans but were rebuffed. --photo: N. Krebill

It was encouraging to see large numbers of anarchists and anti-authoritarians at a late March Occupy New Orleans General Assembly (OccupyNOLA). As one of the participants mentioned, Occupy is in many ways the most significant grassroots uprising since the Vietnam Era.


Fifth Estate Collective
Occupy the Future It’s us or them. For almost all of state society, except for a few precious moments, it’s been them.

They’ve wrecked the earth, destroyed her treasures, and inflicted misery on the many, all so they can golf or set up their lawn chairs on some clear cut forest. It’s over whether we do anything or not, but if we fail to act, the future will metastasize into the wreckage colonization always leaves in its collapse.


Benjamin Shepard
Return to Liberty Square Occupy Wall Street, the COOLS, and the Cultural Resistance of Story Telling

Demonstrator at a May Day demonstration in Tunis, Tunisia holding an English language sign. The Fifth Estate first publicized the slogan but stole it from Terry Southern’s The Magic Christian. Photo: Fedele Spadafora

Early this year, people involved with the Occupy Wall Street movement in New York City started talking about the COOLS, the Cultural Occupation of Liberty Square. The point was to get as many people possible back into Zuccotti Park, dubbed Liberty Square, where the movement began. The police carried out a mass eviction from the lower Manhattan park in November.


John F. Royal
Snitch Gets a Reduced Term Another Prison Sentence in Marie Mason Case



The Never Alone national tour hit 30 cities in April, speaking to hundreds about long-term anarchist prisoner support. It focused on the cases of Eric McDavid and Marie Mason, using multimedia presentations and included strategizing about how to effectively encourage a culture of resistance and support. Above, from the left, Jason, Jenny, Ian, and released political prisoner, Jeff “Free” Luers at a tour stop at the University of Oregon in Eugene, Ore., April 26. Photo from The tour raised nearly $7,000 after expenses which will be split between McDavid and Mason support groups. To offer support, donate, or get information about the cases, go to</em> and Info on the tour at


John Zerzan
Vagaries of the Left John Zerzan answers liberal columnist Chris Hedges, who charges the Black Bloc has “hi-jacked” the Occupy Movement.

On February 6, progressive columnist Chris Hedges wrote a fairly predictable attack on Black Bloc militancy, “The Cancer in Occupy,” in Truthdig, the on-line news site.

It voiced, in general, the perspective of the liberal-moderate-reformist folks who have been mostly predominant in Occupy. Hedges’ screed against anarchists and others who “go too far” shows just what anti-authoritarians have been up against and why so few of them, in my experience, have been interested in Occupy.


Jim Feast
Anarchism and the Anti-Authoritarian Personality Is there a distinct anarchist personality type? Is there a discernible one among the marginally employed?

All generalizations founder on the rock of their exceptions, but can it be said that certain definable character structures emanate from one’s political philosophy or position within capital’s work apparatus?

It is instructive that literary praise for the recently deceased, internationally acclaimed, Chilean author, Roberto Bolano, concentrate exclusively on his depiction of mysterious authors and texts, overlooking an equally prominent, political component of his work.


John Hardin
Financial Advice for the Working Class: Unemployment Don’t have a job? Most people think this is a disaster. Could it be the context for a post-capitalist society?

You can’t turn on the news these days without hearing about unemployment. The national unemployment rate hovers at about 8.3 percent, although experts agree that the number of people outof-work far exceeds that figure.

The 8.3 percent figure only reflects the number of people actually looking for work. It does not count the growing number of people who have stopped looking for work.


Kelly Pflug-Back
Survival of the Fittest? Tribal people took care of their own better than modern society.

The concept of history is far from neutral. Under the monopoly of elites, narratives of the past can be erased, rewritten and taken out of their original context according to their needs.

Dominant concepts of history are often used to justify social inequalities by portraying them as natural rather than constructed. We are led to believe that groups who lack power in today’s cultures have always lacked power, that inferiority is their natural state, and that there is no alternative social structure where freedom and equality could be achieved by all.


Jonny Ball
The Quadrennial Electoral Fraud There’s an alternative between Obama and Romney, but it’s not at the polls

Occasionally, the liberal-democratic system nobly affords us the chance to select our representatives from a shallow gene-pool of political management professionals.

Save for this transient moment in the ballot booth, we’re separated from the exclusive franchise of governance altogether. Voting is our only momentary and tenuous connection to the establishment. Best to leave power and responsibility up to the professionals; the experts, the think-tanks, policy-wonks, lobbyists and journalists.


Fifth Estate Collective
‘Unthinkable’ exhibit


Pictured at right are Federico Arcos, Fifth Estate comrade, and veteran of the Spanish anarchist militias of the 1930s, with Julie Herrada, April 7, at Hamtramck, Michigan’s 2739 Gallery, during the opening of the exhibit, ‘Unthinkable,’ a display of artifacts from the collection of Fredy and Lorraine Perlman. Featured were posters and publications from Paris 1968, and from ones produced at Detroit’s Print Co-op, as well as a first French edition of Debord’s Society of the Spectacle, and a floor-to-ceiling display of huge timeline sheets for Perlman’s, The Strait.


Various Authors
Letters to the editor

All formats accepted including typescript & handwritten. Letters may be edited for length.

Send letters via email to or Fifth Estate, P.O. Box 201016, Ferndale MI 48220

Youth Sexualization

In your Spring 2012 issue, reviewer Paul Comeau questions Paul Goodman’s “advocating the sexualization of adolescents and children.” (see “The Anarchist Writings of Paul Goodman”).


Fifth Estate Collective
Issue Intro Exciting times for Fifth Estate

At a time when everyone is declaring the death of print media, our magazine, now in its 47th year, is not only alive, but prospering. We have many new subscribers, new staff, more renewals, increased newsstand sales, and an exciting new look. We ran out of our last issue on Revolution and are increasing our press run for this edition.


Ron Sakolsky
Why be so Attached to your Penis? A fellow creature that gives new meaning to the phrase, “going both ways”

Download MS Word .doc [29 kb] fe-389-13-Why-Penis

“I haven’t seen anything like this before.”

-- Bernard Picton, Curator of Marine Invertebrates, National Museum of Northern Ireland

Could the surreal imagination of even Karel Capek in his most bitingly satirical novel, War With The Newts, ever have conceived of a game-changer the likes of chromodoris reticulata, a red and white sea slug that can actually shed its own penis after mating and then replenish said appendage the very next day.


Dave Not Bombs
Recipe for Change

a review of

Hungry for Peace: How you can help end poverty and war with Food Not Bombs by Keith McHenry. See Sharp Press, Tucson, 2012, 180 pp., $18.95

Even after three decades of Food Not Bombs (FNB) volunteers sharing meals, smiles and good times with anyone who happens to pass by, the authorities still don’t seem very inclined to give members of the direct action anti-hunger group their proper respect.


Penelope Rosemont
Time & Reality

a review of

None of This Is Real by Miranda Mellis, Sidebrow Books, San Francisco, 2012, 115 pp., $18,

Leonora Carrington, the great surrealist creator of paintings and stories, is quoted as saying, “The duty of the right eye is to plunge into the telescope, whereas the left eye interrogates the microscope.”


Fifth Estate Collective
W W A D What Would Anarchists Do?



Anarchy 101</em>, edited by Dot Matrix, is a crowd-sourced introduction to anarchist ideas. The content comes from the website, which poses and answers ongoing questions it receives. They represent the best responses from dozens of contributors to hundreds of queries about the “Beautiful Idea: this thing called anarchy,” as Ardent Press, the book’s publisher, puts it. See


Robert Joe Stout
Mexico: Realities of Tourism Behind the curtain lies the real country visitors rarely see

As happens frequently in Mexico, police responded to a 2006 protest in the city of Oaxaca by
indiscriminately beating demonstrators and bystanders.

“Leave us your money and go home” isn’t published in Mexico’s tourist propaganda, but is the underlying theme behind promoting maquilado Mexico (“Mexico cosmeticized”).


Ron Sakolsky
Occupying the Citadels of the Mind A Review of Two Insurgent Documents from the Frontlines of Educational Revolt (2009–2012)

a review of

After the Fall: Communiques from Occupied California by Aragorn! Edited by Little Black Cart Books, Berkeley, 2010. This free newsprint publication is presently out of print, but can be downloaded at

One of the key essays, “We Are The Crisis,” appears in Occupy Everything: Anarchists in the Occupy Movement, 2009 2011 by Aragorn!, Little Black Cart Books, Berkeley, 2012, 258pp, $15


Megan Kinch
Toronto’s Free School It Takes A Community

Anarchist experiments in education in the Toronto area reflect a history of brief spaces carved out from commercialism, of flowerings of liberation followed by the seeds of the next project to emerge.

Experiments in popular education or free schools have often co-existed with experiments in collective living, and have also been tied to particular waves of activism, following radical Brazilian educator Paulo Freire’s theories that liberation education only works when tied to a project of human liberation in general. Anarchist movements in urban areas, like Toronto and nearby cities, thrive in spaces at once marginal and central, and freeschools have emerged along with them.


Paul J. Comeau
William Gibson: unintended prophet of our digital future

a review of

Distrust That Particular Flavor by William Gibson. G.P. Putnam’s Sons, New York. Hardcover, 259 Pages, $26.95

For over thirty years William Gibson has been the unintended prophet of our digital future. The award-winning author of Neuromancer, Virtual Light, and a string of other best-selling science fiction novels, Gibson’s writings have not only presaged the future in many ways, but also serve as critiques on the present in which they were written.


Kate Smash
Esther Martin

New Orleans Free School Network We are all students. We are all teachers.

“In the New Orleans Free School Network, people are there because they want to be. There are no grades, people are free to participate, but they don’t have to.”

This is how John Clark, Loyola University professor, activist, and a network founding organizer, understands the difference between traditional education and the alternative he and others established in 2010.


Marike Reid-Gaudet
Unschooling and Free Schools So education can begin

I’m interested in unschooling because it’s an applied philosophy rather than a teaching method. This philosophy, which I strive to use daily with my son, who is now 16 years old, is also the one used in free schools. For me, this approach to life and to children’s’ development encourages independence, confidence, and pleasure in living. Experiencing unschooling with my son has permitted us to go beyond the simple accumulation of knowledge.


Bruce E. Levine
Anti-Authoritarian Personalities & Standard Schools Are “Behavior Problems” More Accurately Rebellion Against Authority?

Mark Twain, one of America’s most beloved anti-authoritarians, gave young people sound advice: “Never let your schooling get in the way of your education.” Do most schools teach us:

* To be self-directed--or directed by others?

* That relationships should be respectful--or manipulated by rewards and punishments?


Norman Nawrocki
The Orchestra

7:58 pm

in this quiet, working class

Montreal residential neighbourhood

the orchestra starts

one person

walks slowly down her stairs

sets a solitary rhythm

taps a pot with an egg beater

looks around hopefully

8 pm

half way down the block

a smiling grandfather

and his shy teen grandson

leave their apartment


Maria Forti
Becca Yu

The Quebec Student Strike Red Squares, Black Flags And Casseroles

March in support of the 2012 Quebec student strike. Banner reads, “When injustice is the law; resistance is our duty.’

The 2012 Quebec student general strike lasted for six months, between February and September. Participation peaked at around 300,000 out of 420,000 university and CEGEP (junior colleges) students in the province. During the high points, demonstrations took to the streets multiple times daily with growing militancy met with rampant police violence, especially during marches taking place after dark.


A short history of schools

The word school comes from the Latin word schola meaning “free time consecrated to learning,” an institution idealized by the philosophers and ideologues and perceived as being a socially valued category, in opposition to the sphere of manual or productive labor.

In early civilizations, school was created by scribes and other government functionaries who occupied religious and administrative posts. Among the ancient Greeks, school had the purpose of training future soldiers before it was transformed to teach philosophy and rhetoric by the Sophists for the children of the rich who would never have to work.


Fifth Estate Collective
Call for Submissions for FE #389

Deadline: April 15

Issue Theme: Sex

Your ideas for news articles, essays, and art are welcome. Submit manuscripts for short pieces and proposals for longer essays, along with graphics and photographs to: or Fifth Estate, PO Box 201016, Ferndale, MI 48220, USA. Please put “Submission 389” on the subject line of email.

John Zerzan
Industrialism and its discontents the Luddites and their inheritors

Download PDF [174 KB] fe-389-19-industrialism-and-its-discontents

Nearly two hundred years ago, Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley gave us a classic warning about the hubris of technology’s combat against nature. Her late Gothic novel, Frankenstein, or the Modern Prometheus (1818), depicts the revenge nature takes upon the presumption of engineering life from the dead. Victor Frankenstein and his creation perish, of course; his “Adam” is as doomed as he is. If this monster cannot be saved by his father/creator, however, today’s cyborg/robot/Artificial Intelligence products do expect to be saved. For those at the forefront of technological innovation today, there will be no return to a previous, monster-free state.


Fifth Estate Collective
Schools: Kicking the Animal Out of You Education Theme Intro

Fifth Estate staffer, playwright, and madcap prankster, the late Pat Halley, once wrote in these pages, “The purpose of education is to kick the animal out of you.” That is, to make individuals conform to a society based on constraint of one’s desires and autonomy. This is true to one degree or another of every culture although within the modern state and capitalist social order, this is carried out to the extreme by the necessities of their definitions.


John Zerzan
The Sea Last remaining lair of unparalleled wildness. Too big to fail?

The whole world is being objectified, but Melville reminds us of all that remains. “There you stand, lost in the infinite series of the sea.” What could be more tangible, more of a contrast with being lost in the digital world, where we feel we can never properly come to grips with anything?

Oceans are about time more than space, “as if there were a correlation between going deep and going back,” he writes. The Deep is solemn; linking, in some way, all that has come before. Last things and first things. “Heaven,” by comparison, is thin and faintly unserious.


What do we learn in school that couldn’t be learned elsewhere?

Why do we send our kids to school? We’ve been told that it is in elementary school that the bases of learning to read, write, and do math are acquired, although anyone who spends any time with children can clearly see that children want to learn what we do. They want to learn to read if they see us reading, to write if they see us writing, and to count if they see us counting.


Miles Pouchez
Drones Terminators guided by algorithms

A July 13, 2012 New York Times article, “That’s No Phone. That’s My Tracker,” by Peter Maass, suggests that we should consider smartphones, computers, and other connected devices as tracking machines rather than appliances of personal convenience.

The manufacturers of these now ubiquitous gadgets claim that aggregating data about individuals favors the consumer, so when you visit a web page, it might display ads relevant to your tastes and needs. But it’s widely speculated that far more sinister use is made of this information--that the government enjoys a cozy relationship with the private data gatherers, that information can and will be used against us, and/ or to the advantage of the military-industrial complex.