Fifth Estate Collective
Against Civilization: Intro to Russell Means reprint from FE #304, December 31, 1980

We were struck immediately by the similarities in the conclusions that Russell Means has reached and our own, in particular, in relation to the question of technology and a critique of Marxism.

We have been speaking as orphans and fragments, searching for roots and a tradition of resistance to civilization anywhere we can find them. We have embarked upon an adventure which began first of all with the criticism of all of our former presuppositions, that is, of Marxism and anarchism, technological progress, modern society, the functions of art and culture, workers’ organizations and self-organization, the existence and function of classes and other questions. We don’t claim to have resolved these fundamental problems, but we have headed in a general direction of rejection of the presuppositions of society in all its forms.


Fifth Estate Collective
Giving up the gun fetish Fifth Estate history

When small political groupings of people raise the possession of weapons to the level of military strategies and tactics, rather than the need for protecting their personal security, it usually guarantees the reverse.

By 1969, the Fifth Estate founder, feeling increasingly isolated by the radical fervor of the staff, quit the paper following his disagreement with a vote to print a front cover taken from a Cuban poster featuring an array of guns and the quintessential one-word slogan of revolutionary impatience, “NOW!,” in four-inch type.


E.B. Maple (Peter Werbe)
I’m Sticking With The Union? reprint from FE #347, Spring, 1996


“Hey! What are you guys doing here? You hate unions!”

--A strike supporter

The labor militant who aimed this question at us was surprised, almost shocked, to see a group whom she considers anarchists critical of unions, standing shoulder-to-shoulder with striking Teamsters and newspaper reporters, squaring off against the cops at a suburban Detroit printing plant late one night last summer.


Fifth Estate Collective
Music as Revolution Fifth Estate history

The Fifth Estate has, since its inception, been inspired by radical music and various collective members have composed, played, produced, and reviewed music. In the first issue, the lead story lamented that Bob Dylan had given up folk music for rock and roll. But soon, almost everyone had. For a long period from the late sixties through the early seventies, the paper was awash with news, reviews, promotion, and--even ads--for rock. Local bands, too numerous to name, but some of whom went on to be famous, eagerly volunteered to play benefits for the fledgling underground newspaper. Without their help, the publication might not have survived.


David Watson
Notes toward a history of the Fifth Estate Part 1: 1975–1981

“Only movement can know movement.”


Someday, if anything is left of any of this, and this epoch’s fascination with historical records and documentation endures, I imagine some historian, grad student, or amateur archivist will write a text detailing, accurately or less than so, the vicissitudes of the small group of friends and comrades in Detroit and elsewhere who have produced the FE. This task will probably have to fall to such a person, I fear. My original attempt to write something that was both memoir and intellectual history led to arguments not only about how the history should be presented, but about what happened. To paraphrase Yogi Berra, it was Rashomon all over again. Woe to anyone who tries to write the history of shared, intense activities.


Fifth Estate Collective
We Get A Computer and Hate It! reprint from FE #342, Summer, 1993

Until now, I’ve tried to avoid computers at all costs, but now having had this forced upon us, I’ve begun to consider what effect this will have on our publishing efforts and those of us who work on the paper. Upon beginning to learn their use, computers seem like fiendish apparatuses which order you about on their terms, not the reverse.


Don LaCoss
Zapping the Pyramid Notes on the history of an anti-authoritarian symbol.

The design shows a pyramid surmounted by an eye being blasted by a bolt of lightning. Bannered beneath the collapsing pyramid is the motto, “NON SERVIAM.”

If English, Spanish, Italian, or French is your native tongue, then you can probably guess the Latin translation: “I will not serve.” The phrase is taken from Paradise Lost (1674) by the radical poet of the English Revolution, John Milton, wherein the archangel Lucifer refuses to obey God and is cast into the frozen lake of Hell for his rebelliousness.


Fifth Estate Collective
Court Protest, July 1969


Outside the Detroit Recorder’s Court in July 1969, supporters gather at the trial of White Panther leader and former FE columnist John Sinclair. Comrades, who did not want their photos in any pig paper, flip the bird to Detroit Free Press photographer Tom Venaleck. Sinclair was sentenced to ten years for the possession of two joints of marijuana. Before he was released from prison in late 1971, he garnered international attention and support as a political prisoner. Three days before his release, 15,000 friends gathered for a benefit concert including Abbie Hoffman, Bobbie Seale, Ed Sanders, Allen Ginsberg, John Lennon and Yoko Ono, Phil Ochs, and Stevie Wonder.

Fifth Estate Collective
On Having Nothing to Say reprinted from FE #297, April 18, 1979

The long delay between this issue and the last resulted from a bout of cerebral paralysis which left us feeling empty of words and ideas. We mostly articulated this feeling to one another by stating rather aimlessly that perhaps “we no longer had anything to say,” which carried with it the vague suggestion that maybe we should even close up shop.


Bert Wirkes-Butuar (Peter Werbe)
Recycling & Liberal Reform reprint from FE #334, Summer 1990

On the one hand, fighting solely for reforms has historically had the function of affirming and extending the system’s power; while on the other, waiting only for the final revolutionary conflagration can dictate an isolated existence confined to issuing angry tracts denouncing everything.

When recycling becomes a permanent feature of the economy, it will probably be utilized mainly as a technique to deal with a significant portion of urban garbage, but in itself won’t stop the destruction of the natural world. All the recycling efforts in the country can’t stop the clear-cut logging of the remaining old-growth forests of the US Northwest when a conglomerate which bought out a logging firm with junk bonds needs quick cash to meet its debt service.


Walker Lane (Peter Werbe)
A Short History of our Offices as Autonomous Zones

Hakim Bey, whose writings frequently appear in these pages, is perhaps best known for his book the TAZ--temporary autonomous zone--that describes when normally domesticated space is liberated, if only for a moment, for festive and subversive moments of happiness.

In 1969, Leni Sinclair took this photo during a meeting at the Fifth Estate office at 1107 West Warren. Included are members of the White Panthers and the FE, yet we’re not sure what the meeting was about. Seated on the chair to the right is Diana Oughton of Motor City SDS, and later, the Weather Underground. Oughton died (with her comrades Terry Robbins and Ted Gold) on March 6, 1970 in a Greenwich Village townhouse, from an explosion likely caused by a bomb she was making.


Peter Werbe
History of the Fifth Estate: The Early Years

This article was originally written for our 30th anniversary edition which appeared in 1996. It has been updated and expanded for this issue.

“The Fifth Estate supports the cause of revolution everywhere.”

-- FBI Report

This nine-word summary by the nation’s secret police, I suspect, serves adequately as an abbreviated history of this paper on the occasion of its 40th anniversary. It is not due to an inflated sense of self-importance or radical nostalgia that people in the current Fifth Estate collective feel the story of our four decades of print should be recounted. Rather, it is because the history of this paper mirrored a period of large-scale rebellion throughout those years and continues today to give expression to a body of ideas which often finds little expression elsewhere.


Fifth Estate Collective
Letter to SDS reprinted from the Fifth Estate, July 31, 1969

Mark Rudd, National Secretary

Students for a Democratic Society

Brother Mark,

When SDS proposed having an action in Chicago October 11, focusing on anti- imperialism, we at The Fifth Estate felt that it had the potential of being a very heavy action and crucial to the growth of a revolutionary movement in this country.


Fifth Estate Collective
The Last FE as Capitalist Enterprise reprinted from FE #265, August, 1975

The newspaper you are now holding is the last issue of the Fifth Estate--the last issue of a failing capitalist enterprise, the last issue to appear in coin-boxes, and the last issue produced as a commodity dependent on advertising revenue for support, and the hiring of wage workers for its production.


Fifth Estate Collective
The Left and Sexual Repression reprinted from FE #270, March, 1976

The role of religion within authority’s Holy Trinity--the compulsive family, religion, and the State--with its blatant anti-sexual ideology and its historic record of service to totalitarianism, is easily understood as an institution of repression, and most revolutionaries quickly reject overt religious mysticism of all varieties.


John Sinclair
The People Own the City in Detroit Uprising reprint from Fifth Estate, July 1967

“Light My Fire” rises through the radio ranks for weeks and, when it hits number one on the stations, the people respond and burn the city down. Or play Archie Shepp’s “Fire Music” album as background music for the Detroit purification: the scope and feeling of the peoples’ mood is there--an elegy for Malcolm X.


John Sinclair
There is no ‘hippie movement’ and there are no ‘hippie leaders’ reprint from Fifth Estate, May 30, 1967

“Leaders” are created by the media image freaks and sold to the people to keep them happy. They have to have “leaders” or nothing could get done-why, they certainly couldn’t do it themselves. Or could they? The media exists to keep people from asking that question, and it has done a pretty good job of blinding them to their own absolute reality, that they are FREE and can do anything they want to, if they believe in it hard enough.


Fifth Estate Collective
The Rising of the Women reprint from Fifth Estate Women’s Issue, March 4–17, 1971

This issue of the Fifth Estate, [#126, March 4–17, 1971] appearing on the 61ist anniversary of International Women’s Day, is dedicated to all our sisters around the world. It is the product of the Fifth Estate staff, women from the Women’s Media Co-op, and women involved in other activities around the city.


Fifth Estate Collective
Un-Dewar’s Profiles Fifth Estate history

This poster appeared in the Fifth Estate, December 1976, vol. 12 no. 3 (279).


Un-Dewar’s Profiles

Leon F. Czolgosz

HOME: Everywhere. Moves freely in the world, recognizing no state boundaries.

PROFESSION: Czolgosz has no “profession,” refuses to sell his skills and resists definition by any of the categories of capitalist achievement. “If you must call me something,” he says, “call me an Urban Modality Redesigner--Explosives Division.”


Fifth Estate Collective
No Anarchy? No Money!

Endless philosophical or ideological battles have been fought for years attempting to define political identity. In the case of this publication, we have self-identified during the last 40 years as, progressive, socialist, ultra-left, council communist, nothing, anarchist, and anti-authoritarian. To many, it may be only an exercise in scholasticism, but sometimes much can depend on self-identity, as illustrated in the exchange of letters reprinted below.


Fifth Estate Collective
Anarchy online? A sampling of websites by FE current and former staff, contributors, and friends

Millard Berry--Long time Fifth Estate photographer and staff member.

Detroit Artists Workshop--Founded in 1964 in Detroit’s art and cultural community. Personnel and events frequently coincided with the Fifth Estate.

Egg Syntax--FE staff member, writes experimental music: and metablogs regularly on the intersections of art, technology, and ethics:


Fifth Estate Collective
Contents of print edition


FE Histories & Memoirs

No Anarchy, No Money page 6

Offices as Autonomous Zones page 7

The History of the Fifth Estate by Peter Werbe page 8

Music as Revolution page 20

Giving Up the Gun Fetish page 21

Zapping the Pyramid by Don La Coss page 22

Notes toward a history by David Watson page 26

Detroit’s Jovial Community by Lorraine Perlman page 40


John Moore
The Appeal of Anarchy


Amidst ecstatic visions, Anarchy appears. She says:

Whenever you need anything, once a month at the full moon, assemble in the wilderness--in the forest, on the heath, by the seashore--for the state of nature is a community of freedoms. Recognize the imminence of total liberation, and as a sign of your freedom, be naked in your rites.


Fifth Estate Collective
Welcome to our 40th Anniversary Issue

Welcome to our Spring/Summer 2005 and 40th anniversary commemorative edition of the Fifth Estate (FE). The effort needed to publish the largest and most colorful paper in our history required numerous resources, both creative and financial, from our collective members and our readers. While none of it would have occurred without the incredible vision and demanding effort /expended by the people at our Pumpkin Hollow headquarters, others participated as well, especially our staff in Detroit and those scattered across North America who make up the current FE editorial collective.


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!”).


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.


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.


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?


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.


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.”


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.


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.


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.


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.


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,

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)
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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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


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.


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.


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.”