June 30, 2006

July 5 - NYC: Revolutionary Anarchist Forum!

On Wednesday, July 5th, at 7:00, Paul Finch will be speaking at the A.J. Muste Room at 339 Lafayette St (Corner of Bleecker and Lafayette in NYC Greenwich Village area).

He will be presenting a talk on Building an Anarchist Movement in North America.

Paul was an active member of the Northwest Anarchist Federation in Canada,and was involved in both student struggles and in several significant labor strikes. He has a great deal of experience to share with all of us.

Sponsored by the Northeastern Federation of Anarchist-Communists and by the
Workers Solidarity Alliance.

Security Culture and its Discontents

by The Brilliant
Operation Backfire, the FBI operation that has led to the arrest over the past few months of dozens of so-called eco-terrorists has had a dimming effect on the direct action movement. The idea that of property destruction, without injury or loss of human life, had a certain cachet as threading the needle between the Weatherman movement of the 1970's and the protests of the tree-sitting and sign carrying variety. In America this idea was clearly naive as murderers are often given much lighter sentences than drug offenders.

After the burning of the Vail ski resort on October 18, 1998 there could have been no doubt that the government would launch a major investigation against the ELF and associated environmental groups. At least twelve million dollars of damage was caused in one evening and at least one agency suffered a black eye as a result. The insertion of the now infamous Anna into the protest movement should be seen for what it is, a reconnaissance mission, not the primary attack.

The ability of Anna to act as a street medic, a journalist (on several Indymedia sites), and eventually the bait to entrap several young radicals does not represent a problem with how porous our communities are. It demonstrates how inexperienced our generation is with real government attack.

This has been further demonstrated by the surprise and horror that supporters of the Operation Backfire prisoners have had when the accused became complicit with their captors. Many of the accused had moved on with their lives and away from radical politics. During the actions that they are being accused of, many of them were very young and new to radicalism. Many were reaching far beyond their grasp and upon realizing this retreated away from the positions, choices, and groups that informed the property destruction they are accused of. People cannot stand up to torture, isolation, or even social pressure forever.

The surprise should be that anyone stays around obscure radical circles or holds the line against forces of repression at all. Many of us have seen what the science of control technologies and the realities of prison life does to strong people. Propaganda creates social isolation and the sense that even simple positions are aberrant. While there is a certain dignity in obscurity and pride in exclusivity, what is the cost?

We are sick of hiding in shadows!

We do not believe that anything, or nearly anything, that we do is truly hidden from eyes that are looking in our direction. We believe that if they want to find us they are more than capable. We are too few and they have too many resources to bring to bear. We do not believe that anything that we do, except the most blatantly scandalous, should be hidden behind false names, secret communication, and indecipherable jargon. The only secrets should be secrets and not the possible existence of secrets.

We believe, in our heart of hearts, that our security culture friends embarrass us. Security culture is the half-assed practice of confusing our desire for a different world with a tree house that doesn't allow those with cooties. Our pretensions of illegality and danger look exactly like what they are, children at play. As long as anarchists remain children we will be treated like them, by our potential allies, by our enemies and by ourselves.

If we really were planning to wage war upon those in power, rather than just have it waged upon us, we would need people from all walks of life to understand where we were coming from. We would need the brilliance of our vision of a better world to shine so brightly as to suffocate thoughts of this one. Our ideas are ideas of transparency, individual capability, and solidarity. Why should we hide these ideas? Even if the only expressions that we can offer of our choices are of petty theft and marginal living why should we live in shame? No one chooses to live in shame for long. Shame will kill us faster than the State will ever find us. An atmosphere of secrets and group-think isolates us into sub-culture that includes only our peers.

Our ideas are brilliant. We deeply believe that the majority of the world basks in the light of the same sun that we are shielded from by the State and Capitalism. We survive on a fraction of what is possible. Those who shield us feast upon the bulk of the sustenance. From below, above and without we have another solution. Be gone interlopers! We will wear no masks when we tear your creations asunder. They stand in our way. They stand in the way of the brilliant!

June 29, 2006

Back to the drawing board in East Timor

[Thanks to jenise for this link]
by Adam Wolfe
In April, Paul Wolfowitz, the World Bank president, visited East Timor and praised the "bustling markets, the rebuilt schools, the functioning government - and above all, the peace and stability". East Timor, the world's youngest country and one of the smallest, was widely considered a success story, a model for future and current United Nations nation-building missions.

Just weeks after Wolfowitz hailed the country's "remarkable story", East Timor nearly collapsed. Four days after the country celebrated its fourth anniversary, it asked for the return of international peacekeepers.

The collapse seems to have taken the donor community by surprise, and exposed ethnic tensions few recognized as late as three months ago. Governmental mismanagement, corruption, political positioning for an upcoming election and simmering ethnic tensions acted as kindling for the fiery dispute between the prime minister and the president, which culminated on Monday when the prime minister stepped down. As Australian peacekeepers seek to restore order, East Timor now faces the challenge of rebuilding its political institutions.

The current crisis stems from an ethnic imbalance in the country's armed forces, but its roots are political. Most of the officers are from the eastern regions, while the majority of the rank-and-file men come from the west. When a group of soldiers protested the discrimination in March and called for the dismissal of prime minister Mari Alkatiri, the government sacked about 600 of the country's 1,400 soldiers. A group of about 500 of the dismissed soldiers sparked large-scale riots in Dili on April 28 - including looting, arson, and the murder of at least five civilians - then took to the hills in the country's interior, where they remain.

Armed gangs took advantage of the security void, and terrorized eastern descendents in the western regions. Thousands in Dili and the surrounding region fled their homes out of fear of further violence. Small battles between security forces and their former colleagues popped up throughout May and gang violence increased.

Until a few months ago, few recognized any ethnic differences in the population, let alone within the military. There is little record of any divide between the Lorosae in the east and the Loromonu in the west. One explanation is that the Lorosae consider themselves closer to the guerrillas who fought against Indonesia, while the Loromonu are closer to the former occupying country. Resistance to Indonesian rule, however, was fairly uniform by most accounts.

When the Loromonu soldiers protested the perceived discrimination in pay and promotions, it was the first most observers had heard of such an ethnic divide. While political gain was likely at the heart of the initial protest by the soldiers, street gangs used the divide for their own objectives. The street gangs emerged from the martial-arts groups that formed during the Indonesian occupation; moreover, the 70% unemployment rate in Dili has made recruiting easy. The looting and violence launched by the street gangs in the wake of the soldiers' protests have caused an estimated 75% of Dili's population to flee their homes.

While the current divide in East Timor does have an aspect of ethnic tension, its roots are political. Former prime minister Alkatiri led the Fretilin Party, which controls 55 seats in the 88-seat parliament. Alkatiri is feuding, again, with President Xanana Gusmao. When East Timor was drafting its constitution, Alkatiri was able to leverage the support of the Fretilin Party to establish a parliamentary system. Gusmao and his supporters preferred a presidential system, knowing that they could not compete against the Fretilin Party machine within a parliament, but would easily win a popular election. This proved an accurate assessment, and the wildly popular Gusmao now holds the largely ceremonial role of president, while Alkatiri controlled the government until Monday.
Gusmao has supported the opposition parties - the Democratic Party and the Social Democratic Party - and the political divide between the two leaders has filtered down through the ranks in government institutions, including the military. Alkatiri, an Arab Muslim, further caused public resentment by taking on powerful groups, including the Catholic Church - which counts 90% of the population as followers - when he made religious education optional rather than compulsory.

Although the prime minister has stepped down, his replacement is likely to reignite the political tensions that have been further strained by the current crisis. President Gusmao, using powers some have questioned as unconstitutional, assumed from the prime minister the power of overseeing the security forces after the soldiers' protest. He then gave Jose Ramos Horta, the Nobel Peace Prize-winning foreign minister and Gusmao's longtime ally, the Defense and Interior portfolios and asked for the prime minister's resignation.

Alkatiri, using the support of his dominant Fretilin Party, refused to step down. Gusmao then threatened to resign if Alkatiri would not; he later backed away from this announcement. Alkatiri's position was weakened by an Australian documentary that linked him and other Fretilin leaders to an alleged plot to arm a civil militia. Then, on Sunday, Ramos Horta, via a text message, quit the government to protest against Alkatiri staying on. The following day, Alkatiri resigned.

Alkatiri's resignation, however, will not end the political crisis. In fact, the following day, thousands of Fretilin supporters gathered in the streets to show their support for Alkatiri. This will make Gusmao's preferred method of resolving the crisis - appointing an interim prime minister to serve until elections next year - more difficult to implement. Gusmao and the donor community prefer to see a non-Fretilin prime minister, specifically Ramos Horta, in office until the scheduled elections. Fretilin prefers to select the next prime minister from its own ranks; its likely candidates are Ana Pessoa Pinto, Ramos Horta's ex-wife, who was acting as vice minister to Alkatiri, or Arsenio Paixao Bano, the young minister for labor and solidarity.

Holding elections as scheduled would signal that the country's political institutions have not been broken by the current crisis. Dissolving the government and holding early elections in the face of protests would have the opposite effect. Gusmao is negotiating with Fretilin leaders to install an interim prime minister, but if the negotiations are stalled, he may be forced to dissolve the government.

International reaction to the crisis
At the request of East Timor's president, Australia sent about 150 commandos to quell the violence on May 25, followed by an international force of about 2,500 troops from Australia, Malaysia, New Zealand and Portugal. Australia's interest in East Timor dates back to 1999, when it led the peacekeeping mission to the tiny country after it voted for its independence from Indonesia. There are economic interests for Australia as well: in January, East Timor and Australia signed a deal to divide billions of dollars in expected revenues from oil and gas deposits in the Timor Sea.

This deployment, however, is another sign of Australia's growing peacekeeping presence in the region. It has several hundred soldiers and police in the Solomon Islands. Teams of Australian civil servants are working to rebuild the public service in Papua New Guinea and Vanuatu. The police commissioner and several judges in Fiji are Australian.

There are concerns in Canberra that these deployments may be unsustainable. The military budget is set to increase by 11% next year and at least 3% each year until 2010. Also, Australia's growing security role in the region is likely to strain relations further with Indonesia. For these reasons, the UN can be expected to play a larger role in the stabilization mission in the near future, although Australia will maintain a leading role in any new UN mission in East Timor.

The UN's role in East Timor can be expected to take on greater importance in the near future, but many have blamed the current breakdown on the previous UN mission. On June 21, the UN Security Council asked the Secretary General'S Office to prepare a report on taking over the security mission from Australia at the end of the year, to stay on at least through the elections scheduled for 2007.

While the UN-led peacekeeping mission after East Timor's vote for independence in 1999 was considered a success by most, there was a debate within the organization about drawing down the mission last year. Those on the ground in East Timor cited the need for the UN to maintain its large presence in the country, but the UN Security Council allowed the mission to be scaled down dramatically in the past year, with only a small political aspect remaining, and even that only remains because of two extensions that have been granted after the crisis sparked by the protesting soldiers.

The UN has been criticized for leaving East Timor too early, before it was able to build the necessary political institutions. The Security Council wanted to conclude its mission to the country that was costing hundreds of millions of dollars each year, and it was scheduled to depart in May. UN reforms enacted since the original mission in East Timor may help prevent relapses like the current crisis in Dili.

The newly created UN Peacekeeping Commission is to coordinate development, security, and political transitions in post-conflict societies. However, this new "layer of bureaucracy", as a US congressional report calls the commission, will not be able to act if the Security Council does not will it to do so. Current UN missions in Liberia and Afghanistan can only be expected to stay on as long as the Security Council considers it necessary. These missions will likely point to the example of East Timor for extensions.

East Timor's current crisis - in which half the army deserted and is encamped in the country's hills, 130,000 people have fled their homes in fear of gang violence, the prime minister has quit his post, and an international peacekeeping mission led by Australia attempts to keep the peace - has taken the international community by surprise. The initial response by Australia is further evidence of its growing security role in the region. While the UN has taken much of the blame for allowing the crisis to come to a head, it is likely to reinsert itself vigorously, if only to make East Timor an example, once again, of its role in nation-building.

Still, while the Australian-led peacekeeping mission may be able to contain the violence, and a political solution may soon be found to resolve the split between the president and the Fretilin Party, an economic solution will be needed to make any forthcoming peace stick. East Timor is the poorest country in Asia. Although the billions of dollars in potential revenue from oil and gas fields in the Timor Sea will generate revenue, the country will need to combat the armed gangs that have terrorized Dili during the political crisis.

The political crisis has exposed the weaknesses of East Timor's government and the country's underlying social tensions, for which a long-term solution has yet to be found.

Published with permission of the Power and Interest News Report, an analysis-based publication that seeks to provide insight into various conflicts, regions and points of interest around the globe. All comments should be directed to content@pinr.com .



Mutualism, as a variety of anarchism, goes back to P.J. Proudhon in France and Josiah Warren in the U.S. It favors, to the extent possible, an evolutionary approach to creating a new society. It emphasizes the importance of peaceful activity in building alternative social institutions within the existing society, and strengthening those institutions until they finally replace the existing statist system. As Paul Goodman put it, "A free society cannot be the substitution of a 'new order' for the old order; it is the extension of spheres of free action until they make up most of the social life."

Other anarchist subgroups, and the libertarian left generally, share these ideas to some extent. Whether known as "dual power" or "social counterpower," or "counter-economics," alternative social institutions are part of our common vision. But they are especially central to mutualists' evolutionary understanding.

Mutualists belong to a non-collectivist segment of anarchists. Although we favor democratic control when collective action is required by the nature of production and other cooperative endeavors, we do not favor collectivism as an ideal in itself. We are not opposed to money or exchange. We believe in private property, so long as it is based on personal occupancy and use. We favor a society in which all relationships and transactions are non-coercive, and based on voluntary cooperation, free exchange, or mutual aid. The "market," in the sense of exchanges of labor between producers, is a profoundly humanizing and liberating concept. What we oppose is the conventional understanding of markets, as the idea has been coopted and corrupted by state capitalism.

Our ultimate vision is of a society in which the economy is organized around free market exchange between producers, and production is carried out mainly by self-employed artisans and farmers, small producers' cooperatives, worker-controlled large enterprises, and consumers' cooperatives. To the extent that wage labor still exists (which is likely, if we do not coercively suppress it), the removal of statist privileges will result in the worker's natural wage, as Benjamin Tucker put it, being his full product.

Because of our fondness for free markets, mutualists sometimes fall afoul of those who have an aesthetic affinity for collectivism, or those for whom "petty bourgeois" is a swear word. But it is our petty bourgeois tendencies that put us in the mainstream of the American populist/radical tradition, and make us relevant to the needs of average working Americans. Most people distrust the bureaucratic organizations that control their communities and working lives, and want more control over the decisions that affect them. They are open to the possibility of decentralist, bottom-up alternatives to the present system. But they do not want an America remade in the image of orthodox, CNT-style syndicalism.

Mutualism is not "reformist," as that term is used pejoratively by more militant anarchists. Nor is it necessarily pacifistic, although many mutualists are indeed pacifists. The proper definition of reformism should hinge, not on the means we use to build a new society or on the speed with which we move, but on the nature of our final goal. A person who is satisfied with a kinder, gentler version of capitalism or statism, that is still recognizable as state capitalism, is a reformist. A person who seeks to eliminate state capitalism and replace it with something entirely different, no matter how gradually, is not a reformist.

"Peaceful action" simply means not deliberately provoking the state to repression, but rather doing whatever is possible (in the words of the Wobbly slogan) to "build the structure of the new society within the shell of the old" before we try to break the shell. There is nothing wrong with resisting the state if it tries, through repression, to reverse our progress in building the institutions of the new society. But revolutionary action should meet two criteria: 1) it should have strong popular support; and 2) it should not take place until we have reached the point where peaceful construction of the new society has reached its limits within existing society.

contact: kevin_carson@hotmail.com

BERKELEY, CA Bush impeach resolution on ballot

by Carolyn Jones
With resolutions and proclamations, left-leaning cities and counties across the United States have started a drumbeat calling for the impeachment of President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney.

Now Berkeley has taken it one step further.

With overwhelming support from Berkeley residents, the Berkeley City Council unanimously passed a resolution Tuesday night to be the first jurisdiction in the United States to let the public vote for the President's impeachment. The measure will appear on the Nov. 7 ballot, at a cost of about $10,000.

The measure alleges that the administration violated the Constitution with illegal domestic spying, justified the Iraq war with fraudulent claims and illegally tortured citizens. San Francisco, Oakland, Santa Cruz and dozens of other cities have already passed council resolutions urging impeachment but none has gone as far as Berkeley.

The measure is strictly advisory, but the city hopes it sparks a national debate on the presidency and the Constitution. It's already attracted national media attention -- much of it of the wacky-Berkeley variety. Fox News, a slew of right-wing talk shows and hundreds of voters have already contacted City Hall.

Some members of the public -- who mostly live outside Berkeley -- wondered why the city's spending $10,000 on an advisory measure when crime, schools and homelessness all demand attention from city leaders.

"This whole exercise is a gross waste of time and money," wrote Arnold Baranco of El Cerrito. "A better use of the money could be applied to the Berkeley school system or the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation."

But city officials aren't fazed.

"The whole idea is to start a grass fire surging up on this issue," said Councilwoman Dona Spring. "We hope other cities put this on the ballot as well. Just in the Bay Area we could get 2 or 3 million votes, which would be a very powerful statement."

Among those who attended the Berkeley City Council meeting, urging the council to approve the measure, were peace activists Cindy Sheehan and Daniel Ellsberg. In addition, more than 500 Berkeley residents sent supportive e-mails to City Hall.

Only three residents said they were against the idea, which is no surprise -- of Berkeley's 70,000 registered voters, only 5 percent are Republicans. In the 2004 presidential election, more than 85 percent of the electorate voted for John Kerry. Berkeley is also not shy about dabbling in experimental policies before anyone else. Curbside recycling, fair trade coffee and Styrofoam bans all started as "only-in-Berkeley" ventures, and all are now common throughout the country.

Berkeley's hope is that the impeachment ballot measure follows suit.

"I don't think it's a laughable idea," said UC Berkeley political science and public policy Professor Henry Brady. "This is a president with a 35-40 percent approval rating. They shouldn't be laughing."

But impeachment might not be the way to go, Brady said. While voters may be frustrated with the Bush administration, impeachment should not be taken lightly.

"Bush may have made many, many policy errors, but it's questionable whether he's committed high crimes and misdemeanors," he said. "I think we've been too quick to talk about impeachment for the past 20 years."

A more effective way to fight the White House is to pressure representatives to tackle some of these issues, Brady said.

"The bigger picture is that people are upset about Bush and not quite sure how to deal with it," he said. "But they should pressure Congress to hold hearings on what's gone wrong."

Even House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco, has said she is not interested in impeaching Bush if the party takes over the House in November's elections.

"The No. 1 reason we're doing this is educational," said Councilman Kriss Worthington, who's worked on the measure for a year. "In the four or five months before the election, I suspect a lot of people will be learning about these issues."

In Crawford, Texas, where Bush's ranch is located, the reaction to Berkeley's move was mixed.

"People in Crawford have been kind of quiet lately," said Leon Smith, editor of the Crawford newspaper, the Lone Star Iconoclast. "I've heard a lot of people -- Republicans -- get on Bush's case lately about the war, immigration, the economy. They're really starting to feel the effects of those things."

Smith's paper, the only newspaper in Crawford, made international news in 2004 when it endorsed Kerry for president. Since then, subscriptions and community support have plummeted.

But Smith does not regret taking a stand against the president.

"People were extremely upset. We still haven't been forgiven," said Smith, a lifelong resident of the Crawford area.

At Donald's Coffee Shop near Bush's ranch, the reaction to Berkeley's measure was a long sigh.

"That's just liberals," said owner Donald Citrano, who has served the commander in chief chicken fried steak and coconut pie at his cafe. "They're not gonna change their minds and conservatives aren't gone change their minds."

Berkeley's measure was drawn up by law students and other young people in a non-partisan group called Constitution Summer, whose goal is to "create a conversation about impeachment," said co-founder Geoffrey King. "We're talking about a perfect storm of torture, domestic surveillance and lying. Berkeley showed a lot of courage with this."

Bikers and Bear Butte

by Kari Lydersen
In 1857, 30,000 Sioux and Cheyenne gathered at Bear Butte in South Dakota to plan how to deal with white settlers moving in on their sacred land. Native American warriors launched attacks on wagon trains from the mountain, incidents which are now commemorated in historical plaques along the highway. In 1874, Indian fighter George Custer visited Bear Butte, two years before making his infamous "last stand" at Little Bighorn. Chief Crazy Horse also spoke there, calling on his people never to sell the land.
Native Americans in the area are offended by the drinking and debauchery at the foot of their sacred mountain, but they have grudgingly tolerated the motorcycle rally for the about 60 years it has been going on. Now they are furious that an Arizona biker and developer wants to turn the biker party scene into a year-round presence, with a sprawling biker bar and campground within two miles of Bear Butte on it’s currently undeveloped north side.

"We’re trying to defend this mountain that’s sacred to our people for many generations, but we’re fighting against millionaire developers," said Victorio Camp, 31, a Pine Ridge reservation resident who grew up doing vision quests at Bear Butte. "This mountain is a place where spirituality comes from. It’s a place where we gather medicines and do ceremonies. It’s hard to go up there and pray when you have 100,000 motorcycles driving by."

Developer Jay Allen started out as a participant and leather vendor at the Sturgis rally. He was a regular at the Broken Spoke Saloon in a former Sturgis lumberyard. He ended up buying the bar in 1993, and then opened a chain of Broken Spokes in Florida, New Hampshire and South Carolina. For his new 600-acre development, he made clumsy efforts to reach out to Native Americans. He announced plans to call the complex "Sacred Ground," and feature an 80-foot statue of an Indian, a tipi village and an "educational center" about Native Americans – many bikers do feel an affinity with Native Americans and want to learn more about their culture. (Some bikers also oppose Allen’s development, and testified against his application for a liquor license at a public hearing.)

Local tribes did not appreciate Allen’s gesture, however, seeing it as a case of adding insult to injury, especially considering the history of the area.

July 15: International day of action vs. climate change

Activists have called for an International Day of Action Against Climate Change July 15, 2006. On that day, the “Group of 8” (G8) — leaders of the richest industrialized countries — will gather in St. Petersburg, Russia to plot their continued commodification and domination of the planet, this time under the banner of “Energy Security.” And, perhaps, thousands of people in cities and towns across the globe will rise up to demand alternatives to fossil fuels and zero emissions of greenhosue gases. It’s up to you — now is the time to link up with others in your area and make something happen July 15.

Pamela Anderson stripped off almost completely naked in a shop window last night (28.06.06) as part of an anti-fur protest.

The former 'Baywatch' babe, famed for her curvaceous body, stripped off to just a G-string in the window of fashion designer Stella McCartney's London clothes shop on behalf of animal rights group PETA.

Pammie displayed her sexy curves under the banner 'Rather bare skin than wear skin'.
The blonde actress, who is renowned for her work with the group, took the opportunity after her protest to slam Jennifer Lopez and Beyoncé Knowles for wearing and promoting fur.

She said: "My message would be to please start using fake fur. It's terrible because people see stars like J. Lo and Beyoncé wearing fur and they don't think about the cruelty that goes into it." During the event, Pammie also handed out awards to celebrities who had fought against animal cruelty on behalf of PETA.

A galaxy of morally conscious stars were attendance, including musician Chrissie Hynde, Jude Law's ex-wife Sadie Frost and 'X-Files star Gillian Anderson.

Feds Drop Request for Library Records

Federal authorities have dropped their demand for records from a library computer, but not without warning the librarians who refused to release them that under other circumstances their failure to cooperate "could have increased the danger of terrorists succeeding."

The FBI said Monday that it has discounted a potential terrorism threat that prompted it to seek records last year from a computer at one of 26 Connecticut libraries that are part of a consortium called the Library Connection.

Four librarians on the consortium's board who received the demand resisted, which the FBI said slowed its work.

"In this case, because the threat ultimately was without merit, that delay came at no cost other than slowing the pace of the investigation," John Miller, the FBI's assistant director, said in a statement. "In another case, where the threat may be real, the delays incurred in this investigation could have increased the danger of terrorists succeeding."

The American Civil Liberties Union, which represented the librarians who received the demand for records, said the librarians might have been willing to comply with a similar demand had it been approved by a judge.

"I'm glad that we're vindicated in resisting the request for the records," said George Christian, of Windsor, Conn., one of the librarians who received a national security letter demanding the records. "We're just protecting our patrons to the extent we can."

The letter sought subscriber and billing information related to a computer used within a 45-minute time period Feb. 15, 2005, when the potential threat was transmitted from a library computer. Authorities have declined to say where exactly that computer was located, but said the request did not involve reading lists of library patrons.

"We concluded that based on the passage of time as well as other information we've been able to develop that this threat is probably not viable," said Connecticut U.S. Attorney Kevin O'Connor, who added that the potential threat had been in an e-mail.

O'Connor said that authorities are trying to prevent attacks and that not every case involves enough information to get a warrant.

The librarians had been under a gag order for months. Last year a federal judge said it unfairly prevented them from participating in a debate over how the Patriot Act should be rewritten, but by the time the FBI dropped its appeal in April, Congress had already voted to reauthorize the law.

"While the government's real motives in this case have been questionable from the beginning, their decision to back down is a victory not just for librarians, but for all Americans who value their privacy," said Ann Beeson, associate legal director of the ACLU.

O'Connor said that the national security letter was appropriately issued and that the ACLU should not question the motives of federal agents trying to investigate a threat.

Prosecutors argued that secrecy in demands for records is necessary to avoid jeopardizing investigations, and that the gag order prevented only the release of librarians' identities, not their ability to speak about the Patriot Act.

The law, initially passed shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, allows expanded surveillance of terror suspects, increased use of material witness warrants to hold suspects incommunicado and secret proceedings in immigration cases. It also removed a requirement that any records sought in a terrorism investigation be those of someone under suspicion. Now anyone's records can be obtained if the FBI considers them relevant to a terrorism or spying investigation.

June 28, 2006

Greek Students Continue Protests

Starting today, university students in Greece will demonstrate for three days in a row in protest against planned higher education "reforms."

The demonstrations have been timed to coincide with a two-day session of education ministers from member states of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

The government, fearing the possibility of clashes between demonstrators and the police outside the OECD session, has moved it to a resort hotel in Lagonissi, a seaside town 40 kilometers south of Athens.

The police have taken emergency measures and will use over 2,000 policemen and riot policemen to block access to the hotel, while another 2,000 will be deployed in the center of Athens. The road to Lagonissi, from the 39th to the 42nd kilometer from Athens, will be closed to vehicles from early today to tomorrow afternoon.

Lyle Stuart, 'Anarchist Cookbook' publisher

Lyle Stuart, who published one of the modern book business' greatest hoaxes in "Naked Came the Stranger" and the controversial "The Anarchist Cookbook," died Saturday after a heart attack, his wife reported. He was 83.

Stuart, born in Manhattan, N.Y., became a muckraking journalist in the 1940s, founding publications such as Expose and The Independent.

In 1969, he published "Naked Came the Stranger," a sex novel whose dust jacket claimed it was written by a Long Island housewife. In fact, the book was the work of more than two dozen reporters at Newsday — and Stuart was in on the joke. The novel was a best-seller both before and after the hoax was exposed.

The next year, Stuart went against the wishes of the staff at his publishing house, Lyle Stuart Inc., and published William Powell's "The Anarchist Cookbook," a notorious tome with instructions on how to make homemade bombs.

June 27, 2006

State Capitalism vs. Libertarian Socialism

by Wayne Price
Part 3 of The Nature of Stalinist Societies

The Soviet Union and similar states are analyzed as State Capitalist. These states had commodity production, the exploitation of the workers, and internal competition. It is not enough to collectivize property; it is necessary to abolish the capital-labor relationship. The program of state socialism invariably produces state capitalism in practice.

Kropotkin and Engels on State Capitalism
As early as 1910, Peter Kropotkin declared, “The anarchists consider... that to hand over to the state all the main sources of economic life--the land, the mines, the railways, banking, insurance, and so on--as also the management of all the main branches of industry, in addition to all the functions already accumulated in its hands (education, ... defense of the territory, etc.) would mean to create a new instrument of tyranny. State capitalism would only increase the powers of bureaucracy and capitalism.” (1975, pp. 109-110) The program of state socialism would in practice produce state capitalism.

Karl Marx’s comrade Friedrich Engels predicted the growth of giant corporations, trusts, and capitalist monopolies, which would plan ever larger sections of the economy. The tasks of the bourgeoisie will be increasingly carried out by hired bureaucrats. “All the social functions of the capitalist are now performed by salaried employees. The capitalist has no further social function than that of pocketing dividends....” (1954, pp. 385-386; the whole of Anti-Duhring had been gone over by Marx; this section was included in Engels’ pamphlet Socialism: Utopian and Scientific.) These trends culminate in state capitalism, wrote Engels:

“The official representative of capitalist society--the state--will ultimately have to undertake the direction of production.... But the transformation...into state ownership does not do away with the capitalistic nature of the productive forces... The modern state... is essentially a capitalist machine, the state of the capitalists, the ideal personification of the total national capital. The more it proceeds to the taking over the productive forces, the more does it actually become the national capitalist, the more citizens does it exploit. The capitalist relation is not done away with. It is rather brought to a head.” (Engels, 1954, pp. 384--386)

Both Kropotkin and Engels believed that nationalization of industry by the existing capitalist state (reformist state socialism) was not socialism but state capitalism. However, Engels believed that nationalization by a new, workers,’ state (revolutionary state socialism) would lead to classless, stateless, communism. “The proletariat seizes political power and turns the means of production in the first instance into state property. But, in doing this, it abolishes itself as proletariat, abolishes all class distinctions and class antagonisms, abolishes also the state as state.” (Engels, 1954, p. 388)

Kropotkin also wanted stateless communism but he did not believe in the possibility of a workers’ state. He thought that centralized, statified, property--even if created by a workers’ revolution--would lead only to state capitalism. Instead of the state, he proposed that the workers take power through “...the organization in every township or commune of the local groups of producers and consumers, as also the regional, and eventually the international, federations of these groups.” (1975, p. 110) This program has historically been called “libertarian socialism”--meaning antiauthoritarian or self-managed socialism, anarchist or close to anarchism.
The Theory of State Capitalism
From the beginning of the Soviet Union, anarchists accused the Bolsheviks of creating state capitalism. But it was Marxists who developed state capitalism as a theory to apply to the Soviet Union and similar states. This included the work of the anti-statist, anti-Leninist, Council Communists (Mattick, 1969). Most of the theorists of state capitalism were dissident Trotskyists. They rejected Trotsky’s belief that Stalinist Russia remained a “workers’ state” so long as it kept nationalized property. These included the “Johnson-Forest Tendency” of C.L.R. James (1998) and Raya Dunayevskaya (2000); Tony Cliff (1970), a theorist of the British Socialist Workers Party and the U.S. International Socialist Organization; and Cornelius Castoriadis (1988) of the Socialisme ou Barbarie group in France. In the U.S.A., the Revolutionary Socialist League, of which I was a member, evolved from dissident Trotskyism to anarchism, meanwhile developing a theory of state capitalism (Hobson & Tabor, 1988). So did a split-off from us which wished to remain Trotskyist (Walter Daum, 1990).

Other socialists disagreed, even those who accepted that the Communist Party-managed states were not workers’ or socialist states but had an exploitative ruling class. Max Shachtman, theorist of “bureaucratic collectivism,” wrote, “...The Stalinist social system is not capitalist and does not show any of the classic, traditional, distinctive characteristics of capitalism.... There are...many embarrassments in conceiving of a capitalist state where all capitalists are in cemeteries or in emigration....Nowhere can an authentic capitalist class, or any section of it, be found to support or welcome Stalinism, a coolness which makes good social sense from its point of view since it is obvious...that Stalinism comes to power by destroying the capitalist state and the capitalist class.” (1962, pp. 23--24).

Similarly, Michael Albert, a founding theorist of “participatory economics” (“Parecon”), rejects “state capitalism” as a description of these societies, in favor of “coordinatorism.” It would be a mistake, he claims, “to say that the old Soviet economy was capitalist despite there being no private ownership of the means of production....The absence of owners and the elevation of central planners, local managers, and other empowered workers to ruling status is what characterized these economies as different. “ (2006, p. 158)

However, whatever their differences among themselves, theorists of the Soviet Union as capitalist did not deny that the Communist Party-ruled economies were nationalized and collectivized. They were aware that the ruling class was a collective bureaucracy and not a stockholding bourgeoisie. This is why Cliff made a point of calling the Soviet Union “bureaucratic state capitalism,” not just “state capitalism,” and why Castoriadis called his theory “bureaucratic capitalism.” They insisted that what most mattered was that the capital-labor relationship existed in the Stalinist states. The relation between the workers and the bosses remained the same in essentials. The workers were exploited by the ste, not private corporations, but the state was, in Engels’ terms, “the ideal personification of the total national capital...the national capitalist.”

The old Soviet Union may be examined from one of two class perspectives. From a ruling class perspective, the differences between the shareholding bourgeoisie and the collectivist bureaucracy are all-important. The bourgeoisie does not care, after all, whether its wealth and power are taken away by the workers or by totalitarian bureaucrats. Either way, it loses its wealth. So it hates both alternatives and regards them as essentially the same: “socialism.” This is also the viewpoint of those who regard the Soviet Union as non-capitalist: either “socialist” or a “workers’ state” or a new class society. It is a fundamentally bourgeois viewpoint.

From a working class viewpoint, however, what matters is the relation of the workers to the boss class--the method of their exploitation. If this method is the same--if, as Engels said, “the capitalist relation is not done away with”--then the system is the same. How the rulers divide up the surplus value among themselves, after pumping it out of the workers, is a secondary question. It is only a state capitalist theory which starts from this proletarian perspective.

The classical Marxists who wrote about state capitalism, beginning with Marx and Engels, did not expect traditional capitalism to actually evolve into a stable form of state capitalism. There were too many conflicts and contradictions within capitalism to overcome. But what happened in the Soviet Union was that a working class revolution overthrew a weak bourgeoisie. The workers were unable to go ahead to socialism--due to the poverty of the country, the failure of the revolution to spread, and the authoritarianism of the Bolsheviks. Yet the bourgeoisie was too weak to restore its traditional rule. Instead the Bolshevik state became the nucleus of a new, statified, capitalism. This became a model for a few other countries, such as China, where the national bourgeoisie was too weak to hold on but the working class was not strong enough to establish workers’ and peasants’ self-management. After decades, the internal conflicts of state capitalism became too great. It fell apart and restored the old capitalism.
In What Ways Was the Soviet Union Capitalist?
Contrary to Shachtman, the Soviet Union, Eastern European states, China, other Asian states, and Cuba, did show the essential “characteristics of capitalism.” To begin with, they were commodity-producing economies. All noncapitalist societies produced useful goods for consumption (of the tribesmembers, or the serfs and lords, or the slaves and masters, or--someday--of the freely associated producers under socialism). Only capitalism produces commodities for sale. This includes the most important commodity, the ability of the workers to work, by hand and brain: the commodity labor-power. In the Soviet Union, the workers were not simply given food and clothes, as were slaves, or soldiers, or prisoners. Management paid them for their labor time--paid them in money. Then they went to the shops to buy consumer commodities--commodities which workers had produced. These consumer goods were commodities being sold on a market. The laboring ability which the workers sold to the bosses was also a commodity. Labor power was sold at its value, its worth in maintaining and reproducing the workers and their families. But the workers worked for longer hours than was necessary merely to reproduce the value of their wages. The worth of the commodities produced in the extra hours they worked was the surplus value, the basis of profit. The workers produced a greater value than they themselves were, which is to say they were exploited in the capitalist manner.

The operation of such markets, whether in consumer goods or in labor, are quite distorted compared to some model of a perfectly unhindered free-market of classical capitalism. But markets are also distorted under the monopoly capitalist conditions of today’s Western capitalism (what the bourgeois economists call “imperfect competition”). Markets were also distorted under the conditions of totalitarian Nazi Germany, where labor was intensely regulated and the government was integrated with big business--and yet there remained a stockholding, profit-making, bourgeoisie. Markets would be even more distorted under the model of state capitalism as developed by Engels. Buying and selling continues--distorted markets are still markets.

Advocates of noncapitalist analyses of the Communist Party-run countries claim that these countries are devoid of competition. They are supposedly run by “central planning” and therefore cannot be capitalist, it is argued. But even if this were true, the Soviet Union or Cuba would be just one firm in a capitalist world market. Under Stalin, it is true, the Soviet Union made an effort to be as self-sufficient as possible. But even then there was always some international trade; it could not be totally cut off. At other times, these regimes bought and sold much on the world market and borrowed international loans. When urging Mexican businesspeople to invest in Cuba, in 1988, Fidel Castro told them, “We are capitalists, but state capitalists. We are not private capitalists.” (quoted in Daum, 1990, p. 232)

Besides trade, the Soviet Union always had to build up military forces to defend the wealth of its rulers from other nations’ rulers. While intercontinental nuclear missiles were not traded among the major powers, they were “compared,” both in firepower and in cheapness. In short, there were international competitive pressures on the “firm” of the Soviet Union to produce as much as possible, to exploit its workers as much as possible, and to accumulate as rapidly as possible--all capitalist processes. (These points were emphasized by Cliff, 1970. The weakness of his theory is that he only looked at such international pressures and therefore denied internal sources of competition which drove the internal market and the law of value. This makes his theory essentially a third system/new class analysis, with its concomitant weaknesses, as discussed in Part 2. )

Despite its monolithic appearance, the Soviet Union had a great deal of internal competition for scarce resources. Factories competed with factories, enterprises with enterprises, regions with regions, and ministries with ministries. The central plan, such as it was, was developed under the competing pressures of different agencies, each seeking as many resources as possible and as low production goals as possible. Once developed, the plan was more a wish list than the controlling guide to the national economy. The plan of the Soviet Union was never, ever, fulfilled--not once! Torn by internal conflicts, and needing to hold down the workers, the ruling bureaucracy could not integrate the economy in a harmonious fashion. Lacking workers’ democracy, it was incapable of truly planning the economy.

The competitive aspects of the economy were officially built in. Firms made legally binding contracts with each other for raw materials and productive machines, which were paid for by credits (money) in the central banks. Therefore, not only were consumer goods and labor power commodities, but means of production were also commodities, bought and sold among firms. Also, collective farms were not state farms but were legally cooperatives. They produced food for the market (this is aside from the permitted private plots which produced a disproportionate share of food). That was the legal market. Additionally the whole system was tied together by a vast system of black and gray markets, of illegal and semi-legal trading. Individuals did extra work, factories made deals with each other through special expediters, there was organized crime, and the wheels were greased throughout the society by off-the-books trading. The bureaucratic management would have collapsed without this very real wheeling and dealing, that is, market (capitalist) relations. (This can be studied in detail in any book on the Soviet Union’s economy. For Marxist analyses, see Hobson & Tabor, 1988, and Daum, 1990. Daum feels that “state capitalism” gives a false impression that there was a centralized single capital; he prefers “statified capitalism.” )

At this point I could give a more detailed critique of various theories of state capitalism, but I lack the space. What is significant is that most of the “state capitalist” theorists have some version of libertarian socialism--either socialist-anarchism or autonomist Marxism. But Cliff (1970), of the International Socialist Tendency, still advocated a “workers’ state,” a nationalized and centralized economy, a “vanguard party,” and other elements of the Leninist and Trotskyist tradition--and the same is true of Daum (1990) of the League for the Revolutionary Party. Regardless of intentions, these concepts reflect the capital-labor relationship: the relationship between order-givers and order-obeyers, between exploiters and exploited, between mental and manual labor.

The third-system/new-class theorists reject “state capitalism” because the Soviet Union-type of system is ruled by a collectivist bureaucracy (or “coordinator class,” as per the Pareconists). They correctly note its roots in the class of salaried professional managers under traditional capitalism. As I have demonstrated in this and the previous part, Marx and Engels had foreseen this as part of the development of capitalism. As Engels said, “All the social functions of the capitalist are now performed by salaried employees.” But these remain the social functions of capitalism! Under traditional capitalism, this bureaucratic middle layer is a part of the system. It is created under corporate/monopoly capitalism in order to serve capitalism, to help pump surplus labor out of the workers. The bourgeoisie would not hire it otherwise. The managers are the higher servants of the bourgeoisie and yearn to join it. The upper layers usually do, being rewarded with stock options, insider knowledge, and such.

However, there is a radical section of the professional bureaucracy which dreams of replacing the bourgeoisie altogether. This is what they did in the Soviet Union and similar countries. Anarchists and certain Marxists had discussed the bureaucrats’ role in the Soviet Union. Rather than using stock ownership, they divided up the surplus wealth by official position, but they remained a capitalist class for all that. They served as the agents of capital accumulation through the exploitation of the workers. In Engels’ terms, they managed “the modern state, a capitalist machine, the state of the capitalists, the ideal personification of the total national capital.” As a class they are themselves what Marx called the bourgeoisie, “the personification of capital.”

Whether the Soviet Union, etc. were capitalist or noncapitalist is a question which has been settled by history. After 1989, the Soviet Union and its satellites changed over to traditional capitalism. Had this been the transfer of power from one class to an alien class (from the workers or the third-system new class to the bourgeoisie), then we should have expected a terrible upheaval, a revolution or counterrevolution. Instead, the old bureaucracy morphed into the new bourgeoisie, going from one capitalist form to another. There were popular upheavals, but topdown maneuverings managed to avoid a workers’ revolution. The internal competitive tensions within the bureaucracy permitted it to transform itself peacefully into another variety of capitalist rule. (For the workers there were both gains--expanded freedoms--and losses--shredding of the social services.) This was even clearer in China, where there still exists the old bureaucracy, the Communist Party’s dictatorship, the Marxist-Leninist ideology, the “People’s Army,” and a great deal of nationalized industry. Yet the state has plainly adopted traditional capitalism and eagerly participates in the world capitalist economy.
Political Implications of State Capitalism: Libertarian Socialism
Collectivized property is necessary--is essential--but is not sufficient, if socialism is to mean the emancipation of the working class and all oppressed. Instead, the revolutionary workers must COMPLETELY ABOLISH THE CAPITAL-LABOR RELATIONSHIP. There must be an end to order-givers and order-takers, to those who live well while others do the work, to those who manage and those who do the physical labor. This means doing away with the state, an institution over and above the rest of society. The same goes for the utopia (in the bad sense) of a centralized planned economy which won’t need a state (or so we are told by Engels and Marx) because it will be the “management of things and not of people,” as if these could be distinguished in practice. The program of state socialism--even if phrased in a revolutionary manner (as did Engels and Marx)--would invariably produce state capitalism in reality. Instead, all the tasks of a classless society must be carried out through the self-management of all the working people, in which everyone participates, democratically deciding and planning social and economic life, at all levels and in all ways.


Albert, Michael (2006). Realizing Hope; Life Beyond Capitalism. London/NY: Zed Books.

Castoriadis, Cornelius (1988). Political and Social Writings; Vol. I, 1946--1955. (David Ames Curtis, trans. and ed.). Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

Cliff, Tony (1970). Russia; A Marxist Analysis. London: International Socialism.

Daum, Walter (1990). The Life and Death of Stalinism; A Resurrection of Marxist Theory. NY: Socialist Voice Publishing.

Dunayevskaya, Raya (2000). Marxism and Freedom; From 1776 until Today. NY: Humanity Books.

Engels, Frederick (1954). Anti-Duhring; Herr Eugen Duhring’s Revolution in Science. Moscow: Foreign Languages Publishing House.

Hobson, Christopher Z., & Tabor, Ronald D. (1988). Trotskyism and the Dilemma of Socialism. NY/Westport CN: Greenwood Press.

James, C.L.R. (1998). “The USSR is a Fascist State Capitalism.” The Fate of the Russian Revolution; Lost Texts of Critical Marxism, Vol. I. (Sean Matgamna, ed.) Pp. 319--324. London: Phoenix Press.

Kropotkin, Peter (1975). The Essential Kropotkin (Emile Capouya & Keitha Tompkins, eds.). NY: Liveright.

Mattick, Paul (1969). Marx and Keynes; The Limits of the Mixed Economy. Boston: Extending Horizons Books/Porter Sargent Publisher.

Shachtman, Max (1962). The Bureaucratic Revolution; The Rise of the Stalinist State. NY: The Donald Press.

Thousands gather to support ousted East Timor leader

by David Fox
Thousands of supporters of ousted East Timor prime minister Mari Alkatiri gathered outside the capital on Tuesday, a day after the premier resigned following a week of protests against his rule.

Hamas 'implicitly accepts Israel'

Palestinian militant group Hamas has agreed to a document backing a two-state solution to the conflict with Israel, officials say.

The initiative, devised by prisoners held in Israeli jails, implicitly recognises the Jewish state.

Hamas's charter currently calls for Israel's destruction by force and rules out peace negotiations with it.

The deal comes amid heightened tension with Israel following the capture of an Israeli soldier by militants on Sunday.

Officials said the agreement would be unveiled later on Tuesday by Prime Minister Ismail Haniya of Hamas and President Mahmoud Abbas, of the rival Fatah faction.

"We agreed on all the points of the prisoners' initiative," Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said in quotes carried by AFP news agency.

Mr Abbas had proposed holding a referendum on the plan unless Hamas accepted it.

The two factions have been locked in an intense power struggle since Hamas gained control of the Palestinian parliament in elections in January.

Stop AT&T's Plan to Control California Media

This week, the California State Senate will begin voting on a new law that will decide whether your neighborhood gets competition in cable TV and Internet services. It's called AB 2987.

This bill is supposed to bring new competition in cable TV and broadband to all Californians. In reality, it's a major hand-out to AT&T that badly weakens consumer protections that prevent redlining -- offering service in rich neighborhoods but not poorer ones.

Tell the State Senate to halt redlining and bring competition to ALL Californians:

Senator Charles Poochigian
(916) 651-4014

Right now, if AT&T wants to offer cable TV service to your community, they have to negotiate with your local government to secure the right to lay their wires down your streets. This process of "franchising" cable TV systems through negotiations with local elected officials has guaranteed consumer protections and public access television channels. Most importantly, these franchises guarantee build-out, a requirement that the cable company serve all local households, not just the rich neighborhoods.

AB 2987 would end local franchising and place that power at the state level. Worse, the bill removes the requirements to protect consumers and ensure universal build-out of services to all households.

We all want competition in cable TV. More competition and choice are good things, and the incumbent cable companies have often delivered high prices, poor customer service and terrible labor relations. But we want competitive providers to build out service to ALL Californians. We want consumer protections that apply to both cable and telephone giants. We want local channels for local voices.

Take action to stop the corporate handout and protect California consumers:

Senator Charles Poochigian
(916) 651-4014

Call your State Senator and say that you oppose AB 2987 without strong consumer protections and build-out requirements. Demand real choices for ALL Californians!

Your action today makes a difference.


Here’s the latest from the Senate Commerce Committee where a “mark-up” on several amendments to Senator Stevens’ Telecom Act is scheduled to begin Tuesday at 10 AM. That probably means that the Snowe-Dorgan Net Neutrality amendment will come before Committee as early as the mid-afternoon.

If successful the vote on the amendment would put Net Neutrality language into the massive Telecommunications Act. This is critical.

If your senators sit on the committee, they need to hear from you today. Ask them to support the Snowe-Dorgan Net Neutrality amendment to the larger Telecom Act (S. 2686).

Here are the members of the committee who have not taken a strong position in favor of Internet freedom and for the Snowe-Dorgan Amendment. Call them now:

Chairman Ted Stevens (R-Alaska)
Phone: 202-224-3004

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.)
Phone: 202 -224-2235

Sen. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.)
Phone: 202-224-2353

Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.)
Phone: 202-224-5274

Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.)
Phone: 202 224 3224

Sen. David Vitter (R-La.)
Phone: 202 224-4623

Sen. Trent Lott (R-Miss.)
Phone: 202-224-6253

Sen. Conrad Burns (R-Mont.)
Phone: 202-224-2644

Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.)
Phone: 202-224-6551

Sen. John Ensign (R-Nev.)
Phone: 202-224-6244

Sen. John E. Sununu (R-N.H.)
Phone: 202-224-2841

Sen. Gordon Smith (R-Ore.)
Phone: 202-224-3753

Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.)
Phone: 202 224-6121

Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas)
Phone: 202-224-5922

Sen. George Allen (R-Va.)
Phone: 202-224-4024

Sen. John D. Rockefeller (D-W.Va.)
Phone: 202-224-6472

Your phone calls actually make a difference. Please call now and urge your senators to support the bipartisan Snowe-Dorgan Internet Freedom amendment in the Commerce Committee. The free and open Internet as we know it is on the line.

East Coast Screenings of Soma An Anarchist Therapy

6/30 Emergence Community Arts Collective
(ECAC) 733 Euclid St. in Washington DC.
7/1 Al Fishawy, Al-Fishawy internet Cafe 4132 Georgia Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20011

7/2, Mid Atlantic Radical Book Fair, Baltimore
7/2 Lava, 4134 Lancaster Ave , sPhilli
7/3 Blue Stockings NYC http://bluestockings.com/
7/5 Galapagos, Brooklyn, http://www.galapagosartspace.com/
7/6 Arts In Motion, Young Street (off of South Street, 2 blocks south of the Frog Bridge), Willimantic, CT
7/7 JED Collective, Greene, Maine. info: (207) 946-4478
7/8 Lucy Parson's Boston, 549 Collumbus Ave, Boston MA 02115
7/9 Collective A Go-Go, 266 Olean St. Worcester, MA 01602

documentary: Soma: An Anarchist Therapy
(DVD shot in Brazil subtitles in English)
With difficulty walking and half-blinded from torture by the Brazilian military dictatorship, 79 year old Roberto Freire continues to develop somatherapy, completing his life's work. Incorporating the ideas of Wilhelm Reich, the politics of anarchism, and the culture of the martial art / dance capoeira angola, Soma is used by therapists organized in anarchist collectives to fight the psychological effects of authoritarianism.
more info AND PREVIEW: http://somadocumentary.com

Nazis Vs. Zapatistas: The Struggle Against Co-optation
The workshop examines philosophies, structures and psychology, comparing authoritarian models to those that are consensual, communitarian or autonomous. Informed by Zapatista principles, the workshop develops a skill set for identifying, challenging and defeating the authoritarian tool of co-optation.
more info: http://nickcooper.com/antipowerworkshop.htm

Feds Drop Request for Library Records

Federal authorities have dropped their demand for records from a library computer, but not without warning the librarians who refused to release them that under other circumstances their failure to cooperate ``could have increased the danger of terrorists succeeding.''

The FBI said Monday that it has discounted a potential terrorism threat that prompted it to seek records last year from a computer at one of 26 Connecticut libraries that are part of a consortium called the Library Connection.

Four librarians on the consortium's board who received the demand resisted, which the FBI said slowed its work.

``In this case, because the threat ultimately was without merit, that delay came at no cost other than slowing the pace of the investigation,'' John Miller, the FBI's assistant director, said in a statement. ``In another case, where the threat may be real, the delays incurred in this investigation could have increased the danger of terrorists succeeding.''

The American Civil Liberties Union, which represented the librarians who received the demand for records, said the librarians might have been willing to comply with a similar demand had it been approved by a judge.

``I'm glad that we're vindicated in resisting the request for the records,'' said George Christian, of Windsor, Conn., one of the librarians who received a national security letter demanding the records. ``We're just protecting our patrons to the extent we can.''

The letter sought subscriber and billing information related to a computer used within a 45-minute time period Feb. 15, 2005, when the potential threat was transmitted from a library computer. Authorities have declined to say where exactly that computer was located, but said the request did not involve reading lists of library patrons.

``We concluded that based on the passage of time as well as other information we've been able to develop that this threat is probably not viable,'' said Connecticut U.S. Attorney Kevin O'Connor, who added that the potential threat had been in an e-mail.

O'Connor said that authorities are trying to prevent attacks and that not every case involves enough information to get a warrant.

The librarians had been under a gag order for months. Last year a federal judge said it unfairly prevented them from participating in a debate over how the Patriot Act should be rewritten, but by the time the FBI dropped its appeal in April, Congress had already voted to reauthorize the law.

``While the government's real motives in this case have been questionable from the beginning, their decision to back down is a victory not just for librarians, but for all Americans who value their privacy,'' said Ann Beeson, associate legal director of the ACLU.

O'Connor said that the national security letter was appropriately issued and that the ACLU should not question the motives of federal agents trying to investigate a threat.

Prosecutors argued that secrecy in demands for records is necessary to avoid jeopardizing investigations, and that the gag order prevented only the release of librarians' identities, not their ability to speak about the Patriot Act.

The law, initially passed shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, allows expanded surveillance of terror suspects, increased use of material witness warrants to hold suspects incommunicado and secret proceedings in immigration cases. It also removed a requirement that any records sought in a terrorism investigation be those of someone under suspicion. Now anyone's records can be obtained if the FBI considers them relevant to a terrorism or spying investigation.

June 26, 2006

The Fictitious Suppression of Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle

by Christopher Phelps
Mr. Phelps, associate professor of history at The Ohio State University at Mansfield, is the editor of the Bedford/St. Martin’s edition of Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle.

Cover of Jungle Publishing Company edition, 1906 When a small, Tucson-based publisher of anarchist and atheist literature called See Sharp Press issued a new edition in 2003 of Upton Sinclair’s famous novel The Jungle, it was not especially remarkable. Editions of The Jungle, from the scholarly to the mass-market, are abundant. Generations of readers have been transfixed by the misery of the novel’s protagonist, the Lithuanian immigrant Jurgis Rudkus, in Chicago’s gruesome meatpacking industry. No publishing house, it seems, has ever lost money on The Jungle—something that cannot be said of many other works of socialist literature.

The See Sharp edition, however, is extraordinary for its fanfare. Its subtitle proclaims it The Uncensored Original Edition. A slogan on the front cover, complete with exclamation point, denounces all competing editions as “censored commercial versions!” The back jacket touts it as “the version of The Jungle that Upton Sinclair very badly wanted to be the standard edition—not the gutted, much shorter commercial version with which we’re all familiar.”

Inside is a foreword by Earl Lee, a librarian at Pittsburg State University in Kansas, who writes of “efforts of censors to subvert” The Jungle’s “political message” of The Jungle and states that Sinclair “changed The Jungle in order to get it published by a large commercial publisher.” An introduction by Kathleen De Grave, professor of American literature at Pittsburg State, suggests that Sinclair’s alterations were “not driven by a desire for artistic economy” but “produced under coercion, directly or indirectly.” The text restored by the See Sharp edition, she holds, is “closer to Sinclair’s true vision.”

Is it any wonder that reviewers have found it impossible to resist the romance of a forgotten, authentic, suppressed version of The Jungle? Library Journal, in classifying the See Sharp edition as “essential,” deplores the novel’s “butchering” and claims “Sinclair later wanted to reinsert the expurgated material for a full-length version but that never came to fruition” (April 15, 2003). The People’s Weekly World, newspaper of the Communist Party USA, states, “If you have never read The Jungle, don’t waste your time on the 1906 censored version. Go right to the original, now available, at a reasonable price, and feel and experience the real message that Upton Sinclair so deeply desired to convey to his readers” (May 29, 2004).

Just one problem: none of the sensational claims made on behalf of the See Sharp edition is true. The Jungle was not censored. Sinclair did not revise the text to meet the coercive demands of a commercial publisher. He never wanted the 1905 serial version to become the standard edition. And the novel, as eventually published in book form, has a political message that is perfectly clear.

First issued as a book by Doubleday, Page in 1906, The Jungle was a straightaway international bestseller. The See Sharp edition recuperates a lesser-known, earlier version of the novel. The Jungle was first published in serial form between February 25, 1905, and November 4, 1905, in The Appeal to Reason, a socialist newspaper with a nationwide readership edited by Fred Warren and published by J. A. Wayland out of Girard, Kansas. An almost identical text was published in three installments between April and October 1905 in One-Hoss Philosophy, a small-circulation quarterly also published by Wayland. The See Sharp edition reproduces the One-Hoss text.

The initial 1905 version of the novel had a different ending and was longer than the 1906 book known the world over as The Jungle. The former had 36 chapters, the latter 31. This redaction is the basis for See Sharp’s charge that the novel was “gutted” or, as Lee puts it, “expurgated.” According to De Grave, “since the socialists could not raise the revenue to adequately publish, promote, and distribute his book, the only alternative was to revise the novel in such a way that a capitalist publisher would accept it. ...Sinclair must have agonized over the revisions he made. They went against what he believed in, and what he’d seen for himself.”

If this is so—if The Jungle was censored, if corporate perfidy forced Sinclair to make changes he did not wish to make—then a question arises. Why did he permit a bowdlerized version to be reissued, decade after decade?

Across Sinclair’s ninety years, numerous editions of The Jungle were issued . Sinclair held the copyright. Yet every time the novel appeared, it followed the 1906 text. Sinclair self-published the novel four times (1920, 1935, 1942, 1945). He wrote introductory material for the Viking (1946) and Heritage (1965) editions. Further editions of The Jungle include Haldeman-Julius (1924), Vanguard (1926), Albert & Charles Boni (1928), Penguin (1936), Amsco School (1946), R. Bentley (1946), Harper (1951), World (1959), New American Library (1960), Dial (1965), Airmont (1965), and the Limited Editions Club (1965). If Sinclair yearned for the 1905 version and wanted to see it restored, why did he not insist upon its use in these many editions?

To settle this matter definitively requires passing beyond rhetorical questions, however, to a recapitulation of The Jungle’s circuitous publishing history.

After turning out hundreds of pages of fiction week after week in 1904 and 1905, Sinclair was exhausted. He disliked the end result, a work he considered long-winded and rambling. “I went crazy at the end,” he wrote in a personal letter in 1930 to a reader curious as to why many passages had been excised, “... and tried to put in everything I knew about the Socialist movement. I remember that Warren came to see me at my farm near Princeton, and I read him the concluding chapters, and he went to sleep. So I guess that is why I left them out of the book!"

Sinclair began to abbreviate the text. He corrected the Lithuanian references, changing, for example, the name of the main character from Rudkos to the more typical Rudkus. He sought to streamline the novel, making it less repetitious and didactic. At the same time, he ran into problems with Macmillan, a major publisher that had advanced him a contract for book rights following serialization. Macmillan, Sinclair later recalled, demanded that he eliminate the “blood and guts.” Although he strove to pare down the text, Sinclair was unwilling, on principle, to compromise the novel’s brutal realism. The Macmillan arrangement disintegrated by autumn 1905.

Next Sinclair tried to persuade the Appeal to issue the novel as a book, but Warren and Wayland, although phenomenally successful at publishing socialist periodicals, felt ill-equipped to enter into book promotion and distribution. Sinclair then submitted the book to “five leading publishing houses” and watched as every one rejected it, a story he first recounted in a 1920 brochure announcing a new self-published edition of The Jungle.

Frustrated, Sinclair resolved to publish the book on his own. In a letter published in the Appeal to Reason (November 18, 1905), Sinclair criticized capitalist publishing and requested that readers help subsidize the printing costs by ordering copies in advance. He began to trim the work according to his taste and to have the book set into type. Then a surprise turn of events transpired: Doubleday, Page offered him a contract.

Label from inside cover of Jungle Publishing Company edition, 1906 Sinclair was satisfied that Doubleday would not pressure him to make changes he could not accept. In a follow-up letter published in the Appeal (December 16, 1905), Sinclair alluded to “an offer from a publishing house of the highest standing, which is willing to bring out the book on my own terms.” Because he had already accepted individual orders, however, Sinclair continued to invite donations and superintend the book’s typesetting. He asked Doubleday to permit him to publish his own small concurrent edition. Their memorandum of agreement was signed on January 8, 1906.

Just one month later, in February 1906, Doubleday, Page put out The Jungle, and the book took the world by storm. Simultaneously, an edition of five thousand copies appeared under the imprint of “The Jungle Publishing Company.” Its cover was nearly identical, except for an embossed addition: the Socialist Party’s symbol of hands clasped across the globe. Pasted inside was a label identifying it as the “Sustainer’s Edition.” The Doubleday edition and this special edition were both issued in New York and printed from the same plates, as prepared by Sinclair.

Cover of Doubleday, Page edition, 1906 Sinclair’s memoir American Outpost (1932) corroborates this chronology: "I forget who were the other publishers that turned down The Jungle. There were five in all; and by that time I was raging, and determined to publish it myself. ...I offered a 'Sustainer's Edition,' price $1.20, postpaid, and in a month or two I took in four thousand dollars—more money than I had been able to earn in all the past five years. ...I had a printing firm in New York at work putting The Jungle into type. Then, just as the work was completed, some one suggested that I offer the book to Doubleday, Page and Company. So I found myself in New York again, for a series of conferences with Walter H. Page and his young assistants. ...Doubleday, Page agreed to bring out the book, allowing me to have a simultaneous edition of my own to supply my 'sustainers.' The publication was in February, 1906, and the controversy started at once."

The version that See Sharp Press disparages as “censored” and “commercial,” in other words, is the very version that Sinclair approved, the one that his socialist readers subsidized, and the one that he fought to bring before a wide public without sacrifice of “blood and guts.”

In her introduction, De Grave holds that the 1906 edition was politically vitiated, that it “skirted the realities of disease and death among the poor” and “apologized to the rich and powerful by its silences.” This misimpression arises from a grave analytical error. De Grave presumes that because, say, a given passage condemning capitalism was excised, the resultant novel somehow excuses capitalism. For the most part, however, Sinclair was pruning away duplicative material. It is an absurdity to allege that The Jungle, recognized by millions as one of the leading social novels of the twentieth century, apologized for the rich or overlooked disease and death among the poor.

Equally fanciful is De Grave’s contention that Sinclair watered down the novel’s “ethnic flavor” by modifying its Lithuanian spellings and terms. She makes a great deal, for example, of Sinclair’s adjustment of a minor female character’s name from Aniele Juknos to Aniele Jukniene. This “telling alteration,” declares De Grave, made “the name less Slavic by adding the Romance-language ending.” In actuality, Sinclair was rectifying a blunder. Jukniene is the married feminine form of Jukna; “Juknos” was erroneous. In his meticulous new linguistic analysis Upton Sinclair: The Lithuanian Jungle (2006), Giedrius Subačius, a professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago, writes, “The Lithuanian language of the 1906 edition would have looked quite correct, accurate, and standardized to contemporary Lithuanians, unlike the first newspaper edition of 1905, which contained many more dialectal features, inconsistencies, and mistakes.”

The Jungle was revised, not suppressed. It was published precisely as Sinclair wished. Its refashioning was not ruinous, and Sinclair emended it voluntarily, not under duress. The 1905 text of The Jungle is best understood not as pristine and superior, but as an unevenly executed rough draft produced in great haste. Sinclair truncated it for aesthetic reasons. The result was a more concise text that retains the novel’s political, ethnic, and naturalistic sensibilities while eliminating some of the tedious didacticism of the first draft. (Most literary critics still believe there's too much of that in the novel, as it is.)

Rewriting abounds in literary history. Charles Dickens, for example, altered the ending of Great Expectations, serialized in 1860-1861, when it appeared as a book, yielding to the entreaties of his friend, the playwright Edward Bulwer-Lytton. Shakespeare, Milton, and Wordsworth all published different versions of identical works.

There is value, to be sure, in having the 1905 version of The Jungle available in print. It contains, for example, explicit elaborations upon the “jungle” as a metaphor for capitalist civilization, as well as a direct mention of Harriet Beecher Stowe, whose novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin was a model for The Jungle. We need an authoritative scholarly edition of The Jungle that would demarcate precisely which passages were cut or altered between its 1905 and 1906 versions, with an introduction explaining, in a measured way, the significance of the changes. In the meantime, we have the See Sharp edition, hyperbolic to the point of irresponsibility.

Ironies abound in this situation. A radical publisher betrays suspicion of change. A supposedly truer text is promoted with claims contradicted by the evidence. An edition of a novel that indicts capitalism repeatedly for fleecing gullible consumers is advertised misleadingly. A publishing house that accuses all others of crass commercial motives happens upon a cash cow it is unlikely to relinquish.

The failure of the American left is less a result of censorship than of a paucity of ideas capable of winning over new audiences not yet committed to the cause. The left will never transcend the culture of capitalism unless it forgoes stratagems that advance neither social justice nor historical truth. The fault, dear Brutus, lies in ourselves.