September 30, 2006

The Latest on Josh Wolf, The Bloger Who Decided Prison Was Better Than Being A Goverment Stool Pigeon

What is going out to media from Josh’s lawyer, Martin Garbus

I thought you would be interested.

I am presently representing Josh Wolf, the jailed San Francisco blogger, who refused the Grand Jury subpoena to turn over pictures of a WTO demonstration.

Josh Wolf is being subpoenaed because the Anti-Terrorism Task Force believes he may have information about “anarchists” and other people who were at the demonstration. He’s already stated, and you will see, that there’s nothing in his tape in any way relating to the police car. The FBI and the government, having failed to be remarkably successful in going against Al Qaeda and related people, are now going after “terrorists” totally unrelated to the “September 11th problem.” They are using the September 11th issues to throw a net over other people who would normally be out of the reach of any Grand Jury. That’s why the Josh Wolf situation is so pernicious.

The difference between Judith Miller, the San Francisco Barry Bonds writers and Josh is apparent.

The Barry Bonds writers had Grand Jury information as a result of a leak.

Judith Miller had information potentially relevant to an ongoing federal investigation of a federal crime.

Unfortunately, the probabilities are that he will wind up being the longest-jailed journalist in America.

News from Josh

I got a letter today and I also want to thank Dr. Johnson, Kurt’s dad (Kurt is Josh’s roommate) for calling me and letting me know that Josh was doing well. Also thanks to Josh’s lawyers who have passed on news after seeing him in person as Jim Wheaton was able to do, or after speaking with him on the phone as Marty Garbus did in New York. Also thanks to Josh’s friends in Dublin, especially Scott and Kurt, who have helped Josh get by with sharing their supplies as the commissary is closed for inventory. Josh is doing well, concerned about making sure that his Wiki connects to his blog and vice versa. He has asked me to contact some more technical friends to post his book requests and I will ask him how he wants those to be spaced, as he can only have 3 books at once. I am really happy that I am going up to see him this weekend. We have hired a publicist to help work on the publicity on the case and Josh’s lawyer, Marty, has great contacts in New York and is working with the media there.If you are contacted about press please call me and I will give you the cell phone number of Madhis, our publicist.


Write to Josh

All correspondence may be reviewed by anonymous authorities. All letters must have a return address.

Joshua Wolf 98005-111
Federal Correctional Institution - Dublin
5701 8th St. Camp-Parks, Unit J2
Dublin, CA 94568

Books may be sent in to me, but only through a bookseller. There is a book list on my wiki; which will be kept up-to-date.

Palestine. Israel: Update from Anarchists Against the Wall

This Friday demonstration was on both Muslim Ramadan (day hours fasting) and Jewish new year... and an exceptional early Autumn Hamsin (hot and dry whether) day. In spite of these the traditional Friday demonstration was not abolished. At noon, about 60 people - Palestinians, internationals and Israelis of the anarchists against the wall initiative started the march on the road towards the separation fence. In spite of the small number, the Ramadan fasting and very hot whether the marching was fast and was accompanied by chanting. When we reached the fence of the last house of the village we had a surprise: the Israeli state forces who confronted us there for the last month trying to put end to the Friday demonstrations with all means they had, were absent. We could see them far away at the entrance to the route of the fence. So, we continued marching not knowing what to expect.

When we arrived at the gate to the route of the separation fence, we still did not know what to expect. The "welcome" words of the commander of state forces was the declaration of the area as a closed military zone. However he immediately added that we can do there our demonstration as long as we do not try to force our way.

When few of us tried to push forward the commander ordered to arrest any one who will really cross the line, but as a matter of fact the half hearted push got a "gentle" counter push - no use of batons or arrests.

For a short while we stayed there telling the state forces what we think on them and afterwards started to return to the village.

On our way we could hear from the olive trees orchards on the two sides of the road the confrontation between teams of state forces sent to provoke the stone throwing youth, and the youth. We hear the shooting of the rubber coated bullets and seeing some of stone throwers in action.

Another week of joint struggle of Israelis and the people of Bil'in against the separation fence and occupation. It started Monday at a tract of land on the West of of the separation fence within the settler colonialist town. We erected there a sign board declaring the intended building of hotel Falastin. We did it on the exact piece of land the settler colonialists had to cover with earth and give back to the Bil'in villager owner - after building there a two lanes road and a square.

Noam Chomsky's Interview with NOW

NOW on the News examines the "why" behind current headlines. Listen to Maria Hinojosa's conversation with esteemed intellectual Noam Chomsky, as he questions both Clinton and Bush, and shares how he believes opportunities for peace are being squandered.

Interview Highlights:

* "Why is there a prolonged applause [when Hugo Chavez spoke at the U.N. last week]? Maybe it's because of the substance of what he said ... that the U.S. is a leading threat to peace in the world. That's not controversial."

* "There was a false claim [by Hugo Chavez], it turns out, that I had died."

* "Even in Europe, which is where there is the largest support for the U.S., that the U.S. leads by far, among the population, as a threat to world peace. Far beyond Iran."

* "For the last year, the Republican administration has been shooting itself in the foot ... The Democrats have not gained from this ... What that illustrates is that there is no functioning opposition party. People don't know what the Democrats proposals are."

* "The worst way to deal with it [terrorism] is to give gifts to Osama bin Laden ... Bush is Osama bin Laden's best ally, because the reactions are violence."

* "The tiny clique in Washington that is barely holding on to power might actually attack Iran ... will we allow them to drive to a war that could have tremendous consequences, it could blow up the region."

* "Clinton himself acted in ways which increased the threat of terror."

* "We are in an extremely dangerous situation ... in fact literal threats to survival ... but on the other hand there is every reason for optimism."


September 29, 2006

October 5: There is a Way! There is a Day!

Remember, Remember, the fifth of OCTOBER....

Think of all the people who are deeply distressed over the direction in which the Bush regime is dragging the country - and the world... All the people who are outraged over the way in which this regime is arrogantly seeking to bludgeon into submission people in the Middle East, and throughout the world, while trampling on the rights of the people in the U.S. itself... All the people who care about the future of humanity and the planet we live on, and who recognize the many ways in which the Bush regime is increasingly posing a dire threat to this... All the people who are stirred with a profound restlessness by these feelings but are held back by the fear that they are alone and powerless; or who say that they wish something could be done to stop and reverse this whole disastrous course, but nothing will make a difference; or who hope that somehow the Democrats will do something to change this, when everyday it becomes more clear that they will not... All these people, who make up a very large part of the population of this country and whose basic sentiments are shared by the majority of people throughout the world...

Imagine if, from out of this huge reservoir of people, a great wave were unleashed, moving together on the same occasion, making, through their firm stand and their massive numbers, a powerful political statement that could not be ignored: refusing that day to work, or walking out from work, taking off from school or walking out of school -- joining together, rallying and marching, drawing forward many more with them, and in many and varied forms of creative and meaningful political protest throughout the day, letting it be known that they are determined to bring this whole disastrous course to a halt by driving out the Bush Regime through the mobilization of massive political opposition.

If that were done, then the possibility of turning things around and onto a much more favorable direction would take on a whole new dimension of reality.

It would go from something only vaguely hoped for, by millions of isolated individuals, and acted on by thousands so far, to something that had undeniable moral force and unprecedented political impact.

There is a way to make this happen. There is a day, coming soon, on which people will be mobilizing to make this a reality. There is a vehicle and a means through which anguish, outrage and frustration can be transformed into truly meaningful, positive and powerful political mobilization.

On October 5, 2006, on the basis of the Call, The World Can't Wait - Drive Out the Bush Regime!, people throughout the country will be stepping forward in a day of mass resistance. The breadth, the depth, the impact and the power of that day depends not only on those in The World Can't Wait organization, and others, who are already organizing for this day -- it depends on you, on us, on all those who have been hoping and searching for a means to do something that will really make a difference.

If we fail to act to make this a reality, then it will definitely make a difference -- in a decidedly negative way. But if we do take up the challenge to build for this, and then do take history into our hands on that day, through political action on the massive scale that is called for -- it can make all the difference in the world, in a very positive sense and for the possibility of a better future for humanity.


"The point is this: history is full of examples where people who had right on their side fought against tremendous odds and were victorious. And it is also full of examples of people passively hoping to wait it out, only to get swallowed up by a horror beyond what they ever imagined. The future is unwritten. WHICH ONE WE GET IS UP TO US."`1

Humane Society Opposes Labeling Activists as “Terrorists”

Just in: The Humane Society of the United States has come out opposing the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act on civil liberties grounds, calling it "seriously flawed." This is great news, particularly since the industry groups are trying to rush the bill through in the next few days. Their fact sheet on the legislation is below (I don't see it posted anywhere on the HSUS site yet).

HSUS Fact Sheet:
Oppose the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act (AETA)

H.R. 4239 and S. 3880 (as amended)

The Humane Society of the United States has no tolerance for individuals and groups who resort to intimidation, vandalism, or violence supposedly in the name of animal advocacy, and we have spoken out repeatedly against violence in any form. We believe harassment, violence, and other illegal tactics are wholly unacceptable and inconsistent with a core ethic of promoting compassion and respect, and also undermine the credibility and effectiveness of mainstream, law-abiding organizations and individuals. However, the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act (AETA) threatens to sweep up – criminalizing as “terrorism” or otherwise chilling – a broad range of lawful, constitutionally protected, and valuable activity undertaken by citizens and organizations seeking change. Even with changes that have been incorporated into the current version of the legislation, it is still seriously flawed. -->more-->

The AETA threatens legitimate advocacy. The legislation uses vague, overbroad terms such as “interfering with” which could be interpreted to include legitimate, peaceful conduct. For example, someone who uses the Internet to encourage people not to buy eggs from a company producing eggs with battery cages could be charged with terrorism for causing the company a loss of profits. Likewise, someone who seeks to “interfere with” the cruel treatment of puppies by filming the brutal conditions at a puppy mill, causing lost profits for the company when the film is publicized, could be charged with terrorism. The very risk of being charged as a terrorist will almost certainly have a chilling effect on legitimate activism.

The AETA is not clear. The bill imposes penalties for “economic damage,” including loss of profits. It provides an exemption for “lawful economic disruption (including a lawful boycott) that results from lawful public, governmental, or business reaction to the disclosure of information about an animal enterprise.” But this exemption doesn’t explicitly include activities such as whistleblowing and investigations that may well cause loss of profits. And whether an activist’s actions are subject to criminal penalties will depend on whether a public, governmental, or business audience reacts in a lawful way, something out of the activist’s control. Moreover, this exemption doesn’t tie back to the offense, which uses different words than “economic damage,” so a court might disregard the exemption language altogether. (We had requested a clear exception in the offense section: “Nothing in subsection (a) shall be construed to prohibit any damage or loss of property that results from boycotts, protests, demonstrations, investigations, whistleblowing, reporting of animal mistreatment, or from any lawful public, governmental, or business reaction to the disclosure of information about an animal enterprise.”)

The AETA is a solution in search of a problem. Under the current federal law, the Animal Enterprise Protection Act of 1992, which the AETA seeks to amend, there have recently been several successful convictions, yielding sentences of 3-5 years for activities such as running a web site to incite vandalism and violence. (According to the Department of Justice, the national average sentence for a violent assault is 5 years, and sexual assault is 6 years.) Given that, it’s not clear that existing law even needs to be strengthened. Law enforcement agencies already have the tools they need to successfully prosecute and convict people who engage in campaigns of harassment and intimidation.

Passing the AETA reflects misplaced priorities in Congress. It is particularly disheartening to think Congress may rush forward with this ill-advised bill, yet not enact reasonable and long-overdue reform, such as the Animal Fighting Prohibition Enforcement Act (H.R. 817/S. 382). Purportedly, the AETA sponsors want not only to penalize, but also to prevent, extremist conduct that endangers animal enterprises and the people associated with them. When Congress fails to act on modest animal welfare reforms like the animal fighting bill, it makes it more difficult for organizations like The HSUS to make the case to activists that meaningful change is possible working through the system – and that they should pursue legal channels rather than taking matters into their own hands.

September 28, 2006

Support PGH ARA Members Arrested Confronting Christian Fascists!

2 Radical Queer activists arrested in Pittsburgh, PA!

On September 20th two Pittsburgh Anti-Racist Action members were arrested during a demonstration against Focus on the Family, a large right-wing Christian organization holding a rally at Mellon Arena in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. They were charged with disorderly conduct and later released. The arrests occurred after an assault by Mellon Arena security on the demonstration, involving security guards punching and kneeing participants and calling them "Faggots".

The demonstration, called by a newly formed group of anti-fascists named Pittsburgh Antifa, was to be an alternative to the coalition of faith-based GLBT groups' "Presence" outside the arena. The demonstration held by the coalition had strict guidelines, such as no taking to the streets, no yelling, no chanting, and numerous other requirements to participate in the "presence". The Antifa contingent, which consisted of radical queers, anarchists, and allies, sought a more confrontational approach and wanted to directly confront attendees about their homophobic and sexist views. When the group approached Gate 1 they were attacked by security, which resulted in two participants being arrested for disorderly conduct while trying to defend themselves. They received summons to appear in Pittsburgh City Court and will likely face fines and court costs. Both are low-income activists who need financial support. As a movement it is our responsibility to support those who fight for us and sometimes take the fall. We are all at risk of arrest at any time for our participation in radical movements and when one of us is attacked it is an attack on us all.

Solidarity Forever!

If you want to mail cash or a money order, e-mail us at and we'll happily arrange it. We'll be accepting PayPal donations shortly; e-mail us if you wish to donate using PayPal.

If you have Paypal or a credit card you can donate us money through the ARA Network's store at We are under the "Support ARA" category.

You can send messages of support to the Pittsburgh ARA at All donations will go into a legal fund that is used to help radicals and anti-fascists in trouble.

Review: Emma Goldman: A Documentary History of the American Years, Volume 1

by David Porter

Emma Goldman: A Documentary History of the American Years, Volume 1 – Made for America, 1890-1901. Edited by Candace Falk. 655 pp. Berkeley, California: University of California Press, 2003. $60.00

This book is lengthy, expensive and aimed primarily toward a scholarly, not activist, audience. That said, volume I of Emma Goldman: A Documentary History of the American Years, a product of the massive 25-year-long Emma Goldman Papers Project at UCal-Berkeley, is a quite valuable, intensely-researched, new, detailed reference source for readers interested in greater understanding, at the micro-level, of the early influences, nuances and contexts of Emma Goldman’s personal and political evolution. The four-volume series (the second volume is due in November 2004) and the larger Emma Goldman Papers microfilm project are good reminders of the importance of her inspiring life and are very substantial resources for students and academic scholars alike. Anarchists will find the present volume interesting and potentially useful especially when translating Goldman’s issues and struggles to our current context.

The book and the larger Emma Goldman Papers Project raise the broader issue of the purpose and usefulness of scholarly anarchist history generally. Three concerns especially stand out: the danger of the weight of the past, the utility of relevant historical models for the present and the skill in presenting subject matter which bolsters authentic anarchist group memory with major substantive issues and with vivid spirit of the historical anarchists concerned.

As social beings, we seek clues, models, inspiration from many sources to make our own lived experience more intelligible, liberating and fulfilling, identifying better the sources of our alienation and oppression, choosing better strategies by which to overcome them, and finding pathways to positive and creative expression. But relying too much on external sources also leads to dependency, distrust of our own capabilities, and inappropriate quiesence in response to poor or irrelevant models. For such reasons, many contemporary anarchists, no doubt like those of previous generations, complain about the oppressive weight or unchosen “authority” of the anarchist “hall of fame,” the most well-known anarchist theorists or activists of the past, such as Proudhon, Bakunin, Kropotkin, Rocker, Malatesta, Berkman and Emma Goldman herself. Perhaps anarchists, more than adherents to any other political ideology, are especially sensitized to the dangers of constricting traditions and models — even from their own historical movement. (In 1900, Emma Goldman complained of “bosses” in the anarchist ranks herself [401].) Yet just as we gain by recognizing and learning from similar spirits or movement comrades in the present, we naturally can find affinities with individuals and movements in the past and recognize the long-range continuity of patterns of institutional exploitation and repression. One can choose freely to respect useful “authority of the past” without allowing it to dominate analysis or compel certain actions in the present.

Because of the tension between libertarian affirmation in the present and the potential “authoritarian” weight of past “anarchist heavies,” the most useful anarchist histories are those that access life experiences and contexts most readily recognizable for the reader. Better anarchist histories present, analyze and implicitly translate the fundamental issues, challenges, struggles and vital anarchist commitment of the historical context into contemporary imagery and terms, allowing readers vicariously to “participate” in that context, thereby to potentially combine such “experiential” knowledge and sources of political energy with their own.

The present volume provides direct access to over 100 original documents by, to, or concerning Emma Goldman in her first decade of anarchist activism (1892-1901). These letters, articles, newspaper interviews and speech accounts, and government surveillance and court reports, inaccessible until gathered as part of and supplementing the Project’s 1991 microfilm collection, provide an interesting impressionistic mosaic of Emma Goldman’s early political evolution — usefully supplementing, while not significantly modifying, Goldman’s own images of her development during this period as laid out dramatically in her autobiography, Living My Life. These new materials will be used by future historians to deepen our sensitivities to the smaller-scale shifts in Goldman’s consciousness and activity. Assisting that effort and as a significant bonus of its own, the research and editorial team for this volume commendably produced detailed footnotes as well as a lengthy section devoted to rich sketches of anarchist and other activists referred to in the original documents. Similar sections provide detailed descriptions of anarchist and other movement periodicals and organizations of the 1890s. Such material is invaluable for scholars of American and foreign anarchist movements of this period and hopefully will stimulate more new studies about such individuals and groups, quite beyond the connection with Emma Goldman herself.

Moreover, valuable for non-scholars who read this book is an interesting and quite well-written lengthy introductory essay (84 pages) by Candace Falk, the director of the Emma Goldman Papers Project and chief editor of this volume. Well-documented with useful footnotes of its own, this narrative and analytical essay moves readers through the changing circumstances, challenges, issues and patterns of Emma Goldman’s life in this decade with much more apparent coherence and even flow than the 396-page primary document “montage” section itself. Similarly, an easy-to-use 27-page chronology greatly assists readers in following the documented personal and public events of Emma Goldman’s evolution from 1869 to 1901 and relating these to the larger changing contexts of U.S. and international anarchist movements, labor and other social movements of Goldman’s concern and significant international political events more generally.

Most striking to me from the new material by or about Goldman in this book was her rapid transition from an instinctively rebellious, socially-concerned, but relatively isolated immigrant factory worker in Rochester to a highly self-confident, quick-thinking and very effective public personality and speaker among radical audiences from a roomful to several thousand at a time — all while still in her twenties. Newspaper accounts of Goldman’s public emergence (the many newspaper sources in this book are well-chosen and insightful) give a close-up sense of how sensational her rapid rise to “radical stardom” must have appeared at the time, all the more so as one of the rare women public speakers on any circuit. Her focused presence of mind, her quick study of audiences, her disarming wit, her overall political sophistication concerning the broader radical issues of the day and her rapid, articulate and passionate oratorical skills all combined to give her a charismatic presence and rhetorical effectiveness comparable, in more recent times, to Malcolm X and Martin Luther King.

With some exceptions (such as later emphases on birth control, conscription and critiques of Communism and fascism), Goldman’s most prominent broad topics of concern in this first decade were the same that she would emphasize for the remaining three decades of her life. Capitalist exploitation of labor, the evils of patriotism, the universal inborn libertarian instinct clouded by social conditioning, the subjugation of women, sexual freedom, the critical significance of free speech, the art and literature of social change, the negative role of organized religion, the immorality and destructiveness of war, the role of violence in combating exploitation and repression, the futility of political reform or statist politics generally and the overall vision of anarchist society all were frequent themes of her writing and speeches both. Though she later published fuller, more sophisticated and more articulate essays on these topics (such as republished in anthologies currently available), already Goldman’s confrontation with the issues concerning each topic demonstrated her own powerfully creative and evolving synthesis and insights, analyses and visions which even today are highly resonant.

Consider, for example, her stance in speeches, articles and interviews on the issue of individual acts of violence by radicals retaliating against economic exploitation and political repression. This first decade of Goldman’s activism was marked by attempted and successful assassinations, especially in Europe but also in the United States, by known or self-proclaimed anarchists. Anarchist speakers and writers everywhere had to address such issues given the popularity in some circles for violent “propaganda by deeds” and the ensuing scandalized and vengeful reaction of politicians, the press and much of the public. But the issue also concerned Goldman directly because of her secret involvement in planning with Alexander Berkman the assassination of Henry Clay Frick, Andrew Carnegie’s manager of the Homestead steelworks near Pittsburgh and instigator of bloody repression of striking steel workers there in 1892. As well, the issue especially related to Goldman because of newspaper claims about her inspiration of Leon Czolgosz, the assassin of U.S. president McKinley in 1901.

Essentially, her comments and writings reported in this volume show a gradual evolution from her 1892 collaboration with Berkman. While originally involved in gut-level vengeful violent reaction to an especially tyrannical action, hoping thus to ignite a social revolution, incrementally, Goldman moved to a more emotionally-distanced explanation of natural social and psychological conditions which produce individual acts of violence and ambivalence about their effects in helping anarchism (through overall ensuing publicity about anarchist ideals) or hurting the cause (through repressive backlashes and stereotyping of the movement). She also came to emphasize that individual violent rebellion was a negativistic reaction or emotional destructionism as opposed to the positive constructionist anarchist vision of a creative, free and egalitarian society. Consistently throughout this period, she acknowledged the nobility of individual self-sacrifice involved, while gradually coming to acknowledge as well, however ambiguously, the physical suffering of oppressors (such as the wounded McKinley) in such attacks.

Were the Goldman of 1902 transported to today’s world, my sense is that her position on Palestinian suicide bombers would thus understand and acknowledge their desperation in the face of harsh “state terrorism” against their communities while at the same time condemning both the policies of Israel and those authoritarian Palestinian ideological movements directly facilitating and encouraging such actions. She would deplore the tragic suffering of civilians killed or wounded in such attacks, while acknowledging early publicity benefits and later harm of such actions for the Palestinian liberation cause generally.

Add to Goldman’s intellectual and emotional stance the fact that those committing such acts at the end of the century came from her own movement (even if acting as individuals), or, in the case of Czolgosz, were perhaps partly inspired by her passionate words, and one can appreciate the delicate intensity of Goldman’s position and her courage in proclaiming it publicly against the hesitance or condemnation by some of her comrades and amidst bloodthirsty written and verbal attacks on herself and anarchism generally. Three decades later, Goldman’s sensibility about and ability to articulate both sides (emotional motivation vs. contradiction with the ideal) became obvious again, on a grand scale, in her zig-zag successive explanations and criticisms of Spanish anarchist collaboration in the Republican government and army in the Spanish civil war and revolution of the 1930s.

As in her discussion of the nature and role of political violence, Goldman’s special intensity and current subject matter in her speeches, articles and interviews reflected her own process of forging an anarchist vision and critique as much out of her own direct experience and observation as from the words and theories of others. In part, this reliance on her own experiential learning also led, unusually at the time, to a desire and effort to place the anarchist perspective within an American setting (and English language) more easily intelligible to what she perceived as increasing numbers potentially receptive in the broader population. Along with apparently just a handful of other social anarchist writers and speakers in the 1890s (such as Voltairine de Cleyre, Lucy Parsons, Kate Austin, and the editors of Lucifer, The Firebrand, and Solidarity) and probably more influential than any of these, Goldman dedicated already great effort to introducing anarchist ideals and political analysis to English-speaking audiences.

As part of this effort, increasingly in this period Goldman also cited libertarian themes and concepts in early American writers such as Paine, Jefferson, Thoreau and Emerson. At the forefront, given frequent police and politician interference with her public appearances, was her theme of the American revolution’s promised legacy of guaranteed free speech. Here, as in her personal example as a self-liberating woman, Goldman’s activism directly matched her substantive themes. Arguably, her ubiquitous insistent and publicized defiance of attempted restrictions on her own public speeches had as great, if not more, impact on public life during this and later periods as her written and verbal statements on this topic.

By activist and intellectual challenges of this sort, Goldman sought to present a mirror for her audiences to see clearly and objectively the realities of their own oppression. At the same time, she assumed, she directly articulated the fundamental thirst for free lives which everyone was born with and which she hoped to awaken by her example (368). By this “dual consciousness model” clearly stated in her remarks and writings of this period, those who maintained some level of self-dignity (as with activist class-conscious workers) and especially those with some social and moral education and fewer subsistence concerns (as with some elements of the middle class) were often unconsciously anarchist in orientation or at least better able to penetrate the fog of repressive socialization which had gradually obscured and smothered their inherent libertarian instincts from birth. With enough proper education and relief from repressive pressures of the state, capitalism, religion and other sources of authoritarian control, even a hardened brutal police lieutenant could awake to his own alternative liberatory self (442). “Were X-rays able to delve into the recesses of the human mind, we should all be astonished at the numbers of anarchists in existence but unknown to one another, and who have simply not had a chance to break through the layer of prejudices by which they are cocooned. And the social system stifling us would not long survive!” (321). In turn, Goldman viewed as essential the development “morally, intellectually, spiritually” of the individual, “as no amount of turning social conditions topsy turvy will better anything” without it (431). Ultimately, to create an anarchist society, “it is man who makes society, and not society that makes the man” (435).

Goldman’s concern with constantly challenging the limits of free speech also exemplifies the dual nature of her legacy generally in American life. In her successful effort to broaden her appeal to American audiences never before directly exposed to anarchists, she commendably inspired and emboldened large numbers of liberals or progressives to expand their vision of liberty for themselves and the society generally. To the extent that Goldman’s example and message inspired successful free speech struggles, more independent lives for increasing numbers of women, and greater numbers to strongly oppose American imperialism in Cuba and the Philippines, such developments both encouraged and reflected growing liberalization of American politics and society generally in this period. Such liberalization and the broadening of perspective involved, Goldman hoped, could in turn lead greater numbers also to eventually embrace and lead lives consistent with an implicit or explicit anarchist perspective itself (273, 453). Yet most of those so influenced no doubt remained committed to political activity within a statist framework. Such liberalization of perspective and activity in the end merely expanded the breadth and strength of reformist politics.

Already in this first decade, Goldman was aware of this dialectic, indicated her frustration with it (412), and readily denounced the oppressive limits and contradictions of reformism as the duplicitous friendly face of authoritarian statism generally (418). In her first decade of activism, she found herself both courted and marginalized by elements in rival socialist or trade union movements, as well as by middle class liberal groups and the liberal press. During Goldman’s later forced exile from the United States and the ascendance of Communist influence on the left in American life, her influence in the U.S., specifically in promoting a communitarian anti-statist perspective, was all the more marginalized, whatever the significance of her broad progressive thematic appeals.

The present volume and the broad Emma Goldman Papers Project more generally appear to emanate primarily from liberal and radical admiration for Goldman’s activist life and messages in a general progressive sense as “a champion of independent thought”(1), a “ubiquitous gadfly” (136), and a “public intellectual” (41). Several past biographies of Goldman (let alone the recent PBS video documentary on Goldman) have placed her in the same broadly-defined amorphous progressive tradition while de-emphasizing or even criticizing her emphatic anti-state perspective or anarchist commitment. From this perspective, Goldman becomes the exponent of women’s liberation, sexual freedom, anti-imperialism, free speech, and other causes virtually as ends in themselves, palatable to and, I believe, eventually cooptatively digested and transformed by statist political perspectives. (Ultimately, the end point of this perspective would be to assume that Emma Goldman, if now alive, would campaign for Kerry instead of her actual stance of denouncing all political parties and the quest for the presidency and statist power generally [244–45, 249] and believing in the need to work toward anarchist society even if it took 500 or more years to accomplish [441].)

This critique is not meant to diminish the importance of Goldman biographies or the Goldman Papers Project in potentially inspiring many with the liberatory example of her activist life and concerns. But to present, even only as an implicit “master narrative,” Goldman and her legacy in mainly these broad progressive terms is effectively to distort or even ignore the conscious guiding central focus — anarchism — of her life and political vision and critique. It then becomes understandable, however still surprising, how two agencies of the federal government, the National Archives and the National Endowment for the Humanities, could contribute substantial funds toward gathering and publicizing Goldman resources in the Goldman Papers Project.

An interesting result of the present volume, however, is that by its very nature of detailed documentation of her activist activities, speeches and writings, Goldman’s core inspiration by and passionate focus on anarchism becomes loud and clear. To their credit, again from their scholarly commitment to archival and documentary excellence rather than apparent priority concern for the anarchist movement as such, the editors of this book have given us very substantial background data on anarchist figures, groups and periodicals of this period. When one looks closely and seriously at Goldman and her activist context, as this volume does, it is impossible to avoid immersion in the unique goals, issues and commitment of the anarchist movement itself. Since probably most readers of this volume will be progressive research scholars themselves, we will have to await the written products of their effort to assess the ultimate result of this interesting contradiction for the further development of significant anarchist history. In the end, it is subjective interpretations by a book’s readers which create the meaning and value of a book and it is thus the existing consciousness of those readers of this volume which will determine in what way and to what end Emma Goldman’s message here will be passed on.

Chile: Six anarchists arrested after police raid squat

Santiago de Chile
In the morning of September 26th, special forces of the police broke into a squatted house located downtown, and six people, including a compañero from Spain, have been detained. Police say that molotov bombs and all the stuff required to prepare them were found in the place. Empty bottles (who doesn't have empty bottles at home?), kerosene (some of the people were jugglers and of course did fire juggling), sawdust (used for beds that the [black] cats in the house had), and of course "subversive material": zines, posters, banners, books, and videos and printed instructives to make molotov bombs. 4 bombs already made were found, according to the local CSI, who were there too. All the four bombs were supposed to be used in the protest organized for that day by the Nacional Association of Teachers and High School students organizations.

September 27, 2006

Static: Government Liars, Media Cheerleaders, and the People Who Fight Back

by Amy Goodman, David Goodman

From Publishers Weekly
Democracy Now! host Amy Goodman and her author brother, David Goodman, follow up their bestseller The Exception to the Rulers by again synthesizing radio interviews and commentary with secondary sources on charged issues that the corporate media too often overlook. "The Bush administration is obsessed with controlling the flow of information," the authors declare, citing examples from Iraq to Katrina. One glaring hypocrisy is the president's claim that "we do not render to countries that torture"; the authors find mounds of evidence to the contrary. They also remind us of the unseemly ties between Republican Party supporters and Pentagon contracts in Iraq. In one hilarious episode—lightly reported in the U.S. media—a British activist group, the Yes Men, hoaxed the BBC regarding Dow Chemical's apparent willingness to apologize for the Bhopal disaster. On Goodman's show, a former U.S. Army interrogator acknowledged that 98% of those picked up in Iraq "had not done anything." A brief final section highlights those who fight back, including antiwar mom Cindy Sheehan, and a former British ambassador in Uzbekistan who blew the whistle on that regime's human rights abuses. The book should be popular with fans of the show. (Sept. 5)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


Michael Moore on The Exception to the Rulers
"Pick up this book . . . and go raise some hell!"
Amy Rules! Buy It

Blogging in Cuba

Anarchist Librarian

I know that, today, I teach new things to public librarians (through my program, “Informing Informators”). I also blaspheme against everything in all the professional listservs that still didn´t censor me, I work with the PROPALE in Reading Animation tasks, I write in the Wikipedia, I collaborate with half a dozen Open Access Archives in Latin America, I have my own independent company provinding bio-medical information, I edit this blog where I tell my stories (and other blogs, where I tell others´ stories...), I travel a lot because I am a nomadic soul, and I am writing a couple of books that I´ll publish one day, in the future...

Am I all this?

Not at all... That´s “what” I am, circumstantially, not “who” I am... Actually I am a dreamer fighting for peace and equality; a crazy man who feels rage in front of injustices; an artist moved by the touch of old books; a musician turning his dreams into sounds; a library rat, almost blinded by too much reading; a lover of life and beauty; a solitary wolf looking for his place in the world; a winner laughing all his laughters and a loser crying all his tears...

I am an anarchist. And this is the reason of a lot of my attitudes.

I am a human being who still spends a lot of time writing letters to those who write him, helping people who need help, and smoking a couple of pipes in front of a couple of beers, with my friends.


Anna in Cuba: Mi Experiencia Cubana notes from a student from New York spending a semester in Cuba. Here finally I see some photos of the famous Malecón and a little bit of description of daily life with its ups and downs.

Sacramento Fall Anarchist Cafe

October 7, 2:00pm to 8:00pm at 2837 36th Street (36th and Broadway) at the Brickhhouse in Sacramento.

The anarchist cafe is a one day event for the exchange of anarchist ideas. We will gather for a day of sharing, learning, discussing, and merrymaking. It is a place to meet new people, talk about projects, or just wander around and enjoy. Please bring your friends, family, co-workers, and a lively spirit.

Speakers / Workshops / Discussions / Performers
-Emcee Lynx and Beltaine's Fire: putting the revolution back into hip-hop. see for more information.
-Know Your Rights with Christine Garcia of the Midnight Special Law Collective.
-Kevin Wehr will host a discussion on applying anarchist theory to real life.
-Mark Reichel will speak on the subject of the Green Scare and the case
-Zach! will be playing cheerful post-apocalyptic nihilist acordian music.
-Direct Action Anti Authoritarians will be hosting an introduction to anarchy discussion.
-Shon Mcfessel will be reading from his book "Suffled How It Gush" and speaking on anarchism in the Balkans.
-DIY soapmaking workshop.
-DIY bicycle repair.
-Free food will be provided by members of Sacramento Food Not Bombs.
-Bring a T-Shirt for stenciling!

Additional information and literature will be provided by:
-Black Powder Press
-Direct Action Anti-Authoritarians
-Midnight Special Law Collective
-Sacramento Indymedia
-Sacramento Food Not Bombs
-And more!

The Sacramento anarchist cafe is FREE!!

For more information, please email sactoacafe [at] riseup [dot] net

Sacramento: Vegan Brunch to Benefit Political Prisoners

On Saturday, September 30 at 11am we will be having a vegan brunch to support political prisoners. Admission is $15 in advance and $10 at the door. The event will be in midtown Sacramento. Please email for specifics.

Local vegan mastermind Davida Douglas will be preparing a vegan feast of:
French Toast,
Sweet Potato Sopes,
Coconut Strawberry Shortbread,
Soyrizo Tofu Scramble,
Summer Salad,
and Biscuits 'n Gravy.

Please join us for a cruelty free feast to support political prisoners.

Please email sacprisonersupport [at] riseup [dot] net for more details or to RSVP.

September 26, 2006

Josh is named journalist of the year!

Posted by liz

Along with Lance Williams and Mark Fainaru-Wada, (the Chronicle reporters also facing jail for non-cooperation with a federal grand jury), Josh has been selected as journalist of the year by the Northern California chapter of the Society for Professional Journalists for upholding the principles of a free and independent press. If Josh is out of jail, let’s hope, in time for the awards dinner on November 9 in San Francisco he will be recognized at that event.

From Liz
(Josh’s mom)

Often, banned books broach critical topics

Few modern stories of censorship that we hear take place in the present place and time. We are told that censorship was a bad thing when the Nazis burned books; we hear science fiction horror stories of a future where reading is outlawed. Such clear-cut notions of censorship make it easy to defend civil liberties when it means cheering for the good guys at the movies. What takes real courage is defending civil liberties in the here and the now, and that is exactly what the American Library Association is doing by declaring this week National Banned Books Week. The Yale College Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union is proud to take this opportunity to focus on the slow loss of civil liberties not just in censorship, but across the nation as well.

According to the ALA, in 2005, more than 100 novels, ranging from Margaret Atwood's "The Handmaid's Tale" to J.K. Rowling's "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince," were challenged or banned in American public schools. Often, these attacks on free speech came under the guise of protecting the youth from a host of ills, such as "mature themes," "adult language" and "violence." These nebulous terms were considered just cause for restricting the free flow of ideas. Although there is no need to teach fifth graders to build bombs, as "The Anarchist's Cookbook" does, one can hardly claim that the condemnation of bigotry in Harper Lee's "To Kill a Mockingbird" is damaging the nation's youth.

What some consider frightening or socially unacceptable ideas should be presented and discussed. Toni Morrison's "The Bluest Eye" does include violent and disturbing scenes of rape. But it is a valuable presence in a high school curriculum because it provides an opening for important discussions about morality. By raising difficult issues and working through them, students emerge with a better grasp not only on their own views but with an understanding of other ways of thinking. Classroom debates are a teaching tool for tolerance.

As college students, it is easy for us to dismiss the banning of "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn," "Of Mice and Men" or "The Scarlet Letter" as an issue solely for librarians and adolescents. Yet, for banned book week, it is important to consider what richness we might have missed out on while growing up because of censorship. What would elementary school have been without Judy Bloom? Or high school without "Brave New World" or "1984"? These books provide a different perspective on the world, further demonstrating that we do not live in a homogeneous society. If we value this diversity, it is important to protect the freedom to hold unpopular opinions or write about controversial ideas. The rise of new ideas depends upon such differences in outlook.

In July, the ACLU filed a lawsuit against the Miami-Dade school board over their removal of the book series "A Visit to …" from elementary school classrooms. They were removed after a parent objected to the portrayal of Cuban life in one of the books. Though seemingly minor, the censorship involved the removal of what an expert panel found to be an age-appropriate presentation of diverse cultures and traditions. By removing this exposure to other nations and peoples, the school board is making it more difficult to foster what ought to be one of the main goals of a modern classroom - cultural understanding.

We should take Banned Book Week as an opportunity to step back from our assumptions of normalcy and intellectual freedom and to critically observe how much our civil liberties are under attack. It should alarm citizens that the United States, once a supposed beacon of the free world, still has a serious problem with censorship. But book bans only highlight a larger truth - that defending civil liberties requires constant vigilance. The law is always in flux, and whether it's an issue of censorship, domestic spying or the prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, we must be aware of and involved in the actions of our government.

Liberty requires dedication. So this week, in honor of the occasion, grab that old copy of "Catcher in the Rye" and enjoy the freedom that makes this country what it is.

Kira Newman is a freshman in Silliman College. She is a member of the Yale College chapter of the ACLU.


by Doug Brunell

2006, Un-rated, 130 minutes

Anarchist publisher AK Press has released this DVD of two very important political documentaries: “Anarchism in America” and “The Free Voice of Labor: The Jewish Anarchists.” Enlightening and fascinating, these two films provide a look at a political viewpoint the mainstream media ignores as much as it misrepresents.

The first film, “Anarchism in America” is about director Steven Fischler and Joel Sucher’s journey around America (and Mexico) to visit with anarchists from all walks of life. They ask these people about the future of the movement, how they got involved in it, what impact it has had on their lives, and more. Everyone from the recently deceased Murray Bookchin to the Dead Kennedys are interviewed, and though this film came out in 1981, it still remains relevant today. If you have friends and family who know nothing about anarchism, this is the film to show them, as it also presents a great history lesson.

The second film, “The Free Voice of Labor: The Jewish Anarchists” is an uplifting film that serves as an inspiration for anarchists, though people with little knowledge of the movement may wonder what all the fuss is about.

The focus of the documentary is on a group of Jewish anarchists, many of whom worked on the newspaper “The Free Voice of Labor.” They are an aging group who have faced arrest, discrimination and violence (standard problems for most anarchists), but they haven’t given up hope. They continue to live their lives they way they see fit, and that should serve as a reminder to younger anarchists not to give up the fight even though your vision of the future hasn’t come to light by the time you turn twenty-five. (Another standard problem for many anarchists.)

This DVD is essential for anarchists and political junkies. The only thing missing is a current look at the anarchist movement (both these films were made well over a decade ago), but hopefully that will be a future project.

Revolution just ain't what it used to be

If you were to publicly declare your discontent with the U.S. government and your subsequent desire to abolish that government, the land of the free would likely reward you with an orange jumpsuit and a one-way ticket for an all-inclusive vacation at Guantanamo Bay.

Now imagine if you instead chose to stand in front of a crowded room and utter something along these lines: "I think all men-and women-are created equal and are endowed with certain undeniable rights, including life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. To secure these rights, governments are created and derive their powers from the consent of the governed. Whenever any form of government tries to destroy or take away these undeniable rights, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish that government and replace it with a new one."

Bingo: you're a high school history teacher. Okay class; turn to page 257. Today we'll be talking about Patrick Henry (and don't tell me "give me liberty or give me death" sounds an awful lot like what an insurgent might say).

Thomas Jefferson can pronounce: "Every generation needs a new revolution." But that doesn't mean I can. Honest Abe once declared: "Any people anywhere being inclined and having the power have the right to rise up and shake off the existing government, and force a new one that suits them better." Hey, I'd love a government that suits me-and most humans-better, but making plans to "shake off the existing government and force a new one" would just about guarantee you a place on that secret no-fly list.

Let's face it, revolution just ain't what it used to be. Mao Tse-Tung warned: "A revolution is not a dinner party, or writing an essay, or painting a picture, or doing embroidery." Today, revolution a Chevy commercial or a Beatles song. Che Guevara believed "the true revolutionary is guided by great feelings of love." By 1994, Newt Gingrich and his merry band of Republicans were using "revolution" to describe a minor reshuffling of ruling class allegiances. "The most heroic word in all languages is revolution," stated Eugene Debs, but if he were around today and typed "revolution" into Google, he'd find the top response was for a software company.

As long as you're not talking about the U.S. government, you can have as many revolutions as you please. You can have 33 per minute, for all Dick Cheney cares. Fitness, music, film, art, and countless ways to make money-the mutinous mood is alive and well. This time around, however, the revolution was indeed televised and is now enjoying a long, successful run in syndication.

Can the huddled befuddled masses to snap from their self-induced trance to recapture the subversive spirit of '76? I'll give the last word to Abraham Lincoln: "This country, with its institutions, belongs to the people who inhabit it. Whenever they shall grow weary of the existing government, they can exercise their constitutional right of amending it, or their revolutionary right to dismember or overthrow it."

Remember: Abe said it, not me.

September 25, 2006

Yearning for Change in Hungary

After three days of clashes with the police, the end of the week seems to have finished on a peaceful note. The nightly battles suddenly stopped on Thursday evening, and Friday was also witness to a night of silence. Although it looks as if calm has returned once again to the streets of Budapest, there is nevertheless an undercurrent of anger, frustration, and disappointment. Meanwhile, on the political front, pundits and politicians have already begun the blame game and are positioning themselves in order to milk what they can from the situation.

At the same time, a virtual reign of terror appears to have descended on the Hungarian capital. True, the original demonstration in front of parliament continues, as well as other smaller ones throughout the country. However, aside from these few places, the right of protest, and more importantly, the right to dissent, seems to have been sacrificed for fear of violence. Consequently, various university campuses throughout Budapest were closed during the week. Planned rallies and demonstrations were also cancelled, including an annual rally of bicycles down a main street in central Budapest to celebrate Car Free Day, an EU sponsored event. Meanwhile, along the main boulevard that encircles the city, shops closed early. Even McDonalds had closed its doors by late evening.

For many, it's quite odd how the violence which had plagued Hungary for the past few nights had suddenly stopped. Many believe that the disturbances were actually orchestrated. Some blame the political opposition. Others blame Prime Minister Gyurcsany, noting that he was able to quash dissent, one the one hand, and to divert attention from the Convergence Program on the other.

Anatomy of a Protest
As people try to make sense of the past week in Budapest, it's disconcerting how the violent demonstrations have all been lumped together as if they were all somehow one and the same. A feeble attempt even had been made to try to besmirch the original, peaceful protest in front of parliament, but that attempt quickly went nowhere. However, what has succeeded was to group all three nights of violent protest as one, when in reality they were two separate types carried out by two distinct groups.

Those involved in the violence on Tuesday and Wednesday nights were clearly of a different motivation than the massive crowd which attacked the television building on Monday evening. Not only was the crowd noticeably smaller (only one or two hundred compared to the thousands on Monday) they were mostly young and the percentage of skinheads among them was much greater. In fact, it was a crowd typically seen at football matches. The graffiti was also noticeably different: whereas on Monday evening most of the words which were spray-painted compared the police with the AVH (the former secret police from the Stalinist era), the graffiti of Tuesday and Wednesday evenings were primarily anarchist in nature, a typical one being "No power for anyone" followed by the A enclosed in a circle.

The attack on the television building on Monday night, although it was violent and contained many instances of senseless vandalism and theft, nevertheless had a different tone altogether than what happened the following two nights. The crowd included many who had felt that the authorities acted inappropriately by not allowing a petition to be submitted and broadcast. Also, many protesters claim that the police actually started it all by provoking the crowd when objects were thrown at the protesters from the upper floors.

If the ultimate objective of the violence was to quash dissent, then it certainly worked. Many groups and organizations which had planned demonstrations to protest against certain aspects of the government's reform package -- some of them planned as far back as a month in advance -- suddenly cancelled their events for fear of violence. For instance, the Students National Conference, which had previously planned a huge demonstration in Budapest, subsequently cancelled their gathering because of security fears. Instead, they plan to hold their demonstration in October, after the elections and the official acceptance of the government's reform packages. At this time, however, it will be too late, as the educational reforms they will be protesting against will have become a fait accompli by then.

Likewise, most parties who had planned to hold some kind of rally ended up canceling their events. Among them was the main opposition party, the FIDESZ, which had one planned for Saturday. The reason for doing so, as with other groups and organizations, was the fear of violence. The police had said they had information about a bomb plot at the rally. Oddly enough, this was the exact same type of "information" they had about six months ago when fear of violence was used to cancel a political rally during the national election campaign. Even more strange is when the FIDESZ wanted to discuss possible security arrangements, the police didn't show up for the meeting.

As with all groups, organizations, and parties which planned to hold some sort of rally or demonstration, the police had made it clear that it was the organizers of the event -- and not the police -- who were responsible for ensuring security at the event. As a result, since none were obviously capable of doing so, the only option left was to cancel or postpone.

This attitude on the part of the police, however, is contrary to the Helsinki Accords, in where the security arrangements at a demonstration is the specific responsibility of the police. The organizers of an event are only responsible for not inciting the crowd to violence. That other elements may join in and cause trouble is not their responsibility, but that of the police; they are supposed to protect protesters and to make sure any troublemakers are isolated and prevented from causing any trouble.

That the police have been unwilling to guarantee security at an event, and have even subtlety threatened organizers by putting the responsibility for public security on their shoulders, raises serious questions as to the true role of the police during the past week. Indeed, the police have come under increasing criticism for the way they have handled the entire situation.

Questions remain, for instance, as to how and why they were so drastically "unprepared" during the events on Monday evening. Most of the police officers in the front line were green recruits brought up from the countryside; they had little training and were specifically ill-equipped with flimsy plexi-shields that aren't usually used. Most of the injuries sustained by the police were because these shields easily broke. Furthermore, being young and inexperienced, they had little or no training on how to handle such a huge and angry crowd; thus, many ended up being disarmed.

It was a totally different story on the following two nights. The police were suddenly very well prepared, both tactically and in terms of equipment. They were also much more brutal; many innocent people were arrested and roughly treated. It seems an unprepared and inexperienced force was deliberately used on the first night to handle a large and angry crowd; the two following nights had the professionals out in full force to deal with a small band of troublemakers.

For the young and often terrified officers put in the front line on Monday night, it would seem that a class action suit is in order, especially for those who were injured as a result. Their superiors need to answer some tough and serious questions about that fateful night -- about not only why they were there but why they were given shoddy equipment.

For the moment, however, the police are on a propaganda offensive. The differences between Monday and the two following nights has been glossed over and used to show how the police were able to quickly clamp down on the troublemakers, noting the number of arrests. Two youths were served up as an example of how fast and efficient the police had suddenly become. The only problem here was the youths in question were two drunken teenagers who happened to be walking in the area where the street violence had taken place and were simply arrested for disturbing the peace. They both received a three-day prison sentence and were promptly released.

Playing Politics
Over the past week it's clear that political parties in Hungary were running scared. The view of Hungary's political elites is that in a democracy people have no right to engage in street politics. Little do they realize that this is the very essence of a democracy. Moreover, people also should have the right to change their government at will if the government has lost all sense of legitimacy. This not only happened in Portugal, but on several occasions in France it was the people who dictated government policy and not the other way around -- as the protests last year clearly showed. To limit the democratic freedoms of the general public to an election only once every four years is not democracy, but a benevolent form of dictatorship.

Unfortunately, as soon as it became clear that the protests and violence were under control, it was politics as usual. Each party tried to interpret events to its own advantage. Moreover, each side ended up blaming the other for the violence. Also, whenever the violent protests were referred to, they were often transformed from small disturbances limited to Budapest (and only to a small area within the city) to somehow include the entire country.

The conservative MDF was perhaps the most virulent in this case. The party is still trying to maintain its political existence by playing one major party off the other, regardless of which side of the political spectrum it's on. Hence, it often pursues objectives that are often contrary to its own objectives and interests. A case in point was when the party leader, Ibolya David, during a television interview, said that what was needed was for the prime minister to apologize, a sudden shift from when she stated firmly two days previous that the prime minister must resign. At the same time, as a quick stab to the main opposition party, she said that the FIDESZ should call its people from the streets, as if everything has been organized and initiated by the FIDESZ.

The ruling Socialists, meanwhile, caused a stir when it was revealed that they initiated a program to photograph and film participants at demonstrations. The privacy commissioner voiced his concern that the filming and documenting of participants contravened privacy laws and were a violation of a person's rights.

Indubitably, there has been increasing attempts by the FIDESZ to co-opt the demonstrations for its own purposes. This is a tragedy in more than ways than one. Firstly, it sidelines many on the left who feel that Gyurcsany should resign because his comments were not only insulting, but raise certain questions as to his legitimacy. Miklos Tamas Gaspar, a leading left-wing philosopher, as well as Istvan Stumpf, a left-of-center political analyst, are two well-known examples of those on the left who believe that Gyurcsany must go. They also feel that people have the right to feel angry and protest, although like many others they condemn the violence.

There is no doubt that many on the left feel betrayed and let down by the prime minister, while for those on the right his comments merely reinforce what had been felt for so long. Unfortunately, the problem with a de facto two-party political system, as there now is in Hungary, is that no viable alternative exists. Many on the left thus feel isolated, while those on the right feel cheated. To make matters worse, by viewing the protests as simply a disgruntled right-wing demonstration, any form of solidarity between different groups is lost, and the whole episode breaks down as a general squabble between left and right.

The only chance for the protests to gain some sort of political leverage is if not only those on the different sides of the political spectrum come together, but different sectors of society also take part. In other words, there is a need for strike action and various forms of civil disobedience, all individually organized but with a common purpose. While in the countryside some demonstrations were called off because of telephone threats, a few actions did take place, namely the blocking of roads. Still, those most affected by the lies and deceptions of the prime minister -- school teachers, health professionals, farmers, students, small, and medium sized businesses -- failed to take appropriate action and have so far stayed on the sidelines. Individuals may have taken part, but what is missing is for whole groups, especially the unions, to take action. It is only when protests become networked and a certain amount of paralysis sets in does the full force of "people power" makes itself felt.

Foreign Pressure and Propaganda
Over the past week, anyone trying to travel to Hungary, in particular Budapest, may have found a hard time getting to the country from abroad. Journalists suddenly flocked to the capital; as a result, all flights to Budapest were booked. Those journalists not lucky enough to reserve a seat were forced to make their way by train or other means.

As events quickly unfolded, it soon became clear that outside of Hungary various groupings took sides on whether Gyurcsany should resign or whether he should hold firm. This was best exemplified by the two main factions within the EU parliament, with one side calling for the prime minister to resign immediately and the other offering its moral support to the embattled Hungarian leader.

As far as neo-liberalist politicians and the corporate media are concerned, now that Hungary has let off a little steam, it's time for the country to get serious once again. Indeed, a hint of bias in support for the government could be detected in the reporting of several leading mainstream media outlets.

In Europe, Deutsche Welle made several errors, such as when it noted how Gyurcsany's popularity slipped from 40 percent to 35 percent -- this despite the fact that the prime minister's rating is widely acknowledged to be at 20 percent or lower. Also, when news came out that the FIDESZ had decided to cancel its political rally that was planned for Saturday, it was reported that the main opposition party's "anti-government" demonstration had been cancelled. The rally was not an "anti-government" demonstration; it was a party rally planned before the events of the past week. In fact, it was set to take place during the last weekend before the vote. That the events of the past week happened to coincide with this rally, and that the rally would no doubt take into account recent events, in no way means it was an anti-government rally. The Deutsche Welle news report, however, left the impression that the FIDESZ was an organizer of sorts in the anti-government demonstrations taking place in Budapest.

In a similar fashion, the BBC at times tended to obscure the true nature of the demonstrations taking place. In one report shortly after the attack on the television building on Monday evening, BBC World reported how the people were protesting against the government's economic policies. Here again, the report was a little misleading: the protests generally are not about economics, but the content and language of the prime minister's secret speech at the end of May in which he admitted they had lied to the people over the past year and a half in order to win the election and that they had done nothing while in power the past four years. Thus, although the government's economic policies has many people upset ever since they were introduced over the summer, it's not the primary reason why people took to the streets in September.

Still, it's the economic aspects which have become the focus for most mainstream media outlets in their support for Gyurcsany and his government. Indeed, the Financial Times went so far as to argue that only Gyurcsany is capable of seeing through the reforms that are absolutely necessary for the country. A change in government, therefore, would lead to disaster.

The idea that only Gyurcsany can solve Hungary's economic woes is clearly false. An ambitious leader of the former communist youth movement, he quickly amassed his fortune in just a few years through financial trickery, rather than sound business practices. Also, the fact that he so pervasively lied is quite problematical. If he once lied, and admitted to doing so thoroughly and for such a long period of time, how can he ever be trusted?

And it's not only to the Hungarian electorate he lied: when he tried to push through his first budget after succeeding Peter Medgyessy as prime minister, he tried to talk his way out of the omission of the cost for Hungary's highway building projects by referring to "another way of accounting". This either entails that Gyurcsany is a pathological liar and tried to hoodwink even EU officials or that he seriously believed then that there was another way of accounting. Either way, it shows how the Hungarian prime minister is not someone who is qualified or able to solve the country's problems.

In addition to this, the corporate-friendly way in which the Gyurcsany government wishes to solve the country's economic woes runs counter to what the European Commission (EC) itself regards as the basis for a sound economic policy. The EC has reiterated on several occasions that it is Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) which are the backbone to the European economy and the key to future growth and innovation. Yet the present reform package of the Hungarian government does exactly the opposite: it burdens SMEs and micro-enterprises to the point that many will end up shutting their doors, pushing people either toward the unemployment lines or the shadows of the black and grey economies.

Meanwhile, corporations continue to enjoy various forms of corporate welfare through various financial incentives such as preferential loans. At the same time, the government turns a blind eye to unfair competition practices by these corporations (especially large supermarket chains such as Tesco, Auchan, etc.) in which prices are pushed to such artificially low levels that local merchants find it impossible to compete. It's the same type of strategy which McDonalds used many years ago to wipe out Hungary's local fast food outlets and gain a substantial share of the country's fast food market.

Although the Convergence Program has been accepted by Brussels, it also has been noted that major parts of it are considered to be risky. This raises the question as to whether "Eurocrats" in Brussels actually believe in the program or whether they feel that by rejecting it the Hungarian government might fall. Since most would prefer to avoid the latter, economic pragmatism has been sacrificed for the sake of political expediency.

In Hungary, meanwhile, the biggest worry seems to be the image of the country and that if the country doesn't get its house in order it will lose EU funding. Building a sound democracy and a sound economic policy doesn't seem to be a priority. What is important is to make sure the government gets the cash from Brussels; how this cash will be spent afterward is another story. Thus, a change in government at this stage would only complicate matters.

This, unfortunately, is where the crux of the problem is. It's not so much how the health services or other sectors of society have been run, albeit there are some serious problems in these areas which definitely need to be fixed. Rather, the way in which the government has spent the money it has thus far received from Brussels, as well as the country's faulty privatization process which cost the government much in terms of lost revenue, is the main problem to be tackled. There is no sign that there has been any reform in this area, nor does there seem to be any sort of system of checks and balances set up to keep an eye on how EU funding will be properly distributed by the government.

A Second Regime Change?
Contrary to the hopes and predictions of some, on Saturday the demonstration in front of parliament, where protesters against the government have gathered since last Sunday when the prime minister's secret speech was first made public, swelled to the biggest size yet. Tens of thousands gathered in front of parliament, with people streaming in from all parts of the country.

The fact that this demonstration was peaceful, like the others before them in front of parliament, simply reinforces for many the suspicion that the violent outbreaks at the beginning of the week were provoked and somehow orchestrated.

The political blame game, meanwhile, has estranged many from what goes on in parliament. Many no longer have faith in the political process and distrust politicians from all parties and all sides of the political spectrum. For this reason, the demonstrators in front of parliament are calling not only for a change in government, but for a new constitution as well.

In some ways, this can be viewed as an attempt at a second velvet revolution. The political leaders of the present are the tired, worn-out faces from the past. There has been little change over the past decade and a half and people are yearning for new faces and new ideas.
Related: Hungary: PM Caught on Tape - Scandal as Prime Minister Gyurcsany admits to a year and a half of lies

Budapest Riots and Autonomous Reactions

September 24, 2006

Appeals panel sends journalist back to prison

by Henry K. Lee
Freelance journalist Josh Wolf speaks to the media before... Freelance journalist Josh Wolf turns himself in at the Fe... Freelance journalist Josh Wolf was ordered back to prison...
Freelance journalist Josh Wolf returned to federal prison Friday after refusing to produce the outtakes of video footage he shot at a violent San Francisco protest in July 2005.

"Even though they're going to take me into custody, they can't silence me," Wolf, 24, said at a news conference before he turned himself in at the Federal Correctional Institution in Dublin. "It's frightening. I don't feel I should have to return to prison. It is an attack on journalists."

Wolf, 24, spent a month at the same Dublin prison but was released on his own recognizance Sept. 1 while he appealed his contempt citation for refusing to comply with a federal grand jury subpoena.

Last week, a three-judge panel of the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected Wolf's appeal. The same three judges granted a federal prosecutor's motion to revoke bail Monday.

Wolf faces the prospect of being held until the grand jury's term expires next July.

"It's just an unfortunate and unjust and illegal act for Josh to be jailed for not turning over his unedited tape," said one of Wolf's supporters, filmmaker Kevin Epps, 36, of San Francisco.

Before surrendering, Wolf hugged several supporters, handed his watch to a friend and smoked one last cigarette.

Wolf's return to prison came a day after a federal judge ordered two Chronicle reporters to prison for as long as a year and a half unless they reveal their sources of confidential grand jury testimony about star athletes' use of steroids. The reporters, however, can remain free while their appeal is heard.

Attorneys for Wolf plan to ask the full Ninth Circuit Appeals Court in San Francisco next month to review the case. The court's three-judge panel cited "the long-established obligation of a reporter to comply with grand jury subpoenas" in ruling against Wolf.

Wolf claimed a journalist's right to withhold unpublished material as well as confidential sources. Those rights are protected by California's shield law, but that law does not apply in federal court.

The subpoena for Wolf's footage was issued by a grand jury investigating the alleged attempted burning of a San Francisco police car at an anarchist-led rally July 8, 2005. Prosecutors maintain the attempted burning was a federal crime because the Police Department receives money from Washington.

The incident was not depicted in footage of the protest that local television stations purchased from Wolf. He says it is not shown in the outtakes, either.

House Approves Strip Search Bill

Sep 20
A bill approved by the U.S. House yesterday would require school districts around the country to establish policies making it easier for teachers and school officials to conduct wide scale searches of students. These searches could take the form of pat-downs, bag searches, or strip searches depending on how administrators interpret the law.

The Student Teacher Safety Act of 2006 (HR 5295) would require any school receiving federal funding--essentially every public school--to adopt policies allowing teachers and school officials to conduct random, warrantless searches of every student, at any time, on the flimsiest of pretexts. Saying they suspect that one student might have drugs could give officials the authority to search every student in the building.

DPA supporters and others who opposed this outrageous bill called their members of Congress this week to express their disapproval. However, House leaders circumvented the usual legislative procedure to bring the bill to a quick vote. It did not pass through the committee process, but went straight to the House floor. There, it was passed by a simple voice vote, so constituents cannot even find out how their Representative voted.

The bill moves next to the Senate, but it is unlikely to be considered there this session.

Bill Piper, DPA's director of national affairs, said, "It looks like this bill was rushed to the House floor to help out the sponsor, Rep. Geoff Davis (R-KY/4th), who is in a tight re-election race. This vote lets him say he's getting things done in Washington. But I would be surprised to see a similar push in the Senate."

HR 5295 is opposed in its current form by several groups, including the Drug Policy Alliance, Students for Sensible Drug Policy, the ACLU, the American Federation of Teachers, the National Parent Teacher Association, the American Association of School Administrators, and the National School Boards Association.

DPA will be watching the bill so that if and when it does come up again, this wide array of opponents can mobilize to stop it.