Rolling Thunder #9


Throughout diverse subject matter, Rolling Thunder #9 subtly explores issues of legitimacy. Who is entitled to speak, to act, to organize? How important is legitimacy in the public eye, and how can anarchists cultivate it? What are the drawbacks of pursuing various kinds of legitimacy? As usual, one must read between the lines of on-the-ground news coverage and analysis to seek the answers—and, more significantly, the further questions they suggest.

Following up on our coverage of the 2008 DNC and RNC protests, this issue of Rolling Thunder appraises anarchist action at the 2009 G20 summit, detailing the background of the mobilization, mapping conflict throughout the city, and analyzing the factors that determined the strategies of the police and protesters. The accompanying Pittsburgh scene report examines the decade of local organizing that prepared the ground for this and other confrontations, deriving lessons relevant to communities around the country.

Elsewhere within, this issue scrutinizes protest and resistance on campus—from the recent student occupation movement in the US to the campaign to shut down a fascist organization at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Overseas, we survey Smash EDO, a British anti-military campaign that tests some of the hypotheses advanced in coverage of the SHAC campaign in Rolling Thunder #6.

This issue also includes Russian history from the “time of troubles” to Kropotkin’s escape from prison, reviews of Uri Gordon’s Anarchy Alive! and the obscurantist publication Politics Is Not a Banana, and more of the reflections and witticisms that set Rolling Thunder apart as a peerless exemplar of “how beautiful anarchist journals can be.”

Starting with this issue, we’ll also be complementing each issue of Rolling Thunder with an online supplement offering additional information, links, and materials. Among other things, the supplement to this issue features maps of action during the Pittsburgh G20 protests, a PDF of the newspaper wrap anarchists used in their campaign against a fascist student group, and a FAQ flier answering objections to militant antifascist organizing commonly posed by partisans of liberal democracy.

Rolling Thunder #9 Online Supplement

Pittsburgh G20 Summit

The coverage of the G20 summit in Rolling Thunder #9 fills out and refines reports that appeared earlier on this website, including eyewitness accounts, analysis of police strategy, and a general assessment of the organizing. It also includes painstakingly assembled maps [PDF, 356 KB] charting movements and confrontations throughout the primary day of action, which should be invaluable for future anarchist strategizing:

Map of the crowd movements and clashes in Pittsburgh during the chief actions against the G20 summit.

Student Occupations from New York to California

This issue includes accounts from the occupations of the New School in NYC December 2008 and April 2009 and University of California at Berkeley the following November–two formative incidents in the development of the student movement that came to a head March 4, 2010, the day after this issue was released. To read more about recent outbreaks of student insurgency, one might begin with:

After the Fall, a paper collecting statements from participants in the 2009 occupations in California

7-Day Weekend, a UC Santa Cruz newsletter covering the same subject in somewhat plainer language

The New School Reoccupied, focusing on occupation and resistance at the New School in NYC

Occupy CA, a frequently updated blog detailing the occupation movement throughout California and the world

Shutting Down “Youth for Western Civilization”

This issue takes an in-depth view of the struggle that played out on the campus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill between local radicals and the fascist student group Youth for Western Civilization. Much of the corporate and campus news coverage of these events is now apparently offline, but one can still read anarchist coverage of some of the important moments of the conflict here:

Protesters Kick Racist Speaker Off Campus

Youth for Western Civilization Co-Founder Faces Sentencing on Hate Crime

Media Saboteurs Take on Youth for Western Civilization

Youtube still has some footage up of the initial disruption, when anti-immigrant politician Tom Tancredo was prevented from speaking. Some of this is from right-wing cranks who cry about the “free speech” of an ex-congressman while police are beating, peppers-spraying, and tasering student protesters.

To download the “Special Anti-Racist Issue” that anarchists used to wrap copies of the “real” campus paper on the first day of the fall 2009 semester, click here [PDF, 717 KB].

Anarchists also distributed a text entitled “War by Other Means,” elucidating the ways that the notion of the university as a “marketplace of ideas” serves to obscure the real power relationships at work in conflicts such as the struggle over YWC.

Finally, retired professor Elliot Cramer, who briefly served as the group’s advisor before protesters provoked him into getting himself forcibly removed by the administration, maintains his own online archive of material relating to the Youth for Western Civilization debacle—albeit from his own skewed perspective.

Bonus for extra credit: A moronic newscaster attempts to combine “university” and “diversity” into one word: “unidiversity.” Even liberals should find it somewhat distressing that anarchist editing standards are higher than those of the corporate outlets charged with producing informed voters.

Free Speech

To fill out the coverage of the Youth for Western Civilization fracas, this issue examines the ways that the rhetoric of free speech is used to suppress dissent and fortify the legitimacy of those in power. For the convenience of anti-fascist organizers, we’ve prepared a FAQ PDF addressing common objections to militant resistance to fascism. Print these out and distribute them next time you shut down a KKK rally or an anti-immigrant speaking event and all the liberals are crying that you “killed democracy.”

Pittsburgh Scene Report

The Pittsburgh scene report in Rolling Thunder #9 spans the past one-hundred-and-forty years of anarchist activity in the city, zooming in on the opening decade of the 21st century. Here’s an incomplete list of contemporary projects in Pittsburgh that either are explicitly anarchist, involve a lot of anarchists, or are consistent with anarchist ethics:

Pittsburgh Organizing Group - longtime anarchist organizers

Greater Pittsburgh Anarchist Collective and Anti-Racist Action

Landslide Community Farm

The BigIdea Radical Bookstore

Pittsburgh Indymedia and Rustbelt Radio

Bash Back

Food Not Bombs

Pittsburgh Association for the Abolition of Vivisection

Rusty Strings Collective - Pittsburgh folk punk

Howling Mob Society - anarchist historical society

Book ‘Em books-to-prisoners program

Free Ride - do-it-yourself bicycle repair Critical Mass

Thomas Merton Center - for peace and justice organizing

FedUp! - prisoner defense letter-writing group

East End Mutual-Aid Association - anarchist community organizing in the neighborhoods of Bloomfield, Garfield, Friendship, and East Liberty