Listen to the Episode — 66 min



Alanis: The Ex-worker;

Clara: An audio strike against a monotone world;

Alanis: A twice-monthly podcast of anarchist ideas and action;

Clara: For everyone who dreams of a life off the clock…

Alanis: Welcome back to another episode of the Ex-worker. Today, we’re going to expand on our conversation on the topic of communism–

Clara: [shuffling papers, exasperated] Wait– really? Didn’t we already spend two whole episodes covering this?

Alanis: Well, it’s a really big topic! I mean, those two episodes dove deep into how communists and anarchists have related throughout history, but largely failed to acknowledge the fact that a lot of anarchists still make reference to communist ideas– especially in regards to conversations that have been happening from the 60’s through the present. With all the material that is circulating in contemporary anarchist circles that makes reference to or calls itself communist, it’s more than a little dishonest to say “we’re different and that’s that.” So, in this episode’s theme segment we’re going to present another anarchist perspective on communism.

Clara: Ok, fair enough.

Alanis: Yeah! And it actually ties into some of the things we said in our last episode, like how the Situationists weren’t anarchists, but their ideas are still an important reference point for a lot of anarchists, or even just those who just consider themselves to be in conflict with their conditions and who don’t necessarily identify with anarchist ideology or history.

Clara: We’ll round out our discussion with some feedback about anti-imperialism, a review of the latest issue of Endnotes journal, an interview with Anarchist prisoner Michael Kimble, and of course, plenty of news, upcoming events and prisoner birthdays. I’m Clara…

Alanis: And I’m Alanis, and we’ll be your hosts. For more about everything you’ll hear on today’s show, visit us on the web at

Clara: And if you have any questions or contributions to the show, you can shoot us an email at

Alanis: Let’s get started.


Clara: First up it’s the Hot Wire, our look at resistance and revolt happening around the world… What have we got, Alanis?

Alanis: Well, let’s start out with some prisoner updates. Good or bad news first, Clara?

Clara: Let’s start with… good news: Cody Sutherlin of the Tinley Park 5 was recently released from Prison in Illinois after 2 years of incarceration, and his brother Dylan is set to be released next month. A link to his release fund site is on our website. And, Greek Anarchist Babis Tsilianidis was released after 3 and half years for an alleged robbery due to lack of evidence.

Alanis: Aaand, now for the bad news: Elliot Hughes is facing 2 felonies and 2 misdemeanors after being arrested outside of the Albany Bulb, an embattled squatter encampment in California, and First Nations activist Jason Augustine was sentenced to 18 months of probation for his involvement in anti-shale gas protests last year.

Clara: Italian rebels Daniele Casalini and Francesco Gioa were taken in to serve the rest of their 2-year sentences from a 2007 bank robbery, polish anti-fascist Tomasz Slusarczyk recieved a 10-year sentence for stabbing fascist scum in self-defense 14 times, and long-term anarchist prisoner Marco Camenisch was put in isolation for several days for once again refusing a drug test. He is also set to be moved to a new facility, possibly out of retaliation for his continued defiance.

Alanis: Seven prisoners in Polk correctional institution in North Carolina have gone on hunger strike for a variety of indignities and grievances. More prisoners are reportedly joining the strike and a call- and write-in campaign in under way. Details are on our website.

Clara: A new site has been launched to amplify the voices of prisoners in South Central Regional Jail in Charleston, West Virginia who are suffering repercussions of the chemical spill and water poisoning in January, as well as generally miserable conditions of incarcerated life. Check out

Alanis: Earth Liberation Front snitch Liam Mulholland was sentenced for his role in a 2003 arson at a Michigan housing development. In exchange for a shorter sentence, he provided what the feds call “substantial assistance in the investigation or prosecution of others”. For more information about informants and snitches in the earth and animal liberation movements, visit the Earth First Newswire’s Informant Tracker website; we’ve got a link posted at

Clara: And speaking of informants, the FBI lost a significant court battle with a freelance photographer who was targeted by the agency for attending a 2008 protest against the International Monetary Fund in Washington, DC; they are now forced to reveal the identity of two confidential sources who helped a joint terrorism task force identify activists from surveillance footage.

Alanis: Australian media reported recently that a private company including former soldiers and intelligence operatives was hired to infiltrate the Maules Creek anti-coal mining campaign. These snitches-for-hire were recently outed as having attempted to worm their way into the eco-defense group’s leadership under false names.

Clara: We meant to report a couple of episodes back that comrades at the anarchist mailorder Black Mosquito in Germany had their house visited by State Security forces, apparently in retaliation for inciting criminal activity by distributing stickers that read “follow the cops back home.” Other stickers and materials were seized during the visit. Alanis: Next, some reportbacks from World Environmental Day: in the Khandardhar region of India, local tribes protested and vowed to protect their land from mining and other environmental destruction and in Bartin, Turkey 300 stores refused to open for the day and an enormous human chain was formed to protest a planned thermal power plant.

Alanis: In Ameyalco, Mexico, two thousand locals confronted and battled fifteen hundred riot cops in response to local authorities’ initiative to pump scarce local spring water into gentrified Santa Fe, resulting in dozens of injuries. And in Papua New Guinea protesters caused tens of millions of dollars in damages to equipment and buildings at a nickel mining site after a chemical spill in to a local river.

Clara: In other eco-defense news, the tried and true tradition of people locking themselves to things continues: Appalachia Resists activists locked down at a fracking site in Ohio, Canadian activists locked to the gates of a Chevron facility, and in Australia, someone dressed as ‘Cranky Koala’ locked to a truck in Leard State Forest, intending to slow down the construction of a coal mine.

Clara: Residents of the aboriginal village of Mukumuqi in Taiwan blocked roads and tourist buses, siting pollution and traffic jams among their motives, and in Brazil, demonstrators protested legislation that threatens to shrink the size of reserves for indigenous groups in the lead-up to the World Cup. They threw stones and fired arrows during confrontation with the police.

Alanis: In Mexico, at a gathering in tribute to the deceased Galeano, whose murder we reported in Episode 23, Subcomandante Marcos, who had become an iconic image for the Zapatista National Liberation Army, or EZLN, announced that he would cease to exist.

Clara: Weird.

Alanis: Yeah, right? A letter explained, “It is our conviction and our practice that we don’t need leaders or chieftains, messiahs, or saviors, in order to rise up and fight, only a little humility, a lot of dignity and a great deal of organization; the rest either serves the collective or is useless”

Clara: There was a slew of other actions across Africa, South America, and Europe: In South Africa 80,000 platinum mine workers have been out on strike for 4 months, the longest in the nation’s history, fighting for higher wages.

Alanis: The Savage Vandal Anti-Authoritarians claimed the arson of 10 military police vehicles as a “flaming taste of revenge” for several kidnappings and killings by the Brazilian state. Quoth the communique: “We decided not to stay silent sitting in front of the TV or surfing the social, appeased with the miseries of life, tamed by consumption, cowering behind slogans or appearances. We decided to wage war against those who destroy the earth, those who destroys us.”

Clara: In Chile, incendiary devices were installed on 3 buses in order to “burn down these transporting machines of postmodern slaves.”

Alanis: And also in Chile, artist and activist Francisco Tapias, also known as Papas Fritas, (which translates to french fries) torched documents representing $500 million of student debt during a takeover at Universidad del Mar. He explains, “We have to lose our fear, our fear of being thought of as criminals because we’re poor. I am just like you, living a shitty life, and I live it day by day – this is my act of love for you.”

Clara: In England and and Ireland, several ATMs have been attacked with a combination of explosives, crow bars and other tools, sometimes in an attempt to steal money, in other instances just to watch the world burn.

Alanis: In Italy, more sabotage of high speed rail lines, and in France vehicles of two companies profiting from surveillance and social control were torched in solidarity with Italian anarchist prisoners.

Clara: The squatted VOX social center in Exarchia, Greece was shot up, presumably for its association with recent escalations in mobilizations against the alliance between drug traffickers, the mafia, and the police, as well as against the ghettoization of the area. Thessaloniki, Greece, a security company vehicle was torched as a sign of resistance against legislation that proposed new maximum security prisons.

Alanis: Several days of rioting broke out in Barcelona, sparked by the eviction of the 17 year-old Can Vies squat. Rebellious street fighters constructed and defended barricades, smashes windows and burned many, many dumpsters. Other rebels called for autonomous solidarity events in surrounding neighborhoods. One report explains, “Tens of thousands of people have won transformative experiences. When they see a cop, an intersection, a construction site, a dumpster, a bank, a surveillance camera, a journalist, new meanings and new possibilities appear unbidden before their eyes.” And posits that what follows is “either to become demoralized and disillusioned as the transcendent beauty we formed a part of fades away and is crushed by a monotonous normality, or, we learn how to use our newfound strength for other purposes than the reproduction of rioting.” As a result, the city called off plans to demolish the building that hosted the squat.

Clara: Whew, y’all have been busy. Is there anything we’re missing, Alanis?

Alanis: Animal defense actions! Here we go: equipment for a fish breeding company in France went up in flames and some animal defenders used graffiti and paint to attack the University of Milan’s Dept of Pharmalogical and Biomolecular Sciences. The attackers even used a foul-smelling substance to stop scientists from entering the building for several hours.

Clara: And, last but not least June 11th, the international day of solidarity with Marie Mason, Eric McDavid, and longterm anarchist prisoners. Events and actions took place all over the world, raising thousands of dollars for Marie and Eric and keeping some of our longest-imprisoned anarchist comrades’ names on our minds. You can find a rundown of events at


Alanis: And now it’s time to share a piece of the Crimethinc Contradictionary. This episode is brought to you by: We and Praxis. For more explorations of the war in every word, visit


Alanis: And now it’s time for listener feedback! We’re still catching up on some letters y’all have sent about past episodes - thanks for your patience.

Clara: First off, we’ve had an interesting exchange with friends from the Antidote Zine, a Swiss-based writer’s collective that publishes a blog analyzing radical struggles; you can check them out at They republished our Chopping Block review of “Nine-Tenths the Law” from Episode 14, comparing it with a review they wrote about the same text. We’ve got the link to the articles posted on our website.

They weighed in on the Ukraine crisis, which they’ve also been covering, with criticism of the European left’s contradictory positions motivated by so-called anti-imperialism:

Alanis: In recent weeks we have been seeing more and more that, out of a somewhat understandable but ultimately bizarre impulse to oppose US capitalist imperialism and anything anyone calls ‘fascism,’ many European Left parties are coming down on the Russian ‘side’ of the conflict (as if the Cold War powers present the only two ‘sides’), which puts them next to European far-Right parties–in some cases quite literally. This is to say nothing of the fascist nature of the Russian state and its tactics.

Clara: If you’d like to read their analysis and some related articles they sent along, you can find them on our website,

Alanis: Continuing on this theme, we got a brief email from listener Joseph with a critique of Episode 21, Communism and Socialism Part 2:

Clara: On your podcast you mock Workers World for stating the obvious that all progressives should speak out against U.S. imperialism’s propaganda and hostile rhetoric against North Korea.

I don’t understand. Do you want the U.S. to attack North Korea, leading to the death and suffering of millions of Koreans? You must understand, firstly, that much if not all of the information you receive about North Korea is filtered through American propaganda. Secondly, whether or not you agree with the government of North Korea (we can be sure, at least, that it isn’t an anarchist society)…

Alanis: [interjects] uh, yeah, I think we can be sure of that…

Clara: …when you assist the U.S. media in demonizing any weaker country in the cross-hairs of U.S. imperialism, you assist in the effort to build public opinion for and acceptance of aggression against that country.

I suggest you fight where you stand and limit your criticism to U.S. imperialism and let North Koreans themselves handle their own business. You are not helping them by making it easier for the U.S. to build a case for further economic sanctions, the use of diplomatic pressure, covert operations and even possibly full-scale military action against North Korea, Syria or any other beleaguered nation.

Alanis: Well, let’s see if we can help you understand. Our position isn’t that complicated. For the record, we want to officially state that, lest anyone be confused, the Ex-Worker does not support a US military invasion of North Korea (or anywhere else, for that matter). Nor do we support brutal authoritarian governments of any kind, anywhere. And we do not see these as contradictory. This is why we are anarchists, and not just “anti-imperialists”.

We critique the Worker’s World Party for affirming their solidarity with Comrade Kim Jung Un. As anarchists, we will never affirm solidarity with an authoritarian leader. We will do our best to undermine the US war machine as it attempts to extend its domination over more and more of the world. But to take Workers World at its word, if it is “the obligation of all progressives, especially in the United States… to recognize and respect the sovereign right of the Korean people to control their own destiny,” this certainly doesn’t mean “showing solidarity” with one of the most authoritarian rulers in the world. We want to undermine the ability of any government regime to control the destiny of human beings. Of course this begins at home: the suggestion to “fight where you stand” - which listeners may recognize as a slogan from past CrimethInc. texts - certainly makes sense to us. But the idea that we should “limit our criticism” to the actions of “our” government strikes us as bizarre and dangerous. We are internationalists - anti-nationalists - and if we limit our political discourse and action to criticizing the US or the West, we fall into the binary trap they’ve set for us, where any action we take will merely reinforce one of our enemies. If you didn’t hear it in Episode 20, we’ll once again share what our comrades from the Autonomous Worker’s Union of Kiev wrote about the situation in Ukraine:

Clara: The war can be averted only if proletarians of all countries, first and foremost Ukrainian and Russian, together make a stand against the criminal regime of Putin… [which] will also mean an end to the current neoliberal-oriented nationalist regime in Ukraine. While for the leftists and anarchists of the West, it’s high time to cut ties with the so-called “anti-imperialism” which comes down to the support of the Putin regime against the US.

Alanis: And the same holds true about North Korea. Should the US begin clamoring for war against North Korea, of course we would oppose it. But it would be insane for us to show solidarity with the government of a country that, as you put it in perhaps the understatement of the year, “we can be sure, at the least, isn’t an anarchist society.”

Clara: But are we just duped by the imperialist media into thinking things are much worse there than they really are? Of course the US corporate media filters much information accessible to us in English about North Korea through a hostile lens, and we should read it critically knowing that. And it is true that the US has historically used media distortions to fuel the jingoistic fires for imperialist wars, from the USS Maine to the Gulf of Tonkin to the imaginary weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. So certainly part of opposing the US war machine includes challenging the lies used to justify state actions that will further immiserate people in other countries. We can go with you that far.

Alanis: But I’m sorry to say, Stalin, you can’t fight imperialist exploitation and brutality by covering up or ignoring supposedly anti-imperialist exploitation and brutality. The twentieth century is full of examples of where that leads. And if you read, for example, the account published in Fifth Estate last year of an anarchist from the EU - which we linked to in our episode notes - and the supplementary info he includes, it’s pretty hard to make the case that these first hand accounts are merely the work of dastardly imperialist stool pigeons.

These politics that prioritize “anti-imperialism” above all else leave us in the untenable position of either outright lying about the misery and brutality of North Korea or Russia, or simply overlooking the misery of the people in those countries by focusing on the “more pressing” enemy at home. If that’s a principled stance, the principles it’s based on are inhumane and misguided.

Clara: For a different approach, consult the Kiev Autonomous Worker’s Union’s statement we cited above. Or take the example of the Revolutionary Association of Women in Afghanistan, which organized Afghani women to oppose both the patriarchal violence of the Taliban and also the US military occupation, which some Americans attempted to claim was taking place to liberate them. The severity of state control and surveillance in North Korea makes it difficult to connect with autonomous forces struggling to determine their own lives with whom we could find affinity. But we refuse to stand aside in the face of state oppression, period.

Alanis: Across the world today, from Ukraine to Russia to Venezuela and beyond, anarchists are taking flak for opposing the governments controlling their lives because of these antiquated notions of anti-imperialism and united front solidarity. The histories we’ve touched on from the Spanish Civil War to the Russian Revolution to Cuba to Ukraine have made it pretty clear where those politics lead for us.

Clara: In sum: the enemy of my enemy is not my friend. Anarchists have learned this lesson again and again, often bloodily, over the last century.

Fuck the North Korean regime, fuck the US military, fuck Putin, fuck Ukrainian fascists. Down with all governments. Up with anarchy. Do we make ourselves clear?

Alanis: Finally: speaking of that region, we’re excited to share with all of you an email we received from a listener in South Korea, who shared some updates about events over there. He writes:

Clara: I love the podcast. For me, it is a very needed way to connect with other anarchists, get some news and some thinking.

I would like more content related to Asia. I am living in Korea and my family is Korean. I would like to be a source of info but for now here is the little I can do:

On Wednesday April 16th, a ferry capsized and sunk with most of its passengers still in it. They were more than 300 students taking a school trip and were instructed to stay in place while the boat was slowly tipping over and sinking. They followed the order, unfortunately, unlike most of the other adult passengers who went outside to the deck and were able to get off the boat and get rescued. As the news of the accident spread, numerous volunteers on boat came to the rescue but were prevented for intervening by the coastal police. For some unknown reason, the authorities’ response has been deceitful: claiming from the start that everybody had been rescued, being unclear about rescue operations, etc. Relatives of the victims, camping near the accident site for days, got exasperated and tried to go to the capital to demonstrate, and were blocked by police line from even leaving the island where they were camping. The whole affair has made many people suspicious of the government. One the hypothesis is that there was a military exercise of submarines implicated in the accident and that the government put priority on covering it up rather than rescue. At the least, it is clear that the authorities are incompetent and neglectful.

The country has been shocked by the accident and the terrible response of the authorities, and there is a sense of anticipation as many express distrust in the government and that they won’t just let this pass. Whereas in the last 5 years or so, coming and going, there has been a protest movement against the authoritarian neoliberal government expressed in “candlelight vigils”, sometimes quite massive, there is a now a resurgence of this but with an added emphasis on the need for direct action. On the eve of May Day, the commemorative/protest march in Gwangju was not only candle-lit; people are now marching with torches.

Alanis: First of all, thank you so much for sending us these updates! The disaster you described sounds horrifying; we’re encouraged to hear that folks are resisting and refusing to let it blow over. South Korea saw some very militant social struggles in the 1980s and 90s, but hasn’t received much attention from anarchists and radicals in North America. One terrific source of info in English is first volume of “Asia’s Unknown Uprisings,” a book by George Katsiaficas covering the radical history of 20th century South Korea. Here’s a brief clip of George discussing the 1980 Gwangju uprising:

George Katsiaficas: South Korean social movements among the most significant in the 20th century and in the world. And I think it’s a very good indication for the rest of us, for all of the world, as to what kinds of dynamics set in when social movements reach huge proportions, what kinds of changes they can have, how they can be repressed or co-opted, and what kinds of alternative strategies and tactics we can employ.

When the military attacked the city of Gwangju ruthlessly in 1980 because the people there insisted stubbornly on democracy for the country, the people rallied behind the dignity of human beings. When the students went into the streets, and they were the first to go, the crack paratroopers of the South Korean military attacked them, killing, even raping, stripping them naked, herding them like cattle. Then the taxi drivers who stopped to take these students to the hospital were themselves killed and attacked.

This was a question of the regional trajectory intersecting with the national military’s plans to really turn South Korea into a neoliberal state at the bidding of the United States government. So at a certain point when the military was using machine guns and flame throwers on its citizens, and the people were falling back in dismay, the city’s transports workers rallied the entire population. Over 100 taxis and about a dozen buses formed a caravan and charged the military’s lines. They were stopped in the main caravan, but from the side streets, buses and automobiles were set on fire and pushed into the military’s ranks. Step by step, people rallied. The next day, when the military opened fire, killing in a few minutes fifty people right in front of Province Hall, people raided armories, police stations, armed themselves, and by the end of the day on May 21st, 1980, the citizen of Gwangju controlled their city. They drove the military out into the outskirts and were able for five days to govern themselves through direct democracy in the plaza in front of Province Hall where so many people had been massacred. This was a remarkable exhibition of the human capacity to form a loving community. There was no crime. The government such as it was did not exist in the sense of representatives: people governed themselves directly.

Clara: We have a link to the full interview and more about George’s work on South Korean social movements posted on our website.

Thanks, as always, for all the awesome comments and discussions. Send us your ideas and feedback to podcast at


Alanis: As we mentioned in the introduction, we want to take a different angle on the question of how anarchists relate to communism, today. We solicited this material from an autonomous podcasting cell, who identify themselves as studious and antagonistic, communist and anarchist.

Correspondent: In the Ex-Worker podcast episode 20 and 21 a series of stories were told. Betrayal of the bolsheviks, the defeat of anarchists in Spain by various government forces, the counter revolutionary role played by unions and communist party during May 68 and the lists went on. They were stories of state control and consolidation of power, the kind of stories that we know of today precisely because of the repression against popular forces were so strong and silencing that the word communism lost its meaning and what resonance it had was gobbled up by totalitarian states. So, that is the story the podcast told-a true story, but a partial one-the obvious one.

Without going into a long, rehashing of events and players we want to move into the now, here, with each other. We tried to close our eyes and imagine those events, those figures and ideas set in the arena of the now, but could not. One of the only things we find interesting about communization theory –and we say “only” because we would like to distance ourselves from a pure belief in “the idea” as in communization against anarchy as opposing ideologies because communism is by definition the end of politics. But it is the admittance that we have no idea whats going to transpire, what our role will be in that, and what the political problematics are going to be more reflective of the present moment than those 20th century communist engagements. The inquirers of communism always wanna know, “how are anti-state communist different than those state communists?" In Gilles Dauve’s book Eclipse and Re-emergence of the Communist Movement published around 1969 by black & red of Detroit he states,

Clara: "The State was born out of human beings’ inability to manage their lives. It is the unity — symbolic and material — of the disunited. As soon as proletarians appropriate their means of existence, this mediation begins to lose its function, but destroying it is not an automatic process. It will not disappear little by little as the non-mercantile sphere gets bigger and bigger. Actually, such a sphere would be fragile if it let the central governmental machinery go on, as in Spain 1936–37. No State structure will wither away on its own.

Communizing is therefore more than an addition of direct piecemeal actions. Capital will be sapped by general subversion through which people take their relationships with the world into their own hands. But nothing decisive will be achieved as long as the State retains some power. Society is not just a capillary network: relationships are centralized in a force which concentrates the power to preserve this society. Capitalism would be too happy to see us change our lives locally while it carries on on a global scale. As a central force, the State has to be destroyed by central action, as well as its power dissolved everywhere. The communist movement is anti-political, not a-political."


Correspondent: I guess I would just want to emphasize what is wrong with presenting history in this way, these polarities. When we take all this time to say who the bad guys were, we end up suggesting that there were also good guys, back then, who had the right idea—that those right ideas are also right for our own time. It’s of course true that revolutions, whenever and wherever they occurred, and not just revolutions, but any number of mass uprisings, were really mass events. They involved peasants and workers, women and men, native-born and immigrants, etc., taking matters into their own hands, forming councils or other forms of organization where they could be heard, about what to do to make a better world. In this context, anyone who wanted to establish order out of the resulting chaos was bound to carry out a massive repression, to break the spirit of the people who were fighting to be free. In the twentieth century, those fighting for freedom took all kinds of names for themselves, including anarchists and communists, though so many more of them never took the time to put labels on their uprisings or on themselves. On the other hand, those doing the repression were usually Stalinists, or influenced by Stalinism. But they were equally developmentalists of all stripes, across the world, fighting under banners of nationalism, socialism, communism, pan-Africanism, anti- imperialism and what have you. What’s important is to take away is this dynamic: that the overturning of society brings out the great masses of humanity, who form groups of all kind, to try to determine their lives in new ways, that these groups are often persuaded to see themselves, not on the basis of a new power, but rather as endowing states or other bodies with power, and that, in the name of the collected masses, those endowed powers take every means to crush free people.

But we could tell the history of the twentieth century in another way, taking that lesson as given, and try to understand what people in the twentieth century were fighting for, in their fight for freedom. Of course, we can’t know what everyone wanted, because many people didn’t specify that at all, or did so only in moments where change seemed like a real possibility, and even then, they left no record. But we can look at the anarchists and communists of that era to see what it was that they wanted, and to compare that dream to our own. We, too, want to be free, but do we want the same freedom? We would argue that we do not.

Let’s look at the twentieth century, first. At the start of the century, the world was mostly without cities. Some millions lived in manufacturing towns, but the vast majority lived in agrarian civilizations, which had their own class relations. There were nomadic people and hill tribes, which escaped from these conditions, but they were not the majority. The majority lived under conditions of massive hardship on tiny plots. Everywhere, with the exception of some regions in sub-Saharan Africa, they were dominated by ruling elites, who extracted from them half or more of what they grew or made. In addition, they or their families were required to do labor on the masters’ plots, to perform personal service for their lords, and so on. These relations were solidified by relations of debt and patronage, which could never be repaid or undone. In some places, like in Latin America, and to a lesser extent Africa, relations had been completely transformed by colonialism. In Latin America, because large parts of the native population were decimated, and that broke the great American civilizations (which already had their own class relations). But class relations in most of the world predated colonialism, and survived it as well.

Under these conditions, people in Europe or North America, or those escaping to the cities and small towns which were already growing up on the soil of the other continents, imagined that it would be possible to overturn relations of domination in the countryside, to replace a world ruled by religion and superstition by one of reason and individual human freedom. This dream was supported by a tendency already inherent in reality. There were certainly those who looked at the great choking factories as nothing but a blight on the land, but these were usually conservatives or maybe reactionaries, who wanted to go back to what they saw as an idyllic past, where the poor loved their overlords.

Anarchists and communists, in contrast to these reactionaries, recognized that the factories were the places where new rulers ruled, but they saw in the factories, in the cities, in their relations they formed outside of the rule of churches and elders, they saw the possibility of a better world, one where people would not have to work for any master, but more than just that, they would not have to work much at all. The time that was freed from backbreaking labor would be their own. It would be a world without unnecessary suffering, whether that enforced by the religion and superstition of their elders, or by the hate and domination of their masters. In the early twentieth century, they saw this world – modern, atheist, rationalist, urban, industrial, scientific – they saw it as bringing a bright future. They dreamed that industrial development would really produce heaven on earth, and that all of humanity would live as brothers. This notion of human solidarity and brotherhood was one that they saw as already present in the towns and the cities, not in the individualism of the bourgeoisie, but in the tight mutual dependence of the workers in their neighborhoods and in the factories. And so, what differentiates us from the past is not just that we stand on the side of those who were right (in the past) and who stood on the side of human freedom against tyranny, whether it came dressed in the flag of God, land, or even socialism or communism. Of course, its true that we, too, stand for our own freedom, and the freedom of our friends and relations, and that this brings us into conflict with tyrants small and large.

But we now live in a totally different world. In ours, the dream of the rationalist, scientific, urban, industrial has been realized, and it is a nightmare. We are not trying to steer modern development in the direction of solidarity, communism, and so on, and away from bourgeois profit making and individualism. We live in the future, the modern world, and what we find is that this world is killing us; it would be killing us regardless of whether we were ruled by capitalists, communists, or even ourselves. If we ruled it ourselves, our best hope would be that we could collectively decide to pull the emergency break. The anarchists and communists of the twentieth century could only see the world of the factory and the city in miniature. Those things had not yet come to dominate their life. They had their solidarities that came from the old world. They arrived in the city with connections to people from their own clans. We live in a world where those solidarities have been thoroughly wiped out by the rule of one national language, one national education, and one national culture. We see that the factory system bred, not solidarity among workers, but an ever deeper alienation of human being from human being. They generated increasing passivity of a real kind, where we feel that we have less and less control over our own lives, and over our thoughts. We have to make a revolution in these times, and thus, the lessons of the past will only take us so far, because no one has yet made a thorough-going revolution in a thoroughly urban world, except in the 2014 animation adventure film: The Lego Movie. What will this thoroughly urban revolution look like? We aren’t sure. But for now, we call it communization.


Communisation is a theory of the revolution after the fall of communism. Communisation does not imply a program to be enacted. It does not analyze the situation so as to determine what is lacking– it is not the party, the will, the objective conditions, etc. It begins by looking at the historical situation, as it already is, not what it ought to be. Most simply, communisation is the shape of the coming revolution; its fundamental premise is that the revolution will produce communism, that a new life will be produced in and through the unfolding of the revolution. All the interrelated facets of everyday life under capitalism will be contested as people will be forced to confront one another.

Unfortunately today, many conceptions of how a revolution is to happen is largely overshadowed by past representations; we look to the Russian Revolution, or the Spanish Civil War, May ’68 or the Hot Autumn in Italy; past history dictates how we envision the revolutionary potentials of the present. We must first look to present struggles in order to understand how opposition to capitalism and its organization of life are being contested and confronted.

But you may be thinking “the Mass organization of present struggles do not seem to be pointing towards a total reorganization of life?”

Yes, it is hard to imagine the masses self organizing, creating forms through means and needs at the moment taken by the masses to do so. If productivist, nationalist, leninists, maoist or some mangled, contemporary version of that are the ones creating the forms and organizing then it will not be communism yet.

We are very sobered by numbers. They are 7 billion people organized under capital, half of them, 3.5 billion live in towns and cities scattered across the globe. Only one billion people in the workplace, out of three billion total, labor in agriculture, as peasants or farm hands, and many of those have miniscule plots that force them to depend on wage-labor to survive. The other two billion, that is, two-thirds of the world’s workforce, and all of their dependents, are completely dependent on markets for their survival. Capital is as dependent on these billions and the sale of their labour power as they are on them. There is social tension already existing in that relation-tension which is waiting to snap back against order. Communism exists potentially within this tension between proletarians and the order. The proletariat is the negation of this society. It will eventually revolt against commodity production merely to survive, because commodity production is forced to destroy it, even physically. The revolution is neither a matter of consciousness, nor a matter of management.


As Dauve writes, again in Eclipse and Re-emergence, quote, “Today there are numerous communist gestures and attitudes which express not only a refusal of the present world, but most of all an effort to build a new one. In so far as these do not succeed, one sees only their limits, only the tendency and not its possible continuation (the function of “extremist” groups is precisely to present these limits as the aims of the movement, and to strengthen them). In the refusal of assembly-line work, in the struggles of squatters, the communist perspective is present as an effort to create “something else,” not on the basis of a mere rejection of the modern world, but through the use and transformation of what is produced and wasted. In such conflicts people spontaneously try to appropriate goods without obeying the logic of exchange … Their relations to these things, and the relations they establish among themselves to perform such acts, are subversive. People even change themselves in such events. The “something else” that these actions reach for is present in the actions only potentially, whatever those who organize them may think and want, and whatever the extremists who take part in them and theorize about them may do and say. Such movements will be forced to become conscious of their acts, to understand what they are doing, in order to do it better.”

This is how we feel about squatting and also about printing and gardening and stealing and rioting and love.


Hegel once made this dialectical subversion: The bible orders believers to seek first the glory of God, in order to find a better life in heaven; Hegel turned this around, and said, “Seek ye first food and clothing and the kingdom of heaven will be awarded to you”. Thank you for listening, and may you have a bold and adventurous seeking.


Clara: This week on the chopping block, two comrades from a small, snowy midwest town share their experience of trying to collectivize the process of tackling dense theory. The text: the third issue of the journal Endnotes, subtitled “Gender, race, class, and other misfortunes.”

Alanis: A few months back, around 15 friends gathered for a 24 hour book club. The reading group took place from 4pm on a Saturday through 4pm the following day. Participants were asked to bring snacks, sleeping gear, and whatever they would want for 24 hours of worth of time together during the cold Midwest winter evening. Invitees were told that there would be, “reading, eating, sleeping, sparring, and conversing according to the pattern that seems right to them at the time.” Neither of us organized the 24 hour book club, but we both participated.

Clara: The goal of the 24 hour book club was to open up and experiment with how ideas are discussed. The hope was that the exaggerated-length of the club would allow for digressions, for ebbs and flows and for different kinds of engagement.

Alanis: The evening started out with people reading silently, usually stopping to ask for clarification or comment on something they read. People were choosing articles on their own in order to get their footing with the text. It felt like a nice way to start things off.

Clara: Endnotes 3 felt like appropriate material for this experiment for two reasons. First, most of us were intimidated by the prospect of engaging with it. Having the time – for quiet reading, for reflection and for reading out loud together – seemed important… Second, as I discovered while reading it during the book club, this third issue of Endnotes itself feels like an attempt by the editorial collective to open up. While this edition is still clearly engaged with the internal discourse of the communization milieu – meaning the profusion of obscure but useful terms like arbitrage and programmatism – it is much less self-referential than either of the previous issues of the journal.

Alanis: As more people gathered at the house and began acclimating themselves to the nature of the reading group as well as the nature of the text, smaller groups began to form and take turns reading out loud. Just in case you didn’t read the first two volumes of End Notes, Issue 1 only sought to frame a long-running historiographical argument between Gilles Dauvé and Theorie Communiste – major figures within French communization circles. Issue 2 largely got caught up in German debates about the meaning of Value, and only partially succeeded in making these debates relevant by connecting them to debt and the crisis.

Clara: When we were reading this issue out loud, though, it was immediately clear that the struggles of the past 5 years – both the ups and downs, the insurrections, general strikes, and waves of repression – coursed through the pages. The first major article is the Holding Pattern, and it’s a long treatment of the financial crisis. It was socially difficult to read through and discuss together since it turned so heavily on counter-analysis of capitalist economics. The people who were most familiar with how our enemies speak – in terms of quantitative easing, GDP, and economic cycles – had the easiest time engaging. But the text was also obviously tied to many of our immediate experiences of employment in a rapidly changing economy and our participation in the occupations movements of 2011–2012. The difficulty felt more satisfying when it became clear that this analysis offered some new escapes from the traps being set by reformists who are satisfied with easy rhetoric about the 1% and corporate corruption.

Alanis: Many of us initially had the rather lofty goal of trying to get through the entire book in 24 hours, which soon proved impossible. The text was dense, and some of the essays incited their own discussion, and others required a lot of explanation from the few people in the room who knew enough background information to help fill in the gaps for those of us who were newer to the topics covered. Breaks were taken for making food, while others involved chose to wrestle with friends in order to keep their energy level up. Much of the first evening was spent dissecting “The Holding Pattern”- an essay that felt dense but proved ultimately to be a rewarding read.

As someone who struggled to understand some of the theories referenced in “The Holding Pattern” I can say that, if left to my own devices, I would have skipped many pages or put the text down altogether in order to read something that felt a little easier to digest. It was only because I was in the company of others who were more familiar with the concepts in it that I managed to finish the essay. If you’re not a person who sits around reading about these concepts frequently, I would recommend reading it with another person. It really helped to let the information sink in.

Clara: Several of the articles are intakes from outside the collective, and feel like disruptive breaths of fresh air. On the other hand, several of the texts written by Endnotes also feel self-challenging and critical. “A Rising Tide Lifts all Boats” breaks from the objective tone favored in communist circles by beginning with a first-person narrative of participating in the 2011 riots in England. Its about 70% Evasion to only 30% Marx. And the “Logic of Gender” not only breaks out of the endless circle of communization debates about feminism, but ends up demolishing some of the underlying assumptions of Marxism.

Alanis: By 4 or 5 am, people petered out and fell into sleeping and other forms of socializing. We awoke a few hours later (around 10 or 11, I believe) and chose to read “The Logic of Gender” over breakfast. Taking turns reading this aloud was pleasant enough, and it felt less dry and more relatable to many at the table. It did, however, tend to create conversation that favored the anecdotal over the theoretical.

Clara: The major opening and closing articles reflect some the weaknesses of the communization milieu’s emphasis on crisis theory even as they try mightily to escape them. Even as we totter on the precipice of the crisis they’ve been predicting for so long, Endnotes finds it difficult to move beyond the limits of communization: the previously mentioned predilection for a supposedly “objective perspective” leads at points to pessimism and impasse.

The Holding Pattern outlines three likely futures. One would lead to populism and a leftist reorganization of the state and capitalism. The other two look more like either revolution or collapse, but Endnotes refuses to indicate how we could meaningfully act to affect these. Even at the moment of crisis and the open field it creates, radical possibility seems too absent.

Alanis: By the end of the book club, we had managed to get through only those two essays. Many of us went on to read other essays from the book- a separate book club met to discuss “Logistics, Counterlogistics, and the Communist Prospect” a few weeks later, and I know that during silent reading time, many of us read through “A Rising Tide” and murmured to each other about specific points. I felt like it was a decent exercise in attempting to create a different, more intense way of engaging with the text and with each other. By confining ourselves to a space together, we were forced into interactions that varied from uncomfortable to giddy, to incredibly bonding. I felt more capable of pushing through the texts, and closer to many of those who joined in on the experiment with me.

Clara: Endnotes journal is available in the U.S. from Little Black Cart distribution at Many of the articles are also available online at

INTERVIEW WITH Michael Kimble:

Alanis: And now we’re going to hear an interview with Michael Kimble, who is currently being held captive in Alabama. This interview was conducted by Indiana Queer Prisoner Solidarity as part of an event for June 11th, which is the day of solidarity with long-term anarchist prisoners.

Clara: Can you tell folks a little about yourself?

****Michael Kimble:**** I’m 48 years old, I’m incarcerated in Alabama. I come from a typical black family – broken family, six brothers and one sister, alcoholic mother, alcoholic father. Been through the juvenile systems, basically all of my life. That’s basically it.

Clara: How did you become an anarchist?

****Michael Kimble:**** I became an anarchist after I was incarcerated, through a lot of reading and meeting different people. At first I became a communist, because they seemed to speak to the problems that I was having in prison and other people. So what I did, I started reading, started getting literature. I was writing for a lot of information through revolutionary newspapers, found a lot of addresses and started writing basically the prison news services calendar is what really introduced my to anarchism, and anarchy as it is today, and it just resonated with me, and I adopted that as my belief system.

Clara: When and how did you become involved in prison struggle?

Michael Kimble: I became involved in prison struggle when I first came to prison in ’86. I was around a lot of guys that were communists when I joined a group called Inner Cell, and they were already involved in different struggles around prison conditions, and I started getting involved with that group, filing lawsuits, and I got into a lot of confrontations and agitations, and stuff like that.

Clara: Could you speak about some of the current struggles going on there?

Michael Kimble: Well, the latest current struggle has been based around the Free Alabama movement, based on the low wages, the slave wages they’re paying prisoners, the industry that’s making millions of dollars and paying no more than 19 cents an hour, basically about 40 or 50 dollars a month, and the conditions around the prison system –the overcrowding. Different struggles going on – we had a couple of shutdowns – one being around January the first of this year. And we had another that lasted 15 days, and we had another one planned for the 15th of April, but a lot of repression came down from the administration. I was threatened, placed on a list of security threat group, SHU guys that was locked up in segregation. And then last years struggle– we see this year one round trying to get condoms introduced in the prison system. That’s the last struggle we’ve had going on lately.

Clara: How does being an anarchist change how you relate to other inmates, or prison in general, and how do you relate to prison organizing that isn’t anti-state?

Michael Kimble: Well, being anarchist, being active in anarchy, makes me relate to guys in a different manner than normally. They see I accept what they do and see them as more human, and not just look at them as thugs, they call themselves bitches and whores and gangsters. Also, prison is like being in a coffin for me, like being buried alive. And if you buried alive, you gonna try to get up outta there, outta that coffin. So that’s what I do, I look at prison, that weight as, you know, America has over 2 million people in prison. With a population of 300 million in the United States. But then thats four times greater than China, with four times the number of people in their country. So that’s how I relate to it.

Clara: Could you speak a little bit about being gay, as it relates to incarceration, struggle and prison organizing?

Michael Kimble: Being gay and queer– you know, prison has it’s own culture. And being gay is on the bottom rung of the social ladder in prison. And in interacting with different guys out here, trying to be organized, it’s hard. Cause they don’t really wanna see or wanna hear what a gay person has to say, ’cause it’s very homophobic, because prison, by it’s nature, is hyper-macho.

Clara: What can outside supporters do to aid prison rebellion?

Michael Kimble: Basically at the moment right now, all we can get people to do is just show their solidarity, through letters, campaigns when repression comes down, against the system. That’s basically the things we can do right now.

Clara: Can you talk a little about the importance of long term-prison solidarity? Because anarchists tend to be pretty good at doing short-term prison solidarity for people who get arrested, or do short terms, but it seems like long-term prison solidarity is a more difficult question.

Michael Kimble: Yes, it seems so. But I think what’s so important about solidarity is that it helps build the morale of the rebels in prison. It also shows the state that the rebels have people on their side on the outside. It also shows the people that are around, the anarchists in prison and other rebels, that people are around, and they’ll be more likely to get involved.

Clara: And how can people get involved with or find out about the struggle in Alabama prisons right now?

Michael Kimble: We’ll be posting stuff on my website, and they can always go to the Free Alabama Movement website, people always going on there.

Clara: Do you have anything else you’d like to say to people?

Michael Kimble: I’d just like to say to people: stand strong, continue to do what they doin‘, they doin’ great work, and that we will run wild one day.

Alanis: To read more of Michael’s writings, visit


Alanis: And now it’s time for next week’s news. Clara, what’s coming up?

Clara: The Philadelphia Anarchist Bookfair will take place on August 23rd.

Alanis: And, some New York City anarchists have issued a call-out for a large, anti-capitalist bloc at the People’s Climate March on September 20th, to “spread subversion and unrest throughout the city in ways that are contagious and reproducible.” The protest is being hosted by and other green NGOs.

Alanis: From July 30th through August 1st, the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC, will be meeting behind closed doors in Dallas, Texas. Made up of some of the nation’s most powerful law-makers and corporate executives, ALEC has a long history of stripping rights away from workers, filling private prisons, wreaking havoc on the environment, and abusing immigrants. On these days, tens of thousands of people will take to the streets in Dallas to voice their demand that ALEC dismantle itself. Links to the event page can be found on our website.

Clara: And we’ve got some prisoner birthdays: on June 25th, Abdul Majid, framed for the murder of 2 cops because of his involvement in the Black Panther Party.

Alanis: And June 28th is Thomas Manning, who was involved in political organizing and various armed clandestine movements in the ’70s and ’80s, and is still active from behind prison walls.

Clara: As a side note, we got a really sweet note from Brandon Baxter of the Cleveland 4, saying thanks for shouting out to him on his birthday, and thanks to everyone who sent him birthday cards. He said it made a huge difference in his day. We do prisoner birthday shout-outs at the end of each episode; consider dropping what you’re doing and sending them a quick note. It just takes a few minutes out of your day, but it’s a huge reminder for those who are continuing to struggle behind bars that they aren’t alone or forgotten about.


Alanis: And that concludes this episode of the Ex-worker!

Clara: A big thanks to all our contributors, to Michael Kimble and Indiana Queer Prisoner Solidarity for the interview, and to Underground Reverie for the music. We’ll be back next week with a look at anarcha-feminism.

Alanis: Until next time…

Online resources

Links and references from this episode of The Ex-Worker: