Listen to the Episode — 42 min
Clara: The Ex-Worker:
Alanis: An audio strike against a monotone world;
Clara: a twice-monthly podcast of anarchist ideas and action;
Alanis: for everyone who dreams of a life off the clock.
Clara: Welcome to episode number seven of the Ex-Worker. We’re putting off the second part of our discussion about how to live without police and prisons in order to focus on a new report from anarchist comrades in Brazil about the rebellions there over the past two months We’ll hear a timeline of the spread of the demonstrations and an analysis of the politics, tactics, and influences at work in the revolt.
Alanis: We’ve also got a review of the new nihilist journal Attentat, more listener feedback, advice on writing to prisoners, and a whole lot more. My name is Alanis…
Clara: …and my name is Clara, and we’ll be your hosts. You can send us feedback and suggestions by email to firstname.lastname@example.org, or by leaving us a voice mail: our number is 202–59-NOWRK⎯that’s 202–596–6975. And you can also rate us on iTunes!
Alanis: Let’s get to it.
THE HOT WIRE
Clara: This episode on the Hot Wire: the trial of Wikileaks hero Bradley Manning has concluded, with the former US army intelligence analyst found guilty on, several charges but acquitted of aiding the enemy. In closing arguments, the military prosecutor referred to Manning as an anarchist for his actions leaking diplomatic cables, videos, and other classified information with the goal of exposing the US military’s brutality in Iraq and Afghanistan. He faces up to 136 years in prison.
Alanis: In Chile, trials began this week for the Temuco 12, a dozen indigenous Mapuche radicals from the occupied Wallmapu region accused under an antiterrorism law. The trials form part of the Chilean state’s strategy to defeat the militant Mapuche independence movement by targeting key organizers again and again for various framed-up criminal charges, though they have so far been unable to secure long prison sentences they’ve sought due to successful hunger strikes and international solidarity efforts. Supporters have called for solidarity actions at Chilean consulates and other corporate targets that exploit Mapuche lands; for more information, as well as background about the Mapuche struggle, check out our website, crimethinc.com/podcast.
Clara: Hundreds protested in Toronto after police shot and killed and 18-year old Syrian immigrant, while Chicago police killed a 95 year old man at a nursing home with the so-called less-lethal bean bag round weapon.
Alanis: In a seemingly unrelated action, flocks of angry crows have been attacking police in Everett, Washington, “swooping down and dive-bombing the officers as they walk to and from their cars,” according to reports. An officer stated, “they’re like velociraptors.” http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/06/10/crows-attack-police-cops-washington_n_874970.html
Clara: Anti-extraction protests are raging around the world: A British camp against oil drilling excavations suspected as a precursor to hydrofracking in the rural UK village of Balcombe has brought together local residents and activists against the police forces attempting to keep the energy company’s vehicles moving. As local grandmother Francis Leader stated, "I want my grandchildren and my future great grandchildren to be able to see the things that I see… And I want my ancestors to be proud of me that I protected the things that they valued. If I sit at home and knit I will not achieve a thing.” http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2013/07/2013731123059772369.html
Alanis: In the Kallak region of Northern Sweden, resistance continues against the British-based company Beowulf Mining’s efforts to begin operations on reindeer grazing lands of the indigenous Sami people. Blockades erected by activists to keep out the company were attacked by police, resulting in six arrests.
Clara: And in a small town in the Voronezh region of Russia, hundreds gathered to continue protests against a planned nickel and copper mine, where last month demonstrators torched the mining company’s cars, construction trailers and drilling rigs. http://www.themoscowtimes.com/business/article/hundreds-protest-nickel-mine/483484.html
Alanis: In Burley, Idaho, self-described “friends of wildlife” freed thousands of mink from a fur farm and destroyed valuable breeding records, while in Ukraine, two dolphins were liberated from the Yevpatoria dolphinarium into the Black Sea by anarchists in diving gear from the “SEALS on tour” cell of the Animal Liberation Front / Informal Anarchist Federation.
Clara: The Saudi Arabian government sentenced blogger Raif Badawi to seven years in prison and six hundred lashes for running a liberal website advocating religious equality, while in neighboring Bahrain, the government arrested blogger and human rights activist Mohamad Hassan after initiating an even harsher crackdown on opposition, including banning all demonstrations in the capital city and stripping citizenship from those convicted of violent resistance. (http://rt.com/news/bahrain-activist-arrested-protest–864/). Incidentally, the Bahraini Ministry of the Interior has hired former Philadelphia and Miami police chief John Timoney as a consultant, using his experience repressing demonstrations in the US to offer expert advice on how to prop up this Middle Eastern dictatorship with tear gas and batons.
Alanis: And finally: here on the Hot Wire, we usually report on protests against austerity measures sweeping the globe. But this is the kind of austerity cut we can get behind: the Greek government’s Public Order Ministry recently announced that as a cost-cutting measure, it would no longer provide police protection to the rich. Previously, individuals with a net income of over 100,000 euros a year were entitled to police bodyguards at state expense, to protect them against potential attacks by anarchist groups or miscellaneous citizens and poor people furious at their ability to live in luxury while the country writhes in crisis. Now they’ll have to foot the bill themselves.
Clara: and now it’s time for listener feedback.
Alanis: Thanks to everyone who wrote in after our last episode. Let’s see here… one listener took exception to our glorification of the Guy Fawkes mask, writing: “For every mask sold, Time Warner (one of the biggest media companies in the world) makes a profit, and you suggest we buy into this? These masks are the best selling masks on Amazon, and like many cheap consumer products were made primarily in Mexico and China. This is hipster pseudo radicalism done by kids who will be painting the picket fences in suburbia in 15 years. Keep on supporting radicalism, not this reactionary bullshit. One black flag to unite under is enough, we don’t need to add a corporate owned image to the mix.”
Clara: Amen to that! To be clear, everyone: we at the Ex-Worker are not advocating that you go out and buy a Guy Fawkes mask. We reported on its spread as a global symbol via the Occupy movement, and how in Brazil as well as elsewhere it seems to be making authorities nervous, but there’s no need to cover your face with that particular image. We recommend much simpler accessories, which can be obtained from nearly any wardrobe and require no Time Warner copyrighted material. Simply take a black T-shirt, turned inside out if there’s any design, placed over your head so that your eyes are peeking out of the neck hole. Then take the sleeves of the T-shirt and tie them behind your head. Voila! Judging by photos from hot spots around the world, it seems that black is still in this season, so that’s the color we’d recommend for your complementary wardrobe.
Alanis: If you’re interested in more fashion tips for anarchists, check out our website.
Clara: Another suggestion from listener “Claranis” - funny name, by the way… “If you could make a segment in a podcast about small-town organizing, that would be appreciated. I’ve read the report about Winona, Minnesota which was insightful, but not enough for me. I live in a smaller area, with no music or radical scene whatsoever, as well as having a much larger conservative population, and overzealous police force. If I had any support, the number wouldn’t be more than five people. Just an idea!”
Alanis: That’s an excellent idea, Claranis! We’d love to do that- but we need help from all of you. Do you live in a small town or a rural area? Would you be interested in having us do a profile of anarchist organizing in your area? Get in touch.
Clara: We also got some really valuable feedback about last episode’s discussion of living without police, but we’re going to hold off on addressing those until next episode, when we pick up that conversation and talk more about strategies for accountability and addressing harm without prisons. Thanks again to all of you for sending us your thoughts, and please keep on doing so - podcast @ crimethinc.com, or 202–59-NOWRK.
Clara: And now it’s time for our entries from the CrimethInc Contradictionary. This episode is brought to you by: Systematic and Endurance.
Clara: For more explorations of the war in every word, visit crimethinc.com/contradictionary.
SPECIAL FEATURE: THE JUNE 2013 UPRISINGS IN BRAZIL
Alanis: The June 2013 Uprisings in Brazil, Part I: New Alliances, Age-Old Struggles
Clara: The opinions, analysis, gossip, conspiracy, and witchcraft expressed herein do not purport to represent all the groups and positions in the uprisings that occurred throughout Brazil in June 2013…These analyses reflect only the critical perspective of an anonymous, rhizomatic grupelho (faction) active in the uprisings of Goiânia, Pôrto Alegre, Belo Horizonte, São Paulo, and Rio de Janeiro. We hope to describe what occurred from a radical, anti-hegemonic, and subaltern point of view. We also aspire to convey a bit of the magic from the streets, barricades, favelas, and prisons of Brazil, to fuel the ongoing struggles… elsewhere in the Globalitarian Empire.
Alanis: We begin this special report on the rebellions in Brazil with a timeline of the June demonstrations, tracing their origin, the way they snowballed in Sao Paulo and spread across the country, and how their character shifted as they grew larger.
Clara: In São Paulo, the first demonstration of this new wave of revolt against the transit fare increase took place on June 6, 2013. The fare had been increased by 20 cents. This meant that a single transit cost a third of the Brazilian minimum wage… The MPL (Movimento pelo Passe Livre: Free Pass Movement) had called the June 6 demonstration far in advance to protest the fare increase; a relatively wide coalition backed it, including left-wing and center-left parties, social movements, and the student movement. The most radical groups anticipated it with fear that the parties might get traction in the movement, but also excitement about the participation of the popular classes and more radical groups. The demonstration in São Paulo occurred in the wake of street clashes with police a few weeks earlier in Pôrto Alegre and Goiânia, in weekly mass demonstrations, bringing not only more radical sectors but also popular and poor strata to the streets.
The first demonstration in São Paulo fulfilled expectations. About 5000 people took to the streets… From the first moment, graffiti appeared all over the walls; dumpsters were dragged into the street and burned, disrupting and distracting the military police. Within an hour, a confrontation with police erupted that lasted until the end of the demonstration. The police attacked with tear gas, pepper spray, and stun grenades. The demonstrators retaliated with projectiles and erected burning barricades of trash and subway turnstiles. After this battle, the demonstration proceeded to Paulista Avenue (one of the city’s busiest and most important streets), closing it in both directions. … Shops, corporate franchises, banks, and subway stations were transformed by means of paint and projectiles. The losses inflicted to the São Paulo subway were estimated at US $40,000 that day. São Paulo had not seen such fierce demonstrations since the protests against the Free Trade Area of the Americas negotiations over a decade before. Another demonstration was scheduled for the next day.
The same spirit marked this demonstration: graffiti on the walls, destruction of the symbols of global capitalism. Once again, the police attacked; once more, the protesters responded. A new street battle began with the police employing tear gas, bombs, and batons, and protesters defending themselves with stones, barricades, and homemade bombs. A third protest in the same mold took place the following day.
The protesters of São Paulo had a few days of rest after this three-day marathon; another demonstration was scheduled for June 13….Now it was a whole new ball game. The previous week’s demonstrations had attracted more people, and this demo was attended by more than 10,000. Police appeared at the outskirts of Paulista Avenue, trying to block the demonstration to defend the interests of big business, who feared new reprisals from the enraged population. Riot police made a cordon and began to bombard the demonstration, which retaliated with stones, built barricades, and destroyed targets associated with global capitalism.
This time, the police were stopping and searching people on the subway; even before the beginning of the demonstration… By the end of the evening, almost 250 had been arrested. This was clearly an attempt to criminalize and intimidate the movement by means of conspiracy charges and absurd bail costs.
Another new aspect of this demonstration was the molecularization of the revolt. As riot police increased repression, the demonstration began to dissolve naturally into small groups of 300 to 1000. These initiated new demonstrations and points of conflict all around the city center. Guerrilla battles broke out everywhere as protesters retreating from bomb-throwing police built barricades.
The anticipation building up to the fifth major demonstration was intense. It was called for June 17. The media was buzzing. Globo—the biggest TV company of Brazil and one of the world’s biggest—interrupted their programming to disseminate news about the demonstrations. Initially, the corporate media depicted the movement as a bunch of criminals; then, when it gained momentum, they began to make a distinction between peaceful protesters and vandals in an attempt to marginalize the more radical sectors.
Yet once again, the demonstration assumed a radical character. Large banks, chain stores, and buses were beautified with graffiti; protesters nearly overran the headquarters of the state government of São Paulo.
We had known that the commotion about the Military Police beating photographers, reporters, and protesters would attract a large mass—and that came true. About 50,000 people attended this demonstration. Now what we had feared was finally happening: the demonstration included the middle class, the opportunist parties, a few nationalist groups, and the extreme right wing. The middle class had bought the hetero-bourgeois media discourse: they called for pacifism, marching with Brazilian flags and singing the national anthem. The right wing was trying to take over the movement, bringing their own agenda: protesting “corruption” and calling for President Dilma to be impeached. This was the first demonstration in which there were reports of pacifist protesters attacking radical groups. Anarchists who were spray painting in a bank were attacked by nationalists and pacifists and forced to withdraw. Chants of “no violence” directed at the police turned into chants of “without vandalism” directed at the protesters. The game had changed again.
Meanwhile, in Rio de Janeiro, thousands of people took to the streets the same day. Drawing on the momentum from São Paulo, a demonstration that would otherwise have drawn only a few thousand people drew over 100,000—making it the largest street demonstration in Brazil for 20 years…
From that day on, the demonstrations spread throughout the country. Pôrto Alegre saw renewed street clashes. Belo Horizonte and Rio de Janeiro staged new mass protests…the latter witnessed the greatest demonstration in the history of Brazil, over 3 million people, including an hours-long pitched battle in which protesters clashed with the BOPE (Assault Troop of Rio de Janeiro Military Police).
The people of Vitória also fought major battles, and in Salvador, the demonstrations became a great deal more radical, drawing broad participation especially from the poorest sectors of society… At the end of June, there were days when there were protests in more than 100 cities at once, and cities like São Paulo, Pôrto Alegre, Belo Horizonte, and Rio de Janeiro had protests every day of the week. Not to mention the international solidarity protests that took place in Berlin, Barcelona, and London.
On June 19, thanks to all the burned buses, smashed banks, and destroyed shop fronts, the governments of Rio and São Paulo jointly announced the reduction of the transit fare. This was a transparent ploy to preserve what little popularity they had left, meeting the movement’s demands before things got further out of control. This had a domino effect: soon after, several major cities also announced fare reductions, making this a historic victory.
Alanis: We continue our special report on the Brazilian resistance with some questions and answers analyzing the politics and tactics of the demonstrations, international influences, and the role that anarchists played.
Alanis: How did the politics shift as the uprising became more popular?
Clara: Already, before the events in São Paulo and Rio, the very first protests in Pôrto Alegre and Goiânia were fierce. The news was that protesters were closing streets with burning tires and barricades, that they were burning buses, that the government was scared and retreating and that the police were violent, trapping many people and giving rise to lawsuits. Balaclavas, Molotov cocktails, gas masks, vinegar, voluntary medical staff, gasoline, and all types of handmade bombs were deployed in almost all the demonstrations around the country, and not only by traditionally radical and insurrectionary groups. Tactics such as occupying government offices, blocking the doors of city hall, blockading roads, clashing with police, and looting became commonplace. The way the police reacted with violence and then retreated in fear only radicalized the demonstrators, creating a spirit of solidarity with arrested or injured protesters and revealing the power of horizontal grassroots organization.
On the other hand, the victory of the fare reduction, the end of the Confederations Cup, and the appearance of middle-class, nationalist, and pacifist sectors in the movement generated a period of decline in some cities. In São Paulo, in late June, black bloc’ers and other radical protesters were repeatedly beaten up by pacifists and handed over to police. Although the protests in Rio remained quite radical, anarchists and other protesters suffered aggression from Marxist and workerist parties.
Overall, the victories won by insurrectionary tactics offered a breath of hope to the vast majority that took to the streets… In cities where there was a pacifist breakthrough, it is necessary to revise the tactics and reorganize the fight, but the feeling in the air is that militant tactics fit into a context that has passed the point of no return. From now on, Molotov cocktails, barricades, and street fighting will be part of the tradition of street demonstrations in Brazil.
Alanis: What has been the influence of the revolts in Greece and Spain, the Arab Spring, and the Occupy movement upon the popular imagination in Brazil? Did participants in the June uprising see themselves as connected to the people fighting in Turkey and Egypt at the same time?
Clara: The Greek anarchist movement has long inspired the insurrectionary anarchist imagination in Brazil. However, until recently, we thought that the Greek anarchists could do such things because the Greek police are not militarized, whereas such revolts could never occur under Brazil’s military police. So, aside from inspiring a desire for more radical protests, Greek anarchists were not very influential. But we should also point out that the hetero-masculinist performance of some parts of the Greek anarchist movement has provoked critique from anarcha-feminist, radical feminist, and insurrectionary and anarchist queer sectors here.
The Occupy movement also had some influence here. The occupations of squares occurring at the end of 2011 in Pôrto Alegre, Rio, São Paulo, and other cities in the country took a new generation and a new social demographic into the streets—and some of those sectors remained active, taking a role in the uprisings. This was not always for the best: part of the pacifist and nationalist wave that raged in mid-June occurred thanks to the holders of the Guy Fawkes masks, Anonymous activists and some members of Occupy.
The Turkish resistance movement exerted a vivid influence on uprisings in Brazil. First, because like Brazil, Turkey is a country where one rarely sees violent street demonstrations, despite the abject living conditions of much of the population. Chants like “It’s over love, so here will turn Turkey” echoed in Pôrto Alegre, Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, and other cities. Demonstrators adopted tactics of urban confrontation from the Turkish resistance: barricades of burning garbage, gallons of water in which to submerge tear gas canisters.
Meanwhile, a letter from the Egyptian movement in solidarity with the Brazilian uprising was received with a lot of emotion by protesters.
Alanis: Explain how the uprising spread from a few specific single issues and particular groups to the participation of many parts of the general population with a broader outlook.
Clara: The brave popular resistance in pitched battles around the country and the brutal police violence against demonstrators generated a social upheaval, bringing a large contingent of people to the streets. The arrival of these new protesters with little political background changed the situation. While the existing movement radicalized in response to police repression, pacifists and nationalists attracted many of the newcomers, altering the character of the protests. In this context, extreme right-wing groups saw an opportunity to gain visibility.
The crisis of the state in Brazil has discredited all political and social representation, including professional politicians and left-wing parties. Much of the population attended demonstrations expressing this disillusionment. The right wing would channel this into campaigns against corruption, calls for the impeachment of president, and appeals in defense of the family.
The political context of Brazil is extremely turbulent; movements offer a strategic link to the strengthening of the collective interests of groups in resistance. The negative impact of the World Cup in Brazil is already visible, and in mass demonstrations during the Confederations Cup, the voices of those who are being affected by these developments echoed in the streets, especially in cities that hosted those events. The evictions of urban occupations and policies targeting favelas are also proceeding at full speed, which also contributed momentum. The movements of black people and people of color and grassroots organizations from the favelas brought a focus on police violence and state terrorism against black youth and slum dwellers. There is also a cis-heterosexist and masculinist assault in Brazil, with religious politicians trying to implement a law criminalizing women who have abortions, and another calling for psychologists to “heal” people guilty of anti-heteronormal gender disobedience. So the voices of all kinds of feminists, women, gays, trans-people, and queer-folks also echoed in the streets across the country.
One of the slogans of the uprising was “The giant woke up.” The participation of marginalized sectors including black people, favela dwellers, and trans-folks showed that the police who were violent downtown, with rubber bullets against rich and heterosexual protesters, were the same ones who kill poor, black, and non-heterosexual people in the slums every day. Slogans began to appear like “The Favela never slept,” “Feminists and trans-peoples never slept,” putting the movement in historical context rather than catering to the privilege of a disoriented middle class that always assumes itself to be the protagonist.
Alanis: What was the role of anarchists in initiating the uprising, and in pushing it further? In what ways were anarchist interventions in the events successful? In what ways did they fail?
Clara: On one hand, it is important to highlight the role of anarchists in the events. Many of the clashes with police were led by anarchists or involved a great number of anarchists. Older anarchist militants helped maintain calm and share tactics during the tensest moments; this probably preserved momentum and also ensured the safety of the participants. Black blocs also had a role in the resistance; in cities like Rio de Janeiro, Belo Horizonte, and São Paulo, they become a target of pacifist and communist parties, who felt that anarchists threatened their power. Black bloc tactics, initiated by anarchists, also spread throughout the demonstrations, especially in Belo Horizonte and Rio.
On the other hand, thankfully, anarchists were not as important as some would think. Much of the fighting and resistance was initiated by marginalized sectors of society: the unemployed, informal workers, poor workers, homeless people, street children, unemployed teenagers, and favela dwellers. In some moments of resistance—for example, when protesters drove the Caveirão, a military tank, off the streets, or in Belo Horizonte when protesters burned several car dealerships—you could see only a few anarchists. This shows that the radical tactics and spirit had spread throughout the multitude, or that the anarchists had dissolved themselves into the multitude. This is important: if the imperial capture apparatus cannot identify and isolate the source of revolt, the insurrection can spread.
It is still too early to make a balance sheet of anarchist participation in the revolt. However, it is clear that the most militant tactics, driven by young anarchists, radical feminists, anarcha-feminists, insurrectionary queers, and animal liberationists—sectors largely marginalized by social anarchism—were precisely the most effective tactics and the ones that spread the most in the demonstrations, playing a central role in the victory of the uprising.
Alanis: If you’d like to read more about the ongoing rebellions in Brazil, you can read this article in its entirety online at crimethinc.com. A second part of the analysis will be published shortly, so stay tuned.
THE CHOPPING BLOCK
Alanis: And now it’s time for the Chopping Block, our feature where we review what’s we’re reading in the world of anarchist publishing.
This week on the chopping block is Attentat, a journal of nihilist anarchism published earlier this summer by Pistols Drawn. It seems like everyone I know is chomping through this little black book right now. In its own words, the journal seeks to explore the collision between anarchist and nihilist ideas, focusing on the collision itself rather than these particular words or labels.
Some of the positions and critiques presented in the journal might be a little opaque for readers who aren’t familiar with certain trajectories of thought such as nihilism, the Situationist International, or insurrectionary anarchism. We’ll be discussing some of these ideas as themes in future episodes, but for now you can check out this episode’s resource list for some recommended reading.
The journal’s Situationist influence becomes apparent in the first article “The Art of Nothing,” a fourteen-page rumination of cryptic, Sun-Tzu-esque aphorisms. This opening certainly didn’t draw me in, but fear not, dear listener: the rest of the journal isn’t nearly as opaque. I recommend jumping around rather than reading it straight through.
The engaging article entitled “History of Decomposition” is one of my favorites. It begins with a discussion of decomposition, the breaking down and replacement of cultural forms, then explores how Fredy Perlman uses the concept in “Against His-Story, Against Leviathan!,” which we reviewed in our third episode about green anarchism. Another highlight is the historical article about “The Black Banner,” a group of criminal anarchists in turn-of-the-century Russia. It’s an enjoyable read, and doesn’t require a lot of background knowledge.
I took issue with the article on insurrectionism, entitled “Professional Anarchy and Theoretical Disarmament.” This recent translation of a 2007 article by Spanish activist and historian Miguel Amorós attempts to cast suspicion on the proposals of insurrectionary anarchism by way of circulating some personal history about Alfredo Bonanno, the infamous and prolific Italian anarchist.
The afterward, provocatively titled “Insurrectionary Anarchism as Activism,” lays out how Amorós’ critique of insurrectionary anarchism in Spain also applies to the current US context. Although the article’s broad generalizations about the influences and motives of American anarchists don’t feel useful, the reflections it prompts on how ideas and tactics translate over time and space are worth considering. However, these particular articles brim with rather heavy-handed sniping, perhaps reflecting the Situationist influence.
I found their new definition of the concept of attentat quite poetic, and, ironically enough, coherent with an insurrectionary position. They propose that an attentat is “any act that does not concern itself with cause-and-effect but with inspiration… the overloading of a moment with the kind of aggregation of feelings that transforms a moment into a lifetime. It is the act of leaping into known unknowns.” Pick up this new journal for a provocative take on some of the philosophical currents influencing anarchist thought and activity today.
Attentat is available from Little Black Cart Distribution, online at littleblackcart.com.
Clara: If you’re interested in hearing more, we’d like to recommend another awesome online anarchist audio resource, which is a weekly radio show called the Final Straw based out of Asheville, North Carolina. Their July 21st, 2013 episode features an hour long interview with one of the editors of Attentat, discussing the history of nihilist thought and actions and their relevance in our context today. You can download it as a podcast from the website radio4all.org; we’ve got the link up on our website, crimethinc.com/podcast.
NEXT WEEK’S NEWS
Alanis: And last but not least, let’s hear Next Week’s News, our announcements of upcoming events around the world.
Clara: From August 7–9, folks are gathering in Chicago to protest the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC. ALEC is a secretive alliance between politicians and corporations that drafts some of the most repressive and exploitative legislation going into law around the country, ranging from ag-gag bills and animal terrorism laws to prison privatization to anti-immigrant crackdowns. At this meeting, executives and lobbyists will be wining and dining the legislators who’ll then pass the laws that make them rich and keep the rest of us poor and in prison. If that makes you as mad as it makes us, you can find out more at www.alecwc.org
Alanis: And as we announced last time, right now the Dutch No Border Network’s No Border Camp continues in Rotterdam through August 10. It’s a militant week of action, discussion and workshops that connects with the actions of migrants in the Netherlands during the past year and a half.
Clara: The Seattle Anarchist Book Fair is in a couple weeks on August 24th and 25th, so mark your calendars.
Alanis: And there are several political prisoner birthdays to mention: on the 8th of August, Dr. Mutulu Shakur, father of Tupac, black nationalist revolutionary and acupuncturist, accused of assisting in the escape of Assata Shakur and participating in other armed revolutionary actions in the 1970s and early 80s. He’s turning 63 years old and suffered a stroke earlier this year, so please send some positive thoughts his way.
Clara: On the 14th, Barrett Brown, a journalist jailed for his links to the hacktivist phenomenon Anonymous
Alanis: And on the 16th, Hanif Bey, an activist from the independence movement of the Virgin Islands framed for murder in the 1970s.
Clara: Take a moment out of your day to send these folks a letter. If you’ve never written to a prisoner before, here are some things to keep in mind: make sure to use their full name and prisoner number, and include your own return address not only on the envelope but on the card or letter itself. You can use whatever name you want for yourself, of course. If you’re not sure what to say, that’s ok; just tell a story, or describe the place where you live or the struggles you’re involved in, or just thank them for what they’ve done. But remember that your letters will certainly be open and read by prison staff, so take care not to disclose anything sensitive. Prisons often have absurd restrictions about what you can and can’t send to someone, to the point of regulating what color pens you can use to who’s allowed to send books and on what topics. So if you want to send more than a simple letter, be sure to check the mailing regulations in the specific facility. And remember, it makes a difference! Not only does getting mail raise morale for someone, it also raises their prestige in the eyes of other prisoners, guards, and the administration, who know that they’ve got people on the outside paying attention; that helps keep them safer and gives them leverage in the prison.
Alanis: In many cities around the US, folks gather monthly to write letters to political prisoners whose birthdays are coming up that month. If you’d like to find out if there’s one happening in your area, or if you’d like a copy of a monthly calendar of political prisoner birthdays you can distribute as a poster, send an email to ppbirthday at riseup.net.
Clara: That’s all we’ve got for this episode! Thanks for tuning in; many thanks to our Brazilian comrades for the exciting and insightful report on the rebellions there, and to Underground Reverie for the music. This podcast has been a production of the CrimethInc Ex-Workers Collective.
Alanis: Catch us again in two weeks time, when we’ll continue our exploration of how to live without police and prisons and turn our focus to strategies for accountability and resolving harm that don’t rely on the state.
Clara: Until then, keep on loving and keep on fighting.
Alanis: See ya next time!
Links and references from this episode of The Ex-Worker:
Download MP3 (42 Min; 19MB)
An update that didn’t make it into the Hot Wire for this episode: Billy “Guero” Sell, a hunger-striking prisoner in Corcoran State Prison in California, has died. Stay connected to the Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity Coalition for updates.
Interview with an editor from the Attentat journal by the anarchist radio show The Final Straw
As referenced in the review of Attentat, here’s some background reading on insurrectionary anarchism, Italian insurrectionist Alfredo Bonanno, and reflections on insurrection in the US anarchist context; the Situationists and Situationist International; and nihilism and its discontents.
To learn more about the Mapuche struggle for independence: Indigenous Mapuche People Struggle Against the Chilean State and Private Companies Solidarity Trip to Chile, Bolivia, and Wallmapu Mapuche Newenmapu (espanol)
Prisoner mailing addresses:
Dr. Mutulu Shakur #83205–012
Post Office Box 3900
Adelanto, California 92301
Barrett Brown #45047177
Mansfield Law Enforcement Center
1601 Heritage Parkway
Mansfield, Texas 76063
Hanif Shabazz Bey (Beaumont Gereau) #295933
RR 1 Box 9955
Kingshill, St Croix, Virgin Islands 00850
Address envelope to Beaumont Gereau, address card to Hanif
Also, here’s the August calendar of political prisoner birthdays: you can write to ppbirthday [at] riseup[dot]net to request copies, find out about local letter-writing events, and more.
Music for the Ex-Worker provided by Underground Reverie