June 1, 2010
We Are All Free.
If There’s Enough Work.
And You Fit In.
And Can Keep A Smile On Your Face For Long Periods of Time.
And Don’t Say Offensive Things.
Or Write About Them Online.
I know so many wonderful people who have so much creativity and potential, yet are trapped playing the money game called capitalism. It takes up all their time and sucks them dry, spiritually and emotionally. I was going to write a list of their prized ideas for you, but they might sue me for stealing their intellectual property. I can assure you, their plans are vast and novel.
So if we have such big ideas, what’s stopping us?
Sure, my friends and I live in the “1st World” (hello entitlement), but still we are indebted to the money machine, without the time to sit and focus on our creative blueprints, without the start-up funds to initiate them, and without the confidence to believe in our visions strongly enough that we may break out of our worker mentality. Some call the current system we have in place a meritocracy, but what the merit is currently based on is aggression – who is willing to push and grab their way to the top. There is a slim margin for intellectual success in fields other than finance, but only for the exceptionally gifted (and therefore sponsored) people.
I started losing faith in the capitalist system when I was about 14. My teachers stopped praising me for being student of the month, and started praising the meticulous artwork I would draw all over my notes. The “why” wouldn’t leave me alone anymore long enough to concentrate on homework. Why are we learning this? Why are you wasting my mental time? If school was meant to truly prepare us for the capitalist blood bath we’d be thrown into upon graduation, it would have featured a subject called Money Studies from first grade. (More freedom of curriculum choice, artistic options, hey, how about vegan studies…, etc.) In addition, we would be given the right to make money from the get-go. Child labour in measured doses. Because money is freedom – no matter what age.
Back to our focus point: who would we be if we didn’t have to waste our lives worrying about money?
Such an important question to ask ourselves, as even without the money, when we shed the sound of this pounding dollar sign in our hearts – we can at least clearly hear what we need that money for.
If you had the resources…
How would you spend your time?
How would you help people?
How would you generate a sustainable income?
How would you express your creativity?
How would you instigate social change?
What kind of space would you create?
May 8, 2010
On Wednesday, May 5th,
3 people died in a protest against the Greek government:
Three people were reported killed Wednesday after protesters set fire to a bank building in central Athens as workers across Greece went on strike to protest tough austerity measures aimed at staving off economic collapse. Tear gas billowed across the central Sintagma Square in front of Parliament as demonstrators trying to storm the Parliament building hurled rocks and gasoline bombs. Police responded with tear gas canisters that spread a choking pall of smoke. Tens of thousands of people had converged on the city center as part of a general strike that paralyzed flights, ferries, schools and hospitals.
The important thing to remember is that it is much easier for a police officer to impersonate a civilian than vice versa. Insert a plain clothes officer, have this officer throw a bottle, and an entire police force now has the right to use force.
In the past several years, Greece has been experiencing mass riots, up to 60 000 people protesting wage reductions for the working class and police brutality. Anarchists and students, supported and often joined by significant swaths of the population, have clashed with police, destroyed corporate and government property, and occupied government buildings, trade union offices, and media outlets, not to mention the usual universities. Police have retaliated with thousands of capsules of tear gas.
Is it ever okay to throw a Molotov Cocktail if the intention is not violent, but to destroy property? I wouldn’t because I have worked with severely burned children and would never want to inflict that onto anyone accidentally.What do you all think?
The corporate media has ignored the banners decrying police brutality and unaccountable authority, seizing instead on the idea that the unrest is the result of widespread unemployment and poor economic prospects for young Greeks. Thus prompted, many people—including some radicals—have focused on these issues as well.
Some corporate outlets have gone so far as to announce that the events in Greece may presage the second coming of the anti-globalization movement thought to be vanquished after September 11, 2001.
Should we accept that the rage being vented in Greece is economic in origin, the implication is that it could be dispelled by economic solutions. Perhaps the exploitation, misery, and unemployment currently rampant in Greece could be exported to some meeker nation, or else enough credit could be extended to the disaffected stone-throwers that they could come to identify as middle class themselves. These approaches have worked before; one might even argue that they have driven the process of capitalist globalization.
To the extent to which the resistance in Greece is simply an expression of frustration at dim financial prospects, then, it is possible that it can ultimately be defused or co-opted. But there are other forces at work here, which the corporate account de-emphasizes.
These riots are not coming out of nowhere. Masked anarchists setting fires and fighting the police have been common in Greece since before the turn of the century. In 1999, shortly before the Seattle WTO protests, there were major riots when Bill Clinton visited. At the time, the economy was livelier and the socialists were in power, which seems to contradict the theory that the current unrest is simply a result of dissatisfaction with the conservative government.
Corporate media generally ignore anarchists, trivializing them with qualifiers such as “self-styled” when they refer to them at all. That corporate outlets have been forced to detail the anarchist involvement attests to the depth and seriousness of anarchist activity. Leftists may attempt to portray the events in Greece as a general uprising of “the people,” and certainly countless “normal” people have participated, but it is clear even from this vantage point that anarchists started the rioting and have remained the most influential element within it. We hypothesize that the rioting in Greece is not simply an inevitable result of economic recession, but a proactive radical initiative that speaks to the general public.
Though the rioting was provoked by the murder of Alexandros (a 15 year old who was shot by police in 2008 after a minor verbal confrontation), it is only possible because of preexisting infrastructures and social currents—otherwise, such murders would catalyze uprisings in the US as well. Such an immediate and resolute response would not have occurred if anarchists in Greece had not developed a culture conducive to it. Thanks to a network of social centers, a deep-seated sense that neighborhoods such as the one in which Alexandros was killed are liberated zones off-limits to police, and a tradition of resistance extending back generations, Greek anarchists feel entitled to their rage and capable of acting upon it. In recent years, a series of struggles against the prison system, the mistreatment of immigrants, and the privatization of schools have given innumerable young people experience in militant action. As soon as the text messages circulated announcing the police killing, Greek anarchists knew exactly how to respond, because they had done so time and again before.
The general public in Greece is already sympathetic to resistance movements, owing to the heritage of struggle against the US-supported dictatorship. In this regard, Greece is similar to Chile, another nation noted for the intensity of its street conflicts and class warfare. With the murder of Alexandros, anarchists finally had a narrative that was compelling to a great number of people. In another political context, liberals or other opportunists might have been able to exploit this tragedy to their own ends, but the Greek anarchists forestalled this possibility by immediately seizing the initiative and framing the terms of the conflict.
That is to say, it’s always the economy. But it’s not just the economic hardships accompanying times of recession—the resistance in Greece is also a revolt against the exploitation, alienation, and hierarchy inherent in the capitalist system, that set the stage for police to murder teenagers whether or not a significant percentage of the population is unemployed.
- traveling to a far off land to find… the same stores and restaurants you had back home.
- having to sit down, shut up, and stare straight ahead for eight hours a day… the same thing that was punishment when you were a kid.
- paying your landlords before the month begins, and getting paid after you’ve done your work.
- used tampons in your broccoli – the non-organic brilliance of using raw sewage as fertilizer.
- driving home after a hard day at work and reaching for some tunes on your radio to get bombarded with commercials for a car, a phone, and a sex drive that’s better than yours.
- having to keep your voices low at work when discussing where food really comes from.
- the supposed edgiest pop star alive featuring 8 product placements in her “epic” new video.
- working as hard as your boss but getting paid a fraction of the salary because she’s “in charge”.
- your country owing billions in debt, yet giving billions to another country (cough*Israel*cough) as long as they spend it to buy weapons manufactured by your country.
- the world peace keeping coalition being run by the largest arms dealers.
February 27, 2010
A new short story published through an intriguing Los Angeles literary journal,
“…sparking debate and discussion through exposing the world to the most challenging, edgy, and lyrical prose, poetry, memoir, and artwork available.”
How timely, given the upcoming special day:
“…show your boss who’s boss – no one!”
October 13, 2009
Spells Can Only Be Cast in a Magical World,
but Take Heart:
We Live in a Magical World…
In day-to-day life, we are bombarded with magic – to be more precise, with the surprise intersections of people feelings, and events sometimes called coincidences. We do not even notice the great majority of these, but life is absolutely overflowing with them. Life is also full or patterns, symmetry, foreshadowing, symbolism, irony, dramatic lighting, indispensable props, crucial characters, and moments of truth. One can shrug all these off as accidents, but in so doing one loses all the benefits to be gained from investing them with meaning. Deciding to view the world through a frame that accounts for magical developments makes aspects of life visible that would otherwise ‘not exist’, and prepares one to work in the medium they provide.
So What Spell Do You Choose to Cast..?
October 11, 2009
May 2, 2009
7 Big Box Shoplifting Techniques
The faceless, homogeneous corporation is stealing from you.
Stealing control over where and how you shop,
stealing your input on how goods are produced,
stealing your job selection,
stealing your product variety,
stealing the beauty of your landscapes.
It is not only your right to tilt the scales.
1) What’s Your Damage:
Like people, products usually have flaws, if you’re looking for them. If they don’t, you can always implement some. Is there a chip out of something? A scratch? A knick? A lose thread? A small hole? A missing button? If not, there can be.
This will usually get you 10% off. Don’t be afraid to barter to 15% or 20%. Have your cash or credit card out to show you want to buy the item, but are holding out for your desired price.
Hold up the line taking your time to decide if you want said product to heighten the drama and add to the inconvenience of the situation.
2) Black N White:
Trying to print some activist pamphlets for your cause? Colour copies are eye catching but prediculously expensive, sometimes $1 a pop. So when ordering your copies, either don’t mention your printing preference, or mumble it; this way, when they give you your shiny stack of brochures you can reject them. You never asked for colour, but… you could buy them for a discounted price. How does 50% off sound?
After the copies are printed, they would rather make at least some profit off them. What are they going to do with 50 copies of information on anti-vivisection?
3) Cuanto Cuesta:
Once you have discovered the shining flaw in your merchandise, suggest a price that seems reasonable to you. Notice some scuff marks on the leg of a piece of furniture? Well it’s not worth full price anymore. It’s a shame to their brand to keep it on display – you can take it off their hands.
Stand back from the item, examine it, act torn over whether you want to buy it. The store is constantly receiving new merchandise and doesn’t want to keep stale, damaged goods on the floor. Be so bold as to offer a specific price with a convincing explanation of why you are the only one who would buy said item. Usually, they will counter your offer with something far below the original asking price. Believe it or not, you are in a flea market in Tijuana in every big box store.
4) The Store Next Door:
If you have seen a product for a lower price elsewhere, or even if you haven’t, use this information as a bartering tool with the store. You saw this exact same product for less elsewhere – will the store match your preferred price? Best to speak to a manager directly. Usually, managers are alpha fe/male power trippers who enjoy exerting their power. Challenge their omnipotent corporate power. Oh… So you don’t have the power to change the price? I see… I thought you were the manager. I meant to speak with the manager – could you get them for me?
Sometimes these managers are even so delusional as to buy into a war between conflicting chains; use this animosity to your advantage. You wouldn’t want me to go there would you?
5) Seam Ripper:
Sick of that new shirt? Does it no longer represent the person you have evolved into within the last few days? Returns once the tags are removed are possible. Simply create a rip in the seam of your garment with a small seam ripper. You are unhappy with the quality of your item, you have only worn it a few times and look at this. The store will offer you an exchange, or many times even a full return.
6) Taste Test:
Was that soy latte really worth 4$? Sure, you pay before you get your food in most fast food places, but isn’t this system biased towards the seller? We work first, get paid later. We pay rent first, live in our dwellings after. The system is biased against those with less capital, if we believe in the system.
During or after your meal/drink – ask yourself: was this a good purchase? Am I satisfied? If not, simply take the item back. Usually, the store will give you a new drink and some compensation to keep you coming back as a customer. After all, they are selling perfection. If you point out that it’s not perfection you have purchased, then they will accept responsibility.
On that note, feel free to sample candy and fruit in the grocery store. Considering how many goods these stores throw out each day and the store’s profit margins, your sampling is a drop in the collective bucket.
Ethical food is your right as a human being. It does not belong to anyone.
7) Tag Switch:
Simply take the tag with the price you want and put it on the item you want. Classic Value Village technique. This works best with merchandise that has been marked down, and has a sale price sticker that can be removed. Though the original price may come up on the register, the store will usually go with the price on the item.
At Superstore, if they scan your item and the incorrect price comes up, they give you the item for free, in one of those perhaps too generous policies like Blockbuster’s no late fees, which is slowly plummeting them out of business. Ah well.
**The corporation is not your friend.
April 14, 2009
CrimethInc, a decentralized anarchist collective composed of many cells which act independently in pursuit of a freer more joyous world, recently posted an essay on the effectiveness of The SHAC Model, ie. the tactics used by Stop Hungtingdon Animal Cruelty in order to shut down Huntingdon Life Death Sciences. The SHAC movement has been one of the most successful activist campaigns in recent history, despite some of its members being jailed.
“On December 21, 2000, HLS was dropped from the New York Stock Exchange; three months later, it lost its place on the main platform of the London Stock Exchange as well. HLS was only saved from bankruptcy when its largest remaining shareholder, the American investment bank Stephens, gave the company a $15 million loan.” CrimethInc.
(HLS then moved from the UK to the US because of its greater anonymity for shareholders.)
The radical tactics used by SHAC supporters ranged from effective home protests, to an employee being hospitalized after being beaten with an axe handle (someone using the Bush style violence-to-end-violence technique). But the most effective strategies used by SHAC were targeting HLS’s affiliates, their investors and supporters, who generally did not have a personal attachment to HLS strong enough to withstand the pressure they were receiving from SHAC to stop doing business with HLS, and who, out of terror from the notorious name SHAC had gained for itself in the press, withdrew from the controversial situation.
The following video, SHAC Strikes Back, features some undercover footage of animal abuse within the HLS labs and the widespread tactics that were bravely used by SHAC.
The disturbing footage in this video helps to explain why radical means were used to fight back against animals being used as scientific objects. The question becomes: Does hurting a sentient being ever justify scientific solutions to alleviate sentient beings from pain?
(…to health problems arising from things like lab-created carcinogenic chemicals packed into our food, clothing and possessions, but that’s another story…)
Is it the end, or the means to the end that matters?
And will it ever stop? Will there not always be reasons to run experiments on animals unless we decide ethically as a planet to use more effective human alternatives, such as human tissue experiments and computer models?
“The number of activists isn’t huge, but their impact has been incredible . . . There needs to be an understanding that this is a threat to all industries.
The tactics could be extended to any other sectors of the economy.”
–Brian Cass, managing director of HLS
“Carr Securities began marketing the Huntingdon Life Sciences stock. The next day, the Manhasset Bay Yacht Club, to which certain Carr executives reportedly belong, was vandalized by animal rights activists. The extremists sent a claim of responsibility to the SHAC website, and three days after the incident, Carr terminated its business relationship with HLS.”
–John Lewis, Deputy Assistant Director
FBI Oversight on so-called “Eco-terrorism”
FBI Oversight on so-called “Eco-terrorism”
Direct action against those doing business with HLS has taken many forms, occasionally escalating to arson and violence. In February 2001, HLS managing director Brian Cass was hospitalized after being attacked with axe handles at his home. That July, the Pirates for Animal Liberation sank the yacht of a Bank of New York executive, and the bank soon severed ties with the lab. A year later, smoke bombs were set off at the offices of Marsh Corp. in Seattle, causing the evacuation of the high rise and their disassociation from HLS. In fall of 2003, incendiary devices were left at Chiron and Shaklee corporations for their contracting with HLS. In 2005, Vancouver-based brokerage Canaccord Capital announced that it had dropped a client, Phytopharm PLC, in response to the ALF firebombing of a car belonging to a Canaccord executive; Phytopharm had been doing business with HLS. All this took place against a backdrop of constant smaller-scale actions.
In December 2006, HLS was prevented from being listed on the New York Stock Exchange, an unprecedented development that resulted in a full page ad in the New York Times portraying a masked, apparently leather-jacketed caricature of an activist declaring “I control Wall Street. In 2007, eight companies dropped HLS, including their two biggest investors, AXA and Wachovia, following home demonstrations and ALF visits to executives’ houses. In 2008, incendiary devices were left under Staples trucks and Staples outlets were vandalized. About 250 companies altogether have dropped in the course of the campaign, including Citibank, the world’s largest financial institution; HSBC, the world’s largest bank; Marsh, the world’s largest insurance broker; and Bank of America.
“We were aware of the activists, but I don’t think we understood exactly to what lengths they would go.”
–Warren Stevens, on dropping a $33 million loan to
Huntingdon Life Sciences despite having vowed never to do so,
following rioting at his offices in Little Rock and vandalism of his property
Huntingdon Life Sciences despite having vowed never to do so,
following rioting at his offices in Little Rock and vandalism of his property
The SHAC Model
When people think of SHAC, they picture demonstrations at the homes of employees and investors; some anarchists mean nothing more than this when they refer to the “SHAC model.” But home demonstrations are merely incidental to the formula that has enabled SHAC to wreak such havoc upon HLS. To understand what made the campaign effective, we have to look at all its essential characteristics together.
• Secondary and tertiary targeting:The SHAC campaign set about depriving HLS of its support structure. Just as a living organism depends on an entire ecosystem for the resources and relationships it needs to survive, a corporation cannot function without investors and business partners. In this regard, more so than any standard boycott, property destruction, or publicity campaign, SHAC confronted HLS on the terms most threatening to a corporation. Starbucks could easily afford a thousand times the cost of the windows smashed by the black bloc during the Seattle WTO protests, but if no one would replace those windows—or the windows had been broken at the houses of investors, so no one would invest in the corporation—it would be another story. SHAC organizers made a point of learning the inner workings of the capitalist economy, so they could strike most strategically.
Secondary and tertiary targeting works because the targets do not have a vested interest in continuing their involvement with the primary target. There are other places they can take their business, and they have no reason not to do so. This is a vital aspect of the SHAC model. If a business is cornered, they’ll fight to the death, and nothing will matter in the conflict except the pure force each party is able to bring to bear on the other; this is not generally to the advantage of activists, as corporations can bring in the police and government. This is why, apart from the axe handle incident, so few efforts in the SHAC campaign have been directed at HLS itself. Somewhere between the primary target and the associated corporations that provide its support structure, there appears to be a fulcrum where action is most effective. It might seem strange to go after tertiary targets that have no connection to the primary target themselves, but countless HLS customers have dropped relations after a client of theirs was embarrassed.
• Complementary relationship between public and underground organizing: More than any other direct action campaign in recent history, the SHAC campaign achieved a perfect symbiosis of public organizing and underground action. To this end, the campaign was characterized by an extremely savvy use of technology and modern networking. The SHAC websites disseminated information about targets and provided a forum for action reports to raise morale and expectations, enabling anyone sympathetic to the goals of the campaign to play a part without drawing attention to themselves.
• Diversity of tactics: Rather than pitting exponents of different tactics against each other, SHAC integrated all possible tactics into one campaign, in which each approach complemented the others. This meant that participants could choose from a practically limitless array of options, which opened the campaign to a wide range of people and averted needless conflicts.
• Concrete targets, concrete motivations: The fact that there were specific animals suffering, whose lives could be saved by specific direct action, made the issues concrete and lent the campaign a sense of urgency that translated into a willingness on the part of participants to push themselves out of their comfort zones. Likewise, at every juncture in the SHAC campaign, there were intermediate goals that could easily be accomplished, so the monumental task of undermining an entire corporation never felt overwhelming.
This contrasts sharply with the way momentum in certain green anarchist circles died off after the turn of the century, when the goals and targets became too expansive and abstract. It had been easy for individuals to motivate themselves to defend specific trees and natural areas, but once the point for some participants was to “destroy civilization” and everything less was mere reformism, it was impossible to work out what constituted meaningful action.
Further information analyzing the advantages and limitations of the SHAC model for the future creation of anarchic pursuits can be found on www.crimethinc.com
“Where all animal welfare and most animal rights groups insist on working within the legal boundaries of society, animal liberationists argue that the state is irrevocably corrupt and that legal approaches alone will never win justice for the animals.”
–ALF Press Office