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This is likely not a surprise to anyone, but Battle in Seattle is just awful. I saw it last night with [livejournal.com profile] smallstages* and it was truly worse than I thought it would be. Sure, some of the action scenes are fun -- and even memorable -- but I think [livejournal.com profile] sabotabby put it best before the movie was even released when she wrote that Battle in Seattle "looks like it's going to not just suck, but actually suck the entire universe into an epic ocean of its own fail."

Put it this way, it made This Revolution look intellectual in comparison.

*We thought we might fight about questions of tactics and international strategy but BIS brought us together in outrage. We stand in solidarity with the people demeaned in this movie including (but not limited to): anarchists, activists, consensus facilitators, NGO workers, Africans, pregnant women, TV reporters, Sea Turtles, Teamsters, Mayors, riot cops, and agent provocateurs.

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Here I was in France in June 2008, 40 years after a general strike that almost took down the French government. Paris ’68 is, like the Spanish Revolution of 1936, an important moment for anarchist study, at least to those of us who grew up when the USSR still existed. It was another time when Stalinists actively worked to defeat more revolutionary organizations.* Certainly there are fair criticisms of whether the events in Paris constituted a revolutionary moment, but it sure was something. Student strikes and arrests led to wildcat strikes by workers. Paris was shut down. Degaulle and the Communist Party eventually collaborated on a plebiscite that ended the striking.**

In college, a now semi-famous friend of mine had to watch a movie for class about the Events of May. She had missed the class where it was shown so she arranged a screening in a University movie lab where she invited all of her activist friends. We watched another documentary first called “The Riotmakers”, a clumsy right wing scare film about Civil Rights activists who would come to your door armed with facts and figures. When we watched the documentary we were primed, cheering the Molotovs and barricades, and booing the police and Stalinists.

We were exhausted when the lights came on. It was then we noticed that another person from our friend’s class had shown up to watch the movie also. He said timidly, but with a good sense of humor, “I guess I’m the only Gaullist in the room.”

I saw a few signs of commemoration of May 1968 but perhaps my timing was off. The most notable being a banner somewhere near Nantes that said, “1968: Social Movement. 2008: Social Death” but not much else.

I tried asking our tour guides but, while they are all very nice, they are all 20-somethings with MBAs. While they, rightly, think certain things in the USA are national embarrassments (lack of healthcare, homelessness etc.) and those things would mark them, as lefty in the US scheme of things, they don’t have much interest in the revolutionary social movements of the ‘60s. In fact, they seemed to find it a little embarrassing when I asked about it.

This was especially apparent when I tried to ask about Jose Bove. Probably its partly because they are used to being mocked about French politics by Americans. Partly it’s because some blame Bove for the high price of Roquefort due to American retaliation. Our guide said, she “appreciated his goals but not his methods”. I said, “Without his methods, I would never have heard about the issues.”

We let it drop. Obviously she was not one of the half million who voted for him for President.

I wanted to spend more time in the “hippie region” of France, but it would probably be best to do that tour with anarchists or political farmers, not MBAs.

*Of course slogans like, “Please leave the Communist Party as clean on leaving as you would like to find it on entering” probably didn’t help endear the Stalinists to the strikers. Nor did “Worker: You are 25, but your union is from the last century.”
**That’s the quick version. Of course it’s more complicated.
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Oh man, I can't wait for this. It's going to be horrible and fun at the same time. I can feel both the urge to cringe and the urge to fuck shit up! Hopefully we can see a double feature with the new animated Chicago 8 movie. Either way we must be a forceful presence on opening night.

Yes, it's a movie about the Seattle WTO 1999!

[livejournal.com profile] sabotabby and [livejournal.com profile] sadie_sabot beat me to linking this but I will happily join the viral marketing campaign. Commentary on their journals is worth reading. But I'll say here what I said there:

Thank god the got the part right about all of us following the leader with the bad facial hair. I was afraid they'd leave that part out.
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This is my first ever embedded youtube clip. It is awesome. Thanks [livejournal.com profile] streetdreams!

(I love the RABL reference! Hahaha!)
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I had a very nice San Francisco day. I went to the Anarchist Bookfair in the morning. It started at 10 on Saturday but it wasn't open until 11yesterday.. I guess it opened an hour later on Sunday so people would have time to go to church or sleep off their hangovers and wash off the green puke.

But it was better that I was early because I got to go walk through the botanical garden which is next to the bookfair site. I hadn't gone in a couple of years and I forget how peaceful it is. It's a really nice pairing, intentional or not, to have the Bookfair, which gets crowded, loud and overwhelming, next to such beautiful open space. I sat on a bench on the hill that overlooks the fountain and accidentally eavesdropped on a couple of people talking about how the government has outlawed analog televisions and whether in 2009 they are going to pay for TV or just let it go. People sympathetic to an anarchist message are everywhere.

I got to the Bookfair a few minutes after it opened and almost no one was there. This was the first year they've added a second day so I guess that is to be expected especially since there is an anarchist conference every year in the East Bay on the Sunday following the Bookfair. Since I find the Bookfair to be mostly a social event, I would have preferred to go Saturday, but hey, someone had to sell cheese.

I did my rounds saying hi to my co-workers and comrades and even bought a few books, though none at full price. I did get A Really Super Book About Squirrels illustrated by Graham Roumieu, the person who wrote my favorite book ever: In Me Own Words: The Autobiography of Bigfoot. I love Manic D Press, they are always the friendliest table in the room.

There are a few reasons why the Bookfair is more reunion than important book event for me but the most important is the selection. I love reading history, especially radical history, but the non-fiction to fiction ratio is just a little much. The definition of anarchism that many of the tablers have is much more limiting than mine.

First there's the traditional men-write-serious-books/women-get-to-write-about-sex dynamic which skews the offerings. I mean there are probably 100 titles about the Spanish Revolution there and except for the two books about women in the Spanish Revolution and the Emma Goldman collection compiled long after her death, I think every one is by a man. It's not that the Spanish Revolution is an unimportant moment in history or that I haven't learned a lot from some of those books. It's just kind of sad.

What makes it more sad is the lack of new work. Certainly there are zines and books made from zines. Beyond that though, there are very few things produced this century. Heck, there may be more things written in the 1800s than the 2000s. It's not like the classics are unimportant, it's that if there is that little of a creative spark in the anarchist world these days, what's the point? Emphasis on the old works is kinda of refreshing in the history-phobic era we live in, but what are people working on today?

Really I think it's timidity of the tablers and the anarcho-consumers alike. Whether or not works of fiction produced have a coherent anarchist line (however that may be defined) there are a lot of people writing who were involved and influenced by punk the anarchist and anarcho-punk world of the mid '80s. There are also a lot of folks coming from other places who deal with issues of power, hierarchy, and control in their writings. They may not consider themselves anarchists but there works are what is going on today.* And geez, even reading Emma Goldman's autobiography shows that those "pure" anarchists of old were reading the important fiction and philosophy of the day. Though truly, they had their faction-fights about it too.

Of course, I think those issues are a lot more important than discussions of statism anyway so maybe I'm showing my not-really-an-anarchist bias.

But you know, I really didn't mean to go on that tangent. I had a wonderful time catching up with folks discussing the history of bagels, how LA is when you don't own a car, and how British Rail is now privatized so it's cheaper to book ahead of time.

Soon though, it was time to go to the anti-war demo. In the words of Doc Dart of the Crucifucks on the album "Wisconsin", "It's been awhile since I've been around so I will be there on time."

Except I wasn't. I mean what is "on time" for a mass demo anyway? Enclosed in some public place waiting for a demo to start is fine for mingling but the sectarians treat you like calves in a veal pen. [livejournal.com profile] jactitation and I headed to the march an hour after it started and found it somewhere around 3rd St. We watched the crowd go by for awhile looking for a fun section. Keep on rolling RCP truck… labor band, you're pretty good but you're also old enough to catch up to if we can't find anything better. Ah, some marching band dressed in red, and there are some old friends too… we'll dive in here.

The march was marchy. The only notable thing was that Working Assets seemed to have made thousands of signs that said "Another _________ Against the War". Finally the left has managed to find corporate sponsorship! Still, if one could get over being an advertisement for WALD, it was a pretty cool idea for mass signs, allowing individual creativity that is not really encouraged by many organizations that sponsor demos. I saw no one who tried to subvert by filling it in with "Another Satisfied Pac Bell Customer Against the War", but then, who would?

As we got near Civic Center the money collection loudspeaker guy was welcoming groups. "Hello Sonoma County!" I really wish that the next big march could be televised like the Pride parade with an MC and a drag queen commenting on the signs, chants and outfits and with roving reporters interviewing crowd members. "Here comes Revolutionary Youth. Their mission is to smash the war machine by any means necessary and they've been serving the community since 2004. Do we have a member of the contingent standing by?…"**

We stood around for awhile while an old friend asked my co-worker some vitamin and health advice. A loud drumming contingent got closer and closer and it was full of people I mostly only know to nod to but who I've marched with at demos big and small since the anarchist gathering of 1989. It felt so warm and homey. We marched/danced the last slow thousand yards with lots of drumming, stilt walking, and the simple chant of "End the War Now!" I even saw someone who I could have sworn was supposed to be speaking at the Bookfair at that very moment.

On the way out we found [livejournal.com profile] anarqueso,*** Formaldehyde, our old sublettor, and his sweet friend. They were watching a hot (and hott), sweaty guy handling sausages. The march was over but Spring had sprung. It was breathtaking.

*LJ shout-out wise I saw works for sale there by [livejournal.com profile] unemployia, [livejournal.com profile] brownstargirl, and [livejournal.com profile] beelavender but I didn't see anyone else. [livejournal.com profile] final_girl was your stuff there?
**Some of these lines undoubtedly stolen from Jactitation.
***Pics on her LJ
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I've never been to Denmark. And I really don't care who "owns" this community center, it belongs to us. Talk is cheap, but I hope those Euro anarchists make the Danish government regret this. If they can't re-take the property then making it cost them seems appropriate.

This was the best article I saw: http://walktheplank.livejournal.com/588889.html but evidently the Danish police have now raided as many activist houses as they could, filling the jails with known politicos to try and stop the riots.

Sorry I was behind the news on this one. I wasn't on the internet much this weekend.
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(If one can "spoil" a movie based on a graphic novel that’s 20-some years old then beware, "spoilers" ahead.)

As I walked out of the Metreon with [livejournal.com profile] jactitation and [livejournal.com profile] goodbadgirl the dudes in front of us said, "Well, that was a cynical movie."

I was shocked. I thought it was a rather optimistic fairy tale of a film. Revolution has never looked so easy. I wanted to pull out my magical dagger and run him through. But I kept walking.

First off, any film that has a triumphant blowing up of Parliament as the final scene is ok by me. It’s even better when that is followed by a Malcolm X snippet about violence and self-defense . Those are the kind of things that make me leave movie theaters happy. Off the pigs! Should we go home or get a drink?

But let’s start at the beginning. I’m not sure why the filmmakers felt the need to not make the movie as dire as the comic. Making the plot less coherent, everyone seems to have jobs, there’s no appearance of grinding poverty, the surveillance state is less all-knowing even though the governments of this country and England have much more ability to monitor us than they did back in the ‘80s. I’m not really sure why Evey was going to visit big, gay Gordon instead of trying to turn a trick so she could eat in the opening, perhaps they thought the audience would be less sympathetic even if V still saves her from despoilment. But there’s no real point in guessing about motivations. They took out a lot of the roles of women too, but one was such a cliched castrating bitch, I wasn’t saddened by her absence. ([livejournal.com profile] sabotabby does a wonderful job of comparing the comic and the film especially around class politics.

Before we went and saw the movie, Jactitation reminded me that back in the ‘80s that the graphic novel wasn’t nearly as cynical as we were. It’s, in the end, a Great Man story. That one person, through omniscient symbolism and a few well-placed bombs can change everything. Though billed by some as "anarchist" (and the circle "V" is no accident) it’s actually fairly traditional story-telling. That V is training a woman to take his place, and that we are all Spartacus "V" in the end, is something of a twist, but not much of one.

I don’t want to impose realism on a comic book or movie here, except to point of that neither the graphic novel or the movie are what one could call "organizing tools". They are spectacle, and good fun, but fleeting, especially when easily seen in the context of Hollywood big screens and when the hero (who is much more likable than in the comic) has unexplained and unlimited resources ([livejournal.com profile] nihilistic_kid covered that aspect very well in his review) that make the storyline more fantastical than anything else.

A lot of people, when walking out of an action film feel like they want to get in a fight. But not really. A fantasy fight where they having all those Hong Kong Action moves and they don’t feel any pain. That’s the nature of movies. Like thinking about stabbing the film critics walking out in front of me, it provides a short-lived fantasy of being more powerful than one really is. At least on an individual level.

Where V manufactured a million identical masks and got the money to mail them to everyone in London is probably the biggest let’s-not-think-about-this moment in the plot. The obvious comparison to me is with the revolutionary teen punk movie "Times Square". But in that movie, all you had to do to be a Slime Sister was to grab a plastic garbage bag and smear on your mom’s makeup. Everyone had access to those things. The officially produced "V mask" (next year’s Halloween fave?) has to be produced, transported and hand-delivered to those who would bring down the totalitarian state. That seems rather odd for the revolutionary trying to poke holes in the culture of dependency and obedience spawned by fascism.

The climactic moment where Eminem (Thanks Goodbadgirl!) and his friends in Scream Guy Fawkes masks storm the soldiers and they don’t shoot because they don’t have orders (they are such automatons that they can’t do anything without orders) was a pretty big cop out. V is kinda fucked up, after all. He tortures Evey to set her free and he sends a bunch of unarmed folks to their potential deaths storming the military barricades (though the re are some similarities to the colorful revolutions of Eastern Europe here, both with the non-violence of the mob and the symbolic branding of the "revolution" ([livejournal.com profile] spaceoctopus has been writing about this a lot recently). Not that storming the military barricades (by people who’ve lost their fear without being imprisoned and tortured by "V") is a bad thing, just that this might have been the most consequence-less defeating of fascism ever. Only V ever has to kill anyone and his dirty hands blow up with parliament. It’s a baggage-less revolution!

The comic, and to a lesser extent the film, are often viewed as anarchist. I would submit that they are "anarchist " mostly because at the time of the writing, the anarchists had the most new, vibrant and semi-underground white subculture. I mean c’mon, are you gonna write a graphic novel about the exciting subculture of Trots? Besides the trappings in the graphic novel (circle V, the responsibility of one’s oppression is both internal and external etc. ) I think it’s mostly seen as anarchist because anarchist theory is so heavily mythological when it comes to revolution.

The general strike has historically been the mythical event that was most often cast to usher in the new world. Leaving the caveman fetishists aside (who, no, I don’t view as "real" anarchists"), the critique of vanguardism and political manipulation has left anarchists, in a post-revolutionary union world, without a grounded theory of revolution. Paris ’68 suggested that students spraypainting walls, refusing to attend class, and fucking in the streets might be enough to disrupt the "Spectacle" and push people towards true awareness of their role in society of oppressed and oppressor. Nearly 40 years of bad art and politics later we’re worse off than before.

Which isn’t anarchism’s fault, mind you. It’s just that many anarchists and fellow travelers are so starved for positive signs that we mistake repackaged hipness as revolutionary art. But hey, art is not a telegram and can mean different things to different peope, so maybe it is in some ways.

The other thing I came out of the movie wondering was could they make a movie like this (and Guy Fawkes obviously is a historic character who has no equivalent in US mythology) where the White House or Congress or even the Pentagon is destroyed as a good thing with no drawbacks? Sure, a lot of stuff got blown up happily in "Fight Club" but that was pre-9/11. Let’s have a sequel!

Lastly, and this is more of an aside, but could they have picked a more cliché song for the credits? "Street Fightin’ Man" by the Rolling Stones? Ugh. What would you have picked?

I had "Shaved Women" by Crass in my head from the prison scene on but that wouldn’t really have been appropriate. "Big A/Little A" might have been a good choice but a sad, rap/metal version was used in Scream 2 or 3 (again with the masks...). Nazi Punks Fuck Off" would have been fun but a little too punk-centric.

No, I think "Persons Unknown" * by the Poison Girls or "Firing Squad" by the Subhumans ( a band that actually put their politics into action!) would have been inspired choices.

*oh those lyrics are hard to read. The first stanza is:

This is a message to persons unknown
Persons in hiding. Persons unknown
Survival in silence
Isn't good enough no more
Keeping your mouth shut head in the sand
Terrorists and saboteurs
Each and every one of us
Hiding in shadows persons unknown
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First of all, over 100 comments on dayplanners? I had no idea you folks cared so much. For the record I still haven’t found my Slingshot so I made a provisional datebook out of a small blank notebook that fits in my back pocket. [livejournal.com profile] maeve66 has graciously promised me a new feral Slingshot soon.

But I also think it’s funny that over 100 people commented on the Organizer and no one really discussed Slingshot the zine. I have a long term relationship with it myself due to my particular anarcho-circumstances, but imagine many of the folks who use the Organizer, never read the magazine, and may never even have seen an issue.

When the first issue of Slingshot came out in the mid ‘80s, I* was working on a similar college-based, anonymous , anarch-ish, pre-computer, cut and paste, free, political zine. We were in a very geographically isolated area and the daily arrival of other like minded zines really was something that made us feel we were part of a movement larger than ourselves. Slingshot felt like a sister publication even if couldn’t totally get behind some of their articles.

But now it’s like the granddaddy paper of the wingnuttist faction of the anarchist "movement". Which is funny really, because they actually print some of the best articles in the anarchist press.** I appreciate that they will print articles they see as important tot their community even if they are written by non-anarchist radicals. Certainly, they try to have longer, more investigative and theoretical articles than almost anyone in the anarchist press, which generally consists of articles that are either we’re-friends-so-we’ll-print-your-badly-written-press-release-unedited or sportswriter-style accounts from riots around the world. (Ever notice that, like the Weekly World News, the reports of the most surprising and revolutionary actions always seem to take place somewhere obscure where it would be hard to substantiate the events.)

One of the main points of Slingshot seems to be that in order to read it, you really have to want to read it. I mean, it’s ugly. Maybe not as ugly as some other zines, and maybe even a little cleaned up over the years, but certainly not very accessible unless you’re part of the counterculture already or looking for a way to be part of it. Trust me, I don’t often agree with Fred Woodworth of The Match, but his analysis of the readability of anarcho-zines was one thing that he got right., His tracing of the degradation of quality of certain graphics from SDS to the present as they got photocopied and lost more and more print resolution was actually kind of hilarious, especially because I was guilty of that in my zine days.*** Hell, when we first went to using computers (in 1987 or so) we insisted everyone use different fonts so that it kept the "style’ it had from all of us previously typing out articles on out own typewriters.

I go back and forth on issues of subculture and politics. Subculture can’t exist without distancing itself from (however it views it) regular society. This can create breakthroughs in theory, provide incredible community, spur change by making the implicit explicit and just be plain fun. By its nature though, it easily turns to elitism and vanguardism. And a political movement that thinks of "those people" as stupid, especially when some of you/us were "those people" six months ago, isn’t gonna go anywhere long-term.

To say that the anarchist press has a massive credibility issue is both an understatement and kind of missing the point. These days it seems like one can’t read a political think piece in the mainstream press without it mentioning that liberals and conservative both read a lot but with almost no crossover in material. So really, there’s no surprise that the anarchist press is written to support the ideas of the already anarchist. We’re just being Americans.

It’s just good to remember that it’s an organizing tool only to those who are seeking being organized. That is not without value, it’s just especially ambitious. When I reviewed for MRR, there was an incredibly funny exchange between MRR and Slingshot. One reviewer, who I actually think often got things completely right, gave Slingshot a lukewarm review and then ended with an offhand comment about how it was slightly alienating to her because it seemed like it was written by a bunch of "anarcho-robots". Slingshot objected to this term and from then on every MRR review mentioned it somehow, just for fun.

But you know, that’s what you get when you are writing for a specific audience and other people read it. Especially when you insist on using obvious pseudonyms.**** This may protect one from the big bad government who wants to put us in jail or kill us because we’re such a threat, ya know like the Black Panthers, but it certainly also has the effect of seeming that the writers lack the courage of their convictions and/or wish to remain unaccountable to the readers. Unless of course one is in the in-crowd enough to know the writers personally.

But hey, creating that dayplanner was certainly a smart move. Creating something of value and that serves a community really works. Look at all the attention we’ve given them!

*I am outing no one else. Declare yourselves if you like.
**Which yes, also says something about the anarchist press which I find to be mostly just embarrassing.
***In our anarcho-zine, we noticed after a couple of years that the masthead had gotten really small because we always copied the issues at 99% and we just chopped the masthead off the last issue and pasted it on the new one!
****Full disclosure: our ‘80s anarcho-zine was anonymous but we also approved all the articles in collective editorial meetings so that they actually were coming, in some way, from the organization not individuals. I’m not saying this wasn’t alienating either, just clarifying.
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My LJ friend [livejournal.com profile] douglain was discussing Slingshot Organizers over in his journal and it made me realize mine was lost. I love my Slingshot because it fits in my back pocket, and carrying it around 24 hours day is the only way that I can keep track of my schedule and not fuck it up.

Today for example. I have a meeting at 9 AM with a new co-op, a cheese department meeting that I will be going late to at 11. A meeting with a different new co-op at 4. A short conference call with a 3rd new co-op at 5 and a meeting of the BOD of the local worker co-op organization from 7-9PM. Also in there, I’m supposed to work a 7 hour cheese shift (usually 8 but our meeting lops off an hour) which is not mathematically possible. Of course except for the cheese meeting which is partly my fault for not noticing, I didn’t really have options for the other things because they are either long overdue or crisis driven. I woke up at 6 dreading this long day ahead.

I find that’s the best thing about having a datebook actually. Trying to keep all my meetings in my head stresses me out enough to lose me sleep. I tend towards anxiousness anyway, but it’s like getting a pre-dawn wake up call when I haven’t been writing things down. My brain says time to get up in case you scheduled something else and forgot.

Lke I said above, I use the Slingshot because it fits in my back pocket, but that doesn’t mean I don’t find it embarrassing sometimes. This year’s cover is truly shameful, bringing up everything I dislike about my people, the anarchists. I maintain that the characters on the cover are not furries. They are re-feralized humans happy that the cities are burning so they can return to a truly free existence facing starvation and imminent death. Will they be able to give up the discovery of fire after it does it’s cleansing work of ridding the earth of excess people? Only time will tell.

At least this year there seemed to be fewer penises drawn on random dates like a 4th grader’s desk.

I do like the way almost every date has some important moment in radical history attached to it though I find it odd that Michel Foucault doesn’t merit a mention on our shared birthday. Are the furry anarchists anti-intellectual? Say it isn’t so.

I bet a lot of you have Slingshots too, don't you?
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When I left home I made a huge effort to find community. My family isn’t evil or bad, and they actually come through for me in a pinch every time, but it wasn’t enough. They tend to be loners and isolated. If there was one thing through my childhood that I knew I needed to change it was that. I needed more people.

How one falls in with their social group isn’t determined by any one factor of course. But I’m sure the communal nature of the anarcho-punk scene in the ‘80s contributed to my desire to belong to it. That and Reagan, of course. But while many of us resisted the word "family" to describe our social networks, (because of the mistakes of the hippies, because of an analysis of patriarchy, because it can be really creepy) it was clear that we were creating both political action bases and networks of mutual aid that could give us what most of us didn’t get from our nuclear families.

That kind of political organizing has obvious limits that I’m not going to address in this entry. But one of the things it did was give you a connection in every city in the country (and often elsewhere). It provided social connection and mobility in ways that none of us had individually. To be sure it wasn’t quite the same as family, you had to be able to do-you-know and observe certain local customs and rites that were sometimes annoying or challenging (seeing later-era MDC for instance), but it wasn’t that far off either. In some ways one’s anarcho-resume was like a letter of introduction, you level of acceptance was dependent on who would vouch for you. You also could fuck things up on your own but it got you in the door.

The days are over long ago when just a small punk freak flag would get you invited into a scene. And they were gone long before Nirvana hit it big, though that certainly killed it forever. Any subculture has its ways of determining who is a member, of course. My membership was ensured by working with a group of folks, college kids mostly, in Ithaca NY. We had a zine and a collective house and often ventured out as an affinity group to actions and protests throughout the country. The work of one of us was the work of all of us in some ways. That a year before I met those folks they helped blockade the Rock Island nuclear arsenal, meant that I, who wasn’t even there, was trustworthy, on a provisional basis at least.

What was being created during the ‘80s, through shared zines, mailing lists, political actions, squats, and music was a large-scale network of mutual aid. I make no claim that it worked perfectly or even very well. There were rip-offs, betrayals, assaults and even rapes, like every other community. Still it was an undertaking that is notable for its optimism and scale.

Our movement tried to mimic and improve what I would view now as failed counter-cultural politics of the ‘60s. The goal of (cultural) revolution, which was certainly not a goal for all involved, obviously didn’t happen, but the intermediary step of creating support and community in a country overtly moving towards social Darwinism and isolation did. ( I wrote about some of this in my Reagan Obituary .) The fact that its existence is not well known doesn’t mean it wasn’t important to many people.

There are many definitions of ‘community". I urge you again to go visit [livejournal.com profile] anarqueso’s entry from Saturday including the comments to see a wide varieties of definitions. I agree with [livejournal.com profile] jette that subculture is not the same as community. But I would add that it can be .

Communities are created by some kind of shared experience (including geography) that allows people to acknowledge the world beyond themselves. Obviously through most of history that concept would be taken for granted because there was no other way to survive. In this post-industrial, post traditionally-tied, post conscience society we live in however, one can have, and is even encouraged to have, the illusion of complete personal autonomy and independence.

Anarchists love the phrase "mutual aid" but they didn’t invent the concept. Yes, Kropotkin proposed that mutual aid was a more correct evolutionary concept than survival of the fittest, that species who cooperated with each other prospered better, as a whole, than those that didn’t. But I’m not here to clean out the dustbins of history and rehash that argument. My point is that mutual aid is not historically a countercultural concept but one that our world is partially based on.

Burial societies are probably some of the oldest organizations of not-necessarily-related people around. While for cultural reasons they are often based in a common religion, the were decentralized groups based on the concept that if you pitch in for others, they will pitch in for you. Though my workplace has certain revolutionary organizational concepts of financial support, one of the most basic concepts is informal and traditional: the collection taken for a worker in need. No one is in charge of it, but if it is known that someone needs help, someone will take up a collection and deliver it.

I don’t know if the concept of community was simpler in the olden days, I suspect it was but maybe that’s just romanticization. I feel tied to many different communities: my family, my neighborhood, my workplace, my friends etc. Some of these one can opt out of and some one cannot. Some were simply a matter of being in the same place and time when something intense happened. Even if [livejournal.com profile] anarqueso wasn’t the amazingly supportive person she has been over a long period of time, she became part of my not-optional community the night she took me to the hospital when I needed it.

The ‘80s anarchists are still in that category for me also. If someone can rattle off references and experiences from that time period, they become my people even if we never become close. [livejournal.com profile] unemployia and I have never met for example, we might not even like each other in real life (though I think we would), but we have a bond. There are moments when what you do defines your place in a community forever, even if one is later banished from, or leaves, that community. For me, those folks, even the ones I didn’t know, who dared to stand out that much in a time of obvious hostility combined with their dedication to creating networks of mutual support for me and others forever cemented a place for them in my life.

Like I said, it’s not my only community and one can certainly have different levels of commitment even within the communities they belong to. And it feels a little odd sometimes, considering I haven’t really attended anarcho-community events much, if at all, since the early ‘90s to still have those feelings.

Maybe that’s part of community too. For all the use back in the day of a phrase I always hated, "intentional communities" , the fact is that the way community works is that it becomes a non-rational part of you. Sure, one can analyze it, and, usually painfully, cut out members when necessary. But it’s not community if you are using a bottom-line, cost-analysis to figure out who is a part.
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In the paranoid squatter-punk world of the late ‘80s, FEMA was well known. Iran-Contragate* partially revealed that some of what the FEMA folks were doing was drawing up plans for internment camps in case of war, especially in case Reagan felt politically able to actually invade Nicaragua instead of simply funding the terrorists, rapists, and farm-burners known as the Contras.**

The head of FEMA in those days, Louis Guiffrida, was well practiced in the architecture of political repression since he did a thesis at Amy War College on the scenario of a race war (not "pro or con" but as a what-if scenario). In case you’re interested, he decided that interning all the Blacks was, unlike the WWII Japanese, impractical, so he proposed only jailing the most militant 50,000. He was convinced that Blacks in the Armed Forces follow orders and remain loyal. These plans were updated, (with Oliver North’s help, he was the FEMA liason for Reagan) in the ‘80s to handle jailing lefties and Central Americans in the event of US troops taking on the Sandinistas and/or the FMLN.

The FEMA interment camp news hit the Black press in NYC and the Village Voice but never found a home in the major media outlets. The anarchists tended to go even further, linking it to proposed (at the time) housing of homeless people in decommissioned army bases, calling it a confluence of FEMA power and the enactment of the Kerner Commission conclusions, a way of removing poor people from potentially valuable land.

The Kerner Commission was set up to study the inner-city riots of the late ‘60s. The cynical way of reading their conclusions is that teeming cities, and the cultures they inherit or breed, will always cause riots and/or rebel. This causes property damage and business losses. Therefore what must happen, and what government should push for, is "spatial deconcentration" choking off neighborhoods so that they slowly die off and people have to move away. Less density and cohesion equals less danger to the powers that be.

I love the anarchists. They are my people. But man, for a "movement" with so many "artists" we sure have a tin ear for language. Spatial deconcentration, (much like naming your demo A16 or anything the peace punks named their bands) just isn’t catchy. And theoretically it was a always bit of a stretch to say that it was actually government policy even if it certainly was in the interests of many people with more than their share of government influence.

People often ask me if I ever expected to be a cheesemonger when I was younger. I usually half-jokingly reply that no, I expected to be in jail. And, as much as I really thought about it, I expected FEMA to have set up the prison. To be sure some of that was delusionary, romantic, middle class radicalism, thinking I would 1. be important enough to be sent to a camp and 2. not killed and 3. not be able to get out of it. And certainly that was just one scenario in my head, said for effect more than reflecting my actual thoughts.

I’m writing about this not because I think it’s directly applicable to the current situation but to remind people that FEMA has never been neutral. FEMA is underfunded and unnecessary to the forces of repression these days because Homeland Security and the Patriot Act reach farther than even Reagan dared to hope for. That’s why such an obviously useless crony such as Mike Brown was head of FEMA. I don’t care to argue about the motivations of my enemies, but if the people running the Bush Administration really felt FEMA was important they wouldn’t have handed it someone demonstrably inept.

But these issues are still real issues happening in different ways and this "ineptness" can certainly be used for the advantage of those who appointed him. The rebuilding of New Orleans will be fascinating and horrible to watch. One doesn’t need to be a conspiracy theorist to know that while many people are living in evacuee camps, with strangers, or in churches, other people are already planning to rebuild the city to their liking and to their profit. I mean, duh, that’s the way these things work.

FEMA itself doesn’t need to be an evil entity for this to happen. It doesn’t need to be part of an overarching government conspiracy. But FEMA, as a part of the government which cares for certain types of people over others, will end up aiding the Halliburton rebuilding effort which, if I may predict, will among many other things, probably create a less dense city.*** But who knows? The severity**** of the evacuee camps could spawn effective political evacuee organizations. There will be neighborhood groups and church groups who will be fighting for the interests of displaced poor and working class people. The rebuilding effort will be long and so will the political fights.

We’re talking about the control and reshaping of an almost complete major urban area, something that hasn’t happened here since 1906. It seems like much of the French Quarter is still standing and property in a new, more sanitized, New Orleans might be potentially very valuable. Fear of earthquakes hasn’t stopped my city from becoming one of the most expensive on earth and that trend really began in earnest with urban redevelopment that, by coincidence, involved the mass disruption of certain long-term urban communities. Something Katrina etc. has already done.

*Geez, doesn’t that sound kind of quaint these days?
**"The moral equivalent of our Founding Fathers"
***Which is both good and bad. One doesn’t need to support tower block housing projects in order to point out that the government goal might still be to displace poor people.
****For lack of a better word right now. I assume part of the goal is to make them as uncomfortable as possible so that people seek any other option, both due to cost and the very potential of organization.
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I often ignore Fridays and Saturdays, social event-wise. My work schedule makes then non-weekends to me and I don’t like crowds at my bars, movies and shows. Since the Mission became a Bay Area destination zone in the early ‘90s, I’ve been just as happy to come home from work and watch a movie or read a book.

But this weekend I actually did things. Friday, I went to my favorite restaurant: the one the owner doesn’t like to be advertised. I knew her as a cheese customer before I knew she had a restaurant so I bring her a special cheese when I go and she brings me special items not on the menu. This time I brought her an Andante Minuet. I went with my pal Pops and we caught up on each other’s lives since our schedules are almost opposite and we never get to see each other outside of passing in the hallway.

Then I went to Wilde Oscar’s to catch King City. This band lived together in The Vats when they were all teen squatters. (Some how they got kicked out of there and I really need to hear that story.) But this band is no Sluglords, at one point they described themselves as Django Tango which gets as close to their sound as anything I could write. My friend plays the spoons. He’s usually a drummer for metal bands. Anyways, they’re on an 8-venue "No Sleep ‘Til El Farolito!" tour of the Mission District and if they had a web presence, I’d hype their next shows because they were great.

I went to the Anarchist Book Fair on Saturday morning. The trick with the Book Fair is to get there early so you can actually look at the books and breathe. I had to work so I actually got there before it opened and only stayed until noon. The crusty punks and their dogs had only just awakened by the time I left. Indeed, back in my neighborhoods some were sparing for change outside my local taqueria. They grunted when I asked them why they weren’t at the bookfair. Hell, they were the ones with the obscure peace punk patches.

I actually bought something this year too. The best book ever. In Me Own Words: The Autobiography of Bigfoot. Bigfoot no like Chewbacca! The illustration of Bigfoot and Koko the gorilla commiserating at an airport bar could be worth the price alone. Of course, Manic D had everything at half price for the bookfair.

I do love the bookfair as a social event. Too many people to name and few of them have LJs anyway. (hi [livejournal.com profile] nishgyrl) Thinking of the bookfair as a political event makes it kind of a disaster, but as a reunion of folks I actually want to see, as opposed to say my upcoming high school reunion, it’s great.

Got arrested at the Demo Convention in 1984? Hey there! DC abortion rights march in 1987? How are you? Toronto anarchist gathering in 1988? You’re still alive! San Francisco anarchist gathering in 1989. I didn’t know you were still in town. Fought Nazi skinheads in Union Square in 1990. Good to see you in a more calm setting. Rushing the Bay Bridge and running away from the burning cop car on the same Gulf War protest in 1991? That was kinda intense wasn’t it? Sneaking past police lines when martial law was declared in the Mission during the Rodney King protests in 1992? Hey, I lived on Mission Street, I was just trying to get home!

Sigh. I am a nostalgic motherfucker.

At work I cut (with others) about 500 pounds of cheese, did some intra-coop processing, dealt with a major freon leak, and fed cheese samples to hungry bookfair goers, among other folks. I stayed late to make sure the coolers were gonna work and cleaned and rotated some Parmigiano Reggianos. It was a good couple of days.
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well this isn't exactly a PEMM apropriate post, but I'm the Great Helmsman here, so what are you gonna do? All this talk of anarchist leaders invading NYC with their followers *reminded me of the Best Ever Headline for a upcoming political confernce and protest.

1988. Toronto. The third annual North American Anarchist Gathering was about to descend. The Toronto Star's headline:

"Officials Fear Anarchists' Idea of a Good Time"

I wish I still had the full article.

I hope everyone going to the NYC protests stays safe. Good luck.

*"Anarchists Hot for Mayhem" is pretty damn good too, I must say. But what the hell with this gasoline soaked teddy bear thing. If they were gasoline soaked, how come no one set them on fire? What bullshit. That was so obviously an art school protest.
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Have any of you seen the new American Experience documentary on Emma Goldman?* It played on the local PBS station Monday. I was going to try for a more nuanced view than, "Well, what can you expect from the capitalist media", but really taking any other theme for a review would just be nit-picky. Sometimes you just have to go with the classics.

They get most of the actual details of Goldman’s life right and that part is fun to watch. Really, they could hardly fail with that. Emma Goldman’s almost day-to-day account of her own life is broadly available and fairly well read for those who care to find it. The problem with this documentary is a typical one for a biography. It insists on the history of Great Men, even if in this case it’s a Great Woman. The history of anarchism and the anarchist movement of that time period is completely de-contextualized or ignored. The only reference to the IWW, for example is when Lenin asks Goldman and Alexander Berkman if the Wobs are capable of leading the American social revolution.

I guess the thing that actually got to me was when professional hand-wringer Kevin Baker ** describes Emma Goldman’s politics and the theory of anarchism as "jaw-droppingly naïve" Hmmm, I’ll consider that Kevin …

Ok, considered. Fuck off.

It’s not just the gall of a comfortable, never-challenging-politically, professional writer simply dismissing the politics and hopes of an immigrant, working class, woman revolutionary from a century before. It’s not just that many of the things being fought for at that times are things taken for granted now. It’s not just that’s it’s an appalling and ahistorical to judge a past movement with today’s standards. It’s also that it ignores the fact that she was not the only one with similar ideas. Throughout the movie, historical events or movements are mentioned, then it’s back to treating Emma Goldman (and to some degree Alexander Berkman) as an incredibly Unique and Special individual.

Which of course she was. But not in the way they mean it. Whenever one watches biographies of people who were enemies of the state in their own time, there’s an undercurrent of "If only they had realized how special they were they could have worked to succeed instead of wasting their time with the rabble on a unachievable goal."*** Emma Goldman became famous, and she said similar things in her lifetime, because there was mass working class organizing and activism. Without downplaying her extraordinary speaking abilities, tireless fundraising and ability to rise above societal restrictions due to her gender, ethnic background and class, if there had been no revolutionary working class movement at the end on the nineteenth century, we would not know the name Emma Goldman.

But this relationship is inverted throughout the documentary. There is some discussion, for example, about the theory of anarchism being too idealistic. Someone makes the obligatory "It’s just a different kind of Christianity" argument. Others shake their heads and cluck. How could such a head–in-the-sky ideology possibly fit in with the day-to-day concerns of labor unions? They imply that it’s simply impossible. While this has certainly always been a historic tension in anarchist theory, it ignores the fact that the anarchist movement of this time was mostly working class, and that anarchists were active in bread and butter issues like agitation for the 8-hour day. That’s why the Haymarket martyrs were anarchists, after all. (Happy International Workers Day, by the way. Locals, please remember our store is closed on May 1 to honor the real labor day.)

The whole theory of anarcho-syndicalist revolution **** is also never really explained. The viewer is left hanging about how this supposedly brilliant woman sees the revolution happening when it actually had a great deal of bearing on Berkman and Goldman’s assassination attempt on Henry Frick. I’m not arguing that it was correct, but the idea of the Great General Strike certainly had many adherents throughout a cross section of the revolutionary milieu of the time. Certainly among most working class anarchists and the IWW, the most revolutionary union during a certain part of Goldman’s life. The success of the Russian Revolution, while owing a partial debt to syndicalist thought, also rendered it obsolete as a mass theory of revolution in most of the world (Spain until 1939 or so is an obvious exception) but that wasn’t until many years after the assassination attempt..

Things I would have liked to see discussed: Was Goldman seen by other anarchists as making the anarchist movement too middle class because she was interested in birth control and sex, i.e. women’s issues? How do feminists who would like Goldman as a role model deal with the fact that she was indifferent to suffrage because it was a false goal (Goldman’s thoughts were along the lines of today’s "let gays into the military as long as we end the military")? What was Goldman’s influence on anarchism as a whole? Was Goldman actually an anarchist theorist, or simply an eloquent and moving public speaker? What is her influence today? What was the influence of 19th century anarchist principles on reforms that did happen (free education for all, official equality between the sexes and races, etc.)?

Of course, not a single activist, labor organizer, or politico was interviewed for the documentary. Only academics and writers were allowed to comment of Goldman’s history and legacy. Certainly some are sympathetic. I will say that the documentary made me love Tony Kushner more than I already do. I also thought it was great that they got a professor with a real anarchist beard***** (Barry Pateman******) to be Goldman’s main defender and he was very eloquent. Martin Duberman was also looking good and had a nice coat.

I know I’m being overly critical with this entry. This documentary wasn’t made for anarchists, politicos, or anyone with a working knowledge of radical history. And lord knows, if they had a modern-day anarchist it would have been some moron like John Zerzan talking about how Goldman had no criticism of industry and civilization and was no better than Stalin.

But these things always become a question of legacy at some point. At the Labor Relations school where I went to college, there was a picture of Emma Goldman among many union organizers and businessmen. Her plaque, amidst the myriad titles "oil tycoon", "banker and philanthropist", "union organizer" etc. bore the simple "social reformer". It probably was well intentioned. But it would make her turn in her grave if she knew.

*oh, while you’re there, be sure to take the poll! Btw, I will say that I think the website has more information than the film. Including excerpts from "Mother Earth".
**an example of a powerful opening sentence by Kevin Baker from his website: "The children are back at Columbine High School now for the new school year—if they can still truly be called children …" Wow. That’s a daring position. I wouldn’t usually think of 14-18 year olds as children except in the sense that we are all children of someone.
*** Actually one of my favorite songs is about this kind of historical revisionism: "Ulrike" by Chumbawamba. Inspired by an article about Ulrike Meinhoff which said that if she had only been a reformer instead of revolutionary she could have worked hard and been a Green MP by now. Chumbawamba has her post-mortem, no-apologies response, "Don’t think I walked into banks to stand in the Queue./ Don’t think I pressed up to the plexi-glass just to talk to you. / Don’t wait for me to say I’m sorry. I won’t / Who wants to be a Green MP? I don’t."
**** annoyingly, the best description of Gerges Sorel’s theories are on a neo-fascist website. That is NOT the link provided.
*****Not a full Kropotkin, but close enough for 2004.
******What happened to Candace Falk, btw?
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Every political group I’ve ever been part of has always had at least one know-it-all. Someone who just can’t be silent. Someone who needs to add just one more thing to an otherwise agreed upon proposal or plan. Maybe all social groups are like that and maybe it’s a fact of human interaction but this social dynamic isn’t always just annoying. This is the story of how this dynamic sent me to jail.

It was 1987 or so. Reagan was still president and South Africa still had apartheid rule. My college political friends and I had been planning a symbolic action for weeks to coincide with a series of speakers, teach-ins, and demonstrations to get our university to divest itself from South Africa. As with any large institution of higher learning, most of the Board of Trustees of our college had substantial business interests in South Africa themselves. Actually, that was the most important lesson that I learned in college

An obvious target for our wrath were the university bathrooms. One of the more notorious college Trustees was one of the Johnsons of Johnson Wax, an unapologetic supporter of "constructive engagement" if not the apartheid regime. Both the Art Museum and Business School on campus carry his name. Also, in every bathroom in every school building there were soap dispensers which proudly displayed the Johnson Wax logo. As a crackdown on campus protest intensified and divestment got voted down over and over again, washing our hands became a slap in the face for anti-apartheid activists.

We had it all planned. We had cases of blood red spray paint. We obtained keys to as many campus buildings as possible. We had about 15 teams of men and women ready to gender-appropriately* hit every bathroom soap dispenser, make it look like it was dripping blood, and affix a sticker with the slogan of the moment: "Johnson Wax Puts the Shine on Apartheid". After all, that’s what we saw every time we wanted to pee.

As we gathered at our anarchist collective house and divided up the campus, one of our know-it-alls had a great idea. He had just returned to town as an anarcho-tourist and hadn’t been involved in the planning, though he had previously lived in town for a number of years. "Let’s meet up at the Business School after we’re done and spray paint there." There was no real discussion that I remember. We were preoccupied with the final details for the action we had spent the previous weeks planning. Though a couple of people objected, the know-it-all insisted in that loud, forceful way that no one really wanted to fight against at that moment with so many other details on our minds. A Left mistake that seemingly has to be made over and over again, he was also older, butcher and "more dedicate to the struggle", therefore easy to defer to. Stupidly, The Business School Graffiti Fest was left open-ended, an optional part of our plan.

Since I had a car, a 1976 Buick LeSabre, I ferried a bunch of people to the farthest reaches of the school. It went beautifully. We all split up and spread our message throughout the miles of campus buildings. My group had no problems at all except for one spray paint can that blew up in my hand and left paint above the glove I was wearing. An hour later we were done and on our way to the rendezvous at the Business School.

Unfortunately, since none of us went to the Business School, our intelligence as faulty as our lack of planning was. When my carload of people arrived, others in our group** were already spray painting. In direct contrast to the earlier, well-planned and subtle action, more of us were arriving from every direction and it looked like a siege. Uh oh. My carload began discussing getting out of there when a business student came out of the building. Oops, the Business School was open late that week for midterms. The Business Student heroically ran to the Emergency Rape Phone and called the cops.

Unfortunately, my car wasn’t parked so I had to get back in and try to drive away from the scene instead of run. To make a short story shorter, we got pulled over seconds later. The campus cops all knew who we were so there was no talking our way out of it. Especially with my red arm and a couple of empty spray paint cans in the trunk. It didn’t seem like a good idea to try explaining that they were from a different spray painting excursion a few weeks before.

When we got taken to the campus police station, the first thing I noticed was that they had a copy of the poster from my campaign for Student Trustee*** on the wall that made fun of the University President. Because they hated him too? Because they hated me? Probably both.

The second thing we all noticed was that the police radio was reporting vandalism with alarming frequency. "Dispatch, I have a report of spray paint in the Ag school bathrooms. . ." "Hey, I’m in the engineering building and there’s red paint on the walls …." Even the cops were a little awed, not aware of how many others were involved. One said, "Wow. How many buildings did you people hit tonight?" I think he was only half playing Good Cop and despite himself, he was honestly impressed. We said nothing.

Unfortunately, our affinity group efficiency made the damages add up enough so that they could charge us with felonies. Hello Scared Straight program!

(To be continued)

* Though bathrooms are more politicized now, we figured an article in the campus paper headlined "Anti-Apartheid Activist Held on Morals Charge" was probably a bad idea.
**I believe at that time we were the Samora Machel Affinity Group (The Smaggots). This was before EGAG, the Emma Goldman Affinity Group.
***Which is a whole nother story . . .
gordonzola: (Default)
Friday I went to see "The Gallant Girls" at the film festival. It was amazing to see a movie about my people: mid-‘80s anarchists. The filmmaker, got things right that I’ve never seen on film before: the style of dress was perfect, the smart, and the stupid, political arguments, the collective houses and the misguided belief we had that our little groups and collectives were both a model and the start to a radically different way of life.

The fact that it was set in Berlin didn’t matter for me because first, many of us here envied and emulated much of the autonommen politics and second, The only times I’ve visited Germany, I’ve stayed with women who had been involved in the very time period in which the movie is set. Notably, [livejournal.com profile] jacitation and I were the only people in the theater who laughed loudly when the main character moves to the city and talks of her fear in meeting the "infamous, arrogant Berlin anarchists".

So true. We once had a room for rent in an apartment we lived in. A German man answered the ad and over the phone we talked politics and found much in common. However, when he came for the interview he immediately started telling us everything wrong about the apartment and our ideas of collective living. "Ach, In Berlin, we don’t buy groceries. We steal from supermarkets and scavenge from dumpsters. Why do you pay into the system? In Berlin we put walls through this room and move in five more people. Less rent for the all! Why have you not done this?"

He didn’t get the room.

"Gallant Girls" follows seven women, living collectively and working for the rev. It centers around their "influential" women’s collective as they organized against the IMF/World Bank meeting held in Berlin in 1987. They lead the split of women out of the lefty/anarchist organizing meetings and into a separate planning group. Oh ‘80s feminist politics, don’t tell anyone, but I secretly miss you sometimes.

Well, not really. But parts of this movie felt so comfortable and homey to watch; A little bit of secret history, much of which I’d already forgotten, but which was changed forever post-end of the Soviet Union, post-ACT UP/Queer Nation, post-the defeat of "anti-porn" feminism. If the movie wasn’t so loving of the process and the people of that time it would be different, but there were a few too many times that I cringed in familiarity and thought, "Oh, did I argue that back then too?"

I loved the collective living scenes. Messy, big collective houses filled with paint and posters. The "Gallant Girls" traded off working, at least at first, sharing their wages and jobs in order to live, as a model, collectively and organize as much as possible. Then the women start to realize that they, self-styled* anarchist role models, had begun to use tactics they associated with the male autonomous left and more hierarchical styles of organizing.

The movie itself was not perfect by any means. Scenes cut back and forth between the actors playing these women in the ‘80s and real life interviews with the actual women filmed recently. This worked some of the time, showing differences of opinion that still exist, casting some much needed analysis on their shared history. But it also ultimately failed, not interrogating the women enough on their current activities** and settling for some easy answers.

Contextually it would have been nice to examine the anarcha-punk politics of the time, its ultimate failures and the seeds it planted for the future. It’s not like critiques don’t exist. How can you avoid aping hierarchical power relations especially when you realize that you are? What are the limits of counter-cultural organizing? What are the limits of doing politics as a "scene" or enlarged friendship group? Did their particular feminist analysis change lefty politics in Germany? Alas, the tough questions got ducked. The film was scared of its own possible contradictions; that their politics could have felt so right and good, and were, but also reproduced certain societal relations they were fighting against.

Me, I try to live the contradiction. Directly outside the movie I ran into DM Feelings, the photographer who took [livejournal.com profile] fightingwords’s picture, a bunch of co-workers and other miscellaneous queers at Gay Shame. It was just ending and the cops were following them down Castro Street menacing them slightly.. SUV drivers wstarted getting upset at their delays I waved to the crowd, thought about the lessons of solidarity implicit in the actions of the "Gallant Girls" . . . and went out for a beer.

* heh heh, I’ve always wanted to use the phrase "Self-styled anarchists". Can I have a job at the Chron now?

**And here’s where translation comes in. Were some working in international development through government programs or with political NGOs? I couldn’t tell. I did love that "straight women" was translated as "heteras". As in "You heteras don’t understand the revolutionary nature of lesbian love." Well, no one actually said that, but it makes the point.

****Since I talked to [livejournal.com profile] jactitation about this for the entire rest of the evening, I’m not sure who thought of which parts of this entry she originally thought of. Just assume the smart parts are hers and the funny bits are mine.


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