Archive for the 'Counterculture & Punk' Category

Ian Bone: How Crass’s Penny Rimbaud Saved EP Thompson from Being Decapitated by Class War

[Ian Bone describes how Class War is being confrontational towards speakers at a CND rally in Hyde Park in October, 1983]

Next up is silver-mained EP Thompson, author of The Making of the English Working Class, a book we all hold in great esteem and whose mob traditions we even feel we’re part of. But no matter—[Class War's] Doc Whelan’s limited patience threshold has well and truly been breached. He has a glass cider flagon which he was reserving for Kinnockio [Neil Kinnock] but decided ‘some fucking professor’ will do just as well for a target. He has a sighting heave with a piece of concrete which whistles past EP Thompson’s locks on a still rising trajectory. He starts to spin like a hammer thrower with the flagon as the hammer. EP Thompson’s health is seriously at risk, and I’m doing fuck all to protect one of my favorite writers from decapitation. Thankfully, others aren’t so paralyzed. A firm arm grabs Doc’s wrista move usually likely to incur the dreaded Whelan forehead crunching down on the bridge of your nose. Doc recognizes the owner of the arm as Penny Rimbaud. ‘He’s not the one that deserves that,’ says Penny, ‘save it for later.’ Wise words and Doc concurs.

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Ian Bone, Bash the Rich: True-Life Confessions of an Anarchist in the UK (Bath, UK: Tangent Books, 2006), pp 139-40.

Neighbors Network – “Hatred In Georgia” and other publications (1989-1994)

Radical Archives is delighted to present the monitoring publications of the Neighbors Network, including Hatred in Georgia. These publications, covering the years 1989 to 1993, document the extensive far right organizing in that state.

The Neighbors Network was an independent, Atlanta, Georgia-based grassroots anti-Klan/anti-Nazi group; it was founded in 1987 and disbanded in 1996. These years were a high-water mark for far right organizing in the post-Civil Rights era of the U.S., and Georgia was one of its centers.  The traditional distinction between various independent Klans (then experiencing their own revivals) and the Nazis was eroding. In 1987, a small march in Forsyth County (which had been reputed to be all-white since multiple lynchings in 1912) by local residents and civil rights activists was forced to flee when attacked by a stone-throwing mob, despite protection from both State and local law enforcement. A follow-up march by anti-racists the next week was met by thousands of angry counter-protestors, in what many consider to the largest pro-segregation demonstration since the 1960s.

Emboldened by the often lackadaisical response from local governments or communities, Nazi and Klan groups, often in conjunction with old time segregationists or Populist Party members, held frequent public events in towns across Georgia. These ranged from flyering at shopping malls to cross burnings and Nazi skinhead rallies that drew hundreds of attendees. There were numerous assaults on queer folks, people of color, immigrants, the homeless and anti-racist activists — as well as a number of murders. These far right factions ultimately lent their support to “legitimate” right-wing activity, such as Cobb County’s 1993 anti-gay resolution. It was in this context that the Neighbors Network was formed.

An extensive interview with Neighbors Network founder Walter Reeves is now online at the Political Research Associates website.

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Hatred in Georgia, 1989-1993

Hatred in Georgia, 1989: A Chronology of Hate Activity, written and compiled By Patrick Kelly, edited By R.S. Cross (Atlanta: Neighbors Network, 1990).

Hatred in Georgia, 1990: A Chronology of Hate Activity, compiled by Patrick Kelly, edited by Eva Sears and R. S. Cross (Atlanta: Neighbors Network, 1991).

Hatred in Georgia, 1991: A Chronology and Analysis of Hate Activity, compiled by Patrick Kelly; text by Steve Adams, Patrick Kelly, S. Stanton, W. B. Reeves, and Eva Sears; edited by S. Stanton (Atlanta: Neighbors Network, 1992).

Hatred in Georgia, 1992 Report: A Chronology and Analysis of Hate Activity, written and compiled by Patrick Kelly, Marcy Louza, W.B. Reeves, Sandra Garrison, Eva Sears, Steve Adams and Norman Burns (Atlanta: Neighbors Network, 1993).

Hatred in Georgia, 1993 Report: A Chronology and Analysis of Hate Activity, written and compiled by Patrick Kelly, W.B. Reeves, Eva Sears, Janine Landon, David McBride, and Steve Adams (Atlanta: Neighbors Network, 1994).

Neighbors Network reports:

Hidden Agenda: The Influence of Religious Extremism on the Politics of Cobb County, Georgia, compiled and written by W. B. Reeves; produced for the Cobb Citizens Coalition (Atlanta: Neighbors Network, 1994).

Shadow of Hatred: Hate Group Activity in Cobb County, Georgia, written and compiled by: W. B. Reeves, Patrick Kelly, and Steve Adams; produced for the Cobb Citizens Coalition (Atlanta: Neighbors Network, 1994).

Bruce Dancis – “Safety Pins and Class Struggle: Punk Rock and the Left” (1978)

One of the few articles on punk that appeared in a leftist journal in the 1970s, this insightful and prescient piece by radical cultural critic Bruce Dancis holds up well today. He dissects the tensions between punk’s political potential and its nihilistic streak, and is particularly good about its ambiguous relationship to fascism, violence, and sexism. Also fascinating today is his documentation of the organized British left’s response to punk, beyond just the obligatory mention of Rock Against Racism. About punk he says:

“At its best, punk rock represents not only an energetic aesthetic attack on the dominant trends within popular music, but also a working-class protest against youthful unemployment, poverty, government censorship, authoritarianism, racism, fascism, the record industry, the star system, and the traditional performer/audience relationship. At its worst, punk is a manifestation of cultural despair and decadence, featuring nihilism, sexism, a glorification of violence and fascist imagery, sado-masochism, and musical incompetence.”

Dancis wrote for many years about music and politics, and his articles from In These Times from 1977 to 1981 are available here. This essay is reprinted with his permission.

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Bruce Dancis, “Safety Pins and Class Struggle: Punk Rock and the Left,” Socialist Review #39 (vol. 8, no. 3), May-June, 1978, pp 58-83.

Lou Reed meets the Italian autonomists

“Relations with manager [Dennis] Katz were crumbling fast, a process that climaxed in Milan on February 13, 1975. Reed was in Italy to launch the first leg of a world tour but took the stage to find the arena on the edge of pitched battle. The Masters of Creative Situations, a Communist action group, chose the gig as the venue for a confrontation with the police, which necessarily spilled over onto the stage.”

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from Dave Thompson, Your Pretty Face is Going to Hell: The Dangerous Glitter of David Bowie, Iggy Pop, and Lou Reed (NY: Backbeat Books, 2009), page 241.

RADICAL ARCHIVES NOTE: Googling this group doesn’t turn anything up; I am assuming they are autonomists by their name, which might also be rendered incorrectly. If you know anything about them, please post it in the comments.

Update December 2013: History is Made at Night has a good post about this.

Nick Griffin: “National Anarchism: Trojan Horse for White Nationalism” (2005)

NATIONAL ANARCHISM: TROJAN HORSE FOR WHITE NATIONALISM

Nick Griffin

[2007 note] This article was written for Green Anarchy magazine under the name “Nick Griffin,” which is obviously a pseudonym. The “other” Nick Griffin is the head of the far-right British National Party, who by coincidence was brought to trial on charges of ‘incitement to racial hatred’ as the issue of GA hit the stands (ie well after the article was written). Apparently more than one unscrupulous North American radical used this opportunity to publicly accuse Green Anarchy of printing an article by the BNP’s Griffin – despite the fact that it was an obviously anti-fascist article! Therefore it should be specified that the “Nick Griffin” of this article is not the same as the BNP’s Nick Griffin; rather, it is a pseudonym of an anti-fascist monitor with a wry sense of humor. Go figure.

Recently a man who hung out in Eugene around green anarchists started promoting the idea of National Anarchism. A few years ago he had written a well-known essay from a green anarchist perspective, and he was a familiar face to many. [2007 note: “Chris” wrote the article “Against Mass Society,” which can be found on the cover of Green Anarchy #6 (Summer 2001) and is reprinted in Our Enemy Civilization: An Anthology Against Modernity.] His new belief system advocated that people of different ethnic backgrounds should live in different villages, and he later wrote a letter to Green Anarchy in an attempt to propagate his views about supposedly “natural” hierarchies. [GA Note: We were going to print his letter, but it is almost as long as this article, and we did not want to provide a forum for his ideas on “natural hierarchies” and “National Anarchism”. If people are interested in the letter, and who wrote it, you can contact us.] Fortunately his attempt to spread this racist, anti-Semitic and homophobic (so-called) “anarchism” were quickly unveiled. But what is National Anarchism? How did it arise, and what does it stand for, and why are these racist Right-wingers attempting to recruit anarchists?

Radical politics of all kinds took a new turn after the collapse of the Soviet Union, and this accelerated after the demonstrations against the WTO in Seattle in 1999. Decentralized and networked political forms started becoming the predominant types of resistance. In the last few years, we have seen anarchism replace marxism as the dominant radical movement in the U.S., but changes have also occurred elsewhere. Parts of the white power movement started advocating “leaderless resistance” as early as the 1980s; the Islamic jihadists Al Qaeda are a state-less, transnational entity; and even marxist groups like Left Turn have rejected the tight “vanguard party” model in favor of a more network-based structure.

But anarchism itself has also became a magnet for the racist radical right, and a tiny fringe group in the UK called the National Revolutionary Faction has re-christened itself as National Anarchists. They are attempting to use anarchist symbolism and rhetoric to recruit both “White Nationalists” (WN, a catch-all term for the various kinds of white racists) as well as anarchists – especially green anarchists – to their strange belief system. They advocate a decentralized economic and political system which features ethnically-pure villages which are defined by racial separatism, anti-semitism and homophobia.

Most National Anarchists (NA) tend to be long-time participants in the Nazi or other racist movements (ie Klan, Christian Identity) who are looking for a new “hook” to use to break-out of the ghettoized White Nationalist scene. Many are former skinheads who retain their interests in racist Oi!, metal and goth bands, European football (soccer), and sci-fi. They also tend to be interested in occult or pagan religions, although the proprietor of the sole NA-affiliated website in the U.S. is a Christian. Sometimes they are interested in the ecology movement or animal rights, although this seems mostly to be lip service to attract anarchists to their ideas. Their real interests are clearly racism against non-white people and a hatred of Jews.

Unfortunately, their bait has seemed to hook a few from the anarchist scene, mostly mystical anarchists, individualists, and green anarchists – including the aforementioned Eugene hanger-on. There has always been a small Left-Right crossover point, especially where the politics involve a mixture of anti-capitalism, mysticism, environmentalism and questions of technology. (Although skewed in its conclusions, Ecofascism: Lessons from the German Experience by Janet Biehl and Peter Staudenmaier offers a detailed historical account of this, and many of the racists have read this and taken it as a guide.) Continue reading ‘Nick Griffin: “National Anarchism: Trojan Horse for White Nationalism” (2005)’

John & Paula Zerzan vs The Fifth Estate Staff: “FE Criticized and Our Response” (1978)

FE CRITICIZED AND OUR RESPONSE

To the Fifth Estate:

The letter from “Kirk Johnson” (March 2, 1978 FE), which equated Fifth Estate’s practice of running a profit-making book service (to support itself) with Search & Destroy’s record company ads (for the same end), makes public a discussion that has been private for too long.

That the opening of this critique—which really began with FE’s important remarks on Black Rose Books’ capitalist procedures—finally arrives via a spokesman for Search and Destroy is a sad irony. S&D is a completely uncritical promo rag which hopes to be accepted by what it sees as the latest fad, punk rock. Done anonymously, it (characteristically) helped organize a recent two-day benefit for the UMW strike, this piece of liberal/leftist reformism easily coexisting next to censored interviews and ads for rip-off night clubs.

But what of FE, to us the only critical publication in North America? Ammunition Books fulfills exactly the same function as do S&D’s ads. In neither case do the publishers wish to give their own money to their projects. Likewise, as with S&D’s complete public anonymity, FE’s articles are presented almost entirely unsigned or accompanied by clever pseudonyms. Is anyone’s life really involved, or are both enterprises just separate hobbies, just words on a page?

With Search & Destroy, despite a tiny sprinkling of “radical” verbiage—a highly insulting pretension—one would not really expect any quality, any radical break, in the first place. With Fifth Estate one expects a great deal more; why, then, the chilling similarities?

It seems that one factor is FE’s enthusiasm for the ideas of Camatte. C., of course, sees the world as completely domesticated, where virtually no activity can do other than reinforce the totality of capital, where the only thing revolutionary is the revolution itself. Behind this outlook, one’s answer to criticism is that since no project can be revolutionary, why be too concerned with its details?

It is precisely this kind of cynicism (whether or not C. is its sole inspiration) which leads to such deathly separations between FE’s radical language and the daily lives of its creators. Camatte writes of the totality of the revolution required to break the hold of capital—and is a tidy little professor, living as any other bourgeois. It’s arguable that some of the FE “staff” hold jobs which provide the most active forms of service to the commodity and the state.

Continue reading ‘John & Paula Zerzan vs The Fifth Estate Staff: “FE Criticized and Our Response” (1978)’

Will Shatter to ‘Fifth Estate’ on punk (1978)

UNDERSTANDING PUNK

F.E.:

Lately there have been a lot of articles and letters about punk rock and the people involved, in all sorts of papers. The vast majority of what’s been written is from people who are outside looking in, trying to figure out what the fuck it all means.

Give up. It’s pointless. Unless you make the commitment to be involved you’ll get nowhere – real fast. We don’t feel we have to justify ourselfs to anyone elses standards. We get called reactionary by commies, socialists, liberals and other idiot lefties. Fascists, conservatives, ministers and various straight people (real sheep) call us anarchists, hoodlums and decadents. All things to all people. Come check us out. But don’t judge us. We’ll just laugh or throw something.

The point is we are trying to do what we want on our own terms as much as possible. I want to fuck things up. That [[3]] doesn’t mean every punk band agrees. Some want to sell records (there are always bad apples).

When we play I like to see chairs and tables broken; I like to see fights and lunacy and objects thrown around. That doesn’t mean that every other band is after that kind of release.

We are not part of a brand new mold. Every time you or any other paper approaches us as a new movement or a coherent unit of sameness, the fight to resist is that much harder.

Fuck this and fuck that: I want some fun – NOW!

The End is Near (I wish)
Will Shatter
Negative Trend
San Francisco

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letter to Fifth Estate #291 (vol 13, #3; April 30, 1978) pp 2-3.



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