Thermopylae: the Second Day

So to continue on in a military vein for another entry, I ask you to consider the Battle of Thermopylae, not its import or impact, not the proto-fascist interpretations in recent graphic novels and films (“300”), but the real deal. There on the ground, shoulder to shoulder with 10,000 other Greeks staring off at the hordes assembled by Xerxes for the sole purpose of enslaving you, raping the wife and kids, and carrying off the livestock. I am always drawn to the second day of the three day battle, the 24 hours sandwiched between the first day and the hope of success and possibly relief from other Greeks, and the grim destiny of the third day when the progress of the elite Persian Immortals down from behind the battle front means that death is only hours away. What of the second day? Where a combatant has lost hope for both victory and defeat, when the only thing that occupies the mind is the battle itself. Who is fighting, the vast historical and spiritual forces behind the conflict, the political ramifications pale into nothingness on this day. The Mediterranean sun booms out overhead, the armor and greaves become leaden and burn in the heat, sweat pours down the neck and a wound scabs with dust as the battle roars on and the dead of Persia pile high. Is the only real thing in those hours a sip of water, perhaps some bread and cheese, the taste of hot wine? What happens when the fighting and dying become a meaningless never ending round of toil, when spear and sword have been broken and discarded and one is left with nothing but the will with which to continue to do battle? And the day ends in the twilight reflected off the sea, the sounds of gulls and the cries of the wounded and dying echo in the ears, the helmet is laid aside and sleep and weariness overtake mind and body. Is there a grim satisfaction that one is still alive, still able to fight one’s foe and to stop this madness from invading the homes of those one loves. Or is there a final thought — I did all I could to protect my freedom today, tomorrow, tomorrow I will fight harder.

The Boudicea Dilemma

I have an interest in revolutionary military science, and as such tend to look for resonance with all manner of movements aimed at destroying authority regardless of their place in time. One of the overwhelming examples of this is the image of Boudicea,  queen of the Iceni Tribe (Central coast of Britain, circa 60 CE). The story goes that her husband had decreed upon his death that the kingdom of the Iceni was to be shared equally between the Roman interlopers and his surviving wife–Boudicea, and their daughters. At this time wealthy Romans had been making outrageously large loans to the Iceni that upon the king’s death were meant to be immediately repaid. Thus for those of you who think the US Treasury, Wall Street and IMF Criminal Triad is something new and have been pulling monetarists tricks on colonial powers to drive them into poverty and servitude is a modern invention, think again. Evil men have used greed and steel since the beginning of history to destroy societies with purer hearts and minds. The local Roman commander summons Boudicea and her daughters to his presence where the mother is flogged and the daughters brutally raped by Roman legionnaires. Once released Boudicea begins enrolling other tribes like the Trinovantes, among others to destroy the Roman occupation of Britain, and brother does she mean it. The first city to fall is Camulodunum (modern Colchester), and she leaves very little living, in the process destroying the temple to the Emperor Claudius in flaming ruins. She also destroys the IX Hispana Legion sent to relieve the city. Next stop is Londinium, (London) and here one truly sees into the heart of woman as nemesis. Suetonius, the Roman Governor, realizes that he has far too few troops to defend the burgeoning city, and leaves it undefended. Boudicea with her allegiant tribes murders virtually all the inhabitants ( all told some 70,000 were put to the sword) and then systematically destroys the city, block by block. There is a coring sample in the British Museum that shows a full several inches of blackened, bloodied soil that attests to Boudicea’s anger and her rather thorough plans for London’s very first Urban Renovation. Unfortunately the time spent destroying Londinium also allows the Romans to regroup and attack.

Hunting Seasons

The story by Dan Todd is presented here in the original verse format. The book is currently in print in a prose edition published under the pseudonym Lang Gore.

. . . I went unto the angel, and said unto him, Give me the little book. And he said unto me, Take it, and eat it up; and it shall make thy belly bitter, but it shall be in thy mouth sweet as honey. And I took the little book out of the angel’s hand, and ate it up; and it was in my mouth sweet as honey; and as soon as I had eaten it, my belly was bitter.

-Revelation 10:9, 1

Chapter 1

     Bay grimaced. “Fucking bladder is about to burst;

I know there is no way in fucking hell

That I will make it off this goddamn bus

Before I piss my fucking pants;

I will piss my fucking pants before we stop,

I know I will, I know I will,”

He malevolently muttered beneath his breath.

The LA Anarchist Book Fair; Quick! The Old World is Right Behind You!

So I attended the LA Anarchist Book Fair this last weekend (September 8, 2012), and had a pretty good time. The Usual Suspects were there selling books that spanned the range from working class anarchism all the way to the post-left anarchist experiment. A nice mix of folks, old and young, Latino, white and black swirling past the tables picking up this pamphlet and that book. I had a table given to me by the organizers that had belonged to a group who had canceled last minute–if they read this Thanks! You folks did an awesome job. So I sold a few Modern Slavery’s and enjoyed the sun; topped it off with a vegan tamale and left at about four. One striking thing in all this is the level of energy that happens at these events, and the sneaking suspicion that given the chance these folks could, in a heartbeat, make this great sprawling city into a garden, a refuge, a place where poverty had become impossible, and where the measure of life is happiness, and not suffering. I also, for the younger folks, felt a deep sentiment of appreciation and gratitude, when in the late 70s and 80s the world was turning into a global insane asylum a handful of holdouts were stubborn enough to keep a thin black flame burning–and hoping for better days. I count myself as one of those last men and women on the barricade. And better days are here, at last, let’s not waste them. The police fear us–they tell as much in their press releases, the FBI is sure that we’re all putting acid in eggs (LSD?) let’s make that shock and awe stick. Better Dead than Fed! Every night this week a cop should wake up in a cold sweat and feel his sphincter tingle at the thought of a line of anarchists facing him down, or even worse because he’s thinking of joining us because he knows he’s on the wrong side. We have an entire world to take back from our enemies. Lets do it quickly–before they have a chance to try and smother the flame yet again.

Health is in You! Redux!

So the news is mixed, three of the remaining Cleveland 4 have plead guilty to the charges, the last man is being evaluated for “competency” which is the right to say 2 + 2 = 5, in this twisted society. All four will be sentenced together and it seems the lawyers have said that with a plea in they should get no more that 5 years each, as opposed to over 30 if found guilty. I don’t trust that the judge will go along with the deal and this may all end in long and terrible sentences being handed down–especially with the FBI wanting to look mean–not like J Edgar in a dress–we can only hope. Personally I prefer J Edgar in the dress. More later.

Health is in You!

The title of this entry refers to Galleani’s pamphlet on revolutionary military science, available in Italian from the magazine Cronica Sovversiva (Subversive Chronicle) published during the first two decades in the US. The subject of this entry is a quick discussion of the Cleveland 4 (used to be 5 but one of the guys plead guilty and will probably turn on his friends and via slanderous rhetoric sink them into the federal pen for several decades). Anyway these folks were identified and set up by the FBI (Fucking Bureau of Idiots), allegedly sold “explosives” and allegedly tried to blow up a bridge near Cleveland, evidently well traveled by the well-heeled. They face the court on 9/17 with a fast-tracked trial designed to ensure that justice, as usual, is abandoned far from the precinct of the court. Anyway to help the 4 out here are two links to websites: and I am adding a few bucks and encourage you folks out there to do likewise. These Social War prisoners deserve freedom, and for those of you unconvinced–take a look at the website and ask yourself–How would it be to face decades of imprisonment at the age these young men appear to be? Or at any age for that matter? No one should be in jail ever, for anything. And to our FBI foes, remember We Never Forget–and your time is coming.


The Archimedean Point? Self-Activity

Where is the ultimate point to which each of us can apply the most leverage for changing our world?

This question has already been answered in a thousand ways in just about every religion, philosophy and ideology produced in history. However, all of these answers are useful primarily to priests, dogmatists and ideologues rather than to those of us who refuse ideologies. They each require first and foremost that we adopt a necessary ideological standpoint, including its pre-given attitudes and values. And that we simultaneously renounce our own actual standpoint – our attitudes and values, our own selves – as the price of ideological submission.

The physical point from which Archimedes of Syracuse claimed that he would be able to move the Earth off its foundation is obviously mythical. As is the ideal “Archimedean point” from which an observer could be said to obtain a purely objective and therefore complete view of an object. The first is an imaginary point of leverage (application of force using a lever to magnify its effectiveness), the second an imaginary point of view (a perspectiveless perspective like that attributed to an omniscient god). Neither is of much use to those of us who want to actually change our world in our own liberating, non-ideological ways.

A Plea for Captain John Brown

Based on a speech given in Concord on October 30, 1859

-Henry David Thoreau

I trust that you will pardon me for being here. I do not wish to force my thoughts upon you, but I feel forced myself. Little as I know of Captain Brown, I would fain do my part to correct the tone and the statements of the newspapers, and of my countrymen generally, respecting his character and actions. It costs us nothing to be just. We can at least express our sympathy with, and admiration of, him and his companions, and that is what I now propose to do.

First, as to his history. I will endeavor to omit, as much as possible, what you have already read. I need not describe his person to you, for probably most of you have seen and will not soon forget him. I am told that his grandfather, John Brown, was an officer in the Revolution; that he himself was born in Connecticut about the beginning of this century, but early went with his father to Ohio. I heard him say that his father was a contractor who furnished beef to the army there, in the War of 1812; that he accompanied him to the camp, and assisted him in that employment, seeing a good deal of military life – more, perhaps, than if he had been a soldier; for he was often present at the councils of the officers. Especially, he learned by experience how armies are supplied and maintained in the field – a work which, he observed, requires at least as much experience and skill as to lead them in battle. He said that few persons had any conception of the cost, even the pecuniary cost, of firing a single bullet in war. He saw enough, at any rate, to disgust him with a military life; indeed, to excite in him a great abhorrence of it; so much so, that though he was tempted by the offer of some petty office in the army, when he was about eighteen, he not only declined that, but he also refused to train when warned, and was fined for it. He then resolved that he would never have anything to do with any war, unless it were a war for liberty.

When the troubles in Kansas began, he sent several of his sons thither to strengthen the party of the Free State men, fitting them out with such weapons as he had; telling them that if the troubles should increase, and there should be need of him, he would follow, to assist them with his hand and counsel. This, as you all know, he soon after did; and it was through his agency, far more than any other’s, that Kansas was made free.

MS #1 Contributors

Émile Armand (1872-1963) was the pseudonym of Ernest-Lucien Juin Armand, an influential French anarchist and individualist who wrote extensively for L’Ère nouvelle, L’Anarchie, L’EnDehors and L’Unique. He was imprisoned many times for his anarchist, pacifist and anti-militarist activities. And he was an outspoken advocate of free love, publishing Révolution sexuelle et la camaraderie amoureuse in 1934.

Bob Black is the author of many interventions, as well as a number of books, including The Abolition of Work and other Essays, Anarchy after Leftism, Beneath the Underground, and Friendly Fire, along with the yet-to-be published Nightmares of Reason. He has contributed to many periodicals, including Anarchy: a Journal of Desire Armed.

Voltairine de Cleyre (1866-1912) was one the most well-known of North American atheists and anarchists in her day, turning to anarchism after the hanging of the Haymarket radicals. She was a prominent spokesperson for “anarchism without adjectives,” including both individualist, mutualist and communist themes in her speeches and writings.

Karen Goaman has a PhD in Anthropology, University College London. She has written numerous articles in anthologies (2009, Jun & Wahl eds., New Perspectives on Anarchism; 2008, Roca Martínez ed., Anarquismo y Antropología; 2004, Purkis & Bowen eds., Changing Anarchism; 1997, Purkis & Bowen, Towards a 21st Century Anarchism) and in Anarchist Studies. She has worked as a Senior Editor in book publishing and as a part-time Lecturer in Communications at London Metropolitan University.

Modern Slavery Notes: New Journal on the Planet!

Welcome to Modern Slavery #1. The first full issue of this journal has now taken half a decade to come to fruition. It’s been a struggle on many fronts to turn the original impulse and idea into reality. But from here on there’s no turning back and we refuse to be stopped!

The Modern Slavery project is a direct successor to previous C.A.L. Press projects. These include the magazine Anarchy: A Journal of Desire Armed (published since 1980, and now produced by an independent collective since 2006), the North American Anarchist Review (published for a few years in the ’80s), the Alternative Press Review (another magazine, published from 1993 well into the 2000s, with a web site that’s still occasionally updated at both &, and the C.A.L. Press book publishing project (with titles including Future Primitive, Anarchy after Leftism and Elements of Refusal).

[pullquote]The original idea for this new journal was to provide a space within the libertarian and anarchist milieu for the publication of some of the really important, critical and creative material that has too often fallen into the cracks between what will fit into the inadequate spaces available in libertarian periodicals and what has been publishable in book form.[/pullquote]

The original idea for this new journal was to provide a space within the libertarian and anarchist milieu for the publication of some of the really important, critical and creative material that has too often fallen into the cracks between what will fit into the inadequate spaces available in libertarian periodicals and what has been publishable in book form. Most of us probably already know that there are far too few libertarian and anarchist periodicals in the first place. Of those that exist most are infrequent, small and undependable. And of those that do publish more than one issue, many have very narrow editorial conceptions, excluding even the possibility of presenting much new, original and creative material – which also tends to result in restricting their availability to tiny circulations of the like-minded. But even for those that are open to publishing the most important and exciting material, the ability to present more than short essays, reviews and other material is lacking due to limitations of format, space and frequency of publication. To make this sad situation even worse, libertarian book publishing is largely in the same situation. A relatively small number of very small publishers exist (like C.A.L. Press itself, with only three titles in print) that usually cater to very narrow editorial niches, along with even fewer larger libertarian publishers. The smaller publishers have perennial problems with funding and distribution, while the larger publishers tend to function as ideological gate-keepers preventing more creative and challenging material from appearing in editions that might get more circulation, in favor of mediocre material that often promotes popular ideologies – often whether or not they have any significant libertarian content, coherence or value. You know this stuff. It’s often, though luckily not always, poorly written, poorly edited and poorly produced. It includes boat-loads of uncreative, uncritical material pushing a full spectrum of left and right-wing ideologies, like social democracy, liberal feminism, identity politics and postmodernism. At best it’s provided with thin libertarian coatings. At worst with heavy-handed ideological pronouncements that can be mistaken as (or occasionally actually are) Leninist, Trotskyist, Stalinist or Maoist in inspiration.