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Email: trenchesfullofpoets (nospam) riseup.net
03 Aug 2009
The BAAM Newsletter is the monthly publication of the Boston Anti-Authoritarian Movement, a general union of Boston anarchists. Our publication aims to spread anti-authoritarian ideas and practices, and to report on the social struggles of workers, tenants, students, radicals, and others resisting the repression of the state, bosses, landlords and banks.
Inside this issue:
-Garment Workers Revolt: Bangladesh on Fire, Pg 2, by Adrienne
-Papercut in Peril, Pg 3, by Maggie Bond
-Crotch Crisis, Pg 4
-Obama: War is Peace, Pg 5, by Sublett
-The Greek Anarchists, Pg 7, by Jake Carman
-Sacco and Vanzetti: 82-year-old Skeletons in a 19-year-old’s Closet, Pg 8, by Dave
-Worker-run TJ’s Vegan Pizza Closes, Pg 9, by Matt Carroll
BAAM #24, August 2009,
In striving to make our publication sustainable, we are offering yearly
subscriptions, sent to your door for the sliding scale cost of $12-15. We also provide free email subscriptions. Email Jake at Trenchesfullofpoets (at) riseup.net for more information, or send checks or well-concealed cash to:
BAAM c/o Boston ABC, PO Box 230182, Boston, MA, 02123
Adrienne, Clara, Marie,
Jake Carman, Marie, Molly
We accept submissions for our
paper! Email articles, photos, events, letters, etc to Jake at
Trenchesfullofpoets (at) riseup.net
Altering the Landscape of a Dying Society
A people have made a revolution when they have captured their landscape and resources, and put all in common. When residents take back their neighborhoods and demand true democracy, refusing to bow to any outside authority; when workers occupy and operate their factories and shops and produce for the good of all instead of the profit of a few; and when farmers cultivate the land with the aims of feeding the community’s mouths and meeting the needs of all, then they have turned the system of power on its head. When all is shared, everyone is free from hunger and exploitation.
When revolutionary people unleash their true creative powers on the physical landscape of society, they remake their world to be suitable for the sustenance of a society that is both free and equal. Our world today, though built by our hands, was planned by the rich masters. Thus, the geography itself perpetuates competition and hierarchy and prevents cooperation and communal life. Insurrection is the destructive phase of revolution. It is the leveling of the old world order to make room for the new: the creation of a blank canvas on which free people inscribe their dreams. In the following pages, in this first issue of our 3rd year of publishing, BAAM Newsletter readers will find glimpses of the future, for the leveling is upon us, and the days of true freedom and equality for all human kind are just beyond the horizon. •
The garment industry in Bangladesh employs more than 2 million workers, 80-90% of whom are women. Bringing the impoverished nation $11 billion annually, the garment industry is Bangladesh’s largest income earner. If you go into your closet and start reading tags, you’ll probably find more than a few items made in Bangladesh.
It should surprise no one that the destitute women who make our cheap clothes labor in incredibly unsafe buildings for as many as eighty hours a week, suffer intolerable working conditions, including verbal, physical, and sexual abuse, while earning little to nothing. This naturally gives bosses a competitive edge in the world market. Rising food prices and declining pay leave all but the strongest in a state of permanent malnutrition, which has manifested itself in delirium and hallucinations on the job, as workers report being attacked by ghosts and witches. ‘We can’t eat, we can’t sleep, we can’t live,’ fumed Bengali garment worker Fatema Begum. ‘Every day, every hour we are slaving away in the factories for no pay. Why should we?’ Why, indeed? Begum spake these words while lining the street with tens of thousands of her coworkers and neighbors in and around Dhaka in late June.
The immediate issue that triggered demonstrations was pay cuts amidst existing non-payment of wages at a sweater factory in Savar, outside Dhaka. 1,800 workers went on strike, forcing management to agree to their demands. When strikers returned to work, however, three workers were turned away, charged with ‘leading’ the strike, whereupon the rest of the workforce left the factory again, demanding reinstatement of the three. Arguments heated up, bosses were beaten up and police entered the scene, firing rounds of live ammunition, killing two demonstrators. That’s when the textiles hit the fan. Tens of thousands of workers poured out of their factories in solidarity and filled the streets, joined by unemployed workers and slum dwellers. Dodging rubber bullets and breathing teargas, demonstrators fought back, chucking bricks and stones at their attackers, blocking highways, burning tires, and doing serious damage to the commercial districts.
The U.S. may have seen the last of factory fires like Triangle in 1911 [see BAAM issue #19], but eerily similar fires rage on in Bangladesh as a fairly common occurrence, where scores of women, trapped behind locked exit doors, have to decide whether to slowly suffocate or to plunge to their deaths on the streets below with their hair in flames. In 2005, a factory collapsed on its workers, killing 64 and injuring over 70. In late June, however, Bengali workers decided to do their own burning. Tens of thousands stormed the factories and machines that caused them so much misery and set them ablaze. Busses and trucks were similarly doused with gasoline and torched. Like the insurrectionary Greek populace, they learned that the black smoke from flames would clear the white smoke of police chemical weapons.
For three days, over 50,000 enraged workers took control of the streets. As many as 50 factories, including some of the largest in the country, smoldered while the strategically minded workers blocked highways to keep firefighters from reaching the sites for hours; sweatshops and transport vehicles were reduced to ashes. Crowds also broke into the camp of the Ansars [essentially a right-wing paramilitary aiding police] and burned that, too. Police injured over 150 workers, 30 quite seriously. 20 cops were reported injured. It would seem that the deployment of 2,000 police ended the insurrection. I could only find confirmation of 12 arrests, though more were promised.
The latest unrest coincided with the release of a government report on the industry that employs nearly 40% of Bangladesh’s workforce. The report indicated that one in seven factories do not regularly pay their workers and that one in three were in flagrant violation of already severely inadequate labor laws. As godawful as these official numbers are, workers on the ground say that the reality is exponentially worse, pointing to the prevalence of workplaces faking compliance when government inspectors come by.
The dominant culture in the U.S., which is a white supremacist, Euro-centric culture, is pleased to think of Bangladesh as a place with ‘too much water and too many people,’ deigning to think of the impoverished country only when it is struck by another flood [incidentally in regions where no one lived prior to English imperialists forcing them there in the 1940s]. The people of Bangladesh, however, have long cultivated a culture of resistance and have a rich history of fighting back. This latest round of unrest is not at all unusual, though it is the most remarkable since 2006 when workers from a number of factories in and around Dhaka went on wildcat strikes, burning 16 factories down to the ground while looting and ransacking hundreds of others. Cops killed three workers, injured hundreds, and jailed thousands. Ultimately, the military was called in to quell the insurrection.
Likeliness to rebel among the poorest wage slaves in the world means that since at least September 2008, some bosses have maintained a permanent presence of military and paramilitary forces inside factories to keep their employees in line and to extract from them unpaid overtime. The owner of one decimated factory filed suit against 1,600 workers, for ascertaining the identity of whom the police promised to conduct raids. In early July, after the uprising, Dhaka’s police commissioner was calling for ‘welfare committees’ to improve relations and communication between employers and employed and a parliamentary committee was calling for an industrial intelligence unit to prevent further disruptions of production. In Ashulia, outside Dhaka where much of the unrest was centered, a 1,580-strong crime management cell will become a permanent presence. The prime minister also told parliament that she has taken steps to form an industrial police force, and to increase the number of women police officers.
In mid-July, the Daily Star, an English-language Bangladeshi daily newspaper, reported that worldwide, apparel buyers continue to shift their favor toward Bangladesh’s readymade garment industry, due to the incredibly low costs of production-- which low costs, as we’ve discussed above, come at the cost of the lives, health, wellbeing and sanity of the workers involved. •
Local Zine Library in Danger
By Maggie Bond
A zine is, roughly speaking, an underground publication that is independently produced and self-published, typically photocopied and stapled into a booklet. Zines are not made for profit, but in order to share stories, passions and knowledge, and have been a presence in movements such as punk and riot grrl who favor a Do It Yourself (DIY) attitude and the trading of information on an underground level. I’ve always been in love with the solidity of zines. The knowledge that each one has passed from the hand of the individual who painstakingly crafted it and got it into the world to you makes the message that much more human, personal, powerful and intense.
Our ever-growing collection is not the only aspect of the library. The library also regularly hosts events like workshops and concerts that benefit various local causes, as well as helping to organize the Boston Zine Fair. Papercut serves the whole Boston community. For the nearly five years we have been operating, a non-hierarchical collective of volunteers has staffed the Papercut Zine Library, and all decisions are made by consensus.
The Papercut Zine Library is empowering both to zine readers and writers alike and plays an important role in the accessibility and preservation of underground media. Papercut Zine Library offers the public a wealth of information they cannot find and voices they cannot hear elsewhere. More popular publications like Profane Existence and an original 1978 copy of Punk coexist on our shelves with zines that serve a more circumscribed audience, like Fat Girl: A Zine for Fat Dykes and the Women Who Want Them. Zines on DIY bike care share space with publications about being a feminist and a Mormon, or ending a pregnancy with natural herbs. There is information, support and familiarity that cannot be found anywhere else. There is a zine for everyone because anyone can create one. The Papercut Zine Library also serves as an art gallery of sorts for zinesters, and is empowering in much the same way the medium itself is. Though zines are not made for wealth or glory, it is gratifying for their authors to know their zines have the opportunity to continually be read and have people connect with them and that their creation is good enough to be displayed.
As of August 15th, Papercut will no longer be in our present location cozied up in the corner of the Democracy Center. Located in Harvard Square in Cambridge, the Democracy Center is a community space and houses organizations like Art Without Borders and Boston Mobilization. Rooms on the first floor are also utilized by outside groups for various events including classes, activist meetings and even a CSA (community-supported agriculture) pick-up during the growing season. Though slightly cognizant of the Democracy Center’s recent financial troubles throughout the past year, it came as a shock to hear in March how precarious the house’s position was as a community space. As the entire house became in danger of losing its space, the Democracy Center management began rethinking the entire house and its philosophy and whether Papercut was part of that vision. The Democracy Center is now pursuing that vision, as we search for a space that shares our own. Though Papercut has some promising leads, we have not yet settled on a location to house our library. As it stands, our lending library will be temporarily not functioning as of August 15th, but we will continue to host shows at the Democracy Center. This move will be a new chapter in Papercut’s hopefully very long life.
You can help this amazing resource stay afloat! We need donations, suggestions for spaces, benefit shows, and even some muscle for helping us move on August 15th. You can email us at papercut (at) riseup.net. Our meetings are listed in the BAAM calendar in each issue and are 7:30 every Monday evening. If you would like information on volunteering, how to become a librarian, or just learn more we’d love to see you there. •
Crotch Crisis: A Tale of Hospital Horror
Women in this society face relentless threats to their physical autonomy. While attending social functions, during dates, even walking down the street we face obstacles to retaining sovereignty over our own skin. Therefore, a woman’s comfort and jurisdiction should be nothing less than sacred in the realm of healthcare. Unfortunately, this was not the case during my last Pap smear.
On Monday, June 29, I visited a major hospital in Boston, which, incidentally, prides itself on a focus in women’s health. The facility at least had the good sense to ask if I preferred a female gynecologist. Having answered “yes,” I naturally expected a woman to enter the exam room where I waited, naked and nonchalant, for the doctor to arrive.
Much to my alarm, a male medical student burst into the room. He introduced himself as “Tom” and immediately apologized for the shock, which lingered in my stricken expression. I recovered enough to answer some standard health questions, certain the arrival of the doctor would dispel his unwelcome presence. Finally, he left…only to return moments later with the female gynecologist I had expected. I was incredulous when she asked if the student could perform my Pap smear. With tremulous anxiety, I repeated my preference for a female physician. Despite a feeble attempt to express my discomfort, the doctor did not ask the intrusive male to leave. Instead, she remarked on how “unfortunate it was for male residents” that so many female patients were unwilling to provide their bodies as practice dummies. Apparently, the scorn a woman might receive from denying men sexual access to her body is just as applicable in the case of medical access.
Thus, my private exam became a peep show. I exited the room in tears, and proceeded to issue complaints to both the hospital’s Patient Family Relations and Ethics Committee. Apparently, there is no policy to protect women who would prefer their gynecological exams to be a strictly female affair. Not only is this insensitive to patients, who may have suffered rape or other traumatic experiences, but it transforms an already uncomfortable exam into a psychological nightmare. Furthermore, it wrests away a women’s authority in regards to her body. Defending the careless practice, the facility maintains that, as a teaching hospital, it is entitled to send swarms of students and residents wherever it pleases. Sadly, such irresponsible conduct deprives these aspiring medical professionals of their most important lesson - courtesy, respect, and sensitivity when it comes to the needs of the patient. More gravely, this local health center, with malign ignorance, is violating the most fundamental rights of its female patrons.
Don’t Blame Me, I Voted for McCain...
he recent announcement by the government of Iraq that they were putting the drilling rights for six major oilfields up for auction was greeted with derision in many quarters. Sarcastic forum posts entitled ‘Mission Accomplished’ sprang up on many progressive websites on the assumption that the oil industry had finally gotten what they came for. But a closer look at the details reveals a very different picture.
Patrick Cockburn, writing for Counterpunch, points out that the final contract gives the oil companies only two dollars per barrel, and that is only for oil produced above the minimum level. This is hardly what the industry had in mind when the occupation began. Greg Palast’s 2006 book, Armed Madhouse, exposed a bitter internecine dispute between then-President Bush’s neocon advisers and lobbyists for Big Oil. The neocons, clinging to their free market ideology, proposed to split Iraq’s oil fields into small plots and auction them off to the highest bidder. The idea was to drive down the price of oil, break OPEC, and curtail the independence of large oil producers such as Saudi Arabia and Russia. The oil barons were not amused. If the price of oil plummeted their profits would go down with it. They used all their political influence to bury the neocons’ plan and instead institute a state-owned oil monopoly that could be easily controlled by US interests.
Big Oil won that fight, but it didn’t help them in the long run. In early 2004, Shiite Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani called for massive protests from his followers to demand free elections. The US, already pushed to the limit by the Sunni armed resistance, had little choice but to comply. The result was an Iraqi government with just enough popular support to claim legitimacy. The occupation was strengthened militarily by its alliance with the new government, but weakened politically because Iraqi politicians could not afford to be seen as US puppets. Thus Bush’s “oil law,” a proposed piece of legislation designed to secure the bulk of Iraq’s oil revenue for Western corporations, never had a chance. Bush proclaimed the oil law to be a key goal of the occupation and put enormous public pressure on the Iraqi government to pass it. They refused, and the Obama administration has scarcely mentioned the matter. The oil industry is therefore now facing the exact situation they didn’t want: an enormous reservoir of easily accessible oil that they don’t control, even as their own reserves dwindle. As worldwide oil supplies shrink and become harder to extract, Iraq will increasingly be in a position to dictate oil prices to the West while keeping most of the profits.
Under the circumstances, President Obama could have been forgiven - by geopolitical strategists, if not the Iraqi people - for declaring victory and coming home. But of course the ‘coming home’ part didn’t happen. Instead, Obama abandoned the oil law and left Exxon & co. to their fate in order to expand the occupation of Afghanistan, a country with no oil at all. Why? Well, just because the oil industry got screwed is no reason for the defense industry to get screwed, too. They are spending a small fraction of their gargantuan profits on buying politicians precisely to ensure that war, any war, continues for as long as possible. Winning and losing, national advantage, and, of course, basic morality, mean nothing to the likes of Lockheed and General Dynamics as long as the money keeps rolling in.
The above maneuver demonstrates the value of the Democratic Party to the ruling class. After eight years of vociferously tying their fortunes to success in Iraq, no Republican administration could have gotten away with suddenly proclaiming Afghanistan to be the ‘good war.’ If the Republicans had managed to steal their third consecutive election, a McCain/Palin administration, helplessly entangled in Bush’s coattails, would by now be watching their approval rating approach single digits. Obama, on the other hand, by virtue of his image as a reformer, can maintain support for the war with lies that would get a Republican president laughed out of Washington.
Short of electing McCain, the only thing that could potentially have prevented the end run into Afghanistan is a functioning anti-war movement. A sufficiently vocal and effective resistance effort might well have convinced Obama that the political cost of continuing the wars was too great. Sadly, that’s not the kind of antiwar movement we have. Instead we have a relative handful of liberals whose idea of war resistance is strolling in the sunshine carrying signs once or twice a year. The bulk of their effort is spent excluding, co-opting and otherwise neutralizing any person or group that advocates militant direct action. As a result the wars will probably only be ended by indigenous resistance in Iraq and Afghanistan combined with economic
collapse at home.
An excerpt from George Orwell’s Homage to Catalonia
This was in late December 1936, less than seven months ago as I write, and yet it is a period that has already receded into enormous distance. Later events have obliterated it much more completely than they have obliterated 1935, or 1905, for that matter. I had come to Spain with some notion of writing newspaper articles, but I had joined the militia almost immediately, because at that time and in that atmosphere it seemed the only conceivable thing to do. The Anarchists were still in virtual control of Catalonia and the revolution was still in full swing. To anyone who had been there since the beginning it probably seemed even in December or January that the revolutionary period was ending; but when one came straight from England the aspect of Barcelona was something startling and overwhelming. It was the first time that I had ever been in a town where the working class was in the saddle. Practically every building of any size had been seized by the workers and was draped with red flags or with the red and black flag of the Anarchists; every wall was scrawled with the hammer and sickle and with the initials of the revolutionary parties; almost every church had been gutted and its images burnt. Churches here and there were being systematically demolished by gangs of workmen. Every shop and cafe had an inscription saying that it had been collectivised; even the bootblacks had been collectivised and their boxes painted red and black. Waiters and shop-walkers looked you in the face and treated you as an equal. Servile and even ceremonial forms of speech had temporarily disappeared. Nobody said ‘Señor’ or ‘Don’ or even ‘Usted’; everyone called everyone else ‘Comrade’ or ‘Thou’, and said ‘Salud!’ instead of ‘Buenos dias.’ Tipping had been forbidden by law since the time of Primo de Rivera; almost my first experience was receiving a lecture from a hotel manager for trying to tip a lift-boy. There were no private motor-cars, they had all been commandeered, and the trams and taxis and much of the other transport were painted red and black. The revolutionary posters were everywhere, flaming from the walls in clean reds and blues that made the few remaining advertisements look like daubs of mud. Down the Ramblas, the wide central artery of the town where crowds of people streamed constantly to and fro, the loud-speakers were bellowing revolutionary songs all day and far into the night. And it was the aspect of the crowds that was the queerest thing of all. In outward appearance it was a town in which the wealthy classes had practically ceased to exist. Except for a small number of women and foreigners there were no ‘well-dressed’ people at all. Practically everyone wore rough working-class clothes, or blue overalls or some variant of militia uniform. All this was queer and moving. There was much in this that I did not understand, in some ways I did not even like it, but I recognized it immediately as a state of affairs worth fighting for. Also, I believed that things were as they appeared, that this was really a workers’ State and that the entire bourgeoisie had either fled, been killed or voluntarily come over to the workers’ side; I did not realise that great numbers of well-to-do bourgeois were simply lying low and disguising themselves as proletarians for the time being.
Together with all this there was something of the evil atmosphere of war. The town had a gaunt untidy look, roads and buildings were in poor repair, the streets at night were dimly lit for fear of air-raids, the shops were mostly shabby and half-empty. Meat was scarce and milk practically unobtainable, there was a shortage of coal, sugar and petrol, and a really serious shortage of bread. Even at this period the bread-queues were often hundreds of yards long. Yet so far as one could judge the people were contented and hopeful. There was no unemployment, and the price of living was still extremely low; you saw very few conspicuously destitute people, and no beggars except the gypsies. Above all, there was a belief in the revolution and the future, a feeling of having suddenly emerged into an era of equality and freedom. Human beings were trying to behave as human beings and not as cogs in the capitalist machine. In the barbers’ shops were Anarchist notices (the barbers were mostly Anarchists) solemnly explaining that barbers were no longer slaves. In the streets were coloured posters appealing to prostitutes to stop being prostitutes. To anyone from the hard-boiled, sneering civilization of the English-speaking races there was something rather pathetic in the literalness with which these idealistic Spaniards took the hackneyed phrase of revolution. At that time revolutionary ballads of the naivest kind, all about the proletarian brotherhood and the wickedness of Mussolini, were being sold on the streets for a few centimes each. I have often seen an illiterate militiaman buy one of these ballads, laboriously spell out the words, and then, when he had got the hang of it, begin singing it to an appropriate tune. •
A Glimpse from the Future: Greece’s Anarchist Struggle
By Jake Carman
reece, the birthplace of Western Democracy, a country of 11 million, stands on the threshold of civil war. On one side is the conservative government, representing the economic elite. They deploy police and soldiers, and even work with neo-Nazi groups like Golden Dawn to instill fear in the populace. On the other side is Greece’s “Lost Generation,” disenfranchised youth, victimized migrant workers, native workers, and a large and popular anti-authoritarian movement. Even conservative Greek newspapers call Greece the most corrupt nation in the world. For a country that has seen every type of government, from Communist to Fascist, little faith remains in traditional politics. “The system is corrupt. All parties are corrupt. Everyone knows that,” says Nicholas Stylopoulos, member of the Greek Anti-Authoritarian Movement (GAAM) and its widely-circulated paper, Babylonia.
On July 17th, Stylopoulos and Chris Spannos from ZMagazine spoke about the Greek anarchist movement, focusing on “Greece’s December,” the struggles of migrants, and the continued movement of anarchists.
December 6th marked the birth of a popular uprising, a result of police shooting of 15 year old Alexandros Grigoropoulos in Exarchia, a “Free Neighborhood...many times bigger than Boston’s Chinatown,” according to Spannos, where anarchists are virtually in control. In Exarchia, radical students and workers debate at cafés or create community spaces in squats, like the occupied former mansion of a government minister, anarchist banners flying down its sides. Though police don’t dare enter the neighborhood, Exarchia is known as one of Greece’s safest places, “even for walking alone at night,” Stylopoulos said. When police do enter Exarchia, as on December 6th, it’s to provoke the youth, who throw stones and molotovs.
An hour after Alexis was shot, 2,000 anarchists attacked police stations across Greece. Within a few days, the outrage spread far beyond anarchist circles, with students, workers, immigrants and others joining in on the streets in massive numbers. Tens of thousands participated in the sacking of buildings, especially banks, government buildings, corporate chains and police stations. Police, unable to contain the riots, ran out of tear gas after a couple of weeks and had to order a more potent product from Israel. “Thousands of bombs were made and thrown. It was not an isolated event...Every police department in Greece was attacked,” said Stylopoulos.
Next came the occupations. Residents entered city halls and called popular assemblies. CNN reported that “At least 800 high schools and 200 universities remain shut as thousands of youths have seized the grounds.” Union buildings and dozens of media stations were occupied temporarily by anarchist workers and other rebels broadcasting their messages. “The most amazing thing about the Greek December was that society actually supported the demonstrations,” said Stylopoulos, citing instances of parents and teachers defending students from police.
Though the uprising quieted down in the first weeks of 2009, anarchists continue to burn banks and other symbols of authority, even in the face of targeted repression and state-promoted fascist terrorism.
According to Stylopoulos, “Nazis...used to be insignificant, they can’t organize demos themselves...the police use them to look like angry citizens defending Greece from anarchists.” Spannos said the recent criminalization of immigrants and subsequent raids of their camps is also “revenge for December.”
Another major issue facing the movement is the divide of what the presenters called “Anti-Authoritarians” and “Black Bloc anarchists.” GAAM, which has about 100,000 members, making it Greece’s 4th largest political organization, is criticized by Black Bloc anarchists for being “soft,” paying rent, raising money and, according to Stylopoulos, “having a political vision.” GAAM, however, operates on just 3 principles: 1. No hierarchy, 2. No participation in elections, and 3. No Ideology, though they fly the traditional anarchist red and black flag. The two camps squabble, but defend each other from repression and fought together in December. However, Stylopoulos cites the lack of cohesive vision as the greatest obstacle for the movement: “If we had 200,000 people, we’d overthrow the government, but then what? That’s the problem...we don’t have a message. People on the street want a plan.”
Attempting to solve these issues, GAAM organized a festival in Exarchia at the end of May. Babylonia Festival lasted 5 days, with 3 music stages, workshops and dozens of speakers, including Boston’s Howard Zinn. Over 2,000 people participated each day, and Exarchia’s supportive restaurants and small businesses donated enough to feed everyone.
Greece’s anarchism didn’t just come out of nowhere. Anarchism gained momentum in Greece, like many places, in the late 1800s, but it wasn’t destroyed in the 20s, 30s and 40s as it was elsewhere. Greek anarchists played a pivotal role in resistance to Nazi occupation, blowing up bridges and sabotaging supply lines. In November of 1973, anarchist students at the Athens Polytechnic led a student uprising against the military junta, which, though crushed by tanks and soldiers three days later, took down the government and brought back parliamentary democracy. In 1985, a 15 year old anarchist was shot in Exarchia, a police crime similar to Alexis’ murder. However, anarchists then were largely concerned with ongoing gun battles with police officers and lacked public support. Anarchist-led protests died after two weeks. Since then, persistent organizing, action and social-political relevance have brought widespread respect and popularity to anarchist ideas; ideas that, if Greece’s anarchists have their way, will come to fruition on Greek soil.
Sacco and Vanzetti: 82-year-old
Skeletons in a 19-year-old’s Closet
ighty-two years ago, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts executed two Italian immigrants. The arrest, trial and conviction of the co-defendants were permeated with bias against immigrants, against Italians, against workers, and against radicals. The judge sentenced them both to death for a payroll robbery and murder that few actually believe they committed. Does this story sound familiar? Could it be something the Globe ran a few weeks ago? Such was the trial of Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti, two Italian Anarchists executed for the murder of a paymaster and guard in South Braintree, MA.
It was called the most important trial of the 20th century, the greatest miscarriage of justice in American history, the case that will not die, and the themes of the trial still resonate today. Every aspect of the judicial process, from the arrest to the execution, was driven by prejudice, and the bureaucrats responsible for the condemnation of Sacco and Vanzetti were ruthless. Judge Webster Thayer was a staunchly conservative ‘hanging judge’ whose rulings came down like an iron fist. After denying five motions for a new trial in 1924, Thayer was heard to remark to a colleague, “Did you see what I did with those anarchistic bastards the other day? I guess that will hold them for a while!” Thayer sentenced the men to death based on fabricated evidence, the coercion of witnesses, and the dismissal of working class Italian witnesses, all of which were antics orchestrated by the other man culpable for the deaths of Sacco and Vanzetti.
The District Attorney of Norfolk and Plymouth Counties was Frederick Katzmann, who stirred up biases and hatred against immigrant radicals and called upon the jurors’ patriotism, calling for them to stand together against the threat that radicals and immigrants posed to the American way of life. Frederick Katzmann was an ill-hearted villain in the trial. Frederick Katzmann was also my Great-Great-Grandfather.
As an Anarchist with Italian heritage, I was taught from a young age that my ancestor Fredrick Katzmann did the right thing in the trial. My family, and my mother especially, kept our lineage secret for a long time, fearing repression, which, perhaps, was not unjustified at first; Thayer’s house was bombed in 1932 and Katzmann’s home was guarded by a police detail until 1933. But in 2009, from whom does she fear repression? Perhaps from the stereotypical Italian Mafia that one watches in the movies? Perhaps from the very same Anarchists whose ranks I have joined? I personally have no idea. But the family lies and fear stop here. I do not respect or admire Frederick Katzmann, but instead I seek to continue the legacy of struggle left by Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti.
The oppressive systems from the 1920s have changed all too little. The state is still free to kill whomever it sees fit, whether utilizing its judicial system or not. Though today’s immigrants tend to come from other parts of the world, they are still discriminated against, subject to raids, rounded up and deported en masse. Unnervingly, today’s immigrants, coming largely from Latin America and the Caribbean, are persecuted by Irish cops, Italian judges and descendants of other oppressed European immigrants, elevated to these positions of authority now that the definition of whiteness has expanded to include them. Justice for the working poor remains elusive while the state has extravagant means of repressing radicals who challenge the root causes of tyranny and threaten the status quo. As long as folks like my Great-Great-Grandfather stay in control of the system, we don’t have a chance. Worldwide, though, resistance is burning as bright as the heart of every person who stands against oppression. Now is the time to overcome our past to build a better future. •
TJ’s Vegan House of Pizza Closes
By Matt, TJ’s Workers’ Collective
uly marked the end of a year and a half run for Boston’s (and perhaps the world’s) only collectively-run, all vegan pizza shop. Tj’s Vegan House of Pizza began life thirty-odd years ago as a standard boss-run, animal product serving pizza shop. In recent years it began offering vegan options and was taken over by a new owner who made it entirely vegan. The new owner managed to unintentionally hire a staff comprised almost entirely of anarchists active in various projects together outside of the shop. One thing led to another, and the shop fully became a workers’ collective sometime between January and March of 2008.
When we got our hands on the shop, the bank account had flat-lined. Huge amounts of start-up capital had been needlessly squandered and the 2007 business taxes had never been filed. We also had a fairly limited amount of prior restaurant experience as a collective. Some people had prior experience working in other pizza shops or fast food establishments, some people knew how to bake, and some people had small business skills from being in bands and booking shows. The shop came into our control on very short notice and we very quickly had to teach ourselves all of the nuts and bolts of running a business that are generally taken care of by the management. Filing taxes, applying for permits, and dealing with health inspectors are all completely do-able, but we definitely made some fumbles having to quickly learn it all at once. The most frustrating part of all of this is that, having kept a broken and flawed business going for a year and a half, we probably could have lasted much longer and done much better if we hadn’t been behind the ball from day one. Within the last few months we were open, we were finally clicking really strongly as a collective and we’d taught ourselves how to run that place damn well. Consensus-run businesses are kind of like boot camp for non-hierarchical organizing.
I’m pretty intensely proud of what we managed to do with that place, but keeping it afloat took a pretty large toll on all of us. Tj’s was often on par with the kind of work it takes to organize a large convergence, with the added pressure of being in a constant state of crisis (financial and otherwise) and constantly wondering if we were going to shut down in the next few weeks. We were all broke and working incredibly hard and making ourselves more than a little bit crazy in the process. We had a running joke about being a “worker run sweatshop,” or that if anyone else treated us the way we treated ourselves, we’d go on strike in under five minutes. Most of us had other jobs. Most of us ate dumpstered food because we didn’t really have money for groceries and you can’t eat vegan pizza and subs all the time. Some of us sold blood. Most of us did these things out of a mix of a commitment to radical labor organizing, animal rights, and to each other. Tj’s was both a dysfunctional family and a second home, and I’m grateful for both.
I’d like to thank all of our friends who were an important part of both the project and our lives, and I’d like to thank the overwhelming majority of our regular customers, some of whom became our friends somewhere along the line. I’d also like to thank everyone else who was a part of the workers collective or who spent a significant amount of time volunteering, because y’all were a big part of my life for the past two years.
We never got to do as a much as we wanted to as a community space, but I’m glad we could be a place where someone coming back to town could check in, and a place where people new to town could come to figure out what was going on. We all fought long and hard to keep the project running, but even though the doors are shut, I think in the balance it’s a victory. By all rights, Tj’s should have closed midway through 2008. Everyone involved at the end is a much, much better organizer from having had to put up with what Tj’s asked of us. Even if we don’t wind up continuing as a collective, we’re all taking a lot more organizing skill, experience and backbone to whatever we do next than we had the first time we walked through the front door.
In the end, money is what did us in. We started off with some severe problems as a business, and serving niche food in a tanking economy is a dicey proposition at best. The last month saw far too many $200 days, and eventually we just couldn’t make rent or pay bills. Instead of having it all end in an eviction or the power going off mid-shift, we threw one last All You Can Eat night, made pizza until we ran out of dough, invited our friends to stay for one last party, and stayed up until dawn. •
Calendar: Get Involved
Every Monday: Papercut Zine Library meeting, 7:30pm. Contact papercut (at) riseup.net for location.
First Tuesday of Every Month: BAAM Publuc Meeting, 7pm, Lucy Parsons Center, 549
Columbus Ave, Boston. Open meetings featuring, introducton to BAAM,
reportbacks, and workshops.
Second Tuesday of Every Month: Anarchist Black Cross meeting (defense and prison abolition group), 8pm. Email
bostonabc (at) riseup.net for location.
Every Wednesday: Free Radical Film Nights, 7pm, at the Lucy Parsons Center, 549 Columbus Ave, Boston
Second Sunday of Every Month: 2pm Industrial Workers of the World meeting. Lucy Parsons Center, 549 Columbus Ave, Boston
Food Not Bombs free community meal, 4-6pm, Boston Common, Park St T Stop, Boston
Every Sunday: Food Not Bombs, free community meal 4-6pm, Central Square, Cambridge
Think urban anarchists don’t have
anything to learn from a rural movement that registered people to vote? Prepare to have your mind blown! Join us in reading excerpts from Charles M. Payne’s I’ve Got the Light of Freedom which explores
the strategies, successes and failures of community organizing that went down in Mississippi as part of the Freedom Movement. 1pm at Castle Island (check MBTA.com’s trip planner for bus and T directions) FOR FREE PDF OF READING: email Cyd.grayson (at) gmail.com
G20 resistance planning meeting. Come help us prepare to battle globalization in the streets of Pittsburgh. 7:30PM at the Lucy Parsons Center, 549 Columbus Ave.
Help Papercut Move. Papercut Zine Library is asking for help moving their collection, as they are being kicked out of their space. Meet 10am @ the Zine library, 45 Mnt Auburn St, Cambridge.
Boston’s first Anarchist Prom: Boston’s Anarchists invite you to an informal formal to have a ball! Defy the dominant culture! Get fancied up and come dance and play with us! Come alone, in a pair, in a triad, bring your kids,* just come! Drag encouraged. There will be food, cheesy photography, music and a DJ. 6pm at the Community Church Boston in Copley [accessible space!] at 565 Boylston. Admission $5-20 sliding scale. Proceeds will benefit BAAM’s outreach projects and the legal defense and prisoner support work of the Boston ABC. *If childcare is needed, write us and we will make it happen! Direct all inquiries to cyd.grayson (at) gmail.com
Providence Anarchist Book Fair. Food! Fun! Beer! Dancing in the Streets! 1PM - 1AM, AS220 1 Empire Street, Providence.
Allston Squirtgun Day begins at high noon, at the intersection of Harvard and Brighton Ave. Bring your weapon of choice (squirtgun, water balloons) and join in the fun! Rumors have surfaced of the appearance of a revolutionary anarchist squirtgun militia... Organized by the Clone Collective. www.myspace.com/allstonsquirtgunday
Really Really Free Market 11am-4pm, Ringer Park, Allston. Presented by the Allston/Brighton Neighborhood Assembly,
Know Your Rights Training, presented by Voices of Liberation, Malcom X Grassroots Movement, New Black Panther Party and Blackstonian.com. 3pm @ Codman Square Tech Center. 450 Washington st. Dorchester
Sacco and Vanzetti Memorial March. Join the Sacco and Vanzetti Commemoration Society for the fourth annual march to remember the fallen Italian anarchist workers, and to continue their struggle for revolution. 2pm at Copley Square, Boston. No Deportations, No State Repression!
Smashin’ (the G20) Fashion Show. 8pm @ the Community Church. featuring local radicals’ fashion and functional designs, silent auction, karaoke and dance party.
Northeast Pre-G20 Meet Up in Boston! We all know the G20 needs to be smashed, it’s just a matter of doing it responsibly and informedly and making good connections with our comrades beforehand. Fear not! The anarchists of Boston and Pittsburgh are combining their inimitable powers to bring you a weekend of learning, strategizing and schmoozing [without the boozing]. Come to the Community Church Boston, 565 Boylston in Copley Square [accessible space!] For housing, contact Clara at lil_red (at) riseup.net. For general event inquiries, contact cyd.grayson (at) gmail.com.
The G20 Pittsburgh will host the next summit of the G20, a group of finance ministers and central bank governors from the world’s largest economies who meet to coordinate the international financial system. Around 1,500 delegates, including heads of state, plus more than 2,000 members of the media, and thousands of police tasked with squelching dissent. resistg20.org
Month of Anarchy! A series of educational and outreach events sponsored by the Northeast Anarchist Network. Keep an eye out as these develop in your city!
-Another World Is Possible-
A new BAAM Podcast project! Now with over *THIRTEEN HOURS* of anarchist and revolutionary audio recordings, including several audio-books, loads of essays, poetry, letters, interviews and much much more... All of this is available for anyone to download NOW, listen to via web-stream, or subscribe to thru iTunes or your social-networking site.
Contributors to this month’s issue:
Anarchism is the theory and practice of a human society organizing without hierarchy, authority and oppression. This means that all people have equal access to the decision-making process and to the products of their collective labor. Anarchy can be described as true, direct democracy. It is horizontal: i.e. workers working together without bosses, neighbors organizing housing and neighborhoods without landlords, and people making decisions without politicians. There are many different ideas on how to get there and what exactly it will look like. We can talk all we want, but only a truly free and revolutionary people will be able to decide what their revolution will look like. So comrades, let’s get to work!
This work is in the public domain.
trenchesfullofpoets (nospam) riseup.net (unverified)
01 Aug 2009
|Baam 24.pdf (4114 k)|
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