An Antagonist’s Guide To Destroying The Surveillance State

A bore, a paranoiac, a madman, a watcher with no one to watch him in turn, someone it’s going to be hard to get rid of.

-Roberto Bolaño, “The Secret of Evil.”

Head bone connected to the neck bone, neck bone connected to the arm bone, arm bone connected to the hand bone, hand bone connected to the internet, connected to the Google, connected to the government.

-M.I.A., “The Message.”

I: The Twitter Employee and the Airport


My flight is delayed for two hours. The people around me text on their phones, update their Facebook status, use the Google search browser for their homework, and listen to music through tiny headphones. While I wait with them, all of us sitting in identical rows, I read over a hundred pages of Assata Shakur’s autobiography.

After the Boston Marathon bombing, the FBI had once again added her to their Most Wanted list, hoping to capitalize on the public hysteria and to remind the public that Assata is a “dangerous terrorist.” I brought her book into the airport in defiance of their media campaign, hoping to get into an argument with some official or other and learn exactly what they were up to behind the curtain.

For the past several months, my boarding passes have been labeled with “SSSS” in the lower right corner. In the Sea-Tac airport, I first learned that I had been flagged as a threat of some sort and was to be thoroughly searched. Thinking it was because my hair was curly and my skin was dark, I started antagonizing the TSA employees, asking them if all brown people were terrorists and if my beard scared them. Hitting a nerve, one of the employees pointed at the “SSSS” and told me they were only responding to my classification, that it wasn’t their personal decision. I asked them who had deemed me a Secondary Security Screening Selection, and he said that he had no idea.

After they swabbed my bag to test for explosives, an alarm went off. Magically, my bag had acquired trace amounts of explosive residue. After a second swab triggered another alarm, the airport bomb expert inspected my bag and found no secret explosive devices. I repacked my bag and they let me walk to my gate, no longer a potential threat, safe to board my plane.

At the Oakland airport months later I received the same treatment, but this time there were no explosives detected on my bag. A few months after that, again at Sea-Tac, explosives were detected once, twice, and then the bomb expert was summoned for another thorough inspection of my dangerous bag. Sea-Tac is evidently where I suddenly acquire explosive powder on my belongings. Every time I fly through its terminals, I have the sense that someone is behind a screen in an office pressing a button to trigger the alarm.

Back at the Oakland airport, reading Assata’s autobiography, waiting for my delayed flight to Seattle, I notice that I am one of a few people not using a computer or smart phone. When the staff finally starts the boarding process, I sit down near the line next to a young woman who is deeply mesmerized by the soft blue glow of her phone screen. As we wait for our turn to line up and board our plane, she sighs and anxiously looks at the long lines of upper class passengers boarding before us.

“Why is it taking so long?” she asks me.

“Don’t know. It just does.”

We sit silently for a moment and watch the other passengers.

“Do you live in Seattle?” I ask.

“No, I’m from there, but I live in San Francisco now.”

“It’s getting really expensive to live in San Francisco.”

“Yeah,” she nods.

“I know people who grew up there who can’t afford to stay. It’s Google that’s doing it, all their employees making the rent spike.”

“No, for sure, it is. I have rent control, though, so it doesn’t really affect me. But I’m all for it because I work for Twitter.”

The line of passengers sways back and forth. I have no idea how to respond to her statement and suddenly I realize that in the center of her black shirt is the little blue bird of Twitter. This was the moment when I began to discover the secret of evil. Continue reading



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Open Letter To Dominic Holden

(submitted via email, hyperlinks provided by TOF)

Open Letter To Dominic Holden

I am writing this letter to you in order to clarify a few points that may have been missed along the way.  Much time has elapsed and memory is short all around, but I want to revisit a few moments in recent Seattle history.

Two years ago, almost exactly, the Occupy movement quickly spread across the United States.  It was a moment no one had experienced since the anti-war movement in 2003, although it was more similar in form to the anti-globalization movement that existed from 1999 to 2001.

The anti-WTO protest in Seattle was the seminal event that triggered the emergent global movement. Everyone who contributed to the anti-WTO protests in Seattle, whether they marched, burnt, wrote, chanted, filmed, heckled, observed, sang, danced, or reveled, was a maker of history, a participant in something far grander than themselves.  It was a movement to save the planet from global capitalism that carried the promise of victory.  Unfortunately the events of September 11th, 2001, inaugurated the nightmare world of surveillance and ecological devastation we live in today. Now we can all see how important that moment truly was and what it could have meant for the planet.

The Occupy movement was no less important.  When it appeared in Seattle there was an outpouring of support I couldn’t believe was real.  Across divisions that were vast only weeks before, there was now a polyvalent movement bringing rhythm, life, and struggle to the middle of Downtown.  There was so much promise there that it really sucked to hear so many people arguing about the police.  Night after night, the police would enforce insane laws banning umbrellas and sitting on blankets, arrest and beat people, and generally act like real sick people.  All of this, you’ll remember, with mayor McGinn nodding his wise gray head.  And still, night after night, the general assembly of Occupy Seattle would argue with each other about whether the police should be respected.  Very frustrating, but by the end of the first month, pretty much everyone had their minds changed about the police.  But not quite everyone.
From what I remember, you were a little upset about how mean people were to the police.  Now that I actually look up an article you wrote back then, I find some stuff like this: “the anarchists and agitators that we’ve heard about—people driven by an anti-cop agenda—were silent or absent at the assembly. That said, plenty of people I spoke to were concerned by the persistent division between organizers looking for sustainable occupation and anti-authority types seeking dramatic displays.”  The more I sift through all of these articles you wrote, I see that you really had a lot of animosity towards the people in Occupy Seattle who hated the police because of the murders they have committed, the beatings they have inflicted, and the jails they have thrown people into.

Let’s take a look at another one of your articles on the SLOG.  When things were really getting nasty, rainy, and fragile, you helped cause some more divisions with words like these: “In a nutshell, lots of people who have supported and camped with Occupy Seattle are getting fed up with a radical, anti-cop contingent of protesters. These folks who have contacted us—including some who slept on the pavement and risked arrest—say these agitators are swooping into meetings and forming a contingent that uses incendiary rhetoric aimed at police.”

See, back then, a lot of people in the assembly were saying that the police enforce the laws of the 1%, attack communities of color, and cannot be reformed.  By a lot I mean at least 100.  That was the size of the core that consistently went to events that were overt in their antagonism towards capitalism and its police.  But it was way more than 100 people, because the Occupy Seattle encampment itself was largely filled with people who were poor, lived on the street, and were quite familiar with the thousands of little abuses the police put people through every day.  After a while, it seemed like the little group of 100 was voicing the concerns of the people in the camp (wanting no police, wanting shelter, wanting freedom) while people like you continued to voice the concerns of the comfortable, the not-poor, the housed, and the fed.  The anti-police sentiment and the incendiary rhetoric was never the product of a small clique, it was a natural reaction to years of abuse.

The more I look at these SLOG articles, the more I see you were against these people.  And this surprises me, given that you recently have been writing a whole lot about a negative experience you had with the police.  You admit that far worse happens to other people at the hands of the police every day, which is appreciated, but it doesn’t read right to me.  Why did it take you so long to realize such a simple thing?  The police view the population as an insurgency base and treat select civilians with a baseline of suspicion and scorn.

All of those evil people in Occupy Seattle had been expressing their total distrust and animosity towards the police, but back then you thought they were scum who stunk of BO.  You wrote them off as insane extremists who alienated normal people like you from the movement.  And now that you’ve had a truly negative experience with the police, you are ready to take your first steps towards presenting a critique of the police.

I’ve noticed you still think police in general are okay, they just need to have better oversight.  In this, you typify what is wrong with the people in the United States: it’s okay to be a little against something only when you feel comfortable and only if it maintains the status quo.  When there were hundreds of people taking to the streets in defiance of the police, you condemned them, you blamed them, you demonized them.  And in the end, you wrote off the Occupy movement entirely.

The Seattle Police Department was something we all could have tackled together and was a far more realistic target than the big banks that, as you well know, are still coming up with record profits.  I’ve been thrown to the ground and kicked in the ribs repeatedly by the SPD.  Every single one of my friends has been beaten and jailed by the SPD at some point in their life.  Some of my friends have received broken bones, large lacerations, and neck damage from their violence.  Recently, one of my friends even had a run-in with another psychotic transit sheriff who almost hauled her off to jail for accidentally walking on the SODO Busway.

A few of my friends have received some money through lawsuits, but the rest have learned to live with the reality that the police can do whatever they want and get away with it, including murder.  I suppose we deserve it and are just bad people, but hey, I’m glad you’re finally stepping out of your shell a little bit and helping us out.  As you said, it’s not really news to anyone that the police are real shitty, but that Stranger cover with your cop pics on it was great!

All this is to say that we only have a few a few chances to change our worlds.  The potential exists every day, but there are specific moments when everyone begins to rise together, wake from the hypnosis of everyday life, and learn to fight back against abuse and oppression.  Occupy Seattle was dirty and crazy, but it was filled with promise, a promise of a world that doesn’t look like that Capitol Hill that exists now in 2013.  It’s getting really bad, really fast.  I don’t know what to say.  When I look back at the winter of 2011, I feel heartbreak and love at the same time.  We could have done anything, and in the end we could only do exactly what we did, nothing more.  I wish we could have reduced the SPD into a clerical staff, I wish we could have abolished rent, I wish we could have held onto a building and then taken another.  Seattle changed because of what we all did, and even though the machinery of capitalism is still chugging along, the lines between the oppressors and the oppressed are clearer now than they were before.  We know that we can seize and occupy, and hopefully next time we’ll have roofs and heating rather than tents and rain.

We only have a few chances in our life to act together, to be together, to see each other and learn how to live together in world without oppression.  We’ll get our chance again, sooner rather than later, so let’s all get our act together for the next round.  It’s coming soon, I assure you.  So, Dominic, don’t say I didn’t warn you.

We are an image from the future,



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Hydro-electricity and the George Jackson Brigade

A meditation on hydro-electricity and the story of the bombing of a City Light substation by the George Jackson Brigade in 1976.

METROPOLIS [5] – George Jackson Brigade / Hydro part. 2 from Metropolis on Vimeo.

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The Radical Infrastructure of Seattle in the 1970’s


In the early 1970’s, a group of people dubbed “the produce section” drove recently harvested grain from radical farms in rural Oregon to the emerging metropolis of Seattle. This grain was taken to a cooperative mill called CC Grains, located near the contemporary Northgate Mall. In an old newsletter, a woman identifying herself only as Gwen wrote the following description:

I look at CC Grains and I see something wonderful. A place where I could learn and grow non-oppressively. A place where I could dare to challenge my own socialization in a supportive atmosphere. The time, the energy, the tears and hurts, joys and laughter all rolled into a group of women committed to finding another way besides hierarchical, capitalistic, imperialistic ways.

After the grain was processed, it was distributed through a network of co-operative grocery stores or directly to the kitchens of comrades. Everyone in the network was allowed to purchase everything for exactly 1% above wholesale price. Along with the drivers who brought grain, produce, and dairy products from friendly farms, CC Grains represented material autonomy for the counter-culture of the 1970’s.

In 1970, the New York Times undertook a study in which it found that there were 2,000 communes in the United States that year. Over a dozen of them were near Seattle, and all of their members were plugged into the radical network in the city. During the early 1970’s, the collective spirit was concerned with breaking from capitalism and living in balance with the earth, ideas that shaped the radical infrastructure that grew towards this vision. But as the decade progressed, repression and war took its toll one everyone involved.

The Black Panther Party


During this time period (1968-1978), there was a concurrent network established by the Black Panther Party that focused on feeding and supporting the black community against a violent and racist police force that was often cheered by equally fascistic elements with the population. The group initially established itself in the Central District, Madrona, and Capitol Hill. It’s first headquarters was located at 1127 ½ 34th Avenue, just up the hill from Union and MLK. Three blocks away was the Presbyterian Church where the Party distributed breakfast to 250 children before school every weekday. There were three of these food distribution centers, accompanied by a medical clinic staffed by UW student volunteers, a clothing center, and a free bus that took people to visit their incarcerated family members.

The Seattle chapter of the Party armed themselves to protect their community and infrastructure, following the example of their leaders in Oakland. Against a society that was determined to destroy black people through poverty, drugs, and violence, everyone involved in the Party understood their armament to be a necessary precaution. This proved itself to be true almost immediately.

It started with the morning arrest of two Party members by the SPD. They were accused of stealing two typewriters. Following the arrests, a rally was held at Garfield Highschool on July 30th, 1968.

What followed was a rebellion against the SPD, described here by the Seattle Times:

A fire bomb thrown at the Special Patrol Squad on the Garfield school grounds about 9:30 PM resulted in a tear-gas dispersal. There was no damage to the landscaping, police said. Tear gas was used at Garfield and also in East Cherry Street at several locations. A flare was used to illuminate the scene as police attempted to clear the playfield. Police reported they routed about 50 youths taking part in making fire bombs behind Garfield Highschool.

The incident involving the two injured youths occurred at 2608 E. Cherry Street. The [white] man who fired the shots was taken into police custody. The police car in which officer Marquart was injured was fired on 25th Avenue and East Cherry about 9:40 PM. Firemen were summoned to the house about 10:25 when fire bombs were thrown at the building. Damage was slight. Police said three officers assigned to guard the building were fired on at least six times about 3:15 AM.

aaron dixon

This was the climate in which the Party began building its infrastructure. In October of 1968, the SPD killed a young black man and over the months various Party members were arrested on a variety of charges. The Panthers were later evicted from their headquarters and the King County Prosecutor continued to allow the SPD to murder them with impunity, all while the FBI waged its COINTELPRO campaign against the Party. Despite all of this, the breakfast program, the clothing store, and the medical clinics persisted and even outlasted the Party.

Today, the two medical clinics set up by the Panthers are still in the Central District. One is now called the Country Doctor Community Clinic on 19th, the other is the Carolyn Down Family Medical Center on Yesler. Were it not for this infrastructure, there would not have been a history or memory of black militancy in Seattle today.

Black Duck Auto and Leonard Peltier

The rebellion in the Central District in 1968 signaled the opening of a new period of struggle in Seattle. Like the rest of the country, the following years brought repression, drugs, confusion, experimentation, rebellion, shoot-outs, deaths, and moments of freedom to the city. While the Black Panthers were building their own infrastructure, they were accompanied by other allies throughout the city who not only helped fund the Party but built their own networks of supply and distribution. By 1974, there was a large network that included CC Grains, the nearby Little Bread Bakery that used the grain from the mill, co-ops that fed thousands of people, several farms providing the food, Left Bank Books, dozens of collective houses, an auto shop, and over a dozen communes. Each collective project would send representatives to a large spokes-council where the entire network would coordinate.

The collective auto shop was started in Capitol Hill in the garage of a house rented by Ed Mead and Roger Lippman. Lippman was a former SDS leader in Seattle who later became affiliated with the local section of the Weather Underground. In 1970, he was sentenced to three months in jail for his role in organizing a protest where the Federal Courthouse in Seattle was vandalized. After he was released, Lippman continued to live in Seattle and eventual found himself living with Ed Mead, a young man from Alaska who had spent most of his life in prison and would go on the help start the George Jackson Brigade guerrilla movement. At their shared house, the two began working on their friends cars on the sidewalk outside their garage. When the number of people needing auto help grew into the hundreds, the men decided to open a proper auto shop called Black Duck Auto.

A flier for the space reads:

We are a people’s garage, not a capitalist business. We try to relate to you as friends, as well as customers. We depend on the community for support and expect you not to objectify us. (In other words, not relate to us as objects who magically fix your car quietly, quickly, and cheaply without personal or mechanical hassles along the way.) When we work, we take time to do the job right, we explain things to you, work with you if you wish, and enjoy each others company at the garage. It is a learning workshop and a humane environment.

black duck auto

The auto shop moved out of the house and into a commercial space in Chinatown. On the sly, Roger Lippman and a few others were making fake ID’s for whoever needed one. It is unknown who received these false documents. The garage also serviced vehicles for AIM, the American Indian Movement, and Ed Mead personally equipped an AIM warrior on their way to an armed occupation in 1974. However, when a man named Leonard Peltier arrived seeking fake documents, the forgers in the network turned him down. In anger, Ed Mead moved out of the apartment he shared with Lippman.

Peltier had lived in Seattle for several years after leaving his small reservation town in North Dakota. He took part in the occupation of Fort Lawton in Magnolia where he and dozens of other natives were beaten by police and dragged to jail after trying to take back the land. After this radicalizing experience, Peltier took part in the occupation of the Bureau of Indian Affairs office in Washington, DC in 1972. That November, Peltier was charged with the murder of a Milwaukee police officer. After spending five months in jail, AIM bailed him out just as the occupation of Wounded Knee began in South Dakota. After going underground, Peltier made plans to travel to the occupation but it ended before he could get there.

Officially an outlaw, Peltier returned to Seattle, received a car and weapons, and went off to participate in three more occupations before eventually finding his way to the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. It was in this place that a shootout between AIM and the FBI took place, leaving two federal agents and one AIM warrior dead. Leonard Peltier was eventually convicted of murder and sits in prison to this day, the victim of a frame-up that has been extensively documented.

The Co-Ops

Peltier is one person who was materially supported (or not supported) by the radical infrastructure that existed in Capitol Hill. In his case, the underground network supplied him what he needed, but the above ground network fed thousands of people in Seattle. One of the main nodes of the food network was the Central Co-Operative on 12th and Denny. It began in 1971 as a wholesaler of beans, flour, grains, and cheese, most of it supplied from the farms in the network. Inside there was a lending library and communal stove for warmth and cooking. Anyone could come in at any time and start working.

This network also included the Puget Consumer’s Co-op, or PCC as it is now commonly known. It started as a small network of 200 people who purchased food together and picked it up in a basement depot. By the mid 1970’s, PCC had opened a location in Ravenna and sold food to thousands of people. PCC was part of a growing move towards organic food, inspired by the counter-culture’s desire to escape from the networks of capitalist dependency. While all of these co-ops were blossoming, a boycott against Safeway was also taking place, in solidarity with the United Farmworker’s Movement and against corporate agriculture. The original aim of the co-ops in the radical network was to replace capitalism with a more egalitarian and healthy system built by the people themselves. This vision was pursued by all but when repression landed on the network, things began to change.

The initial FBI offensive against radical movements in Seattle first affected the Black Panthers at the end of the 1960’s and the beginning of the 1970’s. It also affected the predominately white left, although not to the same extent. In 1975, when the George Jackson Brigade (GJB) began its guerrilla campaign against the state and capitalism, the FBI repression intensified against the entire left, either black or white. A Grand Jury was convened in Seattle, jailing one woman for six months and harassing dozens of people in the wider network. Although the vast majority of the GJB attacks did not harm anyone, the radical left in Seattle did not unify in support of the armed group. This caused various splits, leading to Left Bank Books leaving a support coalition for the Grand Jury resistors because of their critical support for the group.

While the FBI pursued the GJB, the co-ops began to move away from their former ideals and focused only on food, money, and new storefronts. PCC began voting about whether to buy sliding glass doors and electronic tellers. Their P-Patch program was adopted by the city and other urban farming projects were given Federal money to expand. Meanwhile, the mental and physical stress of capitalism and repression caused the Central Co-Op to implode in 1978. Most of the volunteers and members of the co-op could not sufficiently discard their former ideals enough to create a “solid business plan” that would allow them to survive in the market.


This was the pattern that emerged after the repression: communes, farms, collective houses, and co-ops began to seal themselves off and become inward focused. No longer was there a vision of a world free from capitalism, instead there was survival, practicality, and money. PCC agreed to help finance the restart of the Central Co-Op only if they agreed to have paid workers and not a collective. Today, the co-op is now called Madison Market. Its benefactor, PCC, exists in ten locations across the Seattle area. Along with similar establishments across the country, these stores are part of what has now become known as green capitalism, the attempted regeneration of a toxic system. There is no more informal 1% above wholesale price for members of the tribe, family, or commune. There is simply a money making enterprise catering mostly to the wealthy.

There are other remnants of this infrastructure in existence today. Some of it exists as part of a network called the Evergreen Land Trust that includes four houses in Seattle and three nearby land projects. One of the collective houses, the Sunset House in the Central District, is well known for its purple exterior. Many of the famous figures in Seattle’s radical left entered the establishment in various ways, some even becoming advisers to the Clinton’s, others becoming local politicians or small business owners. Jeff Dowd, one of the seven people jailed for the vandalism of the Federal Courthouse, went on to become a movie producer. He helped gather the money that financed the creation of Fern Gully: The Last Rainforest, a film that helped shape the minds of the children of the 1990’s.

Capitol Hill


In the late 1960’s and early 1970’s, dozens of collective houses sprung up in Capitol Hill. After the rebellion in the Central District and the loss of 60,000 Boeing jobs between 1969 and 1970, many affluent white people left the neighborhood, causing a drop in rent prices. The counter-culture quickly filled this void, giving Capitol Hill its bohemian reputation. For the first years of the 1970’s, Capitol Hill was a cheap place to live for those hoping to destroy capitalism and build a new world. With them came new ideas, more tolerance, and a desire for experimentation. But soon it was clear that these radicals were unwittingly acting as the vanguard for a force that was just beginning to be understood: gentrification.

Like the punks and squatters of other cities, the radicals of Capitol Hill cleared the way for a new group of people to move in. In a report from 1979, a UW masters student writes: “About 1973, at first gradual, imperceptible—and in many ways quite unusual—changes began. Growing numbers of typically young, white professionals began moving onto deteriorated sections of central and southern Capitol Hill. While Capitol Hill for many years has been the home of people of all income classes, ages, and races, the social composition is now changing towards a young, white, professional, and usually childless resident.

Following the same pattern as in other cities, the mostly white radicals were able to live normal lives in a neighborhood that other white people found scary or dangerous. Once it was clear that crime rates and dilapidated buildings did not deter new renters, the petty-bourgeoisie began its push to invest and rebuild the neighborhood. With the same “pioneer” spirit that is exhibited today, these small capitalists saw the neighborhood as a cash machine. From the same report:

In 1973, a very chic restaurant, Boondock’s, opened near the intersection of Broadway and Roy. At the time of its opening the owners were informed by their friends that the location was a bad one because the neighborhood was too poor to support such a restaurant and that they were opening a high-class establishment in the middle of the ‘boondocks,’ hence the name. One of the two owners said of Capitol Hill, ‘It was on the way down,’ but that he was good at ‘sensing trends’ and that after a demographic study of the area they decided it was on the verge of rejuvenation, which would result in the restaurant’s success. ‘The study showed that the white population would come back. And that’s what happened. Professionals, singles, young marrieds [sic].‘”

While this was taking place along the Broadway strip, something more sinister was happening on the other side of the hill near 23rd, in what was then called East Capitol Hill. In the same report, a person identified only as “an elderly black woman” from the Central District explains:

They gave me a hard time when I tried to move in around here in 1963. Every rooming house turned me down, some even asking if I was a prostitute! Finally I decided to build my own place, and they gave me a hard time downtown with the permit. I ran into a lot of resistance because of my color. The real estate agents are paying to have houses burned down. All my neighbors have been offered enormous sums of money to sell. The whites want this place, but I’ll be damned if they’re going to get it!

The process of gentrifying the Central district is still underway, although it has met with resistance over the decades. Ever since the rebellion in 1968, there has been an effort to retain the black and working class character of the neighborhood against the tide of gentrification. However, the government sponsored influx of drugs and gangs starting in the 1970’s has severely damaged the Central District and allowed the developers and out-of-town landlords to acquire more property. It also created a justification for racial profiling by the SPD, an organization that has continued to murder, jail, and plant drugs on young black people for decades.

During the last years of the 1970’s, two SPD officers led a campaign to repeal a city ordinance that protected gay rights. The group these cops formed was called SOME, or Save Our Moral Ethics. On Capitol Hill, the radical gay community mobilized against this initiative and in the process revealed some new truths about the neighborhood: firstly, that throughout the decade the gay population had exploded; secondly, many gay people were conservative and just wanted to live a normal capitalist life, in contrast to the radical gays of the neighborhood who wanted to subvert it. The same report quoted above goes on to say:

Every week or so new graffiti appears on walls on Capitol Hill, sometimes the slogans suggesting it was written by radical lesbians. The pro-gay graffiti is more a sign of efforts to gain a political footing rather than a reflection of actual dominance. The radical gay community on Capitol Hill is numerically small, yet vocal and politically potent. Some of the recent graffiti demands—in no uncertain terms—that the rich leave Capitol Hill immediately, and demonstrates in a graphic fashion growing class conflict in the community. On the other hand, I also interviewed gays who were financially secure and bothered by the growing anti-development sentiment.”

In the 1990’s and 2000’s, the conservative, mainstream gay population began buying and renting property in the Central District, creating more conflict in their wake. Today, the gay identity has been absorbed into capitalism rather than continue to be excluded from. The 1970’s was a time of emancipation and coming out, but it was also a time of mainstreaming and the beginning of the gentrification that continues to this day.


1968 was a year of uprisings across the planet. France, Italy, the US, Mexico, Japan, Czechoslovakia, Germany, Poland, and Brazil were all host to rebellions against the established order. It was the beginning of a period of struggle that would last for nearly a decade and engulf the planet. Some call this time period the Cold War, others call it World War III, and still others call it simply the revolution. It was a global battle that swept up two generations in its complexities and day dreams. Ultimately, the battle was between the USA and the USSR, between state capitalism and state capitalism, but within the cracks of these monolithic entities life was able to blossom.

Two years have elapsed since the Occupy movement arrived in Seattle and it was just a few months ago that police gassed hundreds of people downtown during May Day, 2013. Another network has started to form in Seattle that is just as rhizomatic, nuanced, and informal as the last one. It carries the flame of rebellion within it, raw and new, gathering momentum, constantly growing. Repression has recently swept through the city in various forms and yet the network persists. There is an entire history of struggle to look back on and learn from. This article was written as a contribution to the transmission of those old lessons and a reminder to not repeat mistakes that have already happened.


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A Brief History of the West

(submitted anonymously via internet)

A Brief History Of The West

σὺν Ἀθηνᾷ καὶ χεῖρα κίνει (with Athena, move also your hand)

-ancient Greek proverb

Northern Babylon

On the 14th of May, 2013, a group of men and women descended from the mountains of Kurdistan and entered the state of Iraq. They carried AK-47s, rocket propelled grenades, and M-60 machine guns. All of them were guerrillas who had fought for the PKK, the Kurdistan Workers Party. As they entered their bases in Iraq, all of them wore smiles, testaments to the joy of peace, however temporary. For years these men and women had endured a dirty war against the Turkish state as they fought for Kurdish autonomy. This war has been obscured by the media and ignored by the larger world. Over 30,000 guerrillas have been killed during the thirty year war against Turkey and the rebel army has faced constant harassment.

So when a ceasefire was proposed by the imprisoned leader of the PKK, it was met with wide enthusiasm by the soldiers, eager to live without the fear of an ambush, a raid, or an airstrike. The withdrawal of fighters from Turkey began on May 8th, the first step of the ceasefire. When the first jubilant guerillas entered Iraq a week later, the government in Baghdad expressed alarm that this armed force would further destabilize the country, already in the first stages of a new civil war. But the smiling guerrillas have ignored these protests from Baghdad. In their bases in northern Iraq, the fighters have had a moment to relax, wait, and watch the world on satellite TV.


Exactly two weeks after these guerrillas arrived in Iraq, a group of activists began camping under the trees in Gezi Park, a small green area near Taksim Square in Istanbul, Turkey. Gezi Park is on the site of a military barracks that was demolished in 1940 and turned into green space. The local government and big developers decided to destroy the park in order to build a new structure aesthetically similar to the barracks that would include a mall and luxury apartment. Fittingly, on May 30th, the government sent a large force of riot police to brutally clear the activists from the park to make way for the new form of the old barracks. After the first brutal attack by the police, hundreds of new people joined the protest and were attacked again the next day, triggering solidarity protests in Ankara and Izmir. Gezi Park was sealed off by police, information quickly spread through the neighborhoods and the internet, and the next day, June 1st, thousands of people crossed the Bosphorous River and converged on Taksim Square.

After June 1st, an insurrection spread across Turkey, from the south to the east of its borders. In Istanbul, the police were pushed out of Gezi Park and Taksim Square. Almost immediately a free area was created, buffered from the police by dozens of barricades made from such diverse materials as bricks, metal pipes, and burnt out buses. Underneath the trees and along the pavement, another manifestation of the square movement has appeared in Istanbul, carrying with it all the lessons of Tahrir, Plaza del Sol, Syntagma, and Oakland. Anarchists, muslims, hooligans, communists, republicans, yoga freaks, doctors, teachers, and homeless people are all together, inhabiting this precarious location, strengthening it, preparing for the eventual police or para-state invasion. This diverse multitude of people have together stolen police tanks, burnt cars, thrown molotovs, built hospitals, forged informal supply lines through Istanbul, and built a library.

Erecting a library in the middle of an occupied square is the antithesis of a fascist book burning. It is the affirmation of plurality, multiplicity, and diversity. It is the acknowledgment of disagreement and the recognition of what is shared. It is appropriate that one of the most common chants in Istanbul is “shoulder to shoulder against fascism.” Unlike the previous incarnations of the square movement, there is less squabbling over ideology, less management by assemblies and sub-groups, and a grander sense of solidarity and practicality. For the first time, mainstream society has embraced the Kurdish struggle, feeling a greater sense of shared struggle against the same fascism.

In the face of such an immediately ruthless enemy, all parties to the occupation understand what is at stake. All tasks are undertaken autonomously and organically without the need for endless meetings and processing. Perhaps it is because the occupation started under conditions of war, not peace.

Many western journalists have seized on the comparison between the occupation in Istanbul and the Paris Commune. Fueling this comparison are the barricades, the nerves of the occupation. After the crushing of the Paris Commune, Frederic Engels discoursed on the nature of barricades, decrying them as pointless against a modern military force, equipped with artillery shells that could instantly destroy one of these simple obstructions. Seeing street fighting as futile and destined for failure, he suggested that the revolutionary forces of Europe attempt to enter the various parliaments and achieve power legally. He entirely missed the point of the barricade.

Throughout time, whenever a free area is created, whether it is in Paris or Istanbul, the people begin to build their world using whatever tools are at their disposal. This task in itself, requiring the use of ones own hands, is the first step toward freedom. Building a barricade is not a simple military tactic. It is a commitment, pledged with sweat, intention, and a deep love for all who inhabit the zone behind the barricade. The military that fought the Kurds is far more advanced than the army that crushed the Commune, and yet the same cobblestone barricades continue to appear in the spring of 2013. In a world where the state wants to be the sole architect and designer of urban space, illegally building anything with one’s own hands is an insurrection in itself, waiting to expand block by block until the entire space is quite literally outside of control.

In The Shadow Of The Holy Mountain

Heading west by car from the outskirts of Istanbul, it takes around six hours to reach the Halkidi peninsula in Greece. On the drive out of Istanbul, the surrounding region becomes increasingly impoverished and remains so after crossing the Greek border. Driving along highway route 2, the road roughly follows the coast of the Aegean Sea, sometimes curving inland but eventually returning to the water. Near the town of Asprovalta, a car can exit the highway and proceed down the third finger of the peninsula, passing through the villages of Stavros, Olimpiada, and Stratoni before finally arriving at the village of Ierissos.

The village has been destroyed several times by the Romans, the Venetians, and the Turks. Most recently, it was completely destroyed by an earthquake in 1932. After the disaster, a German urban designer was brought in by the Greek government who created a gridlike layout for the new village. To this day, it is the only village in the surrounding area that is designed in such a manner, standing out against the traditionally chaotic and narrow streets. On the hills above Ierissos, the ruins of the previous village are still visible.

To the south-east of the village is the Holy Mountain, a semi-autonomous region controlled by the Greek Orthodox Church. Women are forbidden to enter this area that encompasses nearly all of the third finger of the peninsula. During the second world war, Hitler allowed the Orthodox monks to maintain their autonomy and after the war, five Serbian generals allied with the Nazis fled into the region and became monks. It is unknown who else is hiding there.

Since 2011, the inhabitants of Ierissos have been trying to stop the establishment of a new gold mine in the mountain above their village. All of the surrounding villages still receive their water directly from the creeks and rivers of the mountains. Miraculously, the water is still clean despite centuries of exploitation by various empires.

Two tunnel mines already exist in the surrounding area, but the new one will be an open pit mine as wide as the boundaries of Ierissos. Hellas Gold operates one of the pre-existing mines above the village of Stratoni. Since it began operations, there has already been one overflow of mine waste that has spilled into the sea along the edge of the village. But this is irrelevant when the oldest form of western wealth is buried underneath the mountains. According to the Deputy Energy and Environment Minister Asimakis Papageorgiou, “We can no longer accept this [area] being left unexploited or barely exploited.”

Hellas Gold was recently acquired by Eldorado Gold, a company based in Vancouver, BC. In an effort to pacify the inhabitants of the region, the company has begun dispersing money to the local governments and financing the construction of civic projects. Despite the obvious and visible effects that the gold mine above Stratoni has had upon the coast, the majority of the village supports the company due to the fact that most families have someone who works in the mine. However, the company has been stoking anger in Stratoni against anyone who opposes the mine. The village has Hellas Gold-sponsored loudspeakers that warn the inhabitants of any protest that may occur nearby. The support for the gold mine in the village has reached such insane dimensions that some inhabitants have taken to spray-painting “WORK BEFORE HEALTH” on the walls of the nearby buildings. This village is the opposite of the rebel village of Ierissos.

When the Ierissos villagers first learned that Eldorado wished to dig a new open pit mine, a group constructed a small house in the forest where the mine was proposed. A few people kept the house constantly inhabited through the seasons, burning wood in the stove during the winter and leaving the windows open in the summer. But when the company made its move, the workers from the nearby villages personally destroyed the house before the company and the police sealed off the area. This was the beginning of the current struggle.

All local resistance to the project is centered in Ierissos, with many demonstrations starting at “the stoplight” of the village. After getting coffee and pastries at the nearby cafes, the people converge at this main intersection before getting into caravans that travel up into the mountains. Since the destruction of the forest house, there have been dozens of demonstrations in the woods, most of them involving hundreds or sometimes thousands of people. Most of these demonstrations also turn into fights with the police who at this point work for Eldorado, obeying their commands and following their orders. After these fights, dozens of people return to Ierissos with bruises, broken bones, swollen eyes, lacerations, and burns. But in this rebel village they are safe and can recover.

Ierissos is almost completely against the mine and there are only a few people who support it. The authorities have referred to it as a “center of chaos.” However, the village closest to the proposed open pit mine, Megali Panagia, is not entirely against it. Like Stratoni, the village is divided based on how many people work for Eldorado and how many do not. The story is the same for every nearby village and tension has vastly grown between the two sides.

On February 17th, 2013, a group of around 50 people entered the future site of the open pit mine. Wearing balaclavas and equipped with shotguns and molotovs, members of the attack group held two security guards hostage while others destroyed all the mining equipment. Immediately after this attack, the stock price for Eldorado fell by 6 percent. But before any of the mine’s opponents had the time to rejoice, the police raided houses in Megali Panagia and Ierissos. When the police entered the rebel village, the church bells began to ring, signaling for everyone to respond. Unfortunately they were not in time to stop the anti-terrorist police from kidnapping several well-liked villagers in front of their families at gun point.

After they were taken, the villagers began converging on the police and a fight started. Soon the ground was the littered with stones and the air filled with tear gas. Once the police were pushed away, the villagers sealed off the two entrances to the town with barricades and then proceeded to burn down the police station and two police vans in the parking lot. The owner of the building that housed the police station was not jubilant upon seeing the fire, but he was not especially angry either. Currently, there is a black flag hanging over the remains of the station. Since this incident, the police do not enter the village except in large numbers.

Life in the autonomous village continues as it always has. Along the shore, boat builders continue to cut their own lumber underneath corrugated tin roofs. Black flags adorn one of these workshops, blown by the breezes from the sea. The fishing boats they build in these places are similar to the ones they have built for hundreds of years. In the morning, the fishermen leave the harbor of the village, throw their nets, pull them back in, and return with their catch. Between the mountains and the sea, the people of Ierissos could sustain themselves even if everything collapsed around them.

The rebellion against the company and the police has brought all the generations together. Old women have had their ankles broken, old men have made their first molotov cocktails, and children have taken care of their wounded parents and grandparents. Both people from the left and right are together in this village rebellion, ignoring the dictates the political spectrum would otherwise impose upon them. Together, the villagers have torn down stairs to the beach built with company money and created new ones with their own hands. Together, they have refurbished a school and kept it out of the hands of Eldorado, refusing to allow the company to purchase the loyalty of their children. And recently, together, they have organized a concert that brought 5,000 people to the beach and houses of the village.

At the barricades of the village, everyone takes turns keeping it occupied. In the event that the police decide to approach, the church bells will begin ringing without pause. In the winter, when the air was still cold, people at the barricades huddled around fires as night fell, and during these moments, Ierissos was no different than the autonomous village of Cheran in Guerrero, or the recently occupied Gezi Park. In the light of the flames, the eternal power of the barricade manifests itself, connecting these rebels with the insurgents of the Paris Commune and the Planton de Oaxaca. Tying them together is nothing more than the commitment to defend a place and to not back down until either defeat or victory.


Thessaloniki is two hours away from the rebel village. A drive over the mountains and across the plains delivers the traveler to the edge of the metropolis. Near the outskirts, close to the airport, is the Viome, a factory that has been occupied by its workers. Many of the products that it currently manufactures (organic laundry detergent, glue, cleaning supplies, etc.) can be found in most of the squats and social centers in Thessaloniki and Athens.

On her way back from Ierissos, Naomi Klein recently gave a talk at the occupied factory, explaining that the European crisis has been manufactured in order to extract natural resources from the economically weak nation states like Greece, Cyprus, Spain, and Ireland. Her new film and book will explain the situations in autonomous places like the Viome factory and Ierissos and call for a replication of the type of tactics demonstrated there as a concrete way to fight global capitalism.

Posters for her talk at the factory lined the walls of the metropolis in the days preceding it. There is a lot of graffiti and many posters all over the busy city. Some of the posters will lead the curious to events at the Micropolis, a four story social center in the middle of the commercial district. Created by the anti-authoritarian movement, this rented space contains a bar, a kitchen, a print lab, a gym, a day care, a general store, and a space for events and music. From the balcony extends a red and black flag, hanging over the busy shopping district below with its american pop music, perfume, mannequins, and expensive shoes. Micropolis is the biggest social center in Thessaloniki and buzzes with people every day, utilizing all that is offered and maintained by this rented space, standing in contrast to the surrounding area where luxuries are bought and sold while people beg in the streets.

The original name for the city was Therma, the Greek word for malaria, once a common illness in the mosquito-filled marshlands along the sea. Near the rivers that flow down the mountains and through the metropolis, mosquitoes still swarm thickly in the night air. One of these rivers flows by a squatted textile factory named Yfanet, the largest squatted area in the city. Since 2004, the expansive buildings of the old factory have transformed into housing, a show space, a vast BMX park, a library, a bar, and a kitchen. There are over a dozen large fig trees, one of which wraps its branches around an old rusting bus in one of the courtyards. Young people in the neighborhood use the BMX park for entire afternoons and evenings, people come to the weekly bar nights and kitchens, and hundreds pack into the show space. It is one of the explicitly queer spaces in this ancient and traditionally religious city.

On nearly every street is an Orthodox shrine or church. Passersby light candles, make the cross on their chests, or mutter something to pictures of Jesus. Recently, an Orthodox priest called Gay Pride an “unholy and unnatural event” and claimed to have received 19,000 signatures from Thessaloniki residents asking for the event to be canceled. A week after Pride, the police began to arrest transgender women off the street, bring them into the station, and tell them that if they did not “return to normal” they would be arrested for prostitution. Nearly simultaneously, two immigrants were stabbed by fascists, uncommon for a city that has thus far escaped the rise of Golden Dawn. These events reveal that all these actors stand steadfastly in the fascist camp: the church, the fascist hooligans, and the police.

In March of 2013, there were 20,000 people on the streets of the metropolis demonstrating against the Eldorado mine. The authorities tried to spread a rumor that most of these people were actually tourists following a very small march. In the mainstream media, this event was consistently downplayed and dismissed in similar ways. One man who has a large stake in Hellas Gold and the Eldorado project is a media tycoon who owns one of the major television stations. He is one of many capitalists who are exploiting the crisis to their own advantage. With the recent closure of the public ERT television in Athens, the government is making it clear that no one will be allowed to broadcast information that diverges too strongly from the official story.

With the police and the government enforcing the austerity measures on the inhabitants of Thessaloniki, those who are fighting back and becoming autonomous are a true threat. If the rebels can prove to the population that Greek people are not lazy, that work is not more important than health, and that there is a world outside of capitalism, the plans of the economists will begin to crumble. Every day in Thessaloniki, old men and women sell Serbian black market cigarettes in the parks, immigrants wander the streets waiting for their good luck, the bakeries open, store shutters go up, and the buses fill with workers. The alternatives to this daily routine are small and appear irregularly, sometimes expanding, often times encountering extreme resistance and becoming isolated. But glimpses of it appear as constellations on the landscape, pointing the way out of the trap.


Gold. This is what Plato believed ran through the blood of the kings. And now, thousands of years after his death, his student Aristotle’s birthplace is being assaulted in order to supply more life blood to the kings. As young Aristotle left his home in Halkdiki to travel to Athens, he had no idea of what drastic consequences would follow from his education. Together with Plato and his contemporaries, these philosophers taught kings the laws of the universe and advised them during their conquests. Gold is still the life blood of the kings, but now it does not just sit in their vaults. It resides in computers and cell phones, it appears as a fluctuating series of number at stock exchanges, and it orbits the planet in hundreds of satellites. Gold has been the common currency of kings throughout time, but now it has spread itself out through the fabric of capitalist reality.

In Halkidiki, people invoke Aristotle as a reason to not build the gold mine, as if his memory itself would make the company go back on its decision to dig the open pit mine. But this little boy from an ancient village definitively left the land of his birth when he entered the city of Athena. After having extended their empire too far, the Athenians were challenged by the Spartans and lost their war against them. When Aristotle arrived, the metropolis was in a period of defeat and weakness, watching as the Macedonians invaded more of the nearby land. The armies of King Phillip II of Macedon destroyed the village of Aristotle’s birth and enslaved its population. But eventually, because Aristotle had taught his young son Alexander, the king rebuilt the village and returned the slaves to liberty as a favor to the philosopher. Perhaps now, the memory of Aristotle will spare Halkidki from war and pillaging, but if history repeats itself, it will only be after the worst has already been done.

As with Aristotle’s memory, Greek politicians use the legacy of democracy to defend the Greek state against the ravages of austerity. It is said that because democracy was born in Athens, Greece must be remembered and spared. Since the start of the crisis, the myth of democracy has become intertwined with the Greek identity, a point of pride, something to cling to in the storm. But like the Acropolis of Athens, the history of democracy is a symbol used to obscure a history of slavery, warfare, and imperialism. What is happening today in the metropolis of Athens is a continuation of what has always been happening there. The kings and their armies conquer the land, making their decisions in the palace and parliament, while the slaves toil away, creating the wealth that will only pay for stronger chains.

The heart of the world empire has always moved. Once it was Athens, then Rome, then Constantinople. But there have been splits within the empire, moments when different factions begin to war with each other. When the Protestant Reformation took place, a sect of religious authorities decided that the authority of Rome was too corrupt and irrational. The people from the south had grown accustomed to tyrannical rulers and labored as little as possible, only working when they were forced to. Such a situation repelled the Protestants, who wanted to implement a rational authority that would encourage everyone to be holy, pure, and industrious, to work for the greater glory of an abstraction called God. By doing this, they would also be supporting the priests and the kings.

The Protestant work ethic is simple. Work is the point of life, and the more one denies themselves in the pursuit of work, the better that person is. Purity is central to this ethic. Goodness is measured in how much is accumulated and saved, not in how life away from work is enjoyed. One is more or less pure based on how productive one is. The ability to enjoy one’s labor is not important to this ethic; only the finished product and the continuity of work are valuable. The ethic finds its strongest support and clearest articulation in Germany, the UK, and the US. All those who have climbed to the top of the capitalist hierarchy have done so through economy, industry, and frugality. Those who do not succeed in this ascension are fated to be impure sloths, judged for their laziness and condemned to poverty.

All of this is built upon hundreds of thousands of people murdered during the German peasant wars t, the first rebellion against the old authority. Luther and the other propagators of the work ethic demonized these peasants and did nothing to stop their slaughter, instead choosing to decry their rebellion and call for its end. Once inspired by the words of these Protestant philosophers, the peasants quickly found these reformers to be as tyrannical and corrupt as the Catholic overlords. Once the rebels were destroyed, the new Protestant authorities who had survived the uprising began to cement their philosophies in the minds of the defeated.

Less than a century later, hundreds of thousands of peasants were exterminated in the Thirty Years War, fighting endless battles so that a few kings and princes could maintain their power. Witches, heretics, peasants, and free people were all murdered during these hundred years, leaving a barren and enclosed land, ruled by a religion that taught them to value sacrifice in the name of abstractions and work for the sake of a landlord. Once the kings had bled the land and solidified their borders with each other, the newly urbanized and enclosed population knew nothing else but the new order: rational, godly, and pure. The new religion spread westward, reaching as far as the eastern coast of what became the United States, bringing about the current capitalist world system.

Now, the German state is the center of the EU. Its leaders tell the Spanish, the Greek, the Irish, the Portuguese, and the Italians that they are lazy, that they do not sacrifice enough for the economy, that they are too wasteful, that they are not frugal enough, that everything is their fault: they are sinners, and only work can set them free. This triggered shame in many people in Greece, making them internalize this work ethic and judge themselves according to it. If their city did not look like clean and productive Berlin, they were doing something wrong. If there was still poverty, graffiti, protests, riots, and strikes, it was the fault of the others, the ones who didn’t want to change, the ones who were lazy, not them.

However, many Greek people became enraged at Germany and the EU. It is common to hear on the streets of Athens that what Germany did not accomplish during the second world war, it is accomplishing now. Unfortunately, this anger is often specific to the German government and the underlying values of capitalism and work are not questioned. Instead, people attempt to affirm a Greek identity with national flags, images of the Parthenon, and the myth of democracy. Some Greeks defend their national identity against the invader, and through a nightmarish alchemy, this becomes the fascism we see in Greece today, the Golden Dawn, the life blood of the kings, the defenders of capitalism and work.


It has become normal for Athenians to learn of fascist attacks against immigrants. For two years, the Golden Dawn has been terrorizing the immigrant population. Democracy brought them into the parliament, just as it has kept them there. At a time when the population should be united against capitalism, they are instead fighting each other, blaming the immigrants for taking resources and jobs, blaming the left for giving too much away, blaming right for not giving enough. Some who voted for communists or socialists all their lives suddenly voted for Golden Dawn. Tired of the standard choice of either the socialist PASOK or the conservative New Democracy, many voters chose to give the fascists a chance to do what the other parties could not. This is the trap of Athenian democracy. Rather than take control of their own lives, these voters give their power away to anyone that promises to unite them, to lead them, to do what they cannot, whether they be Golden Dawn or SYRIZA.

In the ancient state of Athens, the slaves that created the wealth of the city were ignored while various political factions vied for power in the temples of governance. Very little has changed. The political factions are still squabbling as a foreign economic system is tearing apart the land. The fascists are helping the high capitalists channel the wrath of the Greek population towards immigrants, leftists, and anarchists rather than against the proper target. But on the other side, SYRIZA is playing the parliamentary game and remaining confined to speeches on television, denunciations of the right, and symbolic protests.

Below the parliament, in Syntagma Square, a different battle has been playing itself out. Many important events have unfolded in this park over the last years. There has been the square movement and the resulting crackdown by the police. But there has also been a suicide in the park. An old man named Dimitris Christoulas shot himself after yelling he didn’t want to “leave debt to his children.” After his death, a police officer was severely beaten by a crowd before his clothes were stripped off him and then burned. Now, there is battle over who control this public space: the population or the government.

It started during the square movement, when resources were being given away for free to anyone who needed them. This continued after the square movement was crushed, with mutual aid groups providing food in the middle of the park. But the fascists soon caught on to this tactic and began to do the same thing, dressing up in their uniforms and handing out boxes of food to anyone who could prove they were a Greek citizen. After seeing this take place, anti-fascists began to oppose these fascist food distributions, only to eventually have the mayor of Athens forbid anyone from giving out food in the park. In the name of combatting fascism, the mayor made a push to take over public space and make the government the only entity allowed to change urban reality.

Since this new decision by the local government, the municipal police have been measuring the precise amount of sidewalk space used by small businesses. When it was time for the taverns and cafes of Exarchia to be measured, the municipal police were accompanied by 100 MAT riot police and backed up by the DIAS motorcycle gang. There was no confrontations with the police during the several hours it took to go to every business. During the brief occupation of the neighborhood, the squatted café VOX pulled its metal shutters down and waited for the police to leave.

It is a new squat, established in the spring of 2012. It is on the upper left point of the triangle that is Exarchia square, taking up the entire edge of one block. Shortly after first opening, it was raided by the police and shut down. The authorities welded metal plates to the doors and then pulled out of the neighborhood. The next day, hundreds of people tore off the metal plates and re-occupied it, later selling the metal as scrap for 300 euros. The money was then given to anarchist prisoners. Since then, the space has served as a café and an outdoor cinema and event space. Along with the Nosotros social center, the VOX is holding down Exarchia square and keeping anarchism alive.

The continued existence of VOX is a victory at a time when one of the oldest and most influential squats has been destroyed. Villa Amalias was a place where thousands of people grew up, listened to punk music, and learned about anti-fascism and anarchism. It was destroyed because it was a threat to the city, a constant reminder that urban reality could be radically changed without the permission of the authorities. Now that it and several other squats have been destroyed, the anarchist core of Athens is now firmly in Exarchia, near the university and the bookstores, where it has always been. It is still the zone to defend. The expansion out of the neighborhood has been set back considerably and the fight against the fascists has taken up much of everyone’s energy.

Recently, a group of immigrants has formed in Athens, calling itself the Black Panthers. It is a self-defense group that patrols the streets, ready to repel fascist attacks. When Channel 4 from the UK aired a news segment about the Black Panthers and the rise of Golden Dawn, the Ministry of Public Order quickly contacted the media and assured them the Black Panthers did not exist. They claimed this information came from “the African community” and that law abiding immigrants need not fear. The government would protect them.

Immigrants can find protection in the streets of Exarchia and can sit in the parks without fear. However, some people in the neighborhood have dedicated themselves to kicking out people they perceive to be heroin dealers, and in their purges, immigrant junkies have been severely beaten. The police have tried to funnel heroin addicts into the neighborhood for decades, but an addict is not a dealer, and these assailants have acted indiscriminately in the past. It is a very fine line to walk, but it is a reflection of the times.

Stopping fascist attacks would require a large and disciplined force to be on every street corner. Fascists attack quickly with knives and bats and disappear just as quickly. Anyone who takes on the fascist threat also must deal with the police. As the anarchists of Athens have learned, the government will not only destroy their infrastructure while the fascists stab immigrants, they will sponsor those same fascists. The situation is a twisted and stressful nightmare for everyone trying to reverse it.

Just down the street from the Polytechnic is a self-managed café run by anarchists. Inside they charge 4 or 5 euros for a hot meal with bread. Down the street are four homeless people camped out on the sidewalk. At the café there have been endless conversations about what is happening. Some people say, “We have burnt down the city 70 times. We are nowhere better, we are in a worse place. Autonomous self-organization and anti-fascism are the only concerns now.” This type of sentiment if fairly common, although an over-whelming sadness is also common. No one likes to dwell on the sadness, but it is definitely there.

Autonomous self-organization is a way to describe the places and projects described in this article. It is a very general description for people taking care of themselves without the state. Anti-fascism, despite how simplistic it can be, is an expression that should mean destroying the whole of the authoritarian world. The capitalist order is fascist in the grandest sense. Anti-fascist research alone has done enough to reveal the scope of the fascist project, from NATO to the Orthodox Church, from Chase Bank to Amazon warehouses in Poland where neo-nazi foreman whip the immigrant workers. But the authoritarian world extends down into parking tickets, laws, and police violence.

Ierrisos, with the fish in the sea and the fresh water in the hills, could be autonomous, along with the other nearby villages. There are anti-capitalists who live in Ierissos, and they are surprised and hopeful because of the conversations happening in the village, conversations about food, water, and land. On the other hand, Exarchia is a large residential neighborhood in Athens and Gezi Park is a small place in the middle of Istanbul. They are under permanent siege because of their positions within the metropolis. Both contexts, the small village and the big city, are equally relevant, but some places are more conducive to freedom and others are not, all for various reasons. But as these situations show, having something to defend is the life giving spring of resistance.

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Metropolis Film Now Available on YouTube!

233 min – Drama | Society | Survival – 16. December 2012 (Seattle)

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interviews, commercials, news broadcasts, and original footage shot over the course of 2012 weave a frenetic web of associations that definitively end the myth of the green and sustainable city – Seattle.

[][][] an anti-commercial.

[][][] a negative production.

[][][] a showcase of the shadow that exists beneath the green grid of the Seattle metropolis.

[][][] revealing the inner workings of the major corporations.

[][][] detailing the hierarchy of the state.

[][][] exploring the daily human interactions that take place on the city streets.

Highlighting the Sound Transit train and lightrail network, housing and commercial development, water and sewer system, food importation system, the electrical system, the national guard, the state, Boeing, Microsoft,, Starbucks, Brightwater, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the workers, the intellectuals, the rulers, and the underground.

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April 7, 2013 · 3:24 am

A Letter To Kteeo

(Sent via email to Tides of Flame)


I am sorry for not writing you sooner, but I have thought of you very much. I remember you asking for books on the Basque struggle when you went into prison. At the time, I was only making 300 dollars a month and my rent was 250. Pretty common these days to be so poor. But since I was unable to get your books, I have composed this letter, written in while I am in Euskaria.

I came to a little town called Santurtzi, just down the river from Bilbao. It is nearly the same size as Olympia, roughly 50,000. It used to be a small fishing village until the dictatorship. As you know, the Basques were the only Catholics to fight against the fascists, and for this they were labelled traitors and suffered intense repression for the next decades. As part of their punishment, Franco started a process of industrialization along the river. Now, the town is host to a super port and an oil refinery.

Of course you know how a refinery increases the cancer rates of those living nearby, and I am sure you know of all the capital that moves in an out of all major ports. The mere existence of a super port causes the immediate area to fill with industry and bleakness. This is all very sad, but there is light hidden within the small proletarian city.


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Alright, everybody, we’re all done here. It’s been a thrill. We’ve learned a lot, seen a lot, and had our minds blown a couple times. But to be honest, we’re largely displeased with the Seattle we live in today. The best of us are stuck in the webs of work, alcohol, madness, and confusion. The worst are bloated with money, loving their new condos and the fancy restaurants that come with them, watching in wonder as Ballard or Capitol Hill are cleansed, homogenized, made perfect for investment, progress, and capital.

We think capitalism is shit, and if you love it, so are you. If you hate what’s happening to your neighborhood but find yourself powerless to stop it, the first step would be to understand who is taking your power away from you. Are you resigned to being stripped of your dignity and agency? Or can you imagine a way out of the institutionalized humiliations and penalties you’re forced to endure? Our bet is that you can figure out exactly what the sources of your problems are, eventually, one day. Hurry up, though, huh?

Anyway, moving on. Seattle sure has shown us its dark and nasty underbelly. But much to our surprise, that underbelly wasn’t hidden at all. It was always there, most people just did a swell job of ignoring it. Ever since SPD cop Ian Birk murdered John T. Williams in the summer of 2010, the public has slowly become a bit more aware of the corruption, psychosis, and brutality that permeates the local police force. Unfortunately for us and everyone else who is poor and sad, all of that was old news to us and things are basically still the same. The cops just have shorter leashes now.

Last summer, the police raided a house where dozens of people from Seattle were having a party. But the dumb cops had no idea they had stormed into a gathering of psycho witches and spirits from hell. Even though they were able to beat and imprison some of them, the cops never escaped the curse that followed their foolish efforts. It fell all over them like lightning, from every direction. Perhaps the SPD will look back on 2011-2012 as the time the first shovels full of dirt began landing on their dead organization. Just before the rest of their gang goes mad with despair, we hope that they remember just what disgusting fuckers they were to the people they policed.

But you know what else happened in the last year and a half? Everything! It was like a hyper-dimensional object passed through the dull hum of the city. We have so many fond memories, but what about the building that was taken over on 10th and Union last December? Do any of you remember that? All those crazies climbing on the roof and building barricades and painting on the walls and blasting music? Yeah, well, that didn’t last; some shitbag yuppie who works at Neumos frantically called the police, and a SWAT team arrived to clear the building. Yeah, that sounds pretty fucking stupid, right? Well, right after you go spit on the bastard at Neumos who has no imagination and no spine, go walk around the corner and you’ll see what’s there now: condos rising into the air.

Sometimes, when we’re desperate and sad, we’ll go crazy at some party or on the sidewalk, we’ll drink too much or get too excited and make a scene that is so abrupt it will make us happy again. But it is best when it happens with hundreds of us, thousands of us, all together, no longer just crazy and sad but also joyous, rebellious, and free. This is best.

And let us assure you, chickens, once enough people are able to muster the courage to act together and get rid of the entities that rule over them, the destructive frenzy will be followed by some panting, some laughter, an intense feeling of love and connection with each other, and the desire to do it all again. And the reason you’ll want to do it again is because there is so much to destroy and it is only when the world is healing that our lives will be whole again. In between these frenzies there will be creation because we all will do what we can to take care of those we love and manifest a world that does not resemble this one, something we are all capable of, every day.

We’ll be honest, we didn’t grow up here. Only a handful of the contributors did. Most of us have lived here off on and on for a while. Some have settled down. All of us are generally tired, angry, and waiting for any cracks to appear in the walls. But let’s be real for a second. These aren’t our neighborhoods. Why aren’t you all defending what you love? Do you love money? Do you love stupid architecture? Do you love the idiots you vote into office? Is your boss really your friend? Are you really going to be passed around all your life to whoever is feeling generous enough to buy your time and body? Maybe it’s love that is the issue, then? Maybe they’ve stolen that from you as well. Maybe you’ve just forgotten.

Well, we’re clearly the people to tell you what is, huh? No, sorry. But we do know that once you feel it again, you’ll know how to fight, to keep what you love free and safe. We know how hard it is, how hollow it can make you, but trust us, it gets better when you realize what you have to do and set about doing it. So long, thanks for everything, keep it real, keep it going, never stop, spread chaos, live freely, love your body, and be there next time.

Forever yours,
The witches and spirits of Tides of Flame


In no particular order, we would like to thank everyone who read Tides of Flame and found something worthwhile inside its pages; Matt, Kteeo, Maddy, Steve, and every other Grand Jury resister and non-cooperating prisoner of the social war; the Seattle Commune for materially and psychologically supporting us in our efforts; Brendan Kiley of The Stranger for being a good man and a fine writer; the CCEJ and Bent for obvious reasons; Left Bank Books; the former residents of Turritopsis Nutricula and all Seattle squatters; the Seattle Solidarity Network for pissing off landlords and bosses; all the various writers who have contributed to the newspaper over the last year and a half—your words have made this possible (and sorry for the edits you got mad about way back when); Ed Mead, Mark Cook, everyone who still fights, still resists, still struggles after all the heartbreak, broken promises, and shattered dreams; the Highline for getting us drunk and holding anarchist events; the Cockpit for allowing anarchist debauchery and madness a couple times; the wage slaves of Bauhaus and Hot Mama’s for not throwing out all of our magazines; The Wildcat for being what it is; UMOJA Peace Center; Omari for keeping us in the loop; Puget Sound Anarchists dot org for keeping everyone up to speed; Christopher Frizzelle of The Stranger for giving us a positive review once; GLITUR; the Grrrl Army, the Oakland Commune for inspiring us; anyone who ever printed and distributed this paper just because they liked it; all of the fantastic nighttime rebels (stay wild & free!), our comrades, our families, and each other.


Everyone who voted for the tyrannical and murderous system we still live under; The Stranger for encouraging its readers to vote yes for a new condo/jail on 12th and for encouraging mindless consumerism and distraction; every single facet of governance in Seattle, especially the corrupt and vile employees of the SPD; every stupid liberal who legitimizes police terror and violence with their inane words and shallow thinking; every right-wing psychopath that cheers when the state kills someone; Mayor Mike McGinn for being a worthless, lying maggot; the city council for sniffing his ass while he shits on everyone; The Seattle Weekly for being a worthless pile of crap; Jonah Spangenthal-Lee and Sean Whitcomb for being disgusting pig lovers; the architects of the Capitol Hill Seattle blog for promoting and encouraging gentrification; Central District News; all of the developers that have destroyed Capitol Hill; all of the rich idiots that allowed them to; loss prevention agents and rent-a-cops in general; all snitches everywhere, especially those who incriminated people now facing charges for May Day; Phoenix Jones and his pathetic stooges; and YOU if you’re an asshole.

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On Witches

As it turns out, many people I know wept when they watched the video Leah-Lynn Plante made just before she was taken to a federal holding facility. It made a lot of people burst and begin to let out some of the sadness, so deep and heavy that the world is exposed, the beauty and the nothingness posed in stark contrast to one another.

When I walk around on the streets and look into peoples’ eyes I wonder if they know what is going on. I ready myself for bad news, become numb when it arrives, and slowly learn to accept the reality we all live in. Our enemy could come at any moment, just as they always could have, but now I know they are coming and that we are stronger than they are. On the bus, waiting in line at the store, or drinking in the bar, I wonder about witches.

How did it get this way? Have we really been fighting the inquisitors for this long? And what is it that our opponent actually fears? Because it is most certainly not just broken windows, spray paint, and newspapers like this one. Whenever they come after us, their first move is always to isolate us, to quarantine us from the public who are meant to be terrified by images on the nightly news of evil demons appearing out of the ether.

If I had to explain it simply, I would say that our enemy is afraid of what we do say, consistently and always to whoever asks. All too often, especially in the social world, what we say cannot be listened to for very long. Most people just want to enjoy what they can, think of the small stuff, etc. But there are all those who I keep meeting who are down for anything that isn’t this, people who get that no one should be living within these straight lines and that the world should be free. When we all begin to gather, those of us who think this way, when there are more and more of us, it is like what’s written in the books. This is what the rebellion is: the contagion, the frenzy, and the joy. Always and forever, this is what our enemy fears.

If I had to tell you something, I’d say this: we need to get the fuck out. There’s too many people in this city, everyone has to pay in order to exist, and the sooner we abandon the rulers who think they can own everything, the sooner they’ll have nothing and we’ll have everything. I know that sounds simple, but it gets even more so. All we have to do is leave, as many of us as possible and as quickly as we can. And not just leave but also to figure out how not to live like we have been, dependent on things we do not understand. To learn how to forget the languages of money and control, to live from what the land freely gives, to receive rather than take. We have to leave this old world behind, and the only way to do so is to forget it, completely.

But there are powerful people who won’t let us forget. They remind us every day that this is the way things are. When they burn us, torture us, or imprison us, they aim to make us live according to their laws of fear and cowardice. But we have never been able to live in that world, and this has lead us into endless trouble. They’ll never beat us because we just keep popping up, despite their best efforts.

Basically, this all was to say that witches are witches and the world is the world and nothing can stop the flood that is streaming around our bodies and pushing us forward into the same future that even our enemies cannot avoid. This is all going to end.

By the way everyone watching the debates and elections: anarchists aren’t gonna destroy everything. They are. And you are voting so they can do it. Congratulations on your last vote for the last president in the last days of the last sad gasps of this old and vanquished empire.


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Keep Smiling – Keep Struggling: Letter from Imprisoned Grand Jury Resister Kteeo

October 17, 2012

Hey y’all,
I want to thank all of you for your support; it is all too often that support work gets overlooked—but it is important that people know that I wouldn’t be able to do what I am doing without the support of all of you and without the hard work of support teams as well as my friends and family. So another huge thank you.

I am doing fine thanks in large part to all of you—but in saying that I am reminded of what every moment on the inside reminds me, that every prisoner is a political prisoner. Hopefully one day we will build the necessary networks so that all of the incredible women that I am in here with (and other people in the same situation) are afforded the same type of support that you all have given me. Not only as a way to strengthen their resolve but also to benefit their children. I say that because in here you learn quick that jail/prison does not only effect the incarcerated.

Anyway, with all of that said I want to be clear that I am very grateful for all of the support that I have received, just sharing some thoughts.

So thank you all again—and a big shout out to my family and their unwavering support.

Keep Smiling – Keep Struggling

In solidarity,

P.S. I apologize for how long some of you have had to wait for replies on letters. Postage is a bit of an issue—but I treasure every letter.

Katherine Olejnik #42592-086
FDC SeaTac,
P.O. Box 13900
Seattle, WA 98198

Kteeo is specifically interested in news and information about the Basque region, and reading material related to post-colonial linguistic theory.  You can send her books through any large bookstore (Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc)–simply use the address above as the shipping address.

To add funds directly to Kteeo’s commissary so she can buy more stamps (etc), see the directions posted here.

Matthew Kyle Duran #42565-086
FDC SeaTac
P.O. Box 13900
Seattle, WA 98198

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October 22, 2012 · 8:53 am