Introduction – Slingshot #102

Slingshot is an independent radical newspaper published in Berkeley since 1988.

It is easy to look at all the problems in the world and get confused about what are just symptoms and what are the root causes of the many struggles currently underway. It is crucially important to know which is which, because when communities organize to address a problem but we’re only attacking the symptom without dealing with the underlying social systems creating the symptoms, we’re bound to fail.

So for example while particular corporations build particular factories that pollute particular neighborhoods, it is futile to tackle this problem one factory or one company at a time. The underlying problem is an economic and political system that concentrates power — the idea of distant, faceless people owning shares in corporations in the first place. And even more deeply, a system of competition and private ownership that sucks meaning out of the world by reducing our lives and the natural world to an endless pursuit of economic growth, efficiency, and profit.

All around us, we’re facing the dramatic fallout from the recent economic recession. Recessions are unavoidable parts of the capitalist economy — they aren’t a problem with the system, they are the system. But rather than undermining support for the system itself, people are reacting to the recession by chasing symptoms. Under all of this emotion, it can be hard to see the more basic reality. The capitalist system is killing the planet. Our lives are more and more controlled by economic, technological and political systems that can seem inevitable and natural, but aren’t.

The situation, however, is far from hopeless. Frustration is building on a mass level — not just in a punk ghetto but everywhere. Crisis on this scale can produce massive and rapid shifts in priorities. Crucial to this process is figuring out the real target for our collective energies, and avoiding wasting it on distractions.

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Meanwhile, while we were working on this issue, we got news of an adverse court ruling against a long-term squatted house where many of us live. This is the raw, ugly face of what ownership, money and power really mean. While people have been using this house for years — in part as cost-free housing for travelers, musicians and artists allowing people to work on projects like Slingshot rather than being tied down to a job — to the system it is just a piece of real estate that is only meaningful to the extent it earns profit for someone. Our lives are much more meaningful, real and full of pleasure than the system’s bank balances or the absurd laws it uses to guard them.

We’ll laugh in the face of its grim police if necessary because we’ll always be free while the system of private property and means to a pointless end will always be doomed.

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Slingshot is always looking for new writers, artists, editors, photographers, translators, distributors, etc. to make this paper. If you send something written, please be open to editing.

Editorial decisions are made by the Slingshot Collective but not all the articles reflect the opinions of all collectives members. We welcome debate and constructive criticism.

Thanks to the people who made this: Aaron, Alex, Apple, Bird, Booker T & the MGs, Brendan, Dee, Eggplant, Gregg, Heather, Jason, Joseph, Julia, Kathryn, Kermit, Kerry, Leona, Lesley, Lew, Owen, PB, Rena, Sandy, Shannon, Shirley Dean (RIP), Stephanie, Tree, Will.

Slingshot New Volunteer Meeting

Volunteers interested in getting involved with Slingshot can come to the new volunteer meeting on Sunday, March 21, 2010 at 4 p.m. at the Long Haul in Berkeley (see below.)

Article Deadline & Next Issue Date

Submit your articles for issue 103 by April 17, 2010 at 3 p.m.

Volume 1, Number 102, Circulation 19,000

Printed January 29, 2010

Slingshot Newspaper

Sponsored by Long Haul

3124 Shattuck Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94705

Phone (510) 540-0751 •

Circulation Information

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Slingshot Back Issues

We’ll send you a random assortment of back issues of Slingshot and other publications for the cost of postage: Send $3 for 2 lbs. or $5 for 5 lbs. Free if you’re an infoshop or library. Or drop by our office with cash or check to Slingshot 3124 Shattuck Ave. Berkeley, CA 94705.