8 – On the Beach – Killing the Doom loop in our head

By Jesse D. Palmer

In the face of climate collapse, brutal wars, rising fascism and increasing economic inequality — when are we going to walk out on our meaningless rat-race jobs that are killing the Earth, enriching our enemies and crushing our spirits? Let’s stop succumbing to the narrative of doom — that it is too late for everything lovely and wonderful about our lives and the world. Even if it is too late, wouldn’t we rather spend our last days struggling for a world worth living in? We’re still alive now, which means we still have choices about how we’ll spend today. How we direct our energy matters in terms of whether our lives are meaningful, focused and pleasurable — and also because directing energy towards those we love, our communities and the earth is our only shot at making the collapses we’re experiencing less dreadful, and perhaps even positive. When systems no longer serving human happiness are cast into chaos or collapse, better solutions can take their place if we build them. 

Okay — let me confess — I want to see a silver lining in the dark clouds, but it’s a struggle. I feel overwhelmed by the violence in Gaza and the grim climate news. Temperature records keep getting shattered but fossil fuels are still dominant. Why can’t people stop killing each other? I don’t want to make a Slingshot issue without some hope or inspiration that somehow we shall overcome… but am I just pretending?

Life and society don’t have to be like this — we shouldn’t accept this shit. There’s nothing terrible about human beings — rather we are curious, creative, caring, fun-loving and passionate. Without the chains our systems and our technologies have forged, our lives could be full of wonder, pleasure and joy. We gotta avoid sorting people into clumsy boxes — oppressors and oppressed — which objectify both. Dehumanization is what allows us to harm and kill each other. 

What is wrong are systems that ignore human values, desires and the Earth. Black and white thinking over-simplifies complex problems — the solutions we need require admitting we don’t know all the answers and being able to stay present with the gray areas.

Writing articles is a form of self-therapy – working out the things that are bugging me such as this floating sense of doom. I want to be as hopeful as the Slingshotcharacter I channel in my articles — but the past few weeks I’ve been spending way too much time checking the internet stoking my anxiety but not doing much concrete other than publishing this zine. Is this what burnout feels like?

Our psychological standpoint matters – is the glass half empty or half full? Not just in terms of whether we feel happy, but in terms of our perception about the situation we’re in, which informs the solutions that seem possible. If we focus on doom, it can put us in a hopeless, isolated and fearful place where we are unable to imagine solutions or a world of abundance and possibilities. What if we start with love and the connected emotion we get while being part of a community? We can acknowledge suffering that is happening in the world and the possibility that we’re doomed but still see that there are billions of people living lives with a measure of happiness, freedom, pleasure and a future — and fight like hell for that life for as many people as possible — including ourselves. 

And yet — I can’t seem to write this article. It feels futile to keep writing Slingshot articles condemning the system while the world around me gets worse and worse. 

Is this zine its own form of rat race?

Constant exposure to our screens feels like it is pushing more people towards a doom orientation — whereas if we based our mood on our lived experiences that aren’t usually so terrible, we might feel more positive. Violence, crisis and catastrophe get more clicks than day-to-day life. It is impossible for internet algorithms to represent millions of people waking up in peace, eating oatmeal, kissing our loved ones, getting the kids off to school, and breathing sweet air while feeling the warm sun. 

These horrors are not our inevitable destiny. Horrible lives and horrible deaths are pathologies – all of us individually struggle to avoid these terrible outcomes, so let’s struggle together to create social structures that value life and dignity. 

I felt so stuck with this article that I said “fuck it” and took work off to go to the beach at Lands End in San Francisco. I don’t want Slingshot to make me feel trapped in a rut. Maybe I should quit and enjoy myself while I still can? 

As I stood in the icy water, I started thinking how when I’m in a grind, my emotions turn towards hopelessness and doom and writing an inspirational article feels fake.  For a couple of hours, I just watched the waves and let my mind go blank. I started feeling a little better and I laughed at how hard it is for me to just exist. I feel like I have to justify myself by doing stuff, but constantly keeping busy feeds my sense of doom… 

When there’s an earthquake, war, fire, hurricane or flood, people spring to action not only to help themselves but also neighbors and strangers. We’re in that moment now — let’s move beyond social paralysis even though the global scale of climate change, capitalism and war feel overwhelming. It is okay to admit we’re not sure what to do or what will help — but do everything we can anyway. Let’s be on the life team — the joy team — the freedom team. Not just in terms of what we fight for — but the way we live our lives and the feeling in our hearts and heads. There’s a lot of reasons to feel doomed right now, but perhaps the darkest moment is before the dawn.

Maybe I should have titled this article “Don’t read this article! — go to the beach.” Is keeping us busy so we’re psychologically unable to imagine or fight for our liberation part of the way the system maintains itself? The system’s imperatives penetrate our consciousness and our activist projects. Standing on the beach is the opposite of drudgery — it feeds a sense of possibility, energy, tenderness and oneness with other humans and creatures.

To avoid burning out so we can stay engaged and present with radical projects, we have to balance all the work with something beyond ourselves and beyond the rat race — the beach, the sky, love, creativity, fun, life. 

7 – People’s Park is Still Here – and it needs your help

By JP, Animal Cracker & Carrion Baggage

People’s Park in Berkeley is still free — a wild community commons surrounded by a grim, privatized, dying empire — beckoning us to join in its defense this winter and beyond. The University of California (UC) has been trying to destroy the Park since it was created in 1969 when thousands of people seized vacant UC land to build something beautiful outside the system. The Park has never been just a nostalgia trip — it nurtures a living grassroots, DIY counter-culture community.

UC’s latest gambit is to build a 1,100 bed, $312 million dorm on the land. After last year’s police attack during which UC police cut down 47 trees in the 12 hours they controlled the Park, Park defenders got a court stay against further construction through a CEQA lawsuit. In response, UC officials and assembly member Buffy Wicks got the California legislature to pass AB 1307 specifically to overrule the Court’s decision. Governor Newsom signed the law in September — he is auditioning for a presidential run.

According to Park defenders: “With the new CEQA laws created by AB 1307, the stay preventing People’s Park from destruction could be lifted at any time. That means we should be planning and preparing for land defense. There are several affinity groups that have specific tactics for Park support or you can form an affinity group with friends you trust and would like to work with.” UC is most likely to attack when students leave for winter break in December and January. 

Beyond playing cat-and-mouse with UC’s police and tearing down their fences, now’s the time to visit the Park. For however long. If it’s too much to bear being there or your time is strapped then go there anyways even for a few minutes. Bring something positive: a friend, plant life, art, a revolutionary idea. If you can’t be in the Park, bring it up in conversation with a friend, when you plant life, make art or have a revolutionary idea. The Park is both symbolic and a real place where the movement grows the new world.

The City and the University have spent years trying to isolate the Park by framing it as dangerous — filled with the homeless (read people of color), drug dealers, ex-cons — people who should be pushed out of sight. Treating humans like trash and having some containment zone where the wealthy beautiful workers don’t have to see them — or drugs, wealth inequality, bad health, mental illness, bad teeth, alcoholism, bad jokes, bad music choices, death, bad fashion, bad attitudes. All are present at the Park — and in society. The hippies and students created the Park and we have maintained it to engage with these problems. Our oppressors have instead created toxic waste, artificial intelligence and promise a life of meaningless work while they endeavor to get us to fight their fucked up wars against people of color worldwide, the Earth, the Park, Russia, Fentanyl — you name it.

As you navigate the Park these days, it’s important to be respectful of everyone drawn there, and to also think strategically towards building a world other than the current dystopian hellscape. Even then, even with all the suffering that has washed ashore in the Park during these strange times, wacky 1960s-era autonomous zone vibes continue to emanate from the space, reminding us all of those Situationist dreams to “seize the means of leisure,” as Mario Savio once put it, in his lesser known speech about People’s Park, in which he also claimed the space is the starting point of the Age of Aquarius.

Some great ways to help: Text SAVETHEPARK to 41372 to get on the text message bulldozer alert list. You will only be texted if there is an urgent call to defend the Park. Every time they try to come take the Park, we can all show up and fuck shit up. 

You can also follow the Park news at various student-led websites that have sprouted up, including PeopleSpark.org and DefendThePark.org. Have eyes on and in the Park. If you see anything that indicates fencing call 510-229-0527 immediately.

Take heart, Park Defenders! There is much still left to defend. The flag of the Resistance still flies.

Forthcoming Podcast Celebrating Black History of People’s Park

Keep an eye out for Bella Volz-Broughton’s forthcoming podcast, “Black Space: An Unknown Black History of People’s Park,” which she announced the launch of at the UC Berkeley Black Studies Collaboratory in September 2023. Video from this scholarly event in which she spoke alongside Dr. Paul Lee can be viewed here: youtu.be/G662UQwaH3U. It is great to see more attention being directed towards Black-led efforts in the co-creation of People’s Park! (H-Cat)

6 – Power to the underground – freedom to Hong Kong

By Earl Tree

From April to June 2023, I was in Hong Kong for personal reasons, part of a first wave of foreigners able to enter the Special Administrative Region (SAR) without restrictions in the aftermath of the 2019 protests, the following crackdown, and the pandemic. I was curious to see what the city was like now after all these massive social changes. Like many, I had been inspired by Hong Kong in 2019 and its brave attempts to defend democracy and autonomy in the face of repression. My trip’s timing coincidentally seemed to be just right, too: I would be in the city during the first May Day and June 4 Tienanmen Square anniversary since the end of the protests and the pandemic. With all the limitations and privileges as a White American tourist who spoke no Cantonese or Mandarin, I was curious: what might happen and what might resistance now look like? 

Hong Kong is a post-colony. British rule ended and was peacefully transferred to the People’s Republic of China (PRC) in 1997 under a Joint Declaration which mandated that the PRC maintain Hong Kong’s separate economic and political systems until 2047, essentially providing for a gradual incorporation into the Mainland. The result was Hong Kong as a hybrid, semi-autonomous nation-city-state. Politically, the PRC maintained a mostly hands off approach for many years allowing Hongkongers many, many freedoms completely out-of-bounds for Mainlanders. Trouble was always under the surface, however. Year after year, the PRC slowly tried to assert its authority over Hong Kong by changing small things one-by-one, always fearing its lack of control over the SAR. Pressure kept building until it broke. The first major crack was 2014’s Umbrella Revolution, a mass protest movement led by students that successfully defeated PRC proposed anti-democratic reforms. But it was just a prelude to what came next. The 2019 “Revolution of Our Times” centered, at least initially, around a proposed extradition bill with vague language which allowed for extradition from liberal Hong Kong to the authoritarian Mainland. Protests escalated throughout the year into a full-scale uprising by millions that questioned everything about Hong Kong society.

When the 2019 extradition protests started, it seemed like pro-democracy and localist forces could win. But the pandemic emptied the streets and killed the movement and its defenses and the counter-revolution began. Beijing rammed a national security law down Hong Kong’s throat in the summer of 2020. The draconian law established the new, vague crimes of secession, subversion, terrorism, and collusion with foreign forces. Pro-democracy organizations shuttered across the city in fear. Then elections were postponed for over a year under the emergency pretext of the pandemic. Drama within the Legislative Council culminated in the mass resignation of all 19 non-pro-Beijing legislators and the government said it would disqualify nearly 70% of councilors and that they would be held financially responsible for their election. Within days, 217 of the 490 councilors had resigned to avoid million dollar fines. The election process was completely hollowed out to ensure that only “patriots” govern Hong Kong.  Beijing used the national security law to eliminate the free press. Books on sensitive topics are being banned. Schools plan on implementing new “patriotic” curricula, emphasizing the benefits of the PRC, and teachers are losing their jobs for having supported the protests.

I found the mood in Hong Kong to be subdued and depressed. Most individuals from the movement that I talked to felt that everything was lost. Many said that things might as well be the same as on the Mainland. Several were considering leaving the country, especially those with young children. Events on the ground seemed to affirm this perspective. In mid-April, Joe Wong and Denny To, former leaders of the independent, pro-democracy Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions (which had disbanded in the wake of the new national security law in October 2021), announced that they had applied legally for a permit from the Hong Kong police for a May Day demonstration in Victoria Park. This was a very bold move considering that earlier in April, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP)’s Hong Kong Federation of Trade Unions had bowed to public pressure from Beijing to withdraw their own application for May Day activities! Right up to the last minute, it seemed as if the May Day event might happen. Then, on April 26, Joe Wong was whisked away by police. Five hours later, he tearfully emerged announcing a withdrawal of the permit application and refusing to discuss what had happened, citing the national security law. In a separate statement, Denny To said that Wong had been “emotionally broken.”

The tone was set for the much more controversial June 4 Tienanmen Square anniversary, also commemorated in Victoria Park. With all of the organizations that had sponsored the anniversary disbanded, with the removal of all monuments to the event, and little opportunity for the free press to discuss it, there were few expectations. The government, of course, made sure its hardline perspective was clear in advance. Pressed by the media on the legality of any commemoration of the event, officials would only grimly repeat that, “everyone should act in accordance with the law.” Meanwhile, activists were harassed in advance by police for planning to hand out candles, and a carnival for “patriotic” consumer groups was announced for Victoria Park on June 4 for the first time ever. On June 4 itself, 6,000 police were deployed across the city, with stop-and-frisk and detention for any “suspicious” individuals approaching the park. The city felt like it was crawling with police that day, with small squads around every corner, even in distant neighborhoods like Mong Kok. 

And yet, this past June 4 is a good example of how, despite diminished expectations, under harsh repression, Hongkongers’ still defiantly resist government oppression. Despite the somber mood, many concerned groups are engaged in all kinds of interesting and powerful projects aimed at building an alternative, inclusive, and democratic Hong Kong.1 Despite the iron fist, people did protest and commemorate Tienanmen Square. Pro-democracy activist Chan Po-ying was detained and eventually released near the park while holding an LED candle and two flowers. The day before, activists Kwan Chun-pong and Lau Ka-yee were detained, but not before announcing a 24 hour hunger strike in honor of the Tienanmen Square victims. And artist Sanmu Chen had to be dragged away while shouting at bystanders: “Do not forget June 4! Do not forget June 4! Hongkongers, don’t be afraid of them! Do not forget tomorrow is June 4!” All told, around 32 people were detained June 3 and June 4, willing to risk everything for the right to publicly protest.

Another bold and creative June 4 action came via a group called the Baak Choi Collective. They felt confident enough to host a silent “tai chi event” via Facebook at a public market! The Baak Choi Collective had established a living space and art studio in the old working class, but gentrifying, neighborhood of To Kwa Wan. They host numerous art events and print their own zines. They also engaged with the local Punjabi immigrant community (Hong Kong is a relatively diverse city with several small, but important minority groups; South Asians are ~1.4% of the population.) It’s worth noting that this neighborhood also had a large, hipster cinema and restaurant that sold mixed-language political books and films; they even screened, to a packed audience, the recent Swiss film Unrest, a period piece on Kropotkin’s travels among the anarchist watchmakers of the Jura Valley! The Baak Choi Collective had also made connections with outlying farms and sold or gave away produce at the local market. Addressing issues at the nexus of land, housing, and space seemed a common, fundamental theme with many organized groups in Hong Kong. 

And for good reason: these are the critical issues of daily life in the SAR. Hong Kong is one of the densest and most expensive places on Earth. Most people live crammed with family in small flats in giant high rises. Hundreds of thousands of heavily exploited Indonesian and Filipina domestic workers in the city are legally forced to live in frequently unlivable and abusive conditions with their employers and are lucky to even get a day off; each weekend they ecstatically take to the sidewalks and parks for a brief reprieve. Street markets and the street as public space are perhaps the most essential elements of Hong Kong culture and identity: mass riots were sparked in Mong Kok in 2016 after police tried to enforce street vendor regulations during the New Year. There is homelessness in Hong Kong and the city is notorious for its “coffin homes” where thirty people might live in stacked bunks in a 45 mapartment, a fate that often afflicts elderly, single men or those struggling with addiction. Historically, there were powerful squatter movements with entire neighborhoods built from squats. Today, many of these communities have been legally incorporated or were granted public housing, but squatting still exists in many forms despite its supposed nonexistence. I saw many actively squatted homes in rural areas, including in wilderness areas that had supposedly been cleared of squatters years ago. Meanwhile, the city suffers from severe inequality: Hong Kong is home to the second-highest number of billionaires of any city in the world, and the top 10% earns ~40% of all income. These issues affect Hong Kong’s rural New Territories and islands as well. Rapacious real estate forces and corrupt officials have frequently colluded in land grabs from traditional communal village lands, contributing to the suburbanization of the countryside and several notable fights over farm evictions.

I found out about the Baak Choi Collective from another collective, REO Housing Estates. They’re an arts nonprofit that runs an entire multi-story building in the crowded Quarry Bay neighborhood. Each floor hosts art studios and performance spaces or affordable housing for the artists themselves, as well as a top floor with a mixed-language radical bookstore, plus a zine library. I had found REO Housing Estates from yet another bookstore. One morning on rural Lamma Island, I stumbled into the Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow collective, a small, indie non-English bookstore with movement literature. Mei was working that day, and she was very helpful and kind, telling me how they were a group of ex-students who had moved to the quieter, cheaper, and very different space on the island. Lamma Island is a mix of touristy getaway and traditional fishing village, with community gardens and hiking trails; there aren’t even cars on the island. In this atmosphere, things were much more relaxed and private. The island was actually the only place in all of Hong Kong I saw that still had an active Lennon Wall, walls from the protest movement turned into spaces where anyone could post anything, including political slogans and graffiti, often tacked down as a post-it note. 

Another collective that I wish I had been able to spend more time with was the Red Dog Cafe. Located in the working class Kowloon Tong, I had trouble connecting due to the language barrier. But the space was great and doing amazing work: on top of running a coffee shop, they hosted organizing meetings, ran a vast anarchist library, and engaged in land defense and domestic worker outreach. I also had the chance to visit a nearby non-English radical bookstore that had gotten some recent press attention for hosting movement art and a photography exhibition of the successful 2013 independent dockworkers’ strike on its ten year anniversary. I also want to note that there is still a lot of movement prisoner support, often at great risk to those participating, with several cases of prison visitors showing up and being arrested themselves.

I also spent some time staying in the “notorious” Chungking Mansions, a dark, maze-like city within the city of over 4,000 people known for its cheap hostels, vibrant immigrant communities, and gray market activities. It’s said that people from every country on Earth will enter and exit the building every year and that perhaps a fifth of all of Africa’s cellphones pass through this building on the way to market. My hostel was a former family textile factory. Jessie, the owner and management, had wanted to preserve her family’s legacy in the face of aggressive buy-out offers and code enforcement, and had converted it to the current hostel to stay afloat through foreign travelers’ money. She also ran a small art studio and daycare out of the space, and her family would drop in and out frequently. The walls were covered in posters from the protests, the fridge had a ZAD sticker, and the lyrics of Hong Kong’s unofficial national (protest) anthem, “Glory to Hong Kong,” lined our bedroom walls (in July this year, the High Court surprisingly rejected a government attempt to ban the song, but it’s now on appeal.) To me, more than any other space, this place represented Hong Kong’s spirit of resistance, a spirit that has gone deeper than just an expression of politics, down into a vibrant, independent culture constantly recreating itself against all odds. Though the PRC may be able to keep the streets quiet for now, though it seems to hold all the power, it seems to me impossible that it will ever be able to put the genie of freedom back in the bottle.

In the U.S., it might be hard to connect with struggles in China and Hong Kong. The U.S. is a particularly insular culture and American anarchists/activists can be no exception. Meanwhile, stuck between the U.S.’s aggressive, imperialist, and xenophobic anti-PRC propaganda on the one hand, and forced on the other hand to hear fellow leftists’ warmed-over Stalinism, which ignorantly parrots the CCP’s party line, sees a foreign plot in every act of resistance, and somehow finds anything liberatory in a supposedly “Communist” country where billionaires proudly promote the “996” work culture of 12 hour shifts/6 days per week, it can be hard to find a footing. But the left must be critical and it must be internationalist; we ignore China and its social issues and social movements to our own detriment. We must find ways to stand in concrete solidarity despite barriers of borders, languages, and cultures. Especially since there is a vocal, active Chinese diaspora in the U.S. (too often sidelined or dismissed while also facing down anti-Asian violence like the 2021 Atlanta spa shooting or pro-PRC nationalist violence like the 2022 Laguna Woods shooting) and around the world. 

Anarchists have played a key role in the struggles in Hong Kong, a movement that has shaken the PRC to its core. And nowhere was more tactically innovative than Hong Kong during the 2019 global revolutionary wave. With issues of housing, space, and land use in the city and its hinterlands reaching a critical mass in the U.S., too, and facing down our own rising specter of authoritarianism and repression (2024 election, I’m looking at you…), there is much we can learn from Hong Kong’s creative struggles for grassroots democracy and a better way of living. 

Further Resources

-Bonham Tree Aid- UK-based prisoner support organization for Hongkongers. The only one able to take international/monetary donations? 

– gongchao.org- A great resource for information on current struggles in China. Recently published a text available in Spanish, Revueltas en China.

Anarchism in the Chinese Revolution by Arif Dirlik- Overview of the birth of Chinese anarchism and its surprising influence, including crucial events that led up to Mao’s/the CCP’s victory in the Civil War in 1949.

Hong Kong Free Press– One of the last critical, independent newspapers in Hong Kong, English language.

South China Morning Post– Hong Kong’s English language newspaper of record. It has a strong pro-Beijing bias, but it generally reports facts accurately.

City on Fire: The Fight for Hong Kong by Antony Dapiran- Comprehensive summary of the 2019 upheaval in Hong Kong, though its narrative ends before COVID and the crackdown.

1Due to the harsh nature of repression around the issue of democracy in Hong Kong (or anything related to the PRC), and with Chinese government officials more than willing to pursue and punish opponents even internationally, I’ve anonymized and mixed-and-matched names and details around many of these groups, individuals, events, etc.

5 – Non-profit Unions – equity for overlooked workers

By Jack Meeks

I’m helping to organize a union at the non-profit where I work and I think unionized non-profits can play an important part in the transition to a more just, non-exploitative society. Non-profits play an interesting and dual role in capitalist society. They provide social services and lobby for progressive social change, while at the same time allowing rich individuals and corporations to avoid paying the taxes. Non-profits’ role has become more important as the state has slashed social services. Non-profits let entrepreneurs who’ve gotten rich exploiting workers to push their visions of what social change should look like. 

Unions for non-profit workers can help influence the direction of social change that non-profits are advancing. As many people work in the non-profit sector for idealistic reasons, non-profit union drives can not just help workers, but improve the local communities where non-profits are located. Most unions primarily just negotiate wages, benefits, and working conditions with employers, but non-profit unions can help make the connection of workplace issues relating to a social agenda which then can possibly advance a broader political struggle. 

I work for a non-profit that answers the phones for 988, the new national suicide phone number. My employer is a good organization and provides a socially needed service. We have a core staff of on-call program associates who answer the phones, however the vast majority of the people who answer the phone are volunteers.

Unions are regarded by those seeking revolutionary change as a way of achieving transformation, improving class consciousness, and of course winning demands. Many non-profits are unionized.

We are in the beginning stages of forming a non-profit union with help from SEIU 1021. Tides.org is a San Francisco Bay Area non-profit that has had a successful union drive and now has a collective bargaining agreement with SEIU 1021. SEIU uses community unionism that pursues change outside the workplace in coalition with other like-minded community groups. 

Organizing a union at my job is a challenge as most workers, including me, work remotely. Organizing communications are usually done by personal emails and to some extent via chat while working, without mentioning the specific subject, just when to be in touch. We are a program of larger non-profit Felton.org, which is hostile to the idea of unions and has hired an anti-union law firm to advise them. Working remote adds a little zest and flavor to the union organizing effort as it requires us to be more creative in making contacts and communicating with them. 

Answering calls from suicidal people can be very stressful and demanding, however there are many times when after a shift, you feel like you have changed the world, come alive, and feel like you are on fire! The work we do is very different than most jobs, however the organ-ization of the non-profit itself is very much on the traditional business model. We provide a valuable service and workers deserve social justice and more control over our work lives. 

There has been an influx of funds to the organization since the 988 suicide hotline was created, leading to promises about raises, new equipment, etc. While a job like this cannot just be about the money one makes by working, there have been no increases in pay for years. The work site moved to a new luxurious office which is really about what management wants and is for them. The top-down work rules for dealing with our clients have more to do with management getting their numbers to look good for the 988 funding rather than making the organization client-centered. I think the important decisions about the workflow should be in the hands of the workers who take the calls. The work schedule is another issue since we are on duty 24/7. On nights where there is a full moon, there is a conscious effort to have more people on staff that night!

The 2022 Univ. of California academic workers’ strike won up to a 50% pay raise. Public school teachers unions have also won big victories recently. In one of the recent Republican presidential debates, one of the candidates claimed teachers unions were the biggest problem in America. Margaret Thatcher when she was British prime minister called unions “the enemy within.” The powers that be do not like it when the workers are organized. 

One of the more interesting slogans in the New School action was: “Labor of love is still Labor  No more unpaid work.” There is the idea that those who work for non-profits ought to have satisfaction and be content in the work that they do. I think we should have the same workers’ rights that those in other parts of the economy have. Some of the non-profits that already have unions are the ACLU, the Groundwork Collaborative, and Ecology Center of Berkeley – Farmer’s Market workers (IWW)

The Berkeley Federation of Teachers told me that they may be able to help with the union formation at my workplace by giving us solidarity and support. There has been a surge in union activity in many sectors of the economy including the service industry — Starbucks, Chipotle, and Peet’s Coffee. The increase in union organizing and strikes isn’t just about pay issues but also work rules and employer practices. 

Unions play a critical role in reducing income inequality. One of the best ways to achieve a more egalitarian society is to make union organizing easier for workers. Unions are a social justice movement that can enlist the help of communities to gain support and publicity for causes like the United Farm Workers (UFW). 

The number of strike actions has been increasing nationwide and this helps workers believe that they can have a successful union drive through organizing and work stoppages. There were 180 work stoppages in the first part of 2022 which is close to the average number of 330 strikes a year during the large social movements years of 1967-1976. The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) saw a 57% increase in union election petitions between 2021-2022. 

Capitalism is inherently crisis-prone because the capitalist economy’s relentless drive for accumulation results in its own destabilization. This is why we need worker self-management and changes in how the political power is allocated. We need non-profit unions, cooperatives and Community Unionism as strategies for any future society.

4 – The Big Fart: Here’s What Everyone Needs to Know about Fascism 

By Dagmar (Slingshot Collective, Class of ’11)

I’m an educator now, and last year I began teaching humanities classes at a college in a supposedly liberal state. Something that shocked me right away: none of my students had the faintest clue how to identify fascism.

Over the year of teaching, I tried different approaches to amend this gap in my students’ knowledge — which seems to be a gap in nearly every American’s knowledge — and honestly, I think this utter lack of education about what fascism actually is explains why we’ve slid so far into fascism in the U.S. 

If folks can’t identify even fascism, how can they resist it? So class is in session! Where does fascism come from? How is it made?

Ingredient #1 – Mass Media

Fascism is an authoritarian mode of governance intertwined with mass media. 

Mass media is a neutral tool, and isn’t necessarily fascistic by its nature. Mass media is also a very powerful tool. Nothing like it has ever existed before in recorded human history, it’s only been around about a hundred years. We are still getting a handle on it. 

Mass media allows a small number of people to control the narratives and imagery that most people encounter in their daily lives.

Mass media is like the force in Star Wars: There’s a light side to it and a dark side. It can be used to humanize others, or it can be used to dehumanize others. 

Ingredient #2 – Capitalists deflecting blame

The next key thing to understand about fascism is that it takes hold when capitalists begin trying to deflect blame from themselves for harm caused by business-as-usual capitalism. Capitalism emerges from and leads to massive forms of harm, and it is also wildly unstable, so capitalists often create allies by promising relatively stable lives to some groups of people. Capitalism leads power and money to be centralized into fewer and fewer people’s hands.

This leads to eras of mass impoverishment, in which even the people whom capitalism promised to protect are thrown into poverty. This can lead people to get mad at the capitalists.

Before mass media, it was common for bankers to be executed during times of economic downturn, such as the global recession of the 1890s, when many bankers were hanged. Eras of pervasive impoverishment are especially dangerous for capitalists. 

Think back to a moment when you were a child and you knew you did something wrong, but you didn’t want to get blamed for it. What did you do? Did you blame a sibling for breaking the vase that you smashed?

Once in second grade, I totally loudly farted while the teacher was talking in class, and the whole class fell quiet. I immediately blamed the kid next to me, but I don’t think they bought it and the whole class laughed. 

Now imagine if, rather than farting, I’d been running a political-economic regime that had led thousands of people to lose their homes, experience food insecurity, or worse. And imagine I’d let things get worse and worse until nearly everyone in society had been impacted by unnecessary forms of economic hardship. What if after years of trying to hide what I was doing, people are starting to figure it out — and they are also hurt, traumatized and angry because of the harm my economic actions have created? What do you think I’m going to do? Own up to my actions? Or blame my fart on someone else? Also, what if I’m so rich that I can hire someone to blame my fart on someone else? That’s more or less what capitalists do in times of rising fascism. They use mass media tools to elevate the voices of those who are pointing fingers and blaming anyone but the capitalists for the problems they have caused.

Ingredient #3 – Dehumanizing Minority Groups 

Fascism arises when capitalists begin deflecting blame for the poor social conditions that they caused onto minority groups — usually immigrants, queer folks, ethnic minorities, disabled people, etc. This approach is similar to “union busting,” in which capitalist bosses will hire undercover provocateurs to enter workplaces and try to pit people against each other. 

In fascism these same types of “divide and conquer” tactics are deployed against the entire populace. Capitalists would rather see society fall apart than give up their power. Their goal is to pit everyone against each other so we don’t all join together and put an end to the capitalist regime. 

Ingredient #4 – Poor Economic Conditions 

The economic doom spiral has been getting worse and worse, with escalating rates of poverty, homelessness and addiction. People in the mainstream are beginning to identify capitalism as the culprit… 

Ingredient #5 – Magical Thinking

Most Americans think fascists are mean, sinister people because we’ve been inundated with dumbed-down Hollywood storytelling that tends to portray fascists, using standard media tropes to make the audience root for the hero. 

The trouble is, fascists can be weirdly charming. In fact, cultivating an “aura” of jolliness and positivity is often part of fascist doctrines. This goes back to Hitler’s favorite philosopher, Nietzsche — Hitler literally wrote an entire book that was a sequel/riff upon Nietzsche’s work. One major thread in Nietzsche’s work is the idea that anyone who doesn’t seem like they are having a good time is fundamentally broken and should be murdered — at least according to Zarathustra, a proto-superhero that Nietzsche invented and claimed was the ultimate human being. 

This bizarre line of thinking can be compared to a relatively new form of American pop spirituality called “the Law of Attraction” that was made popular by the bestselling book The Secret, which was published in 2006. While some may take The Secret lightly, it has sold over 35 million copies, and has profoundly influenced American pop culture. According to the Law of Attraction, bad things only happen to people who “manifest” them. So basically, “Think happy thoughts—or else.” If you are a believer in this pop spiritualist movement, you’ve been trained to believe that those who experience forms of systemic harm “brought it on themselves” by not “manifesting” hard enough.

Fascism often emerges from a regime of self-policing in which people are made to feel as if they must constantly be jolly and/or “manifest” positive vibes, otherwise they will become part of an “undesirable other” category, upon which they project all that is negative about themselves. Eventually, as propaganda against “othered” groups ramps up, fascists get worked into a frenzy in which they feel that groups that have been labelled “undesirable others” need to be eliminated, and murdering a member of an othered group becomes a way that the fascist attempts to affirm their own identity.

#6 – Stir in a heavy dose of Malthusianism

Thomas Robert Malthus was a wildly problematic thinker born in the 1700s who advocated for population control. Fun fact: The supervillain Thanos was inspired by him.

Malthusian thinking has unfortunately become interwoven with Eurocentric environmentalism — that human population control is good for the planet. 

When a person is led to believe that population control must occur, they quickly get pulled into thinking about *which* populations should be controlled. And then suddenly everyone is fighting over who gets to have kids and who doesn’t, who gets to have stable living conditions, and who doesn’t. 

This is something that drives my climate scientist friends crazy. They will be trying to get the conversation going toward ending fossil fuel use — which is what we actually need to focus upon — then some Malthusian asshat will chime in and instead redirects the conversation towards population control. 

This is why decolonial, intersectional, and anti-racist frameworks are so important when we do environmental work. There is likewise a lot of deprogramming that needs to happen among environmentalists who have been subjected to Malthusian thinking and who have succumbed to this dark type of illogic.

#7 – Treating “the nation” as a princess to be rescued 

Another key feature of fascism is that it’s a fantasy roleplay where you’re supposed to rescue the nation-state you’re part of. The purveyors of fascism want you todefend ”the homeland” at all cost, including against its own denizens who have been labeled as others.

#8 – Nostalgia for some mythical past

Things have never been perfect, but fascists tend to point towards some prior era and claim things were better in that era. Better for whom?

#9 – Worship of the father figure 

At its core, fascism is just the latest iteration of an old-ass empire that still lurks among us: colonial patriarchy, a form of organizing power relations around worshipping cis-dudes while firmly enforcing binary gender relations.

#10 –Enforcing binary gender 

Fascism organizes power relations by firmly enforcing binary gender relations, while encouraging everyone to treat cis-dudes as if they are mini-kings of whatever patch of land they’ve stolen by virtue of pledging their allegiance to this nonsense.

#11 – Playing the victim

A major part of the illogic of fascism is to play the victim, while also playing the “hero” who is “rescuing” the nation-princess at the same time. Capitalists use mass media to frame anyone fighting back as the bad guys. 

Fascism always comes from a place of pain — pain that’s been misdirected against minority groups. The good way to disarm that pain can be to listen. The types of pain that tend to fuel fascism often come from a place of privilege — and it can be hard to listen to someone cry about losing access to some privilege they felt entitled to that your family never had access to to begin with. White middle class folks who have never been evicted, who have never been homeless, who have never been denied medical care all started experiencing these things for the first time in living memory, and they have not developed the coping skills and support networks to deal with these things that the rest of us have. So then their former bosses (or people who play bosses on TV) start telling them, “It wasn’t us capitalists, it was actually Minority Group X that hurt you.” That’s how they get tricked.

But at the core there’s still pain, there’s still actual material things that have happened to these people, and they are scared and ashamed and are trying to make sense of everything amidst grief and pain and guilt. They are watching family members die of poverty, they have pain in their teeth they can’t afford to fix. 

I wonder what happens if we take a moment to allow their pain to be real and voiced. Sure, work needs to be done to make sure the more privileged oppressed folks don’t hog all the airtime, but under capitalism we are all fucked. The fascists have pain too — they’ve just been tricked by the capitalists into blaming the wrong people for their pain. 

Breaking the spell – Trick #1: Listening to the experts — former fascists who have been rehabilitated. 

When it comes to breaking the spell of fascism, hearing about it from a recovered former fascist can help. Often, when students want to better understand the features of fascism, I will point them towards the work of Umberto Eco, a professor of literature and novelist who lived under Mussolini’s fascism in his youth. Eco had to write essays to please the fascists in charge at that time, and he learned about fascism in this really intimate way.

Decades later, he wrote an excellent essay, ‘Ur-Fascism,’ in which he really gets into the psychology of fascism. In this essay he goes into a number of other features of fascism beyond what I’ve described here. Even though he’s describing a fascist regime from nearly a century ago, many of the things he describes ring eerily similar to the behaviors and rhetoric of certain contemporary American politicians. 

It’s worthwhile to read Eco’s essay “Ur-Fascism” which can be found online here: https://theanarchistlibrary.org/library/umberto-eco-ur-fascism

Breaking the Spell of Fascism #2: Rolling out a vision for a better future.

As you fan away the fart fumes of fascism, the trick is to replace the delusionary vision of a non-existent better past with a real, achievable vision of a better future. For me, that vision is constantly shifting, but looks like a blend of Star Trek, Ecotopia, and Braiding Sweetgrass. But also, maybe we can’t even come up with a good vision until we start listening to everybody, until we work to heal the wounds that everyone is feeling. We have a huge task ahead of us if we are going to get to net zero emissions and heal the trauma everyone is feeling right now, including the capitalists. Honestly, I hope we don’t end up having to eat the rich; violent rebellions rarely seem to ever fix anything, but rather just leave us with different brutes in charge. My hope is that the capitalists will throw off their suits and ties and join us. Let’s build a better world, where we stay within ecological budgets and keep our planet habitable. A world that values consent more than property, where we do better at supporting and caring for each other. I know it’s possible. 

Further reading:

Readings and materials that can be useful in book groups and classrooms exploring and understanding the basic features of fascism:

  • The Last Cuentista (2022) YA novel by Donna Barba Higuera
  • Jojo Rabbit (2019) film by Taika Waititi. This really gets into the weirdly jolly, seductive nature of fascist thinking. Probably everyone should watch this before it’s too late
  • Umberto Eco’s essay “Ur-Fascism”
  • https://theanarchistlibrary.org/library/umberto-eco-ur-fascism
  • Performing Truth: Works of Radical Memory for Times of Social Amnesia by LM Bogad (2022)
  • The Book Thief (2005) novel by Markus Zusak.
  • On Totalitarianism, Hannah Arendt
  • Black Mirror s3:e5, “Men Against Fire”
  • “Environmental Malthusianism and Demography” by Emily Kalancher Merchant 
  • “Open Letter to the Lambda Awards” by Joshua Whitehead 
  • When Did Indians Become Straight?: Kinship, the History of Sexuality, and Native Sovereignty by Mark Rifkin (2011)
  • “The many genders of old India” by Gopi Shankar

– My Grandmother’s Hands: Racialized Trauma and the Pathway to Mending Our Hearts and Bodies by Resmaa Menakem

– “One Book Destroyed Western Civilization. No, It’s Not The Bible” by Jessica Wildfire (OK Doomer)

3 – Leap Day Action Night

By P. Wingnut

February 29, 2024 is Leap Day — how come it is not a holiday with the day off? Since it’s an extra day and only comes along every four years, shouldn’t we get to do something special and exciting — better than all the other days? The answer is yes — you can do something exceptional for Leap Day, but strictly on a DIY basis. The bosses, the government and other forces of wretchedness hope you won’t hear that since 2000, Slingshot has declared a universal general strike, jamboree, street party and be-in each Leap Day everywhere. If you’re reading this, you are part of the organizing committee / conspiracy and all you have to do between now and Leap Day is to talk with your friends and community, figure out a time and place to meet and what you want to do with your extra day — be it carouse, rebel, redecorate, enhance, promenade, engage, shindig, dissent or soirée.

The system is unsustainable — it’s crumbling around us while the environment teeters on the brink of collapse. It’s easy to feel gloomy and fearful. A lot of people are wallowing in doom, denial or resignation — which only decreases our chances for survival. Some of us yearn for a different world based on cooperation, pleasure, love, and harmony with the Earth, but it’s hard to know how to fight back or how to make a difference. You can’t revolt alone — the structures of oppression and destruction are designed to feel inevitable, unavoidable and overwhelmingly powerful. 

Someone or a small group of people has to take the first terrifying step off the sidewalk and into the streets to create change. The right time to revolt is right now, but the precise day is arbitrary. Revolt transforms those who make it. We were not put here to passively go along with the end of the world nor to aid and abet those who profit from murdering the Earth. 

In 2000, in the wake of the huge protests against the World Trade Organization in Seattle, some of us in Berkeley created what we think was the first Leap Day Action Night.  One tiny meeting organized to a night of mobile disruptive tactics with music blaring from a bike mounted sound system in front of banks and chainstores throughout downtown Berkeley. We carried finger puppets, not the huge puppets you sometimes see at tamer protests, because you can run while wearing a finger puppet. Confused businesses just shut down and the police didn’t know how to react. 

Leap Day 2004 saw decentralized protests in Berkeley, Houston, New York, and Manchester, England. In Berkeley, black clad marchers carrying a “closing” sign threw glitter, foam “bricks” and popcorn at dozens of chainstores and banks while using a pretty red bow to tie doors shut. The action was festive yet determined with no arrests. 

In 2012, right in the wake of the Occupy Movement, we had a funeral for capitalism in Oakland, complete with a real coffin and a brass band leading a procession through the streets to a dance party. The police had taken our camps, but they couldn’t make us love our bosses or the 1%. The 2016 Leap Night coincided with San Francisco Critical Mass bike ride — it’s hard to improve on critical mass. 

The 2020 Leap Day action in Berkeley unfolded right before the pandemic shut down all public events…. A rowdy downtown march with a brass band led by a giant paper mâché frog invaded banks that are funding climate change and left piles of compost. The march also handed out heart-shaped “climate solution” awards at cooperatives and Berkeley’s Bike station bicycle parking garage. 

We refuse to be consumers, viewers and objects to be managed. Let’s build a world that’s awake and engaged — shifting the focus from things and entertainment to firsthand experience. Life is too short and the world too beautiful to waste more time muddling through tedious jobs, polluted air, swaggering billionaires and endless wars.

Leap day offers an extra day and invites us to shake off our routine. The capitalist system, its technology and its distractions are fragile. Alternatives exist. February 29 offers an invitation. How do you really want to live? What would you do if you were living life like it really mattered? What will you do with your extra day? Plan ahead. Leap for it!

Email slingshotcollective@protonmail.com and we’ll send you free copies of a 23 x 35 inch Leap Day Action Night poster. 

If you want to help organize an East Bay leap day action on Thursday Feb. 29, 2024, email leapdayaction2020@protonmail.com. 

3 – Tenants Fight Back


Formed in 2016, Tenant and Neighborhood Councils (TANC) is a member-run, member-funded tenant union in the San Francisco Bay Area. Our area-based Locals organize tenants of particular landlords into councils or associations, and as a union we pressure landlords directly to meet our demands. We are an anticapitalist organization aligned with abolitionist and internationalist struggles, and a founding member of the country-wide Autonomous Tenant Union Network (ATUN). Since the pandemic, membership has grown to more than 600, and our councils have organized rent strikes and other direct-actions against slumlords to win rent reductions and repairs. Recently, local politicians lifted pandemic-era eviction restrictions, prompting a union action in Berkeley. 

On Tuesday, September 12, TANC mobilized more than 100 tenants to disrupt an obscene celebration, where Berkeley landlords organized through the Berkeley Property Owners Association (BPOA) gathered to celebrate the end of the local eviction moratorium and thus the renewal of their rights to evict people from their homes in order to profit.

With less than a day’s notice, TANC members rallied with banners and signs outside Freehouse pub, where the BPOA hoped to celebrate. We carried into the party a cake decorated with the words, “Hey landlords! Get a real job!” and chanted, among other things, “Eat the cake.”

As widely reported in local and international news, BPOA members were quick to anger, attacking tenants unprovoked. We stand with our members who were assaulted by landlords, just as we stand with any tenant facing eviction. 

We are not surprised by BPOA’s behavior. The landlords’ cocktail party was a celebration of the violent process of eviction. Systematic violence and interpersonal violence go hand in hand. This is why TANC intervened.

As a Bay Area-wide tenant union building power through tenant organizing, we are preparing for a long-haul fight. 

The Bay Area’s double crises of extreme rent profiteering and homelessness stem from the landlords’ business model. Landlords are structurally invested in skyrocketing rents, extracting money from working-class people under threat of eviction. Real-estate capital’s unchecked profits have corroded the Bay Area’s culture and life. It must be stopped.

We reject the notion that landlords have a right to a return on their investment. Rents should be immediately rolled back regardless of how this impacts landlords’ balance sheets. Tenants deserve a high quality of life, dignity in our housing, and a life free from landlord exploitation and harassment.

By disrupting the Berkeley landlord group’s cruel party, we have proved that tenants aren’t passive. Tenants will fight back! We call on tenants across the Bay Area to join the tenant union. We will beat back the forces of gentrification together. The union makes us strong!

Evictions spike as politicians lift ‘moratorium’

Summer of 2023 saw COVID cases rising across the East Bay, yet the pandemic-era eviction restrictions began ending all across the region. 

These restrictions started during an increase in tenant militancy in 2020, which dramatically changed our organizing terrain, including increasing the viability of the rent strike. To stabilize tenant-landlord relations, politicians then implemented the massive landlord bailout known as “rent relief.” This was government money that helped landlords pay their mortgages while tenants were out of work, but offered nothing to tenants beyond the ability to (temporarily) stay in their homes.

While the restrictions lasted longer in the East Bay than most of the country, politicians are now bending to the will of landlords and actively facilitating the resumption of mass evictions. 

After county restrictions lapsed, evictions skyrocketed to more than 500 in May, followed by more than 700 in June — more than twice the monthly average pre-pandemic. Now, with restrictions ending in Oakland and Berkeley, the number is expected to continue climbing. 

What this means is landlords and landlord lawyers and landlord associations are preparing their legal notices and scary letters in the hopes of pressuring tenants to self-evict. A little rights knowledge goes a long way for tenants facing these threats. While it is important to respond promptly and formally to initial notices, everyone should know that eviction is a long legal process. 

Don’t move, fight! If you think you’re facing eviction, or you have issues with your landlord, find an affiliate of the Autonomous Tenant Union Network in your area (atun-rsia.org), and get in touch! 

We look towards the end of rent, a time when categories of ‘landlord’ and ‘tenant’ recede into historical memory. We move forward as an organized base of militant tenants. Our organizing develops the collective power we need in order to take control of our own homes and neighborhoods. 

2 – Long Haul Threatened

Slingshot collective has made all of its publications in a cozy loft at Long Haul — a radical community center in Berkeley — since 1992. Now, our future here is uncertain after Long Haul’s landlord, the Northern California Land Trust (NCLT), announced plans to demolish the building in 2024 and replace it with an 8-story apartment building. NCLT has received $2 million in grants — against a $40-$50 million price tag — and they are actively seeking loans and investments.

In April, NCLT offered to rent Long Haul a “comparable” space at the new building with terms “comparable” to the current lease — but the offer lacks details and says it “does not create a binding agreement between the Parties and will not be enforceable.” The current rent is below market and some of us are skeptical that rent at the new building will be cheap enough for Long Haul to afford. 

In May, Long Haul responded to the offer by writing “Long Haul has more to lose than it has to gain from the proposed redevelopment. Long Haul is happy in the current building, which meets Long Haul’s needs…. Being displaced for months during construction is not in Long Haul’s interest.  While Long Haul does not support destruction of the existing building, it agrees that returning to the new building … is preferable to being displaced.

So far NCLT has ignored the May email and hasn’t provided any updates on whether the mid-2024 date is still on or delayed. Long Haul doesn’t have any idea when it may get a six-month notice to move. 

Long Haul is the perfect place to make Slingshot. It has been a radical center since 1979 and it has a funky, underground vibe — murals, radical posters and shelves stuffed with zines and books line the walls. Everything is handmade and DIY — it has a feeling you don’t get in a sterile new building. Besides Slingshot, Long Haul hosts a needle exchange, a community printing press, grassroots organizations, a weekly anarchist study group and meetings and events. It is open to the public 5 days a week, operated collectively by volunteers and welcomes all types of freaks rather than being devoted to soulless consumerism like everywhere else. 

The precious thing about Long haul isn’t just the old building — it’s the community and the continuity with radical struggles that have taken place here over the last 44 years. 

If the building gets torn down, Long Haul will need help moving its radical historical archive that contains thousands of publications dating back to the 1960s. Email longhaulinfoshop@protonmail.com if you can help.  Slingshot will find a new place if we have to — until then we’re enjoying every minute of the sweet afternoon sun streaming through the skylights onto the crazy artwork jigsaw puzzle going into the zine — while we still can. 

2 – Michael Delacour 1938 – 2023

Our dear friend, comrade, mentor, inspiration and sometimes critic Michael Delacour died March 9, 2023. Michael was a founder of People’s Park in Berkeley in 1969, but he was much more to generations of Berkeley direct action radicals. Michael was always in the struggle not as a remote self-important “leader,” but as an equal, in the trenches, a ground-level participant. He was the embodiment of direct action — not just fighting the police and stirring up good trouble, which was one of his talents — but building physical stuff in service of creating a new type of society.

He helped build the Park — convening a meeting where the Park was proposed and then bringing rolls of turf and shovels to the park. Building the Park was about living the revolution now — not just talking theory but physically constructing the world we want — a world organized around human needs, fun, freedom and the Earth instead of the system’s violence, pollution, technology and wealth for the few at the expense of the many. Building the Park was a communal effort — “Everyone Gets a Blister!” 

Michael wasn’t just interested in the Park — he wasn’t about nostalgia at all. He was about fighting for the underdog, the working class, the homeless — the struggle against apartheid in South Africa, Palestine… He built freeboxes at the Park just as fast as the police would destroy them. He helped organize squats — some as protests and others just to house people. 

Michael was a 1960s figure who treated younger people with respect and as equals — which unfortunately isn’t typical. Part of treating us as equals was giving us a hard time. When Slingshot and younger anarchists moved into the Long Haul, he said was going to organize “workers with axe handles” to fight off the anarchists…

Park activist Max Ventura wrote “If he’s looking down now, he’d probably be yelling at us all as we write about him, calling us elitists because we can write. How many times he yelled that at me when he wasn’t asking me to write something and then when I reminded him I have exactly zero plumbing or electrical or mechanical skills, which he used all the time in the movement, he’d nod. Often, the next moment he’d be chuckling, glad to be recognized for his invaluable skills and work. When there was water backing up in pipes to the park, he was out there trying to pinpoint the source of the issue. Always hands-on.”

Eggplant remembers “The first time i interacted with Michael Delacour was in the late 1990’s at a protest. Fair enough that was his life being at protests. We had assembled at Biko Plaza on the UC Berkeley campus to try to Stop the War on Palestine. It was one of those low tide moments of our movement when there were more cops than protesters. Even in the fucking bathroom. Half a dozen pigs doing the wiggle before the urinal just as we needed to. Upon exiting Michael said, ‘That was odd.’ I’m pretty sure he let out a ‘Brother’ as well. 

“Michael often would say ‘Brother’ and it didn’t sound fake. It actually sounded like he learned it when a great crack came in the consciousness. Saying Brother meant something and wasn’t a cliché. A realization of collective survival, collective work and celebration.

“To say Michael is a co-creator of People’s Park is reductive. He was a die-hard participant in the movement. And a very unique, specific creature of the movement. Michael lived as a Berkeley radical. When i met him he was moonlighting from the Park to uplift our local pirate radio station Berkeley Liberation Radio (based in Oakland) as well as be involved in city politics. Speaking out against the war, the Marines. Running his wife Gina as a progressive for city office, protecting KPFA from neoliberals.

“As Michael got older, our political situation just tanked. Bad people in power making the worst choices. People of conscience felt doom and dread. I would encounter Michael at People’s Park during Food Not Bombs — a good place to catch up with the freaks and gossip about the times. Michael was in deteriorating health. His inclination to complain turned to me: ‘You people at Long Haul what are you doing to stop the problem?’ 

“Yeah. Long Haul. Slingshot. Ineffective in stopping this shit. Band-aids maybe. Clean needles. A toilet and place to sit, to talk, open for 3 hours. A free newspaper. A library of Berkeley radicals ranting on paper. 

“Of course i would see Michael often at the Park his remaining days including that ugly hot mess when UC killed 47 trees. I missed the rally at Biko Plaza — arriving just as they marched. Telegraph Ave filled with hundreds of people, in angry focused chants “PEEEPLES PAAARK!” Very much like i would see when i was a teenager in 1989 but this time no one is breaking windows. Though honestly something is gonna need to scare away the chainstores from Southside. Maybe some fucking windows need to break. We soon occupied the park and Michael was amongst our defiant re-occupation as was Osha Neumann, Karen Pickett, Eddie Yuen, Mac from Funky Nixons, Lisa Stevens, Rusty — the amazing ancestors of crazed Berkeley radicals who were right all long but had to watch society go the other way. The drama heightened since we had about 40 years waiting for UC to wreak havoc on what we built. As awful it was to have the police invade, brutalize our people and the land, it was heart- warming to see ordinary people not be idle, rip down the fence and retake the park. Michael like the rest of us was clearly heartbroken and scared about the future. But he was also caught up in the beauty of the moment where hundreds of people were in the park. Mobilized. Some were heatedly discussing the future. Many were working in teams moving the fallen trees into defensive positions. And many more of us got comfortable standing our ground — ready to take on the next day.”

2 – Introduction to Slingshot issue 138

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

While making this issue, we’ve been weighed down with the psychological strain of world events — particularly the genocide in Gaza but also all the other uglies of discouraging climate news, racial and economic inequality, gentrification, homeless sweeps, attacks on trans people and immigrants, so many nasty power grabs… Awareness of the rising tide of suffering and danger lays down a floating sense of dread and stress like a wet blanket on our souls. Is it just us or is everyone reading this zine feeling this shit? It’s like when you have a lingering cold that makes it harder to get stuff done, get through the day or just feel okay. 

And yet there are big protests popping up all over — almost every day around the Bay Area and around the world. And there’s also a lot of life-affirming weird art and counter culture — so there can be an alternative narrative if you put down your screen. While we were making the issue we missed an anti-APEC march, a rally for Palestine liberation, a protest to keep the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge open to bikes, the annual anarchist BASTARD conference — and also zany stuff like a tweed bike ride, the Rocky Horror Picture Show at the Elmwood theater, Andrea Pritchard at the Freight… 

Slingshot started publishing in the 1980s before cell phones were invented — if you turn the fucking thing off for a few hours or even a few days you may notice the pace and mood lift. You won’t get all those texts and updates that interrupt your consciousness, so perhaps your mind can wander. Without scrolling, you’re left with contemplating the sky, hearing the birds, studying moss, noticing those around you. You won’t have a map and reviews to find a restaurant so you’re left to wander, look in windows and release yourself to serendipity.

Making this issue started with a big meeting, so it seemed like there would be plenty of volunteers and the zine could get put together easily. It takes 2-3 months from the first meeting until all 23,000 copies are mailed out — the collective editing process requires a lot of meetings and painstaking decision making about articles. The first pile of submissions gets sorted, sent back to revisions, then the group reads the revisions, culminating in a so-called all-night meeting to pick what to publish. Different people work with different authors. The paper copies in the binder fill with scribbled comments, suggestions and corrections. While a lot of people were at meetings for one stage of the issue or another, very few folks followed through with the whole process — which can make it hard for the group to be cohesive. There were many moments when it was uncertain if the issue could get finished. Various balls got dropped — articles we liked but the authors didn’t reply to an email about a suggested revision.

The whole issue comes together with a two day, 14 hour a day art party — and as we write this, it’s been feast or famine. Yesterday hardly anyone came by all day and then all at once at the end of the day a big crowd of artists arrived within a 30 minute period. Next time it would be much less chaotic if a few artists came by during daylight hours so the art could cook slowly like stew. 

Right before this issue, FP Press the employee-owned printing press we have been using since 1988 told us they were going out of business. We’re going to miss them — they always treated our odd-ball projects respectfully. We’re hopeful about our new printing press 15 miles from here. 

Slingshot is always looking for new writers, artists, editors, photographers and distributors.  Even if you feel you are not an essayist, illustrator or whistleblower you may know someone who is.  If you send an article, please be open to its editing. We are a collective, but not all the articles reflect the opinions of all collective members. We welcome debate and constructive criticism.

Thanks to the people who made this: Antonio, Becky, Chris, Daniel, eggplant, Finn, Gerald, Harry, Imani, Ingrid, Jack, Jake, Jesse, Josephine, Josh, Lola, Lucie, Mateo, Natalia, Robin, Ruby, Samiha, Sean, Taylor & all the authors and artists! 

Slingshot Article Submission Info

We’re not going to set a deadline for the next issue. We encourage you to submit articles for the next Slingshot anytime you want. We’ll make another issue when we feel like we’re ready. Please check the Slingshot website, indybay, instagram and facebook for deadline info. We also have an internal email list that will announce the next deadline so please contact us if you want to be added to the list. If you want to work on the 2025 organizer, work will happen starting in March — reach out if you want to draw art or do stuff. 

Volume 1, Number 138, Circulation 23,000

Printed November 17, 2023

Slingshot Newspaper

A publication of Long Haul

Office: 3124 Shattuck Avenue, Berkeley CA 94705*

Mailing: PO Box 3051, Berkeley, CA 94703

510-540-0751 slingshotcollective@protonmail.com 

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* Our office may be torn down in 2024 so check before you visit or you may just find a pile of rubble

Circulation information

Subscriptions to Slingshot are free to prisoners, low income folks, or anyone in the USA with a Slingshot Organizer, or are $1 per issue donation. International $3 per issue. Outside the Bay Area we’ll mail you a free stack of copies if you give them out for free. Say how many copies and how long you’ll be at your address. In the Bay Area pick up copies at Long Haul and Bound Together books, SF.

Slingshot free stuff

We’ll send you a random assortment of back issues for the cost of postage. Send $4 for 2 lbs. Free if you’re an infoshop or library. slingshotcollective.org