Stop the Everyday Way

As horrifying as the prospect of the United States launching a pre-emptive strike war against Iraq is to millions of people, one has to wonder if we’re not all falling into precisely the trap that Bush and Company are laying for us.

This war is being conjured up out of thin air, timed during a major economic downturn, with “debate” and Congressional approval of the war conveniently scheduled a month before mid-term elections. People are hurting financially all over the country. Under these circumstances, Bush’s war talk appears to be a cynical attempt to divert attention from domestic problems, in hopes of gaining a short-term political advantage. The chance to diminish the United Nations, flex unilateral US military dominance, and increase world oil supplies are gravy. The pretext of making the world “safe” from Iraq is at best laughable.

If the only ripple effect of Bush’s war strategy was securing Republican control of the Congress, perhaps it wouldn’t be so bad. Whether Congress is controlled by Republicans or Democrats is essentially irrelevant since both stand for the same earth destroying, worker exploiting, world dominating policies.

But the ripples haven’t been limited to the mainstream political reality. In the US and around the world, people involved in popular movements that had been starting to challenge the economic assumptions of the ruling order — generally known as the anti-globalization movement — have shifted their time and energy to opposing the approaching war. Time that could have been used for positive action has been consumed on reaction — playing defense, not offense.

If those in power are able to divert activism that would have been directed against their economic domination into defensive single-issue activism narrowly focused against war, the war will pay much greater dividends than mere control over vast oil resources.

For our part, it’s crucial that we don’t lose sight of the real war while we’re opposing Bush’s manufactured war against Iraq.

The real war is waged every day, receives little media coverage, and isn’t the subject of countless marches and rallies by well-meaning liberals: its the war of the powerful against the weak, the north against the south, industrialism against the earth, cold economic rationalism against life and freedom.

This daily war systematically causes far more destruction, human misery, death and environmental destruction than Bush’s contemplated war against Iraq will. Bush’s war may kill a million Iraqis, a terrible, unacceptable, horrendous cost.

But how many people are dying day in and day out because of this capitalist/industrial system? How many are living lives as walking dead, their spirits crushed, serving a machine? How many live without food, clean water, a dry place to sleep, any hope or future? Between 1 and 2 billion people worldwide live below the subsistence threshold. Even in Western industrialized countries, millions live hopeless, powerless lives.

As terrible as war against Iraq would be, and as vigorously as we must oppose, disrupt, and if possible prevent the Iraq war, the everyday war must not be permitted to continue. If the war on Iraq can be prevented, it won’t be time to sit back in satisfaction and declare that everything is now “A-okay.” The day before a war on Iraq begins, and the day after it ends, the daily war will continue.

The daily war concentrates the power and weapons of mass destruction in the hands of the United States that makes a war on Iraq possible. Only when the daily war is ended once and for all will the need to oppose this and that military adventure off into the future finally cease.

Fortunately, opposing the war against Iraq and opposing the daily war against the earth and its people are not totally incompatible. While its certainly possible to oppose the war against Iraq in such a narrow way that the everyday war is not simultaneously opposed, there are numerous opportunities to use the struggle against the Iraq war to promote understanding of the struggle against the everyday war.

The horror, the waste and the brutality of war can focus attention on the gap between the rhetoric of our rulers, and the reality of this system. People who believe in the system — who believe that the US is a kind nation which promotes democracy and peace — are ripe to be radicalized when they see how the system operates in practice. In September and October, polls showed a majority of citizens opposed a preemptive attack against Iraq in the face of international opposition. Folks wrote thousands of letters, lobbied their representatives, and got nothing. Now they sit, opposing the US regime, feeling increasingly alienated from the system.

Our opposition to the Iraq war can promote greater awareness of the everyday war by emphasizing the failure of liberal methods and assumptions. The approval of congressional resolutions in favor of the war shows that the system doesn’t care what citizens think. The whole affair demonstrates that the United States government relies, not on the promotion of democracy and peace, but on naked military superiority in international relations.

People who turned out by the thousands to anti-war demonstrations have been confronted with the reality of the corporate media — these demonstrations were largely ignored.

From the liberal perspective, war against Iraq seems an aberration — a violation of the liberal conception of the United States’ role in the world. This is an opportunity to point out that the war isn’t an aberration — its an honest expression of a society that promotes power, violence and domination over self-determination, cooperation and human life. In short, the war unmasks the death culture that is the capitalist / industrial system.

Each speech given by Bush demonstrated the gap between rhetoric and reality: Bush and the US government are guilty of most of the “evils” that Bush charged against Iraq:

  • The US attacks and threatens to attack its neighbors without provocation.
  • The US is the world’s leader in weapons of mass destruction.
  • Bush emphasizes the danger of Iraq acquiring nuclear weapons, when the US already has thousands of them. The US is the only nation to ever use nuclear weapons in war, and its war plans contemplate their use again, including preemptively.

If these actions are evil for Iraq, how are they good for the United States? Nothing distinguishes the US’s military domination of the world scene from Iraq’s much weaker attempted military domination of their local scene.

The task of the radical community goes far beyond working to publicly oppose the war against Iraq. It’s crucial to prevent Bush & Co. from using the war to distract the world from a critique of economic domination. Moreover, it’s up to us to use our struggle to oppose the war in a positive way — to build a movement against the everyday economic war all around us.

Defend the Landfill Freestate

The old Albany landfill is a modern free state. Fennel, trash sculptures, and shacks cover this mound of trash and construction rubble sticking out into the San Francisco bay, an antisocial realm where people do practically whatever they want. Now East Bay bureaucracy is gearing up to subdue the Landfill into a municipal park. While some folks have organized to protect the Landfill in its current state, they are missing the point, as they advocate for free space in the name of public art and dog runs. The landfill cannot exist as a state-sanctioned space. It is inaccessible, dangerous and toxic, a complete liability. The Landfill represents the messy regeneration of life on top industrial collapse, and, for those who can appreciate it, it is beautiful. Because it is completely unorganized, anti-social, it can only exist outside of society. No amount of compromise with the state will allow the Landfill to continue as itself. The state must be forced to relinquish control. The land will be free.

Anarchists, crackheads, speed freaks, punks, partiers, weird creators, solitary souls, hippies, and any one else who gives a shit will form a militia to keep the organized state out of the landfill. Walls will be erected, the neck blasted out, and ferry lines run between the Berkeley Marina for transportation and supplies. While anarchists fight for community organization in the rest of the East Bay, here the chaotic, wild, free nature of anarchism, of life, will be demonstrated in a grand display of creation and force.

Dog walkers, ‘artists’, and other such liberal mandy-panderers will have to choose their side. They must realize that the reason their dogs run free and their paintings show unrestrained, perverted sex is not because the landfill is a dog run or an open-air Mapplethorpe gallery, but because both free dogs and free art are obvious indicators of wild, unrestrained life.

Liberals cannot bargain with the state and retain freedom. Both dog runs and sculpture gardens exist within the organized State, but they are regulated, and the spirit of the landfill will wither as soon as the state sanctions activity there.

The State believes the landfill will be a pleasant addition to the still-developing EastShore Regional Park, a native plant and wildlife sanctuary with paved paths and sports fields. But the landfill is acres of toxic fill, off-gassing PCBs, and heavy metals. The natural state of the landfill is, first, water—and second, the way it is now. Plants and wildlife native to regenerating polluted fill live there already, as do people. The landfill is a necessary result of western civilization. It is not pristine Bay shoreline, almost completely destroyed by the 1950s as developers dumped huge amounts of fill into the bay. (One of the few pristine East Bay beaches is south of the landfill—try focussing on that, fuckers!) It is not friendly to folks sensitive to toxins, to folks reliant on the friendly accoutrements of modern western civilization—paved paths, bathrooms, blue light telephones, drinking fountains, doggie poop collection bags. The State, however, must ‘disappear’ their trash, pretend that their industrial trash can be transformed into a social environment, in order to continue creating crap. Liberal Berkelians insist that modern society is completely and benignly recyclable – piles of refuse are really parkland, and pristine shoreline, art galleries, and purebred dog runs at that. This trash pile is worthwhile, but not because it is recyclable back into society. The landfill is an illustration of beautiful life beyond modern society, and as such, the State must destroy it.

If the State were smart, it would realize—as many governments already have—the benefits of this societal pressure release valve. Raucus stadium concerts, rowdy sports games, and raves all release social energy, but in places like the Landfill folks can make peace with their need to be away from society. Pristine and natural areas show land without people, but the landfill shows land and people in recovery from western civilization—subconscious yet necessary therapy for folks warn thin by the capitalist grind. This is why so many yuppies are drawn to the landfill, not only for their dogs, but for themselves.

Even as new IKEAS pop up, western society continues to overextend and decay. The Albany landfill is a particularly beautiful scene of anarchic regeneration, but even it the landfill itself is let alone, the whole ambiance will change as the proposed Target store and hotel/conference center are built a few hundred yards away. A massive off-ramp leaving I-80 has already been constructed, seemingly in the middle of nowhere, for these development projects. The landfill can’t simply be ‘left alone’—it must succeed from the United States.

Speed freaks, bottle-throwing disenfranchised youth, maladjusted loners, and antisocial wingnuts are joining ranks of regular anarchists to force this succession. As this is written, supplies are being amassed and catapults built. The People’s Park riots of the 1990’s are our inspiration, and we will take the fight one step further, to complete cessation of ties to the state of California. We will dynamite the land bridge, creating the island Landfill Free State. Natural cycles of degeneration and rebirth will continue, untouched by the bureaucratic hand of organized, enforced suffocation. Long Live the Landfill!

Busting on the ILWU

The war at home has escalated. The Pacific Maritime Association (PMA), which represents the big shipping companies, attacked the country’s most militant labor union on September 27th, locking out 10,500 longshore workers along the west coast and successfully obtaining a federally ordered 80 day cooling off period under the anti-labor Taft-Hartley Act. It was a test of PMA’s newest union-busting strategy: seeking justification under the war on terrorism.

The International Longshore and Warehouse Union’s contract expired in July, and the union had been in contract negotiations with the PMA since spring. But months before that, the PMA had been scheming to destroy the ILWU. In May, a new “bosses” organization was formed. Called the “West Coast Waterfront Coalition”, the organization was a coalition of slave labor retailers that included Mattel, Home Depot and the Gap, together with shipping lines Maersk and American President Lines. In this age of sweatshop labor, the dockworkers are the last group of workers in the shipping lines’ food chain who are paid fairly. The PMA would like nothing better than to reduce them to sweatshop labor as well.

The coalition used the “war on terrorism” to try and destroy the ILWU. This spring, the group held covert meetings with the Bush Administration’s task force that was set up to monitor ILWU contract negotiations. Early in those talks, Homeland Security adviser Tom Ridge called James Spinosa, president of the ILWU, and told Spinosa that any strike would be considered a threat to national security and that the Bush Administration would act to stop it.

The PMA, apparently too impatient to wait for a strike so they could have the government step in to facilitate their union-busting, came up with a most devious plan: The PMA could lock the workers out, and by doing so force the government to do their dirty work for them. The government’s rarely-used Taft-Hartley Act allows for government intervention in union/management negotiations, by enforcing an 80-day “cooling-off” period during which the union workers are forced back to work. The PMA knew that if they stopped goods from coming in they could ensure that the Bush Administration would favor the PMA by invoking the Taft-Hartley Act. That way, when the bosses lock out the workers and freeze commerce, they can also reap the benefits of

the negative image of ungrateful dockworkers on strike.

The fairly paid dockworkers know that the sweatshops stop at the West Coast ports. The PMA knows that too, and they would like nothing better than to ensure that from beginning to end all their slaves are paid the minimum.

The 80-day “cooling-off” period is more like a simmering period. Tensions are still running high between the union and the PMA, and nothing has changed in negotiations. And if the workers do strike, the president has another tool at his disposal—he can replace striking dockworkers with the Navy and the National Guard.

But there may be a problem for the union busting bosses — other dockworker unions around the globe are already confirming their solidarity with the ILWU, and won’t unload ships if they are not loaded by the ILWU in America. The ILWU has a history of international solidarity; they took a stand against apartheid and refused to unload Nazi ships before World War II while Henry Ford was still selling them arms. The ILWU has stood behind every dock strike from Liverpool to Japan and those workers will return that solidarity.

If the PMA and the government are allowed to keep the union from organizing contracts coast wide or to replace the union workers with the military, we may see the most vicious international labor battle in history. As Slingshot goes to press, the 80-day cooling off period is still in effect and negotiations are continuing. There can be no war abroad without a war at home, and this has never been clearer with this attack against the ILWU. Support the ILWU, because this battle will affect workers the world over. The ILWU has taken stands for social justice and will continue to do so; they will not be cowed.

Critical Mass: The Military Thinks We're Smart

Strange World Department: Critical Mass Studied As Military Tactic

The Washington Post recently reported that the US Defense Department has been studying Critical Mass bike ride’s swarming of bikes as a military tactic: “The U.S. military has been one of the earliest institutions to both fear and see the possibilities in swarming. John Arquilla co-authored ‘Swarming and the Future of Conflict’ two years ago for the think tank Rand Corp. and the Office of the Secretary of Defense. He sees swarming – ‘a deliberately structured, coordinated, strategic way to strike from all directions’ – as spearheading a revolution in military affairs. ‘The military has much to learn from Critical Mass,’ he writes in an e-mail, ‘I used to go up to San Francisco regularly to see this leaderless swarm of bicyclists bring traffic to a complete halt for two hours. Once I asked a police sergeant, as he stood observing the Ferry Building, what he was going to do about this. He shrugged his shoulders and asked me back, “What would you have me do?'”

Little did we know that the US government was snooping while we were whooping.

Activist Repression

ALF member’s house raided

On Tuesday July 30, 2002 in Courtenay, British Columbia, members of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Canada’s national police agency raided the home and office of David Barbarash, Animal Liberation Front member.

The search and seizure was carried out on behalf of law enforcement from two counties in the State of Maine, under the auspices of the Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Treaty. The incidents being investigated actually took place three years ago and were relatively minor actions. Barbarash was neither charged or under investigation for any actions or crimes in Maine’s Kennebec and Sagadahoc counties. On November 13 a hearing took place in B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver, discussing the warrant and its execution.

Meanwhile all of David’s seized property is being held until an order is passed for it to be sent to Maine. He is fighting to have the stuff returned.

The ALF Press Office is seeking monetary donations to help cover legal expenses and the cost of replacing computers and software seized in the search. Donations and requests for more info can be sent to: P.O. Box 3673 Courtenay, BC V9N 7P1 Canada E-mail:

Baltimore Anti-racist 28

On August 24, 2002, 28 anti-racists were arrested in Baltimore while attempting to protest a meeting of the National Alliance, one of the larger neo-nazi groups in the U.S. Some two hundred racists were gathering there to meet before caravanning to their march and rally in Washington, D.C., later that day.

As the anti-racist activists entered the parking lot of the meeting site, they were confronted by several police cars and eventually brought to the Southeast District station, where they were held for hours with no charges then transferred to Central Booking and kept for twenty-four hours, before receiving their papers. After being interviewed they were charged with rioting, aggravated assault, disorderly conduct, and possession of a deadly weapon. Some were released on their own recognizance while others received bail amounts upwards of $10,000. None of these activist had committed any crime.

Since the arrests the State Attorney’s office has decided not to prosecute, however these bogus charges remain on record and will need to be expunged. The 28 are trying to cover legal expenses and are seeking financial support. Please send legal support donations to: Black Planet Books 1621 Fleet St. Baltimore, MD 21231-2931 E-mail:

BASTARD Conference

BASTARD (Berkeley Anarchist Students of Theory And Reseach & Development) presents the 3rd annual BASTARD Anarchist Theory Conference. The conference will be Sunday, March 30th, the day after the San Francisco Anarchist Book Fair. This tear the emphasis will be on anarchist economics with an entire track dedicated to analysis of economics today, visions of future economics, and theories of anarchist economics that differentiate it from market, utopian, and Marxist theories of economics.

Proposals for other topics will also be considered. Please send workshop proposals to or mail to: ASG c/o the Long Haul, 3124 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley, CA 94705

Anarchist Crush Night 2003

For Artistic purposes only – do not try this at home!

Come to the Long Haul’s Second annual Anarchist Crush Night on Valentine’s Day 2003! There will be sexy party games, music, and food plus our exclusive matching service which allows you to anonymously see if that certain crusty someone might like you too. The first Crush Night last year took a few days to recover from, after horny party-goers smeared all our free lube on each other in an outrageous display of . . . what was that all about again? At least one couple who hooked up last year is still together, and they both even work in the Slingshot Collective!!! Please keep in mind that you must work out your polyamory issues before Crush Night. Better get to work on that right now! The party will start at Long Haul, 3124 Shattuck Avenue in Berkeley right after Critical Mass (about 8 p.m.).

Do It Yourself

A Scene Critique

The anarchist Do-It-Yourself ethic has succeeded in creating a flourishing counterculture. The scene excels at developing low-tech solutions to the consumerist, petroleum-based mainstream, simple designs based on recycled materials that aim at being user-friendly.

However, I think this success comes at a price: passionate activists put so much time into specific projects that little thought is devoted to critiquing how the entrenched countercultural lifestyle actually meets – or doesn’t meet-people’s needs. This scene is, undoubtedly, a scene, and it is not particularly open or inviting to new people. The scene takes on mythological proportions, and people feel they have to live up to certain standards in order to participate. Everybody is different, but people censor and mold what they show to a scene in order to fit in. This perpetuates the myth of homogeneity, and turns off people who can’t or don’t feel like doing the work to fit in.

Many people don’t want to take on the emotional trip of feeling like the odd one out. It is a struggle to attend events where you feel like you’re the only person representing, where you are perceived as ‘different’ and either fetishized or considered dangerous, scary, complicated, and thus ignored. It hurts to feel like you have to put on an act, to go into the closet, in order to be comfortable in a group. A scene where people feel bad for not fitting in is little more than a mimicry of the mainstream, one subculture out of many. The folks closing people out of the scene are the same folks who are shut out of some aspect of mainstream culture. At some point, everybody puts on an act in order to fit in.

In reality, all kinds of people are doing all kinds of different things, whether they are underground or out about their actions. People are much more complex than this model of homogenous subcultures. People do take risks, make decisions and go places they’re not ‘supposed’ to. Unless you talk to somebody and they choose to tell you, you can’t always see that ‘white’ boy’s Mexican dad, that ‘straight’ girl’s lesbian parents, that able-bodied person’s disability, that suburban punk’s welfare childhood. Perhaps you have not ‘seen’ that person of color within ‘the activist scene’, even though they have been at every major protest for 20 years.

The energy and time required to (re)build organizations and physical infrastructure from the ground up means that this type of revolutionary actions comes most easily to certain people, who are able bodied, young, frequently white and from middle class backgrounds, and with few commitments other than this radical lifestyle. Many do-it-yourself activists do recognize the limited potential of a homogenous scene-but people seem to be forgetting that homogeneity is the very nature of a countercultural lifestyle!

Sharing a lifestyle, particularly one based on political convictions, is a way of finding support in the midst of a callous world. What is a lifestyle, but simply a set of actions folks take to meet their living needs; a radical, political lifestyle gives political purpose to fulfilling this particular set of actions. However, everybody has different needs. Placing too much importance on living a lifestyle as a political act means that folks are judged as ‘less revolutionary’ when they make decisions that aren’t in line with the political rhetoric– or simply that there is no room for them within the scene.

Overt judgments come down hard when people are open about making decisions not in line with prescribed do-it-yourself anarchist rhetoric. People are judged for the kind of healthcare they use, the kind of job they get, the projects they take on, where they choose to live. Few decisions are easy when you’re trying to balance political connotations and personal needs. To me, it’s important that people question the models they’re given-whether within the mainstream or within the counterculture-and make decisions that truly reflect their needs, rather than struggling to fit their life into a box. Talking about motives behind a decision may lead to positive, even revolutionary personal change (for everybody involved), while dissing a decision will more likely piss somebody off and make them feel unwelcome.

Other folks struggle within the DIY scene, or are simply not there, because the entrenched DIY lifestyle doesn’t meet their needs. People running the scene engines are too self-focused, too passionate about the current state of things, or to politically rigid to think about changing course. For example, flier-makers rarely think about noting whether an event is wheelchair accessible-and resource-poor DIY organizations end up holding events in inaccessible back rooms or fixer-upper houses, rather than prioritizing accessibility. In a culture where few own cars, many ride bikes, and parties often happen up rickety stairs or in the middle of an abandoned factory, people with different mobility situations going on have to put more effort into getting to a DIY event. If events are not accessible, some folks might not even want to go to them.

Even with lipservice supporting the working class, families, and immigrants, the culture is not set up to meet their needs. People are often surprised to hear that somebody is working long hours to support their family or because they don’t have the financial cushion to take on major financial investments (transsexual surgery, overseas travel, equipment costs, etc.) while still “living for free”.

Events are not always child-friendly in the traditional sense, and coordinating getting a sleeping child home on bike is difficult! With creativity, energy, and good humor, so many things are possible. But people have only so much energy to devote to ‘creative struggles’ like getting themselves or their kid to some far away place in a rickety bike cart.

People who do have options should carefully consider their actions. Folks have certain backgrounds, certain abilities, etc., that make some things come easily to them, in the counterculture and without. In other words, people have privileges that go hand in hand with the mainstream hierarchical social system. These privileges give options and choices-the option to be sexist, the option to shop at Walmart, the option to fit in and be ‘cool’. Not exercising your option is only half the process of breaking down the institution. The pressure to fit in, the option to be sexist, is still there-you’re just not participating. Privilege and social hierarchy will exist as long as the system that perpetuates them exists, and attacking the root of the privilege, the system, is necessary to eradicate the privilege.

Everyone fits into both mainstream and the DIY counterculture differently. People change, and lives include contradictions. There are no perfect anarkoids. When we are open to hearing about what other people are doing, we see that the ‘scene’ is actually a lot less homogenous than we perhaps thought, and we are more relaxed about hanging out with people who we thought were different than us. At this point the scene changes into a movement.

Unchained Reaction

Sonik resistance at the Nevada Test Site

Underground dance parties often take place in unusual locations – underneath highway overpasses, inside boxcars, under bridges – anywhere we can get away with it. However, until now, none had been held at the gates of the Nevada Test Site (NTS) where the United State tests its nuclear weapons of mass destruction. On October 11, DJs and musicians from S.P.A.Z., 5lowershop, R.A.T.S.T.A.R., Havoc, Katabatik, and Subversive Soundz gathered for Unchained Reaction!, an elektronik, anti-nuclear party at the Nevada Test Site to resist nuclear weapons testing and nuclear dumping on native lands. The dance party was part of the Action for Nuclear Abolition, a larger gathering which included the Family Spirit Walk, an 800 mile walk from Los Alamos (the birth place of the atom bomb) to the NTS; an anti-nuclear weapons conference in Las Vegas; and a six day gathering at the Test Site that included trainings, ceremonies, and direct actions.

The 500 people who went to the Nevada Test Site for the Action for Nuclear Abolition (ANA) were there to oppose testing of nuclear weapons and the dumping of high-level nuclear waste, as is proposed at nearby Yucca Mountain. Indeed the proposed shipping and dumping of 77,000 tons of highly radioactive waste at Yucca Mountain, a sacred site for the Western Shoshone, instigated Unchained Reaction!

Many who participated in the ANA view these anti-nuclear protests as part of the struggle for the rights of indigenous people in the United States. Author/activist Ward Churchill has challenged “the Left” to work with indigenous peoples in the United States to resolve the Native American land question. The colonization of indigenous peoples must be addressed in order avoid the duplication of the colonialist/settler mentality in social relations between Native Americans and white radicals. This land question, which can be understood in terms of a colonial relationship between a subjugated nation and a colonial power, is at the heart of the struggle over reclaiming the Nevada Test Site as part of Newe Sogobia, the traditional land of the Western Shoshone.

The conflict over land began with the discovery of gold in California in 1849, which prompted hundreds of thousands of Americans to head for the west coast. In 1849 alone, over 60,000 Americans traveled through Newe Sogobia, depleting food sources and instigating conflicts with the Shoshone. The Shoshones retaliated against the invaders by raiding the wagon trains to take weapons and horses.

In order to facilitate the appropriation of natural resources by settler society the United States government negotiated the Treaty of Ruby Valley, signed on October 1, 1863 which affirmed the Newe’s title to their ancestral land, Newe Sogobia (‘the peoples’ earth mother’), which extends from the Snake River in Idaho, across most of Nevada, and into Southern California. This title legally remains in place; however, the combination of a phenomenon called “gradual encroachment” and presidential orders have pushed the Shoshone off their land. The establishment of the Nevada Test Site provides an excellent example of this process.

President Franklin Roosevelt originally set aside part of Newe Sogobia as an artillery and gunnery range through executive order 8578 in 1940. Of course, nobody bothered to ask the Newe (Western Shoshone) people, within whose treaty-guaranteed territory the entire facility was established, whether they felt this was an acceptable use of their land, or whether they were even willing to have it designated as part of the U.S. “public domain” for any purpose.

Instead, in 1952, having designated 435,000 acres in the Yucca Flats area of Nellis as a “Nevada Test Site” – another 318,000 acres were added in 1961, bringing the total to 735,000 – the Atomic Energy Commission and its military partners undertook what by now add up to nearly a thousand atmospheric and underground nuclear test detonations. In 1973 the United States government offered the Western Shoshone $26 million for the land that includes Yucca Mountain and the NTS. The Western Shoshone national council has refused this payment, and the money has sat in an Interior Department trust account since.

The Western Shoshone have fought against this encroachment in many ways, including lawsuits in U.S. courts, by sending a delegation to Geneva, Switzerland, to speak with members of the United Nations’ Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, and, when necessary, through armed resistance. The annual Action for Nuclear Abolition is another example of Shoshone resistance.


But the question remains: was it a great party? Well it was great for us. Everybody turned in great sets of inspiring music, even if much of the audience had never heard electronic music before, let alone breakcore. Katherine Blossom, a native elder said of us, “I don’t pray like anybody else I know, it is good to see that these people pray in their own way as well.” Music is our alchemy, and after we heard the extremely banal new age earthdance prayer for peace on Saturday we knew for certain that we can only be a part of prayer for peace that we make on our own terms. Our prayers shake the earth with bass.

We heard many stories and attended a sunrise ceremony as part of the direct action trespass on the NTS. Listening to Shoshone cultural stories, we were inspired to think of the stories that guide our lives and history that we share within our subculture. They prayed for the simple things every sunrise: the air, water, earth, fire, and all the animals that once walked the land, both thanking and honoring their energies in our lives. This is one of the things that they wanted us to take from them, a consciousness about the life energies that our dominator culture takes for granted.

The two nights of music were not without problems, some of which arose well before it ever happened. Getting out 10,000 flyers and trying to reach out beyond our normal spheres of influence was really hard and made us wonder at times if it was worth it. But maybe if the ideas touched some people, or challenged people to do some self education about the issues on the flyer (whether they came out or not), then that is something that you cannot place a value on. Almost every time we were out flyering, someone thanked us for doing this and seemed to be deeply touched by our intentions. Although not many people came to attend the dance party itself (it was in the Navada desert, after all), the soundsystems brought between 75 and 100 people to the event, which was close to twenty percent of the total number at the peace camp.

In terms of conflict with our hosts and with other Peace Camp protestors we happily report that it was minimal. After the Friday night concert, the native elders (who we were afraid we were keeping awake) sent someone down to tell us that they loved what we were doing and to turn it up, to let the NTS know that we are there and that we are not going away. There is an open invitation for us to return next year, and even discussion about an occupation party on Yucca Mountain. Start building bassbins now!

Que Se Vayan Todos

Que No Quede Ni Uno Solo

The city of Buenos Aires, Argentina was ablaze with protest December 19th and 20th of 2001. The demonstrators were enraged with the falling economy and called for the resignation of the economic minister and the president, expressing themselves through marches to the capital, the traditional Madres de la Plaza de Mayo, grocery store looting, and outright street fighting. Overwhelmingly the chant heard on the streets those days and one that continues among popular assemblies and street demonstrations is, “Que se vayan todos, que no quede ni uno solo,” which roughly translates to “They all must go. Don’t leave even one there”.

This cry calls for the resignation of all politicians and an end to the political corruption. To Argentines this was not an empty demand — they wanted every single politician to step down, but they did not plan to let their country fall into chaos. They hoped to form a very organized anarchy, facilitated through popular assemblies, resembling other historical examples such as the Paris communes, the Juntas in Spain, Popular Assemblies in Bolivia, and the Popular Parliament in Ecuador.

The protests in December were successful enough to cause both the economic minister, Domingo Cavallo, and the president, Fernando de la Rua, to step down, as well as three more successive presidents. This popular coup was one of the very first in Latin American history to be enacted by the people, as opposed to militaries or foreign governments. The movement that exploded on the 19th and 20th, which left up to thirty demonstrators dead, did not begin or end on those days. What have Argentine political organizers been doing since December? What is the significance of the situation in Argentina for organizers in the United States?

Many different elements of the Argentine society have been involved in social and political organizing. (See Sidebar.) Demonstrators continue to mobilize daily, criticizing the economic situation, the intervention of the International Monetary Fund, the Free Trade Area of the Americas, and to work for real democracy, jobs, living wages, and simple electricity.

Popular Assembly Movement

Argentine communities have converged to help solve their problems together through self-organized popular assemblies. In every neighborhood, community members, students, workers, unemployed, middle class, and older folks, get together once a week. The meetings are held in the streets at night in order to be accessible to as many as possible. They shut down the road, put up a banner, and bring out a sound system with a microphone so that everyone has a chance to talk. People from other assemblies come to give updates and announcements and to discuss how to work together. The assemblea plans community events, solidarity marches, and discussions on the movement. The police, of course, make their presence known, but more importantly, so do the unemployed, the homeless, and the otherwise struggling. The assemblea has also become a soap box for the voices of those suffering the most at this moment of crisis.

There are several stories about the origins of the assemblea. By all accounts, the community meetings were inspired by the demonstrations of December 19th and 20th and started spontaneously, not by any specific organization or group. There are anywhere from 60 to 80 assemblies in Buenos Aires, in each of the five boroughs of the city, with more starting every day in and out of town. They function by having one weekly meeting and creating working groups such as women’s issues, health, education, solidarity, and protection. The interbarrio, where different assemblies get together and meet weekly, usually hosts three assemblies at a time, where each assemblea has the option to bring up their own proposals, and decisions are voted upon by a simple majoritarian basis.

The assemblies are an important and refreshingly new part of a long term effort, waged by many social groups including Poder Cuidadano (Citizen Power), to curb the profound corruption of Argentine politicians like Carlos Menem. The widespread lack of faith in politicians was demonstrated in June when over half of the Argentine population, in a poll by the Buenos Aires newspaper Clarin X, agreed that all Argentine politicians are thieves.

The assemblies are demanding an end to such corruption, but they are also consciously excluding any leftist party influence from the neighborhood meetings, so that the assemblies will not be co-opted by the similarly notoriously corrupt left. Many of the regular members of the assemblies are not long-term political actors, although some members do come from communist, Marxist, and even anarchist traditions. The critique of representative democracy coming from the assemblies does not come solely from an academic perspective, party line, or even an intellectual critique. The move towards direct democracy comes from an honest and urgent need for change that cannot and will not be met by representative democracy. They find no possibility for change within the current system, and see self community organizing as their last option.

Argentina and the Global Economy

Argentina is not the site of one small resistance movement. Argentines are fully aware of a long term worldwide movement against neoliberalism and their participation and connection to that movement. Demonstrators confront International Monetary Fund (IMF) representatives every time they come to Buenos Aires, such as during the first week in August when IMF reps were met by 10,000 people in the streets telling them to go home. An enormous demonstration on the border between Argentina and Brazil in July visualized a joint resistance to the impending Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) treaty.

Argentines blame their desperate economic situation on the IMF — and increasingly blame the United States as well, for their complicity and support of IMF regulations, neoliberal policies, and US corporations. Recent demonstrations against the IMF have brought out Argentines burning the American flag, and many demonstrators carry signs that read “Out Yankees!”

Despite the fact that the collective voice in Argentina is against the IMF, IMF-required free-market regulations and austerity measures continue to be pushed right through the Argentine Congress. The resistance movement is strong and visible, yet everyone in Argentina knows that the IMF has the real power. The IMF forces Argentina to enact laws — against its people’s will — as a condition for obtaining further IMF loans, many of which are only required to pay interest on existing international debts.

Meanwhile, the economic crisis is expanding across South America through Brazil, Ecuador, Uruguay and Paraguay. Argentina, once the model for IMF free market reforms, now suffers from 25% unemployment, a 75% devaluation of the peso, and hyperinflation, with no relief in sight. In Brazil, South America’s largest economy, the value of its currency the real has dropped more than 20% and government bonds have fallen to half their face value because of fears of government default. Paraguay and Uruguay fear a banking collapse and deepening recession, trying to hold off on debt by getting more loans from the IMF. These countries fear the collapse of their economies, but are already drowning in debt. Ecuador’s debt amounts to 16 billion dollars, which is equivalent to 95% of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

US activists must even more urgently denounce IMF intervention abroad. South Americans have made the connections obvious, by very clearly condemning U.S. support of IMF backed structural adjustments and free market reforms which have only further strangled South American economies. These policies transfer vast amounts of South American money and resources north in the form of debt payments, with nothing for the regular people in return. They are our era’s form
of colonialism.

In the United States, we must make it clear that we deplore our government’s interventionalist push for neoliberal reforms. Demonstrations against the IMF and World Bank in Washington DC and around the world must denounce the IMF involvement in Argentina. Perhaps we should burn tires in the streets, learn Argentine union songs and bring hammers and tin sheets to demonstrations. In every way possible, we must use our access to international attention to support the demands of the Argentines. We must all insist, “IMF out of Argentina!”.

Social Movements

Who are the organizations and social groups that have made this kind of success possible?


The piqueteros are working class demonstrators who come from the poorer sections and outskirts of the city. They have been using street blocking tactics for over a decade to call attention to their lack of jobs, food, and access to water and electricity. They are most well known for blocking streets through the burning of tires. In addition to the recent demands for food and housing, they have long been involved in take-overs of oil refineries, factories, and businesses such as real estate and construction that have refused to pay their workers. Perhaps the most militant and strongest of the piqueteros are the Corriente Classista Combativa (CCC), the Bloque Nacional Piquetero, and Anibel Veron. An increase in state repression has undermined the successes of these groups. In July, two piqueteros, Maximiliano Kosteki and Dario Santillan, from Anibel Veron, were murdered by Argentine police.

Ahorristas/ Cacerolistas

This middle class movement is fueled by the loss of money in their savings accounts, and a monthly limit on how much money can be taken out. Most of the middle class has lost more than a third of their savings, because the value of the peso has fallen in reference to the US dollar. The ahorristas, or those who have their savings in the banks, began demonstrating this December by taking to the banking district with ferocity, smashing sticks and hammers against the walls of the banks. They are also called cacerolistas (well known for banging pots and pans together) and have turned the banking district from a commercial zone into a political forum. Thousands of flyers about protests litter the streets and wheatpastes cover the walls of former banks announcing their demands. Tin protects all of the foreign banks and the ones that are still functioning must be accessed through a tiny door with a guard.

The actors in this movement include mothers clanking their pots, grandfathers smashing glass bottles together, bank workers, men in suits, and middle aged women in overcoats who bring hammers to smash the walls of their targets: Bank of Boston, Citibank, Banelco, and Banco Frances. The middle class uniquely suffers from the devaluation of the peso, because the rich have most of their money safely hidden in foreign banks, and the poor have never had enough money to store in savings. There is working class resentment towards the ahorrista movement because they are merely demanding their money back, and are not calling for a revolutionary change in politics. After all, it is the working class who truly suffers when middle class business owners cannot take enough money out of the banks to pay their employees.

Unionists (Gremialistas)

The two largest union organizations are the CGT (General Workers Center) and the CTA (Center of Argentine Workers). The unions had little to no input in the demonstrations that took place in December, but have since been mobilizing steadily, calling strikes monthly. Both organizations are a mixture of thousands of different unions and tend to represent the voice of the workers, albeit often a coerced and even unrealistic voice. Hugo Moyano, who presides over the CGT, originally came out against the IMF, but he has since changed his opinion. Most consider Moyano a politician, well known in Argentina to be exceedingly corrupt, and it seems likely that his hands are very deep within the politician’s pockets.

Movements such as the Mothers of the May Plaza and the MTD (Unemployed Workers Movement) have also played a crucial role in mobilizing Argentine society since December. The MTD had been organizing workers for at least the five years preceding 2002. The mothers who have continued to march weekly since the 70’s, call for the return of their dissappeared children.