Break the Chains

The Break the Chains conference will be held Aug.8-10 at Univ. of Oregon in Eugene. It is dedicated to fighting repression, supporting prisoners, and eliminating prisons altogether. By providing anti-prison education, building on existing prisoner support efforts, learning from veteran prison activists, and initiating new campaigns against the prison industrial complex, this conference is intended to initiate a new era of heightened prisoner support and anti-prison activism.

Perhaps no other single issue so convincingly illustrates the struggle for total liberation, as does the prison industrial complex. Resisting prisons is resisting state repression and blatant social control; it is resisting the most terrifying examples of racism, sexism, and homophobia, the criminalization of the poor and capitalist exploitation of labor. For this reason, the Break the Chains conference hopes to exemplify the need for continued and heightened prisoner support with our ultimate goal being prison abolition. Prison abolition is a political vision that seeks to eliminate the need for prisons and acknowledges the devastating effect that prisons have on poor and marginalized communities.

Wide ranges of folks have agreed to attend and share their knowledge, including former prisoners. Organizations attending include Free Mumia Coalition, Prison Legal News, and Out of Control Lesbian Committee to Support Women in Prison. There will be people working with prisoners that are HIV/AIDS infected and Black Panther and American Indian Movement elders, as well as a participant in the Attica rebellion of the 70’s.

Any movement that does not support its political internees is a movement destined to fail. When power is challenged, it inevitably turns to violent repression and imprisonment to maintain itself. In order to avoid defeat, movements must become organized and capable of combating the repression of the state apparatus, and they must be able to support their comrades and allies in the event that they are arrested or imprisoned. Few would commit themselves to a movement that would leave them behind prison walls, or a movement that is incapable of sustaining itself in the face of state intimidation. Contact info at P.O. Box 11331, Eugene Oregon 97440 or

Leaping Leftovers

During the period leading up to the war — to try to dispel the fear and depression — our house started trying to name all of our refrigerator leftovers with radical, inspiring, funny names.

Intifada enchilada. Black Eyed Bush Salad. Orange Alert Tahini sauce.

Silly, you protest? Well, maybe this is just the kind of silliness that we need to keep sane in a world that increasingly seems to be dominated by power, violence, consumerism and blind obedience. In a system based on rationality, mechanistic capitalist economics, mass industrial production and computer technology, humor is a particularly human quality. Computers and machines can imitate all kinds of mechanical, rational human behavior, but they can’t crack jokes. Only our beautiful, biological, imprecise brains can react to the world with a new silly idea, like radical names for refrigerator leftovers.

Photo-syntho-soup. Brocc’o’leave Iraq pasta. Darn it Dahl Bush

The personal really is political. Those in power spread propaganda with their capitalist technological communications systems like television. Thus, the we need to learn how to spread the vision of liberation and life everywhere in humble, small, invisible ways. Like grass slowly growing up through the cracks in the concrete, perhaps our counter-information can eventually sneak up on the mighty machine and topple it.

Commie red spice sauce. Lentils against the war. Intersection blocking asparagus.

People in a resistance movement against imperial terrorism need to keep joy, inspiration and rebellion close at hand — like in a re-used yogurt container for your lunch. After each meal, we’d wash the dishes, wipe the counters and try to figure out what to name the food we had just eaten. After a while, we had to develop a few simple rules: the name had to give at least some vague idea of what the food was. Before the rule, the refrigerator became a collection of slogans devoid of any meaning. The rule made the game harder in a good way, because you had to figure out fancy relationships between food and a particular political message.

Coalition to marinate Tofu. Intl. Women’s Day Spread of Peace.

When your whole house is out in the street day after day resisting an unjust war — blocking intersections, hanging banners from freeway overpasses, going to meetings, tying up traffic with bike masses, painting signs — you’re going to need some good, nutritious food when you get home at night. In times of struggle, spending time to cook, eat and take care of yourself is even more important so you can be effective the next day. Cooking from scratch rather than eating out is best — and you get to name the leftovers.