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Updated: 3 years 19 weeks ago

CrimethInc. at the 2014 Bay Area Book Fair

Fri, 03/07/2014 - 7:11pm

We will be tabling at this year’s Bay Area Book Fair on March 22, as we have for over a decade. We will bring the brand new issue of Rolling Thunder and a great deal of other exciting material. One of the authors of our zine Self as Other will be presenting the workshop “Beyond Self-Care: The Subversive Potential of Care”. That evening, Catharsis will be playing a single West Coast reunion show. If you live in the area, we hope to see you at one of these events! Stay tuned for Crimethinc. activities on at least three continents in April.


Catharsis at la Miroiterie squat in Paris, 2013

The Ex-Worker #19: Anarchists In Revolt

Tue, 03/04/2014 - 6:19pm

#19: Anarchists In Revolt, From Bosnia to Peru – Our discussion of communism will have to wait… because post-socialist Bosnia is erupting in rebellion! In this episode, we share two interviews with anarchists from the Balkans reflecting on the current uprisings, along with recent updates and a Bosnian hip hop artist’s protest anthem. An Ex-Worker travels to Lima, Peru and sends back a report on a recent anarchist book and propaganda fair, including a group shout-out from a workshop about the podcast, live interviews and musical recordings. Listeners critique our treatment of market anarchism, an eco-defense prisoner explains police tactics, and news on state repression, prisoner strikes, and anti-extraction struggles round out our exploration of resistance to authority around the globe.

We’ll be back in two weeks with the episode we promised on what communists and socialists do (or don’t) have in common with anarchists. Until then, you can download this and all of our previous episodes online. You can also subscribe in iTunes here or just add the feed URL to your podcast player of choice. Rate us on iTunes and let us know what you think, or send us an email to podcast@crimethinc.com. You can also call us 24 hours a day at 202–59-NOWRK, that is, 202–596–6975.

Rolling Thunder #11 Shipping Soon

Mon, 03/03/2014 - 3:08pm

We are elated to announce that in just a couple short weeks we’ll be shipping out Rolling Thunder #11 to subscribers—we received the unbound, printed samples last week (pictured above) and they were absolutely perfect. Issue #11 begins what we consider to be the second series of Rolling Thunder and we think you’ll be pleasantly surprised with the small improvements we’ve made.

Rolling Thunder subscribers: If you have moved, now is the time to send us your new address, if you haven’t already; shoot an email to rtsubs@crimethinc.com with your new address and we’ll take care of it. Also, if you are a subscriber and didn’t get our new issue notification email two weeks ago, it means either your email service marked it as spam, or the email address we have on record for you is no longer valid—if the later is the case, drop us a line and lets us know your preferred contact email. Our most sincere thanks for subscribing, it’s what makes Rolling Thunder possible.

If you are NOT a Rolling Thunder subscriber: Now is a great time to subscribe—you’ll be sent the new issue the second it’s available (and weeks before it’s available to non-subscribers), and it’ll save you a ton of money (see below) compared to buying the issues one at a time. Subscriptions are essential to Rolling Thunder’s continued survival; if you believe Rolling Thunder to be a project worth supporting, please subscribe.

Subscription Cost Per Issue vs. Single Issue Cost:

  • In the US, to order a single issue costs $11.37 ($8 + $3.37 Media Mail Shipping), versus subscribing which costs just $25 total for four issues ($6.25 per issue).
  • Outside the US, to order a single issue costs $32 ($8 + $24 Global Priority Mail), versus subscribing which costs just $35 total for four issues ($8.75 per issue).

Anarchists in the Bosnian Uprising

Tue, 02/18/2014 - 4:25am

The past two weeks have seen a fierce new protest movement in Bosnia, commencing with the destruction of government buildings and continuing with the establishment of popular assemblies. Unlike the recent conflicts in Ukraine, this movement has eschewed nationalistic strife to focus on class issues. In a region infamous for ethnic bloodshed, this offers a more promising direction for the Eastern European uprisings to come.

To gain more insight into the protests, we conducted two interviews. The first is with a participant in Mostar, Bosnia, who describes the events firsthand. The second is with a comrade in a nearby part of the Balkans, who explains the larger context of the movement, evaluating its potential to spread to other parts of the region and to challenge capitalism and the state.

Interview with a Participant

Give us a brief timeline of the important events.

On Wednesday, February 5, workers from several local companies that were destroyed by post-war privatization organized another protest in front of the Cantonal Government Building in Tuzla. Those workers have been protesting peacefully for a decade, organizing strikes and hunger strikes—which were very common in Bosnia until this month—but nobody listened. For just about the first time in post-war Bosnia, young people organized over social networks to express solidarity with desperate workers. Almost 10,000 people supported their protest on Thursday, February 6; that was when the first clashes with the police happened, and the first attempt to enter the government building.

Tuzla, February 5, 2014

On Friday, February 7, more than 10,000 people gathered in the post-industrial city of Tuzla in front of the Cantonal Government building, asking for the Prime Minister’s resignation. The Prime Minister arrogantly refused to resign. None of the officials came out to speak to them, so people broke through the police lines, entered the building, and burned it down.

On the same day, solidarity protests with the workers of Tuzla were organized in almost all the industrial towns of Bosnia. News from Tuzla spread fast; people in Bihać, Sarajevo, Zenica, and Mostar felt that this could be a moment to try to win a change. After the police attacked protesters in Sarajevo, during which some of the people were pushed down and thrown into the river Miljacka, the crowd fought back, forcing back the police and burning down the building of the Cantonal Government, as well as the buildings of the Presidency (including the state flag), the municipality of Sarajevo Center, and several police cars and vans. In Bihać, people attacked the building of the Cantonal Government and smashed it up. The same thing happened in Zenica.

Everyone was anticipating the events in the ethnically divided city of Mostar. More than 4000 people gathered in front of the Cantonal Government, demanding resignations. Soon, the first rocks were thrown, to great applause. From that moment, more and more people were putting t-shirts, balaclavas, masks—whatever they could find—over their faces; without any police resistance, within a few minutes, the building was on fire. Then people went to the City Hall and burned it down, as well as the building of the cantonal Parliament, Mostar Municipality, and the offices of two leading nationalist political parties that have ruled this city since 1991. That made quite a statement.

Protests are still going on, and people have organized themselves in plenums [assemblies]. Four cantonal governments have been forced to resign. Two of them are negotiating with plenums about forming governments of people who are not active members of any political parties. The authorities are fighting back hard—spreading fear of another civil war, arresting people, beating them, pressing charges for terrorism and attack on constitutional order…

Tuzla, February 7, 2014

Who participated? How and why did the protests spread? What limits did they reach?

The participants were from all social groups. Workers, unemployed, pensioners, many young people, demobilized soldiers, activists, football fans, human rights activists, parents with their children…

The people of Bosnia and Herzegovina are the poorest in Europe. Unemployment is over 50%; among young people, it is over 70%. At same time, Bosnian politicians are among the best paid in southeast Europe, and the most corrupt. The healthcare system is the worst in Europe, and social safety nets are almost nonexistent. The society that was one of the most egalitarian in Europe 25 years ago now has a huge social gap.

Capitalism and the process of privatization have completely destroyed the local economy; all the big factories and companies that were saved during the war have been privatized and shut down. All the wealth is concentrated in the hands of a few. There is no production in Bosnia any more, only import. The authorities are taking bigger and bigger loans from the IMF, knowing that they have no way of paying them back—so we can expect to be forced to privatize Bosnian Telecom and Electro-energetic system, the last viable pubic companies.

Those are the main reasons for the protests. It’s hard to speak about the limits; the movement is still continuing on a daily basis, the protests as well as the meetings of the plenums. The demands that are being made by the plenums are clearly social: the revision of the privatization process and the like. Politicians are terrified of losing their privileges, their positions, their wealth, and their freedom; this is causing different political parties to unite against their own people. They are using the mainstream media to discredit protests and plenum participants. Religious leaders are pushed to speak against the protests in churches and mosques. People are being threatened with losing their jobs, and it is very difficult to get a job here. In Mostar, a trade union activist was brutally beaten up by “unknown persons.” In Sarajevo, a red Hummer car drove into the crowd of protesters.

Sarajevo, February 7, 2014

What organizational structures were involved in the protests? Did any pre-existing groups or organizations play an important role? How were decisions made? Have new relations or networks resulted?

The protests in Tuzla were sparked by the two Trade Unions of Dita and Polihem Tuzla, but they swiftly grew much bigger. None of the preexisting structures had the credibility or capacity to organize that many people. The protests themselves were spontaneous and chaotic. After a few days, the first organizational structures were formed, The Plenums of Citizens; this is the first time in recent history that the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina are practicing direct democracy. Decisions are made collectively at Plenum meetings. It’s a process, and we are all still learning it. All the Plenums of Bosnia and Herzgovina are currently working on forming an interplenum coordination.

Describe the political and strategic differences among the people who took to the streets. Have there been internal conflicts?

As no preexisting political groups had control over the protests, many different people are involved, with different political agendas. The main differences are about the use of force in self-defense and the limits of civil disobedience. But all the people are united when it comes to the social demands. During the plenum meetings, everyone speaks in his or her own name and takes part in the decision-making process, so there are no real internal conflicts yet. Some political parties are attempting to cause such a conflict, but people are sticking together and so far we have resisted this successfully.

Which concrete tactics did protesters employ? Which ones were effective? How did different tactics spread?

Right now, protesters are primarily using road blockades as a form of pressure. Often, they block several roads in the town centers at the same time for hours, which makes the authorities react. It all depends on how many people are in the street on that day. New tactics and strategies are being discussed. Road blockades are proving quite effective, but the downside is that if they occur on a daily basis, some people begin to turn against the protesters because this disturbs their daily routine—they can’t get to work or go shopping or whatever.

The tactic that made the politicians fear for the first time in last 18 years—that made many of them resign, that forced them propose many legal acts based on the demands of the protesters—was burning down the institutional buildings and political party offices. Many of the politicians were afraid that people would come to their homes to get them. Some have left the country.

Setting institutional buildings on fire is not going to solve any problems by itself. But most people agree that if this hadn’t happened, the politicians would have never resigned, or heard the people’s demands. None of us could even imagine 15 days ago that people would organize plenums, that politicians would be forced to negotiate with the people about forming nonpartisan governments, revising privatization, or cutting their salaries down to an average worker’s wages.

Speak about nationalism and ethnic tensions in the protests. What has changed since the 1990s?

I am so happy and even proud to report that there is absolutely no nationalism among the protesters, including the demobilized soldiers. This is one of the things that everyone keeps repeating: these protests are social, not national. All the nationalist political parties have tried to turn the social conflict into a national conflict, but so far they have failed. Solidarity among different social groups, different cities, different ethnic groups, and direct democracy experiments mark the biggest change since the 1990s.


Graffiti reading “Let’s fire all [politicians]—death to nationalism”

Has there been any influence in Bosnia/Herzegovina from the nearby uprisings and protest movements in Greece, Slovenia, Turkey, or elsewhere? What connections exist between comrades in Bosnia/Herzegovina and elsewhere in the Balkans and Europe? How should we compare what is happening in Bosnia/Herzegovina to the conflicts unfolding in Ukraine, for example?

The Turkish and Ukrainian protests have inspired people here to some extent. We are all aware of the repressive nature of the regimes there; if they could rise, why can’t we? Most of the active people of Balkans are connected. This is a small geographic area, and the radical left, anarchist, and non-institutional movements are small and weak, so the contacts are mainly individual, rarely resulting in concrete cooperation. Most often, we organize solidarity actions for each other, solidarity protests. The Balkan Anarchist Book Fair is one of our common projects.

The Bosnian protests have a much different character than the Ukrainian protests. The protests here are strictly social, unlike in Ukraine. It seems that the main demand there is loosening the ties to Russia and approaching the EU; there is a lot of neo-Nazi and radical right involvement. By contrast, the Bosnian protests are openly anti-nationalist.

Is there any chance of a wider wave of uprisings in Eastern Europe, following the so-called Arab Spring? What would that look like, if it did happen? What would be the possibilities and dangers?

It is hard to imagine a Balkan or Eastern European spring. But then again, if desperate and divided Bosnians could rise together against privatization and corruption, organize in plenums and practice direct democracy, then anything is possible! All the conditions are there. This region is poor, the privatization process ended tragically in all the new states, and there are a lot of people without any perspective for the future. If it does happen, it could play out in many different ways. One possibility is that the connections between the neighboring countries would strengthen, potentially taking new forms of economic and financial unions, based on principles that would be much more egalitarian that the present ones. This could posse a threat to the corporate European Union, and it could inspire people to rebel inside the EU.

The danger is obvious—that politicians will succeed in turning the social conflict into an inter-ethnic conflict. This is what they are trying to do in Bosnia at the moment. If capitalists feel seriously threatened, European and US structures will play this card. They have great previous experience with it, in the ex-Yugoslavian region especially.




Attack on the Cantonal Government Building in Mostar

Are there possibilities for a struggle to develop in Bosnia/Herzegovina that doesn’t just call for a new and more honest government, but that rejects the legitimacy of capitalism and the state altogether?

There is a possibility for an anti-capitalist struggle to develop. There are already lots of anti-capitalist banners at protests. Some people’s demands are explicitly anti-capitalist. But to reject the legitimacy of the State, there is hardly any possibility. In many people’s minds, there are still fresh memories of fighting a war to get an independent state. The majority of people here feel that if the state disintegrated, there would be another war. They have no experience, or even historical memory, of organizing without leaders, political parties, trade unions, or religious institutions. Only a few people know anything about anarchist political theories and practices.

What does the future hold?

We are going to see a minimal increase in social justice, for sure. We are going to see massive cuts to the privileges, benefits, and salaries of politicians at all institutional levels. But it’s not going to change the social picture of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The governments will need more funds, they will borrow money from the IMF and other global financial institutions, the debt will increase, and so will social unrest.

It’s clear that people are not willing to go on hunger strikes any more, to commit suicide for not being able to feed their children or pay back loans. They are ready for new forms of organizing. Spring is coming soon and more and more people will look for justice in the streets and, based on recent experience, in non-institutional forms. The current Bosnian economic, political, and institutional situation is so difficult that no one dares to make any long-term predictions, especially in the light of the recent events.




Attack on the City Hall in Mostar

And Elsewhere in the Balkans…

Is there a shared context between the events in Bosnia and the other recent explosions in Eastern Europe—Ukraine, Bulgaria, Romania, Slovenia? They have taken different forms, but do they spring from common conditions?

These struggles are connected on various levels, in particular in former Yugoslavia. It’s not just the shared history and language, nor the attention that our mainstream media focuses on events in other ex-Yugoslavian countries—it is also the fact that Yugoslavian republics were always multi-national, which only increased during and after the war. So information flows widely here, not just between activists. New methods of struggle and mobilization resonate in the collective imagination, and people adopt and adapt them.

As for what is common throughout the former Eastern bloc, I think people are experiencing the same basic problems. After more than twenty years of privatization, concrete memories of the repressive socialist years are fading, being replaced with a constructed nostalgia for a “good old days” that never existed. Meanwhile, people have become disillusioned with capitalism and all those promises about the free market and choice and democracy. In this situation, we see three basic demands over and over.

The first is to preserve the social state that is withering away, to stop the privatization of companies that always ends in massive layoffs and the elites making off with tremendous profits. The second is to throw out the current political representatives, and, more abstractly, opposition to “the system” in general. In former Yugoslavia, everyone has watched for years as the former socialist elites transformed into new capitalist ones, stealing millions while the people got even poorer. Elsewhere in the Eastern bloc, people who started from the same position and ideology of relative social(ist) equality have become interconnected with capitalist elites, using their political power to smooth the way for capitalist accumulation. This brings me to the third common demand: opposition to corruption, a logical conclusion of the other two demands.

During social explosions, these demands can produce different results. Many people seek a new “savior”—in Ukraine, this means the European Union, while elsewhere it means fresh political parties, such as Syriza in Greece. The pace at which cooptation of such explosions can occur, and the degree to which participants are radicalized, both depend largely on how well-organized anarchists and other anti-authoritarians are, and how quickly they respond to events. In Greece, for instance, Syriza knows they have very little mobilization potential compared to anarchist or communist organizations, so it is difficult for them to take over struggles.

What does it tell us that participants in these protests are refusing the forms of nationalism that have inflicted so much suffering in the region?

To understand the situation, we must back up to look at the whole picture. The solution that the “international community” (organizations like the UN, NATO, and EU) offered for the ethnic war of the 1990s was, of course, simply the continuation of this war by different means. With the Dayton “peace” agreement, they divided Bosnia into three major parts: Serbian, Muslim, and Croatian. All the institutions were tripled, everything was divided—streets, neighborhoods, villages and towns, cemeteries, hospitals, everything.

Practically, that means that if you graduate from a university in the Muslim part of Bosnia, the degree will not be recognized in the Serbian part. If you try to buy a ticket for Serbia in the Muslim part, sometimes they will not sell it to you, and vice versa. These problems caused by nationalism imposed by the elites just compound all the other problems I already described: unchecked privatization, corruption, economic and social breakdown. In Bosnia, unemployment is around 45 percent—60 percent for young people. Ten jobs are canceled every day, while prices and living costs are rapidly increasing.

What is happening now can be understood better in light of the movement Dosta (“Enough”) that started in 2006. Dosta grew from a small internet forum into regular weekly meetings of people in the central square in Sarajevo, getting bigger every week and addressing economic and social issues. It was the first moment after the war in which people came together regardless of nationality, and without being forced to be a part of a tripartite structure. Most of the protests were peaceful at first, but after a young person was stabbed on a tram, they became bigger and more oriented towards direct action. The parliament in Sarajevo was stoned and actions took place against some individual politicians. The organizational structure of Dosta spread into different cities, but it was politically diverse—including everyone from libertarian comrades to people who used it as an opportunity to form communist and social-democratic parties.

So, many years ago already, people turned away from the kind of nationalism that would divide them into Croat, Serb, and Muslim. The problem is that the solution for this was assumed to be that everyone should identify instead as Bosnians. Though it is exciting how anti-nationalistic today’s protests are, the problem is that this rejection of nationalism is premised on a new national identity, and there is little opposition to this sort of nation-building process intended to produce a new unification of people. On one level, this is better than remaining divided into three hostile parts that can be played against each other by the elites of Bosnia, Serbia, and Croatia. Yet as anarchists, we do not see building national identities as a solution for anything.


Banner in Mostar reading “Freedom is my nation”

What are the fault lines within this movement? What will happen next?

Tuzla, the starting place of the protests, used to be one of the most industrialized cities in Yugoslavia, with left-wing (socialist) unions and workers. Privatization hit Tuzla very hard. Workers from five factories were protesting in front of governmental and local institutions for months, if not the whole year—always peacefully, trying to engage someone in conversation. Finally, they simply had enough, came prepared, and started riots.

They were supported by protests in 33 cities. Some people from the traditional left are joining the current administration in calling for new elections, but the message from the streets is clear: no one represents us. After the parliaments, party headquarters, police stations, and other symbols of authority were burned, the institutional left realized that they were not in control of the narrative or of the way the protests were developing. As a result, they want to “normalize” the protests by delegitimizing diversity of tactics. As usual, their efforts intersect with the efforts of the government to crush the movement by means of direct repression: numerous arrests, injuring people during interrogations, and so on.

Right now, the plenums that emerged from the movement are drawing up to 1000 people in Tuzla, Sarajevo, and other cities. The fact that so many people wish to participate in these plenums reflects how alienated people feel from the so-called democratic process of the parliamentary system, in which the only form of participation is to vote for politicians who differ merely in name. These plenums don’t just express deep dissatisfaction with the parliamentarian system, they are also a step towards building alternative horizontal decision-making processes.

As for the content of these plenums, the proposals raised there vary from reformist to radical. With such big plenums, it can often happen that there are unequal power relations, excluding women or people who don’t have the same experience with public speaking.

Another danger is that people will accommodate themselves to merely making demands. Mainstream media and politicians ceaseless repeat the same old questions: Who are you? What do you want? Who can we talk to? What are your demands? It can be hard not to fall in this trap. But to establish mutual understanding and solidarity, we need time to develop our ideas and desires. It takes time to imagine alternatives beyond reforming the existing system; identifying demands at the beginning of a revolt only closes the political space in which we could form a new vision together. When the elites try to impose their understanding of time and the rules of their game, refusing to cooperate makes us stronger, not weaker. It can also thwart the emergence of authorities within the movement, keeping it decentralized and horizontal.

It’s hard to say which direction the revolt will develop. But we can already say that this is an important step towards building a culture of resistance in the Balkans, which can serve as an inspiration elsewhere. Similar demonstrations have already spread to neighboring Montenegro.

Given the experience from Croatia, Slovenia, and other similar struggles, I am afraid that the political space that opened on the streets will close soon, due to the absence of organized networks of libertarian activists. It appears that the dominant discourse will be channeled into the nation-building process—new elections, new parties, and the like—repressing the most radical ideas and class consciousness of this resistance, which is still emphasized by those who remain on the streets. This is not unexpected. My hope is that anarchist and autonomist groups and individuals who found each other on the streets will now be capable of building a stronger network and general culture of resistance, so as to be more prepared next time something like this happens. Because it will.

What is happening is exciting and important, but it is just one episode in a longer struggle. Because of our region’s socialist past, we don’t have a living history of anti-authoritarian movements; we need to develop the ability to practice horizontal decision-making and direct action during this and future struggles. In that regard, every opening like this is an opportunity to move forward.


Plenum in Mostar

Further Reading

English-language coverage—the source is ideologically questionable, but it offers a lot of useful sources

Bosnian coverage from anarchists

The Ex-Worker #18: Anarcho-Capitalism

Thu, 02/13/2014 - 3:33am

Anarchism ain’t what it used to be … if you search iTunes or Youtube these days, you’ll find defenders of capitalism and private property claiming the A word more than ever. In our 18th installment of the Ex-Worker, our twice monthly podcast, we kick off a two episode series discussing what anarchism isn’t, as Clara and Alanis step in to debunk anarcho-capitalism. Surveying the range of libertarian ideologies in the US, we assess the similarities and differences between these opponents of the state and anti-capitalist anarchists, while clarifying how their free market fantasies fall short of a genuinely anarchist vision of freedom. Our critiques of private property and the free market conclude with a hilarious interview with an anarchist graphic designer about their misadventures laying out a book on “market anarchism.” We also hear from recently released grand jury resister Jerry Koch about the insight he’s gained into the importance of prisoner solidarity to anarchist struggle, while his lawyer explains how grand juries are used as tools of political repression and how we can resist them. Listeners offer corrections, suggestions, and updates on prisoner struggles, while plenty of news updates and announcements round out our longest episode yet!

You can download this and all of our previous episodes online. You can also subscribe in iTunes here or just add the feed URL to your podcast player of choice. Rate us on iTunes and let us know what you think, or send us an email to podcast@crimethinc.com. You can also call us 24 hours a day at 202–59-NOWRK, that is, 202–596–6975.

Anarchist Book Fair in Lima, Peru: Report

Sat, 02/08/2014 - 4:56pm

Last weekend, a CrimethInc. operative participated in the first Anarchist Book and Propaganda Fair in Lima, Peru. Here follows his detailed report, including photographs and a few comments on the situation of anarchists in Peru.

Disclaimer: I claim—no, I exclaim!—that this account is incomplete and erroneous. It is brought to you through the lens of a North American traveler with a less than skillful mastery of the Spanish language. Nonetheless, this is how I experienced the First Anarchist Book and Propaganda Fair in Lima, Peru.

It’s been almost ten years since I came to Peru. The country was about to inaugurate a new president, only the second president to take office since the Fujimori dictatorship of the 1990s. Although “democracy” had arrived and the Shining Path had largely disintegrated, the country wasn’t in good shape. An incomplete 20-year-old monorail system loomed over the city, casting shadows of past leaders’ empty promises. The center of counterculture was a graffitied, three-block street called Jiron Quilca. It housed an anarcho-punk infoshop, Asko Social, a couple of anti-capitalist cultural centers, as well as bookstores and little shops with bootleg metal and rock paraphernalia. On Jiron Quilca, I was lucky enough to attend a celebration of the 70-year anniversary of the beginning of the Spanish Civil War.


Today, Jiron Quilca still has much of the same commerce, but its status as a countercultural hub has evaporated. Many of the bookstores, music bootleggers, and graffiti are still there, but Asko Social and the other anti-capitalist spots are gone, and with them much of the street life. A nearby church that owns much of the property has run these establishments out, hoping to cash in on the gentrifying downtown. While Jiron Quilca seems like a ghost town, the long delayed metro-rail project has been completed, and a speedy metro-bus system has been introduced. The neighborhood where Abimael Guzman, the leader of the Shining Path guerrillas, was finally arrested—a reputation that you might think would drive down property value—is now one of the fastest gentrifying parts of the city, with new luxury apartment buildings and a gigantic mall. This was not the city I had seen almost a decade ago.

But the anarchist movement has changed too. There is new blood—young blood—and there are new ideas as well.


One of these new ideas was to host Lima`s first-ever Anarchist Book and Propaganda Fair. The fair took place the weekend of February 1-2, 2014. It was hosted in the union hall of the Federation of Bakers, Star of Peru (Federacion Obreros Panaderos Estrella del Peru), a union with anarcho-syndicalist roots founded in 1887.

The day before the book fair, in exchange for use of the space, local anarchists and visitors helped repair furniture, fix the bathroom, sweep, and dust the space, and one gringo even gave the tall, decaying face of the building a new (albeit mediocre) paint job via an incredibly dangerous ladder! The day of the book fair, the space was transformed with beautiful, large posters expressing solidarity, impromptu art exhibitions, and red and black flags.



Over twenty different publishers and projects tabled. These included radical media projects, a DIY feminist craft collective, regularly published anarchist periodicals, authors with their own books on anarchist history, an anarchist hip hop journal, and plenty of anarcho-punk distributors. Our CrimethInc. cell was a proud participant, albeit with a meager selection of translations. However, many other distributors had translated CrimethInc. texts on their tables as well. If you want to help translate more material, please get in touch!


One of the most popular items on our table was a Spanish version of the Gender Subversion poster. An older, conspicuously non-punk woman insisted on paying one of the neighboring tablers for the poster even though the ex-worker staffing the table was not present. When this ex-worker returned, the neighbor recounted this woman’s enthusiasm and background. She grew up in a shantytown of Lima known for an especially high level of self-organization. The women of this area self-organized public kitchens, education committees, and sewage and electricity projects. In what became one of the highest-profile murders of the era, a socialist woman who led these efforts was eventually assassinated by Maoist Shining Path rebels who were suspicious of anyone organizing outside their authority. This book fair attendee had a granddaughter who raps and skateboards, who is criticized for not acting girly enough. The grandmother was excited to give her granddaughter the poster and to continue the tradition of strong, self-determined women that she grew up around during the Shining Path conflict.

Three kinds of presentations took place during the weekend: Talleres, which were more or less skillshares; Foros, forums for discussions of ideas and action; and presentations on current projects or newly published anarchist material. Many of the workshops and foros were also accompanied by newly published zines on their respective topics.

The workshops included capoeira, wood and linoleum printmaking, and anarchist poetry. There were forums on intra-movement work and cooperation, anarcho-syndicalism, anarcho-primitivism, free love, revolutionary violence vs. terrorism, the anti-mining conflicts in Cajamarca, and anarchist internationalism in regards to the legacy of the war of the Pacific that pitted Chile against Peru and Bolivia.



Authors presented on a book about the history of Chilean anarchism between 1890 and 1990 and herbal healing and medical self-determination. There was also a brief but well-received presentation about the Ex-Worker podcast.



The space was drug and alcohol free, something anarchists in Lima seem to be experimenting with recently. This is a change from the Spanish Civil War anniversary during my last visit, at which many audience members had beer in their hands. To illustrate this trend, one local show space has been successfully hosting drug and alcohol free punk shows. One of the reasons for this is to avoid provoking repression, but many of the punks who live there have young children as well. This might also explain why the book fair had an enthusiastically attended childcare space with mats to play on, art projects, books, and fantastic volunteers.

In the middle of the first day, time was set aside in the tabling area for tablers to present their projects, explain why they were there, and express what they hoped to get out of the book fair. This turned out to be intimate and beautiful; perhaps book fairs in the US could try it. One presenter made a humble and touching speech: “I believe every anarchist is a propagandist, whether we are talking to people on the street, our family, or our friends. Just because I am behind a table with books and you are in front of it doesn’t mean you know anything less about anarchism than I do. We all have something to learn from each other.”


In an interview carried out by the ex-worker, one of the book fair organizers explained the idea behind holding this book fair: “We consider it very important to resist the whole set of distortions, defamations, and falsifications that are perpetrated by the means of power. This includes the press and even the realm of academia, which many times has attempted to silence, or make us forget, the history of anarchism, which has had a very important presence in Peru´s history. And also, to show that anarchists are involved in lots of different kinds of things. We’re hosting this book fair to promote the idea that people can assemble their own texts, edit their own texts, and disseminate them in spaces like this. Anarchists aren’t just involved in confrontations at demonstrations—I mean, they are doing that, but we’re doing other things too. So, we’re resisting this narrow view of anarchism and hopefully making people realize that anarchism is an alternative, one that can be fulfilled. Hopefully even more people can participate in the next book fair, and I believe were getting there, little by little.”



Another participant explained her enthusiasm for the event: “Many times when we have been in different conversations we have said ‘Well, we see the same faces’ and what we would really like is for other people, like young people like we see that are here, for them to be here, for them to be with us, sharing a different environment, a different type of thing that they don’t get to see in school, that they don’t get to see in the streets, that they don’t get to see in the TV or on the radio, nowhere. That’s the most important thing, for people that are not in these places to actually get to connect with these types events, these types of conversations, these types of talks, these types of relationships. Because the type of relationships we have is very much different from the type of relationship you see outside, which is mainly a type of mercantile relationship, an exchange, you talk to that person because you`re going to buy something or you talk to that person because you work with them.  It’s all because of a capitalist relationship. What we’re harvesting here, in these places, is another type of relationship, a relationship of a different type of society that is not on a basis of money or exploitation or anything like that. And the thing is finding out how…”



At the end of the last day, a very old man from the Bakers’ Federation, the union who shared their union hall for the book fair, shared some words. He spoke for five minutes, and concluded, “This is a space that serves every comrade. It doesn’t belong only to our union, it belongs to anarchism… It animates me to see so many young people here. In you, the young, I put my faith that you will use this meeting as a step to reignite a revolutionary struggle. This is not the first anarchist meeting to take place here, and we hope it will not be the last. I can see that the libertarian vein runs through your bodies.”



After a loud round of applause and cheering, the book fair spontaneously transformed into an unstructured assembly for people to share their experiences, news about recent repression, and ideas for the future. Then someone took out a cajòn, guitar, and kazoo, and people sang, danced, and rapped until it was time to leave.



While cleaning up, my Peruvian hosts and I discussed the book fair. Overall, people left energized and inspired. They said that their only real complaint was that there were not more people from Lima who attended. As an outsider but also as a comrade who has attended my share of anarchist book fairs, I hope that I impressed upon them what a success their event was, and that they worked together spectacularly. From South America to North America, a la mierda la autoritad!

The Ex-Worker #17: Conspiracy!

Sat, 01/25/2014 - 3:46am

Trial has begun for the NATO 3, Chicago anarchists facing domestic terrorism charges as a result of police infiltration during a 2012 protest summit. To understand the case and its context, Episode 17 of the Ex-Worker explores the state’s strategy to repress anarchists and social movements through the use of conspiracy charges and entrapment. We interview three activists from the front lines of anti-repression work: a member of the NATO 3 support team, a volunteer with the animal liberation counter-information collective Bite Back, and an anarchist supporter of the Almighty Latin King and Queen Nation. Our Chopping Block review examines Green is the New Red: An Insider’s Account of a Social Movement Under Siege while more listeners write in to share what anarchism means to them. News across the world includes anarchist typhoon relief efforts, Indiana prisoner resistance, and Christian anarchists striking back against sexism. A brief discussion by political prisoner Veronza Bowers, Jr. about repression against the Black Panther Party and an announcement from an organizer with Everglades Earth First! round out one of our most action-packed episodes to date.

You can download this and all of our previous episodes online. You can also subscribe in iTunes here or just add the feed URL to your podcast player of choice. Rate us on iTunes and let us know what you think, or send us an email to podcast@crimethinc.com. You can also call us 24 hours a day at 202–59-NOWRK, that is, 202–596–6975.

The Ex-Worker #16: Back to Black

Mon, 01/13/2014 - 2:02am

It’s a new year and a new episode of the Ex-Worker! In the sixteenth installment of our twice-monthly podcast, we backtrack a little to cover our biggest topic ever: what is anarchism? What pathways led today’s rebels to embrace anarchy, and what does it mean to them? We’ll hear from historical and contemporary anarchists in a collage weaving together first person experiences and definitions. Also, listeners write in to elaborate on the situation in Ukraine we reported on in our last episode, and to share a provocative perspective on the relationship between religion and anarchism. We’ve also got our usual news, upcoming events, and prisoner birthdays. Tune in to hear the poignant stories of an anarchist generation.

You can download this and all of our previous episodes online. You can also subscribe in iTunes here or just add the feed URL to your podcast player of choice. Rate us on iTunes and let us know what you think, or send us an email to podcast@crimethinc.com.

Beyond Self-Care: Speaking Tour

Fri, 01/03/2014 - 2:25am

This year, contributors to our recent zine Self as Other: Reflections on Self-Care will present on the revolutionary potential of care in a series of speaking events. The first round of these include:

January 10 – 7:00pm at Fellowship Hall, Durham, NC

January 11 – 7:30pm at Red Emma’s, Baltimore, MD [Download Flyer]

January 12 – 7:00pm at the Flying Brick Library, Richmond, VA [Download Flyer]

If you are interested in setting up an event, email rollingthunder@crimethinc.com.

Beyond Self-Care: The Subversive Potential of Care

In activist circles and beyond, it has become commonplace to speak of self-care, taking for granted that the meaning of this expression is self-evident. But “self” and “care” are not static or monolithic; nor is “health.” How has this discourse been colonized by capitalist values? Contributors to the recent zine Self as Other: Reflections on Self-Care will present on the political dimensions of care, illuminating how it can serve oppressive or revolutionary purposes. Taking the self as an object of political struggle, this discussion will ask how health and resistance are linked, and what forms of care might be be able to subvert systems of power.

Episode #15: The Ex-Worker Holiday Special

Tue, 12/17/2013 - 2:00am

It’s that time of the year again: massive consumer binges propping up an economy in crisis, Greek rioters torching Christmas trees, and… the Ex-Worker holiday special! In Episode 15 of our twice-monthly podcast, Clara and Alanis take a whirlwind tour through two hundred years of blistering anarchist critiques of religion and morality. From romantic poets to guillotined dynamite artists, from Enlightenment philosophers to punk rockers, anarchists have never been so fiery as when they’ve denied the gods and affirmed our right to determine our own values. The discussion touches on direct actions against religion, the shifting politics of atheism, and the contradictions of Christian anarchism. Prison rebel Sean Swain responds to our episode on fascism, a murderous police department receives some crime stopping tips, and we offer anarchist reflections on Nelson Mandela’s legacy, decapitated Lenin statues, and Finnish hockey riots. As the Greeks say: Merry Crisis and Happy New Fear!

Our first episode of the new year will deal with stepping back and defining what anarchism means, and we’re looking for listener contributions, so send in your thoughts to podcast@crimethinc.com, or leave us a voicemail at 202-59-NOWRK.

You can download this and all of our previous episodes online. You can also subscribe in iTunes here or just add the feed URL to your podcast player of choice. Rate us on iTunes and let us know what you think, or send us an email to podcast@crimethinc.com.

CrimethInc. Gift Pack Experiment

Thu, 12/05/2013 - 5:40pm

For us, this week started with a flurry of bulk book orders from people getting them as gifts for the holiday. It reminded us that outreach takes many forms—and giving books to close friends and family might be one of the most efficient and effective methods there is. Reflecting on it, we decided to try a little experiment this year: our first ever sale, with books 27%-50% off.

We’ve made three simple gift packs designed for different types of recipients: Contradictionary, our most broadly appealing book, suitable for everyone, but an especially delightful Trojan horse for fans of the printed word; Work, an excellent introduction to anti-capitalist ideas for curious folks questioning the forces that shape our world; and Rolling Thunder, perfect for immersing radicals and free-thinkers alike in the contemporary anarchist milieu, providing an excellent base from which to begin exploring real-world projects and actions.

So, if you find yourself caving to the gift-giving pressures of this time of year, or you simply want to share the ideas that are important to you with the people who matter most in your life, these could be a great place to start:

Contradictionary: 5 copies for $20, 27% off regular wholesale price. All five books come with special release bookmark and pencil (usually limited to one per order). Add Contradictionary Gift Pack to cart.

Work: 3 copies for $15, 50% off regular price. All three books come with a copy of the bulk capitalist pyramid poster (usually just one per order). Add Work Gift Pack to cart.

Rolling Thunder Bundle: 3 bundles for $15, 35% off regular price. Each bundle contains the 3 most recent issues of Rolling Thunder (#10, #9, #8); well over 300 pages per bundle. Add Rolling Thunder Bundle Gift Pack to cart.

Each pack comes with 10 PRISM stickers (which make excellent stocking stuffers), and are limited to three of each pack per person. Sale ends January 1st.


Update 12/13: Also, we just had some new mail order wrapping paper printed, replacing the previous design we’ve used for the last three years. All books in every order get wrapped in this paper to aid in protecting them as they venture across the globe to you. We’ve learned from experience and made a more modular design to support the various sizes we end up using—the end result being a more tailored final appearance. Who the fuck cares you may ask? Well, when you spend hours every day of your life making these packages for people, a new wrapping paper is a pretty big deal, so yay for us! Sometimes it’s the small things that get you through another long day. We hope you enjoy the new design a fraction as much as we do.

The Ex-Worker #14: Squat the World!

Sun, 12/01/2013 - 7:12pm

In this episode, Alanis and Clara allegedly break into an abandoned building to begin a conversation about squatting–and why it’s so important to anarchists. This episode includes two interviews–one with participants in a squatted social center in the United States, and one from an anti-infrastructure land occupation project in France. We’ll also hear the soothing sounds of listener feedback, regarding our last episode and some further clarifications about technology, a review of Hannah Dobbz’s “Nine-tenths of the Law: Property and resistance in the United States,” news, upcoming events, and prisoner birthdays.

We’ve just been chugging along with the podcast—can you believe this is our 14th episode?!—and realized we haven’t actually taken a step back and defined what anarchism means. Our first episode of the new year will deal with this topic, and we’re looking for listener contributions, so send in your thoughts to podcast@crimethinc.com, or leave us a voicemail at 202-59-NOWRK.

You can download this and all of our previous episodes online. You can also subscribe in iTunes here or just add the feed URL to your podcast player of choice. Rate us on iTunes and let us know what you think, or send us an email to podcast@crimethinc.com.

The Ex-Worker #13: Ones and Zeroes

Tue, 11/19/2013 - 3:27am

Some radicals believe the internet prefigures a decentralized utopia; others foresee a new digital feudalism of total management and surveillance. In our long-awaited thirteenth episode of the Ex-Worker, Clara and Alanis take on the recent CrimethInc. feature “Deserting the Digital Utopia,” teasing out some of the limitations and possibilities of resistance that engages with digital technologies. A supporter of imprisoned radical hacker Jeremy Hammond discusses his anti-authoritarian politics and the military, corporate, police, and intelligence agencies he targeted with his hacks. Listeners lambast us on our grievous gaffe from last episode, sketchy cops and masked marchers populate the news, and we announce an anarchist primer competition (even if we can’t agree on how to pronounce it).

You can download this and all of our previous episodes online. You can also subscribe in iTunes here or just add the feed URL to your podcast player of choice. Rate us on iTunes and let us know what you think, or send us an email to podcast@crimethinc.com.




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