For information about the teach-in, marches, concert, and memorial social/picnic check out http://may1chicago.org
Saturday, 7:30am. A blockade is in effect at La Casita community center at Whittier Elementary School, 1900 W 23rd street. More and more cops have been showing up during the last 2 hours. Union workers honored the picket and turned away but demolition trucks just showed up on site.
Please go there if you can!
The weekend of April 26th, we held the 13th (mostly) annual Chicago Anarchist Film Festival (CAFF) at Metzli Gallery in Pilsen. It was three days of radical cinema from all over the world including animation, shorts, documentaries, and feature length films. To celebrate our lucky 13th year, we adopted the black cat as our logo and mascot. This kitty (associated with superstition, wildcat strikes, and industrial sabotage) is referred to endearingly as “Sabo” by many anarchists. Each day of films was themed around this anti-authoritarian icon — ‘Sabotage’, ‘Wild Cat Strikes Again’, and ‘Nine Lives’.
Friday evening was all about ‘Sabotage’. It began with a few solemn films on state repression and how the State sabotages radical moments – from COINTELPRO and the arrest of Martin Sostre to the current imprisonment of the Pacific Northwest grand jury resisters. Following these films, members of Four Star facilitated a discussion with the attendees on issues of security culture, agent provocateurs, snitching, and ways to keep organizing while facing repression. Following the discussion, the tone of the evening took a turn for the positive with films on fighting back or “sabotage as direct action.” The feature film this evening was Just Do It!: A Tale of Modern Day Outlaws, a full length documentary about “professional domestic extremists” in England.
Saturday was all about ‘Wild Cat Strikes Again!’, paying homage to the wildcat strike tactic where workers take direct action by going on strike without the official authorization of their trade union. We watched a series of short films, including Kawomms! The Workers Crown, a 14 minute pencil drawn animated film about workers and industrialism, which was particularly interesting and is available on both Youtube and Vimeo. This evening’s feature film was Greening the Revolution. It shared a detailed vision of how capitalism affects farming across the globe and what workers in the agricultural industry are doing to fight back. Both Friday and Saturday evenings saw a full house with standing room only.
Sunday was my favorite day of the festival. The theme of the afternoon matinee was ‘Nine Lives: The Future is Still Unwritten,’ with the feature film being Ghosts with Shit Jobs in its Chicago debut. This film gives us insight into what would happen if China and North America switched places in the future and what that would look like for workers in both countries. We follow workers in the digital janitor, baby making, human spam, and silk gathering industries to see what it’s like in North America in 2040. The filmmaker, Jim Munroe, was in attendance and led a very interesting discussion and Q&A after the movie. After this lively talk, everyone headed to Township in Logan Square for the CAFF fundraiser of Punk Rock Karaoke. The bar was packed, the energy was great, money was raised, and it was the perfect way to end this amazing Chicago weekend.
We had awesome raffle prizes from local businesses and organizations such as Revolution Brewery, Handlebar, the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), PM press, and many more. Several local organizations also came out to table CAFF. We had Four Star Anarchist Organization, South Side Anti-Racist Action, IWW, NATO 3 Defense Committee, & the Blair Pathways Music Project. All in all, between CAFF & Punk Rock Karaoke, we raised enough money to not only cover all the costs of this year’s event, but to actually get us ahead in planning for next year. All of this was done on a sliding scale donation with no one turned away for lack of funds. Anarchy is the best.
Report provided by Wren, a creative and hard-working member of Four Star and a CAFF 2013 organizer.
A SHORT HISTORY OF MAY DAY
The first of May is a moment for us to remember the Chicago Haymarket Martyrs of 127 years ago. These Chicago anarchists helped to lead the major battle of the day, not only for the 8 Hour Day, but also for social liberation.
The origins of May Day go back to May 4, 1886, marking the Haymarket Massacre. This memorable day began as a rally of striking workers who were demanding an eight-hour work day, climaxing with a bomb produced by an unknown individual while the police dispersed the peaceful rally. The blast and ensuing gunfire resulted in the deaths of seven police officers and at least four civilians; scores of others were wounded.
Eight anarchists were convicted of conspiracy during the legal proceedings that followed. Although the evidence was scarce, and it could not be proven that any of the eight defendants had thrown the explosive projectile, seven were sentenced to death and one to 15 years in prison. The death sentences of two of the defendants were commuted to life in prison, and another committed suicide before his hanging. The other four were hanged on November 11, 1887. In 1893, Illinois’ new governor pardoned the remaining defendants and criticized the evidence that was used during trial.
Since this day, we honor those who have fought, sacrificed and died for the defense and advancement of the working class.
Since the events of Haymarket, we have wrestled much from the capitalist class and the state through struggle. During the past 30 years, these forces have attacked our small, yet hard-fought-for gains. Continued attacks on working conditions, increasingly precarious and low wage work, deindustrialization, and marginalization have become the new normal. Governments have imposed round after round of social austerity measures, where workers and families have been expected to swallow cuts to public funding of services so that the richest can continue to profit from the fruits of our labor.
TODAY’S STRUGGLES / TOMORROW’S STRUGGLES
Despite this grim situation, today we have much to celebrate and look forward to. Over the last year, we have seen in Québec the biggest social movements in Canadian history spearheaded by combative unions to fight against neoliberal cuts to education and for quality free education. The Chicago Teachers Union went on strike and joined with parents and community members to protect their bargaining rights and working conditions and fight school closures. Workers from various fast food chains, warehouses, car washes and superstores, which have historically been near impossible to organize into business unions, have been participating in strike actions and various direct action in the demand for better working conditions. Unionized longshore workers have been fighting to hold the line on additional concessions to the bosses in one of the last bastions of union density and shopfloor power. While we celebrate these efforts and whatever small victories gained thus far, working class victory can only come from struggles owned and controlled by the workers themselves, not from above but from below and built with their own self-activities.
These developments within the broader labor movement are a welcome sight in comparison to what is seen by some as a decade of relative inactivity. We see it as important that the workers and community partners involved in these campaigns recognize that they are confronting head-on the relationship between the ruling and working classes, and that successfully challenging this relationship will require more than one-day strikes and solidarity rallies. It will require nothing less than workers forcefully overcoming barriers of race, migration status, gender, sexuality, and gender identity to unite as one class, bound by continuous solidarity, and always pushing forward through escalations of action.
THE NEED FOR A NEW WORKERS’ MOVEMENT
We hope this new, combative spirit by some workers invigorates a new and militant workers’ movement in North America—a workers’ movement that will no longer wait for politicians and bureaucrats to resolve the growing inequalities and oppressions. This spirit might bring a new wave of workers to replace the stale unionism with more democratic, combative and autonomous labor organizations which realize that laws and political institutions are put in place for the defense of the ruling class, and that only our own labor organizations, autonomous from the political institutions, can bring about the effective fighting force needed to replace the current, and build a new world.
This new workers’ movement should be allied with supportive movements, such as those against cuts to social services and education, and those movements against all forms of oppression and inequality. We see the interconnectedness of various forms of oppression as we wage these struggles, along with the fights against the expansion of and brutality of police forces and prisons, the criminalization of the poor and undocumented, and the continued attacks on reproductive freedoms. As these and many other forms of oppression work in conjunction with class exploitation, we must build movements which see common interest in these struggles and which actively and mutually oppose the assaults on one another.
A NEW WORLD TO BUILD
By engaging in these struggles, we gain necessary experience, initiate needed debates, and confront the current austerity agenda of the elite outside of current labor laws. Through struggle, we lay the possible foundations of a future world. Through struggle, we can as a class start to imagine and organize for a classless society and one completely emancipated from all forms of oppression. This May Day, just like every other, is a call for workers to organize against the everyday exploitation of capitalism. In the spirit of those who fought for the eight hour day, let us continue the fight for the advancement of our class.
We need to look toward building a society without power, profit, and privilege, in which working people in workplaces and communities make the decisions about how our work is done and what we want from it. We need a movement that fights for real gains within the context of this society while using its own organizations as the basis for a new one.
In Struggle & Solidarity,
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July 31st is the international day of action against racism and fascism. To add to the festivities, Four Star Anarchist Organization put on a film screening of the movie Antifa: Chasseurs de Skins. Short for “anti-fascism,” Antifa is an international movement of radicals organizing direct action against fascism of all forms. The film is about early Antifa groups in Paris and what they did to fight a re-surging fascism in their hometown.
The party started around 7:15pm with the excellent film. We packed quite a few people into the Mess Hall, including people from the Chicago Commune and South Side Chicago Anti-Racist Action. The popcorn and goodies went quickly during our discussion on historic and modern Antifa work. It was really great to be able to talk with others pretty intimately about a form of work so many Chicago anarchists and radicals can get behind. This kind of coming together of tendencies doesn’t happen often in Chicago; we hope this event inspires more of its kind.
For every attendee, Four Star Anarchist Organization donated $5 to the Hoosier Anti-Racist Movement, the group the Tinely Park 5 allegedly are from.
For a fascism free future!
On Wednesday July 26th, the FBI conducted a series of coordinated raids against activists in Portland, Olympia, and Seattle. They subpoenaed several people to a special federal grand jury, and seized computers, black clothing and anarchist literature. This comes after similar raids in Seattle in July and earlier raids of squats in Portland.
Though the FBI has said that the raids are part of a violent crime investigation, the truth is that the federal authorities are conducting a political witch-hunt against anarchists and others working toward a more just, free, and equal society. The warrants served specifically listed anarchist literature as evidence to be seized pointing to the fact that the FBI and police are targeting this group of people because of their political ideas. Pure and simple, these raids and the grand jury hearings are being used to intimidate people whose politics oppose the state’s agenda. During a time of growing economic and ecological crises that are broadly affecting people across the world, it is an attempt to push back any movement towards creating a world that is humane, one that meets every person’s needs rather than serving only the interests of the rich.
This attack does not occur in a vacuum. Around the country and around the world, people have been rising up and resisting an economic system that puts the endless pursuit of profit ahead of the basic needs of humanity and the Earth. From the Arab Spring to the Occupy movement to now Anaheim, people are taking to the streets. In each of these cases, the state has responded with brutal political repression. This is not a coincidence. It is a long-term strategy by state agencies to stop legitimate political challenges to a status quo that exploits most of the world’s people.
We, the undersigned, condemn this and all other political repression. While we may have differences in ideology or chose to use different tactics, we understand that we are in a shared struggle to create a just, free, and liberated world, and that we can only do this if we stand together. We will not let scare tactics or smear campaigns divide us, intimidate us, or stop us from organizing and working for a better world.
No more witch-hunts! An injury to one is an injury to all.
For more information, click here.
“We want a society based upon mutual aid and empowerment rather than coercion and social economic political power,” Slavin told me Wednesday during a 90-minute chat in an Evanston café.
Slavin hasn’t made up his mind yet whether he will be among the anarchists in the streets over the next few days for the simple reason that he’s a father now and doesn’t want to do anything to interfere with his parental responsibilities — presumably such as getting arrested. Even anarchists have lives. With NATO in town this weekend and the protests already in full swing, I figured I’m not the only person more than a bit curious about who these anarchists are, what they believe and what they want.
Apparently, that’s a little like asking what Democrats or Republicans believe — it depends on which ones you’re asking, only with anarchists, there’s an even wider range of philosophical orientations.
Plus, not everyone we see causing trouble during protests is a real anarchist.
Slavin wouldn’t presume to speak for all anarchists, although he believes he understands what motivates them to be out there, just as it has motivated him.
“Been there. Done that,” said Slavin, whose bona fides include getting arrested at the 2008 Republican National Convention in Minnesota.
“A lot of people are really frustrated and haven’t found a way to channel their angst. I understand the mentality. I think people need to put the angst into positive, constructive forms of action,” he said.
By the way, Slavin said he voted for Barack Obama in that 2008 election, but not out of any conviction the Illinois senator would make a better president. Slavin said he calculated that when Obama’s liberal Democratic policies failed, it would hasten the day the American left wakes up to the idea that mainstream politics — Democrat or Republican — is never going to provide the solutions they seek.
Slavin is treasurer of the Four Star Anarchist Organization, Chicago’s only aboveground anarchist group. The group draws its name from the four stars in the Chicago flag, its website explaining: “While we feel no love for the city’s elite, this is our home and someday we hope to set it free.”
Four Star was formed in 2008. Slavin didn’t get here until the next year after completing his PH.D. from Purdue University.
The lean Virginia native said he can remember debating anarchistic philosophy in high school, but it wasn’t until the onset of the Iraq War during his time at Purdue that his politics were radicalized.
Slavin, whose brother is an Army major, said it was the “unquestioning allegiance” of the American public to the war effort that set him on his current course.
Slavin favors a tradition of anarchism known as “platformist” or “anarcho-communist,” which draws some of its inspiration from the Spanish Revolution.
Four Star normally has 14 or 15 members at a time, although people come and go and as many as 40 have been involved at one point or another, Slavin said.
These have included law students, authors, artists and physical therapists ranging in age from their 20s to their 40s.
The mother of his child is among them. Instead of getting married, they held a commitment ceremony at the same west suburban cemetery where one can find the monument to the Haymarket Martyrs and the burial plot of anarchist icon Emma Goldman.
To the extent Four Star members are involved in NATO protests, it will be as “street medics” to care for injured demonstrators and to distribute information on how to stay safe — from police, Slavin said. He argues the chief risk is from police over-response and “agent provocateurs” who start trouble to make anarchists look bad.
If you’re looking for me to be judgmental, come back another day. This is for informational purposes. Supply your own angst.