SUMMER 80 #6
Peter Abailard, Marty Blatt, Peter Cariani, Robert D'Attilio, Charlie Gamble, Ann Kotell. Richard Mandel, Cliff Ragsdale
Wilfredo Chiesa, Robert D'Attilio, Jose Delgado-Guitart, Jorge Drosten, Ian Drummond
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Typesetting by the Boston Community Center
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SUMMER 80 #6
Or Lucubrations on a Theme.
Ari, the artist can only acquire significance by being a member of society To escape from society (if that were possible) is to escape from the only soil fertile enough to nourish art
A work of art need not contain any statement of a political or of <1 social or of a philosophical conviction, but it nearly always implies one.
VoX. DC JULY 1914- Mo. S
Make no mistake that the notion of a society composed of free, creative beings is deeply subversive to the ruling order
Art ol the past moves us only as our nostalgia for childhood.'
— Karl Marx
1 There will be no art in reconciled society Beauty will be lived and no longer imagined. Reality, become entirely rational, will satisfy completely by itself every appetitf
Roses and Dreams Debased fay poets will unfold in a new light tor the delight of our eyes the eyes o( big children We will invent new roses roses of capitals
with petals of squares.
Intellectuals— Within the Revolution,
everything Against the
All things yell!
give us new forms
give us a new form of art —
— Fidel Castro
an art that will pull the republic out of the mud
— Vladimir Mayakovsky
The rose fades and is renewed again by its seed, naturally but where
save in the poem shall it go
to suffer no dimunition of Its splendour
— William Carlos Williams
Politics which does not consider art seriously is jejune politics.
BREAD & ROSES
Art and Politics!— Can there be a more depressing subject for an artist and a more boring one for the political radical?
Beauty, no doubt, does not make revolutions, but a day will come when revolutions will have need of beauty
The dilemma of what comes first for the socially committed artist, the movement or his art, is generally smaller within anarchism, but the dilemma nonetheless exists.
l'ol. IX. September. 1914 fto. 7
In a transitional age such as ours, the radical artist must assume the important task of questioning and exposing; he must give testimony, he must bear witness—I was there. I saw this. The greater the gap between what is and what should be. the louder he should raise the cry 'Why is the existing world the way it is?'
History has disappeared for large parts of our civilization, and nostalgia has taken its place. Art is now disappearing. and is being replaced by art-as-property. art-as-cultural-alibi-for-existing
Has art become an object whose meaning lies only in its rarity value?
Rrose SSIavy by Man Ray, 1921
10 words found by opening the dictionary at random by A ----------by B
These 2 sets of 10 words have the same difference of "personality" as if the 10 words had been written by A and by B with an intention
Or else, it matters little, there would be cases where this "personality" may disappear in A and B. That is the best case and the most difficult
— Marcel Duchamp
One time... I made some remark to Chaplin about how wonder, ful it was that he had sided with the poor people of the world, how he was one of them. He looked astonished and he explained that though he had once been poor he had no feeling for the poor, that we i would always have poor people no matter what we did, and that he had risen from the poor j because he was a genius.
— Anita Ellis
j j |
Every artist needs the freedom to order his or her personal space.
like attracts like like attracts like like attracts like like attracts like like attracts like like attracts like like attracts like likeattractsiike likattractfike likgtracSke lihtiratike lifctraiifee
after a concrete poem by Emmett Williams
Most of the time an artist's political ties do not in the deepest sense account for the artistic merit of his works
Art which is studied in detachment from history is incompletely understood, though great art transcends the historical context which formed it I
The political left, which is the ideological child of the enlightenment, often has difficulties in dealing with concepts of art and beauty and the practices of artists.
Un problema metafisico. un desgarramiento continuo enlre el monstruoso error de ser lo que somos eomo individuous y como pueblos en 6ste siglo y la entrevision de un fiituro en el que sociedad humana culminariS por fin en ese arquetipo del que el socialismo da una vision praclica y la poesia una vision espiritual.
There is not sufficient recognition of art in our time, and particularly within our "progressive" political and social movements, as a primary factor in human experience, of art as a mode of knowledge or as a means of apprehending the meaning or quality of life.
Art must not only be a means of illustrating the concepts of the intelligence, bul also a mode of expressing the life of the imagination
Primitive, magical, exotic, prophetic, mysterious —words that have continually attracted artists throughout time Will it be different in Utopia?
Anarchism, socialism, communism tell us the nature and the character of man will be changed when their desired society is achieved. Art tells us that emotions, feelings, concepts of people who lived thousands of years before us endure and still move us. Can this contradiction be resolved? '
Q-. tw> NV£M<3&2% pfieg it
TO cHAO&e, ^ -boo-??
Maintaining Equilibrium Under Difficulties.
Has the point of artistic confrontation, epiter le bourgeois, been lost? Are irony, infiltration, skepticism the modern strategies?
epater les anarchistes! epater la collectif!
Art ought to unify the feeling, thought, and will of man
Zip ah dee doo dah ...
— the Imp of Perversity
Is it possible to speak of the revolutionary meaning of art today? Is it possible to speak of the importance of art?
The true artist is one who chooses his work
If the cultural world lor which we are struggling is a living reality, its expression will be irresistible It will find its own artists. II, in spite of political pressure, it does not find its own artists, this means we are dealing with a factitious cultural world, a pastiche, a paper lucubration by mediocrities...
— Antonio Cramsci
All the way down the long perspective of history, it is impossible to conceive ol a society without art. or of an art without social signif icance, until we come to the modern epoch.
- Herbert Read
Unless the sweet scent of a rose startles us anew
In the myths and legends of the Indian tribes of California, tales are told of Old Man Coyote and how he carved people out of sticks of buckeye. The sticks became people after the fleas bit at them all night
and he said
they will all speak different languages those to the South one
and to the North another and the fleas will bite them into life
and the West will be called West
and the East East and the younger Dove sang
Shunnera shunnera hu he kaa... but the sun did not shine on
the land... Old Man Coyote
continues the tale of the Indians of the West by muddy Missouri River
foaming steam River of mystery
medicine water and the furrowed plains and hills
we will make our people
out of wood we will carve them
in the image of the land and let the white man wonder
about the decay of our traditions and our children
will walk proud in the land
living by the water living water
muddy clear until we come to the town
of large canoes and meet the wooden canoe people
and then the older Dove also flung the rock
into the smoke hole and the Sun came out to stay
who stretch out one hand toward the Sun
placing it on the chest saying their name
for the world to hear this Peace
we have never known this Peace
which bears the name of the land of the dead and across the land
to where rocks shaped the slories
and svhere the canoes moved up the River
to the burial ground — a place of hills
overlooking the River to look down
at the horizon from all sides
River of the arrow running white water
white water and white spring great spirit spring water on the hill
to purify us white wash our traditions Bay-Chay-ne-ata
give us whiskey for our troubles to have us fight one another so our languages don't mean what our myths
had promised us— and I will translate your bible
into English to preserve your heritage and we will lock it up among our treasures (Nika-shu-Dse)...
you also are the spirit of the Sun and the stick figures
do look very similar they tell the children
who created the world that they can confide in their dreams they can trust their innocence
the house and flowers talk to each other without shame
and the path from the house is such a giant tongue and flowers grow from within flowers and automobiles ride in the sky
people compress people at the outskirts
of the town
and the smoke holes are not seen anymore
only the arms and hands extending to share the circle — they come into the cities and pitch their tents
with babies on blankets waiting again for the spirit
those who settled to the South
spoke the language of the South those who settled to the North
spoke another and the fleas bit at the sticks to put life
into the people-
no matter how far you fly the night will catch up with you
Raffael OeGruttola April 1980
Memorial Day '80 USA
For Tom McCrath
daybreaks in Ypsilanti an orange sun rises red. black & blue birds chitter in the willow just off Willow Run you breakfast on Blind Robins
you wake @ 4 44 unable to sleep, you experience (the old) insomnia; 2 tablets (twice) & you can write, you pace about in your green robe, use your (borrowed) black Pentel pen to address cards & letters to the UK, Brasil, Somerville MA
Chinoy's Auto Workers & the American Dream (1955) proves as true now as it did in '46-51: boom in war. bust in peace. Big 3 = QED. Riesman uncannily observes:
"One wonders whether another war would not come as a relief to many of these workers allowing them to rise to a challenge & test their powers against something stronger than a frightened foreman."
lay-boy tells of curing oil-rags for months enough to send them down the line afire to advertize "the foreman is on the rag " nightshift goofs: his ass is a dragon one short leg kept him out of khaki he hopes it (plus soon, sole surviving son) will do the trick again, it might, he's 22. imminently layoffable w/ only 1Vi yrs service, a 2nd shift utility man Hydramatic.
you tell him your beat-thedraft story circa '64
& the doings @ your abortive pre-induction physical.
"everybody has a good story on this" he tells Nancy (19)
yours proves no exception, with the German-accented M D.
asking you "are you vun off dese! do no pushups! you may go home."
you ear your faggot-4F w/ a few pencil strokes.
no such funky fun avails anybody, anymore
you begat a daughter & a son in the intervening 16 yrs
both facing the same potential call-up QED.
today in the permanent weekend indoor flea-market in the old abandoned site of Arlen's you saw the familiar Ayatollah T-shirt wl the sub head:
Import Heinekens selling like crazy in Dutch-dollared SE Michigan you bought old postcards instead.
you continue to record & correspond you. reader, are making correspondences we, comrades, are approaching the summit
COLLECTIVE NON-VIOLENT DIRECT ACTION
Collective non-violent direct action bv
insufficient hundreds, the cannon fodder of other wars,
bearing the fruits of a technology not their own-
polystyrene helmets, steel alloy hardware, urethone padding
Draped with coils of nylon rope over rubberized raincoats
they came to destroy the decisions of time.
the authority of millenia of domination,
the oppression of centuries of supply and demand,
the faith of decades of technology,
and the years of Atoms for Peace at 12'/i percent,
regulated return on total investment.
Decisions made not at Seabrook
but on the lop floor of the twin towers of World Trade, by the cigar smoking high priests of corporate capital.
This latter day Coxey's Army confronted a machine
but neither its intelligence, fears nor internal logic.
A pilgrimage without reservations,
modern times confronting the past,
no less religious but bearing witness to a new faith:
collectivity, non violence, equality and consensus;
a moral rectitude questioning tactical judgments
but not the means no less than the ultimate goals of action
Military tacticians without troops,
rhetoric without reality,
with seemingly inexhaustible energy
Self-motivated but insufficient to engage critical mass to converted the anti-mass of random disintegration to another level of activity With coalescence of affinities by individuals to groups, to clusters.
with outreach by unforseen disasters and uncounted tragedies. To effect change without the aid of superprompt critical power excursions, piutonium poisoned lungs, and bare landscapes ticking with random disintegrations for an entire astral cycle.
To avoid the apocalypse of a nation.
of survivors-leaders without followers,
in hardened, filtered, freeze dried outposts.
at 20 per cent plus cost to Ceneral Foods,
hidden, buried in caves To the stone age.
our vvav of life will persevere.
To levitate a soft path.
to create a human chain reaction,
these are challenges of our time.
technical problems hardly perceived less solved
Soldiers of the state protected by
official uniform complete with
piping, epaulettes, pressed pants,
badges—some conspicuously absent.
insignias, helmets, visors, clubs, chainlink fence,
the authority vested in them
by temperament, training, apparatus of law,
and no less by the unacknowledged
fear and respect for that power
Possessing the weapons and the will
to repel all levels of non-violence
by escalation to corresponding
higher levels of violence,
a professional performance.
of appropriate technology.
To neutralize the power of the state.
needs the support of those who execute its will.
Hide and seek. We see you!
Helicopters stirring dirt, spreading rumors
at a cost of one hundred fifty dollars an hour.
"Two hundred of them are in the marshes
having an orgy cutting chain tink steel fence."
Rip! Bang! "You dirty, unkempt, self-proclaimed
Druid ministers of holistic change.
acupunctured food and elemental forces.
"Learn the value of discipline
and the use of graduated and sufficient force!"
A blockade fashioned with twigs and tree trunks is thrown up at the gate.
In all deliberations, a front loading caterpillar rumbles up. swoop, scoop, and quickly clears the makeshift barrier.
Skirmishes in the ongoing war of two cultures
A small expiession of the ultimate power
of the machine that brings forth
the potential to set off simultaneously.
at remote sites around the globe.
thousands of Mount St. Helens.
to uniformly cover the surface of the earth.
to a depth of two point five inches
with radioactive ash, to fuel the futures' millions
with genetic mutations for the young.
cancer for the old,
and inexpensive metered power for all-impotent, myopic, demanding souls dying, surviving and cursing their fate. There is no free lunch, rational decisions made in the marketplace of ideas, the old shell game
Creeping militancy, apathy, disgust, opportunism.
political process, community building,
career development spin off at a dizzying rate,
yielding alternatives never considered.
Splinters to fester the pains of humiliation
and balms to salve their wounds
A people united can never be defeated!
But we a microdot in time, a unit in
a hungry cipher equal
to one followed by sixteen zeros —
possible combinations digested and stored
by the newest generation IBM computer
keeping track of movements, thoughts, hopes, profit and loss.
It's not easy living on your own.
But we all live at Seabrook. in the Black Hills, at love Canal, at Rocky Mountain Arsenal, in Woburn Mass PSCo New Hampshire is Hooker Chemical and I.B.M. has a Iriend at Chase Manhattan.
We are all a big happy family aren't we Henry K? Radioactivity is yet another form of lethal litter. A still life of solid waste floating on the earth Rediscovered treasure, forgotten but not lost. A time capsule for future generations of mutant morons, to move to action the enraged, the outraged, the concerned, the guilty and those of us still living, new forms of life created not in the laboratory. Empires are always destroyed from within. Lead glazing in the pottery is said to have caused the fall of Rome.
The rage of still born babies, broken chromosomes and broken dreams was lost somewhere between Buffalo
and New Hampshire. It may be found in the false promises of individual choice and personal wealth or in the reality of social failure The search goes on
Family Salt Raga
Falling at exactly the same time
the down and come-down of the same golden hoard
the red endings, skitterings into mulch.
racing toward the cold, the white takeover,
the silence of crows, days given over to heat,
the fire in front of my eyes, and behind me my mother.
and behind her, her mother and all of us moving
into the same frosted autumn air
the procession even, and a shadow
for each of us as we walk.
a shadow to make us disappear and a shadow
to make us larger than life
and the cloud moves into green
(what was given suddenly bends again
toward earth) red everywhere.
leaves, farewells, fur, hallways
and the quiet sleep all wrapped up and covered over some say protected, touching the salt-seed, the kernal knowledge, lost towns, treats, windows, bakeries, groceria, hands touching tokens, tokens turning silver in the dusk-light, the salt carrying us over and over into remnants, and larger portions, now behind me a glimpse of glass, the boss leaving home and mary, little lamb all tumble down, sing a song of six particles, salt in the wind and ever so shyly stir
wish slip and heaven
the red place a hunch
an approach and more eating
stuffed towered over
a trampoline heaving
a fine line
let up, let up
we were only asking for spring a spring sparing no one silk whispers in all our parts, in the blinds, behind the partitions, windows going up, tulip-knowledge, springboard into green flood, narcissus, pop of blossom, kiss in the moist suck, eels and the watering stones, mortuary and the dark cloths, dirt fill hole prayer and oh no oh ho and yay oh mourning and swaying cover recover the baby the warming of flowers the flowing of salt unveiling of stone the bleeding of hours, the warning of seed-law, ritual endings return to the natural weathers winsome and glowing handsome and feathers heavy all day assuming and roving dozing in sun high
late spring of the mud day the dog day
spring into summer like velvet
like salt talk like fucking
mud and the sweet pig tomorrow sweet mama blazes and ointment
oaxaca the oranges market the turn in the here-spin
factory noon place dark weight the fulcrum
beginning and flying home into knowing
the fleeing and crawling and dying
the lifting and rising the raining and shining
the breathing and drying the owning
family salt unfolding the light
sifting and spreading dreaming and shifting
family salt unfolding the light
family salt unfolding the light
FOR SAUGUS, LYNN, & GLOUCESTER
Today is my out of the womb day it comes boxing a year out
1 am in the third Zodiac
the invisible creatures are with me
the ladies of my love-life
stay with me in their circumnavigations
the good & the bad go with each
the middle our torsos are, balancing both
on this day the gift a druid
gave mc of my Muse some were not ready for
a drop of that tincture in a clay cup changes all that juice
the undeveloped pulling down olympian rain quarreling with the hailstones & melting them
the magnet of a town at my vitals & the secret clues of that waternmusic
the rosevita nueva of my summers the unsolid object the eye of each is
that time of the poeta the rockingchair & kitty & the marriage sapphire that launched us on a ship of light
the agent tyros initiating scenes
the typhoon of transmutation sucked up the miracle in the sounding bell of bone
the unprepared drowning in the passage to the unforeseen
have fly-shit verses on their windows
astigmatism of the spleen lying about a shaman
forgive them for that abortion art & falsifying their homework)
the women-men & the men-women who have surmounted the differences centering & sanctifying
as I do every second of my sojourning a spoke & the hub & the wheel rolling the wonder-works
buzz gnats or gypsy moths spitting against the nor'easter
the synthesizing of the News
lacking that brain rot & fueling crises triumph
some have the enemy working within these are my friends my poverty enrichen
over the border are ways with fishes & shoes the far away know of. the near is estranged from
only the divine Sun
keeps the powers of the Negative at half mast even the body is loaned
& its wisdom you have been robbed of is not for selling
what is made with the substance has a shadow or slides back into the conditioning Dark
he i; writing a piece of that untiming she is hi on the sum of it
one is changing the parchment with it
another is the axis to the open air religion of loving
death to Bossing & all forms of authority 0 insighters & probers of the Here
May 24: Where Did We Go Wrong?
Brian Tokar, Pump Handle Vandals affinity group
In mid-spring of last year, after the accident at Three Mile Island, a couple of dozen antinuclear activists began regular meetings in Boston to discuss the possibility of organizing a direct action occupation against the Seabrook nuclear power plant. Our vision involved much more than simply organizing a single direct action in 1979; we hoped to permanently shift the emphasis of the antinuclear movement from primarily symbolic to direct action. Many of us were also seeking to evolve an entirely new approach to antinuclear action, one which would break the hegemony of liberal "environmentalist" politics within the movement and replace the tendency toward increasingly bureaucratic, centralized organization with a new, revolutionary model of autonomous collectives of people working together to stop the nuke ourselves. We believed that an effective direct action would help to broaden the social base of the antinuclear movement beyond the white, college-educatcd constituency that had come to dominate it, and also expand active participation by local residents of the New Hampshire/Massachusetts seacoast area in antinuke activities.
The May 24 direct action at Seabrook was in many ways the culmination of the effort begun last spring. We did the Oct. 6 occupation attempt, created a viable direct action network throughout the US antinuclear movement, and analyzed at least the tactical errors of our first effort in the planning and execution of the May action. The political perspective and the contents of our vision have been disseminated across the US and thousands of new activists have had their first experience with direct action methods and with the difficulties of police confrontation. Local opposition to the Seabrook nukes has been strengthened, and the financial status of Public Service Company (PSCo) has deteriorated further through a process exacerbated by our action. (One nuclear executive was quoted by the Boston Clobe last October, saying that if he were working for the utilities, the October 6 direct action would cause him to reconsider any further nuclear commitments.)
But in many ways, we have failed in our responsibility to the an-tinuclear movement and to the larger movement for revolutionary changes The antinuclear movement is as divided as ever on the issue of direct action and many activists who claim to share our overall political vision consider our actions to have been counterproductive. Despite our close ties to many people in Seabrook. the State has largely succeeded in portraying us as an outside invading force and in playing upon people's deeply inculcated beliefs in private property and State power. Our own organization failed to grow substantially between November and April, and all of our accumulated organizing experience was insufficient to attract more people to the May action; in fact several Coalition groups substantially decreased in size from last fall, and at least two regions lost several affinity groups (AC'S) in the weeks leading up to May 24.
Why have we so sorely failed to live up to the expectations we have created (or ourselves over the past year? Why has it been so difficult to interest antinulcear people in direct action? I believe that the answer lies in three areas: our tactics and our overemphasis thereupon in our organizing; our overall organizing approach, and its questionable effect on the people we do reach; and the slow political evolution of our local support in Seabrook.
TACTICS: The outcome of our months of tactical planning for May 24 can be summarized in three words: we were outnumbered. Our persistence in tactical planning and our public statements affirming the seriousness of our intentions produced such an extreme overreaction that 700-900 State Police, Seabrook Police (which in the last 6 months have become essentially an appendage to the New Hampshire State Police force) and National Cuard were mobilized against us. Still, we cost the State and PSCo over $750,000 and the acting Attorney Ceneral admitted to there being several occasions when the situation was not felt to be under their control. Gov. Callen was quoted in the press saying that they'd rather deal with a large, disorganized crowd (Oct. 6?) than a smaller, highly organized one. By comparison, it took only 50 State Troopers to disperse 20,000 rioting bikers in Laconia two weeks later.
Despite the basic impossibility of stopping construction with the numbers we had, affinity groups and regional clusters of affinity groups
showed an impressive level of tactical creativity in confusing the police, evading arrest and maintaining the assault against the plant for at least the first 2 days Saturday night's meeting of cluster spokespeople reflected the highest level of agreement I have ever seen in the midst of a major action, and Sat and Sun were a rather hopeful microcosm (albeit only a microcosm) of the possibility of mutually supportive tactical coor-.. dination among groups carrying out several different styles of action Although this process totally broke down amidst Monday's demoraliza-SjS: tion, many people from different parts of the country left their campsites
excited about the possibility of trying again ; 5 However, in discussing tactics, it is equally important to consider
J the thousands of people who stayed away because they thought the ac-tion was futile, because they feared police violence or thought we were : too "violent," or because they felt they had already paid their dues at Seabrook and are now too busy working in their own local areas. On the 'M Other hand.there are many people who assert that they would be at-Spf. tracted by a higher level of militancy, and express astonishment at our .8r unwillingness to plan our actions more secretively (i.e., not announcing the date publicly) and to employ incendiaries and explosives. Both at-titudes strike me as essentially naive and escapist, and reflect a poor understanding of the role of social movements in creating political changes. Yet the issue of nuclear power, as removed as it is from most people's daily lives, continues to engender such attitudes
ORGANIZING APPROACH AND METHODS: Our major problems in jftp' organizing for May 24 are a direct result of the rather abstracted at-J titudes many people hold toward the nuclear menace. This, in turn, is a Mf: reflection of the rather narrow social base (often confused by marxist i types with their "class base") of the antinuclear movement People fE|f whose primary vehicle of politicization has been the antinuclear move--J?- ment tend to come from relatively comfortable family backgrounds and y; : have generally spent some years in college When such people become radicalized, it is often from a rather far-reaching rejection of the hollow-'i|v ness of middle class life; such people bccome philosophical anarchists ■ipi far more often than their counterparts who became radicalized in stiug-fSS gles against primarily economic oppression. However, their political 'HI practice has tended to reflect an unwillingness to take actions that compromise their basically comfortable existence and their entrenched attitudes toward the State and private property. This is the basic dilemma of the direct action antinuclear movement—people with rather well-developed understandings of the depth of the ecological crisis and of the need to develop new ways of life and new forms of human relationships appear unwilling to employ anything but the most passive forms of action in standing up for their professed beliefs.
This dilemma continually plagued our organizing for the May 24 occupation/blockade There were some limited successes in attracting people outside the conventional antinuclear crowd, and most of those peo pie were attracted to May 24 on the basis of the style of the action itself rather than the issue of nuclear power. However, most of them had been previously active in other political movements and tended, from my experience. to see the struggle against Seabrook as somewhat of a distraction from their "real" work. As a result of our inability to either catalyze mainstream antinukers toward direct action or attract a broader constituency beyond the traditional antinuclear constituency, CDAS (the Coalition for Direct Action at Seabrook) as a collective whole became more isolated from the people we had been trying to reach than we were before we began planning for May 24.
Why have we made so little progress in transcending these social obstacles? This is just as much a question of our own collective style of organizing as of the intrinsic limitations we face. Although the Handbook presented a clear political and social perspective, which followed directly from our larger visions of new forms of collective, participatory action, the day-to-day practice of most CDAS groups largely failed to actualize this vision. We never really convinced many new people of the viability of direct action or carried on the kind of educational work that could help people transcend their fears of confrontation Instead of helping new people to understand how they could contribute fully to the action and make it theirs, we reinforced our own isolation by treating many people who walked in the door without already agreeing with the Handbook as outsiders rather than as potential participants
This problem was most serious in Boston, where May 24 was the first major antinuclear action ever that didn't greatly swell the ranks of activists In fact, there were fewer active participants in the Boston chapter of CDAS in April than there were in November. As the collective of core organizers became smaller, it became more insular, making it more difficult for new people to become involved. At the time when it was most important to be open and tolerant of people with differing views, the Boston collective, at the height of burnout, evolved a degree of rigidity and intolerance in our organizing style, interpersonal relations and attitudes toward other people rivalled only by explicitly "democratic centralist" organizations. Other regions, in which the bulk of the organizers were not involved in CDAS from the beginning, had to rationalize and apologize for condescending behavior on the part of CDAS "heavies" toward newer activists.
In Seabrook itself, the problem was not so pathological. A group of a dozen Coalition members had arrived in mid April to establish the "Freestate" community, an ongoing community of organizers created to lay the groundwork for May 24 and to maintain a presence in the Seabrook area throughout the summer. The Freestate was to be "an opportunity to begin to realize our ideals of community self-sufficiency, cooperation and mutual aid. while planting the seeds of a new culture of open resistance to the nuclear state in all its forms" However, the State responded immediately with a concerted campaign of intimidation against the Freestate and our supporting landowners, seriously damaging the solidarity of the community, forcing us to relocate ourselves often and impairing the ability of most of the original Freestate Task Force members to work openly and cooperatively with people who arrived in the last weeks before May 24 Many of the most committed activists left Seabrook shortly after the May 24 weekend, the community became increasingly overridden by street people of all origins, and the Freestate was compelled to dissolve within two weeks under mounting threats of local commerical interests and "rednecks."
One indicator, or perhaps a cause of our inability to present a compelling social vision of direct action, was our organization's rather ambiguous attitude toward the ideas of feminism. While some of the best organizing for May 24, especially in Boston, was carried out by the women's caucus, working within the women's community. 1 also observed more overt hostility to the ideas of feminism among Boston CDAS people than I had seen anywhere in 10 years of political activity. By feminism, I mean more than discussions of the need to equalize men's and women's roles in the organization and of superficial aspects of sexist relationships among participants in the action. I am referring to the vision of a total transformation of interpersonal relations among all people which has been advanced by the growing anarchist sector of the feminist movement I am referring to the elimination of all forms of hierarchy, domination, competition and unequal relations of power in all spheres of daily life as a proces that is intimately tied to their elimination from the larger political and social sphere. It is only through such a process that we can come to understand the true nature of direct action as not merely a set of tactics, but as a mode of total social transformation and revolution.
LOCAL ORGANIZING IN SEABROOK: The May 24 direct action appears to have significantly advanced a process of political polarization that has been occurring in Seabrook for many years. Since the opening of the greyhound-racing track ten years ago. and probably earlier still, there has been a deepening split between natives and "transplants," i.e., between a rural people struggling to maintain a lifestyle based upon close personal relations with fellow townspeople and their treasured natural surroundings on the one hand, and the forces of development, suburbanization, and massive infusions of outside capital on the other It is the natives, who now consitute only about one third of the population of Seabrook, that are the most vocal supporters of the antinuclear movement in general and CDAS in particular, whereas recent imports are more divided on the nuclear issue and much more hostile to our methods.
For all our efforts to cultivate our local support in Seabrook in the 2 years since the lune 1978 Clamshell sellout (in which a planned civil disobedience action was turned into a legal rally and music festival through the behind-the-scenes machinations of self-proclaimed Clamshell "leaders" from Portsmouth. New Hampshire, Montague. Mass., and the Boston American Friends Service Committee headquarters), and for all the depth of conviction expressed by local antinukers. our local support has remained rather passive There has been more direct participation by locals in support activities for our action —gathering food and clothing donations, seeking land commitments, media statements, lobbying the selectmen, etc.—than in the early days of Clamshell, but we have yet to begin to evolve the sort of explicit on-the-streets support for direct action that has been so essential to the successes of antinuclear direct action in Europe.
On May 24, we saw for the first time a visible presence of local residents, mostly adolescents, but also several older citizens, in the midst of the action itself. The most dramatic example was Saturday's flying-leap rescue of a Coalition member from Connecticut from police attacks. But the other side was far more vocal than our supporters in reaching the media and the general public with their story. Every major newspaper in New Hampshire and both Boston dailies had a feature story on Monday morning about the sorry plight of the Rt 1 businesspeople(80% of which are from out of town) and all the money they lost over the May 24
weekend However, when several local supporters of the action rose to make a statement during Monday morning's Coalition press conference, many of the major media got up and left.
Our supporters in Seabrook share some of our current pessimism about the future of the movement against the nuke, but there is some hope that the circumstances surrounding the State's response to us will heip in their own organizing efforts Seabrook people are still quite upset about the anti-camping and assembly ordinances imposed in early May without a town vote, next spring promises a major effort to have them revoked at the annual town meeting. A similar concern is the nature of the town police force, which has been taken over by the State in the past 6 months and which has taken to harassing high school people on the streets when we're not around to provide appropriate targets.
The Freestate Task Force arrived in Seabrook in April to discover that no one had ever mounted a serious community organizing effort in Seabrook. and we were unable to do so as a result of our endless land hassles and police harassment. A plethora of local issues—the nuke, the dog track and its effects on the nearby resevoir. the auto parts plant, chemical waste dumping by the Schwinn bicycle plant and others, the destruction (by PSCo) of Rocky Brook (a pond adjacent to one of our camping areas), the granting of permission to Perini Construction to use the high school ball field this summer while students are forbidden from using it. etc —all point to a steady deterioration of the quality of life in the town, which natives are highly conscious of as a systematic effort by outsiders to rob them of their way of life. It is up to us to help our friends in Seabrook translate their frustrations into action in time to stop the nuke from going on line. There's not much time left, as the first of the two Seabrook reactors approaches 50% completion.
THE FUTURE OF THE DIRECT ACTION MOVEMENT: The past two actions at Seabrook have provoked many people to consider for the first time the reality of direct action as an essential vehicle for political change However, the combination of our own organizational ineptness and the unwillingness of most antinuclear people to take actions that could risk their usually comfortable lifestlyes leaves us rather isolated within the New England antinuclear movement. There is cause for serious doubt as to whether we can change this within the confines of the antinuclear movement per se. On the other hand, the example of direct action at Seabrook may be extremely important in the development of strategies to combat other issues of more immediate concern to most people, such as the draft, the threat of war in the Middle East, and a variety of economic issues. For many people becoming involved in these struggles, the antinuclear movement has been the source of their earliest political experiences and should be a source of inspiration for direct action efforts in other areas.
How can we as a group facilitate this process? How can we spread the process of direct action, maintain and broaden our direct action network. and learn from our mistakes without being perceived as missionaries (or worse as parasites) toward other existing movements? In the months since May 24, different groups of Coalition members have tried to begin addressing these issues on their own, through work in the anti-draft and feminist movements, and a variety of community-oriented efforts around New England The specific issue of nuclear power, with all its apparent limitations, has been put aside by many direct action-oriented people for now. though local work in lower New Hampshire and northeastern Massachusetts continues and resistance to the laying of high-voltage power lines throughout New England looms on the horizon. People are reassessing the limitations of both mass-scale organizing and single-issue organizing as vehicles for the proliferation of libertarian approaches to organization and social action. We are trying to understand how CDAS, with our professed commitment to personal empowerment and anti-hierarchical principles, degenerated into a rather anonymous "mass" organization for the bulk of the participants in many regions. There remained a higher level of personal involvement in the day-to-day work and decisions of the organization than in any other "mass" organization in recent memory, including the Clamshell Alliance, but at least my standards were very much higher.
The mounting social and political crises we face in every sphere of our daily lives should provide new opportunities to peer beyond the limits of traditional organizing. The experience of the antinuclear movement has helped to provide some focus for what appears to be an increasing rejection by widening circles of people of State and corporate intrusions into every corner of their daily lives. Both the ecological and feminist movements have catalyzed the growth and proliferation of new forms of decentralist, anti-hierarchical organization, based around the models of the Spanish anarchist affinity group. The next several months should provide some important clues as to whether these trends can form the basis for an evolving antiauthoritarian social movement in the decade ahead.
BLACK ROSE LECTURES-FALL SERIES 1980
Sepi. 26. Ken Ceyser— 'Toxic Wastes. A Hidden Legacy' Oct 31: £d Hedemann —'Anarchism and Non-Violence' Nov. 7. Myrna Breitbart — 'Streetwork: Liberating Approaches to Urban environmental Education' Nov. 27. Howard Zinn—'An Anarchist View of American History'
MIT-Room 9-150 Free
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• Some friends of Black Rose have opened a press and we would like our readers to know about it Whetstone Press is located at 41 Bristol Street, Boston. MA 02118, telephone 338-8822. They do letterpress printing and graphic design and can prepare bumperstickers, stationery, and other items. They are also ready to take on the design and production of pamphlets up to 100 pages
• An important new film will debut in Boston this fall Free Voice oi Labor—The lewish Anarchists, made by Pacific Street Films, will be shown as part of the Center Screen Series at the Carpenter Center at Harvard University Saturday and Sunday nights. October 4-5 and 11-12. The film, which runs one hour, paints a dramatic portrait of immigrant life in the United States as seen through the eyes of those sweat shop workers who made up the mass of the lewish anarchist movement. Through interviews with actual participants in the lewish anarchist movement and by weaving together stills, news reel footage, selections from old motion pictures, Yiddish songs and poems of work and political struggle, Free Voice of Labor documents the contributions of the lewish anarchists to the fledgling U.S. labor movement and the developing Yiddish culture.
• Mollie Steimer, one of the last of the old-time anarchists with an international reputation, died in Cuernavaca, Mexico, on July 23. 1980 She was 82 years old and had been a close friend of Emma Coldman, Alexander Berkman, Nestor Makhno. Voline, and many other well known figures in the movement. Deported from the United States after the First World War, she was deported in turn from Soviet Russia in 1923 and spent the rest of her life as a political exile in Western Europe and Mexico. Paul Avrich is writing a full length obituary of our late comrade
This story is from the comic book, American Splendour, that comes off the streets of Cleveland. It is excerpted from issue #4 which is available for' $2.00 as is the latest issue #5 People interested should write to Harvey Pekar, Box 18471, Cleveland Heights, Ohio 44118