Thursday, June 30, 2005


I was wrong about the Zapatista Movement in Chiapas. When the EZNL first made it into the headlines back in 1994, I though, "Oh no! another Marxist-Leninist guerrilla group." The worst thing that could happen to the liberation movement I felt, would be the re-birth of Leninist ideology in Latin America. Such a rebirth would spur imitators in the First World and any hope for a re-implantation of libertarian socialism would be if not over, at least made very difficult.

I am so pleased that I was wrong about the Zapatistas and they turned out not to be Leninists after all. No matter what the original intentions of the small group of Maoists who entered Chiapas in the early 1980's, the movement they helped create went in another direction. And they went with it - truly "learning from the people." Rather than Leninism, they turned to the peasant anarcho-populism of Emiliano Zapata, which never really died out.

Rather than allying with Leninists, the Zapatistas have close relations with the Spanish anarcho-syndicalists. Rather giving rise to centralized authoritarian groups they have , by their existence, spurred the creation of mass social movements, one of which , The Consejo Indígena Popular de Oaxaca - Ricardo Flores Magón is a member of the international anarchist network, International Libertarian Solidarity

Discussing this development with an old friend at the recent Montreal Anarchist Book Fair, he said that it would be unlikely for indigenous people, given their culture and social organization, to be attracted to an authoritarian political movement. I think this has a lot to do with it.

I was also wrong about the end of "traditional" anarcho-syndicalist unions. After an initial burst of enthusiasm in the late-1970's - early '80's, unions like the CNT of Spain, French CNT and IWW lost members or split into hostile factions. I felt that these unions were finished as important instruments of working class struggle and that the essential ideas - self-management, local control, direct democracy and delegation - would arise elsewhere in new forms. This was already happening with the COBAs or base-committee organizations which developed in Italy and spread to France and Spain.

But out of the broken pieces of the old movement a new and revitalized syndicalism arose. The Spanish CGT now represents a million workers, the French CNT went from 100 members to 5000, the Italian syndicalists are gaining new members, the IWW has doubled its membership and is organizing once more. Anarcho-syndicalist groups are now found in virtually every European and Latin American country. And in Europe they work happily side by side with the COBAs.

May I continue to be wrong when I am pessimistic.

For more information see: Alternative Union Movement

Friday, June 24, 2005


I wonder how many Venezuelans the US state is willing to murder in order to overthrow the populist Chavez government? Four thousand like in Chile, thirty thousand like in Argentina? Probably a lot more since the situation is far more difficult for the Gringos in Venezuela than either of these countries in the 1970's. But if they want a blood bath, they are going to wait a long time. Thankfully, this isn't 1973.

For one thing the level of popular support. Latest polls put support for Chavez at 70%, while the Chilean Unidad Popular of Allende, never got more than 45% of the votes. The US government was able to build Pinochet's coup on the basis of this opposition majority. Most important of all the army is on the side of the government, unlike in Chile. No doubt there are officers who would support a fascist rising, as some did in the last Gringo-sponsored coup, but not the military as a whole.

Furthermore, Chavez is both a miltary man and a populist. Latin American populism has never shied away from armed struggle - witness the populist revolutions in Costa Rica in 1948, Bolivia in 1952 and Chiapas in 1994 - and Chavez will not hesitate to arm the people should the Empire seek to impose its dictatorship. Salvador Allende, a social democrat in practice, if not in theory, instead sought to disarm the people and appease a right-wing controlled military.

Latin America as a whole is different today. Back in 1973, most governments south of the Rio Grande were right wing. Now they are left-wing populist and will be very angry at any attempt to overthrow a democratically elected progressive government. Last but not least, the Empire is suffering from imperial overstretch as its ill-fated attempt to subdue the Iraqi people has gotten nowhere. They can ill-afford a Latin American adventure.

This brings the question as to how libertarian socialists should deal with populist or revolutionary governments like that of Chavez. This question has been a sticky point for us, all the way back to the Russian Revolution. There are two traps which we seem to have habitually fallen into and hopefully avoid today. One position is to give full support to the revolutionary government and lose one's identity completely, like the anarchists and syndicalists who ended up in the Communist Party. The other position is to declare war on all governments, revolutionary or reactionary, and end up despised by the masses as counter-revolutionary. In this situation one ends up a tiny bitter sect without any influence. (1)

The correct position is to support the the mass of the population on an issue by issue basis, without becoming an actual supporter of the government itself. First loyalty is to the revolutionary movement and not to an ideology or government. Where the government aids the movement - for what ever reason - fine. Where the revolutionary government undermines that movement we are against it. Thus, one should support the popular movements initiated by the struggle against counter-revolution, and try to push these organizations as far as possible to an autonomist position. Where the revolutionary government radicalizes, we should radicalize further. Where the revolutionary government acts in an authoritarian manner against the popular forces we must actively oppose it. Thus, a position that is neither sycophantic nor seen as sectarian which aids the reactionaries. In a nutshell - we are for everything that improves the lives of the people and empowers them and against everything that harms them and enslaves them.

(1) Many years ago I told an activist friend that I was editing a collection of articles written by the Socialist Party of Canada. "Why on earth would you do that?" he asked. "I hate those people!" "All they ever do (all five of them) is come to our demonstrations and denounce everyone, if it was up to them people would never do anything." (I must point out that the tiny ultra-sectarian group in question was not the same as the SPC that I wrote about in The Impossibilists

Sunday, June 19, 2005


Last week we drove to Peterborough to visit the famous petroglyphs there. Some 900 drawings engraved into massive marble bedrock. In order to protect the carvings from acid rain and vandal idiocy, a building has been constructed to protect them. To protect them culturally, they are under the control of the Clear Lake First Nations (Ojibwa) (check) Ranging in age from 600 to 1200 years (I suspect more like 2000) a number of different figures are shown, shamans, canoes, serpents, elk, turtles, women. These symbols have meaning. The canoes would most likely symbolize the shaman's journey, the turtle, creation, serpents as a negative-positive destructive force (also telluric forces) and the woman, Mother Earth.

One of the drawings was of a rabbit-eared figure, called Nanabush, who was the trickster in Algonkin mythology. When I saw Nanabush, I immediately thought of Bugs Bunny, another naughty trickster figure. Archetypes do re-surface, even in 20th Century urban America!

After visiting the petroglyphs, we headed south to Rice Lake to see the Serpent Mound. Rice Lake is named after the wild rice that used to grow there, but the stupid European invaders managed to do something to the lake which killed the plant, so it is rice in name only. The Serpent Mound, and three other smaller oval burial mounds, are about 2000 years old and represents the Northernmost extension of the Adena (Moundbuilder) Culture.

The location is idyllic - well maybe not in winter - up on a hill overlooking a huge lake, breezes to keep the bugs off, and at that time rich in fish, mussels, crayfish, rice, wapato (Indian potato) No doubt this was a leisure society, which gave them the time to build mounds to their ancestors, voluntarily without the coercion of a boss class.

The site, up on a hill with a beautiful view, reminded me of megalithic sites I had seen in England, same basic idea.

The Dream and Tamworth Hours.

When heading back to Montreal through the hilly country around Perth we discovered a local magazine called "The Dream" at a gas station. For environmental sanity and community building it encourages the production and consumption of local goods and services. They also promote local time-based currencies, such as the Tamworth Hour. A group of people in the little town of Tamworth created this local currency, similar to the
Ithaca Hours
Many businesses in the area, including a good number of those advertised in The Dream, use the bills as partial payment.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Independent World Television

There is a new left-leaning, independent TV network called
Independent World Television that has just been set up. The idea is to compete with CNN and FOX. I wish them luck and have sent them a contribution. I encourage others to do the same.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

(The) WAY TO GO!

Similar to the Quebec Student Strike, but at a much, much more advanced scale, the Bolivian worker, peasant and indigenous revolt points the way we have to go to defeat the neocon reaction. The combination of strikes, occupations, blockades and mass mobilizations in Bolivia has crushed the attempt by neo fascist elements backed by the Gringostate to install a Pinochet style regime. (See Stalemate In Bolivia )

Nothing is inevitable. We don’t have to put up with the sort of abuse we have been enduring for the last twenty-five years. Quebec, France, Bolivia – the answer lies there folks! If we have courage and energy we can defeat the reptiles

Monday, June 13, 2005


Not five minutes after posting the article below, I found that Yahoo News has described
Luis Posada, a known terrorist, responsible for blowing up an airplane full of passengers as well as other crimes, as a “militant”. What can I say?

“Militant Castro Foe Faces Uncertain Future" By CURT ANDERSON, Associated Press Writer Yahoo News 13 June


The perversion of language is at a pace that would shock George Orwell. Words that once had clear meaning are turned, via the Ministry of Truth, into their opposite.

Take as but one example, the contemporary use of the word "reform". At one time a reform mean political or social action or legislation that improved the living situation and increased the liberty for the average person. There were movements to abolish slavery, child labor, and to institute a shorter work day and safety in the work place. The greatest names of British, Canadian and American politics were associated with reform movements. Men like Charles Edward Fox, Gladstone, Jefferson, Bryan, Papineau, MacKenzie. Such reforms and the political parties and movements connected with them were a major force throughout the 19th and 20th Centuries.

However, since the 1980's the notion of reform has been stripped of its original democratic and humanitarian meaning. Far right politicians who seek to lengthen the work week, undermine the living standards of the ordinary person, centralize political and or economic power even more than it is and roll back many of the reforms instituted previously, are both self-described and loudly touted in the media as "reformers." Reactionary, anti-people policies are being trumped as progress! It is enough to make one puke.

Then there is the already much abused word "democracy" - I need not go into how the original concept (direct democracy) was perverted into representative democracy by the ruling class in the late 19th Century. Nor need I mention the Stalinist perversion of the concept - the so-called Peoples Democracies. No, I am referring to the contemporary Neocon usage.

The Bush-shites claim they are imposing a democratic revolution upon the non-democratic world. It seems that that the Neocons, are different in this manner the Kissinger Realists, who favored right-wing dictatorships. But the reality is different from the rhetoric. Witness the vote in Turkey not to engage in the conquest of Iraq. The neocons were furious and thought the Turkish government should have overridden wishes of the overwhelming majority. When the Turks - not noted for their democratic govts. - actually practiced democracy, the neocons hated it. The neocons were pleased when Blair, the Italian, Dutch and Danish governments ignored the wishes of their citizens and climbed aboard the Iraq War bandwagon. Then the worst case of all - that of Venezuela. Two elections, a referendum - all of which passed international scrutiny and now with more than 70% support in the polls, the US is still trying to overthrow Chavez.

Then there is the word "liberal", as it is used by economists and the European right-wing. The term has also been taken over by the left, when it speaks of contemporary alleged free market economics as "neo-liberal." Trouble is, there is nothing liberal about either European liberals nor neo-liberalism. To start off with, remember the list of great reformers I presented? They were all liberals. Todays neo-liberals are reactionaries, not progressives. They do not seek to improve the lot of the workers, rather the opposite. Neoliberalism is a form of mercantilism that puts corporations and corporate profits above everything else. Original liberals - like Smith and Jefferson, were hostile to corporations, fearing them as a mercantilist perversion of economic freedom. Where the market or economy came into conflict with ethics, the moral values came first among these liberals. The great liberals of the past were motivated by ethics, of Christian or Rationalist origin, and not by greed, psychopathic contempt for humanity and lust for power. Neo-liberals are about as liberal as Stalin was a democratic socialist or the Grand Inquisitor a follower of the Sermon On The Mount!

Thursday, June 09, 2005


According to the promoters of "free markets" any form of subsidy to an industry is something to be avoided. Subsidies, like tariffs and price support for farm produce distort the market. Pseudo-freemarketers (the neocons as a good example) love subsidies like military expenditure, the prison system and all the corporate laws and multitudinous forms of corporate welfare which enable the corporations to distort the market. But for the purpose of this discussion, I am not interested in the Bushite and Blairite frauds, but in the mainstream free market libertarians. There are forms of subsidy that even they are unaware of.

In any society worthy of the term democratic, citizens are free to form trade unions, cooperatives or associations to protect the environment and improve the lives of the poor. (1) These organizations put pressure on governments and corporations to improve the living standard of the population and to create a sustainable environment. Thus the price of labor rose over time (2) and the ability to rape the environment has been somewhat curtailed in democracies.

Where democracy does not exist, or where certain democratic rights are severely restricted - Mexico for example, where trade unions are an arm of the state - the populace does not have the ability to improve its living standards, working conditions and environment. Thus, Chinese workers toil 70 hours a week for pennies. Thus, logging companies in Indonesia clear cut the tropical forests. Thus, Honduran textile workers are murdered attempting to form unions. Does anyone really believe that if Chinese workers were free they would put up with their conditions? The tribal people of the New Guinea forests don't want the trees cut on their lands, yet if they object, they are murdered. If the Hondurans were free of the death squads, they would form the trade unions they wish.

The state in these countries keeps wages low and working conditions poor, and allows the environment to be destroyed. The state thus artificially keeps the price of labor and lumber low (3) and is thereby engaging in a form of subsidy. Democratic countries have a right, indeed a duty, to stop this subsidy, by either embargoing such trade until these nations democratize, or slapping a charge equal to the approximate subsidy on to goods imported. (Thus the "Chinese miracle" and Walmart (which uses massive amounts of cheap Chinese goods) is not an example of free enterprise, but of a brutal form of state capitalism.)

Anyone who does not believe these are state subsidies is not really sincere about their free market ideals and is just one more state capitalist. Or put it another way - subsidies are only bad when they help the little guy, but they are examples of free enterprise when they help the corporations.

(1) Of course, I am using "democracy" in a relative sense. The "democracies" are hardly democratic, yet we have had far more freedom than people living in dictatorships. Of course, the neocons are trying to get rid of what little freedom we have.
(2) Admittedly not the case during the past 20 years thanks to the neocon reaction, but still the price of labor is many times that of the Third World hell-holes.
(3) Also the use of illegal pesticides in growing food and other production methods that are banned in the developed world.

Saturday, June 04, 2005


We need to delay the collapse (what I call D day ) that will come some years after Peak Oil, as long as possible. This would give us more time to prepare the population, both practically and ideologically, for the event. Though many people will eventually come to see environmentalists and radicals as prophets, there is a need to point out the real culprit right now. People must realize that corporate capitalism and the state are responsible for the mess we are in. The mass media will attempt to deflect this criticism on to other targets such as the Arabs, OPEC and environmentalists. There is a danger of fascism, but most likely only in the US. The American authoritarian right will start pressuring to seize any remaining oil fields, such as in Alberta (should Klein not have pumped them dry for his masters) Mexico and Venezuela.

Canada and Europe won't suffer as much as the US. (Which, of course, isn't saying too much) The reasons include: 1. urban areas less-car dependent and better public transit 2. smaller or different type of suburbs (Parisian burbs are high-density and connected by rail) 3. Europe less dependent upon chemical agriculture and is rapidly going organic 4. A more cooperative mind-set and public consciousness is more developed. 5. Alternative energy sources are more developed.

Peak Oil (and the environment in general) will not allow the US style suburban lifestyle to exist any longer, let alone proliferate. But having less does not need to mean misery. Most Europeans already have a smaller energy footprint than North Americans due to a greater emphasis on quality rather than quantity. Food is more expensive, but better. Houses are smaller but well built. Europe points in the direction we must go, that of quality not quantity. And if goods were made to last - like they once were - and people acquired only what they really needed, quality was emphasized over quantity and equality emphasized over greed, everyone could have a decent life, even though consuming a lot less than now.

In the US, according to Micheal Klare, 70% of petroleum is used for vehicle fuel. This means the automobile is THE major problem and if oil was used only for other purposes, not for vehicle fuel, we would have enough for the next 50 - 100 years. Of course this is impossible, but if all gasoline contained 50% alcohol and 50% of diesel was made from renewable sources, it would still be a significant saving, one large enough to push D day well into the future. It wouldn't be too much problem to do this. They once had a gasohol program in the US, but it was scrapped at the behest of the oil companies.

Discussion of alternative energy sources is not just a practical matter, but is part of the radicalization process. Many alternatives were suppressed by the oil-auto interests. It was insane to destroy the trams and electric trains. It was insane for coal-rich, but oil poor countries to switch to diesel locomotives. It was insane to replace trains with trucks for long-hauls. It was insane to build suburbs that split living, working and consuming into different distant sections. It may have been insane socially and ecologically, but made great sense for corporate profits. Imagine how angry people will be when they discover the truth about what has been done to them.

While it is true that petroleum is used in many processes, it doesn't mean that when the price goes sky-high, at least some substitutes can't be used. Another aspect is that while petroleum is used in many manufactured items, the important factor is how much. If say, 10% of the cost of a $100 item is the cost of the petroleum used in it and petroleum costs rise 4 times, the item will end up costing $130. This price rise is annoying but is not prohibitive.

We didn't exactly live in the Stone Age before petroleum took everything over. I am old enough to remember linseed oil-based paint with turpentine for thinner, wood cabinets for radios, TVs, record players, metal and glass for shelving and accouterments in fridges, cellophane wrapping on cookies, and plastics made of celluloid and bakelite. There is no reason we can't return to these and thus use far less oil.

Only 20% of the population in Montreal 1940 had cars. Urban workers were not car owners, period. All this changed in the 1960's, but up till then, no one found being without a car a great hardship. One can even live in the suburbs without a car, I have done it, and thousands of recent immigrants do so. Even though suburban transit is not very good in most Canadian cities, you can still get to work and back and do your shopping.

Automobiles helped lessen class consciousness. Automobiles were an Edwardian bourgeois status symbol, and possessing them made workers think they were no longer workers. The car gave "freedom of the road" as substitute for real freedom. In the days when the bosses drove by in cars and the workers peddled their bicycles, the class structure was evident. With PO only the rich will have private cars. The proles will be forced to see themselves as proles again and this will be a very good thing.

For Information On:

Wood gas, methanol, hemp oil /
The destruction of trams see
For both trams and trains see
For advanced steam propulsion

Thursday, June 02, 2005


I found this surrealist game in Ron Sakolsky’s SURREALIST SUBVERSIONS – Rants, Writings And Images of the Surrealist Movement in the United States - that I bought at the Montreal anarchist Book Fair. Latent News is described as a situation where “one or more persons cuts out each individual line from several different newspaper stories, mixes them up, and then rearranges them as quickly as possible into entirely new stories, the only rule being that the lines must be arranged into syntactically correct sentences. The name is derived from the impulse behind the game: to disorder the mystification called ‘news’ and thereby to reveal something of its LATENT content.”

The results can also be hilarious. Here is one done by me with the Saturday, May 15 2005 Montreal Gazette.

The death toll from years of vigorous lobbying by the leader of the Conservative Party made calculations even more feverish in London. After the scandal erupted, the Labour government hanged a cancer-stricken Tory MP. I saw this happen once before as Parliament is consumed with talk of cancer. More gunfire was heard and bodies went unburied after Parliament was shut down. Meanwhile, soldiers loyal to Uzbekistan’s authoritarian leader, a US ally, look like oafs. Undignified is too small a word for the spectacle of people checking for bombs before staring their cars, or lining up to the right for clerical sexual abuse. Deeply familiar with the position and standing ready to take over is the new wing at the Vatican.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005


This is an interesting article on SODEXHO, the multinational gang that is taking over the cleaning and culinary services in hospitals in both BC and Quebec. In fact, these bloodsuckers have already taken over the kitchen in the hospital where I work.

Thanx to the P-Man for passing this to me .


In 1960, the UK national debt was £26 billion; by 1980 it had risen to £90 billion. The national debt in 1998 stood at nearly £380 billion…. In America, the national debt in 1960 stood at $240 billion; in 1980 at 908 billion, by 1997 it had reached the level of $5 trillion! *

Let’s see now. When the wicked overspending “liberals” were in the saddle (1960-80) the respective govt. debts in the UK and USA rose 346 and 445%. When the anti-government, balanced budget “conservatives” were in power (1980-98) the government debt rose respectively 422 and 550% And they wonder why we hate them…

(*) Figures according to
Micheal Rowbotham and the Universal Almanac 1992

Book Tag.

I just got tagged by
Kevin Carson

1. I have about 1600 books, most of which are in storage
2. Last book I bought was Workers Power by Maurice Brinton
3. Last book I finished reading was Manitou, an examination of the dolmens, domed buildings and other rock structures of Eastern North America.

Five books that mean a lot to me:
1. Rebel Voices, An IWW Anthology, by Joyce Kornbluh
2. Homage To Calalonia by George Orwell
3. What Is Surrealism ? The Selected Writings of Andre Breton
4. Mass Psychology of Fascism by Wilhelm Reich
5. Saharasia by James DeMeo

Five people I have tagged:
Little Red Blogger
Stupendous Tales
Le Revue Gauche
Blogging Change
BCBloggers Code: Progressive Bloggers Site Meter