Radical media, politics and culture.


The Cannibis Companion
by Steven Wishnia
Running Press, 2004

If you haven’t been pinched for herbal indiscretions of late, you could be forgiven for thinking weed became legal long ago. With grandmothers smoking herb to ease glaucoma and a president with a predilection for the harder stuff (cocaine as a youth, Jesus in recent years), marijuana has never been more pervasive, less taboo or higher quality. So while teenagers across Brooklyn are still tucking bags beneath their tender scrotums, Indypendent contributor Steven Wishnia’s The Cannibus Companion offers “the ultimate guide to connoisseurship” in a tasteful, and tasty coffee-table book artfully designed to amuse your stoned-out brethren while they’re glued to the couch.

And, it’s educational too. Learn how racial paranoia fed into early prohibition efforts. Marvel bud porn so explicit the pages stick together. Ponder the difference between indica and sativa. Geek out over the technology of hydroponics. Enrich yourself with regional rolling techniques such as blunts and the exotic “European” spliff – mixed with tobacco to make it truly rebellious. And weep, weep I tell you, at the palty skinny on the “New York joint,” famous around the country for being so slim you can “pick your teeth.”

Which reminds me, something needs to be done about the crazy price of the smokables in this city. Reading chapters on how they roll “Texas-sized” down south, I can’t remember the last time I even saw a dime-bag. An eighth of hydro reportedly runs $70-$80. Community merchants blame the “war on terror,” with cops randomly searching at bridges and tunnels for Osama Bin Smokin, but I smell profiteering. If you can’t get lifted on a working man’s wage, then the terrorists are winning. And we wouldn’t want that.

Setting the Standard for the Study of the Russian

Kevin J. Murphy

Reviewing Alexander Rabinowitch, The Bolsheviks Come to Power

Chicago: Haymarket Books, London: Pluto Press, 2004.

xxxiii + 394 pp. Photographs, maps, notes, selected
bibliography, index. $65.00 (cloth), ISBN
0-745-32269-7; $18.00 (paper), ISBN 0-745-32268-9.

Contemporary politics always have figured prominently
in framing the way historians approach the Russian
Revolution. The social movements of the 1960s inspired
a generation of historians to study history "from
below," in which they attempted to reconstruct the
actions and aspirations of those previously written out
of history. In no area did this new social history
produce a more thorough revision than in the contested
field of Russian studies. Over a course of a decade, a
small but extremely talented group of historians proved
beyond doubt what many on the Left had long argued —
that a massive popular uprising had ushered in the
transfer of power to the soviets in 1917.

"Once Upon a Time…"

Jacques Depelchin

Reviewing Ayi Kwei Armah's
KMT: In the House of Life, An Epistemic Novel

[Jacques Depelchin, PhD, is
Executive Director of the Ota Benga International Alliance for Peace in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Visiting Scholar, University of California, Berkeley]

The twenty four chapters of this novel are divided into three unequal parts. Part one (the scholars) starts with the narrator (Lindela) confessing to the contradiction she had lived through: on the one hand trying to run away from her mission in order to achieve peace of mind, and on the other hand, so to speak, the mission constantly presenting itself and calling on her to act. What had caused her to seek forgetfulness was the loss of her best friend while attending a school (White castle school) set up by well-meaning white colonizers to train future native leaders. Her dilemma is a familiar one: a witness of a crime who cannot help but respond to her conscience and speak the truth, whatever the cost.

Jungle Fever

Marshall Sahlins, Washington Post Book World
[Dec. 10, 2000]

Reviewing Darkness in El Dorado

How Scientists and Journalists Devastated the Amazon

By Patrick Tierney

Norton. 417 pp. $27.95

Guilty not as charged.

Well before it reached the bookstores, Patrick Tierney's Darkness in El Dorado set off a flurry of publicity and electronic debate over its allegations that, at about the same time American soldiers were carrying out search-and-destroy missions in the jungles of Vietnam, American scientists were doing something like research-and-destroy by knowingly spreading disease in the jungles of Amazonia. On closer examination, the alleged scientific horror turned out to be something less than that, even as it was always the lesser part of Tierney's book. By far the greater part is the story, sufficiently notorious in its own right, of the well-known anthropologist Napoleon Chagnon: of his work among the Yanomami people of Venezuela and his fame among the science tribe of America.

A Hacker Manifesto

McKenzie Wark

Ours is once again an age of manifestos. Wark's book
challenges the new regime of property relations with all
the epigrammatic vitality, conceptual innovation, and
revolutionary enthusiasm of the great manifestos. — Michael Hardt, co-author of Empire

Type hello to the nascent "hacker class," McKenzie Wark's loose
confederation of fixers, file sharers, inventors, shut-ins,
philosophers, programmers, and pirates... The Lang College
professor's ambitious A Hacker Manifesto Googles for signs of
hope in this cyber-global-corporate-brute world of ours, and he
fixes on the hackers, macro-savvy visionaries from all fields who
"hack" the relationships and meanings the rest of us take for
granted. If we hackers-of words, computers, sound, science,
etc.-organize i
nto a working, sociopolitical class, Wark argues,
then the world can be ours. — Hua Hsu, Village Voice

A double is haunting the world — the double of
abstraction, the virtual reality of information,
programming or poetry, math or music, curves or
colorings upon which the fortunes of states and armies,
companies and communities now depend. The bold aim
of this book is to make manifest the origins, purpose,
and interests of the emerging class responsible for
making this new world — for producing the new
concepts, new perceptions, and new sensations out of
the stuff of raw data.

Anonymous Comrade writes:

"Toward an American Revolutionary Praxis"

Geert Dhondt, The New Formulation

Reviewing: How the Irish Became

By Noel Ignatiev

New York: Routledge, 1995

Race Traitor

By Noel Ignatiev and John Garvey (editors)

New York: Routledge, 1996


The Lesson of The Hour: Wendell

on Abolition and Strategy

By Noel Ignatiev (editor)

Chicago: Charles H. Kerr, 2001.

[O]f all struggles in which a popular
victory would fatally weaken U.S. Capitalism, the fight against White Supremacy
is the one with the greatest chance of success. — Noel Ignatiev(1)

One hundred years ago, W.E.B. Dubois wrote in The
Souls of Black Folk
that “The problem of the twentieth century is
the problem of the color line.” How has this analysis from one of this
nation’s greatest revolutionary intellectuals influenced American anarchism?
Not much, I guess. Alexander Berkman and Emma Goldman, for example, did not
write much on the “Negro Question,” nor did many of their contemporaries
in the heyday of the anarchist movement. While the Industrial Workers of the
World (IWW) were a welcome exception to this phenomenon, most of the revolutionary
proletariat did not pay much attention to the color line. The famous Eugene
V. Debs even stated that revolutionary politics was “white men’s
business.” In the late 19th century and early 20th century, much of the
revolutionary proletariat—in which the anarchist movement was based—was
from Europe or of European decent and their outlook and experiences reflected
these origins. The European immigrants brought with them anarchism and other
revolutionary traditions from Europe, but—of course—this here is
not Europe; the United States, while part of this global capitalist system,
has its own peculiar development, with its own fault lines and its own revolutionary
heritage, and U.S. anarchists are frequently much less familiar with it than
with the European revolutionary tradition. Anarchists in the United States tend
to know more about Russia’s Makhnovist movement or the details of the
Spanish Civil War than about—for example—the Abolitionist Movement,
the Reconstruction era, or the Civil Rights Movement. The New Abolitionists,
with their Journal Race Traitor, are a refreshing exception to this.
They are looking not to the European revolutionary legacy to imagine the possibility
of social revolution in this country, but instead look at America’s own
revolutionary tradition, to people such as the Abolitionists and the Wobblies,
to try figure out a strategy for revolution in the belly of the beast.

New Abolitionist politics have had an increasing
influence on the anarchists in the United States. The politics were present
in the now defunct Love and Rage Revolutionary Anarchist Federation,(2) they
have influenced the new revolutionary group that is forming around the Bring
the Ruckus Draft Proposal
(3) and they have had some influence in the Northeastern
Federation of Anarcho-Communists. This book review will look at three books
by New Abolitionist Noel Ignatiev.

"Witches of the 'First International'"

Steven Colatrella

Reviewing Caliban and the Witch:

Women, the Body and Primitive Accumulation

Silvia Federici [Autonomedia, Brooklyn, 2004]

During the 16th and 17th century, hundreds of thousands of women were burned as witches across Europe. This holocaust, unprecedented in the history of any society before or since, is at the center of this brilliant new book by Silvia Federici, an early opponent of the IMF's role in Third World countries and veteran feminist theorist. This book is the most important new work on the origins of capitalism to appear in thirty years, since Immanual Wallerstein's The Modern World System. For activists today, Caliban and the Witch is more relevant and useful to our anticapitalist struggles and movements. For the inspiration for the book came from the author's years in Nigeria where she witnessed and participated in struggles against IMF and World Bank structural adjustment and privatization of land and resources. The book is part and parcel of the anticapitalist globalization movement (or global justice movement) and links the struggles at the dawn of the capitalist era with those in Chiapas, in Bolivia, in the oil fields of southern Nigeria, in the forests of Indonesia, against privatization of communally owned land and wealth.

Chuck Morse writes: From: The New Formulation: An Anti-Authoritarian Review of Books - Volume Two, Number Two --- Winter Spring 2004

New Argentine Social Movements:

Logic and History

Review by Fernando López

Hipótesis 891. Más allá de los piquetes (Hypothesis 891: Beyond the Pickets)
By Colectivo Situaciones and MTD de Solano
Buenos Aires: De Mano en Mano, 2002

Genealogía de la revuelta. Argentina: la sociedad en movimiento
(Genealogy of the Revolt: Argentina,
Society in Movement)
By Raúl Zibechi
Montevideo-La Plata-Buenos Aires:
Nordan-Letra Libre, 2003

In the last decade Argentines
have been witnesses to and victims of the collapse of the system bequeathed
by the dictatorship of 1976-1983. This system was prolonged by Alfonsín’s
post-dictatorship “hostage democracy,” culminated in the
robbery during Menem’s rule of 1989-1999, and was continued by
De la Rúa. It established immunity for a small group that concentrated
the country’s scarce resources in a few hands while condemning
a third of the population to social exclusion. Faced with this brutality,
our society generated varied and novel forms of resistance, as revealed
in the social explosions that occurred in December 2001. They are called
new social movements because, among other things, the labor organizations
did not participate decisively and the social bases of these movements
were impossible to frame professionally. Likewise, political organizations
did not produce—and could not control—the new movements.

Chuck Morse writes:

"Breaking the Law: Anti-Authoritarian Visions of Crime and Justice"

Randall Amster, The New Formulation


Restorative Justice: Healing the Foundations of
Our Everyday Lives

By Dennis Sullivan & Larry Tifft

Monsey, NY: Willow Tree Press, 2001

The Struggle to be Human:

Criminology, and Anarchism

By Larry Tifft & Dennis Sullivan

Orkney, UK: Cienfuegos Press, 1980

By now it is obvious to almost
everyone that current “criminal justice” practices are at
best ineffective and at worst brutal. Critics on many fronts have attacked
the prison-industrial complex, with its “three-strikes”
laws and for-profit bureaucratic schemes. Even the mainstream media
have reported on the United States’ record rates of incarceration,
the privatization of the prison industry, corporate use of convict labor,
prison overcrowding, and the increasing application of the death penalty.
There is now broad outrage at this systematized insanity masking as
“law and order” and many have begun to search for alternative
methods of understanding concepts such as crime, punishment, and justice.
There is cause for hope in this, but also concern, given that so much
still needs to be done and that the current crisis continues to worsen

This review is from the current edition of the excellent "Green Pepper". The theme for this issue is "Life Beyond The Market".

"On the Inseparability of High Theory and Low Theory:
Critical Review of David Graeber´s Fragments of an
Anarchist Anthropology

Jason Adams

While it is somewhat surprising, it certainly is
fitting that a book series edited by Marsall Sahlins
should produce a book such as David Graeber's recent
offering, which attempts to lay the groundwork for
what he hopes will develop into an 'anarchist
anthropology'. Indeed, in the last three decades of
the twentieth century, it was the work of Sahlins and
other critical anthropologists such as Richard Lee and
Pierre Clastres that produced some of the most
outstanding changes within anarchist theory.


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