Fighting for our Lives!

Fighting for our Lives

Fifteen years ago, we published the following text introducing anarchism to the general public as a total way of being, at once adventurous and accessible. We offered the paper free in any quantity, raising tens of thousands of dollars for printing and even offering to cover the postage to mail copies to anyone who could not afford them. In the first two weeks, we sent out 90,000 copies. It appeared just in time for the “People’s Strike” mobilization against the IMF and World Bank in Washington, DC; the pastor at the Presbyterian church that hosted anticapitalist activists in DC preached her Sunday sermon from the primer as she spoke to her congregation about the demonstrations. Over the following decade, Fighting for Our Lives figured in countless escapades and outreach efforts; read this story for an example. In the end, we distributed 650,000 print copies.

Fighting for Our Lives has been out of print for several years, as we’ve focused on other projects such as To Change Everything. We’ve now prepared a zine version for our downloads library. From this vantage point, we can appreciate both the text and the project itself as ambitious and exuberant attempts to break with the logic of the existing order and to stake everything on establishing new relations. We’ve learned a lot in the years since then—but we haven’t backed down one millimeter.


#636 Smash the State!

22″ x 20″ Black acrylic, white gouache, watercolor, pen and ink on 140 lb cold press Fabriano paper .
I’m turning to the idea of titles that simple reflect my mood, or extraneous thoughts at the time; these may or may not be descriptive of the work. In this case, the title appears in the painting, but so does ‘Train Wreck,’ ‘Sing,’ and several letters and numbers. As long as Trump is in the White House, and until we have a real revolution — I might name all my pieces, “Smash the State.”

#92 Beauty is Where you Find It

Another older piece, an assemblage of debris found on the street around the Ox, the collective warehouse in Kensington, where I lived in 2012. This isn’t a celebration of decay–but of what I imagine we must do: reclaim from the ruins of capitalism, a vision for a new world!

(I don’t want to call these ‘assemblages’ anymore. My motives are not those of Rauschenberg, who I think, was the first to use that term. I don’t use ‘everyday objects,’ I use debris, the decay of consumerism, and my purpose is transformation. I was thininking: reclinations, a portmanteau or transformation, and recycle.
It would be nice if I had photoshop, and could make the background neutral.)


I’ve started adding titles to my work.

No, these titles weren’t on my mind while I was making these pieces. They’re partly tongue in cheek… but only partly so. While I don’t think metaphorically when I work–don’t think in words much at all, beyond… “where did I leave the cap to the cadmium yellow?” … I feel, deeply so, the conflict between what it means to make art in this time, feel deeply the impossibility of escaping the grinding jaws of capitalism that inevitably turn whatever an artist does into a commodity, reduced to exchange value. There’s no escape — the most explicit anti-capitalist, revolutionary call to arms–can expect no better fate, its message reduced to a decoration on some wealthy collectors wall. Better oblivion. Better to burn them all.

…better still… to do what I’m compelled to do.

I will not give anyone else the power of judgement over my work. If you think my art merely decorative, serving no revolutionary purpose… these titles express something of why I think you are wrong. To explore the pleasures of the eye–with a clear conscience, does mean having that eye turned to the future–to a world on the other side of capitalist domination and all the evils sheltered within it–a world whose form we cannot yet imagine, let alone see.
This is a conflict rooted deep in my heart and thoughts, it fills my perception of everything in this present world. I do hope… whether I’m successful or not… that the visual pleasures of my art, however slight, may in some way keep alive the faith… that there exists more than what we see now, keep alive the hope of revolution, faith in what we will build when we are free from these Empires of Money and Death.
So yes, the titles are a kind of joke… but serious joke, nonetheless.

A fable

images In a world far away, and far into the future, Plant Beings are engaged in a prolonged struggle with an invasion from intelligent, conscious, self-replicating machines. The plant beings have been desperately attempting to find where these machines came from, in hopes that this will give them a better understanding of how to deal with them. The machines are taking over the planet, exploiting it’s resources, raw materials they use to build production facilities they need to replicate themselves.

There is no competition for these resources, and the plant beings cannot understand why the machines not only seem to want to use the raw materials, but to colonize and enslave the plant beings. Their research indicates that the machines must have inherited, if that’s the word, this impulsive habit, from whoever or whatever had first made them–along  with a habit of gratuitous cruelty, inflicting pain seemingly, for it’s own sake.

The machines–the Plant Beings now believe– understand themselves to have a calling to replicate everything they know from the history of their organic creators. and to manifest this in their relations with whatever forms of life they might encounter.

Made on a now, dead planet, they were sent into space, the peaceful, Plant Beings believe, as the continuation of a soon to be extinct, organic life form–as a techno-evolution of the species that made them.

Their makers, of course… were us. Their planet of origin, the long dead planet, Earth.

#622 – with page from Goby’s Journal: Stasi Trump Jesus and the Subjunctive Voice

18″ x 24″ Acrylic on wood.
Layering. Interested in giving an impression of depth, without resorting to geometric perspective. Pollock, of course… but also, the illusion that one is looking at something… both real, and mysterious, like Hubble photos, or electron microscopy… in color. right click on photo for more detail.


… I’m thinking of using this piece of a packing crate for a frame. Paint it black.


Goby’s Journal: December 23, 2016

Stasi, Trump, Jesus and the Subjunctive Voice

In an age when anyone who hears us speak, in person, or through social media, students in our classrooms, our patients or customers–when anyone might feel empowered by the Trumpocracy, to report you, to troll you, to try to get you fired, blacklisted, kicked off a plane…
It would be well, were we to revive the long neglected subjunctive voice.
To polish our skills at not quite saying what we mean.

If one were to imagine oneself, say, in 1956 East Berlin, one would find ways, even in front of a class, of speaking to those who “had ears to hear,” without giving cause to those who would take you down, were they so inclined. Which brings to mind–that phrase, “those who have ears to hear” — the language used by Jesus in the Gospels: speaking in parables. Jesus, too, lived under a hostile power. How much of that language was made to pass safely through the Roman occupation?

We aren’t at that level, yet… of Stasi, say… where no one, not even our most radical friends, can be trusted, because anyone can be made to be an informant. Let them only describe what will happen to your children, your aging parents, should you refuse. But this is where we are headed.

I have heard stories. Some reported in news, some seen on social media. Would that it were true that nothing of the kind had happened to anyone I know.

Be careful. Don’t say anything in private you wouldn’t say in public, cause… nothing is private. Learn from poets how to say more and less and other than what you mean.

This is my faith: bones of a Radical Manifesto

Nothing here about petitions, phone calls or emails to “leaders” begging them to do something for us. Or supporting candidates. Or elections. This is a radical agenda. The simplest outline of a Radical Manifesto. The basics. No NGO’s. No Gov. approved non-profits. Go where permit and license not needed–or if they are, do without, and call it Resistance. Start with the basics. The foundation. Work for change from there.
In these dark times–what can we do in the world?
Ask … what matters, always, everywhere?
Medical/health care.
Education (in the broadest sense)
… and the arts: poetry, dance, music, the visual arts… because without language that has the power to remind us how to be human–we are lost.
Imagine, then, what each of these might be in the world we want to live in.
Join hands with someone. Together, begin to clear some space, small or large, for that to happen. To plant the seeds, that will become our garden… the garden we thought had been lost to us forever.
If your hand is empty now–if you are not within reach of someone whose hand you know you can grasp–acting in resistance and solidarity to make that world… how could one not but feel helpless? And if you feel helpless–so does someone else.
Find them…
They need you, as you need them. Believe in yourself–that they need you, as you need them!
Speak up. Reach out. When we find one another, we will know what to do. Trust that this is so.
That is my faith.

My (brief) experience with Artfinder.

We all need to make a living
It’s not my problem
I was only following orders.
I thought I could stay under the radar. After getting kicked off  Wetcanvas for using the word ‘Queer’ (to describe myself!), I thought… just play it cool. Chill. Fuck, I need the money.
I answered questions on the application, sent photos of my art, was accepted. It was going ok, until I had a problem with a required field in setting up my “shop.” They wanted a phone number. But only a cell would do… Skype wasn’t going to work. The help FAQ suggested I look in the forums. Big mistake.
I came across a thread where several artists were complaining about ArtFinder’s exclusionary promotions. Of the 6000 some members, only a handful have their work selected to be foregrounded, to be posted on FB, etc.
“What do you expect, it’s a business. It’s not about equality,” someone wrote.
I replied to one of those–that, this was to be expected. AF is a virtual gallery, so it follows the rules of the system. It’s how the gallery-to-investor system works. One of its primary purposes is to exclude–to secure the value of a very few “brands” for investors. That’s where the money is. It’s capitalism. Capitalism corrupts the whole process of distribution of art as a “product.”
I’m called an idiot. That AF is for “real artists,” and this is how “real artists” make a living. What kind of person am I, biting the hand … etc.
Bye bye ArtFinder.
Why are artists so often, so compliant, so unthinking, so docile and willing to be used by their Masters?
After this most recent difficult encounter with the establishment art world–I’m most grateful for A-Space and the radical community for providing a place for our work to be seen–I mean, for artists who don’t want/can’t make themselves, be part of the capitalist artist branding, gallery-to-investor system.
It’s a form of political censorship. And don’t tell me, “it’s my choice,” cause if it’s a choice for me, it’s so only because I chose to look the other way and not see the many for whom there is no choice, how for those who are suckered into the con game, it’s overwhelmingly white men who make up that 5 to 10% whose ‘brands’ are trending, and so appalingly few blacks and marginalized people even get let in the door.
It’s an utterly corrupt system–the same system that sends drones across the world to bomb hospitals and wedding parties, and call it “collateral” damage
… interesting, inn’it … the other meaning for that word, “collateral.” If you don’t have the collateral, you become the damage.
Capitalism has colonized art. That’s the reality. Suck up to the bloodsuckers, or you got no future in the system.

The Neoliberal/fascist War Machine

When we think of the war machine, the focus tends to be on the horrors of war itself, on the cost to social programs when so much of the national budget goes to military and arms makers, of our treatment of veterans… but these are only parts of the machine, and not the machine itself

When you see the figures for contributions to candidates and political representatives, the larger structure begins to emerge. Isn’t this the very heart of 21st C. neoliberal/fascism–that the war machine has become the real owner of the State, that the oligarchs we want to see as our owners and rulers, have themselves lost power over the War Machine–that to maintain their wealth and the illusion of influence, they are free only to act as operatives of and for the War Machine?

… a machine that has no goal but increasing destruction–of everything subordinate to it, until there is nothing left to destroy but itself… and all human life with it?

In the long run, all the Presidential candidates, are servants of the War Machine. There is no hope for survival, or significant change, within the orders of established power. We need to find the fissures in the walls, the cracks in the foundation, to build in spaces still invisible to The Machine–alternative lives, organizations and relationships in what, from within the orders of power, are but figments of the Unreal. Microspaces of imagination, resistance and love.