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TOTW: Anarchists Take The Stage

17 hours 28 min ago

Anarchy is a story. The ways that we tell it, the characters we emphasize, diminish, or omit altogether shape the way that we relate to it, the way we relate to the world and the way we relate to each other.

There are, as with anything, many ways of telling anarchy’s story, of weaving together the lives of individual people into something larger than themselves, of giving narrative structure to what otherwise might seem like isolated acts of rebellion. Two of these structures I’ve heard are 1. The wave system (1st, 2nd, ?) and 2. Something like “humans were anarchists for 99% of their time on earth and then something went wrong”. Both of these constructions create casts of rebels, anarchist or not, and both set anarchy moving on a particular path, crafting a particular anarchist story.

So, to keep pushing a bad metaphor, let’s cast our story of anarchy. Who would you choose as the stars? Would they be criminally under-represented anarchist figures? Non-anarchist writers, artists, criminals? Your grandmother? How do these figures fit into your definition of anarchy, and how do they change the story of anarchy from what it is to what it could be?

Tags: totwanarchystorytelling
Categories: News

Anarchy Bang: Introducing Episode 44 – Intentional Communities

Fri, 11/08/2019 - 00:22

From Anarchy Bang

The idea of getting a bunch of like-minded people together, moving onto some land and living out one's anarchist dreams in the real world has been an attractive idea for many people ever since the very beginning of anarchism in the U.S. (with Josiah Warren and his crew). Across recent decades, shared anarchist living spaces have served as refuges, experiments and/or the fulcrums of change in their various forms as squats, punk houses, tree-sits, free states, student co-ops, and of course, hippie communes. While there have been many failures in this endeavor, there has also been a number of successes that continue on to this day (most notably the Catholic Worker communities and the Federation of Egalitarian Communities). Join us this Sunday as we discuss intentional communities and how they relate with anarchy and anarchists!

Join in the conversation!

Sunday at noon (PST or -7 UTC) at https://anarchybang.com/
Email questions ahead if you'd like
The real time IRC is a chaotic mess (and pleasure). There are better ways to connect to IRC but it involves some reading
The call in number is (646) 787-8464

Categories: News

Athens, Greece: Attacks on Riot Cops

Thu, 11/07/2019 - 21:09

Yesterday 2\11, after the solidarity demo that began in Victoria Square, we (a group of women and men) attacked the military checkpoint of MAT in Spirou Trikoupi\Tositsa to have an immediate answer to the eviction of VANCOUVER squat.

Around 15:30, a team of 30 anarchists separated in two groups (offense and defense) and acted as follows:

1) The first group (offense): attacked the military checkpoint of MAT at Trikoupi\Tositsa with molotovs and stones.

2) The second group (defense): helped the offensive group come back to a safe place and fought back the cops when they chased the comrades.

After the attacks, the solidarity doors of some buildings were open for us so we went to the rooftop of these buildings and we started throwing iron, fire and some heavy things on the heads of the cops who were chasing us.

All the comrades who did the action left the area safe, but we were informed that cops had arrested at least two random people from Exarchia, accusing them of riot.

Our answer to the eviction of VANCOUVER squat should be very clear to the regime:

1) The answer to the state violence is violence back.

2) The reoccupation of squats which were evicted by regime is one of our main goals.

3) Attacks will continue until cops leave our neighborhoods.

Also, we give our solidarity to strugglers of ROJAVA and CHILE who are under attack by turkish and chile regimes.

A few days ago we got information that anti-terrorist cops are in front of the house of a comrade and undercovers have been following him in the streets (also there was a text from our comrade on athens.indymedia about his situation: https://athens.indymedia.org/post/1600684/) This makes it clear that the regime is afraid of the strugglers. We stand together with the imprisoned strugglers and the strugglers that are under investigation by the state.

When injustice becomes law, resistance becomes duty.

comrades

(via Athens Indymedia 1, 2)

 

Tags: athensattackGreecesquats
Categories: News

Germany: #Fight4Rojava – Mercedes Dealership Attacked

Thu, 11/07/2019 - 20:36

from anarchists worldwide

During the night of the 5th to the 6th of November, a Mercedes dealership in Kreuzberg in Berlin was attacked by militants as part of the #Fight4Rojava campaign. The militants smashed the windows of the dealership and threw paint-bombs at the building.

Mercedes is owned by Daimler AG who also own a military division, Mercedes‑Benz Defence Vehicles, that supplies the fascist Turkish state war machine as well as the military forces of Algeria, Libya, Qatar, Kuwait, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.

Here are some excerpts from the claim of responsibility for the attack that was posted on German Indymedia:

“Daimler AG is supporting NATO partner Turkey’s war of aggression against the most progressive social project in North East Syria. Profits count more than anything else in the world of capitalism.”

“Like our friends in Kurdistan, we fight for a liberated society. A society without profit motives, power structures and patriarchy! We wish death to the capitalist system and we will never stop holding you to account!”

Tags: actionberlinsolidarityRojava
Categories: News

Prison Profiteers Attacked by Militant Cells of Fire Against Prisons

Thu, 11/07/2019 - 20:32

from anarchists worldwide

Fire to the enemies of freedom! Fire to the prisons!

The existence of prisons serves the conditioning of humans, the administration of misery, the destruction of rebellion, the torture of bodies, the blunting of souls. For a prison society such as ours, it is unbearably necessary to lock away the misery produced by the capitalist system. When you are born in poverty, the threat to end up behind bars is significantly higher. By enforcing judgments of a judiciary, which judges in the sense of the upper classes, prison keeps the wheels of oppression running. Therefore the fight for social justice must always be a struggle against this incarcerating mentality and the existence of prisons. The fight for the liberation of all humans has to abolish the prison society.

For this reason we went out in the night of the 4th of November and struck twice: Once in Rodewisch (Saxony, Germany) and hit the road construction company VSTR GmbH and twice at Hentschke Bau GmbH in Bautzen (Saxony, Germany). At both locations we set heavy construction machinery on fire. We consigned two trucks, two excavators, one van and one tractor unit to the flames. The estimated material damage caused is in the six digits. Both companies have taken orders for the new giant prison project in Zwickau-Marienthal (Saxony, Germany). There they are diligently working in this bleak area building a big concrete wall surrounding the new prison territory.(1) After the successful attack on the construction site in August 2019 we now followed the call of the comrades. The accomplices, who named themselves “Autonomous Commando Thomas Meyer-Falk”, have already outlined background information concerning the construction of the new penal institution in Zwickau-Marienthal and the machinations of the company Hentschke Bau in their communique. We would like to link their passionate words here. (2)
We want to point out, that the participation and enrichment by supporting the prison industry is not rewarding. Furthermore we recommend not to participate in the cruel business of the prison system. It could raise great anger in some human hearts…

Prison is the embodiment of isolation and exclusion from society. By this, the “problems” of capitalist society are partly pushed out sight from the public. The misery, the poverty, which drives people to criminality has to be administered. Be it through chasing the homeless or begging people away from the city centers, or through incarceration of unpleasant individuals. The public doesn’t need to care. Once these humans are locked away, they are sorted out, send to banishment, are made invisible, are forgotten.

This is one reason why the majority of prisons are located in bleak and remote areas. These giant, grey buildings should preferably not be noticed by the public. They should not recall that behind these walls there are humans rotting, not recall that they might be responsible for their suffering. Through this the society refuses the discussion, if we can talk about justice here, with this judiciary and its executors ruling. Within the past years we observed that the prison issue lacked visibility, even in radical left contexts. This action shall be a contribution to emphasize the importance of a struggle against prisons and the prison society.

We have to expose prisons as what they are: An instrument of power. A tool that serves the emperors, to protect themselves against the people. Ever since their main function is punishment, even though they name it re-socialization. Many imprisoned people are rejecting the image of the re-socializing effect of imprisonment. They complain, that the contrary is the case: “The reality has proven, that most prisons are not working in cooperation with, but against the imprisoned and the goal of reintegration.” (3) More than 53.3 % of the 50,957 imprisoned people had to serve sentences before.

The imprisoned H. Deutsch is writing, that nothing seriously changed since the reformation of the German penal system in the 70s. The conceptual structure remained, there “had to have happened a complete exchange of the prison guards, as well as the prison directory”. The fairytale of re-socialization proved to be a masquerade that justifies imprisonment in front of the public. Hidden behind this dogma, the cruelties of the former penalty institutions still exist, going along with the impacts on the imprisoned.
So for example:

– mental (up to 88% of the imprisoned) and physical illnesses of the imprisoned based on their incarceration (4)
– insufficient medical support (5)
– The white torture, named solitary confinement
– forced labor, payment below minimum wage, no possibility to save for pension funds
– unwholesome diet and overpriced food within prison supermarkets
– sanctioning of contact and complete surveillance of communication
– Bullying by the prison guards
– up to the post-penalty preventive incarceration possible until death

We are supporting the struggles of the imprisoned for better conditions within detention and the granting of their human rights, up to the demand to demolish every prison. The concrete claims for better conditions contain the abolishment of solitary confinement, of preventive incarceration, of forced labor, the advent of the minimum wage payment and the possibility to save for pension funds, as well as a sufficient medical care system.
Putting aside the main purpose of prisons, the oppression of individuals for a seamless function of capitalist power, we still face a society that demands prisons for supposed security. But prisons will never solve the problems of society. Even inhuman violence has its roots in our socialization, in our social environment, in our experiences. If our goal is a violence-free and liberated society, we have to rethink the way we interact and renew society. Only a liberated society will be capable of solving the prison problem.

We hope that our flames could warm all those who linger within cold prison walls. May our fire be a small light to those who are facing dark times. For Loic, for the Park Bench 3. For Lisa and Thomas. Your struggle is inspiring us, it was part of our motivation for this attack.

Freedom to all prisoners!

Militant Cells of Fire Against Prisons! (((A)))

(1) Since the bombing attacks carried out by the Revolutionary Cells (RZ) in the 1970s, the walls of German prisons are built first, the buildings are built second.
(2) https://anarchistsworldwide.noblogs.org/post/2019/08/21/saxony-germany-p...
(3) (German language) https://ggbo.de/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/Gesundheit-und-wie-der-Staat-...
(4) (German language) https://www.aerztezeitung.de/Politik/Immer-mehr-Haeftlinge-sind-psychisc...
(5) (German language) https://ggbo.de/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/GGBOPapier-zur-medizinischen-...

Tags: saxonyGermanyaction
Categories: News

Ecuadorian Armed Forces Hunt Anarchist Cells By ANA

Thu, 11/07/2019 - 20:30

from a-infos.

The Ecuadorian Armed Forces have a new mission following the 11-day protests in Ecuador. Identify, isolate and neutralize insurgent groups. ---- In a public act on Wednesday (30/10), Commander Altamirano (photo), referred to the new directive issued by the Ministry of Defense, for the Armed Forces to identify the insurgents and anarchist cells "detected" during the last protests. ---- For his part, Fabián Fuel, Director of Joint Command Operations, referred to the statements of the president of the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (Conaie), Jaime Vargas, about the creation of an army for indigenous communities. "These are the missions that the only army of Ecuadorians fulfill. The brigade that will once again fulfill the defense of sovereignty and territorial integrity against this new threat of delinquents, of terrorists, where our mission will be to identify, isolate and neutralize them to be delivered to the competent authorities."

Source: News Agencies

Tags: repressioninternationalecuador
Categories: News

When America Tried to Deport Its Radicals

Thu, 11/07/2019 - 20:27

from the new yorker via agency.

On a winter night a hundred years ago, Ellis Island, the twenty-seven-acre patch of land in New York Harbor that had been the gateway to America for millions of hopeful immigrants, was playing the opposite role. It had been turned into a prison for several hundred men, and a few women, most of whom had arrived in handcuffs and shackles. They were about to be shipped across the Atlantic, in the country’s first mass deportation of political dissidents in the twentieth century.

Before dawn on December 21, 1919, the prisoners were roused from their bunks to be packed onto a barge and transported to a waiting vessel, the Buford, which was berthed in Brooklyn. The Buford was an elderly, decrepit troopship, known by sailors as a heavy “roller” in rough seas. One of the two hundred and forty-nine people who were deported that day, Ivan Novikov, described the scene in the island prison: “It was noisy and the room was full of smoke. Everybody knew already that we are going to be sent out. . . . Many with tears in their eyes were writing telegrams and letters.” Many “were in the literal sense of the word without clothes or shoes,” he went on. “There was no laughter.” Then, as now, deportations severed families: “One left a mother, the other a wife and son, one a sweetheart.”

At 4 A.M., with the temperature in the twenties, shouting guards ordered the captives outside, where a gangplank led to the barge and an attached tugboat. “Deep snow lay on the ground; the air was cut by a biting wind,” wrote that day’s most famous victim of what she called “deportation mania,” the Russian-born anarchist and feminist firebrand Emma Goldman. “A row of armed civilians and soldiers stood along the road. . . . One by one the deportees marched, flanked on each side by the uniformed men, curses and threats accompanying the thud of their feet on the frozen ground.”

The mass expulsion was so important to the U.S. government that, despite the hour, a delegation from Washington joined the deportees on the trip across the harbor to the Buford. The group included several members of Congress, most notably Representative Albert Johnson, of Washington State, who was the chair of the House Committee on Immigration and Naturalization as well as an outspoken anti-Semite, a Ku Klux Klan favorite, and an ardent opponent of immigration. Shepherding the party was a dark-haired, twenty-four-year-old Justice Department official who was quietly respectful toward the dignitaries he was with but who would, before long, wield far more power than any of them: J. Edgar Hoover.

Hoover had met Goldman some weeks earlier, in the courtroom where he made the case for her deportation. Now one of the great American radicals of her day and the man who would become the country’s premier hunter of such dissidents encountered each other one last time, in the galley of the tugboat. She was fifty, more than twice his age, but they were of similar stature, and would have stood nearly eye to eye, with Goldman looking at Hoover through her pince-nez. One admirer described her as having “a stocky figure like a peasant woman, a face of fierce strength like a female pugilist.” Hoover had won this particular match, but, according to a congressman who witnessed the exchange, she got in one last jab.

“Haven’t I given you a square deal, Miss Goldman?” Hoover asked, as they steamed toward Brooklyn in the darkness.

“Oh, I suppose you’ve given me as square a deal as you could,” she replied, two hours away from being ejected from the country where she had lived for thirty-four years and found the voice that had won her admirers around the world. “We shouldn’t expect from any person something beyond his capacity.”

That morning’s mass deportation had been preceded by a crescendo of anti-immigrant rhetoric that will sound distinctly familiar today. “The surest way to preserve the public against those disciples of destruction,” Thomas Edward Campbell, the governor of Arizona, told a conference of newspaper editors on February 22, 1919, “is to send them back forthwith to lands from which they came.” And if native-born Americans were acting un-American, why not deport them, too? Senator Kenneth McKellar, of Tennessee, suggested that they “be deported permanently to the Island of Guam.”

And why not go one step further and strip objectionable people of U.S. citizenship, to make them more deportable? In 1919, alarmed by the growing presence of “peoples of Asiatic races,” the Anti-Alien League called for a constitutional amendment “to restrict citizenship by birth within the United States to the children of parents who are of a race which is eligible for citizenship”—i.e., whites. Senator Wesley Jones, of Washington State, promised to introduce such a measure—a proposal not unlike today’s calls to end birthright citizenship. That May, a cheering convention of the American Legion demanded the deportation not only of immigrants who evaded military service during the First World War but of any men who evaded service.

What made high-ranking government officials so passionate about deportations that they would get up in the middle of the night to ride through freezing wind across New York Harbor? One factor was the Bolshevik seizure of power in Russia in November, 1917, which political and corporate leaders feared might incite militant labor unionists in the U.S., who had already shaken the country with a stormy, decade-long wave of strikes. Lenin had written a “Letter to American Workingmen” declaring “the inevitability of the international revolution.” Postwar economic turmoil promised to make the country more vulnerable than ever to radical doctrines.

For these officials, the most worrisome left-wing group was the Industrial Workers of the World, known as the Wobblies. The I.W.W. had more flash than breadth—the number of members probably never exceeded a hundred thousand—but the Wobblies caught the public imagination with their colorful posters, stirring songs, and flair for drama.

The Justice Department began a nationwide crackdown in September, 1917, raiding all four dozen I.W.W. offices and the homes of many activists. In sealed boxcars, Wobblies from around the country were brought to Chicago’s Cook County Jail. When they received news of the Bolshevik takeover in St. Petersburg, they celebrated by singing and banging tin cups on their cell bars. A hundred and one leading Wobblies were charged with violating a long list of federal laws as part of a mass trial—still the largest in American history—that ran through the spring and summer of 1918. The jury took a mere fifty-five minutes to render its verdict, finding all the defendants guilty on all counts. They were sentenced to an average of eight years in prison. Tons of I.W.W. records, which the Justice Department had seized in the raids, were later burned.

Fear of bolshevism blended with a long-standing hostility toward certain classes of immigrants. By 1890, those coming ashore at Ellis Island were no longer from places like Britain and Germany; the great bulk were now from Italy, Eastern Europe, or the Russian Empire, and they were Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, or Jewish. There were a lot of them, too: by 1900, the majority of men in Manhattan over the age of twenty-one were foreign-born.

Many Americans shared the resentment voiced in a book published in 1902: “Throughout the [nineteenth] century men of the sturdy stocks of the north of Europe had made up the main strain of foreign blood which was every year added to the vital working force of the country . . . but now there came multitudes of men of the lowest class from the south of Italy and men of the meaner sort out of Hungary and Poland, men out of the ranks where there was neither skill nor energy nor any initiative of quick intelligence; and they came in numbers which increased from year to year, as if the countries of the south of Europe were disburdening themselves of the more sordid and hapless elements of their population.” The writer of these words was a young Princeton professor, who, a decade later, would become the President of the United States: Woodrow Wilson.

His feelings were echoed widely among the American establishment. The Massachusetts senator Henry Cabot Lodge was a prominent political enemy of the President’s, but he completely shared Wilson’s attitude on this score. In a speech to the Senate about the need to restrict “undesirable immigrants” who came from the “races” he found “most alien,” he invoked Thomas Bailey Aldrich’s poem “Unguarded Gates,” which compared such people to the “thronging Goth and Vandal [who] trampled Rome.” For Lodge and others anxious to restrict immigration, Eastern European Jews were definitely among the undesirables. The historian Henry Adams, a friend of Lodge’s, declared that “the Jew makes me creep” and wrote of a “furtive Yacoob or Ysaac still reeking of the Ghetto, snarling a weird Yiddish.” The novelist Henry James was disgusted by the people he saw “swarming” on New York’s heavily Jewish Lower East Side, who reminded him of “small, strange animals . . . snakes or worms.”

These immigrant swarms, politicians claimed, were not just unseemly; with their affinity for radical movements, they were a threat to national security. Many leftists, like Goldman, were Jewish, and the most violent anarchists were largely Italian-American. In June, 1919, one of them managed to blow himself up as he was planting a bomb at the Washington, D.C., home of Wilson’s Attorney General, A. Mitchell Palmer, and among the items he left at the scene was an Italian-English dictionary. The Socialist Party had a high proportion of foreign-born members, and the pro-Socialist press included newspapers like New York’s Robotnik Polski and Chicago’s Parola Proletaria.

The tenor of the deportation frenzy was heightened by the upcoming 1920 Presidential election. Several of those hoping to succeed Wilson saw great potential in promising to deport troublemakers. A leading Republican contender was Major General Leonard Wood, a dashing hero of the Indian Wars and a former Rough Rider, who captured headlines in 1919 for leading military forces against strikes and race riots in the Midwest, and who at one point put Gary, Indiana, under martial law. “Deport these so-called Americans who preach treason,” he told an audience in Kansas City.

Another Republican candidate, the president of Columbia University, Nicholas Murray Butler, said in a speech, “Today, we hear the hiss of a snake in the grass, and the hiss is directed at the things Americans hold most dear.” He called for deporting “Reds” to the Philippines. The Republican senator Miles Poindexter, of Washington State, also eying the Presidential nomination, called on the government “to deport every alien Bolshevist and to punish rather than protect those who practice their savage creed in this country.” Poindexter suggested that Attorney General Palmer was pursuing the deportation of these savages with insufficient vigor: “The government had positively refused in many cases to allow them to go.”

But Palmer, a Democrat, had his own hopes for the Presidency. An imposing-looking man with a shock of gray hair who wore three-piece suits crossed by a watch chain, he was not about to let anyone outflank him in enthusiasm for deportations. And, unlike the out-of-power Republicans, he had the authority to back up his words. Raised as a Quaker, Palmer had declined the position of Secretary of War, when Wilson had offered it, in 1913, but, when he accepted an appointment as Attorney General, in 1919, his faith did not prevent him from waging a kind of domestic war the likes of which the United States has seldom seen.

The bombing of Palmer’s house, which was clearly intended to kill him, his wife, and their ten-year-old daughter, understandably left him terrified. Eight other bombs went off the same night, mostly at the homes of prominent politicians or judges. Some five weeks earlier, a mail bomb had exploded in the home of a former U.S. senator from Georgia, blowing off the hands of his maid, and thirty-five additional mail bombs addressed to Cabinet members, judges, and business moguls were intercepted before they could go off.

Immediately after the spate of bombings, Palmer founded the Radical Division of the Justice Department to track subversive activities of all kinds, and he put J. Edgar Hoover in charge. This post, as Kenneth D. Ackerman shows in his biography “Young J. Edgar,” was a key step on this precocious man’s path to power. Hoover, during an earlier job at the Library of Congress, had come to love the great information-management technology of the day: file cards. Within two and a half years in his new job, he would amass a database of four hundred and fifty thousand cards on people and organizations, carefully linking them to documents in the Radical Division’s files.

To those in power, signs of a simmering revolution were everywhere. Two rival Communist parties each promised to reproduce on American soil the Bolshevik takeover. In 1919, amid the largest strike wave in U.S. history, one in five workers walked off the job—everyone from telephone operators to stage actors. An unprecedented general strike briefly brought Seattle to a halt. In September of that year, most Boston police officers went on strike. If even those sworn to defend law and order were in rebellion, what could come next? Senator Henry Myers, of Montana, warned that if America did not hold firm it would “see a Soviet government set up within two years.”
“Remember, fall is just one of many reasons you shouldn’t leave your mother to go live in California.”Cartoon by Kendra Allenby

At the same time, agents provocateurs played a significant role in the turbulence. Many came from the ranks of private detectives; the three biggest such firms had a hundred and thirty-five thousand employees. In July, 1919, the U.S. attorney in Philadelphia wrote to Palmer to tell him that many of the most extreme agitators were undercover operatives “actively stirring up trouble” because “they know on which side their bread is buttered.” Justice Department officials in Los Angeles concluded that private detectives, in order to create more business, had planted bombs in nearby oil fields. But none of this deterred Palmer, who was now on an anti-dissident crusade, with mass deportations as his main goal. Ninety per cent of Communist and anarchist agitation, he maintained, “is traceable to aliens.”

Millions of immigrants, even if they had arrived decades earlier, had never bothered to become American citizens. The bureaucracy of doing so could seem intimidating, especially for those who didn’t speak English well, and naturalization hadn’t seemed important at a time when the country professed to welcome newcomers. Now, however, lacking citizenship became an enormous liability. Emma Goldman, a prime target, was under close surveillance—her mail was opened, her phone calls were tapped, and her secretary, unbeknownst to her, was a government informer. Goldman believed that she had become a citizen thirty-two years earlier, by marrying a naturalized immigrant, Jacob Kershner. But Hoover contended that the rabbi who performed the ceremony was not properly ordained; moreover, two decades after their divorce, Kershner’s citizenship had been revoked, because he had falsified something on his original application. It was deemed that Goldman had thus lost her status as a U.S. citizen as well, and could be duly shipped off on the Buford.

The crackdown at the time of Goldman’s deportation came to be known as the Palmer Raids, although they were planned and closely supervised by the much younger Hoover. The first big raid rounded up members of the Union of Russian Workers, an avowedly anarchist organization that also offered classes and social activities. Offices of the union in more than a dozen cities were raided during the night of November 7, 1919—pointedly, the second anniversary of the Bolshevik coup—and 1,182 people were arrested and interrogated. A far larger number were roughed up, briefly detained, and then let go. Hoover’s agents were helped by local police. A raid of offices near New York’s Union Square, where members of the anarchist group had been attending night-school classes in mathematics and auto repair, left the building looking “as if a bomb had exploded in each room,” the New York World reported. “Desks were broken open, doors smashed, furniture overturned and broken, books and literature scattered, the glass doors of a cabinet broken, typewriters had apparently been thrown on the floor and stamped on,” and there were “bloodstains over floor, papers, literature &c.” The Times, although it backed the arrests, acknowledged that “a number of those in the building were badly beaten by the police during the raid, their heads wrapped in bandages.” The raids, which were recorded by newsreel-makers for greater impact, produced the outcome that Hoover and Palmer wanted: foreign-born radicals began filling immigration prisons like the one on Ellis Island. President Wilson, incapacitated by a stroke at the time, never publicly addressed the raids, but just before falling ill he had spoken of the “disciples of Lenin in our own midst,” from whom “poison has got in the veins of this free people.”

The Palmer Raids reached their climax on January 2, 1920, with night sweeps in more than thirty cities and towns. Their professed targets were the two Communist parties, whose combined membership was no more than forty thousand but was ninety per cent immigrant. Many of those arrested had only a tangential connection, if any, to the Communists, including, in Nashua, New Hampshire, a hundred and forty-one Socialists. In nearby Manchester, it was everyone dancing at the Tolstoi Club; in Chicago, all the patrons at the Tolstoy Vegetarian Restaurant; in Lynn, Massachusetts, thirty-nine bakers, a third of them American citizens, in the middle of a meeting to discuss forming a coöperative; in New Jersey, a group of Polish-Americans soliciting money for a funeral; in Philadelphia, the members of the Lithuanian Socialist Chorus, mid-rehearsal. There are no complete records of how many people were seized, but a careful study by the Danish scholar Regin Schmidt estimates the total arrested in the Palmer Raids at ten thousand.

More than five hundred of those arrested were jammed into quarters at Ellis Island, which ran out of cots and bedding. Several inmates died of pneumonia. In Detroit, some eight hundred men and women were held for up to six days in a narrow, windowless corridor of a federal building, with a bare stone floor to sleep on and one toilet and one drinking fountain. They were without food for twenty hours, and then could eat only what their families and friends brought them. In Boston, a hundred and forty prisoners in chains and leg irons were marched through the city’s streets, then locked up in an unheated prison on an island in the harbor. One despairing prisoner committed suicide by jumping from a window.

A. Mitchell Palmer, with one eye on justifying these mass arrests and the other on his Presidential campaign, issued a series of press releases. One was headed “Warns Nation of Red Peril—U.S. Department of Justice Urges Americans to Guard Against Bolshevism Menace.” The department’s press office distributed photographs of prisoners, taken after they had been jailed for days without the chance to shave or wash, captioned “Men Like These Would Rule You.” And Palmer published a magazine article warning that Communism “was eating its way into the homes of the American workman, its sharp tongues of revolutionary heat were licking the altars of the churches, leaping into the belfry of the school bell, crawling into the sacred corners of American homes, seeking to replace marriage vows with libertine laws.” (In fact, a survey by a church organization found that a large majority of the arrested men—eighty per cent of whom had lived in the United States for at least six years—were married.)

The arrests continued, and Palmer promised that deportations by the thousands would follow. New Yorkers would soon find, he told an audience in the city, a “second, third, and fourth” ship like the Buford, “sailing down their beautiful harbor in the near future.” Hoover personally led a raid in New Jersey in February, 1920, and Palmer began predicting that a nationwide Communist uprising would erupt on May Day of that year.

Palmer and Hoover had assumed that they could deport most of those seized in the raids. A high proportion were non-citizens, and a law passed in 1918, during the martial fervor of the First World War and the anti-Bolshevik hysteria, said that any alien who advocated anarchism or violent revolution, or who belonged to an organization that did so, could be expelled. There was, however, one considerable roadblock: although it was Palmer’s Justice Department that had the power to arrest people, deportations were under the authority of the Immigration Bureau, which was part of the Labor Department.

Then something happened that neither Hoover nor Palmer anticipated. Two and a half months after the Buford had sailed, and just as the two men were hoping to deport many more shiploads of newly arrested “undesirables,” the Secretary of Labor went on leave, to tend to an illness in the family; his replacement resigned; and a seventy-year-old man named Louis F. Post became the acting Secretary of Labor.

Post was no typical bureaucrat. His wire-rimmed glasses, Vandyke beard, and thick head of dark hair combined to give him a striking resemblance to the man then commanding Soviet Russia’s Red Army, Leon Trotsky. As far as Palmer and Hoover were concerned, he was just as dangerous.

He was born on a New Jersey farm in 1849 and, though too young to serve in the Civil War, was imbued with abolitionist zeal. As a boy, he talked to the free black handyman who worked for his grandfather and noticed that the man had to eat at a separate table. As a young man, Post spent two years working in the South during Reconstruction and saw how white Southerners foiled all possibility of advancement for the former slaves who hoped for equal rights at last. He served as a court reporter in a series of South Carolina trials in which Ku Klux Klansmen were convicted of murder—only to see President Ulysses S. Grant pardon most of the Klansmen several months later. He returned North, where he became a prosecutor and then a private attorney in New York City. The work left him uninspired, but he acquired a keen sense of the law that he was able to put to extraordinary use decades later.

Journalism, first on the side but eventually full time, became Post’s calling. While running the opinion pages of a lively pro-labor daily, the New York Truth, he supported the campaign that established Labor Day. Along the way, he became a convert to Henry George’s single-tax movement, which advocated a land tax meant to discourage speculators from getting rich by acquiring land and leaving it idle, impoverishing those who could have put it to good use. A friend of George’s, Post in effect became the leader of the single-tax movement after George’s death, in 1897, and toured North America lecturing on the subject. As the editorial writer for the Cleveland Recorder, Post crusaded against industrial monopolies and in favor of workers’ rights. By the turn of the century, he and his wife had started a Chicago-based magazine, The Public, which denounced American colonization of the Philippines, the power of big business, and racial discrimination while supporting women’s rights and unrestricted immigration. Post had been impressed by the promises of reform that helped Woodrow Wilson first get elected President, and, in 1913, when offered a position in the brand-new Department of Labor, he happily accepted.

Post knew, and had published, many of the leading reformers and radicals of the day. Indeed, Emma Goldman had been a dinner guest in his home, and he had managed, in 1917, to prevent her from being deported, although he was powerless to do so two years later, when the laws had been tightened. Being in government did not tame him: as the Assistant Secretary of Labor, he had boldly written to President Wilson suggesting a blanket pardon for jailed draft resisters. As for anarchists, Post knew that some practiced violence, like the man who had bombed Palmer’s home, but he argued that anarchist ranks also included “apostles of peace,” like the followers of Tolstoy, who were “supremely harmless.” It was “perverted,” he wrote, to lump them all together as people to be deported.

Now, in charge of the Department of Labor, Post proved a shrewd investigator and decisive reformer. When he discovered that many of the raids had been made without warrants, or with warrants based on faulty information, he invalidated nearly three thousand of the arrests. He found that prisoners had been questioned without being informed that their answers could be used as evidence against them and without being given access to lawyers. In response, he ruled that any alien subjected to the deportation process was entitled to full constitutional safeguards. Post learned that many people taken in the raids hadn’t known that one of the Communist parties listed them as members; these factions had seceded from the Socialist Party and were intent on claiming as large a membership as possible. He ordered the release of many of those still held in immigration prisons like the one on Ellis Island; he slashed the amount of bail for others. Palmer and Hoover were furious.

Public opinion, however, slowly turned in Post’s favor. Quoting an unnamed commentator, Representative George Huddleston, of Alabama, said that some of the supposedly dangerous “Reds” targeted for expulsion probably didn’t know the difference between bolshevism and rheumatism. A federal judge in Boston ordered a group of immigrants to be released from custody, declaring that “a mob is a mob, whether made up of government officials acting under instructions from the Department of Justice, or of criminals, loafers, and the vicious classes.” Despite the estimated ten thousand arrests made amid the Palmer Raids and the 6,396 deportation cases that Hoover’s Radical Division prepared during this period, Palmer succeeded in deporting fewer than six hundred radical immigrants.

The Attorney General condemned Post’s “habitually tender solicitude for social revolution and perverted sympathy for the criminal anarchists.” Privately, Palmer suggested that Post was “a Bolshevik himself.” Palmer and Hoover sought to discredit Post and get him impeached by Congress. A three-hundred-and-fifty-page file on Post attempted to tarnish him with evidence about everything from contacts with I.W.W. members to his advocacy of divorce reform. The House Rules Committee, supplied with this file, called Post in for ten hours of testimony. But he acquitted himself brilliantly, and the committee could find no grounds for impeachment.

Palmer’s Justice Department continued to issue dire warnings, almost daily, of the nationwide Communist uprising predicted for May Day, 1920. As the date approached, New York City’s police force was put on twenty-four-hour duty; Boston stationed trucks with machine guns at strategic locations. In Chicago, three hundred and sixty local radicals were arrested and put in preventive detention.

May Day came and went. Nothing happened. Yet the silence turned out to be an event in itself. It deflated the national hysteria about arresting and deporting “Reds,” and helped kill Palmer’s campaign for the Presidency. Nor did any of the three Republicans who had thundered about deportation become his party’s choice. The eventual candidate and victor was Warren Harding, a Republican who declared that “too much has been said about bolshevism in America,” and campaigned for a “return to normalcy.” The Republican Party platform that year rebuked the “vigorous malpractice of the Departments of Justice and Labor.”

Owing in part to Post’s courage, normalcy did not include mass deportations on the scale that people like Hoover and Palmer had hoped for. But a larger battle was lost, since pressure for deportations has always been linked to another cause: keeping people out in the first place. In 1924, Congress passed a law that, for the next four decades, slammed the door on all but a tiny trickle of immigrants. It barred Asians from entering the United States and assigned country-by-country quotas, set to reflect the American population as it had been in 1890—when the proportion of Eastern Europeans, Italians, and Jews was small. The law bore the name of its principal author, Representative Albert Johnson, one of the men who, along with Hoover, had seen off the Buford and its cargo of deportees from New York Harbor. It was the Johnson-Reed Act that, years later, would prevent untold numbers of people trying to flee the Holocaust from finding shelter in the United States.

Post did not live to see that shame; he died at the age of seventy-eight, in 1928. But he died proud. He had entered the Wilson Administration expecting to fight for workers’ rights, but ended up fighting a very different battle. When faced with a challenge he had never anticipated, he rose to it magnificently, saving thousands of people from being expelled from the country. Moreover, his example emboldened others to speak out. It was only after Post had spent several months publicly stopping deportations that a group of a dozen distinguished attorneys, law professors, and law-school deans, including the future Supreme Court Justice Felix Frankfurter, issued a report denouncing the Justice Department’s many violations of the Constitution in carrying out the Palmer Raids. The report was accompanied by sixty pages of material, from sworn statements of witnesses to photographs of bruised and beaten prisoners.

The report had a big impact on members of Congress and the press. Few were aware that two of the people who had helped prepare it were close allies of Post, and that Post almost certainly supplied much of the information in it. Post was both a man of high principle and a master of bureaucratic maneuvering—a rare combination. “He struggled without ceasing to preserve our liberties and to enlarge them,” the Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis wrote after Post’s death. “He resisted the clamor of stupid intolerance. He exposed its shameful, ruthless lawlessness.” ♦
Published in the print edition of the November 11, 2019, issue, with the headline “Obstruction of Injustice.”

by Adam Hochschild, who has written nine books, the most recent of which is “Lessons from a Dark Time: And Other Essays.”

Tags: mainstream mediahistoryemma
Categories: News

BBC, “The St Petersburg anarchists cooking up a vegan revolution

Thu, 11/07/2019 - 20:22

from bbc.com, via agency

As Russia enters its 20th year under the authoritarian leadership of Vladimir Putin, St Petersburg's vegan anarchist community thrives. Hated by the far right and out of tune with Russia's prevailing nationalist mood, the activists have created a version of what their ideal society would look like - and they're promoting this vision with delicious food. Could they be changing attitudes among other young Russians?

Once a month, the eight people who work at the Horizontal takeaway hold a meeting in which they air any grievances, discuss updates to the menu, and vote on any changes they may want to make. The front of their restaurant, a hole-in-the-wall that serves vegan burgers, hot dogs and nuggets to go, is covered with stickers promoting anti-fascism, anarchism, and other vegan outlets in the city. Their meal deal offer, something commonly called a "business lunch" in Russia, is called "the anti-business lunch".

Lately, the group has been discussing whether or not to change location - the complex they're currently based in holds shows featuring captive animals, which they believe are cruel and exploitative.

Although some of them have been working there for longer than others, all eight members of the team have an equal say within the business. There are no managers and no hierarchies. Varya, 26, has been at the restaurant the longest.

"That's why we're called Horizontal - because every person who joins our restaurant is on the same level, and has the same rights and an equal position with all of the others," she says. The restaurant adheres to the principles of anti-racism, feminism, LGBTQ+ rights, the abolition of borders, and animal liberation. In a country where people who are gender non-confirming or trans are shunned, and even sometimes attacked, Horizontal is a space where anyone's preferred pronouns will be respected.

The group is planning to compose a manifesto of sorts stating what its values are, to make sure any new starters are on the same page. "For us, it's important that people who join us hold similar ideology, that they share our views, and that they understand what 'veganism' really means to us," Varya says.

Horizontal is one of about a dozen similar spaces across St Petersburg, promoting vegan anarchism - "veganarchism" - by cooking up delicious vegan food.
'You are a microcosm of the world around you'

The term "veganarchist" was coined by the New York-based anarchist Brian Dominick in his 1997 essay, Animal Liberation and Social Revolution. In it, he writes that veganism is inherently intertwined with anti-fascism, human rights activism and anti-capitalism.

The animal slaughter that vegans and vegetarians are consciously opting out of, he says, relies on systematic exploitation of both humans and animals - and that only by fighting all injustices together can a vegan truly fight against any of them.

This fight, he suggests, can be waged through individual actions and radical lifestyle changes.

"The role of the revolutionist is simple," Dominick writes. "Make your life into a miniature model of the alternative, revolutionary society you envision. You are a microcosm of the world around you, and even the most basic among your actions affect the social context of which you are a part. Make those effects positive and radical in their nature."

But although the word "veganarchism" came from the US in the late 20th Century, both anarchism and meat-free diets have a long history in Russia.

The Russian Orthodox church prescribes a plant-based diet during Lent, and most traditional restaurants still offer a plant-based "Lenten menu". Ethical vegetarianism, meanwhile, was thriving in pre-revolutionary Russia - partly because of the example set by the novelist Leo Tolstoy in the late 19th Century.

But for much of the Soviet period vegetarianism fell out of favour, seen as a bourgeois indulgence. The Great Soviet Encyclopaedia went as far as to proclaim that "vegetarianism, which is based on false hypotheses and ideas, does not have followers in the Soviet Union".

Today, only 1% of Russians say they are vegetarian, according to a Vtsiom poll from 2018 - roughly the proportion of British people who are vegan.

As for anarchism, the 19th Century Russian philosophers Mikhail Bakunin and Peter Kropotkin are considered two of the most influential thinkers in anarchist history.

Kropotkin's radical 1892 text, The Conquest of Bread, continues to influence anarchists around the world to this day. In it, he says - among other things - that one of the first steps in any anarchist revolution would be for the people to seize food and the means of producing it.

"We have the temerity to declare that all have a right to bread, that there is bread enough for all, and that with this watchword of 'Bread for All' the revolution will triumph."

Visitors to Llamas vegan grocery shop are greeted with a painting of a cow holding up two middle fingers.

Inside, rainbow-flag tote bags, feminist stickers and vegan condoms are sold alongside plant-based Napoleon cakes and reusable straws. In the freezer, there are varenyky and pel'meni dumplings made by She's Got A Knife, a "feminist horizontalist culinary project". In a back room, there's an unassuming hole-in-the-wall restaurant called Tempeh Time. It's dedicated to serving dishes made with tempeh - pronounced "tem-pay" - a protein made from fermented soya beans.

Llamas was opened last year by Anya, 30, and Igor, 33 - whom Anya describes affectionately as her "husband and best friend". When I speak to them, they're about to celebrate the shop's first anniversary.

Igor tells me that with veganism growing more popular in the city, they wanted to try and emulate similar spaces in cities like Berlin. At the time they hadn't been there, but they knew it was Europe's vegan activist capital.

"People come here for that feeling of Europe, of freedom, to feel for a couple of minutes like they're in Berlin or somewhere," he says. "We're trying to create a space where vegans won't feel ashamed to come with their non-vegan friends, and they can say, 'That's a vegan place - it's not strange, it's not scary.'"

"We didn't just want Llamas to be a shop, but also a cafe and a meeting point for our community," Anya adds. "We also had the idea to open a barbershop nearby, but that's still just an idea."

Opening up their back room to vegan chefs was a big part of building this community space and putting their beliefs into practice, Anya says. The kitchen's first occupant was Danya, a friend of Anya and Igor's, who ran a pizzeria called Daner Pizza. When he moved out into a larger space, Iiuri Shilov, a tempeh maker, moved in. He had a soft launch of his restaurant Tempeh Time in early August, before officially opening on 7 September.
'Food can be its own form of activism'

I order a large bowl of fried rice, tempeh and fresh cucumber for 180 rubles - £2.26. The other options on the menu, including sandwiches and soups, all hover around the 200 ruble mark. Iiuri explains that he wants to keep prices low in order to make vegan food - in particular, tempeh - accessible to as many people as possible.

"My mission is for more and more people to try tempeh," he says, beaming.

Iiuri first ate it two years ago while he and his wife were travelling across south-east Asia for their honeymoon. It was in Indonesia that he ordered a tempeh dish and, he says, it blew his mind. It had a flavour that was both mushroom-like and nutty, with a firm texture a bit like chicken. When fried in oil, with a small sprinkling of sea salt, the flavour was like nothing else he'd ever eaten.

It rapidly became an obsession. Every day, after surfing, he would go back to the same cafe and order exactly the same dish that he had eaten that first time, and that I had coincidentally just ordered for myself: fried rice, tempeh and cucumber.

But when the honeymoon was over and the newlyweds were back home, Iiuri couldn't find his new favourite food anywhere.

"When we came back to Russia, I wanted to eat tempeh. I kept looking around for a tempeh shop, or maybe even a tempeh cafe, but I couldn't find anything," Iiuri says.

So he decided to make it himself.

"I looked online and found an American book on tempeh production. It was old - a man called William Shurtleff had written it in the 1970s - but it was perfect," he says.

"After reading through the book, I ordered the starter [an ingredient for fermenting] all the way from Indonesia, made my own incubator at home, and bought enough soya beans to make about five or six packs of tempeh. At first I just made tempeh for myself and my friends. Then, once I figured out how to make bigger batches, I started selling to places like this," he says, gesturing to the grocery shop, Llamas, in which we are sitting.

Before long he was making about 10kg of tempeh per batch, with a hands-on process that would have him up in the early hours of the morning. "My wife started getting fed up… At this point we had a three-month-old son. Imagine: my baby is crying, my wife is getting annoyed, and I'm there making tempeh at 2am."

Eventually his wife lost patience. "Iiura, go and find a proper kitchen," she told him. This turned out to be great advice, because once he did - it was a room lent to him by a friend of Danya the pizza-maker - he was able to make more tempeh than ever.

Outside Indonesia, tempeh is far less common than other vegan proteins, such as tofu and seitan, a meat substitute made from wheat gluten. Personally, I had never been a fan - but Iiuri's tempeh was delicious, unlike anything I'd ever tried before.

Iiuri tells me he went vegan six years ago, when he was working in the kitchen of a bar. He made himself a fried-egg sandwich, and a colleague asked him, "Iiuri, why do you eat eggs?" before using some choice words about the meat, dairy and egg industries. Intrigued, Iiuri watched an Austrian documentary about veganism.

"It was super-disgusting," he says. "What I saw... it made my soul hurt. I felt so bad about all the time I had spent eating meat and eggs, and drinking milk."

Now, he tries to spread a positive message about veganism through his cooking.

"Food can be its own form of activism," Iiuri tells me. "I have customers who eat meat, but after trying tempeh they enjoy it just as much. Many of my friends have tried tempeh and liked it too - I have one friend who's non-vegetarian, but after eating tempeh he's realised that he doesn't really need meat.

"Now, he has at least one meat-free day a week. This is action."
'It's possible to change the world one person at a time'

While Iiuri provides simple, hearty vegan food at low prices, another young vegan chef, 25-year-old Viktoria Mosina, is applying her vegan beliefs to haute-cuisine at her restaurant, Grun, and making vegan versions of traditional Georgian food at a nearby cafe, Dze Bistro.

When we meet, Viktoria has just been shortlisted for a St Petersburg culinary award - the only woman in the Best Chef category, and the only vegan among the 31 contenders. For Dze Bistro, she devised a menu of plant-based Adzharuli - a type of Georgian bread, usually filled with meat. Viktoria's versions, however, are made with plant-based ingredients - aubergine and pomegranate, for example, which are traditional in Georgian cooking.

As we speak, she shows me two deconstructed versions of traditional Russian soups from the Grun menu - one nettle soup and one svekol'nik, a type of beetroot soup.

"I started to cook when I was 16, and ever since then my focus has been on promoting veganism and making it popular," she says. "After a while I started to realise I could try to change the world through food - and now I've learned to cook food from plants that is so good, people won't have any need for meat."

There were so few vegan eateries in St Petersburg when she first started cooking that there was nowhere for her to learn about the restaurant business. So she started her career in non-vegan kitchens, cooking only their vegan options - although she insisted that they weren't marked as vegan as on the menu.

"In Russia, if a person knows that something is vegan, they'll refuse it on principle because they have stereotypes in their mind," she explains.

When she then told her non-vegan customers what they had just eaten, they would often be surprised to learn that it hadn't been made with meat or dairy.

"At that moment, all those stereotypes would fall away. Because of my efforts and my mainstream popularity, vegans are not seen as grass-eaters or cultists as much as they used to be," she says.

Viktoria's focus is on using fresh, seasonal plant ingredients that she either grows in a wall-mounted allotment attached to the restaurant, or that she picks herself in the wild. Once a week she goes to the forest with her kitchen team, sees which plants she can find, and researches them in botanical textbooks to figure out the best way to cook with them. When she returns to the city she spends about a day or two developing new recipes, and by the following week they are on the menu.

"It's possible to change the world one person at a time. That's the form my activism takes - to change individuals," she says.

Sonia, 26, feels the same way. She runs a cake business called Run Rabbit Run, which she founded just over three years ago with another vegan baker called Slava, 31. After a while they parted ways amicably, and he opened his own cafe.

As well as running the bakery, Sonia is also making a name for herself as a feminist YouTuber, vlogging with friends on a channel called Feministki Poyasnyayut - "Feminists Explain" - in which they clarify "things about feminism for ordinary people". She has also collaborated in cooking tutorials with the popular vegan YouTuber, Mikhail Vegan.

The best way to get a message across, she says, is to "lead by example" - something she tries to do with Run Rabbit Run. "If you're an ethical vegan and you're healthy, you're OK and you're not dying - you're just as normal as anyone else but you're vegan - in my experience that really is the best form of activism!"

Sonia shows me a few of her cakes, and explains why customers won't find unrefined sugar or superfoods in her recipes.

"Some people think being vegan is somehow automatically healthier," she says. "I don't think so. I think it can be really healthy if you want it to be, but I don't think cakes should be healthy. I think they are something you should indulge in and enjoy. They are sugary, they're fatty, they have a lot of carbohydrates - they're not healthy at all."

Meanwhile, the cafe started earlier this year by Slava, Sonia's former business partner, is thriving too. He tells me he's inspired by Scandinavian culture, which is why he decided to name it Fika, the Swedish word for their afternoon tea.

"I really liked the concept of a salad bar, deli and bakery with a cafe - I've seen similar things in Scandinavia and Finland," he says. He used to have a cafe near the Fontanka river, but it was small space, and the food was so popular that there were almost always long queues. In his new location - which is less central, but more spacious - it is much easier to get served.

When St Petersburg's vegans say their philosophy is about more than food, it's not just empty words.

A week before I met them, Anya and Igor from Llamas had taken part in an annual festival in the city called Znak Ravenstva - meaning Equal Sign. It promotes not only veganism, but also feminism, anti-racism, LGBTQ+ rights and environmentalism, and tries to show how all of these movements are connected - as Brian Dominick himself believed.

As well as food stalls, there are lectures, workshops on blogging and zero-waste living, and bands performing live.

One of the festival's six co-organisers, Kostya, 24, tells me that Znak Ravenstva is now in its second year. Its predecessor, Vegan Fest, which focused more exclusively on veganism, ran for four years before the organisers decided to widen the scope.

"We're trying to say that everything is connected, and if you're vegan you have to also support all other movements for equality - so feminists, for example, are coming and learning about veganism, and vice-versa," Kostya says. But making this change hasn't been easy.

"Unfortunately, when we started including feminism and LGBT rights, the number of participants went down - because of prejudice." He named a couple of restaurants that had pulled out of the festival because some staff members didn't want to openly support these causes.

But the festival's popularity is growing nonetheless, he says. This year they had about 5,000 visitors.

For Anya and Igor, events like Znak Ravenstva are vital both for helping to broaden their community, and for promoting equal rights in the city more widely.

"These four days of the festival felt even better than our last New Year holiday, because of the atmosphere, the feeling of freedom, the kindness, the tolerance… it was like a vision of our ideal Russia," Anya says. "It is very hard for us as vegans to be open, but here we could come and see different projects, meet new people and make friends."

Igor agrees, and adds that because vegans don't get much support from outside the community, spaces where they can be themselves are really important.

"The fact that this festival even happens, it's quite strange in itself," he says. "This vegan festival, promoting tolerance and equality, is against the main ideology of our society."

On the other hand, St Petersburg has a long-established tradition of activism. This goes back to the Soviet era, and it's why Kostya says this may be the best city in Russia to be vegan - and to be an activist generally. It's also why he moved to St Petersburg from his hometown in Russia's far north.

There's a feminist cafe called Simona, for example (named after Simone de Beauvoir) which made headlines in March when a group of pro-Kremlin men barged in armed with flowers for Women's Day. A confrontation ensued and one of the intruders ended up being pepper-sprayed.

Elsewhere, there is a community centre called Open Space for activists to use, free of charge - a simple concept, but a rarity in many cities globally.

Open Space's co-founder, Ilya, tells me that it is home to the city's only feminist library which, when I visit, is decorated with feminist anti-fascist posters and flyers calling for the release of political prisoners. It also regularly hosts events for independent electoral observers - a risky vocation in Russia - and marginalised groups, including the LGBT community, "because it's unsafe to be openly gay here". In total, he says, more than 80 independent activist groups have organised events at the space.

But if Znak Ravenstva and Open Space are microcosms of the ideal Russia for the vegan anarchist community, the real Russia is sometimes very different. It's possible to be prosecuted for the type of activism that many of them support and sometimes engage in.

Numerous Russian pride parades and LGBT youth groups have been shut down under the country's "gay propaganda" law, which bans the positive depiction of same-sex relationships in any media that can be consumed by children - including the internet. Recently, the authorities shut down two LGBT community groups on Russian-language social media. And while a growing number of young Russians seem ready to take to the streets to protest against the actions of local officials - against the exclusion of candidates in local elections, for example, against the destruction of a park, or the creation of a toxic dump close to a river - they may pay for it with arrest.

But there is one case in particular that has hit home for the veganarchists in St Petersburg.

In early November 2017, an anti-fascist vegan cafe owner called Arman Sagynbaev was arrested at his home in St Petersburg and charged with terrorism offences. He was one of about 10 activists from St Petersburg and the city of Penza, far away in the Volga region, accused by the authorities of being part of an "anarchist terrorist group" called "the network". Investigators accused them of trying to promote, through talks and meetings, "further destabilisation of the political climate in the country" during the presidential elections and the 2018 World Cup. The vegans I spoke to believe Sagynbaev is no terrorist, and that he was targeted because he was anti-fascist.

Sagynbaev initially confessed to the charges against him, but withdrew this confession in September last year, alleging - in a lengthy and detailed statement - that the FSB had extracted it by means of torture.

Two of his co-defendants have lodged complaints of torture with the European Court of Human Rights. Sagynbaev remains in custody, awaiting trial.

Sagynbaev's arrest, Igor says, felt like a warning to the rest of the community.

"The political situation in Russia prohibits us from being free as vegan activists," he says. "In Europe it's easier to be openly vegan and support equal rights, but Russian politics is the politics of xenophobia, of the absence of free speech."

When I ask Iiuri about politics, the smile quickly drains from his face.

"The political situation in Russia is worse than disgusting," he says. "I hate our president, I hate our government. Policemen beat our guys, they break their legs."

Iiuri is referring to a graphic designer in recent pro-democracy demonstrations in Moscow, who had his leg broken by officers at a time when he wasn't even protesting, just jogging past City Hall.

"Last year, my wife and I went to a protest. She was pregnant - and the police came up to us and threatened to beat her," Iiuri continues, looking visibly shaken at the memory. He tells me that he and his wife are even thinking about moving to another country, such as Canada. "I'm 31, and I've lived almost my entire life under the Putin regime. I don't want to live here any more."
'We have a problem'

But it's not just the authorities the vegan community worries about.

Several of the people I speak to describe confrontations with far-right groups. These range from neo-Nazis sticking far-right stickers on their doors, to being violently attacked - including beatings and stabbings.

In October 2017, a group of young, far-right activists went to a now-closed vegan anarchist restaurant called Animals and shot flares through the glass of the windows. Some staff were seriously injured.

Animals was run by the same group behind Horizontal, and was located just a few feet away. Like Horizontal it was an openly anarchist restaurant and a known meeting space for activists, says Horizontal worker Varya.

"It was the fash," she tells me, using a slang word for neo-fascists.

"We are politically active and we support different activist groups, we cover our walls with stickers, so they knew to target us. We all understand who was behind it, but no-one was fined or arrested."

Kostya tells me that he first became consciously anti-fascist at the age of 15, growing up in a village in the far-northern Yamalo Nenets district. It was a multicultural area - including members of the indigenous Nenets ethnic group - but there was also a strong far-right, Russian nationalist movement. This disturbed Kostya, who believed that everyone was equal.

Even earlier, when Kostya was 10, he had been shocked by the murder of a 20-year-old rock musician and anti-racist activist, Timur Kacharava, who was stabbed to death by neo-Nazis outside a bookshop in St Petersburg. It stuck in his mind.

"We have a problem," he says. "Unfortunately there has been no change in Russia for I don't know how long. A big part of the problem is our mass media, and the messages the government transmits through it. They say that the world is against us, they are homophobic and say that Europe is 'gay', for example." He says many young people now ignore TV, and get their news online. Pollsters have noticed this trend, too - one recent poll found almost half of Russians aged 18-to-24 get their news from the largely uncensored internet.

After a moment of pause, Kostya adds: "I don't think Russians are bad people. They're just not educated, and are taught that the rest of the world is against us. From this fear grows a hatred of all difference."

So what does the future look like?

Despite everything St Petersburg's vegan anarchists come up against, they remain hopeful about the years to come.

"I want an equal society, I'd like people to respect animals, to respect each other and to respect the planet - and I would like to see a border-free world, with no borders between the countries," Varya says.

For many, a world without borders would be as unthinkable as a world without meat or cheese. But Varya is undaunted.

"I understand that, in reality, this will only be possible in several generations. But I just hope that we will bring up one generation, then another generation, and then another generation - then our descendants will finally be able to live in a much better society."

Igor and Anya agree.

"Russia has had a very difficult history," Igor says. "But it's all about the mentality of the people - about whether we see the inertia of a generation, or the conscience of a generation. So if we at least manage to build a liberal state, in 10 years or so, we can have another country."
Image caption Kostya hopes that, eventually, society will change for the better

Kostya adds that veganism in St Petersburg is growing so rapidly, there was even an animal rights section at the city's May Day parade this year.

"We had more people than United Russia," he laughs, referring to President Putin's political party.

"The ideal Russia, and the ideal world, for me would see us living in harmony and equality, living alongside people where we are all different but we are all equal. Where there's direct democracy - where the people vote for or against policies directly through referendums, rather than through representative governments. And of course where we're all environmentally aware," he says.

"A world with no state, no police, no borders, no nations - where people can decide for themselves what they want and what they want to achieve."As Russia enters its 20th year under the authoritarian leadership of Vladimir Putin, St Petersburg's vegan anarchist community thrives. Hated by the far right and out of tune with Russia's prevailing nationalist mood, the activists have created a version of what their ideal society would look like - and they're promoting this vision with delicious food. Could they be changing attitudes among other young Russians?

Once a month, the eight people who work at the Horizontal takeaway hold a meeting in which they air any grievances, discuss updates to the menu, and vote on any changes they may want to make. The front of their restaurant, a hole-in-the-wall that serves vegan burgers, hot dogs and nuggets to go, is covered with stickers promoting anti-fascism, anarchism, and other vegan outlets in the city. Their meal deal offer, something commonly called a "business lunch" in Russia, is called "the anti-business lunch".

Lately, the group has been discussing whether or not to change location - the complex they're currently based in holds shows featuring captive animals, which they believe are cruel and exploitative.

Although some of them have been working there for longer than others, all eight members of the team have an equal say within the business. There are no managers and no hierarchies. Varya, 26, has been at the restaurant the longest.
Image caption Varya, from Horizontal, says the restaurant is based on social justice and equality

"That's why we're called Horizontal - because every person who joins our restaurant is on the same level, and has the same rights and an equal position with all of the others," she says. The restaurant adheres to the principles of anti-racism, feminism, LGBTQ+ rights, the abolition of borders, and animal liberation. In a country where people who are gender non-confirming or trans are shunned, and even sometimes attacked, Horizontal is a space where anyone's preferred pronouns will be respected.

The group is planning to compose a manifesto of sorts stating what its values are, to make sure any new starters are on the same page. "For us, it's important that people who join us hold similar ideology, that they share our views, and that they understand what 'veganism' really means to us," Varya says.

Horizontal is one of about a dozen similar spaces across St Petersburg, promoting vegan anarchism - "veganarchism" - by cooking up delicious vegan food.
'You are a microcosm of the world around you'

The term "veganarchist" was coined by the New York-based anarchist Brian Dominick in his 1997 essay, Animal Liberation and Social Revolution. In it, he writes that veganism is inherently intertwined with anti-fascism, human rights activism and anti-capitalism.

The animal slaughter that vegans and vegetarians are consciously opting out of, he says, relies on systematic exploitation of both humans and animals - and that only by fighting all injustices together can a vegan truly fight against any of them.

This fight, he suggests, can be waged through individual actions and radical lifestyle changes.

"The role of the revolutionist is simple," Dominick writes. "Make your life into a miniature model of the alternative, revolutionary society you envision. You are a microcosm of the world around you, and even the most basic among your actions affect the social context of which you are a part. Make those effects positive and radical in their nature."
Image caption Horizontal's "chick-un" nuggets are made of a mix of tofu and seitan

But although the word "veganarchism" came from the US in the late 20th Century, both anarchism and meat-free diets have a long history in Russia.

The Russian Orthodox church prescribes a plant-based diet during Lent, and most traditional restaurants still offer a plant-based "Lenten menu". Ethical vegetarianism, meanwhile, was thriving in pre-revolutionary Russia - partly because of the example set by the novelist Leo Tolstoy in the late 19th Century.

But for much of the Soviet period vegetarianism fell out of favour, seen as a bourgeois indulgence. The Great Soviet Encyclopaedia went as far as to proclaim that "vegetarianism, which is based on false hypotheses and ideas, does not have followers in the Soviet Union".

Today, only 1% of Russians say they are vegetarian, according to a Vtsiom poll from 2018 - roughly the proportion of British people who are vegan.

As for anarchism, the 19th Century Russian philosophers Mikhail Bakunin and Peter Kropotkin are considered two of the most influential thinkers in anarchist history.

Kropotkin's radical 1892 text, The Conquest of Bread, continues to influence anarchists around the world to this day. In it, he says - among other things - that one of the first steps in any anarchist revolution would be for the people to seize food and the means of producing it.

"We have the temerity to declare that all have a right to bread, that there is bread enough for all, and that with this watchword of 'Bread for All' the revolution will triumph."

Visitors to Llamas vegan grocery shop are greeted with a painting of a cow holding up two middle fingers.

Inside, rainbow-flag tote bags, feminist stickers and vegan condoms are sold alongside plant-based Napoleon cakes and reusable straws. In the freezer, there are varenyky and pel'meni dumplings made by She's Got A Knife, a "feminist horizontalist culinary project". In a back room, there's an unassuming hole-in-the-wall restaurant called Tempeh Time. It's dedicated to serving dishes made with tempeh - pronounced "tem-pay" - a protein made from fermented soya beans.
Image caption The tongue-in-cheek artwork is one of the first things visitors see

Llamas was opened last year by Anya, 30, and Igor, 33 - whom Anya describes affectionately as her "husband and best friend". When I speak to them, they're about to celebrate the shop's first anniversary.

Igor tells me that with veganism growing more popular in the city, they wanted to try and emulate similar spaces in cities like Berlin. At the time they hadn't been there, but they knew it was Europe's vegan activist capital.

"People come here for that feeling of Europe, of freedom, to feel for a couple of minutes like they're in Berlin or somewhere," he says. "We're trying to create a space where vegans won't feel ashamed to come with their non-vegan friends, and they can say, 'That's a vegan place - it's not strange, it's not scary.'"

"We didn't just want Llamas to be a shop, but also a cafe and a meeting point for our community," Anya adds. "We also had the idea to open a barbershop nearby, but that's still just an idea."
Image caption Anya, front-left, and Igor just behind her, are joined at the shop by Iiuri, front-right, and the kitchen's previous resident Danya, behind him

Opening up their back room to vegan chefs was a big part of building this community space and putting their beliefs into practice, Anya says. The kitchen's first occupant was Danya, a friend of Anya and Igor's, who ran a pizzeria called Daner Pizza. When he moved out into a larger space, Iiuri Shilov, a tempeh maker, moved in. He had a soft launch of his restaurant Tempeh Time in early August, before officially opening on 7 September.
'Food can be its own form of activism'

I order a large bowl of fried rice, tempeh and fresh cucumber for 180 rubles - £2.26. The other options on the menu, including sandwiches and soups, all hover around the 200 ruble mark. Iiuri explains that he wants to keep prices low in order to make vegan food - in particular, tempeh - accessible to as many people as possible.

"My mission is for more and more people to try tempeh," he says, beaming.

Iiuri first ate it two years ago while he and his wife were travelling across south-east Asia for their honeymoon. It was in Indonesia that he ordered a tempeh dish and, he says, it blew his mind. It had a flavour that was both mushroom-like and nutty, with a firm texture a bit like chicken. When fried in oil, with a small sprinkling of sea salt, the flavour was like nothing else he'd ever eaten.

It rapidly became an obsession. Every day, after surfing, he would go back to the same cafe and order exactly the same dish that he had eaten that first time, and that I had coincidentally just ordered for myself: fried rice, tempeh and cucumber.
Image caption Iiuri first discovered tempeh while on his honeymoon in Indonesia

But when the honeymoon was over and the newlyweds were back home, Iiuri couldn't find his new favourite food anywhere.

"When we came back to Russia, I wanted to eat tempeh. I kept looking around for a tempeh shop, or maybe even a tempeh cafe, but I couldn't find anything," Iiuri says.

So he decided to make it himself.

"I looked online and found an American book on tempeh production. It was old - a man called William Shurtleff had written it in the 1970s - but it was perfect," he says.

"After reading through the book, I ordered the starter [an ingredient for fermenting] all the way from Indonesia, made my own incubator at home, and bought enough soya beans to make about five or six packs of tempeh. At first I just made tempeh for myself and my friends. Then, once I figured out how to make bigger batches, I started selling to places like this," he says, gesturing to the grocery shop, Llamas, in which we are sitting.
Image caption He cooks me the same dish he had while he was in Indonesia - fried rice, tempeh, and slices of fresh cucumber

Before long he was making about 10kg of tempeh per batch, with a hands-on process that would have him up in the early hours of the morning. "My wife started getting fed up… At this point we had a three-month-old son. Imagine: my baby is crying, my wife is getting annoyed, and I'm there making tempeh at 2am."

Eventually his wife lost patience. "Iiura, go and find a proper kitchen," she told him. This turned out to be great advice, because once he did - it was a room lent to him by a friend of Danya the pizza-maker - he was able to make more tempeh than ever.

Outside Indonesia, tempeh is far less common than other vegan proteins, such as tofu and seitan, a meat substitute made from wheat gluten. Personally, I had never been a fan - but Iiuri's tempeh was delicious, unlike anything I'd ever tried before.
Image caption He doesn't add any special sauces to the tempeh, he just fries it with oil and a bit of salt...
Image caption Before serving it with rice and cucumber, garnished with spring onions

Iiuri tells me he went vegan six years ago, when he was working in the kitchen of a bar. He made himself a fried-egg sandwich, and a colleague asked him, "Iiuri, why do you eat eggs?" before using some choice words about the meat, dairy and egg industries. Intrigued, Iiuri watched an Austrian documentary about veganism.

"It was super-disgusting," he says. "What I saw... it made my soul hurt. I felt so bad about all the time I had spent eating meat and eggs, and drinking milk."

Now, he tries to spread a positive message about veganism through his cooking.

"Food can be its own form of activism," Iiuri tells me. "I have customers who eat meat, but after trying tempeh they enjoy it just as much. Many of my friends have tried tempeh and liked it too - I have one friend who's non-vegetarian, but after eating tempeh he's realised that he doesn't really need meat.

"Now, he has at least one meat-free day a week. This is action."
'It's possible to change the world one person at a time'

While Iiuri provides simple, hearty vegan food at low prices, another young vegan chef, 25-year-old Viktoria Mosina, is applying her vegan beliefs to haute-cuisine at her restaurant, Grun, and making vegan versions of traditional Georgian food at a nearby cafe, Dze Bistro.

When we meet, Viktoria has just been shortlisted for a St Petersburg culinary award - the only woman in the Best Chef category, and the only vegan among the 31 contenders. For Dze Bistro, she devised a menu of plant-based Adzharuli - a type of Georgian bread, usually filled with meat. Viktoria's versions, however, are made with plant-based ingredients - aubergine and pomegranate, for example, which are traditional in Georgian cooking.
Image caption A pomegranate and aubergine adzharuli from Dze Bistro, which serves vegan Georgian food
Image caption As well as going into the forest, Viktoria grows her own herbs and vegetables in an allotment attached to the side of the restaurant

As we speak, she shows me two deconstructed versions of traditional Russian soups from the Grun menu - one nettle soup and one svekol'nik, a type of beetroot soup.

"I started to cook when I was 16, and ever since then my focus has been on promoting veganism and making it popular," she says. "After a while I started to realise I could try to change the world through food - and now I've learned to cook food from plants that is so good, people won't have any need for meat."

There were so few vegan eateries in St Petersburg when she first started cooking that there was nowhere for her to learn about the restaurant business. So she started her career in non-vegan kitchens, cooking only their vegan options - although she insisted that they weren't marked as vegan as on the menu.
Image caption Viktoria and her colleague pour vegan svekol'nik, left, and nettle soup, right, into bowls

"In Russia, if a person knows that something is vegan, they'll refuse it on principle because they have stereotypes in their mind," she explains.

When she then told her non-vegan customers what they had just eaten, they would often be surprised to learn that it hadn't been made with meat or dairy.

"At that moment, all those stereotypes would fall away. Because of my efforts and my mainstream popularity, vegans are not seen as grass-eaters or cultists as much as they used to be," she says.

Viktoria's focus is on using fresh, seasonal plant ingredients that she either grows in a wall-mounted allotment attached to the restaurant, or that she picks herself in the wild. Once a week she goes to the forest with her kitchen team, sees which plants she can find, and researches them in botanical textbooks to figure out the best way to cook with them. When she returns to the city she spends about a day or two developing new recipes, and by the following week they are on the menu.

"It's possible to change the world one person at a time. That's the form my activism takes - to change individuals," she says.
Image caption Viktoria focuses on fresh, wild ingredients at Grun, which opened this February

Sonia, 26, feels the same way. She runs a cake business called Run Rabbit Run, which she founded just over three years ago with another vegan baker called Slava, 31. After a while they parted ways amicably, and he opened his own cafe.

As well as running the bakery, Sonia is also making a name for herself as a feminist YouTuber, vlogging with friends on a channel called Feministki Poyasnyayut - "Feminists Explain" - in which they clarify "things about feminism for ordinary people". She has also collaborated in cooking tutorials with the popular vegan YouTuber, Mikhail Vegan.

The best way to get a message across, she says, is to "lead by example" - something she tries to do with Run Rabbit Run. "If you're an ethical vegan and you're healthy, you're OK and you're not dying - you're just as normal as anyone else but you're vegan - in my experience that really is the best form of activism!"
Image caption Sonia is one half of a feminist YouTube duo, called "Feminists Explain"
Image caption The cakes at Run Rabbit Run, she says, are supposed to be a delicious indulgence

Sonia shows me a few of her cakes, and explains why customers won't find unrefined sugar or superfoods in her recipes.

"Some people think being vegan is somehow automatically healthier," she says. "I don't think so. I think it can be really healthy if you want it to be, but I don't think cakes should be healthy. I think they are something you should indulge in and enjoy. They are sugary, they're fatty, they have a lot of carbohydrates - they're not healthy at all."

Meanwhile, the cafe started earlier this year by Slava, Sonia's former business partner, is thriving too. He tells me he's inspired by Scandinavian culture, which is why he decided to name it Fika, the Swedish word for their afternoon tea.
Image caption Slava, holding a matcha-flavoured ice cream, was inspired by Scandinavian culture when he opened Fika
Image caption Before we talk, he brings out a cherry pie and a matcha latte

"I really liked the concept of a salad bar, deli and bakery with a cafe - I've seen similar things in Scandinavia and Finland," he says. He used to have a cafe near the Fontanka river, but it was small space, and the food was so popular that there were almost always long queues. In his new location - which is less central, but more spacious - it is much easier to get served.

When St Petersburg's vegans say their philosophy is about more than food, it's not just empty words.

A week before I met them, Anya and Igor from Llamas had taken part in an annual festival in the city called Znak Ravenstva - meaning Equal Sign. It promotes not only veganism, but also feminism, anti-racism, LGBTQ+ rights and environmentalism, and tries to show how all of these movements are connected - as Brian Dominick himself believed.

As well as food stalls, there are lectures, workshops on blogging and zero-waste living, and bands performing live.

One of the festival's six co-organisers, Kostya, 24, tells me that Znak Ravenstva is now in its second year. Its predecessor, Vegan Fest, which focused more exclusively on veganism, ran for four years before the organisers decided to widen the scope.

"We're trying to say that everything is connected, and if you're vegan you have to also support all other movements for equality - so feminists, for example, are coming and learning about veganism, and vice-versa," Kostya says. But making this change hasn't been easy.
Image caption Kostya is one of six co-organisers of Znak Ravenstva - "Equal Sign"

"Unfortunately, when we started including feminism and LGBT rights, the number of participants went down - because of prejudice." He named a couple of restaurants that had pulled out of the festival because some staff members didn't want to openly support these causes.

But the festival's popularity is growing nonetheless, he says. This year they had about 5,000 visitors.

For Anya and Igor, events like Znak Ravenstva are vital both for helping to broaden their community, and for promoting equal rights in the city more widely.

"These four days of the festival felt even better than our last New Year holiday, because of the atmosphere, the feeling of freedom, the kindness, the tolerance… it was like a vision of our ideal Russia," Anya says. "It is very hard for us as vegans to be open, but here we could come and see different projects, meet new people and make friends."

Igor agrees, and adds that because vegans don't get much support from outside the community, spaces where they can be themselves are really important.

"The fact that this festival even happens, it's quite strange in itself," he says. "This vegan festival, promoting tolerance and equality, is against the main ideology of our society."
Image caption Anya, pictured with friends at Llamas, and her husband Igor say spaces like Znak Ravenstva are vital for their community

On the other hand, St Petersburg has a long-established tradition of activism. This goes back to the Soviet era, and it's why Kostya says this may be the best city in Russia to be vegan - and to be an activist generally. It's also why he moved to St Petersburg from his hometown in Russia's far north.

There's a feminist cafe called Simona, for example (named after Simone de Beauvoir) which made headlines in March when a group of pro-Kremlin men barged in armed with flowers for Women's Day. A confrontation ensued and one of the intruders ended up being pepper-sprayed.

Elsewhere, there is a community centre called Open Space for activists to use, free of charge - a simple concept, but a rarity in many cities globally.

Open Space's co-founder, Ilya, tells me that it is home to the city's only feminist library which, when I visit, is decorated with feminist anti-fascist posters and flyers calling for the release of political prisoners. It also regularly hosts events for independent electoral observers - a risky vocation in Russia - and marginalised groups, including the LGBT community, "because it's unsafe to be openly gay here". In total, he says, more than 80 independent activist groups have organised events at the space.

But if Znak Ravenstva and Open Space are microcosms of the ideal Russia for the vegan anarchist community, the real Russia is sometimes very different. It's possible to be prosecuted for the type of activism that many of them support and sometimes engage in.

Numerous Russian pride parades and LGBT youth groups have been shut down under the country's "gay propaganda" law, which bans the positive depiction of same-sex relationships in any media that can be consumed by children - including the internet. Recently, the authorities shut down two LGBT community groups on Russian-language social media. And while a growing number of young Russians seem ready to take to the streets to protest against the actions of local officials - against the exclusion of candidates in local elections, for example, against the destruction of a park, or the creation of a toxic dump close to a river - they may pay for it with arrest.

But there is one case in particular that has hit home for the veganarchists in St Petersburg.

In early November 2017, an anti-fascist vegan cafe owner called Arman Sagynbaev was arrested at his home in St Petersburg and charged with terrorism offences. He was one of about 10 activists from St Petersburg and the city of Penza, far away in the Volga region, accused by the authorities of being part of an "anarchist terrorist group" called "the network". Investigators accused them of trying to promote, through talks and meetings, "further destabilisation of the political climate in the country" during the presidential elections and the 2018 World Cup. The vegans I spoke to believe Sagynbaev is no terrorist, and that he was targeted because he was anti-fascist.

Sagynbaev initially confessed to the charges against him, but withdrew this confession in September last year, alleging - in a lengthy and detailed statement - that the FSB had extracted it by means of torture.

Two of his co-defendants have lodged complaints of torture with the European Court of Human Rights. Sagynbaev remains in custody, awaiting trial.

Sagynbaev's arrest, Igor says, felt like a warning to the rest of the community.

"The political situation in Russia prohibits us from being free as vegan activists," he says. "In Europe it's easier to be openly vegan and support equal rights, but Russian politics is the politics of xenophobia, of the absence of free speech."
Image caption Iiuri says Russia's political situation makes him want to leave the country

When I ask Iiuri about politics, the smile quickly drains from his face.

"The political situation in Russia is worse than disgusting," he says. "I hate our president, I hate our government. Policemen beat our guys, they break their legs."

Iiuri is referring to a graphic designer in recent pro-democracy demonstrations in Moscow, who had his leg broken by officers at a time when he wasn't even protesting, just jogging past City Hall.

"Last year, my wife and I went to a protest. She was pregnant - and the police came up to us and threatened to beat her," Iiuri continues, looking visibly shaken at the memory. He tells me that he and his wife are even thinking about moving to another country, such as Canada. "I'm 31, and I've lived almost my entire life under the Putin regime. I don't want to live here any more."
'We have a problem'

But it's not just the authorities the vegan community worries about.

Several of the people I speak to describe confrontations with far-right groups. These range from neo-Nazis sticking far-right stickers on their doors, to being violently attacked - including beatings and stabbings.

In October 2017, a group of young, far-right activists went to a now-closed vegan anarchist restaurant called Animals and shot flares through the glass of the windows. Some staff were seriously injured.
Image caption Animals, not pictured, was attacked by a far-right gang in 2017

Animals was run by the same group behind Horizontal, and was located just a few feet away. Like Horizontal it was an openly anarchist restaurant and a known meeting space for activists, says Horizontal worker Varya.

"It was the fash," she tells me, using a slang word for neo-fascists.

"We are politically active and we support different activist groups, we cover our walls with stickers, so they knew to target us. We all understand who was behind it, but no-one was fined or arrested."

Kostya tells me that he first became consciously anti-fascist at the age of 15, growing up in a village in the far-northern Yamalo Nenets district. It was a multicultural area - including members of the indigenous Nenets ethnic group - but there was also a strong far-right, Russian nationalist movement. This disturbed Kostya, who believed that everyone was equal.

Even earlier, when Kostya was 10, he had been shocked by the murder of a 20-year-old rock musician and anti-racist activist, Timur Kacharava, who was stabbed to death by neo-Nazis outside a bookshop in St Petersburg. It stuck in his mind.

"We have a problem," he says. "Unfortunately there has been no change in Russia for I don't know how long. A big part of the problem is our mass media, and the messages the government transmits through it. They say that the world is against us, they are homophobic and say that Europe is 'gay', for example." He says many young people now ignore TV, and get their news online. Pollsters have noticed this trend, too - one recent poll found almost half of Russians aged 18-to-24 get their news from the largely uncensored internet.

After a moment of pause, Kostya adds: "I don't think Russians are bad people. They're just not educated, and are taught that the rest of the world is against us. From this fear grows a hatred of all difference."

So what does the future look like?

Despite everything St Petersburg's vegan anarchists come up against, they remain hopeful about the years to come.

"I want an equal society, I'd like people to respect animals, to respect each other and to respect the planet - and I would like to see a border-free world, with no borders between the countries," Varya says.

For many, a world without borders would be as unthinkable as a world without meat or cheese. But Varya is undaunted.

"I understand that, in reality, this will only be possible in several generations. But I just hope that we will bring up one generation, then another generation, and then another generation - then our descendants will finally be able to live in a much better society."

Igor and Anya agree.

"Russia has had a very difficult history," Igor says. "But it's all about the mentality of the people - about whether we see the inertia of a generation, or the conscience of a generation. So if we at least manage to build a liberal state, in 10 years or so, we can have another country."
Image caption Kostya hopes that, eventually, society will change for the better

Kostya adds that veganism in St Petersburg is growing so rapidly, there was even an animal rights section at the city's May Day parade this year.

"We had more people than United Russia," he laughs, referring to President Putin's political party.

"The ideal Russia, and the ideal world, for me would see us living in harmony and equality, living alongside people where we are all different but we are all equal. Where there's direct democracy - where the people vote for or against policies directly through referendums, rather than through representative governments. And of course where we're all environmentally aware," he says.

"A world with no state, no police, no borders, no nations - where people can decide for themselves what they want and what they want to achieve."

Categories: News

Militia Destroy the Ali Kuşçu Center in Ankara & a Luxury Yacht in Istanbul

Thu, 11/07/2019 - 20:17

from anarchists worldwide

HBDH (Peoples’ United Revolutionary Movement) have issued a written statement claiming responsibility for the destruction of the Ali Kuşçu Center in Ankara and the luxury yacht Şehrazat that was docked on the shore of Bebek in Istanbul. Both actions took place on November 3rd and resulted in spectacular fires that could be seen for miles.

Some excerpts from the HBDH statement:

“Whoever speaks of humanity, comradeship and children today should turn to Rojava first. Let them face the screams of the children bombed with chemical phosphorous bombs. The occupation of Rojava is the mirror image of colonialism and fascism. It is Erdogan in the mirror.”

“In the heart of Ankara, the fire of our united struggle is approaching the palace. Our call to all the poor working classes, the young people and the women is to target the bosses who steal from you. It is well known that new members are added to our forces daily. HBDH militias are growing like avalanches. Whoever wants to be a spark against fascism should join our ranks and target the invading, exploitative parasites. HBDH are paving the way, lighting the fire.”

Tags: action
Categories: News

In praise of insurrection

Wed, 11/06/2019 - 02:50

Je me révolte donc nous sommes.

Albert Camus, L’homme revolté

From the outside it may seem unimportant, but being there, and not giving up your own discourse, is vital. And I have been able to verify it personally. From the smallest to the largest, at any time you can delve into a conflict, radicalise a situation, show efficacy or experience. Your behavior speaks more about your political and social proposal than any discourse. When a group of protesters sit down and begin to sing the “som gent de pau” again, it is important that a discordant presence remind them that sitting invites the police to charge them and it leaves an area of the body as sensitive as the head exposed. When the chauvinistic and machista chants break through, it is necessary to break this dynamic and introduce anti-capitalist or libertarian slogans that serve as a counterweight. When a group of young people run shirtless and face-to-face fleeing from the sirens, it is difficult for them not to forget the anarchist militant who gave them an on-site tutorial on how to completely cover their face and head with the shirts that hung from their waists. When the spirits are inflamed after singing Els segadors, it is worth remembering to those around you that the lyrics of that hymn were composed by an old anarchist named Emili Guayavents (1899) and that is where the “com fem caure espigues d’or/quam convé seguem cadenes” comes from, … When a fascist ambushes to burst a demonstration, it can mean a change of perspective among those present that an anarchist is the first to detect the play and expel the “agent provocateur.” All this, although it hardly means anything more than a tiny drop in the current, is important to feed the channel and push it out of the calm waters.

I repeat: we are not facing a revolution, nor are we facing a perfect struggle. None is, none will be. The doomsayers who in each revolt or social mobilisation denounce that “it will not last”, that “it will fail” or that “it is not an integral revolution”, they are always and will always be right. They are now with regard to the riots in Catalonia, they were recently in relation to 15-M, they were a long time ago when they talked about May 68, but they also would have if they had been alive on July 19, 1936 and had been able to walk the streets of Barcelona. All revolutions and revolutions of revolutions that have occurred, throughout the history of humankind, have either failed or have been betrayed, and many of them have been partial enough for the term revolution to remain, perhaps, too gradiose. The doomsayers are not right because they are “clairvoyant geniuses”, they are right because their analytical horizon has, in reality, the same complexity as that of reminding us that we are all going to die. The question is whether, knowing the obvious, the high percentage of failure, demobilisation and repression that awaits us, it is worth moving, to intensify the situation, to gain influence, experience and number for the future, to take events to their limits, to struggle without idealizations or vague hopes or, on the contrary, to remain arms crossed, criticising from the distance, and waiting for death to arrive. As Simone Weil said: “I don’t like war, but in war I always thought that the most horrible thing was the situation of those who remained in the rear”.

When I returned from Barcelona, a comrade from the Tenants’ Union [Sindicato de Inquilinas de Gran Canaria] asked me: “In the end, those in the streets, who are they? Are they independentists or are they anti-system? And I had to answer what I saw: they are people, simply people, a people who are beginning to lose their fear. That is the truth.

Ruymán Rodríguez (Federación Anarquista de Gran Canaria): an excerpt from a longer reflection on the recent catalan protests, published with A las barricadas (02/11/2019).

We share below a short essay by Diego Conno, published with lobo suelto (27/10/2019), even though we might disagree with some of the text’s terminology (e.g., “popular”, “the people”, “moblisation”) – though even here, the words intimate new possible meanings – and we would dispute the need for “leadership” in riots and uprisings. And we do so, because it reflects a light on our times which may very well be our immediate future, that is, multiplying insurrections which are internally plural (they possess no centre, make no fixed demands, and are leaderless) and thus defying any single ideological and/or organisational form. And it is into this reality that any radical politics must plunge into.

But then perhaps this was always the case, and if we have lost sight of it, it is because we – I include anarchists here – have been blinded by the bolshevik myth. What unity (and what precisely this concept implies or should imply must be debated) insurrections come to possess is forged in the insurrection itself. A possible radical political movement cannot be judged from its inception (on the grounds of its purported goals); it must be made, and was made, in movement.

None of the riots, rebellions or insurrections of our time are nominally anarchist; they may in fact have very little to do with ideologically defined anarchism and/or anarchist movements (as was, is and will be in most cases). If this is then cited to justify passivity or indifference to the movement-event, anarchists condemn themselves to political irrelevance. This is not to argue that “we” must throw ourselves into every riot that comes along. Yet it is rarely possible to know beforehand how things will turn. And if what we face is violent death – and this is our fate within capitalism – then how can we not rebel?

There has never been a planned revolution; revolutions occur in the heat and passion of events. Thus what we can strive for is permanent revolution.

A eulogy of popular mobilisation

What is a popular mobilisation? A form of social protest, an act of civil disobedience, a force of resistance, a modality of revolt? Since the beginning of time human societies have mobilised against various forms of injustice, exploitation or oppression; as well as to defend forms of freedom that are threatened or endangered. When a society mobilizes against the politics of a government, the power it challenges suffers, part of its fabric tears, even if its eyes do not see it. The worst tragedy of a government is that of not seeing the image that it itself projects onto others; a rebound effect of a logic of simulation that fails to understand what is at stake when the happiness of the people is affected.

The mobilisations of peoples always express a set of diverse militancies in their expression of a popular desire: desire not to be dominated and to be free. The desire for equality of the many against the elitist contempt of the few; the desire for a pedagogy emancipated from the logic of of the commercialisation and privatisation of education; the desire for production and work in the face of the politics of unemployment, adjustment and job insecurity; the feminist desire in the face of machista and patriarchal violence; the desire for freedom from the repression of the market and security forces; the desire for memory, truth and justice against the negationism of the State. A confluence in a multiple desire for lives worth living, where all lives and bodies count, in the face of a geopolitics of bodily vulnerability that establishes which lives are worthwhile and which are not.

Every popular mobilisation constitutes a mode of public conversation. It is neither television talk nor parliamentary language. No. We say public conversation; a diversity of languages and traditions necessary for the constitution of a heterogeneous popular force. What is at stake here is a mode of democracy that although it cannot be separated from forms of representation, is irreducible to them; a democratic excess before the status quo of neoliberalism; social citizenship versus financial capitalism; plebeian power against corporations and the mainstream media; popular republicanism against an oligarchic conception of the republic. There is something that is not domesticable in the experience of democracy. Let us call it our wild democracy.

Every popular mobilisation gives shape to an assembly based politics and street festivity, but also to the elaboration of a disposition to struggle. In struggle, the city is pluralised, it becomes a territory of dispute, a battle scene, a battlefield. Is not politics the continuation of war by other means? Thus a heterogeneous time opens up, a time to plot a thought and a practice of resistance and preservation of what is common; a common that does not refer so much to singular struggles for a common cause, but rather to struggles in common for the emergence of a singularity.

Every popular mobilisation is a form of politicisation. Politicization occurs when those who have had “time” removed from them, take this time, the necessary the time to think as inhabitants of a shared space, to think and to act together. That is why politics is not just a matter of power or government, it is the creation and configuration of new worlds. Politicisation is also an ethical act, a way of being and of being in the world with others. To govern under the form of the economy as neoliberalism does – through profits and losses, costs and benefits, efficiency and competitiveness – has nothing to do with politics in the strict sense; only the decision to live together politicises the human being. Politicisation occurs when the places assigned to everyone in all areas of social experience and material life are questioned: in school, at work, at home, in the street. Friendship is another form of politicisation.

We do not know what a body is capable of. But we know the power of affection gained in the encounter of bodies, in their ways of dialogue and conflict, in each square, in each bar, in each thought, in each text, in each mobilisation. The contemporary politics of virtuality meets a limit before the active-affective encounter of bodies. Where two bodies touch a figure is drawn that forms a new corporality: a collective body, a common body, a utopian body. It is a precious figure that which is produced when bodies touch and intertwine, giving light to a power of infinite expression of an instituting character.

Politics can be plotted on a linear, homogeneous and empty time, or it can be an institution of a new time: a heterogeneous and discontinuous time in which another experience of collective life is plotted, a kind of experimental laboratory of egalitarian, emancipatory libertarian practices and thoughts.

There is no greater power than that of action in common produced by a mobilised society; an irreducible datum of social life that no “Power” should underestimate. Our destiny lies in the ability to articulate these struggles and amplify these actions. It lies in the affective composition of our desires and in the recovery of the power to affect and be affected by such encounters. But it also lies in the construction of leaderships that can be a channel rather than a dyke for these desires.

Tags: Autonomiesinsurrectionexcerpts
Categories: News

Anarchism’s Possibilities

Wed, 11/06/2019 - 02:35

From Institute For Anarchist Studies

The Perspectives collective is committed to making anarchist ideas accessible and widely understood. As part of this we aspire to include a brief “What is Anarchism?” type essay in future print issues. We approached Kim Stanley Robinson about writing one for us, and he referred us to a piece he wrote for a book called Myths and Lawbreakers: Anarchist Writers on Fiction for AK Press. He told us that if he “were to write anything more about anarchism (doubtful) it would only be to reiterate the points in this intro.” He gave us permission to share it with you and we think it beautifully illustrates not only the terms of anarchism, but also its current challenges and possibilities. It also nicely fits with our current theme of “Imaginations,” which the forthcoming print issue of Perspectives is all about. Enjoy.

This book collects fifteen interviews with writers who have either described themselves as anarchists, written about anarchists in historical or contemporary settings, or invented fictional cultures that they or others have called anarchist. Each person’s story is different, naturally, and the definitions they have given for anarchism are not the same either. An-archy: absence of rulers, or absence of law? The original Greek suggests the former, common English usage since the seventeenth century, the latter; and it makes quite a difference which definition you use. So we find those interviewed here circling repeatedly around questions of definition, both of what the concept means, and how it can be applied to writing and to life, not only the lives of those included here, but the lives of everyone. These are knotty problems, and it’s no surprise that the questions and answers here keep pulling and prodding at them, hoping for some clarity.

Another problem the interviews return to again and again is how to reconcile anarchist beliefs with actual life in the globalized capitalist system. Some of the writers here live by anarchist beliefs to a certain extent, publishing or distributing their writing outside the conventional publishing world, or living in alternative arrangements of one kind or another. Others live more outwardly conventional lives, while writing about anarchism and supporting it in their political action, of which writing is one part. No one can escape a certain amount of contradiction here; the world economy is almost entirely capitalist in structure, and state rule is an overarching reality in human affairs. So the interest in anarchism expressed by these writers, and the effect this complex of ideas has on their lives, has necessarily to involve various compromises and what might be called symbolic actions—as long as one remembers that symbolic actions are also real actions, not at all to be dismissed. Voting is a symbolic action, going to church is a symbolic action, speaking and writing and talking are symbolic actions; all are also real actions, and have real effects in the real world—partly by themselves, and partly by what they suggest symbolically we should do in all the rest of our actions.

Here therefore we are talking about ideology. I mean this in the way defined by Louis Althusser, which is roughly that an ideology is an imaginary relationship to a real situation. Both parts of the definition exist: there is a real situation, and by necessity our relationship to it is partly an imaginary one. So we all have an ideology, and in fact would be disabled or overwhelmed without one. The question then becomes, can we improve our ideology, in terms of both individual and collective function, and if so, how?

Here is where anarchist ideas come strongly into play. We live in a destructive and unjust system, which is nevertheless so massively entrenched, so protected by money, law, and armed force, as to seem unchangeable, even nature itself; it strives to seem natural, so much so that it would be very difficult to imagine a way out or a way forward from the current state. Given this reality of our moment in history, what should we do? What can we do, right now, that would change the situation?

One of the first and most obvious answers is: resist the current system in every way that is likely to do some good. That answer might rule out certain responses: people have been resisting capitalism for well over a century now, and many of the first methods to occur to people have been tried and have failed. Spontaneous mass revolt has been tried and has usually failed. Organized insurrection has sometimes done better, but over the long haul has often rebounded in ways that worsened the situation. Labor action and legal reform often seem possible and sometimes have achieved tangible success, but again, ultimately, despite what they have achieved, we find ourselves in the situation we are in now, so obviously labor action and legal reform are not as effective as one would hope. Mass political education has for a long time been a goal of those interested in promoting change, and again successes can be pointed to, but the overall impact has not yet been effective enough to avoid the danger we find ourselves in. What then should we do?

One thing that would help is to have some idea of what we might be trying to change toward; and this is where anarchism plays its part. As such it is a utopian political vision, and this is why several of the writers interviewed in this book are science fiction writers who have written stories describing anarchist situations as utopian spaces, as better systems that we should be struggling to achieve. This is my own situation; as a leftist, interested to oppose capitalism and to change it to something more just and sustainable, I have once or twice tried to depict societies with anarchist aspects or roots. These, like the work of other science fiction writers, are thought experiments, designed to explore ideas by way of fictional scenarios. Problems can be discussed by way of dramatizations, and the appeal of the alternative society achieved can be evoked for people to contemplate, to wish for, to work for. Until we have a vision of what we are working for, it is very hard to choose what to do in the present to get there.

Here is where anarchism has its greatest appeal, as well as its greatest danger. It is a rather pure and simple political system. It says that left to ourselves (or educated properly), people can be trusted to be good; that if we were not twisted by the demands of money and the state, we would take care of each other better than we do now. In a way this is a view that merely extends democratic thinking to its end point: if we are all equal, if everyone together rules equally, then no one rules; and thus you expand democracy until it ends up at anarchy. It is a profoundly hopeful view, and hope for a different state is a crucial component of action. Here in particular, symbolic action is also at the same time real action.

One way of putting this, used more than once by the writers in this book, is that society is now organized vertically, in a hierarchy of power, privilege, prosperity and health, which is structured in almost the same demographic pyramid as feudalism, or even the ancient warrior-priest command states. Anarchism suggests that the great majority of us would be far better off in a horizontal arrangement, an association of equals. Such a horizontality in the realm of power used to be derided as hopelessly naïve and unrealistic, but the more we learn about our human past and our primate ancestors, the more it becomes clear that this was the norm during the entirety of our evolution; only since the invention of agriculture, patriarchy, and the warrior-priest power structure has verticality ruled our lives. Getting back to a horizontal structure would be a return to the species norm and collective sanity, and to a sense of justice that long predates humanity itself, as can be seen clearly in the actions of our primate cousins.

From vertical to horizontal, then; but this is the work of democracy too, and even the work of history itself, if progress in human welfare is what we judge history by. So the more we succeed in this long work, the closer we come to the goals of anarchism, and the goals of other utopian endeavors: democracy, science, justice.

In the meantime, we have to constantly work; resist capitalism; interrogate our own actions; and speak out against the current order, for something better. That’s what these writers have been doing in their lives and their work, and so this book too becomes part of that project. It’s been going on for a very long time, and will presumably continue past our moment; but our destruction of the biosphere has moved the whole process into crisis mode, and we won’t be leaving that mode until the crisis is resolved. So to a certain extent we can no longer take the long view. We have to avert a biophysical catastrophe if we want to give our children a healthy planet and civilization. In this moment of the storm, all our political ideas need to be reconsidered, even the most radical ones, or especially the most radical ones. And all those based on a hopeful view of humanity, and helping to construct a utopian project for us to fulfill as soon as possible, deserve to be brought into the discussion. So: read on, and imagine a horizontal world, a free association of six billion equals. And as Brecht said: If you think this is utopian, please also consider why it is such.

Kim Stanley Robinson is a writer of science fiction. He has published nineteen novels and numerous short stories and is best known for his Mars trilogy. Robinson has won many awards, including the Hugo Award for Best Novel.

Tags: IASfictionscience fiction
Categories: News

Greek anarchists on New Democracy regime

Tue, 11/05/2019 - 20:07

From The Final Straw

This week, we’re sharing a conversation that I had with comrades from Radiozones Of Subversive Expression, an anti-authoritarian pirate radio station based in Athens, Greece. Mike, Sprout and Omar, three anarchists working with ROSE share their perspectives on the change in government in Greece, corruption in the New Democracy party that just came back into power, it’s attacks on immigrants and the anarchist stronghold neighborhood of Exarchia, the status of the social movements of the left and more. You can listen to their streaming radio station with ALL sorts of programming, from live reports from street actions, to comedy shows to music, all up at radio98fm.org. Check our past interview with folks from ROSE. ROSE is, notably, another member of the A-Radio Network to which we belong, which produces the monthly English-language anarchist news show, B(A)D News: Angry Voices From Around The World.

http://traffic.libsyn.com/thefinalstrawradio/tfsrpodcast-20191103-GreekAnarchists.mp3

Other informative interviews conducted by fellow members of the Channel Zero Network on this topic include recent episodes by IGDcast and The Ex-Worker.

Announcement Comrade Malik Phone Zap

But first, Comrade Malik Washington could use some help. He’s a politicized anarchist prisoner affiliated with the New Afrikan Black Panther Party who’s been serving time in Texas and been vocal about the mistreatment of himself and other prisoners. Despite his activism on the inside, Malik was recently paroled into Federal custody from Texas state control, and is being held currently at USP Beaumont. It was common knowledge among prisoners that he was in danger at Beaumont because of his activism, and Malik was attacked and is now in solitary. There is a phone zap ongoing to pressure administration to release him from solitary and move him to a federal prison in California, where he can be paroled after his brief stint in the DOJ’s gulags, and Comrade Malik can start working more actively with the SF Bay View National Black Newspaper where he has a spot upon his release. To learn more about his case and details on calling Warden Larry Schultz at USP Beaumont up at comrademalik.com.

. … . ..

Playlist

 

Tags: podcastaudiothe final straw radioexarcheiaGreece
Categories: News

No-Wing Anarchy

Mon, 11/04/2019 - 18:35

I am told that anarchism is a “left wing” ideology, by many. I am not sure those who claim this understand the true meaning of the term.

The terms “left wing” and “right wing” come from the position of seated delegates during the French Revolution. The bourgeoisie would sit to the left, and the monarchists would sit to the right. The first leftists were, in fact, capitalists.

The term anarchy stems from the Greek for “no rulers”. If the original designations of left and right were pointed at those trying to rule others, then it follows that anarchism has no place in either the left or right wings. Anarchism is not considered with how to rule over others. It is concerned with not being ruled.

“But!”…some will say… “These terms have changed since the French Revolution!” To that, I would ask “how?”. What is generally considered the left wing is full of parties and organizations that, like those early capitalists, claim to work for the people, and promise freedom under their rule. From the Democratic Party, to the myriad socialist or communist groups across the globe, those who consider themselves left wing strive to establish themselves as benevolent rulers over the people. They act in the name of the people, but always seem to place themselves apart, or ahead, of those they claim to act for.

As can be seen in the endless talk between those who call themselves leftists, these types of people always see themselves at the head of the system, calling the shots in the name of “the people”. Countless discussions are had about “How will x work?” or “Who will do x?”. These types of discussions exemplify the managerial personality of the leftist, as it seems they are more concerned with telling people what to do, with having a system of rulership, than rolling their sleeves up and doing something. “Who will grow the food without capitalism?” The people that need to eat! “Who will build the roads?” Whoever needs to travel!

What chains leftists down to the pillar of rulership is this need for a blueprint…the need for a plan…that they are presumably at the head of, or had a part developing. The leftist fears true anarchy. The leftist fears having to create the world around them as they go, without a system or framework to work within. In fact, leftists fear this so much, that in some cases, they even turn to violence against anarchists.

If anarchists and leftists have such similar views that anarchism can be considered “left wing”, then why is there a history of leftist violence against anarchists? The Soviets imprisoned and murdered anarchists within their borders. They declared war on those anarchists outside them. During the Mexican Revolution, the Red Battalions allied with the state against the anarchist forces of Emiliano Zapata. In more recent times, a Greek Communist group, the KKE, played the role of police during anti-austerity protests, and physically attacked anarchists. With this history of siding with the power of the system, and using that to crush anarchists, I question anyone who thinks that anarchism shares any of the same goals as the left!

The left and right are wings of the same system of capital. Neither offers freedom, only systems that give the illusion of freedom. I believe anarchists would do well to separate themselves from leftism, and maybe even those who call themselves leftists. If we are for a situation of “no rulers”, then surely the baggage that comes along with the history of left wing movements is something akin to a form of rulership that we should shrug off. Why chain ourselves to an ideology that for centuries has striven to rule over others in the name of some faux freedom? Reject both left and right wings…We do not need wings to fly!

Tags: anarchyanarchismleftleft wingleftismSocialismcommunism
Categories: News

What's new with LBC - Fall 2019

Mon, 11/04/2019 - 15:26

From LBC

Introduction

Welcome to this quarters edition of What is new with Little Black Cart?! For those of you who are new, Little Black Cart is an experiment in anarchist publishing. We have published something like 100 titles, many historical, some important, some scandalous, and all out of our process of semi-autonomous anarchist projectuality. We print our own books (as in we have our own printshop), erratically distribute, and do what we can to make meaningful content that we share with you.

This quarter we have a couple experiments for you. The first is poetry! We have a brand new epic book of poetry, a smaller collection of anti-civilization poetry, and an interesting collection of essays by a new author (to us) Ziq (raddle).

New Titles Semi-Automatic Poetry

A beautiful brand new book of poetry by Wolfi Landstreicher

Spanning over three decades, the magical, guerrilla wordplay of the many-masked trickster known variously as Apio Ludd/Wolf Landstreicher/Feral Faun and Apio Ludicrous restores poetry to its proper place as the insurrectionist’s shadow and emancipator of desire, and recasts the poet as a sorcerous Chaote, a lumpen Anarch and outlaw troubadour, a clown shaman and revelatory seer who senses the tidal pulse of a new epoch and becomes its herald and jester, drawing sigils for a future world of passional attraction and libertine excess. Many of the dreaming jewels contained in this collection are inlaid with feral enchantment, many are draped in Discordian insight and wit, while others challenge the docility of “political” language (and language itself), and quite a few more burst their own banks with elemental silliness. But all of these vision-intoxicated outpourings are illuminated by the blazing imaginal fire of the willful, self-creating rebel. This is poetry as an act of defiance, as the eternal enemy of Reality, as a violence against the status quo, and as a ludic zone of the imagination in which the Marvelous can alchemically materialize—making this anthology a must-read for those weary of discussing anarchy in the clichéd ways of the past.

For more information - Semi-Automatic Poetry by Wolfi et al.


Savage Eloquence

A collection of anti-civilization poetry

Reason, rationality, inductivism, and totalizing metanarratives are weapons civilization has always used to legitimize its all-encompassing predations and butchery. So perhaps it’s most useful, when critiquing civilization, to subvert the enemies’ language of pre-designed validation or abandon it entirely in favor of more primal, animistic and untamed modes of expression. Tis pocket-sized declaration of war collects a multiplicity of voices launching mythopoetic assaults on the Grand Fables and foundational “unities” of civilization—voices which deliberately aim to disturb the globalizing social code of colonization and conquest. Taken individually and collectively, their effect is to sweep aside the visionless concrete ghettoes, imaginal trailer-parks and mental urbanization of the domesticated subject—stripping away the clutter of mechanical verbalizations, the layers of conceptual plastic, the commodity-culture programming and the benumbed lifestyle of diversions that cloud our awareness to the horror of it all.

For more information - Savage Eloquence by Enemy Combatant


To the Desertmaker

The Need for a Rejection of the Colonizer’s Civilization

You have demolished their sublime mountains to construct your shopping malls and marinas. You have drained their great lakes to plant your carefully manicured golf courses. Felled their majestic forests to graze your billion cows. Desecrated their vast oceans with your rotten, putrid waste.
You’re driven to control Terra, to change the course of their rivers, to reshape their shorelines and modify their lifeforms to suit your rapacious appetite. You can’t fathom of a world where you don’t own the earth below your feet; posses everything Terra created as your own. You are imperious to assume Terra will be so affected by a fleetingly short-lived and short-sighted creature as yourself. If it takes a million of your lifetimes, Terra will wash away the volumes of excrement you have soiled their surface with.
You spent your wretched life desperately cutting your name into Terra’s flesh, but Terra’s wounds will callus over, creature. Long after the arrogant grin you wear on your lips has turned to dust with the rest of your foul corpse, Terra will regenerate. All the beautiful, disparate beasts you have eradicated during your brief gluttonous tantrum will be reborn. The trees will rise again in magnificent groves as far as the eye can see. Everything you took will be reclaimed

For more information - To the Desertmaker by Ziq


Recent LBC Titles & Distro Items The 2020 Slingshot Organizer

Here to manage your dates, remind you of birthdays, and inform you of random fascinating tidbits of info and radical history. This is the large version, featuring spiral binding, allowing pages to wrap around front to back and back again.

It's bound with a tough plasticoil binding and is twice the size of the “classic” pocket organizer (5.5 inches X 8.5 inches) with twice as much space to write down all the events in your life. It is 176 pages. It has similar contents to the classic: radical dates for every day of the year, space to write your phone numbers, a contact list of radical groups around the globe, menstrual calendar, info on police repression, extra note pages, plus much more. You get a little bonus stuff in the spiral version. The covers are laminated with heavy duty 3 mil glossy plastic to help it survive the year.

Spiral Edition

Pocket Edition


A Brave and Beautiful Spirit: Dora Marsden

Suffragette, egoist, philosopher, Dora Marsden (1882-1960) burst the chains keeping women from education; the chains keeping women from the vote; the chains of conservative feminism; the chains of philosophy, of time, and of language. Her literary and philosophical journals were among the earliest to publish James Joyce, Ezra Pound, H.D., Margaret Storm Jameson, and T.S. Eliot. She was described as the Max Stirner of feminism. From shouting down Winston Churchill, to pioneering publications, to decades in a mental hospital: this biography is the first and foremost record of her life. Over 400 pages, and includes a bibliography and an index.

Find it at A Brave and Beautiful Spirit: Dora Marsden


Insurrection Omnibus

Writings by Jean Weir, Alfredo M Bonanno, M. Passamani, and others

Insurrection was an English magazine that articulated a revolutionary perspective that largely existed at the time in Italy (1982-1989).

Capitalism contains deep contradictions which push it towards processes of adjustment and evolution aimed at avoiding the periodic crises that afflict it; but we cannot cradle ourselves waiting for these crises. When they happen they will be welcomed if they respond to the requirements for accelerating the elements of the insurrectional process. In the meantime, for our part, we are preparing ourselves and the exploited masses for insurrection.
In this sense we consider the time is always ripe for the next insurrection. Better a failed insurrection than a hundred vacillations that cause the failure of a hundred occasions from which it might have been possible for the final revolution to break out. We are therefore against those who say that the recent defeat of the revolutionary movement should make us reflect and conclude that we should be more prudent. We consider that the time for insurrection has come precisely because it is always time to fight, whereas procrastinating is useful only for capital. To prepare for insurrection means to prepare the subjective conditions (personal and material) which consent a specifc anarchist minority to create the indispensable circumstances for the development of the insurrectional process. Although insurrection is a mass phenomenon, and would risk aborting immediately if it were not. Its beginning is always the result of the action of a decided minority, a handful of brave ones capable of attacking the nerve centres of the partial objective to be reached.
We must be very clear on this point. The tasks of the anarchist struggle against power can be extremely varied, but all—in our opinion—must be coherently directed towards preparing the insurrection.

In this insurrectionary spirit we publish this omnibus edition (everything short of 30 year old, time-sensitive reportbacks).

For the creation of indispensable circumstances!

Find it Insurrection Omnibus


The Spectacle of Society

Stories and reviews selected from The Anvil Review

Writings by critila, rocinante, dot matrix, frere dupont, Alejandro de Acosta, Aragorn!, and others both stoned and unstoned. Part two of a three book series of the best pieces from The Anvil. The first is reviews by Alex Gorrion (The Totality is Incomplete); this book, selections specifically talking about pop culture, and the third book (yet to be released) on more intentionally political content. The Spectacle of Society includes pieces on Kanye West, Sons of Anarchy, Žižek, the Earl Brothers, Lady Gaga, David Bowie, Thomas Ligotti (from before he was a name in anarchist circles), Yukio Mishima, and many more.

Find it The Spectacle of Society


Xoros

Poetry, reminiscences, thoughts, from time spent in Exarchia. If you've been, here's a reminder of what it is like. If you haven't been, here's a taste. Personal, touching, insurrectionary.

Find it Xoros


Are you a writer?

Send manuscript proposals to us at info@lbc

Social Networking

Here is our dumb Twitter feed

Stupid Facebook

Politics is the enemy of anarchy, and it knows it.

Categories: News

Anews Podcast 138 – 11.1.19

Sun, 11/03/2019 - 23:02

From Anews Podcast

http://podcast.anarchistnews.org/episodes/anewse138.mp3

Welcome to the anews podcast. This podcast covers anarchist activity, ideas, and conversations from the previous week on anarchistnews.org.

TOTW-make it happen here! with Aragorn! and mucho
sound editing by Greg
reading by chisel, exerpt from fantasma #3
what’s new was written by Jackie and Greg, and narrated by Chisel and Greg
Music:
The Jam – Going Underground
Pirate Loot Scoot
The Supremes – The Happening

Tags: anews podcastpodcastaudio
Categories: News

TOTW: Opsec!

Sun, 11/03/2019 - 18:23

Are anarchists any good at opsec? Is there something particularly anarchist about opsec, or something particularly important about opsec for anarchists?

On the one hand, I've seen anarchists exercise paranoia about communicating with each other, even when discussing things that are entirely legal. On the other hand, the state asymmetrically monitors and pursues anarchist activity as criminal, even when it's not, and so any efforts at practicing good opsec seems better than being careless about it.

What are the most important guidelines, practices, pitfalls to avoid that you can offer about how to have good opsec? What are some ways that you see anarchists being overly paranoid about opsec? How do you think opsec practices differ regarding in-person activity and online activity? Is practicing good opsec online impossible, or is it more difficult than practicing good opsec in person?

Tags: totw
Categories: News

Nihilism is Not Nothing

Sun, 11/03/2019 - 01:12

From: https://medium.com/@NoWing/nihilism-is-not-nothing-c9fd23df2706

Ask nearly anyone, and they will tell you that nihilism is a belief in nothing. Popularized by the movie, the Big Lebowski, and perpetuated by lazy academics and philosophers, this misunderstanding of nihilism has led to a sort of demonization in anarchist circles. Primitivist John Zerzan frequently laments about nihilism, saying things like “…you start having people that are so nihilistic they don’t even care about life anymore.” To Zerzan, nihilism is simply not caring about life.

Even someone opposed to primitivism, transhumanist William Gillis states “‘‘’Can a nihilist be an anarchist?” No. Absolutely not. Nihilism is the philosophy of our thoroughly sociopathic society. Everything we fight.” If primitivists and transhumanists can both hate nihilism together so actively, perhaps that shows they have more in common than one might expect. Perhaps nihilism is a convenient boogeyman for anarchists so entrenched in their own ideologies of primitivism/transhumanism/etc., that those ideologies have started to supersede anarchism?

Is nihilism merely “not caring about life?” Absolutely not! The first nihilists were called so because nothing “that then existed found favor in their eyes”. This does not mean that these people believed in nothing, or did not care about life. Quite the opposite! To those who would form the foundations of nihilism, life was important enough to reject those things which would attempt to fetter life. The first nihilists looked around, saw nothing that they approved of, and then set out to destroy those things, while creating structures and circumstance that did please them. Nihilism stems from people wanting to realize their desires through action. If nihilism was simply people not caring, as Zerzan claims, then nihilism could not make the claim of having killed a czar, and nearly toppling an empire. History does not support Mr. Zerzan’s claims.

Can one be an anarchist and a nihilist, as Mr. Gillis claims is impossible? Of course! In fact, from Renzo Novatore, to CCF, to the FAI, anarchists have been nihilists for over a century, and almost as long as the phrase “anarchism” has been used in politics. Mr. Gillis is either making grandiose claims, while being ignorant of history, or he is claiming that people and groups who have done far more in terms of creating anarchy than himself are not anarchist, and even the enemies of anarchism! Again, reality flies in the face of those who would make false claims about nihilism.

Mr. Gillis claims that nihilism “is the philosophy of our thoroughly sociopathic society”. If only that were the case! If only our society was rooted in the rejection of coercive social norms, and attack on oppressive structures! That is what nihilists do…I am not quite sure how that makes them the enemies of anarchism.

“Negation of every society, of every cult, of every rule and of every religion. But I don’t yearn for Nirvana, any more than I long for Schopenhauer’s desperate and powerless pessimism, which is a worse thing than the violent renunciation of life itself. Mine is an enthusiastic and dionysian pessimism, like a flame that sets my vital exuberance ablaze, that mocks at any theoretical, scientific or moral prison.” — Renzo Novatore

Renzo Novatore, an Italian nihilist anarchist from the early 1900s, specifically combats this idea of nihilism as some exacerbated hopelessness, and rejects nihilism as a “powerless pessimism”. Novatore understands that rulers can come in many forms, “theoretical, scientific, and moral” even. As anarchists, should we not be vigilant towards all concepts as potential rulers? Should we not attempt to tangibly oppose that which coerces us? Should we not attempt to create circumstances that better suit our desires? For Mr. Gillis, these acts would be far too nihilist, which leaves him holding an anarchism which would seem quite ineffective. I would argue that nihilism is a compliment, if not inherent, to anarchism.

Far from a belief in nothing, nihilism challenges us to act. It encourages us to create the world we want to see, and to do it right now. As the early nihilists took from Bakunin, “The passion for destruction is a creative passion, too!” Nihilism is not some hopeless end, it is a bright beginning!

“(Nihilism) stands like an extreme that cannot be gotten beyond, and yet it is the only true path of going beyond; it is the principle of a new beginning.” — Maurice Blanchot

So, why is there this concerted effort against the concept of nihilism from many different corners of anarchism? Why are some people so bent on opposing what is definitionally, and historically, something that has been very much ingrained in anarchism? I would argue that it is exactly because of the way that these figures have positioned themselves among anarchism. The unwillingness of nihilism to accept dogma stands opposed to the very dogmatic stances that anarchists like Gillis and Zerzan have taken. Having painted themselves into corners as transhumanist or primitivist, people like this likely feel threatened by a nihilism that would reject transhumanism or primitivism as static ideologies. After all, nihilism calls for a fluidity of ideas that moves along with the fluidity of desires, and has no interest in “theoretical prisons” that claim a certain way to anarchy. Gillis and Zerzan have built themselves up on very specific sets of ideas, and they understand that nihilism challenges these ideas that they sit atop….Either that, or they really are just uneducated and ignorant as to the true origins of nihilism.

“Any society that you build will have its limits. And outside the limits of any society, unruly and heroic tramps will wander with their wild and virgin thought — those who cannot live without planning ever new and dreadful outbursts of rebellion! I shall be among them!” — Renzo Novatore

Nihilism stands against the prescriptivism and dogma of prefabricated ideologies. It encourages action, and moves people to both negate which oppresses them, while creating their desires. Far from being a passive rejection of life, nihilism stands tall as an active celebration of life, of our ability to create and destroy. Nihilism understands the need for a constant vigilance against the calcification which occurs in all ideologies and all societies. Without that vigilance, even the most ardent anarchist stands vulnerable to the very rulership they claim to fight.

“Defeated in the mud or victorious in the sun, I sing life and I love it! “ — Renzo Novatore

Tags: anarchismanarchynihilismZerzantranshumanismprimitivism
Categories: News

The St Petersburg anarchists cooking up a vegan revolution

Sun, 11/03/2019 - 00:59
The St Petersburg anarchists cooking up a vegan revolution

From BBC News

As Russia enters its 20th year under the authoritarian leadership of Vladimir Putin, St Petersburg's vegan anarchist community thrives. Hated by the far right and out of tune with Russia's prevailing nationalist mood, the activists have created a version of what their ideal society would look like - and they're promoting this vision with delicious food. Could they be changing attitudes among other young Russians?

Once a month, the eight people who work at the Horizontal takeaway hold a meeting in which they air any grievances, discuss updates to the menu, and vote on any changes they may want to make. The front of their restaurant, a hole-in-the-wall that serves vegan burgers, hot dogs and nuggets to go, is covered with stickers promoting anti-fascism, anarchism, and other vegan outlets in the city. Their meal deal offer, something commonly called a "business lunch" in Russia, is called "the anti-business lunch".

Lately, the group has been discussing whether or not to change location - the complex they're currently based in holds shows featuring captive animals, which they believe are cruel and exploitative.

Although some of them have been working there for longer than others, all eight members of the team have an equal say within the business. There are no managers and no hierarchies. Varya, 26, has been at the restaurant the longest.

"That's why we're called Horizontal - because every person who joins our restaurant is on the same level, and has the same rights and an equal position with all of the others," she says. The restaurant adheres to the principles of anti-racism, feminism, LGBTQ+ rights, the abolition of borders, and animal liberation. In a country where people who are gender non-confirming or trans are shunned, and even sometimes attacked, Horizontal is a space where anyone's preferred pronouns will be respected.

The group is planning to compose a manifesto of sorts stating what its values are, to make sure any new starters are on the same page. "For us, it's important that people who join us hold similar ideology, that they share our views, and that they understand what 'veganism' really means to us," Varya says.

Horizontal is one of about a dozen similar spaces across St Petersburg, promoting vegan anarchism - "veganarchism" - by cooking up delicious vegan food.
'You are a microcosm of the world around you'

The term "veganarchist" was coined by the New York-based anarchist Brian Dominick in his 1997 essay, Animal Liberation and Social Revolution. In it, he writes that veganism is inherently intertwined with anti-fascism, human rights activism and anti-capitalism.

The animal slaughter that vegans and vegetarians are consciously opting out of, he says, relies on systematic exploitation of both humans and animals - and that only by fighting all injustices together can a vegan truly fight against any of them.

This fight, he suggests, can be waged through individual actions and radical lifestyle changes.

"The role of the revolutionist is simple," Dominick writes. "Make your life into a miniature model of the alternative, revolutionary society you envision. You are a microcosm of the world around you, and even the most basic among your actions affect the social context of which you are a part. Make those effects positive and radical in their nature."

But although the word "veganarchism" came from the US in the late 20th Century, both anarchism and meat-free diets have a long history in Russia.

The Russian Orthodox church prescribes a plant-based diet during Lent, and most traditional restaurants still offer a plant-based "Lenten menu". Ethical vegetarianism, meanwhile, was thriving in pre-revolutionary Russia - partly because of the example set by the novelist Leo Tolstoy in the late 19th Century.

But for much of the Soviet period vegetarianism fell out of favour, seen as a bourgeois indulgence. The Great Soviet Encyclopaedia went as far as to proclaim that "vegetarianism, which is based on false hypotheses and ideas, does not have followers in the Soviet Union".

Today, only 1% of Russians say they are vegetarian, according to a Vtsiom poll from 2018 - roughly the proportion of British people who are vegan.

As for anarchism, the 19th Century Russian philosophers Mikhail Bakunin and Peter Kropotkin are considered two of the most influential thinkers in anarchist history.

Kropotkin's radical 1892 text, The Conquest of Bread, continues to influence anarchists around the world to this day. In it, he says - among other things - that one of the first steps in any anarchist revolution would be for the people to seize food and the means of producing it.

"We have the temerity to declare that all have a right to bread, that there is bread enough for all, and that with this watchword of 'Bread for All' the revolution will triumph."

Visitors to Llamas vegan grocery shop are greeted with a painting of a cow holding up two middle fingers.

Inside, rainbow-flag tote bags, feminist stickers and vegan condoms are sold alongside plant-based Napoleon cakes and reusable straws. In the freezer, there are varenyky and pel'meni dumplings made by She's Got A Knife, a "feminist horizontalist culinary project". In a back room, there's an unassuming hole-in-the-wall restaurant called Tempeh Time. It's dedicated to serving dishes made with tempeh - pronounced "tem-pay" - a protein made from fermented soya beans.

Llamas was opened last year by Anya, 30, and Igor, 33 - whom Anya describes affectionately as her "husband and best friend". When I speak to them, they're about to celebrate the shop's first anniversary.

Igor tells me that with veganism growing more popular in the city, they wanted to try and emulate similar spaces in cities like Berlin. At the time they hadn't been there, but they knew it was Europe's vegan activist capital.

"People come here for that feeling of Europe, of freedom, to feel for a couple of minutes like they're in Berlin or somewhere," he says. "We're trying to create a space where vegans won't feel ashamed to come with their non-vegan friends, and they can say, 'That's a vegan place - it's not strange, it's not scary.'"

"We didn't just want Llamas to be a shop, but also a cafe and a meeting point for our community," Anya adds. "We also had the idea to open a barbershop nearby, but that's still just an idea."

Opening up their back room to vegan chefs was a big part of building this community space and putting their beliefs into practice, Anya says. The kitchen's first occupant was Danya, a friend of Anya and Igor's, who ran a pizzeria called Daner Pizza. When he moved out into a larger space, Iiuri Shilov, a tempeh maker, moved in. He had a soft launch of his restaurant Tempeh Time in early August, before officially opening on 7 September.
'Food can be its own form of activism'

I order a large bowl of fried rice, tempeh and fresh cucumber for 180 rubles - £2.26. The other options on the menu, including sandwiches and soups, all hover around the 200 ruble mark. Iiuri explains that he wants to keep prices low in order to make vegan food - in particular, tempeh - accessible to as many people as possible.

"My mission is for more and more people to try tempeh," he says, beaming.

Iiuri first ate it two years ago while he and his wife were travelling across south-east Asia for their honeymoon. It was in Indonesia that he ordered a tempeh dish and, he says, it blew his mind. It had a flavour that was both mushroom-like and nutty, with a firm texture a bit like chicken. When fried in oil, with a small sprinkling of sea salt, the flavour was like nothing else he'd ever eaten.

It rapidly became an obsession. Every day, after surfing, he would go back to the same cafe and order exactly the same dish that he had eaten that first time, and that I had coincidentally just ordered for myself: fried rice, tempeh and cucumber.

But when the honeymoon was over and the newlyweds were back home, Iiuri couldn't find his new favourite food anywhere.

"When we came back to Russia, I wanted to eat tempeh. I kept looking around for a tempeh shop, or maybe even a tempeh cafe, but I couldn't find anything," Iiuri says.

So he decided to make it himself.

"I looked online and found an American book on tempeh production. It was old - a man called William Shurtleff had written it in the 1970s - but it was perfect," he says.

"After reading through the book, I ordered the starter [an ingredient for fermenting] all the way from Indonesia, made my own incubator at home, and bought enough soya beans to make about five or six packs of tempeh. At first I just made tempeh for myself and my friends. Then, once I figured out how to make bigger batches, I started selling to places like this," he says, gesturing to the grocery shop, Llamas, in which we are sitting.

Before long he was making about 10kg of tempeh per batch, with a hands-on process that would have him up in the early hours of the morning. "My wife started getting fed up… At this point we had a three-month-old son. Imagine: my baby is crying, my wife is getting annoyed, and I'm there making tempeh at 2am."

Eventually his wife lost patience. "Iiura, go and find a proper kitchen," she told him. This turned out to be great advice, because once he did - it was a room lent to him by a friend of Danya the pizza-maker - he was able to make more tempeh than ever.

Outside Indonesia, tempeh is far less common than other vegan proteins, such as tofu and seitan, a meat substitute made from wheat gluten. Personally, I had never been a fan - but Iiuri's tempeh was delicious, unlike anything I'd ever tried before.

Iiuri tells me he went vegan six years ago, when he was working in the kitchen of a bar. He made himself a fried-egg sandwich, and a colleague asked him, "Iiuri, why do you eat eggs?" before using some choice words about the meat, dairy and egg industries. Intrigued, Iiuri watched an Austrian documentary about veganism.

"It was super-disgusting," he says. "What I saw... it made my soul hurt. I felt so bad about all the time I had spent eating meat and eggs, and drinking milk."

Now, he tries to spread a positive message about veganism through his cooking.

"Food can be its own form of activism," Iiuri tells me. "I have customers who eat meat, but after trying tempeh they enjoy it just as much. Many of my friends have tried tempeh and liked it too - I have one friend who's non-vegetarian, but after eating tempeh he's realised that he doesn't really need meat.

"Now, he has at least one meat-free day a week. This is action."
'It's possible to change the world one person at a time'

While Iiuri provides simple, hearty vegan food at low prices, another young vegan chef, 25-year-old Viktoria Mosina, is applying her vegan beliefs to haute-cuisine at her restaurant, Grun, and making vegan versions of traditional Georgian food at a nearby cafe, Dze Bistro.

When we meet, Viktoria has just been shortlisted for a St Petersburg culinary award - the only woman in the Best Chef category, and the only vegan among the 31 contenders. For Dze Bistro, she devised a menu of plant-based Adzharuli - a type of Georgian bread, usually filled with meat. Viktoria's versions, however, are made with plant-based ingredients - aubergine and pomegranate, for example, which are traditional in Georgian cooking.

As we speak, she shows me two deconstructed versions of traditional Russian soups from the Grun menu - one nettle soup and one svekol'nik, a type of beetroot soup.

"I started to cook when I was 16, and ever since then my focus has been on promoting veganism and making it popular," she says. "After a while I started to realise I could try to change the world through food - and now I've learned to cook food from plants that is so good, people won't have any need for meat."

There were so few vegan eateries in St Petersburg when she first started cooking that there was nowhere for her to learn about the restaurant business. So she started her career in non-vegan kitchens, cooking only their vegan options - although she insisted that they weren't marked as vegan as on the menu.

"In Russia, if a person knows that something is vegan, they'll refuse it on principle because they have stereotypes in their mind," she explains.

When she then told her non-vegan customers what they had just eaten, they would often be surprised to learn that it hadn't been made with meat or dairy.

"At that moment, all those stereotypes would fall away. Because of my efforts and my mainstream popularity, vegans are not seen as grass-eaters or cultists as much as they used to be," she says.

Viktoria's focus is on using fresh, seasonal plant ingredients that she either grows in a wall-mounted allotment attached to the restaurant, or that she picks herself in the wild. Once a week she goes to the forest with her kitchen team, sees which plants she can find, and researches them in botanical textbooks to figure out the best way to cook with them. When she returns to the city she spends about a day or two developing new recipes, and by the following week they are on the menu.

"It's possible to change the world one person at a time. That's the form my activism takes - to change individuals," she says.

Sonia, 26, feels the same way. She runs a cake business called Run Rabbit Run, which she founded just over three years ago with another vegan baker called Slava, 31. After a while they parted ways amicably, and he opened his own cafe.

As well as running the bakery, Sonia is also making a name for herself as a feminist YouTuber, vlogging with friends on a channel called Feministki Poyasnyayut - "Feminists Explain" - in which they clarify "things about feminism for ordinary people". She has also collaborated in cooking tutorials with the popular vegan YouTuber, Mikhail Vegan.

The best way to get a message across, she says, is to "lead by example" - something she tries to do with Run Rabbit Run. "If you're an ethical vegan and you're healthy, you're OK and you're not dying - you're just as normal as anyone else but you're vegan - in my experience that really is the best form of activism!"

Sonia shows me a few of her cakes, and explains why customers won't find unrefined sugar or superfoods in her recipes.

"Some people think being vegan is somehow automatically healthier," she says. "I don't think so. I think it can be really healthy if you want it to be, but I don't think cakes should be healthy. I think they are something you should indulge in and enjoy. They are sugary, they're fatty, they have a lot of carbohydrates - they're not healthy at all."

Meanwhile, the cafe started earlier this year by Slava, Sonia's former business partner, is thriving too. He tells me he's inspired by Scandinavian culture, which is why he decided to name it Fika, the Swedish word for their afternoon tea.

"I really liked the concept of a salad bar, deli and bakery with a cafe - I've seen similar things in Scandinavia and Finland," he says. He used to have a cafe near the Fontanka river, but it was small space, and the food was so popular that there were almost always long queues. In his new location - which is less central, but more spacious - it is much easier to get served.

When St Petersburg's vegans say their philosophy is about more than food, it's not just empty words.

A week before I met them, Anya and Igor from Llamas had taken part in an annual festival in the city called Znak Ravenstva - meaning Equal Sign. It promotes not only veganism, but also feminism, anti-racism, LGBTQ+ rights and environmentalism, and tries to show how all of these movements are connected - as Brian Dominick himself believed.

As well as food stalls, there are lectures, workshops on blogging and zero-waste living, and bands performing live.

One of the festival's six co-organisers, Kostya, 24, tells me that Znak Ravenstva is now in its second year. Its predecessor, Vegan Fest, which focused more exclusively on veganism, ran for four years before the organisers decided to widen the scope.

"We're trying to say that everything is connected, and if you're vegan you have to also support all other movements for equality - so feminists, for example, are coming and learning about veganism, and vice-versa," Kostya says. But making this change hasn't been easy.

"Unfortunately, when we started including feminism and LGBT rights, the number of participants went down - because of prejudice." He named a couple of restaurants that had pulled out of the festival because some staff members didn't want to openly support these causes.

But the festival's popularity is growing nonetheless, he says. This year they had about 5,000 visitors.

For Anya and Igor, events like Znak Ravenstva are vital both for helping to broaden their community, and for promoting equal rights in the city more widely.

"These four days of the festival felt even better than our last New Year holiday, because of the atmosphere, the feeling of freedom, the kindness, the tolerance… it was like a vision of our ideal Russia," Anya says. "It is very hard for us as vegans to be open, but here we could come and see different projects, meet new people and make friends."

Igor agrees, and adds that because vegans don't get much support from outside the community, spaces where they can be themselves are really important.

"The fact that this festival even happens, it's quite strange in itself," he says. "This vegan festival, promoting tolerance and equality, is against the main ideology of our society."

On the other hand, St Petersburg has a long-established tradition of activism. This goes back to the Soviet era, and it's why Kostya says this may be the best city in Russia to be vegan - and to be an activist generally. It's also why he moved to St Petersburg from his hometown in Russia's far north.

There's a feminist cafe called Simona, for example (named after Simone de Beauvoir) which made headlines in March when a group of pro-Kremlin men barged in armed with flowers for Women's Day. A confrontation ensued and one of the intruders ended up being pepper-sprayed.

Elsewhere, there is a community centre called Open Space for activists to use, free of charge - a simple concept, but a rarity in many cities globally.

Open Space's co-founder, Ilya, tells me that it is home to the city's only feminist library which, when I visit, is decorated with feminist anti-fascist posters and flyers calling for the release of political prisoners. It also regularly hosts events for independent electoral observers - a risky vocation in Russia - and marginalised groups, including the LGBT community, "because it's unsafe to be openly gay here". In total, he says, more than 80 independent activist groups have organised events at the space.

But if Znak Ravenstva and Open Space are microcosms of the ideal Russia for the vegan anarchist community, the real Russia is sometimes very different. It's possible to be prosecuted for the type of activism that many of them support and sometimes engage in.

Numerous Russian pride parades and LGBT youth groups have been shut down under the country's "gay propaganda" law, which bans the positive depiction of same-sex relationships in any media that can be consumed by children - including the internet. Recently, the authorities shut down two LGBT community groups on Russian-language social media. And while a growing number of young Russians seem ready to take to the streets to protest against the actions of local officials - against the exclusion of candidates in local elections, for example, against the destruction of a park, or the creation of a toxic dump close to a river - they may pay for it with arrest.

But there is one case in particular that has hit home for the veganarchists in St Petersburg.

In early November 2017, an anti-fascist vegan cafe owner called Arman Sagynbaev was arrested at his home in St Petersburg and charged with terrorism offences. He was one of about 10 activists from St Petersburg and the city of Penza, far away in the Volga region, accused by the authorities of being part of an "anarchist terrorist group" called "the network". Investigators accused them of trying to promote, through talks and meetings, "further destabilisation of the political climate in the country" during the presidential elections and the 2018 World Cup. The vegans I spoke to believe Sagynbaev is no terrorist, and that he was targeted because he was anti-fascist.

Sagynbaev initially confessed to the charges against him, but withdrew this confession in September last year, alleging - in a lengthy and detailed statement - that the FSB had extracted it by means of torture.

Two of his co-defendants have lodged complaints of torture with the European Court of Human Rights. Sagynbaev remains in custody, awaiting trial.

Sagynbaev's arrest, Igor says, felt like a warning to the rest of the community.

"The political situation in Russia prohibits us from being free as vegan activists," he says. "In Europe it's easier to be openly vegan and support equal rights, but Russian politics is the politics of xenophobia, of the absence of free speech."

When I ask Iiuri about politics, the smile quickly drains from his face.

"The political situation in Russia is worse than disgusting," he says. "I hate our president, I hate our government. Policemen beat our guys, they break their legs."

Iiuri is referring to a graphic designer in recent pro-democracy demonstrations in Moscow, who had his leg broken by officers at a time when he wasn't even protesting, just jogging past City Hall.

"Last year, my wife and I went to a protest. She was pregnant - and the police came up to us and threatened to beat her," Iiuri continues, looking visibly shaken at the memory. He tells me that he and his wife are even thinking about moving to another country, such as Canada. "I'm 31, and I've lived almost my entire life under the Putin regime. I don't want to live here any more."
'We have a problem'

But it's not just the authorities the vegan community worries about.

Several of the people I speak to describe confrontations with far-right groups. These range from neo-Nazis sticking far-right stickers on their doors, to being violently attacked - including beatings and stabbings.

In October 2017, a group of young, far-right activists went to a now-closed vegan anarchist restaurant called Animals and shot flares through the glass of the windows. Some staff were seriously injured.

Animals was run by the same group behind Horizontal, and was located just a few feet away. Like Horizontal it was an openly anarchist restaurant and a known meeting space for activists, says Horizontal worker Varya.

"It was the fash," she tells me, using a slang word for neo-fascists.

"We are politically active and we support different activist groups, we cover our walls with stickers, so they knew to target us. We all understand who was behind it, but no-one was fined or arrested."

Kostya tells me that he first became consciously anti-fascist at the age of 15, growing up in a village in the far-northern Yamalo Nenets district. It was a multicultural area - including members of the indigenous Nenets ethnic group - but there was also a strong far-right, Russian nationalist movement. This disturbed Kostya, who believed that everyone was equal.

Even earlier, when Kostya was 10, he had been shocked by the murder of a 20-year-old rock musician and anti-racist activist, Timur Kacharava, who was stabbed to death by neo-Nazis outside a bookshop in St Petersburg. It stuck in his mind.

"We have a problem," he says. "Unfortunately there has been no change in Russia for I don't know how long. A big part of the problem is our mass media, and the messages the government transmits through it. They say that the world is against us, they are homophobic and say that Europe is 'gay', for example." He says many young people now ignore TV, and get their news online. Pollsters have noticed this trend, too - one recent poll found almost half of Russians aged 18-to-24 get their news from the largely uncensored internet.

After a moment of pause, Kostya adds: "I don't think Russians are bad people. They're just not educated, and are taught that the rest of the world is against us. From this fear grows a hatred of all difference."

So what does the future look like?

Despite everything St Petersburg's vegan anarchists come up against, they remain hopeful about the years to come.

"I want an equal society, I'd like people to respect animals, to respect each other and to respect the planet - and I would like to see a border-free world, with no borders between the countries," Varya says.

For many, a world without borders would be as unthinkable as a world without meat or cheese. But Varya is undaunted.

"I understand that, in reality, this will only be possible in several generations. But I just hope that we will bring up one generation, then another generation, and then another generation - then our descendants will finally be able to live in a much better society."

Igor and Anya agree.

"Russia has had a very difficult history," Igor says. "But it's all about the mentality of the people - about whether we see the inertia of a generation, or the conscience of a generation. So if we at least manage to build a liberal state, in 10 years or so, we can have another country."

Kostya adds that veganism in St Petersburg is growing so rapidly, there was even an animal rights section at the city's May Day parade this year.

"We had more people than United Russia," he laughs, referring to President Putin's political party.

"The ideal Russia, and the ideal world, for me would see us living in harmony and equality, living alongside people where we are all different but we are all equal. Where there's direct democracy - where the people vote for or against policies directly through referendums, rather than through representative governments. And of course where we're all environmentally aware," he says.

"A world with no state, no police, no borders, no nations - where people can decide for themselves what they want and what they want to achieve."

Photographs taken by Svetlana Ivanova

Tags: MSMBBCrussia
Categories: News

The Ex-Worker #71

Sat, 11/02/2019 - 15:47
#71: Radio Evasión—Dispatches from Chile Part 2

From CrimethInc.

Radio Evasión—Dispatches from Chile Part 2 En español también! Week 2: neighborhood assemblies & daily rioting downtown
A Podcast of Anarchist Ideas and Action For Everyone Who Dreams of a Life Off the Clock

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Full Episode Transcript

Summary

Two weeks of revolt in Chile and there are no signs of it slowing down! In this Radio Evasión dispatch, we bring you up to speed on all the developments in the past week: the president’s attempts to quell the protests with reforms, the lifting of Martial Law, and the cancellation of the upcoming APEC trade summit. We have two communiqués translated into English from Chile, and eight interviews! This episode we tried to focus on not just the combative protests at Plaza Italia downtown, but also represent a little bit of how the neighborhoods on the periphery of the city are getting organized with cacerolazos, cultural events, barricades, and people’s assemblies.For feedback, ideas for interview questions, or to contribute material, send us an e-mail at podcast@crimethinc.com.

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Tags: podcastcrimethinc.the ex-workerchile
Categories: News

On Those Arrested During the October Revolt

Sat, 11/02/2019 - 15:33
 “On Those Arrested During the October Revolt” – Update from Publicacion Refractario

From Anarchists Worldwide, Chile

Update from Publicacion Refractario

28.10.19: Since the revolt that began on October 18, 2019, countless people have been murdered, tortured, arrested and harassed by all repressive forces, from the military to the police detectives.

Dozens of insurgents have been murdered and dozens have lost their eyes as a result of the systematic shootings by the repressive forces during street demonstrations.

The bodies of those who have died as a result of uniformed brutality are left in supermarkets and burned to eliminate any evidence.

The infrastructure of repression have enabled temporary and sporadic detention and torture precincts, until now the main one has been the Baquedano Metro station, while in other regions there are already rumors of new locations.

Information is still coming in but so far the main charges against the thousands of detainees are disobeying the curfews, rioting, arson, looting and carrying incendiary devices.

Here at Publicacion Refractario we will seek to provide accounts by the detainees, the accused and the kidnapped within the context of the October Revolt, their testimonies, trials and the different initiatives that may arise.

To send information, do not hesitate to write to us at publicacionrefractario(at)riseup(dot)net

Because they have transformed the world into a prison…our struggle continues until there are no prisons left in this world!

Solidarity with those arrested and prosecuted for the revolt!

Let’s get our comrades out of the prisons!

FOR NEWS ABOUT THE DETAINEES AND THOSE PROSECUTED FOR THE REVOLT (in Spanish)

(via Publicacion Refractario)

Tags: chileanarchists in trouble
Categories: News

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