"Lefty" Hooligan -- What's Left?
column from MRR #179 - April 1998
The man's a serial rapist and proud of it. He brags about the number of
women he's raped over the years even as he threatens to rape more. He boasts
that the police will never catch him because he's too clever for them.
You've tried lecturing him every time he talked about a new assault,
telling him it's legally and morally wrong to violate another human being.
He just laughed at you. You did call the cops and they questioned him,
but they didn't have enough evidence to arrest and hold him. You then tried
to warn and help his intended victims, a slightly more effective strategy.
One out of twenty women he tried to rape managed to fight him off. The
woman was black-and-blue but not raped, while nineteen other women were
not so lucky.
So you get together with a few of his victims, track him down, knock
him out, and cut off his dick...
A friend of mine wore a button that made most men reading it squirm:
"Disarm rapists!" But this isn't a column about rape. As you've probably
noticed, a common hooligan technique is to draw readers into an argument
with a catchy analogy. Broad or point-by-point, my analogies are usually
In this case, the United States government is the serial rapist. For
220 plus years its military forces have routinely invaded, occupied and
crushed smaller uncooperative nations, systematically subverting and destroying
rebellious popular movements around the world as well. So many instances
of rape. The US just got done trying to bomb Iraq back to the stone age
once again, and it's still "keeping the peace" in the Balkans and Haiti.
It has a million and a half troops in one of the world's largest standing
militaries, a quarter million of them perpetually stationed outside its
borders in Europe and at military bases in the Third World and on naval
vessels constantly patrolling the high seas. With the collapse of the Soviet
Union, the US is the only country with military troops permanently stationed
in other countries, and the only country with a navy regularly visiting
ports of call around the world. Did I forget to mention that the government's
arsenals of chemical, biological and nuclear weapons still threaten humanity's
Needless to say, I don't have much faith in appealing to the UN to
condemn US imperial adventures, nor do I think it'll do much good trying
to convince foreign policy makers to "respect the sovereignty of other
nations" as homegrown anti-interventionism would have it. Anti-imperialist
solidarity with the victims of US military mauling is slightly more effective.
With the help of the peace movement and a crumbling US army, the Vietnamese
did kick American ass. But at what price? Over a million Vietnamese died
during an undeclared war in which the US dropped more than 8 million tons
of bombs on southeast Asia, more than four times what the US dropped during
all of the second World War. And now, Nike operates sweatshops in Vietnam.
Most of the time, as Iraq amply demonstrates, anti-imperialism is powerless
to prevent the US government from flexing its military might as it wishes.
Finally, in not targeting the US state as the instrumentality of American
imperial violence, anti-imperialism guarantees that there will always be
"victims of US military intervention" to support.
Said in simple, overly rhetorical terms, it comes down to overthrowing
the government, smashing the state, unleashing a social revolution in order
to get the US off the back of the rest of the planet...
No, I don't think folks are gonna take up arms and take on the powers-that-be
any time soon. This is a question of what we're working for. Are we willing
to spend all our time and energy showing solidarity with an endless series
of victims of US military aggression? Or are we trying to destroy what
perpetrates this terrible history of intimidation, destruction, invasion
Regular readers of my column will recognize this as yet one more restatement
of my well-worn anti-statism theme. Much of the recently revived antiwar
movement continues the futile activity of putting out brush fire after
brush fire instead of going after the arsonist, to pile yet another analogy
on all of this. Perhaps that's because many of the individuals and groups
claiming to "lead" this antiwar upsurge are ML-types with a religious belief
in Leninist anti-imperialism. Sounds like it's time for another installment
...THE LEFT IN REVIEW...
The good news is that troglodyte Trot Sam Marcy died recently. The
bad news is that his thuggish spawn, the Workers World Party, continues
to muscle for the leadership of national antiwar sentiment. As you might
have remembered, the WWP loves to organize through front formations—All-People's
Congress, National People's Campaign, International Action Center (IAC).
The IAC was in the middle of organizing for yet another small tedious protest
in San Francisco at Powell & Market on Feb. 17 when the WWP vomited
up the "mother of all fronts," the National Emergency Coalition to Stop
the War Against Iraq (NEC for short). By this time, at least in the Bay
Area, folks on the Left were getting awfully tired of IAC/WWP honcho Gloria
LaRiva's iron-fisted (and ham handed) control of antiwar protest in the
City. The Ad Hoc Coalition to Stop the U.S. War in the Gulf (AHC—initiated
by a wider range of folks, from liberal Peace Action to Trotskyist Socialist
Action) called for a demo at the SF Federal Building on Feb. 21 even as
the NEC announced their nationwide protest action for Feb. 28 (in SF a
march from Dolores Park to UN Plaza). AHC followed with a rally/teach-in
at UN Plaza on March 7. With few exceptions it was stock leftist march-and-rally
format, no matter who sponsored what.
From the Hooligan point-of-view, both coalitions express little that
is outside of mainstream, mundane anti-interventionism/anti-imperialism.
Their basic demands are inches apart ("No new bombing of Iraq/End the sanctions
now" for the NEC; "Bring the troops home now/End the sanctions now" for
the AHC). The AHC's Feb. 21 rally in the pouring rain pulled over 1,000
people, and after the speeches about 300 folks took off in a spirited,
unauthorized march toward the Mission. The cops stopped the march and the
standoff between cops and marchers lasted for about an hour, during which
a couple of folks were arrested for obstructing traffic. Thanks to nice
weather after a string of storms, the NEC's Feb. 28 event had the draw
with 2,500 folks in attendance, which in the Bay Area isn't even much of
the Left. I never liked feeling that I'm demonstration "cannon fodder"
for some vanguard party, hence my dislike for the WWP dominated NEC. The
AHC is more pluralist, yet no less knee-jerk about its idiot anti-interventionist/anti-imperialist
assumptions. San Francisco is now a two coalition town like it's a two
newspaper town. Barely. SF antiwar demos 2/17 thru 3/7/98 = µµ
(one unimaginative star plus a star for the street action).
Yep, another new feature. On-the-job fucking shit up, suggested by
a recent e-mail. A word of warning, the following feature may contain language
or ideas offensive to bosses and capitalists. Today: WORK TO RULE.
The basic idea behind "working to rule" is that every workplace has
so many formal and informal rules that, if workers followed all of them,
production would slow to a crawl, if not grind to a halt altogether. I
worked the unsupervised second shift—4 pm to midnight—as a typesetter for
a yellow pages company. The official rules were that each typesetter had
to do the type for 40 ads per shift, but that we were also supposed to
double check that each ad package had all the necessary component parts
before it went to the paste-up artists for them to complete. Salespeople
got commissions for selling advertising, and they were responsible for
including everything needed to finish the ad they sold, including ad copy,
logos, pictures, graphics, etc. in one ad package. But the more ads a salesperson
sold in a day, the more commission he or she earned, so there was a strong
incentive for them to do the absolute minimum on each ad package, meaning
they often illegibly scribbled out the ad copy or forgot to include something
important like the company logo or a picture of the product. If there was
something wrong with the ad package, the typesetters were supposed to first
spend a few minutes seeing if we could solve the problem. If we couldn't,
the formal rule was that we should set the ad package aside and go on to
the next one. Informally though, the idea was to get the paste-up artists
something to work with, even if it came back for revisions or corrections.
Each paste-up artist had a quota of 25-30 completed ads a shift. They
had to keep a log as to how many times an ad package needed to go back
to typesetting for revisions or corrections, and they were always under
pressure to make these returns as few as possible. The company got the
most profit when a paste-up artist put together his or her daily number
of ads in one sitting, which of course never ever happened. Well, someone
in accounting regularly reviewed these ad logs, and accounting was always
badgering our Art Director to cut down on the number of revisions or corrections
the ad packages seemed to require. The Art Director had an art department
meeting one morning to crack down on the paste-up artists, who promptly
blamed the second shift typesetters for giving them bad ad packages. When
our shift got in, the Art Director read us the riot act, threatened to
fire us if we didn't "shape up and get the 40 ads done right the first
time," then promptly left for the evening, his day done.
So the second shift typesetters had our own meeting. We decided to
"work to rule;" the formal rule that if an ad package was bad and we couldn't
correct it quickly, we set it aside and went on to the next package. We
designed our own log sheet to account for our time and what was wrong with
the ad which we attached to each package. We spent three quarters of our
shift rejecting bad ad packages and produced type for only ten ads per
person that night. The Art Director had the next day off, and we produced
only seven ads per person that night. We literally ran out of ad packages
in the queue and spent the last three hours of our shift playing cards
and computer games, sending out for food and making a liquor run. We expected
the "shit to hit" the third night, because the Art Director would be back.
But when we all got into work, he was in a meeting with company management.
He came back around 7 that evening, when everyone else in the art department
had gone home. The Art Director gathered us all together and quite sheepishly
informed us that, while our log sheets and efforts to "play by the rules"
had been admirable and informative, we should return to churning out 40
ads a night, doing the best we could with each ad package.
"Just get the paste-up artists something to work with," he said. "Even
if it comes back for revisions or corrections."
He never formally apologized for threatening us, but we'd proved our
point. The reason that the ad packages needed so many corrections was because
they came from the salespeople all fucked up to begin with. But the company
couldn't come down too hard on their salesfolk because, after all, they
were the company's main revenue generators. They did back off harassing
the paste-up artists and typesetters on the issue for a while, long enough
for me to get another job.
The IWW pamphlet, Worker's Guide to Direct Action, gives another example
of "working to rule:" "The United Parcel Service (UPS) has always been
a stickler for the rules (when they benefit the bosses), and routinely
conducts 'method audits,' in which employees whose actions do not conform
to the established procedures are disciplined. This, of course, gave the
workers a potent weapon. The UPS workers retaliated with 'Methods Awareness
Days'—MADs—on which all union employees follow the entire UPS maze of regulations
to the letter. The result is, as one shop steward gleefully reported, 'Production
just falls apart.'" This pamphlet gives several more practical examples
of how to "work to rule," so get it for $3 from the Industrial Workers
of the World, 1095 Market St., San Francisco CA 94103. Now, with a slightly
new layout, an old feature...
...ALL THE NEWS THAT FITS...
OUR OWN BACK YARD... "Roberto Flores, an educator at Layola Marymount
University who spent last year in Chiapas, says that while the Zapatistas
need help, they have repeatedly told visitors that the best way to help
them is to organize in their own communities against the global corporate
culture or 'neoliberalism.' As such, many supporters are beginning to organize
'autonomous barrios' both in Mexico and the United States to challenge
local governments. The Zapatistas believe that rather than sending delegates
to Chiapas, people in the United States should be fighting discrimination
and finding ways to stop youths from killing each other, says Flores. The
battle in Chiapas, he says, belongs to the Zapatistas." (P. Gonzales, R.
Rodriguez; 12-29-97, SD Union-Tribune) I couldn't have said it better myself
to all those radical-chic Chiapas tourists and Zapatista cheerleaders.
And there's more than enough to do in this country. The US "is giving the
Mexican military extensive covert intelligence support and training hundreds
of its officers to help shape a network of anti-drug troops around the
country" according to the SD Union-Tribune of the same date, and there
are already allegations that military officers involved in anti-drug activities
"have been linked to the torture and disappearance of suspects; failures
of due process and proper legal procedure by soldiers stepping in for the
police." Shades of the School of the Americas. The 12-8-97 Honolulu Advertiser
reports that the US has been negotiating the Multilateral Agreement on
Investment (MAI) for the past two years without any media attention. The
treaty scheduled to be signed this May after which it must go to the Senate
for ratification. MAI "is the most sweeping agreement in history in regard
to the authority it marshals to protect investors," a triumph for neoliberal
capitalist globalization that makes NAFTA and GATT look positively provincial.
Thanks to Karl Koons for all three stories... RED ZONE: You Are Now Leaving
The American Sector is a new irregular publication of the ultraleft persuasion.
These folks tried to get a magazine called Red Planet going, but that never
panned out. They scaled down their ambitions and their name, and Red Zone
is starting out as a free broadside. The first issue is entitled "Toward
a Maximum Antiwar Movement," and it came with the accompanying statement:
"Western pundits declared the United States the de facto victor of the
'cold war' after the Soviet Union's collapse in 1991, proclaiming as well
that there was now no viable economic alternative to market capitalism.
Yet working people around the world continue to rise up against American
hegemony and the power of capital. In Mexico, these rebellious regions
are called 'red zones' by the government which subjects their populations
to low-intensity or counter-insurgency warfare." A copy of the first Red
Zone can be had for a self-addressed stamped envelope to POB 29251, Oakland,
CA 94604-9251. WORKING CLASS HEROES... Seattle cabdriver Dick Falkenbury
and street poet Grant Cogswell "were two men with no money, scorned by
the political establishment and ignored by the press, whose campaign [to
place a ballot measure] consisted of going around Seattle with a plywood
sign that urged people to build a $1 billion mass transit system [extending
Seattle's 1-mile monorail]. When the two won, gaining nearly 53 percent
approval, it was perhaps the biggest political upset in the Pacific Northwest
since a bartender was elected mayor of Portland 10 years ago." (J.P. Hicks,
NY Times News Service, reprinted 12-26-97, SD Union-Tribune) Just goes
to show what can be done by a few folks with "one track minds." Submitted
by Chula Vista's own working class hero, Bob Barley... COLLECTIVE ACTION
NOTES has an interesting pamphlet out called Communism is the Material
Human Community: Amadeo Bordiga Today by Loren Goldner. Be forewarned,
this is not an easy read, though it does make some excellent points. Bordiga,
who considered himself a disciple of Lenin, acutely argued that in Capital
Marx describes capitalism as the system that solved the "agrarian question"
before going on to industrialize the economy. Every Leninist "socialist"
regime to date has merely solved the "agrarian question" and then industrialized
the economy, hence Leninism is nothing more than capitalism run in the
name of the working class. Available for $2/£1,50 from Collective
Action Notes, POB 22962, Baltimore, MD 21203. RED SKINS... Take a hard
left at SHARP and you come to RASH. Red and Anarchist Skinheads. RASH is
a loose international federation trying to organize local chapters of leftist
skinheads. From what I can tell from the web pages, RASH chapters vary;
some are more Marxist and others are more anarchist. They keep such diversity
together because they share a common working class traditional skinhead
culture as well as a common enemy; nazi boneheads. My only criticism is
that this red skin fighting nazi skin focus sometimes degenerates into
plain old gang warfare; the usual fill-in-the-blank boot boys vs. the fill-in-the-blank
skinheads gangbang bullshit. The main US RASH page is at http://www.geocities.com/CapitalHill/
Lobby/17531/ with email at firstname.lastname@example.org. There's a mirror RASH
page at http://mediaport.org/~rash containing somewhat different information.
Connections to red skin politics, music, football (soccer), local scenes,
events, even red straightedge. Important US RASH contacts are RASH Indy,
3756 Rockville Rd. Box 24, Indianapolis, IN 46222 and RASH NYC, POB 365
Canal St. Station, NY, NY 10013. Give capitalism the boot... WAY TO GO...
On March 6, 1998, accountant Matthew Beck arrived at work and shot four
of his bosses. Four executives of the Connecticut lottery, including the
president. Beck didn't target his fellow workers. He knew which way to
point his gun. Then he committed suicide as the cops closed in. If you
gotta go, take as many of the assholes with you as you can... PERSONAL
PROPAGANDA... I can be contacted at email@example.com. My book, End Time,
can be purchased from AK Press (POB 40682, SF, CA 94140-0682) for $10.
Keep sending me your newsworthy items and interesting news clippings c/o