Saturday 25 December 2010

Sunday 19 December 2010

Hope to be conquered

We are told about the disdain displayed by the US regime towards all the rest of the world, which should behave according to the directives given from Washington DC. If you are poor you still can be robbed even more, downtrodden, occupied, tortured, plagued with disease that should have disappeared from the earth ages ago.

We are told that the only person "they" can find responsible for the "leaks" at the moment and whom they could get hold of is being tortured.
We take it for granted, because we have been getting used to it.

Looking outside from a country that is ruled by a government proud to be to the right of the nazis I can only envy the Irish, Italians, Greeks, English... who still protest out on the streets even though the protests are stifled in legislation which quickly leads to the question: what is next?
Are you fighting for the hope that prevailed under so-called neoliberalism which is being trashed by the same neoliberal rulers these days?
There is a hope beyond this, but how can you describe it, let alone how can you try to reach its realisation for perhaps even a tiny part only.

Some thoughts to be read:
The riot is as much about dreams that have yet to become possible as they are over the loss of existing entitlements. There are hopes that lie dormant or hidden that speak of different ways of being; of different kinds of dreams and futures. The crisis of hope and the coming scarcity of the future for many people is a betrayal that makes possible a different kind of hope – a hope against hope, violently against aspiration and cold conformity.

Further reading.

Please have a look here too.

Tuesday 14 December 2010

Wednesday 8 December 2010

Why not give the World Service back its old and proper name?

Sometime in the late 'seventies I discovered a very loud and clear broadcasting station on the medium wave. The programme was the UK-top-20 presented by Paul Burnett. He used to do that on Luxembourg but I stopped listening, loyal as ever to Caroline that seemed to have grown up together with me.
I learned Mull of Kintyre had been kicked off the top spot by a Jamaican sounding tune the lyrics of which escaped me completely (still do not understand most of it), Up town top ranking, yet it was a pleasant dance floor number.
I developed the habit of listening to the news bulletins and some excellent reporting. BBC World Service made me a witness of the revolutions in Iran and Nicaragua, and was at the shipyards in Gdańsk a year later. Reporting struck me as being rather fair to all sides but not especially impartial: no-one shed a tear about the shah or Somoza or Gierek (had to look for that forgotten name...).

The World Service was not exclusively about news though. There were short sharp programmes on all kinds of music, it taught me a lot about classical music (ah! the days of the Greenfield Collection) and jazz and I heard familiar voices from the offshore radio days, like Paul Burnett and Tommy Vance and John Peel - Ian Anderson turned out to be not the Geronimo/RNI-man so my surprise about the loss of his Scots accent had no good foundation - and more... There were enjoyable other music presenters like Andy Kershaw and Charlie Gillett.
There were programmes on literature, religious broadcasting - especially in the days when there was no offshore alternative it was my main outside source of information.
Now I get the impression the BBC utters a sigh of relief about the death of Peel and Gillett. The last two remnants of better days.

Where and when did it go wrong?


Newsnight, Tuesday December 7th.
What actually motivates Julian Assange? Kirsty Wark quotes the Enemy of the World quoting Gustav Landauer:
The State is a condition, a certain relationship between human beings, a mode of behavior; we destroy it by contracting other relationships, by behaving differently toward one another... We are the state, and we shall continue to be the state until we have created the institutions that form a real community and society of men.

Since Modern High German can perfectly differentiate between Human Beings (Menschen) and Humans of the male gender (Männer) I bet this is a bad translation. Yet it is a lovely quotation from a specific religious anarchist, slaughtered by proto-nazis as more of them were.
With a face expressing the officially prescribed loathing Wark concludes Assange may be an anarchist. She turns to a specialist on political theory, studying anarchism, Carl Levy.
I know this man! They will not call me for an interview, I know that, but why him? Anyway, he did not have anything weighty to add, apart from giving the impression Assange might be an anarchist.
An anarchist wanted for sexual assault and rape. Wark works out the government sponsored Half Hour of Hate with an interview with the man behind a journalists organisation, Frontline, which harboured Assange until he went to the police station where he was locked up. We have been treated with the stories about this assault and rape and the only thing I can think is: cannot they keep that for themselves?
There is an air of police framing about this Two-in-One-Week love affair without any mutual love. Wark hammers on the rape accusation without mentioning what it seems to amount to and the Frontline man is pictured as a friend of a rapist.
Of course we are not supposed to think the Swedish accusation, which has been withdrawn by the prosecutor in Stockholm, to be re-opened by a colleague in Gothenburg for no apparent reason, is a framing operation to hand Assange over to the US regime.
Even though it is known one of his fake lovers was run by the CIA. This typically is not told by Wark either.


Apparently Newsnight is considered such a pinnacle of excellent journalism these days that I hear the rotten interviews again on The world today on the World Service in the morning. Another highlight is an item about a televangelist operating from a mosque somewhere in Yemen, preaching against Al-Qaida.
A TELEVANGELIST? You mean a pink skinned closet gay preaching hate of gay practice and forgiveness for the sinning gays? An adulterer whining about family values, drawing millions of listeners in YEMEN? At the World Service there is no-one willing to think of the use of a proper label for this preacher, a religiously sensible one. This obviously coincides with shamelessly using the words America and American whilst referring to the USA, especially to please all the listeners on a continent stretching from Green- to Fireland. Yeah love it or leave it.

My better half told me I should be attentive how US-biased news bulletins are nowadays.
It is not a sample yielding scientifically tenable results but for me it is telling enough: an analysis of two six minutes bulletins at 6am GMT on the World Service.

On December 7th there were two items in which the US or "America" were not mentioned. One about aspirin which prevents cancer. We heard that garbage before, is there no real news?
The other one was a landslide in Colombia, obviously in the US backyard but the victims are not being helped by the USA - at least, we are not told so. So two items without the US being mentioned.

On December the 8th there was an item on a taxi murder in South Africa. That's all.
All the other parts of both bulletins involved the opinion of a US minister, a US ambassador or the USA in general, or were about the USA.

In 1965 the British Empire Service had its name changed into BBC World Service.
It is high time the name Empire Service were properly revived.

Friday 26 November 2010

A wonderful description of spontaneous disorder from Guardian writer Laurie Penny (shame about using the word 'crusade' though).

Incredible irony that the key policy issue for Liberal Democrats (and one they had privately conceded even before entering the Con Dem Alliance) has become their first Achilles heel.

Thursday 25 November 2010

New Catholic Worker House in East London

The opening of the of the 'Guiseppe Conlon House' on November 22d was attended by around 200 people including a wide mix of refugees, advocates, punks, hippies, vicars, activists, lawyers, squatters, academics, Muslims, Christians, atheists, Buddhists, musicians, locals and internationals. The internationals introduced themselves in a welcoming ceremony with representatives from Outer Hebrides to Japan, Kosovo to France, and Sweden to Uganda among many others.

The house has already been functioning as a refuge for undocumented refugees and others in need of shelter and support, but the main building (originally a Methodist church, then taken over by Roman Catholics and more recently disused for two years) has now been officially opened both as a continuing shelter and as a community facility.

The new centre is named after Guiseppe Conlon, who was the father of Gerry Conlon, who at the age of 21 was one of the four Irish men wrongly convicted for the Guildford bombings in the early seventies. despite no connection to the IRA, and sound alibis for Gerry and one of the others, it took until 1989 for human rights lawyer Gareth Peirce to finally get them released, and another 16 years until the British government offered an apology when for political reasons Tony Blair made a surprisingly unreserved statement.

Gerry was beaten in police custody until he made false confessions implicating completely innocent members of his family, and as a result Guiseppe, an ex-marine, was arrested in London where he was trying to find a solicitor for his son. He was not a well man, and died, a convict, in prison in 1980. His widow Sarah was charged £3500 to fly his body home, and the home office billed her for his repatriation - his body was flown back and forth four times as the press shamed him, before he finally rested.

He was the only one from the Guildford Four, Birmingham Six, and Maguire Seven, who didn't live to be vindicated and see his freedom. his treatment remains a terrible blot in the dark history of Irish repression.

The Catholic Worker communities, as well as offering shelter to people suffering injustice and violence, are also pro-active in seeking out and confronting the roots of those injustices. Catholic workers have been involved in acts of challenging civil disobedience, and one of the organisers at the new centre was imprisoned for 13 months in the US for taking a hammer to a B-52 bomber. The hammer was returned on his release and was later used against BAE in the UK, returned once more, and used again in a recent ploughshares action.

After an opening welcome ceremony and a song from Irish singer/songwriter Joe Black, the human rights lawyer Gareth Peirce took the stage to wish the project well and to movingly describe her experience of the lies and corruption around the Guildford Four and Gerry Conlon's family, the Maguires, and Guiseppe.

After more music from local duo, Lovers Electric, Ciaron O'Reilly spoke more about the project and the difficulties he has faced as an anarchist catholic - untrusted by the left as a catholic and untrusted by the catholic establishment due to his anarchist way of doing things and his past incarcerations in various nations round the world for acts of non-violent civil disobedience.

Poet Stephen Hancock then provided some excellent conscious and political verse, before Angolan journalist, Rosario Miranda, spoke about the campaign for justice for Jimmy Mubenga. Jimmy was the man who during a forced deportation was killed at the hands of GS4 security aboard a passenger flight to Angola. Passengers, though concerned by the blood, his screams for help, and the violence of the guards, were either too intimidated or too disempowered to intervene. Rosario compared the media attention some woman got for putting a cat in a bin - the cat survived, the woman was hounded, she lost her job, she was prosecuted and she was vilified. In contrast, the GS4 officers remain in work, no-one was prosecuted, and the newspapers have forgotten the matter. He asked poignantly whether the cat was more precious than a black man?

Joe Black, who traveled from Dublin then provided a full set of songs, including a special one written to celebrate the opening and to commemorate Guiseppe Conlon, and finally local singer Raz ended the formal entertainment.

Before and after the timetabled events, there was a huge spread of donated food and drink, and more entertainment from the 'Bow Creek Ramblers String Band'.

The Guiseppe Conlon House intends to continue its work with homeless refugees, and to act as a hub for non-violent resistance to the war machine.

For more information, including news of the current campaign to close down the "army shop" recruiting centre in a shopping mall in Dalston, see the London Catholic Worker website.

Wednesday 24 November 2010

Nothing New: even baby cham and whispa bars are embarassing come-backs

A Police van trashed,

students scaling buildings and smashing office windows,

Librarians picketing outside schools,

Nurses re-entering unions,

Churches condemning government moral bankruptcy,

Exercise off the curriculum, fees on the syllabus,

Royal Wedding Fever buries real news of death tolls and immovable governments.

"What has been will be again,
   what has been done will be done again;
   there is nothing new under the sun." (Ecclesiastes 1: 9)

Especially if you vote for the fucking tories! 

Monday 8 November 2010

issue 22 and looking ahead to issue 23

Issue 22 has been posted out so if you were expecting a coy and haven't had it yet (and live in the UK) let me know. If you live in Europe or USA please give it another week and then let me know.

For future issues I intend to send pdf's only to people outside the UK as postage for internationals is becoming the lion-share of costs.

Issue 23
The next issue will be an art / cartoon extravaganza! So however great or humble your artwork please email me your contribution. I'm also looking for written reflection on iconic images within the Christian anarchist tradition.

Yeah! Dorothy Day is a real human being

Not being a Roman Catholic I do not like the idea of beatification of Dorothy Day, even though I respect the feelings of our Catholic brothers and sisters who would love to see her canonised. Remember, we are all called to saintly behaviour (even though we do not succeed - I remain a staunch Protestant in this respect).

There is one aspect of her biography which I specifically disliked: the sudden separation from her non-believing husband/man/partner (however you want to call him).
And now the indispensable Robert Ellsberg comes up with the story of Day who apparently still loved the man she seemed to have discarded for Rome.
For me it is a reason to rejoice a bit about her and put aside my feelings of doubt about the episode of her conversion.


Generally speaking, there is not much to say about the sex lives of the saints. Yes, they were great lovers of God, and if Bernini’s famous sculpture “St. Teresa in Ecstasy” is any evidence, one can appreciate that such love was not merely platonic. But what about passionate, erotic, physical love between flesh-and-blood humans? Even if one looked carefully at the lives of the virgin martyrs and the celibate monks, priests and religious who dominate the religious calendar, it would be hard to fill a page on the subject of sex and holiness.

New letters reveal the frank sexuality of a possible saint.

Robert Ellsberg

Generally speaking, there is not much to say about the sex lives of the saints. Yes, they were great lovers of God, and if Bernini’s famous sculpture “St. Teresa in Ecstasy” is any evidence, one can appreciate that such love was not merely platonic. But what about passionate, erotic, physical love between flesh-and-blood humans? Even if one looked carefully at the lives of the virgin martyrs and the celibate monks, priests and religious who dominate the religious calendar, it would be hard to fill a page on the subject of sex and holiness.

There is St. Augustine, who writes about his youthful search for “some object for my love.” In different forms and persons, including his mistress of many years, he evidently found it. But in every case Augustine wants to show how the “clear waters” of love were invariably spoiled by the “black rivers of lust.” Augustine describes his relationship with his unnamed mistress, the mother of his son, in these unflattering terms: “In those days I lived with a woman, not my lawful wedded wife, but a mistress whom I had chosen for no special reason but that my restless passions had alighted on her.”

Dorothy and Forster

It is striking to compare Augustine’s treatment with a similar passage in The Long Loneliness, the memoir of Dorothy Day, the American-born co-founder of the Catholic Worker. There she introduces the story of her love affair with Forster Batterham, and the role he played in hastening her spiritual journey: “The man I loved, with whom I entered into a common-law marriage, was an anarchist, an Englishman by descent, and a biologist.” They met at a party in Greenwich Village in the early 1920s and soon thereafter began to live together—as she put it, “in the fullest sense of the phrase”—in a house on Staten Island.

Among their bohemian set there was nothing scandalous about such a relationship. It was evidently Dorothy who liked to think of it as a “common-law marriage.” For Forster, who never masked his scorn for the “institution of the family,” their relationship was simply a “comradeship.” Nevertheless, she loved him “in every way.” As she wrote: “I loved him for all he knew and pitied him for all he didn’t know. I loved him for the odds and ends I had to fish out of his sweater pockets and for the sand and shells he brought in with his fishing. I loved his lean cold body as he got into bed smelling of the sea and I loved his integrity and stubborn pride.”

Wait a minute! Day is here describing, without any hint of Augustine’s obligatory shame or regret, her physical relationship with a man to whom she was not married. Needless to say, she was not yet a Catholic. Yet her point is to show how this lesson in love, this time of “natural happiness,” as she called it, awakened her thirst for an even greater happiness. She began to pray during her walks and started to attend Mass. This religious impulse was strengthened when she discovered she was pregnant—an event that inspired a sense of gratitude so large that only God could receive it. With that came the determination that she would have her child baptized, “come what may.”

As a dedicated anarchist, Forster would not be married by either church or state. And so to become a Catholic, Dorothy recognized, would mean separating from the man she loved. “It got to the point where it was the simple question of whether I chose God or man.” Ultimately, painfully, she chose God. In December 1927 she forced Forster to leave the house. That month she was received into the church.

The New Letters

So goes the familiar story recounted in her memoir. But it is not the whole story. In editing Day’s personal letters, All the Way to Heaven, I was astonished to read an extraordinary collection of letters to Forster dating from 1925, soon after their first meeting, until December 1932, the eve of her new life in the Catholic Worker.

The early letters certainly reflect the passionate love described in The Long Loneliness. In her first letter she writes: “I miss you so much. I was very cold last night. Not because there wasn’t enough covers but because I didn’t have you.” In the next, “I think of you much and dream of you every night and if my dreams could affect you over long distance, I am sure they would keep you awake.” Separated for some weeks, she writes Forster: “My desire for you is a painful rather than pleasurable emotion. It is a ravishing hunger which makes me want you more than anything in the world and makes me feel as though I could barely exist until I saw you again...I have never wanted you as much as I have ever since I left, from the first week on, although I’ve thought before that my desires were almost too strong to be borne.”

The letters skip over the time of Tamar’s birth and Dorothy’s conversion, but after her parting from Forster they resume with poignant intensity. Despite the implication in Dorothy’s memoir that her conversion had marked an end, once and for all, to their relationship, this was far from the case. In fact, the letters continue for another five years, as Dorothy pleaded, cajoled and prayed that Forster would give up his stubbornness and consent to marry her.

In vain, she assured him that he would be “involving [himself] in nothing” if he married her. “Religion would be obtruded on you in no way except that you would have to see me go to church once a week, and five times a year on various saints’ days. I would have nothing around the house to jar upon you—no pictures and books. I am really not obsessed as you think I am.”

At times she could not hide her frustration: “Do I have to be condemned to celibacy all my days, just because of your pig-headedness? Damn it, do I have to remind you that Tamar needs a father?” Her tone fluctuated between tenderness and bitter reproach: “I am not restrained when I am lying in your arms, am I? You know I am not a promiscuous creature in my love.... But it is all so damned hopeless that I do hope I fall in love again and marry since there seems to be no possibility for a happy outcome to our love for each other.”

By the fall of 1932 Dorothy was living in New York. In December she traveled to Washington, D.C., to cover the Hunger March of the Unemployed. There on the feast of the Immaculate Conception, she offered a prayer that God would show her some way to combine her Catholic faith and her commitment to social justice. Immediately afterward she would meet Peter Maurin, the French peasant philosopher who would inspire her to launch the Catholic Worker and whose ideas would dominate the rest of her life. Whether there was any relation between the opening of this new door and the decision finally to close the door on her hope of marrying Forster, Dorothy’s letter to him of Dec. 10 would be her last for many years.

After describing her strong commitment to the prohibition of sex outside of marriage, she writes: “The ache in my heart is intolerable at times, and sometimes for days I can feel your lips upon me, waking and sleeping. It is because I love you so much that I want you to marry me.” Nevertheless, she concluded: “It all is hopeless of course, tho [sic] it has often seemed to me a simple thing. Imaginatively I can understand your hatred and rebellion against my beliefs and I can’t blame you. I have really given up hope now, so I won’t try to persuade you anymore.”

But even this did not mark the end of their relationship. Over the years they remained connected through Tamar. There would be friendly notes, the exchange of gifts and visits in the hospital. In Dorothy’s final years Forster took to calling every day. He was present at her funeral in 1980, and later at a memorial Mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral.

More Fully Human

So what, in the end, do these newly published letters reveal? They certainly confirm the deep, passionate love described in Dorothy’s memoir, thus underscoring the incredible sacrifice she endured for the sake of her faith. That sacrifice lay at the heart of her vocation; it was the foundation for a lifetime of courage, perseverance and dedication. It marked her deep sense of the heroic demands of faith. But in no sense did it represent a conflict in her mind between “merely” human love and “higher” religious aspirations. “I could not see that love between man and woman was incompatible with love of God,” she wrote. And if she had had her way, she would have embraced a happy family life with Forster and the many children she dreamed of.

Although, as Dorothy reported, some of her radical friends insinuated that her turn to God was because she was “tired of sex, satiated, disillusioned,” her true feelings were quite different. “It was because through a whole love, both physical and spiritual, I came to know God.”

If Dorothy Day is one day canonized, these letters will provide a fairly unusual resource. They serve to remind us, if that were necessary, that saints are fully human—perhaps, as Thomas Merton put it in Life and Holiness, more fully human: “This implies a greater capacity for concern, for suffering, for understanding, for sympathy, and also for humor, for joy, for appreciation for the good and beautiful things of life.”

Dorothy considered her love for Forster to be one of the primary encounters with grace in her life, one for which she never ceased to rejoice. That insight and that witness are among her many gifts.


Some letters - it may look like voyeurism, but it may also be comforting for the doubtful...

Sunday 24 October 2010

London Anarchist Bookfair

Michael Albert was said to be the big name speaker at this year's London Anarchist Bookfair. One could give him credit for consitency - he is saying the same things and telling the same anecdotes (the left is out of touch with reality and won't even go to football games) that he has for years. His vision for a particpatory economy was hopeful but a bit old-school and when gently challenged by a primitivist he showed no desire to enter into sensible conversation. Shame.

There were talks about the Con-Dem cuts, a debate on Chomsky between a Peace activist and a radical anthropologist, a great talk by Milan Rai on deconstructing Gandhi and much more.

As ever with these events the highlight is wandering the stalls meeting old friends and making new ones. The London Catholic Worker's had a stall full of home made organic preserves, t-shirts and books. The Cunningham Ammendment were as hospitable as ever and it was great to see Jonathan from Anarchist Voices and Alex Christoyanoupolos with Anarchist Studies Network.

The bookfair gets bigger year-on-year and this year there were around 100 stalls so thousands of visitors, many new to the fair. And of course a wild-eyed, suited and booted Christian stood outside rantily denouncing us to fast moving traffic.

Wednesday 20 October 2010

London Anarchist Bookfair

This weekend. Post here if you are going to the London Anarchist Bookfair and would like to meet up.

Monday 11 October 2010

Diggers Agape

Diggers’ Agape
“The earth is the common treasury of all”
(Gerrard Winstanley)
Sunday November 7th
5.00-6.00pm Barton Street Methodist Church,
Barton Street, Gloucester GL1 4EN

From 4.00pm bring ingredients which we will put together for a shared meal and worship at 5.00pm – or just come at 5.00pm.

 All ingredients should be from the “common treasury” i.e. either food you have grown yourselves, or gathered locally (not bought).

Or you could bring something else from the commons to share -  a song, a poem, a piece of art, a story or just yourself.

Wednesday 6 October 2010

Future Dutch government proud to be to the right of the nazis

The hunting parties in France directed at Roma have faded from the news. Quite probably there is still need to be alarmed. But then, do we know a place in Europe that is providing good or hopeful news these days?
The new parliamentary season in Iceland started with the members having to run the gauntlet, around one per cent of the population of the island republic attending in the demonstration. The xenophobes in Sweden were left out of the government, that is still a consoling piece of news. Standards have been lowered rather drastically. Still two countries to escape to. Perhaps the Isles west of the North Sea might be an option too.

Hope has been given to us for the sake of the hopeless. The Roma. Those about to be on the losing side because of the "austerity measures" planned by the several European regimes - the poor who will be getting poorer since riches only look good if there are enough poor not enjoying the spoils of imperialism. The European Muslims, main aim of xenophobia, apart from the Roma. Apart from the wars the North Atlantic Treaty Organization is performing in such typically Atlantic countries as Afghanistan and Pakistan. Iran is next on the list.

These are rather strange days in the Netherlands. The so-called Christian-democratic party - resembling a real old style Eastern European communist party since its earliest days - has decided to form a government together with xenophobe extraordinaire Wilders - a one man party filling a sixth of the seats in the Second Chamber ("the Commons"). Yes, it is incredible, he has not got a party, only 23 obedient followers who take their time calling names to everyone they consider to be on the left or Muslim or both. A good partner for Christian Democrats. If all will still end in the regular way this will be the good thing about this episode: the end of these hypocrites in power and the end of that party in general. Yet there is no light at the end of this tunnel we in this country have not even entered yet.

The hunt is on.The most important this government has to decide immediately is prohibiting wearing burqas. There are about two thousand women in NL wearing this piece of garment, so this is an important matter as you will agree. Furthermore there will be tough measures against any immigrant from "non-western" countries who might still think it a good idea to enter the Netherlands. I can assure you, it was not and it will be even less. Highway speeding will be up, state support for the arts will be scrapped (they are left wing hobbies, we are told, even though NL has never had anything like a left wing government in the first place). Official education will teach that Muslims organized the "holocaust" and that Hitler was a socialist. This regime is proud to be on the right to the nazis.

Well, you have been informed for the time being. As illustrations I chose a "autochthonous" actress demonstratively wearing a headscarf telling she belongs to the "hard-headed" people.
The other day a male journalist put on a burqa in the southern city of Eindhoven and went his way through the mad shopping crowd. "They ought to be shot" was about the first and gentlest of responses he got. So I leave you now with two French female political science students who ventured on the busy streets of Paris combining a niqab with hot pants. More on their findings here.

Tuesday 21 September 2010

Jesus Radicals

The merger between Jesus Manifesto and Jesus Radicals has taken place now, so a final salute to the JM logo and a welcome to the new Jesus Radicals.

Wednesday 15 September 2010

State and anti-capital

I want to share this short blog comment from Free Dissent here because of a couple of recent conversations.

There's a bloke - nice bloke - called Graham, who's been along to some of a few of the recent Christianity and Anarchism conferences and after each one I hear back third hand criticism of them from him.

His most recent criticism was of the conference at the gathering held at the London Catholic Worker Farmhouse. Undaunted by the fact that he wasn't even there he told one of the organisers that that there wasn't enough anti-capitalist at the event.

I know that in some of the small groups our conversations about emotional attachment to the state led naturally to finding ways to challenge the current economic system - alternatives to insurance, pensions, and the health service were discussed and some people shared examples from their own experience (not me!).

Graham is going to host a conference on Christianity and anti-capitalism, or so Adam Dickson tells me. Great idea: let a thousand flowers bloom. As soon as I get the details they'll be posted up here.

But a caveat from Free Dissent.

One reason why anti-capitalists NEED to be anarchists.

Capitalism needs the State to survive. Remove the State and Capitalism will die. Damn all forms of coercion. However, markets are independent from capitalism. Equating voluntary trade and mutual aid (such as barter) with state monopoly capitalism is false. Capitalism is industrial feudalism backed up by the guns of the State. The forcible transfer of wealth from the masses to the politically connected elite. This is why the Soviet system was nothing but state capitalism

It isn't enough to be an anti-capitalist as one can easily be such and still rely on the coercion of the state. It's tempting after all to lobby the state to coerce us into not being fascists, or into professionalising / depersonalising care. But this is just socialism or state communism. Like Conservatism and Liberalism these ideologies have been thoroughly tested and found wanting.

So you anti-capitalists: why not try anarchism. Because you're worth it. .... x

Tuesday 7 September 2010

London Catholic Worker

Three Christian peace activists were arrested at AWE Aldermaston after opening the base for disarmament.

Fr.Martin Newell (43), Passionist Priest from the London Catholic Worker, Susan Clarkson (63) of the Oxford Catholic Worker, and Chris Cole (47) father of three - also from Oxford, cut a doorway into the outer fence of nuclear base. The group then attached a sign saying ‘Open for Disarmament: All Welcome’.

The three then entered the base, through the new gateway knelt and prayed.

In a statement the three said: “We come to the Atomic Weapons Establishment at Aldermaston to open a new gateway into this tightly guarded factory of death. We come inspired by the message of Jesus to love our enemies, to be peacemakers and to live act nonviolently at all times."

All three have been involved in several non-violent direct actions and been jailed as a result over the years and have their prophetic witness rooted in their personal commitment to marginalised people in their own communities.

Susan and Martin have been part of the Christian anarchist conferences over the years. Chris Cole is Director of the Fellowship of Reconciliation, based in Oxford.

Monday 6 September 2010

Notes from a future pariah state

A beautiful Saturday afternoon in a small provincial town.. That’s how you are supposed to call it, but a glance on the map of Holland (the western part of the Netherlands) shows one urban agglomeration form North to South, from Haarlem to beyond Delft. This part of Holland actually is one large urban area with some rectangle patches of green jotted in between, nonsensically named The Green Heart, “the dunes” and some more.
In this small town most people know each other, which gives it a village feel. The adjacent street terraces are crowded and there is continuous mutual greeting going on. I do not exactly know how we fit into this, but we do not feel excluded. With a goblet of Augustine triple in the sun the world does not look all that bad.

Yet we are discussing the seriousness of the situation in NL. A party seems to be coming to power which yearns for Guantánamo-style concentration camps, which wants to ban the Book of about a million faithful (and more, since I want to be able to read the Qur’an too), a party expressing loads of contempt for some of these faithful who are covering their hair which the party pretends to be able to tax (“headragtax”), and much more. The Netherlands can easily and perhaps inevitably become a pariah state in Europe. Since the fourteenth century this river delta country has depended mostly on trade and so the ruling class should prevent the xenophobic crowd from coming to power. After a long time of commitment to anarchism I will have to count on the ruling class to protect me...

We are seriously discussing the possibility of having to emigrate and ask for asylum somewhere, in the near future.. What exactly seems to indicate the danger? In any police state you can sit perfectly on a pavement and drink in the sun, you only should not talk too loud about certain things. The above-mentioned one man xenophobic “party” wants a special state brigade that shoots on sight those “everyone knows to be the wrong types”. And at night you may expect the bang on the door. It is the leftists wot brought the mooslims over here, you see, and now NL is shaking off sixty years of lefty dictatorship, that is his story. History is what he makes of it. Escaping to – Germany, Sweden, Britain, Ireland – in Belgium a similar party seems to be just a hair’s width from state power too. You hardly can imagine you have to consider these things seriously.

How to explain NL A.D. 2010 to non-Dutch? That a sixth of the electorate feels attracted to a man with a baby head and a bleached coiffure wanting to resemble images of Mozart? Not a charismatic man with a dangerously attractive twinkle in his eyes like Fortuijn – it was not a reason to vote for him but you could imagine people being charmed by him. The baby head is only grouching in parliament, supported financially from Tel Aviv and dubious so-called think tanks in the USA. Chewing the rag is a favourite pastime for quite a lot of Dutch. A friend who escaped southward a long time ago described this typical Dutch mentality as “badgering is obligatory, hitting is forbidden.” The moooslims will be badgered, it does not matter if it be legally allowed or not, someone has to be the main object of badgering. A sixth of Dutch voters thinks this is a way to live life to the full. And if one may believe the opinion polls their numbers are rising all the time. And badgering is bad enough, but will that be all in the future?

Two men dressed in jellaba put away their bikes near the café where we sit outside. They walk along, seemingly to the mosque, wherever that may be, there is no minaret in sight. In the neighbourhood in which I grew up the building of the pes control service has been turned into amosque without much external changes to the building. Humiliating muslims “in finibus” is not a new feature of the Netherlands. I notice there are quite a few men passing by, dressed like this along the pavement. It is ramadan, how could I forget.. Nobody takes notice of them, maybe I am the only person sitting outside giving them any thought. What is there to worry about?

And then there is a female passer-by attracting many glances. High-heeled, wearing a tube skirt reaching just under her knees. Her pantyhose may be flesh-coloured or absent, I cannot tell. She radiates elegance not in tune with sitting outside a café in the sun, but that would not necessarily attract attention. Her hair is the remarkable thing about her.
Her hair is completely packed in a knot, covered y a piece of textile generally called a bandana, a headscarf. The muslim headscarf. The young woman puts on a sullen look – if she knows her way around she must know there are three cafés in a row with pavement arrangements, crowded in the sun, and she is bound to know she will draw attention. Her whole look is giving out a statement and it must be purposeful, even though she puts some anger on her face. In bigger towns it can be seen increasingly – young women combining the muslim headscarf with miniskirts, yet they will wear dark tights. It is a remarkable appearance. These girls to me embody the hope that all may still be well with the Netherlands, even thought the usual cantankerous types will not enjoy it at all.

We had been spending some time in a news free zone, back in the world we hear that the “Brown” coalition of so-called liberals, so-called christian-democrats and fundamentalist protestants with the fascists seems to have been blown off by the Blonde Xenophobe himself. I do not know if that really is a relief.
To quote a famous Dutch hymn: There will be lots of struggle ahead.

Crossing the line "in a time of war"

A federal grand jury in Tacoma has indicted five anti-war protesters, including prominent members of the anti-nuclear-weapons movement, on charges of conspiracy, trespass and destruction of government property for entering a secure area at the Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor complex last November.

The charges carry penalties of up to 10 years in federal prison.

The indictment names two well-known Jesuit priests — 81-year-old William Bichsel, of Tacoma; and 60-year-old Stephen Kelly, of Oakland, Calif. — and two nuns belonging to the Society of the Sacred Heart, 83-year-old Anne Montgomery, of New York; and 65-year-old Susan Crane, of Baltimore. The fifth defendant is Bremerton social worker Lynne T. Greenwald, 60.

The five are accused of using bolt cutters Nov. 2 to breach three chain-link fences surrounding the so-called Main Limited Area of the base, which is home to part of the Pacific nuclear submarine fleet. That area is patrolled by armed guards, who confronted the invaders at gunpoint, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney's Office.

"All citizens are free to disagree with their government," said U.S. Attorney Jenny Durkan. "But they are not free to destroy property or risk the safety of others."

Durkan said the group — dubbed the "Bangor 5" in the news release — entered the naval base "during a time of war" and went into an area clearly marked as off-limits.

"They endangered themselves and prompted military personnel, who are duty-bound to guard the area, to quickly make a decision over the use of force," Durkan said. "These defendants quite literally cross the line and must be held accountable."

According to news accounts, several of the defendants have been arrested for, or charged with, similar actions over the years.

Montgomery spent time in jail in the 1980s after she and other protesters breached security at Martin-Marietta Aerospace Corp.'s defense plant in Orlando, Fla. Court documents indicate they entered a building where they "hammered and poured blood onto both nuclear and conventional missile launchers and components belonging to the United States Army."

She recently accepted the 40th annual Peace Award of the War Resisters League — an honor she now shares with Father Daniel Berrigan, the Jesuit war protester who was jailed in the 1960s and co-founded the anti-war and anti-nuclear Plowshares Movement.


Further reading (for example), video.

Wednesday 25 August 2010

Bristol Anarchist Bookfair: meet-up?

Hidden Costs of modern life

Reading this article reminded me that the Marxist understanding of cost and value needs to be developed in away that Marx just wasn't aware of but is vital to our peak oil times.

Free Dissent writes:

"Mutualists (or non-vulgar market anarchists) accept that products have natural values. Each product on average commands a certain amount of time and energy to produce. The average amount of labor put into a product directly determines its cost. For example, technology and labor-saving devices have made farming much more efficient to produce. Due to this, food is more abundant and cheap. Producing 500 apples requires a lot less labor today compared to 300 years ago. This is exactly why the natural value of an apple is much lower today than in the past. The Labor Theory of Value helps explain this very clearly. It is the natural values of varying products that drive the economic engine."

Before going into the dynamics of cost and value it is important to flag up the problem of hidden cost. This makes no difference to the thrust of the article quoted above but it matters anyway. We think that by reducing labour and relying instead on machinery we are reducing cost but all that happens is we are hiding several costs that involve less labour and land: the production of fossil fuels.

Finding, processing, and delivering fossil fuels are not part of the hidden costs. The farmer pays money for these things and has to make them balance. But the millions of years forming gas, oil, and coal are real costs that are not included. Likewise the future costs to the farmer of changes in climate due to use of fossil fuels is not calculated - these are costs hidden in the future.

I sat in the pub sith someone the otehr day who said -as though it was a given - that we tend to ever greater efficiency therefore supermarkets must be more efficient that community agricultre. But that's because our inefficient, or costs, are hidden under the ground and in the air.

Thus the profit margin is increased efficiently. Ta da!

Okay, now we can think about surplus labour...

Thursday 19 August 2010

Protest against nuclear weapons plant under construction

Singing choruses of “We shall not be moved” while scattering sunflower seeds, 14 activists were arrested in Kansas City, Missouri, Aug. 16 after blocking an earth moving vehicle on the site of a proposed nuclear weapons manufacturing facility.

The acts of civil disobedience came at the end of a three-day conference which drew peace activists here from around the nation. The efforts were aimed at building awareness of and resistance to the construction of the weapons plant, which will replace an existing plant here.

The new plant, which will make non-nuclear parts for nuclear weapons, is set to be the US' first new major nuclear weapons production facility in 32 years.

Before their arrest the protesters walked onto a soybean field being plowed by several earth moving vehicles as part of the plant building preparation effort. The group, walking in a single file, held hands; some carried large signs. They approached and surrounded one of the vehicles, forcing the driver to stop her work, and eventually leading 20 other vehicles to halt theirs as well.

After about a 45 minute shut down, police arrived, announcing the protesters had two minutes to leave the privately-owned grounds. The flurry of activity stopped all work at the site for over an hour.

In a statement to the press before they began their action, the activists called the new facility a “crime against peace” and a “crime against humanity.”

This is the second time that people have been arrested for civil disobedience to the plant in two months. On Aug. 6 a local activist, Jane Stoever, was sentenced to eight hours of community service for having blocked the entrance to the current facility, known simply as the Kansas City Plant. Her action took place in June.

Currently a part of the Bannister Federal Complex, located about 13 miles south of the city’s downtown area, the Kansas City Plant is responsible for the production and assembly of approximately 85 percent of the non-nuclear components for the U.S. nuclear arsenal. The plant is due to be relocated in 2012 to the “more modern facility.”

The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), a division of the U.S. Department of Energy, has said the new facility will carry an estimated price tag of $673 million for construction and $1.2 billion over the next 20 years.
Activists Joshua Armfield and Gina Cook of Kansas City, Mo. link arms while blocking a construction vehicle working on the new Kansas City Plant facility Aug. 16.Activists Joshua Armfield and Gina Cook of Kansas City, Mo. link arms while blocking a construction vehicle working on the new Kansas City Plant facility Aug. 16.
Coming from 15 states and three countries by bus, train, airplane, and caravan, anti-nuclear activists gathered here to attend the weekend conference leading up to the civil disobedience in a local Methodist church.

Recalling her 30 years working at the current site of the nuclear weapons facility, Barbara Rice told those in attendance that she had lost count of how many of her colleagues had died of cancer after 110 passed away from various kinds of the illnesses.

While she said she couldn’t prove that the deaths were related to chemical exposure at the current facility, Rice remembered one instance when a pipe burst at the plant and her supervisors told her to “go home immediately and destroy her clothes.”

At the same event, Jay Coghlan, executive director of the watchdog group Nuclear Watch New Mexico, said the new plant in Kansas City is only one of several projects underway to increase U.S. nuclear weapons production capability.

Coghlan said that while the international community thinks the U.S. is working towards nuclear disarmament, "the reality is that we’re building 3 new sites: one to process uranium, one to process plutonium, and one to create the non-nuclear parts of the weapons such as triggers and fuses.”

The three sites Coghlan referred to are the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee, the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico and the new Kansas City Plant.

While the new facility in Kansas City is expected to continue production of non-nuclear parts for nuclear weapons, the Chemistry and Metallurgy Research Replacement Project at Los Alamos plans to increase U.S. capability to produce plutonium pits, the core of a nuclear weapon, according to Coghlan. Meanwhile, the facility at Oak Ridge plans to reinvest in its capability to produce uranium components for the weapons.

In the original proposal for the Kansas City project, CenterPoint Zimmer LLC — the company which won the bidding process to design and build the plant for the NNSA — said the new facility would simply modernize operations for nuclear weapons parts production while ensuring the continued employment of “a minimum of 2,100 workers at the campus in good ‘quality jobs.’ ”

The day before the arrests the activists visited the two Kansas City Plant sites for prayer and reflection.

After walking with the rest of the activists on the side of a busy street where the current plant is located, Japanese native-born Mercedarian Sr. Filo Hirota told those gathered that she envisioned a new world order in which the “principle of nonviolence is translated into the way how the world is organized.”

Hirota, who is the international relations officer for the Catholic Council for Justice and Peace of the Episcopal Conference of Japan, asked in a prayer following her brief talk for an economy “that creates communion in equal and just relationships.”

Arriving in a caravan at the field where the new facility for the nuclear weapons plant is under construction, activists came together there near idle bulldozers where they blessed the land and asked forgiveness in view of its future use.

Tom Kascoli, a Native American of Apache and Navajo background, blessed each of the assembled, waving an eagle’s feather over a burning sage stick while chanting a prayer in his native tongue.
[National Catholic Reporter]

Friday 6 August 2010

A thought for the day, August 6th

This is an elaboration of an introduction I wrote earlier on, elsewhere. It is in the spirit of Herbert Marcuse's One dimensional man, a book that deals in its entirety about the unbearable situation of living "as if normal" whilst the human-made death of all of humanity is being prepared. The metaphors of generation etcetera fulfill a certain ideological function: it further "normalizes" living alongside mass murder. Also cf. "sitting duck" and "barrel of fish" as references to the bombing drones.

Until I started writing this piece I did not know about a "mother of the bomb".
Killing machines apparently also have cousins and other family members.

When you ask the internet search engine for the “father of the bomb” you get the incredible result of around six million hits. One of the first results you may get reads: “Trinity and the birth of the bomb”, which indeed goes on about the “father of the bomb”. There is a good chance you will accuse the writer of the text you now see of blasphemy when you are kindly reminded of the combination of the words trinity, birth and father. Words used in connection with a device that killed about a hundred thousand people in one instant, and another hundred thousand in the slow aftermath of the bombing of Hiroshima.

When such a combination yields about six million hits this must mean “we” have accomodated to these weapons. Generally they are called weapons of mass destruction these days, which refers to damage done to buildings and other lifeless things. You do not hear the phrase weapons of mass killing. And apparently “we” accept the idea of these weapons “having been born”, they have “a father” and they have to be modernized once in a while. Then we hear about the next “generation of nuclear bombs” (about one hundred thousand hits in the search engine). Born, father, generation – all words referring to life, the ending of which is the specific aim of these weapons. If you think it unfair that the “mother of the bomb” is not mentioned you are right: she “only” gets three million hits in the search engine.

Since it refers to an insect it probably will be even harder to see the full obscenity of a killing device, the unmanned aerial vehicle, named drone. The main task of drones, male bees, is indeed: fathering. We are up to see a new generation of drones, which will be more stealthy than the present day unmanned killing device.

Let us be aware that bombs and unmanned bombing devices are directed against fathers and mothers, against those who are born and against generations. And let us remember that the most obscene about these things is still not the words used about them. It is the fact that they exist at all, that they are used or that using them is even being considered.

Thursday 5 August 2010

Slaughtering anarchists by the myriads

A story that came across to me by chance, as it goes with the net. It is not "news". But it is a story that leaves you devastated in the metaphorical sense. And it is fitting to this season of
remembrance .

The commission estimates at least 100,000 people were executed, in a South Korean population of 20 million. That estimate is based on projections from local surveys and is "very conservative," said Kim. The true toll may be twice that or more, he told The Associated Press."

In 1945, as the Japanese Empire finally went into retreat, the Korean people were left without an occupational authority for the first time in decades. In that brief moment something amazing happened. The Korean Anarchists, long the champions of the resistance struggle, came out of the woodwork and formed a nationwide federation of village and workers councils to oversee a massive project of land reform. Korea graduated from feudalism overnight. Aside from some struggles with the Socialists and Nationalists, the peninsula was at peace.

When WWII concluded, however, the "responsibility" of securing peace and order in Korea was assigned to the Americans and Soviets. By all accounts in this instance the US actually had no imperialist intentions. While the Soviets moved quickly to deploy their forces and occupy the North, the Americans took their time showing up, and were largely content to let the South Koreans manage themselves.

The Koreans, culturally steeped with anti-authoritarian values, were fond of America and openly despised the Soviets. While a few socialists fled North hoping that the Soviets would give them a hand against the Anarchists, they were overwhelmed in numbers by a mass migration south. Everyone assumed the Americans would assist or at least respect their autonomy.

This did not last.

The Americans Military commanders who eventually arrived had trouble understanding or dealing with the anarchy they found. They had no protocol for dealing with regional federations and autonomous communes. So they helped the dispossessed aristocracy form a military government. In order to make the map "simple." In order to "get things under hand."

Most importantly they did not understand that the Korean Anarchists and Anti-Authoritarian activists that saturated the countryside were different than--and in fact vehemently opposed to--the Communists, going so far as to organized and launch insurrectionary attacks on the Soviet Occupation before the Americans arrived.

The Americans couldn't understand "anarchists". But "leftists", they knew, meant Soviets. And they had the gall to ignore or resist their puppet military government. So they started killing them.

By the start of the Korean War, the slaughter was in full swing. Having arrested every anarchist organizer or sympathetic peasant they could get their hands on, they started executing them en masse.

The Korean Anarchist movement was, historically, one of the strongest in the world. It survived half a century of brutal occupation and economic exploitation. It survived a three way assault by the Chinese, Japanese and Soviets. It has survived many, many massacres and exterminations. It is even still around today. So strong that in the last few years they've been known to evict the police from the streets. But the worst injury it ever suffered was initiated and orchestrated by the United States military. In a single campaign so horrific it borders on genocide.

This was truly, objectively, one of the worst things the US has ever done. And there are some big ffing contenders.

Most North Aamerican papers ran front-page stories this Monday about the latest mass graves being uncovered while I was riding the "Empire Builder" from St. Paul to Portland. I found a copy wedged between Amtrak seat cushions. And there was an ancient photo of piled corpses as far as the eye could see. The papers euphemistically used the term "leftists." But I know the history, I did the research.

They were almost all anarchists.

However lovely America may be. Remember, the US government is not our friend. It will never be. It can never be.

(Written May 2008 by William Gillis).

Tuesday 27 July 2010

Youtube channel for the blog

Because of the new short videos from the conference I've started up a youtube channel to partner this blog.

You might also want to check out Anarchist Voices which shows short interviews with British Anarchists. It comes from the editor of the magazine of the same name (formerly Total Liberty)

Thursday 22 July 2010

Food speculation

In The Great Hunger Lottery, the World Development Movement has compiled extensive evidence establishing the role of food commodity derivatives in destabilising and driving up food prices around the world. This in turn, has led to food prices becoming unaffordable for low-income families around the world, particularly in developing countries highly reliant on food imports.

Nowhere was this more clearly seen than during the astonishing surge in staple food prices over the course of 2007-2008, when millions went hungry and food riots swept major cities around the world. The great hunger lottery shows how this alarming episode was fueled by the behaviour of financial speculators, and describes the terrible immediate impacts on vulnerable families around the world, as well as the long term damage to the fight against global poverty.

In the report we describe how the current situation came to pass, the risks of another speculation induced food crisis, and what specifically can be done by policymakers here in the UK as well as in the US and EU to tackle the problem.
To download the report.

You are requested to call the FSA - we are even giving you an example how to do it - on food speculation.

Monday 19 July 2010

What if...

Years ago I published a manifesto in which I tried to elaborate what would have happened, had "we", the anarchists, "won" in Spain, somewhere in the late 'thirties. The manifesto was taken over by a zine and that was more or less it - I never read any other thoughts about this matter.

One good reason why this would have been impossible - apart from the fact that it turned out to be impossible because it did not happen - would be that "anarchism in one state" is a logical impossibility. That is one of the reasons why anarchism looks like a long term project: as long as there is still one state the whole of humanity is not free.
(It need not be: the miracle - something we can watch and wonder about, the original meaning of "miracle" - might happen - without optimism no anarchism. Or no Christianity, for that matter).

But "we" had won in Spain.
First "we" had to do away with the fascists. Obviously. The liberals should be silenced too.
Then the social democrats, the bolsheviks and the trotskyists had to be dealt with.
Of course the Roman Catholics still standing behind the episcopate and the Vatican could not be spared.
Then unfortunately "we" would have to deal with all these dissident anarchists who did not like the way all the enemies were treated.

Can you imagine an anarchist police state, a concentration camp at the size of a country which had not even done away with its African colonies too? Not immediately granting independence to these colonies was the main mistake of the Spanish republic - which is hardly ever mentioned since imperialism and racism are so very much taken for granted as normal.

The defeat in the Civil War spared "us" from the horrible reality of anarchism in one country.
But again, it could not have gone any other way.
The relative blessing of defeat.

Anarchism is a set of ideas about ordering human society in the broadest sense of the word. It is not one set of ideas. Peter Maurin has an idea about the solution of the Social Question different from Peter Kropotkin's, not to mention John Zerzan or Murray Bookchin.
Apart form being about order it is very much an idea about justice. Alex Christoyannopoulos makes this very clear in Christian anarchism.
Simply put: "Do unto others as you would have others do unto you" goes for anarchists in general, whether religious (Christian) or not. It cannot be any other way, because if you do not adhere to the Golden Rule you cease to be an anarchist.
Thinking about the consequences of an "anarchist victory" forces to think of it as a victory for humanity, not for "anarchy", "anarchism" and certainly not for "anarchists". Christian or not, it makes no difference.


Friday 16 July 2010

About being counted out

Praise for Alex Christoyannopoulos' Christian anarchism. It is the first (and hence) the best in its kind. No doubt about it and I shall give a review elsewhere and perhaps over here too (I know it has been reviewed already, but a second, third [or more] time will not do any harm).

Yet - I was a bit upset about the idealtypischen Christian anarchist Alex sketches in his summing up chapter.
Christian anarchist thought is (..) a unique form of anarchist thought, The main difficulty for other anarchists will be that Christian anarchism is adamantly Christian. Worse (from a secular anarchist perspective) many of its thinkers advocate anarchism to Christians only, and accept that the state may have some sort of (though highly imperfect) ordering role for non-Christians. Then again, they insist that worship of the state is idolatry...

At p.294.
If there is one thing about being adamantly Christian in my view it is that you never pride yourself on being Christian.
In fact, I cannot stand people's saying in public (or in private, for that matter) "I am a Christian".
In Songs of praise they know where to find those Christians. "What do people say about your being a Christian and being an officer in Afghanistan"? Etcetera. That is why I stopped watching it.

If there is one thing that belongs to being adamantly Christian it is modesty.
For this I have to quote a very embarrassing sentence:
And in the same way, you masters must treat your slaves right. Don't threaten them; remember, you both have the same Master in heaven, and he has no favorites.

No favourite. Eph. 6:9 was used by Dutch Christian anarchists in 1898 to protest the enthronement of the new queen. We do not need a queen. We are all equal.
Those calling themselves Christians and those who do not call themselves Christians.
Especially people who are not and never will be.

If Christian anarchism implies being a t***er (aka w***er) dribbling that s/he does not need the state, but that for the unchosen it works out fine, I will be on the side of the unchosen.
And as for me, I would never call this anarchism. Nor Christian.


Tuesday 13 July 2010

Only Days to Go!!!

Only a couple of days to go before the Christianity and anarchism conference at the Catholic Worker Farmhouse in Hertfordshire. Ooooh!

Always an incredible mix of people, it's always the unexpected things that I end up learning about and it's nearly always the incidental conversations that make the difference. I can't wait.

Hopefully people have taken up Adam's challenge to make banners and stuff to help create an atmosphere and to take to the service on Sunday. I've just found a huge read piece of sail material and some black strips of cloth so I will be having a good think about what to do with all that.

I'm going to bring some other craft stuff and paint to the event and make a space for people to be arty if they want to.

Most of the sessions will be without specialist or speaker but rather an invitation to explore some fairly open but focused lines of thought. However, there will be a session on the Sunday where anyone who wants to put something on can and those who don't can join in or not with those things.

There are different ways of doing this conference thing and we've yet to find a way that suits everyone. Getting consensus from a geographically dispersed community was one way. Getting a few people together to host a broadly open spaced event is another. We're trying the latter this weekend. And since around 40 people are registered it seems plenty of people are okay with that. Although we will find out what people are / aren't okay with in due course.

Wednesday 7 July 2010

Interview with David Buer OFM

At my Blogtalk Radio Channel you can hear a short interview (cut in two pieces) with David Buer OFM, peace acitivist and carer for the Illegal Alien in the Arizona/New Mexico desert. On the same channel - in case you do not know - the interview on Pacifica with Alex Christoyannopoulos about Tolstoy as a Christian anarchist can still be heard.
So tune in...

Brother David does not call himself a Christian anarchist, though he is interested in the idea. He is a follower of Christ. That is the right spirit.

Sunday 4 July 2010

Wednesday 30 June 2010

Jesus Radicals and Jesus Manifesto Together

The Jesus Radicals and Jesus Manifesto web groups are coming together under the Jesus Radicals name. This will mean a change of direction and approach for members of both groups.

There has been an explicit UK page on the JR website for about four years and a forum page too for quite a while but the UK forum gets very little activity on it.

Meanwhile A Pinch of Salt has relaunched well and this blog has a lot of visitors if only a little interaction. For me this is partly about where to put my energy. If the relaunch of Jesus Radicals means a more engaged interface for European Christian anarchists then it might be worth redirecting energy there and even changing Pinch so that I finally give in to it being an online magazine.

This needs some serious consideration and response on this blog, and on the JR forum, and at the Christian anarchist conference in a few weeks time.

Your thoughts?

Thursday 24 June 2010

Celebrating with the Martyrs: Cavanaugh's reflection on Romero's theology

Celebrating with the Martyrs: Cavanaugh's reflection on Romero's theology

By Keith Hebden

In Dying for the Eucharist or being killed by it? Romero's Challenge to the First-World Christians, (Note)Cavanaugh uses the theology and praxis of two of San Salvador's priest-martyr's, Oscar Romero and Rutilio Grande, to update St Paul's challenge to the Church not to eat and drink to condemnation (1 Cor. 11: 29 – 30) but rather carry the in the body the death of Jesus (2 Cor. 4: 10). (p. 177 – 178)

William T. Cavanaugh, a radical theologian based in the USA takes inspiration from Oscar Romero. Romero was made Archbishop and was expected to be a quiet, conservative pastor of the Church, unlikely to rock the boat. However, a week after his consecration a fellow priest and friend, Rutilio Grande was assassinated on his way to celebrate the mass in El Paisnal. Grande was an outspoken critique of his countries elites on behalf of landless peasants. Romero made the connection and as a prophetic act of defiance cancelled all the celebrations in the Archdiocese in favour of a Requiem for Grande at the Cathedral.

Romero intended the one Eucharist to be an anticipation of the kingdom, of the day when rich and poor would feast together, of the day when the body of Christ would not be wounded by divisions. (185)

Romero came under intense pressure from the elites who wanted no such "anticipation" but refused to acquiesce becoming for the first time a public prophetic voice and bringing the theologian of martyrdom back into the consciousness of the church.

Eventually Oscar Romero was assassinated – but not silenced – for his outspoken theology. He was shot while presiding at the Eucharist. For Cavanaugh, Romero's life, martyrdom, and teaching highlight the difference between dying for the Eucharist and being killed by it. One does the latter when eating the Eucharist without being in solidarity for others who share in the one cup but unequally so. Cavanaugh's energies in this paper are on illustrating the former. This means the article makes for a constructive read.

Cavanaugh's Christian theology of martyrdom finds its prototype in the execution of Jesus: "Christ triumphs by dying ignominiously, tortured to death on a cross, then peaceably rising again to new life." (178) So for the church father's, like Athanasius, the continuing tradition of martyrdom is not a failure of the political expansion of the kingdom but proof of the victory of Christ. The martyrs "bring a foretaste of the kingdom," by living and willingly facing of death as though "death does not finally exist." (179) Cavanaugh points out that the persuasive nature of public martyrdom is often cleverly undermined by those regimes who by means of secrecy and propaganda re-cast martyrs terrorists or delinquents. But this is where Cavanaugh moves the reader on to a more radical understanding of martyrdom than popular religion often allows. Martyrdom cannot be "the cult of heroic individuals" but rather the sacrificial act that sustains the body of Christ. (181)

What brought repression to a fever pitch in El Salvador in the 1970s and 80s was not merely the actions of heroic individuals but the efforts of the people to organize into bodies of a social nature: peasant cooperatives, base ecclesial communities, unions, student movements, and women's groups – many of them sponsored by the church and all of them a threat to the atomization of the poor that had traditionally worked so well for El Salvador's landed elite. The repression was meant to disappear, not merely individual bodies, but especially social bodies, largely through the spread of fear. To participate in any kind of social body meant confronting the very real possibility of one's own death. (181)

So it is the witness of the church to the efficacy of the death of the individual that makes her or him a martyr. Implicit in this, because of Jesus' model of martyrdom, is the ability of the martyr to resist violence with nonviolence. Anyone who resists martyrdom violently is not a martyr but someone overcome, tragically, by a greater violence than their own.

Cavanaugh brings to bear on this theology of martyrdom a theology of the Eucharist: that in sharing in the body of Christ we become that body and therefore partake in the sacrifice of God to us: a mutuality of grace. (182) But also that the Eucharist both draws the prototypical martyrdom into the present and the eschatological hope of the kingdom into the same present moment. In all of this he drawn on the theology of Augustine of Hippo, Roman Catholic teaching, and scriptural inference. (183 – 184)

The Letter to the Hebrews makes clear to the humble group of assembled Christians that their liturgical action is no mere earthly mumbling… At the Eucharist, the feast of the last day irrupts into earthly time, and the future breaks into the present. (184)

He poignantly notes that this eschatological element of the Eucharist is one easily forgotten by minority world Christians but not so by the persecuted Church. For Cavanaugh both the Eucharist and the martyrs participate in the sacrifice that makes builds and reveals a body of people. (186) They are signs and samples of the kingdom of God. But because, unlike Oscar Romero, we often sit down to the Eucharist without being in solidarity with the martyred Church we eat judgement upon ourselves.

This is not simply a matter of wishful thinking; our unity is true eschatologically, for we will all feast tighter in the kingdom. Where divisions exist now, in history, Christ in the Eucharist appears in judgement, according to Paul, and the judgement is severe…(186)

The Eucharistic feast penetrates through the nonsense of globalisations myth of world harmony; of "Thai villagers and Minnesotan suburbanites happily communing on the internet." (187) In the feast of the kingdom we are invited to properly discern the body and to give greatest honour to those considered least important. Romero shows us the way.

William T. Cavanaugh, Dying for the Eucharist or being killed by it? Romero's Challenge to First-World Christians, Theology Today 58:2 (July 2001): 177–89.

Find Cavanaugh's original article and others by the same here and even more here.