Raising the Price


Updates on infoshop news (1)and the Occupied London blog

On the night of December 6, 2008, our comrade, Alexandros Grigoropoulos, was murdered by terrorists employed by the Greek State. Such violence, a byproduct of the State’s defense of class society, is nothing new, but a defining aspect of governments, escalated by the recent flickering of the capitalist picture show. What makes Alexandros different than the thousands who lose their lives every day to fuel the global corpse/cash machine is not his age, as market forces (their words, not ours) do not respect identity, but his clarity of vision which allowed him to see the beast for what it is, and his decision to act on his own behalf, with his comrades, and directly engage the same forces which beat, shoot, starve, kill, maim, and poison all of us to increase profits and control. This system and its ancestors have been fueled with our blood long before oil, but it still needs more. Now, his loved ones are raising the price. They are raising the price for the same reason that the bosses do. Because they can.

As his family and comrades prepare for his funeral, sparks from fires in the streets of Greece are spreading and igniting in the area of western Asia called “Europe”. Anarchists in Germany (1) and England (1) (2) are rising, and the rest of Europe will likely follow suit. Words of solidarity often precede acts of resistance. The spark has crossed the Atlantic and landed in NYC and others are taking notice.

A general strike has been called for tomorrow, so give yourself the day off and put your money away. If you have to go to work or school, I’m sure you’ll think of something. We don’t need any martyrs or prisoners, so be intelligent. Think of where you live and what you can get likely get away with.

The terrorists who murdered our comrade are the same the world over. They will defend the illusions of  the markets and democracy with the same fervor that they would defend their families or homes. Capitalism routinely involves the shooting of young people, whether by the State or other young people engaged in competeive markets.  May the bosses of Greece, the land of the agora and what is often referred to as democracy, fear for the failure of their projects, with the bosses across the globe, at a time when popular faith in market fundamentalism has been weakened. Let resistance follow the example set by comrades in Greece, the birthplace of the alleged western civilization and the example of comrades in Chicago. Self-managed revolt and re-appropriation are more likely to be the path to freedom, and not messianic politicans or recuperated institutions. We can’t afford to buy back our lives, so start stealing.

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Paredolia? I Hardly Know Ya

I was getting pretty burnt out on the nominally monotheistic superimposition of humanity’s longtime practice of observing the winter solstice. Wow, that looks so liberal.  The music is horrible, and there are really only a few songs. The marketing alchemists have done such an amazing  job of transmuting human decency into gold and they seem to start mining our hearts earlier and earlier every year. Expending a ridiculous amount of resources in the winter seems pretty counter-intuitive, but most cultures have done it or do it, except Jehovah’s Witnesses.

Love can make one generally less bitter, and age can sometimes impart wisdom, especially in the choosing of battles. Christmas is invulnerable under current US realities, so I meekly go with the flow, the tide being inescapable. Being no fan of winter, I’ll celebrate anything that means the days are getting longer. My new favorite seasonal mainstay though, is the “War On Christmas“.

Right-wing culture warriors and pundits can be hilarious, since their whole shtick is based on removing as much context as they can, from the subject. The refusal to acknowledge the role of the US in fattening Saddam Hussein and what would be come al Qaeda, is a good example. Like all alleged attacks on Christianity in the US, the removal of the reality that the dominant culture in the US is both Christian and Consumer leads me to wonder if their “War on Christmas” is the classical right-wing anti-Semitism bubbling to the surface.  Some of them want the world to end and need the IDF’s help to do a little urban renewal on the Temple Mount among other things and the antagonism between state of Israel and its Arab neighbors appeals to the 21st century Crusader mentality. Another removal of context takes place, when criticism of Israeli policy is labeled as anti-Semitism.

Bill O'Reilly-Going French On Us?

Bill O'Reilly-Going French On Us?

With the economy in a downturn, the “War on Christmas” rhetoric has been sadly but not mysteriously turned down. We even witnessed a good old timey human scarifice to Mammon. There’s still tons of crap you can buy, to make people squirm, and O’Reilly is generously donating a strange bumper sticker with the purchase of his latest book. The ire is pretty much squarely focused on one toy, a talking baby doll that allegedly exhorts toddlers to convert to Islam with it’s baby babble.

A few years ago, there was a movie released with electronic voice phenomena (EVP) at the center of the plot. EVP refers to people who think that dead people are communicating with them though radio and TV static and the like. I’ve also seen a talk show with some of these cases on it, and the sounds were definitely creepy, but much like the backwards masking conspiracies of my childhood, I just couldn’t hear the words they alleged that the static was “using”. It’s the same with the doll, which allegedly says “Islam is the light”.I couldn’t hear it and neither could some audio expert.

I’m not sure when it was released, but an  review of the toy from earlier this year makes no reference to the conspiracy, but as soon as the tinfoil hat types decided the jihadis at Mattel were converting their children, the comments section began to fill up with this sectarian hysteria. Like many conspiracies popular amongst the right-wing, it doesn’t stand if you return it to the big picture. Why would a big US toy company try to convert its customers (and future customers) to religion that has proven to be hostile to US style consumer capitalism? Why would Mattel possibly think no one would notice and make a fuss? How could such a secret be kept with the kinds of communication technology most in the US have access to?

Were I a sociology grad student, I’d be all over this one. It could be neat to track the epidemiology of a pareidolia, a big, new word I learned today. This century has been quite a disappointment.

Blind Obedience Can End “The War”?

January 17, 2008 will mark 17 years of open US hostilities against Iraq, although (maybe misreading of Baudrillard?) liberals disregard the Clinton years, since bombings and sanctions are not acts of aggression, unless Cuba is on the receiving end. The left wing of the US war party is as fixated on the Bush dynasty, as the right wing is with Clinton’s reproductive organ. The misguided souls who vote are too hung up on the stylistic differences to notice that US policy doesn’t change from administration to administration, except in very superficial ways, and so all sorts of kooky, hypothetical electoral and moral fantasies to “end The War” are being bandied about, as if “peace” is merely the absence of “war”.

For some unknown reason, perhaps it is the notorious US weakness in geography, many people appear to be delusional enough believe that the US intends to leave Iraq, and a politician or two can accomplish this. Maybe these people have never heard of Germany, Japan, Korea, Puerto Rico, Guam, or any of the other places the US has indefinitely occupied? The hipsters are more likely to withdraw from Brooklyn and the Brits are more likely to leave the North of Ireland (a situation closer to Iraq than the ahistorical Vietnam comparisons) than the US giving up on expanding consumer markets, laundering tax dollars, and controlling energy supplies in the Mid-East.

Some of the political fantasies bouncing around out there are so absurd, that it seems their proponents must be aware of the impossibility of the situation, or getting some really potent weed. One of the most entertaining pieces of fan fiction regarding the 2008 US elections was recently posted on the website of the Lefty newsletter, Counterpunch.

In Welcome to the Revolution, Donna J. Volatile adds another voice to the cyber kool-aid chorus, that much like the religious Right believes that a Saint Paul is the only route to salvation, although they mean the Texas one, not the Tarsus one. Volatile beseeches liberals and progressives to set aside whatever principles they may have, and to ignore Paul’s positions on everything but Iraq, since they are only “wrapping paper” on the “gift” of Ron Paul.

Even Dennis Kucinich seems to think so, there is so much buzz in cyberspace about the possibility of a Dennis Kucinich/Ron Paul ticket, it is stunning. Dennis has even raised the prospect himself as has his wife Elisabeth. Who ever thought we’d see the day?!

There is a larger point to be made here and perhaps the most important one and that is there isn’t a whole lot of difference between the wants, needs and desires of the anti-war traditional conservatives and the anti-war leftists and progressives. We just all need to get over ourselves. If Dennis Kucinich would consider Ron Paul as a running mate isn’t it time for the anti-war movement to dig a little deeper to see what is going on here?…

Sounds like Larouche/Nader, but if Dennis Kucinich (proof that the ‘one good politician’ can’t change policy or politics) says he’s OK…

(I have always supported Dennis Kucinich, whenever possible but after the 2004 Convention and his failure to stand up at the Convention against the war and support the peace activists who were hauled off the convention floor, with their anti-war signs, and given his inability to run a strong campaign, I can no longer back him. I do respect his positions on many issues.)

Volatile can’t overlook Kucinich’s failure to rescue people who wanted to get arrested from being arrested, but Paul’s cryptofacism is A-OK. Here’s a gem from a recent GOP candidate forum, where St. Paul discusses the importance of imaginary lines over human lives:

I see the immigration problem as a consequence of our welfare state. We encourage people not to work here, but the welfare we offer the people who come–they get free medical care. They get free education. They bankrupt our hospitals. Our hospitals are closing. And it shouldn’t be rewarded. That means you don’t give them citizenship. You can’t solve this problem until you get rid of the welfare state, because in a healthy economy, immigrants wouldn’t be a threat to us.

It’s no accident that Paul has the support of neo-nazis.

Volatile wonders:

Are we to forever be held back by issues, such as abortion or even National Health Care, an issue that never gets delivered in the first place (we are no closer now than we were way back when) ? These issues are by design. Abortion keeps us divided. National Health care lends us false hope.

Damn pesky, non-Iraq issues. I like my reformists to seek reforms, not dismantle them.

Some of the masochists who think that getting arrested on purpose (not to be confused with repression of dissent and resistance) is a viable strategy to affect change in a nation with 7 million individuals “in the system”, 2.2 million of them in prison, almost half of them non-violent drug offenders, have released a year-end report on the handful in handcuffs. The willingness to be handcuffed and processed for crossing an imaginary line is eerily reminiscent of the border-fixated crowd’s desire to arrest and/or bring harm to people who cross those imaginary lines. Except the activists call the cops on themselves (and each other).

These Lefties, who consider themselves to be more politically advanced or whatever it’s called, than their beloved working class, who in their eyes “just don’t get it” and need to be guided or saved, alienate their coveted “masses” with voluntary arrest. In my own experience, the average working person seems to recognize that this isn’t MLK or Gandhi’s world anymore, probably a result of day-to-day life. Making reservations to spend a day or two at a county lockup won’t do much to encourage the teeming masses to “join your movement”. To many people, getting arrested on purpose is something homeless people do when winter temperatures become deadly, and need shelter for a few days.

The possession of illegal drugs can also be viewed as a form of civil disobedience, and can sometimes amount to de facto being arrested on purpose, but the drug war isn’t going anywhere, so I’m unsure how a few thousand arrests for summary offenses (glorified traffic tickets) will result in “peace” for the people of Iraq. It’s a mystery how the identity politicians have failed to notice that raising bail in advance, then being taken into State custody on purpose, and then whining about your maltreatment is anything but an obnoxious display of privilege, and correctly seen as a waste of time and money to those with little of either. How can participation in State violence end State violence?

Voting and intentional arrest have a poor track record in ending the bosses’ wars, but even the Franco-Prussian War had to be put on hold for the Paris Commune. Participation in electoral politics and courts of law, serve to legitimize the State’s monopoly on violence and facilitate the internal and external projection of force. Greeting the politicians and police as “liberators” will not make you free.

An Open Letter to the “Astroturf” Drink Tax Foes-Retracted

Due to a hasty skimming of a Pittsburgh Tribune Review article, the YT had carelessly and incorrectly associated FACT, with the DC lobbying firm, the American Beverage Institute. They are apparently waging separate campaigns against the proposed drink tax. Despite the fact that the Pennsylvania Restaurant Association, the primary source of FACT’s funding(as in single largest contributor), is affiliated with ABI, that does not constitute a direct link.

Dear Friends Against Counterproductive Taxation (FACT),

As a former restaurant employee, who has done eleven years hard time, primarily in mom-and-pop or local chain establishments (including some who are involved with FACT), I’m well aware of the difficult nature of that industry. You may also be aware that it is financially much more difficult for eateries that don’t have the State’s consent to sell alcohol, with its hefty mark-up. I’m not sure how the County’s other purveyors of alcohol are faring, but it’s absurd for any of the men who make up FACT’s board of directors to cry indigent or that their particular alcohol centered businesses will be drastically affected by the proposed 10% levy.

Do you worry about corporate chains running you out of business? Personally, if I were you, I’d be more worried about them than any drink tax or even the costs of fair treatment of the people whose labor you profit from. Do you think that being installed as an astroturf (a fake grassroots organization, created by lobbyists and PR firms that is meant to appear local and spontaneous) group for lobbyist Rick Berman, whose American Beverage Institute is the brains and bankroll behind your FACT group and the stopdrinktax.com website, could have some undesirable long-term consequences? Do you think Mr. Berman is more concerned with his Allegheny County pawns, who put the petty in petit bourgeois or his other clients, which include:

American Restaurant Group, Anheuser-Busch, Arby’s, Brinker International, Burger King, Carson Restaurants Worldwide, Chili’s, Chi-Chi’s, Cracker Barrel, El Torito, Empire State Restaurant and Tavern Association, Hard Rock Café, Hooters of America, Inc., Houston’s Restaurants, International House of Pancakes, Jack-in-the-Box, KKR Enterprises, Luby’s, Marie Callender Pie Shops, Marriott Corp., Metromedia Restaurant Group, Olive Garden, Outback Steakhouse, Panda Management Company, Perkins Family Restaurants, Rare Hospitality International, Red Lobster, Shoney’s, Sizzler, Steak & Ale, TGI Friday’s, Uno, Vicorp Restaurants, Wendy’s and more than I cared to copy and paste, but none of those omitted were local brewpubs. Seems like Stockholm syndrome or just little suicidal to me.

Granted you must be thrilled with some of Mr. Berman’s other work with front groups such as the Employment Policies Institute, which does all it can to keep the minimum wage as low as possible, the anti-worker Center for Union Facts, but not for you, for his big clients. Berman and Co. have even set up a group called Activist Cash, which seeks to discredit any organized opposition to their clients interests by painting them as recipients of dirty money or most ironically as front groups, like FACT and all the other Berman constructs.
The Port Authority of Allegheny County (PAT) obviously doesn’t spend it’s money wisely, as the first priority of any bureaucracy is to ensure it’s own continued existence; the agency’s stated function is secondary. Contrary to what the media would have you believe, wages and benefits are not the problem, silly underwater tunnels that lead to casinos and management bonuses are the problem. Unlike yourself, I truly believe that bus drivers, as well as all working people, including those who make you fat, deserve a decent material standard of living.

Given the vast sums of public money that is spent locally to militarize law enforcement and on handouts to corporate parasites, I agree that the poured-drink tax wouldn’t have been my first choice, but at the end of the day, I’m more concerned with public transit than your profits. Nothing personal. You shouldn’t be shocked that I’m concerned with the interests of my social class, the same as you are concerned with yours. Life’s tough, just like you tell your employees if they need a weekend off.

However, your affluence comes with a high social cost and I’m not referring to the obvious things like drunk driving and heart disease and agribusiness. There are enough paid expert witnesses and politicians and activist-types to deal with that. I’m talking about the compensation and general treatment of the people who work themselves to death, so you don’t have to. Most of you only pay your waitstaff $2.83 an hour, because you can legally get away with it, and few if any of you offer any type of benefits to non-management. I’m talking about health insurance, not a 20% discount while they are at work. I wonder how many of your employees are forced to apply for medical assistance and how many of them fall through the cracks because “they earn too much”? Your exploitation of working people creates a burden on what passes for a “social safety net” in the US.

Your establishments are unsafe for the people who work there, physically and mentally. You pit workers against one another as another means of control, beyond your cameras and ID numbers and magnetic cards. Your schedules are erratic and subject to change at moment’s notice, and posted at the last possible moment, sometimes a day or two after it is already in effect. The hours are bad and it is hard to have much of a life when a shift typically starts in the afternoon and ends late at night. People who work in food service often carry on their social life while on the job which can lead to a hostile environment with all the near incestuous mating, dating and breaking up. Sexual harassment is so prevalent it often goes unnoticed, as there is nothing to contrast it with.

You also have a drinking and substance abuse problem. Not you personally, well, not all of you anyway. The industry, especially the trendy establishments, seem to favor a certain kind of lecherous, pretentious, Trustafarian, with a fondness for Peruvian marching powder, as the ideal candidate for management. You’ll turn a blind eye to all the open consumption of alcohol and other less socially acceptable inebriates, because you know if they sobered up, they’d never come back for more abuse from you and your customers. The police and courts are more than happy to deal with uninsured people who are having a substance abuse problem, by locking them up, since your industry’s aversion to employee benefits turns their medical issue into a moral/legal one. At least it’s one industry that has never really taken up the disturbing practice of urine testing.

I’m aware that you feel there is already too much State interference in your privileged existence as a business owner, but remember, like the lobbyists you are in bed with, the State is no more concerned about your continued financial well being as you are about a worker’s, and would love to replace all of your establishments with corporate chains. When that day comes, remember, you had a hand in your own undoing.

Sincerely,

Arson Daily

PS-Apparently alot of people aren’t fooled by this, since their online petition only had 4510 “signatures” as of 10:15 am 11/16/07

Recommended Reading:

Abolish Restaurants from prole.info

Catching Up: (Part 2.) September 9-16

*In the words of a great mind.

Catching Up: (Part 1.) September 1-8

Apparently life goes on whether I remark on it or not, and I feel half guilty taking September off, so I’ll try and catch up. There’s some big stuff in the works, including a collaboration with a dear comrade and little brother, on a piece about the folly of ethical consumption and an overblown commentary on Mike Vick and his sporting dogs.

  • September 1 : It wouldn’t be a long weekend, if we didn’t celebrate “our freedom” with Taliban/Carry Nation checkpoints and police crackdowns.
  • September 2: Pittsburgh Food Not Bombs hosted what was apparently a great block party.
  • September 3: Labor Day is May 1, you big dummies.
  • September 4: The Pittsburgh Organizing Group began it’s “End War FAST“, in an alleged effort to close the Forbes Avenue recruiting station. I hope no one really believed that the US military cares who eats and who doesn’t, and that blue-haired liberal ladies got out their checkbooks, which seems to be a more realistic goal for a hunger strike. For some reason, their use of all-caps in the word “FAST” drove me crazy.
  • September 5: Suburban golden boy, whose family used their City address, turned Mayor, Luke Ravenstahl, dropped by the Zone 3 police station, to get his picture taken using the City’s new cyber-snitch website.
  • September 6: The dollar fell. I hope it hits the ground before it wakes up.
  • September 7: The region’s second-worst “badge bunny“, head-trauma patient, and “Man of Faith” (don’t worry Mr. Zapalla, you’re still #1) donated money to buy shit for police dogs in Cleveland. Ben, you may or may not know this (or be able to read this), but police dogs have managed to bite black folks just fine, long before morons like you thought they needed body armor. Anti-American Idol, Osama (that’s Usama for you FOX viewers)bin Laden, releases a new tape and unveils his new look. I like it better than his old stuff.
  • September 8: Minor skirmishes outside the APEC summit in Sydney, Australia result in arrests.

Pittsburgh Call to Organize Against the IMF/World Bank

This call was issued several days ago, but due to an awful infection in my writing hand, yinz have been spared my awful prose. My failing health will prevent me from participating in these actions, but that’s no reason for you not to. It’s a shame, as it seems like a genuine attempt to step away from the formal, defensive organizing, that passes for genuine resistance. I’m sure that the young re-enactvists who use the SDS brand name will make this as tedious as possible and take all credit for any success, so maybe it’s just as good that my health is bad?

Pittsburgh meeting of affinity groups and their delegates to organize against the World Bank/IMF: Wednesday September 5th at the Dinosaur in Oakland. (Forbes Ave, between Bigelow and Bellefield)

Attention all Pittsburgh area anarchists and radicals! Today the October Coalition, a collection of DC groups organizing against the IMF and World Bank, put out their calls for the actions happening against the meetings on the weekend of Oct 19-21. Autumn Insurrection, a Pittsburgh group of anarchists, is calling for all Pittsburgh area radicals to start forming affinity groups with their close friends and comrades. We seek to bring different affinity groups in the area together for meetings on how we can work to effectively challenge the state in October in Washington DC. We are also planning on organizing trainings and working to hook people up with transportation and housing for the weekend.

October Rebellion has put a call out for the following actions:

Friday October 19th-

12pm-2pm March and Rally at Immigration and Customs Enforcement
425 I Street

9:00pm-??? Disrupt Georgetown!
An unpermitted night march through the Georgetown neighborhood of DC, the home of some of the wealthiest and most powerful people in the country and their shopping district.

Saturday October 20th-
1Pm March on the IMF/World Bank!

We are calling for a Pittsburgh meeting of affinity groups to coordinate our plans on Wednesday September 5th at the Dinosaur in Oakland. (Same place Critical Mass meets, On Forbes Ave. between Bigelow and Bellefield, off of Schenley Drive.) 8PM.

If you have any questions, feel free to email us at AutumnInsurrection@Gmail.com

or check out the October Rebellion Coalition website at
http://www.OctoberRebellion.org

In love and rage
Autumn Insurrection

Who is Autumn Insurrection?

Autumn Insurrection is a collection of Pittsburgh Anarchists involved with numerous other projects who are organizing Pittsburghers to go to the fall meetings of the IMF and World Bank. We hope to bring as many Pittsburgh radicals to the meetings as possible in the hope that we can all work together to effectively resist the state and global capitalism in October.

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