Thursday, May 27, 2010

Montreal Anarchist Bookfair this weekend May 29-30!

MAY 29-30, 10am-5pm
at the CEDA, 2515 rue Delisle
(a short walk from Lionel-Groulx metro)
FREE. Welcome to all!

For anarchists and people curious about anarchism.

Check out the HIGHLIGHTS below: Main Hall, Kid Zone, Introductions to Anarchism, Workshops and Presentations, Film Room, Indigenous Solidarity Room, Anarchist Parents Discussion Room, Anti-Capitalist Resistance Room, Anarchist Cabaret, Festival of Anarchy and more.

Participants from all over Quebec and North America, booksellers and vendors, workshops, films, discussions, kids activities, art exhibits and more!

NOTE: During this year’s Bookfair, tabling will take place over TWO DAYS: May 29-30, between 10am-5pm.

[fully updated information below and on the website:]
[please post and forward widely; curious about anarchism? check us out!]


The Montreal Anarchist Bookfair -- and month-long Festival of Anarchy -- bring together anarchist ideas and practice, through words, images, music, theatre and day-to-day struggles for justice, dignity and collective liberation.

The Bookfair is for people who don't necessarily consider themselves anarchists, but are curious about anarchism, as well as a space for anarchists to meet, network and share in a spirit of respect and solidarity. All are welcome.

The Bookfair is organized in a spirit of openness towards the different traditions, visions, and practices of anarchism. Together we share a commitment to promoting anarchism through the values of mutual aid, grassroots democracy, direct action, autonomy and solidarity, while opposing oppression in all its forms.

The Bookfair and Festival of Anarchy provide an important gathering and reference point for anti-authoritarian ideas and practice in North America.



MAIN HALL: The Bookfair features over 100 booksellers, distributors, independent presses, zines and political groups from all over Montreal, Quebec and North America, and abroad. This year’s out-of-town vendors come from France, England, Switzerland, Belgium & Sweden; Oakland, Baltimore, Washington, Cincinnati, New York City, Indiana, Virginia, New Jersey, Maine, Massachusetts, Connecticut & Vermont; Vancouver, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Fredericton, Halifax, Guelph, London Hamilton, Toronto, Kingston & Ottawa; Trois-Rivières, Drummondville, Saguenay-Lac St-Jean & Quebec City; and more! For a full list of vendors, visit:

KID ZONE!: Fun activities, snacks, outdoor games, craft room, quiet space and more for all interested kids (and their parents):

ART & ANARCHY: Art & Anarchy brings together the creations of dozens of anarchist-inspired artists and organizers. This year’s exhibition will include sculptures, paintings, posters, banners, drawings, and other multi-media forms. info:

- On Saturday, May 29 at 1pm:
  • Anarchism and Its Aspirations (Cindy Milstein)
  • The ABSs of Anarchism (Anna Kruzynski & Marco Silvestro)

- On Sunday, May 30 at 1pm:
  • Anarchism without Anarchists / Anarchism with Anarchists: The Practice and Relevance of Anarchism (Jaggi Singh)
  • The History of Anarchism in Quebec (Mathieu Houle-Courcelles)


  • 11am: Refusing to Be Abused: Histories and Present Realities of Copwatch as a Tool Against Police Repression (Copwatch Montreal & Winnipeg)
  • 11am: Self-Management versus Capitalist Management (Nicolas van Caloen)
  • 1pm: Building land defence and anti-colonial resistance movements: Becoming a force to be reckoned with (Shabina Lafleur-Gangji & Matt Soltys)
  • 3pm: Solidarity City: Migrant justice and the everyday practice of mutual aid and direct action
  • 3pm: One Big Union and revolutionary syndicalist movements in Quebec and in Canada (Mathieu Houle-Courcelles)
  • 3pm : Practical strategies for anarchist writing (Alexis Shotwell)

  • 11am: Anarchism and Riots (Marc-André Cyr)
  • 11am: Panel: Taking Ourselves Seriously: Developing Strategy for Social – Transformation (Chris Dixon, Cindy Milstein and Maia Ramnath)
  • 12pm: Anarchist Writers of Fiction Meeting (facilitated by Norman Nawrocki)
  • 1pm: Basic Computer Security (the Koumbit Network)
  • 3pm: Eugenics in Anarchism and Feminism (AJ Withers & Griffin Epstein)
  • 3pm: Capitalist Authority versus Anti-Colonial Breakout: The example of the militant direct-action Civil Rights movement in one Northern u.s. city, 1960-1965 (J. Sakai)
  • 3pm: Sea Piracy and Anarchism: Beyond the myths (Marco Silvestro)

FILM ROOM (Saturday, May 29):
  • Deux roues sur terre (Guillaume Girard, 2009, 66 min., FR, Uruguay / Canada)
  • Slug love (J. Mary Burnet, 2009, 3min.30, EN, Canada)
  • Contre-culture à vendre (Pierre-Luc Junet, 2009, 7 min., FR, Québec)
  • Tortilleria (Chloé Germain-Thérrien, 2010, 3min.30, no dialogue, Québec)
  • Motions for web (Anita Schoepp, 2010, 4 min., no dialogue, Québec)
  • I didn’t know what to say to him (Jessica McCormack and Stephen Brown, 2008 7 min., EN, Québec)
  • Psychic Capital (Jessica McCormack and Rae Spoon, 2009, 16 min., EN, Québec)
  • If CSIS comes knocking (People's Commission Network, 6 min., EN, 2010, Québec)
  • Interviews from Defenders of the Land 2008 (45 min. excerpt, 2008, Winnipeg)
  • Regards de société : Afrique, Palestine, Montréal (Santiago Bertolino and Steve Patry, 2009-2010, 65 minutes, FR, Québec)
  • Les Anarchistes (2009, 25 min., FR, France)
  • Whatever happened to Who’s Emma (Lyndall Musselman, 2009, 27 min., EN, Canada)

  • 11am: 500 Years of Indigenous Resistance (with Gord Hill, Kwakwaka’wakw)
  • 1pm: Justice for Missing, Murdered and Disappeared Indigenous Women (with Bridget Tolley, Algonquin from Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg)
  • 3pm: 20 Years Since Oka: Kanienkehaka Communities in Resistance (with Clifton Arihwakehte a member of the Kanehsatake Mohawk Community)

  • 11am: Alternative Birthing (presenters include Martine Quimper, Melissa Bellemare, Francine Rhéault and others)
  • 12pm: Radical Learning and Education (with the Rad School, Cap Libre, Jerry Mintz from the Alternative Education Resource Organization in New York, Kamala Bhusal of Sri Aurobindo Ashram/Orphanage in Nepal and others)
  • 3pm: Supporting parents dealing with state authorities

  • Toronto Community Mobilization Network (TCMN)/Southern Ontario Anarchist Resistance (SOAR)
  • G20, Power and the Economic Crisis (Coalition féministe radicale contre le G20)
  • Student Resistance to the G20 (le Regroupememt Anti-G20 Étudiant (RAGE))
  • The Economic and Ecological Crisis of Capitalism (presented by the popular education of the
  • Anti-Capitalist Convergence (CLAC2010))

ANARCHIST CABARET (Friday, May 28, at Il Motore, 179 Jean-Talon Ouest): A kick-off and benefit for the Montreal Anarchist Bookfair. A night of music, hip hop and dancing: Micros Armés, Dramatik, Chaotic Insurrection Ensemble, Emrical and Don’t Put Charles on the Money. info:

FESTIVAL OF ANARCHY: The entire month of May in Montreal is part of the Festival of Anarchy, with diverse anarchist-themed events occurring at different venues all over the island of Montreal. info:

DONATIONS: The proceeds from this year’s Montreal Anarchist Bookfair will support the DIRA Anarchist Library (Montreal) and the new Anarchist Bookfair Accessibility Fund. info:

Curious about anarchism? Check us out!


On FRIDAY, May 28, after 8pm: We’ll be at Il Motore (179 Jean-Talon Ouest) for the Anarchist Cabaret.

On SATURDAY, May 29 and SATURDAY, May 30, 10am-5pm: This year’s Anarchist Bookfair is taking place in two buildings, which are across from each other. Our main space is the CEDA (2515 Delisle), and adult education and community center based in Little Burgundy/St-Henri, site of the Bookfair for the past 8 years. We are also using the Georges-Vanier Cultual Center across from the CEDA.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Child Sexual Abuse, Psy Ops, and the Red Army Faction

The following by André oncourt and J. Smith, authors of The Red Army Faction: A Documentary History Volume 1: Projectiles for the People...

On May 11, 2010, Anja Röhl – the stepdaughter of Ulrike Meinhof, a founding member of the Red Army Faction – released a public statement describing sexual abuse she had suffered as a child, at the hands of her father Klaus Rainer Röhl.

The tragedy of this story is obviously borne by Röhl herself – as she explains, “My father surrounded me with this fear, and it will be with me until the end of my days.” At the same time, as her painful statement makes clear, her experience was not an isolated incident, but is both embedded in and a manifestation of the society and culture her family was a part of.

Normally, Röhl’s ordeal should lie outside of the scope of our study of West Germany’s Red Army Faction. However, as the state has long engaged in a strategy of personalizing the guerilla (making it the “Baader-Meinhof” gang) and pathologizing its members, personal relationships, and personal tragedies, become relevant to untangling the web of lies that surrounds this organization.

Ulrike Meinhof was a founding member of the RAF, and had formerly been married to Klaus Rainer Röhl, with whom she had had two twin girls in 1962, seven years younger than their older half-sister. For several years, she also worked alongside Röhl as an editor of the New Left magazine konkret.

Meinhof divorced Röhl in 1968, and left konkret the next year. She became politically active alongside members of the West Berlin radical left who would later found the RAF and other guerilla groups, all the while continuing to work as a journalist. At the point that she went underground in 1970, she was working with young people in closed institutions, specifically girls in reform school, with whom she had begun producing a television docudrama. A veteran of the 1950s and 60s anti-nuclear movements and the most important left-wing woman intellectual in West Germany at the time, her stature was such that she has been referred to as the “big sister of the New Left.”

While many such individuals may have debated and pondered the merits of armed struggle – a fact sometimes overlooked in sanitized histories of the period – Meinhof’s transformation from left-wing media star to urban guerilla was without parallel. For that reason, various means, both trivial and cruel, were subsequently arrayed to disparage and discount the contributions of this woman. It was claimed that she had suffered brain damage during neurosurgery years earlier, and that it was this that had determined her political path. Others guessed that she had a masochistic relationship to Andreas Baader and his girlfriend Gudrun Ensslin, her “middle-class guilt” compelling her to subject herself to their emotional abuse. According to one source, her attraction was erotic, and her jealousy of Ensslin was such that she would eventually take her own life. Still other sources painted her as a lesbian predator, using her position in the guerilla to have sex with much younger recruits, only to turn them in to the police in a fit of jealousy. No lie was too farfetched, or too disgusting, for the system’s propaganda mills.

As part of this pathological strategy, emphasis has been placed on Meinhof’s decision to go underground even though her twin daughters were only seven at the time. A story by liberal journalist Stefan Aust would have it that Meinhof and the RAF kidnapped these children, with plans to exile them to a Palestinian orphanage in Jordan. In point of fact, Meinhof had full custody of the children, and had stipulated that they should be cared for by her sister. Going underground, she feared however that they would be handed over to their father, and so she removed the children from West Germany in 1970, leaving them with some hippies in Sicily. It was here that Aust and Meinhof’s former roommate Peter Homann found them, “rescuing” the girls and delivering them to their grateful father: Klaus Rainer Röhl.

As detailed in our book Projectiles for the People, for years this story remained unchallenged, and even sympathetic observers had to admit that Meinhof and the guerilla had acted inhumanely. But then, as we wrote:

…in 2007, new information was brought to light by historian Jutta Ditfurth. In a sympathetic biography of Meinhof, Ditfurth claims that Homann and Aust’s entire story was nothing but an elaborate lie. [1]

According to Ditfurth, the fate of the Meinhof-Röhl children was still before the family courts at the time of this alleged rescue, and there was a strong chance custody would be granted to Meinhof’s older sister Inge Wienke Zitzlaff, a school principal in Hessen who had two daughters of her own.

Ditfurth claims this plan had been made before Ulrike Meinhof ever went underground in 1970, and that as a backup, were the family court to rule in Röhl’s favor, some thought had been given to sending the twins to East Germany.

As Ditfurth points out, at the time of this alleged plot to send the children to Jordan, it was clear to all concerned that that country was on the brink of civil war. Indeed, within a month of the guerillas’ return to the FRG, war did break out, leading to the slaughter of between 4,000 and 10,000 Palestinians. The Children’s Home—where Homann and Aust claim the girls would have been sent—was one of the targets bombed by the Jordanian air force, leaving no survivors. [2]
Who but a monster would ever think of kidnapping their own children, only to abandon them to strangers? Well, in fact, this behaviour does fit one group of people: mothers who suspect their (former) husbands of abusing their children, and yet who cannot for whatever reason care for them themselves.

Rather than considering such a simple, though distressing, explanation, for years Aust and various other figures have put forward this shocking tale of the crazy woman whose “middle-class guilt” had her abandoning her children in a Third World war zone – all part and parcel of a broader process of pathologizing anyone who would take up arms against imperialism in the metropole.

Anja Röhl’s recent revelations – including the fact that she had informed Meinhof of the abuse in 1969, and that Meinhof had asked her family court lawyer to argue for custody on the basis of these allegations – all add further weight to this more believable sequence of events.

Our purpose is not to judge or condone anyone’s decisions as a parent. Nor is it to reduce the serious issue of child sexual abuse to its very tangential connection to the urban guerilla. But the point remains that Anja Röhl’s revelations do shed light on what Meinhof would have been dealing with in 1970, and, as such, further expose another tawdry and cruel facet of the state’s campaign of psychological warfare.

(As a pathetic conclusion, Klaus Rainer Röhl has denied Anja’s allegations, claiming them to be “politically motivated”! This position is echoed by Bettina Röhl, one of Meinhof’s daughters and a professional anti-communist witch-hunter, who accuses her half-sister of being a “tool” of her mother’s biographer Jutta Ditfurth.)

Anja Röhl’s statement detailing her abuse can be read online at

An unauthorized English translation is available online at

[1] Ditfurth, Jutta. Ulrike Meinhof: Die Biografie. Berlin: Ullstein, 2007, 290-292.

[2] Moncourt, André and J. Smith, The Red Army Faction, A Documentary History Volume 1 : Projectiles for the People. Kersplebedeb and PM Press 2009, page 558.

Anja Röhl: "The Time is Right to Talk About Paedophilia"

What follows is a text by Anja Röhl, the stepdaughter of Ulrike Meinhof, in which she details a childhood of sexual abuse at the hands of her father Klaus Rainer Röhl, the founder of the important New Left magazine konkret.

The Time is Right to Talk About Paedophilia
by Anja Röhl, May 11, 2010

One of the most important men to openly defend paedophilia was a member of my family: his name was Klaus Rainer Röhl, and he was my father. He's still alive, but the words "He is my father" will never cross my lips.

When I was still little, long before I reached puberty, he was always telling me what sensuous and erotic skin children have, "completely different from women who are older than thirteen." He only found children younger than thirteen attractive, in any case. He laughed about this and tried to have his fun with me. He "slapped" me on my cheeks. He even seemingly accidentally "slapped" (that's what he called these blows) my thighs - both of them, usually until I could no longer bear the pain - until I specifically told him, "Stop, daddy, that hurts." His answer to this was that I shouldn't make such a fuss: "a German girl" doesn't cry.

He told me early on that he had found me erotic on the diaper changing table, and frequently discussed with me his theory that it is better for young girls to be deflowered by older, experienced men, as younger men were, for the most part, too inexperienced. The idea of concepts such as erotic, deflowering, sensuous, etc. being discussed openly and in detail with children may seem peculiar, but that is really part of the game through which we children were ensnared, so that we didn't see what was happening as being at all out of the ordinary.

After I turned eleven, he often showed me large numbers of erotic photos, some of which he would select for the magazine konkret,[1] explaining to me that the most important thing was that the girls look innocent and coy. That's what the readers liked best.

From my earliest childhood, he would often bring me alone with him on his short holidays in Sylt. On the beach, he would take me by the hand and we would go "check out women." Even then, the most important criteria for him was youthfulness. I got to have "my say" about which of them was the "most sensuous," although it goes without saying that none of them could ever compete with girls younger than thirteen, who simply had the most sensuous skin, who had not yet been kissed, had not yet experienced arousal, which gave them the greatest allure - something they were of course fully aware of.

When I was fourteen years old, he openly began a relationship with a sixteen-year-old in my presence, although at the time he had a steady girlfriend in Cologne and two other casual relationships in Hamburg.
My father often spoke of women as "sluts" or "whores." Those were his favourite words, especially when talking about former, discarded girlfriends, or in reference to a current girlfriend if she irritated him in even the slightest way. In arguments, he always used these words. I heard these words, along with the word bitch, directed at my mother during arguments as far back as I can recall. Ulrike [2] was the only woman against whom he seldom dared use this word as a weapon.

Both of my aunts witnessed such scenes as far back as the 50s, and as young girls were subjected to my father's sexual innuendos.

The sexual innuendos were passed off as jokes when other people were around. What defined them was a combination of admiring, lyrical phrases, on the one hand, and derogatory and humiliating phrases, on the other. I myself have heard nothing but derogatory statements come out of my father's mouth about discarded girlfriends, as well as about my aunts long after they were adults. These put-downs were always sexist, nasty and hurtful.

Later, it was similar for my siblings and I. While he was extremely flattering to me as a child, when my siblings were "older than fourteen," he treated me, even in front of other people, in an extremely disparaging way. This, above all, took a sexist form - focussing on outward appearance, in any case: I had greasy hair, legs that were too fat, lips that were too thin, even unattractive.

My aunts also witnessed him having loud and abusive arguments with my mother, during which he raged, sobbed and screamed - he would overturn my crib, and then calm me by smothering me with kisses, claiming that this baby was the only person who understood him.

When I was five, I went with my father on a fourteen-day winter vacation in Rottach-Egern. During the holiday, we shared a double bed in a hotel room. Following pancakes and the ensuing stomach-ache, which triggered an intense fight in the room, I burst into tears. He hugged me, began to cry, referred to himself as an arsehole and vehemently begged my forgiveness. Later on, during such "forgiveness scenes," he would call me "his only woman" and "his beloved and the only one he had left," eliciting feelings of intense pity on my part. Under the pretext of taking an afternoon nap, he asked me to get into our large bed. When I was almost asleep, he pushed against me from behind and I felt something hard, while he embraced me and moaned ... when I was older, I realized that he had masturbated on my body, while desperately trying to hide this fact by crying.

My father, as he frequently stated in front of witnesses, acted on the assumption that girls wanted to seduce their fathers and were perfectly aware of the desires they were provoking. He called girls between the ages of five and twelve "little Lolitas" and described them as "coquettes" and "coy." I heard him say that sort of thing about a twelve-year-old, and he would often call my half-sister Bettina the "most sensuous baby that he had ever known."

My father was capable of wild silliness and could quickly charm children with games, rapidly gaining their trust, their love and their affection in the process. Once he had them, however, it didn't take long before he found them annoying and would provoke conflicts with them, just as he did with adults, which would always be followed by the same pathetic forgiveness ritual. This was his constant routine in the children's rooms when saying goodnight, if there were no other adults around to witness it. During these forgiveness rituals he would place the child on his lap, double himself over, cry, sob and imperceptibly squeeze the child against his genitals.

I can't count the number of times from my earliest childhood until I was fourteen (once I was fourteen, his attitude towards me changed, and he left me in peace) that after such conflicts he would talk about what an arsehole he was and how abysmally bad he was, never without hugging me tightly, progressing from sobbing to embracing, to caressing, and then to saying that I was "the only woman (!) he could love."

When I was twelve years old, he was sitting in his living room with a "discarded sweetheart" (so he had told me): love songs on the turntable, candlelight. Soon he wanted her to move closer on the couch, and soon I saw his hands on her breast. Out of fear of being in the way, I bumped into a lamp and got an electric shock. My subsequent screams drove him into a rage, during which he was very loud and abusive. Crying, I ran upstairs to the attic where I sometimes slept, and not long thereafter, he came up after me.

I was gripped by fear as soon as I heard his steps on the stairs. He came in and said that H. had sent him, and that he had behaved badly and should be more patient with me. Now he wanted to do that. With those words, he moved closer in the dark room, sat down on the edge of my bed and began to babble about being sorry. It was obvious that he became immediately sexually aroused whenever he apologized for something, which caused him to become even more insistent, more vehement and more into it, and soon he was talking about being an arsehole, asking me to forgive him, to please, please forgive him! The intensity of it seemed to make him restless and he fidgeted with his hands and didn't seem to know what to do with them. The entire time, I was dying of fear and laid there frozen. Suddenly, his hands were under the blankets and he was taking possession of my still childlike body. At this point, without speaking - he was very quiet about it - he began to caress my barely developed breasts. He caressed my belly, my hips...

This quieted him down. I lay there as if I was dead. He spoke some more about his monstrousness and about wanting me to forgive him, and he acted like nothing unusual had happened. It took a long time for him to finally leave me. Why had he behaved that way? What had he done? Why had he touched me in the most intimate of places? What was he trying to achieve? The whole time I was in the grip of the most immense fear and was unable to move. Weighed down with shame at the time, I felt like I was experiencing something no one should ever have to go through. In my mind, I repeated over and over again, "This shouldn't happen to anyone." What he did didn't hurt, but I didn't want it to happen. Yet, he acted as if I had clearly consented. He acted as if he were doing it for my sake. The entire time, he reasoned with me, spoke pleasantly about forgiveness and patience, played the loving father, while under the covers he was groping my body as if it belonged to him.

For hours after he finally got up and left my room, I was terrified he would return. Something bizarre had happened to me: my body had become alien to me. It was not that anything hurt: it was that he had made me his property. My body hadn't belonged to me: it had belonged to him. I hadn't wanted it, but my body had remained motionless. Why had it not been possible for me to say "NO!"?

For the rest of the night, I lay awake haunted by thoughts of how I would face him the next morning over breakfast. I would have liked to sink into the mattress forever.

Later, I told Ulrike about this experience, very carefully, in a coded way. I trusted her a good deal and had been very close to her from the age of five. I wrote to her about it in a letter from college about a year later, in 1969. I did so to explain why I could never move in with my father, in response to an invitation from her to live with them in Berlin if I wanted to. Attorney Heinrich Hannover [3] returned this letter to me decades later. He told me that she had wanted to use it to prove that it would be dangerous for her children to be turned over to their father and that he had paedophile tendencies. Often when he grabbed our thighs under our dresses as if by accident, as he constantly did, I would hear her tell him that he shouldn't "eroticize" us that way.

Under the pretext of showing me what it was like to be kissed on the mouth, he approached me for the last time on a moonlit night on a pier when I was fourteen years old. He explained to me that to make it more exciting it was very important to begin by gradually opening your mouth. As he demonstrated, gently pushing his tongue into my mouth, I felt like a cold piece of iron was being screwed into my mouth and shuddered with revulsion and shame.

Later on, if I saw my father casually sitting with a small child on his lap - he often sat his girlfriends' children on his lap and played horsey with them - I would gag.

One could describe all of this as "mild abuse." I will gladly leave it to others to come up with the appropriate term. A well-known book about abuse documents the case of an adult woman whose father was a very likeable fellow who was widely considered to be completely trustworthy. She was clearly his favourite child, and she felt that he loved her like no one else in the world. When he deflowered her at the age of twelve, it was a tender experience for both of them. It is true that her father was jealous when she had her first boyfriend at the age of seventeen, but eventually he integrated him into family life as her husband, demanding only regular visits and devotion. When, as a result of subconscious traces of the experience in his wife's dreams, her husband figured everything out and threatened to expose her father, the dutiful daughter went into the basement, got an axe and killed, not her father, but her husband. It was only ten years later, during so-called ongoing therapy, that everything came out, with the daughter arriving at the horrifying realization and confronting her father about it during a visit. A trembling old man stood before her, offering not a word of apology, but fearfully begging her not to tell "her mother" about those "things," no matter what.

When we think about abuse, we mostly think of threats, punishments and violence. In real life it's more complicated than that. The victim is often rendered dependent and docile with tenderness and love. The more gently it's carried out and the greater the degree of seeming consent on the part of the victim, the stronger the victim's tendency to succumb to maintaining lifelong silence and denial and to identifying with, if not idealizing, the offender as the model for the constantly sought after beloved.

Recently, there has been a discussion about the "Left-Wing Paedophiles" (taz, April 22, 2010). Given the Odenwaldschule [4] and the Indianerkommunen [5], it is important that these themes be addressed. In these places, paedophilia and the idea of "sexual liberation" were dealt with as if they were necessarily connected. I believe that these ideas were beside the point and that other factors have played and continue to play a significantly larger role.

My father was forced into the war at fourteen years of age. As a child, he developed a steely resolve as a result of constant humiliation and beatings. Could these things have anything to do with how he sees women, with his constant use of his favourite insult "slut" for women and girls, with his habit of involving helpless and defenceless children in masochistic forgiveness rituals following fits of rage and violence, accompanied by sexual arousal? I don't want to forgive it. I broke with my father a long time ago. I don't forgive him, but it is imperative that we understand the phenomenon. We must learn from it.

Even in the days of an ostensible tolerance of paedophilia as a "gentle," tender form of abuse based on the child's "consent" to sexual activity with adults and carried out with protestations of love, there existed, as taz reported, women's groups that violently protested this, finding it extremely dangerous. Were they in some way prudes or opponents of sexual liberation? No, they weren't, but they knew from their own painful experiences that this had nothing to do with liberation. To have an agreement with the offender - whether openly, as in the case of the "Indianerkommune," or secretly, as in the case of the aforementioned family - can seriously damage a child's inner self. They must not only defend, cover up and excuse the offender's abnormal desires, but unconsciously, as outlined above, they either deflect, redirect or transfer all their fear and any anger they feel onto others, or else have it rebound back upon themselves.

My alleged consent with my father, my alleged willingness, was the result of an unidentifiable fear. During all of these incidents, I was seized by an enormous fear. It left me frozen, shut my brain down and made time stand still. This fear wasn't the fear of pain or violence. This fear came from the sexualisation of tenderness - the tenderness that I experienced from my father, as part of a forbidden love. I was still a child, neither coquettish nor coy, neither seductive nor slutty, neither sensuous nor erotic. What my father believed I was, what he ascribed to me based on his sickness - for which he required treatment - makes up the core of my fear. There was an accusation behind it, an accusation that, in the midst of an apparently gentle act, I was unable to escape. My father surrounded me with this fear, and it will be with me until the end of my days.

German original:

N.B. All footnotes in this document were added by the translators. None are originally from the document itself.
[1] konkret was an important magazine for the West German New Left, founded by Klaus Rainer Röhl in 1957. The magazine initially received secret funding from the illegal Communist Party, but this was cut off in 1964 due to political disagreements with Röhl and Ulrike Meinhof, the magazine’s editor-in-chief. At that point, in order to make up the shortfall, Röhl arranged for the magazine to begin featuring photos of scantily clad women – its circulation almost tripled.  [return to text]
[2] A reference to Ulrike Meinhof, Klaus Rainer Röhl’s wife from 1961 until 1968 and a founding member of the Red Army Faction.  [return to text]
[3] Heinrich Hannover represented Ulrike Meinhof in her efforts to overturn the conditions of intense isolation she was held in after her 1972 arrest.  He also acted on her behalf in her efforts to prevent Klaus Röhl from gaining custody of their twin daughters Bettina and Regine after she went underground.  [return to text]
[4] Odenwaldschule is an anti-authoritarian boarding school, founded in 1910.  In the 1990s, former students accused the Director Gerold Becker of systematic sexual abuse throughout the 70s and 80s.  [return to text]
[5] The Indianerkommune (Indian Commune) was a paedophile adult and youth housing collective, initially located in Heidelberg and later in Nuremberg.  It contextualized itself as a “sexual liberation” organization and was the source of much debate and conflict on the German left in the 80s.  [return to text]

Friday, May 21, 2010

Moncourt and Smith on the Recent Statement by Some Former RAF Members

The following was written by André Moncourt and J. Smith, to provide some context for North American readers to the recent statement by some former members of the Red Army Faction. Moncourt and Smith are the co-editors and translators of The Red Army Faction, A Documentary History Volume 1: Projectiles for the People, co-published by PM Press and Kersplebedeb in 2009. For more about the Red Army Faction, visit

The events of 1977 that would come to be known as the “German Autumn” actually came at the end of a Red Army Faction offensive that had begun on April 7 of that year with the assassination of Attorney General Siegfried Buback, widely considered to be the state figure primarily responsible for the torture and murder of revolutionary prisoners.

The state’s initial suspects in this killing – Christian Klar, Knut Folkerts and Günter Sonnenberg – would all be arrested over the following years, and in each case would end up serving lengthy sentences: Sonnenberg, who suffered brain damage as a result of being shot in the head at the time of his capture, remained in prison for 15 years; Folkerts spent 18 years behind bars; and Klar was only released in 2008 after 28 years in prison.

In 2007, the thirtieth anniversary of the German Autumn, claims by two former RAF members – Verena Becker and Peter-Jürgen Boock – led to the Buback case being re-opened. Boock had surrendered in 1981, and has spent the subsequent years playing the part of the “repentant terrorist,” always available to publicly condemn his former comrades, providing testimony (and dubious allegations) against them at the courts’ and cops’ behest. For her part, Becker was arrested along with Günter Sonnenberg following a shootout with police on December 28, 1977. Unbeknownst to most, including many who continued to provide support to her as a RAF political prisoner, by 1981 she was cooperating with the German secret police – the Verfassungsschutz or “guardians of the constitution.” (In fact, Becker being an informant was only publicly disclosed in 2009.)

It has recently come to light that Becker informed her handlers in the spring of 1981 that Knut Folkerts had not been involved in the Buback shooting (on the day in question he was traveling to a RAF safehouse in Amsterdam with a new RAF recruit). Of course, this made no difference to the state’s ongoing case against him, as a result of which he would spend years behind bars in connection with the assassination.

Becker would eventually point the finger at Stefan Wisniewski, a former RAF member who was already serving a life sentence on separate charges, as the Buback shooter. She further identified Günter Sonneneberg as the driver of the motorcycle from which the deadly shots were fired and Christian Klar as the driver of the getaway car. Wisniewski, who never cooperated with the police, and who had never been charged with the killing, now faced the threat of new, serious charges.

On March 30, 2007, in a more than two-and-a-half hour telephone conversation with Michael Buback, the former Attorney General’s son, Peter-Jürgen Boock repeated these accusations. In light of these public allegations, in April 2007, current Attorney General Monika Harms filed to re-open the case. In 2008, former RAF member Brigitte Mohnhaupt along with Folkerts and Klar were all threatened with coercive detention if they did not provide information about the assassination – despite this, they all refused.

Nevertheless, a number of people, including Michael Buback himself, have expressed skepticism about Becker’s claims. Indeed, soon enough it became clear that much of the evidence pointed to Becker herself being the shooter: eyewitnesses described a small, agile person, probably a woman, firing the deadly shots; at the time of her arrest Becker was in possession of the submachine gun used in the shooting and a screwdriver from the motorcycle’s set; and it was Becker’s DNA that was found on the communiqué claiming responsibility for the assassination.

Matters went from bad to worse for Becker when police searched her home in August 2009 and found notes apparently ruminating on the Buback assassination. One read, “How am I to mourn for Herr Buback?” – a perhaps understandable sentiment that the BAW (the Federal Prosecutors Office) chose to interpret as an outright confession. Becker was arrested and held in remand until December 2009, when she was released on bail as a low flight risk (she has been living in her sister’s home in Berlin for twenty years, has no foreign contacts and requires a regular regime of medication).

In April 2010, twenty three years after the fact, Becker was charged as an accessory to the murder of Attorney General Siegfried Buback. Meanwhile, other former RAF members remain under investigation.

Shortly after these charges were laid, some former RAF members released the following document addressing these developments. The English translation was produced by the comrades in question. It provides an important counterpoint from some former guerillas speaking for themselves to the state’s ongoing uses and abuses of the “RAF boogeyman.”

Statement by Former RAF Members: A Note Regarding the Current Situation

The following was recently released some former members of the Red Army Faction. The translation was provided by the comrades in question. The Red Army Faction was an important urban guerilla organization active in developing armed opposition to imperialism in West Germany between 1970 and 1998 (for more information see

A note regarding the current situation – by some who have been RAF members at various points in time

For three years now, state security and the media have been speculating on who exactly killed attorney general Siegfried Buback and industrialist Hanns Martin Schleyer more than thirty years ago. Investigating agencies are trying to find evidence from other RAF attacks. As the last prisoners from the RAF barely emerge from prison, they are confronted with new prosecutions while others are issued testimony summons and threats of coercive detention. After the first wave in summer 2007 in the legal procedure against Stefan Wisniewski, a second attempt to elicit testimonies from us began late 2009 in the legal procedure against Verena Becker. Verena Becker was in the RAF in 1977. In 1983, we separated. Shortly, a court case will be started against her, apparently a prelude for further trials. Legal procedures against Stefan Wisniewski and Rolf Heissler continue to be pursued.

The apparent purpose is to obtain individual “recriminations”, i.e. to pressurize individuals to say who exactly did what. More than 30 years no-one really cared who was convicted for what. All that counted was to make us disappear behind bars. Suddenly, in 2007, with the media circus about “30 years after the German Autumn,” the “struggle for clarification” became the sixty-four-thousand-dollar question. Not enough that we have stated our collective responsibility for the attacks of the RAF. We should “finally” squeal in order to “give up the logic of conspiracy.”

What it is really all about is to pull down the debate on the history of armed struggle to the mere level of murder and violence. A level where contexts are torn apart and only dealt with in terms of criminalistics, so that no space whatsoever can be developed that would allow for considerations other than those determined in advance.

For some, we should “face” a “discussion” for which the conditions have already been fixed beforehand, with the aim of depoliticizing the RAF’s actions by personalization. Or, as the newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung commented on this issue, “Soon, political motives in this war will not be recognizable anymore. (...) The individualization and privatization of German terrorism is its last stage. What’s happening with it at the moment, is a case of applied historiopolicy: of retrospective transformation of the political into the personal.” (24 April 2007)

We are supposed to “come to terms with history” on any terms but ours. We are to “draw a line” no-one else is prepared to join and whose prerequisites are not even negociable. It is again a major attempt to bury actual experience, to prevent true learning processes, to isolate the different struggles from each other.
That would finally be it. End of story. A story of which nothing remains but self-accusation and mutual denunciation.

What triggered the whole thing were the preparations for a campaign that was aimed at creating publicity for the planned racket in autumn 2007 and the film productions that followed. Between late 2005 and late 2006, contributors to Der Spiegel left no stone unturned to try and win us over for a tv-series directed by Der Spiegel editor-in-chief Stefan Aust. Something new was needed to feed the campaign. Anecdotes, gossip, chit-chat, to try and provide the whacked “contemporary witnesses” with some credibility.

As we know, this only resulted in the reprocessing of old “revelations”, but in the meantime Aust’s protégé Peter-Jürgen Boock was pushed forward to get hold of the “victims of the RAF”. Since nothing could be squeezed out of the “experts” and “crown witnesses” anymore, some politicians demanded in public that the last prisoners from the RAF be released only if they “name names”. By the end of March 2007, Boock used this opportunity to instrumentalize the son of attorney general Buback for his umpteenth culprit version. This time with the names of exactly those who had not yet been convicted for the attacks in question.

That was a real gift for the media, who immediately started the counting-out game. With an old police trick which simply turns the tables: in the end, sufficient denials would automatically lead to the real culprits. One day after a talkshow with Boock in late April 2007, Karl-Heinz Dellwo in a Panorama interview came up with the following: “I definitely know cases in which people were completely innocent and have done time for others. ” Asked if we should name names, he answered, “people must decide that for themselves.” Two weeks later Knut Folkerts stumbled into the trap and in an interview with Der Spiegel declared his innocence in the Buback case. For the Office of the Attorney General, the media fuss was sufficient to formalize legal procedures accordingly.

The RAF was dissolved in 1998, based on its assessment of the changed political situation globally. The fact that it was its own decision and that it has not been defeated by the state, obviously remains a thorn in the flesh. Hence the eternal lament of the “myth” yet to be destroyed. Hence the political and moral capitulation demanded from us. Hence the attempts to finalize the criminalization of our history, upto the mendacious proposal of a “Truth Commission”. Whereas the search for those who are still underground, the smear campaigns in the media and the legal procedures against former prisoners continue, we are expected to kowtow publicly. As, in all these years, it didn’t work by “renunciation”, we are now to denounce each other. Save yourself if you can.

None of us has testified, not because of any specific “agreement” among us, but because it is a matter of course for anyone with a political consciousness. A question of dignity, of identity – of the side we once took.

Not to testify is not a RAF invention. It has been an experience of the liberation movements and guerilla groups that it is vital to provide no information whatsoever when in custody, in order to protect those who continue the struggle. We have the historical examples of the resistance against fascism. Whoever seriously wanted something politically over here has reflected on these and learned from these. In the student movement, the refusal of testimonies was a widely understood necessity when its criminalization started. Ever since, militants in various contexts have been confronted with the question. For us within the RAF, it has just as much been a necessary condition that no-one testifies. There is no other protection – for those in prison, for the group outside and for the illegal space as such, its movements, its structures and its relationships.

But also like this. We don’t testify because we are no state witnesses, not then, not now.
Through all these years, despite “screensearch” technologies, the highly armed state security apparatus hasn’t been able to obtain a reasonably comprehensive picture of our movements. Even those who, under the pressure of isolation, smear campaigns and blackmail, broke down and were used as “crown witnesses”, could not contribute to completing the picture. The bits and pieces put together by state security agencies haven’t been very useful for general counterinsurgency purposes. They have no clue of the approach, the organization, the traces, the dialectics of an urban guerilla in the metropolis. And there is no reason to help them out on this. The RAF’s actions have been discussed and decided collectively when we agreed. All of us, who in a particular period have been part of the group and shared these decisions, obviously have the responsibility for these as well. We have stated this several times, and the way we relate to it doesn’t change by the fact that the RAF is history.

The RAF’s collective structure has been attacked right from the start. It was not supposed to exist, it had to be old school, authoritarian relationships, “officers and soldiers”, ringleaders and followers. Those were the compulsory terms for the police, for the propaganda, and those are their terms today. The judiciary, however, considering itself at the “forefront” against “state enemy number one”, was lacking evidence in court due to our lack of collaboration. Its solution was the “conspiracy” paragraph 129/129a, with which everyone could be made responsible for everything. That’s what the verdicts have been based on, partly, and criminalistic details were only used to suppress political contexts.

In contrast, testimonies which we sometimes provided in the trials against us, during the years of prison, have been determined collectively, as a possibility to say something against the worst shithouse propaganda. For us it was hardly of any importance what the state security’s or judiciary’s attributes and constructions consisted of in detail. We were in prison because we started armed struggle over here, and our interest during the trials in court was, at best, to convey the contents and aims of our policy. A policy of attack in the metropolis which understood and determined its praxis in the context of struggles worldwide for the liberation from capitalism.

If anything remains to be said, then with regard to this policy.

May 2010

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

I’ve Learned to Dissimulate: Michael Ryan's Introduction to Clenched Fists, Empty Pockets

Clenched Fists Empty PocketsClenched Fists, Empty Pockets is a pamphlet recently published by Kersplebedeb, comprised of texts by Swedish working-class activists detailing their experiences in their country's middle-class left. This edition also includes an introduction by Michael Ryan, presenting his own experiences in the North American left.

I’ve Learned to Dissimulate
Introduction to the North American Edition of Clenched Fists, Empty Pockets, by Michael Ryan

What interest could a pamphlet cataloguing the personal experiences of a series of Swedish working-class activists with the middle-class left of their country have for a North American public? In his introduction to the German-language edition, Gabriel Kuhn describes Sweden’s working-class movement as the “most institutionally successful in Europe,” pointing out that the Swedish Social Democratic Party has only lost four elections since 1920, that the CP (and its successor, the Left Party) has held seats in parliament almost without interruption since 1917 and that the anarcho-syndicalist-oriented Swedish Workers Central Organization has been active since 1910.

Certainly, these are conditions that are not even superficially similar to those that reign in North America. In the U.S., there is no institutional workers’ party – people call the Democratic Party the left for fuck’s sake – the CP plays no noticeable role and anarcho-syndicalism exists, to the degree that it does at all, in a mist of nostalgic romanticism.

In Canada, the situation isn’t much better. The social democratic New Democratic Party has never broken out of opposition at a federal level and is widely discredited at the provincial level, and there is little organized working-class left to speak of beyond that.

However, the significance of this pamphlet does not lie in comparing European and North American societies. Rather, what is important here is the skill with which the authors in this pamphlet elucidate the complexities of what they call a “class journey.” By “class journey” the authors mean more than simply clawing one’s way up the economic food chain. In his essay included here, co-editor Fredric Carlsson-Andersson addresses this issue directly: “It isn’t only your job that determines your class, nor is it the amount of money you’re paid. Among other things, it’s a question of values and cultural preferences.” It is from these aspects that the concept of “class journey” derives its poignancy. As Atilla Pişkin points out in his piece, when people from the working class choose to act on middle-class terrain – and the alternative left is certainly such a terrain – “They land on unfamiliar territory. Once there, they have to establish themselves anew.”

When Carlsson-Andersson recounts once attending a Marxist-Leninist reading group, but not returning because he “didn’t understand the language they were speaking” or when Kakan Hermansson speaks of middle-class activists “steamrolling over workers with Marx quotes,” it’s immediately familiar. Many years ago, I (like Carlsson-Andersson, only once) attended a Maoist study group. I was shocked to hear people praising Stalin. When I asked for clarification, I was instructed to prepare a self-criticism and handed a reading list to help me do so – paternalism and a sense of superiority meant to make me feel small.

I was done with Maoism, but I was far from done with the left. I may never have done that “self-criticism,” but I had learned an important lesson: the cornerstone of middle-class leftism is the manipulation of words, the use of words as weapons – not so much against the class enemy as in an endless competition for ideological hegemony on their own terrain. I could not possibly estimate the number of hours I spent in smoky bars and trendy cafés discussing the working class, oppression, exploitation, alienation, sexism, racism, and so on and so forth. I mastered the basics of Marx, Engels, Lenin and Mao. I dabbled in Rosa Luxemburg and Che Guevara. I lapped up the European intellectuals: the Frankfurt School, Lukács, Korsch, Gramsci … I got my requisite Fanon, Nkrumah, Lumumba. I encountered intellectual feminism in the form of Kate Millet, Germaine Greer, Simone de Beauvoir, Shulamith Firestone … Thusly armed, I entered the game that Carlsson-Andersson succinctly portrays in the following way: “I watched how others made their moves: first this side, then the other side – just like a board game.”

Indeed, I could counter your Marx quote with my Luxemburg quote, trump your Engels with my Adorno, silence you with a snippet of Fanon, blast you with a bit of de Beauvoir. What did any of that have to do with the liberation of the working class (or anyone else)? Nothing, actually. The real objective is quite accurately characterized by Atilla Pişkin: “Shining brightly in conversations has no goal beyond shining brightly in conversations. It is part of ensuring one’s status.”

As Fredric Carlsson-Andersson and Atilla Pişkin explain in their introduction, “one can come from the working class and learn the rules of the middle class. … Even if you manage that … you will never feel like you completely belong.” And that’s the rub: the so-called “class journey” is not a smooth transition from one class to another – at least that hasn’t been my experience – it is to some degree a betrayal. When reading Carlsson-Andersson’s account of Ronny Ambjörnsson giving “childhood friends a phony address when he met them for the first time in ten years, to prevent them from visiting him,” I had to cringe, recalling an occasion on which I pretended to be unavailable when a childhood friend was passing through town – I was afraid he would embarrass me in front of my middle-class leftist friends with his lack of sophistication.

When Atilla Pişkin writes, “I’ve been moving in your circles for such a long time that hardly any of you would guess that I come from the working class. I’ve learned to dissimulate,” he is describing an important part of my experience. What, however, is the cost of this sort of “passing”? One may “land on unfamiliar territory” in the process, but this territory is not unfamiliar simply because it is new: it is in fact a sort of no man’s land between two territories, between two classes, if you will. Should you succeed in mastering the rules of the middle class, learning the language(s), absorbing the appraisal of the arts, learning, as Fredric Carlsson-Andersson puts it, “to drink tea out of expensive Moomin cups” – you will find yourself alienated from your own class roots, from your own community.

But there is more than that to this dissimulation. If you eventually learn to move smoothly among the middle class, if you read their books, watch their films, discuss issues using their language, you will only reinforce their myth of a world where the middle class is the norm – a myth so powerful in North America as to have become a truism of sorts. They may confide in you about their university “salad years” when they were “very poor.” They may tell you about the job they had for a while waiting tables or pumping gas – the genuine working-class experience that gives them the insight that allows them to opine about the solution to the “problems” faced by the working class. You may be exposed to the galling romanticization of the working class that marks so much of left middle-class rhetoric: the purity of spirit that arises from an honest day’s work with one’s hands – they know because they did it one summer. There is no malevolence intended. They aren’t intentionally trivializing the lives of others. Theirs is simply the blindness bred by the certainty that arises from a sense of entitlement that is to all intents and purposes a reflex.

For a working-class individual, a person who must live in the world beyond the abstractions of the left debate, the choices available – remaining in the working class or engaging in the sort of “class journey” this pamphlet explores – are both grim in their own way. I was young, only in my early teens, when I began to gravitate to the alternative left. It was the early 70s and both the student revolt and the socio-cultural youth revolt offered a poignant counterpoint to the life that otherwise lay ahead of me – a life that I explored off and on for the better part of a decade in my late teens and early twenties, when I worked first in an outboard motor factory and subsequently for the railroad. Anyone who romanticizes factory work is an idiot – at least that’s how it appears to me. Factory work is dirty, dangerous and – when non-unionized, as was the case for me – poorly paid. It cost me some of my hearing and damaged my lungs.

The railroad was, however, a much more sobering experience. It was a “good job.” The union was more than a bit yellow, but the pay was generous, the conditions were acceptable, the work was secure and the pension at the end was reasonable – the trade off: long hours and an erratic work schedule. It offered access to the trappings of a middle-class life – a home in the suburbs, a couple of cars, a few weeks a year vacationing in some interchangeable “sun spot,” maybe a small country home with a barbecue in the back yard. I knew it was a “good deal,” and I knew I had an important decision to make: I quit, and my “class journey” began in earnest.

It soon became obvious it would be a one-way journey. The further I drifted into alternative left intellectualism, the further I drifted from the stable Irish Catholic working-class community in which I had grown up. The more I came to see myself as part of the revolutionary working-class left, the more middle-class my milieu became, until, in the end, I was gazing across an unimaginable abyss at the “land” I had come from. When I visited the family I had largely left behind, I felt like a tourist. We no longer shared an experience – in truth, we no longer shared even a language.

Although I had become estranged from my roots, from the very experiences that had first formed my worldview, I had not in the process become a comfortable member of the left to which I had gravitated. I joined that left looking for solutions to the many layers of oppression that make up the fabric of our society. What I found was a milieu where books replaced human exchange, where clever quotes replaced dialogue, where issues were most smoothly dealt with when they were at a significant geographical distance. I found a world where every imaginable oppression was sifted, graded and slotted into a curious and subjective hierarchy – women’s oppression; the oppression of gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgendered people; of indigenous peoples; of whites in the First World; of Third World peoples; of animals; of the planet itself – but sometime in the 90s, the idea that the working class no longer existed in the First World began to gain currency.

Kakan Hermansson addresses this issue in her essay included in this pamphlet. She writes, “When I was at secondary school, young conservatives explained to me that there was no longer a working class, because most of the factories and mines had been closed. Today, I hear the same argument from the left.” How is one to understand this glaringly sweeping blind spot, given that it is quite literally impossible to leave one’s home without everywhere seeing the working-class people who maintain the infrastructure of our society? It seems to me that such a distortion could only arise in a situation in which ideology trumps reason and the myth of the middle-class society has been uncritically embraced – in a situation in which the pedantic sifting of the relationship to the means of production becomes more important than experienced oppression. It is a delusion that someone from the working class, regardless of how far she or he may have proceeded on a “class journey,” could only countenance at the cost of self-negation. And it is just that sort of self-negation that makes up the many contours of the journey from the working class to the middle class – and nowhere more so than on the left.

This is not a problem that will be easily addressed and resolved, but it is a problem that must be resolved if the left hopes to constitute something more than a parlour game played with big words and obtuse concepts. I’ve read your books. There’s a lot that’s of value in them. However, something critical is missing – the genuine voices of working-class people. No longer should working-class people be faced with a choice between continued oppression and embracing alienation. It’s time for you to listen. This pamphlet is a good starting point.

Clenched Fists, Empty Pockets: true life experiences of working-class activists in the middle class left

Clenched Fists Empty PocketsHot off the copy machine, Clenched Fists Empty Pockets is a pamphlet just released by Kersplebedeb, examining the true life experiences of working-class activists in the middle class left.

In Clenched Fists Empty Pockets six working-class activists from Sweden discuss their experiences with class and middle-class hegemony in a variety of left-wing scenes and organizations. In doing so they flesh out the complexities and limits of what in Sweden is referred to as a “class journey.” Dealing with more than economic realities, the authors grapple with the full gamut of cultural and social class hierarchies that are embedded in the society and the left.

As Fredric Carlsson-Andersson and Atilla Pişkin explain in their introductory essay:

The texts gathered here deal with the left as well, but in a different way: they address an alternative movement that regularly talks about the working class, but often in circles that lack even a single working-class member. In particular, though, the texts are about us: comrades from the working class who find themselves on the left, and who find themselves feeling lost and out of place – obviously, not always, but often enough. It’s easy to imagine the left as unconditionally welcoming. However, that’s not the case. As in all other scenes, the left has strict standards of right and wrong. It can take years to learn all of the rules.

This selection of essays was originally published in a German pamphlet, itself a selection of texts from the Swedish book En knuten näve i fickan, published by Yelah in 2008. The German pamphlet was published under the title Mit geballter Faust in der Tasche: Klassenkonflikte in der Linken–Debatten aus Schweden by Syndikat-A in March 2009.

This english-language edition contains a new preface by translator Gabriel Kuhn, and an introduction by former Montreal activist Michael Ryan.
Regular price $4.50, available directly from for $3.00 - click here to order.

Product Details
edited by Fredric Carlsson-Andersson and Atilla Pişkin
translated by Gabriel Kuhn and André Moncourt
saddle-stitched pamphlet
36 pages
published by Kersplebedeb in 2010
ISBN 978-1-894946-34-6