Detroit Seen


Fifth Estate # 328, Spring, 1988

Greetings to all and as usual, a special thanks to those who have added a contribution to their subscription renewal or book order. Also, to that small group who have elected to become Fifth Estate Sustainers—those who donate a fixed sum each issue. One of the reasons why Sustainers are limited is that we rarely promote the category or indicate how important it is to us. Sustainers are sent the issue first class, receive publications from time to time and free admission to local FE events. This issue we sent Sustainers a tabloid we produced in conjunction with the Evergreen Alliance as part of the opposition to the Detroit Incinerator, and the next issue will be accompanied (hopefully) by the soon-to-be published last book by Fredy Perlman, The Strait. So, if we have enticed you, please drop us a line and let us know how much you can pledge each issue.

By the way, the incinerator tabloid mentioned above is what we were referring to in our Summer 1987 edition when we spoke of our involvement in other projects which kept us away from publishing the FE. The incinerator tabloid is available from us for 39 cents postage.

A long delayed fund-raising dinner was held here in November to provide money for anti-authoritarian publications and political victims of the state. Actually, it turned out to be an anarcho-brunch with great food and a collection which netted $425 from the 25 friends attending. The funds were divided between the following projects, all of which we urge you to contact and support. The fact that any number of fine publications and projects did not receive a donation should not be interpreted as a lack of support.

The 1988 Toronto Anarchist Gathering, Box 435, Stn. P, Toronto, Ont. M5S 2S9, $150;

Alien-Nation, Box 10122, Olympia WA 98502, $50;
Lomakatsi, Box 633, 1377 K St. NW, Washington DC 20005, $50;

Anarchy: a journal of desire armed, Box 380 Columbia MO 65205, $50;

Reality Now, Box 6326, Stn. A, Toronto, Ont., M5W 1P7, $20;

Mayday Newsletter, 1459 W. Foster, Chicago IL 60640, $20;

Kick It Over, Box 5811, Stn A, Toronto, Ont., M5W 1P2, $35;

Dialogue, 916 Euterpe St., New Orleans LA 70130, $30;

Counter Information, 43 Candlemaker Row, Edinburgh, Scotland, UK, $20;

The Wimmins Prisoner Survival Network, PO Box 6326 Station A, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M5W 1P7, $10.00.

We’ve decided to revive what we called in the 1960s, the Fifth Estate Speakers Bureau, which sent staff members and others connected with what we called the revolutionary movement out to colleges, high schools, churches and union locals around the country. Why the term “bureau” was selected is down the memory hole, but perhaps it was chosen due to our softer position on bureaucracies and bureaucrats at the time. In any event, the speakers were generally well received and often had the effect of encouraging rebellion in the particular venue where we were invited, often to the consternation of the host. Back then it seemed the only topics we spoke about were the war in Vietnam, the Black Panther Party and the White Panther Party—both of which we shared platforms and common politics with. Today, we can offer a much larger range of subjects such as technology and society, the impact of the media, anarchism, ecology, the Detroit incinerator, the 1960’s and contemporary social movements, Central America and U.S. empire, the decision to bomb Hiroshima, the primitive vision, and more. We are willing to speak just about anywhere that seems reasonable in terms of time, place and distance (the latter could even be overcome if arrangements are made).

So let us know if you think we could enliven your class, debate or meeting; you can reach us through our box number or call (313) 831-6800.

While some liberals still insist that the media has a “duty” to inform the populace, the corporate owners see their only obligations as realizing a profit for their investors while functioning as the ideological apparatus which affirms and protects the power relationships of the empire. It then certainly bespeaks a certain naivete if anyone remains shocked that the newspapers and television play fast and loose with the truth, particularly as it relates to opposition to official policy.

Even all said, it still is startling to see the length to which the media will go to misrepresent and diminish even the weakest protests, It is as if they sense the flimsy house of cards this system is built upon and that even tepid objection has the potential of pulling down the ‘whole shabang.

A case in point is the coverage by the Detroit Free Press (sic) and News of an October 4 christian/leftist/liberal anti-intervention/anti-apartheid demonstration held at Detroit’s Federal Building. Although the former paper is a “liberal” daily and the other overtly rightist, both underestimated (in standard fashion) the number attending by one-half to two-thirds (our count was about 1,500). However, the real hatchet job came with the photographs each ran beside their stories. The News (or the Noose as it used to be called) featured a shot of the crowd with a banner from the Communist Party prominently displayed, while the Free Press ran a similar one with a banner from the Marxist-Leninist Party-USA dominating the photo.

The liberals howled in protest to the publisher of the Free Press who answered in print that there had been no intent to red-bait the politically moderate crowd and the photo had been chosen randomly under the rush of their deadline. Operating a newspaper ourselves, this explanation rang hollow knowing that all items in a paper are chosen with at least some forethought. Particularly with a politically charged issue, someone realized exactly what the photos would convey.

But why bother with these slugs? Their task is to lie about the world and they’re doing a fine job. Isn’t it time for the shock to subside and to start generating our own publications?

A special note of gratitude needs to be expressed to the anonymous donor who sent a $500 gift to the Fifth Estate so we could “upgrade typesetting equipment.” It must be someone who knows of our plight in the matter, faced as we are with having our current aging machine declared officially and irrevocably OBSOLETE by IBM This essentially means that we will no longer be able to have repairs done on it and that the next time it breaks down, the curtain will lower on that era of typesetting for us. This means that we will no longer be able to produce our type here, and that we are now faced with the prospect of entering the computer age, something we all loathe thought of.

Our opposition is more than just to the specific technology of computers, but also to the manner in which they have rearranged the world in their own image.

So strong is the opposition to us acquiring one among certain members of our staff, that a few have said they will refuse to work in the office if one is purchased. In fact, none of us want one, but what is our alternative? We have investigated the possibility of a modern typewriter, but found they possess the same technology (on a rudimentary basis) as the larger computers without giving the quality or diversity of functions they would provide.

So, we have done nothing. The gracious gift remains in the bank while we try to decide whether to surrender to the dictates of technology, which never suggests, only demands. Any ideas?