Detroit Seen


Fifth Estate # 332, Summer, 1989

Amazing! This issue follows the last faster than any one since we became a quarterly ten years ago. In good part it is motivated by the quickening pace of political events throughout the world and the sense that revolution is once again afoot in the land (even in the United States and even in Detroit!).

Each issue we search our imaginations for unique ways to thank the many of you who make this project possible by contributing extra money, renewing your subscription and buying books. Perhaps nothing more is necessary than stating our appreciation that your support is in the finest tradition of mutual aid.

Sharp-eyed observers of typography may notice a somewhat different look to our copy lay-out. We were given an officially “obsolete,” circa 1971 Compuwriter, Jr. photo-compositor, which turns out justified type columns (straight right-hand edge copy). It prints by standard photo chemical development, and is not a computer, though it is a step along the way.

Not that we haven’t been slowly backed into a corner by what seems almost inexorable, creeping computerization (which actually affirms the discussions in these pages about the deterministic nature of mass technics). The infernal machines keep sneaking in, or in the style of “the first one is always free,” are regularly offered. Sometimes computer headlines and even copy (like on the facing page)end up on our pages because they have been liberated from workplaces. Other times, they end up in the FE (as in the last special issue, produced by Freddie Baer on a Macintosh, or a couple of articles in the previous issue by friends who sent in copy typed on computers) because they are the apparatus of choice of our collaborators.

We remain committed to the upkeep of our ancient IBM Selectric Composer, which still provides copy, but which frequently threatens to give up the ghost. Our more recent contact with the IBM Composer Network (there’s something out there for everybody), and through them, the repair manual, means that we will probably manage to hang on to this jalopy for a number of years to come. The discussions in our collective meetings have made us all painfully aware once more that the social-technological forces that we critique are also forces that have a direct effect on our own activities, that our ideas do not make us immune to the problem we have attempted to explicate over the last several years. Even the question of chemicals has come up with the new machine, but we still think that picking over what others have thrown on capitalism’s junkpile is preferable to going into the showroom for the latest model.

In many ways, the matter is similar to the automobile: we may look forward to a ride cross country to an anarchist gathering, but do so without relinquishing an understanding of the role cars play in the destruction of human social relationships and the natural world.

The Cass Corridor Community Center, located at 223 E. Canfield, and funded by the Women’s Own Collective, opened recently. This storefront center strives to be multi-cultural both in membership and activities, honoring diversities of age, ethnicity and sexual preference. Events and services planned for the center include: performances, art exhibits, classes, self-help groups, films and flea markets. Although membership in the collective itself is for women only, everyone is invited to make use of the center. They are in need of women volunteers to help on a variety of projects. Contributions in the form of money, and clothing to pass on to others are also needed.

For more information, write: Women’s Own, P.O. Box 11440, Detroit, MI 48211.

This issue is missing a few articles that were planned and were not ready when deadline came, particularly an article on the Alaska oil spill, which hopefully will be done for our next issue. We hope to have an article as well in the next issue on recent events in China, written by a friend about to return to North America after several months of travel in the region.