Detroit Seen


Fifth Estate # 347, Spring, 1996

Welcome to our 30th anniversary issue—although you are reading this as we are already into our 31st year. 1965 seems like ancient history or just a heartbeat away, depending on your current age. The cover logo on page one over our chronicle comes from our 1968-71 period.

As always we would like to express our gratitude to each reader, each Sustainer, each contributor. On the occasion of this anniversary, we feel this sense of gratitude even more deeply. Without your support, none of this would happen. We appreciate the patience with which all of you tolerate our sporadic publishing schedule although we have given up promising to appear more frequently.

We’re planning a celebration on Sat., April 13 (see notice on this page) to give formal recognition to the passing of our third decade with a wild party. We hope as many of you as possible will join us.

What could be a better recommendation for British director, Ken Loach’s excellent film about the Spanish civil war and revolution, “Land and Freedom,” than the fact that the national committee of the Communist Party-dominated Abraham Lincoln Brigade has pressured its Detroit members not to participate in a local conference where it is being shown?

Though the Brigade is romanticized by liberals and Stalinists alike as having “fought the good fight,” the international volunteers actually functioned as counterrevolutionary adjuncts to their sponsor.

Although many combatants in the Brigade were genuinely moved by the fight against fascism—and believed the CP lies that anarchists and trotskyists were agents of Franco—others knew better and dutifully carried out Stalin’s policies in Spain.

One such veteran of our acquaintance was a commissar in the Brigade who bragged to us without remorse that he had “killed more anarchists and trotskyists than fascists” in the Civil War. “Land and Freedom,” based loosely on Orwell’s Homage to Catalonia, sets the record straight, so no wonder these apologists for counterrevolution are irate.

Society of the Spectacle, Detroit Dept.: A local man shot himself to death in front of hundreds of onlookers following a standoff with police in September. He had just killed his mother-in-law and was cornered on a freeway where he kept the cops at bay by holding a gun to his head and threatening to shoot himself.

Onlookers displayed a festive air with many wielding camcorders and still cameras. Others did play-by-play accounts of the action for family and friends on cellular phones. Maybe the crowd had dreams of selling their footage to TV, but more likely, in a world where everything has become entertainment, they were merely creating home videos for personal consumption with themselves as the news anchor.

The Trumbullplex, Detroit’s anarchist housing and theatre collective, has risen phoenix-like from the ashes of a fire at one of their houses last September. With the help of residents and friends, the house is healed, and with the advent of Spring, performance programs will begin again.

The collective is currently looking for housemates for their two-dwelling, direct democracy, mutual aid, anti-authoritarian project.

Contact them at 4210 Trumbull, Detroit MI 48208, or phone 313/832-0114 and ask for Kim or Cara.

Visits, donations and ideas are perpetually and joyfully accepted. Call for upcoming theatre events.

Wish Us A Happy 30th Anniversary; We Need It

Unforeseen expenses, in addition to the skyrocketing cost of newsprint, have made this issue the most costly we’ve ever printed. It has brought our bank account to zero.

To keep the Fifth Estate solvent, we’re asking readers for donations when renewing subscriptions or ordering books; even an extra dollar is helpful. Or, consider holding a fund-raiser for the paper. Please contribute so we can maintain our office and keep publishing.

Send donations to 4632 Second Ave., Detroit MI 48201.