a selection of articles from synthesis issue 5

  • Introduction
  • Body Image
  • The *F* Word
  • Girl Zine Explosion!
  • Come out wherever you are
  • Frankenfood!
  • Uruguay Scene Report
  • Interview with Brazil's Dominatrix
  • HC Festivals at War!
  • Saxon Wood
  • Censored News
  • Censored News-blood for oil
  • Hardcore Predictions for 2010
  • Interview With God, or 'Stella' as she likes to be known...
  • Anti-emo
  • Gentrification
  • Survey-Human Nature
  • Article-Human Nature
  • Survey-It's a small world after all
  • Ten Years Punk

    Go Back to Synthesis Zine Home Page

    Introduction - New Cross, London, Summer 1999

    In the past year I have moved back to London, started my doctoral research, heard lots of great new music from Austrian, French, and South American bands, attained a certificate of German proficiency, got a nice sunburn a cool henna tattoo and a nasty case of poison ivy, read thousands of zines and made thousands of tapes for friends (so it seems), put on my first gig, contributed to more zines than I kept count of, distro'd 500 copies of Synthesis 4, missed seeing Jello Biafra's speaking tour (twice) and seeing him at my local pub (once) but I did see bell hooks speak at my college, learned how to ollie after more than 8 years trying (thanks Alex!!), went to too many gigs, distroed scores of zines to dozens of kids, protested against capitalism, the arms trade and animal exploitation, watched a solar eclipse (97% in London), climbed a tree, played with a baby donkey, started a vegan society at college with lots of nice art students... London has had a 3-month heat wave and been bombed by a neo-nazi, the Metropolitan police got away with bungling the Stephen Lawrence case, Iraq is still being bombed, Britain and the US have bombed the buggery out of Serbia, and as usual whoever may be said to have won it is women who have lost, Prime Minister Tony Blair is trying to enforce more curfews on children, Hillgrove (cat vivisection) Farm has been closed by UK direct activists, and East Timor is gaining independence. The second millennium is coming to an end and who really gives a dome? Pinochet is being extradited...

    Hardcore Preamble
    I get fed up with hardcore sometimes. but Like Andreas wrote in I Hate the World That I Think Hates Me 2, 'this is my home and I'm not a quitter'. Actually I found some invaluable insight about that in Retrogression zine. The editor pointed out that anywhere you go, whatever type of people you meet whether it's in the hardcore scene or outside, 95% of those people will be crap and only interested in consuming and being entertained. But we don't have to do anything for their benefit. It's that 5% of sincere folks that make our involvement worthwhile. I see a lot of things in the scene and in the world in general that need improving. I am not defensive about it and I hope nobody gets defensive about my perspectives and that everyone can take it in the spirit in which it is meant. If anything is worth doing, it is worth doing well and with the highest possible ideals, the best possible intentions and with the most benefit for everybody.

    'If you are that uncritical of hardcore, you do not love the scene. You accept it.' -Robyn of Alice is an Island zine

    Recently I've been learning how small London really is. Everywhere I go I run into people I know. Then there is this rather cosy way the various corners of my world have closed in on each other. I used to think I moved in all these different social circles, but now I see them all converging. Even all the new people I meet, in whatever situation we happen to meet, end up knowing or even being related to everyone else I know. It has become inevitable that people I come across will have strong connections to my college, my part of town, punk, veganism/animal rights, cycling, the quakers. anarchism... Not just one of these, but almost all of them at once! I've spent all my life moving about and I got used to the process of settling into a new place, getting to know people and making new friends few of whom I would have much in common with and few of whom I would manage to keep in touch with as we move on to new towns, Universities, countries... This may be a surging metropolis, but I'm now on friendly terms with the folks at the local shops and have gotten used to greeting strangers as just friends I haven't met yet. After five years in London, I guess this is what it is like to really be settled in a place. And I wouldn't want to live anywhere else.

    Good stuff
    Julie Burchill's Guardian columns
    Radio 4
    Powell & Pressburger films
    Oscar Wilde's De Profundis
    Charity shops
    Soyacchinos (xdecafx of course)
    Cycling to Blackheath and Shooters Hill
    My new cookbook from the national vegan festival
    Repeats of The Good Life on BBC1
    Getting my new hand-made touring bicycle

    Bad Stuff
    Bicycle repairs
    Getting fined for cycling through a t-junction
    (Home Secretary)Jack Straw
    The man who hangs around outside our flat harassing the female residents

    Girls! Love Your Bodies!

    (it doesn't matter if anyone else does)

    Someone once wrote that without men the world would be full of fat, happy women. They had a point.

    Most days I go to a gym as part of my physiotherapy. This is a womenªfs only gym and therefore the only one I have been to where women were not a very small minority confined to the step machines and ab-cradles. There is a pretty right-on atmosphere there. When you join they ask you what you want to use the gym for and give you a personal exercise programme to follow so you get a pretty thorough workout. If you say you want to ªelose weightªf, they kindly correct you by saying ªeOh, you want to get fitªf.

    Whenever I go I see all sorts of people, obese young women from the local afro-caribbean community who tend to spend lots of time on the walking/running machines, well fit very young white women who tend to use free weights a lot, bulky but very fit young black women, muscley lesbians with lots of tattoos and unnatural tans, harassed-looking white middle aged mothers whose husbands probably told them they had 'let themselves go'. A couple of times every day there are various classes including the early-morning aerobics that some people take before work and the evening kickboxing classes that are populated by a young clientele (yes, I did go once but I really did not enjoy it at all).

    Apart from the awful music from the crap pop radio stations blasting throughout, there is a fairly positive atmosphere in my gym. There is a noticeable difference in this one than all my previous gyms, which seemed to be dens of testosterone. Some people are actually put off going to gyms when they know they will be full of these lads strutting about and being territorial over the equipment. I once asked the manager why my current gym is women-only. Someone else said it is because men smell, but I donªft think that was very significant. One thing was the availability of machines because a man will tend to monopolise the machine he is using so that even when he is finished he stays at the equipment to rest. The equipment is also pretty specialised. There arenªft many free weights and instead lots of cardio-vascular and lower-body stuff. The truth is that women tend to want to go to gyms to get smaller legs rather than bigger biceps. My experience is that men at gyms are very possessive and territorial about equipment so that if you go towards some that seems to be free they will tell you off not very nicely. Of course there is also that general awful atmosphere of competition and machismo at gyms with men in them.

    This is something genuinely discouraging if you want to just go and do your exercise the best you can in a relaxing atmosphere without feeling judged or pressured or harassed. I believe absolutely that most of the members here would not join a gym at all if it were not women-only. There is something more welcoming and inviting and less daunting about a women-only gym. But mine is dominated by female rather than male energy, and that female essence is sometimes one of palpable self-hatred. Walking into the cardio-vascular area, one can feel various degrees of misery, frustration and loathing that makes up many of these womenªfs experiences of their bodies. So few seem contented with their bodies.

    The staff are far from being the most fit-looking people there, but they donªft seem to be bothered; they know they have the ability to instruct the members in their exercise programmes and that one does not need to have a ªeperfectªf body to exercise properly. The one or two butch lesbians there tend to have a real and deep confidence; like an unoffensive arrogance, that is such a rare and wonderful thing to see in a woman. Then there are the much older women. I wonder if some of them took up exercise to recover from stroke. They donªft exert themselves much, but are probably fitter since joining the gym than they had been for the previous 30 years. They are doing it for their health, they know it is making them more healthy, and they are satisfied with that; they are long past worrying over having the perfect body.

    At the other end of the spectrum from these unconcerned women; I once saw a young, tall, blonde, white woman who clearly was or has been starving herself. However the saddest thing I ever witnessed was in the changing room. At first I found the changing room quite shocking, because I donªft much like seeing strange naked people running about. And here were complete strangers holding conversations while one stood there dripping from the shower. All sorts of ages and usually with body 'imperfections abounding, yet no one seems to feel the need for modesty. However much I was embarrassed by it at first, I eventually found it really empowering that these women didnªft feel ashamed. This was except for one. I had seen her on the walking/running machines several times. She was probably in her mid-30s, very fat and almost completely round, black, and always seeming awkward. Then one day I walked into the changing room and saw her preparing for the sauna by wrapping cling film around her whole body; evidently hoping to sweat it off that way. She had obviously done this before. I wondered how she felt after her visits to the gym.

    Incredibly, even now women are still led to believe, and often do believe, that we have to value our physical beauty and femininity (which are usually equated with each other) above anything else. Consequently, if you are female and not attractive to men, you are worthless. I wonªft give you all those statistics about models and real women, statistics donªft reflect the real experience of the beauty myth on womenªfs lives.

    I was embarrassingly skinny at age 14 and embarrassingly overweight at age 19, and it seems like I have always had men trying to destroy my self-esteem. It happens in the usual misogynistic way, with them telling me Iªfm not sexy enough, not feminine enough, not pretty enough for their friends or whatever. Sometimes they say this deliberately because they think it is the worst possible insult to a woman. I even used to let a boyfriend get away with shallow, sexist criticism. At first I pretty much laughed it off, but when I would think about it later I was disgusted with myself for not telling him what a shit attitude that was. Iªfm a feminist, I know better than to put up with that crap, but it is hard to get over a perspective that is so fundamental in our culture. We are used to tolerating it, or at least letting it slide, every day of our lives.

    Shame is an extremely powerful weapon for domination. It can be used actively, but often is internalised. Sometimes it seems as if in our society the very possession of a female body is reason enough for shame. And because of this, we have to always be striving for perfection. But we never reach it; so many women do find it so difficult to be happy, satisfied, or even just not unhappy with their bodies. The particular obsession with physical beauty in our culture will continue to make women hate ourselves as long as we allow appearance to be the overriding estimation of a womanªfs human value. But there is no indication that we are going in that direction. Instead of positive sexual equality, we are going in the opposite direction so that many men too are increasingly concerned with their personal appearance to almost the same extent as women. We live in a culture of self-loathing that only serves to make some people rich at the cost of anorexic teenagers and general misery. What are you doing about it?

    (For a boy's-eye view of male body image, read I Hate The World That I Think Hates Me from Andreas Hagberg, Sörgårdsg, 67 1tr 58 46, Linköping, Sweden, please_dont_kick_me@hotmail.com)

    The *F* word

    In the introduction to Screams From Inside 7 (the punk girl issue) Carissa begins with this declaration: ªeLet me start off by saying this is not an anti-male zineªc Just because something focuses on females doesnªft mean itªfs anti-male.ªf As many feminists can tell you, it is unfortunately necessary to produce such statements and sometimes to back them up with more such as, (Carissa again) ªeªcOtherwise, most of the zines I read should be considered anti-female since they rarely mention womyn.ªf

    Straight Edge has been in the media again. Following the murder of some drunk jocks in Salt Lake City by some fanatical straight edge jocks, incompetent American parents are being frightened by the trashy American media into believing that ªestraight edge gangsªf will turn their kiddies into murderers. Anywhere you go of course, the media does tend to be at its most moderate pretty conservative, preserving of the status quo etc. A considerable proportion of the mass media is also very reactionary, and the fact that sensationalism sells leads print journalism in particular in this direction. So naturally the mainstream folks who find out about straight edge/hardcore/punk through mass media channels will have a deliberately negative picture which has been skewed to represent anything ªeotherªf as a threat. More often than not the issues being covered will be completely misrepresented. Partially this is through journalistic/editorial desire to slap down any hint of challenge or nonconformity and partially it is through ignorance. Since journalists are usually summoned to write about things they know absolutely nothing about and naturally get things wrong, for instance when an article in the Observer newspaper listed ªeToo Drunk to Fuckªf as a straight edge song. Yeh.

    Iªfll bet that you found out about hardcore (and veganism) first hand from another individual involved in the scene. You probably did not read a column by some ossified retired headmaster and Leader of a Hunt in which he said young people ought to be beaten until they eat their boiled beef. You were probably also not raised hearing jokes being made by crap comedians on telly about how frustrated straight edgers are always trying to take away everybodyªfs fun by protesting against vivisection and the manufacture of beer. On the other hand, I also bet that you did find out about feminism from a negative representation in a reactionary mass media. Many, many people are convinced that they know precisely what feminism is about. Yet when I hear their descriptions, it is clear that their idea of feminism is equivalent to the Popeªfs.

    Even hc girls who are intelligent and critical enough of mainstream values that they should know better will come out with some outrageous remark about feminism being automatically ªeextremeªf or having something to do with ªehating menªf or even with making women better than (rather than equal to) men. Is every non-meat-eater you know ªeextremeªf? Are you sxe because you hate people who drink? Has fighting for gay liberation meant oppression for straight people? Has fighting for racial equality meant making minorities ªebetter thanªf the majority colour? Has the extension of the rights of disabled people done any harm to the able-bodied? So why do we give in so easily to hostility toward feminism? Why do men react so defensively and believe that fighting womenªfs oppression means replacing it with menªfs oppression? Why do people imagine that being pro-girl means being anti-boy? Why does womenªfs liberation/equality remain as such a hard fight?

    Words Upon Words
    One correspondent (a feminist) recently pointed out to me that the word ªefeminismªf can put men off being able to engage with the movement because it does have the same sort of exclusivity as those decrepit old terms like ªeMankindªf or ªeChairmanªf. Other movements have thought through the pros and cons of using a new vocabulary. For instance, in some places campaigns by black people against racism have become campaigns for ªeracial equalityªf, and the result of course is a different type of movement with a very different focus and with different possible effects. I have to say though, that any time I have seen a move to start a ªepro-gender-equalityªf campaign, it has always been initiated by very sexist men (and sometimes even women) as an attempt to destroy a strong campaign by feminist women. I have yet to be convinced that equality can come before women actually work towards their own empowerment while encouraging positive attitudes in men along the way.

    Obviously it is a problem when we feminists have taken a great deal of responsibility and put a great deal of energy into the project for women and for society in general that the project for men has remained stagnant; or even been ignored. We have had a great deal of work to do, and we can only keep so many pots on the boil at once! But feminism has failed to achieve many things, and now we are realising that tactics may be a large part of this. The Australian/British feminist writer Germaine Greer recently pointed out that a lot of the remaining failures of and hostilities to feminism are a direct result of focussing perhaps too exclusively on women, feminine roles etc. It seems that men fight harder to defend the idea of masculinity than women fought against the limitations of feminine roles. According to Greer, feminists have encouraged this stalemate to a large extent because although we critiqued feminine roles and forged new directions, for masculinity we only provided a critique.

    A consensus is forming that the new direction of feminism seems to be ªeworrying about menªf or the ªecrisis of menªf (see Faludi, 1999 among others). In the industrialised West, being a man is no longer a guarantee of status and the traditional security bases for men – the family and employment have been completely eroded. Menªfs identities have stayed wrapped up in these things because they seemed to provide the sorts of social status that men were taught to find important. Even as the world is changing around them however, men are still not questioning the fact that the sort of status they are seeking has no intrinsic value and serves no purpose other than carrying on hierarchical power relationships throughout society. Feminists figured out a long time ago that hierarchy and gender roles are crap, and as women they were in an ideal position to observe this. They sought for equality between the genders but only gave men the task of assisting women with their liberation. There were obvious ways that men could change themselves, but how to go about encouraging them to do so? We just had to go about making the world more woman-friendly.

    So we got some laws changed and we got a couple of generations of women who were more confident and better equipped to stand up to patriarchy. In this society, girls now outperform boys even in traditional ªeboys subjectsªf at schools. People often point to increases in numbers of women in what are called ªetop positionsªf such as management in big companies. The reality is that every woman has to deal with patriarchy and sexist limitations throughout her life whether it is harassment in the schoolyard, dealing with the majority of childcare and work in the home or negotiating her role in masculine work environments. Even if feminism has got as far as it could go for women themselves in their own lives, we still have barely made any progress in providing new options for men.

    So men are clinging to these increasingly ludicrous decrepit ideas of masculinity and masculinities are being packaged and sold by cynical profiteers who have successfully convinced men that if they buy this magazine and the products advertised within they will be more of a man. This is stuff that women fell for decades ago. And now, as with women then, men are being taught that their appearance is intrinsic to their value and to the fulfilment of their masculine role. You must have these muscles, these clothes, no flab, makeup, no unsightly hair etc. etc. Eating disorders, once an exclusively female bastion, are increasingly common among young men.

    If men do finally stop being so dependent on gender roles shaping their universe, it will be difficult. There is no quick fix to social problems. Any major disruption will have its resistance and repression followed by a backlash followed by a settling down to the benefits of the progressive choices that people have made and the new options that have been created. We have seen this process with many social developments from vegetarianism to environmentalism (and feminism is on a constant cycle of progress and backlash). Social commentators are already saying that society/ families/ individual men are being harmed by the decline of masculine role models or some such rubbish. Thatªfs the resistance. In some countries today politicians are gaining votes by calling for men to regain patriarchal stature in traditional families. Thatªfs the backlash. The scariest development I know of at the moment is the upsurge of interest in an approach to evolutionary biology that attempts to find that gender roles were developed when people lived in caves and that they are now inevitable.

    The thing to remember always is that everyone is suffering from sexism, patriarchy and fixed gender roles. There is no way to justify these things when they are causing so much unnecessary unhappiness, it doesnªft matter whether men or women have a worse time of it. Are there any men out there who are fighting these things? Any men who support feminists? Who see what can be learned from feminism? Who know that womenªfs liberation is not a threat to anyone except the people who want to keep us submissive? Who challenge other men who are sexist and homophobic? Who are more willing to show their own emotional pain than they are to cause someone else physical pain? Who admire women? Who have genuine friendships with other men that are not based on competition and point-scoring? Who have genuine relationships with women that are not based on impressing other men? Who are aware that their value as individual human beings does not depend on their fulfilling esoteric tenets of ªemasculinityªf? Are you brave enough?

    Girl Zine Explosion!

    A year ago I predicted a new wave of punk feminism/riot grrrl and I think I may have really precipitated something there. These things tend to move in waves and it was about time for a rise again; especially to counteract the surge of male machismo in the scene over the past few years. Every day now Iªfm finding more active girls in England and there are feminist hc kids appearing in other countries too. It can take a lot of bravery to stand up to patriarchy and to challenge gender roles whether you are a girl or a boy and whether you are doing it within a counterculture or not. Nobody succeeds completely of course, but it is a fight we have to keep up every minute of every day.

    I have seen and experienced the immense empowerment, liberation and just indescribable emancipation that comes from finding other womyn who take control of their own lives, who are not afraid to be outspoken whether it is about sexism or anything else, and who know what is really important. I wonªft list them all here, but I hope to be soon distroing a UK riot grrrl listings zine and you can get a good contacts/zine list from: Rachel Kaye, 37 Longlands Road, Slaithwaite, Huddersfield, HD7 5DN, UK.

    Come Out Wherever You Are...

    If you are QUEER you should come OUT. It may seem SCARY but your queer SISTERS and BROTHERS are doing it every day. Even as you read this a QUEER is leaving the CLOSET.
    If you are QUEER you should FLAUNT it, SHOVE your SEXUALITY down someone's throat.
    STRAIGHT people do it ALL of the TIME. Promoting your own PERSONAL sexual AGENDA
    is every HUMAN being's right.
    If you are QUEER you should come OUT and show the WORLD how NUMEROUS queer folks are. Then HOMOPHOBES will be too SCARED to BASH people. POLITICIANS will not be able to pass LAWS that HURT queersªf lives, and maybe people will stop assuming that everyone they meet is STRAIGHT. If you are QUEER you should come OUT. THIS is your LIFE. CLAIM IT.


    We are lucky in the UK to sometimes have fairly effective public debates and public awareness of important issues and 1999 saw a revolution in British public awareness and concern almost overnight. For several years, green campaigners, organic farmers, and consumer rights campaigners have been working to inform people about genetic engineering of food and to pressurise politicians in the UK and EU to pass policy to keep the producers of genetically engineered products in check. Genetic engineers have been experimenting with various plants and animals in laboratories and experimental farms that are springing up all over Britain. In one particular laboratory experiment, mice had been fed with genetically modified (GM) potatoes to see if the potatoes would be safe to market to humans. The miceªfs immune systems were reportedly damaged by these potatoes and luckily for us the British media gave this particular story some decent coverage.

    The result was the sort of public panic and media frenzy that happens quite often in a tightly-knit country like this one, particularly when fed by Britainªfs sensationalist tabloid press. Suddenly people who never before cared about what they ate, or at least not since the BSE scare, were asking questions. What is GM food? Is it unsafe? How much of it are we already eating and how much more is going to be put in our food in the future? Most importantly, how can we stop this huge experiment on our health and environment? Is this the next BSE/Mad Cows' Disease?

    Over the following days and weeks, the resistance to GM food increased. Public pressure brought supermarkets and even fast food chains to adopt anti-GM policies and food producers and sellers began to label and produce information about what foods are GM or GM-free. At the same time, the useless coward of a Prime Minister refused to acknowledge the public concern because he had been lobbied by the President of the United States who had of course been lobbied by the American GM food producers.

    But in spite of the strong resistance from the leaders of two countries and from the GM producer Monsanto, WE WON!!! The fight is not over yet, but I have never seen so much progress so quickly in any progressive campaign as I have with the anti-GMO campaign. Here are some of the things that happened:

    In July and August 1999, nearly all of the farm-scale as well as several smaller plots of GM experiments in the UK had been disrupted/destroyed by protestors. One of these was a Greenpeace action involving hundreds of people from the local farming community who attacked a field of GM maize. The ªede-contaminationªf of genetic crop sites was dramatic as a spectacle as well as a new type of activism, and of course the almost daily actions kept the issues in the public mind.

    *The statistics vary, but they consistently show that the majority of people in Britain do not want GM crops or commercial foods in Britain.
    *In the three years up to Spring 1999, the proportion of supermarket products in the UK containing GM soya had gone from 0 to 60%, but throughout this summer, one by one, all the major supermarkets announced that they were phasing out all GMOs in their own-brand products. It was at this point that the campaign became international.
    *The consumer boycott spread throughout Europe.
    *American farmers began to boycott Monsanto's soyabeans since Europe was no longer buying.
    *Activists in Mexico City hung banners protesting against 'Genetic Imperialism' after the USA sabotaged the Biosafety Protocol.
    *In San Francisco, Activists from FABRAGE (Fabulous Resistance Against Genetic Engineering) stripped off their clothes and disrupted a conference panel on genetically engineered cotton featuring a speaker from Monsanto. 'We'd rather go naked than wear genetically modified cotton' they declared!
    *Food producers in the USA and Japan refused to continue using Monsanto's GM soya.
    *The British Government dropped out of the GM debate; leaving Monsanto to go it alone.
    *British farmers dropped out of hosting experimental crop sites due to the potential dangers of the technology and the inevitability destruction by activists.
    *The UN Food Safety Agency supported the EUªfs moratorium on Monsanto's GM hormonal milk (yuk!).
    *Monsanto, who had long since become synonymous with the evils of genetic modification, realised the public resistance to GM technology would not go away. The company announced a huge climbdown - they would not produce 'teterminator' plant seed technology (see under 'Monsanto' below).
    *The British Government adopted the 3-year freeze on commercial GM food production while further research is carried out.
    *GM food producers agreed to limit the number and scale of GM trials in the UK.

    Know the Enemy
    The profits from GM go to the multinational companies who are developing these organisms and/or manufacturing food from them.

    Monsanto: American transnational corporation. The same company that developed and produced Agent Orange, the notorious defoliant used in the Vietnam War. They are the creators of the Roundup Ready soya bean which was created to resist the weedkiller Roundup which, surprise, surprise is also made by Monsanto. Monsantoªfs latest project has been ªeterminatorªf plant technology – sterile seeds. Throughout the history of agriculture, farmers have taken seeds from their crops to sow in the next year. Monsantoªfs plan was to force growers to buy their seeds again every year. In the developing world, this technology would have been economically devastating for farmers.

    Bill Clinton: As we all know, the main function of the US Government is to promote the interests of US corporations. Clinton has effectively lobbied British Prime Minister Tony Blair to allow Monsanto to carry on with its experiments in the UK and to ignore the huge public resistance to GM foods.

    The EU: Brussels usually gives in to the interests of big business, and there are indications that this will be the case with the GM foods debate. Even if Britain for instance passes a policy against the import of GM foods, the EU may override that policy. All the same, public pressure looks likely to bring some regulation of GMOs in the EU. But Brussels has so far given some resistance to Monsantoªfs technology.

    Other GM companies: Ciba-Geigy, Switzerland (transgenic corn animal feed), Astria/Zeneca Plant Science (GM tomatoes), Du Pont, Novartis, Aventisªc Some of these have produced terminator technologies and it is hoped that they will be forced to follow Monsanto in withdrawing this.

    Companies that still use GMOs in their food: Nestle, Lindt

    [Information taken from: SuperHeroes Against Genetix website, Greenpeace True Foods Campaign literature, Green World magazine, and lots of underground publications]

    The Resistance
    Direct action - Consumer pressure - The media
    Greenpeace True Food Campaign Canonbury Villas, London N1 2PN, UK, info@uk.greenpeace.org www.greenpeace.org/truefood
    Friends of the Earth www.foe.co.uk - a good contact for finding your local GM cropsite Smash Genetic Engineering Defence Campaign c/o CRC 16 Sholebroke Avenue, Leeds, LS7 3HB, UK -supporting direct actions against cropsites
    Super Heroes Against Genetix (SHAG) – They dress up as superheroes and pull up GM crops!
    Physicians and scientists against genetically engineered food – www.psagef.org/indexgen.htm
    Five Year Freeze, 94 White Lion Street, London N1 9PF, http://dspace.dial.pipex.com/gealliance/ -FYF is the most mainstream of the anti-GM campaigns and is supported by several organisations and MPs. This campaign calls on the UK Government to stop growing GM crops for any commercial purposes, importing GM foods and crops and patenting genetic resources for five years until more research has been done and a decent public debate can take place to let us decide whether genetic modification is beneficial, ethical and what we want.

    What You Can Do
    Find out where GM experimental crop sites are and dig ªeem up! Raise money for the Smash Genetic Engineering campaign Boycott GM products and buy organic Ask your local supermarkets what foods are GM free Asking local shops, restaurants etc. to provide GMO free food Tell other people – propaganda available from the above organisations and from Synthesis distro

    Examples of genetic engineering

  • Human genes have been transferred into pigs and fish to make them grow more rapidly. (The pigs suffered from poor vision, arthritis, stomach ulcers, muscular weakness, lethargy and impotence. They didn't grow any bigger than normal pigs.)
  • Scorpion genes have been put into corn to make the plant develop its own insecticide.
  • Genes have been transferred from a fish to strawberries to make them resistant to frost.
  • Genes have been transferred from a human into a sheep.
  • A brazil nut gene was inserted into a soya bean during research. (Scientists were unable to predict that the soya bean would cause severe reactions in people with brazil nut allergies, but in tests on human blood serum it did.) [Duh]
  • Genes from a bacteria and a virus were used to create the 'Flavr Savr' tomato which takes longer to ripen, allowing for longer storage. The 'Flavr Savr' is used in purees until recently sold in UK supermarkets.
  • Monsanto Roundup Ready soya beans contain genes from a bacterium, a virus and a petunia.
  • Monsanto developed a cotton resistant to boll weevils by inserting Bt Toxin into its genetic makeup. This has now been successfully ingested by boll weevils and threatens to heighten their immunity. [Duh]
  • At least two biochemical companies are growing herbicide resistant oilseed rape (used in vegetable oils, margarine and thousands of tinned and processed foods). Researchers have found that the genes transfer from the rape crops to wild relatives and weeds. [Duh]
  • Low fat, high starch potatoes which absorb less grease are being developed through genetic manipulation. McDonalds are allegedly very interested.
  • A test to check the effect of cancer-causing agents on the skin led to hairless mice in a British laboratory.

    Implications of genetically manipulating food

  • Nobody knows what the long-term effects will be on a particular organism, on the environment or on our health.
  • The long-term impact on soil fertility is unknown
  • Genetically engineered virus resistant crops may cause the development of new and perhaps more virulent kinds of plant viruses
  • The allergenic potential is uncertain, unpredictable and untestable

    Genetic pollution through pollen or seed dispersal - plants

    Scientific findings in this area include the following:

  • Once GM crops are planted, the ªegenetic pollutionªf is unstoppable. Insects, birds and wind carries pollen, etc from the transgene plants to other areas outside of the original cropsite.

  • In one study, normal potato plants were planted in distances up to 1100 metres from GM potatoes, and the seeds of the normal potatoes were collected afterwards, 72% of the plants in the immediate neighbourhood of the GM potatoes contained the transgene. At greater distances an almost constant 35% of seeds contained the transgene.

  • Gene transfer from crop radish to wild weed relatives has been detected over distances of one kilometre

  • The hybrids in one GM experiment were found to grow like weeds, even in wild populations.

  • Scientists at the Scottish Crop Research Institute found that escaping pollen from a cropsite fertilised plants up to 2.5 kilometres away.

  • A Scandinavian study showed that oilseed rape easily crossbreeds with wild relatives, creating the possibility of a herbicide resistant gene being transferred to wild plants. The study estimated that a substantial part of wild weed population could acquire the gene for herbicide tolerance after a single season.

  • Even more pollen spread could take place via spillage during the transfer of crop seeds hundreds of kilometres between seed merchant, farmer and processing factory.

    Genetic pollution - micro-organisms

  • It was reported in 1994 that gene transfer can occur from plants to micro-organisms. Genetically engineered oilseed rape, black mustard, thorn-apple and sweet peas all containing an antibiotic-resistance gene were grown together with the fungus Aspergillus niger or their leaves were added to the soil. The fungus was shown to have incorporated the antibiotic-resistance gene in all co-culture experiments. It is worth noting that micro- organisms can transfer genes through several mechanisms to other unrelated micro-organisms.

  • This risk caused the UK Environment Department's Biotechnolgy Unit to advise the UK government to vote in the EU against the authorisation for placing onto the market of Ciba Geigy's transgenic corn in 1996: ªethe presence of an intact gene for resistance to beta-lac tam antibiotics poses an unacceptable risk because consumption of the unprocessed product as animal feed could lead to the transfer of the gene to the gut microflora of animals.ªf Ciba Geigy's genetically engineered corn contained among other foreign gene a gene for resistance against Ampicillin antibiotics (beta-lac tam antibiotics).

    Uruguay Scene Report

    OK, first of all say thanks to Laura for leaving me this space to express myself.

    The Uruguay scene is obviously small because there are just 3 million people living there. Anyway weâve got all that a hc punk scene should have: bands, zines, distros, collectives, fights, friends, enemies, gigs, activitiesªE We can say that this scene is split into two groups; by one way the NYHC scene and by the other the emo scene. Using a really fashionable word, Iâm taking part in the 2nd. It is really small, even more this year, last year we did things together with the @ punks and it meant that there were more bands, zines and people, but now we are less each time.

    This scene is political, there are many guys but sadly not enough girls (girlfriends ofªE sisters ofªE. About bands there are just 4 or 5, the oldest is HABLAN POR LA ESPALDA; I play the bass in this band. Musically we can label it like screaming pop with personal & political lyrics. Weâve got a few releases; a split cassette with DEPRESION ADOLESCENTE (rip) and a brand new 7ªErecently released . Another old band is SWITCHSTANCE; this band is really good. I love them, they play ãEnglish popªEpretty interesting. Theyâve just got a cassette split released by the Uruguayan label ãJe tâaimeªE It is a split with XPUPURAX; the first and only Uruguayan SXE band. This band split up early this year and they released (besides the stuff with SWITCHSTANCE) a tape released by the Argentinean band CIVILIZACION VIOLENTA. FARADEY is a new band with ex-members of XPUPURAX, AGARIA (rip emo metal) and SWITCHSTANCE. They play screamy metal with melodic parts, they are really intense. More bands are CRECER, NOT FOR SALE and ANTI MUSIC LIG; the last one is French emo like Fingerprint.

    We also have some zines in the scene, but sadly all are in Spanish (?!!Why!!??). MI PEQUENO GOVENADOR is a personal zine and very funny, NEGACION is another personal one by the Faradey guitar player, ADQUIRIENDO IRONIA from the Faradey singer is more political. I write one called MI NARANJO EN FLOR; with politics and personal issues.

    There are two distros; one called ESOTERIC run by the HABLAN POR LA ESPALDA guitar player, itâs a worldwide emo music distro, it has a lot of stuff. The other one is called EN FLOR and it is run by myself. It is a reading stuff distro; mostly @ stuff, books, zines, newspapers in English and Spanish.

    Finally, there is also an @ collective called 1937 that releases a bimonthly newsletter and a puts out a radio programme on a communitarian station.

    OK, this is a summary of the Uruguay scene; itâs a group of friends that enjoy to meet to play music, write, dance, go to the cinema, eat, go campingªEThat is, basically a group of friends.

    If you want to know about my zine, distro, bandsªEget in touch with me.

    See you, Victor

    Victor Borras, Benito Blanco 1094/401 CP 11300, Montevideo Uruguay, enflor69@hotmail.com

    Interview - Dominatrix

    By Brob Tilt!
    I was very positively surprised when a correspondent sent me the 'Girl Gathering' CD by Dominatrix. Not only because the music was really good (very enthusiastic uptempo melodic shout-along HCpunk) but even more because it showed that in a traditionally macho-society as the Brazilian one, there were women fighting patriarchy. I thought letting them speak about what they think and do might encourage girls/women here (I donªft mean to be patronising here) and teach some sense to the machos in our scene. Elisa answered the questions (not everything is necessarily the whole bandªfs opinion) and if you want to write here the address is: Eliza (Dmx), rua arizona 198 casa 4, 04567-030 São Paulo-SP, Brazil

    Elisa: guitar+vocals/Debora: drums/Isabella: bass+vocals

    Tell us a bit about the history of the band. Who does what? When and why did you start? Did you play music together and become Riot Grrrls because of frequenting the HC/punk scene? Or were you feminists before being musicians and wanted to spread that message through playing in a band? E: We started the band in early 1996 because we wanted to express ourselves as girls and as individuals. I play the guitar and do half of the vocals, my sister Isabella plays the bass and sings too; Debora plays the drums now. Estella who was on the 1st CD left the band. Elaine used to play 2nd guitar but she wasn't able to manage both Dmx and her other band Pin Ups. Weªfre not Riot Grrrls, we're part of Riot Grrrl. Whatªfs the difference? E: It means that itªfs not an ªeabsolute truthªf. I know some might be confused by this. We see Riot Grrrl as a collective thing, not as a limited club. We think itªfs not necessary to say, ªeI'm a Riot Grrr1ªf, it's not a 'membership thing'. We have our vision of it. It's a personal choice to label yourself as such but I'm not saying that I don't want to be part of the movement. I know girls that call themselves Riot Grrrls that are intelligent and do amazing things; so I don't have anything against people that label themselves, I don't prejudge them because of their labels and I appreciate all good things they do...

    What do I think is being part of something? Being active, sharing experiences and ideas with others. I don't need to call myself a Riot Grrrl; it's inside of me, I don't need to tell everyone. I have the desire to do what I want, to help people, to give and get education. The point is: it's counterproductive to fight for the label itself, we should fight for the cause.

    I did not become politically engaged because of the HC/punk-scene but because of the daily suffering I'm obliged to swallow every day; with diseases like sexism, elitism, ageism, homophobia, etc. When I first wanted to get involved with all the revolutionary stuff, I didn't even think about what a ªescene' means, I didn't know what HC/punk was. It all came a little later. Feminism came first. How did you get in touch with it? I was unsatisfied with my situation as a woman (in my family, school, on the streets, etc.). I wanted to know what women, during the centuries, did to resist patriarchy. I wanted a direction, examples, ªelessonsªf, experiences... Many people told me I should read about this thing called feminism, they told me it was the ultimate thing in girl-rebellion. I started looking for definitions, authors, literature in general, etc,. I constructed my own feminism, not different from the original ideas but based on my life.

    Has anyone ever said they thought your name was intimidating? Did you choose it deliberately, realising that it questions the traditional gender-roles (men assuming to be ªein chargeªf)? E: We took the name from a Bratmobile song and thought it was a good one. I looked up the definition in a dictionary but couldnªft find it. Later I found it comes from Latin and means 'woman who controlsªf. For some people who don't know: dominatrix - in English is the woman wearing leather and using a whip in S.M.-relationships. Itªfs not perceived as intimidating that much in Brazil because hardly anyone knows what it means exactly. It's rad that it questions the traditional gender-roles, as you said.

    What backgrounds do you girls have? Are any of you studying? Working? What are your goals in life? E: I wonder if it will be clear to the readers (due to different definitions of the classes in other countries) but anyway... My sister and me are so-called 'lower middleclass', our drummer is 'working-class'. I've completed high school and I'm studying to get into college (arts). Our drummer Debora and my sister Isabella are still in high school. Of course we have different backgrounds but we have some things in common. All 3 of us, like every girl in this fucked up world, suffer under sexism and elitism almost every day. My goals in life are to live in peace, have new and good experiences, learn as much as I can and help people as much as possible.

    You have a CD out on 'Teenager in a Box', which is - as far as I can tell - a DIY label. Is that a deliberate choice? Do you want to have your music in the shops? Is working for an alternative to the capitalist music industry a part of your struggle? E: Yes, it's our choice to have a record on a DIY label. And we wanted it to be out on Teenager because we thought it was the best DIY label at that time, in terms of distribution and divulgation: both done in the most honest and sincere way. It was a huge goal for us to be on the Top 10 of the best records of 1997 in the second-biggest rock-magazine of the whole country. Are you serious about that? I'll tell you why it was a goal for us, especially me. I'm not only interested in the HC/punk-scene in terms of spreading messages. This is my opinion, people discuss with me a lot on that. I do pamphlets on abortion and AIDS, and give them to people outside the scene. Therefore it's our goal also that our music/message gets huge public recognition as a DIY band. It encouraged many girls (in- and outside the HC/punk-scene) to get into politics and express themselves. It means we broke down some walls; we made people think, even if it was only for a while. It was positive and we never sold ourselves. We are not on MTV, etc. We don't have video-clips and 'Girl Gathering' was not played on any radio and we don't have our pictures on the CD. Some people say that's because we're an all-girl band and it's a novelty and blah, blah, blah,... But Dmx is not the only all-girl band in Brazil; there are other bands that started even 1 or 2 years before us and sing in Portugese (which makes it more popular). I'm not trying to devalue other all-girl bands' work - actually, we're all strongly united here, all the Grrrl-musicians - but I want people to see beyond that simplistic rhetoric of "It's because they're a girl-band.". There's so much more to show, not only our gender. Some people in the HC/punk-scene have this phobia for big audiences and they can't even explain why. You can be DIY and spread your message to a big audience; I don't see a problem in that. The most important thing, in my view, is: we don't use our public recognition to make money, we sell our records for $6, period. I'd also like to add that it's very expensive to put out a record in Brazil. We're selling some things to put out our second record (I sold my guitar and raised some money selling T-shirts, Nenê of Teenager in a Box - we put the album out together - sold his computer). That's just to raise a little money and that's it. I have my own label now, it's called Chlorine recs. It's a big conquest for a third-world band to put out a record. I'm not just talking about Dmx but about all bands in all poor countries.

    Do you play a lot of concerts? Also out of your city or out of your country? What kind of places do you play? Are there any squats in São Paulo, and if so do you do concerts there? E: We do one show per weekend nowadays. I myself organize many benefits (for Campaign Against Domestic Violence, Women's Resistance Against Homophobia, HIV Positive Women, Food & Action Collective, etc.) and Dmx plays at these events so that's why we play a lot. We play all over the country but never got to play outside of Brazil; because we lack the money, it's too expensive. We play in clubs and bars. Nowadays we only play in just one place in São Paulo: in what we call an alternative bar. In the other places (where bands get to play) the entrance is $4 or more but that's against the policy of our band. In the bar where we play, the entrance is less than $3 and it's an all-ages space. The shows start a 4 o'clock and ends at 9 o'clock (on Sundays) so that the kids can catch the last bus to get home. Yes, there are a few squats in São Paulo but I don't know why we never got to play there. I don't even remember if any band ever did, I don't think so. It used to happen a long time ago but nowadays it doesn't. Aren't squats political? Yeah, pretty much, specially in Brazil's land- and home-distribution context. We've got a lot of neglected buildings, abandoned houses that are not used; it would be no problem if the government would allow people to occupy neglected public buildings. It should be OK, especially because it's in the law. But the police doesn't agree: they want to show their superiors that they are working hard ("take the punx out of the buildings 'cause they're doin' drugs blah blah blah"). And also: the government sells it's buildings to private corporations who consider having to deal with homeless people living there as a pain in the ass. It's pathetic.

    You wrote you "support the personal choice of a drug-free, vegetarian or vegan lifestyle". Quite a few straight-edgers here are sexist, homophobic, violent, anti-choice and/or xenophobic machos. Is that similar in Brazil? What's your idea about hardline? E: There's contradiction everywhere. I know some anti-men feminists too and they fucking irritate me. It's stupid to use a label like SxE or Riot Grrrl and act totally against the philosophy of the movement. It's very clear that these people don't have any interest in changing anything in society. They only judge others and bother us with all those fascist clichés while they have food/money/security and don't need to think about the lack of responsibility of the authorities concerning the poor people and land-distribution-politics or anything that is "out of their reach" or "none of their business". I absolutely hate the whole concept of hardline. "Feminism negates all natural roles of women and destroys the family-structure; in a natural and moral vision of life, homosexuality can be seen as nothing more than a detour of nature so it has to be destroyed.", these are the words of the "wonderful" band Vegan Reich. They also claim that an "anarchist vegan society ruled by vegan dictators" is needed. Sorry, sons of Hitler, but 'anarchist society' doesn't match with 'ruling' and 'dictator'. There are like 8 hardliners in Brazil, 8 fucking stupid motherfuckers. The saddest thing is that some (only some) SxE-ers even talk to these arseholes, allowing them to distribute homophobic/sexist material at SxE-shows; claiming that the hardliners must have "freedom of speech". WHAT THE FUCK!?! Freedom of speech to express prejudice? No, no, no, not at my show!

    Is there a lot of division between the different sub-scenes (crust/punk/emo/SxE) in your country? Are there any 'mixed' shows? Do you play them? E: People tend to go to shows that interest them more than others. But we don't limit ourselves, we go to different shows of different subcultures. I have to admit that it could be more mixed. Dmx always tries to play with all-girl bands to help them and encourage other girls and other bands that sound different. We play with SxE (metal or not), crust, grind, melodic, emo, old-school and psychobilly bands most of the time. Our shows are very mixed (in the sense of gender, class, race, sexual orientation, etc.) 'cause girls feel safe and they encounter little "violent" dancing. Of course there are more girls and black people than homosexuals. That's why we're concentrating more on queer issues now. Like I said, a while ago I organised a festival called 'Women's Resistance Against Homophobia' with 3 more girl-bands. We did spoken word, handed out pamphlets & zines; all about queer issues. We're also focussing on a direct anti-homophobia speech (amongst others) during shows now. We want to force people to think of the scene as a place where all kinds of people are welcome. We want queers to feel safe at our shows, we want them to have a strong voice in our community and they will. We encourage girls (and boys) to denounce violence and threats against them during shows so it's almost impossible that violence occurs.

    What's the situation of the average woman in Brazil? Have you got an idea about the frequency of rape and abortion compared to North-America or to Europe? Are there big differences between the different social classes? E: We live in a society where women got decisive power in some sectors. You can find women in charge of big companies. But there's also patriarchy in some sectors. It leads to the continuation of the old chain of oppression: the shadow of sexism still lays over these sectors. What I'm trying to say is that women are invading into high positions of the "hierarchy" (I hate that word but I have to use it) but still they're being disrespected as individuals. People usually don't recognize women's goals in occupations appropriately and say shit like "Women can work but they were born to be at home and take care of their children.". They just can't take the idea that we're capable and strong as well. I don't know the frequency of rape in Brazil compared to Europe but I know the number of rapes per year here is 10% under that in the USA. This doesn't give us a basis for analysis though because both populations are drastically different in terms of contingent. I'd have to say the same when you ask me about abortion. We would have to work with complex calculations and my interests are other ones so... Here in Brazil, most abortions are undergone by working-class/poor women with no information about contraceptives; but there are almost as many abortions in other social classes. And between the different races? For abortion, the situation for black and indian women in Brazil is in general more or less the same: both suffer under poverty and lack of education. And everybody knows that a lack of education leads to little knowledge concerning contraception. Nowadays, there are many abortions amongst women of the middle- and higher classes; in many cases that is because of a lack of responsibility. Dmx is pro safe/legal abortion. Concerning rape I can say the following. There are more domestic rapes in the lower classes. I have this theory that working-class men work under a higher amount of pressure than those on higher social levels because there is a strict hierarchy of 'intellect'/education and salaries. Working-class men, who need to vent their anger, create their own little hierarchy at home because they think it's their only way to have power over others. They need power; and rape is about power, not about sex.

    In some Western European countries, domestic violence isn't even in the penal code. What about Brazil? Are Brazilians religious? Are there a lot of marriages or is there more 'un-official' living-together? Do most young girls there wanna get married and get kids? Or do a lot want to stay independent and aim for a career? Are there any women in parliament and in the government? Are there some positive role-models for women in Brazil? Do you think the Spice Girls are? E: The Spice Girls? They could be a role-model for dumbness!!! About domestic violence: yes, it's in the penal code but, no, as we all know the law isn't enforced fairly in most cases. Most Brazilians don't know but there are some horrible archaic things in our penal/civil code that should be changed as soon as possible. I can't believe anyone hasn't noticed them yet. For example: there's a paragraph on marriage in the civil code which states that if a man finds out that his wife was not a virgin by the time they got married, he can annul it. It's there but I never saw it happening during my lifetime. A girl whose sister is a lawyer, told me a story of a girl that was about to be raped and she asked the rapist if he at least could use a condom. Do you know what the judge said? He considered what the girl did - ask the rapist to please use a condom - as consent and because of that it was "not considered as rape". And there's much more stories from where this comes from, it's a never-ending list of absurdities. Brazilians are pretty religious - there's too many beliefs to quote here. There's a lot of marriages and living-together relationships. About girls wanting to get married and have kids: it's pretty diverse. A lot of girls want to be independent but they always talk about having a family as well. There are a few women in the government but we never had a woman as president. Once the governor of São Paulo was a woman. The role-models for most of the girls are intellectually empty and visually deceptive. The 'Baywatch-style' role-models are created according patriarchal values and morals that are buried deep in our subconscience, and moulds us to standards. These standards tell us to be dumb, beautiful and narcissist so we can buy beauty-products without even realizing what effect these standards have on our health and mind. These stupid role-models turn into a dream for each girl that lives by these values but each day it becomes harder and harder to reach the standards. It's very difficult to deprogram and purify your head from this crap. Capitalism knows that. You have to respect yourself the way you are and set your own goals (that are positive to your body and mind, and to other people) in life. The great, intelligent women don't get any attention from the mass-media so that leads to a lack of identity in terms of a good and significant source for examples and intellectual background for Brazilian girls. That's why they're so dumb. There are some good examples though. In the literature e.g. we have Clarice Lispector (she was born in Ukraine but came to Brazil when she was a year old), Raquel de Queiroz, Cecilia Meirelles, etc. In arts (painting, sculpture, etc.), we have Tarcila do Amaral, Anita Malfatti, etc. We don't have too many women in politics but from the few I know I a have some admiration for Marta Suplicy from the Workers Party (PT; - in their own words - has a socialist base in terms of strategy and and actions. They became too elitist and disorganised, they do nothing for workers. It's kinda like the first communists in Brazil.). I like some of her ideals but let it be clear that I don't like her party as a whole 'cause I think there are too much corporative middle-class interests that blur ideal social change - but that's not what we're discussing here. Most people don't care about these great women and what they have done because we live in a patriarchal society that tends to devalue women's conquests (arts, writing, politics). This devaluation leads to a lack of attention (from the media, in schools, etc.) for women's achievements so most girls don't see examples and don't realize of what they are capable; they end up limiting themselves.

    Do you believe prostitution and pornography are intrinsically bad? Is there a huge sex-industry in Brazil? Does one see a lot of nudity on TV and in advertisements? Is Brazilian society in general prudish? What do you think of 'Feminists Against Censorship'? E: Both issues deal with freedom. I think prostitution should be legalized. If a woman wants to use her body to earn money, she can. She's exploiting herself, her body is hers. Why do people who earn money by exploiting others don't go to jail? 'Cause "whores are immoral"!?! Ha, ha, ha, redneck arseholes!!! A six year old child working 14 hours a day is less immoral than prostitution? I'm talking about the free will of a grown-up woman. The traffic-thing is another chapter... My opinion on pornography is quite the same as with not using children/animals and not forcing anyone to do anything against her/his own will. The sex-industry is there, you cannot deny it. If you don't like it (like me), then educate your children and teach them to be critical. I totally support F.A.C. 'cause it's a goal for us feminists to fight against censorship, it's basis of traditionalism and the muting of sexual/artistic expression. There's a lot of nudity on Brazilian TV. Our culture is fundamentally based on nudity; it's a shame. Brazilians encourage this emptiness.

    Some people here see Brazilians as exotic/'oversexed'; is that realistic? E: In some cases it is kinda realistic but not totally of course. Foreign people tend to exaggerate. If you come here at the time of the Carnival, you'll see people listening and dancing all night long to 'sensual' sambas (about the female body and other sexist shit), and girls dressed in bikinis. People think that there is naked dancing all day long! Brazil has this 'sensual' image for foreigners mostly because of the climate and the Carnival but it's not all about that. They also think that when you come to Brazil someone will attack you the moment you get of the plane...

    Do you consider yourselves a multi-issue political band? Or do you concentrate on women's rights? E: We talk a lot about women's rights 'cause we're girls and it's a part of us. But we also focus on other kinds of prejudices (as I said before). Dmx is made up out of 3 very different people; we have different ideologies. My sister is a vegetarian, I'm vegan and drug-free (not SxE). So, I cannot speak for the whole band all the time.

    Do you girls attach to a certain ideology (anarchist, socialist, communist,...)? You use the circled A as a symbol... E: I sympathise with the three but I can't say I'm part of any of them. I can imagine a utopian society but even if we make an effort to adopt it into our personal relationships and everyday-life, I think we're never gonna know if it's going to work when applied to a whole country/the world. It's impossible to know because we live in a world of constant changes, different ways of raising children and spreading values. We would have to raise children in a way they feel comfortable in this system. That's my main concern about believing entirely in a certain theory/ideology. Of course, I don't want power over anyone and I hate patriarchy and neoliberalism. I do love cooperation and autonomy. I guess my various ideas are close to libertarian communism but I'm not a part of a movement. It's hard to be part of something if you're not sure what's it going to be like.

    What do you say to boys/men who claim that women who wanna have women-only spaces (parties, concerts, etc.) are "sectarian or separatist" and who compare this with racism? Is that where 'My New Gun' is about? E: It's kind of funny 'cause boys have always been in all-boy spaces. When Dmx first appeared, they told us we were separatists 'cause we're an all-girl band; it was so idiot and contradictory. I think we must have some autonomy as a marginalized group. It's the same thing if you say that the Black Panthers were separatist because they're made up out of only black people. We girls need to gather to find our identity to reach gender-equality. Boys won't accept us out of nowhere, we have to show our strength. We're not gonna say "excuse me boy, can I be heard?". NO! We have to shout, we have to gather and struggle. We don't believe in an all-girl scene but neither in an all-boy scene. 'My New Gun' is about being accepted as girls who fight for their rights in a scene that calls itself libertarian. This song is about creating another scene to combat this hypocritical situation. It's all about the real fight, not about which boy/girl has the most CDs.

    Any good bands from over there we should hear? Fanzines we should read? E: Good bands here are: Dance Of Days, TPM, Again, Small Talk, Pudding Lane, Default, Auto, Sell Outs, Page 4, Left Anchor, Mukeka Di Rato, Execradores, Abuso Sonoro, Adjustment, Hitch Lizard, Whodunit, Baby Scream, Same, etc. Zines I like: Anti-Mídia, Punto de Vista Positivo, Gumption, Káostica [Brob: Elisa & Isabella's own zine.] Violent Playground, Libertação Feminina, Libertárias, Needle, The Crew, Sarcastic Smile, Riot Grrrl Eject, Friendship, Agua, Hypoglós, Iconoclasta, etc. Our scene is not as big as some think; we don't have a million zines and a zillion bands but we're getting bigger. What makes these special to you? E: Gumption was the first political zine made by girls. I like it a lot 'cause it confronts lots of contradictions in the HC/punk-scene like homophobia and pro-life. It made me feel I'm not alone. One of the girls did another great zine called Alethéia, which is just amazing. Her address is: Bianca, rua Domingos de Morais 1372-apt.304, cep 04010-220 São Paulo - SP, Brazil. Anti-Mídia is done by Nenê (ex-Personal Choice/-Dance Of Days, Bastard in Love). It contains a text by Max Stirner, a part of the Unabomber-manifesto and some reviews. You can reach him through Teenager in a Box (C.P. 205, cep 01059-970 São Paulo - SP, Brazil). Sarcastic Smile is done by some anarcho-punk girls here. I find it very bright and they're good writers. Address: C.P. 12143, cep 02098-970 São Paulo - SP, Brazil. Auto is a terrific band. They sound so different, it's hard to define. Some people compare them with Minutemen but I don't know. Write them: C.P. 4885, cep 01061-970 São Paulo - SP, Brazil. TPM is an all-girl band that has a great singer that screams like hell. They sing in Portugese and they draw a punrock crowd like no-one else. The address: rua Campevas 686-apt.11, cep 05016-010 São Paulo - SP, Brazil. Abuso Sonoro is a well-known band [Brob: They toured Europe in autumn 98.] that plays very good crust-core. They have a girl singing too. Their address: C.P. 2098, cep 11060-970 Santos - SP, Brazil.

    Something Laura (Synthesis-zine)'s curious about... Do you consider Bossa Nova to be native (South-) American music or the product of (North-)American cultural influences? And why don't you sing in Portuguese? E: I really can't see Bossa Nova as the "product" of any influence nor as "native" South American music. I don't see music in that way. Bossa Nova would exist anyway, with or without North American influences. There's a bit of a jazz-beat in 60s Bossa Nova - like in the music of the well known composer João Gilberto. B.N. has this 'jazzy' drumming because various musicians listened to jazz at that time. But they used to listen to other stuff from other countries too. So we really can't say that it's a product of USA-influences. There are samba-sounds to be found in it as well. In the very beginning, we preferred writing in English and ended up liking it a lot. It's a matter of taste. I played in other bands, singing in Portuguese and liked that too. But with Dmx, it's different. I don't know exactly why but I prefer our sound with English lyrics. We have all our songs translated into Portugese in the cd-booklets for anyone who doesn't understand English, so they can get our message.

    PCemodykes vs. MACHOGREEDCORE - HC festivals at war!

    There is a plethora of hardcore festivals out there these days. We can choose from good bands, good locales, accessibility and so on. However, in Europe year after year the VortNVis festival in Ieper, Belgium has tended to be the focus of straightedgers in particular. The transport connections are not ideal, until this year the venue has been a gawdawful rust-infested nightmare, the distros tend to be greedy and the bands are rarely the cream of European hardcore. But itÁøs the one festival where we are most likely to see the most people we know from several countries all in one place. Basically, everybody goes there because everybody goes there.

    I donÁøt much like making these sorts of comparisons, but in my mind I could not avoid the completely different experience at the annual More Than Music festival in Columbus, Ohio, USA. I first heard about MTM from Spectacle zine. It sounded a bit like a hippie emoboy experience but certainly far different from other hc festivals I knew of. What really intrigued me though was the way people who had been talked/ wrote about their experience. It just didnÁøt compare at all with other festivals.

    Accommodation MTM Not good; tents in the car park, dozens of people crashing in the gardens of the local hc kids or over-priced, faraway American hotels VNV Good camping fairly close to the town centre

    Childcare MTM I was a bit worried about the creche based on the badly-run ones I've seen at some anarchist events, but here was a good creche run by the collective, varied activities for the children and a general welcoming atmosphere for the children by the adults and the children were obviously happy and comfortable at the festival. VNV As if! Maybe that's why the festival-goers tend to be so young?

    Transport MTM Awful American lack of public transport VNV Centrally located in small town so everything is walkable but Ieper is far from being Belgium's most accessible city.

    Organisers MTM Cool hardcore collective (mostly Á‰) who had worked out the philosophy and approach of the festival before hand and they were wearing tags to indicate who to go to for questions, etc. VNV Supposedly a collective although it comes across as a product of the big commercial '¨hardcore' record label Genet Records supported by shitworkers.

    Venue MTM Changes every year because the collective is always told never to come back by venue owners. This year it was at this big, rambling club place with lots of different-sized rooms. Unfortunately the only thing outside was the carpark. VNV Usually every year same decrepit warehouse behind a pub, but in 1999 it was a specially constructed outdoor venue which gave the unmistakable feeling of the festival being no different from any boring mainstream music festival.

    People MTM Wow, I wish I had time to meet and talk to every single person here! They are almost all straightedge but all different! Everyone is having so much fun in the gigs! Wow, cool dancing! That band is awesome! And that one! Look at that 4-year-old walking on the stage looking so confident! Everyone is so nice and the distro people are wonderful and the organisers are so responsible and the workshop facilitators are so together and helpful and incisive and supportive and funny and clever and unintimidating. There is so much excitement and energy here! A girl/boy ratio of 1:2 !! Quite a few out queer kids as well and far more punks of colour than I've seen at any other hc event. VNV Oh my god, I don't want to be straightedge anymore. There are 500 straightedgers here! And they are all arseholes! What is that violent dancing going on? Christ, people are stagediving feet first! What a nasty atmosphere. Don't continental Europeans have a sense of humour? They all take themselves so seriously. The young ones just look really suspiciously at everybody and the older ones are just cold. What are there, like 50 girls here? The bands have such an attitude. Those Americans think they are rockstars. What a lot of macho, competitive posturing. Yuk.

    Workshops MTM This year's festival was women-centred which meant money would be raised for a local abortion access fund, bands tended to have at least one female member and workshops included: (girls only) GIRL ARMY -self defence course and WOMEN IN BANDS -a chance for womyn musicians and any interested others (girls only) to discuss the sexism which exists within the male-focused male-dominated band aspect of the scene' etc. (boys only) MEN TALKING TO MEN ABOUT RAPE -a discussion including topics of male privilege, rape culture, dealing with rapists, redefining consent, redefining rape, and learning to make it so that we are never perpetrators' and MALE BODY IMAGE (mixed) THE RADICAL POLITICS OF MAKE UP - a woman-positive discussion of revolutionary/radical make up wearing', WELFARE REFORM - the impact of reform on recipients, focusing on womyn and children

    I went to the women only discussion on SEX WORK. Some people had direct or indirect involvement in the sex industry, some people were interested in how we can support women who do sex work, some people discussed the politics of sex work etc. There was concern about how womyn doing sex work might perpetuate negative male attitudes and behaviour towards womyn. Many testified to the fact that some of the strongest, most awesome womyn they knew had been sex workers and one talked about the experience of having power over these pathetic men who contact her for phone sex. Another woman in the industry said that every day she hated men more, and it wasn't just her phone sex job but even being at the festival made her hate men more. This seemed to be a familiar and paradoxical feeling for many. What many of us wanted to know was just how sick and disgusting these men were who used this particular aspect of the sex industry, but the facilitators always seemed to steer the discussion away from that area. We talked about how prostitutes are stigmatised, misrepresented, and divested of basic rights in our society and how there is a particular need to find ways of supporting them for instance by designating safe spaces for when they are under threat. The sex workers there established that their working lives are a completely separate thing from their personal sex lives. But I think a lot of us could identify with the girl who said at the beginning that she found it really hard to comprehend sex work when even without that aspect she found sex and relationships with men a complicated and difficult matter to deal with. The workshop ended too soon, but it was overall a really positive and supportive experience and not as scary as I expected.

    My chum Ryan and I also went to the BARBIE LIBERATION workshop. You may have heard a couple of years ago about the Barbie Liberation Army who switched the voice boxes of Barbie and G.I. Joe dolls so that G.I. Joe said things like 'Let's go shopping!' and Barbie came out with things like machine gun fire. We were shown the BLA's own info video as well as several local news programmes on the resulting consumer crisis. At the same time, we got to work on our own barbie dolls provided in the workshop along with cloth, glitter glue, clay for making fat etc. Ryan made Pocahontas into some goth glam nightmare and I made 'bitchy butch xbarbiex' complete with chain wallet, skateboard and a tattoo saying 'toy terrorist'. We told childhood stories about playing barbies. The most memorable of these was one girl's childhood friend who always had the Ken doll molesting the doll that was supposed to be his daughter. At the time of course she didnÁøt think anything of her friendÁøs particular obsession. Eventually some of the little girls from the creche came in from playing outside and joined in the workshop. Some boys wandered in but didn't stay. My little brother seemed distinctly uneasy (but then he's not even a punk). So the only boy taking part was Ryan (and he's gay). An awesome workshop and even though my barbie didn't turn out very well (I spent too much time trying to pierce her eyebrow); I have her proudly displayed on my windowsill. VNV Don't be daft. More rock, less talk is the order of the day in Ieper. There are showings of documentary videos, but that is still somewhat passive, and this took place in a different venue and with very poor notice being given about these events. Did they actually expect anybody to turn up?

    Other Discourse etc.
    MTM When you first enter the venue, the table where you pay entrance has a free zine with information on the theme of the festival, the collective, the workshops and gigs, where to get good & veggie food in Columbus, directions to nearby useful places, a message from the men in the festival collective about 'What it means to be an ally to womyn' and other discussion on the festival in general etc. Also on the table is a notice saying that anyone displaying behaviour that makes other people feel uncomfortable will be removed from the festival and not re-admitted. More about this under 'Controversy'. VNV Come to Ieper, rock out, get punched in the pit, get ripped off at a music & t-shirt distro stall, go home. Any political approach to the festival was thrown out long ago and now itÁøs exclusively about music. This year there was a decent booklet produced with all the info a festival-goer needs including where to get vegan food. There were also adverts for the local businesses that sponsor the festival. And these sponsors adorned the festival pass bracelets. Inside there was even a huge banner advertising a local supermarket that had a drinks stall. Advertising is what hc is all about right? I guess it was necessary for that expensive-looking stage and equipment. Still the festival and the food being sold inside were very expensive. There was a door policy as well as a sign at the entrance says no weapons and no drugs allowed.

    MTM I was only there for one day, but the bands were varied and good and some were even extremely awesome. Many people had brought their children and on the day I was there the bill included a band consisting of 4 of the little girls who performed their own songs to the delight of the rest of us. At one point there was also some acoustic performance taking place in the distro stall area (I thought it was naff). The last band of the day was Anti/Product who started out with the Latino Á‰ singer doing a monologue inspired by her grandmother and about scalping a white man while the drummer sat beside her doing some tribal beats. Then they went on to tear the place down with their political (feminist, indigenous, etc), dual-vocalled, raging, storming, energetic, fun and generally amazing hardcore. The sound and the performance were awesome. Wow. VNV The monopoly of vegan mosh metal is ending and the bands now do vary in style, substance and enjoyability. The tendency for days to be labelled as 'emo day' or 'metal day' though is a bit discouraging. This year there were a couple of bands whose singers did actually talk between songs, but it was usually to say crap like 'buy our cd motherfuckers' and that so-and-so are 'pussies'. There was some really bad macho and metal posturing on the stage and a general encouragement from these bands of that violent dancing crap that Belgian kids like to do just to proveÁÐwhat? Over the whole three days there was only ONE band, just one that was brave enough to challenge this violent shite that was going on throughout the weekend. That band was Leiah from Sweden and although I wasnÁøt tremendously taken by their music (it was ok standard emo) they certainly gained my respect for comments like Á¨I thought straight edge was supposed to be about tolerance' and for criticising all the violence. The thing was, that when they did talk about violent dancing, everybody applauded! I'm told that even the windmilling idiots there were clapping. So why wouldn't any other band speak out? It all reminded me of when I went to conferences as a student unionist. These conferences were completely stage-managed and stitched up by one faction who managed to create the illusion that they had democratic credibility and were the standard-bearers of consensus in the students' movement. Of course if one actually talked to the average individual attendant at these conferences, they tended to see right through the stage-management. But when you got 1000 delegates all together inside the spectacle of the conference hall, they tended to go along with those in the positions of authority. Why do hc kids check their critical faculties at the venue door?

    MTM Stallholders were not allowed to set up until after the workshops had finished. Lots of really excellent literature stalls including Tree of Knowledge Press, AK Press, a benefit bookstall for the Abortion Access Fund, lots of free literature and girl-run zine distros, also many t-shirt and patch stalls and only a few with music. Some bands had set up little stalls with info about themselves and the great California positive sxe band Former Members of Alfonsin gave out their zine to people passing through to or from the venue space. VNV A big hardcore shopping mall full of outrageously overpriced boring cds and t-shirts of awful bands from the big hc businessmen. Also this year for the first time there was a charge per metre of stall table. The sensible people got around that though.

    MTM The festival has become synonymous with controversy since a couple of years ago when Felix of Code 13 was accused of rape while the band was onstage. This started a discussion that is still growing in the scene and that has certainly contributed to women-themed projects like this festival. This year may be remembered for the big race discourse. Some kids were thrown out for making some stupid possibly racist comments in front of some African-American kids. There was then a big discussion (followed by a smaller one) on what & how it was said, whether the kids should be let back in, whether the festival was a comfortable atmosphere for the non-white kids there etc. At one point the perpetrators were defended by a woman of colour, but most of the people of colour there were completely uncomfortable with the idea of letting those kids back in. I wasnÁøt able to find out what if any resolution came of this, but the punks of colour had a long meeting in their safe space. I was glad to see something stirred up to see some principles put into practice. I also felt sorry for the collective because they obviously bear a heavy responsibility when controversy comes up. It was obvious there was no easy solution to the issues being brought up. At least some drunk punx there had the bright idea to Á¨help break the tensionÁø by playing spin the bottle outside after the last band. There was also a residual controversy from the previous year when Scott Bloodlink was thrown out. He came this year only to be thrown out again because of last year.

    If these things seem petty to you, you need to understand the importance of having a safe, positive, supportive atmosphere and to explore the ways we can achieve it in the hardcore scene and beyond. The mainstream world is about domination, discrimination and the majority trampling on the minority without caring. Challenging these things is a big contribution to the festival as a dynamic and inspiring experience. I don't think anybody expected the safe space policy to alleviate all problems from the festival, and in fact the exclusions are likely to draw a lot of criticism to the festival organisers. If there is more controversy at MTM than at other festivals (such as the VNV), it is pretty obvious that this is not because there is more to criticise about MTM, rather it indicates that MTM has succeeded in encouraging critical thinking and challenge. VNV Last year a band got away for the whole festival with being misogynistic, homophobic bastards but the big boss of their record label did ultimately kick them off ¤¢ because they borrowed a guitarist from a band on a competing record label! That's priorities for you. There was direct action against violent dancing (rife in the Belgian scene) as well as some verbal confrontation and the more responsible bands did criticise violent dancing during their sets. In previous years there has also been unchallenged homophobia from the stage. ItÁøs the sort of stuff that makes you think there is no hope for the European scene as a challenge to mainstream values.

    And soÁÐ I would expect people to go away from VNV feeling completely disenchanted with and alienated by hardcore. I certainly would not expect anyone to be inspired or energised by their experience in the festival. I do think that 1999 was somewhat better than the year before ¤¢ a better and more interesting range of bands musically. Perhaps the fact that it was a big open venue cut down on the violence a bit too. Personally, when I have gone to Ieper IÁøve had an awesome time seeing friends from all over the world and meeting new people. Actually, this year I got thoroughly manic and exhausted from it all. But then again I had as awesome a time in Columbus where I knew far fewer people to begin with. It would be awesome to be able to have all this socialising in Europe at a festival with a more positive atmosphere. I would like to propose the Monte Paradiso festival in Croatia as the new Á¨biggest hardcore festival in EuropeÁø. Come on folks, letÁøs all go there next year! Contact: Monte Paradiso (Maske), M. Oreskovica 68, 52100 Pula, Croatia, 00385 52 32671

    What people have said about More Than Music: 'Ðit was one of the best experiences of my life'Ð
    'it's a really great experience. it changed my life (and outlook on life) both years i've gone. if you give it a chance, it can do the same for you.'


    (What people have said about Ieper: 'We arrived at the Vort'n Vis while the third band was still playing. We didn't see them though, 'cause I was outside buying some more stuff (man, I spent a small fortune). The first band I saw was Pray Silent. I was looking forward to seeing them, since I really liked their MCD (on Genet). Live they are also quite impressive and already some people started to dance. Cool. After this it was time for yet another highlight: Clouded. This was simply great. If you don't know this band you should get their MCD/7"...'Ð [more in the same vein])

    We must demand more of our festivals!
    To find out about More than Music: http://members.tripod.com/~morethanmusic/ , e-mail: morethanmusic@hotmail.com, or girlmilitia@hotmail.com
    Are there any festivals in Europe that are positive, and socially and politically-relevant? The Newland Collective in Belgium (c/o Olensweg 151, 2260 Voortkapel, Westerlo, Belgium) sometimes puts on one-day events.
    Italy has the annual festival with girl punk bands (Veruska, c/o Fioritto V.O. Da Gubbio 2370, 00146, Rome, Italy)
    The 1 in 12 (PO Box 169, Bradford, BD1 2UJ, UK, 1in12@legend.co.uk) and Armed With Anger (PO Box 487, Bradford, BD2 4YU, UK, awa@ndirect.co.uk) in the UK are interested in putting on festivals with more diverse stuff happening.
    Kate Princess (47 Glenbervie Dr. Herne Bay, Kent CT6 6QN, rebel.girll@virgin.net) will hopefully be putting on a feminist punk/indie fest in SouthEast England soon.

    Saxon Wood - Fighting the Dragon with GAndALF

    BACKGROUND This is a story of police corruption, Government antipathy, and the farce of the British legal system. The baddies are typical then, but the ones who pulled together for justice, liberty and eventual triumph over adversity were the eco-animal rights-anarchist-punk-direct action movement in the UK and its world-wide networks, the international human rights community, and just a few individuals who transcended victimisation. The GAndALF (Green Anarchist and Animal Liberation Front) trial has been one of the most important tests for civil liberties, free speech, freedom of the press and the underground movement that we have seen in Britain over the past several years.

    In recent years the British police had been increasingly cracking down on the Green Anarchist newspaper including office raids in which computers etc. were stolen and never returned. Finally in 1994 five people with GA/ALF connections were arrested by police in Southern England. This case was intended to send a message to the whole eco/@/underground publishing/activist movement in the UK. After a farce of a trial, three defendants were given outrageous three-year prison terms; sparking an international outcry from human rights and freedom of speech/press advocates. Five months into the sentence however, the defendants were given an unconditional and unexplained release from prison. One of these defendants was a vegan straight edge punk named Saxon Wood.

    After various attempts to get ahold of him (I wrote to him in prison not knowing he had just been let out!), I finally met Saxon in person at the 1998 Anarchist Bookfair in London. I didnÁ‚t really know what to expect, but I certainly didnÁ‚t expect this sweet, rather charming and positive guy who didnÁ‚t seem at all hardened or disheartened by his prison experience. It is a rare and wonderful thing to meet a straight edger who is sincere, committed to real action and ultimately a tremendously inspiring person. Saxon isnÁ‚t preaching to the converted in a hardcore ghetto, he has been an activist, a prisoner of conscience and an all-round good bloke.

    They say the best bits of an interview are what is said after the recording has stopped, and this was true when I met Saxon. Both before and after the interview when we were walking from and to Waterloo Station in the rain we talked about various aspects of our political views and we have so much in common. We both see straight edge as a personal choice that helps you put the other things into perspective and get on with addressing them. And we agreed that the real test of a movement is not whether Government policies are changed, but how real people interact with the movement and its ideas. Saxon is just one person, but he really gave me more faith in straightedge, punk/hardcore and the underground political movement than I have probably ever had before.

    The setting: The foyer of the Royal Festival Hall, South Bank, London. A bossa nova act is playing a free show in the background. Out the window is a huge bust of Nelson Mandela. We are both wet from the bad rain that day. Saxon is pale and skinny with dark hair with a light, friendly voice and a bit of a southern counties accent.

    INTERVIEW YouÁ‚d be forgiven for thinking his parents were some radical pagan hippie types. To begin with, Saxon Wood is his real name. Saxon explains, Á®The thing is my mum named my brother, and he got called Scott. And my dad named me, so he just had a particular sense of humour I think. I was at school with someone for several years and she just thought Saxon was my nickname that everyone called me.Á‚ Did he have trouble with his parents when he went punk? Á®Not really, they were quite concerned though, when they wanted to throw me out of school. I think my parents were incredibly proud of me that I made my stand. Neither of them are anarchists, but they know what I was doing was what I believed was right and honourable and it was for a better world.Á‚

    GREEN ANARCHIST And the story of SaxonÁ‚s arrest and eventual imprisonment begins withÁ€ Á‚You know, it was one of those things, you get into punk musicÁ€ I blame the Sex Pistols, itÁ‚s all their fault. If they hadnÁ‚t written Anarchy in the UK I would never have gotten into this sort of troublemaking. I was this 12-year-old punk rocker sort of thing describing himself like, ÁéOh, IÁ‚m an anarchistÁƒ. And then after a couple of years the moniker tended to stick. And there was a magazine called Crisis, I had already read Green Anarchist before and Crisis was this comic by the people who did 2000 AD. Chumbawamba produced pictures of starving children talking about ÁéWhatÁ‚s going to happen when the Third World take their land back?Áƒ. Yeh, I started to think, basically we have been living off the backs of the Third World since the days of colonialism. When the revolution comes, whatÁ‚s gonna happen? Á®Green Anarchist (GA) was going along these sorts of points. GA was originally set up with the help of the Poison Girls, so itÁ‚s that punk influence as well. The Poison Girls did the benefit gig for the first GA to come outÁ€This was about 1984, the days of Stop the City [a mass demonstration in the financial district of London –ed] and London Greenpeace really setting the ball rolling. And I was always interested in London Greenpeace, so I would have described myself as a Á®green anarchistÁ‚, so of course a magazine of that name would be of interest to me. So I got a copy and started selling them at punk gigs from about the age of 15. As things progressed I sold the magazine and bumped into various people at demos who also sold the magazine. I was distributing anarchist books where I lived so I went up to the London Anarchist Bookfair and got a load of books and someone mentioned that theyÁ‚d quite like a review of a particular book I had for the magazine and from there it grew on. I started writing for the mag. Á®Richard Hunt who was the main Editor for GA back in Á‚91 sort of left. We were going on peace marches and stuff and he was pointing out that Á®You should support the Gulf War and support our boys in the GulfÁ‚, so that was not only not green but he was also not anarchist. He was kind of biffed out of the paper at that stage and there was a reshuffle and I got involved through that.Á‚

    GREEN FASCIST? Á€Which leads us to the dodgy reputation of GA and some of its editorials. Is GA really a fascist-sympathising publication? Á®Unfortunately GA would generally print anything; which is a bit of a problem. GA to me was always a broad church of ideas: you had the greens, you had the animal right people, you had the Quakers, you had the pagans. GA was sort of a melting pot for it all. Unfortunately of late, I think certainly since the arrests and everything itÁ‚s unbalanced a lot of people to say the least and any cranky comment or weirdness that they can turn into the magazineÁ€ I think they do either because they donÁ‚t think these things through orÁ€ I think itÁ‚s the shock value more than anything. Á®Particularly Steve Booth has certainly dragged the name GA through the mud which is a bit of a problem. Actually a bloke I know was saying Á®DonÁ‚t support the GAndALF 3 because theyÁ‚re dodgy fascistsÁ‚. He had to admit that he actually knew me and that he knew I wasnÁ‚t a fascist, and he spoke to another one of the defendants, Noel Molland on the phone and he realised that he wasnÁ‚t a fascist either. Steven Booth unfortunately is a bit of a wordy philosopher type, and unfortunately he doesnÁ‚t think terribly deeply about what he says and I have particular problems with what Steve Booth says most of the time. Read the next GA for my response to what he says.Á‚

    FREE PRESS Direct action publications in the UK usually print disclaimers as a defence mechanism against the sort of thing GA has gone through. But GA apparently has not been intimidated into caution by the recent persecution, and according to Saxon the magazine has Á®tried to prove the police absolutely right that we were this evil conspiracy of mad bombers.Á‚ But the magazine has gone through some changes recently. Á®GA was a broad church, unfortunately the pacifists and the good guys have generally been alienated a hell of a lot. Certainly what Steven Booth has written, and IÁ‚ve discovered that Paul Rogers is a very hard bloke to work with. I donÁ‚t want to be horrible about him, but perhaps he could have handled things slightly different. This tour is very important because hopefully we can get some new contributors and stuff and dilute some of the madder elements at GA. Unfortunately Steven Booth is always going to write for GA. Personally I donÁ‚t consider him a green anarchist, heÁ‚s more of a nihilist. I think Steve should find out what anarchism is all about before he starts spouting off about it. Á®The good bits are still there, but unfortunately with the case itÁ‚s polarised everyone so that a lot of people want to embrace the case. TheyÁ‚re proud that weÁ‚ve cost the police four million pounds and we really did do everything they said which is untrue, but again we all consider it a feather in our caps that theyÁ‚d go through all this madness just to shut us up.Á‚ GA avoids being ideological and establishing strict rules about who believes what. Á®That was the choice of GA and I think itÁ‚s a lot of what people missed about it. We can have two opposing articles, I remember years ago we had a censorship debate. We had the Cambridge Anarchists saying, Á®Pornography terrible, ban itÁ‚, and then you had the Gay and Lesbian Freedom Movement saying, Á®Pornography is great and beautifulÁ‚. We had a picture of a naked man on it and the magazine sold really well that issue I donÁ‚t know, perhaps that says a lot for GA readers, they actually want to see pictures of naked men in it.Á‚

    ARREST: Was it true that the three defendants only met when they were arrested? Á®Well, IÁ‚d actually met Steve twice before in the Áéfive year conspiracyÁƒ period, but the really weird thing is that we were all taken to a police station in the south of England. Actually it was the second time we were arrested and we finally met up because the three of us were taken to Lyndhurst police station and the other three were at Lymington police station. We were actually charged at about 11.00 in the evening after being picked up in our homes at 8.00 in the morning. So we were all kicked out into the foyer. I knew who Robin Webb was, IÁ‚d seen him speak once, and there was another bloke sitting there. So I got chatting to Robin and this other bloke piped up and he was actually a member of the editorial group as well. So, you know, ÁéHello, co-conspirator, I donÁ‚t know you from Adam and it was good enough to get us charged unfortunatelyÁƒ.Á® Á®When I came out of the police station I had my leather bikerÁ‚s jacket and a big pair of Doc Martens. Not exactly what he was expecting to see from somebody involved in GA. I love my bikerÁ‚s jacket, IÁ‚ve been vegan for 10 years now but itÁ‚s really warm and BritainÁ‚s such a cold horrible country, you need that comfort. So unfortunately I still wear leather these days.Á‚

    STRAIGHT EDGE: When asked how straight edge feeds into all the other things he is involved in, it is clear from the start that he is very aware of the relevance of straight edge to his activities and general perspective. Á®IÁ‚d always considered anarchism was personal and you look at the anarchist groups and perhaps if theyÁ‚d spend less time drinking and doing other stuff that they would perhaps do more. I have no problem with people drinking, but it tends to come to a means to an end sort of thing. I went through that as well, I used to drink quite a bit of Special Brew in my time and I really had to knock it on the head. I think thatÁ‚s how I got into straightedge. Á®IÁ‚m the sort of person who is into all or nothing, so I stopped drinking and my record collection just doubled as well, it was great. It really freaked me out, I was 15 years old and I was spending so much on alcoholÁ€ So thatÁ‚s how I got into straightedge. It wasnÁ‚t really a musical thing, of course being a punker I knew about straightedge and Minor Threat and that sort of thing, but I was more into Crass and Conflict and that sort of thing and at that time there was bands like RDF and the more dub-y thing and heavy into their drugs. But it just didnÁ‚t appeal to me and I just thought straightedge was the way to be.Á‚

    SPIRITUALITY: Maybe itÁ‚s that awesome name again, or maybe itÁ‚s the way Saxon seems so at peace with himself and with life in general even after all he has been through, but I find myself wondering if he is spiritual at all. Á®I guess I am. IÁ‚m a great believer in the human soul and spirit, to rise above it all, and other things like drugs tend to dull that as well. Perhaps IÁ‚m religious with a small 'R' rather than a big 'R'. ItÁ‚s a personal thing more than anything. I have great respect for Quakers, well not only that, but because they also stopped me being thrown out of school. Between the ages of 13 to 18 when I finally left school I used to have a rather large mohican which the Powers that Be and the Headmaster of the school didn't like. The Quakers and the Marxists made sure that I didnÁ‚t get thrown out of school, so I have a deep-seated respect for them for sticking their neck out for me. They saw that I was an individual and a rather nice person. I like to feel that I was one of the good guys in this world. Perhaps thatÁ‚s how IÁ‚d like to be remembered.Á‚

    PRISON: In the UK, there is an excellent, and considering all the hunt sabbing & ALFing that goes on; essential, small charity organisation that looks after vegans who are sent to prison. Did the GAndALF defendants have any contact with them? Á®Oh, the Vegan Prisoners Support Group were great, my hatÁ‚s off to them. They really came through for me. When we first went to Winchester there was no problem getting vegan food, theyÁ‚ve always catered for vegans, quite a few animal rights people had been there. GuyÁ‚s Marsh [Prison -ed] was good as well, there was me and Noel who were both vegans. The chef there was pretty good, though he did occasionally slip us the dodgy meal with eggs in that I found out later. But once we reached Lancaster, thatÁ‚s when the Vegan people really came through for usÁ€e-mailed and faxed the prison saying ÁéYou have two vegans comingÁƒ.Á‚ What about prison, was it just all the evil and hierarchy in society all concentrated in one institution the way we see it portrayed in the media? Á®I think a lot of people viewed it that we were all in the same boat. There was a Áéthem and usÁƒ between us and the prison guards. It was pretty relaxed, but horrible things do happen in prison unfortunately that is all there. I expect prison to be really racist. That elementÁ‚s there, but very quiet and in the background.Á‚ They didnÁ‚t have Warders murdering people in their cells then? Á®No, not when I was there. I went to some really relaxed prisons. A lot of us were old people who had been in prison before and they couldnÁ‚t handle it because they werenÁ‚t used to such a relaxed regime. I spent one night in Wandsworth, which was probably the worst nick I ever went to, I mean they are seriously hierarchical. I came out of my cell in the morning and I was tucking my shirt in and they were saying, ÁéYou have to tuck your shirt in before you get outÁƒ. London prisons are probably far worse than the ones out in the shires.Á‚ Prison threw up its share of fun though, as Saxon explains after I notice a bit of tattoo peeking out from under his shirt. Á®Oh, that was the joys of prison. People werenÁ‚t terribly interested in politics in prison, people were very interested in my tattoo. [He takes off his shirt to reveal a back covered in a huge and very nice design with an A in the middle] Á®It was very strange, youÁ‚re getting ready for showers, you take your stuff off and, ÁéWow, thatÁ‚s a really large tattooÁƒ, even the prison guards mentioned it. I am straight edge and I actually said, donÁ‚t worry, youÁ‚ll have no problem with me taking any drugs, look I donÁ‚t even drink tea. They always strip-searched me coming back from my visits. I think they realised it was a pretty safe bet that I wouldnÁ‚t have any drugs on me because I donÁ‚t touch drugs. ItÁ‚s good for their routine to say ÁéOh, we strip-searched so many prisoners and we found no drugs because weÁ‚re running such a tight regime they canÁ‚t smuggle any inÁƒ. Which is complete rubbish, you can get any thing into prison, you really can, apart from alcohol because thatÁ‚s too big. Any soft or hard drugs you can get into prison no trouble. But they strip-searched me and when you take off the shirtÁ€ even one of the prison guards asked me if I did it in prison. ItÁ‚s like, oh yeh, I had a mirror or something, yeh, I can put a tattoo on my back.Á‚

    GANDALF 2 Although the GAndALF 3Á‚s convictions were quashed, he is still technically a Á®co-conspiratorÁ‚ with two other GA colleagues whose trial was about to begin. Á®Our case was the GAndALF mark two which was the conspiracy to incite criminal damage, so we believe thereÁ‚s probably going to be a GAndALF mark three because they generally want to shut GA up and shut Robyn Webb up. So IÁ‚m leaving the country for awhile so my door isnÁ‚t knocked down early in the morning. But the next one we believe is going to be something to do with the ÁéJustice DepartmentÁƒ[a direct action group]; a Áéconspiracy to incite GBH [grievous bodily harm]Áƒ. Basically the Justice Department were sending postal bombs to huntsmen and vivisectors, so we thought this trial was going to be about that. But they thought it would be an easier conviction to get us for Áéconspiracy to commit criminal damageÁƒ because of the lists in GA. That was actually in the ProsecutionÁ‚s closing arguments, ÁéOf course these people want to incite criminal damage, itÁ‚s all listed in their magazine.Áƒ! And unfortunately the jury bought it.Á‚ Considering the fact that newspapers report crimes and wars every dayÁ€ Á®Absolutely. Just before our trial started there was a columnist in the Observer [leftish Sunday newspaper –ed] who actually wrote some of the stuff that was down in the GA list of actions and he said, ÁéHow does it make you feel? Does it actually make you want to go out and commit criminal damage?Áƒ. But we had a seriously biased judge, and some of the juryÁ€ we wanted to make sure that no one was a huntsman or knew anyone that could have been attacked by the ALF, or generally anyone threatened by anarchism. Unfortunately we had at least five members who had connections to the armed forces, so these people had pledged allegiance to the Queen. One of the things in the case was the ALF attacked a dairy in Hampshire and one of the jurors actually knew one of the milkmen who made a statement to the police! Á®Hopefully PaulÁ‚s trial will be quashed in the first couple of weeks, but I canÁ‚t really see it happening because the judge who thought we were terrorists is also taking RobynÁ‚s and PaulÁ‚s trial. I believe that their trial is going to go all the way and the judge is going to push it as far as he can. This judge has spent 33 years in the military. HeÁ‚s been doing civilian courts for about 5 years, so of course he wasnÁ‚t going to be overly happy with a bunch of evil anarchistsÁ€Á‚ I think it sounds like a stitch-up. Á®Yeh, subtle comments he made, I was going to put certain things in evidence and heÁ‚d say, no he didnÁ‚t think that would be a very good idea because I probably wouldnÁ‚t see it for a very long time, i.e. he was gonna put me in prison for a very long time because he believed I did it.Á®

    ORGANISATIONS AND THE ESTABLISHMENT The GAndALF case was too political for some organisations to get very deeply involved in, since following a British law from the Thatcher years, registered charities are prevented from any form of political activity. Á® Liberty [the British civil liberties organisation -ed] did a press statement for us, but they didnÁ‚t want to get involved with us because we were political, which was also a problem with Amnesty International [AI], but they also came through in the end. I think they helped secure us to get out on bail. AI were taking a very close look at our case. The police put up this huge smokescreen that we were terrorists, in spite of the fact that they couldnÁ‚t prove that I wasnÁ‚t a pacifist, but the jury bought the idea. Á®Fortunately in the appeal court they actually mentioned that I was a pacifist and that I did what I did because I believed in free speech. So I was saying that I was doing 3 years for my first arrest, unfortunately it takes 3 years for these things to come out, 4½ months in prison. But itÁ‚s all part of growing up. It probably proves that I was doing something right. If the police want to spend 3 years and 4 million pounds prosecuting a magazine with a circulation of only a few thousand, it proves how much of a threat they considered us. ItÁ‚s something to tell my grandchildren.Á‚ There was word in the underground that the GAndALF 3 were released because Amnesty were going to list them as Prisoners of Conscience; something not usually done in the UK. So far the actual interest taken by AI is unclear. Á®There was a letter-writing campaign run by London Greenpeace. The London GAndALF supporter people wrote to AI, my parents wrote to them. AI is a very large and bureaucratic thing, the wheels grind really rather slowly. So just after I was released my parents got a letter from AI saying that, Á®WeÁ‚ll look into the case really closelyÁ‚. There was rumours that the New York AI were actually going to list us, but whether they did or not I canÁ‚t be sure. ItÁ‚s very flattering that they thought that I was a Á®prisoner of conscienceÁ‚ for awhile.Á‚ As for MPs or anyone in establishment politicsÁ€ Á®Noel MollandÁ‚s MP and Steve BoothÁ‚s MP were very interested in their cases. My MP was going to raise it with the Powers that Be, and he helped get me moved closer to home. I had met him once before and he actually claimed that, oh, you know, ÁéDonÁ‚t worry son, we donÁ‚t put people in prison for publishing stuff in this countryÁƒ. Bernard Ingham, who was Press Secretary of the Conservative Party during Mrs. ThatcherÁ‚s years actually went on Radio Four, and he was saying if he was judge he would have given us six years cause we were these evil anarchists. ItÁ‚s another a feather in our cap that we could so insult tories, basically weÁ‚re paperboys doing our job and doing a magazine.Á‚ Does he think he will ever get burnt out with all these political struggles? Á®Well I had quite a rest during prison. I have retired from GA basically, but I am still a green anarchist.Á‚

    FUTURE PLANS: Saxon has devoted quite a large part of his life to the campaign, and now as a way of spreading the word, helping the defendants and the magazine and getting out of danger of arrest he is taking a tour of Canada, the United States, Australia and maybe further. Á®GAÁ‚s been polarised and for the last 3-4 years now weÁ‚ve been obsessed with just trying to get the magazine out. It would be nice to turn out a decent magazine for a change. So hopefully we can get some contacts on board and have some decent, worthwhile, interesting news in it. Hopefully we can start rebuilding the paper now that this is all over, not that I think it is over. Á®When I get to the Á®States, with the Earth First journal IÁ‚m going to live with them for several months and produce the Spring issue of the Earth First journal. Seeing how it goes I might stay in America for awhile. Á®This is a particularly noble and interesting times in North America, what with the Zapatistas and everything. It would be nice to go down there and see whatÁ‚s happening, down in the south of Mexico. Perhaps sixty years ago I would have liked to have thought that I would have gone and fought with the CNT in Spain. These things donÁ‚t happen in Europe very often anymore unfortunately. I believe there is potential for it all, but in Europe itÁ‚s somewhat quieter. Á®Another thing that drew me to GA is, you look at revolutions throughout the world and itÁ‚s not the huddled masses of the working class, itÁ‚s basically peasants. Barcelona was huge with the anarchists, but the people who actually continued the revolution was the peasants. Out in the countryside they created a non-hierarchical society and actually got rid of money. I have particular problems with anarcho-syndicalism basically because unionism under another nameÁ€leftism through the back door. Perhaps it doesnÁ‚t completely seek the abolition of the state.Á‚

    As for words of wisdom for all the kids out there reading this, Saxon says, Á®DonÁ‚t get caughtÁ‚.

    REVOLUTION IN OUR LIFETIME? – A CONVERSATION Á®I certainly hope so. Sooner or later. Whether itÁ‚s something really weird like the Millennium Bug and everything going haywire, I mean who knows. I mean, I grew up in the Á®80s during the Cold WarÁ€Á‚ Á€We thought nothing would change ever Á®AbsolutelyÁ‚ And everything changed in two years Á®Yeh, in my lifetime we saw Communism stripped away and the Americans the last Superpower, I mean who knows whatÁ‚s going to happen?Á‚ Mandela Á®Absolutely. One year in prison, the next heÁ‚s running the country. So weÁ‚ve seen colossal change. Anything could happen, anythingÁ‚s possible. We will achieve a free and just society in my lifetime. IsnÁ‚t that what IÁ‚ve been working for over half my lifetime?Á‚ How old are you? Á®IÁ‚m only 25. I like to think IÁ‚ve achieved a lot. A friend of mine once wrote that itÁ‚s better to make history than to read about it. IÁ‚m an illiterate slob, so IÁ‚d much rather be making history because reading books is not my thing. Fanzines cool, punk mags great, but reading big long wordy booksÁ€Á‚

    UPDATE !!! On November 25, 1998 the second GandALF trial was thrown out of court before it started, leaving the defendants free and the cops embarrassed! The trial judge was also deemed to have carried out a Á®substantial misdirection of the lawÁ‚ because he directed the jury and withheld information from the jurors. Saxon is living in Oregon and working on Earth First! projects.

    CONTACTS: Green Anarchist (Address for paper, Contact List and Urgent Action List) BCM 1715, London WC1N 3XX, UK Animal Liberation Front Press Office, BM 4400, London WC1N 3XX, UK, Telephone: 01954 230542 Vegan Prisoners Supporters Group, PO Box 194, Enfield, Middlesex EN1 3HD, UK, Telephone: 0181 292 8325 (Newsletter available from Synthesis Distro.)

    Censored News

    Introduction For over 20 years Á®Project CensoredÁ‚; based at CaliforniaÁ‚s Sonoma State University; has produced an annual list of the most important news stories that received the least coverage in the US media. Project Censored also lists the yearÁ‚s Á®junk food storiesÁ‚; the relatively unimportant stories that received saturation coverage (such as Star Wars and the death of JFK Jr.). Project Censored can be found at: http://www.sonoma.edu/projectcensored/ or Sonoma State University, Rohnert Park, CA 94928, USA and the Top 25 is also listed in Nexus Magazine: http://www.icom.net/%7Enexus/ or from the UK Office: 55 Queens Rd, East Grinstead, West Sussex, RH19 1BG, UK. [Sample copy £3] Europe Office: PO Box 372, Dronten, 8250 AJ, The Netherlands. [Sample copy NFL10]

    The news stories are selected by more than 125 academics, student researchers and volunteers, and community experts. The final 25 censored stories are ranked in order of significance by a panel of judges including members of the media, authors and educators. Obviously the stories have a US-centric bias, but this list does largely have general humanist and global relevance.


    No. 1. CENSORED SECRET INTERNATIONAL TRADE AGREEMENT UNDERMINES THE SOVEREIGNTY OF NATIONS: The Multilateral Agreement on Investment (MAI) began with secret talks between the US and 28 other countries in 1995. The goal of MAI is basically to safeguard multinational corporations from democratic regulatory control by nation-states and local governments and, ultimately, from civil society (thatÁ‚s all of us).

    Some of the results of the MAI can be broken down as follows:  Corporations will have almost the same rights as nation-states  Human, environmental and labour protections will be relaxed or nullified  Food subsidies, control of land speculation, agrarian reform and health and environmental standards (eg. community control of forests, local bans on use of pesticides, clean air standards, limits on mineral, gas and oil extraction, and bans on toxic dumping) will be challenged as "illegal"

    No. 2. CENSORED CHEMICAL CORPORATIONS PROFIT OFF BREAST CANCER: The companies at the lead of cancer treatment and information are also the makers of cancer-causing products.

    With revenues of $14 billion, Imperial Chemical Industries (aka Zeneca because it keeps changing itÁ‚s name) is among the world's largest manufacturers of pesticides, plastics, and pharmaceuticals. Zeneca pressured the US Food & Drug Administration to approve tamoxifen as a Á®preventionÁ‚ measure against breast cancer. However, the World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer has found that tamoxifen is a Á®probable human carcinogenÁ‚.


    Á®Over the 12,000 years that humans have been farming, a rich tradition of seed saving has developed. Men and women choose seeds from the plants that are best adapted to their own locale and trade them within the community, enhancing crop diversity and success rates. All this may change in the next four to five years.

    Á®Monsanto Corporation has been working to consolidate the world seed market, and is now poised to introduce new genetically engineered seeds that will produce only infertile seeds at the end of the farming cycle. Farmers will no longer be able to save seeds from year to year, and will be forced to purchase new seeds from Monsanto each year.Á‚

    No. 4 CENSORED RECYCLED RADIOACTIVE METALS MAY BE IN YOUR HOME: The US government is now permitting, "decontaminated" radioactive metal to be sold to for manufacture into everything from knives and forks and belt buckles to zippers, eyeglasses, dental fillings and IUD contraceptive coils. The official Nuclear Regulatory Commission estimates that the proposed change of license standards could cause 100,000 cancer fatalities in the United States alone.

    No. 5 CENSORED U. S. WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION LINKED TO THE DEATHS OF A HALF A MILLION CHILDREN: The American sanctions against Iraq since the 1991 Gulf War have killed more Iraqi citizens than did the war itself.

    Sanctions are being carried out because Saddam Hussein has not complied to the demands of a UN resolution requiring the search of Á®every structure in IraqÁ‚ for weapons of mass destructions. Between 1985 and 1989, U.S. firms supplied the microorganisms needed for the production of Iraq's chemical and biological weapons. Shipments included biological agents for anthrax, botulism, and e-coli. Those US companies and politicians who were responsible for providing Iraq with its arsenal have never been held to account.


    In March 1998, the US violated the United Nations' Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty by carrying out an underground detonation of a 227-pound nuclear bomb at the Department of Energy's Nevada Test Site which is co-managed by corporate superpowers Bechtel, Lockheed Martin and Johnson Controls.

    Á®The European Parliament issued an official warning to the U.S. declaring that further experiments might prompt other nations to engage in full-scale testing. Some Chinese and Japanese officials also criticized the United States, calling for America to stop "skirting its responsibility for arms reduction".Á‚

    No. 7 CENSORED GENE TRANSFERS LINKED TO DANGEROUS NEW DISEASES: A health crisis may be emerging thanks to biotechnology.  At least 30 new diseases have emerged over the past 20 years  Diseases such as tuberculosis, cholera, and malaria, are again emerging vigorously in the West  By 1990 nearly every common bacterial species had developed some degree of resistance to drug treatment

    As well as the overuse of antibiotics, another factor may be the transference of genes between unrelated species of animals and plants which takes place with genetic engineering. If antibiotic-resistant genes result from engineered gene transfers, these genes may spread and recombine to generate new pathogens that are resistant to drugs and antibiotics resistant pathogens. Antibiotic resistant genes spread readily between human beings, and since antibiotics can increase gene transfer by ten to 10,000-faster, this can create the very conditions that facilitate the spread of antibiotic resistance.

    So far it is believed that genetic engineering may have been responsible for:  Bacterial strains which caused a 1992 cholera outbreak in India  The 1993 streptococcus epidemic in Tayside, UK

    No. 8 CENSORED NO MERCY FOR WOMEN AS CATHOLIC HOSPITAL MERGERS THREATEN REPRODUCTIVE RIGHTS: Due to recent mergers, the Roman Catholic Church is now the largest private health care provider in the nation. In 1996, over 600 hospitals merged with Catholic institutions in 19 US states. The mergers are threatening women's access to abortions, sterilization, birth control, in vitro fertilization, foetal tissue experimentation, and assisted suicide. The Kingston Hospital in Rhinebeck, N.Y. for example, once performed about I00 abortions a year, but if merged with Benedictine Hospital, a Roman Catholic facility, it will provide the service for medical reasons only. This would mean that no hospital in the community would provide birth control counselling or family planning services.

    No. 9 CENSORED U. S. TAX DOLLARS SUPPORT DEATH SQUADS IN CHIAPAS: Á®On December 22, 1997, in the village of Acteal, in the highlands of the Mexican state of Chiapas, 45 local men, women and children were shot as they were praying. Their bodies were dumped into a ravine. Elsewhere throughout the state of Chiapas, unarmed women face down armies "with fists held high in rebellion and babies slung from their shoulder." In Jalisco, more than a dozen young men were kidnapped and tortured. One of them, Salvador Jimenez Lopez, drowned in his own blood when his tongue was cut out. The group responsible for these and other atrocities are allegedly members of the Mexican Army Airborne Special Forces Groups (GAFE)-a paramilitary unit trained by US Army Special Forces.

    Á®Mexican soldiers are being trained with U.S. tax dollars to fight an alleged Á®War on DrugsÁ‚, but peasants activists say the real motive driving the U.S.-supported war is the protection of foreign investment rights in Mexico. Á®In Chiapas, U.S. tax money pays for weapons and military ... to destroy a movement for social justice... . The United States transfers aid to the Mexican military in cash, weapons and counterinsurgency training. The 1998 Clinton administration budget earmarked more than $21 million dollars for the Mexican Drug War, including $12 million for Pentagon training in Á®procedures for fighting drug traffic.Á‚ Anti-drug effort seems to continue to focus on the Chiapas region where 80 percent of the communities are in conflict zones. According to the Zapatismo Papers, acts of inhumanity by GAFE were led by Lt. Col. Julian Guerrero Barrios, a 1981 graduate of the U.S.-sponsored School of Americas (SOA). Although it remains unknown how many of the 15 soldiers charged in the Acteal incident were trained at U.S. bases, the Pentagon has admitted that some of the soldiers arrested were US trained.Á‚

    No. 10 CENSORED WHAT PRICE, CHEAP OIL? ENVIRONMENTAL STUDENT ACTIVISTS GUNNED DOWN ON CHEVRON OIL FACILITY IN NIGERIA: For decades, the people living in the Niger Delta have protested the destruction of their wetlands by the multinational oil corporation Chevron. The Delta is now one of the most heavily polluted regions in the world. Chevron repeatedly cancelled several meetings scheduled by campaigners attempting to voice their concerns, and so in May, 1997, 121 youths from 42 different communities gathered around an oil platform. According to student leader, Bola Oyinbo, approximately 20 of the 121 students surrounding the barge in small boats went on board to meet with a Nigerian Naval officer who was working for Chevron. Oyinbo stated that the students wanted to speak to a Mr. Kirkland, Chevrons managing director. Although the director never came, other Chevron officials did arrive the next day and promised to set up a meeting with the students at the end of May. The students agreed to leave the barge on May 28 in order to attend the proposed meeting.

    Censored News - blood for oil

    In the words of Bola Oyinbo*, Á®On May 28 we saw three helicopters. They came like eagles swooping on chickens. We never expected what followed. As the choppers landed one after the other discharging soldiers, we heard gunshots and fire. In fact they started shooting commando-style at us even before they landed. They shot everywhere. Arulika and Jola fell. They died instantly. Larry who was near him rushed to his aid, wanting to pick him up; he was also shot.

    Á®More soldiers came and more shooting followed. Some of my colleagues jumped over board into the Atlantic; others ran onto the platform. There was pandemonium. They shot tear gas. White men flew all the helicopters. I was by this time on the platform with some of my colleagues. We were defenceless, harmless.

    Á®We entered the radio room and I called Deji Haastrup. I complained that we were to meet today in the community and instead he sent us soldiers. He replied: Áé I have warned you. If you want a chance to live, you should leave the place.Áƒ

    Á®Forty-five minutes later another chopper came. There were four soldiers inside. They joined in the shooting for another hour, this time shooting into the air and shouting like cowboys attacking Indians that were caught unaware. The workers on the platform demanded to be evacuated; they were all flown to Meren platform. The soldiers saw me and wanted to shoot me. Lt. Commander Williams shouted at them not to shoot. The army captain who led the operation ordered most of my colleagues locked in a container.

    Á®Larry was first taken for first aid. He had been shot in the stomach, the legs and elbows. They also flew the corpses of my colleagues away. As the hours dragged on painfully, Hasstrup phoned the platform to say that five of our elders, the governor of Ondo State and senior Chevron officials were waiting at the naval base in Warri. I told Lt. Commander Williams that it was a lie. To show the lies in him (sic) I told Deji in the presence of the commander: ÁéYou know that you killed a lot of people.Áƒ

    Á®Haastrup replied angrily, ÁéIf it means blowing up the platform with you inside, I will not mind doing that.Áƒ I reminded Haastrup that whatever he was saying on radio was being received by the world. He hung up.

    Á®Most of us who went for the peaceful protest were injured; at least 30 received gunshot wounds. Several of our engine boats and fishing equipment were destroyed. We got information that Chevron had lodged a complaint against us that we are pirates and that the mobile police would take us for prosecution. My colleagues and I were in a cruel cell until June 2, when we were let go. Our struggle continues.Á‚

    *From Car Busters number 3 (44 rue Burdeau, 69001 Lyon, France, carbusters@wanadoo.fr, www.antenna.nl/eyfa/cb)

    Hardcore Predictions for 2010

    In issue four I made predictions of developments in the scene in 1999 and I have to say these proved remarkably prescient. I think IÁ‚ve really grasped the cyclical nature of hardcore. So this time IÁ‚m risking my sociological credentials by forecasting Á€

    January The deaths of several aged ex-Maximum RockNRoll columnists prompt zine tributes along the lines of, Á®Mykel Board was my best friend, we met way back in 1997Á€Á‚.

    February Attorneys representing Geffen Records, who eight years previously purchased the entire back catalogue of Braid and all their acolytes, attempt to sue a Croatian emocore band who include a Braid cover on their first 7Áƒ. The Chair of Geffen, Mr. Thurston Moore, resigns in humiliation following his corporationÁ‚s loss of the case which has cost Geffen hundreds of millions of dollars.

    March Quaker-core has been sweeping the punk scene for the past two years. Silent gigs have become all the rage with middle aged hc kids who are now almost all in an advanced stage of deafness. Swedish band the Friends Society for World Peace takes Northern Europe by storm in February on the Á®YouÁ‚ll Have Had Your OatsÁ‚ tour. The huge influx of Swedish teenagers into Quakerism ends in September when FSWP splits up and twelve Quaker-organised peace projects in Africa collapse due to the removal of support.

    April The Youth of Today re-reunion world tour ends in chaos. After just the first three gigs of the 80-date tour, the re-reformed Nations on Fire, supporting the European leg of the tour, stormed off due to a disagreement about profit share and the fact that NoFÁ‚s name was printed much smaller than YOTÁ‚s on adverts and tickets. After fishing around for another support act, Ray & Porcell had another crisis of faith and join a cult of hermits in Iceland who feed exclusively on fish. Official sponsors of the tour Vans-Thorn-Revelation, recall their funding but find that Ray & Porcell have donated the lot to the fund for providing fishhooks to Icelandic hermits.

    May Hatecore has a brief supply-side revival as every former metal hc kid (and present bank manager) in Belgium and Germany sells their cd collections to second hand shops upon the births of their first children.

    June Print zines are killed off by the huge rise of postage rates following the establishment of the Single European Postal Service (based in Bonn) and the regulation of photocopying following the Multilateral Agreement on Information; which makes copyright-free publications a Á®barrier to corporate profitÁ‚. An internet zineage boom follows as hc kids give each other tips on how to hack into the corporate-regulated medium.

    July The Autonomous Astronauts organise the first Reclaim the Solar System Party on the moon and CopenhagenÁ‚s riot police raid the biggest punk festival in Europe when representatives of a supermarket chain were excluded from the festival after paying for the privilege of being official sponsors, suckers.

    August Following the catastrophic UK recession, several new squatted autonomous zones emerge in London: Canary Wharf Squat is set up by the Icelandic hermits, News International HQ by crusties and the Intelligence HQ in Vauxhall by a group of situationist quaker-edge feminists. A former wine bar in Brixton is squatted by Italian and Spanish punks who then put on regular punk gigs that begin an average of 3 hours late.

    September Maximum RockNRoll devotes an issue to discussing why males have become a minority in the punk scene.

    October Now that abstinence from alcohol is no longer an integral part of straight edge, and has been replaced by bodybuilding and tribal tattoos (representing strength of character and indigenous-peopleÁ‚s rights), the sxe scene has experienced some disarray and muscle-vs-ink factionalism. The fourth wave of straight edge began to die out late in 2008.

    November After the singer of an American poppunk band goes on a drunken rampage and accidentally kills a granny when his Chucks fall off and hit her in the head, parents are warned to watch out for Á®Poppunk gangsÁ‚ and Converse are sued for inciting violence.

    December The Moog is the newest incarnation of Á®Old SchoolÁ‚

    Exclusive! interview with God

    (or Stella as she likes to be known)
    By Laura

    Stella was born in Soweto township in the old South Africa in 1965. She takes over as God on January 1st, 2001.

    First of all, I have to say I am and no doubt many of our readers will be surprised by all this because I thought you didnÁ‚t exist. S: That is not unusual. There is usually a crisis/loss of faith in an administration that precipitates a major overthrow or transformation. People know when a system of power is illegitimate, and the more people who know; the less able the system is to survive.

    So what does God do? S: Well up to now the job has generally involved the imposition and dissemination of a particular way of thinking among people on Earth. This has been called Á®faithÁ‚, Á®The ChurchÁ‚, Á®ideologyÁ‚, Á®zeitgeistÁ‚ and all sorts of things. However I am taking a completely different direction from my predecessors. Many people on Earth are really resisting all this intervention from hierarchical power and I intend to make the same sort of fundamental challenges in my role as an invisible but significant presence in the world. I intend to be guided by the positive work being done on Earth rather than try to influence its direction.

    Why are you taking over now? S: Well, my predecessor had basically run his course. He completed the expansion that had been the CouncilÁ‚s goal for 2,000 years and the project wasnÁ‚t sustainable anymore so a complete change of direction was called for both in Heaven and on Earth.

    How were you chosen? S: What used to happen is that the Heavenly Council would decide. The Council isnÁ‚t as impressive as it sounds. Basically it consists of all people whose spirits are not on Earth and whoever bothers to turn up. So itÁ‚s like a Trade Union meeting on Earth; anyone who is bored in Heaven and interested in what is happening on Earth comes to a meeting and discusses how things on Earth might be changed. Votes pass with a simple majority on most things. Early in the 20th Century a discussion started on the projects of the current God and the conclusion about 10 years ago was that there should be a new God. By then the discussions spread throughout Heaven and there was a consensus among the various groups that the Council had pretty well screwed things up for the previous 4,000 or so years and a whole new direction was needed. The womenÁ‚s, environmental, Majority World (aka Á®Third WorldÁ‚), young people and other groups in Heaven basically had far more relevant interests than all the old guys in the Council, so the Council pretty much melted away and this pluralistic new order emerged in Heaven.

    There had already been Gods from the East, North and West of the Mediterranean, so this time they went South and found me. I had affinities with the various interest groups in Heaven and had recently been murdered at a demonstration, because this was during the days of Apartheid, so I became available for the office.

    What will be your official title? S: The other Gods tended to have really grandiose titles like Á®The AlmightyÁ‚ and Á®The Great BeingÁ‚ and other self-aggrandising nonsense. That sort of thing really isnÁ‚t for me. In Heaven everyone calls me Stella, and IÁ‚m comfortable just sticking with my name. The office is called Á®GodÁ‚, but I am thinking of changing that as well. That word carries too much baggage with it if you know what I mean.

    Everybody wants to know; is 2000 really the beginning of the new Millennium? S: You may have heard that Jesus came to Earth in what we call the year 8 instead of the year 0, and that is perfectly true. The discrepancy is basically down to Pater Domino who wanted people to believe that he had been around longer than he actually was. But it is too late to change the perceptions now so we are sticking to the common perceptions. Except of course that the third millennium, AD actually begins in 2001 and not 2000.

    So are the Jews really the Chosen People? S: Well certainly they were chosen by Jhvh who was Jewish himself and saw great potential in his people to maintain faith in him through tradition and strengthen it through study and reflection. And that went pretty well for a couple of thousand years, but the Council was concerned that the Jews kept the faith too much to themselves and that it was time to spread it about more. So the idea of a jobshare was created with Jhvh staying in the background for a bit and the mortal envoy, Jesus, was sent to Earth to try a practical missionary approach. Jhvh didnÁ‚t really agree with a Rabbi being so outspoken and he retired before long. By the time John came along to be God in the late 17th Century, Gentiles were firmly established as the new Chosen. Of course JohnÁ‚s big project was Reason and he always resented that the Jews tended to be so much better at it than his people, so anti-semitism became very big during his time in office.

    Why is John retiring? S. It was obvious that something had to be done about John because even he no longer had any control over his project which had brought a great deal of unhappiness to people on Earth and had endangered the whole ecology.

    How will the job handover take place? S. I am of course being advised by my predecessors, although I have to say I have not found their advice very helpful. Also I do find they patronise me terribly; calling me Á®young missÁ‚ and so on. They are tremendously displeased that I have no interest in either religion or riches.

    Does Hell exist? S: Well yes it does, but the propaganda by my predecessors is completely misleading about that realm. Remember one of their purposes was to coerce people to choose Heaven as their destination after death. Most people go to Hell because it is the realm of irresponsibility and selfishness. If I were to describe Hell in Earthbound terms, it would be a holiday in Tenerife. Everyone there is in pursuit of pleasure and do not want to engage in lifeÁ‚s complications and seek solutions. Heaven is somewhat more diverse right now because, as I say, there is a tremendous amount of activism and interest in Earth issues. But people get tired of both realms and there is a great deal of movement between the two. No one has to commit for eternity to either Heaven or Hell.

    What is the first thing you will do on Earth? S: There are many people engaged in desperate struggles on Earth right now who are up against tremendous power. They need encouragement and faith in themselves, and I will help them in this. I might also make occasional divine interventionÁ€

    Anything you want to say to people on Earth? S: I donÁ‚t believe in having an official Á®chosenÁ‚ people, and my time in office will be the first with no preference or discrimination based on religious or other beliefs, ethnicity, geography, sex, sexuality, age etc. Anyone anywhere can be among the blessed if they practice social justice. The way they were: God through the ages The Word The original project of the Heavenly Council; a club set up by and for those with nothing better to do and an interest in manipulating life on Earth. Club members eventually got bored with each other and devised ways of recruiting new members by interacting more with people on Earth and making them want to come to Heaven. So the aim of the Council became expansionism. JHVH Born in the Fertile Crescent, this grandfatherly figure organised a mass religion centred on his own tribe. Like many grandfathers, he varied between bad tempers and kindliness, was tradition- and rule-bound, and took much too long to die and pass on his inheritance. Pater Domino Originally from Rome. He lavished his inheritance on himself and flew into a rage whenever he didnÁ‚t get his way. Among his conceits was deciding to split his personality into three parts; each to be worshipped separately. He oversaw the setting up of an international religion with centralised organisation, unparalleled wealth and a zeal for expansion through force and violence. His pet hate was women and his followers worked to undermine the spiritual and social stake of women by cracking down on all forms of earthbound Á®Pagan WitchcraftÁ‚. As any does empire that lasts too long (1,200 years), his sank into decadence and irreparable factions and so had to be replaced. John As people on Earth were becoming too sophisticated to be taken in by pretty stained glass and incense and began choosing alternatives, a God was hired who could harness these tendencies. The third entity God was the original middle-class Englishman. His reign has been the shortest but also the most effective, violent and wide-ranging; incorporating the Enlightenment and Global Capitalism. John oversaw the development of a religion without a church; Liberty, and a new theology; Reason. This time the religion spread worldwide and became established in new organisational forms like nation-states and markets. Stella She may become known as Á®The PeopleÁ‚s GodÁ‚, or perhaps the Á®post-godÁ‚. The expansionist project of the previous 2000 years had succeeded in affecting every person on Earth, but the result was the imminent destruction of the world and Heaven (as well as Earth) becoming full of dreary, loud Americans. Stella hopes to see the world be turned upside down by its own people and for diversity and unity to coexist throughout the world.

    Help! I'm turning into Felix von Havoc!!

    In the last issue of Synthesis I predicted the decline and fall of emo, but I did not forsee the swiftness with which I would myself turn against everything that the -word represents. In this case, I am referring to the particular type of emo (aka 'postpunk') represented by labels such as Deep Elm and all those US bands and their sound-alikes whose sound is indistinguishable from any indie rock band.

    I went to a gig one night with a US band from a 100% commercial US 'emo' label (all major credit cards accepted for their mailorder) and two UK bands. The music was good, but I had such a feeling of alienation. The whole experience was empty. I used to think boys were cute with the emo look, but this night I couldn't stand them. Songs about luv and sadness do get pretty boring after all. Even when the songs are nice I really don't like the whole idea of this stuff coming from punk bands. I seem to be becoming more of a purist.

    Promise Ring with their eMpTV videos, Braid with their $800 guarantees and all the rest of them with their FM-friendly, highly marketable indie rock are using the hardcore scene, plain and simple, to get laid, fame and wealth. They are hardcore's boy bands. All these bands take after the Smiths, but the Smiths actually had originality and Morrissey has an unparalleled ability to write words that express truths about relationships. This particular brand of 'emo' is doing nothing other than following a successful formula. Fair enough, that is what most bands do, but when the whole point of emo is to be deeply personal, sincere and heartfelt it just makes one sick to think they are turning that into just another musical product. It is no wonder that so many of these bands have such rockstar attitudes and end up as undeniable sell-outs; because that was the whole point of these bands in the first place!

    What does 'post-punk' mean?
    (punk/hardcore - politics, ethics, rebellion, musical legacy)
    + commercial musical legacy
    = commercial indie rock bands exploiting the punk/hardcore scene

    Bring back real emo is what I say. Remember Moss Icon, Iconoclast, Embrace, Policy of Three, Rites of Spring, Bob Tilton...?

    Coming soon to a neighbourhood near you: Gentrification

    You may have heard that the historic and well important 121 Railton Road squat in Brixton, South London was being threatened with eviction. Lambeth Council finally got their eviction notice through in January 1999 and the eviction took place on Thursday, 13 August 1999. The 121 was the latest casualty in a campaign of gentrification by the Council which was determined to make Brixton a profitable upper-class neighbourhood.

    For decades Brixton has been a bustling, predominantly afrocaribbean, diverse, multicultural, sometimes dangerous, somewhat smelly, always changing part of town. Even now as the forces of embourgeoisment are swiftly taking over, the new wine bars are interspersed with grubby shopfronts that look far more at home than the new buildings with their gleaming brickwork. But the main shopping area is only the most visible side of gentrification. In the backstreets, rents for long-term residents are being impossibly hiked up, old people's homes are being evicted and squatters are being moved on. As properties are taken over by developers with dodgy connections to Lambeth Council, they are put onto the yuppie housing market with new fashionable prices.

    South London
    Out on my bike, past the bakery which from today's smells seems to be making fruit & nut flapjacks. Further on I see a new sign for the West Greenwich Community Centre, a pub with a new sign and lick of paint outside, a new Japanese noodle bar, an exclusive wine bar. Old Greenwich standbys are closing or dying; an Italian restaurant here, the theatre there. Property prices all around this area are booming. The name Á®the Millennium BoroughÁ‚ has been adopted in honour of the latest folly, er, prestige project devised by the last two British Governments – the Millennium Dome. I rode up to the Dome one night too; an artificial, empty mass of unreal colours grafted onto a shabby, forgotten edge of London. The rest of the peninsula seemed oblivious to the New Labour project though. As I rode in the shadow of huge, scary riverside factories spewing out air pollution I got sexually harassed by two teenage boys. I should have told them it was past the Home Secretary's curfew.

    Southeast London has been something of a secret up until very recently. Fifteen years ago it was abandoned warehouses, disused quays and squats. Yuppie flats were built throughout the 90Á‚s, but the new population trickled in rather slowly due to the rather poor transport connections. Tourists sometimes came to the Greenwich Observatory and to look at the Cutty Sark, but not in overwhelming numbers. Now the changing fortunes of a couple of small bits of this part of town are expanding to cover even the most tatty and unremarkable areas. Soon we will be better hooked up with transportation than almost any other area of London. It is becoming obvious that before long there will be no affordable housing left within the first 4 of London's 6 transport zones.

    British cities, to an extent like American cities, have experienced a dramatic turnaround. By the early 90s, many inner cities were on a severe economic decline. White middle-class people had sought the good life in the countryside/suburbs. Now a turnaround has occurred whereby white middle class people have found urban bohemia rather appealing and are moving back to inner cities in droves. Notice the similarity between the words Á®gentrificationÁ‚ and Á®genocideÁ‚? The genuineness of old buildings, old businesses, old communities that makes cities so attractive to new residents is precisely what is destroyed. Commercial money follows middle class money into these areas. So with rents and living amenities becoming more expensive, the native communities in gentrified areas are pushed ever further to the edge of cities. Communities are destroyed, people have to pay more to travel further for work and entertainment, and the culture of the place disappears. The people hit the hardest I think are the elderly people who are most deeply attached to their locality and whose life and community ties can never be rebuilt in another place.

    There is nothing new about gentrification, but this current trend is having perhaps the greatest effect on urban life for decades. Gentrification is rarely challenged, and I can only hope that when we get back a central London authority next year someone will address this problem. I know I'm a nostalgic fool about this city, but I hate to see anything about London cheapened by short-term developments and shallow yuppification. So it is very encouraging to hear about people standing up to these forces.

    The 'Yuppie Eradication Project' is the brainchild of some radicals living in the Mission District of San Francisco and was inspired by anti-government movements in Berlin, Barcelona and Johannesburg. As yuppies have encroached on the Mission in recent years; bringing with them coffee bars and high rents, joke demos have been held in which YEP activists held placards reading things such as 'Just Say Me' and 'Give Greed A Chance'. Drawing attention to the nature and character of gentrification; as well as to it's non-inevitability are important steps in uniting communities in defence.

    I know of one case in which gentrification was successfully held off and that took place in London in the past year. This occurred in the evil Square Mile of the City of London; the financial capital of the world where the June 18th Reclaim the Streets took place. In the shadow of mammon is the beautiful old covered market Spitalfields; an oasis in that part of town with vegetarian shops and cafes and LondonÁ‚s best organic market as well as being a craft market, indoor tennis court and football pitch and generally a great place to hang out on a Sunday afternoon and a great environment for children. The building is also home to several radical housing cooperatives and family flats. This is prime property and many people would love to get their hands on Spitalfields in order to turn it into expensive flats. A campaign was mounted by residents, locals and visitors, meetings were held, property law investigated and ultimately the greedy City types were held off; at least for the moment.

    I guess for a recognisable community like Spitalfields this sort of campaign is more likely to succeed than in fractured areas like where I live. I would like to think that when London's new central authority is elected in May, 2000 that there is something the new Mayor can do to resist the trend toward gentrification. Localisation is another trend in contemporary society and maybe as people become more aware of their immediate communities we won't fall so easily to market forces. If people know of gentrification happening near them and maybe any resistance to it; do write and let me know what's happening where you are.

    Survey - Human Nature

    Good, evil, competitive, cooperative, social, political, violent are all characteristics that various people have said are basic, natural characteristics that shape our behaviour. As I see it, even if people do not think much about their outlook on human nature, it is fundamental to their political views. For instance, anarchists tend to have a fairly positive view of human nature whereas political conservatives might think people are basically evil. So what do you think?

    The respondents are: Laurent Chopard, 4 rue Julien Dubois, 90 300 Cravanche, France Carissa, 4434 Ludlow St., Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA, hopscotcharmy@juno.com USA Yann Boisleve, BP 7523, 35075 Rennes Cedex 3, France Brob, Tennisbaanstraat 34, 9000 Gent, Belgium Joseph, 13 Abbeygate Street, Colchester, Essex, C02 7HB, UK Tom, 55 Marmora Rd, London SE22 0RY, UK Teo, Poljska 29 40315 Mursko Središće, Croatia Jon, Active Distribution, BM ACTIVE, WC1N 3XX, London, England.

    The questions are:

    1. what is your view on human nature and how is this reflected in your political/social outlooks?

    2. do you think human nature is fixed and permanent or that is has evolved along with everything else in human society? can it be changed?

    3. people have tried to establish what constitutes human nature by observing for instance young children, the mentally disabled, pre-modern (ªgprimitiveªh) societies, animals etc. do you think it is possible to discover human nature in such a way?

    4. does everyone have the same basic nature, or for instance do women and men have different fundamental characteristics?

    Laurent 1. I don't give any special value to human nature, first because I think that to define it can be dangerous in a way and secondly because I think that giving importance to it prevents things to evolve. I mean, in a political discussion for instance, you'll always find someone to say ªeyou can't change it, this is human nature !ªf. This argument is used to maintain the present situation, it is strongly against political or social changes. It's like when people define "nature" as a kind of God that would never change and which would establish a ªenatural orderªf (defined by man !) These arguments are reactionary and conservative. In my political/social outlooks, I try to fight this determinism. 2. I think that ªehuman natureªf would not be fixed because I don't think that one standard human nature exists and because nothing is permanent in this world. If "human nature" exists as such, then I think that it can be changed by the individuals themselves (their experiences...) Nothing is ªenaturalªf or ªeunnaturalªf because everything evolves in our society (including people) and in our environment. Even if one day, a scientist discovers that human nature really exists and that it is fundamentally bad, then why couldn't it be changed? Education could be a tool to help this change. 3. I don't think it is possible to discover human nature in such a way because the fact that a young child acts the way he does is not a proof that these characteristics are parts of his own ªenatureªf. This may just be a behaviour that he learnt unconsciously through his/her relationships with others (his parents, etc.) Moreover, why should a non-human animal be representative of human nature? These are useless studies, or maybe useful on a psychologic level only. 4. I think that every individual has his/her own characteristics (which are mainly the result of his/her past experiences) and that there is not a basic ªenatureªf for men, another for women, etc. This kind of arguments only serves to protect the interests of one group of individuals (often human, white, male, heterosexual and wealthy) and to discriminate the rest by establishing social roles.

    Carissa 1. I believe that there is inherent good in all human beings. That is why I am an anarchist. I believe in human beingªfs ability to rule over himself/herself and that there are no ªegood peopleªf and ªebad peopleªf. 2. Human beings adapt to whatever exists in culture. If the culture is that of capitalism, human beings become greedy, selfish, and over-competitive (which in the end creates greater hierarchy). A system like anarcho-communism highlights the sharing element in the personality. In other words, in order to survive you must share. 3. I think these are the best ways to study the true human without the effects of culture and environment. Science has pretty well covered the effects of different environments but it hasnªft touched on an individualªfs base character and how it affects environment. 4. Men and womyn are definitely different, which is obvious because womyn give birth. Giving birth and providing for a child gives one a completely different perspective and ways of doing things.

    Yann 1. What is your view on human nature and how is this reflected in your political/social outlooks? I used to think human nature did not exist, and that everything we do was linked to our education, society's and peer pressure, etc. After 10 years of socio-political involvement, my views have changed a bit. I am now almost 28 and have met a lot of people and seen a lot of things, and since a few months I have been questioning my beliefs. Of course education plays a huge part. For instance, if someone is raised in a very rich family, they will act like a rich person (whatever this may imply), but if the SAME person is raised in a middle class family, their values will probably be different. However, sometimes children (who should be more or less "innocent" at that early age) can act really silly and be totally cruel towards their fellow beings, animals, objects or maybe even themselves. I remember seeing two young kids aged 5 standing in awe in front of an ant hill, and who suddenly started crushing everything that moved. We are all different, have different desires and react differently in front of situations, therefore education cannot explain everything. Lastly, if there were no human nature, and if this nature was not so crooked, then we would have been living in a "better world" for ages! I have tried to do all I could to help out people, and I am always amazed at how dumb they are. Many of them rip you off or try to hurt you when you give them a hand. I can't see how we'll ever be able to make things go better. I still consider myself a libertarian, but I find it harder and harder to put my ideas into practice for fear of being ripped off and abused again. 2. It is the same. Nothing in history has changed. We now have access to electricity and television and McDonalds, but our attitudes are the same. We are still selfish, greedy, self centered, prejudiced, coward, hypocritical, etc etc. This is why there are wars, conflicts, fights, racism, exploitation, backstabbings, rip-offs,... People were already like that 2000 years ago (read the bible!) and probably were too 2,000,000 years ago. I don't want to sound too negative, but if we haven't been able to change anything during all this time, I doubt we ever will... 3. You can't explain everything this way, but it certainly can help. You gotta find ªepureªf people and see how they react when put in various situations, especially with other human beings. As I already said, those ªepureªf people turn out to be as ªeevilªf as we are, that's why human nature probably sucks. 4. I believe we all share the same major features, but everyone is different. The more I learn about people, and the more I believe men and women are different, have different feelings, desires, needs,... (note that I don't see this as a problem). These differences have different origins: education, hormones, but I'm sure our nature is different as well, which is why I don't necessarily think it is a good thing when women try and do everything men do (and vice-versa) in the name of antisexism. There's nothing wrong in being and staying different, as long as it doesn't imply discrimination or abuse.

    Brob 1. My view on human nature changes from day to day, depending on my mood and influenced by what is happening to me. I suppose that is the case with a lot of people. If you have difficulties in life, if youªfre frustrated in any way or isolated, stressed or whatever, youªfre gonna have a view that differs a lot from someone who has things going for him/her. I guess you can see that oneªfs view on human nature is determined socially, economically and perhaps also culturally. To give a simple example: if youªfre born into a ªe4th worldªf- family and have to struggle to get by, you wonªft have such a positive outlook on human nature. Personally, being an offspring of the 60ªfs generation that was told that ªgeverythingªfs possible if you just believe in itªh, most of the time my idealist streaks have the upperhand. Learning about anarchism/anarchist history and witnessing what is possible in certain communities/collectives based on anarchist ideology, I still want to believe in the possibility of a future non-authoritarian, non-exploitative society based on solidarity; and thatªfs what I try to work for. If I wasnªft believing in these ideals, I guess I wouldnªft bother trying to convince people by corresponding or distributing radical literature. This idealism is also strengthened by what I see in some parts of the D.I.Y. HC/punk-scene so I try to keep involved. In these instances, I have a positive/optimist outlook on human nature. Iªfm not a misanthrope and people who are give me an itch. But Iªfm also an exponent of the post-industrial, western, capitalist, me-first society in which we live today; and Iªfm fully aware of and regularly confronted by itªfs individualism, exploitation, oppression, etc. That makes me pessimistic. Getting older and still bumping my head into these walls drains my energy and enthusiasm. Because of my chronic illness (leading to physical restrictions, misunderstandings, bureaucracy and other problems), Iªfve had lots of bad experiences, felt discouragement, etc. Iªfve shown streaks of a hypochondriac and have, in moments of despair, given up on all of humanity but in the end Iªfm still alive and hoping. I havenªft committed suicide (yet?). I try to take up my responsibility. We all have one and misanthropes deny that. I can understand individualism (not to say egocentrism) wins over altruism sometimes (we all need a healthy dose of it to survive) but when it leads to a-social behaviour (i.e. acts that donªft serve your community), youªfre going too far. Some friends have called me a (sometimes naïve) optimist, others say that Iªfm too negative/pessimistic. Maybe the balance that keeps me alive and acting?ªc 2. I do not at all believe that human nature is fixed or permanent. Just read the above. It all depends on the circumstances. And no matter how much we control our environment (the scientist in me says ªea lotªf, the radical activist in me says ªenot a bitªf), our situations will always require adaptation. Weªfre always at least one step behind. Human nature changes all the time ªecause it adapts to changing (environmental, economical, social, cultural, political) circumstances. So it can change alright. The question is ªeCan human nature evolve so that it doesnªft just run behind the facts but actually offers positive chances for everyone?ªf. We have to take up our responsibility and try to overcome/conquer our primitive urges. If we canªft do that, weªfd better give it up altogether now. 3. Observing young children, mentally disabled, pre-modern (ªeprimitiveªf) societies or animals, etc. to try to establish what constitutes human nature can indeed help to discover it. Research like that can give indications about why a certain behaviour occurs under specific circumstances ªecause ªeexceptions confirm the ruleªf (events away from the average can help reveal the ªenormalªf situation) but itªfs not smart to extrapolate anything seen in a ªesub-populationªf ) sorry for the scientific term – I definitely donªft consider the above as sub-human) directly to the whole of humanity. I donªft think it will ever be possible to discover or describe all of human nature in such a way. Sociology, psychology, politics are not ªepositive sciencesªf but ªehuman sciencesªf and ªeErrare Humanum Estªf, no? 4. There is no such thing as ªebasic natureªf. All humans are different since they have a different genome. The different genotype is only but one thing: since all humans grow up in different environments (even identical twins), their fenotype will set them apart even more. Luckily I would sayªc There are trends but these alter with the environment. That doesnªft mean that there arenªft some common properties (again: things that are common for a culture, geographic population, ethnicity, etc.) but I donªft thing thereªfs such a thing as one basic human natureªc A pygmy in the south of Africa has the same primary needs as an eskimo in Alaska but they have different but equivalent means to obtain them. All this doesnªft imply that Iªfm a fatalist, I donªft think that we have no means of steering our destiny but thereªfs limits to that. Of course women and men have different fundamental characteristics. Just look at them: e.g. a penis doesnªft look anything like a vagina does it!? The hormonal differences also lead to other physical, psychological, social properties. But like I said before: a human is not the sum of itªfs separate parts. The physical aspects alone do not determine what/how a human is. The experience we have, the way we grow up, parents, school, friends also influence us and make us what we are. But I certainly do NOT believe in the gender-stereotypes. ªeWomen are caring, communicative, mothers, etc.; men ªgbring home the baconªh, are physically strong, fight wars, etc.ªf: Bullshit! Look around you: there is diversity, there is crossing-over, there are transsexuals, there are men who are wonderful with children, there are smart/strong women capable of organizing things, etc. etc. And thatªfs the way it should be. I donªft want to be abstracted to a war-monger with a penis, would you? I certainly see women as more than just submissive, child-bearing house slaves. I hope you do too. Women and men are not equal but they sure are equivalent.

    I hope Iªfm making some sense for the readers. My virus-infested brain sometimes plays tricks on me. These are also subjects that you can philosophize about for ages. The more I re-read this, the more I want to add but Iªfm getting exhausted. If you wanna discuss any of what I wrote, feel free to write.

    Joseph 1. Up until recently I would have sworn that human nature was evil. As a disillusioned and angry young man, no aspect of humanity was spared from my eternal condemnation of humanity. All in retaliation to the simple fact that the world is a bad place to be right now. I was convinced that mankind was in dire need of an Armageddon or holocaust and that I was the man to inflict it upon humanity. This was all very easy to do when I was stuck at home and could only watch the evil in this world go on. Little did I know that not all of humanity was evil. When I was able to actually contribute to doing something about such injustice (however small – from changing my diet, to demonstrating, educating myself and others or just being aware) I came into contact with people who were dedicating and sacrificing so much in order to combat such evil. These people are not evil, I realised. People out demonstrating alongside myself rekindled my faith in the potential goodness in humanity. What we are fighting against is undeniably evil. We often here of the ubiquiteous ªetheyªf – ªeBig Businessªf, the ªeSystemªf, the ªePowers That Beªf or whatever you want to call it – and whether or not humanity is evil, it is nothing compared to the concentrated evil behind the shiny buildings. How can the vivisectors and men in suits be human when compared to the humans fighting and demonstrating against them? I can understand why ªetheyªf are seen as demons. Again, whether or not ªetheyªf are evil because they are essentially human beings(although I sincerely doubt it sometimes) but are so as they have more money and power than those with only a protest banner has led me to abandon my nihilistic conceptions of humanity because I have met such compassionate people and have realised that there is a far greater evil. Perhaps ªetheyªf are defining what is human nature for us, to a detrimental effect, to justify their actions. Because of this, I feel too humble and thus unable to say if human nature is good or bad. I can only attempt to explore what human nature means to most and discuss how it is manipulated and defined to us.

    Problems initially arise over the actual definition of ªehuman natureªf and what it means to be human, as well as the word ªenatureªf. Even the idea of ªenatureªf and what is ªenaturalªf is constantly being defined and argued (ever spoken to a ªeHardlinerªf?). In this context, human nature entails connotations of a genetically inherited carnal or feral reaction among human beings and what drives human beings both physically and emotionally. Often human nature is used as an ultimate excuse for apathy amongst people. For example, when some people are confronted by the hard truth of human and animal abuse, rather than react by saying ªgI canªft sit idly by and let these atrocities happen! Something must be done! I myself will do something about it!ªh (A reaction I strongly advise to take when you next read your paper or animal rights literature) people will simply shrug and sigh ªeOh well, I guess itªfs just human nature.ªf Human nature is thus seen as a negative uncontrollable and dictacting force and that it is useless to try and change it. How often have you heard the consumption of meat been justified as being part of human nature? It is seemingly viewed as an unshakeable hangover from primeval man. It certainly is scary when the populous is led to think that their apathy is derived from DNA because their chest beating ancestors had clubbed another to death. This leads on to the second questionªc 2. We are almost led to believe that human nature is permanent, as it is seemingly inherent. Human nature and ªeinstinctªf are often compared or confused as one and the same. Instincts that are said to be derived from our feral nature usually mean our instant synaptic responses to situations, such as the ªefight or flightªf instinct we experience when confronted by danger. These are relatively easy to pinpoint as they are often biological responses. But human nature is something far more mysterious and seems to lurk deep within the psyche. Therefore we can assume that instincts are perhaps fixed but what makes us ªehumanªf is that our human nature is capable of evolving. It is naïve and anthropocentric to think that human society has evolved beyond beast. If atrocities against life are shrugged off as ªehuman natureªf, then is compassion towards innocent life not human? Adoration of babies and animals (sadly, the cuter the better) is often also seen as part of our human nature. Or is there a maternal or even paternal instinct to care for the young and helpless? Such conflicting reactions seem to highlight the fact that what we are told to be a part of our human nature is often dictated to us to be in tune with society. Capital cheerfully persuades us to become soppy and protective over your new born baby or your pet kitten, under the guise of instinct, but dismiss the infanticide of the impoverished world and horrors of laboratory cats as human nature. ªeResistance is futile because you canªft change what you are.ªf 3. The debate over human nature has raged for centuries. The early thinkers of the so-called Enlightenment perhaps presented the early arguments over what constitutes human nature. Tomes were written (and still are) discussing human nature and natural manªfs condition. (However, I shall attempt to condense it into a few sentences.) Thomas Hobbes claimed that the life of natural man was ªgsolitary, brutish, nasty, and shortªh. He believed that man was naturally bad and that the natural state of man was a war of all against all - the ªeLaw of the Jungleªf, as it were. He professed that because natural man and his environment was so undesirable, mankind should surrender his rights to an all powerful leader in exchange for protection from ªenatureªf. Human nature was then seen as being violent and aggressive, with life under a dictatorship far more desirable, so as to protect man from other men. Jean-Jacques Rousseau, on the other hand, called natural man the ªenoble savageªf and found modern man repugnant, calling for man to abandon civilisation in exchange for nature. (Perhaps Rousseau was an early Hardliner?) All this was based on the discovery of people living in harmony and peace on the Pacific Islands. Hobbes wrote his text during the English Civil War, so therefore saw violence within man as a primeval force and perhaps part of human nature. These ideas of human nature form the backdrop of contemporary arguments, which seem to follow a similar vein. Primitive is seen as unpleasant compared to the comforts of ªecivilisationªf to some whereas the excesses of civilisation force others to retreat back to the symbiosis of nature. 4. Once again, whether or not society dictates that men and women have different characterisitics within their human nature is arguable. Gender conflicts arise when men think that women want to have children because itªfs a ªefemale maternal instinct.ªf Although it is called an instinct, some may claim that its part of the female ªehuman natureªf. To what extent this may be biological or the product of a patriarchial social mindset is open for debate. Male ªemachonessªf or ªemisogynyªf is also seen to be a product of an equally derogatory male human nature. Men are supposed to go out hunting for a mate, pounce on her and she is supposed to mother a litter, as that is the dictated human nature. An antiquated justification and impetus for males working nine hours a day as bread winner with the wife at home. The gender based ªedifferencesªf in human nature are therefore seen as socially engineered whereas human instincts are perhaps the same for both male and female.

    Human nature seems difficult to focus upon because, believe it or not, human nature is capable of goodness. Although history and, moreover, everyday worldwide events highlight mankind at his worst, it seems that even in times when extreme evil seems overwhelming, some glimpse of humananityªfs goodness shines through, however tiny. I refuse to denounce human nature as being only capable of evil. Granted, those with true goodness in their ªehuman natureªf are far and few between. If you are one of these people, be sure to write to me.

    Tom 1. If I was brought up to be a strict Christian, which I was not, then I would be expected to believe that each individual animal species was created by God, and that since the days of Adam and Eve there has been no form of genetic evolution. I do not believe this, I think the idea that we evolved from other primates, like most of the human population of the ªedeveloped worldªf, is millions of times more likely and probably correct. Yet understandably we hang onto the concept that we are the grandchildren of god, rather than the grandchildren of monkeys. We see our heightened intelligence and means of communication as the final product of nature, where anything created with the force of a human hand, rather than the force of an earthquake or gust of wind, is ªeartificialªf. I donªft believe it is possible for us to conceive ourselves as humans without taking into account the reset of the world that surrounds us, there is no human nature, only nature. Emotion, communication, social systems, the use of tools, are things we pride ourselves on as humans, even though none of these are exclusive to human beings. I evolutionªfs continuing battle to better itself the human race was created, now we are seeing robotic factories and computer databases which could soon make both the human body and mind redundant, leaving us behind in history only as a close relative of Neanderthal man.

    All of these science fiction scenarios are probably a bit far fetched, and probably make me sound like a nazi who is into eugenics, Iªfm not, I just want to get the point acrossªcAs a human being I have communicated with other beings in many ways, talking, crying, screaming, winking, smiling, whistling, punching, slapping, kicking, fucking, kissing, touching, love making, pissing, spitting, silence, making eye contact, not making eye contact, writing, drawing, painting, farting, licking, sucking, blah blah blah, though at present I am yet to have used electronic mail. This has not always been with just humans, in my house there are two dogs and a cat, as well as three humans. If I catch Spot eating one of my guitar leads, he puts on a puppy dog face, and avoids eye contact as he heads for another part of the house, half the time it works and I donªft shout at him. At other times he and his brother decide they really like me and will jump onto my bed and lick my face. I have this level of closeness to ªebeastsªf yet with the majority of humans I pass every day the most common gesture is just a passing glance, if anything. Our lives are constantly under the influence of chemical and physical reactions within and outside of our bodies, which like everything else in the universe is time and energy manifesting itself in one way or another.

    I think you should build your views on the foundations of what you have personally experienced, not someone elseªfs ideology of whatªfs good for humanity. I have made eye contact with cows destined to be eaten by humans and found it upsetting and no longer eat meat. Through being with people of different race/sex/sexuality I have found no logical reason to concisely oppress or insult that person. I have witnessed people, including myself, deny themselves their own dignity for the sake of money, drugs, and other people they believe they are in love with. Rather than deciding what is good or bad for humanity and acting on that, I would rather minimise suffering through my own lifestyle and actions, and hope that others make similar decisions. 2. In the last question I answered that I didnªft believe in human nature as such which makes it kinda hard for me to answer this one directly so Iªfll just splurt out more nonsense:

    For however many years we have existed as humans, we have continually tried to adapt to and influence our environment to meet our needs and improve our lot, not unlike most other living organisms, from microscopic viruses to monkeys. Throughout the world there are many types of human beings with different physical appearances and social customs, caused by different societies having come up with their own solutions to the problems of existence, only to create more problems in the process as it all goes round in circles. I do not think that the immense social and physical structures that can be found all around us today are the sole product of humanity, of any fixed human nature, I think they are complex energetic explosions that we choose to simplify and label in one way or another so as we can bring order to chaos and make our lives easier.

    I think that as a race our social systems and customs are constantly changing as we evolve which consequently has a knock-on effect on our physical environment. However, how much control do we have over the evolutionary path that we will tread? Is it possible for us to rid ourselves of capitalism? or charismatic ªesociopathsªf who take on the role of politician/businessman, violent ªepsychopathsªf the soldier/hardman, as those with less ªeself-esteemªf quietly go about the job of administering their governments/movements and producing their food and weaponry as others waste away in the ªethird worldªf? where people lead others will follow (itªfs human nature ha ha), even a non-violent non-hierarchical anarchist revolution would have to be started by someone ªeleading the wayªf. Whether people are born to be shepherds or to choose to follow seems to be totally down to coincidence. You can attempt to make a change, whether people will followªcthank you Le Roy. 3. I think drawing photofits of imaginary faces would be just as constructive as observing any living being to establish what constitutes human nature. Anything that exists at this exact point in time, including the human race, has infinite possible futures (for instance humans could develop a third arm on their back, toenails on their eyelids, thanks to Monsanto perhapsªc), some of which will totally make redundant any preconceptions we had of ourselves. It is possible that through certain observation that we find out things that will aid us in our lives in some way or another, such as the effects of our childhood on our adult psyche. Some humans (myself, and possibly some animals for all we know, included) seem to have a preoccupation (a word a psychiatrist used when describing my state of mind!) with the way the world is, ªethe meaning of lifeªf blahdey blah. Stop this madness (am I arenªft I?) teeth grinders of the world unite! Stop this philosophy crap, we have nothing to lose but are chains! 4. When we turn from children to ªeadultsªf, I think it is necessary for us to take on certain personas, as a primary form of communication with people. If I talk to someone who lives in my area, I will not let them see as much of me, and try my hardest to be a regular but quiet south London geezer (which is pretty hard!), the more excepting of me people seem the more they get, till you get to my close friends and family who have witnessed me dancing while singing about spaceships and the like. In every way I act I have inherited verbal and body language, and taken on a role almost like in a play. Race, gender, sexuality and intelligence all play a part in the roles that are on offer for us to take up, which are the product of continual social interaction over thousands of years including that of our primate ancestors.

    If you look at men and women you can see that they are physically different, men have dicks, women have breasts; all of different shapes and sizes. Height and build of men and women in ratio to each other varies from area to area, but men on the whole are bigger, men originally being the expendable hunters/warriors and women not ªecatching upªf because of male oppression. I once read that if a child is bullied at school they will have stunted growth, perhaps this is true of young girls being told they are not as physically strong as boys. Everybody has different amounts of hormones/brain activity in the body regardless of sex and its probably all a load of crap anywayªcMy point is that there are no two beings that are exactly alike, like there are no set rules man, just the sound of the universal drum kit pow ka ka pow sss ss ka sss boom, you digªc

    Teo [editorªfs note: Teo chose to approach the final question by considering the question, ªeWhere is the beginning of the female and male differences in fundamental characteristics?ªf I have to say that I tend to disagree with developmental psychologists who write about gender socialisation as if they know what is going through the minds of babies. I also disagree with all the conclusions in this section. I certainly never felt mutilated or disadvantaged! Anyway, why is it that girls are the ones who are supposed to feel different? Maybe little boys have a complex about not having girlsªf bits. The way I see it, tracing any form of gender inequality primarily to biology is almost always some sort of justification for inequality. But many thanks to Teo for giving us these issues to think about.]

    From the biological standpoint, female and male new-borns don't show differences, which should be pointed out. Michelet claims: ªeOne of the curses which burden the fate of woman is that she is from her childhood in the hands of women.ªf It seems that the fate of little girl is determined by her parents who don't know how to raise her because they don't care about her gender. They are trying gradually to form her main characteristics, which tend to end in passivity. The boy lead to his resolute affirmation of his personality, which enjoys full freedom in the world which surrounds him. Many psychoanalysts have the opinion that "child's trauma resulted when the mother pushed him/her away from the breast.

    Meanwhile, they're trying to discipline the boy based on the knowledge that he is ªea manªf and for that the man child is not allowed to be sweet: he must not be liked, he must not show that he is interested in compliments, he must not cry easily, in few words he must ªelearn how to be a manªf. On the other hand parents treat girls much more loosely: her grimaces fascinate the adults. Because of that from the earliest ages the little girl is more woman than a boy is a man. Woman child, much more easily than man child, gets to avoid conflict with her parents because of her disobedience, because of healthy balance and precisely calculated cunning which is dictated by her instinct - which psychoanalysts consider of the reason of castration complex (feeling of smaller value).

    A little girl can accidentally notice that she is anatomically ªebuiltªf differently than a boy: she notices that she hasn't got penis or testicles. That seems unfair to her and her gender's poor creates questions which she can't answer, and she suffers and feels some sort of jealousy because of that, in her opinion, undeserved mutilation, which again, leads to castration complex. Deutsch has the opinion that ªesimple fact that a little girl has found some anatomic differences between herself and the boys can not be considered as the only reason of castration complexªf. For showing of that complex it is necessary that little girl becomes aware of it, and that will happen only after she feels that she is victim of many unfair things which she has lived by direct guilt of some boy, and after she is clearly shown the difference between the both genders. Only after she finds out that she hasn't got any male genital characteristics, she can connect the partial, which affects her with that claim. That's the only way for a girl to conclude that differences in treating her and boys when older are connected with the fact that she hasn't got the penis or testicles, and she envies what the boy possesses: that's how she becomes that jealous that she can't finds peace any moreªf. A psycho-erotic difference between woman and man originates in the early childhood too. The boy, proud to have a penis, overvalues his knowledge of his gender, while little girl's castration complex was enough to pour in some sort of pulling in herself, and that leads her to consider herself an ªeobjectªf which must be liked. The girl so grows inside of her borders of ªemutilationªf which was obtrusive to her by nature, and soon all of her activities stop being spontaneous, because in herself she carries the feeling that she is not perfect and that she is not capable of being independent. All this later leads to sexism, hatred and intolerance between people; human nature, though ªebornªf innocent, under influences of society becomes twisted.

    Jon 1. I'm an ideological schizo on this have been since I was 15! Most of the time I believe its worth having faith in humans and then I think fuck em all! "They've fucked this world up and they don't deserve nothing than a nihilist terrorist bomb blast." But I know that that ain't the answer, itªfs just a defeatist get out clause thatªfs a little more interesting than joining the zombies with a can in front of the telly! So I live in hope that those few hope do inspire me and the flickers of life from the rest may one day bring about a worthy change. Is that the right answer? 2. The answers are no and then yes! 3. If they've done it, then it must be! 4. There are common links between all humans, but there are also a myriad of differences, some subtle some blatant. Thatªfs what makes life in a big mixed community (sic) like London interesting. "You get all types round here", like podgy vegan spanish record collectors with dodgy haircuts! And then rake like americans who don't have any vices except sending bizarre questionnaires via email! Oh well takes all sorts dun't it? Men and women? Transsexuals, cross-dressers, tops and bottoms, dykes and queers I'm not sure if your definitions are valid for an answer to be complete. Letªfs say, yes, on the whole women are less stupid than men but not by much.


    When I was an undergraduate I took a course in Political Theory one term and inevitably the concept of human nature came up. In the seminar one week we decided to just have a quick poll to see what we all thought about it. The social breakdown of the seminar was about 10 students, 8 women and 2 men, 9 British and 1 American, 6 black and 4 white, 5 mature students and 5 under 21 years old. The average student then was a black British female mature student. The seminar leader was a ½ Italian ½ English white man. I was raised in a [American] culture in which everyone obsessively pretended that progress was good, that ªeprogressªf was indeed progressing, that most people are generally happy and good and those who arenªft are just bad people who choose to live that way. I guess I thought this was a fairly common world view, so I was surprised that the idea that human nature is basically evil won out in this hands-up poll we took in my seminar. I was the only one who abstained and the tutor, one of my favourite and best lecturers ever, asked me to explain my view.

    Second Nature ªeGoodªf and ªeevilªf really seem pretty simplistic and socially constructed to me in themselves and the idea that humans are born with particular moral propensities just doesnªft hold up for me. I certainly canªft accept that all humans had an essential nature thousands of years ago and that this has to a large extent remained unchanged over all this time. Recently I have been reading ªeThe Ecology of Freedomªf by the anarchist social ecologist Murray Bookchin. He reckons that early humans did not see any distinction between themselves and their environment; they had purely biological functions like other animals and lived holistically with other living and non-living things in nature. Then at some point, writes Bookchin, this ªefirst natureªf phase was succeeded by the ªesecond natureªf phase in which humans saw themselves as separate from nature, and often above nature. I think phases like that have been a continuous experience for the human race. We are going through another one now consisting of things like global consciousness and awareness of the interrelatedness of all things, including humans, at a global scale. I would not attach value or moral judgements on any of these phases; they are not results or symptoms of people choosing to do good or evil but the effects of the natural evolution of social beings which is what humans are.

    Iªfd like to teach the world to singªc If I had to put labels on human nature, I would agree with Aristotle that we are ªepolitical animalsªf because we have always been and will always be interested in the public lives of other individuals and our societies as a whole. This interest comes from our basic social nature. Humans cannot survive in isolation, and we certainly cannot be fulfilled in isolation. The cliché is true that when we work together, we are far greater than the sum of our parts, and the greatest potentials of humanity can only be realised by many working together, and to bring in my own value judgement, particularly when we are working cooperatively. So I believe that humans are basically cooperative.

    ANOK4U One has to have a fairly positive view of humanity if one is an anarchist. I have faith in humanityªfs potentials to strive to eradicate coercion, power and all those other nasty things. I also believe that humanity has the capacity to destroy itself; after all there is no denying that we have come pretty close in the last couple of decades. Perhaps in this century we have seen the human race reach the extremes of ªeevilnessªf, inhumanity, anti-social tendencies, etc. But it would be ridiculous to trace this result backwards to an early stage in human development or to biology or to any other one fundamental factor. If only two people begin their journeys from the same point, there is every chance they will arrive at completely different destinations, and whatever formed the basis of human consciousness or behaviour several millennia ago would have to be pretty unrecognisable by now. The one abiding factor is that humanity has survived, and that has not been through a basic propensity for us all to harm each other or to only look after number one. We are not concerned only about ourselves, but about our relatives, neighbours, friends, pets, and even strangers and strange animals being tortured in laboratories. Sympathy and concern are deep and widespread human traits.

    Why did the human cross the road? Even our supposed will to survival is often overwhelmed by even greater compulsions. We know that for at least as long as written records can account for that people have chosen or been driven to take their own lives. And each of us must know at least one case of someone risking their own lives by spontaneously moving to rescue another person who is in danger. The way the philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer saw it, in these instances the rescued and the rescuer are united and in a metaphysical sense the death of one becomes the death of the other. Again, interrelatedness is the key.

    Why do pictures of starving children sell records? Developments in standards of living and communication technologies have shown us the potential of human concern. As our basic needs are met and we have a good measure of security, we look ever further outwards to see whose needs are not being met. Being aware of suffering, even if we see it broadcast via satellite from the other side of the world, touches our humanity. Cooperation, charity, helping people out, etc. tend to seem like wholly selfless acts, but actually they are both wholly selfless and wholly selfish. Because we are basically social and cooperative, naturally it pleases us to help/please others. When looked at this way, the line between the selfish and selfless becomes invisible or even non-existent.

    This is not to deny that a lot of human behaviour can be said to be wholly selfish, disregarding of the common humanity of other people, hateful, antipathetic etc. It is however possible to see this behaviour as the exception rather than the rule. In various societies at various times in history the idea that humans are intrinsically evil guides social norms. This idea has been handed down by monarchs, the church, philosophers etc. and usually it has been used to justify power and hierarchy. But we shouldnªft let our potential be held back through fear of what some people are capable of any more than we should wait to see if things improve by themselves. We should fight what we see as wrong and work towards our positive potentials just as humans have ever since we first gained consciousness.

    ªÉªÅ An Irish friend of mine once tried to convince me that the British were responsible for all the evil in the world. He had some good arguments, but I pointed out that British imperialism etc. should more rightly be traced back to the Normans or the Romans. Furthermore, I said, it was pretty unfair to blame the Brits as a whole when really was just British men who had oppressed his people. One can say pretty easily and with a lot of conviction that all the evil in the world has been caused by men. It is interesting how when I say that, even though Iªfm being rhetorical and joking that the men I say it to always change the subject or at least avoid answering my point at all. I think men should face up to the negative legacies and present aspects of masculinity, but they should keep in mind that masculinity and femininity are both social constructs. Being a man or a woman does not say everything or even anything about who a person is and what their motivations or behaviour will be. The meanings of male and female change from culture to culture and even year to year. Anthropologists (and biologists) have found every possible variation of gender roles in existence in societies (and animal societies) all over the world, and this is proof enough that gender is not fixed and innate. The most we can say is that most societies differentiate between the sexes. Saying this, we should keep in mind that each society also creates different roles for people of different ages and abilities, for people who are considered members or outsiders etc. Whatever we say about males and females, we have to keep in mind that we are not talking about fixed, concrete realities but only the created roles that serve a particular social order. And because of this, we can change these roles to serve a different social order.

    Survey - It's a small world after all

    I sent this survey to punks in Eastern European and Southern hemisphere countries to see what differences there are in the experience of being punk and to find out about cultural imperialism in these societies. Many thanks to the folks who sent their awesome replies.

    The respondents are:
    Janis Reinsons, Pils 7-15, Smiltene, LV-4729, Latvia
    Sidarta, Rua Manoel Torres 100, Bingem, Petrópolis -RJ- Brazil sidarta@compuland.com.br
    Idris, 44,Jalan SS 21/24, Damansara Utama, 47400, Petaling Jaya, Selangor, Malaysia
    Goran Ivanoviè Vrhovci, c. XXI/25, 1125 Ljubijana, Slovenia apatridi@hotmail.com.
    Maria Florencia, Marcos Sastre 6025, CP (1408) Capital Federal, Buenos Aires, Argentina xmflorenciax@hotmail.com

    The questions were:

    1. In what ways are you active in hardcore? +Janis
    First of all, I'm playing in a band called CITA ATTIEKSME. Recently, I have started a HC tape label and distro here, because for kids from here to get DIY HC bandsªf records and tapes is a real problem. Most of our kids know only bands like AGNOSTIC FRONT, SICK OF IT ALL, MADBALL, because these bandsªf CDs are available at our large stores. And also I'm starting with our friend a HC ªezine. Hopefully it will be in 2 versions: Latvian and English. Sidarta I have a band, I distribute stuff, I write a zine and I am engaged in a network project to shorten bearings inside the South American hardcore scene, to approximate and unite. Idris I'm active in hardcore by communicate and change ideas and opinions with other scenesters, for example: writing letters, doing a discussion and etc. I'm also active in hardcore by spreading hardcore message and ideas through selling zines, newsletters and etc. Goran In many ways. I do fanzine Warhead - are you fit to live? (since 1987) and run a punkhc radio show MiG 31 aka Subway aka Bandiera rossa (since 1988)+ contribute to anarcho radio show called Black hole (since 1997). I give a vocal to punkanarchocore band Apatridi (since 1989), too. I organise gigs for the bands and keep in touch with many persons around the world. I try to be active as much as possible and as long as possible, coz I started to listen to the punk in 1978 and I talked about recent activities. I'm 34 now... Florencia Well, to begin with I do a vegansxe zine called "revelacion punga" which is in Spanish , though I must confess it's a bit stalled at the moment, besides, this year I started, together with some friends a sort of vegan org. under the name of "ACCION VEGANA" whose main purpose is to provide information about veg(etari)anism and animal liberation and to carry out some actions on special dates (Anti McDonalds day for instance) I've also been cooking vegan food for the gigs in order to show those who are not involved in the topic that you can eat delicious vegan stuff such as chocolate cake and veggie minipies without racking one's brain or making a great mess in the kitchen, raising, in this way, money to print flyers and bulletins. We have also receive the support of the US PETA (more leaflets, stickers and posters).Then I'm helping out some girls with a feminist project, but this is just beginning. Another very important way of being active is, to me, attending gigs and talking to people on a basis of mutual exchange and learning.

    2. What is the American cultural imperialism like where you are? +Janis
    American cultural imperialism is a small problem among old and middle age people, but among youth itªfs a really big problem. It looks like our kids donªft know anything besides SPICE GIRLS, Hollywood movies, NBA, Coca-Cola and McDonalds. Businessmen are providing American culture because thatªfs a real thing (for example: American movies) that can make money for them. Sidarta It is present in everyday life, in the role models of the middle class and in the horizons of a large amount of the low classes. It shows in the way people speak, the way people wear, the standards of physical beauty, many traditions that have no significance at all get new and weird meanings... Such as thanksgiving day. Thousands of people, usually donªft know how to get downtown but are very familiar with the streets of Miami. Some wear American Flags, wear American baseball merchandise (and people donªft have a clue about how to play baseball). Some are very drawn into American values, that dictated by American cinema industry, such as the two sided politics mentality, the good/evil standards which are opposite to non-american art which tend to be less directinªL. Inside hardcore it is all the same. People are more into the hollywoodian scene than what goes below. The same old thought that the small is worse. As if being small wasnªft an option. People here know more about what goes on in New York, Los Angeles and Syracuse, and they vale it much more, than what goes on in Buenos Aires, Lima or Santiago. And GREAT things go on there. Idris Around here the American culture that imperialist us is their dressing/fashion style, their branded stuff (LEVI'S, NIKE), and their food. Goran It looks like everywhere in western european countries. TV programmes are full of american movies and films, commercial radio stations are full of american music, american politics and economy is everywhere, too. But, it's so usual things, that people don't think about that so much. Some right wing politicians are against american cultural influences, coz 'Slovenia has longer cultural tradition', some younger leftist are against McDonalds and similar things... Here were anti-usa demos in period of bombing campaign in Iraq, you can listen some voices against nato bombing in Yugoslavia, but that are minority voices... But, we can find some british, italian or german cultural imperialism, too. The average slovenian people become a part of many culture influences and american imperialism has been the most emphasised. Florencia We are in some way or other an American colony. Most of the state buildings have been privatized and we are ruled by many of its laws (socially speaking). Our scene has been influenced sharply by the American culture especially as regards the HC SXE scene which in my opinion leaves us with nothing but a lack of a real identity. People get together in crews (which I respect as a way of making up a group of friends and fight for the same ideals) though at times this can bring about a blurring individualism for some of its "members" and their lack of own thought and opinion. But I guess everybody is learning from that. So do I. The point is that the political and social situation is rather different from that up in the north and it would be fruitful to take the positive things and adapt them to our own reality, leaving aside useless and up-in-the-clouds positions. What's more, we are a Spanish speaking country but there's some English words we use to refer to certain things e.g."flyer","pride", "vegan".

    3. Is your experience of the hardcore scene very Western/Northern-centric and do you feel like being a punk is a culture shock? +Janis
    When I became involved in the punk scene I was under large influence of Latvian punk and alternative bands, but now I'm listening more to Western European and American bands. Sidarta About the culture shock, I donªft know. I guess I didn't understand the question. But about my experience inside hardcore... I am very engaged in the exchange among Latin American countries and I am always searching correspondence from all over the globe. Specially from those parts where people have less notice, to improve then, the exchange and mutual development. Fortunately I don't think my experience is very w/n-centric. Idris Yes, my experience in hardcore scene is very western and Yes i feel being a punk is a cultural shock coz punk/ hardcore culture is different with my culture and punk/hardcore culture is come from west. Goran I'm not so sure that hc scene is very western/northern centric. There are maybe much more opportunities for development of punk hc scene, but punk scenes are strong and very 'own', very interesting in many other urban places of the world. Punk was culture shock in western/northern countries in the same time (1977-1979) as in Croatia or Slovenia... In the early beginning of punk in Croatia (I'm from Croatia, but I'm living in Slovenia), it was kind of culture shock, but early punk movement aimed on it at first shot. To shock the public, to break the ruts&rules! Later the punk movement became way of subculture and counterculture. And I feel as active part of punk counterculture. Florencia I think that being punk is and is not a culture shock. People go on dressing in ragged dirty costumes without(?) caring for their personal appearance, and I find that the shock has to do with the outfits and externals, rather than the real way of living that punk (or any other personal-social position) can bring about. There are very few committed people who really care to make a difference, some of the punks I know are rather the negative-destroyed type and not many of them are involved in political affairs. From the action viewpoint that causes no shock at all, at least in myself and many others. Why? Because it's the same thing over and over again, there's too much negative stuff that outnumbers the good one. For example I've recently been to a gig in which I heard a punk guy say "Oh you know there's been a punk meeting in Cordoba (an important Argentinian city) that lasted three days in all and, you know it was great they've been smoking pot all through it". What I mean is, in my humble opinion the social shock is brought about more shallowly than in relation to positive actions.

    4. Are there some parts of the scene that are more influenced by the US scene than other sections? +Janis
    For sure I can say HC kids here have more US scene influence than punk kids who have very big Russian and European punk scene influence. Sidarta There sure are. Usually modern hardcore gets more influenced by the us than others. Crust and traditional punks and skins get more related to European Japanese or even national stuff. Idris Yes, some part of the scene around here are more influenced by the US scene for example in my hometown a lot of kids still and always listen to US bands and never tried to listen to UK, EUROPEAN and JAPAN bands. Goran Of course. Few parts of the punk scene are influenced by american punk/hc bands at all (Cali punk, NYHC, also washington DC sound, portland sound etc). Usually it's just trendy music, but it's not the biggest problem. Some people started to play melodical punk for example, just because it's popular music now, even they have no any connection with the punk movement. But, punk is openwide music and you can find much more original punk bands worldwide, coz punk pretends to be more innovative music than just trend. Because of that punk movement have living more than 20 years... Florencia As I previously said the basic deficiency in the scene is its lacking in identity, especially as regards HCSXE even the ap lovers are influenced by the chicano hip-hop style.

    5. Is it hard to be a vegetarian/vegan where you are? +Janis
    Being vegetarian here is not much harder than in Western Europe in the last years, because the number of vegetarians here increases a lot although in the HC/punk scene vegetarians are a rather small part. Being vegan? I donªft know. A little bit harder, but we can buy tofu, soya milk, soya cream at every big shop now. Although I have to say I donªft know any vegan here. Does it sound strange? Sidarta Not for me. But I was abroad several times... And so I know there are places that being veg. is harder and other places and realities which is much easier. Idris Yes, it's hard to be vegan around here coz it's hard to find a vegan stuff/food here. Goran In my hometown in Croatia yes (especially to be vegan is expensive, coz you havenªft buy such food in town), but here in Ljubljana it isn't. Lot of people just don't eat meat or they are vegan. But on the scene is sometimes much more trendy to be vegan, than to be seriously in carefully of that way of living. Florencia t's quite hard to be either vegetarian or vegan here. Firstly because of the social prejudice it brings about, including that of one's own family, and secondly as there's very little variety of vegetarian/vegan stuff, its price is pretty high and most people are not able to afford it. There's little variety of biscuits, most of which are rather expensive, tofu is also another delicacy, sausages and veggie meat is virtually non-existent. In addition people's ignorance and lack of info make them follow an unhealthy monotonous diet.

    6. If I were to come and visit you in your town, what punk and non-punk stuff would you show me/do with me? +Janis
    About punk stuff: Iªfd take you to a HC/punk show and Iªfd hope you wouldnªft be disappointed about it and about non-punk: Iªfd take you to a lake in the park or maybe we could go to see any Latvian or Russian movie. I really don't know. Sidarta I'd probably take you to my rehearsals, to my friends rehearsals, to concerts... To meet the feminist part of hardcore from here, as I know youªLd like it, invite you to play football as we do to all foreigners here, take you to the beach, show you the best vegan restaurant ever, in Rio downtown, invite you to travel through some important cities in terms of hardcore here, introduce you my friends and stuff. Idris If you were visit me in my hometown, punk/hardcore stuff that i will show to you is gig venue, zines, tapes, bands and a couple of punk/hardcore friends. Non punk/hardcore stuff that i will show to you is my house, place that I always hang with my friends, history place, town and other beautiful places. Goran He, he it's my favourite question in interview I do... At first, you have to feel comfortable in our apartment (I'm living with girlfriend and her dog). Than, it depends of your interests. usually we take our guests for a walk downtown (Ljubljana is very nice town, especially in spring/summer with 300 thousands of inhabitants and lot of green areas) and get for some tea/coffee/beer... If we have enough time, we can visit nice nature around Ljubljana... Punk stuff, hm... Usually every week is some punk gig in Ljubljana, coz here are 3-4 smaller gigs room. Here is ex-squat Metelkova City (ex-military barracks) and there's some places as gay/lesbian house, anarchist info-book-point, gig rooms, alternative theatre, skate-drom... It's not so much things, but usually we have lot of fun, coz if you come to visit us, probably we have to talk about many different things and try to spend a nice time together. Florencia There's a punk fair in front of the National Congress held every Friday afternoon mainly for anarchopunks, and a sXe one on Saturdays from 4 to 7/8 pm where you can get or exchange material, as well as having discussions and chats about topics like veganism or music. There is also a place for exchanging, buying or just gathering which takes place in a park called Rivadavia every Sunday morning which is always crowded , especially in springtime; and where you can get books, comics, videos, cds and the like. There are also some feminist meetings in some public libraries or centres every other week.

    Ten Years Punk

    When I was fourteen I first heard Jello Biafraâs spoken word piece ÎLove, American Death Squad Style' It first interested me I think because of the sheer passion and conviction in his voice. I had seen politicians on television, been present for a speech given by a US presidential candidate, and listened to lots of polemic from my grandfather, but I had never heard politics expressed quite like this before. It was not about something detachable from the individual and out there somewhere, but about something that anyone with any sense of justice had to be emotionally engaged by. It took several listens before I got the gist of what he was saying and that he was criticising the same sort of government, right-wing, militaristic, and unaccountable authoritarianism that I had always hated. And I had spent fourteen years thinking I was alone in this outlook. About this same time I heard the Sex Pistols and Dead Kennedys on an alternative radio station. All I knew is that they were somewhat controversial bands from the distant past. When I found out that that same Jello Biafra was the singer of Dead Kennedys and that this was punk rock, it all fell together. Again I thought I was the only person in the world with an active interest in punk rock, but before long I found out there was this whole dynamic, politically charged world out there complete with music I could actually engage with (I had stopped listening to chart music a couple of years before). By my fifteenth birthday, I was ready to take my life, lifestyle, politics and everything basically in a new direction.

    The one vital contribution to my punk life in the beginning was Maximum RockNRoll. It took awhile before I found other punk kids in my town, and by that time the zines reviewed by MRR had become central to my experience in and lifeline to the scene. I ordered Soy Not Oi when it first came out and soon after went veggie after years of thinking I could never do such a thing. I remember reading Slug & Lettuce when it was a sorta crap 2-sided newsletter. After getting my address in Punk Pals zine, I suddenly had all sorts of penpals from all over and for the rest of my school career I spent all my classes answering letters (never got caught). Keeping in contact with all these people gave me the sense for the first time of being somehow more ÎactiveªEin the scene than the other punks in my town who didnât do anything but complain and try to find beer and drugs. Beer and drugs didnât seem very punk, rebellious, cool or desirable to me. Eventually someone told me that there were loads of punks who believed in the same sort of abstinence I do.

    The columns in MRR really challenged me. Here were all these ideas I had never come across before including uncompromising ideals regarding the scene itself. Reading these completely other-worldly opinions from people like Mykel Board, Lawrence Livermore, Mike Bullshit etc. developed my critical faculties far more in a single month than I ever got in my years of schooling. The writing style tended to be very self-righteous and American pedantic, but then that sort of thing can be quite appealing for a teenage rebel.

    Punk is so varied! There wasnât much variation in my hometown (or in MRR in the old days), but itâs all out there somewhere; garagepunk, skatepunk, riot grrrl, ªE7, old school, youth crew, emo, grind, powerviolence, new school, crust, skapunk, melodic punk (more on a postcard please)...and Wat Tyler. A lot of kids seem to move from one to the other (and then eventually out of the scene!), but I like to hold onto the good stuff forever.

    I was punk for six years before I thought I could try to make my own zine, seven years before I thought I could run a distro, nine years before I thought I could organise my own gigs, and I still think I could not be in a band. Punk has been great for me. I never would have stuck with it if it was nothing but loud music or pissing off my parents. To be something worth putting so much energy towards punk had to be always new, always challenging, always fun, always at odds, always unique, always full of diversity and always foremost about people.

    I take punk for granted now. Itâs like vegetarianism/veganism; it just becomes second nature. But I realised recently that this sort of anniversary thing was coming up and that I had been punk for a decade. So here is the necessary sloppy tribute to the scene that has probably been the biggest influence in my life. And here's to ten more years.