Posts Tagged ‘Fellow Workers’

Rad Geek Speaks: Motorhome Diaries interviews me on agorism and counter-economics

It’s been a couple days since I was hepped to the fact that this video has gone online; but I’ve been delayed by travel and other considerations. Anyway, here is a video of Jason Talley’s interview with me in Las Vegas back in April, focusing on anarchism, agorism, and counter-economics. Judging from the closing title card, it looks like the MD3 have decided to break out the material from the interview on anarchism into a separate video, presumably forthcoming. But, in the meantime, this video has the segments of the interview where our discussion focuses on building the counter-economy as an alternative to electoral politics. Enjoy!

The one thing which I regret not having the time to discuss during the interview — which I would have done my best to break down, were I not already taxing Jason’s very generous allowance of time in what are typically very concise interview segments — is how my sympathies for mutualism and wildcat unionism influence my understanding of the agora, and of the sort of counter-economy that we should work to build: why, in short, I think that libertarians should be especially interested in building, so to speak, Black-and-Red markets. (Red as in workers-of-the-world-unite. Not, of course, as in Konkin’s notion of red market mafiosi.) Of course, Konkin’s original-flavor agorism is already very much in favor of the informal sector, and opposed to the state-collaborationist, state-supported corporate economy; but I think that agorists would do well to look at the kinds of counter-institutions that have historically been associated with the anti-statist and anti-authoritarian Left: fighting unions, direct action on the shopfloor, grassroots mutual aid networks, worker and consumer co-ops, neighborhood permaculture projects, community free clinics, participatory indymedia, CopWatch as a means of community self-defense, LETS trading networks, small-scale gift economies based on gleaning and homesteading (Food Not Bombs, Homes Not Jails, free stores, etc.). And so on, and so forth. To the degree that State privilege and State subsidy have artificially roided-up the rentier-centric, cash-lubricated, centralized, formalized bidniz economy, we can expect the counter-economy (which is the embryonic new society, being built within the shell of the old) to form up in opposite tendencies: egalitarian and decentalized exchange (which Konkin rightly predicted and emphasized), and also significantly more emphasis on informal connections, often based not on contracts or cash-on-the-barrelhead exchanges but rather on practicing solidarity, mutual aid, gleaning, homesteading, and other cashless forms of value-creation and social exchange (which I think Konkin underemphasized and overlooked in various ways). (I hardly expect cash, let alone simple quid-pro-quo exchange, to disappear; I’m certainly not interested in any dogmatic campaign to rub them out. But I do expect the counter-economy, and future fully-freed markets, to emphasize them much less intensely, and much less monomaniacally, than the current state-approved official economy does.) All of which underlines why I think it’s important for radical libertarians to see ourselves as part of the Left; and for that understanding to cash out in serious efforts to work together on countereconomic projects with the folks who ought to be our primary allies — that is, other anarchists — rather than working on the familiar set of conventional-delusional electoral projects together with conservatives and conventionally pro-capitalist minimal-statists, which all too many good radical libertarians have, due to a combination of cultural comfort zones, and statocentric models of political change, wasted their time and resources on in the past.

Anyway, like I said, there may be another interview segment forthcoming focusing on anarchism; if so, I’ll let you know when it drops.

May Day 2009

Fellow workers:

I am back home, footsore, throatsore, exhausted and happy. The marcha was awesome. I hope there will be some pictures and some video soon. Unfortunately it leaves me absolutely no time at all to prepare one of my usual May Day orations. In its place, I offer you this, from my 2006 May Day post, which I made at the beginning of the current explosion of the immigration freedom movement. I hope that it offers some idea of what this day for LIBERTAD and SOLIDARIDAD SIN FRONTERAS is all about.

May Day is and ought to be a Day of Resistance, of defiance against the arrogance and exploitation of the bosses — whether corporate or political. A day to celebrate workers’ struggles for dignity, and for freedom, through organizing in their own self-interest, through agitating and exhorting for solidarity, and through free acts of worker-led direct action to achieve their goals. So what a real joy it is to see May Day 2006 honored through general strikes across the country, demanding freedom and respect for immigrant workers…

Of course, there’s no actual extortion involved in refusing to work for a day; workers are not your servants, not even immigrant workers, and declining to freely give their work for a day is not forcing you to give up anything that was yours to begin with. But you’re damned right that this is about confrontation, and you’re damned right that it’s about defying the law.

You express a great deal of anxiety over our willingness to break laws. This is certainly a legitimate concern. … One may well ask: How can you advocate breaking some laws and obeying others? The answer is found in the fact that there are two types of laws: There are just and there are unjust laws. I would be the first to advocate obeying just laws. One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws. I would agree with Saint Augustine that An unjust law is no law at all.

Martin Luther King Jr. (1963-04-16): Letter from Birmingham Jail

And it is an unjust law: neither you nor the government has any right to commandeer the lives and livelihoods of innocent workers to satisfy your Law-and-Order hang-ups, or your theo-national power trip. …

What we are witnessing today, and have been witnessing for the past few weeks, is nothing less than an explosively growing freedom movement. A freedom movement bringing millions into the streets, bringing together labor militancy and internationalism. And it is being done in defiance of the violence of La Migra, the bullying bigotry of the nativist creeps, and the condescending hand-wringing of the sympathetic politicos. It is exactly what May Day was made for. And exactly what the kind of creeps behind the Loyalty Days of the world — whether state-communist or state-capitalist — fear the most: ordinary people standing together, celebrating together, free, happy, irreverant, and unafraid.

There will be a time when our silence will be more powerful than the voices you strangle today!

—Last words of August Spies (1887-11-11), immigrant, anarchist, and Haymarket martyr

Happy May Day, y’all.

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In twenty words or fewer: Comparative Politics edition

From a short article in the most recent issue of reason (Citings, p. 13) taking notice of recent changes in the Cuban government’s policies towards private taxicabs:

But in January, the Cuban government took a surprising step, announcing that it would loosen up the rules, even going so far as to let taxis set their own rates in the city. Rates are still capped, and the number of licenses will be determined by local officials, but it’s a pretty big step for Cuba, where nearly all aspects of commercial life are state-controlled.[1]

Taxi drivers and passengers in communist Cuba now enjoy freer markets for transit than their counterparts in hypercapitalist Las Vegas.

1 Katherine Mangu-Ward, Connecticut vs. Cuba, reason (2009.05), p. 13; originally appeared in Hit and Run (2009-01-13). Emphasis added.

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The State of the Debate

Las Vegas is having a city government election soon, and one of the noxious byproducts of the process are the debates among the ranting power-trippers who are scrapping for the jobs, which completely took over a perfectly good local news-talk program pretty much every singe day last week. The discussions are boring, and depressing, and mostly pointless, but they occasionally offer a bit of insight into the kind of a policy debate that electoral politics allows. For example, here’s an excerpt from Tuesday’s show, in which we hear from Jennifer Taylor (the challenger for the seat in Ward 6) and Steve Ross (the sleazebag currently in charge). Here they work out the range of politically acceptable debate over development in the desert around Las Vegas (which is to say, government hand-outs to politically-connected multimillionaire developers, and government land-grabs in which they arbitrarily dictate to landowners what sorts of things we do or do not need to put on their land).

Taylor leads off by proposing that she knows better than you do what sort of neighborhood you might like to live in, and that the city government ought to deal with this by forcing the developer to do what she wants rather than what they think their homebuyers will want.

JENNIFER TAYLOR: Let’s start specifically with some of the issues that I think Steve needs to address.

And of them is the absolute failure to work aggressively to truly diversify this economy. Two years ago, a group of us were down in front of Steve at City Council arguing about the Kyle Canyon development agreement, which would have allowed the construction of 16,000 homes on the eve of the foreclosure crisis. we said we really don’t need that kind of glut on the supply of homes because we were already seeing that there were problems. It would have also centered on a neighborhood casino, and I think it’s been pretty clear that when you lean solely on one industry that you end up in the type of quagmire that we are in now. We are suffering so much more than so many other cities who have taken proactive roles to diversify their economy….

DAVE BERNS: Back this up even more. When you talk about Kyle Canyon, and I hear you talking about homes out there and development… The 1,700 acre Kyle Canyon project would have put homes, shopping, offices, a casino, at the southwest corner of US95 and Kyle Canyon Rd, pretty much at the base of Mt Charleston. The developer, Focus Property Group, paid $510,000,000 for the land. In October of last year, Wachovia Bank foreclosed on the property after Focus Property defaulted on the loan. One of the criticisms that we heard of this project was that it was inappropiate. It didn’t belong at the base of Mt. Charleston.

JENNIFER TAYLOR: No it didn’t. It was just a basic, cookie-cutter repeat of projects that we had seen throughout the Valley, and really worse than that Dave, was that the contract was so poorly vetted and provided so little benefit to the citizens of Ward 6 compared to what Clark County and the city of Henderson had forced folks to do in Inspirada and Mountain’s Edge.

DAVE BERNS: Such as what?

JENNIFER TAYLOR: Such as open space. We had significantly less percentage of open space in that project; the density was significantly higher than those other projects; there was not as much public and service funding in the Kyle Canyon development agreement as there was for Inspirada and for Mountain’s Edge. And again, it centered on this whole concept of anchoring it around a neighborhood casino.

Of course, the real problem is not that the city government in Las Vegas has somehow failed to force developers to do the right things; the problem is the fact that the city government of Las Vegas controls who does and who does not get access to unused land in the first place. There was no right way for such a planned community development contract to be written, because there is no way to fake freed-market results through government monopoly on sales or politically-allocated ownership. So the solution is certainly not more aggressive government thuggery, but rather giving up entirely on the idea of half-billion-dollar politically-determined land sales for state-capitalistically planned communities.

Of course, Steve Ross is often referred to as a defender of private property rights and a friend of developers. No doubt he will point out the destructive thuggery of Taylor’s position, right? Well, here he goes: check out this principled defense of private property. (Emphasis is mine.)

DAVE BERNS: Let’s start off… let’s back up a step and then we’ll come to the campaign contributions. First of all, your position position on Kyle Canyon. Spell it out.

STEVE ROSS: You know, it’s a great thing that we live in America, where if someone wants to do something with property, they’re allowed to apply to do whatever they want with their property.

knpr’s State of Nevada (2009-03-31)

Wait.

I’m not sure I heard that right.

You mean, they’re allowed to do whatever they want with their property, right?

STEVE ROSS: When somebody owns a piece of property they have the right to apply and do what they want with it. My role as a city councilman in the northwest is to ensure that development in that project is right for this city. Somebody owns the land at Kyle Canyon road and US95, they’re allowed to apply to do something with it. They want to build something, they’re allowed to do that. And that’s how our laws are.

knpr’s State of Nevada (2009-03-31)

Oh.

Right.

So that’s your freedom, fellow citizen — and such an important freedom that Steve Ross had to make sure he repeated it three times within a few minutes: that, when you want to put something up on your own damn land, you have the precious right to apply to the government to do something with it.

This may be the purest expression I have ever heard of the only kind of debate that’s allowed in city politics, here in Vegas and in countless other cities across the country, when it comes to private property and land use: the Smart Growth tools who figure that you can somehow force government-privileged monopolists to do the right thing, and, on the other hand, the Growth Machine tools who will stand up resolutely and defend, come hell or high water, your freedom to apply for permission to do whatever you want on your own land.

In case you were wondering, here’s an example of why Steve Ross, by the grace of Law Warden of 6 and Vaquero Supreme of the Vegas Valley, might decide that your plans to do something peacefully on your own property just isn’t right for this city of his: it might interfere with neighboring property owners’ wishes to make sure that land that doesn’t belong to them gets subdivided into equestrian estates instead of affordable family homes.

DAVE BERNS: Can you think of a residential development where somebody owns some property — Focus Group, Olympic Group, whatever it may be — that you would vote No on. As you say, if they own the land, they have the right to do with it as they may, as long as they follow our laws. Can you think of any project, Steve Ross, that you would reject, as a member of the city council?

STEVE ROSS: Oh, absolutely.

DAVE BERNS: A residential project?

STEVE ROSS: Yeah, let me give you a heads up here.

DAVE BERNS: Give us an example of why you would.

STEVE ROSS: Well, let me give you an example of actually something that did get approved, but not according to how the homebuilder want to build them.

DAVE BERNS: Please.

STEVE ROSS: There was a project out in the northwest, on the north end of Jones Blvd. The developer wanted to build a highly dense community in basic ranch land. I mean, there are 2 to 10 acre ranches out there in the northwest, and it didn’t fit. This neighborhood was going to be next to a proposed 300 acre equestrian facility that’s still proposed for the northwest, one day when we have the funds to do it. The developer, again, I had the developer go meet with those neighbors out there long before it came to city council. Interest enough—projects are vetted out in the neighborhoods long before they get to the council level. And projects don’t make it to the council level if the neighborhoods don’t like them. And that’s just the nature of how it works. This one particular neighborhood, they wanted half-acre equestrian estates on this property. And the developer bent over and said, OK, I will do that. I will build half-acre equestrian estates, because it’s in a rural neighborhood; we want to maintain the rural nature of this area, and that’s what they did. And not because of me, but because of the neighborhood.

knpr’s State of Nevada (2009-03-31)

When I tell people that I don’t see the use of lobbying or electoral politics as a means to social change, the first response that I get is typically some kind of complaint that I’m out of touch with the real world; that if I want to make a practical change, I have to jump in and try to intervene in the power-games of the existing political aparat. This kind of complaint is the worst sort of nonsense — the kind of dogmatic practicality that you constantly get from people who are unwilling to actually think about what gets the goods, rather than what the tiny minority of professional politicians and media professionals have decided to dignify as proper political etiquette. In the real world, the debate is perpetually, structurally locked into a very limited range of positions, oriented around two poles that are themselves fixed by the platforms of the two established political parties, and if you want to try proposing anything outside of that range of politically-acceptable debate — like, say, a genuine notion of personal freedom, or a principled opposition to government planning and privateering corporate development scams — you will quickly find that such arguments find no purchase, and no interest within any of the political parties. The message won’t fit through the channels that electoral politics makes available. If you want to advance the ideas, you are going to have to do so through other means, that aren’t filtered by the conventional idiocies, or constrained by the structural barriers, of electoral politics, because as long as you’re subject to those filters and that structure, you’re not going to get much out other than a debate like this, between the virtue of force and the importance of your God-given right to apply to the government to do whatever you want on your own property, as long as the neighbors don’t want equestrian estates, instead.

Good night, and good luck.

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The Metro Police Beat

  • A couple of months ago, just before New Years’, [a Las Vegas Metro SWAT team rolled out to Emmanuel Dozier and Belinda Saavedra’s house in Seven Hills, at 9:30 at night (about four or fve hours after dark, around here, during the winter) in order to serve a search warrant. The cops blasted open the gate with a shotgun. They claim they announced themselves but nobody other than the police says that they heard anything other than a lot of noise. Saavedra has a three month old baby and a 13 year old daughter who were in the front of the house when this hard-to-see gang of armed strangers opened fire late at night and started forcing their way in. Saavedra called 911 as soon as she heard the gunfire; the recording of the call is now available online. Dozier got a handgun that he keeps for self-defense and fired back at the gang of strangers, apparently wounding three cops. After a stand-off, once the 911 dispatcher convinced Dozier that the men outside were in fact cops, he dropped the phone, went outside, and surrendered himself with his hands up. Here’s how he looked when he got to the police station:

    This is his mug shot from the police; he has a huge bruise and a lot of swelling around his right eye.

    Then they searched the house. They found no cocaine anywhere. Dozier is being charged with attempted murder and possession of marijuana — even though an inventory of items seized doesn’t include the marijuana or paraphenalia the police claimed to have found with their search warrant. Apparently the search warrant was to gather evidence to bust Dozier on charges of being a low-level cocaine dealer. The cops claim an undercover had already made a few purchases from Dozier; allegedly they had a business relationship with him, but they couldn’t be bothered to meet up with him one more time in order to be able to make an arrest that didn’t involve storming his house late at night while children were present. They told the media that Dozier had no above-the-table job; actually, he had a regular job at the time as a sheet-metal worker. They have not made any claims that Belinda Saavedra committed any crimes whatsoever at any point, either related to the drugs or related to the shooting; but the did make sure to force her down and rough her up after she had surrendered (since she wouldn’t calm down or shut her mouth while they shot at her house, hollered at her, took away her baby and called her a dumbass for her trouble).

    Meanwhile, the D.A. has taken steps to take away her children and charged her with abuse and neglect — even though, remember, she is not accused of any independent crimes whatsoever. The explanation is that she is being charged with abuse and neglect because she doesn’t have a job outside the house. There’s no sign that being a stay-at-home mother (while her boyfriend holds down a job as a sheet metal worker and her mother works two jobs in order to help support her grandchildren) has caused either kid any hurt or want. But the prosecutor does inform us, in the complaint, that the 13 year old was traumatized when cops started a gunfight at her house. I wouldn’t be surprised, but whose fault is that?

    The cops refuse to answer any questions about the reasons for staging a late-night SWAT raid in this case or about the discrepancies between their public statements about the suspects and the documented facts that emerged later. Dana Gentry reports that Police refuse to answer but a Metro spokesman did tell me extreme measures are necessary to guard against some liberal judge throwing out the case. Metro are liars and child abusers who routinely use maximal force in situations where they could easily have gotten anything they needed to get by other means. They also spend tremendous amounts of time, and tremendous amounts of money that taxpayers are forced to turn over to them against our will, prosecuting people who — even if everything alleged against them is true — are doing nothing more than selling a valued product to a willing customer, and who never should have been threatened or hassled by the police in the first place.

  • Las Vegas Metro made a road stop at about 4 in the morning on February 6. They suspected that the driver was drunk. He got out of the car and ran away on foot. Cops sent a helicopter to look for him and concluded (based on heat in the yard) that he was hiding out in a backyard in a nearby neighborhood. He wasn’t — turns out he was hiding in a different part of the neighborhood — but the family’s dog, a pit-bull named Coco, was. This wouldn’t have been a problem, except that the cops decided that catching a DUI suspect was so incredibly urgent, and respecting other people’s private property being, after all, no concern at all to Las Vegas Metro’s important work, they would send a gang of seven cops, first to barge into the next-door neighbor’s yard without asking, and then, again without asking anyone’s permission, to jump the wall into the backyard where they thought the suspect would be. The family dog came out and confronted this gang of strangers barging into her territory; she didn’t actually attack anybody, but, after all, she was only surrounded by seven fully-grown, professionally-trained, and heavily-armed police officers; her continued existence clearly posed a threat, so they shot the dog dead. The cops took responsibility by issuing an Oops, our bad to the bereaved family — along with a self-serving claim that the cops just had to shoot the dog in self-defense. (No, they didn’t. Self-defense is no longer an excuse when you put yourself in danger by invading somebody else’s private property.) Then, public servants that they are, they left Jose Fernandez and Yurisel de la Torre by themselves to cover the $200+ bill for cremating their dead dog.

    Metro are home invaders and dog killers who routinely exercise contempt for private property, instigate violent confrontations in order to deal with trivial crimes, shoot first and ask questions later, and then excuse their use of maximal force as the necessary means to completely unnecessary ends.

  • While we’re here, I should also mention that the Nevada Crime Technology Advisory Board, representing Las Vegas Metro, the FBI, and several other law enforcement outfits from around Nevada, wants a new law passed that will allow police in Nevada to unilaterally seize the balances on prepaid debit cards without any kind of warrant — because, while they don’t have any evidence to present in any particular case, they reckon that somebody, somewhere using one of these things might turn out to be a bad guy selling drugs to willing customers — which is apparently enough of a reason to give these lying, child-abusing, dog-killing, home-invading, itchy-trigger-fingered irresponsible thugs a unilateral right to seize private citizens’ money, by arbitrary fiat, with no need for any kind of prior judicial review.

There’s a cliché around here, about how longtime locals compare the way things are now — for better or worse — with the way things used to be, back when the mob ran Vegas. The problem with this is that the mob never stopped running Vegas. The only thing that’s changed is the name of the families, and the color of the tailored suits.

Leave South Hills Church alone

Here’s my February 10 letter to the editor of the Las Vegas Sun, which apparently will remain unpublished (by them). It’s in response to their recent story on a political tussle between the South Hills Church and some folks living by it in Green Valley, over a series of big-ass crosses that South Hills Church was planning to put up on their own property:

Editor, Las Vegas Sun:

I was saddened to read (Neighbors at odds with church over huge crosses, 2/4/2009) the Clark County government, at the behest of busybody neighbors, has forced South Hills Church to scrap plans to build three large crosses on the their own property.

The bellowing blowhard busybody brigade complains these crosses — built on land the church owns, with money freely given to the church for that purpose — would encroach upon the views from their yards. Sad as that may be, the view from your yard stops being your own private property once you start looking over another’s land.

South Hills Church’s plans to build symbols of their own faith on their own property are their own business; they’re not interfering with anybody else’s property and they’re not forcing anyone to look. Yet they get harassed in the name of politically-enforced aesthetic correctness. Neighbors and county government have no more business butting in to tell them how tall or short to make accessory structures on their own land, than they have call to make the church change the logo on their own sign, or the color they painted their walls, just to better please the neighbors’ aesthetic sensibilities.

Of course, we are informed government zoning laws require shorter crosses. No doubt; that’s exactly why government zoning is a ridiculous and petty tyranny. Such laws should be immediately and completely abolished.

Leave South Hills Church alone. What goes up on their own property is their own business.

Sincerely,
Charles W. Johnson
Southern Nevada Alliance of the Libertarian Left

See also:

ALLies on the Airwaves

(From Portland ALLy Shawn Wilbur 2009-02-18.)

From Occupied Cascadia, Kyle Burris recently interviewed Portland ALLies Shawn Wilbur and William Gillis for KBOO-FM’s program Radiozine:

Market Anarchism: Government regulation and the financial crisis.

What roll [sic] did government regulation play in the current financial crisis? Is more regulation what we really need? What would a truly free market look like? And is there hope for radical reform, beyond the failed Marxist model?

KBOO’s Kyle Burris speaks to local anarchist activist William Gillis, and historian Shawn Wilbur, about the theory know as Market Anarchism, or Left Libertarianism. They discuss the roll [sic] government plays in the current economy, and also take a historical look at government’s affect on unions and health care in the US.

More information on the subject can be found at the website Invisible Molotov.

KBOO.fm (2009-02-17): Market Anarchism: Government regulation and the financial crisis.

Congratulations Shawn and William!

An mp3 of the interview is available for download at the KBOO.fm website.

How local government in Las Vegas and Clark County deals with the worst joblessness crisis in a generation

  1. By trying to force working folks out of their jobs driving ice cream trucks, since it is far more important that a handful of bellyaching neighborhood grouches can avoid hearing Turkey in the Straw for 30 seconds around 8:00pm, than that working folks actually be left alone to make an honest living, using a few fittings to trick out a truck they may already own, by providing a cold treat to willing customers and a little bit of happiness to neighborhood children in the midst of a sweltering summer. (The Las Vegas Sun, apparently with a straight face, describes briefly hearing an ice cream truck pass by is akin to aural torture. If so, it may be the only form of torture that you can avoid by turning up your damned hi-fi for a minute or two.)

  2. By forcing working folks out of jobs driving taxis, by artificially limiting the number of taxicabs that can legally operate in Las Vegas, thus limiting the legal cab market to only 16 companies, cartelized into a controlled oligarchy protected from outside competition — notably from any possibility outside competition by independent cabbies, who might otherwise be able to set themselves up in one of the largest and most lucrative tourist markets in the world, with nothing more than a car they already own. As a result of all this, anyone who does manage to get work as a taxicab driver is forced to work at somewhere around minimum wage for one of the 16 government-approved taxicab companies; while lots of people who could otherwise make a living driving a taxi are forced out of work because, thanks to the arbitrary fiat of the Nevada Taxicab Authority, based on sheer guesswork about how many cabs Las Vegas needs, the only legal way to drive a taxi in Vegas is to rent yourself out to one of these big taxi companies — and the Authority, again based on absolutely nothing other than pure guesswork, tourist-industry gossip, and impressionistic first-hand observations about how many cabs Vegas needs, won’t even let those companies hire on any new cabs this year.

  3. And finally, rather than just getting the hell out of the way and let working folks make an honest living with resources the already own, by shutting them down at every turn, running them out of business for the benefit of neighborhood power games or established insider companies, and then, to crown all, by sticking their hands into working folks’ increasingly empty pockets, and grabbing out a million dollars while they still can, to hand over to the tax-funded Las VegasConvention and Visitors Authority, in order to run a bunch of ads on behalf of big casinos to beg other big businesses to send their executives on more trips out to Vegas, apparently on the theory that those poor ol’ casinos just can’t be expected to pay for their own damned advertising.

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Southern Nevada ALLy Kelly Patterson speaks TOMORROW (Wed. 2/4) at Las Vegas Anarchist Cafe: “We Need The Wobblies Now More Than Ever! A Brief History of the Industrial Workers of the World.”

The Vegas Anarchist Cafe is a meet-up for networking, building community, and doing some outreach for anarchists in Las Vegas, which Southern Nevada ALL has been organizing together with unaffiliated local anarchists for the past several months. The main idea is just to give anarchists, anti-statists, and anarchy-curious fellow travelers a place to meet up and talk in an informal setting at a local coffee-house. There isn’t a fixed business agenda; the idea is to give people a place to find each other. Once they’ve found each other, A-Cafe can serve as a springboard for the independent projects that they may want to start.

After some discussions with regular A-Cafers, we’ve decided to start putting on a series of talks, presentations, skill-shares and open mics — tentatively titled the Free Speech Soapbox Series. Last week I gave the first Soapbox talk — an introductory talk on Anarchistic ideas, called What Is Anarchism?. Turn-out was good, and the discussion was lively. (For those of you wondering about the audio recording — I haven’t yet had the chance to check whether it came out audibly or not. News on that soon.)

This week — specifically, TOMORROW, Wednesday 4 February 2009, fellow Southern Nevada ALLy Kelly Patterson will be giving a talk on labor radicalism, wildcat unionism, and the Industrial Workers of the World, called We Need the Wobblies Now More Than Ever! A Brief History of the Industrial Workers of the World!

This week at the Anarchist Cafe:

We Need the Wobblies Now More Than Ever! A Brief History of the Industrial Workers of the World.Kelly Patterson — Wed., January 28 6:30pm — 7:30pm — Local artist, activist, and fellow worker Kelly Patterson will will give a presentation entitled We Need the Wobblies Now More Than Ever! A Brief History of the Industrial Workers of the World. The I.W.W. is a radical, anti-statist industrial labor union, which organized hundreds of thousands of workers and became one of the most powerful unions in America early in the 20th century — until the United States government targeted it for destruction. In this age of bail-outs, the government and the bosses have proven themselves incapable of delivering the prosperity that they promised; workers need a fighting union now more than ever. Kelly’s talk will look at both the I.W.W.’s storied history, and at signs of hope for a Wobbly resurgence in the early 21st century.

This week’s presentation is the second in the Free Speech Soapbox Series, a series of presentations, speeches, programming, and free speech open mics for the middle 60 minutes of the weekly A-Cafe (6:30–7:30pm). When we have a Soapbox, the first 30 minutes and the final 30 minutes are devoted to the usual informal meet-up format; the 60 minutes in between offer information, entertainment, programming, or a chance for A-Cafers to talk about issues that they care about or projects they are working on. The schedule of Soapboxes is available online. If there is something you’d be interested in talking about at the A-Cafe, contact us to set up for an available time slot.

—from the Vegas Anarchist Cafe website

The Anarchist Cafe meeting will begin at 6:00 PM. Kelly’s talk will begin at 6:30 PM (and should run about an hour or so, including time at the end for Q&A). During the time before and after the talk, A-Cafers are encouraged to check out material from local organizations on our table space, to meet each other, and to chat.

Here are the details on the event:

  • WHAT: Talk by Kelly Patterson of Southern Nevada ALL on the history of the Industrial Workers of the World, and why we need a radical, anti-state industrial union now more than ever
  • WHEN: Wednesday, 4 February 2009, 6:30 PM.
  • WHERE: Weekly Anarchist Cafe @ The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, Running Rebel Plaza (across the street from UNLV). 4550 S. Maryland Parkway; we’ll be in the meeting room off to the left of the entrance.

If you’re in the Vegas area (or even if you’re not), it’d be great to see you there. If you know anyone around abouts who might be interested in a talk about Anarchism or radical labor organizing, then please do forward the announcement on to them.

More to come soon; watch this space.

See also:

The edict of Gary Reese, Mayor Pro Tempore and Vaquero Supreme of the Vegas Valley

As you may recall, Ted Marshall owns a warehouse in downtown Las Vegas. Like many buildings in downtown Las Vegas, Ted Marshall’s warehouse has been repeatedly vandalized by taggers. Like many property-owners in downtown Las Vegas, he covered up the graffiti several times, only to have new taggers come by and paint more on. Then, one day, he found some graffiti on his wall that he kind of liked, and he decided that he wanted to leave that design up on his own building’s wall. So the city of Las Vegas fined him $930 for having graffiti he wanted up on a wall he owns.

Ted Marshall thought this was bull crap: the city government shouldn’t force him to pay to get rid of a design that vandals put up without his permission, and, while we’re at it, the city government shouldn’t force him to pay fines for leaving designs he wants to leave up on his own building. Ted Marshall’s representative on the city council, Mayor Pro Tem Gary Reese, replies:

I don’t want graffiti on any buildings in the city of Las Vegas. He said it was artistic or something, but for me, it’s a crime. For him to stand there and say he’s sick and tired and he’s going to leave it how it is — that’s bull crap.

Please remember that in the view of the Las Vegas city council, what matters is what Mayor Pro Tem Gary Reese does or does not want on buildings in the city of Las Vegas — certainly not what the mere owners of those buildings want or do not want on them.

Mary Price, falsely identified as a spokeswoman for the city of Las Vegas (actually, she speaks for the government, not for the city), adds:

It’s like any other situation where you have property damage, city spokeswoman Mary Ann Price explains. If you had a burned-out building … it creates a hazard. You as the property owner would be responsible for it.

She’s right that this is just like any other situation where you have property damage. As long as a burned-out building, no matter how hazardous, doesn’t actually threaten to damage anybody else’s property, the city government has absolutely no business forcing the property owner to fix that up, either, if she would rather not do so. Why should they?

The Review-Journal’s editorial board informs us that The whole issue is surprisingly simple, once viewed through the lens of property rights. Indeed it is. The issue here is that Mary Ann Price and Gary Reese — by the grace of Law Mayor Pro Tempore, Defender of Order, and Vaquero Supreme of the Vegas Valley — believe that the whole city of Las Vegas is their own rightful property, by concession of the sovereign state and federal governments, which the supposed owners of land and buildings really only lease on Gary Reese’s terms and at his pleasure. They believe that they have the right to tell you what they do or don’t want to see, how they do or don’t want it used, and who you can or cannot invite to use it, in the name of maintaining what they see as good taste, or good business, or protecting the property values in their personal domains. If you’re not interested in helping them maintain a touch of class with the land or the buildings that you were foolish enough to think you owned, then they tell you that your claim is bull crap, that their opinions about the proper disposal of your building matter far more than yours, and they will send professional busybodies and armed thugs to inform you of your responsibilities, then to harass you, shove you around, fine you, and ultimately to jail you or kill you if you should resist their efforts to collect.