PDF e-book of the autobiography of black revolutionary, Assata Shakur. We do not agree with all of her politics but reproduce this text for reference.
Assata Shakur has been living in Cuba since 1986, after escaping from prison where she was serving a life sentence imposed in a highly disputed trial. Assata was a Black Panther then a Black Liberation Army (BLA) leader in the early '70s, so she was a target of the FBI's COINTELPRO operation.
The transcript of a speech given in 1933 by former Major General Smedley Butler. Butler served in the US military for 34 years, and at the time of his death he was the most decorated soldier is US history...... WAR is a racket. It always has been It is possibly the oldest, easily the most profitable, surely the most vicious. It is the only one international in scope. It is the only one in which the profits are reckoned in dollars and the losses in lives. A racket is best described, I believe, as something that is not what it seems to the majority of the people.
Only a small "inside" group knows what it is about. It is conducted for the benefit of the very few, at the expense of the very many. Out of war a few people make huge fortunes.
It is still not thought strange to denounce bosses for pursuing their own selfish advantage, as if to suggest that they would be acceptable, if only they were all incorruptible idealists. It has become obvious that bending the knee to a god and touching the forelock to a boss are mutually reinforcing activities, but it is still not clear to everyone that calling shame on selfishness is another activity of the same kind.
There is a verbal trick, apparently proving that benevolence does not occur. “Why are you giving a fiver to Oxfam?” “I think it might relieve someone’s distress.” “Do you like the thought of relieving someone’s distress?” “Yes.” “Then you are not doing it to relieve someone’s distress, but for your own pleasure in relieving someone’s distress.”
While on the Continent the seventeenth century saw the consolidation of absolute governments, in England the absolutism of the kings was resolutely opposed by a great section of the population, and the power of the monarchy was held in check by Parliament. At a time when Louis XIV was able to proclaim “L’Etat c’est Moi,” Charles I was led to the scaffold.
The doctrine of the divine right of kings, which had allowed the French monarchs to crush all political and religious freedom, had gained little support among English people who believed, on the contrary, that the power of the rulers must respect the inalienable rights of the individual and that certain limitations must be put to the power of the head of the state.
In view of the fact that the ideas embodied in Syndicalism have been practiced by the workers for the last half century, even if without the background of social consciousness; that in this country five men had to pay with their lives because they advocated Syndicalist methods as the most effective, in the struggle of labor against capital; and that, furthermore, Syndicalism has been consciously practiced by the workers of France, Italy and Spain since 1895, it is rather amusing to witness some people in America and England now swooping down upon Syndicalism as a perfectly new and never before heard-of proposition.
It is astonishing how very naïve Americans are, how crude and immature in matters of international importance. For all his boasted practical aptitude, the average American is the very last to learn of the modern means and tactics employed in the great struggles of his day. Always he lags behind in ideas and methods that the European workers have for years past been applying with great success.
It was about 1890, when the anarchist movement was still in its infancy in America. We were just a handful then, young men and women fired by the enthusiams of a sublime ideal, and passionately spreading the new faith among the population of the New York Ghetto. We held our gatherings in an obscure hall in Orchard Street, but we regarded our efforts as highly successful. Every week greater numbers attended our meetings, much interest was manifested in the revolutionary teachings, and vital questions were discussed late into the night, with deep conviction and youthful vision.
To most of us it seemed that capitalism had almost reached the limits of its fiendish possibilities, and that the Social Revolution was not far off. But there were many difficult questions and knotty problems involved in the growing movement, which we ourselves could not solve satisfactorily.
Letter from Emma Goldman and Alex Berkman written to warn workers of the persecution of revolutionaries in Russia by the Bolsheviks, originally published in Freedom in 1922.
We have just received the following letter from our comrades Emma Goldman and Alexander Berkman, who are now stranded in Stockholm. This letter gives us the truth about the terrible persecution of Anarchists in Russia.
Extracts from a paper which was said to have advocated anarchy, and verses of a poem which asked that landlords should do the fighting, were read at the Old Bailey yesterday. Three men and a woman pleaded not guilty to having conspired to seduce from duty persons in the Forces and to cause disaffection. They are: Vernon Richards (29), civil engineer, and Marie Louise Richards (26), secretary, both of Eton Place, Hampstead; John Christopher Hewetson (32), medical practitioner, Willow Road, Hampstead; and Philip Richard Sansom (28), commercial artist, Camden Street, N.W.
They also pleaded not guilty to endeavouring to cause disaffection by disseminating copies of a paper called “War Commentary.” The two Richards were further charged with having a leaflet headed: “Fight? What for?”
The Attorney General (Sir Donald Somervell) said that “War Commentary” was a paper which was headed “For anarchism.”
Philip Sansom — one of the editors of War Commentary / Freedom found guilty of incitement to disaffection — describes the background to the trial and two other offences, for which he was jailed three times in 1945.
Soldiers are not supposed to think and it is a criminal offence to encourage them to do so. The laws on disaffection of the forces prescribe heavy penalties against civilians approaching soldiers and asking them to question their blind obedience to authority.