pages 152 to 158
20 years after, Grant Shilling ponders the legacy of the « Squamish Five » and the future of punk activism in a post-9/11 world.
Well, come on, man you better jump right in
This is one game that everybody’s in
Don’t care where you’ve been, don’t care how you look
It’s hell fire, man, you’re in, you gotta cook
We don’t care what you say – fuck you!
– » Fuck You » by Gerry « Useless » Hannah, Subhumans
It’s November 2001 and Joey « Shithead » Keithley of DOA, the legendary Vancouver punk group, is firing up a Cumberland, British Columbia crowd with a chorus of cathartic FUCK YOUs. The put-downs are for the province’s Liberal government and their bone-headed decision to remove the « Ginger Goodwin Way » signs that dot the new Vancouver Island Autobahn. The signs were designated in 1996 by the NDP provincial government in memory of the labour martyr, who was shot in the back by the RCMP in 1918 in the woods just outside of Cumberland. Keithley, who has written a song about Goodwin, was invited by local labour leaders to take part in the Cumberland rally. Ginger Goodwin was a worker’s friend who fought for a 40-hour work week. Many consider Goodwin the Che Guevara of the region. Others consider him a coward for taking a pacifist’s stand during World War I.
» Fuck You » is an old Subhuman’s song, which DOA initially covered in 1983 as part of a benefit single to provide support for Subhuman singer Gerry Hannah and the other members of the Squamish Five. « Fuck You » is the verbal equivalent of a bomb. It is a total rejection of structure, power or polite society. « Fuck You » is non-negotiable, nihilistic and knowing. It is the essence of punk and once uttered it often finds its agents. Hannah was one of those agents.
Lire la suite
Many feminist theorists and activists categorically condemn « violence »– be it offensive or defensive, physical or verbal–on the grounds that « violence » (an extremely ambiguous term in itself) has it’s roots in patriarchal culture and the patriarchal mindset, and is somehow the « invention » of men– as if violence doesn’t appear everywhere in the natural world in myriad forms, usually contributing in significant ways to the balance of local ecosystems. While certain feminist thinkers put forth an analysis of violence and hierarchical power relationships that is well worth considering, a wholesale condemnation of revolutionary violence aimed at the destruction of that which oppresses us is a gross oversimplification of an extremely complex situation: that is, the web of patriarchal tyranny that all of us, wimmin and men alike, find ourselves born into, where violence is used by our oppressors to enforce our political and social submission, and where we are all desperately looking for effective ways to reclaim our lives. Analyzing the role of armed resistance movements (and wimmins participation in them) in the larger liberation struggle against patriarchy and civilization from an entirely « essentialist » perspective — as Robin Morgan does in her often cited work The Demon Lover — is a misleading and deceptive form of Herstorical revisionism, as it completely discounts the lives of wimmin like Harriet Tubman, who led armed guerrilla raids into the southern united states (basically a slave-owning armed camp) to rescue fellow New Afrikans from captivity, as well as numerous other wimmin like Assata Shakur, Marilyn Buck, and Bernadhine Dhorn, who enthusiastically embraced armed struggle as a tactic and had no regrets about it. This article will not attempt to defend armed struggle (because in our opinion it requires no justification) but will instead focus on two very specific groups (of many) that engaged in violent rebellion against the institutions of patriarchy.
Peter Steven: Direct Action is a book about radical politics that might seem uncomfortably close to advocating violence. Given the events of September 11 in the U.S. what are your thoughts and feelings about what happened in New York and Washington?
Ann Hansen: My first reaction was deep sorrow for those who died and compassion for those who must endure the pain of living without those people. Sadly, those who died were the innocent victims of both the suicide-bombers and the U.S. legacy in the Middle East. Sadly, because those who died were no more responsible for U.S. foreign policy than the Afghan people are of the Taliban’s policies.
PS: During your days in the early 1980s as a member of « The Squamish Five » or « Direct Action » you committed robberies, firebombed stores, and toppled hydro towers, in British Columbia, and bombed the Litton plant in Toronto. Most people who pick up your book will want to know if you still believe in political violence. How do you respond?
AH: I am certainly not opposed to peaceful protest. Yet, I also believe that to make real social change people and movements must be prepared to go beyond. In some cases that means so-called political violence. We didn’t see ourselves as terrorists. I prefer the term sabotage because that implies a strategic action, with references to economic issues, and not simply a violent reaction or lashing out in frustration. I don’t agree with terrorism as a political tactic because it is morally wrong to punish the innocent for the crimes of their leaders. And it’s not politically effective because fear does not enlighten people, but instead will often drive them to support even more reactionary actions by their leaders.
Our goals were to expose Litton’s role in arms production and to stop the environmental destruction within B.C.
An Explosive Interview with a KKKanadian Urban Guerilla
By Comrade Black
This is the second half of a two-part interview with Juliet Belmas, an activist with Direct Action and the Wimmin’s Fire Brigade, two groups who used explosives or incendiary devices in the early 1980s to further anti-colonial, ecological and feminist struggles. Juliet was arrested in January 1983, at the age of 19, along with the other four members of the Vancouver 5. She was sentenced to 20 years in prison. Today, Juliet makes independent films and does work around issues faced by womyn in prison.
An Explosive Interview with a KKKanadian Urban Guerilla
By Comrade Black
Juliet Belmas was arrested in January 1983, at the age of 19, and was sentenced to 20 years in prison for her involvement in the militant Guerrilla groups Direct Action (DA), and The Wimmin’s Fire Brigade. DA claimed responsibility for the bombings of the Cherokee Dunsmire Hydro substation on Vancouver Island, and the bombing of Litton Systems, an Ontario company that was building guidance systems for the nuclear cruise missile; other smaller actions included paint bombing of AMEX offices, and they had plans to sink an icebreaker being used to push forth plans for offshore drilling, as well as bombing the military base at Cold Lake.
The Wimmins Fire Brigade fire bombed three stores of the pornography chain Red Hot Video (RVH), after a failing long term campaign by mainstream feminist groups to stop the chain from selling films of womyn and children being violently and repeatedly beaten and raped.
Juliet now has a degree from art school and makes independent films, and does work around the issues faced by womyn in prison. I was lucky enough to meet Juliet and hear many of her exciting stories recently—she had so much to say that needed to be heard by others. I took this opportunity to ask her about the connections between anarchism, feminism, punk rock and militancy.
Video with Allan Antliff and Ann Hansen by B-Channel News
Originally published at B-Channel News
The online archive was launched on September 7 and was established out of collaboration between Dr. Allan Antliff, Canada Research Chair in Modern Art, and the University of Victoria, MacPherson Library Special Collections and Archives. The inaugural event featured guest speaker Ann Hansen, a freelance writer from Ontario who wrote about her experiences with the Squamish Five in a book titled: Direct Action: Memoirs of an Urban Guerrilla.
“A really successful movements is going to be one where you have a really strong, vibrant alternative value system, alternative culture and where we are coming at the corporations and the state from all kinds of angles, legal actions, little legal actions and if necessary the bigger ones too,” said Hansen during her talk at the inauguration.