Thursday, December 29, 2005

I highly recommend getting to know this site and the people that are running it if you are not already acquainted with them, The Institute of Anarchist Studies:

You'll need to register on the link above.

They run an annual Renewing Anarchist Tradition Conference (RAT). Tapes of some of last year's lectures can be found on this link:

Info about the next RAT, which will be held at Goddard College in Plainfield, VT in late Sept-Oct 1, 2006 can be found on:

There are also free articles that you can download on the site.

As with all things, take what you need and leave the rest.

Doreen Ellen Bell-Dotan, Tzfat, Israel

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

"So I'm a damaged, incomplete human being. In other news, the sky is blue", is a heartbreaking statement that someone exquisitely articulated on a message board recently.

I responded:

That you do not, or worse, cannot, differentiate between being damaged and being imcomplete and that you take the two as both being as natural as the fact that the sky is blue is probably one of the most trenchant critiques of society that I have read.

This is precisely what the greatest Souls are engaged in life-long battles to change.

It's perfectly normal, natural, necessary and even desirable to be incomplete. It is criminal that we are all damaged as a matter of course. It is a horrific state of affairs that so many, like you, are blase about it.

Discussing this toward the end of changing the situation is a whole lot more important than the discussions of trifling matters that people who are currently living what are now considered alternative lifestyles are discussing.

Color this post dark blue.

Doreen Ellen Bell-Dotan, Tzfat, Israel

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Some Thoughts On Revision of the Death Penalty in Light of the Case of Stanley (Tookie) Williams

I consider the execution of Stanley (Tookie) Williams, despite the extenuating circumstances in his case, to be a horrendous breach of justice and the sending of a terrible message to the youngsters who he spent years of his life trying to save.

Perhaps, we might find some redress for this outrage by formulating a new program of rehabilitation for those sentenced to death based on his life's work.

I propose that a mandatory long sentence on death row should be required, I would say some twenty-five years, of a person sentenced to death. There would be no "sweetening" of this phase. The entire term would have to be served. During that period the prisoner would be required to become a model prisoner and undertake some kind of service that the community benefits from. Not everyone has the capability that Tookie had to initiate new programs and write books, but each would be required, to his or her own ability to undertake some sort of public service.

Near the end of that period the public would be presented with the relevant information about the case that a parole board might, to wit, the community service that the prisoner is rendering, the prisoner's progress, his or her credits and liabilities in character, behavior in prison, participation in rehabilitation and therapy, relations with other prisoners, expressions of remorse, etc.

The public would vote in a referendum whether or not to commute the execution to life imprisonment. Again, there would be no possibility for parole or release from maximum security prison. The required punishment for murders horrible enough to require the death penalty cannot be less than a life sentence of incarceration.

Alternatively, because the US is probably not prepared for so populist a social mechanism, the information about the prisoner could be presented to a parole board. This, however, has the disadvantage of the parole boards coming to decisions that are not in keeping with the will of the majority.

I realize that a referendum like this is more unwieldy than allowing a parole board to make the decision, but if we are going to have a more democratic system, the public must be more directly involved in the decision making process.

The prisoner would be required to continue serving the community in any way, shape or form that he or she can. Any marked recidivism on his or her part after the death sentence was commuted to life in prison would automatically revert the decision back to a death sentence.

Feedback is respectfully requested.

Doreen Ellen Bell-Dotan, Tzfat, Israel

Monday, December 12, 2005

Recommendation: The Books Published by AK PRESS

I came across AK PRESS' web site "serendipitously" one night when I was searching for publications about, and hopefully by, Gustav Landauer. The contributions of Landauer, one of the greatest minds and hearts of the Anarchist Movement, were intentionally eclipsed for reasons that would constitute a digression to go into at length here. For our present purposes, suffice it to say that most of Landauer's writings are not extant or are unavailable and it is a rare privilege indeed to find those that are. I found a pamphlet containing Landauer's thoughts on Anarchism in his native Germany, in his own words, published by AK PRESS. Excited, I ordered it at once.

The pamphlet arrived today together with AK PRESS' 2005 Distribution Catalog and the New Titles for the Summer/Fall of 2005, which includes works on CDs.

I haven't spent this much time reading a catalog since my mother bought a facsimile of the first Sears & Roebuck Catalog. Neither have I wished I could buy as many items.

What can I say? I'm a stickler for excellence and authenticity when it comes to Socialism and Anarchism, being the scion of a family that were active in founding the American Socialist Party and HaShomer HaTza'ir (the furthest Left of the kibbutzim in Israel), strengthening unions, creating more humane conditions for workers and having a granduncle die fighting in the Spanish Civil War, which traveled from the US to voluntarily take part in. I know real Socialism and Anarchism from the wannabe, insincere, pseudo-hip lip service that passes itself off as Socialism and Anarchy nowadays. I have little tolerance for the latter, neither am I amused by the antics employed by various soi-disant "Anarchist" groups.

It is a delight to say that I am able to recommend the publications of AK PRESS wholeheartedly. (That is not to say that I agree with the content of every publication. Anarchism and Socialism are not monolithic. Yes, dissent is permitted!)

The publications produced by AK PRESS are the genuine article. They publish works by and about Michael Bakunin, Emma Goldman, Ben Reitman, Lucy Parsons and many other mothers and fathers of Socialism and Anarchism, as well as those of their authentic spiritual/moral and intellectual heirs.

The care taken by AK PRESS to produce a catalog that is well-written and not riddled with the orthographic and grammatical errors that are so ubiquitous nowadays that they are tacitly accepted, or worse, thought to be correct English, did not escape the notice and appreciation of this reviewer.

The number of publications they provide on the number of subjects they embrace as being part and parcel of Socialism and Anarchism is nothing less than astounding for a small cooperative that is celebrating its fifteen year in business. (Note: they call themselves a .org and not a .com). You will even find a very respectable selection of vegan recipe books.

Their publications are in the form of books, videos, DVDs and CDs. They ship by various methods to the US, Canada and the rest of the world.

With the arrival of your first purchase you will receive a chit good for a 20% discount on your next purchase.

Their lapse into silly consumerism, consisting of inane slogans and drawings of icons of the Socialist-Anarchist Movement on T-Shirts and the like, which is merchandise obviously geared for those who cannot plumb the depth of Socialist-Anarchist principles but intuit that it is somehow "kewl" to look as if they are for them, is offset by their very altruistic and sensitive policy of providing books to prisoners at a reduction of 30% from the list price, thus incurring a loss on the books. They also recommend not watching TV. That sage advice, if followed, would help to phase out the market for the T-shirts and other "gear" in the next generation immensely, thus providing proof that Socialism and Anarchism dissolves the state as new behaviors are assumed.

Whether you agree with Socialism and Anarchy, have not formed an opinion or are opposed to whatever extent, AK PRESS is the address for one-stop, on-line shopping for the best literature on the topic available.

Doreen Ellen Bell-Dotan, Tzfat, Israel
December 12, 2005