Zine Review: "Heartcheck" by Jeffrey Luers and Rob Thaxton
"Hearthcheck" zine, by political prisoners Jeffrey "Free" Luers and Rob "los ricos" Thaxton (both currently serving time in Salem, Oregon), is an exceptional booklet of information... Written in concise language, lacking pretense, this zine made me feel I am not alone in my beliefs...Luers' statement, "Maybe you'll wait until you have to kill for water" sums it up nicely.
Zine Review: "Heartcheck" by Jeffrey Luers and Rob Thaxton
"Hearthcheck" zine, by political prisoners Jeffrey "Free" Luers and Rob "los ricos" Thaxton (both currently serving time in Salem, Oregon), is an exceptional booklet of information, inspiration, and tactical insight. What I seriously appreciated in this zine was the lack of weighted down dogmatic anarchist lingo and boring revolutionaly rhetoric. Written in concise language, lacking pretense, this zine made me feel I am not alone, not only in my beliefs regarding the urgency of the situation, but also in the need for desperate measures for desperate times. Luers' statement, "Maybe you'll wait until you have to kill for water" sums it up nicely.
"We chose to title this zine Heartcheck because for many years, various militant elements have been making empty threats and promises. As 2 individuals doing time for actions others only talk about, we are calling them out," say the authors. I agree wholeheartedly with their assessment that symbolic street protests are most often static. Luers says, "Revolutionary movements cannot fall into the trap of "party and protest." Summit hopping will not create change." Luers also rightly states that "social change requires incredible amounts of dedication and discipline. It will not be brought about by anything other than hard work, work we have yet to put in." Now, if a 26 year old serving a 23 year prison sentence can say there is more work to be done, I feel the least I can do is put extra time into the struggle for those stuck in jail.
Throughout the text of Heartcheck, both Luers and Thaxton harp on the immediate need for alternatives to symbolic street demonstrations. Thaxton says, "The focus on traveling to targeted meetings of the New World Order's various institutions led to the emergence of a jet set elite of privileged activists." THANK YOU, ROB, for saying quite eloquently, what I feel! I feel that way about many of these protests (RNC NYC, et al). The poor are excluded from protesting and are told to be content with partying privileged protesters "representing" the poor at protests instead. I have often said the money wasted on "protest hopping" could be better spent on affordable housing and food banks.
I appreciated the class consciousness Thaxton presents in his essays in this zine. I also enjoyed Thaxton's insights and humor, as well as his depth and eloquence. I laughed hard when he pointed out if Christians can convert poor people of the world, converting them to anarchy, self-rule and freedom should not be insurmountable. I love the honest ferocity with which Thaxton writes. "Such a revolutionary change would entail suffering and struggle, and not all of us would survive to see the victory won. Such a victory would also result in a dramatic lowering of material ease and luxury enjoyed by the richest 10% of the global population - which includes almost all consumers in the north. The real reason there is no revolution here? Because the life of comfort and relative ease in the north is more important to almost everyone here than are the lives of dark-skinned foreigners." Thank you, Rob, again, for eloquently stating how I feel in my heart.
Reading this zine, one is encouraged that the system has not bought these two souls out with its oppression and aggression. Even while serving stiff and excessive sentences, these two guys continue to support and nurture activism, which is truly using "absolute refusal as your monkey wrench," as Luers puts it. The fearlessness that these two articluate men are displaying is a serious wake up call to all activists.
Sojourner Truth once said something like, "Women, I am not sure why you are asking for your rights. Why don't you just take them?" Luers and Thaxton echo that sentiment. Luers encourages activists to target specific corporations to increase effectiveness. "Take the anti-wear movement, for example. Cruise missles have to be built somewhere, don't they?" asks Luers. And Thaxton talks about European activists showing more sign of life than American anarchists. "Our Italian companera/os are accused of rioting and robbing banks in order to finance their activities. In Greece, cities are sometimes shut down by anarchiast street actions, which have included seiges of police stations."
"No man will ever join a struggle that does not help feed his children. No woman will fight alongside men who do not challenge patriarchy. No person of color will support a movement that does not challenge racism - institutionalized or otherwise, nor should they. I wouldn't," says Luers. I wouldn't either. These are serious stumbling blocks to effective activism and healthy community. Clasissm, racism, sexism - they all need to be proactively attacked consistently if you want my participation.
An emphasis on direct action predominatws this zine. "Rather tgab utilize the growing momentum of their street actions, U.S. activists allowed a cowardly elite to convince them to reduce their expectations to feel-good sentiments ("not in my name") as opposed to say, stopping the war against the Iraqi people." Again, Thaxton eloquently says what I am feeling. He encourages us to follow Arundhati Roy's advice:"Every activist should pick one or two corporations and do as much as possible to disrupt their operations."
Luers also advises activists get serious about physical fitness and training. He says most Marines can run 3 miles in 21 minutes and reminds us that police and the military go through "extensive training." Luers recommends a weekly exercise routine that includes push ups and upper body weight training which increases combat efficiency and helps move and push barricades, pull ups help get over fences, running for obvvious reasons, and martial arts. Luers also suggests studying police and military strategy. He suggests studying military and police manuals on guerilla warfare and crowd control tactics. He also stresses a need for training in "un-arresting people," whether that be on site snatch squads, or "if necessary, poeple must go to the holding facilities, often buses, and liberate our caputured comtrades." I also likes Luers' suggestion to stash things you need for the protest along the protest route in bushes the day before an event.
After reading this zine, I felt called to action. I have decided after reading this zine to take some self defense classes in the next few months, and to also start doing more resistance training and exercise to increase my strategic options as an activist. I also vow to research guerilla warfare and crowd control techniques and to write articles on those topics to better educate our community for safety reasons, against unaccountable rioting police who use indiscriminate violence on unarmed protesters. I also plan to consume less and create more this next year in a conscious and disciplined manner.
I think what Heartcheck zine did for me was recharge my battery by letting me know that I am not the only one who sees the emperor has no clothes. Thaxton has perfectly stated many of my own sentiments about a jet setter activist elite, validating my own consternation within the activist community. Luers and Thaxton have unapologetically and inspirationjally held radical ground while under state oppression daily. Both men speak in plain English, free of anarchist rhetoric. They both write coherently, and give practical, utilitarian suggestions for things you can do today to become more accountable to the Earth and the people who are exploited for the richest 10% of the world. Both men challenge us to action, both speak from jail for political reasons, proving they are not just full of hot air. I took Thaxton and Luers' Heartcheck seriously and vow to risk less luxury, comfort and security in exchange for more agitation, less compromise, and more direct/less symbolic protest. I highly recommend this zine.
You can order this zine online at www.freefreenow.org, or send $7 for 1 copy, $6 each for 2-5 copies, $5 each for 6-9 copies, and $4 each for 10 or more copiues, to Free's Defense Fund, POB 3, Eugene, Or. 97440. ALL PROCEEDS BENEFIT BOTH PRISONERS.
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