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Posts tagged William Gillis

Unearthed in South Korea

(Via Lew Rockwell 2008-05-19: Cold War Murder and Roderick Long 2008-05-25: Anarchocide in South Korea.)

Charles J. Hanley, The Huffington Post (2008-05-18): Mass Killings In South Korea In 1950 Kept Hidden From History:

SEOUL, South Korea — One journalist’s bid to report mass murder in South Korea in 1950 was blocked by his British publisher. Another correspondent was denounced as a possibly treasonous fabricator when he did report it. In South Korea, down the generations, fear silenced those who knew.

Fifty-eight years ago, at the outbreak of the Korean War, South Korean authorities secretively executed, usually without legal process, tens of thousands of southern leftists and others rightly or wrongly identified as sympathizers. Today a government Truth and Reconciliation Commission is working to dig up the facts, and the remains of victims.

How could such a bloodbath have been hidden from history?

Among the Koreans who witnessed, took part in or lost family members to the mass killings, the events were hardly hidden, but they became a public secret, barely whispered about through four decades of right-wing dictatorship here.

The family couldn’t talk about it, or we’d be stigmatized as leftists, said Kim Chong-hyun, 70, leader of an organization of families seeking redress for their loved ones’ deaths in 1950.

Kim, whose father was shot and buried in a mass grave outside the central city of Daejeon, noted that in 1960-61, a one-year democratic interlude in South Korea, family groups began investigating wartime atrocities. But a military coup closed that window, and the leaders of those organizations were arrested and punished.

Then, from 1961 to 1988, nobody could challenge the regime, to try again to reveal these hidden truths, said Park Myung-lim of Seoul’s Yonsei University, a leading Korean War historian. As a doctoral student in the late 1980s, when South Korea was moving toward democracy, Park was among the few scholars to begin researching the mass killings. He was regularly harassed by the police.

Scattered reports of the killings did emerge in 1950 — and some did not.

British journalist James Cameron wrote about mass prisoner shootings in the South Korean port city of Busan — then spelled Pusan — for London’s Picture Post magazine in the fall of 1950, but publisher Edward Hulton ordered the story removed at the last minute.

Earlier, correspondent Alan Winnington reported on the shooting of thousands of prisoners at Daejeon in the British communist newspaper The Daily Worker, only to have his reporting denounced by the U.S. Embassy in London as an atrocity fabrication. The British Cabinet then briefly considered laying treason charges against Winnington, historian Jon Halliday has written.

Associated Press correspondent O.H.P. King reported on the shooting of 60 political prisoners in Suwon, south of Seoul, and wrote in a later memoir he was shocked that American officers were unconcerned by questions he raised about due process for the detainees.

Some U.S. officers — and U.S. diplomats — were among others who reported on the killings. But their classified reports were kept secret for decades.

— Charles J. Hanley, The Huffington Post (2008-05-18): Mass Killings In South Korea In 1950 Kept Hidden From History

William Gillis, Human Iterations (2008-05-22): Mass Graves:

The commission estimates at least 100,000 people were executed, in a South Korean population of 20 million. That estimate is based on projections from local surveys and is very conservative, said Kim. The true toll may be twice that or more, he told The Associated Press.

In 1945, as the Japanese Empire finally went into retreat, the Korean people were left without an occupational authority for the first time in decades. In that brief moment something amazing happened. The Korean Anarchists, long the champions of the resistance struggle, came out of the woodwork and formed a nationwide federation of village and workers councils to oversee a massive project of land reform. Korea graduated from feudalism overnight. Aside from some struggles with the Socialists and Nationalists, the peninsula was at peace.

When WWII concluded, however, the responsibility of securing peace and order in Korea was assigned to the Americans and Soviets. By all accounts in this instance the US actually had no imperialist intentions. While the Soviets moved quickly to deploy their forces and occupy the North, the Americans took their time showing up, and were largely content to let the South Koreans manage themselves.

The Koreans, culturally steeped with anti-authoritarian values, were fond of America and openly despised the Soviets. While a few socialists fled North hoping that the Soviets would give them a hand against the Anarchists, they were overwhelmed in numbers by a mass migration south. Everyone assumed the Americans would assist or at least respect their autonomy.

This did not last.

The Americans Military commanders who eventually arrived had trouble understanding or dealing with the anarchy they found. They had no protocol for dealing with regional federations and autonomous communes. So they helped the dispossessed aristocracy form a military government. In order to make the map simple. In order to get things under hand.

Most importantly they did not understand that the Korean Anarchists and Anti-Authoritarian activists that saturated the countryside were different than–and in fact vehemently opposed to–the Communists, going so far as to organized and launch insurrectionary attacks on the Soviet Occupation before the Americans arrived.

The Americans couldn’t understand anarchists. But leftists, they knew, meant Soviets. And they had the gall to ignore or resist their puppet military government. So they started killing them.

By the start of the Korean War, the slaughter was in full swing. Having arrested every anarchist organizer or sympathetic peasant they could get their hands on, they started executing them en masse.

The Korean Anarchist movement was, historically, one of the strongest in the world. It survived half a century of brutal occupation and economic exploitation. It survived a three way assault by the Chinese, Japanese and Soviets. It has survived many, many massacres and exterminations. It is even still around today. So strong that in the last few years they’ve been known to evict the police from the streets. But the worst injury it ever suffered was initiated and orchestrated by the United States military. In a single campaign so horrific it borders on genocide.

This was truly, objectively, one of the worst things the US has ever done. And there are some big fucking contenders.

Most north american papers ran front-page stories this Monday about the latest mass graves being uncovered while I was riding the Empire Builder from St. Paul to Portland. I found a copy wedged between Amtrak seat cushions. And there was an ancient photo of piled corpses as far as the eye could see. The papers euphemistically used the term leftists. But I know the history, I did the research.

They were almost all anarchists.

However lovely America may be. Remember, the US government is not our friend. It will never be. It can never be.

— William Gillis, Human Iterations (2008-05-22): Mass Graves

Summit crashing of the Libertarian Left: bringing market anarchy to the Twin Cities RNC Welcoming Committee

A call to action from Soviet Onion on the a3-discuss listserv:

Hello everyone, my name is Soviet Onion. I’m a big proponent of Agorism, left-libertarianism and market anarchism, and a partisan to liberty in general. I’m also a concerned one. Radical libertarianism, as a social movement, still barely exists. Our present state of affairs seems to be one of isolation and atomization, even at the local level. Whatever activism does take place mostly piggybacks on whatever political reformism the Libertarian Party or assorted small government conservatives are involved in (seen by partyarchs as the alternative to doing nothing). We’ve seen this recently with the Ron Paul phenomenon.

You’ll have to excuse this young anarchist, but this all seems terribly inappropriate. For a libertarians, and libertarian anarchists especially, political success is less of matter of directing the state toward certain favored ends and more a matter of blocking it from wreaking more evil. Directly and immediately. The point is not to scribble libertarian amendments into the Constitution but to make un-libertarian laws unenforceable, to make civil society ungovernable. With that in mind, and to kick start some much needed organization, I propose that we converge on the coming Republican National Convention in Minneapolis-St. Paul.

The anarchist Welcoming Commitee has been organizing a series of actions for over two years. Their primary of objective is to halt the convention before it begins by blockading the major streets and bridges around the Xcel Energy Center, sealing it off before the delegates arrive. A detailed account of this strategy, and the reasons for selecting it, can be found here. Those concerned about the residents’ welfare should note that the Feds are shutting down the city anyway, so a blockade won’t cost merchants and residents any business or block any movement that hasn’t already been taken from them by the Republicans. The only people we’d be impeding are the delegates.

Summit hopping has it’s secondary benefits, as the social anarchists have noted over the years.
One of which is that it allows activists from distant locations to meet and devolop a geographic sense of each other. As a currently dispersed and highly atomized tendency, there’s nothing we need more. The Twin Cities will make an ideal focal point for that, do our part beside other members of the RNC Welcoming Commitee in disrupting the political class, to distribute and disseminate agorist ideas at the convergence spaces, and as an opportunity for members of our currently far-flung milieu to meet and communicate face-face. Even if the proposed blockade fails, going there together would be a boon to ourselves.

Eight months ago, this call was placed on the LeftLibertarian2 listserve by William Gillis, exhorting us to join the opposition:

Hey folks, my name’s Will and I’m a big fan of Agorism, the Libertarian Left and Market Anarchism in general. I’m also founding member of the RNC Welcoming Committee (a broad, non-sectarian coalition of anarchists and anti-authoritarians in the Twin Cities working to give the Republican Party a Minnesota-nice welcome to our state).

For over a year now we’ve been working to facilitate a diversity of tactics by Anarchists in responding to and overshadowing the Republican National Convention being held next year in St. Paul. The convention is a big propaganda show and it’s important that anarchist voices are distinctly represented in the opposition. On the one hand whatever we do it’s a sure thing that anarchists from around the country will flock to the Twin Cities with the intent of pulling militant and dramatic direct action. On the other hand we have to live here and it’s not enough simply to disrupt the political class, we have to sustain long-term projects towards autonomy and self reliance in or communities. In part that means counter-economic organizing to create an infrastructure for the anarchist response, but it also means respecting every perspective and not trying to impose one set of solutions. We’re a diverse bunch of primitivists, insurrectionaries, individualists, class-war reds, cyberpunks and generally uncategorizable anti-authoritarians. (You can read our broad points of unity here <http://www.nornc.org/who-we-arepoints-of unity/> and be sure to check out the definition of capitalism.)

A recently formed national network called Unconventional Action has called for a specific strategy of Direct Action to block off the Convention on the fist day and ideally prevent any delegates from arriving. But regardless of whether we succeed in denying the Republicans access to our city (a city whose government has rolled over and coughed up millions of tax dollars and public property for this charade) it’s important that we eclipse the convention. The plan is to have plenty of events simultaneously and beyond direct resistance demonstrate to the world by example how a better world is possible. In doing both we’ll crash their little staged show!

Even if it’s Ron Paul at the podium instead of Giuliani, it’s vital that the political class is not afforded a moment or an iota of legitimacy.

Beyond direct action (whether it be conventionally non-violent & passive or involving the aggressive rejection of oligarchical property’s legitimacy) it’s important to use this opportunity to build our movement, both within and without. The Welcoming Committee has been doing serious work and the 08 RNC is gearing up to be a major event in activist history. That we Anarchists are the ones best prepared and most visible of everyone organizing for the RNC (while the various liberal and socialist groups are still floundering) speaks volumes.

While I can’t presume to personally speak for the Welcoming Committee, a Libertarian Left presence at the counter-convention would be fondly appreciated. Any support you’d like to individually or collectively (A3! ) contribute would be absolutely wonderful. Whether it’s just a statement, participation in the actions (agorist affinity groups?!), a separate project, setting up a symposium during the festivities, propping up a book cart in front of a convergence space, or lending some mutual aid and helping us build the infrastructure needed to feed, shelter (etc) the thousands upon thousands of anarchists descending on our fair cities. (Black Markets can also be Gift Economies… hint, hint)

When I was in Seattle in ’99 there was one loud guy shouting above the din of the crowd that the WTO was impeding Free Trade and globally raising cost-of-entry to the market, and that was it’s crime! That one crazy guy had something of an effect upon me. Imagine how great it would be if there was an entire bloc of them! ;)

This is our Call To Action: http://www.rncwelcomingcommittee.org/2007/09/30/crash-the-convention-2008-call-to-action/

Please take a look at it and consider participating however you feel comfortable. I guarantee you’ll have a friend in the committee.

-William Gillis
http://williamgillis.blogspot.com/

Transport and housing lists will available on the Welcoming Committe website, but won’t be fully fleshed out about until a month beforehand… sorry, that’s the best they can do. The good news is that for anyone under 25 and vaguely student-ish, Macalester SDS can provide literally unlimited space (bring a sleeping bag and maybe a tent, whatever you need to be comfortable). Registration is ongoing at http://minnesotasds.org/.

Those who are interested are invited to head over to this thread on the newly formed LeftLibertarian forums, where we’ll discuss the tactics, group organization and ideal placement within the greater range of activities. Even if you’re unable to come, you’re still welcome to drop by and help us plan.

Give it some thought. If you know anyone else who might be interested, please pass the message along to them. I’ll also be posting this message on some of the more public market anarchist venues.

I look forward to hearing from you all.

Laissez-faire,
Soviet Onion

Update 2008-05-28: Soviet Onion adds some more notes on the action and some important links in comments below.

ALLy outreach in Vegas: help me out here

Dear LazyWeb,

I am interested in establishing an Alliance of the Libertarian Left chapter in Las Vegas.

My idea is largely to meet a small working group which would be partly about meeting and hanging out with like-minded anarchist types in the neighborhood (potlucks, movie nights, blah blah blah), partly about distributing left libertarian agitprop (for example, William Gillis’s excellent Market Anarchy zine series), and partly a source of contacts and a springboard for affinity groups and new local projects. At least, that’s how I see it; of course I’m just one dude, and I’m also interested to hear more about what other people in the area might be interested in getting set up.

If you’re in the area and you’re interested, feel free to get in touch and I’d be glad to talk some shop via e-mail or over coffee. I live near the UNLV campus, so there are lots of convenient meeting places.

My immediate question, though, is a bit off to one side. One of the things that I hope to do to help make contacts is print up some sheets of business cards that can be clipped in to dropped literature, tacked on bulletin boards, slipped into books, etc. The idea would be to have a card that gives a quick overview of what the Vegas ALL is about, which would be attractive to left-libertarian and black flag types, and then to provide a link they can use to get more information and get in touch with the group. What I’m picturing is a two-sided card, with a logo, Vegas Alliance of the Libertarian Left (or whatever less-boring name we might adopt), and contact information on one side, with a short tagline or paragraph on the other side of the card. My question to you, gentle reader, is what that tagline or paragraph should be.

The ALL website offers the following self-description:

The Alliance of the Libertarian Left is a multi-tendency coalition of mutualists, agorists, voluntaryists, geolibertarians, left-Rothbardians, green libertarians, dialectical anarchists, radical minarchists, and others on the libertarian left, united by an opposition to statism and militarism, to cultural intolerance (including sexism, racism, and homophobia), and to the prevailing corporatist capitalism falsely called a free market; as well as by an emphasis on education, direct action, and building alternative institutions, rather than on electoral politics, as our chief strategy for achieving liberation.

Which is true enough, as far as it goes, but ridiculously long to put on a business card and not much of a hook for getting an interested new contact involved.

After thinking about it for a while, I shortened and spiced it up a bit into something that I’d be glad to use on the local working group’s website, or on a printed flyer, but which is still too long for the back of a business card. (I can, at least, physically fit this on one side, but only with a hard-to-read font and at the cost of making that side of the card look very busy.)

We are individualists, agorists, market anarchists, mutualists, voluntary socialists, and others on the libertarian left. We oppose statism, militarism, sexism, racism, and the prevailing state capitalism fraudulently labeled the free market. We are for peace, individual freedom, truly freed markets, solidarity, voluntary cooperation, and mutual aid. We fight for liberation in Las Vegas through education, nonviolent direct action, and cooperative counter-institutions–not petitions, symbolic protests or electoral politics. We are working to build a new society within the shell of the old.

Given a group that could be accurately described using long descriptions like these, what do you think would make a good fractional, one, two, or (possibly) three sentence slogan, tagline, or introduction for Vegas ALL, to be printed on the back of a business card, with the aim of directing interested sympathizers (who are likely to be heretofore isolated anarchists, or possibly anti-statists currently embedded in other local activist groups) to our website and/or local contact person?

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