More on the Eugenians

Louis Proyect lnp3 at
Fri Dec 3 07:49:39 MST 1999

NY Times, December 3, 1999


Dark Parallels With Anarchy Concocted in Oregon


SEATTLE -- They call themselves anarchists, and they go by first names
only: Spider, Possum, Nimo, Hawaii, Burdock, Rob. Some come from Eugene,
Ore., where the anarchists have had regular clashes with the police, most
seriously after a march last June turned into a riot, with smashed windows
and 19 people arrested.

And early this week, just before the World Trade Organization meeting was
getting under way here, the teenagers and young 20-somethings came to
Seattle. They took over a privately owned, vacant warehouse at the edge of
downtown here, which they now call "the Squat," and proclaim to be their
home. "Rent is Theft," says the sign one posted to a window the other day.

Many are clad head to toe in black, complete with bandannas, and security
seems to be a big issue for them these days. "Security guards" communicated
to each other via walkie-talkies as they escorted a visitor along the dark
passageways of the Squat and up to their communal meeting room Thursday.

"We're not really into having our identities known," said one young man,
who gave his name as Black. Another explained that they hoped to avoid the
"hassles" of a lawsuit brought by the warehouse owner, Wah Lui, who has
been negotiating fruitlessly to get his building back while the police,
wary of a violent confrontation, have so far held off from storming the

While they accepted the term anarchist, some suggested that
"anti-authoritarian" or "humanist" better expressed their basic belief that
all governments and corporations are bad and should be drastically
curtailed if not abolished.

Many are articulate and evidently well read, but few said they wished to
discuss much about their upbringing. All in the group of roughly two dozen
meeting today were white. The police in Eugene said many of the anarchists
there were young men and women from middle-class backgrounds who
congregated in the city after fallings-out with their parents.

With the authorities here blaming young anarchists for causing much of the
smashed windows and other vandalism that racked the downtown area on
Tuesday, it is not at all surprising that most in the group of squatters
here were somewhat evasive about where they were that day and what they did.

A few, in fact, said they might have smashed a window or two, but carefully
noted that any destruction they might have committed was against stores
representing what they said were "multinational corporations" like
Starbucks, Nike or the Gap. "We didn't hurt any person or any living
thing," said a young bandanna-wearing man who would not give his name.

Just what involvement any particular person in this group had in Tuesday's
events remains unclear, and Seattle police conceded today that they have
arrested only a fraction of the people, many clad in black clothes and
masks, who they believe ran wild on Tuesday and caused mayhem even as other
protesters shouted "Shame, shame" or even tried to stop the destruction.

Seattle authorities said they could not state that there was a direct
connection between the Eugene group and the chaos in the streets, but the
police did say they were talking to police investigators in Eugene to learn
more about the group there, which is relatively visible in that university

Nearly 75 showed up at a Northwest anarchist conference in Eugene in June,
and shortly afterwards eight police officers were injured when a march
called by the Anarchist Action Collective turned into a riot, in which the
anarchists hurled rocks and bricks through bank signs, shop windows, a
hotel and motorists' cars.

"The event they staged here was so similar it is almost spooky," Capt. Thad
Buchanan of the Eugene police said in an interview Thursday, comparing it
to the anarchists' apparent role in the Seattle melee. "We were assured in
advance that it would be a peaceful protest, and the next thing we knew
they were doing damage all over the place."

The group's intellectual cheerleader is a 56-year-old author of anarchist
tracts, John Zerzan, who has attracted some local attention by carrying on
a regular correspondence with Theodore J. Kaczynski, the man imprisoned as
the Unabomber.

Zerzan, who was in Seattle on Monday and Tuesday, declined to say whether
he knew anyone who damaged property on Tuesday. "I can't be sure," he said
in a telephone interview today. "After all, they were all wearing masks."
But he did offer a spirited defense of the basic idea of anarchy and of the
means that some might choose to achieve it.

"The question is, what does it take to be effective when things are at this
stage of crisis?" said Zerzan, citing teenage alienation and suicide,
homelessness, environmental degradation as symptoms of the planet's despair.

Anarchists' protests in Eugene have often focused on environmental issues,
including a fervent campaign against plans to remove dozens of old trees in
the downtown area to clear room for a parking lot and new residential

Though the young men and women gathered here at the Squat spoke of their
desire to get rid of corporate rule, they did not seem at all bellicose
during their communal meeting here. They spent considerable time discussing
basic issues like how to make their home more livable -- "if anybody here
knows something about plumbing, that'd be rad," said one young woman.

Several in the group said they were there to make a stand against
homelessness. "Housing is a right, not a privilege, and that's the bottom
line," said one man with a green bandanna around his face, who gave his
name as Rahnna. Yet, when two homeless men who appeared to be in their 40's
came by today looking for space in the warehouse, they were sent away by
the young squatters, with the explanation that the collective would need to
discuss whether they were welcome.

The Seattle police are taking a decidedly hands-off view of the squatters.

"The situation is being monitored," said Randy Huserik, a detective with
the Seattle Police Department. "Once the W.T.O. wraps up, our attention
will probably return there. With the number of people in there, there would
be a great deal of tactical issues to deal with" in getting them out, he
added. "And we have bigger fish to fry right now."

Buchanan, of the Eugene police force, said he had learned that a "sizable
contingent" of Eugene anarchists had made their way to Seattle to
participate in the demonstrations. But, as both he and the Seattle police
emphasized, they could not say how many from that group had been involved
in Tuesday's vandalism.

And Jan Power, a spokeswoman for the Eugene department, said not all
anarchists were bent on property destruction. "There's a core group that's
into violence," she said. "But there's a broader group that's just more
philosophically into the concept of anarchy."

Louis Proyect

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