Since March 2013, the main Kersplebedeb website has been migrated to a primarily wordpress format.
What this means in practical terms is that everything you are used to seeing on Sketchy Thoughts is now being posted straight to Kersplebedeb and simply being automatically mirrored here. So in general, you will probably have a better reading/viewing experience if you head over to Kersplebedeb.
For those who prefer the Sketchy Thoughts blogger layout for whatever reason, this page will continue to be automatically updated whenever something is posted to Kersplebedeb, for at least the short-term future. However, as additional functionality is added to the Kersplebedeb site via wordpress, the Sketchy Thoughts page will probably begin to show its age more and more.
Saturday, April 08, 2023
Since March 2013, the main Kersplebedeb website has been migrated to a primarily wordpress format.
Saturday, February 14, 2015
The most visible change during my tenure as Correctional Investigator has been the growth in the overall size, complexity and diversity of the offender population. It is not a new observation that some of Canada’s minority, vulnerable or disadvantaged groups are disproportionately involved in the criminal justice system. These trends are accelerating within federal prisons. Since March 2005, the federal inmate population has increased by 17.5%. Over the same period, the Aboriginal population grew by 47.4% and Black offenders by over 75%. These groups now comprise 22 8% and 9 8% of the total incarcerated population respectively. The federally sentenced women population has increased 66%, with the Aboriginal women count growing by 112%. Over the same period, the number of Caucasian offenders has actually declined by 3%.
on the main Kersplebedeb website: http://ift.tt/175q7wX
Tuesday, January 27, 2015
- We Can’t Breathe without control of our destiny!
- We Can’t Breathe under neo-colonialism!
- We Can’t Breathe with capitalism’s hands around our throats!
- We Can’t Breathe under bourgeois democracy!
- We Can’t Breathe under genocidal violence!
- We Can’t Breathe under imperialism!
- The Can’t Breathe in overcrowded u.s. prisons!
- We Can’t Breathe under amerikan dyseducation!
- We Can’t Breathe believing the lies that we are amerikans!
- We Can’t Breathe as soldiers in your military!
- We Can’t Breathe under reformist slogans like “No justice No peace!”
- We Can’t Breathe being mis-led by oppo-same preachers, teachers & presidents!
- We Can’t Breathe under your pledge of allegience, flag or Constitution!
- We Can’t Breathe without an Army of our own!
- We Can’t Breathe with our political prisoners in your kamps!
- We Can’t Breathe without scientific socialism!
- We Can’t Breathe in your super-max SHU units!
- We Can’t Breathe under homophobia, patriarchy or heterosexism!
- We Can’t Breathe under pathological lies to protect & serve!
- We Can’t Breathe because Our Nation is Not Free!
So, We’re going to catch our breath and get our second wind, and this time we’re gonna get free. Free, that is, to control the qualitative factors of our lives which determine the destiny of our own nation. A nation of people with pride & dignity long denied this right by amerika’s spirit-killing, mind-warping, brain-draining drive to dominate & control all in its reach.
Stand up & struggle forward you mighty nation! Breathe, catch your second wind, overstand what’s at stake & begin again to Free the Land!
August 3rd Collective
Republic of New Afrika
*49 years after the death of Malcolm X
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Sunday, December 14, 2014
Joel is an antifascist prisoner in Sweden. In July 2014, he was sentenced to five and a half years in prison for attempted murder, violent disorder, and carrying an illegal weapon. The sentence followed a collective defense against a Nazi attack on an antifascist demonstration in Stockholm. The interview was conducted in the fall of 2014. Explanatory notes have been added.
You were sentenced in connection with an antifascist demonstration in Kärrtorp, a suburb of Stockholm, in December 2013. Can you tell us about that day?
During the weeks before the demonstration, there had been trouble in Kärrtorp and the neighboring suburbs. The Swedish Resistance Movement (Svenska motståndsrörelsen, SMR) had tried to establish itself in the area. They went through the usual Nazi routine of spraying swastikas on the local school and attacking people who have no place in the world they envision – in some cases with knives.
I’m not sure, but I think Network Line 17 already existed before the demonstration. In any case, it was this network that organized it.1 There were indications that Nazis might show up to disrupt the event, but when I checked in with people in the morning it seemed that everything was going to be fine. Since there was a solidarity benefit for an imprisoned antifascist the same night, I thought I would only stop by the demonstration for a short while before heading into town to help prepare the evening event. When I got to Kärrtorp with a few friends, we were about ten minutes late.
Five minutes later, the Nazis came.2 We saw them from about 200 yards away. Everything became very chaotic; we weren’t prepared and spread out across the square. We also had very little to defend ourselves with. The Nazis began to shower us with bottles. It didn’t seem to matter to them that there were many children and pensioners among us. They advanced onto the square while we retreated.
One of the strongest memories I have from that day is a policewoman standing between us and the Nazis and then suddenly running away. When I read the police report later, I understood that she went to get her helmet because of all the flying bottles, but at the time it felt like this was going to get really dangerous, even life-threatening. Everyone knows how happy SMR members are to use their knives.3
Once the initial confusion was over, we managed to gather and start a counterattack. We stopped the Nazis’ advance but that was not good enough. A front line formed. The police didn’t have a clue what was going on and beat us at least as hard as the Nazis. It was still chaotic, but now we were at least coordinated. We pushed back the Nazis further, and this is when I first saw one of them with a knife. I started heading towards him but lost sight. Meanwhile, the Nazis tried to regain ground. There were serious skirmishes and I saw another Nazi with a knife. If, at that point, the Nazis had gotten the upper hand and one of us had fallen to the ground, it could have been fatal. That’s when the Nazi closest to us got stabbed.
A number of demonstrators who had first left the square now returned. With their help, we managed to push the Nazis from the square to the adjacent bus station, then past some buildings out into the forest. More police arrived only when we were already at the bus station. I had hurt my knee in the melee and didn’t go with the others. Soon, the police shielded off the Nazis and protected them.4 I waited for my friends to return to the square, then I went, as planned, into town to help prepare the evening event.
You said that it wasn’t “good enough” to stop the Nazis’ advance. What do you mean by that?
It is important to understand that the Nazis came to attack us. They didn’t come to have a counter-rally, as they claim. Had it been up to them, they would have chased everyone from the square and, ideally, hurt some folks in the process. The attack was not just about preventing people from taking a stand against them, it was also about propaganda. The goal was to prevent any resistance to their recruitment efforts in the area and to use the action itself as a recruitment tool. Anyone who doesn’t understand this, chooses to ignore reality. Kärrtorp isn’t unique, that’s how it works everywhere. If we don’t fight on the streets, where are we going to fight?
I’m digressing, but it’s really important to point out how crucial it was to not only stop them but to chase them out of Kärrtorp. If you want their activities to end, this is needed.
You also mentioned that everyone knows how happy SMR members are to use their knives. Can you give examples?
The readiness of SMR members to use knives is well documented. About a year before the Kärrtorp attack, a person was stabbed to death by SMR members in Vallentuna, just outside of Stockholm. Only a few days before the Kärrtorp attack, someone was severely injured just a few suburbs away. And at least one of the people who murdered the union activist Björn Söderberg (rest in peace) was connected to SMR.5 There are more examples, but these should suffice. SMR tries to attract people – mostly young ones – with revolutionary romanticism and a sense of community that builds more on violence than ideology.
When did you get arrested?
About a week later. I was picking up my son from school.
It seems that you’ve been active in Sweden’s antifascist movement for quite some time. Can you tell us a little about this?
I grew up in Linköping during the 1980s and ’90s. Just like in the rest of Sweden and Europe, Nazis were on the rise. In Sweden, the “Laser Man” wreaked havoc, and the band Ultima Thule topped the charts.6 Linköping was strongly affected by this. It was a center for the production of White Power music and several leaders of the different Nazi organizations that existed in Sweden at the time were living in or around the town.
I was born in Chile, so I have personally experienced the everyday racism that still exists in Sweden. When I was little, I was physically attacked by Nazis. Once I got older, I started to fight back and defend myself. I realized that this made things much easier for me.
When I was 13 years old, I started going to hardcore punk shows. At the time, the hardcore punk scene was much more political than today. At a gig in 1995, someone asked me if I wanted to travel with him to Denmark to protest a march celebrating the German Nazi Rudolf Hess. I didn’t hesitate a second.
It was during this trip that I really embraced antifascism. I hadn’t known that there was a real antifascist movement out there. Everything in Denmark seemed so organized. There were lots of people from all ages at the demonstration, and this didn’t change even when we got into skirmishes with the police trying to keep us away from the Nazis. You could call it an initiating experience. It took some time before I got organized myself, but it was during this trip that I really understood that I was an antifascist.
Was the antifascist movement in Denmark better organized at the time than in Sweden? Has this changed?
I can’t really say how well antifascists were organized in other parts of Sweden at the time, but in Linköping there was no organization at all, or at least you didn’t notice it. In the late 1990s, however, an extraparliamentary left developed in Linköping as well.
I don’t want to go into details regarding antifascist organizing in Sweden, but once I had gotten involved myself, I noticed that things were really progressing. All aspects improved: research, recruitment, infrastructure. We only dropped the ball in one respect, and that was tactics. While the Nazis experimented successfully with new forms of politics, we didn’t make that leap.
Is the far right a big danger in Sweden? What does the movement look like today?
That depends on how you define the far right. The Sweden Democrats are now the country’s third biggest party. I reckon that is a big threat.7 It seems that the political situation in Sweden mirrors that in the rest of Europe. Far-right parties are gaining ground everywhere.
With respect to Nazi organizations, there is little risk that they will enter parliament.8 But Nazis will always pose a physical threat to anyone fighting them. Whenever Nazis are left alone, they grow. This is evident if you look at what has happened in Sweden during the last ten years: in towns where antifascists were strong, Nazis pretty much had to abandon their efforts. Those who deny that connection don’t know what they are talking about.
Antifascist activism can sometimes feel tough and unrewarding, but in a town like Örebro, for example, where Nazis were very active just a few years ago, there is now basically no activity at all. Other towns where militant struggle on the street has brought results are Linköping and Gothenburg. For different reasons, Stockholm is a difficult town to work in, but even there Nazis have been pushed back several times.
Internationally, Sweden is still seen as an open and liberal country. How does this go together with the far-right currents that you’re describing?
I think that whenever Nazis go from talk to action, that is, when they kill immigrants or rob banks, it is usually swept under the carpet. And whenever this is not possible – for example in the case of Malexander9 or Kärrtorp – the politicians make a big media circus out of it, full of condemnation and outrage. So either Nazis aren’t seen as a problem, or, when they are, the politicians give the impression that they will take care of it.
What are the perspectives for the country’s left?
I assume you mean the extraparliamentary left. Not sure if I’m the right person to ask since I’ll be out of the game for some time, but I think there needs to be better collaboration between different leftist groups and we need to establish more common goals.
Can you give examples for such goals?
I think we should be active in the areas that concern us all, especially in those where the underclass is attacked most heavily – this concerns, for example, the privatization of council flats or precarious labor relations. I also think that it is important to engage in small projects where you can actually experience victories and see that it’s possible to change things. That’s crucial for our morale. A good example was the campaign against JobbJakt.
What was it about?
JobbJakt is a website offering jobs. Some years ago, they wanted to introduce a bidding feature where the person ready to do the job for the lowest wage would get it. So, say, someone wants his bathroom redone, and then one person offers to do it for 150 crowns an hour, another for 100 crowns, etc. This is clearly wage dumping and hostile to the working class. It was important for us not to let such practices take root in Sweden and so we campaigned against the website – successfully.
You’ve been stressing the importance of organization in political work. Can you elaborate on this?
The importance of organization speaks for itself. If we do things together we are stronger. How exactly we are organized is secondary. It can be in a band, a union, a militant group, a pacifist group, a cultural center, a social center, a publishing house, a bookshop, or whatever. It doesn’t need to be die-hard activism either. But it’s important that organizing doesn’t stop with your own project. We need to make use of our movement’s diversity. Networks and umbrella organizations are important. At this point, the extraparliamentary left hardly feels like a movement at all.
What is your personal situation like? As a prisoner, what kind of support do you consider most important?
Right now, I’m at the prison in Kumla waiting for an evaluation. Kumla is a “Class 1 Prison” in Sweden, that is, a maximum security facility. Once the evaluation is done, I will probably be transferred to another maximum security facility.10
Support? I’d be very happy if more people got active and, especially, organized.
Some final words?
Let me quote Madball: “Times are changing for the worse / Gotta keep a positive outlook / Growing up in such violent times / Have some faith and you’ll get by.”
If you want to send mail to Joel, please check the current address at the Facebook page “Free Joel”.
- The Network Line 17 (Nätverket Linje 17) is a network of community groups along the southern end of Stockholm’s subway line 17.
- There were about thirty SMR members involved in the attack.
- During the attack, there were only about handful of police officers present. Reinforcements took several minutes to arrive.
- Twenty-eight SMR members were arrested. So far, sixteen have gone to court, seven of whom have been sentenced. The highest sentence so far has been eight months in prison for violent disorder.
- On September 21, 2012, Joakim Karlsson was murdered in Vallentuna. On December 7, 2013, Fidel Ogu was severely injured in Hökarängen. On October 12, 1999, Björn Söderberg was killed outside his apartment in Sätra in southern Stockholm.
- From August 1991 to January 1992, the “Laser Man” John Ausonius killed one person, the Iranian student Jimmy Ranjbar, and severely injured ten more in a series of shootings targeting people he considered “foreign” (in the beginning, Ausonius used a rifle with a laser sight, hence the name). Ultima Thule was a popular Swedish rock band with ties to the neo-Nazi milieu.
- At the 2014 parliamentary elections, the far-right Sweden Democrats (Sverigedemokraterna) received 12.86% of the vote.
- The Party of the Swedes (Svenskarnas parti), which until recently was called the National Socialist Front (Nationalsocialistisk front), also participated in the elections. It received 0.07% of the vote.
- On May 28, 1999, two policemen were shot dead by neo-Nazis in the small town of Malexander in southern Sweden following a bank robbery.
- Shortly after the completion of this interview, Joel was moved to the maximum security prison of Tidaholm. For updates, please see the Facebook page “Free Joel”.
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Tuesday, November 04, 2014
That’s right, we’re having a sale!
Dozens of books on special, with a selection that will be changing throughout the month of November, so check and then check back
At leftwingbooks.net !
on the main Kersplebedeb website: http://ift.tt/10jydOP
Wednesday, October 15, 2014
Monday, October 06, 2014
Thursday, September 11, 2014
Windi Earthworm was an institution of the radical anglo left in 1980s Montreal. A crossdressing openly gay street musician who took it upon himself to educate the public about the Vancouver 5, the genocide of Indigenous peoples, the destruction of nature, and the miseries of life under capitalism, Windi was a frequent performer at benefits put on by the scene. Indeed, generally he was by far the most popular act.
Windi was diagnosed HIV+ in the mid-eighties, and had moved to the countryside by 1986 – and when his health started to noticeably deteriorate, he left Quebec for the West Coast, settling in Victoria, B.C. He died in 1993.
A month ago, on August 11, 2014, Queer Corps (on CKUT 90.3 FM) devoted an entire show to Windi’s music, and to talking to people who knew him and sharing their memories with us. It is well worth listening to, and has been uploaded to soundcloud where you can do just that.
on the main Kersplebedeb website: http://ift.tt/X0i9Ab
Wednesday, September 10, 2014
Tuesday, September 09, 2014
At the end of the 1980s five men robbed a cash-in-transit vehicle in Copenhagen, stealing over thirteen million crowns. The subsequent investigation led to the discovery of an apartment in the district of Blekingegade that contained: ‘crystal radio receivers, transmitters, and antennas; masks, false beards, and state-of-the-art replicas of police uniforms; numerous false documents and machines to produce them; extensive notes outlining the … robbery and other unlawful activities; and – in a separate room, accessible only through a hidden door – the biggest illegal weapons cache ever found in Denmark.’ (3)
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Monday, August 25, 2014
So we’re somewhere, can’t even agree on how to characterize where, but what we do agree on is we want to get out. There’s paths leading in all directions, and we can only see so far down each. Some we know are dead ends, some we know are worse. But even there, where a passageway once taken seemed to discredit itself forever with bloodshed and tragedy, we can’t really be sure it wasn’t the right one, and the we didn’t just miss a side door or tunnel branching off X feet in. It may be unlikely, and unreasonable to count upon, but no one can rule it out as a possibility.
Welcome to the epistemology of the maze. Welcome to life in the 21st century.
Situated as we are — where? still can’t agree to say! — we know we better move. So we will. And sometimes we’ll go down a passageway hoping it is the way out. Sometimes we’ll go with no hope in our hearts, just to rule it out, or to confirm a suspicion of another dead end.
Deductive? Inductive? Never mind, just put one foot in front of the other, and let’s go.
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Sunday, July 20, 2014
In Terry Bisson’s interview with Ken MacLeod in The Human Front (PM Press, 2013), there’s this great answer to Bisson’s question “How come so many UK leftists are Trots?” :
Short answer: because Trotskyists in Britain moved fast on the CP’s crisis in the 1950s, and moved with the times in the 1960s.
Long answer: in the 1960s in a lot of countries semimass currents arose to the left of the official Communist Parties. In some countries, including the United States and West Germany, most of the radicals who wanted to be revolutionaries became some kind of Maoists. In others, including the UK and France, much the same kind of people became Trotskyists. I think part of the explanation goes back to the 1950s, and especially the aftermath of 1956 and the Soviet intervention in Hungary.
The crisis of the Communist Party of Great Britain gave rise to a very serious opposition around a magazine called The New Reasoner, involving academics and people with real labour movement roots, which became what’s now called the Old New Left. Some of these people were very open to Trotsky’s arguments, and none of them were interested in adopting a new personality cult or clinging to the old one.
The funny thing is that in the United States the Trotskyists were much better organised than in Britain. For one thing, they were all in one party, the Socialist Workers Party (except for the Shachtmanites, who were busy becoming social democrats). In Britain they were all in one party too, but it was the Labour Party, and they were split into (at least) three mutually hostile groups. But the largest group was able to intervene in the crisis of the CP and rip off a couple of hundred serious people: intellectuals and trade unionists. Then they picked up more young people from the first wave of anti-nuclear activism—the Aldermaston marches and all that. They proceeded to lose or burn out the best of them, largely because their leader, Gerry Healy, was a thug as well as an ultra-left. The regime in Healy’s group was far worse than anything anyone had experienced in the CPGB. Say what you like about Harry Pollitt (the CP’s general secretary until 1956) he never thumped another communist, or threw anyone down the stairs. But other Trot groups were there to pick up people from the heap at the bottom of Healy’s stairwell. What’s worrying, actually, is how many went back up the stairs. In the United States, the SWP fumbled the CPUSA’s crisis, saw the CP left wing walk past them and into the increasingly ultra-left Progressive Labor, and followed up by failing to dive into the Civil Rights struggle. The mass movement they did dive into was the Vietnam anti-war movement, and even there they found themselves to the right of the young radicals who wanted to wave Vietcong flags. They came across as a very staid, conservative organization, rather like the CPUSA itself, and missed the 1960s. It took some doing at the time for a revolutionary organization to recruit almost no one out of SDS, but the SWP managed it.
Two of the British Trotskyist groups of the 1960s, the International Socialists and the International Marxist Group, were very much more open to the so-called counterculture. They didn’t frown on kids with long hair who smoked dope. They waved their own Vietcong flags. They shifted farther and faster than the U.S. SWP did on gay liberation, as it was then called. They had plenty of militant working-class struggles to pitch into, which the SWP didn’t to the same extent (and it missed out on the ones it did have).
So Britain is infested with ex-Trots instead of with ex-Maoists, which is a small mercy.
The lesson, yet again: don’t go hating on the kids with weird hair and strange habits…
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Saturday, July 05, 2014
Friday, July 04, 2014
New York State Political Prisoner Jalil Muntaqim was recently denied parole for
the 8th time by the New York State Parole Board. Jalil first became eligible for
parole in 2002, and has been denied parole from that time to the present. At
this point there is no longer a need to discuss Jalil’s accomplishments and why
he should be home. Instead, let’s talk about the forces that are working to
influence the parole denials of Jalil Muntaqim.
Law Enforcement officials across the country, spearheaded by The New York City
Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association (PBA), have led a nationwide media campaign
against Jalil and Herman Bell, his co-defendant. The PBA has labeled them in the
eyes of the public as violent sixties radicals who murdered two NYC police
officers in cold blood. Police unions in San Francisco, Chicago, New Jersey and
Florida have all mobilized their ranks and have publicly petitioned the New York
State Parole Board to deny parole for both Jalil and Herman.
People, you don’t have to believe us. You can look on pro-police websites such
as http://www.sfpoa.org and http://www.nycpba.org. The Fraternal Order of
Police, the same group that has lobbied publicly for close to three decades for
the execution of Mumia Abu Jamal, have also lobbied to help keep Jalil and
Herman in prison. In fact, Sally Velasquez-Thompson, who is an active member of
the Fraternal Order of Police and the Detective Endowment Association, was one
of the parole officers assigned to Jalil’s parole hearing in 2012. This shows
the clear connection between the police and parole board. This is similar to the
parole hearings of The Move 9, where two of the parole officers involved in
their hearings are former police officers.
People should be outraged by this, especially if you live in New York State,
because your tax dollars are paying the salaries of these legalized terrorists
called The New York State Parole Board. Instead of the interest of the community
calling for parole for Jalil being taken into consideration, the opinion of the
police – the same police who brutalize, murder, and maim Blacks, Latinos, and
poor whites – is given a platform at Jalil’s and other political prisoners
parole hearings. They get the say so on this because they are the police.
At this point Jalil is not only held as a political prisoner. He is also now a
hostage of the New York State Parole Board and the New York City Patrolmen’s
This has nothing to do with justice and everything to do with hate and
vengeance. Jalil is being made to pay for taking a stand against this corrupt
government just like the rest of our imprisoned freedom fighters who took a
stand against this rotten corrupt government.
It’s time to stand up and fight back. If we are as loving and courageous as our
Freedom Fighters, we will be able to bring them back to their community and
their loved ones, where they belong.
The PBA wants to retroactively sentence our beloved Freedom Fighters to life
with parole, but this is not what the law says.*Jalil, Herman Bell, Robert Seth
Hayes Mohamman Koti and Maliki Shakur Latine have all been denied parole
multiple times due to the pernicious influence of the PBA over the parole
board.* Even their own propaganda against Jalil proves that it is his ideas they
are truly afraid of.
The system tries to create the illusion that it is omnipotent, but there are a
lot of cracks in the wall, so let’s keep pushing until all the walls come
Free Jalil Muntaqim and All Political Prisoners and POWs!
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