Online Archive  
Issue 13 - June 1973
Book Reviews
TAKE OVER THE CITY distributed by Rising Free. 20p

GETTING BUSTED edited by Ross Firestone (Penguin)

Take Over the City
There's always a lot of speculation among the more inactive of the politically radical, leader orientated, segments of such societies as ours as to what would happen should 'the masses' throw off their shackles, unhook themselves from the opiates, and shove their 'discontents' up the venerable rectum of capitalism.

Most of these intellectuals would have it that such disorderly winds of change would disperse under the impact of the monumental fart resulting from such an action.

"I mean, they need us; we've studied sociology and can really understand Marcuse, honest."

"Yes man, we've definitely shrugged off the opiates. Wan'a blast?"

And so ... the nomads leave the college rooms, pads and sleeping bags to catch the bus up to the council estate where 'their' tenants' association is discussing how to get the tenants to associate, and start a rent strike with promises of support - placards, town hall sit-ins, collections, motions "and with the extra money you can taste the pleasures of silk, milk and dreams of that ilk". "We'll help you, we'll show you, we'll lead you, we understand".

Meanwhile, and for the past few years, blocks of empty flats have been occupied by families, defended by families, against, often, 3,000 - 4,000 strong police attacks; factories have found their work forces out building barricades to help defend their hundreds of friends who are squatting; the established left has been told to leave, shown the door, forbidden entrance, banned by the squat, the area occupation, the town wide, years long rent strikes.

Families contribute what they can towards a fund used to build homes - not boxes - for families without even boxes, who then pay what they can towards building homes for yet more families. Mothers and children defend the houses while the fathers strengthen the barricades. All this in the face of thousands of tear-gas, baton charge, pressure hose police, hundreds of baby kissing, heart stripping politicians, and, wait for it, Town Hall promises. All this nation wide, becoming international as the populations, the families, cross boundaries, spreading the action, defeating the reaction.

No! It's not the plan for a book - Blueprint for the Impossible. It's already been written - and it's true. It's already happened, it's already happening. And only a few hundred miles from here. You won't have read about it because the press are too scared of it.

A few hundred miles? Well, Italy to be precise. And Germany. And it's spreading. (It could happen here, you know.) It's worth knowing about. So if you're interested, or sceptical, well read the pamphlet - 'Take over the City'. It only costs 20p and you get it from Rising Free - address, see graffiti page.

Getting Busted
A blood curdling, spine chilling, mind shaking book of experiences, by people confronted with a sick system of American law and law enforcement. An insight into personal experiences, some annoyingly funny and some that are like a slap in the face, but all of which, from arrest, trial and finally prison, should stir up a great deal of thought on the misuse of power.

ARREST: Out of all the experiences in this section (Terry Southern, Norman Mailer, Eldridge Cleaver) I have chosen this extract as a guide. G Radano / Walking the Beat: advice from an old timer (a retired ex-cop): "You got only five seconds to decide whether to run like a dog or stand like a cop. Five seconds, you, God, a mob, and no reference books. So you hold the club short and you hit the first son-of-a-bitch on the head - bang! three stitches! if the bastard keeps coming - bang! three more stitches! and that makes you a fascist! For weeks they'll argue whether you did or didn't use too much force! For weeks! And you only has five seconds."

TRIAL: This section is unbelievable and shows a bizarre and biased confliction of laws can be brought into focus on reading articles by Lenny Bruce and Abbie Hoffman, but I have chosen, because of its 1973 impact, the following second extract. Bertolt Brecht: Testimony / The House Committee on Un-American Activities: "I wish to say that the American people would lose much and risk much if they allowed anybody to restrict free competition of ideas in cultural fields, or to interfere with art which must be free in order to be art. We are living in a dangerous world. Our state of civilisation is such that mankind is already capable of becoming enormously wealthy but, as a whole, is still poverty-ridden. Wars might well wipe out mankind, as a whole. We might be the last generation of the specimen man on this earth."

This statement was made at Bertolt's (aged 50) trial in October 1947. The prosecutor overlooked the whole statement as being of no interest to the Committee. (Out of interest, Nixon was on this committee.)

PRISON: This last extract gives you the real picture and says it all. Johnny Cash / Folsom Prison Blues: "You sit on your cold steel mattressless bunk and watch a cockroach crawl out from under the filthy commode, and you don't kill it. You envy the roach as you watch it crawl out under the cell door."

To conclude, I would say this book goes a long way to show the path of American government and authority, as based on fear, money and ignorance. Not to mention a paranoia of communism, an inbred blindness of their own problems impaired by narrow well-worn thoughts. It also shows the confusion to comprehend a more aware, free-thinking, younger generation, and can still come on strong with that old escape route 'patriotism'. Now, in the midst of the Watergate affair, I feel a little sick with thoughts of a British system built on a similar, but milder parallel.

Pete Sandyford