Love and Treason
HIT THE WALLS
Kevin Keating's first novel, 'Hit the Walls,' is an ultra-left noir that follows the adventures and misadventures of a band of radicals fighting against the yuppie invasion of San Francisco's working class Mission District during the dot-com boom of 1999. Funny and fast-paced, filled with action, danger and romance, 'Hit the Walls' is one of the first truly anti-capitalist novels in the history of United States fiction; it conveys the subjectivity and struggles of individuals in rebellion against contemporary society and the totalitarian dictatorship of the market economy as no other novel does.
"I don't think it's possible to tell an truly original story; the Greeks already told them all 2600 years ago," says Keating. "And it's not that I am such a brilliant guy, either. But I think that I've blundered onto the next best thing. I think 'Hit the Walls' is the first American ultra-left noir."
Keating is now seeking a literary agent who will be energetic and aggressive about attempting to get 'Hit the Walls' placed with a publishing house. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
"Phillip Marlow meets the Situationists in the first truly American ultra-left noir. Quite striking..."
"If my prose style was better, and if I was well-versed in revolutionary Marxism and anarchism, and if I wasn't already dead, this is the novel that I would have wanted to write."
Patricia Highsmith, author of "Ripley Under Ground," "Ripley's Game," etc.
Future novels by Keating will include "A Killing Urge," about a working class criminal and Nietzschean ubermench in a one-man war against the automobile, and "The Lenin Boys," about the life and death of the revolutionary extremist Tibor Szamuely during the 133 days of the Hungarian Council Republic of 1919.
by Kevin Keating
"The pen is waiting -- hang the pen!
To scribbling I'm condemned to sink,
I grasp the inkstand fiercely then
and write in floods of flowing ink,
How broad, how true the streams' career,
What luck my labors do requite;
'Tis true the writing's none too clear,
What then? -- who reads the stuff I write!?
The Gay Science
Love and Treason is a collection of documents of revolutionary extremist agitation and propaganda produced between 1982 and 2001. To avoid repetitiveness I'm only including what I think are the best efforts, documents that taken together can give readers a comprehensive world-view. Someday I'll want to publish a much longer version of this as a book. Love and Treason is a story of revolutionary politics during a period of universal counter-revolution, of attempts to spread subversion in one of the most reactionary industrialized societies on Earth.
I wrote most of the pieces here. Other materials were produced with various small groups of friends. Everything you see is a work-in-progress; nothing is etched in stone, and nothing is copyrighted. Reproduce any of it or all of it as you wish, or use the materials here to come up with something better.
In Simon Schama's Citizens, a Reaganite history of the French Revolution, Schama wrote that the Jacobin extremist Jean Paul Marat knew "a mocking, combative journalism probing the limits of conventional decorum could actually create a new political public." That's what I aim at, and I hope Love and Treason in turn offers style models that future rebels can improve on. Effective revolutionary propaganda is an art that few contemporary radicals have mastered. Even writing a witty and provocative letter to the editor is a skill that takes time and effort to learn.
Do the efforts in this text succeed in getting their message across?
You be the judge. A well-crafted leaflet can be a weapon and a work of beauty!
Since 1983 my goal has been to help create a communist minority revolutionary tendency in the San Francisco Bay Area, distinct from the left and from anarchism, linked to similar groups in North America and the rest of the world. This group would have to be both politically sophisticated and involved in real day-to-day working class struggles.
The most effective anti-capitalist action is collective action, and I say this from my own experience of many years of being forced to act alone. Individualist efforts wax and wane with the level of inspiration of their authors. In many cases these efforts are the hobbies of dilettantes who have ego problems and too much time on their hands. The result is usually the political equivalent of stamp-collecting. It doesn't have a lasting social impact. I want to form enduring links with dedicated, energetic revolutionaries; people who are capable of a long-term commitment to a common effort and who will do what they say they'll do.
True Confessions: I was a teen-age Marxist-Leninist!
A document like this is necessarily a personal story, but to keep the politics at center stage I'll keep the autobiographical stuff out of the main body of the text as much as I can.
My politics began as a product of the social movement of the late 1960's, which I was far too young to take part in. The Vietnam War, the profound racism of American society and everything I was finding out about US history made it totally clear to me: the United States was a nightmare reality that could not be changed by peaceful means. I started calling myself a communist when I was 12 years old. I wanted the Viet Cong to kick Uncle Sam's ass. As a teenager growing up in suburban Northern Virginia my heroes were Che Guevara and George Jackson, the Black Panthers and the Red Army Faction in West Germany, and when I grew up I wanted to be just like them.
As a subjectively radical kid in the 'burbs my ideas had developed in isolation from other leftists. I thought Marxism-Leninism was the only real opposition to the present state of things. But other perspectives began appearing early, in the far distance, messages coming to me from the future. In my high school library, in a photographic biography of Trotsky, I found a brief account of the life and adventures of the anarchist Nestor Makhno, a partisan fighter in the Russian Civil War. Makhno was an enigma to my 14-year old Guevaraist consciousness, since this was the first time I'd read of forces qualitatively to the left of the Bolsheviks in the Russian Revolution.
At age 16 I discovered George Orwell's Homage to Catalonia. From Orwell I learned that during the Spanish Civil War, millions of working-class anarchists had tried to remake society in a communist manner, far in advance of anything attempted by Lenin or Castro or Mao. Homage to Catalonia was my first encounter with the history of anarchism as a mass social movement, as a potential alternative to Leninism, and not just as the actions of a few brave and lonely individuals who had assassinated a handful of ruling class thugs.
Sometime after that on Pennsylvania Avenue in DC I found a leaflet taped to a lightpost, from something called "The Last International," titled "The Seven Danger Signs of Subjectivity." It had a graphic comparing the Pope, Mao, a dollar sign and Edvard Munch's "The Scream," and pithy lines of anti-work and anti-cop sentiments. This was my first encounter with the wit and world-view of Bob Black. I didn't even know what the word "subjectivity" meant but I took the flyer home and taped it above my stereo, near my David Bowie albums. In 1978, radio station WGTB at Georgetown University was broadcasting punk rock from the UK and New York City and San Francisco, and that music began to have a huge impact on me, opening doors, stirring new anti-authoritarian impulses and ideas.
Instead of going to college after high school like other children of the bourgeoisie, in the fall of 1978 I got on a Greyhound bus and traveled across America to exotic Berkeley, California, which I hoped would be a hotbed of free love and Castroite ideology. Boy, was I disappointed by Berkeley! It was a deadly-dull town dominated by the corporate-oriented University of California. There was nothing to do after 8 p.m., nowhere to go to hear music, nowhere for an 18-year old kid to find entertainment, since I wasn't into hanging out at pinball arcades. Berkeley was overrun by kids my age, but I wasn't a student at Cal so I wasn't one of them. By the late 1970's UC Berkeley students were perky young conformists exuding a rank air of upper-middle class privilege. Most of the ones I met sneered at anyone who wasn't clawing their way to a well-paid future in a corporate or academic gerbil-cage. Cal students were awful; I hated them. I also met Maoists and Trotskyists. They were tedious weirdos. They seemed to be speaking a language written for them by vacuum tube-operated machines.
So in radical Berkeley my options were identical to what I'd left behind in the 'burbs: I worked pumping gas, flipping burgers and washing dishes to pay my rent. My education continued in this vein. I learned more about capitalism from working low wage shit jobs and a life in poverty than I did from reading the Revolutionary Worker and Sproul Plaza polemics with the Sparts.
"Mad to Live, Mad to Burn..."
I spent my first summer on the west coast hitchhiking around the Pacific Northwest. When I came back to Berkeley I worked in produce markets and movie theaters. I lived on the streets for most of 1980. I slept in alleys and construction sites, went hitchhiking and backpacking all over California and even hopped a couple of rides on freight trains. I kicked it with old hippies who said they'd kicked it with Kerouac, developed a yen for good beer and crystal meth, climbed Mount Shasta, began having more frequent sexual relationships, organized a big rent strike against the south-of-campus landlord Reza Valiyee and bricked the windows of numerous banks, supermarkets and real estate company offices. It wasn't all beer and skittles; kids who live on the streets have to spend too much time dodging creeps -- sexual predators, religious nuts and cops. I got punched out a few times, and I was also arrested at gunpoint and charged with felony burglary by the Berkeley PD, and then into an ongoing jam with the law. I was 20 years old.
After my time on the street my politics were less radical than my daily life experiences had been. Until I was 22 or 23 my understanding of the world was still a hodgepodge of illusions about electoral politics and urban guerrilla warfare, identification with anarcho-syndicalism and with "socialism" in Cuba. But my best political activity, the rent strikes I organized in '80 and '81 against Reza Valiyee in several of his buildings, was a form of collective direct action by dispossessed people against exchange value; we had begun to assert what we needed against the market economy. At that time I didn't understand this anymore than anyone else involved in those rent strikes did. My analysis was way off, but my gut instincts were sound, and I was in the process of finding more useful analytic tools. In the next few years I discovered the Situationists and Jean Barrot and pamphlets from Black and Red in Detroit. They liberated me. This is where my real narrative begins...
8. Four articles about the 2011-2012 Occupy movement in Oakland and San Francisco
- Some Critical Notes on the Occupy Movement's November 2011 Attempt at a General Strike in Oakland, California
- In San Francisco's Mission District, the Black Bloc Breaks Some Windows and Fails to Make an Impact
- My Encounter with the "Precarious and Service Workers Assembly" of Occupy Oakland
- A postscript to “My Encounter with the Precarious and Service Workers Assembly of Occupy Oakland.”
16. Ballad of a Green Beret is a short black and white 16mm. narrative film. Written and directed by Kevin Keating.