(Dis) Connection was “a networking journal for radical collectives and infoshops.” (Emphasis in the original.) The second issue was written by Chicagoans, and was largely about the A-Zone. The words “Left Bank donated $50.00 to assist in our goal of one Uzi per A-Zone member” on the inside cover of the November ’94 issue instantly sparked my interest. I’d only discovered this journal when my comrade, ex-A-Zoner Rachel A., lent me two copies to help with my research for the A-Zone Essay Project.
Articles in this issue such as “Against Half-Assed Race and Class Theory and Practice” by Ken Wong, “Gentrifuckation and White Frontier Collectives” and “On Boys In Collectives” were somewhat painful reminders about how many current Leftist activists in general, and participants in the Infoshop Movement in particular are pretty good at re-inventing faulty wheels. Bringing back these past discussions and insights is a large part of the point of that project.
When asked to be on a panel about “Zines & Libraries” at Chicago ‘Zine Fest in 2010 when I was doing the research, I made a point in inviting Ken Wong and bringing the two copies of (Dis) Connection with me, and talking about how Wicker Park was still 70% Latin@ at the time the A-Zone was there according to the journal. I brought this up while talking about the current gentrification of Pilsen, for anyone there who still might not be taking it seriously.
In the other issue of the journal I was able to check out, #3, Winter 95, one particular article stood out to me, “A-ZONE!? WHAT THE fuck?!?” “Recently we decided to have an ‘Existentialist Blues’ discussion at the Azone. We decided to do this because we REALLY needed to, because we hadn’t had one in a long time, cuz we though it’d be fun (ahem), and because we were (possibly) moving to a new space.”
The article is mostly an analysis of the discussion, and its follow up, and a larger one was produced as a pamphlet, Existentialist Blues. I would Love to see a copy, and possibly include it as an appendix to a future edition of the project, or a new one. In an era of so-called “social networking” websites, these journals were a real charge to get a hold of, and I’m sure I would have read, and re-read them if they were new.
The networking that came formally out of the journal culminated in Active Resistance, a series of events that were held in Chicago in opposition to the Democratic National Convention that met there in 1996. We had an Active Resistance banner hanging on the wall in the main room of the Bucktown space the whole time I was in the Collective, and the events were the stuff of local legend to me.
I would Love to help try to organize a New Connections journal for Punk and/or Collective Houses, Infoshops, and other radical spaces. I would like to use a similar format where cities take turns publishing issues to share about the trials and tribulations in the Anti-State of their local movements, without airing too much dirty laundry. Maybe we can have a list serve for that! I would also greatly appreciate input from people who were involved with (Dis) Connection.
I can be reached at alextheweaver at gmail dot com.
PM Press 2012
Katsiaficas starts off this work with a preface that both explains his political background and personal experiences and interest in Korea. It annoyed me a bit, especially when he wrote “My overwhelming sense is that Korea is simultaneously the most civil society I have ever experienced and the most Americanized Asian country I have ever visited.” (xxiv) But I appreciated his being upfront, and felt that it helped put his perspective into place, and as I got into the main part of the work, his personal narrative dropped off for the most part.
Also, as the developer “of the concept of the eros effect to explain the rapid spread of revolutionary aspirations and actions during the strikes of May 1968 in France and May 1970 in the United States as well as the proliferation of the global movement in this same period of time”, (xxvii) he also puts his theoretical perspectives out front, then repeatedly returns to this concept through out the book, as people’s actions back his theories.
Katsiaficas interviewed over 50 members of the Gwangju Citizen’s Army, one of the personal steps that make this such a critical historical work. As with many such works, he had to go back before the 20th Century to help create the proper historical framework for understanding the events of the century, and meticulously chronicles both the foreign intervention in Korea in general, and Western intervention in particular. He also writes about how colonialism, then neo-liberalism was effecting other Asian nations at any given time of the book, showing an Internationalist perspective that helped make the context of the various eras clear.
Katsiaficas also makes a point of chronicling cultural changes, and tries to show their political connotations, but the core of the work, true to its subtitle “South Korean Social Movements in the 20th Century” is a record of revolutionary struggle against Japanese then United States Imperialism and local collaborators, class struggle against both foreign and domestic exploitation and domination, and struggles within the working class against sexism and other forms of discrimination and oppression.
To me, stories of the Internationalism of Koreans who fought against the Japanese in China was some of the most exciting material in the book, possibly upwards of 160,000 in the border area alone! (49)
With the end of World War II, the replacement of Japan as the colonial power dominating Korea with the United States is clearly outlined, as the northern half of Korea started to be run by People’s Committees which had sprung up all over the country, (68) and possibly 100,000 south Koreans were killed while resisting the occupation and division of the country before the start of the Korean War (60).
The overthrow of various US backed military governments in 1960 and 1987, and the mass student and labor organizing while under threat of heavy prison sentences and police, military and/or vigilante violence, and the journalism during heavy censorship that was behind these struggles and the conflicts to come against neo-liberalism are all throughly documented, with plenty of sources cited for further study.
In my opinion, the only weak part is the 13th and final chapter of the book, The Democratic Dilemma. As I read its accounting of democratically elected, right-wing governments’ regressive policies and sell out liberals doing much of the same, it left me wondering how exactly it was a dilemma until just shy of the end. Katsiaficas, correctly in my opinion, points out, “The hundreds of middle and high school girls who led the first protests in Seoul [in 2008] revealed this dilemma of democracy. They embodied a ‘collective intelligence’ superior to their country’s elite” (415) though after plenty of theorizing and editorializing through out the book, writing like a lion for the first 12 chapters closes out the book as a lamb leaving me wondering, and what? Since the future is still to be written, and he is from the States it makes sense that he would do so, and I applaud his stepping back and not asserting himself as some sort of great visionary who can direct a radical Korean future, as far too many white North Americans have been doing for far too long. It just seemed to trail off, but has been a wealth of information very worth reading and following up on.
This is an excellent radio interview with the author that inspired me to read the book:
Written for POCO!