January 01, 2011

Walkin' One And Only

"I shudder at how easily people get used to the seemingly intolerable. They are like plastic, easily deformable if slow pressure is applied. And all authoritarians seem to realize after a while that that's all they have to do: push steadily with just the right force - not too hard all at once or a violent breakage will result. Then people will get used to whatever it is instead of refusing to accept it and rebelling....

"I take particular effort to maintain a settled - an anchored - outlook. Frankly it also helps that I never use any of the modern fad digital toys that get people onto the conveyor belt and zipping along so that they don't stay focused in any one place for long enough to notice the big shifts that are happening to everyone else. Huge propaganda, in fact, attempts to see to it that hardly anyone does stop and watch what's going on. If you try to do it they bring to bear a world of jeers and seemingly almost fanatic tactics designed to make you conform."

This from The Match! issue #107 (Summer 2009).

The editor is one Fred Woodworth who has been [publishing The Match! continuously since 1969.

He's a fellow who puts his money where his mouth is. You won't find a web site. Fred doesn't have a computer. He prints The Match! on old school offset printing equipment using press plates burned by solar power. He lives in Tucson, off the power grid, and has taught himself to fix everything from cars to generators.

The Match! can be gotten free just by writing him at

The Match!
PO Box 3012
Tucson, AZ 85702

But everyone sends a donation. The catch is that he returns checks because he doesn't have a bank account. You send cash or stamps. It sounds like an article of faith but it really isn't. This is how he's operated since the late 60's. I sent him a twenty. A week later I got three back issues, a hand-written note saying it was good to hear from me again (I remember contacting him in the early 70's when the zine was getting going and his "ethical anarchism" was getting put out there into the world), and a promise that a new issue was on the way.

Fred is an anarchist. Meaning that all forms of authoritarianism are anathema to his worldview be it Hitler, Stalin, the Jewish Knesset, the Iranian mullahs, the Queen of England, Fox News, the American Left, President Obama, your local peace officer, and even other anarchists who call for violence against the state and any form of statism whatsoever.

Hence he has made a lot of enemies over time.

Because he refuses to use an ISBN system there are bookstores that refuse to carry him or any book he publishes. Other anarchists have called him every name in the book because he's let it be known that violent overthrow is another form of authoritarianism, and he has never feared to call out others who style themselves "anarchist" yet call the police for their own protection or sue people, using the court system, for their own ends. Samples provided if you dig deep enough. A few years back he got very sick, but never had insurance. He managed to get his procedure on the donations of people who spread the word, as he faced off with the local hospital which, knowing his reputation, basically treated him like a dirtbag and refused him even CHARITY services they were known for.

Regular readers familiar with The Match! are familiar with the sections of the magazine "Evil Empire Notes" - collection of how Big Brother is and has been sneaking up on everybody. "Who The Police Beat" - a listing of national police atrocities since last issue, and the "World's Largest Letters Section" which is, literally as described including responses that pull no punches when Fred thinks you're doin' it wrong.

The Match! - A Journal of Ethical Anarchism is something I never figured would have survived all the years since I was a "student activist" in the anti-war movement back in the day. But here it is. Often 75 pages an issue.

Considering all the things and ideas that have passed my way since lo those many years ago, I can't tell you how absolutely refreshing it has been to pick up Fred's work.

I may only agree with 65-80% of what he says. But you have to love a guy who lives like he yaps. Or at least as much as possible considering the world as it is.

If only to read some good old school anarchist philosophy (and the "Technical Topics" in the back of the zine explaining how to keep yourself off the grid) it is worth any donation you can make.

And Fred will NEVER see this. He doesn't have a computer, remember?


Avitable said...

But people without computers aren't really people, are they?

RW said...

I guess not. Presumably guys with boas are though I guess? :-)

Avitable said...

Heh. Totally. Them's the rules.

Brian said...

Lots of guys down around there living off the grid. I used to run into some of them while hiking and biking in the desert. Didn't know any of them were doing anything like this, though...

RW said...

I'd recommend a read Brian. It's dense, but I have trouble putting it down. I really do.

sybil law said...

I definitely want to get it. Thanks, RW!

I wish I had the balls to live off the grid.