Letters of Insurgents

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1976

People

(1934 - 1985)
Fredy Perlman (August 20, 1934 – July 26, 1985) was an American author, publisher, professor, and activist. His most popular work, the book Against His-Story, Against Leviathan!, details the rise of state domination with a retelling of history through the Hobbesian metaphor of the Leviathan. Though Perlman detested ideology and claimed that the only "-ist" he would respond to was "cellist," his work as an author and publisher has been influential on modern anarchist thought. (From : Wikipedia.org.)

Sections

This document contains 21 sections, with 439,159 words or 2,466,114 characters.


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Yarostan’s first letter Dear Sophia, Forgive me for addressing you familiarly, as a friend; I have no way of knowing if you’re still the person I once knew. I can’t remember the sound of your voice, the shape of your face or the feel of your hand. I vaguely remember admiring the energy and intelligence in someone so young, but I regret that you didn’t leave a lasting mark, you didn’t become my guide in my journey through hell. I wouldn’t even remember your name if you hadn’t written me twelve years ago. My wife Mirna memorized the name and address on the envelope because she attributed a strange power to your letter. Unfortunately I never saw that letter and never learned its contents. Part of my reason for writing you now is that the activities of our omnipotent and omniscient police have been blocked. Letters aren’t being read by the eagle-eye... (From : TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)

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Sophia’s first letter Dear Yarostan, What a marvelous surprise! Surely you remember Luisa. She was all excited when she came with your letter last night. Sabina and Tina, my house-mates, were both home. Luisa hadn’t ever been in our house before. We spent the evening and most of the night reading and rereading your letter, reliving our past for Tina’s sake, discussing events we’ve never discussed before. We were all amazed to learn how many years you’d spent in prison and we were deeply moved by the contrast between your beautiful letter and the miserable life you’ve led. Luisa and I traveled twenty years backward in time, reconstructing the world of experience we shared with you. I still regard that experience as the key to my whole life. Luisa had lived through such significant events before, but for me the days I spent with you have always been unique. A... (From : TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)

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Yarostan’s second letter Dear Sophia, My picture of you was hazy when I wrote you last time but now I remember you as if I had been with you only yesterday. No one who had known you twenty years ago could fail to recognize you. You wrote me a warm, comradely letter. I’d like to answer in the same spirit. I’d like at least to be polite. But twenty years have passed. Everyone around me has changed. Your picture of yourself as you are today is disturbingly similar to the person you thought you were twenty years ago. What I recognize in your letter is not the event we experienced together but an event we never experienced. I wrote to a living person and was answered by an imaginary person celebrating an event that never took place. I admit that I once shared the illusion your letter celebrates. Twenty years ago you and I were like children who saw a group of people digging in a field and ran... (From : TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)

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Sophia’s second letter Dear Yarostan, Your letter was cruel. You were obviously aware of that. It doesn’t call for an answer. It’s the last word. Victims don’t share their experiences with their executioners. That’s clear. Why should they? Since you’ve defined me that way, I’m surprised your letter was so long! Why didn’t you communicate exactly the same message by not answering me at all? Why did you feel you owed an explanation to that type of person? You can’t possibly imagine what a sad experience your second letter was for me. If you can then you’re even crueler than your letter. For countless years I dreamed of finding you, of sharing a project with you once again, of telling you what I’d experienced since I was with you, of comparing it with what you experienced; if I failed to see you again I hoped I’d at least reach you with o... (From : TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)

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Yarostan’s third letter Dear Sophia, Your letter was comradely and. I’ll try to answer in the same spirit. But I don’t agree with you. You make the statement: “Our project was not to excommunicate but to communicate.” This is a bad joke. I’ll try to show you that our project was to excommunicate, not to communicate. I read your letter several times. Mirna read it. She’s still convinced you’re the ogre who caused my arrest but she now considers you a rather pleasant ogre. She even expressed a desire to get together with you and Sabina if circumstances should ever allow such a meeting. But she thought the passages where you glorify your past experience must have been taken from the speeches of our politicians. Mirna and I were stunned to learn certain facts from your letter. I was amazed to learn that George Alberts had not been arrested at the ti... (From : TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)

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Sophia’s third letter Dear Yarostan, You should be happy to learn that Sabina’s comment after she read your letter was, “He’s absolutely right.” With this comment, Sabina lit a fuse on a stick of dynamite. Her comment gave rise to a discussion that lasted all night and to some of the most bitter arguments I’ve ever experienced. During this discussion Sabina and Tina forced me to admit that I did actually make a choice of the type you described, a choice between Luisa and Ron, between the pedagogy you condemn and the “individual act of rebellion” you glorify. I had invited Luisa to supper as soon as your letter came. She read the letter as soon as she arrived but the only comment she made during supper was, “Be sure to tell him how pleased I was to hear about Jasna.” Tina read the letter when she got home from her job. W... (From : TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)

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Yarostan’s fourth letter Dear Sophia, The arrival of your letter coincided with Jasna Zbrkova’s first visit to our house. Jasna, Mirna and I read your letter simultaneously; each of us waited anxiously for the others to finish a page and pass it on. Each of us was fascinated, surprised, disappointed and angered by your account. My situation has changed considerably since I last wrote you. I’ve gone back to work at the carton plant. As a result Yara now does most of the housework as well as the cooking. On the day your letter came Jasna helped Yara prepare a surprise banquet for Mirna and me, to celebrate a victorious “strike” that had just taken place at their school. When Jasna started to read your letter she exclaimed, “They remember me!” She was flattered. But the more she read the more confused she became. “I had never known what had happene... (From : TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)

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Yarostan’s ninth letter Dear Sophia, Your letter was as painful to read as it must have been to write. How can everything be over? How can workers without illusions about unions march back to work hailing their union’s “victories”? How can a population that just woke up be back asleep? We’ve been hearing rumors of an imminent invasion, of tanks massing at our borders, but those rumors disturb us infinitely less than the knowledge that “normal” life has resumed in your part of the world. We had begun to take it for granted that our fellow human beings in other parts of the globe were engaged in acts similar to our own. The council office and the commune, the occupied research center, the spreading general strike, had all become part of the geography of our world. You couldn’t have shocked us more if you had told us a continent had sunk. I was fas... (From : TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)

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Sophia’s fourth letter Dear Yarostan, So much has happened since I sent you my last letter and most of it has confirmed your statement that you and I live in completely different worlds. I have no idea what place you would occupy in my world and you can’t know what place I’d occupy in yours. It certainly wouldn’t be the place you assign me! I admit I was shocked by what Jasna told about the people I’ve regarded as my comrades. I was particularly shocked by the ruthlessness and inhumanity with which Marc and Vera attained their bureaucratic goals. But I don’t have even a shred of sympathy for the path they took. Nothing in me could have accepted, or even drifted in. the direction in which they moved. Your characterization of me fails. I didn’t identify with Marc, Vera or Adrian and I obviously didn’t identify with Claude. If I identified with anyone in Jasna&r... (From : TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)

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Yarostan’s fifth letter Dear Sophia, Your letter arrived yesterday. Mirna and I both read it before sitting down to the supper Yara had prepared for us. Yara was annoyed. “After the way she insulted you last time I wouldn’t think you’d skip supper to read another one of her letters.” Mirna told Yara, “It’s a very moving letter, Yara; you and Sophia have a lot in common.” I felt this too. For the first time since the beginning of our correspondence I was able to recognize myself in you. This isn’t only because you used my arguments or Zdenek’s in your quarrel with your friend Daman but because your letter made me aware of similarities in our experiences and outlooks. I now feel I should apologize for the way I treated your earlier letters. I did treat you as an outsider, as a person with whom I couldn’t communicate about my pres... (From : TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)

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Sophia’s fifth letter Dear Yarostan, Your letter was beautiful. I wish I had joined you at the time of the Magarna uprising instead of having Lem take you my silly letters. I have a little bit more in common with you now than I did when I last wrote you. I’ve just come out of jail! A few days after the so-called “general strike” which I attended with Daman, a loud noise woke me at seven in the morning. At first I thought it was thunder; a storm was raging outside. Then I heard it again: a loud, insistent knocking. I ran to the door in a stupor and opened it. Two huge uniformed policemen stood in front of me, both grasping the handles of the guns in their holsters! “Mrs. Nachalo?” one of them asked. “Miss Nachalo. Which one? There are three of us here.” My first thought was that something horrible had happened to Tina,... (From : TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)

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Yarostan’s sixth letter Dear Sophia, Your honest and moving letter embarrasses and shames me. I’m ashamed because I haven’t been as open in my letters to you. I’m embarrassed by your declarations of your love for me. I can’t honestly tell you that I feel or ever felt a similar emotion toward you. I failed to make this clear to you at the very beginning of our correspondence, at a time when I was nothing more to you than a one-time friend you hadn’t seen in twenty years, a stranger to whom you hadn’t yet bared the secrets of your life. My only excuse is that I’m not in the habit of expressing my emotions with words; my life’s experiences haven’t been fertile ground for the development of such an ability. I realize that by trying to be honest and complete at such a late hour I’ll be inflicting pain which I could have spared you if I had made the attempt soo... (From : TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)

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Sophia’s sixth letter Dear Yarostan, I couldn’t wait to write. I haven’t heard from you since I last wrote you because I haven’t been home for a week, not even to pick up my mail. I’ve spent the past week in the “commune” inside the occupied university, and I love it here. I’ve been dying to find time to tell you about it and also to finish my previous letter; it got so long that I skipped half of what I wanted to say and I didn’t deal with any of the questions you’d asked me. I’ll tell you about the commune first. Everything I’ve ever wanted seems to be happening all around me. Thanks to Tina I got into the midst of it all just as it began. I pinch myself several times a day just to make sure I’m not dreaming. And I’m still not completely sure. What’s happening here at this moment is exactly what I long... (From : TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)

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Yarostan’s seventh letter Dear Sophia, Your letter was marvelous. Jasna and Zdenek were both here yesterday sharing it with us, celebrating the events that have started unfolding around you. For once we received your letter in the spirit in which you wrote it. I was relieved that you hadn’t received my previous letter before you set out on your adventure in the Commune and the Council. The depressed mood in which I wrote it wouldn’t have contributed anything positive to your exciting experiences. I regret much of what I said in that letter. I now have an opposite admission to make to you. I was very moved when you said you were waiting for me to walk into your “council office.” If such an expedition should ever be undertaken, I’ll be the first to volunteer and of course I’ll bring Yara and Mirna along as well as Jasna and Zdenek. I love you, too, Sophia; we all do; you’ve... (From : TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)

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Sophia’s seventh letter Dear Yarostan, You’ll never guess where I am. Outside there’s a general strike. Everything is out of commission. Literally everything: fact ones, offices, transportation vehicles, even taxis — everything except the telephones, and a radio station that’s been taken over by the police. I ought to be in the council office, or in the research center where Tissie and Sabina are conquering the whole universe, or somewhere in the midst of all the excitement. But I’m sitting at my desk in Luisa’s house, writing you on the ancient typewriter I inherited from George Alberts when he left. I’m surprised it still works; it’s the machine on which I was going to type up my novel about you and Ron Matthews as soon as I organized all my notes. Luisa cleaned the room so thoroughly after Art moved out that there was no trace of anyone’s having been here si... (From : TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)

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Yarostan’s eighth letter Dear Sophia, Your victory is complete. I never dreamed the passion you just described lay below the surface of the person I knew twenty years ago. I was wrong. My outlook didn’t allow me to see below the surface. I was near-sighted; I still am. Mirna, Yara, your letter, all the events taking place around me are making me suspect I’ve been viewing the world through opaque glass. The frame of reference I acquired from Titus and Luisa and from comrades I met during two long prison terms suddenly seems inadequate; real people seem to move outside its boundaries. More is breaking down and more is rising up than I’m able to take m. Perhaps I never dreamed of anything more than a different system of constraint. I had not envisioned the wealth of potentiality, the passion bursting out of individuals who suddenly lost their chains. Total lack of constraint appealed to me as a conc... (From : TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)

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Sophia’s eighth letter Dear Yarostan, I don’t know how to begin. I can’t bring myself to tell you what happened here, i can’t even make myself believe it. It’s over! Everything is over. The sun we saw on the horizon didn’t rise! It’s as if everything that happened during the past few weeks was a dream, as if nothing at all had happened. It’s worse than that. It’s as if we were all dead and had come to life only long enough to dream we were alive. I’m home with Sabina in a world that hasn’t changed. We haven’t been able to find Tina. Pat or Tissie. Ted is in jail. And I can’t continue writing this letter because my eyes are so full of tears I can’t see. I’m trying again a day later. Your letter has been with us for a week. Sabina and I discussed everything in it several times. But i simply c... (From : TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)

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Sophia’s ninth letter Dear Yarostan, Or should I address my letter to “Poor Yarostan”? As I read your letter I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. I’m certainly not the one who has any right to pass judgment on you. Thank you for not waiting two weeks to write me. In two weeks you would have figured everything out, you would have seemed so sure of yourself, and I wouldn’t have had a chance to see you as I’ve never seen you before: lost, confused, unsure of yourself. I felt much closer to you than I ever had before. For the first time since we’ve written to each other you weren’t my life’s hero but someone like me, someone who is drifting and waiting, who isn’t quite included in the activities of those closest to him. I see now that it makes sense for you and me to be writing to each other; we have much more in common with each other than either of us do... (From : TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)

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Yarostan’s last letter Dear Sophia, I don’t deserve your pity. I’ve been blind. For over twenty years I’ve been nothing more than an apologist for a repressive ideology. You tell me you don’t have a vantage point from which to criticize my attitudes. The events I experienced here yesterday convinced me I never had a vantage point from which to debunk what I called your “illusions,” or Luisa’s for that matter. I parted with my own illusions far more stubbornly than you parted with yours. Jasna and I had to experience one shock after another before either of us were willing to admit we were wrong, and had always been wrong, about Titus Zabran. The extent to which we were wrong went far beyond Mirna’s or Yara’s dreams. I can now answer all the questions you and Sabina have been asking for the past few months. I can now tell you why Titus didn’t mention to me... (From : TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)

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Sophia’s last letter Dear Yarostan, I gagged as I read about Zabran’s self-exposure and suicide. On the surface some kind of monster died, a monster that left so many corpses in its train. I was horrified when I recognized the monster in myself and in those closest to me, those who gave my life its only meaning and goal, those who helped define my life’s search. My very dreams were contaminated by the monstrosity he stood for: the will to impose mental constructs on living people — which as Zdenek so perceptively pointed out can only be done by means of “historically available” instruments: guns, tanks, police and armies. You once pointed to a split in my life, the split between my “academic and journalistic world” and the “world of Sabina and the garage.” You included yourself in the latter world. I think the line you drew has to be re-drawn. I t...

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Postscript: For the reader My last letter returned two months after I sent it. Yarostan’s address was completely covered by a large blot of opaque ink, and an arrow pointed to my address. There were no explanations anywhere on the envelope; in fact, there was no indication my letter had gotten any further than the local post office where the stamps were canceled, there was no clue as to who had returned it or why. During the past eight years I haven’t heard a single word from Yarostan or Mirna or Yara or Jasna. The “police capitalism” that imposed itself by means of its “historically available instruments” still rules today. I held on to Yarostan’s letters and the carbon copies of mine; occasionally I shared them with friends. Several years ago one of those who read them suggested I share them with a larger circle of friends. I hesitated because there was too much in them that could incriminate people whose liv... (From : TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)

Chronology

1976 :
Letters of Insurgents -- Publication.

April 26, 2020 ; 12:05:45 PM (America/Los_Angeles) :
Added to https://www.RevoltLib.com.

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