Norm Fruchter: Live Like Him!!

January 6, 2023

Saddened to learn of the death of Norm Fruchter, an old comrade and friend.
I met Norm in the early 1960s—he had co-founded the Newark Community Union Project (NCUP) with Tom Hayden and other radical community organizers from Students for a Democratic Society, and I was organizing in a sister project, the East Side Community Union in Cleveland. Norm was a film-maker with the alternative group Newsreel, a novelist, a teacher, an activist, and a brilliant educational innovator.

He was an inspiration, he made the world a better place, and he was loved.

Thinking of Heather and his family now.

Rest in Power, Norm!


January 4, 2023

Out With the Old!

December 30, 2022

So long 2022!
Hello 2023, and whatever’s next!

I was thinking about a time years ago when I was arrested with countless others in a chaotic street-fight with the police on Michigan Avenue, and packed into a crowded police van rushing headlong toward Cook County Jail, I was full of energy and hope—in fact I felt a little ecstatic. We had not backed down, and we had not run away. We had stood up for peace and freedom, and we’d conveyed our urgent message to a vast audience. The whole world was watching that night, and in that dark and stuffy van, with a bloodied head, I felt myself breathing the refreshing air of freedom.
I think that experience reveals a paradox at the heart of freedom—we’re most free precisely when we’re in the act of naming an obstacle to our own (or our neighbor’s) full humanity—our freedom. That moment may appear obstructed or fraught or dangerous or troubling—and, in fact, it may be all of that. And yet, freedom heaves into view exactlywhen the brutal wall of unfreedom is identified—enslavement, subjugation, abuse, cruelty, persecution, exploitation, prison, oppression—and then opposed, shoulder-to-shoulder with others in an effort to prevail over unfreedom. Identifying and naming injustice, organizing and agitating against it in the company of comrades, breaching barricades and overcoming barriers—that’s where freedom explodes onto the scene and comes to life as three-dimensional, vivid, trembling, and real.
Frederick Douglass describes a moment when he refused to allow himself to be beaten by his master, and, risking death, fought back. Without any assurances of success, Douglass fought the man to a standoff and defended himself successfully—intentionally resisting the temptation to severely bloody or hurt the man. Amazingly Douglass was not punished. When he reflected on the encounter, Douglass wrote, “I was nothing before; I was a man now…After resisting him, I felt as I had never felt before. It was resurrection…I had reached the point where I was not afraid to die. This spirit made me a freeman in fact.When a slave cannot be flogged, he is more than half free.
Douglass had expressed himself openly, fully, and authentically; he had removed the servile mask of compliance. Through fighting back, he had openly named unfreedom, resisted it, and felt suddenly resurrected—exhilarated, intoxicated, energized. Although still enslaved, Douglass had tasted freedom.
This is my hope and my resolution for 2023: to breathe the air of freedom as often as possible by going into battle hand-in-hand with the Freedom Fighters.

Abolish the prisons!
Defund the police!
Build a world of joy and justice, peace and love for all!

I am 78!

December 25, 2022

In Our Lifetime: A birthday rhyme

Seventy-eight trips around the sun,

More to do—so much undone.

My 79th tour begins today,

I plan to work, to fight, to play.

Our deepening crises seek a far-reaching solution,

To start, let’s make an anarchist/socialist revolution.

OK, OK—I’m no poet. But the sentiment is real. I was born in 1944, at the dawn of what scientists who examine the timeline of the Earth—Precambrian, Paleozoic and so on and so on—now are calling the Anthropocene. This is the era characterized by dramatic human-induced, planetary-scale changes. I was born just months before the unleashing of nuclear weapons and the mass murder of the people of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and just before the revelations of Dachau and  Auschwitz, mass murder at an industrial scale. I’ve lived in the shadow of those monstrous events for my entire life, and they have become metaphors for the possible fate of the Earth. A century ago common sense said that Nature was too big—the ocean infinite, the atmosphere boundless—to react to any human influence. Anyone who believes that today is delusional—blinded by the ruling-class ideology of the “free market.” The collision with a giant asteroid did away with the dinosaurs, but human impact may prove to be a much greater threat to life on Earth. An insanely myopic and antisocial sense of “freedom” is incessantly invoked to fuel the Death Star. We must resist, rise up—we have a world to win.


December 17, 2022

ONLY two more days to vote…

…for Mother Country Radicals in the election (below).

PLEEEEZE help by posting and emailing friends and colleagues, far and wide. Tell everyone to vote.

Zayd is first in one category, and tied for first in the other.


Also of interest: the pdf below is a review from Vanity Fair.


Mother Country Radicals was nominated for the Signal Award in both Documentary and Best WritingWinners are determined by public vote, so PLEASE VOTE in BOTH categories and share widely!

Vanity Fair loves Mother Country Radicals

December 16, 2022

Rachel! Rachel!

December 15, 2022

UNDER the TREE (please subscribe, review, and spread the word)

December 15, 2022

New Podcast Episode!
In our final episode for 2022, we speak with @helen.shiller.
In her autobiography, “Daring to Struggle, Daring to Win”, @helen.shiller captures what it means to engage in justice work. Her decades of work exemplify the potential of an insider/outsider approach to social change.
The Under the Tree family wish you and your Beloveds a year of joy, justice, peace and love. See you in 2023!


December 14, 2022

Free Julian!!!

December 13, 2022