Colin Ward – The Practice of Freedom. Filmed interview by Paolo Cottino (FILM)

The Practice of Freedom, a wide-ranging filmed interview with anarchist theorist Colin Ward (1924-2010), recorded in 2003 by Paolo Cottino.

Colin Ward, author of Anarchy in Action (1973) and over thirty other books, believed that an anarchist society was not an end goal. Following Alexander Herzen, the writer and thinker known as the “father of Russian socialism”, Colin saw all distant goals as a form of tyranny and believed that anarchist principles could be discerned in everyday human relations and impulses. Within this perspective, politics was about strengthening -co-operative -relations and supporting human ingenuity in its myriad vernacular and everyday form. One of his favourite metaphors – adopted from a novel by Ignazio Silone – was the image of the seed beneath the snow, which suggested to him that anarchist principles were ever alive and prescient. He thought it was the work of politics to nurture such beliefs and to support them through small-scale initiatives, avoiding the temptation to replicate or scale them up to a level beyond which professional bureaucracies take over. He was fond of contrasting the vocabulary of self-organisation, with its friendly societies, mutuals, co-operatives and voluntary associations, with the nomenclature of the state and private sectors with their directorates, corporations, boards  and executives

This interview (see FILMS) was filmed in 2003 by Paolo Cottino and produced by the Centro Studi Libertari/Archivio Giuseppe Pinelli di Milano for their recent exhibition/meeting “Anarchia come organizzazione – Ricordando Colin Ward” (Milano, 30 maggio 2010)

LECTURES AND ESSAYS BY COLONEL ROBERT GREEN INGERSOLL, 1833-1899 (Audio and Text)

Colonel Robert Green Ingersoll (1833–1899), a tireless crusader for the dignity of humanity, a relentless opponent of organised religion and a defender of atheism, was one of the most famous and influential political orators of the 19th century. This series of stimulating and well-argued audio lectures (read by Ted Delorme for LibriVox) question, among other subjects, the origins and justification for gods and religion. Laden with irony and wit, Ingersoll makes the case that a rational outlook cannot be reconciled with a dogmatic (religious) mind. With institutionalised religion such a hot topic given the imminent visit of Pope Benedict XVI to Britain (16-19 September 2010) these challenging and entertaining public lectures make fascinating listening. As public lectures and great oratory, Ingersoll’s arguments definitely benefit from being heard rather than read.

FOREWORD to the COMPLETE WORKS of Robert G. Ingersoll

In presenting to the public this edition of the writings of Colonel Robert G. Ingersoll, it has been the aim to make it as handsome, durable and complete as possible worthy in every way of the valiant, generous, much beloved genius who penned these magical pages. Robert Ingersoll’s tremendous message — one of the most important messages of all time — thunders through these volumes. The orator himself has passed away, but the words that woke America from sleep and stupor ring out as liberty bells for all mankind!

The Age of Enlightenment dawned upon the world in that hour when Robert Ingersoll first delivered his lecture on The Gods, the opening chapter of the first volume. In that hour the darkness of medieval madness and hypocrisy and witchcraft and superstition began to give way. The armies of the Terrible Unseen commenced to melt away into mist. The phantoms and weird horrors which had haunted the imaginations of men faded in the sunshine and sanity of an Emancipator who was the personal friend of Lincoln and did as much for enslaved minds as Lincoln had done for enslaved bodies! Where these books of Ingersoll’s go there will be tranquillity in the spirits of men. He brings peace to troubled minds, courage to frightened hearts. With infinite gaiety and good-humour he builds up the strong fortress of Reason to defend men against the whirlwinds of Superstition. His speeches and writings were originally collected and prepared for publication by his kinsman, C.P. Farrell. At a time when the hosts of the dealers in hob-goblins still made a great shouting against Ingersoll, this man had the courage to be his first “publisher”. All honor to him! Now Mr. Farrell too has passed away, and the legacy which Ingersoll left to mankind, his thoughts and writings, impose a duty on his family and friends. To perpetuate his influence and insure to his fellow-countrymen the easiest and readiest access to his books, the Ingersoll League has been founded. The League feels it is its duty to make Mr. Ingersoll’s victorious point of view available to all who need and crave it. There never was a time when his type of thinking was more needed than to-day! And by preparing this official edition the Ingersoll League hopes to deserve the praise and thanks of all who wish mankind well! The League sends its cordial greeting to all those who are now and later to be benefitted, strengthened, cheered and uplifted by these books. If they are enlightened and helped and stimulated, if their lives are a little freer and happier and more courageous.  — THE INGERSOLL LEAGUE

MP3 AUDIO FILES: LibriVox recording of the Lectures of Col. Robert G. Ingersoll. Read by Ted Delorme.

VOL. 1: Of Gods, Of Gods -2, Ghosts – 1, Ghosts – 2, Hell – 1. Hell – 2, Individuality, Humboldt, Which Way?, The Great Infidels, Talmagian Theology, At the Graveside, Mistakes of Moses, Skulls, Skulls – 2, Response to his Critics, New Departure – 1, New Departure 2

VOL. 2: Thomas Paine, Thomas Paine — 2, Liberty of Man, Woman and Child, Liberty of Man, Woman and Child – 2, Orthodoxy – 1, Orthodoxy – 2, Blasphemy, Some Reasons Why, Intellectual Development, Intellectual Development – 2, Human Rights, Talmagian Theology 2 – 3, Religious Intolerance, Hereafter, Review of His Reviewers, How the Gods Grow, Religion of our Day, Heretics and Heresies – 1, Heretics and Heresies – 2, The Bible, Voltaire, Voltaire – 2, Myth & Miracles, The Chinese God, Is Suicide a Sin?, The Right To One’s Life

COL. R. G. INGERSOLL’S LECTURES (TEXT – GUTENBERG)

COL. R. G. INGERSOLL’S LECTURES (TEXT – INFIDELS)

Atheism: – A Rough History of Disbelief by Jonathan Miller (1-3) (see FILMS)

JONATHAN MILLER’S ATHEISM – A ROUGH HISTORY OF DISBELIEF (see FILMS above)

These three hour-long documentaries are shining examples of the historicity of reason midst the oceans of media absurdity and religious propaganda. So few representatives of atheism provide a compelling and earnest account for unbelief, let alone with the lucidity and intellectual vigour of Jonathan Miller. A sincere and moving attempt to explain and understand the origins of the truth of disbelief of religious superstition and faith.

PART 1 – SHADOWS OF DOUBT: Jonathan Miller visits the absent Twin Towers to consider the religious implications of 9/11 and meets Arthur Miller and the philosopher Colin McGinn. He searches for evidence of the first ‘unbelievers’ in Ancient Greece and examines some of the modern theories around why people have always tended to believe in mythology and magic.

PART 2 – NOUGHTS AND CROSSES: With the domination of Christianity from 500 AD, Jonathan Miller wonders how disbelief began to re-emerge in the 15th and 16th centuries. He discovers that division within the Church played a more powerful role than the scientific discoveries of the period. He also visits Paris, the home of the 18th century atheist, Baron D’Holbach, and shows how politically dangerous it was to undermine the religious faith of the masses.

PART 3 – THE FINAL HOUR: The history of disbelief continues with the ideas of self-taught philosopher Thomas Paine, the revolutionary studies of geology and the evolutionary theories of Darwin. Jonathan Miller looks at the Freudian view that religion is a ‘thought disorder’. He also examines his motivation behind making the series touching on the issues of death and the religious fanaticism of the 21st century.

See FILMS

To the Honorable Miss S… and other stories by Ret Marut a.k.a. B. Traven

TO THE HONORABLE MISS S… AND OTHER STORIES by Ret Marut a.k.a. B. Traven With an introduction by Will Wyatt, Producer of the BBC documentary B. Traven: A Mystery Solved (See FILMS) (Translated from the German by Peter Silcock). Originally published in English by Cienfuegos Press, Sanday, Orkney (1981)

In 1916 Ret Marut, the author who later became famous under the nom de plume of B. Traven, published this collection of fifteen stories under the title TO THE HONOURABLE MISS S … Written during the years when he was an itinerant actor and journalist in Germany before and during World War I, most of these stories first appeared when Marut edited the anti-war journal, Der Ziegelbrenner (The Brickburner), in Munich. They foreshadow many of the themes and philosophy that characterise such great works as The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, The Death Ship, The White Rose, The Bridge in the Jungle, and other novels and stories Traven wrote later in Mexico. This collection includes such tales as “The Story of a Nun,” in which a doctor marries a doomed woman whom he first meets as a ghost, and “The Silk Scarf,” a simple story with an acidulous ending. Other stories deal with such subjects as pretension, fashion, greed, exploitation, and the price of success, all themes that Traven further developed in his subsequent work. The title story, “To the Honourable Miss S…”, is a romantic love story told against the backdrop of trench warfare in World War I. The vivid realism of the war scenes is reminiscent of Enrich Maria Remarque’s All Quiet on the Western Front.

ENDGAME — Pacifying Resistance and Fuck Patience! (Derrick Jensen) (see FILMS)

END:CIV (currently in production) is a film that examines our culture’s addiction to systematic violence and environmental exploitation, and probes the resulting epidemic of poisoned landscapes and shell-shocked nations. Based in part on Endgame, the best-selling book by Derrick Jensen, END:CIV asks: “If your homeland was invaded by aliens who cut down the forests, poisoned the water and air, and contaminated the food supply, would you resist?” The four segments posted on the FILMS player (above)  illustrate why direct action is necessary.

Segment 1: Pacifying Resistance (see FILMS) Some of the most celebrated social justice victories of the 20th century are attributed to the great pacifists of our time, Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King. This constitutes a historical whitewash, as these “victories” were achieved when the state weighed its options and chose the lesser of two evils: the pacifists. In this segment Derrick Jensen, Lierre Keith, Aric Mcbay, Harjap Grewal, Gord Hill and Peter Gelderloos deconstruct the Gandhi myth and show us why militant action plays an important role in movements of resistance. END:CIV examines our culture’s addiction to systematic violence and environmental exploitation, and probes the resulting epidemic of poisoned landscapes and shell-shocked nations. Based in part on Endgame, END:CIV asks: “If your homeland was invaded by aliens who cut down the forests, poisoned the water and air, and contaminated the food supply, would you resist?”

Segment 2: Green Is the Colour of Money (see FILMS): As environmentalism becomes mainstream, corporations and well funded environmental organizations work hand-in-hand to divert the public’s efforts into market driven solutions. With runaway climate change looming in the horizon, we must ask ourselves what are the tactics we are going to use to stop the destruction and take us beyond symbolic gestures.

Segment 3: Fuck Patience (see FILMS above): The final piece from END:CIV is both a reality check and a call to arms. Can we really expect the power structures to change their destructive ways by asking nicely? Do we have unlimited time to stop the destruction of the planet? The answer to both questions is no. If we are serious about defending the biosphere and abolishing the institutions responsible for the hyper exploitation of the land, we have to become a resistance movement and go beyond “feel good” symbolic actions.

Segment 4: Premises 1 – 3 (see FILMS above) Recently the supposed defenders of the environment, A.K.A. the Environmental Non Governmental Organisations or E.N.G.O.s, cut a “deal” with timber industries to protect a large chunk of the boreal forest. On the surface this agreement looks good, but the entire deal was not published, only an abridged version was made available online. Some of the groups that took part of this deal are Greenpeace, the David Suzuki Foundation and Forest Ethics. The one aspect of this “accomplishment” that they are not publicizing is that they struck it without consulting with the First Nations, the original human inhabitants of those lands. As we face increasingly catastrophic environmental destruction, it is imperative that we seek guidance from those who “managed” the environment sustainably for over 10,000 years. These short pieces include a visual interpretation of Derrick Jensen’s Second Premise from ENDGAME: Traditional communities do not often voluntarily give up or sell the resources on which their communities are based until their communities have been destroyed. They also do not willingly allow their landbases to be damaged so that other resources—gold, oil, and so on—can be extracted. It follows that those who want the resources will do what they can to destroy traditional communities.