No Gods, No Dungeon Masters

No Gods, No Dungeon Masters Cover

A short review of the comic and an interview with the author.

Comic Credits:
Words: Ion O’Clast
Art: Rachel Dukes
Cover: Andy Warner

This comic had me from the cover. First of course the imagery of a cop car crushed by a d20. Well, hell yes, I’m going to read this. Happily I can say there is a lot to like in this short little comic.

I really don’t want to give away too much of the content, but I’ll share a little. For me this is such a nice summary of why I think projects like AGR are important in our radical space. The comic follows the narrator’s journey through subcultures talking about how each group has informed them. (I just realized I’m using narrator here. I assume it’s Ion, but I forgot to ask.) The idea of fantasy as an escape from anarchism was one that hit close to home for me, but also the idea that fantasy provides us with tools to inform our anarchism.

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Jurassic World (2015)

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Director: Colin Trevorrow

Writers: Rick Jaffa, Amanda Silver, Colin Trevorrow, Derek Connolly, Michael Crichton

Recommended? This movie has dinosaurs in it.

So I know for people who go to movie theaters this movie is old already or whatever, but as far as I’m concerned it’s a new release because I just found it on The Pirate Bay.

Jurassic World is full of hot dinosaurs I’d totally love to know in the biblical sense and they all run around this island and go totally jurassic on all these fucking tourists. There are like, flying velociraptors and shit. If you want to watch that happen, which you do, you’re going to have to turn your pop-culture blinders up to 11.

The protagonist is this action hero dude who was probably genetically engineered to be part velociraptor which is why he’s as smart as one, and the antagonist is this giant T-Rex who was definitely genetically engineered to be part velociraptor which is why he’s as smart as one too.

And these two guys — the human guy and the dinosaur guy — they’re fighting over who gets to be the alpha of the pack of actual velociraptors.
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Under the Dome, Seasons 1-3

under the dome

Under the Dome

Seasons 1-3

CBS, 2013-2015

Created by: Brian K. Vaughan and Stephen King

Based on: Under the Dome by Stephen King

Recommended? Not even remotely.

It was such an intriguing premise. A small town, and its surrounding farmland, is suddenly sealed off from the rest of the world by an impenetrable dome. My mind reeled with possibilities and questions. Can they learn to live sustainably? Will they do away with conventional government and currency systems? Will they form collectives? Will they organize by consensus? I have a crapload of laundry to do — will I at least have an entertaining binge watch while sorting and folding? The answer to all these questions was a painful no.

Should you wish to share my pain, or judge for yourself, Under the Dome is a CBS series readily available on CBS.com, Amazon Prime, and DVD. Be warned though, this show is just good enough in its early episodes to make you keep watching for a long, life-sucking ride.
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Final Fantasy VI

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Final Fantasy VI

Released in the US as: Final Fantasy III

Squaresoft, 1994

Recommended? Looking for an outlet to satisfy your craving to join an anti-Imperialist, anti-technology, underground resistance movement? Then yes. Like games with interesting stories and challenging, unique gameplay? Then yes. Seeking deep political analysis, insight into intersections of oppression, or some straight-up anarchy? Then maybe, maybe not.

Final Fantasy VI (FFVI) — originally released as Final Fantasy III in the US — is a legendary roleplaying game for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System. It is considered by some to be the best RPG of all time, and I can see why. It’s got a fun, dynamic story; over 14 playable characters, many with their own unique attributes; unforgettable music; character and gameplay customization that allow for new experiences in every playthrough; and some righteous, though mostly superficial, politics.

Because this game has been glowingly reviewed so many times for its gameplay mechanics and character development, I’m going to focus on the aspects of the game that you all came here for: resistance to government oppression, and anti-civ fanfare.

Warning: The rest of this review contains hella spoilers.
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The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 (2014)

Mockingjay

Directed by: Francis Lawrence

Screenplay by: Danny Strong and Peter Craig

Based on: Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

Recommended? Sure

I’ve only read the first Hunger Games book. That either makes me the perfect reviewer for the movies, or maybe a woefully incompetent one. It does mean, however, that I’m taking the movies one at a time, because I don’t know what happens.

I know it makes me a bad anarchist to say this, but the worst thing about the third part of the Hunger Games is that there aren’t any hunger games. It’s just a movie about revolution instead. Considering that the hunger games are an awful thing and revolutions are something us anarchists are known for encouraging, this is a strange statement. But frankly, the battle royale under the omniscient gaze of an evil dictator made for good fiction.

Revolution can too, it turns out. I liked the movie, but it was decidedly less fun, and in so many ways less spectacular, than the first two. It was just, well, a completely different thing. Which is better than just making the same movie three times, I suppose, from a storytelling point of view. So I’ll forgive it.
Continue reading The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 (2014)

Land and Freedom (1995)

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Land and Freedom

Director: Ken Loach

Writer: Jim Allen

Recommended? Definitely.

Fucking Stalinists.

Fuck.

Fucking Stalinists are the worst.

Land and Freedom is an emotional tale of the Spanish Civil War, one that’s based loosely on George Orwell’s experiences as recounted in his book Homage to Catalonia. It follows a young unemployed communist from England who heads off to volunteer his life for the Spanish revolution, fighting at the Aragon front alongside the men and women of the POUM, a Marxist militia. There, despite poor training and poorer equipment, they liberate a village from fascists and hold the line.

The most important scene in the movie, twelve minutes long, is the argument in the liberated village whether to collectivize all of the land around the village immediately or to only collectivize the land of the Franco supporters at first. Everyone speaks passionately, everyone’s opinions are given weight and consideration by the filmmaker.
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The Anarchist Cookbook (2002)

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The Anarchist Cookbook
Directed and written by: Jordan Susman
Recommended? hahaha no

It’s a good thing most of the movies about us are absolute crap and no one watches them.

What if someone took everything awful about Fight Club (the machismo and misogyny, the too-easy political nihilism, the cliche masochistic bromance) and mixed it with everything awful about SLC Punk (the oversimplification of anarchism, the obvious fact that youth doesn’t last, the yay-for-selling-out ending), amplified it, and turned it into a movie?

You’d have The Anarchist Cookbook.

The Anarchist Cookbook is the worst movie about anarchists that has ever been made. Some movies misunderstand us (SLC Punk). Some movies vilify us (El Bosc). Some movies condescend to us (The East, No God, No Master). This movie intentionally warps our words and practices, alternately mocking us and reviling us.
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Slacker (1991)

Slacker

Slacker

Directed and written by: Richard Linklater

Recommended? Sure

Kevin Smith says that Slacker was the inspiration for his film Clerks. It shows. And more than that, it shows what happens time and time again in art and media: first, political radicals and engaged philosophers create new styles and genres; then, derivative work picks up the aesthetics and surface-level ephemera and leaves the core behind.
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The Anarchist’s Wife (2008)

la mujer del anarquista

The Anarchist’s Wife

Directed by: Peter Sehr, Marie Noëlle

Screenplay by: Marie Noëlle, Ray Loriga

Spanish title: La mujer del anarquista

Recommended? Yes

“Sing softly for love, sing loudly for freedom.”

Some of the best films use war and politics as backdrop to tell a story that isn’t about war. The Anarchist’s Wife is one such film.

I heard about this movie when it came out, but with a title like The Anarchist’s Wife, I wasn’t hopping up and down to go see it. Why is the film about the wife but she’s only known in relation to her husband? Why is he the anarchist and her just a wife?
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Ingress

Ingress

Niantic Labs, 2013

Recommended? Yes, and it’s complicated.

Observation and Analysis of Revolutionary Tactics Being Unintentionally Transmitted via Video Games: Ingress as a Tool

While I have observed many useful skills and tactics being transmitted through games, particularly tabletop RPGs, I’m focusing in Ingress in this piece.

Ingress is an alternate reality game based on Google Maps. If you are interested in a more detailed description of the game itself that includes some of the lore I recommend checking out the wikipedia page. The game mechanics depend on visiting real-world locations, called “portals” in game, and interacting with them within the app on your phone. There are two teams competing for control of the portals physical turf along with magical in-game “mind units,” or how many human minds you are controlling within the territory you have claimed. Ingress is a massively multiplayer game with a lot of social and technological aspects I will get into in a bit here. The two teams are cleverly labeled, with the Resistance being the over-populated team with conservative leanings and the pretentiously-named Enlightened being the smaller, more agile, forward thinking early-adopter-of-alien-technology team (that is also possibly serving as alien overlord snack foods / tools / skinsuits). I’m going to split this piece into two sections; the first on the useful skills unintentionally taught and how they relate to revolution and horizontal organization, the second on the dangers and wider consequences of the game itself.
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