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Penn Magazine November 2017

The inaugural issue of Penn Magazine

“I seek to collaborate

“I seek to collaborate with the brilliant upcoming thinkers and revolutionaries, almost all prisoners. These writers are beaten and tortured, gassed and shot – and forced into the psychological torture chambers of the control units. What is going on is a war on the truth and these are the front lines.” ... and the walls came tumbling down Prison Whisperer Anthony Rayson, former Chicago freeway toll-booth operator, talks to the people we never even see, those locked away tight in America’s prisons Friday The New American Dream Interview [From 2009, The New American Dream website, before The New American Dream Radio show] Anthony Rayson, age 55, lives in Chicago. He is a south side anarchist organizer, writer and editor. Anthony publishes zines. He runs the South Chicago ABC Zine Distro. He recently donated a collection of zines to DePaul University. He works closely with prisoners, often publishing their writing and artwork. “I seek to collaborate with the brilliant upcoming thinkers and revolutionaries, almost all prisoners. These writers are beaten and tortured, gassed and shot – and forced into the psychological torture chambers of the control units. What is going on is a war on the truth and these are the front lines.” ________________________ NAD: Anthony, welcome, thank you for taking the time for this. Why are you so interested in prisoners? 26/Penn Magazine/November 2017 Have you even been a prisoner? Any of your friends, or family members? Were you born an anarchist, or how did that all come about? Anthony Rayson: First of all, greetings and thank you for thinking of me for this interview. I don’t live in Chicago, but rather about forty miles south, where the suburbs melt into the cornfields. I guess I’m one of the rare few, who actually gives a damn about how people are treated, am very keen on discovering the heavy truth, detest injustice and make it my business to find the well-written insight from this country’s most oppressed. As a writer and serious anarchist, I look to collaborate with the most brilliant and explosive revolutionary thinkers of today and have found this rare breed almost exclusively penned up in the Amerikan gulag archipelago. I feel the prisons are the black hole of society where all the injustices are magnified. It’s where the enemies and victims of the American government are forced to dwell. Anarchists don’t believe in authority or prisons. So to me, this is ground zero in the struggle here at home. I have a little saying: “The world gets bombs, we get bars!” I’ve been amazingly unscathed as far as incarceration goes. Oh sure, when I was a kid, a was thrown in the drunk tank a few times and even spent ten days once in the county jail out in Reno, Nevada in 1973. I had a trial for a piddling pot rap

where the judge threatened me with six years, but I got probation, instead. My family has also avoided prison, although one of my brothers was incarcerated in a mental prison for six years. He’s SSI & quite debilitated to this day. He’s strung out on several powerful drugs he was forced to become addicted to. I’ve had friends go to prison. One dear friend O.D-ed on heroin, so as to avoid going back to prison. He had violated probation by giving dirty drug tests. He left a two-year old daughter … We raised a fund for her college education. As for being an anarchist, maybe I was “born” an anarchist because I’ve always been a fierce freethinker. But, it wasn’t until I was in my forties that I finally realized that I was a dead serious anarchist. Anthony Rayson I’d always sort of felt myself to be a Marxist communist but could never feel comfortable in that. I never joined any party. I appreciated their anti-capitalist analysis but could not make myself swallow their acceptance of communist tyranny. Not until the mid-90’s when I managed to get my mitts on some serious anarchist tracts, did I come to the epiphany that yes, indeedy, I’m one of “them.” Once, I came to cut through all the lies I’ve been told about “anarchists” and analyzed what they were actually saying, I felt very comfortable calling myself an anarchist and this identification with anarchist ideals has propelled me into a pedal to the metal mindset ever since. For, really, anarchism is just the advanced studies of giving a damn and that’s what I was looking for all along. Mutual aid, solidarity, consensus decision-making, direct action, doit-yourself self-motivation, equality, liberty, anti-authoritarianism, an end to all prisons – these concepts simply rock and allow for unlimited avenues for agitation/education and the thrilling actualization of one’s life. What could be more awesome than fighting for humanity, unfettered by any oppressive authoritarian mode of thinking, be they political, social or religious? The only real requirement is that you can’t lie about anything, can’t take advantage of anyone or anything and you go about your business with a respect for humanity – based on your own interpretation of what is the right thing to do. Humanist social interaction is the natural desire of each of us, once we realize what we truly want. So, yeah, that was totally liberating for me. NAD: Why the zine collection? How do you pay for it? Who reads it? What does it accomplish? What do you hope to accomplish? Anthony: The zine collection at DePaul is a collection of all the zines I’ve made available to others through my distro, perhaps 500 different November 2017/Penn Magazine/27

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