to help us dream our dreams
The New American
“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.”
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.”
The New American Dream trivia question:
To win a used T-shirt from Mike Palecek’s book tour of 2007-08, be the first one to correctly answer the following. (The shirts are large, black or white, with a variety of anti-Bush messages, probably washed.)
Anthony’s day job is:
a. plays the violin with the Chicago symphony
b. a computer systems analyst for a Chicago-area health system
c. toll booth worker on the Chicago freeway system
d. prison guard
e. mayor of Naperville
NAD: Anthony, welcome, thank you for taking the time for this.
Why are you so interested in prisoners?
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.
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, do-it-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: Do you find hope in Obama? Why? Why not?
Anthony: No I don’t find any “hope” in Obama!
I confronted him, personally in ’06.
I was at a gala dinner at the Conrad Hilton ballroom in downtown Chicago put on by the IEC (Illinois Environmental Council). He was the keynote speaker.
I was at the “activist” table where the real grassroots environmental organizers were sitting – and where the only other three “Black” people in the room besides Barack were at!
Anyway, after his b.s. speech that these Springfield weenies were fawning all over all night about, I got in line to speak with him.
Those in front of me were gushing and getting his autograph.
I shook his hand and said: “I don’t want your autograph. Just tell me how you can consider yourself an ‘environmentalist’ yet still be for this hideous ‘Peotone Airport!?’ Airports, especially unneeded, unwanted ones are an environmental nightmare!”
He said: “We’ll talk.” Needless to say, we’ve never “talked” since no matter how hard I tried to get a hold of him – and I’m the co-founder of STAND (Shut This Airport Nightmare Down), a big and strong grassroots citizens group in this area that’s been fighting this monstrosity for over ten years.
I’m a south sider. I know who Barack Obama is.
He was a non-descript state senator, a sort of quiet toady of the corrupt Emil Jones. He lucked out and skated into the U.S. Senate as his opposition imploded, first Democratic rival and then his Republican opponent – both over the fact they were disgusting wife-abusers.
In his ’06 Senate campaign, he said we might have to bomb Iran’s nuclear facilities – and Pakistan’s!
He did nothing in his two years in Washington, except talk himself up.
He got a hold of the Jackson Rolodex and built a money-making machine based on vague, feel-good nothingness. His transition team is filled with retread Nazis from yesteryear!
Did Colin Powell “make a difference” lying his ass off at the U.N. setting up the bloodbath in Iraq?
Did the coconut-headed Condi Rice give you “hope?”
Hell no! They’re a little more protected from UV rays – that’s it! They’re plugged into this deathship government of sadists and colossal thieves.
Does he have a nice family? Yes, he does. Is he erudite? Yeah, pretty much.
But he’s still a flag-draped menace to the people of Earth. You’ll sadly soon see, when he does bomb Pakistan & so forth.
I wish I could candy coat it better for you, but, that’s the fact, Jack!
But then, I’m not saying his election means nothing.
A lot of people are investing their hope in him. I even felt good that so many people were so happy – especially Afrikan Amerikans.
After all, I look “white” but I’m as “Black” as anyone!
Think John Brown!
So, this shows a huge change from one scum white bastard or the other like all other such elections. People expect something.
And, when he doesn’t deliver, maybe they’ll be willing to face the brutal truth and deal with it more realistically.
Whatever good he is able to accomplish, that would be great. Any amelioration of suffering is a good thing!
But him being “perfectly clear” and going with the corporate program ain’t gonna do us much good, as the planet herself rapidly melts into a poisoned mess, and “terrorists” are screaming all over the world.
Terrorists are terrorists because their children are dying and their lands are occupied by brutal, militarized sweatshops. That ain’t gonna change and having Barack be the guy the shot-callers use to drop the bombs on wedding parties won’t make the victims who have been “made in America” any less revenge-minded.
Is Barack going to dismantle the military industrial complex? The prison industrial complex? Is he going to stop the nazi police, prosecutors and judges from railroading masses of young blacks into the gulags?
Hardly! Real change never comes top down!
It’s sad but true.
Is Barack going to dismantle the military industrial complex? The prison industrial complex?
Is he going to stop the nazi police, prosecutors and judges from railroading masses of young blacks into the gulags?
Hardly! Real change never comes top down!
It’s sad but true.
Is he going to stop the nazi police, prosecutors and judges from railroading masses of young blacks into the gulags?
Hardly! Real change never comes top down!
It’s sad but true.
“Trickle down” is when the rich piss on the poor!
Barack is rich!
He’s not “fighting the system” but merely taking a prominent position in it – and ever so cautiously at that!
Sadly, Barack is a crock!
NAD: Would you like to choose one of these to answer, elaborate on?
- Are UFO’s real?
- Did we land on the moon in 1968?
- Did Bush knock down the towers?
- Was Paul Wellstone’s death an accident?
- Is Bigfoot real?
- Is there a God?
- What makes you think that?
Anthony: I’ll give you a thumbnail on all of them, then answer the last one.
Yes, UFO’s are real. Sometimes things flying around the sky cannot be identified. As to whether they are “swamp gas” or Martians, I couldn’t say and I don’t really care or spend any time worrying about it. The hideous alien space ships of the U.S. government are plenty scary enough!
Did we land on the moon? Yeah, I think so, but wasn’t it in 1969? They planted a flag, said some scripted bullshit and took a lame whack at a golf ball. Some “New Frontier” eh? Meanwhile, the daily mass murder in Southeast Asia didn’t stop for a minute! Nice to see we had our “priorities” in order!
I don’t think Bush knocked ‘em down, but I sure as hell wouldn’t put it past Cheney! It was more than weird the way he went right to a fully equipped Dr. No mountain retreat for several weeks to gauge the reaction.
Demolishing building No. 7 exactly how the towers came down blew the scam’s cover.
Having a several hundred-paged Patriot Act all set to go and ram-rodded through a sycophantic legislature was too much of a set-up to be a “reaction” to the “surprise” attack.
No scrambled jets to intercept them??? C’mon! The thing that struck me was having these guy’s bios in the next day’s papers! Now, that’s some quick sleuthing!
What a joke the whole damn thing was, down to Jay Leno not shaking hands for a while. It’s not like there was never a Gulf of Tonkin Incident or all the other set-ups …
Paul Wellstone’s death was mighty opportune for the Bush-Cheney cabal wasn’t it? His was the only (weak) voice asking questions. Yeah, he was offed.
Bigfoot? Sheesh! And here I thought this cop down in Georgia had the Yeti! How disappointing, eh? There are weirder creatures living on Earth than Bigfoot! He’s got a cool name, but damn! He’s harder to locate than the Unabomber! Maybe Obama will find him – once he finds Osama. I think I know where Bigfoot is, by the way. He lives in Denver and plays on the Nuggets.
Is there a God? No, there is not a God. God does not exist. He is a conjuring from the vivid yet insecure mind of mankind. If he did exist he would be the biggest asshole who ever lived! Get with it folks. Matter exists and has a tendency to form organically under the right conditions, which Earth possesses. Matter can turn into energy and vice versa.
We live and we can think. We can be rational or superstitious. You can take the responsibility for your life and actions or run scared. We’ll all die some day and our bodies will decay. If you want “eternal life” do something marvelous that future generations will be forever grateful for!
For, there is no “heaven” and even if there was, you’d get bored out of your gourd after a few billion years.
The reason I think that is that I have seen zippo hard evidence of “God.”
Seeing the Virgin Mary’s image on a potato chip doesn’t do it for me!
Look, I can see being in awe and “spiritual.”
But worship things that actually exist – like the sun or the stars or the moon.
Worship your wife for Christ’s sake! Oops! I forgot! He was the product of a virgin birth? God, Allah – the whole gang - are a bunch of sexual perverts, if you ask me! If they did exist, they would deserve to be killed like any other tyrant.
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 titles. It’s like having a professional secretary, really. They run a topnotch zine library, make it available online and for on-site study.
Why I run a distro of zines is because such concentrated education is highly sought and necessary.
I think it was George Orwell who said: “The most dangerous thing in the world is the fifty paged pamphlet.”
Think about the impact "The Communist Manifesto" had or Thomas Paine’s "Common Sense.
I can just focus on the arguments and not have to worry about whether someone will publish it or not for whatever reason, for I have become the publisher.
Zines are quick to create and can affect a situation in a timely fashion and as well, some are timeless and people can learn a great deal from them whenever they read them. They are tangible, thus highly accessible and readily duplicated.
I pay for them by doing all the work myself, being very frugal and thrifty. Throughout my adult life, I’ve been frugal. I buy my clothes at the thrift store and have no expensive hobbies or buying interests other than printing and mailing costs.
I work a full-time living wage-slave job as does my wife. We stay home a lot. We don’t even have cable T.V. I don’t own a cell phone, etc. We live in a small house (2 bedroom 1 bath) with our two teen-aged sons.
I drove beaters all my life to keep costs down. I do side jobs (painting, etc.) and work overtime at work to help defray costs.
What it has been able to accomplish is to begin to help thousands of people, mostly prisoners, learn how to think for themselves about a wide range of issues.
It has been the reason I’ve been able to collaborate with many brilliant writers and artists, developed my writing and the recognition of my thinking by many people.
It’s accomplished what I had intended it to – serious outreach, networking, etc. I believe we have just begun to push this snowball of ideas down the mountain and it will only gather speed and intensity as more people become enthused by this awesome medium.
NAD: Please tell us more about yourself, the things you have done, what you would like to do, what you did today. In other words, what is your current passion? What did you absolutely have to get done by noon today? How about Christmas 2010?
Anthony: Well, I’m “Joe Normal” I keep trying to tell people.
I see a tremendous amount of problems in society so naturally I’m trying to do something about them as a concerned parent would do concerning problems with his or her children.
I try to live responsibly in accordance with the consciousness I possess. As I have made a lifetime to develop said consciousness, I happen to be “fluent” in many areas.
I’ve focused on developing my ability to write (“argument crafting” I call it.)
So, that’s what I love to do.
Unfortunately for me, because I am still working so heavily to pay for all this, I don’t get anywhere near the opportunities to just, plain write like I would like to.
Much of my time is spent editing the work of others. So, I’m becoming a very good editor, too.
Also, a ton of time is spent printing, collating, stapling, mailing and reading and writing letters.
Plus, I do local and regional organizing for various groups & causes. And, of course, my wife and I have our hands full with our family life.
What I have “done” is really not all that remarkable to others, although it is spectacular to those who understand what I am trying to do, if that makes any sense.
I just lived my life very aware of what is happening and responding to it and making my observations available in intensely written ways. I was a valedictorian at a junior college.
I co-founded several grassroots groups and helped organize many actions, seminars, conferences, etc.
I’m a legitimately recognized “activist” in the Chicagoland area, and well known among anarchist circles throughout the world.
I’ve helped a lot of individuals and groups develop study circles and distros of their own.
I help light the desire to think and do in many people, which is a very gratifying feeling.
Strange you ask about noon.
For, that was the deadline I had to get back with George Ochsenfeld on how many people will attend tonight’s dinner and talk with the electrifying Kathy Kelly of Chicago.
We do this monthly “Progressive Forum” at a local restaurant.
Also, I wanted to finally finish editing the first nine questions to an intense interview I’m doing with a brilliant anarcho-lesbian prisoner who is locked down in a control unit in Florida.
It’s already 67 pages. We have one question to go and then I’ll shoehorn the whole thing into a 72-paged zine – with prisoner graphics by Friday, December 12th – I hope!
I haven’t gotten the answer to question No. 10 yet. She’s pleading writer’s block.
I want to wrap it all up by Friday because I have a twenty percent discount coupon for print jobs at Office Depot that expires on the 12th. I’ll put all the upcoming zine jobs together for that.
By Christmas 2010, I hope to have retired from my miserable wage-slave job (as a stressed-out toll collector on I-80) and somehow gotten a job as a writer and/or editor.
I will continue to create zines and make them available free to prisoners come hell or high water.
NAD: The whole war on drugs, prison construction boom, didn’t the Democrat Bill Clinton accentuate it after it was begun under Reagan & Bush – right?
This Bud’s for you.
And then we have thousands, millions of people in prison for marijuana. What’s the deal?
Another. Does the CIA really run drugs? C’mon really? What was Gary Webb smoking?
Clinton ran drugs out of Mena, Arkansas?
C’mon. How many urban legends can this country support at one time?
Anthony: Actually, the “war on drugs” began under the shifty-eyed Nixon!
We’ve seen an eight-fold increase in prisoners since then. Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush I and Clinton accelerated this hideous process, as did Bush II.
We now have 2.4 million prisoners, fully 25 percent of the world’s prisoners, even though we only have 5 percent of the world’s population in the “land of the free.”
Everyone’s on “drugs” be they “illegal” or “legal!” The legal ones like cigarettes, alcohol and prescription drugs are the most deadly, but of course, the medicinal plant ones are the ones people get shoved into prison for.
I think marijuana is so vilified by the authorities because soldiers in Vietnam turned onto it in Vietnam and decided to frag their officers instead of murder Vietnamese.
Also, young people here started smoking it and unplugging their brains from the lies of government.
Clinton never inhaled (and you can tell) although his brother was a doper, whom Bill pardoned.
But, Bill put 100,000 more cops on the streets, many of whom focused on the Afrikan and other poor communities to pan for prisoners.
Even though all demographic groups do dope at about the same rates, they don’t raid Wall Street or even college campuses – just the ‘hood.'
The “war on drugs” pours gas on a genuine social problem (massive drug use) which, like Prohibition, makes the problem infinitely worse.
War and incarceration are about the only two “growth industries” left in this sick economy.
I read a story today that Blagojevich hired hundreds of prison guards – and is paying them – even though they have no prison to actually guard! Prison guard unions are the strongest union in the country. Can we say “Police State?”
My wife just called me to tell me Blagojevich has just been arrested. He is/was governor of Illinois. Before that, he was a Congressman.
Before that, he was an aggressive prosecutor.
Now he can join Club Fed with the governor he replaced – George Ryan.
Cherry-picking high profile white collar governmental criminals does nothing to change the whole systematized criminality that is government and incarceration. It just puts another flower on the lapel of the “ambitious” prosecutor who nailed him – Patrick Fitzgerald.
And you guys think Obama is this great water-walker! Sheesh!
CIA drug-running has been documented immediately after WW II, during Vietnam, as part of the evil Contra War in Nicaragua, etc. I don’t know what all they do or the big offshore banks or the whole police apparatus. A lot of cops and prison guards are drug runners. It’s a massive cesspool of corruption. But, the only ones who end up in the slammer are those without the big bucks to pop for (no doubt drug using) lawyers.
Gary Webb? I don’t know who that is.
Urban legends and rural legends do exist.
The fact that the government is the most vile, criminal enterprise in human history is not a legend but a sad fact.
Ask the descendants of the millions upon millions of murdered people throughout the world done to death by the U.S. military and trained death squad puppet regimes.
They don’t really give a damn about “our freedoms.”
They just don’t like being bombed, shot, napalmed, having their children die from malnutrition, preventable diseases, lack of drinking water, forced to work in sweat shops, or tortured to death by U.S. trained monsters.
There’s a famous statement that claims: “A country gets the criminals it deserves!”
Wall Street can loot $2 trillion dollars in a month and get massive bailouts for their troubles.
But a “Black” kid can steal a pack of Twinkies from 7-Eleven in Californicate and get “three-striked” for life!
George Bush got elected in 2000 on the coattails of being the world’s most famous serial killer.
As Governor, he sent over 100 prisoners to the Texas death chamber without ever even perusing their cases.
He leaves office having a big hand in the murder of 1,000,000 Iraqis.
His “punishment?” Nothing!
Clinton helped snuff the life out of 1,000,000 children.
Celebrity status and jokes about Monica Lewinsky.
And we wonder why people – especially pissed-off Muslims — want to get their hands around the necks of Americans???
I just want to get inside their skulls to help de-program and genuinely educate them.
For that, I’m considered a dangerous, anti-American terrorist, as well.
Did Orwell have to be so right?
This shit is beyond.
Luckily, a lot of younger people aren’t buying all the bullshit like everyone else did all these years.
They happen to realize that the government is a dangerous monstrosity and everything they say is a lie.
NAD: What else would you like to add? What else should I have asked?
Anthony: Well, I guess the question is “What is to be done?”
As the world literally melts as the U.S. keeps jacking up its police statism tactics, we’re all in a world of trouble.
What can people do? How about a “war on crime?”
We need to stop the big criminals in their tracks and reverse this cataclysmic cart wheeling towards global oblivion.
These huge criminals rely on massive, lifelong brainwashing, a gigantic gulag archipelago, police and cameras everywhere, millions of laws, lawyers, police, prosecutors, judges and wardens – not a pretty picture.
I happen to agree with George Orwell that the “fifty paged pamphlet” is “the most dangerous thing in the world” – to the authorities of a sick system!
To regular people it can be a treasure trove of revelatory insights that can begin the process of self-actualization.
So, that’s what I try to do.
Yes, I know, it’s dorky, but I happen to believe in humanism, love, truth, freedom, equality, genuine justice and a future for our children.
So, I encourage people to seek the real truth and react accordingly.
Trust your natural humanist instincts, just as a parent relies on their innate desire to care for their children.
We don’t need evil bullies like Cheney to tell us how to think or what to do or who we should demonize.
We need to learn how to think for ourselves and become men and women and stand up to these bastards, once and for all – time!
NAD: Please insert a link here to something you would like linked to with a brief tag re: where that link goes:
Anthony: By the end of December, 2008, my zine collection will finally be up on the DePaul University website. They’ve redone their whole website all year and saved my massive zine collection for last. You can google it under DePaul Zine Library or try:
Also, someone put up a website for my distro, although I don’t have anything to do with it, really. Its address is:
To reach me more directly, you can email me at:
Since I provide these hundreds of powerful little booklets (zines) to many people on an ongoing basis (mostly for indigent prisoners) I would suggest you write to me and ask for a catalog and maybe a sample zine, at:
South Chicago ABC Zine Distro
P.O. Box 721
Homewood, IL 60430
Thanks for your interest, Bro!