HIT THE WALLS
Kevin Keating's first novel, 'Hit the Walls,' is an ultra-left noir that follows the adventures and misadventures of a band of radicals fighting against the yuppie invasion of San Francisco's working class Mission District during the dot-com boom of 1999. Funny and fast-paced, filled with action, danger and romance, 'Hit the Walls' is one of the first truly anti-capitalist novels in the history of United States fiction; it conveys the subjectivity and struggles of individuals in rebellion against contemporary society and the totalitarian dictatorship of the market economy as no other novel does.
"I don't think it's possible to tell an truly original story; the Greeks already told them all 2600 years ago," says Keating. "And it's not that I am such a brilliant guy, either. But I think that I've blundered onto the next best thing. I think 'Hit the Walls' is the first American ultra-left noir."
Keating is now seeking a literary agent who will be energetic and aggressive about attempting to get 'Hit the Walls' placed with a publishing house. He can be contacted at email@example.com.
"Phillip Marlow meets the Situationists in the first truly American ultra-left
noir. Quite striking..."
"If my prose style was better, and if I was well-versed in revolutionary
Marxism and anarchism, and if I wasn't already dead, this is the
novel that I would have wanted to write."
Patricia Highsmith, author
of "Ripley Under Ground," "Ripley's Game," etc.
Future novels by Keating will include "A Killing Urge," about a working
class criminal and Nietzschean ubermench in a one-man war against
the automobile, and "The Lenin Boys," about the life and death of
the revolutionary extremist Tibor Szamuely during the 133 days of
the Hungarian Council Republic of 1919.
by Kevin Keating
"The pen is waiting -- hang the pen!
To scribbling I'm condemned to sink,
I grasp the inkstand fiercely then
and write in floods of flowing ink,
How broad, how true the streams' career,
What luck my labors do requite;
'Tis true the writing's none too clear,
What then? -- who reads the stuff I write!?
The Gay Science
Love and Treason is a collection of documents of revolutionary
extremist agitation and propaganda produced between 1982 and 2001. To
avoid repetitiveness I'm only including what I think are the best efforts,
documents that taken together can give readers a comprehensive world-view.
Someday I'll want to publish a much longer version of this as a book.
Love and Treason is a story of revolutionary politics during a period
of universal counter-revolution, of attempts to spread subversion in
one of the most reactionary industrialized societies on Earth.
I wrote most of the pieces here. Other materials were produced
with various small groups of friends. Everything you see is a work-in-progress;
nothing is etched in stone, and nothing is copyrighted. Reproduce any
of it or all of it as you wish, or use the materials here to come up
with something better.
In Simon Schama's Citizens, a Reaganite history of the French
Revolution, Schama wrote that the Jacobin extremist Jean Paul Marat knew
"a mocking, combative journalism probing the limits of conventional decorum
could actually create a new political public." That's what I aim at,
and I hope Love and Treason in turn offers style models that future rebels
can improve on. Effective revolutionary propaganda is an art that few
contemporary radicals have mastered. Even writing a witty and provocative
letter to the editor is a skill that takes time and effort to learn.
Do the efforts in this text succeed in getting their message across?
You be the judge. A well-crafted leaflet can be a weapon and a work
Since 1983 my goal has been to help create a communist minority
revolutionary tendency in the San Francisco Bay Area, distinct from the
left and from anarchism, linked to similar groups in North America and
the rest of the world. This group would have to be both politically
sophisticated and involved in real day-to-day working class struggles.
The most effective anti-capitalist action is collective action, and
I say this from my own experience of many years of being forced to act
alone. Individualist efforts wax and wane with the level of inspiration
of their authors. In many cases these efforts are the hobbies of dilettantes
who have ego problems and too much time on their hands. The result is
usually the political equivalent of stamp-collecting. It doesn't have
a lasting social impact. I want to form enduring links with dedicated,
energetic revolutionaries; people who are capable of a long-term commitment
to a common effort and who will do what they say they'll do.
True Confessions: I was a teen-age Marxist-Leninist!
A document like this is necessarily a personal story, but to
keep the politics at center stage I'll keep the autobiographical stuff
out of the main body of the text as much as I can.
My politics began as a product of the social movement of the
late 1960's, which I was far too young to take part in. The Vietnam
War, the profound racism of American society and everything I was finding
out about US history made it totally clear to me: the United States was
a nightmare reality that could not be changed by peaceful means. I started
calling myself a communist when I was 12 years old. I wanted the Viet
Cong to kick Uncle Sam's ass. As a teenager growing up in suburban Northern
Virginia my heroes were Che Guevara and George Jackson, the Black Panthers
and the Red Army Faction in West Germany, and when I grew up I wanted
to be just like them.
As a subjectively radical kid in the 'burbs my ideas had developed
in isolation from other leftists. I thought Marxism-Leninism was the
only real opposition to the present state of things. But other perspectives
began appearing early, in the far distance, messages coming to me from
the future. In my high school library, in a photographic biography of
Trotsky, I found a brief account of the life and adventures of the anarchist
Nestor Makhno, a partisan fighter in the Russian Civil War. Makhno was
an enigma to my 14-year old Guevaraist consciousness, since this was
the first time I'd read of forces qualitatively to the left of the Bolsheviks
in the Russian Revolution.
At age 16 I discovered George Orwell's Homage to Catalonia. From Orwell I learned that during the Spanish Civil War, millions of
working-class anarchists had tried to remake society in a communist manner,
far in advance of anything attempted by Lenin or Castro or Mao. Homage
to Catalonia was my first encounter with the history of anarchism as
a mass social movement, as a potential alternative to Leninism, and not
just as the actions of a few brave and lonely individuals who had assassinated
a handful of ruling class thugs.
Sometime after that on Pennsylvania Avenue in DC I found a leaflet
taped to a lightpost, from something called "The Last International,"
titled "The Seven Danger Signs of Subjectivity." It had a graphic comparing
the Pope, Mao, a dollar sign and Edvard Munch's "The Scream," and pithy
lines of anti-work and anti-cop sentiments. This was my first encounter
with the wit and world-view of Bob Black. I didn't even know what the
word "subjectivity" meant but I took the flyer home and taped it above
my stereo, near my David Bowie albums. In 1978, radio station WGTB at
Georgetown University was broadcasting punk rock from the UK and New
York City and San Francisco, and that music began to have a huge impact
on me, opening doors, stirring new anti-authoritarian impulses and ideas.
Instead of going to college after high school like other children
of the bourgeoisie, in the fall of 1978 I got on a Greyhound bus and
traveled across America to exotic Berkeley, California, which I hoped
would be a hotbed of free love and Castroite ideology. Boy, was I disappointed
by Berkeley! It was a deadly-dull town dominated by the corporate-oriented
University of California. There was nothing to do after 8 p.m., nowhere
to go to hear music, nowhere for an 18-year old kid to find entertainment,
since I wasn't into hanging out at pinball arcades. Berkeley was overrun
by kids my age, but I wasn't a student at Cal so I wasn't one of them.
By the late 1970's UC Berkeley students were perky young conformists
exuding a rank air of upper-middle class privilege. Most of the ones
I met sneered at anyone who wasn't clawing their way to a well-paid future
in a corporate or academic gerbil-cage. Cal students were awful; I hated
them. I also met Maoists and Trotskyists. They were tedious weirdos.
They seemed to be speaking a language written for them by vacuum tube-operated
So in radical Berkeley my options were identical to what I'd
left behind in the 'burbs: I worked pumping gas, flipping burgers and
washing dishes to pay my rent. My education continued in this vein.
I learned more about capitalism from working low wage shit jobs and
a life in poverty than I did from reading the Revolutionary Worker and
Sproul Plaza polemics with the Sparts.
"Mad to Live, Mad to Burn..."
I spent my first summer on the west coast hitchhiking around
the Pacific Northwest. When I came back to Berkeley I worked in produce
markets and movie theaters. I lived on the streets for most of 1980.
I slept in alleys and construction sites, went hitchhiking and backpacking
all over California and even hopped a couple of rides on freight trains.
I kicked it with old hippies who said they'd kicked it with Kerouac,
developed a yen for good beer and crystal meth, climbed Mount Shasta,
began having more frequent sexual relationships, organized a big rent
strike against the south-of-campus landlord Reza Valiyee and bricked
the windows of numerous banks, supermarkets and real estate company offices.
It wasn't all beer and skittles; kids who live on the streets have to
spend too much time dodging creeps -- sexual predators, religious nuts
and cops. I got punched out a few times, and I was also arrested at
gunpoint and charged with felony burglary by the Berkeley PD, and then
into an ongoing jam with the law. I was 20 years old.
After my time on the street my politics were less radical than
my daily life experiences had been. Until I was 22 or 23 my understanding
of the world was still a hodgepodge of illusions about electoral politics
and urban guerrilla warfare, identification with anarcho-syndicalism
and with "socialism" in Cuba. But my best political activity, the rent
strikes I organized in '80 and '81 against Reza Valiyee in several of
his buildings, was a form of collective direct action by dispossessed
people against exchange value; we had begun to assert what we needed
against the market economy. At that time I didn't understand this anymore
than anyone else involved in those rent strikes did. My analysis was
way off, but my gut instincts were sound, and I was in the process of
finding more useful analytic tools. In the next few years I discovered
the Situationists and Jean Barrot and pamphlets from Black and Red in
Detroit. They liberated me. This is where my real narrative begins...
1. The basic perspectives of The Poor, the Bad and the Angry
2. Anti-capitalist actions around mass transit in San Francisco
3. Muni Social Strikeout -- The Failed Transit System Fare Strike in San Francisco in 2005
4. The leftist recuperator's version of events: FARE STRIKE! San Francisco 2005: First-Hand Accounts
5. Harass the Brass; Some notes toward the subversion of the US armed forces
6. The Frauds' Prayer
7. Mission Yuppie Eradication Project
8. Prices Reduced to Absolutely Nothing! - on the virtues of shoplifting and looting
9. Stalinism's loyal opposition; The Counter-Revolutionary Politics of Trotsky
10. Left Communism or State Department Surrealism?
11. AMERICAN DEFEAT: an anti-state communist perspective on the Iraq war
12. The Anarchist Stuart Christie and his Peculiar Literary Bedfellow, the Neo-Conservative Stephen Schwartz
13. A recommended reading list
Short Stories by Kevin Keating
- The Poor, the Bad and the Angry
- The Man in the Box
- The Prince of Lies