DEATH TO THE FASCIST INSECT
SYMBIONESE LIBERATION ARMY
Edited by John Brian King
Death to the Fascist Insect is a compilation of the writings and transcribed recordings of the Symbionese Liberation Army (1973–75), a radical left-wing group based in the Bay Area of California. This publication chronicles the militant, if half-baked, political theories that inspired the SLA, as well as the ways that the SLA used violence and manipulation of the media to further the group’s goal of provoking armed revolution from the underground.
Founded by escaped convict Donald DeFreeze, aka Field Marshal Cinque, the SLA was mostly composed of young, largely white and middle-class men and women, whose stated aim was to destroy all forms of racism, sexism, and capitalism. One of the SLA’s first acts was the murder of the Oakland superintendent of schools; SLA members went on to kidnap newspaper heiress Patricia Hearst, demand millions of dollars from her wealthy family for free food for “people in need,” and rob a bank in San Francisco with Hearst. Most of the SLA, including DeFreeze, died in a fire after a gun battle with police in Los Angeles, while Hearst was later pardoned.
“The long run aim of the SLA was to work toward the annihilation of U.S. imperialism and the culture and institutions that support it. The building of a people’s army wasn’t seen as an end, but as a means to achieve popular freedom to build a society that was free of racism, sexism and classism; a society where there were no elites, no oppressive bureaucracy. The SLA wanted to remain relatively small, develop their skills, set up networks in various west coast cities and gradually refine their political perspective as conditions changed. They would test out their theories through guerrilla action, probing the enemy’s weak spots, analyze the attitudes of people in their communities as to what would be acceptable actions to take, and check their ultimate response in order to refine tactics, techniques and overall strategy.”
SLA member William Harris, “The Last SLA Statement,” July 1976
This publication features an introduction by editor John Brian King, a chronology of the SLA, the writings and transcribed recordings of the group presented in the context of events at the time, and a fifty-page appendix of notable articles, letters, and other texts related to the SLA.
Spurl Editions is an independent publisher of unusual literature and photography. They began publishing in 2015 and have put out French and Italian lit in translation, surreal Hollywood memoirs, photography monographs, and more. Spurl Editions loves the eccentric, the unexpected, the seedy, and the absurd; and decay and dissipation, of course.
John Brian King is a writer, photographer, and filmmaker. His works include the nonfiction book Lustmord: The Writings and Artifacts of Murderers (1997), the photography books LAX: Photographs of Los Angeles 1980–84 (2015) and Nude Reagan (2016), and the feature film Redlands (2014)