It is hard to follow postings in this series which addressed a book on who built the moon and a children’s book on ritual satanic abuse, but I’ll try. With this entry I hope to broaden the remaindered column to include books which are peculiar, and perhaps of limited appeal, but may not be down right embarrassing.
False Nationalism False Internationalism (“FNFI”) by E Tani and Kae Sera is a cult classic of the American hard left. Originally published in the mid 1980s, my edition is spiral bound and looks like it was printed from a photocopy of the original. I have been told the book was never issued perfect bound, but like most things I know about FNFI, I cannot confirm that for a fact.
FNFI is part of a series of three books which attempted to lay out a revolutionary critique of the West. The other two books in the series are the better known (in certain circles) Settlers: The Myth of the White Proletariat and Night Vision. My edition of Settlers really takes the cake for loony 1970s leftist illustrations – the back cover is a picture of Ho Chi Minh dancing with children.
Addressing the wars and conflicts of the 1960s and 70s from the vantage point of First World communists enraptured by third world leaders, FNFI is terribly dated and naïve. But it is still a good read. If you can overlook the jargon and Third World Marxist speech, the writing and research are surprisingly strong. Within its pages you get a nuanced critique of the actions of the Weather Underground (violence ok, the violence of the Weather Underground, childish), and a fascinating argument that the Vietnam war was ended not by demonstrations in America, but because of violent sabotage by soldiers in Vietnam.
False Nationalism isn’t hard to find, if you know where to look. Finding out anything about its authors is much more difficult. You are never going to believe this but I am pretty sure “E Tani” and “Kae Sera” are pseudonyms. All three books in the series use a revolving set of pseudonyms for the authors. I have heard a number of conjectures and rumors about FNFI including that it, and the others in the cycle, were written collectively by the same small group of friends, that the authors had been involved in Weather Underground, and that the authors now reside in New York. I have no idea if any of that is true. Settlers is credited to a “J. Sakai” and that pseudonym has since been used for a number of other writings. Whether it is the same person and whether that person was also involved in the writing of FNFI, I have no idea. If you know anything about this book, please get in touch.
FNFI is still read today by idealistic young communists and anarchist for its hardline approach to American imperialism and its comfort with violence as a tool for social change. If you have an interest in the philosophy of the farthest reaches of left wing ideologues in the 1980s, and, let’s face it, who doesn’t, this is worth checking out.