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About Myself

A Brief Autobiographical Sketch

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About James Herod

This is an autobiographical blurb I wrote for the Fiftieth Anniversary Memorial Book for my 1953 High School Class Reunion

(Slightly edited. This was on hand. I may try to post a more orthodox resume later, although it may be hard to force an unorthodox life into an orthodox resume.) Born in 1935 in Pryor, Oklahoma.

The high point of my life was getting to participate in the world revolution of 1968. I was at Columbia University in New York City at the time and took part in it from that vantage point. I sort of divide my life into Before 1968 and After 1968. Until 1968 I was in school and college, except for the three years in the army; after 1968 I devoted myself to the revolutionary movement to achieve direct democracy in America and the world. Two other really good years before 1968 though were the year I spent as a senior at the American University of Beirut in Lebanon (with travels in Egypt, Syria, Jordan, and Palestine) in 1956-57, and the year I spent in Sinop, Turkey, on the Black Sea in 1959-60, while in the Army (with a follow-up summer in Turkey in 1963 as a graduate student). I had two very good summers in work camps in France and Lebanon in 1956, and again in 1957 in Denmark and Sweden. I spent a spectacular month in Cuba in August 1969, and a fabulous two weeks in Oaxaca, Mexico in June 2002.

Two prolonged good periods for me were from 1968 to 1975, participating in the new left's revolutionary movement, and from 1987 to 1998, helping to keep alive a radical bookstore (left libertarian). This store served as a sort of watering hole for the city's progressive community; everyone came there. It was a tremendously exciting place. I learned a lot during those years, as well as helped keep up a left perspective during that dark period of reaction.

The years of formal college education -- at Graceland College (1953-55), University of Kansas (1955-56), American University of Beirut (1956-57), and Columbia University (1961-1968) -- were largely spent in frustration because it was impossible to gain an understanding of what was going on in the world within that institutional framework, at least during that historical period. The two worst periods were the three years in the army, 1958-61 (mollified only slightly by the year in Turkey), and being down and out on Manhattan’s lower east side in the late 1970s. The years 1976 to 1986 were pretty much lost (to wage-slavery, mostly), except for some minor union struggles, and for continued study of emancipatory social thought. My biggest disappointments (other than never getting married) are my two failed attempts to launch radical publishing projects in the mid-seventies and early nineties. My biggest surprise is that I never even in my worst dreams imagined I would end up my life living under a fascist government. My most abiding interest, since my teenage years, has been for social philosophy, especially (since 1968) radical social philosophy.

For money, I’ve worked at odd jobs. My last job was as an industrial painter at a large truck terminal in North Kansas City. My longest job (nine years) was at a major city newspaper (1990-98), working in the production department (page paste-up, ad make-up, proofreading, typesetting, and running the big digitized photo electronic type machines and film developers). During most of the eighties I worked off and on in various overnight commercial ad shops as a typesetter and proofreader. Otherwise, I’ve worked at just about everything: oil fields, cannery, wheat fields, construction, lumbering, steel mill, auto assembly line, research, college teaching, copy shops, binderies, bookstore, delivery, dish washing, maintenance, secretarial, day labor, and so forth.

Since retiring in November of 2000 I’ve been writing books and essays, as well as participating in the anarchist movement. In May-June 2002, I compiled a book-length bibliography called A Partially Annotated Bibliography in English for the Libertarian Left and Progressive Populists in the United States, although it is not quite finished and may remain so. In May 2007, I finally got a printed edition of my book on anarchist revolutionary strategy called Getting Free: Creating an Association of Democratic Autonomous Neighborhoods. There are several more essays in the pipeline, which, if I can settle down to it, I’ll get done, I like to think. All my papers since 1998 are now posted here. The 1968-1997 writings are also going up as fast as I can get to them.

That’s about it. I enjoy children (most of them), nature and all living creatures, thunderstorms, snow, rain, most kinds of music, movies, trash fiction (romance, westerns, mysteries, science fiction). I have a special love of children’s books and have bought thousands over the years and given them away.

Overall, mine has been a miserable and unhappy life. I will be glad to get shut of it, someday. But first there is much work to do.