Anarchist News - Thu, 07/12/2018 - 10:25

From Black Rose Anarchist Federation by Mark Bray

We are excited to present “Horizontalism” by Mark Bray which appears as a chapter in the recently published Anarchism: A Conceptual Approach, published by Routledge and edited by Benjamin Franks, Nathan Jun, and Leonard Williams. Bray is the author of Antifa: The Anti-Fascist Handbook and Translating Anarchy: The Anarchism of Occupy Wall Street and a member of Black Rose/Rosa Negra Anarchist Federation. Given the length of the article we are also introducing a beautifully designed PDF reader format of the article which you can download by clicking on the reader image below.

In this piece Bray relates a range of global movements from mass neighborhood assemblies in Argentina, to the squares movement in Europe and Occupy Wall Street to various political conceptions of power, movement building and electoral politics. He begins with drawing a distinction between horizontalism as a specific form of popular mobilization that has recently emerged and more broadly the practices of horizontal style organizing. From this he points out that while anarchism is horizontal in it’s approach to organizing and movement building, horizontalism is much more fluid, “non-ideological,” and lends itself to decidedly non-horizontal directions of electoral organizing – politics which anarchist have traditionally contrasted their politics in opposition.



By Mark Bray

The decades that have followed the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 have witnessed a historic resurgence of directly democratic, federalist politics among global social movements on a scale unheard of since the first decades of the twentieth century. From the Zapatistas and Magonistas of southern Mexico, to the global justice movement, to the squares movements of Tahrir Square, 15M (15th of May), Occupy, Gezi Park, and many more around the world, to Black Lives Matter, we can see the powerful impact of the style of leaderless (or leaderful), [2] autonomous, direct action-oriented organizing that has characterized resistance from below during this era. Some of the groups and individuals that composed these movements were directly, or indirectly, influenced by the enduring anti-authoritarian legacy of anarchism, whose international popularity has surged over recent decades in conjunction with a heightened interest in federalist, anti-capitalist politics. Many more, however, came to reject the hierarchical party politics of authoritarian communism not as the result of an explicitly ideological influence, but rather because occupations, popular assemblies, and consensus decision- making were widely considered to be the most ethically and strategically appropriate forms of struggle given existing conditions. Such was the case for most of the Argentines who rose up to occupy their workplaces and organize neighborhood assemblies in the wake of the financial crisis of 2001. Out of this popular rebellion against neo-liberalism came the term “horizontalism” (horizontalidad). While this slippery term has meant slightly different things for different people, it generally connotes a form of “leaderless,” autonomous, directly democratic movement building whose adherents consider it to be non- ideological. Since the Argentine uprising, the term “horizontalism” has established itself as the overarching label for this amorphous form of directly democratic organizing that has swept the globe.

Certainly horizontalism and anarchism overlap in their advocacy of federal, directly democratic, direct action-oriented, autonomous organizing. Long before the collapse of the Soviet Bloc, anarchists railed against the inherently deleterious effects of hierarchy and authoritarian leadership while building large-scale federal models of workers’ self-management in the form of anarcho-syndicalist unions with memberships in the hundreds of thousands, or even above a million in the case of the Spanish CNT in the 1930s. In some cases, such as the French CGT in the early 20th century, anarchist unionists even endorsed creating non-sectarian revolutionary syndicalist unions that could group the working class beyond political divides (Maitron 1992, 326; Maura, 1975, 495). It is unsurprising that many anarchists have thrown their lot in with the horizontalist mass movements of the past decades in order to safeguard and promote their anti-authoritarian tendencies. The intense proximity that exists between these two currents raises some important questions: is horizontalism merely a new name for anarchism? Are they basically the same idea masquerading behind different histories? Given such a high level of overlap, are we simply quibbling about semantics if we insist on a distinction between the two?

To answer this question, I will draw a distinction between “horizontalism,” which I use as a historically specific term to demarcate the wave of directly democratic popular mobilization that has emerged over the past few decades, and “horizontal,” which I use as an analytical descriptor to describe any form of non-hierarchical activity, regardless of context. Once this distinction is drawn, it is apparent that although anarchism is inherently horizontal, the historical horizontalism of recent years is a fluid entity that occasionally promotes values and ideas that are at odds with anarchism as a result of its minimalist, “anti-ideological” ideology. Although some anarchists and others have characterized anarchism as “anti-ideological” as well, the history of the movement shows that most of its militants and theorists have viewed it as a solid, though flexible, doctrine anchored in a set of anti- authoritarian tenets. This stands in sharp contrast with the prevalent post-modern tendency of proponents of horizontalism to view it as a malleable set of practices disconnected from any specific political center. This “anti-ideological” focus on form over content, which is to say, its emphasis on how decisions are made over what is decided, has created significant tensions in the context of more or less spontaneous popular horizontalism for anarchists who are supportive of mass organizing and hopeful about the political openings provided by such movements. Because horizontalism attempts to divorce itself from ideology, its structures and practices are susceptible to resignification in decidedly non-horizontal directions, such as participation in representative government.

It is important to clarify that this critique of the “anti-ideology” of horizontalism applies to essentially spontaneous popular movements where thousands of random people suddenly engage in direct democracy with each other for the first time, not to examples like the Zapatistas of southern Mexico whose horizontal practices developed slowly over generations and were inextricably bound to widely shared values. When assemblies emerge without the opportunity for such steady growth and development, their lack of formal ideology greatly reduces the barriers to entry for a mass of disaggregated, disaffected people, yet it also makes the movement’s content and trajectory capricious. The implicit horizontalist assumption that horizontal decision-making mechanisms are sufficient to yield egalitarian results stands in sharp contrast with the avowed anarchist commitment to both horizontal practices and anti-oppressive outcomes. This demonstrates that although anarchism is horizontal (in the analytical rather than the historically specific sense of the term), and horizontalism is anarchistic (meaning it bears many of the traits of anarchism), horizontalism and anarchism are not identical.


A group of workers from a recuperated workplace marching in front of a banner.


In late 2001, a spontaneous rebellion erupted in Argentina when the government decided to freeze bank accounts to forestall a mounting financial crisis precipitated by the IMF-mandated privatization and austerity measures of the 1990s. In under two weeks, popular mobilizations ousted four governments. Against the hierarchical machinations of the political elite, social movements organized democratic neighborhood assemblies and workplace occupations around principles that were increasingly encapsulated in the concept of horizontalism. Occupied workplaces forged networks of mutual aid and assemblies formed locally before establishing inter-neighborhood organisms of direct democracy guided by both the sentiment and the practice of consensus decision-making. This uprising was eminently pre- figurative as it sought to embody the society it desired in its everyday practices. As Marina Sitrin (2006, 4) argues in her influential Horizontalism: Voices of Power in Argentina, horizontalism “is desired and is a goal, but it is also the means – the tool – for achieving this end.” For many, it was “more than an organizational form,” it was “a culture” that promoted new affective relationships and communal solidarity (Sitrin 2006, 49). This culture of openness and rejection of dogma could even impinge upon the consolidation of horizontalism as a fixed entity since, as the Argentine Colectivo Situaciones argued, “horizontalidad should [not] be thought of as a new model, but rather horizontalidad implies that there are no models…. Horizontalidad is the normalization of the multiplicity … The risk is that horizontalidad can silence us, stop our questions, and become an ideology” (Sitrin 2006, 55).

The accounts Sitrin gathered from the direct participants in the Argentine uprising demonstrate that for many, horizontalism was perhaps an anti-ideological ideology composed of a fluid mixture of flexible, participatory, non-dogmatic values and practices oriented around consensus, federalism, and self-management. However, these attitudes and outlooks emerged in a number of different groups and movements long before they were associated with the term “horizontalism.” In Unruly Equality: U. S. Anarchism in the 20th Century, Andrew Cornell (2016) demonstrates how the diffuse remnants of early twentieth-century anarchism that were increasingly inclined toward pacifism and the avant-garde in the 1940s and 1950s

provided theories, values, tactics, and organizational forms, which activists in the antiwar, countercultural, and feminist movements took up [over the following decades]; in turn, these mass movements radicalized hundreds of thousands of people, a portion of whom adopted anarchism as their ideological outlook. (245)

The destruction of the American anarchist movement in the middle of the century and the polarization of the Cold War led many American anarchists to experiment with new tactics and strategies. This included consensus, which was first used by American anarchists in the radical anti-war organization Peacemakers in the late 1940s (Cornell 2016, 180–181). More than a decade later, consensus was introduced into the civil rights organization Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) by Peacemakers organizer James Lawson (Cornell 2016, 229; Carmichael 2003, 300). This influence carried through Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) and other groups into the 1970s and 1980s where the New Hampshire Clamshell Alliance pioneered the use of spokescouncils and affinity groups in the anti-nuclear movement, feminist consciousness-raising circles experimented with non-hierarchical organization, and the Movement for a New Society (MNS) incorporated Quaker consensus methods (Farrell 1997, 241; Anarcho-Feminism 1977; Cornell 2011). During the same decades, similar tendencies were at play in Europe with elements of the feminist, anti-nuclear, and autonomous movements (Katsiaficas 1997). The tradition that these groups forged was adopted by subsequent groups such as the direct action AIDS group ACT UP, the radical environmentalist Earth First!, Food Not Bombs, and others feeding into the global justice movement at the turn of the twenty-first century (Gould 2009; Wall 2002; McHenry 2012). The squares movements of the Arab Spring, 15M, Occupy, Gezi Park, Nuit Debout, and others were in part a reboot of the assemblies, spokescouncils, affinity groups and direct actions of the global justice movement oriented around a specific geographic space in the form of the plaza. Others have been influenced by the concept of rhizomatic organizing put forth by Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari (1987; Chalcraft 2012; Anderson 2013). While the specific practices of these groups and movements varied,

their investment in deliberation, consensus-building, individual participation, diversity, novel technologies, and creative engagement stands as a self-con- scious counterpoint to doctrinaire and hierarchical models of mobilization, political, and religious sectarianisms, polarizing debates over national identity, and even representative forms of democracy. (Anderson 2013, 154)

Horizontalist opposition to representative democracy usually comes in the form of consensus decision-making. Rather than formulating a proposal and simply concerning oneself with accumulating enough votes to push it through, consensus requires participants to take the concerns of the minority seriously and cater proposals to their outlooks. The idea is not that everyone has to agree all the time (the strawman portrayal of consensus), but rather that the majority is forced to make concessions to the minority and, for the group to function, the minority must grow accustomed to tolerating decisions that it finds less than ideal. Consensus seeks to promote not only the formal practice of assuring that proposals will satisfy the minority, but more deeply, a sense of unity within the group and a culture of care that can all too easily get trampled in the pursuit of a voting majority. This form of decision-making works best when all members of a group have a shared sense of purpose. When they don’t, the process grinds to a halt. For example, Occupy Wall Street implemented modified consensus, only requiring 90% rather than 100% agreement, to provide a little breathing room for such occasions. Nevertheless, when members of a body are working at cross purposes it only takes 11% to shut down the objectives of the other 89%. Occupy Wall Street and many of the other squares movements encountered such problems when spontaneously incorporating thousands of random individuals into their decision- making bodies. Even when consensus is practiced by a cohesive group with a shared purpose it carries an inherent bias toward the status quo by making it more difficult to pass a proposal or resolution. As George Lakey of Movement for a New Society remarked, “consensus can be a conservative influence, stifling the prospects of organizational change” (Cornell 2011, 47). Clearly consensus carries a number of pitfalls, but so does majority voting. Ultimately it is very difficult to navigate conflict which is why anarchists place such a great emphasis on voluntary association (and, therefore, voluntary disassociation). Sometimes the only solution is for two groups to go their separate ways rather than forcing them to coexist.

Many of horizontalism’s most energetic advocates view it as means and ends wrapped together into a unified set of practices and values. From this perspective, values inform practices which shift as they encounter varied circumstances. In turn, the horizontalist hostility to “dogma” allows values to adjust to the needs of the people as movement contexts twist and turn. Horizontalism’s “non-ideological,” “apolitical” focus on form, practice, and immediate problem-solving over large- scale “sectarian” conflicts has endowed this historically specific tendency with a portability and adaptability that has allowed it to flourish in contexts as different as rural Greece and lower Manhattan, Istanbul and Hong Kong. Unsurprisingly, the politics undergirding horizontalism have varied drastically. This is unproble- matic if one has no predetermined goal; if one adheres to the liberal notion I have referred to elsewhere as “outcome neutrality” (Bray 2014). Yet, anarchism has always been about much more than direct democracy; it is a revolutionary socialist ideology grounded in anti-domination politics as well as non-hierarchical practice.

Demonstration contingent of the Frente de Estudiantes Libertarios (FEL) with banner "10 years building popular power" Anarchism and Horizontalism

Anarchist responses to the growth of popular horizontalism have ranged from elation to disgust, with many in between. Those who have been more enthusiastic have viewed horizontalist movements as opportunities for the mass promotion of non-hierarchical politics while critics have seen them as betrayals of truly horizontal principles especially as they have ventured into electoralism. There are a range of anarchist responses to horizontalism, as the examples below from Spain, the United States, and Turkey will demonstrate.

The shared federalism [3] of anarchism and horizontalism can be traced back to the eighteenth century. While one can also trace it back even further, in terms of the history of socialism it makes sense to start with the influence of the dictatorial Jacobin “republic of virtue” during the French Revolution, which pioneered elements of central planning and modern conscription. Over the following decades, the European republican movement was split between Jacobins and their sympathizers who longed for a renewed “reign of terror” and federal republicans who were aghast at the bloody consequences of centralized authority, even in the hands of republicans, and instead advocated local and regional autonomy. Unsurprisingly, many of the first disciples of the anti-authoritarian works of Proudhon and Bakunin began their political lives as federal republicans while many Marxists have hailed the Jacobin dictatorship as a preview of their desired dictatorship of the proletariat (Zimmer 2015, 73; Esenwein 1989, 16–17; Maura 1975, 68; Toledo and Biondi 2010, 365; Lenin 1975; Mayer 1999).

Anarchists advanced the federal republican opposition to centralization by forming a critique of the state, whether federal or centralized, and developing modes of struggle and methods of self-organizing that reflected the world they sought to create. Most Marxists reject the notion that anything approximating communism could be enacted in a capitalist society and therefore conclude that the form that an organization or party takes is only of instrumental value. For Marxist-Leninists, for example, this essentially amounts to the position that it is acceptable for a vanguard party to act in the best interest of the proletariat – to act as the proletariat would allegedly act if it had already achieved full class consciousness – as long as the same end result of communism is eventually achieved (though, of course, it never was). For most anarchists, however, the society of the future will inevitably reflect the values, principles, and practices that went into making it.

To understand how anarchists have attempted to put this idea into pre- figurative practice, it’s important to distinguish between what David Graeber (2002) and others have come to refer to as “capital-A” and “small-a” anarchism. Although the gap that separates the two tendencies is often vastly overstated, the distinction can help us identify the connection between consensus and majority decision making and the areas of overlap that exist between anarchism and horizontalism. The anarchists that Graeber referred to as “capital-A” anarchists are much more self-consciously influenced by the legacy of “classical” anarchism (from roughly the 1860s to 1940). They tend to focus on the construction of large federal organizations, such as anarcho-syndicalist unions or anarchist communist federations, that operate by majority voting with a strong focus on class struggle and mass resistance. Historically such organizations have operated by federating local unions or political groups into regional, national, and even international bodies that operate by majority voting as carried out by recallable mandated delegates. As opposed to parliamentary democracy where elected representatives decide on behalf of their constituents, anarchist delegates are only empowered to express the perspective of their union or locality. Legislative power remains at the base level while allowing collective self-management to scale up. This does not mean that such systems become hierarchical, rather they allow locally-grounded decision-making bodies to coordinate across large regions. Lately consensus has become so ubiquitous in certain horizontalist/anarchist circles that some don’t realize that the majority of anarchists throughout history have implemented majoritarian voting.

The anarchists that Graeber referred to as “small-a” anarchists are generally those whose anarchism has grown out of the anti-authoritarian and countercultural currents of the Cold War era rather than “classical” anarchism. They tend to create smaller, less formally structured groups and collectives that operate by consensus, associate with more countercultural milieux, and focus on non-class politics such as environmentalism or feminism. “Small-a” anarchist collectives are essentially examples of small-scale horizontalism infused with anarchist politics. This is unsurprising considering the fact that horizontalism and “small-a” anarchism grew out of the same post-war constellation of non-hierarchical, consensus- oriented groups discussed above, and “small-a” anarchists were among the original organizers of many recent manifestations of popular horizontalism. This demonstrates that, to some extent, horizontalism grew out of certain strains of anarchism. They part ways, however, when horizontal practice is divorced from anti-authoritarian politics. Certainly some anarchists eventually disowned the horizontalist movements they helped create because they allegedly strayed too far in a popular and/or reformist direction away from the more intentional and explicitly radical designs some of their early organizers had envisioned. Yet, pro-mass-movement anarchists (whether of a “smaller” orientation or not) have continued to play important roles in horizontalist movements because they see them as opportunities to promote elements of anarchist politics on a large scale.

I was certainly among those who joined Occupy Wall Street in order to advance the movement’s non-hierarchical agenda and infuse it with more anarchist content while maintaining its popular appeal. I made a case for such an approach in my book Translating Anarchy: The Anarchism of Occupy Wall Street where I documented how 72% of OWS organizers in New York City had explicitly anarchist or implicitly anarchistic politics (Bray 2013). For these anarchist(ic) organizers, and their counterparts in other movements, the horizontalist movement is a broad, dynamic space where popular struggles can interact with revolutionary politics, ideally shifting through such comingling. Such struggles are opportunities for anarchists to reclaim the mantle of democracy and attack what they consider to be the fraud of hierarchical, capitalist, representative government. In the United States, for example, anarchists have had some of their greatest successes winning liberals and centrists over to their ideas by arguing that non- hierarchical direct democracy is the only true democracy. In a country where the ideal, if not the actual practice, of democracy is universally revered, such arguments can strike a popular chord.

Yet not all anarchists have been equally enamored with the squares movements. Some anarchists rejected Occupy either because their local encampment truly was reformist (the politics of the many Occupy encampments ranged widely) or because they were hostile to popular politics that was not explicitly anarchist (Bray 2013, 168). In Spain, for instance, many anarchists supported and participated in their 15M movement for similar reasons as the anarchists of Occupy, but a significant number withheld their full support because they considered the movement to be reformist (Taibo 2011; 2014). Even when some of the anarchist unions wanted to support a 15M march, for example, they were frustrated by the movement’s refusal to have unions and parties march with their flags which stemmed from the 15M’s desire to remain “non-sectarian.”

Another interesting element of the relationship between the 15M and Spanish anarchists is that they generally don’t attempt to reclaim the mantle of “democracy” from the political parties and government. For example, a popular 15M chant goes “They call it democracy, and it isn’t.” Once, however, I was marching near a group of anarchists who sarcastically chanted “They call it democracy, and it is!” Here, the intent of the chant is to convince listeners that the corruption and disregard for the masses that epitomized the government is inherent to its very nature. From an anarchist perspective, that is what governmental “democracy” is and will always be. In part this stems from the popular association between the post-Franco parliamentary regime and the term “democracy.” For many Spaniards, the government that has been in power since the 1970s is “la democracia,” and therefore the term has more of a specific meaning than in the United States, where it is understood more as an egalitarian decision-making method that the government allegedly happens to embody.

In 2013, the Spanish Grupos Anarquistas Coordinados (Coordinated Anarchist Groups) published a little book called Contra la democracia (Against Democracy). This book created quite a stir in Spain in December 2014 when it was cited as evidence to support the arrest in Catalonia and Madrid of eleven people from Spain, Italy, Uruguay, and Austria accused of being members of what the state claimed was “a terrorist organization of an anarchist nature” responsible for “several bomb attacks” (“Catalan Police” 2014). In what came to be known as Operation Pandora, seven of the original eleven were held on terrorist charges because they had “Riseup” e-mail accounts, owned copies of Contra la democracia, and were found with a canister of camping gas. Later, the Chilean anarchist Francisco Javier Solar, who was ultimately convicted with fellow Chilean Mónica Caballero of bombing the Pilar Basilica in Zaragoza in 2013, denied accusations of being one of the text’s main authors (Pérez 2016).

Given the importance that the authorities placed on this text, one might assume that it’s a bloodthirsty bomb-making manual, but in fact, it’s simply a historical analysis and critique of democracy. The book’s introduction concludes by arguing that “If we believe that democracy is liberty we will never stop being slaves. We will unmask this great lie! We will construct anarchy” (Grupos Anarquistas Coordinados 2013, 8). Later, in its only reference to the 15M, the text attacks the movement, because it “asks for electoral reforms that benefit the small political parties … it propagates citizenism (ciudadanismo) as ideology; a ‘democratization’ of the police … [and] the total pacification of conflicts through mediation and delegation by a corps of social services professionals” (Grupos Anarquistas Coordinados 2013, 68). Yet, despite these critiques of “democracia” and the 15M, the authors of this text are not against all directly democratic organizing. They advocate the creation of networks of social centers, free schools, and other bodies “to build a new society capable of freely self-managing (the only real sense that the term ‘democracy’ could have) …” (Grupos Anarquistas Coordinados 2013, 66). That, of course, is exactly what anarchists who call for true direct democracy have in mind. Contra la democracia shows us that although many anarchists in Spain and elsewhere may have a very similar vision of the future self- management of a post-capitalist society, some find it strategically useful to fight to reclaim “democracy” while others seek to permanently discard it.

Much of the reluctance that anarchists have had in getting involved in the Spanish 15M and other movements has had to do with the prevalent tendency of horizontalist mass movements to be siphoned into non-horizontal, electoral politics. The allure of representative government is so powerful that although early on movements may proclaim “¡Que se vayan todos!” (“Get rid of them all!”) in Argentina or “¡Que no nos representan!” (“They don’t represent us!”) in Spain, frequently such cries are transformed into calls for horizontalism to be extended into office through the ballot box. Often such arguments are couched in terms of the perspective that after the initial wave of protest has raised awareness about an issue, what is necessary is to transition into the “serious work of making concrete change” through governing. In Spain, the most significant party that grew out of the 15M was Podemos (We can) which has formed electoral coalitions with other similar parties and platforms like Barcelona en Comú (Barcelona in Common) and Ganemos Madrid (Let’s win Madrid) which calls for the promotion of “democratic municipalism” and the creation of political structures that are “democratic, horizontal, inclusive, and participatory …” (Ganemos Madrid 2016). Their rhetoric is rife with horizontalist references to “autonomy” and “autogestión” (self-management). They essentially claim to be merging the spirit and ideals of horizontalist assembly with the lamentable “necessity” of taking office. Moreover, they fully embrace horizontalism’s antagonism toward formal ideology by rejecting the left/right binary and eschewing the usual trappings of leftism. Yet, within a year Podemos had already drastically moderated its platform to cater to the electoral center, thereby alienating a number of the party’s more leftist leaders who later resigned (“Spain’s Poll-Topping” 2014; Hedgecoe 2016). After the June 2016 elections Podemos leader Pablo Iglesias announced that it was time for his unconventional horizontalist party to become “normalized,” and enter a phase “of much more conventional politics.” He even went so far as to argue that “this idiocy that we used to say when we were of the extreme left that things change in the street and not in the institutions is a lie” (Ríos 2016).

Turkish anarchists also formulated critiques of horizontalism. As the Gezi Park occupation movement of 2013 in Istanbul’s Taksim Square developed, the Turkish anarchist organization Devrimci Anarsist Faaliyet (Revolutionary Anarchist Action, DAF) distributed hundreds of copies of a pamphlet it had written called “An anarchist criticism to ‘Occupy’ as an activity of ‘99%.’” The pamphlet sought to diagnose what the group perceived to be the reformism and depoliticization of Occupy. It argued that the tactics of Occupy have “worn a libertarian discourse but [are] far far away from practicing it …” and instead the movement tended, in their eyes, “to consume concepts such as occupy, direct democracy, freedom, action etc.” While the pamphlet contains many insightful critiques of Occupy, certain elements of the authors’ analysis suffered from the extreme distance separating them from events on the ground. At a meeting with several of the pamphlet’s authors years later at the DAF office in Istanbul, I had the opportunity to answer their questions and clarify some misconceptions that they and many others had developed about Occupy Wall Street through the press and speak about the centrality of anarchist organizers. Nevertheless, the heart of their critique about the misapplication of libertarian principles applied to many (if not most) Occupy encampments and horizontalist movements in general. Despite the presence of DAF and their pamphlet, the Gezi Park movement also experienced electoral spinoffs such as the Gezi Party. Seeking to remain true to the movement’s horizontalism, the party claimed that its leaders would only act as “spokespersons” (“Official Gezi Party” 2013).

Similar developments would have unfolded during the Occupy movement in the United States if it weren’t for the narrowness of the two party system. Yet, several years later, many former Occupiers campaigned for Bernie Sanders in his failed bid for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination. Certainly many who participated in Occupy before supporting Sanders were simply leftists who travel from one manifestation of left populism to the next without any allegiance to (or often direct knowledge of) horizontalism. Others, however, attempted to argue that the Sanders campaign was an extension of Occupy. This was manifest in an article titled “Occupy the Party” from the Not An Alternative collective that appealed to former Occupiers to treat the campaign “like any street or park and occupy it” (Not An Alternative 2016). In the name of pragmatic populism, this article sought to drain the term “occupy” of its associations with direct action, direct democracy, “leaderlessness,” and revolutionary politics to convince readers that it can be used as a catchy shorthand for buying into the cult of personality developing around a moderate social democrat attempting to burrow into a strati- fied, capitalist political party. From an anarchist perspective, parks and streets are terrain of struggle that can be occupied because non-hierarchical, direct action politics can be transplanted onto them. Working within political parties, especially those like the Democratic Party, requires jettisoning those practices and incorporating oneself into the party structure. As the Irish Workers Solidarity Movement organizer Andrew Flood (2014) argued in his essay “An anarchist critique of horizontalism,” “horizontalism without a vision and method for revolution simply provides protest fodder behind which one government can be replaced with another.” Indeed, many anti-horizontal organizers, have been perfectly willing to humor the directly democratic “quirks” of horizontalist movements while biding their time waiting for opportunities to convert popular upheavals into “protest fodder” for reformist objectives cloaked in the imagery of rebellion.

Demonstrators holding banner saying "Tenants Run This City" in Bronx, NYC Conclusion

Debates over electoral participation within horizontalist movements are merely the latest rounds of a conflict that has challenged the broader socialist movement since the nineteenth century. Although his position changed several times, ever since Proudhon advocated electoral abstention in 1857 in response to the authoritarianism of Napoleon III, conflicts over electoralism have raged (Graham 2015, 62). Historically anarchists have opposed parliamentary participation for a variety of reasons, including their opposition to the hierarchical nature of representation, their rejection of the social democratic notion that it is possible to vote away capitalism (a goal that social democrats eventually discarded), and their argument that, as Mikhail Bakunin phrased it, “worker-deputies, transplanted into a bourgeois environment … will in fact cease to be workers and, becoming Statesmen, they will become … perhaps even more bourgeois than the Bourgeois themselves” (quoted in Graham 2015, 116).

In 1979 a group of German radicals attempted to bypass the dichotomy of socialist workers’ parties and anarchist abstentionism to create a non-hierarchical “anti-party” that would operate based on consensus and rotate their representatives to preserve their commitment to direct democracy. This attempt to stuff horizontalism into the ballot box was called the Green Party. Despite the best of intentions, internal conflicts and “realist” calls for “pragmatism” doomed the party once it entered parliament. Within less than a decade it had become simply another left party (Katsiaficas 1997, 205–208).

In the wake of the sectarian strife of the twentieth century, many radicals have found refuge in the anti-ideological ideology of horizontalism. Yet, as we can see, it is often insufficient to guarantee truly horizontal and non-hierarchical outcomes. Even apart from electoralism, horizontalist movements have at times struggled to counteract the encroachment of patriarchal, homophobic, transphobic, white supremacist, and ableist tendencies that inevitably come when broad swaths of society are suddenly brought together. I can still hear the common refrain of many white men in Occupy Wall Street that we had “lost sight of Wall Street” as our main focus when we addressed race or gender. Horizontalist movements spread notions of direct democracy, direct action, mutual aid, and autonomy far and wide. This is incredibly important insofar as they influence broader cultures of resistance and extend beyond the standard reach of most radicalism. Since political ideologies are digested whole only by their most committed militants, shifting political sentiments and practices in mass contexts is essential. Yet, the horizontalist reliance on form over content runs the risk of producing a muddled populism that is easily redirected away from its non-hierarchical origins. As the work of Michael Freeden (1996) suggests, the meaning of horizontalism shifts depending on its political content. From an anarchist perspective, this illustrates the value of anarchism’s holistic analysis of the interrelatedness of all forms of domination and the interconnectedness of forms of self-management and their political outcomes. While they differed on the details, anarchists from Mikhail Bakunin to Errico Malatesta, from Nestor Makhno to the creators of the Federación Anarquista Ibérica (FAI) in Spain have agreed on the need for anarchists to collectively engage with mass movements to disseminate their truly horizontal political visions.

  1. I would like to thank Stephen Roblin, Deric Shannon, Miguel Pérez, Özgür Oktay, and Yesenia Barragan for their insightful feedback and helpful information.
  2. By “leaderless,” Occupy and others really referred to the absence of institutional leadership, not the absence of those who lead. Hence the shift some made toward the term “leaderful” which implied that in a horizontalist movement anyone could become a leader by getting involved.
  3. I use the terms “federal” and “federalism” to refer to broadly decentralized forms of organization. Certainly the anarchist use of the terms “federation” or “confederation” to describe their organizations, such as the Fédération Anarchiste in France and Belgium or the Confederación Nacional del Trabajo in Spain, entails a greater level of decentralization than the federal state advocated by federalist republicans. Nevertheless, there is a shared tendency

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Bray, Mark. 2014. “Five Liberal Tendencies that Plagued Occupy.” Roar Magazine, May 14.

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“Catalan Police Take Down Anarchist Terror Group in Barcelona and 1,000 Supporters March in Protest.” 2014. The Spain Report, December 16. https://www.thespainreport. com/articles/91-141216201022-catalan-police-take-down-anarchist-terror-group-in-ba rcelona-and-1-000-supporters-march-in-protest.

Chalcraft, John. 2012. “Horizontalism in the Egyptian Revolutionary Process.” Middle East Report 262: 7.

Cornell, Andrew. 2011. Oppose and Propose!: Lessons from Movement for a New Society. Oakland, CA: AK Press.

Cornell, Andrew. 2016. Unruly Equality: U. S. Anarchism in the 20th Century. Oakland, CA: University of California Press.

Deleuze, Gilles, and Felix Guattari. 1987. A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

Esenwein, George R. 1989. Anarchist Ideology and the Working-Class Movement in Spain, 1868–1898. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Farrell, James J. 1997. The Spirit of the Sixties: The Making of Postwar Radicalism. New York: Routledge.

Flood, Andrew. 2014. “An anarchist critique of horizontalism.” Anarchist Writers, May 2.

Freeden, Michael. 1996. Ideologies and Political Theory: A Conceptual Approach. Oxford: Clarendon. Ganemos Madrid. 2016. “Organización.” nograma/,

Graeber, David. 2002. “The New Anarchists.” New Left Review 13 (January-February): 61–73. Graham, Robert. 2015. We Do Not Fear Anarchy, We Invoke It: The First International and the Origins of the Anarchist Movement. Oakland, CA: AK Press. Grupos Anarquistas Coordinados. 2013. “Contra la democracia.” https://es-contrainfo.esp

Gould, Deborah B. 2009. Moving Politics: Emotion and Act Up’s Fight Against AIDS. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Hedgecoe, Guy. 2016. “Podemos Leaders Under Pressure Over Resignations.” The Irish Times, March 19. s-under-pressure-over-resignations-1.2579053.

Katsiaficas, George. 1997. The Subversion of Politics: European Autonomous Social Movements and the Decolonization of Everyday Life. Atlantic Highlands, NJ: Humanities Press. Lenin, V. I. 1975. “Enemies of the People.” In The Lenin Anthology, edited by Robert C. Tucker, 305–306. New York: W.W. Norton & Company.

Maitron, Jean. 1992. Le mouvement anarchiste en France: Des origines à 1914. Paris: Gallimard.

Maura, Joaquin Romero. 1975. La rosa de fuego: el obrerismo barcelonés de 1899 a 1909. Barcelona: Ediciones Grijalbo.

Mayer, Robert. 1999. “Lenin and the Jacobin Identity in Russia.” Studies in East European Thought 51(2): 127–154.

McHenry, Keith. 2012. Hungry for Peace: How You Can Help End Poverty and War with Food Not Bombs. Tucson: See Sharp Press.

Not An Alternative. 2016. “Occupy the Party: The Sanders Campaign as a Site of Struggle.”
Roar Magazine, February 16.

“Official Gezi Party Founded After Summer Protests.” 2013. Hurriyet Daily News, October 24. ests.aspx?PageID=238&NID=56754&NewsCatID=338.

Pérez, Fernando J. 2016. “Los anarquistas chilenos se desligan de la bomba en el Pilar de Zaragoza.” El País, March 8. d/1457428132_007140.html.

Ríos, Daniel. 2016. “Iglesias anuncia el findel‘asalto’ yelintento…” infolibre, July 6. quot_busca_convertir_podemos_una_fuerza_politica_quot_normalizada_quot_52046_ 1012.html.

itrin, Marina, ed. 2006. Horizontalism: Voices of Popular Power in Argentina. Oakland, CA:
AK Press. Spain’s Poll-Topping Podemos Tones Down Radical Plans in Manifesto.” 2014. Reuters, November 28. 20141128.

Taibo, Carlos. 2011. El 15-M en sesenta preguntas. Madrid: Catarata.

Taibo, Carlos. 2014. El 15-M. Una brevísima introducción. Madrid: Catarata.

Toledo, Edilene, and Luigi Biondi. 2010. “Constructing Syndicalism and Anarchism Globally: The Transnational Making of the Syndicalist Movement in São Paulo, Brazil, 1895–1935.” In Anarchism and Syndicalism in the Colonial and Postcolonial World, 1870–1940: The Praxis of National Liberation, Internationalism, and Social Revolution, edited by Steven Hirsch and Lucien Van der Walt, 363–393. Leiden: Brill.

Wall, Derek. 2002. Earth First! and the Anti-Roads Movement: Radical Environmentalism and
Comparative Social Movements. London: Routledge.

Zimmer, Kenyon. 2015. Immigrants Against the State: Yiddish and Italian Anarchism in America. Urbana: University of Illinois Press.

For more content by Mark Bray we recommend his interview with WNYC “Antifa Means No Free Speech for Fascism.” For more on anarchism generally we recommend listening to Mark Bray’s interview on Revolutionary Left Radio.




Tags: Black Rose Anarchist Federationhorizontalismcategory: Essays
Categories: News

Occupy ICE Portland: Lessons from the Barricades

Anarchist News - Thu, 07/12/2018 - 09:56

From CrimethInc.

Another Perspective

We are publishing one more analysis from participants in the blockade of the Portland facilities of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). After our previous reports, “The ICE Age Is Over: Reflections from the ICE Blockades” and “Occupy ICE Portland: Policing Revolution?” we reached out to other participants for an additional perspective on the situation. As we emphasized before, our collective has no official position on issues internal to the occupation; we are simply passing on the reports of anarchists who are involved. We urge you to support those arrested in the ICE blockades and participate in the struggle for a world without borders or white supremacy.

A nebulous line exists between reality and dreams. This line, like any other border, is itself unreal. We know that our dreams can and do become reality. Thoughts become deeds. Lies, told often enough, are considered true. Those in power absorb radical messages (even #AbolishICE) and twist them into new horrors. How do we intervene when our words and actions will be used against us?

With this analysis, we hope to add to conversations that are occurring all around the world. We encourage strategic thinking and storytelling, mourning, celebration, hostility, and rest. We will explore three key issues within the Portland occupation and other Occupy movements. We hope that you can find ways these relate to your local movement or occupation and perhaps to other situations moving forward.

Anarchism is an ideology of both subtle distinctions and hard lines. Sometimes, an uncompromising action can shift the Overton Window in dramatic and inspiring ways. Introducing anarchistic ideals into popular discussion is a way to move toward freedom and liberation and away from repression and authoritarianism. Already, thanks to the daily efforts of various affinity organizations around the US, we see the discourse on immigration reform shifting to include conversations about abolition: abolishing the agencies that are the militarized arms of enforcement, abolishing the criminalization of migration, abolishing national borders altogether. Many of these conversations were previously unthinkable within the prevailing narrative.

We hope to address the conflict between working within or replicating the structures and methods of the state, on the one hand, and creating a space for autonomous organizing that can maintain integrity while accomplishing a set goal, on the other. We argue that the analysis that gives rise to reformist tendencies is incomplete, which makes it dangerous—especially when it comes to planning direct action campaigns with participants who are targeted by state violence.

We also intend to address the emergence of individualistic dynamics within ostensibly collective projects, the ways that hierarchies can emerge within horizontal groups, and the complicity of the government of Portland with federal actors. We continue to examine and learn from our mistakes and successes, and hope others can learn from them, too.

Reform and Abolition: The Defanging of #AbolishICE

One of the lessons that our time at the camp drove home is that reform will never accomplish our goals. The state is a machine that aims to destroy us. Even if, in times of emergency, we may have to work with representatives of the state to ensure the safety of our neighbors, we must always be aware of the state’s motives—which revolve around profit and control, never around liberation.

We saw this play out on many levels. A few days after the establishment of the camp, the first round of reformists arrived. These were local groups and individuals, self-appointed or charismatic leaders, who saw an opportunity, smelled notoriety. They brought local influence, connections to sympathetic politicians, and a kind of celebrity that brought in numbers and offered a degree of legitimacy with business owners and middle-class society. These low-level influencers began the process of softening the militancy that had originally established the camp. There were discussions about the barriers that should be put in place for the community. General Assemblies were made less general, with more qualifications imposed on who was a part of the “community,” depending on amount of time spent in camp and personal preferences. Discourse began to form about “good” and “bad” protestors. Decisions were made unilaterally. A group was told to leave the camp for graffiti and others for personal misunderstandings. As liberalism crept in, respect for autonomy evaporated. The original discussions about self-determination were discarded in favor of “security teams” with arbitrary training standards that were imposed upon the camp rather than agreed on by participants. Another danger of reformist thinking is the constant replication of statist structures and a seeming inability to see beyond those false parameters.

The stage was set for activists who aim to get elected. Liberals hold that the abuses of ICE and U.S. Customs and Border Protection will be resolved by bureaucratic restructuring and that it is possible to negotiate with the heavily armored Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and FBI Hostage Rescue Team (HRT). The most explicit example of this was when activists assisted federal police in dismantling the camp’s defensive barricades, but there are many other examples.

Most perniciously, self-appointed “leaders” approached DHS and brokered a deal. Within 48 hours, Homeland Security and ICE had moved back into the building. These “leaders” negotiated this agreement on behalf of the commune without disclosure or consent. They did so without proper legal representation or good information about the relevant laws. This secret decision, made perhaps out of fear, brought fear to the entire camp. Always remember: the state does not have to tell you the truth. The purposes of law enforcement are well served when you are scared and unsure, cut off from your comrades and the real support that is provided by community, not government.

This prepared the ground for the next level NGO-type “mass mobilization” groups who wanted to use the fame of the camp to promote their own organizations’ specific policy goals. Other groups distanced themselves from the action to preserve their connections with governmental and private financing.

At this point, the desire of reformists to move the battle into some sort of policy framework came out into the open. Abolitionists confined themselves to demanding that the requested reforms be material rather than merely symbolic: not just catchphrase policies, but those that would support the long-term demands and goals of affected communities.

The purpose of anarchism is not to establish an anarchist state. It is to disrupt and delegitimize all the functions of the state itself and to agitate continually for increased autonomy. Liberalism and reform politics aim for compromise in a way that necessarily undermines true revolutionary work.

It is important to keep messaging clear from the start. We must establish up front that we do not want to replace ICE with an updated version of Immigration and Naturalization Services, which would still imprison people for traveling. We want to abolish ICE and everything it does completely. We do not want to secure the border. We do not want immigration reform, but to stop all deportations immediately, abolish immigration imprisonment, abolish borders in so-called North America, decriminalize movement, and undermine the logic of “citizen versus migrant.” This is not about simply the abolition of ICE, but the decolonization of North America. The toughest opposition to this messaging will always be the liberals and the people concerned about “optics” above all.

If you have the energy for it, you can talk with these people about how borders, imprisonment, and police perpetuate centuries of violence including slavery, the colonization of North America, and Western imperialism. If not, you could ask them to read this.

The intersections between “No Border” work and prison abolition have never been more salient. These are rich traditions that offer us long histories to build on. The fight against borders is not our struggle alone. We will not be the primary authors of this resistance. Just as new relationships have been forged in the uprisings against police brutality, the time is ripe for us to build new connections in the fight against the internalization of the border. This will require more nuances and a contemplative approach. It is time to resist specific strategies of enforcement and establish alliances based on shared goals—not necessarily on shared ideology.

Hierarchy and How It Weakens Our Movements

Leadership and influence are not bad things in and of themselves. Hierarchy is not defined by the presence of influential leaders alone. It is a form of manipulative leadership that makes secret decisions and frames dissent as unacceptable, often employing fear or guilt as tools to compel compliance (for example, “If you make the action too radical, you are responsible for what the police do to vulnerable communities”). It involves hoarding power and information—and hoarding information during confrontations with the state is very dangerous. People may do so out of a desire to feel important, rather than because they actually wish to collaborate with police, but regardless, it renders the larger group more vulnerable to the state.

For example, a local paper published an article mentioning that a

“document obtained by WW… suggests occupiers may be risking far more serious charges… Oregon’s chief deputy federal defender, Steve Sady… handed out copies of the document at a meeting with a small group of key protest organizers Saturday.”

This is a perfect example of how the state co-opts existing dynamics and plays on personal fear. This was collaboration with the state, plain and simple, without the knowledge or consent of anyone outside this “key” group. They made a secret deal with the state, placing the value of their own judgment above the judgment of the entirety of the rest of the camp.

Lack of information makes it impossible to make transparent, consensus-based decisions. It makes it harder to build a strong, cohesive movement, and spreads feelings of distrust and fear. People make poor decisions when they act out of fear. The state is counting on us being afraid so they can squash our movements before we even get started. This evolved into a tangible fear throughout the camp by the first weekend.

To reiterate, hierarchy is not merely the presence of power; power moves dynamically at all times, in all interactions. Hierarchy is the abuse of power and an attitude of egotistical entitlement to leadership, and often involves leaders whose leadership role the group has not consented to. This is how situations played out at camp, time and time again. There were no roundtable discussions, group consensus, or even transparency of information or intentions. Individuals appointed themselves “leaders” and the camp followed their instructions, allowing these “leaders” to take away their autonomy. This is how these “leaders” turned into “key protest organizers” and effectively sold the camp out to federal agents within the first five days of the occupation. Hierarchy and patriarchy work well together, and this empowered the “leaders” to do the state’s job for them.

To be clear, these hierarchical dynamics can occur within our own anarchist affinity groups. We need to remember how much work there is to be done. It is foolish to decide independently that your group of five will be the only people on site who are empowered to do security, or that only one single person should work on media messaging. We certainly don’t all share the same skills—and we don’t need to. Liberation movements need to empower everyone to contribute the skills they have, or else hierarchies will emerge and weaken the movement, stopping some people from contributing or developing their own strengths and stopping others from even being curious about what strengths other people might have.

Hierarchy is power calcified into tropes. In our society, the common tropes of power are white-skinned, bullying, and misogynist. We have to be careful not to fall into those tropes ourselves, no matter how radical our ideologies are. White supremacy and misogyny are so widespread that they offer opportunities for the state to undermine and disrupt radical movements. Even if the destructive dynamics are not coming from state infiltrators, the disruption and damage to the movement is the same.

To illustrate the toxic intersection between patriarchy and state violence, we can recall Brandon Darby, an FBI informant who infiltrated the Common Ground Collective in New Orleans, which formed to take direct action in response to Hurricane Katrina, and then an activist community planning actions at the 2008 Republican National Convention. Participants had described Brandon’s behavior as patriarchal and predatory long before it turned out that he was working with federal agents to entrap unwary young activists.

In Portland, some of the leaders were not white nor male, but their actions perpetuated recurring issues of hierarchy, patriarchy, and capitulation to the state. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter if it’s a cop, an informant, a troll, or simply a liberal being a liberal. Pay attention to how people’s behavior impacts your collective ability to achieve your goals.

Our goal is not to spread paranoia or gossip among radicals regarding who might be a snitch, but to provide information on what has hurt us in the past and how to avoid replicating these dynamics in the future.

Collusion between State and Federal Actors: Greasing the Cogs of the Fascist Machine

City and state actors have collaborated with federal institutions like Homeland Security and ICE. This advances the aims of authoritarianism. We need to develop a widespread hostility to policing efforts, both those of state agents and the moral, political, and tactical policing of individuals who think they know how to govern the struggle.

Portland is a “sanctuary city.” A sanctuary city (or county, or state) is a governmental entity that limits its cooperation with ICE agents in order to protect low-priority immigrants from deportation—while still turning over those immigrants who have committed additional crimes.

In February 2017, Portland City Council voted to fund immigration assistance for migrants, and shortly after, voted to declare Portland a “sanctuary city,” expressing their disinclination to assist ICE in finding and deporting undocumented immigrants. Many people in Portland who believe in the workings of city government thought that this meant that the city council and the mayor would actively protect at least low-priority immigrants from deportation. “The City of Portland will remain a welcoming, safe place for all people,” Mayor Ted Wheeler said in a statement.
However, a local newspaper published an article debunking this:

“…review of more than 1000 internal communications between federal immigration and Oregon law enforcement agencies shows many local officials are already testing the limits of so-called sanctuary laws. At least 11 agencies—including the Oregon State Police, the Portland Police Bureau and the Oregon Department of Corrections—may have shared more information than was required in 2017.”

Regarding the mayor’s promise that Portland police “will not work with ICE to enforce federal immigration law,” the same article states that

“Portland police shared several unredacted police reports with the federal agency in 2017. But that was before a policy change on February 1. Unlike the DA’s office, Portland police decided that providing public records is barred by the state’s sanctuary law, a spokesman says. The bureau now charges federal immigration officials for the reports and redaction.”

So, the only thing that changed is that the Portland Police Bureau now makes money from the requests for information it still fulfills. This doesn’t protect people. It just makes money for the police.

Portland police are at OccupyICEPDX, even though the mayor stated definitively they would not be used to enforce federal law. Portland police have been onsite at Occupy since the second day, establishing their presence on the perimeters of the camp, directing traffic off the main road, and surveilling those staying at and supporting the emerging Temporary Autonomous Zone. Blogger and occupier Andrew Sorg had a strange interaction with a masked DHS officer, in which Sorg asked if he was a Portland police officer. The officer refused to answer and excused himself from the line shortly thereafter.

Portland’s complicity with the FBI and the Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) significantly affects the landscape of political action in Portland. Treating protest as a threat to national security means that all protestors are considered potential terrorists who can therefore be handled at the federal level. An attorney for the ACLU of Oregon, one of the groups active against the JTTF, states that “lack of transparency also makes it very difficult to know how and when rights violations involve Portland police officers who are deputized as JTTF officers and who operate under the authority of the FBI.”

On a state level, Oregon has had a sanctuary state law since 1987, a law that was prompted by the landmark civil rights case Trevino v. Dahlin. Oregon’s sanctuary law states:

“No law enforcement agency of the State of Oregon or of any political subdivision of the state shall use agency moneys, equipment or personnel for the purpose of detecting or apprehending persons whose only violation of law is that they are persons of foreign citizenship present in the United States in violation of federal immigration laws.”

This law was supported by conservative lawmakers, law enforcement and civil rights organizations alike—by conservatives and law enforcement for keeping state funds from enforcing federal law, and by civil rights organizations for preserving civil liberties. Current efforts like Initiative Petition 22, proposed by the anti-immigrant hate group, Oregonians for Immigration Reform, seek to repeal these protections and encourage the use of state funds to pay for federal investigations and enforcement, at the same time that California and Texas are trying to pass state sanctuary laws that mimic the 1987 Oregon legislation.

DHS has jurisdiction on federal property, like the Portland federal courthouse and the plaza across the street, where fascist groups like Patriot Prayer and associated groups (including Traditionalist Worker’s Party, Identity Europa, Hellshaking Street Preachers, American Freedom Keepers, and the Oath Keepers) have organized eight different rallies in the last year in Portland alone. Time and again, DHS and the Portland police collaborate to referee rallies, protests, and counter-protests. They have collected information on protesters and bystanders alike during past actions.

The information that Portland police collect is now available either for free or at a small price to the FBI. This includes the personal information of those kettled in crowd control activity, which the police promised they would delete and did not. Increasing collusion between the federal and local government means more surveillance, tighter information networks, and increasingly punitive actions against protesters.


Finally, we have to address how white supremacy in left-leaning and radical circles impacted the camp and the blockade.

To be clear, white people should never speak on behalf of affected communities. We should prevent white people from centering themselves in this struggle financially, physically, and politically. It makes sense to exclude white people from certain spaces. All incoming support should be directed to people and organizations that have been fighting against US ethnic cleansing. White people should be humble about their place in the fight.

With all that said, white people must not uncritically follow the leadership of people of color regardless of the political content of that leadership. Hostile forces have used this tendency as a tool to undermine the movement. We have seen the supposed differences between white and non-white activists manipulated and exacerbated. People’s motivations for using this rhetoric may have been narcissism, a desire to hold power, or a belief that they were carrying out orders. Ultimately, it does not matter. At the end of the day, these dynamics left the camp fraught with power struggles and vulnerable to manipulation. Between these problems and “leaders” negotiating behind closed doors, the camp’s on-the-ground effectiveness was reduced to nothing before the first week was over.

People of color are not a monolith. One person of color should not be given the authority to speak for all people of color or to frame any particular tactic or strategy as “what all people of color want.” Important decisions that affect the group as a whole must be made by group consensus, not by self-appointed leaders or figureheads. This goes double for decisions that specifically impact those who are most targeted by ICE and police forces.

We hope that you are able to apply these observations fruitfully in your own context, whatever that might be. Here are some proposals we consider useful:

  • Research how the immigration system works. Who is involved? Who benefits? What are the bottlenecks, contradictions, and vulnerabilities?
  • Make real connections with and follow the lead of grassroots groups that have been involved in migration and deportation defense.
  • Don’t fixate on a single camp or occupation. The imprisonment and deportation system depends on legal, administrative, material, and information logistics. This means both that the system has many vulnerabilities and that the system is often versatile enough to work through disruptions. We should always be changing and innovating new tactics.
  • Research these groups: GEO Group, CoreCivic (formerly CCA), Global Tel Link (GTL), and Corizon. Find them by their formal names or hidden behind their shell LLCs. Let everyone know who they are, what they do, how much money they’re making, and what people can do to stop them or cost them money. They are probably doing business in your area, so let the community know about their actions.
  • Find out which local companies and contractors are supporting these operations. For example, we found out the name of the company that is leasing the fence to DHS. Put them on blast.
  • Put pressure on local politicians, but expect them to betray you. Call your “representatives” if you want, but create a plan to hold them publicly accountable. Keep their feet to the fire of public scrutiny.
  • Every deportation is potentially life-threatening. The increasing threat of deportation itself silences communities and endangers people. Remind everyone of this regularly and loudly. For some people, there is no “next time.”
  • Download Canva and make memes. Share them. Do what you need to do to get your message trending in the digital age.
  • Billboards and bus stop ads are usually not guarded at night. Get creative. Remember that keeping it simple and bold is the most effective method.
  • We are in a war of attrition. We have to exhaust their resources and their capacity to operate, while undercutting the perceived legitimacy that protects them from the effects of public outrage.
  • Take the initiative. You have complete autonomy. Find ways to take action while supporting yourself and the people around you.
Tags: Crimethinc.ICEmigrationno borderscategory: Essays
Categories: News

Germans favor withdrawal of US troops, not paying more for US 'protection' - poll

Citizens for Legitimate Government - Thu, 07/12/2018 - 06:03

Germans favor withdrawal of US troops, not paying more for US 'protection' - poll | 12 July 2018 | Almost every second German favors the withdrawal of US forces based there, according to a poll taken prior to the NATO summit, at which Donald Trump accused Berlin of relying on Washington's protection and not contributing enough. Some 42 percent of Germans are ready to see 35,000 US troops return home, a new YouGov poll, conducted on behalf of the German Press Agency, revealed. Only 37 percent wanted to see US troops stay in Germany in some capacity. The remaining 21 percent did not decide.

Categories: News

From Donald Trump to Theresa May: How a US-UK Network Pushes Climate Science Denial and Lobbies for a Hard Brexit — Mapped

deSmog - Thu, 07/12/2018 - 05:01
Read time: 7 minsNetwork map of US-UK climate science deniers

Donald Trump has finally come to the UK, 20 months after he won the election to make him the 45th President of the United States.

During that time, a trans-Atlantic network of business people, think tank analysts, and lobbyists have grown in influence — pushing a free market ideology and spreading climate science denial on both sides of the Atlantic.

DeSmog UK first mapped the network when Trump was sworn into office in January 2016. Things have moved on a bit since then.

Tags: Donald TrumpTheresa MayDominic RaabAndrew Wheeler55 Tufton StreetGlobal Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF)Boris JohnsonMichael Goveliam foxMichael HintzeLegatum InstituteShanker Singhamheritage foundationcompetitive enterprise instituteHeartland Institutecato institute
Categories: News

U.S. Marshals 'went to Lisa Page's house three times' to serve a subpoena after she declined to appear before a GOP-led committee to talk about her anti-Trump texts with FBI lover

Citizens for Legitimate Government - Thu, 07/12/2018 - 05:00

U.S. Marshals 'went to Lisa Page's house three times' to serve a subpoena after she declined to appear before a GOP-led committee to talk about her anti-Trump texts with FBI lover | 11 July 2018 | A top Republican on Capitol Hill has sent the United States Marshals Service to deliver a subpoena to a former FBI lawyer who defied an earlier request by Congress to testify about alleged anti-Trump bias within the bureau. Representative Bob Goodlatte, a Republican from Virginia, says he instructed the Marshals to serve a subpoena to Lisa Page, whom he has accused of 'apparently' having 'something to hide.' Earlier on Wednesday, Page defied a congressional subpoena and declined to appear before a closed-door session of the House Judiciary Committee, which Goodlatte chairs. Goodlatte said that initially Page's lawyer agreed to accept the subpoena, but 'then turned around and immediately tried to reject it,' according to Fox News.

Categories: News

Mueller asks court for 100 more blank subpoenas ahead of Manafort trial

Citizens for Legitimate Government - Thu, 07/12/2018 - 04:36

Mueller asks court for 100 more blank subpoenas ahead of Manafort trial| 11 July 2018 | Special counsel Robert Mueller is asking a federal court in Virginia for 100 blank subpoenas in the case against former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort. The request was made in a filing on Wednesday. The subpoenas would require their recipients to testify in the U.S. District Court in Alexandria on July 25, when Manafort's trial in Virginia is set to begin. The request comes roughly a month after Mueller filed a request for 150 blank subpoenas.

Categories: News

Traces of chemical weapons agent found in shrimp in Sweden

Citizens for Legitimate Government - Thu, 07/12/2018 - 04:16

Traces of chemical weapons agent found in shrimp in Sweden | 11 July 2018 | Traces of a chemical warfare agent were found in shrimp caught near the Swedish island of Maseskar, where 28 ships with chemical and other weapons were sunk by the allies after World War II, the Swedish National Water Agency said. The agency urged a complete fishing ban in the area surrounding the island, which is located in the Skagerrak straits linking the North Sea and the Baltic Sea. The substance, identified as diphenylchlorarsine, is likely leaking into the water from decaying bombs aboard the sunken ships, the agency said. Swedish scientists are now warning that traces of the poisonous substance may also be present in Baltic Sea fish, saying that they are planning to expand their research into the matter.

Categories: News

Maurin, Day, the Catholic Worker Group, and Anarcho-Distributism

Anarchist News - Thu, 07/12/2018 - 01:21
Peter Maurin, Dorothy Day, Catholic Worker

By Nicholas Evans

Peter Maurin, Dorothy Day, and the Catholic Worker group are Christian Anarchists.

What sort of economy do they advocate?

Day who is one of the founders of the Catholic Worker group discussed a sort of Anarcho-Distributism.(also known as Anarcho-Distributivism) In actuality Anarcho-Distributism is very similar to the economics of Proudhon’s Mutualism.

As stated in the book On Pilgrimage:

“Distributism calls for a just distribution of wealth and participation in ownership and adequate wages so that workers can buy homes of their own. Advocates of Distributism believe in private property-but private property for everyone, not just the few.”1.

Distributism believed everyone should have the right to “…a home, a bit of land, and the tools which to work, part ownership in workshops and stores and factories.” 2.

In other words, they believed like Proudhon that society should be organized around self employed individuals, co-operative workshops, co-op factories, and co-op stores based on a competitive market. 3. They also believed everyone had a right to live on land they personally lived on and no more. This is called ‘occupancy and use’ by the Individualist Anarchists like Tucker. (Unlike the Social Mutualists and Distributists of Catholic Worker and Proudhon, Tucker’s American Mutualism or Individualist Anarchism retains employers but the employers pay their employees the full value of their labor and hence Individualist Anarchism of Tucker is still a form of Market Socialism or Mutualism) 4.

Like Proudhon, the anarcho-distributism of Day, Maurin, and the Catholic Worker wanted a voluntary anarcho-distrubutist society rather than a society built on a state. As stated:

“We are Personalists because we believe that man, a person, a creature of body and soul, is greater than the State, of which as an individual he is part. We are Personalists because we oppose the vesting of all authority in the hands of the state instead of in the hands of Christ the King. We are personalists because we believe in free will, and not in the economic determinism of the Communist philosophy. 5.

Also like Proudhon the Anarcho-Distributists are critical of state communism and instead advocated a voluntary society based on self-employed and co-operative businesses. 6.

It should also be noted Maurin, Day, and the Catholic Worker used the term Personalism interchangeably with the term Anarchism.

As stated:

“It is the tradition we might call anarchism. We ourselves have never hesitated to use the word. Some prefer personalism. But Peter Maurin came to me with Kropotkin in one pocket and St. Francis in the other!” 7.

It should also be acknowledged that while both Proudhon and Maurin, Day, and the Catholic Worker are Anarchists, Proudhon did not believe in God while Maurin, Day, did and the Catholic Worker obviously does.

Dorothy Day regularly attended and was very active within the Catholic Church. 8. and has been officially recognized as a ‘Servant of God’ by the Catholic Church and has been considered for sainthood by US Bishops.9.

Peter Maurin was active within the Catholic Church and was invited to give many talks to the Knights of Columbus Catholic Organization whom he was friendly with. 10.

The Catholic Worker, Maurin, and Day believe that their society can be achieved through peaceful, gradual change by sharing their social and economic views with others and encouraging others to do the same.

1. Day, Dorothy. On Pilgrimage. Wiliam B. Eerdman’s Publishing Company, Michigan. 1999. pp 40
2. ibid.
3. Proudhon, Pierre-Joseph. General Idea of Revolution in the Nineteenth. Century Cosmo Classics, New York. 2007.
4. Tucker, Benjamin. Instead of a Book. Forgotten Books: San Bernardino. 2017.
5. Day, Dorothy. On Pilgrimage. Wiliam B. Eerdman’s Publishing Company, Michigan. 1999. pp 22
6. Ibid. Proudhon, Pierre-Joseph. What is Property?. Cosmo Classics, New York. 2007
7. Day, Dorothy. ‘February 1974: Small is Beautiful.’ Retrieved 7-11-2018 from:
8. Day, Dorothy. On Pilgrimage. Wiliam B. Eerdman’s Publishing Company, Michigan. 1999. pp 12
9. Pattison, Mark. ‘US bishops endorse sainthood cause of Catholic Worker's Dorothy Day’. Retrieved 7-11-2018 from:
10. Sheehan, Arthur T. Gay Believer. Hanover House, New York. pp 103, 150 retrieved 7-11-2018 from:;view=1up;seq=1

Tags: Peter MaurinDorothy DayDistributistsmutualismproudhonCatholic Workerchristian anarchismreligioncategory: Essays
Categories: News

Earthworker Co-ops

Grassroots Economic Survival - Wed, 07/11/2018 - 20:17
Link: Earthworker Co - Ops- Katherine Cunningham

Earthworker is establishing a network of worker-owned cooperatives committed to sustainable enterprise throughout Australia. They believe social and environmental exploitation are intertwined, and that the problems of climate change, job insecurity and growing inequality must be tackled simultaneously, through greater grassroots economic ownership.

They have already established Redgum, a worker owned cleaners co-operative in Melbourne, and are in the final stages of establishing the Earthworker Energy Manufacturing Cooperative (formerly Eureka’s Future).

We had a yarn with Katherine Cunningham from Earthworker. Find out more about Earthworker at

Listen to more from Behind the Lines on Soundcloud


Go to the GEO front page

Categories: News

Big Oil’s 'Explore Offshore' Propaganda Is Corporate Ventriloquism

deSmog - Wed, 07/11/2018 - 17:55
Read time: 4 minsOffshore oil rig

This is a guest post by ClimateDenierRoundup

A couple of weeks ago, Reuters reported on a new effort by the American Petroleum Institute: Explore Offshore. Its goal is “to convince Hispanic and black communities to support the Trump administration’s proposed expansion of offshore drilling.”

Per Reuters, a key part of the American Petroleum Institute's (API) effort to convince minority communities to support a product that disproportionately hurts them is through a series of op-eds. Media Matters took a look at the pieces that have been published so far, and surprise! They’re misleading. They can’t even get the API talking points (which are going to be biased) right, as one API stat about economic benefits of drilling was exaggerated “by a factor of 20.”

Tags: American Petroleum Instituteoffshore drillingTrump Administrationastroturfingminority communities
Categories: News

Adding to the anarchist media list

Anarchist News - Wed, 07/11/2018 - 17:26

via Freedom News

The Anarchist Federation in London launched a new podcast yesterday, adding a welcome new voice to what is currently a very short list of anarchist audio outlets (which we’re collating below).

The podcast is structured in a topical magazine format, with book reviews, comment and news being covered across a 15-minute programme. The capital has largely been down to just one regular show since the closure of Circled A, as Fuck the Bins joins Dissident Island Radio to hopefully offer a regular audio take on matters of interest to anarchists.

The English-speaking anarchist movement, particularly in Britain (the US has the excellent Channel Zero for daily content), has been slow on the uptake for audio-visual output over the last few years, despite producing copious content for individual campaign groups such as Reclaim the Power. And the situation is just as bad for video, with just four groups, mostly infrequently, running sustained channels alongside the (non-anarchist, but friendly) Reel News:

More general Youtube fare

That’s not to say there is no anarchist video content at all. Freedom has looked into a master list of leftist channels which has been going round reddit, and whittled it down to something a bit more manageable. Notable however is that of the below, beyond the excellent Stimulator, none are offering regular news takes, and almost none have an entirely regular production schedule. We have divided them into news/hot takes/comment, explainers, and archive. Some of the archive channels are essentially inactive at present (ie. haven’t produced anything new for at least three months), those are listed separately. Please note, this is only accurate as of July 11th 2018, and Freedom is not endorsing the contents. The vast majority belong to individual vloggers, though some have small collectives

News and comment

Anarcho-Syndicalist Action [Weekly(ish) | Comment]

American Anarchist [Intermittent | discussion]

Anactualjoke [monthly(ish) | Comment]

Anarchist Spectacle [Weekly(ish) | Comment]

Badmouse Productions [Intermittent | discussion, responses, essays]

Bat’ka the Manarchist [daily | Comment, hot takes]

Flea Market Socialist [weekly(ish) | tips, comment, memes]

Libertarian Socialist Rants [monthly(ish) | Comment, explainers]

Socialism Or Barbarism! [weekly-plus | messing about, explainers, responses, hot-takes]

Socialist Revolution [weekly(ish) | Comment, explainers]

Stimulator [several weekly | News]

Political explainers and essays

Anarchopac [monthly | Comment, explainers]

Love and Rage [weekly(ish) | Explainers, memes]

Noncompete [weekly-plus | Explainers, comment, comedy]

Thought Slime [weekly | video essays]

Archives (audio books etc)

Audible Anarchist [weekly | Comment, audiobooks]

Chomsky’s Philosophy [collective | weekly | political philosophy, analysis]

Resonance Audio [intermittent | audiobooks]


The Comfy Milk Shop [interviews, audio texts]

Anarchist Collective [ explainers]

The Communist Dragon [comment, shitposting]

Left Sphere [explainers]

What is Anarchism? [explainers]

Have we missed you out? Get in touch and we’ll gladly add you! editor at

Tags: Englandpodcastfuck the binscategory: Projects
Categories: News

Spain – Kalinov Most, an anarchist journal in Spanish

Anarchist News - Wed, 07/11/2018 - 17:20

via act for freedom now!

At this point there’s no hesitation, the decision has been made and there’s no going back. I am leaving the comfort of the pre-established and venturing into the uncertainty of the clash…

Kalinov Most is a name that belongs to Russian medieval mythology and means Bridge of Kalin, which links the world of the living with hell, each separated by a river of fire. Whoever decides to venture on to the bridge intends to abandon the world of the living and does so of their own free will. Once you get to this point there’s no turning back, so the bridge represents the threshold where there is no hesitation or doubt. A choice has been made and accepted.

This journal is an invitation to break with the existent, to accept the clash with power in all its magnitude and complexity, aware this is a road of no return, where we don’t know what we could encounter. When we decide to go beyond the confines of the pre-established we leave monotony and the routine of city life behind, we break enslaving schemes and dogmas, venturing into  permanent and unstoppable conflict. There’s no remorse, no regret, no steps backwards in this freely and individually made choice, which we accept with all that it implies.

With this publication we intend to contribute to several discussions and reflexions that exist in anarchist and antiauthoritarian places, from a position aiming to sharpen ideas and practices of the clash against dominion, far from all the doctrines. Models and moral rules of conduct only limit and hamper individual freedom, so we consider the clash a dynamic process capable of constantly re-inventing itself, keeping everything around us and we ourselves in tension. Constant questioning allows us to examine actions in the attempt to sharpen conflictuality.

Through the analysis of experiences from different countries we will try to strengthen and deepen reflexions on specific themes. This allows us to learn about realities and initiatives carried out in different contexts, so as to intertwine them, thus completing our position on a concrete situation. In this way we are taking a distance from the merely journalistic report which simply describes a particular situation in a given territory, and also from pathetic articles of denunciation, so as to go into a necessary dialogue of experiences, which inevitably strengthens the practice of conflict, widening points of view and breaking up borders.

This journal is a challenge so as to tread anarchy’s paths of negation in their many aspects; it is a decision with no possibility of return or repentance, so is the building of a Kalinov Most.


Translated from Italian by act for freedom now!

Tags: spainkalinov mostcategory: Projects
Categories: News

#OccupyICELou: One Week at Camp Compasión

It's Goin Down - Wed, 07/11/2018 - 17:17

The post #OccupyICELou: One Week at Camp Compasión appeared first on It's Going Down.

Things have been heating up at the #OccupyICELOU encampment; fighting back against police harassment and threats from the far-Right. To see how they got things rolling, check out this article.

Demonstrators have been occupying the sidewalk outside the ICE offices in Louisville for a week. The camp has dealt with push back from law enforcement, counter-protesters, rain, and extreme heat. Our numbers continue to grow and support from Louisville residents has been overwhelmingly positive. So many of the camp’s needs have been covered by people bringing necessities to the camp, providing meals daily, and making sure we stay stocked with water and ice (the kind we don’t want to melt!)

A local activist organization, Mijente, was able to locate and talk with the people who had immigration court throughout the week and the camp received the good news that four families had their immigration status hearings rescheduled to 2019. People getting to stay in this country, with their families, is a result of direct action.

Throughout the week, the demonstrators were pushed off federal property and we were told that even our bodies weren’t allowed on site. Each time DHS agents gave the order, people gathered would acquiesce to their demands and then slowly creep back onto the property. This cycle lasted for several days, including a time when the officers demanded everyone vacate federal property while children were sitting on yoga mats in the grass during hours when the building wasn’t even open.

Protesters spent July Fourth rallying on the federal property with their families. Throughout the day, DHS repeatedly removed people from the property until Kentucky state representative Attica Scott came and stood on the property stating that she would not move. DHS went back inside the building, defeated.

On Thursday, the camp was alerted to a counter protest being planned by the III% militia in Kentucky and Indiana for Saturday, July the Seventh. The camp soon afterwards saw multiple far-Right sympathizers and law enforcement in plain clothes, casing the area and photographing people at the camp.

“Throughout the action an LMPD helicopter made several deep dips towards the crowd with what seemed like an attempt to intimidate demonstrators on our side.”

On Saturday, over 500 people turned out to shout down the fascists, including Louisville ARA and March Fourth Alliance, comrades from HARM, the Holler Network, Michiana AFA, Lexington ARA, and Columbus ARA, alongside clergy and multiple local activist groups. Meanwhile, only 50 counter protesters showed, a motley assortment of III%ers, Oath Keepers, Proud Boys and KKK members. LMPD allowed the counter-protesters to carry rifles and handguns while confiscating bats, sticks, body armor, knives, and other weapons that #OccupyICElou protesters brought to defend themselves-despite these items also being legal to carry for self-defense under Kentucky law. Throughout the action an LMPD helicopter made several deep dips towards the crowd with what seemed like an attempt to intimidate demonstrators on our side.

Multiple federal agents attempted to pick fights with anti-fascists and pass themselves off as part of the III% militia or Proud Boys, but later joined police atop a building nearby. The police blocked off the street, allowing them to have one block just north of the camp with barricades and a police line separating the camp from the counter protesters.

About 30 minutes into their rally, one of them erected a confederate flag. Video soon circulating of the III% militia kicking KKK members out of their rally. They consider themselves to be a group that fights to see the laws upheld, but directed vitriol like, “Murderers go home!” to people of color and immigrants on our side. While they may wish to be viewed as anti-racist, they clearly have a pro-white agenda.

“Multiple federal agents attempted to pick fights with anti-fascists and pass themselves off as part of the III% militia or Proud Boys, but later joined police atop a building nearby.”

During the action, several III%ers attempted to enter the camp to take photographs or to infiltrate. They did an atrocious job of blending in and were immediately removed each time. The cops-as always-faced the anti-fascists and had their backs to the militia and other white supremacists. Even after being asked who’s side they were on numerous times, they refused to keep their eyes on the nazis in the street. At noon, the crowds dispersed, and some of the III%ers went to a fast food restaurant across the street. They left abruptly once anti-fascists joined them without the presence of their LMPD bodyguards.

On Saturday evening, LMPD-in a effort to further harass #OccupyICElou-served the camp with a notice to comply with an Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) policy of having clear space four feet from the curb into the sidewalk so that wheelchairs may pass. While ideas were being considered, they served the camp again at 5pm on Sunday evening with a four hour notice to comply. This required all sleeping tents to be moved and replaced with canopy tents and cots. #OccupyICELou had a tremendous showing of support from the community and the camp complied within an hour. LMPD did a walk-through at 9pm and found the encampment to be in compliance with ADA policy.

Throughout the week, Mitch McConnell has been in Louisville. Several #OccupyICELou campers met him inside and outside of restaurants and protested his presence in local businesses to the point where at one place, he abruptly left his meal before finishing. Local organizations often demonstrate outside of Mitch’s house and he is regularly told that he is not welcome in Louisville, but this was a particularly bad week for him trying to have dinner. As the camp continues, politicians will see more often than not that ignoring the demands of the people they claim to serve will make it difficult for them to have a moment’s peace in public.

As y’all can see, we’ve had a pretty busy week here-standing strong against the forces of the state and the far-Right, while also building and standing with our community.

Categories: News

Rome, Italy: Arson Attack Aganst Diplomatic Corp and ENI Vehicles

Anarchist News - Wed, 07/11/2018 - 17:01

via 325

When you set out at night with the intention of burning or putting something out of action, interrupting the paralysis inherent in everyday life, you never know exactly what you will find once you are on the street. Which is how it was one night in mid-June when we came across a Diplomatic Corp car and one belonging to ENJOY* parked side by side next to the footpath. If until then, they had been united together in the same shitty existence in service of devastation, power and domination, we could not help but see their willingness to share the same demise together. And so, just like it was with some excavators in France not long ago, we took note of their will by enjoying the sight of the flames that enveloped them.

We hope that despite the high temperatures of recent days that the heat of this fire may bring a smile to all the comrades locked up in prisons, subjected to judicial controls or under surveillance…

To the Argentine comrade Diego Parodi… Strength, hold on!
To those facing investigation for the G20 in Hamburg.
For the prisoners and the accused of Operation Scripta Manent.
For Giova, Ghespe and Paska.

For Anarchy!

*Translation note: ENJOY is a ‘sustainable’ vehicle sharing company run by energy company ENI and public transport operator Trenitalia


Tags: italyromeproperty destructioncategory: Actions
Categories: News

Anarchy Radio 07-10-2018

Anarchist News - Wed, 07/11/2018 - 16:38


Kathan co-hosts. World heat wave, ways to poison planet. "Strikingly humanlike" foot of 3.3 million year-old 3 year-old. Human No More book: anthropology in an increasingly place-less cyber world. High-tech Nagano, Japan, a ghost town. ES-100 from Tanita tells you if you smell, renders noses obsolete. Should children be polite to robot voices? Hyundai - "a new mobility is coming." Action briefs, three calls.

Tags: anarchy radiopodcastKZElijahjzcategory: Projects
Categories: News

Winning Phone Zap Campaigns: An Interview with Oakland IWOC

It's Goin Down - Wed, 07/11/2018 - 15:48

The post Winning Phone Zap Campaigns: An Interview with Oakland IWOC appeared first on It's Going Down.

Call-in campaigns, also known as “phone zaps,” have become an often used tool in a growing number of people’s tool boxes. Whether calling into prisons to get someone out of solitary or to restore access to the outside world, against slumlords in tenant battles, to get workers rehired, or attempts to get fascists fired, more and more groups are using the tactics in broader struggles.

17 prisoners at Vaughn Correctional in Delaware are still facing retaliation and solitary from the Feb 1 2017 uprising wherein rebels held power for 18 hours. The…

— IWOC Oakland (@iwoc_oakland) June 30, 2018

Wanting to know more about how people can better organize their call-in campaigns, as well as some success stories, we reached out to someone at Oakland Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee (IWOC) about the tactic to get some tips.

IGD: Just what are phone blast actions or “phone zaps”? 

“It’s not like writing a letter to your congressperson – no one is making an appeal to established power. We aren’t engaging in dialogue but inducing a bit of crisis to shift power to ourselves.”

Oakland IWOC: So “phone blasts” are pressure actions using phone calls and emails that target public or private figures or institutions in power. It’s a tactic that’s been used by all sorts of movements and campaigns from housing fights, to anti-policing campaigns to prisoner support, but right now I’ll speak most on prisoner support actions because that is what I’m primarily involved in and also an arena where phone pressure is especially effective.

The general idea: landlords, city council members, corporations and yes, prison officials operate out of offices that still depend on phone access for doing business. Their business routinely if not implicitly involves fucking people over and flooding offices with phone calls effectively blocks a portion of their ability to operate plus it often punctuates its message by driving an office to pure bedlam. It’s not like writing a letter to your congressperson – no one is making an appeal to established power. We aren’t engaging in dialogue but inducing a bit of crisis to shift power to ourselves. Think of it as a DDOS attack but an old thyme one that uses phone calls instead of server hits to bring down a target.

This bit of operational crisis helps extract concessions or push back on repression or any other bullshit that doesn’t stand up well in the light of day. We’ll talk a bit more about how some of this plays out specifically later.

IGD: What are some of the big mistakes you are seeing people make in terms of how they are organizing call-in campaigns. Or in other words, how could they be more effective?

Oakland IWOC: We’ll instead of getting all negative and ripping on some examples of how this tactic has been poorly deployed, we can instead talk about the foundation of a successful action over just highlighting a slice of the possible mistakes. 

The Phonezap Basics!
  • A clear, concise call to action: You are speaking most likely to supporters or allies who don’t need your polemic or additional convincing. If there is a lot of additional background to convey, you can link or reference another article or post for those who need it. A giant rambling wall of text turns off motivation and engages next to no one.
  • A sample script: Plenty of people are self-conscious and a bit reluctant to call authority figures at some hostile institution and throwing out an example of a possible brief message not only helps convey what the talking points are that need to be delivered but reassures possible participants and gives them something to follow or expand on.
  • Multiple numbers to call: After all sorts of these phone actions, we’ve found that once we have someone’s attention and commitment to participate, that once they take the time to call one number they will also call three numbers while they are at it. We rank them in order of importance and most importantly, we test them. When doing research finding targets and numbers to call within an institution, call them and make sure the numbers are still active and correct. Nothing worse than trying to build a campaign, sending out a thousand emails with wrong or dead numbers on them. Also, when all sorts of people are calling and taking over these offices with calls, it is often hard to get through. Give people a selection of numbers to call and they will keep trying, jumping from one number to the next – more calls land, more voicemail boxes get filled, and more pressure is applied.
  • ADVANCE NOTICE!: Sometimes a quick response feels like a must, but what is better – calling for something overnight and getting a dozen calls? or taking 3 days to research, muster support and promote a blast that nets a 100 calls? People have lives and politically active people get sent a additional requests for their time or money everyday. Advance notice and dogged promotion help make an easily lost request into an event that looks worthwhile and actually is strategic, thoughtful and supported. Like with any online outreach or social media campaign, consider when people are logged on or how they stay in touch. Use multiple channels – social media, email listservs, text messages, face to face meetings, etc. Get the call out in front of them multiple times. It’s a hectic world overloaded with media – you gotta cut through all that.
  • Set a target time window: Set a day to shut that office down. Calls trickling in over a week don’t really make an impression at all or shut anything down. And make that request for a supporters time as concrete as possible so as to hook their participation and also involve them in an event. During the blast there will be periodic updates to get people feedback on just what their calls are achieving. Make it into A Thing.
  • Good targeting: You want to pick targets that will feel the pressure and are in some way vulnerable. Phone zaps for prisoners involves dealing with state bureaucracies and prison administrations. Withing these institutions they got people who are basically paid to lie and take abuse. Fuck bothering to talk with public relation officers. A waste of time. At prisons for example, wardens are essentially middle management who fear for their jobs. That is a vulnerability. There might be some theoretical linkage to some department head on some issue but oftentimes state directors in capitals are political animals who have well versed consultants and are could be pretty well shielded. The point is to have an organizational and political analysis of the institution you are messing with. Pick targets that get results or are vulnerable over anything else.
  • Familiarity: So how does a crew or group develop that targeting analysis? Long term work provides familiarity, experience and thus effective organizing. Stick with it and you get more dangerous to the system. 
  • Update and followup: These actions involve a lot of people spread out all over the place by themselves making calls and making them to asshole functionaries of giant, opaque institutions that never admit anything in the moment or admit these actions effected them at all let alone that they did anything fucked up to begin with. Not a whole lot of gratification or incentive for someone to participate which is why organizers gotta update people on exactly what effect they are having. We’re familiar with these institutions and are monitoring all the signs for effect. Let people know via all those above-mentioned comms channels what effect they are having as it happens – Facebook and Twitter are great for real time encouragement and updates. When an action is over, FOLLOWUP immediately to let people know just how it all went, and followup down the road to let people know what effect they had. Retain that commitment and energy. So much political work is like yelling into a black hole with little feedback or measurable success and is ultimately very draining and unsustainable. Phone actions actually yield immediate results.
  • You are building capacity, not just a single action: Think of each action not as an isolated event but as another opportunity to increase capacity and involvement. Your crew’s organizing demands actions again and again. Prison retaliations and abuses happen again and again. Evictions happen again and again. Develop that circle of supporters that can be relied on for calls and treat them as an extension of your immediate crew and as individuals to retain and count on. (See above point on following up and updates.) It’s much more effective to value and retain people who have participated before and know they are valued and part of something effective.
  • Last but not least – Get direct commitments. Build phone trees: Reach out directly to other groups or crews for hard commitments to make calls. At Oakland IWOC we’ve managed to build a network of about 100 callers in a dozen crews that operate as affinity groups with us at the center as dispatchers and admins. We send affinity group liaisons the callouts and ask for hard commitments for how many callers they can muster for phone zap. They in turn report directly back to us on how the calls went. We monitor the phone blast, issue updates, send encouragement and sometimes issue new numbers to call if the initial targets shut down. In addition to our own membership, they form the backbone of our phone actions. Anyone who has managed group social media accounts or mass mailing accounts knows how tenuous social media engagement is and how little emails actually get opened. DON’T RELY ON SOCIAL MEDIA. IT’S FICKLE, ALIENATING, AND A REALLY POOR WAY TO BUILD RELIABLE CAPACITY.
    It’s always a crap shoot mobilizing numbers and we’re dealing with a lot of variables generally in addition to dealing with a shifting, deceptive enemy- direct commitments and report backs not only serve as a reliable backbone to an action, a good way to build long term capacity but also serve to remove a few variables and uncertainties which helps a lot with evaluating an action.
  • Evaluation: Collect those report backs, followup with participants, and then huddle up to critique how the action went down. We’re engaged in shifting power and building our own capabilities and reach. We’re not just doing shit to feel good or look good. Right? 

IGD: Can you give us some examples in your experience of the successes from these campaigns?

Oakland IWOC: Recently the two sons of a prominent abolitionist, Kim Wilson, who are both in Delaware prisons were singled out for retaliations; repeated shakedowns, fabricated write ups for violations, and confiscated personal property. A national call for phone pressure went out and within a day or two the write up was thrown out and property was beginning to be given back.

Last summer, Oakland IWOC was fielding reports from contacts inside Corcoran of extreme duress, even heart failure due to a heatwave. Guards were keeping prisoners locked down while they chilled in the control pods with AC or in the day rooms with the fans. A phone campaign was mounted that also happened to make its way into prisoner family groups on Facebook. We refused to give locations or names of contacts and forced wellness checks throughout the whole facility, got prisoners out of their cells, and got them medical attention for the different symptoms of extreme heat stress.

ok we've been getting questions on how to get ahold of these stickers.

Paypal $10 for 100 3×4 paper stickers at
Put "stickers" in the comments along with a good shipping address.
Should be 2 weeks until you get them.#August21#prisonstrike

— IWOC (@IWW_IWOC) July 3, 2018

Kevin “Rashid” Johnson, a well known prisoner and political leader was thrown into a freezing “camera cell” (a further isolated and harsh solitary cell with no belongings allowed plus additional surveillance deployed) with a broken window in the middle of winter in Florida to retaliate against him from writing in support of “Operation PUSH,” a call for a statewide strike to kick off on MLK day 2018. He could barely write due to his hand shaking with the cold. A thousand calls land, lawyers visit, and he is returned to his regular cell.

Sometimes the effect is diffuse and can only be seen to register over time… still very real and known to prisoners and experienced supporters … but sometimes like the instances above, the effect is immediate and undeniable. And anyone who has done time can tell you how guards and administration are essentially bullies that single people out for retaliation. Perhaps you are a resister or political or perhaps you don’t have anyone on the outside looking after you. Guards will do whatever they can get away with. But they too are part of a bureaucracy and prisons need to maintain a veneer of reason and accountability in order to obscure all their intrinsic violence and bullshit. Bad publicity (like phone blasts which are linked directly to inmate testimony and conditions) threaten that cloak not to mention undermines a warden/bureaucrat’s position in the hierarchy.

Phone zaps get results!

Categories: News

Trump Administration Misses Deadline to Unite Families

Truth Out - Wed, 07/11/2018 - 15:20

The Trump administration failed to meet a court-imposed deadline Tuesday to reunite all of the children under the age of 5 whom immigration officials took from their parents at the border and then sent to jails and detention centers across the country. Only 38 of the 102 children under 5 have been reunited with their parents, some of whom say their young children did not even recognize them at first after the traumatic, protracted separation. 
On Tuesday, Judge Dana Sabraw reiterated that all separated children—3,000 in total—must be reunited with their parents by July 26, saying, “These are firm deadlines; they are not aspirational goals.” On Tuesday night, Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar told CNN that the United States was acting “generously” toward the migrant children. For more, we speak with Lomi Kriel, immigration reporter for the Houston Chronicle, and Barbara Hines, an immigration lawyer and founder of the University of Texas Immigration Law Clinic.

The post Trump Administration Misses Deadline to Unite Families appeared first on Truthout.

Categories: News

Loan Stars

Truth Out - Wed, 07/11/2018 - 14:56

The post Loan Stars appeared first on Truthout.

Categories: News

Trump’s Supreme Court: Capitalism and Democracy Can No Longer Coexist

Truth Out - Wed, 07/11/2018 - 14:50

Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh pushes the Supreme Court towards defending a far-right corporate state, says Henry A. Giroux the author of American Nightmare: Facing the Challenge of Fascism.


SHARMINI PERIES: It’s The Real News Network. I’m Sharmini Peries, coming to you from Baltimore.

On Monday, President Trump nominated Brett Kavanaugh as his choice to replace Justice Anthony Kennedy on the Supreme Court. Kavanaugh is a well-known conservative federal appeals court judge; a former aide to President George W. Bush. He also served as one of the investigators of President Bill Clinton during his impeachment process. As a staunch conservative, Kavanaugh, if confirmed by the Senate, would consolidate the conservative majority on the Supreme Court, moving it significantly to the right. Here is Brett Kavanaugh on his nomination.

BRETT KAVANAUGH: My judicial philosophy is straightforward. A judge must be independent, and must interpret the law, not make the law. A judge must interpret statutes as written, and a judge must interpret the Constitution as written, informed by history, and tradition, and precedent.

SHARMINI PERIES: Now, looking back, the retiring Justice Kennedy sometimes sided with the liberal justices on key issues such as abortion rights, affirmative action, gay marriage, the death penalty, and reversing unfair housing discrimination. Here is how Bernie Sanders reacted to the announcement of Brett Kavanaugh as Trump’s Supreme Court choice at a rally on Monday night.

BERNIE SANDERS: Are you ready to defend Roe v. Wade? Look, I am not going to kid anybody. This is a tough fight, but it is a fight that we can win. We have the American people on our side. Now we’ve got to go state by state by state to make sure that senators do what their constituents want.

SHARMINI PERIES: Joining me now to analyze the meaning of Trump’s choice for Supreme Court is Henry Giroux. Henry is the McMaster University Chair for Scholarship in the Public Interest. His most recent book is “American Nightmare: Facing the Challenge of Fascism.” Thanks for joining us, Henry.

HENRY GIROUX: Oh, it’s always a pleasure.

SHARMINI PERIES: Henry, let’s start with getting your thoughts on this naming of someone like Brett Kavanaugh, who was proposed to Trump by the Heritage Foundation and the Federalist Society to replace Anthony Kennedy.

HENRY GIROUX: Well, I think the fact that he was both proposed by Trump and vetted by the Federalist Society and the Heritage Foundation tells us almost all of what we really need to know about him. He’s an ultra conservative. I mean, he’s a guy who honestly believes in what we might call an expansive view of presidential power. He argues that, he’s argued that sitting presidents should be immune from civil suits and criminal prosecutions. He’s against worker rights. He’s basically against, certainly he is against abortion rights. And in my estimation he’s basically the culmination of a government that has increasingly under Trump moved so far to the right that it has now combined an almost immune function of corporate power with an attack on civil rights.

I think that this is truly a disaster. I mean, I think that it’s-. And he certainly will be confirmed. I find it hard to believe he won’t be. But I think that what the United States is in for in the next 20 or 30 years is a court that will be so right-wing, and represents such an enormous threat to civil rights, to civil justice, to social justice, to economic equality, that the issue will no longer be whether, you know, we can do something with the Supreme Court. The real issue would be, is to recognize that capitalism and democracy are not the same thing anymore, and that we really need to think about what it means to put a new political party and social formation into place that could really address the real needs of people in ways that matter.

SHARMINI PERIES: Speaking of capitalism, Kavanaugh has a long record of favoring capitalism, business interests, corporate interests. He has said to be a solid opponent of net neutrality, for example. And at the same time, he also has a record of opposing government regulation of all kinds. He’s into deregulation. And one prominent case, he said that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is unconstitutional. So where do you think he will lead the nation through his decisions?

HENRY GIROUX: I think that, you know, if the political state is being replaced by the corporate state, it seems to me that Trump is really found his man. I mean, this is a guy who really believes in some way that the only form of power that matters is the power consolidated, held, and exercised by the financial elite. I mean, this guy is truly an apostle of the worst forms of neoliberalism. And in many ways, you combine that with his support for concentrated political power in the hands of the presidency, and it’s, it seems to me as if Trump has really found his man.

I mean, he wants to criminalize abortion, as we’ve talked about. He wants to basically undo any sense of opposition against corporate power. He wants as much as he can deaden and undermine civil rights. I mean, he’s against net neutrality. I mean, what is it that he’s for that has any relationship at all to the manners of democracy? I mean, he doesn’t even use the word democracy. I mean, he’s a guy who hangs out with dictators. He alienates the leaders of the liberal, of the Western alliances. And now he’s picked a judge who basically is a function of a kind of market logic, a judge who’s been outsourced by basically the Federalist Society and the Heritage Foundation, as outsourcing avenues in order to choose him. Maybe that’s all we really need to know.

SHARMINI PERIES: Henry, while he is a big believer in presidential power, he was involved in the impeachment of Bill Clinton, and the investigations that went on with the case involving Monica Lewinsky. What do you make of that?

HENRY GIROUX: I think that just speaks to his own ideological architecture. I mean, I think that basically he’s a far-rightist, and that, you know, he moved with the ideology. I mean, he was, of course was working for Ken Starr. He was a Republican, he was an extremist, and he wanted to see the president, a Democratic president, impeached. So this notion that, you know-. I mean, I think that when it comes to in some way allowing the government to get away with interest that would serve the corporate elite, he’d be fine. To serve a Republican president, I don’t think he’d have any trouble whatsoever. I mean, the point that I’m making is I don’t think that his principles are so static that he can’t allow, he can’t adjust them to particular ideological perceptions. And in this case, the ideological perception was on the side of the right. You know, let’s impeach a Democratic president.

I think in the future, certainly under Trump, his ideological perceptions will change again. And what we’ll see is, in my estimation, a Supreme Court judge who will do everything he can to make sure that Trump is not impeached. And don’t believe for a minute that that wasn’t a question that had to be vetted when, when he was being interrogated by the Federalist Society and by, it would seem to me, the Heritage Foundation. There’s no way that the Russian investigation and its potential consequences could not have come up in that interview. And we can only assume what his answer must have been.

SHARMINI PERIES: All right. So, fully aware of that, Henry, it seems that the Senate Democrats face a difficult hurdle in blocking Kavanaugh, knowing that Trump nominated him in order to protect his own presidency. Now, the Democrats are stuck here, in terms of being able to challenge this nomination. What strategies could they engage in order to resist this?

HENRY GIROUX: Well, I think that [Trump] is going to put an enormous amount of pressure on those six or seven Democrats in the past that voted for Trump nominees. I mean, six for Haspel, and seven for, was it Pompeo? Pompeo. Some of these Democrats basically are, Senators are in red states. And the question is not simply are the Republicans, the Republican senators who support abortion rights not going to vote for this candidate. The real issue to me is whether these Democrats are going to buckle in the face of that nomination.

I don’t have a lot of faith in Schumer being able to put that much pressure on them. I think that we might be surprised at the number of Democrats who actually vote for him.

SHARMINI PERIES: Yeah, as we were in the case involving Gorsuch’s appointment. All right, Henry, I thank you so much for joining us for now, but this is going to be an ongoing discussion for the next few months. I thank you so much for joining us.

HENRY GIROUX: It’s always a pleasure. Thank you for having me on.

SHARMINI PERIES: And thank you for joining us here on The Real News Network.

The post Trump’s Supreme Court: Capitalism and Democracy Can No Longer Coexist appeared first on Truthout.

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