We’ve entered into a new year.
Forget all your resolutions, besides the resolution to make it to next year.
This will be a year of sheer survival.
For the moment DACA is safe, a federal judge has ordered it kept in place. Yet the calls for a clean DACA act may bring Congress to a grinding halt. Lately we’ve heard a lot of promises about saving DACA. So what is behind all this pandering to solve the question of DACA status? Well, depressingly, any resolution of DACA is being held hostage to demands for a lot more funding for border militarization and a complete overhaul of the legal immigration system that will make many forms of legal relief a thing of the past.
The Republican bill gives a go-ahead on more border wall construction, it increases the number of Border Patrol agents, it ends green card programs that allow family members to be sponsored by green card holders, it reduces documented immigration by 25 percent, and it requires E-verify to be mandatory so that employers cannot hire undocumented workers. The crack down on employees is notable, for example there were recently ICE raids against 7-Eleven stores nationwide.
Enforcement is continuing to encroach into public institutions that should not be synonymous with checkpoints. Texas Highway Patrol are arresting people during routine traffic stops. ICE is targeting families in places like hospitals, childcare centers, and youth shelters that have historically been understood to be off limits. Border Patrol arrested parents who had to make the heartbreaking choice to take their baby to a hospital further north through a checkpoint in Corpus Christi, Texas for specialist care. In another case, Border Patrol apprehended a 10-year-old girl who needed emergency surgery. We are losing safe terrain.
The federal government is using its resources not to reunite unaccompanied minors with their parents, but to detain their relatives for paying for their kid’s crossing. The child in the case above has since been released but it sets a dark precedent. Holding individual family members personally responsible for utilizing a human smuggling industry that the governments themselves have created is so Kafkaesque, so cruel, and so quintessentially 2018 – to blame people for their own victimization.
If you’re not white you can’t even check into a fucking Motel 6 anymore without getting your information cross-checked with ICE. The fuckers are literally everywhere. This is the environment in which Trump wants to add a question about citizenship to the census. The increased enforcement has left us reliant on defensive tactics that focus on judicial appeal. Yet no amount of pleading with the judiciary seems to help, and court is not often a forum where the life-and-death nature of deportation proceedings are acknowledged or heard.
The fate of Juan Coronilla-Guerro demonstrates how incapable judges are of weighing cost, risk and punitive measures fairly. Coronilla-Guerro’s asylum case was denied twice, and after being charged with minor charges – marijuana possession and an unfounded family violence offense – he made the miscalculation of showing up for his second court date. ICE showed up in plain clothes to arrest him because Travis County court actually wasn’t honoring ICE holds at the time. (They now are honoring ICE holds.) He was then deported. Three months after begging a federal court judge in Travis County court to spare his life Juan was found dead in San Luis de la Paz in Mexico.
The state and its judiciaries are not capable of valuing or holding human life sacred. Due to the criminal impunity and state collusion in drug war violence in many sending communities, the costs of deportation is often high. The emotional strain, and folly, of appealing to people who don’t have your best intentions in mind in order to survive is…palpable.
Narratives are important, honesty comes at a high cost, but we must continue to pursue it. That can feel hopeless, especially in a country where a university professor in Florida who wants to have a course on ‘white racism‘ must be “protected” by the police, and Joe Arpaio is running for Senate in Arizona.
Let’s not forget that with the Arpaio pardon, Trump basically gave his agents a blank check to execute his xenophobic agenda by implying immunization will be arranged for any convictions that may occur in the process. This is no small issue as the shifting terrain of immigration enforcement is sure to bring with it many legal challenges.
Of course, Border Patrol already has a mandate to kill with impunity. The shooting death of a migrant crossing in November on Tohono O’odham land in the high mountains 20 miles north of the border is part of a larger trend of murder and disappearance. Border Patrol stated that the migrant was shot when he lunged for an agent’s gun, but this was a detail supplied a full day after the initial BP press release. That unsubstantiated claim was clearly a fabrication that sought to justify murder. We know that agents lie all the time about circumstances in the field. Trump himself spread a story about Border Patrol agents being attacked by migrants in Texas when no evidence existed to support that narrative. The most compelling explanation for why those agents were found at the bottom of a drainage ditch? They fell into it in the dark.
When not actively lying, BP and ICE seek to hide evidence of wrong-doing. There is a trend towards less and less transparency is relation to both Border Patrol and ICE record keeping. Thankfully a bill seeking to allow Border Patrol to ignore Freedom of Information Act requests did not go through. Though future requests to ICE for documentation may not mean much if they’re allowed to destroy records about abuse including sexual assault, solitary confinement and death in custody. Abuse of minors in custody now extends to denying requests for abortions after assault. And finally, it took a 31-page legal decision to get Border Patrol to even provide blankets and sleeping mats in detention for migrants held over 12 hours.
As discussed previously, deportation is a high stakes game because the US has not only internalized the border domestically, but has created a vertical border further south that attempts to stop migrants and refugees before they even arrive on the US/Mexico border. For many migrants and refugees, the entirety of Mexico itself is now the border as well. Programa Frontera Sur, and other border enforcement initiatives disguised as democracy building, protect US interests while allowing the US to deflect blame for human rights violations onto organized crime groups that, incidentally, also profit from the increased enforcement by selling “safe” passage.
That is why it is such a big deal that Temporary Protected Status (TPS) is under attack.
Temporary Protected Status serves as a form of humanitarian relief, offered to nationals of countries struggling with the aftermath of war, natural disasters, or other humanitarian crises where conditions on the ground make it difficult for people to return safely. Ten countries — El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, Nepal, Nicaragua, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan, Syria, and Yemen — are currently in the program, which is overseen by the Department of Homeland Security and is granted in six- to 18-month intervals that can be renewed as long as DHS deems a designation necessary.
When given opportunities to extend protected status, the Trump administration has instead struck down protections again and again. 500 Sudanese got a final 18-month extension in September; 59,000 Haitians and 2,500 Nicaraguans got the same final 18-month extension in November; and, 57,000 Hondurans got no decision on their status, forcing a six-month extension that will be up in spring. Most recently, 260,500 Salvadorans were told they will be forced to leave the US by September 2019.
Let’s be clear about how the public is being played on these issues. The Trump administration uses the domestic instability of conflicts in countries the US government is frequently complicit in creating to sell xenophobic limitations on immigration by painting refugees and migrants as criminals, all while saying that the conflicts people are fleeing from are not sufficiently horrendous to justify their legal status protections. The US is not willing to admit responsibility for funding these conflicts, or for sheltering the resulting refugees. To give just one example, at the end of the day, neither the US nor the Salvadorian government wants a gang truce because counter-insurgency is good for business.
So Trump wants to have his cake and eat it too, and these are the bastards who tell us they’re going to save DACA. Will they? Honestly, its hard to sort out between all the hyperbole. They just might, but they will also further militarize the border, drastically overhaul the quota immigration system, get rid of green card petitioners’ ability to bring family to the US, and send hundreds of thousands of TPS holders underground or into deportation proceedings. This will create even more suffering and death on the border, in jails, in prisons and in hospitals. Hell, even Trump supporters are learning, much to their chagrin, that it’s their neighbors and people in their communities that are being disappeared. How the mythical ‘other’ does crumble under pressure.
Intensifying enforcement, increasing impunity, and restricting legal means of entry is intensifying resistance and creating outrage. Dreamers are throwing down hard for their liberation, getting arrested and going on hunger strike. Shit, California is getting ready to fight this at a state level and declared themselves a sanctuary state. But in other places finding sanctuary is not so easy, families are going from church to church seeking refuge from the state. Those who do provide sanctuary are facing arrest and increased repression. So it’s clear we’ve got to continue to mobilize and enact community defense strategies. How easy is it to find sanctuary in your community? If it’s hard to find, are you down to change that?
I can say, having just gotten back from yet another rapid response call where the Border Patrol showed up to screen documented driver’s for driving while brown, that as crushing as the current climate feels, we still have to show up for one another. Because this isn’t going to get better, it’s going to get worse. Justice will probably not prevail in most cases, because there is no fucking justice, as a friend used to say – there is just us. Deportations will increase, the enforcers will be multiplying in numbers, conditions in detention will continue to deteriorate and, if we do not create them, places to hide will become scarce.
So we’ve got no choice in this. We’ve got to be that voice of reason saying fuck the state, this isn’t ok. We’ve got to be that voice of rage saying we’re not going to take it. We’ve got to be that creative source of funds and that resource, promising to innovate, to reach out, and to find a way out of this dystopian hell-scape. It’s past time to figure out your investment in all this, it’s past time to sort out who you can trust, and who will really have your back when the time comes.
We owe it to those that didn’t make it to be present.
We owe it to those still determined to survive.
Happy fucking new year, its 2018 and there is work to do.
Breaking: 'Deplorable' NYU prof sues university, colleagues for defamation | 14 Jan 2018 | A New York University liberal studies professor [and CLG Founder] known for his tweets fighting back against PC culture filed a defamation lawsuit against the school and four colleagues last week over a string of claims he said were false, the New York Post reported. Plaintiff Michael Rectenwald's case named the school, associate professor Jacqueline Bishop, adjunct professor Amber Frost, professor Carley Moore and Theresa Senft, whom the Post described as an ex-assistant professor, as defendants. Rectenwald alleged that a May email thread sent to more than 100 NYU staffers included "malicious" statements -- and that NYU didn’t prevent the "nasty screed," the Post reported. The emails reportedly called him an "Adderall-filled bully" and "right-wing misogynist," among other things.
The post Oaxaca: Indigenous People Remain Displaced After Expulsion for Not Voting for Ruling Party appeared first on It's Going Down.
This January 3 marked six months of exile for 191 indigenous people from Tierra Negra who were violently expelled by an armed group in June 2017 for not voting for the PRI candidate, Macario Eleuterio Jiménez, for mayor in San Juan Mazatlán Mixe, Oaxaca. [Note: The PRI – Party of the Institutional Revolution – is the ruling party in Oaxaca and Mexico.]
According to the indigenous Mixe, individuals associated with Eleuterio Jiménez coerced them by force to leave their homes. Five people were arbitrarily imprisoned at the beginning of the conflict, in addition to 40 families that were locked in their homes without electricity or water by orders of the politician.
“We had no choice. We quickly left Tierra Negra, we left everything, our house, livestock and lands and we arrived in this city and are taking refuge in this space where there is no employment, no school for our children, and the food is scarce”, said Filiberto Cándido Hilario, one of the displaced who now lives in a community center in the municipality of Matías Romero, Oaxaca.
The indigenous people claimed that no authority has sought them out to move forward with the denunciations of human rights violations, despite being punished for exercising their voting rights freely and being displaced after the defeat of Eleuterio Jiménez, who accused them for being responsible for his loss of the election.
They explained that the candidate for the mayor’s office carried out a “dirty” campaign against his opponents and handed out food and other favors to secure votes. Nonetheless, the winner of the contest was Ítalio Feliciano Madrigal.
“We’ve lost our houses, land plots and belongings, it seems that we are not Oaxacan because we’re not important to the authorities; we had meetings but no one has resolved the issue, we demand justice because what we’re going through is maddening,” they pointed out.
In the shelter where they’ve lived since they were expelled, they claim that there is a shortage of drinking water, food and electricity, and they live in overcrowded conditions.
“This situation worries us because we can’t continue to live in this shelter under these conditions. There is no school for our children, there is no money, only abandonment by the authorities,” they lamented.
The post 5 Ways to Support FL Prisoners Going on Strike Tomorrow appeared first on It's Going Down.Tomorrow, prisoners across the state of Florida plan to launch a work strike against prison slavery, high canteen prices, and to fully return parole – among other demands. For an overview of the strike, statements made by the prisoners themselves about why they are striking, and a list of solidarity events, go here.
1. Attend and/or organize solidarity demos. At the moment there are several planned across the state on Jan 15 and 16. Details here (in the ‘about’ section). And there are well over a hundred other locations relevant to the FL DOC, where even small demonstrations will add to the pressure over the coming weeks. And for those not in FL, all of these facilities and admin offices have phone numbers. This can all be found here.
2. Ask organizations you are part of to join the growing list of supporters, at the time of writing this there are 60, and its growing quickly.
3. Use your networks to amplify news of the strike via social media, letters to the editors, etc. A simple search of Operation PUSH Florida prisons brings you to dozens of articles, radio shows, etc. that can be shared.
4. Write to a prisoner, remind them they are not forgotten by the world outside the walls. The names of several prisoners who have been active inside the FL DOC can be found here. But they get moved around a lot, so check here for their most current address.
5. Make financial donations to support strike solidarity. We are still collecting them via this crowdfunding page. These funds are being handled by members of Gainesville IWOC and Fight Toxic Prisons. If you prefer to donate by check or cash, or would like a tax deductible option, let us know: FightToxicPrisons@gmail.com
From The Anarchist Library
by Los hijos del Mencho
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Eco-extremists and aligned theorists writing in the English language have contributed little regarding recent polemics against our Tendency. This is a wise decision since, for those who hate us, our words only inflame their hatred all the more and, while we don’t mind being hated, we would rather focus our energies elsewhere. Our enemies seem to thrive on finding opponents they are unable to defeat (Nazis, the Republican Party, civilization, etc.) so accumulating a few more enemies can make it seem like they are getting somewhere., We neither need nor desire their parasitic attention.
Unfortunately for us, aligned parties have asked us to respond, and to that end we have produced this essay. Herein we seek to inform on certain controversial topics that Anglophone readers may have missed in an environment of social media and twenty-four hour distraction. We do this both for those interested in what we write, but also for those who hate us. If that much emotional investment is going to be placed in events that occur outside of one’s immediate sphere, it might as well be for the right reasons.
We will primarily address the essay, “Of Indiscriminate Attacks & Wild Reactions,” from the Olympia-based “edelweiss pirates.” We will also touch on criticisms expressed in Black Seed 5, as well as in other communiqués and call-outs issued in the last six months or so as needed. Our aim is not to make ourselves, the Individualists Tending Toward the Wild (ITS), eco-extremism or nihilist terrorism appear better than they have been portrayed as this would be a fool’s errand, and not at all honest. We don’t fear being despised, and we understand that people want to kill us. You should want to kill us, because you are our enemy, and we don’t even like ourselves that much. You can call us edgy but, honestly, that’s one of the nicer things you can say about us.So to begin...
After the release of the 29th Communiqué of the Indiscriminate Group Tending Toward the Wild (GITS) in May of last year and a cell of the Individualists Tending Toward the Wild (ITS) claiming responsibility for homicides and the attempted bombing of the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), the international insurrectionary anarchist community, as well as the social anarchist Scott Campbell, have issued counter-communiqué after counter-communiqué opposing eco-extremism, and ITS in particular. Most of these were rather short until the release of a long 50 page essay on the Anarchist Library website and later Anarchist News entitled, “Of Indiscriminate Attacks & Wild Reactions: An Anti-civ Anarchist Engages with ITS and Atassa, Their Defenders and Their False Critics.” (Henceforth, OIAWR) Upon first examination (at least to the uninformed reader) the essay seemed rather comprehensive and well-prepared. However, due to the number of targets it attempts to hit as seen in its lengthy title, engagement with eco-extremists texts and rhetoric is rather minimal within the development of the essay. Most of the accusations are thus inaccurate and a product of the author(s)’ rather active imagination when it comes to the current political situation.
The author(s)’ main claims against their opponents can be summarized in the following points:
The eco-extremist journal, Atassa, is a pro-rape publication;
ITS’s misanthropy is a convenient cover for its misogyny since it now primarily targets women and society’s most helpless;
ITS attacks anarchists and should not be tolerated in anarchist circles;
Little Black Cart (LBC), Atassa’s publisher, is directly responsible for spreading this pro-rape misogynist rhetoric in the anarchist community in the United States due to an irresponsible drive to stir up conversation for its own sake;
In the end, ITS, Atassa, and, by extension, LBC, are proto-fascist forces that seek to give comfort to the enemy as an unwitting Fifth Column within the fight against oppression and domination.
We will address each accusation in what follows.A. Rape
After an introductory section, OIAWR enters into a tendentious reading of two central essays of the first issue of the journal, Atassa: Readings in Eco-Extremism. Generally, the author(s)’ method of reading could best be termed as a “hermeneutic of suspicion”. Ramon Elani’s essay, “Return of the Warrior”, is denigrated as a bad reading of a questionable author, Pierre Clastres, with judgments made against the cited scholarship that are little better than unwarranted ad hominem:
In addition to whatever patriarchy was found on his travels, it’s fairly obvious in reading Clastres that he himself is some kind of male chauvinist, in the good French intellectual style, who occasionally starts blathering on about the ideas of gender and sexuality that he supposedly locates in the cosmology and customs of the people with whom he lived, but without ever really offering the reader any reason to believe that this is how these people understand themselves, or that any of their material practices confirm the sexism Clastres seems so eager to confirm
Citation needed but of course none is forthcoming. In the anarcho-primitivist social justice world of the edelweiss pirates, an accusation is all that is needed to prove guilt, and then one moves on to the next slander. Anything that conforms to their “necessary” morality, inherited from Christianity, is a primordial re-wilded desire for egalitarianism, and everything that doesn’t is a plot by bad misogynist colonizer anthropologists, or something to that effect:
I can’t think of any self-interested or dubious motive for why these observers would remark with horror, can you? Maybe it’s because they had a vested interest in making indigenous peoples look like warlike apes to justify their civilizing colonial ventures. Maybe underlying that was a perceptual bias, that spiritual illness that inheres in the very culture we claim to be trying to fight.
OIAWR hits its stride with the accusation that in describing the crime of rape in primitive warfare, women as spoils of war, Elani endorses this behavior. Again, the pirates accuse:
After reiterating that primitive war is a means of preventing radical inequality, we learn that “This is the complexity of primitive society: there are enemies and there are allies [...] Such alliances are created and maintained primarily through the exchange of women, who are also accumulated as spoils of war. This paradox, the exchange of women in securing alliances and the capture of women in war, illustrates, for Clastres the disdain toward exchange economy. Why should we trade for women when we can simply go get some for ourselves: “the risk [of war] is considerable (injury, death) but so are the benefits: they are total, the women are free.”
If these bits of pedagogy and rape culture sound suspiciously rather like modern compulsions, imperatives, and fantasies to the critically-minded reader, you should know that Elani agrees with you...
We will leave Elani’s essay for now and turn to the pirates’ reading of the titular essay of the journal, Abe Cabrera’s “Atassa: Lessons of the Creek War (1813-1814)”. In their brief treatment of this essay (which establishes, along with Elani’s contribution, the putative “pro-rape” tenor of the project), they focus on one scene of the lengthy essay: the massacre of the white inhabitants of Fort Mims by the Red Stick Creeks:
The section of the essay that follows shortly on the heels of this quotation is “The Massacre at Fort Mims as Re-Wilding,” in which one of the bloodiest attacks of the Creeks is related. Cabrera is certain to assure us: “What followed was a slaughter of exceptional brutality, but well in keeping with the ethos of Creek vengeance in war,” and quotes a number of white His-storians and anthropologists (who seemingly don’t all agree on the precise extent to which this behavior was precedented among the Creek) about the “purifying blaze” that would now rid the nation of the apostate Creeks. Throughout the piece, Cabrera is certain to demarcate the concepts and the actions that are admirable and in keeping with an ancient wisdom. This mostly takes the form of a kind of inverted Noble Savage proposition that always and in all cases upholds whatever brutality was done by the Creeks of 200 years ago and posits such acts and principles as eternal, salutary, and Wild.
When Cabrera arrives at discussing the fate of the women at Fort Mims, his laudatory tone and narrative is utterly unbroken. With an incipient giddiness consonant with everything he’s written up to now, he quotes at length about the gratuitous mass rape that took place at Fort Mims. Not a word of contextualization of the horrors of civilized war, or of war at all, is proffered. After this-- his crown-jewel block quotation—he begins the next paragraph, “Far from being acts of gratuitous or extraordinary violence, what occurred at Fort Mims was well within the cultural and spiritual logic of traditional Creek culture.” To prove his point, he quotes another white historian at length.
Here is the ideological underpinning being offered by their US boosters for the femicidal actions claimed by ITS. Here is the “indiscriminate attack” being refined, in print as in thought. Here is Rape-as-Re-Wilding.
Again, we must point out here the “hermeneutic of suspicion”. In spite of being an essay that aims to be well-documented, the pirates feel that they can discredit all of the “His-storians” and white scholars without it seems having done any research of their own, or citing any counter-narratives describing the same events. But here it is worth citing in full the passage that so scandalized the authors of OIAWR:
A special fate was reserved for the women. The Indians stripped them naked, scalped both head and nether parts, then raped some with fence rails and clubbed all to death like small game. Those unfortunate enough to be pregnant had their bellies slit open. Then the glistening fetus was snatched out, cord still attached, and laid, still living, carefully by the mother’s side in horrible tableaux—in the case of Mrs. Summerlin’s twins, on both sides of her. The indomitable Nancy Bailey met a similar end. When approached by an Indian who asked who her family was, she reportedly pointed to a body sprawled nearby and boldly exclaimed, ‘I am the sister of that great man you have murdered there.’ At which the enraged Indians clubbed her to the ground, slit open her belly, yanked out her intestines, and threw them onto the ground around her.
While a gruesome sight to be sure, this was not the only atrocity that the Red Sticks committed at Fort Mims. Right above the cited text, the “Atassa” author describes a small boy being clubbed to death and bodies being dismembered and held aloft as trophies of war, a custom among some of the Shawnee warriors present at the massacre. One wonders why child murder and dismemberment left the pirates so unfazed, but brutal rapes with fence rails were a bridge too far.
And of course, the “white historian” cited at length after this passage appears to be nothing but an exploiter who wants to spread calumny and detraction against poor indigenous people, because that is the only reason white His-torians exist.
Dr. Shuck-Hall has directed [Christopher Newport University’s] public history program for almost a decade. Her book-length analyses of Southeastern Indians were published by both the University of Nebraska Press and the University of Oklahoma Press. She assisted tribal advocates to secure claims to ancestral lands, and undertook museum curatorial assignments for Southeastern Indian tribes.
It appears here that the edelweiss pirates were too preoccupied with their invective to do a simple Google search, but we suppose that’s forgivable if the object of one’s polemic is so vile and lacking in human decency.
One wonders what the pirates think indigenous warfare was actually like, uninformed by Christian admonitions to “turn the other cheek” (which Christian soldiers did not even follow) and where scalping and torturous death were widely reported in the context of war. The Creeks were a remnant of the Mississippian cultures, and in places like Cahokia human sacrifices are widely believed to have taken place. It is odd that the pirates did not blame agriculture and sedentism for all of the bad things done at Fort Mims like every other primitivist. It is rather foolish then to cast doubt on heavily documented historical events, especially if one presents no counter-narrative in its place.
And Abe Cabrera isn’t white. One could state that white authors are “cleansed” of their whiteness if he cites them.
We leave the pirates’ yellow journalist exegesis and lay our cards on the table. First and foremost, eco-extremists don’t have any prescriptive counsels for any human at all in our context. None. We don’t care if people rape, murder, kill, commit infanticide, etc. etc. We do not believe that condemning behaviors, issuing trigger or content warnings, or admonitions from hindsight are of any use, or even desirable. Ramon Elani and Abe Cabrera’s matter-of-fact descriptions of previous atrocities are neither “laudatory” nor “salutary”. Some confusion might lie in the fact that they feel no need to judge two hundred year old events through the prism of modern egalitarianism or morality. Atassa is no more a “pro-rape” journal than it is a “pro-infanticide” or “pro-horse theft” journal, as these are also crimes described in its pages. One could here suspect that mentioning “rape” hits the “right buttons,” and is the pirates’ attempt to jump on the “fake news” bandwagon of 2017. In this case, accuracy suffers when marketing is one’s ultimate goal.
If the pirates had so desired, they could have easily found other damning evidence of eco-extremism being soft on sexual violence. Here we will cite one example as the pirates do not seem to have performed even cursory research on the topic. It comes from a work during the Wild Reaction phase of eco-extremism called, “They took their time already: Wild Reaction responds to Destroy the Prisons”:
“Before this comment RS [Wild Reaction] answers that if DP take themselves for community connoisseurs, we hope they know that the people of the hills in Mexico, since hundreds of years ago, are used to lifestyles that are frowned upon by the city dwellers sick with Western culture, certain ways of life that are perceived as ‘brutal’. For example, to exchange a woman for a cow or a swine, is common among natives, it is part of their customs, their way of life, and is something normal, while for Western moralists (including some anarchists) it is something unworthy, they get all worked up and cry to the heavens when they hear about this. Generally anarchists of the feminist type are those who most make a scandal about it. RS doesn’t see it as a bad thing, RS respects the development and customs of the country people, this is why we express ourselves in favor of power relations in such communities because it is not our concern to try and change them. We emphasize, it is not that we are ‘machistas’ but honestly we don’t set ourselves against this kind of native attitudes. This is what we think, even though it will infuriate the anarchists that we talk in this way, oh well.”
There is absolutely nothing prescriptive about eco-extremism. There is only an extreme pessimism concerning human thought and action, so it is no surprise to us if some indios in the hills of Mexico still give away their daughters for the price of a cow. We do not expect humans to be just or reasonable in this or any other context. Eco-extremism has no inclination to tell uncivilized societies how they should behave, we don’t believe in “The Fall,” good guys vs. bad guys, etc. If that sort of talk was ever appropriate, it isn’t anymore. We have no inclination to be Lawgivers to this or any other society, past or present. Our pursuit is attack on this society, this reality, and we do not feel the need to go back two-hundred years to call out injustices that most people have forgotten.
Do eco-extremists then advocate that women simply accept their rapes? To the extent that we care about those in affinity, there are two ideas at play here: 1. To renounce the idea that women (or anyone else) are victims who need to be protected by hyper-civilized society and 2. That all vengeance and retribution be carried out amorally and individualistically, as “societal solutions” and shaming are mere frauds. As some female eco-extremists have stated (yes, they exist):
The Western view is for one to look upon oneself as a woman as a victim of everyone and everything. It forces you to focus on dumb struggles which only distract from the true problem: Civilization. The system benefits when we look for the guilty amongst ourselves, and when we turn our anger on men, immigrants, the justice system, the state, the speciesists, etc. Thus, going along with all of the ephemeral struggles makes us part of the herd, but of a black herd: the supposedly “rebel” one, which one realizes is not even the case.
I have not wanted to remain thus. I have accepted my existence as a woman, and I have declared war without quarter on civilization, and not on a model of a system of domination called “patriarchy”. The eco-extremism that I defend is not focused on gender. I have wounded both men and women equally since this war is against civilization as a whole. Though the gender of the target is not important, at the same time I realize that as an individualist my condition as a woman in what I have done. Maybe I don’t recognize it publicly for strategic reasons, but I do with those in affinity.
She acknowledges, at least tacitly, the role the subjugation of women played in the emergence of civilization. The point is that it is no longer important, or rather, it would be important if one expects a “better” society to emerge out of the rubble of the current hyper-civilized techno-industrial civilization. As we don’t expect this, and as we think it is absurd to try to engineer a society based on spotty anthropological information, talking about abolishing patriarchy is about as useful as talking about terraforming the Moon or colonizing Mars. We will not waste our energy trying to achieve it.
Is there an eco-extremist approach to rape in particular? One eco-extremist spoke on the topic on an Internet radio program called, “Radio Primate”. At around the forty-five minute mark, he stated something along the lines of the following:
“If I say that I oppose rape, what good would it do?... If someone, even if they are old or young, a neighbor, relative, etc. raped you, instead of condemning rape, or victimizing yourself, why don’t you look for that person, and in an intelligent manner, get a knife, or even a gun, look that person in the eye, and, again, in an intelligent manner, kill them. Why are we going to declare ourselves in favor of or in opposition to civilizing activities? If someone did something like that to you, take justice into your own hands. Do what has to be done and that’s it… If you, individualist, were a victim of this sort of civilizing activity, look for the person who harmed you and make them pay, so that their blood is splattered everywhere and your hands are stained with their blood. And be happy that you did it… and don’t be ashamed. When you’re doing it, enjoy it, without regrets, your will be done…”
One might say that’s “ableist” or psychopathic, we cannot imagine anything more cathartic. What good are endless analyses of the past and present versus vengeance in the here and now?
The “rape apologist” accusation is just a marketing ploy. The eco-extremist, echoing an anarchist of yesteryear, could retort that they could never be rape apologists because they are too busy advocating for (and working for, in their own way) the extinction of the human species. They are innocent of that minor charge as they are busy working on a greater project (even if, admittedly, they could never bring it about themselves).
Of course, to paraphrase Joseph Stalin, one rape is a tragedy, and the extinction of the human race is merely a statistic.
That accusation refuted, we move on.B. Misogyny
This is somewhat related to rape, but deserving of its own section. The premise is that misanthropy is merely a cover for oppressing the most vulnerable and downtrodden sector of society, insinuating that ITS and other eco-extremists target women and oppressed people disproportionately. We quote the pirates:
Why is it so often that those who claim to be “pessimistic about all human endeavors” seem bound to express this alleged pessimism most potently as a hatred of women? One wonders at how deeply the misogyny runs in those for whom rape is not part of the reason for their pessimism, their alleged misanthropy, but instead is their stock response to the despair, a check in their own plus column, the form taken by their revenge upon “the world.”
It’s not just that they claim to hate humans but never kill themselves or each other. It’s not just that they dress up “the indiscriminate attack” in the clothes of a serious theoretical proposition as cover for the fact that they increasingly only attack women, faggots and pussies. It’s not only that they profess their hatred for anarchists while eagerly claiming a lineage with Severino Di Giovanni, the Italian anarchist and anti-fascist transplant to Argentina of a century ago, who indeed placed bombs with little regard for the possibility of collateral damage, but never randomly, always targeting the powerful.
Meanwhile, ITS is so bad at war, so bad at being the nomadic, cannibal warriors of their own deranged imaginations that all they can muster is collateral damage, the “indiscriminate attack,” being their attempt to maintain their aura or nimbus of being the Most Down while actually camouflaging their own letting off the hook of those most responsible (impotence may be to embarrassing of a word to admit). To call their recent claims emblematic of an attack on low-hanging fruit may be understatement to the point of absurdity, an insult added to the injury done to their “random” targets.
Hyper-masculinized and/or indiscriminate violence, exalted as means and end, coupled with a mythic spiritual ideal is in line with proto-fascism, especially that of ex-anarchists who take their aim primarily or exclusively at "reds," egalitarians, queers, women, etc.
This one is pretty easy to address. We list here all of the attacks by ITS in the last calendar year (2017) and tally how many women, “faggots” etc. they’ve killed or injured. We can then assess how “misogynist” and “bad at war” they are.
21st Communique (January): a bomb sent to the Head of Codelco, Oscar Landerretche, one of the largest mining companies in the world, in Santiago, Chile. He suffered minor injuries to his hands due to the trajectory of the blast, though his mother-in-law, maid, and three year old daughter were also in the room, though uninjured.
22nd Communique (February): bombs placed in churches and a biotech company in Torreon, Mexico. No one was injured.
24th Communique (February): a bomb placed on a bus in Mexico State, Mexico. No injuries.
25th Communique (March): The assassination of the Vicerector of the Technological Institute of Advanced Studies, Luis Arturo Torres Garcia.
27th Communique (April): Firing on infrastructure in Mexico State, Mexico. No known injuries.
28th Communique (April): The placing of an exploding envelope on a park bench in Torreon, Mexico. A girl found it, it exploded, but the media reported that no one was injured.
29th Communique (May): The deaths of two hikers in Mexico State (male and female), the placing of an explosive device at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), and the death of Lesvy Berlin Osorio.
30th Communique (May): a bomb planted on a bus in Santiago, Chile, which did not explode.
32nd Communique (July): a bomb planted at a church in Mexico State, Mexico. The sacristan of the church picked it up and it exploded, wounding him.
34th Communique (July): another explosive envelope left on a park bench in Torreon, Mexico. It is not known what happened to the envelope.
35th Communique (August): two more explosives left in two churches in Mexico State, Mexico. No known injuries.
36th Communique (August): a tractor trailer set on fire in Mexico State. No known injuries.
37th Communique (August): an incendiary device placed on a bus in Santiago, Chile, which started a fire and consumed the vehicle. No known injuries.
40th Communique (September): placing a bomb in front of a physics and astronomy building at the University of Buenos Aires, Argentina, addressed to the director of that department, Dr. Gloria Dubner. The bomb was found and disposed of by the bomb squad. No known injuries.
41st Communique (October): a bomb placed in another church in Mexico State, Mexico. No known injuries.
42nd Communique (October): the murder of two male pilgrims carrying a St. Jude statue in the state of Queretaro in Mexico.
43rd Communique (November): attempted bombings of bus lines in Santiago, Chile. No known injuries.
44th Communique (December): the sabotaging and destruction of power lines in the state of Nuevo Leon in Mexico.
45th Communique (December): an attempted mail bomb that exploded in a major processing center in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Two male workers sustained minor injuries.
So let us break down the total deaths, injuries, etc. that ITS has claimed responsibility for and see if they are targeting (in the pirates’ words) “women, faggots, and pussies”. Now, I don’t see any hate crimes against homosexuals here, so that’s off the list. Women? Of course, there is the Great Martyr Lesvy Berlin Osorio of UNAM fame (whose boyfriend is being tried for her murder, just for everyone’s general information), but also the female hiker who no one talks about (Because she was hiking with her boyfriend who was also killed? What sort of headline-grabber is that?) That’s two women, versus the university administrator, the male hiker, and the two Catholic male pilgrims. Add to that the CODELCO chief (where the bomb exploded in his kitchen) and the maimed Catholic sacristan, and we still don’t see a war on women. There is the bomb sent to Dr. Dubner, but was she off-limits for being a woman, or fair game due to her position within the university? And the poor random girl who picked up the envelope. Still, no misogynist war in sight.
What we do see, overall, is a war against companies and infrastructure (CEOs, university administrators, construction equipment, infrastructure, vehicles, etc.) as well as against such institutions as the Catholic Church (Have anarchists buried the hatchet with the Papists yet? We must have not gotten the memo.) While the “random attacks” against the “most vulnerable” makes a great talking point for enemies and “frenemies” of eco-extremism alike, that’s clearly not what is going on here. Most of the eco-extremist’s targets are also being attacked by insurrectionary anarchists in the same regions of the world, only the methodology is different. Any attack that eco-extremists carry out requires planning, scoping out the location, and exceptional measures so as to not get caught. For the most part, their targets are carefully selected not out of any moral considerations, but merely because of logistics. The two major considerations are “Can I do it?” and “Can I get away with it?”
But what of the poor “vulnerable” people who were attacked or died? Lesvy Berlin was walking in front of the engineering department of the university. Perhaps their intention was to leave a dead body in front of a center of techno-industrial progress: hardly a random choice of venue. The two hikers: well, they explain themselves there, and we will discuss this below. The vice-rector: do I really have to describe that one to anarchists? And the head of a mining company? How about the sacristan and the two pilgrims carrying a statue? So Catholics are now off limits to anarchists, I suppose. Durruti would be proud of today’s insurrectionaries for sticking up for the poor innocent believers.
So these attacks and casualties are far from “random”. They are most definitely not leaving the powerful alone, but they aren’t sparing the “vulnerable” either (whose complacency keeps the “powerful” in power). It is tempting to make sloppy generalizations due to deeply felt antagonism, but this feeling does not make these generalizations accurate.
Individualist eco-extremism refuses to “call-out” or mandate a particular action. If one person wants to sabotage some power lines, and they can get away with it, fine, that is their individual prerogative. If someone wants to randomly kill someone, as enemies of the human race, eco-extremists would never oppose or condemn that. There are no coordinated attacks, no meetings where individualists hash out and have struggle sessions about “correct strategy”. The correct strategy is: will someone get hurt or killed; will something be destroyed; and can I get away with it? It’s that simple. If you don’t think X is a good idea, do Y instead.
So with the true nature of eco-extremist actions in the recent past established, we can move on to the next accusation.C. Attacking anarchists
This accusation is true. I will let Scott Campbell summarize:
OkupaChe is an autonomous space for a variety of collectives and individuals that for years has been under threat and attacks from the police and university administration. On December 14, after a growing push for the eviction of the okupa, there was to be a large student assembly with OkupaChe as the first item on the agenda. At some point during the night before the assembly, an explosive device was left outside the doorway of the auditorium. It was described as a package made up of flammable material and nails, powerful enough to have started a fire and wounded people at the space as well as passers-by. Initially thought to be part of the push to evict OkupaChe, in March an ITS group mentioned “an annoying device that we left in the mousetrap called che.” In the more recent statement, ITS elaborates further, regurgitating without irony the government’s talking points about the space:
[D]id you know that one of our groups placed a bomb at the “Che Squat”? That was done mainly because they were defaming us and we shit on those anarcho-rock star ex-con politicians and drug addicts who hang out there, because the auditorium is supposedly so legendary: a symbol of “autonomy” and the “combative” student movement of the ‘90’s.
So along with their tirades and death threats against individual anarchists, one can see that they have actually attempted to kill or injure anarchists en masse and cause damage to anarchist spaces. In preparation for this article, I reached out to anarchists in Mexico to attempt to document other ITS threats. They indicated that numerous threats from ITS have been directed against anarchist individuals and projects, but no one felt comfortable going on the record.
In replying to Mexican anarchists in particular, ITS wrote the following in its Thirty-Third Communiqué:
We ask ourselves, are not the people who the federal government sent to infiltrate your anarchist spaces more important than ITS, who aren’t in those spaces? And speaking of, did you know that one of our groups placed a bomb at the “Che Squat”? That was done mainly because they were defaming us and we shit on those anarcho-rock star ex-con politicians and drug addicts who hang out there, because the auditorium is supposedly so legendary: a symbol of “autonomy” and the “combative” student movement of the ‘90’s. Now it’s just a den of slimy journalists, a place where the Cisen and Mexico City Investigative Police plant their informers to gather information no matter how irrelevant. From there the press has gathered names, nicknames, photos, addresses, etc. of “comrades” in 2014 after various “slaps,” from there you get the Pegasus malware that infected the personal cellphones of anarchists that year and at that site. Let it be noted that we are not saying this to portray ourselves as “defenders of anarchists,” of course not, that ITS group placed the bomb at that squat because inside was a person who was trying to pass himself off as one of us. He foolishly deceived a bunch of young anarchists and dazzled them with his guns, with his threats, his made-up stories, and supposed connections with us to gain popularity and be “that guy”. With that bomb we got him out of the scene and we started to hunt him. Only with the help of anarchists who he had deceived (who you should try to “eliminate” instead of posturing as the “new people who will deal with ITS,” which is apparently now in style). That person returned to his police barracks and we lost track of him. This isn’t a lie, you can investigate it with your sources and you will see that it’s not part of our “pathological lying.” Ha!
Since this event, there has been much back and forth, mostly one sided in terms of actual harm done against either side. In the 39th Communiqué, ITS in Chile stated that it tipped off the family of a person murdered by the anarchists some years back, apparently the victim of a botched incendiary attack:
So now that it is all the style to threaten an anarchist war against the Eco-extremist Mafia, snitching included, we gave some clues about these nuns to the friends and family (some of them criminals) of Sergio Landskron, so that they’ll know who to shoot and stab to get even. They’re looking in freed squats around the site of the indiscriminate attack and they’ll know who took their son-uncle-brother from them. They’re squats full of shitheads who have gotten out of the explosives game because of this anarcho-Christian sin, but we know that they have this hidden sin on their chest and it won’t be forgotten anytime soon.
Do the moralists consider this snitching too? It’s all the same to us, it’s not for nothing that we are egoists, criminals, and amoral. But let it be known, what we have just stated is just one demonstration that we know quite well those behind certain things, we know where the campaign in Chile against eco-extremism comes from. We thus state that if they continue with this pathetic campaign they shouldn’t be surprised when we respond.
Eco-extremists have also insinuated that there is a link between the beating of an anarchist in the University City in Mexico City and ITS, though no direct responsibility is taken for this attack. In the 44th Communiqué, which takes responsibility for the destruction of an electrical tower, ITS mentions this most recent violent incident against an anarchist, ITS explains:
These kids, have they forgotten from where anarchist groups in Mexico have gotten their explosives from 2015 onward? If they forgot, we remind them than in many cases these explosives have been acquired from the aforementioned eco-extremists with the intent of causing more destruction without regard for the political differences that divide us. We aren’t going to name those groups with “anti-authoritarian” leanings that have bought explosives from our contacts so that they wouldn’t have to put their asses on the line. They know full well who they are. Why is it that (with the exception of old insurrectionary groups) none of these “new” groups of anarchists say shit against the eco-extremists?
Here we recall that, while the initial polemic against ITS by old members of the FAI / CCF in Mexico issued a vigorous condemnation, it did not deny a former collaboration:
Although ITS were one of the few clusters with which we did not directly coordinate when undertaking joint actions, we were in solidarity with them, in the same way that some of the comrades that made up our affinity groups obtained monetary resources for them to solve specific difficulties when requested. That has been (and is) the basis of practical co-ordination between the new anarchic insurrectionalism and eco-anarchism.
To think that there is an absolute wall between anarchists and eco-extremists in the countries where eco-extremists operate is a bit silly, especially since overlap between these groups has been documented. In places of relative peace and legality (i.e. most of the places from where condemnations of eco-extremism come), people can afford to morally pick sides according to unsullied principles. In the realm of illegality and violence, one’s allies and enemies are not as clear. We are speculating of course. To expect that people involved in that way of life will take as authoritative the words of anarchists far away in comfortable situations seems a bit delusional, especially if just for the crime of planting a bomb at an “anarchist” squat named after Che Guevara (an authoritarian Marxist). And as for subsequent actions, we are not sure what anarchists expect from the eco-extremists: that they are supposed to treat them with kid gloves because they’re “comrades”? The anarchists have already made clear that this isn’t the case, so they shouldn’t be surprised when people who like attacking human beings start attacking them.
To us it seems that a particular group of “Third World” anarchists are asking “First World” anarchists to come to their rescue. An interesting spectacle but we don’t see how this goes anywhere. This is a family feud and not one side deciding to “go fascist”. Perhaps some anarchists on the ground can’t afford to be as moral as Scott Campbell, the pirates, the veterans of the CCF, or others. We end this section with an excerpt from an eco-extremist text entitled, “The Anarchist Myth”:
Who knows, maybe new generations of anarchists will know how to turn this decadence around and take other paths, more dangerous for the existent. We don’t know one way or the other and, contrary to what many people think, we would be glad if this happened since more tension, more attacks, more bombings and fires, assassinations and alterations of normality of any kind; in short, extremist and destructive criminal activity (of whatever kind) adds chaos and destabilization to a declining civilization.Intermezzo: An exegesis of the GITS / ITS 29th Communique
In order to proceed further, we have to address the red herring of “ITS Before the 29th Communiqué” vs. “ITS After the 29th Communiqué”. Like most hyper-civilized, even those interested in eco-extremism had a hard time moving past the death and destruction reported in that communiqué and their significance. There was no schism in these events, and if one is perceived, it was due mainly to the difference in rhetoric / reasoning behind the actions as reported in that communiqué. To give a more faithful interpretation of events, we will of course have to enter the realm of speculation, but we think the following is a more accurate interpretation of events.
In addressing the 29th Communiqué, we must keep in mind that eco-extremism is not a doctrine or even an ideology. It is a tendency: that means that it mainly indicates the inclinations of its adherents and not their actual positions. For example, eco-extremists have been characterized as “religious fundamentalists,” when certain members of the Tendency have been explicit that they do NOT have any religious beliefs or spiritual practices. The nihilist terrorist tendency in Europe does not seem to have any religious inclinations at all, or even explicitly ecological ones for that matter. This is a broad tent, but instead of an ideological position holding these groups and individuals together, the binding position is one of attack: violent, indiscriminate, and misanthropic. Beyond that, it is up to each eco-extremist / nihilist individualist to determine their reasons for doing things.
In that sense, the 29th Communiqué does not come from the “mainstream” of eco-extremism, at least in Latin America where it is most active. Though co-signed by an ITS cell, the main author of the communiqué was the Grupo Indiscriminado Tendiendo a lo Salvaje (GITS), the Indiscriminate Group Tending Toward the Wild. While it is safe to assume that there is a solid strategic union between ITS and GITS, their reasoning and actions have been somewhat different, as have been their results.
GITS surfaced first last year as the Grupúsculo Indiscriminado or Indiscriminate Faction that claimed responsibility in early 2016 for the murder of a computer science student in Mexico State. The police caught the supposed assailants of this attack and sentenced them in 2017, though the Indiscriminate Faction stated that they were the real culprits. They were also part of coordinated actions with ITS in 2016 and early 2017, including bombings and sabotaging a rail system in Mexico State. In the 18th Communiqué, they issued the following ominous threat:
We’d like to state to all those people who are attracted by “natural beauty” that you too are in our sights. Just like the list of scientists, the list of “forest lovers” who we will attack is quite long. Don’t be surprised if one day while you’re out camping the “Devil” shows up. This time you won’t be offered as a sacrifice, you’ll just be fertilizer for the trees. “The coyotes descended from the mountain, now they return to them.”
In a communiqué in March 2017, the Indiscriminate Faction announced its merger with an ITS group to form GITS. In this communiqué, they took an explicitly extinctionist line regarding humans, renouncing terms such as “wild nature” and making explicit that their reasons for omnicidal attack were completely secular:
Our position now is to attack the human being, killing and mutilating, now that the human being is the principal culprit for the changes that Planet Earth has suffered. Among these are the changes in the biogeochemical cycles that the planet has suffered in the last few years. These include cycles of N, P, C, CH4, H2O. We don’t deny that the whole system is in constant change but this change has accelerated considerably after the Industrial Revolution (we don’t have to go into detail here, whoever wants can study this, whoever doesn’t can call us crazy.) Why do we say this? Many leftists, ecologists, anarchists, hipsters, pseudo-intellectuals, and the rest spit out the same thing: “the human feels like god in modifying natural systems.” We speak here of the use of GMOs, which industry paints a rosy picture of. “They do it for the good of humanity,” so that there can be better quality, more productivity, where they can’t produce or there is a lack of production of this or that crop. So why is it so bad to isolate a specific protein in “X” species and put in a bacteria (Thermophilus aquaticus) to synthesize the protein? At the end of the day it doesn’t seem too “bad,” since the human being consumes proteins, synthesizes proteins, and requires essential amino acids. Maybe the use of GMOs isn’t so bad to additionally benefit “X” species… Wait, what about the biogeochemical cycle of N? What about the nitrates and nitrites of the Earth? You already have an example of how the biogeochemical cycle is altered and the consequences that come with it. Anyone with knowledge of the above would tell us we’re right. They would stoop down and say that we (humans) are a danger for the Planet Earth. Others will call us crazy. But the changes are there, more evident than ever. Some hope that so-called “wild nature” will end it all, others hope to enjoy life, others struggle for equality of the human being, and the vast majority lives as a mass on the planet…
While this was the first explicitly extinctionist text in the eco-extremist canon, the position has been adopted by most in the Tendency as far as we can tell. Nevertheless, few eco-extremist groups are keen on scientific reasoning, and some even criticize it.
A couple of months after the release of the 18th Communiqué the murders of the two hikers and Lesvy Berlin Osorio took place, as well an attempted bombing of the UNAM. At the risk of satisfying no one, we will point out a few things:
There is a reiteration of the scientific reasoning for their attack at the beginning of the essay;
The murder of the two hikers was predicted by GITS’ predecessor some months earlier, so that might make the story of GITS “settling” for the hikers instead of illegal loggers not as plausible;
Taking responsibility for the Berlin Osorio murder is almost an afterthought at the end of the communiqué.
This is not to say that the communiqué is not telling the truth, but Berlin Osorio’s boyfriend was arrested for her murder and is currently being tried for it (as was the case with computer science student). Again, we do not know for sure, but these are the only two actions that an eco-extremist group has taken responsibility for internationally where others were caught and charged with the crimes. (It should be pointed out that the murder of the hikers remains unsolved.)
What unsettled many about the 29th Communiqué was its randomness and seemingly absurd justifications for the discussed actions. We should remember that the groups that carried out these attacks envisioned them well in advance, and the venues were not at all random. Also, in comparison with all of the other eco-extremist actions in 2017, these remain a bit of an outlier. Most other attacks have been against biotechnologists, executives, academics, etc. There have also been a disproportionate number of attacks on the Catholic Church and its faithful. As we saw above, to think that the 29th Communiqué was some sort of “watershed” moment does not conform to the character of most attacks carried out in the last calendar year.D. Black Seed no. 5: With frenemies like these…
Eco-extremism haunted the latest issue of the LBC paper, Black Seed, published last year. While there were some articles that mentioned eco-extremist themes in a positive light and would not have been entirely out of place in Atassa or similar publications ( with honorable mentions to “Murder of the Civilized” and the “Erotic Life of Stones”), there are two articles in particular that were explicitly critical of eco-extremism, namely Bellamy Fitzpatricks’ “Revolutionary Dissonance: Why Eco-extremism Matters for Those Who Most Hate It,” and “Eco-extremism or Extinctionism” by John Jacobi. While OIAWR offered its own critique of Black Seed, we will ignore it in this section because their criticism amounted to little more than upbraiding the Black Seed writers for not being moral enough in their critiques.
Fitzpatrick’s article was balanced in places, but its critique seems to be little more than nihilist one-upmanship. Also, in spite of having footnotes, his reading of eco-extremist texts is careless to the point of negligence. For example, his main critical section is entitled, “Ajajema’s Holy Warriors,” and later in his essay he characterizes the events of the 29th Communiqué as “‘sociopathic’ people who have killed hikers and an intoxicated woman in the name of an unfamiliar, long-dead god.” Only, as we have seen above, that is NOT why GITS allegedly killed those people. Their reasoning is actually more along the lines of his own when he speaks of cyanobacteria. Indeed, there have been eco-extremists or individualists who have been explicit about their own lack of religious motivations in carrying out their attacks:
Here in Europe there are also groups of nihilist terrorists, individualistic criminals and extremist misanthropes who are alive and kicking, and we remind you again that some of these groups were until a while ago close to you and your rotten environment, we know who is who and where they hang out each other, violence and the attack for us is not something new, but a practice that has become an extension of our own being, since it has been part of our life for years already… we do not have “pagan gods” what we have are weapons, explosives and information… So watch your words, your internet bravery can be expensive in real life.
So alright, maybe that is a minor slip-up. And maybe we can state instead that ITS sent a bomb to the CEO of one of the largest mining companies in the world in the name of a “long-dead” god, which is a sensible conclusion because the Ajajema journal most likely is published out of Chile and not Mexico. We have seen that some eco-extremists are “spiritual”, and some are not. But never does a personal belief within eco-extremism become an exclusionary confessional barrier. The enemy is the human, and the reason to attack is entirely your own.
In condemning theology, Fitzpatrick ignores the critique that eco-extremism has of such humanist concepts as “liberation,” which he un-reflexively accepts and takes for granted in his essay. For example, he cites an article on the Wandering Cannibals blog but only in passing. Allow us then to cite a selection relevant to this conversation:
For the eco-extremist, indiscriminate attack against the hyper-civilized is a cultic offering to the Unknowable which breaks the anthropocentric ambition of techno-industrial society. It is an attack on the supposed stability and bliss that law and order seeks to bestow on its adherents, a blood offering to Wild Nature. It is a religious act, not a political one, even if religion is understood very loosely here (as it had been before the emergence of modern Western civilization). It is a blow to the ascetic ambitions for a better tomorrow of both priest and scientist. It is the affirmation that only the Inhuman can defeat the idea of Human Power as Its Own End, only it can break apart all ambition for control and artificiality. The shedding of the blood of the hyper-civilized is a prophetic act that foreshadows the final destiny of techno-industrial society, and perhaps of humans themselves: a descent into Chaos, that fecundity that births and destroys beings without measure, and of which techno-industrial civilization is only a farcical imitation.
And if we can beg the reader’s indulgence, we will cite another passage from an article on this blog that is pertinent to the conversation:
Perhaps the real ethical problem behind indiscriminate attack isn’t one of assigning guilt, but of discerning if innocence even exists in this context. Seven billion people don’t live their lives being innocent or guilty of anything. Their default mode is “minding their own business”. They’re fodder, they know not what they do. At that level, their lives are mostly devoid of discernible ethical content. And even in situations where people “care”, they often rob Peter to pay Paul: they live part of their life unethically to sustain an ethical veneer elsewhere in their lives. The bottom line is: if you don’t want that forest cut, or that ocean floor drilled, or that river polluted, you don’t have to look far to see who is at fault. You are, your friends are, those you love are. Or do you and they eat only air and live in thatched huts made from the branches of native trees? Or do you treat yourself with local plants when you are sick, or check your email using only a wooden bow drill? If (by your actions, not your words) you don’t care about Wild Nature, why should it care about you? Why should anyone?
Human life is not and can never be heroic, ethical, noble, or anything else it aims to be. You can expect little from it, and it is not eternal. Those who continue to defend humanism only wish to circle the wagons and defend Human Power as its own end by any means necessary, but they are defending the material means by which that species supremacy is upheld. The eco-extremist has come to the conclusion that the only way to attack Human Supremacy is to attack humans in any capacity in which they are capable. They do this not out of some inverted sense of morality, but out of the realization that morality is impossible, or rather, it cannot do what it says it does: sift the wheat from the chaff, the sheep from the goats, and the innocent from the guilty. Their attack is a refusal of the premise that the human ideal can govern life on a universal ethical level. It is a launching out into the Inhuman in the Name of the Unknowable, with little expectation in terms of human achievement.
So while it is of passing interest that Fitzpatrick compares humans to cyanobacteria in terms of ethical responsibility and moral weight, what better way to take the argument a step further than killing some humans for no other reason than it’s Tuesday or cloudy outside? If human beings really aren’t that significant, then killing a few of them should be no big deal, right? And of course, eco-extremists admit every time they mention human extinction that their efforts are rather insignificant in terms of bringing it about. The problem is ultimately quantitative and not qualitative: it is not one of innocence or guilt, but one of mere existing and taking up space. Whether Fitzpatrick wants “liberation” for a particular group or his own circle of friends is neither here nor there in this regard. As the eco-extremist writer Zupay states in his “Reflections on Freedom”:
We cannot state it emphatically enough: freedom is an illusion. Nature is not our mother, she is “cruel,” “merciless”, and yes, “oppressive”. Or at least that is how the hyper-civilized would see it. But for us, all this merely is, and what has always been. We don’t tremble at the movement of the tectonic plates, or when the tsunami makes a particular eco-system disappear. Nor are we taken aback when a crocodile eats its young or a tribe of savages strangles its babies. We got rid of our civilized prejudices, we killed our moral being. We blew to pieces those who sought to domesticate our bodies and minds. We accept reality, we look our truth in the eyes and we are NOT afraid.
And as we have stated above, perhaps to Fitzpatrick’s relief, eco-extremism isn’t prescriptive. It doesn’t tell him or anyone else what to do. It has no plan for him other than being another hyper-civilized for whom it has no reason to care about. All the same, Fitzpatrick seems to think that the eco-extremist way of life entails living “ascetically and dangerously”, which is out of the question for him. Rest assured, the mentality of the eco-extremist is more like that of a criminal, and, dare I say it, a serial killer, and less like that of a monk or a Bolshevik. Yes, it is dangerous, but no more dangerous than for anyone else who decides to live a double life. There is difficulty in it, but all “normal” people live double lives at work, in their homes, and certainly out in public. So it is no more “ascetical” than what most people experience in their normal lives on average.
As for the whole “not getting caught,” one can think that here is the rub. Fitzpatrick thinks that since their activity is “dangerous,” of course eco-extremists must be fanatics on par with Che Guevara and Vladimir Lenin, displaying the same revolutionary “trappings.” What he forgets is the actual joy of harming and killing one’s enemy: a particular pleasure that we hyper-civilized don’t often experience, or if we do (say in the context of modern warfare or “revolutionary” violence) we are asked to feel guilty about it. As the last article of Regresión no. 7 stated:
I recommend to the individualists who are ready to take a life to choose their target wisely, commend themselves to their ancestors, sharpen their knives, and be cold at the moment of committing the deed. They should also enjoy it: nothing compares to the moment when you hear the last breath of a hyper-civilized person and seeing the blood spurt forth from the body of your victim. Let us decide the fate of the lives of others with guile, remembering the acts of previous murderous warriors!
If we are going to be truly amoral and nihilistic, perhaps the acts of eco-extremists carry no more ethical weight than stamp collecting or taking up the accordion. After all, humans basically have the same metaphysical significance as cyanobacteria and stones. Why make a big deal out of humans killing other humans, especially if they seem to be able to get away with it? All human activity requires effort, from killing people with bombs to creating a permaculture homestead somewhere in the countryside. That doesn’t make any of it “ascetical”.
John Jacobi’s essay in Black Seed no. 5 is a public repudiation of his dialogue with eco-extremism due to its embrace of extinctionism. Though Jacobi has had very public relations and even sympathetic exchanges with eco-extremism, up to writing a rather informative article in Atassa no. 1 concerning eco-extremism’s ideological pedigree, he now feels the need to break ties since eco-extremism has lapsed too far into theological and nihilistic inclinations. This newfound aversion to eco-extremism brings up the question: if eco-extremists were not extinctionist before, what were they? Did they hope that a certain group of humans would be able to make it out of civilization and start anew? If so, Jacobi’s reticence to endorse indiscriminate attack would be justified: if you accidentally kill one of the Chosen with enough of a “Wild Will” to make it out of civilization, are you not diminishing the chances of ultimate victory, i.e. a fully feral, wild humanity? Clearly, eco-extremists have never thought this. Their hopelessness and pessimism toward all of hyper-civilized humanity (i.e. the only humanity left for all intents and purposes) has never been in doubt. The hypothetical positing of a “small group of people who are willing to embrace the wild,” does not bring such a group into being, and neither does the existence of the peoples of such places like the Amazon or the Andaman Islands whose entire existence is due to the “conservationist” impulse to “leave them alone”. The exception proves the rule, and if techno-industrial civilization and the rule of law collapsed tomorrow, such isolated peoples would no longer be protected.
The real issue with Jacobi has always been his intransigent belief in the human as a closed system, no matter how much recourse to “the wild” he has at times. He can’t but spout such Enlightenment dogma as “the source of human values is human beings themselves,” as if all “humans” have been equal throughout history, as if to predicate “human” in both the civilized and uncivilized resolves the issue at the level of first principles. As if the object of human cognition continues to be the continuation of the actually existing human genome, even if only within the circle of those who have an adequate affinity with the “Wild Will.” But even if eco-extremists posit a “human nature” that is corrupted by industrial society, they neither posit a clear idea of its essence, nor a way to “fix” that nature by creating an “outside” of civilization. Such an “outside” does not exist, and there is no feral future, nor is one possible.
So to Jacobi’s question, whether eco-extremists carry out their action because of their hatred of humanity or their love of the wild, they would reply that this is not an “either/or” dilemma. One can, and probably should, have both points as motivation. There is no natural “outside” that the hyper-civilized can take refuge in, as we are all products of civilization itself. But as techno-industrial civilization is neither a well-defined nor stable phenomenon, the ultimate object of hatred is the idea of human power and control as their own end, which can only be countered by attacking the human as both product and agent of that control. In this sense, extinction is like a wish more than a practical program: it is like the anarchists who wish for a “society without domination,” though they know that this is probably not attainable. There will probably be homo sapiens well into the distant future, but one can act as if they should simply not exist.
In the end, this difference between Jacobi and the eco-extremists may be scholastic, at least on the surface. In terms of action, Jacobi and other wayward disciples of Theodore Kaczynski will continue to go about seeking the right theory and conditions under which to act, sinking deeper into ineffectiveness and sectarian bickering. Individualists, on the other hand, will act in the here and now, within the only life that Wild Nature has bequeathed to us, with the imperfect tools that we have both theoretically and practically. Though the embrace of human extinction may be more of a provocation than a real possibility, it does more starkly define what is important in our context, and what is secondary.E. Fascism
We return to OIAWR to address the issue of fascism and eco-extremism’s supposed role in political discourse in the United States and beyond. Even if eco-extremists eschew political action and intentions in their attacks, the pirates attempt to graft eco-extremists into the leftist narrative (though the places that OIAWR most speaks about in this regard are not places where actual eco-extremists are active). If the eco-extremists wish to be excluded from that narrative, it’s too late: for the pirates, individualists are already useful stooges of the reaction, patriarchy, 4chan, and a host of other ominous enemies.
The pirates assert that, pace Scott Campbell, there is no “eco-fascism,” but this is far from letting eco-extremists off the hook. Eco-extremists obviously do not share many of the essential characteristics of fascism, which they define succinctly as “populist ultra-nationalism fixated upon the rebirth (following a period of perceived degeneration or decay) of the Nation or the People as conceived, usually, as a racial entity.” Nevertheless, like a pestilence in the air, eco-extremists have caught the fascist contagion, and are already proto-fascists. This small secretive cabal of individuals is doing the work of the State by attacking anarchists and giving the anti-civ movement and ideology a bad name. Or to put it in the pirates’ words:
...The fact of the ever-shifting content of the ITS ideology bespeaks a political opportunism that is indeed reminiscent of the early italian fascists and their figurehead Mussolini, whose superficial, chameleon-like qualities as a theoretician were among his hallmarks. One can imagine current ITS positions, like prior ones, being thrown over in short order in favor of more fascistic ones. The resemblance could conceivably prove to be something more than incidental.
So the fact that eco-extremism is a developing Tendency and not a defined ideology means it’s a loose cannon without principles just waiting to go fascist at any moment. Not only this, but they give “comfort to the enemy,” and that enemy could readily sympathize with the ethos of eco-extremism at some point:
Similarly, we can imagine new combinations for our enemies, the formation of an equivalent bridge or web connecting the opportunistic apocalyptic ramblings of the ITS to a more explicit fascist populism. We can imagine new ranks of fascists inspired or informed by their own homegrown supervillains. We can even imagine (quite easily) white nazis who think these homicidal subversives are pretty cool, potential allies even if they are Mexicans, or insurrectionary white boys gleefully seizing upon these role models to gloss over or christen their own lack of commitment to fighting against rape culture. It is the formation of such a bridge that must be prevented. It is the beginnings of this formation that we may be glimpsing in the recent turns of this situation.
So the accusation stands: if ITS and those who dialogue with it aren’t “eco-fascists”, they might as well be. Their lack of commitment to the humanist egalitarian values that the pirates defend means that, “if they are not with us, they’re against us.” These “suspicions” and “imaginings” must be taken seriously by the whole anarchist, anti-authoritarian, and radical community because the OIAWR authors have studied the issue and have come to the conclusion that, mirabile visu, the anti-civilization and anti-fascist agendas are one in the same. The best way to fight civilization is to double-down on fighting for egalitarianism (which for the pirates is practically an Eternal Dogma written in the heavens via cherry-picked anthropological data), against patriarchy, transphobia, and the whole host of Neo-Christian talking points that enshrine the Victim as the Supreme Object of veneration. They can call ITS and LBC “proto-fascists” because they know history, and they know these groups better than the groups know themselves (in spite of their getting very basic facts wrong).
We counter such a specious reading of what eco-extremism means in the current moment by pointing out the pirates’ true tactic: throwing a lot of things at eco-extremism and hoping something sticks. Rape apologists? That’s clearly not a thing. Misogyny? Eco-extremists hate all humans equally, and attack on that basis. Proto-fascists? Well, they share some characteristics if you use your imagination and squint rather vigorously… ITS is like the new Freikorps ready to stick another rifle butt in Rosa Luxemburg’s head. Never mind that the circumstances in which fascism arose in the 20th century, with rising working class militancy and increased labor actions shaking the capitalist system, look nothing like what “fascism” is today, at least in the United States: social lepers live-action role playing in the streets and hitting each other with sticks. This is still fascism, trust us. (So say the pirates.)
If this accusation is clearly not sticking to eco-extremism either, what is eco-extremism on the social level? Really, not much. Nor does it aim to be much. ITS has stated the following concerning the possible grafting of ex-leftist cadres with some training in arms into the criminal element:
The FARC have also given up their arms (and the ELN is on the same path). Even though some groups are determined to continue in the jungle as they have for decades, the organization itself has signed a peace accord with the Colombian government. This has generated different reactions. Some members of the paramilitary groups (that fought to the death against the FARC) have dedicated themselves to hunting down ex-guerrillas, now disarmed and mere vulnerable civilians.
On the other side are the ex-guerrillas who refuse to give up their arms. They don’t want to be easy prey, and even though they know the “revolution” failed, they can’t really return to civilian life after so many years of war. So they contract themselves out as mercenaries for strong criminal groups like the PCC (Primeiro Comando da Capital, a criminal organization with its origin in Brazil but with strong presence in Paraguay and Argentina, which is dedicated to drug and arms trafficking.) This was seen in the “Robbery of the Century” in Paraguay in April of this year, where different decentralized groups lit various cars on fire to serve as a distraction for the main mission. At the same time, the principal body of heavily-armed commandos detonated a large explosive that blew apart one of the walls of a transport company, and after a firefight the bandits entered the company and robbed ten million dollars. On top of this, they had the nerve to escape on a boat that passed through the Itaipu Reserve in Brazil. This act, totally different from the usual methods of the PCC, could not be realized without military expertise, and without the technical and strategic help of the ex-guerrillas of the FARC now working for the PCC.
For some time these types of criminal actions have pleased us more than the acts of political guerrillas. This is sufficient to allow us to say with pleasure that the era of “revolution” has passed and the only thing left is to commit oneself to the individualist struggle for survival, leaving behind weak and disgusting humanist values.
It is thus either extreme negligence or opportunistic intellectual sloth that leads the pirates to think that ITS will “break bad” (or “break worse”?) and become a bunch of brown Mexican Nazis, along with the entire editorial board of Little Black Cart passing over into fascism (Little Brown Cart? They wouldn’t even have to change the acronym). The Enlightenment / secular Christian prejudices of the pirates can’t possibly fathom the chaotic future before us, thus they have to resort to labels from early last century to assess social phenomena that have little to no resemblance to those of the past. ITS aren’t a bunch of ex-anarchists tending toward fascism, but rather ex-radicals tending toward anti-social criminality. Maybe one could make the argument Karl Marx makes in The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Napoleon concerning the lumpenproletariat being a fertile breeding ground for reaction, but why then single out the eco-extremists who make up a minuscule blip when compared to the vast numbers of slum dwellers in Latin America who are low-hanging fruit in terms of recruitment into criminal gangs? Will the pirates begin policing them as well?
Perhaps ITS is cannon fodder for the reaction, a front for reactionary / police forces in the countries in which they operate. But if this small, individualistic terrorist project in the periphery of capitalist civilization is somehow part of the vanguard of the neo-Fascist wave, I would say that fascism could certainly do a lot better. Not that individualist eco-extremists are incompetent: they have evaded capture so far to the point that perhaps some government actors still think they don’t exist, or are not a priority (which is not the case for the high priests of the CCF, et al. who think ITS is some sort of cancerous menace) Rather, in terms of societal change, they have made no impact outside of their own pleasure at attacking people. Very little “strategy” is involved, at least from the point of view of accomplishing some transcendent interpersonal goal. A group of dangerous and somewhat competent individuals a neo-fascist menace does not make.
But if we are going to armchair psychoanalyze eco-extremists from behind computer screens, as the pirates and others have done, it is appropriate that we return the favor, especially since OIAWR is so explicit concerning the beautiful vision of hope that it advocates. Namely, its view of anti-civ primitivism is that of a deeper critique of this society whereas previous versions of green anarchism “failed a lot of people”. In attacking hierarchy in the name of equality, this critique must pick up allies in the feminist and anti-colonial struggle, engaging with such new trends as Afro-pessimism that seek to uncover the chains that previous green anarchism has left on oppressed peoples in their quest for total liberation. Within this process, eco-extremism and LBC’s nihilism are temptations in the desert, the sin of despair against the Egalitarian Holy Ghost. And as we know from catechism class, the sins against the Holy Ghost cannot be forgiven in this life or in the next.
The urgency that the pirates believe is needed for their agenda is clear in their disappointment that others don’t see things as they do:
At a time when hard-hitting and practical analyses of both civilization and fascism could serve as direly-needed interventions in post-election discourse and on-the-ground struggles marked by the talking points of corporate media, alt-right, white nationalists, tankies, social ecologists, and syndicalists, they think a crucial use of their access to resources is to clearcut another field in order to publish their 35th title on egoism.
As the world burns to cinder and bleeds out from the wounds inflicted by civilization, and as white nationalists enjoy a resurgence on the way down, consolidating power, influence, and initiative, the nihilists believe that one of the most pressing issues of our time is the precise contour of the religiosity of conventional primitivist thought. This religiosity is evidenced primarily by a belief that a qualitatively better life could be had by humans which would necessarily accord with some aspects of our deep past, but most importantly it is revealed by a refusal to endorse the femicidal rape theology of ITS and Atassa.
If those who deviate fail to fall into line concerning “what is to be done?”, shame them and name call, just as Stalinists called those outside of their sphere “social fascists” in the “original antifa”. The time to strike is now! Or so the pirates declare. The wind is at our back and the masses are open to the anti-civ Gospel:
We, too, remember the words of Tecumseh and the burning of forts. We remember the visions and sacrifices of the members of the MOVE organization who took aim at their enemies manifested as Science, Medicine, and Technology, who fought for a wild and untrammeled existence right in the heart of the un-living beast, advocating for a life based on hunting and gathering. We recall the positive reviews of anti-civilization literature written by Mumia Abu-Jamal, Howard Zinn, and others who set us on our path of resistance. We share the love and the rage of those for whom white power and fascism are faces of the absolute enemy.
So it’s all one love, one cause, one struggle… except for the Fight for 15 or Medicare for all or free college education, or every other leftist cause that the pirates, with their penchant for anthropological texts and anti-tech rhetoric, simply cannot endorse. But they have gotten “positive reviews”. The Great Primitivist Awakening is probably just around the corner.
And of course, there is the question of racism:
Anarchists are not the first nor the most intimately knowledgeable of the problem to identify white supremacy as the key to power on this continent. If any of our enemies can be defeated, it will not be without defeating this enemy as well. As the lynchpin to the rotten schema of civil society, there is a corresponding panoply of social institutions and cultural scripts at work day and night to make matters of race and whiteness invisible and uninteresting, obscure and menacing. As the elephant who has lived in the room with us since birth, it is the issue nobody wants to talk about.
Whether intentionally or not, there is a certain antiseptic critique of identity politics to be found in the post-left and nihilism that is consonant with this imperative, consigning matters of race, white supremacy, and fascism to secondary importance at best, perhaps affording them the stock response of silently collapsing them into a general critique of hierarchy.
As non-white people, perhaps people who have been “victims” of racism in the U.S. context, our lack of faith in anti-racist politics is not due to failing to acknowledge racism as a problem in our lives. It is, rather, an acknowledgement of the complete failure of anti-racist politics to be anything other than reformism in favor of a small sector of already middle class individuals within an “oppressed community,” as well as a tool for smooth talkers who can work their way into the academic or government bureaucracy. At least this is what we have seen with our own eyes, in Ethnic Studies Departments and other places where this dreck is peddled. The endgame of the anti-racist critique is the neoliberal Barack Obama, the endgame of anti-sexist politics is the greedy imperialist harpy Hillary Clinton. There is no way to separate the meat from the fat on that decaying, maggot-strewn carcass of New Left politics. So we have walked away from it.
Subverting the culture of civilization doesn’t mean never trying unprecedented things. If certain social innovations can be seen as species-wide or species-effective experiments (like, say, those that involve pronoun usage, gender presentation, or other retooling of the conventions of language and custom), there is no more reason to oppose them than there is to curse the first tree dwelling shrew’s descent to the forest floor, or the first following of the game into unknown territory.
With this passage, it is appropriate to discuss why anti-civ and nihilist readers might still distrust the pirates at the end of the text. It is precisely due to where this confluence of antifa and anti-civ politics leads: the conviction that the fascist menace appeared ex nihilo on November 9th, 2016, when half the country determined that a white nationalist coup was just around the corner, and every single “decent’ person in this country entertained the possibility that a riot might be in order.
Except some of us have seen this film before know and how it ends. We remember that the largest marches in history failed to prevent the invasion and sacking of Iraq, which brought about such horrible fascist things as the Islamic State. We remember the “General Strike” of May 2006 when many Latino and other immigrants marched in the streets for their right to remain in the United States, only to be given the same President Obama who deported more people than his predecessor in the office. We remember all sort of “promising” social movements that arose when the Democratic Party was not in power, the universal disdain for the “Idiot” missing from a village in Texas, etc. etc. We remember liberals turning into radicals overnight, only to turn back into liberals once they performed the mandatory kabuki theater motions of the “Lesser of Two Evils,” again leaving radicals holding the bag of fanaticism and irrelevance.
That is not to say that things are not as bad as the pirates say they are. Really, the glaring omission from their essay is their failure to engage anything that a particular author actually wrote, even though they send much “exquisite venom” his way elsewhere. For example, in their invective against Black Seed, they fail to mention that another “rape apologist” wrote an essay for that publication. Perhaps this was an oversight; perhaps they were not impressed with the essay. But at this juncture, a passage from that essay, “The Catalog of Horrors,” can shed some light on the pirates’ possible motives:
The categorical imperative is simple in this case: give people the information, all the information, and they will act on it. This is what birthed the Green Movement, anarchist or not. Show the people how much the environment is hurting, how much civilization hurts people, how awful civilized life is, and they will wake up and oppose it. Ideologues cite trends such as increased recycling, emissions regulations, electric cars, and the like, as examples that this approach works. Just a few more campaigns to enlighten and inform, and maybe, just maybe, we’ll save the Earth and destroy civilization. Just one more issue of the Catalog of Horrors will finally get people to rise up, never mind that this tactic seems to date to the dawn of civilization itself.
I don’t completely blame the average person for going about their day while the world falls deeper and deeper into environmental crisis. But I don’t let them off the hook either. The leftist wants to have things both ways: he or she wants to place all power in “the People,” yet blame all ills on a tiny minority that the People could easily defeat. Which one is it then? Could it be that people aren’t the knowledge machines that modern activism expects them to be, that they just want to get through the day and not be bothered with questions above their pay grade? Could it be that not everyone can be bitten with the bug of concern for the Future, that such a preoccupation is by no means universal? Could it be that even those who are driven to make a better Future for their children have only a dim and partial conception of what that could possibly look like?Conclusion
Here then we can make our definitive judgment on OIAWR: it is an intellectually lazy interpretation of eco-extremism veiled in grad student verbosity. With the quote that ended the last section, their motivation appears to be to “sheep dog” wayward anarchists and nihilists back into the fold, or rather, back into the vicious cycle of the leftwing of Capital. “YOU MUST CARE! YOU MUST BE MORAL! YOU MUST WORSHIP THE VICTIM!” The “rape” and “misogyny” emphases aim to appeal to the common human desire to save the “damsel in distress”. It’s the pitch of the snake oil salesman or weight loss guru of the magical result despite all odds: “Yes, things look bad, but there’s still hope. DON’T YOU WANT A BETTER WORLD?!!!!” It’s “green anarchism 2.0: This time, it’s different.” We are reminded of the vicious cycle of the racket that Jacques Camatte once described in his essay, “On Organization”:
In its external relations, the political gang tends to mask the existence of the clique, since it must seduce in order to recruit. It adorns itself in a veil of modesty so as to increase its power. When the gang appeals to external elements through journals, reviews, and leaflets, it thinks that it has to speak on the level of the mass in order to be understood. It talks about the immediate because it wants to mediate. Considering everyone outside the gang an imbecile, it feels obliged to publish banalities and bullshit so as to successfully seduce them. In the end, it seduces itself by its own bullshit and it is thereby absorbed by the surrounding milieu. However, another gang will take its place, and its first theoretical wailings will consist of attributing every misdeed and mistake to those who have preceded it, looking in this way for a new language so as to begin again the grand practice of seduction; in order to seduce, it has to appear to be different from the others…. The inability to confront theoretical questions independently leads the individual to take refuge behind the authority of another member, who becomes, objectively, a leader, or behind the group entity, which becomes a gang. In his relations with people outside the group the individual uses his membership to exclude others and to differentiate himself from them, if only – in the final analysis – so as to guard himself against recognition of his own theoretical weaknesses. To belong in order to exclude, that is the internal dynamic of the gang; which is founded on an opposition, admitted or not, between the exterior and the interior of the group. Even an informal group deteriorates into a political racket, the classic case of theory becoming ideology.
The edelweiss pirate, the primitivist, the “nihilist” poser, etc. cannot live without their safety blanket of Enlightenment humanist values, and even though they espouse principles that undermine those values, they have recourse to claiming to possess a “grown-up” critique as opposed to the new kids in town who are just out to be edgy. The thoughtful reader may still be taken aback by the moralizing fatwas of insurrectionary anarchists who are themselves demonized as “terrorists” by government agencies and most normal people. “Aren’t you guys supposed to question everything?” These neo-Christian humanists masquerading as “anarchists” have to jam the square peg of eco-extremism into the round hole of an illusory rising fascism, but no one really buys it. “Why not just call them crazy psychopathic misanthropes?” Indeed, that is what we are, but it just doesn’t have the same ring to it as “misogynist rape apologists.”
Besides, letting misanthropy come to the forefront, even in its most illegalist and anti-social form, might reveal the self-hatred at the core of each hyper-civilized person in terms of their own meaningless life. It is best to not lead them down that rabbit hole, they just might surprise us. It would then be harder to recruit them into a racket or commune or whatever mysterious scheme anarchists happen to be running this week.
If the pirates had read the titular essay of Atassa no. 1 with better intentions, they may have noticed the very first paragraph:
It has been over 150 years since Karl Marx in The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Napoleon reflected on how events occur in history, as it were, twice: the first time as tragedy, the second as farce. Yet it is arguable that to differentiate between the two (tragedy and farce), one has to assume that history tends toward a particular direction. An event that is similar to a past event, so the logic goes, somehow failed to learn “the lessons” of its unpleasant predecessor. This idea makes assumptions concerning humans in a particular context acting in groups: that they have agency, that they have complete transparency in realizing what they are doing, that certain lessons can be learned after the fact, etc. If, on the other hand, we appreciate the blindness and resolve needed for heroism in an endeavor, any act can appear to be foolishness to the observer looking on in hindsight. All that the actors see in the middle of things is necessity. Our struggle may not be one of “learning the lessons” and breaking the cycle of tragedy and farce. It may simply be an issue of returning to the “heroism” of tragedy. That is to say, perhaps we must return to the tragic as an escape from progress: to realize that things must be thus, and it is our own reaction that is most important when faced with an inevitable outcome. It’s an issue of whether we fight or lay down our arms because we are blind to an elusive “future.”
The pirates cannot admit the tragedy at the heart of human endeavors, especially collective ones. If they did, the gig would be up, the Emperor would have not clothes, they would have no carrot to use on the hyper-civilized along with their stick of inter-group stigma. Hopelessness is reactionary, hope is revolutionary, and the condemnations will continue until morale improves.
Eco-extremists are not the friends of humanity. We don’t want to save you, and we don’t really care if you live or die (honestly we would prefer that you weren’t here.) All the same, we’re doing you the solid favor of pointing out the humanist trap that the edelweiss pirates are placing for you to get you back into the cage of hyper-civilized political logic. Eco-extremists would do what they do in a fascist society, a bourgeois democratic society, a communist society, an anarchist society, and so on and so forth. We don’t care about your political calculations or prejudices, the “social significance” of this murder or that bomb doesn’t matter to us. The point is that those who carried out these things enjoyed themselves, and the only social significance is in transgressing those humanist Christian values that would condemn those who assert “MY will be done.” You can consider that fascist, egoist, civilized, it doesn’t matter to us. Your elections don’t matter, your victims don’t matter, and your social justice doesn’t matter. We have no faith that you could destroy civilization, or even pose a threat to it. We have no faith in your collective solutions, or visions of a brighter future. If you built your impossible “other world,” we would want to burn it down as well.
It’s okay to have lost, to be a loser even. We weren’t given very much to work with in the first place, and deceiving ourselves otherwise does no one any favors. The issue now is: do you want to go out in a dignified manner, do you want to make it interesting at least, or are you going to stick to the script that made us lose in the first place? There is no use complaining, and you can’t withdraw from the game now. Your move.
-Los hijos del Mencho (Fracción anti-pirata)
 All references from OIAWR are taken from the version on Anarchist Library: https://theanarchistlibrary.org/library/edelweiss-pirates-of-indiscrimin...
 “Eco-extremism and the woman part 1” Found here: http://maldicionecoextremista.altervista.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/...
 For example, Jeremias Torres’ “Notes on extinctionist violence”, found here, in Spanish: http://maldicionecoextremista.altervista.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/...
 “Apostles and Heretics”
 For more on this position, cf. “On Wildism and Eco-extremism”, found at this link: https://ia801902.us.archive.org/20/items/AtltlachinolliEcoExtremistDialo...
 For a discussion of this topic, see Bill Finlayson’s work: https://www.academia.edu/2024993/The_Complex_Hunter-gatherer_and_the_Tra...
 Except for the rape-y parts that probably didn’t even happen - our note.AnthropologyArmed StruggleatassaEco-extremismgreenITSmoralitynihilismprimitivismcategory: Essays
This weeks crossword puzzle is on the SF Bay Area.
Download it here: https://anarchistnews.org/crossword/crossword34.pdf
From LBC about the book:
For those anarchistnews fans who miss Worker's acerbic and insightful bon mots on modern-day anarchy and anarchists, here is a fix (however temporary) for you.
Fifty crossword puzzles of occasionally ludicrous difficulty (there are scattered puff questions throughout also, for those of you, like me, who are terrible at these kind of games) are featured for your education and amusement.
Anarchistnews.org is the most popular, utilized, and non-sectarian news source pertaining to anarchists in North America. Its open commenting system continues to be one of the few spaces in which anarchists, nationally and internationally, converse about topics of the day, challenge each other, and critically engage with a wide variety of issues and events.
Worker retired from running the site after eleven years... Since then they have reflected on their time in the daily trenches of running the site, and this book is the result. These crossword puzzles speak to the years of comment threads, the ridiculousness and wonderfulness of the anarchist space in North America, and finally the absurdity of working with cantankerous, stubborn, and self-righteous people by way of essay or manifesto.
These puzzles should probably be done by a reading group or a group of friends. They are supposed to make you think, laugh, and perhaps smack your head. A more perfect metaphor for North American anarchism cannot be found.
[ Here are the solutions! Don’t peek!: http://ardentpress.com/crosswords/ ]Tags: beautiful crossmess parzelthis sitepdfDownloadthe baycaliforniacategory: Projects
Government Contractor Monitoring Enbridge’s Atlantic Bridge Gas Project Works Extensively for the Company
A contractor working for the federal government to monitor construction of Enbridge’s Atlantic Bridge natural gas project works for the company in various other capacities, according to documents DeSmog obtained through an open records request.
Early last year, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) approved the project, which aims to upgrade Enbridge’s natural gas capacity in the Northeast U.S. The Atlantic Bridge project was originally initiated by Spectra Energy, which was purchased by Enbridge last February.Tags: Enbridgespectra energyfederal energy regulatory commission (FERC)Natural Resource Group (NRG)Atlantic Bridgenatural gas pipelinesEnvironmental Resource Management (ERM)
Man arrested for threatening to shoot up Steelers game - report | 14 Jan 2018 | A Texas man has been arrested by the feds after allegedly threatening to shoot up Sunday's Pittsburgh Steelers-Jacksonville Jaguars game. "The Steelers game will be packed and that's when I plan on killing Steelers football players and fans before taking my own pitiful life," Yuttana Choochongkol, 30, allegedly told a Pittsburgh TV station, according to an affidavit obtained by KSAT-TV in San Antonio.
Newark Airport issues infectious disease alert | 13 Jan 2018 | Just as the weekend kicked off, the New Jersey Department of Health Health officials warned passengers who have been through Newark Airport that they may have been exposed to a highly-contagious disease. "On January 2, 2018, an international traveler with a confirmed case of measles--a highly contagious disease [typically spread via those who've been vaccinated 'against' measles] --arrived in Terminal C at Newark Liberty International Airport and departed for Indianapolis from a domestic terminal," a statement Issued by the Department of Health of New Jersey reads. The woman was identified as an Indiana University (IU) student. A report from ABC News' New York affiliate warned that the infected woman may have gone to other areas of the airport.
Hawaii Says No Missile Threat After Emergency Alert Mistakenly Sent --The emergency alert was sent at 8:07 a.m., and a follow-up alert to state that it was a false alarm wasn't sent until 8:46 a.m. | 13 Jan 2018 | After an emergency alert of a ballistic missile threat left people "crying and screaming" in Hawaii on Saturday, emergency officials confirmed that the message was sent in error and that no missile was headed for the island state. However, the mistake drew outrage from local leaders and has prompted a federal investigation. The alert, which was sent to people's cell phones at 8:07 a.m., said in all caps, "Ballistic missile threat inbound to Hawaii. Seek immediate shelter. This is not a drill." An alert also appeared on TVs. About 13 minutes after the alert was sent, Hawaii Emergency Management Agency tweeted: "NO missile threat to Hawaii."
A member of the audience holds up a placard as US Sen. Bernie Sanders, Independent from Vermont, discusses Medicare for All legislation on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, on September 13, 2017. (Photo: Jim Watson / AFP / Getty Images)
Described as a horrifying depiction of "the reality of US for-profit healthcare," a Baltimore-based psychotherapist this week caught on video University of Maryland Medical Center staff "dumping" a clearly incapacitated young woman into the freezing Maryland weather wearing only a thin hospital gown and socks.
"Is this what healthcare in Baltimore City has come to?" asked Imamu Baraka, who captured the "disturbing" scene on his cell phone. The video has since garnered more than two million views.
Baraka's video soon sparked national headlines and widespread outrage, with many noting that "patient dumping" is a pervasive and under-discussed product of a system that does not guarantee healthcare as a right to all.
RoseAnn DeMoro, executive director of National Nurses United, concluded that the only solution is to "implement single-payer, Medicare for All or Americans continue to suffer/die."
Others echoed DeMoro's call, arguing that the medical center's behavior is essentially "attempted murder."
Single. Payer. Now.https://t.co/jvXsvfMJ4P— jordan (@JordanUhl) January 11, 2018
The hospital issued an apology following the flood of outrage, taking "full responsibility for this failure" to provide "basic humanity and compassion."
"We are taking this matter very seriously, conducting a thorough review, and are evaluating the appropriate response, including the possibility of personnel action," hospital spokeswoman Lisa Clough said in a statement.With your support, Truthout can continue exposing inequality, analyzing policy and reporting on the struggle for a better world. Click here to make a tax-deductible donation.
Russia claims the US is messing with its elections | 13 Jan 2018 | Turnabout is fair play when it comes to accusations of election meddling. A Russian official on Saturday denounced US plans to punish Russia for alleged interference in the 2016 election -- by saying the sanctions are an attempt to interfere with Russia's presidential vote in March. "We see this as yet another attempt to influence our internal situation, especially ahead of the presidential election," Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said.
CLG Founder and NYU Professor Michael Rectenwald Sues NYU and NYU Colleagues for Irreparable Damage from Defamation
Breaking: CLG Founder and NYU Professor Michael Rectenwald Sues NYU and NYU Colleagues for Irreparable Damage from Defamation --'Deplorable' NYU professor sues colleagues for defamation | 13 Jan 2018 | The "politically incorrect" NYU professor accused of "incivility" by liberal colleagues and put on leave is now suing the college and four fellow profs for [insanely] calling him everything from a drug addict to Satan. The "malicious" statements appeared in an e-mail thread that blasted out over five days in May from school accounts to more than 100 university staffers, claims a defamation lawsuit filed Friday by professor Michael Rectenwald. He blames NYU for doing nothing to stop the "nasty screed," according to papers filed in Manhattan Supreme Court. [In a statement given exclusively to CLG News, Rectenwald said, "My 'colleagues' have utterly contaminated the entire faculty and curtailed my career by at least ten years. I had no choice but to sue them for their outrageous lies and imputations, and NYU for essentially condoning their outrageously defamatory remarks."]
From Commune Life Blog
by GPaul Blundell, from Communities magazine, Winter issue #177
There’s an abundance to the city, an almost overwhelming abundance. Today this abundance showed up as 20 rolls of sushi. A couple weeks ago it showed up as about 30 lbs. of filet mignon. Before that it was a gross of eggs (a dozen dozen) and a crate of organic grass-fed heavy cream and a case of fair trade black Himalayan chia seeds. All free. All pulled out of a dumpster in the middle of the night and brought back to the main house of Compersia, the commune I call home in Washington, DC.
As anyone who has moved to the country to pursue the simple life will tell you: the simple life is not so simple. The dream of rural abundance, of growing all your own food and fashioning all your own tools, is more often a reality of long hard work and making do with less. Unless you’re independently wealthy, there are not many places you can live where everything you might want comes easily and abundantly.
Fundamentally there is one difference that separates rural areas from urban ones: population density. Many communes and intentional communities settle in the country. Insofar as they desire to build a new world divorced from mainstream society this makes sense. With fewer people occupying the land there’s more room to build and more room between you and your opinionated neighbors. Over the decade that I lived at rural Acorn Community, in central Virginia, this is certainly the reality that I experienced. The abundance of space, both physical and cultural, provided a lot of room to grow a little utopia and keep it insulated from the corrosive effects the mainstream would have on it. However, there are abundances in many places if you can appreciate and cultivate them.
When I first moved to Acorn in 2005 I came looking for proof that a better world was possible. My political blossoming in college, during the peak of the anti-corporate globalization movement and the run-up to the Iraq War, saw me immersing myself in the history and theory of anarchism. But in conversation after conversation my passionate insistence that we could, as a society, thrive without constantly brutalizing and dominating each other was met with skeptical requests to cough up the proof that my nice ideas could stand up to harsh reality. When I discovered Twin Oaks and then Acorn, all quite by accident, I knew immediately what I had stumbled upon and that the egalitarian communes movement was my life’s work.
And the communes did not disappoint. Acorn Community, an egalitarian income-sharing commune, member of the Federation of Egalitarian Communities, and daughter of older larger commune Twin Oaks Community, was founded in 1993 and at the time of my joining listed “anarchist” as one of its self-applied labels. Acorn operates by consensus, runs a fairly complex and highly seasonal mail order garden seed business, and does it all with a minimum of formal structure. While there we saw the business quadruple in size (rising to over $1 million in revenue by the time I left), helped two other nearby communes to form, built a giant eco-groovy new headquarters for the business, and weathered an arson and a whole string of health, mental health, and interpersonal crises by various members. My time at Acorn and getting to know the other rural social laboratories of the FEC taught me or confirmed several important things:
● Prosperity and organization are possible without hierarchical domination of each other. People are, as it turns out, really good at managing complexity.
● Complex organizations can be run democratically with relatively small overhead. This is related to the above point but the distinction I’m making is that a business or organization can be both directed and managed in a non-hierarchical, democratic, and cooperative way.
● Motivation is available without individual or private reward, like wages. Human motivation is more complex. I found that people could be motivated to apply themselves to valuable labor by the prospect of collective enrichment as well as less tangible things like their values, personal curiosity, or simply love of a good challenge.
● Intense cooperation/communalization/socialization significantly boosts quality of life relative to cost of living. In short, a middle-class quality of life is achievable at sub-poverty levels of income. And it comes with a lighter and less rigid labor burden than is required by almost all full-time jobs! A corollary of this is that intense communalization brings ecological impact down to ballpark global sustainable levels with relative ease.
● The socialized economy of the communes provides a supportive healing space for people dealing with various forms of mental illness (from simple things like anxiety to more complex things like psychotic breaks) as well as being flexible enough to make mental differences that were a problem in the mainstream not a problem in the commune.
What I noticed about all these is that none of them seemed to be a result of the communes’ rural locations. In fact, for all the advantages of living in the country there were several glaring problems. The work that could be done in the country was generally pretty low wage. Low population density means commune life could feel isolating, particularly for minorities of any sort. Undeveloped land means that population growth is limited by the speed at which new residences can be built. Their remoteness made visiting them difficult for interested people. Perhaps most striking of all, though, is simply that there are a lot of people who want to live communally but do not want to live in the country.
Our society is run by the few at the expense of the many. It is consuming and degrading the environment we depend on. Inequalities of wealth and power are accelerating. The world is on fire. I thought I had found some ways to help put it out but now those tools needed to spread.
In the summer of 2014 I had the good fortune to be able to take a trip to Europe both for pleasure and discovery1. In Madrid, I visited the comrades of the Red de Colectivos Autogestionados2 (RCA). Most of the members of the RCA were also members of the CNT, Spain’s famous anarcho-syndicalist trade union which is remembered as the most successful anarchist organization in history, having fought off Franco’s fascist coup for several years and controlled large areas of Spain at their peak. After Franco died and his fascist regime was dismantled, membership in the formerly illegal CNT exploded. However, despite sky-high membership the CNT did not display the strength or resiliency that it had historically and had been fading ever since. The RCA arose out of a very material analysis of this situation. Spain has a long deep history of cooperatives, long predating the Rochdale Society in England and with a stunningly high and widespread membership. It was this community of cooperatives that provided the material base and support for the combative and often embattled CNT during the decades leading up to the fascist coup. By the time Franco died (peacefully in his bed) he had largely succeeded in co-opting the cooperative movement and cleansing it of its leftist politics. Looking at this history the comrades who started the RCA concluded that for the CNT to regain its power they needed to rebuild the network of radical cooperatives that had fed and supported it.
There’s an example of this closer to home and closer to now in the Movement for a New Society (MNS). A Quaker peace movement-derived organization that started in 1971 and lasted until 1988, MNS saw the world as being on the verge of a revolution and made it their mission to research, educate, train, and prepare the new society that could arise after the old one tumbled. To support their work and their activists they established a nationwide network of cooperatives and urban communal houses, often sharing income. In interviews I conducted with several veterans of MNS the value of the communes and cooperatives in supporting the work was reiterated again and again. This support came not only in the form of material support (to avoid bankruptcy) but also in social and emotional support (to avoid burnout) and as laboratories and testbeds for the ideas that MNS’ activists were developing.
So here we were. The world clearly needed changing. We had some proven strategies for building effective movements. The rural egalitarian communes had done good work but had also clearly shown their limitations. The need to develop a network of urban egalitarian communes to support radical social change work was clear. In the Fall of 2013 several fellow communards and co-conspirators and I decided to try to do just that by launching a project called Point A.
Of course, we are not the first ones to try such a thing or things like it. Specifically on the urban egalitarian communes question, since I first joined Acorn there’s been one or two urban communes in the FEC. When I first joined there was Emma Goldman Finishing School in Seattle, Washington, and a few years later they were joined by The Midden in Columbus, Ohio. Both shared the same general model and in the last two years both have devolved into simple group houses or co-ops and left the FEC. This is a sobering recent history but there are counterexamples if we widen our gaze a bit. Ganas, an intentional community with a smaller income- and asset-sharing commune at its core, has been thriving in New York City for 35 years. Over in Germany there are a bevy of income- and income- and asset-sharing communes located in major cities, some of which have been going for over 30 years3. In Spain (mostly) there’s Las Indias, a nomadic but very stable income-sharing commune that’s been going for 14 years. In Israel, a new generation of urban kibbutzim has arisen. In light of this, it’s easier to consider the dissolution of Emma Goldman Finishing School and The Midden as something peculiar to that model or an accident of circumstance.
Point A took on the mission of working to cultivate ambitious and engaged egalitarian income-sharing communes in the urban centers of the American East Coast. Ambitious and engaged—to connect them to the wider work for social justice and liberation. American East Coast—because that’s where the FEC has the most resources, and the FEC is a natural ally for this work. When we started working we went in every direction we could find at once: Researching examples of successful urban communes. Finding and forging contacts with collectives, cooperatives, and organizations that might make good allies. Conducting research into legal and tax options for urban communes. Conducting research into financing options for urban communes. Organizing public talks, workshops, and events. Building out a website and blog to point people to.
We started the work in one city: Washington, DC. This is the city in whose suburbs I grew up and where I had the densest network. It’s where I wanted to get a commune started. And it’s where I have stayed and worked, but the project didn’t stay there. Soon after starting in DC we were enticed to NYC by some exciting prospects, and other Point A organizers started working there. Then we got involved with some collectives in Baltimore that we thought might be interested in converting. Then we were contacted by a new, and sadly short-lived, commune in Richmond, Virginia. Then a collective house in Binghamton, New York. Various Point A organizers have tried various tactics in each of these cities.
In DC, meanwhile, the project, as I was organizing it, maintained a laser-like focus on getting a single commune started. The general strategy was to start by recruiting potentially interested people from our existing network. These people would start the conversation that is the first phase of any cooperative project. One caution we had heard again and again was that the people to start the conversation would likely not be the people to start the commune. Keeping this in mind, we thought of each phase as a sinking island, a platform we could find temporary purchase on but that, if we wanted to continue, we would need to be planning to move on from. That first meeting had about 20 people. Of those, 12 ended up coming to our monthly meetings. After a little less than a year, a group of eight likely founders had identified themselves. Together those founders, of whom I was one, finished hammering out what we hoped was the bare minimum of policy and structure that we needed to start and put each other through our newly designed membership process. Of those potential founders, five made the jump and actually started the commune: Compersia, the first egalitarian income-sharing commune in DC (in a while, at least).
After that I stepped back from Point A work. My fellow Compersians and I had a lot of work cut out for us continuing to build out the agreements and policies we didn’t have, figuring out how to live together, and figuring out how to run this urban commune we had created. Now, a year and a half in, we’re still around. We’re even growing! With any luck we’ll need a second house before long to fit all our members.
To learn more about Compersia visit compersia.community or better yet email contact [AT] compersia.community. To hook up with the Point A crew check out frompointa.org or send an email to info [AT] frompointa.org.
GPaul Blundell is a member of Compersia Community in DC and an enthusiast about egalitarian community. He enjoys long easy bike rides, nerdy board games, and building the new world in the shell of the old.
1 I visited a number of urban and suburban egalitarian communes in Europe and the results of my interviews, observations, and analyses eventually made it into a one-off podcast called “Income Sharing Across the Pond” available free on Soundcloud.
2 English translation: The Network of Self-Managed Collectives.
3 I personally visited Kommune Niederkaufungen in Kaufungen outside of Kassel and Villa Locomuna located in Kassel.Tags: intentional communitiescommuneurban lifecategory: Projects
From The New York Times
Lauren Field for The New York Times
OLYMPIC PENINSULA, Wash. — Somewhere on the Olympic Peninsula, which extends from the northwest coast of Washington, a community has chosen to live independent of the public supply of water, electricity and other utilities on which most residents rely. Linked by a diffuse network of shared friends and land, they would be impossible to locate without insider knowledge. Dense forest obfuscates their dwellings — tiny houses, trailers, a landlocked houseboat — often accessible only by dirt roads or footpaths.
Water and mist frame the peninsula, with the Pacific Ocean to the west, the Strait of Juan de Fuca to the north and the Hood Canal to the east. The community here emphasizes the importance of this landscape to their livelihood. Not only do some draw their water for dishes and bathing from the creek down the hill, but many are also financially sustained by the land, working as farmers, fishermen and gardeners.
Somewhere on the Olympic Peninsula.CreditLauren Field for The New York Times
Though the members of this community all know each other, they reside in scattered locations — some shared, some individual. Several of the residents have an interest in anarchy and far-left politics, but there are no explicit ideologies that govern the inhabitants. Instead, they abide by unwritten guidelines of shared emotional and physical space.
These extend to, as Chris Gang, 30, tells it, “the idea that you can pee anywhere at any time. What comes along with that is a process of feeling less internal shame around what’s going on with your body, that there are parts of your body that are supposed to be private.” The compost toilet, in full view of the main cottage, illustrates his point (though there is a door installed for those who prefer privacy).
Mr. Gang, who has dramatic brows offset by bleached hair, believes that a resistance to bodily shame resonates with a longer history of queer intentional communities. “Queers have been creating chosen families forever, to the extent that we’ve been out of societal structures forever,” he said.
Chris Gang, 30, showers outside.CreditLauren Field for The New York Times
Sacha Kozlow and his home.CreditLauren Field for The New York Times
Mr. Kozlow’s kitchen.CreditLauren Field for The New York Times
Maxfield Koontz, 28, a genderqueer farmer and basketry artist, also points to this history, deflecting the misunderstanding that “rural” and “queer” are incompatible identities. Soft-spoken and elegant, Koontz brought up the Radical Faeries movement. A countercultural organization founded in the late 1970s by Harry Hay, Radical Faeries advocated the formation of rural back-to-the-land queer sanctuaries, many of which still exist.
These themes echo Lauren Field’s photographic body of work, which explores sites of queerness and the sublime, as in images of trans friends perched, contrapposto and Venus-like, along the California coast.
Koontz’s sweetheart, Ezra Goetzen, 35, lives across the woods in a tiny house, poised on the slope of a lush gully. A transgender/genderqueer psychotherapist who splits time between this tiny cabin and a family home in Seattle, Dr. Goetzen was born in Poland and has the careful articulation of someone who learned English as a second language, punctuated by theatrical flourishes. Dr. Goetzen said that what keeps people from pursuing an off-the-grid lifestyle is “this really puritanical, overly hygienic life.” People think, Dr. Goetzen said, that they will “get sick from looking at a compost bucket.”
Maxfield Koontz, left, and Ezra Goetzen.CreditLauren Field for The New York Times
Emmy Madav, 31, weaving in front of her cabin.CreditLauren Field for The New York Times
Ms. Sharp, 30, on her sailboat.CreditLauren Field for The New York Times
For many, the decision to leave the grid is born out of economic necessity; urban areas become uninhabitable, as both the resources and the number of people who can afford to have access to them dwindle.
The influx of wealthy outsiders from Seattle and elsewhere has created a housing crisis for residents of the Peninsula, who often cannot afford to purchase the land that has sustained them. This inequity affects those who live on the grid as well, including Lex Helbling, 29, a farmer who was forced out of a deal to purchase her rented farm from her landlord.
“Money is so powerful,” Ms. Helbling said. “Money, power and class drove the landlord’s decision. They wanted to think about farming as the picture they saw on the milk carton — beautiful, green grass, sunny all the time.”
Water and mist frame the Olympic Peninsula.CreditLauren Field for The New York Times
Over the duration of Field’s project, the fallibility of the description “off the grid” became apparent. Beyond the fact that some of those pictured here do have limited access to various water and power supplies, the phrase suggests a total exit from society and a life of isolation.
Emmy Madav, 31, instead emphasized the intense, even abrasive forms of intimacy that living in this way instigates: “It’s funny, because most people think of rural living as really isolated, and I feel often overwhelmed and overstimulated [by] the amount of people in that little house.”
Lex Helbling cleaning out her farm.CreditLauren Field for The New York Times
Linens hang to dry.CreditLauren Field for The New York Times
Because there is no plumbing, community members use compost toilets.CreditLauren Field for The New York Times
Others noted the systems of privilege that allow them to live in this way. Dr. Goetzen acknowledged the erasure of indigenous genocide inherent in some modern homesteading movements: “It’s important to note what the native tribes were doing here before, that they’re still here, that this kind of semi-utopia we’re building is on settled, colonized land.”
Eight federally recognized tribes reside on the peninsula, physically relegated to narrow strips of reservations, mostly along the peninsula’s west side. The residue of colonial violence marks the map: Western explorers renamed various landmarks with Anglicized, altered versions of their traditional indigenous names.
Billie Delaney, 30.CreditLauren Field for The New York Times
Community members draw water for dishes and bathing.CreditLauren Field for The New York Times
“It’s not that I think if everyone were to live off the grid and use less light bulbs, then that would save the planet,” Chris Gang said. “But it’s a helpful way of keeping in touch with the world around us.” CreditLauren Field for The New York Times
Sacha Kozlow, 35, is a blacksmith living in a tiny cabin he built, insulated with animal hides. Chewing on a eucalyptus toothpick, his dog draped around his shoulders like a shawl, Mr. Kozlow recounted his upbringing in a cult in rural Montana.
During his youth, he said, cult leaders preached the myth of Atlantis, submerged into the ocean when its people courted homosexuality. Mr. Kozlow’s early years, as a young transgender boy not yet out, evince the cruelty of allegory, the threat at the heart of any “semi-utopia.”
“Utopia” comes from the Greek “ou-topos,” or “no-place.” It promises a paradise lost, defined by nonexistence. Many of the people Field photographed emphasized the temporary nature of living in this way, the gift of transience hemmed by the threat of eviction. Mobility, which is something like freedom, allows the construction of ephemeral utopias, no-places, gone by morning.
Ezra Goetzen and Maxfield Koontz at home.CreditLauren Field for The New York TimesTags: off the gridintentional communitiesWashingtoncategory: Projects
Newtown Asks Judge to Dismiss Sandy Hook Negligence Suit | 10 Jan 2018 | A superior court judge in Connecticut is deciding whether to toss out a lawsuit filed by parents of two children killed in the 2012 Newtown school shooting. The suit says Newtown and its school district were negligent in its response to the [alleged] shooting. The plaintiffs are the parents of Jesse Lewis and Noah Pozner, two first-graders killed in the shooting. Their lawsuit alleges the school failed to order a lockdown, which might have saved lives.
Madeleine McCann investigator Kevin Halligen found dead --"The death is being treated as unexplained and a file will be passed to the coroner's office in due course." | 13 Jan 2018 | Police are investigating the death of one of the first private detectives hired by the parents of missing Madeleine McCann. Kevin Halligen, 56, was found unwell at his girlfriend's Surrey home and later died. Police are treating his death as "unexplained" and are expected to pass a report to a coroner.
Korea talks: 'When US is sidelined, local players find peaceful solutions' | 11 Jan 2018 | Korean talks might be yet another example of a situation where once the US and its foreign policy are put to one side, peaceful solutions can be found by local players. That's according to security analyst Charles Shoebridge. North Korea and South Korea on Tuesday held their first official talks in more than two years. The negotiations took place in the demilitarized zone (DMZ) between the two countries. The two sides agreed on the participation of North Korean athletes in the South Korean Olympics. They also discussed the potential reunification of families separated by the Korean War. In a significant breakthrough, the two Koreas agreed on talks between army officials - in order to avoid dangerous military incidents.
7 times Trump critics called Russia a 's***hole' and worse, and no one cared | 13 Jan 2017 | Donald Trump's [alleged] remarks on "s***hole countries" roused a righteous high-mindedness in his detractors. But a perusal of their own past quotes suggest they are quite capable of similar words -- when one particular state is involved...On Russia, last December, after hockey player Alex Ovechkin endorsed Vladimir Putin for this year's election: "Maybe Ovechkin should be thrown out of this league and forced to go back and skate with Putin in that hellhole #ToHellWithRussia."
'Wrong button' sends out false missile alert | 13 Jan 2018 | State emergency management officials mistakenly issued a missile threat alert at about 8:07 a.m. today, sending Hawaii into an intense, short-lived panic before they started correcting their error about 20 minutes later. The cell phone notification read: "BALLISTIC MISSILE THREAT INBOUND TO HAWAII. SEEK IMMEDIATE SHELTER. THIS IS NOT DRILL." Although the state emailed that the alert was a mistake at about 8:25 a.m., they did not issue a cell phone alert correction -- the way many residents first learned of the bogus alert -- until about 38 minutes after the initial mistake.