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Portland, OR: Anarchists Organize in Face of Arsonist Attacking People Living on the Street

Tue, 03/13/2018 - 14:27


The follow report comes from Portland and details a campaign to protect people living on the street and in their vehicles from an arsonist.

The houseless community in Portland is under constant attack but to add to the collective stress an arsonist has been attacking and threatening camps and RVs across the city. This comes on the heels of NIMBY outrage over a proposed shelter that would help hundreds of folks receive aid and shelter. These attacks on the most vulnerable folks in our communities cannot and will not go unchallenged.

On the night of Sunday, March 11th a coalition of anarchists, antifascists, and otherwise concerned citizens implemented a plan to assist our neighbors in feeling safer and at the same time making the arsonist feel unsafe. Our first step was to form community defense patrols with dozens of local activists who will monitor camps and check in with houseless neighbors.

These patrols are being coupled with a press release letting the community know that it’s time to be vigilant, we also hope the arsonist will see it and understand that we are watching. The coalition visited camps to hand out cards with an emergency number monitored by our team that is ready to act on threats.

This same team also stickered, flyered, handed out security whistles, fire suppressants, food, and supplies in a number of neighborhoods. This action will continue until these arsonists are found or the fires stop. We are fully aware the State, and more specifically the cops, aren’t going to do shit, so as always community defense is up to all of us.

-solidarity with our neighbors
-anonymous folks struggling for liberation.

Tags: portlandcategory: Actions
Categories: News

Review: Anarchists Never Surrender by Victor Serge

Tue, 03/13/2018 - 14:21

by Anarcho, via anarchist writers

This book is a collection of new translations of articles by Victor Serge (1890-1947). Born of Russian anti-Tsarist exiles in Belgium, Serge is of note for his odyssey from anarchism to Bolshevism, then from Trotskyism to some kind of libertarian Marxism. He is regularly trotted out by Leninists when anarchist influence is on the rise or when Bolshevik tyranny needs to be justified, usually in regard to the crushing of the Kronstadt revolt of 1921. The lesson is clear – Serge came to recognise the limitations of anarchism so follow his lead.

Indeed, his autobiography – Memoirs of a Revolutionary (New York: New York Review Book, 2012) written in the 1940s – does paint an appealing figure who sought to combine the best of anarchism and Marxism, someone aware of the dangers within Bolshevism but also “realistic” enough to support it in the face of civil war. Unfortunately, as more of his writings become available the more the myth he created about himself in his Memoirs disappears. Anarchists Never Surrender is the latest of such works and is of note simply for allowing us to better understand his move from anarchism to Bolshevism.

Yet even here we are being too generous. After a short period with the Belgium Social-Democrats, Serge did become an anarchist – but not a social anarchist. Rather, he embraced French individualist anarchism (not to be confused with the better known American individualist anarchism). This perspective – it is perhaps too nebulous to be called a theory as it reflected its adherents peculiar passions – was a complete dead-end and fundamentally elitist.

Thus Anarchists Never Surrender is of use for it shows why Serge embraced Bolshevism – but not in a way which latter-day Leninists seeking converts would like. This is because the bulk of the book comprises of translations of Serge’s articles for the individualist anarchist press, primarily l’anarchie, and they show a deeply elitist perspective. Moving from an elitist individualist anarchism to an elitist Bolshevism is not the leap some may think at first sight.

So following a short and flawed preface by Richard Freeman (“Meditation on a Maverick”) and an introduction by the editor and translator Mitchell Abidor (“The Old Mole of Individual Freedom”) which covers the issues reasonably well, we have over 40 new translations of Serge’s writings from 1908 to 1938, the bulk of which date from before his conversion to Bolshevism in 1919. All help flesh out Serge’s politics and show that there is a link between the phases, namely “contempt for the masses” (3) and elitism, a belief in the key role and importance of the avant-garde, a vanguard of some kind.

It is in this sense, and in this sense alone, that Abidor is right to suggest that Serge “abandon[ed] anarchism while maintaining its essence.” (11) He kept the essence of the elitism of his individualist anarchism and found a new home for it in the elitism of Bolshevism which flowed from Lenin’s What is to be Done? and the perspectives which naturally flow from holding positions in the highest echelons of the State machine.

Thus we find the individualist Serge proclaiming that “in all areas impartial science demonstrates to us the inferiority of the working class” (40); “To think that impulsive, defective, ignorant crowds will have done with the morbid illogic of capitalist society is a vulgar illusion” (47); denouncing the “rules issued by majoritarian herds against the boldness of minorities” (56); that revolutions “only succeeded when bourgeois liberals and intriguers have joined the insurgent people.” (120) All in all, nothing could be expected from the masses and so the individualists must live their lives to the full and take, by whatever means, what they needed to do so. The individualists considered themselves so revolutionary they rejected revolution itself: “And so, for us, changing an oppressive regime is a pure waste of time.” (84)

The links with Lenin’s vanguardism are clear enough: “there could not have been Social-Democratic consciousness among the workers” as it must “be brought to them from without. The history of all countries shows that the working class, exclusively by its own effort, is able to develop only trade union consciousness” while the “theory of socialism, however, grew out of the philosophic, historical, and economic theories elaborated by educated representatives of the propertied classes, by intellectuals.” This meant “there can be no talk of an independent ideology formulated by the working masses themselves in the process of their movement, the only choice is — either bourgeois or socialist ideology. There is no middle course” and so “to belittle the socialist ideology in any way, to turn aside from it in the slightest degree means to strengthen bourgeois ideology. There is much talk of spontaneity. But the spontaneous development of the working-class movement leads to its subordination to bourgeois ideology.” (Lenin, The Lenin Anthology [New York: Princeton University, 1975], 24, 28-9)

Serge’s politics and Lenin’s shared the same foundations even if they came to very different practical conclusions. For Lenin, the masses had a role to play in hoisting the vanguard into State power by means of revolution while Serge did not come to this conclusion until 1919 – as seen, for example, by the articles translated in Revolution in Danger: Writings from Russia, 1919-1921 (London: Redwords, 1997). This perspective can be seen from the few post-1918 articles included in this collection and they reflect the same contempt for the masses Serge expressed between 1908 and 1918.

Still, regardless of this, we can be sure that Serge will continue to weave a spell over certain Marxists for some reason. Take Richard Greeman’s preface, which is staggering in its claims. Serge, he asserts, “lived and died an internationalist, an individualist, and an enemy of the state” who also “collaborated with the Bolsheviks” and “never surrendered his identity as an anarchist” and yet underwent an “evolution from anarchism to Marxism.” (x, xi)

How can that be? An enemy of the state who happily collaborated with the Bolshevik state? An individualist who ended up denouncing individualism as a fatal flaw of anarchism? An anarchist who rejected anarchism to become a Leninist? He could, I suppose, invoke the magical word “dialectics” but that could not help for these contradictions only exist in Greeman’s mind: Serge became a Marxist and so combined a rhetorical anti-statism for the dim and distant future with supporting a massive expansion of the state in the here and now. But, then, Greeman thinks that former Socialist Party of America member Big Bill Haywood was an anarchist. (vii)

While Serge may have retained enough of his anarchism to have concerns over the reality of the Bolshevik regime (in private), this did not impact on his role as its public defender and his attempts to win over anarchists to Bolshevism. This has never been very convincing, as numerous anarchists at the time and subsequently have argued. So it is nonsense to suggest Serge joined the Bolsheviks “all the while vowing to struggle against as he could against their dictatorial tendencies” (xiv) at the same time as he “continued publicly to write pamphlets for Reds” (xiv) – in which he defended the necessity of party dictatorship! It is hardly “sectarian” (xv) to note the obvious contradiction.

Serge’s more reflective writings of the mid-1930s onwards are of interest, mostly because he starts to grope towards the communist-anarchism he had rejected during his individualist phase. However, he cannot quite bring himself to reject Leninism as a dead-end and so seeks to champion the rhetoric of 1917 while not bringing himself to recognise how quickly the reality of the Bolshevik regime made a mockery of it.

So we have Serge proclaiming that the regime was “already on the slippery slope to an authoritarian state” (224) when it betrayed the Makhnovists in late 1920. Yet can a party dictatorship – in place since mid-1918 – be anything other than authoritarian? Indeed, the articles he wrote eulogising Bolshevism in the anarchist press defended the party dictatorship as inevitable, the authoritarian state as a necessity for a successful revolution. Indeed, one such article is included here, namely his introduction Bakunin’s Confession written in 1919 which argued that “Bakunin already predicted Bolshevism” in his advocacy of “a powerful dictatorial power” (Bakunin’s words) and “Lenin couldn’t describe the proletarian dictatorship any better.” (163) That this was from Bakunin’s pre-anarchist period goes unmentioned, but it shows how willing Serge was to embrace and broadcast widely the party orthodoxy.

So by 1920 the regime was an authoritarian state and had been since mid-1918, at the latest. Serge pretends to be unaware of this and suggests “it was mainly due to the spirit of intolerance that increasingly gripped the Bolshevik Party from 1919; to the monopoly of power, the ideological monopoly, the dictatorship of the leaders of the party, already tending to substitute themselves for that of the soviets and even the party.” (226) Yet reading Year One of the Russian Revolution (London/New York: Bookmarks, Pluto Press and Writers and Readers, 1992) and its defence of these various monopolies and dictatorships shows this was not the case.

In this work, we find in 1921 Serge arguing that “all power—the power to do everything—means a dictatorship; an organized revolutionary vanguard (even as a union) is the same as a party.” (181) By 1938, he seems aware of the dangers of this approach (perhaps because he had experienced the sharp-end of it himself for his activities in the Left-Opposition?). Still, in 1921 he did recognise reality somewhat, even if it appears to be a sop for his anarchist audience to better ease their conversion to Bolshevism:

“The greatest danger of dictatorship is that it tends to firmly implant itself, that it creates permanent institutions that it wants neither to abdicate nor to die a natural death. In all of history there is no example of a dictatorship that died on its own.” (182)

So why, then, join it? Advocate its necessity? Work to strengthen it? Serge’s notion (viii, xiv) that a few anarchists joining the Communist Party – and being subject to its discipline! – would counteract such institutional pressures proved to be as utopian as expected. Particularly given that Serge’s argument is that anarchist ideas had been proven by the experience of the Russian Revolution to be wrong and that centralisation, dictatorship and so on were necessities which every revolution would need to embrace.

So there are contradictions in Serge’s politics, just as there are in Leninism as a whole. Not least the contradiction between reality and rhetoric which produces the doublethink we are familiar with in Leninist circles. Serge’s doublethink was farcical at times. So, for example, after proclaiming that the Bolsheviks were right to shoot some of the anarchists during the Russian Revolution, he proclaimed:

“We take a solemn vow to fight for the establishing of a true workers’ democracy, for true freedom of thought and organization in the ranks of the revolution, joined to a true discipline in combat and production. We remember that the dictatorship of the proletariat is a dictatorship against the bourgeoisie and freedom for the workers.” (195)

Not that the Bolshevik regime was like this, of course. It does not help that this letter is immediately followed in the book by an article written two years later which proclaims that “[o]nce Kronstadt rebelled, it had to be subdued, no doubt.” (197) That Kronstadt had rebelled for soviet democracy, for freedom for the workers, for freedom of thought and organisation of workers’ parties, makes Serge’s “solemn vow” hard to take seriously.

Still, reading his comments on Kronstadt pondering when the party began “to employ toward the toiling masses [...] nonsocialist methods which must be condemned because they ended by assuring the victory of the bureaucracy over the proletariat” (198) we cannot help wondering if he regretted his role in justifying these methods earlier? It is hard to tell for every comment that he did is matched by at least one justifying the actions of the Bolshevik regime.

This can be seen from the article “Anarchist Thought,” from 1938 and the final text included. That he was a former anarchist may make some take this article more seriously than your typical Marxist account, but they would be wrong. So we get the usual Marxist assertion that anarchism is imbued with “the spirit of small-scale production that preceded modern large-scale industry” (226) amongst the parroting of the usual nonsense about the likes of Proudhon and Bakunin. Ironically, after misrepresenting the latter by ignoring his syndicalism he admits that Marxism “in reality became part of a regime they claimed to combat. Socialism became bourgeois.” (208) He fails to note that Bakunin correctly predicted this. Likewise, he draws the usual and false Leninist distinction between anarchism and syndicalism, forgetting that most of the “celebrated militants” to whom he contrasts the “men of action” who “have gone over to syndicalism” advocated syndicalism as a tactic, not least Rudolf Rocker and Emma Goldman. (212)

Strangely, he ends by proclaiming the need for a “synthesis” between anarchism and Marxism (228) – yet why, if what Serge recounts of anarchism is remotely true? However, it is not. This can be seen when Serge presents a few sentences from Malatesta’s Anarchy to illustrate what he considers anarchism “naïve intelligence, moral energy, faith, and, it must be said, blindness.” Malatesta urges the destruction of government and expropriation of social wealth” and Serge adds that “there is no context” and “not a word or explanation” on “how this is to be accomplished,” something which is typical of the regular “affirmations” in anarchist publications. (210-1)

The casual reader would probably not know that Malatesta’s words (Anarchy [London: Freedom Press, 1995], 54) are from the conclusion of his pamphlet, a summing up of an argument he had already presented in some detail. Yet this conclusion indicated how social wealth would be expropriated – by the workers who toil in it and organise industry based on their needs and experience. (Anarchy, 52-3; 33) How else could it be done? And Malatesta also easily refutes those who seek precise details of social transformation, noting that you cannot describe or prescribe how a free people will organise – not least because it would be authoritarian. (Anarchy, 45-6) All you can do is indicate a method, the principles and basis to build upon – such as abolition of State and Capital.

It must be noted that in 1917 Russian workers started to do as anarchists had long argued in the factory committee movement – until the Bolsheviks, driven by the very clear instructions of the Communist Manifesto “to centralise all instruments of production in the hands of the State” fatally undermined it (see Maurice Brinton’s “The Bolsheviks and Workers’ Control,” For Workers’ Power [Edinburgh/Oakland: AK Press, 2004] for details). The Bolshevik alternative not only added to the economic crisis the revolution faced, it also handed over economic power to the expanding bureaucracy. Serge, understandably, is silent about Malatesta’s predictions on the failures of state socialism made long before Bolshevism existed which noted it “entrusts to a few the management of social life and leads to the exploitation and oppression of the masses by the few.” (Anarchy, 47)

In addition, it is not clear what, if anything, anarchism would gain from a “synthesis” with Marxism – the need for class struggle, participation in the labour movement and so on can all be found in Bakunin while much of Marx’s economic analysis was first raised by Proudhon. This is not to suggest Marx could not be gainfully read by anarchists, just that this does not equate to a “synthesis” – as a good understanding of anarchist theory would show.

Still, Serge was right – as he was right to bemoan the disorganisation of so much of the movement – to suggest that anarchism does base itself on the “spontaneity of the masses” (221) to some degree, but he was wrong to ignore the role played by minorities in anarchist theory to encourage the needed self-activity and self-organisation today. That this can often be better and more consistently organised is, of course, true but Serge dismissed (mocked!) all this during his individualist days and in his criticism of anarchism in 1938 is implicitly infused with the same elitist perspective, although he cannot quite say it openly.

He comes close in a passage in which he suggests that while the Russian masses knew what “what they didn’t want,” they lacked “sufficient revolutionary consciousness and capacity” and that only a tiny minority amongst them did. So “[w]ithout the Bolshevik organization it is extremely likely that the feeble revolutionary spontaneity of the masses would have been promptly repressed by another social minority, that of the counterrevolution led by the generals. The dictatorship of the proletariat saved Russia from a military dictatorship.” (221) It is hard not to conclude that he obviously meant dictatorship by the Bolshevik Party, yet a few pages earlier he had waxed lyrical on Lenin’s 1917 rhetoric:

“We know Lenin’s solution: demolish the old state machine from top to bottom and immediately construct on the rubble a power—a state—radically different and new, one like there’s never been, one that the Paris Commune of 1871 seemed to prefigure. A Commune-state with no caste of functionaries, without a police and army distinct from the nation, where the workers would exercise direct power through their local, federated councils. A state consequently decentralized and at the same time equipped with an active central mechanism. A democratic and libertarian state working to prepare its own absorption into the collectivity of labor, but exercising against the expropriated classes a veritable dictatorship in the interests of the proletariat.” (219)

Ignoring that “Lenin’s solution” simply repeated – but fatally injected with, and undermined by, Marxist confusions, jargon and prejudices – most of the conclusions reached by Bakunin and Kropotkin, I must stress that this did not last a year. As I discuss elsewhere (my chapter in Bloodstained: One Hundred Years of Leninist Counterrevolution [AK Press, 2017] and section H.6 of An Anarchist FAQ), by the end of July 1918 the caste of functionaries (bureaucrats) had expanded and was continuing to expand at huge rate, there was a police force and army distinct from the people, the councils were marginalised, gerrymandered and packed by the Bolsheviks, “dictatorial” one-man management was being introduced in the workplace – all ruled over by a party holding a monopoly of power.

Apart from the final step of party dictatorship, this all predates the start of the civil war which is usually invoked by Leninists to rationalise – excuse! – Bolshevik authoritarianism. It was a striking confirmation of Bakunin’s critique of Marxism, of which Serge strangely did not find time to mention. Yet the fact that Bakunin had predicted Marxism would produce “a veritable dictatorship” but one over the proletariat is significant – particularly given that his alternative, as applied by the Makhnovists, proved better.

Sadly, when Serge arrived in Russian in 1919 he took a job trying to sell this state-capitalist dictatorship to the world’s anarchists. Given his earlier elitism, it is now easy to see why. For pre-1918 Serge, the masses were backward, nothing could be expected from them, they were a hindrance to freedom of the enlightened few who had to ignore the masses -- other than educate them – to live their lives. For the post-1918 Serge, all this remained true but now he saw that the enlightened few could isolate themselves from the masses with state power and use that to educate them and make them fit, eventually, for freedom.

Now, perhaps Serge is right, perhaps the masses are incapable and anarchist hopes are dreams. If so, then it would appear that Bolshevism did not fail the masses, rather the masses failed Bolshevism. That is possible but then “Lenin’s solution” is equally invalid and we are left with the dictatorship of the party and, inevitability, the dictatorship of the leaders within the party. If this is the case then, please, be honest about it and reject the flowing rhetoric of 1917 and advocate the grim reality of 1918. Given both its unappealing nature and its inevitable end in the rule of the bureaucracy, it is unsurprising that Serge – like most Leninists – cannot bring himself to do this, so we left with the contradictions expressed in his writings from the 1930s as shown in the handful included here.

However, such a bleak conclusion need not be drawn. I must note that “Anarchist Thought” contains an accurate account of the Makhnovist movement in the Ukraine which refutes his own arguments against anarchism in the same article. This is important for the Makhnovists show the impact of ideology and structures on the fate of the Russian Revolution. Both they and the Bolsheviks were operating in similar circumstances but with radically different results. Unsurprisingly, Leninists tend to disparage the Makhnovists and we discover that earlier Serge suggested that “the Ukrainian anarchists have themselves avoided none of the errors for which they reproach the Bolsheviks.” (169) Yet the Makhnovists supported soviet democracy and defended freedom of speech and association. For all the divergences from ideals you would expect from any real movement in a life-and-death struggle against both White and Red tyranny, the record of the Makhnovists is far better than the Bolsheviks – as can be seen not only in the practice in encouraging the freedoms the Bolsheviks crushed but also in their theory, for they never suggested the necessity for party dictatorship.

Serge wonders who was “responsible for the strangling of [this] profoundly revolutionary peasant movement” (225) yet the answer is clear given that Serge himself notes that the Makhnovists “considered the ‘dictatorship of the commissars’ a new form of autocracy and dreamed of unleashing a Third Revolution against it,” (224) and his own writings from the period showed that they were simply noting the reality of the situation: the Bolshevik regime was the dictatorship of the commissars. Such a regime would not tolerate a libertarian alternative within its borders.

To conclude, Abidor’s notion of Serge having “the old mole of individual freedom” (1) burrowing through his writings is true in a sense – as you usually cannot see the mole, likewise you usually cannot see Serge’s supposed libertarian positions. This can be seen from the notion that Serge’s “New Tendencies in Russian Anarchism” was some kind of “dissident” work, (13) a farcical position as it clearly fits into the Comintern’s aim to convert anarchists to Bolshevism. How better than an account of how Russian anarchists were drawing Bolshevik conclusions: “These anarchists have ended up as communist”? (187)

Greeman may be right that to his “knowledge Serge never fabricates” (ix) but Serge was more than happy to repeat Bolshevik slanders on Kronstadt (The Serge-Trotsky Papers [London: Pluto Press, 1994], 18) and in this book it is shown that in 1920 he repeated Bolshevik lies that the Makhnovists “speculated on the spirit of small land-ownership of the peasants, on their nationalism, even on anti-Semitism, all of which had dreadful consequences.” (169) He admits the truth much latter in another article (223) – but forgets to mention that he was once one of those accusers he was now refuting.

To suggest that deep down Serge remained an anarchist is ridiculous – his Bolshevism was sincere and his defence of party dictatorship, State terror, and so on were not compatible with any form of libertarian theory. He does deserve credit for opposing Stalinism at a time when that was an extremely dangerous thing to do (particularly in Russia), but it does not make his Trotskyism any real alternative. Strangely, Greeman states that Serge “collaborated with the Bolsheviks from 1919 to 1927” (x) but while his collaboration with the Russian state may have ended then, he considered himself a real Bolshevik (unlike the Stalinists) and worked with the Left Opposition and then the Trotskyists in exile. That from the mid-1930s he appears to have re-evaluated this position and perhaps finally seen its flaws does not change this fact – nor that others, like Emma Goldman and Alexander Berkman, came to the correct conclusion he was struggling for… in 1920, if not before.

Still, it is useful to have these texts available for they help undermine the myth Serge created via his Memoirs. As noted, the more works by Serge become available the more unappealing he becomes. Indeed, this may explain pioneering Serge translator Peter Sedgwick’s increasingly critical perspective on Serge which Greeman recounts. (xii) All in all, these and other texts show that Greeman’s claim that Serge kept “his moral and political compass pointing more or less in the right direction” (xiii) is false – unless supporting party dictatorship, crushing revolts for workers’ democracy and such like are now considered moral. One thing is sure, they are not revolutionary – as Emma Goldman put it, true anarchists never side with the master class even if it is draped in a red flag.

Perhaps anarchists never surrender, but they can stop being anarchists – that Serge swapped individualist anarchism elitism for Bolshevik elitism does not make him someone to aspire to. Indeed, these texts show the uselessness of his earlier politics and how its ultra-radical-sounding rhetoric masked a deeply non-revolutionary perspective. Instead of Serge, we should look to the works of such communist-anarchists as Goldman, Berkman, Rocker and the many others who saw through the Bolshevik Myth decades before Serge started to.

Anarchists Never Surrender: Essays, Polemics, and Correspondence on Anarchism, 1908–1938

Victor Serge

Edited by Mitchell Abidor

Foreword by Richard Greeman

PM Press


Tags: victor sergeanarchist historybook reviewcategory: Essays
Categories: News

Brazil 2016-17: The Political Crisis and Coup d’État

Tue, 03/13/2018 - 02:27

From CrimethInc.
An Anarchist Analysis

After a groundswell of anarchist and autonomous protest in 2013, Brazil experienced a right-wing reaction that culminated with the impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff of the Workers Party (PT). The events in Brazil offer an instructive case study of phenomena that are prevalent elsewhere around the world—indeed, the United States might have experienced something similar had Hillary Clinton been elected. Looking at Brazil, we can identify the dangers of premising social movements on presenting demands to the authorities; we can see how the discourse of “fighting corruption” serves right-wing forces jockeying with left parties to hold state power, while legitimizing the function of the government itself; we can study how right-wing groups appropriate the tactical innovations of anarchist movements, and explore ways to defend ourselves against this. Above all, in a time when left and right parties are engaged in increasingly pitched struggles for control of the state, we have to carve out space for social movements that reject the state itself, resisting the attempts of all parties to manipulate or subordinate us. The Brazilian example offers an important reference point for the challenges and opportunities that face us today.

This analysis picks up where our coverage of
social movements in Brazil between 2013 and 2015 leaves off. For more background on popular struggles in Brazil, read our reports on the 2013 uprising and the movement against the 2014 World Cup, and listen to episodes 7 and 25 of the Ex-Worker podcast.

An earlier version of this article appeared in Portuguese here.

Introduction: Governing without the Ballot Box

In 2016, the Brazilian parliament dismissed President Dilma Rousseff of the Workers’ Party (PT) after charging her with committing “fiscal irregularities” known as pedaladas fiscais. On April 17, the impeachment vote at the Chamber of Deputies was broadcast live on television like a football match: the whole country watched the politicians declare that they had voted in the name of God, Jesus, the Family, good morality and in memory of the torturers and murderers of the Military Dictatorship (1964-1985). At the end of this disturbing spectacle, 367 of the 513 deputies voted for the president to leave office. Dilma Rousseff temporarily stepped down and her vice president, Michel Temer of the PMDB, took over in the interim. Four months later, on August 31, the Senate finally passed the Impeachment by 61 votes to 20 and Temer became president, undertaking a radical restructuring of the entire government and its ministries. It was the end of the PT’s 13-year rule, the longest tenure of a political party in the country’s presidency since re-democratization.

The deputies and senators who voted to impeach the president are the political spokespeople of Brazil’s industrial and agrarian elites, and many of them are also Protestant Christians. The entire process was openly supported by mainstream media and conservative movements in general—the same groups behind the reactionary “anti-corruption” protests that took place in hundreds of cities.

The fall of the PT government ushered in an even worse future for the whole working class as well as for people in peripheries/ghettos, indigenous populations, and black and LGBTQI people. The economic gains from social policies implemented by Lula and Dilma’s party are insignificant to the traditional elites. Without Dilma, the PMDB of Mr. Temer and his allies promptly implemented aggressively neoliberal and anti-popular measures to meet the demands of the rich. When Temer took power, he acted as if he had not been elected on the same electoral ticket as Dilma. He started to exercise a mandate and a project of his own, one that represented the political and economic elites who have been used to ruling alone for decades now—with or without a victory at the polls.

But the road leading up to the 2016 impeachment is long and much more complex than the dichotomy between betrayers and betrayed. Before being betrayed by its allies, the PT betrayed its own principles and those of many who supported it in order to take control of the government in the first place. In order to understand the current political crisis in Brazil, we must analyze the political trajectory that brought us here.

Not a Class Struggle, but a Class Pact

The only reason Michel Temer is president of Brazil today is because the PT invited him to serve as Dilma’s Vice President. This move was part of the PT’s strategy to reconcile class conflict. However the plan backfired, and in the end Temer bit the hand that fed him. Like Temer, the big economic interest groups were not absent from Lula or Dilma’s government. Even while the PT was in power, those elites were there behind the scenes cooperating when it was convenient for both parties.

The PT used the clever strategy of class reconciliation to win the 2002 elections. In his “letter to the Brazilian people,” Lula tried to calm the financial market and all those who had feared the victory of a pro-union president. In the letter, he wrote that he intended to respect the state’s commitments to external debt and not to take unilateral measures. As was to be expected, when the leftist PT party gained power, it did not make itself an enemy of the elites, but rather an ally in the process of capitalist development.

During the governments of Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (2003-2008) and Dilma Rousseff (2011-2016), Brazil became an emergent figure in the world economy based on primary commodity production, high international prices, the creation of 1.5 million new minimum wage jobs, and granting new purchasing power to the poor chiefly via the expansion of micro-credit (i.e., massive indebtedness for the poor and the lower middle class). Meanwhile, public debt only increased; banks and financial systems were profiting at historically high levels.

What was decisive in this scenario were the favorable conditions outside of Brazil. The 2008 financial crisis had a devastating effect on US and European markets. As a consequence, capital from the central countries—the United States and Europe—was invested in the peripheries. In addition, China continued to grow and became Brazil’s most important international partner, buying raw materials and selling industrialized products. This trade partnership provided the resources to implement the massive social programs that relieved 45 million people of extreme poverty. But Lula’s intentions were not purely benevolent: he convinced the rich elites that incorporating impoverished regions and peoples back into the economy would stimulate the economy and provide new opportunities for the country’s elite to make even more money.

Fiscal programs that facilitated access to personal credit were also introduced around this time. This was a strategic move that expanded the domestic market to benefit excluded populations that had been shaped by more oligarchic politicians for decades, such as Northeast Brazil and most urban poor neighborhoods and favelas. In just a short time, all those people received unprecedented economic benefits. Since the overwhelming majority of the Brazilian population is poor, the Workers’ Party secured a solid enough political base to be elected four times in a row.

In the short term, both the rich and the poor had their needs met. The effect was one of social appeasement, causing grassroots social movements to die down. Trade union leaders were elected into government positions and as a result they stopped opposing the federal government’s policies, no matter how reactionary they were. Agrarian reform practically ceased when Lula came to power and under Dilma Rousseff’s administration, and the demarcation of indigenous lands was the smallest in the history of the democratic era. The PT chose to prioritize the interests of agribusiness and latifundia (large landed estates belonging to the wealthy) over guaranteeing indigenous peoples and peasant families the right to land.

The PT fashioned itself the party of the people, the party that cared for the workers and the poor. But inside the palaces, it shook hands with the conservative, corrupt, and neo-liberal groups that took over the economy while the PT administered social restructuring and public policies. Corruption, bribery and other illegal means were essential for the PT; they become a party as dishonest as any other in power.

Belo Horizonte, March 31, 2017: “No government is an option!”

The Decline of a Leftist Latin America

In the last two decades, much of Latin America has grown weary of the traditional bourgeois right. This has opened up space for popular left-wing governments to emerge in several countries. Countries such as Venezuela, Bolivia, and Ecuador chose the “Bolivarian” way—a combination of anti-imperialist, anti-neoliberal, and anti-oligarchic positions. This position gained eminence in countries where authoritarian states turned against their populations. Other countries such as Chile, Uruguay, and Brazil formed coalitions between social-democratic and neo-liberal parties, uniting left-wing parties with other center or moderate parties to preserve neoliberal doctrines and the so-called “Washington Consensus.” They continue to apply progressive measures, instituting social programs that minimally improve the economic conditions of the poor without ever defying the structures that produce and maintain inequality.

Social programs like the Bolsa Família became renowned worldwide. The Lula government counts getting 45 million people out of poverty as one of its greatest achievements. But Bolsa Familia is nothing more than a Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) program recommended by financial institutions that serve the rich, such as the IMF. The average 176 Brazilian Reais granted to each family (about $55 in US dollars) makes a difference for millions of people who have nothing. However, this sum is petty compared to unemployment benefits and other social programs that are in place in rich countries like France or Germany. Furthermore, this small sum of money does not guarantee that excluded classes will actually be integrated into the economy: it only allows people to purchase consumer goods. It does not guarantee access to housing or higher education, two things that would be more likely to give Brazil’s poorest populations the prospect of long-term improvement in their social standing.

The strategic use of these economic and social policies helped Lula come to power and maintain his position. After losing three consecutive presidential elections (1989, 1994, 1998), the PT took a more moderate position. It chose the typical path of social democracy: a socialism that exchanges revolutionary struggle for the electoral contest to control the state and carry out emergency social policies. In practice, this project of governance abandoned the class struggle in order to seek class conciliation that most benefitted the elites. However, the PT made a strategic mistake: they believed that if they governed to benefit the old elite, they would be considered a part of that elite. The elite do not welcome new members and are usually self-sufficient. Even when they worked with right-wing politicians, agribusiness, and industry conglomerates, to the old elite Lula and the PT still represented the image of the working class, of the poor, of black people and leftists.

Temer and Lula during the inauguration of Dilma Rousseff, January 2015: remember how we got here.

It was the elite themselves, not the poor classes, who decided to break the pact created by the Workers’ Party. They took advantage of this opportunity as soon as they realized it was no longer necessary to maintain their previous agreements. The problem was not that the poor were receiving money, but that the rich were not making enough. The years passed, economic conditions in the rest of the world worsened, and finally the recession hit Brazil. When this happened, Dilma’s solution was to try to break the agreements that had provided security for the elites since the early years of the Lula era. The pact was no longer enough, and the same elites behind industry, agribusiness, and banks demanded the purest neoliberalism. They quickly got together with their parliamentary allies and reorganized their agenda to impose austerity policies that made harsh welfare and education cuts while at the same time slashing rights and freedoms.

As Temer himself argues, the motions for impeachment began when Dilma refused to accept a neoliberal project known as “A Bridge to the Future,” which was designed by the PMDB in 2015. The plan was to pay back public debt to banks by using money that would otherwise go towards education, health, and social programs. The accusation of corruption came only later, as a more legitimate pretext to overthrow the president. Eduardo Cunha, also of the PMDB, accepted the impeachment request made against Dilma Rousseff in December of that year on accusations of “fiscal irresponsibility” and a possible relationship with the corruption scandal revealed by the huge police operation, Lava Jato. Government approval ratings, which had reached 80 percent three years earlier, fell to just 8 percent after massive attacks against her by the country’s judiciary and by the media. Dilma Rousseff’s exit door was being opened.

This did not happen only in Brazil: the projects of left-wing Latin American governments are losing momentum and it is not surprising that many people have grown tired of waiting for deep social and economic change and are now being seduced by right-wing discourses. Local elites have already attempted coups in Venezuela, Ecuador, and Bolivia. In Honduras and Paraguay, the elites have succeeded in deposing democratically-elected presidents who attempted to implement superficial reforms that didn’t benefit the rich. In Argentina, Cristina Kirchner’s Peronism gave way to the neoliberal Mauricio Macri. Venezuela, the first country to elect a socialist and Bolivarianist1 president at the turn of the century, has entered into a deep economic crisis that does not seem to have a solution in sight. In Bolivia, Evo Morales, the peasant and indigenous president, disappointed city unions and peasants’ movements and lost a referendum that would have allowed the president to run for a third term. By promising true social justice and economic equality, which cannot be delivered within capitalism, the Left fueled a popular disillusionment that will encourage right-wing politicians to bring back pure neoliberalism or worse.

The Coup: “Fighting Corruption” as a Weapon against Political Enemies

“For me there is no doubt that the worst of democracies is always preferable, if only from the educational point of view, to the best of dictatorships. Of course democracy, so-called government of the people, is a lie; but the lie always slightly binds the liar and limits the extent of his arbitrary power. Of course the ‘sovereign people’ is a clown of a sovereign, a slave with a papier-maché crown and scepter.”

-Errico Malatesta

Although many of the politicians in the PT were either under investigation for corruption or had already been convicted of it, nobody could prove that President Dilma was involved in these crimes. The impeachment procedure was an institutional coup d’etat disguised as a fight against corruption. Distorted interpretations and manipulations of the laws were used to bring about the annulment of the election in order to bring to power a political program that has not won elections for over a decade. Since the elections failed to unseat either Lula or Dilma, the coup was the only way for the opposition to implement social and political measures that were even worse than the social-democratic measures put into place by the PT.

The cause for the coup was political, not ethical. This became obvious when the prosecution failed to prove that Dilma Rousseff had any relationship to the crimes investigated by the Lava Jato operation. This operation, organized by the Federal Police, was an investigation into what became the biggest corruption scandal in Brazilian history. The operation has already indicted 50 politicians from six parties as well as the directors of ten of the largest companies and contractors in Brazil and in the entire world, including the Brazilian company Petrobras. When the police went on to investigate PT politicians, in particular former President Lula, the media made a point of using the investigation to suggest that the PT politicians were the sole forces of corruption in all of politics. This incited street demonstrations that built legitimacy for the coup. The elite had decided that the best strategy would be to put another president in charge and then call off the investigations to spare the rest of the politicians. Perhaps the biggest benefit of the Lava Jato operation has been to show that corruption is inseparable from the capitalist system; it pervades virtually every party and every major business in the country that finances electoral campaigns for the left and for the right-wing parties.

More than half of the lawmakers who investigated the president are also being investigated or have already been convicted of corruption crimes. For example, Deputy Eduardo Cunha, who was responsible for initiating the impeachment process in 2015, was arrested in October 2016 on charges of being involved in bribery and money laundering.

The “fiscal pedals” (the delay in the payment of bank loans used for social programs such as Bolsa Família) are a technique used by many mayors, governors, and almost all former presidents before Dilma. Even the prosecutor of the Federal Public Ministry used these fiscal pedals. But Dilma was the first to be indicted on criminal charges for doing so. The members of Parliament did not take this into consideration when they voted to impeach a democratically-elected president. Just two days after voting for impeachment, the Senate passed a law that made pedaling a maneuver that is lawful when done by the federal government. After using fiscal pedaling as the main charge against Dilma Rousseff, Congress made it impossible for such accusations to be used against the new president.

The term corruption is used only to classify an individual or group as enemies of morality and good manners. The spectacle of corruption thus appeals to “common sense”; it was supported and legitimized by the crowds that took to the streets in protest. Corruption discourse is a political technique that aims to weaken enemies and shield allies. It is a pretext to suspend common democratic procedures, distort laws, and ensure that power remains in the hands of a few people without causing anyone to question the system and the corruption that underpins it. By definition, democratic government entails the control of a few people over the rest of the population. The electoral spectacle is used to give legitimacy to this. By nature, democratic regimes are exclusive, authoritarian, and oppressive systems in which our participation and our self-determination are limited at all times by political representation and police repression.

Yet when their agents and institutions openly violate and distort their own laws, this is an indication that we will have many more problems ahead, and that there will be no constitutional rights or majority vote to protect us.

A Coup d’État? Revolution, State of Exception, and Why We Say Coup

“By referring to the coup d’état, we can say (or want to say) that it is part of the past, or that it is a relic of the past; but in fact, is it not anchored to the heart of contemporary government practice? Is it not possible to say that contemporary governmental practice is based on the permanent modality of a coup? Could using the notion of a coup d’état mean that we are interpreting the general economy of power in our societies as if they are relying more and more on practices of exception? Is not speaking of a coup nowadays a way of saying that the functioning mechanisms of power are based on measures of exception and that, consequently, the exception is the paradigm for interpreting our modernity?”

Roberto Nigro, “Violência de Estado, golpe de Estado, estado de exceção.”

When we speak of a coup d’état, we touch on something that is still fresh in the country’s memory: in 1964, Brazil lived through a civil-military coup that overthrew a democratically-elected government and put generals in power for 21 years. There was no serious evidence that an armed struggle was about to take power in the country, but economic and military elites felt that it was necessary to act “preventively.” This took place in the context of the Cold War and the dictatorships in Latin America created and supported by the CIA and the American military. They feared that Brazil “would become a new Cuba or a China.” Operation Brother Sam, organized by the US Navy in support of the Brazilian military, drove the entire Caribbean fleet to Brazil on the eve of the coup on March 31, 1964. The coup involved classic images of tanks and troops occupying the streets, taking over the palaces and arresting politicians, imposing martial law, as well as the military support of the world’s biggest imperialist power.

The classic image: tanks in the streets of Rio de Janeiro on the morning of the coup d’état on April 1, 1964.

Coup d’état or Revolution?

In the modern era, a coup is a maneuver used either by elite groups or by those within the state to take control of the state and exclude other elites from this control. It does not alter the social order or the position of classes. Since the French Revolution and the rise of modern states, the coup d’état has ceased to be understood as a praiseworthy act undertaken by a noble who must maintain the royal order and is instead seen as an illegitimate violation of the continuity of the State’s reason for existence. On the other hand, there are many narratives that praise the revolutions that constituted the modern states. Not coincidentally, the military involved in the 1964 coup in Brazil called the event a “revolution”—and its current supporters still do, just as the coup that instilled the Republic is called a “Proclamation” and the events that put Vargas in power in 1930 are also described as a “Revolution.”

As we might expect, when the streets were flooded with demonstrations against Dilma Rousseff and the PT in 2015, the conservative middle class and some far-right groups demanded military intervention. But with the end of the Cold War, the CIA has little interest in supporting military governments in Latin America again, since democratic regimes have proved just as effective as dictatorships in keeping developing countries under the political and economic control of financial institutions and the foreign market. This model spread across the globe.2

Either way, “coup” is a term that is frowned upon and outdated. The correct procedure for an elite wanting to get rid of or overthrow another elite (yes, the PT is just another elite) is an approach that appears to be legal and democratic, like a judgment based on controversial accusations that divide the opinions of political scientists and jurists operating in the territory between the legal and the illegal. We saw similar maneuvers in Honduras in 2009 and in Paraguay in 2012. Perhaps this all indicates that we are entering a new era in which a new type of coup is formulated within the democratic game, building its legitimacy with the support of conservative media and street demonstrations. The consequence is that we cannot call it a coup d’etat and they no longer have to call it a Revolution.3

Why We say Coup d’État

With the end of the military dictatorship and the consolidation of the new Federal Constitution of 1988, the Democratic State of Law was constituted in Brazil. According to the constitution, the Brazilian State intended to limit its powers based on the principles of the rule of law (respect for human rights and international fundamental rights) and the Democratic State (respect for democratic elections and constituted laws, promotion of equality of all before the law and of social equality). A state of exception is exactly the opposite of all this, suspending constitutional laws, rights to liberty, and people’s bodies and lives; the government concentrates all power in its hands to deal with an emergency situation or a crisis that threatens the state. Prison without justification or defense, repression of social movements, torture, murder: everything is used to guarantee the reign of law and order.

We do not want to posit a Manichean binary between the rule of law and the state of exception. We know that the rule of law is also a police state under the control of the ruling classes and capitalism. We know that the rule of law protects citizens who submit and that it surveils, arrests, and exterminates those who rebel and those who are not a part of its hegemonic normativity: the peripheral, the non-heterosexual, the black and indigenous populations. We understand that the rule of law does not eliminate authoritarianism or colonial expansion and that the state of exception has become more and more normal. Avoiding the rules, suspending fundamental rights and freedoms—these have become the norm for modern states.

In 2016, we did not see the same militarized landscape of 1964; yet we still call it a coup due to the extralegal and exceptional features that we witnessed during this time. Lula and Dilma’s allies say there was a “coup” to situate themselves as victims—as if they had no connection with those who designed their fall, as if it were redemption after years of laboring to lubricate capitalist machinery while the right had yet to return to the center of government. By proclaiming that there was a coup, they assert that the governments of the PT have an unquestionable legitimacy because they were elected by the democratic vote. We do not agree with this type of analysis. In order to describe what happened in 2016, it is necessary to understand the term coup d’etat with a critical perspective towards the state and its laws. We need to make the use of this word more comprehensible and understand that the term “state of exception” can be used to characterize many of the maneuvers that rulers use to concentrate power. This perspective would be especially beneficial in facilitating an understanding of the measures of exception implemented by the PT itself.

What happened in 2016 is a coup because the PT government was not felled by forces from below, such as the rebellious or the insurrectionary masses. State and economic institutions were left intact. All that happened was that a group of lawmakers proved that it is possible to use an impeachment procedure to overthrow a majority-elected government, and that proving that they committed a crime is not even a prerequisite for doing so.

In democracy, capitalists and career politicians take turns in power according to the outcome of the elections. Eventually, a leftist party or a politician of working class background may reach the government on the condition that they promise to play the same game as those who normally hold office. This game is mediated by laws, that is, by agreements made between elites and imposed on the rest of the population. When these laws are suspended or distorted to favor a powerful group, we call it a coup d’etat because it proves that the outcome of the electoral game can be disavowed when an elite is able to manipulate the laws in its favor. Even if all of this is not followed by the establishment of a dictatorship and even if the same constitutional laws continue to apply in the same way, it is still a coup d’etat.

All of this instability makes it clear that democracy settled here in the Global South according to a very different model than the European and North American blueprint. We can see clearly that the forces dominating this country are more powerful than the parties and the vote. In democratic countries, states inherited their army, their laws, their prisons and their borders from the kings and their empires. In Brazil, the years of dictatorship left the same police and legal apparatus in place and the same bourgeoisie in charge of industry, the media, and the banks. This heritage is far from being overcome—and it is impossible to reform.

A Century of Dictatorships Punctuated by Brief Moments of Bourgeois Democracy

“There is no clear distinction between dictatorship and democracy. All governments dictate, many dictators are elected, and the subjects of typical dictatorships often have ways to influence the government that are more direct than the means enjoyed by citizens of typical democracies.”

Peter Gelderloos, The Failure of Nonviolence

The relationship between the Brazilian Republic, democracy, the coup d’etat, and authoritarian regimes is troubled and intense, but it helps situate us in our present context and the path that brought us here. When Dilma Rousseff was elected president in 2010, she was the only candidate to have a vice president from another party: Michel Temer, of the PMDB (Brazilian Democratic Movement Party). This is the largest party in Brazil; today it represents the center-right, with mostly conservative members.

Dilma’s maneuver was not something new, but a repetition of a tactic used by her predecessor. Lula had become famous as the first president with a working class background and a past as a union leader. However, he invited José Alencar, a wealthy businessman from a center-right party, to be his vice president. From the outset, the PT government sought to build an alliance between state, political, and economic elites and the aristocracy of labor unions and social movements.

The PMDB originated in the Brazilian civil-military dictatorship, when only two parties were allowed to exist. All other parties were prohibited and some of those on the left joined the armed guerrillas. The ARENA was the military party and the MDB was founded in 1966 as the only party to oppose the regime in a non-clandestine way. After the transition back to democracy, the parties ceased to be illegal. The MDB became the PMDB, and parties such as the PT emerged, along with its current greatest opponent, the PSDB (Brazilian Social Democracy Party).

Historically, the PMDB has had a privileged relationship with powerful groups, parties, and politicians. In 2016, Temer became the third PMDB politician to become president since the end of the dictatorship in 1985. Neither he nor his predecessors were directly elected by vote. The first was José Sarney, who took power when Tancredo Neves, the first civilian president elected by an indirect election after the end of the military regime, died of illness before taking office. The second was Itamar Franco, who took over the presidency in 1992 after Fernando Collor, the first democratically elected president, was embroiled in corruption scandals and subsequently impeached. Itamar then supported and guided his successor Fernando Henrique Cardoso of the PSDB, who was president from 1994 to 2001, just before Lula.

These episodes are enough to illustrate how messy and fragile the current Brazilian democratic era is. But we can go further and remember that it was a military coup that overthrew the Brazilian Empire and founded the first Republic in Brazil in 1889; and that we experienced two other coups in the 20th century, the first of which occurred in 1930. Of the eighteen presidents who have come to power in Brazil, only eight were elected, and only four completed their terms.

The coup d’état against the PT in 2016 follows a kind of “natural order” in Brazilian democracy, which always seeks to keep control of executive power in the hands of certain elites through non-democratic means.

Coups within the Coup: How the PT Has Improved the State’s Repressive Apparatus

Rio de Janeiro Integrated Command and Control Center (CICC).

To ensure that their economic development project was successful, the Lula and Dilma governments made huge advancements in forms of control and repression in the peripheries and against social movements. The federal government’s public safety policy is characterized by its dual maneuvers expanding the prisons and carrying out military occupations in the favelas. In 2014, Brazil’s prison population became the third largest in the world, with 570,000 prisoners, most of whom are black. During the PT administration, this figure increased by 620%.

The Pacifying Police Units (UPP) were deployed throughout 38 communities in the city of Rio de Janeiro. They do not intend to ensure the “safety” of the population; they were introduced to secure Brazil for mega-events including the Olympics and the World Cup. They are “coincidentally” situated in areas such as roads that connect airports to tourist districts and the region where World Cup and Olympic games are held. In 2016 and 2016, two separate studies by Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch concluded that this police force is the one of the most violent in the world.

The National Security Force was created in 2004 during the Lula administration. In 2010, the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the Armed Forces (EMCFA) was created, a post that was responsible for drafting the “Law and Order Guarantee Manual” (GLO) in 2013 to respond to popular uprisings taking place throughout the country. Their task was to secure the profits of national and international corporations during the mega-events. Under pressure from FIFA, the Dilma government implemented the World Cup Laws, criminalizing the street demonstrations, strikes, and movements against the World Cup.

For the World Cup in 2014 and the Olympics in 2016, the government built units of the Integrated Command and Control Center (CICC) in 12 cities. These units became centers where many different police and intelligence forces (Military Police, Civil Police, Federal Police and Intelligence Agency) came together to monitor and suppress demonstrators. The inauguration of the CICCs happened during the 2013 protests against the cost of public transportation and those that followed against the Confederation’s Cup. Its actions included monitoring crowds from surveillance cameras set up across the city as well as spying on individuals and groups. Disguised police officers infiltrated demonstrations and many undercover agents maintained friendships and relationships with activists in order to gather information.

The list of their operations is vast, but to conclude here, it suffices to mention that the last law implemented by Dilma before the impeachment was No. 13,260, the famous anti-terrorism law. In March 2016, giving in to international pressures from the G20, the UN, and the International Olympic Committee, the parliament and the federal government created a set of vaguely-worded laws that attacked the right to hold demonstrations and left open wide gaps for interpretation. Federal Citizen Rights Attorney Deborah Duprat said that according to the law, “we never know whether an object we carry can be seen as a tool for a terrorist practice. Even a box of matches can be framed as a weapon.”

The anti-terrorism law is described by many social movements and by other politicians as “the AI-5 of democracy,” as it targets movements and individuals that question or organize against the state’s measures. Between 1964 and 1969, the military regime decreed 17 so-called “Institutional Acts” to remove the rights and powers of citizens and institutions alike in order to concentrate even more power in the upper echelons of the state. These acts were considered “coups within the coup,” as they violated laws and rights guaranteed by the Constitution. In December 1968, the military regime decreed Institutional Act number 5 (AI-5), dissolving the National Congress and the Legislative Assemblies. This stripped hundreds of people of their political rights and formalized the State of Exception that was originally only supposed to last 180 days but ultimately lasted for ten years. In this period, real terror was used against the population, including press censorship, arrests, torture, murder, and the disappearances of thousands of people.

Crimes that became framed as terrorism by the new law included looting, vandalism, and arson; these were already considered crimes and did not need a new classification. The laws focus especially on communication and transportation infrastructure. This clearly targets the tactics of civil disobedience traditionally practiced by social movements: blocking streets and highways or occupying schools, universities, and other public buildings.

Carrying, storing, or using explosive or flammable materials may also be framed as a terrorist action. Creating such vague and broad terms for defining what is considered “terrorism” is a way to criminalize movements and minorities. Rafael Braga, a young black man who slept on the streets of Rio de Janeiro at the height of the 2013 demonstrations, offers an example of what happens when police and judges use their freedom of interpretation: Rafael was arrested on charges of carrying “possibly explosive” material because he carried a bottle of soap. In 2017, he is still fighting for his freedom, the only prisoner still incarcerated from the protests of 2013.

The economic crisis has not improved and the public security crisis has escalated to an absurd level. When Temer’s government sent in the army to occupy the streets of Rio de Janeiro in 2017, this represented a continuation of the PT government’s operations rather than a break from them. Dilma’s and Lula’s governments not only improved Brazilian capitalism, they helped form a whole security system dedicated to surveillance and repression. Along with the crisis, Mr. Temer inherited a new apparatus of laws, structures of control, surveillance and repression technologies that will now be used to contain the masses every time we organize and take to the streets.

The army in northern Rio de Janeiro, August 2017: Every favela is an occupied territory under a military dictatorship.]]

The 2016 coup required a series of other small coups against the rights of the working class, those on Brazilian peripheries, and social movements. Just as the 1964 military coup as not just a coup, the parliamentary coup that removed the PT from government is just one more iteration of a long series of authoritarian and exceptional measures.

“In truth, there is no fundamental difference between a dictatorship and a democracy. These forms of governments have all the same capacities for violence, repression, mass murder, torture, and imprisonment as their dictatorial counterparts. In moments of emergency, they can and do use this capacity.”

Peter Gelderloos, The Failure of Nonviolence

From the 2013 Uprisings to the Coup of 2016: How the New Right Rose

“The plague bacillus never dies or disappears for good; it can lie dormant for years and years in furniture and linen-chests; it bides its time in bedrooms, cellars, trunks, and bookshelves; and perhaps the day would come when, for the bane and enlightenment of men, it would rouse up its rats again and send them forth to die in a happy city.”

Albert Camus, The Plague

The social base of the coup: still loving the police.

The Streets in Dispute

During the June 2013 uprising, thousands marched uncontrollably, throwing stones and Molotov cocktails. Eventually, the demonstration surrounded and invaded the palaces that house the federal government’s legislative power and demanded the reduction of the bus tariff. The antagonism on the streets took autonomous forms all over the country, breaking the silence imposed by a decade of the Workers’ Party government. This struggle led to an unforeseen victory by new autonomous social movements on a national scale, with people organizing themselves in ways that outstripped political parties and unions, the traditional forms of organization typically used by movements. The disillusionment with democratic processes and the political class system as a whole was even stronger, indicating that this uprising offered a chance for new autonomous forms of organization and direct action to gain widespread popularity. Indeed, this was the chance many anarchists had been waiting for to disseminate their methodologies on a large scale.

For decades, government elites (including the political left and leftist unions) collaborated to decontextualize and delegitimize what it meant to “do politics.” The practice of doing politics, which had been confined to institutional practices, regained its original meaning: as people occupied the streets, with each gesture, with each choice, with each affect, they were doing politics. The demonstrations became a living body offering an intense and potent experience of collective construction. For many people who had never participated in a street protest before, this was the first time they moved beyond a position of “neutrality,” and the new positions they took were not necessarily coherent. There were dissonant voices expressing many different interests; some tended more towards dialogue, while others preferred confrontation and antagonism. The conservative elites in particular began to construct strategies to co-opt the masses and offer the solutions that many craved, such as those offered by the PT and the government. During that time, the streets become the stage for intense political disputes in Brazil once again, both for those who wanted social justice and for those who wanted a more totalitarian regime.

June 20, 2013: Banners against the PT government with a nationalist tone were seen at the first protests against the increase of the bus fare in São Paulo.

In 2005, a corruption scheme organized by the upper levels of the PT came to light, proving that it was just as corrupt as any other political party. This scandal permanently stained the party’s image. After winning the elections, Lula’s government did not have a majority in congress. To solve this problem, the party leaders decided to pay a monthly allowance (the so-called Mensalão) to the deputies so that they would approve laws favorable to the government. The scandal involved ministers, deputies, contractors, and businessmen and was widely used by the press to find ways to destroy support for the PT in the upcoming elections.

But the plan did not work. A new political contingent was enough to ensure Lula’s reelection in 2006: the poor and excluded classes that benefited from social programs in the government’s early years.

Having witnessed the failure of the 2005 Mensalão scandal to bring down the PT, those elites opposed to the PT realized that it was not possible to neutralize the party while it still had broad support from the poor classes and large social movements during favorable economic conditions. But the uprisings of 2013 showed that the PT no longer engaged in dialogue with rebel youth or the urban middle classes. The mainstream media used this opportunity to co-opt messages from street demonstrations and misrepresent popular unrest as directed against the PT specifically. At the same time, the economy was in decline and corruption scandals once again tarnished the party’s image in government. Then, in this favorable context, the right and the bourgeoisie understood that cooperation between the federal police and the judiciary investigating the scandals was necessary. The media was happy to help by supplying biased and manipulative coverage of the investigations. Another fundamental element was the new right-wing movement composed of young people who were aligned with national conservative parties and international neoliberal organizations. These movements were responsible for creating a new social base aligned with the interests of the right in order to build legitimacy for the coup and frame it as if it were a popular demand.

With all this in mind, we look at the 2013 and 2014 fights as an experience with mistakes and victories. Autonomist movements, the renewed leftist activists, and the new right wing movements underwent renovations and developments. Of all these, the right was the party that was strengthened the most. Autonomists (and anarchists) lost much popular appeal after 2013. Our successes strengthened the autonomous movements and piqued many people’s interest in anarchism. But we also made mistakes that paved the way for the regeneration of the right and conservatism. We introduced many new people to a different form of horizontal struggle that didn’t rely on political parties. But we failed to expand the struggle beyond reformist demands.

A new left gained strength, taking the opportunity to frame their rhetoric in a way that capitalized on popular social movements. Inspired by movements like 15M and the party Podemos in Spain (which was itself inspired by the origin of the PT), activist groups invited people who had no ties with parties to run for election in the legislative branch. In their speeches, they used the words that the autonomous movements made famous: horizontality, autonomy, and “no parties”—even when they temporary affiliation with parties to run for election. In Belo Horizonte, a group formed by intellectuals, university professors, young university activists, and cultural agitators was able to elect two city councilors, one of whom was the most voted-for candidate in the entire city. The political and representational crisis has given way to a recycling of the electoral discourse of those who want to occupy offices and control the state “in the name of the people.” With slogans like “let’s occupy the elections,” reformists showed that thirteen years of a government with a working class man and a woman as president had not been enough to teach them that systems of oppression cannot be changed by putting representatives of oppressed groups in control of them.

We also could not stop some of the people we had invited to the streets from being drawn in by right-wing rhetoric. With immediate proposals and narratives that stirred the fears and insecurities of the average urban citizen, the right drew millions into the streets to demonstrate against corruption—but only the corruption practiced by the Workers’ Party.

Conservatives of the World, Unite

In recent years, a worldwide trend has emerged in which right-wing movements gain popularity shortly after popular uprisings take place. From Brazil and Venezuela to Ukraine, from Greece to the United States, large waves of popular unrest have drawn people out into the streets. Demonstrations and occupations of public spaces have become an essential tool for anyone who wants to promote a cause or pressure rulers. We have observed that after many autonomous, radical, and horizontal uprisings, right-wing movements have been able to take advantage of popular revolt to go out into the streets to spread their agendas.

Right-wing protesters declare support for Donald Trump at the same time they attack Dilma Rousseff, October 2016.

In the case of Brazil, these new conservatives took advantage of a wave of protests that they did not themselves organize to create legitimacy for the coup. These groups fought for space in the streets and for the attention of the new generation of demonstrators as well as the media, and quickly began to organize their own protests to build a social base. From the outset, the new right has been backed by institutions such as parties and think tanks funded by the richest 1%—the national and international elite—to influence political processes around the world. We will talk a little more about the three main organizations that have been central to the Brazil’s new right wing.

The Vem pra Rua! (“Come out into the street!”) movement is headed by a millionaire investor who lived in the US and is connected to the youth of the PSDB, the right wing of bourgeois social democracy. Another prominent movement is the Revoltados Online, which only accepts Christians in its membership board, supports fascist politicians like Deputy Jair Bolsonaro (the “Brazilian Donald Trump”), seeks the return of military dictatorship, and makes money from the sale of anti-PT trinkets on the internet.

The largest and yet most obscure is the Free Brazil Movement (MBL). From the start, the group has sought to latch on to popular dissatisfaction: the name seems to be purposely created to sound similar to that of the MPL (Free Pass Movement). This is an attempt to create confusion in those seeking the networks of autonomous collectives and horizontal organizations that initiated the uprisings of June 2013. With young leaders, the MBL intends to encourage the “youth that left Facebook for the streets” to march on the streets for an “absolute free market,” privatization, and the end of social programs.

The Brazilian right wing chimaera.

The MBL was created in 2013 as the public face of the Students For Liberty (EPL) organization, founded in 2012 as a version of Students For Liberty (SFL) in the United States. Both are funded by the Atlas Network, a network of eleven right-wing organizations sponsored by the US oil tycoons, the Koch brothers. When EPL members wanted to participate in street protests, they had to create the MBL because US federal income tax (IRS) legislation does not allow foundations to participate in political demonstrations. According to its president, Atlas’ goal is “to fill the world with think tanks that defend the free market.”

Shortly after Dilma left, President Michel Temer invited the MBL to help with the government communications department and make the unpopular reforms affecting welfare and labor rights sound appealing. The MBL decided to move away from the government it helped create when it figured out that it would be impossible to cover up corruption scandals.

The strategies used by these right-wing movements closely resemble those used during Donald Trump’s campaign in the United States. The use of fake news, manipulated data, hate speech, and controversy to give prominence to an idol for Brazilian trolls mirror what happened in America.

The goal of these movements and the millionaires who finance them is to sideline genuine social movements, destabilize progressive governments, and pave the way for neoliberal policies. This cannot be understood without reference to the global geopolitical context. During the riots of 2013, Wikileaks leaked evidence that the Obama administration was spying on both President Dilma Rousseff and Petrobras, one of the largest state-owned oil companies in the world. Soon after the coup in 2016, the foreign minister of the Temer government began procedures to end Brazil’s mandatory oil exploration and to deliver Pre-Sal reserves to multinational corporations such as Chevron.

This can be understood in the context of the East-West clash over Brazilian oil. China, one of Brazil’s major economic partners in recent years, is pushing for access to reserves as companies and the US government turn their attention to South American oil firms. The Cold War is over, but international forces are vying for control over access to the country’s natural resources. Brazil’s colonial heritage has never ceased to depend on the sale of commodities and cheap labor to the foreign market.

Anarchists and other anti-capitalist resistance movements need to be aware of how these global disputes are fought in the territories where we are building resistance. The indigenous Zapatistas who took up arms in 1994 in Chiapas, Mexico knew they would be at risk, declaring independence in a land rich in natural and mineral resources that Mexican and US capitalists coveted. The same kind of challenge faces the revolution in Rojava in northern Syria as it takes up arms to end capitalism, patriarchy, and colonialism in one of the world’s most oil-rich regions. In Brazil, indigenous peoples such as the Mundurukus of Pará have offered examples of honorable resistance against the PT government’s genocidal economic development projects which include building eight hydroelectric plants along the Tapajós River, destroying communities, harming the environment, and threatening wildlife. The Mundurukus, a warrior people known as “head-cutters,” have already occupied and paralyzed the construction of the Belo Monte plant in the heart of the Amazon Forest twice and promise to wage war against the construction of the São Luís dam and the demarcation of its lands.

Global capitalism and its command centers clustered in the rich northern countries are willing to turn any territory from the global periphery into a farm to fuel their economies. In addition, they will not hesitate to neutralize popular organization when it threatens their interests. The ground we walk on, the biome in which we live, as well as our bodies, our desires, and our time—these are battlefields in which the same struggles play out between colonies and metropolises that characterize the history of Brazil. The greater their value to the market, the more intense the battle.

Episodes of Resistance

Since Michel Temer became president, he has been trying to run an economy in crisis and to deal with continual corruption scandals. In less than a year, he has been accused of passive corruption, obstruction of justice, and involvement in a criminal organization. Each move his government makes comes at the cost of the working and excluded classes to favor the elites: he forgave 500 billion Reais worth of entrepreneurs’ debts while at the same time proposing to reduce the minimum wage by 10 Reais in order to save 300 million Reais.

In any case, Michel Temer is increasingly politically isolated. Without popular support, his 4% approval rating is even worse than the 8% that Dilma hit just before she was impeached. But his government has yet to fall, because it serves the interests of the market and big corporations. His policy follows the laws of the “Shock Doctrine” manual developed by the Chicago School and its neoliberal gurus. Its main tenets are to implement reforms that reduce state services through privatization, extreme austerity measures, and suspension of laws that protect rights and the environment. One example is the government’s new attempt to give away natural and indigenous reserves in the Amazon to mining companies, a political project that would hardly receive public support in the polls, but is easily applied amid crises and catastrophes. The new president’s reforms are a desperate attempt to cater to the whims of the market while the right wing prepares for the 2018 elections.

Not surprisingly, since the new government’s first days, there have been several rounds of protest and resistance against the new president’s policies and measures. Some of these struggles have shown the desire to go beyond just making demands for small concessions from Temer’s government, instead staking their protests on the possibility of creating horizontal modes of organizing in which people take matters into their own hands. This was the case in the dozens of building occupations linked to the Ministry of Culture and in more than a thousand school occupations that took place in 2016.

First Fights and Victories

As soon as he took over as interim president in April 2016, Temer changed all the ministers and assembled a team composed exclusively of men. Nine ministries were done away with altogether, including the ones focusing on culture, women, racial equality, and human rights. Such maneuvers had not been seen since the dictatorship.

At that time, anarchists and autonomous movements were not as visible as they had been over the previous two years. Still, when it was announced that the Ministry of Culture would be eliminated, buildings related to it were occupied in 21 capital cities. People organized debates, concerts, and demonstrations of all kinds to pressure the government to recant.

After two weeks of occupations and protests, Temer took a step back and announced the return of the Ministry of Culture, but the occupations continued in many cities, hosting festivals and all kinds of political and cultural activity. This victory gave the movements the impression that the new government could be defeated in struggles for specific demands. Inspired by recent victories, homeless movements organized a protest on July 1 and occupied the building of the Secretary of the Presidency of the Republic in São Paulo, forcing the president once again to step back and reinstate funds he had tried to cut in housing programs.

September 7, 2016: We Have Never been Patriots

September is when patriots celebrate so-called independence from the Portuguese government which was proclaimed in 1822. But not everyone is in favor of this nationalist humbug. September 7 is not only independence day: since 1995, social movements have called it the Grito dos Excluídos (“Scream of the Excluded”) so that the day is also a day to give voice to popular dissatisfaction. Since the uprisings of 2013, demonstrations on that day have been growing increasingly combative. In 2016, after the coup, that day had a special flavor.

The revolt against the mega-events also continued at the end of the Olympic and Paralympic Games: the gringos were still returning home as 23,000 army soldiers and the National Guard returned control to the police in Rio de Janeiro after the number of police shootings doubled in the first week of the games. There were 95 shootings in Rio de Janeiro, where 51 were injured and at least eight people were killed by police during the three weeks of the Olympic Games (August 5-21). Any kind of demonstration or expression denouncing the impact of events was brutally suppressed from day one. Just 10 days after the Olympics ended, on August 31, the Senate voted for the departure of Dilma Rousseff, and Michel Temer was officially the new president of Brazil.

The World Cup and the Olympics are over, but the legacy of legal abuse, police violence, exclusion, and segregation remain under the shadow of the new regime. So it is not surprising that we also witnessed the biggest anti-government demonstrations since 2013: on September 7, there were protests in 24 states—in almost all of the capitals, including dozens of cities. The largest was in Salvador, where 15,000 attended. In these demonstrations, it was necessary to offer resistance to new government policies, but also against the effects of the policies that were established during the PT government. We had old and new reasons to rebel. On the banners in the streets we saw the demand “Direct Elections Now”—the famous slogan from the end of the dictatorship in Brazil—presented by people who wanted to vote for a new president after the impeachment of Dilma Rousseff.

There were clashes with authorities during the week before independence day marked by police violence, the arrest of journalists, and more demonstrators suffering permanent injuries because of less-than-lethal weapons. Leftist movements harassed and repudiated the presence of the black bloc in São Paulo as being “responsible” for the violent actions of the police. The black bloc tactic had become more common since 2014 and now reappeared in the street to respond to the new government policies, causing controversy. In São Paulo and Belo Horizonte, for example, anarchists and others marched in black bloc formation, but they did not attack the police or break anything. This showed that it was possible to march and demonstrate strength in numbers without necessarily acting “violently.” The anarchist presence was important because it emphasized that it would not be enough to say “Temer out,” but instead asserted that no government is an option and that direct and autonomous action—not the regeneration of democracy—remains our best weapon.

São Paulo, Septermber 1, 2016.

Occupying the Schools

The occupation strategy that spread in 2016 was inspired by the struggles of October 2015, when 200 schools were occupied by students throughout the state of São Paulo. Governor Geraldo Alckimin planned to close 94 schools, firing teachers and affecting the lives of about 300,000 students who would have had to study in overcrowded classrooms far from their homes. In response, on November 9, 2015, about 18 students occupied a school in Diadema, the metropolitan region of São Paulo. Two days later, police officers armed with machine guns attempted to enter the school but failed to force the students out of the buildings.

A few days after this, many demonstrations took place simultaneously, with many confrontations with the police on the streets and at the school gates. Within a month, 230 schools were occupied. Schools became real communes with students organizing themselves in cleaning, cooking, and safety committees. They received support from parents and the general public, and more than 1000 people volunteered to offer free classes and workshops on topics such as graffiti, gardening, health, and gender. Shows and festivals were organized in some buildings. Political parties and the student unions linked to them were prevented from participating: the occupations remained autonomous and horizontal. Following the occupations, the governor’s popularity hit a record low, the reorganization plan was repealed, and the Secretary of Education resigned.

After this partial victory, some groups decided to continue occupying some schools. At the beginning of December, 23 schools were already occupied in the state of Goiás, in protest against privatization and militarization. Inspired by students from São Paulo, they demonstrated that the next year was about to open with struggles initiated by an intelligent new generation. In the first semester alone, this new struggle emerged and occupations broke out in Goiânia, Belo Horizonte, Curitiba, Rio de Janeiro, and many other cities

At the end of 2016, schools took the center stage again. At the end of September, a few days after gaining office, the new government announced a constitutional amendment (PEC 55/241) that reduced the state budget ceiling for health and education for the next 20 years. One UN official described this measure as “the most socially regressive austerity package in the world.”

Initially, a new wave of occupations began in state high schools against cuts in social security and education. By the end of October, a further 1200 schools and 100 universities were occupied in 19 states. One of the highlights of this mobilization took place on November 29 when senators voted for the measure; about 30,000 students, workers, indigenous people and peasants from all over the country went to the capital Brasilia to protest and clashed with the police, burning cars and attacking the windows and the doors of the palaces. But it was not enough: the law passed. The government froze the education and health budgets for 20 years to calm the financial market.

Protesters use cars to block the police in front of the congress, on November 29, 2016.

General Strike: 2017 Reminds Us of 1917

Posters calling for the General Strike in Porto Alegre, April 2017.

Left-wing social movements and unions mobilized millions of people in an attempt to regain national influence by calling for action in March 2017 and a general strike in April. On March 15, a strike was called in 25 states, but it was not a general strike. On March 31, thousands took to the streets in 23 states against the rollback of labor laws and the outsourcing law proposed by the government of Michel Temer.

On April 28, 40 million people left work in 130 cities across the country in the largest general strike in decades. Workers in transport, banks, schools, universities, airports, commerce, and factories gathered on the streets of every state in the country along with student movements and homeless and landless movements. Protesters in Sao Paulo marched to the door of Michel Temer’s house, but were barred entry by police. Black blocs retaliated by scattering throughout the city to attack banks and shops.

The MST (Landless Farmworkers’ Movement) blocking a road in Brasilia.

Most of the people who took the streets had never participated in a general strike with so much support and mobilization. In 2013 and 2014, the waves of protest didn’t spread with as much force or as radical a critique. Anarchists seized the moment to refresh the country’s collective memory and commemorate the centenary of the First General Strike of Brazil in 1917—also known as the Anarchist General Strike. At the time, anarchist movements and unions were the largest effective political forces in the country. Previously, strikes had been limited to productive sectors or specific categories of workers. Workers in São Paulo fought against low wages, against the 16-hour workday, against meager wages for women and children. All of these struggles were common at the time, since there was virtually no labor legislation.

The strikes of 1917 began and then generalized after the death of Spanish cobbler José Martinez. During his funeral, 50,000 people ceased working and more protests took place. Days later, more protests, rallies, and looting helped increase support among workers and spread the strike across the country. Some demands were partly conceded, such as wage increases, the reduction of working hours, freedom of association, the end of night work for women, and the end of child labor.

The crowd during the funeral of José Martinez, 1917.

During the 1917 strike, direct actions were powerful and the confrontations were fierce. The death toll from repression is still uncertain, but there are indications that state forces murdered dozens or even hundreds of workers. After this period, the repression of revolutionary unionism, of anarchists and socialists was increasingly brutal. They even constructed a penal colony for political prisoners which operated for four years. Located in the middle of the Amazon rainforest and known as the “Brazilian Siberia,” Clevelândia was a concentration camp for all kinds of pariahs in society, but it was the main destination of anarchists and other rebels imprisoned under the regime of President Arthur Bernardes (1922-1926). Domingos Passos, a well-known black worker and Brazilian anarchist, Colombian writer Bólfilo Panclasta and many other famous names are some of the survivors of Clevelândia prison, where hundreds were taken to suffer torture, forced labor, illness, and death.

The 2017 strike was not as intense or as radical as the one a hundred years ago. It failed to make the government back down on its measures. But it reinforced the value of coordinated action between social movements and the importance of direct action. In this new century, anarchists have a long way to go to rebuild a tradition of struggle.

The Bullets of a Police State

The last example of a struggle against the new government and its policies we will address was the biggest and the most tragic. About 50,000 people went to Brasilia on May 24 to protest Mr. Temer’s departure. The occasion was yet another scandal: president Temer had negotiated bribes with the owner of JBS, the country’s largest meat company. This sparked the largest and most intense confrontation yet. Again, the biggest demand was that the president leave office and hold new direct elections. What attracted the most attention was the radical nature of the protests.

Protesters marched toward the police blockades protecting Congress around 1 pm. Members of unions tried to break the barricades and the police attacked with pepper spray. The presence of anarchists and the black bloc gave intensity to confrontations with the troops of Military Police and National Force that lasted more than an hour. The buildings of eight ministries were destroyed and two were set on fire; chemical toilets were turned into barricades while rocks, rockets, and Molotovs were hurled at the police.

Confrontations with Michel Temer and his police on May 24, 2017.

From the sound trucks, members of unions and parties asked the “masked comrades” to calm down. But when they realized that the police attack was not going to stop, they, too, started inviting people to resist. When the Ministry of Agriculture building was set on fire, ordinary police officers began firing lethal ammunition at demonstrators. A 64-year-old man was shot in the face and survived with the bullet lodged in his throat. A young man lost his hand due to the explosion of a police concussion grenade. At least 50 people were injured, five of whom had to be hospitalized. At least eight police officers were injured.

The Ministry of Agriculture building on fire.

Graffiti on the wall of the burning ministry: “General Strike!” and “Anarchist Latin America.”

Demonstrators inside buildings showing they understand that no one represents us.

In response, president Temer declared the demonstrations illegitimate and used the Law and Order Guarantee decree for the third time in his government. The decree, which can only be requested by the president, summoned 1300 Army soldiers and 200 Marines to protect the public buildings of Brasília for a week. After popular pressure from media, the opposition, and the members of the Court, the president revoked the decree the next day. The damage from the May 24 vandalism was estimated to be $360,000 (less than the $400,000 that one of the owners of JBS was reported to pay the president every month in tips).

The crowds were powerful and showed resistance. However, the state of exception quickly became the state’s go-to strategy, as the Armed Forces were called to take to the streets against an internal enemy just hours after police opened fire on demonstrators with lethal ammunition. Fortunately, no one died in the protests in Brasilia. All of this happened on the same day that an operation involving 30 people, including civilian police, soldiers, private security guards, and paramilitaries, invaded a farm occupied by landless workers in Pau D’arco, in the state of Pará. They tortured and executed at least 11 peasants and shot at least 14 in the operation. Extreme cases of state terrorism like this are becoming increasingly common in the country, showing that agrarian conflicts are worsening with the new government’s policies. To date, no police officer who shot protesters in Brasilia has been arrested; 13 of the police officers involved in the Pau D’arco massacre were not even prosecuted by the courts.

In the middle of the uprisings of 2013, we reported that in the city centers, the police use rubber bullets, but in the peripheries of the cities and the countryside, they use lethal ammunition. On May 24, 2017, we feel on our skin the proof that the bullets would be lethal anywhere that resistance arises against an increasingly permanent state of exception.

Solidarity and direct action.

Conclusion: Direct Action Now! New Terrains, New Fights

The terrain has shifted once again. The forms of struggle that movements have used against the new government show how tactics and strategies have evolved over recent years. We have seen innovations in Brazilian movements since the initial wave of 2013 and 2014. Autonomous movements have contributed to this tactical renewal, the greatest example being the school occupations. However, although it won some minor victories in government reforms in São Paulo, this was not able to stop the Temer administration’s amendments nor its austerity policies. A form of fighting might succeed for one year, but nothing guarantees that it will continue to serve in new contexts, regardless of how inspiring and powerful the initial experience was.

Still, occupation seems to be the tactic that has been most effective at producing a collective group of mutual support and autonomy. The fundamental principles of the student movement were the same ones that generalized in 2013: autonomous action, horizontal decision-making, and political unity of student parties and the movements linked to them. Yet the tactics that appeared during the occupations were diverse and quickly changed according to context in an unprecedented way. What began as a wave of discontent in social networks became a movement with marches and occupations that spread rapidly. In the middle of the struggle, it was common for people to leave the occupations to hold rallies, protests, and road blockades, and to organize public lessons and events in schools or on the streets. In 2015 and 2016, occupations succeeded in creating a new political space within schools, with students organizing classes, cleaning, gardening, cooking, resolving conflicts, and sharing methods of dealing with police violence, all while giving new use to a structure created to control and shape the new workforce. Even when our specific demands are not met, we can experience victory on occasions when self-determination and radical activities receive community support for maintaining space and resisting the police.

Students quickly recognized who was really on their side and who just wanted to capitalize on their struggles. The student unions that serve as an electoral platform for the youth of the parties were not able to take over the occupations and lead a peace-making dialogue with the government. Right-wing groups that tried to infiltrate schools to spread their agenda or to sabotage the occupations were banished and told never to return. It was necessary to occupy not only the physical structures but also the time and relationships that make those structures function. In establishing radical and horizontal relations, we demonstrated in practice that our goals and our ways of fighting for a better world can overcome the superficial polarization between left and right that dominates the press, social media and our daily lives.

There is tremendous revolutionary potential in occupying buildings and public spaces or any piece of land or capital infrastructure. In addition to disrupting and modifying the function of the tools of productive power and political oppression, using these structures to host our movements, even for a limited time, can be a great opportunity to nurture revolutionary forms of struggle and organization. This can jump-start the accumulation of experience, knowledge, and resources for future struggles. Some of the students who started school occupations in 2015 and 2016 had some contacts and influence from the 2013 autonomous movements, such as the MPL (the Free Pass Movement). But in general, the student movements did not succeed because of traditional movements or parties, nor even autonomous movements that had been organizing together for over a decade, which had been the foundation of the movement in 2013. The student movement was created by the power of imagination and innovation of young people aged 13 to 18, the majority of whom had never participated in any protest or social movement. It was the new blood and the capacity to imagine the unimaginable that made the movement strong and attracted solidarity from the whole country.

On the other hand, our newest political enemies, the conservative and neoliberal right, also benefitted from renewing their tactics. These forces were led by young people who were on the streets at the same time that we were in 2013. By using social media and building political alliances with international parties and institutions, they were able to gain influence by co-opting the discontent of the youth and the middle class. We have to overcome our own limits, but also to watch how rival movements are emerging in order to ensure that our tactics and visions will be more attractive than the promise of security and consumer prestige offered by the right wing.

Beyond Polarization

As the presidential elections of 2018 approach, parts of the left once again tried to sell us the image of Lula as the savior of the poor. Now more than ever, we need reject this kind of narrative. The PT is not a solution for the problems of capitalism. Elections will not guarantee us anything. The class reconciliation that the PT organized to keep the rich in charge of the economy and the parliamentary coup that subsequently toppled Dilma demonstrated beyond a doubt that the ballot is powerless when the oligarchy is determined to take over the State.

There is little difference between how the left and the right treat the poor: they both believe that the peripheries are havens of violence, trafficking, crimes, and disposable bodies. The only state institutions really present in those areas are the police and the army. The innovation of the PT and the Latin American left is to simultaneously combine armed repression with social programs. Programs such as the Bolsa Família are compatible with pacification and militarization operations in the favelas, a common form of preventive counterinsurgency. Social programs that include the poor in consumer society and police repression in the communities act in the same way as the movements that aim to prevent the poor from building autonomy apart from the state and the market. The Mexican government did the same thing when the Zapatistas built schools in poor cities: instead of building schools where there were none, the government decided to compete by building schools only in the same cities as the Zapatistas. They offered metal sheet roofs as an incentive to those families that chose to put their children in the state schools. Both the right and the left know that when you ignore poverty, this will ultimately give rise to organized uprisings.

The dividing lines between the right and the left hides what is similar in both of their political projects. The PSDB is usually seen as a right-wing project, on account of being the PT’s chief rival. But this polarization obscures the fact that there are far more similarities between these two parties than both would like to admit. Although the PT grew out of a movement with a broad popular support base, both had their origins in similar social-democratic projects and both ultimately became servants of the elites. The PT has maintained relations with social movements and trade unions, bringing them into its government, while basically remaining allied with the industrial elites of the Southeast of the country. However, it was former President Fernando Henrique who proposed implementing the income transfer programs that were later transformed into the Bolsa Família. In 2003, the PSDB published a formal complaint about having been prevented from participating in the XXII Congress of the Socialist International held in São Paulo. Even the most conservative of the right wing consider the PSDB to be the “left of the right.”

The same corruption was also present in leftist governments. The Lava Jato investigations (at the national level) and the Panama Papers scandal (on a world scale) show what anarchists have always tried to make clear: at their very roots, capitalism and the state are organized by corrupt authoritarian mafias. Their power and existence depend on illegal relationships, bribery, drug trafficking, tax fraud, and money laundering. They depend on these crimes much more than they depend on voting and democratic elections. In a country like Brazil, where elected governments have never been standard, where coups and dictatorships are the rule, this becomes more obvious. At the same time, this context can offer a fertile ground for fascism and state terrorism.

This leads us to other questions: what should we do when far-right discourses grow in a country in the midst of an undeclared civil war? We do not speak of civil war as a metaphor the way students of French philosophy like to. We’re speaking of a state of siege in the Third World, something that the rebels of the northern countries have only had a brief taste of. The Military Police of the state of São Paulo alone killed 459 people in the first half of 2017, the largest number in 14 years. In the same period of time in 2017, the police in the whole United States killed 624 people. There were more violent deaths in Brazil than in the 12 largest war zones in the world between 2004 and 2007. By 2015, the death toll in Brazil was higher than it was in the war in Syria. In August 2017, a corporate newspaper linked to media monopolies created a war editorial board to address the security crisis in Rio de Janeiro: “This is not normal,” journalists claimed while covering the conflict between warring factions and violence against the general population. This is likely the first newspaper in the world to create a war editorial board in a country that has not officially declared or recognized a civil war. If fascists take over the institutions that are already perpetrating extreme violence against the population, the results could be catastrophic.

Governments elected with left-wing programs and with the support of traditional social movements in Latin America are losing influence, giving way to alliances with new neoliberal forces that are in turn rejecting pacts with the left. Public opinion seems to be that democratic and electoral processes have already given the left a chance, which they squandered. Episodes like the impeachment in Brazil may just be the first step of a right-wing breakthrough that will last for years to come. Neoliberalism won a battle by carrying out the coup that took the PT out of the presidency, but the 2018 presidential elections will see the right wing seeking to consolidate its return by selling its project at the polls. The biggest name of this new face of neoliberalism is perhaps João Dória, the mayor and “CEO” of São Paulo. But there is also Jair Bolsonaro, the deputy and military officer who supports the Brazilian and Chilean dictatorships and argues for using torture and the death penalty. He has already stated that if he is elected, congress will be dissolved and there will be a coup. Bolsonaro is in second place in the polls with 16% of voter support, only behind Lula. The notoriously racist, homophobic, and sexist military that he has promised to use is a great threat to all minorities and social movements, as he proposes to declare war on such groups in order to end indigenous territories and quilombolas. This is another example of hate speech and Brazilian fascism that the right wing cultivated during the protests demanding Dilma’s impeachment.

When hate speech is used against minorities and impoverished peoples that benefit from social programs, a considerable portion of society agrees with conservative leaders and their demand for a police state. In this situation, anarchists face the challenge of showing that there are other possibilities.

It is clear that the movements that support such candidates have already given up on the possibility of building collective power. These movements want to hand over control of the political institutions to dictators like the ones who took office in 1964. With each crisis and scandal, these institutions become stronger and stronger. A dictatorship can be worse than a democracy; an explicitly neoliberal government that comes to power by using a state of exception could be even worse than the PT’s social democracy. But we must not leave any doubts: we are against both.

The real opposition of forces in our society is not just right against left, or social democracy against neoliberal imperialism. These are shallow oppositions that create false dichotomies between groups that have common origins and similar agendas, groups that work together to maintain the control and privileges of the same classes of rulers and entrepreneurs. The only opposition that can make any difference in social struggles is the one between governments and the freedom of all people; between control and self-determination; between representation and autonomy; between hierarchy and anarchy. In a time when it is normal for middle-class youth to feel that being rebellious is primarily a right-wing tendency, the question is how to take part in the social and political struggles of our time in a way that establishes our position as anarchists who are against any kind of government.

Direct Action Now!

In response to the posters calling for “Direct Elections Now,” we assert that our best option is still to take direct action now! To occupy, to riot, to plunder, to organize ourselves to build economic and political structures that guarantee autonomy. At the same time, we must try to spread tactics, strategies, and objectives that strengthen us as a community and release us from the control of the state and the market.

The relationship between direct action and radical politics is not always obvious. As anarchists, we must strive to make this relationship explicit whenever possible. Parties and movements emerged after 2013 with the idea of restoring electoral politics and putting “real representatives” from minorities into government. They did this using slogans like “horizontality,” “autonomy,” and “no political parties.” These words became famous because they were the fundamental principles of the autonomous movements that started the uprisings in 2013. Just as Syriza started small and gained support as the only party that did not condemn the violent protests in Greece in 2008, these movements used the same terminology that became popular with the new political actors in the streets of Brazil, the newly politicized parts of the population. Soon “occupy everything” became “Occupy the Elections.” Social movements tend to rely on what is familiar when they address themselves to public opinion, for fear of isolating themselves as “too radical.” Even anarchists do so when they use democratic discourses and methodologies such as “direct democracy,” as if this would necessarily lead to anarchy one day. Relying on what is familiar, they embrace a populist tone that is easily digested, and forget that if acracy (lack of coercive power) were the same as demo-cracy (the coercive power of one group or majority over the rest), we would not need two different words.

We understand that not everyone will choose to struggle against the government and capitalism in a radical way. We need to learn how to engage with and even fight side by side with reformers and those who support governmental parties like the PT. But we cannot forget our position, nor should we fail to point out the systemic and historical problems with the institutions we fight. When we perceive a crisis of representation, we must use this opportunity to promote disbelief in politicians and their institutions as a whole, rather than looking for ways to take over their positions in order to regenerate bourgeois democracy. If we cannot win victories by presenting demands, we should at least take advantage of street protests and conflicts with the authorities to occupy spaces in which we can work with others to develop revolutionary social skills.

No one said this would be easy, or that only a few demonstrations would destroy the state and capitalism. We cannot expect to repeat 1917 or 2013 just by imitating what has worked in the past. We may not be able to do much to influence when major upheavals will happen, but we can always be prepared for when they do. As the movements against rising public transportation fares in 2013 showed, the system learns to deal with new forms of struggle. We have to constantly outmaneuver the state in order to stay ahead of the process of cooptation. They will give us reforms to calm our anger and draw us out of the streets; they will listen to our opinions and even accept some of us into their governments so that we will feel that the system represents us as well. But we should not content ourselves with inclusion or reform. Our goal is to occupy, resist, and organize ourselves to increase our power collectively against all forms of control and oppression. Whether it is an elected government or a government implemented by a coup, no government is an option—no government is legitimate in our eyes.

Dictatorships are worse than democracies, just as coups are worse than elections. But whatever the scenario, we must be ungovernable.

  1. Venezuela, Bolivia, and Ecuador chose the “Bolivarian” way—a combination of anti-imperialist, anti-neoliberal, and anti-oligarchic positions.

  2. For more details on the current imperialist maneuvers of the gringos, see the military doctrine of the Hybrid War.

  3. Within the Hybrid War, the term for this strategy is Color Revolution, such as the political destabilization that happened Ukraine.

Tags: BrasildemocracyCrimethinc.category: International
Categories: News

The ZAD Will Survive

Tue, 03/13/2018 - 00:23


This text was written by one of the zad’s affinity groups, the CMDO, and 10,000 copies were handed out in a large format newspaper version for the victory celebrations on the 10th of February 2018 on the zone and beyond. It attempts to clarify some of the confusion about what is happening on the ZAD at the moment and present a strategic vision of where next now that the struggle against the airport has been won and the second season of struggle begins.

“There will be no airport at Notre-Dame-des-Landes”—we’ve said it so often, a way of demonstrating our stubbornness and of transforming it into a prophecy. On the 17th of January, the statement was scrawled as headlines across an entire country. Today it seems such a simple phrase, but one that signifies an historic event without parallel in the last 40 years: the first major political victory of an entire generation. Our present is so bereft of wins, one would have to go all the way back to the Larzac [1] peasants’ struggle to find an equivalent. Yet even this would make a poor comparison, since today’s victory was won against a succession of hostile governments, without a single politician ever having subsumed the abandonment of the airport within their own agenda.

Moreover, it was achieved without any excessive pacifism, something journalists haven’t failed to emphasize referring to the ZAD’s emblematic status as a “lawless” zone, and to its fierce defense (against the attempted evictions) in 2012 [2]. It would be a mistake to believe that just stones and barricades made it possible to win. Yet it is their usage that made the decision to abandon the project as inevitable as it was difficult for Macron to swallow. “Ceding the ZAD to the radicals”—was how editorialists reproached the President, obscuring an entire movement of struggle that has battled for half a century, using all forms of resistance, legal and illegal. To avoid humiliation, the State put on a rickety performance: the first act was a mediation, then a slew of meetings with local elected officials, and finally the pantomime of an aborted eviction to make everyone forget all its threats, disavowals, and renunciations and to stifle the “yes” victory of its 2016 referendum [3] — in short, to forget the scandalous nature of the thrashing it’s taken. Despite all this effort, our victory sparkles within the media and political garbage dump. It only had to say two short words: “So there!”

How good these words feel, particularly in an era where everything leads us to believe that it is useless to fight. Their insolence is proportional to the pressure weighing constantly on the bocage [4] for almost a decade, or within the demonstrations in cities across France. On the 17th of January, the messages we received from all across Europe testified to the ZAD’s emblematic character, a function of its longevity and consistency, it’s capacity to aggregate and audacity. But what touched us even more were the accolades from the elders seated inside the barn at La Vacherit, those who had won their struggles against the Nuclear Power stations projects at Pellerin, Carnet, and Plogoff, [5] and who toasted to the return of the healthy climate of fear in the minds of the powerful, those who are once again concerned about not being able to spread their megaprojects across this country.

However, it isn’t simple to win. Particularly when we consider that, with a virtually unanimous lust for revenge, journalists, elected officials and entrepreneurs all agree that if the State was to abandon this airport project, it must at the very least get rid of the “Zadists” in the process. The task consists in applying whatever pressure they can, in the hopes of isolating the illegal occupants from their neighborly comrades, be they farmers, naturalists or unionists. It began with the Prefecture (the local ministry of interior) putting pressure on us to dismantle everything obstructing the D281 road, under threat of an immediate police intervention the scope of which was deliberately left hazy. Police checkpoints were set up nearby, with gendarmes stopping vehicles in villages adjoining the ZAD. This injunction had something comical about it, given that it came from the same Police Department that had closed the road in 2013, only to find it swiftly reopened by the movement. But this road wasn’t simply a road, it was a symbol. It is charged with our history, with its poetic chaotic chicanes [6], its drawings carved into the roads surface, the brambles reclaiming the tarmac, its improbable uses and the disagreements it periodically produced between us. For even if it was open to traffic, it wasn’t always easy to navigate, particularly for the farmers who sometimes struggled to get their agricultural vehicles through. It also generated a degree of anxiety and resentment on the part of some locals, due to the occasionally hostile behavior of those defending the barricades, and many eventually resigned themselves to no longer using it. Once the airport abandonment was announced, it became impossible to continue to forcibly defend the chicanes. Moreover, the villagers had decided in favor of its total reopening, with a large part of the movement deeming the gesture necessary to be in a position to maintain a fight for the future of the ZAD. So the State tried to play on this point of discord to avoid losing face. Many of us felt that if we didn’t reopen the road, the promised intervention was likely. It would have offered the government the narrative it had dreamt of: the infamous “50 radicals” that the media were having a field day with, on the barricades, refusing to engage with the issue and cut off from the rest of the movement.

It could have served as an ideal pretext for arrests or evictions of some of the dwellings. In the days following the announcement of the abandonment, the clearing of the D281 would become the focal point around which one of two possibilities was going to play out: either the final breakup of the movement, or the possibility of seeing it grow and continue beyond the 17th of January. Should one risk losing everything–the experiment of the ZAD, being united in defense of our squatted land, a common future with the other components of the movement [7] — for the sake of a symbol? It was decided in an assembly that, no, we could not, yet without really reaching consensus. Some people took the decision really badly, and it involved long discussions, often turning to outright shouting matches, to finally dismantle the two cabins that stood in the roadway. One is being reconstructed in a field bordering the D281; but the tensions around the road and resurfacing work remain.

However, what mattered for the immediate future was that this dismantling was an occasion to renew the portentous promise made by all: if we find ourselves again in imminent danger of eviction, everyone commits to showing up and re-barricading all the roads into the ZAD, and as often as necessary. This is how the movement responds shrewdly to both its internal dissensus and to power, for which, in turn, the D281 can serve as a symbol for declaring a “return to law and order.” A false symbol, since the zone remains occupied, but a sufficient lure in order for the State to accept entering into negotiations over the future of the site. As far as we are concerned, this difficult episode nonetheless further proves the will of folks who are not themselves occupants of the ZAD to commit to continuing with us after the abandonment. It was by no means a certainty, given that for some the original objective of the struggle has now been achieved, and even less so when human relations become so tense. But the continued presence of these comrades indicates, more than ever, the desire for a common future. This seemingly improbable desire has taken shape over years of shared dangers and difficulties, of building and planting things together, of sharing feasts and partying. So many sensitive experiences, all of which have turned the ready-made politics of all the movements participants upside down and pushed them to overcome their comfort zones and boundaries. So many ways that show our refusal to simply resign ourselves to a return to normality. Nevertheless, the desire to continue the struggle beyond the airport must not be taken for granted. It involves a very delicate balance that we must tend to and this is what will now drive the struggle.

Although we are not used to winning, we weren’t at all caught short by our victory against the airport. A few years ago we had a a fundamental intuition: victory is something that is constructed. This conviction was set in motion at the end of Operation Cesar [8], and embodied a rupture. We didn’t have to make up what we wanted to pull off as went along, because the text “Six Points for the Future of the ZAD” [9] declared it as early as 2015. It was a fundamental shift: from a struggle against a megaproject, we were slowly moving towards a struggle to sustain and amplify what we had built on this land through resisting, and since the 17th of January, this is the common horizon that we share.

To get there, from now on, the fact that it has been admitted that we were were right, means that we can use this legitimacy. This has a number of consequences. For example, the unconditional defense of an amnesty for all the anti-airport movement’s resisters. But also, and above all, a simple principle: those who enabled this territory not to be destroyed are likewise in the best position to take charge of it.

The end of the Declaration of Public Utility on the 9th of February turns the status of the ZAD’s lands on its head. Out of the 4077 acres earmarked for the airport, 1111 acres have been been cultivated for a long time by resisting farmers intending to recover their rights, whilst the movement wrenched 667 acres from the management of the Chamber of Agriculture to carry on collective agricultural experiments. 1309 acres of land are temporarily redistributed to farmers who signed an amicable agreement with Vinci [10]. As such, they had been financially compensated and obtained plots of land outside of the zone. Yet they continue to exploit and collect the Common Agricultural Policy on the lands they ceded to Vinci on the zone, thereby having their cake and eating it. The most greedy may, from now on, claim priority on future leases and take advantage of the hard fought over land preserved by the movement to enlarge their farms. Moreover, the former owners who were part of the struggle and who refused any agreement with Vinci will be able to recover their expropriated properties and choose to give it over to conventional use or to a more collective use by bringing them into a common property entity. The battle for the land will therefore be at the heart of this struggle for the months and years to come.

The burning challenge now is our ability to collectively manage as much of the land as possible, without the movement splitting apart. If the territory of the ZAD becomes too fragmented, it will sap the common force that simmers here, leaving only scattered individuals or groups, each pursuing their own objectives. It’s not hard to imagine that the most isolated could end up evicted, and that others would be forced to, bit by bit, return to the economic frameworks that the ZAD has so successfully managed break apart. A large portion of the land could return to productivist forms of agriculture with little concern for the harmonious balance discovered here between our human activities and the care of the bocage. And of course it would be the conventional agricultural institutions that would take back control of them. That is why from this spring onward, we will have to continue to occupy new plots and install projects on them which fight against the greed of the “cumulards” [11] and the arrogance of those in power who have threatened to evict our living spaces after the 1st of April.

This is why we aim to bring together all the land of the ZAD into an entity that issues from the movement of struggle. The decision to give it a legal form was the culmination of discussions between the various elements of the movement and the assembly. It was the choice that allowed us, all together, to reconcile each other’s objectives, and thereby maintain some bargaining power for the future. This entity would aim to encompass the swarming abundance which charaterises the ZAD, in order to maintain its richness, and be a mantle under which its can continue to go beyond its margins of invention and freedom. It would only be a structure, and one that was of course the most coherent as possible with our desires. Now and as always, the key will still in the way we inhabit, both this structure and within this territory.

This choice to head towards a legal base was counterintuitive for many people here, challenging many of the occupants deeply held political convictions. It forced us to seriously ask ourselves what do we really hold dear. What will allow us to sustain all our activities and living spaces in the future? We are fairly certain that these complex questions won’t be resolved by mistrustful tirades about the alleged treason of this or that person, nor by a radical fatalism about the sanitized future to come. Neither can we be content with self-fulfilling prophecies that tell us that ‘all experimental communes end up crushed or reintegrated into society.’ To the contrary, we think that in this moment of dramatic change, it is a matter of recognising what will best allow us to remain faithful to the promises about the future we’ve made to each other every step of the way. The gamble we’re engaged in is a long way from being won. It requires an unprecedented level of trust between us, between the various components of the movement, between everyone involved. I requires trust in our goals, our practices, and in the respect we hold for one another. Such trust is a rare thing nowadays.

We’re well aware that any legalization obviously carries risks of normalization. However, what we are considering takes the opposite path: to create precedents that continue to push the threshold of what institutions can accept, in the hope that these wedges driven into the rigidity of French law serve many more beyond us in the future.

It is because we accept this hypothesis that we’ve decided to go ahead and defend our vision of the future of the ZAD in the face of the State, through a joint delegation comprised of all the elements of the movement. This is far preferable to allowing separate negotiations, which could end up pushing those who attend to defend singular and, at times, divisive interests. The delegation would be the expression of the assemblies of the movement, who would continue, in parallel fashion, to carry out whatever actions necessary to secure all that the negotiations cannot get us.

The wood burner made out of an old hot water tank fails to warm the air in the Wardine’s main hall [12] . A hundred people begin to settle into the space, some on sofas, others on benches. Behind the circle – come – oval, the spray painted murals makes it feel more like a punk concert than an assembly. It’s a small but colorful crowd of diverse ages, dress and lifestyles. A farmer speaks. Her farm is about thirty kilometers away from the ZAD. However, when she speaks of the zone’s 4077 acres, one would think she was born here and that she intended to finish out her life here. Such is the way she speaks of this place, so precious to her. .

It is often said “the land belongs to those who live on it”, a way of signaling our rupture with the technocratic whims of the State. But it’s more than that in this case. It belongs to a movement, not through ownership, but via struggle.

And since the decision to abandon the airport was announced, the assembly hall is always full, filled by those who form the heart (not legal, but real) of the entity that we desire, and which will fight so that the forms of life that we have built here last and deepen. Forms of life that depend of ways of sharing that, to say the least, are not the norm.

If there exists a place where the ownership of capital is not a source of pride and valorization, it is surely this zone. Many things are free here; you can use tractors, tools or books without ever reaching for your wallet. This doesn’t mean that, like anywhere else, there isn’t any money circulating. But it’s the use made of it and its symbolism, that differs: we would want that paying for something is not an easy reimbursement for a lack of involvement in common life, a way of exempting oneself. If there is little money here, there is however a fierce daily fight against the economic logic that wants to measure the value of every gesture. Instead, we are trying to replace it with our bonds, our attachments, our trust in each other, and a certain sense of commitment. Scrupulous reciprocity is not required because exchanges are not thought of exclusively at an individual scale, but at the level of the whole territory. If the baker gives a loaf to someone who’s part of the ZAD’s social rap project, he doesn’t calculate how many verses his flour is worth. No accounting for services rendered has ever been written down. Obviously, nothing guarantees us that everyone is playing the game; it’s both a gamble and a question of balance. The care we bring to the quality of our relationships, our insistence on maintaining common perspectives, this is what wards off the economy, not banishing every last euro…

This is how we approach production, as well as space: the meadows, the forests, the bakeries, the workshops …all as commons. This isn’t to say that everything belongs equally to everyone. Those who have built things, who maintain or regularly uses spaces, who plan on staying here for many years, obviously they don’t have the same weight when deciding what will happen here. Use serves to prevent chaos from taking the place of ownership. At the same time, the movement deploys its inventiveness to ensure that the needs of newcomers trying to get involved are addressed. The battle ensuing today is not only a fight for the land, but above all for a way of living in common, which gives a whole new meaning to the idea of work or activity. And in so doing it far exceeds the 4077 acres of the ZAD.

A few months ago, while passing along the Suez path [13], one could hear songs ringing out in Basque, Breton, Italian, Occitan, Polish, and even sometimes in French. They emanated from the site of the Ambazada, a new building destined to become the ZAD’s embassy for struggles and peoples from around the world. The idea had its origins in the Basque support committee, who organized several “brigades” to come and participate in the building’s construction alongside occupants of the ZAD. Groups will be able to spend several days or weeks there, talk about their struggles, and get organized with us whilst having a drink at the bar. In this way, we will be able to deepen the coordination across the various territorial struggles that have formed over the past years, making us stronger, more numerous, and better organized wherever a development project threatens our lands.

These last weeks, we’ve heard a lot of talk of the ‘pacification of the ZAD’, and of its future as an ‘alternative agricultural zone’. It no longer makes sense to struggle anymore, they say, since the airport has been canceled. Others say that Notre-Dame-des-Landes could become a base of material support for other struggles, since the front line no longer exists. For our part, we prefer not to oppose front and base, as the two are intimately related here. It is the combination of the combative traditions of the local farmers with the foundation provided by the ZAD that enable a significant yield to be produced and taken to Nantes to feed the picket lines. It is this same cross-fertilization that will bring its energy to the forests of Bure [14], to the free neighbourhood of the Lentillères [15], to the hills of Roybon [16] or the causse [17] of Saint-Victor. In the same vein, the material force of the ZAD (carpentry workshop, flour mill, forges, cannery, pirate radio, marquees, sound systems, seeds and bulldozers…) is constituted and growing thanks to the support of the farmers and workers engaged in struggle. You cannot untangle it all and so much the better. Holding onto and densifying these bonds shelters us from either a pacified agricultural future or a radical marginalised zone. It is and always will be the flows and exchanges that prevents the ZAD from closing in on itself. The more it lives, always welcoming, curious and adventurous, the more the reality of its territory spreads beyond its perimeter.

Beneath the eaves of the barn of the future [18], as night falls, we prepare the zbeulinette, a kind of convertible caravan containing a thousand and one wooden storage compartments, that fold out and becomes our new vehicle for our presence in the struggles in the city of Nantes. Laden with food, drink, music and books, it erupts into the middle of Nantes’ Haussmannian boulevards. It is not a caravan of support, for we are intrinsically caught up in most of the struggles it supplies. Tomorrow, it will spread its wings at the university. It is dawn, we are in the car park, groups of folk pile up the materials needed for building barricades: a lecture hall and the rector’s castle [19] are occupied by students and undocumented migrant minors.

We deploy our trailer, its tables and sound system. The ten crepe hotplates it was hiding begin to smoke in the icy air. The buckwheat crepes of the ZAD are notorious since the movement against the labour laws.20. Young people quickly gather round , commenting on the the crepe-makers dexterity. Do they know what it took to transform this flour into crepes? Repairing the agricultural machines, the common work days in the fields, harvesting, milling – It doesn’t really matter, what’s important is that hunger is satisfied, that the warmth soaks into their bodies.

Nowhere else in the country is there a place quite like the ZAD, somewhere that gathers so many material capacities oriented towards struggle. It is the heart of a real material circulation but also that of ideas and imaginings, and of the craziest projections. The temporal and material foundations that are so lacking in our struggles could take root in the next few months and take the thousands of activities that exist on the ZAD to a whole new level, allowing these projections to be concretized. To construct a workers’ hamlet with our unionist comrades (respecting the architectural style of the ZAD!), to make the existing residents both more welcoming and more wild, to graft orchards into all of the hedges of the bocage, to set up a health center, to launch a learning herd as a school for livestock farming, to build a home for the elders, to grow the library, to install Turkish baths, to bring lands outside of the ZAD into its framework, to expand the supply network for struggles regionally and even nationally, to get hold of a printing press… These few thousand acres inspire a long list of desires within us. It’s also open to yours: the plots of land we will occupy in the spring are awaiting projects, agricultural and otherwise.

It is difficult to foresee all the upheavals that the airport’s abandonment will bring about. A season has just come to a close, without another having begun. These times to come must be grasped, constructed and invented, and we will shape these metamorphoses with our dreams.

Meet us here from the 31st of March in case of an eviction threat, and in the Spring to plan the future of our new lands!
By the residents of le Moulin de Rohanne, la Rolandière, les 100 noms, la Hulotte, Saint-Jean du Tertre, les Fosses noires, la Baraka and Nantes brought together in the CMDO (Conseil Pour le Maintien des Occupations).
To write to us:

A pdf of the text in english to print out ZAD Will Survive EN-PDF

1. The Larzac struggle involved farmers and post 1968 activist resisting the extension of an existing military base in South Western France. It lasted from 1971 to 1981, and ended in victory when the newly elected President François Mitterrand abandoned the project.
2. In 2012, thanks to the diversity of tactics and mass popular support the government failed to evict the zone despite thousands of gendarmes and more than a month of conflict on the zone. For an english account see this blog by the Laboratory of Insurrectionary Imagination.
3. In February 2016 without any warning the President announces that a local referendum will take place in June. What is largely seen as a ‘fundamentally biased’ consultation, results in a wins by 55% in favour of the airport.
4 . A little used term in English, a ‘bocage’ is a landscape that merges agriculture, in the form of grazing pastures and more ‘natural’ landscapes of forest and thick hedgerows enclosing a mosaic of small fields.
5. This region is the only one in France with no Nuclear power stations, thanks to popular resistance in the 70s and 80s.6. Half barricades that force cars to take a double-bend to slow down.
7. We call the richly diverse ecology of the movement a Composition. From the French verb “composer,” which can mean to arrange, to constitute, or to compose in the case of music. Here, the composants, literally “components,” are those who take part in the most partisan sense of the phrase. We’ve rendered it variously as “elements” or “participants” of the movement.
8. The name given by the police for their first eviction operation, which failed. A reference to the fact that we are in Brittany, the land of Asterix !
9. For the six points in english see this this web page.
10. The Multinational Corporation who were to build and run Nantes new airport.
11. “Double-dippers.” In this instance, those who have ceded their lands to Vinci for a profit and then try to collect more money on other lands saved by the movement.
12. One of the large farmhouses on the ZAD used for meetings and concerts.
13. One of the country lanes that cuts across the zone.
14. Where a struggle against the construction of Frances main nuclear dump is taking place.
15.Squatted market gardens in Dijon resisting development .
16Occupied forest against the building of a Centre Parks leisure centre.
17. An Occitan word meaning limestone plateau, which are common in south-central France and where a giant transformer for industrial wind farms is being resisted.
18. Built by 80 traditional carpenters in the summer of 2016, this majestic barn is becoming the central wood workshop with saw mill, cabinet making and carpentry machines and tools available etc.
19. An ancient castle on the grounds of the university that was the old rectory and was squatted to house undocumented minors.
20. In May 2017 a vast movement against new labour laws shook France, with mass strikes, riots and the ‘nuit debout’ assemblies.

Tags: ZADsuccessFrancepoliticscategory: International
Categories: News

Greece: police raid three anarchist squats in Athens

Tue, 03/13/2018 - 00:19

From Freedom News UK

World, Mar 12th

At early hours of Monday, a coordinated police operation to clear out three anarchist squats in central Athens has resulted in arrests and evictions of the properties.

The three raided squats are Gare, Zaimi in Exarcheia and Matrozou. Matrozou residents have put up a fight, and as a result, 12 people were arrested and are facing charges for explosives possession.

The squats were attacked by the police in the past: Gare was recently evicted, only to be resquated a few days later. This time riot police units were stationed outside the squat buildings to prevent their reoccupation.

A Greek anarchist, who prefers not to be named, speaking to Freedom News commented:

Syriza has closed the double amount of squats than the ultra right-wing Samaras government, which made a point of attacking anarchist squats. When Samaras administration was evicting squats, Syriza MPs were protesting, and now they are more aggressive than their hard right predecessors. The timing suggests that Syriza is trying to play the two extremes narrative, as few days ago they moved on the extreme right, busting some combat18 neonazis with 50 anfo [anfo= ammonium nitrate: an explosive substance]. The police alleges that the evicted squats are behind a number of attacks that have been happening in Greece, especially lately, during the anarchist prisoner Konstantinos Yiatzoglou hunger and thirst strike.

Greek anarchists called for a meeting at the Athens Polytechnic tonight in order discuss their response to today’s raids.


Photo: Zaimi Squat, source: Squat Net

Tags: Greecesquatsanarchists in troubleRepressioncategory: Actions
Categories: News

Anews Podcast – episode 54

Mon, 03/12/2018 - 15:49

Welcome to the anews podcast. This is episode 54 for March 9, 2018. This podcast covers anarchist activity, ideas, and conversations from the previous week.
Editorial:On Language, PC and not
TOTW: Waking the Dead

This podcast is the effort of many people. This episode was
* sound edited by Linn O'Mable
* written by jackie
* narrated by chisel and a friend
* the music is tba
* the editorial is by chisel
* Thanks to Aragorn! and Ariel for their help with the topic of the week
* Contact us at

To learn more
Introduction to anarchism:
Books and other anarchist material:
News and up to the minute commentary:

note: there has been some controversy over a misunderstanding re: wording last week. it could be cleared up by understanding "role as" to mean the same as "response to."
speaking of language...

Tags: podcastlanguagemourninganarchist ritualscategory: Projects
Categories: News

Anarchists Poster: RIP UP 35th AVE!!

Mon, 03/12/2018 - 15:18

via pudget sound anarchists

Whose street?
No street!
Tear up the concrete!

Earlier this month I noticed a flier, appearing in store windows that with a red background and white text declared, “SAVE 35th AVE” complaining about the purposed loss of some street parking due in a new infrastructure development project that planned to make this aforementioned Ave safer and more accessible. I spend a lot of time walking around in this particular neighborhood in the greater Seattle area so I can observe trends in street outreach pretty easily. A few days went by, maybe even a week, and then I noticed a new flier; I noticed a flier with a green background and white text with a playful retort, “SAFE 35th AVE” that championed the new developement plan as a move towards a safer and more accessible 35th Ave.

the rival fliers on a bulletin board

These two campaigns continued to escalate with rallies and the like. The playful greens escalating the most with biking campaigns, accident statistics posted at intersections, and even paint and sticker campaigns.

I was enjoying watching the escalations and moves and counter moves each day as I went about my day, but then one day all the fliers were torn up and the public space seemed empty and less colorful. The red signs remained behind their glass in storefronts, but only tatters of the green posters remained.

Then after talking to some friends about it, we had a great idea. Let’s start our own playful poster campaign! And thus “RIP UP 35th AVE” was born. With a black background and white text, anarchist and neo-luddite messages and jokey plays on the statist assumption that anarchy means no one will be able to construct roads are going up all over 35th filling the once dull public space.

With the revival of the SUV we also took shots at cars in general and liberal hybrid, Tesla, and SUV drivers who feel superior to people driving old scrappy trucks when the liberal hybrid, Tesla, and SUV driver’s are clearly the worse polluters. We traced the dots between oil Dependant lifestyles to wars for oil and terrorist blowblack as well as to the obvious ecocide. Though we also tried to make it clear that it is the ruling class who mainly produces these lifeways and not necessarily the consumers who are mostly at fault.


A headline ripped out and displayed in an issue of Do or Die

With some Portland anarchists filling up pot-holes we felt it fair to revive the green anarchist tradition of attacking roads themsleves, along with railways and shipping routes, since they are like the veins of capitalism and techno-industrial civilization.

With this we also hope to inspire others to turn “public space” into a canvas for expression, play, and engagement. Though here we will warn against allowing yourself to be mapped or read by the authorities.

We’ve done this in part to make “public space” into “common space” where, instead of the state owning the bureaucratically regulated space, the space is held in common.

If you think we’re regressive fools or still too infected with leftism, perhaps you can start your own “35th” campaign. “Communize 35th Ave” or “Liberate 35th Ave” or “Upload 35th Ave” may be a start, we found it enjoyable to play into our perceived faults for comedic affect, but you may want to take a more straight-faced approach.

“We must devastate the avenues where the wealthy live.” – Lucy Parsons

For joyous attacks on the logistics of the ruling order and commoning of public space.

We sign this communique as we signed our fliers,
Ⓐ (laughing crying emoji) (fire emoji)

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TOTW: Therapy

Sun, 03/11/2018 - 18:58

This TOTW comes via guest submission, thnx. (
Are most anarchists hostile to therapy, mainstream or otherwise? In Against the Logic of Submission (under the heading Revolt Not Therapy), Wolfi Landstreicher writes: “Freedom belongs to the individual — this is a basic anarchist principle — and as such resides in individual responsibility to oneself and in free association with others. Thus, there can be no obligations, no debts, only choices of how to act. The therapeutic approach to social problems is the very opposite of this.. Basing itself in the idea that we are crippled rather than chained, inherently weak rather than held down, it imposes an obligatory interdependence, a mutuality of incapacity, rather than a sharing of strengths and capabilities.”

There is a phenomenon of therapy proselytizing and also a tendency to recommend or demand those that have crossed boundaries to seek therapy. Is seeking out professional therapy an unfortunate but often necessary evil and counter to an ideal anarchist future? Or is it a positive practice some would like to see salvaged in some form ATR? Is it just hard to find a good therapist that understands you as an anarchist? After all, there seems to be a fair amount of anarchists that have had to deal with Oppositional Defiant Disorder or ADD or any number of other diagnoses that seem all too convenient for the social managers. Is therapy just a pressure release valve that helps in the maintenance of a subordinate populace of wage slaves?

The Socialist Patients’ Collective (SPK) from Germany wrote about their experiences resisting the doctor-patient paradigm in Turn Illness into a Weapon.

Roberto Freire developed the anarchist play therapy Soma after fighting two dictatorships in Brazil. Influenced by Wilhelm Reich and incorporating elements of Gestalt therapy, Somatherapy seeks to challenge the mind body split inherent in many conventional psychotherapies. What are your experiences with Soma or other alternative forms of therapy? Is Soma the only therapy branding itself as explicitly anarchist?


Revolt, not therapy – against the logic of submission

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The Hotwire #21: March 7, 2018

Sun, 03/11/2018 - 14:36
The Hotwire #21: March 7, 2018


Lansing protests fascists—teachers’ strike grows & spreads—3 cheers for anarchy

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This episode we bring you two interviews. The first is an on-the-ground report from the days of anti-fascist action against Richard Spencer’s visit to Detroit and Lansing, with a plea for bail funds to help arrested anti-fascists. Next, we interview a West Virginian anarchist about what makes the teachers’ strike there so unique and important. We plug a call from the West Virginia IWW for how to support and spread the strike. Throughout the episode we make the case for an international, revolutionary movement that can do away with all forms of hierarchy and kyriarchy!

Notes and Links

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Getting Rid of Work

Sun, 03/11/2018 - 14:29

From ediciones inéditos by Gilles Dauvé

What follows is a long essay by the French communization theorist, Gilles Dauvé. It is a long read, a read which varies in content and tone but a text which masterfully summarizes the communist critique of work. The original can be found here at Troploin. He also dutifully notes that without the abolition of work there can be no communist revolution or communism. We hope you enjoy reading this as much as we enjoyed translating it. ¡A la chingada con el trabajo!

Here you will find a lightly modified chapter 3 from the book “From Crisis to Communization” published in 2017 by Editions Entremonde.

False construction sites


In 1997, in the French department of Sarthe, some 20 workers were constructing a section of highway under the direction of an engineer employed by a large company, BTP. After two months the engineer was arrested: no one had ordered the work that was partially done, which with an initial financing, the false construction site manager had successfully hoodwinked both banks and public organizations. Between 1983 and 1996, Philippe Berre had been convicted 14 times for ordering false construction sites. In 2009, “The Beginning,” a film inspired by this whole adventure was released, displaying a population struck by unemployment which briefly found work and hope. Phillippe Berre was not motivated by personal gain, but rather by the need to do, to be of use, to reanimate a group of workers. In 2010, once again, he took on this role while helping those affected by Cyclone Xynthia.

We all know “rogue bosses.” Philippe Berre is a fictitious boss, an anti-hero for our times; at once a “manipulator of symbols,” an agile manager of human resources, at a crossroads between the automobile and the BTP (presented as the two principal employers within modern countries), wandering as a nomad on the highways, as mobile as the activities which he preyed upon, living on the ephemeral dreams that his dynamism created around him, an illustration of a fluidity without markers or attachments, where money flows but is not wasted, where success has no future, where one builds worthless things, where all appears as communication and virtuality. But is not a sense of reality which Philippe Berre is lacking, rather he lacks respect.

When a crook brings work, revenue, and thus some “meaning” to a community in perdition, even if it is a provisional and false meaning, this raises the question – what does production and work mean? The unemployed at Sarthe trusted Philippe Berre because he brought them some socializing, a role, a status, a sense of being recognized. What is useful? Useless? Fictitious? Real? What is profitable or not? Was this piece of highway more or less absurd than any “real” highway? What work is worthy of being qualified as “a waste”? Beyond the hard reality of work (it creates objects, creates profit and is generally onerous), what is the truth?

1. Rereading Marx: from Marx to Marxism

Marx has left us the most powerful synthesis of communism, one with the deepest theoretical breakthroughs and also the most acute contradictions. Capital and the The Critique of the Gotha Program notably, along with the Grundrisse, manuscripts from 1857-58, which have since renewed our approach towards capitalism and communism, and whose first publication in French almost coincided with May 1968. Though we have personally cited these pages more than a few times, we now find reason to bear a critique.1

Marx is particularly necessary to return to since his analysis of work places front and center the question of time.

1.1 The commodity and work

Capital does not begin with a definition of capitalism, but rather the way in which it “presents itself”: “an immense accumulation of commodities.” This point of departure relays a certain choice of perspective. If work is at the heart of the problem, why not begin with the the division of labor? While not writing a history book, why would Marx start with the encounter between private producers exchanging on the market and not with the meeting of the wage laborer and the capitalist? The first chapter of Capital considers work (not waged labor, but work, whatever kind it may be) as being both abstract and concrete: in other words, use-value and exchange-value are presented as arising with the dawn of humanity and within almost every society.

To naturalize work is to eternalize it.

workSoviet Work Propaganda: “Sleep at Work Helps the Enemies of the Working Class” (1931).

Section 1.4 will return to Marx and his definitions of work. That which Capital affirms, at any rate, is that work, in the past, before value (or value-less, as it would be under communism), work without a labor market, is both positive and necessary. Capital considers productive activity and work as one in the same.

Here Marx announces an essential trait which Marxism would embody: the worker ceases to be proletarian (= a wage laborer exploited by a boss) when everyone becomes a proletarian, since bosses would have been replaced by a community of laborers. The solution to this social problem would be to generalize labor. But which kind? Waged labor? Marx reasons as though the answer were self-evident: as soon as we all join in on a community working without capitalists, the question of the wage-laborer will be resolved. The overcoming of capitalism will not consist of the abolishment of the Capital-labor relation but rather to rescue work from Capital.

1.2 Working in a world without money

For Marx it is the arrival of use-value on the market (a “natural” product of labor) which gives use-value its character as an exchange-value. When Marx talks about labor time, it is squarely about production, but at that point value only has a potential existence, before finding its reality on the market. It would be as though value is not born of production, but, after the productive moment, it comes to impose itself on labor as a constraint, which would thus need to be liberated from the worker. In reading Marx, as long as there is no sale/purchase, labor time acts as a neutral given, which capitalism in its own way takes advantage of, and which communism would also use but in a totally different way.

The filigree-legible communism in Capital looks like a world without money based on communitarian labor. However, work is more than the meeting of cooperative humans within a workshop making objects. To work is to count the time, to economize, which implies that we quantify the socially-necessary labor time to produce this or that: exactly what Marx rightly calls value.

Marx’s distrust of any utopian description for a post-revolutionary future is well-known. Thus it is even more meaningful that one of the rare appearances on this subject seems to propose labor vouchers for the “lower phase” of communism (Critique of the Gotha Program, 1875), because, such as he makes them out to be, what are these labor vouchers but value without money?

1.3 The Map

“Let us now picture to ourselves, by way of change, a community of free individuals, carrying on their work with the means of production in common, in which the labour power of all the different individuals is consciously applied as the combined labour power of the community (…) The total product of our community is a social product. One portion serves as fresh means of production and remains social. But another portion is consumed by the members as means of subsistence (…) We will assume, but merely for the sake of a parallel with the production of commodities, that the share of each individual producer in the means of subsistence is determined by his labour time. Labour time would, in that case, play a double part. Its apportionment in accordance with a definite social plan maintains the proper proportion between the different kinds of work to be done and the various wants of the community. On the other hand, it also serves as a measure of the portion of the common labour borne by each individual, and of his share in the part of the total product destined for individual consumption. The social relations of the individual producers, with regard both to their labour and to its products, are in this case perfectly simple and intelligible,with regard not only to production but also to distribution.” (Capital, Vol. 1, Chp. 1, iv)

If Marx assumes a regulation of production by labor time “to put this state of affairs in parallel with commodity production,” it is because the opposite supposition for him is almost unthinkable. His perspective lies in replacing the separation between producers, great and small, with a production-commune, and replacing capitalist disorder with planification done by all.

Further, politically the State will no longer be a State when everyone will take on its functions: shared by everyone, political power will lose its oppressive character; sowrites Engels: “Insofar as the anarchy of social production disappears, the political authority of the State goes to sleep. Men, finally masters of their own way of life in society, thereby become masters of nature, masters of themselves, and thus are free.”2

Such as Marx sketches it out, communism is marked by transparency and self-understanding: men become at last conscious of whom they are. Associated producers are naturally assumed to be the best people to know the socially-necessary labor time of what they produce.

1.4 Which definition of work?

In 1845, Marx defined it as such:

“ ‘Labor’ is the living base of private property, as it is the only source of private property. Private property is nothing more than materialized labor. If you would want to deal it a lethal blow, we would need to attack private property not only as an objective state; we must also attack it as an activity, as labor. To speak of free, human, social labor, of labor without private property, is one of the greatest misunderstandings that exist. ‘Labor’ is by nature an enslaved activity, inhumane, antisocial, determined by private property and created by private property. Consequently, the abolition of private property only becomes a reality if we conceive of it as the abolition of ‘labor’; an abolition which naturally is only possible when done by labor itself, which is a way of saying the by the material activity of society and not just the substitution of one category for another.”3

In 1846, in The German Ideology speaks of “the division of labor” : This is what is impossible without a community. (…) Up until now, all revolutions have left intact this mode of activity; what changed was only the distribution of this activity, a new apportionment of labor between persons. On the other hand, communist revolution, standing up against this traditional mode of activity, gets rid of labor and abolishes the domination of all classes by abolishing classes themselves; this revolution being the work of the class who, within society, no longer has any ranking as a class and is no longer recognized as such: from then on out, communist revolution marks the dissolution of all classes, of all nationalities, etc. at the very heart of present society.”4

Communist theory does not equate man with homo faber, nor as a “maker of tools,” as Benjamin Franklin thought of man.

On the other hand, in 1867, work is defined as “the existential and indispensable condition of man, the mediator of organic exchanges between nature and man.”5

From a radical position that was unacceptable at the time (and remains so to this day), Marx was moving toward a definition of work that is practically applicable to any society.

Let’s quote then The Critique of the Gotha Program (1875): “At a higher phase of communist society, when enslaved subordination of individuals to the division of labor would have been disappeared, and with it, the opposition between the intellectual and the manual labor; when work will not only be a means to live, but will become the primary vital need; when along with the manifold development of individuals, the productive forces will have been so developed and when all sources of collective wealth abundantly overflow – and only then (…) society will be able to write on its banners: From each according to their ability, to each according to their needs!.6

1.5 Measuring by time (re-reading the Grundrisse)

According to Capital, “In all social states, the time necessary to produce the means of consumption have interested mankind, albeit unequally, in accordance with their diverse degrees of civilization.”7

The 1857-58 manuscripts (Grundrisse) have an exceptionally visionary force. What they express does not however contradict Capital as much on labor as on labor time, two themes which complement each other.

“The real economy, savings, consists of economizing labor time (as well as reducing the costs of production). But, inseparable from the development of the productive forces, this economy is in no way a renunciation of joy. Growth in strength and in the means of production condition the faculties which render the individual apt to enjoy their existence, an aptitude which goes hand in hand with productive power. The economy of labor time means the augmentation of free time for the full blossoming of the individual (…)” (For the Grundrisse we use the edition by Maximilien Rubel, Œuvres, Gallimard, II, 1968. p. 310)

“(…) it is clear that immediate labor time cannot always be abstractly opposed to free time, as is the case in the bourgeois economic system. Work cannot become a game, as Fourier wants, whom had the great merit of having proclaimed the ultimate goal of transcendence, in a superior form, not of distribution but of production.” (p. 311)

That life, particularly a productive one, “demands practical manipulation and free movement,” (p. 311) and implies effort, is self-evident and it is useful to recall that against the myth of a liberating automation; but it does not follow that we must then reason with the opposition of work/play, categories which themselves are historical and open to critique. Across the same pages, Marx prolongs his critique of political economy.

Of course not everything is play. But just because one has to exert effort does not mean that what you are doing must be work. And it is not necessarily less enjoyable to cook as it is to eat. And what about the dishes? It only becomes a chore through the routine of household chores (which are still 80% done by housewives) performed under the dual constraint of time saving and the pressure of family life. The reappropriation of our living conditions, and along with it its upheaval, involves other relations such as man/woman, parents/children, adults/children, which implies another kind of living situation, another kind of education, etc.

The perspective set forth in the Grundrisse is as profound as it is ambiguous:

“Adopting labor time as the standard for wealth, is to found this wealth on poverty; it is reduction of all time to labor time and to degrade the individual to the exclusive role of being a worker, an instrument of work.” (p. 308)

“Capital is contradiction in action: it tends to reduce to a minimum labor time, all the while making it the sole source and measure of wealth.” (p. 306)

“The reduction of socially-necessary labor time, and not solely diminished in favor of surplus labor, will allow us to free up the blossoming of the individual. In fact, thanks to free time and the means opened up to all, the reduction of labor time to the minimum socially-necessary will favor the artistic, scientific, etc. development of everyone.” (p. 306)

“True wealth being the full productive power of all individuals, the yardstick employed will not be labor time, but rather the time available.” (p. 308)

By definition, available time being not employed (or at least not yet ), and thus representing but a potentiality, is then impossible to measure: there thus seems to be a rupture with value and capitalism. But does this available time become the totality of time, or is it added to an ever-present labor time, which is essential albeit reduced to a few hours a day?

Marx posed the question of the accounting of time (crucial in understanding labor), but could not resolve this problem because he treated time as a given, not as a category also open to critique.

1.6 Communism and labor time (the councilist project)

In 1930, Dutch council communists of the GIC [Group of International Communists] had the enormous merit of having concretely posed the question of communism based on the question of value, but had done so, in our opinion, based on a bad premise.8

In 1966, the principal editor of the project, Jan Appel (1890-1985) summed up this premise: workers’ councils will make of “the hourly unit of average labor time [the] measure of production time and of all the needs and services at once found within production and distribution.”9

The error here is in wanting to place Marxian theory of value at the service of the management of communism. The notion of socially-average labor time, and further its whole calculus, are not useful instruments at the same level as a wheelbarrow or a milling machine: they are the substance of capitalism and their use is inseparable from their function which they demand. A society cannot be organized on the direct calculus of average labor time without sooner or later a general equivalence materializing, giving birth to some variant of money. Everyone knows that despite some of its friendly aspects, barter is based on an implicit accounting, an exchange of invisible money (nobody swaps a motorcycle in running condition for some random swimsuit). For as long as a product has a double existence, one as a determined object and another as an exchange value serving as a base for comparison and exchange, we will have not left behind the world of the commodity-society and capitalism. A direct accounting of labor time will create an invisible general equivalency: it will bring about measured products just like commodities, though they will not circulate like commodities, and there will be workers that will consume based on their work without receiving a wage. One would soon see the re-emergence of the classic forms of capitalism whose foundations never disappeared, since only a market where businesses clash is able to sanction this calculus of production time.

It is obvious that there is nothing intrinsically in common between a head of lettuce and a skirt, except the quantity of primary materials and energy necessary to obtain one or the other. But is within commodity exchange, and further within capitalism, which find the need to synthesize all the components of production so as to reduce lettuce and skirts as commensurable: the necessary labor time.

That which escaped the G.I.C. was that the evaluation of resources (both human and otherwise) necessary for all activity take on different meanings depending on the society. Sewing clothes and planting salad greens do not require the same effort or the same material elements, and communism will take this into account: but it will not need to start from abstraction (even calculated directly without money) of comparable energy expenditure contained in these two activities. Communism will count and compare quantities and any eventual losses and waste will be much lower than those imposed by the calculus of a kind of universal production time.

“The theory of measuring goods or forecasting investments [in communism] by the amount of work done is incorrect. (…) This not a question regarding a quarrel of method but a fundamental problem which concerns the very nature of communism. The measurement of work remains economist. This sort of measurement desires the end of the law of value but does not see all that it implies. (…) The mistake is not in continuing to take into account need, sacrifice or production in the new society. The mistake is in packaging all this and to stick on it a label that reads “labor time” in an effort to reduce labor time and to globally oppose it to free time.”10

No matter the goal of this calculus or its method, a society founded on labor time supposes that work remains distinct from non-work, and thus separated from the rest of all activities: if not then how or why would you measure it?

On the other hand, if Marx implicitly kept the firm as a value-chain led by the collective worker, the G.I.C. puts it explicitly at the center as an economic unit. The partisans of this project did not ignore that certain firms, and certain workers within such firms, would inevitably be more productive than others: they foresaw a way of a way of correcting this inequality with a complex weighing method. We have rarely gone so far in a program that preserves the foundations of capitalism while placing them under the complete control of workers.

Bordiga was a bit off when he saw here an “entrepreneurial socialism,” but his councilist error arose from an essential preoccupation which he misunderstood: the desire for the emancipation of workers is a task set aside for the workers themselves. As Jan Appel noted, the real reason behind this plan was not so much a question of technics but rather of politics: to make it so that every worker participates in their management.

The G.I.C.’s plan owns a lot to the era after the crisis of 1929 where capitalism was seen as on the way towards concentration, nationalization and planification: this was an opinion shared by different people such as Otto Rühle, Bruno Rizzi, the Trostkyist dissidents Burhnham and Schactman, the councilists, Socialism or Barbarism, Karl Kosch in 1950 and even held by non-Marxists like A. Berle, G. Means and Schumpeter (Bordiga was one of rare few who did not share in this opinion.)11

Russia served as a counter-model: it was necessary to avoid repeating what happened after October 1917. The calculation of labor time would allow them to maintain control over firms and of the economy. The accounting of labor time is at once a condition and a guarantor of real and efficacious worker management: no one could know better than workers’ collectives how much time was exactly necessary to produce this or that and to thus determine the contribution of each within the common effort.

With their desire to present communism as a superior mode of production and to provide supporting figures that “this could work,” the Dutch comrades left behind a critique of work (let us remember that 1930 was the most favorable time to bring the question of work into the light… ).

If we raise the project of the G.I.C. along side our commentary of the Grundrisse in the last paragraph, we see that the councilists are faithful to Marx, as well (unbeknown to them) as faithful to the Grundrisse, which they could have not have known of in the 1930s: communism for them was collective administration made possible by the experienced gained through a phase of transition, which would finally serve as a school for rational management.

1.7 Does value abolish itself?

This question may surprise. Nonetheless, if the Grundrisse has had such a grand influence the past 40 years, it is because its reading allows for diverse interpretations and among those interpretations includes the notion of a capitalism forced to overcome itself.

In 1857-58, anticipating the future of capitalism, and commenting on the first automated machines by Charles Babbage, forerunner of the computer, Marx wrote:

“(…) immediate work ceases to be as such the base for production; since on one hand work is transformed from an activity under surveillance and management, and on the other hand, the product [of work] ceases to be the result of isolated and direct work: it is the combination of social activity which appears as such as the producer.” (p. 308)

“While in its immediate form, labor ceases to be the grand source of wealth, labor time will cease to be, and should cease to be, the measure of labor, just as exchange-value will cease to be the measure of use-value. The surplus-labor of masses of humans will cease to be the condition of development of general wealth. (…) From then, production founded on exchange-value will collapse (…).” (p. 306)

In other terms, from this moment on it will be impossible to identify what the individual worker brings into the creation of wealth, value (by which we mean the regulation of production and the redistribution of goods by the measure of socially-necessary labor time) would become incompatible with the expansion of production and absurd within capitalism itself.

Let’s think about what Marx thought around the same time:

“At a certain stage of their development, the material productive forces of a society enter into contradiction with the existing productive relations. (…) So then opens up an era of social revolution.” (Preface to A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy, 1859).

Although this preface later affirms that it is the proletariat which forms the principal of the productive forces, Marx did not share in the confidence of historical “progress” common to his time: for him capitalist development leads to communism. In the same way that merchant power had shattered the feudal framework and replaced it with aristocratic domination, he saw that economic socialization, the concentration of the masses of workers would prove incompatible with private property and bourgeois management of society. Suffice to say that proletarian revolution was conceived in much the same way as the model for bourgeois democratic revolution.

Marx cannot be reduced to this position, but it there is enough within his work to justify such a program, since capitalism ends up negating itself:

“In the same way that the bourgeois economic system develops bit by bit, likewise, so the ultimate result of this system gradually develops its own negation.” (Grundrisse, p. 311)

Many theorists (their names are legion) then applied themselves in the demonstration of how the “law of value” tends towards its own abolition (the word law demonstrates the transformation of critique into a science, that is to say it became a knowledge independent of proletarian practice).

Said in another way, capitalism will set into motion change at a revolutionary scale…but without revolution. For the social question resolves itself if there is a threshold where the wage laborer finds themselves obsolete, socially-average labor time becomes an inadequate measure and the inoperative regulator of a very socialized production will not last long before tearing apart wage laborers like a seam sown too tight.

1.8 Marxist Marx

To underline what separates communist Marx from his non-revolutionary posterity, many, us included, have tried to make it so that Marx would be the best critic of Marxism.12 The intention is laudable but the argument is flawed.

How does Marx conclude Capital?

“The transformation of scattered private property, arising from individual labor, into capitalist private property is, naturally, a process, incomparably more protracted, violent, and difficult, than the transformation of capitalistic private property, already practically resting on socialised production, into socialised property. In the former case, we had the expropriation of the mass of the people by a few usurpers; in the latter, we have the expropriation of a few usurpers by the mass of the people”.13

Is capitalism already a “collective mode of production”? Since the end of the 19th c., the socialist movement has exploited these lines (and others in the same way) to explain why a capitalism organized into firms ever more globally-interdependent would sooner or later escape both private property and the anarchy of production: it would therefore be enough to replaces bourgeois bosses with worker representatives and socialism would come along on its own, without revolution, its arrival being a quasi-natural phenomenon.

It is not unreasonable for Marxists to seek in Marx a theory of capitalist socialization that would ultimately prevent capitalism from perpetuating itself. Here’s a good definition of “Marxism”: the replacement of proletarian action for gradual evolution, or with a beneficial catastrophe, which in both cases would appear to be comparable to the process of mutation among natural species. At the end of the 19th c. the manuscripts for Capital Vol. 2 and 3, published after the death of Marx, were read as the theory of the inexorable contradiction between bourgeois private property and the huge growth in the productive forces which even trusts and cartels would be unable to control.

100 years later, the 1857-58 manuscripts now available were interpreted as theorizing [Capital’s] unparalleled and yet irresistible structural limit. It is the very sources and forms of contemporary wealth which would call for a supersession [of Capital] which we need only put into effect. Toni Negri would not be the last to read into these lines of the Grundrisse that value (the regulation of production by labor-time and by finding the minimum production cost) has already ceased to govern contemporary society: it would thus only be a question of realizing this and to draw its consequences so that society radically changes. The world now resting on a collective intelligence, if this general intellect were to become aware of itself, would lead to us liberating ourselves. Briefly, in 1900 as in the 21st c., the production forces are presented as evading the control of those who control them and further, evading the logic of valorization and of wage laborers. With a difference only in size: the historical subject is no longer labor, definitely not the worker, but rather it is all of us, since the lecturer, just as the mingong, contributes to the world’s wealth.

Such an interpretation is partial and biased but can claim the letter and the spirit of Marxian works.

We need not oppose a young Marx to an old Marx, since these contradictions traverse and animate his texts from 1840 until the end of his life.14

Marx led a continuous and discontinuous project, from his first unpublished texts to his manuscripts written late in age(which are not yet all published). From the moment he showed his intuitions in the Grundrisse, he was in preparation for a grand voyage never fulfilled, Capital, a title revealing its priority: to go into the depths of capitalism to thus understand its possible overthrow. The means became the end: to comprehend that which was historically novel in the proletariat he sunk 20 years of study into capitalism. Moreover, in the later volumes of Capital foreseen by Marx – economic theories, the world market, classes, the State – none were to be devoted to the proletariat. Communism was thought of as coming from capitalism.

Undoubtedly, it is thanks to Marx that we can critique him and one of the most illuminating commentaries of him was that by Bordiga, writing more than a half century later, that we must read the ensemble of the Marxian oeuvre as a “description of characters in a communist society.” But today, on pain of behaving like an heir, we must see what dominated Marx. His dazzling intuitions, still in manuscript form, mix the supersession of the economy with the project of a communitarian economy. Marx is more a critic of value (the commodity, money) than of work (time, productivity). If Marxist thought allowed for the communist revival of the mir to be accorded a minor place compared to the industrialization of the world, it is because capitalist progress was accompanied by a worker’s movement that Marx saw as the true mainspring.

To understand Marx is also to distinguish Marx from Marxism without denying the link between the two. If not we run the risk of rewriting a Marx set to everyone’s taste or to the latest fashion.

1.9 Marxism


With such a subject so vast and abundantly documented, we will confine ourselves here to Engels and Lafargue.

That which Marx sketched out, Engels systematized, often stripping Marx of his profound ambiguities. For Engels, the passage from the ape to the human being was brought about by labor and language.15 Work, which “started with the making of tools,” is described as natural, useful and conscious, its birth accompanied by language. Like Marx, but more straightforward, Engels identified productive activity and work.

The dominant interpretation of The Right To Be Lazy (a text largely distributed since its first edition in 1880, from social-democract to anarchist milieus) finds within it a program that results from taking what is good in capitalism (production in abundance) and removing what is bad (exploitation of the producer). Paul Lafargue, this “redeemer of humanity,” explains that by dividing productive tasks among all instead of concentrating them in the hands of a few, thus forcing others to employment, socialism would reduce the the work day to 3 hours thanks to the to suppression of useless production. Coincidentally, it is also a 3-hour workday which Keynes in 1930 promised would come to pass by the end of the 20th c.16

Aristotle remains famous for his justification for slavery due to the need to produce food and useful objects so that a privileged minority could indulge in much more noble tasks: the Greek philosopher added that there would be no more slaves “if weaver’s looms weaved all by themselves” : it was Lafargue who proclaimed this day had come. Social-democrats and Stalinists had little trouble in “recuperating” The Right To Be Lazy: for them socialism was an extension of industrial development oriented until now for the benefit of the bourgeoisie, an extension supposedly done in the interests of the masses.

According to The Right To Be Lazy, work would hardly be work at all. A century later with automation, the myth of a post-industrial society, and more recently, the illusion of a new digital age, has lead some to believe that the 3-hour day announced by Lafargue did not seem so bad at all: work and leisure, manufacturing and creation would become one. Finally reconciling the homo faber with the homo ludens and thus work would cease to be work.

In 2009, Taillander published a collection of writings by Lafargue titled Laziness and Revolution. In the past the association of these two words would make for a provocative title, even an anarchist or situationist one. (“Ne travaillez jamais”). By the start of the 21st c., redemption by machines is passé, but paradoxically, the omnipotence of work allows a certain “criticism of work” to enter into social morays.17

But what do we generally have against work? Above all, we see it is a constraint, an alienation, an impoverisher of both the worker and of nature.18

It’s certainly all of those things, but such a critique does not engage with wage-laborers themselves (purchase-sale of human activity), nor work as separation (to make one’s living by producing to later consume thanks to the money gained).

2. Work and value

We will only deal here with societies where the constitutive features of work exist, knowing that they have only been fully developed in the last few centuries.

Every social analysis which implicates a definition of what is specific to human beings, for as long as this definition is explicit, at its bare minimum says: the human contributes in the production of their nature, which they are the co-creator of. The human does not model itself at will, but further becomes evolved by changing what surrounds them. In producing their material living conditions, human beings do more than this: to produce means to act in society, to speak, to travel … human beings produce themselves and take their activity along with the activity of other human beings as an object: the human is a subject and has a history. The human sets themselves apart from themselves (and can even become alien to themselves). This implies a choice, this implies freedom (and its eventual loss).

This objectification contains the possibility of work.

2.1 Whomever speaks of work speaks of classes

So that this potentiality becomes realized, there needs to be a surplus and this surplus would need to be more than a simple reserve (of food, notably): a useful surplus is necessary to liberate a member of society from the obligation of producing for themselves, thus allowing this member to produce for other members. Work is a form of human activity taken when work creates a surplus which escapes it. Work is a relation between necessary work and surplus labor : there is a separation between the expenditure of energy necessary to maintain the worker, and the expenditure of energy beyond this maintenance, which creates a surplus. Workers only exist for as long as a non-worker is making them labor for their benefit. Work, an activity whose product recurs to others, implies (and maintains) the division of groups within a society with opposed interests. Society is divided among workers and non-workers, where non-workers are reaping the production of workers. The worker may maintain some control of their means of production and organize them themselves, but the result of his labor does not belong to them. Work is a class relation.

2.2 Work reduces all activity to a single substance

Human activity begins to the take the form of work when humanity, over thousands of years and in places which we will never know, arrives at certain practices, few in number at the beginning, which have ceased to be lived and received in such a way that each can have and produce what they specifically need, e.g. flour or fabric. From that moment on, that flour or fabric had begun to exist, above all, by and for their capacity to be able to be exchanged one for the other, and have been treated ever since in light of what they have in common: being both different results but comparable within the same practice known as work, now susceptible to be reduced to a universal and quantifiable given, the humanly necessary average amount of effort needed to make that flour or fabric. From then on these two objects have been produced for what they have in common, this substance known as value.

Then came a decisive change, the passage of the exchange of one commodity for another (flour/fabric), looking to satisfy two needs that meet, an exchange aiming to obtain not a particular useful object, flour or fabric, but the money destined to buy any kind of object, or to be saved or invested.

Crystallized labor, money gave value a material form.

Money is not the result of practical necessity, for example to facilitate barter or as a convenient means of exchanging a sack of flour for a length of fabric so that those in this barter don’t “lose anything.” Credit and debt precede money and as a proof we have the masses of ancient peasants who were in debt before the invention of money.

Whatever their origins, work and money have become inseparable. Even under their immaterial forms of credit card chips and lines of credit, they materialize the way in which activities and human being relate to each other, and lastly how classes relate to each other.

If value reveals and manifests exchange, its source lies within work and money serves to link up that which the division of labor separates.

As the history of the longue durée Fernand Braudel said one day: “The misfortune is that the market exists and then you do not get to see what goes on underneath.”

2.3 Wage laborers make of work a commodity

With wage laborers, work is not just activity done for money: it also an activity which is bought and sold.

With the generalized sale-purchase of labor power, for the first time in history, social classes distinctly distinguish themselves from their respective place (bourgeois or proletariat) occupied by each within production. The relation between necessary work and surplus labor structures the world. No society can survive without productive activity, but modern society is the first to live under the domination of (waged) work.

This crucial fact is doubly obscured. First, there’s the general tendency of making everyone need a wage and thus “everyone works,” even the CEO, blurring the opposition between the worker and the non-worker. Then, there’s two or three thousand proletarians without work or some who are semi-proletarianized who stand outside the class of wage laborers which they nonetheless form a part of.

This generalization of a class of wage laborers creates a completely novel situation, even for those condemned to total or partial unemployment. The slave, the serf and the sharecropper shared the historical perspective that they need only get rid of the domination of the master, the lord of the landowner to be able to work freely. Today, the computer assembler or the palm oil wage laborer can only free themselves by putting an end to their own existence as a bearer of labor power, this commodity which potentially contains all other commodities. Only commodified work can get rid of work. The program is no longer one of liberating work, but to liberate ourselves from work. Work is that which transforms activity into salable labor power and which only recognizes the whole of human capacities as labor power.

2.4 Work as separated activity

Work is the form taken by the production of the material conditions necessary for life when that productive activity has become detached from the rest of activities, in varying degrees and forms. The modern-day workforce cuts up their time between work, homelife, school, hobbies, vacations, etc. and the space between places to earn money, live, shop, be entertained and so on.

The space-time of non-work is not a capitalist creation: it has coexisted with the space-time of work ever since the appearance of work. The capitalist novelty lies in pushing this separation to the extreme, accentuating the split between that which is productive and non-productive of value.

2.5 Work is productivity and accounting

Organized into a series of competitive firms, where each is a value-chain in search of optimal growth, capitalism logically tends to increase surplus labor at the expense of necessary labor. Work brings along with it productivity and normalization, with a permanent search for ever more efficient methods of diminishing the cost of renewing manufacturing processes: the famous “development of productive forces.” Work and value – one cannot go without the other – implying production for production’s sake – for the accumulation of value – and with it “productivism” and planned obsolescence.

Today we constantly measure things against each other, compare and exchange them according to the average labor-time they require or are supposed to require, which also leads us to evaluate acts and people.

The augmentation in productivity (the growth of surplus labor which creates new value in relation to the necessary labor compared to the simple reproduction of labor power) is essential to all which we have recounted here. If the search for productivity is an irresistible force, with such destructive effects for humanity and nature, it is because the race for ever more profitability is the engine of capitalism; this race is its power and also the cause of its crises. So as to become more profitable than their competitors, each firm is led by an intensification of work, a development of mechanization and the growth of capital invested in equipment, tools, robots, etc., increasing its mass of value and ending up suffering diminishing returns.

2.6 Work is the reduction of everything to its minimum time If human societies have over the last few centuries moved towards the evermore precise and rigorous measure of time, it is so that they may economize it so that production time may be reduced. The obsession with “winning” time and the fear of “losing” it are integral to capitalism. To work is to struggle against time.

On the contrary, human beings for whom the frantic search for productivity is not an imperative, have no need to measure everything by the seconds and minutes as they produce.

The best way to render energy-use in the most productive way possible is to measure it by time so as to shorten it. For this reason the separation between work and the rest of life is essential to the accounting of time which finds itself at the core of value: one cannot measure a moment and the effort expended in that moment unless that segment of time is detached from all others.

We know how much to pay for a housekeeper: we cannot know the “worth” of what a housewife does in their own home. Even if the two accomplished the same tasks between 9AM and noon, those 180 minutes do not have the same meaning for the employee who came to perform a three-hour task and for the housewife who is busy at home performing various tasks.

Even the “by piece” wage of a single worker alone at his machine will be calculated according to the number of seconds need to make each piece.

Indeed, one cannot really reduce labor time, because labor time, by its socially-average definition, is not calculable for each task or for each object. A worker’s wage at their machine will be the price of a work whose value cannot be calculated, the specific contribution of this worker to all the value created in the firm. Money really is crystallized labor, only existing as an instrument within the circulation of goods under the condition that these commodities also set in motion other commodities and not by the calculation of the quantity of labor each carries within it. A specific loaf of bread and a teapot can be comparable in weight and not by the energy expenditure need to produce either of them. Whatever Taylor may have believed, no scientific method will ever quantify the new value added by a specific work task within a workshop or an office.

“Rational madness,” Taylorism is none the less consistent with the necessities of Capital.19 As soon as a computer mousepad plant begins to use equipment which requires the worker to produce more but at the same wage, management ignores the precise resulting increase of value, meanwhile it knows exactly how much it will pay the worker, how many mousepads the worker is supposed to make within a given time and how much they will sell each mousepad for. What is important here is that the introduction of new equipment forces the worker to be more productive. All the bourgeois knows, and which they count, are the prices, first the wages and the profits and although economists speak of value and creation of value, they openly consider “value” to be a metaphysical speculation.

The capitalist struggle against time bears the effect of a planned permanent obsolescence of commodities. Another consequence is the obsession with saving time in everyday life. These two phenomena have accelerated in the last twenty and thirty years, giving rise to a denunciation of speed and “the dictatorship of immediacy”; we see eulogies to slowness, slow food…reactions with little impact because they do not ascend to recover labor time.

30 years ago, a study by Barbara Garson showed how computers are transforming the office of the future into the factory of the past.20 The wage worker charged with taking airline ticket reservations by phone sees their work cut up into four mandatory phrases, timed and monitored. “To control everything, that’s the goal of the system,” declared one employee. It’s not simply that “the system” knows everything done at each moment but that for this end “the system” decomposes each gesture to such a degree that the work becomes more and more incomprehensible for those who do it (at the very moment where the operation of our daily objects become infinitely more mysterious to us than the motor in the fridge).

In 1966 when an MIT researcher came up with the ELIZA program, an automated therapist who responded without human intervention to medical questions, this expert system found widespread approval, many considering it already a human therapist “as an information processor and decision-taker.”If this shortening of human skills was possible, it was because knowledge and social relations have already previously been reduced to mechanics, to the quantifiable.

Computerization is not the cause: a machine does not create a social relation. Capitalism privileges the result (the product) over the process, the (measurable) object over relations and privileges the decomposable and quantifiable tasks over the continuity of the ensemble. But why bother to reduce the cost of labor which remains a small part of the cost of production? According to official statistics, around 1980, in the metal industry, direct work accounted for 10% of total costs. 30 years later, a pair of Nike Air Pegasus would sell for $70 in the United States, which includes a $3 wage for Asian workers, $16 for raw materials and $16 for design and advertising which adds up to $35. In summary, $3 in labor, a production cost of $35 for a sale price of $70.21

This is so because the game is not played from an accounting point of view. It is about controlling the direct workers who, unlike executives, advertisers and machines, are likely to resist or strike. “That’s why,” concluded B. Garson,” any large mass of workers that can be automated will be. Automated does not necessarily mean that robots will replace them, but that their work is organized so as to become controllable at all times. At least in theory, because it is always the one who execute the work that will be best able to control the work. As the old worker at Renault said: “Your boss pays you for your work, not for the way you do the work.” At the beginning of the 20th century, counters were installed on typewriters to check the number of keystrokes: some typists responded by leaving wider spaces, by not hitting the space bar one time, but two, three, four, even five times.

2.7 The society of king-labor

Our order of presentation is not chronological: we did not go back to the origin of work, knowing that in real history these elements related to work did not take on the same importance at the same time. It has taken millenia before there was an exchange of equivalents, that is to say, an exchange based on the more or less rigorous estimates of necessary labor time and that “the law of value” would come and equalize private work. Moreover, “money,” as the means to count in terms of value and production and to circulate goods according to an exchange of equivalents indeed precedes currency as we know it: there were not instruments specifically reserved for the function of money (which also did not have other uses, whether everyday or ritualistic). The arrival of coinage is late (7th. Century B.C.).

In the world in which we live, each of the aspects which we have conveniently distinguished in the exposition are the conditions for all the others. For example, to force humans to “make a living” via the wage, it was necessary to deprive them of autonomous means of existence (§2.1). Further, measuring work supposes that it is separated from all other activities (§2.4). It is only modern capitalism which has fully developed the constitutive elements of work.

Despite the fact that only a minority of the world’s population receive a wage and that even smaller minority benefits from a good labor contract (with fixed & duly paid wages, labor rights, social security contributions and union dues), the wage-employment nonetheless dominates.

Capitalist forms determine pre-capitalist forms. A 9 year old Turkish girl shepherding her parent’s herd of goats contributes to the family’s income. Meanwhile, one of her brothers lives by working odd jobs in a neighboring city, and the eldest brother works in a factory in Germany, where in 10 years maybe the young Turkish girl may work as a cleaning lady. This family is integrated into the global reproduction of the Capital/labor relation. The global market brings in more and more people into its logic, a minority of Earthlings today live on a purely “economy of subsistence” and work and money penetrate into the heart of slums.

It all depends on the point of view. For a sociologist or an anthropologist the activity of the young girl remains “entrenched” in precapitalist relations and he would describe how her kinship ties are saturated with archaisms, since, for example, her family has destined her to an arranged marriage. The anthropologist is not wrong. But for those who want to understand the nature of work, the method consists in finding what is in common between the young Turkish girl and a worker of Maruti Suzuki, or with a Bolivian bank employee (which is not to say that the three would have the same impact on the course of history).

The dominant social relation (wage labor) is not the sole one, but it determines all the others, including any sort of benevolent activity (which is labor indirectly remunerated), as well as including slavery (forced unpaid labor with absolute boss control over the worker, estimated at between 20 and 30million worldwide). And while we may read that the informal economy makes up 40% (made up of mostly women) of the so-called active world population, this statistic utilizes a category produced by the existence of wage-laborers which distinctly classifies that which does not enter its strict framework (labor contract) of work.22

Let us not confuse work with employment. The undeniable fact that there are and will be fewer hires than the unemployed in the world does not prevent productive work from remaining the center of the world today. What is called “social security” refers to the place of work: the money paid (or not) to the student, the unemployed, the sick, to families, to the elderly, the disabled is granted to categories that either cannot, cannot yet or cannot any longer work. Although public opinion denounces king-money (and more subtle theoreticians denounce the domination of value), it would be more accurate to say that we live under the reign of work, that is to say, wage labor.23

3. Neither work nor economy

§2 sought out to identify six characteristics which altogether constitute work: necessary work/surplus-labor and class divisions; value; commidification; separation; productivity and accounting; and time. Our ambition was not to construct a theoretical machine which would cease to function as soon as you remove one piece, as though, missing three of these six components, work would only partially continue to exist: only abstraction requires the separation into categories that which in reality is nested.

To comprehend the possible link between capitalism and a revolution which would abolish work, instead of taking these six elements separately, let’s consider them next as a whole.

3.1 Production is not economy

“Production” is often assimilated into artisanal or industrial fabrication of objects. It would seem to be more apropos to consider, as Alain Testart, does that there is production “whenever the means of work are applied to raw material to turn it into a consumable product in a form in which it was not before.”24 Hunter, harvester and fisher, unlike predators, make use of weapons and knowledge. By producing, the human also produces instruments and means of production, for example a bow for hunting. With agriculture, the human modifies nature with the intentional sowing of nutritional plants: from hunter-gather, the human becomes a “producer.”

But production is not synonymous with economy.


The difficulty lies in understanding that the production of the material conditions for existence has become a reality we call economy, progressively more autonomous from the rest of life, to the point where in the modern era it is a distinct sphere, with a separation between the time-space consecrated to making a living (work) and all other activities.

There is no “economic history,” because economy is a historical fact that has not reigned at all times and everywhere. For example, the noting of “per capita income” or “of households” only has any meaning when there exists individual persons or nuclear households.25

Malthus attributed the possible crisis of capitalism to a growth of population that goes over the growth of resources, particularly food. Ecologists explain history by the capacity or the incapacity for societies to adjust to the environment to their needs. Rejuvenated by its taking into account of natural resources and the need to renew these resources, economic thought is nonetheless economic: it’s number one problem is the creation of a balance between means and ends. It’s a morality based on accounting.

Gregory Clark wrote in a well-documented book: “during the Malthusian era economic laws governing human society are the same as those governing all animal societies.”26 The driving thread within history would be the evolution of the relationship between available resources and the population, whether human or animal: the same reasoning was applied to the residents Charleville-Mézières, as the deer of the nearby Ardennes [forests].

Nonetheless, far from being an apologist for progress, Gregory Clark argues, with backing figures, that hunter-gathers spent between 4 and 5 hours a day gathering food; that in 1800 the average Earthling did not live better than those who lived 100,000 years before Christ; that in Asia the conditions were even worse, and that the so-called primitive “produced” more calories per hour of “work” than the civilized did in England. These facts are sobering, but what these figures show is a desire to reduce everything to measurability, as if the Amazonian and the Yorkshire laborer lived the same social relationship, separated only by different degrees on a scape of production and consumption.

The dominant mental schema has changed little since [Henri de] Saint-Simon’s time: “the production of useful things is the sole reasonable, and positive goal that political societies can propose for themselves.” The ideal would then be a society where “all men work. This obligation is imposed on all to constantly give their personal efforts toward a useful direction for society.” (L’Industrie, 1811-1812). For Saint-Simon, the merchant or farmer are as much “producers” as the worker or the industrialist (For him socialism would mean the suppression of the merchant and to meld the worker and the industrialist into one figure).

Under economic thought, society relies on the production and the allotment of resources. The socialist economist also brings into the fold the criterion of utility and of justice; the ecological economist brings the obligation of harmony with nature; but it is still a question of administrating a surplus: the relation between necessary labor and surplus labor become thought of as self-evident: it is a matter of producing something to eat, somewhere to live, somewhere to heal oneself…then finally arrive to the spice of life. Utility before what is pleasant. Soup before the concert. We must first be ants to then become a cicada.

To retain the relationship between necessary labor and surplus-labor is to retain work itself.

The fundamental mistake is to make everything about meeting the need to satisfy basic needs. Without food, I die: this self-evident statement only makes sense if it is connected to the fact that human existence is social. I don’t eat first so I can then be in society. Hunger is always lived and treated in function to the conditions imposed upon by human beings (whether they’re in Alaska or Tahiti) and their social organization. Hunger does not further intervene: both play at the same time: the cold is not more the cause of social life of the Inuit than the tropical humidity is the cause of the Tahitians. No vital necessity takes precedence over social links: between the two there is a simultaneity. The same is true under capitalism. Likewise in revolution. Similarly in communism. Except that production will no longer play the same role.

It is not a question of how do human beings produce themselves?; nor, what do they produce? (whether education software or assault weapons) But rather: what place do they take within the production of human life.

According to a widespread idea in the radical milieu, the objective will not be to “produce just to produce,” but rather to create the minimum abundance necessary without which human emancipation will not be possible.

Alfred Rosemer wrote in 1923: “Communism supposes and demands abundance because the distribution of products should be simple and easy.”27

The real motive of this imperative for production is to not allow overconsumption: Rosmer prioritizes abundance because he sees in it the necessary condition for a just distribution.

Inversely, others make of a frugal moderation the condition of a free and solidarity-based community. In The Dispossessed by Ursula Le Guin (1974), on the planet Anarres owes much of its rather libertarian28way of life to its harsh climates, which lends itself to favor mutual aid and also makes accumulation difficult.

Whether one prefers abundance or a soberness in production, in both visions, the priority is economic. This what we must criticize.

3.2 Communism as an activity

A frequent criticism of capitalism is that it fabricates goods without taking care of real needs, and then goes on to sell its wares on the market: the satisfaction of needs is but a side consequence. This conception then leads some to do the opposite: to start off based on needs, but this time based on supposed real needs which are decided upon collectively; a conception which desires to satisfy these needs through adequate production and equitable distribution, without the mediation of the market, thanks to a communitarian, democratic and self-organized organization.


This ignores that needs also make up an economic category.

Let’s observe that needs are almost always defined in the negative: to not die of hunger, of cold or of sickness; to not be forced to sleep in the rain, etc. When we speak of needs, we speak of a lack.

It is self-evident that human beings have basic necessities, such as to eat and to sleep, just as it is imperative to match these with existing resources. That which is untrue is the idea that human life consists of, above all, satisfying these needs. The only way we satisfy these needs, or fail in doing so, is by way of social interrelations. It is only under exceptional circumstances that we eat just so that we will not die. For human beings, to eat will always be more than just eating. Generally, we eat in the company of others, chosen or not, or we choose to eat alone, or we are forced to eat alone, which is also itself a social situation. Often we follow a diet, either dietary or not.29 Sometimes we have to skip a meal so as to not eat or drink too much. The same is true of all our other vital activities. As Marx wrote in The German Ideology, meeting vital needs also creates new needs, and “this production of new needs is the first historical fact.”

Contrary to a common error, the “materialist conception of history” does not say that “the economy” leads the world. This is often the way that the first part of The German Ideology is read, although Marx intended something else altogether. Firstly, social relations depend on how we produce our material conditions for life and not what our ideas are of the world. Secondly, we produced these material conditions in relation with other human beings, and in class societies, we create them through class relations. The “materialist conception” does not make “the economy” the motor of human evolution, but it can explain how the current domination of the economy over our world is a historical phenomena; a phenomena that was unknown in pre-history and one which was less important in Athens 500b.c. than in Athens 2015; and it is a phenomena which will disappear with communism.

Without developing what is said within From Crisis to Communization, let us say here that our problem lies not in inventing a new society which will put in parallel our needs and resources (as the economists may want), or transform artificial and extravagant needs into reasonable needs so as to attain a sufficient frugality (as the ecologists may want). It is rather a matter of understanding what our basic needs truly are. The first human need, wrote Marx, is the need for the other. We would say: the need to feed ourselves is indissoluble from the need of the other, and the two are satisfied (or not) at the same time. We must eat, that much is self-evident, and social relations do not fill empty stomachs, but we eat within those social relations.

All of this is verified during revolutionary periods: “without reserves,” the proletarian having neither money or food, or arms (at first), find their only strength is their acting with other proletarians.

Admittedly, at first the pressure of circumstances (internal conflicts, armed struggle, shortages…) will sometimes lead the insurgents to share and distribute as justly as possible (in both sense of the word), so, whether it they like it or not, they must ration. But the revolution would be damned if it proved incapable of distinguishing a social emergency from the rest of its fundamental “program,” it would be damned if it were to allow social emergency to determine its base.

We will not ask ourselves: “How many roof tiles are necessary for that house?” but rather: “how many could it house?” Starting from there, we will then figure out how many x tiles are necessary by how many y squared meters for the roof: to suppress accounting does not mean we will renounce the use of measurements.

The communizing motor of action will not be the search for the best or the most equal way of distributing goods, but rather the human relations and activities found therein: within communization, activity is more important than its productive result because this result depends on an activity and of ties that could and would strengthen bonds among the insurgents. That which stirs the proletarian to act is not the need to eat, it is the need to create among other proletarians a social relation, which among other things will also feed them.

The need to create food, to cultivate carrots for example, will be satisfied by way of social relations which, among other activities, will cultivate beans, which will not mean that each minute or hour of horticulture will be lived as a kind of a joy without cloudy skies.

bureaucratsA still from the Situationist film “Can Dialectics Break Bricks?” by the French director René Viénet (1973).

Counter-revolution will of course exploit our inevitable disarray and local shortages. The revolution will not respond by bringing back to life an even-more productive industry, nor will it do away with bourgeois armies by creating an even stronger army. “Realism” is to be found where you least expect it. It is the bureaucrats whom of course will try to pass themselves as “practical,” explaining that after insurrectionary spontaneism must follow productive organization, which solely could resolve the most vital and urgent problems. Through means of some large and small transformations, the ideology of “common sense” (a hammer or computer are neutral, they will tell us, and that they’re neither capitalist nor communist) will promote a concern for efficiency which, despite a shift in discourse, will contain all the traits of productivity. However, work and productivity are linked. Work normalizes things. Keeping track of time during production demands that we separate it from the rest of the day, thus we detach it from life by distinctly calling it work. Revolution cannot make time-saving one of its priorities.

The division of labor will neither be overcome by a simple permanent sharing of duties. A varied form of work remains work. Working cooperatively is also work: collective work is also work. Working two hours a day is also work. The replacement of private producers with communitarian production, or the systematic re-distribution of tasks, only makes communist sense if the products are not compared – and thus incomparable – among each other (nor the activities which have produced them) by way of some calculus (implicit or not) of the real or supposed average labor time to make them. Because if we count, if social life revolves around this measure, whatever the mode of association, sooner or later value will reappear, even in a community with the most fraternal intentions.30

This text started with a fictitious boss who offered illusory employment. In the so-called real world, many of our contemporaries “make a living” by making up marketing campaigns, which others print, then are deposited into mailboxes, which then are recovered at the dump to make into recycled paper, on which will be printed new prospectus, while experts are hired to analyze it all and intellectuals are hired to deplore them. The surrealists asked themselves if we suffered either too little or too much from reality… At any rate, the “absurdity” of work will never be enough to do away with it. We will need nothing less than a revolution. We do not ignore that “there is something ridiculous in talking about revolution”: “But the whole rest of it is even more ridiculous, since it is that which exists, along with the various forms its accepted.”31

G.D. Note from EDICIONES INÉDITOS: if you'd like to reproduce this text as a zine (whether print or digital), or to re-publish it please drop us a line so that we could discuss a collaboration beforehand. E-mail:

1A curious destiny was set for these reading notes commonly called the Grundrisse which were only published in Moscow in German during the maelstrom that was World War II. There were almost unknown until their second edition in German in 1953, the text was not available in French until 1967-68, and it was even later when they were published in other European languages (English in 1973).

2Engels, Anti-Dühring, 1873, Section 3, Chp. 2

3Notes sur F. List,Œuvres, Gallimard, III, 1982, pp. 1418-1451.

4Ibid., pp. 1111 et 1123.

5Capital, Vol. I, Œuvres, Gallimard, I, 1963, p.570.

6Ibid., p. 1420

7Ibid., p. 605.

8 Groupe des Communistes Internationalistes de Hollande (GICH), Principes fondamentaux de la production et de la distribution communistes :

9Short biography of J. Appel (in French) :

10OJTR,Un Monde sans argent : le communisme, Chap. V, Ed. du Sandre, 2013.

11In 1932, Berle and Means were among the first to theorize a capitalism of managers in Property and control within the large enterprise. Bruno Rizzi (1901-1977) publie en 1939 La bureaucratisation du monde. Pour un compte-rendu par Pierre Souyri de la réédition du livre chez Champ Libre en 1976 : Sur la critique de la thèse d’un capitalisme « bureaucratique » ou « d’Etat » par Bordiga, voir entre autres : La Doctrine du diable au corps, 1951 : Et ses Thèses sur la Russie, 1952 :

12Maximilien Rubel, Marx critique du marxisme (1974 et 1983), Entremonde, 2011 :

13Œuvres, I, Gallimard, p. 1240.

14“Let’s not idealize the 1840 years as proof of an authentic communism which was then abandoned. The Principals of Communism by Engels in 1847 prefigure that which would become the socialist program a few decades later: “(…) to concentrate more and more within the hands of the State all of Capital, agriculture and industry, transportation and exchanges. (…) These measures (…) will become ever more centralized along with the growth of the productive forces thanks to the work of the proletariat. Finally, when the whole of Capital, production and exchanges are concentrated in the hands of the State, private property would also fall, money would become superfluous (…).” A good history book on this time period:Alain Maillard, La Communauté des Égaux. Le communisme néo-babouviste dans la France des années 1840, Kimé, 1999.

15Le Rôle du travail du travail dans la transformation du singe en homme, 1876 :

16Perspectives économique pour nos petits-enfants :

17In their Manifest contre le travail (1999), Krisis describes work as no longer necessary under capitalism, which on the one hand becomes less and less necessary and that the little work it retains is completely devoid of meaning.

18Bob Black sums up the dominant perception to found in radical milieus: “My definition of work is forced labor, obligatory production. These two parameters are essential. (…) Work violates freedom.” (Abolition of work, 1985)

19B. Doray, Le Taylorisme, une folie rationnelle ?, Dunod, 1981.

20The Electronic Sweatshop. How Computers are Transforming the Office of the Future into the Factory of the Past, Penguin, 1988.

21D. Cohen, Trois leçons sur la société post-industrielle, Seuil, 2006.

22B. Lautier, L’Economie informelle dans le tiers-monde, Repères, 2004.

23G.D., La boulangère & le théoricien (sur la théorie de la forme-valeur), 2014 :

24Avant l’histoire, Gallimard, 2012.

25This is not stopped Thomas Piketty from measuring the relationship between the return on capital (from patrimonial wealth ) and the rate of growth of the last 2,000 years as though these realities had similar worth in ancient Rome as they do in contemporary New York.

26A Farewell to Alms. A Brief Economic History of the World, Princeton UP, 2007.

27L’Humanité, 3 février 1923, cité dans Ch. Gras, Alfred Rosmer (1877-1964) et le mouvement révolutionnaire international, Maspéro, 1971.

28Translator’s note: here ‘libertarian’ is closer to ‘anarchist’ than those who, in the English-speaking world, have taken on this term as a way to align with small gov’t and free-market capitalism.

29Translator’s note: in French the word for “diet” is “régime” which can mean either a diet taken on for health reasons (‘dietary’) or just a diet that we follow on custom (‘or not’).

30To learn more on what would make a communist revolution, see chapter 5 (« L’Insurrection créatrice ») of this book, which this is an excerpt of : De la Crise à la communisation, Entremonde, 2017.

31Internationale Situationniste, n°6, 1961 :

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Tags: communizationcommunismworktranslationcategory: Essays
Categories: News

Icelandic anarchist Haukur Hilmarsson killed fighting Erdogan’s fascist invasion

Sun, 03/11/2018 - 14:14

From The Free

Haukur Hilmarsson was 32 years old. He was assassinated by the Turkish forces invading Syria in Efrín . He was part of the Revolutionary Union for Internationalist Solidarity. This group was founded by Greek anarchists in 2015 and is one of the militias of the International Liberation Brigade that helps Yekîneyên Parastinê Gel (Unidades de Defensa Popular, YPG) in its struggle against Arab imperialism, Turkish and Islamic fundamentalism. The Volunteer has died in the population of Hamshalak and is the third internationalist to have fallen in Efrîn’s defense after a Breton and a Galician NO PASARÁN Icelander Reportedly Killed In Action In Afrin Words by @pauldfontaine /……. March 7, 2018

Icelandic activist Haukur Hilmarsson was reportedly killed in combat in Afrin, Syria. He was 32 years old.

According to a post from the International Freedom Battalion (IFB), a group of international fighters working alongside the YPG in Syria, this was his second tour of combat in the region.

After first being deported from Iraq after trying to enter Rojava, he returned shortly thereafter and distinguished himself in Raqqa, where he rose to the rank of commander. After helping rout the Islamic State he later joined the fighting against encroaching Turkish forces in northern Syria. It was in Afrin, a Syrian city that has seen heavy casualties lately, where he ultimately fell in combat.

“In death we say he has become immortal,” IFB writes of him. “For we will never forget his struggle, his name, and his example – and we shall never give up his fight.”

Worst of all, members of his own family are at a loss to know exactly what became of him. His mother, Eva Hauksdóttir, posted a brief note on her personal site, saying that no one had contacted them about Haukur. She says that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has been in touch with law enforcement and authorities in Turkey, but she is asking that if anyone has any definitive information about Haukur that they contact

“An all-out resistance to the entire establishment of border control is needed for the preservation of refugees lives. On these points there can be no negotiation. No room for opportunism. This is our ideology in a nutshell.”

Haukur, who took the nom de guerre Sahin Hosseini in the IFB, has been a well-known activist in Iceland for many years. He was dedicated to human rights, and first gained national attention in 2008 when he and another man attempted to block the deportation of then-asylum seeker Paul Ramses Odour by standing in the way of an airplane carrying Ramses that was trying to leave Iceland. Paul was grateful for this act, later telling reporters that the two men “saved my life”. Paul is today an Icelandic citizen.

Haukur was also active in the 2008-2009 protests against the government, gaining attention in the symbolic act of climbing onto the roof of parliament and hoisting the flag of the Bónus supermarket chain on the building’s flagpole. Protesters on the scene were so enamored with the act that they aided him in evading arrest.An earlier photo of Haukur

He was also a prominent member of No Borders – Iceland, continuously fighting for the rights of asylum seekers in Iceland, and has even written for Grapevine (see articles below) on a number of occasions. He was utterly uncompromising on this subject, writing the following in 2015:

“Borders ensure neither peace nor security. Rather, they tamper free movement, business, survival and happiness. They are man-made, and their maintenance requires the relentless effort of heavily funded institutions. The pushbacks and deportations of refugees are intentional and carefully meditated acts of oppression. An all-out resistance to the entire establishment of border control is needed for the preservation of refugees lives. On these points there can be no negotiation. No room for opportunism. This is our ideology in a nutshell.”

Haukur was an activist and journalist, below are links to some of his articles. Borderline: Empathy & Insanity In The Asylum Process

by 2 years ago

“They’re my friends! Let me speak to them!” he shouted as the door closed shut. Four days into his hunger…

Especially The Nice Ones


It comes and goes, the rage against The Machine. Every so often it boils over, causing an uproar of surprise…



Tags: SyriaturkeyYPGobituaryDeathEfrincategory: International
Categories: News

From Paris to our friends scattered across the world

Sun, 03/11/2018 - 13:29


This post is also available in:
Français (French) Deutsch (German)

«We could therefore do this: Instead of commemorating may 1968, we could
try organising a beautiful month of may 2018.»

From this country where we search for our breath, breathing an air that
is everyday becoming more rare, where we feel evermore alien to it’s
reality ; from this country could only rise among our ranks this
sensation of deterioration, eating us from inside by means of emptiness,
by means of imposture and deception. As second best we wrote, talked,
the adventure was one of literature, the commitment platonic. The
revolution was tomorrow, the possible revolution, how many of us still
believed in her?

  • Pierre Peuchmaurd, More alive than ever (1968)

The embers shines under the ashes of Macron’s anesthesia. His government
knows that. This is why this government avoids all trials of criticism. This is why he attacks only the weak or the ones who declare themselves defeated before the battle even starts. It is the « no-battle strategy » : a war where the victory consists in avoiding all the decisive battlefields.

There is no support for the government’s manœuvres outside of the governmental spheres themselves, notably it’s media. What we do witness is a massive indifference , disaffection, lassitude as well as a demoralisation. Demoralisation accentuated by the owners of the public spaces day after day.

Nevertheless since the abrupt end of the movement against the « loi travail » , there are also a number of diffuse energies, a set of imperceptible desertions that discretely draw their path. There is a large inflammable element in suspension, element that only awaits a chance to reform ; a chance that wouldn’t be a mechanical repetition of the outmoded tactic of the « cortège de tête ». Moreover, in spite of the wise communication, lavish in wrong-footing, surprise factors, and false pretenses the first effects of the politics that are actually carried out are being felt. These concrete modifications of life create discontentments that don’t fade away, let alone all the genius communication in the world. Everyone isn’t on the edge of a nervous breakdown, but the general burnout isn’t far. So why not break all this down before being ourselves broken down ? Rather than waiting for the government to give us a chance, that he will never give, to stop the deadly train in which he urges us to jump, why not create the occasion for ourselves ? Why not decide of our own chances ? And after all if the list of reasons to engage in revolution are all there why not agree on dates to concentrate forces ?

Apparently some wish to commemorate may 1968. We honestly do not care much for may 1968. We did better. Our graffiti’s of spring 2016, downgrade the ones of may 1968, to the « can do better » category, in quantity as much as quality. Between « le monde ou rien » and « il est interdit d’interdire », no need to argue. There is a world between what is incisive and what is laborious. Our riots are undoubtedly better organised, better equipped, and have no need for trotskyste or maoiste public order services, no need for endless general assemblies, no need for leaders. All was carried out in fluidity, multiplicity, intelligence of the situation. The thing is that since we are still here, there is no one to commemorate us. Agreed, we didn’t block the whole country. The occupations weren’t scaled to the situation. The unions completely fucked up on the general strike side of things. Also agreed we weren’t millions like in 68. Also we are facing a massive perspective problem : before one could build upon the existing world, now on the one hand the world is completely fucked on the other what functions is so horrible that there isn’t much else to do other than sending it to the scrapyard. In other words before one had to re-appropriate what was there, now we also have to break things down and repair them. Let alone the fact that we are ourselves in a pity state. Taking all this in consideration we have a lot of work requiring a lot of imagination, a lot of sensibility and a fair share of disposition to metamorphosis.

There are four things to be remembered from the may 68 experience :
1. The so called vandals all-ready existed.
2. There are no successes without blocking the country.
3. Taking things on the angle of destruction of the earth, loss of meaning of everything, zombification of people, aberration of the social order, triumph of technocracy, growing sadness, capitalism made a point of realising with method all that was said of it in may 68.
4. Considering that in 68 by organising abundance the power was granted a rioting response, he then thought that by organising shortages he would maybe gain peace. Not so sure about the peace aspect, but we sure know something of shortage, as we are undoubtedly easing into it.

All in all we do not care for may 68 as much as we couldn’t care less for Cohn-Bendit being friends with Macron and Debord in the nationale library. But most of all it is not a good enough reason not to give ourselves a rendez-vous in the coming month of may. We won’t let Macron unfold his deadly plans peacefully for ten years. We won’t let our faces be trampled on while reciting lines of Molière. We wish to tear to pieces the disaster.

We could therefore do this : instead of commemorating may 68, try to organise a beautiful month of may.

Slowly making the pressure rise around the protest of the railway workers & co on the 22nd of march (what would be a strategy that outdates the police headquarters as it itself outdated the « cortège de tête » ? Why not organise on that night a large discussion open to all on what could be done in may?).

Establishing links with those who wish to act as much as they witness the fact that the powerfull « union headquarters » aren’t anymore an « adequate struggling tool », to remain polite.

Between the 22nd of march and the 31st of that month carry out actions that make it clear to the government that evictions=fight, be it for the ZAD or migrants or occupied spaces.

In April remain present, alert, but most of all prepare a truly revolutionary 1st of may in Paris. The two last ones where quite something, in spite of the growing ferocity of the police tactics. Moreover being sure that considering the date there will be a bunch of Italians, Greeks, Americans, English, Belgians, Germans that are somewhat tripping on may 68 or what happened in France theses past years. Obviously we will have to think of explicitly inviting them and making them feel they are more than welcome.

As for the following times, all is to be built , occupations, blockades, strikes, start-ups to be whipped off the map, nights of elaboration, wild demo’s like the ones we do not dare to carryout anymore, announced demo’s, a vast messing-up of the yuppified city center of Paris. We won’t be missing targets or opportunities in may 2018. For all that to happen we should from this day start encountering all the available forces from all horizons.

In short push our advantage(what the hell you are celebrating may 68 and rioting should be illegitimate, occupation illegal, a fainting power unimaginable, revolution impossible and happiness banished??!!)

Push our advantage to the breaking point. See you in a minute, round the corner, for a private chat !

Nothing has ended, all is starting

Tags: Francemay dayParis1968category: Actions
Categories: News

TFN #3: Nazi Tears and Donuts

Sun, 03/11/2018 - 12:38


This week, we look at Dick Sphincter’s failed event at Michigan State University and talk with his Nazi security team, the Turd Wankers Party. Then, we go over to Hamilton, Ontario where a crew of ninjas wrecked a bunch of yuppie businesses on one of the most gentrified strips of the city, leading to a strange friendship between the far-right white nationalists and the yuppies of the area.

To donate to the bailfund of those arrested in Michigan, go here: To donate to the Tower’s renovation fund, go here:

Download HD * SD * Translate * Subtitles

TFN 3: Nazi Tears and Donuts from sub.Media on Vimeo.

Tags: the fucking newssubmediavideocategory: Projects
Categories: News

The Unquiet Dead Chapter 3 – AudioZine

Sun, 03/11/2018 - 12:33

From Resonance: An Anarchist Audio Distro

The Unquiet Dead: Anarchism, Fascism, and Mythology – Chapter 3 the Spanish revolutionists and their betrayal – By Anonymous – MP3ReadPrint ArchiveTorrent YouTube

Chapter three of this multipart series discusses Spain before the war; the rise of the fascist; anarchist resistance; the betrayal of the revolution and its consequences.

The full text is available at; we will be posting recordings of other chapters in the future.

Helen Graham tells us of post-war Spain:

“The defeated cast no reflection. No public space was theirs. …The Republican dead could never be publicly mourned. The defeated were obliged to be complicit in this denial. Women concealed the violent deaths of husbands and fathers from their children in order to protect them physically and psychologically. In villages all over Spain, many kept secret lists of the dead. Sisters mentally mapped the location of their murdered brothers, but never spoke of these things. The silent knowledge of unquiet graves necessarily produced a devastating schism between public and private memory in Spain. It was a schism that would outlive even the Franco regime itself”

I write here in solidarity with these unquiet dead.

“People fight fascism to the extent to which they understand their own lives and freedom to be threatened by it. In the case of its immediate victims, the need for struggle is clear—which in no way diminishes the valor of their resistance. For those whose politics tell them that a threat to the freedom of any is a threat to the freedom of all, fighting fascism and its allies is a permanent necessity.”


Tags: cntDurrutiFAIFrancofascismUnquiet Deadaudiozinecategory: Projects
Categories: News

Crossword Puzzle #42: Anarcho-Pacifism

Sun, 03/11/2018 - 11:33

This weeks crossword puzzle is on Anarcho-Pacifism.

Download it here:


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. 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!: ]

Tags: beautiful crossmess parzelthis sitepdfPacifismcategory: Projects
Categories: News

Staying Solid Through The Flurry: An Anarchist Perspective on the Kirkendall Riot

Sat, 03/10/2018 - 00:46

From - Received as an anonymous submission.

I wasn’t there on Aberdeen or Locke that night. I don’t know who was, and I’m not interested in knowing who was. I don’t necessarily think it was the most strategic or timely action in Hamilton’s history of resistance, but I certainly don’t condemn it. Far from it. I think it was brave, I think it was well-executed, and I think it was a meaningful and justified act of political action against a neighbourhood that sits way too comfortably on a mountain of unearned privileges, and that flamboyantly basks in the luxuries afforded by a destructive and exploitative system.

What happened on Saturday night in the Kirkendall neighborhood was both complicated and beautiful.

That riot1 on Saturday has caused an absolute frenzy of activity in Hamilton, from face-to-face conversations to social media outbursts to organized acts of solidarity to a truly mobbish lust for punishment and retribution. Hundreds of thousands of dollars are being invested in a police operation to catch the people who did it. The tower has been attacked 3 times in as many days. I have spent countless hours on social media, read every article in every media outlet, and talked with dozens of people about it. The profound failures of emotion, of reason, and of basic journalism in this town have been stunning. While my face-to-face interactions have mostly been filled with nuance, emotional vulnerability, and politically interesting conversations, I’ve found little but malignant nonsense online. I’ve had moments of feeling literally sickened by things I’m reading. People in this city are showing their true stripes, and it’s not pretty.

Tattered Relationships

I am an anarchist born and raised in Hamilton. By anarchist, I don’t mean someone who sits behind my computer and occasionally makes broad proclamations about politics, I mean I spend a lot of my time acting and organizing against all forms of unconsensual hierarchy, domination, and most passionately, against the pillaging and destruction of this planet. I despise with every fibre of my being the ecocidal, patriarchal, white-supremacist, capitalist system that has imposed itself on this world, and that has subsumed so many aspects of our lives. I fight against the tendrils of that world wherever I can find them.

I also spend a lot of time trying to nurture and build something different. Trying to build community around radical ideas (ones that address the root of the problems), to model those ideas in our relationships, in our organizing spaces, and in our various projects. But those kind of constructive projects have limits, because in truth the only way for us to meaningfully do any of those things is to resist and ultimately destroy the systems that dominate us. They’ve got police and militaries and extensive propaganda networks and jails and judges all designed to make sure that nothing different emerges. We can’t just build new worlds. We need to destroy the systems that prevent other worlds from existing.

I am also a part of the broader Hamilton community. Maybe I’ve served you a bottle of Export at a local bar/venue, maybe I’ve taken care of your disabled uncle, maybe we regularly chat while I buy apples from you at the farmers market or maybe I even sold you organic produce once when I was working on a farm. I have a thousand “community pals” in this city, people I say hi to and share a general sense of warmth and camaraderie with. I like that about living in Hamilton. In some ways it can feel nourishing and comfortable.

One of the things that really challenges me about the riot last weekend is the extent to which it’s fractured a lot of those relationships. People know my politics, and know I have some association with the anarchist scene in Hamilton, and already I can feel the chill. I’ve had three interactions with people since Saturday who suddenly didn’t want to say hi, didn’t want to share a moment of warmth with me. They’re too upset with anarchists. They need someone to blame so they’re blaming everyone they can link to that word.

It’s absolutely juvenile.

So yes, it hurts to think that my wider social fabric in this city has been tattered a bit. It feels less comfortable here. But here’s the thing about radical politics, the kind of politics that seeks to fundamentally change the way human beings organize themselves: It’s never comfortable. And that’s what the riot in Kirkendall is about for me.

It’s about making people uncomfortable.

It’s about bursting a bubble.

The Value of Discomfort

Let’s talk about bubbles.

The majority of North Americans live in a bubble of privilege; Generally speaking, the global north amasses its privilege on the exploitation of the global south. We benefit but we don’t have to see what happens on the other side. Settlers in North America live in a bubble of privilege amassed through the colonization of this land and the displacement, enslavement, and murder of Indigenous peoples. We continue to benefit from colonization, but we’re not often made to see the historical or ongoing impacts of it. White people live in a bubble of privilege amassed on the enslavement, exploitation and incarceration of brown and black people. Onwards and onwards.

Until we get to a neighbourhood like Kirkendall. Most of the people in Kirkendall live in a dense cluster of bubbles. A complicated and overwhelming mandala of unearned privileges2, colored with apathy and framed on all sides by bourgeois morality3. And it’s very very comfortable in bubbleland. We’ve all seen those mansions on Aberdeen, we’ve all seen the luxury cars parked on Locke, we’ve all seen the cupcake boutiques: the people in that neighborhood are living decadent and comfortable lives. Whatever sob stories they’re telling right now, just remember that they’re living larger than the vast majority of Hamiltonians. It’s not that they don’t care about other people or even systems of oppression – lots of them donate to charities and advocate for living wages and compost all of their organic waste. They’re just not willing to let anything disrupt the comfort of their bubbles.

I think it’s fair to say that the people in Kirkendall felt deeply uncomfortable last weekend. Something unpleasant snuck into bubbleland, wrecked havoc on some material objects, terrified some bystanders, and dissipated before those stealthy hamilton pigs could restore order and comfort.


How You Came to Care About A Doughnut Shop

Did I mention I hate capitalism? I hate the way it organizes communities into efficient work forces to funnel money up the pyramid. I hate the way it alienates us from our capacities and desires and forces us to commodify our passions. Capitalism forces us to rely heavily, if not entirely, on a system that is not only killing the planet, but is pitting humans against each other and rapidly stockpiling all of the wealth and power in fewer and fewer hands. Everyday capitalism makes us serve the system that is crushing us.

Because it’s so pervasive, widespread and cutthroat, capitalism has colonized nearly every aspect of our lives. Everyday I make concessions to a capitalist system, not because I want to perpetuate it, but because it has literally stamped out every other option (exterminate the buffalo, toxify the water, displace and murder every non-capitalist community, use every conceivable method of torture to subdue rebellious populations, etc.). One of the most mind boggling and heartwrenching things about capitalism is that, because it has so thoroughly colonized us, it can cause an otherwise smart and creative human being to identify deeply with a silly business plans. That doughnut shop becomes more than just a way to survive in capitalism, it becomes who i am and what i stand for. We all need to hustle in a capitalist system to stay alive, to keep food on the table and heat in the ducts. Some of us come to identify with those hustles, some don’t. I feel really fucking sorry for the people who identify themselves so deeply with their hustles. There’s so much more to this life than the ways we navigate capitalism. There’s so many more interesting and urgent things to rally around and defend than broken windows in bourgeois neighbourhoods. Capitalism sucks the passion out of people and replaces it with an allegiance to a system that has been violently imposed on us.

For me meaningful passion can only exist outside of capitalism, ideally against it.

But Small Businesses!!!

One of the things that makes me laugh the most in the social media outcry this week is the assumed universality of consumer activism as a meaningful political strategy. 20 years ago leftists became really fixated on big businesses like starbucks and walmart as the main enemies in the battle against neo-liberal globalization. But since then a lot of us have realized that that is a horribly shortsighted and deeply unsatisfactory set of ideas. We don’t hate chain stores, we hate capitalism. We don’t believe for a second that better shopping habits and local organic grocery stores are going to help us radically redefine life on this planet. Those kind of approaches are placebos and security blankets for people who want to care about the world but prioritize comfort before all else. People who really like life in bubbleland but just want it to be more wholesome and less corporate. So they shop local, eat organic, bike to work. The bubbles remain unchanged, the decor is a bit more eco.

I believe that all employers are entering into an inherently exploitative relationship with their employees. Even the most respectful, well-paying, well-intentioned employer is rendering surplus capital from those they hire. I’ve been a boss before. I didn’t like it, but it was a good hustle. I didn’t come to identify with it, and if the people who worked under me ever organized against the company, I would have jumped ship on my position immediately and joined with them. I know where I belong when it comes to social agitation – aiming anger up the pyramid, not down.

Opening a small business is a hustle that inevitably perpetuates capitalism, and businesses geared specifically towards people with a lot of money (essentially every business on Locke Street) are actively shaping landscapes to be more accessible to rich people and less accessible to poor people. Gentrification is a word to describe class war – the endless movement of wealth in ways that rearrange spaces for rich people at the expense of poor people. Poor people are displaced, policed, pushed into more and more toxic environments, imprisoned, and forgotten. They are occasionally talked about by politicians looking to cash in on some of that sweet liberal sentimentality, but it never amounts to more than a few bed-bug infested low-income units and a photo-op.

People in Kirkendall and other privileged, middle-and-upper class neighborhoods in Hamilton never have to see the violent impacts of gentrification. They never have to feel the precarity, the fatigue, the terror, the frustration, the illnesses, and the despondency. They eat $5 cupcakes and read articles written by other affluent people about revitalization.

It’s not that anyone likes areas to remain poor. It’s not that we like derelict buildings or shitty fast food. It’s that moving wealth into a neighbourhood only attracts more rich people, it doesn’t fundamentally change the conditions of the people who live there. Because capitalism isn’t designed to float all boats, it mostly just becomes a process of shuffling poor people around based on the whims of rich people. Don’t be surprised when working class people stand their ground from time to time.

To Those in Kirkendall

When people attack your businesses they are trying to pop your bubbles. Make you uncomfortable. Tell you to fuck off. Because with every cent you move around your neighborhood you are creating and recreating a capitalist world that will always have poor people and that will always enact violence upon them. When people attack places like The Heather, a truly repugnant operation, it’s because that place is a Trojan horse filled with exorbitant food prices, evictions, and police.

Remember how it felt when your window got smashed? That’s how it feels for us when a rich business opens up on our block. It’s an attack. A window getting smashed is aggressive, the movement of capital is violent.

The world you are creating with your businesses may feel pleasent to you, it may create spaces that feel lovely and safe and eco to you, it may feel like part of some collective attempt to make the world a little bit better. To me and many others it is the opposite. Locke street is a nightmare. I want to fight against a world where that kind of bubbleland is possible. Where people can daily ignore their mountains of privilege while patting themselves on the back for all the hard work they put into their hustles. Because right across town are people hustling twice as hard and getting nowhere. Because right across town your friends and your money are helping to remake other neighbourhood in the image of this one. Your friendly, progressive bubble is exclusive, exploitative, and viral.

And if you came from a poor background, fuck you even more. Because there is nothing admirable about climbing the economic ladder and joining the apathetic upper classes. Under capitalism your upward mobility always comes at the expense of someone else. Always.

I have no doubt that it’s hurtful and scary and infuriating to have something that you poured a lot of time and energy into destroyed. Your car or your house or your business. I know some of you and I don’t think you’re all awful people. You’re just standing on the wrong side of a line. If you had any integrity or meaningful convictions you would use the attention brought on you this week to talk about your privilege, to talk about exploitation and poverty, to talk about capitalism, to talk about how revealing it is that people are willing to risk their lives to smash your bubble of comfort. Your sentimentality is garbage, your waves of solidarity from other rich and middle-class folks are nauseating, and your cries of surprise and confusion are laughable. If you’re surprised that people are angry about affluence, about gentrification, about bussinesses (big and small) that offer delicious organic treats to rich people while the rest of us wait in line at food basics for pesticide smothered produce, you’re not paying attention.

This world is literally on fire with people furious about the pyramid scheme of capitalism – did you think you were immune from those flames?

Staying Solid

For the lefties and radicals who’ve been running their mouths on social media: Do you remember who you were last week? I do. I remember you sharing that meme about how “The First Gay Pride Was A Riot”. I remember you glorifying uprisings all over the world. I remember you repping your “Riots not Diets” patches. I remember you swept up in drunken ecstasy at the radical hip hop show, chanting along to lyrics about fighting against capitalism, letting all of that hard hitting truth flow through your body and dissipate into a hungover burp the next morning. So what happened? Did it feel good to front a little political anger, to rep a little radical aesthetic? And now that the liberal peace of your corner coffee shop got ruptured you’re squealing all over facebook? Now that you know someone who owns a business that got smashed up you’re queasy about the idea of radically confronting capital? The truth is that an overwhelming majority of people who rep radical politics in some part of their life don’t actually stand for anything. They stand for edginess, righteousness, and for publicly absolving the guilt of privilege (white, middle-class, able-bodied, male, etc.). They venture forays into exhilarating forms of resistance, rarely put their bodies on the line, and almost never do anything that might actually threaten their long-term comfort, privilege, and stability. And in a way that’s okay. I’m glad to see who those people are right now. But I also know that’s not all of you.

Let me say this clearly: I think it’s okay if you don’t condone the tactics used on Aberdeen and Locke street that night. If you think it was pointless, unstrategic, or misdirected that’s fine. Let’s talk about that (in secure and respectful ways). But don’t let yourself be someone who dissolves like a sugar cube in a warm glass of liberal sentimentality over a small riot in a rich neighborhood. Step back from the newspapers, step back from social media, step back from your own community for a second if you have to, and ask yourself: where do you want to set your stakes in this kind of moment? Are you more angry about a group of masked people who made a significant escalation in a war against gentrifying businesses, rich people, and capitalism, or are you more angry about gentrifying busineses, rich people and capitalism? Even if you think the action was foolish, don’t let your response be another fucking voice in the shrill miasma of liberal nonsense. Stand by your own politics, and talk with the people close to you about your opinions. Just because people are scared, just because relationships are threatened, and just because you know someone who was affected, it doesn’t mean you have to check your opinions at the door. Doesn’t mean you need to distance yourself from things you held dear last week. Backing away from the radical scene now, backing away from your critiques of gentrification now – it’s true cowardice. Yes, it’s terrifying to speak out against the frantic current right now, when people are threatening to stab anyone who was involved; when friends and family are asking us invasive and accusatory questions; when hundreds of liberals and alt-right goons are tripping over each other to collaborate with the police (they always did make good bed-buddies); when it feels like small businesses are suddenly the most important and revered projects in the world. But you’ve been building a radical analysis of this world for years – I know you have enough pith in your values to withstand this flurry.

Stay solid. Don’t get wrapped up in the sentimentality. Speak your mind. And for fuck’s sake stop snitching. Talking to the police, insinuating to your friends or on social media that you know who did this, asking people to step forward, all of that is completely inexcusable behaviour that risks getting people thrown in jail for years. Remember jail? Remember that system of colonial repression that needs to be abolished entirely before any of us can be free? Right. That’s where people are going if you keep fucking talking. Are you really feeling that protective over those businesses and luxury cars, or are you just wrapped up in some toxic momentum? Next week the headlines will dissipate, the tides of social media righteousness will turn, and those of us who have been resisting systems of domination will continue to do so in solidarity with each other.

1I’m using the word riot here even though people of all stripes will probably object. I’m describing 30ish people who met in a park in an affluent neighbourhood, beat back the police, and blasted music on the streets while smashing windows and hurling eggs in plain view of bystanders. If it wasn’t a proper riot, it was at least riotous, so I’ll use that word for convenience.

2 Unearned privileges, not in the sense that you don’t bust your ass for your paycheck, unearned in the sense that capitalism doesn’t afford everyone the same rewards as you for the same amount of work. Not unearned in the sense that nothing hard has ever happened to you, but in the sense that the opportunities and chances afforded to you are rooted in long histories of patriarchy, colonization, racism, etc.

3e.g. the kind of morality that suppresses very real tensions in society with politeness, that uses the language of “equality” and “respect” to disguise gross imbalances of power, and that understands legitimate social action to be anything that doesn’t rock the boat.

Tags: hamiltonRiotcategory: Essays
Categories: News

Announcing Publication of Conflictual Wisdom

Fri, 03/09/2018 - 02:20

From It's Going Down

New anarchist publication Conflictual Wisdom addresses long term involvement in the anarchist movement and offers thoughts from a wide range of participants regarding burnout, trauma, and beyond.

Download and Print Here

We have finally finished this new project Conflictual Wisdom! Please share the pdf included here far and wide. Please distribute and print on your own! Please send feed back to conflictualwisdom @ protonmail (dot) com. We include here the introduction and table of contents. Solidarity across borders and fire to the prisons!

On What We Have Here

“Want to see the face of a coward?
It’s the back of his head as he runs from the battle.”

This project was an attempt at public introspection. It was an attempt to reach out there and see what I got in response to asking questions and sharing contemplation on public forums and private discussions. I didn’t get all the answers I wanted, but the path I’ve chosen is a path of permanent struggle and conflict, and resolution isn’t something I can expect.

Living within a society you don’t approve of that coerces you into hypocrisy, or never experiencing a free society yet fighting for one through an inner desire or theoretical dream of something else, or being forced to constantly compromise and degrade ourselves in order to simply survive, not to mention simultaneously struggle; is a recipe for inevitable confusion.

However I have gotten some insightful responses, and in the process of trying to coordinate the organization of this publishing project, I have discovered many ways to challenge my disappointments for the better, or to challenge my own self-criticism for the more constructive. I have had deep conversations with people outside of these pages, and while I question if there is enough here to answer any of the questions that lie at this project’s foundation, I still pushed myself to put something together hoping to push for more dialogue on the subject of preserving our movements and individual struggles for the long term (especially in light of Trump, climate change, and so-called hopeless end times).

I honestly don’t even know if this project will help or confuse. I think it helped me, but I’m still confused. However, I accept this inevitability, and at least I have some tangible things to blame for my confusion, or to understand what prevents me and those I love from our full potentialities as revolutionaries and as free people.

I don’t know where life will take me. Maybe to the countryside in search of a happier escapist-ish autonomy. Or maybe to the countryside to feel happier with my environment, yet also stand up to the rampant rural fascism that goes un-confronted in the states. Maybe I’ll remain in the cities in search of contributing to more visibly active anarchist struggles, or to feel more aware of the world as it is.

Am I doing enough? What degree of inconvenience to my survival is ethical for me? Do I even have such power or privilege to make a choice on the matter? Is it possible to feel any happiness in a society that I know to be so awful? Will I end up in prison? Will I die young (still a bit young-ish) or old?

Contemplation is frustrating when we are all so alienated. And while we are told that anything is possible these days, the infinite possibilities with which we are presented with leave us rootless and confused, overwhelmed, desensitized, and alienated. Even amidst this so called infinite realm of technological and consumer possibility, I will always take pride in my choice to seek more openings towards a free life and society, on my own terms (even if such attempts never materialize in the absolute, this sort of pride and willful disobedience is a victory in and of itself).

Regardless, this project and its creation come at a very troubling and existentially challenging time for me, and for the world. The endless questioning can leave you feeling bleak and helpless. We are questioning our enemy so much, that we sometimes turn against ourselves, in the sense of trying to understand why it is we are so pathetic in our resistance (even if such an assumption is mathematically flawed considering the technological apparatus of oppression and repression we face).

It’s not just our own questioning and constant struggle to keep our eyes on the road. It’s dealing with the constant threat of imprisonment, judicial intimidation, and general consequences of our choice to be in permanent conflict with domination. Of our choice to essentially be anarchist revolutionaries. This can lead to panic attacks, substance abuse, and a need to take a step back in order to hold it together. This project intends to address issues such as this with the intention of understanding such a step back as a necessary tool in self-preservation, but never grounds for betraying our movement, communities, or integrity.

This project culminates not necessarily with conclusions but with a hope of provoking or humbly guiding those sharing these struggle.

I present this to the world with all its efforts, and finish it firmly establishing that I still know I am on the right side of history. This is a victory for me, and something to get out of bed for in the morning. I feel nothing will break this commitment of my mind and heart.

I send love to those I love. I send hate to those I hate.

For an existence defined by passion, depth, desire, and struggle, for a community that is borderless and there for each other, let’s heal each other’s wounds and prevent each other from burning out, or at least keep a consistent dialogue on the subject in order to better shape our communities to be stronger against the will of our enemies. In whatever way we do this, we must get creative and challenge our hyperbolic traditions by making time for humble realities and discussions. We have to do this before it’s too late and we lose one another to the cancerous inflictions of social alienation.

The name of this project is indeed corny. Yet wisdom is defined as having intelligence or insight based on experience, and conflict is something that defines anarchists. Anarchist struggle is a relentless unforgiving permanent conflict with all facets of domination. Therefore the intention here is to provide voices of experience in the pursuit of remaining in permanent conflict. Hence, such wisdom can lie at the foundation of our battles, and in this case, the preservation of our movement.

-Anonymous / 2018

Before Opening Please Note This Project Is or Was:

*Strongly Encourages Independent Distribution
*For Entertainment Purposes Only (ACAB)
*A Not for Profit Publication
*Slowly Put-Together 2016-2018

Dedicated To:

Dedicated to those in prison or who have lost their lives resisting the world imposed upon us.
Dedicated to those who choose integrity over inconvenience (stop snitching!).
To those who choose the hard route.
To the excluded, unsponsored, and unwelcome.
To the stressed, confused, and struggling.
To the sincere, passionate, and unforgiving.

Made with love and rage.
Spring 2018.

Table Of Contents

On What We have Here
Pg. 4-5

The Call-Outs:

Preface 2016 / Pg. 6
To My Comrades / 2016 / Pg. 6
A Second Try / 2017 / Pg. 9

Responses & Related
Hello, My Dear Comrade / Pg. 11
Light & Love to You Comrade / Pg. 12
Because My Love May Be Dormant,
But It Ain’t Dead / Pg. 12
Ok Well, Enough of the Ramble / Pg. 13
Some Notes On Not Giving Up / Pg. 14
Some Thoughts from An American Comrade / Pg. 18
Let’s Make it Count / Pg.19
Understanding Lines in the Sand / Pg. 20
In a Cyclical Narrative,
The Question is Not whether You Will Win / Pg. 23
Changes: An Organizer Reflects / Pg. 25
For A Community that Can Overcome Trauma,
& Defeat Repression / Pg. 27
Instructions for An Insurrection / Pg. 32
Never Stop Searching (A Poem) / Pg. 34

With Support Of:

Tags: conflictwisdomit's going downpdfzinerelationshipsburnouttraumacategory: Projects
Categories: News

Italy: Update on “Scripta Manent” prisoners (03/2018)

Thu, 03/08/2018 - 16:20


All the defendants who are able to attend the hearings have expressed a desire to see a possible solidarity presence in the courtroom.

Marco has attended some of the last hearings, but he doesn’t know whether he will attend or not the next ones, since lately he is attending alone.

Anna obtained the permit to attend the hearings of 7th and 8th, therefore we CALL FOR A SOLIDARITY PRESENCE IN COURTROOM to give them a sign of closeness and support.

For all we know, Danilo, Alfredo and Anna get their mail regularly. They are fine and in high spirit.

Valentina is under house arrest, with all the restrictions, she can meet just few family members.

Soon an e-mail address will be available to ask for additional information about the case.

Tags: Operation Scripta Manentanarchists in troublecategory: International
Categories: News

Berlin, Germany: ‘A Message to our Unknown Comrades in the Urban Jungle of Prison Society’ by Violent Minority Cell FAI

Thu, 03/08/2018 - 16:11

via insurrection news, see more pictures there

Received on 08.03.18:

The burning of security vehicles in Berlin as a useful tool of communication.

By quoting from other responsibility claims, we follow the proposal of relating to each other in order to develop a wider mobilisation of the militant groups in Europe as well as to develope our theoretical base.

We recognized your words about solidarity and we share it, when Rouvikonas wrote about the attack at the Saudi Arabian embassy at Athens 19/12/2017:

“As anarchists we know that the only definitive answer lies on internationalist solidarity between organized, struggling oppressed peoples. We are under no illusions that at this point the still infant solidarity can overturn the plans of the global rulers. Under current circumstances what can be achieved is giving small battles, there where it is possible, in order to sabotage the war process that is under way. [This is necessary in order] to preserve social awareness, [in order] to be capitalized in case avoiding hell becomes inevitable”.

Some people in Rome express our thoughts when they claimed as Santiago Maldonado Cell FAI-IRF the Explosive Attack Against a Carabinieri Police Station in San Giovanni:

“Who wants to watch will continue to watch. Who wants to justify politically not acting will continue not doing so. We are not waiting for any train of hope, we do not wait for better times. Conditions move with the confrontation. The movement is such if it acts, otherwise it stands still. The liberation of the individual from authority and exploitation is carried out by those directly concerned.

Direct destructive action is the logical response to repression. But not solely. Anarchist praxis is also a revival, a proposal that goes beyond solidarity, breaking the spiral of repression-action-repression. Solidarity actions are impotant, but we cannot confine ourselves to the critique, however armed, of some oppressive operation or process.

Hit where they do not expect you. Today we struck in the heart of the militarized capital to challenge the delusions of security. Tomorrow, who knows, maybe in the suburbs where you least expect it. We do not make truces, we chose our own times. This has always been the principle of the metropolitan guerrilla.

With this action we launch an international campaign against the representatives, structures and means of repression. Anybody can contribute to this campaign using whatever tools they consider to be the most appropriate”.

We like to not only talk about the enemy but about us, like some comrades when they attacked the gendarmerie in Meylan/France:

“Because we do not want to remain in the position of victims that society would like to categorize us by recognizing us as women. Victims, because we would not be able to be autonomous, to defend ourselves, to lead our lives as we see fit. We would be weak individuals, too sensitive, subject to hormonal moods, dependent and fragile. We would need strong figures to rescue us, doctors to look after us, children to nurture, cops to protect us.
We prepare our revenge for all the times that we were discouraged by persuading ourselves that we were not capable, that we did not have either the skills, the strength nor the means to defuse the logic that causes us to postpone forever the moment to express our anger and our desires.

We targeted the private cars of the cops, to the indignation of the press, because we wanted to attack the individuals who wear the uniforms rather than their function, their personal property rather than their tools of work. We think that roles exist because there are people to fill them. If behind every uniform there is a human, then that is who we sought to harm.

We are convinced that our limitations are both psychological and social, that in assuming these roles we become our own cops.
By organizing in affinity, and by attacking, we push these limitations”.

Sometimes it is nessesary to define the frame in which we act, so did anarchists in Bar-le-Duc, when they spent a lot of rage and some flames at ENEDIS car park:

“In recent months, several attacks against ENEDIS have been claimed, we wanted to echo them, it made us happy, and ours is a nod to the people who came into play in order to carry them out.

We believe that there is no need to wait to be many to attack, that only a few can also do so, the possibilities are different, but no less pleasing. We welcome the recent attacks on the relay antennas, which open up new prospects for direct action”.

In the morning hours of March 6th we attacked the delusion of security in Berlin. Even in times that we are a few, we can organize ourselves instead of waiting for an opportunity that is given to us by the so called ‘organizers of the movement’ or just to react on another attack by authorities. We can act and choose our moments on our own.

Everyday we are told to remain silent, governed by the state and its institutions that secure the capitalist world. People fill their minds with stupid stuff, head down staring on their smartphones only to look away when an inspector is controlling tickets in the train, when a pig is telling a homeless person to go away where he just found a warm place, when German arms are murdering Kurdish people in Erdogan’s genocidal war. For now we targeted security companies but any other company, upholding the capitalist and authoritarian structures, can be the target. Any night can be a night of attack.

We burned cars from Bosch and Tyco in Berlin-Pankow, Bosch is a well known security company. Its technology is in many surveillance installations, in pig stations, prisons, border fences, CCTV equipment…

Tyco is a company which runs the alarm installations in prisons with so called ‘Business Logic Engines’. They give prison guards the opportunities of the smart city – tracking of prisoners by RFID chips.

We send solidarity and rage to the imprisoned and persecuted anti-fascists and anarchists in Russia.

We heard your voices, you‘re not alone. Though we are not able to physically open the gates of the prisons, anarchist ideas and solidarity overcomes borders, gates and walls and can fill our souls even in times of torture and the hardest repression.

We followed the news about Dinos’s struggle in Greece against the prison administration. With our arsons we support this way of resistance – the anouncement from Korydallos prisoners and the threat from affinity groups outside, to attack every day and destroy the city, is the adequate strategy in this confrontation with the state.

This action is also dedicated to Lisa in the prison of Willich and the prisoners of Hambacher Forst resistance.


Informal Anarchist Federation – Violent Minority Cell

(originally posted on Indymedia)

Tags: anarchist solidarityproperty destructiontacticsBerlingermanycategory: Essays
Categories: News

Prosecutors Say A Woman Who Went Undercover With An "Anarchist Extremist Group" Will Testify At Inauguration Protest Trials

Wed, 03/07/2018 - 20:17

by Zoe Tillman, via BuzzFeed News

In the next round of trials against people charged with rioting during President Donald Trump's inauguration, federal prosecutors want to put a witness on the stand under an alias who spent two years undercover with "an anarchist extremist group" in New York.

Prosecutors said in court papers filed March 2 that the witness, referred to as "Julie McMahon," is no longer working undercover, but they warned that revealing her identity could jeopardize ongoing "covert operations" and also put her security at risk. McMahon will testify about the use of the "black bloc" tactic during protests on Jan. 20, 2017, according to the government.

There are 59 people still facing criminal charges in connection with the mass arrests in Washington, DC, during anti-Trump demonstrations on Inauguration Day. Following the full acquittal last year of the first six defendants to go to trial, the US attorney's office announced in January that it would drop charges against 129 of the 188 remaining defendants.

The prosecution told the court at the time that it planned to focus its efforts on defendants who allegedly engaged in "identifiable acts of destruction, violence, or other assaultive conduct," participated in planning violence and destruction, or who knowingly participated in what's known as "black bloc" tactics in order to aid violence and destruction.

The next trial is scheduled to begin on March 26, although four of the five defendants have asked to delay the trial for various reasons, including personal conflicts and difficulties going through all of the evidence in time. The government is opposing the request.

The government plans to call "Julie McMahon" to testify about the "black bloc" tactic, according to its latest filing. A black bloc is commonly described as a group of protesters who wear all black clothing, along with black masks or other gear that makes it harder to identify them as individuals. The government's theory in the Inauguration Day cases is that the defendants conspired to participate in a black bloc to make harder for police to identify individuals who engaged in violence and property destruction.

The government has said the Jan. 20 demonstrations caused more than $100,000 in property damage across downtown Washington. Throughout the protests, individuals would run out, break the windows of stores and cars, and then rejoin the crowd. Most of the remaining 59 defendants face at least eight criminal counts — one felony count of inciting a riot, two misdemeanor counts of engaging in a riot and conspiracy to riot, and five felony counts of property destruction.

The government said in its latest court filing that it intends to call "Julie McMahon" to testify about how a black bloc typically works, and how she believes it was used on Jan. 20, including the clothing demonstrators wore, objects that were later found on the scene — including crowbars and other weapons — and the use of "marshals, scouts, and medics."

"Ms. McMahon will further opine that, in her training and experience, the 'black bloc' tactic is only used when individuals within the group intend to engage in acts of violence and destruction, and that the 'black bloc' tactic is a known term within the anarchist movement," prosecutors wrote.

McMahon worked undercover — though the filing does not say for whom — infiltrating an "anarchist extremist group" in New York from 2008 to 2010 and took part in a black bloc during protests in Pittsburgh in 2008 during the G20 conference, according to the government. She was going to participate in a black bloc as part of the Occupy New York movement, but that "did not materialize as expected," prosecutors wrote.

Prosecutors said McMahon also worked undercover in public corruption and foreign counter-intelligence operations, and previously had been allowed to testify in court under an alias in criminal cases in federal court in New York.

The Confrontation Clause of the US Constitution gives defendants the right to face and cross-examine witnesses against them in court. Prosecutors said they would provide the defense with McMahon's real name and job history so they could prepare questions for her, under the condition that they not be allowed to reveal her identity to anyone else.

The government said the precautions were needed not only to protect operations that McMahon had been part of, but also to protect her — prosecutors said the lead prosecutor, Assistant US Attorney Jennifer Kerkhoff, and the lead detective had been harassed as personal information about them spread last year. According to the government, Kerkhoff received a "targeted mailing" at her home that included a picture of her with the letters "CFM" on her body, which the government said often refers to the phrase, "Come Fuck Me."

A spokesperson for the US attorney's office declined to comment. The government filed notice about its intent to introduce McMahon in the cases set for trial March 26 and April 17; defense lawyers in those cases either declined to comment or did not return requests for comment.

Dylan Petrohilos, one of the defendants in the April 17 trial group, told BuzzFeed News that the description of McMahon's work was proof of a "long-term strategy where the state has ... clamped down on civil liberties in the name of trying to go after this anarchist bogeyman."

"This is part of a long-term trend of surveillance of activists that is unfortunately becoming more and more the norm," Petrohilos said. He declined to comment on whether he would challenge allowing McMahon to testify under an alias.

Tags: MSMj20infiltratoranarchists in troublecategory: Other
Categories: News