by Rick Paulas, via the New York Times
Anti-fascist activists believe in dressing for the job they want. Right now, many think, that job is punching Nazis.
In late August, a crowd of thousands — primarily leftists and liberals — cascaded down Martin Luther King Jr. Way in Berkeley, Calif. They were marching on a spattering of right-wingers, Trump supporters and Nazis who were gathering under the mission to say “no to Marxism in America.” At the front of the march were about 100 people dressed in head-to-toe black.
According to many people present, this was the largest so-called black bloc they’d seen. This medley of black-clad anarchists, anti-fascists (known as “antifa” activists) and their fellow travelers was a response to the previous week’s white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va. There, protests ended with 19 injured and 32-year-old Heather Heyer killed when James Fields, an admirer of Hitler who demonstrated with white supremacists, drove his car into a crowd.
This mass of solid black descending upon the park in Berkeley, hunting for fascists, was an intimidating aesthetic. That’s by design.
“Cops wear camouflage when they arrest people in city drug raids,” said Ben, a Bay Area activist. “But they’re in a city. It doesn’t help them, but it makes them look more intimidating.” Ben says he has participated in protests since 2000, including Bush/Gore, Occupy Oakland and Black Lives Matter. (The Times agreed to use only his first name because of the threat of harassment, online or otherwise, by activists.) “A group of people all dressed in black can be intimidating,” he said.
Is that intimidation the motive or just a benefit? Do black bloc practitioners dress up because, as many progressives wonder, they want to commit crimes? What do they get out of “masking up”? Where does uniform merge with tactic?
Stephen Loewinsohn for The New York Times
By now, you know the look. Black work or military boots, pants, balaclavas or ski masks, gloves and jackets, North Face brand or otherwise. Gas masks, goggles and shields may be added as accessories, but the basics have stayed the same since the look’s inception.
It’s impossible to say which anarchist street movement first donned all black. The generally agreed-upon genesis for the bloc’s current incarnation is the Autonomen movement of the 1970s, which grew out of class struggles in Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and beyond. (Antifa groups, an overlapping but not at all identical set of people, trace their lineage back further, to those who fought against the rise of Hitler; generally, where there is “fa,” there’s been “antifa.”)
According to a history distributed by an anarchist news service in 2001, by Daniel Dylan Young, a continuing struggle in Germany between squatters and police evictors culminated in a 1981 action in which activists dressed in “black motorcycle helmets and ski masks,” wearing “uniform black clothing.”
Nearly immediately, the benefits of such a uniform were realized.
“Everyone quickly figured out,” Mr. Young wrote, that “having a massive group of people all dressed the same with their faces covered not only helps in defending against the police, but also makes it easier for saboteurs to take the offensive against storefronts, banks and any other material symbols and power centers of capitalism and the state.”
Both the ease of uniform procurement — the barrier to entry is just getting black clothes, with only your own ethical purchasing guidelines to steer you — and the aesthetic’s effectiveness allowed black blocs to spread. During Ronald Reagan’s visit to Berlin in 1986, a group of 3,000 showed up, according to Mr. Young; in 1999, a bloc of 500 was part of the “March for Mumia” in Philadelphia, protesting the imprisonment of the journalist Mumia Abu-Jamal. That same year, between 100 and 300 people became the bloc at the World Trade Organization meeting in Seattle.
A demonstrator belonging to the so-called black bloc in Genoa, Italy, on the second day of the Group of 8 summit meeting in 2001. Credit Agence France-Presse
It was a look so successful that the bloc’s greatest enemies considered adopting it. As Mark Bray details in his incisive “Antifa: The Anti-Fascist Handbook,” there have been occasional attempts to co-opt the bloc look by right-wing fascist groups. That’s died down recently, with the loose overlapping affiliation of nationalists, white supremacists and Nazis instead adopting an overdressed, old-fashioned style often referred to as “dapper.”
So, while they wear khakis and white polos, the black bloc are left with some particular defensive and offensive benefits of their very own.
The creation of mass anonymity protects practitioners from the threat of post-action doxxing by white supremacist groups, a process by which their identities and contact information, including addresses and places of employment, are publicized. People at home can use this information to harass and threaten. Similarly, police and other agencies have staff devoted to documenting demonstrations, and they work to identify people on film and video. These are among the reasons that some anarchists and anti-fascists advocate smashing cameras at demonstrations.
As surveillance techniques have advanced and proliferated — the rise of the high-resolution portable phone camera along with social media means more documentation and more distribution than ever — practitioners have evolved from covering up obvious markers like tattoos, birthmarks and scars to hiding biometric indicators like ears and noses. Some in black blocs say they have heard of people placing weights in belts to alter their gaits.
“I’ll often look through pictures from the demonstration and see if I can spot myself in any of them,” said Elle Armageddon, a Bay Area activist and writer. “If I can’t find any pictures of myself, I feel like I’ve done O.K.”
A protester at Occupy Oakland in 2011. Credit Stephen Loewinsohn
Elle Armageddon (likely not a birth name) is the author of “The Femme’s Guide to Riot Fashion,” published at the website of CrimethInc., which describes itself as a “rebel alliance — a decentralized network pledged to anonymous collective action.” The guide recommends that femmes, meaning people of any gender, with long hair use tucked-in braids, and that they layer masks for full facial coverage. It also reminds us all that “shoes make or break an outfit.”
There is solid beauty advice as well: “A layer of glitter or highlighter dusted over your cheeks can serve double duty, showing off your glorious bone structure while simultaneously providing a helpful way to determine which side of your bandanna was in contact with your face and which side is saturated in tear gas particulate.” (Also, jean shorts are probably not ideal.)
There is more practical advice on how to dress for a riot. One should decide on organic or synthetic gloves before participating in an action: Wool and cotton may allow chemical contaminants, like pepper spray, to absorb, while nylon can melt if you grab something hot, which historically has included some kinds of tear-gas canisters but can include various things on fire.
One Antifa “fashion don’t” is carrying cellphones. The American Civil Liberties Union reports that 72 agencies in 24 states and Washington, D.C., have “simulators” that mimic cellphone towers in order to track people.
Masked demonstrators marched down Market Street in San Francisco in 2017. Credit Stephen Loewinsohn
These defensive methods work only if there are enough black-clad others nearby. A single person in all black and multiple face masks is an eye grabber. This effect of anonymity-by-mass has allowed for the offensive side of bloc tactics to flourish. The uniformity camouflages those who participate in illegal acts like property damage, refusing police orders or physical assault against white supremacists or Nazis. This willful protection of the group is embedded in the style’s aesthetic.
“People sometimes do things that are illegal, but I think they’re ethical,” Ben said. “I’m happy to be in this mass that creates anonymity for those people, even if they’re doing things I’m not willing to do.”
Tactical considerations aside, it’s this emotional connection with other members of the bloc that many practitioners highlight the most in interviews. “Uniformity of characteristics” and a visual sense of equality have a way of, as research published in 2015 put it, giving “rise to feelings of solidarity.” It’s why soldiers and police have uniforms. It’s why sports teams have apparel for themselves and their fans, why brands have logos and consistent colorways, why fascists get slightly too-short versions of David Beckham haircuts and pin frogs to their lapels.
But unlike hierarchal uniforms like those of the military, say — or even the difference between worker and management clothes at somewhere such as McDonald’s — black bloc fashion allows no room for rank to enter the style. It’s all black and that’s it.
(Other leftist movements use similar techniques. The Zapatista Army of National Liberation in Chiapas, Mexico, which rose after the 1994 passage of the North American Free Trade Agreement, takes the approach of cultivating equality through anonymity by wearing balaclavas or handkerchiefs over the face, but pairs them with the militant gear of armed struggle or indigenous elements.)
Min, an activist who participated in the Inauguration Day actions in Washington known as J20, and who asked to be identified only by her first name, said that, because of the cold that day, many bloc practitioners were also dressed in parkas. This had the effect of erasing almost all identifying characteristics, including ethnicity and gender.
A demonstration in Berkeley, Calif., in August 2017. Credit Jim Wilson/The New York Times
“It was like a goth party,” Min said. “There were queer people, black people, white people, Asian people, and, because, we were all wearing black, there was no way to even think about the things that are often barriers to our connection.” Min said this anonymity, where she was unable to identify even people around her, had a way of purifying her actions. “There’s a difference between me helping you because I know you and care about you, and me helping you because I want you to be helped,” she said.
Min is an artist. For her, this is one of the most unappreciated aspects of black bloc as a style. It’s tactical, and practical, and it’s also an art form with the effect of building solidarity long after the boots go into the closet. The experience of being enveloped in anonymity helps retain the movement’s ideology, after the balaclavas get folded up and stacked in the drawer.
“In spheres where we don’t have uniforms, we really embrace individuality,” Min said. “But black bloc creates a feeling of ‘Who you are is who I am.’ Of ‘It doesn’t matter who I am when we’re fighting together.’”
A version of this article appears in print on November 30, 2017, on Page D1 of the New York edition with the headline: Black Is Always in Fashion.Tags: black blocMSMfashioncategory: Essays
via the Salford Star
The Manchester and Salford Anarchist Bookfair, which has been going for 16 years, kicks off at Partisan on Cheetham Hill Road next Saturday, 2nd December, and has everything you'd expect from a full on, seven hour radical event.
Sponsored by The Cunningham Amendment, the longest surviving anarchist journal in the UK, the Bookfair has loads of anarchist stuff but a hell of a lot more besides.
Our favourite is the intriguing 'radical bird walk' called Reclaiming the Hides where, instead of spying on the winged wonders through binoculars, the walk and talk sets out to "explore the radical examples set by birds, and to reframe birdwatching as an act that, while not revolutionary in itself, is one worthy of anyone who wants to build a better world"...included will be "references to class war, the disestablishment of nation states, polyamory and alternative forms of parenting".*
Amongst the eleven talks at the Bookfair, there's also one on 'conspiracy theories', one on 'anarchist approaches to youth work' and a session on 'Spycops' in which activists targeted by spycops talk about the issue.
Other fascinating talks include Personalities out of Politics, Issues into Politics!, including an update from the Zapatista Communities in Mexico, and Subvertising and Détournement with the Brandalism Collective...
"The art of subverting advertising is growing in popularity as a means to reclaim public space from corporate messages" states the blurb "In this session, we'll look at some of the critiques of corporate advertising centred around consumerism, gender stereotypes, environmental justice, cultural values and the right to the city concept. We'll also take a look at the some of the latest creative methods from around the world in taking back public space."
Meanwhile, there's loads of stalls featuring everything from radical 'zines to DIY record labels, to collective book publishers, to social justice causes.
Stalls include ACORN, a tenants union starting a branch in Manchester; the Mary Quaile Club, which specialises in linking working class history with contemporary political issues; Street Edge Manchester, a radical working class sports and martial arts club where you pay-what-you-can-afford; the ace AK Press, a worker-run collective that publishes anything and everything independent and amazing; and Pumpkin Records, a collective that does records, gigs, festivals and recordings, and invites anyone to get involved.
For the first time, this year, the Salford Star is also having a stall at the Bookfair, where we will be flogging our latest line of hoodies, sweatshirts and mugs, and we'll have old 'collectable' copies of magazines available: plus our volunteer journalists, photographers and helpers will be on hand to discuss any crucial Salford issues.
The Manchester and Salford Anarchist Bookfair is where alternative Manchester and Salford comes together in a connecting showcase. If you've had enough of the endless Christmas markets and festive hype, this is the ultimate antidote...
There's also an after-fair party from 7pm to 11pm starring the relatively named Crywank, Epic Problem, Bolshy, Rotting Monarchs and Kiss Me, Killer... The after-fair show is £5 entrance in advance – for more details click here
The Manchester and Salford Anarchist Bookfair
Saturday 2nd December 11am-6pm
19 Cheetham Hill Road M4 4FY
The event is free entrance.
For further details and a full list of stalls and talks see www.bookfair.org.uk
* The Reclaim The Hides walk and talk is due to happen between 2pm and 4pm and is free (donations welcome). Anyone interested is asked to register in advance for confirmed details – click here. For further information also see the Facebook event page – click here
Full list of talks...
11:30am: The Future Anarchist Society
A talk by the Anarchist Federation North
12:30pm: Clousden Hill
An experiment in integrating new technology with co-operative living and working in the 1890s. Their story still offers insights into the problems of communal life and the relationship between 'utopias' and the wider world
1:30pm: 21st Century Anarcho-Syndicalism
Outlines how anarcho-syndicalism is adapting to the current rapidly changing economic and social climate.
2:30pm: Conspiracy/ WTF Capitalism
Plan C deliver a condensed version of the talk on conspiracy theories that was given at this year's Fast Forward Festival
Activists who are, or have been targeted by spycops talk about the issue. Plus an update on the state of the public inquiry on undercover policing.
4:30pm: In Defence of Youth Work
Discussion of anarchist approaches to youth work
12:30pm: Unlikely Heroes
Walter Lewis talks about his time seeking out and visiting small scale, organic farmers and growers across England and Wales, many of whom are motivated by an environmental activism.…
2pm Radical Birdwalk
2:30pm: An Introduction to the IWW
Interactive workshop in which participants can learn some of the up-to-date techniques which the IWW uses for on-the-job action. The IWW is a grass roots union that has struggled for workers' power around the globe since 1905.
3:30pm: Subvertising and Détournement with the Brandalism Collective
Will look at some of the critiques of corporate advertising centred around consumerism, gender stereotypes, environmental justice, cultural values and the right to the city concept, plus the latest creative methods from around the world in taking back public space.
4:30pm: Personalities out of Politics, Issues into Politics!
Update from the Zapatista Communities in Mexico, and information and debate on their most recent initiative as part of their long-term thinking.
A LETTER OF SOLIDARITY FROM THE YEAR 3017
This is a message of love and support for the earth liberation fighters who held down the 2017 Olympia anti-fracking rail blockade, from a collective of free mutants located – not in space, as are the origin points of most gestures of solidarity, but in time. We can’t be certain but most in our world are sure that it just over one thousand years since the date of your magnificent action. The events you took part in are located at a polyphasic rift in the skein of space-time – a thin, partially torn zone where different points on multiple, concurrent dimensional timelines can co-exist – and in fact your blockade actually helped widen the time-rift to the point that we could get this communication back to you. This is far from the first message we’ve been able to get back to your age – in fact we have gotten millions back, but our powers of communication are usually weakened by the immense distance and are often location-specific, to the point that many who have and will receive our urgent messages of support, advice and warning are considered insane in your time, or in left-leaning small towns are known as extremely weird writers or artists. In fact most of those to whom we have made contact had to make recourse to psychedelic visions, trance states, or dreams to receive and relay our messages. We are writing to you, our ancestors, from our ritual circle at the exact place of your blockade on the tracks except we are from the future you have helped to safeguard.
You made your Stand in an area we know as one of the ancient First Places of Resistance, where your global civilization, enslaved by an increasingly self-aware and demented industrial megamachine – known to us and a few of you as Leviathan – began its final phase of annihilation. In our time we remember your blockade as one of the many great sites of creative rebellion against the accelerating death-drive of your civilization, and as an attempt to move beyond both the joyless, often cynical fatalism of the so-called “environmental” consciousness of your time and the sickening passivity of your “normal, law-abiding” peers. The anti-fracking barricades you helped to maintain are one of the marker-events of what we call the Years of Understanding, when many humans began to realize there would be no escape from the world they and their ancestors had seriously damaged – not into space, as many will desperately and foolishly hope, not into a clean, “green” technological version of the capitalist hell-world as it was at the beginning of the 21st century, as Normals and even some “radicals” will blindly believe, and certainly not into the celestial heaven hoped for by the followers of the Dead God, whom you know as Christians – although many of their souls will finally be removed from the Cycles of Rebirth during the Years of Awakening about 150 years from your current time.
You can’t know it yet, and in order to maintain the Balance we cannot reveal too much, but the century following your action will be harder on your human race and our shared god-planet than any your people have yet seen – suffice to say that the projections of mass die-offs, self-destructive warfare and industrial collapse, and increasing climate catastrophe are all in some way going to come to pass. Although many of the Normals of your age refuse to admit it, the process of mass bio-death and transformation begun during the 20th century set the stage for what we now know was a great phase-shift in the lifewave of our planet, a time beginning around your own when many Forms perished in order to teach humanity the consequences for breaking its ancient pact with the Earth. The coming years will reveal so much to you, though much of it will be painful. All lifeforms will continue their processes of mutation in response to the toxins, radiations, electrical pollutions and extreme climate conditions of the post-industrial and digital centuries, creating many new species and Forms: some will be hideously nightmarish, like the acid-blind rats of your massive landfills and the super-powerful bacteria which will wipe out so many of you, created by your society’s massive reliance on antibiotic medicine; some will be grotesquely perfect or specialized, genetically engineered during the years before the Blackout to fill some absurd role in the collapsing capitalist economy, like pesticide-tolerant corn, ultra-docile cows, and gene-designed humans, all of whom, we know, will pass away into the Dust after their host corporations stop constantly producing them because they lack the Life-Spark, the true will to survive which cannot be lab-produced; a precious few of the new Forms will be purely miraculous, like the mutagenic Fungi which will help you and other mammals survive the waves of radiation released by your collapsing nuclear plants, the algae which evolved to break down the fuels and plastics your peers carelessly released into the wondrous Oceans of your age, and even you yourselves.
Your species is already transforming and evolving, developing wildly complex psychic and aetheric powers like those of your ancient ancestors which are in our time completely normal, although many who herald the Change during your years will be cast out, medicated into submission, imprisoned, punished, lulled into the Humming Quiet by your digital devices or just ignored as dreamers and magicians. The devastating wars, pogroms, concentration camps, refugee crises, rural extermination and urban pacification programs your world has been experiencing for so long will continue for more generations, and many of your kind will lose all hope. So much will be lost forever during the years you have yet to live. Across your time-space, the Police and the Normals they guard and control will continue to ravage our homeworld, trying to continue feeding the Leviathan, taking more ore and oil from the Earth’s body, filling more stores with useless and expendable garbage, taking increasingly desperate measures to avoid the truth that their death-trip is coming to an end. Ironically, before we found these thin zones in the space-time membrane – where we can directly observe and contact the past and future – much of what we knew of the 21st century was gleaned from excavations by wandering seekers of those great warehouses of abandoned merchandise which belonged to the god-corporations of your time such as Wal-Mart, Best Buy, and Safeway. There are vast, ruinous museums in our world where the amassed detritus of your aeon is laid out in chronological sequence, from the undecayed ammunition casings of the World Wars to the infinitely preserved snack pastries and candy bars of the late 20th to the titanic piles of small rectangular screen-devices your people seem to worship, and which will domesticate you better than any whip or cage. When we look back through our circles in these rift-places, however, where we can use the Sight to watch you and our other ancestors, we understand the desperation of your present moment, and the courage it takes to resist its onslaught. It is no coincidence that your media culture is already filled with films and books and other works of art which dream of the Leviathan’s destruction – some of them, such as The Road Warrior, 28 Days Later, 12 Monkeys, The Matrix, and Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind survived the centuries of ruin and are still shown often in our villages to remind us of what it was like in your time…
We did not craft this message, however, to tell you that all is lost. In a sense, nothing is lost. EVERYTHING IS ALWAYS BEGINNING. All events and entities have their place in the Cycles and occur for a reason. Those of you who believe in and act for the planetary lifeforce, known as Gaia, Nature, Pan, and many other names, must know in your hearts that even the mass extinction and cruel materialism of your age would not exist if they did not serve the evolution of the grand Saga of the Worlds. Many of the enemies of freedom and wildness of your time – like the Police, the Technocrats, the Patriarchs, and the Consumers – will be wiped out in the centuries that follow your own, though they will continue lashing out until their annihilation point. Take heart. We cannot say how, and we cannot reveal much more than we already have, or else the Balance may curve and warp and our times may be severed from one another. The powers we freely possess and their art are already known to you, and in some senses have been with your species since long before the Change – the Normals of your age often derisively called them Spiritual Technology, or Magic. Their lessons are few but powerful: all that can be imagined is already real; true power arises from the Earth and the other Spheres; other Worlds are possible; laughter is the true safeguard of sanity; Belief is the secret key. There is so much more to say but our link is becoming frayed – the presence of Police and Tech-Normals thickens the Veil and can temporarily erase the time-rifts we use to reach you – we will try to share more from when we can rest and re-cast our circle…
Many will approach your rebel bases and claim that the hour is too late, that the megamachine can’t be stopped, that one train won’t tip the scales, that it’s already over. From our perspective one thousand years in the future, however, sitting as we do among the massive trees and fungal gardens and meteor scars and stone shrines which now overlay this train track you are blocking, nothing could be further from the truth. Every single action mattered. We remember you, the blockade on the railroad you have bravely created, and the adventure you all lived together as one of the first of many acts of the Long Uprising, when the Earth called the last of her warriors to protect the life that remained so that the Cycles could continue, though each moment seemed to bring new horrors and the Normals hunted, repressed and imprisoned the free mutants almost into extinction. There is no such thing as a lost act of rebellion.
WITH ENDLESS LOVE,
SOME OF THE UNBORN CHILDREN OF THE ATOM
I didn’t see it until 8:30 in the morning, while shirking my duties and privileges as a college student to pay attention in class. Dark, blurry videos and photos populated Oly Stand’s Twitter, posted only a couple of hours ago. “#olympiablockade against #fracking raided this morning!” tweeted Demand Utopia. “There are over 50 cops from multiple jurisdictions and armored vehicles. There is a work crew and about 4 heavy pieces of equipment (backhoes, bulldozer/bobcat, cranes). In addition to aircraft that is circling the #OlympiaBlockade” tweeted Olympia Stand, accompanied by more dark photos. Lastly, a simple text tweet: “The #OlympiaBlockade has been raided. More updates soon,” given around 5 in the morning.
I struggled to make out shapes and forms in the dark setting, pictures of black streets illuminated by phone flashes and distant street lights – squinting hard, the outlines of cops in full riot gear became apparent. POLICE is emblazoned on their chests in another photo. A video depicted a large truck being backed into the area; while silenced on the autoplay, an industrial beast growled and grunted. Another tweet by Olympia Stand read, “All the comrades are out of the #OlympiaBlockade. No arrests have been made.” I could only imagine a bunch of punk kids, spray-painting a wall with magic spells, conjuring tricks in tarps to resurrect a giant anti-capitalist hydra, and scrambling to the hills to watch it duke out with the industrial complex’s own monster.
If I had gone to Olympia that morning, all I would’ve seen is a collection of tarps and folks’ personal belongings, spilling out of a Bobcat, hopefully back onto the rail it was trying to “clean up”. I half-wondered out of my anger whether the sunflower seed butter and charcoal I donated was still in the wreckage.
From the high point on Jefferson as it leaves 8th Street, the Blockade truly was a circus with its poles rooted in the gravel, nestled among Scots broom and Himalayan blackberry. Blue and brown tarps haphazardly held together, probably leaking water somewhere somehow, upturned pallets and spray-painted slogans, the statement to no one and everyone in general, “Our Port Supports Fracking with Our Tax$”, and the rainbow variant of the Antifa flag, it culminated in a beautiful visual disaster that lived, respiring with the strong northbound gusts, cardiac rhythms beat out by a kid really going at it on a bass tom. The Blockade had grown since my last time there. A watch tower platform resting on cinderblocks, ceilinged with a tarp, hugged the staircase leading into the south part of the Blockade like a inebriated kid struggling to stand. A small barrel fire stirred nearby, and the two kids monitoring the south huddled over it. One of them was the same kid who radio’d me in the first time I came around. Elsewhere in the camp, a tarp structure labeled as a free skool was set up on the south side of the tracks. Scattered on the inside table were a few Crimethinc publications and a sign labelled “quiet zone”, or as-quiet-as-a-kid-banging-on-a-bass-tom-can-get zone. Nearby, a new tented room was set up, straddling ever-present mud puddles in the gravel.
In-and-out kids of all various backgrounds came and went, twenty-somethings, Evergreen kids, transient kids, homeless folk, thirty- to forty-year-olds bearing donations every once in a while… the daytime crew, as I was told, was a lull. The inside of the structure during the day was dormant, with most folk napping without stirring on the couches scattered about in the space. Even the pigs, as I patrolled and south and radio’d in sightings, seemed not half-concerned with the Blockade. When nights came, fairy lights, tea candles, and barrel fires lit up the Blockade, and even more folks from further strains of life came in to hang around the bonfire. Artifacts, namely, a flyer, read out a list of events happening on Saturday afternoon: Decolonizing Language, Radical Herbalism, Climb Training… Punk concerts and film screenings also transpired (and I am still sore that I missed them). On Monday I roasted marshmallows with two others, sucking the chemical combustion right off the makeshift skewer, and that was just as alright too.
The Blockade was truly a circus.
The cacophony of voices at the Blockade denied the Port of Olympia’s desire to classify it into one concise list of demands, one opinion – that’s what makes it beautiful. The desire was obvious when Port commissioners “invited” members of the Blockade to an “advisory” session on Monday night’s meeting as part of a “dialogue”, “in the interest of harmony” in Port Commissioner Downing’s words. He left empty-handed but iron-fisted. A representative of the Tulalip Tribe and the Indigenous Caucus, a land and water protector, demanded that the Port consult indigenous folk in their decision-making. In reference to Standing Rock, she says “We don’t always agree among ourselves, but [indigenous people] gathered at Standing Rock to make a stand… because we feel so strongly about this”.
What follows are some excerpts of commissioners’ responses to “general public opinion. Port Commissioner Zita, the “liberal” of the three commissioners (and honestly the only somewhat pleasant one), placates “I hear a lot of people concerned about the blocked train tracks.” and “We have an opportunity to listen to people, to work with the City, to work with the Olympia Police Department, to work with the public, to try to compromise, communicate, work for a peaceful settlement.” Commissioner Downing: “I believe in global warming and it’s a bad situation and we need to do something about it… so let’s work towards a solution.” Commissioner McGregor: “…it’s unfortunate that other companies in this community that provide well-paying jobs are being impacted by the fact that the trains are sitting… and [the train’s cargo] is production that they need to get into in order to make some of the great things that we buy at the store called Pepsi or Coke or whatever they’re bottling at the time…” It sounds like the woman who announces for Sound Transit Express buses, “Approaching: Apocalypse and Slow-Burning Extinction.”
Some voices of or associated with the Blockade did show up that night. The same representative of the Indigenous Caucus pointed out the Port’s claim that there are only two affinity groups organizing the Blockade. In response: “There are many affinity groups coming together and no one group speaks for the Blockade, the action… It’s a little more complicated [than last year].” She spoke of the threat of fracking to water and communities, of escalating natural disasters, of 1000-men worker camps imperializing upon Native bodies in Canada, of indigenous resistance. Another voice (whom I had trouble with distilling into one unified statement, funnily enough) defended the effectiveness of direct action, since “writing letters doesn’t really get you anywhere.”, proclaimed unity of folk at the Blockade with indigenous resistance, democratic control of Port development amidst “million-dollar townhouses being built on Port land… when we have people out in the cold, things that the community needs.” One voice representing a Libertarian Socialist caucus had a set list of demands they wanted, consultation and consent of indigenous folk, democratic control of the Port, no more fossil fuel transport, a transition to green jobs out of the Port and cooperative economy in Thurston County, shoreline ecological restoration. Even a “Voltairine de Cleyre” spoke at the meeting.
In response, Commissioner McGregor, expressing his frustration with a lack of unity of demands of the Blockade, quoted a recent list of demands, “… I went online and looked at some of the social media out there, and I find something from someone called ‘Us at the Olympia Commune’,” (cue my bright shining eyes), “… ‘We have investigated our desires and come up with some ideas about what we really want the result of this Blockade to be. Number one: Make the Port a beach again. Two: Blow up the sun… the complete destruction of time itself’…” (cue numerous anarchist cackles), “…‘that while science still exists, one of us is, be endowed with…’ and I’m not sure how to say this, ada.. adamaytium-laced skeleton… I mean how serious are [these lists of demands]?”
Most of the voices at the Blockade didn’t show up to the meeting. Most were roasting and toasting by the fire, probably eating dinner, banging on the one bass tom, fucking around on the 6-string-made-five guitar, smoking weed, having “a fun time”, and having “pizzas […] delivered, and turkeys and chickens… they’re gonna have a dance” as Commissioner McGregor said. The circus makes a good theatre without even having to act.
The pictures on Twitter are in daylight now: the pigs in black riot gear and the green armed forces came with their industrial machines and swept away everything material, seizing the belongings of a person across the way who wasn’t even involved in the Blockade. “Militarized Police force of this size needed to break up peaceful water protectors? Is this necessary?” writes Oly Stand on their Twitter page. It was a strategic show of force to impose fear, to counter the almost 2 weeks of momentum the Blockade created; thank Whoever that no one physically was injured or arrested (as of late November 29th).
There was never room for negotiation with the Port. There was never anyone who would listen on the Port’s side to economically inefficient demands. There was also never any one person who could negotiate on the part of the entire Blockade, only a blaring roar that reverberates not in conference rooms, but on colonized, occupied Nisqually and Squaxin land, on spray-painted walls, in musical instruments, through skillshares. The entropy is high with each varied opinion on what would be best for the world, while everyone simultaneously creates that new world every day. Despite the disunity, no one in the Blockade settled on status quo, only settled on the tracks. On my second day out I noticed how beautiful it was, the train tracks, capitalism’s instruments, pointing straight at kids sharing weed, sleeping quietly, eating donated food, talking and chilling, playing music, sharing skills and giving aid where aid is needed – when the Blockade became a Commune, it was all a normal circus. While the Blockade is gone, the Commune remains – the fire smell trailing off my clothes yet is a testament to that.
My favorite piece of art from the Commune (that I hope still lingers) is on the west wall of the building kitty-corner northeast of the blockade. It humbly reads: “delete the port”. Delete every port, indeed.Tags: olympiaolympia communecategory: Essays
Italy: Scripta Manent trial (started on 16/11/2017) — Statement to the court by anarchist Alfredo Cospito
On 16/11/2017 the SCRIPTA MANENT trial began inside the bunker courtroom of ‘Le Vallette’ prison in Turin. Imprisoned anarchist comrade Alfredo Cospito read a long declaration. Alfredo was not present in court as he was subjected to video conferencing from inside the AS2 unit in the prison of Ferrara.
Declaration to the Court:
Benevento 14th August 1878- Turin 16th 2017
Malefactors on trial
The Union of Egoists is your instrument, it is the sword with which you increase your natural strength; the Union exists thanks to you. Society, on the other hand, demands much from you and it exists without you; in short, society is sacred, Union is yours; society uses you, the Union–you use it – Stirner
O, gentlemen, the time of life is short! .. An if we live, we live to tread on kings — Shakespeare, Henry IV
I regret every crime in my life that I haven’t committed, every desire that I have not satisfied – Senna Hoy
I want to be as clear as possible, so that my words sound like an admission of guilt. As far as it is possible to belong to an instrument, a technique, I claim my belonging to FAI-FRI with pride. With pride I recognize myself in its entire history. I am a fully-fledged part of it and my contribution carries the signature of ‘Olga Nucleus’. If this farce had been limited to myself and Nicola, I’d have remained silent. But you have involved a significant part of all those who have been giving solidarity to us over these years, among them those I love dearly. At this point I cannot refrain from speaking my mind, to remain silent would make me an accomplice of your shameful attempt to strike an important part of the anarchist movement indiscriminately. Comrades dragged behind bars and put on trial, not for what they did but for what they are: anarchists. Tried and arrested not for having claimed, like I did, an action with the acronym FAI-FRI, but for having participated in meetings, written in papers and blogs, and more simply for giving solidarity to comrades on trial. I will not use these comrades as a shield. In an era when ideas don’t count, to be put on trial and arrested for an idea says a lot about the explosive force that a certain vision of anarchy continues to have, and it also says a lot about the empty shells that democracy and so-called democratic freedoms are.
You have your reasons, I’m not denying that, after all good anarchists don’t exist, in every anarchist smoulders the desire to hurl you off that bench. For my part, I make no attempt to pass off the FAI-FRI as a recreational association or a boy scouts club. Those who have made use of this instrument, or as you ignorant of anarchy would say ‘those who are of the FAI-FRI’, claim it with their heads held high like my brothers and sisters arrested in the past, like myself in Genoa years ago and in this courtroom today. It’s our history that is teaching you that, a history that, never martyrs, never surrendered, we are paying with years of prison and isolation over half the world. Those who are not part of this history of ours and are dragged before you in chains are keeping silent out of solidarity, love, friendship, feelings that are unimaginable, incomprehensible for you servants of the state. Your ‘justice’ is abuse perpetrated by the strongest over the weakest. I guarantee, you won’t find any coward or opportunist among the defendants in this trial. The price of dignity is incalculable and its gifts are various and priceless beyond all limits and imagination, it’s always worth paying that price, and I’m ready to pay it any time. It should be of no importance to you whether it really was me who placed those bombs. Because I feel an accomplice to those deeds and all the actions claimed by the FAI-FRI. Especially as the actions you accuse me of are all in solidarity with migrants and anarchist prisoners and I agree with them totally. How could I not feel complicity when these explosions were like flares in the darkness for me. However stupid it might seem to you, for me there is a before and after the FAI. Before, when I was fanatically and stupidly convinced that only unclaimed actions had any utility, reproducibility, convinced as I was that destructive action should necessarily speak for itself and that any acronym was the devil’s shit. And after when, with the gunshot to Adinolfi I questioned these insurrectional dogmas to the point of making my new convictions real through an action. A small thing, some might say, and that would be so if behind that simple acronym there wasn’t a method that could really make a difference for we anarchists of praxis beyond and outside repression and courtrooms. However limited my contribution, however late it came, I feel I am fully an accomplice of the brothers and sisters who began this road.
Whoever they are, wherever they are, I hope they won’t blame me if I make their actions mine, they represent me. It matters little if I have never looked them in the eyes, I have read their words of fire, I agreed with them, I approve of their actions and that’s enough for me, I have no wish to appropriate but rather a strong proud will to share responsibility. Judges, I would have liked to have spit my direct responsibility for the deeds you are accusing me of in your faces (as I did in Genoa), but I cannot appropriate merits and honours that are not mine, that would be pushing things too far. You will and I will have to be content with what you would define ‘political responsibility’ in your language impregnated with authority. Don’t despair, as you are so good at inventing rock-hard evidence, however tortuous, and at resurrecting stupefying DNA, however made inconsistent from the oblivion of past files; you won’t have any trouble in taking home a good haul of years in jail. And then, if you really want to know, a sentence against me is totally appropriate, even only for my adhesion to FAI-FRI, an adhesion to a method, not to an organization, not to mention my firm and concrete will to destroy you and everything you represent. You struck at random among my dearest ones, relatives, friends without pity. Moral scruples are not your strong point, you have blackmailed, threatened, taken children away from their parents as an instrument of coercion and extortion. Comrades who have nothing to do with FAI-FRI were dragged in front of you with dull accusations and evidence. One of the reasons, not the most important, for which I claimed FAI-FRI was so as not to expose the anarchist movement to facile criminalization.
Today I find myself in court to oppose your reprisal, your miserable attempt to put ‘Croce Nera’ in the dock, a historical periodical of the anarchist movement, which with its ups and downs has since the sixties been carrying out its role of support to anarchist prisoners prisoners of war. In your fascistoid delirium you are trying to pass ‘Croce Nera’ off as FAI-FRI press organ. They didn’t even go that far in 1969 in the full anti-anarchist campaign. At the time your colleagues, once they had their pound of human flesh with the murder of the Italian ‘Croce Nera’ founder Pinelli, limited themselves to incriminating individual comrades for specific deeds, and we all know how that ended up. Now that blood is in short supply you don’t limit yourself to accusing a few comrades for specific actions, you push further to the point of criminalizing a whole part of the movement. All those who belonged to the Croce Nera editorial group, who wrote in it or even only participated in their public presentations, are all part of FAI-FRI in your inquisitorial optic. My proud participation in the ‘Croce Nera’ editorial group and in other anarchist periodicals doesn’t make these journals FAI-FRI press organs. My participation is individual, every anarchist is a monad, an island of its own, his/her contribution is always individual. I avail myself of the FAI-FRI instrument only to make war. The use of this instrument, the adhesion to the method that follows doesn’t involve my whole life as an anarchist, and in no way does it involve the other editors of the journals with which I collaborate. One of the characteristics of my anarchy is the multiform nature of the practices used in the field, all of them quite differentiated. I respond only for myself, each one responds for themself. I’m not interested in knowing who claims with the acronym FAI-FRI, I only communicate with them through actions and the words that follow them. I consider it would be counter-productive to know them personally and I don’t go looking for them either, even less to do a journal together. My life as an anarchist, also here in prison, is far more complex and varied than an acronym and a method and I shall struggle to the end so that the umbilical cord that links me to the anarchist movement is not cut by isolation and your jails.
Get it into your heads, without detracting anything from counter-information, the FAI-FRI doesn’t edit journals or blogs. It doesn’t need spectators or fans or experts in counter-information, it’s not enough to like it to be part of it, one has to get one’s hands dirty with actions, risk one’s life, put it at stake, really believe in it. Even heads twisted by authority like yours should have understood, the FAI-FRI is only made up of anonymous brothers and sisters who strike using that acronym and the anarchist prisoners who claim to belong to it, the rest is generalization and manipulation by the repression. I am taking the opportunity that you are giving me with this trial to remove the suffocating gag of censorship and have my say on topics that I really care about in the hope that my words will reach my brothers and sisters beyond these walls. The ‘community I belong to’ is the anarchist movement with all its facets and contradictions. That rich and varied world in which I have lived the last thirty years of my life, a life that I wouldn’t change for any other. I have written in anarchist papers, I continue to do so, I have participated in demonstrations, street clashes, occupations, I have carried out actions, practiced revolutionary violence. My ‘community of reference’ are all my brothers and sisters who use the FAI-FRI method to communicate, in my case, without knowing each other, without organizing themselves, without coordinating themselves, without giving up any freedom. I never confused the two levels, the FAI-FRI is simply an instrument, one of the many at anarchists’ disposition. Uniquely an instrument for making war. The anarchist movement is my world, my ‘community of belonging’, the sea in which I swim.
My ‘community of reference’ are the individuals, affinity nuclei, informal organizations (coordination of a number of groups) that communicate, without contaminating one another, through the acronym FAI-FRI, talking with one another through the claims that follow the actions. A method this which gives me, anti-civiliser, anti-organizer, individualist, nihilist, the possibility of joining forces with other anarchist individuals, informal organizations (coordination of a number of groups), affinity nuclei without giving up my freedom to them, without renouncing my personal convictions and tendencies: I define myself anti-civilizer because I think the time at our disposal is very limited before the technology, becoming aware of itself, will ultimately dominate the human race. I define myself an anti-organizer because I feel part of the anti-organizer illegalist tradition of the anarchist movement, I believe in fluid relations, free relations between anarchists, I believe in free agreement, in the given word. I define myself individualist because by nature I could never delegate power and decisions to others, nor could I be part of an organization, be it informal or specific. I define myself nihilist because I gave up the dream of a future revolution in favour of revolt now, immediately.
Revolt is my revolution and I live it every time I clash with the existent with violence. I believe that our main task today is to destroy. Thanks to FAI-FRI ‘struggle campaigns’ I give myself the possibility of making my action more powerful and effective. ‘Struggle campaigns’ that must necessarily come out of actions that lead to other actions, not out of calls or public assemblies, so that the political mechanisms of authoritativeness of which movement assemblies are full, are cut off. The only word that counts is that of who really strikes. In my opinion the assemblear method is a blunt weapon for making war, inevitable and profitable in other contexts. Adhering to the FAI-FRI ‘struggle campaigns’ with my efforts, in my case as an individualist with no part in any informal organization (coordination of a number of groups), I make use of a collective strength that is something more and different from the mere mathematical sum of the single strengths unleashed by single affinity groups, individuals and informal organizations. This ‘synergy’ makes it possible that ‘the whole’, FAI-FRI, is something much more than the sum of the subjects it is composed of. All this while safeguarding one’s own individual autonomy thanks to the total lack of direct links, knowledge, with the groups, informal organizations and single anarchists who claim with that acronym. One gives oneself a common acronym to allow individuals, groups, informal organizations to adhere to and recognize themselves in a method that safeguards their particular projects in an absolute way, those who claim FAI-FRI adhere to that method. Nothing ideological or political, only an instrument (a claim through an acronym) as the product of a method (communication between individuals, groups, informal organizations through the actions) that aims to give strength in the moment of the action without homologating, flattening. The acronym is important, it guarantees continuity, stability, perseverance, quantitative growth, a recognizable history but in fact the real strength, the real turning, consists in the simple, linear, horizontal, absolutely anarchist method of direct communication through claims without mediators, without meetings, without knowing one another, without exposing oneself excessively to repression, only those who act communicate, those who put themselves at stake with action.
The real innovation is the method. The acronym becomes counter-productive if it spills over the task for which it came to life i.e. to recognize one another as brothers and sisters who adopt a method. That’s all. Practice is our litmus paper, it is in practice that the efficacy of an instrument is tested. One has to acknowledge that the FAI-FRI experience, in constant evolution, puts us in the front of fast, chaotic transformations; one should not be taken aback. Immobilism and stagnation represent death, our strength is the exploration of new roads.
Certainly the future of this experience lies not in more structuring, but in an attempt, full of perspectives, at collaboration between single anarchists, affinity groups, informal organizations, without ever contaminating one another. Coordination instances must remain within the single informal organization, between the single groups or nuclei that form it, without overflowing beyond, without involving other FAI-FRI informal organizations and most importantly FAI-FRI groups and single anarchists who would otherwise see their autonomy, freedom, the very sense of their acting outside organizations and coordination being undermined at the base. In this way only if authoritarian dynamics are created within a group, an organization, they will remain confined there where they were born, thus avoiding contagion. There’s no whole, there’s no organization called FAI-FRI; there are individuals, affinity groups, informal organizations all of them well differentiated, that communicate through the acronym FAI-FRI, without ever coming into contact with one another. Much has been written and said about the internal dynamics of affinity groups, about informal organization and individual action. On the contrary communication between these practices has never been explored, never taken into consideration. FAI-FRI is an attempt at putting this communication into practice. Individual actions, affinity groups, organizations are all part in equal way of those instruments that anarchists have historically always given themselves. Each of these instruments has pros and cons. An affinity group unites operational speed due to a deepened knowledge between the individuals in affinity and a certain force due to the union of more individuals. Its great merits: freedom of the individual guaranteed and significant resistance to repression. Merits due to the scarce number of individuals in affinity and to the great affection and friendship that necessarily links them to one another. Organization, in our case informal, (coordination of a number of groups), guarantees a very strong availability of means and strength, but also high vulnerability due to the necessary coordination (knowledge) between the groups or nuclei, because if one is hit the risk has a ‘domino’ effect, everybody falls. From my point of view individual freedom will necessarily clash with collective decision-making mechanisms (the ‘rules’ of the functioning of the organization). This aspect represents a drastic reduction of freedom and autonomy, indigestible for an individualist anarchist.
Individual action guarantees high operational speed, high unpredictability, very strong resistance to repression and above all total freedom, the individual doesn’t need to relate to anything or anybody other than his/her own conscience. A big defect: low operational potentiality, one probably has fewer means and possibilities to carry out complex operations (which on the contrary an informal organization can achieve fairly easily if there is will and firmness).
To experiment with ways of acting so radically different, this is the innovation, the new that can destabilize and make us dangerous. No ambiguous mixing, groups, individuals, informal organizations must ever come into direct contact. To each his/her own, hybrids would weaken us. United more by a method than an acronym. FAI-FRI makes it possible to unite forces without losing one’s own nature. No moralism or dogmatism, each one relates freely, probably it will be the mixing of all this that will make the difference.
No coordination outside the single informal organization (because coordination includes the physical knowledge between all the groups and organizations making them prone to repression), no homologating, hegemonic superstructure, which crushes individuals and affinity groups. Those who experiment with the informal organization in their acting must not impose their own ways of acting outside it, just as the single individuals of action and ‘solitary’ affinity groups must not cry betrayal of the idea if brothers and sisters act in tight organized ranks. Of course this is only my point of view for what it’s worth. And to top this off, I’ll say that I piss on your penal code carefree and lighthearted. It matters little what you will decide for me, my fate will stay firmly in my own hands. I am strong, or at least I fancy I am, and your jail and isolation don’t scare me, I’m ready to face your retaliations, never tamed, never surrendered.
Long live FAI-FRI
Long live CCF
Death to the State!
Death to civilization!
Long live Anarchy!!
Alfredo CospitoTags: Alfredo CospitoFAI-FRIOperation Scripta Manentanarchists in troubleitalycategory: International
Every day, more and more of our activities and communications take place online. We’ve become addicted to connectivity…. to constant access to an endless catalogue of information, entertainment and engagement, all available at the click of a button. The Internet has become deeply ingrained into all facets of our lives, to the point where it often seems like a neutral appendage to reality itself – a “digital commons” where billions of global citizens hold the keys to a vast, decentralized, library of human knowledge. But in reality, the Internet is far from neutral… and it’s certainly not a commons. The server farms and fiber optic cables that make up the Internet’s physical infrastructure are increasingly owned, operated and controlled by a small handful of incredibly powerful corporations. Social Media platforms have become sites of mass indoctrination and anchors of social control. Liberal democratic societies are under attack from Russian trolls. We are at the dawn of a new era in history, in which states wage covert and perpetual cyber warfare against one another, with real world consequences that are hidden and unknown.
Many of us choose to avoid these harsh truths, pleading ignorance of how technology works, and gladly immersing ourselves in the spectacle that it creates. But there are also those who are inexorably drawn to seeking out a better understanding of how the complex mechanics of power operate in our digital age… and how that power might be harnessed for our own ends. In this month’s episode of Trouble, sub.Media talks to a number of hackers and digital security experts, as they share their experiences and offer tips on how to best to navigate the battleground of the Internet.
If you would like to write to Jeremy Hammond, the jailed anarchist hacker featured on this episode, send letters to the address below:
Jeremy Hammond, #18729-424
P.O. Box 1000
Milan, MI 48160
We are pleased to share the fourth issue of Azadi (December 2017), a special issue on “India and Anarchism: Past, Present, and Future.”
“Azadi, meaning freedom and liberty, is a 4 page newsletter by Indian Anarchist Federation, published and distributed primarily in city of Bhopal. It began in 2017.”
For previous issues, please see:
Tags: IndiaBlack Rose Anarchist Federationthe platformcategory: International
ed. note: Puget Sound Anarchists is collecting stories about the raid and from the camp itself. You can read their brief account here and submit content to them here. The photo for this article was also sourced from their account.
by Abby Spegman, via The Olympian
Anti-fracking protesters faced off with dozens of police in tactical gear during a predawn raid Wednesday on an encampment blocking railroad tracks in downtown Olympia.
Police blocked streets in the area of Seventh Avenue Southeast and Jefferson Street Southeast. That is where protesters set up a blockade on Nov. 17, according to the protesters, to stop a shipment of ceramic proppants, or fracking sand, from leaving the Port of Olympia.
Olympia police tweeted Wednesday morning that Union Pacific Railroad police were making contact with protesters, and local law enforcement agencies had been deployed.
The raid began shortly after 5 a.m. Police issued verbal warnings before entering the camp. Later, police dogs were brought in to search for explosives in the area near the railroad tracks.
About 20 to 30 protesters, many covering their faces, sang songs and mocked police as public works crews began clearing the camp. When protesters tried to approach the camp, police pushed them back.
Olympia police Lt. Sam Costello said there were no arrests made and no injuries reported. He said the camp was empty when officers moved in.
Clean up is underway. pic.twitter.com/k9LppUOOGH
— Olympia Police Dept (@OlyPD) November 29, 2017
This comes a year after a similar protest ended in another predawn raid and 12 arrests.
Olympia City Manager Steve Hall said this time he hoped the port and railroad officials would resolve the issue. The president of a local railroad company affected by the blockade had sent a letter to city leaders urging police to take action.
“This feels like a repeat of last year, and nobody wants to go through what happened last year,” Hall said.
Abby Spegman: 360-704-6869, @AbbySpegmanTags: olympiaolympia communefuck the policeMSMcategory: Other
Volume 3 Issue 9 (PDF for printing 11 x 17)
Volume 3 Issue 9 (PDF for reading 8.5 x 11)
In this issue:
- What Went Down
- Letter From Michael Kimble
- 5 Points Against Waiting For The Next Big Demo
- Price Of Amazon
- J20 Updates
- Vaughn Prison Rebels Indicted
- World News
- Panopticon Consumes Bike Trail
- Philly Vegan Awards
- Raccoon Obituary
From the article "5 Points Against Waiting for the Next Big Demo":
It can never be repeated enough: "the secret is to really begin". When we put off taking the actions we know are necessary to create the lives we want, lives free of domination, we add to the inertia of inaction that we are fighting against. Anarchy is not just a distant horizon. Anarchy is not just a distant horizon to be achieved after the revolution, it is also every moment of freedom lived in the here and now.Tags: newspaperphiladelphiacategory: Projects
Eleven days on, the blockade of fracking proponents at the Olympia Port holds strong.
The blockade has grown from a makeshift barricade of pallets and tarps to a large encampment, complete with barrel fires, tents, food, medical supplies, and plenty of literature. Punk shows, movie screenings, and skillshares take place frequently, transforming the space from a simple blockade to a small piece of a future world. The blockade is not activism; it is a different life, glimpsed briefly every time we share food, stare down the police, and make the survival of all a common responsibility.
This newsletter intends to be a record of the blockade–of the writings, events, and actions taking place near and far. As Olympia Stand tends increasingly towards the Olympia Commune–a liberated space of mutual aid and free association–we want to illustrate that transformation. This newsletter is not representative of the blockade as a whole. It is simply the perspective of some future possible world, glancing back at the collapse of this world and searching for those elements of redemption hidden therein.
Printable PDF available here
Please print & distribute, far & wide!Tags: olympiaolympia communenewspapercategory: Projects
via Freedom News
Manchester has been struggling along without a stable radical social centre since 2007, when The Basement was ruined by flooding, but that all changed in 2017. When Partisan Collective announced they had secured space for progressive events and projects it caused quite a stir. Below, collective member Madeline FJ writes about their efforts so far.
The first public meeting for Partisan Collective took place in February 2016 in the city’s Northern Quarter venue and Gulliver’s pub. There was a large response and the first few months were spent by members figuring out what Partisan was going to be. A website and social media pages were set up almost immediately to publicise it and attract people who would want to contribute. The website made it clear that it would use Leeds’ Wharf Chambers and DIY Space For London to help model itself on.
After monthly meetings and a sustained effort to find an appropriate space, a temporary space was found. Working with an organisation called 3space, a non-profit urban agency which works with corporates, government and developers to maximise under-utilised or surplus commercial property, Partisan ran a temporary space for four months from June to September 2016. It was used for activist meetings, panel discussions, music events, art exhibitions and more. It was a great opportunity to see how Partisan came to life in a physical space and to test how it would be co-ordinated.
During this time, the collective’s internal structure was also organised. The internal structure is as democratic as possible whilst also ensuring that things get done. There is a collective and a co-op. The collective is anyone that is signed up as a (paying or non-paying) member and does regular things like attending meetings and occasional volunteering (not that that is compulsory). The co-op is made up of a handful of people who put in four hours a week of work into Partisan and have to approve decisions made by the collective for something (e.g. an event) to go ahead. They tend to deal with the day-to-day running of the space and can also approve new co-op members.
The group communicates through a tool called Slack, which can be accessed through a smartphone, tablet or computer. Different channels for different working groups are set up on this. Within the collective there are a few working groups including accountability and accessibility, bar and café, community outreach, events, finance and fundraising, media, podcasts and sound, which effectively divides the labour. Anyone can get involved in these at any time.
In July 2017, after 18 months of searching, Partisan secured a permanent space on Cheetham Hill Road in the northern part of the city centre, very close to Manchester Victoria station. Partisan occupies the first floor (as a social space) and a basement (for gigs) of a listed building.
There have been great efforts to make Partisan accessible both physically and socially. Since the space is across both a first floor and basement, it’s not yet fully accessible. However, we remain 100% committed to building a lift and a ramp as soon as possible. The space was opened before this could be built in order to generate funds to allow this to happen.
Accessibility is also maintained in that there are no rules, spoken or unspoken, about who you have to be in order to get involved. There are new people joining all the time, a testament to how welcoming an environment it is.
We’ve found that it’s essential to maintain a strong social media presence. Being in Manchester, it’s been relatively easy to reach out and find progressive people to get involved. But using the Internet definitely helped.
In summary, not only has Partisan Collective been a brilliant initiative for a collectively owned and accessible space for the arts and activism, it has created an uplifting sense of community between like-minded people who have a shared goal for progress. Let’s hope it continues well into the future and that it inspires others to take similar actions in their own communities.
This article first appeared in the Winter 2017 issue of Freedom Anarchist JournalTags: uksocial centerpartisancategory: Projects
[first 5-10 minutes did not stream, but full hour recorded] Insidious Nazi infiltration (a heads-up). The week's oil spills, epidemics, pollution news. Stress levels, student outbursts, girls' self-harm. Going fast, social media bad for health. Nintendo "reunites you with nature." New Hampshire dr. rejects "electronic medicine," loses license. Olympia blockade/occupation + mucho other action briefs,
Berlin: Attacks Against Amazon Delivery Vans
23.11.17: We do not want to be governed by information – and to the satisfaction of the manager’s faces, blissfully grinning at the thought of the dull masses who are storming the shops on Black Friday like controlled zombies. In solidarity with Amazon’s fighting workers and in support of Block Black Friday, we attacked three express vans labelled with ‘AZ Amazon’ and ‘drs amazon’ in various ways during the night of November 23 – burned down, stabbed tires, smeared with paint and left the call: ‘strike!’
There was this side note in the media, as once again a ‘terrorist’ was arrested – Amazon proposes the potential terrorist customers in the search for hydrogen peroxide already the next ingredients for the big bang – thanks to the algorithm …
The basic bet of Amazon and Co. is that with all the feedback-loops, the sensors, microphones, cameras and data, you can not only add value but end up with the technological attack on your body and your actions. There is a twofold of constantly consuming and steering on the one hand and the control and delimitation on the other: let it be the emotion detection with cameras, which already takes place in the shops, smartphones as perceptual aids, Google Home or the scary spy dolls in the nursery.
Consumers of the global flow of goods are supposed to be rewarded for unsolicited emotion capture with personalized and controlled advertising. While on the faces of all those who are up to doing something criminal, the tension may become apparent before the impending shoplifting or shearing, out of the rut of normalization.
In this game, Amazon is at the forefront of poker. So last year Amazon was the company with the most research expenditure worldwide. So there are already test phases with supermarkets without staff. ‘Amazon Go’ relies on customers being registered via app when entering the store, as well as the products that are removed from the shelves – the working customer in the panoptic shop. So soon will also burst the service bubble, the reservoir for the countless industrial workers.
So we end up with the fighting workers of Amazon, which are already monitored in the panoptic factory at every turn by means of permanently connected with wireless devices in the warehouse.
If it is primarily about the ‘optimization’ of the work processes, it is about two things in the supervised supermarket: on the one hand, to reduce the costs: the working customer, who serve themselves, bravely pays independently, does not need a service staff. On the other hand, it’s about the information which gets generated. Who will stand in front of which shelf and how long? What emotions can be read off the pace? From when do I shop myself happily, when I was previously depressed and slowly walked through the passage?
This is about much more than marketing and product placement, because the online giants are already making almost as much profit through sales and advertising, as with the personal data they are collecting diligently and suggesting life-saving technologies for the whole of humanity. While labour exploitation is almost on a perfect level, profits are now generated through generated data and information of the customers – through access and control of human behavioural patterns and their generated needs: the working customer.
We do not want to be governed by information – and to the satisfaction of the managers‘ faces, blissfully grinning at the thought of the dull masses who are storming the shops on Black Friday like controlled zombies.
So we also participate in a labour dispute, although we actually insist on refusing vehemently custom work and trying to keep each others away from it.
The conflict of the striking workers at Amazon represents for us only a part of the gigantic problem of the change of the working world, the isolation of the battlefields and the isolation of the fighting.
And also the strikers will suspect that in ten years there will be no picker and packer anymore, because Amazon is already working on computer-controlled drones to edit the warehouses.
Let’s disconnect the cables
Let us be more than a zero and a one
In solidarity with amazon’s fighting workers and in support of Block Black Friday, we attacked three Express vans labeled ‘AZ Amazon’ and ‘drs amazon’ in various ways during the night of November 23 – burned down, stabbed tires, smeared with paint and left the call: ‘strike!’ The white transporters are certainly still in your streets.
– autonomous groups & others –
Munich: Amazon Pack Stations Paralyzed
22.11.17: Payback-actions against Amazon. Amazon is one of the biggest trading- and IT- groups in the world. Amazon profits not only with sold goods, but also with the mass accumulation of private data of their customers, with low payment of delivery subcontractors and with aggressive control of the employees in the dispatch warehouses.
In Munich amazon pack stations were paralyzed. The digital control of employees allows Amazon to perfect its exploitation. By digitally capturing the daily lives of its customers, Amazon wants to calculate their wishes and needs before they are aware of them – and to offer them the corresponding goods. For almost four years Amazon employees have been fighting for more wages and against the destructive working conditions. There is nationwide mobilizations to make protest actions on the 24.11.2017. In solidarity with the fighting Amazon employees, we paralyzed several Amazon pack stations in Munich. Smooth logistics is the prerequisite for Amazon’s ‘Prime’ concept of fast delivery of orders.
We remain unpredictable! Make Amazon pay!
(via Chronik)Tags: germanyAmazonproperty destructioncategory: Actions
Hamburg – Security company vehicle burnt in solidarity with the Scripta Manent accused, Greek prisoners, Lisa of the Aachen case and the G20 rebels
Sabotage is the appropriate means for destroying the facade of authority. When the agencies engaged in guaranteeing its security find their tools in ruins, their power is visibly questioned and this encourages us to keep on breaking the rules.
It’s similar to what is happening in Switzerland with the Implenia company, which is paying for its involvement in a prison project with its building machinery being set on fire. As also for VINCI, SPIE and EIFFAGE for the connections that these companies have with the repression.
On 13 November in Hamburg, the “Sicherheit Nord” fleet in Barmbeck was destroyed by flames, as we burned several vehicles. In ten Länder , “Sicherheit Nord” collaborates with the police, controls the NATO base in Lüneburg, embassies, facilities where refugees are locked up and shops in neighbourhoods that the dominant feel are unsafe.
This action and text are for us. For the thousands of people who made the revolt in Hamburg possible. For the prisoners. For the persons involved in the Script Manent operation in Italy. A fire in solidarity with the hunger strike of Nikos Maziotis and Pola Roupa, a greeting to Konstantino G., arrested for sending a parcel bomb and his belonging to the CCF. Freedom for Lisa, [imprisoned] for a bank robbery in Aachen!
We encourage the struggle against the State at all levels. The repression won’t stop us!
 Similar to the French regions, the Länder have more weight and power of decision. The German State has 16 in all.
Translated from Italian by Act for freedom now!Tags: property destructionanarchist solidaritygermanycategory: Actions
commune against civilization #3
Dispatches from an uninvited guest on COAST SALISH TERRITORY,
SQUAXIN AND NISQUALLY LAND–
[what follows is not an official position of the many-headed hydra of the olympia blockade]
“In the winter of 1846, Levi Smith and Edmund Sylvester arrived at the Bus-chut-hwud village (centered at today’s 4th Avenue and Columbia Street) and staked a joint claim of 320 acres, taking over the Indian village and the entire peninsula comprising Olympia and the State Capitol of today. Smith built a cabin among the Indians [sic], trading with them on a daily basis, and enclosed two acres for a garden and livestock near the current intersection of Capitol Way and Olympia Avenue.
When Smith drowned in 1848, Sylvester alone held the claim. January 12, 1850, Sylvester platted the town, named it Olympia after the Olympic Mountains, and donated blocks for a public square, a school, a customs house and 12 acres for the Capitol grounds. The area around Chinook Street (Columbia Street today), which once housed a thriving Coastal Salish community, was now dotted with cabins and a few store fronts.
By 1855, the Indian [sic] village had disappeared, the past residents of Bus-shut-hwud no longer called the peninsula their home. A massive stockade had been built along 4th Avenue where their village was located and most tribal people were living in internment camps on Squaxin and Fox islands where many became sick and died. In early fall of 1855, Michael T. Simmons had interned 460 Indians [sic] on Squaxin Island and 1,200 on Fox Island.
After the stockade, Indians [sic] never returned to settle in any considerable numbers in the immediate neighborhood of the town.”
– “What Happened to the Steh-chass People,” by Pat Rasmussen
Another End of the World is Possible
–graffiti near the site of the Olympia railroad blockade
TODAY, the railroad blockade preventing the shipment of fracking materials in downtown Olympia, WA is entering its 11th day. The front wall of the barricade is reinforced, and adorned by more and more splashes of decoration. Gradually, more and more of the surrounding area is brought into use and enjoyment by the aspiring commune. In our spacious “backyard,” a femmes auxiliary tent and a quiet zone have been set up. More beds and medical materials arrive. The back staircase now has a sturdy looking meet-and-greet platform to bolster the spirits and effectiveness of our sentinels. Surrounding buildings look like a teenage graffiti artist’s dream, and a ton of hay bales from who-knows-where have appeared out front, strung with rope lights to create a charming enclosure for our second kitchen, for use as a sports rink and show space, and for our pups and little ones to play within.
It was already a few days ago that we surpassed the duration of last year’s blockade, which lasted barely a week on the very same spot. One of the communards calculated the exact moment of the breaking of our old record to be 4:17am, and it was celebrated in grand style with a New Year’s Eve-style countdown and raging late night dance party, complete with driving rains, a steady trickle of free beer and pizza, a very respectable sound system, and one large group of people who give zero fucks. Around that time, someone was heard saying that this is “the 2nd longest railroad blockade in US history,” and yesterday, someone drops the “2nd” when repeating the phrase. A quick and dirty search for the stats on this count doesn’t turn up anything conclusive, but what we do know is that the idea itself has only increased our resolve to make this last as long as possible and, whether at this corner of 7th and Jefferson or elsewhere, to make this commune outlive the colossal fraud of the United States, to help set off the chain of events that will hasten its inevitable downfall.
As a result of last year’s blockade, Halliburton ceased doing business with the Port of Olympia, and we wonder who’s getting cold feet now that we’re poised to last twice as long, now that it’s clear that nothing here will remain stable for them.
Events at camp are proliferating and diversifying. Multiple visits from Nisqually folks– their prayers, songs, encouragements, and company– continue to bolster the spirits of blockaders. Last night, a handful of punk bands played blistering sets in the pouring rain to a motley little rabble who raucously cheered when an announcement was made over the mic about alleged rail sabotage happening that day in the area of Oakland, CA in solidarity with the Olympia blockade. Later on, after the general assembly (or “GA”), “Black Snake Killaz,” the new documentary about resistance to the DAPL, is shown to great satisfaction in camp, prefaced with a group reading of the Invisible Committee’s text “Power is Logistic. Block Everything!”. Pictures are surfacing of black bloc anarchists with flares and a banner which reads, “OLYMPIA–UNIST’OT’EN–GASPESIE–SECWEPEMCUL’ECW, DECOLONIZE TURTLE ISLAND.Big Trouble in Little Oly
The blockade– the gash in the handsome little face of gentrifying Olympia– is a vortex leading to another world. The forces of social control and brutally-imposed mediocrity are beginning to buzz around camp with greater frequency, and the imminency of an attempt at eviction is felt by many.
Simultaneously, a velvet glove is stretched over this iron fist, and it extends toward us: pathetic little Port Commissioners show up to camp in the morning with free coffees– trojan horses in miniature– with invitations for the “protesters” to come “make their voices heard” at their Port Commission and city meetings. They assure us in plaintive and faux-sympathetic tones that fossil fuels cannot be done away with in a day. And we think: well, not with an attitude like that.
In between these late-November nights that feel like summer (so warm and so dry that to call them “unseasonable” would prove to be a euphemism or a bad joke) and GAs transpiring during downpours and gusts of wind so violent that it feels like we are meeting on the deck of a sinking pirate ship, we understand that our strength and effectiveness lies precisely in our illegibility and opacity in regards to these port pigs. When they even offer these mere pretenses of leaning toward us, it is only because we have so-far refused a seat at their table, filthy with blood. Last year, no less an enemy of freedom than Ronnie Roberts, the chief olympian slave patroller himself, made statements imbued with his crocodile tears about regretting the use of force to evict the first blockade, and his supposed opposition to “unsustainable energy.” What ensued was a full year of business-as-usual, with all the grisly horror that it entails.
The green capitalists and their servants in the City can never understand, but let their unwitting collaborators among the ranks of “radicals” hear it once again: any attempt to make their system run “sustainably” must be destroyed with all the hate and implacability due the most brazen expressions of state and capitalist power.
The apocalypse is nine-tenths over with, and only the most alienated from the real world, the most privileged among civilization’s inmates, can doubt it. We here in “olympia” live in one of the most progressive nodes of the open-air prison which continually exports its unsightly violence, sweeping it under the rug. Bio-political engineers and well-meaning imbeciles– all these functionaries and little Eichmanns newly bent on transparency and dialogue and horizontal relations between colonists– expect us to submit with enthusiasm to every new scheme of managing the disaster… while the stacks of bodies grow skyward.
The truth ignored, misunderstood, or intentionally hidden by the Left and Right wings of capital alike is that repression is not solely, or even predominantly, a political phenomenon. The political manifestations of state repression that we have experienced these past several years, and which we can expect to experiencing, are a kind of superstructure that is built on a bedrock of constant and diffuse repression that marks our whole lives and has metabolized in our bodies and our psyches. In fact, we could not even bring ourselves to submit to the attempted terror of riot cops, grand juries, fascist gangs, or any other of the more extreme tools of repression were it not for the thousand little humiliations that make up daily life in this society. The very sophisticated lesson learned by power in its struggle with generations of rebellious bodies is that the ground of our being must be rendered fertile for this kind of overt domination. This is done by subtle degrees, by normalizing domination in our ordinary acts and institutions of life. Then, when the inevitable excesses of the “police state” (a redundancy in terms) rear their head, we see the liberals and the loyal opposition beg for a return to this normalcy. This is the one-two punch of repression and recuperation. This is how they work in tandem. This is how good intentions pave the road to hell.
“The transition from a relatively free, diverse, gentle subsistence to suppressed peasantry yoked to the metropole is a matter of record. The subsistence people clearly long for genuine contact with the non-human world, independence from the market and the basic satisfaction of a livelihood gained by their own hands. But this distinction among agricultures has its limits and was not apparently in mind when Chief Washakie of the Shoshones said, ‘God damn a potato.’ Sooner or later you get just what the Irish got after they thought they had rediscovered Eden in a spud skin.
We may ask whether there are not hidden imperatives in the books of [deep ecologist and agrarian romantic] Wendell Berry obscured by the portrayal of the moral quality, stewardship syndrome, and natural satisfactions of farm life. He seems to make the garden and barnyard equivalent to morality and esthetics and to relate it to monotheism and sexual monogamy, as though conjugal loyalty, husbandry; and a metaphysical principle were all one. And he is right. This identity of the woman with the land is the agricultural monument, where the environment is genderized and she becomes the means of productivity, reciprocity, and access to otherness, compressed in the central symbol of the goddess. When the subsistence base erodes this morality changes. Fanaticism about virginity, women as pawns in games of power, and their control by men as the touchstone of honor and vengeance has been clearly shown to be the destiny of sub-equatorial and Mediterranean agriculture. […] there are reasons to wonder whether the metaphors that mirror agriculture are not infantile. (For hunter-gatherers the living metaphor is other species, for farmers it is mother, for pastoralists the father, for urban peoples it has become the machine.)”
–A Posthistoric Primitivism, by Paul Shepard
The phrase commune against civilization is not to be understood as a party program or an attempt to represent a movement or organization, or even as the name of a political organ. It is a proposal for meditation and action. Commune as verb. Civilization as site and target.
In the mid-19th century, as the European revolutions of 1848 raged and then failed, setting the stage for the final chapters of The Worst Story Ever Told, the colonizers of what would come to be called “Olympia” wanted a couple acres for their gardens and livestock. They wanted to found their public squares and schools and customs houses on this beautiful and “empty” land, this virgin wilderness. You can bet they wanted to enjoy the fresh Pacific Northwest air and the occasional outing to the mountains as they went about their tasks. We are sorely mistaken if we think that even the most radical visions of today’s agrarian romanticists and renewable energy advocates are enough to stem the tide of alienation, exploitation, and domination.
If we think that NOW is not the time that white people must take epic risks in the establishment of a new Underground Railroad– risks to life and limb, risks to family, friends, and reputation– then we have another thing coming entirely. If we hope to avoid looking back and realizing that our lives have been a reprise of the good little Germans, just following orders and believing that work makes us free, then we need to run off the rails that would carry us to that place, with its peace of the graveyard.
To the consternation of all of us born during its last hurrah, the bubble of the post-war economic boom has popped and its ill-gotten gains are ebbing away along with all of its illusions. It’s time to make material preparations for a landing, soft or otherwise.
Instead of a Union, by someone too buck to join another one: a few proposals
You know your time is up when the insurrectionaries AND the wobblies are going against the leadership of unions and self-appointed managers of social struggle, going full wildcat for the sake of the earth.
In issue #2 of this publication, we went on a detour through some of the major qualms to be had with the typical syndicalist orientation. What follows is a follow-up, a resultant brief and tentative set of guidelines for action undertaken in another logic, through which we hopefully will find the lines along which our power grows, and the cutting edge of revolutionary solidarity for our own time sharpened:
Formal and Informal Organization
Following the analysis of the passing of the old class antagonism between the working and owning classes with the advent of the included and excluded of post-industrial global capitalism, we elaborate the difference between formal and informal organization.
Formal organizations or, as the Italian insurrectionary anarchists of a couple decades ago might call them, structures of synthesis, are those organizations with official membership lists, who engage in periodic congresses for the purpose of establishing elaborate programmatic agendas, by-laws and/or codes of conduct, and positive demands to be granted or denied by those in power. These organizations attempt to synthesize (or create) and manage the entirety of struggle from within their own ranks, to represent or act in the name of some constituency or monolithic identity block, and to swell their ranks with mass recruiting efforts undertaken in a quantitative logic. For them, organization is primarily for the defense of certain interests.
The informal anarchist organization is a definite organization, but one that seeks to find the social and ecological struggles already in course, and to expand the terrain and purview of such struggles by autonomous action and revolutionary solidarity. In place of centralization, compromise, and accommodation to the enemy, it posits decentralization, self-activity, uncontrollability, and permanent conflictuality. For these structures, organization is primarily for the attack on certain interests.
The Affinity Group
The basic unit of the informal anarchist organization (after the individual) is the affinity group. Affinity groups are somewhat well-known outside of insurrectionary circles, having gained attention in the anti-globalization era of protest, but few activists know that the affinity group was first proposed as a vehicle for action by insurrectionaries, and there are many misconceptions about it.
Affinity groups are not formal membership organizations. They are also not the same as a gang or a crew, though these may overlap with it. They are not intended to be permanent. Affinity groups are convened for the sake of some practical task. The relationships of affinity may outlast the specific tasks, and the individuals may work together again in an affinity group-style structure, but the informal organization dissolves as soon as the goal is reached or abandoned.
Affinity means more than good feeling about another. It actually refers to a deep reciprocal knowledge of one another. How the other person or people think(s) about social problems, how they think they can or should intervene in social struggles. Differences are just as crucial as similarities when developing affinity with a comrade or a potential comrade.
Means and Ends
Affinity groups are an attempt by anarchists to ensure that the means employed in struggle accord with the ends sought after. We insist upon relatively unalienated means to achieve our ends. No meaningful victory in the quest for freedom can be won if we become what we hate in the process of fighting. Enough of our ends must be contained within the means for us to not to lose track of who we are and succumb to capitalism’s recuperative force. However, ensconced as we are in circumstances beyond our control, it is impossible to attain means that are completely in keeping with our principles. Thus, there is a tension between means and ends which inspires anarchists always to question what are the best means available, and to use any increase in our power to enact means that are more in keeping with our principles and desires.
Quality vs. Quantity
Along with the tension between means and ends, there is a tension between the anarchist (or anti-authoritarian) tendency toward quality of struggle and its self-organization, and the authoritarian tendency toward quantity and centralization. Four or five trusted friends decided upon the lightning of action together are more worthwhile than a hundred paper pushers. Rather than trying to build a mass movement and manipulating it from above into action later, insurrectionaries rely on the quality of their projects to attract others who insist upon the same or similar quality, or to inspire others further afield to initiate their own projects with their own trusted friends.
This can be seen as prefiguring a state of affairs in which leadership is by example and persuasion, rather than force and coercion. The social force of an insurrection grows by a kind of multiplication, a flowering from rhizomatic connections, rather than by addition or agglomeration in a central organization.
The aforementioned term autonomy loosely refers to the condition of acting independently of governments, political parties, labor unions, top-down or centralized federation structures, or any advocacy group which acts as an organ of integration into the schemes of state and capital. Individuals and affinity groups may be seen as the smallest manifestations of autonomous force, but larger informal or semi-formal organizations may be considered autonomous as well: decentralized networks (see the history of Anti-Racist Action, or ARA, and Bash Back! in the US), or larger groups constituted for the express purpose of attacking or negating some project of capitalism. (for example, Olympia Stand, or the “autonomous base nucleii” or “leagues” that arose in Comiso Sicily in the 80’s to expand direct action in opposition to the construction of a missile base there… a struggle out of which emerged Jean Weir’s impeccable journal Insurrection).
The term autonomy is inherited from the European autonomous social movements that sprung up from the end of the 60’s until the late 90’s (and which can be seen as the unsung bridge between the countercultural upheavals that crescendoed in the worldwide uprisings of 1968, and the WTO riots in Seattle ‘99 that kicked off our contemporary era of anti-globalization and anarchist organizing). These movements were the originators of the black bloc tactic and embraced militant feminism, anti-capitalist student struggles, massive factory occupations (look up the Days of Lead in the late 70’s in Italy) squatting movements, anti-fascist street organizing and culture, confrontational demonstrations that turned into battles with police, Reclaim the Streets and land struggles, along with any number of counter-cultural projects like pirate radio stations.
Individualism vs. Communism: A False Problem
It’s been said before us: We embrace what is best in individualism and what is best in communism. At the crux of modern alienation is the artificially-imposed divorce between the individual and the social. If anarchy is possible, it will be the result of the collapse of this artificial divide, the likes of which many of us have experienced during fleeting moments like this here blockade. Anarchism has always been more concerned with the individual than other philosophies because modern alienation– in the form of capitalism and in its supposed opposition– has, on a certain level, taken on more and more collectivist forms despite the ostensible “rugged individualism” attributed to it.
In truth, capitalism has its individualism as well as its soulless collectivism and faceless bureaucracy, just as anarchy includes a special regard for the individual as well as a nuanced approach to social or communal relations. The ongoing pageant of modern alienation has led to this schizoid or split nature in almost every isolatable element of life such as “individualism” and “communism.” Just as with “freedom,” “ecology,” or “feminism,” these terms have seen their share of liberatory manifestations and their share of farcical, domesticated nonsense.
Individuality can only flourish where equality of access to the conditions of existence is the social reality. This equality of access is communism; what individuals do with that access is up to them and those around them. Thus there is no equality or identity of individuals implied in true communism. What forces us into an identity or an equality of being are the social roles laid upon us by our present system. There is no contradiction between individuality and communism.
Insurrection, Not One-Dimensional Militancy, Not a Revolution Waiting to Be Recuperated
The force of an insurrection is social, not military. Its success is to be found in the extent and depth of the interruption of the economy, of normality.
In addition to the other differences between the strategy advocated by insurrectionaries and those of the formal organizations and managed struggles of revolution, we must abandon the idea of a mass movement that is supposed to grow to infinity and come to dominate and control everything. When such ideas come from “anarchists” it is, in fact, the words of Leviathan spilling out of our mouths.
There is much to be learned from the strategic and tactical history of militant movements, elements that may be incorporated in our struggle, but ultimately militancy leads to a cult of specialization, representation, toxic hyper-masculinity, and vanguardism. It leads to overly-moralistic proclivities toward self-sacrifice, and to the joyless, duty-bound martial discipline that belongs to cogs or gears in a machine.
In place of the civilized conceptions of duty and sacrifice, we posit a proactive deployment of egalitarian desire with its own customs and accords, its own etiquette and commitments.
In place of managed and centralized struggles which prefigure the rise of an alternative juggernaut of state power, again, we posit decentralization, self-activity, uncontrollability, and permanent conflictuality until the goal is met or abandoned.
Insurrections are insurrections because they are not militaristic, because they are generalized.
Well, that’s all for now. Hopefully, we see some more dope anarchy out of this. The enemy is gearing up, but the magic hat of anarchy is a bottomless well of bizarre and irrepressible rabbits, products and practitioners of an alchemy that comes up big just when you think the last card is played.
In the words of a french comrade accused of blocking infrastructure a few years ago, speaking of the captors of this world: “Each step that they take towards total control brings them closer to their fear. Each new “victory” with which they flatter themselves spreads a little further the desire to see them defeated in their turn. Each maneuver that they figure comforts their power ends up rendering it detestable. In other words: the situation is excellent. This isn’t the moment to lose courage.”
At Daggers Drawn: with the existent, its defenders, and its false critics
Some Notes on Insurrectionary Anarchism by Sasha K
Insurrectionary Anarchism: Organizing for Attack!
Anarchist Organization and the Insurrectional Project by the Tension Collective
Armed Joy by Alfredo Bonanno
Power is Logistic. Block Everything! by the Invisible CommitteeTags: olympiainsurrectioncommune against civilizationcategory: Essays
In past TOTWs we've talked about the left/right split as a way of framing the world with strengths and (plenty of) weaknesses: sharing versus competitiveness, equality versus hierarchy, collective versus individuated. Technology also frames our lives in ways that limit our thinking--at the very least by creating an expert class that determines our access to tools and processes.
Bouncing off the end of last weeks TOTW discussion on the podcast, while as anarchists we are very good at discussing the conceptual limitations around us, we can get stuck in paradigms like anyone else--for example (and ONLY for example), by thinking of questions in terms of money. Is there a group of people, or a way of thinking, that could help us experiment more, or at least more effectively, past those limits? Would this way of thinking require the resources of the wealthy? Or is there a way of getting past the conceptual problems of late capitalism, of a media-rich environment, of call-out culture?
How can we get beyond the conceptual limitation of the structures we've learned from? This is not a new question, but it's a different lens for the old question that we deal with every day.Tags: frameworktopic of the weektotwbreaking out of our cagescategory: Other
An annual book fair that has served for more than three decades as the most important meeting point for the British anarchist movement has become the latest casualty of widening splits over the issue of transgender rights.
Organisers say that they no longer have “the appetite or the energy” to stage next year’s London Anarchist Bookfair, following fraught scenes at the event last month. A group of feminists were confronted by other activists who accused them of distributing “transphobic” leaflets that promoted prejudice against transgender people.
The acrimony follows highly publicised splits in universities, women’s organisations and political parties over the issue. Lily Madigan, a 19-year-old who has just won a vote in Kent to become Labour’s first women’s officer from a transgender background, has been at the centre of a row within the party.
Guardian Today: the headlines, the analysis, the debate - sent direct to you
The executive committee of another constituency Labour party resigned this month in solidarity with Anne Ruzylo, a women’s officer who claimed she had been the focus of complaints by Madigan and others.
This weekend it emerged that Madigan is applying to join the Jo Cox Women in Leadership programme, launched after the murder of the MP to encourage female participation in politics.
Meanwhile, the Women’s Equality party has confirmed that its executive committee is considering complaints about one of its members, Heather Brunskell-Evans, an academic whose invitation to speak at King’s College in London was cancelled after she took part in a discussion on transgender issues on Radio 4. On the programme she called for caution to be exercised in relation to children who expressed confusion over their gender. Brunskell-Evans said the party told her that three members had alleged her “conduct” on the programme had “promoted prejudice against the transgender community”. She is also alleged to have said on Twitter: “we have to #ROAR about the harms of transgenderism for children and young people”.
The leaflets handed out at the Anarchist Bookfair suggested that predatory men might be among those who choose to call themselves women, and might abuse the system by gaining access to women-only spaces such as refuges. Trans activists say the issue is being used by opponents – some of whom they label “terfs” (trans-exclusionary radical feminists) – to sow the seeds of hatred.
The increasingly angry disputes follow government proposals to streamline the process for how people can change their gender, under the Gender Recognition Act (GRA). A public consultation is to be held on speeding up and demedicalising the process, with the current need to be assessed and diagnosed by clinicians seen by some as intrusive.
Choosing whether one is a man or a woman is a matter of self-identification, trans activists assert. Some opponents of the GRA have warned that this may lead to young, vulnerable people making decisions they later regret. Others have suggested that self-identifying undermines the status, rights and experience of biological women.
The rows “are going on within all sorts of social movements”, said Helen Steel, the veteran social justice campaigner known for her role in taking on McDonald’s in the 1997 “McLibel” case.
Helen Steel. Photograph: Martin Godwin for the Guardian
Steel, who is among those caught up in the book fair controversy, said that until now, discussion had “taken place in a bubble that has agreed with itself”. She added: “Now that those ideas are actually going to be translated into law, other people are becoming aware of those proposals and say, ‘hang on – can we have time to consider the implications properly and let women have a say in how our lives may be affected by these changes?’”
She said she had been left traumatised by her experience at the book fair, claiming she was surrounded by a “baying mob” after intervening to stop the bullying of two women who had been distributing leaflets about the GRA.
“I have been aware that women have been bullied on this issue for a long time now but, until it happened to me, I was not aware of the extent of the bullying and am shocked by it,” Steel said. “I have been an environmental and social justice campaigner for most of my life. In all that time, I have never experienced such a toxic environment.”
Opponents of Steel and the other feminists assert that to have allowed the distribution of the leaflets was to create an environment in which transphobia was encouraged, discriminating against a group of people who already experience high rates of suicide, poverty and persecution.
“The contents of the leaflets are not simply a ‘perspective’ or a ‘viewpoint’ but are a form of ignorance, violence and aggression directed specifically at trans women,” said a joint statement in the name of a range of anarchist and activist groups and individuals. It criticised the book fair organisers for offering protection to people who were “promoting transphobic hate speech”.
A 27-year-old anarchist and trans person who hosted a talk at the fair said she was disappointed in the decision of the organisers, which she said reflected their inability to show a united front against leafleteers.
“But I’m disappointed in so many people criticising them into that position too,” she added.
“The book fair situation shows the need for people to pick a side – that not picking a side is just not good enough. However, it also shows the need for proper organisation. What happened at the book fair itself was not led by trans people. I can’t stress that enough. And it didn’t happen at all as how I would have liked to have seen it.”
Alexandra Becker, founder of Fourth Wave: London Feminist Activists – one of the groups that signed the letter criticising the organisers and leafleteers – insisted that the latter were a fringe group within feminism.
She said: “Unfortunately there is a tendency among certain groups on this topic to create fear, to whip up emotions that say things that are not representative of a very vulnerable group of people who are the victims of violence.”
However, Becker added: “I think there have been splits already and people have gone off to do their own thing. It’s not clear what they are doing because often they are not coming out to support feminism in other areas.
“The [feminist] movement, other progressive movements, the parties, the anarchists are moving on, though, and there will just be people who will be left behind. It’s not possible to hold on to how things were in the past, and there will not be room for you in the progressive movements.
“Racism, sexism and antisemitism are things we don’t tolerate – so this is the same.”
Others in the anarchist community are now discussing how to create new events next year that they say would be more inclusive.Tags: uklondon anarchist bookfaircontinuing brouhahatrans activismidentityleftist mediamisleading headlinecategory: Projects
Welcome to the anews podcast. This is episode 39 for November 24. This podcast covers anarchist activity, ideas, and conversations from the previous week.
Editorial: Language as War
TOTW - Fundraising
This podcast is the effort of many people. This week this podcast was
* sound edited by Linn O'Mable
* editorial by chisel
* written by jackie
* narrated by chisel and Aragorn!
* Thanks to Aragorn! and Ariel for their help with the topic of the week
* Contact us at email@example.com
Anarchist and insurrectionary autonomous counter-information is one more method of subversion aiming at the attack against the dominant paradigm of the existent and it’s attempt to control generalised narratives and perceptions. It is a tool to spread radical and critical ideas which can add to and create campaigns of direct action internationally.
Our project is just another group in an informal network of counter-information and translation where groups can communicate and exchange. Since 12 years we have been running this site where we have added to the anarchist war against the many states and corporations which want to wipe us out.
Understanding that the internet is in the hands of the enemies and one more tool of social control we use their means against them, as just one more method at our disposal, never separating ourselves into just a ‘news-site’ of semi-professionalised activist journalism intending to carve a niche into the ‘movement’. The limitations of the counter-information sites have been written about previously by other groups which have changed, evolved and closed their sites and blogs over the last years, each writing their reflections, critique and self-critique.
With this in mind, although we could write more about those years where we have collected experiences and reflections, this will happen at a later date. Periodically we close our site for lesser or greater time to concentrate on other projects, talk and self-critique. This is part of our effort to make ourselves more dangerous and is not a closure. We believe that the proliferation of counter-information projects is the key to the resilience of our struggle, but to remain focused that the war begins and ends with action in the streets of the cities and in the defense of the natural world.
To this end, this site is static until next year.
For now, we affirm our solidarity, although through the minimal means, our words, to the anarchist comrades under repression in the Operation Scripta Manent in Italy, the Anarchist Black Cross, RadioAzione, and complicity to all those who fight the state and the existent, with their words and actions in that territory. Also our hearts are with those who resist in the prisons of Korydallos, Athens, Greece; the imprisoned comrades of armed revolutionary organisations, the anarchist prisoners and all those who rebel.
For the next generation internationalist anarchist urban guerrilla
Long live FAI/IRF
Long live CCFTags: 325
This weeks crossword puzzle is about the Hot Autumn.
Download it here: https://anarchistnews.org/crossword/crossword27.pdf
From LBC about the book:
For those anarchistnews fans who miss Worker's acerbic and insightful bon mots on modern-day anarchy and anarchists, here is a fix (however temporary) for you.
Fifty crossword puzzles of occasionally ludicrous difficulty (there are scattered puff questions throughout also, for those of you, like me, who are terrible at these kind of games) are featured for your education and amusement.
Anarchistnews.org is the most popular, utilized, and non-sectarian news source pertaining to anarchists in North America. Its open commenting system continues to be one of the few spaces in which anarchists, nationally and internationally, converse about topics of the day, challenge each other, and critically engage with a wide variety of issues and events.
Worker retired from running the site after eleven years... Since then they have reflected on their time in the daily trenches of running the site, and this book is the result. These crossword puzzles speak to the years of comment threads, the ridiculousness and wonderfulness of the anarchist space in North America, and finally the absurdity of working with cantankerous, stubborn, and self-righteous people by way of essay or manifesto.
These puzzles should probably be done by a reading group or a group of friends. They are supposed to make you think, laugh, and perhaps smack your head. A more perfect metaphor for North American anarchism cannot be found.
[ Here are the solutions! Don’t peek!: http://ardentpress.com/crosswords/ ]Tags: beautiful crossmess parzelthis sitepdfDownloadautumnitalycategory: Projects