Text about the wave of repression in connection with the resistance against the G20 summit in Hamburg
From contra info
Summary for our internationalist comrades
Prisoners * Conditions in the prison * Trials * Video- and Photo publications * House raids
The G20 summit and the euphoric days in the streets of the Schanzenviertel were shaped by the massive anger and motivation to attack, which we did not expect since Heiligendamm and Frankfurt.
The wave of repression that followed afterwards, and actually had already started before the summit with the implementation of the new §114ff and preventive policing, reached its climax with the publication of dozens of mug shots, by the special commission „Soko Schwarzer Block“ on December 18th, 2017.
The wave of repression, remained rather unnoticed from comrades in others countries who fought with us on the streets and euphorically followed the riots in the media. They told us, that they did not receive any information on the prisoners, the condemned and the persecution mania by the state.
Part I: Prisoners
The situation in december 2017
The cops implemented a 40 man strong Soko, which searched the Internet for pictures and videos, in order to further criminalize activists. About 200 cops are currently sitting in front of their computers, watching special face detection softwares do most of the investigation work. Even when you think, you have nothing to hide or you are sure, you always changed in a dark alley: Solidarity doesn‘t just start, when the repression hits you or your friends. The state, including the media, cops and active citizens, is clearly trying to redefine the riots. We managed to dominate the discourse of these days during the summit, but we have to recognize that in the face of brutal sentences, denunciations and public agitation, we are being pushed back into a position of simply reacting: Day X demos, prison rallies and a couple of broken windows here and there.
Prisoners and the trials:
After the three days of riots in Hamburg, 51 people had been taken into custody. Ultimately 28 remained in the JVA (prisons) Billwerder, Hanhöfersand and Holstenglacis until their trials. Being mainly non German, the prisoners came from the Netherlands, France, Switzerland, Austria, Spain, Italy, Poland, Hungary and Russia. Additionally several hundred people had to stay in the GeSa (custody) for a short time and had to give their fingerprints and pictures.
The remaining G20 prisoners are accused of various crimes, which in many cases would not justify longterm custody. The charges go from violating the law of gathering in public spaces and breach of the peace, to resistance and assault against officers. The last one can, after the laws were tightened last year, be punished with up to three months in prison, in severe cases with up to six months.
Currently, in the beginning of January 2018, 7 people are still imprisoned in Hamburg. Additionally, many comrades are going to appeal their sentences. For example Peike, who was sentenced to 2 years and 7 months prison, in the first G20-trial.
The conditions in „Gesa“ (short term/provisional prison) and „U-Haft“ (detention while awaiting trial)
Over 100 lawyers worked in 24 hours shifts at the GeSa in Hamburg- Harburg. 250 people were attended to during the summit. Several prisoners said, they were denied basic hygienic articles, even though they asked for it repeatedly. In one case, the request from a young women was met with the statement: „Demonstrators don‘t get periods.“ In another case a young women said, she had to insert a tampon in front of police officers. It was burning up in the cells, there were up to eight prisoners in one cell, instead of five, even though not all the cells were occupied. The prisoners got two slices of bread in 24 hours, access to restrooms was granted very scarcely. There where few mattresses and no blankets. With kicks against the cell doors, the prisoners were kept awake. Some cells had constant light, while others had none at all. An injured women, who was taken to the GeSa on Friday (July 7th) with a suspected nose break, did not receive food for 15 hours. Her injury was not x-rayed. She was only seen by a judge 40 hours after her arrest, who released her at 11pm that same day. The prisoners in custody are generally only allowed visitors with a permission from the judge. These visits where being strictly surveilled (letter from Fabios mother to her son from August 7th, 2017). Additionally, it was impossible to send packages with clean clothes to the prisoners for weeks. The continuance of the custody was justified with „defending the law“.
Fleeing or hiding evidence, which is usually the reason for enforcing custody, did not play any role. Therefore the custody itself presents as a preventive measure. A non-German passport, strenghtened the accuse – of being a potential enemy to society – leading to longer custody and harsher sentences. Additionally many released prisoners received letters, asking them for a voluntary DNA analysis.
Part II: Trials and Sentences
In general, one can say it became pretty obvious through all the trials that no matter which person was in front of the judge and no matter what the charges were – every single one of them was blamed for the riots, especially those on Friday night and ultimately sentenced for them. This type of mass participation during street fights and attacks on cops should be prevented in the future. The fear of the power hungry advocates, became clear in the politically motivated pleas, in which they tried to paint the activists as isolated criminals, without any political identities. A technique used worldwide. In order to understand the outrage about the sentences and its justifications, it is important to explain how German police is regularly trying to get sentences with the use of „Tatbeobachter“ (Tabos), loosely translated as crime witnesses, as well as isolated video scenes. Arrests, especially during demonstrations, are often only based on alleged observations by „Tabos“. In the past, their statements could usually not stand the cross examination in court, so that few people (excluding especially Kurdish activists), were placed on probation, but very rarely received prison time.
Another issue can be found in the German so called left scene: In the 80s a campaign arouse from the German left scene: „Anna and Arthur shut up“. A campaign, which was based on the right to refuse any statements. According to this right, anyone who is arrested or on trial can refuse any statement in front of the cops or the judge, except stating the details on the passport. Understanding this right as a weapon- as a way of protecting structures or other people – but also as an act of resistance – in the sense of withdrawing yourself from any dialogue with the state, is sadly not a given anymore. A decision of making a statement in court or not, is often an individual one or left up to the strategy of the lawyers.
The strategies from the lawyer often focused on reaching deals, which can be described as an understanding between the judge and prosecutor and the defense attorney – which usually forces the defense to agree to certain points brought up by the judge in exchange for a softer sentence and in confessions, which under certain circumstances can be justified. Though there were not only deals and confessions within the prisoners, that could under certain circumstances be a valid choice, but it went as far as prisoners apologizing to the judges and cops, as well as to the HASPA bank and Budnikowsky (store). One Example: A 28 year old guy from Hamburg read his confession out loud. He said, he did not know what possessed him that evening. It was simply his curiosity that drove him to the Schanze, after he saw pictures of the riots in TV. Upon arrival, the crowd swept him along. „If I could turn back time, I would just stay home that night and watch everything on TV.“, he said on Tuesday. He was actually on his way to Barmbeck that night, where he know lives, when he coincidentally passed the riots at Pferdemarkt, where he was attacked with pepper spray, which made him angry, additionally he had taken cocaine that night as well. The verdict: 3 years of prison.
Fabio marks a clear exception here, he wrote a political statement, which he read out in front of the court. This is not only sign of bravery and political knowledge, it is also an important step for all of us to fight against the repression, not buckly in the face of danger and fight against the criminilisation of our struggles.
There are several examples of the G20 trials at the end of the article. Until today, Konstantin’s, Christian’s and Fabio’trials are still ongoing and their documentations can be found on the „United we stand“ web page. Some are also in English. Keeping the raids and the recent publication of mug shots in mind, more trials are probably soon to follow.
Part III: First raids before the summit
During the evening of July 1st, the apartments of two comrades was searched by police. As far as we know up until now, the raids were carried out due to „danger prevention“. During the raids, USB sticks, computers, private cell phones and clothes were taken. One affected person was charged with planning crimes in the context of the G20 summit. Observations were noticed in the days before the raids. The second person was released that same evening.
Raids on July 8th
After the G20 Summit, Hamburg police raided the international center B5 in st Paul. At 10:45 AM, riot police stormed the center and attacked the people who were present at the time.
Without stating any reason, the people were handcuffed and the rooms on the center and two adjoining private apartments were searched. Also the cellar and the adjoining B-movie and FoodCoop was ransacked. Allegedly, the police suspected Molotov cocktails in the center, which turned out to be a complete defamation.
Raids concerning the looting
The hamburg police raided 14 residences, shortly after the summit in Hamburg and Schleswig – Holstein. Reason for that, was the looting of the Apple Store during the riots on Friday night. Several cell phones were located and the owners were charged with concealment of stolen goods. Also one cellphone store was searched, where allegedly several of the „illegally possessed cell phones“ were sold.
Ban of Linksunten.indymedia.org
On august 25th, Bundesinnenminister (Interior Minister)Thomas de Maiziere, banned the online-platform „linksunten.indymedia.org“ on the grounds of society laws. For the German left and radical left scene, Linksunten was the platform, where all the Call ups, daily political news and explanations for attacks where published. It was as important to the left scene as it was apparently to the cops, intelligence service and media, since it was obviously seen as a reliable source and early-warning system for pending riots. The operation of Linksunten since 2009 as an open network for left media activists was declared a crime by de Maziere. This led to several raids in Baden- Würtemberg, which luckily did not leave anyone arrested. Currently the BKA is searching for the location of the servers, that were being used by the platform. More raids are to be expected. The timing of this whole action can only be speculated about. It is possible that the Ministry of Interior wanted to polish up their image, after the weekly press releases about the massive police violence against the anti summit demonstrators.
They are being charged with severe breach of the peace, attempted physical assault and resistance. Since, this peticular group of arrested people represented the majority of the arrested overall and the cops were not able to arrest many organised militants, they together with the help of the media, tried to paint a picture of the „Rondenbarg- group“ as extremely violent and probably responsible for all the destruction and direct actions during the summit. Also the raids can be connected with that attempt, the „success“ of these raids, were presented by the cops during a press conference on december 5th.
We clearly see the raids as a public spectacle as well as an attempt to uncover the alleged organisational structures behind the actions, rather than collecting evidence concerning alleged individual participants. Not confirmed by official sides, but published in several press releases, the cops were mainly searching for evidences on structures, which prepared militant actions and made them possible in Hamburg. Especially around the area of the Elbchaussee, the cops allegedly discovered containers with masking material, fireworks and clothes, which the police interpreted as evidence for the theory, that local groups organised the logistics for international comrades. Though the police suspects mainly international comrades for setting over 20 cars on fire in the Elbchaussee during July 7th.
Part V: Mug shots from hamburg police:
During the night of july 8th, the hamburg police established an online portal for tips and leads. They appealed to the curious crowd, to upload any picture or video material from their own smartphones and cameras. Only 12 hours later, they celebrated the fact, that they had already received over 1000 files. With this call out for denunciation and betrayal, the police provoked an online coursing. The Soko „Black Block“, is working on 12 terabyte of picture files. In total 163 cops are working on 3340 cases. On monday, december 8th the hamburg policed published 104 pictures of 104 alleged criminals and 5 videos concerning the „Elbchaussee“, the „G20 not welcome demo“, „looting“, „attacks with bottles and stones“ and „Rondenbarg“. Additionaly several pictures made it into the german media. The hamburg police anounced: „There will be more mug shots, because we have a lot of material, which has not yet been evaluated.“
Five G20 Trials:
The first trial was held against Peike, from the Netherlands. He is being accused of having thrown two bottles at Berlin police in the Schanze on the 6th of July. The only two witnesses, cops from Berlin, had suffered from major memory loss and both described a bottle throwing person, who did not look at all like the defendant. The prosecutor explained his persecution for prison time, by taking Peike into responsibility for the „civil war like circumstances“ on Friday night (where Peike was already in custody!). The judge Johann Krieten, known as a right wing hardliner, proclaimed his judgment as followed: „Police officers are not fair game for the fun society, they are not fair game for action orientated criminals“. He called the riots on Friday night, riot tourism with the aim of hunting cops and smashing the windows of the HASPA bank. The harsh punishment was necessary, due to reasons of „preventing violence.“ The pig proclaimed the sentence of two years and seven months. Peike is appealing against this judgement.
2nd Trial: The defendant was stopped and searched on Saturday, July 8th, close to Dammtor train station. He was insinuated with being on his way to the „g20 not welcome“ demonstration. In his bag pack, the cops found pepper spray, diving goggles and small fire crackers. He is being accused of violating the „law of gathering“, and laws against carrying weapons and explosives. Again, the trial ended with an obszene harsh punishment of 6 within 2 years of probation. Prosecutor Elsner seized the moment to proclaim his personal propaganda: „The attacks on cops with bottles and stones increased dramatically during the demonstration. The defendant should be writing a thank you letter to the cops, who arrested him, had he thrown anything during the demonstration, he would be going to jail for a long time.“
3rd example. The prosecutor accused the 21 year old defendant, of having thrown six bottles in the direction of the cops during the demonstration on the Fishmarket, as well as resisting during his arrest. After the judge explained the right of refusing a statement, the lawyer explained extensively the defendants plea deal. In the last two months, that he spent in jail, he had learned a lot about loneliness. He never wanted to get himself or his family in such a hell like situation. He was now aware of his stupidity. Cops are also only humans. The judge, sentenced the defendant to 1 year and 5 months on two years of probation, as well as a 500 Euro fine, which should be donated to the widows and orphans of police officers.
4th example: The charges: Criminal assault with a dangerous weapon (glass bottle), as well as resistance against police officers. The defendant confessed the charges and regretted his actions. He agreed to a DNA sampling, which took place on a break during the hearing. The TABO Hachmann allegedly followed the defendant after he allegedly threw the bottle and saw him, taking down his mask in a little kiosk and changed his clothes on the next street corner. Verdict: 1 year on 3 years of probation. The defendant, had questioned the monopoly of the state and did not see the human in uniform during his actions. The police deserved respect and honour for their committment and should not be targeted.
5th example: Fabio was released from youth arrest in exchange for a bail of 10000 Euro. His trial is still ongoing. The charges: Severe breach of the peace in the case of „Rondenbarg“. This is an excerpt of Fabios declaration during the trial: First of all i want to say that the ladies and gentlemen of politics, police inspectors and prosecutors probably believe they can hinder the dissent on the streets if they arrest and lock up a bunch of kids.
Likely they believe that prison is enough to hold back the rebellious voices that arise everywhere. Likely they believe that repression will stop our thirst for freedom. Our will to create a better world. I have made my decision and i am not afraid if there, unjustly, will be a price i have to pay for that. Nevertheless is there something i want to say to you, if you believe me or not: i do not like violence. But i have ideals and i decided to fight for them.
„Tatbeobachter*innen/Tabos“ (Crime Observer):
Tabo‘s are dressed as demonstrators, sometimes they would be dressed colerful, sometimes with a beerbottle in their hand, sometimes they would be masked. They run side by side with us in the demonstrations and they can be hard to detect. They watch alleged crimes, without intervening. Later they are called as witnesses in front of court. Tabos are cops from a certain unit. On the contrary, there are cops dressed as civilians, the so called PMS. These civil cops usually move around in bigger groups, very obviously next to the rows of cops, they carry earphones and weapons and they pass on information about well known activists to the BFE (unit, responsible for arrests and securing evidence).
Tightening of laws:
Since the 30th of may 2017, the paragraph 113 ist now divided into §113, which includes acts of resistance and §114, which scales assault. The newly structured §114 includes the assault against officers (cops, paramedics) as its own element of a crime. An assault can be any kind of act against the body of an officer, for example when you try to to free yourself from the grip of a cop during an arrest. The minimal sentence here would be a three months prison sentence. Additionally, simply carrying a weapon or a dangerous tool, can be defined as a severe act of resistance or assault, independent from your intentions with that tool. You can also be charged, for your comrades carrying such a tool like a glass bottle or another sharp instrument.
Society has failed, when it imprisons those who question it!
Feuer und Flamme der Repression!
With this slogan the campaign: „United we stand“ made a callout for action days from the 28.1. to the 4.2.2018.
german l portugueseTags: germanyg20the stateRepressionanarchists in troublecontra infocategory: International
Brasil: Months for anti-authoritarian agitation for the anarchic offensive against “Operation Érebo”
Insubmissive solidarity to all persecuted anarchists in the southern region of the territory dominated by the Brazilian state.
We call for extensive action in the months of February and March in response to the “operation érebo”.
In 2017, the civil police of Porto Alegre initiated the so-called “érebo operation” to persecute anarchists and libertarian spaces. It is clear for us that the state wants to overthrow everyone who makes their ideas a real threat.
No aggression will remain unanswered. In light of this, we call for immediate responses to come from all corners against the enemy. We will not be in the cowardly defense, waiting for the next juridical police step to hit us.
Let the idea spread within all dominated territories like the fire of unconquered rebellion. May the words of rebellion blow upon the wind through the world.
Let’s be creative
COMUNICATION IS A WEAPON!FOR STATELESS SOLIDARITY!FREEDOM WILL PREVAIL!
“We are anarchists, we love freedom and yes, we despise all the values and institutions that this war machine called capitalism and civilization is comprised of”
Brasilanarchists in troubleOperation Érebocategory: Prisoners
From It's Going DownThe following zine collection from Buffalo Red and Black, based in New York, chronicles anarchist activity in the area in 2017. Be sure to check out other year end reviews from It’s Going Down, CrimethInc., Anathema, Conflict MN, these awesome video collections, and anarchists in Austin.
Read and Download Here
Buffalo Red & Black/Roja y Negra has released an anthology of articles recalling our experiences in 2017. BRB/BRN is not so much an organization as an anarcho-communist network – one that attempts to incubate affinity groups, diversify and intensify our social ties, and make our projects for change realizable.
The anthology consists of 15 articles divided between reprints of BRB/BRN-related communiques that were previously published on IGD, and a variety of community submissions.
The anthology also serves as a memorial to the comrades whose lives were lost in 2017: Jenny (Lovely) Keys, and Ty Tumminia. Their passion for, and actions furthering, radical change will not be forgotten.Buffaloreviewupstate nyscott norwoodcategory: Projects
From Sprout Distro
The following zines were published (or made available online) over the past month. They address variety of different themes of interest to the broad anarchist space. As always, inclusion in this monthly blog post doesn’t imply endorsement. We encourage you to copy and distribute these zines as you see fit.
If you have suggestions for next time, please contact us.Zines & Pamphlets Published in January 2018 Cameras Everywhere Safety Nowhere
This is a short piece by Crimethinc that argues against the idea that police body cameras will make people safer and will stop police from murdering people. The opening gives a good indication of the content: “police get away with murder not because we don’t see it, but because they’re part of a larger system that tells them it’s reasonable to kill people. From lawmakers, judges, and prosecutors to juries, citizens, and the media, every level of society uncritically supports and transmits the police point of view.” It’s not a new argument for anarchists, but it is a zine that would be no doubt helpful for people looking to resist liberal cooptation of anti-police struggles.
This text is a reprint of an article that was published on the French website Lundi Matin. It’s an attempt to respond to the question of who are the “rioters” (or casseurs as they are called in French) that took to the streets in the movement against the Loi Travail. It’s a sort-of poetic attempt to answer the question by asserting that “the rioter is the sage who descends into the city” that carries within themselves and their actions a sort of “truth.”
This zine collects five texts originally published in the immediate aftermath of the Charlottesville protests against the “Unite the Right” rally and the fascist murder of Heather Heyer. The texts attempt to analyze the climate after Charlottesville, exploring the affect the events had on both the “alt-right”/white supremacist movement as well as the anti-fascist and anarchist movement that successfully beat the fascists in the streets. There is a lot of thorough analysis and while conditions continue to change, this zine remains relevant both as an artifact of that event as well as a means of ensuring that people won’t forget and can continue to learn from Charlottesville over time.
This is a thorough analysis of the various confrontations that happened in the Bay area of California between anti-fascists and fascists over the course of 2017. Beginning with the up-tick in fascist activity in 2016 during Trump’s campaign and the large clash in Sacramento, the text moves through the many visible confrontations that happened in 2017. It’s both a history of these events as well as an analysis rooted in what the past year means for future struggles. Regardless of where one lives, it has a lot of useful insight into antifascist struggles and insights that could be transferable to different contexts.
This is a chapter from the recently published book Now by the Invisible Committee that discusses the role of police in society and offers some suggestions on how revolutionaries should relate to them. Rather than seeking a military victory over the police – which would be impossible due to their strength – the authors argue that the goal is to out-maneuver the police and render their attempts at control obsolete. They argue that “the police are a target and not an objective, an obstacle and not an opponent,” and suggest that we aim beyond the police by way of a mix of what they label “a subtle interplay between the visible and the invisible, the public and the clandestine, the legal and the illegal.”
This is a chapter excerpted from The Savage Peace by Sash Durakov which was published in 2017 by the Belli Research Institute. It’s a short piece offering several thoughts on the idea that there is a “civil war” in the so-called United States. Rather than asserting that the civil war is a symmetrical conflict between two different sides, the author offers the idea that civil war is something that is always existing under the surface and ever changing. The piece is primarily concerned with the way in which civil war produces disorder and how those disorders can be used to our advantage. Much of the content is rooted in the Twin Cities and as such identifies “the Left” and non-profits as two of the most visible roadblocks in presenting people from taking advantage of the disorder of civil war.
This zine documents a squatting action that took place between June 2nd and June 13th 2016 in Hong Kong. As such it offers a window into resistance in a corner of the world that many who read primarily English don’t often see. The text is a mix of chronologically presented updates/communiques from the occupation interspersed with pictures.
Sub-titled “Tips from Anarchist Prisoners Dane Powell & Joseph Buddenburg” this zine seeks to demystify prison for radicals who might be facing the prospect of prison, people who are supporting someone through a sentence, or just those who are just curious to learn more about prison. The authors are Dane Powell, who served four months for their activity at the 2017 inauguration protests and Joseph Buddenburg, who is serving 2 years for “Conspiracy to Violate the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act.” It’s a helpful overview with tips on dealing with jail in Washington DC, being transferred between jails, and a lengthy guide to serving time in federal custody.
This is a zine-formatted version of a text titled “Abolitionism in the 21st Century: From Communization as the End of Sex, to Revolutionary Transfeminism” that was originally published online in Blind Field: A Journal of Cultural Inquiry. It’s an assessment of where gender abolition as a theoretical idea is at, with the starting point being Theorie Communiste’s call for the abolition of gender. From there it discusses other attempts to engage with the topic, from Endnotes to a smattering of anarchist publications such as the journal Baedan and Towards An Insurrectionary Transfeminism. Overall, it offers a somewhat helpful assessment of the state of gender abolition as a theoretical idea.
This zine is a reformatted version of the introduction to the Hostis journal that came out a few years ago. It attempts to outline a practice of “partisanship” that rejects ethics, democracy, and prefiguration. It has a lot of strong words for altruism, masochism, civil disobedience, and other such concepts. It’s heavily infused with the ideas of Tiqqun, arguing for a concept of “civil war” that is similar to what Tiqqun outlined in Introduction to Civil War.
From the inside cover:
“The following pamphlet is a collection of antagonism in the Twin Cities and beyond. The bulk of the pamphlet are communiques and reports gathered from Conflict MN, supplemented with several news stories of attacks. The final pages also include a gallery and a short resources section.
As with the previous year’s compilation, the reports are meant to speak for themselves.”
This is the latest edition of Anathema, an anarchist publication out of Philadelphia. It continues to be a strong example of what a local counter-information project can look like with reports on anarchist activity in Philadelphia, analysis of what is happening in the city, etc. This issue features a lengthy reflection on the anarchist space over the past year with insights that could be useful for people outside of Philadelphia.
This is a frequently published journal of Solidarity & Defense, a statewide organization in Michigan “fighting to oppose fascist and racist attacks wherever they occur and to unite our forces to build strong community self defense”. As such, it includes updates on the white nationalist Richard Spencer coming to speak at Michigan State University (MSU), an article on racist police in Northern Michigan, a piece critiquing whiteness, and a report on actions titled “Fuck the Democratic Party, Here’s the Real Resistance.”
This is a short excerpt from the book The Savage Peace: Democracy’s 2500 Years of Failure and the Global Legacy of Civil War. This excerpt looks at the American Revolution and examines why that conflict is referred to as a “revolution” rather than a “civil war”. At the center of this text is the idea that the “Revolution” was less about ensuring egalitarianism and more about managing the various conflicts that existed along racial, class, and other lines. This is a useful text for sharpening our collective critique of democracy.
This is an English translation of a zine that originally was published in German by Capulcu Productions. It intends to reframe technological progress as “technological attack” and asserts that technology is not neutral. From the introduction:
“For many years now, we’ve been assailed by a wave of technological attacks. We misconstrue this attack as a supposedly neutral ‘technological development’ and play along willingly. It’s time for a well-founded analysis, it’s time for a plot against the dramatically increasing heternomy.” This is one of the few projects that attempts to engage with technology in such a critical manner and it presents a convincing case.
This zine is a collection of responses to the Invisible Committee’s recently published book Now. The essays are drawn from the website Autonomies.org and attempt to clarify and expand on the arguments presented in the text. It’s no doubt more useful if it was to be read alongside Now, but as a stand alone text it could also serve as a brief introduction for those who don’t want to commit to reading the Invisible Committee.zinesSprout distrocategory: Projects
Fundraising for lawyers working on cases about police raids and arrests of anarchists and antifascists in St. Petersburg and Penza, Russia has begun. At the moment two persons in St. Petersburg and five in Penza are arrested, more are connected to the case as witnesses. Raids and repressions are likely to continue. Arrested are charged with part 2 of article 205.4 of russian Criminal Code (participation in terrorist organisation) at the request of court from Penza.
On January 23, on the way to Pulkovo Airport the Federal Security Service (FSB) detained Victor Filinkov. In order to get the testimony he was beaten up and tortured with electric shocks in the woods. Signs of torture were confirmed by the Filinkov's lawyer and members of the Public Monitoring Commission (ONK) who have visited him in the pre-trial detention center. Filinkov is arrested for two months.
On January 25 the FSB came unexpectedly with a raid to Igor Shishkin's apartment. After the raid neither his lawyer, nor members of Public Monitoring Commission were unable to find Igor for more than a day. On January 27 Igor with signs of a beating was brought to a court session where he was arrested in Pre-trial Detention Center for two months. Journalists were not allowed to attend the hearing and evenmore two of them were arrested.
Tortures were also applied to witnesses. Ilya Kapustin was beaten up and tortured with electric shock while police demanded him to give testimony that some of his acquantances are up to "something dangerous". Numerous traces of the stun gun usage were recorded later by health service.
In Penza, arrests began already in October of 2017. Local FSB arrested six young persons, five of whom are currently in a pre-trial detention. All of the arrested were brutally tortured. One may read in detail about the Penza events from this article: https://avtonom.org/en/news/airsoft-penza-terrorism-case
Legal help is necessary for prisoners (whose number can increase) and witnesses. So far it is early to speak about the certain amount of money, but it will be at least 200 thousand rubles for work of lawyers in the next months.
Anarchist Black Cross St.Petersburg
DETAILS FOR TRANSACTIONS TO SUPPORT ARRESTED
PayPal: email@example.com ABC Moscow
In case you want to support a particular prisoner, add a note about that. In case you want to donate to St. Petersburg and Penza case, write a note For "St. Petersburg and Penza". We recommend to send euros or dollars, as other currencies are automatically converted to euro according to PayPal rates.
Yandex-wallet of Anarchist Black Cross St. Petersburg 41001160378989
In case you need another option for money transfer, please contact the Anarchist Black Cross of Moscow:
All material on the case can be found on this section:
Case of anti-fascists of St. Petersburg and Penza
With the occasion of the recent centenary of the Russian Revolution of October, 1917, Anthony Zurbrugg has edited a wonderful contribution to our understanding of those turbulent times. As the revolution turned into a bitter civil war, exacerbated by the blockade of Soviet Russia by the allies of the Entente –mostly France, Britain and the US-, news of what was really going on in Russia were scarce. While the bourgeois press published horror stories, the left-wing movements associated to the Bolshevik movement reproduced propaganda documents which idealised everything Soviet. It was only in 1920 that it became possible for foreigners to visit the Soviet Union, and many unionists and revolutionaries from all over the world did so in order to offer they support and to witness the revolution with their very own eyes. The trip was not easy: often the travellers would be arrested by the countries of the so-called “free world” on their way in or out of the Soviet Union. However the hardships of such a trip, the testimonies left by these visitors give us an invaluable insight into the revolution as it developed, its complexities, hardship, difficulties, achievements and disappointments.Bringing to life a world in revolution
What we found in this collection of reports put together by Zurbrugg, are testimonies written by anarchists who visited the USSR in the crucial years of 1920-1921, in a period in which still the majority of the anarchist movement supported the Bolsheviks, being oblivious (or in denial) of the suppression of the anarchists which started in 1918 and knowing little or nothing about the Makhnovist movement in the Ukraine. In short, these testimonies constitute a most valuable collection of encounters with the realities of an authoritarian revolution by libertarians. Many of these testimonies are available here for the first time in English, such as those written by Vilkens, Ángel Pestaña, Armando Borghi and Gastón Leval. The lengthy document by Emma Goldman, The Crushing of the Russian Revolution, had been published by Freedom Press in London in 1922 and it has been, as far as I am aware, unavailable since. These witnesses, are quite extraordinary figures. The Asturias born Manuel Fernández Alvar, aka Vilkens, to give but one example, went to Russia in 1920 to fight in the Red Army, but growing increasingly critical was arrested between October and November 1920, and then allowed to leave for France. He would die eventually in 1936 fighting fascism in Spain, in the defence of Guadarrama. Informed by these encounters, a critical stance of the international anarchist movement started to develop, as put succinctly by Vilkens: ‘The Russian revolution proves undeniably, against the opinion of reformists, that the capitalist class is not needed at all, that it is a parasite that society can do without. And here we are in agreement with the communists, except that the latter wish to impose a transitional regime which will make them the profiteers of the revolution while we do not expect anything for our own particular benefit and fight for the people themselves to benefit from the revolution’ (p.67).
Let us acknowledge that, like any testimony, these are highly subjective. It is also true that given these testimonies were written in 1920-1921, we miss an important element of the whole picture: they can’t tell us in what ways society actually did change in the period 1917-1920, because none of them was a witness to pre-revolutionary Russia nor to the first years of the revolutionary upheaval -the only Russian in this collection, Goldman, had left Russia in 1885 when she was a teenager. However, this is compensated with a wealth of information they provide about the day to day hardships of ordinary people and their impressions on the political realities of a society in revolution. They bring to life this fateful period with vivid snapshots. These testimonies are well-informed. All of the contributors spent months and even years in the land of the Soviets. None of them was hostile at first. All of them travelled to support the revolution and evaluate ways to defend it and expand it. Some of them had travelled to the International Congress of Unions of July 1920, as representatives of their own organisations, at a time when the Third International was coming into being. It was after their encounter with the harsh realities of post-revolutionary Russia, that they developed a critical stance. At first, however, most of them yearned intimately to be wrong when confronted with the evidence of the bureaucratic and despotic turn of the revolution. ‘How I would have preferred to be mistaken!’, thought Pestaña, ‘How I wold have preferred that this could be nothing but the workings of a fevered imagination, driven by the prejudice that might influence me driven by life under capitalism!’ (p.73). It is perhaps the fact that they had come with hopes and expectations what made their clash with reality the bitterer. And yet, in spite of their bitter disappointment, they still made efforts to be as balanced as possible, sometimes bordering on the pathetic, like Vilkens defending the Cheka of the accusations of torture in the international press: ‘Yet it is wrong to say that torture is employed by the Cheka. It executes easily, judges without guarantees, commits all sorts of injustices in the name of the proletariat, but as for torture, nothing would be so untrue. Bourgeois spies invent that. The Cheka is odious enough just as it is. It is the White armies that carry out savage mutilations and executions among the communists and the people’ (p.56).The problem of creating a new society in the shell of the old
The value of these testimonies, above all, is that they are a reminder of the enormous difficulties of changing society, forcing us to put some more thought into general problems which are found in any revolutionary situation. No revolutionaries ever chose the conditions under which they will do the revolution and often they have had to work in exceedingly difficult circumstances of famine, civil war, embargoes, blockade, as the anarchist would found twenty years later in Spain. But the context of revolutionaries influences outcomes in other ways. Inasmuch as most revolutionaries want to also change radically society, there is never a blank slate in which to start putting into practice their social projects: they have soaked in values of the dominant society, they have to build a new world when the structures of the old permeate culture, communities, infrastructure, and institutions of all sorts. In spite of the claim that the Bolshevik revolution stamped out the last vestiges of the Czar’s regime, many of the testimonies here point at the continuities between the old regime and the new regime after the revolution. Most of these continuities referred to State structures, but also to political, community and class dynamics –here we find early critiques on how elements of the old regime managed to thrive and reproduce socially their privileged status through the bureaucratic structures of the State, a problem faced not only by radical revolutions, but also by reformist attempts elsewhere. Years later, Charles Bettelheim –who most certainly wasn’t an anarchist- would explore in detail this process in his famous Class Struggles in the USSR(Monthly Review Press, 1976). To what a degree the Bolsheviks reproduced the dominant ideology of the old regime, and how their ways aped the ways of the autocracy, is reflected here in an anecdotal fashion: following the official fashion of naming everything through acronyms, people in Russian cities derided the Sov-bourg, or the Soviet Bourgeoisie, that is, commissars, bureaucrats and technocrats, together with the Sod-Koms, or the mistresses of the commissars, many of whom came actually from the old aristocracy (p.36).The international arena as a straight-jacket
Another big problem which revolutionaries have encountered time and again lies in the international arena, where often they found themselves surrounded by reactionary regimes, such as the Holy Alliance in the 18th century against French Revolution, and the Entente and its criminal blockade of Russia in 1920. These regimes are bent on isolating, invading, strangling, starving and smothering the revolution, thus making it non-viable and avoiding its spread to their own realms. The role of the Western capitalist countries in relation to the Russian tragedies and the famine of the early years of the revolution has been largely white-washed in mainstream historical accounts, in which they single-out the Bolshevik policy as sole responsible of this most dreadful body-count. The testimonies in this book put the record straight. The veteran anarchist Pyotr Kropotkin, in a private conversation with Goldman, in which she asked why he hadn’t denounced the arbitrary nature of the Bolshevik rule, confessed that ‘so long as Russia was being attacked by the combined imperialists of Europe, and Russian women and children were starved to death by the criminal blockade, he could not join the shrieking chorus of the ex-revolutionists in the cry of “Crucify!”’ (p.139). The Spanish anarcho-syndicalist Pestaña, while acknowledging the many faults of the Bolsheviks, also lashed out against the criminal behaviour of the West in outrage:
‘We refuse to hold them responsible for all the evils that afflict the Russian people. In saying so we proceed with the same candour that we used in rejecting and challenging the political procedures and sophistries that the Bolsheviks deployed to seize and remain in power. Yes, they are partly responsible, but for the smallest part, we must add from the off.
Material responsibility for all the miseries we witnessed in the seventy days we spent in Russia, falls as an affront, a stigma and a terrible accusation against Europe’s governments and bourgeoisie (…) One must absolve the Bolsheviks of this sin. They have enough faults already on their conscience as socialists and as actors in the drama of the dawning of a new world, without also burdening them with ones they did not commit, and sins for which they cannot be held responsible’ (p.10-11)
The Kurdish in Rojava have found this same problem –as they have fought to create a new world based on the principles of freedom, autonomy and equality, they have faced a fierce reaction by the most conservative elements of the region, as well as the active military opposition of the Turkish State. But the international arena poses another most subtle problem which has massive repercussions for the organisation of a new and revolutionary society. As no nation can survive on its own in a world interconnected as this in which we live in, the relations to a world still organised in the form of conventional Nation-States poses enormous challenges for revolutionaries. The Kurdish of Rojava, for instance, in order to dialogue with the outside world, had to develop democratic autonomous administrations which mirrors more traditional representative administration, with its parliament, parties and ministers. Although this system has been described as transitional and it runs in parallel to the more direct-democracy oriented council network, it still imposes limitations to the ability of the revolutionaries to change radically their society. These objectives difficulties cannot be overstated and any serious movement aiming at changing society need to factor them in.The thin-line that divides defence of the revolution from repression
Other immense problem for revolutions is posed by privileged sectors of society, even sectors of the subordinate classes enjoying meagre and very relative privileges: since times immemorial some sectors of the oppressed have been used by those in power to oppose other oppressed. How to proceed, as anarchists, with sectors who, without being part of the dominant classes still want to keep a privileged position in relation to other oppressed groups? Coercion, a fundamental fact in social life, has been always elusive in anarchist thinking, although revolution, as such, is a coercive action by definition –the suppression of some sectors of society, no matter it is made in the name of justice and freedom, is not a sweet affair. An example of this problem is explored in the testimonies of Pestaña, who discusses the situation of the anti-Bolshevik (and presumably anti-revolutionaries) Tula munitions factories’ workers, who had staged a strike shortly before he had visited them, which had been crushed with a great deal of ruthlessness by the Bolsheviks. His testimony, though short, is full of insights to feed into broader debates around these issues:
‘It should be pointed out –always in the interest of fullest impartiality and so that readers’ judgment is not distorted- that the sentences passed on these strikers (…) to us (…) seemed harsh and disproportionate, the strike was unjustified; furthermore at that moment it had counter-revolutionary consequences. Tula munition workers (…) enjoyed benefits and privileges not enjoyed by workers elsewhere. And these privileges were respected by the Soviet Government, inasmuch as was appropriate and possible (…) So (…) being in a superior position as compared to other workers all over Russia, what could justify a call to strike? Moreover, there was another factor that made the circumstances of this strike all even more tragic.
(…) Workers decided to declare a strike and stage a conflict in these workshops at the very moment when the whole world was anticipating the threat of a Polish invasion of Russia. Such a strike would leave the Red Army defenceless against the enemy, would it not? (…) the declaration of a strike might have led to an invasion by reactionary armies.’ (p.70-71)
This testimony shows how bluntly real life puts to test the lofty theories and good intentions of genuine revolutionaries. No matter how reasonable the argument provided here, one may wonder if the Kronstadt workers and sailors weren’t accused in similar terms of potentially aiding even if involuntarily, the reactionary forces. Surely there were important differences –while the Kronstadt sailors and workers were actually defending the revolution and demanding an end to its bureaucratic deviations through a very practical programme elaborated in the original spirit of the Soviet system, the Tula workers seemed bent on gaining particular demands for themselves, placing their own relative privileges above the general needs of the bulk of the oppressed. However the historical verdict on this particular case, it proves that dealing with conflicting interests at a time of deep change, is always difficult and complex. No amount of well-meaning rhetoric can do away with this problem, and no one-size-fit-all solutions exist in order to deal with it either. Again, Vilkens summarises in powerful terms the difficulties faced by actual revolutions in terms of the thin line which divides defence of the revolution from repression, abuse and arbitrariness: ‘We do not believe that a revolution must be sweet and united, but what appears as unjustifiable and criminal is that it should be treated as an umbrella for all things’ (p.56).History at the service of a better future
All in all, this is a highly recommended book which adds to the efforts being done by Anarres -Merlin Press, of making available to an English speaking audience a number of documents of the international anarchist movement which are rarely available in this language. However critical of the centralisation and the dictatorship of the single-party which developed in the USSR, these testimonies, as we have seen, are far from a black and white narrative. The narrative is complex, emotional but nuanced. If there is hurt and bitterness in these pages it is precisely because these are not detached observers. There is a rich texture here, in which the concerns of these militants, all committed to the revolution in their respective countries, comes up to the very forefront. They are just not observing events from a distance as train-spotters. They are thinking of what they can take with them to help them in their own revolutionary activities. They are trying to understand the events in Russia as a way to advance social transformation in their own contexts. It is with these eyes that contemporary activists should approach history in general and this book in particular. Almost a hundred years later, the voices of these anarchists still have a great contribution to make in the endeavour for a better future.José Antonio Gutiérrez D.
25 January, 2018 Tags: book reviewrussian revolutioncategory: Essays
Cancún, Mexico: Explosive Attack Against the PRI Municipal Management Committee by ‘Attack Cells Against Devastation’
We are not willing to accept any kind of government or domination.
Shortly after the elections and without taking leftist attitudes, we wanted to leave our opinion about their political parties at their doors. We no longer accept the role of observers of this circus, where the rulers are just puppets of those who hold real power, whatever their party, it’s nothing more than an illusion to make them believe they have a choice when in reality everyone works for the same master, murdering living beings, destroying the earth, taking control of our lives and everything around them.
We will not stay silent despite the internal security law that they have already legislated, that they want to use, through terror, to eradicate any attempt or trace of subversion using the violence unleashed by the mafias (who everybody knows are directly connected to the State) as a pretext.
This is why at midnight on the 29th of January an explosive device was left at the gates of the Municipal Management Committee (CDM) of the PRI* in Cancún. There was no news coverage about it or any reports as during this time it does not suit them to have any kind of bad reputation, but the attempts continue; against them and against all those who participate in the destruction of the earth.
With this attack we send a fraternal gesture of solidarity to those who remain in clandestinity and are on the run from the jaws of the prison system, to let them know that they are not alone, we are also in solidarity with all actions for total liberation.
ATTACK CELLS AGAINST DEVASTATION
(via Contra Info, translated by Insurrection News)
*Institutional Revolutionary Party, a political party that held power in Mexico for 71 years from 1929 to 2000.Tags: MexicoPRIdirect actioncategory: Actions
Santiago, Chile: Responsibility Claim from ‘Conspiracy of the Black Cells’ for the Coordinated Attacks Against Catholic Churches on 12.01.18
At dawn on January 12th, the night of the hooded moon, we decided to attack one of the most repugnant and murderous entities in history, an entity that based on some stories has plunged millions of people into their misery and immersed their hands into passivity…we claim responsibility for the attacks against 5 Catholic temples in the sectors of Quinta Normal, Villa Portales, Central Station, Peñalolen and Recoleta. Two of the devices did not achieve their material purpose but they did manage to raise a large media uproar. In relation to these coordinated actions we declare:
1) We have no relationship with the MJL, nor with the attacks on political parties, which the media and the Southern Prosecutor’s office clumsily tried to link us to.
2) The motivations for carrying out these actions are our contempt for Catholicism from its roots since it went as far as portraying itself as ‘popular’, this popularity is based on the imposition that occured during conquest, when after this masscare, people, communities and ‘huachos’ of their almost extinct cultures had no choice but to adopt the Roman apostolic story. We will not respect or tolerate any church that sponsors genocide, looting, rapes and the imposition of authority, we will never have any respect for this murderous institution, that blesses the armed forces readying themselves to repress and intimidate the communities of the Wallmapu, we will not tolerate the main sponsoring entity of the anthropocentric ego that views the entire untamed nature that surrounds us and places it at the feet of the human race and gives it the role of protector and principal beneficiary, as if the existence of everything else that makes up this world depends solely and fundamentally on us. We spit in their false popular cassocks, which have only betrayed people, teaching them to live on their knees and to respond to torture with nothing more than turning the other cheek, we spit on their patriarchal culture, which they have built and strengthened for thousands of years, with eras full of death, such as the case of the inquisitions and persecutions of women for allegedly being ‘witches’ and even today, when their battered power tries to enter the bodies and the sexuality of the compxs, do not come to us with proverbial stories when their crosses and their symbols have been more associated with killing and torture instead of how to live a good life.
3) Our direct threat against the Pope is due to the symbol of authority that he represents and which we reject, Francis is no holier or less sinful than any other person in existence, we reject idolatory and authority, as this is a farce from head to toe that only gains strength when people believe it, this is how the authoritarian lie works…In the end there has never been any person or any other existence capable of transcending or simply being above others. On the other hand, Bergoglio (birth name of Pope Francis), for several years has been a sponsor of abuse, torture and authority…He was part of the ‘Iron Guard’ (a right-wing Peronist group), also during the era of the dictatorship he provided false information to the military on two members of his congregation (Jesuit) who were tortured because they were supposedly providing support to the guerrillas in the slums…as if this were not enough, he was also an accomplice in the theft of babies during the dictatorship of Videla. At present, he is a strong supporter of the accomplices of pedophilia, as in the case of Bishop Barros, whom during his visit to these lands he devoted himself to defending ironically every time they asked him. We think that this bastard is a deceiver of the people, who just because he doesn’t wear an ostentatious tunic or sit on a golden throne believes that he is disguising the disgusting luxuries and shit that surrounds him, who was able to deliver his fellow comrades to the torturers, who is able to deny with a mocking smile his participation in the kidnapping and sale of little boys, and also with his rotten smile is able to hide the huge scale of pedophilia and sexual abuse that haunts his institution, is worthy of frightening with the possibility of an action against him.
4) Hopefully our actions motivate and encourage other people to position themselves in a combative manner against the clergy, capital and all forms of domination, we say to them that there are no limits when it comes to attacking authority. Conviction, dedication and reflection are great motivators when launching the attack.
There will be no one or anything that decides on our actions, nor will we let anybody impose their decisions and perspectives on our lifestyles or our bodies, we do not forget the centuries and centuries of slavery and abuses sponsored by the church, we do not buy the story of ‘humility’ when his ‘holy father’ sleeps hidden in a house of millions, we will continue attacking, maybe in the future it will not be a church, nobody knows, hopefully our actions will inspire a reflection on Catholicism and how it came to this territory…we are aiming for the liberation of nature, we carry the conviction of causing all of this garbage society to collapse, this society that day after day loots the wild beauty of the Ñuke Mapu (Mother Earth).
SOLIDARITY WITH THE FIERCE MAPUCHE RESISTANCE AGAINST THE DEVASTATION OF CAPITAL AND THE RELIGIOUS FARCE!
Kevin Garrido, Juan Flores, Tamara Sol, Joaquín García, Ignacio Muñoz, Natalia Collado, Facundo Jones Huala, Celestino Cordova, Michael Escobar, Ale Centonio, Freddy Fuentevilla, Marcelo Villaroel, Juan Aliste, Gonzalo Toro, Fernando Droguett, Maitu Garay, Tomás Montenegro and all the subversive prisoners of the world to the streets!
LIFE IS NOT ETERNAL AND YOU MORE THAN MANY KNOW THIS, A HUG OF COMPLICITY IN THE HOPE THAT WAR, TOGETHER WITH SOLIDARITY, EXTENDS WITHIN AND OUT OF THE DAMNED WALLS…
AGAINST ALL YOUR CHURCHES, JAILS AND CHAINS, WE WILL CONTINUE CONSPIRING AND ATTACKING!
Conspiracy of the Black CellsChileconspiracy of black cellsthe Popecategory: Actions
by Kyle Harris, via the Denver Westword
When I learned that the anarchist rapper Sole was having a kid, I reached out and asked if he wanted my child’s old crib. I confess: It was a ploy. I wanted to learn more of what Tim Holland was thinking these days.
He came over to the house to pick up the crib, and we spent two hours in my garden talking about music, politics, Roque Dalton’s revolutionary poetry and urban farming. My kid slid down a dirt pile, and the rapper’s dogs ran around the yard, yapping with mine.
That was the first time I had met Holland in person. I had followed his political rants on Twitter; had listened to Solecast, his anarchist podcast; had seen him perform a couple of times; and, more often, had watched him raise hell at Occupy Denver and anti-police-brutality rallies where I was reporting.
His red hair and beard stick out, as does his crusty, joyful personality. He’s quick to rev up a crowd, whether he’s on stage or at a demonstration. With more than twenty years working as an independent rapper — he came up in the ’90s underground hip-hop scene alongside the much wider-known Atmosphere and Sage Francis — Holland knows how to play to an audience’s emotions.
That garden conversation happened in the spring of 2017. Since then, Trump’s presidency has continued to rattle on, Denver’s conversations about gentrification and the displacement of artists have ramped up, and the local activist scene dominated by Queen Phoenix and her Community for Unity movement has flamed and fizzled. As for Holland, he’s stepped back from local organizing, focusing his energy on recording a new album, launching an international anarchist media project and raising his kid.
The week after the 2018 Women’s March, we’re sitting at his kitchen table. He’s waxing about his backyard pond; how his new album, Let Them Eat Sand, which he’s releasing at the Marquis Theater on February 2, takes inspiration from Godspeed You! Black Emperor and Gucci Mane; the rise of authoritarianism in U.S. politics; and the fractured Denver activist scene he says has failed to rise to the occasion and organize effectively against much of anything at all. (He’s still proud that activists shut down I-25 during an anti-Trump protest a year ago, even if it didn’t exactly stop the administration.)
As Holland tells it, there’s a ton in this broken world to fix, fight or abandon and replace. But few activists are actually accomplishing anything, and it’s not just nationally that they’re failing, he says. It’s also locally — against the developer-friendly policies of Governor John Hickenlooper, Denver Mayor Michael Hancock and Chief of Police Robert White, all of whom Holland credits for displacing working people “at a dang near genocidal rate.”
Far beyond Sole, members of Denver’s hip-hop scene have shaken up civic life in the city in recent months. Wheelchair Sports Camp MC Kalyn Heffernan has gone after Councilman Albus Brooks and Senator Cory Gardner. Rapper Ill Seven has facilitated implicit-bias workshops between cops and kids. And hip-hop promoter Ru Johnson, without ever intending to find herself in a political squabble, tweeted a photo of an Ink! Coffee sign that made light of gentrification, sparking a political conversation about economic development and the displacement of long-term Denver residents and people of color.
Over the past two years, musicians nationwide have taken to the mic with Democratic partisan jingoism (look no further than Le Tigre’s awkward “I’m With Her” for an example). Few musicians make their way through an interview without griping about Trump — whether they know anything about his policies or not. Even fewer put their music to work for concrete social change.
Amid the music scene’s political activism — and posturing — Holland is shifting his strategy from on-the-nose anarchist propaganda to literary precision. Sure, he still describes his music as “revolutionary,” but it’s poetic. He takes inspiration from the Situationists, Tiqqun and the Invisible Committee — all proponents of various stripes of high-theory, bold, militant anti-authoritarianism that challenges how everyday people relate to the capitalist economy, the state, and what Guy Debord refers to as “the society of the spectacle.”
“I’m trying to be less slogany with my shit and more poetic,” Holland says. “I feel like that’s what the moment calls for: nuance and poetry.”
One example of the kind of phrase he’s now avoiding: “Smash the state.”
“We can fight the state,” he muses. “It’s a pretty abstract thing to smash.”
Holland has a nuanced read on capitalism, a system he opposes but depends on to make a living. Since he started making music, Holland has run a stridently independent operation, touring aggressively, producing, selling and packaging his own records. In 1998, he was one of seven musicians who formed Anticon, a collectively run indie record label. He left that outfit in 2010 to build a one-man media empire, replete with music videos, recordings and the Solecast podcast. But to do so, he’s depended on capitalism: most recently, Bandcamp, a site he admires for its grassroots promise, and Patreon, a crowdsourcing site he employs to keep himself afloat in the wake of the record industry’s demise.
He has used his media projects to shine a light on environmental catastrophe and greed, and in recent months joined forces with podcasters behind Sub Media, Final Straw Radio and It’s Going Down to launch the Channel Zero Anarchist Podcast Network.
On his podcast and in songs, Holland shares an unflinchingly bleak vision of the world.
“Global warming is a done deal,” he says. The activist scene is run by cults who let “Identity Politics 101” get in the way of liberating oppressed communities, the Mile High City’s radical organizers have been priced out, and nobody has filled their shoes in holding the system accountable, he adds. By the time his kid turns eighty, he predicts, “Miami will be under water and Denver will be a desert.”
He makes raw noise-infused hip-hop about all of this. In a song he wrote about fascism and borders, he raps: “Does my unborn baby dream of barbed wire? All they’re promising is barbed wire. The future is barbed wire. It’s okay, we’ve got wire cutters — wire cutters.”
Although the world may be headed down the toilet for his kid, Holland sees a way out. “How can we build our own institutions outside of the state?” he asks.
As examples, he points to anarchist squats in Greece, the collectively run Finney Farm in Washington, and Tarnac, a medieval village turned anarchist utopian community in France that has opened its doors to Syrian refugees. He also says independent record labels model radical infrastructure — including his own experimental Black Box Tapes, which has released albums by bands like Echo Beds and Church Fire, along with his own projects.
For Holland, building infrastructure means surviving as an artist and having time for activism and his child, a vision he continues to fulfill, even as he hits forty. “I feel so blessed and lucky that I get to eke out an existence in art.”
As Holland tells it, art is a critical component in the struggle for social change, noting that many activists were drawn toward radical politics through music, whether that be through punk, hip-hop or folk songs.
He’s quick to praise Woody Guthrie and is working on a remix of the leftist folksinger’s song “Bound to Lose,” an anti-fascist anthem.
Guthrie’s political-poetic tradition is the mode to which Holland has dedicated himself, noting that “music is a real radicalizing force for people.” But art isn’t enough to survive what’s coming, he warns. “I’m a doomsday prepper at heart,” he says — and part of that means being ready for the worst, facing crises head-on and knowing how to survive.
Unlike right-wing preppers, however, Holland’s philosophy is not each-man-for-himself libertarianism. Holland wants people to engage in “collective liberation” from what he describes as “apocalyptic” capitalism.
His latest album tackles social issues. He raps about how punks and artists are “the foot soldiers of gentrification,” why he’d rather instigate revolution than be a journalist, the death of the DIY space Rhinoceropolis, the rise of fascism, and his disdain for borders.Tags: SolemusicrapsolecastMSMcategory: Other
Anarchists and protesters caused damage and chaos in Washington on the day of President Trump’s inauguration. Police responded with pepper spray to disperse the protesters. (Michael Robinson Chavez/The Washington Post)
by Jacqueline Jones, via The Washington Post
These days anarchists are all over the news, oddly positioned at both ends of the political spectrum.
Conservatives rail against members of the radical antifa (anti-fascist) movement, claiming they are violent anarchists hellbent on battling the police and destroying property, all in an effort to express their displeasure with the Trump administration. Meanwhile, Trump’s critics label him the true anarchist: They charge that, unmoored from law and custom, he indulges in childish tweets and displays a shocking level of incompetence in the Oval Office. In their view, he is a creature of the viscera, spreading chaos (anarchy) wherever he goes.
These divergent views of anarchists illustrate the problem with the label: It is imprecise and malleable, and it means whatever (usually bad) things different people want it to mean. Supposedly the one principle that unites anarchists is their opposition to government, but that statement tells us little about their actual views.
Still, is it possible that self-identified anarchists from the past can tell us something about our politics in the present? Specifically, in the quest for a just and equitable society, are political labels of all kinds not just irrelevant, but counterproductive and even divisive?
Largely forgotten today are the anarchists from America’s Gilded Age, men and women who sounded the alarm about many of the same issues that make headlines today — the widening gap between rich and poor; the critical role of labor unions in protecting workers of all kinds; the mixed blessing of technological innovation in the workplace; the corrupt influence of money on politics; and the seductive, destructive power of rapacious profit-seeking.
During the late 19th century, one woman agitator in particular attracted large, adoring crowds all over the country. She began each of her speeches with the defiant declaration, “I am an anarchist!” From the beginning of her first speaking tour (in the fall of 1886) until her death in 1942, Lucy Parsons reveled in her own notoriety, with reporters hanging on her every word and seeking her out for interviews. She told one inquisitive reporter, “I amount to nothing to the world and people care nothing for me.”
In this assertion she was wrong.
Parsons’s long and tumultuous career as orator and editor has largely been overshadowed by that of her husband Albert. They were an odd couple — she the daughter of a former slave and a white man, he a veteran of the Confederate army. They met in Waco, Tex., after the Civil War, and in 1873 moved to Chicago, where they embraced first socialism and then anarchism.
Albert gained fame for his long-winded speeches brimming with statistics documenting the dire state of the urban laboring classes. In November 1887, he and three other anarchists were hanged for their supposed role in the Haymarket Square bombing, which took the lives of seven police officers. The identity of the person who threw the bomb remains unknown to this day.
Lucy Parsons launched her own national speaking tours while Albert was in prison and again after his death. Local newspaper editors feared her influence over the masses, but gave her credit for her eloquence and passion. She was arguably the most famous African American speaker of her day, and the most popular anarchist among white urban workers (surpassing, for example, Emma Goldman, who was ambivalent toward labor unions).
In Lucy Parsons’s time, anarchists divided themselves into three ever-squabbling groups. She represented those who held that trade unions were the building blocks of the good society — small groups of men and women who would cooperate (and not compete) with each other for the good of the whole. Other self-proclaimed anarchists were radical libertarians, contemptuous of all kinds of associations, even those that were voluntary. And a third group of anarchists favored a strong workers’ state, the kind that yielded totalitarian regimes such as the Soviet Union.
Lucy Parsons fits uneasily on the right-left spectrum that is used today to label politicians and ideas. She considered the federal government inherently oppressive, but also denounced established institutions of all kinds, such as political parties, churches and reform societies. She rejected what we today call identity politics based on race or gender, arguing that her background was irrelevant to her activism.
Parsons engaged in rhetoric that was highly provocative, pushing the boundaries of First Amendment protections. Disgusted with police attacks on peaceful gatherings of workers, she urged a militant form of self-defense. “Learn the use of explosives!” she exhorted her followers.
Parsons’s life was full of contradictions. She never acknowledged she had been born a slave, claiming falsely that she was the daughter of freeborn Hispanic and Native American parents. She steadfastly ignored the plight of segregated, disfranchised and terrorized African Americans, preferring to appeal to the white urban laboring classes exclusively. She dismissed Goldman and other “free-love” anarchists as immoral, but carried on highly public, sensationalized love affairs.
In key respects Parsons seems prescient, predicting that machines would gradually erode the middle class, and that capitalism would naturally continue to foster extreme forms of inequality. She disputed the idea that either the Republicans or the Democrats could address society’s most pressing problems. She was familiar with the forces that stifled the voices of radicals, including the undercover cops who monitored her speeches and shadowed her every move — and she displayed a great deal of courage speaking out despite these forces and fiercely defending free speech.
She reminds us that dissent in American history has sprung from places outside the bounds of partisan politics, and that an ossified divide between the two parties is unlikely to produce the kind of meaningful economic and social change that most Americans so desperately want and need.
At the same time, her career provides some cautionary lessons: She and her comrades emulated European-style labor-organizing tactics, which were ill-suited to the United States then and now. For example, Parsons denigrated the right to vote, ridiculed the symbolic significance of the U.S. flag and considered social reform (in contrast to social revolution) a waste of time.
And finally, anarchists like Parsons focused exclusively on white urban factory workers, dismissing other groups — especially vulnerable African Americans and Chinese — as outside the bounds of class struggle. In today’s fractured society, with workers identifying themselves on the basis of their gender, race, ethnicity and task, we pursue such tribalistic policies at our peril.
The times demand a unified struggle among workers, not the scapegoating of one group by another — a tactic now quite familiar to us, and in fact encouraged and promoted at the highest levels of the federal government.Tags: MSMdemocracyLucy Parsonscategory: Essays
via IT'S GOING DOWN
In this episode we talk with two members of the Black Rose Anarchist Federation, a federation of anarchist collectives (referred to as locals) across the US, that formed several years ago, bringing together a variety of existing anarchist groups and organizations. Currently, members of Black Rose are involved in a variety of struggles and organizing campaigns, and in this interview we talk specifically about how their members in the Los Angeles area are mobilizing with a rapid response network that is fighting back against ICE raids.
— BlackRose RosaNegra (@BRRN_Fed) January 22, 2018
The bulk of much of the podcast however is spent discussing the recent Black Rose position paper entitled Below and Beyond Trump: Power and Counter-Power in in 2017, which is an analysis of the first year of the Trump administration and the current crisis of legitimacy the State finds itself in. As we discuss on the podcast, the massive problems generated by neoliberalism has led to this crisis and it is within this reality that the “Center will not hold;” people are moving further and further wards the political extremes. While this presents us with an opportunity, it is also our opportunity to lose if we do not organize and build.
There is mass discontent with politics as usual and US elites are fractured. We see real potential to build a revolutionary alternative.
Check out our strategy and analysis of how we see the moment and how we can change it. #PowerFromBelow
— BlackRose RosaNegra (@BRRN_Fed) December 23, 2017
Also, within the Trump moment, the DNC aligned establishment Left (non-profits, mass activist groups, NGO’s, unions, and monolithic Marxist-Leninist organizations), will attempt to push social struggle back into the ballot box, and towards a strategy of increasing retrenchment. Our guests argue that while there is increased anger at the political class and both parties, at the same time, the growth in the hope that progressive and ‘Socialist’ candidates can win elections is also breathing new life into the corpse of electorialism.
— BlackRose RosaNegra (@BRRN_Fed) January 31, 2018
With this reality of recuperation and co-optation firmly on the table, anarchists, autonomists, and anti-authoritarians must think, debate, and discuss what a long-term strategy could look like. But moreover, we must show through action and the building of relationships, that we can and will, build power from below – outside of and against the State.Black Rose FederationDonald Trumppodcastcategory: Other
via contra info
Fundraising for lawyers working on cases about police raids and arrests of anarchists and antifascists in St. Petersburg and Penza, Russia has begun. At the moment two persons in St. Petersburg and five in Penza are arrested, more are connected to the case as witnesses. Raids and repressions are likely to continue. Arrested are charged with part 2 of rticle 205.4 of russian Criminal Code (participation in terrorist organisation) at the request of court from Penza.
On January 23, on the way to Pulkovo Airport the Federal Security Service (FSB) detained Victor Filinkov. In order to get the testimony he was beaten up and tortured with electric shocks in the woods. Signs of torture were confirmed by the Filinkov’s lawyer and members of the Public Monitoring Commission (ONK) who have visited him in the pre-trial detention center. Filinkov is arrested for two months.
On January 25 the FSB came unexpectedly with a raid to Igor Shishkin’s apartment. After the raid neither his lawyer, nor members of Public Monitoring Commission were unable to find Igor for more than a day. On January 27 Igor with signs of a beating was brought to a court session where he was arrested in Pre-trial Detention Center for two months.
Journalists were not allowed to attend the hearing and evenmore two of them were arrested.
Tortures were also applied to witnesses. Ilya Kapustin was beaten up and tortured with electric shock while police demanded him to give testimony that some of his acquantances are up to “something dangerous”. Numerous
traces of the stun gun usage were recorded later by health service.
In Penza, arrests began already in October of 2017. Local FSB arrested six young persons, five of whom are currently in a pre-trial detention.
All of the arrested were brutally tortured. One may read in detail about the Penza events from this article.
Legal help is necessary for prisoners (whose number can increase) and witnesses. So far it is early to speak about the certain amount of money, but it will be at least 200 thousand rubles for work of lawyers in the next months.
Anarchist Black Cross St.Petersburg
DETAILS FOR TRANSACTIONS TO SUPPORT ARRESTED
PayPal: firstname.lastname@example.org ABC Moscow
In case you want to support a particular prisoner, add a note about that. In case you want to donate to St. Petersburg and Penza case, write a note For “St. Petersburg and Penza”. We recommend to send euros or dollars, as other currencies are automatically converted to euro according to PayPal rates.
Yandex-wallet of Anarchist Black Cross St. Petersburg 41001160378989
In case you need another option for money transfer, please contact the Anarchist Black Cross of Moscow:
Direct Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FcTLREUmxIM
This video was made one month after the disappearance of Santiago Maldonado in the hands of Gendarmería Argentina.
The lifeless body of Santiago was "found" on October 17 -78 days after his disappearance-in the Chubut River 300 meters upstream from the place where he was seen captured by Gendarmería, and in an area that had been raked in different occasions by those who carried out their search.
Facundo Jones Huala is still detained awaiting trial for extradition to Chile.
The persecution and repression of Mapuche communities in resistance continue to grow, while in the region dominated by the Chilean state the political prisoners reach thirty.
On November 25, 2017, in the territorial recovery of the Lafken Winkul Mapu community, in the vicinity of Villa Mascardi, Río Negro, Rafael Nahuel was shot dead in the back in an attempted eviction by the Argentine Naval Prefecture.
Santiago Maldonado and Rafael Nahuel live in the struggle!
Freedom to Facundo Jones Huala!
Terrorist is the State!
Este video fue realizado al cumplirse 1 mes de la desaparición de Santiago Maldonado en manos de Gendarmería.
El cuerpo sin vida de Santiago fue "encontrado" el 17 de octubre -78 días después de su desaparición- en el Río Chubut a 300 metros corriente arriba del lugar donde fue visto capturado por Gendarmería, y en una zona que había sido rastrillada en diferentes ocasiones por quienes llevaban adelante su búsqueda.
Facundo Jones Huala continúa detenido esperando el juicio por extradición a Chile.
La persecusión y represión a las comunidades mapuche en resistencia continúan creciendo, mientras que en la región dominada por el estado chileno los presos políticos alcanzan la treintena.
El día 25 de noviembre de 2017 en la recuperación territorial de la comunidad Lafken Winkul Mapu, en cercanías de Villa Mascardi, Río Negro, fue asesinado Rafael Nahuel de un balazo por la espalda en un intento de desalojo perpetrado por la Prefectura Naval Argentina.
¡Santiago Maldonado y Rafael Nahuel viven en la lucha!
¡Libertad a Facundo Jones Huala!
¡Terrorista es el Estado!
Audiovisual basado en el número 49 del boletín La Oveja Negra.
via IT'S GOING DOWN - if you can't see the audio player in this article, it's included in the link
Victoria Law, who is familiarly known as Vikki, is an anarchist activist, writer, freelance editor, photographer and mother. Law is of Chinese descent and was born and raised in Queens NY where she had her first brush with the law as an armed robber while still in high school. Her exposure to incarcerated people at Rikers Island prompted her to get involved with prison support. She has continued fighting for prison abolition, co-founding Books Through Bars NYC as a joint project between Blackout Books & Nightcrawlers Anarchist Black Cross in 1996 at the age of nineteen.
Nestor is a member of the Anarchist Black Cross and founder of the Omaha Freedom Fund. He organizes around many issues, but with a focus on prison abolition and antifascism.
Both guests join Brett in a two-part episode on different aspects of the prison abolitionist movement.
Find, Support, and contact Victoria Law through her website here: https://victorialaw.net, and follow her on twitter @LVikkiml
Learn more about, and support, the Anarchist Black Cross Federation here: http://www.abcf.net. Follow the Omaha Freedom Fund on Twitter @OmahabailTags: anarchist black crosspodcastcategory: Other
[Russian Federation] Call for a solidarity international campaign with repressed Russian anarchists from the 5th till 12th of February
via contra info
In October of 2017 in Penza six anarchists and antifascists were arrested by officers of Federal Security Service on a charge of creating a terrorist group. Moreover, in that time the period of raids in anarchists and antifascists’ houses has started all over Russia. The objects of Security Service’s attention were different people from absolutely different towns. At last, a new wave of detentions was launched in January of 2018. An antifascist Victor Filinkov was kidnapped by Security Service in Saint Petersburg. The officers of Federal Security Service have been torturing him in the forest out of the city. They told Victor to admit his participation in mythical anarchy-terrorist group. Unable to withstand the torture Filinkov was forced to incriminate himself and now he is remaining in Temporarily-staying Isolation. Filinkov’s lawyer claims that he has never seen so serious damages and trails of the torture during his practice of struggle with a police outrage.
There is another antifascist who has claimed about torture in St. Petersburg. Ilya Kapustin was also threatened by officers from FSS, but he has refused to incriminate himself and after that he was released on bail. There weren’t any proofs that anarchy-terrorist group exists in real life, only the confessions gained by the threats and torture.
Nevertheless, police is doing everything in order to force people to confirm an existence of mythical terrorist organization named “Net”, spoofed by FSS. The officers affirm that this organization has a lot of cells in every town. It means that the situation which has occurred in Saint Petersburg will be observed in the other Russian towns very soon.
Obviously, everything what’s going on in our time is an attempt to clear out an anarchist movement before the Elections of the President in 2018.
In recent years we could see how the anarchist movement increased its activity after the repressions of 2012 year. These repressions can only intimidate people and crush the anarchist movement.
In this case it’s necessary to show that we are not afraid and we can’t be destroyed by their force. Otherwise, the repressions will be used every time when the anarchist movement calls an attention of FSS. We should show them that the stronger their repressions, the more furious will be our resistance. Now it’s important to support the prisoners, to prevent the continuation of the “witch hunting” and give a global publicity for this event.
Days from the 5th till 12th of February are the days of solidarity with repressed Russian anarchists.
Arrange different street actions, evenings of solidarity, distribute information in the media and in the Internet. Do everything you can come up and implement. The only one weapon we can counter the face of the state terror is the unity and solidarity with each other. Without these two things we will be crushed by this monster one by one.
We are ready to provide the space for publication solidarity actions, just send them on email@example.com
The address for your solidarity letters:
to VIKTOR SERGEEVICH FILINKOV,
UL. SHPALERNAYA, D. 25,
191123, RUSSIAN FEDERATION
Only PAPER letters
firstname.lastname@example.org (Attention! Send with a tag “205”)
LISTEN HERE: http://archive.org/details/AnarchyRadio01302018
Last Wed.: 50 Years of 1968 at Oregon State; next weekend: BDYHAX in Austin. Oceans strongly warming as well as rising, acidifying. Shootings point toward collapse in America. Bad coral reef, light pollution news. Millennials increasingly withdrawn, stay-at-home. VR soon to include "human" touch. Devumi: fake accounts, fake users in a fake techno world. Action news.Tags: JZ and Karlanarchy radiopodcastcategory: Projects
We’ve finished the latest version of the NYC ABC “Illustrated Guide to Political Prisoners and Prisoners of War” and it’s available for viewing (and download) by clicking here. This update includes updated mini-bios, photos, and address changes for several prisoners.Tags: anarchist black crossanarchist prisonerscategory: Prisoners
As the “uberization” of the US economy continues, along with it is an ever precarious workforce struggling to make ends meet in the dog-eat-dog world of the so-called “sharing economy.” This trend is the same around the world, with Uber claiming to have more than two million drivers in over 80 counties across the globe now.
In Indonesia these conditions are little different. But radical unionists are hoping to change this and are to take back their dignity, better pay and conditions and for great control over their work and lives. Kommunitas Uber Mainstream, abbreviated KUMAN which means ‘bacteria,’was formed by three Uber motorcycle drivers in the Spring of 2017. They have since crafted a list of 14 demands, led four one-day strikes and have grown to a membership of 6,000 drivers. All but two are male in the male dominated field of drivers. KUMAN is structured horizontally with regional sections meeting regularly in parks or other available spaces to discuss strategy and in turn chose delegates to larger general meetings. The union has no dues and supports itself largely by sale of stickers and t-shirts. Drivers can become members by proving they are an active driver and answering three basic questions: 1. What’s your perspective on this group?, 2. Are you a freedom fighter or a loser? and 3. What do you know about what working with Uber is like? KUMAN works together with Persaudaraan Pekerja Anarko-Sindikalis (PPAS), the two-year old anarcho-syndicalist initiative in Indonesia and an affiliate of the International Workers Association (IWA). The majority of the union has decided to adopt the ideas and strategies of anarcho-syndicalism for their struggle, although other political tendencies exist within the union.
KUMAN is continuing to escalate the fight for justice at Uber, with more strikes and actions planned. We hope that this interview will help inspire solidarity with their cause, so that workers around the world will answer KUMAN’s next call for action and join in putting pressure on Uber. We particularly hope that other rideshare and sharing economy workers will learn from the experiences we share here and connect with KUMAN drivers to build international networks of struggle and organization.
We were excited to be able to talk with Enrique, an Uber driver from Jakarta, Indonesia who was one of the initial three founders of KUMAN. We were also joined by Ricardo, originally from Surabaya, Indonesia but now living in Melbourne, Australia. He works in retail grocery and is active with the Anarcho-Syndicalist Federation – IWA. The interview was conducted by Jesus, a Los Angeles based healthcare worker with Black Rose/Rosa Negra. The three sat down together in a cramped Hong Kong hostel room to talk about the situation of Uber drivers in Indonesia now and how anarchist ideas are being applied to build workers power among drivers in Indonesia.
Please note that for purposes of translation, clarity, and length this interview has been heavy edited.
Uber Driver Conditions in Jakarta
Jesus: Can you tell me what an ordinary day of work with Uber is like in Jakarta?
Enrique: We start driving with Uber from 5:00am until maybe 9 or 10:00pm. Just only get ten bucks, this is crazy. There’s a long day, just small money.
Jesus: So you earn on average USD $10 per day after working 14 hours. Wow. Tell me, why did you start working with Uber? What were you doing before you worked for Uber?
Enrique: I am a salesman. I have a job in a retail department store. And I’m driving Uber just to get extra money. Basically my job starts from 7:00am to 4:00pm and I start again with driving with Uber from 5:00pm until 10:00, maybe 12:00am. I have to get extra money to live in Jakarta. We need it.
Jesus: And how much money do you make driving Uber versus working at the retail store?
Enrique: Just five bucks working Uber. The retail store gives me 3.7 million Rupiah per month [equal to USD $270].
Jesus: So that’s also about $10 per day. But when you get paid by Uber then you have to spend the money on working for Uber. Your motorcycle, your gas.
Enrique: For maintenance, the gas, and the machine. Service, everything. And the radio also.
Jesus: What does Uber actually give you?
Jesus: What about your Uber motorcycle jacket?
Enrique: No, we have to pay for the jacket and the helmet. Uber still takes our money for the jacket and the helmet. And they don’t give anything, don’t give anything, don’t give anything. For the full-time Uber drivers, it’s really hard. It’s really hard.
Ricardo: You know, the cheapest you can spend, the cost per day in Jakarta, the least you can live on is like $5 or $6, that’s the cheapest. That’s the least, that’s minimum. You only maybe eat rice, eat more rice than meat. I can have one and a half rice instead of half rice with a lot of meat. And sometimes they only have for dinner five minute noodles with the rice. For me, it’s a bit funny, carb and carb together. Noodles and rice, that’s all carb in there, there’s no protein or nothing. Some of them they really only eat noodles, like five minute noodles every day.
Jesus: What are some of the other problems with Uber?
Enrique: The insurance. The policy insures you, the driver, if the driver is with the customer. So, if you are on the way to pick up the customer, and you have an accident on the way, the policy doesn’t cover you.
Jesus: And there are a lot of drivers who have accidents while not covered by Uber’s insurance?
Ricardo: Yes. Until now that gives us more than 15 drivers who have died like that. And there’s also a lot of accidents, like light accidents.
Jesus: Have you had any accidents?
Enrique: Yes, it’s like an accident, but no die, yes. I not go to the hospital, I just buy the medicine for myself. You want to see this?
Jesus: There are scars on your leg. Did you have broken bones, or you just lost skin?
Enrique: Just lost skin, just lost 2 cm of skin. I paid for myself at a clinic. And a clinic in Indonesia is sometimes not a proper clinic. When I had the accident I called the customer service and…
Jesus: The Uber customer service? Wait, why customer service? You’re not a customer.
Enrique: Yes, a customer of the app. Not an employee. And they say, oh, I’m sorry, we can’t handle your accident, because there’s no insurance policy. You’re not in customer…
Ricardo: You’re not with a customer so that’s why they don’t cover.
Jesus: To go back to the money issue, you were telling me how much an Uber driver makes per day, roughly. What’s the pay per kilometer?
Ricardo: 1,250 Rupiah per kilometer [less than 10 cents in US dollar].
Jesus: When you have a customer with you. But sometimes it can be lower, right? If there’s a promotion.For example, if Uber tells the customer, your ride is half off today, what happens?
Ricardo: I’ll explain it. If there’s a promotion, 20%, maybe the customer would pay 25,000 normally, but with 20% discount the customer only pays 20,000. So the drivers get paid from the 20,000. Not the 25,000. They pass the cost of the promotion on to the drivers. The driver should get paid 10% of that 20,000.
Jesus: You only make 10% of what the customer pays – and after the discount for promotions. And there have been times when customers get a free ride promotion, right? And then you get paid….
Enrique: Zero percent. I get nothing, I get nothing.
Organizing KUMAN, an Anarcho-Syndicalist Union
Jesus: How did you start talking together with your co-workers about challenging this, and how did you start fighting?
Enrique: We started with three people. We had been in other unions, KUMI and SUMI.
Jesus: And they kicked you out after you tried to organize a fight against Uber?
Enrique: That’s correct. I had an idea with this before this union KUMI betrayed me. I spoke with them, “Hey, it’s time to us to fight against the new slavery!” “Hi, what are you talking about? You are crazy, man.” “No, I am not crazy. What do you think we have to do? You are the fucking bastard! You are the crazy one! You don’t want to fight against the slavery.” “No, we don’t have to fight, we just follow the Quran.” “This not my Quran.” “So, get out of here!”, they talked with me like that.
And what I was thinking was, I have to take it to another of my friends. So we have to do something with this problem in Uber Motors, especially for motorcycle drivers. We started everything. What do we for the next step? So we made a group in Facebook and we started with the information about the insurance, about the wages, about anything we feel that is not correct for us. I get a group in Whatsapp and just talk about the trouble at Uber Motors. So from the three people, then we had ten people, and then 100 people, until 500, 1,000, and 6,000 members until now.
So the first action we started in May. Then July, August, and September – we had four strike actions with the same demands.
Jesus: Did you know these two other people before?
Enrique: Yes, I know these two people, it’s like, for example – “Hey guys! we got a problem, we have to solve it. We have to find the way to make a struggle, to collect other people, the Uber motor drivers. So, I have a plan, so we have to do this. Okay guys, so you have to do this and you have to do this and I will do this.” We shared about the job and what we want to do. And I do it, and we did it, and we started the struggle. And we still haven’t got a win. But we have to try!
Ricardo: Yes, it’s not easy and we still have to push people, “continue, continue”, and let more people know that Uber is not doing the right thing.
Jesus: When did the three founders of KUMAN come into contact with PPAS [Persaudaraan Pekerja Anarko-Sindikalis]?
Enrique: We, the three people, met with PPAS after the second strike. We had to learn about the strategy. My friend, he said, okay guys, maybe you want to talk with someone, with my friend. He had a friend, he was a member of PPAS. So we start about the strategy. And we start affiliation with PPAS after the second strike.
Jesus: When you say there’s an affiliation between PPAS and KUMAN, what does that mean?
Ricardo: It’s working together. PPAS is well enough educated on anarcho-syndicalism. And most of the KUMAN members, they want to have a syndicalist union. So at the moment PPAS supports them with education – What is anarcho-syndicalism? What is a syndicalist union? And they also support with “this is how to organise, this is how…” everything like that. And PPAS also wants the ASF to back them up with this. This is a really big fight for PPAS, this is really big. This is not a local company, but this is a bigger company with the biggest money with them. PPAS is small and they have to support the 6,000 KUMAN members…
Enrique: But we learn, we learn.
Jesus: Can you describe some of the education that PPAS has done? I know that PPAS has given talks and workshops for KUMAN members. Can you describe one of those?
Enrique: About how to make an organization, and how to move, it is like just for…
Ricardo: For moving from the small group into the bigger group.
Enrique: And, what we must do, for example like a struggle, a strategy, like anything. And then more importantly we have to….
Ricardo: Mission and vision. They taught them how to understand what you really want with your union. So, what is your mission. It is coming back to them – it is not from PPAS, but PPAS just makes sure that they know, if this is what you want, then this is how to do it. Something like that. So that is the PPAS strategy in how they educate, and I think they also educate on what the anarcho-syndicalist platform is.
Jesus: What does anarcho-syndicalism mean to you, Enrique?
Enrique: That there is no leadership, and for me, leadership is bullshit.
Jesus: I think you said that in KUMAN, for the union general assemblies you change who’s leading the meetings.
Enrique: We always change. Who wants to talk? Okay, he wants to talk. So we give him the time until the meeting to change with another person to make a presentation, maybe; but just that. No leadership. Leadership just makes an elite, so an elite maybe will feel that: Hey, I have you guys, you have to do this, you have to fight with this, or anything. So I don’t like it.
Jesus: Can you talk about the union’s vision, what is KUMAN’s vision?
Enrique: KUMAN’s vision is that we want drivers to be in control with management.
Ricardo: So, they want to have power to negotiate what the policy should be. That is what they want. They also have a mission to gather all the driver unions in the same side. They want to make a bigger union, and even different platform apps.
Jesus: So one union for all the different ridesharing apps?
Enrique: Yes. Like GoJek, Grab, others.
Ricardo: GoJek is the first ride sharing app in Indonesia. GoJek also has Go-Food, like for delivery.
Jesus: How is the anarcho-syndicalist model different from other forms of unions or other political positions that you might encounter in Jakarta?
Enrique: Anarcho-syndicalism, for me, means we work together, we learn together.
Ricardo: The thing that he tried to explain to me a little bit, is that there is no hierarchy in there; they are doing direct action. The difference with the other unions that we have in Indonesia is a lot of them are the… I’m not saying that they’re yellow [allied with the company], I’m more saying that they’re are fake unions. 80% of all the unions are only there to take money from the workers. They fight for their own agendas of the union leadership and they use the workers to get what they want.
Jesus: Have you ever been a member of another union?
Enrique: No. About unions, I didn’t have a basic understanding. Just learning about the situation, I guess. Learning about how to solve this problem. I have to think and I have to do, that’s just it.Starting the Fight Against Uber
Jesus: Can you tell me about the first strike? How did you decide to go on strike back in May?
Ricardo: The trigger of the strike was when Uber tried to reduce the driver bonus – when you gave 35 trips in a week you got a 350,000 Rupiah [USD $26] bonus. Then they cut to 35 trips and you get only 150,000 Rupiah [USD $10.50]. That is the trigger. After that they have found everything else, like the insurance policies. When they started, it was not with all the fourteen demands against Uber, but they started from one and they found another, and another.
Jesus: So the first demand was against the cut to the bonus system?
Ricardo: Then it was getting bigger, and they found that the policy for the insurance is no good.
Jesus: What was the first strike like?
Enrique: We made flyers, in Facebook, WhatsApp group, and Telegram. We made the flyers one week before the strike, saying at this date we will come to the hot spot.
Jesus: During the strike drivers log out of the Uber app, right? They go offline?
Enrique: They go offline, all day long.
Jesus: And then you asked people to come to the Uber offices to have a demonstration?
Enrique: Yes, right.
Ricardo: Not every driver comes, and there are usually still drivers online. It’s not everyone out for the first strike… How many people were in the first strike?
Enrique: In the first, maybe 70 to 100.
Jesus: What did you do at the demonstration?
Ricardo: They made speeches outside the Uber building. They also had banners…. And also before this there was an accident – not a bad one, like a road accident. And even the driver that got in an accident also came to the demonstration.
Enrique: Uber sent the representative of the management to find us, and we had the paper of demands so we gave it. They said, okay, we received the paper of demands and we will give it to the boss. I do not know whether she lied or not. And then outside, we yelled at the bosses: “Hey, who the fuck are you! Give me money!”
Jesus: How did that feel?
Enrique: Oh, it felt great for me. This was great for me, and now the people at the demonstration will feel better too. They have spent a long time waiting in the situation to yell at Uber about their trouble. We needed this struggle.
Jesus: After people went and confronted their bosses, did people feel more powerful?
Ricardo: They are happy after what they did with Uber management. They were angry inside, then they released that at management and then that made them happy.
Enrique: Yes, it made them happy; and after we finished the demonstration we did an evaluation to make a second strike. We have to learn, so we use the first strike. So, what do we have to do in the next strike? Some members tell me, okay guys, maybe for the next strike, we have to do this.
Jesus: Since then you have had three more one day strikes, and each time it has grown a little bit?
Ricardo: After the first strike, there’s more people and more confidence to go to do the strike. And it’s cost the drivers a lot because they’re not working when they’re on strike. And after they went on the first strike, they didn’t get anything from the Uber company. And they did it again in July and they still haven’t got their demands yet. And they did it a third time, still the same and the fourth time they, Uber company, their management, they weren’t there, so…
Jesus: Were they hiding?
Enrique: Yes, they were hiding. They were so scared with the people outside.
Ricardo: That’s the day that we also organized actions in Australia on the same day, 9 September. And also in Spain, Poland and Serbia, and Brighton, England.
Ricardo: Also, these strikes are good for KUMAN to encourage other members. Also to encourage other drivers to join KUMAN and do the next demonstration. That’s what they want. If they can get everyone in Uber to join KUMAN. That is one of their aims.
Jesus: How many Uber motorcycle drivers are there, just in Jakarta?
Ricardo: 10 thousand. It’s only 2 thousand with KUMAN in Jakarta.
Jesus: That’s a lot.
Ricardo: Yes, but if they strike there’s still 8 thousand left, and maybe from the 2 thousand, there will still not be 100% who will go.
Jesus: You’ve organized the union, you’ve started working with PPAS, you’ve had four strikes, you have organized, you’ve grown. What’s the situation now?
Ricardo: They want to create a group with the drivers from other rideshare apps with other companies. That’s kind of really difficult – not really difficult; it’s kind of tricky. If we get this bigger thing, they already have unions in the other companies.
Jesus: What have those unions at the other rideshare apps done? Have they also had strikes?
Ricardo: No, they haven’t got any strikes yet, but we believe that they may.
Jesus: Do they have a union contract?
Ricardo: No. This union is only inside the company, it’s not an affiliate of other unions.
Jesus: This is just a small union, like an independent, informal group of workers?
Ricardo: Yes. GoJek is now reducing all their wages. GoJek used to be 2,500 Rupiah per kilometer [18 cents USD$], now it is 1,600 per kilometer [11 cents USD$]. It’s a really big drop, and also the other, Grab, has dropped. They believe that they, the other two companies, will match up with Uber.
Jesus: Which also means that if the Uber drivers win and get raises, then it’s good for everyone.
Ricardo: Yeah, it’s good for everyone. So that’s what KUMAN wants. They also want to stop the other companies. If the other groups join with KUMAN, the other two companies will be aware that they can’t cut their rate again. But if KUMAN focuses on that thing, in the collaboration with the other group, they also have to see the inside of their own home, which is a lot of debates inside KUMAN. The situation is that they have inside KUMAN different tendencies.
Jesus: Can you explain some of the different ideas or tendencies within KUMAN workers? Because KUMAN started from three people, but now it’s grown to be big. As it grows, there are different kinds of people with different ideas who come and join.
Ricardo: One of the biggest problems is with a fascist group inside….
Jesus: So there are nationalists?
Ricardo: Yes, nationalists. Sri Bintang Pamungkas – that’s the leader of the group. And there’s also what we call in Indonesia a political broker. Say that you are a part of the Clinton side of the party, and then you come to me and say – or you’re from the fascist group, national assembly – and you try to break us up. You came with a lot of money and said, guys, let’s work with me and we will do all the demonstrations against the government, as the government is not good. You give the money as an incentive, like we have in Indonesia. There are a lot of people like that who work for the parties.
Jesus: They work for one of the main political parties?
Ricardo: They work for the opposition party, the one that is not governing.
Jesus: They’re trying to buy supporters and use them against their political opponents, and trying to get the union to be part of a political party.
Ricardo: Yes. They say, let’s come with me and then I’ll give you money. And if someone can get more than ten people with them, he will get more money. Then there are also the people that are still scared of communism and they think that anarchism is a part of communism.
Ricardo: That’s also something else that PPAS and KUMAN need to work on.
Jesus: You’re trying to do a lot of education and tell people that anarchism has nothing to do with communism?
Ricardo: Yes, you don’t have to be a communist to be an anarchist. But I am a communist, so….
Jesus: Well, that’s maybe a subtlety of terminology that can be discussed later on once people have a different understanding of what communism is. Can you just briefly say what happened in 1965, and why people have this fear of communism?
Ricardo: Yes, we used to have the president Sukarno. He is the one that fought and said no to the United States. He always said no to the CIA, and he had good relations with Eastern Europe, with Russia, the Czechs.… There was a rumor that seven army generals were going to make a coup against the president.
Jesus: So the generals were assassinated, and it is unclear exactly what happened, but after that the communists were blamed.
Ricardo: After that day, after the 1 October, I don’t believe it, but General Suharto had a signed paper that he said Sukarno gave him, a commandment to lead the country. We believe that Suharto had a gun to Sukarno’s head and made Sukarno give him this.
Suharto took power with force after the assassinations of the generals. Since that day, he started to bring down everything that had to do with communism. He blamed the killing of the generals on the communists. At the time the Indonesian communist party was one of the biggest parties in Indonesia, so he just chopped down everything and he killed a lot of people.
Jesus: Something like 650,000 people were killed, and then the people who did the killing are still in power, more or less?
Jesus: And so that’s why people don’t like the word communist, which now causes trouble for KUMAN? Because people now associate anything revolutionary, anything anti-capitalist – they associate that with this period and the people who Suharto said tried to destabilise the country, who had to be massacred
Enrique: Yes. And this is the challenge for KUMAN; to explain syndicalism is this, and communism is this. This is a big challenge inside KUMAN, I think.
Jesus: Okay, last thoughts? What’s next for the struggle?
Enrique: I guess it will be same demands, but a different strategy. I guess I don’t need a lot of people for the next strike; I just need maybe 50 to make chaos. This is the strategy, that we made with all the regions’ delegates from the union.
Jesus: This is what people decided to do after the evaluation of the last strike? Now people think: okay, we need to have more impact. And cause trouble.
Enrique: Yes, more impact, and we will be seen more.
Ricardo: They have to do it with really good preparation; otherwise it’s going to be the same again.
Jesus: And you’re hoping for international support for your struggle. What can people do?
Ricardo: Just do a picket. It doesn’t have to be a demonstration, but like for them to show us banners in front of the Uber management, saying that this is solidarity for the KUMAN drivers in Indonesia.
Jesus: And if you’re an Uber driver then you should organize a union and join KUMAN, International.
Enrique: KUMAN, USA.Tags: IndonesiaAnarcho-Syndicalismubercategory: International
Czech Republic : New text of anarchist Lukáš Borl , How long will last the exploitation of prisoners by the police and courts?
If there’s somebody forced to work for somebody else under the threat of violence, it’s something that we usually call enslavement or exploitation. However, if Czech police and courts use this practice, they call it differently: preparation of the convicted for their jobs and helping the state. There’s no point in arguing about appropriate words, where it’s obvious that the state institutions are committing organized crime on the prisoners. The point is to make these crimes stop.
To make clear what crimes I’m talking about, I’ll first give the word to the officials of Všehrdy prison. On the prison website they write:
With the end of the year approaching, we would like to inform our fellow citizens about the fact, that the prisoners from Všehrdy prison have participated in recovery of the property of different state and municipal institutions in our region during the whole year completely free of charge, in the form of the so-called extramural working activities. …(…)… They, for example, painted the administrative building of shooting range for the Police of Czech Republic, fixed the terrain around the shooting range, removed the invasive trees, repaired and built new target equipment and pruned trees around the driveway. They facilitated moving of the police school and moving and assembling the furniture for the Police of Teplice. And, like in the last year, they painted the area of the District court in Chomutov and moved the furniture.
They taught us in school that slavery was abolished. However, when we look at the conditions of imprisoned people, we can see that slavery only changed its face. The prisoners from Všehrdy may not be a trading commodity like the slaves in the past. But they are still subjected to violent enslavement. They are forced to work hard without any claims for wage and somebody else profits from their work. They are punished if they refuse to work in that conditions. And they are also held behind the walls in iron chains by their slavers. And their enslavement is also hypocritically advocated by talking about that they offended the morals of Christian civilization by their living, and so it’s right to treat them this way.
Everybody who is not blind must clearly see, that resistance against slave practices must not stop, until all prisons and institutions, which have their interest in preserving them, are abolished.anarchist prisonerCzech republicLukáš Borlcategory: International
via the DSA Libertarian Socialist Caucus
National Electoral Committee has created a document to guide DSA electoral strategy, LSC has built an Addendum that addresses holes in the document and centers the creation of bottom up libertarian municipalism through community organizing and building direct participatory democracy. This document will be given to NPC members to consider adding to the NEC document this weekend. If it is not adopted, we will revisit it and build our own electoral document off of it.
"Electoral strategy should focus on and follow from building local power through community organized institutions”Summary
- Socialist electoral politics must prioritize direct, participatory democracy and encourage existing local neighborhood institutions to democratize or build new institutions where needed.
- These institutions can exercise a dual power, contesting the power of the capitalist State while simultaneously generating local, accountable leadership that can become candidates for local office with a solid base of support.
- Existing institutions such as block associations have large material impacts on the everyday lives of Americans. Successful socialist movements are built block-by-block, neighborhood-by-neighborhood, and are intimately tied to the communities they are organizing.
- Transferring power to the local community should be a top priority for a DSA local.
National Electoral Committee should recognize the residential community as the primary political-economic unit from which electoral power should be built and developed. From this basis, electoral campaigns should grow from the organized power of local communities. Socialist electoral politics should empower communities to pursue direct participatory democracy, with a particular focus on empowering the most marginalized. Concurrently a medium and long term strategy of devolving existing State power to these participatory grassroots institutions must be pursued.
Where suitable local institutions exist, such as block associations, tenants unions, homeowner associations (HOA’s), neighborhood clubs, assemblies, and town halls, efforts should be concentrated on helping to transform them into participatory democratic institutions. Where they do not exist, the goal should be for DSA members to create such institutions in the communities where they themselves live. Bringing this about will be different for each DSA local, depending on the highly variable needs and material conditions of each local context.
This organizing model aims to build dual power, that is, an oppositional power base rooted in local, radically democratic institutions that are an expression of the self-governance of communities. Genuine dual power can be built only through the direct, engaged participation of the local community in these institutions. These institutional community structures can generate candidates out of their own base who will be accountable to the communities they represent and open further space and create infrastructure for their further empowerment. To the extent that engaging in formal electoral politics is deemed necessary, those campaigns and the candidates are put forward to make structural changes and implement non-reformist reforms that reinforce the power of working-class communities.
Our grounding example is the block association as it currently exists in most American cities. Block associations regularly organize community events, discuss infrastructure concerns, and even deal with security problems at the local level. In choosing this model, we want to redefine electoral work to incorporate the most local level of governance, which is often overlooked but has a substantial material impact on the lives of almost all Americans. The basis of all successful socialist and labor parties in the history of the 20th century was built block-by-block by neighborhood organizers who intimately knew the communities in which they lived. This model involves organizing within the community and listening to the needs and aspirations of its constituents while stitching together a political unit by building solidarity between individuals. The electoral strategy proposed here can re-establish these structures either by transforming present community institutions into participatory and democratic ones or by creating them where they don’t yet exist.
Radically democratic community institutions networked in a democratic confederalist model to steadily supplant capitalist State institutions can become the governing bodies of the new, socialist society. Such a movement has the capacity for radically reshaping the political terrain of the United States to advance the goals of democratic socialism. Through confederation, organized communities can extend their power into challenging higher levels of political authority with accountable socialist candidates.
This organizing process builds the base that brings its own momentum for the broader national electoral strategy and supplanting the capitalist State. The DSA local, serving as a center for organizing and networking between community institutions, facilitates each residential community in building dual power, and runs electoral campaigns when appropriate that are accountable to the communities which socialist politicians claim to represent.
Devolving power to the local community should be a top priority for a DSA local. Ultimately, the DSA electoral strategy should build toward socialist political campaigns which are staffed and run wholly by local, participatory institutions in which the DSA local is embedded. This all being said, until dual power is built that is capable of such a feat, local electoral working groups must recognize that DSA’s endorsement of Bernie Sanders’ national campaign opened the organization to a flood of newly radicalized people who have since become socialist organizers. This historical shift should shape DSA’s endorsement process to recognize and center the potential propaganda value of any candidate running for state or national level office.
Legislating the reforms necessary for empowerment of local communities through direct democracy should be top priority when drafting platforms and legislative priorities. Examples of such legislation should include but are not limited to ballot initiative reform, participatory budgeting, instituting direct voter recall of elected officials, HOA reform, supporting unions, expanding worker ownership and control, land trusts, addressing local ecological concerns, police accountability, and prison abolition initiatives. Any endorsed candidate should thus be committed to building, growing, and supporting these priorities.