In 2005, when the rulers of the eight most powerful countries in the world gathered in Scotland, capitalism seemed invincible and eternal. Most protesters limited themselves to begging the G8 to be nicer to the nations on the receiving end of colonialism and imperialist wars. Yet a few thousand anarchists, recognizing how short-lived “the end of history” would be, set out on a seemingly suicidal mission to blockade the summit and demonstrate what sort of resistance it would take to create another world. Today, as the 2017 G20 Summit in Hamburg approaches, we publish this retrospective to keep the adventures and lessons of 2005 alive as part of the contemporary heritage of the international anarchist movement.
The 2005 protests took place years after the heyday of anti-summit protesting—after the triumphant victory over the WTO in Seattle in 1999 and the courageous struggles against the IMF in Prague in 2000 and the FTAA in Quebec and the G8 in Genoa in 2001. Yet the mobilization in Scotland showed that it was still possible to challenge the rulers of the world on their home turf. Anarchists confronted the forces of the world’s eight most powerful nations right outside their gala gathering—shutting down highways, tearing down fences, and almost preventing their meeting altogether. The attacks that fundamentalist bombers carried out in London the same week looked cowardly in comparison.
Unfortunately, in the popular imagination, the suicide bombings that killed 52 people in London during the summit overshadowed the more ambitious and life-affirming counter-summit demonstrations. Whether they serve an existing government or seek to create one, the violence of those who pursue fundamentalist and nationalist projects is intended to close the field to any real alternatives, promoting a “clash of civilizations” in place of a struggle against oppression. The powers that be are much better situated when they can point to rival powers that pose an equal or greater threat to their citizens. Together, the state repression, grassroots resistance, and fundamentalist terrorism of that week in 2005 foreshadowed the ugly situation we find ourselves in today.
Police preparing to attack the “Carnival for Full Enjoyment” in Edinburgh on July 4, ahead of the summit in Gleneagles.
Britain was the nation in which industrial capitalism first took root, and accordingly it has often been ahead of its time in the art of protest. The British anti-roads movement of the early 1990s was a harbinger of the “anti-globalisation” movement in Europe and the US, featuring a wild and eclectic focus on direct action and cultural resistance in contrast to the notoriously boring politics of the institutional Left. The model was moved with much success into the cities in the form of Reclaim the Streets, capitalizing on the fact that in Britain hordes of ravers would show up just about anywhere for a good party. Within a few years, people in cities from Brisbane to Bratislava were reclaiming the streets. Coinciding with the G8 Summit in Cologne, the Global Day of Action against Capitalism on June 18, 1999 paralysed the financial centre of London, prefiguring the shutting down of the WTO in Seattle a few months later.
But every boom has a backlash, and as Britain’s turn came to host the G8 in 2005, things looked grim. The last successful anti-capitalist mobilizations had taken place years before, and though anarchists had participated in protests against the war in Iraq, many were convinced that mass mobilisations were no longer an effective means of resistance. Early meetings to discuss the G8 summit consisted of arguments about whether a truly anti-authoritarian mobilization was even theoretically possible.
Despite this malaise, the anti-capitalist network Dissent! came together nearly two years before the summit to mobilize resistance. Composed of collectives from throughout the UK, Dissent! was intended to be inclusive and accessible, though the lack of solid press relations sometimes enabled the mainstream media to portray them as secretive and sinister.1 Hashing out a plan also proved difficult: a centrally organized attack on the summit à la Quebec or Genoa seemed suicidal, and many in Dissent! feared the possible repercussions of organizing illegal activity, but decentralized protest models without central coordination had proved utterly ineffectual. The large reformist coalitions were organizing their protests a great distance from the summit, several days before it even began, so they could not be counted on to offer any opportunities. Eventually, a strategy developed based on the model that had been applied at the G8 protests in Evian in 2003: autonomous groups would blockade the routes leading to Gleneagles—the rural hotel at which the summit was to take place—shutting out the delegates, staff, and media. To this end, a campsite—the “Eco-village,” designed to be a working model of a sustainable community—was secured within hiking distance of these roads.
Organizers solicited international participation via meetings in Germany, Spain, and Greece, and little stickers appeared everywhere announcing the upcoming protests. Under this pressure, the Socialist Workers’ Party, attempting to prevent the defection of more militant protesters to Dissent!, announced that their front group G8 Alternatives would host a peaceful march to the fence surrounding the summit regardless of whether or not they were granted a permit. Two days before the G8 summit began, the streets of nearby Edinburgh were transformed by an anarchist carnival that ended, characteristically, in clashes between angry locals and police. The stage was set for something to happen.
“Must we stress once again that the G8 is here to safeguard your freedom?” Police attacking the Carnival for Full Enjoyment in Edinburgh.
The Suicide March: An Anonymous Firsthand Account
Originally published immediately afterwards as “This Is How We Do It: An Anarchist Account of the G8 Actions”
From the beginning there was no well-thought-out master plan for shutting down the G8 Summit at Gleneagles. In fact, some of us even dubbed the march we were about to embark on “The Suicide March.” At three in the morning, a large group of militants dressed in black slipped into the darkness of the night as the first rain of many days dumped down on them. The air was thick with the eerie presence of a thousand determined individuals beginning to walk along the deathly still road. Besides the occasional attempt at a chant, the group was quiet, perhaps reconsidering the slim probability of success. Five miles and a heavy police presence stretched before us and our only destination in sight: Motorway 9 (M9). This motorway was one of the crucial motorways that delegates and support staff to the G8 Summit expected to travel down in a few hours.
Wednesday, July 6th was determined to be the day of blockading the G8 by calls to action from People’s Global Action (PGA), the same loose network that had called for the day of action against the WTO six years previous. The idea of blockading was ratified at the five-hundred-person international anarchist assembly in the ancient halls of our convergence space at Edinburgh University on Sunday. The next day, a street party called the “Carnival for Full Enjoyment” (as opposed to full employment) took to the streets of wealthy downtown Edinburgh in order to protest wage slavery and the G8. Any doubts about the no-compromise nature of the militants who had converged here in southern Scotland dissipated rapidly in downtown Edinburgh on Monday when police attempted to stop the Carnival of Full Enjoyment only to be met by quick-moving breakaway marches and a front line that refused to be intimidated. And this was only the beginning, a taste of what was to come.
We left Edinburgh for Stirling, Scotland. Our destination was the “Hori-zone”, the Eco-village set-up as the point of strategic coordination, encampment, and support for the vast network of anarchists and other activists who had come to Scotland in order to halt the Group of Eight (G8) summit meeting on its opening day in Gleneagles. The camp was organized by Dissent!—an international anti-authoritarian network of resistance against the G8. The small town of Stirling is practically equidistant from Glasgow, Edinburgh and Gleneagles, and historically has been the major crossroads upon which all battles for control of Scotland had been fought. Gleneagles, a ridiculously luxurious golf course and hotel, became the heavily fortified home to the G8 meetings—but it has very limited facilities. Most of the delegates and support staff for the G8 were staying in Glasgow and Edinburgh, the two major cities in Scotland.
Since Stirling is nestled between these three cities, the Eco-village provided the perfect location for launching the rolling blockades against the G8 on Wednesday, especially along the crucial M9, the motorway that eventually reaches the front door of the Gleneagles hotel itself. The Wallace monument stood silently against the gentle skyline on a hill above the Eco-village as we prepared to blockade a total of thirty miles of highway. Built in 1869, this two-hundred-and-twenty-foot monument is said to be where the legendary Scottish rebel William Wallace observed the English coming across Stirling Bridge in 1297 before descending into a fierce battle with them. One cannot help but notice the parallel between the ancient anti-colonial battles of Scotland and the battle against the G8 that was waged in the rolling green hills of Scotland last week.
At the Eco-village, we were assembled at the very last minute to determine how we were actually going to blockade the G8. As the deadline for the action came closer and closer, it was decided that the initiative to carry out the blockades should be left to autonomous affinity groups and each departed to find their own route to the motorway and blockade it by whatever tactics they chose. A major factor in this decision was the unfortunate location of the Eco-village. The campsite was surrounded by Forth River with only one exit leading out, which could be easily sealed off by police. To avoid such an entrapment, affinity groups began leaving the site around twelve hours ahead of time to situate themselves in the forests or small suburbs along the motorways that fed Gleneagles from all sides, allowing them to spring into action as the delegates arrived in the morning.
While groups were streaming out of the site, about two hundred people were meeting to determine whether or not to have a large mass march leaving the camp, and if so, how it would be organized. This is how the suicide march came about.
“Suicide” was not a word chosen hastily. How could it be possible for such a group to actually make it to the distant M9, the major highway connecting Glasgow and Edinburgh to Gleneagles, before being stopped and contained by a ten thousand strong police force assigned to the protests? Even if the march had failed, it would provide a crucial cover for the clandestine groups to launch their siege on the various junctions of the motorways. The group decided against all odds that the risk was worth it, and the march would begin shortly. At two am, it finally felt like it was on.
The march leaving from the Eco-village in the early morning was an international contingent with some of its members coming from the UK, Spain, Germany, Ireland, France, Denmark, Italy, Switzerland, Turkey, and the United States. Morale was high as the rain poured down steadily, but little did we know that this thousand-strong militant group would have to battle through five police lines to reach its destination. The determination of the anarchists was heavy, and as we swelled in numbers a group of about eight with thick pieces of wood around seven feet long moved to the front with the purpose of clearing the way for the march to proceed. One group, clad in shields made from trashcan lids and foam padding taped onto their clothes, bore an ironic banner declaring “Peace and Love.”
Footage following the Suicide March through the early morning of July 6.
The police force mobilized from around the UK to protect the G8 summit was completely incompetent. Poorly assembled police lines were sometimes composed of front line officers who, instead of arriving in riot gear, came wearing fluorescent yellow jackets to face protesters. The police were armed often only with batons and tried their best not to use them. Perhaps this was a de-escalating tactic, considering the police seemed to be primarily set on avoiding violent engagement with protesters and instead sought to simply contain them and apply their infuriating “Section 60” order that allowed them to stop and search any suspects for weapons. Had this been any other G8 country, many of the plans implemented on the Day of the Blockades, especially the Suicide March, would not have accomplished their goals.
The quickly moving group had proceeded without interruption for fifteen minutes when the Scottish police finally got their act together and moved a line of cops into the group’s path. This happened at a roundabout surrounded on all sides by car dealerships, though at this point the group was not distracted by damaging corporate property. We had set our eyes on the prize: to disrupt the roads leading up to G8 Summit. The determination was there, but there was no backup plan. After a quick assessment of the situation, it was decided that the line of police was too deep to take on, and the group began moving back in the direction it came from to find another way on to M9.
Retreating in order to find another path to the M9 meant building barricades on the way. We found a big pile of palates in a nearby construction site and piled them into the street. During the somewhat chaotic process of finding another road leading to the highway, the crowd stumbled upon a suburban mall area that included a branch of the Bank of Scotland and franchises of Burger King, Pizza Hut, and Enterprise Car Rental. Some members wanted to keep on moving and not be distracted by the corporate property, but the rage against the corporations could barely be contained, and windows were smashed and walls were spray-painted with slogans.
When the bloc left the corporate oasis, we found a sign to a road leading to the M9 and the march surged. A couple of trolleys [shopping carts] were taken from the shopping district and were filled with fist-sized rocks from the sides of the road, the perfect ammunition for the class war. A German comrade with a bicycle was among the group and able to ride ahead as our scout and alert the rest of us of intersections and police movement. He came back and told us of a police line forming in our path. A few people moved into the field on the left to outwit the police. The rest decided that this was the moment it was necessary to throw down.
The police line was weak and did not have any riot gear apart from their shields. Those with big sticks moved to the front lines and the militants behind picked up stones from the shopping cart. We marched right up to the lines and began smashing through with stones and sticks. The police were not prepared for such determination, and after thirty seconds they scurried away. When their retreat was obvious, I heard a thick German accent scream “DEESS ISS HOW VE DO IT!”
The road was wide open as we marched the long distances from one roundabout to the next, following the road signs to M9. We came across four people wrapped in trashbags, who peeked their heads out from the side of the road in amazement at the march passing by. They were part of the hundreds who had left early to hide among the trees, completely drenched by the continual rainfall.
Our crew included a significant number of locals who were eager to represent their own culture of resistance. One middle-aged Scottish member of the group from Glasgow carried a bodhran, the traditional Celtic drum historically used in battles and parades. Another Scottish youth had a didgeridoo that was blown at crucial moments of battle to build up the energy. In the face of such a crowd, it looked as though the police had given up.
We made it the onramp to M9. This was it: victory. After trekking five miles in the rain and through police lines, there was only 70 feet between us and the highway. But these things are never so easy. Scores of police vans appeared from around the corner and unloaded hundreds of riot police. It seemed to be too much to take on, and we moved back. This time, the police seemed as determined as we were and brought another line of riot police to our only exit.
There was one option left: to battle our way out. The restocked trolleys rolled to the front and stones began raining down onto the police, thumping against their shields to the steady battle beat of the bodhran. In one of the most creative use of local resources to create weaponry, even the shrubbery was turned upon the police. This area of Scotland is known for a poisonous plant called Hogwart that has a flower that causes huge welts and blisters when touched. At one point, the bloke from Glasgow grabbed one of these plants from the stalk and beat the police with its flower. After five minutes, the police lines were pushed back fifty feet and a small path leading into a suburban residential area was revealed to one side. As we walked down the path into suburbia, there were only 250 people remaining. Most of the initial crowd had separated at various police lines to disappear into fields or return to camp. Though we were few, we had demonstrated our determination.
Participants in the Suicide March clash with police, damage an unmarked police car, and barricade the streets on the morning of the 2005 G8 summit.
A woman in a white bathrobe walked out of her house baffled at the march going by her community at 4 am. The police would later report that damage was done to people’s homes, cars, and satellite dishes. However, the only property damaged was corporate and police property and the police eventually had to retract their statement. In fact, the woman in the white bathrobe was friendly and she waved at us. We even asked her for directions towards the M9 and she showed us the way.
We had been thrown off our original route and now had to find a new way to the motorway. The police had mobilized a much larger force and were coming toward us from multiple intersections. As we rambled through the unfamiliar suburban streets, police would appear from one side, retreat under the force of the bloc, and appear again from a new direction. The sun, which only sets for about four hours between midnight and 4 am in Scotland during summertime, was now peeking over the horizon. We were wet, cornered, and lost. Another resident of the area stopped while passing in his pickup and pointed us toward the highway. His directions weren’t the most conventional: “Go down that road and climb down the valley, across the fields, through the trees and that is where the motorway is.” We had come this far, there was no way we were going to turn back, even if it meant hiking through the fields.
Standing on the edge of the hill, next to a golf course, one could see the trucks travelling on the highway far away. We quickly referred to a topographical map, concerned that there might have been a big drop to the side of the highway that couldn’t be climbed. It looked doable. Those remaining of the international anti-capitalist black bloc, tired from hours of breaching police lines and soaked to the bone, began a Viet-Cong-style journey towards the motorway we had to blockade to prevent the G8 from meeting.
In a moment of bizarre humor, one of the Scottish blokes among us was understandably concerned about marching on the golf course and warned the rest of us: “Don’t Walk on the Green!” I turned back to observe how many of us were left at this moment and was confronted with the surreal scene of hundreds of comrades dressed in black hiking single file through the luscious green landscape of Scotland. Seeing us there, hours and miles later and still on the move, I realized that most likely the Scottish rebels fighting the English had also passed through these fields centuries ago.
We continued on like this, passing through scenes of another history, through a golf course, three different cattle pastures, and knee-high grass as we walked towards a quickly approaching future of our own. Under a pale blue sky, we finally reached the motorway. We were the first group to make it onto the highway, but definitely not the last. At that moment, the rain stopped.
Delirious from walking and drunken with success, we all began to assemble anything and everything we could find on the side of the road—tree trunks, rocks, branches. It was 6 am and both directions on M9 were blockaded.
Blockading the roads; Seattle’s Infernal Noise Brigade on the march.
Walking back to the campsite later, we passed the residents of Stirling trying to go to work on the backed up roads. The reactions we got were varied but clearly split into two different groups. People who were in personal vehicles were upset at the delay and called us many things, most notably “Bastards!” Those who were in busses and vans and could be identified as construction or roadside workers by their bright yellow vests were fully supportive. We were greeted by raised fists, cheering, and others shouting “Power to the People!” out their windows.
We returned to the Eco-village. At the entrance to the camp, there were two permanent flags strung high to identify the political nature of the inhabitants—the red and black flag of social anarchism and the rebel skull and crossbones of piracy. Inside was a vast space of camps, organized by either the geographic origin of the inhabitants (e.g., the Irish “barrio”) or by clusters of affinity groups working together (e.g, the Clandestine Insurrectionary Rebel Clown Army—CIRCA). A central corridor was lined with different activist support tents, eight different kitchens, medical services, an independent media center, trauma support, action trainings, and huge tents for the periodic spokescouncil meetings taking place. Beyond this central corridor was a multi-colored sea of hundreds of personal tents. Many of the tents had one version or another of black and red flags with the anarchist circle A flying above. We had arrived home.
The Eco-village was buzzing with activity. The intricate communications network that had been set up was functioning in full force. Bicycle scouts who were situated at major cities where delegates were staying, along the side of the highways and at major junctions, were providing up-to-date information on motorcade movements and alerting the affinity groups hiding along the highway when and where to strike. An informational tent at the entrance had a detailed tactical map with a large scale, providing breaking news on the different blockades of the summit. As the day progressed, one note after another appeared on the map marking the points of the blockades:
7:00 AM - Spanish Block on M9, 7 arrested
8:00 AM - 4 Protesters with ropes dangling off a bridge on M9
12 PM - Group of 50 including CIRCA and the Kid Bloc having picnic on the Motorway with massive amounts of riot cops looking confused
All railroads leading north have been halted by activists locking themselves to the tracks.
This was only the beginning. The notes continued appearing throughout the day: a bicycle contingent took over A9 at 4:00 PM, the Belgian and Dutch Bloc locked down on Kincardine bridge at 4:20 PM, and so on.
The Eco-village was the epicenter of brilliant tactical coordination. This was a result of months of reconnaissance work and a chaotic yet functional plan of blockading that provided both fluidity and agility. As soon as a report would come in that one blockade was breaking or being threatened by the police, the transportation team would have vehicles ready to take people to the location and reinforce the blockade. The BBC Scotland radio station was reporting that all roads leading north to Gleneagles were backed up with no traffic passing through. Naturally, they did not mention the reason for this, and tried to hide the successful blockades behind a regular traffic update.
Coordinating from the Eco-village.
Everyone at the campsite was ecstatic and it felt like it was time to start upping the ante, which meant taking on the perimeter fence around the G8 summit. The legal march scheduled for the afternoon by the G8 Alternatives, who were often controlled by the Socialist Workers Party, had been called off by the police due to the disruption caused on the transportation system of Scotland. To their credit, the organizers decided to move forward and go ahead with the march at Auchterarder, the town nearest to Gleneagles Hotel.
Now that the stakes were raised, vans from the Eco-village began to head straight to Auchterarder rather than to reinforce the blockades. Two hours later, the news of the perimeter fence being breached at two different points reached the camp. Anarchists and Scottish socialists were tearing apart the fence and throwing pieces of it at the riot squad police. Some groups entered the G8 Summit area and were confronted by Chinook helicopters unloading hundreds of riot police equipped with dogs. At 12:30 in the afternoon, it appeared that the eight most powerful men in the world were still unable to begin their meeting in Gleneagles.
There are many lessons to be learned from the victories won at this most recent mass action of the young anti-capitalist movement. Tactically, having decentralized actions coordinated within the same infrastructure, all given the targeted locations in the same area, was an incredible strength for activists attempting to disrupt the summit. Previous mass mobilizations have failed when calls were made for affinity groups to do autonomous direct action without a strategic frame in which to act. On the night of July 5th and into the early hours of the 6th, groups in Scotland were able to scatter themselves along a geographical network of points. Working together to assess need for numbers and actions, people dispatched themselves between a multitude of different motorways and byways surrounding Gleneagles and around hotels in Edinburgh. There were threats to blockade not only the roads around Gleneagles but the roads out of the major cities of Edinburgh and Glasgow. This meant the police forces were stretched thin, having to be at Glasgow, Edinburgh, Sterling, and Gleneagles at the same time. The state was forced to provide dozens of officers to contain each small group of activists, and as affinity group after affinity group spontaneously hit the transportation corridor, the police simply could not maintain their own coordination or mass their numbers. The suicide march, which went on for miles over before reaching the highway, was a strong challenge to state control and proved to be impossible to contain even with the strongest police effort.
According to friends inside of the summit, the blockades were a throbbing migraine for the G8 and it took some delegates up to seven hours to get to Gleneagles. Suffocating their critical control with a continual barrage of activity and exhausting police numbers by using quick-moving affinity groups to the best possible advantage are tactics that allows us to call the shots on our own terms, whether it be Gleneagles, Buenos Aires, or La Paz. The rabble-rousing group behind the blockades was extremely international in character and the links formed are going to be a major pain for global capital for the years to come. As if the international anarchist force wasn’t enough, it was reported that while Bush was riding his bicycle at Gleneagles he ran into a police officer, sending him to the hospital.
September 11th reminds most of the world of New York and some of us of Santiago. There was another September 11th more then 700 years ago. On September 11th, 1297, William Wallace observed the English coming into impose their enclosure of the Scottish land. This was the day of The Battle of Stirling Bridge, where the 60,000-person English army suffered a terrible defeat at the hands of the Scottish who numbered around 10,000. The English sent two messengers to Wallace to ask for his surrender. Wallace’s reply was similar to that was given to the G8 on Wednesday by the street fighters in Stirling:
“Return to thy friends and tell them we come here with no peaceful intent, but ready for battle, determined to avenge our wrongs and to set our country free. Let thy masters come and attack us; we are ready to meet them beard to beard.”
A helicopter monitoring protesters as they approach the security perimeter.
Following Up with the Locals
In the evening of July 6, others in the camp went to a meeting with local activists. The people they met were community workers who all lived locally and would have been broadly against G8 activity. They expected hostility, but didn’t find it. It was decided that the residents of Stirling would be invited to dinner in the camp on Friday, July 8, and that some of from the camp would join the community organizers at their weekly stall downtown.
Those present from the camp wanted to find out if they could donate money to people who had had the windows of their homes broken. The residents said that besides newspaper reports, they hadn’t met anybody who knew anyone to whom this had actually happened.
Out of everyone involved in the black bloc action, it wasn’t possible to find anyone who saw damage done to private houses. One participant said that he saw an unmarked police car being trashed. Perhaps some within the press assumed this car to be owned by local inhabitants.
[a post on the Scottish Indymedia website:]
You’ve got to hand it to them…
…some good has been done.
Thanks to the anti-world brigade, we have all been told we can leave work early.
I back the protesters, more protesting please…
Can you protest next Monday? I would like the day off, I have a dentist appointment.
In Muthill, near Crieff, a small village that had never been discussed openly as a site for protest, five people locked themselves together, blocking traffic. Thinking themselves safe, the American delegates to the G8 had located in Crieff; they had to spend hours waiting for the police to disassemble the complex blockade. Another blockade composed of a car with lock-ons inside and underneath hit the small road southeast of Gleneagles at the village of Yetts o’ Muckhart. Because the police had to spend so much time getting the Crieff blockade dismantled, this one was up most of the day. In case the delegates were re-routed around the A9, another large blockade hit the exit from Perth, and two smaller ones were set up southwest of it. The train tracks to Gleneagles were disabled by means of a compressor, with tires ablaze on both sides as a warning. The hotel was completely surrounded by blockades for most of the morning. The Canadian delegates never even made it to Gleneagles.
The original plan was to coordinate these blockades with disruption at the hotels where delegates were staying in Edinburgh and Glasgow, but this was less successful. Presumably going on the primarily urban character of recent anti-summit activity, the police had guessed that the most trouble would take place in these cities, and assembled much of their forces there. All the same, a few protesters managed to carry out their plans. Some went to the Sheraton Hotel where the Japanese G8 delegates were staying, and while hordes of police officers prevented any mass action, affinity groups blocked the road by throwing a bin into the street as the delegates climbed on a bus. Then, as delegates left the hotel with the help of the police and made their way north to the giant steel bridge connecting Edinburgh to central Scotland, anarchists blocked the road by crashing two cars into each other in a literally death-defying action.
After the initial wave of blockades, many activists remained near the routes to Gleneagles, establishing further blockades on an impromptu basis. Whenever police showed up, they dispersed into the surrounding fields, only to reassemble as soon as the coast was clear. This helped keep the roads impassable for much of the day.
The format used to shut down traffic to the G8 summit resembled the model used to paralyze San Francisco on the first day of the invasion of Iraq in 2003. Such decentralized tactics proved to be extremely effective when coordinated by a common infrastructure. Even against a vastly more powerful opposing force, small groups can gain the upper hand so long as they are highly mobile and well-coordinated and are able to muster numbers equivalent to those of their opponents at the critical points of engagement. The lack of a central directing body means that even if one group is immobilized, the others can carry on just as effectively, as the strategic framework for actions has already been established.
After blockading, many went to join the G8 Alternatives march to the fence surrounding Gleneagles. Using the disruption of traffic as an excuse, the police had announced that they would not permit the march to take place; but, to their credit, the organizers threatened to march on the US embassy in Edinburgh if the original march route was denied, and the police grudgingly let them go ahead. As soon as the march came within view of the Gleneagles hotel, a great many participants, not at all invested in the socialist organizers’ call for a submissive, law-abiding march, surged across the fence and charged forward. The police lines were not sufficient to stave off this incursion, and hundreds more riot cops had to be flown in by means of Chinook helicopters before the field could be secured again. An eyewitness from the Infernal Noise Brigade reports:
The grass was tall and deep green and I was keeping myself between the band and these lines of mounted riot police. I was doing tactical and so not carrying an instrument; as the horses approached, they were so incredibly tall, their legs buried in the barley. I could smell them, and they smelled like normal horses, but they had these beasts on their backs driving them forward, threatening us by turning them so we were in range of their back hooves. The sky was gigantic and held low-flying military vehicles, stark against the blue, and the fields stretched on forever in every direction, the horizon cut by the outlines of all these people in their battle outfits, their flags of peace or war, their cameras and clown costumes. It was terrifying, beautiful, and epic.
Police mobilizing in the field to guard Gleneagles.
Resistance in an Age of Terror
Under the cover of darkness early the following day, the police finally fulfilled everyone’s fears by blockading the camp. The more insurrectionary anarchists argued that the police blockade around the Eco-village had to be broken so activists could continue the successes of the previous day. With the police so obviously weak and the fence easily toppled, they believed one more coordinated action could shut down the summit. More pacifist elements felt that any attempt to fight through the police lines, especially now that the police would not be caught off guard as they had been the previous morning, would be a disaster; but they couldn’t propose another way to deal with the blockade.
Before discussions about the next few days of action could really commence, however, the news arrived that there had been a terrorist attack in London. It hit everyone like a physical punch in the stomach; the whole meeting came to an eerie standstill. The net effect was complete paralysis. The energy left the Eco-village, and people eventually began leaving in small groups, making their way meekly through the police checkpoint.
The bombings enabled the G8 leaders to cement their image as the defenders of Western civilization from barbaric extremists. Never mind that it was these same leaders who had moved the entire police force of London north to repress protesters instead of guarding the civilians who were killed. Never mind that it was the policies of these leaders that provoked terrorists to target British civilians in the first place. Indeed, like the destruction of the World Trade Center in 2001, the London bombing was so effective in enabling the G8 leaders to consolidate their power that one can’t help but wonder if such attacks might figure in their strategy for world domination. Could it be that these heads of state are banking on the inevitable reprisals that their activities provoke to keep their citizens in line?
The fact that the G8 protests were eclipsed by the attack in London shows that anarchists have some catching up to do to be able to act effectively in the current historical context. The successes of these protests disprove the cowardly superstition that militant demonstrations are impossible under the conditions of today’s terror war. The problem is not that resistance is impossible, it is that our resistance, however tactically effective, will not be able to attract mass participation until people see that their rulers pose as great a threat to them as the terrorists they claim to be keeping at bay.
As long as people can only imagine politics as a choice between authoritarian rulers, they will always choose the more familiar ones; we have to show that it is not necessary to submit to rule of any kind, that in fact submission to authoritarian power brings us into greater danger than opposition to it does. Every time we freeze up in the face of a terrorist attack, fearing we will appear insensitive or insane if we continue our resistance, we cede the political field to the mind-numbing spectacle of one authoritarian force versus another. We need to craft a strategy for resistance that takes into account the strategies of fundamentalist terrorists as well as the tyranny of our rulers.
We could begin by focusing on holding powers such as the G8 responsible for the attacks they bring about. It is their imperialism and exploitation, their wars for power and control, that put the rest of us in harm’s way, anyway, whether as soldiers in occupying armies or as civilian targets. Most of the protesters in Scotland focused on economic issues, such as third world debt and the erosion of social welfare programs and job security; perhaps if more anarchists had explicitly stated that they were there to stop the rulers of the world before those rulers get us all killed, their efforts would have retained their relevance and persuasiveness after the bombings, possibly even serving as a catalyst for a broader public outcry. The rage people feel about being targeted by terrorist attacks is one of the most powerful forces in the political climate today; if we could turn this against those who currently benefit from it, anarchists would quickly gain the upper hand in our struggle against state power.
Banners hang at the Eco-village after the attacks in London.
The Dissent! media policy succeeded in preventing the rise of media spokespeople—but, in the words of one frustrated activist, “When no one speaks to the media, the police just end up speaking for us!” When one of our goals is to reach and involve a lot of people, we must either establish our own means of reaching them, or else find ways to use the media to our own ends. Mass mobilizations offer an opportunity for anarchist alternatives to seize the popular imagination; we can’t afford to be outdone by reformists, or to underdo things ourselves. ↩
From Mask Magazine
Frank Lopez aka “The Stimulator” has been making explosive anarchist videos since the early 2000s. Together with his collective subMedia.TV, he recently launched the new documentary show Trouble.
“Greetings troublemakers, welcome to Trouble. My name is not important.”
Trouble is an apt name for subMedia’s new documentary show. If there’s one thing that defines the ethos of the North America-based video production collective, it’s trouble. Committed to fighting racism, capitalism, and the state, their fourth episode “No Justice… Just Us” was released last Sunday and covers ongoing organizing against state repression and prisons.
SubMedia.TV is best known for their flagship project, It’s The End of The World As We Know It And I Feel Fine, which concluded its ten-year run with a final episode last December. The entire show is still available on their website sub.media and provides the most entertaining if not the most thorough historical account of radical struggle for its time period. It is over a decade’s worth of US and world news told from an anarchist perspective: global warming and its deniers, the oil industry’s cozy relationship with politics, global summits and protests, suburban sprawl and financial crises, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the ongoing war against poor people of color in the US. Dense montages, underground hip hop videos, and a hilarious range of DIY tips: from powering your car with veggie oil to masking up with a t-shirt. No sports, but all the riot porn you could dream of.
Many people only recognize subMedia and its productions once you mention The Stimulator – the animated host whose jokes, frequent cursing and deep voice set the tone. It’s no secret that the man behind those rectangular, asynchronously blinking eyes and mouth is Frank Lopez.
Even though Frank Lopez frequently represents subMedia in public, he chose to be photographed wearing a mask together with his partner Heatscore. This may seem strange; what’s the point of hiding when your name is already out there? The answer is in the opening line: “My name is not important.” Today, anonymity is often seen as a means to protect the individual. But historically, obscuring identities has been used as a tool to form unity and solidarity within movements of struggle. If you know me, you know my name. If you don’t, it’s not important. When political motives of the group are set before individual ones, it makes sense to introduce yourself first as group, then as parts.
Frank Lopez was born in Puerto Rico, and moved to the US for college. He started subMedia in 1994, but the current iteration of the project dates back to the early 2000s when he “discovered [he was] an anarchist.” Between 2003 and 2005, he made his first anarchist films Join the Resistance, Fall in Love, and Why I Love Shoplifting from Big Corporations, both based on the CrimethInc. book Days of War, Nights of Love. As “The Stimulator,” Lopez covered every major uprising from the Bush years till Trump.
Lopez currently resides in Montreal, where he moved four years ago “because it has the largest anarchist community in North America.” Lopez visited New York recently, and I went to meet him in Midtown Manhattan, where he’d just finished speaking on a panel at the Radical Film Network Conference. He had only two hours before he was scheduled to screen one of his films at a movie theater in the East Village, so we jumped in a cab and started talking.
How did you get into film making?
When I was in high school, my dad started an all-news TV station in Puerto Rico. My school had a closed-circuit television system, where we advertised school dances and other events. I was allowed to use the equipment at my father’s TV station, so me and my friends started making little commercials for school events. After the production was done, we’d go to the TV station and I would just sit and edit for hours. I absolutely loved it. That’s when I decided to go to film school and learn this shit. I’ve been making films since then.
Why did you decide to end your show It’s The End of The World As We Know It And I Feel Fine?
Personally, I got burnt out on the show. I’ve been doing the show for ten years. I don’t know if you’ve ever done something for that long but after sometime you start going, Is this the last show? Didn’t we already do this? Everything starts to blur together. Most of the time we were doing it twice a month, and coming up with funny shit is challenging to do all the time.
We also noticed that more and more people were watching videos like ours by themselves, often on their cellphones. To a very tiny scale, we felt like we were part of contributing to that by creating super short videos.
You recently launched the new documentary show Trouble, through which you distribute a 30-minute documentary each month. “Troublemakers” can subscribe at $10 a month and receive a copy in advance to organize screenings, and others can view it online for free a few days later. How did you come up with the idea?
Between 2010 and 2012 I went on tour and did 150 screenings with a feature film that I made, and I saw how useful community screenings are, especially in smaller cities, in terms of connecting people with radical ideas. We wanted to do something that facilitated people meeting each other in this way. We also wanted to make it really easy for people to put together these events. Bringing a speaker to a community costs money, you have to fly them in, provide accommodations… But with a screening, you download a film, you get a projector, and gather people at a space. There’s always a projector somewhere. There’s always a space that you can use.
We are asking people to donate $10 a month to get the video a few days in advance. Once that Sunday arrives, anyone can download it and screen it. We provide people with a downloadable poster that they can modify. We also give people sample questions to kickstart discussion after the film screening as well as other resources: links to other films, zines and further reading. We decided to make the film 30 minutes because we felt that in community spaces, usually the seats are very uncomfortable, so that’s a suitable length. You show something, then maybe talk for an hour, then people then mill around – that’s a two hour event.
It seems subMedia has adapted to changing technology very quickly with every shift, and now you’re going back to physical screenings and using it to bring people together in a more intimate, old-school setting. Do you see it as a kind of counter-reaction to the direction technology is headed?
For sure, and we’re scared to death. We’re essentially slaves to Facebook. The majority of our traffic comes from shared links on Facebook. Google and Twitter are very distant second and third. We see that. On Facebook, 30-minute videos don’t get a lot of play. But we’re also finding that more and more people are watching documentaries, be it at a screening or online by themselves. There seems to be a longer shelf life in terms of how it traverses the internet and different social networks.
Who are the people in subMedia?
My partner Heatscore and I are really the only members of the collective per say, if two people can make a collective. We have a number of volunteers and people who apprentice under us. Some volunteers have been with us for a long time and help us here and there when they have time, they mostly track down appropriate footage for different segments. It can be a gargantuan task, especially since the style that we’ve adopted is total visual saturation, and we don’t like talking heads.
Other volunteers come to our work spaces – Heatscore and I live in separate cities – and help us edit video, log interviews, and so on. We try to teach them every single facet of what we do in the hopes that, if we eventually get more money, we can pay them to keep doing it. We’d like to include more people in the collective who get paid.
What else would you like to do if you had more money?
A really big part of what we did with the Stimulator show was to recontextualize things happening in other parts of the world that people don’t pay attention to, and bring them to a North American audience as well as a European audience. Now that we aren’t doing that show anymore, we’ve found that there’s a void. I’m really missing out on a lot of stuff from Asia and other parts of the world. We’d like to keep those struggles alive, tell people it’s not just North America, it’s not just Trump and similar things we’re inundated with news about.
Last month we produced our second episode of Trouble, which is all about the rise of the new right in North America and in Europe. When doing research for that we went down this rabbit hole of far right media, and what we found was extremely troubling. They have a tremendous amount of reach, much more than radical media outlets. Their productions are slick, and they are reacting to things as they happen. It’s unfortunate but we can’t ignore it. I think we have the knowhow to react to that, but we need a larger team of people. We’d like to raise a larger amount of money and hire people to help us out.
How do you feel about anarchist organizing today?
I think the work that anarchists have been doing in the last decade has proven extremely valuable, and I think a lot of people are seeing their various infrastructure projects pay off, be that info shops, media initiatives, or support work for migrants. Also, when this motherfucker got elected and people started knocking on all of our doors, it’s a testament that we have good politics and good instincts. Now there’s a lot of interest, especially because people are so disenchanted with the democratic party.
The night after Trump got elected, people acted autonomously. I know anarchists were involved in a lot of those things, but let’s be real, a lot of those people weren’t anarchists. They were angry democrats as well. I think those people are looking for a different way of doing thins. I feel really happy that anarchists didn’t just drop the ball during the Obama years when things were quiet. I mean there was Occupy, Black Lives Matter … For people who’ve followed politics for a while, you’ll remember how the Bush years were and how engaged people were, and during Democratic administrations things seem to wane. But anarchists kept doing what they do because obviously we don’t believe in the two-party system. I think that’s a good thing.
The thing that worries me is that anarchists need to be friendlier, need to provide spaces that are more welcoming. I’m not saying that all spaces need to be like that. We don’t let people into subMedia just like that, we don’t have the door open like, “Hey, come on in,” there’s security considerations. But in all my years of being an anarchist, I have found spaces not to be particularly friendly, somewhat standoffish, a general unwillingness to meet people where they are at.
The thing that really convinced me to take an anarchist path in my life was the patience of two good comrades. We spent long nights talking about stuff, breaking down my ideas about pacifism, reform, or supporting third party candidates. I just don’t see enough of that happening. People need to invest time in talking to people, and not just shit on their ideas because they find them stupid or naive or whatever. The time other people invested in me paid off because I’ll be a lifelong anarchist involved in struggle. I credit these two people for that. If we did more of that, we’d have more people who stick around. They won’t necessarily become anarchists but at least they’ll resist with us. I see people going to anarchist spaces and afterwards asking themselves, Why the fuck do I want to be in this place? Why would I want to be with people who don’t like me or are unfriendly to me?
The second episode of Trouble, “Bash the Fash,” covered the history of anti-fascist organizing and the significance of fighting nazis in the street. Some of the people who were interviewed also talked about the importance of longer-term organizing as preventative work, and the importance of organizing the working class before the alt-right does. Do you agree with that?
Beating up fascists is extremely important to do, we can’t let them take the street. In Quebec right now, the right is rising, it’s been able to take the streets twice in Montreal and none of us are happy about that. They need to be shut down completely. But yes, that’s only one facet of the resistance. In general, we need to think really, really long term, even ten years is too short of a long view. Like I said, anarchists have done a lot of work building infrastructure. But I think not enough work has been done to connect with the working class, at least not in North America, at least as far as the projects that I’m aware of. It’s really unsexy work. An info shop can be cool, social spaces are cool, making videos is cool. I think it’s hugely important. I’m really inspired to see that the IWW as a radical union mostly lead by anarchists has gotten a new life, including in Montreal.
Something that comes up in your work is the idea of realism. The need to be realistic. Sometimes you’ve used it to critique obsession with a single issue. Other times you’ve brought it up to critique people who aren’t doing anything, to say, we have to be realistic about how crazy shit’s going to be, it’s unrealistic to do nothing. What does realism, reality mean to you?
To me, being realistic has to do with lived experience and understanding the broader context. Take indigenous people for example, who have much less resources than any of us, and are the most criminalized, abused, and oppressed population, at least in Canada. When you look at the systematic brutalization and genocide of this people, their affinity for their territory is unbelievable. They’re so connected with what it really means to protect nature, in a way that most of us will never understand. The things they do to protect territory should give us more privileged nonwhites and privileged white folks an idea of what’s real. And so, when we complain about how we can’t stop that pipeline, we just have to look at examples of people who did it, who had both much less and much more to lose than us. What they’ve been able to create.
Independent radical media often presents itself as giving a truer version of what is going on in the world. After Trump won, a lot of liberal media started lamenting that truth doesn’t matter anymore. How do you think about ‘truth’ at subMedia?
Truth matters. It doesn’t matter what Trump says, truth matters. Sometimes we get facts wrong and if we don’t own up to the fact that we fucked up, we loose credibility. If people think you’re full of shit, they are not going to go back to support you or listen to you or share your stuff.
At the same time, there’s no objectivity. I’ve heard more conversations about objectivity from liberal media this year than ever before. They are obviously scared of Trump and they are basically saying, let’s not be objective anymore, the gloves are off. I’m like, hooray, but this is what they do already, it’s what we do. We strive for the truth, but the fact is, you focus the camera there and not over here, that creates a different truth and focus. You’re always going to focus on the point of view that you want to amplify.
For instance, I defend riot porn. The earliest war coverage I remember that really stuck with me was the first Iraq war in 1991. It was the first war that was fully on television. For the mainstream media, that was the truth, that was the right angle. They were not saying, “We’re pro this war,” but their language was basically applauding George Bush. Meanwhile, I don’t see the media treating anarchist movements in a fair way, ever. It’s always been viewed through the lens of property destruction. It doesn’t matter that George Bush destroyed the property of so many people. That’s not property destruction, war is never described as violent. Even though actual people die. I don’t know of any examples in recent memory of anarchists killing anybody. And so for me, it’s just flipping the script and saying, here’s us winning in the street. Here’s this corporation that does so much damage to the environment, women, minorities, getting smashed. Here’s this police car, this oppressive institution, getting burnt.
A lot of the time I use the same footage as mainstream media; I just recontextualize it. But in a way I’m not doing anything particularly radical, I’m doing exactly the same as the mainstream media, I’m just re-contextualizing and redirecting it to a different audience. I feel really comfortable in that role. I want to put the info out there that, holy shit, these young warriors in New Brunswick burned six cop cars, and nobody snitched! That shit is awesome. It’s also empowering and uplifting. Especially when all the media that you see is against you.
What does your day-to-day media diet look like?
It’s increasingly hard for me to find time to read. I read It’s Going Down every day. I can’t say enough good things about that website. I also read the CrimethInc. website. I have an extremely busy life, so a lot of how I consume media is through podcasts while I’m doing the dishes or other duties. Podcasts are the fucking cat’s pajamas. I also like audiobooks, because I can listen to them while doing other things. To be honest, I think many people who work in documentary film would say the same thing – let’s face it, we deal with a lot of shitty subject matter, so at the end of the day I really don’t want to deal with reality. I’m like the rest of America, I watch TV series, I consume a lot of science fiction and other things that are somewhat escapist.
I wonder how you feel about the increasing power of Silicon Valley under this new administration. Many things that left-of-center or leftist groups have been championing over the last several decades are now lower on the list of the government’s priorities than before – environmental issues, public health, renewable energy, social welfare, and so on. But while the Trump Administration is turning away from these issues, tech companies are stepping in. It doesn’t seem all that unlikely that Silicon Valley starts providing something like universal basic income or transforms the energy industry before the government does.
All the global warming and UBI initiatives aside, I think they’re extremely dangerous – how they have their hands on the spigots of the information flow, and the amount of power concentrated in the hands of a few rich people in California. The promise of the internet came from a very libertarian view, but some elements were anarchic – that the internet was going to be a place where information can flow freely without hindrance. We’re finding more and more that that promise is very close to coming to an end.
I don’t know how to fight it. Our hope is always that we can own the infrastructure that carries our films to the public and that our website will always live there. But the reality is that less and less people come to the website, more and more consume them through social media platforms. I’m open to ideas for how to break from that, ‘cause in the end, the wires don’t belong to us, the large companies that control the algorithms don’t belong to us, right now we have to use them. It’s a really shitty situation to be in.
We have a lot of comrades who work in the tech sector and I hope they don’t get bought out completely, that they instead spend time doing the good work of trying to figure out ways to break from the online media monopolies. Back in the 90s the slogan of Indymedia was, be the media. Don’t just hate the corporate media, be the media. We took that call seriously. But being the media in this new reality means we are the media inside of these fiefdoms that are very feudalistic, and we’re once again fighting this battle. The next big battle for us to fight is to how to make information be free. I know it sounds trite but it’s something that’s needed.
If the slogan that inspired you was to ‘be the media,’ what guiding words do you want to pass on to the next generation of radicals?
To me it never seemed possible that I would be working fulltime making anarchist videos that glorify people throwing molotov cocktails and setting cop cars on fire. But here I am, I’m doing it. Obviously it’s almost a joke, but I think that the system makes us think that a lot of things aren’t possible, that we have to use the most travelled path to reach our goals. I’m not saying people should take inspiration from me specifically, but take inspiration from people who create projects that completely fall outside of those well traveled paths. Understand that hard work and believing in yourself and what you’re doing can work. You can actually do things that make you happy and fulfilled. I’ve had jobs in my life, not many, but I’ve had bosses, and I was never happy in those. Right now I wake up every day with an eagerness to get to work. I would love to be able to bottle that and give it to people. I want you to feel what I feel when I sit down at my desk, I’m fucking happy to do it.
From Void Network
Live from Athens, cultural activist Tasos Sagris from Void Network discusses with Chuck Mertz from the radio program THIS IS HELL (U.S.A.) the political and social work of anarchists in austerity-era Greece – to provide support and mutual aid to the victims of capitalism and war, to defend the people from fascist and state violence, and to build and occupy the framework for a new, horizontal society, against capital, and for each other.
“We can imagine a horizontal and happy future for everybody – but we cannot impose this on society. The society has to come towards us, talk about it, prepare the revolution and manifest the revolution, as a society, not as an anarchist political organization. The society will do the revolution, not the anarchists. The anarchists will be there to offer their power and bodies to this struggle, but society has to decide: do we want totalitarianism, or do we want anarchy? There is no other question at this time.”
Tasos Sagris and Void Network were featured in the New York Times article Anarchists Fill Services Void Left by Faltering Greek Governance.
Helping Refugees Means Fighting the State. And Vice-Versa.
Understand that this is not a struggle that we do for the refugees but with the refugees. The refugees can take care of themselves, and they can self-organize. If we help them and if the society around them is beneficial and helpful to them, then they can establish their own horizontal assemblies and create free spaces.
Chuck Mertz: Anarchists are providing services in Greece now that the government is not, due to austerity. Let me repeat that: anarchists are doing what government cannot in Greece, and that is provide the necessary services to survive. So what is happening in Greece and why? And what is the New York Timesgetting so wrong about anarchism and Greece?
Here to tell us, Tasos Sagris is a member of Void Network, a poet, a theater director, and for 28 years has been an anarchist cultural activist. Welcome to This is Hell!, Tasos.
Tasos Sagris: Hello, hello.
CM: How much is there an organized group right now within Greece of non-state actors not only providing the services one would expect from the government, but also the social guidance usually provided by the government? How much are the non-state anarchists defining what Greece is today?
TS: We could say that this is part of a struggle that has been going for decades now in Greece from anarchists. Of course, me personally, I cannot speak as a representative of the anarchist movement, because the anarchist movement is very pluralistic. It includes many, many initiatives and many groups. I can speak only from my own perspective.
Greek society faces austerity measures; the poverty of the people and unemployment is becoming worse and worse. At the same time we have had a great influx of refugees from different places, they were in war and now are in other countries. Of course the natural instinct among anarchists on this phenomenon is to help these people, and to work with them for a better life. We can’t say that we replace the state. The fight against the state continues and intensifies, also through the paradigm of our help and solidarity towards the refugees.
Anarchists defend areas, neighborhoods, and social centers, the occupied buildings of the movement. Anarchists also created refugee squats, occupied the buildings where refugees can have their own assemblies and practice their self-organization with the help and solidarity of anarchists and autonomous people, also far-left people. All these people can fight together for a better future.
CM: One of the amazing things I learned through doing research about Void Network and about anarchism in Greece is that this apparatus for helping out the poor and the people who had been affected by austerity had been put into place, and then when the refugee crisis came about, that same system was ready to help out the refugees who were in a very scary position.
How much are refugees right now dependent upon the anarchists to provide them with the services that they so desperately need?
TS: The state calls it the refugee crisis; it is just an effort of people to escape from the war and try to come into Europe. Anarchists established camps on Lesvos island and on the other islands where the refugees were coming. Anarchists established welcome centers on the islands. Then anarchists created an open camp in the central park of Athens, where the refugees were passing through on their way to the north in Greece, to the border, on their way to Europe. There were anarchists in the welcome centers in the beginning; there were anarchists in Athens; there were anarchists in Thessaloniki, in the north of Greece; and there were anarchists at the borders. So we created a network of people who welcome and help the refugees to continue their way to Europe.
When the borders closed, of course we had to create spaces in the big cities to accommodate and shelter the people, to self-organize. Understand that this is not a project or a struggle that we do for the refugees butwith the refugees. The refugees can take care of themselves, and they can self-organize. If we help them and if the society around them is beneficial and helpful to them, then they can establish their own horizontal assemblies and create free spaces. The only reason that the anarchists are around is to defend the neighborhood from the police and the Nazis, and from other possible problems that they cannot bear alone. It is a mutual help. It is the real practice of mutual aid.
When winter came, they opened the first big squat in Exarcheia, on Notara Street, very near the park. Then other refugees were coming more and more, so the anarchists opened more and more buildings around Exarcheia square. Now there are around ten to fifteen buildings. Some of them are for accommodation areas; there is a building for kids; there is a community health clinic in the square that the refugees are using also. There is also a specific squat for men who are without family or without children, who stay alone in order to avoid problems with the families. So this network of buildings, they help each other and they coordinate their defense and everyday life.
In a society of inequality and exploitation, the organizing methods of anarchists look almost irrational. When you speak for horizontality, this doesn’t sound like “organizing.” The horizontal way of organizing among anarchists seems non-organized. But anarchist tools of organizing are becoming more and more popular all around the world.
CM: But all the actions that the anarchists have been taking, and the social services that they have been providing within Greece, as you pointed out earlier, date back to 1990. So this is not only in response to the current government, nor is this only in response to austerity, which is something that has just been imposed recently upon Greece.
So does it matter who is in government, or the policies that they implement, when it comes to anarchism and its social movement in Greece?
TS: As we have been saying for many years now: whoever is governing, we will be ungovernable. We continue a long struggle to try to communicate with society and to offer society the analysis that capitalism and the state destroy their lives. This is taking place with two different strategies. One strategy is attacks on the police and attacks on the state and capital: big demonstrations, public visibility, and of course riots and fights with the police. When there is political power that can confront and defend places, neighborhoods and social centers, then you can build social services from an anarchist perspective. As long as you do not have consistency of struggle and consistency of fighting the police in the city, then you cannot defend the public spaces, you cannot defend the squats.
It is crucial to understand that the effort that the comrades make and the risks that the comrades take to fight with the police in the city, in the streets, gives the anarchist movement the power to defend social centers and to defend occupied buildings. In these occupied buildings, we create revolutionary relations. We create horizontal assemblies where we put the revolution into practice. It’s in the streets and against the police, and against the state and against capitalism, that we fight the world as it is now. But inside the occupied spaces, inside the social centers, in the neighborhood assemblies, in the assemblies of the social centers, we have the existential experience of the revolution, of the anarchist society as we dream it to be.
So it is not that we wait for the future, for the anarchist society to appear. We create the conditions of the existential experience of the anarchist society now, and the social centers are open to everybody, to share this existential experience with us. So this is an experiment of the revolutionary anarchist society here and now, and this creates more power for the struggles in the streets and the fight against the police.
CM: When I saw the New York Times article back on May 27, headlined “Anarchists fill services void left by faltering Greek governance,” by Niki Kitsantonis, I was reminded of our conversation a couple years ago with Christos Giovanopoulos, of Solidarity for All, another activist group in Greece that is trying to provide social services for those who need them. Mr. Kitsantonis starts his story on anarchists providing services in light of austerity with this line: “It may seem paradoxical, but Greece’s anarchists are organizing like never before.”
What does it say to you about the author’s understanding of anarchism when he sees anarchism and organizing as paradoxical? And how are anarchism and organizing not necessarily contradictory?
TS: The thing is, in the eighties, the anarchists in Greece were seen by the public as more unorganized than they seem now. In every country, when the movement is young and new, and also small, it seems more antisocial because it seems much more against the common beliefs around anarchism. As the years go by, and more people come into the movement, and there are people who are older in the movement, and people from many different social backgrounds, from different workplaces, from different universities and schools, from different races or from different sides of life, the people also get a deeper analysis and more consistency.
In this way, you succeed in explaining directly to society more and more what the anarchists believe. Now in our times, after the struggle against austerity measures that included the participation of anarchists, and the analysis that anarchists offered to society through pamphlets, through postering—millions and millions of posters all around Greece, in each neighborhood—explaining the reasons for austerity measures, explaining to people why capitalism and the state destroys their lives…now society has an easier time understanding there is a lot of organizing behind all of these efforts.
Of course anarchists organize attacks against the state and capitalism. Anarchists use the methodologies of defense in the streets. Molotovs are the main tool of defense against the police, because it keeps the police away. When the police know that inside the big social demonstrations there are anarchists carrying molotovs, they cannot do whatever they want to the people.
When the movement is small and young and it’s just the beginning, the movement isn’t able to overpower the ability of the media to describe you as they want to. So in a way, the New York Times tried to offer this ‘paradoxical’ comment as the way that they want to describe the anarchist movement in America. The anarchist movement in America, though, as a historical movement, offered a lot of inspiration to us over the decades, from the First of May in Chicago up to today—the American movement is very inspirational to Greece. Even, of course, the struggle of the Black Panthers. The social services programs of the Black Panthers is something very influential to the anarchist movement in Greece. There were many, many activists listening to this paradigm and taking inspiration from it.
The New York Times is just trying to play with the popular idea about anarchists, that they are disorganized. But we have to understand that the anarchists are very, very organized. Still, in a pyramidical society, in a society of inequality and exploitation, the organizing methods of anarchists look almost irrational. In a society based on inequality, in an economy based on inequality, when you speak for horizontality, this doesn’t sound like “organizing.” When you have chiefs and bosses and prime ministers and all these hierarchies in society, the horizontal way of organizing among anarchists seems non-organized. But anarchists have their own tools of organizing: horizontality and solidarity.
We think very, very seriously that these tools, these methodologies, are becoming more and more popular all around the world, and they are becoming more and more logical all around the world. Because people are still really terrified by what governments do to their lives. So for sure they come to the point that they have to self-organize, and the only way to self-organize is the anarchist way to self-organize, the horizontal way.
CM: Here’s Kitsantonis writing in the New York Times again. He says, “Since the late 1970s and early 1980s, anarchists have joined leftist groups in occupying portions of Greek universities to promote their thinking and lifestyle. Many of those occupied spaces exist today, and some are used as bases by anarchists to fashion the crude firebombs hurled at police during street protests.”
How much are anarchists involved in firebomb-making? Because it seems to be something that the New York Times wants to make certain we know: that a big part of anarchist strategy in Greece is violence. How integral is violence to the anarchist cause within Greece?
TS: Of course I have to explain that because of the history of struggles in Greece, we don’t have this debate about violence and nonviolence. Greek society in the last hundred years, we’ve had four or five revolutions, and four or five civil wars. Violence and nonviolence is of course debated; liberals try to impose the conversation in the mainstream media, but in the general society, the violence and nonviolence debate is not very crucial.
To explain more: of course anarchists organize attacks against the state and capitalism. Anarchists are using the methodologies of defense in the streets. Molotovs are the main tool of defense against the police, because it keeps the police away. When the police know that inside the big social demonstrations there are anarchists carrying molotovs, they cannot come closer and do whatever they want to the people. This means that the use of molotovs produces distance between the people and the police. It also offers to all the normal people the opportunity to escape, to run away when the police attacks the people. The police uses unbelievable amounts of very strong tear gas against demonstrations in Greece.
On the other hand, we have to understand that the mainstream media will try to use the violence on the side of anarchists as something that brings them outside the movement or brings them outside of the society. In the same moment, the society that has the experience of all these austerity measures, and also the experience of the lack of power to reply to all these measures, they see they benefited from the attacks of the anarchists against the police, because the police cannot do whatever they want in the city.
Of course, they can use massive militant power and kill us all. Or they can throw tons of teargas and produce asphyxiation in thousands of people, thousands of demonstrators. How much are they going to do this? How many are they going to kill? Somehow, the refusal of the anarchists and of Greek society to appear like pacifists puts the state in its place. It sends a message to the state that you cannot kill us all. We are here to fight.
Society has to come towards us, talk about it, prepare the revolution, and manifest the revolution as a society, not as an anarchist political organization. Society will do the revolution, not anarchists. Anarchists will be there to help and offer their power and offer their bodies for the struggle. But society has to decide: do we want totalitarianism or do we want anarchism?
CM: You’re quoted in the New York Times article saying, “People trust us because we don’t use the people as customers or voters. Every failure of the system proves the idea of the anarchists to be true.”
What’s wrong with voting? Is anarchism anti-voting? And does that make them anti-democracy?
TS: Democracy is a very big conversation. When I was traveling in the United States of America on tour for theWe Are An Image from the Future book, all the anarchists in America were telling me—and normal people from America, from many different parts of America—they were saying, “You Greeks, you gave us democracy, now you have to tell us what to do with it.”
The problem with democracy is that it creates inequality. It forms inequalities and continues to use them. Of course the terminology of democracy is that the people have the power in their hands, can take their lives into their hands. But we cannot speak about representative democracy in this way. Representative democracy today doesn’t even exist, you know. The parliaments are so entrapped by huge economic interests around the world, it is not the parliaments that govern. They become soldiers. Technocrats and people who cannot speak politically get votes and come to parliament to “represent the people.” The people don’t feel represented anymore. Representative democracy is dead. We have to face this problem.
When you realize that representative democracy is dead, there are two ways: fascism or anarchism. There is no other way. Society has to decide. Does it want more democracy, which means dictatorship? The other side of democracy is dictatorship, because democracy is there to defend the rights of economic interests. When people revolt, immediately democracy passes into dictatorship, passes into a state of emergency. This state of emergency, like we see now in Turkey for example, is a dictatorship.
People have to decide: do they want more dictatorship? Do they want totalitarianism? Do they want a technocratic capitalism as a monopoly on the mentality of the people? Or do they want to think about something more than this?
If they want to think about something more than dictatorship, something more than a technocratic totalitarianism, then we are here and waiting for them. Anarchists are open-hearted people creating horizontal assemblies with people to give them the chance to speak for themselves, to organize together, and to find solutions together. We don’t have a political way of manipulating people. We don’t want to manipulate people. That’s why we say we don’t want the people as voters, we don’t want the people as customers. We want people to participate, to share their experiences, to share their hearts, take care of one another, and to build communities that can fight capitalism and fight the state. This is the first step.
We have visions for the future. We can imagine a horizontal and happy future for everybody. But we cannot impose this on society. Society has to come towards us, talk about it, prepare the revolution, and manifest the revolution as a society, not as an anarchist political organization. Society will do the revolution, not anarchists. Anarchists will be there to help and offer their power and offer their bodies for the struggle. But society has to decide: do we want totalitarianism or do we want anarchism?
CM: Tasos, thank you so much for being on This is Hell! this week.
TS: Thank you very much, and I hope all the people in the United States will understand what anarchism is, slowly, investigate what anarchism is, and take part in the struggle, because we need all of them. I hope that slowly the people will get more used to political analysis, because the problems are getting so big that the people will have to understand where they are very soon. Thank you very much.
more info about Void Network: http://voidnetwork.gr international site in English and Greek
Void Network facebook page (mainly in Greek): https://www.facebook.com/kenodiktuo/
This is Hell is a weekly longform political interview program broadcast across Chicago on WNUR since 1996.
Every Saturday morning, Chuck Mertz works off his news hangover by talking to the journalists, authors and activists working to make this world a slightly less hellish place. Expect in-depth conversations about the forces that drive politics, and gallows humor about a world with more questions than answers.
This is Hell! broadcasts every Saturday, 9AM-1PM US Central on WNUR 89.3FM Chicago and podcast to the world shortly after.
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From C4SS by Shawn P. Wilbur
It should be clear that one of the key conflicts in these debates about anarchy and democracy is a struggle over the nature of anarchism. And it is probably safe to say that nearly all anarchists wrestle with the difficulties of defining that term. Part of the difficulty is that anarchism is simultaneously a kind of system and a matter of tradition. It is at once a political—or anti-political—ideology, a social-scientific approach, and a body of practices that have emerged within—and sometimes against—a particular set of social movements. It is no surprise, then, when our discussions of anarchist theory and practice oscillate between, on the one hand, attempts to show logical consistency between given practices and established principles and, on the other, appeals to the practices of certain pioneers.
When anarchist thought is vital, we should expect the two aspects to work together, since ideally anarchism should never become either simply a theoretical construction or a matter of merely copying past practices. At its best, anarchist thought uses elements of tradition to increase freedom in the present, while new contexts in the present cast new light on the insights of the past. But we should probably be honest and admit that we do not always know quite how to achieve that mix.
Looking back over this exchange, it seems to me Gabriel Amadej’s short contribution “The Regime of Liberty” is a good example of how to at least begin to achieve that balance—and one that works with a particularly difficult body of thought. The attempt to propose a market anarchism “in the spirit of Proudhon” is provocative—I assume intentionally so, given familiar arguments about the place of “the market” in Proudhon’s thought—and the claim that he “held his ground and asserted the principles of anarchy” in late works such as The Principle of Federation simply ups the ante, given the tendency to treat those works as some kind of departure from the spirit of works like What is Property?
As one of those who has pretty consistently advised caution in linking Proudhon and market anarchism, I want to explain a few of the reasons for my reticence in that regard, and also talk a bit about the difficulties involved with attaching Proudhon, and especially his mature works, to any of our projects, but then I would like to briefly explore how we might move at least a few more steps down a path at least similar to the one Amadej has indicated. “Sancta sanctis,” wrote Proudhon in The Theory of Property. “Everything becomes just for the just man; everything can be justified between the just.” And let’s take that as a challenge that it is up to us to determine whether “the market” can find its place among the key institutions of an anarchist society.
First, however, we have to confront the fact that, as Amadej puts it, “Oppression comes in all forms. Any exercise of liberty can, in certain conditions, succumb to tyranny.” Let’s underline the possibility that “all forms” really means ALL forms, including some that we might consider anarchic. There’s nothing very unorthodox in this possibility. After all, we have figures like Bakunin claiming that even science—a true understanding of the world—would have to be rejected should it be coupled with the ability to command. And we have the fact, which so many people have found so perplexing, that Proudhon and Bakunin never stopped describing disorder and even tyranny with that same word, anarchy, that they used to describe non-governmental society. And we know (although it is obscured in the translation of The General Idea of the Revolution) that one of the other senses of anarchy was the capitalistic “anarchy of the market.” So we are forced, even in these early works, to distinguish between senses and forms of anarchy, and perhaps, as I have already suggested, to imagine a series of anarchies much like the series that Proudhon described as running from absolutism to “anarchy in all its senses.”
Obviously, as soon as we attempt to address this possible series of anarchies things get complicated. But it seems to me that the major objection to the principle-driven position of the anti-democratic anarchists is precisely that things are complicated, so presumably no one should object to attempts to clarify the nature of the complication. And maybe we don’t have to go too far down this particular rabbit hole to get a sense of the difficulties likely to be faced in the attempt to elaborate a market anarchism “in the spirit of Proudhon.” Let’s start by examining the possibility of what we might call absolutist anarchy or exploitative anarchy.
In the first case, we might successfully navigate all of the theoretical difficulties involved in positing anarchy as a principle, but then treat the resulting concept as the basis for a rule, to be applied much like any other sort of law or deontological principle. There are a couple of potential problems here. First, of course, there is the obvious break with the spirit of anarchy involved in imposing the practice of anarchic relations as a duty. But there is also potentially a misunderstanding about the path to anarchy. If, for example, we simply take the four-quadrant model from The Principle of Federation as a kind of guide, then we might think of the path from any of the other quadrants to anarchy as a relatively simple one: increase the division of power within society while individualizing or simply eliminating authority. But we know that the model was not intended as a map of the real world, but as an a priori construction, a simplism appealing to “logic and good faith,” and that, as Proudhon put it, “therein, precisely, lies the trap.”
The thing that we learn from the rest of the discussion in The Principle of Federation is that none of these a priori forms appear in reality in fully realized form. They remain “perpetual desiderata.” This is one of the reasons that some have claimed that Proudhon distanced himself from anarchy in his later works. But I think that Amadej is correct in saying that Proudhon “held his ground and asserted the principles of anarchy.” It is just not the simplist form of anarchy that he ultimately asserts. Rather than an a priori principle, anarchy becomes something like an active principle, achieved, as Amadej rightly observes, though various kinds of balance.
If we skip ahead to Chapter VI of The Principle of Federation, we find Proudhon in fine form, taking obvious pleasure in the twists and turns of his argument: “If the reader has followed the above account with some care, human society should appear to him as a fantastic creation, full of surprises and mysteries.” But his claims are fairly straightforward, beginning with the assertion that “Political order rests upon two complementary, opposed, and irreducible principles: authority and liberty.” There should be absolutely no surprises here for anyone who has encountered the argument that “property is theft,” that the first forms of justice were force and fraud, that the key to abolishing property-theft was in universalizing it, etc., or who has worked through any of the exposition of the “economic contradictions.”
There is really a good deal of consistency in Proudhon’s treatment of irreducible oppositions in his work, but certainly in any of the works written after 1858 we can say with certainty that we are dealing with a worldview in which the antinomy is the dominant form. As a result, there are no neat syntheses to wipe old problems off the table and resolutions generally come in the form of some balancing of forces.
That means, for example—and for better or worse—that property is never just “theft” or just “liberty.” We should probably be very cautious, in any event, in attempting to map the concept of property onto real-world institutions, but the key to understanding Proudhon’s conceptual analysis of property (and this might be true as early as 1842 and the Explanations Presented to the Public Prosecutor concerning the Right of Property) is that he never relented in his critique of “the idea in itself” or backed down on the question of its “incompatibility with all the known systems.” Property always remained “theft,” at least when considered in simple isolation, and always would, at least until human beings intervened with the intention of striking a balance and making the essentially unjust just among themselves. In The Theory of Property, he argues that:
“There is only one point of view from which property can be accepted: it is the one that, recognizing that man possesses Justice, within himself, making him sovereign and upholder of justice [justicier], consequently awards him property, and knows no possible political order but federation. (Ms. 2847, p. 36.)
“Thus, on this great question, our critique remains at base the same, and our conclusions are always the same: we want equality, more and more fully approximated, of conditions and fortunes, as we want, more and more, the equalization of responsibilities. We reject, along with governmentalism, communism in all its forms; we want the definition of official functions and individual functions; of public services and of free services. There is only one thing new for us in our thesis: it is that that same property, the contradictory and abusive principle of which has raised our disapproval, we today accept entirely, along with its equally contradictory qualification: Dominium est just utendi et abutendi re suâ, quatenus juris ratio patur. We have understood finally that the opposition of two absolutes—one of which, alone, would be unpardonably reprehensive, and both of which, together, would be rejected, if they worked separately—is the very cornerstone of social economy and public right: but it falls to us to govern it and to make it act according to the laws of logic.”
So here we have an “opposition” that is at the same time a “cornerstone” of society. Whatever might remain uncertain about the approach described here—and I certainly still have plenty of questions about its practical application—I think we can say that the method of moving from one general political form to another is not necessarily going to follow any very straight and narrow course, and that it is likely to involve a lot of experimental limiting and balancing of a wide variety of social forces, with nothing more than our growing understanding of social dynamics to guide us.
And every reservation we might have about attempt to apply anarchy as a rule should probably apply to attempts to embody it in a system. Building on a “cornerstone” of irreducible opposition obviously imposes a particular character on the edifice, so when we think of federation as a “political order”—or as the principle of a form of political order—we have to keep that character in mind. What seems to be true of anarchy and federation as principles is that they authorize nothing. Because they are fundamentally principles of relation, they address the elements and institutions of society only indirectly, focusing instead on their interactions and what Proudhon called their “resultant forces.”
All of this undoubtedly sounds a bit vague and perhaps alien to conventional anarchist discourse. In large part, that is because works like The Principle of Federation and The Theory of Property are just the tip of a rather formidable iceberg. What is becoming clear about Proudhon’s work, now that the Besançon manuscripts have been available online for a few years, is that pretty much everything he wrote from 1859 on is part of one large, sprawling, unfinished study, in the course of which he developed some of his most interesting social-scientific theory, with the later works that are available to us in English (partial translations of The Principle of Federation and Literary Majorats, plus my draft translation of The Theory of Property and a few other odds and ends) giving only the most fragmentary glimpses of the larger work. The Theory of Property, for example, was intended to be the final chapter of a work on “the birth and death of nations,” where it was titled “Guarantism—Theory of Property,” and there are some indications that The Principle of Federation grew out of material intended to serve as its final section. So, in each of the published versions, we seem to have the conclusions of other studies, but with nearly all traces of those other studies erased. Among the earlier works, The General Idea of the Revolution has a similar relationship to the manuscripts on “Economy.” So it is perhaps unsurprising if we’ve struggled to make good sense of the works at hand.
This is the context in which my personal reluctance to talk about mutualism as a “market anarchism” has to be understood and, I think, the context within which any attempt at a market anarchism “in the spirit of Proudhon” has to succeed or fail. Every time we attempt to start this conversation—and I can only applaud the attempt by Amadej—we find ourselves in remarkably deep waters. And it shouldn’t be lost on us that many of the most elusive aspects of Proudhon’s theory remain those most necessary to an adequate account of “the market.” It’s not just that there are untranslated works (like the Manuel du spéculateur à la Bourse) and works lacking important contexts (like The Theory of Property), but that key works remain available only in the forms of scans of handwritten manuscripts (Economie, La propriété vaincue, the other Solution du problème social, the unused chapters of Système des Contradictions économiques, plus various scattered fragments) or perhaps no longer exist at all (Suite du Spéculateur à la Bourse, nouveau Manuel.) I’m finally deep enough into these studies to begin to see some of the possibilities, but the difficulties are really considerable—and I think the texts that we have ready access to testify to those difficulties. Indeed, if we’ve really understood why “property is theft” in the early works and explored the consequences of the theory of collective force, particularly as it might apply to our more socially complex and technologically advanced context, none of the emerging complications should surprise us too much.
I’m happy to encourage anyone willing to wade into those deep waters with a relatively open mind, but I’m also happy to encourage anyone who is not prepared to have a lot of their basic ideas challenged to save themselves the time and stress and find another point of reference. I’m just not sure that there is much room for anything in between immersion and rejection—or at least anything that will stand up to much scrutiny. But if one chooses immersion, then the arc of the analysis is likely to be very similar to that involved in the critique of democracy, and my educated guess on the matter is that we might well find ourselves in a similar position with regard to the tension between principles and practices.
From Gods and Radicals by Dr. Bones
When I put two rituals in my book to hex the police some people said I had gone too far. I had to talk with a team of editors about possible re-writes, had to discuss plans about what we’d do when the FBI eventually got a hold of it. I worried then. Now, with the dash cam footage released in the recent murder of Philando Castile I wish I would have wrote 40 more. An armed gang who exists only to protect the wealthy and kill people of color is running rampant and Anarchists are woefully unable to do anything about it. This needs to change immediately.
I’m not talking about more protests. I’m not talking about writing your congressman or maybe heading down to the next city council meeting to have a strong word with your mayor. I’m not talking about getting ready for another Black Bloc downtown.
None of that has stopped the killings of Philando Castile, Sandra Bland, Eric Garner, Mike Brown, Tamir Rice, Freddie Gray, and Amadou Diallo. Evangelical Christians can literally create healthcare systems outside of State control and the best Anarchists can come up with is cardboard signs and hash tags.
If your politics can only function in “radical spaces” they are worthless. If they can’t keep people alive they are garbage.
The other night I came home to find my wife quivering in fear and shaking with rage after watching the dashcam footage of an innocent man killed in front of his family. It was Philando’s video. It is a video so shocking, so unbelievably clear in guilt, that even conservative magazines had to admit it was all but damning.
“Yanez asked for Castile’s license. Castile told him that he had a gun, and the officer – rather than asking for his carry permit, or asking where the gun was, or asking to see Castile’s hands – just says, ‘Don’t reach for it then.’ At that point, Castile is operating under two commands. Get his license, and don’t reach for his gun. As Castile reaches for his license (following the officer’s orders), and he assures him that he’s not reaching for the gun (also following the officer’s orders).
He died anyway.”
In America you can execute a black man in front of his child for a broken taillight and reasonably expect a jury to let you off the hook. What are “radicals” concerned about?
My wife is mixed. In between people talking about how much they love her hair there is a morose and unspeakable acknowledgement that she might be considered dark enough to die. I worry for her when I’m not around. If she runs into a cop will her curls mark her for death? Her nose? Will he do a mental checklist, perhaps match her skin tone to a chart that ranges from “mental illness” to “dangerous?” She spoke last night of friends she knew, family members, all as if they had just been diagnosed with cancer.
You hope they make it but you know somewhere that it’s only a matter of time until somebody bites the bullet.
The laptop she owned sat on the other side of the room, practically thrown after arguing with person after person who told her how “cops have a hard job” and as such are right to “fear for their lives.”
What do they have to fear? Certainly nothing from Anarchists. Hell, they’ve got everything right where they want it.
She has to hide her radical idea that black people shouldn’t be executed on a whim from co-workers and customers, lest she offend them; her sheer existence is an inflammatory opinion. We had to drive by discolored American flags yesterday with disgusting blue lines running right through the middle, a silent but all too clear acknowledgement that for some people the police could do no wrong. That some people deserved to die. She has to see that everyday. She has to stare into the faces of people who will not give a single fuck if seven hollow-point rounds rip through her chest and steal that wonderful soul away from this Earth.
Those same flags would fly, those same people would ask what drugs were in her system, those same people would cheer and buy cakes for cops if anyone dared so much as said a bad word about them. Entire fraternal orders have been designed for the protection of cops and for providing legal aid when they end up killing someone.
And what might my “comrades” do? What can Anarchists provide if such a dark fate befell her?
Nothing beyond a few internet arguments.
The police, the government, they know this. That’s why they don’t care.
You think these pigs are afraid of going to court, a court system run by people they know and whose birthday parties they’ve regularly attended? You think a prosecutor is going to risk her career and every potential ally she needs in a police station to fight for some no-name “thug” who was probably guilty anyway?
They know people are going to get mad, march up and down, maybe spit in a few coffees. A trashcan or two might get knocked over. Anarchists have been doing that shit for years. Life goes on, and the cops know they can walk anywhere they want, do whatever they want, and if push comes to shove every piece of shit in a uniform is going to line up to defend them. If they get fucked with people are going to get hurt. Period.
That’s how gangs work. That’s how Anarchism used to work, back when “an injury to one” really did get treated as an injury to all. 100 years ago illegalists in Spain were leaving a trail of assassinated bosses, landowners, priests, and other tyrants in their wake.
Today? “Class War” is merely a slogan, a cool patch for your print shop to show how radical you are while extolling the benefits of veganism; white supremacy is the suburban mom in our checkout line that pisses us off and conveniently never the men in uniform with fingers on a trigger. Anarchists can feed the homeless, Anarchists can make gigantic puppets for the next protest, and by-golly-gee-willerkers Anarchists can promise to bring you the safest, most non-threatening and inclusive panel of authors who only you and a few friends have heard of aaaaaaall day.
But stop the police from lynching black people? Like, armed patrols or sabotage?
Who the fuck you think you’re dealing with pal?
These new Anarchists love to talk about privilege, don’t they? You want to know what privilege is? Privilege is having the audacity to call yourself a radical and “freedom-fighter” while a four-year old girl struggles to understand how a night out for ice cream took her father away forever. Privilege is getting to revel in just how goddamned liberated you and your general assembly are while Philando’s daughter tries to pick up the pieces of her life.
Anarchists talk about intersectionality, the criss-crossing of multiple oppressions. Charleena Lyles, a pregnant black woman with mental illness, was just recently killed by Seattle cops in front of her kids. Where are all those nice people in the pussy hats for her? Anybody going to take up the banner of intersectionality and actually do something to ensure this doesn’t happen again? Make Seattle PD lose some sleep? Hell, even help take care of her kids?
I won’t even bother asking for “justice.” The laughs might get stuck in my throat and choke me to death.
No, most Anarchists are too busy “calling out” the admin of some facebook group to worry about mutual aid. To suggest anything else might call the whole damn thing into question. Wouldn’t want to have that long hard look in the mirror would we, Comrade? That nagging feeling that you’ve wasted decades of your life playing pretend? No, can’t do that. Can’t walk down that dark and dusty road again.
Here’s a meme. Share it. Feel better? Good. Buy a t-shirt. Wear it on Sundays. Casually ignore the sound of your neighbor beating his wife. Shop at Whole Foods.
I’ve been watching, couldn’t help myself. Watching, waiting…holding my breath. Didn’t want to cast judgement lest I be judged. I’ve scoured the journals and looked into faces, pulled cards on multiple leading figures and even interrogated a few deities as to the state of our eventual liberation.
It ain’t lookin’ good, bud. On a scale of one being the total liberation of all people and ten being a self-inflicted gunshot wound that ends up throwing the planet into an abyss of nuclear fire, the state of American radicalism is about…
We tried. Isn’t that enough? Thought for sure university students and non-violence were going to be the next big thing in human potential. Thought hey, maybe this time we get it right. It was a nice run; had to close out some day. Nobody wins ’em all.
Are you black? Here’s a fun game: ask any of these “radicals,” what they plan to do when you eventually get shot. Put them in that conversation, the same conversation you have been forced to have with family members. Watch the empty expressions in their eyes. Did you see that? That little flick towards the left? That’s pure fear and unadulterated impotence. Ask them instead about the definition of racism. See how excited they get? He knows this answer.
Their solidarity begins and ends right at the prison bars, make no mistake about that.
It’s okay to be scared, might be better if they admitted it. They’re waiting, waiting for some “movement” to come in and make everything better, some group or party they can join up with after the danger is gone and victory is on the horizon. They’re going to keep waiting, like stillborn Alligator eggs, until they rot in a retirement home.
Is that your future?
The death of Philando Castile and the relative ease at which his murderer walks free should be a resounding testament to the absolute bankruptcy of Anarchism as it exists today, it’s unequivocal failure to provide anything besides charity work and amateur therapy, yet here we are worrying about how upset people might get if we dare to question their tactics; too busy debating minutiae in theoretical journals to stop what will surely be the next corpse from hitting the pavement.
Right now there is no Anarchist “movement.” There are real people with flesh and blood doing things and other people wishing they were doing anything.
What do you fall under?
Let’s help foster cultures of abject hostility towards the police and any who traffic with them. Buy a gun or buy one for somebody else. Start a cop-watch, form networks where you and yours can rely on each other in times of trouble and provide emergency services. Don’t like to fight? Get aid and supplies to those that are. Time to find the others, or start something all your own. Take each death personally for the sake of the gods and as a casualty on our side; seek not just revenge but a reckoning. Get into black communities and ask them how you can help.
One more thing: whenever a cop kills someone make sure to get the officer’s name. Print a picture out of their face if you can get it, and write on it. Take that picture and put it in a little box filled with Black Pepper, Red Pepper, and anything you can find rotting away. Decaying flesh is ideal. Bring that box down to the graveyard(leaving a quarter at the entrance as payment) and bury it in some lonely plot. Speak words over it as if the officer was being laid to rest, making sure to mention all the horrible diseases and afflictions he suffered along his path to the grave. Walk away. Cleanse yourself with a Hyssop bath and know unseen hands are working.
Our idle hands should join them.
This isn’t a game, and it never was for millions of Black Americans. Start acting like it. The world isn’t going to be changed by any new theories or vigorous debate, it’s going to be changed by brazen criminals not content to merely suffer; strong souls willing to take a risk for a better life and seize all they require. The clock is ticking and the next death is on the horizon. Will we organize for a great “society” or for survival?
I know where I stand. How about you?
Dr. Bones is a conjurer, card-reader and egoist-communist who believes “true individuality can only flourish when the means of existence are shared by all.” A Florida native and Hoodoo practitioner, he summons pure vitriol, straight narrative, and sorcerous wisdom into a potent blend of poltergasmic politics and gonzo journalism. He lives with his loving wife, a herd of cats, and a house full of spirits.
We've had a couple of totws on changes in life, this one is specifically about how you've changed your behavior, your actions, what can you not do any more, what do you not want to do anymore, what can you do now that you couldn't before, and what do you like doing now that you never used to?
This is partly inspired by some of us who have been around for a long time, doing all kinds of activism, including anti-fascist, anti-racist, take back the night marches, one of us was around for the first dyke march in the bay area, etc. But the fact that we don't do that so much anymore means that people don't see us as involved or informed at all.
But that's not the question, just one of the inspirations for the question.
The question is how have you changed? how have your friends changed? Does it surprise you? If you haven't changed yet, how do you want your actions and behavior to change as you age? Or do you want to stay exactly the same as you are right now?
With a Review of Previous G8 and G20 Protests
This July, the rulers of the twenty most powerful nations in the world—the G20—will meet in Hamburg to coordinate the preservation of capitalism and state power at the expense of the natural world and the freedom and dignity of humanity as a whole. Anarchists and other foes of tyranny will be in Hamburg, as well, to demonstrate the kind of assertive resistance it will take to put control of our destinies back in our hands. For your convenience, we have prepared an overview of the actions that are planned in Hamburg, and a variety of resources on the mobilizations against previous G8 and G20 summits. In addition, this week we will publish retrospectives on the demonstrations that took place in Scotland and Germany against the G8 summits of 2005 and 2007.
A sign in Hamburg, 2017: “See Hamburg… while it’s still standing.”
Historically, anarchists have utilized the summits of the WTO, IMF, G8, and G20 as opportunities to dramatize our opposition to the hierarchical bureaucracies that govern our world, in hopes of inspiring ever wider resistance. Be it G7, G8, G20, or G1000, any system that empowers heads of state and their lackeys to decide the fate of billions is fundamentally exclusive and coercive. We oppose the G20 summits because we believe that only horizontal grassroots initiatives can solve the problems facing humanity. Financial crisis, climate chaos, ethnic violence, and state repression are the necessary consequences of markets and governments that concentrate power in the hands of the most ruthless few. When everyone is forced to compete for resources and power rather than being free to develop ways of life based on sharing and peaceful coexistence, no one wins, not even the 20 most powerful people on earth.
The German government intends to hold the 2017 G20 summit in a famously rebellious part of Hamburg, the St. Pauli / Karoviertel / Sternschanze area. It is difficult to understand this decision except perhaps as further evidence that today, no one in any position on the political spectrum has any idea what to do about the conflicts of our time except to continue blindly escalating. This event will position nationalist authoritarians like Trump, Erdogan, and Putin alongside neoliberals like Merkel and Macron against the rank and file of humanity.
Previous G20 summits have seen inspiring and confrontational forms of resistance and appalling violence from the state—for example, at the 2001 G8 Summit in Genoa, at which police murdered Carlo Giuliani and permanently injured many other people. The way things have been going, we can only expect resistance and repression to escalate in Hamburg. Already, railway sabotage has caused massive delays around Germany, with a communiqué on German indymedia claiming credit.
Welcome to Hell—Hamburg 2017
2017 G20 in Hamburg: Schedule of Events
July 2: “Wave of Protest”
The liberal demonstration involving Greenpeace, Oxfam, and other NGOs is taking place days ahead of the summit, underscoring organizers’ desire to avoid any real conflict with the authorities (and anyone else). Considering that they are simply demanding that the G20 make capitalism “equitable” and “sustainable,” to “fight tax evasion” and “strengthen parliaments,” it is hardly surprising that they have no plans to do anything that could lend force to these watered-down requests. Today, liberal moderation is less realistic than the most maximalist anarchist program: it is not hard to imagine that capitalism could crash and burn, but no one has any idea how to restore social democracy.
July 5: Street Theater
July 5-6: Global Solidarity Summit
Vandana Shiva and others invite you to a series of panel discussions and workshops in which “scientists, activists, and politicians” will propose their alternatives to the current order. If only changing the world were simply a matter of discussion!
July 6: Welcome to Hell
This is an open call for a massive black bloc demonstration rejecting capitalism and the state in their entirety.
July 7: Hamburg City Strike
July 8: Massive March: “Solidarity without Borders”
A mass demonstration including a black bloc and a Kurdish bloc, organized by the left-wing party Die Linke and others.
Welcome to Hell.
Some Campaigns and Calls to Action
NoG20 2017: The most comprehensive overview of events.
NoG20 Climate Campaign: Activists already carried out an effective blockade of the harbor in Hamburg.
Shutdown Hamburg: The effort from the libertarian communist group ums Ganze! and Beyond Europe.
In Hamburg sagt man Tschüss: An explicitly anarchist call to action in English. “We want to destroy, by July 2017, the rule of patriarchy over women, the rule of the states over their borders and urban centers, the rule of labor over our time, the rule of money over our social behavior, the domination of goods over our lives, the rule of the cops over us, the fear of repression in our minds.”
G20 Entern: A largely Leninist communist group, which nonetheless included anarchist banners in their video, with the mysterious consequence that the video was shared by a North American anarchist group, SubMedia.
From Rojava to Hamburg: Fight G20
Resisting the G8 and G20: Previous Coverage
For nearly two decades, CrimethInc. has published firsthand accounts and analyses of demonstrations and acts of defiance at summits including the G8 and G20. These stories of strategy, courage, and adventure deserve to be passed on from one generation to the next.
2003 G8 in Évian, France
2009 G20 in Pittsburgh, USA
2010 G20 in Toronto, Canada
Past Precedents: Riots in Hamburg, December 21, 2013.
A scene from Hamburg on December 21, 2013.
Welcome to the anews podcast. This is episode 17 for June 26th. This podcast covers anarchist activity, ideas, and conversations from the previous week.
Editorial - James Hodgkinson and other shooters
TOTW - Kids
A101 question - can the state exist without violence?
This podcast is the effort of many people. This week this podcast was
* sound edited by Dim
* written by jackie and a collective member
* narrated by chisel and a friend
* Thanks to A! and Jessica Just for their help with the topic of the week
* Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
To learn more
This week, Bursts spoke with Ben Turk about the August 19th call out for solidarity with prisoners. The Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee, a project of the Industrial Workers of the World (or IWW) syndicalist labor union is one body organizing the inside and outside actions, and Ben is a member. Ben's also affiliated with Lucasville Amnesty
Last year was a huge time for radical organizing around the U.S. Prisoners from around the country participated in the September 9th national prisoner strike, the first of it's size and scope that we've seen. This event mobilized individual prisoners and also sprang from groups like the Free Alabama Movement and it's sister pushes in other carceral states, Anarchist Black Cross chapters, the Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee, or IWOC, of the Industrial Workers of the World labor union and also by just lots of unaffiliated prisoners. Now, we have what could be called a hard Law and Disorder administration in the White House talking about increasing funding and support for cops, further militarizing the border and terrorizing residents, reviving the 1980's style war on drugs and other repressive actions. In this context, it feels necessary for those who have a different vision of the world to push back and keep pushing as we were under Obama, under Bush & before.
This August 19th there is a call for another prisoner-led show of resistance supported by folks on the outside as well.
Soooooo many Announcements
But first, we have a bunch of announcements we wanted to share with you. If you have things you want announced on the show, send us an email and we may include it!
Firstly, if you follow the show on twitter, we're shifting the show's account over to @StrawFinal. If you're on that or other, despicable forms of social media, consider checking us out for announcements about the show, about related projects and for the occasional anti-social, cat memes.
Kevin "Rashid" Johnson in transit
An update on the case of Kevin "Rashid" Johnson from http://rashidmod.com :
"Supporters have received word that Kevin “Rashid” Johnson was picked up by Virginia officials and removed from Clements Unit on Thursday, June 23rd. He is no longer being held by Texas Department of Criminal Justice.
Thanks to so many people phoning Virginia Interstate Compact Supervisor Terry Glenn, we have found out that Rashid is now in Florida at a “reception facility”. However, we do not know where that is, if he can receive mail there, or where he will end up. We will keep you informed as we find out more, and in the meantime will be asking people to phone Glenn back on Monday.
Rashid is Minister of Defense of the New Afrikan Black Panther Party (Prison Chapter); he is a Virginia prisoner organizer and revolutionary communist. As a result of his organizing he has been repeatedly transferred out of state, under a setup called the “Interstate Compact” which is used to remove rebellious prisoners and exile them to locations where they have no friends, support, etc. For the past four years Rashid has been held in Texas, where he has been beaten, threatened, had his property confiscated, been set up on bogus infractions, and more — nonetheless, he used his time there to forge connections with other prisoners and to write a series of powerful exposés about violence, medical neglect, abuse, and murder in the Texas prison system.
Transfers can be opportunities for prison officials to arrange for violence and abuse. Rashid was beaten when he was first brought to Texas, and lost much of his property at the time. Outside supporters and people concerned about prisoners’ rights and basic human dignity need to make sure this does not happen again!"
Kevin "Rashid" Johnson's support site suggests people call the following prison employee to support Rashid, and there's a simple script for calls available at http://rashidmod.com:
Mr. Terry Glenn, Interstate Compact Supervisor
Virginia Department of Corrections
P.O. Box 26963
Richmond, VA 23261-6963
Phone: (804) 887-7866
Fax: (804) 674-3595
QTLUG & VPNs
When this show is over, consider bringing your linux or soon-to-be linux laptop, tablet, phone or whatever device over to Firestorm for the QTLUG. A linux and open source software enthusiasts' meetup. Asheville Queer & Trans Linux User Group (QTLUG, pronounced "Cutie Lug") aims to provide a welcoming environment for queers, trans folks, women and others who want to explore technology and receive support from peers. QTLUG meets monthly and can be contacted at email@example.com . Today, June 25th at 3:30pm EST there'll be a VPN clinic, where attendees will be helped to set up Virtual Private Networks, or VPNs, on their devices. Little to no experience necessary!
Today at 4 to 6pm, and every Sunday, in Haw Creek Park at 40 Avon Rd in Asheville there will be a self-protection class taught by folks at Mountain Forge. This class is informed by Combat Systema and other tendencies.
J20 benefit with Thou
Tonight, on June 25th at 7pm at the Pinhook in Durham, NC, there'll be a benefit concert to raise funds for J20 defendants, those swept up in the kettle on January 20th in D.C. during the protests against the inauguration. Bands playing include the New Orleans, anarcho-doom band THOU as well as Bad Friends, and Slime.
Info Session on Stonewall
On Tuesday June 27th, the other Tranzmission in Asheville will be hosting An Information Session, Stonewall Commemoration Week downstairs at the Pack Library in Downtown AVL from 6-8pm. "Learn about the Miss Major, Marsha P Johnson and Sylvia Rivera. Myka Johnson from TQPOC, Charlotte (Queer Trans People of Color, Charlotte) will teach us about the leaders who kicked off the modern day LGBTQ movement, trans people of color!"
DIY Screen Printing workshop
On Wednesday, June 28th, you can attend a DIY Screenprinting workshop// Taller de serigrafía from 7-8:30pm at the Kairos West community center, behind Firestorm at 610 Haywood Rd in West Asheville. Bring a blank, light colored tshirt to print on!
Trouble #4: There Is No Justice... Just Us
On Friday, June 30th at 7:30pm, there'll be a showing of the 30 minute, 4th installment of TROUBLE, the new serial documentary series from sub.Media. This episode has a focus on Repression and Movement Defense with examples around support for Fernando Barcenas in Mexico, defense of water defenders from the #NoDAPL struggle, support for #J20 defendants, La Fuga anti-carceral organizing across Chile, Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee about U.S. prison strikes and more. This'll be followed by a conversation based on prompts from the film makers.
Prison Books packaging
On Saturday July 1st and every following Saturday, Asheville Prison Books Project will be hosting a weekly book packaging and letter writing event in the back of Downtown Books & News, 67 N Lexington Ave, Asheville. APBP sends free books and letters to prisoners around the South Eastern U.S.
Stonewall Folk Punk concert
Also on July 1st in Asheville, the other Tranzmission will be hosting Folk Punk Transtravaganza, Stonewall Commemoration Week at the members-only bar, Broadways from 7-10pm. Performances by Gullible Boys, Bless Your Heart, Brynn Estelle and ATL's wWaylon.
NVDA training against Coal Ash & Pipelines
On Sunday July 2nd, there'll be a Non Violent Direct Action training camp from 9am to 5pm hosted by Claire and Coleman in preparation for a protest on July 4th against the Duke Energy coal-ash pit and Atlantic Coast Pipeline that Duke is investing in. The action is entitled "Lake Julian Action: Independence From Fossil Fuels". The action camp will take place at 406 Overlook Rd Extension in Arden. There's also a request on that fedbook page for fundraising for the direct action.
Blue Ridge ABC letter wriitng
Letters save lives! Join Blue Ridge ABC each month for an evening of solidarity with incarcerated comrades. Celebrate their birthdays by sending words of encouragement and support. From 5-7:30pm at Firestorm Books & Coffee, more info on the group at BRABC.Blackblogs.Org
July 4th falls on a Tuesday and every Tuesday at 1:30pm, the Steady Collective, a harm reduction project in Asheville, does it's Needle Exchange at Firestorm, 610 Haywood Rd. Show up if you need clean needles, information on Narcan, or wanna start helping out! They'll also be at the Haywood Street Congregation, 297 Haywood St in downtown from 10am to 3pm every Wednesday.
July 4th Critical Mass Bike Parade
Also on July 4th, from 5:30pm to 9pm, there will be an Anti-Nationalist Critical Mass Bike Ride and bike parade in Asheville. Leaving from Montford Park Place, near between Panola and Cumberland, the ride will be a reasonable distance at a reasonable pace to allow more participation and will return to the park for cool-down, vegan popsicles, or vice lollies as they may be called in the U.K., plus speakers, info and maybe music. From the announcement:
"Gather with us on July 4th to demonstrate resistance to nationalism and the american empire's history of genocide, slavery and ecological devastation. Especially in the present climate of rising white nationalism, attacks on indigenous sovereignty, and disregard for impending climate disaster, we reject this holiday and its gratuitous flag-waving propaganda. Instead, we'll celebrate collective resistance by taking the streets in a critical mass bike ride through downtown. Show your opposition to war and eco-devastation in this pedal-powered parade!"
More on this event and other local events to WNC, check out http://avlcommunityaction.com
Anarchist Summer Camp, Register by July 5th!
The Institute for Advanced Troublemaking, which is "a small collective
of long time anarchist organizers seeking to create a lasting movement
education hub in the Northeast of the so-called US", is hosting an
anarchist summer camp which will be held August 11th – 18th in
Worcester, MA this year.
Some information about the group from their website "The I.A.T. aims to
raise collective capacity to target our enemies at the systemic level
with effective direct action and campaign work. As Trump’s presidency
spurs a swell of anarchist organizing and renewed interest in anti-state
anti capitalist perspectives, we want to escalate by building skills in
direct action, creating movement infrastructure, and community
organizing for new anarchists. We also want to bring experienced
organizers together to innovate strategies and tactics for our
contemporary context. Rather than an activism 101, our intention is to
cultivate deeper understanding and praxis of anarchist organizing among
people who are already doing some of that work."
The main idea is to build on the social and political potential of
events like conferences and bookfairs to expand what is possible in this
upcoming era in which it feels increasingly vital to have a vibrant and
adaptive anarchist praxis.
You can see more information about this event at
https://advancedtroublemaking.wordpress.com/ which will include a three
part presentation by some past interviewees about Burn Down The American
Plantation! Registration ends on July 5th, and will prioritize "people
of marginalized identities including POC, working class, trans or gender
nonconforming, those with dis/abilities, LGBTQI, and women, but
recognize that many of these may not be visibly apparent".
When There Is No 911
On Thursday, July 6th to 9th from 9am to 5pm each day in Knoxville, TN, there will be a workshop entitled "When There Is No 911: Emergency Care". This will be hosted by Mountain Forge
Learn the skills for the Right Now emergencies. There is no time to google for the answer, you can't consult your mentors, the stars, or your power animal, you need to act NOW ! Now what?
Skills that will help us to take care of ourselves and each other.
This class will start you off in the fundamental skill of emergency care in urban, suburban, rural, wilderness, and disaster (short, long, and very long ) emergency situations.
More info, including the location and the requisite pre-registration, can be found at their fedbook page.
BK Punk Rock Karaoke
If you're in Brooklyn on July 14, consider the Punk Rock Karaoke benefit for Certain Days political prisoner calendar. The karaoke will take place from 9:30pm til 12:30am at the Pine Box Rock Shop at 12 Gratton st in Brooklyn.
Meet Your Local Redneck
Back in Asheville, Carolina Mountain Redneck Revolt will be having a public event in Carrier Park (220 Amboy Rd) on July 16th from 12 noon to 4pm. This'll be a meet and greet with the local chapter in the hopes of networking, discussion of community engagements, Redneck Revolt praxis and more. This is a potluck with veg options, and it's suggested you bring sides to share.
From June 11th
Communication is a weapon: June 11th 2017
This year, the International Day of Solidarity with Marius Mason and All Long-Term Anarchist Prisoners emphasized how communication aids our struggles against prison society and disrupts the isolation imposed on comrades who are locked up for the long term.
The state aims to make our comrades disappear, but we want their names and deeds spread throughout the world. During the months preceding June 11, word was circulated far and wide about both our imprisoned comrades and the upcoming day of solidarity. Newly designed June 11 promotional materials – including stickers, flyers, and posters – reached individuals, social centers, and distribution projects around the world. The call for June 11th this year was translated into French, Portuguese, and Spanish.
We conducted several moving and insightful interviews with former prisoners and outside supporters, who eloquently wove connections between past and current struggles. Solidarity with long-term prisoners can strengthen our struggles by forcing us to look back and learn from theirs, and deepen our collective memory.
As June 11th has come and gone, we want to affirm again that our commitment to our imprisoned comrades is not limited to one day, but extends in all directions:
We do not forget our comrade sentenced to 7.5 years for robbing PaxBank in 2014.
In Italy, the state continues its attempt to disrupt efforts of solidarity with the anarchists ensnared in operation Scripta Manent – now investigating RadioAzione, Anarhija.info, and Croce Nera Anarchica. Knowing that our infrastructure for counter-information and prisoner solidarity are essential to our revolt, the state seeks to demobilize them through its usual course of raids, restrictions, and disruption. We send unending solidarity to the comrades in Italy, who in their unwillingness to forfeit these weapons, show that insurgent hearts will not be stopped by the state’s petty machinations.
We send our love to comrade Davide Delogu, who, in his stubborn refusal to accept being locked in a cage by brutal pigs, attempted to free himself.
And finally, we encourage everyone to organize events and take action for the upcoming International Day of Solidarity with Eric King on June 28th. Eric’s uncompromising spirit in the face of persecution keeps our hearts strong as we navigate and fight against this world that is not ours.
(We’d also like to remind those who raised funds for Marius this year to donate via his support page, rather than sending money directly to his commissary fund.)
The following is a collection of event reportbacks, prisoner statements, and actions taken for June 11th in 2017.
Athens (Greece): Molotov attack against Evelpidon Court
Australia: Graffiti and banners
Bloomington, Indiana (USA): Banner drop for Marius Mason
As a small, anonymous gesture of complicity, we hung two banners to honor June 11, day of solidarity with long-term anarchist prisoners. These banners are on the main north/south roads into and out of Bloomington. No matter how long he is held at FMC Carswell or in any other cage, we will make sure Marius isn’t forgotten here, especially given the vital role he played in defending the land and building a community of resistance in our region.
Bloomington, Indiana (USA): Movie showing, letter writing, picnic, wheatpasting
In the month leading up to the June 11th International Day of Solidarity with Marius Mason & All Long-Term Anarchist Prisoners, we set up two tables at Boxcar Books with an array of free zines, stickers, and posters for June 11th and about anarchist prisoners.
On June 6th, the bi-monthly Read & Revolt anarchist reading group met at Boxcar Books to discuss “The Sun Still Rises,” a text written by imprisoned fighters of the Conspiracy Cells of Fire (CCF) urban guerrilla group in Greece. It had been nominated by regular attendees of Read & Revolt and, given that it was written by long-term anarchist prisoners, was scheduled for discussion the week before June 11th. Those in attendance for this session seemed to appreciate how concisely it was written, how clear the authors’ intentions were, and how it was written passionately yet without unnecessary flair. The conversation bounced between topics relevant to local conditions, while various ideas throughout the text acted as conduits for people to discuss ideas related to their own personal problematics.
On June 9th, we showed Sacco & Vanzetti, a 2006 documentary on the two militant anarchists. Without falling back on idolization and martyrdom, we want to affirm our history. As we continue on a path as anarchists of action, as enemies of this and all states, we carry with us the spirit of those who have, before us, carved out their own path of defiance. After the movie, folks wrote 25 cards and letters to long-term anarchist prisoners in the US.
On June 11th, we held a picnic in a public park as a celebration of anarchist action and in honor of our imprisoned fighters. Beneath black flags, people talked, wrote cards to anarchist prisoners, and shared food. Some comrades prepared a songbook and performance of classic anarchist songs. Anarchists in the early 20th century often held picnics on holidays of their own creation, and we hoped to carry on this tradition. As the world becomes increasingly dominated by the technological mediation of the internet, it is imperative that we create spaces in which we can be together, face-to-face, without the noise of alienated chatter. There is, for us, a clear connection between the walls that separate us from our imprisoned comrades and the walls that separate us all from each other. We celebrate, with joy, the crumbling of both.
Earlier that day, anonymous individuals dropped two banners in solidarity with Marius Mason and against social control.
On the evening of June 11th, anonymous individuals wheatpasted dozens of posters and put up stickers about imprisoned comrades.
While our efforts this year were modest, they exist within a continuum of action for our imprisoned comrades that manifests every day. We take time on June 11th to remember and act for imprisoned anarchists, but this does not stop when the clock strikes midnight. For us, solidarity is not a one-off event, an act of charity, or something removed from our daily lives – it is an inseparable part of our existence as anarchists, a tension affirmed through action. Solidarity is the word in our mouths, the rock in our hand, and the blood in our veins.. The prison walls cannot break us.
Brisbane (Australia): Benefit for Jock Palfreeman
Anti-Fascist Action Brisbane had a fucking rad night tonight. We had a film screening and raised some money for the Free Jock Palfreeman Committee. We are in total solidarity with Marius Mason, Eric King, the comrades in CCF, YPG/J, IPRGF and all anarchists fighting.
Denton, Texas (USA): Food sharing & letter writing
Around a dozen anarchists gathered in Denton, TX to host a public food sharing in a popular, centrally located park, and to write letters of support to long term anarchist political prisoners and prison rebels. It is important to us that we stay in contact with radicals and prison rebels being held captive by the state. We want to make sure that our comrades know that they are not alone, despite the isolating conditions of captivity. As we shared food, wrote letters and made art together, we thought about Marius, Krow, Sean, Jeremy, Kara Wild and many other friends who may be locked up, but who will never be forgotten.
Derry (Ireland): Banner drops for political prisoners
Each year, June 11th serves as a day for us to remember our longest imprisoned anarchist comrades through words, actions and ongoing material support.
Anarchists in Derry took part in a Banner Drop today to high light the continued imprisonment of political prisoners. Several banners, displayed at Free Derry Corner, were used as part of its part in a day of action and international solidarity. For 13 years, anarchists and environmentalists have observed June 11th as a day of action to mobilise around our imprisoned comrades.
Over that time, the pace of revolt has quickened, with so many uprisings, clashes, attacks, indictments, raids, mass arrests, grand juries, and deaths. In this constantly shifting terrain, it’s easy to lose track of the origins of our traditions. For anarchists our goal is to mark June 11th as we work throughout each year to ensure that our imprisoned comrades will not be forgotten.
In solidarity anarchists locally will continue to support political prisoners and in particular highlighting the ongoing incarceration of Tony Taylor, a local republican activist interned by the British State without charges, without trail or legal justice.
Elgin, Illinois (USA): Art against gentrification
Today in solidarity with Marius Mason and long term anarchist prisoners some of us decided to be artistic! Inspired by Elgin’s advertisement for public art alongside its hip new reconstructive (gentrifying) city landscape, we have a piece of artwork of our own to display. We found a welcoming post at the busy intersection of Highland and State St. for all to view while waiting for the lights to change.
Armed with anger, there is an artist in every single one of us; an artist with an arsenal of creative potential to be discovered through action. Ungovernability can be the art of evasion and acting out against the laws of conformity and passive obedience. And there is so much fun to be had. With every single attack against this prison society, there is an artistic element of creativity materializing it’s destruction.
Free all prisoners!
War against the industrial-capital machine!
Nothing less than total liberation!
– Elgin Art and Anarchy Club
Exarchia, Athens (Greece): Banner drop for Michael Kimble
On Sunday June 11 2017, international day in support with long-term anarchist prisoners, we dropped a banner from Themistokleous 58 squat in solidarity with the comrade Michael Kimble, incarcerated in Holman prison, Alabama.
Michael Kimble is a gay black anarchist serving a life sentence for taking out a white homophobic racist. Even though he has been held captive for three decades, Michael keeps resisting the everyday imprisonment by all means necessary, and also propagates violent rupture with all Power.
With this banner we send him back some of the strength we get whenever we read his incendiary texts. Hold strong, comrade: your ideas and determination reverberate to the other side of the ocean.
NO PEACE WITH THE PRISON-SOCIETY!
Fort Worth, Texas (USA): Demonstration at Carswell federal prison
After 3 days of networking, movement building and organizing at the Fight Toxic Prisons (FTP) Convergence in Denton, TX, approximately 50 organizers and revolutionaries from across the country gathered outside the Carswell federal prison Monday morning, June 5, 2017. The protest marched to the remote back gates of the facility, which is located on a massive military base that has a long history of environmental contamination and contains a repressive, secretive Administrative Unit.
Today’s demonstration kicked-off of an international effort to demand the immediate closure of Carswell’s Administrative Unit, a unit similar to draconian Communication Management Units. The Carswell Admin Unit has been used to isolate female and trans political prisoners as well as prisoners with serious mental health needs.
Armed with a mobile sound system and bullhorn, the demonstration was able to create a loud disruption for guards and establish contact with prisoners across the razor wire fences with amplified chants of “You are not forgotten, you are not alone, we will fight to bring you home!”
Prisoners replied with waves and raised fists as they viewed banners reading “Close Carswell Admin Unit Now!”, “Free Aafia Siddiqui” and “Fight Toxic Prisons.”
Demonstrators highlighted political prisoners currently held in the facility, such as Dr. Aafia Siddiqui, Marius Mason and Ana Belen Montes, all of whom have experienced extreme sentences and isolation as a result of their political and/or religious affiliations.
They also noted a decade of extensive complaints regarding abuse, mold and medical neglect among the general population, handing out a printed collection of these stories in the surrounding neighborhood and passers-by.
For more info visit CloseCarswell.wordpress.com and FightToxicPrisons.org
If you want to help support the above prisoners, please see their websites:
Dr. Aafia Siddiqui: www.aafiamovement.com
Marius Mason: www.supportmariusmason.org
Ithaca, New York (USA): Graffiti for June 11th & Marius Mason
Graffiti found in Ithaca, NY along Cascadilla Creek. Written in solidarity with Marius Mason and all anarchist prisoners on June 11th.
Komotini (Greece): Banner drop for Sean Swain
On Monday, June 12th 2017, we hung a banner at the Old Law School in Komotini as a small sign of solidarity with all long-term anarchist prisoners. We do not forget the comrade Sean Swain.
– Utopia A.D. anarchist squat
Melbourne (Australia): Action at Flinders St station
We acknowledge that we are standing on stolen land and respect tradional owners and sovereignty never ceded, aboriginal deaths in custody in so called austalia must stop as Aboriginal prison rates soar despite recommendations in to the royal commision into aboriginal deaths in custody since 1987, as in recommendation 92: Imprisonment should be utilised only as a sanction of last resort. Solidarity to long term anarchist prisoners. Their inside for us we are outside for them. Bbut we can not forget about the prison industrial complex within australia that is part of the colonisation of so called australia. Solidarity to all long term anarchist prisoners.
New Orleans, Louisiana (USA): Banner & graffiti
New York City, New York (USA): Graffiti in solidarity with Marius Mason
We just wanted to share a message writ large in the belly of the beast that Marius might enjoy. We wrote ‘Visualize Industrial Collapse’ approximately 90 feet wide and 8 feet tall on a fence in Brooklyn with the infrastructure and financial symbols of Manhattan across the East River as a backdrop.
We weep at the thought of the heinous, all-too-familiar devastation called Progress that was wrought on the once lush forests of these islands after settler-colonialism forced the indigenous Lenape off of them. We grow tired of the condo-dwelling yuppies that displace us through gentrification. We hone our skills, preparing to attack.
For anarchy, against civilization.
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (USA): Posters for anarchist prisoners
As a small show of solidarity with anarchist prisoners I put up posters in West Philly and South Philly. Along the way I also took down some annoying infowars and right libertarian stickers.
Fire to the Prisons
For a Dangerous June
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (USA): Sabotage of machines for Dangerous June
During the first half of dangerous June some machines decided to experiment with freedom. They expressed their solidarity with J20 arrestees and anarchists facing repression worldwide before taking their own liberating actions:
* Four security cameras flew away from their posts to see the rest of the world.
*A digital advertising billboard by a highway got a makeover.
*Four fare checking machines tried new foods and got constipated.
*A door to a security force’s building chose to sleep in and delay work.
-Mutinous Machines Solidarity Cell – Philadelphia
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (USA): Solidarity march
Pittsburgh anarchists held a march in solidarity with anarchist prisoners on June 11th, 2017. Full marching band in tow, the group disrupted traffic patterns and whatever the fuck else gross yuppie shit goes down on Butler Street, Pittsburgh’s “hipster” strip. Banners in solidarity with Eric King, Marius Mason, and Fernando Bárcenas were on display, along with other anti-prison banners.
After the march, a picnic and info fair was held near by, where t-shirts and buttons were traded in exchange for commissary funds for Joseph Buddenberg, Nicole Kissane, Eric King, and Marius Mason.
Until Every Cage Is Empty
Portland, Oregon (USA): Tabling & food distribution
The flyers said 12PM. The Facebook event page (how I hate myself for typing those words) said 12PM. We had every intention of being there by 12PM. At 12:20, we finally rolled up.
The open spot on the street right in front of the staging area was like a sign of fate – and we considered ourselves forgiven for our tardiness (damn lazy anarchists!!). For those of you who’ve tried finding parking in any metro downtown, you know what a tax on one’s patience this usually is. Even showing up 20 minutes late, we were still the first people there. Just before arriving, our other comrade had called us to give us the heads up that it was technically illegal to set up a table in the park.
We saw the pigs 50 feet away and debated if we should just try setting up on the sidewalk instead. (The point of our action was to hand out zines and food, not fight with the cops, and for once we thought it best not to antagonize.) One in our group remembered that another comrade was bringing a banner with posts to dig into the ground, so we figured we’d take our chances in the park. Glad we went with that hunch, because the pigs paid us (almost) no mind after all.
Shortly after carting all the supplies over to the staging area, a human walked up and introduced themselves to us as a friend of a trusted comrade. We welcomed them, and they helped us setup the table with all the food and zines. Soon, other comrades arrived with another table and more food. Then our banner arrived in all it’s glory to truly make our event feel official. We battled hardily with the wind to get that banner raised, but in the end we were triumphant. Thanks to some liberated bookends from a designer store, our zines managed to mostly stay on the table as well.
We had Fleet Week as our backdrop, so there were lots of young Navy sailors walking by as well as families come to tour the guts of the giant war machines parked in our river. The crowd was surprisingly diverse and not as capital R republican as one would expect. We even managed to get some lit into the hands of some sailors. Many people seemed baffled at the idea of a free lunch (anarchists know no other kind!), and we had to fend off a number of attempts to hand us cash. “Who just gives out food?” “What’s the catch!?” “But somebody had to pay for it, right?” “Well, can I give you a donation?”
We managed to get zines into most people’s hands, with an emphasis on lit focusing on the flaws and failures of democracy, as well as basics of what anarchism means. My favorite moment was handing a comic explaining the failings of capitalism to a kid no older than 5 and his dad asking if he wanted to read it together later.
Most people were receptive, if not outright thankful, and the few jerks in the crowd mostly kept their comments to themselves. At one point, a socialist Sikh came to my personal defense as a guy got in my face about getting a real job. (I work in food service, he does construction. I commented that many people would say construction wasn’t a “real job” either, at which he got indignant that I bite my thumb at his heaps and heaps of money.) We didn’t convert the socialist, but at least he’ll think better of us next time he watches the 5 O’clock news. In fact, we had quite a bit of luck opening dialogues with people who were ignorant of what we were really about.
Turns out lots of people trust everything they see the news say about us, so this was a great opportunity to bash liberals together and champion no taxes and generally confuse the right wingers who confused us anarchists with run-of-the-mill Dems (Blechh!!). Of course, since we took this action to show solidarity with anarchist prisoners, we had lots of literature on folx behind bars as well. Sean Swain’s story in particular is a good one to tell fence sitting conservatives to at least get them to listen to what you’ve got to say. Show mothers the picture of Jeremy Hammond and you can see them become visibly moved. Sunday was immensely humbling as we got to share the stories of our comrades with people who may have never heard of their struggles otherwise. From the octogenarian couple who stopped for granola bars and left with a handful of zines to the crust punk from Salt Lake City who wants to start a collective and an infoshop, we reached so many different types of people who hopefully feel empowered to fight the State or at least support those of us who do.
We were starting to run out of reading material and food when reinforcements came in the form of more zines and a couple cases of Lara Bars. With the added supplies, we managed to hold the space from about 12:30 to 6:30. We ran through most of the food we had, excepting about a dozen bagels. We also managed to deplete the bulk of our zines, with only a small reserve left over.
As one comrade pointed out, since people were actively coming to our table as opposed to just taking what was being handed out the likelihood that they’ll get read is significantly better. On top of all the people we reached just because they passed by us, we had several people tell us they intentionally came back after passing by earlier. We also had a couple pigs come over to chat. They didn’t hassle us or ask us to move on, and we managed to get some literature into their hands. Maybe, if we’re real lucky, they’ll trade in those blue uniforms for black masks, but I’m not gonna hold my breath.
Lots of folks were interested in how to get involved or how to start actions in their own town. Luckily, we had several zines on how to organize marches, etc., as well as a stack of zines explaining affinity groups. Here’s hoping our action resulted in more people joining us in the street. To wrap everything up, below we’ve broken down all the numbers (if you’re the wonky kind of anarchist who enjoys that sort of thing…). All numbers are rough estimates, on the conservative side.
$1000: Amount in USD of food given away. All food was dumpstered or expropriated from gentrifying chains.
15: Number of meaningful interactions and discussions lasting over 5 minutes
25: Number of positive interactions involving some sort of praise of anarchists
100+: Number of positive interactions involving individual taking food
100+: Number of positive interactions involving individual taking zines
4: Number of negative interactions with individual expressing anti-anarchist sentiments
Stanwood, Michigan (USA): Demonstration at Nestle’s Ice Mountain bottling plant in hometown of Marius Mason
Lake Effect EF! demonstrated at Nestle’s Ice Mountain bottling plant on June 11 in Stanwood MI, the hometown of Marius Mason. Marius had organized with Sweetwater Alliance against Nestle’s bottling plant and waterwells in Mecosta County, as well as the water shut offs in Detroit in the early 2000’s.
Nestle is currently seeking a permit to increase their withdrawal at White Pine Springs Well #101 from 250 gallons per minute to 400 gallons per minute. Additionally water shutoffs continue in Detroit with 19,000 residents currently losing their access to water. Bottled water has been utilized as a false solution to the Flint Water Crisis. Rather than being solutions, privatization and water table depletion will only continue to create more ecological and social problems.
We stand in solidarity with Marius and all long term anarchist prisoners. UNTIL ALL ARE FREE!
Tampere (Finland): Solidarity for June 11th
Thessaloniki (Greece): Placement of incendiary device
We perceive anarchist and antiauthoritarian spaces as structures in which we organize struggles and live collective moments outside the authoritarian relations that the State and capitalism would like to impose on us daily.
Lately, the State has carried out various attacks against squats and hangouts in Athens, Thessaloniki, Agrinio and Larissa.
In response to these attacks, during the night of 11th to 12th June 2017, we placed an incendiary device in a van belonging to AKTOR company on Makedonikis Amynis Street in Thessaloniki.
We know that this company constructs the enemy’s structures, such as the Skouries mine in the Halkidiki Peninsula, that destroys the earth for the benefit of capitalists, or the Thessaloniki metro, intended to support and strengthen the flow of capital.
We chose June 11th, international day of solidarity with anarchist prisoners facing long sentences, to express our solidarity with all captive comrades worldwide.
Fire to all prison cells.
Death to the State and Capital.
Direct action for anarchy.
ASHEVILLE, NORTH CAROLINA (USA)
Vegan cookout, presentations, and movie showing
AUSTIN, TEXAS (USA)
Fundraiser, live music, silkscreening
BLOOMINGTON, INDIANA (USA)
Anarchist reading group The Sun Still Rises by CCF
Screening of Sacco & Vanzetti & letter writing
Anarchist picnic & music
Film Screening of Chasseur de Skins
BROOKLYN, NEW YORK (USA)
Political Prisoner letter writing Dinner
BUENOS AIRES (ARGENTINA)
Almuerzo fraterno por lxs presxs anarquistas de large condena
CHICAGO, ILLINOIS (USA)
Letter writing party
CHICO, CALIFORNIA (USA)
Benefit screening of If a Tree Falls
CINCINNATI, OHIO (USA)
Goth/punx party! in solidarity with Anarchist Prisoners
COLUMBUS, OHIO (USA)
Listening party and potluck
DENTON, TEXAS (USA)
Fight Toxic Prisons 2017 Convergence
Vegan ice cream brunch to support anarchist prisoners
HOUSTON, TEXAS (USA)
Film showing and dinner
HUNTINGTON, WEST VIRGINIA (USA)
Punk show for June 11th
LAKE WORTH, FLORIDA (USA)
Film screening & fundraiser
LIVE OAK, FLORIDA (USA)
Solidarity rally at Suwannee Correctional
Action at Flinders Street Station
MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA (USA)
Letter writing, potluck, and movie screening
MONTPELIER, VERMONT (USA)
Potluck & letter writing
OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA (USA)
Potluck & letter writing
OLYMPIA, WASHINGTON (USA)
Sing Me Home: Album Release and Benefit Show
OMAHA, NEBRASKA (USA)
Fundraiser for anarchist prisoners
PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA (USA)
All you can eat vegan cookout
PITTSBURGH, PENNSYLVANIA (USA)
March & picnic
PORTLAND, OREGON (USA)
Call for Community Food Distribution
RUTLAND, OHIO (USA)
Musical lunch-in with songs by Marius
TORONTO, ONTARIO (CANADA)
Letter writing & movie screenings
YPSILANTI, MICHIGAN (USA)
Street party & benefit concert