Banner drop in solidarity with the comrades who once again clashed with the patriotic mob that hit the streets of Berkeley on April 15th 2017. We don’t recognize any fatherland, we don’t kneel down before any national symbol, and we don’t dialog with any sort of fascists: we crush them!
STAY STRONG BERKELEY
FUCK ALL PATRIOTS
Themistokleous 58 Squat, Exarchia
Here in Portland, we have a long and productive history of anarchists performing vital city functions.
Maybe you saw the photos. Members of a group calling themselves “Portland Anarchist Road Care” posing in one of our craggy streets, asphalt mix and tamping tools at the ready, with their hands in the air, birds literally and figuratively extended toward City Hall for its failure to perform basic infrastructure maintenance tasks. I know many people saw the pictures, chuckled to themselves and thought, “Only in Portland.”
Here in Portland, we have a long and productive history of anarchists performing vital city functions. I know this because I myself dabbled in anarchism for a brief period in the 1980s. In the months after Walter Mondale’s stunning defeat against Ronald Reagan, I remember feeling like my country had been stolen from me. The time for conventional activism was gone, and anarchism was the only thing I could think of that would allow my voice to be heard.
During my time as an anarchist, I never filled any potholes, but I participated in a number of political operations that demanded me to perform a wide range of mundane and underappreciated city services. For example, me and the other anarchists would always go out after heavy rains and wind to clear debris from storm drains. If you never had a flash flood in your part of Portland during the 1980s, there’s a good chance you have me and my anarchist brethren to thank. We would also sometimes go to city parks late at night and break into the restrooms to clean them.
By far our most popular service—and the one that brought us the most recognition—was that every Saturday we would open up our meeting hall and invite our neighbors to come on down with family heirlooms, knickknacks, memorabilia, etc., and we would appraise these items, free of charge. At its peak, this event would draw 100 or more people from across the area who would wait all day for the chance of a few minutes with Mike Demonhorn, an anarchical antiques dealer. As chance would have it, a PBS producer came to one of these Saturday appraisal festivals and was so taken with the concept that he pitched it as a TV show, which went on to become the long-running TV series Antiques Roadshow.
In 1988, when the United States decided the best person to replace Reagan was none other than his second-in-command George Herbert Walker Bush, all of my greatest fears were redoubled and all of my blind optimism about Michael Dukakis was dashed against the rocks. I wondered if I had actually accomplished anything during my time as an anarchist, or if all of our sly political commentary disguised as action was for naught. I asked Demonhorn what he thought about it: “Demon, I get that by doing these things we’re implicitly exposing the shortcomings of our government, and shining a light on exactly how much it doesn’t do for us. But we just got signed up for four more years of bullshit. Can anyone hear us?”
Demon replied, “Mitchy, my man, this is the long con. They’re doing it. We’re doing it. Did you see that guy who was in here earlier with that big, bulky, wooden rocking chair? I told him it was a piece of junk, so he looked at me and asked, ‘So I should just get rid of it?’ But it’s actually a Charles Rohlfs original. Which is really good. The Stradivarius of rocking chairs, if you really want to know.” Demon nodded enthusiastically at his achievement. “Now is that going to effect change right away all by itself? No, probably not. But it’s a start.”
PDF links are at the bottom.
Text: R.I.P. 4/20
Cannabis culture was a thing before it was a national brand fronted by a couple of activists-turned-entrepreneurs. It wasn’t a single or unified thing, but rather a bunch of different cultures that looked different across generations, across provinces or regions, between urban and rural places, and depending on who was smoking it. What weed means to you is probably not the same as what it means to me, or to your parents, or to another potsmoker who you don’t know.
We’re not all lazy stoners, not all activists, not all hippies or skaters or college bros. We don’t all love our relationship with marijuana but some of us do. Some of us are involved in the industry and some of us are just smokers. Some of us do it to manage pain, to chill out or to cope with a fucked up world. Some of us just do it for fun. But there are certain things that, until recently, we all had in common. The biggest one is that until recently we were all, to some extent, involved in something that was illegal.
Those of us who are used to doing illegal things know how to sneak around a bit. We know how to make a connection without advertising. We know how to learn about something without going to school or even to the public library, sometimes even without going online. And we all know that you can’t 100% trust the police or the government. We know that just because something is illegal doesn’t mean it’s wrong and that just because somebody got in trouble doesn’t mean they did something bad. We know that the cops are, at least sometimes, our enemies and not our friends. We have, at least once, seen those blue and red flashing lights and felt anxiety, hatred or fear rather than relief and safety. This makes even those of us who are otherwise pretty well off in society different from other white, middle-class folks, many of whom naively assume that the government has our best interests at heart and that the cops are there to keep us all safer.
As an anarchist, I think these are useful things to know and feel because I think that the government is unjust and not to be trusted. I don’t want people getting caught or going to jail, but I do want less people to feel good when they see a cop on the corner. I want people to at least on some level understand that police and laws are not inherently good things. For that reason, as well as for a multitude of personal reasons, I have always felt a certain sense of affinity and love for stoners. I don’t think that weed is always good for all people and I have met a lot of smokers who were assholes, but anybody who has ever made a drug deal knows on some level not to trust the police, and that’s a good thing.
Now they’re going to legalize the plant and the product, and all of this is about to change. Most of the stoners I know think that this is a good thing, and I understand why. Nobody wants to go to jail or deal with months or years of court and lawyer bullshit just because they wanted to get high or make a few dollars. Getting arrested and going to jail are terrible things – they can ruin lives, tear people away from their family and friends, cost a lot of time and money and really fuck people over.
And yet, I think legalization is going to ruin weed. Stoner culture is illegal culture, and you really can’t separate the two. There’s a reason I tend to get along better with potsmokers – it’s because they tend to be a fairly skeptical bunch with a libertarian streak and a general distrust for authority. People who drink alcohol also like to get ‘high’ in a sense, but they don’t share those traits. That is largely because alcohol is not illegal, subcultural or underground. It’s just normal. If weed becomes normal it will be less cool, less edgy, less inclined to attract people who are looking for something a little different in this world. And that’s a bad thing for anybody who prefers a dirty living room full of chilled out high people to a slick, hopping night club on a Saturday night.
“In Holland, the coffee-shop culture is dead. It’s over and out. That culture is gone. It’s like booze now. We exist because we know how to talk to the police people and the tax department. It’s business.”
– Henk de Vries, Dutch cannabis entrepreneur.1
What’s more, poor, racialized and otherwise already-fucked-over smokers and dealers are going to keep right on getting fucked. Sure, there are a few entrepreneurial rich and mostly white folks who are looking to strike it rich by cashing in their grow op skills to start a massive, legal licensed operation in a factory. But that’s not most people who are currently involved in black-market weed. Most people who are growing or selling are doing it because it’s illegal – because they can’t handle or just don’t want to work a straight job, because they can’t make enough money on minimum wage, or because they already have a record and can’t find work. These people are not going to become legal weed entrepreneurs. They’re either going to be left totally stranded, or they’re going to get involved in other black market enterprises, often things that are way more shitty, violent and harmful than selling a plant that gets you high and/or kills your pain. An industry that used to be a way for broke people to supplement their income, or unemployable people to make a few dollars, will be transformed into yet another cash grab for big pharma and a lucky few capitalists. Think about the person or people who sold you your bud over the years, and I’ll wager most of you know that this is true.
Anarchism is the belief that we would all be better off with anarchy than with the system of government and capitalist control that we currently have. Anarchy is living without rulers of any kind, be they cops or politicians, bosses or corporations. It’s being in control of our own lives, rather than being controlled by those who set the food prices, make the laws, give us our shitty paychecks or welfare deposits and patrol the borders. It’s autonomy. It’s freedom.
For more info, check out:
A lot of those small dealers and growers are already being edged out by so-called medical marijuana and by grey-market open dispensaries that can afford to break the current laws to make a buck. Tolerant police forces and local governments, combined with a sense that legalization is coming soon, has already transformed a large part of pot culture into an ultra-capitalist, ultra-specialized culture populated by entrepreneurs and big corporations.
Open dispensaries that defy the law could maybe be cool if they were local operations, supporting the communities that they took cash from. In a few places, this is what’s happening. But the majority of dispensaries are big capitalists with big money, opening now in hopes that they’ll be the ones to cash in on what is already Canada’s largest agricultural product when it becomes legal and legitimate. There has always been big money in weed, from import-export markets in the 1970s, to organized crime rackets, to huge farm operations on the West Coast. But there has also always been room for small-timers because those who were big could not afford to flaunt it, to advertise, to openly edge out their competition, because small-scale operations had the advantage of less police scrutiny. Now the biggest of these capitalists are making their bid to control the market before it becomes legal, and most of the dispensaries are their strategy. It looks like some of them are fighting a losing battle, because the federal government has announced an extremely regulated and controlled path to legalization that may well kill off some of these big capitalists along with your dealer on the corner. Let’s not mourn them or act like their rule would have been any better than the government’s.
High Times used to be a sketchy, alternative publication for hippies and those on the margins. Now its biggest section is its business section. There are conventions, advertisements and product placements. There are storefronts and factories. Potency and variety of product availability has increased drastically under this regime, but at what cost? New extracts will get you way more high with way less product than smoking a joint would, but they are made either in expensive corporate labs or at great risk to personal safety. Instead of just buying “weed” and hoping that it’s “good” we can now go to a store and choose from a variety of strains guaranteed to provide a variety of effects. Some dispensaries look like old-school pharmacies, while others look like candy shops.
All of this is fun, convenient and safer for some of us, to be sure, but it comes at a great cost. We are taking something that was in our own hands or the hands of our communities, something that we could and did produce in basements, back yards and friends’ closets, and handing it over to big corporations and eventually to the government. This is one of the last remaining things that we use regularly that we have a decent chance of either making ourselves, or actually knowing and having a relationship with the person who made it and/or brought it to us. For most of us, we can’t say that about our food, clothing, cars, alcohol, really anything at all. And many of us are willingly giving away this last little tiny piece of relative autonomy in favour of a weed shop with as much choice as the breakfast cereal aisle.
The private dispensaries may or may not survive the Canadian government’s legalization plan. They might survive in some provinces or regions and not in others. But either way, let’s all consider what they really brought us and whether it is really and truly worth the loss. We were already expanding our knowledge of this plant on our own in secret. We could have experimented more, shared our skills and knowledge like we always did, and made it great on our own. We could have shared it with our ill or injured friends in need of medicine and our bored friends in need of a good high. We did not need big corporations and the government to take it from us, but many of us knowingly and willingly gave it all away.
What’s capitalism? Let’s take it back to 1893 for a still-relevant answer from old-school anarchist fighter Emma Goldman:
“Everything wrong, crime and sickness and all that, is the result of the system under which we live. Were there no money, and as a result, no capitalists, people would not be over-worked, starved and ill-housed, all of which makes them old before their time, diseases them and makes them criminals. To save a dollar the capitalists build their railroads poorly, and along comes a train, and loads of people are killed. What are their lives to him if by their sacrifice he has saved money? But those deaths mean misery, want and crime in many, many families”
For some more contemporary answers, also check out:
Pot activists – the Marc and Jodie Emerys of the world – are to blame. They acted like it was for the people, but many of them are cashing in now (or pissed off that their plans to cash in have been foiled by a tough-on-crime legalization plan). They have won and now they are scrambling to make sure they are among the chosen few selected to make some money in this new economy. Some of them knew all along that this is how things would end up, and some of them were likely misguided or just didn’t stop to think for long enough, but they’re all to blame.
People who didn’t differentiate between decriminalization or looser drug laws and legalization for the purpose of control and regulation are to blame for taking a “take what we can get” approach without stopping for a minute to see what’s plainly obvious – that the government only wants to legalize this so that they can control it better, and that it’s not a good thing if we are more controlled. A lot of people who supported decriminalization/legalization because they were tired of getting busted are about to wake up to the fact that the industry that they lived and worked in is on its way out, replaced by an LCBO-like weed shop or a Shoppers Drug Market-like private dispensary, and they’re out of a job.
Large-scale capitalist dealers, paraphernalia and cultivation supply companies, and ambitious large growers are to blame for seeing a window into a world where they could make way more money than they ever could in an illegal economy and jumping right on in, throwing all the smaller players under the bus.
Big pharma and now big cultivation is to blame for cashing in on the demand for medical marijuana, but patients and activists are to blame for not seeing that one coming. It seems pretty obvious that you can’t trust a pharmaceutical company.
Trudeau supporters and voters, especially the potheads and youth who flocked to him because of his pro-legalization agenda, are to blame for begging the government to regulate, control and surveil us even more than they already do.
And of course, the government and the huge licensed producers who are now going to make a killing on this “new” industry are the most to blame for all of this. But a lot of us helped them do it, begged them to do it, are now celebrating they have done it. And fuck that.
Honestly, I think we’re pretty screwed. There might have been a good chance of stopping this a few years ago, but now that the dispensaries are up and running, the capitalists are exalting the fact that Canada’s largest agricultural product is now legitimate, and the government has just announced a legalization plan, it’s probably too late to go back to the underground from whence we came. But I do have a few ideas to take away from all of this.
1. Stop supporting it. Stop being a legalization advocate. Stop patting pot activists and Justin Trudeau on the back for this. Be angry.
2. Refuse to celebrate this false victory. Be the buzz-kill in your circle of friends when they want to throw a party for legal weed.
3. If you can, keep supporting black market weed as long as it exists and as long as you can find it. Keep your connections with others who, for whatever reason, chose to or had to live a little bit outside of the law.
4. Break other laws. Buy psychadelic mushrooms, unpasteurized milk, and contraband tobacco. Scam, steal and cheat the system whenever you can. Put up posters and graffiti. Protest, riot, revolt. Refuse to be controlled.
4. Remember this the next time you’re about to ask the government for something. They will do what is best for their own control over your life.
5. Remember this the next time you see somebody trying to sell you convenience at the expense of autonomy. Don’t confuse consumer choice for genuine freedom.
6. If legalization means that you now never find yourself in conflict with the law or authority because pot laws were the only laws you had to break, consider how wealth or white privilege are giving you that unfair advantage. Side with the poor, the non-white, and the illegal, not the government and corporations.
LISTEN HERE: http://archive.org/details/AnarchyRadio04252017
Anti-fa? Yes, but…Zombies of the week. Documenta 14/postmodernity/March
for Science. No more play for kindergartners, groundwater going. Acid attacks
on big rise in UK. More nightclubs are anti-cell phone. Website best way to con-
nect with ill friend. Where’s the post-left, anti-civ pulse of anarchy?? Latest from
The Brilliant. “Panic Attack”: “society is a stew of unease, fear, rage, grief, help-
lessness and humiliation.” Action briefs, three calls.
Italy – A letter from anarchist comrade Anna Beniamino (Croce Nera Anarchica a-periodical, issue no.3, pages 2-4)
From Act for Freedom
The prosecution in Turin have decided to put an entire anarchist tendency on trial: anti-organisation Anarchism. This isn’t a sensationalist and defensive overstatement, it’s what Turin’s investigating judge, Anna Ricci, enacted with the arrest warrants issued in July 2016, and enforced in September, probably to avoid disrupting the summer holidays of some pubic official.
The inquisitors’ choice is clear from the ridiculous framework that appeared in the arrest warrant papers, a product of the deleterious encounter between the mind of some cop and the rushed reading of a wikipedia summary. The framework gives shape to a repressive-Manichean vision of a ‘social anarchy’, a good and harmless one, and an (anti-social and anti-classist) ‘individual anarchy’, violent and palatable to repression, whose method is the ‘anti-organization model’.
By making the necessary distinctions, this framework aims to define a specific camp, to create a cage, so that from a generic ‘insurrectionism’, (a sub-product of the anti-organization model), always violent and liable to punishment to varying degrees, sub-species can be pulled out to form different strands of the investigation1 for Italian cops: ‘classic insurrectionism’, ‘social insurrectionism’, ‘eco insurrectionism’ and the ‘informal anarchist federation’.
That different tensions and tendencies exist within Anarchism is a fact, but it’s also true that this type of rigid categorisation is an inherent feature of the mindset and requirements of the inquisitors, who are set on delineating a specific area in order to make their manoeuvres as best they can: it is within this space that the following operation lies.
Historically, solidarity with revolutionary prisoners has been a focal point of interest for anarchists and a way to come together and build a rebellious sensibility: revolutionary solidarity not solidarity with revolutionaries.
Devised by Turin’s Digos and prosecutors back in 2012, in the wake of 20 years of recurring and failed repressive attempts, operation Scripta Manent led to the arrest of 5 anarchists: A.M., V.S., D.C., M.B., A.B., all already under investigation and/or arrested following various anarchist publications on action and repression, specifically, Pagine in Rivolta 2, the Croce Nera Anarchica bulletin3, KNO3 4. In addition, there were the arrest warrants for A.C. and N.G., two comrades in prison since 2012 following an attack on the managing director of Ansaldo Nucleare, Adinolfi, which was claimed in court in October 2013 as the Olga Nucleus (FAI/FRI). For years, they’d been known as the editors of Pagine in Rivolta and Alfredo had already been prosecuted for KNO3.
Four other anarchists have been put under investigation, all of whom were imprisoned during the Ardire operation 5, part of which converges into these current legal proceedings, along with 4 more whose arrests the judge refused to validate in the July warrant and led to the prosecutor’s unsuccessful appeal attempt in October 2016. In addition, 32 raids were carried out across Italy, during which a comrade and editor of CNA was arrested and is still being held in prison under the AS2 regime6.
-The investigation is still underway-
The operation is being led by prosecutor Roberto Sparagna, new to so-called anti-terrorism proceedings but well-known for having run trials for so-called organised crime. It is unknown whether this operation was down to him or the input of Turin cops: the latter seems much more likely, as the bulk of the investigation was conducted and archived by the Digos over the years and because of little picturesque background events like the “greetings from Dr. Petronzi” (Turin’s ex-Digos chief), which Sparagna made sure to extend to the arrested during one of his interrogation attempts.
It matters little whether the prosecutor is essentially a puppet/ventriloquist or whether he’s driven by his own will; the declared intent is to repress and silence an anarchist component that has always supported, and continues to support, direct action, solidarity with revolutionary prisoners, the multiform practices of anarchist destructive action and permanent rebellion against political conformism and compliance inside and outside the milieus of the movement.
Everyone is charged with article 270bis, some since 2003, others since 2008 7 relating to FAI/FRI to various degrees, as both ‘promoters/organisers’, as well as ‘participants’.
A.C. and N.G. are also charged with article 280bis for a string of attacks8 carried out from 2005 to 2007 on the basis of what is defined as a ‘serious investigative framework’ even if, in actual fact, the same comrades had already been investigated by the same cops, with the same ‘evidence’ both shortly after the same events and in 20129, using the usual armoury of phone tapping, eavesdropping, video recording, tailing, DNA sampling, etc. and the cases had been archived.
Launched on the back of the 2012 arrests, this investigation is an attempt to apply an associative charge to the case of Adinolfi’s wounding and to investigate a whole political area of comrades who expressed solidarity with those arrested and with their action: the cops used article 270bis and their so-called ‘crimes of intent’, in order to sift through what had already passed through the hands of various Italian prosecutors, putting everything together under their jurisdiction by reviving and rehashing a series of case files that had previously been archived.
This attempt to bring everything together is also mentioned in the judicial order itself and had seeped into the media quite extensively in recent years, as well as in August 2016, with newspaper articles that described ‘anti-terrorism summits’ held between the different prosecutors and made grand claims of ‘bad masters’ and ‘violent infiltrators’ in contexts that in themselves, were democratically acceptable.
This time, having followed a temporal and logical format that inverts the classic action/repression sequence, repression is retroactively looking for unsolved actions and political positions consolidated over the course of 20 years, as a restraint and a warning against the current “excessive” shows of solidarity. These are clearly aimed at repressing unwelcome solidarity and the spread of an anarchist feeling that openly talks about prisoners and actions, publishes and supports them.
The cops’ ambitions aimed even higher, as evident in the raids, failed arrests and most of all, in the accusatory framework that spans 20 years of anarchist actions and publications.
The excursus begins with the Marini trial10 in 1996 and ends with the current Croce Nera Anarchica, tracing an optimal line that starts from critiques of how the Marini Trial was handled, passes through the various articles and claims presented in Pagine in Rivolta, KNO3 and CNA, and ends with writings containing discussions and calls to be present at the Adinolfi trial (WITH OUR HEADS HELD HIGH and HERE AND NOW) and finally, with today’s CNA.
This is why it is not an overstatement to claim that this legal proceeding is one that is being extended to an anarchist feeling, even if it is trying to hone in on the circle: cornerstones of anti-authoritarian thought and method such as direct action and the rejection of representation, affinity and informality, revolutionary solidarity and mutual aid, become, in the words and paper rubbish of inquisitors, the dangerous raw material that must be repressed as soon as it appears.
It is neither simply a ‘crime of opinion’ that’s being put on trial, nor the censorship of the democratic freedom of expression: this is the war that authority is waging against the bond between thought and action that lies at the basis of anarchism.
By trying to strike publications, blogs or any other means of communication anarchists decide to use, repression only reaffirms the validity of these means: to be a thorn in the side of subjugation and silence.
Prison of Latina
1 Turin’s prosecutors have produced several judicial proceedings based on this framework in the last two years, which resulted both in the attempts to put 3 eco anarchists who had been previously sentenced in Switzerland for attempted sabotage to IBM, on trial yet again for article 270bis and to investigate and charge anarchists engaged in a solidarity fund for prisoners, with raids and warrants, using the same article 270bis.
2 Pagine in Rivolta was published under the subtitle ‘revolutionary anarchist periodical’ from 1997 to 2002, with 14 issues that had a variable circulation that reached one thousand copies. It had articles of analysis and critique of the anarchist movement, chronologies of direct actions, claims, prisoners’ lists and news on repression.
3 [The first of the Black Cross series in the Italian language was the historical version published from 1969 to 1973 in support of Spanish anti-Francoists, with the additional involvement of Pino Pinelli and Stuart Christie’s Anarchist Black Cross.] The CNA bulletin targeted by repression is the one published from 2001 to 2005, and today’s CNA published since 2014 with a blog and a journal. The editors of Croce Nera Anarchica of 2001/2005 were the targets of the 2005 ‘Operation Croce Nera’, a 270bis operation, which led to the arrests of seven comrades that led to no avail, 3 of whom are among those investigated within Scripta Manent.
4 KNO3 came out in 2008 as a single issue that was subtitled ‘revolutionary anarchist paper’. In 2008 it was the object of a 270bis investigation, ‘Operation Shadow’, led by Perugia’s prosecutor Emanuela Comodi, in collaboration with the ROS carabinieri forces, in which the associative crime was dropped during the first degree trial; in 2015 the appeal trial resulted in a sentence against A.C. and A.B., whilst a third comrade was put under investigation for article 302 with the aggravating circumstance of terrorism linked to articles published in KNO3; other comrades were sentenced for the sabotage of a railway track and for car theft.
5 ‘Operation Ardire’ began in Perugia with prosecutor Comodi, in collaboration with ROS carabinieri forces and led to seven arrests in June 2012. It was based on article 270bis and referred to a series of attacks claimed by FAI/FRI between 2009 and 2012. The jurisdiction of the case passed from Perugia to Milan after a high court ruling in the appeal court, and for some of the accused, S.F., E.D.B.,G.P.S. and G.L.T., it was passed from Milan to Turin and brought into Scripta Manent. All those imprisoned were released in 2013 after serving the maximum term.
6 D.C. was arrested during one of the raids within Scripta Manent after electric material for common use (9-volt batteries and bulbs) was found in his home. Prosecutor Francesca Polino from Rome opened a separated proceeding against him, whilst keeping him in the high security AS2 regime.
7 From 2003, because this is the year identified as the beginning of FAI following the attack on the interior minister at the time, Prodi and because of the text that claimed responsibility for it. For some of the accused, it’s 2008, because they’d already been put under investigation for the same attack, without having been formally charged.
8 This refers to: the explosive device against the RIS carabinieri forces in Parma in October 2005, an action claimed by Coop. Artigiana Fuoco e Affini (occasionally spectacular)/FAI; the explosive/incendiary parcel sent to the then mayor of Bologna Sergio Cofferati in November 2005, also claimed by Coop. Artigiana Fuoco e Affini/FAI; the double explosive attack on the carabinieri training centre in Fossano (CN) in June 2006 claimed by FAI/RAT; the explosive/incendiary parcels sent to the then mayor of Turin Chiamparino, the director of Torino Cronaca Beppe Fossati and placed on the premises of Coema Edilitia, a company involved in the construction of the CIE in Turin in July 2006, all claimed by RAT/FAI; the 3 explosive devices set off in sequence in the Turin neighbourhood of Crocetta in March 2007 and claimed by RAT/FAI.
9 In the summer of 2012, during the investigation and subsequent arrest of A.C. and N.G., prosecutors in various Italian jurisdictions reopened a series of archived case files relating to the attacks that the FAI had claimed over the previous 10 years.
10 In 1995, about thirty anarchists were arrested and put on trial by Rome’s prosecutor Antonio Marini in collaboration with ROS carabinieri forces for article 270bis, in addition to a series of specific offences. The associative charge referring to the so-called ORAI organisation was dropped in 2004 and a sentence for subversive propaganda and other specific offences were confirmed.
From It’s Going Down
On April 22nd in celebration of Earth Day, local anarchists, Buffalo Red & Black, organized a “clean sweep,” picking up trash and sweeping the sidewalks, along Grant street on Buffalo’s West side. Many passersby approached us to give their sincere thanks. One resident intimated, “we need more of you guys out here.” In addition to the clean sweep, we handed out free snacks, beverages, and political literature: ”Know your Rights” brochures and CrimethInc.’s “To Change Everything” pamphlet. While going about our work, we had the pleasurable opportunity to talk politics with our neighbors. These talking points sparked inspiring conversations about alternatives to capitalism that are based in community building and community power.
Our clean-up initiative ran geographically parallel, yet ideologically counter, to a neighboring clean sweep of the “bourgie,” elitist Elmwood Village. The city organized clean-ups along the shoreline and in Elmwood, instrumentalizing Earth Day as advertising for the area’s businesses, bars, and restaurants that are responsible in part for environmental degradation in the first place. Meanwhile, without flows of capital to compete with Elmwood’s socio-ecological cannibalism, the elites ignored Grant street as always. Distribution of city official’s attention and monetary resources recapitulate class and racial hierarchy within the city at large. Grant street and its surrounding neighborhoods are home to many of Buffalo’s migrant, working class, and POC communities. Wealthy neighborhoods like Elmwood come at our expense, and are indeed built on the backs of the rest of us.
We will continue to clean our streets on a regular, weekly or bi-weekly basis. Through voluntary means and by free association, Buffalo Red & Black does the work that the city will not. City officials and wealthy residents have no legitimate claim to our streets. It is us who own our streets. Whose streets? Our streets!
The most recent issue of Fifth Estate — North America’s longest running anarchist publication — is out now. Issue #398 features the usual mix of articles, reviews, and announcements. The issue is themed “Revolutins, Riots, & Rebellions”. Consider a subscribing to support Fifth Estate’s 50+ years of publishing.
The contents of this issue:
- Seattle Shooting – CP & SM
- A Fascist by Any Other Name – Bill Weinberg
- The Struggle to Get Back to Zero – Peter Werbe
- Veil of the Vile – Jesús Sepúlveda
- Eat Your President – The Mormyrids
- The Russian Revolution Unfinished – SK
- Detroit Rebellion 1967 – Frank Joyce
- Can Vies Squat Defended – Scorsby and Celíaco
- Support Cleveland 4 – Amanda Schemkes
- Revolted Art Exhibit
- Anarchism & Social Security -Eric Laursen
- This is Biomorph – Fiction – Gary Ives
- Music & Revolution -Luis Chávez
- Body Cams & Surveillance – Mateo Pimente
- Virtuality & Sociopathy – Bryan Tucker
- A Busker’s Adventure – Bill Blank
- Surrealism on the Barricades – Ron Sakolsky
- Real Humans – Review – Mélusine Vertelune
- Not Your Negro – Review – Peter Werbe
- Anarchist History – Review – F.O.F.
- Texas Anti-Prison Conference
- Prison Memoirs of an Anarchist – Marius Mason
- Emma Goldman Film – Review – Bill Meyer
- Prison News
- Robb Johnson Box Set – David Rovics
More information can be found at https://www.fifthestate.org
From Plain Words
We receive and transmit:
In March of this year, an international call for solidarity during the week of April 17-23 was made for anarchists arrested for allegedly robbing banks in Aachen, Germany back in 2013 and 2014. The trial is underway as of this writing, and is expected to go run until May 22, 2017. From the call-out:
“It does not come as a surprise to us that those who oppose and fight against the misery of this world forged on domination are attacked, prosecuted and punished. We are not interested in discussing about guilt or innocence, it is the language that belongs to our enemies and we refuse it. Our enemies follow the logic of separation and categorization of individuals, in order to then have the possibility of locking up the undesirables. We share with the accused comrades an aversion to this system, and towards the prison system which perpetuates the distinction between good citizens and those who deserve to be punished.”
That banks are despicable should go without saying. They stockpile wealth from the interest charged to fund corporate, state, and military projects that make this society a living hell, as well that from small loans made to individuals, meaning they get rich because others cannot afford the cost of life in exploitative societies.
Taking hostility to banks one step further, under capitalism it is not possible to simply live freely. The earth and nearly everything in it has been colonized and commodified, so in order to survive one must have money, and in order to get money, one must perform labor that the economy deems valuable. When at work, we forfeit our autonomy to bosses, bureaucrats, and market forces, accepting a level of domination over our minute-to-minute lives that would be jaw-droppingly dictatorial if it was a government issuing the orders instead of a manager. Our activity during this time is alien to us, it’s a waste of our time, because it has no bearing on our lives except that we are given money in exchange for doing it.
Without money, the police can kick us out of our homes for not paying rent or the mortgage, and courts can send us to prison for stealing the necessities for survival. To put it another way: without money, people with guns, who can call back-up from a massively violent apparatus called “the state,” can remove us from our homes, kidnap us when we try to take food and other resources, and lock us in cages for years on end. They may even kill us, largely depending on the color of our skin. Capitalism can only exist through violence and coercion.
Because we are under assault from this society all our lives, every attack on capitalism and every expropriation of its institutions is self-defense. But that’s putting it lightly. All wealth in this world has been stolen, both from extracting resources from the earth and exploiting the work that people do. This has been happening for centuries, the total misery and destitution perpetuated by this system accumulating with every passing minute. As Monsieur Dupont puts it:
“The structure of the world was built by the dead, they were paid in wages, and when the wages were spent and they were dead in the ground, what they had made continued to exist, these cities, roads and factories are their calcified bones. They had nothing but their wages to show for what they had done and after their deaths what they did and who they were has been cancelled out. But what they made has continued into our present, their burial and decay is our present. This is the definition of class hatred. We are no closer now to rest, to freedom, to communism than they were, their sacrifice has bought us nothing, what they did counted for nothing, we have inherited nothing, we work as they worked, we make as they made, we are paid as they were paid.” 
If it was possible to measure the equivalence between the amount of money a bank heist nets with all the people over generations whose opportunity to live a free life was stolen and wasted in service of the economy, then you could not rob enough banks in your whole life to come near to closing that gap.
Timeline of Solidarity Actions
A number of actions have taken place this year before and since the call, claiming solidarity with those comrades on trial:
- January 17: 50 parking meters were covered in paint and multiple banks had their locks glued in Leuven, Belgium. One of the banks was tagged with “Solidarity with the Accused in Aachen” next to the anarchist circle-A.
- January 22: Anarchists in Den Haag, Netherlands destroyed 9 ATMs and wrote in their communique: “We are not interested in knowing whether the comrades are actually responsible for the bank robberies or not. Expropriation is an ethically just and politically legitimate practice, a method of struggle that is part of the history of all revolutionary movements.”
- January 28: Two vehicles belonging to a private security company were set on fire in Barcelona, Spain. “We do not think it necessary to justify this attack on these wretched guard dogs,” the communique states, along with “Long Live Anarchy!”
- February 2: anarchists in Mexico City bombed two ATMs, completely destroying them and causing significant damage to the bank branch they were connected to. The communique describing the attack and claiming solidarity with the Aachen case comrades was signed by “Night Cats & Evil Sorcerers Incendiary Cell FAI-FRI”
- February 9: anarchists in Belin, Germany committed an arson on a police station in anticipation “European Police Congress” taking place later that month. In addition to the Aachen case comrades, the communique claims solidarity with migrants risking their lives around Europe, recently arrested members of “Revolutionary Struggle”, and those rioting in Parisian suburbs after police raped a black man.
- April 16: a cell of the “Informal Feminist Commando of Anti-authoritarian Action” bombed an Exxon facility in Mexico City “[b]ecause nobody is untouchable! Because we are not intimidated by the heavy silence that you have imposed on your crimes based on fear and violence, and we are not intimidated by the premiere of your Secretary of State” (note: referring to Rex Tillerson, Trump’s Secretary of State who was the CEO of ExxonMobile) as stated in their communique.They write a ruthless denunciation of all nationalisms and call to “Destroy the walls! Destroy the goods! Destroy work!”
- Also April 16: A company that builds jails had their truck set on fire in Brussels, Belgium. A communique was posted to the internet the next day, claiming solidarity with comrades accused of robbery in Aachen.
- April 18: A police station in Liege, Belgium was set on fire. The act was dedicated to comrades accused of bank robbery in Aachen, and the communique begins with “We are not soldiers. We are criminals. We have no fatherland, no higher cause, we do not follow any directions other than those of ourselves. On the other hand, we are fighting. To find our lives, explore our freedoms. We fight the misery of our lives, the oppression of morals, and the grids that imprison us.”
- April 20: A bank branch was bombed in Mexico City, claimed by the “Few But Crazy Insurrectionary Cell F.A.I./F.R.I.” in solidarity with Aachen case anarchists. From the communique: “Is it necessary to explain why we attacked a bank? These shits leave people homeless, they finance military companies, companies that destroy the environment, exploiters, who chain millions with debts and false promises…They are the terrorists, they use fear with payment warnings, debt, they threaten you with eviction or to leave you with nothing. And still they will dare to say that we are the criminals, the soulless, the murderers…”
In addition to these attacks, other instances of solidarity and support are being taken up. There will be a benefit show in the UK on April 29 to raise money for them. One of the arrestees of the case wrote a letter from prison for International Day of Women’s Struggle on March 8th titled “Down with patriarchy: On the social, racist & patriarchal problems faced by women in prison.” Comrades did work posting this letter onto anarchist websites, and translating it into other languages. People do regular work hosting these internationalist anarchist news sites so that people across the world can learn about each other’s actions. All of these are ways of keeping those locked up included in contemporary struggles. Doing work like this is based on a rejection of seeing imprisoned comrades as victims to do charitable work for, which is a hierarchical relationship based on moralistic pity.
For more information on the Aachen robberies case and other internationalist news, check out the following websites:
: FAI is an acronym for ‘Informal Anarchist Federation.’ It is not an organization, but a tendency within anarchist thought and action.
The second episode of a podcast which accompanies the blog at postproletariat.wordpress.com. The work is the collective effort of a small group of anarchists (and friends) living in the SE USA. This week, our host Zhachev discusses last weeks episode, “the March for Science”, the Trump administration and the continuing resurgence of social democracy.
Nicolette – No Gov’t
Kendrick Lamar – YAH.
Jeru The Damaja – Scientifical Madness
From Anarkismo by Wayne Price
The Russian Revolution of 1917 demonstrates the dangers of a revolutionary minority taking over, setting up its own state, and substituting itself for the working class and oppressed.
The following is based on my notes for a panel presentation. I was invited to give it at the April 8, 2017, convention of the Platypus Association, a rather academic Marxist organization. The panel topic was on the meaning of the 1917 Russian Revolution for today. This is a topic widely discussed on the Left this year, the 100th anniversary of the Russian Revolution. I was to express the minority viewpoint of an anarchist (antiauthoritarian socialist). However, a rainstorm and a flight cancellation intervened and I did not give the presentation. This is more-or-less what I was going to say.
Revolutionaries study revolutions. Many lessons might be learned from looking at the 1917 Russian Revolution and its aftermath. It began with such promise, bringing hope of a world without war, oppression, capitalism, imperialism, and states. How did it result in Stalinist mass murder and state capitalism, finally to collapse back into traditional capitalism?
Possibly the most important lesson of the Russian Revolution is the difference between capitalist revolutions and working class revolutions. By “capitalist revolutions,” I mean the upheavals which replaced medieval-feudal societies with bourgeois-democratic societies, including the English Revolution of Cromwell, the American Revolution, the great French Revolution, and the mostly failed 1848 European Revolutions. By “working class revolutions”, I mean mass rebellions in which the working class plays a major role, in alliance with other exploited and oppressed sections of society—to replace capitalism with the beginning of some sort of cooperative, non-profit, system.
Today many people on the Left, including Marxists and anarchists, have given up the goal of working class revolution. Yet working class revolution was the central concept of the Marxism of Marx and Engels, as it was of the historical mainstream of socialist-anarchism, from Bakunin to Kropotkin to the anarchist-communists and anarchist-syndicalists.
Depending on the definition we use, the working class (proletarians) is either a large minority or the big majority of the population of all industrialized countries. As such, they overlap with all other oppressed sectors of the people, including women, LGBT people, people of color, immigrants, youth, oppressed nations, people with disabilities, etc., not to mention those threatened by global warming. Because of their role in the process of capitalist production, workers have a special strategic power (potentially). As workers, they have their hands on the means of production, distribution, transportation, communication, consumption, and services. If they wanted to, they could stop society from working, shutting it down. And they could, if they would, restart the economy on a new, radically democratic, cooperative, and ecological, basis—antiauthoritarian socialism.
Both capitalist and workers’ revolutions are uprisings of the mass of people against the old ruling class and its state. But what a capitalist revolution did was to replace the old masters with a new ruling class—the aristocracy with the bourgeoisie. The majority of people did get some benefits (it is better to live under a bourgeois democracy than a unlimited monarchy), but the main function of the capitalist revolution was to replace one set of rulers with another. This means that the ideology of the leaders of the revolution was always a falsehood. Bourgeois revolutionaries could not tell the peasants and artisans that they were only changing rulers. A minority would still be powerful and wealthy while all others would labor for them. Subjectively, the revolutionary leaders may or may not have believed that they were bringing “liberty, equality, fraternity” and the “rights of man” to the people, or “inalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” What mattered is what they actually did.
In contrast, the workers’ revolution must be based on the consciousness of the people, an awareness of what they are really doing. The big majority of the people—the workers, their families and dependents, peasants (still a big group around the world), and women, as well as people of oppressed races, nations, and religions, etc.—will rise up and make a revolution in their interests, under their control. Working class revolutionaries must tell the truth. Even at times when it is unpopular to do so, they must say what is.
Differences Between Capitalist and Workers’ Revolutions
At the core of capitalism is the market. Commodities are produced in order to exchange for money and for each other on the market. This includes the commodity of human labor power, the ability of the workers to work for a period of time, which they sell for wages or salaries. (This is an unusual commodity since it produces more wealth than it costs the capitalist to buy [hire] it, which is to say it creates the basis of profit.) Despite the growth of semi-monopolies and government intervention, the market is not really controlled by anyone, including the capitalist class. In its essence, it runs on its own, ultimately obeying only the “laws” of supply and demand, of what Adam Smith called the “invisible hand” or what Marx called “the law of value.”
The job of a capitalist revolution is to clear the way for the free play of the market. It is to get rid of feudal regulations, aristocratic limitations, slavery, serfdom, guild rules, and monarchial licenses. The revolution establishes a new state, which works to set up the basic conditions of capitalism: an accumulation of wealth, available to be capital, and a “free” population of propertyless workers (not serfs or urban artisans), needing to sell their labor to the capitalists in order to live. The state may intervene in the capitalist economy to a greater or lesser extent, but it does so in order to keep production for the market going.
So long as it does this, the exact nature of the capitalist state may vary enormously. It could be a relatively democratic republican state, with universal suffrage for all adults. It could be a military junta or a police state. It could be a totalitarian fascist regime. The capitalist class may have much direct influence (as in a capitalist democracy) or very little (as in various dictatorships). In general the capitalists prefer to run their own businesses and let someone else manage the state; even in a capitalist democracy, they mostly hire professional politicians to run the government. But as long as the state maintains capitalist production and the market, the system remains capitalist and the state is a capitalist state. A revolution which establishes such a state (in any of its possible forms) is a capitalist revolution.
In contrast, the modern working class is a collective, cooperative, force. Workers do not “own” three feet of factory assembly line, nor their own cubicle in an office, nor five square feet of an auto body shop. In this they are unlike stock-owning capitalists, slave-owning lords, or even land-owning peasants. The individual workers own nothing of the means of production. They must work together to produce (distribute, etc.) goods, not only with their immediate fellow workers but also with workers in other workplaces, who make the material which goes into their own products, and those who distribute the produced goods. Unless the workers collectively and democratically manage the economy together, they cannot be truly said to manage the economy (or any other part of society). If they do not run industry together, then they continue to be on the bottom, taking orders from someone else, some boss, still exploited, dispossessed, and oppressed.
This means that some other social force cannot manage society for the workers. This is unlike capitalism, where all sorts of groupings may manage the state and society for the capitalist class. No one else can substitute for the working class, if they are to be free. In particular, this means that no layer of state bureaucrats can stand in for the workers. Contrary to the Trotskyists, there can be no such thing as a bureaucratic-ruled “degenerated” or “deformed workers’ state.”
Anarchists and Marxists define the state as a bureaucratic-military socially-alienated machine, with layers of specialized armed people and professional politicians and bureaucrats, which stands above the rest of society and dominates it. It would be impossible for the mass of workers and formerly oppressed to self-govern through such a social mechanism. The existence of a state means the domination over the working class, which would still be at the bottom of society, taking orders. It would mean the rule of some minority class, whether or not this class claimed to substitute itself for the workers. In short, there can be no such thing as a “workers’ state,” period.
The lack of a state does not mean the absence of social coordination, planning, or self-defense. The people could organize themselves through federations of workplace councils, neighborhood assemblies, and militia units (the armed people, so long as necessary). This would not be a state above society; it would be the self-organization of the working people. When everyone (or at least all the formerly exploited) governs, then there is no government.
The Russian Revolution of 1917 and After
From an anarchist perspective, a great deal could be said about the Russian Revolution (for an overview, see the chapter on the “Russian Revolution” in Price 2007). For example: the “October Revolution” overthrew the unelected, pro-war, pro-capitalist Provisional Government (which had followed the overthrown Czarist monarchy). In its place, the October Revolution officially established the radically democratic power of the soviets. These were directly elected councils, created by the people, and rooted in factory committees, peasant assemblies, and military units.
The “October Revolution” is often mistakenly called the “Bolshevik Revolution.” Actually it was organized by a united front of Lenin’s Bolshevik Party, Left Social Revolutionaries (pro-peasant populists), and anarchists. When the new soviet power was established, it had a coalition government of Bolsheviks (re-named the Communist Party) and Left SRs (the Communists had almost no base among the peasants, the vast majority of the population)—with support in the soviets from the anarchists.
The history of the early Soviet Union is one of the Communists antagonizing the other left socialist parties and groups, driving them out of the government and the soviets, outlawing them, arresting and shooting their members. This began before the Civil War and foreign invasion and continued after it. Meanwhile, there had been opposition caucuses within the Communists, composed of revolutionaries who had believed in the democratic-libertarian promises of Lenin. Such groupings were driven out of the one legal party and banned. By 1921, the Russian state had become a one-party police state. This was under the rule of Lenin and Trotsky and after the Civil War had been won. (This summary is extremely condensed and controversial. Again, see Price 2007.)
It was not substitutionist for Lenin and his co-thinkers to form a political party or for other socialists to form a revolutionary organization with those who agree with them. Such an organization could serve to develop theory and program. It could fight to spread its ideas and strategies among the workers and others. (There is an historical trend of anarchists who have advocated such organizing, including Bakunin, Malatesta, Makhno, and the FAI-ists.) This is a revolutionary minority seeking to win over the majority. It is not counterposed to the self-organization of the working class and oppressed. It is a crucial part of that self-organization.
What was substitutionist was the idea that the revolutionary party could stand in for the working class, that it could run the state in the interests of the workers and peasants, even against the opposition of the people. From the beginning of the revolution, the Bolsheviks held that only they knew how to lead the revolution, and that the solution was for them to get state power. (Even though, for most of their history, the Bolsheviks, like the Mensheviks, had falsely held that the Russian Revolution would stay within the limits of a capitalist revolution.) Once the October Revolution had occurred, they set up a new government, uncontrolled by the soviets. They gerrymandered and did other things to keep themselves in power. They might have formed a united front with other parties which supported the soviets (Left SRs, Left Mensheviks, anarchists). Instead, they pushed the other left parties out of power and out of the soviets. They set up an uncontrolled secret police with the power to arrest and shoot opponents. They killed off the factory committees and stratified the unions, running industry through appointed managers. They set up a centralized state planning agency to manage the economy (which never worked well).
This was done under Lenin and Trotsky, setting the framework for Stalin’s totalitarian rule. Of course, there were objective problems, including the aftermath of a world war, a revolution, and a civil war in a poor, peasant-majority country. But Lenin and Trotsky did not say that these were temporary measures due to exceptional unfavorable circumstances. Instead they declared that one-party rule was a principle of the “dictatorship of the proletariat.” Even most of the oppositions developing within the Communist Party agreed with the principle of one-party dictatorship. This included Trotsky’s Left Opposition, which continued to uphold the Communist Party dictatorship until the mid-thirties (by which time the Russian Trotskyists were smashed).
Substitutionism Creates State Capitalism
By the thirties, all remnants of workers’ power had been eliminated from Soviet Russia. The state had a structure essentially the same as in Nazi Germany. The bureaucracy ruled uncontested. The economy was almost entirely nationalized. The working class and peasants were beaten down, oppressed and exploited—as were women, intellectuals, and non-Russian nationalities. What was this society?
Trotsky and most critical Communists continued to regard Stalin’s Soviet Union as a “workers’ state” of some sort. Many Marxists still see it that way, saying it was “socialist,” “post-capitalist,” or “progressive.” And therefore a regime to be supported against Western capitalist states. What most matters to these Trotskyists and others is not whether the working class actually ruled but that property was collectively owned by the state.
There were dissident Trotskyists and other Marxists who rejected this argument, holding that the Soviet Union was an exploitative class society, either state capitalist or a new type (“bureaucratic collectivism”). This was good as far as it went. But even these almost all supported the police state of Lenin and Trotsky as a good (if imperfect) workers’ state. And generally they regarded the post-Lenin Soviet Union as remaining a (distorted) workers’ state during the early years of Stalin, even if one that should have been overthrown. They held that Stalinist Russia remained a workers’ state until some turning point—such as 1929 (the big industrialization drive)
or 1934 (the great purges and mock trials). So even these unorthodox Trotskyists and others accepted substitutionism.
The nationalized, collectivized, and planned economy…never worked well. The central planners lacked feedback from below, due to the lack of workers’ democracy or democratic consumers’ cooperatives. The five-year plans were never “fulfilled.” Although the ruling bureaucracy did not hold stocks like the traditional capitalists (the bourgeoisie), the economy inevitably adopted capitalist mechanisms and acted as a statified, distorted form of capitalism. The workers’ sold their labor power to the bosses for money on a labor market. They produced goods which were sold as commodities on a market for money. The commodities they produced were worth more than the wages they received (that is, they produced surplus value, the basis of profit). State enterprises bought and sold machinery and supplies among each other, for money—so these were also commodities. Collective farms sold their food as commodities on the markets. The inefficiencies of the system were smoothed over through vast gray and black markets. Under the overall umbrella of the state, enterprises competed with each other. The enterprises, and the economy as a whole, was driven by a need for accumulation of capital. This was partly due to the whole system’s competition on the world market as well as its military arms competition with other states.
Eventually this system collapsed. In both the former Soviet Union and the People’s Republic of China, the statized economy was drastically modified. It became an openly market-based system, with stocks and bonds and billionaire oligarchs, even if still heavily intermixed with the national state. It transformed from one version of capitalism into another. The collective bureaucracy turned out to be a substitute not for the working class but for the traditional bourgeoisie.
“The emancipation of the working classes must be conquered by the working classes themselves.”
—First rule of the First International.
The main lesson of the Russian Revolution is that it is the workers and oppressed who must make and sustain the revolution. If they won’t, then there won’t be a revolution. A minority among the workers may advocate a revolutionary program and fight against various elitist trends, such as reformists, Stalinists, or fascists. But the revolutionary minority must not seek to take power for itself, to set up its own state, over and above the rest of the population—for their own good, which the revolutionaries think they know better than anyone else. Substitutions is tendency which goes back to Marx, in certain ways. The Bolsheviks did not understand its danger, before, during, or after the revolution. Instead of a new world of freedom, they founded a new authoritarianism.
In the developing radicalization of today, radicals must be aware of this danger.
Price, Wayne (2007). The Abolition of the State: Anarchist & Marxist Perspectives. Bloomington IN: AuthorHouse.
*written for www.Anarkismo.net