Thursday, February 9, 2012

Concerning the Violent Peace-Police

In response to “The Cancer in Occupy,” by Chris Hedges.
I am writing this on the premise that you are a well-meaning person who wishes Occupy Wall Street to succeed. I am also writing as someone who was deeply involved in the early stages of planning Occupy in New York.
I am also an anarchist who has participated in many Black Blocs. While I have never personally engaged in acts of property destruction, I have on more than one occasion taken part in Blocs where property damage has occurred. (I have taken part in even more Blocs that did not engage in such tactics. It is a common fallacy that this is what Black Blocs are all about. It isn’t.)
I was hardly the only Black Bloc veteran who took part in planning the initial strategy for Occupy Wall Street. In fact, anarchists like myself were the real core of the group that came up with the idea of occupying Zuccotti Park, the “99%” slogan, the General Assembly process, and, in fact, who collectively decided that we would adopt a strategy of Gandhian non-violence and eschew acts of property damage. Many of us had taken part in Black Blocs. We just didn’t feel that was an appropriate tactic for the situation we were in.
This is why I feel compelled to respond to your statement “The Cancer in Occupy.” This statement is not only factually inaccurate, it is quite literally dangerous. This is the sort of misinformation that really can get people killed. In fact, it is far more likely to do so, in my estimation, than anything done by any black-clad teenager throwing rocks.
Let me just lay out a few initial facts:
1. Black Bloc is a tactic, not a group. It is a tactic where activists don masks and black clothing (originally leather jackets in Germany, later, hoodies in America), as a gesture of anonymity, solidarity, and to indicate to others that they are prepared, if the situation calls for it, for militant action. The very nature of the tactic belies the accusation that they are trying to hijack a movement and endanger others. One of the ideas of having a Black Bloc is that everyone who comes to a protest should know where the people likely to engage in militant action are, and thus easily be able to avoid it if that’s what they wish to do.
2. Black Blocs do not represent any specific ideological, or for that matter anti-ideological position. Black Blocs have tended in the past to be made up primarily of anarchists but most contain participants whose politics vary from Maoism to Social Democracy. They are not united by ideology, or lack of ideology, but merely a common feeling that creating a bloc of people with explicitly revolutionary politics and ready to confront the forces of the order through more militant tactics if required, is, on the particular occasion when they assemble, a useful thing to do. It follows one can no more speak of “Black Bloc Anarchists,” as a group with an identifiable ideology, than one can speak of “Sign-Carrying Anarchists” or “Mic-Checking Anarchists.”
3. Even if you must select a tiny, ultra-radical minority within the Black Bloc and pretend their views are representative of anyone who ever put on a hoodie, you could at least be up-to-date about it. It was back in 1999 that people used to pretend “the Black Bloc” was made up of nihilistic primitivist followers of John Zerzan opposed to all forms of organization. Nowadays, the preferred approach is to pretend “the Black Bloc” is made up of nihilistic insurrectionary followers of The Invisible Committee, opposed to all forms of organization. Both are absurd slurs. Yours is also 12 years out of date.
4. Your comment about Black Bloc’ers hating the Zapatistas is one of the weirdest I’ve ever seen. Sure, if you dig around, you can find someone saying almost anything. But I’m guessing that, despite the ideological diversity, if you took a poll of participants in the average Black Bloc and asked what political movement in the world inspired them the most, the EZLN would get about 80% of the vote. In fact I’d be willing to wager that at least a third of participants in the average Black Bloc are wearing or carrying at least one item of Zapatista paraphernalia. (Have you ever actually talked to someone who has taken part in a Black Bloc? Or just to people who dislike them?)
5. “Diversity of tactics” is not a “Black Bloc” idea. The original GA in Tompkins Square Park that planned the original occupation, if I remember, adopted the principle of diversity of tactics (at least it was discussed in a very approving fashion), at the same time as we all also concurred that a Gandhian approach would be the best way to go. This is not a contradiction: “diversity of tactics” means leaving such matters up to individual conscience, rather than imposing a code on anyone. Partly,this is because imposing such a code invariably backfires. In practice, it means some groups break off in indignation and do even more militant things than they would have otherwise, without coordinating with anyone else—as happened, for instance, in Seattle. The results are usually disastrous. After the fiasco of Seattle, of watching some activists actively turning others over to the police—we quickly decided we needed to ensure this never happened again. What we found that if we declared “we shall all be in solidarity with one another. We will not turn in fellow protesters to the police. We will treat you as brothers and sisters. But we expect you to do the same to us”—then, those who might be disposed to more militant tactics will act in solidarity as well, either by not engaging in militant actions at all for fear they will endanger others (as in many later Global Justice Actions, where Black Blocs merely helped protect the lockdowns, or in Zuccotti Park, where mostly people didn’t bloc up at all) or doing so in ways that run the least risk of endangering fellow activists.
All this is secondary. Mainly I am writing as an appeal to conscience. Your conscience, since clearly you are a sincere and well-meaning person who wishes this movement to succeed. I beg you: Please consider what I am saying. Please bear in mind as I say this that I am not a crazy nihilist, but a reasonable person who is one (if just one) of the original authors of the Gandhian strategy OWS adopted—as well as a student of social movements, who has spent many years both participating in such movements, and trying to understand their history and dynamics.
I am appealing to you because I really do believe the kind of statement you made is profoundly dangerous.
The reason I say this is because, whatever your intentions, it is very hard to read your statement as anything but an appeal to violence. After all, what are you basically saying about what you call “Black Bloc anarchists”?
1) they are not part of us
2) they are consciously malevolent in their intentions
3) they are violent
4) they cannot be reasoned with
5) they are all the same
6) they wish to destroy us
7) they are a cancer that must be excised
Surely you must recognize, when it’s laid out in this fashion, that this is precisely the sort of language and argument that, historically, has been invoked by those encouraging one group of people to physically attack, ethnically cleanse, or exterminate another—in fact, the sort of language and argument that is almost never invoked in any other circumstance. After all, if a group is made up exclusively of violent fanatics who cannot be reasoned with, intent on our destruction, what else can we really do? This is the language of violence in its purest form. Far more than “fuck the police.” To see this kind of language employed by someone who claims to be speaking in the name of non-violence is genuinely extraordinary. I recognize that you’ve managed to find certain peculiar fringe elements in anarchism saying some pretty extreme things, it’s not hard to do, especially since such people are much easier to find on the internet than in real life, but it would be difficult to come up with any “Black Bloc anarchist” making a statement as extreme as this.
Even if you did not intend this statement as a call to violence, which I suspect you did not, how can you honestly believe that many will not read it as such?
In my experience, when I point this sort of thing out, the first reaction I normally get from pacifists is along the lines of “what are you talking about? Of course I’m not in favor of attacking anyone! I am non-violent! I am merely calling for non-violently confronting such elements and excluding them from the group!” The problem is that in practice this is almost never what actually happens. Time after time, what it has actually meant in practice is either a) turning fellow activists over to the police, i.e., turning them over to people with weapons who will physically assault, shackle, and imprison them, or b) actual physical activist-on-activist assault. Such things havehappened. There have been physical assaults by activists on other activists, and, to my knowledge, they have never been perpetrated by anyone in Black Bloc, but invariably by purported pacifists against those who dare to pull a hood over their heads or a bandana over their faces, or, simply, against anarchists who adopt tactics someone else thinks are going too far. (Not I should note even potentially violent tactics. During one 15-minute period in Occupy Austin, I was threatened first with arrest, then with assault, by fellow campers because I was expressing verbal solidarity with, and then standing in passive resistance beside, a small group of anarchists who were raising what was considered to be an unauthorized tent.)
This situation often produces extraordinary ironies. In Seattle, the only incidents of actual physical assault by protesters on other individuals were not attacks on the police, since these did not occur at all, but attacks by “pacifists” on Black Bloc’ers engaged in acts of property damage. Since the Black Bloc’ers had collectively agreed on a strict policy of non-violence (which they defined as never doing anything to harm another living being), they uniformly refused to strike back. In many recent occupations, self-appointed “Peace Police” have manhandled activists who showed up to marches in black clothing and hoodies, ripped their masks off, shoved and kicked them: always, without the victims themselves having engaged in any act of violence, always, with the victims refusing, on moral grounds, to shove or kick back.
The kind of rhetoric you are engaging in, if it disseminates widely, will ensure this kind of violence becomes much, much more severe.
Perhaps you do not believe me, or do not believe these events to be particularly significant. If so, let me put the matter in a larger historical context.
If I understand your argument, it seems to come down to this:
1. OWS has been successful because it has followed a Gandhian strategy of showing how, even in the face of strictly non-violent opposition, the state will respond with illegal violence
2. Black Bloc elements who do not act according to principles of Gandhian non-violence are destroying the movement because they provide retroactive justification for state repression, especially in the eyes of the media
3. Therefore, the Black Bloc elements must be somehow rooted out.
As one of the authors of the original Gandhian strategy, I can recall how well aware we were, when we framed this strategy, that we were taking an enormous risk. Gandhian strategies have not historically worked in the US; in fact, they haven’t really worked on a mass scale since the civil rights movement. This is because the US media is simply constitutionally incapable of reporting acts of police repression as “violence.” (One reason the civil rights movement was an exception is so many Americans at the time didn’t view the Deep South as part of the same country.) Many of the young men and women who formed the famous Black Bloc in Seattle were in fact eco-activists who had been involved in tree-sits and forest defense lock-downs that operated on purely Gandhian principles—only to find that in the US of the 1990s, non-violent protesters could be brutalized, tortured (have pepper spray directly rubbed in their eyes), or even killed, without serious objection from the national media. So they turned to other tactics. We knew all this. We decided it was worth the risk.
However, we are also aware that when the repression begins, some will break ranks and respond with greater militancy. Even if this doesn’t happen in a systematic and organized fashion, some violent acts will take place. You write that Black Bloc’ers smashed up a “locally owned coffee shop”; I doubted this when I read it, since most Black Blocs agree on a strict policy of not damaging owner-operated enterprises, and I now find in Susie Cagle’s response to your article that, in fact, it was a chain coffee shop, and the property destruction was carried out by someone not in black. But still, you’re right: A few such incidents will inevitably occur.
The question is how one responds.
If the police decide to attack a group of protesters, they will claim to have been provoked, and the media will repeat whatever the police say, no matter how implausible, as the basic initial facts of what happened. This will happen whether or not anyone at the protest does anything that can be remotely described as violence. Many police claims will be obviously ridiculous – as at the recent Oakland march where police accused participants of throwing “improvised explosive devices”—but no matter how many times the police lie about such matters, the national media will still report their claims as true, and it will be up to protesters to provide evidence to the contrary. Sometimes, with the help of social media, we can demonstrate that particular police attacks were absolutely unjustified, as with the famous Tony Bologna pepper-spray incident. But we cannot by definition prove all police attacks were unjustified, even all attacks at one particular march; it’s simply physically impossible to film every thing that happens from every possible angle all the time. Therefore we can expect that whatever we do, the media will dutifully report “protesters engaged in clashes with police” rather than “police attacked non-violent protesters.” What’s more, when someone does throw back a tear-gas canister, or toss a bottle, or even spray-paint something, we can assume that act will be employed as retroactive justification for whatever police violence occurred before the act took place.
All this will be true whether or not a Black Bloc is present.
If the moral question is “is it defensible to threaten physical harm against those who do no direct harm to others,” one might say the pragmatic, tactical question is, “even if it were somehow possible to create a Peace Police capable of preventing any act that could even be interpreted as ‘violent’ by the corporate media, by anyone at or near a protest, no matter what the provocation, would it have any meaningful effect?” That is, would it create a situation where the police would feel they couldn’t use arbitrary force against non-violent protesters? The example of Zuccotti Park, where we achieved pretty consistent non-violence, suggests this is profoundly unlikely. And perhaps most importantly at all, even if it were somehow possible to create some kind of Peace Police that would prevent anyone under gas attack from so much as tossing a bottle, so that we could justly claim that no one had done anything to warrant the sort of attack that police have routinely brought, would the marginally better media coverage we would thus obtain really be worth the cost in freedom and democracy that would inevitably follow from creating such an internal police force to begin with?
These are not hypothetical questions. Every major movement of mass non-violent civil disobedience has had to grapple with them in one form or another. How inclusive should you be with those who have different ideas about what tactics are appropriate? What do you do about those who go beyond what most people consider acceptable limits? What do you do when the government and its media allies hold up their actions as justification—even retroactive justification—for violent and repressive acts?
Successful movements have understood that it’s absolutely essential not to fall into the trap set out by the authorities and spend one’s time condemning and attempting to police other activists. One makes one’s own principles clear. One expresses what solidarity one can with others who share the same struggle, and if one cannot, tries one’s best to ignore or avoid them, but above all, one keeps the focus on the actual source of violence, without doing or saying anything that might seem to justify that violence because of tactical disagreements you have with fellow activists.
I remember my surprise and amusement, the first time I met activists from the April 6 Youth Movement from Egypt, when the issue of non-violence came up. “Of course we were non-violent,” said one of the original organizers, a young man of liberal politics who actually worked at a bank. “No one ever used firearms, or anything like that. We never did anything more militant than throwing rocks!”
Here was a man who understood what it takes to win a non-violent revolution! He knew that if the police start aiming tear-gas canisters directly at people’s heads, beating them with truncheons, arresting and torturing people, and you have thousands of protesters, then some of them will fight back. There’s no way to absolutely prevent this. The appropriate response is to keep reminding everyone of the violence of the state authorities, and never, ever, start writing long denunciations of fellow activists, claiming they are part of an insane fanatic malevolent cabal. (Even though I am quite sure that if a hypothetical Egyptian activist had wanted to make a case that, say, violent Salafis, or even Trotskyists, were trying to subvert the revolution, and adopted standards of evidence as broad as yours, looking around for inflammatory statements wherever they could find them and pretending they were typical of everyone who threw a rock, they could easily have made a case.) This is why most of us are aware that Mubarak’s regime attacked non-violent protesters, and are not aware that many responded by throwing rocks.
Egyptian activists, in other words, understood what playing into the hands of the police really means.
Actually, why limit ourselves to Egypt? Since we are talking about Gandhian tactics here, why not consider the case of Gandhi himself? He had to deal with what to say about people who went much further than rock-throwing (even though Egyptians throwing rocks at police were already going much further than any US Black Bloc has). Gandhi was part of a very broad anti-colonial movement that included elements that actually were using firearms, in fact, elements engaged in outright terrorism. He first began to frame his own strategy of mass non-violent civil resistance in response to a debate over the act of an Indian nationalist who walked into the office of a British official and shot him five times in the face, killing him instantly. Gandhi made it clear that while he was opposed to murder under any circumstances, he also refused to denounce the murderer. This was a man who was trying to do the right thing, to act against an historical injustice, but did it in the wrong way because he was “drunk with a mad idea.”
Over the course of the next 40 years, Gandhi and his movement were regularly denounced in the media, just as non-violent anarchists are also always denounced in the media (and I might remark here that while not an anarchist himself, Gandhi was strongly influenced by anarchists like Kropotkin and Tolstoy), as a mere front for more violent, terroristic elements, with whom he was said to be secretly collaborating. He was regularly challenged to prove his non-violent credentials by assisting the authorities in suppressing such elements. Here Gandhi remained resolute. It is always morally superior, he insisted, to oppose injustice through non-violent means than through violent means. However, to oppose injustice through violent means is still morally superior to not doing anything to oppose injustice at all.
And Gandhi was talking about people who were blowing up trains, or assassinating government officials. Not damaging windows or spray-painting rude things about the police.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Radical Report

I am experimenting with posting a podcast of my show.This is a catch up clip show on news of the last few weeks focusing on the austerity plans against Americans,the October 6th protest,the terrorist attacks in Norway,and other spectacles caused by and distracting from capitalism's effect on our lives.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

A Radical Analysis of the Tea Party by Zeno

Understanding the Current Populism
My point in focusing on the “Tea Party” is to deconstruct what is really at play and not allow the Kabuki “right-left” partisan divide of the two business parties to enable the system by scaring people that the lunatics want to take over the asylum so to speak. We have to distinguish the real issues from the diversionary branding and wedges of parties and politicians.
There is nothing new with the Tea Party milieu . It is the same old reactionary shit in a new package. Old style (paleo-) conservatives are rebranding and selling the same old shit in a populist package and that brand is reacting to the Obama brand.
I want to keep this separate from the discussion of political violence committed by the unstable and focus on what is happening with the relatively stable. The violence is a related issue, but the source lies in capitalism’s effects and not just individual psychology. The inherently violent authoritarian mindset is at play in both cases. I’m not saying we pity them in a paternalistic way that we somehow know the truth because we don’t. We just have a more whole analysis of where we are that gets all their psychological societal baggage they are stuck in out of the way. Much has been said of the “insanity” of the Tea Party, but to paraphrase liberal professor Mellisa Harris-Perry: Insanity is an individual characteristic but insanity can also be an appropriate response to situations of oppression, inequality, and a truly crazy system in which people are simply trying to cope.
Focusing on psychopathic and psychotic individuals and corporations is ultimately too narrow because they are just a symptom. Of course it goes further, to the very structure of capitalism, because that is what propels its atrocities not corrupt or psychopathic individuals. The system of capitalism creates and nurtures those personalities and creates an environment to thrive in. We can focus on the horrific beliefs of its psychopathic individual supporters removed from that perspective too often and move away from institutional analysis when we forget many of their beliefs are merely an extension of how capitalism functions. The logical consequence to anti-human belief systems such as capitalism and the politics it inspires is dehumanization and murder. Some suffering the alienation and atomization of this politically shattered society lash out at the managers, leaving the system intact. That is why the eliminationist notion of targeting individuals is also so wrong-headed beyond the obviousness of why it is wrong to maim/murder. We are dealing with a system and institutions of capitalism, authority, domination, and imperialism not some individual who twisted the benevolent system to become a tyrant that only needs to be removed to revert to some benevolent status quo. The teabaggers see Obama as that tyrant they need to depose to gain national renewal rather than grasping it’s the whole system. That is the problem with building a politic around ignoring institutional analysis or conspiracism. Alienated people in our society end up on the internet finding paranoid conspiracies of evil individuals secretly ruining their lives to salve their pain.
The reactionary core beliefs of the far right as manifested by the “tea party” rebranding of the GOP has been unleashed by the capitalists to deal effectively with the working class. In the same type of class manipulation, Brand Obama has been brought in to neutralize resistance from liberals, progressives, unions and the African-American community. This is all intended to divide working people so that an organized movement against the capitalists can’t be waged. What teacher or anybody is going to strike or protest against austerity cuts if they fear being shot by the tea party? Obama makes those cuts easier to swallow for others. This austerity propaganda is powerful. I am seeing non-talking heads internalizing this call for “sacrifice” to save the nation from right, centrist and even some uninformed liberals all over the place.
In normal times nobody listens to these bigots and fringe freaks, but in times like now they're going to be given endless coverage in the mainstream media. This is why the media won't lay the blame on them for any of their acts of violence and will de-politicize the crimes of Loughner and others.(and whitewash the racism) The “tea party” groups and the media are owned by the same oligarchic interests. The tea party is like a faux vanguard made up of puppets of the real vanguard pulling their strings.The Tea Party organizations involved in Astroturf campaigns like the “I support Scott walker” and the various Koch groups are literally protesting against their own human rights on behalf oligarchs. Given that and the authoritarian mindset I think it’s safe to call that proto-fascism. The working people of Wisconsin and around the country have articulated the inspiration of the Egyptian protesters and these teabaggers have taken their cue from the Mubarak goons and throughout the protests to back up the elites against fellow citizens and their own interest. The right will label anything that helps ordinary people "socialism" to scare people away from things we can all agree on like social security or universal healthcare. That is why they are pointing their followers at liberal churches, unions, working class organizations like ACORN, and progressives in their corporate propaganda. That's what's behind all the cries of "socialism" when we listen to them and realize they understand nothing of the subject. They don’t grasp in their attacks on redistribution of wealth as a communist plot, that they in fact argue in favor of redistributing wealth into concentrated hands at the top. Noam Chomsky has essentially called these people social democrats in denial that they are and that’s quite evident in their support of Social Security and Medicare. The idea that social safety nets would extend to the undeserving people of color and poor motivates their faux anti-government “libertarianism”,so their anti-statism really isn’t a point of agreement that could create a tea party-left libertarian/anarchist alliance as some misguided individuals had initially floated. These are statists that only support the right hand of the state. They have made clear they really want to totally destroy any social welfare system and the labor movement. The Kochs are pushing the propaganda to ease this and are pushing to make sure it kills unions. There is a state bankruptcy scheme underway being enabled by Obama that would allow states to do what walker is doing and would automatically cancel out union contracts to “balance budgets” The GOP is refusing federal aid and GOP governors are refusing to receive aid so they can push this scheme to declare bankruptcy. Obama passed something that signaled or allowed the states to go down that path even though states cannot declare bankruptcy. We’ve also seen the dictatorial bill in Michigan that allows the governor to dissolve municipalities for privatization.

Peak Tea

Gallup polling released new survey results on April 29 2011, showing that negative opinions of the so-called tea party movement have risen sharply in the US. For all their claims that most teabaggers are Independents not Republicans, Independent voters have turned away from the Tea Party.
Tea Party influence:
“The April 20-23 USA Today/Gallup poll finds favorable opinions of the Tea Party movement dropping to 33%, from 39% in January, and unfavorable opinions rising to 47% from 42%. Twenty percent of Americans say they haven't heard of the Tea Party or have no opinion of it.The views of Republicans split 60% positively to 24% negatively toward the Tea Party; conservatives' views split 56% to 29%. Substantial majorities of Democrats and liberals view the Tea Party unfavorably. Views of the Tea Party became more negative between January and April among both Republicans and independents; there was very little change in Democrats' already negative views.”

Gender breakdown: “The Tea Party has a relatively strong appeal to men aged 50 and older, 49% of whom have favorable opinions of the movement. By contrast, women aged 50 and older are the most negative, with more than half holding a negative opinion."

More proof of Glen Ford’s contention there is no Tea Party in the South, just the same Southern rightwing politics:
"Southerners are most positive about the Tea Party across regions, with essentially equal favorable and unfavorable opinions. Americans living on either coast are the most negative.”

While the Gallup data bolsters the factual claim that the tea party is the GOP, they make the paradoxical claim that it is not officially connected with the Republican Party as if that makes a difference. So much for that tea party influence on the GOP the MSM fakes. The media hoax that the Tea Party is an independent movement pushing the GOP to the right serves centrist neoliberal propaganda that the Democrats must move to the center/right to meet the mood of the country. There are no Tea Party candidates, no Tea Party policies, and no Tea Party voters. They are all Republicans. They run as Republicans and vote for Republicans. Much has been made of the 2010 electoral sweep, but as Paul Street has pointed out the Tea Party will be dissolved into the party again after accomplishing their electoral goals. Maybe teabaggers will get trotted out every election season, but it was pretty much to run its course to get the current politicians back into Congress and maybe for the 2012 election. Once they get in they shake off the teabaggers but they don’t want to leave.
Democratic and independent voters also paved the way for the 2010 GOP wave by abstaining from elections after burning out on the Hopium and false change of 2008. Voters decided that voting was pointless and stayed home. Desperate people in personal and economic pain reached out to the tea party branded GOP for a lifeline to deal with the real problems of unemployment and foreclosures affecting them and all they get is anti-Planned Parenthood, anti-union, privitization, racist immigration, “Birther”, and anti-Sharia laws. People aren't stupid—they’ve been hoodwinked and now they are waking up with buyers’ remorse and demanding the beef at town halls. The Koch groups are now scrambling to undermine genuine populist outburts by citizens(including conservatives) against their politicians.
These rallies were the first rallies most these people attended and their first taste of political engagement and activism. As Paul Street has pointed out in his upcoming book on the subject,they are completely adverse to organizing which would benefit their goals and probably wouldn’t work towards anything with us either anyway. This proto-fascist milieu and Obama’s do nothing economic plan for the poor/working/middle class leaves us wide open for popular fascism as both parties discredit actual democracy while forcing more managed democracy on us. I think the financial class panic-inspired tea party "populism" ran its course so we go back to straight nationalism as evidenced by the nationalistic political boost the assassination of Osama Bin Laden created.

Countering this rightwing populism
Another great point by Paul Street : In the absence of organized opposition to the recession and economic injustice, many people stung by the recession have been attracted by the Tea Party movement -- an exercise in confusion and distraction focused on government abstractions like "the founding fathers" and details about "the Constitution," rather than economic issues. The Tea Party actually demands more economic hardship for the poorest people while it distracts attention from the failures of the capitalist economic system, and subtlely implies that immigrants and minorities are the real problem with its demands to "take American back." From whom? Certainly not the Fortune 500 or the richest 1 percent who make their income from stock dividends, not working a job -- the Tea Party never mentions them. The Tea Party demands small government, but ignores Big Business.

Rage and a lack of radical analysis gives us teabaggers. The failure and suppression of an American left or any kind of class consciousness is to blame. It’s also our fault as radicals. We need to critically examine what we have failed to accomplish as radicals and activists that fails to speak to other working class people in pain,that inspires hitching their wagon to their abusers to seem like a better idea than class struggle. Radical solutions to the crisis would (at the very least) involve feeding the hungry and homeless, urban farming, organizing unions, taking over the resources people require to live foreclosed people squatting houses, strikes,walkouts, occupying workplaces, expropriating and creating co-ops. I think if we work on all these things people who would otherwise fall victim to the siren call of the Kochs and take interest in what we are doing because we are addressing real needs.
The subject of mocking teabaggers needs more nuance and critical thought in my opinion. If we are just laughing at abused people we are part of the problem. In this regard ,Liberals and Democratic partisans I fear will make this worse by gloating and mocking too harshly those that don’t deserve it and thus any working class folks subject to this kind of thinking will see us as the same as the liberals by virtue of being perceived as being on the left, etc. Like Chris Hedges has pointed out the pathetic failure of the liberal class is a key point of rage for these people. They may be interested to hear our take on liberals. I recommend we save our snark and venom for the liars and opportunists and punch Nazis. We should avoid lashing out at people who are really in a Plato's Cave mentality shielding their false consciousness, because it only reinforces their cognitive dissonance. When we engage and argue with them, It’s like reverse propaganda strengthening their beliefs. I can’t say I wouldn't argue back without being mean if somebody just parroted insanity/lies. We are only human. The frustration can be superhuman when reacting to some attitudes that you just can't help but lash out against the bullshit. It’s hard to rationally debate bullshit.
In closing I want to read this Tim Wise quote:

“We’d best commit to a recognition that most of us are just trying to do the best we can, in a world that can be tough and unforgiving. Trying to raise families, keep our heads above water, and do what we think is right. Occasionally we get it wrong, and so do our neighbors. But that doesn’t make us, or them, terrorists, or zombies, or stealth Stalinists, or baby-killers, or gun nuts, or Klansmen, or whatever. It makes us, and them, human. ”

Friday, April 15, 2011

Authority Smashers Tampa/FL Loose "Manifesto"

I have been a part of the Authority Smashers Collective for going on almost 3 years now and we have learned alot about the various strengths/weaknesses inherent in long distance online organizing,media production,and fundraising. Our collective's goals have been quite modest and sober but reality is what it is no matter how realistic you are. We have been receiving great advice on how to fundraise from veteran activists and we are planning a sustainer program and other tactics to get sustainable. The gathering of the collective's current active members for the Left Forum in NYC was a great live reunion and reminder of the physical distance we have had to overcome in this project. Local,small core groups with greater direct participation and accountability to one another working together on the project can tackle some of tactical issues with long distance collaboration---more people involved can hopefully further rotate tasks to avoid burnout and the developing of in-groups that end up doing all the work when chaos intervenes.

In a statement on our Authority Smashing! Hour Facebook page,collective member Charngchi "Chomskyan" Way put it best:
"Hi friends, for many reasons, internal and external, we are putting this project on pause for now. Thanks to everyone for all the support. We'll be back soon in another form, in a sustainable manner. In the meantime, we urge all of you to join or start local projects that attempts to smash forms of oppressive authority. Solidarity!" --Charngchi

Ron from Philly has started Deep Green Philly with a page under construction.

Deep Green Philly is a podcasting/news website focused on local and international environmentalism from a radical perspective

I am starting Authority Smashers Tampa to work on ASH-related projects and create a collective based on the same radical anti-authoritarian/anarchist principles from here in Florida.Black Cat Stoa will be a placeholder page for Authority Smashers Tampa until a completed official page is up.

In starting another AS collective,I would like to continue and even expand upon our anti-authoritarian consensus decsion making organizing principles and non-sectarian approach to anarchism with a strong focus on class struggle. I am a member of the IWW,so this will be a continuing wob friendly project. Also the focus on building a radical community,mutual aid,solidarity,organzing radical space,and radical analysis will be main goals. Aside from taking cue from basic affinity group organizing,I'd like to take a cue from our comrades at the No Borders Collective,I would also like to suggest these principles as placeholders(in no particular order) until final principles are agreed upon and posted by a collective:

a)Peoples' Global Action Hallmarks1.A very clear rejection of capitalism, imperialism and feudalism; all trade agreements, institutions and governments that promote destructive globalization.
2.We reject all forms and systems of domination and discrimination including, but not limited to, patriarchy, racism and religious fundamentalism of all creeds. We embrace the full dignity of all human beings.
3.A confrontational attitude, since we do not think that lobbying can have a major impact in such biased and undemocratic organisations, in which transnational capital is the only real policy-maker.
4.A call to direct action and civil disobedience, support for social movements’ struggles, advocating forms of resistance which maximize respect for life and oppressed peoples’ rights, as well as the construction of local alternatives to global capitalism.
5.An organisational philosophy based on decentralisation and autonomy.

b)the St Paul Principles:

1. our solidarity will be based on respect for a diversity of tactics and the
plans of other groups.
2. the actions and tactics used will be organized to maintain a separation of
time or space.
3. any debates or criticisms will stay internal to the movement, avoiding any
public or media denunciations of fellow activists and events.
4. we oppose any state repression of dissent, including surveillance,
infiltration, disruption and violence. we agree not to assist law enforcement
actions against activists and others.

c)NYMAA: Purposes of Existence
A. General Propaganda: To increase the visibility and spread of basic anarchist ideas and information among the general populace through a variety of means.
B. Social Struggles: To establish an anarchist presence in social struggles against oppression and towards freedom.
C. Building Blocks: To create the basis of an anarchist society by building federated socio-economic institutions that reject the illogic of capitalism and the state. This approach is traditionally called "dual power," and consists of production and distribution cooperatives, workers, and neighborhood councils and assemblies, communal housing and shelter, free schools, community/social centers, etc.
D. Coordination & Communication: To increase the level of joint activity, coordination, and face-to-face communication among already established anarchist and social justice organizations.
E. Social Community: To facilitate comradely interaction among anarchists through such means as social events and parties, printed material, classes, forums, discussions, workshops, and reading groups.

e)The RAAN and LAFF models are also an influence for me.

As an anarchist I will reassert that radical feminism is a given as well as the anti-racist,pro-queer,free love principles inherent or listed in above principles.
Since the AS Collective has been proportionately a collective of people of color(as well as women,queer,and disabled),I'd like to include certain APOC principles as well:
I think these principles from this online revolutionary group can more fully apply in an anarchist context(and outside radical spaces) and serve as points of solidarity and intervention between activists and communities of all "stripes":

Again,we should oppose any form of white cultural chauvinism/"whiteness",white supremacy, or internalized racism in the anarchist movement. I find it troubling that groups have to organize into APOC and white allies when the anti-racism/privelege should be a given like our feminism and acceptance of our LGBTQ comrades and rejection of rigid gender roles.

I also suggest principles similar to these.

Any Florida anarchists and other anti-authoritarian radicals interested in strengthening a radical presence/community in Florida can reach me at

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Bizarre/Propaganda Comics

Here is an excellent blog describing and deconstructing a strange turn to propaganda for the notoriously safe Archie comics. Insanity and Bircher rightwing propagansa abound!

And we are brought back to Hansi as well in this history of crazy Christian propaganda comics.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Great Used Book Finds

I was very surprised when I ran across these titles at a neat local used bookstore. First I found a decent copy(there is some hightlighting inside) of Guy Debord's situationist masterwork The Society of the Spectacle.

I found an infamous pulp classic I have only read about. A winter 1947 quarterly issue of Amazing Stories featuring The Shaver Mystery. Richard Sharpe Shaver was essentially a mentally ill writer that believed his wild fortean yarns who was exploited by an opportunistic editor/publisher.

From Wikipedia:

Very little is known reliably about Shaver's early life. He claimed to have worked in a factory, where, in 1932, odd things began to occur. As Bruce Lanier Wright notes, Shaver "began to notice that one of the welding guns on his job site, 'by some freak of its coil's field atunements,' was allowing him to hear the thoughts of the men working around him. More frighteningly, he then received the telepathic record of a torture session conducted by malign entities in caverns deep within the earth." According to Barkun, Shaver offered inconsistent accounts of how he first learned of the hidden cavern world, but that the assembly line story was the "most common version." Shaver said he then quit his job, and became a hobo for a period.
Barkun writes that "Shaver was hospitalized briefly for psychiatric problems in 1934, but there does not appear to have been a clear diagnosis."Barkun notes that afterwards, Shaver's whereabouts and actions cannot be reliably traced until the early 1940s.

The magazine I got itself.

The June 1947 issue of Amazing Stories featuring the "Shaver Mystery" I wonder how much a good quality version of the one I have would be worth compared to a copy of this one.

This article on Devil's Tower caught my attention. Inspiration to Close Encounters of the Third Kind?

Shaver wrote of extremely advanced pre-historic races who had built cavern cities inside Earth before abandoning Earth for another planet due to damaging radiation from the Sun. Those ancients also abandoned some of their own offspring here, a minority of whom remained noble and human "Teros", while most degenerated over time into a population of mentally impaired sadists known as Deros—short for "detrimental robots." Shaver's "robots" were not mechanical constructs, but were robot-like due to their savage behavior.
These Deros still lived in the cave cities, according to Shaver, kidnapping surface-dwelling people by the thousands for meat or torture. With sophisticated "ray" machinery that the great ancient races had left behind, they spied on people and projected tormenting thoughts and voices into our minds (reminiscent of schizophrenia's "influencing machines" such as the Air loom). Deros could be blamed for nearly all misfortunes, from minor "accidental" injuries or illnesses to airplane crashes and catastrophic natural disasters. Women especially were singled out for brutal treatment, including rape, and Dash notes that "Sado-masochism was one of the prominent themes of Shaver's writings." Though generally confined to their caves, Shaver claimed that the Deros sometimes traveled by spaceships or rockets, and had dealings with equally evil extraterrestrial beings. Shaver claimed first-hand knowledge of the Deros and their caves, insisting he had been their prisoner for several years.

These bizaare "based on true events" stories about sadomasochistic subterranean evil e.t.'s are considered to be a major influence on UFO's,the paranormal,and the alien abduction phenomenon.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

How to solve a problem like Israel?

The jig is up for Israel,what happens is impossible to predict. I have a suggestion of a couple ways this could go that can have positive results. The state of Israel is sabotaging the 2 state solution because it does not want a sovereign Palestine and refuses to be a single integrated democracy, let alone follow any international laws or the UN. The flotilla attack was an attack on NATO and of course NATO will not go to war with them.

Along with their nation-long history of ethnic cleansing, terrorism and expansionist war starting in 1967, the sinking of the USS Liberty, targeted assassinations like killing wrong people in retaliation for Munich, clumsily assassinating a Hamas leader in Dubai using the stolen passports of countless nations--putting those passport holders at risk for retaliation they have bombed Lebanon several times (losing the last "war"), massacred Gaza--continues bombing Gaza again and starves the population with an illegal blockade, threatening to bomb Iran and now moving nuclear subs into Iranian waters.
        Israel has roughly 150 nukes and refuses to acknowledge them, sign on to the weapons treaties, or allow inspectors in. We know know Israel tried to give nukes to Apartheid South Africa. The recent grab to claim all of Jerusalem and other illegal settlements will make peace impossible. This 'Little Sparta' has gone too far and will not stop. Laws, ethics, morality, conscience, reality--nothing will push Israel to do right. I highly doubt the Israeli public wants to take this psychopathic suicide ride with their government and those that do are no different than brainwashed nationalist thugs in any country-that is not uniquely Israeli.

       This is a lunatic, terrorist (not the only one in history) state that will not be appeased by any amount of leeway awarded to them by the US. We have shown them they can do what they want without even a tongue lashing. Though she apologized, Helen Thomas' statement was essentially correct, if they can colonize they can de-colonize. It was done in Africa and elsewhere. Time to dissolve the current Zionist project and move forward in peace as a multiracial country or multiple, allow Palestinians to return and get their stolen lands back, and if Israelis want to stay, they can, but should share a country with everybody else as equals not just as first class citizens over others. Why does Israel get to be a one race state? That is not democracy. Everybody else is a melting pot. That there are so many Jews around the world and the Israelis could easily rejoin the diaspora, there is no risk of disappearance of Jewish demographics, Jewish culture, etc. Nobody goes extinct. Remove the nukes and declare a nuclear free Middle East. Israel, USA, England and UN should pay reparations and all humanitarian costs for enabling the founding of Israel in the first place. Through NATO/UN, the Western powers unilaterally dissolved Yugoslavia and created an 'artificial state' against the self determination of the peoples. The Middle East as we know it is a construct of the old empires carving up the region and creating countries and borders. Pakistan was a creation of the West as well. It is not unfeasible to "end a country". Maybe the people of Israel/Palestine and the world community can come to a consensus of how to dissolve this settler colony in a way that is fair to all involved and lays the foundation for a peaceful tomorrow. That's a tall order, but a first step that could happen without going as far as I suggest would be to end the sick Israeli exceptionalism, get humble, join the community of nations/international law and stop the occupations/blockade, accept their pre 67 borders, end illegal settlements and accept a real Palestinian state. That has been doable for decades. Let's see what the lunatic state does.