Saturday, August 29, 2009

Managers of Marauders of the Desert?

This is my submission to the new Fire to the Prisons. If they don't print it, I'll probably look pretty dumb. Anyway, here ya go.

Many within the current revolutionary movement have known activism. The specialized role in society that creates managers of social change. Many of us became radicalized through being involved in leftist political parties, animal rights activism, doing vegan outreach, working for labor unions, and holding jobs canvassing for NGOs and non-profits. Often, we were drawn to these forms due to a moral sense that “something should be done” around a certain issue. Galvanized into action, we often became involved in the only forms of organization available, that of the reformist activist left. Since revolutionary ideas are often hard to come across in this society; many of us had to come to our present consciousness after first seeing the limit of spending so much time organizing against the new circus coming to town, handing out 'Why Vegan' pamphlets, or logging in the hours for the union or non-profit that we worked for. As we spent more time in these movements, our eyes became open to the poverty of these types of action. We came to see that these activist projects did nothing to end exploitation and misery; they only sought to better manage it.

We saw these forms be further recuperated back into capitalism; as we labored long hours canvassing for Greenpeace for shit wages, expanding the vegan capitalist market, or buying into anarchist bike culture. Thus, our desire for the total destruction of the social relations of capitalist civilization came to also encapsulate activism as well. We started to desire a total rupture with class society; not just establish an identity as an “activist” that was outside of the rest of the population which was “passive.” We reject this identity; we became not interested in finding ourselves through stickers on our metal water bottles and how many meetings we went to a month. Instead, we began to desire to become a physical force against the material conditions which exploit and coerce all our lives. We began to see that the issues, were not the issue at all. The solutions, were not the solution. We began to become not interested in the baby steps and progress that this democracy offered us, as we saw that within the social war that is class society, there exists tensions that we hope to push into open rupture with Capital. We do not wish to be managers of the desert which is this society. We do not want it to operate better; be reformed, or changed. This society does not 'progress.' The Marxist notion that we are marching to the end of history, even if slowly, and the liberal notion that things have been made better over the years, is false. Capital obeys no master but it's own will. We which to destroy it and find the oasis that exists beneath it and in the moments when we engage in conflict.

But, many of us moved simply from leftist and reformist activism simply into anarchist styled activism. Often, these were the only things when we were younger that we believed that we could do “as anarchists.” Many will often state that these are some of the only projects that are successful in bringing new people in our movement. We disagree. We desire a new way to find comrades within the desert, as opposed to waiting for those involved in activism to trickle towards us after they are fed up of the bullshit. We want to find those who are faced with similar conditions and wish to fight against them. We are not removed from the exploited. We too are forced to sell our labor power for wages in order to survive. We pay for rent in order to have a place to live. Our lives our organized, controlled, and directed by those who wish to capitalize off our labor power. We are among those who are broken apart by the color of our skin, what lies between our legs, and our sexual desires. Our desire to destroy class society includes a desire to find comrades which share our passion for the power to control our own lives. Activism is not a vehicle for this; it is an alienated means to better manage an alienated society. We need to find ways in which to find comrades in which we can engage in class conflict with; worlds that build our autonomy and power outside of this system.

Thus, we are not interested in the latest anarchist meme project. We are not interested in the newest form of anarcho-activism. We do not wish to create activist projects. We want power. We want to hit back. We want insurrection. The task lays before us to create ways to find comrades outside of alienated activist means. We need to exist in the spaces that are not sub-cultural; we need to exist in the spaces were people already gather and exist where they feel the tight grip of class society. We need forms of communication that speak to those who could become our comrades; not those in the same ghetto as us. We need projects which speak to the conditions we are faced with; and gestures of revolutionary solidarity which give teeth to the rejection of those conditions. This is why a project like Fire to the Prisons is important; this is why it exists. To give confidence to those element in this society which push for insurrection and revolt; either conscious of it or not. To make those elements more precise and anti-political; to generalize them across all territory for the sake of intensifying our resistance. To put a rock in the hand of everyone who is ready to throw it and a magazine in the hand of every prisoner who is ready to discover it. This magazine is part of a movement that will usher in the creation of something new; something that has not been done before. This magazine is apart of the rebirth of anarchy as a movement that attacks and destroys class society; not seeks to better manage or reform it.

11 comments:

  1. I don't want to sound obnoxious, but I'm sure FTTP has already said everything you've said in this essay -- many times over. This is why I've always preferred A Murder of Crows over FTTP. AMOC has substantial analysis of radical tendencies and such (e.g., the recent critique of animal liberationism). FTTP has rhetoric. I mean, why is activism alienated? You never really substantiate that statement. You also assert a line that has been pushed by many I@ before: the acknowledgment of 'tension'. I don't necessarily disagree with it, but you don't highlight any specific instances of "tension" in society. Should people just take your word for it?

    Then there are some statements which could have been used to describe important analysis, like, "Capital obeys no master but it's own will". You could have expanded on that and totally snuffed out the popular conception of state power among activists as something that holds equal status to the economy, which isn't correct; as well as the activist notion that some dinky radical minority, the majority of which are pretty tame and nerdy, could actually snuff out state power -- one of the many causal effects for activist "burn out". Economized relations and ideology are the fundamental aspects of this society, and their material functions are -vulnerable-. This is why facing down an army of riot cops at some summit protest doesn't do shit. The state is far too centralized, coordinated, and just generally badass (like, Bruce Lee, Chuck Norris, Rambo, Jet Li, a thousand angry anarchists, and my dog Hugo couldn't even take them on, ya dig?), and violently engaging the state doesn't really affect commodity relations much. You kill the economy, you kill society. But let's not get too far ahead of ourselves...

    Then there's this statement, "not just establish an identity as an "activist" that was outside of the rest of the population which was "passive"". You could've came in strong after that and pointed out how political activism is mostly just about voicing protestations against mass conformity, and not about subverting repressive institutions and relations. Instead, you just follow it up with some more dry rhetoric.

    "We need forms of communication that speak to those who could become our comrades"

    Yes, we know. But -what- forms of communication, and how? It would've been interesting if you had actually made an attempt to come up with some ideas that deviate, break from, or improve propaganda. But you don't offer anything. You just say, 'this is what we have to do'. Well yeah, we know that already, maybe you could elaborate? See where I'm goin' with this? The same criticism could be applied to several of the other assertions you made.

    "We want power. We want to hit back. We want insurrection."

    I really wish you would've elaborated on that. It just comes off as, "let's be more militant!!". Activists say the same exact thing all the time.

    I think you need to lay off the "I hate activism" kool aid for awhile (although, it is one of the tastier kool aids) and get back to what you were doing in V#2. Namely, coming up with practical activities and projects anarchists can engage in -- activities and projects which either display an obvious aversion to specialism and party building (the two key aspects of pretty much all political activism, IMO) or activities/projects which at least evade the aspects of activist practice and allow anarchists to actively pursue their self-interest.

    ...'Cause dude, everything you're saying here is something I've already heard a dozen times over, and a dozen times over again. This is why I don't pay much attention to I@ anymore.

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  2. Sounds like you don't need me, you've already got some good ideas...

    I wrote this at work over an hour or so. It's not meant to be that in depth, but this is a very powerful and well thought out critique, thanks for sharing. I'll try and respond later.

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  3. "I don't want to sound obnoxious, but I'm sure FTTP has already said everything you've said in this essay -- many times over. This is why I've always preferred A Murder of Crows over FTTP. AMOC has substantial analysis of radical tendencies and such (e.g., the recent critique of animal liberationism). FTTP has rhetoric. I mean, why is activism alienated? You never really substantiate that statement. You also assert a line that has been pushed by many I@ before: the acknowledgment of 'tension'. I don't necessarily disagree with it, but you don't highlight any specific instances of "tension" in society. Should people just take your word for it?"

    To be fair, I don't think FTTP set out to be a theoretical journal. I think they are going for something different.

    I think activism is alienating because it's about making demands of the existing system to change; and becoming a specialist in makng that change.

    There are lots of tensions. Everything from traffic, to work, to the police. They change from geographical location to another.

    "Then there are some statements which could have been used to describe important analysis, like, "Capital obeys no master but it's own will". You could have expanded on that and totally snuffed out the popular conception of state power among activists as something that holds equal status to the economy, which isn't correct;" -

    I would contend that Capital and the State really can't be seperated. When I say Capital, I mean to include the state within that.

    "as well as the activist notion that some dinky radical minority, the majority of which are pretty tame and nerdy, could actually snuff out state power -- one of the many causal effects for activist "burn out". Economized relations and ideology are the fundamental aspects of this society, and their material functions are -vulnerable-. This is why facing down an army of riot cops at some summit protest doesn't do shit. The state is far too centralized, coordinated, and just generally badass (like, Bruce Lee, Chuck Norris, Rambo, Jet Li, a thousand angry anarchists, and my dog Hugo couldn't even take them on, ya dig?), and violently engaging the state doesn't really affect commodity relations much. You kill the economy, you kill society. But let's not get too far ahead of ourselves..."

    Alright, but I don't think that the role of the radical minority to to 'take on the state.' I think it's to intervene in class struggle.

    "Yes, we know. But -what- forms of communication, and how? It would've been interesting if you had actually made an attempt to come up with some ideas that deviate, break from, or improve propaganda. But you don't offer anything. You just say, 'this is what we have to do'. Well yeah, we know that already, maybe you could elaborate? See where I'm goin' with this? The same criticism could be applied to several of the other assertions you made." -

    I've written a lot in regards to this; the purpose of this piece isn't really to flesh out all of these ideas to the max. This is a pretty short and brief scetch and it meant to be so.

    "I really wish you would've elaborated on that. It just comes off as, "let's be more militant!!". Activists say the same exact thing all the time." -

    Saying that you want rupture with the misery of everyday life now is not the same as, "I want things to be more militant."

    "...'Cause dude, everything you're saying here is something I've already heard a dozen times over, and a dozen times over again. This is why I don't pay much attention to I@ anymore." -

    Well, Vengeance 3 has some stuff in there. Sorry IA isn't cooking your goose. And yet...here we are.

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  4. It is difficult to keep gunning out examples of practices that could be done. I've experimented with a variety. The only thing I could do further from what I know is possible outside of activism is give anecdotes of my personal struggles, find ways to generalize my personal struggle, offer some sort of analysis, theory or criticism about what is going on or talk about someone else's. I don't know what else to say about it. Maybe I'm missing something?

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  5. You're not missing anything. It's not like I'm expecting crudo or anyone else (e.g., myself) to perpetually pump out new ideas for practice and projects. I just thought it would have been better for crudo to actually suggest activities that correlate with his rhetoric (even if he's already talked about them before; nothing wrong with repeating yourself or pulling inspiration from old ideas). He has made a post on the RAAN forum outlining some ideas, though. So props to him for that. Or if he couldn't come up with any activities, then take the other approach and actually substantiate and expand on what he was saying.

    To clear up a previous criticism of mine: I wasn't suggesting the state and capital are utterly distinct from one another. Commodity relations rely on state power to enforce them. The economy needs politics to survive. But the economy takes precedence over the state. Economized relations and institutions are the bulk of this society, and their fundamental, material functions are vulnerable. What's more likely: the economy taking a nose dive or hierarchical relations the world over being overthrown? I'd say it was the former.

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  6. totally, crudo this is a good piece but it is also beating the fuck out of a dead horse for the nth time.

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  7. GODDAMN. Next time and editor asks me to write something I guess I'll have to crank out another hit, not just ask Nate Dogg to come and singing backing vocals.

    FUCK MY LIFE.

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  8. PS - Sometimes you have to beat that horse, because motherfuckers keep fucking it. And, when you're at work and staring at the screen, that's what comes out.

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  9. This stuff is too long to read now. I'll read it when fire to the prisons 7 comes out, and right before I wipe my ass with it. Not that I don't love fire to the prisons, it's just that we have more copies of it around than we do toilet paper.

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  10. good shit,
    I think its important that we start communicating in a way as to reach out past those who are already anarchist.
    And i think although crudo didnt list examples its pretty clear.
    brennus speaks the truth.
    so instead we should write the editors to make it softer.

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