Monday, February 8, 2010

Dana Ward Pulled My Prole Card


Another set of trips out to a variety of places of late, Santa Cruz, the bay area, Phoenix, LA, and Riverside has me thinking about the next issue of Vengeance and thoughts on anarchism and it's scene.

In Riverside last weekend, MAC was invited out to table at this event that featured me speaking, someone talking about feminism, and then Dana Ward from Anarchy Archives. At the end, there was going to be a round table discussion about strategy in Southern California.

The event space was at some middle class coffee place that allowed people to hold an event downstairs. About 40 - 50 people showed up, mostly young, but a fair mix of individuals. The kids in Riverside seem to be interested in setting up a infoshop (something that seems to happen to every group of anarchists in every town, every couple of years).

The first workshop was hosted by a woman with the Inland Empire Feminist Collective, which brought with them some zines about stuff such as DIY menstrual pads and anarcha-feminism. The workshop that they gave was like sitting through someone reading wikipedia out loud, no offense. They gave textbook definitions on what feminism was, what patriarchy was. Then they (this is all off of large pieces of paper) told us what liberal feminism was going through Marxist Feminism and into anarcha-feminism. While this might have been interesting in a setting like a college presentation, the presenter did nothing to critique liberal or Marxist feminism at all, and did nothing to talk about their own affinity towards feminism, what lead them towards such a position, etc. Then, they had us fill out this questionnaire about feminism, which resulted in a discussion that for me was really boring and liberal, with basically the group and the presenter coming to the conclusion that in order to "help women" (as the questionnaire asked) we should change the way that interact with each other and "call people on their shit." While of course, this is all important; we should hit people in the face for making rape jokes and write nasty things in stupid magazines, can't we also state that the struggle against patriarchy is a struggle against class society and the dictatorship of capital over all life and cannot be divorced from each other?

While I think it's great that someone presented something at an anarchist event that wasn't male and white, I think when politically such presentations are so muddled and unfocused, they really don't get us anywhere. I think if the presenter would have focused more on why she became a feminist, what that meant to her, and what she wanted to do with that critique against this world, then we would have had a much different conversation.

Then I spoke, doing basically the same talk that I had done in Phoenix and some other places, entitled, "Activism vs. Intervention." I introduced where Modesto was, what MAC was, then talked about the importance of finding tensions and expanding them, and what I saw the differences were in activism and intervention. Then I gave some examples of how MAC has either intervened in various struggles or aided them. I also raising the question for discussion, asking if we wanted a scene or a working class counter force in society? This got a lot of people talking about the limits of the scene and also about how they could do this in the tensions that already exist in their areas. I really enjoyed how the discussion popped off from that point and people really got into talking about stuff in the local areas and what they were doing. What was working, but also where they were having problems actually going on the offensive. All in all, a really good talk and some really good responses.

Then Dana Ward from Anarchy Archives talked about anarchist infrastructure. Basically, he talked about a lot of stuff, mostly historical, which was interesting, but then he basically presented a thesis that self-management of industry was a good was of showing people that anarchy is possible. He brought up the self-managed factories in Argentina, but also cooperative corporations in Spain which are very successful. He talked about how this was an example of dual power, and if these types of businesses could compete more, they could hopefully replace capital.

I should have shut the fuck up, but I brought up that self-management of capitalism was still capitalism. That while a self-managed factory might be "better" it was still part of a system where work was separate from life.

Dana responded by stating that he came from a working class family and that it was impossible for him to think of a life without work. He said that maybe there was something of a class difference between myself and him, and maybe I couldn't understand was he was getting at. Which I find interesting, considering all I remember my parents every talking about was complaining about their jobs, and the years that I spent working as a janitor, never once did I stop and think that if my bosses disappeared and I could organize cleaning shit up myself, I would enjoy it more. Yeah, you're going to labor to get food, shelter, etc in any society. But under communism, you have equal access to the means of existence and the land, not separated by mediation, nor divided into a specialized labor field. "Work," does not exist. But yeah, cooperative corporations running shit I'm not too stoked on. I also don't think they are going to bring down capitalism.

For more on this, read What is Communism? by GD, or anything by him on communization vs. self-management.

After his talk, Dana Ward was leaving and I shook his hand and stated that we probably agreed more than we disagreed. He kind of blew me off but we talked for a couple minutes. I find it interesting that I was part of one of the only groups at the event that was doing anything to put ideas that he considered relevant into practice and because I wasn't excited about Wal-Mart becoming a co-op he kind of shrugged me off. Anyway, can't win em all.

Next, there was a discussion on what people wanted to do in So Cal. People were able to discuss the tensions in their area: foreclosure, immigration, jobs, education, etc, but beyond stuff happening on March 4th, there seemed to be little idea of how to move forward. Modesto maybe be fucked up with drama, drugs, and legal problems, but at least we got plans and lots of them. I really tired of going anywhere, being in a room with a bunch of people, and having no one have any idea what they want to do. Where is people's fire? Where is their desire to get crazy and do something, even if it just something small? Why do people always have to look bored and defeated?

Been thinking more and more about the new Vengeance, and hopefully it will be crazier, meanier, funnier, and more classist than the first.

18 comments:

  1. I'm reposting this comment minus specific names:

    "Glad you came out to Riverside to represent what's going on in Modesto.

    However, I'd like to speak up for the rest of us Southern Cali anarchists by saying that the event was pretty much for local Riverside County anarchists.

    I was one of the few people coming out from LA County to check out what was going on and show Riverside @s some love.

    Most of us don't have the time nor the gas money to drive out to Riverside. I'm glad the organizers are doing this and hope he builds momentum and gets more people involved in organizing some type of monthly or periodic riverside anarchist event.

    About Dana Ward...I'll continue tomorrow."

    ReplyDelete
  2. Everything you need to know about DW is right here. http://dwardmac.pitzer.edu:16080/dward/

    I am glad that you are finally dialed into sectarian politics 101. If you disagree with me it is because you are the class enemy. Run with it, it'll come in useful 1000 different ways.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Sorry about the name dropping.

    Anyway, my point in bringing up how the event
    was more for local Riverside County folks is that there are things going on in the Greater LA area. Yeah, there aren't really groups like Modesto Anarcho or Pheonix Class War Council but there still are many different scattered projects. It's just really hard building momentum because LA County is fucking huge, traffic sucks, and there's hella urban sprawl. There isn't really a "central" meeting point, not even downtown LA. On top of that most folks who "identify" as being an anarchist, aside from being few in general, live far from each other.

    This is why some folks are planning more local periodic/monthly social anarchist events, a la Anarchist Cafe's, Anarchist Picnic's, etc.

    I think the reason why the discussion on "what to do next" was so boring and sad was because this was (hopefully) the first Riverside local anarchist event, I don't think that many people really knew each other or felt that comfortable and I don't think the person facilitating the discussion was prepared to help guide the discussion.

    On Dana Ward, I understood your point but I also agreed with him. For example, if you were to occupy a Starbucks and take it over making it an anarchist worker-coop, it wouldn't be a "Starbucks" anymore.

    You would (hopefully) probably change everything about the shop, from the interior to the exterior, from colors to labels, names, etc etc and probably think of clever ways to integrate it as being part of an anarchist movement. You would also probably find clever ways to disintegrate that boundary between your "life" and "work".

    It would probably cease "just" being a business and wouldn't be a Starbucks anymore. And that's assuming you were to continue producing coffee, you could do something completely different and produce something else. You get the idea?

    I think it totally would be self-managing a prison if someone were to just occupy a Starbucks and run it more efficiently without changing much. But that's not what he was proposing.

    ReplyDelete
  4. re: starbucks as anarchist coop

    it's funny you bring up starbucks, because there already are anarchist coop coffee shops, such as red and black cafe in portland.
    i have no doubt they are more pleasant to work for than starbucks is, but i doubt there are many people who would choose to work there if they didnt have to pay rent, buy food, etc.

    also, cafes and food coops arnt a threat to anyone. they almost always exist only in areas where you have a large anarchist community to shop there.
    i would say that anarchist coops that attempt to engage in capitalism offer a way for individual anarchists to go and participate in capitalism without any guilt. it's like liberals who shop at whole foods. they dont mind because whole foods is a "green" company. certain anarchists, who might otherwise be shoplifting, or not consuming as much, are totally fine going and buying crap from other anarchists.

    if there wasnt a large anarchist community in portland, i have little doubt that red and black cafe would not be able to compete with starbucks. it's close to impossible to have decent working conditions and be able to compete with capitalist businesses who pay their workers minimum wage.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I have a friend who works for an anarchist coffee shop--the friend and shop will remain anonymous--who gets paid less than Starbucks workers. And he's been saying for a little while now that worker-owned cooperatives are capitalism's wet dream, because they make the system run more efficiently.

    I agree with that argument. Capitalism has long been encouraging *participation* as a means to be more efficient. 'Eliminating' (actually diffusing/displacing) the basic antagonism between workers and bosses in a workplace means that coop-workers identify WITH their workplace, so they won't steal, won't sabotage, won't strike, won't fuck up, won't skip work, won't slack off as much. They will work harder for less pay.

    And for the record I am writing this from inside an anarchist worker-owned business where the worker/owners make about $3-4 an hour.

    ReplyDelete
  6. re: MC

    The reality at this point is that to get basic necessities and luxuries, you need to use currency as a medium of exchange. Sorry all my fellow anarchist comrades out there, but until we create LEGIT networks of communes and interlocking anarchist neighborhoods, currency is going to be around...And even after that happens currency will probably still be around for generations to come. (SOME type of currency, not necessarily paper cash)

    Bartering only works fairly with, at the very least, comfortable acquaintances and sharing also fairly and continuously works with those you basically consider kin. Don't be discouraged though, in some instances sharing has been extended to whole clans and networks to those people find close tight affinity with.

    So anyway, my point with that is, reality check. We need monies, not as a point of exploiting people or being greedy, but so that we can get legit currency to build and create the things we want to see.

    On cafe's and coops "not being a threat". Anarchist worker coops will be as much of a threat as those who run them want set them out to be. Treat the "Shop" as a point of interaction into anarchism. There are so many ways that can happen...with events, lectures, discussions, movies, literature, classes, fundraising for the cause, etc etc. It's all in how you (yes i know it sounds bad) "market" yourself. Yes, it's run by anarchists, but a successful anarchist worker co-op (in my opinion) will bring in and KEEP bringing in folks from all walks of life and all levels of social and political consciousness.

    Build the party yo.

    ReplyDelete
  7. RE: person who has friend who works at anarchist coffee shop

    The logic of worker cooperatives being a capitalist wet dream is ridiculous.

    If what you're saying is true, why isn't every corporation or business that's profitting immensely at this moment a worker cooperative?

    At every job I or a friend has ever worked, the business tries to coax you into being a "team player" and making you feel as if you're truly on equal footing in the company without actually giving you any of those benefits.

    Also, for the record, every successful worker cooperative Dana Ward talked about that was NOT anarchist and still somewhat hierarchical brought the profit margin from the lowest paid worker to the highest paid worker unbelievably hella down compared to the normal profit margin of multinational corporation's lowest paid workers and CEOs. Not advocating heirarchical and neutral worker coops...but just sayinnn...

    I also don't believe you about everyone being paid $3-4 dollars an hour at the business you're in. Are you referring to a volunteer run business?

    Please don't tell me you're talking about Subrosa or other infoshops like it. Subrosa = totally not worker owned and controlled and totally not good at marketing...(the head honchos' idea of what they are is way vague)
    I've volunteered there. I hope they drown themselves out of business in a pool of bureaucracy and fucked up dynamics.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I also have a friend who works at a certain worker owned place who gets paid 3-4 dollars. Maybe that's the same one the other poster is talking about. IT's definitely not sub-rosa.

    If you get rid of your physical boss, you still have the boss of capital breathing down yer back. In comparison to the normal job, I'd love to work in a place that is worker owned and pays alright (which is kind of rare), but I haven't any illusions that that's going to liberate me from this shit-hole and bring about anarchy.

    Big and small, burn them all. Localism, co-ops, whatever are not in anyway exterior to capital. They might treat us nicer, tho. but...main street is still wall street, to detourn the whole idiotic Tea Party populism.

    t-c

    ReplyDelete
  9. re: t-c

    of course everything you mentioned in your last paragraph isn't exterior to capital. and of course you'll still have capital ("the invisible hand") guiding and breathing down your back. That's kinda how trade works. If you're not good at marketing or giving people a reason to buy your goods or be apart of whatever business then you go out of business. money doesn't just come flooding in when you open a business. the things you want don't just happen, you have to work for it.

    one of the points i was alluding to in my response above to MC is that trading with currency isn't going away anytime soon. we can
    start our own anarchist worker co-operatives so
    that we can utilize the current system of trading currency not so that we can join the game, exploit people, get greedy, etc etc, but so that we can create points of interaction with anarchism and get monies to build the movement and help create a different world.

    Trade has and will always exist to some degree. Sorry but that's just how it is.

    ReplyDelete
  10. "but so that we can create points of interaction with anarchism and get monies to build the movement and help create a different world." -

    But how is this kind of interaction any different than anything else in capitalist society?

    I went to the Red and Black cafe in Portland a couple times - there's really nothing different there than any other place other than that I can get vegan food, coffee, and look at anarchist shit on a shelf. It's still a business, although a cooperative and alternative one. It's cool it's a meeting space, but other than that it's just another business for a market that goes there - anarchists.

    I can see how such a project might be useful for other things or generate cash for projects, but I fail to see how 25 people who only hang out there because it's a subcultural hang out are creating a 'new world.'

    -crudo

    ReplyDelete
  11. Re crudo:

    in a way it's not really that different.
    the differences are in the way these businesses are run (worker controlled/owned), how they're not just for buying and selling, and that they're "Anarchist" businesses.

    They can take a side in civil war. They can be a part of building the movement, the party, and creating zones of opacity.

    If those 25 people are hanging out there as a political choice, either because they want to meet other like-minded individuals or support the business because of what it is and stands for, then I'd say, though small, it's contributing to creating a "new world".

    However, if they're going there soley to be a part of an image and look "cool" because it's marketed to them or they wanna feel "revolutionary" then no, it's definitely not.

    At the same time, there's a point at which the political meets the subcultural. When the political choice becomes part of creating or contributing to a culture or subculture. You dig?

    If Red & Black is just like Subrosa then I agree with you. Subrosa, perhaps consciously at first and now unconsciously, markets itself as a subcultural ghetto. It's really sad and the dynamics of how the space operates is also really sad too.

    ReplyDelete
  12. "They can take a side in civil war. They can be a part of building the movement, the party, and creating zones of opacity." -

    If were talking about the movement having a need for space, then you've sold me. However, I think that that space is needed in a bunch of different ways. Why are there no anarchist cooperative car mechanic or free oil change places and just a bunch of bike coops? Why do we have vegan cafes and not other restaurants or bars for that matter?

    Keep in mind there is a difference in what were talking about. You seem to be saying we need space but also that these spaces can BE the revolution. I'm saying that they can serve a function in gettting us cash for other shit or a space for us to do things from. They have a utility, but in there existance alone often they are problematic because the composition of the anarchist scene is problematic.

    "If those 25 people are hanging out there as a political choice, either because they want to meet other like-minded individuals or support the business because of what it is and stands for, then I'd say, though small, it's contributing to creating a "new world"." -

    Perhaps, but why are they there? If they are there because under capital they realize the need to destroy it, then tight. But if they are there because simply the store has the commodities that they desire to consume (vegan food, fair trade coffee, anarchist zines, free wi fi, a place to be transient all day), then I don't see anything special about that.

    "At the same time, there's a point at which the political meets the subcultural. When the political choice becomes part of creating or contributing to a culture or subculture. You dig?" -

    I feel there's a difference in having a subculture, and being a counter force against society. Maybe it's semantics in the long run, but I feel it's an important difference.

    -crudo

    ReplyDelete
  13. Anarchist spots are nice to have around, I suppose. They can be useful for various things. Still, they're not really my thing -- never really felt too comfortable in those kinds of spaces and also never really spent much energy on maintaining them or starting them. I think building these kinds of spaces can be useful and other times it might not be. I don't think I need an anarchist bike co-op or a oil change place. I'm happy to let Capital provide them for me in exchange for being able to spend my energies trying to overthrow it.

    A spot to make signs and banners and to maybe show movies... sure, I could go for that I suppose. But, I think we would be making a mistake to try to fit these organizations into some kind of prefigurative role for what we want either in or after "the revolution". And I don't think they can challenge Capital in any meaingful way.

    Anyhow, I think the closest we're going to get to a view for what we ought to be aiming for is something like the insurrection in Paris 1968 combined with the LA riots. Speaking very generally, that is. And I think there will be some of Argentina in there, too. Looking at the revolutions in Eastern Europe in 1989 offers some insights, too. Most that action took place in the streets. Of course, there was Solidarity, too, in Poland, which was production oriented. Perhaps the East Coast might see something similar in parts of it. Broadly speaking, though, I don't think we'll see a lot of that kind of thing just because people aren't organized that way.

    When we look at those examples we see general strikes, occupations, arson, looting, confrontations with police and military, etc. Work that tension out in struggle. Most insurrections happen in the street anyhow, so I doubt people will be punching the time clock much when things really heat up. Blockades, barricades. The usual ingredients will prevail depending on the conditions.

    Since Capital is everywhere these days, we're talking about a revolt against it that will probably not specifically be located around production. Still, I find it hard to believe that it will ignore it either.

    In a lot of ways, I don't think its terribly useful to attempt to predict the formations we'll use when our class finally pushes the system into crisis. And, as I said, I don't think any of the models we use now will likely serve as the sledgehammer that brings down the system. Businesses are businesses, coop or not. The context is Capital and that doesn't change. That's the problem, after all.

    In my opinion, our role is to help nurture and birth the crisis (and to help give it shape) and to spread libertarian ideas. We should look for contradictions and explore them, tear them open if we can and it seems useful to do so. Then, when shit really pops off, we need to help push things to go as far as they can as fast as they can, and to watch our tails to undermine recuperationists and reactionaries. I think those will be much more important than trying to prefigure what shape the resistance will take. It'll probably surprise a lot of us when it shows up on our doors. But we should be prepared to defend it when it manifests.

    Still, the recent insurrections around the world have used all the tactics I listed above. I suppose a more useful question, which you might be getting at, is whether there will be an "American soviet" -- that is, a revolutionary formation that defines the resistance of the people. I don't know if there will be, but if there is it will reflect our specific conditions.

    -PI

    ReplyDelete
  14. Here's some other analysis from the event: http://www.anarchistnews.org/?q=node/10645

    -crudo

    ReplyDelete
  15. i am going to read this later, but for now:
    1. self-organization is the first act of the revolution, it then becomes an obstacle for the revolution to overcome.
    2. "mutualism, where everyone works at ak press"
    3. whenever people say shit like "and then our worker coops will outcompete corporations" it makes me wonder if they come from another planet, or why they think capitalist businesses winning at being capitalist businesses has anything to do with anarchy anyway.
    4. anyone with a plan for the future is basically the enemy.
    5. the only plan for the future is setting it on fire.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Look what was hidden on indymedia:

    http://la.indymedia.org/news/2010/02/234925.php

    ReplyDelete
  17. Another report on Anarchy in Riverside (not the hidden one):

    http://la.indymedia.org/news/2010/02/234972.php

    ReplyDelete
  18. Hahaha this shit on indymedia was funny:


    The anarchists of Riverside got their shit together and decieded to do something.

    They alled taht shit "Anarchy inR Iversodea. It waws pretty fucken lame, but there was some,--a few ggoood points.

    zone was getting everyone togehtereretre. We need more times when we gjust get out r people together.l

    We have no communal house or anythig, We 're all just liveing with our fucking parents

    We doint's have any fucking communal food co-op. Or anything like that. Thats's why we gotta foucken do whoate we canwhen we can. So thar;sd's why it's all good.,




    LEmm tell you som e fo the good shutit anobout this EVENt. ONE, beside ws w3e all getting to gether, was there was a FOCUS on FEMINSIM.

    Miost pe0pople fo0dnont; know wWHAT the FUCK FEminsism ids ass all AOUT,.


    Well, there wa s apresentaiton ofn feminsim. IT WAS VERYB BORINFG


    But some people havbe on ideqa wahhatte is it isi do they eneed to be enlightened


    And for beginners, that was very fgoofdd. Fror me it was way below me. But fuck.

    I'm glad apeoplm are taking WOMENS" equality FUNKING ESERIOUSly!


    AAAAAAAAnother good thing::::: MODSDesto ANARCho came dopwn

    Begging for monery to get abbakck hoeM!!! Workling class heroes, I GGUEs!!

    They reall are tho...

    anyways,.. What IO ;oslemtt like about theuir was talk was that they BESIDES THIER FUNKING ATTIDTUDE was that they talked about how to fan the flame of tension--for one I saw them talking about how to ESXACERBATE them (ESPECIALLY CLASS tension) wich is ggoad

    and for 2 how to use those tensi0ons as an organizing platform

    Which tied into the OTHERv thing I liked about their talk which was HOW to to builkd alliances, seek allies. This was the cool part, yo.... THEY talkaed aqbout forging ties to indigenous people, working class people, anti POLICE BRUTALIty heads, ALL GOOD ties to be maikgng! And how that has worjekkerd aout podsitivciely for them,.

    It thrue tohoothght wha t"they ASwsyqa BAout Mofestdeso Anrcho CREw you (A) Gossip hesdas sweill know thwa t I'm talking aboutotjpajrtoput


    anyways thenand then Dana Ward talked about """SUPonsedely ehweaw stalking aBout "ANasrfchist I"Infranstrecuteureureuj"

    That shit was BORINF! Peoplew wer e fallin gg asleep, cescept for thoe One Homie!!!

    He neeeeeeds to lsaeadttenewn how to take the temperature of a room and know when to QUITITIT!

    He wanted to tal;k to us about wehatt t we wanted ot know about but OF COURSE he got off on his own thisng!!! BORINFG!


    Most of us are unemnployed andf have no HOPE EVER of collectivisizizizing out nor our non-eECXISTASTANT worjkplace!

    WTDF!>!>!?!?


    hge wants to ehp, his heart is in the wrong place, the 19th centureyy

    There was a fake debate! What's your idea of liberatioN!

    And he tried to say Modesto wasn;''t WORKING VLASLLASDD!SS!


    LOLOLOLHAHAHHA


    FFF***

    Anywasysys sthere wawere som,e SEXIST assholes! that tiereien tyot upset the party and fdirsrupt COMAUSE SDOMEW FUCKING IDIONTS thisknk ANARCHY means ndoing wwwwwahtEVERER the FUCJ K you want W?O /without responefcting aanyone else!

    They think it's OK to barge in anf d opent heir large whiute amle sass MOUTHS during the ferminism WORLjsksuop wand not ced the VOICe to others! Fuscccck Youi!

    AWere we too harchs??FUCK NOQ!

    that';s it, any ways.

    ReplyDelete