Democracy and Commune; This and That
Democracy: “a system of government in which all the people of a state or polity… are involved in making decisions about its affairs, typically by voting to elect representatives to a parliament or similar assembly,” (a:) “government by the people; especially: rule of the majority” (b:) “a government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised by them directly or indirectly through a system of representation usually involving periodically held free elections.” —Oxford English Dictionary
I hate democracy. And I hate organizations, especially communes. Yet, I favor the organization of democratic communes.
Democracy is ... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.) Like the United States and many other countries, Turkey has been on a trajectory towards escalating authoritarianism for a long time; it is arguably further along this trajectory than most. How did an autocratic government gain control in Turkey, forging an alliance between a once-secular nationalism and fundamentalist Islam? Studying the roots of present-day fascism in Turkey will help us to understand the origins of the Turkish invasion of Rojava, identify potential comrades and fault lines within Turkish society, and catch a glimpse of what the future may look like everywhere if we don’t succeed in halting the rise of autocracy.
The appendix includes an interview with a member of Revolutionary Anarchist Action, an anarchist organi... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.) In May 2011, tens of thousands occupied plazas throughout Spain in a protest movement that prefigured similar occupations around the world, including the Occupy movement in the United States. On March 29, 2012, a nationwide general strike erupted into massive street-fighting in Barcelona, as participants wrested control of the streets from riot police. How did this come to pass, and what can it tell us about what will follow the occupation movements outside Spain?
Here, our Barcelona correspondent provides extensive background on the riots of March 29, tracing the trajectory from the plaza occupations to the general strike, and explores the questions that have arisen as anarchists face new opportunities and challenges.
&ldq... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.) Introduction
Since the mid-19th century, anarchists have maintained that the key to liberation is not to seize the state but to abolish it. From Paris to St. Petersburg, from Barcelona to Beijing, one generation of revolutionaries after another has had to learn this lesson the hard way. Shuffling politicians in and out of power changes nothing. What matters are the instruments of rule — the police, the military, the courts, the prison system, the bureaucracy. Whether it is a king, a dictator, or a Congress that directs these instruments, the experience on the receiving end remains roughly the same.
This explains why the outcome of the Egyptian revolution of 2011–2013 was not all that different from the outcome of the Russian... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.) We’ve received the following open letter from Chili expressing support for the occupations of ICE offices and detention centers around the United States. It offers a useful perspective from outside the boundaries of the US.
Charting Transit despite the State
We stand in solidarity with comrades across the world who are bravely barricading and occupying ICE detention centers in the so-called United States, in cities like Tacoma, Portland, Atlanta, San Francisco, and New York. The politicians in their offices shuffle papers while the liberals hold signs nicely asking the government to stop ripping families apart and traumatizing children. By contrast, these partisans understand that the gravity of the issue at hand—human life a... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.) What do anarchists mean when we talk about love? For some the word is inextricably associated with pacifism. Spiritual leaders like Martin Luther King, Jr. preached love and nonviolence as one and the same. “Peace and love”—together, these words have become a mantra invoked to impose passivity on those who would stand up for themselves. But does love always mean peace? Do we need to throw out the one if we disagree tactically with the other? What does it mean for us to extoll love in such a violent time, when more and more people are losing faith in nonviolence? What is actually at stake in embracing or rejecting the rhetoric of love?
This word, love, has been stretched so thin as to be almost transparent, defined so vari... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.) So do we—a total break with domination and hierarchy in all their forms, involving an armed uprising if need be. Until that’s possible, we’ll settle for recurring clashes in which to develop our skills, find comrades, and emphasize the gulf between ourselves and our oppressors.
But how do we bring about these confrontations? How do we ensure that they strengthen us more than our enemies? What pitfalls await us on this road? And what else do we have to do to make our efforts effective?
Over the past few years, a small current has gained visibility in US anarchist circles prioritizing the themes of insurrection and social conflict. Like any ideological milieu, it’s a lot more diverse than it appears from a distance. ... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.) In the early morning hours of May 18, 2010, three black-clad figures darted out of a branch of Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) located in a trendy Ottawa shopping district; moments later the building was engulfed in flames.
News of the attack spread quickly through the corporate and alternative media, setting the tone for the looming G20 protests in Toronto: they would be militant, they would be confrontational, and they would be angry.
Although it stood out as a particularly brazen example of direct action, the RBC arson did not occur in a vacuum; that particular branch, along with countless others throughout the country, had already been subject to a campaign of targeted property destruction dating back as early as 2007. A major sponsor of t... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.) On September 16, anarchist, anti-fascist, engineering student, and queer activist Scout Schultz was shot and killed by police on Georgia Tech campus in Midtown Atlanta. This loss has shaken Scout’s friends and family and terrorized many others, including activists, queer youth, and those with mental health concerns across campus and the city at large. Two weeks after Scout’s murder, Scout’s lover and close friend Dallas Punja took their own life. (Both Scout and Dallas used they/them pronouns.) Dallas described being traumatized by police sirens and police lights after Scout’s killing. These two tragic deaths drive home what is at stake in the conflict that pits anarchists and queer youth against police and the repre... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.) When you resolve to take your destiny into your own hands, it’s hard to know where to start. Ceding responsibility to others is easy: you vote for a political party, you donate to a nonprofit group, you pay taxes to a government, you enlist in an army, you enroll in a school, you work for a corporation, you convert to a religion. Practically our whole society is arranged that way. It can be daunting to come up with your own agenda, to start over with yourself as the agent of history.
But you’re not starting from scratch. You have talents, longings, and dreams that you have given up on pursuing because there seems to be no space for them in this world. The first step is to rediscover them. We aren’t just talking a negative... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.) A secret children’s book passed from hand to hand, invisible to the market. After a decade and a half, we’re finally offering a zine version of The Secret World of Duvbo, the companion to our other children’s book, The Secret World of Terijian. This is a story about the furtive outlets we create for the parts of ourselves that do not fit into our ordinary lives—about the potential for transformation hidden within seemingly staid and conservative communities—about how the courage of one can become the courage of all.
This story has followed a long and winding path to reach your hands. The plot line was conceived in São Paulo, Brazil in early 2000. The first draft was composed at the end of January 2002, ... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.) For every forest destroyed
For every elf who fights back
It will be years before you read this story, and longer still before you find the messages I’ve smuggled to you in it. By the time you read this, the world of Terijian will probably be gone. It seems the elves who live there have disappeared. I wait and wait, but they never return. The elves seem to be dying with their forests.
But I’ll let you in on something I wish I’d learned a long time ago. No one is born an elf; there are only those who choose to act as elves.
Perhaps I didn’t learn this in time to save Terijian, but if you are brave enough to hope and strong enough to act, then maybe I will have saved Terijian after all—in you.... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.) Over the past three decades, Earth First! has waged a life-or-death campaign to halt the destruction of the natural environment. Right now, the Earth First! Roadshow is halfway through a five month revival tour across the United States, sharing direct action skills, ecodefense history, and opportunities to get involved in protecting the wilderness. Consult their schedule here to see if they’ll be passing through your bioregion before the tour ends at this summer’s Earth First! rendezvous in Cascadia. One of the acts on the roadshow, a puppet show teaching basic security culture skills, is especially timely in view of recent government efforts to entrap and frame environmental activists. We’ve obtained the script and an aud... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.) When I would look through magazines as a small child, I used to think that there must be a magical world somewhere where everything looked—and was—perfect. I could see pictures from it in those pages, the smoky air of dimly-lit rooms heavy with drama as the young models lounged in designer fashions. That is where excitement and adventure is to be found, I thought, in the world where every room is flawlessly decorated and every woman’s wardrobe is picked and matched with daring and finesse. I resolved to have an adventurous life of my own, and began looking for those rooms and women right away. And though I’ve discovered since then that romance and excitement rarely come hand in hand with the images of them that are p... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.) It is December 17, 2011. One year ago today, Mohamed Bouazizi set himself on fire in response to his mistreatment by the Tunisian police, setting off a chain reaction worldwide. Let no one forget that the wave of uprisings still sweeping the globe did not simply spring from the hard work of activists, however long some labored to pave the way. It did not begin with people setting out to better themselves or the world. It began with the ultimate gesture of despair and self-destruction.
Bouazizi was not enacting a strategy. He was alone, as alone as a person can be. By drawing back the curtain from injustice so we could come together to fight it, he gave us a precious gift, but a costlier gift than we have any right to receive. The European ... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.) Look at the hardcore community, from a distance—what do you see? The most visible signs of our existence, besides bands playing in basements and rented out halls, are the ‘zines and records we sell. And open up almost any one of those ‘zines, and you see advertisements for other ‘zines, other records, other products. In fact, aside from the advertisements, what are most of our ‘zines about? The record reviews, the ‘zine reviews, the top ten lists all deal with products to buy and sell. The photos of hardcore bands hopping around and shouting invariably feature kids dressed in certain styles (band shirts, tattoos, etc.), as if to indicate that these fashions, which are not too cheap, are an intrinsic part ... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.) A tremendous amount of attention has focused on Greece lately. Looking at the successful anarchist movement there, we can nurture utopian visions to strengthen our resolve; but if we only consider apparent success stories, we will not be prepared for the challenges ahead.
The entire Balkan peninsula is a sort of laboratory of crisis. Studying it, we can discern some of the possible futures that may await us now that North America seems to be entering an era of crisis as well. The vibrant anarchist movement in Greece represents one possible future, in which a powerful social movement establishes hubs of resistance. But only a few hundred kilometers north Serbia shows another: a nightmare of ethnic conflict, nationalist war, and false resist... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.) Seven Myths about the Police
The police exercise legitimate authority. In fact, the average police officer is not a legal expert; he probably knows his department protocol, but very little about the actual laws. This means his enforcement involves a great deal of bluffing, improvization, and dishonesty. Police lie on a regular basis: “I just got a report of someone of your description committing a crime around here. Want to show me some ID?”
This is not to say we should unthinkingly accept laws as legitimate, either. The entire judicial system protects the privileges of the wealthy and powerful. Obeying laws is not necessarily morally right—it may even be immoral. Slavery was legal, aiding escaped slaves illegal. The N... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.) As students head back to school for the fall, it’s a great time for young anarchists to form student organizations. But what if you’re not a student? Many young people can’t afford to go to school, yet have no better way to meet other intelligent people their age who also desire to create a better world. The following narrative traces the history of anarchist participation in student struggles in Atlanta through the eyes of a non-student participant. It shows how non-students can work with student groups to build momentum that spreads far beyond the limits of campus. To those who call this “outside agitation,” we counter: who has more right to occupy a school than those who already can’t afford to attend?... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.) Do you experience sexual problems? Do you have trouble getting aroused, or having sex that is fulfilling, or simply meeting the right partners to share that aspect of your life? Chances are you do — just have a look at the magazine rack in any grocery store, and it’s clear from all the advice columns and feature articles just how sexually lost and frustrated modern men and women are. Unfortunately, these magazines only offer symptomatic treatment (otherwise, they wouldn’t have to run the same articles over and over every month!), no real, radical solutions. And to date, few people have really dared to be open about their troubles, thanks to the social pressures to be “successful” in all affairs. So, in keeping ... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.) “We were aware of the activists, but I don’t think we understood exactly to what lengths they would go.”
– Warren Stevens, on dropping a $33 million loan to Huntingdon Life Sciences despite having vowed never to do so, following rioting at his offices in Little Rock and vandalism of his property
“The number of activists isn’t huge, but their impact has been incredible … There needs to be an understanding that this is a threat to all industries. The tactics could be extended to any other sectors of the economy.”
– Brian Cass, managing director of HLS
“Where all animal welfare and most animal rights groups insist on working within the legal boundaries of society, a... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.) HeartattaCk, a little-known newsprint periodical, has just published its final issue. This is a small tragedy for punks like me, as this magazine played an important role in political do-it-yourself punk over the past decade. But let’s pray for the dead and fight like hell for the living, as they say. HeartattaCk is dead, but political punk and the d.i.y. communities associated with it are not—so let’s talk about what we can do to keep them vital.
The milieu that HeartattaCk grew up in and nourished—the whole vinyl records with screenprinted covers, tortured lyrics about social issues, bands speaking between songs at basement shows, everyone doing their own one-issue ’zine thing—worked and flourished bec... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.) The Siege of the Third Precinct in Minneapolis
In this anonymous submission, participants in the uprising in Minneapolis in response to the murder of George Floyd explore how a combination of different tactics compelled the police to abandon the Third Precinct.
The following analysis is motivated by a discussion that took place in front of the Third Precinct as fires billowed from its windows on Day Three of the George Floyd Rebellion in Minneapolis. We joined a group of people whose fire-lit faces beamed in with joy and awe from across the street. People of various ethnicities sat side by side talking about the tactical value of lasers, the “share everything” ethos, interracial unity in fighting the police, and the trap of ... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.) The police are the absolute enemy. Grounded in slave patrols in the early American South, the institution has an unbroken history of protecting and upholding white supremacy. Recent movements in the United States have clarified this lineage of racist violence, beginning with slave patrols and culminating in indiscriminate police killings of black bodies. But white supremacy is not the only function of the police: the history of British policing is one of capturing and controlling unruly workers—of the creation of “white working class” subjects through a process of inclusion, discipline, and education. The police have a dual history: one of violent exclusion, one of insidious inclusion. If our opposition to the police rests... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.) Your smart phone knows more about you than anything else you own. A person can learn more about you and do more damage to your life by gaining access to your phone than they could by breaking into your home. What if you are forced to unlock your phone and hand it over to someone? We’re proposing that there should be a way to hand it over unlocked but without access to any of your private information and without access to do damage to you.
“Cop Mode” in iOS 11 is a brilliant feature — tap your side button five times and your phone disables Touch ID and requires your passcode to unlock. But as John Gruber and Jason Snell pointed out on The Talk Show, even if you have Touch ID turned off and you can’t be legal... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.) This is a translation of a solidarity statement from Slovenia, a nation that swept from obscurity into the spotlight as a result of Melania Trump’s impending stint as First Lady. Not everyone in Slovenia is excited about this sort of publicity. “Make Slovenia Slovakia again,” demanded one popular meme in Slovenia last fall, lampooning the ignorance of US citizens and rejecting media coverage as an exotic shopping district for mail-order brides.
Melania Trump’s own immigration history is hardly a model of unblemished legal conduct: like countless other immigrants, she was not always able to adhere to all the regulations. Supporting a politician who swept to power on promises to break up families and deport immigrants... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.) In Moscow, at the end of August 10, plainclothes police officers arrested the anarchist Alexei Polikhovich on his way home from Russia’s largest opposition demonstration since 2011. A local Moscow court formally charged Alexei with “petty hooliganism” and sentenced him to 13 days in jail. The arrest stemmed from a combative and passionate speech Alexei gave to thousands in Moscow that day. You can follow updates on his legal status here. We consider it especially important to support Russian anarchists in view of the recent slew of torture cases in Russia and the other risks that dissidents face there. Likewise, we consider international solidarity between anti-authoritarian and anti-capitalist movements to be the only hop... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.) On May Day 2017, anarchists participated in lively demonstrations all around the United States, from the heartland to the coasts. In the Northwest, Seattle witnessed a successful block party at the site of a juvenile corrections center, while in Olympia anarchists barricaded train tracks to oppose fracking and clashed with police. Support arrestees here. Yet Portland, Oregon may take the cake for the most creative and combative May Day. Demonstrators not only defended themselves from unprovoked attacks from police who declared the march a riot—they also introduced exciting new innovations into the esthetic of the black bloc street presence. Here, comrades from Portland explain their goals with the giant spiders they created for May Da... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.) It has recently come to light that over 31,000 police officers were on duty in Hamburg during last summer’s G20 summit. Of all the footage taken that week, one photograph truly captures the spirit and quality of policing during the G20. What is it about this picture that fascinates us? In this essay, our arts desk editor analyzes the image, illuminating what makes it so strangely compelling.
The eye begins with the circle of the bicycle wheel. A circle is not a spiral. In the wheel, all spokes exist in perfect tension, extending toward a perimeter that can only go around and around. Circles fascinate us because they are perfect in exactly the way life is not: they are static, endless, utterly smooth. A circle is a closed system. A sp... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.) Since February 15, the capitol building in Madison, Wisconsin has been at the center of a storm of popular protest against proposed austerity measures including anti-union legislation. Hundreds of people occupied the building until March 3, touching off other actions around the state, including an ongoing university occupation in Milwaukee that began March 2.
On March 9, while Senate Democrats were absent in protest, Wisconsin’s Republican Senators passed a bill stripping public-sector unions of collective bargaining rights. In response, thousands returned to the capitol building, forcing open windows and pushing past state patrolmen to reenter and occupy it. Police eventually gave up attempting to control the crowds, and the announc... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)