In a totalitarian regime (whether it be political, like the Stalinist government of the Soviet Union, or socio-economic, like the corporate capitalism of our day), in which the whole of human relations is regulated, fragmentary resistance to any one aspect of that regime — environmental destruction, police brutality, child abuse, racism, employee ennui — can only fail. The totality itself must be contested, the basic paradigms as well as their specific manifestations… not in order to impose another totalitarian order, but to open new horizons for everyone.
For this, a resistance is needed which does not standardize those who participate in it, in which individuals can help each other to break free in the process of creat... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.) Like most political words, democracy is an “essentially contested” concept—its meaning is itself a political battleground. What political ideologies do, as mass patterns of political expression, is to “de-contest” or fix the meaning of such concepts and place them in particular relationships. The term “equality,” for example, can mean equal access to advantage (liberalism), equal responsibility to the national community (fascism), or equal power in a classless society (anarchism). On such a reading, there is no way objectively to determine the meaning of such concepts—all that exists are distinct usages, each of them regularly grouped with other concepts in one or another ideological formation... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.) What happened to all the optimism of the last election season, all that business about hope and change? For decades, we’ve pinned our hopes on one candidate after another, but now it seems like people are finally giving up on the whole charade. The only ones who still take it seriously are the protesters playing democracy in the street.
Why has democracy failed us? Is it the Electoral College, voting machines, gerrymandering—the sort of thing that could be remedied by electoral reform? That wouldn’t explain why we’re still disappointed with the results even when our favorite candidate gets in.
Is it corporate influence perverting politicians’ agendas and controlling the media? Sure—but when power is dis... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.) Broadly speaking, democracy and capitalism were stabilized throughout the 20th century via the progressive inclusion of populations that had previously been excluded from the privileges of voting and property ownership. This began with women’s suffrage and the Fordist compromise, continued through desegregation and the end of the European colonial empires, and concluded with the collapse of the Soviet bloc. Since then, almost the entire world has been integrated into neoliberalism, an economic system premised on the ceaseless concentration of capital in fewer and fewer hands at the top, and a race to the bottom for wage-earners. Now that it is a worldwide system, there are fewer opportunities to draw in resources with which to continu... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.) What harm could possibly come of using the discourse of democracy to describe the object of our movements for liberation? We can answer this question with a fable drawn from history: the story of the uprising that took place in Paris in June 1848.
David Graeber has drawn parallels between the revolutions of 1848 and the uprisings of 2011. None of the revolutionary movements of 1848 managed to hold power for more than a couple years. Yet the basic goals that they fought for were widely achieved within a few decades: everywhere, monarchies were giving way to constitutional democracies, with universal suffrage and social safety nets on the way. The argument by analogy is that, though the uprisings that peaked in 2011 were not immediately succ... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.) On October 1, during a referendum on Catalan independence, Spanish police attacked crowds of voters, smashed out the windows of schools hosting polling stations, and beat senior citizens at random. In response, a massive general strike took place in Barcelona on October 3. By setting up this opposition between the violence of the Spanish police and the self-organization of Catalan voters, proponents of independence have created the impression that nationalism and democracy offer a solution to state oppression and police violence. In the process, they’ve invested Catalan police and politicians with renewed legitimacy. Yet what if democracy, nationalism, and police violence are not opposing phenomena, but three aspects of the same thing... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.) Talking Tactics: The Mass Action Model versus the Autonomous Action Model
In the past six years, the North American anarchist movement has gone through all the stages of a turbulent love affair with mass actions, including messy breakups and attempted reconciliations. In the process, some anarchists have taken up with other approaches to demonstration activism—including, most notably, an emphasis on more autonomous, decentralized actions. In this review of the past year’s demonstrations, we’ll discuss the strengths and weaknesses of both approaches, and analyze how these have played out in the streets.
In considering how to evaluate both mass and autonomous actions, we should begin by establishing what it is fair to expe... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.) One of the basic ways that police maintain violent control of our society is by interfering with our ability to breathe—and sometimes with our ability to see. Nowadays, regardless of whether you employ confrontational tactics, you could be exposed to tear gas or hit by a rubber bullet just by being is in the vicinity of a protest. By taking the proper precautions, we can mitigate the risks while continuing to show up for each other. This guide explores a wide range of options for protecting your eyes and lungs from chemical agents and projectiles, detailing the advantages and disadvantages of each, so you can pick out what’s best for you.
This is the second in a series of guides exploring how demonstrators can protect themselve... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.) As violence intensifies from police, federal officers, and fascist groups around the country, it’s important to think about how to protect ourselves. No one should have to choose between preserving bodily safety and organizing in our communities—yet batons, impact munitions, and street attacks are designed to force us to decide between the two. It’s not a question of whether you employ confrontational tactics—nowadays, anyone who is in a protest situation could become a target. By taking the proper precautions, we can mitigate the risks while continuing to show up for each other. This guide explores a wide range of protective headgear, detailing the advantages and disadvantages of each, so you can pick out what&rsquo... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.) Gunshot wounds are becoming more common at demonstrations. This is not to say you should panic—millions of people have participated in demonstrations over the past four months, while only dozens have been shot. Still, as political conflict escalates in the United States, it is important to think about how we can care for and protect each other. The good news is that even if you have no medical training, there are things you can do to maximize the likelihood that a person who is shot in your vicinity will survive—simple things like learning the location of the nearest trauma center. Though this subject can be stressful to contemplate, the following guide may equip you to help save lives.
While many demonstrators have learned how... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.) If there’s one thing that police officers prefer to hitting people with sticks, it’s shooting blunt objects and chemical weapons at people. Arms manufacturers are constantly developing new ways to assault people from a distance—and taxpayers keep buying new toys for their oppressors.
This article offers an overview of less-lethal projectiles—both chemical weapons and impact munitions. The police themselves don’t bother distinguishing the two. We’ll cover chemical weapons like tear gas and pepper spray. We’ll cover impact weapons like baton rounds, rubber bullets, and pepper-balls. We’ll cover the systems police use to apply these weapons, including air guns, sprays, grenades, grenade launcher... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.) There is an invisible world connected at the handle to every tool—use the tool as it is intended, and it fits you to the mold of all who do the same; disconnect the tool from that world, and you can set out to chart others.”
The ideal capitalist product would derive its value from the ceaseless unpaid labor of the entire human race. We would be dispensable; it would be indispensable. It would integrate all human activity into a single unified terrain, accessible only via additional corporate products, in which sweatshop and marketplace merged. It would accomplish all this under the banner of autonomy and decentralization, perhaps even of “direct democracy.”
Surely, were such a product ... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.) Designed to Kill analyzes US border control policy, exploring how its actual effects and objectives differ from its ostensible purpose. The conclusions are based on several years of firsthand observation of both sides of the border by a participant in No More Deaths. For additional context, Four Stories from the Border offers glimpses into the lives of those who risk death to cross the border. These texts have since been expanded into a book, No Wall They Can Build, which you can download for free or order online.
for everyone who didn’t make it, and for everyone who did
For a number of years now I’ve worked in the desert on the Mexican-American border with a group that provides humanitarian aid to migrants who are attempting ... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.) “I wish all the people who’ve killed themselves were still alive — and all the people who are alive would kill themselves!”
If there is a social stratum below the exploited underclass, a demographic that suffers most from the absurdities of our society, it is the suicides. The suicidal class — every minute, a few more hit the pavement. Who is more dispossessed than them? They are only recognized when they absent themselves; only their blood speaks on their behalf. They know better than anyone else what must change about this world, and yet in despair of ever changing it they avenge themselves upon the only victims in easy reach — giving a new meaning to the saying that those who make half a revolution di... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.) The modern manufacture of computers, automobiles and other complex technological products requires an exorbitant amount of waste and pollution, a dramatic division of labor, and an international hierarchy. As anarchists, regardless of whether or not we adopt the viewpoint of primitivists, we must either develop brand new ways of manufacturing complex technologies which circumvent these problems, or we must understand that an anarchist society will be unable to produce complex technologies without compromising our principles. I will examine the personal computer as an example of the problems posed by manufacture of complex technologies – a process I call “destructive production.” The heart of a computer – the tiny par... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.) As even the Russian state news service admits, the ongoing revolt in Nicaragua against Daniel Ortega’s government is coming largely from the left side of the political spectrum. While supporters of the authoritarian left exhort people to support “left” governments no matter what neoliberal policies they implement or how many people they slaughter, we believe that the declining fortunes of left governments throughout Latin America are not just the consequences of CIA conspiracies but also the consequence of real shortcomings of the institutional left and of government itself. Doubtless, various capitalists and state actors have their own agendas for Nicaragua and they hope to take advantage of the uprising to implement them... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.) Adapted from George Orwell’s Homage to Catatonia.
Does your father drift from one hobby to another, fruitlessly seeking a meaningful way to spend the little “leisure time” he gets off from work? Does your mother endlessly redecorate the house, going from one room to the next until she can start over at the beginning again? Do you agonize constantly over your future, as if there was some kind of track laid out ahead you—and the world would end if you turned off of it? If the answer to these questions is yes, it sounds like you’re in the clutches of the bourgeoisie, the last barbarians on earth.
The Martial Law of Public Opinion
Public opinion is an absolute value to the bourgeois man and woman because they kn... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.) To wrap up our series on the day of action on January 20, 2017 and the protracted legal struggle that followed it, we present this outside submission from a group including J20 defendants. In May 2018, at the opening of the second J20 trial, a call to action appeared entitled “Freedom for J20 Defendants,” encouraging people to take a more confrontational approach in the solidarity campaign. The following text begins where that one left off, functioning as a reflection, critique, and addendum. While this is not the way that we would put things, we consider it important that various dissenting viewpoints enter the historical record to inform future organizing.
All charges have been dismissed for the J20 defendants. Congratulatio... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.) Over a century ago, a famous writer quipped that the industrial worker was “a mere appendage of flesh on a machine of iron.” Today, that description can be applied across the board: each of us is no more than an appendage of flesh on the vast machine that is our society, for our lives and communities are atomized into isolated sectors. If we want to change the whole of life, we must first become whole again.
Separation: the Disintegration of the Self
Modern man’s activity is compartmentalized: it is divided and subdivided into separate components which can only interfere with each other. He experiences life as an ongoing conflict between achievement, romance, social responsibility, fitness, relaxation, adventure, and so ... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.) How should we understand the impending presidency of Donald Trump? What should we be prepared for? While some have framed Trump’s victory as a sign of resurgent fascism, our guest contributor argues that we should see it as the latest development in a much older phenomenon, which is not an interruption of democracy but intimately interlinked with it.
There are many ways to conceptualize the relationship between democracy and fascism, and this is a dangerous time to take anything for granted; we will be publishing more on this subject shortly. In the meantime, this is a useful contribution towards analyzing the dangers ahead and how to ready ourselves for them.
Fascism is Obsolete, Whiteness is Here to Stay
Long before Donald Tru... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.) Throughout the history of Western civilization the relationship of human beings to other animals has never been particularly “civil.” What was once an uneasy coexistence swiftly became a relationship of domination and exploitation as humankind became more organized and technologically developed. In recent years, animal rights activists have brought international attention to the treatment and living conditions of animals in factory farms, zoos, circuses, and laboratories, but a serious discussion has yet to begin about the lives of the animals that exist in an environment that strikes much closer to home–the lives of domesticated animals, of our own household pets. A consideration of the lives our pets must lead reveals th... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.) The 2017 G20 summit provoked the most intense clashes in Germany yet this century. We were there providing continuous coverage; in the month since, we’ve synthesized the reports from Hamburg to produce a complete chronology and analysis. This is an epic story of state violence and popular resistance on a scale rarely witnessed in the US and northern Europe.
Executive summary: the police attempted to use brute force to isolate and terrorize all who came to demonstrate against the G20, but in the process, they turned a large part of the population against them and the city spiraled out of control. This reminds us that the most important events take place on the margins of any given conflict—the spread of rebellion is more signifi... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.) Introduction by CrimethInc.
In April, a countrywide revolt broke out in Nicaragua against neoliberal reforms introduced by the government of Daniel Ortega, a Sandinista revolutionary from the 1980s. We worked with Nicaraguan anarchists who participated at the forefront of the movement to bring you the following interview, offering an overview of the events and an analysis of the difficulties of organizing against leftist authoritarian governments while resisting right-wing cooptation.
The FSLN (Sandinista National Liberation Front) overthrew the US-backed military dictatorship of Somoza in 1979 and held power from 1979 to 1990. [For a brief summary of US interventions in Nicaragua during that time, read this text by Noam Chomsky.] After 1... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.) This step-by-step guide explains how to protect yourself from online stalkers, why it is important, and what to do if you are targeted for “doxxing”—the publishing of your private information. In a era of universal surveillance, when livestreamers broadcast every major demonstration while fascists, FBI agents, and police officers comb through social media posts to gather intelligence with which to harass activists, there has never been a better time to take steps to secure your privacy. Here’s how.
Introduction: One Person’s Story
I have been active in my community for years. Not long ago, far-right trolls found social media accounts of my friends, family, and workplace. They stalked me and used the photos th... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.) Editor’s introduction: Possibly the best text any of us have written on the subject of ideology is a letter Nadia once sent to a friend in response to an article he had written with her help (her original title for the piece had been “The Political Struggle is the Struggle Against the Political,” which he changed to “Against the Shallowness of the Political”)… so here is her letter, reprinted from his private collection. Remember, whatever you believe imprisons you.
“The ideologist is a man who falls for the fraud perpetrated on him by his own intellect: that an idea, i.e. the symbol of a momentarily perceived reality, can possess absolute reality.”
–Socrates, refuting Plato&rsq... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.) Last month, a crowd tore down a Confederate monument in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, continuing a tradition of iconoclasm initiated in nearby Durham a year ago after the clashes in Charlottesville. Now, as we approach Columbus Day 2018, a panel of experts is debating the fate of the Columbus statue in St. Louis, where several other recent struggles have taken place against police and white supremacy. It’s a good time to revisit the colonization of the so-called New World and Native, African, and underclass resistance against it.
This story extends from the islands of the Caribbean to the settlement that became St. Louis, charting the origins of the statue that stands in Tower Grove Park today. The following text contains many descrip... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.) Foreword by CrimethInc.
The autonomous region of Rojava has gained international visibility as a beacon of struggle against the Islamic State and other forms of autocratic power, an experiment in which many anarchists are currently participating. Yet Rojava is not the only region in which a struggle for self-determination has expanded to open a path towards total liberation. In north Africa, in the region of Kabylia, an ethnic minority oppressed by racism and state oppression has initiated in a series of revolts comparable to what the Kurds have accomplished in Rojava and the Zapatistas in Chiapas. Throughout decades of struggle, they have established zones of autonomy and built bridges to others in revolt, in hopes of bringing about &ldqu... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.) We just received this inspiring and instructive report from anonymous comrades in Russia, describing two years of struggle against logging operations in one of the major forests near Moscow. The struggle culminated this summer in the “Khimki battle,” in which several hundred armed antifascists and anarchists attacked a government building in suburban Moscow; the authorities responded in kind, and subsequent solidarity efforts in Belarus provoked further repression.
Most of the links in this text lead to Russian-language pages; those too busy to teach themselves Russian can at least plug the website addresses into Google translate and struggle through computer-generated translations.
Prelude: A Spiking We Will Go
We learned of... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.) North Africa is in revolt. As usual, the most striking thing is how familiar everything is: the young man with the prestigious degree working at a coffee shop, the unemployment and bitterness, the protests set off by police brutality—for police are to the unemployed what bosses are to workers. These details cue us in that what is happening in Egypt is not part of another world, but very much part of our own. There are no exotic overseas revolutions in the 21st century. Make no mistake—though these events dwarf the riots in Greece and the student movement in England, they spring from the same source.
To keep up with events, we urge you to read our comrades’ dispatches from Egypt and anti-authoritarian perspectives from the... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.) Just in time for the anniversary of the beginning of the Egyptian uprising, we’ve received this report from a comrade who participated in the most recent clashes in Cairo. It offers an overview of the current context in Egypt, along with photos and video footage from the front lines.
Live from the Streets of Cairo
When we heard gunshots coming from the cabinet building, we were certain they were blanks. Despite having seen the military use live rounds earlier that day, we had a naïve sense of security among the thousands in the streets.
When the screams and panic erupted as one of the people standing next to me was shot in the neck and rushed to the ambulances at the back of the crowd, we stayed put, along with most of the cro... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)