Tag Archives: Anarchism

Occupiers can learn from Anarchists

Here’s one of the more popular pamphlets distributed at Occupy Colorado Springs, courtesy of the DABC. DEAR OCCUPIERS: A LETTER FROM ANARCHISTS
 
Support and solidarity! We’re inspired by the occupations on Wall Street and elsewhere around the country. Finally, people are taking to the streets again! The momentum around these actions has the potential to reinvigorate protest and resistance in this country. We hope these occupations will increase both in numbers and in substance, and we’ll do our best to contribute to that.
 
Why should you listen to us? In short, because we’ve been at this a long time already. We’ve spent decades struggling against capitalism, organizing occupations, and making decisions by consensus. If this new movement doesn’t learn from the mistakes of previous ones, we run the risk of repeating them. We’ve summarized some of our hard-won lessons here.

Occupation is nothing new. The land we stand on is already occupied territory. The United States was founded upon the extermination of indigenous peoples and the colonization of their land, not to mention centuries of slavery and exploitation. For a counter-occupation to be meaningful, it has to begin from this history. Better yet, it should embrace the history of resistance extending from indigenous self-defense and slave revolts through the various workers’ and anti-war movements right up to the recent anti-globalization movement.

The “99%” is not one social body, but many. Some occupiers have presented a narrative in which the “99%” is characterized as a homogenous mass. The faces intended to represent “ordinary people” often look suspiciously like the predominantly white, law-abiding middle-class citizens we’re used to seeing on television programs, even though such people make up a minority of the general population.

It’s a mistake to whitewash over our diversity. Not everyone is waking up to the injustices of capitalism for the first time now; some populations have been targeted by the power structure for years or generations. Middle-class workers who are just now losing their social standing can learn a lot from those who have been on the receiving end of injustice for much longer.

The problem isn’t just a few “bad apples.” The crisis is not the result of the selfishness of a few investment bankers; it is the inevitable consequence of an economic system that rewards cutthroat competition at every level of society. Capitalism is not a static way of life but a dynamic process that consumes everything, transforming the world into profit and wreckage. Now that everything has been fed into the fire, the system is collapsing, leaving even its former beneficiaries out in the cold. The answer is not to revert to some earlier stage of capitalism—to go back to the gold standard, for example; not only is that impossible, those earlier stages didn’t benefit the “99%” either. To get out of this mess, we’ll have to rediscover other ways of relating to each other and the world around us.

Police can’t be trusted. They may be “ordinary workers,” but their job is to protect the interests of the ruling class. As long as they remain employed as police, we can’t count on them, however friendly they might act. Occupiers who don’t know this already will learn it firsthand as soon as they threaten the imbalances of wealth and power our society is based on. Anyone who insists that the police exist to protect and serve the common people has probably lived a privileged life, and an obedient one.

Don’t fetishize obedience to the law. Laws serve to protect the privileges of the wealthy and powerful; obeying them is not necessarily morally right—it may even be immoral. Slavery was legal. The Nazis had laws too. We have to develop the strength of conscience to do what we know is best, regardless of the laws.

To have a diversity of participants, a movement must make space for a diversity of tactics. It’s controlling and self-important to think you know how everyone should act in pursuit of a better world. Denouncing others only equips the authorities to delegitimize, divide, and destroy the movement as a whole. Criticism and debate propel a movement forward, but power grabs cripple it. The goal should not be to compel everyone to adopt one set of tactics, but to discover how different approaches can be mutually beneficial.

Don’t assume those who break the law or confront police are agents provocateurs. A lot of people have good reason to be angry. Not everyone is resigned to legalistic pacifism; some people still remember how to stand up for themselves. Police violence isn’t just meant to provoke us, it’s meant to hurt and scare us into inaction. In this context, self-defense is essential.

Assuming that those at the front of clashes with the authorities are somehow in league with the authorities is not only illogical—it delegitimizes the spirit it takes to challenge the status quo, and dismisses the courage of those who are prepared to do so. This allegation is typical of privileged people who have been taught to trust the authorities and fear everyone who disobeys them.

No government—that is to say, no centralized power—will ever willingly put the needs of common people before the needs of the powerful. It’s naïve to hope for this. The center of gravity in this movement has to be our freedom and autonomy, and the mutual aid that can sustain those—not the desire for an “accountable” centralized power. No such thing has ever existed; even in 1789, the revolutionaries presided over a “democracy” with slaves, not to mention rich and poor.

That means the important thing is not just to make demands upon our rulers, but to build up the power to realize our demands ourselves. If we do this effectively, the powerful will have to take our demands seriously, if only in order to try to keep our attention and allegiance. We attain leverage by developing our own strength.

Likewise, countless past movements learned the hard way that establishing their own bureaucracy, however “democratic,” only undermined their original goals. We shouldn’t invest new leaders with authority, nor even new decision-making structures; we should find ways to defend and extend our freedom, while abolishing the inequalities that have been forced on us.

The occupations will thrive on the actions we take. We’re not just here to “speak truth to power”—when we only speak, the powerful turn a deaf ear to us. Let’s make space for autonomous initiatives and organize direct action that confronts the source of social inequalities and injustices.

Thanks for reading and scheming and acting.

May your every dream come true.

Egypt revolution is victory 4 Democracy but credit for Tahrir goes to Anarchism

For a few interminable minutes there, okay– days –and bloody, millions of Egyptians had taken to the streets rejecting the legitimacy of Egypt’s authoritarian regime. The despotic Mubarak refused to budge and experts deemed the outcome a “stalemate.” Really? A preponderance of citizens greater than most voter turnouts, versus an unmovable leader, and commentators want to call it a draw? Worse is overlooking the obvious about the leaderless opposition forces. Jan25 came together to demand freedom, which the West equates with Democracy. But the Egyptian activists accomplished it through Anarchism. The West fears the Muslim Brotherhood, but the real banned party is the anti-globalist youth movement whose name must not be spoken. When President Obama pretends the US will shepherd Egypt through its “transition” he is sidestepping the real epiphany of Tahrir Square, a people united by idealism, minus a government. “Anti-government” protesters, precisely.

How to defeat Kettling

The British anarchists showed the way.
Kettling, by the way, is the full scope of the ‘free speech zone” bullshit the pigs like to publicize. “Free” speech but only in an area enclosed by a wall of police armor, clubs, tear gas, pain weapons, and of course conveniently far far away from witnesses like the so-called “free” press.
And when the “free” press actually do wander too close to the “Free’ speech zone, they’re arrested for inciting a riot.
But the Brits showed the way, last week, successfully mobbing Prince Charles’ car, frightening him and his beard Camelface. errr “bride Camilla” yeah, that’s the ticket. And the method is simple in its brilliance and brilliant in its simplicity.

Kettle the cops. Instead of one Large demonstration near the political bullshit session, aka parade, aka booksigning, aka pro-establishment rally, aka Support the Troops rally, have several dozen smaller rallying points beyond the “free” speech zone. 50 people and less than ten overturned vehicles can block any strategic intersection. Reduce the PIGS mobility the way they seek to restrict ours.
Just the threat of it being applied again would be enough for them to realize that the only way they can Kettle anybody is to lock down a whole city. A tremendous expenditure of manpower and money which they’d have to blow every time the Rich Political “leaders” poke their nasty little snouts out of their hidey-holes.
Were they politically secure enough to go ahead with a sudden cessation of political appearances, both literally as in politicians appearing in public, and the somewhat figurative “keeping up the appearance of actually having Human Political Ties between Government and Governed”?

Looks like we’re about to find out.
My humble guess is “no”.

Emma Goldman on Direct Action

Yes it was Emma Goldman who said “If voting changed anything, they’d make it illegal.”
It was no mere quip. The turn of the last century activist was a fierce advocate of every social reform and was ultimately exiled to Europe for challenging forced conscription. Do you wonder what else Goldman had to say, about political violence, prisons, patriotism, puritanism, the traffic of women, suffrage, poverty, birth control, and the struggle of minorities? Far from being a cynic, Goldman offered an alternative to the false hope of the ballot box.

What does the history of parliamentarism show? Nothing but failure and defeat, not even a single reform to ameliorate the economic and social stress of the people. Laws have been passed and enactments made for the improvement and protection of labor. Thus it was proven only last year that Illinois, with the most rigid laws for mine protection, had the greatest mine disasters. In States where child labor laws prevail, child exploitation is at its highest, and though with us the workers enjoy full political opportunities, capitalism has reached the most brazen zenith.

It may be claimed that men of integrity would not become corrupt in the political grinding mill. Perhaps not; but such men would be absolutely helpless to exert the slightest influence in behalf of labor, as indeed has been shown in numerous instances. The State is the economic master of its servants. Good men, if such there be, would either remain true to their political faith and lose their economic support, or they would cling to their economic master and be utterly unable to do the slightest good. The political arena leaves one no alternative, one must either be a dunce or a rogue.

The political superstition is still holding sway over the hearts and minds of the masses, but the true lovers of liberty will have no more to do with it. Instead, they believe with Stirner that man has as much liberty as he is willing to take.

Universal suffrage itself owes its existence to direct action. If not for the spirit of rebellion, of the defiance on the part of the American revolutionary fathers, their posterity would still wear the King’s coat. If not for the direct action of a John Brown and his comrades, America would still trade in the flesh of the black man. True, the trade in white flesh is still going on; but that, too, will have to be abolished by direct action. Trade-unionism, the economic arena of the modern gladiator, owes its existence to direct action. It is but recently that law and government have attempted to crush the trade-union movement, and condemned the exponents of man’s right to organize to prison as conspirators. Had they sought to assert their cause through begging, pleading, and compromise, trade-unionism would today be a negligible quantity. In France, in Spain, in Italy, in Russia, nay even in England (witness the growing rebellion of English labor unions), direct, revolutionary, economic action has become so strong a force in the battle for industrial liberty as to make the world realize the tremendous importance of labor’s power. The General Strike, the supreme expression of the economic consciousness of the workers, was ridiculed in America but a short time ago. Today every great strike, in order to win, must realize the importance of the solidaric general protest.

Direct action, having proven effective along economic lines, is equally potent in the environment of the individual. There a hundred forces encroach upon his being, and only persistent resistance to them will finally set him free. Direct action against the authority in the shop, direct action against the authority of the law, direct action against the invasive, meddlesome authority of our moral code, is the logical, consistent method of Anarchism.

Will it not lead to a revolution? Indeed, it will. No real social change has ever come about without a revolution. People are either not familiar with their history, or they have not yet learned that revolution is but thought carried into action.

Here’s the full essay from which the above was excerpted, where Goldman cites Emerson, Wilde, Burroughs, Thoreau and GBS to laud the promise of anarchism and direct action.

ANARCHISM: WHAT IT REALLY STANDS FOR

ANARCHY.??

Ever reviled, accursed, ne’er understood,?
Thou art the grisly terror of our age.?
“Wreck of all order,” cry the multitude,?
“Art thou, and war and murder’s endless rage.
“?O, let them cry. To them that ne’er have striven?
The truth that lies behind a word to find,?
To them the word’s right meaning was not given.?
They shall continue blind among the blind.?
But thou, O word, so clear, so strong, so pure,
?Thou sayest all which I for goal have taken.?
I give thee to the future! Thine secure
?When each at least unto himself shall waken.?
Comes it in sunshine? In the tempest’s thrill??
I cannot tell–but it the earth shall see!
?I am an Anarchist! Wherefore I will
?Not rule, and also ruled I will not be!?
?
JOHN HENRY MACKAY.

THE history of human growth and development is at the same time the history of the terrible struggle of every new idea heralding the approach of a brighter dawn. In its tenacious hold on tradition, the Old has never hesitated to make use of the foulest and cruelest means to stay the advent of the New, in whatever form or period the latter may have asserted itself. Nor need we retrace our steps into the distant past to realize the enormity of opposition, difficulties, and hardships placed in the path of every progressive idea. The rack, the thumbscrew, and the knout are still with us; so are the convict’s garb and the social wrath, all conspiring against the spirit that is serenely marching on.

Anarchism could not hope to escape the fate of all other ideas of innovation. Indeed, as the most revolutionary and uncompromising innovator, Anarchism must needs meet with the combined ignorance and venom of the world it aims to reconstruct.

To deal even remotely with all that is being said and done against Anarchism would necessitate the writing of a whole volume. I shall therefore meet only two of the principal objections. In so doing, I shall attempt to elucidate what Anarchism really stands for.

The strange phenomenon of the opposition to Anarchism is that it brings to light the relation between so-called intelligence and ignorance. And yet this is not so very strange when we consider the relativity of all things. The ignorant mass has in its favor that it makes no pretense of knowledge or tolerance. Acting, as it always does, by mere impulse, its reasons are like those of a child. “Why?” “Because.” Yet the opposition of the uneducated to Anarchism deserves the same consideration as that of the intelligent man.

What, then, are the objections? First, Anarchism is impractical, though a beautiful ideal. Second, Anarchism stands for violence and destruction, hence it must be repudiated as vile and dangerous. Both the intelligent man and the ignorant mass judge not from a thorough knowledge of the subject, but either from hearsay or false interpretation.

A practical scheme, says Oscar Wilde, is either one already in existence, or a scheme that could be carried out under the existing conditions; but it is exactly the existing conditions that one objects to, and any scheme that could accept these conditions is wrong and foolish. The true criterion of the practical, therefore, is not whether the latter can keep intact the wrong or foolish; rather is it whether the scheme has vitality enough to leave the stagnant waters of the old, and build, as well as sustain, new life. In the light of this conception, Anarchism is indeed practical. More than any other idea, it is helping to do away with the wrong and foolish; more than any other idea, it is building and sustaining new life.

The emotions of the ignorant man are continuously kept at a pitch by the most blood-curdling stories about Anarchism. Not a thing too outrageous to be employed against this philosophy and its exponents. Therefore Anarchism represents to the unthinking what the proverbial bad man does to the child,–a black monster bent on swallowing everything; in short, destruction and violence.

Destruction and violence! How is the ordinary man to know that the most violent element in society is ignorance; that its power of destruction is the very thing Anarchism is combating? Nor is he aware that Anarchism, whose roots, as it were, are part of nature’s forces, destroys, not healthful tissue, but parasitic growths that feed on the life’s essence of society. It is merely clearing the soil from weeds and sagebrush, that it may eventually bear healthy fruit.

Someone has said that it requires less mental effort to condemn than to think. The widespread mental indolence, so prevalent in society, proves this to be only too true. Rather than to go to the bottom of any given idea, to examine into its origin and meaning, most people will either condemn it altogether, or rely on some superficial or prejudicial definition of non-essentials.

Anarchism urges man to think, to investigate, to analyze every proposition; but that the brain capacity of the average reader be not taxed too much, I also shall begin with a definition, and then elaborate on the latter.

ANARCHISM: –The philosophy of a new social order based on liberty unrestricted by man-made law; the theory that all forms of government rest on violence, and are therefore wrong and harmful, as well as unnecessary.

The new social order rests, of course, on the materialistic basis of life; but while all Anarchists agree that the main evil today is an economic one, they maintain that the solution of that evil can be brought about only through the consideration of every phase of life,–individual, as well as the collective; the internal, as well as the external phases.

A thorough perusal of the history of human development will disclose two elements in bitter conflict with each other; elements that are only now beginning to be understood, not as foreign to each other, but as closely related and truly harmonious, if only placed in proper environment: the individual and social instincts. The individual and society have waged a relentless and bloody battle for ages, each striving for supremacy, because each was blind to the value and importance of the other. The individual and social instincts,–the one a most potent factor for individual endeavor, for growth, aspiration, self-realization; the other an equally potent factor for mutual helpfulness and social well-being.

The explanation of the storm raging within the individual, and between him and his surroundings, is not far to seek. The primitive man, unable to understand his being, much less the unity of all life, felt himself absolutely dependent on blind, hidden forces ever ready to mock and taunt him. Out of that attitude grew the religious concepts of man as a mere speck of dust dependent on superior powers on high, who can only be appeased by complete surrender. All the early sagas rest on that idea, which continues to be the Leitmotiv of the biblical tales dealing with the relation of man to God, to the State, to society. Again and again the same motif, man is nothing, the powers are everything. Thus Jehovah would only endure man on condition of complete surrender. Man can have all the glories of the earth, but he must not become conscious of himself. The State, society, and moral laws all sing the same refrain: Man can have all the glories of the earth, but he must not become conscious of himself.

Anarchism is the only philosophy which brings to man the consciousness of himself; which maintains that God, the State, and society are non-existent, that their promises are null and void, since they can be fulfilled only through man’s subordination. Anarchism is therefore the teacher of the unity of life; not merely in nature, but in man. There is no conflict between the individual and the social instincts, any more than there is between the heart and the lungs: the one the receptacle of a precious life essence, the other the repository of the element that keeps the essence pure and strong. The individual is the heart of society, conserving the essence of social life; society is the lungs which are distributing the element to keep the life essence–that is, the individual–pure and strong.

“The one thing of value in the world,” says Emerson, “is the active soul; this every man contains within him. The soul active sees absolute truth and utters truth and creates.” In other words, the individual instinct is the thing of value in the world. It is the true soul that sees and creates the truth alive, out of which is to come a still greater truth, the re-born social soul.

Anarchism is the great liberator of man from the phantoms that have held him captive; it is the arbiter and pacifier of the two forces for individual and social harmony. To accomplish that unity, Anarchism has declared war on the pernicious influences which have so far prevented the harmonious blending of individual and social instincts, the individual and society.

Religion, the dominion of the human mind; Property, the dominion of human needs; and Government, the dominion of human conduct, represent the stronghold of man’s enslavement and all the horrors it entails. Religion! How it dominates man’s mind, how it humiliates and degrades his soul. God is everything, man is nothing, says religion. But out of that nothing God has created a kingdom so despotic, so tyrannical, so cruel, so terribly exacting that naught but gloom and tears and blood have ruled the world since gods began. Anarchism rouses man to rebellion against this black monster. Break your mental fetters, says Anarchism to man, for not until you think and judge for yourself will you get rid of the dominion of darkness, the greatest obstacle to all progress.

Property, the dominion of man’s needs, the denial of the right to satisfy his needs. Time was when property claimed a divine right, when it came to man with the same refrain, even as religion, “Sacrifice! Abnegate! Submit!” The spirit of Anarchism has lifted man from his prostrate position. He now stands erect, with his face toward the light. He has learned to see the insatiable, devouring, devastating nature of property, and he is preparing to strike the monster dead.

“Property is robbery,” said the great French Anarchist Proudhon. Yes, but without risk and danger to the robber. Monopolizing the accumulated efforts of man, property has robbed him of his birthright, and has turned him loose a pauper and an outcast. Property has not even the time-worn excuse that man does not create enough to satisfy all needs. The A B C student of economics knows that the productivity of labor within the last few decades far exceeds normal demand. But what are normal demands to an abnormal institution? The only demand that property recognizes is its own gluttonous appetite for greater wealth, because wealth means power; the power to subdue, to crush, to exploit, the power to enslave, to outrage, to degrade. America is particularly boastful of her great power, her enormous national wealth. Poor America, of what avail is all her wealth, if the individuals comprising the nation are wretchedly poor? If they live in squalor, in filth, in crime, with hope and joy gone, a homeless, soilless army of human prey.

It is generally conceded that unless the returns of any business venture exceed the cost, bankruptcy is inevitable. But those engaged in the business of producing wealth have not yet learned even this simple lesson. Every year the cost of production in human life is growing larger (50,000 killed, 100,000 wounded in America last year); the returns to the masses, who help to create wealth, are ever getting smaller. Yet America continues to be blind to the inevitable bankruptcy of our business of production. Nor is this the only crime of the latter. Still more fatal is the crime of turning the producer into a mere particle of a machine, with less will and decision than his master of steel and iron. Man is being robbed not merely of the products of his labor, but of the power of free initiative, of originality, and the interest in, or desire for, the things he is making.

Real wealth consists in things of utility and beauty, in things that help to create strong, beautiful bodies and surroundings inspiring to live in. But if man is doomed to wind cotton around a spool, or dig coal, or build roads for thirty years of his life, there can be no talk of wealth. What he gives to the world is only gray and hideous things, reflecting a dull and hideous existence,–too weak to live, too cowardly to die. Strange to say, there are people who extol this deadening method of centralized production as the proudest achievement of our age. They fail utterly to realize that if we are to continue in machine subserviency, our slavery is more complete than was our bondage to the King. They do not want to know that centralization is not only the death-knell of liberty, but also of health and beauty, of art and science, all these being impossible in a clock-like, mechanical atmosphere.

Anarchism cannot but repudiate such a method of production: its goal is the freest possible expression of all the latent powers of the individual. Oscar Wilde defines a perfect personality as “one who develops under perfect conditions, who is not wounded, maimed, or in danger.” A perfect personality, then, is only possible in a state of society where man is free to choose the mode of work, the conditions of work, and the freedom to work. One to whom the making of a table, the building of a house, or the tilling of the soil, is what the painting is to the artist and the discovery to the scientist,–the result of inspiration, of intense longing, and deep interest in work as a creative force. That being the ideal of Anarchism, its economic arrangements must consist of voluntary productive and distributive associations, gradually developing into free communism, as the best means of producing with the least waste of human energy. Anarchism, however, also recognizes the right of the individual, or numbers of individuals, to arrange at all times for other forms of work, in harmony with their tastes and desires.

Such free display of human energy being possible only under complete individual and social freedom, Anarchism directs its forces against the third and greatest foe of all social equality; namely, the State, organized authority, or statutory law,–the dominion of human conduct.

Just as religion has fettered the human mind, and as property, or the monopoly of things, has subdued and stifled man’s needs, so has the State enslaved his spirit, dictating every phase of conduct. “All government in essence,” says Emerson, “is tyranny.” It matters not whether it is government by divine right or majority rule. In every instance its aim is the absolute subordination of the individual.

Referring to the American government, the greatest American Anarchist, David Thoreau, said:

“Government, what is it but a tradition, though a recent one, endeavoring to transmit itself unimpaired to posterity, but each instance losing its integrity; it has not the vitality and force of a single living man. Law never made man a whit more just; and by means of their respect for it, even the well disposed are daily made agents of injustice.”

Indeed, the keynote of government is injustice. With the arrogance and self-sufficiency of the King who could do no wrong, governments ordain, judge, condemn, and punish the most insignificant offenses, while maintaining themselves by the greatest of all offenses, the annihilation of individual liberty. Thus Ouida is right when she maintains that

“the State only aims at instilling those qualities in its public by which its demands are obeyed, and its exchequer is filled. Its highest attainment is the reduction of mankind to clockwork. In its atmosphere all those finer and more delicate liberties, which require treatment and spacious expansion, inevitably dry up and perish. The State requires a taxpaying machine in which there is no hitch, an exchequer in which there is never a deficit, and a public, monotonous, obedient, colorless, spiritless, moving humbly like a flock of sheep along a straight high road between two walls.”

Yet even a flock of sheep would resist the chicanery of the State, if it were not for the corruptive, tyrannical, and oppressive methods it employs to serve its purposes. Therefore Bakunin repudiates the State as synonymous with the surrender of the liberty of the individual or small minorities,–the destruction of social relationship, the curtailment, or complete denial even, of life itself, for its own aggrandizement. The State is the altar of political freedom and, like the religious altar, it is maintained for the purpose of human sacrifice.

In fact, there is hardly a modern thinker who does not agree that government, organized authority, or the State, is necessary only to maintain or protect property and monopoly. It has proven efficient in that function only.

Even George Bernard Shaw, who hopes for the miraculous from the State under Fabianism, nevertheless admits that “it is at present a huge machine for robbing and slave-driving of the poor by brute force.” This being the case, it is hard to see why the clever prefacer wishes to uphold the State after poverty shall have ceased to exist.

Unfortunately, there are still a number of people who continue in the fatal belief that government rests on natural laws, that it maintains social order and harmony, that it diminishes crime, and that it prevents the lazy man from fleecing his fellows. I shall therefore examine these contentions.

A natural law is that factor in man which asserts itself freely and spontaneously without any external force, in harmony with the requirements of nature. For instance, the demand for nutrition, for sex gratification, for light, air, and exercise, is a natural law. But its expression needs not the machinery of government, needs not the club, the gun, the handcuff, or the prison. To obey such laws, if we may call it obedience, requires only spontaneity and free opportunity. That governments do not maintain themselves through such harmonious factors is proven by the terrible array of violence, force, and coercion all governments use in order to live. Thus Blackstone is right when he says, “Human laws are invalid, because they are contrary to the laws of nature.”

Unless it be the order of Warsaw after the slaughter of thousands of people, it is difficult to ascribe to governments any capacity for order or social harmony. Order derived through submission and maintained by terror is not much of a safe guaranty; yet that is the only “order” that governments have ever maintained. True social harmony grows naturally out of solidarity of interests. In a society where those who always work never have anything, while those who never work enjoy everything, solidarity of interests is non-existent; hence social harmony is but a myth. The only way organized authority meets this grave situation is by extending still greater privileges to those who have already monopolized the earth, and by still further enslaving the disinherited masses. Thus the entire arsenal of government–laws, police, soldiers, the courts, legislatures, prisons,–is strenuously engaged in “harmonizing” the most antagonistic elements in society.

The most absurd apology for authority and law is that they serve to diminish crime. Aside from the fact that the State is itself the greatest criminal, breaking every written and natural law, stealing in the form of taxes, killing in the form of war and capital punishment, it has come to an absolute standstill in coping with crime. It has failed utterly to destroy or even minimize the horrible scourge of its own creation.

Crime is naught but misdirected energy. So long as every institution of today, economic, political, social, and moral, conspires to misdirect human energy into wrong channels; so long as most people are out of place doing the things they hate to do, living a life they loathe to live, crime will be inevitable, and all the laws on the statutes can only increase, but never do away with, crime. What does society, as it exists today, know of the process of despair, the poverty, the horrors, the fearful struggle the human soul must pass on its way to crime and degradation. Who that knows this terrible process can fail to see the truth in these words of Peter Kropotkin:

“Those who will hold the balance between the benefits thus attributed to law and punishment and the degrading effect of the latter on humanity; those who will estimate the torrent of depravity poured abroad in human society by the informer, favored by the Judge even, and paid for in clinking cash by governments, under the pretext of aiding to unmask crime; those who will go within prison walls and there see what human beings become when deprived of liberty, when subjected to the care of brutal keepers, to coarse, cruel words, to a thousand stinging, piercing humiliations, will agree with us that the entire apparatus of prison and punishment is an abomination which ought to be brought to an end.”

The deterrent influence of law on the lazy man is too absurd to merit consideration. If society were only relieved of the waste and expense of keeping a lazy class, and the equally great expense of the paraphernalia of protection this lazy class requires, the social tables would contain an abundance for all, including even the occasional lazy individual. Besides, it is well to consider that laziness results either from special privileges, or physical and mental abnormalities. Our present insane system of production fosters both, and the most astounding phenomenon is that people should want to work at all now. Anarchism aims to strip labor of its deadening, dulling aspect, of its gloom and compulsion. It aims to make work an instrument of joy, of strength, of color, of real harmony, so that the poorest sort of a man should find in work both recreation and hope.

To achieve such an arrangement of life, government, with its unjust, arbitrary, repressive measures, must be done away with. At best it has but imposed one single mode of life upon all, without regard to individual and social variations and needs. In destroying government and statutory laws, Anarchism proposes to rescue the self-respect and independence of the individual from all restraint and invasion by authority. Only in freedom can man grow to his full stature. Only in freedom will he learn to think and move, and give the very best in him. Only in freedom will he realize the true force of the social bonds which knit men together, and which are the true foundation of a normal social life.

But what about human nature? Can it be changed? And if not, will it endure under Anarchism?

Poor human nature, what horrible crimes have been committed in thy name! Every fool, from king to policeman, from the flatheaded parson to the visionless dabbler in science, presumes to speak authoritatively of human nature. The greater the mental charlatan, the more definite his insistence on the wickedness and weaknesses of human nature. Yet, how can any one speak of it today, with every soul in a prison, with every heart fettered, wounded, and maimed?

John Burroughs has stated that experimental study of animals in captivity is absolutely useless. Their character, their habits, their appetites undergo a complete transformation when torn from their soil in field and forest. With human nature caged in a narrow space, whipped daily into submission, how can we speak of its potentialities?

Freedom, expansion, opportunity, and, above all, peace and repose, alone can teach us the real dominant factors of human nature and all its wonderful possibilities.

Anarchism, then, really stands for the liberation of the human mind from the dominion of religion; the liberation of the human body from the dominion of property; liberation from the shackles and restraint of government. Anarchism stands for a social order based on the free grouping of individuals for the purpose of producing real social wealth; an order that will guarantee to every human being free access to the earth and full enjoyment of the necessities of life, according to individual desires, tastes, and inclinations.

This is not a wild fancy or an aberration of the mind. It is the conclusion arrived at by hosts of intellectual men and women the world over; a conclusion resulting from the close and studious observation of the tendencies of modern society: individual liberty and economic equality, the twin forces for the birth of what is fine and true in man.

As to methods. Anarchism is not, as some may suppose, a theory of the future to be realized through divine inspiration. It is a living force in the affairs of our life, constantly creating new conditions. The methods of Anarchism therefore do not comprise an iron-clad program to be carried out under all circumstances. Methods must grow out of the economic needs of each place and clime, and of the intellectual and temperamental requirements of the individual. The serene, calm character of a Tolstoy will wish different methods for social reconstruction than the intense, overflowing personality of a Michael Bakunin or a Peter Kropotkin. Equally so it must be apparent that the economic and political needs of Russia will dictate more drastic measures than would England or America. Anarchism does not stand for military drill and uniformity; it does, however, stand for the spirit of revolt, in whatever form, against everything that hinders human growth. All Anarchists agree in that, as they also agree in their opposition to the political machinery as a means of bringing about the great social change.

“All voting,” says Thoreau, “is a sort of gaming, like checkers, or backgammon, a playing with right and wrong; its obligation never exceeds that of expediency. Even voting for the right thing is doing nothing for it. A wise man will not leave the right to the mercy of chance, nor wish it to prevail through the power of the majority.” A close examination of the machinery of politics and its achievements will bear out the logic of Thoreau.

What does the history of parliamentarism show? Nothing but failure and defeat, not even a single reform to ameliorate the economic and social stress of the people. Laws have been passed and enactments made for the improvement and protection of labor. Thus it was proven only last year that Illinois, with the most rigid laws for mine protection, had the greatest mine disasters. In States where child labor laws prevail, child exploitation is at its highest, and though with us the workers enjoy full political opportunities, capitalism has reached the most brazen zenith.

Even were the workers able to have their own representatives, for which our good Socialist politicians are clamoring, what chances are there for their honesty and good faith? One has but to bear in mind the process of politics to realize that its path of good intentions is full of pitfalls: wire-pulling, intriguing, flattering, lying, cheating; in fact, chicanery of every description, whereby the political aspirant can achieve success. Added to that is a complete demoralization of character and conviction, until nothing is left that would make one hope for anything from such a human derelict. Time and time again the people were foolish enough to trust, believe, and support with their last farthing aspiring politicians, only to find themselves betrayed and cheated.

It may be claimed that men of integrity would not become corrupt in the political grinding mill. Perhaps not; but such men would be absolutely helpless to exert the slightest influence in behalf of labor, as indeed has been shown in numerous instances. The State is the economic master of its servants. Good men, if such there be, would either remain true to their political faith and lose their economic support, or they would cling to their economic master and be utterly unable to do the slightest good. The political arena leaves one no alternative, one must either be a dunce or a rogue.

The political superstition is still holding sway over the hearts and minds of the masses, but the true lovers of liberty will have no more to do with it. Instead, they believe with Stirner that man has as much liberty as he is willing to take. Anarchism therefore stands for direct action, the open defiance of, and resistance to, all laws and restrictions, economic, social, and moral. But defiance and resistance are illegal. Therein lies the salvation of man. Everything illegal necessitates integrity, self-reliance, and courage. In short, it calls for free, independent spirits, for “men who are men, and who have a bone in their backs which you cannot pass your hand through.”

Universal suffrage itself owes its existence to direct action. If not for the spirit of rebellion, of the defiance on the part of the American revolutionary fathers, their posterity would still wear the King’s coat. If not for the direct action of a John Brown and his comrades, America would still trade in the flesh of the black man. True, the trade in white flesh is still going on; but that, too, will have to be abolished by direct action. Trade-unionism, the economic arena of the modern gladiator, owes its existence to direct action. It is but recently that law and government have attempted to crush the trade-union movement, and condemned the exponents of man’s right to organize to prison as conspirators. Had they sought to assert their cause through begging, pleading, and compromise, trade-unionism would today be a negligible quantity. In France, in Spain, in Italy, in Russia, nay even in England (witness the growing rebellion of English labor unions), direct, revolutionary, economic action has become so strong a force in the battle for industrial liberty as to make the world realize the tremendous importance of labor’s power. The General Strike, the supreme expression of the economic consciousness of the workers, was ridiculed in America but a short time ago. Today every great strike, in order to win, must realize the importance of the solidaric general protest.

Direct action, having proven effective along economic lines, is equally potent in the environment of the individual. There a hundred forces encroach upon his being, and only persistent resistance to them will finally set him free. Direct action against the authority in the shop, direct action against the authority of the law, direct action against the invasive, meddlesome authority of our moral code, is the logical, consistent method of Anarchism.

Will it not lead to a revolution? Indeed, it will. No real social change has ever come about without a revolution. People are either not familiar with their history, or they have not yet learned that revolution is but thought carried into action.

Anarchism, the great leaven of thought, is today permeating every phase of human endeavor. Science, art, literature, the drama, the effort for economic betterment, in fact every individual and social opposition to the existing disorder of things, is illumined by the spiritual light of Anarchism. It is the philosophy of the sovereignty of the individual. It is the theory of social harmony. It is the great, surging, living truth that is reconstructing the world, and that will usher in the Dawn.

When they say, what they mean

When they say “Your problem is that you can’t accept orders”
What they mean “My problem is that I can’t accept you not obeying MY orders”
More thorough translation, the person is a Drama Queen who believes he has such extraordinary Leadership potential that if you don’t follow him it couldn’t possibly be some failure of his “ability” to lead. Therefore it must be YOUR fault.
When they say “You’re stupid/ignorant/lazy/crazy/an idiot”
What they mean is How DARE you question my obviously superior intellect and judgment by not instantly agreeing with me?”
Drama Queen again, if he completely fails to con you into believing whatever bullshit he’s selling, it’s obviously not HIS fault that he’s not a good enough liar, it’s YOUR fault for not being gullible enough.
When they say “When was the last time YOU were in Iraq?”

What they mean is Only those who commit the crimes are capable of understanding why they committed the crimes and therefore nobody else is qualified to pass Judgment on their crimes”

Further Drama Queen. Especially when taken with the other two, he means also that people who don’t have the experience of Killing in a war, like George Bush, Richard Cheney, Karl Rove (who actually used the word “courage” in the title of his book) Paul Wolfowicz and other Chickenhawk draft-dodger/slash/war profiteers like the dumbass propagandists at Fox, are allowed to agree with his assessment that the war is a good thing, killing is a good thing, lying about it is a good thing.

But people who don’t have the immediate experience of Murdering Kids aren’t allowed to criticize. We’re allowed to agree, not disagree.

But then there’s those of us who Don’t Follow Such Orders….

And, when we don’t, the wannabee dictators go from Zero to Drama Queen in a matter of seconds.

It’s entertaining in its own way.

When they say “hippie, commie, marxist, socialist, lefty, liberal, fag, nigger-lover, bleeding-heart, do-gooder”
What they mean: “We’re stupid enough to believe that calling anybody anything other than Right Wing Freak is somehow an insult and will prove Our Bullshit Case and make you hippies shut the hell up!”

Again with the Drama Queen notion that they’re so superior that anybody who doesn’t conform to their program is by necessity an Inferior Non-Person. And that it couldn’t possibly be that their “superiority” doesn’t actually exist or anything like that.

Thinking outside the bomb, in the box

THINK OUTSIDE THE BOMB is a clever antiwar appropriation of Taco Bell’s inventive twist, but since when does imitation break from a box? And does “the bomb” mean what it used to? By the look of their logo, the TOTB activists are not talking about the A-bomb, nor bunker-busters, nor smart-bombs, nor predator drones. Intentionally or not, TOTB they’re invoking the proverbial cartoon explosive, wielded by anarchists or other insurgents, the only means by which social uprisings have ever transcended the box.

“The bomb” was the feared Armageddon of the early nuclear age. More recently, “Food Not Bombs” conflates bombs with militarism because modern war-making, aka peace-keeping, is dominated by aerial bombing. Returning to “bomb” in the singular insinuates nukes, or the mutually-assured destructiveness of endlessly reciprocated violence. So let’s see the bomb depicted more as a nuclear warhead or an artillery shell.

Intrinsic to the plea for nonviolence is the determination to subdue the military instinct with transcendence. And when have proponents of nonviolence exerted jurisdiction over anyone but themselves? Lead by example they cry. We will defeat the barbarians by not becoming barbarians ourselves. Turn the other cheek, the meek shall inherit the earth. I rather suspect, quoth Camelot: “It’s not the earth the meek inherit, it’s the dirt.”

To warmongers I say: think. In of itself, thinking is outside the box enough for you. To peaceniks: exchanging the challenges of human reality for a spiritual realm, is a religious balm that dates to antiquity, about as inside the box as it gets.

For every action there is an equal and opposite media distraction

Life Under the Jolly Roger by Gabriel KuhnInstead of reading reports about how noted academic Gabriel Kuhn was prevented from joining his US book tour because he found himself on the NO FLY LIST for being a scholar of anarchism, you are hearing about 2-FAT-2-FLY cult director Kevin Smith and his weighty issues with Southwest Airlines. Instead of attending DC hearings about gross criminal malfeasance at Blackwater (currently masquerading as licensed-to-kill Xe), the media is giving us smoke-and-mirrors with the Toyota congressional hearing. Although no mere media distraction, the attack on Toyota is an economic-hit-piece if ever there was.

Had accounts escaped you of untold numbers of fatalities of runaway Toyotas? You’d think we were talking overturned Corvairs, or exploding Pintos, awful corporate secrets about the horrendous risks of driving Toyotas. Those pointing the finger at the Japanese car giant are saying the problem is bigger than floor mats and sticky pedals. They hint at electronic problems, without mentioning that like many automobile components, the accelerator mechanisms are manufactured by a third party supplier, whose assembly is not exclusively for Toyota. The same part is supplied to General Motors vehicles as well. No mention of that.

Is this PR attack against Toyota motivated by Japan’s lagging support for the US wars, or simply a grab at their market share by the current administration which finds itself managing the majority of the nation’s automobile industry?

Gabriel Kuhn has been declined permission to enter the US based entirely on the inflammatory nature of his writing. He’s visited American campuses many times before, even under the Bush administration. What’s happened that the US Department of Homeland Security has now determined Kuhn to be a threat to national security? Does this policy presage restrictions we could see applied to internet publishing? We know ideas can be dangerous weapons, are we prepared to be disarmed?

Black Bloc-headed Anarchism and the police team up to murder British man

The Black Bloc Anarchists have to be some of the most block-headed people around. It is simply impossible to differentiate between many of them and the police themselves, as both contrive to push innocent people into being victimized by police violence so as later to say that some demonstration or other was ‘radical’ and ‘violent’.

The Black Bloc dominated demonstration is always one of superficiality and most often times centered on petty vandalism and petty loser bouts against the police. Here on film is how the police and Block Bloc teamed up to murder one man, Ian Tomlinson. Ian Tomlinson death: Guardian video reveals police attack on man who died at G20 protest

Who Controls The Black Bloc Anarchists? The press would have us think that it is merely some bozo or other that does. The Evening Standard newspaper in their report ‘Black Bloc’ anarchists to hijack summit protests using shields and truncheons blamed the G20 London Black Bloc group on some individual lunatic named Alessio Lunghi, but the real control of these ‘ultra radical’ dumb-shits might just probably be with the police themselves?

It is important for us in the US to reject completely this type of confrontational idiocy being pushed by the Black Bloc Anarchists and the police. Those who tell us that it is ultra radical and effective as a protest method are just lunatics. What this mindset actually gets us, is smaller and smaller demonstrations, since normal people begin to fear to show up at events where they most likely will be tear gassed, arrested, or hurt in other ways.

JUST SAY NO to deliberate confrontational tactics with the police! It was the police themselves that hijacked the G20 protests, but the Black Bloc Anarchists gave them a helping hand. There is nothing radical about that at all.

seeking refuge in Abbey’s country

Phallic-arches-national-park
Edward Abbey presaged America’s current path to tyranny forty years ago and predicted that the end of American democracy would be coincident with the destruction of the wilderness.

What’s the connection between democracy and wilderness? Personal liberty is a fleeting commodity, according to Abbey, and history has shown that governments invariably move toward totalitarianism. When faced with authoritarian governance, wilderness is crucial because it serves as both a refuge from political oppression and a base for guerrilla warfare. Uprisings in urban settings are too quickly quelled by those with better weaponry, but hidden in mountain, desert or jungle settings, revolutionaries can gain an edge on establishment forces and engage in protracted — sometimes successful — battle. Consider Che in the mountains, the Vietcong in the jungle, Osama bin Laden in a desert cave.

From Desert Solitaire:

Suppose we were planning to impose a dictatorial regime upon the American people — the following preparations would be essential:

1. Concentrate the populace in megalopolitan masses so they can be kept under close surveillance and where, in the case of trouble, they can be bombed, burned, gassed or machine-gunned with a minimum of expense and waste.

2. Mechanize agriculture to the highest degree of refinement, thus forcing most of the scattered farm and ranching population into the cities. Such a policy is desirable because farmers, woodsmen, cowboys, Indians, fishermen and other relatively self-sufficient types are difficult to manage unless displaced from their natural environment.

3. Restrict the possession of firearms to the police and the regular military organizations.

4. Encourage or at least fail to discourage population growth. Large masses of people are more easily manipulated and dominated than scattered individuals.

5. Continue military conscription. Nothing excels military training for creating in young men an attitude of prompt, cheeful obedience to officially constituted authority.

6. Divert attention from deep conflicts within the society by engaging in foreign wars; make support of these wars a test of loyalty, thereby exposing and isolating potential opposition to the new order.

7. Overlay the nation with a finely reticulated network of communications, airlines and interstate autobahns.

8. Raze the wilderness. Dam the rivers, flood the canyons, drain the swamps, log the forests, strip-mine the hills, bulldoze the mountains, irrigate the deserts and improve the national parks into national parking lots.

In a final round of environmental fuck-yous, the Bush administration has offered up significant portions of pristine Utah wilderness to oil exploration. Aside from one notable monkeywrenching incident, the trashing of the American wilderness continues unabated.

Shots from my recent cave-hunting trip to Abbey’s country!

Toyota-Sequoia-offroad-Arches
Back-road-Arches
Arches-original-entrance
landscape-arch-arches
klondike-bluffs-arches
juniper-arches
ice-desert-arches
Marie-tree-hugger-arches
balanced-rock-near-abbey-arches
toyota-sequoia-arches
fiery-furnace-arches
delicate-arch-utah-license
cairns-delicate-arch-trail

Portrait of an anarchist

Anarchy: a theory that regards the absence of all direct or coercive government as a political ideal and that proposes the cooperative and voluntary association of individuals and groups as the principal mode of organized society.
DNC-protestors-anarchists
From the moment I saw them I knew what they were. Scattered around in small groups, surrounded by bicycles and backpacks, sharing food, tossing frisbees. Some were dressed in black. A few had tattoos. They were young, and clearly dangerous.

How dare they question the status quo? We have over 200 years of American history and the two-party system is working just fine. They should be proud and grateful that they live in the land of the free and the brave. Like I am.

So why is it that I’ve never felt less free, or more cowardly, than I do right now?

Maybe instead of standing shoulder-to-shoulder in front of the young anarchists to impede their progress, the cops ought to walk beside them or, better, just let them lead.
DNC-protestors-anarchists
DNC-protestors-anarchists
DNC-protestors-anarchists
DNC-protestors-anarchists
DNC-protestors-anarchists
DNC-protestors-anarchists
DNC-protestors-anarchists
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DNC-police-state

Henry David Thoreau’s writings about the military

ThoreauMost folk only know about Walden Pond and Henry David Thoreau’s reflections about the tranquility there. They think of him only as some sort of nature writer. However Thoreau was also an American anarchist whose other writings about society are not quite as well disseminated to college students. Below Henry David Thoreau writes about the American military…

A common and natural result of an undue respect for the law
is, that you may see a file of soldiers, colonel, captain,
corporal, privates, powder-monkeys, and all, marching
in admirable order over hill and dale to the wars,
against their wills, ay, against their common sense
and consciences, which makes it very steep marching
indeed, and produces a palpitation of the heart.
They have no doubt that it is a damnable business in
which they are concerned; they are all peaceably inclined.
Now, what are they? Men at all? or small movable forts and
magazines, at the service of some unscrupulous man in power?
Visit the Navy Yard, and behold a marine, such a man as an
American government can make, or such as it can make a man
with its black arts–a mere shadow and reminiscence of
humanity, a man laid out alive and standing, and already, as
one may say, buried under arms with funeral accompaniment,
though it may be,

“Not a drum was heard, not a funeral note,
As his corse to the rampart we hurried;
Not a soldier discharged his farewell shot
O’er the grave where out hero was buried.”

The mass of men serve the state thus, not as men
mainly, but as machines, with their bodies. They are the
standing army, and the militia, jailers, constables, posse
comitatus, etc. In most cases there is no free exercise
whatever of the judgement or of the moral sense; but they
put themselves on a level with wood and earth and stones;
and wooden men can perhaps be manufactured that will serve
the purpose as well. Such command no more respect than men
of straw or a lump of dirt. They have the same sort of
worth only as horses and dogs. Yet such as these even are
commonly esteemed good citizens.

from Civil Disobedience by Henry David Thoreau

Unconventional Denver DNC schedule

DNC Disruption 08From Disruption’08:
Denver is currently overflowing with plans from an extremely diverse array of groups for different types of demonstrations, music festivals, street parties and actions that will occur during the entire week of the convention. The many events are roughly broken down into theme days (see below). Anarchists and anticapitalists are working on many aspects of this mobilization but have a general focus of expanding acts of resistance outside permitted areas, radicalizing the debate around the Democrats, and ensuring that during the convention there will be no business as usual in Denver!

Schedule of actions:

SUNDAY the 24th
-10:30am, Civic Center Park: Massive march against militarization and occupations called for by Recreate 68. This will be a family-friendly, low-risk event.
-Midday: Funk the War! Following the march, a large, low-risk street party called for by the Alliance for Real Democracy will fill downtown with music and festivities against the war
-Late Afternoon: As the convention-goers check into hotels and attend their pre-convention party, our own raging party in resistance to the militarized occupation of Denver and the world will reclaim public space and spread the festivities onto the streets. Be ready to take the rowdy celebration to the doorsteps of delegate hotels etc.

MONDAY the 25th
-10:30am, Civic Center Park: March against the prison industrial complex and for freedom for all political prisoners.
-Evening: Meet at the Civic Center at 6pm to join the anticapitalist march (see below) or participate in organized and decentralized actions that will actively disrupt the capitalist corruption and cronyism of the two party system by targeting specific fundraisers, delegate parties and corporations backing the DNC. come ready for quick decentralized actions spanning the downtown area at a variety of risk levels.

TUESDAY the 26th
-Afternoon: Confront the Spectacle- We vote no! As delegates are arriving at the Pepsi Center, snake marches will converge on the entrances through the fence of the no-protest zone in order to create spaces for different levels of delegate movement disruption. Flying squads will assist the disruption and create distractions as we bring their party to a halt.

WEDNESDAY the 27th
-All day: Actions and alternatives- Real solutions to the climate crisis! A day of direct action against ecological destruction. We will create solutions to global warming without the politicians by shutting down sources of greenhouse gas emissions and corporations who destroy the earth (and fund the Democrats). we will also engage in creative resistance outlining solutions and alternatives; bike bloc! car free zones! guerrilla gardening!

THURSDAY the 28th
-10:30am, Rude Park: No Borders March! No one is illegal! Join this national mobilization for immigrants rights and help us draw connections between the struggles of immigrant communities and the struggle against global capitalism. This will be a low-risk event safe for all people regardless of immigration status. so play nice.
-Evening: A special Denver anarchist variety show party, put on by none other then Denver’s Louis Vitton.

ALSO:
A precarious workers council of UA has called for an anti-capitalist force to manifest at the DNC as a black bloc on the evening of Monday the 25th. This will meet at Civic Center Park at 6:00pm and will coincide with Unconventional Denver’s call for organized and decentralized no-business-as-usual actions during the same evening. More details TBA.

*this is by no means a complete list of all actions planned by the many groups involved in the Denver mobilization. Check dncdisruption08.org, recreate68.org, realdemocracy2008.org, and weareamericadnc.org for other events and actions.

Kids make an offer Denver must refuse

DNC Disruption 2008Recreate 68’s anarchist faction, the younger protest participants represented by Unconventional Denver, got their unviolent say in a RMN article today: Anarchists promise to sit out DNC. They offered to halt their DNC disruption efforts if the City of Denver would spend its 50 million dollar security grant on social problems instead. It’s an offer Denver cannot accept, but in making it, the anarchist activists were able to spell out why they object to the Democratic Party’s business as usual, and what social change they would like to see. Nothing extreme about it.

Here is the UNCONVENTIONAL DENVER Call to Action:

The Queen City is heating up as anarchists, witches, clowns, Iraq vets, artists, SDSers, radical queers, immigrants, Earth First!ers, rebel Democrats, parents, precarious workers and others are making it known that, come August, the Democrats’ attempt at co-opting our energies and power will fall short as we make it clear that change will come from below not above, in the streets and not in their stadiums.

Here’s the latest call to action from Unconventional Denver to help maximize our impact this August.

sunday the 24th { RECLAIM THE STREETS. RESIST MILITARIZATION}
Late Afternoon: After the 10:00am Recreate 68 anti-war march and the early afternoon Alliance for Real Democracy Funk the War celebration, a raging party in resistance to the militarized occupation of Denver and the world will reclaim public space and spread the festivities onto the streets. Be ready to take the rowdy celebration to the doorsteps of delegate hotels etc.

monday the 25th { NO BUSINESS AS USUAL}
Evening: Meet at the Civic Center at 6pm to join the anticapitalist march or participate in organized and decentralized actions that will actively disrupt the capitalist corruption and cronyism of the two party system by targeting specific fundraisers, delegate parties and corporations backing the DNC. come ready for quick decentralized actions spanning the downtown area at a variety of risk levels.

tuesday the 26th { CONFRONT THE SPECTACLE}
Afternoon: As delegates are arriving at the Pepsi Center, snake marches will converge on the entrances through the fence of the no-protest zone in order to create spaces for different levels of delegate movement disruption. Flying squads will assist the disruption and create distractions as we bring their party to a halt.

wednesday the 27th { ECO ACTIONS AND ALTERNATIVES}
All day: direct action against ecological destruction. We will create solutions to global warming without the politicians by shutting down sources of greenhouse gas emissions and corporations who destroy the earth (and fund the Democrats). we will also engage in creative resistance outlining solutions and alternatives; bike bloc! car free zones! guerrilla gardening!

thursday the 28th { NO BORDERS. NO ONE IS ILLEGAL}
Morning: Join this national mobilization for immigrants rights and help us draw connections between the struggles of immigrant communities and the struggle against global capitalism. Meet at Rude Park at 10:30am. This will be a low-risk event safe for all people regardless of immigration status. so play nice.
E X A C T T I M E S A N D L O C AT I O N S T B A .
S TAY T U N E D F O R M O R E I N F O

Lucy Parsons and the call for class war

CLASS WAR we have found new homes for the richThe death of Utah Phillips reminded me of a favorite story he would tell about the Haymarket widow Lucy Parsons. Shoot or Stab Them was advice that got the anarchist agitator arrested whenever she tried to speak in public. Lucy’s husband was among those anarchists framed and executed for the infamous 1886 Haymarket bombing. Lucy continued to advocate for labor rights and social change. Here’s how Utah told the rest of the story:

Lucy lived well up into this century,
well into this century, died in 1940.
One time, she was speaking at a big May Day rally
back in the Haymarket in the middle 1930s, she was incredibly old.
She was led carefully up to the rostrum, a multitude of people there.
She had her hair tied back in a tight white bun, her face
a mass of deeply incised lines, deep-set beady black eyes.
She was the image of everybody’s great-grandmother.
She hunched over that podium, hawk-like,
and fixed that multitude with those beady black eyes,
and said: “What I want
is for every greasy grimy tramp
to arm himself with a knife or a gun
and stationing himself at the doorways of the rich
shoot or stab them as they come out.”

Lest her zeal need a little explaining, Lucy Parsons made this declaration at the founding convention of the IWW in 1905:

“Never be deceived that the rich will permit you to vote away their wealth.”

Very little remains of the pamphlets which Parsons published over the course of her life. The authorities considered her “more dangerous than a thousand rioters.” They blocked her entrance to public halls and arrested her whenever she addressed a crowd. When Parsons died, the police confiscated and destroyed her library and papers.

A number of websites have emerged to celebrate Lucy Parson’s legacy. Would it be racist of me to suggest that a book entitled FIFTY BLACK WOMEN WHO CHANGED AMERICA should have mentioned Lucy Parsons at least in the index? The list complied by author Amy Alexander included Charlayne Hunter-Gault and Florence Griffith Joyner.

A short biography of Lucy Parsons is reprinted at Red Robin’s Red Channels, Left Links, and Proletarian Places. There’s also the Lucy Parsons Project. Her essay on “The Principles of Anarchism” is archived at LucyParsons.org. An oratory class at the University of Washington includes Parsons’ infamous call to arms:

Lucy E. Parsons, “To Tramps,” Alarm, October 4, 1884.
(Also printed and distributed as a leaflet by the International Working People’s Association.)

TO TRAMPS,
The Unemployed, the Disinherited, and Miserable.

A word to the 35,000 now tramping the streets of this great city, with hands in pockets, gazing listlessly about you at the evidence of wealth and pleasure of which you own no part, not sufficient even to purchase yourself a bit of food with which to appease the pangs of hunger now knawing at your vitals. It is with you and the hundreds of thousands of others similarly situated in this great land of plenty, that I wish to have a word.

Have you not worked hard all your life, since you were old enough for your labor to be of use in the production of wealth? Have you not toiled long, hard and laboriously in producing wealth? And in all those years of drudgery do you not know you have produced thousand upon thousands of dollars’ worth of wealth, which you did not then, do not now, and unless you ACT, never will, own any part in?

Do you not know that when you were harnessed to a machine and that machine harnessed to steam, and thus you toiled your 10, 12 and 16 hours in the 24, that during this time in all these years you received only enough of your labor product to furnish yourself the bare, coarse necessaries of life, and that when you wished to purchase anything for yourself and family it always had to be of the cheapest quality?

If you wanted to go anywhere you had to wait until Sunday, so little did you receive for your unremitting toil that you dare not stop for a moment, as it were?

And do you not know that with all your squeezing, pinching and economizing you never were enabled to keep but a few days ahead of the wolves of want? And that at last when the caprice of your employer saw fit to create an artificial famine by limiting production, that the fires in the furnace were extinguished, the iron horse to which you had been harnessed was stilled; the factory door locked up, you turned upon the highway a tramp, with hunger in your stomach and rags upon your back? Yet your employer told you that it was overproduction which made him close up.

Who cared for the bitter tears and heart-pangs of your loving wife and helpless children, when you bid them a loving “God bless you” and turned upon the tramper’s road to seek employment elsewhere? I say, who cared for those heartaches and pains? You were only a tramp now, to be execrated and denounced as a “worthless tramp and a vagrant” by that very class who had been engaged all those years in robbing you and yours.

Then can you not see that the “good boss” or the “bad boss” cuts no figure whatever? that you are the common prey of both, and that their mission is simply robbery? Can you not see that it is the INDUSTRIAL SYSTEM and not the “boss” which must be changed?

Now, when all these bright summer and autumn days are going by and you have no employment, and consequently can save up nothing, and when the winter’s blast sweeps down from the north and all the earth is wrapped in a shroud of ice, hearken not to the voice of the hyprocrite who will tell you that it was ordained of God that “the poor ye have always”; or to the arrogant robber who will say to you that you “drank up all your wages last summer when you had work, and that is the reason why you have nothing now, and the workhouse or the workyard is too good for you; that you ought to be shot.” And shoot you they will if you present your petitions in too emphatic a manner. So hearken not to them, but list!

Next winter when the cold blasts are creeping through the rents in your seedy garments, when the frost is biting your feet through the holes in your worn-out shoes, and when all wretchedness seems to have centered in and upon you, when misery has marked you for her own and life has become a burden and existence a mockery, when you have walked the streets by day and slept upon hard boards by night, and at last determine by your own hand to take your life, – for you would rather go out into utter nothingness than to longer endure an existence which has become such a burden – so, perchance, you determine to dash yourself into the cold embrace of the lake rather than longer suffer thus. But halt, before you commit this last tragic act in the drama of your simple existence.

Stop! Is there nothing you can do to insure those whom you are about to orphan, against a like fate? The waves will only dash over you in mockery of your rash act; but stroll you down the avenues of the rich and look through the magnificent plate windows into their voluptuous homes, and here you will discover the very identical robbers who have despoiled you and yours. Then let your tragedy be enacted here!

Awaken them from their wanton sport at your expense! Send forth your petition and let them read it by the red glare of destruction. Thus when you cast “one long lingering look behind” you can be assured that you have spoken to these robbers in the only language which they have ever been able to understand, for they have never yet deigned to notice any petition from their slaves that they were not compelled to read by the red glare bursting from the cannon’s mouths, or that was not handed to them upon the point of the sword.

You need no organization when you make up your mind to present this kind of petition. In fact, an organization would be a detriment to you; but each of you hungry tramps who read these lines, avail yourselves of those little methods of warfare which Science has placed in the hands of the poor man, and you will become a power in this or any other land.

Learn the use of explosives!

Anarchism as applied to washing dishes

WASH YOUR OWN DISHES via CrimethInc

CAPITALISM
You wash the dishes, the ones who own them profit.
 
ANARCHISM
We all share in the dishwashing.

DEMOCRACY
Even as a dishwasher, you deserve a say in which politician is best suited to protect the economy that keeps you in the kitchen.

NATIONALISM
Forget about those dishes for a second — you’re a citizen of the proudest hation on earth!

LIBERTARIANISM
You wash the dishes, the owner profits even more.

FASCISM
The Mexicans who washed the dishes are deported, the Jews who owned the place are imprisoned, and everyone else is conscripted for military service.

UNEMPLOYMENT
The only thing worse than being trapped in a dish room is being trapped outside one.

NEO-LIBERALISM (AKA “Free Trade”)
The dishes are shipped overseas to be washed and you’re free to develop your own combination of Unemployment and Nationalism

REFORM
Smaller stack, warmer water, longer breaks –same dishes!

SOCIALISM
Dishwashers’ wages increase just enough to afford higher takes

COMMUNISM
From each according to his means, to each according to his need –as determined outside the dish room.

MARXISM
Between shifts, the dishwasher studies the intricacies of dialectical materialism. It turns out that thanks to his efforts, the dirty dishes have been accumulating value for his boss to invest in more dishes. The stuff about the dictatorship of the proletariat is more perplexing, but the party theorists reassure him that it makes perfect sense to them. Under their direction, he joins his fellow dishwashers in a risky coup d’etat. Afterwards, he is distraught to find himself still in the kitchen, washing dishes for the party bureaucrats. The bureaucrats reassure him that they will eventually wither away.

SYNDICALISM
The dishwashers join labor syndicates that send representatives to a council, at which it is decided which dishes are to be washed and when.

ANARCHA-FEMINISM
You wash the dishes for the boss — who washes the dishes at home?

ANARCHO-PRIMITIVISM
Down with dishes!

ANARCHO-PUNK
Down with washing!

INSURRECTIONARY ANARCHISM
A quixotic attempt to distill a political theory from the practice of smashing dishes.

-Crimethinc

National Day of Prayer versus May Day

Join us this May DayA billion years to raise the tree frog
 
A hundred million years of lovers curling against each other in sleep
 
Half a million years of campfire sparks ascending to the stars
 
Twenty-one centuries since Spartacus and his fellow slaves brought Rome to its knees
 
Two centuries since the Luddites demonstrated the proper treatment of workplace technology
 
One hundred and twenty years since the Chicago government used the Haymarket disturbance to justify the execution of seven innocent men: “Hang these men and you kill Anarchy in this country!”

A century since anarchist Leon Czolgosz proved them wrong by assassinating President William McKinley

Eighty years since Henry Ford tried to buy off workers with the weekend

Sixteen years since the rioters of Los Angeles showed what it takes to get justice in this country

Eight and a half years since the WTO protests shattered plate glass in Seattle and complacency across the world

One day to gather in our communities, to celebrate the coming of spring and the potential of resistance

Counting the days to our next chance to make history

Eleven weeks to the international day of action against climate change called to coincide with the G8 meetings in Russia*

Eight months to plan unpermitted marches and rowdy street parties for New Year’s Eve

Nine months to prepare a surprise for the next Presidential Inauguration

A decade to establish radical social centers and free schools in every community

Twenty years to explore everything that can be accomplished while wearing a mask

A generation to replace grocery stores with gardens and cough syrup with licorice root

A century for dairy cows and toy poodles to go feral

Five hundred years to melt down cannons into wine goblets, water pipes and sleigh bells

A millennium for the dandelions growing out of the sidewalk to become redwoods

…and the rest of eternity to enjoy

(*Adapted from Crimethinc, MAYDAY 2006)