So much of political conversations are dominated by the ideas of dead men whose theories are upheld and worshiped in the same manner as religious scripture. We look to the past for answers on what to do in the present, partly because of our internalized desire to be led, but also because we yearn to find hope. Inspiration is crucial in resistance, it is the thing that cannot be constructed or forced.
While looking to find answers we must make sure we do not create false idols, further perpetuating hierarchical imbalances. By titling this essay the Anti-Blueprint I am hoping for my words to be seen as a part of an ongoing dialogue and not an instructional guide.
As we prepare for Trump to take office there will be many that will try to co-opt the energy of dissent and manipulate it to benefit a particular party. We are already seeing this with the announcement that Bernie Sanders will be hosting rallies across the country. Sanders will continue to attempt to energize the dissent for the benefit of Democratic Party, while the non-profit industrial complex holds permitted marches and cashes in on the anti-Trump tithe.
For anti-statists, anti-authoritarians, and horizontalists our only act of resistance against the elections has been to not participate, which in this case in-action is an act of political resistance. But too often inaction is all that is done, and we find ourselves comfortably sitting in theory while upset that the only presence we see in the streets are liberals.
As we begin to talk about what it means to be anti-statist, anti-authoritarians, and horizontalists (or for the sake of convenience ASAAH’s) it is helpful to see these practices as layered and each component necessary for achieving the other. Take for instance anti-statism, it is key to acknowledge that “the State” can take various forms, that the fall of nation-states does not mean the end of statehood. We must deconstruct what we mean when we use radical jargon so that we do not build a false sense of solidarity and perpetuate exclusivity to those who may not be familiar with radical jargon but are attuned with the practices of what these words mean.
Anti-statism can look differently for different people and different cultures and does not imply horizontalism, but I do believe if the goal is liberation, then horizontalism, or the existence without hierarchy is required. If we look at various places both here in the US and around the world, we can see examples of resistance for autonomy and the obstacles they faced. In some instances the efforts were not intentionally anti-statist but a necessary attempt to provide public goods and safety after the failure of their State to do so. It is key that we examine anti-statism as the way it exists now, in layers in where people are creating alternatives while existing in a capitalist state where most social and public goods are deprived.
Anti-authoritarianism challenges the hierarchical domination of an individual or group. There are authoritarian identities that have dominated political ideology and practices throughout the world. What the “anti-identity politics” discourse fails to recognize is that all politics are identity politics. To chose to ignore that class and political ideology are identities themselves and instead to only focus on the effects of identity politics in terms of race is revealing to the silencing intentions of the “anti-identity politics” discourse.
There can be economic authority identities which are themselves class identities. Capitalism requires authoritarian figures, whether it be a boss, corporation, landlord, or organization. There is no consent under Capitalism, and consent has to be at the foundation of any efforts of autonomy or we are replicating the same hierarchical institutions that exist within nation-states.
Whiteness is also an authority identity in the world, and even if we were to destroy all the borders and governmental bodies, the lineage of White Supremacy will still linger on through their monopoly of violence and access to resources. I mention this because it is foolish to believe that by just destroying borders we destroy the pillars of oppression as well. The State is only one layer, and it is a layer that enables other layers, but to ignore race, and anti-darkness as we discuss how to resist and exist without states, is a continuance of the same structures we claim that we want to eradicate.
Another authority identity is hetero-patriarchy, and in times of war, gender violence from all sides increases. Black women, especially those from a trans experience, already live in terror of street attacks and rape, and for those who fear the police, the lack of alternatives has meant either suffering in silence, or finding ways to protect oneself. These alternative steps of self-protection have resulted in direct criminalization, and further exposure to state violence. As we transition from ideas and into tactics creating defensive protective groups will be crucial, as political unrest will guarantee more violence.
There are many other authoritative identities, and depending on context and location the position of who is in power may change, this is why we must be aware of how identities allow for political power while we work towards deconstructing what these identities mean.
Horizontalism is a goal that depending on who is involved may never be achieved. The idea of power with instead of power over becomes tricky when you include those who have structural authority. I’ve experienced this when I’ve attempted to practice horizontalism in meetings or spaces, misogynoir will still be prevalent in those that I am interacting with. This has made me rethink what horizontalism must mean when intersecting the hierarchical pillars that exist. We can’t just say that a space is horizontal and implement progressive stack and think that is enough. Sometimes horizontalism means white voices, or cis-male voices must not speak at all, sometimes horizontalism will be the exclusion of authoritative identities in decision-making, and in key positions.
I mentioned this briefly in “The Myth of The White Radical” but it is worth discussing again. As individuals we have all internalized the violence of our oppressors, we ourselves are and have the potential to be each others oppressors. Being oppressed, as an identity, must have fluidity that addresses the layers of hierarchy. These things must be individually and collectively deconstructed both mentally and physically. The deconstruction process never ends, and it is imperative that we do not fall into a false sense of radical superiority or we will remain/become ignorant of our confining behavior.
Who are the counter-revolutionaries? Well this depends on what your idea of revolution is. If it is not about the destruction of all non-consenting hierarchical structures (white human supremacy, capitalism, hetero-patriarchy, ableism, etc. ) then it does not qualify itself to be considered revolutionary, and is instead only about assimilation and including more into the privileged class. With that understanding, the counter-revolution includes any groups or individuals who want to maintain those systems of power. Often times with language we do not allow for fluidity to exist because of the internalized hierarchical value we place onto the language of academia. We see this a lot with the word fascism, which has been a source of debate for many in the Left. While the Left is fighting over what words to label the neo-nazis/white nationalists/fascists, they’re rebranding themselves as the alt-right, because they know the negative effects associated with being labeled as fascists.
One of the problems with statism is that it assumes that we all have the same perspective on how we should be able to live. Yes, there are overall principals that we would hope everyone on this planet or certain land mass could agree on, but if you ever lived in a collective or tried to reach consensus with 300 people you know how that is likely to end.
The counter-revolutionaries, the fascists, the people who wish to maintain their dominance in these hierarchical structures will not stop just because nation-states have been destroyed— this is just one layer. Those who have money, land, weapons, and access to necessary living resources will create their own statehood, one that does not have to pretend to care or listen to the will of the people. While this layer already exists under nation-states it will be exacerbated once a nation-state has fallen.
Now that there’s an idea of what ASAAH’s look like, and whom I mean when I talk about counter-revolutionaries, let’s examine how these elements already exist in current movements and struggles. As stated before, it is helpful to look at anti-statism in the layers that already exist, the conflicts that will arise, and how those who live in failed states are managing to create and build alternatives.
Palestinians have been fighting for their statehood from the occupied forces since their state was delegitimize by White Western powers.
By examining the geopolitical standing of the Israeli occupation one can better understand the necessity of its survival. Israel is a nuclear-armed military base in the Middle East. This is why the BDS campaign, although they have seen some victories, is limited in its effectiveness. The United States as long as it exists will ensure Israel’s economic and military survival.
If we want to talk about a free Palestine or liberation for any people, it means the destruction of all states.
The only way to end the Occupation of Palestine is to destabilize the occupying region and the supporting states of the occupation. We could fantasize about global state efforts to put pressure on both Israel and America, but unless those countries plan on going to war with the superpower and its allies, that chance is very unlikely. As for diplomatic efforts it is doubtful that they would produce anything besides a more subtle occupation.
There is a reason why the U.S., specifically Hillary Clinton as head of the State Department intervened and sabotaged the Egyptian revolution, including other Middle Eastern countries that were revolting against authoritarian governments. Through The Clinton Foundation Hillary received payments from the Mubarak regime, by which she rewarded the anti-democratic government with US chemical weapons that were then used on the pro-democracy protesters.
President Obama, a president who was seen to have the most confrontation when dealing with Israeli relations, left the occupation with a 3.1 billion dollar parting gift insuring aid to Israel until the year of 2027. Making it clear that the United States is invested in making sure the Israeli occupation and Palestinian genocide continues.
Activism based on pleading to the hearts and minds of others depends on a society where the people have power and influence over their government. Americans do not have that, nor do most global citizens of the world. This is why it is important that we look at the larger picture no matter how overwhelming it might feel. We must understand that although our liberation may not be connected, our struggles are interlinked.
There cannot be a free Palestine while borders and states still exist. A two-state solution would still leave Palestinians economically dependent to foreign actors as well as living under constant Israeli aggravation. The idea that there can be a solution provides a false idea that oppression can be undone, or that peace can ever be achieved. The Israeli government has no intention of coexisting with Palestinians. They had made that evidently clear with their continuous escalation of violence towards the Palestinian people and any sympathetic groups. So to speak of peace talks as people are being murdered and are dying do to Israeli forces is completely unacceptable.
A revolution turned civil war, Syria has become a proxy war for oil corporations, nation-state superpowers, and other authoritarian forces. This issue has highlighted the inevitable faults in leftism and why temporary solidarity cannot be sought between ASAAH’s and the authoritarian left. Does the US, Israel, and NATO have imperialist interests in Syria? Yes. Does that mean that we should side with a violent autocrat who has tortured, murdered, and jailed Syrians in the same manner as his father? No. I find it interesting that those who argued against the idea of lesser power of evil during the US elections now are trying to justify their Assad and Russian apologism through old anti-imperialist USSR fantasies.
What is happening in Syria is world state powers exploiting the Syrian people’s revolution for each parties invested interests. There are many pockets and various factions who seek to replace one authoritarian power with another. A reminder to us here in the US that the State is not our only obstacle for liberation and that hierarchy is just as much as a threat to that as well.
In “Challenging The Nation State in Syria” by Leila Al Shami, she writes about the struggles anti-authoritarians faced while attempting to create horizontal alternatives to sustain neglected communities. In territories that had become liberated, local councils were created to help facilitate the needs of the people. Those who were involved in spawning this were imprisoned and later murdered. While Russia, ally to Assad, attacked and destroyed autonomous zones, ISIS and other authoritarian factions have proven to be just as deadly and dangerous as the ruling government. Again, Statism, and the authoritarian power that we seek to destroy exist outside of nation states.
In Flint, Michigan the state has failed to provide its residents with clean water for more than two years. The “social contract” which is supposed to be the reason why we grant the State power over us, was broken when Flint residents lost their water supply, as well as other municipal facilitated goods, like trash and electricity. One of the first questions brought up to challenge an anti-statist view is to ask how we will obtain water, or how we will dispose of trash. Yet, if the State is failing to provide these basic goods, and are only maintaining the ability to fine and arrest, then what is the purpose of the State in neighborhoods like Flint, other than to maintain power and control for those that benefit from that very status quo?
With Flint, just like Katrina, we’ve seen that the State will neglect impoverished communities, with the goal of gentrifying and redeveloping them later once the residents have been killed or have their housing destroyed. This shows the necessity for community control whether it be over our water supply, or any other necessary public good like providing natural disaster support.
When we look at Standing Rock and the violence that was inflicted by the State during the protest on those defending the land and autonomy of indigenous people, we must also acknowledge that the creation and maintenance of the State is a continuation of that very violence. It is clear by the State’s irreverence towards indigenous peoples sovereignty that treaties with states cannot be trusted. So long as the State exists, those who seek sovereignty and protection of the land will always be vulnerable. This is why those who seek decolonization must seek the destruction of any borders, privatization, and ownership of land.
The fight must be for autonomy, for the end of all rulers no matter what politics they claim. We along with other beings on this planet deserve to be free, to live without cages, masters, and borders. This will take a global effort, as it is not just one nation state we must destroy, but all states and authoritarian regimes. For we must make sure we do not find ourselves at the fall of one empire and the rise of another.
This will require finding a way to communicate with each other, and thus supporting one another. As the Surveillance State continues to build, making safe and private communication is increasingly harder to take part in, that being said, there must still be entry points and lines of communication to be opened up. As we focus on our own localized effort, only then are we truly practicing solidarity, for as we’ve seen, imperialist powers will always help aid in the suppression of other revolutions.
As a new brand of Fascism rises, the time is now to build a movement for autonomy, to create a challenge to both the State and all counter-revolutionaries. As I wrote in “No Leaders, No Masters” I have no playbook or blueprint to offer, but I do have analyses and suggestions that we can explore.
AUTONOMY & CONSENT
It’s vital that when we speak about autonomy that we also discuss consent. As people who seek ASAAH alternatives, figuring out how to facilitate coexistence based on consent is a fundamental part of challenging the current dominant autocratic system we currently live in. So while autonomy is about liberation and freedom, it is also about mutual respect for the autonomy of other beings as well. Autonomy cannot simply mean, “doing whatever you want” if that “whatever” threatens someone else’s autonomy and is non-consensual. So this can mean as much as an individual polluting the water supply, or dominating physical space.
In the grand scheme of things this is a more in depth topic and goes into how to create structures and a culture based on consent while also being weary of infringing too much on individual liberty. This is a very delicate line, which is why constant reevaluation is needed.
Though I do agree with the critique of others that assemblies if unchecked can become state-like, or can attempt to replicate the body and power of the state. I do believe they provide an entry point for those interested in alternative forms of existing. When assemblies are formed they should be fluid and evolving. Those who are involved in that particular assembly should decide what the role and purpose of that said assembly should be in efforts to avoid creating an authoritarian body. While community assemblies are a natural assumption, assemblies based off of needs and affinity may be better suited for some.
While many focus on direct action, it is direct intervention that will also be necessary as we move away from just resisting state violence, and begin directly confronting the state before they can wield their violence against us.
In some communities they have already successfully started shutting down police checkpoints that are used as incarceration and deportations tools, for those who are undocumented or who may have a warrant. This would also be useful at Metro stations, where sheriffs in riot gear have been seen checking people for fare payment.
As people take various approaches towards fighting the State, arrests will be made. It is important that we begin to exercise non-judicial means towards freeing prisoners and detainees. Whether that is interrupting prison/jail/ICE buses, or taking a more literal approach to the phrase “free all prisoners”, we must escalate our de-arresting tactics if we want to fight for liberation and autonomy.
The white nationalists who now feel relieved that they have gotten their country back are feeling more empowered to exude their state provided dominance. It’s funny but while we who want liberation have been confined only to permitted marches by our liberal “allies” these white nationalists have been amping up on their target shooting, guns purchase, and violent rhetoric virtually with silence from those same liberals.
In the scope of things, white nationalists, like the State, outnumber us in resources. In many ways they are the State, literally and informally. This is why those who protest or engage in street battles with them must know that the police will defend and side with them because the police are them.
Lately on social media these groups have been gathering intel in the same manner the Feds are, creating fake profiles trying to find out who are worthy people to target and attack. It’s terrifying how little attention Darren Seals murder has gotten, someone who was a known figure in the Ferguson uprising and soon after was found shot in a burned car. Reminiscent to the thousands of black people who were found in burned houses or vehicles with bullet wounds during the civil rights era.
These white nationalist groups have been around since the first ship landed here, this is nothing new. We have always had a white supremacist in the White House. Even though president Obama is a black man he still has internalized white supremacy and has shown that with his policies.
So while it might feel like the stakes are higher, black people have been dealing with these types since our existence on this continent.
What is a refugee? Who is given that title and who is not? When white Americans proclaim that they will move to a foreign country now that Trump is elected president of the United States they would not be considered refugees, they will not be forced to live in camps and tent cities. No, they would be called expats or worldly.
Refugee is a word used to control the input of non-white people into a country. Refugee is an extension of the white man’s burden. A burden created by white entitlement, white supremacy, Capitalism, and by hierarchy. No human is illegal and no human is a refugee.
Who gets to draw the maps? Who gets to decide where people live and walk on this earth that we all share? It is unfair to say we’ve allowed the powerful to rule over us, the “allow” implies consent. There is no consent to lines that have already been drawn and laws that have already been created.
As rulers around the world speak of borders, new territories, and threaten to create larger walls and fences. We must remind them that it is much quicker for us to destroy a wall than it will be for them to rebuild it.
Attrition must be the condition on which resistance lives in.
Street uprisings of all levels are crucial, we need to create the element of chaos. We must remember that when we talk about the State that they are a bureaucracy, one that depends on funding, hierarchy, and control. We must exploit their weaknesses by creating so much conflict that they will not have enough resources to dedicate towards predatory proposals against marginalized communities. This also means, however, that white nationalists, liberals, and other fascist state defenders, will take a vigilante approach to attacking the resistance with the support of the State.
*Although liberal marches can be exhausting to deal with, they also provide a front, and distraction while other activities can be attempted.
DEFENSIVE PROTECTION GROUPS
Establishing defensive protection groups made up of trans and cis women, non-binaries, and queers that can easily be called upon, or are around pedestrian populated areas, are measures needed to ensure safety from trans-misogyny and hetero-patriarchy.
We will also need DPG’s to protect those who are participating with direct intervention, as well as ones who are on call for those who are most threatened by the State and other fascists.
Creating DPG’s for those who lack community that aren’t ran by a bunch of cis-agro men, is paramount when we talk about creating alternatives, and maintaining individual autonomy.
While we are creating DPG’s accountability is just as important as defense. Figuring out how we deal with sexual assault, abusers, unchecked oppressive dynamics, or unspoken hierarchies is key, and failure to do so has led to the destruction of many movements. Figuring out how to hold people accountable outside of just banishment is still something that needs to be focused on as we are sure to see these elements produce themselves as we move forward.
Encryption is the word. If you’re not already taking protective precautions on your devices then you are putting yourself and those in communication with you at risk.
As well as taking defensive measures against the Surveillance State, the sabotage and exploitation of the tools used against us are important skills to learn and develop.
Reclaiming the internet from corporate and state control is crucial as it is sure that our accessibility of it will continue to be threatened and weaponized as we head further into Fascism.
Many of us have found each other through social media. We must now take those relations off of Facebook, and other corporate sites willing to work with the state to other more secure online venues to maintain those connections.
Similarly, cellphone use at actions should stop, we know that with recent reports that police used cell phone tracking devices to target and arrest protesters of the Baltimore uprising. A ban of all camera usage at protests should begin to be enforced as well.
We are not robots, these are terrifying times, and as we are accumulating trauma it is important that we provide support for each other. Burnout is real, and breaks from being active will be necessary. We are all going to have different degrees in how we feel safe resisting and that’s ok.
If tactics are going to be escalated then we must support those who are willing and able to participate in those more risky and dangerous actions. We will need to go against the current culture where only celebrity activists are supported after arrests and make sure that others with less resources and social capital are not forgotten.
At the same time we must also realize that there can be lots of stress involved when laboring in a supportive role for someone else’s trauma. We must all be mindful of whose emotional support we feel entitled too, as well as who we deny emotional support to.
FOOD & WATER
We often hear about growing our own food, and as it is vital it is also not something everyone has the luxury to do. We need real community gardens that aren’t surrounded by fences and locked by chains. As well as pop-up food banks where collected food from various acts and efforts can help distribute goods being withheld by Capitalism.
As most of our water is already poisoned and owned by the heirs of the Nestle fortune, our efforts must be in reclaiming our water. Learning how to create effective filtration systems and how to operate the current water infrastructure that is already in place, as well as locating local water sources are necessary skills. In instances of war, where the domestic front is being bombed and attacked, infrastructure of various capacities is often the first to go. Here in the US, we do not fear foreign invasion, but instead the corporate inflicted destruction of our own infrastructure. This has forced brown and black communities to create their own alternatives for power and water. Whether it is figuring out how to turn a utility back on after being unable to pay the bill, using rocks or plant based materials to filter drinking water, or running a generator because the power is out, impoverished communities of color have been developing the skills of anti-state survival.
What is happening in Flint, Michigan is unacceptable and the fact that the only thing that people can think to do is give the residents bottle water, shows us that we must figure out these things ourselves.
Now more than ever gentrification needs to be fought ferociously. Black and brown people are being pushed into neo-Nazi dominated communities because they can no longer afford to live in cities like Los Angeles. Sanctuary cities must be something that are enforced by the people, with understanding that we should not trust the word of the police and local municipalities when they say they will not work with ICE. We must make the phrase “safe space” to mean more than just a gesture. We must enforce anti-fascist zones by building strong DPG’s and direct interventions.
All of this will require collective organizing, much of the efforts are already being practiced in communities across the country.
While coordination must continue to be done by those protecting their housing, strides must also be made to provide shelter and housing for those who have been deprived of such. This is why having conversations around land ownership and our relationship to land is important to discuss while acknowledging the anti-blackness and anti-indigenous violence that has allowed for this current state to exist.
*Empty buildings and abandoned houses should be redesigned as opportunities, a space that can be held for those who need it.
Pharmaceutical companies inflate the prices of needed medicine, we need global efforts to open source the knowledge of both prescription pills as well as natural alternatives. How do we provide basic care for ourselves if going to the hospital is not an option? Skill-shares facilitated by nurses and doctors on how to treat common and basic ailments, as well as public schooling on more in depth medical procedures are necessary if we are to create communities who are not dependent on capitalist health industries, nor state resources.
Most of us are dealing with the effects of living in constant trauma, we must find ways to address mental health that doesn’t lead to further isolation and alienation. What can we do other than telling people to practice self-care? How can we create space where those who do not have supportive networks can find care? We must do better by each other, while at the same time recognizing our own limitations as we also try to cope and deal.
We must confront and destroy the idea that any “role” or act of resistance is greater or more important than another. This hierarchy of “activism” is one that promotes ableism and dismisses the labor of those who are participating in ways that they feel they are able too. Not everyone will be willing to do DPG’s or participate in direct intervention, but those who want to no matter their physical abilities should be able to as we shatter the idea of what type of person belongs in the front lines.
We will all have to challenge ourselves. We will all have to do things that are out of our comfort zone. Nothing about resistance is comfortable. It is the comfortability of so many that has led us to the place we are now, especially from those who have benefited from the oppression of others. This must be done while also being aware of ableism, checking for it in real time.
The fight for autonomy has existed since the first crown was worn, and although there is a lot to be done, and we may feel overwhelmed, it does not mean it is impossible.
The danger of only looking at revolution through the lens of revolting against a particular state, rather than the destruction of the State overall means we are only challenging a certain rulership instead of the idea of being ruled.
The revolution must be a constant, we must continue to always question structures and ourselves.
Utopia does not exist.