Willful Disobedience Volume 2, number 6
A Few Words
“Between tactical dogma and strategic expectations I choose neither the one nor the other, for I would be transforming anarchism, which for me is an ethic, a way of seeing and living life, into an ideal to be realized at any cost, whereas there can be no separation between theory and practice.”
“I believe that the anarchist choice cannot be subordinated to future events but that it must during its actual course bear the mark of difference, pleasure, dignity.”
— Massimo Passamani
Fairly frequently in anarchist circles, one will hear calls for us to be more effective, to act more strategically. Undoubtedly, there is a place for such calls, particularly when there seems to be so much confusion about a revolutionary anarchist project is and so little creative intelligence aimed at creating one. But most of the time in these calls for strategy and effectiveness the significance of choosing to be an anarchist and the meaning of an insurrectional project get lost precisely because of the lack of a clear understanding of what these would mean in our lives. Thus, such calls often end up producing an instrumental logic that parallels that of capitalism and the state and can even reach the point where some anarchists call for voting or writing letters petitioning congress people, judges and other authorities to take action for us. It is therefore necessary to clarify some basic principles of anarchist thought and practice and, thus, lay the foundation for an anarchist insurrectional project.
While the basic meaning of anarchy is the simple negation of all rule, the positive aim would be the freedom of each individual to determine how she will live directly through his own activity in relation with those with whom she chooses to interact and create the conditions of life. Such a vision demands a practice in which it already exists. Thus, before considering strategy, tactics and effectiveness, we want to develop a methodology by which to create our lives and struggles in terms of this vision. Since this vision is one of the destruction of all rule and the development of self-determined lives and relationships, the methodology of our struggle needs to reject compromise and negotiation with power as well as the delegation of our ability to act to any so-called representative, leader or organization. Thus, the basic elements of an insurrectional and anarchist methodology would include: direct action — acting directly to achieve the aim desired rather than making demands to an authority to act in one’s place; autonomy — the refusal to allow any formal organization with its prescribed ideology and program of action to determine how one will struggle, but rather organizing one’s activities informally with others who choose to act together to accomplish their aims; attack — the refusal of any compromise, mediation or accommodation with those in power, always recognizing them as the enemies of self-determination and their offers of negotiation as ploys to undermine revolt. This methodology offers no guarantees that large-scale insurrection will develop or succeed, but it does guarantee that any struggle carried out this way is self-determined, the activity of those in struggle and not of their self-proclaimed leaders and representatives. Those who take this as a basis for their activity in the world will be creating their lives for themselves — in struggle against the world as it is and against all odds. When this methodology is used in constant struggle against specific concrete aspects of power, it is the basis for developing a project aimed at building an anti-authoritarian, anti-capitalist insurrection.
So it is only on the basis of such a clear anarchist vision and the development of a methodology that reflects this vision, that questions of tactics, strategy and effectiveness have meaning. The various methods of petition and negotiation — letters and phone calls to representatives (of power), litigation, symbolic appeals to the conscience of the powerful, etc. — may, indeed, be effective in “freeing” a particular prisoner, stopping a particular development, protecting a particular 100 acres of forest or gaining a particular civil right, but by delegating the actual decisions to the masters of this world, these methods undermine self-determination. Our aim is the destruction of a social order in which prisons exist and spread the atmosphere of imprisonment throughout the social terrain, in which the necessity for economic expansion has precedence over the health of the planet and joy in life, in which the only options offered to us are those which enhance power and capital at our expense, in which one can only find freedom in a struggle that defies all odds against the entire order of existence that has been imposed on us. Effective action toward this aim is action that defines itself in terms of our desire to determine our existence for ourselves here and now. Anything else will only reinforce power, and from the standpoint of insurrectional anarchist practice that is not only ineffective and poor strategy, but immediately self-defeating in the strongest sense of that term.
Biotechnology and the Digitalization of Life
I have contended for years that technology is not neutral, that it carries within itself the ideology of the ruling forms of domination and exploitation for which it is created. If this has not been obvious in earlier technological developments, the growth of biotechnology makes this clear. Following the methodology of modern science, which strives to break everything down into its smallest components in a supposed attempt to “understand” it, biotechnology undermines the integrity of the individual and the possibility of free interaction, instead enforcing a mechanized view of life and a dependence on “experts” to keep the mechanisms functioning.
From its origin, modern science has viewed the universe as a vast machine. In such a mechanistic perspective, the method for achieving an understanding of how the universe functions is to break it down into its parts and study them in isolation. Thus, the scientific method has never been merely the empirical method — the method of observation. Empirical observation had to be confirmed in the isolation of the laboratory through controlled experimentation.
The mechanistic view of the universe met the needs of capitalist development quite well. As capitalism developed along with the technological means through which it controlled the exploited classes and the materials of the earth, the scientific understanding of the universal machine changed as well, providing an ideological justification for the developing methods of exploitation and domination. While some have tried to pass off the (now almost a century old) “new” scientific perspectives of relativity and quantum physics as an end to the mechanistic perspective and an opening to “mysticism” in science, it would be more accurate to say that Newtonian mechanicism has given way to a cybernetic mechanicism — the universe transformed into a mathematical construct made up of bits of information, of quanta. (It is worth noting that most, if not all, sub-atomic particles are, in fact, only mathematical equations that seem to solve a particular problem and may cause a blip on the screen of a machine that serves no other purpose than to make such blips in a gigantic laboratory.) Here science completely discounts observation to the point of equating the alleged results of “mental experiments” (and now computerized simulations as well) with those of material experiments. The concrete world we experience is nothing. The world of data, of bits of information, is everything — it is reality.
Biotechnology fits perfectly into this cybernetic view of the universe. The science of genetic has done to life what atomic and sub-atomic physics did to the universe — broken it down into data, bits of interchangeable information. And just as in the “new” physics, the material universe as we experience it ceases to be of importance except as a vehicle for the interaction of quanta, so in the genetic perspective, the individual living being and its relation to its environment are of no importance in themselves. They are merely vehicles for genetic information, which comes to be seen as the essence of life, undermining individuality, vitality, free relationship and holistic coherence.
In fact, what this perspective does is digitalize life. Our being is no longer thought of as consisting of our body, our mind, our passions, our desires, our actions our choices, our desires and our relations in a unique dance through the world, but rather as a series of interchangeable bio-bits with a potential for being adjusted through manipulation by experts.
The social framework for this perspective had already been set in motion long before the “discovery” of DNA gave it the defined material for the information bits. Capitalist development, particularly in the last half of the 20th century, turned the citizen (already a part of the apparatus of the nation-state) into a producer-consumer, basically interchangeable with all others form the point of view of the social order. The integrity of the individual had already been severely undermined to serve the needs of the social machine. Is it then such a great step to transforming the individual into nothing more than a sum of genetic parts that are interchangeable with the part of any other “living” tool?
The earliest modern scientists were mainly devout christians. When they imagined the machine of the universe, it was as a machine manufactured by god with a purpose beyond itself. Scientists have long since left the conception of higher purpose behind. The cybernetic universe serves no other purpose than that of maintaining itself in order to maintain the flow of bits of information. What this means on a practical social level is that each and every entity exists for the sole purpose of maintain the present social order. Each individual is a tool for this purpose, and these tools can be adjusted as necessary to maintain a flow of information — which is to say profits — that allows this society to continue.
Of course, however degraded, individuals still exist. The promoters of biotechnology are forced to convince us of its benefits. If the idea of biotechnology as a means for fighting world hunger has lost all credibility in the face of such horrors as the terminator technology and the patenting of genetic materials, in the realm of medicine, biotechnology has managed to present a much more benign face. Genetic hypotheses of the origins of cancer, alcoholism, schizophrenia, drug addiction and increasing numbers of other diseases, disorders and behaviors are now accepted as commonplaces in spite of the fact that real evidence for this nearly non-existence, most of it based on conjecture. Yet the media propaganda works, producing a willingness on the part of many to accept “good” medical use of biotechnology, that is, a willingness to be treated as a cybernetic machine that can be made to function more precisely through the manipulation of bits of information.
The potential horrors of biotechnology — genetic pollution, the escape of genetically engineered organisms into the environment, the totalitarian use of cloning — only call for regulation of this technological system, to prevent its “bad” use. But if it is the fundamental ideology behind this technology that we question, its degradation of individual living beings into mechanisms for the flow of bits of information, then reform becomes useless. If we are to save the dignity of the individual, the beauty of life, the wonder of the universe, then we must act to destroy this technology and the social system that produces it. And we cannot forget that biotechnology is simply the latest, most sophisticated version of this degrading ideology which has been inherent in industrial technological systems — and in domestication itself — from the beginning. For those of us for whom life is not mere survival, for whom wonder, beauty, passion and joy are the essence of existence, for whom the uniqueness of each living being is the basis for a world of free relating, the task is tremendous: the destruction of the digitalized existence that has been imposed upon us and the creation anew each day of ourselves as unique and amazing beings in relation with those we love.
The Economy of Disaster
“...the most stupefying characteristic of today’s society is its ability to make ‘daily comfort’ exist a hand’s breadth away from catastrophe.”
In the middle of October in eastern Kentucky, a coal mine pond gave way, releasing 200 million gallons of sludge into streams, killing fish, washing away roads and bridges and fouling the water supply. The tar-like sludge spread into the Ohio River. But such disasters are not so uncommon. One need only consider the cyanide spill that happened in Romania at the end of January spreading as far as Yugoslavia and leaving a few hundred tons of dead fish (not to mention birds, otters and other creatures) in its wake, or the spillage of radio-active material at Tokaimura, Japan that caused major environmental damage for a radius of several miles around it in October of 1999. And of course, we cannot forget Bhopal or Chernobyl. But these are the most spectacular disasters, the ones that could not be made invisible (though even disasters of this sort may, in time, become so common that they cease to be news — consider that there 45 coal mine ponds that were said to be at higher risk of failure than the one that collapsed in October). Disaster is, in fact an ongoing aspect of our present existence. The estuary at the mouth of the Colorado River is quickly dying, most likely due to the effects of hydro-electric dams. Chemical pollution has spread death from the mouth of the Mississippi River well into the Gulf of Mexico. The ozone layer disappears along with the forests and the plankton that feed it. And the melting of the polar ice caps has forced scientists to admit to the reality of global warming. When one adds to this the more blatantly intentional disasters caused by the attempts of the great powers to teach the lesser powers the meaning of democracy by bombing the shit out of the powerless, it is clear that life in the present is always lived on the edge of disaster.
When the litany of disasters that surrounds us sung, it is easy to feel that we are dealing with the inevitable, with an unavoidable fate. But this is not the case. Every one of the disasters described above can be traced to the functioning of specific social institutions and the decisions of the people who hold power in them. As has been said many times, there are people who make these decisions and they have names and addresses.
They also share a particular social position. As the rulers of this social order, they benefit from it in terms of power and economic wealth. (That they do so at the expense of their individuality and any real enjoyment of life does not decrease their responsibility for the present existence.) While some of the disastrous effects of their decisions may have taken them by surprise, it cannot be honestly said that they acted blindly. After all, these are the same people who had no problem with showering a small predominately agricultural country with herbicide in an attempt to destroy its economy. The environment is not their concern; power and economic expansion are.
When capitalism developed the technological system ideal for its expansion, the industrial system that began in the shipping industries which then provided the resources for developing the manufacturing industries, the door was opened to a world of daily misery and ongoing disaster. Whether it be the genocide against indigenous people who did not adapt quickly enough to their enslavement to the needs of capital, the illnesses and injuries that the regime of work imposes on workers, the increasing precariousness that faces everyone who is not of the ruling class, misery is the order of the day in this society.
To fully understand why this is, it is necessary to realize that capitalism thrives on crisis. Its order is an order of crisis management. For the rulers of the social order this is not a problem. They are well protected from the consequences of the crises that they sometimes quite intentionally induce. Those at the bottom, those who have been excluded from any real control over the circumstances in which they live, suffer the consequences of this system.
The industrial system, which is so necessary to the expansion of capital, has been an environmental disaster from the beginning, offering William Blake some of his most frightening poetic images. The famous London fog of the 19th century was, in fact, industrial smog which accompanied high rates of tuberculosis among the poorer classes. Today, the toxification of the environment combines with the stress of daily survival to create cancer, heart disease, immune system breakdown and increasing levels of mental distress and disorder from which those in power seek to protect themselves with medical care that most of us could never afford — and which plays its own role in the toxification of this world.
Capitalism will not provide a solution for the disasters it causes. It is a system of stop-gap measures, and, increasingly, as the new technologies come to the fore, a system of tinkering with ever tinier atomized bits. Unfortunately, in the face of economic precariousness and environmental disaster, survival tends to take precedence over life and joy. And in this way, the rule of capital penetrates even into our minds, as we find ourselves succumbing to the use of stop-gap measures, of the methods of crisis management, in an attempt to guarantee our — and the earth’s — survival. Thus, the strange phenomenon some of those who call themselves anarchists using litigation, petition, even the electoral process in the attempt to save a patch of forest, stop a particular development or prevent the destruction of an indigenous culture. The problem is not that people struggle for these specific aims, but that in desperation they lay aside their ideals, their desires and their dreams, and use methods of struggle that only reinforce the economy of disaster that rules existence today.
The struggle against this present existence in which misery and disaster are the norm must, in order to have a chance, base itself in our desire to live full, passionate lives, on the joyful intensity we create in our lives in spite of the existence imposed on us. Only then can our struggle move beyond the careful measurements of crisis management, beyond the stop-gap measures for guaranteeing survival at the expense of life that merely aid capitalism in maintaining and expanding its rule, instead embracing those methods of struggle that move toward insurrection, toward revolution, toward the unknown. Our present existence is a toxic prison. There is no way to know what lies beyond the walls. But here we know we are being killed and this can only end when our love of life moves us to tear down the walls.
To Tear Down the Walls. The struggle against prisons in Italy and Spain
The actions taken by various comrades in Latina, Italy on December 2 (see above) are part of an ongoing struggle against prisons, and particularly against the FIES in Spain, by anarchists both in outside of prison. While the struggle has expressed immediate demands (the end of the FIES regime in Spain; release of prisoners who are ill; the end of all practices which separate “troublesome” prisoners from friends, comrades and family; the end of torture and beatings; etc.), it contains the awareness of the necessity to destroy all prisons and the society that produces them. This awareness manifests in the methods of struggle the comrades choose to use, in their refusal to petition, negotiate or compromise. On the inside, this means ongoing strikes of various types and the destruction of prison property. On the outside, direct action and attacks against the institutions that create and maintain prisons, and on a broader level all institutions of power, the existence of which make this whole world a prison.
The conscious ness of the struggle is very clear: “We are in solidarity with all women and men who fight against their imprisonment, certainly not with those who just want to ameliorate the misery. But what is meant by being in solidarity? Simply, feeling that one shares in the will to smash all bars and constraints. In a world in which men and women are locked in prison and which itself comes to resemble an immense prison more and more each day, we will never be free. There are no solutions within this society: as long as money exists, there will never be enough for everyone; as long as property exists, there will be theft; as long as authority exists, its outlaws will arise. So it is not just a question of criticizing the prison tools (physical removal, seclusion, deprivation, etc.), but also its aims (to terrorize the poor, punish rebels, defend the privileges of the state and the ruling class)...”
This solidarity is also quite practical as the ongoing concerted efforts in this struggle by prisoners in Spain and Italy in conjunction with comrades on the outside clearly indicates. It is particularly significant that the actions of those on the outside are not charitable acts of social work, but direct attacks against the institutions that create prisons. “We don’t want to be generous with criminals like so many good ladies of charity, but rather to commit the greatest of crimes: to subvert the existent — this prison that contains all others — in order to create on its ruins the possibility of free agreements and free resolution of conflicts. In this perspective, the only possible reform of prisons is to raze them to the ground so as never to build them any more.” Here is the difference between prison support (however necessary it may be) and revolutionary solidarity.
But practical revolutionary solidarity in the struggle against prison requires ongoing communication between those inside and those outside about their struggles. This is no easy matter. Letters are inspected and censored, visits are monitored, phone calls are tapped. Within the American prison system, the authorities have promoted racial division quite successfully, making unified action against the prison regime extremely difficult. But revolutionaries and anarchists need to recognize that in our struggle some of us will find ourselves inside, possibly for long periods of time. And as the rulers seek to increase control, the outside will increasingly come to resemble a prison. So we are facing an important challenge: to find ways to develop an ongoing struggle against the social order that incorporates the specific struggle against prison in a practical way and that integrates the struggle inside with that outside in a revolutionary and anarchist manner — that is as a struggle to destroy all that stands in the way of our freedom to create our lives and relations as we desire.
In Place of Prisons... Nothing!
(from Terra Selvaggia, July, 2000)
“It is a question of normal service operations.” — Donato Capece, cop unionist, on the beatings in the prison at Sassari.
Prison is applied science, where little or nothing happens by accident or through an oversight. For example, controlling and blocking mail and conversations at pleasure; transferring prisoners unexpectedly; maniacally searching them, their cells, their visitors; changing their approved status from one day to the next; the thousands of forms to compile for everything; the despotism of the last word of the guard — well — this is a precise, studied method aimed at breaking down the strength of individuals, at the continuous and scientific humiliation of their dignity.
In every prison in the world, none excluded, prisoners are isolated, tortured, moved to suicide, allowed to die and directly murdered by their jailers.
And this is not an oversight or an excess at all; this is a method.
Of course, there are prisons that “are worse” and prisons that “are not so bad”. But this narrow range of shading from black to dark gray is only further extortion, an ability to threaten prisoners with the worst, so that they become their own controllers.
Prison is a science; claiming to be able to “reform” it, to eliminate “the abuse” and the violence, to make it more livable is science fiction.
To put it more clearly, this claim is a lie.
And it is a lie for at least two reasons.
The first is that prison is naked and rationalized violence, and it is state violence. The second reason is that this existence cannot do without the constant threat of imprisonment.
Furthermore, those responsible for the existence of prisons are certainly not the ones locked up inside them; those responsible are the same people to whom we are indebted for oppression, exploitation, imposed extortion outside of prison as well, and they are the only ones to benefit from it. Now, after the beating of prisoners by guards at Sassari, an old script has been put back on stage and magistrates, journalists, members of parliament, priests with or without cassocks, all scoundrels pledged to the daily maintenance of the existent and therefore of prison, are anxious to support the unsupportable, that is to say, that the deeds at Sassari were an excess — perhaps a little questionable — but understandable, all things considered.
Meanwhile, toward the end of May, a man and a woman, imprisoned respectively at Regina Coeli and Ragusa, died in jail.
At this time, after a normal massacre, the jailers, the day laborers of oppression, arrogantly sought praise, approbation, a raise in pay and obtained the promise of thousands of new cops, accomplices for more efficient “service operations”. What’s more, they were put forward as the real victims of prison.
But no confusion whatever is possible between those who lock up and those who are locked up, just as on the outside it is not possible to confuse those who oppress with those who are oppressed.
And then, let’s say it, the vast majority of those who are inside were, were “free” exploited outside: the law and prison, like exploitation, are arms of class domination and this world is, in fact, one gigantic prison.
It is with the rebellion of every single prisoner, here and everywhere, the struggles of prisoners [...throughout Italy and Spain,...throughout the world...] for the closure of the special modules of extermination, that we unite ourselves in order to put an end to the prisons, in order to put an end to the present existence.
The Affinity Group
To have affinity means to have knowledge of the other, to know how they think on social issues and how they think they can intervene in the social clash. This deepening of knowledge between comrades is an aspect that is often neglected, impeding effective action.
Having chosen the path of direct action, of unmediated attack against power, and having chosen to act where one is now, the question of how to organize these actions arises. Practically, the desire to see one’s own struggle against the social order become a social struggle shows itself in the desire to act with others. For the types of actions most consistent with an anarchist insurrectional perspective — small actions that can be easily imitated and improved upon, using unsophisticated means that are available to anyone — the affinity group provides an effective method of organizing.
Let’s be clear from the beginning, an affinity group is not a permanent organization that one joins. It is a method for organizing an action based on affinity between those taking part in the action. So the essential first step is the development of relationships of affinity. Affinity is not a matter of feeling good around each other. For the purpose of an insurrectional practise, affinity develops through the process of getting to know each other as comrades on an ever deepening level — that is coming to understand how the other understands the struggle against this society and how they feel they can intervene in it. Through discussion, such questions can be clarified, strengths and weaknesses made evident and possibilities for shared actions revealed.
It is when the possible projects of action become evident that certain of those who have been developing affinity come together as a group with the specific purpose of carrying out a particular action. When this project is completed, the particular group disbands as such, but the relations of affinity continue.
In the course of carrying out actions together, affinity will deepen and strong bonds may grow between those involved. This is to be expected, since as anarchists we do not see our activity as separated from our lives, but rather as an expression of the way we view and choose to live life. Thus we put the whole of our being into these actions. Our passion for freedom and intensity of life goes into our projects, so how could it not affect the relationships of affinity we choose to develop?
But what is essential about the affinity group is that it is a method for organizing small actions of the sort necessary for attacking the many facets of power that we confront everyday, which avoids developing a cumbersome formal organization and allows for the fluidity necessary for the development of an intelligent anarchist analysis and practice.
The Real Terrorists
In a city council meeting that took place on November 22, 2000, the government of Portland, Oregon approved the establishment of an “anti-terrorism” task force comprised of agents from the FBI and the Portland Police Bureau. This task force is being set up to investigate the activities of the Earth Liberation Front (ELF) and the Animal Liberation Front (ALF). Most likely the investigation will be extended to anarchist as well, though they were not specifically mentioned in the report I read.
For several years now people have been taking direct action against the destruction of the earth and the exploitation of animals using the acronyms ELF and ALF to claim these actions. But the ELF and the ALF do not exist as formal organizations with membership. Rather anyone who takes such action and wishes to claim it in these names can do so by anonymously sending a communiqu?to the ELF or ALF press office. One may raise questions about the wisdom of those who take such actions using the same acronyms and, thus, making it easier for the authorities to paint an image of a “terrorist?organization, but those in power will always find ways to demonize who rebel — especially with a consciously revolutionary intent.
What is, in fact, of great significance in this is the use of the word “terrorism?to describe direct action. Direct action is action taken by an individual or self-organized group in order to directly and autonomously bring about a desired end — that is, to bring it about oneself rather than appealing to an authority to act in one’s place. Terrorism, on the other hand, is the attempt to induce fear in people in order to compel them to act or refrain from acting in accordance with the terrorist’s will. From this it should be clear that direct action is the most consistent method for anarchists and other revolutionaries who favor autonomy and self-determination to use in pursuing their projects and aims, whereas terrorism, in the true sense of the term, is the method of power, the method for imposing domination and exploitation, for frightening people not only into accepting their submission to their present miserable condition, but into imposing and enforcing it themselves.
The ELF actions described in various issues of Willful Disobedience have been direct action. Their intent has been to cause enough economic damage to a particular development to stop it or at least significantly slow its progress. The liberation of animals from exploitative institutions and the destruction of genetically engineered crops are also direct, autonomous actions, not acts of terrorism.
Anarchists have said over and over again that the state and capital are the real terrorists. And who could say otherwise after examining how they enforce their will? A uniformed, armed force patrols the streets of every city imposing the will of the ruling class. Nuclear, biological and chemical weapons send their messages of the need to comply with the demands of those who control them and whisper in the back of even the most rebellious minds of the need for “social peace” — this peace which always rests on terror. The threat of poverty — homelessness, material want, even starvation — sits in the recesses of the worker’s mind keeping her compliant. The examples are endless since this terror, used by those who rule us for the explicit purpose of keeping us in line, is in fact the atmosphere of our daily existence.
The irony of the establishment of this anti-terrorist? task force in Portland is that, upon careful examination, it also exposes who the real terrorists are. The actions of the ELF and the ALF (specifically targeted by this task force), those that have attacked genetically engineered crops, the actions of anarchists in solidarity with FIES hunger strikers and other prisoners, against militarism, against a multitude of state and capitalist projects are potentially the very opposite of terrorism. Instead of frightening people into submission, such actions have the potential of exposing the vulnerability of the institutions and projects of the rulers of this society, the ease with which they can be attacked and damaged. Thus, they can encourage people to take action themselves, to rise up in revolt against that which impoverishes their existence. The state needs to act quickly and fiercely against this possibility, and one of its most important strategies is to demonize those who act autonomously, thus inducing fear of this sort of action. The state does this by labeling autonomous rebels as “terrorists?and direct action as “terrorism.” These blinding labels make it difficult for people to see through to the actual actions in order to come to their own understanding. In this way, the rulers terrorize those they rule not only into refraining from rebellion themselves, but into fearing and hating the rebel as well. But it is not the rebel who has induced this terror, but the state through its insidious machinations. Thus, in this “anti-terrorist” task force, the terrorism of the state is exposed again.
From the moment they came into existence, the state, capital and the entire network of institutions through which they maintain control have been warring against life, against wildness, against individual freedom and against self-determined relationships. Those who have dared to stand up against this have always been demonized, called lunatics, criminals, terrorists. But, in fact, we have been fighting against an existence so rationalized that very few can reason for themselves any more, so controlled that there are none left who are innocent before the law, and so permeated by the terror of power that fear itself has simply become part of the ennui, the bland horror, that passes for life today. Against the terrorism of power, we will not give up our fight.
Against the Logic of Submission: Hatred
Having made the decision to refuse to simply live as this society demands, to submit to the existence it imposes on us, we have put ourselves into a position of being in permanent conflict with the social order. This conflict will manifest in many different situations, evoking the intense passions of the strong-willed. Just as we demand of our loves and our friendships a fullness and intensity that this society seeks to suppress, we want to bring all of ourselves to our conflicts as well, particularly our conflict with this society aimed at its destruction, so that we struggle with all the strength necessary to accomplishing our aim. It is in this light, as anarchists, that we would best understand the place of hatred.
The present social order seeks to rationalize everything. It finds passion dangerous and destructive since such intensity of feeling is, after all, opposed to the cold logic of power and profit. There is no place in this society for passionate reason or the reasonable focusing of passion. When the efficient functioning of the machine is the highest social value, both passion and living, human reason are detrimental. Cold rationality based on a mechanistic view of reality is necessary for upholding such a value.
In this light, the campaigns against “hate” promoted not only by every progressive and reformist, but also by the institutions of power which are the basis of the social inequalities (when I refer to equality and inequality in this article, I am not referring to “equality of rights” which is a legal abstraction, but to the concrete differences in access to that which is necessary in order to determine the conditions of one’s life) that incorporate bigotry into the very structure of this society, make sense on several levels. By focusing the attempts to battle bigotry onto the passions of individuals, the structures of domination blind many well-meaning people to the bigotry that has been built into the institutions of this society, that is a necessary aspect of its method of exploitation. Thus, the method for fighting bigotry takes a two-fold path: trying to change the hearts of racist, sexist and homophobic individuals and promoting legislation against an undesirable passion. Not only is the necessity for a revolution to destroy a social order founded on institutional bigotry and structural inequality forgotten; the state and the various institutions through which it exercises power are strengthened so that the can suppress “hate”. Furthermore, though bigotry in a rationalized form is useful to the efficient functioning of the social machine, an individual passion of too much intensity, even when funneled into the channels of bigotry, presents a threat to the efficient functioning of the social order. It is unpredictable, a potential point for the breakdown of control. Thus, it must necessarily be suppressed and only permitted to express itself in the channels that have been carefully constructed by the rulers of this society. But one of the aspects of this emphasis on “hate” — an individual passion — rather than on institutional inequalities that is most useful to the state is that it permits those in power — and their media lapdogs — to equate the irrational and bigoted hatred of white supremacists and gay-bashers with the reasonable hatred that the exploited who have risen in revolt feel for the masters of this society and their lackeys. Thus, the suppression of hatred serves the interest of social control and upholds the institutions of power and, hence, the institutional inequality necessary to its functioning.
Those of us who desire the destruction of power, the end of exploitation and domination, cannot let ourselves succumb to the rationalizations of the progressives, which only serve the interests of the rulers of the present. Having chosen to refuse our exploitation and domination, to take our lives as our own in struggle against the miserable reality that has been imposed on us, we inevitably confront an array of individuals, institutions and structures that stand in our way, actively opposing us — the state, capital, the rulers of this order and their loyal guard dogs, the various systems and institutions of control and exploitation. These are our enemies and it is only reasonable that we would hate them. It is the hatred of the slave for the master — or, more accurately, the hatred of the escaped slave for the laws, the cops, the “good citizens”, the courts and the institutions that seek to hunt her down and return him to the master. And as with the passions of our loves and friendships, this passionate hatred is also to be cultivated and made our own, its energy focused and directed into the development of our projects of revolt and destruction.
Desiring to be the creators of our own lives and relations, to live in a world in which all that imprisons our desires and suppresses our dreams has disappeared, we have an immense task before us: the destruction of the present social order. Hatred of the enemy — of the ruling order and all who willfully uphold it — is a tempestuous passion that can provide an energy for this task that we would do well to embrace. Anarchist insurrectionaries have a way of viewing life and a revolutionary project through which to focus this energy, so as to aim it with intelligence and strength. The logic of submission demands thesuppression of all passions and their channeling into sentimentalized consumerism or rationalized ideologies of bigotry. The intelligence of revolt embraces all passions, finding in them not only mighty weapons for the battle against this order, but also the wonder and joy of a life lived to the full.
Burn every political perspective
Every cultural alternative
Discover your subversive singularity
Don’t be manipulated by the behaviorist codes
Of the normalizers and disciplinarians
Claim your individual autonomy as a starting point
For the complete overthrowal of existing society
Subvert the caged imagery dictated by the media
And let your imagination dance free
Beyond taboos and inhibitions
The spectacle adorns itself with corpses
That submerge reality under structural ghosts
Concealing passion and life
Within the prefabricated scenario of terror
Which like gangrene spreads its death song
Don’t be caged into collective alienation
That mental prison of capital and the state
To see it shatter won’t be a happy sight for them
Freedom demands the unlimited destruction of power
The destruction of their world
Forged on the chains of sacrifice
And suffering of millions
Life is rebelling and reclaiming its due
Small actions, easily reproducible, requiring unsophisticated means that are available to all, are by their very simplicity and spontaneity uncontrollable. They make a mockery of even the most advanced technological developments in counter-insurgency. This is what capital and the State are afraid of, this is the news that never makes the headlines, but is carefully concealed from the public eye. This is the good news that we intend to spread and augment in this and our future work.
(November 11, 2000)“There were three successful bomb attacks against banks in Athens, and a fourth bomb was defused by police. All four bombs were placed by the group “Revolutionary Cores.” Such attacks are a means of struggle used commonly by anarchists in Greece. In the weeks preceding these bombings, there were several others expressing solidarity with imprisoned anarchists N. Maziotis and S. Seisidis.
(November 13, 2000)“Forty to fifty anarchists disrupted a speech by the Mexican ambassador at the university “Macedonia”. The anarchists threw eggs and shouted slogans supporting the rebels in Chiapas.
(November 29, 2000)“Sometime before dawn, unknowns attacked nine Starbucks outlets. They broke windows at a couple of outlets, glued locks and left spray painted messages and circle-A’s on others. Because these actions were taken in the night by small affinity groups before the public commemorative demonstration, none of those involved in these actions were arrested.
ANARCHISTS ARRESTED IN SPAIN
Eduardo Garcia and Estafania Maurete were arrested in mid-November in connection with seven bomb parcels sent to different fascist newspapers under the name of Los Anarquistas. Several houses were raided in conjunction with these arrests, and the media began a campaign of vilification against these two comrades and various groups with which they are associated. Eduardo was released on parole, but rearrested on November 17 due to complaints from ministers, prosecutors, police, judges and other authorities. He is being in the prison at Soto del Real, charged with terrorism, membership in an armed group and attempt. Estefania was released without charges, but her whereabouts are not known. Though the two hardly knew each other, the authorities accused them of belonging to the same anarchist “cell” in spite of the fact that no such thing exists. It is thought that Estafania was, in fact, arrested because of her relationship with a prisoner, Santiago Cobos, who is held in one of the harshest prisons in Spain, the prison at Jaen. He has endured beatings and recently took part in a prison mutiny. The attempt to criminalize Estafania may thus be an attempt to break his morale.
The authorities have tried to create the image of a conspiracy between certain FIES prisoners (prisoners in solitary confinement) and Estefania and Eduardo to do these bombings. This comes at a time when fierce struggles against the FIES are going on within and outside of the prisons. It is clearly an attempt by the authorities to weaken these struggles. In Jerez, unknown comrades took action in solidarity with the two and with the struggles of prisoners. They sabotaged the door of the PSOE and left graffitied messages of solidarity with the anarchist comrades. The statue of Alvar Nuez Cabeza de Vaca, slaughterer of Native Americans, was covered in red paint and the plaque of his statue defaced. Further messages were left on the walls of a nearby book fair.
As the state moves to repress our struggle to make our lives our own, we must continue to take action, no matter how small, attacking the state and its repressive apparatus, making it clear that we will not back down.
(November 27, 2000)“Individuals using the name ELF claimed responsibility for burning the Legend Ridge mansion, a newly built, unoccupied house in the Longmont vicinity. The fire caused $2.5 million in damages. The fire occurred in the 160 acre Legend Ridge development. By now it is clear that continuous development is harmful to the natural environment and to human interaction, and such actions are reasonable, autonomous responses to this situation that move beyond the endless cycle of demands to those in power begging them to act in our place.
MIDDLE ISLAND-LONG ISLAND, NY
(December 1, 2000)“During the early morning hours, individuals using the name Earth Liberation Front (ELF) attacked a development site. They smashed over 200 windows in houses that were already built, pulled up survey stakes to delay clear-cutting, painted each structure with slogans against urban sprawl and sabotaged twelve vehicles including backhoes, bulldozers and the like that were being used in the development.
(December 2, 2000)“Comrades here took various actions in solidarity with an ongoing hunger strike by prisoners locked in the FIES in Spain. The immediate demands of the hunger strike include the end of the FIES regime, the liberation of sick woman prisoners and the end of the practise of isolating “troublesome” prisoners by keeping them in institutions far from their homes and reducing friendship and solidarity among prisoners by means of frequent transfers. The actions taken in Latina in solidarity with the hunger strikers include: — placing stickers against the Spanish state and prisons around the city; — setting 15 trash cans on fire; — attacking ATMs and windows with eggs filled with red paint: — attacking the windows of a Rental Worker Agency on which the graffiti “exploiters of misery” appeared; — placing a banner at a downtown terrace which read: “Solidarity with FIES prisoners.”
This was anonymous, widespread, spontaneous direct action. FIES is a “prison within the prison” instituted by the Spanish state to isolate “troublesome” prisoners — that is, those who refuse to give up their dignity and submit to the humiliation imposed on them. The FIES plays the specific role of discouraging prisoners from revolt for fear of finding themselves completely monitored and isolated from those they care. The above actions are expressions of solidarity with the vigor with which prisoners in the FIES, in the officially recognized prisons and in the prison which is this society refuse to tolerate their condition and fight to liberate themselves from it.
(December 7, 2000)“As the European summit opened in Nice, thousands of people took to the streets to demonstrate. They converged toward the convention center where the summit was being held with hopes of blocking access to the area and harassing summit participants. Though the various heads of state got through with little problem, in the streets demonstrators battled cops, blocking traffic in several parts of town. Two blocks from the convention center, a bank was set ablaze and some demonstrators attempted to block a fire truck that came to put out the fire. When the blaze was extinguished, people attacked a real estate office, smashing its windows. The next day was much calmer. The most outstanding actions this day were the “smelly-ball” attacks against banks, supermarkets and a Buffalo Grill restaurant, in which stink-causing devices were used.
It is not clear what the organizers of demonstrations such as this have in mind, but many of the participants are very clear — they choose to no longer make demands of power, but rather to attack it with the aim of destroying it.
(December 8, 2000)“During a protest against working conditions of Nicaraguan garment workers, four individuals dressed in Santa costumes entered Kohl’s department store, spray-painted racks of clothing and released pepper spray, thus evacuating the store of customers. Damage is estimated to be in the tens of thousands of dollars.
HAUPAGE, LONG ISLAND, NY
(December 7, 2000)“Individuals using the names Earth Liberation Front and Animal Liberation Front attacked the corporate headquarters of McDonald’s here, smashing over ten windows and spray-painting slogans.
(December, 2000)“Twice anarchists in this city have invaded the subways in costume, tactically defying authorities by escaping on to the trains while reading and handing out proclamations against work and the alienation of capitalist relations. The following texts were read and distributed (I have taken the liberty to correct grammatical errors and make the English read more smoothly): “Are we moles? Don’t avert your eyes from the people across from you pretending to be indifferent. What if we talk about our boring everyday life? What we do for a living and what exhausts us? Let’s talk about what we need to change. If you don’t want to do that, just wink at someone of the opposite — or the same — sex who is attractive to you. Who knows? Maybe something will happen.- Don’t look at your tiny cell phone like a jerk, instead share some beers with the people you don’t know on the train. We are like moles who are blind. As long as we remain blind, the fuckers with power love to chain us up. Thus we don’t want to be moles any more. We’re going to spend the rest of our lives in the subway! In thirty years, we are going to live in the subway station where we eat, sleep and have sex. So why don’t we think about which line would be best for each of us? Having breakfast in line #1 which is quite old; reading papers in line #2 which is crowded; seeing friends in line #3 which is dim; making love in line #4 which is fairly quiet. Just thinking about it gets you really romantic, doesn’t it?
Idleness is an important human freedom. To rush into the subway, to rush into the train to get a seat in the most comfortable place. And to keep sitting with a sad man’s face. You might say there is a reason, a certain reason, to live with this routine. You might say you have some work to do, you have a reason to maintain your days. And you have to do it. You don’t have any other choice. And you might say it’s reality. But you have some choice! Look inside yourself; look at the world beyond your routine life. There are many things that happen here and there in the world. There are many problems. And those problems are related to your own surroundings, yourself, as you say.
As we come and go constantly through the subway, the air that we breathe, the water that we drink, the nature that we enjoy are being run to ruin. And more and more, society emphasizes function, efficiency. In this society our basic freedoms that we can enjoy have disappeared. And we see that world with insensibility.
It is said that to live in idleness, with free time is useless. That’s the world. And we call it reality. So people just live following their rules like automatons; they are dependent on ghostly space like the shadow of skyscrapers. We want to resist that kind of world! We can enjoy our life. We can think about our world. We have the freedom of idleness. In that way, we can live more creatively, sensitively, more humanly. And in that way, We can grasp ourselves. We can understand the real world.”