Political texts

You Don’t Need to Be a Dickhead to Be a Nihilist, But It Helps

06/April/2015

I sit in a caravan in the Sully site, where most of Kilnaboy is based, contemplating the events of the last 24 hours or so, in which I have experienced a series of changing interpretations of the same event

I have heard things second hand, third hand, fourth, all at different times, piecing together the implications. It has caused me at certain moments to doubt whether I had any friends in the world, then to be reassured. At times I felt that the forces of evil were triumphant, and that I was resigned to abandon all my hopes and dreams to discover a new life on the road.

Basically, some shit went down, but it all seems sorted now.

The future ahead of me seems bright, my plans seem not only feasible but almost inevitably bound to come to fruition almost without much effort needed. Of course, this is not actually the case at all and I will need to constantly keep the dream alive in the minds of others, and of course myself, which takes considerable energy.

It’s basically a dream war that I am engaged in, and sometimes rival dreams come into collision to my own in ways that are disturbing and most confusing. Indentifying malignant dreams in the minds of others seems to me now to be of paramount importance for the success of any venture.

Witness the nihilist-individualist-insurrectionalist tendency of the anarchist mileu. Their dreams are on full display, they make no bones about it. They want destruction.

I am not unfamiliar nor even particularly unsympathetic to their world-view. Sympathy is after all about feeling the same way as someone, and I have often felt that there is a great need for the destruction of a great many things that currently exist in this world.

But much of the literature of this tendency uses the word ‘existent’ to describe that which they wish to destroy. Now I am sure that many of these writers have chosen their words carefully and probably could give you a pretty reasonable sounding reason for why they choose to use that word, which sounds so awfully close to the word ‘existence’. But it is certainly not a word in everyday usage in English speaking countries, so it is extremely likely to be misinterpreted.

My understanding of what nihilism means as a political philosophy is not so much that they wish to simply destroy everything that exists, but that they are in favour of the violent destruction of all authoritarian structures and yet do not believe it is wise to formulate a program or vision for how society should be organised afterwards.

I can see a certain logic there from the point of view of someone who wants to see a better world and is convinced that it necessarily involves the dismantling of all oppressive structures. Most anarchists do not claim to have all the answers for how a post-revolutionary anarchist world would look after all.

Indeed, for enough people to be mobilised against the forces of the State in order to stand a chance of defeating them, there would need to be an extraordinary level of unity and cooperation amongst working class people, and perhaps this is unlikely to be achieved if people are to insist upon too much consensus upon theoretical questions.

It is often the case that groups of well-meaning people end up arguing for hours about theoretical questions without coming to a consensus and that this causes much less work to be done than when these discussions are somehow avoided.

Some nihilists may be people who would indeed like to see a world based on mutual aid and cooperation, but just don’t want to ram that vision down other people’s throats while they are trying to unite with them and take on the forces of oppression.

For example I once read a pamphlet called ‘nihilist communism’ which seems to be arguing for nihilism as a strategy for libertarian communist revolution. They claim that attempts by ideological communist and anarchist groups to inspire class consciousness amongst working class people have little to no effect on the actual likely hood of a revolution.

Instead they assume that in the workers will take over the means of production and reorganise them along communist lines inevitably without communist activists having to do anything.

This may just be a rationalisation of these particular nihilists’ laziness or ineptness at reaching out to the public. Or it may be an interesting contribution to a debate on revolutionary strategy. Perhaps both.

At least it is clear that they ultimately believe in a world based on a positive vision of human solidarity, to the point where they naively imagine human nature to be such that people conditioned their entire lives by capitalism would suddenly change their entire world view and way of life over night simply because the power of the State had collapsed.

The same can not be said though of a certain individual I have recently met describing themselves as a “nihilist individualist” – which I understand to be an increasingly popular tendency amongst certain members of the anarchist milieu, thanks in part to the ‘propaganda of the deed’ of certain groups such as the Conspiracy of Cells of Fire.

As an individualist, this person claims not to care about the working class, and as a nihilist, not to care about the world once the State is gone, or even about trying to destroy the State completely, merely doing lots of violent actions against it just for the hell of it. He seems to be one of those people who believe that climate change will sweep away the State, or that everything will collapse on its own.

In this regard he is similar to the nihilist communists in that he thinks the State will collapse on its own and then his preferred vision for the future will come about. Where he differs from the communists is that his preferred vision seems to be a nightmare apocalypse world rather than one which is actually good to live in.

He thinks there is no hope to save the world, and that anyone who thinks there is so stupid that their ideas should be violently opposed.

This is what he has spent many hours talking to me about, even when I have made it clear to him that I do not particularly enjoy listening to it. He will sketch out in detail just how doomed everything is, painting a vision in other people’s minds that he fills in more and more details of. Whatever visions he has in his own mind of such a world must be even darker.

His dreams are on a collision course with those of almost everyone else in the anarchist milieu, and he seems to actively take pleasure in destroying their faith in whatever it is they believe in, through constant angry ranting, regardless of how much people beg him to stop for the sake of their mental health.

This experience is going to make it very hard for me not to become prejudiced against any person claiming to hold views they call ‘nihilist individualist’, or any actions or literature bearing that title.

I know it is not fair to blame a set of ideas for the actions and attitudes of a particularly unpleasant individual, but he truly has scarred my mind, which will surely be likely to impair my rational judgement of a set of philosophical ideas that are so closely intertwined with these unhappy memories.

All of this has made me feel it more necessary to affirm what I do believe in and how it differs from nihilism, and especially nihilist individualism.

The set of ideas that first convinced me that the anarchist project had validity were those of the social ecologists, such as Murray Bookchin. In short, social ecology is the theory that in order for human beings to live in harmony with other species as part of sustainable ecosystems we must organise our society on basically anarchist communist lines, while of course also making other more obvious technological and agricultural changes.

Social ecology is a radical tendency of the environmental movement which has been explicitly influenced by anarchist communist ideas, and creates a theoretical framework for understanding the intersections between social struggles and environmental struggles.

To me, social ecology is compatible with class struggle anarchism, anarcha feminism, queer anarchism, and pretty much every other strand of anarchism. It can be an intellectual tool to help unite working class people of all identities to unite to create a more sustainable world which is also one in which individuals are more or less completely liberated by the fact that their basic needs are met by communistic forms of social organisation.

My experiences as an active anarchist militant between 2007 and 2011 led me to the conviction that the ideas of the insurrectionalist tendency, and especially Alfredo M Bonanno, about the ways in which anarchists should organise in order to help build working class revolutionary consciousness were correct.

At least, I thought they were more correct than those of the platformists, specificist’s and ideological anarcho-syndicalists, though I still retain sympathy for the IWW concept of trying to build ‘One Big Union’ as part of a diversity of tactics, but not as a sole strategy.

Ideological anarchist syndicalists, like the IWA, or groups inspired by platformist and specificist ideas, like the IFA, in my opinion are wasting too much time trying to convince people that anarchist communism is what they should believe in.

This is why I find the ideas of the nihilist communists interesting, but I believe they take it too far. I believe that we should be trying to convince people of anarchist communism, but not by talking about it theoretically as a potential vision for the future that we can choose to struggle for if we want to.

I believe we must demonstrate the necessity of the ideas of anarchist communism by showing how they are directly useful in creating a new society based on a sustainable relationship to the earth, and be actively trying to build a working class movement to fight for the revolutionary changes necessary to save the human species.

I believe that to build such a movement we should adopt an insurrectionalist approach to strategy and organisation. We should organise as informally as possible while retaining as much structure as is absolutely necessary for practical reasons, and the basic unit of organisation in any anarchist project should be the affinity group.

Affinity groups should seek to make direct contact with working class people outside the anarchist milieu to form ‘autonomous base nuclei’ who then engage in a conflict with the State around a clear, achievable goal. Insurrectionalist Social Ecology would mean forming autonomous base nuclei that were engaging in struggles against the State based around both social and ecological goals at once.

By taking action with people outside the anarchist milieu, we avoid ghettoising ourselves and becoming irrelevant ideologues. If we achieve our specific goals we will hopefully inspire other working class people to replicate the actions we have taken alongside the people in our autonomous base nucleus rather than only inspiring other anarchists, as would be the case if we only took action in our own explicitly anarchist affinity groups.

An example of a conflict with the State that had both social and ecological aspects and which involved a combination of anarchists and non anarchists taking action would be a squatted piece of land being used by anarchists and non-anarchists alike to promote ecological awareness and the benefits of communal living, which actively resists attempts by the State to evict it and mobilises the community to help with the resistance by pointing out that they have a common enemy in the local capitalist landlord.

Such a struggle is going on now in the Yorkely Court Community Farm in the Forest of Dean, and it is successfully building it’s support base in the local working class community, while at the same time hopefully inspiring them to care more about ecology and the necessity of struggle against the state.

Thousands of similar revolutionary projects are going on around the world, resisting Fracking, Mining, Tar Sands Oil extraction, and many other environmental disasters being perpetrated by the State and it’s capitalist friends.

The amount of territory on earth which needs to be taken out of the control of the State and be put in the hands of working class people organising in ways compatible with Social Ecology, is huge, and in fact grows by the day. We not only need to be reclaiming the land, sea and sky from our enemies but also to be repairing all the damage they have done over the past two centuries and creating something sustainable at the end of it.

It’s a ridiculously huge task, but luckily for us as individuals we don’t need to really waste our time thinking about how big a task it is, because we are just playing very small parts in a very big task, so we just need to look after our mental health, stay positive and get on with doing our own fair share of the revolutionary work.

By carrying on pushing, by creating good strategies and by constantly updating our understanding of how best to inspire people to change their consciousness and become actively involved in fighting for a more sustainable world, I believe it is possible that the human race will survive the twenty first century.

We are not going to get there if our efforts are hampered by people who openly admit that they do not want to help fight for that world because they either do not believe it is possible or even desirable. If such people get in our way we must resist them and not sacrifice our revolutionary projects to their death-wish for the planet.

If there are people reading this who call themselves nihilists but who do actually care about the survival of humanity and just have some difference of opinion about what kind of strategy we need to get there, then I do not mean to cause you offense, so long as you are someone capable of polite conversation and debate.

If you do not care, either about humanity, or the feelings of those humans who do care about humanity and are trying to help save it, then I don’t know why you would hang around the anarchist milieu except to deliberately provoke people and cause them harm just because they have a different, more positive outlook than yourself. In other words, you’re a dickhead.

Order Within Chaos: Why Informal Anarchist groups still need formal meetings

The ideas of the ‘insurrectionalist’ anarchist theorists like Alfredo M Bonanno have influenced the direct action and anarchist groups in the UK a lot even though the majority of the anarchists who are involved have probably never even heard of these theories.

Lots of Anarchists in the UK try to organise in ways that Bonanno advocated without even realising they are doing it. They have just got involved in groups that already run like that and so just got used to it, without necessarily realising what the original point of it was.

There is a lot of confusion, ending up with a bizarre way of organising things that is actually the opposite of what Bonanno was advocating, at least as far as i understand it.

The main confusion that i can see is that people have mixed up the idea of organising in “informal” networks, with the idea of just generally organising everything in an informal way.

Bonanno was against having formal Anarchist organisations based on models like the Anarchist Federations in different countries. He thought that when Anarchists put too much energy into creating these organisations then they don’t have energy left to actually get on with working with other oppressed people to take action for liberation.

(Bonano talks about this in “Why a Vanguard” and “The Real Movement vs the Fictious Movement” available from Elephant Editions http://www.elephanteditions.net/.)

Anarchists can get so caught up in the day to day running of their organisation that they can start to think that somehow by helping their organisation they are helping the actual struggle.

When people start to think like this they are basically making the same mistakes as Marxists who think that the working class can only be free if they are organised by the Communist/Socialist Party, so put all their energy into making those Parties, and sometimes even do things which destroy real struggles for the benefit of the Party.

The same thing can happen with formal Anarchist groups like the Anarchist Federation. For example if there is a big riot or wildcat strike or other form of action that is illegal, then Anarchists can help the people doing it by explaining to the wider public why it is happening and arguing that it is actually a good thing by giving a critique of capitalism and advocating liberation.

But if people in the group are worried about what reputation the group will have then they might not do this, or might even say to the public that they disagree with it, which helps destroy the struggle by helping the State punish those taking action by cutting off public support for them.

Lots of Anarchists realize the problems of Formal Anarchist groups and so try to avoid them. But what often happens is that they just form informal ‘scenes’ of people which end up doing the same thing without even having the advantage of a formal way of making decisions.

In informal anarchist ‘scenes’ people often end up caring so much about the internal politics of the ‘scene’ that they also do not have energy to go out into the wider world to start real projects for liberation.

When they do go out into the world and try to do a project they often only work with other people in the ‘scene’ instead of uniting with other oppressed people and they often do things in a very ineffective way because they have no formal structures.

Formal Anarchist groups at least can get things done, such as printing regular publications and organising public events that are well advertised and run smoothly, because they have a structure to organise all the tasks and hold people to account to make sure they do them.

In informal anarchist scenes often people just talk about things really vaguely, then don’t really do the tasks necessary to follow through on their ideas, or just leave all the work to a few individuals who might happen to have a hard-working personality.

Actions, demonstrations and publications are often extremely badly planned and executed and therefore pointless. No-one does any serious work to think about what their goals actually are, what strategies and tactics will achieve them, but instead just do random actions when they feel like it.

People end up getting arrested, beaten and traumatized because they tried to do actions that were pointless anyway and then badly planned so that they are easily dealt with by the authorities. No one is inspired by these actions to fight for liberation and often the wider public have absolutely no idea that the actions even happened, or what they were supposed to be for.

Bonanno’s theory shows how informal anarchist scenes can do the same thing as formal Anarchist organisations. They can prioritize themselves above actual struggles.

For example an informal anarchist scene that is based around a social centre can end up just spending all its time organising things at that social centre that only appeal to other anarchists instead of using the social centre to reach out to people in the wider community.

Even if people in the wider community might be involved in real struggles against local capitalists and authorities, the anarchists in the social centre might not even know about it because they are too busy arguing with each other about minor theoretical points. They may even misunderstand the struggle and start to fear it, feeling that they have to protect their scene from local angry working class youth rather than uniting with them.

Bonanno and other people like him basically said that instead of organising big Anarchist organisations with a formal decision making structure, we should just stick to working in small affinity groups and that these affinity groups should network with each other.

(Bonanno talks about this in ‘Insurrectionalist Anarchism’)

An affinity group is just a group of people who share ‘affinity’ with each other. This means that they don’t just agree with each other on big political ideas (e.g. being against capitalism and for Anarchy) but also have the same focus for what they specifically want to spend their time on, and have a lot of trust and respect for each other.

When you are part of a group of people like this you can go out into the world and start trying to start projects with other working class people who maybe are not anarchists.

For example, if you have an affinity group of people who feel strongly that they want to put a lot of energy into workplace issues, they could go and find a workplace where the workers are trying to resist the bosses oppression in some way and try and link with those workers to support their struggle in whatever way seems relevant.

If the anarchist affinity group and some of the workers start to form a group together to organize the things they are doing as part of the struggle, then they have formed what Bonanno calls an “autonomous base nucleus” – which is a very weird phrase so i will try to explain it word by word.

“Autonomous” means “self-law making”, so an autonomous group is a group that has no power structure above it which can tell it what to do, how to organise or what rules or ‘laws’ it should obey. Instead the members of the group decide amongst themselves what the rules are going to be.

“Base” in this context means “the bottom of society”. The idea here is that people on the bottom of society, people who are poor and oppressed in various ways, are the ones who can change society.

By struggling for their own freedom, people at the bottom of society can change the whole system, because everyone at the ‘top’ depends on exploiting and oppressing those at the bottom, so their whole system would collapse if people on the bottom could free themselves.

Anarchists should completely reject the idea that you can change things in society without working directly with the people on the bottom who are struggling for their own liberation.

“Nucleus” means ‘a thing which other things rotate around’, like the planets rotating around the Sun, or electrons rotating around the nucleus of an atom, or chemicals in a cell of an animal or a plant being group around the nucleus of the cell.

So an Autonomous Base Nucleus is a group of working-class oppressed people who are organising by themselves, with noone above them telling them how to do it, and which other oppressed people might ‘rotate’ around in some way.

To go back to the example of the anarchist affinity group organising with some workers, the group they would form would probably only consist of the most radical workers, or the workers who had the most energy to put into the struggle.

But if a group like that exists then the other workers will know about it and probably help out with the activities of the group from time to time, even if they don’t go to all the meetings or participate in absolutely everything. That’s what i mean by ‘rotating around the nucleus’.

When you have an autonomous base nucleus then all those other oppressed people who don’t really have the energy to put into being part of the group can still end up being part of really amazing actions that actually change things in society, because the group does most of the work of organising things and then the others just have to come along at the right moment and be part of it.

But if there is no autonomous base nucleus then pretty much nothing is likely to happen, as the people who don’t have much energy will not just magically come together and make something happen without someone, somewhere, working hard to organise it.

So we can see here that lots of meetings, planning and organisation are involved at every step of this process.

First the anarchist affinity group needs to have meetings and conversations where they decide what their project is going to be. Who are they going to try and form and autonomous base nucleus with and why? How are they going to get in touch with those people? How are they going to make sure that they don’t get caught by the authorities before they’ve even done anything? What are they going to do if they do get caught? What are they going to do if the people they want to unite with are skeptical, or even hostile?

All these things take careful planning. Serious decisions need to be made. Lots of points need to be debated and consensus needs to be reached. Particular things that need to be done need people to volunteer to do them and they need to be accountable to the rest of the group if they don’t do what they promised to.

All of that will take a lot less time is people organise their meetings with some kind of formal structure.

Choose someone to be the chair or ‘facilitator’ of the meeting, who decides whose turn it is to speak so that everyone doesn’t talk over each other and people with dominant personalities don’t drown everyone else’s voices out.

Write an agenda for each meeting and put time limits on each point, for example: “we will try and finish this meeting in one hour. Lets spend ten minutes going over what things we said we’d do last time and seeing if they got done or not, then twenty minutes talking about new ideas, then half an hour talking about how to put those ideas into practice”.

Without organising what you are going to talk about in advance and for how long meetings can end up lasting for hours and going around in circles, which makes everyone feel bored and uninspired, possibly even making them want to give up the whole project.

Choose someone to act as ‘secretary’ to make a note of who said they would do what and then to check up on them later to remind them what they said they would do, and then make sure everyone knows when the next meeting is.

Without someone acting in this ‘secretary’ role people can forget what they said they would do, and if someone isn’t able to do what they said they would and then doesn’t come to the next meeting, no-one knows if it got done or not so it can be impossible to move forward.

All these are simply suggestions of things i have seen work well in the past, but the main point i am trying to make is that having formal meeting structures can actually help an affinity group begin a project to start an autonomous base nucleus.

Once the nucleus is formed and you are actually part of a struggle, then there is even more need for meetings and decisions to be made. You need to decide what you are fighting for and what strategies and tactics you are going to use to try and achieve it. Then as you are putting these plans into practice things can change rapidly and you may need to completely change tactics.

Lots of things need to be done and people need to be held accountable for doing them, so all these kinds of formal mechanisms like agenda setting and secretary roles become really important, possibly even matters of life or death depending on what kind of struggle it is.

For example, if you run the risk of being arrested or beaten up or killed if a particular action goes wrong, then all the people who volunteered to take on the different tasks of organising the action really need to do what they said they would do, and others need to know whether or not they have done it, not just assume they have.

I hope by now i have explained the importance of formal meetings and a generally professional attitude to the insurrectionalist anarchist project.

It is not enough to just “reject formal structure” in general, as an absolute rule that applies to everything and just sit around chatting shit with other anarchists in your little scene without ever being prepared to be serious and figure out how to engage with real struggles and conduct yourself in an appropriate way as a revolutionary.

If you fail as a serious revolutionary you will not be punished by any kind of Anarchist authority. You will be punished by the fact that you will continue to live in a system that oppresses you without you being able to do anything to effectively challenge it.

When you are doing serious revolutionary work, rather than fake bullshit for some formal organisation or informal scene, you feel great. You don’t feel oppressed, you feel like you are free and on the road to greater freedom.

You don’t feel the need to complain about things while being too depressed to do anything. You feel happy and inspired to be part of a real movement for liberation.

So please, think about what struggles are going on in communities of oppressed people around you that you could help to radicalize then form an affinity group and make a plan to form an autonomous base nucleus and get on with it.

Good luck, comrade.

What does the Anarchist Action Network want to be?

This text is intended to be a contribution towards helping to build a new Anarchist organisation in the UK. Individuals and small groups of Anarchists from various cities have been cooperating for several months already under the name of the Anarchist Action Network and are organising several events aimed at reaching out to working class communities in which the Anarchist movement is not currently very strong.

Over the years much has been written about the problems that can occur in situations such as this, when a group of people who are in a minority – Anarchists – attempt to reach out to “the masses”.

Anarchist groups and organisations often run the risk of acting like “vanguards”: separating ourselves off from the rest of society and then reaching out to people as if we believe our ideas are better than theirs and that therefore they need us to educate them or follow our example.

If we allow ourselves to think like this too much then we fail to see reality as it really is. Oppressed people struggle against their oppression in a self-organised way whether Anarchists are around or not. This is something we should never forget, especially because it is where the real hope for an anarchist revolution lies, rather than in our own actions as a minority of people.

However, because Anarchists by definition reject all forms of hierarchy and have an uncompromising attitude towards the State, we can often play useful roles in the struggles of the oppressed in ways that people of other perspectives usually do not.

When people organise their own struggles without hierarchies and are directly fighting against the sources of their oppression, the struggles can get more and more intense, with lots of energy behind them, as individual people tend to feel empowered and inspired in these situations, especially if they struggling together with other people and there is a sense of real, practical solidarity going on.

But powerful people know this and so use a number of strategies for destroying this rebellious energy in individual people’s minds. Power tends to offer concessions and to encourage the oppressed to delegate representatives to negotiate on their behalf, then to try to corrupt these representatives and to go back on any promises of concessions as soon as the struggle has quietened down.

Anarchists, if we are genuinely part of a struggle in which this is going on, would usually be expected to argue against this, and to push for an uncompromising attitude with power and for non-hierarchical self organisation so that there can be no representatives for the powerful to corrupt.

We would do this simply because we are anarchists and that’s what we do. But we can only do it if we are genuinely part of the struggle, which means that if we start from a situation of being outside a struggle, we need to think deeply about how to merge with the struggles that we wish to be a part of.

People who are already in a struggle will often be grateful to anyone who comes along and helps out in a practical way without trying to take over the struggle or impose their own world-view.

The Anarchist Action Network should therefore aim to be an organisation of people with useful skills and resources to offer people who are engaged in struggles of various kinds, rather than an organisation of intellectuals or propagandists for a particular ideology.

This does not mean that we should not be an intellectual organisation. We should on the contrary be constantly analysing hierarchies in the struggles we are involved in, the success of failure of these struggles, and being self-critical about our own position in these struggles to make sure we are not acting like vanguards, and make sure the struggles actually win.

Anarchists do not only have to argue in meetings of other people that the struggle should not compromise with power. We also sometimes need to actually take action as a minority within a broader movement in order to counter-act the hierarchical or treacherous tendencies in the movement.

For example if some powerful individuals within a movement are trying to steer the movement towards accepting a compromise rather than pushing for more action, sometimes we need to just take action ourselves, to make sure than action happens. This may even involve organising actions in secret from other people in the movement against oppression so that no-one stops us.

This is basically what happened at the Millbank demonstration in 2011. A group of anarchists, who were probably not even students themselves, decided to take the action of attacking the Millbank building, correctly assuming that other people would join in.

This meant that the NUS, which was lead by the Labour Party and was trying to get students to accept compromise with the same government that was oppressing them, became irrelevant as an organisation in the struggle against fees.

The Millbank action sabotaged the NUS’s ability to control the student movement by reminding students that they could take action in more autonomous ways. Sure enough, in the week following the action thousands of students were organising their own autonomous demonstrations, occupations and actions, all around the country.

The wave of militant struggle was coordinated through the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts, which was an autonomous organisation that developed from the reality of the struggle, rather than being an ideologically anarchist organisation, although anarchist activists played a role in creating it.

The Millbank experience demonstrates the kind of approach that anarchists can take when acting as a minority in a wider struggle.

Anarchists took actions themselves without waiting for anyone to give permission, but had a good enough analysis of the struggle to know what kind of action would resonate with the rest of the people in the struggle and help kick it up a notch.

Anarchists also were involved in helping to shape the autonomous decision making structures that were born out of the struggle in order to make sure they were as horizontal as possible,as well as taking part in the propaganda of the movement, but all without making too big a deal of the fact that they were anarchists.

This shows that instead of being a bunch of people promoting a particular ideology, we are at our best when we take action that helps to radicalise real struggles while being a minority but without acting in an authoritarian way ourselves – simply by living by the principles we believe in: in favour of direct action and against hierarchy.

The Anarchist Action Network should also avoid as much as possible the formation of any kind of hierarchy within itself. Whatever tasks need doing to keep the organisation actively engaging in real struggles should be done by people chosen to do those specific tasks and particular people should not be allowed to take on too many important tasks so that they become more important figures than others.

Any tasks that are not actually about moving the real struggles forward but are simply about preserving the Anarchist minority organisation itself should not be done at all – or at least kept to an absolute bare minimum- because otherwise we will be just another irrelevant political clique.

We should not be interested in anything except the increasing self-organisation and direct action of the oppressed masses for their own liberation. If anything we do goes against this or is irrelevant to it then it is not Anarchist just because we say it is, unless we change the definition of Anarchism to mean “whatever we say”.

We should also bear in mind that not all struggles are “visible” to us in the same way that trade union or community campaigns are. Not all struggles have organisations with names and leaflets and public meetings behind them. So we do not have to just wait for public meetings to be organised by other people so that we can come to them and argue against hierarchy from within them, we can be the ones to organise public meetings ourselves for struggles that do not currently have them but which are still real struggles.

One important example is the never-ceasing struggle between the police and the various marginalised populations of the country. People resist the police in many ways: through setting up lookouts to warn when they are coming so that people can run away; through security culture (‘gangsta no answer no unknown number”); through solidarity (not grassing each other up); and sometimes through massive riots.

As anarchists our rejection of the police is absolute, as we reject the whole State, and the only forms of “policing” that would be compatible with our beliefs would be those in which the “police” were directly elected by and accountable to the communities that they serve through community assemblies etc (though many anarchists would not even accept this).

In the direct action subculture that many Anarchists are a part of there are many people with lots of skills that are useful to direct confrontations with police such as Legal Observing, prisoner support, affinity group tactics, ‘dearresting’ skills and much more.

The Black Panther Party for Self Defence – perhaps the most important revolutionary organisation to emerge in the Western world in the last 50 years – in fact began with just two people with legal observing skills going out to marginalised communities as a physical presence on the street to confront police when they would harass people for no reason other than to intimidate and oppress them.

By directly helping people in marginalised African-American communities to avoid getting arrested, and by having the courage to get in the faces of their oppressors, the Black Panthers quickly gained the respect of disaffected working class people of all races and grew to become a national organisation in just 2 years despite intense state surveillance.

Given that the most significant working class uprising in recent years in the UK was a nation wide uprising sparked by the murder of a Black man by police, the experience of the Black Panthers is not something we should ignore when attempting to build a new national revolutionary organisation.

Despite the fact that some Anarchists claim that the Mark Duggan riots were a continuation of the student riots in which the anarchist movement unmistakably played an important role, the truth is that there was very little involvement or even support from the “official” Anarchist movement – in the form of federations, social centres and various informal hierarchies in different single-issue direct action campaigns.

This shows how Anarchist organisations can become irrelevant to the real struggles of oppressed people and become self-serving, pointless organisations, if they have the wrong attitude.

Unfortunately Anarchist ghettoes really do exist in which people just play out the motions of keeping their own groups going without successfully attracting new people, because they are not involved in real struggles and are only interested in keeping an anarchist minority together for it’s own sake.

There is no point in creating the Anarchist Action Network if it is going to become just another example of this. We need to get out of the anarchist ghetto and into the real ghetto, and to anywhere else that oppressed people are already in self-organised struggles against the State, Capitalism, and all other forms of oppression.

Comments or angry rants are welcome, so long as it helps move forward the struggle.

For the constant self-organised direct action of all oppressed people against the State, capitalism and all forms of hierarchy.

For Anarchy, now and always.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Military Coup is not a Revolution

Watching this shit about Egypt blows my mind:

“The black colour represents the people of the nile, the white represents the purity of the youth and the red represents the peoples sacrifice, and the eagle represents the military, safeguard of the nation” the Coptic Pope of Egypt says, explaining the flag to the people. He speaks just minutes after one of the leading Sunni Muslim clerics also gave his thumbs up to the military coup that has taken place today

Religion justifying undemocratic government? Yep.

People on the streets are going nuts. Popular hysteria stirred up by nationalistic politicians? Yep.

There are people on the streets who are anti-military as well as being anti-Morsi. But do they have any guns? Al Jazeera is not telling me that.

So they probably don’t. This is a military coup, not a revolution. The army were the ones who got rid of Mubarak. They are the ones with the real power. “Power comes from the barrell of a gun” as a very powerful man with a whole lot of guns once said.

The military say they have a roadmap towards democracy. I have heard this before somewhere…. Iraq? Afghanistan? EVERYWHERE

The Israeli’s used to say they had a roadmap to peace. Even they gave up pretending after a while.

The revolution is not over in Egypt. People are gonna keep being pissed off until the authoritarian political system comes to an end, which will only be if a system of government based on military power comes to an end.

“Revolutionaries” setting off fireworks and cheering on the military as they suspend a constitution makes me sick, even if it was a stupid, Islamist constitution. “We have no rights! Hooray!”.

So now the Islamists are gonna be all like “fuck you! we like our stupid constitution! how dare you!” and you would have to feel sorry for them if they wern’t such a bunch of sexist nutters.

Solidarity with anti-authoritarian, anti-militarist Egyptians. There are loads of them and they deserve a real revolution, not to get thrown in jail by a military police claiming to represent them.

That’s all i can say right now. Lots of people are probably gonna die tonight. Think about them, not the fireworks

Staterape and Statehate

The police spy on radical activist groups in the UK and their undercover agents actively try to pursue sexual relationships with activists in order to make their cover more believable.

Undercover agents have done things like this for decades, if not centuries. Yet we still find it shocking when the truth comes out about a particular incident.

This is because people have been deceived into having sex, so they can not be said to have given their full consent. I call it Staterape.

Would any radical activist consent to having a policeman’s cock inside them? Perhaps. People have all kinds of weird fetishes. But the vast majority of us would not.

This is because we hate the police. Hate is a strong word, which is why I am using it. Hate is an emotional response. It is not something you have a choice about. You can not reason yourself out of something you never reasoned yourself into.

We have no choice but to hate the police because they systematically target us, intimidate us, spy on us, try to have sex with us through deception, use violence against us, lie about us, try and get us locked up for years, inflict psychological and physical trauma on us in thousands of ways. If we did not hate them, we would not be human. Statehate

Even if someone went into radical activism not feeling any hatred towards police, they will pretty soon develop this hatred as they see first hand just what it is like. Inevitably activists become friends with one another, and seeing your friends hurt makes you hate the people that hurt them, just as being hurt yourself makes you hate the person that hurt you.

Some people might say “forgive and forget”, “an eye for an eye and we shall all be blind” and various other spiritual sounding phrases. This is all very well, but as I said before, hatred is emotional, not rational. When you tell yourself over and over again to calm down you simply drown out one emotion and try to smother it with another. You are not actually being rational, you are just trying to manipulate your own emotions.

This is not healthy. What you are doing is repressing your emotions rather than working through them. If you hate someone you should try and talk to them about it. Hopefully they will feel sorry for hurting you and try to make amends. If this does not happen, maybe you will hate them even more.

In that case you might try and taking some more extreme action such as blocking them out of your life, or something slightly more malicious like saying a cutting remark, stealing or breaking something they love, or even being physically violent towards them.

When it comes to the police, or the State more generally, these options are not usually open to us. We can not talk to the State and get it to say sorry, because it takes years of sitting in inquiries, talking to journalists and organising campaigns just to even get them to admit they did something wrong, usually in cold diplomatic language, and they usually don’t give anything to their victims to make up for it.

We can not ignore the State, because it governs the entire territory we live in. It puts up posters all over town telling us not to break all of its laws, and CCTV cameras to make us feel like it is watching us all the time. It’s police officers drive around in cars with flashing lights and sirens that hurt our ears. How are we supposed to ignore that?

Saying a cutting remark to the State just feels like a waste of breath. Smashing its windows or stealing small souvenirs from it rarely seems worth the risk of getting caught.

It doesn’t really care about windows or small bits of office furniture anyway. It doesn’t care about anything except making money for its creditors.

Using violence against agents of the State is also far easier said than done. The main reason they spy on us after all is because they know we hate them so much that lots of us would like to see them dead. The politicians protect themselves with armed police, who themselves are protected by body armour.

You could probably kill some low-level bureaucrat, but what would be the point really? If in the moment you felt such a maddening hateful bloodrush that it actually felt good to do so, then that moment would quickly fade as within minutes you found yourself either shot in the head or knocked down onto the floor and dragged away to be tortured.

So the hatred grows and grows with no way of realising it. Some of us go insane under the pressure and are locked up in prisons they pretend are medical centres, stuffing us with drugs that State bureaucrats have been bribed to prescribe us by the multinational corporations that produce these drugs.

Others among the ranks of the radical movements decide to cut out the middle men and just fill our own bloodstreams with drugs we at least get to choose, but choice is limited to whatever the black market connections we have as individuals can offer. Horse tranquilisers are a popular one amongst political radicals, as they disassociate us from the seemingly intolerable reality we are faced with.

The rest of us try to get by day to day, channelling our hatred into small, useful, constructive acts. Making flyers, sending emails, organising little demonstrations, talking to people on the streets, putting on benefit gigs or film showings. Just keeping our movements going, holding the few active people still left together. But it’s always hard not to lapse into complete despair, have hateful and angry moments, or sometimes get completely wrecked on alcohol or other drugs.

Oh what a threat to the State we are. No wonder Staterape is so widespread. If it wasn’t the western imperialist superstructure would surely fall tomorrow. Good old boys in blue.

What happened in Woolwich is not Terrorism and anyone who says it is in an imperialist propagandist

In my last post “The West supports Islamic Terrorism When It Suits It’s Geopolitical Interests” i argued for abandonment of the term “terrorism” and use of the term “War Criminal” instead.

Last week in Woolwich a self-declared Muslim anti-Imperialist soldier killed an imperialist British soldier. That’s what happens when two armies are at war. Their soldiers try to kill each other.

No civilians were killed or even injured. No prisoners of war were taken and tortured. In short, no War Crimes were committed.

The men who killed the soldier were shot by British police. They were not armed with guns, only machetes. So they were shot by police for no reason. If the police are now considered soldiers, then it could be considered part of the war. But as far as i know they still do not officially consider themselves soldiers.

The mainstream press, including the so-called “liberal” newspapers like the Guardian, have all used the word “Terrorist” to describe what happened, as have the British Government. The attacks have been used by White Supremacist groups like the English Defense League and the British National Party as an excuse to attack Muslim immigrants in the UK even more. Islamophobic attacks have reportedly increased ten-fold in the wake of the Woolwich incident.

If, as some believe, these Fascist-inspired groups are really controlled by covert agents of the State for use as paramilitary forces, they are certainly doing their job well. If, as even more people believe, the mainstream media are effectively mouthpieces for the Imperialist ruling class, then they are also doing this job extremely well right now.

The ruling class know that if white, “British” working class people ever realised they had a common cause with colonial subjects of other ethnicity in uniting to fight for a better standard of living for all, the entire political order in the UK would be gravely threatened. With no underclass of migrant labourers to exploit, profits would surely go down. That’s what this is all about.

Many ruling class people themselves are not even particularly racist, as can be evidenced from the fact that there are so many non-White people on the UK Rich List, which came out last month. They do, however, have a direct economic interest in keeping wages down for the general population.

Keeping the provision of free public services by the state low helps drive down average wages, as desperate people are likely to work for less. Using immigration controls to create a criminalised underclass of migrant workers also keeps average wages down, because if legal citizens can use the pressure of trades unions and other campaign groups to force the state to set a minimum wage, this minimum wage will not apply to workers in the “illegal” economy.

If people of all national identities living in the UK could unite to form a working class movement fighting for an increased standard of living for all, it would also have repercussions all over the world. The majority of migrant workers send back part of their wages to their families in other countries, so if their wages were higher, their families, communities and even whole societies would also benefit.

But the imperialist ruling class don’t want that. They want the people of poor countries to remain poor, and the people of richer countries to remain as poor as possible as well. They want to keep us divided and consumed with ethnic, national, racial and religious hatred against one another.

Their propagandists will stoop to any level of double-standards and hyperbole to carry out this task. Do they ever describe the soldier who was killed in Woolwich as a terrorist? Why not? He was part of an organisation, the British Army, guilty of War Crimes all over the world. He himself served in Afghanistan in an operation in which civilians are routinely killed and prisoners of war routinely tortured by the Western Imperialist forces. How is he less of a terrorist than the man who killed him?

The West Supports Islamic Terrorism When It Suits It’s Geopolitical Interests

Some people may take me as a “conspiracy theorist” for what i’m about to say, so let me make this clear:

It doesn’t matter to me whether or not 9/11 was an “inside job”. Nor does it matter to me whether or not the moon landing was fake, or whether Stanley Kubric was the one who filmed it. I don’t care whether or not Jay Z, Rhianna or even Obama are members of Satanic cults. I don’t even really care whether or not reptilian aliens from the other side of the galaxy have been secretly running all human civilisations for the past 130,000 years.

But that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t matter if powerful people are secretly doing things which lead to the deaths of civilians that they then lie about. Killing civilians is not acceptable by most people’s standards of morality, and what’s more it goes against the Geneva convention, as does torture and the mistreatment or prisoners of war. If a government which has signed the Geneva convention does these things, the officials responsible are War Criminals.

Not lizards, or satanists or members of whatever New World Order you think is going on, but War Criminals. War Criminals who don’t want to be brought to justice, and would rather hide their tracks. If possible, they would rather be remembered as heroes, not criminals, or failing that not remembered at all.

If the West is at war against Islamist Terrorism, that’s one thing. Of course, “terrorist” is a slightly meaningless label given that most of the West’s enemies would call it’s leaders terrorists as well.  Whenever someone uses violence to achieve their political goals, then their opponents will probably call them a terrorist. It’s a subjective definition.

So let’s just stick with the term “War Criminal”, because that’s a lot more clear-cut. If a rebel group attacks a nation state, even killing military personnel in the process, they are not necessarily war criminals. In fact they may be completely dedicated to achieving a lasting peace and a democratic system of government, only resorting to violence because their enemies are so despotic and brutal that they are ensuring perpetual conflict.

However, anyone, whether they are a Nation-State, a rebel group or a mercenary squad, who kills civilians, tortures people or mistreats/kills prisoners of war, is a War Criminal, whatever their ideology, nationality or size.

The leaders of the West (broadly speaking, the NATO powers) are War Criminals. The mistreatment of prisoners of war at Guantanamo Bay is well known, and this is only one site at which prisoners of the “war against Terror” are tortured. The deaths of hundreds of thousands of civilians in Iraq due to Western bombs and bullets are also well known. Again Iraq is only the most famous recent example: Western bombs killed plenty of civilians in Libya, Mali, Afghanistan and Pakistan too, to name just a few examples.

Also War Criminals are the leaders of Al-Qaeda, Hezbollah, Hamas, Boko Haram, Al Nusra and any other Islamist militant group that targets civilians, torture’s people or kills or mistreats prisoners of war. So in this “War of Terror” both “sides” are War Criminals. Both can be called terrorists too, if you like that term. But it is of course more complicated than that, because there are not just two sides. There are too many “Islamist groups” in the world for anyone to be able to count them all, and they are not all united in common cause, with common leadership or even with a common ideology.

The West gets around this complexity by simply referring to them all as if they were the same, much as they used to refer all leftists and serious labour organisers around the world “Communists”, and for much the same reason. So that they can kill them, and their citizens will not object to it because the majority of those citizens have been convinced that “Communists”, or “Islamists” are a deadly threat.

But this lumping of all Islamic militants in the same category plays another function as well, which is to disguise the fact that the West is only really at war with some of these groups, and is in fact funding or operationally supporting others. This is the point at which some people will say i’m a conspiracy theorist, so i guess i’d better name drop some respected journalists and academics who have collected a wealth of empirical evidence for these claims: Michel Chossudovsky and Jeremy Scahill are good places to start.

I am going to focus on the bigger picture of the basic theory. Lets start with three basic assumptions: 1. Imperialism is a lot easier if the imperialist nations don’t have to fight all their own wars but can instead get the people who have already been conquered to fight them instead. 2. Imperialism is also a lot easier is the people who are being conquered are too busy fighting ethnic wars against one another instead of uniting against their colonisers. 3. Imperialism is even easier if the colonised people don’t even see themselves as such but instead are deluded into thinking they are citizens of independent sovereign nations.

Today we have a world divided between three major imperialist powers (Russia, China and the West) with a few countries led by governments who at least try to maintain a degree of independence (e.g. Iran, Cuba, Bolivia, Venezuela). Most of the world’s supposedly independent sovereign nations are actually Western proxy governments, since the West is the most militarily superior imperialist power.

Instead of ruling these countries’ peoples directly as colonial subjects, the West installs pseudo-democratic governments. These governments hold elections, but if the population elects a candidate the West doesn’t like, they will either be assassinated by agents working for the west, or their entire government will be overthrown by rebels armed by the West.

Two important books documenting this overall pattern are “War is a Racket” by Major General Smedley Butler and “Confessions of an Economic Hitman” by John Perkins, both of whom were actually heavily involved in this process and who later choose to expose it through their writings.

If the colonised people happen to vote for pro-Western candidates in their fake elections then they stand a chance of being able to live in peace. If not, and if they organised armed rebellion against whatever government the West imposes on them by force, they will most likely be drawn into a civil war that takes on ethnic dimensions.

Their revolutionary army will be infiltrated by Western agents who will do all they can do split the organisation into rival warring factions on ethnic lines, or the West will simply form a new “rebel” group to fight against them from the outside. Western propaganda, and the propaganda of the Western proxies on the ground, will constantly emphasise the ethnic dimensions of the conflict.

This could be done for example by forming a rival rebel group comprised of members of only one ethnic group to attack the genuine revolutionaries. This would be likely to inflame passions all across the country and perhaps lead to the spontaneous formation of other rebel armies representing only one ethnic group. Then the war will appear to outsiders and even to the citizens of the country to be an ethnic war rather than one between an imperialist country and it’s subjects.

Sometimes Russia, China, Iran or some other anti-western power will also be funding one of the other rebel armies, or perhaps the government the rebels are fighting itself. This is what’s going on in Syria: Russia is supporting the Assad regime, Iran are supporting Hezbollah, and Saudi Arabia and Qatar are supporting various other rebel groups. It must be pretty annoying (to say the least!) to be a genuine Syrian revolutionary and having to work with all these imperialists!

The interesting this is that the NATO powers do not directly fund the rebels, instead they fund Saudi Arabia and Qatar and let them fund rebels, though CIA, M16 and other western secret service agencies are almost certainly playing more direct roles than the Western governments are publicly letting on. Nonetheless, it is an example of the kind of long twisted hierarchies of power in modern Imperialism.

The interesting by-product of this complexity is that the West finds itself actually funding groups who share the kind of Islamist ideology that the West declared war against after 9/11. Some of the Syrian rebels, like Al Nusra are openly in allegiance with “Al Qaeda”, as the West itself admits and complains about. But they don’t tell Saudi Arabia or Qatar to stop funding them.

“Al Qaeda” itself is not the most coherent of organisations, but rather many different organisations pursuing different objectives in different parts of the world with different leadership structures. This is how it is possible for some Al Qaeda groups to be working with the West, as in Syria, and some working against the West, as in most places.

The point is, all of this should be enough to show that the West do not really care about fighting Al Qaeda or Islamist militancy per se. They will support or fight against these groups depending on other factors, as to whether or not it seems to suit their short term geopolitical interests.

So what are these interests? Well, the financial system or the western world (by which we mean all it’s quasi colonies in Africa, Latin America, Asia and Australasia as well as simply the imperial heartlands of Europe and North America) is still dominated by the US dollar. The value of the US dollar, and thus the integrity of the whole system, is based on it’s link to energy supplies, especially Oil and Gas. If Oil and Gas are sold in dollars at a good price, then the West is happy. If not, it’s not.

This is why we always hear about war or tense diplomatic relations concerning the West in countries where there are Oil and Gas reserves under the ground: (e.g. Iraq, Iran, Libya, Syria, Mali, DRC, Venezuela), or where Oil or Gas pipelines would have to be built (Afghanistan, Pakistan, Colombia).

For the rest of the Western colonies in the world the explanation is slightly simpler. There’s no point going to all that trouble ensuring the ratio of value between US Dollars to Oil is OK if no workers are being exploited to turn natural resources into commodities for those dollars to be spent on. So the West makes sure that the countries with the raw materials are run by regimes who’ll sell them to the West cheaply, and the countries with the workers will be run by regimes who’ll keep wages down by violently repressing trades-unions and other social movements of the poor.

The companies making money off of the cheap labour power and raw materials, are of course all based in the West and their owners go to the same parties as Western military and political leaders, since they are members of the same social class- the ruling class.

So there you go. It’s not all an Evil conspiracy. It’s just plain, good old-fashioned Imperialist War crimes being covered up behind a smokescreen of democracy for the benefit of capitalists.