Friday, December 10, 2010

Riot, Si Se Puede!

Special to Phoenix Class War Council

"[When] we permit the police, Klan and Nazis to terrorize whatever sector of the population they wish without repaying them back in kind. In short, by not engaging in mass organizing and delivering war to the oppressors, we become anarchists in name only."
-Kuwasi Balagoon

Canisters are hurled into the sky, exploding into smoke as they hit the ground, only to kicked back towards the police. Purple smoke billows into the air, making its way upward, encircling the towering buildings. The sound of shots fills the street, as police fire round after round of pepper balls into the crowd. Your proletarian hero is at it again. I’m in the southwest now, Phoenix to be exact, and I'm standing on what appears to be a completely deserted street in the heart of the desert. Save of course for three groups: the anarchists, the Nazis, and the police. The latter two groups though, seem more of a coalition than two separate entities…One can almost hear the music in the background playing, "Wow-wow-wa-wa-wow...wa-wow-wow," as if I was stepping out onto a street from a dusty old saloon, hand cocked on a pistol. But it's smoke grenades that are rumbling past me - not tumble weeds, dear readers. Still, for the two groups assembled here today, this town is by no means, big enough for the both of us.

Taking a moment out of the riot, I pause to clutch my face, as my eyes and skin burn from a cloud of pepper spray that has made its way right for me. Through my burning eyes however, I notice that people aren't running away. The line is being held. People fall back when the police attack, but only for a bit, just enough to avoid the gas. Then they regroup, aided greatly by medics and friends, cleaning eyes and helping comrades. Together now, they unleash rocks, bottles, and hunks of concrete, which rain down on the police and the group of about 30 Nazis behind their lines who carry American flags and shields with swastikas. I learn later that many within the Nazi’s group had to leave early because of the violence. Several newspaper boxes are quickly appropriated and placed in the middle of the street as a barricade. Together, people beat the boxes, making a primordial rhythm. A banner, one of the ones that the police have not yet taken and destroyed, reads 'WE ARE WAR MACHINES!' The crowd gathers again, some all in black with masks, others wearing only street clothes. They look at the advancing police army surrounding a group of Neo-Nazis and declare, "!No pasaran! They shall not pass!" I stopped to catch my breath as I realized that people have been doing this for close to an hour...

On Saturday, November 13th, several hundred people responded to a call from the Phoenix Class War Council (PCWC, say it again with me, Pee Cee Dub Cee), to face off against 20-40 members and supporters of the National Socialist Movement (NSM), perhaps one of the largest white supremacist and Neo-Nazi groups currently in the United States. The NSM, which does about one public event a month according to the white nationalist website Stormfront, came to town in November of 2009. Like this year, in 2009 hundreds of protesters responded to a similar call as the NSM rallied on the steps of the State Capital. While police forced the NSM to shut down the rally ahead of time due to such a large and rowdy counter-protest, (which included a small amount of rocks thrown), the violence was nothing like what occurred on the 13th.

The scene from the street on Jefferson was one that does not usually play itself out for anarchists in the United States. I almost had to ask myself - was I watching a street battle in Europe or Latin America? No, this was Phoenix, not Athens or Santiago. We were in the almost nearly deserted downtown; surrounded by glass buildings and near empty streets, save for several stragglers, cars, police, and those at the protest. The riot against the NSM is perhaps the largest uprising that anarchists have participated in the city of Phoenix in the last 10 years, and its success brings up several points of discussion as anarchists continue to struggle and intervene in Arizona and around the world. Furthermore, the actions of the police only further help drive the nail in the coffin against the liberal notion of “free speech,” and leave only more sinister questions for the revolutionary movement.

“Who’s Streets? O’odham Land!”

Since the NSM made its way to Phoenix in November of last year, only to be escorted by the police back to their cars before their permit even expired – much has happened. Tensions over speed cameras have continued – as anarchists have pushed for a critique of them from an anti-border and anti-white supremacist perspective. Anarchists in the PCWC have continued to push the fractures and tensions with the Patriot/libertarian/constitutionalist movement, and instead support a pro-proletarian and anti-racist line of attack. In early December, anarchists helped shut down a speaking event of Sheriff Joe Arpaio, seen by many to be the figure head of the pro-law enforcement anti-immigrant assault on immigrant workers in the state. In January of 2010, anarchists in Phoenix helped organize for a revolutionary bloc within the massive march against Sheriff Joe Arpaio.

Arpaio has become a focal point for the immigrant movement, as the Sheriff has made it a point of his administration to use his cops to make sweeps of various towns and deport thousands. But what made the bloc at the anti-Arpaio march different from others was the nature of who it represented. The bloc was called the DO@ bloc, and represented a union of Dine’ (Navajo), O’odham, and anarchists. In the North area of Arizona, Dine’ people claim their indigenous home, and in the area close to Phoenix and Tucson, O’odham people live, on both sides of the US/Mexican border. The indigenous and anarchist organizers of the march made it clear that the purpose of the march was to not only to stand in opposition to Arpaio and the state, but also against the recuperative and bureaucratic organizations that had called the march. As the call for the march read:

“We hope to use this formation on the streets at the January 16th march against deportations in Phoenix to project a vision for a different mode of resistance that breaks with the stilted, uncreative status quo that dominates movement organizing in town. This document is our explanation of the type of force we would like to put out there and why we think it’s necessary.”

The DO@ made a clear connections between the forces that oppress, destroy, and colonize indigenous communities, deport and hinder organizing of Latin American migrants, and attack working class “citizens” throughout the United States. That force is the economic system of capitalism, and the government that exists to make sure that that system stays in place. Again from the call:

“We recognize what appears to be an unending historical condition of forced removal here in the Southwestern so-called US. From the murdering of O'odham Peoples and stealing of their lands for the development of what is now known as the metropolitan Phoenix area, to the ongoing forced relocation of more than 14,000 Diné who have been uprooted for the extraction of natural resources just hours north of here, we recognize that this is not a condition that we must accept, it is a system that will continue to attack us unless we act. Whether we are migrants deported for seeking to organize our own lives (first forced to migrate to a hostile country for work) or working class families foreclosed from our houses, we see the same forces at work. Indeed, in many cases the agents of these injustices are one and the same.”

Flashback: the front of the D.O.A. contingent at the January 16 anti-Arpaio march

The DO@ bloc was historic. It represented a revolutionary coming together of forces from both the anarchist movement and indigenous struggles (not to mention those that do not see a distinction between the two currents). It was anti-capitalist, anti-colonial, and anti-statist. It was also clearly against the Leftist and mainstream protest organizations that wanted to work with the system – it instead pushed for direct action. Lastly, it also was strongly in favor of working class resistance to capitalism, linking the struggles of working and poor people with migrants and the indigenous, not separating them, while at the same time, attacking white supremacy as a cross-class relationship that hinders the liberation of all peoples.

In mid-January however, at the end of the massive Arpaio march in which the DO@ bloc participated, the police moved in, attacking, punching, and arresting several people. The attack was un-provoked – with police clearly singling out the DO@ bloc for attack. Five people were attested, and ticketed with trumped up charges of assaulting an officer and rioting. As this article is finished, one young woman enters into jail for 30 days, while others still have charges pending or are facing various fines.

The police made one thing very clear: they were not interested in protecting the “free-speech” of those that were part of the DO@ bloc, which was part of a legal, permitted march. Their very presence was enough for the police to react with violence. The coming together of working class whites, anarchists, migrants, Chican@s, and Native peoples represented too dangerous a force to be allowed to publicly march. Proving to be the all too “loyal” opposition, Puente, a mainstream immigrant organization (the organizers of the march), denounced the DO@ bloc, supporting the police line that the marchers brought the violence on themselves by attacking the police first. Anyone who watches footage from the march can easily see that the police acted first against the marchers, and used the opportunity to make arrests, leaving various militants with hefty jail times and fines. The Puente leadership, which coddles up to the mayor and other city elites, has nothing in common with those in the DO@ bloc, so it’s clear why the lines are drawn between the revolutionary segments and the reformists.

It is also is not surprising that Puente did not make a public call to support resistance to the NSM – a call which could have brought possibly hundreds of supporters out to the event. Knowing that supporting such an event would lead their followers into a situation that they couldn’t control was too much for Puente. Groups like Puente see the management of these events and movements as an opportunity to gain supporters and thus power. We, however, are interested in getting organized against capital. Thus, many people I talked with after the anti-NSM riot were ecstatic about the possibility of many people within Phoenix waking up to the possibilities of action outside of legal, permitted, and tightly controlled protest. The anti-NSM riot showed that there was a new power on the street – one uncontrolled by any bureaucratic non-profit, forging a history and confidence on the street and between comrades in struggle.

As we continue, it is important for the rest of this essay to keep the attack on the DO@ bloc very much in mind as we talk about the resistance to the NSM in November of 2010, because as we will see, the police are willing to beat, arrest, and attack one group while protecting and in some cases, working with, another.

This is How We Do It
“And I can see through the walls now, we need to go to City Hall and try to tear the walls down!” -Willy Northpole

On November 13th, about 40-50 (a size that became smaller) Nazis with the National Socialist Movement were confronted in the streets of Downtown Phoenix by about 200-300 counter protesters. The group was made up a variety of groups, but the largest was made up of anarchists, Native warriors, and small groupings of Leftists, pro-migrant peoples, and religious organizations such as the Unitarians.

The day started with people gathering in front of the federal building, where the Nazis were planning to rally later in the day. A banner was dropped shortly after people began gathering around noon, and at about two, the Nazis were sniffed out by a roving black bloc, as they were marching from their parked cars (which was the same site as last year) to the Federal building.

The larger group waiting outside of the Federal building then started to run around the corner and down the street towards where the NSM was marching in formation with police out in front for protection. A standoff then began between the anarchist led group and the NSM protected by the police from about 2pm to about 2:40. The street was held and as expected, both groups chanted and traded insults. The fascists almost sadly jokingly begged the police to, “Move those Jews out of the way!” A friend that was positioned behind the Nazis videotaping got to here more back and forth interactions between the police and the Nazis, as the NSM became more and more angry that the police were unwilling or unable to move their march forward and get the group towards the capital. As 3pm quickly approached, more and more people within the crowd thought that as soon as the clock struck 3, the police would call off the rally and lead the Nazis back to their cars, being that their permit expired at that time.

The black bloc went into action around this time however, getting into a formation which allowed reinforced banners to hide the group and allow the militants the ability to launch projectiles. After several rounds of attacks launched on the fascists, the police sent in a snatch squad, and one section of the black bloc moved away from the front of the line in order to avoid arrests. However, after that section of the black bloc fell back, the snatch quad simply withdrew into the larger crowd of the police. It was around this time that the police decided to unleash the dogs of war, spraying the front of the crowd with pepper gas. At this time I had my back turned, and was trying to give a young hooligan my pink and black bandanna, when the gas entered the air and everyone started to run.

Far from being skeered, the crowd instinctively looked for the nearest projectiles and quickly returned fire. Medics and those in the crowd not throwing rocks and whatever else was humanly possible, helped those with burning eyes and skin tend to their wounds. The crowd quickly re-massed and again held the line. What then began was a running street battle between the police and the anarchists that lasted to 45 minutes, until the Nazis were finally delivered to the Federal building, which was located down the street. Anarchists during the skirmish acted with the utmost bravery, un-arresting people, taking blast after blast of pepper spray, and not being afraid to physically combat their enemies.

When the Nazis finally made it into the Federal building courtyard, they only stayed for about 45 minutes, as their tired and boring speeches were drowned out by the counter protesters who came to taunt them. Even NSM write ups of the event point out that NSM supporters were not able to hear the speeches or participate in the rally. Afterwards, the NSM members were taken back to their cars by the police. Cops then arrested two protest participants as they were leaving the event. Support work is being done as we speak to help the two young people who were arrested by the police, and charged with a variety of felonies.

According to many organizers that I spoke with, the riot that occurred in Phoenix broke out of the bounds of what normally occurs at anarchist street actions in several ways. Firstly, the anarchists were in a leading role, not simply coming to another event and hoping for the best. They organized good and hard for this outcome, and their organization paid off. Revolutionaries who came to shut down the NSM had clear goals and clear ideas about how to achieve these goals. This allowed others to plug into these actions and see how their energies could be best placed. In a movement wracked by apathy towards getting anything accomplished, it was refreshing to be around others who took their ideas and actions seriously enough to put a fair amount of time and energy into them.

Through the various affinity groups within the cities coming together and plugging in where they could, they helped to create the conditions that aided the larger organic uprising against the police and the NSM. These affinities and level of organization has also not come out of this air, but years of hard and ongoing organizing and various state wide meetings between various groups, collections, and organizations. Furthermore, people simply were not afraid of the police. Instead of running when police brought out the pepper spray, or when the advanced, they simply stepped back, and then again held their ground, all the while using the opportunity to attack with projectiles. As one friend said after being spray, “Your eyes hurt for a minute, but then you realize you’re still alive, and then you’re back in it.” This self-valorization – the process in which we discover new ways of life, relation, and become powerful through struggle - was all part of the spark which drove those fighting on the 13th. Through the pepper spray and hurled stones – you could make out laughter and see smiles, even through the masks.

Take the Knife Off the AK, Cut These…

“You better have you’re gats in hand, cause man…” -Biggie

It has to be said. People were packing, again. It was a thrill to see people in the streets running with us while packing on the side. Also, being in Arizona, who knows how many other people were also carrying concealed, which is legal without a permit. Like last time though, we can assume that the other side was doing the same thing. While a shoot out between the two groups would have been bloody, we should keep in mind that opponents to fascism are still armed and willing to openly show it.

The Lie of Free Speech, and Necessity of Direct Action

“There is free speech only for the rich.” – George Lincoln Rockwell, American Nazi Party

During the entire event, police acted and coordinated with those within the march. They were seen using hand signs towards the rest of those marching behind them, giving a clenched fist when they need the group to stop. At one point, police even moved to the right side of the street, allowing the NSM ‘stormtroopers’ to move to the left side of the street. Perhaps this was done in an attempt to move the anarchists out of the way, or simply bait them into attacking the Nazis, which was attempted, so they could then be gassed by the police.

Police also allowed J.T. Ready, a former Republican precinct committeeman and on and off again NSM member, to walk into the crowd to engage with protestors. At one point when the crowd began to hurl spit, insults, and projectiles at J.T. Ready, a large African-American man came up and protected him as he walked back into the Federal building area. He stated, “You have every right to be here.” This is interesting yet sad, considering Ready thinks that he has every right to deport this man ‘back to Africa.’ This man was later heard saying, “If they kids had better education in school, they would know that non-violence works…”

The thoughts and actions of this man represent the poverty of thought behind the “Free Speech” position. Though we’ve all heard it before, the idea of free speech is based upon the concept that the government of the United States allows us all the freedom to say what we want; to express ourselves politically in the peaceful way as long as we do not break the law. Thus, any attempt at limiting the free speech of others is an assault on the free speech of all of us, so the line goes. Furthermore, we should not attack those who which to do us harm, because the government exists to stop any sort of extremists that are attempting to illegally harm citizens of this country. Meaning, even if we don’t like them, Uncle Sam has our back and will take care of them.

The problem with this line of thinking is that the state and its police are not neutral. The state for example, has organized itself numerous times to attack social movements aimed at transforming and liberating society. The government attacking groups such as the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) and the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense are good examples. Furthermore, the entire COINTELPRO organization, during the 1960’s -70’s, was designed to stop and hinder social movements for liberation in the United States (and even some on the right). Through a campaign of disinformation, murder, and terrorism, the US broke apart, assassinated, and destroyed various organizations and people for the sake of keeping the status quo.

One need only take a trip to Berkeley, and visit the site where logging industry goons, instructed by the FBI, set off a bomb under the car of Judi Bari and Darryl Cherney, two Earth First! activists involved in protecting wilderness and unionizing loggers in the 1990’s – to see just how committed to “free speech” this government is. In this country, if you challenge capitalism in a meaningful way, you will face repression. This is why the state tries to steer us into legal avenues. Want to protest? Sure, get a permit and make sure the police are there to keep you on the sidewalk. Want to strike? Sure, make sure you go to the union bosses with your problems, they’ll work it out with management. Want to make the world a better place? Sure, get a job with a non-profit, which gets state money to do the work that the state used to do. To the state, you are only free to speak as long as you’re reading from their script.

And, we do not need a government to allow us to say what we want, and organize in public. As the Eugene based anarcho-punk band Axiom growled, dude, that’s a “natural power, not a right.” As we have seen, the government will stop us, with violence when they need to, when our movements become a threat to the established order. Lastly, we can’t rely on the government to protect us from right-wing racists who may simply talk about deporting mass amounts of people and imprisoning many more, when that is exactly what this government is clearly doing, especially in Arizona. The state is not here to protect us at all, and so, the state is not concerned with ‘free speech’ at all. States everywhere are designed to make sure that society does not tear it apart based upon class tensions; between those that own and control the means of existence and those that do the work in this society. It is thus concerned with keeping the social peace, and so sees revolutionary groups very much a threat.

Sure you’re angry! You have a right to be. So, write a letter, hold a sign, even read a socialist newspaper if you want! Just don’t go on wildcat strike, firebomb the police state, or loot a grocery store, or try and stop a Nazi march! We can say things in this society, but it’s important that it stays there. That is why the state is willing to attack anarchists within the immigration march in early 2010 while defending the Nazis in November. Police wanted to send the message that a demonstration legally sanctioned by the state (the NSM rally) was going to be protected with the full power of that state. And all those who were willing to do exactly what Hitler claimed was the only way to stop the rise of fascism, or “fighting them in the streets” – were going to be put down with massive force. The same way it wanted to send a message during the legal march against Arpaio by attacking the anarchists. Its message was to the immigration movement and was as clear as crystal. That message was this: get with the revolutionaries, and you will be arrested and attacked with the power that Unkie Sam can muster. Anyone who supports the idea and line of “free speech” supports the government’s platform. But we anarchists are not here to play by the state’s rules – we are here to destroy the capitalist government.

We must also keep in mind that regardless of whether the Nazis ever get close to power, the state already violently carries out the mass deportations and incarceration of huge segments of our population, often against communities that have been exploited by capital through colonialism and the racialization of the working class. To allow those that would use their actions to usher in yet another form of totalitarian government while we sit by, while another totalitarian government protects them, is sick and sad. People can say whatever they want, but when they call for genocide, violent deportations, fascism, and race war, they can only be met in the streets with force. The mouths that scream “free speech” one minute only to cry “race war” the next can only be argued with bricks, fists, and whatever means necessary. We will not allow the ideology of the bourgeois state to dictate our actions; we organize on our own terms.

Give Up (Aryan) Activism

When I returned from Phoenix, I began reading a lot about fascism, the Holocaust, and one of the ‘pioneers’ of Neo-Nazism in the United States, George Lincoln Rockwell, leader of the American Nazi Party (ANP). Rockwell is important, because after his assassination in the late 1960’s, former party members would go onto form organizations that would lead to the formation of the National Socialist Movement. Politically, the ANP, and thus the NSM who followed its lead, pursued an activist and electoral mode of organizing. If they were Leftists, they’d be as hard as racist ACLU members, or something. Anyway, for the ANP and the NSM, this means constantly being in the public eye, getting as much media as possible, and being on the streets whenever they can. The more they fly the flag, the more people will come rally to them. They contend that it’s only a matter of time before things get so bad that white people will wake up and realize that the NSM is the only game in town not taking it for the Jews.

Rockwell had standard politics for a ‘National Socialist’ at the time, although he stressed he was not a ‘fascist,’ because he supported free enterprise. More racist lemonade stands, and less racist state owned factories, yay! Rockwell never led an organization of more than 200 active ‘stormtroopers,’ or men that lived in ANP barracks and outfits, although the ANPs influence through supporters and literature reached out far beyond its membership base. What is interesting about the ANP though, unlike the KKK, is the importance that placed on staying inside the law. Rockwell envisioned that he could gain power by being in the public eye, making them aware of his program, and then during a time of economic downturn become more and more popular until he could run for President.

The ANP used the civil rights movement as a ‘point of intervention,’ hoping to gain support among those that opposed desegregation, Leftists, and supported the war in Vietnam. Strangely enough, Rockwell also saw the fact that they were called ‘Nazis’ and publicly displayed the swastika and gave the Hitler salute as a plus for the organization. Without the word “Nazi,” Rockwell commented, the news would not cover the ANP. With few members, police harassment, the threats of violence at all times, and low funds, ANP actions never went beyond simple rallying, passing out flyers, and giving speeches, and failed to awaken many “whites” to an Aryan consciousness. However, such organizing on the part of Rockwell did turn many onto Neo-Nazi politics, and helped to usher in a new generation of racists that today comprises groups like the NSM. While the ANP failed to take power, it did succeed in at least creating the next generation of foot soldiers.

Seeing Rockwell’s ANP as their political forbearers, the NSM holds onto their activist, electoral strategy in order to gain entry into the higher halls of power in the United States, hoping to totally transform it into a fascist empire. Like the ANP, the NSM is using the politics of the day to make a name for itself. In the 1960’s it was Civil Rights, and today it is border issues and the fight over immigration. The NSM is thus hoping to use anti-immigrant sentiment to its advantage and pull more mainstream Americans into its ranks. Like the ANP, it uses the Nazi imagery of the part to gain media publicity, although it helps to soften its image by constantly referring to itself as a “law abiding, white civil rights organization.”

Being legal is important for these groups. Rockwell, for all the venom he aimed at the “Jewish” US government, worked closely with the FBI, giving them information on each and every stormtrooper, letting police know where they would be traveling and where they would protest, and much more. When ANP members left the organization he alerted the FBI, that way, if the ex-ANP members committed any acts of violence, they could not be traced back to Rockwell. This is funny, because the ANP was ripe with infiltrators, as we can be sure the NSM is as well. Some on Stormfront even accuse J.T. Ready of being a fed! Perhaps he was caught stuffing his chipmunk cheeks at Taco Bell…? Anyway, in an interesting note about the ANP, COINTELPRO was even involved in disrupting the organization (and causing infighting with the Klan) and playing off various members of the ANP against each other. Rockwell could wave the flag at the FBI all he liked, they still didn’t like him; but they saved their real guns for the Fred Hamptons of the world.

Despite this, following the state’s rules does bring protection, and allows you to be a Nazi out in the open while the police beat back your detractors. This is a formula that the NSM has followed everywhere it goes. It arrives with swastika flags, counter-protestors attempt to attack, and the cameras go click. And thus, the NSM is quite at a crossroads. It needs the Nazi imagery just to get attention, but it also needs to appeal to main street whites to try and get numbers – which the whole Nazi thing kind of kills. At the same time, while riots against it, whether in Toledo in 2005, or Phoenix in 2010, give it publicity, it also makes the NSM seem weak and under attack.

In many ways, groups like the NSM are a dead horse. Passed over by an era of facebook event invites and grassroots organizing – there seems to be little place for them and their tired and boring brand of simple flag flying and Nazi speechifying. Even when the NSM tried to make entries into the Tea Party they have gotten the cold shoulder. J.T. Ready was welcomed with open arms before he was outed as a Nazi, but when he and some of his racistas showed up to a teabagger shindig with a Hitler portrait, they violently got the boot. But, we should keep in mind that the threat of these groups lies not just in their existence, but in the idea that they will help to raise the next generation of Hitlerites. When are these guys going to get tired of waving the same flag and hearing Jeff give the same speech in his new coke dealer suit before they start getting other ideas? We can deal with the activist NSM, but one that is focused on direct action would be much, much scarier.

For now though, weak and under attack is exactly what the NSM is. Like the ANP before them, without massive police protection the NSM would be beaten down and broken apart at most of the rallies that they help organize. Like the ANP and much of the white power movement, the NSM is often derailed by in fighting between members and splits within the party. As anarchists and other radicals continue to physically confront the NSM, we are making it harder for these groups to organize and meet new people. We are also making it less attractive to join the organization due to the possible violence one might face. While media attention is drawn to the NSM when we physically confronting them, attention also goes to us, and we appear as the only ones willing to stand up and physically fight the Nazis, who are themselves seen as the extreme extension of what the state already is.

So while more people may know about the NSM, more people at the same time know that anarchists kick the shit out of them and have more numbers. We are also seen in the context of popular rebellions against not only the Nazis, but also the state and its police. Furthermore, we must also be wary of whatever the media tries to paint us as, and focus more on what the street has to say. In the aftermath of the riots in Phoenix, many people felt energized and ready for the battles to come – hoping that riot would provide a springboard for more radical actions. Moreover, these actions give credit to the idea that people can self-organize and act outside of the activist groups that seek to manage and control popular protest.

Anarchists however, should be keen to keep in mind several things. They should look at the communities that the NSM and other neo-Nazi groups reach out to: mainly working class and lumpen white communities. We need to be engaging with these communities, expressing that our enemies are not other poor and working people led by a mythical Jewish order, but the ruling class. Likewise, we need to keep in mind that these Nazis are simply reacting and feeding off of what the state is already doing. If we are not also struggling against attacks organized by the government on indigenous communities, the border, deportation of migrants, etc, then we will not be fighting the conditions that give rise to many of these ‘extremists.’ The NSM doesn’t operate detention camps and do sweeps breaking apart families, filling the jails – the state does.

By the Time I Get to Arizona

“Government? Fuck Government, niggas politic they selves…” -Jay Z, Where I’m From

People on the west coast often ask me why I’m excited about Arizona. For one, I’m excited about a place where anarchists actually support each other and play a part in each other’s struggles. Living in a place where anarchists from the two other cities less than two hours away hardly ever come to my town, it is hard to believe the degree in which solidarity does exist. Arizona is inspiring to me, because the bonds that people have made there over the years are staying and growing more powerful.

People on the 13th could have been terrified. “Why should we go out into the streets to confront the NSM?,” they could have asked. The police were willing to attack them during permitted marches. What were they going to do at an unpermitted action? But people didn’t give a fuck. They came out with or without charges from the months before. Some might have held back, but people were not going to be scared of taking to the streets. And they weren’t. Anarchists in Arizona took their vengeance for the Arpaio march; the price was the blood of the fascists and the police who clutched their faces as rocks rained down on them while we cried pepper spray tears of joy.

We should keep in mind that these affinities and relationships that exist in Arizona between anarchists have not come out of nowhere. Anarchists have been holding state-wide meetings to talk about how they are going to respond to what is happening for a while now. In large street actions, they have found each other and tested their abilities. Groups such as the Phoenix Class War Council have also managed to develop a dare I say, oh so American anarchist theory that speaks to the current situation without looting too much from Europe or anywhere else. It is against white supremacy without the pitfalls of identity politics. It is insurrectionary without being idiotic or grad-studentish, (oh, I said that shit). It is class war without asking anyone to become a SEIU organizer. In short, advances have been made in both the world of theory and the world of praxis, all while not separating the two from each other.

Meanwhile, indigenous militants in groups such as the O’Odham Solidarity Across Borders collective and fighters from Flagstaff have also created, maintained, and built a revolutionary indigenous politics that has informed and grown within and alongside Arizonan anarchism. Lastly, the connections being made between all sections of the exploited and oppressed, from workers to indigenous – is inspiring. People are working together against common enemies and towards common visions; re-compositing themselves together despite the divisions that capital places between us. That in itself is inspiring.

So when they ask me why I’m excited about Arizona, I tell ‘em this.

It is the place where the sons of immigrants and the daughters of Natives and the children of settlers don masks and fight together. Where they chant: “Riot! Si se puede!” And indeed, it has been done. And in that moment, we can feel the common humanity that unites us all and reminds us, that together, we are fighting.

For freedom.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Dull Pencils

Academia is disgusting. Yet so many of you keep flirting with it; seduced by the daughters and sons of the rich that speak in a language that most cannot understand. It's not just the dress of hipsters that you want to ape now, but the way in which that which is obscure and hard to comprehend suddenly becomes cool. The Agamben zine or the Baudrillard quote becomes so cool, because who the fuck knows what they are saying, or if what they are saying has any relevance to anything in our lives. It's great suddenly our ideas come in an American Apparel package, but when anyone actually stops to hear what we have to say, we might as well be giving someone a copy of a Amebix or Nausea record, smiling as we say, "This is anarchy." We have about the same chance. What is important to so many of the insurrectionaries now, is that their ideas (or the ideas that they think they enjoy) are difficult, unpopular, academic, hard to grasp, and therefore cool. Our theory has become that band that only 5 people like, but it is so sick because only 5 people like it. Pathetic. What gives theory power is that it is an idea that lots of people can understand and then be moved to act. If theory cannot be made to be understandable, then what good is it?

It's funny, because so many were so ready to throw themselves at the machine and occupy the universities in order to subvert it's role in the reproduction of class society, yet those same radicals take as gospel the works of so many professors and academics. We are backwards. We have problems talking to people, yet pride ourselves in writing and reading shit few people can understand. We defend this position by stating that we are seeking to 'understand capital,' yet all we are doing is consuming the works of academics; consuming their 'philosophy.' This has been done for hundreds of years. We are not closer to anything, and find new reasons not to act, yet more to read and think about. We are too poor to attend the schools of the professors that we read yet want to be them so badly. This class envy. Pathetic.

Never Trust an Academic

If you remember, we tried to tell you that a term paper was not creation, it was work. Alienated labor animated for the sake of capital. Yet, so many accept the works of academics at face value. Academics must write, they must produce. They have to denounce and create new theories. They have to give lectures, write books, publish papers. Anything ever written by one must have that in mind. They created this with the hope of making money and getting it done under deadlines. They wrote this hoping to cut corners and get in finished in order to go home and see their families or get fucked up. Take it with a grain of salt.

If one ever chooses to go to a strip club, I would hope that if the person you are watching dance smiles seducively at you, you will never believe that they are trying to flirt with you. Yet, we accept so much of the works of academics as neutral. When an academic sits down to write, they are not writing to put weapons in the hands of the working class. They seek to further the reproduction of whatever field of study they are in. So much of what we hate about identity politics comes out of this. The breaking apart of class society instead of looking at the totality. The looking down at the working class instead of theory and praxis coming out of it's day to day struggles, desires, and experiences. As the fire and resistance we have created has been beaten, killed, and recuperated out of us, these middle class devils have attempted to speak for us instead. Does it really matter if it is empire, the spectacle, capital, the desert, totally-being whoever gives a fuck? If academia has given us a new way of looking at the world, it hasn't given us any sort of tools that would help us do anything to change it.

And, now you can't speak without making reference to things which mean nothing to anyone but your five friends who happen to be friends with those other five people. You left of scene of bikes and bad food, only to find a clique of big words and earth tones. Have you forgotten it was always not the style that was important but the substance? That intentions were what mattered. And that if you didn't have a good reason for acting in your class interests, you probably had no hope of telling others that they should do the same.

Put Down the Book and Learn to Speak

I went to a noise demo recently outside of a prison. Later, I went to a building that homeless people were sleeping outside of because the city was arresting them on the street for sleeping outside and being homeless. I walked up with a fiend and a young person said, "At last the anarchists have come!" Alas, we replied, we were not from there, and we lived hours away. We were only visiting. Our theory is as impotent as our action. We love to act and pat ourselves on the back for acting, but the importance of action is only that it creates new relationships and betters our material conditions. No one gives a fuck if we act, only if it is effective and changes things.

And so, we march on a prison and make noise outside of it, passing out flyers to working class people telling them how fucked up it is that homeless people are getting arrested. Then, a block away, homeless people get arrested and no anarchists are even there to share a bagel. It is the same logic that allows us to put so much effort into publishing and printing texts and theory that have no chance of reaching out to anyone other than a small clique. In fact, their exclusiveness ensures that that clique is maintained and made stronger. That as some drop out of that clique, the exact same amount will fill their roles. Once we proclaimed that we were leaving the subculture, now we revel in it once again, but with all new window dressings.

Have we forgotten the idea that what is truly subversive is the coming together of those that feel the exploitation and alienation of class society? Those that link up based upon shared material conditions and a desire for emancipation? That one of our roles is the breaking down the divisions that exist between our class and the destruction of those that seek to divert our struggle into politics? Have we?

The academics that so many have a massive hard-on for now have sought to talk in a language that they understand: that of the academia. We smile when we learn that they then decided to move to some small ass town and buy a grocery store; as if this is something strange for middle class people to do. But, we aren't in France. And most of us don't go to nice schools. Most of us aren't going to move to some small towns, nor are we going to be able to buy a grocery store. No, most of us have jobs, pay rent, and will do so for a long time. Our roles as anarchists now is the same as it always have been, to BE proletarians. To act on our class interests and link up with others who can and do feel the same.

Nothing in anarchism has changed in the last two years. But if you are frustrated as I am, and don't want to be working class anymore, then we can begin to leave the world of academia behind. We can begin to develop our own theories. We can seek to reach out to people who are not "political."

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

A 26th Summer

I worked hard in the spring, trying to save my money. When the summer hit, I was out of work. I had a little over a grand saved, but I knew that I would use most of it throughout the summer paying for rent, utilities, and gas. I had plans on getting on food stamps and unemployment, as well as paying off and taking care of an infraction charge from Alameda County of $174, or 17 hours of community service. During the early part of the summer, right when work had ended, I took a trip up to Point Reyes. There's this abandoned boat that's beached up on the shore that I like to walk around on. While up there, I noticed that there was lots of graffiti and stencils now up on the boat. Not to be out done, I left my own mark, and when finished turned around to leave the boat. I fell straight down into the hole, as my foot slipped through an opening. My hand reached out and I grabbed a bunk to my left. My left index finger broke, although I didn't know it at the time. The doctor I finally saw told me that it was the worst break that he had ever seen, as the bone in my knuckle that was broken when it healed, would attach itself to the other bones, making it impossible for me to move my finger more than 25 degrees.

Thus began a long oddessy in my summer, the search for health care. I had not gone to the doctor in over 10 years, never broken a bone, nothing. My SEIU won health care via my parents was up, now that I was 26, and I now had a plan that included a $4,000 depuctable. This simply meant that if I was to go the hospital for treatment, I would have to pay the first four grand of any operation, visit, or surgery. The cry of "health care for all" that Obama had rode in on, of course now has been dilluted and destroyed, buried under so much government red tape, that no poor or working person now has any hope of seeing their health care paid for by the state anytime soon. So, since my finger couldn't be fixed by "hope" and "change," instead I had to find another way of getting a doctor to look at it. I first check around at the local clinics. Just to see a doctor would cost me between $120 and $160. That's just to get in the door. I soon learned that what I needed was a complicated process. I needed first for a doctor to look at my finger and tell me if it was broken or not. Then, I need to get x-rays, which I could could only get with a doctor's note. Then, I had to find a doctor to look at the x-rays and tell me if I needed surgery, and finally, I had to get that surgery.

I lucked out one day while driving a friend in Stockton, as I found a small clinic with a nice enough doctor inside. She looked at my finger in the lobby and told me that it was probably broken. She also gave me a note for an x-ray, saving me of paying a bill for a simple clinic doctor's visit. I then manage to find a cheap x-ray place that would take the x-ray's for only $40 in Stockton. It had now been almost two weeks of me having a broken finger until I got to this point. During this whole time, I was also running around, dealing with getting on food stamps and unemployment. Food stamps was easy enough, however unemployment proved to be quite difficult. After my telephone interview, the unemployment department denied my claim, stating that I was on a "recess" as a substitute teacher, and thus was not able to receive benefits. Through a friend however, I learned that I knew someone who could help me legally. Thus, I went down to CRLA, or County Rural Legal Assistance, a non-profit that helps low-income people in legal trouble. They do a lot of cases dealing with evictions, benefits, or police brutality. My lawyer then helped me write out an appeal and I sent it in.

As I was dealing with this, my parents decided to bite the bullet, and pay for me just to see a doctor that they had had with my x-rays. The doctor walked in, looked at my x-rays and simply, "you need surgery." My father explained that this was all part of their game, which in the end was all about money. Don't trust them he told me, "fuck him, he drives a Porche." Just as quickly as he had come in, the doctor left. Almost a month had passed since breaking my finger at this point. Finally, after a week of waiting for the surgery doctor to see me, I finally got a call from another office and went into see the doctor who informed me that my finger would never be the same again. I would never get a full range of motion back from my finger. He encouraged me to get surgery though, because there was a chance that I could get some range of motion back from an operation. Several more weeks went by, as the hospital waited for any more to come in for the deductable, which had to be paid for by my mother's parents, as my own didn't think it was worth it (and it wouldn't be), and I had no way of paying that much. They had their own money problems to worry about; as state workers, the govenor was threatening to take their pay down to minimum wage in order to balance the budget.

I got my surgery finally. After a week, the cast pissed me off to the point where decided to take it off. Looking at the stich job on my finger, I almost vomited. It looked like a miniature shark bite. I also noticed that the stitching job left much to be desired, as the middle part of the finger had a portion of open exposed flesh that the stiching had not kept locked inside the skin. As I waited for my finger to heal, I found myself back in court. I was facing a misdeamor charge of vandalization of a public building steeming from a January 2010 incident, where I was detained for several other people after been caught wheatpasting anti-budget cut posters. Thus, I along with two others out of a group of 7 people to be caught up that night, became a target in the university's struggle against student organizers that were part of a growing swell against cuts to education and rising costs.

Coming back from the court house that day, I stopped and talked with a homeless friend of mine about squatting and went to the unemployment department to make sure of where to mail my unemployment appeal. On my way back, I got a call from a friend of mine, saying that she was coming by with her sister and her kids. She had dated a good friend of mine several years back, but had recently come back around to hang out because her piece of shit ex-boyfriend.

I remember dumbly wondering to myself as I walked to my house if my friends sister was going to be attractive. I looked nice in my court clothes, but being a 250 pound dude walking around in rolled up sleeves in over 100 degree weather generally makes me sweat so hard that I get shapes of purseperation in the back of my shirt that look like the Wu-Tang symbol. My friend held the gate to my house open and the first thing that I noticed about her was her eyes, and how intense they were. She looked me in the eyes the entire time that I walked up to my house and smiled at me. I kept looking at her throughout the entire hour that she and her sister were at my house with her sister's three children. Her hair was done back, and she had a very athletic body. I hardly spoke to her that day, but was extreamly attracted to her. She didn't seem weird out at all by the fact that I was in court, which I liked. I made a lunch of grilled cheese sandwhiches for everyone; laying them out like a white trash Martha Stewart, as I supplied drinks and watered the swamp cooler. They left my house, and I said good bye, already trying to come up with senarios in my head in which I could see her again.

Luckily, we were throwing a benefit dinner at my house for a friend who would use the money to get on a work release program and avoid jail time for vandalism charges. I figured if I could compose myself well enough, I could invite her to my house again to hang out. But, before I could text my friend and get her sis's number, she texted me on my way home with my roommate. Feeling quite the cassanova, I texted back and forth with her, something that I rarely since it annoys the shit out of me. She asked me to join her and her sis for coffee the day of the dinner, made akward by me, because a person I had dated was working at the cafe, but luckily we took our drinks outside and soon we were enjoying things. We left the cafe and went to my house, where we made breakfast with my roommate, who as always, made quite the impressive dishes. Then, we took a drive to Antioch to pick my friend who needed to work on his car which he had left at my house. I enjoyed the car ride because her and I talked about a lot of things. She talked a lot about her ex-husband, her ex-boyfriend, her kids, and the things that interested her. Pool, horses, music, her friends.

She and I spend the next week and a half together, To me, it seemed that what she wanted most of all, was to find her own way, independent of any man. She loved her children. They were beautiful, and loved her back. Kissing her often and hugging her with much affection. When I first met them, I went to Wal-Greens after buying corn dogs and watermelons at Grocery Outlet, and bought them a $30 kids pool. The signs dotted across our street that we had put up for a neighbor down the street that read "Slow Down! Kids at Play!" took on new meaning, as the combined five kids enjoyed themselves in the pool.

The next morning, I went into the hospital tired, but thinking back fondly of the intimacies and kept that happiness with me as the doctors put me under. I woke up with a cast and then quickly got the fuck out of the hospital. She was over at my house often in the coming days. She loved my eyes. She didn't judge me for doing what I had to do. She was great at pool. She was one of those people who grew up in poverty and was stronger for it. I always wanted to tell her that I loved her, but at first I was afraid that it was too soon. One night she asked me if would ever fall in love with her. I wanted to tell her that I already had, but I told her instead, "of course." She asked me why, and I replied because she was artistic. Because she was a strong person. She loved her children and they loved her back. She was beautiful. But most of all, because so much bad had happened to her, and in the end, she was still excited and happy about life, and was an incredibly good person. That last night together was amazing; and she painted a huge painting in the garage that is still there.

I was out of town when her sister called me. She said that she couldn't even say the words; but I knew she was dead. People wonder if they will find the guy that hit her in his truck and drove off, but it won't bring her back. They say that she placed herself in front of her neice who was jogging with her, in order to keep her from getting hit.

They told me that while I was gone, the police came by from a noise complaint. "We're sorry. We know that you're grieving," they said. Perhaps a shimmering of humanity through the physiological warfare? As if to say, "We're sorry about today, but tomorrow the war goes on." It does, and so will I. After my 26th summer.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Some Shimmering of Humanity

A homeless woman grabs my arm, either an attempt to be nice, or to keep from falling over with bottle in hand, as she walks with me towards the post office, and I tell her over and over, that the bus station is up on the right.

The man at the post office tells me that they are laying people off and cutting hours when I ask him what's up with the future of the building. He looks at me and says, "I like to see a supervisor come in here and do this..." We both laugh.

The man who interrupts me listening to music, walks with me to the library. He goes on to tell me that he has just gotten out of jail. I tell him that I had court today.

Someone at work asks me if I want to eat with the other workers in the break room. I appreciate the gesture, but I opt to stay in the room and use the internet.

A friend I have not seen in a while is at the grocery store, working. I tell him I am on my lunch break. I ask him if there are any ripe mangos. He says only the organic ones. I tell him that I don't want to pay $4, he simply takes the organic sticker off. "Good looking out..."

The streets become more familiar. The people at the liquor store, the barber shop, and the gas station by my house, more familiar. The walls become more covered in stickers, posters, and graffiti. Flyers are in the windows, and our magazines are in the stores. More and more, this place is ours.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Why I Support the Santa Cruz Rioters

Walking along Pacific Ave in Santa Cruz, one might choose to go inside the large health food store located next to Borders. The food is overpriced, the staff becomes angry if you pop an olive into your mouth from the salad bar, and the beer selection doesn't include the cheap stuff. If you're bored while waiting to spend $8.67 for a juice and a muffin, feel free to read the latest issue of Pagan Vegan Gardening, or whatever they have in stock. Glancing up however, one comes to see something much more sinister than a lack of Keystone, a mural. Not just any mural, but one that really angers me. It shows white people farming, and then loading the produce onto a truck. The field ends next to the ocean, and a road begins, which leads into Santa Cruz, where a sign for the health food store beacons. If you want a picture of what Santa Cruz is, or what it wants to be, you need only look at that mural. And, if you're too stupid to not realize how ridiculous that image, and the message that it produces really is, then perhaps you need to refresh your browser and check how that time share is doing.

Santa Cruz exists like a colony. The county itself is almost 80% white, with large sections belonging to the upper middle class. The importance of tourism, technology industries, and also the university create a neo-colonial relationship with the nearby UCSC campus. Here, working class Latino labor is pulled in from Watsonville and exploited for just above minimum wage. Rent in Santa Cruz is out of control. It takes years to get on section 8. Without packing swarms of people into a small house, a person with a mediocre job or non-connected parents will not fare well here. The politics of the local area are interesting as well. Here, the city council passes resolutions against the Iraq War and the PATRIOT Act, "Marxists" and members of the ACLU sit on the city council, yet still they find it necessary to fill the streets with surveillance cameras and push out the homeless from the downtown. In fact, the Mayor even wants to hire 8 new cops in the wake of the riot, even though city workers face cuts and there is no money to pay for them. An 18 year ban on ICE has also been lifted recently, allowing La Migra to once again come in and break up families and deport working class people, in "Operation Community Shield." The coastal forest, which also draws so many people to the area, is also routinely threatened by the UCSC system itself. Recently, the school has announced a long range development plan to clear much of the forest in order to expand the school for the future elite. Welcome to Santa Cruz, pack a gas mask in your tote bag.

In essence, everything in this place is different, but it is really the same. Here, people love organics, but they also love the cheap immigrant labor that supplies it, especially when it stays in Watsonville. Here, people love being liberals, except when it comes to issues that actually have an effect on class relations in the city. It feels great to slap that anti-war sticker on the car, but the upper middle class is still a class with it's own interests - ones that run counter to ours. Thus, here we have repressive politicians that call for more police, higher rents, destroyed forests, more cameras, more development - all while wearing a Che shirt. This is what it takes in this town; but the game is still the same. An economy needs to be managed, workers have to keep going to work, and class and race lines have to be firmly kept in place. And if people could just enjoy their granola here and shut up, things would go a lot smoother...

The events of May 1st represent a tear in this fabric. Suddenly, people aren't shopping on Pacific, they're breaking windows and setting things on fire. They aren't afraid of the police, they are surrounding cop cars and pouring paint on them and pelting them with rocks. "What's next?," cry the elites? "Will they surround city hall and burn it to the ground? Will they link up with migrant workers and take over the fields?"

The events in Greece are not that far removed. There, people riot and fight a "socialist government" that is just as committed to capitalism as the one before it. In Santa Cruz, despite the liberal window dressings of the local establishment, the song is the same.

But, here, unlike in Greece, there is not wide support for revolutionary action, at least not loud, vocal support. In fact, here, most of the vocal support for a fundamental changing of society comes from those that want to preserve capitalism at all costs, albeit in a greener, much nicer form. Thus, we see signs on local health food stores that implore us that "Non-violence is the only way." The only way to what, however? The destruction of capitalism and it's states? Or the only way to get a film screening of the latest Al Gore film at your local campus dining hall?

Here, we are surrounded by a framing of proletarian actions (riots, strikes, occupations) in middle class contexts (property destruction, violence, etc). We are suffocated by middle class voices (mass media, activists, the Left, Take Back Santa Cruz) when engaging in proletarian actions. We feel the raining down of dirt as they push us into coffins through their defining of our struggles in middle class values to solely middle class people (like much of the "anarchist" movement). I, want none of this.

The Left denounces the riots because they were violent. Violence, like sabotage, has always been a tool of the proletariat. Strikers in the UFW destroyed company property and armed themselves. Rioters in Oakland fought police and destroyed property when Oscar Grant was shot. In Chicago, workers occupied their workplaces, students in Santa Cruz and beyond did the same, and in Stockton and elsewhere, people occupy their foreclosed homes, ready to have it out with the police. The state is already violent. It is up to us to decide how we should respond. Will we be crushed, or do we fight? We are fighting for bread (and, fuck, roses too) here, not some moral code that says we can't cap a fucker who's screwing us. WE define the terms of our struggle against capitalism. Us. Not liberals and leftists who want to preserve capitalism. Display your billboards. Write your letters to the editor. We are not in the same struggle. You want more room at the Farmers Market. We want an end to wage labor and hierarchical power.

Some Leninists even went on to write on indybay regarding the riot:

While Liberation News understands that a system that keeps kicking people when they are down is bound to create a reaction, we also see [the May Day Riot] as having been generally counter-productive. Our perspective is towards building a workers’ party that fights to overthrow the current leadership in the unions to make the unions a fighting instrument of the working class. In the course of that struggle we seek to build self-confidence in the working class coupled with a vanguard party capable, with a rebellious working class...

The Left. Ridiculous. Disgusting. Vile.

One segment sees class as a misnomer. Something to be avoided. Don't talk about work, and rent, and immigration. Talk about bikes, and vegan food, and non-violence. Peace, dood, comes through buying the right products, the right lifestyle choices, and all that jazz, man.

The other side of the Left, sees the working class as a means to power. They want to use us to build their party, and put them in the leadership role. A ruling class in waiting. Meet the new boss, same as the old, but with sandals.

Another position, comes from Take Back Santa Cruz. They tow the same line as other groups before them. Gang violence is a problem. Crime is a problem. Thus, they want more police. More surveillance. More immigration cops. To them, crime isn't something that is caused by inequality. Nor is it something that they have had to deal with as being part of the class that is criminalized. No, they are attacking crime as a threat to their quality of life as the upper middle class.

However, the working class can only solve it's own problems. We can only help ourselves in our own communities. More police means more immigration officials. More people in jail and more tickets. It does not mean safer streets. But it does mean gentrification and higher rents. It means us removed from areas that rich people want to be developed. Now "anarchists" are on their radar. Their "violence" against the property of downtown business owners is a problem, just like the gangs. It threatens the tourist industry. It scares away potential businesses, just like brown people. Take Back Santa Cruz's activism does not impress us. They can clean all the parks they want to. We still understand the upper middle class to have interests different than ours, just as we see those heads of the gangs to be contrary as well. They do want to Take Back Santa Cruz, but even more so for the upper classes and their interests.

Finally, what are the anarchists saying? Most of the public outrage at the riot has been directed towards SubRosa, a small cafe that sells coffee and offers a place for people to buy anarchist publications. Being that there were flyers for the May Day event at SubRosa on a bulletin board and the space is "anarchist," many people believe that the space organized the event (which they didn't). SubRosa however, has been quick to distance themselves, being that they are becoming the victims of media attacks and mean posts on the Internet. Some of these include (ironically) threats of violence against anarchists that have quite public faces.

As SubRosa open letter read on

"We know it is a terrible feeling to feel under attack, as some of the downtown business owners and employees must feel right now. We care about the suffering of the people who were affected. The fear of violence and attack is something that many of us, especially women, youth, people of color, political dissidents, and poor people, feel on a regular basis in Santa Cruz and the world at large."

A SubRosa collective member wrote:

This town does not just belong to the rich, the white, the business owner. It also belongs to the artist, the street musician, the worker, the homeless. It also belongs to the anarchist and the anti-authoritarian. We live in a place where business owners and the police try to control our every move, where you can sit, what you can say, and they give us nothing in return, telling us to move along so that the rich tourists who come to spend money won't have their pure eyes tainted with the sight of our ragged clothes.

Can't we all just get a long, the anarchists ask? No, actually, we can't. This is class society. There is death, abuse, destruction, and violence everyday. Sometimes, we get to direct it. That is why the riots on May Day were a good thing. For those that are angry about the property of corporations and rich people being destroyed on International Workers Day while rent is sky high, workers are laid off, people are foreclosed on, people are deported and families are destroyed, fees continue to rise, and the forest is destroyed for development, and so on - eat shit. These actions weren't to find you, or make you feel good, they were meant for others. They were meant for us.

We refuse to let our actions be defined by a pacifistic leftist middle class morality. We refuse to let our actions be merited by it's politicians. We do not seek find sympathy with or feel sorry for, business owners, they are a different class than us. We do not care if they are afraid. We do not care what they think. We do not care how many letters of opinion the upper crust activists in Take Back Santa Cruz write, we see where their true interests lie. We see the game, as we smash a black checker down and scream in yo face, "CONNECT FOUR MOTHERFUCKER!"

It must be understood that the Left is shifting the debate of the riot. It is doing that because of it's own middle class interests. They don't want us to talk about why these actions against the rich in a society divided by class and race make us feel good and powerful, and how they could lead to more action. They want us to feel bad and to help catch the bad ones. If we're feeling uppity, we're told, go out and hold a sign, and if we've got money, run for office. Even many "revolutionaries" are playing the game. Don't.

The breaking of windows materially doesn't get us anything, (unless you lucky bastards came up in that rolex store!) But, it sends a message that we are not afraid to attack, and in rioting, we feel something. We come to understand that we can't just let capitalism wash over us. To continue to just allow ourselves to simply sell our time and labor out for a wage in order to survive. To pay for rent. To allow everything on this earth to become a commodity; from cum to forests. In finding each other and realizing that we don't want this; realizing that the avenues for change are bankrupt, we understand that in action together we find new ways of being that can improve our conditions. We find possibility. That is what is exciting. Today, a riot of 200. Tomorrow a general strike of 5.9 billion? Next week, the end of industrial capitalism?

What is most terrifying for the petite-bourgeoisie is not that we are no longer afraid to attack and steal their property and engage with the police. No, we already knew that. What is terrifying to them is that this is just a start. Yes.

In the end, we are not interested in showing how "bad" a corporation is by breaking it's windows, or in decrying police by destroying their cars, but in subverting and negating the totality of life in capitalism. In refusing wage labor and the commodity. In destroying the hold and control of capital and the police over all space. In destroying the separations that exist between the proletariat based on race, age, geography, gender, and sexuality. We are not out just to punish you, but to abolish you and your dictatorship over all our lives.

So, when we go on strike. When we occupy the building. When we break down the doors and start looting. When you scream at the top of your lungs, "PEACEFUL PROTEST!" while cop cars are burning and we tell you to "SHUT THE FUCK UP!" When the co-op becomes a collective meeting space and the SEIU hall becomes a strike coordinating center. Remember, that before all of this, someone whispered in your ear: "...long live the proletarian movement!"

At that point, it stopped being the start, and started becoming the end.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Get Up, Stay Up

"Graffiti is a freedom crime, beautiful and revolutionary, suitable for revolutionaries.
On that road seldom travelled by the multitude, remember this when the cops come to fuck with you..."

- Looptroop Rockers

Graffiti is seen by those that control the city as a gateway crime. It is the broken window that supposedly other crimes stem from. It is vandalism that destroys communities and gives the okay for greater crimes to take place. Where I live, any sort of graffiti crime over $200 is considered a felony, and many find themselves caught up by the cops or locked in a prison cell for the crime of changing the color of a surface.

Why do we love and write graffiti? For one, is a culture and an art form that comes from us. From the urban poor. The working class. The criminal element. It is an activity that we do because we enjoy it. It is something that we have made ourselves, and despite every attempt to commercialize it, it stays illegal and autonomous from corporations and the rich. But, in order to become a graffiti writer, you need to act. To engage with the streets. To be up and stay up. Graffiti is not something you can be based on what you say, how you dress, or how you talk - it is only in action that can you be respected or be part of anything.

Graffiti does not ask for space. It takes space. It is the same as when skaters take over an area to skate board. When people occupy a park to hold a party. When people take over a vacant building to live in. When you shoplift in order to feed yourself. When you steal from your boss at work. Graffiti is not about dialog with those who run the city. It is about taking without asking from those who are not of the working and lower classes. It is about imposing what you need on a system that wants you to simply be a silent worker, a passive consumer, and subservient to the whims of the police, bosses, and politicians.

Graffiti is about feeling good in spaces that often make us feel bad. We live in environments policed by our enemies. Designed by upper class bosses, politicians, planners, and capitalists. We are bombarded with advertisements for everything from politics to skin cream. Graffiti is about rupture against this spectacle. It is about leaving something behind that we enjoy. It is about communication in a world that thrives on silence. It is about what we want, what we find beautiful, what we enjoy.

Graffiti is about not being afraid to attack what is ugly in this city. It is about not being afraid of the pigs. To go out and write. To engage with our environment instead of just letting it effect us in ways that it wants to. Graffiti will never be stopped because you can't stop the passion to live. To destroy. To create. Get up, stay up.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

We Are an Image With No Future

Class directed revolutionary violence towards enemies that builds our power shows the way only way forward...

"You have to be logical. You know?
If I know that in this hotel room

they have food every day, and I'm
knocking on the door every day to eat,

and they open the door,
let me see the party,

let me see them
throwing salami all over,

I mean, just throwing food around,
but they're telling me there's no food.

Every day, I'm standing outside
trying to sing my way in.

We are hungry, please let us in

After about a week that song
is gonna change to:

We hungry, we need some food

After two, three weeks, it's like:

Give me the food
Or I'm breaking down the door

After a year you're just like:

I'm picking the lock
Coming through the door blasting

It's like, you hungry,
you reached your level.

We asked ten years ago.
We was asking with the Panthers.

We was asking with them, the Civil
Rights Movement. We was asking.

Those people that asked
are dead and in jail.

So now what do you think
we're gonna do? Ask?"

Things are not the same as when our parents were growing up. It is much harder to get work, and even harder to keep it. Everything costs more and jobs pay less. A college degree means less and obtaining one is often much harder as is finding a job after graduating. There are less handouts offered from the state in the way of assistance and student grants. We have little opportunities; we are inheriting a world without much breathing room or future. With nothing to do, many of us slide into alcholism and drug use. We waste hours away online or in front of the television. The recuperated and fake vehicles of working class struggle also ofter us nothing. The unions are not the fighting organs that they portray themselves as. Instead, they seek to integrate us into capitalism and help mitigrate which section of the proletariat will be laid off and who will suffer furlough days or pay cuts. With the government repression against the revolutionary formations of the 60's and 70's crushed and defeated, the "bastards of the parties" of yesteryear, the gangs, represent often the only organized social force for mobilizing working class people, all for the sake of generating profit in the street sales of narcotics. Gone are the social centers and union halls in which before we met after work to talk in groups about what is being done against us. Instead, we are left with mega-churches and nuclear family units that see the struggle of other proletarians as different from their own. We are at a point in history where class struggle is needed now more than ever - yes where is the class war being waged on our side?

Much has been written in regards to the poverty of identify or lifestyle politics, we need not beat a dead horse only to spray the reader with it's maggots, yet still, blood seems to continue to pump through this beast's veins. Capital will not whither away in the face of food not lawns, freegan dumpster shopping sprees, or more bicycle lanes. We take it for granted that the reader understands and knows this to be true. Nor do we see a point in organizing ourselves along the lines of an identity or box that capital places us. Instead, what we need is a uniting force that places together the entire proletariat into a social force that attacks and fights capital. That pushes back against it, gaining more room for ourselves. A push back that wins us victories for ourselves, but also in doing so creates the kind of relations that we seek in communism. Above all, we wish to be selfish little proletarians. We have a class interest in attack and struggle, and we have a desire for the extinction and eradication of the bourgeoisie as a class, as well as class society. Our class interests are not "bad." Nor is it bad to struggle for them. We spend many hours and years fighting for places and communities that we will never see, for struggles that we have no tangible connection to. How are we to spread revolt if we do not carry out attack based on our own needs? How are we to organize with others and link up if we can't even organize around our own direct needs? How can we push for others to be in confrontation with capital if we are not able to do so in our own lives in a meaningful and collective manner? Where are our examples in our workplaces, on the streets, and homes against class dictatorship? We must find and carry out these actions, looking for more and more people who are interested in tasting the fruits of our violence. The charity of the activist is over. Now is the period of selfish class interest.

We are not calling for egoism. Or for us to not care about others. This is a call for the basis of our attack and organization as proletarians to be based around attacking what directly hinders our own lives. Thus, it is also in our interest to act in solidarity with others and expand and help other struggles. However, we are not here to simply organize and fundraise for other struggles that have no relation to us. We have a reason to struggle and fight ourselves; and these struggles will be our own. For us, it makes more sense that revolt will become generalized when other people realize what we can get when we get crazy. If you want this shit, like we got this shit, come get this.

Where can we be greedy? Where can we be selfish? How and where does capital inflict it's violence against us and where can we take these situations in our everyday lives and look for possibilities of attack and rupture? Where can we force our own contradictions within class society that allow people to choose between the comradeship of the proletariat and the embrace of their class enemies? If we truly are a generation with no future, a youth with nothing to lose but the nothing that we will inherit, then struggle against work and our class position is the only hope we have of getting anything of any worth in the near future.

We can begin at the workplace. Many within the revolutionary milieu have an almost subterranean position within the workforce. We work in the service sector or in the blackmarket. We often have little connection to wider groups of workers or those that are in unions. We are almost always scrambling for money for our projects and to pay rent. In many cities that anarchists and communists flock to, we often bunch up together in shitty houses, paying large amounts of rent that could be put into savings or towards infrastructure and projects. We often see jobs simply as a task that we must engage in order to live a "revolutionary lifestyle" or in order to save up for a plane ticket to the next summit or bookfair. How can we begin to use our jobs as ways to struggle and get more and more for ourselves? How can we build power among proletarians so we can work less and get more? What about while renting? What about where we live? How can we drive out politics and those not of our class from our lives and bring those like us closer? In this, veganism, bikes, alternative culture mean nothing. They are like flies that attempt to speak in a strange language that mean nothing to us and annoy us. Kill them. Destroy them. Build solidarity among the class. This is not activism, this is how we step out of survival, and build the mafia that allows us to swim in a sea of solidarity and paves the way for an acceptance of the violence will we inact on the class that is not us.

Those that speak of solidarity with those that they do not know of people or cultures or communities that they have never met and do not struggle for themselves or their class are probably those that are middle class. Let them engage in their projects. They can do no harm from it. Let us raise the flag again of the proletarian movement. Let the rich know that they have one thing to fear, the coming to power of their executioners.