Determining a Threat When You’re the Target: A Response to Several Authors

Common Ground

It’s worth mentioning that there is some shared intent here. I take issue with Jason’s framing of it as being ‘liberal’ but appreciate his search for common ground. I assume that we are all:

  1. Opposed to fascism: Although we debate its exact boundaries, there is a clear center mass that we are all opposed to.
  2. Opposed to the state and using it as the means of defeating fascism: We are anarchists and libertarians. We distrust any scheme the state offers as a defense against fascism because we know that more often than not they are traps and often lay the foundation for fascism anew. As an extension, we are critical of strategies that (explicitly or implicitly) rely on state violence such as the military, police, Border Patrol, ICE, or SWAT including those that expand the capacity for state violence such as many forms of legislative reform. We don’t call the cops and we aren’t snitches.
  3. Opposed to unprovoked violence: We will debate about the exact nature of aggression and self-defense but I think that it is worth noting that none of us are excited about the prospect of widescale violence. We are reticent and thoughtful about violence even if we debate what is morally or strategically advisable and necessary.
  4. Opposed to racism, nationalism, homophobia, anti-semitism, and the like: We disagree about how to reduce harm, create positive norms, and what to do about the various forms of bias (structural and interpersonal) and discriminatory violence but we all do seek to minimize or destroy these viruses.
  5. Support freedom and liberty: We all recognize that positive freedom is the complicated antidote to the repression and populism of fascism and authoritarian domination.
  6. Support the protection of communities at risk of fascist violence: We see fascist gangs and white supremacy, whether state sanctioned or not, as being antithetical to our values and seek to eliminate harm against those it targets even though this ‘protection’ may look different to us.

By mentioning these, assumedly, shared values I am not seeking to gloss over our differences which are dramatic. I mention them only to emphasize and encourage good faith in the recognition that we do have some shared goals.

On War and Violence

As antifascists, it should be clear that our brand is empathy and liberty. We stand not only on the side of love, but also on the side of joy. We fight nazis because we want a world where speech can be free. The contradiction of a shallow first glance fails to capture us. Sometimes the best way to maximize freedom and liberate love, is to resist that which would destroy or silo them into inbred cesspools of homogeneity. When we punch nazis, or spend years researching, infiltrating, and exposing them, we do it for love, not out of a vulgar brutalism. Don’t ever let someone steal that truth from us.

I also think it’s important to mention that I have experienced homophobic and transphobic violence. By mentioning having been physically and verbally assaulted for a marginalized identity (primarily for being a visibly queer transwoman) I am not trying to play a trump card that functions as an epistemic closure. Direct trauma is after all, not the end all be all of understanding a thing. But it does offer certain insights that can get lost in the abstracted discussion of justifiable threats to violence. Fear often functions as a set of biases towards action or paralysis, for better or worse. This trauma-based fear can lead to reactionary behavior or subtlety depending on the nature of the wielder. But in my direct experience, and the experiences of so many of my networks, the speed with which a situation shifts from anti-trans hostility to physical aggression can be the blink of an eye, and generally is. Sometimes you don’t have any warning and it comes seemingly out of nowhere. When, particularly libertarian, critics of antifa discuss the importance of awaiting the initiation of aggression, it often betrays a lack of experience with real-life, non-philosophical violence. I find myself thinking, “What would make you happy? Do you want us, the targets, to make scouting teams that, follow every single nazi around town until they reach their homes? Do you realize how impractical this is?!!” It’s not just impractical, it’s impossible. We do our best to minimize harm which sometimes means minimizing fascist threats. When you’re a hunted minority it’s easy to develop paranoia when there are, in fact, a lot of people that want to kill you, and even more people unwilling to go that far, but delighted by the possibility of harming you in any number of other ways.

I’m also a well-trained firearm owner. As the bathroom bill movement ramped up in the U.S. there was a concomitant call for people to kill and murder transwomen they found in women’s bathrooms. Because of my occupation, I found myself in public women’s bathrooms a lot constantly paranoid and knowing my rate of passing as cis is roughly half. As problematic as passing is as a concept, coupled with a variety of other surface or contextual indicators, passing is often the difference between being able to pee unhampered and being accosted (while still needing to pee). My experiences of intense transphobia and trauma stretches back as far as early childhood but as fascism began to more substantively rear its head again in the mainstream U.S. (and global) political landscape, things changed dramatically. I’m also a denizen of the internet which means I’ve been dealing with transphobes brutal desire to maim, rape, and murder me for a long time. But seeing that cesspit congeal into a coherent movement with physical street fighting operations, goose-stepping down main streets echoing Nazi slogans and throwing Roman salutes, I began to feel another echo. I had seen this before, but differently.

In my time living in a Kurdish area on the Turkish side of the borderlands with Syria, I came to be deeply involved with a wide range of activists from the Syrian revolution who had widely differing positions but all of which were generally opposed to the authoritarian regime of the father and the son–the Assads. I moved there under invitation in order to support a variety of local activist efforts and ended up also working in free migration issues. Somewhere in my heart I had hoped to learn some deep lesson that would make the appeal of non-violent direct action seem more viable as a core tenet of my anarchism. Unfortunately, the lesson I learned was quite the opposite. I left with a greater certainty that in situations where fascists come to takeover your village, that not only will the state not save you, they’ll exploit your death. Pacifism will get you and everyone you love killed. You will fight, flee, or die and many will die regardless. Wherever possible fascist movements will congeal rabidly into fully-fledged military movements, tactictly employed by the state to destroy minorities and imagined fifth-column subversives and enforce fascist rule. The myth of palingenesis draws in brutalists from across the world to fight for a disgusting dream. War isn’t just cruel, it’s the intense magnification of the worst crimes of which societies are capable. These crimes are then reiterated, again and again, forming complex-Post Traumatic Stress Disorder as the inability to bury your dead, much less grieve, compounds. Warfare is a tragedy so far beyond comprehension that it defies the transmission of experience between those who’ve seen it and those who haven’t. Fascism means a uniquely brutal form of warfare that many remember and many forget.

Upon arriving back to the states I knew more deeply than ever that the state will repress legitimate anti-fascist community defense and yet, that we needed it intensely. Many that oppose my ideas in this exchange will no doubt support robust community and self-defense efforts. On the other hand, I am of the ilk that is happy to read about anarchists destroyingGolden Dawn offices in Greece or killing their leaders in the streets. I smile not because I enjoy violence. My neural architecture is corrupted by my various domestic and international exposures to violence. I am opposed to it in the most visceral and logical sense. I’m an empath who will puke at a stranger’s blood loss. I have even written extensively about the role of peacebuilding and transformative tactics in long-term antifascist strategy. I am happy not because I’m a vulgar brutalist, but because I see meaningful defense. I am happy because the alternative is a carnage far worse. I am happy because I subsequently read about a former Golden Dawn member stating that “The only real threat to Golden Dawn is the anarchists.” I am happy because I smell, hear, and see a much more dramatic outbreak of violence as currently teetering on the brink of the possible and I wish, deeply that we were more prepared to stop it. I am happy because it frightens me that we might lose and I get some hope from our victories.

The casual observer may see an anarchist murder some Golden Dawn member, who has no swastika tattoos and is wearing a suit and thinks (as Will rightfully described), “My goodness! They’ve killed that innocent business man!” The conservative outrage machine would post pictures of the nazi doing community service for little Aryan children. The liberal sympathy machine would raise money for his neo-nazi wife. Little would they all know that the anarchists had been following him for years as he attempted to organize (yet keep his hands clean) the firebombing of African bars in echoes of the pogroms against guest workers by civilian “police” forces in Poland. When commanders such as these, die or drop-out of organizing after doxxing, so too does their organizational memory, their leadership acumen, and their connections.

We, in the so-called Western world, may not yet be on the brink of war as it is deeply known by those in the so-called Global South. More often we export our war. However, anyone who has lived in real U.S. American poverty has seen glimpses. Many of us have lived amongst gang warfare, racialized by a thriving legacy of Jim Crow era policies and structural racism. Working class anti-racists fight to hold their lines in the race rules of prison. Whether we are already in the race-war the fascists (and many leftists) think they want or not, matters less than the realistic dynamics of how violent confrontations work. Violent conflict is a battle not an egalitarian anarchist (or liberal) conversation. Ethical corruption is constantly perversely incentivized. Anarchists don’t understand war. We care too goddamn much to fully embrace the sociopathic bloodlust needed to play a violent team sport and win. Even the consequentialists amongst us (such as myself and Will) draw certain hard lines that lose us points where brutality wins. Even as I support broad defense I recognize that we must embrace voices of restraint lest we fall into cognitive, affective death spirals.

Responses

In violent conflict the rules of engagement change. This is not a free pass. We are no longer anarchists if we abandon the empathy and love of liberty that characterizes and weakens us against ultra-violence. I respect both Jason and Grayson. Despite several years of frustrated mutual plunking of keys at each other on these topics, I appreciate their calls to thoughtful reticence and engagement. I acknowledge that they notably attempt to deeply engage, and even meaningfully frame comprehension of the positions they argue against. They, and others in their ideological vicinity, have impacted me in the sense that their thoughtful (even if occasionally wildly wrong-headed) conclusions represent aspects of my own consciousness and the problems at play that are worthy of attention.

Other antifa critics such as Babcock relegate their critiques to Libertarian and Republican echo chambers through their lack of exposure to the nuance present in antifascist groups. While burning a Marxist (and Trotskyist) caricature of a predominantly anarchist movement, he ironically casts the world into a quite dialectical binary of liberal and illiberal motivations conveniently creating a perfect team based trench system to defend or dismiss. This kind of rote simplification is worse than a strawman, it’s disingenuous. No one in this mutual-exchange is an ML, but many may be socialists. Grant does not show a great amount of exposure to the distinction between libertarian-socialism and Stalinism. Further, those that advocate punching nazis are not somehow illiberal authoritarian communist monsters bent on gulaging anyone with a different perspective. His lack of exposure is again exposed when he tries (possibly ironically?) to play an idpol epistemic closure in describing antifa demos as a fundamentally masculine endeavor stating, ““One of the advantages of nonviolent tactics, in contrast to street brawling, is that people who are not able-bodied men are full and equal participants in the fight, rather than being relegated to support roles. ” Fun fact about actually existing antifa groups, there are tons of femmes, neuro-diverse people, queers, trans folks, and people of color involved and generally in the front lines. The particular groups with shitty masculinist track records often get ostracized by the larger networks. The assumption that only men can fight and that situations of physical confrontation innately relegates non-men to support roles, speaks for itself. More offensive though than these naive assumptions is his repeated notion that anyone who would want to use violence against nazi political assembly is primarily motivated by a desire for violence. In the response section I hope to see Grant increasingly engage with the real people he faces instead of some authcom strawman.

Conversely, I see Edelhoss making a similar mistake from the opposite direction. Placing a primacy on the involvement in antifa groups as the only form of antifascist activism and assuming that everyone who doesn’t or isn’t involved is an “ignoramus.” There are lots of ways to support antifa groups without being a member (send them intel, flyer, cook for them, babysit, provide them self-defense training, etc.) although I am in full agreement with you that membership does generate certain nuance and knowledge about the depth of care with which the majority of longstanding antifa groups approach their work. But, while I disagree incredibly firmly with many, or even most, of the critics of antifa. I won’t go so far as to lump them all into a category of idiocy even if I do think some of their ideas are disastrously wrong or limited.

A common critique of antifascist political violence (the smarter critics recognizing that this is only a small, but important short-term piece of what antifa groups do) is that it militarizes and popularizes the fascist movement amongst mainstream republicans and fence-sitters while creating martyrs. There is of course truth to these critiques of anti-fascist action broadly speaking, such as that some people are sympathetic to the perceived extremism of antifa and are drawn to fascism as a result. But these people that would be drawn to fascism, were already drawn to it, that’s how attraction works. Another part of this critique is that getting doxxed or beaten can in some situations lead to increased group cohesion amongst fascists or fence-sitting conservatives caught in the crossfire. Well sure, when you get smashed in the head by someone you certainly don’t think, “My god maybe they do have a point!” but this is a gross simplification. Tons of military history and conflict transformation research studying the “radicalization” of terrorist groups backs this idea up. But these are often looking at foreign invaders, occupying far-flung lands with a history of colonial exploitation, then creating a huge swath of civilian deaths through things like nightly drone bombing campaigns and the like. This is wildly different than what more aptly resembles a civil conflict (mostly with sticks and pepper-spray) even with the knowledge of global geo-political meddling. As far as martyrdom goes, Da3esh (ISIS) has plenty of dead martyrs but Raqqa has fallen. Might never makes right, but it can spell a tainted kind of victory.

Although the person punched and doxxed at a rally might become radicalized, it’s not about the one person, it’s about the people who decide not to partake as a result. The same way that infiltration is designed not just to reveal information but also to create inner panic. These are of course statist war-games. But that doesn’t make them ineffective. In fact, in hierarchical organizations such as many neo-nazi orgs and gangs, it makes them more effective. Should we constantly check our compass of efficacy and ethics? Of course. We need strong accountability. But hand-waving the situation just allows escalation, and escalation means death and extreme suffering.

When Jason describes the importance of distinguishing between peaceful and violent nazi rallies, he acknowledges the need for readiness for defense, but seems nearly dismissive of the ease with which we can recognize patterns and draw predictive conclusions especially with regard to certain specific nazi groups such as NSM, Identity Evropa, or anything that draws in the “Proud Boys.” Obviously not every III-percenter rally is motivated by white supremacist violence but we can see through the word games that other groups employ to mask their genocidal lust. Just because not every nazi event featured violence doesn’t mean it’s not a pattern. That’s not how correlation works. Every historical nazi rally didn’t end with a Romani or guest worker pogrom (or the Munich Putsch) but the ones that did were devastating beyond all reason. Most of Hitler, Mussolini, and the National Front’s early rallies were framed as proper upstanding citizens types of events. Traditionalists love to see themselves as clean and proper. Yet given the chance, there is regular anti-minority violence at these rallies aside from the sheer trauma that these festivals of intimidation provide.

As I have said on many occasions, counter-recruitment, skilled rebuttal, and liberal hugs can be very strategic. I support the one-two punch of antifa pushing back a nazi incursion and then liberals scooping them up and kindly pointing them to the fact that they have literally become nazis. The beautiful cases such as Derek Black are important, even as they are completely and wholly unfeasible as central organizing principles for a movement that intends not to get slaughtered. Grayson keenly pointed out the historical interplay between more militant and more pacifist movements, stating:

Many advocates of violent action acknowledge this, and propose that violent and nonviolent strategies be employed simultaneously. They observe that nonviolent strategies like those of Gandhi or King were employed side by side with violent strategies that made them more appealing to those in power. There are few things worth considering in light of that observation. It doesn’t establish any particular advantage for violent or nonviolent action. It also seems likely that there are relevant differences between strategies aimed at changing established political institutions and those aimed at effecting broader cultural change (the two are, of course, not totally independent). Lastly, it seems to assume that violent and nonviolent actions generally interact harmoniously rather than antagonistically. That assumption is clearly unwarranted.

Although I agree to an extent with this take, I don’t think that we need to, or are arguing for the dominance of political violence in our tactics. Further, I think that the antagonism he describes is that often, the peacenik contemporaries of social movements often end up being the ones who collaborate with the state in the repression of radical community defense. In my personal experience, just about every single protest has some white hippy mom who goes to the police to help identify the “violent anarchists” completely of her own accord. This is not to say that all non-violent direct action activists are this particular breed of loathsome. In fact most of the committed ones, disagree as they may, would never facilitate state violence against their more aggressive fellow demo-goers. But nonetheless, when Jason and authors point to Gene Sharp, it is is of course timely to reference Gelderloos and his research on how certain forms of non-violence in the wake of Gene Sharp, have actually served to cede huge symbolic victories while maintaining the complete structure of deep marginalization in tact, such as when a dictator is overthrown and a new leader inherits their brutal secret police operations.

As we said in my opening essay, fascism is dangerous not because it’s true, but because it appeals to many people. It has an inherent hook. Because of this inherent hook, public debate with nazis is dangerous. In terms of debate, although often inadvisable, if you’re going into it there are a lot of strategies. Some of the most important and contradictory ones are to troll harder, be incessantly earnest, make sure to control the framing of the debate, cede no ground, be better at their game then them, define the terms, know your shit, expose the brittleness of their meta-strategies, don’t let them corner you, keep your cool, be calloused (as in have already done your time in the troll mines so you’re not shocked by incredibly violent and terrible shit), be strict and serious but clearly maintain that you are fighting for joy and love. Our opening essay stands similarly to Jason when he writes:

Of course, intellectual confrontations with fascists are not as simple as the best ideas automatically winning through the pure light of reason. Nine hundred and ninety-nine times out of a thousand, fascists do not engage in good faith. They deliberately misrepresent both your ideas and theirs, having mastered subrational forms of communication to silence reason and amplify prejudice. These conversations can look like a normal debate to unsuspecting onlookers, who can mistake the fascist’s sophistry for bold truth-telling and find themselves infected….. Their goals are in pushing things away from sincere debate and into sophistry and violence. This can’t be too obvious, so they try to mask every attempt at subverting rational discourse as engagements in it. Their attacks on liberalism are almost always parasitic on it, gleefully saying their enemies smashed up a “free speech” rally, or balking at “triggered” interlocutors who supposedly can’t handle reasonable conversation. Their apparent arguments are often red herrings, so critiquing them on their own terms is fruitless.

Relatedly, in his discussion of belligerent rationality, Grayson points out how, much of the modern alt-right couldn’t really care less about whether race is actually a meaningful biological distinction. Fascism is a power movement first and foremost not a truth movement. They’re trolls but we too can troll. One of my favorite examples of political trolling that was non-violent and effective was when a liberal group called Deutschland Exitthat helps to counter-recruit neo-nazis made a fundraiser where every step that nazis in a particular rally took, was sponsored by donors to donate to the organization’s efforts. So in effect, the longer the march, the more money they raised for counter-recruitment efforts. In the end, the nazis raised over 10,000 Euros for the anti-extremist org. Clever underminings like this, while not capable of being the only pillar of defense, are excellent methods of taking the wind out of their sails.

With regard to the many battlefields of engagement with nazis, Jason argues that:

All these tactics must be practiced with serious care. Do not argue with fascists unless you’re skilled at cutting through sophistry; do not go to rallies armed unless you thoroughly trust your judgment in relevant situations and know how to properly use that weapon. You must know what you’re getting into, and where your talents place your comparative advantage in the anti-fascist division of labor.

While this is true, this is also a time of learning. Newfound radicalism is always annoying and reckless. No doubt the influx of baby antifa groups and new found anti-nazism will sprout some tremendously cringey, or even dangerous mistakes. But that is no reason for people to stop. That is reason for mentorship, guidance, practice, research, experimentation, and debate.

One of the topics that Jason and others and I fight about that has not been addressed here is the void of what could be considered truly reliable quantitative research on the efficacy of violent and nonviolent resistance to fascist movements. Unfortunately, it is far too high of a variable problem with too little by way of controls or clean comparisons to do proper data collection. However, although anecdotes do not constitute repeated evidence, they are a type of information. We do know that in the period where there wasn’t antifa groups, white supremacists controlled more neighborhoods in both Paris and Portland and that as antifa groups began to sprout up and apply a range of techniques to deal with the threats, the incidences of violence committed by these groups in those very same areas decreased as it became harder for them to carry out business as usual. Of course these are not perfect data points but they are still a kind of evidence and in lieu of other stronger evidence it is important to weigh them appropriately. What’s more, these invaluable histories of resistance are quite well documented and not only by antifa groups themselves but also by very serious historians of antifascist activity.

In discussing the role of the internet in modern no-platform battlefields Jason writes:

Consider the takedowns of the Daily Stormer and Stormfront; p. Predictably, both sites are back online. When fascists’ profiles get shut down on payment sites like Patreon or Gofundme, they just create their own explicitly fascist-friendly alternatives. Fascists will have websites, and some of those websites will be able to fund their activities.

But this is still a type of victory Jason. Push them farther into their own servers and they have less DDoS protections and things like this, making them more vulnerable. If they’re forced into the deep-web, sure they may retain some anonymity but they also lose a huge body of the populace who won’t or don’t know how to access the unlisted, or hidden-service web. Also, not all platforms are created equal. The point is also about normalizing the dismissal of fascist speech as inane. We don’t need the ideas to not exist– that’s impossible and undesirable– we want them to be relics that are looked upon with disdain and disinterest. In the long-term, none of us want to be fighting nazis tooth-and-nail. In the long-term, I do believe that fascists should be able to speak on the street-corner freely as long as they pose no real threat but we’re not there yet. It’s a deformed ideological market that privileges cruelty and the path towards positive freedom is a treacherous and narrow road.

The Right to Fear

There are a number of topics that I did not address in this essay either because I believe they’ve been well covered by other writers (such as slippery slope fallacies and the diversity of what antifa groups actually do) or because I think they would be distractions (a philosophical debate about consequentialism and deontology). However, it’s worth mentioning in no uncertain terms, that the fear that minorities feel about fascists is not only legitimate, it’s real. When discussing strategy and the efficacy of resistance against fascism I won’t play the reactionary leftist game of saying only the most brutal and oppressed are the most serious and legitimate, but I also won’t cede ground to those for whom the possible deaths of people like me and those even more at risk are but a minor philosophical point that distracts from the purity spiral of their ideological doctrine. While hopefully no one here would be so reckless, I say it because it’s common. The stakes are incredibly high. The targeted beings have a right to be triggered, to make mistakes, to garble and confuse their talking points even as we strive to hold each other to a higher standard. Objectivity is often the luxury of the removed after all, whether through healing or lack of exposure. When Alex remarks on the white cis-maleness of much of the left-market anarchist and libertarian milieus I am sure it is not to silence but to question. How can we best protect those at risk? How can we honor the experiences of those that have suffered and hold the memory of fascism and racist violence in their bodies? The answer isn’t brutality but it also isn’t ideologically “pure” rigidity. It’s very possible to be culpable and have clean hands. But amidst these dire tensions, there is common ground. I trust that people here all hate fucking nazis and want to see fascism wiped from the earth. In building a world free of fascist power, where liberty, empathy, mutual-aid, and that (James) Baldwinian love reign, I hope that we can keep our priorities in order. We don’t just want to survive, we want to build a world where we can thrive. Destroy nazism to cultivate empathy and freedom. Punch a nazi for love.

Via: c4ss.org

Edited for mb3-org.com

Antifa on a Conservative Campus: Possibilities

Ten things you can do to combat racism and xenophobia ...

from Radical Education Department

Recently, we’ve seen powerful Antifa actions on college campuses like Berkeley and the University of Virginia striking back against emboldened white supremacists and fascists. We’ve also seen how crucial Antifa is on college campuses after neo-Nazis like Richard Spencer proclaimed they are targeting colleges as recruiting-grounds.

But what if you’re on a conservative or even reactionary campus?  This situation poses special challenges for Antifa.  It may be difficult to find anything beyond a small group willing to mobilize against fascism and its roots in the white supremacy, misogyny, and imperialism central to capitalist society.  And activists confront not only widespread apathy,  but also the real possibility of backlash from both administrators and many other students and faculty. The threat to contingent faculty is especially great. The situation can seem hopeless.

Still, there is great value in cultivating a radical Antifa presence on conservative campuses.  In this post, I point out that importance by drawing on my own experiences as part of a small Antifa group on a conservative campus.  And I start to assemble a list of other, further radical possibilities beyond those we explored.  I hope, then, this reflection could be helpful to people in similar situations.

1. Some background: Villanova and the Charles Murray Action

Villanova University is a notoriously conservative school.  Many students in its overwhelmingly white and upper-class student body vocally support the Trump administration (with “Make America Great Again” signs and parties, for example; check out this endorsement of Trump in the college paper).  It was in this context that white supremacist physical violence erupted on campus.  Two of my own students of color mentioned to me the fear they felt for their safety on campus.

Villanova has also been openly hostile to progressive activism.  For instance, one contingent faculty-person in our group–Nova Resistance–was explicitly threatened with being fired for another, very benign and non-disruptive, organizing project on campus.  In recent years, Villanova administrators rescinded a speaking invitation to a queer activist.

We formed Nova Resistance to disrupt an invited talk by the white supremacist, anti-worker, and misogynist pseudo-intellectual Charles Murray in March 2017.  In the lead-up to the event, two of us had tried to create a large faculty and student action; they were either ignored or met with anemic, sanctimonious arguments for “free speech” or “boycotting.”

In the days prior, one of us hung very simple posters across campus to call for resistance.  We distributed it by slipping it secretly inside the student newspaper and taping it across many campus buildings.  Nova Resistance officially met for the first time only hours before the event began.  Members made signs, and made a plan for the action.  Some of us were very new to more disruptive, small-group tactics.

By the day of the talk, we were only a handful of activists, with at least one person coming from off-campus.  The event was heavily guarded many hours before.  A police helicopter circled overhead; campus swarmed with armed police carrying many thousands of dollars of military-style equipment; there were numerous conspicuous undercover cops; and so on.  The talk was to be held in a secure basement location on campus with very limited seating–obviously chosen because it is the building that houses campus security.  Moreover, we discovered that, in addition to campus police, the university paid some $15,000 to hire the police force from Radnor township.  Clearly, administrators were spooked by the ghost of Middlebury.

Four made it into the crowded event, while a few others remained outside to prepare for a protest and teach-in after our eventual ejection.  As soon as Murray took the stage, two from Nova Resistance stormed the front of the event, blocking the projector screen with a banner. The plan was for the two to stage a silent action during the event while a banner and signs were held to under-cut the talk.  Others were to create an increasing disruption of ridiculous noises, cheers, heckling, etc., all as a way of interrupting and hopefully halting the talk.

Almost immediately, the two of us who were standing at the front were accosted by belligerent audience-members.  One person in the reserved seats in the front row–neither security nor a talk organizer–grabbed the shirt of one of us and seemed nearly on the verge of punching him. The talk’s faculty organizer, as well as an unaffiliated, liberal  professor, approached the two Nova Resistance members at the front, trying to convince them to cease the disruption.  Another member of our direct action team went to the front of the room with the other two.

Fairly quickly amid these confrontations, one of the three activists at the front began more disruptively yelling about Murray’s fascistic ideology, the school’s implication in it, and so on (departing from the group’s plan of silence).  However, the activists refused to engage directly with the attempts at heckling or negotiation and instead resolutely stated that they refused to have their university provide a podium for a reactionary eugenicist, racist, misogynist hack. After around 15-20 minutes of this, campus security threatened to arrest the activists if they did not allow themselves to be escorted out of the event.  They chose the latter option in order to re-consolidate outside. One member filmed the encounters and eventually posted them on our social media outlets.

Outside we rapidly escalated.  One of us brought a megaphone.  Using this, we organized an impromptu, direct-action “teach-in” immediately outside of the windows of the Murray talk.  The crowd that formed around us was perhaps 40-50 strong and fairly receptive–unusual for Villanova’s campus–though the crowd was largely passive.  We screamed and chanted (“No Murray!  No KKK!  No fascist USA!” etc.) into the open windows of the event with the megaphone, creating additional disruptions, although the windows were rather quickly closed.  The police then confronted us, telling us we had to cut the megaphone (on threat, apparently, of arrest).  We continued without amplification for a while, and then left. Members of Nova Resistance were approached by local news outlets for interviews and quotes.

We were not ready for the next steps.  We had no statement prepared and hadn’t set up any social media outlets to post videos or analysis or to garner more support and visibility.  Later that day we whipped up a Facebook page and began posting media, and within a few days we submitted an article for the school newspaper and created a manifesto-style statement, posting them as well.  But our lag left us without a voice at a time when our actions were being interpreted and either supported or condemned without our own voice helping to shape the narrative.

(It should also be noted that the school newspaper, The Villanovan, warped the statement they ran without consulting us, toning down and pacifying our language.)

Nova Resistance then began to meet regularly, renaming itself the Radical Education Department (RED).  We reframed our task beyond Villanova as the creation of a radical left think-tank developing Antifa practices across college campuses.  We used the visibility and experience from the event to inform a number of articles in left popular media (for example, thisthis, and this).

Edited for mb3-org.com

The Epidemic Of White Male Terrorism And Its Connection To White Privilege

Las Vegas Mourns After Largest Mass Shooting In U.S. History

Written By David J. Leonard

The headlines and descriptions of domestic terrorist, Stephen Paddock, made it clear that the mass murderer was white before the public even saw his face. As media outlets plastered the Internet with the picture of Marilou Danley, his girlfriend of color, the whiteness of the Las Vegas shooter was on full display.

TMZ noted that he doesn’t fit mass shooter profile.” Highlighting his resume, his likes/dislikes, and how he spent his retirement in quiet Mesquite, Nev., the press response has read more like an E-harmony profile than an effort to document a terrorist attack. Rather than searching for every indication of the shooter’s inherent criminality, which has been the case when people of color are at the center of violent acts, most media outlets failed to adequately chronicle how the shooting in Las Vegas was yet another mass shooting. The massacre is part of a larger epidemic of white-on-white violence that has shattered lives, destroyed communities, and left the nation looking at itself in a mirror reflecting violence and despair.

report in The Washington Post noted that while he was “quiet” and lived like “a college freshman,” he was just a regular guy who drove a modest car and often wore khakis and a polo shirt. Another piece in The Washington Post noted how “Paddock’s family was never the same following the trauma” of his father’s arrest for bank robbery. And no one drew causal correlations between Paddock’s father’s criminal background and Paddock’s criminal acts as would have been the case if Paddock wasn’t white.

Many articles centered his brother’s perspective. His brother described him as a Joe Lunch Bucket, albeit with gold and diamonds. “He’s just a guy. He lived in Las Vegas. He played at the casinos. There’s nothing. That’s what’s so bizarre. No trouble with the law. No mental illness,” he noted.

A neighbor described Paddock as “normal.” Even strangers seemed to have liked him. A bartender at Peggy Sue’s, a spot Paddock and his girlfriend frequented, continue to support the narrative that the shooter was an average guy who had an occasional drink and liked karaoke. Paddock, to many people, isn’t what a terrorist looks like? Terrorists, indeed, to many people don’t look like white men at all. Terrorists, mass shooters, and murderous criminals don’t look like Paddock or me.

The media has turned Paddock into an isolated and normal-individual-turned-violent murderer rather than another white male among a class of white men who have killed masses of people in the U.S.

Such narratives are unique to white male mass shooters. As are the efforts to humanize and to offer cultural autopsies that point to potential gambling addictions or mental illness as the reason behind a mass shooting rather than a pervasive evil inherent in white male killers.

The erasure of “white male” mass shooters from public discourse produces coverage that depicts Paddock and countless others as individuals who we must empathize with. Paddock deserves empathy because he is not the imagined Muslim terrorist, the criminal Latino immigrant, and the Black thug. Whereas they are terrorists and super predators who “terrorize communities,” who undermine the safety and tranquility of our communities, Paddock is refashioned as a sick man who deserved help.

The murderous rampage of Paddock, like so many white male domestic terrorists before him, has become a story about Haddock rather than the epidemic of white male shooters. “White men who resort to mass violence are consistently characterized primarily as isolated ‘lone wolves’ — in no way connected to one another — while the most problematic aspects of being white in America are given a pass that nobody else receives,” Shaun King wrote at The Intercept.

The numbers don’t lie. And Stephen Paddock is no exception.

While the average age of a mass shooter is 35, and while media narratives often focus on “kids,” that is when they are white, the history of mass shootings in America is one with ample examples of older shooters. In fact, many of these instances received national attention.

Just a few months ago, James Hoginson opened fire on a GOP softball practice, injuring five.

In 2015, Robert Lewis Dear opened fire on a Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood, killing three and wounding nine others.

Five days earlier, James Houser, who was routinely described as a “drifter,” unloaded his weapon into a crowd watching TrainWreck, killing two people and wounding others.

Yet, what binds together those well-known high-school and college-age shooters, and those killers who are in their 50s and 60s, including Stephen Paddock, is that the majority of them are white men.

While representing only 31 percent of the population, white men account for over 54 percent of all shooters, according to Mother Jones. In 2015, that number was 63-64 percent.

In 2012, David Sirota, in his Salon article, “Time to Profile White Men,” noted that 70% of mass shooters were white men. Regardless of the different numbers that speak to varied definitions of what constitutes a mass shooting, it is clear that white men are overrepresented as mass shooters in the U.S. This isn’t surprising.

According to a 2013 University of Washington study, “Among many mass killers, the triple privileges of white heterosexual masculinity which make subsequent life course losses more unexpected and thus more painfully shameful ultimately buckle under the failures of downward mobility and result in a final cumulative act of violence to stave off subordinated masculinity,” the authors wrote.

The epidemic of mass shootings in the U.S. is the consequence of white privilege. And just as guns threaten the safety and security of communities throughout the nation, so does white privilege.

Despite bringing 10 suitcases, all presumably carrying guns, ammunition, and his weapons of mass destruction, “Paddock aroused no suspicion from hotel staff even as he brought in 23 guns, some of them with scopes.” And despite having ”19 additional firearms, thousands of rounds of ammunition and the chemical tannerite, an explosive,” at his Mesquite home, his neighbors expressed shock that he could have committed such atrocities. Given how race shapes who is feared, who is imagined as dangerous, who fits profile of “thug,” terrorist, or criminal,it isn’t surprising that no one suspected that he might be preparing to kill so many innocent lives.

This is very different than those who emerged after “terrorist attacks” in the United States.  In the aftermath of the 2015 shooting in San Bernardino, several people questioned the lack of attention from neighbors, blaming them for failing to report suspicious activities. Arguing that they should have known and alerted authorities, the narrative seemingly indicted their neighbors for the horrific shooting that resulted in the murder of 14 people and not the killer.

Race shapes our reaction to gun violence. The shootings in Dallas and Baton Rogue served as a moment to blast and criticize Black Lives Matter and an opportunity to connect the killing of three police officers and the wounding of three others to the Black community. But Paddock’s actions, like those committed by white mass shooting brethren, will not be pinned to the entire white community.

Each report of a crime committed by an undocumented immigrant becomes a referendum on both immigrants and the Latino community, but the Vegas shooter, like Dylann RoofJames HolmesAdam LanzaChris Harper ,and countless others, are turned into stories about lone wolves and not an epidemic of white male terrorists.

To be white is to be immune to the labels of terrorism despite the resulting fear of one’s violent rampage. To be white is to kill many people and still be humanized and centered in stories about one’s love for polo shirts and burritos. To be white is to compel questions and narratives that blame a killer’s actions on gambling, the impact of his father’s criminal record, and mental illness rather than his evil tendencies and actions. And from the perspective of this white male writer, to be white is to be complicit in the everyday violence of white supremacy—especially when we tell lies and not truths.

Edited for mb3-org.com

Longview Anarchism: Transcending the Existential Threat of Freedom

By: 

Skin as Thick as Bark

As asinine, cultish leaders fascistically toy with the notion of nuclear warfare, we are reminded yet again of the fragility of human life. That humans have advanced as far as we have is remarkable. It reminds me of the feeling of awe I have when realizing that we limited humans drive hurtling boxes of steel around and don’t kill each more often than we do. Really, brava humanity. And yet, on a long time scale, we are less than a blink. After all, dinosaurs roamed the earth for 165 million years, and humans have only been around for about 6 million. Although dinosaurs did not reach the level of existential responsibility and consciousness that humans have, they were still wiped out by natural phenomena. Many pessimists see our extinction as an inevitability and almost usher it in, giving it a seat in their home with a misanthropic accelerationist’s glee. It’s wiser to recognize the exponentially harrowing conundrums that we do and will continue to face with an eye of hope. At the very least we should act in accordance with a path that hope might suggest. The game theoretic dilemmas of technological advancement present threats, but they also offer opportunities for freedom. The alternative can only be devastation and the void, so gambling on a future is, however unlikely to succeed, a sound bet. A longview anarchism represents both a determinism, and an infinite array of possibility.

The Fear of Knowledge

Each new existential threat to humanity increases both the rewards of coordination and the risks of defection. With the invention of firearms came the genocide of indigenous peoples the world over, but, like the boomerang of advancement, in time, those guns gave rise to fighting forces that overthrew the very same colonial despots. With nuclear weapons have come both the horrific attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki as well as clean nuclear reactors capable of supplying unprecedented levels of more sustainable energy. The more easily we can destroy ourselves, the more meaningful becomes our responsibility not to do so.

Currently most of the largest human controlled existential threats are under the control of governments. The fate and responsibility of the human race is, in many ways, entrusted in the hands of a select few individuals. Unfortunately, two of the current lagerheads of this somber commitment are Donald Trump and Kim Jong-Un, mediated only by Dennis Rodman. However, as technology progresses, so too will access to the means of existential threat become more accessible to a greater number of people.  Hackers could destroy the hospitals or power grids of an entire nation from a single computer if they possessed the drive and ability. Network penetration testers cringe when they go to large infrastructure facilities and see an outdated version of Microsoft controlling the lives of thousands or even millions. None of these scales of damage from an individual would have been possible a short time ago. Yet somehow we’ve made it this far despite the odds being consistently stacked against us from the moment we mutated to become multicellular organisms on a hurtling rock in the sky with water and oxygen. We must be doing something right in terms of the coordination problems we face and yet, our brittle mechanisms fray and crack before our eyes. When sociopaths and cult-leaders control our destiny alone, we’re screwed but distributing control of these threats and avenues of possibilities creates new dilemmas of ethical responsibility and coordination.

There are a seemingly infinite number of existential threats facing the human race or earth itself (ignoring for now threats facing the entire universe) and, increasingly, those threats will be available to the individual. When a 3d printer can print a genetic disease capable of constantly morphing and increasing its virality, a single person could devastate our species. However, if one person could print that so too could we remotely print antibodies to cure the epidemics facing rural Africa after centuries of structural denial and exploitation of resources on the continent. The trend is clear that, assuming technological advancement continues, humans will decentralize ways to both destroy and save ourselves. A tactical personal nuke may seem inane now, but 30 years ago so did an iPhone. We’ve already created and proliferated the ability to 3d print untraceable ghost guns. This isn’t just waxing teleological either. Technological development moves rapidly and, at times, with exponential acceleration. The bones for epochal shifts such as quantum computing and strong AI are also already underway.

Hope or Something Like It

“When many individuals use reciprocity, there is an incentive to acquire a reputation for keeping promises and performing actions with short-term costs but long-term net benefits. Thus, trustworthy individuals who trust others with a reputation for being trustworthy (and try to avoid those who have a reputation for being untrustworthy) can engage in mutually productive social exchanges, even though they are dilemmas, so long as they can limit their interactions primarily to those with a reputation for keeping promises.”

– Elinor Ostrom, A Behavioral Approach to the Rational Choice Theory of Collective Action

Those who are prone to panic dread the advancement of technology, simultaneously ignoring the countless lives that it saves and tangibly improves and carving out worry wrinkles with regards to its possibility of misuse. The nature of existential threats, though, generally follows a predictable game theoretic impasse: if you try to kill me, I will kill you. This simple stand-off of mutually assured destruction is the base reality for the cold-war model of nuclear deterrence and works in a great number of cases. But game theoretic dilemmas are generally subjected to artificial constraints in order to make sense of the decisions and dynamics at play whereas, in reality, a given dilemma may be plottable through game theoretic lenses but is far more complex than a simple prisoner’s dilemma can contain. For example, a base prisoner’s dilemma intentionally ignores the possibility that the two individuals being interrogated have a deep bond of trust in which a Nash equilibrium of refusing to snitch on one another is virtually the only conceivable outcome. Many activists during the green scare refused to snitch on their friends in just this way. The classical prisoner’s dilemma did not take history into account at all until the introduction of Axelrod’s iterated dilemma in “The Evolution of Cooperation.” Trust can transform the dynamics of artificial constraint, but the development of trust in a game theoretic landscape is complex and contingent on the rules of the game. Subjectivities are a difficulty in game theoretic thought, but it can still account for mistakes and miscommunication in a “trembling hand perfect equilibrium.”  Although two guns pointing at each other might be the two-dimensional reality of many existential dilemmas we face, it can be opened to a transformative third option that changes the rules of the game entirely. Coordination and trust strategies in a non-zero sum game (a game with some benefit of cooperation, even if less than betrayal) represent this possibility in a simplified manner. The key to trust is that interactions be repeated, have a high degree of communication, and that there is a non-zero sum possibility. This creates reputation, an essential component of coordination strategies in game theory as it applies to real world scenarios.

In a game of chicken involving nuclear weapons, the possibility of deproliferation seems like a fantasy. As each side escalates, there is a clear incentive to strive to be the dominant force, despite the fact that every increase in power also increases one’s likelihood of personal devastation. And yet, it is possible to cool a cold war. The U.S. and Russia remain locked in a nuclear standoff, but the temperature is somehow vastly different than during the Cold War. The rules of the game have changed. The war games of nations and fascists concern everyone, even as we have little ultimate say in their direction. However, the more say we have in the direction of national leaders decision-making in this regard, the more the power of devastation has also been democratized. Currently the U.S. president has very little standing in their way from  immediately launching a nuclear weapon, but are you positive that a national vote on whether to bomb the DPRK would really yield a more favorable result? Scary as it may be, people must share the burden of responsibility, both risk and reward.

Anarchism is nothing if not compass points for ethics and coordination strategies orbiting around the twin principles of liberty and empathy. Disagree as we may on the details, the basic premise that coercive power should be abolished and personal freedom maximized is, at its heart, an attempt to change the rules of an existential stand-off. No matter how unlikely, or even impossible, the utopian strivings of anarchism may be, they simultaneously represent the paths through the long-term existential threats facing our species and its role in the ecological universe.

The New Man [sic]

One limited vision of this ideal is a deprecated stand-off wherein everyone has the power to destroy everything else but no one will. We live in a lessened version of this now where individuals do have the ability to cause incomprehensible damage, but, for the most part, we don’t and don’t want to. There are of course exceptions to this rule. Eco-fascist groups like Individuals Tending Towards Savagery have developed an information hazard paradigm wherein their utility function includes the destruction of all of humanity —of course with them being last to die. In their earlier iterations they at least claimed to be doing it in a misguided attempt to prevent ecocide, but, as time went on, their nihilism, either perverted or distilled, crystallized into a fetish for violence, and they ironically expressed a lack of moral motivations. Niche and minute as this group may be (despite reprehensible platforming by Little Black Cart and the Anarchist Library among others), they represent a perverse point of gravity in the study of coordination strategies to existential threats. They represent the saboteur free-rider and the failure of “The New Man.”

The New Man is a palingenetic mythos that posits a utopian human, perfect according to the discursive forces of a given paradigm. The concept has found tendrils in fascism, communism, liberalism, anarchism, and transhumanism. The New Soviet Man was to be strong, intelligent, selfless, hard-working, and, most importantly, loyal to the values of Marxist-Leninist thought. Despite the anti-utopian bent of much of Marxist thought, the New Socialist Man represented the hope, teleological fate, and indeed, the necessity of Marxist-Leninist (as well as Maoist, Trotskyist, and Juche) theory in the human realm. The Übermensch of Nietzsche was one who could reject religion “and install his own set of values which are ‘Beyond Good and Evil’… who could reject the ‘God hypothesis,’ who could look the truths of pessimism in the face and still say ‘Yes’ to life.” This Übermensch would “cease to be an ordinary human; such an individual would in fact become a Superhuman.” This idea was later adopted and distorted by the Nazis to support both a policy of eugenics as well as the creation of a class known as the untermenschen that they associated with all “undesirable” races and proclivities. The Fascist New Man is traditional in outlook, hyper-masculine and “alpha” yet stripped of all individuality in its service to the übermensch leader. What these and other iterations of the New Man represent are attempts at grappling with the difficulties of imposing a utopian or universal worldview onto the limited shell of human decision-making. Such is the cry of every visionary: “Things would be perfect if they were just different!”

Faced with the dilemma of human imperfection and its tragic effect on utopian schemes, many understandably turn to a pessimistic realism which favors a wide variety of gun-facing-gun style game theoretic standoffs as methods of curtailing humanity’s savage impulses. From such views are derived things like the Hobbesian social contract in which we surrender certain freedoms to governance allegedly in exchange for public goods such as security. Hobbes, however, did not have the prescience to foresee the hyper-information era we now live in where all of our greatest threats are completely globalized beyond the frail imagined boundaries of nationalism. We can’t fault him for not predicting the possibility of strong Artificial Intelligence with a utility function at odds with human interests, but we can recognize that the social contract is worth less than the paper Leviathan was written on. Overcoming our own internal existential threats is simultaneously our best hope for being able to survive an external threat such as strong AI– or a giant meteor. Hobbesian misrepresentations of game theory would ideally be worthless, but they’re the fodder for countless cruel and patronizing policy and laws corrupting our capacity for coordination.

Anarchism says that liberty is interdependent and relies on the many forms of empathy as a vehicle towards transcending our siloed outlook while protecting our rights to individual autonomy. Since liberty is interdependent, both our threats and possibilities transcend the shallow boundaries we’ve constructed between us and our environment. The Anarchist Man is a myth and our struggle for it an infinite regress. However, that very same struggle holds the weight of our entire future on its shoulders. If we cannot learn to ethically coordinate, then we will not pass the coming tests for our species. If we can’t play nice, then we will die and destroy literally everything. Alternatively, as we transcend each level of existential dilemmas, we create a new playground of freedom and responsibility.

Longview Anarchism as Distinct and Common

“In every deliberation, we must consider the impact on the seventh generation… even if it requires having skin as thick as the bark of a pine.”

– Constitution of the Iroquois Nations

The notion of planning far in advance and learning from history are, of course, not novel concepts. The notion of a longview is written into the cosmology of a great number of indigenous traditions and worldviews. In fact many more collectivist leaning societies such as China historically have much more of a longview, both past and present than the United States. The relationship of Buddhism to this view of time is noteworthy. The discussion of ancestors in many African traditions resembles a similar attempt to honor the past and prepare for the future. Longview anarchism descends from these understandings while diverging, at times dramatically, from their conclusions.

There are languages themselves which lack definitive concepts of the Western vision of now. In contrast, longview anarchism does not demand a rejection of the continued present. In fact a temporal granularity and a relevance to the moment is necessary. Anarchism as a broad and nebulous field attempts to deal with a wide variety of issues both immediate and meta in nature. These many threads are attempts, however wonky and at times misguided, to navigate towards a future in which we can adapt, survive, and perhaps even thrive.

These adaptations will take infinite forms throughout our species’ continued evolution, possibly even beyond our current Sapiens form. After all, to have a stand-off with strong AI we would have to either posses equal ability or remain a non-threat (or aid) to its internal utility function. Though we will never be The New Man, much less the Transhumanist New Man, the progress of individuals on the many planes of anarchist liberation are to become invaluable gifts to the people of the future, who will face ever greater challenges on the journey to anarchist freedom.

Technology creates complexity which presents a clear path towards decentralization of power. It is no coincidence that internet freedom radicals are hunted voraciously by authoritarian regimes while secure communication channels and access to the free internet are repressed. This is because information is valuable. The withholding of information is a strategy of domination especially when access to information clears paths of freedom— either to destroy or to create. Governments cannot repress or prohibit technology. USB drives full of western TV shows are smuggled into DPRK and the history of drug laws shows that prohibition of anything, much less knowledge, yields an opposite and magnified effect. Information is subject to the laws of entropy which hold far greater sway than any national law ever could. Tyrants continue to use advances in technology to secure greater access to hegemony, but sentience hunts for cracks and anomalies. Curiosity will kill the king.

Anarchism that takes a longview demands that we recognize these tendencies of freedom and shift our star maps accordingly. Beyond the deprecated stand-off described in the section above, another ideal emerges —a world not where everyone could kill everyone and doesn’t but a world where every sentient node has absolute power over their domain and the complete inability to coercively remove power from another. Killing another is, of course, removing one’s most basic freedom of life, and, as such, an anarchism that does not seek a transcendence to this power play is short-sighted. Although we must play the cursed game of existential prisoner’s dilemma, it should only be as a path to towards transcendence. Transcendent thinking changes the rules of the game.

But this negative freedom is only the first step in a realization of the necessary path to our collective and individual liberation. This third path of the great existential standoff is only a stepping stone. Anarchism, taken to its logical conclusions, suggests that we have the power to contribute to each other’s freedom, not just to cease to reduce it. This type of power, the power to ethically coordinate in a non-zero sum game, is the beating, raw heart of anarchist striving and the only path for our continued evolution.

Anarchism that does not have this absolute interdependent freedom as its end goal only approaches anarchism, but dares not gaze directly into its fiery soul.

It requires “skin as thick as the bark of a pine” to face the precipice of our fragility and choose flight, but we can do it. In a sense we do it every day when we ward off the ethereal existential dread that is presented by our dilemmas. Anarchism that takes a longview says not only that we have to face this, but also that, despite our monumental tragedy and failures both past and future, we have made it this far, which is a testament to our capacity to take another step forward into the universe — caminar preguntando. This is far from a demand for perfection nor is it intended to be a clear outline but rather a plea for curiosity and a recognition of the scale of importance of this project that we all hold, like a delicate yet nourishing seedling in our chests. It’s possible to both resist and to cooperate. Freedom is our only choice.

Edited for mb3-org.com

TOTW: Bullshit Jobs and Anarchist Integrity

How does one make a living in this world and still have some kind of integrity as an anarchist? Usually this means handling money, and often that means having a job, and most likely that job is bullshit. But of course, none of this necessarily has to be the case.

Various sub-philosophies within anarchism have been advocated for how to do this, namely Illegalism (stealing for a living), Agorism (black market businesses), Rewilding (hunting & gathering) and Communalism (living & working on communes). But even though these approaches exist, very few anarchists seem to actually practice this. And those who do practice it don’t tend to do it for very long or they treat it as a kind of side-hobby to engage in on their free time off of work (i.e., that which really pays the bills).

And then on the other end of the spectrum, there are the ways of making a living that are absolutely off-limits for anarchists. Usually these are considered to be jobs in law enforcement, the military and being a prison guard. Sometimes the sphere of forbidden jobs is expanded to include anything where one is employed by a government or where one is a boss who has the ability to fire & hire other people. But even with that, there are anarchists out there who have those kinds of jobs. So the zone where one can lose one’s anarchy card based on one’s profession then gets to be a bit murky.

So between these two extremes, pristine revolutionary purity on the one hand and complete hypocritical douchebaggery on the other, how do we navigate life in this world dominated by capitalism and statism, maintain some sense of dignity and integrity as anarchists, and still reliably get food on our tables and keep a roof over our heads? (and once you’ve figured that out please put in a good job reference for us)

Source: https://anarchistnews.org/content/totw-bullshit-jobs-and-anarchist-integrity

Edited for mb3-org.com

外卖小哥好欺负?全欧洲的送餐员已经联合起来了!

Mass strike of precarious couriers, Milan 2017. Credit: Deliveroo Strike Raiders

外卖骑手的斗争精神在这场横跨欧洲的罢工中被解放出来,本应弱小、无力的工人,如今用激进、直接的行动表达着他们对资本的敌意。

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sjzc

2016年夏天,伦敦Deliveroo(与下文UberEats、Foodora均为国外线上外卖送餐平台——译者注)工人的罢工首次证明了送餐平台的工人有能力进行大规模的集体行动。罢工从Deliveroo蔓延到了UberEats,然后传遍英国。一年后,这场斗争已经跨越国境。送餐平台的工人们现已在英国、意大利、法国、西班牙和德国等超过十个城市举行了罢工。

虽然他们的斗争喜忧参半,但这场运动却让我们看到,一个跨国的零工运动从看起来最不可能的情形中出现了。本应弱小、无力的工人,如今用激进、直接的行动表达着他们对资本的敌意。这个跨国斗争的蔓延,展现了包括外卖工人的这类“新型工人阶级”带来的斗争力量和新的机遇。

从英国开始

当伦敦的Deliveroo工人被告知,他们的合同将从时薪制(每小时7英镑)外加每单的奖励(1英镑)转成计件制(每送一单3.75英镑)时,罢工运动便开始了。七个不同区域的外卖工人通过非正式联络网迅速被动员起来。数以百计的骑手进行了为期一周的罢工。这次行动迫使公司允许罢工的骑手自由选择报酬方式,并也为以后的争端埋下了伏笔。

在伦敦的首轮行动消停时,两个工会参与到了Deliveroo外卖骑手的组织中。一个于2013年独立出来的小工会,“大不列颠独立工人”(The Independent Workers of Great Britain,IWGB)与在夏季的罢工中心——伦敦卡姆登(Camden)的工人联合起来。同时,“世界产业工人”(The Industrial Workers of the World,IWW)则与全国范围内的,尤其是在布里斯托(Bristol)和利兹(Leeds)的工人组织联系。在政治团体“Plan C”的支持下,一个自组织的Deliveroo工人简报,《Rebel Roo》(意为“反抗Deliveroo”),也开始被制作出来。

伦敦以外的组织和行动每月都在不断地升级着。在布里斯托,Deliveroo负责培训的工人开始了罢工并且取得了胜利。一些工会随即建立起来,在布莱顿(Brighton)也开始了由低工资引起的罢工,在利兹的工人也团结一致组织了起来。到了二月,《Rebel Roo》的发行量涨到了每月1500份(发行量占全国总工人数的10%)。在巴斯、米德尔斯堡、利物浦、朴茨茅斯、曼彻斯特和格拉斯哥这样政治多样化的城市也开始出现了一些组织。去年二月,运动中的关键人物在伦敦的“跨国社会罢工平台”(Transnational Social Strike Platform)的集会上汇集、讨论。运动似乎即将到达高潮。

当利兹的七名工人遇害时,IWW正在热切地推动全国的罢工行动,但是有些人却对这个行动是否会继续扩大持怀疑态度,因为全国罢工的势头有些下落。利兹和布莱顿的斗争虽然获得了显著的胜利,但未能扩展到全国。受害的利兹工人恢复原职,加害他们的经理被解雇,布莱顿的工人保住了工作,但是运动整体却走向了低谷。在布莱顿,骑手们进一步与其他零工组成联盟,进行了一场“零工五·一”(“Precarious Mayday”)示威。虽然有了这些积极的步伐,但是这场运动的大势已去。

为了应对这场罢工,Deliveroo公司在特定地方区域做出了显著的让步,上涨了平均工资,但重要的是,这些让步措施都是通过App的算法来实现,并没有体现在真正的合同上。慢慢地,英国最有组织的区域中的罢工运动逐渐平息。面对着工人的撤退,IWGB工会转而寻求使用法律渠道,来挑战Deliveroo公司规避其对工人的法律义务的行为。这场斗争还在上演,而且已经得到英国工党的左翼领导层支持。

运动的扩散

伦敦罢工之后,组织活动便蔓延开来。突然之间,横跨欧洲的工人开始行动。2016年10月,在意大利图灵(Turin),Foodora公司的骑手进行了第一次动员。当公司试图把他们的时薪制(每小时5.4欧)改为计件工资制(每次2.7欧)时,Foodora里的一百多名工人中有一半进行了罢工。他们与其他社会运动团体组成了一场单车集会,绕城罢工示威。他们运动的诉求集中在单车与数据的成本、与米兰同等的时薪、以及带薪病假和带薪休假等一些雇员的权利。他们也在全国集体劳动合同中说明了包括最低工资标准在内的一些其他的诉求。

骑手与斗志旺盛的工团主义工会Si Cobas组织起来,并且成功在合同中赢得了快递费1.10欧元的增长,使其达到了3.60欧元。然而,在这个显著的胜利之后,15名最主要的组织工人被解除劳动关系,一次大型的公司招聘则又稀释了劳工的组织性。再加上公司为了平息骑手而在送餐App做出的让步,Foodora的反攻成功地阻止了进一步的运动。

相比于英国和意大利,法国的罢工要明显地更加随意一些,骑手的罢工运动没有公开的组织协调,让人猝不及防。这个混乱的情况使得平台管理层感到了恐慌,当马赛(Marseilles)的骑手在一家热门餐馆外罢工抗议时,Deliveroo甚至威胁要叫警察出面来处理。

2017年4月,自由工人工会(Free Workers Union,FAU)在德国柏林将送餐平台工人了组织起来。他们的诉求是:透明的工作时间、足以维生的工时、每单增加1欧元、以及带薪的每周一小时轮班。正是在这里,罢工运动首次将多个送餐平台的工人联合了起来。在5月发生了第一场抗议,80多名Deliveroo和Foodora的工人联合起来举行了示威,要求谈判。六月在Deliveroo和Foodora的总部,差不多同样人数的工人参加了第二场抗议。持续的施压迫使Foodora在柏林同意与FAU工会进行谈判,但Deliveroo仍不妥协。

西班牙则发生了最大规模的罢工。在这里,Deliveroo为了抵抗示威,解雇了13名主要参与运动的工人。然而,斗争仍在继续着,它进一步扩大为7月2日巴塞罗那、瓦伦西亚和马德里的Deliveroo工人晚上8点到11点长达三小时的罢工。工人的参与度很高:在巴塞罗那,230名工人里的150人参与了罢工。他们要求每小时最低两单,每周末保证20小时工时,以及结束公司对加入工会的工人的加害。

在意大利,工人们试图通过法律渠道获得谈判的机会来表达自己的诉求,并且得到了意大利左翼党(Sinistra Italiana)的支持。米兰也发生了动员活动,在7月15日,来自Foodora、Deliveroo和Giovo的工人进行了自行车集会罢工,他们要求带薪病假和意外保险。有证据显示,运动甚至传播到了欧洲其他地方——荷兰、奥地利和希腊等国的工人也加入了德国、意大利和西班牙骑手领导的组织会议。

为黑箱打工

不论欧洲哪里的送餐公司,它们都基于相同的基本商业模式。它们使用一个平台作为食物提供者、送餐工人和顾客的媒介。每一方都使用一个App与另外两方互动,而劳动过程则被“算法”管理控制。这意味着,他们大多数时候收到的都是来自一个自动化的系统产生的消息,这个自动化的系统被劳工学者特雷波·肖尔兹(Trebor Scholz)叫做“黑箱”(“black box”)。平台本身拥有的固定资产很少,它把所有的送餐成本外包给骑手,即骑手需要提供他们自己的单车、数据等等。不论怎么看,这些工人已经拥有了送餐过程所需的所有生产资料——除了重要的协调平台及其它的算法,而这些资料则完全被老板掌握。

这些工人是非正式的雇佣工,虽然不同的国家对非正式工人有着不同的确切定义,然而这些非正式用工普遍都有一个相同点:你是一名工人,但可以付你不到一个工人的工资。这是为了降低劳工成本。同时,非正式用工基本上成功破坏了此前工人运动的和社会民主主义运动的胜利果实。非正式用工是现有资本-国家关系的产物,而这种资本-国家关系也使得劳动力市场结构进一步改革,更加严重地压榨劳工:例如意大利伦齐总理的工作法、英国修改工会法律、英国的学徒身份和福利、法国的劳动法、德国长期地压低工资、西班牙2012年劳动法等等。像优步这样的平台经常使用从风投获得的资金去大力游说,以此改变法律和监管框架,并在这个过程中创造这种商业模式得以繁荣的条件。

这种跨国间劳工组织方式的相似性,使得送餐平台为了追求垄断地位和网络效应而进行的迅速扩张成为可能。但除了使得送餐平台迅速扩张,这种相似的劳工组织方式还使得平台内工人的斗争形式得以快速流通。

隐形的组织

意大利工人主义者Romano Alquati曾指出,没有工人斗争是“自发”的:如果你认为它是,那是你没看见酝酿斗争的隐形组织。

送餐平台的隐形组织的形成似乎有两个源头。第一个是来自劳动过程本身。零工送餐工人通过加密的即时通信App的群组,可以自发组成社区。他们在城市的中心区域或者常见地点的偶尔汇合,可以引起大型会议和集会,而由于缺少现场监督措施,平台无法控制这些集会;第二个源头是人们在2008年危机之后的主观经验。许多组织者和支持者并没有先前的斗争经验,而是在那个运动发生的特定时间,加入到了广场、校园和街道上的队伍中。这两股源头相遇,就会立刻形成民众组织。

这种民众组织使得工人使用非常相近的手段来与平台进行对抗。其中罢工是首要的手段,队伍中还有一些起关键作用的纠察员(flying picket)。他们主要采用两种战术:首先是运动中的移动路障和游行, 他们占领了街道,并且与工人阶级在工作场合之外的地方建立联系。这种动态过程往往能够使骑手倾听到民意,并且让社会运动聚焦于结构性的剥削问题。使用这种战术时,送餐工人的斗争就不可能被当成纯粹的“经济”问题而被搁置到一旁;第二种战术是劳工从工会中撤离。灵活的工人大规模地撤工,并在全市示威纠察,与其他骑手和顾客联系,并把他们吸引到罢工运动中来。各异的、本应无力的工人在街上与其他工人相遇时获得了力量。在这次罢工潮对劳工问题的关注中,都存在着这种动态的过程。

社会运动与劳工运动的组合,在法国反劳动法的激进街头示威中,甚至让送餐工人成为了侦察兵。他们的流动性和对城市的了解,使得他们在战术上智胜警察,以此反抗现存的劳工法律。

这种动态过程的实现,部分归功于工人们可以直接地运用罢工这种武器,而这种情况又是非正式的劳动关系造就的:当雇主免去了工人的法律保护,以便更彻底地剥削他们时,保护雇主免受工人影响的法律也同时消失了。于是,自发的罢工成为了唯一可行的罢工形式。国家对罢工和工人组织的传统镇压,已经不能再束缚劳工的斗争精神了,这导致罢工能够在没有大型工会参与的情况下得以快速发展并传播。

封锁一切!

这场不同寻常的送餐平台的跨国罢工,说明了所谓的“平台资本主义”的发展过程并不是没有冲突的。虽然阶级斗争还没达到可以改变行业发展的地步,但它已经有潜力成为改变行业发展的一个决定性因素。如果罢工潮延续,愈发连通、强大的送餐平台罢工有了增长,那么,被算法管理的非正式平台工人的组织就有希望进一步得到发展。

算法管理与平台资本主义都远不止仅存在于送餐行业中。超市和仓库愈发使用算法来决定劳动过程,而平台工人则涵盖优步出租车司机和亚马逊Mechanical Turk的普通劳工。如果送餐平台工人的斗争精神传播到这两个群体,那么欧洲由剥削引发的冲突将显著升级。目前有些迹象显示这种传播可能已经发生了:组织者已经准备着手在黑色星期五实施对亚马逊物流设施的封锁。这场平台经济内的跨国运动,对于之后对抗资本的跨国运动有很大的借鉴作用。

Source:https://libcom.org/blog/cant-couriers-zh

Edited for mb3-org.com

Don’t Extend Gang Classification, Abolish It

By: @jasonleebyas | Support this author on Patreon

After antifa clashed with right-wing protesters in Berkeley, Mayor Jesse Arreguin argued that California “should classify [Antifa] as a gang.” Later this month, juggalos – fans of the rap group Insane Clown Posse (ICP) – will protest their own federal gang classification in Washington, DC. Gang classification is commonly misunderstood. ICP themselves were originally amused and even emboldened by the FBI’s classification of their fans, since it seemed like a symbolic gesture. Indeed, there is a symbolic element. When people want juggalos, antifa, or any group legally branded as a gang, it’s partly a call for harsh public condemnation.

Like actual branding, though, the mark of gang classification comes with very real physical violence. Once a group is formally classified as a gang, police can extend that status to individuals through questionable evidence. In Arreguin’s state of California, a combination of tenuous factors like social media photos, physical presence in certain neighborhoods, and association with people already designated can be enough.

Consider the effect this would have with ntifa.

People who post antifa symbolism are ultimately making political statements, against white supremacists, the Trump administration, or whoever. Depending on how broadly “antifa symbolism” is construed, this could even extend to more generic anarchist imagery like black flags and Circle-As. Within activist communities, it would be easy to connect dots between any given leftist or anarchist and someone already hit with gang member status. This is especially true considering the diversity of “antifa”-associated activities, which can include non-violent methods like research and ostracism.

In short, classifying antifa as a gang would necessarily involve people getting listed as gang members based on political speech. Public support for antifa’s politics would be treated as affiliation, and that means more police breathing down your neck.

That increase of arbitrary police scrutiny has been a major motivation for juggalo resistance to their own classification. Once the FBI declared them a gang, ICP fans across the country were aggressively profiled for their shirts and bumper stickers.

Not only does gang classification mean more police breathing down your neck, it means more reason for their breath to make your skin crawl. When someone accused of a crime is also marked as a “gang member,” sentence enhancement laws can go into effect, meaning they can do more time for an otherwise identical crime.

All this is especially disturbing in connection to other features of gang classification systems. For instance, only within the past few years has California required parent notification for minors placed on the CalGang database. Adults still have no right to notification. There is also no serious oversight leading to countless inaccuracies in a life-changing database.

Not only would classifying a loose-knit political movement like antifa produce a chilling effect on political speech, it could also be used to legally break up activist communities. We take for granted the legality of activities like walking through a public park or meeting friends for lunch. Those the state brands with gang member status can have those basic rights restricted through gang injunctions. In a case like antifa, this very directly means the state could ban the political assembly of its critics.

Outrage against antifa is typically outrage against the use of expressive violence towards speech and assembly. Antifa’s critics are right to reject that behavior. However, those who call for antifa to be classified as a gang also call for expressive violence towards speech and assembly. Moreover, the violence they demand is worse, because it is systemic, not isolated to particular skirmishes.

The practice of gang classification is already bad enough as it is, adding yet another layer of criminalization to the everyday lives of marginalized people. Consider again the fact that just being in certain neighborhoods can be a factor in identifying gang membership. Implicit biases already lead police to view poor, black, and brown people with increased suspicion, and gang classification formalizes that into explicit law. Combined with sentence enhancement laws, this worsens the race and class impacts of mass incarceration.

Rather than extending the scope of gang classification to disfavored political groups and music fandoms, we should abolish the practice.

Edited for mb3-org.com