December 7th: Ten years later

From Daniel McGowan 12/7/15:

Ten years ago today, I was finishing up stuffing holiday cards for my employer when 2 beefy men asked me if i was indeed, Daniel McGowan. Once I was handcuffed and being frog-marched through the office, I knew what it was about.

At the same time, 6 of my codefendants were getting arrested at the same time. Others were receiving grand jury subpoenas as well. Sadly, all the people arrested that day became cooperating witnesses save for William Rodgers, who I knew as’Avalon’, who took his life in a county jail on the Winter Solstice, two weeks after we were arrested.

Of course, other arrests followed in the months after that, with a handful of codefendants refusing to play the game. We came together in solidarity to fight the charges and reduce the potential sentence as much as possible. For that, I will always have gratitude to Jonathan Paul, Nathan Block and Joyanna Zacher (though it would be disingenuous for me to not point out the latter two peoples’ identification with esoteric fascist movements currently).

I was bonded out of jail, fought my case on house arrest for a year and months after that, worked out a plea that did not involve naming names or becoming a witness against anyone. It had repercussions for me including more time and no protection from grand juries (and surely, two years later, i was called before one as a witness and put on civil contempt of court). That said, I cannot have seen it going any other way. My regrets with the case is that more of my co-defendants did not stick with us and move forward together-something that had been the idea when worst case scenarios had been discussed years prior.

10 years later, its obvious to me every time i go to any activist event that many younger activists do not know this history. I suppose it is the struggle we all face-how to remember and memorialize, but not live in the past and nostalgia. I can tell people to watch If a Tree Falls or read Green is the New Red (thanks, Marshall Curry, Sam Cullman & Will Potter) but that is an incomplete picture. How then, do we, move forward in our fight for justice and pass on to others what we learned? Its a longer question.

I use the word “I” often in this post and perhaps others as I am talking about the past but at no point have I ever felt alone and not connected to others. Without these stalwart, loyal and amazing people in my life, I know with certainty that things would have gone a totally different way:

Jenny Malone- my former partner and best friend. The rock. The Wizard of Oz behind every aspect of the support campaign and the ‘trying to keep me sane’ campaign. G.O.A.T.  EXES 4EVAH!

My family especially my sister Lisa who funded my legal defense, let me live with her while on house arrest and did not waver or flinch one time. These people taught me loyalty.

Family and Friends of Daniel McGowan better known as FAF.
This small group worked their asses off, put on so many shows, sold a zillon t-shirts, made my court dates, wrote articles, supported me mentally, emotionally and financially, put their lives on hold for some time to make sure I would have a life to come home too. So much gratitude to all of them. I am not even in touch with all of them, which to be honest, saddens me but I have nothing but lifelong gratitude for all of them. Shoutouts to Andrew, Ainsley, Eliza, Kitty, Corey, Sideshow, Cindy, Marianne and Ryan.

This article may be the best article I have seen on the topic though its quite dated. Check it out.

Write my codees:

Rebecca Rubin #98290-011
FCI Dublin
5701 8th Street – Camp Parks
Dublin, California 94568
Birthday: April 18

rubin

Rebecca Rubin is serving a 5 year sentence for her role in a series of Earth Liberation Front (ELF) actions including the arson of the Vail Ski Resort Expansion and US Forest Industries. She also participated in the liberation of horses and the arson of Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Wild Horse Facilities in Litchfield, California and Burns, Oregon. Rebecca is expected to be released in September, 2017.

 

You can buy Rebecca a book (or 5!) at http://www.amazon.com/gp/registry/wishlist/2EEY8SICPOC9D

Justin Solondz #98291-011
FCI Oakdale I
Post Office Box 5000
Oakdale, Louisiana 71463
Birthday: October 3

solondzjpg-184d7e27d46e0341

Justin Solondz pleaded guilty to conspiracy and arson for his involvement in the Earth Liberation Front (ELF) arson of the University of Washington’s Center for Urban Horticulture in 2001 and the Romania Chevrolet dealership in Eugene, Oregon. Justin was imprisoned in China for three years prior to extradition. His anticipated release date is 9/23/2017.

Wrexham, Wales: Reclaim the Fields – Towards a world without prisons

From Contra Info:

fire-to-the-prisons1

From the 28th August to the 2nd September 2015, the Reclaim the Fields International Action Camp drew over 130 people to Wrexham, North Wales, to resist the ‘North Wales Prison Project,’ the construction of Europe’s second largest prison. Held at Borras Community Protection Camp, a site camp established to oppose fracking in the area, the gathering sought to link land struggles with resistance to the prison industrial complex (1) and ongoing mechanisms of state violence and dispossession.

Connecting the dots

From Saturday to Monday, a comprehensive programme of workshops, discussions and practical activities took place. People connected the dots between struggles around the prison system, food sovereignty, borders, and other aspects of the world post-enclosures. Several workshops explored the brutality of the prison system, introducing the P.I.C., ongoing struggles around IPP prisoners, nonhuman prisons and how prisons relate to gender and queer struggles, and over the course of the weekend a permaculture design was developed for the camp and people began work on a herb garden, biochar system and solar panels for the site.

Never alone, Never forgotten

Throughout the camp several actions took place. In the evenings, folk took sound systems, megaphones, and other noise making instruments to local prisons determined to show prisoners they are not forgotten and not alone. HMP Stoke Heath, HMP Drake Hall and HMP Altcourse were all visited, with many prisoners shouting back and banging their doors. Chants like “If you hate the screws, clap your hands” rang out under a full moon.
As part of the International Week of Solidarity for Anarchist Prisoners, children at the camp made a banner for UK anarchist prisoner, Emma Sheppard. Letters were written and prisoner stories shared. Banners were also made for comrades on tag and repressive bail conditions who couldn’t make the physical gathering.

In the Streets

There were also highstreet actions, with folk leafleting Wrexham about the prison and how they can get involved in fighting it. On Monday a protest was staged at P&A Landscaping. They are the prison’s landscapers and have supplied several fences and materials to the jail. In response their public garden centre was visited and customers were informed about their role in prison expansion.

Day-long Blockade of the Prison

On Tuesday 1st September, around 20 people blockaded the three access gates to the Wrexham Mega-Prison’s construction site. This simple action was easy to co-ordinate, and with confused and unprepared police and site staff, had a big effect with very little effort. A queue of trucks were prevented from entering and exiting the site, including a huge cement delivery which had to be turned away before it spoiled. Simon Caron, Project Director for Lend Lease, begged protesters to let it in saying, “We’ve been reasonable letting you protest, please just allow this one to get through”. No one budged and vehicles delivering materials failed to enter. […]

Suppliers targeted regionally

As camp participants networked and bonded, regional groups formed to take actions against local targets in their own areas. One group visited the Gloucestershire offices of Precast Erections Ltd, the company supplying concrete blocks used to build the prison. More actions are planned. Contact your local group to find out how you can get involved in Community Action on Prison Expansion.

Solidarity Protest at the Court

On Wednesday 2nd, people from Reclaim the Fields supported a local woman, Vanda Gillett who had been charged with assault during the Barton Moss Community Blockade. Following a guilty verdict, anger erupted in her defence. The court was occupied and ‘scuffles’ with the police took place outside. Four people were arrested and people moved to demonstrate at the police stations where they were being held. […]

Due to the arrests and priority of station support, further actions in Manchester were postponed, however local people motivated by the anti-prison struggle are keen to continue to target local companies and delay the construction of this super prison.

Reclaiming the Fields, Reclaiming our Lives

Reclaim the Fields is a constellation of people and collective projects willing to go back to the land and reassume the control over food production. We are determined to create alternatives to capitalism through cooperative, collective, autonomous, real needs oriented small scale production and initiatives, putting theory into practice and linking local practical action with global political struggles.

This camp is one part of our story (read the UK history here). We are not a ‘campaign’ or ‘coalition’ or a ‘mass movement’. We are diverse people, projects and struggles converging and diverging all over Europe. The manifold of ways in which capitalist economics comes to dominate the land (whether that be through the construction of prisons, drilling for gas or the exploitation of industrial agriculture) implicates and connects us all. While gatherings and action camps can be politically limited, they are not the be-all or end-all of our work. They are points of encounter, a chance for comrades to meet and critically reflect on how these struggles shape our lives. […]

The gathering came alive through the work of an incredible group of people working collectively and horizontally. Numerous ex-prisoners and people who have supported loved ones through jail were present and moved by the experience. The passion and the hate for the prison system was very present and very visible. As was the desire for something more, for growing food, reclaiming land and living differently.

We will continue our work to reclaim our lives from the state, from our capitalist economic system and oppressive prison society. Until All Are Free!

Reclaim the Fields, September 2015

(1)  Defined here as the overlapping interests of government and industry that use surveillance, policing and imprisonment as solutions to economic, social and political problems.

love-em-hate-prisons

Our Palestine statement draws on history of Black internationalism, says organizer

From Electronic Intifada:

Black liberation movements in the US have increasingly been making connections with Palestine. (Mikasi/Flickr)

Black liberation movements in the US have increasingly been making connections with Palestine. (Mikasi/Flickr)

Kristian Davis Bailey is a Detroit-based writer and organizer who recently put together the “Black for Palestine” statement. More than 1,100 Black scholars, activists, students, artists and organizations have signed on, including Angela Davis, Cornel West, Talib Kweli, political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal and others.

The statement lays out a framework for Black solidarity with Palestinian liberation and calls for exploring the connections between Palestinian and Black liberation as well as the oppressive linkages between the United States and Israel. The statement calls for support of boycott, divestment and sanctions efforts against Israel and calls attention to Israel’s oppression of African-descended populations in Palestine.

Davis Bailey has written for Ebony, Mondoweiss, Truth-Out and elsewhere. I caught up with him to find out more about “Black for Palestine” and the opportunities and challenges it presents.

Jimmy Johnson: Thanks for taking the time to talk with me today. Please introduce yourself.

Kristian Davis Bailey: My name is Kristian Davis Bailey and I’m one of the co-organizers of the “Black For Palestine” statement. I’m currently a freelance writer based in Detroit.

JJ: Where were you before Detroit and what were you doing?

KDB: Before Detroit I was a student at Stanford where I was involved with Students for Justice in Palestine at the campus level, across California and nationally.

JJ: Can you tell me a bit about the “Black For Palestine” statement and the process of creating it?

KDB: The statement emerged out of two separate statements that I and my co-organizer Khury Petersen-Smith had organized last summer during the height of the assault on Gaza. We’d each found ourselves unable to publish our statements while the media would pick it up so we figured that this year we would combine our efforts to write a statement on the anniversary of the assault on Gaza which wound up being much bigger than what each of us had organized the summer before.

It is worth noting that some of the key signatories this year had also signed last year. The Organization for Black Struggle in St. Louis had signed on to last year’s statement before Mike Brown was killed and connections were being made to Palestine. Hopefully we’ll publish those earlier statements soon.

JJ: You bring up a good connection with the Organization for Black Struggle because the release of this statement is not only the anniversary of the attack on Gaza but also something going on in the US. Can you make that connection? Both your intentions around the timing of the release, as well as the connections you see there.

KDB: It was really important for us to note that the statement emerged out of the past year of solidarity between the Black and Palestinian struggles, specifically: connections people were making on the ground in Ferguson to Palestine. I think none of the developments in the past year would have happened if people on the ground hadn’t themselves started to organically connect what they were witnessing in terms of military vehicles in their communities, being tear-gassed and shot at during protests, if they hadn’t connected those things to what they were seeing in Palestine and if Palestinian organizers hadn’t reached out in solidarity to the people in Ferguson.

What the statement represents is how firm of a connection there is for organizers in St. Louis with the Palestinian struggle. It’s not just a slogan we’ve used at protests but something that people facing the brunt of repression and doing the majority of the organizing on the ground have decided to be a part of themselves. I think that’s why St. Louis is the most represented city on the statement in terms of organizational signatories.

JJ: It sounds kind of like the development and the recruitment of the signatories is really based in joint work that’s being done together.

KDB: Right. Most of the people who signed the statement, whether they’re individuals or organizations, have been actively engaging with Palestine well before the last year. There were a lot of old school organizers who have been doing this solidarity work since the ’60s and ’70s that signed on, in addition to groups like the Dream Defenders which over the past few years have started to engage more with the Palestinian issue. So, I forget what your question is but my answer is “yes” [laughter].

JJ: A Kenyan author named Mukoma Wa Ngugi gave a presentation a few years back at Wayne State here in Detroit and he was talking specifically about relations between African migrants and Black Americans and he talked about the way that white supremacy forms a veil that literally colors the relationships between these two groups but also between all groups, although the details are different for any two groups.

And one of the things he mentioned was that the only way to get past this is to put in work together to supersede and subvert this veil that colors the relationships between, for example, Black folks and Palestinians, Black folks and Arab folks. That sounds a little bit like what’s going on.

KDB: Again I’ll focus on St. Louis because that’s a story I know a little bit about. The solidarity organizing between the Organization for Black Struggle and the St. Louis Palestine Solidarity Committee has been going on for at least three or four years. The two groups both worked together to oppose Veolia being given a contract to privatize the city’s water, both recognizing what Veolia was doing in occupied Palestine and for the danger it presented to the people in St. Louis.

The Organization for Black Struggle was also crucial in a cultural boycott action. I don’t know how many years ago it was but it was Organization for Black Struggle organizers who said, “We will pull out of this event unless these artists are disinvited.” That was the work of very principled solidarity on the part of the St. Louis Palestine Solidarity Committee.

At the same time you have a Palestinian member of the solidarity committee whose father is a shop owner in a predominantly Black part of St. Louis and what he had been working on was to take all of the hard liquor out of his store after he was realizing the impact it was having on the Black community in St. Louis. He also set up a couple of initiatives to contribute some of the profits from his shop to local organizing efforts in the community.

I wanted to offer that as a real solid example of what Palestinian solidarity in the US, or not even solidarity but direct action against anti-Blackness looks like, and that’s an example of some of the principled actions and alliances that preceded the Ferguson-Palestine connection and solidarity.

JJ: This isn’t the first statement of Black solidarity with Palestine. Can you contextualize this action a bit in the internationalism of the radical Black tradition?

KDB: Definitely. So Black support for Palestine comes out of the tradition of Black internationalism within the radical segment of our liberation struggle. Malcolm X was talking about the dangers of Zionism in the 1960s. The Student Nonviolent Coordination Committee released its statement at the same time the Black Panther Party was training with the PLO [Palestine Liberation Organization] in Algeria.

In 1970 you had a group of prominent Black activists or scholars take out a New York Times ad supporting Palestinian liberation from Zionism and some of those signatories also signed our statement today in 2015. So there is a rich tradition of Black solidarity with international struggles broadly, and specifically with Palestine. I definitely contextualize this statement within that broader history of Black internationalism.

JJ: What would you say is the purpose of releasing this statement beyond a symbolic declaration of solidarity?

KDB: There are a couple of things. There is the suggestion that both Black and Palestinian people, and people around the world that support us, can join very targeted campaigns against companies that profit from the oppression of both groups, such as G4S and Veolia. Beyond that one of my individual hopes as an organizer is that this represents the current chapter of the Black liberation movement getting involved in the international arena once again to the degree that we were in the ’60s and ’70s. Because I think a lot of that momentum and a lot of those alliances were very intentionally targeted or repressed in the ’80s up through today even.

JJ: Some of the work being done to reignite alliances that were built between radical groups in the 1960s and ’70s, we’ve seen some attempts of that where there is a flattening effect. For example non-Black people of color using a people of color paradigm and erasing the specificities of anti-Blackness. Can you talk a little bit about the opportunities presented by “Black For Palestine” to engage not only Palestinian liberation but the specificity of anti-Blackness in solidarity?

KDB: Definitely. I’m glad you raised that because one of the points of reference I organize from is the understanding that white supremacy affects different groups in different ways here in the United States. So the anti-Black racism and the anti-Blackness that we experience and live under is of a distinct nature from the anti-indigenous or genocidal policies that indigenous folks here have experienced, is distinct from the experiences of non-Black, non-indigenous immigrants to this country.

A lot of times what happens is the differences between these groups are flattened out where we say “people of color” and we talk about how people of color are oppressed under white supremacy without acknowledging the power dynamics that are at play between our communities — so without acknowledging that every non-Black ethnic group or immigrant group in the United States is complicit in anti-Blackness or anti-Black racism.

One of the things that I hope comes up in discussions is a very critical examination of the ways that Palestinians — or just non-Black people in the United States — participate in anti-Blackness. So that for me represents a difference between joint struggle and maybe solidarity, where under joint struggle we acknowledge the different relations in terms of power between our communities and how that impacts how we relate to each other and how we organize.

So I think there’s a lot of room coming out of this statement for folks to organize around Arab anti-Black racism or for Palestine supporters who aren’t Arab to organize against their own anti-Blackness or their position as settlers in a settler colonial society.

JJ: One thing that stands out among many parts of the “Black For Palestine” statement is the phrasing that “Israel’s widespread use of detention and imprisonment against Palestinians evokes the mass incarceration of Black people in the US, including the political imprisonment of our own revolutionaries.” So can you expand upon this idea of the colonial, carceral state?

KDB: Sure. The first thing I want to talk about is how incredibly powerful of an experience and expression it was to have 10 currently incarcerated political prisoners respond to our call for signatures and sign the statement from behind bars. Their participation in our statement highlights the fact that they’re also a population whose liberation from the prison-industrial complex we need to be fighting for.

Also they represent the internationalism and revolutionary spirit that was intentionally targeted and killed from the 1980s onward. So their participation and inclusion in this statement is a link back to that era, specifically Mumia Abu-Jamal and Sundiata Acoli. Beyond that one of the things I’m thinking of about that line on mass incarceration is the need to abolish prisons.

There is different rhetoric around prisons in Palestine and here in the US but I do think they’re similar enough in the sense that we often don’t think of people arrested for drug crimes in the US as political prisoners but they are imprisoned under a very intentional political system that discriminates against them across every point of the so-called justice system.

The need to criminalize the existence or resistance of populations under settler colonialism leads to mass or hyper incarceration both in the United States and in Palestine and that prison abolition in that context is something we need to center.

JJ: What can Palestinian and Black people learn from each other?

KBD: From Palestinians we learn the importance of struggling for self-determination — a right that Black people in the US have never experienced, from our ancestor’s forcible kidnapping to this continent and the end of the Civil War through today. This is a right that Palestinians refuse to let go of through their sumoud, or steadfastness — and it is a right that Black people must claim as well.

The Black for Palestine statement highlighted the right of return as the most important aspect of justice for Palestinians because it cuts to the core of the “conflict” and is dismissed by Zionists and the US as “unrealistic.” For Palestinians to cling to and achieve the most “impossible” of their calls would be a boon to us, as we still fight for the “unrealistic” demands of reparations for our ancestors’ free and forced labor, or the abolition of prisons and the police.

The call for boycott, divestment and sanctions also models what it might look like for Black people in the US, across our varying political ideologies, to present basic criteria for us to exercise our own right to self-determination and to present basic actions people around the world can take to help us actualize our self-determination.

Our post-civil rights condition and the post-apartheid South African condition drive home the necessity for Palestinians to demand economic restructuring and safeguards both against decades of disinvestment and against neoliberal forces within the Palestinian political class. Full justice for Palestinians makes the case stronger for our own organizing in the US; full justice for Black Americans or South Africans makes the case stronger for Palestinians. I see each of these struggles as my own, because a victory for one group is a victory for us all. That is what motivates my work on this issue.

JJ: What kind of opportunities do you think “Black For Palestine” opens up for organizational solidarity with Black people in Palestine, be those articulated to the Israeli settler society or native Black Palestinians?

KDB: I think it opens up a lot of opportunities. One idea that has already come up as a result of the statement is bringing a delegation of African Palestinians here to the US so organizers can engage with them because too often they’re a population that gets erased from the narratives about Palestine within our own movement spaces here in the United States. And I know that there is already ongoing efforts between groups like the Dream Defenders and Black Youth Project 100 to connect Black and Brown people in the United States with the different African populations in historic Palestine, whether that is Ethiopian Israelis, Eritrean and Sudanese asylum seekers or African Palestinians.

This work is already happening so I think the statement is just another step for potential organizing between Africans in historic Palestine and Black people in the US.

ON (ROBBING) BANKS

Posted on SeanSwain.org:

From The Final Straw Radio

amd_dog-dayWe live in an inherently twisted society punishes those who rob banks rather than punishing those who them. This seems more than just a little bit unreasonable to me, given that the obscenely wealthy shouldn’t store all of their ill-gotten loot in concentrated places and then irrationally expect the rest of us not to have designs on divesting them of it.

Banks are the most prominent symbol of our culture’s blind adherence to the institution of property. The fact that thousands upon thousands of banks open up bright and early, six days a week, and close at the end of business with rarely ever a single robbery speaks to just how completely we are caught up in the delusion of capitalism’s legitimacy.

Some of the most famous figures in American history were bank robbers: Jesse James, Butch Cassidy and the Sun Dance Kid, Bonnie and Clyde, John Dillinger. Robin Hood is a kind of universal archetype, the model bank robber from an era before the existence of banks.

It’s both curious and appalling that we have these buildings all around us just filled with cash while many of us are barely scraping by and struggling for fundamental necessities. We routinely walk past these cash warehouses, with holes in our shoes and our stomachs grumbling.

A friend of mine, who was more often a successful bank robber than an unsuccessful one, shared with me his observation that, during bank robberies, police never want to catch bank robbers inside the bank. There’s an old movie called, “Dog Day Afternoon,” where two bank robbers are inside the bank when the police arrive, and the robbery turns into a prolonged hostage situation. Police want to avoid that, so, according to my bank robber friend, they never respond immediately. They’d rather let you get out of the bank where they can arrest you on the street, or chase you, or follow you with helicopters. So, that gives you some time to grab a substantial amount of cash.

Also, according to my friend, most bank tellers are trained to do as you instruct. So, if you hand them a note with instructions not to trigger the alarm in the drawer, not to include dye packs in the money bag, and not to put a GPS locator in with the cash, they’re supposed to comply. Banks don’t want tellers to defy bank robbers, get caught doing it, and end up getting somebody killed.

For a period of time in the late 1990s, bank robberies had one of the highest rates of unsolved crimes. Robbing banks was pretty fashionable. In fact, in the Cleveland area, there was one guy who successfully robbed several banks and in each robbery he left on foot. The guy didn’t even have a car. Authorities voiced a hunch that he was probably homeless.

Well, he was homeless when he started the crime spree, anyway.

I would suggest that in this modern era, BANK robbery is no longer bank ROBBERY. Consider: In 2008, when greedy banksters bottomed out the global economy, George W. Bush and his treasury guy, Larry Summers, who was himself an alumni of the Lehman Brothers/CitiBank locker room, decided the banks were “too big to fail,” and offered billions of dollars in bail-outs. They gave the banksters money that the government took from you in taxes. When Obama came into office, he got together with his treasury guy, Timothy Geitner, also an alumni from the same crowd of usual suspects, and they continued the billion-dollar bail-outs.

So, that means all of those banks that won’t willingly give you any loans have their vaults and registers filled up with YOUR money. So, I would suggest to you that it’s not robbery to take what’s already yours; it’s re-appropriation. That’s no crime. The real crime is letting a single bank get away with keeping it.

Think about it. To be successful, all you really need are pistols, ski masks, dufflebags, and an assertive sense of indignation. If we all did it, you know, like setting up an International Bank-Fund Re-Appropriation Day or something, the whole banking system would collapse. It would cease to exist. We would have a future without banks.

So, if you dream of such a future just as I do, I encourage you to act. After all, that dream is “too big to fail.”

This is anarchist prisoner Sean Swain from Warren Correctional Institution in Lebanon, Ohio. If you’re listening, you ARE the resistance…

“Beyond right and wrong” by the Conspiracy of Cells of Fire – FAI/IRF (Greece)

From 325:

faiInter Arma received and translated:

I don’t believe in the right. Life, which is all a manifestation of incoherent forces, unknown and unknowable, rejects the human artificiality of the right. Right was born when life was taken away from us. Indeed, originally, humanity had no right. It lived and that was everything. Today, instead, there are thousands of rights; one could accurately say that everything which we have lost we call right. I know that I live and that I desire to live. It is most difficult to put this desire into action. I am surrounded by a humanity that wants what everyone else wants. My isolated affirmation is a most serious crime. Laws and morals, in competition, intimidate and persuade me. The “blonde rabbi” [I.e., Christ or Christian values.-translator] has triumphed. One prays, one implores, one curses, but one does not dare. Cowardice, caressed by Christianity, creates morality, and this justifies baseness and begets renunciation. […] “Society, on the other hand, modest and clean in appearance, but horribly infected with gangrene throughout its body, makes me vomit, fills me with horror and loathing, kills me.” How I envy the great Bonnot! “Il me faut vivre ma vie!” (“It is necessary that I live my life” — from the known “defense” of the French illegalist Jules Bonnot)
Bruno Filippi

(Italian anarcho-nihilist who was charged with several armed attacks and was killed by a bomb he carried, on September 7th, 1919, when trying to place it to the “Nobles Club”, headquarters of the wealthiest Italian businessmen)

Beyond the right and the wrong…

For Anarchy
The most important and nicest things are spoken in the simplest way. Today, though, the reality of our lives is far from simple. So, we often note that the most complicated (and boring, at the same time) words the political delivery “specialists” and the “revolutionary” rhetoric alchemists use, the most uninvited their oversimplifications are. The theorists “rebels” construe the world through the tyranny of their “obvious truths”. Their whole rhetorical calcification and their wooden words, that lulls to sleep through their undeviating dogmatism, comes to transfer “social revolution” to a oversimplified version of the eternal fight between the “good” people and the “bad” state, between the “right” and the “wrong” fairytale.

But if things were that simple, why hasn’t this fairytale, for centuries, come to an end, with the triumph of the “good” and for all of us to “live happily ever after”?

Especially today, when power is not centralist and abstracted to the king’s throne, however, it is spread inside the transparent social factory, both our anarchist words and our actions ought to deepen more and tear the “religious” missals and the aphorisms of the “good” and “bad” and “right” and “wrong” lack of depth.

Power is not just unfair, bad and malicious, that the most we denounce, even violently, will draw back for the rebels’ right to come off.

Power is a social relation, a social hierarchical organization model, a way of life management.

In addition to its directorates and its officials, it owes its own preachers, its mentors, its advisers, its jesters, its armed defendants of course, its loyal followers, even its inside objectors – usurpers…

It’s not just a bad oligarchic elite∙ it is an intricate system of relations that defines our everyday lives.

We know, of course, that if you cut the snake’s head, the rest of the body, after a few convulsions, stops… Power, however, has proven to be more like Hydra.

This is why, while our armed targeting gathers its firepower on the heads of the managers of power and their uniformed mercenaries, our words seeks to blow up the social relations that give rise to power. Let’s keep in mind that the phrase “no one is indispensable” goes for the power, as well. If we don’t hit both the heart of the beast (armed attacks against the officials of the power) and the veins of the social machine (criticism and rejection of the submission mindset), then, maybe, soon, after every attack of ours, we will hear “the king is dead, long live the new king”. Because unless slaves, even when they revolt, deeply renounce the mindset of submission, they will soon wish to crown their new king, next to the corpse of the former.

This is why the Conspiracy of Cells of Fire, FAI/IRF and the “political” groups in affinity, that form the stripe of black anarchy, both in the proclamations following our attacks, and in our texts, use heretic – provocative words, that do not comply with the traditions of the revolutionary automatism of the dipole “good – bad”, “fair – unfair”… We always have the sledgehammer of rudeness available, in order to shatter the window of the good and innocent society and highlight its guilty silence and frustrating passivity.

Of course, through our criticism we do not aim to build the crystal tower of the “revolutionary” self-admiration. This is why we detest the conceit and the arrogance that we sometimes find in our circles, by people who are alternative artists of nothing, not anarchists of praxis.

Our aim is to disassemble the stereotypes and the prevailing morality that poison our lives, through the small and the large informal power representations (family, school, work, relationships).

Our way is challenge and not a political politeness that caresses the ears of the repressed ones audience, most of whom don’t even bother to read a proclamation. An inconvenient truth is more inelegant but it is also more liberating than a pleasant lie…

So, it’s not enough to talk about the “right” of the repressed ones, the proletarians, the people’s…

First of all, the “fair” and the “unfair” is a moral subjectivity of the reality impression. There’s no such thing as an objectivity scale that defines what’s right and what’s wrong.

Power and the capitalistic management of it, along with the armed enforcement of their truth, they have their own think tanks, their own arguments, their own culture, their own civilization, their own suggestion of a way of life. Power does not dominate only supported by the power of its arms’ barrels, but also (supported) by its persuasion and its propaganda.

This is why anyone who makes the mistake to talk about the “right” of the many, will have to be careful because the interpretation of the “right” as a quantitative measurement unit, will not… prove them right. The right of the many is often the right of the viewers, the consumers, the voters’… The anarchist struggle is not about counting participation, nor does it have to do with the majority’s right. It is something much bigger than the conflict between the “right” and the “wrong”… It is a constant war between different values, a war that bisects society in two parts. The one part is the world of anarchy and the other part is the world of power and organized tedium. In this conflict, several people, who are excluded from the privileges of power, poor and oppressed, stands shoulder to shoulder with their elite rulers’ interests. The mass is usually fond of the mediocre, the immobility of habit, the rigidity of prudence and afraid of the new, the radical, the unknown of insurrection.

The bureaucratic tense inside the official anarchism and its communist components use the rhetoric of the “common good” and the “just of the oppressed ones”, thinking there is a conscious proletarian class, which will turn into the basic ingredient of “social revolution”, as long as it has its ears caressed.

We, on our part, want to set the conditions for the creation of a confrontational anarchist affinity between groups, cells and individuals, which are will transfer the experience of rupture with the existent immediately, here and now.

This way, a dangerous enemy in the heart of the beast can be formed, aiming to the diffusion of anarchy.

For this to happen, we have to make the conflict with authority permanent, to create a short circuit in the neurons of the system, to exploit and expand the contradictions of society, to provoke social peace, to qualitatively deepen anarchist thought and aggressively upgrade anarchist action, to challenge law and order. to overcome the moral denunciation of the injustices of authority and to prepare the war against it by promoting the new anarchist urban guerrilla.

Here follows the strategic matter between the moral impeachment of system and the continuous attack. The biggest part of the anarchist milieu in Greece is usually navigating through the maelstrom of events resulting from short circuits of authority. Occasional demonstrations and sometimes conflicts in an anti-war demonstration, student marches, strikes. The recent three-year “drought” of social mobilizations caused the “drought” of violent clashes in the streets of the metropolis.

The people didn’t take the streets and anarchists were insufficient in creating their own autonomous collective violent actions. This is the result of a conscious and subconscious (because of a habit) strategy, which presents anarchists as the violent reflex of “the sense of justice” of the masses. There is, namely, a certain timidity for the anarchist attack to be organized and expressed autonomously without moral coverage from the masses. In fact, of course, there is no moral cover in large social protests either, as the mass of protesters is a diverse crowd, from which, some believe in peaceful protest, others are professional walkers and members of unions and parties, others are angry and want to clash, others operate as internal repression, others are not members of some group… The issue is that the strategy of social counter-violence as a moral justification – response of the oppressed, is not defined by us at a time when authority can set alternative questions and the answers of the masses can come, not as a rupture, but as consent to them.

So, by waiting for the next social explosion, the next rally, the next big march, we abandon our ideas and actions in luck. But even when the social tension takes place, in order for us to get lost in the riots, we look like stowaways who jump in the last car of the train, a train that others drive on different tracks from ours. Even if we derail the train it will soon return on its rails.

Obviously, in no case do we advocate our absence from the field of metropolitan riots whose context we do not define (student rallies, anti-war mobilizations, large marches), in the name of a supposed anarchist purity. Within these mobilizations we can organize attacks against cops, burn banks, destroy cameras, expropriate shops, break the peace in the metropolis.

All these are intense and pleasant moments that, however, when not accompanied by a wider anarchist plan, end up staying isolated moments and beautiful memories, that just wait for the next march to be repeated. They lose the overall perspective and the potential to sharpen the attack and to make the tension in our lives permanent. This is the result of not only the lack of operational planning, but mainly of overall perception.

The notion of moral vindication of social counter-violence solely in response to systemic anomalies (violence of cops, racist attitudes, employers’ “arbitrariness”, harsh laws) incorporates the denouncement of system (even with violent form) and prevents the passage from the defensive counter-violence, to the aggressive continuous challenge of anarchist urban guerrilla.

We, on our part, want to articulate and organize a proposal of continuous attack, a complete anarchist plan, an insurrection that does not stop when the masses withdraw from their protests, but continues to feed from its fires,to grow big and to be diffused …

We feel like the hands of our clock have stopped in the moment of attack. We do not now need neither a cause, nor the moral justification. We know that the ugliness of this world is only repealed when one acts.

Our proposal is to create an informal network of anarchist cells that will promote the continuous attack against authority and  society.

Many anarchists fear the word “organization” in the way Christians fear the devil.

Others misunderstand and confuse the meaning of organization with bureaucratic fossils of Marxist centralized organizations, central committees, hierarchies, simple members, constipated rules, obligatory moral guidelines, statutes and enlightened vanguardism… Others prefer the alternative ways, sureness, adventurism and safety of an anarchist lifestyle, rather than an organized anarchy and a dangerous internal enemy that attacks without looking for pretexts as the causes are more than enough …

Some will hastily become indignant, saying that organization kills spontaneity, individuality and desires…

Let’s say, however, what we mean by “anarchist organization”… Anarchist organization is the living mental and physical coordination of a group of comrades, in order to carry out a certain plan. The more complete that plan is, the more comprehensive is the relationship of group’s comrades while the commitment and consistency have as a measure, the power of desires to achieve the plan and not the discipline of a military duty. Each comrade is unique and independent within the group and through the collective life and action of the cell, discovers and releases more of himself. There is no membership card, but only the individual desire to take part in something genuinely collective.

Of course, organization is not an end in itself, it is the means to get where we want. This means that an anarchist organization, an anarchist cell, must keep its procedure under constant review, to develop its relations, to upgrade its actions, to sharpen its theory, so that it comes closer to the purpose of its formation.

It is only logic that within an anarchist group come up tensions, contradictions, anger and even potential departures. This is because every human relationship is confrontational, sometimes at the level of evolution and sometimes at the level of rupture.

The sure thing is that the existence of informal anarchist organizations and direct action cells fuel anarchist violence against authority.

Every anarchist group is a living war outbreak against the system. Through discussion, friction and composition within a group of comrades, anarchist action evolves, the threat of an organized internal enemy becomes permanent, the means of attack are upgraded, thought gets sharpened and the plan of the destruction of authority and the social machine is promoted.

We know no team can develop those associations of strength in order to decapitate the beast of authority and its products by itself. Nevertheless, even so, the comrades of the group, through their action, free themselves from the conventions of a world that wants us to be spectators of our lives. But if we want to maximize our action, satisfying more and more our desires, we can try to create informal coordination of individuals, groups and affinity cells which promote the anarchist urban guerrilla. The creation of such coordination is not subject, in any case, of the crucible of the quantitative centralism, which crushes the autonomy of each one of us. We are not interested in creating a central super-structure which will cause the creation of central committees and informal hierarchies. We are simply talking about coordinating groups and people looking towards the same direction. We are talking about the coordination of desires that become more dangerous when they are communicated and shared by accomplices.

The basic agreement within such an organization is the desire not to be a moment of truce with the enemy. Without, therefore, waiting for a favorable wind of social change to act, we decide to arm ourselves and turn our lives into a confrontational reality now. So we do not limit ourselves to the anniversary symbolism (this does not mean that we are absent from the days of wrath and vengeance in memory of our dead), we do not expect fixed appointments, waiting the state to get out of line causing the people to demonstrate, nor are we satisfied by opportunistic street fights with cops, in order to pretend that we’ve executed our “duty” to the struggle.

This does not make us arrogant to devalue everything from the balcony of an ideological purity. On the contrary, it makes us more prepared to throw ourselves in those battles that we will choose, even in intermediate social struggles, which we think are of interest (i.e. student occupations) without being disoriented by the circumstances.

The compass of organized expression points steadily towards the the intensification of the attack and the diffusion of our theory. The words “anarcho-nihilism”, “black anarchy”, “anarchist terrorism” are truly dangerous, when tested in the heat of battle.

The constant challenging of the enemy through autonomous guerrilla strikes (using the fan of the diversity of means, but with the constant desire of upgrading to armed guerrilla) and organized aggressive intervention to intermediate social struggles are part of the anarchist war. We say again, that the effectiveness of the strategy will not be measured by the figures of participation.

We want to create the possibilities of acting with people who feel stifled in the social cages imposed on them by authority and want to rebel… Our joy is great in any such new meeting with new comrades who bear the sign of complicity. No matter their numbers … What is important is that the effort is worth it…

“I am not led by the will of the masses. Nor do I mourn for the sorrows of the people. I never accepted the fate of the slave that was prepared for me, I didn’t speak their language, nor imitated their look. I refused to be with the many. My demons never sleep… I always long for the unsatisfied. And when they set fire to the foundations of society, they don’t daydream on the ashes. They are seeking wildly for the next scarecrow of authority to surrender it to the stake. They do not get comfortable, nor do they rest, they want war with everything that haunts our lives.

They say that whoever loves debris, also loves and statues. My demons live in the debris because nobody can hide there. The material of which each of us is made, is revealed there. You will find me among them, where the battle is raging”…

Conspiracy of Cell of Fire – FAI/IRF

August 2015

To Change Everything US Tour Dates

From CrimethInc.

2change-everything

This Tuesday, our comrades are embarking on a two-month tour of the US, comprising fifty events in twenty-five states. Where our massive outreach project To Change Everything introduces anarchist ideas, on this tour anarchists from three continents will discuss their experiences acting on these ideas in a variety of struggles, movements, and uprisings.

There are still a couple days open in Southern California in late October. If you want to help us book those dates, or you would like to host future CrimethInc. tours anywhere in the world, please contact us at rollingthunder@crimethinc.com.

With the fall and the tour just getting underway, this is a great time to order a vast quantity of print copies of To Change Everything to distribute in your area. You can also get copies en Español.

Hope to see you this fall!

To Change Everything:

The Promise of Anarchism

An International Panel Discussion

This panel brings together organizers from Latin America, Eastern Europe, the Balkans, and North America to discuss the significance of anarchist ideas and tactics in the 21st century.

2changeThe participants will compare experiences from the wave of protests and uprisings that has swept the world since 2010—exploring the role of demand-based politics in both catalyzing and limiting movements, examining a variety of forms of repression, and critically evaluating experiments with direct democracy. They will conclude by assessing the prospects of contemporary struggles for self-determination in an era of globalized capitalism and state control.

All of the presenters are contributors to a recent outreach and dialogue project, To Change Everything, which appeared earlier this year in over twenty languages.

Here is an all-purpose flier design for the tour:

Color PDF [87k]
Black & White PDF [216k]

 

Tour schedule

Check this page for updates. Email rollingthunder@crimethinc.com with questions.

Tuesday, September 8
Chapel Hill, NC

Wednesday, September 9
Richmond, VA
Rag & Bones Bicycle Cooperative, 3110 W Leigh St.
7 pm

Thursday, September 10
Baltimore, MD
Red Emma’s, 30 W. North Avenue
7:30 pm

Friday, September 11
Washington, DC
Potters House
7 pm

Saturday, September 12
Philadelphia, PA
The Wooden Shoe, 704 South St
7 pm

Monday, September 14
Boston, MA
Encuentro 5, 9A Hamilton Pl
6:30 pm

Tuesday, September 15
New York City, NY
This is not our standard presentation; rather, a participant in the tour will join in a discussion about the squatting movement in Ljubljana and worldwide
MoRUS Museum Storefront
155 Avenue C
Manhattan, New York City, 10009
7 pm

Wednesday, September 16
New York City, NY
The Base, 1302 Myrtle Avenue, Brooklyn
7 pm

Thursday, September 17
Rochester, NY
Flying Squirrel Community Space, 285 Clarissa St.
6 pm

Friday, September 18
Buffalo, NY
Burning Books, 420 Connecticut St.
6 pm

Saturday, September 19
Pittsburgh, PA
Cathedral of Learning room 232, University of Pittsburgh
3 pm
Another event will follow in the evening.

Sunday, September 20
Columbus, OH

Monday, September 21
Cleveland, OH
Guide to Kulchur, 5900 Detroit Ave
7:30 pm

Tuesday, September 22
Toledo, OH
7 pm

Wednesday, September 23
Detroit, MI
Trumbullplex,
4210 Trumbull
7:30 pm

Thursday, September 24
Kalamazoo, MI

Friday, September 25
Grand Rapids, MI

Saturday, September 26
Milwaukee, WI
People’s Books Co-op, 804 E. Center Street
6 pm

Sunday, September 27
Chicago, IL
6 pm

Monday, September 28
Bloomington, IN

Tuesday, September 29
Evansville, IN
PG, 1418 W. Franklin Street
7 pm

Wednesday, September 30
Carbondale, IL
Guyon Auditorium, Morris Library, SIUC
7 pm

Thursday, October 1
St. Louis, MO
5 pm

Friday, October 2
Iowa City, IA
Public Space One, 120 N Dubuque St
7 pm

Saturday, October 3
Kansas City, MO

Sunday, October 4
Denver, CO

Monday, October 5
Boulder, CO
The Light House Cooperative, 460 S. 42nd St.
7 pm

Tuesday, October 6
Salt Lake City, UT
Boing! Anarchist Collective, 608 South 500 East
6 p.m.

Wednesday, October 7
Pendleton, OR
Pendleton Center for the Arts, 214 N Main St.
7 pm

Thursday, October 8
Seattle, WA
Seattle University Student Center, Room 130

Saturday, October 10
Olympia, WA

Sunday, October 11
Portland, OR
Anarres Infoshop & Community Space, 7101 N Lombard
8 pm

Monday, October 12
Eugene, OR

Tuesday, October 13
Grass Valley, CA
Banner Grange, 12629 McCourtney Rd.
7 pm

Wednesday, October 14
Humboldt, CA

Thursday, October 15
San Francisco, CA

Friday, October 16
Oakland, CA

Tuesday, October 20
Berkeley, CA
Long Haul Infoshop

Thursday, October 22
Santa Cruz, CA
Subrosa Infoshop
6 pm

Tuesday, October 27
Santa Ana, CA
El Centro Cultural de Mexico

Monday, November 2
Phoenix, AZ

Tuesday, November 3
Tucson, AZ

Wednesday, November 4
Durango, CO
1000 Rim Drive
6 pm

Thursday, November 5
Norman, Oklahoma

Friday, November 6
Denton, TX

Saturday, November 7
New Orleans, LA

Monday, November 9
Chattanooga, TN

Tuesday, November 10
Athens, GA
Bombs Away! Books, 295 1/2 E. Broad Street, Athens, Georgia, 30601.
7:30 pm

Wednesday, November 11
Asheville, NC
Firestorm Infoshop

[Spain] About comrade Gabriel Pombo Da Silva and maxi prisons

Translated by Act for freedom now!:

via:.lacavale.be

faltan-los-presos

A year has passed since comrade Gabriel Pombo Da Silva was transferred to the Topas penitentiary centre (Salamanca). He continues to resist the harsh experience of the deprivation of liberty (after already more than 30 years behind bars), but also various stratagems that the prison administration is continuing to come up with in the best of its interests and those commanding it.

Topas prison was created as part of the program of construction of about twenty maxi-prisons promulgated in the early 90s by the PSOE government of Felipe González.

At the same time, the left and socialist head of the AP, Antoni Asunción, introduced the internal directive governing the FIES regimes. So Topas prison has the characteristics of these new mass incarceration factories – in Spain, the number of imprisoned persons has doubled in 20 years, from roughly 35 000 – 70 000 between 1991 and 2011.

One of the criteria of this modernization consists of distancing prisons from urban centres, so Topas was built in the open countryside. This serves several purposes: to hide these wretched places as much as possible; further separate those imprisoned from their loved ones, forced to travel many kilometres for any visit – (?!) luck, unlike most other jails, Topas is located along a main road served by a bus route, a ‘luxury’ that avoids the collective punishment of expensive trips or forced marches.

The distance is also intended to reduce demonstrations of solidarity in neighbourhoods as they once existed, especially when there is movement inside the prison, and to make escapes extremely difficult.

This program of new prisons is therefore the response to the waves of struggles, riots and escapes that rocked Spanish prisons regularly from the 70s to the 90s. Bringing together different types of detention inside them (remand, central etc.), these are maximum security prisons, equipped with automatic doors, increasingly sophisticated computerized control systems and a multitude of high tech devices among other things.

The size and architecture of these prisons makes it possible to lock up over a thousand prisoners in each of them, while separating them according to the requirements and experimentation of the prison management. They are in fact divided into separate autonomous buildings each with their own exercise yard, visiting areas and canteen. Any kind of interaction between the different units is carefully avoided, and prisoners have little way of knowing what is happening in the rest of the prison, which reduces the possibilities of struggles or even riots. To prevent “dangerous combinations”, it is also very easy to move a prisoner from one building to another without the need for a transfer to another jail – even if dispersion remains an effective way to punish prisoners and their relatives. After 5 transfers since arriving in Spain, Gabriel for example has already been able to discover 5 different internal modules in Topas. This organization based both on massification and atomization contributes to continuing the dirty war by breaking bonds of solidarity or encouraging rivalries and entanglements in a context of emotional and economic misery. To add a layer to the hardship and the struggle for survival, the latest find to date in Topas has been to reduce visits to two a month, to be conducted only by family or a lawyer …

Parallel to this architectural model the modern concept of scientific treatment of prisoners is also being developed. Contemporary guinea pigs, they are classified according to a long list of regimes, degrees and phases. This cataloguing is extremely precise and is carried out by a whole range of specialists (so-called “technical teams” or “trucologues [trickalogues]” as Gabriel quips, who refuses to submit to their examinations: psychologists, sociologists, educators and other social workers … ) according to essentially behavioural and disciplinary criteria.

What carries the sweet name of “individualized treatment” amounts to scrutinizing the behaviour of each prisoner to establish their profile and the treatment to be applied to them. To put it bluntly, it is a question of hitting where it hurts – knowing that this bureaucracy is also critical for exit permits and conditional liberty. All this obviously goes towards constituting huge databases and tighter control.

Beyond the regular interrogations required by these battalions of experts, daily monitoring is ensured through various means: the system of ubiquitous cameras and incident reports distributed by the screws are unfortunately often supported by the effective control of fellow prisoners.

The so-called modules of “maximum respect” of so-called “life in common” are an extreme example of this co-management. The prisoners who enter them actually undertake to respect and ensure others’ respect not only of the prison rules, but a bonus code of conduct developed for the division itself. Under cover of assessment assemblies, they are actively involved in their own imprisonment and the reign of the equilibrium that tends to generalize, that is what rehabilitation means…

Of course, the whole system functions on the strategy of carrot and stick: rewards for those who show proof of their good will with regard to the prison administration in various ways, while the closed regimes, isolation and most FIES regimes are intended to punish “conflictual” prisoners and endorse the diagnosis or prognosis of social dangerousness.

FIES 3 awaited comrades Francisco and Mónica from the start of their incarceration. Gabriel, for his part, was put in FIES 5 while he was in A Lama, and this decision has already been renewed several times by the Topas administration. Noelia Cotelo, also considered a rebel, arrive at Topas in turn, where she was immediately put in solitary confinement. She is still in FIES 5. Among other special measures, it implies that all written and verbal communications are read, photocopied, listened to and recorded and can be censored based on criteria such as the vaguest “subversive content” or “endangering security or the proper functioning of the jail.” As it happens, for the comrade it is almost all the publications of an anarchist nature that are retained, even when they meet the mandatory selective criteria of having an ISBN number and mention of the printer. Hence her request not to send letters with this kind of post as they are totally denied. Her correspondence is also subject to the limitation of two letters to be sent per week, not counting delays or “unexplained” disappearances of letters, in order to silence and isolate her most likely.

The supervising judge of the region responded to the appeal sent by Gabriel by confirming his placement in FIES, with this sentence, that does not lack flavour: “It appears from the reports received and the content of the monitoring of calls made since he has been in this detention centre that he continues to carry out an anarchist and anti-system struggle against the regime and the institutions, encouraging his relatives and friends to fight.” This speaks volumes about what the State expects from the comrade: to renounce what he believes in and what he is; harassment and dirty games involving his release date (legal recourse is still ongoing) probably intended for this and obviously failed.

The functioning and function of prison reminds us yet again that it is a denser reflection of the society that produces and needs it. From the lowest to the highest levels, the wheels that maintain the institutions and the established order, need and demand the submission of the many. It’s about breaking individuals and eliminating possibilities of struggle. Consent can be bought with shots of good and bad points, crumbs, legal and illegal drugs or it can be snatched with the most direct violence, because all means are valid in the eyes of the powerful, democratic or not.

The “humanization” of prisons sold by power and media propaganda actually conceals the attempt at depersonalisation and total dispossession, just as their alleged “social peace” is merely a more or less covert war.

Outside as inside, it’s these gears that need to be broken, along with all the physical, technological and psychological chains. Only revolt and the struggle will finish with relations based on domination and satisfy our desires for freedom.

Down with the prison society, the State and all authority!

August 2015

anarchist solidarity

To write to the comrade:

Gabriel Pombo Da Silva
CP-Topas Salamanca
Ctra N-630, km 314
37799 Topas (Salamanca)
Spain

Building autonomy in Turkey and Kurdistan: an interview with Revolutionary Anarchist Action

From Corporate Watch:

dafIn May this year, Corporate Watch researchers travelled to Turkey and Kurdistan to investigate the companies supplying military equipment to the Turkish police and army. We talked to a range of groups from a variety of different movements and campaigns

Below is the transcript of our interview with three members of the anarchist group Devrimci Anarşist Faaliyet (DAF, or Revolutionary Anarchist Action) in Istanbul during May 2015. DAF are involved in solidarity with the Kurdish struggle, the Rojava revolution and against ISIS’ attack on Kobane, and have taken action against Turkish state repression and corporate abuse. They are attempting to establish alternatives to the current system through self-organisation, mutual aid and co-operatives.

The interview was carried out in the run-up to the Turkish elections, and touches on the election campaign by the HDP, the pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party. Soon after the interview took place, the HDP passed the threshold of 10% of the total vote needed to enter the Turkish parliament.

The DAF members – who all preferred to remain anonymous – began the interview by talking about the history of anarchism in the region:

DAF: We want to underline the relationship between the freedom struggle at the end of Ottoman times and the freedom struggles of Kurdistan.

In Ottoman times anarchists organised workers’ struggle in the main cities: Saloniki, Izmir, Istanbul and Cairo. For example [the Italian anarchist, Errico] Malatesta was involved in organizing industrial workers in Cairo. The freedom struggles of Armenia, Bulgaria and Greece had connections with anarchist groups. Alexander Atabekian, an important person in the Armenian freedom struggle, was an anarchist, translating leaflets into Armenian and distributing them. He was a friend of [the Russian anarchist, Peter] Kropotkin and distributed Kropotkin’s anarchist leaflets.

We are talking about this as we want to underline the importance of freedom struggles and to compare this to the importance of support for the Kurdish struggle.

Corporate Watch: What happened to anarchists after the Ottoman period?

DAF: Towards the end of the Ottoman Empire, at the end of the 19th century, Sultan Abdul Hamid II repressed the actions of anarchists in Turkey. He knew what anarchists were and took a special interest in them. He killed or deported anarchists and set up a special intelligence agency for this purpose.

Anarchists responded by carrying out attacks on the Yildiz Sarayi palace and with explosions at the Ottoman bank in Saloniki.

The government of the Ottoman Empire didn’t end at the Turkish republic. The fez has gone since but the system is still the same.

At the beginning of the [Kemalist] Turkish state [in 1923] many anarchists and other radicals were forced to emigrate or were killed. The CHP, Mustafa Kemal’s party, didn’t allow any opposition and there were massacres of Kurds.

From 1923 to 1980 there was not a big anarchist movement in Turkey due to the popularity of the socialist movements and the repression of the state.

The wave of revolutions from the 1960s to the ’80s affected these lands too. These were the active years of the social movements. During this period, there were revolutionary anti-imperialist movements caused by the Vietnam war, youth organizations, occupations of universities and increasing struggle of workers. These movements were Marxist-Leninist or Maoist, there were no anarchist movements.

In 1970 there was a long workers’ struggle. Millions of workers walked over a hundred kilometres from Kocaeli to Istanbul. Factories were closed and all the workers were on the streets.

CW: Was there any awareness of anarchism in Turkey at all at this time?

DAF: During these years many books were translated into Turkish from European radicalism but only five books about anarchism were translated, three of which were talking about anarchism in order to criticize it.

But in Ottoman times there had been many articles on anarchism in the newspapers. For example, one of the three editors of the İştirak newspaper was an anarchist. The paper published [Russian anarchist, Mikhail] Bakunin’s essays as well as articles on anarcho-syndicalism.

The first anarchist magazine was published in 1989. After this many magazines were published focusing on anarchism from different perspectives; for example, post structuralism, ecology, etc.

The common theme was that they were written for a small intellectual audience. The language of these magazines was too far away from the people. Most of those involved were connected with the universities or academia. Or they were ex-socialists affected by the fall of the Soviet Union, which was a big disappointment for many socialists. That’s why they began to call themselves anarchists, but we don’t think that this is a good way to approach anarchism, as a critique of socialism.

Between 2000 to 2005 people came together to talk about anarchism in Istanbul and began to ask: “how can we fight?”. At this time we guess that there were 50-100 anarchists living in Turkey and outside.

CW: Can you explain how DAF organises now?

DAF: Now we get 500 anarchists turning up for Mayday in Istanbul. We are in touch with anarchists in Antalya, Eskişehir, Amed, Ankara and İzmir. Meydan [DAF’s newspaper] goes to between 15 and 20 cities. We have a newspaper bureau in Amed, distributing newspapers all over Kurdistan. Until now, it is in Turkish but maybe one day, if we can afford it, we will publish it in Kurdish. We send Meydan to prisons too. We have a comrade in İzmir in prison and we send copies to over 15 prisoners.

A few months ago there was a ban on radical publications in prisons. We participated in demos outside prisons and we managed to make pressure about this and now newspapers are allowed to go into prisons again.

The main issue for DAF is to organise anarchism within society. We try to socialize anarchism with struggle on the streets. This is what we give importance to. For nearly nine years we have been doing this.

On an ideological level we have a holistic perspective. We don’t have a hierarchical perspective on struggles. We think workers’ struggle is important but not more important than the Kurdish struggle or women’s struggles or ecological struggles.

Capitalism tries to divide these struggles. If the enemy is attacking us in a holistic way we have to approach it in a holistic way.

Anarchy has a bad meaning for most people in society. It has a link with terrorism and bombs. We want to legitimize anarchism by linking it to making arguments for struggles against companies and for ecology. Sometimes we try to focus on the links between the state, companies and ecological damages, like the thing that Corporate Watch does.

We like to present anarchy as an organised struggle. We have shown people on the streets the organised approach to anarchism.

From 1989 to 2000 anarchism was about image. About wearing black, piercings and Mohicans. This is what people saw. After 2000, people started to see anarchists who were part of women’s struggles and workers’ struggles.

We are not taking anarchism from Europe as an imitation. Other anarchists have approached anarchism as an imitation of US or European anarchism or as an underground culture. If we want to make anarchist a social movement, it must change.

DAF’s collectives are Anarchist Youth, Anarchist Women, 26A cafe, Patika ecological collective and high school anarchist action (LAF). These self-organisations work together but have their own decision-making processes.

Anarchist Youth makes connections between young workers and university students and their struggles. Anarchist Women focuses on patriarchy and violence to women. For example, a woman was murdered by a man and set on fire last February. On 25 November there were big protests against violence against women.

LAF criticises education and schooling in itself and tries to socialize this way of thinking in high schools. LAF also looks at ecological and feminist issues, including when young women are murdered by their husbands.

PATIKA ecological collective protests against hydro electric dams in the Black Sea region or Hasankey [where the Ilisu dam is being built]. Sometimes there is fighting to prevent these plants from being built.

26A Café is a self organization focusing on anti-capitalist economy. Cafes were opened in 2009 in Taksim and 2011 in Kadıköy [both in Istanbul]. The cafes are run by volunteers. They are aimed at creating an economic model in the place where oppressed people are living. It’s important to show people concrete examples of an anarchist economy, without bosses or capitalist aims. We talk to people about why we don’t sell the big capitalist brands like Coca Cola. Of course the products we sell have a relation to capitalism but things like Coke are symbols of capitalism. We want to progress away from not-consuming and move towards alternative economies and ways of producing.

Another self organisation, PAY-DA – ‘Sharing and solidarity’ – has a building in Kadıköy, which is used for meetings and producing the Meydan newspaper. PAY-DA gives meals to people three times a day. It’s open to anarchists and comrades. The aim of PAY-DA is to become a cooperative, open to everybody. We try to create a bond which also involves the producers in the villages. We aim to have links with these producers and show them another economic model. We try to evolve these economic relations away from money relations. The producers are suffering from the capitalist economy. We are in the first steps of this cooperative and we are looking for producers to work with.

All of these projects are related to DAF’s ideology. This model has a connection with Malatesta’s binary model of organization.

These are anarchist organizations but sometimes people who aren’t anarchists join these struggles because they know ecological or women’s struggles, and then at the end they will learn about anarchism. It’s an evolving process.

As DAF we are trying to organise our lives. This is the only way that we can touch the people who are oppressed by capitalism.

There is also the Conscientious Objectors’ Association, which is organised with other groups, not just anarchists. Our involvement in this has a relation with our perspective on Kurdistan. We organize anti-militarist action in Turkey outside of military bases on 15 May, conscientious objector’s day. In Turkey the military is related to state culture. If you don’t do your military duty, you won’t find a job and it’s difficult to find someone to marry because they ask if you’ve been to the army. If you have been to the army, you’re a ‘man’. People see the state as the ‘Fatherland’. On your CV they ask whether you did military service. ‘Every Turk is born a soldier’ is a popular slogan in Turkey.

CW: Is Kemalism [the ideology associated with Mustafa Kemal] as strong a force as it used to be?

DAF: Kemalism is still a force in schools but the AKP has changed this somewhat. The AKP has a new approach to nationalism focused on the Ottoman Empire. It emphasises Turkey’s ‘Ottoman roots’. But Erdoğan still says that we are ‘one nation, one state, one flag and one religion.’. There is still talk about Mustafa Kemal but not as much as before. Now you cannot criticize Erdoğan or Atatürk [the name used for Kemal by Turkish nationalists]. It’s the law not to criticize Atatürk and the unwritten rule not to criticize Erdoğan. The media follows these rules.

CW: Can you talk about your perspective on the Kurdish freedom struggle?

Kurdish freedom struggles didn’t start with Rojava. Kurdish people have had struggles for hundreds of years against the Ottoman Empire and the Turkish state.

Since the start of DAF we have seen Kurdistan as important for propaganda and education.

Our perspective relates to people’s freedom struggles. The idea that people can create federations without nations, states and empires. The Turkish state says the issue is a Kurdish problem, but for us it is not a Kurdish problem, it’s an issue of Turkish policies of assimilation. It’s obvious that since the first years of the Turkish republic the assimilation of Kurdish people has not stopped. We can see this from the last Roboski massacre [of 34 Kurdish cross-border traders by Turkish F16s on 28 December 2011] by the state during the ‘peace process’. We can see this in the denial of Kurdish identity or the repeated massacres. Making people assimilate to be a Turk and making the propaganda of nationalism.

The AKP [the ruling Justice and Development Party] say they have opened Kurdish TV channels, allowed Kurdish language and that we are all brothers and sisters, but on the other hand we had the Roboski massacre which occurred during their government. In 2006 there was government pressure on Erdoğan at a high level. Erdoğan said that women and children would be punished who go against Turkish policies. Over 30 children were murdered by police and army.

The words change but the political agenda continues, just under a new government. We do not call ourselves Turkish. We come from many ethnic origins and Kurdish is one of them. Our involvement in conscientious objection is part of this perspective. We want to talk to people to prevent people from going to the army to kill their brothers and sisters.

After the 2000s there has been an ideological change in the Kurdish freedom struggle. The Kurdish organizations no longer call themselves Marxist-Leninist and Öcalan has written a lot about democratic confederalism. This is important, but our relation to Kurdish people is on the streets.

CW: Can you talk about DAF’s work in solidarity with people in Rojava?

In July 2012 at the start of the Rojava revolution, people began saying that it was a stateless movement. We have been in solidarity from the first day of the revolution. Three cantons have declared their revolution in a stateless way. We try to observe and get more information. This is not an anarchist revolution but it is a social revolution declared by the people themselves.

Rojava is a third front for Syria against Assad, ISIS and other Islamic groups. But these are not the only groups that the revolution is faced with. The Turkish republic is giving support for ISIS from its borders. The national intelligence agency of the Turkish republic appears to be giving weapons to ISIS and other Islamic groups. Kurdish people declared the revolution under these circumstances.

After the ISIS attack on Kobane began [in 2014] we went to Suruç. We waited at the border as Turkish forces were attacking people crossing. When people wanted to cross the border to or from Kobane they were shot. We stayed there to provide protection.

In October, people gathered near Suruç, and broke through the border. Turkish tanks shot gas over the border at them.

From 6 to 8 October there were Kobane solidarity demonstrations across Turkey. Kader Ortakya, a Turkish socialist supporter of Kobane, was shot dead trying to cross the border.

We helped people. Some people crossed the border from Kobane and had no shelter. We prepared tents, food and clothes for them. Sometimes soldiers came to the villages with tear gas and water cannons and we had to move. Some people came through the border searching for their families and we helped them. Other people came, wanting to cross the border and fight and we helped them. We wore clothing that said we were from DAF on it.

The YPG and YPJ [‘People’s Protection Units’ of Rojava, the YPJ is a women’s militia] pushed ISIS back day by day. Mıştenur hill was very important for Kobane. After the hill was taken by the YPG and YPJ some people wanted to return to Kobane. When they went back their houses had been destroyed by ISIS. Some houses were mined and some people have been killed by the mines. The mines need to be cleared, but by who and how? People need new houses and help. We have had conferences and talked about how to help Kobane. There was a conference two weeks ago in Amed.

CW: What is your position on the elections?

DAF: We do not believe in parliamentary democracy. We believe in direct democracy. We do not support the HDP in the election, but we have links in solidarity with them on the streets.

Emma Goldman said that if elections changed anything they would be illegal. There are good people in the HDP who say good things, but we think that the government can’t be good because the election system isn’t equal.

In Rojava they do not call it an anarchist revolution, but theres no government, no state and no hierarchy, so we believe in it and have solidarity with it.

Can you tell us about the bombing in Suruç [we asked this final question by email weeks after the original interview

Over 30 young people who wanted to take part in reconstruction of Kobane were killed by an ISIS attack. This attack was clearly organised by the Turkish State. They did not even do anything to stop it although they got the information of the attack one month before. Moreover, after the explosion the Turkish State has attacked Rojava and made operations against political organisations in Turkey. Now there are many operations and political pressures on anarchists and socialists and Kurdish organisations. They are using the explosion as a reason to make this political repression on both the domestic and international levels.

We have lost our 33 comrades, friends who struggled for the Rojava Revolution against the state’s repression, denial and politics of massacre. There are people who are killed by state, ISIS and other powers. But our resistance won’t stop, our struggle will continue, as always in history.

Title picture taken from the Crimethinc website

Attack against Turkish general consulate in Zurich (Switzerland)

From 325:

In the night of the 25.8. to the 26.8.2015, we attacked a car on the terrain of the Turkish general consulate at the Weinbergstrasse 65 in Zurich with an explosive device after the Turkish state launched a massive attack against progressive forces in the region with cover from the USA, NATO and the Barzani clan in Iraq in the past weeks. We are in solidarity with the struggle for a free Rojava and the struggle of the revolutionary movement in Turkey!

After a long period of a strategy of tension and the massacre in Suruc on July 20th (where more than 30 comrades from different political tendencies died and dozens were injured), the Turkish state has launched an open attack against the progressive movement. On the one hand, this represents continuity in the collaboration of the AKP with the “Islamic State” and in the struggle of the AKP against progressive forces. Since the city of Kobane on the Syrian-Turkish border was massively attacked by the “IS” in the fall of last year and the military contention around Kobane and the liberation of the city became international focal points for the revolutionary process, it has been shown time and time again how the Turkish state aids the gangs of “IS” while those fighting with the YPG/J are hindered. This was shown exemplary in the treatment of the wounded from Syria. While those supporting “IS” could be transported to Turkey withouth hindrance and didn’t have much to fear, fighters of the YPG/J had to be smuggled across the border and had to fear being arrested while in the hospital bed. Recently, six YPG/J fighters were even extradited to the Al-Nusra-Front by Turkey! Other examples are the refusal of a humanitarian corridor to Kobane for medicine or food, the documented shipments of weapons by the Turkish secret service MIT to the “IS” or the obvious acceptance of recruitment centres of the “IS” in Turkey. In this sense, the attack in Suruc on July 20th (while Kobane was attacked in parallel with car bombs) which was only possible with the support of the MIT and other security institutions of the Turkish state in this city was only the consistent continuation of AKP-politics against the movement.

On the other hand, this attack was of course also an escalation, a qualitative change in the attack against the revolutionary movement in the region. It wasn’t the first attack by “IS” against progressive forces in Turkey within the context of a strategy of tension (for example the bombs against events of the legal HDP or the sneaky attack against Kobane on June 25th from Turkish soil), but in it’s quality and goals targeting the solidarity explicitly, this attack was different to previous ones. This is also shown in the subsequent actions of the AKP government after this attack. The massacre of Suruc was the kick-off to a broad attack of the Turkish state against all revolutionary forces (prior to this attack, the state attacked the movement via “IS”, now it attacks openly).

This broad attack is presumably driven by (at least) two motivations. On the one hand, Erdogans speculates that in a climate of war and fear the AKP will gain the votes necessary to introduce a presidential system of their liking. On the other hand, it is certainly also the case that a chance was seen to try to halt the revolutionary process in the region. Beside the geo-strategisch importance of the region as it is, where it is in the interest of imperialist forces to have forces in power that favor them (like the Barzani clan in northern Iraq), the struggle for Kobane and then Rojava has reached a political dimension which must be a pain for those in power. Because the struggle there shows that a perspective is possible which stands outside of capitalist or imperial logic. It is important to not neglect this dimension when trying to evaluate the current situation.

In this sense, it is only consistent when the USA and the NATO approves of the airstrikes by Turkey against Qandil or the attacks by the police and military against cities and neighborhoods with a strong presence of revolutionary forces. Not only because they were allowed the use of the airfield Incirlik in Turkey, but also because it would fit their agenda if Rojava were governed by forces like the Barzani clan, who have proven in their history to be loyal to imperialist forces.

Despite or maybe even because of the growing complexity of the conflict in the region, the fundamentals shall not be forgotten. The movement in Rojava is an emancipatory moment with an incredible power, it is not the time to stand aside but to support this path in solidarity. The same is valid for the revolutionary forces in Turkey whose strengthening has been helped by the experiences in the struggle around Gezi-Park and now by the inspiration from Rojava. Confronted with the attacks against them by the Turkish state which also consist of executing militants, we must of course support them.

International solidarity is practical and not dependent on seasonal fluctuation but driven by the necessity of actions because of political reference points and principals. We don’t stand here today and there tomorrow, but at the side of the revolutionary forces fighting for a society with socialist elements. There exist different forms of international solidarity, one was the support of the defense of Kobane through massive pressure from the streets of Europe, others are the support of the military struggle (as in the context of the International Freedom Brigade) or in the reconstruction of the destroyed cities (as was the campaign targeted on July 20th in Suruc, carried by the federation of socialist youth groups and bringing together different forces). Finally it can be a contribution to push forward the revolutionary process here and connect it to the revolutionary process there to advance together.

Solidarity and power to all fighters for a free Rojava!
Solidarity and power to all fighting for a revolutionary perspective!

For a revolutionary perspective

Corrections Corporation of America Acquires Re-Entry Facilities As Private Prison Industry Pursues New Business

From Shadowproof:

anti-cca

On Monday, Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) announced it acquired four residential re-entry facilities from another private contractor for $13.5 million. According to a company press release, the re-entry facilities each have about 600 beds and were leased by Community Education Centers, Inc. (CEC) to the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections and the Philadelphia Prison System.

CEC is one of the country’s largest private re-entry service providers. The company’s website claims “CEC operates in 16 states and the Commonwealth of Bermuda and provides a full range of therapeutic residential and non-residential re-entry services with a documented record of reducing recidivism.”

However, CEC has come under fire in recent years for deplorable conditions as well as studies that showed inmates that spent time at their halfway houses actually had higher rates of recidivism, contrary to the company’s claims.

An SF Chronicle investigation this past April found a teenage boy died in one of the company’s juvenile justice camps in Utah after his urgent medical needs were left untreated for more than a week. Another inmate died of complications from her pregnancy after CEC staff delayed emergency medical care in Indiana. Inmates at a CEC halfway house in Colorado claimed drug use and gang violence ran rampant, and staff gave participants candy if they “pretended to participate in programs when officials walked through.”

CCA’s long track record of abuse and mismanagement does not inspire confidence that conditions will improve under their management. Yet the issues facing private residential re-entry, like its cousins in the rapidly growing “prisons without bars” industry, are not as much on the public’s radar as private prisons — where for-profit corrections companies face intense scrutiny over their treatment of inmates.

This negative public opinion combined with falling occupancy rates for private prisons seems to be motivating the industry to sink serious cash into diversifying to other private penal services. Politicians are now warming up to so-called “smart on crime” reforms like reducing mandatory minimum sentences for certain offenses. Those reforms would cut prison populations and undermine private prison profits — unless the companies can find ways to get paid as inmates are released.

That may be why in 2013, for example CCA acquired Correctional Alternatives, Inc. (CAI) — a “community corrections company” — for $36 million. CAI specialized in “work furloughs, residential reentry programs and home confinement for San Diego County, the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) and United States Pretrial Services and Probation.” The company owned one 120-bed facility and controlled another a 483-bed facility through a long-term lease.

In January, GEO Group spent $415 million to acquire B.I. Inc., “a private provider of innovative compliance technologies, industry-leading monitoring services, and evidence-based supervision and treatment programs for community-based parolees, probationers, and pretrial defendants.” The electronic monitoring company has faced criticism in recent years for harsh treatment towards immigrants.

GEO Group has also expanded into the inmate healthcare market with acquisitions of Just Care, Inc. and Cornell Companies.

Bob Libal, Executive Director of the prison reform group Grassroots Leadership, told me “policies that reduce mass incarceration are inherently bad for companies like CCA and GEO Group. That’s why these companies are trying to branch out into the re-entry, community corrections, and other rehabilitation services,” he said, adding that it was a “troubling trend for those of observers that have witnessed 30 years of the industry’s substandard and dangerous conditions in these companies facilities.”

A 2014 report on the emerging “treatment industrial complex” put out by Grassroots Leadership and the American Friends Service Committee found the shift away from private prisons “creates the potential for a dangerous trend of ‘net widening’ — placing more people on stricter forms of supervision than is necessary, for longer than is warranted.”

These diversification maneuvers may not signal a complete shift in the business model of these companies because their real bread and butter continues to be facility management. “Their core business model remains secure facility management, and both companies are heavily invested in immigration detention,” Alex Friedmann, Managing Editor at Prison Legal News, told me. “While CCA’s recent purchase of the re-entry facilities is indicative of continued interest in penetrating the community corrections market, CCA is still dependent on contracts to operate prisons and immigration detention facilities — particularly on the federal level.”