To avoid technical problems, the page “What’s New?” has been split, so that everything before 2016 is now here.
A further comment on French racism
Recommended: Open letter to the proletarians in Greece, which, though fairly dry standard stuff, critiques the Argentinian experience of self-management from some of those who participated in it. “If someone tells us that occupied worker-run factories in Argentina are a liberating “empowering” experience for the workers, we can only say that the exploitation of human beings continues in these places of production even if they are run by assemblies, and they do not in any way call into question the development of capital. …The outgoing president Cristina Kirchner understood this well when she said, “Argentina is one big occupied factory.”…Tonight as the wind warns of an approaching storm, the need we feel for a full life makes us certain that there is no time to discover new ways to manage this world of death. We feel the need for a life free from everything that oppresses and destroys us, a life full of possibilities contradictions and desires. “
Ajouté: La lutte contre les prisons – une chronologie Ma contribution à la semaine contre l’enfermement à Montpellier.
Recommended: The Clash of “Communities;” the State of the Occupation at the 4th Precinct On the cop murder of Jamar Clark in Minneapolis and the ideology of “community”.
About the Greek conscript statement (see this ) – SK asked the following questions about this: “I’m especially curious to know whether this statement actually meant the signatories are engaged in some form of mutiny/insubordination and what the response to this has been. It does seem a bit crazy to enter into the army to attempt to stir up some sort of mutiny considering that these things have always been successful only when part of a spontaneous social movement connected to large-scale upheaval in the larger society. Still, it would be interesting to know if the anarchists at least attempted to make contact and agitate amongst conscripts? Is there not some sort of alternative community service type option to conscription as is the case, I think, in Germany? If not, surely there must be some movement to resist the draft, considering how unpopular the state has become in Greece in recent years? Then again, as Onselen pointed out re. SA, conscription can be an effective means of absorbing a population of young proletarians who would otherwise be in situations of desperate poverty, so maybe with things as fucked as they are in that country military service is actually seen by many as a lesser evil to unemployment or super-exploitative wage-slavery?”
Just got a response to this from a Greek friend –
1. I don’t think that the conscripts are involved in a act of specific
insubordination with regard to specific orders to hunt down
immigrants, because the Greek army is not so much involved in policing
immigrants during the last years. This is the job of the coast guard
and FRONTEX. Before some years drafted soldiers were used for the
policing of land borders but since the building of the fence the flows
through the land border with Turkey are much lower.
However, the act of signing such a statement itself constitutes a
violation of the army law and in that sense it is a respectable act of
2. Anarchists with maybe a few individual exceptions are campaining
against military service as such and therefore do not attempt to
contact and agitate amongst military conscripts.
3. There is alternative community service but it lasts for 24 months
(or 18 I have to check the legislation changes) and nobody opts for
that. Most of the anarchists, as I told you in the phone, get examined
by psychiatrists friendly to the milieu and get false medical papers
with which they can avoid service after 3 examinations within a period
of 2-3 years.
4. There are also a significant number of anarchists (maybe 20, maybe
more) which made a political statement of refusing the draft and face
legal persecution. For example, N. Maziotis started his political
trajectory in the milieu with such an act.
5. There is no social movement to resist the draft. There is a quite
big part of young people who avod the draft through the use of
psychiatric exams. Its completely unconnected with the crisis of the
6. I believe that nobody wants to go to the army to avoid poverty and
unemployment. First of all, a conscript needs money to have a not
completely miserable life there. Money provided by the state is a joke
(something like 5 euros per month).
That’s all for now. I think that this act should not be taken out of
its proportions which are rather narrow.
Recommended: this text on the situation in Rojava, but particularly the post by Anti War for November 2nd 2015.
Announcement: from November 2015, the News of Opposition will mainly be organised by various people from different countries; I shall take a back seat for a few months.
Recommended: Fuck Work. Fuck My Job. Fuck All Jobs. But Fuck Mine in Particular. By a 24-year-old working the night shift in a women’s shelter in Oregon, USA, mainly for homeless addicts. “Because “helping people” is the form of labor I am compelled to squeeze out of myself for money, I sometimes resent myself if I ever go out of my way for anyone: for working for free. I already don’t get paid enough for the work that I do. Why do I keep doing more? For fucking free? Naw. Fuck that. Being a professional “good person” is literally making me a bad person. If there’s any merit to categories like those in the first place, they’ve utterly inverted themselves through the imposition of labor in my life.”
Got this from a guy in South Africa about the current Michael Schmidt “scandal”:
As for Schmidt my immediate reaction was that he is going to be getting a
lot of flak for at least trying to address consciously the exact same
dynamics that are simply taken for granted in pretty much every anarchist
and leftist organisation. The way he did so was obviously completely wrong
but hardly ‘fascist’ as the allegations state. What better explanations do
all the members of these little groupscules that are jumping to condemn him
have to offer for the fact that you can observe exactly the same sort of
shit in their own relations? The division between unofficial leaders and
followers seen in all leftist scenes around the world often takes a
uniquely racial form in SA, and Schmidt is one of the few who dares to face
up to it. Sure, he does so in a pretty stupid way, but how different is his
attempt “to have this divide [of] explicitly recognized (white) rearward
collectives …[from] (black) frontline collectives” from Bakunin’s invisible
dictatorship? What stands out with Bakunin and Schmidt is not that they
accepted the existence of hierarchical practice despite their professed
anti-authoritarian theories, but that they did so “explicitly” whereas most
anti-authoritarians are either too delusional or too cowardly to do this
and prefer to accept it “implicitly”.
It seems to me that Schmidt’s position regarding blacks is similar to what
you considered the reactionary position of Knabb towards women: if they
have thus far been unable to participate fully as equals it is their
responsibility to try harder rather than expecting the more capable to
stoop down to their level. The difference being that (in theory) Knabb
adopted this position so as to “refuse” any hierarchical relation whereas
for Schmidt it was a means to adopt such a vanguard role “consciously” rather
than attempt to “paper over the cracks between members’ vastly disparate
levels” (of understanding, competence, activity, participation, etc) as
most anti-authoritarians prefer to do.
In general much of this has to do with the entirely ahistorical attitude
most leftists adopt towards questions of organisation. To be able to ask a
question as stupid as “whether the black proletariat is more “politico-culturally” inclined towards Marxist-Leninist or African socialist
authoritarianism” you have to completely ignore the question of whether the
present society is more historically inclined towards conditions favourable
to forms of organisation dominated by passive and spectacular relations –
conditions that can and must be consciously subverted. Indeed for most
leftists, anti-authoritarian or otherwise, such a question will be the last
one ever to enter their heads. And it shows.
As long as leftists remain determined to keep the relation between
themselves and their own practice at the level of the unconscious their associations will remain fundamentally reactionary both internally and externally. This is what happens when you try to imagine revolutionary activity can carve a niche for itself outside the spectacle. It is the inevitable result of separating subversion from everyday life. Don’t expect 99% of these self-righteous libtards to benefit in the slightest from this latest in the long list of pseudo-scandals.
One half of them will simply use it to score points in the usual sectarian
way (‘libertarian communists’ yapping about how this proves the inadequacy
of ‘platformism’, etc) while the other half will try to say that this bears
no reflection whatsoever on anything beyond the ‘purely individual’
attitudes of Schmidt and anyone that says otherwise is sectarian.
I must admit that his talk about “the physical and intellectual rigours of
the anarchist communist organisation” made me smile. The fact that this
person can even mention “in the case of the SACP/YCL, the sale of branded
communist gear’ in the context of serious ‘attempts to (re)build a
popular-class counterculture through something other than toyi-toyi” says a lot about what his idea of “physical and intellectual rigours” might be.
Then again in the very same breath he says that because “logical process,
self-discipline and autonomous strategic thinking has been strangled at
birth” (of course this strangulation is in fact perpetrated by the
spectacle against “all” individuals “on a continuous basis”) every
rebellion “naturally” reverts to authoritarian, leader-led,
anti-autonomous modes of behaviour. Thus, a libertarian socialist
Revolution is impossible in SA under current and foreseeable internal
Now, you might as well stop here. What more is there to say for a vanguard
that puts itself at the head of a revolution pre-emptively condemned to
abortion by its own leading theorist? What is there to say for a
self-professed anti-capitalist who believes the propaganda that capitalism,
conflated with human nature, ‘naturally’ renders all attempts at revolution
impossible? In that case, as the surrealists suggested, why not try
suicide? It’s precisely due to his ahistorical perspective that he adopts
this self-defeating determinism. The idea that unfavourable historical
tendencies can be strategically and practically subverted in the everyday
lives of the masses – masses of individuals who are no more or less
stupefied than their self-proclaimed vanguards, vanguards composed of those
who were once just as ‘unconscious’ as the masses but came to adopt
revolutionary positions in an “unnatural” historical process that might
equally embrace masses of individuals, and has done so before – such an
idea has clearly never occurred to this physically and intellectually
Lastly, it should be pointed out that the various reactionary aspects of
this guy have everything to do with a tunnel vision where the point of
reference is shifted from “the real movement” to a ‘revolutionary’
subculture/scene/organisation. It was as if the real problem were the
absence of black cadres in his groupscule rather than the fact that his
‘movement’ is not now nor ever has been even slightly significant to the
actually existing class struggle in this country. The international furore
produced by this entire scandal is equally symptomatic. The amount of
attention, emotion and verbiage expended on this non-event is exponentially
greater than the amount of interest displayed, judging from the written
evidence, towards the real developments fraught with possibility blossoming
in countless interesting actions among millions of people on the ground all
around the world. For all the condemnation of ‘substitutionism’ among
these supposedly ‘theoretically advanced’ people it is undeniable that idle
gossip and inconsequential scandal is today a substitute for anything
resembling intelligent and informed discussion and debate about real social
I see from here that there is apparently much more to the fascist allegations than is
mentioned in chapter one ‘from the author of the forthcoming book Against
the Fascist Creep (AK Press) [pre-order your copy now!]’… basically that
he created facebook accounts and a ‘white supremacy’ website called
Stormfront posting apparently very racist content as well as formed some
sort of national-anarchist group. His explanation being that he was
infiltrating NA networks, rather than working as a NA infiltrator of
anarchist-communist networks. Since I’ve yet to see any evidence that NA =
fascism even this information is hardly serious. If he were an undercover
fascist obviously that potentially puts a lot of people in danger so I can
understand why a lot of the anarchist ‘community’ would be very concerned
by it, but I have yet to see evidence for anything of the kind. Also, his
comrades from Zabalaza have apparently already seen all this NA
infiltration stuff and believe his story. Then again the fact that Zabalaza
could recieve a discussion paper like that and make no comment certainly
demonstrates a more than questionable judgement. So I guess we’ll have to
wait for this promised definitively damning evidence. How pathetic it all
Just read ‘Anarchism as Spectacle’ and pleasantly surprised that somebody beat me to the punch saying this stuff, some of it, like the bit about gossip v. news of opposition, almost word for word!
Recommended: Bounded Revolt (chapter 4 of Theatres of Struggle and the End of Apartheid). Mainly about the “6 day war” in Alexandra at the beginning of their 6-month struggle in South Africa, 1986.“Old-style African Nationalism faded. A new kind of violence emerged…the young rebels reimagined Alexandra in bold and inventive ways…They reinvented “good” and “bad” spaces…They delineated private spaces such as homes and public spaces such as streets. They recast the meaning of official boundaries…The burning of houses had begun in earnest…the houses were those of the South African black policemen themselves…at eight in the morning they stabbed a policeman and set him alight …This was the first case of a mob burning of a human being that had occurred in Alexandra. Minutes later…a second policeman was found burnt to death…”
Recommended: All the way to the Bank(sy)…, which, despite a few deeply irritating aspects, has a generally very good critique of Banksy and other aspects of neoliberalism.
Recommended: Gangs, Truces, and Recent US Riots: “Bellum pauperum contra pauperes”? (published in September) – on gangs in the USA, their history since the 1960s and their interaction with sections of the state; and similarly Baltimore’s “Fire Next Time”, which looks at gangs and the cops etc. in Baltimore (published in June this year; translated into French here). This excellent text, on aspects of black history and culture since the 1960s, from 1993 is still very relevant.
Added: an addendum on the south african militant student at the bottom of this text
Added: addendum to South Africa: street-sweepers “arrest” mayor…& MORE!!! (at bottom)
Added: South Africa: street-sweepers “arrest” mayor…& MORE!!! – written by SK about recent events in South Africa
Added – in comment box, this from “Justice for Keith Lamar” ‘s Facebook page (prisoner facing death penalty on death row)
Added: translation of a French text on JCDecaux, the ubiquitous advertising-cum–bike-rent company also involved in exploitation of prisoners.
Added: translation of a French text on attacks on a prison construction company and a link to a text on prison struggles in Spain
Recommended: Another Word for White Ally is Coward – about the attitudes of whites and official black leaders in the anti-cop/anti-state movement in the USA
Recommended: Since the End of the Movement of the Squares: The Return of The Invisible Committee by Jason E. Smith. This is an interesting critique of Tiqqun and its latest text “To Our Friends” (for some obscure, or possibly simply commercial, reason only 2 chapters of this book by Tiqqun have so far appeared translated online)( amended 25/8/15: just found out that there IS a full English translation online here ). However, it’s perhaps overly dismissive of some social movements over the last few years – for example it says “ the North American Occupy movement …, with the exception of some aspects of Occupy Oakland, was a largely toothless affair, swept away brusquely after a few weeks or months at most.” Not all of what happened in the US in 2011 can be simplistically dismissed this way (see, for instance, this). After long years of sleep, it was a tentative moment of awakening that encouraged the participants to learn from its weaknesses and, to a certain extent, apply the lessons in the movements that followed the Ferguson uprising of just over a year ago.
As for Tiqqun, the following from Pi is pertinent:
Here are some texts that I know about the Invisible Committee/Tiqqun, or those who are called the “appellistes” from their text “The Call” in 2005 ( the term “insurrectionists” to refer to them seems very exaggerated to me, especially as it’s used for one or more tendencies that have very little to do with them).
There are fairly few written critiques about the concrete practices of this current in the movements.
Regarding their texts, which bring together fairly diverse revolutionary references, especially philosophical or sociological (a specialized academic thought and its concepts), we must recognize that they have had some success, perhaps during a certain empty epoch, but also in the wake of the anti-CPE movement.
But some contradictions were quick to emerge (which were already present in the texts), especially around their associations (after the affair when they were charged with terrorism), the defense strategy used, their relationships with the media, with money. See, for example, this text: http://www.notbored.org/cuckoo-papa.html, and the incredible appeal for donations in 2010 (90,000 euros, with a proposal for tax exemption) to fund community projects in Tarnac, in the fairly isolated countryside (but obviously not isolated from capitalist relations): http://juralibertaire.over-blog.com/article-les-amis-de-la-commune-de-tarnac-62731387.html.
This obviously shows a huge disconnection from the reality of proletarians and people who slave away. And call for donations in an entirely conventional financing logic (to the point of thinking that people have the means to provide the sum of 500 euros), while calling for people to prepare for the uprising, came over as manipulation. There was a relevant critique of this call in French here:
I know three good reviews written about the Invisible Committee, which are:
– http: //www.palim-psao.fr/article-34659700.html
This new text, on the new site linked to this tendency, is a good illustration of their current positions: especially the central idea amongst them that the revolution will happen through alternative projects and the construction of autonomy against the system. The text also adopts the concept of the “commons” (updated according to the taste-of-the-day in recent years by various academic thinkers and quickly adopted by activists from various sides). The text brings together various proposals, with ambiguous formulas (as in all their texts) as “So Commons also means to be able, when all forms of mediation are exhausted and there are no other choices, to constitute a force able to override private interest for the common good. “
That may be why they have quite a sizeable audience in all the fashionable journals, magazines and newspapers, such as Libération, Les Inrockuptibles, etc. There are also a lot of critiques that have been made about Editions La Fabrique, founded by Eric Hazan, surgeon and editor, which is part of the independent publishing houses ‘traditional’ publishing of critical texts (mostly academic), including those of the Invisible Committee. They publish, for example, Blanqui, which the Invisible Committee uses as a reference. There is a good text on the vision and insurrectional (and state) strategy of Blanqui: http://atabularasa.org/library/blanqui-ou-l-insurrection-d-etat-fr, and we can use its arguments to criticize the writings of the Invisible Committee.
Furthermore, here are a few of the latest appearances of these “friends”:
In the latter link, some biographical elements of an alleged “invisible” appeared in the main newspaper of the institutional left (Liberation), which we saw already appear in a report in 2008 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v= EceiGC0vhbQ) and was highlighted recently on a public television channel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ts4d-V6XwX8. Talk about invisibility!
And another guy I know wrote this about Tiqqun: “Behind the famous WE (our friends, our here, our there …) is hidden the idea of the leading Organisation, the “historic party”, as the Bordigists used to say …”. “We”, though it can mean identification with a global community of struggle with very diverse histories and contradictions, is usually an uncritical shortcut that wishes to assume a representation of this community of struggle. “We” is almost invariably problematic – a subject to be proved rather than be asserted.
Recommended: REFLECTIONS ON THE FERGUSON UPRISING Really interesting conversation, in particular about the contradictions of being an anarchist living in the area and not wanting to be in the activist role yet wanting to have an influence (whilst, obviously, being influenced). “… that led to one of Antonio Martin’s family members reading stuff that we had written and stuff that other people had written about Ferguson, like, critiquing the police. And apparently the cousin was like, “I can’t believe white people think this, I can’t believe a white person wrote this.” So they actually made this worthwhile connection….. we got to act not as anarchists. We got to act as part of a larger social force. It was really refreshing not to be the ones to bring the fight. And so it’s interesting to think… do we have any ability to push that further than it went? I don’t know. It was a tide unto itself that we got to be a part of.”
Added: The Big Deception a new text by the TPTG
Added: information on Greece
Added: Site hits – a list of visitor hits and the top 40 favourite pages on this site
Added: Greece: 2008 – the present
Ajouté: la communisation et le Grand bond en arrière (2015)
Ajouté: nos positions (1987)
Mexico fucks the elections updated in relation to various questions about Mexican teachers and their organisations.
Ajouté: dans le ventre de l’ogre. Texte sur l’education et la jeunesse
Recommended: It don’t mean a thing….unless you’re ready to swing. On Greece’s rock and a hard place pseudo-choice.
Brief dialogue about trends in global expressions of opposition here at the bottom in the comments box, on the preamble to the News of Oppostion page
Afterword about the CNTE teachers’ organisation in Mexico, added to “mexico fucks the elections”
English translation of text “communisation does not move in mysterious ways” (with an afterword by me)
Also added to “how to vote” – The best and most recent critique of elections for a long time: the anti-election movement in Mexico, June 2015…(to be continued…)
A translation of a leaflet on the German train drivers strike written by Dortmund Anarchist Group on May 6th.
An old text which was included in “So Near – So Far” (a history of the British miners), but which I decided to put up on a drink and hash-inspired whim on my birthday as a separate text: The true story of a true boat
Recommended text on Baltimore: Rites of Passage
Put this up ( May 17, 2015 ) to the comments section of this text:
Just seen – this text on how the cops value crowd psychology for their policies on demonstrations etc.: Policing crowds without force
New brief text on this site, translated from the French: Ethiopian Jews riot in Israel
New text: To be or not to be a communisateur…
Different Boy, Same Game – more on Syriza from “The Wolf Report”
Strictly for bulimics who can’t bring themselves to stick their fingers down their throats: “…plutocrats, the pitchforks are coming” …but also revealing about the top 0.1%’s thinking and the development of a semi-Keynesian discourse – not only to save their own skins but also to show at least how to talk in a way that gives the poor some ideology of reformist hope, and give capital a little hope of a boost by once again thinking their way to maybe having to start spreading the “wealth” so the plebs can consume more and so produce more and so consume more and so produce more and can consume more and so produce more and consume more and produce more and can consume more and so produce more and consume more and produce more and can consume more and so produce more and consume more and produce more and can consume more and so produce more and consume more and produce more so consume more and so produce more and can consume more and so produce more and consume more and produce more and can consume more and so produce more and consume more and produce more and can consume more and so produce more and consume and. How much this is a possibility, along with war and terror, as a way of staving off revolution is yet to be seen and not as predictable as determinists would like to dismiss and ridicule the very idea of.
Text in French on the “Minister of Sic” affair, and communisation theory: les voies de la communisation ne sont pas impénétrables
New article on an ultra-leftist adherent to communisation ideology becoming a minister in the new Syriza government: The Minister of Sic
A discussion on the origins of football in the comments section of “Ve haf vays of making you happy” can be found from this comment onwards
On the 25th anniversary of the start of the riot at Strangeways prison in Manchester, UK (the “disturbances”, in particular – fires, the virtual destruction of the prison and a rooftop occupation, continued for over 3 weeks), it seems worth recommending this book: Strangeways 1990: A serious disturbance which, despite being co-written by a member of a dreadful Leftist organisation (the Bolshevik organisation Revolutionary Communist Group) is an excellent read; its other author is an ex-prisoner.
Mexico: a compilation A collection of brief texts and links to texts concerning the movements in Mexico, comprising the following sections: a brief text on the current movement of day labourers and related matters in Mexico (March 24th 2015), a reversed chronology of events in Mexico (present day to April 2013), a brief text and a couple of links to texts about the Zapatistas, and other links to texts about significant social movements in Mexico.
Recommended: The Political Economy of Things (about Greece and Syriza etc.) from The Wolf Report: Nonconfidential analysis for the anti-investor
Also recommended: Dining With Vultures: Bristol Anarchists & the UK Media Also look at this critique of UK Anarcho-Leftism
Recommended: Fields ripe with calamity – a critique of capitalist “ecology”, with specific reference to a project in Todmorden, UK
“Kindness comes to Todmorden, as pure appearance.
For those not blinded by billboards, the writing is on the wall; and the word is “catastrophe.”…
…Even in these darkest of times, we can also find inspiration in the present. In July 2014, Trevor Lewis, an employee at the Eastwood waste recycling plant that serves Todmorden, used a digger to destroy the facility. Like any other honest man, woman and child, he “hated his job” and knew that “his work place destroyed him” (Todmorden News, 2 October 2014, page 1). His sublime blow against alienated labour, that daily horror in which we lose ourselves and create a bad world not of our choosing,deserves to be celebrated, refined and extended.”
Recommended: letter from anarchist prisoner Emma Shepherd
Recommended: “Yani and the Hand Jive”, an article about Greece, Syriza, privatisation and the Troika
Recommended: Words for Winter – a chronology of the anti-cop events in the USA September to December, plus some really good anecedotes from the end of November from StLouis and Ferguson.
Various things added:
Comment from Charles Reeve on the Charlie Hebdo murders: http://dialectical-delinquents.com/?page_id=8339#comment-176025
2 comments (one by myself) on Syriza:
Comment from South Africa on the general strike in Malamulele (added to News of Opposition for 30/1/15):
A while ago I wrote you about the increasing importance of blockades as a current form of social contestation in SA and elsewhere. The situation in Malamulele, a town of 13 000 people (also the name of the wider area of around half a million people in which the town is situated) in Limpopo province, furnishes support for this thesis in abundance. Since 2014 proletarians of this district have joined their fellows elsewhere around the country in their demand to dissolve the local government, which has failed utterly in its task to administer the basic municipal utilities essential to survival in the modern world, and reconstitute it according to their own desires. When the ANC had an electioneering rally the people booed President Zuma and burned the party flags after their demands were addressed in the usual language of bureacratic-democratic procedure. Shops at the local mall were looted and burnt, causing millions of rands in damage. At the beginning of 2015 they took things further and imposed a general strike which has, at the time of writing, been 100 percent effective for four weeks. All schools and businesses have been shut down, all major roads leading into and out of the area have been barricaded from 6am to 6pm. The local mall has been closed, Police have according to their own account maintained a heavy presence in the area but remained powerless to break the strike. Appeals by state officials for residents to return to work and school have fallen on deaf ears. In response to a finding by the Municipal Demarcation Board that their demands do not qualify to be met, they shut down an entrance to the famous Kruger National park. Two days later two schools were damaged by arson attacks; a day later another school was burnt out. It is claimed that school children themselves are leading the struggle, and talking about a 'new June 16'. These claims are lent credence by the fact that school pupils were among those arrested for attacks on the shopping mall in 2014 (doubtless this would have been called 'xenophobic' had these shops not been owned by South African citizens). Due to its exceptional efficiency and ferocity, which has far exceeded anything previously achieved in recent years (eg. the one-day social-strike in Langa late last year); the struggle in Malamulele expresses in an unusually clear way the contradictions inherent everywhere the new tactics of modern revolution make their appearance. To phrase the question in the language of the bourgeois: “Why do these people destroy their 'own' businesses and services?” Whereas trade unionists, racists and state bureacrats can only answer: 'ignorance'; liberals and leftists can do no better with their own half-arsed apology of 'desperation', which implies such actions, while unfortunate and generally harmful, are excusable as the only means to get the attention of government fat-cats. This justification represents only one part of the picture, but the reality is that the destruction unleashed by proletarian struggle only involves an appeal to the state, a reformist demand, and a servile relationship of political patronage inasmuch as *all* working-class struggle has to do with *both* the 'bread and butter' fight for a few more crumbs from the table of capital *as well as* the fight to destroy capital and the working-class itself which always necessarily *begins* with bread and butter issues, always lies *beyond* them, and is always implicitly *contained within *them. That implication starts to become* explicit* the moment that struggle over bread and butter issues* itself *destabilises the normal hustle for daily bread; traditionally this took place in the form of the strike, where workers confronted capital by withdrawing their labour, bringing capitalist production to a standstill only to confront starvation themselves, unless they restarted production under their own control. As the strike in Malamulele demonstrates, the basic process today remains the same now as it has always been. For proletarians to act as a class is to have as a horizon only capital and the categories of its reproduction, and, on the other hand it is, for the same reason, to be in contradiction with one's own class reproduction, to call it into question. It is only the technical aspects of this process that have changed; the *meaning* of 'strike' – the *means* of a potentially revolutionary strike – is different today than the traditional definition. Although workers participate in this strike through the withdrawal of labour as before, the principal site of struggle is no longer the workplace but the street. The principal actors are not proletarians as *workers* but as *the dispossessed *(now including housewives, the unemployed, and school kids) as *proletarians* in the precise definition of those who have nothing* (niether jobs, nor 'education', nor 'services') *to lose *and know it*, those who own nothing and are therefore tied to nothing. So it is that proletarian self-activity primarily has to do with the organisation of destruction, and moreover the destruction of their 'own' equipment and buildings on the job, their 'own' schools and state services, their 'own' businesses, precisely because all of these things, presented to them as their 'own' and 'for their own benefit' by the spectacle, are produced and reproduced without them and against them. *Organisation of destruction* is precisely the correct term here, since it is exactly in the realm of organisation that the positive aspect of proletarian self-activity develops hand in hand with the negative aspect; to organise a force capable of sweeping aside the poverty of everything that exists is simultaneously to organise a force capable of transforming everything that exists, and vice versa. To recognise that one does not build socialism, one only destroys the obstacles that prevent its development is precisely to recognise that under capitalism the passion for destruction is the only creative passion. We live today in the era of the *social strike, *which primarily targets the circuits of commodity circulation rather than the points of production*. The effect, however, is almost identical. Just as a normal strike either collapses or moves further in a revolutionary because its disorganisation of production soon threatens the ability of the strikers themselves to survive, the disorganisation of reproduction caused by a social strike involves the same dynamic. This is clearly illustrated by the desperate measures taken by residents of Malamulele to circumvent the blockade they themselves imposed. According to one newspaper report, around 50 people a day are forced to undertake an arduous journey on foot through thick bush, during which they must cross a crocodile infested river, in order to buy basic necessities. One of these people stated in an interview: "It's not that we don't support the strike. We want our own municipality but desperate times call for desperate measures. We have to eat”. Clearly, strikes like these must either move further in a radical direction, communicating and co-ordinating with neighboring areas to prevent such desperate strike-breaking evasions, organising the production and circulation of basic necessities on their own terms – and the self-defense necessary to resist the inevitable repression that will result from such steps – or it will continue to be undermined by more and more of its own participants until it collapses. Considering the consciously imposed self-limitations of the current struggle, and the unfortunate attitude of its most combattive participants towards its internal contradictions (one person who braved the crocodiles to evade the strike blockades said "Going through the access point with plastic grocery bags is risky. The people who patrol there will confiscate your food and spill it on the ground as punishment for defying the shutdown") such a development seems unlikely in this particular case. What is certain, however, is that the Malamulele strike has been an exemplary moment in that arduous process which remains 'the task of the world and of us... the self-clarification (critical philosophy) of the struggles and wishes of the age'. Meanwhile, an area supposedly involved in the so-called Xenophobic violence has been occupied by riot police after four trucks and two cars -- none of which were reportedly owned by 'foreigners' -- were torched last night. The actions of Majakaneng residents, who on Monday looted 'foreign owned' shops (when last year residents of Langa looted the local supermarket, which is owned by Wallmart, it was not reported as an attack on a 'foreign owned' shop) in addition to burning a bus, can in no way be catagorically separated from those of proletarians in revolt around the country, such as the residents of Mohlakeng who yesterday torched the house of 'their' mayor, as well as 'their' library and municipal hall, but were not reported to have attacked any 'foreign owned' shops. It should be noted, lastly, that the victims in the current so-called Xenophobic violence were overwhelmingly* private property*; there have been more South African citizens killed (whether by petty-bourgeois defending their property from looting, or police doing the same, or unknown causes) in the unrest this year than foreign nationals. This is in stark contrast to the unequivocally Xenophobic pogroms of 2008 where scores of *human beings*, most of whom did not hold the priveledge of SA citizenship, were attacked and killed simply for speaking the wrong language in the wrong place at the wrong time. As usual, the bourgeois press has an active interest in a definition of violence which conflates attacks on commodities with attacks on people.
Got the following interesting comments from SK, about this libcom article: http://libcom.org/library/you-say-you-want-build-solidarity-network :
“Inasmuch as it details successful means of struggle worked out by the collective practice of the authors, the libcom text makes a useful contribution to the literature of the revolutionary press. Unfortunately the project it describes relies on a relation towards the working-class that the experiences of the past century have led the most lucid revolutionaries to abandon a long time ago, namely, that of the militant. Unsurprisingly for those who do not find any embarrasment by claiming membership in an organisation that is not only dead and buried, but totally decomposed and transfigured into an entirely etherial existence, these 21st century wobblies base their practice not on means that have any plausible chance of encouraging the extensive and intensive development of self-activity and self-organisation among proletarians, but have taken it upon themselves to go among proletarians and organise them through their own activity. Even when it is dressed up in the language of working-class autonomy, direct-democracy and direct-action — in other words, in the anarchist ideology — the perspective of the militant activist has always appeared foreign to me — both to my temperament and my understanding of revolutionary theory. It is an attitude that’s always seemed to carry the repulsive stench of the bureaucrat — the manager and organiser of other people — a role for whose pleasures and compensations, even when given a revolutionary anti-capitalist flavour, I have never, in my shiftless self-centredness, managed to develop the slightest taste.
Although this attitude permeates every aspect of this project and the text which expresses it; its most characteristic qualities are most clearly revealed in the discussion that follows the main article. In the discussion, the authors admit that the form of organisation detailed in the text 1) needs a ‘critical mass of anarchists’ in order to work 2) is ‘not anti-capitalist’ 3) involves propaganda directed from the critical mass to the lay members ‘who are not already as politically educated’ 4) is considered by the critical mass as a means for recruitment into the anarcho-syndicalist union to which they belong 5) cannot keep its participants involved ‘except out of a sense of obligation or duty’. In all of this, one sees the hallmarks of a relation to the working-class far too close to that of the revolutionary bureaucrat for comfort.
It is probable that this sort of project, and the attitude of which it is an expression, is partially a product of conditions where working-class self-activity has itself as yet attained a relatively low level of visible expression. When nobody except you seems to be doing anything nearly revolutionary, when you seem to be the only one even remotely interested in the overthrow of society, it is easy to mistake the task of revolutionary praxis — that of the unification of dispersed struggles and the articulation of a theory adequate to this unification — for some sort of disembodied unionism accompanied by demagogic propaganda rendered no less inadequate by having the label ‘political education’ stuck onto it. In other words, it is easy to imagine the task of the revolutionist as involving the importation of self-activity and class-consciousness into an apathetic, disorganised and helpless working-class. Those, such as myself and the Faridabad comrades, fortunate enough to find themselves in circumstances where masses of people are already visibly engaged in subversive activity far beyond anything we might hope to initiate ourselves, can more easily see the humility demanded of us by the reality of the situation.
Consideration of certain conducive material conditions can make the confusion of revolutionary bureaucrats understandible, but circumstances alone by no means make delusional perspectives excusable. The perspective revealed by the Seattle anarcho-syndicalists inclines me to think that even where class struggle is at a stage where revolutionary forms of proletarian self-organisation is quite visibly seeking its adequate expression, their abstract desire for immediate results would lead them (as it led their comrades from the past to join the Stalino-bourgeois government during the Spanish revolution) towards actions like those of the Trotskyists who, during the massive wave of wildcat strikes that swept through the mining industry following the Marikana massacre, organised (or helped organised, I’m not sure how much real participation there was from the miners but from the context it seems the Trots ran the show from beginning to end) a meeting for the establishment of a co-ordinating committee that would allow the independent workers councils that conducted the strike at each mine to make united action, but then had their own bureaucrats (who is no miner) elected President, and turn the whole initiative into a charade whose sole aim was to drum up support for their own political party. Even a minion of the bourgeois press could note that as this honourable proletarian President ‘concluded Saturday’s meeting with a press conference in front of a swelling media crowd, he appeared to be speaking more for himself and his organisation than for the crowd of strikers.’ This kind of unification of scattered struggles, like the similar unity achieved in their own organisation, which they persist in all earnestness in calling The Industrial Workers of the World, certainly cuts a more impressive figure on the level of appearancesthan that attempted, for example, by O Journal Combate in Portugal during a period where worker’s councils were similarly groping towards forms of action appropriate to their ends. Such True Socialists have, from the time of Engels, condemned those less content to undertake action without a thought to the complex web of interrelations through which its consequences will necessarily reverbirate as mere intellectual doctrinaires, armchair revolutionists and academics carrying out, as Weitling said of Marx, ‘closet analysis and criticism far from the suffering world and oppression of the people’. No doubt their Portuguese variants asked of the O Journal Combate comrades, as is still asked of the Situationists and even of Marx ‘But what practical activity did they actually do?’ despite the fact that, through the activities surrounding the publications they practically did more to advance the revolutionary struggle of their time than every little anarcho-trotskyist union official on every continent combined.”
Half-recommended: Series of texts about ecological actions and critiques around the Bradford (UK) area . It should be pointed out that much of this, which potentially covers some vital “lessons” about phoney ecologists, is difficult to understand as the authors don’t seem able or willing to imagine how what they write is going to be read; they don’t want to try to imagine the enormity of questions that arise whilst reading this – in particular, what precisely – concretely – happened in the conflict between them and the eco careerists, Bradford council, and all the rest of the professional genocidal bullshitters, what exactly was said on both sides of this conflict. Without this, quite a bit of this just comes over as someone expressing their anger and some very general aspects of the reasons why they’re angry, but leaving out essentials that make you feel that – yes – they’re almost certainly right, but what in fact happened? Clearly they just aren’t doing what is necessary when writing something public and which one considers important – show it to other people for comments and then, in answering their queries, revising it before publishing it. It’s certainly not a question of “good writing” in the traditional sense of writing something that makes the reader appreciate the aesthetics of style and structure, but of giving the reader the necessary information to clarify things for themselves, striving to achieve some incisive communication that could have some subversive influence.
And also – just to correct something – the pamphlet about the UK’s Winter of Discontent (1978-79) “To Delightful Measures, Changed“ was put together by Red Marriott, not whom they said it was (though he took much of it from other people, including me, as he acknowledges).
This is from a friend living in Bradford who used to know the authors of the article here:
I read much of the Revolt Against Plenty stuff on Shipley, though not all as it was quite hard to follow. I’m afraid they seem to suffer from a disconnectedness that leads to the obvious separation between their struggle for that land and pretty much everyone else in Shipley. So much so that they describe Shipley as “a better off area” or something like that, while the land sits in the poorest, most fucked up and fucked over neighbourhood of the town, and in fact Windhill (East Shipley) is in one of the most deprived 10% of wards in the UK.
They also totally miss what is pretty much the only interesting, important thing about struggle – the relationships that develop within it and its subsequent dynamic relationship with the wider social reality. There were, it seems, no relationships? Just two guys against the world. Losing perspective. The loss of a piece of land is horrendous, but this tale falls outside the realm of social movements and into the realm of atomised individuals angry at the world. Given their long, long experience of struggles, I’m pretty amazed they never attempted to really engage with local people beyond (albeit very good) sloganeering around the site itself. No one I know in Shipley knew this was happening at the time. Would I have collaborated with them over this? Of course. So would many, many people I know. There was a full-on anti-supermarket campaign that defeated two other simultaneous developments in Shipley, including a much tougher council-backed developer, but stepped back on this supermarket and housing proposal because Local people genuinely saw it as jobs, somewhere to buy food etc and half-decent housing in an area desperate for all three. Had we all known the story was more complex, we may have all tried harder to change minds and stuck it out to fight this last one off.
Their documentation of the wildlife and environment was much more interesting and inspiring, though without diminishing the beauty they found, their claims about it being the most biodiverse space in the North are wildly off. The city (and the whole of the industrial north) is littered with these beautiful, fragile and threatened new wildernesses.
Recommended (not on this site): interesting article on squatting and the media
the third day of september – sebokeng, south africa, 30 years ago (an eyewitness account of the Sebokeng Rebellion of 1984, by Johannes Rantete, written in September 1984)
Video of young Israeli refusenik (added to News of Opposition page on 14/8/14, but put under 27/7/14, when video was released)
A radical film about Brazil over the last year has been put up on the “Brazil against the world cup” page, amongst other updates on the situation there.
nous avons les moyens de vous rendre heureux (juillet 2014) – football – le but d’un monde sans but, d’une vie sans but (traduction francaise de “Ve haf vays of making you happy” )
A really interesting comment from a friend about football, below “ve haf vays of making you happy”.
A proper translation (not by me) from the French of “Genocide & Spectacle” is now available as an addendum on the “Brazil against the world cup“ page
soweto ’76 (1978/9) For the 38th anniversary of the uprising that began in Soweto, a previously little-known account of what happened, not before put online; plus a more analytical account taken from “Reflections on the black consciousness movement”
2 comments by “madman”, mainly about Marx and marxists, have been put up on the “you make plans – WE MAKE HISTORY” page.
11/6/14: brazil against the world cup
Recommended articles: “Why I am not an anarchist”, “Have you ever slapped a corpse in the face?” (a different – and differently illustrated – version of South Africa & Some Anarchist Responses to Mandela’s Death, the joint text we wrote here on this site) and a differently illustrated version of “Mandela can go to hell!” (also here on this site) – all available on Siddiq Khan’s “Love Letters Journal” site.
Some comments, probably from Ian Bone, have been put up in the comments section under South Africa & Some Anarchist Responses to Mandela’s Death, with my response.
20/12/13: happy saturnalia and all that! (2013)
13/12/13: mandela can go to hell! (2013)
6/6/13: definitive recuperation of the man who, post-68, made such a spectacle of himself (not a page, but a link)
7/5/13: news of disalienation (1973)
29/4/13: contradictions (1972)
17/4/13: nouvellles de l’opposition (le présent)
6/4/13: comme un été avec mille juillets (1982) (sur les émeutes en royaume-uni en 1981)
16/3/13: aufhebengate again: a response to responses (2013) (this has just been modified – on 18th March – because apparently the “Nihilst Communist” who supposedly posted the links to my text on UK Indymedia wasn’t the person he deliberately, with a deceitful malicious intent, implied he was. My apologies to the Nihilist Communist who I thought it was.)
13/3/13: why we should occupy! (1972)
8/3/13: re-fuse (1978)
6/3/13: call it sleep (1982)
5/3/13: daily riot (1981)
5/3/13: death of john lennon (1981)