In an article titled “Anarchists who exploited the protests, deepening NYC’s wounds, must pay,” the ny post editorial board wrote that, “When the city is past this crisis, we hope that peaceful protestors will join the general public in cheering the criminal prosecution of the conspirators who sought to turn anger over the killing of George Floyd into some kind of revolution.”
We made clear to them in an email that not only is their hope in vain, but the very idea that the city will be “past this crisis” implies that some sort of peace will exist at the end of these protests. Without focusing too severely on the alienating idea of an abstract peace developing, it is absurd for any journalist to write those words. They show a naïve understanding of political reality. Neo-nazis would beat the shit out of the ny post editorial board for their ivory tower disconnect, for even they understand that there is no “past this crisis.” So, if the ny post comes clean as being an absolute dog shit, non-political, centrist publication that think politics is a Nintendo Switch game, we will simply say that a condemnation of the violence of one group can easily be a call for the opposing group (fascists) to return violence.
But we don’t wish to give these non-political thinkers any undue credit for holding anarchists in particular contempt. They do as they are told by rupert murdoch and his publishing company news corp. Dan Kennedy of WGBH writes that “rupert murdoch has built his media conglomerate in order to enhance his political power for the sole benefit of himself and his children. His method is based on synergy — that is, his control of more and more media entities wouldn’t be possible unless government officials bestowed deregulatory favors upon him, and those favors become easier for him to extract as his ever-growing control of the media makes those officials fear the consequences of saying no. His support for political figures who’ll give him what he wants has helped fuel the rise of right-wing xenophobic populism in the united states, the united kingdom, and australia, all of which are suffering the consequences of the chaos that Murdoch unleashed.”
What the ny post will pass off as something deserving of an editorial is a thought that a large percentage of consumers of mainstream media would parrot if asked what they thought of the destruction of private property during these protests. And this is because the murdoch empire is addicted to exploitation of information consumers and the u.s. is codependent. The notion that collective trauma is something that a city gets “past,” is provocative for its stupidity and the idea that “anger,” or action against oppression in any form, is not possible is a lie that the empire and its apparatuses tell itself so that we don’t provide a coffin and a nail for it as it digs its own grave. Matthew May and Daniel Synk in “Contradiction and Overdetermination in Occupy Wall Street” argue that action can “spiral out from and across heterogenous modes of antagonism operative at different instances of the social formation.”
The idea of getting “past” collective trauma quickly proves to be hypocritical if one explores the ny post’s numerous articles on the 18th anniversary of 9/11 that address and memorialize that tragic day. Such hypocrisy makes clear that the most provocative claim that the editorial board, which we’d like to imagine is some sort of rectangle cousin of Wilson from Cast Away, makes is that only anarchist praxis, with its commitment to the destruction of private property, is capable of transforming anger “into some kind of revolution.” I am certain that the ny post has not interviewed black militants about their views on revolution because news leadership would experience severe cognitive dissonance over their industry’s established order identity politics (they can be as right-wing as they want but they MUST obey the neoliberal order). We also know that the ny post thinks of agitators in the u.s. as anarchists, but also presents them as primarily white. This is perfect for them, as it allows them to maintain their belief that black people are remaining peaceful despite their anger, and that white people are the agitators. If you think that the use of “anarchist” by this publication isn’t a metonymy for white agitator, know that a news publication like this WOULD NOT risk anything being misconstrued as racist because we are not “past the crisis.” Not only does this editorial argue against left organizing unity, it also attempts to claim that black people should express their anger peacefully, and that a great multitude of black protestors aren’t supportive of “some kind of revolution.”
While most black people are not in the Huey P. Newton Gun Club or the New Black Panther Party or For the People – STL (organizations with explicitly revolutionary goals), a great many black people are members of the Black Lives Matter movement and similar organizations that espouse a great diversity of leftist thought and theory. One reason the Black Lives Matter movement is so successful is because it has a low cost of participation, as opposed to an expressly militant organization with formal recruitment and integration procedures. Naturally, in a mass movement there are going to be an abundance of people participating for the sole purpose of fighting for black lives, but there are many who will join because they are revolutionaries. They might march with Black Lives Matter and train with the Huey P. Newton Gun Club for community defense because black organizers utilize a diverse set of tactics.
Just as anarchists are not the only ones who want revolution, anarchists are certainly not the only ones who have praxis indicative of their desire for revolution. While this anarchist centric view of revolution is a framing strategy of the mainstream media, it is also a problem of the far left in the u.s. The cost of anarchist praxis almost always outweighs the gain, and further, much of anarchist praxis has been romanticized (e.g. Molotov cocktails and squatting). But why the romance? Creative action is one thing. Repeatedly getting caught and suffering severely without payoff is stupid. It has become clear that there is a culture of aesthetic and phenomenology (in this case a devotion to objects of direct experience such as the explosion and fire of a Molotov cocktail) of excitement that distracts from success in anarchist space. This is why anarchism in the u.s. is as much a LARP as the DSA versus Red Guard sectarian awkwardness. This isn’t to say that anarchist praxis isn’t important or useful, but that the revolution won’t be won with unrestrained freedom. This leads to questions about the diversity of action towards a revolution, in part because of the George Floyd protests, but also because the contradictions of modern history demand it. Occupy Wall Street exists as a major protest movement that mitt romney referred to as “class warfare.” Class warfare has been an integral dimension of various protests in recent years (e.g. the J20 and the George Floyd protests). But as we noted in an old WordPress Article, Indigenous resistance is revolutionary. Standing Rock was certainly revolutionary.
The intersections of class, race/ethnicity and anti-colonization are critical in understanding who is oppressed and how the system of the u.s. sustains itself. These intersections are not monoliths; people aren’t forming Megazords, or uniting like the teens in Captain Planet to combat oppression. It is clear that the specific monster sent to suck the energy from a group or intersecting groups can be beaten back into the shadows, and in some cases defeated outright. But direct assaults on the big bad (the state itself) are typically conducted by Indigenous people defending their land, and even then, gun violence is avoided because of the severity of consequences. Indigenous people have land, and that physical space allows them to combat surveillance and other state oppression tactics. With that in mind, it’s important to look closely at how different groups use their land (or space) and how those uses might shape a revolution in the u.s. And it is important to compare that to how the monstrous apparatuses of the state use land (or space) and how reactionary forces give these monsters energy from below (whereas the big bad gives them energy from above in the form of funding).
When an apparatus of oppression exists in the u.s. there are reactionaries prepared to volunteer to do its dirty work. Take the border patrol for example. There are reactionary militias in New Mexico that seek out caches of water and supplies to ruin because they were hidden in the desert for travelling immigrants and they want to lick the boots of the border patrol. It is these sickening symbiotic relationships that reveal the state’s vulnerability as well as points of integral contradiction. As great as it would be to escalate quickly to combat against the state, it is not feasible. But, combat against state-monster-parasites is different. While antifascist action is essential, murdering a neo-nazi is a relief to the state. The elimination of a state parasite and boot licker, like a member of these reactionary militias, is a different matter. The reactionaries who want a race war should be given exactly that. Reactionaries and their gun politics polarize half of the population, and the defense of immigrants is likewise polarizing to a different half of the population. But if you kill a monster-parasite you hurt the state. It is literally one less pair of state-serving eyes in the desert. A far leftist focusing on the far right, while necessary, still generates generic responses of “Extremists bad” from the mainstream media, or like this article argues, “What, are you all some kind of revolutionaries? Pffff.”
This counter-reactionary strategy is an approach that the left has not explored with great commitment. It has to do with those who reside in urban and suburban areas engaging in militant action in rural and exurb areas. For example, before the deterioration of the national Redneck Revolt network, the Florida chapters performed rural and exurb counter-recruitment work. In the cities, a lot of organizations confront fascists at rallies, and some might do more investigatory anti-fascist work, but there exists a phenomenological threat of the towns and cities that aren’t visited by anti-fascist operatives. Get lost in Ohio and you can easily find yourself at a gas station directly beside a house flying a confederate flag. But what if the goal was civil war first and then revolution?
It often seems as though that the individualist anarchist would thrive squatting on a rural property. How great for them to have a farm! And there is land. The angry mass would not just have a cop car to destroy, but they could destroy an entire reactionary community (some of these communities still have standing plantations) with severe biases and beliefs in oppressive systems (slavery) that benefit from and produce more white supremacy and fascist sentiment. And the reality of empowered reactionary forces is noted in the recent Advance Local’s article “Despite fear of [kkk], Birmingham protests end peacefully.” That is horrible. The kkk should be wiped out. And if citizens of cities were to take anger on the road and protest the existence of some of these rural and exurb spaces (still standing plantations as one example), anger enters a different mode. There is a permanent and real claim to space. It isn’t a vague buzzword like reparations. It is space. It is material. And it can be taken. Ferguson’s unrest and Floyd unrest would be brought to different places. Town to town. And eventually city to city. And white allies could perform the riskier work and clear the way.
Of course, another Civil War won’t be the North vs South. But in order for any sort of competent assault on the state itself, a civil war would be a reasonable means to establish such action. Without land and space there is no threat to the system. The u.s. has land, and it has taken all of it from the Indigenous people because the state knows this truth. Much of the united states’ ability to reproduce its means of production in a profound way exists because slaves worked the land. We need to reclaim the land. Territorial analysis is necessary, and while a staunch Guevarism need not be applied (as not to alienate anarchists who provide meaningful strategy), guerilla warfare in the united states is more effective in rural environments when the land ownership of the resistance is lacking (Ferguson is a good example). Urban guerilla warfare is a possibility, but resistance in the cities has not reached a level of material and praxial efficacy.