Monthly Archives: November 2014
We Do Not Fear Anarchy – We Invoke It

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AK Press now has a graphic for the cover of my forthcoming book, “We Do Not Fear Anarchy – We Invoke It”: The First International and the Origins of the Anarchist Movement. I have already posted a few excerpts on this blog. The book should be out next Spring. Here, I set forth some excerpts from the Introduction, where I provide a definition of anarchism based on the way the anarchists in the International conceived it. The quote in the title, “We do not fear anarchy – we invoke it,” is from Bakunin.

Defining Anarchism

During his polemics within the International against the “authoritarians” and “bourgeois socialists,” Bakunin set forth six primary grounds for distinguishing his anarchism from the views of his opponents: first, his rejection of any kind of institutional, coercive authority (anti-authoritarianism); second, his opposition to the modern state, even as a “transitional” power to abolish capitalism (anti-statism); third, his opposition to any participation in existing systems of government or “bourgeois politics” (anti-parliamentarianism); fourth and fifth, his advocacy of voluntary federation during the struggle against capitalism and the state and in a post-revolutionary society (federalism), so that the revolutionary means were consistent with the revolutionary ends (libertarianism); and sixth, his call for the immediate abolition of the state and capitalism by means of direct action, including insurrection and the expropriation by the workers themselves of the means of production (social revolution).

In identifying Proudhon as an anarchist, Bakunin focused on Proudhon’s critique of the state and private property, Proudhon’s opposition to the authoritarian politics of the Jacobins and any sort of “revolutionary” dictatorship, and Proudhon’s concept of “agro-industrial federation,” a libertarian form of socialism wherein the state and capitalism are replaced by voluntary federations of agricultural, industrial and communal organizations with no central authority above them. Where he differed from Proudhon was in his advocacy of insurrection and expropriation and in his rejection of Proudhon’s view that capitalism and the state could be gradually supplanted through the creation and ever widening expansion of voluntary associations of workers, peasants, professionals and other functional groups with access to free credit through their own credit unions, or “people’s bank.”

Following Bakunin’s approach, anarchism, whether his, Proudhon’s or someone else’s, can be distinguished from other doctrines on the basis of its anti-authoritarianism, anti-statism, anti-parliamentarianism, federalism, libertarianism and advocacy of direct action. Bakunin included Proudhon in the anarchist camp despite Proudhon’s opposition to insurrection and expropriation and his gradualist approach. Bakunin recognized that despite these differences Proudhon was still an anarchist. Both advocated direct action, but with Proudhon emphasizing non-violent direct action that would gradually hollow out existing institutions and replace them with voluntary agro-industrial federations.

While Proudhon and Bakunin were both proponents of “social” revolution, Proudhon’s social revolution was conceived in gradual, pacific terms, not in insurrectionary terms, in contrast to Bakunin. Furthermore, all socialists of their era agreed on the need for some kind of “social” revolution, given the failure of the preceding “political” revolutions (the French Revolution and the European revolutions of 1848-1849). Consequently, advocacy of social revolution does not distinguish anarchism from other doctrines, such as socialism.

For the purposes of this study, therefore, I will proceed on the basis that anarchism can be defined as a view that rejects coercive authority, the state and participation in existing systems of government, and which advocates federalism (or voluntary association), libertarianism and direct action. This is consistent with Proudhon and Bakunin’s conceptions of anarchism and, as will be seen in the chapters which follow, the views of those members of the International who came to identify themselves as anarchists and to create an international anarchist movement.

Arguably, some of these six defining characteristics can be derived from the others. For example, the state and government can be seen simply as specific examples of coercive authority, so that anti-authoritarianism is the primary defining characteristic of anarchism. As Sébastien Faure (1858-1942) put it, “whoever denies Authority and fights against it is an Anarchist.”[i] Be that as it may, in historical terms I believe that it was on the basis of these six characteristics that anarchism came to be distinguished from other political orientations. These six criteria help to flesh out the content of anarchism in a more substantive sense, providing a more robust and “political” conception of anarchism as something more than mere “anti-authoritarianism.” To define anarchism simply on the basis of what it is that anarchists oppose fails to take into account the positive anarchist alternatives to authoritarian institutions and practices that also distinguish anarchism from other doctrines.

Robert Graham

[i] Woodcock, The Anarchist Reader, 1977: 62.

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TEXT OF NIKOS MAZIOTIS ON HUNGER STRIKE OF NIKOS ROMANOS

TEXT OF NIKOS MAZIOTIS ON HUNGER STRIKE OF NIKOS ROMANOS

TEXT OF SOLIDARITY OF NIKOS MAZIOTIS MEMBER OF REVOLUTIONARY STRUGGLE ON HUNGER STRIKER ANARCHIST NIKOS ROMANOS

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The Anarchist Nikos Romanos is one of us. He is one of those like us who rebelled against authority, against the law and order that wants people servants, of nationals and obedient, is the one who introduced what “law and order” is with the murder of his friend Alexandros Grigoropoulos by the dogs of the state Korkonea and Saralioti.

Comrade Romanos is not of those who confiscate the homes and property of the people as does the bank expropriated and sentenced. He did not find the laws to earn as we have politicians ethnic fathers robbing and murdering the people and workers to make the rich richer. He did not steal the salary and pension of any poor breadwinner as they do this with laws multinationals, bankers and businessmen servants, governments and parliamentarians. Did not found the laws depriving the bite out of the mouth of the poor the laws that kills and leads to suicide of  thousands of people, causing them to eat from garbage and sleep on the streets. Comrade Romanos is of those who are faced with dignity with the blows received from the slaves of the state and of the rich who are paid a seven hundred euros per month for the miserable job.

On Monday, November 10, the comrade has begun a hunger strike demanding the right to make use of the educational leave. Nikos Romanos such as Iraklis Kostaris doing hunger strike for the same reason are among the dozens of political prisoners and imprisoned fighters who are currently in Greek prisons at a time when the social policy of genocide that are imposed by capital and the state with occasion of the economic crisis linked with hardening repression in general and especially towards other inmates fighters many of whose are members of the armed revolutionary organizations and accused for armed struggle. The legislating of prisons type C with special detention conditions primarily for political prisoners and imprisoned fighters fits into this context. Every prisoner companion is one of us, so we consider that we are joining the fight for Freedom, the struggle for Social Liberation from the yoke of capital and the state, then the assertion of a claim is all.

Nikos Maziotis member of Revolutionary Struggle

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*translate: R.S.

ANNOUNCEMENT OF HUNGER STRIKE BY ANARCHIST G.MIHAILIDIS KORIDALLOS PRISON – ATHENS

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In the adverse condition of imprisonment, where daily life is summarized
in the word subjugation, there are minimal means left to fight with.
Here where the prospect of complete liberation seems far, against the
total surrender they offer you as the only choice, come moments you
consider worthy of negotiation. No matter how foreign negotiating with
authority is to us. In no case however will we negotiate our anarchist
characteristics, we will not make a step back on the integrity of our
words, we will not sell out our struggle for which we are hostages of
the state.

Therefore even the self-destructive choice of hunger strike, which
wrinkles the humane facade of the state, is worthy. It consists a threat
to lay bare the murderous nature of the state, against its delusional
well-fed subjects. The murderous and tyrannical nature of authority, as
experienced by every living being that suffers and is murdered in the
factories, the war zones, the mine-trapped borders, the farms,
laboratories and abattoirs, the prisons and psychiatric clinics. And it
is worthy for any demand each hunger striker considers crucial for
themselves, whether it is about their living conditions, dignity, or
freedom. In this case, that my comrade and brother Nikos Romanos, is
putting his body as a barricade in order to demand ways out of the
asphyxiating condition of incarceration, I sought a way to express my
solidarity in practice. From the position I am in this present
situation, I decided to participate in the rotating hunger strike
beginning by us the comrades arrested after the double robbery in Velvedo. As of
today 17/11, I start a hunger strike until his demand is met.

This choice of ours intends to contribute to the further mobilization of
the comrades outside, in order to multiply and intensify the multiform
actions of solidarity, something that opens one more battle front with
the state, therefore also a scope of awareness of new comrades.

The hard times we are going through is another reason to fight harder
and not compromise.
Because the state will always form the social correlations making the
choice of individual or collective insurrection an object of tough
punishment, it is time to disengage from defeatist “realisms” and
“weighed up” decisions of retreat which always give ground to the enemy,
postponing the action for a future which inactivity itself makes it
inevitably more ominous.
It is necessary to overcome ourselves and the entrenched perceptions we
drag inside us.

SOLIDARITY TO HUNGER STRIKERS NIKOS ROMANOS AND IRAKLIS KOSTARIS
SOLIDARITY MEANS ATTACK

Giannis Michailidis

ps;(Iraklis Kostaris, imprisoned member of the R.O. 17 November)
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Ayotzinapa’s Uncomfortable Dead By Charlotte María Sáenz, Other Worlds

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Image: Open Source #IlustradoresConAyotzinapa

Vivos se los llevaron y vivos los queremos. “Alive, they were taken, and alive we want them back,” became the national and international public’s rallying cry for the 43 disappeared male student teachers attacked by municipal police and then handed over to the Guerreros Unidos drug gang on September 26, 2014 in Iguala, Guerrero, Mexico. This remains the rallying cry even after the official press conference of the Attorney General (PGR)[2] announced last Friday that those missing had most likely been executed and burnt to ashes as detailed in the suspected assassins’ video testimonies shared at the press conference alongside maps and photographs of suggestive evidence. However, there is no conclusive proof yet and so the 43 missing remain undead. Their parents refuse to accept this verdict, and in doing so, reveal the state’s incompetency, not only to deliver justice, but also to act with any kind of legitimacy or credibility before a populace to whom it has become ever more clear that the federal government is in fact deeply implicated in the violence it claims to oppose.

This refusal of death has led to rage in all of those protesting in the streets, on social media and even in the National Chamber of Deputies, where photographs of the missing 43 surround Deputy Luisa María Alcalde Luján who while withstanding the interruptions and dismissal of her peers, insists that Ayotzinapa is a State crime. The PGR press conference was itself a theater of death that revealed many gruesome details, but no definitive confirmation of whether the disappeared are, in fact, dead. Attorney General Jesús Murillo Karam characterized the inconclusive investigation as bastante exitosa, quite successful, but also emphasized that he could not confirm that the ashes found belonged to the students without further mitochondrial DNA studies for which they have sent the remains to a specialized lab in Austria.

Perhaps unwittingly, Attorney General Murillo Karam pointed to a difference in individualist vs. collective ways of being and knowing that produce radically different approaches to action. In response to a reporter’s question about whether the parents of the missing believed him, he explained that the parents of the 43 disappeared son gente que toman decisiones en conjunto, are people that make decisions together. It is not about whether any of the parents as individuals believes or disbelieves Murillo Karam’s evidence—although they have since visited the alleged garbage dump crime site and confirmed their disbelief based on what they observed. Rather, theirs is a shared and common refusal to accept the insufficient state evidence and its silence about its own complicity in the attacks and probable execution of their sons. Collective decision-making is characteristic of Mesoamerican communities and is still widely practiced in much of the territory of what is today called the nation-state of Mexico. This points to an important distinction between how decisions are made in the vertical elite power centers “above” in what contemporary political theorist/activist Gustavo Esteva calls el México Imaginario, Imaginary Mexico, and in the participatory assemblies of grassroots indigenous communities “below” from what anthropologist Guillermo Bonfíl Batalla famously termed México Profundo. These metaphors suggest that the actual power of the elite functioning through what has increasingly become a narco-state, is imagined, conjured up through the artifice of the mass-media duopoly Televisa and TV Azteca, a crucial part of the long-standing recipe of submission, by keeping people badly educated, misinformed and mal-nourished. But the rumblings from below, of the many dead and of these most recent 43 undead, together with those deeply held memories of ways of being, knowing and doing from México Profundo are joining up with the ranks of the living to combat the fear that can momentarily pause Mexico’s deep and persistent resistance.

Antithetical to the fear that often weaves its wave through the narco-state’s theater of death is the defiant Mosaic of Life portrayed in multiple performances and visual arts representations (such as here) from all over the world giving “life” through faces and names to the missing 43. Forty-three student-teachers have now come to signify all of the disappeared and killed, by growing exponentially into a movement calling itself “43 x 43,” where thousands continue to take the streets in Mexico City and cities all over the nation and world. #Ya me cansé (“I am tired” said Attorney General Murillo Karam after an hour of presenting and responding to questions) was immediately taken up as a new hashtag for Mexican society to express that it, too, is tired, tired of being afraid, of being full of digna rabia, dignified rage. Students and teachers everywhere are rising up to greet these undead, who with the approximately 100,000 killed or disappeared since 2006, the start of this drug war under former President Calderón, call us to fight for dignity in both life and death.

The refusal by the parents of the disappeared 43 is part of a larger refusal: that of a Mexican society fed up with decades of terror and death at the mercy of an increasingly horrific narco-state. It is also a refusal of the dead to remain dead, and so in this week right after a particularly poignant Dia de Muertos, Day of the Dead celebration in Mexico and its diaspora, the dead return multiplied exponentially. This is similar to what happened last May in the Zapatista autonomous municipality known as el Caracol de la Realidad [3] in the state of Chiapas, where a teacher known as Galeano was murdered by paramilitary forces. At the pre-dawn ceremony held there in Galeano’s honor on May 25, 2014, Zapatista Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos announced that he, Marcos, would cease to exist. He then disappeared into the night. The assembled heard a disembodied voice address them: “Good dawn compañeras and compañeros. My name is Galeano, Subcomandante Insurgente Galeano. Does anybody else respond to that name?” In response, hundreds of voices affirmed “Yes, we are all Galeano!” And so Galeano came back to life collectively, in all of those assembled, and now 43 disappeared student-teachers have now multiplied into thousands demanding justice from the state. The Zapatistas do not seek revenge for Galeano’s murder, but rather justice for all; in making this important differentiation, they echo the larger country’s calls. Dignity belongs to both the dead and the living…and both refuse to be extinguished as the globalized Death Power Machine would have them be. As the now “deceased” Zapatista Subcomandante Marcos, now Subcomandante Galeano in honor of his deceased compañero, said: “Quisieron enterrarnos, pero no sabían que eramos semilla.” They wanted to bury us, but they didn’t know we were seeds.

Mexico’s bloody history has buried many seeds of resistance, which have sprouted in all sorts of creative grassroots-led alternatives. Among these are various policías comunitarias, community police, from Michoacán to Guerrero [4] that begin to build greater autonomies that visualize a better life with alternative education, health and governing systems. Seventeen of the 43 disappeared students were from the Costa Chica region, one of the poorest and most marginalized areas where policías comunitarias operate under principles of community justice. [5]  There is now a call for a nation-wide general strike, which includes taking the Mexico City Benito Juarez Airport, scheduled for this coming November 20th, the 104th anniversary of the Mexican Revolution.

Let us see if this newly sprouted 43 x 43 movement can finally edge the country closer to comprehensive structural change that can nourish the kind of collective leadership that already exists in another of Mexico’s poorest provinces: Chiapas. The Zapatista alternative political system has existed for over 20 years, and is a viable home-grown model of a systemic alternative to the capitalist narco-state. Small communities across the nation have already been building their own versions of autonomy–whether around healthcare, education, justice or government. This might be an opportunity to take this learning to the next level. It’s not only the dead who are now uncomfortable, but also those who deny the living.

 

[1] With a nod to “Muertos Incomodos,” The Uncomfortable Dead, a Mexican novel co-written by spokesman Subcomandante Marcos of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation and Mexico City crime writer Paco Ignacio Taibo II, in 2004.

[2] In Mexico, the Procuraduría General de la República (PGR) is an institution belonging to the federal executive branch that is responsible for the investigation and prosecution of federal crimes.

[3] With profound, beautiful and symbolic names that describe alternate realities and places, like La Realidad: Mar de la Esperanza de Nuestro Sueños (The Reality: Sea of the Hope of our Dreams), the Zapatistas give names and actions to other parallel geographies that nourish their movement, one which holds an ethical compass for so many others around the world.

[4] For an in-depth description, please read Greg Berger and Oscar Oiivera,“ Community Police in Guerrero’s Costa Chica Region to Celebrate 19 Years of a Better Way to Combat Crime and Corruption,” Narco News, November 7, 2014.

[5] Ezequiel Flores Contreras, “Padres de normalistas recorren basurero de Cocula y reiteran “No les creemos,” Proceso, 9 de noviembre de 2014.

 

Charlotte Sáenz is Education Coordinator for Other Worlds and teaches at the California Institute for Integral Studies in San Francisco, where she is a founding member of the Center for Art and Social Justice. She has 20 years experience working globally in schools, streets, universities, refugee camps, autonomous zones and traveling programs in her native Mexico, throughout Lebanon, and the United States. She returns yearly to work with Universidad de la Tierra Chiapas, Al-Jana in Beirut, and taught on World Learning’s global traveling program “Beyond Globalization.” She is a member of the global Learning Societies and the International Organization for a Participatory Society.

 

Copyleft Charlotte Sáenz: You may reprint this article in whole or in part. Please credit any text or original research you use to Charlotte Sáenz (and/or) Beverly Bell Beverly Bell, Other Worlds.

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GJEP campaigner joins hunger strike against FL homeless hate laws

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“Celebrity Chef” Arnold on Wednesday with Anonymous via http://www.homelesshatelaws.blogspot.com/

Our GJEP campaigner in FL, Ruddy, asked us to post this article from theNYT about Arnold Abbott, the 90-year-old man who is continually and purposefully defying the repressive laws coming out of Florida.

As far as I can tell, the laws attempt to privatize feeding the poor and homeless, which is about as shockingly far from the values of the commons as one can get, right?

Our NO GE trees campaigner is on a 24 hour hunger strike until midnight tonight in protest of what she and others see as homeless hate crime laws. She is based in Florida, which is also part of the wide swath of the Southeast that will be faced with GE eucalyptus trees if ArborGen’s USDA petition is approved.

20141113_223603Our campaigner reports: “Jillian [Pim, named in the NYT article, who is on day 15 of an extended hunger strike] will be at city hall all day doing a press conference before FNB and other groups continue to share food with the homeless in defiance of these inhumane laws. Jillian is asking that folks wear purple in solidarity with her and I talked to her yesterday, she is feeling pretty weak and could use all the support she can get.”

The NYT article takes the usual swerves left, right and center, but whenever you think this article is going off the road entirely, it comes back around. The photo with the article on the NYT website does a good job showing not only Abbott but also the wider movement around him.

Florida Finds Tricky Balance Over Feeding of the Homeless

By Lizette Alvarez and Frances Robles. New York Times. 12 November 2014.

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — As dusk settled over the city’s main beach, Arnold Abbott, frail but determined, broke the law late Wednesday afternoon. Mr. Abbott, a 90-year-old World War II veteran, stood on the pavement and piled tilapia and rice and beans on plates for dozens of homeless people. A crowd stood and watched, waiting to see what the police would do.

Read the whole article here.

Read more about the movement in FL and the hunger strikes here.

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Palestinian bus driver found hanged in Jerusalem, sparks riots amid rumors of foul play

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Palestinian protesters burn a tyre in front of Israel's controversial barrier that separates the West Bank town of Abu Dis from Jerusalem on November 17, 2014.(AFP Photo / Ahmad Gharabli)

A Palestinian bus driver has been found hanged inside his vehicle at a depot in Jerusalem, with the Israeli police saying the man committed suicide, while the driver’s family claim he was lynched by Israelis.

The bus driver, who has been identified as Youssef al-Ramouni from al-Tur in East Jerusalem, worked for Egged, an Israeli company.

Other drivers were, according to the Ma’an news agency, alarmed to see al-Ramouni’s bus parked in the terminal late on Sunday evening, when it was supposed to be out on its route. They entered the vehicle and discovered al-Ramouni’s body hanging from a steel bar.

Israeli police say a preliminary investigation showed no sign of an assault.

“The bus driver committed suicide, there is no other indication other than it was a suicide case,” said police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld, according to Reuters.

READ MORE: Vast majority of Israeli-on-Palestinian crime claims routinely unsolved – rights group

Palestinian media identifies hanged man as Yusuf Hassan al-Ramouni, frm ’s At-Tur area – clashes there now.
Greece: 20k Students Protest on Polytechnic Uprising Anniversary

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ATHENS, Greece — More than 20,000 demonstrators have joined a rally in Athens marking the 41st anniversary of a deadly student uprising against the country’s former dictatorship. More than 7000 riot police have been deployed and several confrontations have already taken place today.

In Greece schools have been occupied for a week,  on the 13th the rector of Athens University was locked and guarded with the same riot police standing guard that attacked the demonstration on Wednesday bloodying the heads of two students.

After an entire day of protests and events attended by 10’s of thousands who demonstrated without any major incident, Greek police began a brutal crackdown.  Police attacked with teargas, sound grenades and batons injuring at least 7 protesters and two Vice-Gr journalists who were both sent to the hospital for care. 73 people were detained and 10 arrested. The videos below document the police violence. Many protesters did try and remain calm and continue with marches despite violent police while others retaliated and resisted the police assault by throwing stones and even molotovs.

In Athens Greek motorbike cops beat man unconscious, then leave him helpless in the street.

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Student protests and clashes in Greece

In Greece schools are occupied since one week, and today the rector of Athens University locked the university with riot police that attacked the students demostration.
It’s been sometime since we last heard from the Greek movement. But, thanks to the Greek government and its riot police, today became a day of large student demonstrations, clashes with the cops, injuries and rising tension. First, let’s see what happened. Early in the morning, the Athens Law School students arrived at their University in order to apply their Assembly decision, which included a symbolic occupation of their University until the 17th of November, commemoration day of the 1973 student revolt against the military dictatorship.

The problem was that the school was already occupied by the riot police. The Athenian Universities’ rectors had decided to apply a peculiar “lock out” of the students and employees, supposedly for “security reasons”. The government gave a helping hand by sending hundreds of cops, in riot gear, to apply the decision. The cops assaulted the students, seriously injuring a couple of them and dispersing the rest. The news circulated, public outrage was expressed for the police blockades and violence, hundreds of students demonstrated in the center of Athens during lunchtime, and another protest, involving thousands, is now going around the Universities, confronting a total police blockade of the city center.

A question I guess the Italian reader would put is why this mess, and why now? November is the traditional month of student mobilization in Greece. Yet, in the last years, seldom –if ever- did the protests go beyond the symbolic level, as the movement was too preoccupied with the country’s current problems to seriously devote itself in commemorations.This school year (anno scolastico) though, started with incredible problems for both schools and universities, due to underfunding and lack of teaching and administrative personnel. Hundreds of schools were occupied in the previous weeks and soon enough the universities joined the struggle.

The mobilization, if we want to be sincere, seemed quite weak until now. In a collapsed country, where everyone is waiting for the government to collapse as well and for the elections that will bring the left-wing SYRIZA to power, some hundreds of occupied schools do not make a real difference. It is also noteworthy that the student population of Greece, which was traditionally at the avant-garde of the movements and had led all major mobilizations since the 1990s and up to 2008, was largely absent from the large anti-austerity protests of 2010-2012.
But, as it seems, our surrealist government is doing its best to reverse the situation. As I am concluding these lines, the student protest arrived at the Polytechnic University of Athens in Exarchia (where it all started back in 1973), the students forced open the doors and entered with the purpose of making yet another Assembly. The police immediately attacked. Eye-witnesses report several injuries among protesters; hundreds are barricaded inside the Polytechnic. The burning smell of tear gas is spreading, once again, in Athens.

By Markos Vogiatzoglou, http://eagainst.com/articles/student-protests-and-clashes-in-greece/

November 17 or why this day is so important for Greeks

A date haunts Greece, the date of November 17.
It’s the date when the uprising of several hundred of students, who stood up against the military dictatorship by occupying the Athens Polytechnic, was brutally crushed.

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The iconic photo of a tank driving through the Polytechnic’s gate is a symbol of freedom for (probably) all Greeks…
It was back in 1973. The student uprising was crushed but the beggining of the end for the military junta begun that day. The colonels fell from power a year later, in the summer of 1974.
Aristotle Sarrikostas: The photo reporter of the invasion of tank in Polytechnic University of Athens

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The historic photograph of Aristotle Sarrikostas, the only photo reporter who has managed to capture the moment of entering the tank in Polytechnic along with footage of just 35 seconds of the Dutch cameraman Albert Kurad, were the compelling documents to refute the initial police statements that “in the University of Athens did not happen anything”

 

Anarchism and Working Class Struggles

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The Robber Barons

Continuing with the installments to the “Anarchist Current,” the Afterword to Volume Three of Anarchism: A Documentary History of Libertarian Ideas, in this section I describe how, in the 1880s and 1890s, anarchists renewed their involvement in working class struggles in Europe and the Americas, leading to the emergence of anarcho-syndicalism.

Anarchism and the Workers’ Struggles

The Haymarket Martyrs were part of the so-called “Black International,” the International Working People’s Association. The IWPA drew its inspiration from the anti-authoritarian International, and adopted a social revolutionary anarchist program at its founding Congress in Pittsburgh in 1883, openly advocating armed insurrection and the revolutionary expropriation of the capitalists by the workers themselves (Volume One, Selection 55). Following the example of the anti-authoritarian International of the 1870s, the IWPA sought to create revolutionary trade unions that would press for the immediate demands of the workers, for example the 8 hour day, while preparing for the social revolution. Around the same time, similar ideas were being propounded by the Workers’ Federation of the Spanish Region (Volume One, Selection 36), and by anarchists involved in working class movements in Latin America.

But by 1894 in Europe, when Malatesta again urged anarchists to go to the people, many agreed with him that after “twenty years of propaganda and struggle… we are today nearly strangers to the great popular commotions which agitate Europe and America” (Volume One, Selection 53). One of those anarchists was Fernand Pelloutier (1867-1901). Sensing growing disillusionment among the workers with the electoral tactics of the socialist parties, some anarchists had again become involved in the trade union movement. Pelloutier argued that through participation in the trade unions, anarchists “taught the masses the true meaning of anarchism, a doctrine” which can readily “manage without the individual dynamiter” (Volume One, Selection 56). It was from this renewed involvement in the workers’ struggles that anarcho-syndicalism was born (Volume One, Chapter 12).

Pelloutier argued, as Bakunin had before him (Volume One, Selection 25), that revolutionary trade union organizations, unlike the state, are based on voluntary membership and therefore operate largely on the basis of free agreement. Any trade union “officials” are subject to “permanent revocability,” and play a coordinating rather than a “directorial” role. Through their own autonomous organizations, the workers will come “to understand that they should regulate their affairs for themselves,” and will be able to prevent the reconstitution of state power after the revolution by taking control of “the instruments of production,” seeing “to the operation of the economy through the free grouping,” rendering “any political institution superfluous,” with the workers having already become accustomed “to shrug off tutelage” through their participation in the revolutionary trade union, or “syndicalist,” movement (Volume One, Selection 56).

Also noteworthy in Pelloutier’s call for renewed anarchist involvement in the workers’ movement was his endorsement of anarchist communism as the ultimate goal of the revolutionary syndicalist movement. However, in France, after Pelloutier’s death, the revolutionary syndicalist organization, the Confédération Générale du Travail (CGT), adopted a policy of nonaffiliation with any party or doctrine, including anarchism. CGT militants, such as Pierre Monatte, claimed that within the CGT all doctrines enjoyed “equal tolerance” (Volume One, Selection 60). The CGT focused on the means of revolutionary action, such as direct action and the general strike, instead of arguing over ideology.

This was in contrast to anarcho-syndicalist union federations, such as the Workers’ Federations of the Argentine Region (FORA) and the Uruguayan Region (FORU), which, as with Pelloutier, recommended “the widest possible study of the economic-philosophical principles of anarchist communism” (Volume One, Selection 58). The anarcho-syndicalists sought to organize the workers into revolutionary trade unions through which they would abolish the state and capitalism by means of general strikes, factory occupations, expropriation and insurrection. For the most part, their ultimate goal was anarchist communism, the abolition of wage labour, private property and the state, and the creation of free federations of worker, consumer and communal associations, whether in Latin America (Volume One, Selection 95), Russia (Volume One, Selection 84), Japan (Volume One, Selection 107), Spain (Volume One, Selection 124), or elsewhere.

Anarcho-syndicalists were behind the reconstitution of the International Workers’ Association (IWA/AIT) in 1922, with a membership of about two million workers from 15 countries in Europe and Latin America. At their founding Congress, they explicitly endorsed “libertarian communism” as their goal and rejected any “form of statism, even the so-called ‘Dictatorship of the Proletariat’,” because dictatorship “will always be the creator of new monopolies and new privileges” (Volume One, Selection 114).

Anarchists who sought to work within revolutionary working class organizations or popular movements adopted different approaches regarding the proper relationship between their anarchist ideals and these broader based social movements. Some, such as Amadée Dunois (1878-1945), argued that anarchists needed their own organizations to coordinate their activities, to support their work within the trade unions and to spread their ideas, infusing the workers’ organizations “with the anarchist spirit” (Dunois, 1907). This model of dual organization was similar to what Bakunin had advocated during the First International, when he urged his comrades in his revolutionary brotherhood, the Alliance of Social Revolutionaries, which adhered to Bakunin’s anarchist program, to join the International in order to steer it in an anarchist direction.

Antonio Pellicer Paraire (1851-1916), a veteran of the anarchist Workers’ Federation of the Spanish Region (Volume One, Selection 36), acknowledged in an article from 1900 that, given the existing state of the workers’ movement, “parallel or dual organization has to be accepted,” with the anarchists maintaining their own revolutionary groups, but he argued that the primary focus must be on creating libertarian workers’ federations in which each worker is an equal and active participant, so as to prevent the development of a trade union bureaucracy and a de facto executive assuming control of the organization. Each organization must in turn retain “their autonomy and independence, free of meddling by other groups and with no one having methods, systems, theories, schools of thought, beliefs, or any faith shoved down his throat” (Volume One, Selection 57). Only through the self-activity of the masses can an anarchist society hope to be achieved.

In his posthumously published work, The Anarchist Conception of Syndicalism (1920), Neno Vasco (1878-1920), who was active in the Brazilian and Portuguese anarchist movements, warned of the dangers of self-proclaimed anarchist groups, “populated more by rebels than by anarchists,” seizing the initiative and forcing “emancipation” on the people by claiming “the right to act on its behalf,” instead of prompting the people “to look to its own liberation,” with “the persons concerned” taking matters “directly in hand.” For example, the provision of suitable housing “should be left to the tenants themselves,” a point later emphasized by Giancarlo de Carlo (Volume Two, Selection 18) and Colin Ward (1983), and “all the other production, transport and distribution services… should be entrusted to the workers working in each sector.”

Anarcho-Syndicalism

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Mexico: Judicial Police Fire on UNAM Students; Inciting More Protests

Chaos broke out yesterday afternoon at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) in Mexico City. 2 students and a dog were injured by bullets after judicial police fired live rounds on UNAM campus. The officer who shot them has been detained but the incident and what ensued afterwards have caused tensions in Mexico to reach a fever pitch.

The Che Guevara auditorium in UNAM has been used for almost 10 years as a location for student assemblies. UNAM was granted autonomy in 1929 under a series of “organic laws” which established the university’s academic freedom and independence from government. The university has its own campus security force.

When 5 judicial police officers entered UNAM campus and started taking pictures, students were suspicious and approached them to ask that they leave, citing that the police presence on campus was a violation of the university’s autonomy. The judicial police agents alleged they were there to investigate a report of a stolen cell phone which has been met with much sarcasm in social media and interpreted as a flimsy pretense to commit what students view as police espionage on UNAM campus.

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“Breaking: The Attorney General informs of the discovery of a grave full of cell phones, none correspond to the one sought in University City”

Read: “Too Many Mass Graves in Guerrero, Not Enough Transparency”

Just after students approached the judicial police to leave requesting that they leave, shots were fired and 2 students plus one dog were injured. According to official reports, the police fired warning shots in the air and are claiming self defense.

VIDEO: PGJDF elements shooting at UNAM students, violating the autonomy 11/15/2014

One student was hit in the leg, another was grazed by a bullet – both are in stable condition. Also the dog of one of the students in Che Guevara auditorium was injured but we are told that students got the dog to a vet in time and it should recover.

After firing “warning shots into the air” and injuring UNAM students, the judicial police fled dropping an ID badge and leaving their car behind. The officer who fired on the students has been arrested according to the local prosecutor. Students secured the car that was left behind by the judicial police in order to preserve potential evidence for investigators. Later in the evening, unknown hooded individuals set the car on fire.

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Car belonging to judicial police elements that shot students at UNAM campus November 15

On November 8 at a protest in the Zocalo of Mexico City, the front door of the presidential palace was set on fire. Reports circulated afterwards that the door was set on fire by infiltrators and was not something that had been planned in that night’s actions. Our sources say that a similar event occurred last night and that students did not burn this car on UNAM campus.

After the vehicle was set on fire granaderos (federal police) arrived on the campus, which only escalated tensions further. Video (below) shows more police aggression towards the students last night. Thankfully no injuries or arrests were reported and federal police were ordered to retreat.

The government of Mexico City has issued an apology to the university community for the incidents that occurred in University City (CU) and offered assurances they will act in strict adherence to the law. Protests have been raging all day today after yesterday’s police aggression on UNAM campus and protests are expected to continue and escalate in the coming days.

A caravan of parents and family of the missing normalistas from Ayotzinapa are traveling through Mexico right now, spreading word about the 43 missing students (please see our Mexico archives for background info). They are headed for the Zocalo in Mexico City and are scheduled to arrive on November 20, coinciding with the Mexican holiday Dia de la Revolución. The next few days are expected to be very large protests in Mexico and if security forces continue to provoke students, it will only serve to incite bigger protests.

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