Technological Progress & The Modern World

from Anathema

In an interview about his new book on precision and the modern world, Simon Winchester questioned whether we had gone too far. When making things to withstand such incredible tolerances, the components have to be incredibly precise, otherwise you have the example he gave of an airplane wing becoming irreparably damaged in flight due to a fraction of a millimeter of an error. He elaborated that we might be “in danger of fetishizing precision,” constructing our lives around it, and losing respect for simple skills and hand-made things.

You might notice that we don’t usually advocate half-measures in these pages. The life of an anti-capitalist under capitalism is often a life of compromise, for fear of imprisonment or death at the hands of the state, but we aspire to be so much more – and those times that appear as compromise may only be a disguise to keep us free as we continue to escalate our conflict. The recent spate of communiques surrounding May Day seems to attest to that.

During one of the May Day speeches beside City Hall, a member of the the Radical Education Department suggested that, “we need to go on the offensive” – and they are more right than they know. But with the continuation of absolute atrocities against the earth and its inhabitants (e.g. poisoned water, poisoned air, massive deforestation, indigenous genocide, racist murders by police), we would have a long way to go before we overcame our defensive position – meaning it is only more necessary that we attack, and do so by every means available.

“By insurrectional practice we mean the revolutionary activity that intends to take the initiative in the struggle and does not limit itself to waiting or to simple defensive responses to attacks by the structures of power.” – For an Antiauthoritarian Insurrectionist International

In a recent report by Counterpunch, it was put forth that environmentalists contribute to deforestation due to their consistent compromises with the state, maintaining the course of removing what very little remains of an already decimated landscape. Similarly, marching in the streets over those aforementioned atrocities, and asking the authorities in charge of those that committed them to address that “injustice,” doesn’t even begin to get to the point. Relying on accrued examples of earth-devastating malfeasance by a drilling company, as some residents are doing in “opposition” to the Mariner East 2 pipeline, again, doesn’t halt the problem – and doesn’t really address the the technological advances that allow for horizontal drilling, which has similarly made new advances in further contaminating our groundwater.

And what do they gain for their sacrifices? “Electronics-recycling innovator is going to prison for trying to extend computers’ lives.” On April 29th, it was reported that “Mahwah, NJ is fining Ramapough [Lenape Indians protesting proposed pipeline] up to $42,500 per day for prayer and sacred altar retroactively since March 29, 2018.” Bureaucracy prevails, as Mumia can’t even get a new trial under progressive DA Larry Krasner, despite lying and tampering by cops involved in testimony and evidence gathering, and overt racism by the judge. Whether or not you believe he did it (which really shouldn’t matter anyway), by the state’s own logic he should get a new trial.

The food and water in prisons, among other conditions in those modern slave plantations, have contributed to riots occurring in recent months – months ahead of a proposed prison strike beginning in August.

Meanwhile, the food and water we consume on the outside is also less nutritious than the wild foods that persisted before agriculture, and incredibly tainted. Industrial food production has recently contributed to E. coli outbreaks in Romaine Lettuce and ready-to-eat salads produced in PA, listeria contamination of milk in Lancaster County, staphylococcal enterotoxin and clostridial toxin contamination of beef, the contamination of sausages and beef in two different states with hard pieces of plastic – and that’s only since our last printing.

“Nearly 70% of Chicago’s tap water tested positive for brain damaging lead,” reads a headline, in the continuing tradition of poisonings that still affect Flint, MI; Chester, PA; and Philadelphia, among so many others.

The New York Times reported last month that a Sperm Whale was killed by 64 pounds of trash that clogged its intestines and stomach, further stating that “as the amount of plastic in the ocean grows every year, some scientists believe that debris might kill more animals than the effects of climate change.” Yes, more than climate change: the human-induced mass-extinction event.

“Today’s ecological crises are a warning sign that capitalism itself is not sustainable. The problem is not that we lack reformist legislation; the problem is that our economic system fundamentally disconnects us from the environment.” Additionally, those technologies developed alongside the growth of that economic system contribute to our alienation from the natural world and to the economic system’s control over our lives.

The potential expiration of “Net Neutrality” on June 11th is not the end of freedom on the internet. Being conceptualized as a “right,” provided by the large corporations that provide the necessary infrastructure for that communication, means that legal use of the internet is already mediated and therefore not free. Freedom means having power – not the power to control other people or their means to communicate (consider how internet service providers already slow down your connection over particular downloads), but the power to control the circumstances of one’s own life. You do not have freedom if anyone else has power over you, no matter how benevolently, tolerantly and permissively that power may be exercised.

“Facebook harvested 3.5 billion Instagram images without warning their owners” until much later, as they built an Artificial Intelligence photo recognition system. French police were recently revealed to also be using AI to “predict protests and neutralise them,” and “Facebook terms now ban posting photos of undercover agents infiltrating your political group, protest, etc.” – those very same infiltrators that have entrapped activists leading to long prison sentences when no crime had been committed (e.g. Eric McDavid).

“Compromise continues the trajectory and we can’t afford to stay the course.”

“Five journalists arrested while covering Standing Rock still face charges – more than one year later,” reads a headline from two weeks ago, and 59 J20 defendants are still suffering the stresses and costs of fighting decades in prison for attending a protest. It’s a wonder anyone attends protests at all considering the potential costs incurred for so little return. But I guess a student walkout at Temple University in favor of sanctuary status on May Day in a state that “is a free-for-all” for cops that want to arrest undocumented immigrants is really the least you can do.

The two black men being arrested in a local Starbucks minutes after arriving, as they awaited the arrival of another member of their party, is not a new development, but its sensationalism has contributed to this common trend becoming news-worthy. Recent nationwide reports of white people calling the cops on black people having a cookout, on a black Yale student for napping in a common area, on black teenagers for shopping at a Nordstrom, on black folks for checking out of their Airbnb, on five black women for not golfing fast enough at a country club, popularly exhibit the racial profiling that leads to the higher rates of incarceration and murder by police. Take the example of the black man murdered outside of a California Walmart when cops fired 30 rounds into a vehicle after he was suspected of theft, and also wounded one of the passengers. Or the Democracy Now! report that a “black teen [was] sentenced to 30 years in prison for a murder committed by cop.” Then there were the examples of “Native American brothers pulled from campus tour after nervous parent calls police,” and the “young Santee Sioux man shot by police officer while being dragged on the ground.”

This seems an appropriate time to remember that on May 13, 1985, the Philadelphia Police dropped a bomb in a residential neighborhood that killed five children.

Those old fall backs of modernity that claim we’re better off now, as life is safer and easier than it once was, seem mostly unfounded by this only partial round-up of recent news reports. Even before mentioning that the World Health Organization is now warning that “common infections and minor injuries which have been possible to treat for decades may once again kill millions” due to the overuse of antibiotics. Those complex surgeries and cancers that the developed world has been so triumphant in treating, even though it has been the creator of many of the causes of those illnesses, are suddenly becoming extremely difficult to treat. And to add insult to injury, Business Insider reports that “the average American worker takes less vacation time than a medieval peasant.”

The so-called popular alternatives presented to us and advocated for in order to reach the masses, defer to the same Bernie Sanders who once advocated for the dissolution of the CIA, but now just appeals to have a less overtly offensive head for the organization that notoriously contributed to assassinations and torture as a matter of course. Socialist mouthpiece Jacobin can write a whole article on Brexit without mentioning its racially motivated anti-immigrant policies. Local “independent” news site, the Philadelphia Citizen, can propagate its founder’s opinion that we need Amazon to build its HQ2 in Philly to keep the college transplants here, despite the consequent gentrification that will continue to force out already marginalized residents. These are continuations of the path that have lead to the deadly-serious, alienated reality that we currently suffer.

Compromise continues the trajectory and we can’t afford to stay the course.

Anathema Volume 4 Issue 5

from Anathema

Volume 4 Issue 5 (PDF for printing 11 x 17)

Volume 4 Issue 5 (PDF for reading 8.5 x 11)

In this issue:

  • May Day Communiques
  • Update On The Economy
  • Decadence And Risk
  • Technological Progress & The Modern World
  • What Went Down
  • Freedom For J20 Defendants: Call To Action
  • Keep My Name Out Your Mouth

Anathema Volume 4 Issue 4

from Anathema

Volume 4 Issue 4 (PDF for printing 11 x 17)

Volume 4 Issue 4 (PDF for reading 8.5 x 11)

In this issue:

  • Action, Individualism, and Anarchist Materialism
  • Science, the New Nobility
  • What Went Down
  • Amazon Watch
  • Past May Days
  • May Day General Strike
  • May Day Jawn
  • Attack Cops
  • On Communiques
  • Poem by Allie Warren

Episode 37 The Magnificast interview with the radical Quaker Friendly Fire Collective

from Soundcloud

Me and Hye Sung Francis from the Friendly Fire Collective were interviewed by Dean and Matt from another radical Christian podcast called The Magnificast about our Quaker organizing praxis, our upcoming May Day retreat in Philadelphia, and more! The deadline to apply for the retreat has been extended to March 29th, so if you are interested there is still time to apply 🙂

An update on our f/Friends who were arrested in Lansing:…iends/

[Listen Here]

Educate to Liberate – A Conversation with the Radical Education Department

from Cutting Class

Over the next few days, we’ll be publishing pieces to highlight the work of some of the groups participating in the Cutting Class counterinfo network. We hope this will provide some clarity on where our crews are coming from and how that affects the way we have organized this project.

We also hope that these interview questions can provide a template for other autonomous groups to distill a collective understanding of their context and projects. If your crew finds these questions useful, write up a summary of your conversations and send them our way as a form of introduction! Cutting Class can be your platform, and we’d love to publish an interview with your crew and start collaborating—not just around CC but also with any other projects that these introductions might incite!

Today’s featured organization is RED (Radical Education Department), an autonomous collective based in Philadelphia.

Introduce your crew: what projects are some you working on, how long have you been around, where are you based, etc etc.

RED—the Radical Education Department—is based in Philadelphia and is made up of undergraduate and graduate students, contingent faculty, and full-time faculty. We grew out of “Nova Resistance,” which was a collective that we hastily formed to plan a direct action in the spring of 2017 at Villanova University. We disrupted a talk by the eugenicist fake academic Charles Murray, who was invited on campus by a Koch front-group called the Matthew J. Ryan center. We stormed the front of the event with a banner, chanted and yelled to disrupt the talk, and then (when we were taken out by security) created an impromptu, radical teach-in directly outside the event space’s windows.

Footage of our direct action is embedded above. We also prepared a statement about the event that can be read here, as well as a broader intervention aimed at reframing the “free speech” debate (click here to read).

From there, the core of Nova Resistance decided to look beyond resistance on a single campus. We formed RED to help build and connect revolutionary struggles across various educational sites, as well as to add to the efforts of those developing tools to integrate antifascist resistance into a broader, positive project of socio-economic transformation (our initial manifesto can be read here).

Our research and writing fights back against the liberal and conservative ideologies that demonize radical struggle, and we’re aiming to cultivate connections between campus groups in order to spark broad, radical, multi-campus actions in the future. That kind of project—involving revolutionary, federated students, teachers, and campus workers—can be a powerful tool, especially when merged with off-campus movements.

Anathema Volume 4 Issue 3

from Anathema

Volume 4 Issue 3 (PDF for printing 11 x 17)

Volume 4 Issue 3 (PDF for reading 8.5 x 11)

In this issue:

  • Arts & Culture
  • Watching the Police
  • What Went Down
  • Cops: the Worse Kind of Criminals
  • Power Concedes Nothing Without Some Hands
  • If Afrin Falls it Will Have Been Too Late
  • Afrin Has Fallen
  • Opioid Epideminc
  • Mariner East 2 Update
  • Ungovernable Bodies at Oceti Sakowin

CORRECTION: Jack “Pale Horse” Corbin Previously Falsely ID’d – Is Actually Daniel W. McMahon of Brandon, FL!

from Philly Antifa

Daniel William McMahon, aka Jack “Pale Horse” Corbin, of Brandon FL
Jack “Pale Horse” Corbin posting the video above discussing his role as leader of Open Carry Florida. This is from the leaked discord chat logs courtesy of Unicorn Riot.

As many of our readers are probably aware, in the aftermath of the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, VA in August, there was a huge push among Neo-Nazis, especially those associated with 8chan’s nazi-infested “Pol” board, to dox and harass Anti-Fascists who participated in protesting the rally.

One nazi in particular, going by the alias Jack “Pale Horse” Corbin, was especially prolific in doxxing Anti-Racists and Anti-Fascists. Eager to unmask Pale Horse, Anti-Fascists within the TORCH network, as well as independent Antifa, rushed their research and made a critical error by falsely identifying Corbin as Jake Loubriel of Dania Beach, FL.

To be fair, not only is Loubriel a far-right racist Trump supporter, he has participated in doxxing Antifa, just not under the alias Jack Corbin.  Corbin stole pictures of Loubriel from social media and intentionally used them as a red herring to throw off Antifa.  This was an deliberate deception by Corbin; not an oversight by Antifa. Loubriel and Corbin are both living in Florida and have intersected on open carry and 2nd amendment pages.

Loubriel also appears to support Corbin doxxing and threatening Anti-Racists and Antifa. So while we should always strive for 100% accuracy in our reporting, and those who rushed to identify Corbin as Loubriel should take a serious lesson from this, they can take solace in knowing that the person falsely accused of being Jack Corbin is still a piece of shit far-right racist who has participated in the doxxing of Antifa, just not this Corbin piece of shit in particular.

For our part, we would like to apologize to our readers for re-posting and blindly accepting the dox of Loubriel.  The information seemed legitimate and the source was trusted, but, obviously, we should have independently confirmed it as such.

After learning that Loubriel was not Corbin via an infiltrator, our intel department went to work trying to positively ID them once and for all. After much research, we are prepared to name Jack “Pale Horse” Corbin as Daniel William McMahon of Brandon, FL.

The Teacher Strike in West Virginia: Interview with IWW Teacher Michael Mochaidean – JPS

from Radical Education Department


West Virginia has been rocked by a statewide strike by teachers, bus drivers, and other school employees.  Today, March 2nd, the strike enters its seventh day.

Beginning on February 22nd, workers shut down public schools in all 55 of West Virginia’s counties, rejecting abysmal and declining teacher pay and the state’s attack on public employees’ health insurance.  The Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), one of the unions helping to organize the strikers, reports the following worker demands:

  • A natural gas severance tax that creates a self-sustaining source of revenue for PEIA [Public Employees Insurance Agency] and public employee pay.

  • No regressive taxes, which ultimately affect working-class families more than the wealthy elite.

  • A permanent tabling to any and all legislation pertaining to co-tenancy and joint development, which allow large natural gas industries to engulf local landowners.

  • A pay raise of 5% per year over the next half decade.

  • A permanent tabling to any and all legislation pertaining to charter schools, voucher systems, and any attempts to privatize public schools.

On February 27th, Governor Justice announced an agreement with three of the major teacher unions in the state: a 5% pay increase for teachers as well as a 3% increase for state employees generally. Union officials and the governor alike pleaded for school employees to return to work, despite the fact that key demands remain unmet.

On March 1st, however–defying the governor and official union leaders–teachers refused to return to work, swarming the capitol and chanting “It’s not over.”

Meanwhile, that same day, even the modest pay raise was refused in the state legislature.

Below is an interview conducted via email between John Schultz of RED and Michael Mochaidean, a West Virginia teacher and member of the IWW.


JS: Can you give a brief account of how the statewide teachers’ strike in West Virginia began and developed?  What role did the rank-and-file play, and what role did the IWW as well as the major teacher unions (AFT, WVEA, etc.) play?

MM: I am speaking here as an individual within the IWW, not as a representative for the West Virginia IWW or the IWW broadly speaking. […]

The statewide strike did not originate with the unions and their leadership, but rather with the rank-and-file of their membership. It began as an effort by members to do away with the strategies of leadership that seemed stale and unable to adapt to changing times. For example, leadership had endorsed Governor Jim Justice as a Democrat, but he soon changed his party and was in opposition to the unions and teachers by and large, so we felt that this strategy of endorsing and electing conservative Democrats would only backfire in the future. This movement was entirely rank-and-file in its beginning and as it has progressed over the past week. Both AFT and WVEA have worked jointly on these issues at the county and state level, with many members acting on behalf of the other.

This cross union solidarity raised the consciousness among many teachers of the need to perhaps consider uniting the associations in the future. The IWW is relatively new to West Virginia in the sense that we have no official chapter in the state and only a few disconnected members. However, the outpouring of support from IWW members has been immense. Wobblies from the southern states reached out to me after they listened to my interview with IGD and we began organizing for more direct control over the unions. We developed brochures, pamphlets, and literature to be distributed throughout the state to keep up the momentum for grassroots organizing within and outside the official associations. We also set up a strike fund to fund possible leafleting campaigns, renting halls, inviting speakers, and the like.

JS: What conditions as well as organizing strategies do you think helped make this strike a broad and powerful one?  And what could others–not only unions, but social movements generally–learn from the West Virginia teachers?

MM: The anarcho-syndicalist tradition offers the best analysis, in my mind, as to how we can understand the teachers movement and its efficacy. The inherent contradictions in capitalism and the resource paradox nature of our state provided necessary conditions for public service personnel to slowly lose their rights as laborers. However, the history of West Virginia is one of mutual aid and community support that grows organically rather than through vanguard party structures.  Therefore, anarchist traditions of mutual aid and support are more palatable and grew within the associations themselves. Furthermore, by framing this discussion as one of public employees versus the state, we engaged in the syndicalist tradition that workers of those areas should determine their destinies.

I would say that other social movements should try to look at what is happening here in the state as part and parcel of our current late stage of capitalism. Focus the discourse on larger, interrelated issues, but at the heart, deal with one issue that can connect all others. For us, it was our insurance plan. By tying the issues in our insurance plan to larger issues of worker autonomy, capitalism, and corporate elites profiting off of our labor, we could bring in these other points simultaneously without losing traction on the issue of healthcare.

JS: On February 27th, it was announced that the teachers’ strike would end: Governor Jim Justice had come to an agreement with leaders from three of the major unions organizing the strike.  And yet the IWW-WVA points out that key demands haven’t been met: a tax on natural gas to help fund teachers’ health insurance and pay, for example.  What does this deal signify about the major unions and their relationship to workers?   

MM: Our statement [which can be found here] is reflective of the conditions of public employees who were overwhelmingly opposed to any compromise with the state that did not include long term funding for PEIA. The severance tax, proposed by Sen. Ojeda, has been continuously shot down by the legislature, in part because of the control the oil and natural gas industry lobby has in the state. Public employees seemed to feel that the deal was intended to fracture the unions and their support among all public employees, as well as the communities they serve. Thus, they decided to engage in another day of work stoppage (03/01) until these issues have been voted on.

We do not wish for rank-and-file members to leave their primary unions, but rather to engage in more direct efforts to hold their leadership accountable and ensure that whatever deals are made are done so with full knowledge by all of those involved.

JS: Teacher have often been on the front lines of union struggles in recent years.  What role do teachers play within the broader struggles of workers in America? What possibilities are there for teachers to connect with and support other kinds of workers?

MM: Teachers had to take to the front lines in this state because other public employees – police officers, DOH, EMTs – are unable to call a walkout because their careers are deemed essential. Since we still have a relatively strong union presence for educators in this state, we used this avenue to push for benefits for all public employees, knowing that if we succeeded, they would succeed, but also that if we failed, they would fail, too.

Teachers are the public face of our communities, and work stoppages by educators can highlight the complexities of local autonomy, funding, and the economic conditions of our time.

JS: Where does the IWW in West Virginia go from here?  Can you share some key short-term and long-term goals, not only as for teachers but beyond too?

MM: Short-term, we hope to push union leadership to not compromise on deals that their rank-and-file members reject. After all, it is the members that pay their salaries, so the members deserve to have a say in what is voted upon.

Long-term, we hope to grow the IWW in the state and in major areas where membership can be sustained. This strike has brought attention to issues we as an industrial union have been describing for over a century – the working class and the capitalist class have nothing in common. Business unions, while good in their own right, will make decisions for their members against their wishes. Since the IWW is entirely democratically run, we hope to raise awareness in the state about these ideas, how to continue organizing against capitalism and its effects, and connect the local struggles in our state with international struggles for worker solidarity.

JS: I’ll end with a broader question: what limits are worker struggles facing in the coming year, and what important possibilities are opening up for them?   What do you think is needed for those struggles to become broader, more coordinated, and more powerful?  

Currently, we are seeing electoral strategies touting the singular way that the working class can regain its rights in this state and in the country at large. The Democrats are pushing hard at midterms for a blue wave to bring a coalition of forces to Congress and state legislatures. However, in this state, we have a long history of conservative Democrats who differ little from the Republican Party. We do not wish to see this movement become simply another Wisconsin in 2011, where the working class struggle was diverted by establishment politicians into establishment politics. When that struggle ended, and we had lost, the momentum had been shattered. By not allowing our struggle to be co-opted, we can control the narrative, direct its course, and ultimately use direct action to gain our freedom.

Solidarity from WV.

Of Iron Fists and Velvet Gloves: The Role of the Democrats

from Anathema

On February 8th, Congress passed a budget bill to end the government shutdown that did not include protections for DACA recipients. This budget would not have been possible without Democratic participation — in the Senate, 37 out of 49 Democrats voted for the bill, along with 73 House Democrats. Efforts by Congress in the following week to pass a new bill on immigration failed due to pressure from Trump’s administration. The fate of DACA now lies with the court system.

“Fascism, then, is a way of channeling discontent and hostilities into a consolidation of the status quo when democracy is no longer able to do so.”

Democrats had put up an appearance of resistance to the bill, symbolized by minority leader Nancy Pelosi holding the floor for eight hours to rail against it. Pelosi could have gone all out and used her leverage to whip up Democrats’ no votes, but chose not to. Despite the fact that, according to a Public Policy Polling/Center for American Progress poll, 58% of Americans wanted to include Dreamers as part of the deal to reopen the government, Democratic and Republican lawmakers colluded to ensure that this would not happen.

That means that what looks a lot like a new stage of an ethnic cleansing project by this settler colonial nation-state and its openly white nationalist presidential administration is set to move forward. Hundreds of thousands of people of color in the United States are facing the threat of deportation. In January, the government ended Temporary Protected Status for Salvadoreans, Haitians and Nicaraguans. DACA, which protects 690,000 people, expires on March 5.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) removed 226,000 people from the country in the 2017 fiscal year, a slight decrease from Obama’s record last year because of Trump’s enhancements to border security. ICE’s immigration arrests are up by 42%, however. At least 8% of the approximately 110,000 arrests are “collateral arrests,” i.e. other people that the agency finds and kidnaps along the way while arresting an intended target.

ICE has specifically targeted migrants who are leading activist resistance to U.S. immigration policy. In early January, ICE suddenly detained and deported Ravi Ragbir, the executive director of the New Sanctuary Coalition of New York City. This was the second arrest in one week by ICE of a leader in that coalition. Despite New York being a sanctuary city whose Democratic mayor has pledged safety for migrants, the NYPD colluded with ICE to arrest 18 people who attempted to stop the ICE vehicle from carrying away Ragbir.

Though the government has usually tried to excuse deportations by blaming migrants for their “criminal” records and going after low-income people, ICE arrests have now also started to target non-white American residents regardless of how much time they’ve spent in the country, their lack of criminal history, or their class position. In January, ICE kidnapped Syed Ahmed Jamal, a chemistry professor who has lived in the U.S. for 30 years, outside his home, and deported Amer Adi Othman, a Youngstown, Ohio business owner who had lived in the U.S. for nearly 40 years.

Taking measures to limit legal immigration is also now on the table for the first time in many years. This is notable because authorities are only discussing restricting immigration from majority non-white countries, and further indicates that the primary motivation on issues of immigration, on the part of both the Trump administration and his grassroots supporters, is to keep the U.S. a majority-white nation-state.

The U.S. is heightening its borderline-fascist state polices, and Democrats have shown they will go along with anything when the stability of the federal government is at stake. Regardless of individual lawmakers’ reasons for their decisions — the inner workings of which are nearly impossible for lowly plebian commentators like ourselves to know anyway — both political parties now seem willing to toe the line between so-called democracy and fascism in order to deal with the escalating crisis of capitalism and the accompanying threat of mass uprisings.

Because the state’s function is to unify civil society in such a way that preserves the economic system, fascism is not a subversion of capital, but a tendency that, like representative democracy, the state can turn to so as to maintain order. Historically, signs of a crisis in the state’s ability to maintain social cohesion have included an inability by democratic states to impose order after waves of revolts had been snuffed out, continual governmental crises, and imaginary plots against the nation. As with the current U.S. administration, states often respond to such crises by inventing an internal enemy and deflecting domestic conflicts by pursuing militaristic projects abroad.

The current crisis of capital requires a consolidation of force in the hands of the federal government, which either instating a dictatorship or pursuing more modest proto-fascist measures can accomplish. As in Spain, Germany, and Italy in the first half of the last century, economic misery and the rebellions it has produced in the U.S. are currently being channeled into anti-fascism, on one side (which tends to deprive revolutionary tendencies of their original anti-capitalist content) and grassroots fascism that rallies to consolidate the current administration. Meanwhile, Trump’s administration continues to accumulate resources for its police and military forces, fortify its borders, blame migrants and radicals, mysteriously kill off or deport black and brown rebels and activists, and threaten large-scale warfare abroad.

As economic theorist Gilles Dauvé noted in 1998, “An essential aspect of fascism is its birth in the streets, its use of disorder to impose order, its mobilization of the old middle classes crazed by their own decline, and its regeneration, from without, of a state unable to deal with the crisis of capitalism. Fascism was an effort of the bourgeoisie to forcibly tame its own contradictions, to turn working class methods of mobilization to its own advantage, and to deploy all the resources of the modern state, first against an internal enemy, then against an external one” (Endnotes Vol. I, 23-24).

Fascism, then, is a way of channeling discontent and hostilities into a consolidation of the status quo when democracy is no longer able to do so. Fascism, or proto-fascist governance like what we’re currently seeing in the U.S., historically has thrived off of grassroots support that mimics revolution, while drawing anti-capitalist tendencies into a “popular front” approach that gives control back to more liberal agents and institutions and no longer threatens to totally transform the miserable conditions of our lives.

Many radicals and progressives recognize that there’s a rupture in U.S. society and have in response called for rebuilding democratic power — for example, as Bernie Sanders and the Democratic Socialists of America have done. This mass movement strategy should be avoided, as it is another way of rebuilding the social unity that capital needs.

Pursuing false alliances with those who want to defuse hostilities and reform the socioeconomic system will not help us get free. The ruptures and antagonisms within this society are what the state is straining to reconcile because they threaten capitalism — they are serious disadvantages for capital, and thus advantages for us. In the face of the state’s white supremacist maneuvers, we can try various short-term strategies depending on our inclinations — for example, looking out for those who will first be targeted, helping people cross the border, or attacking agencies like ICE and impeding their ability to function. But ultimately it is the borders, and capital along with it, that must go.

Gun Control: Some Critical Thoughts in a Historical Context

from Anathema

There have been so many mass shootings in recent years that they rarely get national coverage unless they set a new record, precedent, or it is a slow news day. They have been on the rise to such a degree that the United States has been averaging one school-specific shooting a week. In the aftermath, wherever the shooting occurs, blame is always assigned to political agendas, religious radicalism, advanced weaponry, mental health, or whitewashed for the sake of maintaining order in a way that assigns no blame to “random” or “thoughtless” crimes – the latter being most often assigned to white male shooters. But the return to calls for gun control most disempower the marginalized and reinforce the same authority that murders with impunity.

Mass shootings are said to have begun with a white military veteran in Camden, NJ in 1949, who bought the Luger he used in Philadelphia, the day after he had felt scorned by a lover. The story is too familiar, but the idea that this was the first mass shooting ignores the massacres of indigenous people on this continent by white settler-colonialists that have contributed to Native American genocide (like the nearby Conestoga Massacre of 1763, at least some of which occurred without guns). Still, it is of note in that “the first mass shooter” murdered 13 people and wounded 3 with only a pistol, and not anything resembling the AR-15 that has been so focused on lately. More to the point, mass killings preceded the existence of semi-automatic weapons and largely targeted non-white people.

It was only when non-white people picked up the gun to defend themselves that gun control became a popular political stance. Some of the less-remembered gun control advocates of the past include a post-Civil War Ku Klux Klan, the National Rifle Association, and California Governor Ronald Reagan, who sought to prevent Black Panthers from carrying loaded rifles while patrolling their neighborhoods or protesting at government buildings. Before Reagan signed the bill that outlawed such practices, there were reported occurrences of Black Panthers avoiding unjustified arrest and murder when white police stopped and harassed them on the street by being armed.

Presumably, little has changed from the legal lynchings of the past except that the police have less to fear from civilian elements, as they continue to be criminalized and othered without the fear of return fire as reprisal. Shootings of police in Camden, NJ and upstate PA, which occurred last year after police approached young men, have even been described as self-defense because the police have been known to shoot people with similar profiles for little or nothing in other situations, often to be exonerated for their transgressions later. Gun control has historically sought to keep guns out of the hands of black and brown folks, when it is clear that a gun in hand could keep them alive.

While sympathies lie with those trying to reduce violence in their inner city communities through gun control, it still fails to address the problem. Inner city violence often pits the most marginalized against each other, in attempts to overcome the violence of poverty thrust upon them. The logic of capital, after all, being that one must conquer others in order to move up in the economic strata. As such, one cannot end inner city violence without abolishing capital, as hierarchies (and poverty) are necessary to its operation, as it institutionally brings down violence from the upper echelons onto the lower.

This is why elements of left and anarchist circles have recently renewed advocacy for arming of marginalized peoples, in addition to bringing up concerns regarding civil war with conservative elements that tend to be better armed and more familiar with weaponry. The same conservative element that has been doing research on the best “truck gun” with which to “defend” themselves against protesters who tend to disrupt traffic, as was written about in a recent issue of Guns & Ammo magazine.

The same political associates of white supremacist organizations that are currently calling for armed escalations and lone-wolf murders of their opposition – organizations of which many mass shooters have been members. This, again, in a country where the first machine gun, invented by Richard Gattling, was created to deal with anarchists and other dissenters.

There is no need for romanticization of armed conflict and related imagery, but there is a real need to know how to defend ourselves from the threats we face. And the threats we face include murderous white supremacists, governments, and even gun manufacturers, who favor disarming and killing dissenters whenever they can get away with it – indeed there is significant historical precedent from Haymarket, to massacres of striking workers and their families, to the biased trials and execution of “reds.”

Yet none of this gets down to perhaps the most significant contributing factor to an increasingly violent society – the continued alienation by and violence of civilization at large. The division of labor, especially along gendered lines, and the creation of private property that resulted from the agrarian revolution that birthed civilization marked a notable development in the existence of hierarchies. Gender and racial divisions might not exist on the same level, if at all, without this development. The degradation of the environment, our separation from the natural world, and our separation from each other have been steps in a process that have increased rates of depression, anxiety, suicide, in addition to mass shootings. The New York Times reported a steady increase of suicides over the last 30 years, with 42,773 recorded in 2014 – not a sign of an healthy society.

In such a society, built on and maintained by violence, any attack on its institutions can be painted by the marginalized as self-defense. But framing the argument is perhaps less interesting than an attack that actually inspires and destabilizes, without the possibility of recuperation.

Gun control won’t stop the police from murdering people every single day. It won’t stop the military from imperializing and murdering abroad. It makes sure those forces are likely to be the few who have guns. Gun control won’t stop the cycle of violence perpetuated by poverty and authority. Those most prone to suffering violence at the hands of institutional oppressors are the ones whose survival is most inhibited by those measures, including those that intend to dismantle the root causes of those oppressions. The patriarchal and white supremacist entitlement that empowers both individual and group “mass shooters” can only be halted after the toppling of institutions that teach them they are right (i.e. churches, schools, government). And the alienation that drives people to senselessly murder will only cease after unplugging a civilization that drives us apart, mediating interactions through screens and algorithms, to reconnect with a simpler way of life.