Why RED, Why Now?

from Radical Education Department

The Radical Education Department organically grew out of our orchestrated direct action campaign, as Nova Resistance, against the over-funded and over-securitized lecture by racist eugenicist Charles Murray at Villanova University in the spring of 2017 (click here to read a recent post about this action). However, its roots, for some of us, stretch back further to our activities at Occupy Philly, as well as our collective publishing of Occupy Philly: Machete. In what follows, I reflect on why we decided to launch RED in the summer of 2017.

I have always strongly believed in the importance of collective organizing and institution-building in order to maximize our agency by working with others to construct platforms for the future. In my various experiences organizing and founding alternative institutions, however, I have also come to learn that many projects never get off of the ground because they are all too quickly ensnared in the bramble of petty debate. This can include such things as individuals being more invested in their subjective preoccupations than in collective action or—particularly in intellectual circles—the sophistication Olympics, in which pedantic posturing and problematization exercise their domineering, disheartening and imperial rule over anything practical, tactical or productive. When a group of us came together so seamlessly to contest the promotion of white supremacist misogyny and top-down class warfare on a conservative college campus, it struck me that we had the baseline of shared convictions that would allow us to move ahead productively with other projects.

Indeed, once we started sharing ideas, I became convinced that our modus operandi of diagonal or transversal organization was a powerful practical solution to other models I had encountered. In my experience, if the verticalism of a top-down chain of command can smother important ideas from below, the horizontalism à la Occupy can sometimes foster an endless plethora of ideas with little or no direction. Our decision to organize diagonally—by which I refer to our conviction, for instance, that a RED endeavor be defined as anything that at least two members agree on—meant that we could do away with a single leader without bottoming out in obligatory consensus. This form of organizing, which overlaps with some of what I had been trying to thematize in my writings and interviews on the Nuit Debout movement in France, has meant that we can work very efficiently and autonomously without needing to constantly meet to debate our next steps. It is an enormous boon, in this regard, that we are all on the same wavelength and trust one another due to our years of intermittently organizing together.

Since we are all currently involved with institutions of higher education, it made sense for us to do everything that we can where we are. The focus on education, however, I think we all understand in the broadest possible sense of the term (like the ancient Greek notion of paideia): it is the collective process of forging a collectivity, by mutually fashioning its thoughts, feelings, representations, values and worldviews. Moreover, since we are the bearers of myriad university credentials, I was very drawn to the idea that we could mobilize them in the name of radical social transformation. Instead of the anti-capitalist Left being affiliated by the propaganda machine with destitute, dirty and drug-induced dropouts, RED—whose most powerful symbol to date is a radical “dressed to teach” à la JPS confronting Murray—can send a very strong message about why we should all be on the hard Left. For if we spend years seriously studying the history of the modern world while cultivating intellectual autonomy from the ideological incarceration within capitalist thought factories, we will reach the same conclusion: another world is necessary!

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This focus on education goes hand-in-hand with community building and the development of an autonomous pedagogical platform. In fact, in many ways, I understand RED as a collective process of self-education. In sharing our views with one another and a broader community, providing feedback on one another’s projects, creatively brainstorming together, and so forth, we are collectively teaching one another through the direct action of productive theoretical and practical exchange. Rather than trying to make RED into an advertizing campaign that simply garners as many votes as possible like a political party, I take it that we have founded an organization in the best sense of the term: an autonomous collective invested in self-education in order to foster a process of group social transformation. An organization, we might say, “takes the long way around” in the sense that it is invested in a deep and long process of autonomous pedagogical metamorphosis rather than in the “quick return” of a political party that multiplies its followers as hastily as possible through thoughtless banner-waving and public relations campaigns.

There are also important conjunctural elements that contributed to the founding of RED. One of these is the paltry response of liberals—who exercise an unmerited monopoly over the term “the Left” in the United States—to the election of a white supremacist trust fund baby to the White House. One of the ways in which the system of pseudo-democracy works is by corralling the administered masses into camps and determining their struggles for them. In the U.S., this tussle is defined as one between liberals and conservatives, and there is very little inquiry into why these are purportedly the only two options. a940f459123e56cc06516f89f8bf3196This is particularly important because both of these camps are defenders of imperial capitalism, and the major difference is in their public relations campaigns. If liberals want to keep the gloves on and conservatives take them off, they both agree that the world should continue to be unremittingly pummeled by top-down global class warfare.

In blindly accepting a marketing campaign intent on defining “resistance” as “opposition to Trump,” liberals swallow—hook, line and sinker—the bait tendered to them by pseudo-democratic administered reality. They thereby contribute to the perpetuation of the very system that produced this trust fund baby and so many others that are intent on advancing the same basic project (the imperial record of the Clintonites, which includes Obama, has been well documented for anyone interested in examining it).

Meanwhile, any position to the left of liberalism is violently subjected to the reductio ad Stalinum, as if opposing an economic and political system that is fast destroying the conditions of possibility of life on planet Earth was a form of bloodthirsty terrorism. This “blackmail of the Gulag” also eradicates—or, at least, attempts to—the memory of any radical leftism irreducible to Stalinism, like the anarchist international, egalitarian Soviet social projects, the varieties of anti-colonial struggle, autonomous indigenous movements, radical ecological politics, and so forth. Unfortunately, however, the inter-generational assault on the academy, marked by the red and black purges of the McCarthy era (that have never really ended), has assured that the university serves its function of ideological social reproduction by being dominated by conservatives and liberals with little or no awareness of these histories.

In this setting, it has been particularly important for RED to launch a frontal assault on the ideological pillars of liberalism, insofar as they usually function in perfect harmony with the conservative perpetuation or intensification of global structures of oppression. Along with the sword of direct action, then, we have taken up the pen of intellectual guerilla warfare to systematically dismantle the pervasive but misguided practico-theoretical framework surrounding issues like free speech, direct action, violence and antifascism.

We are fully aware of the fact that pro-capitalist—and usually jingoist—liberalism has much broader support in the university and the mass media, which inevitably restricts our audience. Politics, however, is not a popularity contest or an advertising campaign, despite what we are taught to believe. It is most fundamentally about how a collectivity forges its own reality. And we, at RED, are invested in qualitative transformation, not simply in a numbers game that is another one of the baiting mechanisms of administered pseudo-democracy. Rather than reducing politics to pandering to the ideological masses, in order to guarantee that they get what the system tells them that they want, it should be about qualitative collective education and social transformation.

I think that I can safely speak for all of us at RED when I say that we are not simply opposed to the latest trust fund baby in the white house. What we reject is the system that produced him, and so many others, and will continue to produce them if it is not dismantled. As the etymology of the adjective “radical” suggests, the Radical Education Department seeks to go to the root of the current crises and take power into our own hands, rather than remaining within the comforting illusion that we just need to elect different members of the ruling class to administer reality to us.

No IACP Propaganda

Submission

Came across some different items around town, though I would share.







Bail Fundraiser for Disrupt IACP Arrest 10/21

from YouCaring

A young protestor was arrested today at the Disrupt IACP actions while helping other protestors who were being assaulted by assembled police forces. Please help us get them out of jail ASAP!

Please DONATE and SHARE this fundraiser to support action against police brutality in Philly! Any funds you can give would be deeply appreciated and will help get this person out of jail as soon as possible!!! Any additional funds will go to the PHL Anti-Repression Fund to help support future arrestees.

[Donate Here]

CrimethInc.: From Democracy to Freedom

from Facebook

Democracy is the most universal political ideal of our day. George Bush invoked it to justify invading Iraq; Obama congratulated the rebels of Tahrir Square for bringing it to Egypt; Occupy Wall Street claimed to have distilled its pure form. From the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to the autonomous region of Rojava, practically every government and popular movement calls itself democratic.

And yet it was democracy that brought Donald Trump to power, not to mention Adolf Hitler.

What is democracy, precisely? How can we defend ourselves against democratically-elected tyrants? Is there a difference between government and self-determination, and are there other ways to describe what we are doing together when we make decisions? Drawing on the latest book from the CrimethInc. collective, the presenters will explore these questions and more. Join us for a lively discussion!

crimethinc.com/democracy

[October 27 7PM to 9PM at Wooden Shoe Books 704 South St]

Antifa Ruin Leif Erikson Day for Keystone State Boneheads

from Philly Antifa

Acting on an anonymous tip sent by an infiltrator within Neo-Nazi circles, Antifa Philadelphia, Love City Antifa, local Anarchists and several other organizations/individuals arrived at Fairmount Park Saturday morning to confirm that Keystone State Skinheads were indeed holding their Leif Erikson Day event.
Even before the Nazis had arrived, there were indicators that the tip was true. Civil affairs and Uniform PD were on the scene around the Gazebo, and a small detachment of Antifa were being shadowed by bike cops.
Eventually though, Antifa made visual confirmation of Mark Daniel “Illegal Aryan” Reardon heading towards the Gazebo on Lemon Hill on his red bike.
Reardon met up with Bryan Christopher Sawyer, the model who was fired from his job at the PA Academy of Fine Arts after posting a video of himself harassing a black woman with racist and sexist insults and abuse. Sawyer was repping Red Ice, a Neo-Nazi media company based in Sweden.
Bryan Sawyer (l) and Mark Reardon
Bryan Christopher Sawyer

Antifa attempted to approach Reardon and Sawyer to discuss some of their activities, but unsurprisingly they elected to run to the safety of Philly Police Department who had begun to congregate up around the Gazebo to undertake their traditional role as protectors for Fascists and Nazis.

By now, KSS began to arrive in carloads. We blasted the info out on social media in hopes of gathering some more opposition on short notice. Surprisingly, this appears to have been a new low in terms of attendance for KSS for this event. They managed to muster only about 25 Nazis to rally despite having opened up the event to strangers like Reardon and Sawyer and having gathered 40+ for the last 3 years since moving the event underground following a disastrous 2013 event.

Anthony James Olsen of Philly KSS holding pole. Wearing a mask (if they believe in what they’re saying why are they wearing a mask huh?) is Mikey Marcink, Indiana Blood and Honour.

Their original plan was to march all the way to the art museum to give speeches in front of the Washington Monument in Eakins Oval which were to be broadcast on Red Ice. Once Antifa began to form up, though, that plan was quickly abandoned in favor of their time honored tradition of saying some dumb shit in a megaphone at the Thorfin Karlsefni Statue while Antifa chanted, shouted at and heckled them. After maybe 20 minutes at the statue, police pushed Antifa down the sidewalk and street to escort the Nazis back up Lemon Hill and to their cars.

As the Nazis left, Anti-Fascists blocked Lemon Hill Road to get pictures of the vehicles for future identification of any Fascists yet unknown to us.

The leaked info also gave Anti-Fascists the details on the KSS after party in FDR park, which was to be held in the stone pavilion behind the Swedish History Museum. Anti-Fascists also blasted this info out and small groups began arriving in the area.
This proved to be the one major mis-step Antifa made that day. By just releasing the info and not giving a point for opposition to converge, a roving band of about 15 KSS bones were able to target small groups of Anti-Fascists. One car with 2 Anti-Racist Punx was surrounded by KSS, some of whom were armed with pistols. Fortunately, they were able to de-escalate the situation and were uninjured.  Less fortunately, 3 Anti-Fascists who had arrived on the scene to try and help evacuate the Punx were recognized from the earlier demo and attacked by KSS. The Antifa fought bravely, using mace and fists to defend themselves against the bones who were armed with various weapons. Two of the Antifa sustained minor injuries.
It could have been even worse, but a wedding was being held at the Swedish History Museum.Bystanders began recording the incident on their phones which prompted the KSS bones to run (well, one was limping) for their cars and leave the area. As a result, the KSS after-party ended before it could even begin.
While the Nazis’ event was totally ruined and shut down prematurely both at Fairmount and FDR, we cannot claim full victory when any of our comrades are injured. We also recognize that the situation in FDR park could have gone much worse. This op was planned on almost no notice and questionable intel which presented a real challenge for us. That all said, it’s safe to say that Leif Erikson Day 2017 was a disaster for KSS thanks to the bravery and hard work of local and regional Anti-Fascists.
Below are some pics of the Fascists who showed up Saturday.  Our goal is to identify every single participant and expose them as the Nazis they are to their neighbors and co-workers. If you have any information on any of the Fascists who were there this weekend, e-mail us. When you come to Philly to rep KSS, Blood and Honour or any other Neo-Nazi organizations, and attack Anti-Racists, we will make you regret it.

 

Front row from left to right: Ian McCorts, Ryan Wojitowicz, Bob Gaus, masked nazi, Tim Wylie. Behind Wylie holding Norweigan flag is Liam Schaff, a longtime KSS associate that hasn’t been seen in many years. In the far back with the Anti-Antifa shirt is Joey Phy of Philly KSS. In front of Phy with the goatee is Bryan Vanagaitis. Next to Vanagaitis with the sunglasses and Anti-Antifa shirt is Pat Rodgers. Behind Wojitowicz with his sunglasses on his forehead is Travis Cornell.

10 years on and smaller than ever… Keep it up, yall.

ANTI-F.O.P. MARCH

from Disrupt IACP

October 21 – Philly Anti-F.O.P. March
7:30pm @ Rittenhouse Square

Nationwide, people have taken over streets and highways to fight back against local police departments and their brutality. Putting heat on the department results in police chiefs and PR managers recycling the same lies to persuade the people to “move on” with our lives. Meanwhile, police unions such as the Fraternal Order of Police go out of their way to openly mock and intimidate the victims (and victims’ families) with their perpetual terror. In rare occasions where departments attempt to fire officers, police unions fight tooth and nail to keep them instated. The F.O.P. does not care about public relations. They do not care to present themselves differently from what they truly are, a violent gang of bullies and proud of it. Philadelphia is home to arguably the most brutal branch of the F.O.P., historically and present. The F.O.P. continues to brutalize with impunity, while chiefs and PR managers try their best to cover their asses.

All struggles are anti-police struggles. For every slain, maimed, and brutalized victim of police terror, this is for us. Join your community for an intentional Anti-F.O.P. march on Saturday October 21st, Rittenhouse Square at 7:30pm.

Let the Philadelphia F.O.P. know we are sick of their shit. Wear Black!

FTP//1312

– –
Things you can do in the meantime:

Antifa on a Conservative Campus: Possibilities

from Radical Education Department

Recently, we’ve seen powerful Antifa actions on college campuses like Berkeley and the University of Virginia striking back against emboldened white supremacists and fascists. We’ve also seen how crucial Antifa is on college campuses after neo-Nazis like Richard Spencer proclaimed they are targeting colleges as recruiting-grounds.

But what if you’re on a conservative or even reactionary campus?  This situation poses special challenges for Antifa.  It may be difficult to find anything beyond a small group willing to mobilize against fascism and its roots in the white supremacy, misogyny, and imperialism central to capitalist society.  And activists confront not only widespread apathy,  but also the real possibility of backlash from both administrators and many other students and faculty. The threat to contingent faculty is especially great. The situation can seem hopeless.

Still, there is great value in cultivating a radical Antifa presence on conservative campuses.  In this post, I point out that importance by drawing on my own experiences as part of a small Antifa group on a conservative campus.  And I start to assemble a list of other, further radical possibilities beyond those we explored.  I hope, then, this reflection could be helpful to people in similar situations.

1. Some background: Villanova and the Charles Murray Action

Villanova University is a notoriously conservative school.  Many students in its overwhelmingly white and upper-class student body vocally support the Trump administration (with “Make America Great Again” signs and parties, for example; check out this endorsement of Trump in the college paper).  It was in this context that white supremacist physical violence erupted on campus.  Two of my own students of color mentioned to me the fear they felt for their safety on campus.

Villanova has also been openly hostile to progressive activism.  For instance, one contingent faculty-person in our group–Nova Resistance–was explicitly threatened with being fired for another, very benign and non-disruptive, organizing project on campus.  In recent years, Villanova administrators rescinded a speaking invitation to a queer activist.

We formed Nova Resistance to disrupt an invited talk by the white supremacist, anti-worker, and misogynist pseudo-intellectual Charles Murray in March 2017.  In the lead-up to the event, two of us had tried to create a large faculty and student action; they were either ignored or met with anemic, sanctimonious arguments for “free speech” or “boycotting.”

Ten things you can do to combat racism and xenophobia ...

In the days prior, one of us hung very simple posters across campus to call for resistance.  We distributed it by slipping it secretly inside the student newspaper and taping it across many campus buildings.  Nova Resistance officially met for the first time only hours before the event began.  Members made signs, and made a plan for the action.  Some of us were very new to more disruptive, small-group tactics.

By the day of the talk, we were only a handful of activists, with at least one person coming from off-campus.  The event was heavily guarded many hours before.  A police helicopter circled overhead; campus swarmed with armed police carrying many thousands of dollars of military-style equipment; there were numerous conspicuous undercover cops; and so on.  The talk was to be held in a secure basement location on campus with very limited seating–obviously chosen because it is the building that houses campus security.  Moreover, we discovered that, in addition to campus police, the university paid some $15,000 to hire the police force from Radnor township.  Clearly, administrators were spooked by the ghost of Middlebury.

Four made it into the crowded event, while a few others remained outside to prepare for a protest and teach-in after our eventual ejection.  As soon as Murray took the stage, two from Nova Resistance stormed the front of the event, blocking the projector screen with a banner. The plan was for the two to stage a silent action during the event while a banner and signs were held to under-cut the talk.  Others were to create an increasing disruption of ridiculous noises, cheers, heckling, etc., all as a way of interrupting and hopefully halting the talk.

Almost immediately, the two of us who were standing at the front were accosted by belligerent audience-members.  One person in the reserved seats in the front row–neither security nor a talk organizer–grabbed the shirt of one of us and seemed nearly on the verge of punching him. The talk’s faculty organizer, as well as an unaffiliated, liberal  professor, approached the two Nova Resistance members at the front, trying to convince them to cease the disruption.  Another member of our direct action team went to the front of the room with the other two.

Fairly quickly amid these confrontations, one of the three activists at the front began more disruptively yelling about Murray’s fascistic ideology, the school’s implication in it, and so on (departing from the group’s plan of silence).  However, the activists refused to engage directly with the attempts at heckling or negotiation and instead resolutely stated that they refused to have their university provide a podium for a reactionary eugenicist, racist, misogynist hack. After around 15-20 minutes of this, campus security threatened to arrest the activists if they did not allow themselves to be escorted out of the event.  They chose the latter option in order to re-consolidate outside. One member filmed the encounters and eventually posted them on our social media outlets.

Outside we rapidly escalated.  One of us brought a megaphone.  Using this, we organized an impromptu, direct-action “teach-in” immediately outside of the windows of the Murray talk.  The crowd that formed around us was perhaps 40-50 strong and fairly receptive–unusual for Villanova’s campus–though the crowd was largely passive.  We screamed and chanted (“No Murray!  No KKK!  No fascist USA!” etc.) into the open windows of the event with the megaphone, creating additional disruptions, although the windows were rather quickly closed.  The police then confronted us, telling us we had to cut the megaphone (on threat, apparently, of arrest).  We continued without amplification for a while, and then left. Members of Nova Resistance were approached by local news outlets for interviews and quotes.

We were not ready for the next steps.  We had no statement prepared and hadn’t set up any social media outlets to post videos or analysis or to garner more support and visibility.  Later that day we whipped up a Facebook page and began posting media, and within a few days we submitted an article for the school newspaper and created a manifesto-style statement, posting them as well.  But our lag left us without a voice at a time when our actions were being interpreted and either supported or condemned without our own voice helping to shape the narrative.

(It should also be noted that the school newspaper, The Villanovan, warped the statement they ran without consulting us, toning down and pacifying our language.)

Nova Resistance then began to meet regularly, renaming itself the Radical Education Department (RED).  We reframed our task beyond Villanova as the creation of a radical left think-tank developing Antifa practices across college campuses.  We used the visibility and experience from the event to inform a number of articles in left popular media (for example, this, this, and this).

‘Leif Erickson Day Celebration 2017’: Slim Pickings for the Boneheads

from Idavox

It didn’t take long for antifa to mobilize against the latest outing by the Keystone State ‘Skinheads’ (KSS) and friends and even less time to send them packing. Props go to Philly!

PHILADELPHIA, PA – Oct. 14, 2017 – Alerted by a tip off, antifa from Philadelphia and other areas of the state were able to rout a significantly small group of neo-Nazis who came out for the “Leif Erickson Day Celebration” on Boathouse Row. Antifa were also able to for the first time converge on their after rally event at a park in South Philadelphia, which ended in an altercation that had the neo-Nazis cut their event short.

Each year for the past decade, KSS, which prefers to go by the name Keystone United, would attempt to hold a rally at the statue of the Icelandic explorer Thorfinn Karlsefni, but after 2013, when there was a massive number that turned out to oppose them, they have attempted to conceal the event from the public to avoid such opposition, even holding the rally at night. This year, they attempted to hold an afternoon event once again and were set upon by antifa before they even left their usual staging area at the gazebo in nearby Fairmont Park that overlooks the statue. This marked the first time in four years the neo-Nazis were opposed.

10/14/2017: Tim Wylie, holding the stick and wearing glasses, is followed by Mark Daniel Reardon, checking his phone, and Anthony James (AJ) Olsen, trying to take pics on the far right.

A paltry 24 persons came out to rally this year, but even with the short notice antifa managed to bring out 30 to counter protest. At a nearby pavilion in Fairmont Park, there was a memorial service for a bike messenger that recently passed away, and while no one attending the service participated in the counter demonstration, some speakers shouted out their contempt for the assembled neo-Nazis to cheers.

Those among the neo-Nazis, who came from as far as Albany, NY and Indiana with just a few of them currently living in Philadelphia, were many that have been seen in past years, but new faces included Mark Daniel Reardon, who according to Philly Antifa fled his apartment when community members learned that he had posted fliers around West Philadelphia, looking to recruit for a violent neo-Nazi group called Atomwaffen and model Bryan Christopher Sawyer, who does work for the White Supremacist podcast Red Ice and once lost his job at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts when he videotaped himself harassing a Black woman with racial slurs, posting the video on his Facebook page. KSS associate and convicted felon Tim Wylie also participated in the rally, and on Thursday, he is scheduled to appear in court on weapons charges, including one for providing false information on an application while attempting to purchase a firearm in July 2016. He has participated in a number of rallies and events with KSS in the past, including an anti-refugee rally in the Pennsylvania State House in 2015.

Anthony James (AJ) Olsen

After some time at the gazebo, the rally participants then march down to the statue with antifa in front of them chanting “No Trump, No KKK, No Fascist USA!” and antifa then blocked them from getting near the statue and began either shouting back and forth with the neo-Nazis, or loudly debated them, KSS associate Bob Gaus, who appeared to lead the rally denying that neither he nor anyone he was with was a Nazi, but instead a White Nationalist.

Although according to some information, the plan was supposed to have been to march to the Washington Monument in front of the nearby Philadelphia Art Museum, the presence of antifa might have thwarted those plans, and the assembled retreated back into Fairmont Park to return to their vehicles. It was learned however that they ended up in South Philadelphia at Franklin Delano Roosevelt Park for an after party, and antifa followed them there. At some point there was an altercation, at which time the neo-Nazis ended their event and left the park.

One week earlier three times as many antifascists came out to the same statue to claim it and the day from the neo-Nazis that annually hold their event in that location. No neo-Nazis came to oppose or attempt an event last week, although police fortified the statue, which was vandalized with red paint, with barricades and officers guarding it.

Tell the ADL: End Deadly Police Exchanges

from Facebook

TELL THE ADL: END DEADLY POLICE EXCHANGES. Militaristic policing doesn’t make us safe!

Why will the Anti-Defamation League, a self-professed civil rights leader, have a table at a conference of police chiefs?

Join JVP Philly for this action outside the International Association of Chiefs of Police annual conference. We’ll be out there to call on the Anti-Defamation League to stop running exchange programs between U.S. police departments and Israeli military. These exchanges exacerbate racist police violence, militarization, and surveillance both here and in Israel/Palestine.

Policing doesn’t make us feel safe, and we reject safety built on militarized, racist, Islamophobic policing.

We’re working towards a world in which safety for all people is created through community and justice, and not for some people only through violence against others.

This action is part of the #DeadlyExchange campaign to end police exchanges between the US and Israel. To learn more and get involved with this local campaign email philly@jvp.org.

#EndtheDeadlyExchange #AbolitionWeekend

[October 22 from 3:00 PM – 4:30 PM at Convention Center 1101 Arch St]

Films Against Fascism

from Facebook

Come watch antifascist films at the Wooden Shoe!
Free food! Vegan options available.

Recommended donation: $10.
All proceeds go to J20 defendants.

[October 22 from 5:00 PM – 9:30 PM at 704 South St]