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"Definition is always finite, but I keep straining for the faraway; I search beyond the barricades (of words, of senses, of the world) for infinity, where all, all the lines meet."
    -Vladimir Nabokov, The Gift

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Bombtoters, Vigilantes, and Anarchists

The first rule of Project Mayhem is that you don't talk about Project Mayhem.
It would be wholly unfair to judge Anarchist doctrine, or the views of its leading exponents, by such phenomena; but it remains a fact that Anarchism attracts to itself much that lies on the borderland of insanity and common crime. This must be remembered in exculpation of the authorities and the thoughtless public, who often confound in a common detestation the parasites of the movement and the truly heroic and high-minded men who have elaborated its theories and sacrificed comfort and success to their propagation.

The obligatory 'anarchists aren't eating your babies' rant: Start with the Haymarket Riots, think about protest, consider the continuing prevailence of anti-anarchist mythology, and check out the "Anarchist Cookbook" FAQ. As most of the information there-in was gathered from US government sources those interested in taking up a life of active terrorism are encouraged to apply at MPRI, Dyncorp, the US Army, Marines, Airforce, or the CIA. If domestic terrorism is more your cup of tea opportunities for targetting Americans are available with the FBI.

Anarchism is a non-violent philosophy: ie. damage to capital is destruction, beating red-headed step children is violence. Much like the "property is theft" slogans one needs to grasp the anarchist conception of property before you can accurately criticize or affirm the slogan. Media hacks rely on the misrepresentation of the left libertarian position to attack it with what amounts to ad hominem, regularly applauding the violence of police. I've never read a columnist in any mainstream paper that accurately presented the views of the protesters involved, and this moronic variety of mainstream drivel has contributed to the malignency of definition where the word is often used without any historical context, as a synonym for chaos and violence, and is applicable to anyone who wants to usurp the present ruling class, whether or not they want to abolish illegitamate authority and the rule of force altogether, and thus intend no bodily harm to said ruling class. As an indicator of the success of this effort to narrow the public consciousness by irradicating a word of any useful meaning one merely needs to look in a dictionary: anarchy has a meaning fairly divorced from anarchism. Compare this to democracy and democratism. This is all so much semantics, the point is to draw out the historical, accurate meaning of the word, as most of those who are called anarchists have, if anything, historically moved further away from the mainstream's misrepresentation of their views rather than closer. Take Walter Goodman, for instance, working from the definition the dictionary tells him, who goes on to describe the philosophy of Anarchism as though it were a 19th century work of fiction, a "terrorism of the mind", "nihilism", etc. I suppose, when Orwell threw his lot in with the anarchists of Spain in 1936 that it was simply a religious reaction to his self-imposed alienation from society when he was living in the streets? Clearly freedom from unjustified authority is nothing but a prescription for nothingness!

To quote of all people Rush Limbaugh, "Words mean things", and meanings change, and in this case the change is destructive and divorced from reality.

One need only look at how modern domestic terrorists have been repeatedly labelled as "anarchists": whether it's conscious or not. The Timothy McVeigh case left a lot of unanswered questions, but not the question of whether or not he was an anarchist, counter to the label pasted on the box. He wasn't. McVeigh and most like-minded "bomb toting anarchists" aren't much of anything besides bomb-toting, and McVeigh so far as anybody could tell was a radical nationalist, as interested in establishing his own variety of authoritarian regime as replacing the present one. Kaczynski - the "King of Anarchists" as appointed by the divine right of Time magazine - was a primitivist: a branch of anomic "anarchism" that offers no constructive programs for dealing with the consequences of modernity and rejects most historical anarchist thought, such as syndicalism, as "reformist" - primitivists are a minor contingent and by no stretch of the imagination could one victim of the CIA's MKULTRA psyche experiments who wrote some thought provoking drivel be realistically considered a significant contributor to anarchism as a whole, let alone the "King".

Much of Kaczynski's criticism of modern society was fair enough, as was often acknowledged by the journalists covering the story, much like criticisms from other primitivist circles with respect to the problems faced by humanity, yet their solutions to those problems are generally nihilistic. It's a far cry to go from accepting criticism as legitemate to accepting the solutions proposed by the critic as legitemate. I find it difficult to believe even that the majority of primitivists accept enivironmental terrorism as a legitemate avenue towards change, let alone targetting living beings with mail bombs. As I understand it even primitivist guru Zerzan rejects murder, so far as you don't count the dead from deindustrialization. You can't blow up a social relationship. I'll go so far as to suggest that even the idea that "hastening the onset of the breakdown will be reducing the extent of the disaster" might be correct, but we don't know, how could we know, and what we do know is that a total breakdown would be a disaster. I'll take my chances building on what little progress has been made since this mess was started; hardly a unique position.

Every bag of crackerjacks has it's nuts: the Republican party keeps putting their nutty radicals in the State Department. So there you are. I don't think Kacynski was any less an anarchist than George Bush is a free range turkey, frankly, despite whatever similarities they may have. Some other bizarro-libertarians are up for inspection at attackthesystem.com. The interview with Keith Preston varies thoroughly between quack and common sense. While it may be true that the media has demonized the militia-movement I think we should demonize the violent chaos that is assumed to be inevitable by reactionary philosophies, as we should demonize the violent chaos that is the mandate of the present, dominate ideology.

Why do non-pacifist anarchists have such a weak heart when it comes to contemporary violence? Prolly because they realize that violence in the past has been a) used as justification for the state's violence against anarchists, nevermind anybody else b) that this as true now as it was a century ago, so that c) if anarchism is seen as a threat before it becomes self-sustaining there probably won't be many anarchists around to pose one, and d) not all non-pacifist anarchists are revolutionaries. Ghandi and King weren't just diddling around with abstract thought in teaching that violence in the defence of noble ideals will destroy the very ideals it seeks to defend.

That leaves the difference between the kid in the green turtle suit and the Black Bloc that the media hacks and business leaders and Washington officials label with "terrorist", or "aiding and abiding terrorists", or "undermining our resolve against the terrorists", or "purveyors of chaos and destruction". This kind of defamation is far too big in the pants for a few angry kids. All to great comedic effect. 100 years ago it was savages, and those who aid and abide the savages, or undermine our resolve against the savages. Where'd I put my goddam cowboy hat?

There was a time when Anarchism filled a role for Western society as an object of abject hatred - shortly before Communists took over the slot. That brief 4 year period where Facism was actually considered a problem by Western leaders was a minor blip in the course of human history, over all to soon before US Senators were back to giving the little Hitlers of the world the old anti-Communist's slap on the back 'our kind of guy' routine, calling everybody 'baby' and jiving about foreign oil and agribusiness in their Rotary Clubs and at White House dinners.

"Goiny, baby, Jack, have we talked about Brazil?"

So long as the ideological void is filled with some usefully maligned target things are taken care of. Suburban housewives avoid the malls on the weekend and stockpile goods in their pantries, stuffing their kids full of behavior modifying prescription drugs, and using the cargo space in their SUVs to permanently store camping gear should the family need to run for the wilderness because of the approaching rapture - when the US will suffer for the sins of alternative lifestylism and the moral bankruptcy of those who reject the existence of Satan but are nevertheless in league with him. The kind of reactionary PR that goes into building such an I-don't-know-what of irrational fear doesn't come cheap, but then sweatshops and US initiated foreign wars get around to paying off the PR guys too, and if those don't payroll taxes will.

Which briefly correlates to the entire problem with 'defining terrorism', which still hasn't been done to any satisfactory degree by the folks in charge of screaming their balls off about it in the press. The problem is obvious - unless you define it on arbitrary or irrelevant grounds (such as the size and power of the organization instigating terrorist acts, as is advocated by US officials) the US is part of the problem. Terrorism is simply an especially despicable tactic of war, but somehow the 'terrorists' are never on the winning team.

If one defines terrorism as something relating to the obvious meaning of the word - an act that instills terror in non-combatants, then one needn't look very hard to find examples of US sponsored terror - or very far: should the US funded terror in Chiapas or Columbia be protected by too thick a cloud of obtuse and impregnable redefinition of the English language then we can all agree at least that the KLA was a terrorist organization and was supported through the late 90s by the US government, or that Duarte's US supported regime in El Salvador waged a terror campaign against the civillian population, or that the US government supported and initiated terrorist campaigns in both Afghanistan and Nicaragua in the 80s. The twist of the tongue accompanying the use of the term 'terrorist' was all old hat by 1984.

Violence is an exception to the 150 year old tendency of anarchism's ranks; they have largely avoided assassination and other violence directed towards human life except inside the context of civil war and self-defense, where such violence came about as a necessity - where any other rational being would agree it is necessary. There are exceptions, which routinely ended in abject failure. For a very brief period a minority practiced 'propaganda by deed', and that practice was followed quickly by denuciation from the bulk of anarchists and a labelling of the anarchists involved as 'bombtoting' by the national press and the subsequent labelling of all bombtoters as 'anarchists'. The direct actions taken by anarchists of the Black Bloc are intended in principle to disrupt the organization of the powerful - not to inflict personal harm upon their persons. I'm afraid I won't be convinced that grafitti on the facade of an international banking institution is going to drive the poor bankers into starvation. Destroying a subsistence farmer's means to a living is violence, vandalizing a GAP store isn't - rather GAP's abuse of sweatshop labor is a source of real violence. However ill expressed this kind of rage may be the blade of international capital remains hovering. The greater good was served at the MAI when anti-capitalist hordes of vigilantes held the blade off, however temporarily. If anything it provides a ray of hope to the rest of us - this kind of bullshit is niether necessary nor inevitable, and frankly I think the stack of papers known as Nike deserves far worse than a few broken windows. I'd be very happy to see justice served in a civil manner, and I'm sure if it was the mob would move on to other business.

It's difficult to imagine that the minor strife of a few rioters could be compared to the scale of conflict that modern statism has spawned, but if one believed everything he read in the papers just such a comparison would present itself, and the black bloc would be percieved as the greater evil. Violence occurs due to the intensity of the conflict, property destruction is not a central crede of anarchism, it's a tactic, not a principle. There has yet to be a single report of an anarchist protester willfully inflicting harm on another human being, which makes a pretty clear distinction between anarchists and the extremist right-wing nationalists that are blowing up civillian infested federal buildings, or perhaps more appropriately anti-abortionists assassinating medical professionals. It's also a pretty clear distinction from state sanctioned police forces: tossing tear gas at crowds, tackling people and grinding pepper spray into their eyes, firing rubber bullets at random targets, and generally beating the shit out of harmless people. It's a form of protest, the harm is minimal - here I am it says, and I'm angry, militant, and think you're full of unjustified crap - and so far as that goes one wonders why so much time is spent demonizing it, since objectively is dwindles in comparison to the violence against innocents perpetrated by the police-state, never-you-mind the violence against innocents perpetrated by the corporations running their slave labor camps in the third world or the imperialist violence that put them there.

In any case most of the alleged "violence" of the protest movement can be seen as fighting against the institution of illegal "no protest zones" that limit the expression of dissent to state authorized bird cages. I see a booted foot smashing down on a human face and the bill of rights shreaded on the cleets. This isn't how you go about practicing democracy.

Most of the time, after reading through the multitude of contradictory reports, I find that peaceful protest is all that's pursued. It doesn't make any sense to me to waste time lambasting a few 'violent' protestors in consideration of the outrageous magnitude of the typical police response, when the protesters start torturing and killing people call me. More often than not it is authoritarian forces acting violently to make their point. Nevermind it being fairly well established that the FBI and police will use agent provocateurs to insite riots, infiltrate non-violent groups and attempt to discombobulate them, hire thugs to harass or murder them, imprison them, and worse, as they have throughout their history.

The media is as culpable in all this as anybody else given their slopshod fuckall coverage of protest movements and the issues they address. Responsible for informing the public with facts and investigation, the constant pandering sensationalization of minor, copy-pushing "news" demonstrates they don't even begin to take that responsibility seriously. I disagree with aggressive violence (as do the kids breaking windows), and I don't think property destruction is generally productive (a matter for debate), but beyond this brief reckoning I don't think it worthwhile to spend time correlating sunspot activity to riot activity and pretending that passive resistance is the be-all end-all solution. If somebody is willing to turn lethal force on you with no constraints then Ghandi dies, end of revolution.

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