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(en) US, Chicago, Arsenal Magazine Issue 2 out now, sample articles

From Arsenal Magazine <arsenal@wwa.com>
Date Thu, 28 Dec 2000 03:50:21 -0500 (EST)


 ________________________________________________
      A - I N F O S  N E W S  S E R V I C E
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Arsenal: A Magazine of Anarchist Strategy and Culture
Issue Two, Fall 2000
single copies $4 US (add a bit for foreign postage)available
from:

1573 N Milwaukee Ave, PMB #420
Chicago, IL 60622 USA
arsenal@wwa.com

Read letters to Arsenal and some articles at our new
website:
www.azone.org/arsenalmag/

Articles included: Editorial and ARA

Editorial, Fall 2000
>From Protest to Resistance

Or is it really about exacting costs?

Cutting down genetically modified cherry trees with hatchets
or dumping bioengineered tea in the nearest harbor directly
impacts the pocket book, ego, and press coverage of those
who own the orchards and plantations, as well as the centers
of distribution and sales. Those who mucked with DNA pay a
price. And the action is taken by those who are vulnerable
to the enterprise, the people who were themselves treated as
commodities and assumed to be without options. The action
and its message are strong and direct: this is about us and
our lives and we won’t let you do it.

If activists in London or New York shut down the stock
exchange for even one day or one hour the costs in dollars
and publicity may be even higher. The activists usually have
more choices about what they are exposed to and impacted by,
about how they make their living and what they eat. The
action, however powerful, is indirect and symbolic.

Eugene anarchists destroying genetically modified crops have
moved from protest to resistance. Anarchists in San
Francisco’s Mission District attacking gentrifiers have
moved from protest to resistance. No appeal for concessions
is made to those in power. This strategic shift, abandoning
symbolic protest to struggle and resist is like a
turn-around in
soccer where a defensive play becomes an attack on the goal.
Score. The attacked fight back. Successfully.

Activists are inspired by the sentiments of Conflict’s
lyrics and the examples of anarchists who go on the attack.
It is a thrill to act and score. Even more fields and
yuppies pay a price. But without work that develops
significant connections between these acts of resistance and
long-term, serious strategies that resonate with a large
number of people, no movement develops. Nothing is
sustained, however comforting the resulting punk,
neo-primitivist and other ‘drop out’ communities may be.
Like the Diggers who claimed the commons, activists are
easily discovered, isolated and picked off by the State.
Those inspired end up devoting their energy to jail support,
fund-raising, or    waiting for the next motivating
crisis—WTO meeting, Gulf War, Klan rally, etc. Those
demoralized by the loss do nothing. The revolution is not
right around the corner. Most of the time its not even on
the map.

There are other ways of settling the score that also help
develop
a strong, vital and responsive movement. Declarations of
victory and territory and the build up of considerable
support can occur with symbolic protest and, by contrast,
with the type of direct struggle exemplified by the KRRS
(Karnataka State Farmers’ Movement) in India and the
Landless Peasants Movement in Brazil. It is possible that
the actions of the Eugene anarchists and the Mission Yuppie
Eradication Project will become building blocks of a mass
action. It won’t happen by accident.

What will make the difference getting to Tomorrow’s
Revolution —Today, is strategic work, debate that indicates
our distinct politics, and a living culture capable of
anticipating opportunity. Developing cohesive strategy,
building bold and provocative organizations, taking action
radical enough to be meaningful and acceptable enough to
make allies will make a movement. The alternative? Fads:
movements without organizations. Reformism: organizations
that don’t build movements. Media stunts: direct actions
without ideas. Intellectual posturing: ideas without
actions. The alternative of  isolated thrills—watching and
reading about the Black Bloc and claiming some distant
association, engaging exclusively in disjointed and symbolic
actions such as the continuing series from J18 to N30, A16,
M1 and R2K/D2K, limiting politics to glibly recited slogans
that are then adopted by liberals engaged in bigger and
better symbolic actions—is enough to drive strategic-minded
anarchists all the way to Oregon.

There is plenty for anarchists to do if we want an anarchist
movement. We need to learn how to be part of a movement. We
need to clarify our politics and scrutinize our results. Is
our activism anarchist? Does it practice what it preaches?
Is it building consciously toward revolution? Can we remain
committed to our current activism and also work toward our
own movement? How do we cultivate a culture that draws
people together, a culture that sustains us? For us and
those we hope will join, we need to answer these questions.

Anarchists must get serious about politics and action.
Action is important—so is the work to build a base in a
dynamic and long-term movement. It is important to draw some
lines and take positions based on politics and issues, not
on who likes who, who wears a circle A on their sleeve, who
does the most ‘work.’ Strategic anarchists must challenge
the state and other enemies through culture,
counter-organizing of potential constituencies and defensive
action. Strategic anarchism is organized but not inflexible,
consistent without being predictable. Strategic anarchism
does have boundaries—and that is not a bad thing. Strategic
anarchism is smart, analytical, critical, dynamic, strong,
convincing. Strategic anarchism is uncontrollable but not
wild, intentional but not fixed, reasonable but not staid.
Strategic anarchism develops leadership but not hierarchy.
Strategic anarchism has a lineage and continuity but is not
archaic or static.

Our future includes more than organizing for the next Super
Event (N30, A16, M1, S26, etc.) where our opposition is
responding more quickly with resources that will overwhelm
us. With fantastic interest and growth in anarchism is
plenty of new problems and new potential. Opportunities will
be lost if our growing numbers and energy is lost in
repeated mistakes. Post-Ruckus tactics will build an
insurgent atmosphere everywhere. Our renewed strategies will
clarify our principles and distinguish our communities. We
can do it. The question is, will we?

Words and writings were all nothing and must die. Because
action is the life of all. And if you do not act you do
nothing. All men have stood for freedom. Plenty of petitions
and promises have been made for freedom…We are all like men
in the mist seeking for freedom and knowing not where or
how. Freedom is the demand that will turn the world upside
down.
—Gerard Winstanley,
The New Law of Righteousness

¡Salud!
The Arsenal Collective

*********************************

Fighting Words
by Marie Falcone

Anti-Racist Action (ARA) is facing some urgent and tough
questions about its anti-fascist work. How these are dealt
with and what decisions are made will determine the potency
of that work. These decisions will determine ARA’s influence
within the developing anti-capitalist, direct action
movement and its ability to survive the consequences of
current activity. Frankly evaluating ARA’s project of direct
confrontation with members of fascist groups is a crucial
first step.

ARA has a history of confronting fascists. In fact, the
first point of unity indicates a confrontational attitude
and activity. As much as I like that, several problems are
becoming apparent:

1) Fascists fight back;
2) Arrests/greater charges/lengthy sentences are
increasingly likely; and
3) Risk that physical confrontation becomes the totality of
the project and the group becomes militarized.

Fascists Fight Back

The murders of Newborn and Shersty in Las Vegas and the
beating in Louisville (see sidebars) prove that not all
fascists will run for the shitter when met by an ARA
unwelcoming committee. While I’m not arguing that all
confrontations between ARA and fascists will result in death
or beating, retaliation is always a possibility. It’s not
clear to me that ARA accepts this. Whether this stems from
wishful thinking or not knowing how to deal with the
difficult ramifications, I don’t really know. By not taking
this into account, though, ARA sets itself up for more major
problems.

When reality comes crashing down, it becomes clear that
ARA’s second point of unity doesn’t guide much of anything.
Without diminishing the tragedy of the murders and
understanding the outrage and simultaneous helplessness ARA
comrades feel, the ARA Las Vegas response is, at the very
least, reliance on the cops and the courts.  Their newspaper
ad states: “It is unacceptable that police and prosecutors
have charged only one man, and allowed a conspiracy of
racist killers to get away with murder.” “Call the Las Vegas
authorities today and tell them to act.” “Is this justice?”
I know ARA is made up of multiple political tendencies and
levels of experience, but that doesn’t excuse this response.
What should ARA’s response be? Is ARA prepared to retaliate
in a substantive way? How can the group as a whole prepare
for and defend themselves against the inevitable fascist
attacks? What if the fascists turned the table and started
“outing” ARA members?

Cumulative Risks

Chicago ARA has had an on-going project of exposing and
directly confronting members and/or sympathizers of the
World Church of the Creator in their homes and
neighborhoods. This activity is both an organizing tool and
an effort to deal with ARA’s internal pacifist tendencies.
It has been carried out very openly. They organize a
leafleting of the targeted neighborhood and then go to the
house of the wcotc member. Even though arrests and charges
have increased with each action, no one here is facing a
lengthy sentence. Most charges were dropped or settled as
misdemeanors. That will likely change if ARA continues this
project. Some ARA members are now known to law enforcement,
and a continuing determination to engage the fascists is a
basis for pre-emptive arrests at the very least. We have to
assume that our faces, names and addresses are known to the
fascists, too.

Militarization Risk

What if these ARA outings were carried out much more
anonymously and secretly? An obvious problem is that there
would no longer be a way for everyone to participate and
therefore ARA wouldn’t adequately involve new people in
militant activity. When a group attempts to carry out both
open and covert actions, even military planning and
preparation tend to make any public militancy risky.
Functioning clandestinely is not any guarantee of avoiding
the legal hassles either. Just check history for the
evidence.

If we need a model that avoids dealing with political
questions and focuses on physically attacking nazis, Red
Action in England serves that purpose. Red Action claims
that while working within Anti-Fascist Action they have made
it impossible for nazis to hold demos, concerts or even
leaflet. They argue that the right-wing activists have been
reduced to either running for local/national office or
functioning clandestinely.

There’s no denying that what Red Action says and
particularly what they do is attractive. However, there are
some problems that are relevant to ARA. There is a fascist
resurgence throughout Europe. Would Red Action have us
believe it’s because there just aren’t enough tough guys
beating the shit out of the nazis anywhere but in England?

I have to politically and factually question their claim
that they’ve driven the nazis off the streets. Unless their
publications and websites are totally fabricated, fascists
do seem to be functioning openly in England and not just in
terms of running for office. In fact some of them report on
the clashes with Red Action. Even if the street actions of
some fascists have been curtailed, it’s not necessarily the
result of Red Action’s hard work. The right wing is
comprised of various political tendencies. Some groups lean
toward electoral politics and some head for
clandestinity-just like on the left. To claim victory when
the British National Party runs for office is shallow—it’s
their politics.

While they currently express righteous and utter contempt
for the traditional left, Red Action knowingly serves as the
“shock troops” for their demos, etc. That allows the
entrenched left to avoid responsibility for violent street
action, even to disavow it, but to still get the benefits
from having nazis sent running and bleeding from their
pathetic demos. Allowing it to appear as if fascism is being
defeated politically by those whose politics clearly won’t
ever defeat anything is a political evasion and undermines
our organizing potential.

The admitted flow of ex-nazis into Red Action (and we should
probably assume the reverse is also true) indicates a
political weakness. While I’m not questioning Red Action’s
commitment to anti-racist politics, I do question whether
people are attracted on the basis of physical fighting
ability rather than political
agreement.

Finally, the police can heavily determine the outcome of any
serious and prolonged street battle between fascists and
anti-fascists. They can allow it, stop it, pre-empt it and
decide who “wins” it. Even implicit cooperation with the
police will quickly become a political liability, allowing
the fascists to reap the political rewards of being “against
the system.”

Conflicts and contradictions within capitalism create the
basis for revolution—rightwing and leftwing. As conditions
change, so do strategies for revolt. When “fighting fascism”
revolves around physical/military attacks, victories are
momentary while the threat is perpetual. It’s critical that
anti-fascist, anti-racist, anti-capitalist activists have an
accurate assessment of current fascist tendencies and
strategies. We have to address their strengths as well as
their weak points, and in the process challenge ourselves to
develop and implement a substantial alternative.

Murder in the Desert

On July 4, 1998, the body of Daniel Shersty, a white man in
the Air Force, was discovered in the desert—badly beaten and
shot.Two days later, the body of Lin "Spit" Newborn, a black
professional body piercer, was found 150 yards away—shot in
the back.

Spit and Dan were best friends and members of Anti-Racist
Action Las Vegas and the Las Vegas Unity Skins. Committed to
fighting fascism and opposing racists in the streets. They
were lured into the desert and assassinated by a group of
local neo-nazis. Their murder was a blow to Las Vegas
ARA—many members of the group left the state or went into
hiding in fear for their lives. A month after the killing,
ARA held a memorial and march for Spit and Dan. ARA Las
Vegas said “They want to get rid of us first, because we're
the street-level opposition. If they beat us, you're going
to see a wave of hate crimes in Las Vegas.”

At this time, only one neo-nazi is being tried for the
murders—even though mounting evidence indicates many more
nazis were involved. ARA’s response to the trial has been to
run an ad in a Las Vegas newspaper to educate the public
about the situation, and to plead that justice be served.

Nazis Attack Louisville ARA

In response to nazi activity, Louisville ARA posted notices
around the neighborhood with photos and names of the
neo-nazi Derby City Skins.

On June 10, a week after the flyers went up, six members and
friends of Louisville ARA were circled by carloads of nazi
skinheads. Between 10?15 of the nazis got out of their cars.
The ARA members and friends ran.

Jadon Welke, friend to several ARA members, was caught and
severely beaten. He says that as he was being kicked, one
attacker exclaimed “That's for your flyer.” Jadon, who had
nothing to do with the flyers, is now suffering from
multiple facial fractures, loss of vision in his right eye
(possibly permanent), and medical bills exceeding $1,500.

The attackers threatened that they would go after Louisville
ARA's “headquarters” next. The nazis reportedly walk the
street publicly without opposition. The leader of the Derby
City Skins has said “To me, this (ARA action) has gotten way
out of hand. It’s to the point where I think it might end
hard out in the streets.” In the meantime, Jadon Welke is
pressing charges. “I did nothing to deserve this,” he says.


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