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(en) IAS - Perspectives on Anarchist Theory - Vol. 5, No. 2 An Anti-authoritarian Response to the War Efforts September 21, 2001

From Worker <a-infos-en@ainfos.ca>(http://flag.blackened.net/ias/)
Date Tue, 27 Nov 2001 10:15:03 -0500 (EST)

      A - I N F O S  N E W S  S E R V I C E

Dear Comrades, 

We are living through scary times. Clearly the US
Government and its allies believe they have a grand
opportunity to realign domestic and international
relationships in their interest. This is frightening: major
shifts in the political landscape threaten to tear the ground
from beneath our feet.

However, these glacial shifts in the political scene also
offer anti-authoritarians a unique opportunity to obtain a
new, more secure footing in our struggle against economic
exploitation, political hierarchy, and cultural domination.
Political conditions are changing radically and, if we
respond correctly, we have the chance to advance our
movement to a much higher level. 

First of all, we must not be cowed by present
circumstances, as disturbing as they are. On the contrary:
recent events call upon us to exercise political leadership
in the best, most principled and visionary sense of the
term. This is our challenge, and one that we can meet with
an anti-authoritarian vision and politics. 

We believe it is imperative that anti-authoritarians
formulate a coherent response to the war buildup and their
role within the growing peace movement. We must not
allow our perspective to be subsumed under more
prominent but less radical tendencies in the left. Also, the
peace movement is presently defining its politics and
structures and we have a great opportunity - at this
moment - to engage the movement and push it in the most
radical direction. 

This purpose of this letter is to explore the contours of an
anti-authoritarian position on recent events. We encourage
you to discuss this letter with your friends and comrades
and to prepare for broader discussions that we intend to
initiate in the near future (we will send more information

We want to address three important issues in this letter:
structure, politics, and the future. 

We anticipate that the anti-war movement will experience
divisions similar to those that beset the peace movement
during the Gulf War. In other words, national organizing
efforts will be split into two organizations: one will be
pacifist and more libertarian in character, and the other will
be more militant and Stalinist. Both will be top-down
mobilizations, built around well-known “leaders”, and
awash with a moralism that would turn off even the most
open-minded citizens and activists. 

Thus, we think our immediate challenge is to ensure that
the anti-war mobilizations are decentralized and
democratic in structure: specifically, that those doing the
work make the decisions in these organizations. We
recommend the model of assemblies, spokescouncils, or
other horizontal networks of small, decentralized groups
that are unified around an anti-authoritarian vision of social
change. This will assure that those at the base hold
decision-making power and thus that the mobilization
reflects the political consciousness of the base, which is
typically more radical and sane than that held by the
leadership. It will still be possible for sectarian groups to
infiltrate the base, but much harder for them to seize
control. We believe that instituting such a decentralized
structure is consistent with a principled commitment to
democracy and should be our first act of defense against
the party building hacks and the omnipresent “leadership”.

Decentralized political structures have little significance
unless complemented by a decentralized, radically
democratic politics. We need to have radically democratic
goals as well as methods, anti-authoritarian means and
ends. Our response to the war must be concrete,
immediately comprehensible, and one that gives political
content to our democratic structures. 

Presently we are aware of two positions on the war: 

The rightwing position asserts that the US is entitled to
take unilateral military action against whomever. This
position is not reasoned, just retaliatory, and is thus utterly
barbaric. The argument crumbles when faced with
questions of social justice. 

The liberal-left position condones military action against
Osama Bin Laden if - and only if - the UN or some
pre-existing international legal body decides that such
action is required and determines its nature. This appears
to be Z Magazine’s position, as well as many others. 

This position is inadequate because it appeals to the
political authority of the UN (and/or similar bodies). This is
untenable because the UN is an illegitimate political body
and thus incapable of determining a just or unjust
response to the terror attacks. The UN is illegitimate
because a) it presupposes the nation-state, which is
inherently anti-democratic and b) because the US has
veto power over many of the UN’s most important
decision-making bodies, such as the Security Council. 

The anti-authoritarian position must obviously be much
more radical than the liberal-left position. We believe that
anti-authoritarians should advance the following demands:

   First, all war criminals must be brought to justice (and
   judged by an international people’s tribunal). Osama
   Bin Laden, Augusto Pinochet, Henry Kissinger, and
   those who have committed acts of terror and violence
   must be held accountable for their actions and dealt
   with accordingly. 

   Second, there should be an international grass roots
   assembly/plebiscite/encuentro/assembly/truth and
   reconciliation commission on global terror. This
   assembly will define the terms of terror and the
   appropriate responses to it. There are existing
   decentralized, grassroots networks and organizations
   that could provide basis for such an initiative. 

   Third, we must oppose military action against Osama
   Bin Laden, Afghanistan, or anyone else until these
   first two conditions are met. 

We believe that anti-authoritarians should work to
radicalize the anti-war movement. We should ensure that
it is democratic and decentralized in structure, that its
demands are anti-authoritarian in content, and that we use
this movement to build cooperative relationships with the
oppressed and enraged throughout the world who share
our horror at the US’s impeding military action and the
world it seeks to create. 

We believe there is a great potential to create a radically
democratic and deeply oppositional movement against the
war. We believe this movement could sustain the
accomplishments of the struggle against global capital and
bring our movement to a new level of engagement,
diversity, and radicalism. 

   Another world is possible,
   Marina Sitrin (active with the Direct Action
   Chuck Morse (active with the Institute for
   Anarchist Studies)

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