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(en) US, Lansing, Michigan, Nightvision Anarchist Collective (FRAC): Tasks and Perspectives

From Worker <a-infos-en@ainfos.ca>
Date Mon, 12 Apr 2004 12:47:15 +0200 (CEST)

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Times of crisis create hardship, but also opportunity for
accelerated social change. While in the immediate aftermath of
September 11th growing social movements here in the States
retreated, we are now witnessing and participating in a massive
antiwar movement, empowered by the successes of the
anti-globalization movement. Internationally movements against
American imperialism are gathering strength. Even much of the
international ruling class is fed up with Bush/Blair's new more
blatant unilateralism. So much for the global economy.

While we have been successful at intervening in the antiwar
movement tactically in each of our cities, we have failed to put our
politics out front in a developed way. In addition to this, FRAC is
incredibly disorganized. Few of the tasks set out in previous
conferences have been undertaken with any seriousness.
Communication is pretty poor between collectives. If we have
established this federation to build a more organized and dedicated
anarchist presence in the Great Lakes region, we need to do some
serious reflection on why things are not working. The tasks we set
out in conferences should be taken seriously, not just set aside
due to other priorities.

Rightwing Backlash

In the past 5 years we have seen the development of massive
anti-globalization and anti-capitalist movements. While much of
this movement is organized around some anarchist principles, it is
also politically all over the place, and thus unlikely to lead to the
revolutionary situation we desire without more explicit and
organized anarchist forces taking on a stronger organizing role.

In both Venezuela and Argentina we have seen new powerful
social movements seriously disrupt the functioning of the
governments and economies. In the case of Argentina new
grassroots forms of political and economic decision-making have
arose, but not in any way that threatens to overcome the power of
the state in the long run. In both cases the absence of a large,
disciplined, organized anarchist presence has prevented turning
the rebellion into a truly revolutionary movement. This is not an
attempt to diss the work of anarchists or minimize the level of
creative grassroots organizing. It is just to say, massive as it is in
comparison with what we have here, it is still not enough.

In the U.S. post September 11th we have seen massive changes all
across the board. The Bush regime has launched an incredibly
rightwing campaign in all spheres of social life. The rule of law
(constitutionally and internationally) has been seriously
challenged with regard to the Patriot Act, the Guantanamo
detention centers, the war on Iraq, etc. Even Bush's presidency is
seen as illegitimate. At the same time people are seeing that the
Democratic Party is no alternative. While this has left many
people feeling hopeless, this is an incredible opportunity for us to
organize an alternative.

Internationally the Bush regime has used September 11th as an
opportunity to cash in the Cold War chips on pause since the fall
of the Soviet Union. They have moved so far to the right that they
are creating massive rifts in the international ruling class. Bush
unilateralism in regards to the Kyoto protocol, steel tariffs, AIDS
drugs for developing countries, etc. has done a lot to unravel
ruling class unity, common over the last decade. Bush has
solidified the compaint of much of developing world that the rules
of the Global Economy are made by America, not obeyed by

While the post Cold War cash in goes on abroad, in the States
Bush is using terror fear to create a massive backlash against all
gains made over the last few decades. We have seen the rounding
up of Arab and Muslim immigrants with almost no oversight.
There are powerful attempts to restrict abortion rights, outlaw
affirmative action, cut overtime compensation, etc. Once again
the Democratic Party has been all but silent. Working people are
seeing the consequences of globalization, wages dropping,
unemployment rising. There is almost no one working to provide
an alternative. The real question is why aren't we?

Stakes Are High

While the Bush regime has exploited fear to push their agenda
forward, we have only seen the beginning. And this is something
to fear. The Patriot Act has serious legal consequences that could
be used to destroy the revolutionary anarchist movement. While
repression is nothing new, the Patriot Act legitimates almost
everything that was outlawed in response to the Cointelpro
scandal. We have seen it used mostly against immigrants, but it is
likely that its use against our forces is already underway. They are
using some of the provisions to target the fascist Matt Hale of the
Church of the Creator. They have created lists of people who are
not allowed to fly, including many anti-globalization activists. It is
safe to say we are not at all prepared to handle this repression.

On top of this we have the real worry of another massive terrorist
incident that could initiate a massive repression campaign, with
almost fascist potential. We could literally see the suspension of
civil rights indefinitely with broad popular support. The
Department of Homeland Security has already warned of a period
of marshall law following the next terrorist incident.

It is not hard to imagine the horrible response that could follow a
nuclear or biological attack. We could see the development of
massive racist attacks. We could see social breakdown. It happens
all over the world all the time. There is no reason to believe it can't
happen here. The fault lines are there - all over the place. What
are we doing to prepare a response?

Challenges Ahead

While we have talked about the weakness of the Democratic Party
to supply a vision of hope for working people, we have to
understand our even more massive irrelevance to working people
as a movement**. While we have come a long way in the last ten
years, we have a long way to go before we are really even a player
in shaping the outcomes of struggles around the world.

Too many lessons of anarchist history are ignored. The absence of
an organized, disciplined, revolutionary anarchist presence will
always keep us on the sidelines of history. The project we desire to
undertake is massive. We should take it seriously or go home. A
massive social crisis like that in Argentina or the former
Yugoslavia could emerge at any time. Our preparation for crisis
could determine a lot - from our individual survival to what the
future society looks like. Small groups of organized people can
have incredible impact on the shape of the future - but there are
plenty of competitors who have much bleaker plans and desires
than we do.

Some Suggestions for Developing a Serious Revolutionary
Anarchist Presence in the Great Lakes Region:

1) All our activities should have the goal in mind of building
dedicated revolutionary anarchist cadre. When evaluating one
project or organizing campaign against another, this concern
should weigh heavily on the decision of what we should be doing.
We should have no illusions about our role in a revolutionary
struggle. Revolution will be made by masses of working people, or
it won't be made at all**. The flipside of this though is that
without more massive agitation and organizing working people
will probably choose a different path. We have to balance our faith
in the self-activity of oppressed people with a healthy dose of
consistent anarchist agitation.

2) We have to stop putting tactics before politics. Often we
evaluate the projects we work on based on how radical the tactics
are. We have not done enough to seriously develop our vision of
the society we desire or our plan to get there. How do we expect
people to take risks, especially people who have enough problems
getting by as it is, without providing some answers to difficult
questions. If we are not willing to put some serious effort into
this, who do we expect to do it? Our plans don’t have to be
rigid. They should constantly change as we struggle and learn.
But if we don’t elaborate some solutions, in times of crisis we
won’t be prepared.

One concrete project that would benefit us greatly would be a new
“Introduction to Anarchism” pamphlet, written by FRAC
or one of the collectives. This could be slick graphically and
designed to appeal to new audiences.

3) We should continue our agitation within the
antiwar/anti-globalization movement. Here in Lansing our activity
has borne much fruit. People can go through radical changes
really quickly. This has been true in the past with anti-fascist
organizing and anti-globalization work, but I (Steve) have seen
incredible changes on a weekly basis here among the people we
work with. People who were trying to organize voter registration
are talking about revolution, tactics are becoming more and more
radical. Direct Action has made an incredible impact on the local
scene. It is important that among our anti-war work we connect it
to the war at home, especially concerning anti-Arab and Muslim
state repression.

4) In addition to the antiwar work, we need to be doing consistent
organizing work among the most oppressed sectors of the working
class**, which we have almost no base within. Two examples
would be OCAP and Uprise! at UPS. This kind of work may not
result in immediate growth of cadre, but could drastically affect
our activities in times of crisis. The networks we create with this
work could be incredibly powerful – maybe not next week, but
in a year, 5 years, etc. We should try to get people into key
industries/social infrastructure. It is important that cadre have
skills and connections in the places that we need to have control
of in times of crisis. If all our cadre are working in retail,
restaurants, and infoshops than it will be difficult to do meaningful
organizing. I am thinking schools, water works, major factories,
hospitals, distribution, etc.

5) If we want to develop cadre we have to work on it. This means
developing study guides and position papers to aid in political
development. We should create programs to teach organizing
skills, self-defense, etc. We need to physically and economically
help new collectives get started. A guide to starting a collective
would be great, as well as people who can travel and help people
get things started.

**Throughout this paper we have made assertions about
“working people” or “the most oppressed sectors of
the working class.” We want to make clear we are not talking
about outdated notions about the industrial proletariat. By
working people we mean it in the broadest sense. More and more
people have lower and lower paying jobs, especially in the service
industry, but also in a lot of the remaining manufacturing
industries. By “most oppressed sectors of the working
class” we mean queers, women, Blacks, Xicanos,
immigrants, the “officially unemployed”, farmworkers,
youth, etc. We also mean people whose work is not economically
compensated, especially domestic labor /child care.

While we have no illusions about the revolutionary potential of
American unions, we do think they are an essential arena for
organizing. Not within the union bureaucracy – but among
the rank and file. We believe that a revolution will only be
successful if large segments of the most oppressed working
people, as well as people in key industries join the ranks of the
rebellion. If work continues as normal during the course of
rebellion or insurrection – then the disruption won’t be

-Nightvision Anarchist Collective

From: http://www.frac.ws/nightvisionTandP.html
Nightvision Anarchist Collective is Member of FRAC.
Participate in The Wire initiated with members of Direct Action (an
anti-authoritarian, anti-capitalist group)

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