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(en) Praxis #2 - the Red & Anarchist Action Network (Fall, 2003) - RAAN Principles of Action

From Worker <a-infos-en@ainfos.ca>
Date Tue, 10 Feb 2004 11:01:23 +0100 (CET)


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"...in a world where the instruments of repression are so varied, both
visible and invisible, only a fluid movement of free-thinking and
autonomous individuals can truly effect any level of change in the
basic functions of our society, not to mention in their everyday lives.
RAAN provides those individuals with the tools and contacts that
may be necessary for the accomplishment of these changes.
Furthermore, it establishes a common bond with other radical
anti-capitalists, through which all may benefit." - The RAAN
Principles & Direction

In the early Summer of 2003, an anonymous individual claiming to
represent a group calling itself The Hukbalahap Collective (RAAN)
submitted to the Red & Anarchist Action Network a short text
entitled "Call for the Formation of a New Armed Revolutionary
Movement". Proposing the establishment of an underground "armed
wing" to the network, the essay was eventually included in the first
issue of Praxis Journal with a disclaimer regarding the network's
conception of autonomous activity and diversity of tactics. By July,
network activity had increased to the point where a person or persons
claiming RAAN affiliation had vandalized the window of a Maoist
bookstore in New York City, and a similar claim was laid to the
vandalism of a corporate development site in LA. While these actions
were relatively minor next to the overtly violent acts proposed by the
Hukbalahap Collective in their "Call", taken together it was enough to
bring about an important discussion in the network regarding the
nature of our principles, the actual application of autonomous action in
the name of RAAN, and how we would have to evolve in order to
appropriately accommodate our growth.

This document is a product of that discussion, and will be the last
"official" network-defining position that we will ever publish under the
singular name of RAAN. These Principles of Action build on the core
policies that were developed in our Principles & Direction and
Principles of Organization ("Building a RAAN Presence in Your Area"
- Praxis #1, Summer 2003) by setting up the basic framework for
activity in the network's name and restructuring the relationship
between our original online discussion centers and the general
concept of RAAN as it will exist in practice from now on - as a
completely organic and self-defining tendency.

THE RAAN "HUB"

"RAAN participants were able to choose their own levels of
involvement in the project, and influence it through contributions to a
variety of discussions and efforts. Comrades involved in the
organization need not wait for any "Central Committee" to call a
convention in order to be exposed to new ideas, as the continual
discussion of relevant issues - and the mutual learning that
accompanies it - is always occurring and indeed, driving, the network."
- The RAAN Principles & Direction

The current state of the network's development irreversibly calls for a
break with the mostly Internet-based activity of the past. To continue
on our present course and with our traditions unchanged will inevitably
lead to the installment of an Internet clique within the network that
would reign over RAAN and dictate the activities of the tendency
according to the personal whims of those behind their keyboards. At
the same time, it would be irresponsible and destructive to abandon
the channels of public communication that have already been
established over the Internet, and through which we have
accomplished a variety of collective projects. Our solution is to adapt
the current modes of online dialogue into a large collection of common
tools and projects that will remain open and accessible, but which will
hold no sovereignty over, or responsibility for, the non-Internet
activities of RAAN. We call this center of network-related discussion
and Internet-based activity the RAAN "Hub".

The Hub of the Red & Anarchist Action Network is a system by
which network members and groups may communicate freely on
issues related to the overall structure of RAAN. The Hub is not a
single website, forum, or e-mail list, but a collection of such
communication channels that together represent our clearest
conception of the network's ongoing dialogues. This includes a sharing
of news from different regions and a continuing, self-evolving
discussion of the network's activity towards the goal of developing
new projects. The Hub bears the responsibility of putting together
network publications such as the Praxis Journal and RAAN - Network
News. Individual RAAN members and groups may freely take part in
these processes through the Hub.

The Hub does not, however, have the power to determine "official"
network "policy", as any such practice would inevitably be to the
exclusion of membership not connected through its discussion
centers. In the rare event that there should be a need for a
network-wide declaration or call to action on behalf of all members
and collectives, the Hub will function as the author of any such texts
by using its channels of discussion and the pre-established traditions
of collective writing employed by the network. Participants in the Hub
must act responsibly in respect to these duties, and all members of
the network should be aware that participation in and contribution to
the discussions on the Hub is an important part of a RAAN affiliation.
The Hub must publicize its decision-making process and allow ample
time for the greatest possible number of recognized network
participants to reach consensus. As a detached Internet body, the
Hub does not have the power to make decisions definitively
representing the entirety of the network's tendency, but in any case
where network-affiliated actions have indirectly threatened the
well-being of the Hub, it is the responsibility of those participating in
the Hub to reaffirm their autonomy in that capacity from the real world
actions of the network. The Hub must not abuse this process, and Hub
statements on the behalf of the network are to be proposed only in the
most extreme of circumstances. Any such statements are to be
signed "The RAAN Network Hub". Note that this is a change from our
original practice of creating network-wide statements over the
Internet, and reflects our maturing system of autonomy and overall
growth to a point where we can no longer expect to see the entirety of
RAAN represented in any one place at any given time.

The Hub does not have the power to contradict the founding
documents or principles of RAAN, as the theoretical orientation of the
network must be preserved in the face of unaccountable participation
through the Internet. It is the duty of the Hub to defend the
fundamental communist-anarchist principles of RAAN and provide a
presence ideologically in support of any activities affiliated with those
principles. Those who find themselves in opposition to these
principles are obligated to break with the network.

At the time of this writing, the Hub can be accessed through the
Internet at www.redanarchist.net

AUTONOMOUS ACTIVITY THROUGH AFFILIATION

"...the network is an amorphous tendency that exists only when one or
more individuals act or create something in its name. Our essays,
publications, and collectives are the footprints of this process, and
serve only as indicators - not proof - to the existence of our
organization." - Nachie, The Functioning of a Network

RAAN rejects any formalization of its concept of action. The network
is organized into autonomous individuals, collectives, affinities, cells,
and groups that operate independently of each other, and under any
level of anonymity which they may deem appropriate. These
individuals and groups affiliate with RAAN in their actions as a sign
of solidarity with the principles of the network. Through its Hub, the
network provides any affiliated presence wishing to publicize its
existence or activities and establish communication with other
above-ground portions of RAAN with the ability to do so.

The network does not contain any form of leadership or hierarchy, and
is based off of past successful models of autonomous decentralized
organizations such as those of the Animal and Earth Liberation Fronts
(ALF and ELF, respectfully). The main difference between RAAN
and these covert direct action groups is that the network allows for
both above-ground and underground (anonymous; illegal) activity. Like
the ELF and ALF, RAAN replaces a centralized group hierarchy with
a shared set of principles and guidelines, embodied in the Principles &
Direction, Principles of Organization, and these Principles of Action.
If an individual believes in these principles and follows the basic
guidelines and expectations of the network, she or he can organize or
perform actions (as broadly defined in the P&D) and become a part of
RAAN.

THE PRAXIS OF VIOLENCE

"Representatives of the bookstore contacted the maintainers of the
Red & Anarchist Action Network's website regarding the incident,
and were informed that not only is there no way of accurately tracking
network membership in the city, but that unlike the RCP, RAAN
functions on a basis of autonomous decentralized activity, and so the
most that our Internet hub would be capable of doing would be to raise
awareness about the action. Members of RAAN are encouraged to
decide for themselves whether or not this action should be supported
by the network." - RAAN-NN #2, August 2003 (reporting on the
vandalization of Revolution Books in NYC)

As we have mentioned, this statement was born of a discussion that
began in response to a call for the initiation of "armed struggle" by a
faction of the RAAN tendency identifying as The Hukbalahap
Collective (see Praxis #1). Therefore, we would have considered it
irresponsible to not address the specific question of illegal and violent
autonomous activity in putting together these Principles of Action.

The revolutionary movement is now approaching - and in many ways
has already arrived at - a situation similar to that which it faced in the
second half of the last century. Our continuing general failure to
create a broad-based physical alternative to the capitalist system,
coupled with the increasing security of status quo now enjoyed by the
bourgeoisie through the expanding repressive nature of the State and
Spectacle will inevitably lead to the degeneration of certain elements
into the desperate praxis of individual violence. While in some cases,
such tactics have led to the achievement of certain short-term goals,
on the whole they have historically failed to contribute in any way to
the self-activity of the working-class. We see the use of isolated
violence and urban guerrilla tactics as evidence of our movement's
overall failure to accurately reflect the status and activity of the
proletariat and connect it with our own. As a part of that movement,
RAAN will not be exempt from this process and must be prepared to
receive it.

Firstly, it is necessary to say that our interpretation of violence as it
applies here is principally that of the literal, in that we are referring to
physical violence knowingly done to another human being. This issue
has broad implications both within the network and outside of it;
taking a final position in which we either condone or condemn the use
of violence would immediately alienate sections of the revolutionary
movement as described in our principles. In particular, explicitly
supporting the use of violence would place RAAN in a legally
questionable situation, thus opening an unnecessarily wide avenue for
repression against the above-ground sections of the network (the
network Hub, regional collectives, etc.) .

However, RAAN is not - nor has it ever been - a "pacifist"
organization. Nor is it a physical structure that can be identified or
controlled as easily as a fully above-ground organization. RAAN is a
set of base principles, a tendency and ideology, that can be affiliated
with during any variety of autonomous revolutionary activities. These
affiliations, collectives, groups, and individuals decide the nature of
their own participation in the network, and therefore it is conceivable
that there will develop underground as well as above-ground sections
of RAAN; illegal as well as legal; violent as well as non-violent.

In addition, the adoption of a policy that would flat-out condemn or
discourage the use of violence (or any other tactic) by those under
RAAN affiliation could conceivably crucify us in time; we would be
incapable of adapting to the changing and future political nature of our
our societies. A network such as ours, which strives to change the
world both locally and internationally, must not pin itself to a single
practical strategy, as this would be to ignore the differences in
material conditions faced by our movement across the globe. The only
way to respond to a diversity of political climates is to call upon a
diversity of tactics. It is for this reason that RAAN has decided not to
take an official stance on whether or not violence is an acceptable tool
in our battle against capitalism and the State. RAAN will neither
condemn nor condone any use of violence; we expect all individuals
and affiliated groups to decide for themselves what is considered an
acceptable and effective means of advancing the revolutionary project
in their area.

Within this broad acceptance of tactics, we must make it clear that
RAAN rejects the fetishization of violence and violent activities as an
alienating and ultimately ineffective culture - the laughable legacy of
Maoist romantics in which we will have no part. We must speak out
against the rise of macho attitudes and the urban guerrilla "ideal"
within the anarchist and communist movement, and in particular the
spectacular cults of personality that have tended to accompany such
developments. RAAN expects that no action - whether violent or not -
should be approached rashly or due to a fixation on an image of
"revolutionary heroism". Praxis must coincide with proletarian class
needs and be directly managed by the revolutionary class itself.
Actions detached from said class are inherently counter-revolutionary,
for they do not work towards the collective self-empowerment of the
working class.

It is the official position of the Red & Anarchist Action Network that
our principles do not directly call for the use of violence, direct action,
or other illegal tactics, but that we do understand the frustrations and
conditions that would lead individuals to undertake such activity.
Furthermore, we recognize that under our fluid system of autonomous
affiliation through action, violent activity by individuals or groups
affiliated with the network is entirely possible.

*Legal Disclaimer*

The positions represented in this text are intended for clarification and
educational purposes only; they are not intended to either encourage
or discourage anyone to do anything illegal.


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