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(en) Alcatraz - a San Francisco Bay Area Anarchist-Communist Publication

From Worker <a-infos-en@ainfos.ca>(http://passionbomb.com/alcatraz/)
Date Tue, 24 Dec 2002 10:06:12 -0500 (EST)

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

Alcatraz is the name for our publishing group of anarchists
and libertarian communists in the San Francisco Bay Area.

As anarchist-communists, we practice a double strategy for
transforming society: creating dual-power organiztions
while simultaneously agitating against the established
order. If we ever hope to succeed, anarchist actions cannot
be random and uncoordinated. We should strive for
strategic and tactical unity, and coordination in all
anarchists factions and affinity groups.

Our goal is to forward the quality and usefulness of the
anarchist press in both our Bay Area community and
beyond. We will generally assume that our readers are
anarchists who expect a level of political maturity, as well
as tactical and tangible information. We do not seek to
constantly reaffirm our readers' ideological commitment to

From the archive:

Fight the Power, Build the Power: Phoenix's Ruckus
Collective Comes to Town**
by Isaac Drake

"The Ruckus collective formed in Phoenix, Arizona, in
1997 to discuss revolutionary politics at a local and national
level and to develop a revolutionary praxis. Its main
contribution locally has been the creation of Phoenix
Copwatch, which has been patrolling the streets since early
1999. In the summer of 2000, Ruckus activists began
talking about the need for a national or continental
revolutionary organization. This led organizers to embark
on a program of study with the goal of creating a proposal
for a membership-based national or continental
revolutionary federation." - Event Flyer

The (English-speaking) Western part of North America is
perhaps the most hostile place in the hemisphere for
anarchists believing in organization. Those of us believing
in federations, cadre groups, tactical and strategic unity - or
more simply the organizationalist trend of anarchism - are
probably in the minority here. It is in this context that the
Ruckus Collective has emerged in defense and promotion
of organization. As their members described it, Arizona
does not have a large radical tradition, although with the
(relatively) recent emergence of the Ruckus Collective and
the Phoenix Anarchist Coalition this is changing.

The Ruckus website contains various texts of theirs,
including most of the materials that they have analyzed in
their studies of past radical currents in the United States.
Currents studied include the Black Panther Party, the
Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), the
Abolitionists, Love and Rage Revolutionary Anarchist
Federation, the Anarchist Black Cross, Students for a
Democratic Society, and others. The current Ruckus gives
most attention to is Abolitionism. At their presentation, the
Ruckus members identified themselves as New
Abolitionists, a trend centered around attacking the
foundations of white supremacy in our society. The Race
Traitor publication is at the forefront of this political trend,
and it seems much of Ruckus' politic is directly based on
Race Traitor.

The Draft Proposal touches on various issues, the main
themes being their conception of a cadre organization, a
democratic federative structure, anti-statism, radical
feminism, strategic unity, and most importantly (in their
minds) the destruction of white supremacy. The proposal
identifies this struggle against white supremacy as the
foremost struggle that anarchists, and specifically this
organization, should be involved in.

Presentation and Discussion

Each presenter discussed their various political
involvements, and then delved into explaining the Ruckus
proposal to the audience of 50 or 60. The discussion had an
important and serious character to it, with little discussion
of rudimentary revolutionary politics - although
unfortunately this was briefly disrupted by a pacifist who
took issue with Ruckus' conception of revolutionary
violence, and a self-identified social democrat from the St.
Louis Independent Media Center who was doing research
for his graduate school.

Ruckus presenters talked about their involvement with
Phoenix Copwatch, how it was acting as a utility for
attacking white supremacy in their locality, and then about
their conception of race politics in general. While
capitalism and environmental issues were touched on,
mostly by Alan, the overwhelming majority of the
presentation was about race politics.

One of the Ruckus members talked about SNCC's
contribution to the radical history in the U.S. She said that
whites should become actively involved in support roles for
organizations and movements of people of color. It was
emphasized that the whites in such movements must not
take leadership over them. Police brutality, immigration
defense (especially around Latin American immigrants),
race-related poverty, and gang issues were the main
struggles suggested as having the possibility to challenge
white supremacy.

Audience members from two different Bay Area
anti-authoritarian groups of color spoke. The discussion
ended around the topic of class when multiple audience
members brought up situations of struggles that did not
revolve around race. The relevance of this kind of
race-based analysis to rural white Americans, and white
industrial worker struggles were two examples of this. The
presenters acknowledged these as legitimate and moving
towards open class warfare.

Capital and Class

Not once in the Draft Proposal is the word "capitalism"
used, although at the presentation Ruckus promised that a
section on anti-capitalism is being added. On first glance,
the proposal could give one the impression that all class
analysis has been absolutely subordinated in favor of purely
race-based analysis and perhaps even give rise to the
dangerous trap of seeing U.S. society in terms of a dialectic
between whites and people of color. This notion might be
further tempted by the timetable of Ruckus' presentation,
where much time was given to encouraging whites to play
support roles in struggles of people of color.

Race-related anti-colonial struggles were talked about, but
hardly entertained was what Franz Fanon referred to as the
threat of "the national bourgeoisie", in struggles against
colonialism. Such struggles have too often ended in capital
and the state simply re-emerging after victories against
colonizers, simply modified to cater to a new ruling class
made up of members of the formerly colonialized people.
Simply supporting struggles of people of color could be
disastrous unless these struggles are carefully analyzed and
chosen by anarchists.

In reading their documentation, Ruckus is keenly aware of
both these issues, and there is no reason to believe that
they fall into either of the traps listed above. The
presentation however, didn't make a serious enough effort
to address capitalism or class.

NorthEastern Federation of Anarcho-Communists:
Parallels and Differences
At this juncture, we suggest that communism without
abolitionism is impossible but that abolitionism without
communism is incomplete. -Abolitionism and
Communism by The New Abolitionist News editorial

As a group agitating for a revolutionary membership-based
federation, striving for strategic and tactical unity, with the
key ideological issues being class and the state, it was
surprising to hear Ruckus' response when an audience
member raised the issue of NEFAC. The Ruckus
presenters said that there were significant differences with
NEFAC, particularly around race and class, and that these
difference would stand in the way of the Ruckus
organization federating, and perhaps even cooperating
with, NEFAC. Now this was particularly striking,
considering that NEFAC is the most advanced living
example that we organizationalist anarchists have to draw
from in North America. Additionally, the communist
tradition that NEFAC embraces seems like it would
enhance (and perhaps does already exist in) Ruckus'

In juxtaposing NEFAC and Ruckus, an abundance of
similarities move into sight. Some of the key common
dislikes are states, capitalism, sexism, racism,
homophobia, ecological destruction, colonialism and
imperialism, and other baddies; and key common positive
holdings are democracy, federalism, class warfare, social
change, internationalism, technology (neither group has
condemned it on the whole), organization, and the stated
desire to move forward. These commonly held values seem
to encompass every key aspect of political ideology, in
other words NEFAC and Ruckus are very similar on the
theoretical level.

The two groups obviously come from very different
backgrounds, with different inspirations, but in terms of
theory/ideology there only seems to be one significant
difference: the adoption of communism. NEFAC was
developed specifically as an organization for development
along the lines of "the communist tradition within
anarchism", and in their name placing communism on
equal footing with anarchism. Ruckus however, neither
mentioned communism in their proposal nor in their
Oakland tour-stop. Despite the lack of a visible
identification with communism the latest Ruckus
document, The Goal of a Cadre Group is Class War ,
moves much closer to a communist analysis, framing the
task of revolutionaries in the United States as win over the
undivided working class to revolutionary politics (even
quoting Marx in good light.) This is essentially the same
position espoused by North American libertarian
communists. Even with this difference on the term
communism, there does not seem to be a contradiction on
class-analysis between the two groups.

So what of the major differences between the groups? It
would appear that all the significant differences held are
based on tactics and strategy. Firstly, Ruckus is absolutely
clear in its view of race, as the chief factor used by the
capital and the state to divide the working class. "The glue
that has kept the American state together has been white
supremacy; melting that glue creates revolutionary
possibilities." While NEFAC also views race as a tool used
"to divide and weaken the working class", and is putting
more and more effort into addressing the issue of race and
white supremacy, it has not yet voiced a strategic analysis
similar to Ruckus'.

Another issue of strategic difference is national/continental
versus regional organizing. In the document that lead to
NEFAC's creation, Initiative for a NEFAC , the problem of
great geographic distances between different parts of the
North America is addressed by "regional federations" that
would facilitate having "semi-regular meetings or
conferences" of the federations. Ruckus simply proposes a
national/continental federation, with little reference to
regional federations. This isn't to say that NEFAC's goal
isn't a national/continental federation: "Once a few regional
federations are established, than we can talk about
organizing nationally."

While there are surely other differences between the
groups, it seems like they would be overshadowed by their
similarities. If one common value held by the groups stands
out more than the others, it should view be viewed as the
fact that both NEFAC and Ruckus are dynamic
organizations, progressing and developing with momentum
and potential.

The Ruckus presentation and discussion at AK Press was
stimulating and inspiring. The fact that so many people
came out and showed interest in anarchist organization
speaks of the potential for positive things to come. The
work that Ruckus does with Phoenix CopWatch is a
tangible asset, and is working towards providing an
alternative direction for anti-authoritarians in our area.

NEFAC and the Ruckus collective are probably the two
most active elements in agitating for cadre-like anarchist
organization in North America. Given the overwhelming
similarities held by the two groups, any effort to create new
anarchist federations in North America should be coupled
with an effort to synthesize the views held by the two
groups, so that new federations may reap the benefits.
Unless there is a significant point that this article overlooks
or fails to understand, it seems that a serious effort towards
creating this synthesis would have a high probability of

The organizationalist one is not always the strongest
anarchist camp, and if we don't seize the opportunity to
work and grow together, we risk mutual degeneration, and
the weaking of organizationalism as a whole.

** Subject:  (en) US, Bring the Ruckus is a new revolutionary political
       organization-in-formation- update
       Date:  Thu, 19 Dec 2002 05:54:06 -0500 (EST)
       From: Worker <a-infos-en@ainfos.ca> (http://www.illegalvoices.org/ruckus/)
       To: a-infos-en@ainfos.ca

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