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(en) Are they or are they not? Sexy As We Wanna Be: An Interview with Nachie

From Worker <a-infos-en@ainfos.ca>
Date Fri, 5 Sep 2003 19:28:54 +0200 (CEST)

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Coppied from infoshop.org - an article and one of the notes in its foot:
This interview was created for the Publication Network of RAAN,
and originally appeared in the second issue of Praxis, journal of the
Red & Anarchist Action Network (Fall, 2003).

To start off, could you give a short history of RAAN and what your
personal involvement has been.

Well, I’ve been working on the Internet for about three years
now, and for most of that time I’ve been contributing to leftist
newswires. Sometime around early 2002, Matt (another of
RAAN’s co-founders) approached me about doing a “Red &
Anarchist News Network” collaboration between the sites we
were working on at the time. I was a communist, he was an
anarchist, and it seemed like it was a good way to build some
practical unity between our ideologies. But before we ever got
around to setting up the news network, we came up with the idea of
calling it the Red & Anarchist Action Network instead. At the time
we had no idea what “action” would mean, we just knew that
we wanted to leave ourselves open to development beyond just the
sharing of news.

RAAN’s first incarnation was as a small web forum, populated
by the communists who visited my site and the anarchists who had
been visiting his. We also publicized the collaboration a bit to see if
other open-minded people would want to get involved, and pretty
soon we had developed into a discussion group with many intelligent
participants from all over the political spectrum.

At some point, a group of us decided that it would be in our interest
to try and use that forum to produce something, which is how we
started working on what eventually became the network’s
founding document, the Principles & Direction. Writing the P&D
was actually a terrible process that took many months because we
did it collectively and submissions were open to anyone who wanted
to contribute. As you can imagine, a large part of those months was
spent arguing over each minute detail of anarchist-communist unity,
and it was quite a while before anything got accomplished.
Nevertheless, there are two things that really made that process
worthwhile: The first is that we came out of it with a document
forged in discussion, and as a result it’s a very strong set of
principles in terms of setting up fundamental guidelines for unity in
the post-Left. The second is that after all that debate, none of us
ever wanted to talk about ideology again, and we were more than
ready to move beyond the Internet and start acting on those
principles in real life.

How has RAAN evolved since it was first formed?

RAAN has continued to be a tendency comprised of action and
driven by discussion, which means that we’re always developing
as a whole because of the different ideas and methods that new
people bring into the network. Our original principles have stood the
test of time and because of them, we’ve been able to accomplish
much and forge bridges of trust between many different groups and

The creation of Praxis Journal was definitely our most ambitious
project since we had finished the principles, and even though we
were still basically operating as an Internet forum, the ideas and
activities associated with RAAN had grown to a point where we felt
capable of producing a major publication like that. Praxis #1 also
gave us a chance to put forward another piece of network policy, and
we came up with the Principles of Organization as a way of helping
those who were looking to apply the network’s positions when
putting together an effective anti-capitalist group in their area.

The most exciting time for the network is right now, because our
recent publication of two monthly newsletters (“RAAN -
Network News”) has shown that once there is a strong set of
unifying principles in place, total decentralization of activity is
possible. We’re just putting the finishing touches on the second
issue of Praxis, which includes one final piece of network
“policy”, the Principles of Action. The PofA represents to us
the most advanced stage in the development of how we’ve been
seeing ourselves not as an organization, but as a worldwide
tendency with a fluidity of membership based in autonomous action.

Has RAAN gotten sexier with age?

Absolutely. Everything RAAN does has been getting easier and
easier because the network only asks two things – agreement
with its principles, and the ability to work in a “sweat equity”
environment. It’s a hard culture to build - especially when
you’re dealing with two groups that people usually expect to be
fighting each other - but it means that anybody can jump in and take
part at any time, because the essential unity is already there. A lot
of the older members have been leading by example, and it’s
such an easy and solid model to get involved with that interest in the
network has only been growing.

I think a lot of the things that we have to say, and in particular the
critiques we’ve been bringing against established activist and
anarchist scenes, are finding a very receptive audience in a new
generation of revolutionaries who are very radical, but also
extremely disappointed at the lack of progress from both the
“organizationalist” and “lifestylist” crowds.
We’ve also been very lucky because this recent resurgence of
interest in the Situationists has meant that now is a perfect time for
ideas like Marxism to gain a new appreciation, and people are
becoming more open to learning about things like the
ultraleft-communist roots of primitivism, or even just in working with
other anti-authoritarians who don’t necessarily self-label in the
same way that they do. This overall breakdown of ideological
divisions between anti-authoritarian anti-capitalists that the network
represents is not just a triumph in dialogue - it’s the gateway
into a new round of activity for our movement.

Needless to say, it only gets sexier from here.

What kind of actions and projects would you like to see come out of
the network in the future?

The practical union of communists and anarchists is a continuing
project that I’d like to see carried on far into the future. Within
that general framework, the type of activities that RAAN gets
involved in is totally up to the membership itself. When you have
something like the network to point to, there is the possibility of very
easily connecting seemingly isolated struggles to the bigger
revolutionary picture. I’m incredibly excited to be involved with a
group where in one town we might be stopping logging trucks, and
then in another we could be organizing sex workers. Or hey, why not
in the same town?

RAAN’s motto is “rock the boat, blow up the yacht”, so
we’re always trying to bring up issues in our community that
aren’t necessarily being addressed. From time to time this has
gotten us into trouble with the “scene”, but the more
armchair anarchists who hate us, the more fun we have.

That’s rocking the boat. Blowing up the yacht means no
compromise - not with liberals, not with Leninists, and certainly not
with the state. We have to keep fighting to ensure that revolution
and revolutionary ideas cannot be ignored or written off as a
subculture. The ways in which we can accomplish this are varied,
and ultimately up to the individual people who are going to keep this
network alive.

What are some successful actions and projects that we can learn

There are many things both in history and in RAAN that I could point
to as being examples of successful action, for example some of the
achievements of the German squatter’s movement. Ultimately
though, I think it’s less important to know the individual
histories of past successes then it is to just recognize the essential
characteristics that made them revolutionary, and then apply those
to what we’re doing now.

So like the German squatters, we have to see ourselves as not being
bound by the laws and relationships of this society, because as
revolutionaries we exist not just outside of it, but also on top of it,
replacing it. Yes, we’re all still living within the confines of
capitalism, but at every turn we’re trying to break out of that.
This escape can’t just be a denial of class society; it has to
actively destroy it in the process.

RAAN’s most crucial guideline for action in the name of the
network is “does what you’re about to do satisfy your
political consciousness? Does it satisfy you personally?” In that
sense people might say that we’re opening ourselves up to
cooption by inactive street punks, but I really don’t think
that’s going to be the case. I’ve heard of two recent actions
being claimed by RAAN - the vandalizing of a corporate
development site in California and a Maoist bookstore in New York -
and in both cases nobody I was in contact with even knew that we
had “members” in those areas! What this means is that
people are taking action, and as a result something completely
decentralized but nonetheless very unified is beginning to take
shape. If you want an example of success, that’s it.

How does RAAN’s praxis aid the self-activity of the working

That’s really a tough question for any group to deal with, but of
course it’s also the most important for anyone with even the
vaguest idea of what a revolution would have to mean in terms of
class war.

RAAN is very influenced by the autonomist traditions in history,
which means that for us dual power is probably one of the most
important concepts to agitate around. Practically what this means is
creating a dialogue related to the establishment and defense of
sustainable, extra-legal institutions, and then of course putting those
ideas into practice. If a comparison to the Situationist International
can be excused, that group was numerically very small but in the end
we have a lot to learn from them because instead of trying to direct
the working class, they focused on creating tools that the proletariat
would need in the event of a revolution. Accomplishing this
nowadays means that first and foremost, our goal can never be
anything but a total and immediate overthrow of capitalism.

There are plenty of radicals out there who, despite their ultimate
agendas, actually think that a revolution is impossible under the
current circumstances (“the conditions aren’t right”). I
think this is bullshit because not only is that an incredibly defeatist
point of view, but it actually doesn’t make any sense. What
we’re dealing with here in terms of potential for revolution is not
just a future revolt in response to something like a bad economy,
it’s the continuing and overwhelming contradiction between the
driving forces of this society and the fundamental nature of humanity
(what large numbers of people need in order to live fulfilling and
happy lives together). Simply put, this means that at any place and
at any time where you find capitalism or any other type of coercive,
hierarchal relationship, there is a continuing possibility for radical

So what that tells us is that the job of an anarchist-communist
tendency isn’t to organize for a future revolution, but to act like
the revolution is here now – because it is! The network has
approached this by bringing back the emphasis to issues like the
development of non-oppressive relationships, direct attacks against
the institutions of power, and by bringing up issues traditionally
outside of bourgeois-liberal activism, such as the need to not only
confront but also destroy authoritarian ideologies, and make things
like training in firearms available to wider circles of people.

And what about the Leninists?

Fuck the Leninists. As a communist and a Marxist, I’m no
stranger to anti-Leninism because I’m always having to deal
with the difference between the actual content of my ideas and the
way that they are perceived by a lot of people, especially anarchists.
These distortions are for the most part due to the Leninist tendency,
and so I’d say that being a communist is probably the best
course in anti-Leninism that anyone can ever get. That RAAN is so
anti-Leninist is as much because the Marxists in the network
wanted it to be as it is just a necessary fact in uniting
anti-authoritarian currents.

But while we’re on the subject, I’d like to address something
that really bothers me, which is that a lot of anarchists these days
are actually relatively unfamiliar with Leninism or its history, and are
in fact willing to work with Leninists or even within their
organizations (especially as part of a “united front” on single
issues). There’s nothing scarier to me than when a
self-proclaimed anarchist asks me why RAAN has to have such a
hard policy on Leninism. Let’s be clear about something: maybe
there aren’t any fundamental differences between a Leninist and
an anti-authoritarian if the both of you are just planning to stand on a
street corner together with some newspapers, but since that’s
not exactly what RAAN has in mind when it talks about action, the
exclusion of Leninism and all other vanguardist dogmas will remain
an essential part of who we are.

Recently, you have been involved with the creation of the Kazm
Collective (RAAN Rockville, MD). How will the collective benefit
from being affiliated with the network?

Kazm Collective has been a blast. Not just because of the wonderful
people that have been getting involved in what we’re doing, but
also because of the way we’ve approached our activities and
tried to stay away from everything that we hate about what’s
generally referred to as “activism”. This attitude is actually
part of the network’s history and is what gives it the potential to
be so much different from a lot of the groups going around nowadays
pretending to be revolutionary.

One of the things that makes Kazm special is that it’s one of the
first RAAN-affiliated groups that was founded specifically on the
principles of the network, and it’s certainly the first such group
to become firmly established. All of the people involved with the
collective have had past experience in activism, and when I was
asked about helping to organize a presence in the area, we knew
right from the start that we wanted to be part of RAAN because of
the kind of “no-bullshit” culture that the network has
fostered. To me, that more than anything else is the greatest
attraction of RAAN for Kazm and groups like it.

The people who originally came together to form the Red &
Anarchist Action Network did so specifically with a hatred for the
armchair discussions and reformist/statist concessions that have
been holding back the revolutionary movement. This is reflected in
the network’s principles, which developed directly out of
hundreds of debates between different ideologies, and to me
represents the most clear-cut plan for a workable anti-authoritarian
union between the compatible anarchist and communist tendencies.
So while we did have to spend parts of our first few meetings
chasing out Leninists and discussing the network’s positions
with people who were unfamiliar with them, at a very early stage in
the collective’s development we were already able to start
talking about action and - more importantly - going ahead and just
doing it.

I know people who were initially skeptical of working within an
existing set of principles, but who are now actually defending the
network’s uncompromising nature as an integral part of the
collective. This is great because I think it shows that the concept of
RAAN isn’t just another detached ideology, but something
rooted in practice and applicable to anybody who’s interested in
making that crazy, no-holds-barred revolution we’ve all been
talking about.

Finally, what is needed for success in Miami this November? How
can RAAN contribute?

Well, first of all I have to say that the network has traditionally been
very hesitant to attach any sort of importance to these major
summits and the mass mobilizations that accompany them, because
at the end of the day we’re just going to be playing their game by
their rules, and there’s absolutely no way we’re going to win
(that applies equally to all those who are planning more
“radical” actions at the protests). Especially in more recent
years, it seems that our movement has been more interested in
theatrics on the street than in the meaningful disruption of the
meetings that we came to oppose. One of the places where this is
especially visible is in the way that even the most direct-action
oriented protesters (those who will be throwing themselves at the
state’s lines and trying to crash the meetings) are for the most
part still approaching their attack from a defensive point of view.
This is reformist by nature because it puts us in a situation where
the only way we’ll be able to affect the meetings is if the state
ever decides to bow down and let us in. Of course I’m not
suggesting that we as a movement have the resources (in terms of
dedicated individuals) necessary to mount the kind of armed
offensive that could challenge state forces in Miami, but that
doesn’t mean that we don’t have other options open to us.

The summit’s organizers are actually quite strapped for cash,
which means that there are many things we can do to disrupt their
little party in terms of making the city uninhabitable or too costly for
them. But before we can do that, we need to start thinking outside of
the protest box they’ve set up for us. So for example, does the
Intercontinental Hotel where the meetings are going to be held have
the kind of security right now that it’s going to have on the
weekend of the 20th? Instead of thinking about how to win in Miami
when November rolls around, we should be discussing how to win in
Miami right now.

That said, RAAN has been getting ready for the meetings and what
I’m hearing most in the network isn’t “should we
go?” but “how are we getting there?” This is because
even though we are highly critical of the Northern
“anti-globalization movement”, we recognize that it’s
foolish to completely remove ourselves from it. The network’s
attitude in relation to these large protests has been to try and
minimize the damage that the security apparatus can do to us while
we’re in such a vulnerable position, so with that in mind
we’ve been exploring options like street combat and medic
training, which regardless of occasion or numbers is something that
all revolutionaries should seek out.

Link: http://www.redanarchist.net
Source: http://raanpublishing.politricksweb.com


This is one of the notes in infoswhop.org the foot of the above article:
Morpheus writes on Thursday September 04 2003 @ 11:21PM PDT:

Marx explicitly stated that the Dictatorship of the Proletariat was
a STATE. "Between capitalist and communist society there lies the
period of the revolutionary transformation of the one into the other.
Corresponding to this is also a political transition period in which the
state can be nothing but the revolutionary dictatorship of the
proletariat." - Karl Marx, Critique of the Gotha Program
Note that it is the State which is the dictatorship of the proletariat.
Therefore, anyone who advocates a Dictatorship of the Proletariat
advocates a state, and is therefore NOT anti-statist.

RAAN's position on the DoP is very similar to Lenin's position on
the DoP prior to coming to power, as expressed in "State and
Revolution" and the April Theses. In State and Revolution he said:

"[Marx]did not at all oppose the view that the state would
disappear when classes disappeared, or that it would be abolished
when classes were abolished. What he did oppose was the
proposition that the workers should renounce the use of arms,
organized violence, that is, the state, which is to serve to "crush the
resistance of the bourgeoisie".

The proletariat only needs the state for a certain length of time. It
is not the elimination of the State as a final aim that separates us
from the anarchists. But we assert to attain this end, it is essential
to utilise temporarily against he exploiters the instruments, the
means and the procedures of political power, in the same way as it
is essential in order to eliminate the classes to instigate the
temporary dictatorship of the oppressed class.

The State will disappear in so far as there are no more capitalists,
there are no more classes and it is no longer necessary to oppress
'any class'. But the State is not completely dead as long as
'bourgeois rights' which sanctify de facto inequality survive. In order
that the State dies completely, the advent of integral communism is
necessary. ... We set ourselves the ultimate aim of abolishing the
state, i.e., all organized and systematic violence, all use of violence
against people in general."

In April Theses he called for "Abolition of the police, the army and
the bureaucracy ... i.e. the standing army to be replaced by the
arming of the whole people" and "a state of which the Paris
Commune was the prototype."
http://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1917/apr/04.htm Of
course, after he got in power his ideas changed and he began to
advocate party dictatorship instead of this hyper-democratic
seemingly anti-authoritarian dictatorship. This change as a result of
being in a different situation; the establishment of a state led to the
rule of a bureaucratic elite (as Bakunin predicted) which in turn lead
to party dictatorship, since that was the only way the new elite
could state in power. Lenin's ideas changed with the new class he

Some people claim that RAAN merely means "revolutionary
violence" by their use of the term "DoP" (many Leninists say the
same thing about their DoP). If that is the case, they should say
"revolutionary violence" rather than DoP, to avoid confusion.
RAAN's previous article on the DoP by Nachie admits that
"dictatorship of the proletariat" was a bad word choice. By
continuing to use it they perpetuate confusion, and this confusion
opens the door to authoritarianism. To claim that if I hit my boss I
am automatically transformed into a "dictatorship" is idiotic BS.
RAAN uses an overly broad definition of the term, and by using the
same term as authoritarian socialists they create confusion that only
helps the authoritarians.

The use of the terms left-libertarian and anarchy do not create the
danger that the use of the term "dictatorship of the proletariat" does.
The immense majority of people who use the term "dictatorship of
the proletariat" use it to mean a dictatorial state. By arguing in favor
of a "dictatorship of the proletariat" you end up opening the door to
authoritarian socialism. As Daniel Guerin said:

"The reader knows by now that the anarchists refused to use the
term "State" even for a transitional situation. The gap between
authoritarians and libertarians has not always been very wide on this
score. In the First International the collectivists, whose spokesman
was Bakunin, allowed the terms "regenerate State," "new and
revolutionary State," or even "socialist State" to be accepted as
synonyms for "social collective." The anarchists soon saw,
however, that it was rather dangerous for them to use the same
word as the authoritarians while giving it a quite different meaning.
They felt that a new concept called for a new word and that the use
of the old term could be dangerously ambiguous; so they ceased to
give the name "State" to the social collective of the future."

The same is true of the term "dictatorship of the proletariat."

If the people in RAAN are serious about forging an alliance
between anarchists & supposidly "anti-state" communists, then the
commies need to make their opposition to the state clear and throw
out all the authoritarian junk. Keeping the DoP as part of the basic
principles of the network does the opposite, it makes you look like a
bunch of closet totalitarians. If RAAN were to drop the DoP they
would recieve much fewer criticisms and more people would be
willing to listen to them.

It possible that this is just a semantic difference, but fake
Makhno has argued that RAAN, or an influencial subset of it, are
closet authoritarians and this is reflected in their support for the
Dictatorship of the Proletariat, which relies on semantic gymnastics
and orwellian newspeak. If this is just semantics then RAAN would
have no problem dropping the term and using a less offensive one. If
they do have a problem with that, then it shows that it's more than
semantics. In support of his theory, fake Makhno has quoted this
piece from their Principles and Direction:

"After the destruction of the state, the bourgeoisie will no longer
hold any political power. However, it will still exist, along with its
influence over sectors of the proletariat. Bourgeois tendencies will
be made manifest and must be denied freedom of propaganda and be
excluded from the proletarian dictatorship. To call this "proletarian
democracy" is simply meaningless; democracy is a principle
originating from the bourgeois liberal tradition, which has always
based itself on the abstraction of "the people". "

This is a disturbingly authoritarian statement. "Bourgeois
tendencies" will be denied "freedom of propaganda" - in other words
they will be censored. Free speech will be abolished. This brings up
the question of how and who will determine which tendencies are
"bourgeois" and therefore subject to censorship. Some primitivists
have argued that anarcho-syndicalist is bourgeois, see "The
Bourgeois Roots of Anarcho-Syndicalism"
http://www.anarchosyndicalism.org/critics/bourgeois.htm Are
anarcho-syndicalists to be censored?

Rudolf Rocker already showed that the "dictatorship of the
proletariat" is of bourgeois origin - coming from the left-wing of the
capitalists. It evolved from the Radical Jacobins. See
http://www.anarchosyndicalism.org/rocker/soviet.htm Thus by
advocating the DoP RAAN is advocating a bourgeois capitalist idea.
The confusion caused by their use of the term "dictatorship" in such
an overly broad way helps perpetuate capitalist idealogical
hegemony. If bourgeois tendencies are to be "denied freedom of
propaganda" than any tendency that advocates a dictatorship of the
proletariat is to be "denied freedom of propaganda" because DoP is
a bourgeois concept. Since RAAN obviously does not advocate
censoring itself, some definition of "bourgeois tendency" must be
used other than a real "bourgeois tendency." "Bourgeois tendency"
under RAAN's dictatorship will be the same as the conception of
"bougeois tendencies" that evolved under Lenin - any tendency they

Futhermore, it is a serious theoretical error to say that the
bourgeoise will still be around after the state is smashed. If they are
then the revolution will be defeated and the state recreated. The
direct expropriation of the means of production by the working class
and the destruction of the state must be done simultaniously -
otherwise one will recreate the other. Once the means of production
have been exprorpiated the bourgeoise no longer exist. _Former_
bourgeoise may still exist, but they are no longer bourgeoise
because they no longer own the means of production.

After the means of production has been expropriated there will be
no bourgeoisie. The capitalists will no longer own the means of
productio and thus will not be capitalists. How can the upper class
be excluded from decisions making when they don't exist? _Former_
capitalists may still be around, but capitalists won't. Former
capitalists should be offered the opportunity to become equal
members of the new society. Those who attempt to use violence
against us in order to force us back into the old society will be dealt
with violently, but I see no reason to exclude or oppress former
oppressors if they recognize our victory and are willing to become
equals in the new society. We advocate the abolition of patriarchy
as well, that doesn't mean that women should start oppressing men;
it's the same with class. During the Spanish revolution there were
some former capitalists who choose to become workers in the
workplaces they used to own, they became equals with the formerly
oppressed (those who didn't backed either the Fascists or the
Marxist counter-revolution). The same policy should be followed in
future revolutions.

RAAN rejects democracy yet embraces dictatorship, even though
dictatorship has a far more authoritarian connotations than
democracy. There are long standing anti-authoritarian conceptions of
democracy (decentralized direct democracy). They object to
democracy as coming from a bourgeois tradition, but so does
dictatorship. Dictatorship is even more bourgeois than democracy;
many popular proletarian movements have raised the call for
democracy but the only mass movements to advocate dictatorship
were authoritarian movements.

Some defenders of RAAN's DoP confuse self-management with
dictatorship. There's a huge difference between a confederation of
popular assemblies and a dictatorship. See section H of the
anarchist FAQ for more on this. If RAANites genuinely believe in a
free society then they shouldn't use the term the authoritarian
socialists use because doing so confuses the differences between
the two. It is dangerously ambiguous. Of course, it's possible that
Makhno is correct - RAAN is really a closet authoritarian group. I'm
not convinced of this, but the more they hold to this DoP the more
they strengthen his case. If RAAN refuses to change their position
than they should be added to the fake anarchy page and treated like
the "anarcho"capitalists, 3rd positionists and other fake

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