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(en) US, Burning River's Colective "Tasks and Perspectives" Paper, Spring 2004 - comments encouraged

From Worker <a-infos-en@ainfos.ca>
Date Sun, 2 May 2004 18:11:23 +0200 (CEST)

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Burning River is a member collective of the Federation
of Revolutionary Anarchist Collectives - Great Lakes Region
(www.frac.ws). This is a paper (edited version) we recently
presented to FRAC at our bi-annual conference. Feel free to
send any comments our way or discuss them here.
-J, BRC juprising-A-yahoo.com
Resistance and Occupation Grow in Iraq
With the recent series of events in Iraq, BRC sees
the occupation of Iraq becoming an even larger issue
than when its status was dwindling last fall.
Al-Sadr's coordinated uprisings have both inspired
everyday Iraqis as well as the international anti-war
movement, even the non-violent wing. They have also
created, to some degree, solidarity between Sunni and
Shia forces. It is essential that we develop a clearer
understanding of the variety of resistance forces in
Iraq, one that does not impose a puritanical anarchist
view on both their positive and negative aspects. A
victory for the amalgamation of anti-occupation forces
in Iraq (i.e., forcing the U.S. to withdraw without
fully succeeding in imposing a puppet regime) would be
a victory for the people of the world who oppose U.S.
imperialism. It also should be seen as a boost for
the anti-war movement in the sense that the failure of
the U.S. to crush those within Iraq resisting
occupation has a direct correlation to the amount of
force "The Coalition" is willing to use based on its
fear of worldwide public opinion and outcry.

Questions exist has how to best increase this social
pressure on the U.S. to withdraw. How realistic is it
to publicly support the anti-occupation forces in Iraq
without falling into the "T" (terrorism/terrorists)
trap being set by the current catch-all doublespeak?
What do the people saying "Support our Troops, Bring
Them Home Now!" have to contribute to this movement at
this point? Is the time ripe to be part of the budding
network of groups supporting GIs who refuse to serve?
Is the possibility of a draft something we need to
take seriously at this point? If so, what role
will/can we play in building a draft refusal campaign
and movement? How do we relate to Kurds and their
struggle for a separate nation in the north?
The key, from our perspective, is to give critical
attention to these questions as we decide how we can
continue to increase the pressure for the U.S.

occupation to end, in the process exposing the
systematic (not incidental) nature of this conflict
and the need to confront the entire "war on
terrorism's" agenda.

The Parallel Universe of Palestine
Palestine has also seen a recent upsurge in both
resistance and repression. We see this as far from
coincidental. Sharon's ability to attack intifada
forces in Palestine is directly related to how tough
the U.S. is being in Iraq. Make no mistake about it,
the harsher we allow the U.S. to act in Iraq, the more
intense repression, raids, and assassinations will be
in Palestine. We should make a serious effort to
incorporate ending the occupation of Palestine into
all anti-war work.

It's the Economy, .or is it?
Capitalism's nature is to ebb and flow. At the
slightest downturn many leftists chomp at the bit to
claim capitalism, as an entire system, is in crisis.
While for working people in the U.S. right now things
are far from good, the "crisis" is not quite here.
That does not mean, however, that there are not real
issues to pay attention to.

Currently the Bush administration is shooting to be
the first presidential administration to have less
jobs than when they took over the oval office. This
is serious but needs a context. This fact will no
doubt be ammunition for the Kerry campaign. As
anarchists it's important that we admit there is a
difference here between Republicans and Democrats. The
difference being the approach used by the various
wings of the ruling class to build a "strong American
economy for the 21st century." Don't let not your
local Democrat supporters forget who signed NAFTA and
started talks for the FTAA. Clinton did not have job
loss anywhere near what Bush did. Much of this was
due to the "dot.com boom" and not Democratic trading
policies, but nonetheless. What Clinton did, and
Kerry no doubt plans to do, was to initiate job
transformation. The shift from manufacturing to
service oriented jobs was in full swing by 1995 and
continues today. Bush and company are perhaps a bit
more callous and disillusioning about the ordeal.
American workers are generally working much more and
much harder than ten years ago but getting paid less.
This is a logical result of this job transformation
from producing something to serving it (or typing up
paper work for it, etc.). Our (the anarchist
movement) understanding of economics is fairly weak at
this point. This calls for us to have a much deeper
and more involved understanding as to how the "new"
economy works and why. In addition to understanding
this "new economy," being aware of alternative
economic models is essential.

Working Where it Counts
The above analysis of the economy also leads BRC to
suggest the need for to engage the labor movement (not
just AFL-CIO, but yes, they are a part of what we mean
by that). What roll does organized labor have in this
"new" economy? Why are they being attacked so fiercely
by the Bush administration? Why do they continue to
support the Democrats even amongst the inability of
that party to do anything but occasionally place a
band-aid on Republican (and Democrat, no doubt)
wounds? What type of labor movement do we think is
capable of building explicit working class resistance
of an anti-capitalist nature?

Currently in BRC we have two members who are just
beginning to get active in their local unions. The two
areas they work in are shipping/transportation and
education. These are two areas we see as key to the
development of the type of movement we wish to see,
for two different reasons. What other areas we should
focus in on? Would working in public utilities, such
as phone, gas, and electric prove useful? How should
we go about developing a set of politics that speaks
to people in the areas we strategically focus on?

What issues are winnable but also expose the need for
eventual ruptures with the old ways? Are there
aspects of the current labor movement we should get
more involved in such as Jobs with Justice or other
lower wage worker organizations?

Marching for Women's Lives and Fighting for
Reproductive Freedom
This April 25th will be quite possibly the largest
march to defend the reproductive freedom of women the
U.S. has ever seen. Members have BRC have played an
instrumental role in building for this march in the
Ohio area. We see these types of massive,
woman-based, ultra-inclusive public actions as being
key in the current stage of beating back the attacks
on women's access to both reproductive and basic
healthcare. While the more mainstream and liberal
elements to this march and overall movement have their
flaws and lack revolutionary desires, this battle is
one that is possible of winning serious victories in
while under capitalism.

One question we have is how to relate to those, even
radical feminist organizations, that demand the best
current option is to vote Bush out of office? Another
important question is how do we unite anarchists,
especially anarcha-feminists, in order to facilitate
in planning for the potential reversal of Roe v. Wade?
Possible points of consideration include mass
mobilization and the development of alternative
women's healthcare networks.

To Vote or Not to Vote,
Many are Asking this Question
This summer the age old question will once again rear
its ugly head. In times of argument amongst the
ruling class and serious attacks in the international
and national arenas, does voting serve any type of
strategic purpose? Amongst BRC there are various
takes on those that see the need to vote in this
upcoming presidential election. They range from
outright rejection of anything associated with voting
to sympathy for those that vote while simultaneously
working on grassroots projects. At a recent video
showing/presentation, one BRC member put voting in a
particularly useful context: "I don't have a problem
with people voting as long as they don't see that as
being at all enough, as long they continue to work in
the streets, neighborhoods, and workplaces and don't
focus on the ballot box as their major way of making

We should take this position into serious
consideration in BRC's opinion. Is targeting the very
act of voting itself useful any longer? Was it ever?
Does it ever make sense for someone to vote? If so,
how does that change our take on the traditional
anarchist view of being against electoral politics of
all kinds?

Look Out Above
In the last year, especially because of various
exposures done by anti-war activists, it has been
revealed that counter intelligence programs of some
degree or another are being conducted under the guise
of "anti-terrorism." In Cleveland, during a trial of
an anti-war activist, an "undercover" boasted of the
fact that the police had been keeping tabs on most
activist and community groups in Cleveland, naming
several groups and people by name. The recent episode
in Grand Rapids, Michigan points to a similar
situation. It's safe to assume that things are the
same in all cities FRAC is operating in.

None of this should come as a surprise to militants in
FRAC, but it should not be glossed over either.
Security culture should be reviewed in all collectives
and encouraged in the general milieu of folks we work
with. New tactics and precautions should be
considered as well. While the state is aware of quite
a bit, we should never make it easy for them or assume
they know every detail of our work. The use of
anonymity should be heavily encouraged, whether by the
use of nicknames, emails without our real names, etc.

Digging Deep
BRC has been discussing the need for more grassroots,
community oriented work to take the place of the
general pandering to activists that is called
"building for revolution" amongst many in our ranks.
One member proposed an overly ambitious campaign
calling for the creation of several neighborhood based
organizations that would fight for local bread and
butter issues while injecting an anti-authoritarian
spirit and action. In other words, we would not hide
our politics nor impose them. While it was shot down
as not currently being possible, the general idea has
been haunting BRC members, especially since the
diminishing of the anti-war movement. We want to see
more discussion in as to how we should approach the
need to work more amongst working people and less
amongst "activists." The question is not whether to do
this but how and by what means.

Communicating without Talking
In line with the above suggestions and thoughts, we
would to increase the amount of agitational propaganda
and public art. This spring and summer the
opportunity is ripe to encourage local artists and
late night trouble makers to paint the town red and
black with messages of anti-occupation (of all forms:
Iraq, Palestine, bodies, police brutality, my
Another idea in this area concerns the creation of a
street-oriented paper.

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