Memory And Solidarity

from the 4th issue:

Mayday 2012: a ravenous black bloc appears, seemingly out of nowhere. The individuals involved are amassed, yet individuals nonetheless, acting according to their own rage, despair, wishes and dreams, accompanied by co-conspirators, known and unknown. Surrounding them are the demonstrators, varied and eccentric, as well as idle spectators and potential tattle-tales with their phones and cameras aimed at the momentary attraction. The media and the Seattle Police Department soon follow on foot, bicycle, and cruiser.

These various subjects are not so neatly categorized. Some exist in between lines, and a swirl of bodies makes every moment as unpredictable as the last. Such is the nature of subversive activity. We know from our experience of a controlled world that the uncontrollable element itself is the most dangerous. And for this reason the witch-hunt began. SPD has yet to learn how to consistently identify those covered in black clothing, and for every advance they make demonstrators innovate accordingly. When appropriate, their tactics change even without precipitation. The federal grand jury that convened in the Pacific Northwest starting March 2012 is a systematic attempt to identify demonstrators, target anarchists, and generate a condition of fear, all in hopes of quelling the efforts and haunting the minds of those who wish to strike out against the sources of their discontent.

The overall effects remain varied. In times of overt repression, people have the choice to scatter or come together. Generally the mix settles somewhere in between. I’ve seen previously unbridgeable gaps between individuals contract then disappear, sparking new connections and greater bonds, revealing unseen potentials for affinity. Some who were close are now closer and more potently dangerous than ever. Inversely, some have strayed, kept a distance, or otherwise fallen off. Different people have different reactions; you never really know if someone disappears because they are terrified or because they’re working with the police; perhaps some individuals decide it’s best to vanish completely and continue their conspiratorial mischief in the shadows.

Since over a year ago, there’s been a consistent flow of anarchist activity. Attacks of solidarity continue to reveal themselves by mouth, the media, and anonymous communiqués. Mayday 2013 saw a new wave of nobodies wild out on the streets of Seattle and Olympia. Those who were subpoenaed and appeared in court have been by now both imprisoned and released. Some in exile are still on the run. In other parts of the country we see repression, not directly related to the PNW, but certainly related in the sense that the State is seeking out undesirables who impose discontinuities in the timeline of historical progress. They know we coordinate with those we trust, that we do so in both the public and private spheres, and that we can act not only locally, but also nationally and internationally as well. This is why the feds have moved so viciously upon us. Conversely, we’ve come to know some things too. Many of us have grown to learn from our recent experiences, the wisdom of which I hope to touch upon now in hopes of sparking discussion:

Repression is continuous within the context of domination. The rise in support in the past year has been awe-inspiring, yet this same repression has existed since before this grand jury, before the green scare, the red scare, before repression against anti-war dissent, before the slaying of uncompromising Spanish anarchists and implacable illegalists, and it will continue after this grand jury ends. The resistance of those who seek autonomy today stems back to the original peasant revolts, indigenous struggles and all the anti-colonial efforts of the past, and while the Kings of the digital age possess technologies of mass data accumulation and an army of submissive citizens, I must still be quicker than it all, more sly and quick-witted than ever. If my friends share the same desires, perhaps we can attack with twice the power that I alone could harness.

Memory is a weapon. Now, in this sort of contextual aftermath, is the time we specifically do not forget. This is the time to resist the social amnesia that afflicts so many. Remembrance is not passive; it is expressed through activity, be it benefit events, attacks, or any effort by the creative individual to compromise the structural integrity and to atrophy the idea of social control itself. Recognizing a continuity of struggle allows us to contextualize our conditions, act with passionate precision, and care for one another. Taking care of each other while concurrently making it clear that our struggle has not ended is at the heart of the concept of living-and-struggle, a condition that refuses crystallization in either category.

Our network is global. Our current reality is a globalized one, and for this reason I challenge those in the PNW and everywhere else to think about what comes next. Now more than ever, it is important that affinities discuss the possibilities for the following year. The premise of this writing is to encourage that dialogue and all the action that could arise from it. Insurrectionary ideas are now widely understood by the anarchist milieu, and what we’ve learned from them is a sort of puissant togetherness that rejects classical organization and allows a constant critical transformation of ideas and strategy. The power we share takes form as a sort of amorphous cohesion, and this involves support across space. To this degree, anarchists are not hopelessly confined to their respective cities. On the contrary, the feeling of (and sometimes the adherence to) separateness in this terrible digitalized and globalized reality is effectively an illusion. Taking advantage of our reach is simply another tactic to be considered. As anarchists share local and regional extensions of support and attack, the enemies of anarchists coordinate across the globe. For example, west coast networks of solidarity can prioritize the struggles of the east coast, and furthermore, U.S. and Canadian anarchist networks of solidarity can support one another as well.

Social antagonism comes in waves. Finally, here we are, back in this overcast metropolis. We find here the most empowering phenomenon of surviving repression: the second wind. If it was the authorities’ intention to eliminate chaos in this city, they’ll be displeased to discover that our love-fury has done nothing but bloom and mature, and that our taste for destruction simply grows stronger in acuity. A question for Seattle: do you feel the rumbling beneath the concrete?

Amnesia is our Achilles’ heel. What drives you to act? From one’s anguish and rage to an idea of freedom or the memory of those who have fallen or are imprisoned, there is much to be driven by. As we speak, Jerry Koch is being held in contempt after being subpoenaed for the second time since 2009 in NYC. You can find information on how to act in solidarity with him on his support webpage (www.jerryresists.net). Then there’s Steve, the currently exiled PNW grand jury resister who could use our help. Ways to support Steve can be found online as well (http://solidaritywithsteve.noblogs.org). As each friend fades from our daily lives, we strike with ever-growing ferocity fueled by the despair we feel in their absence, and that space is filled with an unrelenting conviction.

There can be no tolerance for state repression and no credence for any judicial process whatsoever. By our shared value of autonomy we reject the power they claim over our lives. Support is necessary for all targeted individuals. As the wounds of repression heal, they are survived by the stories and lessons that we pass on.

Let’s not forget. Remembrance is key.

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Briefly, What Is the Northwest Panopticon and What Is DIY Servitude?

from the 4th issue:

The English prison reformer Jeremy Bentham came up with the idea of the panopticon prison. It’s a architectural design where all inmates can be watched by guards but can’t see the guards and hence don’t know when they are being watched, leading prisoners to self police their activities. The philosopher Foucault took this idea of the panopticon as the arch metaphor of modern power. On many levels this holds true with the northwest becoming a sort of open air prison with cameras on more and more corners and drones soon to become more common place. In tandem with this proliferation of the electronic eyes of the state, government agencies like the NSA and many businesses are vacuuming up and storing as much information as possible, from as many sources as possible, and coupling this info with their ability to use engineering and algorithms to erect a staggering system of monitoring, social sorting, and policing.

At the same time there is a different form of control at play a DIY form of servitude, something neither Bentham, Foucault, Orwell or Kafka foresaw. The pervasiveness of social networking sites (facebook, twitter, vine for example) and cheap cell phones with gps and cameras, have quickly become the basic means of communicating or more precisely “connecting.” Businesses along with new technologies have seduced people into sharing the details of their own lives. They have also capitalized on peoples enjoyment of the vicarious and voyeuristic consumption of others profiles, pictures, and interests. This has effectively turned the panopticon on its head, now the watched become the watchers and at the same time enjoy and desire to be watched. Unlike the cameras on the corner or drones in the air which gather information whether we like it or not, a unheard of amount of information is happily shared online. This “sharing” reveals many are going so far as to reach into the virtual world of the internet to try to form meaningful relationships, most likely in reaction to the lonely, exploited, and alienated lives that are experienced under capitalism and the state. But one thing is sure, that it is difficult to find another such straightforward example of the ruled in voluntary cooperation with their rulers.

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funny review of our first issue in Slingshot #114

http://slingshot.tao.ca/issue.html?0114018

“Anarchism from Seattle. Made by people who would seem to spend a lot of time on the internet finding insurrectionist related news then venting on the streets afterwards. No tolerance for liberalism here though not quite ready to advocate we all pick up guns or leave bombs in banks. I can see that on the night each new issue is printed minor property damage will probably visit the corporate business part of town. If this review were a scratch and sniff your nose would be greeted by the fresh smells of rain and spray paint.(eggplant)”

Expect the new issue to up online very soon. Left Bank Books & Black Coffee will get re-stocked this week as well.

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Storming Heaven, Issue #2

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The second issue of Storming Heaven is now available and can be found at Left Bank Books, the Wildcat and Black Coffee Co-Op. You can also download it here for online reading or printing (formatted for 11″x17″ printing).

Articles in this month’s paper include:

  • Remembering Carlo Guiliani, Remembering Rebellion
  • Announcement for the July 8th Prisoner Hunger & Work Strike
  • Chehalis, WA’s Greenhill Juvenile Detention Center Strike Demands
  • Artwork by the prisoners in Pelican Bay calling for the Hunger & Work Strike
  • Fault Line Of Istanbull, Insurrection Notes From Taksim (originally posted on http://en.contrainfo.espiv.net/)
  • An excerpt from “Some Notes On Insurrectionary Anarchism” which originally appeared in “Killing King Abacus”
  • a collection of communiques from the Pacific Northwest for the month of June
  • calendar of upcoming events in the Seattle, WA area

Submissions are open and can be emailed to stormingheaven (at) riseup (dot) net

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Taksim Square & The Gezi Resistance

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from the second issue of Storming Heaven

It was in the early morning of May 28th when the bulldozers came to uproot the trees at Gezi Park in Taksim Square, that a contagious rebellion began and spread throughout Turkey. What began as a protest against a development of one of Istanbul’s last green spaces to build a mall and the rebuilding of a military barracks, has now turned into a wide scale anti-government and anti-police movement. We’ve witnessed the Turkish government’s harsh response to the demonstrations resulting in almost 10,000 injured, many seriously, as well as several deaths. From pressured water cannons mixed with skin-burning chemicals to skies filled with tear gas, the ferocity of the police is reminiscent of Turkey’s tumultuous past.

To better understand the significance of the recent wave of protests in Turkey one has to only look into the past of the very heart of modern Istanbul, Taksim Square. Since it’s creation, the square has been a political battleground and a boiling point for social upheaval. One such instance is that of the 1969 Bloody Sunday on February 16th, in which the Turkish labor movement and left-wing demonstrators were brutally attacked by police forces and right-wing groups with clubs and knives, resulting in the death of two protesters and over 150 wounded.

Seventeen years pass as Turkey experiences a wave of political violence that resembles a low-level war with as many as 5,000 casualties, many of them left-wing students and intellectuals assassinated by ultra-nationalist, neo-fascist paramilitary groups like the Grey Wolves. On May 1st 1977, Taksim square witnesses yet another round of organized violence by fascists. In an attempt to undermine the demonstration, the media circulated rumors that the May Day protests would be bloody weeks before the event. That day, with the coordinated efforts of the police, ultra-nationalist groups and secret government security forces, 42 demonstrators are killed and hundreds injured. As one of the speakers is about to end his speech, shots are fired into the crowd by unknown assailants from on top of The Marma Hotel. The shooting lasts twenty minutes while the police stand by before charging into the crowd, crushing demonstrators with their armored vehicles. By the end of the day, hundreds of demonstrators are arrested and none of the assailants responsible for the shooting are ever found, due to a police cover up.

After the Taksim Massacre of 1977, no demonstrations were permitted in Taksim Square until in 2009 when the Turkish Government made May Day an official holiday in an attempt to cover up it’s past. But only after three years, May Day was yet again banned by the Turkish government resulting in severe clashes with the police as protesters attempted to march on Taksim Square. The street fighting that occurred on May 1st this year is a reminder that the revolt did not occur in a vacuum and reminds us of what length governments will go to when insuring their dominance, even when it means they must toss aside the disguise that they were nothing like before.

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Remembering Carlo Giuliani, Remembering Rebellion.

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from Storming Heaven, Issue #2

On the anti G8 riots, the death of Carlo Giuliani and their relevance to Seattle.

Why is the remembrance of anti-G8 riots and Carlo Giuliani’s death important to us in Seattle? After all, it happened in Genoa Italy more then ten years ago in July 2001. The situation was alien to anything we have recently experienced in Seattle: hundreds of thousands of people protested in the streets, 20,000 police and soldiers turned the city into a militarized zone, and thousands of rebels experimented with ”..the practical critique of action: banks would be attacked, supermarkets looted, dealerships set on fire.” Then the image of the police as anything other than a military force faded away and a masked twenty three year old Carlo Giuliani was shot and killed while smashing a police jeep with a fire extinguisher.

Not a situation experienced in Seattle recently to say the least, and yet the logic of the institutions at play and their willingness to kill to maintain order is the same. Conversely the joyous experience of the moment of individual and collective revolt can sometimes still be felt.

In Genoa then as in Seattle today the police strategy was to experiment with military tools and logic against rioters or protesters in the city. Violence is and was unleashed on all those who are insubordinate, people are beaten and locked in cages.

On the other side in Genoa “..after the passing of the rebels, who curious people and youth of the neighborhoods would frequently join, nothing was any longer as before. Cars, as mobile boxes that transport workers to their daily condemnation, became toys with which to amuse oneself and barricades with which to stop the police. The siren song of advertising that poisons the spirit and commodifies bodies was silenced. Electronic eyes were blinded. Journalists were driven away. Looting transformed commodities to pay for into free goods to share. Through colorful writing, the walls were freed from their dismal greyness. Streets, docks and buildings were used as arsenals. The city plan, modeled on the needs of the economy and refined by the imperatives of social control, broke down under the fire of the uprising.” In Seattle sometimes curious people and youth join as well, the media is chased away or humiliated, windows are broken, fireworks and smoke and paint bombs are thrown, the everyday capitalist normality is broken if even for a few moments.

After a moment of revolt ends in both Genoa and Seattle, activists, liberals, journalists, and politicians unite in their commentary calling for the elements that refused to recognize the holiness of private property and commodities to be recuperated or repressed. Some denounce the rebels as hijackers of the protests, proclaiming their faith that if only good demonstrators spoke the truth to power things will change. Others claim the rebels were infiltrators or provocateurs who intentionally ruined a great peaceful event. Some even go so far as to meet with the police (Juan Bocanegra in Seattle). Another common narrative focuses on the excesses of the police (the stranger and many activists for example). Video footage is examined, mostly to the detriment of rebels, but some hold up their images of police violence and demand justice. Nothing substantial ever comes of this except more proof that speaking the truth to power is useless, at most a few cops might be given unpaid vacation, a few charges against protesters dropped. “What could we add about the inanity of anyone who asks the courts for Truth and Justice, as if a single truth and justice could exist on both sides of the barricades? Haven’t the government, the rulers and the judges been explicit in absolving and promoting the murderers and torturers in uniforms, like always?”

In the end too often “All that is remembered of the days in Genoa is the brutality of the cops. The joyous aspect of a subversion of daily life has been almost completely buried.” So lets remember that contagious rebellion can conquer the streets even in Seattle, however we can’t let the blood shed by the hand of the state’s cops dry up in our mind so lets not forget Carlo Giuliani and anyone else beaten, imprisoned or killed by the police.

Quotes from this article are from So That That July Turns Out To Be A Threat by some anonymous Italians.

 

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Be Cruel: May Day and Insurrectionary Praxis in Seattle

becruel

from Storming Heaven, Issue #1

For a second year in a row, May Day in Seattle has erupted into an open confrontation and made national headlines, bringing anarchists once again into the spotlight. Though this year’s anti-capitalist march resembled something different than last year’s, it proved to be just as rebellious and surprised many by its unpredictability. But despite the insistence that the state response was a victory, this year’s May Day was an unmistakable achievement for those who participated considering the ongoing grand jury investigation from last year and the heavy use of scare tactics in the days leading up by the combined efforts of the FBI and mainstream media. The police were at their strongest and most prepared but did not deter the marchers from celebrating May Day as they flooded downtown and fought back as the police made their arrests. Trash cans, newspaper boxes and debris were thrown into the street to slow the police advance as the march was pushed up to Capitol Hill. By the end of the day, seventeen arrests were made with eight officers injured and a total of three businesses had their windows broken. Though this year’s march proceeded differently than last year, it still maintained the insurrectionary elements that made last year’s march successful. When looking at the progression of events over the past few years and the culmination of this year’s May Day, one can see how the principles of insurrectionary anarchism have played a role in their development.
One of the most telling differences between last year’s march and this year’s was the use of propaganda. Last year we saw numerous posters and copious amounts of graffiti, all promoting May 1st months in advance. This year there was perhaps one main poster for the event and almost no encouraging graffiti, however the march didn’t fail in drawing a considerable crowd. Another difference that shouldn’t be overlooked was the lack of any assemblies or meetings this year to prepare for the march. May Day last year appeared to be Occupy Seattle’s last stand, with numerous assemblies and meetings of various subgroups coming together to make preparations. This year there were no general assemblies and only a few autonomous subgroups emerged. All it took this year were a few posts online and a handful of comrades who felt it necessary to have an anti-capitalist march again, regardless of one constant year of pressure from the state. The lack of organizing, of propaganda and pre-events leading up, reveals not only the context of our current struggle but possibly what’s in store for future marches.
The circulation of insurgent desires is indispensable for any proliferation of revolt to occur, though how was it then that with such a small amount of promotion did the events occur the way they did this year? One possible answer is that there was a continuance from the aftermath of last year, resulting from not only the excessive media hype, but also by not limiting participation to only anarchist circle’s in last year’s planning. This continuance of struggle is often determined by the direct experience from participating in events that contain in them a rich arsenal of ideas. If disseminated and expanded on, these ideas can help new combatants learn from past mistakes as well as achievements. It’s this experience, this collective memory of revolt, that played such an important role in how last year’s May Day transpired and then in turn, influencing this year’s march. The continuity of any struggle depends on this vital experience. The rise of the anti-police protests in the winter of 2010 contributed to the confrontational style of Occupy Seattle, which in turn shaped our May Days in Seattle. This also shows us that a limited struggle, such as anti-police protests, can have unexpected consequences if past experiences and skills are circulated enough.
Another observation into why things developed like they have was the horizontal organizing that occurred within Occupy Seattle, contributing to a decentralized distribution of power, with no tasks passed down from any party or syndicate. Our only task was to act, to participate. It’s autonomous planning and non-hierarchical nature allowed for various informal groups with different aims to pass proposals granting them the freedom to act outside the larger group. Possibly one of the most significant proposals passed was that of a diversity of tactics. This allowed groups and individuals to respond to situations autonomously while not getting slowed down by any formal processes. This in turn prevented any reactionary forces from consolidating power while simultaneously contributing to long-term momentum. It was this momentum that sequentially left downtown devastated last year.
One of the underlining principles of insurrectionary anarchism is that through acting one learns to act. This often takes the form of attacking institutions of power by damaging their property, such as smashing out windows. Though propaganda plays an important role in clarifying how and why to act, its arguable that the action itself opens up the path of insurrection. Last year’s events became so viral due to the extent of vandalism that occurred and the sheer break with normality that day, as the black bloc wreaked havoc on businesses downtown. Though there was no call for a black bloc this year, the march still contained the spontaneity that last year’s black bloc possessed. Perhaps it was a strategic move not to have a black bloc this year, in turn no collective damage done. Attempting the same strategy as last year’s given the heavy police presence might have led to more arrests. Despite the lack of a black bloc presence this year, May Day shouldn’t just be judged by its level of destruction as this limits any discourse, which the media is already skilled at.

Another tenant of insurrectionary anarchism is that the force of insurrection is social, not military, meaning that the measure for evaluating the importance of a generalized revolt is not the clash itself, but rather the extent of paralyzing the economy and disrupting normality. If you take this into account when looking at May Day, one can gain better perspective of our struggle within these terms. The way decisions were made and skills shared, the bonds that developed between comrades; these were much more important than the black bloc smashing the windows of Niketown and American Apparel of last year or the few acts of vandalism this year. In a few regards, May Day of this year was just as volatile and combative as last year’s. The linked affinity developed during the last few years from concrete experiences and self-organization made the march uncontrollable and its disruption spread rapidly while the police attempted to seize control. We witnessed attempts to stop police vans from leaving with arrested comrades and on a few occasions even pulling officers off of others as they attempted to make more arrests. There was a moment at Pike and Broadway when the sound system leading the crowd attempted to head north instead of taking a route downtown. The majority of the march didn’t pay them any attention as they headed towards the police ambush awaiting them at Westlake, the crowd wanted a confrontation despite the odds. Seeking out recurring clashes, such as marching on May Day, allows us to develop our skills, test our methods and find other comrades.
Though this is a brief look into the nature of Seattle’s recent anarchist activity, you can see the development of a combative tradition that won’t be stamped out so easily by the state. This development has its limits though if confrontations cannot be sustained. This is why it is so important to support our comrades in prison and those arrested at demonstrations like May Day. If we don’t possess the ability to support each other through arrests and repression, through court dates and fines, then the foundation of any insurrectionary momentum will struggle to obtain any footing. Our collective memory of experiences of past battles, their ensuing scars and the lessons we’ve uncovered is a priceless tool in insurrectionary practice. And like all tools, they must be polished and sharpened, and if neglected will rust with time and their purpose will be forgotten.

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Storming Heaven #2 Out Now

In this month’s paper:

  • Remembering Carlo Giuliani, Remembering Rebellion
  • Announcement for the July 8th Prisoner Hunger & Work Strike
  • Demands from the Green Hill Juvenile Prison Strike
  • Fault Line Of Istanbull-Insurrection Notes From Taksim
  • Taksim Square & The Gezi Resistance
  • excerpt from “Some Notes On Insurrectionary Anarchism”
  • communiques from actions in the Pacific Northwest from the month of June
  • calendar of upcoming radical events in Seattle

.pdf to be posted soon.

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Announcing the first issue of Storming Heaven

The first issue of a new Seattle anarchist periodical, Storming Heaven, is now out and available.

It is the aim of the editors for this paper to serve as a clearing house for essays and articles pertaining to current events in Seattle and the greater Pacific Northwest area that resonate within an insurrectionary-anarchist analysis of domination, patriarchy, civilization, the state and capitalism. It is not our aim to merely “become the media,” because the media is the mouth of the pigs and the capitalists and we wish to see it utterly destroyed as an apparatus of state power. More so, we wish to give space to comrades in the struggle against the existent to voice analysis, critique and updates on ongoing struggles.

Copies of this paper can be picked up at Left Bank Books, The Wildcat, the Black Coffee Co-Op and other bookstores and coffee-shops.

You can download the .pdf in 11″x17″ format here.

Submissions for the paper are open and can be emailed to: stormingheaven@riseup.net

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