An Open Letter to the “Anarchists” Who Voted for Obama

In a future revolutionary period, the most subtle and most dangerous defenders of capitalism will not be the people shouting pro-capitalist and pro-statist slogans, but those who have understood the possible point of a total rupture. Far from eulogizing TV commercials and social submission, they will propose to change life… but, to that end, call for building a true democratic power first. If they succeed in dominating the situation, the creation of this new political form will use up people’s energy, fritter away radical aspirations and, with the means becoming the end, will once again turn revolution into an ideology. Against them, and of course against overtly capitalist reaction, the proletarians’ only path to success will be the multiplication of concrete communist initiatives, which will naturally often be denounced as anti-democratic or even as.. “fascist”. The struggle to establish places and moments for deliberation and decision, making possible the autonomy of the movement, will prove inseparable from practical measures aimed at changing life.
-Gilles Dauvé: When Insurrections Die (Part 2)

Beloved and respected friends and comrades,

I’ve been putting this off for a little while, because it pertains to those who I “know” only digitally, and those of you whom I know and care for, which is little different than my normal motives for procrastinating. I’m also having difficulty coming to any kind of conclusive conclusion. Sometimes I feel like that straight-edge teen I used to be. The one who had to ignore my friend’s personal habits, if I wanted the friends I had. I’ve since exchanged abstinence for abstention, but the moral highlands get lonely. We all have moments, every day, when our words and actions are not explicitly anarchist ones. That’s no real contradiction. Theory’s theory,  and reality is reality. I lack the formal education to decide at what point (or which actions) we rack up enough ‘un-anarchist’ points to get the discount on gas or free coffee or purged from the Movement.

The recent US national election saw many of you anarchists (outside of the title, I’ll refrain from using quotation marks or “self-described” out of respect) publicly endorse and proudly vote for Barack Obama. I was unaware of the existence of modern anarchists in the US in August of 1999, but when I look back, I can find no evidence of any radical fanfare when Franklin Raines became CEO of Fannie Mae.

Looking back, It seems that anarchist involvement in US political conventions seems to be a baby-boomer contribution. I’m unaware of any anarchist actions at the political party conventions before 1968. Other than the tactical lack of Republican mobs in the street, we seem to harbor a soft spot for the Democrats. Maybe later we can figure that one out and we can also discuss why we even protest the political conventions?

This election, many people who identify as anarchists, saw no contradiction in voting. Some of you weren’t even the “hold your nose and vote” types. Some anarchists seem  proud of themselves, their country, and their candidate, for the moment, but that’s a moment too long. The reasons you gave us were pretty much the same reasons that people who vote democratic tend to give, plus some debatable notions that democratic administrations allow room for social movements to flourish (like they’re mountain lions) and murky stuff about solidarity. Which you may remember is the flipside of my past endorsements of “the worse of two evils”, because “an increase in open repression, privation, and alienation would push our beloved homogeneous masses to open mutiny” and that “republican policies can hasten the end of US empire quicker than the democrats can”. But I was less than half-serious and never actually went through with it. I didn’t have much internet access before the election, so I was unaware of this backslide into electoral superstition.

The  memory escapes me, but I am unaware of democrats nurturing radical social movements, I remember many armed right wing, “partiot”  groups, who are in favor of Jesus, if they don’t consider themselves Jesus. This time around, they can protect us from the UN and the Federal Reserve and al Qaeda in Idaho.  Dubya just didn’t deploy the black helicopters like Clinton did. Conspiracy kingpin, Alex Jones, should be able to afford an island soon. This is good news for the State security apparatus, because the similarities in views, structure, goals, and appearance between the FBI and the theocratic militias is much easier than these years of tormenting Muslims.

Anarchist voters also had to be pretty certain that Obama would govern from the center-right, in the manner expected of a modern US president, because if he was the “marxist” that right-wing radio still maintain he his, the repression against anarchists would likely be swift and brutal, if the 20th century is any indicator. The 21st century hasn’t proven to be much better.

Some of us knew that the campus radicals were easy prey for the democrats. The rise in anarchist votes in the last two elections seems to be reflective of the recent increase in youth turnout, overall, but many comrades who should have known better, “signed their social contract” last week. It’s not hard to see where material conditions become more of a concern as the acceptable age for youthful rebellion in the US is left behind. Add a few kids to that mix, and anything that has an outside chance to make material conditions even slightly less miserable must seem like a real good idea. Besides, who doesn’t crave some legitimacy every now and again and the pressure exerted by the people around you can be great? I also have the luxury of not being canvassed all day by co-workers.

I think that many of the anarchists who are concerned with building a mass movement of some sort, may have been more susceptible to voting. It’s likely some anti-authoritarians wanted to be on the winning team for a change, because there was that kind of group energy and momentum swirling around the Obama campaign, if you were willing to ignore the structure and aims. The business unions may have made voters out of some the anarchists who are there to radicalize the union. Which is telling, as far as the notion of changing the system from within is concerned, as if that one needed another debunking.

We tend to run with a pretty iconoclastic bunch, so it’s easy to forget, but hard to discount the effect that endorsements by some of the leading lights of mainstream anti-authoritarian academia must had. Bill Ayers probably gave Obama some radical credibility. Or was it radical chic? The republicans simply couldn’t grasp the political reality that people like Ayers are big-money liberal fund-raising props, like their wounded troops and police widows. Liberals love proxy violence and armed-struggle; so long as it is from another time or place, as sure as conservatives love US military and police violence. Zapatistas and Sandinistas and aging bombers are venerated money magnets, but break a window at a present day demo or hit a nazi with a stick and their American Exceptionalism is triggered. They’re incensed.

Like christmas, it’s not easy to avoid being sucked into the campaign reality grid, considering the resources expended on sucking us in. Avoiding Obama’s gravitational pull wasn’t easy, either. I guess even I’d seem pretty attractive if I spent $650 million of someone elses money to do so. I love politics as a spectator sport, though and this cycle was particularly entertaining, but I still don’t have a favorite team. Having lived through seven presidents, it wasn’t hard to figure out that the pendulum would favor a democrat this time around. McCain’s dementia-influenced health care plan which I sill can’t comprehend, was a far cry from the Wall Street sanctioned Obama proposal. When the reality that capitalism is just a game we all agree to play wounded the markets, there was no way Obama could lose. It was almost shocking to be reminded that the democrats were ever skilled at the game of elections.

US elections have also proven to be of extra dubious legitimacy lately, and electronic touchscreens have done little to make the results seem more valid. The participation of people I care about does nothing validate that process for me either. The fraud, intimidation, disenfranchisement, and other irregularities make the powerball seem like a better idea.

Does anyone really believe that the aircraft carrier of State can make a quick 180 degree turn, no matter how cool the captain seems? That’s why there are so many bizarre laws still left on the books, it’s not easy to put these things back into the box, Pandora. The State ensures its existence by passing laws, not repealing them. The issues that separate the US parties are meant to stay unresolved, or all they have to differ on is semantics and the parties would go out of business. Abortion & firearms seem to be the defining ones, and both are here to stay. The need to be armed and voluntary eugenics will never go out of style, as long as this system exists. The firearms manufacturers love democratic presidents, who become amazing gun salesmen through hysteria generated by lobbyists and pundits. Dubya was quite the Planned Parenthood fundraiser. Issues that unite the parties include; staying in Iraq, also known as supporting the troops, and as much surveillance as is technologically and near-economically feasible, which is pretty much just not mentioned by politicians or the media, at all. Obama, as you may recall is a-ok with domestic suveillance, and the “War on Terror®” is the replacement for the cold war. I don’t know which of the “changes” you “believed in” but they apparently weren’t in white house staffers, since 37 of the 41 appointed so far were ex-Clinton lackies. Can we look forward to more “workfare”, humanitarian airstrikes, and extra cops, fresh back from Iraq? Elected democrats are often called upon to prove how ‘tough’ they are on certain issues, typically these are mostly things like “Crime”, “Communism/Terrorism,most-isms”, “Drugs” and ocassionally “Poverty” or “Illiteracy”. The last two aren’t as much a priority, because they seldom involve explosions.

I can’t pretend to begin to have anything even resembling a clue, as far as how many of us the US consider themselves to be anarchists. I’d prefer to be wrong, but it can’t be too many. There’s probably a bigger Fiero owners club. In fact, I doubt that if every anti-authoritarian moved to a sparsely populated US state; all of us put together would not be enough to change the outcome of a US election. The math is what makes any argument for voting moot. I thought we knew our votes didn’t count? Had former 1960’s bomber John McCain won the election would that have jogged your collective memories? Would so many have admitted to voting? The folks who took a sabbatical from practicing anarchist theory and voted were not even a factor. Had you all remained proper abstentionists, like a big chunk of the population who don’t consider themselves anarchists, I wouldn’t be wasting a week on this one post.

Once again, it made little difference to the election whether anarchists participated or not, so I guess it shouldn’t matter to me?  I don’t know why I feel a little betrayed, though. Maybe it’s just knowledge of the loss of a shared affinity? After the passage of a little time, I have to question the election as a great historical event. Whites in the US have accepted Tiger Woods as the greatest at an activity that brown-skinned people have traditionally had sense enough to avoid, like skydiving. For 35 years I’ve listened to the blue-collar bigots in my family and neighborhood profess their admiration for Muhammad Ali, a physically dangerous black man with legitimately radical views, who practiced Islam.  As long as our celebreties are attractive enough, race can be easily overlooked.

I guess I didn’t campaign too vigorously against this election, out of guilt, which I imagine is what led you to endorse, campaign, and vote for Obama, and why you are still proud of your vote.

Parts of this will be addressed later, but something had to be said.

Love,

yinsurgent

“Joe the Plumber” & The American (Pipe) Dream

“I can hire one half of the working class to kill the other half.”
-Jay Gould, Robber Baron

The 15 minutes of fame awarded to republican mascot, Samuel Wurzelbacher, aka “Joe the Plumber”, confirms what I have long considered to be the single greatest psychological problem afflicting working people in the US. Not the taste for mass-produced,  country “music” that is pumped from Nashville into large motor vehicles and  suburban and rural homes like sewage, but that steady journey to a mirage of an oasis, in this social desert. Mr. Wurzelbacher embodies the economic Stockholm syndrome of working people confusing their desires with those of the elites.

A lesser evil was the form that some of the corporate media/liberal blogger attacks against Mr. Wurzelbacher took. Not having internet access, at the time, I missed out on some of the more entertaining, but sadly untrue rumors such as the ones where his dad was Charles Keating’s (of McCain’s “pre-maverick” days) son-in-law. There’s no way I wouldn’t have bitten on that one. I fully comprehend that he volunteered to be a partisan combatant and should not have been surprised when bureaucrats in Ohio and elsewhere ran his numbers. The media focus on his back taxes and inability to complete a specialized training program and obtain professional licensing, portrayed being working poor as a moral failing, since millions of us have been in those kinds of situations. The liberal strategy of combating phony populism with genuine elitism seems somewhat misguided.

Why such a “great american”  who is connected to an astrofturf pseudo-union would choose to lie and associate himself with something as “marxist” as trade union (on myspace and facebook) is beyond me, especially when said trade union had given the member dues to the opposition candidate. Personally,  I’d no sooner pretend to be a member of plumbers union than a motorcycle “club”.

Like many people in the US, Wurzelbacher suffers from the delusion of cross-class mobility. Some people are willing to suffer any indignity, not just higher taxes in the here-and-now and allow the wealthy to get away with anything, in anticipation of a massive rise in personal income, like lottery winners and Bill Gates and Michael Jordan and Metallica and they can’t bear the thought of their dream wedding, hypothetical fortune being overtaxed. It’s Stockholm syndrome. How many people toil their lives away under the mistaken impression that they will one day buy the business they work for? I have about the same chance of buying that plumbing company as he does. Is it just another version of “being rewarded in heaven” or an economic Rapture? If a corporate entity is large enough, even the working poor who toil for it can buy stock in the company they work for. It is regarded as great privilege to possess a speck of a symbolic representation of the means of production. You become a gambler, although a less than insignificant one, and your low wages and paltry benefits and even your layoff, should it be deemed necessary, are all fixes implemented to benefit and improve the odds, for you, the shareholder. Your 401(k) depends on large groups of other workers and the planet itself being done even worse than you are.

Even in the US, these market fundamentalist, folk traditions often exact an even higher toll than mere degradation and wholesale boredom and they are not without their martyrs. Some people work themselves to death much faster than others in pursuit of the “American (sic) Dream”.

Landslide Farmhouse Eviction Account and Support Information‏

The City has unboarded the house, but informed the residents that they may not sleep there. Legal status is being worked out. A benefit is planned, and donations are being accepted.

UPDATE!!!!

Thanks to the hundreds of phones calls of support to Council Woman Payne’s office, public works, the mayors office, and to 311; the Support of Council Woman Payne, and legal aid from the ACLU, our lawyer and one long, hard day of work from many other helpful folks, the boards will be removed from the farmhouse. We are thankful for all your support. This victory, though temporary, has shown us just how many people in our community and the larger community care about Landslide.

Personal Account of November 7th 2008 Landslide Community Farm’s Farmhouse Eviction

On the morning of November 7th 2008 the Landslide Community Farm volunteers were assembling to plan the 3rd day of their yearly farm closing work week, when Pittsburgh Public Works arrived escorted by several PGHPD vehicles, including a police wagon. The police asked for identification from all people on the sidewalk when they arrived. They then asked to see a written lease agreement or deed for the farmhouse.

No written agreement was able to be presented; police officers then notified all present that we had fifteen minutes to remove our important belongings before the house would be barred. When asked why we were being evicted, we were told that an anonymous complaint call had been made to Mayor Luke Ravenstahl’s 311 hotline. The caller claimed that we were violating building code.

Neighbors, visitors, and volunteers helped us retrieve as much of our property as we all could before we were denied re-entry. The Public Works employees then measured and tried to board the doors, but their van was a bit too far down the hill. They pulled the van up and backed over their own saw. They had to leave the premises to purchase a new one. Police officers remained outside watching the community farm members as we watched over the farmhouse.

Public Works returned and boarded two of the entrances. The police asked if anyone was still present in the house. A full time volunteer re-entered and checked the premises and reported that no one remained inside. Then, two police officers entered the house admittedly without permission from the owner and without a search warrant. Public Works then boarded the last door and the police informed us we would be immediately arrested if we entered the farmhouse. The PW workers left with the police shortly afterward.

Councilwoman Tonya Payne, a major supporter of the farm, came a bit later with the same PW employees that had sealed the farmhouse. She and the other city employees said they wished they could help us in this situation. The councilwoman didn’t know how to go about that, and the PW employees said that they could only follow orders. We are now trying to figure out our next steps and what our options are. We are currently working with a lawyer but if you have ideas or advice please email Landslide@riseup.net.

If you would like to help us out, we need you! Please come to Landslide in the next few days to help us finish our closing work. You can also attend our emergency fundraiser tomorrow, November 8th, 2008 5452 Wilkins Ave. at 8 pm. We will be having our weekly Sunday Brunch benefit (a spilt benefit between Landslide and Book ‘Em) as usual on Sunday, November 9th Noon-3ish pm. Anything that you have (especially love and support) will help get us through this tough period and build our collective strength. Monies collected will first go toward legal fees and we will also be raising money in case the farmhouse goes up for city auction soon. If you cannot physically come to Landslide but want to donate money, you can send donations via Pay Pal on http://www.thomasmertoncenter.org by selecting “Donate” then “Projects” then choosing the Sustainable Living Project. Checks should be made out to “The Thomas Merton Center” memo “Sustainable Living Project”. Checks and money orders can be sent to: The Thomas Merton Center 5125 Penn Ave. Pittsburgh, PA 15206. We will have a list of tools and materials that we could use and projects that are being completed posted on our website shortly. Please check http://www.landslidecommunityfarm.org for updates.

Thanks so much to everyone that has been a part of all the kindness, generosity, and overwhelming support that the project has received. We couldn’t be here with out it.


members
of The Landslide Community Farm

Ravenstahl “Greens” the Hill: Landslide Farmhouse Evicted

boarded1For some strange reason, that probably has nothing to do with admitted liar and extortionist Mario Lemieux’s, gambling-funded $290 million Taj Mahal in the Hill, or overtime pay, Landslide Community Farm was Redd-Up. Instead of “cleaning up neglected and overgrown lots, towing cars, boarding up abandoned buildings, getting rid of graffiti” a group of individuals who are participating in a community farming project had their person and property put out on the curb and their home boarded up while licensed terrorists were there for some reason, maybe to provide cover fire? That is after the politicians nephews from Public Works found a
replacement for the saw that they ran over with one of their own trucks. Given the popularity of irony in recent years, it’s worth pointing out that at the time of this writing, on beloved and respected comrade mayor Ravenstahl’s web page, the first item is this Green Up Pittsburgh Application (posted here for your convenience, should you need to start a community farm of your own)

signThis was my first visit, and I was quite impressed.This incident was kind of shocking to me, as far as I knew, this was a pretty well respected and established project, with both community and a degree of political support. Hell, even the Trib, was impressed.

watering-can

The following are messages from the Landslide folks:

**Update**

Councilwoman Tonya Payne’s office has contacted us to say that she’s working on the issue and that we should stop contacting her so she can get to work helping us. Please stop calls to Councilwoman Payne’s office but continue calling Mayor Ravensthal’s hotline 311 and the Department of Public Works (412) 255-2790 (ext 3).
City officials are now telling us that we are being evicted because the house had no doors or windows. You can clearly see doors AND windows in the photograph below (which was taken at the time of the eviction). Our attorneys are advising us that regardless of any alleged building code violations, the eviction was without proper notice or opportunity to remedy any problems and completely illegal.
Thank you all for all of your support. Keep checking back to www.landslidecommunityfarm.org for updates. Let’s keep the pressure on!
In Solidarity,

Landslide Community Farm

harbs

At a little before 9:00 am this morning, four police officers and two representatives from Pittsburgh Public Works arrived at the Landslide Community Farm farmhouse (#3 Allequippa St.) and told everyone inside to leave—the house was being boarded up. Police and Public Works officials could produce no documentation other than a work order instructing them to board up the house.  Apparently someone had phoned in a complaint stating that 20 or so ‘vagrants’ had been living in the house. There had been no advance notice, no opportunity to fix any purported problems, just an abrupt eviction. Police demanded to see a written lease. When none could be presented (our lease agreement is verbal, as are around 40% of all leases agreements) they told us that they had ‘no choice’ but to comply with the order and board up the house. Police made it clear that the owner of the house had not requested the eviction and that they had not contacted her before We are working hard to settle the situation but we need your help to pressure the authorities to let us back into our homes. Please call: Councilwoman Tonya Payne- 412-255-2134 Mayor Luke Ravensthal’s Hotline- 311 Tell Councilwoman Payne and the Mayor that Landslide community farm is an established and respected community project. Take all appropriate action to let these farmers back into their homes! In Solidarity,
Landslide Community Farm http://www.landslidecommunityfarm.org

amar

Trial of Three Pittsburgh Antifascists Enters Third Day

Actually, they are getting dressed up (I hope) for the 4th day of court, as I type this. These aren’t the kind of folks who are begging for money, but sitting on a sizable check from home. Details on the incident can be found here. I don’t know why the police aid the fascists in these kinds of situations. Maybe it’s the similarity of clothing, hairstyles, or footwear, but I fear another kind of affinity. Race ceases to be an issue for a nazi when it comes to which cop they will hide behind.

I know if you’re reading this you’re probably more destitute than me, but every little bit helps.

**We are in need of monetary donations to pay for expenses, rent, and
bills! The trial is running much longer than expected and we are all
missing work.

Please paypal us anything you can spare at
GPAC412@GMAIL.COM or e-mail us to make arrangements!**

After 2 days of hearings to address various motions brought forth by
the defense to suppress evidence and dismiss cases, we are officially
entering our trial tomorrow (Thursday November 6th).

The charges are as follows:

  • Defendant 1: 2 counts assault on a police officer, 2 counts possession of a prohibited weapon (pepper spray and a knife)
  • Defendant 2: 1 count assault on a police officer, 2 counts possession of a prohibited weapon (pepper spray and a knife)
  • Defendant 3: 1 count assault on a police officer, 1 count simple assault, 2 counts possession of a prohibited weapon (pepper spray and a lead pipe)

The case stems from an incident on April 19th, 2008 in Washington DC
involving a planned demonstration by the National Socialist Movement
which had to be cut short and partially canceled.

Anti-fascists from
across the region gathered to stop their march.

Various neo-Nazis and supporters were attacked, and the police made 6 arrests after an
incident in which multiple police officers and neo-Nazis were allegedly attacked with pepper spray.

Because of the huge amount of lies and false testimony all but one case involving three co-defendants has been dismissed.

The prosecution is calling multiple police officers and agents from the Department of Homeland Security as witnesses in their case.

They are accusing the defendants of being involved in the melee and assaulting officers.

If convicted, they face a maximum of 6 months in jail for each count against them.

This trial was expected to be dismissed or last one day, and is dragging out over a week.

The anti-fascists involved are in immediate need of monetary donations to help pay their rents and bills as they are losing over 5 days of pay.

We haven’t even taken into account the amount of fines and court costs we will be incurring.

If you can donate us any money to help with expenses, you can paypal us money at
GPAC412@GMAIL.COM

For a classless, free society.

Against fascism!
Greater Pittsburgh Anarchist Collective
Member of the Anti-Racist Action Network
GPAC412@GMAIL.COM

Brand USA Chooses New Spokesmodel…Jesse Wept

While we can’t deny the historical signifigance of Obama’s presidency, we remain unconvinced of the need for presidents. The YT received a copy of press release which is circulating today.

November 5th, 2008, Washington DC-Brand USA-Brand USA, freedom exporter, is pleased to announce the hiring of Illinois senator, Barack Obama, as their new spokesmodel. Mr. Obama is set to make his debut at the US presidential inaguration,  January 20th, 2009 in Washington, DC.

“Mr. Obama is a uniquely qualified to represent Brand USA in today’s global market envrionment, and his ethnic background should make trade negotiations with emerging economies a breeze.”, said Becky Smith, VP of Sales and Marketing for Brand USA, “We also needed to add a new product to our line of impossible dreams for African-Americans. US President will be a good fit to join our already successful family of products featuring such big sellers as “professional athlete”, “lottery winner”, and “rap mogul”.

The choice of Mr. Obama will also allow Brand USA to finally put to rest the notion of “institutional racism”, which could not possibly exist in a nation with an African-American president. After five years of non-stop criticism of current spokesmodel, G. W. Bush, Brand USA looks forward to branding ungrateful critics of our new face as ‘racists’, the way we called them ‘traitors’ in the first few years after the 9/11 attacks.

Anticipate large gains in the right-wing pundit sector of the US economy, despite their lack of direct access to the white house.

The swing of the political pendulum from right to center, and back again, must occur every so often as a safety valve to prevent Brand USA residents from taking up arms and seizing control of their own lives.

It was inspiring to see reports of throngs of various sizes swarming into the streets, feeling empowered.  I wish Bill Ayers really was pulling his strings and that he was the out and out commie that the right-wing noise machine alleges him to be. Obama seems like a decent enough guy, but I wonder if the US machine even has the kind of functions that will benefit the populace. People in my neighborhood seem elated today and I’m at a stage in the life cycle when everyone I know seem to be dropping cubs at an alarming rate, so incremental reforms aren’t quite as appaling to me as they once were.

Plotting a Comeback?

It’s amazing how many hits the YT has gotten during our health, legal, and technology induced sabbatical. Way more than when it was still being updated. The web can pretty interesting when you haven’t seen it for awhile, not to mention, intimidating. The email account associated with this has had all of its messages deleted, because it had been so long since it was accessed. Sorry if any of those were emergencies or important.