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

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Starbucks: PA Turnpike Actions & No Mansion for its CEO Email Campaign

http://www.starbucksunion.org/Union Spreads News of SBUX Organizing Drive Across PA on Black Friday with Leafleting at Turnpike

Submitted by SWU on Mon, 11/19/2007 – 5:27pm.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contacts: Central PA – Hawa Lassanah
(717) 380-6085
Western PA – Kenneth Miller
(412) 241-1339
Updates on: www.starbucksunion.org

PITTSBURGH, PA — On Black Friday, the traditional start of the holiday shopping season, members and supporters of the Starbucks Workers Union (SWU), part of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), will spread the news of union organizing and the exploitation of coffee workers by the world’s largest coffee chain, Starbucks, at rest areas along the PA Turnpike.

Starbucks, a company that has built a reputation as the leader in “Socially Responsible” business practices, has been exposed as a union buster, and its claims about respectful treatment of coffee growers does not hold up to the most elementary scrutiny.

“Starbucks has deceived many people into believing that it is a decent employer. But the reality of working at Starbucks is a poverty wage, irregular scheduling, and unaffordable health care. Starbucks needs to stop the union-busting and respect our rights now,” says SWU organizer Daniel Gross. The SWU organizes workers at both company-owned and licensed Starbucks facilities.

read more

File under: IWW Starbucks Workers Union News

 

E-mail Action: Say NO to Starbucks Chairman Mansion Purchase!

Friends:

As Starbucks Chairman Howard Schultz wages a crude
union-busting operation against baristas striving for
a living wage and secure work hours, he is applying to
buy a $25-$30 million co-op apartment in Manhattan!

Tell the building’s Co-op Board that New York is a
union town and Howard Schultz is not welcome here!

Click here to participate in the e-mail action:
http://starbucksunion.org/node/1903

Thank you for all of your hard work.

-The IWW Starbucks Workers Union, http://StarbucksUnion.org

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File under: Starbucks Union

–>

 

Starbucks-Licensee Threatens IWW With Frivolous Lawsuit

Submitted by SWU on Thu, 11/15/2007 – 4:56pm.

For Immediate Release:
IWW Starbucks Workers Union
November 15, 2007
Contact: starbucksunion@yahoo.com

Statement of Starbucks Workers Union Followed by Legal Threat Letter from HMSHost:

“Starbucks should be ashamed that HMSHost, the
operator of 150 Starbucks stores, is threatening
frivolous litigation against the Industrial Workers of
the World to stifle First Amendment activity. This
type of anti-worker conduct is among the factors
contributing to the decline of the Starbucks brand and
attendant earnings woes. The IWW Starbucks Workers
Union will not be deterred by a baseless lawsuit and
we look forward to carrying out our communications
initiative at Pennsylvania’s HMS-operated Starbucks
stores this Black Friday. We call on Chairman Howard
Schultz and Starbucks to insist that HMSHost immediately
rescind its anti-speech legal threat.”

Starbucks-Licensee Legal Threat Letter

November 13, 2007
Via Regular Mail and E-Mail
Kenneth Miller
7125 Thomas Blvd.
Pittsburgh, PA 15208

RE: Starbucks on the Pennsylvania Turnpike and IWW’s
intention to picket and Request that Customers Boycott
Starbucks products

Dear Mr. Miller:
This is a follow up letter to one that had
previously been sent to you by Christopher Townsend
from HMSHost Corporation. Your communications to the
Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission and your letter to
HMSHost clearly set for the union’s dispute with
Starbucks Corporation and your organizational campaign
drive against Starbucks. As stated in Mr. Townsend’s
letter, and as you have also been informed by the
Turnpike Commission, Host is a tenant at the Turnpike
that has a franchise agreement with Starbucks to
operate stores on the Pennsylvania Turnpike.
Your contemplated picketing and boycott activity
of Host’s Starbucks stores on the Turnpike constitutes
illegal secondary activity and a violation of Section
8 (b) (4) (ii) (B) of the National Labor Relations
Act. The Commission has also advised the union that
its conduct and continued communications with it
asking it to boycott Starbucks products and business
from the Turnpike could support a claim for tortuous
contractual interference.
Please be advised that Host will take all
necessary action to protect its business interests and
should any picketing and boycott activity occur as
contemplated that Host will seek legal recourse to
protect its rights, including seeking the recover of
damages that will occur because of the union’s
unlawful conduct. Historically, Hosts’ stores on the
Turnpike do very well over the Thanksgiving Holiday.
Therefore, Host will seek all lost revenues and costs
associated with bringing such action from the union
because of its unlawful secondary activity.
Should you have any further questions, please
feel free to contact me directly.
Sincerely,
Mary Helen Medina
Cc: Chuck Powers
Christopher Townsend
Brian Gallant
Stephen Stokwitz

<!– –>

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File under: IWW Starbucks Workers Union News

–>


Pittsburgh Call to Organize Against the IMF/World Bank

This call was issued several days ago, but due to an awful infection in my writing hand, yinz have been spared my awful prose. My failing health will prevent me from participating in these actions, but that’s no reason for you not to. It’s a shame, as it seems like a genuine attempt to step away from the formal, defensive organizing, that passes for genuine resistance. I’m sure that the young re-enactvists who use the SDS brand name will make this as tedious as possible and take all credit for any success, so maybe it’s just as good that my health is bad?

Pittsburgh meeting of affinity groups and their delegates to organize against the World Bank/IMF: Wednesday September 5th at the Dinosaur in Oakland. (Forbes Ave, between Bigelow and Bellefield)

Attention all Pittsburgh area anarchists and radicals! Today the October Coalition, a collection of DC groups organizing against the IMF and World Bank, put out their calls for the actions happening against the meetings on the weekend of Oct 19-21. Autumn Insurrection, a Pittsburgh group of anarchists, is calling for all Pittsburgh area radicals to start forming affinity groups with their close friends and comrades. We seek to bring different affinity groups in the area together for meetings on how we can work to effectively challenge the state in October in Washington DC. We are also planning on organizing trainings and working to hook people up with transportation and housing for the weekend.

October Rebellion has put a call out for the following actions:

Friday October 19th-

12pm-2pm March and Rally at Immigration and Customs Enforcement
425 I Street

9:00pm-??? Disrupt Georgetown!
An unpermitted night march through the Georgetown neighborhood of DC, the home of some of the wealthiest and most powerful people in the country and their shopping district.

Saturday October 20th-
1Pm March on the IMF/World Bank!

We are calling for a Pittsburgh meeting of affinity groups to coordinate our plans on Wednesday September 5th at the Dinosaur in Oakland. (Same place Critical Mass meets, On Forbes Ave. between Bigelow and Bellefield, off of Schenley Drive.) 8PM.

If you have any questions, feel free to email us at AutumnInsurrection@Gmail.com

or check out the October Rebellion Coalition website at
http://www.OctoberRebellion.org

In love and rage
Autumn Insurrection

Who is Autumn Insurrection?

Autumn Insurrection is a collection of Pittsburgh Anarchists involved with numerous other projects who are organizing Pittsburghers to go to the fall meetings of the IMF and World Bank. We hope to bring as many Pittsburgh radicals to the meetings as possible in the hope that we can all work together to effectively resist the state and global capitalism in October.

Free Trade: Parts is Parts?

Human trafficking is an integral component of any free trade agreement. The boilerplate (Warning: That is a link to scary, official gov’t site, the rest are other views) from the defacto North American Union, the Security & Prosperity Partnership (SPP), is heavily laden with language about “legitimate flow of persons…

The politicians who make noise about “The Border” are pulling a fast one on the minority deluded enough to vote. The State needs to institute a legal indenturing program if for no other reason than to levy taxes against migrant workers. The US economy is propped up on the backs of undocumented workers, and “corporate persons”, the real constituency, no longer respect the make-believe lines that are so important to the flagsucking set.

As if being forced to sell labor isn’t bad enough, the poor may have to guard their vital organs, too. There is apparently a provision in the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) that if ratified, clearly states that:

human organs would be marketed just like any other product in international trade.

This could have major implications for English theme restaurants as well as transplant isnitutes.

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