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#DisruptJ20 #J20 The Days After the Election and the Days Before the Revolution

Today, many radicals are asking themselves how they could be waking up to President Trump. Our question instead is what does this mean for the Left in this country. Paralyzing myths have now been shattered, and this situation could, with a lot of work, passion, and clear thinking, lead to a strategy of action and a far greater positive change than voting for the status quo. The change we are talking about is generational and will have a far greater effect than any string of elections, no matter how repugnant they may be.

​Written by Anarchist Resistance NYC

Those that see the Greatness of America as being misogynist, nativist, anti-urban, and homogenous in race, sexuality and faith are fighting a rearguard battle against the future which they can not hope to win.

First, this election has dispelled the myth, spread during Occupy, that the primary division in this country exists between the 99% and the 1%. 

Trump’s victory proves that the conflict is deeper than what amounts to a very simplistic and inaccurate economic calculus: the 99 must surely win against the 1. Many of the so-called 99%ers came out in to support a billionaire, while the other half supported a pro-free trade, Wall Street democrat. Yes, there is absolutely a conflict between the rich and the poor, but that has never been the only division in this country. Those that see the Greatness of America as being misogynist, nativist, anti-urban, and homogeneous in race, sexuality and faith are fighting a rearguard battle against the future which they can not hope to win. This doesn’t mean that they will go away quietly and without inflicting great harm, but that is the nature of dying ideologies. What is distressing is that this desperate rhetoric has captured the imagination of many who have suffered real humiliation and pain under the neo-liberalism of the one-percent. The tragedy is that the rejection and failure of neo-liberalism has led those “left behind” to eagerly cast their lot with the equally oppressive and failed ideology of paleo-conservativism, with its xenophobia, isolationism and anti-intellectualism. This has created a desperate new political alignment that rejects the very things that can restore its adherents’ respect and livelihood. From this vantage point, American electoral politics has been nothing more than a zombie horde of defunct worldviews along with oppressive and dangerous ideologies lurching across the blue and red states. No president can overturn the demographic reality that this country will continue to urbanize, will become more and more diverse, and that the mythologized manufacturing jobs of the past will remain dead and buried. These realities are the true wheel of history – the dead will inexorably give way to the living, the past to the future – and no election can change that.

Revolution is not an event that suddenly happens, but something that is carefully prepared, built towards, and eventually implemented by those aligned with the future. All governments, whether they are liberal or conservative, will fight equally hard against threats to the State or the capitalist power structure.

The second shattered myth is that electoral politics is a valid arena for populist leftist change. 

Whether it is Syriza or Trump, Podemos or Hillary, in the end the Left must confront the oppressive powers of the State and capitalism, none of which can possibly be subverted by superficial electoral games. This is not to say there would be no difference between a Trump administration and a Bernie administration, rather it is to say that the latter would only serve to stall the inevitable confrontation. Electoral politics holds out the promise of slow-moving, incremental socio-political advancement, but real evolution only comes about with a radical change of environment, and this can only be achieved through social revolution. Revolution is not an event that suddenly happens, but something that is carefully prepared, built towards, and eventually implemented by those aligned with the future. All governments, whether they are liberal or conservative, will fight equally hard against threats to the State or the capitalist power structure. So if we are seeking a confrontation that promises a substantial and irreversible change in society, it doesn’t really matter if it is a liberal or a conservative regime in power. Liberal and conservative governments are both inherently reactionary and resistant to any kind of meaningful change, if only because their very existence is dependent on freezing the present and obscuring all possible futures. We have seen this play out recently in places like Spain, Greece, the UK, and countless other countries. It is always the same paradigm: the political structure refuses to truly change and will continue an endless cycle of lurching back and forth between liberal and conservative. This brutal and blind impulse towards self-preservation is not only found in rightist regimes. Both right and left-wing regimes have used the implements of totalitarianism – prisons, secret police, fear, war, and economic oppression – to maintain the status quo. To have a future, we must reject all the State’s apparatuses of oppression, and this includes electoral politics with its self-serving divisiveness and false promises of change and hope.

The third myth is that the government has ever been our government. 

The government is the tool of the State, it is an occupying force now, just as much as it was before. All occupying forces of the twentieth century pair an outward benevolence with a healthy dose of fear and repression. We have always understood this formula, and have been struggling against it. Trump’s victory, nevertheless, heightens the sense of urgency to pull down the mask of benevolence, and we must not squander it. The government has never been our protector, and now those caught up in the trap of “representative democracy” may finally see this as well.

Without these myths, what ways are open to us in the dark days to come? The situation has changed and will continue to change during the next four long years. It won’t be easy, in large part because currently the Left is small and lacks the maturity needed to mitigate many of the on-coming attacks on the future. Attacks on women, LGBTQ, POC, immigrants, political dissidents, and so many others, have been par for the course for too long, and the coming years will be no different. Trump’s victory has only increased the number of bullies and people who are fearful. We need to pluck up our courage, ready or not, and do what we can to stand up to the bullies. We need not only audacity, but imagination. Our theater of action must move beyond the co-optable symbolic opposition to the lived reality of everyday struggles against oppression. Our actions need to be bold like the Greek anarchists who squatted a hotel to house refugees or the German Leftists who physically shut down and re-purposed a neo-fascist radio station. We need to take up space in Trump’s America and support others to speak, move, and love in their own neighborhoods without fear. We need to continue to expose the systemic brutality against those racially targeted by the police.

While the Trumpists spew their fevered conspiracy theories we will double down on reality. Yes, we will get bashed, we will lose some fights, but there is too much at stake to stay on the sidelines waiting “for next time.” There is no cavalry coming, no courts, no congressional gridlock, no petitions, no media; now it is clear the only recourse is action from the ground up. This is the time when we must ask ourselves: do we really stand with those being bullied even when to do so may cost us our own safety? Is it worth it to stand side by side with the targeted, the scared, and the disheartened, knowing there will be risks? This time we cannot delude ourselves – thanks to Trump these risks are greater but so also are the rewards. We can cower in the corner, or we can stand up and make new comrades with whom we will grow our resistance. We must become ungovernable to the occupation and unwavering in our support of those that feel targeted. This is how resistance is born and how it achieves victory.

The liberals promised to protect everyone with nothing but a ballot, and now they have been routed and are publicly conceding on all fronts. They are asking us to passively accept whatever injustices Trump has planned for us, for our neighbors, for our friends, for our co-workers, and for those comrades we have not yet met. We have never believed in hiding who we are or being ashamed of our liberatory aspirations. We know the power of solidarity. We have relied on it for generations and we know it is a stronger, more honest way to protect ourselves and ensure our future. The time has come to stand up for ourselves and what we fight for, to defend the communities that the liberals have abandoned to fend for themselves while cynically asking them to return to the fold in four years’ time. Four years is too long to hide in fear or to look the other way. Let us not be afraid, let us not offer concessions, for we know our work has begun and the future is coming.

Let us not be afraid, let us not offer concessions, for we know our work has begun and the future is coming.

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#Anarchy In #Portland: January #DisruptJ20 #J20

Portland has seen an explosion of anarchist and anarchist related events as of recent. In a city where the anarchist scene has been fractured and split after a wave of harsh repression almost 5 years ago, a resurgence in the wake of trump’s election was unexpected. The media since the “Thursday Riot,” as people have called it, has hounded anarchist. Continuing the narrative put into place by local police departments everywhere, anarchist have been branded as mere criminals and fanatics, entrenching themselves within the good and decent peaceful protesters. A narrative we have seen countless times after eruptions of tension have resulted in liberatory street actions. Oddly enough, the opposite effect has happened however. Interest in anarchism in Portland has surged.

Originally published by Anarchist News

1. Portland Anarchist General Assembly

The first event which is taking place on January 14th is the Anarchist General Assembly. A continuence of a tradition long past, the anarchist general assembly aims to bring anarchist in this town back together to meet, talk, and continue ever more waving the black flag with pride. The event has been sponsored as an event “for anarchist, by anarchist.” At this first assembly they will be talking about January 20th and what kind of presence anarchist should have, as well as the future of the general assembly and how to proceed. The event advertises that anyone is welcome, but those who preach authoritarian or capitalist ideologies and groups will be asked to leave and are asked to respect the space as an ANARCHIST general assembly.

January 14th

6pm- 9pm

Social Justice Action Center (400 SE 12th Avenue, Portland Oregon, 97214

2. Anarchist Contingent At Rise Up And Resist Fascism Rally And March

A call has been put forward for anarchist to gather and form a contingent/black bloc at the major march taking place on January 20th. The event calls for anarchist all over town to show up and make a presence with flags banners and angry faces.

January 20th, Friday

3:30pm

Pioneer Courthouse Square, SW 6th And yamhill

3. Anarchist Reading Group: Listen, Marxist!

Recently a new reading group has started, in a partnership between Portland Anarchist Black Cross and Anarres Infoshop And Community Center. This is the second event for this reading group, the last one attracted 30-40 people who all discussed the zine Revolutionary Solidarity: A Critical Reader For Accompolices. Discussion went fantastic for a reading group composed of individuals all over the spectrum of the left (and beyond). This second event will be discussing the essay “Listen marxist!” by Murry Bookchin.

January 25th, Wednesday

7pm-10pm

Anarres Infoshop (7101 N Lombard St. Portland Oregon, 97203

4. Portland Assembly

Lastly for the month we wrap things up with the Portland Assembly. In December, the assembly brought well over 300 people and over 20 different organizations who all participated in “incubation stations” that set the groundwork for community horizontal spokes councils. These ranged from Anti-racism to environmental impact, and every issue inbetween. This specific Portland Assembly meeting aims to bring in even more people and organizations, as well as having the very first spokes council meeting. The Portland assembly aims to bring together everyone resisting the establishment, to work together through the means of Libertarian municipalism. Portland Assembly is taking the political foundations forming within Rojava and attempting to apply them to a much more urban setting. While not explicitly anarchist, it is pretty much an anarchist event as it was a majority anarchist that made such happen. The Anarchist general assembly will also be an official spokes within the council, so they are encouraging all anarchist to come out and be apart of such.

If January is any indication, 2017 might just be the year for anarchy. With such a wide power vacuum open, anarchist must stop anyone from filling it and letting individuals choose their own liberation, and encouraging such. The liberals have failed, the progressives have failed. All that is left to win is either the fascist creep, or the black flag of anarchy. There have been prominent times in america before, so lets not dissapoint those who came before us!

For anarchy!

Note: Enough is Enough is not organizing any of these events, we are merely listing them for people across the US and Europe to be able to see what is going on.

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#NoBorders #RefugeesGR Mikel and Bego Released

A Greek court ordered the conditional release of two refugees welcome activists on Friday. As we reported they were arrested in the Greek port of Igoumenitsa at December 28. According to Greek police they were arrested when they allegedly helped 8 refugees to cross the border.

Mikel Zuloaga,61, and Begona Huarte, 59, were released on bail of 2000 Euros each pending a trial whose date not been set.

In many Greek and Spanish cities people protested for the release of both activists of the Basque group Ongi Etorri Errefuxiatuak (Refugees Welcome) yesterday. More than 13.000 people signed a petition, demanding the release of Mikel and Bego.

According to Greek police Mikel and Bego had been driving a camper van where border police found eight hidden youths from Pakistan, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and Iran. 

Both activists did not take any money of the refugees. In a video Mikel and Bego said they wanted to make a political statement of civil disobedience to the barbaric policies of European governments who have raised borders of death to refugees. So far more than 5000 refugees drowned at EU borders in 2016.


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The Distinct Radicalism of #Anarchism

Anarchists tend to pose our core differences with marxists in terms of degrees of radicalism or rootedness. One of the classic ways this gets stated is that marxism deals with the political whereas we deal with the ethical.

These terms to the disagreement, once posed, are almost always immediately acknowledged and indeed embraced by both marxists and anarchists.

freedom-anarchism

Continue reading The Distinct Radicalism of #Anarchism

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#DisruptJ20 #J20 #Trump’s First Hundred Days and the Fascist Agenda

by Alexander Reid Ross for “Strangers In A Tangled Wilderness

First, the future

Fascists in the US today can agree on little more than the desire for a white ethnostate. Despite conjecture on Trump’s deep interests and desires, few indicators suggest that he would effect such a drastic transformation as that. However, it is the question of process that matters most.

There is truth to journalist Arun Gupta’s insistence that Trump’s program would lead to ethnic cleansing, which is why fascists have taken such a shine to him and why the ACLU has declared that they will “see him in court.” Trump has announced his plan to immediately deport as many as three million migrants from the US, and alt-right founder Richard Spencer, who has already associated Trump’s platform with “peaceful ethnic cleansing,” has called Trump’s presidency a “first step” toward a white ethnostate.

If one reviews the plans that Trump hopes to implement on his first hundred days in office, the glaring omissions may be the most important. First among these is the rights of women to their bodies — both in terms of reproductive rights and protection from sexual assault and harassment in the workplace, on city streets, and in relationships.

What stands out here is the cultural factor — the process through which the behaviors and attitudes of the ruling elite send signals to the public regarding what is acceptable — as well as the political factors tacit within legal rights to abortion and to protection from harassment and assault in the workplace. Reproductive control over women is seen by “race realists” as one of the primary ways of ensuring “racial purity,” but under a Trump/Pence agenda this would take place implicitly.

Among the members of Trump’s team who will have a say in the structuring of social dynamics is Peter Thiel, the top financier of the so-called neo-reaction, which mixes the elitism of fascists like Julius Evola and conservatives like Robert Carlyle with a kind of futurist, techno-fetishism assembled around the notion of right wing transhumanism. Thiel has shelled out for neo-reactionary Curtis Yarvin, who insists on a “neo-cameral” governmental system that would set up a CEO of the US, as well as Michael Anissimov, who once twitter harassed a female journalist, saying, among other things, “I just want to cut someone’s face and see their blood running down it and their crying in the meanwhile, LOL.”

Twitter harassment has been a mainstay of the neo-reaction, including GamerGate and the Sad Puppies movement that accompanied the SciFi Hugo Awards. Other neo-reactionaries, whose sadistic, dystopian elitism is deeply intertwined with white nationalism, include the video blogger RamZPaul, who appears regularly at “race realist” conference American Renaissance. This link with Trump should come as no surprise, given his attachment to Breitbart, which serves as a mainstream haven for white nationalism and neo-reaction.

Trumpism: Linking futurism to regression

Given this foundation in white nationalist futurism, there should be no surprise that Trump seeks to shred any small climate progress undertaken by previous administrations. Just as Trump once insisted he would turn the Republican Party into a workers’ party, workers are identified as the primary stakeholders in a new, aggressive economic drive to deregulate the energy industry. “I will lift the restrictions on the production of $50 trillion dollars’ worth of job-producing American energy reserves, including shale, oil, natural gas and clean coal,” he insists, adding that he will “cancel billions in payments to U.N. climate change programs and use the money to fix America’s water and environmental infrastructure.”

Interestingly, Trump claims to fix environmental infrastructure while insisting on defunding UN climate research and programs wrought from the global Conference of Parties (COP) process that has accumulated more than twenty years of arduous negotiations. This fantastical notion that the environment can be delinked from the climate and “fixed” without regulating industry forms a clever ideological fulcrum to convince people who want to balance the economy with ecology. However, without formulating any visionary economic policies, simply ceding the environment to the corporations takes the US back to the so-called “Reagan revolution,” which fully embraced the reactionary gaggle of ranchers, loggers, and miners who fomented the “Sagebrush rebellion” of the late 70s and early 80s.

It is of consequence that the same far right elements have accrued around Trump’s candidacy. The implications are that Trump’s environmental agenda will reset the Republican agenda of “drill baby drill” and return to the early Reagan Administration’s Department of the Interior under James Watts, noted for stating, “If the troubles from environmentalists cannot be solved in the jury box or at the ballot box, perhaps the cartridge box should be used.” In this way, like Reagan, Trump has fused futurist white nationalism with the atavistic illusion of traditional Americanism — ranchers on the old West, patriots, pioneersmen, and frontiersmen guided from the New York penthouse.

This kind of vast expansion of the extractive industries would only be possible through a sweeping transferof public lands to private ownership — a demand that has just found its way to the Republican Party platform along with anti-GLBTQI language that GLAAD says makes it “the most hateful Republican Party platform in history.” Aside from giving the green light to the Keystone XL and Dakota Access Pipeline, Trump’s Republican Party that now holds the majority in Congress and the Senate hope to oversee one of the largest land grabs in US history — the effective elimination of the national forest system, wilderness areas, national monuments, wildlife refuges, and national parks. Obama was not an environmental president by any means; in fact, 2015 topped recordsfor oil production in the US. However, Trump will only deepen the movement toward resource extraction and the devastation of what makes this place on Earth great.

Much of this direction hews to the Christian Reconstructionist philosophy that Mike Pence brings to the table. An incredibly powerful religious movement, Christian Reconstructionism asserts the divine mission of spreading Christianity over all corners of the world — and not just any Christianity. Theirs is an anti-GLBTQIA agenda that rejects women’s rights in favor of white, patriarchal rule over property and independent from virtually all regulation. Without the support of this movement, Trump’s own dissolute and atrocious behavior toward women and families would have ruled him out of the running.

It is this alliance, however, between neo-reaction and Christian Reconstructionism that marks arguably one of the weakest links in Trump’s populist alignment, and renders it a complex, radical right formation as opposed to an outright, hardline fascist movement. This is not to say that Reconstructionism is not friendly to fascists, or downright white nationalist — for instance, Trump’s domestic policy advisor for his transition team is a fellow at the anti-LGBQTIA hate group Family Research Council, whose Reconstructionist president Tony Perkins paid neo-Nazi David Duke $82,000 for a list of supporters to make robocalls on behalf of Woody Jenkins’s failed senatorial bid, and, about a decade later in 2002, provided the keynote speech for a white nationalist Council of Conservative Citizens fundraiser. However, it is difficult to see what kind of macabre chimera this coalition will form between the gay futurist, Peter Thiel, and the anti-gay Reconstructionists.

Steps toward fascist states

Deepening the populist rhetoric that marks his climate policy, Trump declares that he will immediately deport millions of undocumented migrants from the US, although the number he provides for the first push is a fraction of the 11 million he has presented overall. If he deploys civilian militias to help engage in this work, he is still not too far from Bush, Jr., or even Obama, who deported more immigrants than any other president in US history. Neither of those two worked to suppress the powerful border militias in the late 2000s, some of which were rather openly fascist in ideological disposition. However, what stands out in the numbers is that, while Obama deported more than 2.5 million migrants between 2009 and 2016, Trump states that he will deport as many “immediately.” His campaign used the number 11 million, which comes right out of the white nationalist movement.

From there, he plans to reform “visa rules to enhance penalties for overstaying and to ensure open jobs are offered to American workers first.” The opening part about enhanced penalties would obviously mean a life preserver for the prison industry, which faces challenges from abolitionists, the decriminalization of marijuana, the recognition of its social failures, and an institutional rejection of private prisons. Undocumented people caught re-entering the US will face a stiff prison term, entering a spiral of criminality that broadens as attempts build up. Furthermore, Muslims will be subjected to “extreme vetting,” a chilling phrase for all its lack of specificity.

The “Americans First” line and its references to a pro-Nazi anti-interventionist group in the inter-war period should not be overlooked. To help implement his plan for controlling migration, Trump has brought the architect of SB 1070, Kris Kolbach, onto his transition team. A veteran of anti-immigration network set up by white nationalist John Tanton, Kolbach helped create SB 1070 with the help of the American Legislate Exchange Council (ALEC). SB 1070 was then sponsored by the President of the Arizona State Senate, Russell Pearce, who once sent his supporters an article by the neo-Nazi group National Vanguard and endorsed neo-Nazi border militia leader JT Ready for public office.

By declaring that Mexico will pay for an incredibly expensive, large wall across the US-Mexico border, Trump provokes anger that he can use later as an excuse to deploy military or police operations across the border — perhaps something like an invasion. Although it would appear that an invasion would not be likely, this again would not be completely unprecedented, given the history of “Rough Riders” and the Roosevelt corollary to the Monroe Doctrine establishing intervention in Central and South America in the event of debt default, as well as more recent Drug War-related interventions into the politics of Central America — particularly, the invasion of Panamaunder Bush, Sr.

Given Trump’s trade agenda, such an open form of imperialism would act as a kind of foreign policy replacement for neoliberalism. His promise to reign in corporations by drawing factories back into the US and to lower the business tax for everyday Americans speak to the values of “the little people,” the middle class or petite-bourgeoisie. Trump’s further scapegoating of China as a “currency manipulator” will exacerbate the ongoing tensions in the South China Sea, and likely increase the militarization of Japan, while also increasing racist persecution of Asians in the US.

The aggression toward China is accompanied by the favoring of Putin, an alliance that would marginalize other global powers — not least of which being the European Union and perhaps even NATO — and challenge the US’s pretensions to unilateral global superiority. Instead, Trump would play into deeply-rooted fantasies of what Russian fascist Alexandr Dugin calls “a multipolar world” of apartheid-style ethnostates from Portugal to Berlin to Moscow and down to the Indian Ocean. It also exploits long-standing racist attitudes toward Asians in general in the United States, which are shared across the Atlantic in Europe by populist radical right Eurosceptic parties linked by Moscow’s supportand a Duginist network that will surely feel a boost as the Trump wave’s demonstration effect washes ashore.

Trump has already begun reaching out to radical right populist parties in Europe — even before reaching out to their respective heads of state. The Islamophobic sentiment that Trump rode into power could easily give itself to a rising wave of anti-Semitism, as represented by the alt-right — particularly if the populist radical right sweeps away the left and center in the next round of elections. That Trump has indicated that he will continue the mass rallieswhile in office suggests the ominous potential for collective, mass violence and an ongoing personality cult.

Thwarting the ethnostate

What carries over most of all in Trump’s populism is his determination to “drain the swamp” of Washington, DC. Imposing term limits on Congress and diminishing the federal payroll through attrition speak to longstanding populist complaints with federal corruption and over-spending. We can likely rule term limits out, since the Senate and House will both be controlled by politicians who enjoy term limits very much. However, the “draining of the swamp” can be tied to slashing progressive budget initiatives supported by Democrats, while the attrition of the federal workforce gives people with the ability to fire their subordinates the ability to create a controlled, tradition atmosphere that rapidly shunters into obsolescence.

As the data shows, the cross-class mobilization of interests that Trump galvanized was not particularly impressive, falling behind Romney and McCain in votes gained. Just over a quarter of eligible US citizens voted for Trump. However, the radical rejection of the “DC establishment” pulled the Democrats under water, as Hillary’s constituency bailed on her at the ballot box. The press’s rejection of Bernie Sanders in favor of Clinton during the primaries rendered her most valuable media partners moot in those northern states still fuming over the suppression of their favorite blue-collar candidate. “We just saw massive shifts in the industrial midwest from ’12 to ’16, and those are the same voters,” said David Wasserman of the Cook Political Report. Now that Democrats like Elizabeth Warren and AFL-CIO are singing the tune of reconciliation, the press seems subdued as Trump ushers futurist white nationalists and regressive Christian Reconstructionists into the White House.

The question of fascism that has lingered for so long amid this election becomes more important in the long run. More than one-third of Trump’s supporters follow open white nationalists on Twitter, who are among the most outspoken advocates of Trump’s policies; meanwhile, his past relations with Roy Cohn, Roger Stone, and other grey eminences point to a creeping fascism under the populist generalism. His team would involve other white nationalists like Kobach, assuring that the deportations would lead closer to a white ethnostate, the rejection of a woman’s right to make decisions that immediately effect her own body and physical wellbeing would fall under patriarchal control, and this is to say nothing of what he will do to labor organizing — just remember what the AFL-CIO was saying a few months ago.

In August 25, 2015, I wrote an article called “Trump the Fascist,” in which I stated that Trump’s trajectory “lands quite clearly in the tradition of ultra-nationalism known as ‘Americanism.’” With his palingenetic overtures to the rebirth of an old, dying America, Trump has certainly activated the mythical core of the fascist imaginary, which is being enacted throughout the US in the form of a spate of recent hate crimes that may carry on through the weekend. Although Trump’s agenda is a mixed bag between what one can precisely describe as fascist or white nationalist and the populist radical right, it is this trajectory that truly matters, which is why his policies and the white nationalism that he encourages must be directly confronted and opposed. People of conscience with any faith in liberty and justice must openly resist the decline into racist hatred and violence, effectively halting the momentum of the Trump wave by making our cities and towns safe for all people.

Alexander Reid Ross is a lecturer at Portland State University. His latest book, Against the Fascist Creep (AK Press), is forthcoming.

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#Athens, #Greece: Attack against an OPKE unit in #Exarchia

On Tuesday , December 6 of 2016 , 8 years after the murder of the anti-authoritarian Alexandros Grigoropoulos by the cops; anarchists, anti-authoritarians, neighbors and people who hang around Exarcheia decided to break the normality of the miserable life imposed by the social standards and resist the state repression. Every year, that day the neighborhood of Exarcheia is surrounded by cops trying to stop the vengeful rage of those who take the streets fighting.

Originally published  by Traces of Fire

But this time, the resistance of the rioters was more organized and coordinated than ever, following the response against the state in the clashes of November 15 and 17. The anti-state offensive was fierce, and that was proved because – despite the murderous firing of rubber bullets and tear gas directly into the bodies – The uniformed fascists only managed to pass the burning barricades late at night, and after most of the people, especially the organized ones had already left the place.

This victory of ours hurt the servants of the state, who projected all their psycological complexes beating the arrested people of that night. Their cowardly violence and the attempt of the Greek bullies to humilliate the arrested comrades is the proof of their bitter defeat.
Also the filthy judges plays their part on the repression of the insurgents when acting in the name of all the state authorities send three of the arrested to pre-trial imprisonement.
The surrounding of Exarcheia was already intensified before 6 December, with the characteristic example of the invasion of motorcicle police forces and the control of migrants. It was like that until the 6/12, particularly with the presence of special forces of OPKE in the area.

We answer the murderers of kids with the same thing that they learn to taste all this year: fire.
In the evening of Friday , December 16, we chose to attack the bullies of the Greek police located at the intersection of Kallidromiou street and Oikonomou street, supposedly to protect the supermarket. For those who knows the area of Exarcheia, is obvious that the deployment of OPKE units in that place serves other purposes and is framed in a broader plan that seeks to control the neigborhood.

The tasks of this unit (OPKE) in the past years at the city outskirts and especially in the west zone of Athens had as its only objective the military-style ID control of youngsters, outcasts and migrants. The ridiculous reasons that they use to impose their reign of terror in Exarcheia will be answered with gasoline and fire over their heads. The armed cops of OPKE showed their huge skills when they began to run away in panic and hide behind a car in sight of the 15 molotovs flying against them.

The clashes and the diffusion of insurrectionary situations must be a daily practice. Let December 6 light up the metropolis every night, until freedom and anarchy.

FIRE AND EXPLOSIONS AT THE MINDS OF THE COPS
FREEDOM TO THE 3 ARRESTED OF 6/12 WHO ARE ON PRE-TRIAL IMPRISONMENT.

Anarchists (the ones who attacked there, in that way)

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The Vision of Revolutionary #Anarchism

Under the title, “The Two Main Trends in Anarchism,” a selection of my writings has been published in Greek. ΟΙ ΔΥΟ ΚΥΡΙΕΣ ΤΑΣΕΙΣ ΤΟΥ ΑΝΑΡΧΙΣΜΟΥ. The writings are taken from Anarkismo, except for the following, which was written originally for the new book. It focuses on the centrality of a vision of freedom, cooperation, and happiness in the program of anarchist-socialism.

Originally published by Anarkismo

There are many approaches to anarchism, but for me the central issue is the vision of an anti-authoritarian, stateless, classless, oppression-less, society. It is the vision of a world based on cooperation, participatory democracy, production for use rather than profit, free and equal association in all areas of life, and ecological balance with the natural world. It would involve networks and federations of self-managed workplaces, industries, communities, neighborhoods, and (so long as they are still needed) militia units (the armed people). These would be managed by direct, face-to-face, democracy—the self-organization of the people. To achieve this, people would organize under the principle of as much democratic decentralization as is practically possible and only as much centralization as is minimally necessary. 

This does not mean the end of all social coordination or social defense, but the end of the state. The state is a bureaucratic-military-capitalist socially-alienated machine which is standing above the rest of society. There would be no more masses of professional police, military, politicians, judges, lobbyists, spies, prison guards, and bureaucrats, nor any of the capitalist businesses and semi-monopolies which support and are supported by the state. These are the principles and values of my vision of anarchism. They are consistent with the broad mainstream of the anarchist movement. 

They are also consistent with the visions once held by millions of a past Edenic Golden Age, or of a future Messianic End Times when all oppression and sorrow will be gone and people will be free and equal. These myths fit the prehistorical truth that humans lived for tens of thousands of years in small, sell-governing, hunter-gatherer groups and agricultural villages, mostly cooperative and equal, without states, or classes, or markets. In a real sense the anarchist vision is of a spiral return to such a society, at a higher level of production—with guarantees of plenty for all and of sufficient leisure, in balance with the ecology. 

As a vision, this is different from that of liberal capitalist democracy. Liberals and social democrats just want to expand the “good” parts of capitalist democracy while decreasing the “bad” parts. Gradually, a better world will supposedly come into existence. The liberals do not recognize that capitalism has its own limits. In particular, while most of today’s capitalist states claim to be “democratic,” the rulers make no such claim for their economy. The rationalization for the economic system is that it has a “free market.” Any attempt to “extend democracy” to the capitalist economy would mean taking away the wealth and power of those who own the corporations and business enterprises, large and small. It would mean giving the wealth and power to those who work for those capitalists and work in those enterprises. It would give wealth and power to those who buy the companies’ goods, consume their products, and pay taxes that subsidize their profits. To the corporate rich—the whole ruling class—this would seem like a terrible violation of all that was right and proper, the end of civilization, and a totalitarian attack on (their) freedom. 

The capitalists and their agents and supporters would resist any such change—no matter how peaceful, gradual, and popular—tooth and claw, to the last drop of blood (theirs and the people’s). Their democratic (bourgeois-democratic, that is) state would turn out to be not so democratic after all, as they would use it to crush popular resistance (or they would replace it with a more authoritarian state to do the job).

Reforms and improvements for the people have been won and may yet still be won (and should be fought for)—especially in periods of relative prosperity and stability. But when things get bad and the economy goes downhill, the boss class will pull back its benefits, shut down its cooperation with the popular classes, and resist giving any more reforms. This is happening right now. Then the chances for expanding the democratic-liberal aspects of modern capitalism into a better society become virtually nil—without a revolution.

The anarchist vision both overlaps with and contradicts the Marxist tradition. In the mid-1800s, both anarchism and Marxism developed out of movements for democracy, socialism, and workers’ rights. Marxism, like anarchism, had a vision of a cooperative, democratic, society without classes or a state, ecologically balanced—won through the self-emancipation of the modern working class and its allies. Marx and Engels wrote very little about what communism might be like. Their comments are scattered throughout their works. But of what little they wrote, their goal was very close to that of anarchism. 

Following in the footsteps of the early “utopian socialists” (Owen, Fourier, Cabet, etc.), both the original Marxists and the anarchists foresaw the end of the division of labor as developed under capitalism. In particular they rejected the division between order-givers and order-takers, between mental labor and manual labor. They saw the reorganization of technology and production in such a way as to expand the all-around potentialities of humans. They expected the end of the division between cities and countryside, between industry and agriculture. There would be a new ecological balance. 

Having a vision of a libertarian, humanistic, communist society is not the same as having a blueprint of how such a society might work. The early “utopians” wrote detailed accounts of their visions. Marx predicted that a post-capitalist society would go through specific stages. It would first pay workers with labor-notes and later provide full communism (“From each according to their ability to each according to their needs.”) Anarchists, such as Kropotkin, were more likely to use detailed accounts not as blueprints but as heuristic examples of how their principles might be put into practice; for example, going directly to full communism. After Kropotkin, Errico Malatesta argued for an experimental and pluralistic approach to anarchism. He expected different communities, regions, nations, etc., to try out different ways of organizing non-capitalist, radically-democratic, societies, so long as there was no further exploitation. 

Between Marx and the anarchists there were some important differences. Marx saw the state of capitalism as being replaced, not by a free federation, but by a new state of the working class and its allies. This workers’ state would be transitional, evolving into a non-coercive but still highly centralized “public authority.” And, while he was for a very democratic form of representative democracy, Marx and Engels did not at all see the need for decentralized, face-to-face, communal democracies at the root of a new society. 

And they did not see a role for a moral vision of a new society. To Marx and Engels it was the material historical process which led to the ends of socialism and communism. They specifically rejected relying on the vision of the workers. The workers would fight for socialism because the workers would fight for socialism. The dialectical dynamics of capitalism would develop its internal contradictions. It would build giant capitalist enterprises with huge concentrations of workers and would heat up the class struggle between the workers and bosses. As a result, the workers would automatically develop class consciousness and self-organization, leading to the overthrow of capitalism. At no time, in their vast body of work, did Marx or Engels write that the workers and others should fight for socialism because it was right to do so, because socialism was good. (Undoubtedly, Marx and Engels were personally motivated by moral passions, but it was not part of their theoretical system.)

Although I am an anarchist, I agree that there are certain dynamics of capitalism, accurately analyzed by Marx, which push in the direction of socialism. These include the growth of industrial capitalism, the periodic and longterm crises of capitalism, and the development by capitalism of the international working class. But there are also countertrends, some of which were also discussed by Marx. There are certain stabilizing mechanisms within capitalism which can overcome short-term crises (at least for a while). Also, better-off workers are usually satisfied with the status quo. Worse-off workers may be beaten-down and demoralized. Whether and when these or other layers of the working class will rebel against capitalism cannot be known for sure. Socialist revolution is not “inevitable.”

The historical struggle for a better society is not something which happens to people—through historical processes external to them. It is something which people do—as they react to historical circumstances. Class conflict is not a mechanical clash of forces, but a conflict of wills. Socialism is not an inevitability; it is a possibility, which will happen only if enough people chose to make it happen. 

Marxism went from a vision very close to anarchism to become a rationalization for totalitarian, mass-murdering, state capitalism—until the “Communist” states collapsed back into traditional capitalism. I have just touched on some of its essential weaknesses which contributed to this result (while interacting with objective pressures): its centralism, its “transitional” state, and its non-moral determinism. 

I reject the moralistic method of starting from a set of values (which a good society should have) to work out a plan for what a good society should be. This was the classical method of the “utopians,” as well as the authors of “Parecon” (participatory economics) today. I also reject the mechanical conception of capitalism grinding out a new society, with a visionary consciousness playing little or no role. Such a view was dominant in Marxism (and, to an extent, in the work of the great anarchist Kropotkin). The split between these two views is based on a positivist split between values and facts. I do not accept this dichotomy. The struggle for a libertarian socialism, for anarchism, is both moral and based on social forces. 

The Vision Could be Made Real


The vision of a free, democratic, and cooperative society is, then, rooted in the ancient visions of humanity. It is the culmination of the values raised by the greatest teachers, philosophers, and religious leaders. It extends the democratic rights proposed in the great bourgeois-democratic revolutions (the U.S. revolution, the French revolution, etc.) and expressed in the early programs of “utopian” socialism. Now these goals are able to be realized. In past revolutions, the people overthrew their old masters, but then most people had to go back to work if they were not all to starve. Only a few could be free to pursue science and mathematics, social coordination, managing waterworks, etc. Unlike pre-historical hunter-gatherer societies, there was just enough to support this non-producing elite (and its enforcers)—but there was never enough to provide plenty for all. 

Now humans have the technology and productivity so that hard but necessary labor can be reduced to a minimum and shared by everyone. It is possible for most work to become an integration between creative, pleasurable, activities and useful labor, as crafts have sometimes been. Socialist communities can decide where to use automation, where to use small power machines, and where to work by hand. Contrary to its present development by centralized corporations and military states, industrial technology can be reorganized to support self-governing communities and industries. With modern means of communication, decentralized groupings could be coordinated from below. There can be enough leisure for everyone to go to meetings to make collective decisions, without taking up all their free time. People will be able to chose their life styles and activities; they will be able to decide themselves how to express their genders and sexualities.    

However, because socialist revolution has been so delayed, this powerful technology also poses terrible threats. It is under a social system which developed in scarcity, which divided social wealth among competing capitalist firms, and divided the world among war-waging national states. It exists in a capitalist system which is driven to expand, to grow quantitatively, to accumulate ever more capital regardless of social or ecological costs. 

The dangerous misuse of modern technology is clearest in the case of nuclear bombs. So far, the capitalist states have avoided nuclear wars. The rulers have feared the results, with good reason. Even a “small” nuclear war (or even a one-sided attack) not only creates local effects through huge blasts, but would throw into the atmosphere radioactive dust and debris, which would effect the whole world. It could cause a “nuclear winter,” blocking out sunlight for years over the whole earth, possibly destroying civilization or even all humanity (and other species). 

This has not yet happened, even during the Cold War. But non-nuclear wars are continuing across the world, while atomic bombs still exist, they are spread more widely, and they are being updated. The world capitalist class cannot bring itself to get rid of them. It would only take one nuclear exchange, once, to possibly wipe us out. These states and this ruling class need to be disarmed by the working people of the world.

At the same time, the capitalist misuse of technology is causing ecological catastrophes. These include the loss of species, the pollution of the land, air, water, and food, and worst of all, global warming. In the here-and-now this causes extreme weather, of storms, floods, droughts, and fires. It is tending towards heat levels which humans and other organisms have never experienced as a steady condition. Whether our civilization can survive is an open question. 

The problem is that capitalism needs to grow and accumulate, or it collapses. But the ecological world has the exact opposite need. It requires a steady, balanced, system not geared to growth—or at least not quantitative growth of expanded production; qualitative improvements and increased complexity are another matter. This is a deep contradiction. Our industrial civilization is built on the increasing use of fossil fuels—which are limited and nonrenewable, polluting, and cause global heating. Neither the oil companies nor the capitalist class as a whole will willingly end this grow-or-die system. 

After World War II, the theorists of capitalism claimed that they had solved capitalism’s contradictions. There was to be eternal prosperity (at least in the industrialized—imperial—nations), with tamed business (boom-and-bust) cycles. They would do this through moderate government intervention in the economy (financial stimuli, tax and money manipulations). In fact the post-war prosperity lasted for almost thirty years.

Yet the deep crisis of capitalism during the Great Depression was only temporarily overcome. That required massive defeats of the world working class, the rise of Nazism and fascism, the rise of Stalinism, and the Second World War. This was followed by the reorganization of world imperialism (so that the U.S.A. became the main power), expanded military spending (on nuclear arms), the growth of world-spanning semi-monopolies, and the use of “cheap” oil and other natural resources (without paying for their eventual replacement). These forces provided for a new prosperity which lasted until the early 70s, when they ran out of steam. 

Profits come from surplus value, which is nothing but the unpaid labor of the workers. (So says Marx, and I agree.) The very expansion of capitalist production means that there are ever more machines and raw materials being used, so that the labor force becomes a smaller proportion of what the capitalists pay for production (that is, while the number of workers may even expand, they are relatively fewer as compared to the even greater expansion of the non-human costs of production). This causes a relative drop in the amount of labor which may be used to make the produced commodities (and which determines their exchange value). Therefore there is a relatively smaller amount of unpaid (surplus) labor screwed out of the workers. The rate of profit declines for the overall set of capitalists. There are a range of counteracting forces which limit this fall in the rate of profit, described by Marx. But there continues to be a long-term tendency toward the fall of the profit rate. 

This basic tendency has reached its long-term expression since about 1900, the beginning of what has been called “the epoch of capitalist decline.” Since about 1970, it has reasserted itself against the apparent post-war prosperity. A major symptom (and, in turn, a contributing cause) has been the expansion of giant corporations: monopolies, semi-monopolies, and oligopolies. Another symptom is the lack of funds to deal with the global warming crisis. Overall, there has been stagnation, under- and un-employment, pools of poverty even in rich countries, expanded inequality, uneven development of the poor nations, increased wars and international conflicts, the growth of financialization (investment in money and paper, rather than in real production), and attacks by the capitalists on the unions and on the working class’ standard of living. The evidence is that the overall economy will continue to decline, with moderate ups and downs, with further, and probably worse, crashes in the future—perhaps a depression worse than in the ‘thirties.

These predictions of capitalist decline are not based on some absolute knowledge, rooted in reading Marx’s Capital, or other sources. It is just the best evaluation of probable reality which I and others have been able to make.

Along with these looming catastrophes—nuclear war, global warming, economic crashes—are other evils of this system. Capitalism supports—and is supported by—a network of oppressions, including racism, sexism, heterosexism, national oppression, religious bigotry, and so on and on. It continues to be an ugly civilization, crushing the spirit and distorting human potentialities, causing suffering and sorrow in all sorts of ways.

The Alternative

So the vision of new world is possible. It is also necessary, if we chose to avoid military, ecological, and economic catastrophes, not to mention the continuing suffering caused by capitalism as it is. This is what Rosa Luxemburg meant by saying that the alternatives are “socialism or barbarism,” summarizing statements by Marx and Engels. It is why Murray Bookchin, focusing on the ecological situation, upgraded this to “anarchism or annihilation.” 

This does not make socialism (anarchism, libertarian communism) inevitable. On the contrary, it means that capitalism has a dynamic which leads to greater and worse crises and catastrophes. As an economic system it is deeply flawed and irrational. It is highly unlikely (I will not say “impossible”) that it can pull out of its current extended crash-landing and return to a period of stability and relative prosperity. The last time it did this, from the late 1940s to 1970—1975, it was at the cost of a Great Depression, a World War, post-war spending on nuclear arms, and the vast use of fossil fuels. To revive itself, even for a time, would require something similar. It seems unlikely that the system could survive either another world war or a deepened misappropriation of the natural world. 

But the people of the world—the working class and its allies among the oppressed—could choose to replace capitalism with libertarian socialism. That is, to make a revolution. While, to repeat, there are forces leading in that direction, this is ultimately a moral choice, made by mass movements of millions of oppressed and exploited humans. The evils of capitalism and its states and oppressive institutions can be rejected and the long-held visions of a new and better world can be created. This does not depend on mechanical historical processes but on moral choice and commitment.

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#Rojava Revolution – A look at Co-operatives & Assemblies 

As they have driven ISIS back in northern Syria / Rojava the Kurdish YPG and their allies in the SDF have won increasing visibility in western media. While such reports often mention the key role in this fight played by women in the YPJ, there is otherwise little examination of the revolution happening behind the front lines in Rojava. That revolution is why they stood and fought ISIS rather than fleeing. This can be true of a lot of alternative media coverage. In part this is due to the limited amount of information on what this revolution involves. but it’s also in part because photographs of women with guns are judged to be more striking than women workers in a co-operative bakery or a community assembly.

Originally published by Anarchist Writers

We’ve tried to address this imbalance somewhat, both in our coverage and through bringing a number of Kurdish and other speakers over to talk at the Dublin Anarchist Bookfair. They spoke about what is happening behind the front lines. What is it that is being constructed that so many have judged is worth going to the front lines to defend against ISIS? Our speakers this year included Erjan Ayboga author of ‘Revolution in Rojava’ and US academic Janet Biehl who has visited the region twice since the revolution to investigate what is happening on the ground.

The attached video are the segments from the bookfair panel that most directly addressed the economic and decision making structures of revolutionary Rojava. The text that follows summarises what is said in the video but also outlines the broader context, both in terms of the situation on the ground and similar historical anarchist experiences. If you’ve little knowledge of anarchism you should get a lot from the facts contained below, and perhaps the analysis that compares what we know with anarchist experiences of revolutionary transformation will whet your appetite.

What is the economic structure now in Rojava? Well let us start by sayings it’s not the ‘full communism’ without bosses that anarchists would aim for but rather a mixed system that includes private businesses alongside the co-ops.

As Erjan says in the video, today the situation is private business is not forbidden. People can do it if they wish, but it is not supported in the way the co-op system is supported.

In anarchist terms is this not that different from the way things worked in a lot of anarchist controlled areas of revolutionary Spain. Small landowners were often allowed to continue to work their own land even if the rest of a village decided to collectivise. The large enterprises that were taken over were state owned and those of owners who had fled the revolution. Things went further in the areas where the anarchists were very strong (e.g. the Woodworking Industry in Barcelona that collectivised all workplaces) but that represented a high tide mark rather than what was typical everywhere.

In Rojava the Assad regime kept the area under-developed, as an agricultural breadbasket for Syria, so there were not that many large businesses to start with except state owned utilities. Of the few other privately owned big businesses the owners seem to have mostly fled the region. There is a huge multinational cement factory but its location is near the front line and it’s been the scene of combat, so it appears not to be currently in production. The exception we heard was land ownership – although some large landlords fled many are still in place. Below we look at how this is probably related to the tribal-feudal structures that sit alongside capitalism in the region.

The comparison we make above with Spain 1936-7 is important because the Spanish revolution of 1936 still represents a high point of workers self-management. And in that context it’s quite relevant that a section of ultra-left Marxists in the 1930s also refused solidarity with anarchist Spain because, as they correctly pointed out, capitalism had not yet been abolished and compromises had been made. Anarchists, in Spain and internationally, criticised the compromises but still remained in solidarity with the revolution, including fighting on the front lines.

Another important aspect to keep in mind is that although anarchists now know a fair bit about the Spanish collectives this wasn’t true at the time they were functioning. Gaston Leval’s massive study didn’t appear in English until 1945 and even his briefer article on the collectives in Aragon was only published two years into the revolution. During the period from 1936 to early 1937 when the collectives were strong, only fragmentary information was available about them outside Spain, much of that hostile.

Importantly, unlike Spain – where millions of workers were self described anarchists at the start of the revolution and so were prepared to take over their workplaces – in Rojava it would appear that only a small minority were ideological revolutionaries at the beginning. If we think of the scene in the Ken Loach film Land & Freedom, where the liberated village debates whether to collectivise the land, the importance of this becomes clear. The impulse for collectivisation in that scene mostly comes from within the village due to the already existing anarchist presence, it’s not imposed from without. In a Rojava equivalent we could expect that the impulse at least initially would be dependent on the arguments of the militia who had liberated the village rather than its inhabitants.

By 2014 in Rojava we are told in the video that there were many co-ops but now (early 2016) there are three to four times more, probably thousands. Many of these appear to be small, we are shown photos of a textile co-op and a women’s bakery co-op. Given the blockade on Rojava we know it’s hard to import machinery and impossible to import large machinery so it’s a question of building co-ops with what is already to hand, these are going to be small and labour- rather than capital-intensive.

Individually we are told that while these small co-ops are working well the challenge is networking them to work together. For this reason there is a new distribution co-op formed, that is a higher level one that brings together many co-ops. This has upwards of 10,000 members.

What’s important, we are told, is that the co-ops are initiated and controlled by the communes, i.e. the community assembly structures. Co-ops are not individual or completely independent, they are very connected with the assembly process.

Decision making
A detailed diagram gives an overview of how decision making in Rojava works. It has three columns. [Note: This text was origianlly posted on FB with the video where there was no easy way for the reader to be presented with the diagram itself, so its described here.  We’ve inserted the disgram below.]

On the left side see the four tiers of decision making from
– the local Commune (a village or city district) which may contain from 30 to 400 households
– neighbourhood councils comprising 7 to 30 such communes
– District Councils comprised of each city and its surrounding villages
– People’s Council of West Kurdistan (PCWK, but more normally referred to as Tev-Dem) which is the entire region but because of the war had been meeting as the 3 separate cantons rather than a single body.

We are told that when the structures described were declared in January 2014 there were 1,500 communes, but now there are 4,000. That the communes bring people into the political process and empower people. The reason for the growth from 1500 to 4000 communes over this period is not explained, it seems unlikely the increase is simply more territory being held, since January 2014 was before the big ISIS assaults on Kobane canton that overran the entire countryside and was only pushed back after the months-long siege of Kobane. So it seems the increase in the number of communes, at least in part, is an outcome of the methodology spreading. Perhaps the outcome of lots of ‘Land & Freedom’ local discussions?

In the middle of the diagram there are the 7 standard committees that exist at each district level (Defence, Economics, Political, Civil Society, Free Society, Justice, Ideology) plus the Women’s Council.

On the right of the diagram is ‘Democratic Self-Administration’ which is a more conventional government structure of legislative and executive bodies as well as municipal administration. We are told 40% of the seats in the parliament come from the PCWK / Tev-Dem, the rest from political parties, including other Kurdish parties. So the parliament is a blend of direct and representative democracy. We are also told that this system was established two years ago.

The population of Rojava isn’t all Kurdish, so as well as the different Kurdish political parties there are also parties that are largely Arab, Assyrian and Yazedi. In the last months, as ISIS have been beaten back, the picture presented in this talk has become more complex as the new areas liberated are majority non-Kurdish. So we’ve seen the emergence of the ‘Syrian Democratic Forces’ as the umbrella organisation for all those fighting alongside the YPG and, as areas are liberated, the formation of local military councils overseeing that process. When ISIS are kicked out of Manjib and hopefully Raqqa what governance structures will come into being in those majority Arab towns and how will they interact with the rest of Rojava and Tev-Dem? There is no reason to assume any strong pre-existing ideological affinity with the Tev-Dem project or a commitment to the organisational methods being used. How is that contradiction handled?

In anarchist terms this is where the greatest contradictions lie, in the conflict between the delegate based democracy of the communes and the mostly representative system of the ‘Democratic Self-Administration’. This contradiction has been a feature of many revolutions, sometimes called ‘dual power’, and the defeat of the revolution is tightly connected to conventional government structures using their control of the police & military to repress workplace & community assemblies.

This is what happened in the Russian revolution, with the positive gains of the revolution being defeated as the Bolshevik party used government power to repress soviets and workplace assemblies. The anarchists faced the same problem in Spain in 1936: although a large minority of workers were anarchists not all were, leading some to fear an ‘anarchist dictatorship’ if the anarchists took power. Like Rojava this led to parallel systems of community and workplace assemblies, one seeking to federate upwards and the other a standard representative government issuing commands downwards. In Spain as in Russia this ended with the police & military being used to repress the assemblies, long before the republic was defeated by Franco.

There was a lot of debate in the anarchist movement in Spain about what to do and the solution reached wasn’t great, it was individual ‘anarchist ministers’ taking posts in the republican government. A similar but even more complex problem exists in Rojava. The PYD is not the only political organisation in Rojava and not everyone agrees with its goals and methods. So what do you do with other political organisations that are more conventional? Suppress them or create this sort of unstable dual power structure? The magical solution would be to somehow go over/around the leadership of the other parties to organise their supporters in the communes already described, but, even if successful, that would be a process that takes time, not a moment that can be brought into existence.

The PYD is in a far more difficult situation than the CNT was in Spain. Not only did the PYD organise a much smaller part of the population before the revolution, but Rojava is much more divided by ethnic and religious differences than Spain was. It’s worth noting that those most critical of the dual nature of these structures are often also those most suspicious of the ideology of the PYD (and PKK). Which leads them to the contradictory position of simultaneously demanding the suppression of other parties (the reality if all power goes to the communes) but also warning against the danger of the PYD suppressing other parties. Of course the PYD suppressing other parties but retaining the parliamentary structure would simply be the equivalent of how the Bolsheviks undermined the revolution in Russia.

The best solution advocated in Spain was that put forward by the small minority who organised as the Friends of Durruti. They wanted a revolutionary council comprised of mandated recallable delegates from the anarchist and socialist trade unions to replace the function of the government. Almost all workers were members of one of the unions so it was seen as a structure that answered the need for coordination, particularly in the war effort, but only excluded business owners.

But there isn’t a parallel solution for Rojava since, unlike Spain, most workers are not members of an anarchist or socialist union. Indeed it’s likely that a lot of work takes place outside the formal economy so even if such unions did exist they would probably only organise a minority. In any case there isn’t a clear equivalent demand to the one for a union based military council advanced by the Friends of Durruti as a workable alternative to conventional government. Anarchists could advance ‘all power to the communes’ but that inevitably suggests the de facto suppression of political parties and so only becomes workable when large majorities are won for such a position overall in each of the ethnic and tribal groups.

We are told in the video that the basic structures described in the slide are the same in Bakur, and that Rojava had the advantage of being able to learn from the experiences in Bakur since 2007. ‘Bakur’ means North Kurdistan and is the preferred term for the area of Kurdistan under the rule of the Turkish state. ‘Kurdistan’ is the term used for the regions that have a majority Kurdish population but are currently part of Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Iran.

There is no real surprise here as the influence of the Bakur based Kurdish freedom movement on the PYD is more than obvious, indeed hostile critics want to write off the PYD as no more than a PKK puppet. The PKK being the military, and to a large extent ideological, element of what’s often called the Kurdish Freedom movement in Bakur. From the obituaries of YPG/J volunteers killed defending Rojava, we already know that a fair number of people came from Bakur to help the revolution in Rojava. This we can assume would extend into areas other than armed defence and be part of the process of transferring knowledge and influence. This is why ultra left marxist criticism of Rojava is so heavily based on criticism of the PKK’s history in Bakur, and in particular of Ocalan, the jailed PKK ideological leader.

The influence of the Kurdish freedom movement in Bakur, including the ideological and military influence of the PKK is tricky to have an open discussion of because the PKK are on the global terror watch list and brutally suppressed in Turkey. And the Turkish state has long refused to make any distinction between the PKK and any person of a movement that shares a similar ideological perspective. To frame it in an Irish context, it’s the equivalent of suppressing every republican activist by treating them as if there were members of the IRA.

Even before the failed coup thousands of Kurdish political activists, including many elected mayors, had been jailed in Turkey. Alongside that state action there is also the danger of Turkish nationalist lynch mobs attacking individuals and organisations. At times of tension, including around elections, such attacks become very common. This means it’s literally impossible for core participants to have an open discussion about ideological and organisational influences in Turkey. Internationally there is even the odd situation where Facebook (and now, it appears, Twitter) has an automatic ban for even posting images of the jailed PKK leader Ocalan. For that reason conversations very often need to be coded in ways that somewhat reduce the possibilities of prosecution or social media bans.

To return to the video, we are told that if the ideas implemented in Rojava initially came from Bakur, from 2014 because of the concrete experience gained they started to flow in the opposite direction. Although a decade old, the attempt to set up similar parallel power structures in Bakur have led to the jailings of thousands of activists over the last decade including many town mayors. That must have had an enormously disruptive effect on how grassroots organising experiments worked out. For instance making it very hard to know if a specific failure was due to some inherent internal problem or the fact that key organisers had been jailed.

Rojava is under economic blockade and military assault, and, even far behind the front lines, the constant danger of ISIS suicide attacks. But in the areas and times where there is relative peace the experiments in assembly democracy and co-ops have much more freedom from interference.

Janet
The video then switches to Janet Biehl, an eyewitness who has a very high ideological affinity with the theoretical process but who, not being Kurdish, doesn’t have such affinity on the basis of a shared nationalism. She talks about witnessing assemblies in progress in the largest city and how they involved women and non-Kurds.

She describes the same structure of street level communes sending delegates to a neighbourhood council, which sends delegates to the district council (of the city and surroundings) and then the district sends delegates to the council for the canton. She very clearly specifies that the delegates are mandated and recallable, in other words that this is a system of decision making entirely compatible with anarchism. She confirms the figure of 4,000 communes and talks about the Rojava social contract that guarantees human rights including gender equality. This is used as a reference point to resolve disagreements, something akin to a constitution in a non-state setting.

In the video extract we’ve also included one of the questions from the floor and summaries of the response to it below. This clarifies some of the discussion of co-ops that we’ve had above.

Question – To what extent is it a competitive market economy, how do the assemblies relate to the organisation of the economy?

Janet – co-ops are accountable to the assembly system.

Erjan – Every commune has an economic committee and they initiate the co-ops. A few communes often come together to talk about what is produced in the area and how a co-op can be formed around this.

Agricultural co-ops
After the revolution land that belonged to the state was taken and given to the poorest people who then mostly organised in co-operatives. Then farmers were encouraged to come together and from co-operatives.

Distribution / Trade
The big co-operatives that handle distribution have an effect on limiting prices as otherwise the supply of goods is dependent on smugglers and because of the war their prices are high.

The large state companies that were taken over initially as public companies and now being transformed into co-operatives, slowly and carefully.

There are some areas where private companies are still dominant, changing this needs a process of making the co-operatives bigger.

There isn’t really class conflict in terms of companies as there are not really higher bosses [they have fled? because there were no big companies outside the state sector?] but there are some big land owners still in the area. The TEV-DEM policy is not to seek direct confrontations with land owners as this would create other social problems, and in any case is not needed as there is a surplus of agricultural land, even over-production of some goods. So there is a process of diversifying agriculture which means it’s possible to feed the population better and have food sovereignty.

Some interpretation of these answers.
It’s likely the ‘other social problems’ referred to in relation to large landlords who have remained are a product both of tribal feudalism on the one hand and ethnic diversity and division on the other.

It’s common to see both Kurds and Arabs in the region being referred to as belonging to one of a number of tribes. Sometimes other terms are used. At the time of writing Turkey has jaken took control of the border town of Jarablus from ISIS without any apparent fight but their advance ground to a halt when they tried to take the small village of Ayn-al-Bayda. The defence was credited to local fighters of the Al-Jadir family. When Amnesty suggested the YPG were displacing Arabs as they advanced a statement contradicting this was released by the ‘Ruspîs Assembly of Arab Tribes in Cizîr Canton’ said to include “El-Cihêş, El-Begara, El-Niêm, El-Şerabî ve El-Şeme”

Under tribal feudalism the heads of these tribes are often large land owners, think of them as very large extended families, who can therefore potentially use tribal loyalties to generate a defence, including armed defence of those holdings. For a long explanation of these structures and their importance in shaping the reality of radical politics in the region see https://youtu.be/y4NMASjaGRQ

In this context, what might be intended to be a restructuring on class lines (i.e. a conflict between those working the land and the landlord/owner) carries the very real danger of instead creating a cross class resistance along the lines of tribal loyalty if it’s imposed from outside. And of course the fact that for now in Rojava the initial ideological influence is overwhelmingly Kurdish makes this a much larger problem if the landowner and his tribe are Arab. What starts as a conflict over land on that basis can very quickly turn into something that looks like ethnic cleansing. Indeed the accusation that the YPG is engaged in ethnic cleansing surfaces from time to time, presumably in part because newly liberated regions will include tribal groups where the patriarch for one reason or another had aligned with ISIS.

Add to this that this is not a region that has seen long term stability between the different ethnic groups and the tribes that compose them. Rather, particularly in the aftermath of world war one, it’s defined by vicious programs, expulsions and genocides, where both western powers and domestic rulers exploited existing divisions to arm one group against another as part of the break-up of the former Ottoman empire. And this was a process that extended into the 1970s and beyond, the regime had a policy of removing some Kurdish villages and moving Arabs into them in order to create an ‘Arab belt’ in particular along the border. The current civil war has been marked by sectarian massacres, the most infamous being the attempt by ISIS to genocide the Yazidis out of existence. This is a context in which any suggestion of ethnic conflict has to be avoided.

This underlines that the Rojava revolution is important not simply because it is an experiment that approaches direct democracy and economic egalitarianism but also because the alternative is horrific. At a moment when ISIS, Trump & PEGIDA strive to set ethnic and religious groups at each other’s throats under their common ‘clash of civilisations’ ideology, Rojava offers a very different set of answers. Ones that we should pay close attention to.

WORDS & VIDEO recording: Andrew Flood (Follow Andrew on Twitter)

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Gabriel Kuhn: #Anarchism Today

Gabriel Kuhn is the author and editor of numerous works relating to anarchism, rebellion and revolution, including Soccer vs. the State: Tackling Football and Radical Politics, Life Under the Jolly Roger: Reflections on Golden Age Piracy, a collection from Gustav Landauer, Revolution and Other Writings: A Political Reader, Erich Mühsam‘s Liberating Society from the State and Other Writings: A Political Reader, and All Power to the Councils! A Documentary History of the German Revolution of 1918–1919. He has a blog at PM Press, his main publisher. The following excerpts are from his post, “Revolution Is More Than a Word: 23 Theses on Anarchism.” I thought it was a useful contribution to the current situation facing anarchists, particularly in the U.S. I included some of Gustav Landauer’s writings in Volume One of Anarchism: A Documentary History of Libertarian IdeasI discuss the origins of the anarchist movement from out of the struggles and debates within the International Workingmen’s Association (the so-called “First International”) in ‘We Do Not Fear Anarchy – We Invoke It’: The First International and the Origins of the Anarchist Movement.

no-nations-no-borders

Continue reading Gabriel Kuhn: #Anarchism Today

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#NoBorders #RefugeesGR #LibertadMigelyBego Solidarity Statement After Arrests

​#FreeMikelAndBego

#FreeRezaAndAhmed

Join the demonstration at Friday December 30th there will be a demonstration at 11:30am at Venizelou statue (Aristotelous square, Egnatia) in Thessaloniki, Greece. 
Thessaloniki Statement in solidarity to the 4 arrestees in Igoumenitsa, Greece

Originally published by Migrants Social Center Tsamadou 13a

We are all refugees. We are all Basque solidarians. We are all traffickers of solidarity.
The signatories of this letter express our unbridled solidarity and demand the immediate release of the two Basque activists and the 2 refugees who questioned in practice the racist border regime of the EU, who were arrested at the port of Igoumenits, and who are today threatened with heavy charges for “illegal trafficking of migrants” and with lengthy detention and deportation, respectively.
We would like to declare that this act of civil disobedience by Mikel and Bego, to transport refugees from Greece to Basque Country is an act that must not only not be persecuted, but which sets the example for humanity, solidarity and justice, in a Europe which more and more resembles the darkest times in its history, a Europe which builds fences and which marshals armed forces against refugees fleeing war, oppression, and poverty.
The arrestees Mikel Zuloaga, Begoña Huarte, Reza Ali και Ahmet Awais have earned our full respect and support. We will not accept the criminalization of solidarity, on the pretense of a crackdown on “trafficking”, which is met with heavy prison sentences. With them, we will fight against the barbarism of Fortress Europe, against the segregation of people by nationality, religion, gender, for freedom of movement and for the right to remain.
Antiracist Initiative (Thessaloniki) 
Antiracist Initiative (Larissa) 

Antiracist Initiative (Preveza) 

Athens- Piraeus Antifascist coordination of committees- initiatives and collectives

Athens Migrant Social Support Network 

“Ektos Taxis” (Teaching and learning group at the Thessaloniki Migrants Social Centre – Steki Metanaston) 

Movement to Deport Racism

Thessaloniki Social Clinic (KIA)

Migrants’ Sunday School 

Open initiative for a self organized Thessaloniki Pride

“Piso Thrania”- an initiative for education without discrimination 

Thessaloniki Union of Booksellers’ and Stationers’ Employees 

ROSSONERO- Social Center Trikala 

Room 39 (Thessaloniki Support group for Migrants and the Homeless)

Solidarity Lesvos – PikPa

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Interview with an Anti-Fascist activist fighting in Syria

rojava

In late 2015 an activist with the Anti-Fascist Network went to Rojava (the liberated Kurdish area in northern Syria) to join the Kurdish fight for self-determination and against ISIS. They returned in summer 2016.

You are an animal rights and anti-fascist activist. Why did you go to Rojava to help the Kurds?

There are many reasons that I went to Rojava to help the Kurds. There was a curiosity about war and conflict that took me to Rojava. I wanted to see what it was like myself and have that experience. I wanted, in many ways, to escape the stagnant and repetitive existence that we are forced to endure here.

I also went because I liked what the Kurds were doing in Rojava and I believe in the concept of solidarity. This is their moment in history, they invite internationals to go and help them and I felt in some ways it was my duty to honour my belief system and join them. This is the nature of solidarity. If you sincerely believe that a better world is possible then you have to take risks and be prepared to make sacrifices. After four years of academia I liked the idea of once again, ‘getting my hands dirty.’ Too many people on the left are content to prioritise writing articles or doing a PhD in critical thinking or environmental studies or something and kid themselves that they’re still struggling as part of some sort of radical counter-culture or movement.

I began following the struggle of the Kurds in northern Syria through social media. Whilst I say I didn’t and still don’t fully understand their whole cause, I liked the general things they aspire to: women’s liberation, multiculturalism, secularism, local democracy. Their defence of the revolution is one of the few justifiable wars of the last few decades. In the midst of what is truly a brutal and bloody war the Kurds are a shining light of civility and decency.

An Image of imprisoned Kurdish leader Abdullah Öcalan. Such images are widespread across Rojava.

Then I got to learn about the foreign volunteers who were going there, mostly from Western countries. At first I assumed these were all ex-military types, people with a great deal of experience in such matters. But I came across the story of a young British lad, a painter and decorator, with no military experience who was out there. And he wasn’t some extraordinary, super athletic archetypal ‘war hero’ but an ordinary bloke. And I thought that, “if he can do it, I can have a crack.” Of course, I thought about this deeply and for a long time. I contemplated all the possibilities – from the polar extremes of getting killed to me ‘going native.’ The martyrdom of the first (of two) British volunteers to die over there, Konstandinos Erik Scurfield, had a big impact on me. He is without a doubt a hero in my eyes, and whilst his death was tragic and sad, his bravery and sacrifice should never be forgotten. As strange as it sounds, his death made me want to go even more.

Konstandinos Erik Scurfield

One particularly memory around this time, is that, as I said, I was following the Kurds intently, and I wanted to show my support. I started looking online for t-shirts I could buy and wear to show my support, and then I caught myself thinking “this isn’t a brand, this isn’t a game. If I want to support them I must do something to help.” Really the only way I could do that was to go there. Another feeling I had was that I knew that if I didn’t go I would regret the decision for the rest of my life. I knew I would be an old man who, when the Syrian civil war was being discussed, would say with regret, “I was thinking of going there.” For me going to Rojava was part of turning aspirations into reality, a way of saying “you can and should do this” – in the same way you shouldn’t wear a ‘Support the ALF’ or ‘Good Night, White Pride’ t-shirt but go out there and liberate animals or confront fascists.

How did you get there?

I flew to the Kurdistan Regional Government area of Federal Iraq and crossed the border illegally into Rojava. Whilst elements of the Iraqi-Kurdistan society are supportive of the revolution, the dominant political faction there, the Kurdistan Democratic Party (PDK) led by the Barzani family dynasty, is hostile. They are more ‘Western’ in outlook, have good relations with Turkey and have their own competitive ‘greater Kurdistan’ project. Not only do they not allow international volunteers into Rojava, but they routinely close the border, enforce an embargo on much needed supplies and refuse entry to journalists. Those crossing the border illegally can face arrest and imprisonment if they are captured by PDK-Pêşmerge forces. This has happened to a number of international volunteers.

However, there are many routes to cross the border illegally, both on foot and by vehicle. The journey can sometimes take up to ten hours.

Syria in December 2016. Yellow is Rojava, Red the Syrian Government, Green the Syrian Opposition, Grey: ISIS, White the Al-Nusra Front. Map by Ermanarich from Wikipedia

Describe a day in the life of an international volunteer in the Kurdish military?

Well, in the night you have to do nobet – which is guard shift, whether you are on front-line or on rest. You never get a night off. Depending on your position it can last from a lot of hours, to one hour, either on your own or with a heval (a term somewhere between ‘friend’ and ‘comrade’ – a heval is someone involved with the Kurdish movement). The longest I did was four hours, but this was an exception and then it never got longer than two hours. So, every night, at a random hour you would be woken up to stand out in the cold darkness. You would also do nobet during the day as well, under the same structure.

So, you wake up at six o’clock in the morning, unless you are in certain positions likely to attack, in which case you get up around three o’clock, which corresponds with first prayer.

Tabor sleeping quarters

Apart from that, there’s very little to do. You spend all day, everyday with your hevals. Sometimes you are together in a full tabor (The Kurdish name for a unit of revolutionaries – up to around forty people), at others it has been broken down into teams, of maybe ten to a dozen hevals. You smoke a lot, everyone smokes. In our tabor I think we had one guy who didn’t smoke, and maybe two or three women. By English standards the cigarettes are kinda weak – I would usually smoke four in the first hour of the day, and would smoke between twenty and thirty a day. This is not uncommon, and it’s not the stress of the situation as life isn’t stressful – it’s the boredom of things. What makes the Kurds different from Western militaries is that they are reactive, not proactive. Unless there is an actual attack going on – you’re kinda hanging around, not waiting for something to happen per-se, but just spending your day – and then when something happens you respond to it. I think this is something that drives some ex-military people up the wall as they have a motto of ‘eternal vigilance’ or ‘be prepared.’

A heval mucks around during a weapon maintenance session. The Kurds love having their picture taken, and the taking of pictures is commonplace as it is implicitly linked with martyrdom.

Fire plays a big part in life. Whilst I went in the winter (which might explain it to some degree), the Kurds are obsessed with fire. The first thing they will do when they arrive anywhere is to make a fire, and they will chuck anything on it. None of this bush-craft wood shavings and flint business you see in the SAS survival guide, the Kurdish way is to either chuck a nice jug of petrol on to get it going or burn plastic. And they will have a fire going all day, only extinguishing it when circumstances such as it being a source for enemy thermal imaging equipment or target for enemy thermal weapon systems arise. Even then they are sometimes reluctant to put it out. On the fire they will always be boiling kettles of hot water to make tea. They call it chai and it’s drunk black, strong and with at least three heaped tablespoons of sugar. They love chai and drink a million cups a day. Fags, fire and chai – these are the most important things for the Kurds.

Dinner on the fire. Also the most common way to wash in Rojava.

Not only does fire play a big part in the social life, as people interact around it, but it’s used to both cook the food on, and to boil water for washing. When you are on operations or front-line position you are without electricity so the fire is the source of power. You eat collectively, sharing from the same massive plates or bowls and this is done squatting on the floor. Nan, which is round, flat, coarse bread that has an ability to go stale yet never mouldy, is eaten with everything. It is often used a substitute for a spoon to dig up the rice or beans or whatever you are eating.

Alongside fire and tea, the Kurds love music. Portable speaker units that play music from memory sticks are popular. There is always music blasting, and it is normally Kurdish. Even when you are on an operation and there’s fighting going on, there will be some loon who thinks nothing of strolling around blasting music. In the evenings, when you sit round the fire, it is common to take turns and sing songs.

The Kurds don’t really train – either in physical fitness or manoeuvres, and they don’t take much care of their kit. That’s another thing that drives a lot of the ex-military volunteers up the wall.

You travel around in convoy on the ubiquitous Toyota Hilux; five in the cab and up to ten or so on the back. Often it is a squashed, bumpy and dangerous ride and I was constantly worried about falling off, meanwhile the Kurds perch on the side of the vehicle with effortless grace.

The Kurds love volleyball, play a chess/draughts type game on an improvised board with opposing dark and light stones which can move forwards and backwards and side to side. They also play an awesome sports game called Parastina.

YPG/YPJ armour being serviced pre-operation.

Tell me about the other international volunteers? Why do people risk their lives to support the YPG or the Kurdish struggle?

Contrary to popular misconceptions, save for the International Freedom Battalion, which is really a Turkish communist project, and one unit of fifteen or so internationals, there is no ‘international brigade’ of fighters. International volunteers are integrated into Kurdish units, sometimes there’s one or two of them, in others, it can nearly break into double figures. Because there is such a wide mix of personalities in Rojava, the international volunteers are not a unified body and there is, at times, hostility, contempt and mistrust between each other.

On the ground the international volunteers are known by both themselves and the Kurds as ‘Westerners.’ Though I would use this term at times, and not deliberately, I always had a problem with it and tried to use the terms ‘internationals.’ Also, in both my mind and in the structures and reality of life out there, volunteers from Turkey who are largely in their own units (I think), are not considered ‘Westerners’ or ‘internationals.’

Generally speaking, there are two main reasons people go to Rojava: support of the political aims of the Kurdish revolution or to fight Isis. This is not to say that these are mutually exclusive reasons. There is also a small minority of volunteers; they are professional soldiers and they spend their lives drifting from war to war.

The international volunteers are an eclectic bunch and difficult to pigeonhole. Politically speaking they come from all shades of the far left including Trotskyists, Stalinists, IWW types and anarchist insurrectionists, non-aligned, ‘non-political’ working class left-wingers, right through to centre-right, conservative or religiously motivated Christians. The only political persuasions I didn’t meet out there were far-right, EDL Islamophobic bigot types. Out of the nationalities I met American, Canadian, Italian, Spanish, Basque, Romanian, Irish, Swedish, German, French, Czech, Polish, Australian, New Zealand, Chinese and Norwegian. The volunteers are predominately men. I think female volunteers could be counted on fingers, maybe even a solitary hand.

Central Kobane

As I said, it’s hard to pigeonhole the volunteers. I met ex-soldiers who were revolutionary in outlook and kind in disposition and self-defined anarchists who were authoritarian in approach and contemptuous in their social relations. I liked spending time with people who weren’t the sort of people, in background or politics, that I would knock around with at home – realising that it’s not so much beliefs that make a person but the values they have. If someone was decent, polite, respectful and showed respect to their hosts, the Kurds, then this made them a good person in my book.

A good friend of mine was an ex-military man in his 50s from France. He was youthful and was always respectful – would follow their customs, would clean up etc. and would say “I am a guest in this country. This is their country, we must respect their values and customs.” For a short while he had worked as a security guard in Brighton, evicting squatters in particular, and I would joke with him that I probably knew some of them. But his politics were certainly right of centre. He found Islam, and the growth of the religion, and its customs such as praying outside mosques, a threat to the way of life he had grown up with and knew. He was fearful that Islam would dominate French society. Obviously, I had a very different perspective on things and we would talk for hours about such subjects. In the aftermath of the terrorist attack in Paris, these discussions got heated – “you see” he would say “how can you not say this is true?” But there was a respect between us and we enjoyed each other’s company.

Some, and especially the ones that are there to do the non-existent civilian work – try to make this distinction; “are you political or just here to kill Daiş (the Kurdish name for the Islamic State)?” they say with condescension implied on the latter, never appreciating the bravery that fighters have by their nature, the fact they might have a different value system or not the privilege of the academic education that turns you into such a toss-pot.

Why do people go? On the one hand there is a strong element of self-gratification – many are trying to become ‘war heroes’ and make a name for themselves. There are quite a few ‘loud’ personalities; know-it-all narcissists who are out there for self-glory. They talk a lot of bullshit and are usually the first to pop up in media coverage about international volunteers. I’ve lost count of the number of people who were planning to write books or blogs, and to be honest, there’s only a handful of people’s books I would read if they did appear.

But, for everyone like this there are many more people of deep integrity. Some take the risk because they believe in what they are doing – either fighting the Islamic State, or even more standing with the Kurds and Kurdish self-expression, rather than the Kurdish political ideology per-se.

If I am to think about the English volunteers over there in particular, I am very proud of them. They are largely working class and politically non-aligned. They are builders, painters and decorators, supply teachers, factory workers and ex-squaddies. Their politics range from left-wingers that speak out against Islamophobia to people you probably wouldn’t see eye to eye with if the subjects of immigration or clerics were raised. But I am proud of them because it is the working class that is fighting the fascism of the Islamic State, and not either your academic, text-book reading doctrinal arm-chair anarchists nor your racist, bigoted knuckle dragging ‘Keep Britain White’ crew.

A frontline defensive position near Abdulaziz

Are there any connections between the anti-fascist struggle here and the revolution in Rojava?

At the end of the day, in my mind, there are more similarities between the politics of the Islamic State and the British far-right than differences. They both believe in many of the same things, such as subservient gender roles, capital punishment, an intolerance to homosexuality, that some cultures are superior to others, societal purity and that all must live under the one dominant value system. And as much as the far-right are too stupid to realise it, they play right in to the hands of the fascist Islamists. When such people carry out terrorist attacks in Europe there is not a clear political demand such as self-determination or withdrawal of troops or interests. What they are aiming to achieve is terror in the literal sense; to create chaos and confusion against and within the Islamic communities of these countries and create a general backlash and anti-Islamic feeling in all non-Muslims. In such a way, society becomes more and more polarised as both groups grow further apart, distrust each other more and more and become more hostile towards each over. But this doesn’t matter to the far right, because as you’ve seen; when the shit hits the fan and the theocratic fascists pose a serious threat to peace and freedom, they aren’t prepared to stand their ground and fight it. This is why it is so important that we must come together with people of all races and religions, and with members of the Islamic community in particular, because, whilst it’s a cliché to say it, it’s also true: unity is strength and by finding some common ground of working together we can defeat not just the fascism of fundamentalist Islam, but also the fascism that waves the St George’s Cross and the Union Jack.

Flags fly in Central Kobane. They compete with an equally large Turkish flag that flies across the border north of the city.

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#LibertadMikelyBego Demonstration  for Arrested #NoBorders Activists in #Thessaloniki

Two days ago 2 Spanish activists were arrested at the port of Igoumenitsa in Greece. In an act of civil disobedience they tried to assist 8 refugees who wanted cross the border. On Friday December 30th there will be a demonstration at 11:30am at Venizelou statue (Aristotelous square, Egnatia) in Thessaloniki, Greece.

The two arrested activists decided to support refugees who wanted to leave Greece in order to escape the appalling conditions in Greek refugee camps where there is lack of about everything.

Mikel and Bego didn’t ask any money from the refugees.The two activists wanted to act against the inhuman EU border regime and for the freedom of movement for everybody. 

Join the demonstration at Friday December 30th there will be a demonstration at 11:30am at Venizelou statue (Aristotelous square, Egnatia) in Thessaloniki, Greece. 

Freedom For Mikel and Bego!