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Gustavo Rodríguez: Letter to a chilean on the current situation (II)

Part 2. To Joaquín García Chanks and Marcelo Villarroel Sepúlveda, comrades and co-conspirators.

Originally published by a las barricadas. Translated by 325.

You wil find the first letter here.

For I am the sworn poet of all the intrepid rebels of the entire world,
And whoever comes with me leaves peace and routine behind,
And you play to lose your life every moment.

Walt Whitman, “To a frustrated European revolutionary” (1856), Leaves of Grass

… where there is danger, what grows saves us.

Friedrich Hölderlin, Patmos

A month and six days after the insurrection began, Anarchy is still alive in the Chilean region. It is an unprecedented event in Chile and Latin America. It has been the kairos of Anarchy: the emancipatory moment that occurs in the relevant time and place, the bold incarnation of a pronounced denial of the State and of all authority.

The echo of the old anarchic slogan “Neither God nor State nor Patriarchy” rumbled throughout the southern geography and has made hearts vibrate from Cape Horn to the banks of the Sama and Camarones rivers.

It is evident that in their daily subversive activity, the informalist insurrectionary anarchism pushed their potentialities and also experienced difficulties and their own limits, availing themselves of ephemeral conjunctions – mutating from one place to another –, something that allowed them (via conflict and various contingencies) to sketch out the chromatic possibilities of their theoretical-practical background and, encourage unmanageable disobedience, concentrating specifically on individual and/or small affinity group actions aimed at attack and expropriation.

However, dynamite was missing. Diesel and gasoline failed. The attack was spared. There was a lack of expropriations. The headquarters of ALL political parties were not demolished. No prisons or madhouses were assaulted. We lashed out at the symbols but missed the target. A gigantic bonfire is still pending for the hundreds of flags that are seen on the marches (including the red and black ones, because ALL the flags are full of blood and shit). This coming short has allowed the negating power to divert actions until “triumphant”, instead of injecting the conflict with life and going beyond the institutional songs that already threaten to impose the peace of the grave.

Today, the neutral point of the insurrection begins to reveal itself clearly. The emulsion does its thing and the complete snapshot emerges, showing us the impasse in its right dimension. Understanding it will be a huge leap for anarchist pedagogy that can contribute to the awakening from the dogmatic drowsiness in which a considerable sector of the so-called “anarchist movement” is mired.

The potential of confrontation of an insurrection is not measured by its effects, nor does it reside in the quantitative growth of the insurgents, but in what radiates ipso facto from it. It resides in the vitality of its force of denial, in its offensive mood, in the sharpness of the action, making the insurrection a different symbolic rite.

The fertility of anarchic action resides in itself, which is why it feeds audacity, feeds destructive creativity and advocates subversive wills, multiplying anti-authoritarian violence and illegal practice.

Snapshots of the revolt (second approach) (1)

As expected from the first day of the insurrection, the repression was not long in coming. So far, according to the official figures themselves, there are more than 20 dead, 5 of them resulted from being shot by the repressive forces; 6500 people detained, of which 759 are minors; 2391 wounded (41 by shots fired from firearms, 964 by less-lethal rounds, including 222 with eye injuries – those who have lost sight in one eye or become completely blind. 909 people were injured as the result of brutal beatings) and; hundreds of women raped and sexually assaulted. It was discovered that the Policía de Investigación (PDI) installed a torture center in the Arauco Quilicura shopping centre, where hundreds of protesters arrested during the riots were tortured.

For their part, the insurgents have attacked military barracks, police stations, toll booths, churches, supermarkets and other commercial facilities with firearms and handcrafted devices. They have managed to shoot down police surveillance drones with the help of hundreds of laser pointers.

Thanks to the timely diligence of hackers and the application that revealed the residences of many uniformed men, attacks on police houses across the region have multiplied: in Viña del Mar, hooded people attacked the residence of a police commander and several houses of police were spray painted with death threats and their vehicles destroyed. In San Antonio, the Tejas Verdes barracks were attacked and part of their facilities burned down. In Chiguayante, a group of insurgents broke into the homes of some policemen, destroying everything they found in their path. In Quinta Normal, a policeman was stabbed at his residence and, in the town of Lo Hermida, the police station was attacked, with six policemen wounded.

While police officers doze in their cars, they are assaulted with incendiary devices, an easy-to-replicate practice that has begun to spread to several neighborhoods. During the protests in the city of Rancagua, they threw a dynamite cartridge at a patrol of carabineros that did not explode. In the town of La Victoria, district of Pedro Aguirre Cerda, in the southern center of Santiago, a police officer’s house was set on fire, as in the province of Coyhaique, where properties owned by carabineros were attacked with dozens of incendiary bombs.

In the heart of Santiago, hooded men attacked the Parish of the Assumption and used furniture and images of the Saints to make barricades; they burned the Church of the Sacramentines and, the Church of Veracruz in the Barrio Lastarria, declared a “historical monument” during the fascist dictatorship of General Augusto Pinochet. Valparaíso Cathedral was also attacked by a crowd, burning some of its doors, destroying benches, altars and the baptism fountain. In Puerto Montt, during the early hours of Wednesday the 20th, hooded men attacked the Graciela Bórquez pastoral house, in the heart of the city and, in the Coihuin area, burned the house of priest Luis Izquierdo who is accused of sexual abuse.

In addition to the Catholic churches – consistent with anarchic practice and as a tribute to the famous Kropotkian phrase (“The only church that illuminates is the one that burns”) – several evangelical temples were burned and destroyed, highlighting the attack on October 28 in the city of Santiago of the recording studios and offices of the Ministry of Communications GRACIA TV, in Santa Rosa. The same day and in the same neighborhood the Church Blessed to Bless and, the Church International Ministry for the Family (MINFA), a dependency of the Mercure Hotel, in Santiago Centro, were attacked. In Valparaíso, on October 20, the International Restoration Center (CRI-Chile) was attacked by hooded men and, on October 26, the Presbyterian Church of Valparaíso. In Temuco, at the dawn of October 20, the Assemblies of God Church was attacked and, in Araucanía, in the rural sector of the Púa, the Christian and Missionary Alliance Church.

In the city of Los Andes, a hooded crowd expropriated a pharmacy to bring diapers, medication and cleaning supplies to a nursing home.

As concerns any anti-authoritarian insurrection, politicians have also been targeted by insurgent attacks, regardless of the ideological color of their parties. In Talca, hooded people burned the parliamentary seat of ultra-right senator Juan Antonio Coloma of the Independent/Popular Democratic Union Party (UDI/P). In total, eight UDI offices and two National Renovation sites have already been attacked. On Friday 22, a group of demonstrators from the Assembly of Feminists of Arica, attacked the senator of the Socialist Party, José Miguel Insulza, with paint and spit, at the gates of Radio Cappísima and in the early hours of today in Punta Arenas, an affinity group attacked the La Idea Community Space, parliamentary headquarters of Deputy Gabriel Boric of Social Convergence with incendiary bombs.

Despite the growing subversive dynamism and the leading participation of insurrectional anarchism, some communiqués from groups similar to the informal tendency point to paranoid behaviors in certain “comrades” who support conspiracy theories, in absurd theses about supposed coups and other fanciful omens, call for demobilisation and begin to generate fear creating a climate of early defeat.

This psychosis managed to penetrate some sectors formed in “the ominous citizen culture of believing that each attack is a montage” and they began to accuse trusted comrades of being “undercover agents.”

At the same time, the strategies promoted by the system of domination through its means of mass domestication have been adopted by the citizen-protesters who carry out an anti-hooded/anti-masked paramilitary work that only benefits our enemies. This counter-insurgent atmosphere caused a group of these protesters to brutally beat a young man and hang him from the Pio Nono Bridge, accusing him of being an undercover policeman without the slightest foundation.

Unfortunately, these nefarious attitudes also still significantly prevail among “us”, particularly in those scenes contaminated with liberal discourse and among those who are assumed to be an integral part of the so-called “left.”

The traps of peace: Coincidentia Oppositorum

To speak with Bakunin: “I think I have tried, and events will soon prove better than I have been able to do”(2), that, the Chilean spring begins to move towards a certain exhaustion. The unmanageable disobedient fire is being stifled. The anarchic flame begins to languish. The oxygen that gave life to Anarchy is depleted.

In his Letters to a Frenchman about the current crisis, Bakunin recommended “the immediate non-political action of the people, for the mass uprising of the entire French people, spontaneously organising from the bottom up, for the war of destruction, the wild war armed with a knife“(3); but his exhortation dates from 1870 and, definitely, one hundred and forty-nine years have not passed in vain. In fact, Bakunin himself would end his days very disappointed with the “mass” and, he would wager more on the coordination of wills bound by affinity, emphasizing the conspiracy of refractory minorities and propaganda by deed.

In our times, we cannot give into the slightest illusion about the “masses.” We know very well how voluntary servitude acts. If the generalised insurrection and “the war of destruction” were verified, if “the wild war with a knife” took place, the end of the film would already be known in advance. A few seconds before the appearance of the final title: The End, the Pied Piper of Hamelin emerges guiding the herd of rodents at will.

The dangerous thing about the “mass” is its malleability. With the same ease that liberal democrats assiduously mould it, so it is moulded by religious leaders and dictators. Its enormous plasticity allows it – without distinction – to promote the most intrepid libertarian deeds or to animate the most obscene fascism.

Participatory ideology always plays its role and ends up retaking hold of the reins through the machinery of co-option.

It is enough to take a look at the blockbuster that since yesterday is being screened of the social networks, with its tendency to go viral in record time, entitled “The United People, A New Dawn“(4), to corroborate the strong intentions of the apparatuses of capture of the system of domination. Right there, from a seemingly insignificant narrative, the work of counterinsurgency comes alive.

This explains the requirement of a wide angle view to be able to include in the photo the parliamentarians of all the tendencies who today pose smiling for “the agreements reached”. From Wall Street to Zurich, the powerful applaud the cohesion of the political class. Historical! The front pages of the printed press announce the the fall of the Pinochet Constitution. The irreducible “Plaza de la Dignidad” (formerly Plaza Baquedano or Plaza Italia) magically awakes covered by an immense white canvas as a symbol of peace.

The Marxist dialectic of constituent power begins to monopolise the struggle. The negotiating role of the la Mesa de Unidad Social [the Social Unity Table] is not accidental.  The way out of the “crisis” on the left is the ideal recipe to give continuity to our global capitalist paradise.  The “national populism” – whether from “right” or “left” – is the solution. From Latin America to Europe they impose it on us as the only way of “restructuring”, that is, the way to sell us more capitalism (but now “with a human face”, of course).

That is why the call to “popular unity” through a melodious singsong which rescues the Quilapayún trova with the help of a new musical arrangement – with some Soviet reminiscences -, coupling a leaflet like lyric that reiterates to exhaustion “the country is forging unity”(5)

Despite the brief stanzas of a couple of ‘hip hoppers’ in the service of vernacular patriotism (“We are not from the right nor from the left/we are not of that shit” and, “we move with determination as humans without parties” (6)); the hand that rocks the cradle is unquestionable. The images of the video clip are axiomatic: a massive and varied march dressed in Chilean flags and (to a lesser extent) Mapuches, showing at the end of the countless banners and cardboard signs demands recording a wide range of citizen demands and, closing, with a golden broach in the form of a gigantic national flag with the motto: “Let’s go! Chile does not give up”(7).

By way of preliminary conclusion

Some comrades believe that it is not yet time to draw conclusions and that we must wait for the “the waters to take their course and the results of the insurrection are verified”(8). They assure us that «the new Constitution, the new Constituent Assembly, the impending fall of Piñera»(9) and the whole set of political changes that will follow are the core of the “popular triumph that will transform Chilean society forever”.(10)

These “comrades” insist that we “think clearly before issuing comments”(11), so as to be able to evaluate the outcome.

Beyond the use of common places and the abuse of simple images, it is clear to me that those who think so are betting on the restoration of normalcy.

While I consider, on the contrary, that the time of thinking is now: in the heat of the moment, reconciling the reflexive act with the excitement of the fight, with the fire in the eyes and even with the black hands of the residues of gunpowder. And, consequently, I announce:

In these days when some already celebrate the “popular or peoples’ triumph,” it is when we understand that our lack of freedom will continue to curse us with a new face, with a new Constitution and, probably, under a new government. It is then when we perceive that our goal was never the subsidy of public transport or a rise in wages or pensions or new job opportunities or the end of precariousness or free education. It is when we reveal – before ourselves, those we know and strangers – that our struggle was never for a National Health Insurance or for a new Constitution or for a Constituent Assembly or against corruption or for democratic transparency or for parliamentary participation or for the sensitisation of pacos [police] or for the powerful arrival of a popular government and, much less for a new fatherland.

All these sets of citizen demands were only the pretext to exacerbate rage and unleash the libertarian passions, the sublime situation to spread chaos and give life to Anarchy. We, the anarchists, do not fight for reforms. The anarchic struggle takes place outside the sphere of legal “rights.” That’s why I think the war has to continue.

Perhaps the days on the barricades and of mass expropriations have come to an end, but the time has come for the natural decanting that will give potential to the action of a reduced unmanageable hardcore that once again confirms the dynamic relationships of affinity groups and the relevance of lone wolves. Our war is against all Authority, for the end of commodities, for the liquidation of production and against all that harms, for the destruction of work, for the destruction of the enemy.

The time has come to banish from our shops the mask of political correctness and the anarcho-leftist attitudes that have been so costly to settle. Our actions do not require the acceptance and empathy of the many. As Bonanno pertinently asks, how much does it cost us to wear the mask of revolutionary respectability?(12)

“Anarchists often do not present themselves as they really are. They do not say immediately: we are anarchists, we want to destroy the enemy. They are usually softer, so as not to scare those who are listening. Because they think that quantitative growth can strengthen the anarchist movement, they believe that in this way anarchists, who today are one hundred or one thousand, tomorrow may be ten thousand, one hundred thousand, and make the revolution possible.”(13)

In a three-pole world (USA/China/Russia), where paradoxically “opposite” ideological programs no longer confront each other, but rather three variations of a predatory capitalist expansionism with common interests and enemies (14), it is very clear that there is no alternative, that there is a no viable “triumph”. There is no possible revolution, there is only a world to destroy.

Given this, the rigorous question to ask on the subject at hand is where is Chile going?  That is, what intentions really underlie the slogan “Come on! Chile does not surrender” which appears as an epigraph on the gigantic flag with which the aforementioned video clip ends.

To answer this question, perhaps there are those who recommend us to review beforehand the “predictions” of some postmodern libertarian Marxists who glimpse in “accelerationism” the collapse of capitalism through its over-development and which is a supposed sign of post-capitalism through the development of capitalism itself into a global post-industrial transition to a Collaborative Age (where the biosphere will be regenerated along with “a more just, more humanized and more sustainable global economy for all human beings on Earth”)(15).

Undoubtedly, these optimistic seers who claim that after the wave of planetary insurrections the end of capitalism is to be envisaged, they only try to appease and distract us along the path of “social construction,” knowing that we will not compromise in our efforts to destroy everything, because our struggle is for total liberation.

We are aware that we are witnessing the end of an economic cycle and this entails multiple transformations that generate exclusion, frustrations and hopelessness. The “Washington consensus” is finished, giving way to a multi-centred model of global capitalism. The United States, China, Russia, Europe and, in a certain way, Latin America(16), represent specific models of global capitalism that expand without limits to all the ends of the Earth.

Despite the “specific characteristics” of each of these countries or blocks of countries, they all leave the market economy intact, which reduces in practice the “differences” in the way in which each particular project represses local antagonisms that emerge from the dynamics of global capitalist development.

The rapid progress of capitalism from the Congo to Ecuador is irrefutable. China and Vietnam are reliable examples of its rapid growth. Despite all the auguries, capitalism is renewed with every “crisis” and keeps getting healthier. Which leads us to conclude that whatever the outcome of this insurrection may be, Chile is moving inexorably towards more capitalism.

Thus, the “future” (17) that predicts the remix of El Pueblo Unido, is reduced to more of the same but now, probably from the hand of the left. “The light/of a red dawn” (18) announcing “the life that is to come” (19) is nothing but the strange scarlet luminosity of the toxic fog of the principal cities of Chile (20), the warning of the environmental catastrophe that is approaching due to high industrial pollution , ruthless mining and the overuse of motor transportation, all the work of and thanks to capitalist depredation. The “life that is to come” will therefore be post-apocalyptic, so that we will then have to surely thank Monsanto for the provision of fruits and vegetables at affordable prices, at the dawn of a collaborative capitalism.

However, this most certainly does not frighten us. On the contrary, it invites us to abandon all utopian typecasting and to reaffirm Anarchy in the 21st century as a permanent field of war. To recognise that there is no alternative is not to give in, but is the guttural expression that incites us to an anarchic approach with a knife held between the teeth, a proposal of daily war: all the immanent reasons to make Anarchy alive in the here and now, until there is no trace of any institution or authority.

Gustavo Rodríguez

Planet Earth, November 24, 2019.

Unavoidable postscript: The enemy of Anarchy in Chile is no longer the repressive government of Piñera (with its murderous pacos [police] in the street and bayonet militias at the ready) but those who sincerely celebrate the “triumph” and begin to play the card of the Constituent Assembly and sharpen their fangs for April 2020. The new enemy is that instituting force that begins to show its face. Fighting it – with the same fury with which the current powers have been confronted – is the objective. There is little time and much to destroy. No office of the Communist Party has been set on fire, nor has deputy Boris Barrera been given his much deserved shit bath.

Notes:

1) From information gathered from the communiqués of different affinity groups and/or groups housed in the related portals Anarquía InfoContraInfo and ANA, and through epistolary exchange with dear comrades, witnesses and protagonists of the events.

2)  Bakunin, Miguel, Letters to a Frenchman about the current crisis, August 25, 1870, included in: Complete works, volume I, La Piqueta Editions, Madrid, 1977, P.55.3) Ibid, P.78.

4) Download https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IUOF9wxrYFI

5) Ibid.

6) Ibid.

7) Ibid.

8) Those who sign the letter in question do not deserve to be cited and require a much more forceful on-site response than I can give them in this way.

9) Ibid.

10) Ibid.

11) Ibid.

12) Conference multicited in my previous letter, given at Pantio University, Athens. Collection in: Alfredo M. Bonanno, Domination and Revolt, second edition revised and corrected with additions, Edizioni Anarchismo, Trieste, 2015. pp. 139-176

13) Ibid.

14) Or at least, they try to make us believe so. The United States, China, Russia and even Iran share interests in the fight against ISIS and its international cells, although in reality they simulate fighting it with the aim of crushing their true enemies.

15) Such is the case of Jeremy Rifkin and his so-called “collaborative commons” – which has so filled many of our stores – where he identifies a new mode of production and exchange that renounces market relations and private property, in the hands of the “Internet of things” and with the advantages of a society of almost zero marginal cost giving way to “sustainable cornucopia”. For more information, Vid., Rifkin, Jeremy, The Society of Zero Marginal Cost: The Internet of Things, the Collaborative Commons and the Eclipse of Capitalism, Paidós, Barcelona, 2014.

16) Without fear of being wrong, we can affirm that in Latin America, populist capitalism is on the rise. Cuba, Nicaragua, Venezuela and the Bolivia of deposed Evo Morales are concrete examples of State Capitalism in the 21st Century. The New Man has suffered a resounding metamorphosis and has become a Homo Capitalist, ready to devastate and destroy the Earth. That old Cuban joke of the late seventies makes sense: “the caterpillars have returned transformed into butterflies.”

17) For those futile coincidences of life, the letter of the remix has been suggestively hosted at: https://www.marxists.org/subject/art/music/lyrics/es/el-pueblo.htm

18) Ibid.

19) Ibid.

20) Chile has nine of the ten most polluted cities in Latin America (Padre las Casas, Osorno, Coyhaique, Valdivia, Temuco, Santiago, Linares, Rancagua and Puerto Montt). https://radio.uchile.cl/2019/03


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