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“Destruam et ædificabo”: The anarchist proposal

The Latin expression is a biblical quotation that Pierre-Joseph Proudhon put on the cover of his fundamental work, The System of Economic Contradictions, or The Philosophy of Poverty (1846), and it reflects very well the dual approach that anarchism has given to the struggle against domination and oppression. On the one hand, the clear understanding that key aspects of the dominant system cannot be recovered, but rather have to be radically confronted. It is the radicalism that is also shown in successive confrontational tactics at different times in anarchism’s history, in which destruam has been used in a literal sense, with a propaganda of the deed that smelled more of gunpowder and death than of the construction of a new world. It is the one that is still present in slogans that we can hear in a demonstration, such as “A fired worker, a hung employer”. In this case, it has more of an innocuous bravado than a serious threat, but in other cases it is clear that violent opposition is needed at a certain moment, a position that the Black Bloc consistently picks up, or that Peter Gelderloos supports in his essay against of non-violence as a priority strategy. Domination and oppression will not fall without a serious “push” to bring them down.

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