A strong and clear explanation of the insurrectionary anarchist struggle, the anti-social aspect of that, and the complexities of fighting against civilization itself. The article also deals with thorny issues of security, communication and attack.
Re-posted from From Russia With Love:
When speaking of insurrectionary struggle we should not confuse insurrectionary method (which can be used by any political power) and insurrectionary movement engaged in anarchist revolutionary struggle. We’ll be talking of the latter.
What are we fighting against?
Revolutionary anarchist struggle is a social war against everything that suppresses individuality. It is a struggle that sets human being free from old relations. A struggle where an individual can experience new, free and unconditional relations with other people. It is a struggle that forms one’s personality. It helps a person to find strength necessary for uncompromising defense of her interests. A new life is born out of this struggle. But none of us can foresee how this new life will evolve.
Revolutionary anarchist struggle is self-sufficient. There’s no place for musings about the nature of future, because all that is new is born every time another method of fighting the old ways is employed. This social war makes us reconsider our relations with each other – and that is the most important social change that should happen.
Attack is the primary feature of anarchist revolutionary struggle. It must be constant and free of compromises, an attack of any intensity possible. An attack on everything that suppresses and controls individuality. An individual will identify his own targets for attack, because she knows better than anyone else, how her individuality is repressed and where to strike to break free free.
Attack is a social aspect of human’s life. It is a fight for existence, for better life. It is an action that creates new social environment, where new relationships are given birth.
An attack does not define concrete methods of struggle that could be considered signature tools of insurrectionary anarchists. Methods for an attack could be very diverse and they depend on fighting individual herself, on her abilities, strengths and purpose of the attack. Paints, websites, rocks, hammers, molotov cocktails, rifles and explosives – all of the above can be used for an attack on the system.
The term “system” is often used to define state and capital. But I suggest we expand it to include “civilization” itself. Because individuality is suppressed as much by bureaucracy and technology as by modes of production and proprietors of means of production. If dedicated enough, people would probably destroy all the plants near their cities, and it would take them just a few days. We can sabotage roads and bridges and even completely disorganize urban infrastructure, but current society will work hard to rebuilt everything we have destroyed. Thus it is prudent to use the term “civilization” in our rethorics since it includes all aspects of our lives, from production and technology to culture and psychology.
We can take further look at the communitarian movement that is actively evolving in modern-day Russia. It can be secular, it can be religious, or ecologist, but in no way can we call it anarchist or revolutionary. Because all the participants of this movement disapprove of any attack on civilization. It is important to understand that civilization is constant expansion against social life of any human being. Civilization development is in fact a series of constant expansion of frontier and creation of new methods of expansion. Rural areas used to be vibrant with life, but civilization seized them and turned into wastelands. It is neither revolutionary nor anarchist to return or escape to such places that have already been ravaged by civilization (and where it will return again sooner or later, when new dimensions for colonization will be discovered).
So if the movement is not engaged in constant antisocial attack on civilization, sooner or later its members will be forced to adapt to the dominant social conditions (which, in fact, is the way civilization actually destroys forests and lives of small local communities).
So we can see too options: an attack on the civilization and resistance or gradual assimilation and cooptation. One cannot hope to remain a passive onlooker or a deserter in the social war. There’s always a side, the question is, where do you stand.
One of the characteristic feature of the attack that defines it both as anarchist and revolutionary is antisocial struggle. Because the very same methods employed by insurrectionary anarchists can in fact be used for the betterment of civilization and further technological development.
An attack on civilization is antisocial. Any other form of struggle and activism with demands of better life and comfortable living conditions under civilization (i.e., social struggle) only makes the monster we’re fighting against stronger and durable. Social struggle hastens the civilization expansion against everything that still lies “outside”.
Although racism is deemed profitable by employers, civilization would function even better if this source of social discomfort was removed. And although corporations act in a way better described as ecocide, they would reap more benefits and would allow civilization to last longer if only they switch to more “ecological” practices. The civilization itself is keenly interested in social stability and removal of any sharp corners. That’s the reason civilization relies on social struggle – because this struggle is in fact means of sanitation that help fight alien bodies in the organism. Alien bodies that civilization itself creates, but cannot destroy. So social struggle with its attacks is by its nature a form of special cells that keep civilization organism healthy.
Revolutionary anarchist struggle doesn’t seek better form of social interaction under current conditions. We attack all individual and social aspects of civilization, aiming at the liberation of human for future, independent interaction with other human beings. Free society can be built by free individuals only. And let me repeat this one more time, it is through struggle itself that human becomes free.
Everyone engaged in attacks on civilization becomes branded as member of antisocial minority and will be isolated by this society when the moment is right. So revolutionary anarchist struggle cannot depend on the growing numbers, but must rely more on intensity and strength of anticivilization attacks. Human way of life is defined by her surroundings. All thoughts, passions and ideas are born according to social environment. Not the other way around. That’s why anarchist and revolutionary struggle aims at complete destruction of social conditions that suppress personality.
An idea of “enlightenment” is a dangerous misconception of social struggle. It is a dream about the day when all people will suddenly understand the fatal lifestyle they are living, and will rise up as one. And this will be the beginning of new way of life. Such thinking is naive.
The reality is different. So long as social conditions that give a slight impression of stability exist, people appreciate the stability and don’t want to riot. That’s exactly why attack is understood as primary feature of anarchist revolutionary struggle: an individual who chooses to attack civilization has to confront social conditions forced upon her. In the process she will have to create new social conditions. And that’s when new thoughts and ideas are born. Antisocial attack is necessary for destabilizing the system. This leads to the break of stability that has become so familiar. It leads to the change of social relations. High intensity and strength of attacks are deemed necessary so as to prevent from reconstructing of civilization. We need to reach the point of no return.
Books and street art are something much more important in anarchist revolutionary struggle than mere propaganda or enlightenment project. Civilization controls the flow of information. In monopolized and sterile informational space people think in a certain pattern, but in the context of free exchange of information their worldview will change. Thus books and street art can be considered another form of attack on monopolized informational system. We should also mention marches of protests: it is a form of informational struggle as well. One of the methods of spreading information. When discussing perspectives of marches and rallies it is important to take into account what kind of information we want to present and what will be the price of this action. And we shouldn’t forget that this is just one of many ways of spreading anarchist counter-information and destruction of state monopoly.
But one of the primary methods of attack that has been the linchpin of anarchist revolutionary struggle for many generations is sabotage. I speak of direct destruction of civilization infrastructure. It is an important practice because infrastructure of our civilization and social conditions we live in are intrinsically connected. And if a person doesn’t get along well with something and doesn’t want to adapt to social conditions, she should directly attack civilization and its infrastructure.
Sabotage is our main weapon in the social war. Sabotage in any of its aspect still retains attacking feature, no matter how “social oriented” it is, no matter its exact form or tools. Thus a sabotage could be carried out either with Molotov cocktails or a superglue. The exact choice of a weapon depends on anarchist’s imagination and capabilities.
Acts of sabotage ensure that teeth of anarchist resistance remain sharpened: our words (that we spread through publications and street protests) gain additional destructive power. Without sabotage all our attempts at changing the world would be pointless.
Sabotage is probably the most dangerous form of social war for civilization. Because civilization can readily sacrifice people, but it cannot sacrifice property. The most terrible acts during peasant uprisings Russian landowners in Tsar Russia were afraid of was when “peasants released red cock”. We speak of decentralized and chaotic acts of arson that were a popular method of attack on classes of aristocracy and merchants. An uncontrollable spread and intensification of such acts could lead to an unforeseeable future. But in reality civilization is constantly forced to find new energy resources in order to repair everything that gets destroyed. Industrial revolution could have happened only because of introduction of easy-to-access oil and coal. Huge technological advancement was possible thanks to hyper-exploitation of several generations of workers. Thus any destructive acts aimed at civilization and its infrastructure deal a painful blow.
Armed struggle plays an important role in social war. It allows to influence civilization in a radical way. More specifically, it allows to destroy the negative elements that happen in the way of civilization progress. Thus armed struggle by itself doesn’t allow for any change in relationships, it serves the facilitation of social progress under the rule of civilization.
And in the past it was armed struggle that disarmed social war and put an end to “red cock”. Armed peasant uprisings led by Bulavin, Razin or Pugachev ended in nothing but defeat. As much as civilization is afraid of “free” warlords, it is easier to channel any conflict towards conventional warfare as in this case people’s attention is shifted away from the actual social constraints towards senseless physical conflict within our species. Anarchist revolutionary struggle should be something altogether different from armed clashes and warfare of tanks, jets and other arsenal of XXI century. Our struggle cannot be measured in body count, effectiveness of weaponry, munition and the like.
It is not the aim of anarchist revolutionary struggle to physically destroy anybody because any human being is a renewable resource for civilization. And it will gladly sacrifice humans in the first place. But at the same time our struggle is uncompromising, so a certain number of casualties is unavoidable. There will always be those who will throw in with status-quo and we will be forced to bury them along with this world. Not to mention personal vendetta for our comrades. But these are unavoidable extra costs of social war. Armed struggle is not an assault on civilization, but an attempt to entice our movement in a direction that benefits the system.
Anarchist revolutionary struggle can only end on ruins of civilization, not upon heaps of bodies.
But our critique of the armed struggle (which some unscrupulous lefties try to force upon anarchists) doesn’t stem from fear of holding weapons or using them in our fight for liberation. If fighting for our freedom means arming ourselves with firearms, we’ll do it.
One should not confuse an attempt to enforce a concrete method of struggle (armed struggle) with tools we use in our liberation project (firearms and explosives).
Anarchist revolutionary struggle does not propose a unified method or a tool that should be used by everyone. Because anarchist struggle is first and foremost the struggle of different individuals for their personal freedom. And every individual is unique in its character. Coercion and suppression of individuality takes various forms and happens on all levels of our society, so our anticivilization resistance is going to be diverse, with various methods and techniques. Only in such uncompromising fight can we ensure that voices of everyone will be heard and taken into consideration.
Solidarity is the second characteristic feature of anarchist revolutionary struggle. It is as important as attack. Solidarity is not about our approval of this act or that method, so don’t expect all of us to mimic the way in which somebody else has decided to act. Solidarity is condition when an act resonates in other acts, methods and tools of struggle. Various methods get linked together for one common purpose, a new form of mutual support is discovered, our attack spreads to new fronts without violating personal interests of other combatants.
Solidarity is very important when it comes to defending against repressions of civilized state apparatus. After the blows reach certain threshold, civilization immediately tries to destroy guerrilla groups by force, it tries to attack us head-on. And without solidarity this approach can grow to huge and brutal proportions. But it becomes petty and ineffective if an attempt to repress one individual or a group by force is met with chain reaction of solidarity activity and appearance of new revolutionary and anarchist groups and projects.
Yet there is another method employed by the state in the fight against anarchists: a passive solidarity approach is enforced. This happens when after a failure at frontal assault civilization pretends to look for compromise and makes us believe it is willing to negotiate. Upon one condition: put an end to all attacks on civilization and disarm all militant groups (i.e., activists should either step down and give themselves over, or voice their disapproval of radical methods and turn comrades over). This is necessary in order for civilization to resume its pressure on the movement with renewed force after guerrilla groups have been dealt with during negotiation phase. After having separated pacifists from radical anarchists, state can attempt targeted attacks without any fear of stirring a wave of solidarity.
When we adopt uncompromising stance, state turns to “bribery”. This happens when attacks continue and offers of negotiation and compromise are ignored. Civilization can opt for an almost complete withdrawal from one field of struggle to pool its resources for a counter-attack on another. This tactic is a success, because many of us want to believe in their methods of struggle as the most effective ones. That their chosen field of struggle is the most important one. And we (as anarchists) may sometimes hope that we’ve found a weak spot in the belly of the beast, and that everyone should join the effort, this final push. Other groups may have different view on the matter and they stick to their own tactics, refusing to bet everything on one attack. This may lead to bad feelings and misunderstanding between different groups. And even to disappearance of any feelings of solidarity between them. This is just another example of how system uses divide et impera principle in order to continue its attack on liberation movement and expansion against individuality with renewed force.
This is the strategy used by civilization: compromise and dialogue are an attempt to stall our attacks, and bribery (with fake successes) destroys our solidarity. After these steps a new wave of repression follows.
It should be taken into consideration that civilization is very soft, it can allow itself to change form and compensate our pressure by channeling the pressure to other aspects of human life (where resistance is not deemed necessary). So in order to destroy this substance we don’t need a strong push at one point. We need to apply force in multiple points throughout all fabric of civilization.
Solidarity between attacking individuals and groups is as dangerous for civilization as attacks themselves. That is why the system tries to destroy our solidarity lines first, and counter-attack later.
(quite often we speak of infrastructure, but in this instance both terms are used as synonyms)
For insurrectionary struggle communication is not means of recruiting new combatants, but something that reinforces already existing groups and helps intensify our attacks, helps strengthen ties of solidarity. Recruiting of neophytes is pointless in anarchist revolutionary struggle. New people and future militants come to the movement not because of strength of our propaganda but because social conditions get worse and this makes people rebel. Civilization itself creates fertile soil for insurrection. In this regard we can speak of two options open for antiauthoritarians: either they try to lessen social strain and help civilization or they go for antisocial activism and try to bring social strain to its climax, make civilization explode so that it can’t function anymore.
One of the problem with social struggle is that new-comers can’t join resistance and are oftentimes stuck with protecting civilization ideals. This makes communication and coordination between guerrilla groups more difficult. But there can be no new-comers in antisocial anarchist revolutionary struggle, because an individual rising up against civilization cannot be a new-comer in her suppression and her own rebellion. There can be no new-comers or professional revolutionaries in our struggle. A human being simply cannot fight for her own interests in amateur or professional way. Once a person goes on to directly attack civilization, she had already found enough strength and certainty within herself. And she doesn’t need elaborate infrastructure.
A question of communication is a question of how we, those who have already chosen their side in this war, cooperate with each other. FAI (Informal Anarchist Federation) is a network of numerous different groups that communicate with the free flow of information, oftentimes within communiques for various actions. This allows to coordinate between already active guerrilla groups as well as introduce new individuals and collectives into the project. Free flow of information is not a technical term (we do not speak of Internet or telegraph), but a censure-free (free from both civilization control and any third-party, including site administration) distribution of news by any means necessary with any medium available.
Guerrilla infrastructure appears as a consequence of actual fighting in the streets. Thus it depends on intensity of our struggle, on the degree of confrontation with civilization. It cannot be planned out beforehand, thought over and launched. We should understand that communication (infrastructure) by itself cannot nudge people in the revolutionary direction. Unless an individual has already started upon her personal war with civilization, any form of revolutionary and anarchist infrastructure is useless for her. It cannot make other people join our fight through beauty of our words or appeal of images.
One particular problem stands out when we speak of communication. The problem of interaction with anarchist organizations.
In this instance by organization we understand a pre-defined infrastructure aimed at constant strengthening of propaganda that allows for a steady influx of neophytes who in turn further strengthen organization.
This definition is important. Because in general, of course, even affinity-groups can be thought of as organizations (with another means of interaction, but organizations nevertheless). Any form of human cooperation can of course be thought of in organizational terms. But for our talk we want to narrow the definition a bit. So we’ll be talking about “a formal group of people who interact with each other within a pre-determined set of relations, roles and organizational documents.” Such structures are created by people who still believe that only a very strong and very numerous organization can make a great rebellion come true, show the path to social revolution and bring everyone to another world.
Any activist seems to have three options. First one is critique of organization. Second one is critique of insurrectionary struggle. And third one is an attempt to compromise. A critique by itself is a good thing, unless it gets in the way of struggle. But those who focus on critique often start searching for compromise. And those who have already armed themselves for anticivilization project, must remember that they should never compromise with anyone!
Formal organization is the last resort of social struggle, where activists are made to believe that things are not that bad in reality, that with a little bit of organizational activism civilization can be changed, it can become more humane-green-anarchist-revolutionary-communist-socialist-just-feminist-antiracist etc. In the end this very activism destroys the last illusions about compromise and humane struggle.
Adherents of compromising between insurrectionary activity and organizational activism tend to avoid one important issue: that of the personal security of an activist. Organizations are possessed with constant growth in numbers, they totally ignore individual needs for security and secrecy. Any form of cooperation with organizations leads to a breach in security of guerrilla fighter. Organizations are not designed to take into account the fact that guerrilla warriors engaged in attacks on civilization of various intensity and strength have personal security needs. Whereas within insurrectionary project we by the very nature of our coordination cannot stick our noses too deep into other groups’ activity. And considering the fact that we cannot reliably know the extent of our enemies knowledge, it is safe to assume that everyone of us may fall victim to a repressive attack at one time or another. So it is impossible to ignore the issue of security culture even for those activists who “are not engaged in any activity of this kind” yet. Organizational fetishism and search for compromise with leftist organizations can only lead to attracting more state attention towards guerrilla activity.
If organizations could somehow adapt so that they pay more attention to individual security and covert operations, there would be no compromise to seek between us and them.
But since they do not make any steps in this direction, militant activists are forced to completely abandon all relations with organizations, and sometimes with the larger anarchist movement itself. There can’t be a compromise on the matter.
Below is a chronology of insurrectionary actions carried out in Russia in 2010 and 2011 from anarchist website From Russia With Love. Love and force to the comrades in Russia!
26 april. A Department of Interrogation (Ministry of Interior) set on fire in Moscow, Bolshaya Butirskaya street, 7A.
27 april. Windows smashed, smoke bombs thrown inside a business-center at Sadovnicheskaya street in Moscow. The building houses offices of animal abuse corporations, including HLS, and Raiffeisen bank.
29 april. Windows smashed, smoke bombs thrown inside police post at Otkritoe highway, 17-9, Moscow.
1 may. 4 banks firebombed at Hachaturyan street, Moscow.
1 may. windows smashed, smoke bombs thrown inside police post at Profsoyuznaya street, 130-4, Moscow.
2 may. Windows smashed at the ruling party (“United Ru$$ia”) office: Moscow, Azovskaya street, 33.
6 may. A police car torched at Chechulin street, 7, Moscow.
9 may. Grader and 2 generators torched, gas canisters expropriated in Butovsky forest south of Moscow.
26 may. Highway police garage torched: Moscow, Akademik Glushko street, 13.
11 june. “United Ru$$ia” ruling party office torched in Moscow, Plesheeva street, 22.
9 july. A dozer in Khimki forest (north of Moscow) torched.
18 july. Another dozer torched in Khimki forest.
21 july. A water pump expropriated in Butovsky forest.
28 july. 500 anarchists and antifascists opened fire with less-then-lethal weapons on Khimki municipal building, smashed windows and threw smoke bombs inside.
29 july. Windows and glass doors smashed in Sberbank of Russia in southern Moscow (bank is responsible for financing tree-cuts).
1 august. Another office of Sberbank has its windows and doors smashed in southern Moscow.
19 september. Dozen of police cars torched at technical service parking near Moscow.
1 october. Minsk highway blocked with burning tires in solidarity with Belarus imprisoned anarchists. 5 october. Police post firebombed in Moscow (Presnenskii val, 38).
18 october. Wheeled dozer torched at a clear-cut in Butovsky forest, Moscow.
Mid-october. Land Cruiser Prado belonging to a senior police officer torched in Moscow.
Beginning of november. Police post in southern Moscow (Chertanovo district) attacked with paint bombs.
1 november. Police HQ of Hovrino district firebombed (Moscow, Petrozavodskaya 2)
4 november. A minivan belonging to right-wing political party “Nabat” torched in the center of Moscow (near Barrikadnaya metro station).
16 november. An excavator torched in Cagovsky forest clear-cut near Zhukovskiy.
19 november. Police post torched in Nizhnii Novgorod.
End of november. Police HQ of Otradnoe district firebombed in Moscow.
3 december. Gaz station belonging to “Lukoil” firebombed in Moscow (Bolshaya Filevskaya street).
12 december. A fake bomb placed at the “United Ru$$ia” office in Sokolniky district of Moscow.
15 december. Military draft office is firebombed in Obninsk.
23 december. Tracked dozer torched in Opaliha near Moscow.
30 december. Wheeled dozer torched in Opaliha near Moscow.
1 january. An office of “United Ru$$ia” firebombed in St. Petersburg.
1 january. 2 excavators and road scraper torched in forest near Minsk higway in Moscow region.
19 january. Constructing pavilion torched in wildlife sanctuary in Moscow.
22 january. Bobcat tractor torched in wildlife sanctuary in Moscow.
22 january. Posh cottage housing construction torched near lake Lesnoe near Moscow in the forest.
27 january. 2 dozers torched in Bitsevskiy park in Moscow.
8 february. Police car torched after cops have left it for 3 minutes in the Ostrovityanova street, Moscow.
19 february. Caterpillar dozer torched in Khimki forest in Moscow region.
19 february. Posh cottage under construction and an electric transformator torched in wildlife sanctuary in Moscow region.
23 february. Military draft office firebombed in Moscow.
The end of february. Police cars torched on the parking in Moscow.
2 march. Police station firebombed in Moscow.
3, 5 march. 2 cars of functionaries who are in response of forest cutting torched in Moscow.
12 march. Another Sberbank office firebombed in Moscow.
25 march. Subary Tribeca belonging to a policeman torched in Moscow.
4 april. Koptevskiy and Vidnovsky military draft offices firebombed in Moscow and Moscow region.
5 april. Excavator torched on Minsk higway.
9 april. Burrowing vehicle torched on the Golubinskaya street in Moscow. It was used in construction of block houses for foreign intelligence officers.
20 april. Tree harvester torched in Khimki forest.
25 april. Police station firebombed in Moscow.
28 april. Hummer belonging to policeman torched in Moscow.
29 april. S-class Mercedes belonging to a prosecutor torched in Moscow.
1 may. Audi premium-class belonging to FSB (ex-KGB) officer torched in Moscow.
1 may. Military draft office firebombed in northern Moscow.
4 may. Tree harvester torched in Khimki forest.
18 may. Police car torched on parking lot.
20 may. S-class Mercedes belonging to policeman is torched in southern Moscow.
29 may. Woodcutters’ lodges firebombed in Khimki forest.
1 june. Electric equipment belonging to foreign intelligence service torched in underground booths of Butovsky forest, Moscow region.
5 june. Tracked excavator torched near Volokolamskoe highway, Moscow.
6, 10 june. Construction equipment sabotaged in Butovskiy forest.
7 june. Highway police post bombed in Moscow.
11 june. More electric equipement in even more underground service booths is torched in Butovskiy forest.
16 june. Luxury Dodge and Mercedes torched in the centre of Moscow.
19 june. Dozer torched in Khimki forest.
21 june. Toyota/Lexus car dealership bombed in Moscow. 3 Lexuses and 1 Toyota completely destroyed by the explosion.
22 june. Demonstrating cottage torched in wild life sanctuary in Moscow region.
23 june. Police station firebombed in southern Moscow.
6 july. Police station firebombed in south-western Moscow.
22 july. “United Ru$$ia” ruling party office firebombed in western Moscow.
5 august. Construction vehicle torched in the wood-cutting area in St. Petersburg region.
21 august. Police station firebombed in Moscow.
23 august. Police cars torched on the parking lot in Khimki.
29 august. 2 dozers torched at the construction site in forest near St. Petersburg.
31 august. Police car torched in St. Petersburg.
21 september. Police station firebombed in Ukraine in Kharkov.
28 september Cadillac torched in Moscow.
8 october. 2 police cars torched in Troitsk, Moscow region.
15 october. Policeman and his wife’s luxury cars torched in Volsk.
11 november. Excavator torched in the forest cutting area in the park of St. Petersburg
30 november. Rangers car gets caught in a road-spiking trap at night in a hunting area of Moscow region.
4 december. Constructing vehicles torched in Khimki forest.
8 december. “United Ru$$ia” office firebombed in Ufa.
9 december. Police car torched in Moscow.
22 december. “United Ru$$ia” office firebombed in the eastern Moscow.
24 december. “United Ru$$ia” office firebombed in Ufa.
24 december. “United Ru$$ia” office got its windows smashed in Krasnodar.