Dear Organise 54

I am writing in order to respond to the points raised in Organise #53
to our Seattle/WTO report [reprinted from We Dare Be Free #6]. Basically,
I wanted to first say that this article was not intended to act as a
critical analysis of the Battle of Seattle, but rather as a first-hand
account of the frontlines of action, written from a militant anarchist
perspective.

Outside of the small minority of explicitly revolutionary
anti-capitalists (black bloc anarchists, wobblies, Peoplesí Assembly,
revolutionary socialists, etc.), the Seattle anti-WTO protests contained
thousands of demonstrators whose politics ranged from an
ultra-conservative protectionism to a well meaning (if not slightly
confused) liberal reformism. It would be entirely false to claim that the
protest movement that came out of Seattle was solidly grounded in a
class-based, anti-capitalist, anti-State political framework. However,
rather than following the lead of many sectarian Leninist groups and
denounce this movement on the basis of the political shortcomings of its
mainstream participants, many revolutionary anarchists have made it a
priority to organise within the direct action wing of the movement
(which, though tactically more radical than its mainstream counterparts,
still contains a high level of political ambiguity and liberalism, even
among many so-called anarchists), and agitate for the sort of
revolutionary framework we would like to see this movement eventually
embrace on a large-scale.

To some degree, we can begin to see some positive results stem from
these efforts. Many seemingly liberal protesters did indeed walk away
from Seattle radicalised, and subsequently, as can be seen in the A16
protests that occurred in Washington, DC last April, the globalisation
debate has shifted from being simply anti-corporate to questioning all
aspects of the capitalism.

Another point that was raised in your editorial was over our
acceptance of autonomous acts of resistance that are somehow divorced
from the experience of the working class. Not being one to objectify the
working class as some abstract, homogenous entity, I find it difficult to
determine the appropriateness of a certain action using such an ambiguous
gauge. The United States has a long and illustrious history of class
violence, however, I would think that this history is also "divorced from
the experience of the working class", as it is constituted today. I donít
know, I come from a solidly working class background, and I personally
feel a sense of empowerment when I hear that some exploitative corporation
got a firebomb lobbed through their window. If we are to develop a strong
culture of resistance within our class, we should be prepared to place
these sorts of action within a class perspective where their significance
can be understood. Obviously, we need to maintain a definitive stand
against irresponsible acts of terrorism where human life is compromised,
however, I see little reason why autonomous forms of direct action
against the property of the capitalist class should not be supported.
The last point that was brought up was around the question of the
left and the unclear usage of this term in our article. In my opinion,
this is a very important point to clarify, since there has been ongoing
controversy on both sides of the Atlantic around this subject. Basically,
for me, the left designates a fairly broad tradition of progressive
social movements and ideas that embrace some form of progressive social
change, economic democracy (socialism), or social justice. To some
extent, this could include everything from revolutionary anarchism to
classical liberalism to Marxian socialism to single-issue advocacy groups
(anti-poverty, environmental, human rights, prison reform, etc.). When I
speak about the left-protest movement, in no way is this confined to
non-libertarians, but rather to the very broad definition of ALL groups
and tendencies that are struggling for some form of social justice or
progressive social change (even as fucked as most Marxist-Leninists are,
they still convince themselves that they are fighting for an equalisation
of classes and some form of socialistic economy). As far as I know, the
actual usage of the term predates Marx by at least 50 years.

In this country, there is a growing tendency within the anarchist
movement (mainly in the primitivist, green, post-situationist, and
individualist anarchist milieus) which calls for an abandonment of the
left. What this essentially translates to, as far as I can tell, is an
abandonment of direct participation within social movements or popular
struggles, in favour of... well, to tell you the truth, I canít quite tell
what sorts of options are presented as viable revolutionary alternatives
to Ďleftismí (other than isolated acts of random rebellion). Basically,
publications such as Fifth Estate and Anarchy, and writers such as John
Zerzan, Hakim Bey, Jason McQuinn, Alex Trotter and Bob Black have used
their anti-left position as a platform to attack class struggle
anarchism (or Ďsocial anarchismí), specific revolutionary anarchist
organisations (Love & Rage), syndicalists (IWW, IWA), social ecologists
(Murray Bookchin), and essentially anyone who according to them carries
the residue of Marxism (ie class-based politics). Since Bookchinís
Lifestyle Anarchism vs. Social Anarchism: An Unbridgeable Chasm was
published, the anti-left position has become rather popular within a growing number of
anarchist circles, especially among younger, counter culture anarchists
who see this position as more attractive and accommodating than
Bookchinís somewhat rigid form of social anarchism.

Needless to say, the anti-left position has created more than a
few obstacles for class struggle politics to take solid root within the
anarchist movement here in the States, and comes in direct conflict with
groups such as NEFAC who are looking to popularise these politics.
Hopefully it is just a passing trend...

Well, thatís about it for now. Solidarity and revolution...

MaRK (We Dare Be Free, Sabate Anarchist Group, NEFAC)

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