A lovely event space, or as lovely as a cold theater/warehouse space can be. Bright graffiti on the walls, people dressed up in a mixture of thrift store fabulous and job interview/funeral attire. An emcee who directed over a dozen different anarchist luminaries to present and present awards for the variety of “big awards” which received a statue and the “honorable mentions” who received or are going to receive a certificate of recognition.
Food was served. It only had a few vegan options. There were no beverages (what’s up with that?!).
By the end of the evening the attitude of querulous hesitation was replaced by a strangely positive feeling of gezelligheid. Given that what had just transpired was the Anarchist News awards the expectation was probably of pure hostility to the anarchist project. Instead there was something else. Something complicated and positive. We then staggered into the night.
Anarchist News is a few months shy of 10 years old and in Internet and anarchist (and Internet) years that is an eternity. The point of Anarchist News was to correct the excesses of moderation of the then dominant source of Anarchist News and discussion. What wasn’t known at that time was how, given enough time and popularity a site like anarchist news, or infoshop, or anarkismo reflects and refracts the audience that uses the site.
In the case of Anarchist News there is no doubt that posting anonymous communiques, theoretical essays, and activism-only-when-it-uses-the-word-anarchist have influenced North American anarchism over the past decade. During the peak of interest in anarchism the site was receiving between six and ten thousand unique visitors a day and MSM portrayals of anarchists, including a cameo in the movie The East, often included screen-shots of @news as a high bar.
Even at today’s low point of interest there continues to be a hard core of visitors and users who fill the site with their commentary and energy. The site percolates even when the world as a whole seems exhausted by the implications of what anarchism entails (or maybe that’s just me).
But this exhaustion does seem to be a fair term to describe our time. As anarchists are partisans of doing the unpopular even in the face of sure defeat, especially when success can’t even be contemplated, we come together tonight to celebrate anarchism and the anarchists who practice it. We are partisans of an impossible dream, which is that people can and will choose freedom. This freedom-choosing makes us do strange things, block google buses, excoriate others for our shared fate of not winning or having a winning strategy, and argue with each other online. This arguing doesn’t make us unique either on the Internet or in politics but, at least in the past few years, it has seemed to make us particularly demoralized…
This evening is going to be an attempt to use the positive aspect of being a meeting place for North American anarchism to highlight inspiring, funny, and true anarchist stories in 2013. We will be offering posters to people, places, and projects we have found interesting and exciting in 2013. We will offer statues to the six winners of the Anarchist News awards later this evening. These awards include:
- Most indomitable prisoner
- Best smashy event of 2013
- Best non-smashy event of 2013
- Best communiqué of 2013
- Best @news commentator
Finally will be the 2013 award for the best Anarchist News troll. This is not an individual who spends hours every day spraying thousands of words at all interlocutors, but one who, through spirit and action, has represented what anarchists do best. Troll the system, troll the world, and refuse to be broken by it!
Best Ally to Anarchists: non-anarchist
It’s hard to say what makes a good ally to anarchist. Perhaps for most of us it is someone who helps with bail, serves us a warm meal, or makes us laugh. But in general our allies are more contingent, like an academic who only acknowledges us as a history lesson, but at least accepts our analysis as within the scope of the possible, or a politician who uses our actions to present the extreme wing of their positions and then speaks as the “reasonable dealmakers” that they are, or a bureaucrat who condescends to us (which sometimes works to our benefit but at the cost of being managed by them).
These contingent allies are frequently journalists whose relationships to us, while never selfless, can be positive for us in a way that isn’t necessarily cloying and/or toxic. To highlight one journalist in particular is not difficult; The Stranger’s Brendan Kiley did consistently decent-to-good reporting on both anarchist motivation and thinking around actions in the Seattle area, and they did a fantastic job of activist journalism around grand juries in general and grand jury resistance in the Pacific Northwest in particular (around May Day 2012 specifically).
Here is an example of the low bar that mainstream media has to achieve in its reporting to be seen as our ally:
Either way, those few chaotic moments on May Day 2012 in Seattle probably achieved more than the window-smashers could’ve hoped for. The demonstrations kicked open a yearlong, citywide debate about protest and targeted property damage, anarchism, and the Occupy movement. They also instigated a series of early-morning raids on “known” anarchists (as described in sealed search warrants later obtained by The Stranger), some of whom were already under surveillance by the FBI. A few people who weren’t even in Seattle on May Day were jailed for months—including stints in solitary confinement—for refusing, Bartleby-like, to answer questions about other people’s political beliefs. (In Herman Melville’s story, Bartleby’s quiet refusal to comply—his infamous “I would prefer not to”—also lands him in prison.)
-From You Know a May Day Protest Was Successful When… The FBI Is Still Following People Around a Year Later
Katherine Olejnik and Matt Duran are the direct beneficiaries of Kiley’s reporting. His sympathetic story of their time in prison humanized them as individuals and accurately connected anarchists to the broader conversation about the role of grand juries.
Two prominent anarchists passed in 2013. Audrey Goodfriend who lived in Berkeley California and George Sossenko lived in Atlanta and was a veteran of the Spanish Civil War. Here is a little bit about Audrey from the obituary in the slingshot paper.
George Sossenko was a Russian-born American lecturer and activist. At age 17, he left his parent’s home in Paris, France, to join those fighting against Francisco Franco’s nationalist forces in the Spanish Civil War. He initially went to the offices of the French Communist Party, but was turned away, and then denied by the Socialists as well. They suggested he contact the anarchists, who sent him across the Spanish border in a caravan. He was sent to Barcelona, then received one week’s worth of military training before being sent to the front. During the Civil War, Sossenko changed his name to Georges Jorat to avoid being found by his parents, and fought as part of the Sébastien Faure Century, the French-speaking contingent of the Durruti Column. After the Civil War, Sossenko later fought in World War II with the Free French.
Audrey Goodfriend was an anarchist her entire life. Born to anarchist immigrants in New York, Audrey grew up speaking Yiddish at home and lived in the Sholem Aleichem House; a radical cooperative housing project in the Bronx. She was a girl when Sacco and Vanzetti were executed in Boston in 1927 and their letters were instrumental in shaping her anarchism, continuing to move her throughout her life.
As an adolescent and young adult, Audrey sent care packages to anarchist comrades fighting in Spain, read Living My Life against the express wishes of her parents who felt it was too sexually explicit, and traveled to Toronto with a friend to have tea with Emma Goldman. During World War II, she was part of the Why? Group, a publishing collective that printed an anti-war anarchist periodical at a time when many radicals were choosing to support the state in what they saw as a just war against fascism. Anti-zionist since before there ever was a state of Israel, Audrey and her comrades believed strongly that no state violence was ever justified.
In 1946, after the war, she went on a speaking tour with her partner David Koven and some friends from their circle to raise money for the anti-draft movement. They ended up in San Francisco and decided to stay. They knew Paul Goodman and Kenneth Rexroth and were part of a generation of anarchists who laid the groundwork for the cultural movements that defined San Francisco in the fifties and sixties. Audrey told me once that she was too busy raising children to pay much attention to the beat generation, but followed this by saying she had attended the event where Ginsberg read Howl for the first time. Raising her two daughters directed Audrey’s interests toward anarchist education and the Modern School movement, leading her to help found the Walden School in Berkeley in 1958.
Audrey always said she did not celebrate holidays; they were too tied up with god and the state for her taste. She did, however, love to celebrate birthdays and New Year’s Day because they were about people and life and making it through another year. I biked over to Audrey’s house a few weeks ago. She showed me some of her books and we talked about her life a lot. She did not seem to romanticize or regret any of it; she spoke of her own death without fear and was able to laugh, listen and be present with me as I spoke about myself. A week and a half later she went to the theater, came home raving about it, went to sleep, and passed away. She never stopped being an active part of our lives until she stopped altogether.
And she never voted and she never married and she never believed in the authority of god or country; and she was happy and present, well loved and a joy to know.
Best Anarchist Audio
Anarchists have a long way to go before we have what can truly be considered a multimedia approach to information transmission. Actually, we do well to write an essay, a zine, or maybe a booklet about our perspectives. And for those who do not consume information by reading it is very difficult to learn much about anarchists because, by and large, anarchists’ chosen format for communication is writing.
One of the few exceptions to this is John Zerzan, who has produced a radio show out of Eugene, Oregon consistently for over a decade. (Of course, his show emphasizes his own perspective and is necessarily constrained.)
But recently, out of Asheville, North Carolina has come the Final Straw radio show and podcast, which has done a fantastic, and consistent, job of transmitting to a broader audience, information about a wider variety of anarchist ideas.
Some of their shows emphasized people like Sean Swain, Luke O’Donovan, CC McDonald, Oscar Wilde, and issues like nihilism, radical parenting, anti-civilization, modern slavery, the ZAD, and groups like anarchists against the wall from Israel, and anarchists in Spain.
This certificate is to honor the work of Bursts o’ Goodness, the named person behind this project, and their work on the Final Straw radio show.
Best Anarchist News meme 2013
2013 was not a fantastic year for anarchist memes. In years past anarchistnews memes wove themselves through stories and around the comment section with cleverness. In 2013 many of our memes (including liberal, keating!, and google buses) were more or less one-word declarations of a complex set of more or less exhausted issues.
That said, Anarchist News would not be successful at its triple threat of topicality, discussion, and humor if not for the memes. During the past five years memes have been a demonstration of visual comedy in that it shows an intersection between mainstream culture (or least mainstream Internet culture), and how anarchists conceive of our own activity. We accept the humdrum activity that we often do, serving food or demonstrations, because we frame it within compelling mythology.
Emile is most prolific commenter. His multi-thousand word comments are testaments to either a machine-like typing capacity, a master copy and paste-er, or a victim of a serious obsessive-compulsive disorder. Probably all three.
The memetastic response to emile in the form of the multicharacter play emilebot, EMILE9000, Dr Pedersen and company is worth note because of how seriously it takes a subject matter and the commitment it brings to the joke. To put it differently, emile is nearly impossible to respond to because his wall-of-text commenting style is the opposite of dialogue. To engage in dialogue requires an escalation, in form and content, which is exactly what the emile9000 crew accomplish.
Best Anarchist Drama of 2013
We would like to honor and mention bookfair drama in 2013 (or perhaps we wouldn’t but here we are…)
It is a sad fact that the most exciting things that happened in the anarchist space in 2013 were also destructive to the anarchist space. There is perhaps a story to be told about the cycle of social movements. When the aging SF anarchist book fair moved locations last year, it was clear there would be unforeseen consequences to that move. When people discovered that the move was to the large warehouse space owned by Kink.com in the heart of the gentrifying mission district, it was obvious where the lines of conflict were going to be drawn.
Feminist, author, and fellow traveler Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz drew the first line in the sand declaring that, at least for radical feminists, the 2013 SF anarchist book fair was anathema. The Internet caught fire, names were called, and people acted like they cared about something that in fact nobody really cared about it all. Sidebar drama included an alternative book fair to the SF one, a strange plea to authority by Book Fair organizers against homes not jails, and the high-level of jocular security agents patrolling the typically tame SF bookfair.
The San Francisco drama is a notable for foreshadowing a similar one in NYC. Unlike in SF, where there was at least a veneer of political relevance, the New York drama was entirely about personalities. Perhaps that is not quite true. There were real live members of the self-identified NATA group who did show up at the event (and received a knuckle sandwich or two for their effort) but mostly the sound and fury was about the cluelessness of the book fair organizers on how to deal with the rhetorical hyperbole of the time. Especially with the amplification of the Internet (and Anarchist News is of course implicated here) disliked members of our community can quickly become pariahs and pariahs are often punished merely for not disappearing quickly enough.
There are of course problems with bookfair drama, but it is also undeniably a demonstration of life. The fact that people actually care enough about the political context of a commercial event says something interesting about the anarchist space. Perhaps it is that we had an abundance of caring and too few circumstances in which to apply it. Possibly our smooth political environment of failure requires striation and will get it one way or another. Or that the book fair form is no longer serving our need as anarchists for a place to meet with no possibility of getting arrested.
In honor of opening these discussions we celebrate the organizers of the San Francisco and New York city book fair.
Best Communique – honorable mention
The power in the communique is in the fact that it states a subterranean desire with a punctuation mark. It may not be the exclamation mark, or even a period, but even a comma writ large is more of a mark than we make as we wait for the morning train, during lunch waiting for packaged crap, or at night as are entertained and lulled back to sleep. Comma’s are not weapons but pauses. Perhaps a general way to reset our feet for the next attack. This communique stands out as a cry to generalize what seems impossible.
Now Is Always The Time: A Communique To All Youth With Rebellion In Their Hearts – by SFI
We are a group based in Porltand, Oregon. We are an inssurrectionary post-leftist group who believe that now is the time, we are writing this to inspire rebellion. We are a new group, and, given our name, we are also young. Unions are not the way to go for youth, nor is liberalism. We will talk about what we have done, and about what you can do. Don’t buy into false leadership of the left, and don’t let them tell you that now is not the time to attack. Now is always the time to attack! We have waged several attacks. From aramark the prison profiteers who provide our school lunches, to gentrifying apartment blocks that were set ablaze.
We refuse to buy into false unity. We only have affinity with those who want to destroy rather than control. If you are young and reading this hurry! Attack before the left tells you not to, attack before your parents ship you away to college. Use your youthful spirit of rebellion and leave flames behind you! “Hurry to play. Hurry to arm yourself.” -Alfredo M. Bonanno Take his words to heart as we have. Trust in yourself and your comrades. Let everyone know that you cannot be controlled. Let the left know that you are not a revolutionary, but a destroyer. Let the police know that you are their enemy. Let the politicians know that they are not our leaders, but our enemies. Most importantly, have faith within yourself.
Go now and grab some comrades, don the infamous black clothing and attack like we have. There are soooo many targets in portland. Be it aramark located at 777 NE Martin Luther King Jr Blvd Portland. Or even the Portland Public School Districts main building located at Ne Dixon street and N larrabee ave. Hold night time smashy smashy events and pass by these places! Hold illegal dance parties and have fun. Start a paper and agitate within schools. Don’t start a union, start a rebellion! The schools will not care about what you want, you must take what you want! Go go go!
Sincerely- SFI (students for insurection)
Best New City
Over the past decade, one of the more interesting phenomena has included watching the growth of small, sometimes ferocious anarchist spaces in towns where one would never expect them. This has been surprising enough when it’s in Midwest college towns, but it’s downright shocking when in towns deep in the South. Atlanta does have the advantage of being fairly close to North Carolina (and other towns with larger populations of anarchists) but what is great about watching Atlanta come into its own is the way that it has created its own mythology.
In their essay “DON’T DIE WONDERING: Atlanta against the police,” the introduction ends by speaking to this synthetic intentionality [what synthetic intentionality? Introduce what you mean by this] with all the beauty that is impossible in the established coastal US cities.
It’s important to avoid escalating too quickly to avoid marginalizing ourselves in a growing movement. But once things begin stagnating, much less shrinking, it can prove to be more strategic to just go all out, pushing the struggle to its absolute limit, rather than trying to preserve it forever, which is just a slow way of dying. This may end whatever momentum still exists and piss people off at the time, but if things are ending anyway, why not risk it all to set off a potential chain reaction that will either spin things in a new direction, or at least set the bar high for next time.
This was in reference to a series of anarchist-involved anti-police events that happened in parallel to the Occupy Movement events of the 2011/2012 period but other events worth mentioning from Atlanta over the past few years include the occupation of a University building at Emory, noise demos (Egypt, against rape, antifa, etc), and a vigorous and distinctive publishing project.
2013 started with a bang in Atlanta with the attack and self-defense of local partisan Luke O’Donovan. Against at least a half a dozen apparent homophobic fools, Luke defended himself by knife while also being stabbed, arrested, and eventually charged with the crime of defending himself.
In recognition of its fantastic spirit, of Luke O’Donovan, of participation in camover, demos, and for continuing to stoke the flames of anarchist passion in a time where many towns have barely embers… we honor Atlanta GA!
The main awards
These are the winners of the first annual Anarchist News awards as decided by the readers (and survey filler-outers) of Anarchist News. If you are unhappy with the results you only have yourselves to blame.
Best Communique of 2013
We live in a time when freedom of speech has become irrelevant. There are so many words, such an avalanche, that words themselves have to be called into question. We have to consider it possible that words are not enough. It is perhaps the highest sign of liberal democracy that words with no consequence have been raised to the level of a holy sacrament.
For anarchists a communiqué is a demonstration of the opposite. It says that our words have consequence, they may be mere, but they are not nothing. They cannot be entirely ignored.
On November 8th of 2011, biotechnologist Ernesto Méndez Salinas, who works in the Biotechnology Institute at UNAM in the city of Cuernavaca in Morelos, was assassinated by a shot to the head.
The Individualities Tending toward the Wild (ITW) have taken responsibility for this action along with an explosive attack on the Institute of Biotechnology of UNAM. As portions of this communiqué lay clear the ITS is not protesting, it is attacking the techno-industrial system and the scientists who build it.
All the texts that ITS has made public are not for society to “wake up and decide to attack the system,” they are not to forcibly change what the others think, nothing like this is intended; the lines we write are for the intelligent, strong individuals who decide to see reality in all its rawness, for those few who form, think and carry out the sensible critique of the highest expression of domination–the Techno-industrial System (a).
And so that our words, critiques, clarifications and statements are made known as they have been spread up to now, we have decided (until now) to take the next step, which has been to attack and try to kill the key persons who make the system improve itself.
This is the only viable way for radical critiques to emerge in the public light, making pressure so this discourse comes to the surface. We are extremists and we act as such, without compassion, without remorse, taking any means to reach our objectives
What’s said is said.
Complex technology is the problem that has afflicted us as a species since the expansion of Civilization. Here it is necessary to say that there are two kinds of technology–complex and simple technology; an example of the latter were (or are) the utensils and tools employed by primitive man during the paleolithic and part of the neolithic, which helped him survive and which some cultures undoubtedly still use to hunter, gather, shelter and defend themselves.
ITS have always positioned ourselves against modern Technology, complex technology, which drives the destruction of Wild (human) Nature.
Because if Technology does not stop, neither will ITS!
Many anarchists also position themselves against law and order. But, (again) are order and law always bad? ITS (again) thinks not.
In Wild Nature everything has an order, everything is self-regulated, there is a circle that repeats infinite times so that the natural equilibrium keeps its course and is not lost.
An example: The tree grows, the rain gives it strength, the moon makes it so there is humidity in the environment and new plants may germinate; the tree drops fruits that in turn are eaten by the herbivorous animals and their young so they grow in a future, these herbivorous animals are hunted by carnivorous and omnivorous (human) animals, the meat is for them and their young, the surplus is devoured by scavenging animals and brought to their young, the earth is nourished with what is finally left. A bird comes to the aforementioned tree and brings what it needs for its nest, while the bird flies, a seed falls where the earth is fertile and everything begins again.
From the beginning of time everything has been ruled by the natural order, until Civilization came and changed everything. Everything turned into disorder, chaos.
From this idea that everything in Wild Nature has an order, and because we say that we obey this order and these natural laws, those who disobey these natural statutes are confined to obeying the system (n) and denying their human nature (ñ).
ITS categorically rejects the chaos of Civilization and ferociously defends the order of Wild Nature.
We will not send out “greetings of support and solidarity” with people who are or are not related with our immediate circle of afines, whether they are incarcerated or have died, we do not see it as strategic in any way.
On the other hand, anarchists of the nihilist-insurrectionalist stripe have for some time called through the internet, written propaganda, etc, that they give “direct support” to their compañeros who have fallen into prison, wounded or even dead. This is how these anarchists’ network has become stronger year after year. Although this has repercussions for some anarchists who have prison records or who only disseminate their communiques on blogs (as happened in Italy), it seems they will not stop for anything. ITS thinks that in these anarchist cells there are sincere people who do not feel the need to construct a new society, but rather to destroy the existent, a mission that for us is not leftist. States really are worried by the rise of anarchist sabotages, which show that they have become a threat for the economic-political system of some countries, something that is worthy of recognition.
- To end with this topic and all the subtopics, we hope that it has been made clear that although ITS has a few agreements with the anarchists, we are different things.
We have said it before, we act without any compassion in the feral defense of Wild Nature. Did those who modify and destroy the Earth think their actions wouldn’t have repercussions? That they wouldn’t pay a price? If they thought so, they are mistaken.
For the moment we only claim these actions, the Mexican government along with the scientific community know very well what attacks we have not made public, and although they hide the information, there is always space to again read something about the people who oppose in action the progress of the Techno-industrial System (y).
For now, that is all there is to say…
Individualists Tending toward the Wild
Best Commentator on Anarchist News
The winner of the best commenter award is going to surprise many of you, or perhaps none of you.
By the percentages there is no doubt that the winner of the best commenter on Anarchist News is anonymous.
To put it differently, the aspect of Anarchist Newsthat is some say is universally reviled is also, at least for the 113 people who voted on this question, a favorite aspect of the site too.
In second place is a commenter who does would deserve mention regardless. This is someone who does not participate in every conversation but when they do they almost always increase the quality of it, usually at the expense of fools–which is perhaps why they chose their user name. They are, like anon, as reviled as they are respected.
If Anarchist News has taught us anything it is that our lack of homogeneity can cause us to squabble about everything. Anarchism is more like kudzu that it is an Amber field of grain or rows of majestic corn. The comments of Anarchist News offend, annoy, inspire, inform, and are the best worst things about anarchists.
The best named commenter of Anarchist Newsin 2013 is Mr. Grumpy.
Mr Grumpy Acceptance Speech
Thank you, Anarchist News community (and while some of you might hear some sarcasm in the term, I assure you that there are no ironic quotation marks there) for presenting me with this most prestigious award. I thought for sure Emile or maybe Emile9000 would have received more positive responses. And actually a little bird informed me that anon did in fact get more votes, but since she, he, they, whoever, suffers from multiple personality disorder, she, he, they, whoever, couldn’t show up without a psychiatric entourage, and we know how much those kind of people are welcome at an anarchist gathering. I also would have thought that the interminable attempts by our old friend Kevin Keating would have edged me out, if only for the fact of his consistent hostility – who can compete with that? Maybe his different pseudonyms just confuse people. Whatever the reason I was surprised that apparently he was overlooked, since his posts are a model of clarity and precision based on principled political discourse. No gratuitous insults, no ad hominems, ever.
I couldn’t have achieved this exalted status without worker and all the other folks who created and maintain and update Anarchist Newsdot org as a much-needed alternative to the other anarchist sites that allow comments. And without other commentators, what would I have to object to? I’m even glad that anon, with all her, his, their, whoever, quirks gets the opportunity to show off her, his, their, whoever’s skill at elevating internet anarchist discourse to new heights of coherence, grammatical precision, and intelligence. I could go on for almost as long as Emile…
Well anyway, it’s an honor for me to receive the first Anarchist News Award for Best Commenter. I look forward to more and more opportunities to post caustic, snarky, educational, ironic, sarcastic, clarifying, and insulting posts in the coming weeks and months. I’m sure my rival anon will do the same, but I’ll do my best to keep up with her, him, them, whoever, so I can stay in the running for next year’s award.
Thank you again, and enjoy the rest of the ceremony.
Best Non-smashy Event of 2013
For 15 years the Berkeley anarchist students theory and research & development have hosted a conference on anarchist theory. This conference has ranged the field from economics, spirituality, crime, space, identity, principles, and this year, social war. While being clearly a voice for a post-left perspective, it has been open to and encouraging of the participation of a wide array of anarchist tendencies.
As the most consistent and rigorous conference of its kind the BASTARD conference, which in 2013 was themed ethics and aesthetics, deserves the award the best non-smashy event of 2013.
Most Stalwart Anarchist Prisoner 2013
We are increasingly doing a good job at supporting self identified anarchist prisoners. Action in the street means bodies and jails and part of the reason why our energy is low after Occupy in 2011 is because of how many of our people either suffered at the tender mercies of the state or had to bail out others who were. But all of these were short timers.
A stalwart anarchist prisoner is one who continues the fight on the inside. This may not look Berkman’s prison journals or Daniel McGowan taking heat for having an opinion but it will probably look like being a big inconvenience to the bureaucracy of the establishment that you inhabit and looking good while doing it.
While we have an increasing number of long-term anarchist prisoners entering the system including the depressing a terrifying case in Cleveland Four who will probably remain inside for the rest of their natural lives there stay is just beginning. Sean Swain on the other hand, was the winner of our award for most stalwart prisoner and already been inside for 20 years. He is associated with the prison group the Army of the 12 monkeys and is running for governor of Ohio in 2014 as an anarchist.
Here is his platform
What is an anarchist engagement? I ask because I’m running for Ohio Governor in 2014 as a write in candidate from Ohio’s super-duper-uber-mega ultramax facility.
Yeah, I know.Your thinking, ‘Running for office is not anarchist-it’s reformist at best’ and thinking ‘A prisoner getting elected?’ And you likely conclude, this is all just further evidence-as if we need more-that Sean Swain is a wing nut. I would say that this is further proof that I’m brilliant and completely misunderstood- thats my story and I’m sticking to it.
I’ve been told that by running for Governor, I’m promoting the idea that reformist ballots are the answer-registering to vote, voting and all the hierarchical implications that that entails. I’ve been told that we need revolution, not diversions into electoral wheel-spinning,and that I’m doing a disservice promoting the idea that elections can be a solution.
Okay, now consider:
It’s not my goal to become Ohio Governor so that I can maintain the state. I’m openly and admittedly an anarchist and I’M running as an anarchist. I’m promising that, if elected I would tear down the state and establish the Ohio Autonomous Zone.
In fact, I have a program already planned out. It’s on my website. My first day in office, I would empty Ohio’s prisons. I would de-commission the National Guard and I would give the weapons to the Native American tribes I would be inviting back.
According to the Treaty of Greenville, they still own this territory. So it’s not exactly reparations for the genocide they experienced, but I’D give them the land back and a bunch of rifles and tanks and Apache attack helicopters in order to defend it.
With no budget signed-ever- no cops would get paid so there woulds be nobody standing between us chasing the banksters and crapitalists out of here with torches and pitchforks-like they have deserved for centuries.We could then export revolution from the Ohio Autonomous Zone.
Thats my plan. And to get elected, I propose that Anarchists and malcontents from all over the country converge on Ohio, squat here, establish residency, register to vote, and get me elected. By my math, if just a million people migrate to Ohio and vote for me, I’d win the election and implement my plan.
To me, that’s clearly an anarchist outcome-destruction of the State, elimination of the system of crapital self-rule. But fellow anarchists tell me this is not an anarchist engagement because the means of achieving the end (voting) are “reformist.”
So…it’s only revolutionary if you wear a ski mask while you do it? In other words, the revolutionary outcome is irrelevant; what matters is if you can look cool while doing it …and if you have to impersonate reformists in order to accomplish your goal, in order to infiltrate and topple the hierarchy, then it is better to instead sit around watching riot porn while the system grinds on and on? Does that sound right?
With what I propose, I’m not asking you to embrace electoral politics or recognize the legitimacy of the state. Elections and the State are bullshit. I’m asking you to recognize a glitch permanent joyride. I’m not asking you to install me in office. I’m asking you to load me into the chamber and fire me into the brain pan of the state.
Question: do the “ends” justify the “means,”does an engagement that leads to an anarchist outcome makes that engagement anarchist even if it would otherwise be seen as reformist? I say, Fuck,yes. And it’s a stupid question! If toppling the State required me to stand in toilet water firing Roman candles out of my ass and playing the Star Spangled Banner through a Kazoo, I would happily do it. If it means posing as a deluded hierarch and pulling a lever on an election machine I would do that too.
It’s not the tactics that make it anarchist. It’s the end result. I’m Sean Swain, anarchist prisoner and candidate for Ohio Governor in 2014 from Ohio supermax facility and I approve this message.
Best Smashy Event of 2013
There are two events that stand out in 2013 as note worthy. The first was a Seattle demonstration that would not be suppressed by the grand jury investigation into the events of May of the previous year. On May 2013 people turned out and took the streets without remorse and there was even a little bit of smashy.
However, the award for the best smashy event of 2013 goes to the Chuey Huerta event of November 2013 in Durham, North Carolina, an event in response to the death of Chuey at the hands of the police (or, if you believe what they say, at his own hands) in the back of a cop car.
The resulting demonstration included social antagonists, Chuey’s friends and family, and strangers who saw their own story in Huerta’s.
From time to time, social antagonists, insurgents, radicals, anarchists – or whoever else – open ourselves up to the struggles of others. We do this for a lot of reasons – to push toward insurrection, to beat back liberalism, to exploit openings, to show solidarity, because we feel guilt, whatever. We participate, we intervene, we mix.
Freed of the guidelines that direct the currents of existence into the routine of daily life, the streets can become the space of possibility for a new sort of encounter. Each time, we meet this possibility with dispositions that persist separately from our conscious intentions or articulated discourses: We are either more or less open, or more or less closed, to the affects — the unexplainable bodily stirrings that are felt, not thought — of others.
A more closed disposition leaves us relatively disempowered. We may feel ambivalent to the success or failure of a moment. when we step away from the uninhabitable discourses that proliferate among the different activist or militant sects, we become sensitive to the new ethical ties that link us to others: the bonds across time and space that connect the Kurdish militant occupying Northeastern Syria to the chapullers of Istanbul, the squatters of the ZAD to the drop-outs of the Albany Bulb; that connect the Brazilian favelas to the Warsaw ghettos, the Roma of Paris with the Underground Railroad.
Some endeavor to explain away these links. Others, more pathetically, have chosen to ignore these things completely. Instead, we might choose to follow this sensibility without backing down – to follow the line along which power grows. To build materially what already exists spiritually – the ties that link across our struggles to the struggles of others – could be the most important task ahead of us.
The First Annual Anarchist News Trollie Award
We set aside the final award for an unappreciated kind of anarchist. The idea that our awards are called trollies speaks to the split personality of anarchists. On the one hand we annoy (mostly each other but also power), and on the other hand we defend (bridges, each other, and probably the future for everyone).
For our final and most important award we honor someone who was so aggravating to power that they kicked the guy out of jail (although it was after eight months).
In his words:
I am holding strong. I do not know how much longer the State plans to keep me separated from my family and friends, but I will not bend.
Compared to the vast majority in this prison, I’m lucky. I’m not facing the very real possibility of spending the rest of my life in this place, as so many of the men in my unit are. I am really fortunate to have such strong support on the outside. The solidarity everyone has shown is helping me through this and constantly reaffirms my resolve.
The Federal Grand Jury that put me here is only the most recent facet of an assault on those who wish to be free of state surveillance and intimidation. This legal onslaught has already targeted and claimed the freedom of many anarchists, but we will keep fighting. I will keep fighting. My politics, principles, and ethics stand in direct opposition with this legal tool that is used to further enable the government in its assault on anarchists, and I will not lend it any legitimacy, nor will I comply in any way.
Thank you again to everyone for your truly beautiful acts of support. Your letters especially are helping me get through this, and I look forward to talking with many of you soon, on this side of the bars and beyond.
Last, please take the next few minutes to write someone who is locked up—believe me, it will make their day.
With love, with dignity, in solidarity, for anarchy, Jerry Koch
With much respect we give the Anarchist News trollie award to Grand Jury Resister Jerry Koch. May we all be as stalwart under the heel of the state and bear up as valiantly when it matters.