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IFA statement on Belarus situation and solidarity

The following statement was produced at the online delegate meeting of the Relations Commitee of the International of Anarchist Federations (CRIFA) on 24-25 October 2020, and subsequently translated. Scroll down for Italian, Spanish and Portuguese translations or visit the websites of the respective federations.

BELARUS: AGAINST CAPITALISM AND DICTATORSHIP, FOR INTERNATIONALIST SOLIDARITY

The Commission of Relations of the International of Anarchist Federations (CRIFA) expresses its support and internationalist solidarity with the struggles of people in  Belarus against Alexander Lukashenko’s dictatorship, a mass movement that is participated in by our anarchist comrades there. The situation in Belarus concerns the autocratic dictatorship that has lasted for 26 years, the current economic, health and public services crises. A wave of protests have filled the squares of the country to request the dictator’s withdrawal.

As anarchists, we are not empassioned by the debate on whether the last presidential elections were fair or not. It is simply clear that the people in Belarus are saying ‘enough is enough’: they do no longer want a government which is starving, beating and oppressing them.

We stand in solidarity with Belarusian political prisoners and demand their immediate release. We also demand the reinstatement of all workers who have lost their jobs for participating in strikes or protests, and urge an immediate end to the repression. We denounce the violence and abuses of the political policies that are in place, and the regime’s
military or paramilitary forces, who are arbitrarily detaining, beating and torturing its political opponents. We demand the fall of an authoritarian power which is a sad remainder of the totalitarianism of the former Soviet Union, one which still serves as a weapon for the military strategy of Putin’s Russia which which uses its neighbouring country as a military foothold.

However, in the same way as we oppose Russian militarism in Belarus, we also oppose the militarism of Atlantic (NATO) forces in the Baltic Republics, together with all the armies and all the wars that are made by states against the people. Likewise, we do not buy the current rhetoric of Western ‘freedom’, nor of a possible mediation role of the European Union. The only role that the EU has is to manage the interests of European capitalism and therefore, as internationalists, we are opposed to this institution.

Instead, we call for international solidary between all workers and oppressed people and for all social movements which are committed, in the East and in the West, to syndicalism and workers rights, to the right of housing, to feminist and LGBTQ mobilisations, to the defence of land and environments against speculators, to people’s solidarity and mutual aid, to the occupation of spaces, to the production of alternative cultures, and to the defence of civil society all freedoms against exploitation and authoritarianism – to quote only some of our preferred axes of social intervention.

Only the direct participation of people in struggles from below can make a difference and produce a movement that go beyond the substitution of an old government with a new one, more or less corrupt, more or less authoritarian. Among all other challenges that humanity is facing, the current pandemic has confirmed that state and capitalism do not work when it comes to the need for solidarity.  It is the entire society that must change towards equality and freedom, and anarchism is more than ever the option that we put forward to achieve this.■

The Commission of Relations of the INTERNATIONAL OF ANARCHIST FEDERATIONS (IAF/IFA) – 25 October 2020

Originally hosted with Italian / Spanish / Portuguese translations here.

The Italian version is also available to listen to on YouTube:

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Street Anarchy pt.3 – The Third Movement | Theory and Analysis

[translator’s note: Ruymán is a member of FAGC (Federación Anarquistas Gran Canaria or Gran Canaria’s Anarchist Federation), which centres most of its activity around the issues of housing, rent and homelessness. They are known for housing homeless people in squatted buildings run along anarchists’ principles without the members needing to share the same ideology. The biggest one so far, La Esperanza, houses more than 260 people, around 160 of them minors. More recently the FAGC has called for a rent strike to demand better conditions for renters during the COVID-19 crisis. The strike is supported today by more than 60.000 tenants. This is the second of a series of three articles written in 2015 where Ruymán explains how the FAGC sees the way forward for anarchism based on their experience these years]

“On, on, onwards, for the fire is hot! […] On, onwards, as long as you live.”

(Letter by Thomas Müntzer to his followers, 1525)

In the previous two articles I talked about the two types of anarchism I had identified, and of the potential and limits of the social struggle; now I’m going to talk about the necessity for combative anarchism, committed to the social struggle, to transcend its starting point and reach a superior revolutionary objective thanks to well-designed and solid strategy.

Analyzing the situation of activism, social movements, including the anarchist, have been on the defensive for years. We only come out to the streets and mobilize to not lose ground. We don’t know how to attack. The only thing we want is not to lose past conquests, but not to make new ones. Fights like militant unions, housing, education or healthcare are framed today in those terms. They are respectable movements of self-defense, not structures of attack. Honestly, I believe it is time to go on the offensive.

We need to overcome this ongoing situation where we are just trying to take punches as they come, and learn how to fight back, to trade blow by blow, to hurt. This last decade of struggle, and especially the experience in housing, has taught me that when one focuses their militancy in the management of a “small matter”, in the preservation of what you have, you risk losing the ambition to go further. And this can turn what was supposed to be just a phase, the means to an end, into an end in itself.

I know it’s not the best for me to talk about not limiting yourself. We live in a state of retreat, as anarchists and as social activists. A few, resigned but pragmatic, try to save the furniture from the shipwreck, and try to build something for the future. A majority is still impervious to the lost opportunity and, lost in their liturgy of banners and hymns, don’t want to see that even the most reformist collectives have overtaken them on the left, thanks mainly to their activity. Another significant part abandons ship and, seduced by the siren’s song of the establishment, flirts with electoralism, the new parties, and starts believing something incomprehensible: that voting is the transformative novelty; and that to abstain and create on the sidelines is the orthodoxy.

We raise our voice from the dirt, in the very heart of poverty. I won’t speak to you with a clean face, neither will I shake off the dust in your presence nor offer you a washed up hand; down here, where we get down to work, it doesn’t smell good, there’s no sterile debates and rhetoric doesn’t accomplish anything. While working in misery, we are trying to organise it. Let’s begin!

We are not interested in the war for acronyms, the scuffles about banners, the internal feuds of families, sects, tendencies and clans. It’s like seeing two starved insects fighting over the remains. Anything that tries to drag us into that is not welcomed. We also don’t want to hear intellectuals babbling or fighting among themselves, telling us about a past that cannot be repeated or inviting us to advance while they themselves don’t move their asses from their seats. There’s a new anarchist that is active, pragmatic, that wants to be adult but not to grow old, and that is not willing to get itself tangled in the ideological disputes of its elders. Our proposal is to make a call for all combative anarchists to work together. This verb is key: to work. To coordinate efforts based around practical work proposals, leaving asides brainy questions about the future of a society we still are not strong enough to preconfigure. We spend hours arguing about what type of fuels will be used in the post-revolutionary society, how will the means of production be managed, what resources will it use and which not; and we still haven’t made the revolution that’ll allow us to have these problems in front of us. Because of our incompetence, we have no capacity to decide about our present, so we try to decide about something that has no relevance and belongs to a future that is slipping out of our hands. Let’s work so that one day we could argue about these problems in workers or community assemblies, but until then let’s not waste time.

Once we come all together, willing to work together but not to think the same, to combine efforts but necessarily sensibilities, we can select the objective. The FAGC chose housing, and everyone interested knows the results. Yes, we are responsible for the biggest occupation in the whole Spanish state, but I already said in my previous article that that is not all, we still need a third movement. What was done alleviated the situation of many people, it has allowed to extend the life of some of the most urgent cases; and that is already the most important thing. But it’s not enough to stay there. It would be like organising an army and refusing to declare war. Everything lived, good and bad, must serve to extract conclusions, reflect and take the fight to a new stage.

And what about the long and surrealist shadow of assistentialism? We have learnt our lesson and found the way to avoid it. The social struggle, by offering real solutions to real problems, allows us to get in contact with the people. But for the relationship to advance it is essential that the person affected stops being a receiver/observer and starts being an actor. And that’s achieved by establishing as necessary that the person being rehoused takes part in their own rehousing. Do you want to receive help? Here we are for you, but first prove that you are capable of helping yourself and others. Do you refuse? Very well, we won’t give more solidarity than the one we are offered, that’s all. Whoever really needs a house will have no option but to question what they’ve learnt, what the system taught them, their own way of behaving with others, before they can make a decision. It’s possible that it won’t produce any change, but we would have made them confront a hard contradiction face to face. A what was said about rehousing also applies to the rest. In our last occupations we have been applying that principle and the results have been very positive. We certainly participate in less rehousings, but the experiences are better and the participants more in need, more committed and more active.We have also learned that behind the criticisms of “assistentialism” we often find voices with little experience that, unwilling to abandon their ivory tower and walk among the filthy and difficult reality, show their disdain for active militancy by looking for pretexts instead of offering alternatives. The risks of assistentialism are not overcome from a comfortable distance while surrounded by those already convinced.

Once organised, with an established protocol to avoid becoming an NGO or a real estate agency, we are missing that last twist that I mentioned in “Street Anarchy II”, that third movement: the way of conflict.

The third movement is the one that makes the difference between conventional squatting (an act that closes its cycle on its own, revolutionarily innocuous) and programmed expropriation of households owned by banks, with the objective of establishing a communal management of a collective good (an act that means a direct political, social, and economical challenge).

It’s not enough to occupy houses, which usually only affects a limited number of people. It’s not even enough to make them available for the people and use them for rehousing. In the end we can end up reinforcing the System by compensating for one of its shortfalls and inhibiting people in protest by helping them get back on the capitalist train. We need to occupy and rehouse, but as part of a political strategy of mass socialization that aims for the neighbours themselves to manage consumer goods through assemblies, just like we expect the workers to do with the means of production.

The strategy is simple: unite with those other combative anarchists, call a popular assembly about the most urgent topic that worries your neighbourhood (I use housing as an example because it’s the field we have more experience with), offer useful tools to the neighbours and establish contact with them. How many empty houses owned by the banks are in the neighbourhood? So occupy all of them and make the neighbours directly manage the public good of housing. We have to take the step, cross the threshold, and turn squatting into collective expropriation.

How many of your neighbours pay rents to the same real estate agency, bank or rich landlord? How many can’t pay or are about to find themselves in that situation? Once again, call a neighbours assembly and give that fatalism a conscious dimension. They soon are going to lose the home because of not being able to pay the rent, so give not paying a political character: propose calling a rent strike. No one pays, either until everyone’s rent goes down (if the disposition of the people doesn’t allow for anything more radical) or until the management of the houses is put in your hands with no intermediary.

Do you organise in a libertarian union? Propose to integrate the labour struggle with the social struggle (which doesn’t mean just having good intentions, writing statements and supporting campaigns, but to start your own way of intervention and confrontation, directly revolutionary). To compete with the establishment unions using their weapons is either a waste of time or suicide. The nature of libertarian unionism always was multifaceted, and extended beyond the purely laboural plane. In order to survive, anarcho-syndicalism needs to adopt integral solutions and offer tools not limited to factories or even consumer cooperatives, but that directly address the issues of the poorest neighbourhoods. We must bring back the renters unions that anarcho-syndicalism pushed for back in the 30s, and take neighbours demands to a different plane.

And what about the platforms that already work around housing? First, we have to distinguish between those that undertake a committed and altruistic labour, with a revolutionary base, and those that are ineffective, are in the pocket of the political parties, or are motivated by nefarious interests. Second, no one has the monopoly of the social struggle. If you think a campaign is lacking, that it is being used as a pawn for electoral purposes, and you think you can offer and structure things better, more effectively, more radically, there’s no reason why you should cede the territory to anyone – none that makes us that there has to be exclusivity or imposture in the housing front. Third, we have to be aware, as anarchists, of the necessity of articulating our own answers, our own programs, our own strategies. Yes, the fights have to necessarily be popular and collective, open to everyone; tactical alliances are equally desirable, as long as they are limited to the work and don’t require concessions. But we have to be able to structure a differentiated road map with our own objectives, we have to show to the people that we offer veritable solutions to the social issues, and know how to communicate that we have our own revolution going on.

The situation, thanks to the so-called “progressive candidatures”, can be more favourable than what it looks like. Develop this strategy everywhere, but don’t miss the chance of honing in on wherever the “champions of housing and social policies” have reached power. Squat en masse, with the support of the neighbours, and start laying the foundations, the theoretical support, to show the contradictions of these “progressive parties”. Whether because their insensibility and incompetence is what forces you to squat, or because they trigger or condone a repressive reaction.

This general proposal, of intervening in a struggle based around a good (or means of production or service) to radicalise it, take it to its final stages, and make the popular body (the assembly of neighbours or renters) that initiates and fights on said battle be the one that ends up organising said good, is a simplified way of starting a revolution. The councils or soviets were just this in their origins. This is what the third movement is about.

We are at a pivotal moment. Consumed by the electoralist fever, demobilized by the partisanship of the new generation, we forget that for those down below the shit is still covering them up to their necks. The sick and the hungry, the homeless and the immigrants can’t endure any more of your vote counting or your insufferable theories. We can run away from our responsibility as long as we want, but there’s nowhere to hide. I myself tried to address this matter by creating an idyllic community of rehoused people, believing that the revolutionary response would come later. Too concerned with guaranteeing the stability of the neighbours, and especially that of their children, it took me two years to understand that the path of the conflict must go hand in hand with the work of creation. It may make life more uncertain, but if the construction of the new doesn’t happen in parallel to the destruction of the old (like classics like Bakunin and Proudhon recommended), you will create a beautiful walled city, but you will leave untouched anything beyond its borders; and in the end the exterior will breach the fortress and will do the same that humidity does to the stone.

In this moment anarchism, the entirety of the social movements, is at a crossroad. There’s a gordian knot that seems unsolvable, and both the pure theoreticians and the institutionalists intend to cut it with a penknife; from the FAGC we assert that it’s time to use a guillotine. Get involved in the neighbourhoods, don’t be afraid of the hostility, the mistrust, the bickerings and the animal instincts that I assure you you’ll come across. Strike now while the mirage of recuperation hasn’t yet reached even those with empty stomachs. Look for the one who doesn’t have a home or a salary or government help or hope. Call the whole neighbourhood and confront them with the idea that it’s in their hands to change their situation. Grow little by little, with effective assemblies and free from pompous speeches. Offer reality, naked and coarse reality. And start taking, taking and taking until there’s nothing you don’t manage yourselves. It can be scary, but it’s the dizziness before a revolution that starts. The only thing left is for you to join. And what if you don’t succeed? Goddammit, at least you would have tried.

I’ve said it before but I won’t stop saying it. If they exploit misery, it is our task to organise it.

Ruymán Rodríguez

Read Part One:- “Two Anarchisms
Read Part Two:- “Social Struggle

More information about the Federación Anarquistas Gran Canaria can be here www.anarquistasgc.noblogs.org or on their Facebook.

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Great Anarchists | Review

Anarchism, despite being a rich historical tradition with theorists and thinkers from all over the world, and which has influenced a great many social movements, is unfairly maligned at times. Some pigeon hole it as an anachronism, based on the worship of a prelapsarian past; a mindset of the small-society and essentially obsolete today. Others malign it as overtly and centrally European, unequipped to deal with the struggles faced by people of colour and colonised peoples today who may demand a nationalism of their own for the sake of safety. Beyond this, some – often of the more traditionally Marxist stripe – tend to label it utopian and divorced from material change: too busy focused on what could be to deal with what is.

Given that these criticisms are some of the most common that anarchists, and Anarchism more broadly, face, there is always a concern when a book with a historical angle crosses the desk, and has a focus on the thinkers of the past. While it is unquestionably valuable for a modern movement to be aware of the thoughts and struggles of those who came before, is this not just re-affirming some of those critiques above to centralise them in a book of this kind? The pivotal issue of a work such as Ruth Kinna and Clifford Harper’s new Great Anarchists is whether it manages to avoid the trappings of simply repeating and glorifying those of the past, becoming a project of immediacy and relevance, or whether it becomes mired in celebrating long dead men.

Immediately the question is answered: in the introduction, they establish the important principal that, ‘although these contexts were special, many of the issues the anarchists wrestled with still plague our lives’, and that the purpose of the investigations in the book are ‘not just interesting archaeological exercises’, but instead opportunities to examine how classical anarchists thinkers influenced modern movements and offer insight into lessons that apply to modern living. From the very beginning, the project is set up with a powerful motivation towards a useful and ultimately successful goal.

Originally published as a series of pamphlets, Great Anarchists serves as a crash course through individual prominent anarchists and thinkers of influence to the anarchist movement, and to this extent each segment is dedicated to a single individual. Further, Clifford Harper’s beautiful illustrations begin each segment, showing an artful and striking portrait of the subject. The heavy, stark lines and strongly textured designs draw on images of classical woodcuts but without the clutter that can often confuse and bury less expert attempts at the style, and compliment the book in a unique manner. Addition of art such as this breaks up the text, and transforms Great Anarchists from a piece of raw educational material into a singular project, a kind of didactic art-book, fusing the theory with an aesthetic quality that calls to mind the aesthetic and joyful narratives implicit in so much of anarchist thinking.

Comprised of ten miniature biographies of thinkers associated with anarchism, one of the strengths of the project lies in the selections themselves. It would be tempting to approach a project such as this with the desire to nail down all of the ‘canonical’ thinkers, and it is precisely this temptation that Kinna and Harper avoid. While prominent names such as Kropotkin certainly appear, and it can be somewhat disconcerting to see a list of ‘great’ anarchists that doesn’t include Emma Goldman, the choice to include early pre-anarchist figures such as William Godwin, mavericks such as Max Stirner, and those with legacies which have been largely depoliticised by history and education such as Oscar Wilde, allows an image of anarchism to be built more broadly. Further, it implies a vital piece of information: anarchism is somewhat unique among ideological traditions in that while it invariably draws from thinkers in the past, there is no name-giving origin point or presumed ‘central’ figure of authority. Anarchism can be found in any number of places, drawn out from any number of thinkers, and there are more of them around than you might think.

Kinna’s clear and concise style provides a great sense of ease to the reading. Never difficult, there is an almost conversational tone to much of the writing which can allow a reader to almost miss exactly how much information is being presented. Further, and perhaps most importantly to avoid the curse of hagiography, Kinna is never afraid to present critiques of the figures contained in the book: whether it is highlighting Kropotkin’s infamous views on the First World War, Bakunin’s anti-Semitism, or the long-standing tension between Stirner and much of the general anarchist movement, there is always room for nuance in Great Anarchists, and it is precisely this care that avoids the book sliding into myth-making.

All of this is extremely positive, however, that does not mean that Great Anarchists is without some degree of concern. To begin with, there is the first and obvious issue of the selection covered. While it is absolutely true that, shy of writing a tome thousands of pages long, Kinna and Harper would always be forced to make decisions to exclude certain thinkers in a project of this kind, the choice of who to include is worth examining. Inclusions of Oscar Wilde and William Godwin are certainly appreciated, and as mentioned earlier, open up the world of anarchism more broadly than simply focusing on the anarchist ‘canon’ might have, however the limitations of the figures selected do seem evident: other than Lucy Parsons, every figure discussed in the text is white, and with no exception at all, every figure is either of European or North American origin. Given the generally European flavour of most early anarchist theory, it is difficult to critique Kinna and Harper themselves for this issue, but in a text in which they are willing to include figures who pre-date the anarchist movement (as typically thought of) itself, it seems slightly strange that no figures from Asian, African, or South American anarchism are discussed.

It must be emphasised that this is not a damning criticism, and does nothing to impact the valuable nature of the work that is included in Great Anarchists, nor is it intended to downplay the significance of any thinker who has been included. Instead, it simply must be stated that the anarchist movement is broad and multifaceted one, and it might have been nice to see an inclusion of a figure such as Itō Noe (to give but a single example) in order to reflect that and also to combat the idea of anarchism as being a Eurocentric concept.

Further, there is a single note worth making, which is that while the downsides of various thinkers as individuals is a subject of discussion – anti-Semitism, or personal views on war, as mentioned earlier – there is fairly little critique of their thought itself in the broader sense. As Great Anarchists is more of an introduction to thinkers on their own terms than a text of theory in its own right, this is not truly an issue in my view. However, it is easy to imagine an anarchist coming from an anti-civilisational or primitivist perspective taking issue with the discussion of Louise Michel’s support for scientific and technological advancement in an uncritical tone – addressing only potential ‘deeply unscientific practices’ – as if these views were in a state of firm consensus amongst the anarchist community in general.

Neither of these downsides counteract or deny the useful and overall very fun nature of Great Anarchists, which manages to achieve its stated goal of balancing historical education with an emphasis on shared struggle with the present almost effortlessly, and is an enjoyable read.

The question for someone new to the world of radical leftist thought – particularly anarchist thought – is often where to start learning. It can be incredibly difficult without any particular guide to know where to begin, both in terms of which thinkers one should approach first, but also the texts they wrote and which ones should be considered the most urgent to read. Perhaps the most commonly suggested classical anarchist work among modern radicals is Kropotkin’s The Conquest of Bread, and while still a fantastic work filled with powerful explanation and convincing argument, there is some truth to the claim that the style can be challenging for people with little background in reading older texts. By contrast, many of the attempts that have been made to write modern groundings and introductions to the radical movements of anarchism take an altogether different route and, while they do provide an overview of common perspectives, it is fairly normal for them to avoid delving too deeply into the history of anarchism. Preferring to give modern day examples, and discuss modern day events, this strategy can be very useful but for a number of new readers it can be frustrating: where did these ideas come from, the question is asked?

Kinna and Harper’s new collection strikes a delicate but vital balance between the two approaches. Maintaining constant connections with the movements and struggles of revolutionary groups and radical thinkers of today, they draw a line directly between historical writers and activists without entangling themselves too deeply in what might be intimidating theory for the newcomer; their language is clean and concise, and they refrain from approaching the topic with the assumption that any given reader will already know what they seek to discuss. Given this mixture of the present with the past, as well as the brilliant use of illustrations throughout the book, Great Anarchists takes a centre stage as one of the most useful and beautiful introductions to the history and, more importantly, the present of radical thought. While not without potential nitpicks, the next time you are pressed to show a curious individual something to get them tumbling into the radical movement, Great Anarchists should be near the top of the suggestions. ■

Jay Fraser
Jay is an anarchist, poet, amateur philosopher, and basketball fan. He did his degree in English at the University of Lincoln, and is a fan of animals, good coffee, and horror movies. You can find him on Twitter @JayFraser1, or trying to find his face mask for the millionth time.

Great Anarchists by Ruth Kinna and Clifford Harper is available now from Dog Section Press for £6. Visit www.dogsection.org/press to buy, and read online.

Ruth Kinna is a professor of Political Theory at Loughborough University, and is currently the editor of Anarchist Studies. Clifford Harper is a radical illustrator, whose work can be found in a number of radical publications.

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Stuart Christie | Rest In Power

Stuart Christie, one of the most influential British anarchists of modern times, has died from lung cancer aged 74.

Most famous for his attempt, aged 18, on the life of Spanish dictator Francisco Franco, Christie went on to work closely with Albert Meltzer. Together they founded Black Flag, which was probably the most prominent anarchist publication of the 1970s.

His most enduring legacy will be as a publisher, founding both the Cienfuegos Press and, later, Christiebooks (https://christiebooks.co.uk/), which hosts possibly the largest open anarchist film archive available today. Christie leaves an immense body of work behind him, and is a great loss to anarchism not just in Britain but internationally.

The above announcement does not capture the depth of Christie’s contribution and Freedom will be looking to produce a full obituary in due course.

Freedom News

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On Belarus | Editorial

For the past five days I have watched batons smashing into the faces of the working class. I’ve watched people be shot and trucks plough into yet more without any sense or reason other than the sick poison that oozes in the hearts of the police.

I’ve watched children get smacked around and listened to women talk about the police beating and sexually assaulting them in the backs of vans and while locked in cells. I’ve seen hours of footage both broadcast publicly and shared through private channels that has sickened me. I’ve spoken to comrades both local and in the diaspora who’ve kindly taken the time to share their concerns and report on events.

I’m listening to Belarus cry out in the birth pains of a revolution and watching the death throws of a totalitarian regime. They tried to squish the revolutionary movement before it had began, they failed. The moment the factories stepped out and long muted resistance sprang up across the country the future of Lukashenko was sealed. The future of Belarus is being written now on the streets and at the factory gates.

This began last Sunday (9th of August) Belarus was put through an election rife with fraud, by the end of the day 50,000 people from all walks of life had descended onto the streets of Minsk. The police response was brutal with some 3000 arrested, hundreds injured and at least three protestors lost their life. The next day there were hundreds of thousands on the streets of at least twenty cities. Factory workers went on strike and Anarchist affinity groups erected barricades. The aims are clear to all. Lukashenko must be removed.
 
In over 20 cities huge numbers of working class people are fighting for their future, to find liberty from underneath the boot of Lukashenko. Like any popular movement they come from all walks of life and across the spectrum of politics, from the anarchist affinity groups that have existed underground for years to the all manner of nationalists, neo-liberals and progressives. They are not united by the politics they desire but by the politics of those they need to break free from. As comrade put it;

“For sure, there are people in the demonstrations with a wide range of different political views. Most of them don’t define themselves politically at all. When miners go on strike because they don’t agree with the corrupt state government and the exploitation that their bosses are engaged in, do we try to determine their exact political identity as communists, anarchists, or liberals? Trying to define this huge crowd of hundreds of thousands of people who have suffered through humiliation, exploitation, and oppression for the last quarter of a century seems ridiculous to me. For me, there’s one obvious fascist: Lukashenko”


It is vital that we listen to our Belarusian kin, and amplify their voices. The working class have no borders between us, no nations to tear us a part. We feel the pain of injustice wherever it occurs, whether that is Brest or Bolton. There can be no question in our minds that the working class of all lands must know that they do not stand alone.

Speak up and share your solidarity.
Belarus, you do not stand alone.

Peter Ó Máille
Editor of Organise!

Read about the situation:

Belarus: Anarchists in the Uprising against the Dictatorship
https://crimethinc.com/2020/08/12/belarus-anarchists-in-the-uprising-against-the-dictatorship-an-interview

Call for solidarity actions with the uprising against the Lukashenko regime – 14 August
www.abc-belarus.org/?p=12980&lang=en

Belarus: ‘without organisation, without struggle, the oppressive unfreedom will never disappear’
https://libcom.org/news/belarus-without-organisation-without-struggle-oppressive-unfreedom-will-never-disappear-140

Websites to follow:
www.pramen.io – Anarchist Media Collective
www.abc-belarus.org – Anarchist Black Cross Belarus

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Tracksuits, Trauma, and Class Traitors | Review

An essay collection united around an examination of class, justice, and social perception, D. Hunter’s Tracksuits, Trauma, and Class Traitorsa powerful set of arguments delivered in a tone that switches from the personal to the academic with ease. Blending scholarship with experience, Hunter adopts the methodological framework of the auto/ethnography, and attempts to situate his often harrowing life experience within a framework that embraces class politics, restorative justice, and social understanding over the course of ten essays of varying length. As the author tells us in the introduction to the collection, ‘’one of the aims of this book was to emphasise not only the humanity, but also the insight, intellect, and determination of those living in poverty.’’

Following the author’s previous book Chav Solidarity, the thematic through-line is obvious, and Tracksuits follows through on many of the themes that were established previously. Despite this, there is no need to have read the prior work to understand the new one; this is perhaps one of the largest strengths of Tracksuits, as Hunter’s writing is clear and accessible even when dealing with some of the more academic subjects. Marrying the unornamented and raw background of their life experiences with the theoretical allows a window of insight that should make even those without much background in theory to dive in without any issue. This conversational and almost casual tone combined with the brevity of many of the essays makes it excellent introductory reading, and would be easy to pick up and dive into for anybody at any level of academic experience.

Hunter’s essay collection begins with a content warning, and although this review will not touch on everything mentioned by the author, it is my responsibility to warn any prospective readers to take the content warning serious; discussions of mental health issues, violence, drug usage, and sexual abuse are frequent throughout the book and there are visceral moments in the reading which may be difficult.

A question that is commonly asked is the role of theory and analysis on the left: for many, it is an interesting curiosity, but there is a lot of discussion of how central it should be. There are some who suggest that it is, in fact, obnoxious to insist on analysis; further, there are those who claim that theory is a barrier to the ‘real working class’, getting in the way of Real Politics. While there is some truth to that – others have written before on the class barriers built into education, as well as the difficulty of certain authors – there are also many (of whom I am a representative, in a small way) who believe that theory is often powerful and liberatory, and that there is an inbuilt classism and derision in insisting that people who are working class or from traumatic backgrounds are unable to grasp ‘advanced’ concepts.

Hunter provides a powerful example of the way theory should be used, or at least one vision for how it could be. Utilising the framework of personal experience, lived encounters with the harsh realities of life under the myriad oppressive structures of modern capitalist society, Hunter leans over the boundary between the ‘real’ class conflict and the analysis. Here, theory is a way to consider experience, to step back and think about it, rather than to dissociate from it, and Hunter’s writing moves from the merely demonstrative to the functional when it funnels trauma into, for example, ideas of restorative justice.

In the first major essay of the collection, ‘Naming Football Teams’, the question ultimately arises of how one is supposed to deal with having been wronged. Without going into the specifics, there is essentially a scenario in which somebody has harmed another in a way that seems to, under the current shape of society, scream out for punishment; for vengeance, even. There is a punitive urge that underlies out current cultural logic, but Hunter calls instead for ‘a form of justice that does not require cages, keys, police, courts, and a violent class system’, but rather a process designed to ‘deconstruct abusive interpersonal relationships, and generate responses to them which do not merely reproduce the same dynamics’. Essentially, it is a call for a justice based on empathy, but Hunter is not simply engaging in wishful thinking here: referencing various cultures which have engaged (and continue to engage) in justice that differs greatly from the carceral, as well as philosophers and activist groups, the outlines that reconciliatory justice may take are eminently practical, and yet are informed by the theory.

Another great strength of Hunter’s writing must be highlighted here; it is all too easy for somebody who is distanced from, say, Indigenous American culture to simply point to the Other from the comfort of whiteness and decide to pick and choose which elements of this culture are fit to adopt. Avoiding this trap, however, Hunter tries to clarify that they are ‘’careful not to stake a claim to ownership of these ideas’’. Vital to avoid a kind of mythologising of the Other, Hunter acknowledges these other justice systems as ideas from which to draw inspiration, to prompt the thought that there are other ways to do things, rather than simply claiming that any one none-white, none-European tradition is the true path to peace.

Careful consideration of race at the intersection of class returns more prominently in another later essay, ‘You’re Just a White Boy’. While the title of this essay from other authors could be worrying – we’re not going to get another self-serving narrative about the problems of being dismissed as white in progressive spaces, are we? – Hunter quickly does away with that, opening with a quote from Jackie Wang’s incisive book Carceral Capitalism, which describes whiteness as ‘’a category [that] is, in part, maintained by ritualized violence against black people’’, and the discussion does not get any more conciliatory from there. Hunter details his relationship with MD, someone who they have known for a long period of time and who is currently in prison, and whose blackness contrasts heavily with Hunter’s whiteness despite their shared experiences and background, and who is not afraid to confront Hunter with this; ‘’ He tells me he doesn’t know how much of my willingness to make the worst possible decision in every situation was generated by the assumption that being white I would get away with stuff. […] I reply by telling him that as a white person some of those repercussions don’t apply. He nods, but looks far off over my shoulder and says, “I reckon you don’t think they should, either”.’’

Hunter’s willingness to be challenged in these circumstances and to discuss the nature of that challenge is admirable, though it must be noted that admiration is clearly not the intention here. Moving from this personal connection and contemplation in a way that has become trademark of the author by this point in the book, Hunter crashes from anecdote to theory: ‘’ whiteness becomes a stigma that can nevertheless be inhabited as long as it is reflexively acknowledged as stigma.”, as the quote is given. Reminiscent of Slavoj Žižek’s conception of the ‘’liberal communist’’, who simultaneously disavows capitalism and inhabits it fully, allowing the disavowal to absolve him of his behaviour, Hunter outlines a perspective on race wherein as long as whiteness is performatively acknowledged and apologised for, it can be effectively surpassed. This perspective is rejected in part, in favour of a critique of whiteness that becomes more granular and sees the varieties of whiteness spread through the intersection of class and gender and sexuality and which acts in concrete ways to change everyday life. Yet we are reminded as the essay closes that this kind of examination, while important, is also one that is in part facilitated by the privilege whiteness grants: ‘’black people don’t make these cages, we just live in them. We just die in them. White people make them.’’, MD reminds us.

‘You’re Just a White Boy’ may be one of the most contentious pieces in the collection, if only for the difficulty in discussing such a monumental issue from a perspective that is necessarily cut off from that reality. Hunter takes great pains to be careful with the subject of race, acknowledging and expressing understanding of his own racial background and the differences in material conditions and experiences that people from other racial backgrounds have had to live with, but it is a difficult balance to strike. For some, it may not be entirely successful, but it does seem to be honest and frank, which mitigates some of the worst tendencies that this kind of writing can often inhabit: if it is not successful, it is at least not in bad faith, which is far from the worst misstep one could make when writing something of this kind.

While it would be very easy for me to continue in this fashion, recounting and detailing particular essays, that would be missing the point; the examples and discussions above serve to demonstrate some of the particulars to a reader and to examine that style of the analysis Tracksuits contains, but it would be inappropriate for me to continue removing pieces from context and breaking them down; instead, it is important to discuss the conclusions. After detailing and discussing various aspects of their own life and the lives of others, Hunter concludes with the following lines that echo Michel Foucault’s call in his introduction to Deleuze and Guattari’s Anti-Oedipus, which instructed us to kill the fascist inside our heads;

‘’We need to abolish the White supremacist in us, the ableist, the patriarch, the transphobe, the parts of ourselves that still think, feel, act and organise as if some humans are worth more than others, that some bodies matter more. This is collective work, this is done in vulnerability with one another, and with an openness to making mistakes, speaking the worst of ourselves and trusting in “our” class that we can find new answers to old questions.’’

This is the fundamental takeaway from Tracksuits, Trauma, and Class Traitors; the idea that the it is only through collective and communal work that recognises that the flaws in most people are not the result of their personal unpleasantness (although that can be a factor) but are in fact expressions of their lives, their circumstances, and the culture in which they have lived and survived. We have patriarchy inside us because it is impossible to escape the world, and the world is patriarchal; this is the same for white supremacy or ableism, or homophobia and transphobia, which are so commonplace as to be banal if not for their insidiousness. The way through this is not to personally disavow these things, as if stubborn refusal could change the world, but to work together, to communicate, to provide material aid wherever possible, and to challenge the world on our own terms and with the staunch acknowledgement that everyday life can and must be different.

While it is certainly possible to quibble with elements of Tracksuits – some people will certainly find the more graphic passages uncomfortable or even impossible to read, depending on their own experiences, and it is true that the tonal shifts can be abrupt and somewhat rough here and there – the final result of the collection is one that expresses solidarity and makes a demand for a new world that is made together. Ultimately, while Tracksuits fails to be a silver bullet for the world of social ills, and definitely will not be for everyone’s tastes, it does present a detailed portrait of a life lived in extreme difficulty but with a sense of awareness and sensitivity that is often left out of these kinds of narratives. Weaving back and forth through critical writing and biography, it is an experience that isn’t easily forgotten and which points arrows at many of the right places.

Jay Fraser

Jay is an anarchist, poet, amateur philosopher, and basketball fan. He can be found on Twitter, or anywhere that has good coffee.

Tracksuits, Trauma, and Class Traitors by D. Hunter
is available for pre-order from The Class Work Project and will be be released on the August 4th. You can follow D. Hunter on Twitter at @dhuntertheclaretchav

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Tear Gas | Knowledge Exchange

Let’s be clear about this.
Tear gas is a weapon of terror which is used to intimidate and disperse.
It is neither a “none lethal” nor “less lethal” option.

“Lacrimator Agent” as they are prone to call various chemicals which the police use was developed for use in war, it’s very invention was to skirt The Hague Conventions of 1899 which restricted “projectiles filled with poison gas”. The Great War saw it’s first use to clear trenches of unfortunate working class lads in the wrong uniform and along with an array of horrific weapons it’s use in warfare was outlawed by international agreement under the Geneva Gas Protocol of 1925 which prohibits the use of “asphyxiating gas, or any other kind of gas, liquids, substances or similar materials”. It currently stands listed as part of the international trade in tools of torture by Amnesty International and yet remains a popular weapon of oppression by the majority of the worlds states.

However no one bothered to outlaw a countries use of such a horrific weapon on their own people and in the following years it became a standard tool of police to maintain order and obedience. It’s use as such first rose into the public consciousness when the Israelis used it during the first Intifada and it was discovered that the US had exported $6.5 million worth of tear-gas guns, grenades, launchers, and launching cartridges to Israel. The “less lethal” option took 40 lives during that conflict and left thousands others to suffer illness. More recently we’ve seen prodigious use on the streets of Hong Kong, Paris and Seattle to the much less documented use by U. S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) against émigrés more than once a month since the start of the Obama administration.


It’s become a favourite of despots as gas has a psychological impact that has long been utilised to control the victims of an attack since day dot. This effect was noticed by Amos Fries of the U.S. Chemical Warfare Service who commented “It is easier for man to maintain morale in the face of bullets than in the presence of invisible gas.” A truth then as it is now a hundred years later as I was entire blocks of Seattle drowning in noxious gas. It’s use was not to clear out any violent mob, but to assault peaceful protestors, mostly teenagers. Time and time again in protest footage we see police use tear gas canisters themselves as weapons, launching them directly into peoples bodies and faces. The results, horrific. A study from Iran observed the high rate of Vascular inurioes caused by such reckless brutality from the police “with high rates of associated nerve injury (44%) and amputation (17%)” in the study.

While ostensibly a last option tool to disperse violent mobs it has overwhelmingly become the weapon of choice of law enforcements seeking to harass and stymie any assembly with a mind to protest whether radically or peacefully. It may be banned as a weapon of war but it is seeing plenty of use as a weapon of fear and control.

TACTICAL INFO
Protests can be uncompromisingly disorganised. This is especially so when is has come together as a peaceful protest and the police have decided to turn it into a riot either by pushing tensions higher or simply by straight up attacking people. The best defence against the use of tear gas in this situation as it is in more conflict prone campaigns is the prepared comrades and autonomous affinity groups who are ready to deal with this specific threat.

One of the indirect defensive tools you have is fire. While not particularly great for the environment burn bins and tires create smoke, and specifically heavy smoke. This acts as a barrier for teargas, meaning that you can block it from going towards the demo/rioters/you name it. If able you will want to ensure that the cops will not use teargas in the first place and the best method here is to to disable their masks.

In Greece, they do this by spraying lines of cops with powdered fire extinguisher, which cloggs up their gas masks and makes them think twice before using it. In Catalan protestors covered the police in paint. This can be used to reduce visibility of gas masks and riot helmet alike and if it’s a weapon being used they are less likely to deploy tear gas as it will mean they could be trapped with zero visibility. Effective ways to do this are with water bombs filled with paint solutions, or even water guns or garden spraying equipment. Make sure to use none toxic paint tho, for legal and environmental concerns.

If you are partaking in unrest where you know the police are liable to use chemical agents consider volunteering yourselves to be “gas response”. That is, protestors who are armed with devices to cover tear gas canisters and drown them in water. They is best done in teams of three or four. You’ll need someone to hold the container and someone to pour the water with preferably a couple of friends dedicating their energy to locating canisters and spotting police about to fire them. Ideally you want to respond immediately and minimise the spread and the effect on others. You will need respirators or at the very least masks,goggles and good thick gloves. Cannisters can be hot and will burn you.

The basic methodology is to quickly cover the canister and pour water all over it. A popular container is a traffic cone or for the prepared the top half of a plastic milk container. However the former is very water inefficient and the later can be quite fiddly, especially in the heat of the moment. It you have the resources and want to come prepared consider using the Printable “Anti Gas Kettle” as developed by Corgian which solves both issues at the expensive of a sizeable printing project. Download the files here on sketchfab.

Corgian asks that anyone looking to provide some material support do so to FOR THE GWORLS who helps black trans women get reaffrimative surgery as well as help them pay rent.

If you are operating solo you’ll was a water battle with a wide opening and put the tear gas cannisters inside preferably using tongs of fire retardant gloves.

Either way you’ll want several bottles of water ready to go (preferably with a good source nearby to top up) and a separate water proof bag with water in for collecting empty cannisters.

If you’re not able to dowse cannisters you can always remove the immediately threat by returning to sender. Either quickly grab the canisters and chuck them back – not very safe mind and use gloves! Heck if you’re sporting go Greek and get in some tennis practice by bringing along a racket or just be give it a good punt like this Palestinian lawyer…


MEDICAL INFO

If you are attending an action where you think you are likely to be attacking with chemical agents consider doing some prep the day before. Respirators which cover the eyes are a must, any Charcoal lines filter will do the job Tho ideally you’d have one rated to FFP2 (N95). If you shave your hair, do so the day before to allow micro-cuts to heal. If you have signicant facial hair, consider cutting it down or shaving it o to help your respirator achieve a better seal. There is a reason the army are limited to moustaches and this is it.

Before going out for an event where you expect teargas you should shower, and then do not apply makeup or other greasy stuff to your skin (like moisturisers etc) Teargas binds with grease so it is a fucker if you come to riots well-moisturised and with makeup.
Especially makeup is bad, as people tend to apply it to sensitive areas such as eyes

There are an array of compounds and blends used to the similar effect. the two primary agents are CN (phenacyl chloride or chloroacetophenone) and CS (2-chlorobenzalmalononitrile) tho notable amongst the rest are CR (dibenzoxazepine) and DM (diphenylaminechlorarsine)

Exploding tear gas grenades as well as launched cannisters that are improperly or maliciously red can cause injuries beyond the intended chemical irritation. Patients struck by cannisters may have thermal burns, contusions, bone fractures, lacerations, avulsion, amputations, or concussions. A hit to the torso, neck, or head can kill a protester.

CS is the most commonly used tear gas. Because it is so common, the literature that discusses the effects of different tear gasses typical does so by comparing their effects to CS. CN, also known as mace, is less common as it is more toxic than CS gas. CR is less toxic than CS

but a stronger irritant. CR can be identified by its pale, yellow colour and pepper-like odour. Patients whose skin is contaminated with CR may experience severe pain when wet, either during decontamination with water or due to sweating. DM is also known as adamsite and “green gas” due to its noticeable green colour. DM’s effects are similar to that of CS. The onset of symptoms is slower, but the duration of symptoms is longer, sometimes lasting over 12 hours.

CS, CN, CR, and DM are not actually gasses. They are aerosols (a suspension of fine particles in a secondary gas). They are distributed by dissolving them in a solvent, evaporating them through thermal reaction, or turning them into a micro-powder.

Symptoms of exposure to all tear gasses are generally similar. Under low concentrations, tear gas causes a burning sensation in mucous membranes, especially the eyes. Other effects are tearing of the eyes, increase nasal mucus production, and coughing. Moderate concentrations and longer exposure lead to profuse coughing, blepharospasm (involuntary closing of the eyelid), increased salivation, difficulty breathing (dyspnoea), prostration (doubling over), burning and stinging sensations on the skin, disorientation, dizziness, syncope (fainting), headache, tachycardia, and vomiting. Heavy concentrations, especially in enclosed spaces, can lead to death by asphyxiation or pulmonary edema. Patients with pre-existing respiratory disorders such as asthma are more sensitive to tear gas and exposure to even small quantities can be life-threatening.

TREATMENT BASICS

The following steps should be followed for treating patients exposed to “Riot Control Agents” or RCAs.

Introduce yourself to the patient. The patient may be blinded or disoriented, so will need to clearly introduce yourself before touching and treating them. This is true in general, but doubly so when they are alert but incapacitated. Failure to do so can lead to them striking out at you.

Remove the patient from the RCA. Pepper spray is short range and exposure happens during brief usage, but tear gas often makes air noxious for many minutes. Patients need to be moved away from tear gas before treatment can begin. Attempt to move the patient upwind from clouds of tear gas or burning cannisters. Tear gas is heavier than air, so if possible, move your patient to higher ground. In urban settings, you may be able to enter the foyer or courtyard of an apartment or building where the air is fresher.

Remove contact lenses. If the patient has RCA on their face or eyes, they should remove their contact lenses. Flushing the eyes can push contact lenses up into the eye socket. Ask your patient if they are wearing contact lenses, and if so, direct the patient to remove them before treatment. If the patient cannot open their eyes or is incapable of removing the contacts, you may need to flush their eyes until they can open them to remove the contacts. Some patients will attempt to save their contact lenses and reinsert them after you have decontaminated their eyes. You should advise them against putting the contacts back in and suggest they dispose of them immediately. However, they may have significantly impaired vision without lenses and will not be able to get home or continue participating in the action without their contacts. They may also have financial restrictions and not want to dispose of a new pair of lenses. Whatever the case may be, they may put the contacts in regardless of what you say, so your job is to help minimize recontamination and associated pain. After treatment, assist the patient with cleaning their lenses. Have them wash their hands using the solution from your bottle. Then, have them them rub their contacts together between their finger and thumb as your slowly stream water onto the lenses for at least 30 seconds. This will help remove a majority of the RCA before they put their lenses back in. After they put their lenses back in their eyes, you may need to help them gently flush out residual RCA.

Prevent the patient from touching the effected area. A patient’s instinct will be to rub the effected body part, especially the eyes and face, while contaminated and after decontamination. This can make the contamination worse and spread it to other body parts. When RCAs are deployed, no one should touch their eyes at all except to remove contact lenses.

Allow tear and mucus production. If water or saline are not available, natural tear and mucus production will eventually remove the RCA. RCA on the skin breaks down and washes o over time. Even without intervention, patients will recover, albeit much more slowly. Remove contaminated clothing. If the patient is heavily contaminated with pepper spray or tear gas, they may need to remove their clothes to prevent continued irritation. Masks and bandannas need to be removed before decontaminating the face, but other clothing can be removed after.

Decontaminate the body part. If the RCA is CR, attempt to brush and dust o as much RCA as possible. Avoid use of water or other liquids to decontaminate the patient unless they are already wet or sweaty, or the RCA is in their eyes (which are already wet). For other RCAs, flush the body part with large amounts of water. For parts of the body other than the eyes, spraying large amounts of water on the effected body part is sufficient. Specifics techniques for decontaminating the eyes are covered later in this chapter. Because pepper spray is oily, it may be useful to gently dab or wipe the effected area with gauze to remove the bulk of the pepper spray. Vigorously rubbing and scrubbing will exacerbate the pain. During treatment for both pepper spray and tear gas, attempt to prevent run off from spreading the RCA to other parts of the patient’s body or your body, especially mucous membranes or open wounds.

Rinse the patient’s mouth. Patients should rinse their mouth with water or saline to remove the RCA. Even in the absence of burning or irritating sensations in the mouth, a mouth rinse is encouraged as it helps remove the taste and it helps them feel cleansed.

Allow coughing and sneezing. If your patient is coughing or sneezing, allow them to continue as this is the body’s natural response and it will help remove the RCA. Give your patient tissue or gauze, and have them blow their nose.

Use refrigerant spray. For patients who have been contaminated with pepper spray, spray the effected areas with refrigerant spray. Use of refrigerant spray does not have an effect on pain levels beyond the immediate treatment, but it psychologically helps patients feel treated. Spray the effected areas for 3 to 5 seconds. Beware the refrigerant spray with cause a burning sensation on open wounds an mucous membranes. If the patient’s face was contaminated, instruct them to close their eyes and mouth and exhale slowly through their nose while your spray them. Consider use of an inhaler. If your patient is asthmatic, remind them to use their inhaler. If you carry a Salbutamol inhaler in your medic kit, consider suggesting they use it to self-medicate.

Consider treating for hypothermia. Patients may remove contaminated clothing, and clothing may be wet from treatment. On cool or breezy days, this can contribute to hypothermia. Consider wrapping the patient in an emergency blanket so they do not have to put back on their contaminated clothes.

Consider other complications. Patients may appear to be generally fine when you begin treatment, but you should still pay attention to their respiratory rate and overall complexion as you treat them. Patients may develop delayed respiratory distress or hyperventilation, or they may go into shock as their adrenaline wears off.

Instruct the patient on how to decontaminate at home. When you discharge the patient, direct them on how to safely decontaminate when they get home. Clothing should be removed before entering their home. Tear gas residue, especially CR, should be vacuumed o clothing and the body before entering the home. If it is available, an ultra-low particulate air (ULPA) or high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) vacuum should be used to suck up as much tear gas residue as possible. The patient should throw out the vacuum bag after use to prevent spreading tear gas. Clothing should be washed separately from other items, twice, and with a harsh detergent. If clothing cannot be immediately washed, direct them to put it into a sealed plastic bag until they can wash it. The patient should shower in a well ventilated room using the coldest water possible for at least 20 minutes. Warm water opens pores and may cause additional burning sensations, so patients should shower with the coldest water they can tolerate until the feeling of burning stops. Likewise, scrubbing effected areas should be avoided until burning stops.

For further information download Riot Medicine here.

It’s worth adding that several solutions have been developed, some of these such as Viniger or Baby Shampoo solutions are dubious and there is little reason to think they are effective and may act as an irritant themselves. Comrades in Greece however have long used milk of magnesia, specifically Maalox brand but any will do.

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The Demands of CHAZ | Statements

THE DEMANDS OF THE COLLECTIVE BLACK VOICES AT FREE CAPITOL HILL TO THE GOVERNMENT OF SEATTLE, WASHINGTON

In credit to the people who freed Capitol Hill, this list of demands is neither brief nor simplistic. This is no simple request to end police brutality. We demand that the City Council and the Mayor, whoever that may be, implement these policy changes for the cultural and historic advancement of the City of Seattle, and to ease the struggles of its people. This document is to represent the black voices who spoke in victory at the top of 12th & Pine after 9 days of peaceful protest while under constant nightly attack from the Seattle Police Department. These are words from that night, June 8th, 2020.

For ease of consideration, we’ve broken these demands into four categories: The Justice System, Health and Human Services, Economics, and Education.

Given the historical moment, we’ll begin with our demands pertaining to the Justice System.

  1. The Seattle Police Department and attached court system are beyond reform. We do not request reform, we demand abolition. We demand that the Seattle Council and the Mayor defund and abolish the Seattle Police Department and the attached Criminal Justice Apparatus. This means 100% of funding, including existing pensions for Seattle Police. At an equal level of priority we also demand that the city disallow the operations of ICE in the city of Seattle.
  2. In the transitionary period between now and the dismantlement of the Seattle Police Department, we demand that the use of armed force be banned entirely. No guns, no batons, no riot shields, no chemical weapons, especially against those exercising their First Amendment right as Americans to protest.
  3. We demand an end to the school-to-prison pipeline and the abolition of youth jails. Get kids out of prison, get cops out of schools. We also demand that the new youth prison being built in Seattle currently be repurposed.
  4. We demand that not the City government, nor the State government, but that the Federal government launch a full-scale investigation into past and current cases of police brutality in Seattle and Washington, as well as the re-opening of all closed cases reported to the Office of Police Accountability. In particular, we demand that cases particular to Seattle and Washington be reopened where no justice has been served, namely the cases of Iosia Faletogo, Damarius Butts, Isaiah Obet, Tommy Le, Shaun Fuhr, and Charleena Lyles.
  5. We demand reparations for victims of police brutality, in a form to be determined.
  6. We demand that the City of Seattle make the names of officers involved in police brutality a matter of public record. Anonymity should not even be a privilege in public service.
  7. We demand a retrial of all People in Color currently serving a prison sentence for violent crime, by a jury of their peers in their community.
  8. We demand decriminalization of the acts of protest, and amnesty for protestors generally, but specifically those involved in what has been termed “The George Floyd Rebellion” against the terrorist cell that previously occupied this area known as the Seattle Police Department. This includes the immediate release of all protestors currently being held in prison after the arrests made at 11th and Pine on Sunday night and early Saturday morning June 7th and 8th, and any other protesters arrested in the past two weeks of the uprising, the name Evan Hreha in particular comes to mind who filmed Seattle police macing a young girl and is now in jail.
  9. We demand that the City of Seattle and the State Government release any prisoner currently serving time for a marijuana-related offense and expunge the related conviction.
  10. We demand the City of Seattle and State Government release any prisoner currently serving time just for resisting arrest if there are no other related charges, and that those convictions should also be expunged.
  11. We demand that prisoners currently serving time be given the full and unrestricted right to vote, and for Washington State to pass legislation specifically breaking from Federal law that prevents felons from being able to vote.
  12. We demand an end to prosecutorial immunity for police officers in the time between now and the dissolution of the SPD and extant justice system.
  13. We demand the abolition of imprisonment, generally speaking, but especially the abolition of both youth prisons and privately-owned, for-profit prisons.
  14. We demand in replacement of the current criminal justice system the creation of restorative/transformative accountability programs as a replacement for imprisonment.
  15. We demand autonomy be given to the people to create localized anti-crime systems.
  16. We demand that the Seattle Police Department, between now and the time of its abolition in the near future, empty its “lost and found” and return property owned by denizens of the city.
  17. We demand justice for those who have been sexually harassed or abused by the Seattle Police Department or prison guards in the state of Washington.
  18. We demand that between now and the abolition of the SPD that each and every SPD officer turn on their body cameras, and that the body camera video of all Seattle police should be a matter of easily accessible public record.
  19. We demand that the funding previously used for Seattle Police be redirected into: A) Socialized Health and Medicine for the City of Seattle. B) Free public housing, because housing is a right, not a privilege. C) Public education, to decrease the average class size in city schools and increase teacher salary. D) Naturalization services for immigrants to the United States living here undocumented. (We demand they be called “undocumented” because no person is illegal.) E) General community development. Parks, etc.

We also have economic demands that must be addressed.

  1. We demand the de-gentrification of Seattle, starting with rent control.
  2. We demand the restoration of city funding for arts and culture to re-establish the once-rich local cultural identity of Seattle.
  3. We demand free college for the people of the state of Washington, due to the overwhelming effect that education has on economic success, and the correlated overwhelming impact of poverty on people of color, as a form of reparations for the treatment of Black people in this state and country.
  4. We demand that between now and the abolition of the SPD that Seattle Police be prohibited from performing “homeless sweeps” that displace and disturb our homeless neighbors, and on equal footing we demand an end to all evictions.
  5. We demand a decentralized election process to give the citizens of Seattle a greater ability to select candidates for public office such that we are not forced to choose at the poll between equally undesirable options. There are multiple systems and policies in place which make it impractical at best for working-class people to run for public office, all of which must go, starting with any fees associated with applying to run for public office.

Related to economic demands, we also have demands pertaining to what we would formally call “Health and Human Services.”

  1. We demand the hospitals and care facilities of Seattle employ black doctors and nurses specifically to help care for black patients.
  2. We demand the people of Seattle seek out and proudly support Black-owned businesses. Your money is our power and sustainability.
  3. We demand that the city create an entirely separate system staffed by mental health experts to respond to 911 calls pertaining to mental health crises, and insist that all involved in such a program be put through thorough, rigorous training in conflict de-escalation.

Finally, let us now address our demands regarding the education system in the City of Seattle and State of Washington.

  1. We demand that the history of Black and Native Americans be given a significantly greater focus in the Washington State education curriculum.
  2. We demand that thorough anti-bias training become a legal requirement for all jobs in the education system, as well as in the medical profession and in mass media.
  3. We demand the City of Seattle and State of Washington remove any and all monuments dedicated to historical figures of the Confederacy, whose treasonous attempts to build an America with slavery as a permanent fixture were an affront to the human race.

Transcribed by @irie_kenya and @AustinCHowe. Special thanks to Magik for starting and facilitating the discussion to create this list, to Omari Salisbury for the idea to break the list into categories, and as well a thanks to Kshama Sawant for being the only Seattle official to discuss with the people on Free Capitol Hill the night that it was liberated.

Although we have liberated Free Capitol Hill in the name of the people of Seattle, we must not forget that we stand on land already once stolen from the Duwamish People, the first people of Seattle, and whose brother, John T. Williams of the Nuu-chah-nulth tribe up north was murdered by the Seattle Police Department 10 years ago.

Black Lives Matter — All day, Every day.

The Capital Hill Autonomous Zone is an occupied area of Seattle, taken on June 8 2020 during BLM Protests and encompasses around 6 city blocks. You can find out more, and watch the live streaming at www.caphillauto.zone

This statement was originally shared on Medium.

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Dear White People at Black Lives Matter Protests | Current Events

Black Lives Matter protests have spread around the world, from major cities, to the kind of small towns that haven’t had any protests in years. White people have wanted to, and in many cases have been invited to, support the protests and join the struggle against white supremacy.

However. There are different ways to do this, and some are lot better than others. We’ve compiled a list of dos and don’ts (or do’s and don’ts) based on suggestions given to us (the white authors of this article) by black people, and other people of colour involved in the BLM movement. Views are of course by no means universal, but there is a common thread of criticism that we hope this helps to spread.

So my fellow white anarchists, white leftists, white accomplices, and even you, well meaning white liberal friend I haven’t spoken to since school, this list is for you.

✔️Do take the time to look for black people organising demos in your area
Don’t rush to call your own white organised demo

✔️Do listen to black people speaking at the demonstrations
Don’t take the stage to share your Very Important White Opinions™

✔️Do make placards and banners using the slogans popular in BLM movements, especially local ones
Don’t cover them in the branding of your political group as an advertising exercise

✔️Do use the resources you have, and contact black groups to offer them, for example:
✔️Do hand out bottles of water, PPE and food
✔️Do offer to act as a street medic, cop watcher, or legal observer
✔️Do help organise training so new black activists can do the above
Don’t just show up and start selling your paper

✔️Do call out your white friends for their racism and bad takes
Don’t constantly argue ‘devils advocate’ with your black friends

✔️Do take a mask, and keep it on
✔️Do take hand sanitizer, and use it
✔️Do take spare PPE
Don’t go if you’ve got a cough
Don’t unnecessarily increase the risk of coronavirus

Don’t start shouting ‘fuck the police’ when no one else is
✔️Do join in shouting ‘fuck the police’ if groups of black people start it

✔️Do give your money to black led groups and to individuals who need it
✔️Do convince your group, union branch, workplace, to do likewise.
Don’t tell all your black friends about it and then pause as if waiting for applause

✔️Do offer to share legal advice, bust cards, or tips on dealing with protest policing if useful
Don’t assume you know more than black protest organisers

✔️Do put yourself between the police and the crowd, if you are able to tough it out or risk arrest
Don’t try and start a fight with a so far placid group of cops to show how tough you are
Don’t repeat the patronising narrative that riots can only be cause by white people ‘tricking’ black people into them

✔️Do go out of your way to share the speeches and stories that black people posted publicly from the demonstration you attended
Don’t treat this as a photo opportunity, especially when your selfies may lead to criminal charges for others

✔️Do realise you are going to fuck up. We all fuck up.
Don’t react defensively when someone points out you’ve fucked up.

Don’t come if you want to be the centre of attention
Don’t think the important thing is how many new people you can add to your group
Don’t get in an argument with black demonstrators about any of the above
Don’t assume this list is exhaustive. Search for more.

✔️Do realise this is a time to support a movement you don’t control
✔️Do come, when invited, and if you are prepared to follow the lead of black people in the crowd.

Our thanks to the people who help us to improve by using their time, experience, and critique. If wish to add to this list, criticise it, or suggest we change it’s wording, get in touch with us via social media or email.

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Food Not Bombs Callout! | Statements

A CALL FOR INTERNATIONAL SOLIDARITY TO AUTONOMOUS RESISTANCE AND FOOD NOT BOMBS INITIATIVES AROUND THE GLOBE

Homelessness and hunger is prevalent in many countries. People begging for food and malnourished children are common images in many places around the world that used to have healthy communities and ecology. While people are enduring poverty and hunger, governments particularly the first worlds are spending hundreds of billions of dollars to develop war materials they use to control other countries through war, intimidation and manipulations.

Food Not Bombs (FNB) is a solidarity and non-violent action against social injustice. Food sharing is a practical respond to hunger caused by inequality where huge number of people deprived of access to protein while the few elite live extravagantly and using social patrimony to state activities involving violence and oppression of people and destruction of ecology.  People from Punk/Hardcore, DIY, Art communities and anarchists who are involved in culture of sharing and inclined to horizontal processes naturally attracted to FNB.

Many marginalized communities in so-called Philippine archipelago are enduring the lack of basic necessity such as shelter, food, water, education and livelihood.  The acute inequality and social justice rob the people of opportunities to improve their well being to secure the future of their families and communities.

FNB came in the archipelago during the 1990s as a respond to systemic poverty. It quickly spread like a wildfire in the archipelago particularly after the famous Battle in Seattle – a resistance against trade liberalization during World Trade Organisations Conference. Incidentally, during this period, anarchist collectives and individuals sprouted like mushrooms which thrive in fertile underground culture scenes and art communities.

FNB is not a monotonous activity of food provision to hungry people. It is a creative resistance designed to provide not only protein requirements but also engaged in sharing critical information and skills through workshops, discussions, dialogue, cultural presentations and other educational activities. It is frequently combined with really, really free market where people are encouraged to share their unwanted things to those in need. This event is not design to recruit people to a particular group but this encourages the people to self organize based on voluntary basis according to their own capacity. It encourages communities to practice self management under the theme of respect, diversity, decentralize and non-hierarchical relations. FNB is a direct action against capitalism, consumerism and statism. FNB is not an organization but rather an event or an activity can be organized by anyone without asking any permission to anyone or making affiliation to any group. An individual or group of people could organize FNB anytime, anywhere based on their actual context as long as it uphold the basic principles of non-hierarchical, respect, ecological and anti-authoritarian.                

Prior to Anti-Terrorism Act, Duterte is already violent. His humorous extemporaneous speeches with twist of sexist acts and remarks could not conceive his thirst for violence.  In many occasions he explicitly mentioned his actual involvement in killings.  Duterte is a megalomaniac person; he desires more power and hates those who threaten his position. He is vengeful and angry. His words are not empty. He is equitable in terms of retaliations to his “enemies”; from low life thugs, to a teacher, a laborer, overseas worker, senators, and lawyers and as big as corporate media and international institutions they will not be spared from forms of intimidations and harassment. Incarceration of oppositions and killings perpetrated by uniformed personnel and masked motor riding gunmen are the trademarks of his government.

His appetite for violence killed FNB volunteers and incarcerated one. These non-non violent people perished and suffered during War on Drugs operations that killed more than 12,000 which the great majority came from poor families and marginalized communities. Essentially, the war on drugs program is war against the poor and intended to intimidate the people and all forms of oppositions in general.

The Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 will surely exacerbate the already worst situation of our society. The Duterte administration shrewdly fast tracked the law in the middle of pandemic crisis. A perfect timing were different oppositions rendered immobile giving no chance to react. It has been approved at the committee level and members of the House of Representatives are expected to debate and fast-track its approval before they go on a two-month break from June 6 of this year.

This law will categorise the  activities and initiatives of FNB volunteers, autonomous activists and anarchists as terrorism. Under this law, solidarity actions which commonly conduct by the said groups of people will be considered as crime allowing the state to detain suspected individuals without a warrant;  longer detentions without charge and give the executive branch more power against dissent. It ruled out the Human Security Act removing government obligations to compensate wrongly accused people.

The Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 is an obvious instrument of a fascist government to curtail freedom that desires to instill fear among the populace to serve the interests of the oligarchs and foreign counterparts

Food Not Bombs volunteers, autonomous activists, independent artists and anarchists strongly condemn the fascist government. We are calling the international resistance to send solidarity to the struggle of different people and community of the archipelago against the authoritarian who serves the interests of few privilege elite. 

If you may please organize different forms of action against the Philippines Embassy in your own country to send your support to our fight for freedom.

FIGHT FOR SOCIAL JUSTICE! FIGHT FASCISM AND STATE SPONSRED TERRORISM! END WAR, POVERTY, HUNGER AND ECOLOGICAL SLAUGHTER ■

– FOOD NOT BOMBS ARCHIPELAGO