The economic and political system we are born into and forced to live under – both State and Capital – continues to function not because it is effective or efficient, or because it is a just and equal system, but because of the various tools at its disposal which it uses to keep us in various states of fear, confusion, insecurity, anxiety, isolation and competition.
Without choice or knowledge of other ways to organise life, as these possibilities are always slandered and painted as unrealistic, the vast majority of us become indoctrinated into life under State and capital at the earliest possible moment, and from then on become increasingly infected with its isolated, individualised outlook through a combination of both fear and competition. This is reinforced over and over again, for example in the misrepresented statement “survival of the fittest” as one where a human has to compete against a human for survival, rather than work together to ensure survival against the difficulties we all are posed with.
And so it continues: in countless ways we are divided and driven to compete with one another, whether through school, the job market, housing etc. We are all driven to compete in obvious and not so obvious ways.
By and large, we are all encouraged to compete with everybody else, whether to get “better” marks, “better” jobs, “better” pay. We are encouraged to disregard the fact that we are actually more or less social by nature; that we are equal and free, and should be able to freely work and live together and not be pitted against one another for survival; that a selection of people do not have the right to secure all the resources of survival for themselves while forcing others to work in order to be able to pay for those same resources; that a selection of people are not more equipped to control your life, than you are to control your own.
Everywhere and always, the possibility of combative autonomous self-organisation scares those in power, and those waiting to take power.
Whether it be the governments of Liberal or Labor; Greens or One Nation, the aim is always the same, even though the approach taken may differ slightly.
Ultimately the goal is to demonise collective acts of resistance and refusal by everyday people, allowing the government of the day to uphold the legitimacy of the State and attack those that fall -or begin to fall- outside of their control.
To achieve this, the pillars of government and the media make use of all the power and authority at their disposal to set about demonising not just ideas, groups or organisations, but moreover tactics – this is the real goal of the apparatuses of control. Because when it is possible to make evil and wrong the choice to resist, it means that the State can do anything.
So when the poor and workers begin to recognise all the tools at their disposal; just when people all across the world start to take seriously blockading, rioting, occupying and a diverse range of tactics of counter-attack and self-defence, there is predictably by the State, either of the Left or the Right; by the media and the union leaders; by the pacifiers and progressives, condemnation of these tactics.
From It’s Going Down:
“I’m not a protester. I’m violent.”
-Masked Rebel in Ferguson
Along with voting, in today’s society protesting peacefully is often held up as one of the only ways that everyday working-class and poor people can change the world. This is a myth we are raised with, and since the time that we are very young, we are taught that peaceful protest helped bring about massive changes in this country and remains the only way in which people can correctly pressure the government into addressing problems and grievances. This myth has gone on to become a framework that not only criminalizes and normalizes repression, but also helps to generalize the policing and shaming of various tactics of resistance in social struggles. If we are to create a movement that can not only push back against broad attacks but create a new way of living, this false notion of “peaceful protesters” is going to have to be completely destroyed.
A History of Violence
When someone says that non-violence has been the only way that human beings have changed the world, they’re fucking lying.
Across the world and across history, oppressed, marginalized, poor, and working-class people have used a variety of tactics to further their goals and fight back, and this includes things that could be considered violent. Overall, this means that when people refuse their roles within society and instead force the system into a state of crisis, that’s when we can create a situation in which we can forward our own agenda. This often means that people refuse to do the things that allows the system to reproduce itself. In the case of workers, people strike. In the case of renters, they go on rent strike. For the poor, they refuse to be passive: they riot. In the case of all, they defend themselves against the violence of State repression and the police: they fight back.
What about human nature? Don’t we need laws and police and other authoritarian institutions to protect us from people with ill intent?
If human beings are not good enough to do without authority, why should they be trusted with it?
Or, if human nature is changeable, why should we seek to make people obedient rather than responsible, servile rather than independent, craven rather than courageous?
Or, if the idea is that some people will always need to be ruled, how can we be sure that it will be the right ones ruling, since the best people are the most hesitant to hold power and the worst people are the most eager for it?
The existence of government and other hierarchies does not protect us; it enables those of ill intent to do more damage than they could otherwise. The question itself is ahistorical: hierarchies were not invented by egalitarian societies seeking to protect themselves against evildoers. Rather, hierarchies are the result of evildoers seizing power and formalizing it. (Where did you think kings came from?) Any generalization we could make about “human nature” in the resulting conditions is sure to be skewed.
Lately, we’ve witnessed right-wing populists, nationalists, racists, and fascists of all types licking their lips, emboldened by the election of Donald Trump as President of the United States of America. Following this torturous, political freak-show, we have already seen the dangerous realities and challenges it will bring about. Many from the right have come to see this as their moment to shine, while for many more it presents some sort of mythical return to a time of “greatness, prosperity, and freedom”.
Groups such as the One Nation Party led by Pauline Hanson in Australia are using this platform, feeding off growing popular discontent and alienation, in order to spread and enforce their conservative agenda. And in so doing, continuing to perpetuate and enforce the ideas and presence of nationalist, right-wing political parties, academics and individuals the world over. Acting as alternatives within a rotten system, they attempt to offer the moon and present themselves as saviours in order to capitalise on the bankruptcy of representative democracy and succeed in taking political power.
They deceive, divide and spew their hatred. They demonise workers, the poor, unemployed, immigrants and refugees; while always attacking those who make the choice to resist as violent thugs impinging on their freedoms. But they don’t care about freedom in any sense of the word. They –just like the super-rich- run to hide behind a state that is always invasive and controlling, asking for more and more repression, calling for more police and tougher laws to crush social movements and deal with dissent. They aren’t against the system, and the system isn’t there to help you.