Sunday, April 25, 2010

Resistance to SB1070 that you may have missed.

One of the problems with the overwhelmingly leftist orientation of the anti-SB1070 rally today, as evidenced by the seemingly unending admonitions to register to vote (for Democrats), is that it tends to obscure potential fractures and fissures on what may appear to be unanimity on the right with regard to the bill.

If you know anything about PCWC these days, it's probably that we look precisely for these kinds of potential openings in movements so that we can force open a space for more libertarian (in the traditional anarchist and anti-capitalist sense of the word) organizing, especially if we can encourage the development of contradictions that will cause a falling out on one side or another of white supremacy, and particularly amongst white movements on top of that. In our evaluation, it is the cross-class alliance of white supremacy that screws up what might otherwise be a revolutionary working class solidarity that would allow the overthrow of the capitalist state.

Anyhow, the events of the last few days have been momentous indeed, but in the rush of media attention and, as I mentioned before, due to the overwhelmingly leftist reformist orientation of the anti-SB1070 movement leadership (since they control the bulk of the message -- often with Stalinist like precision), some smaller actions have been overlooked. Here I will highlight two of them.

The first is of someone known to PCWC, and with whom we have interacted very cordially at a variety of our events, but who I won't identify since I don't know if he wants to be named. Regular attendees of PCWC actions and events will probably know him. The video linked below, taken by someone in the counter-protest on Friday, shows this person bravely moving into the reactionary crowd and calling them out vigorously for their support of the bill. In true fanatical fashion, this man begins yelling forcefully "This bill is the mark of the beast!", "Prepare for the New World Order!" and "Who would Jesus hate?!".

This is important for a few reasons. One, it comes at the right reactionaries on terrain that they are familiar with. This is something that we, as anarchists are not able to do anywhere near as effectively. Two, it opens a front on the reactionaries from their rear, hitting them in a way and from a direction that they do not expect. Three, it comes as a heartfelt and genuine defense of the true values professed by the libertarian and even Christian right, while recognizing the general tendency not to live up to them in any meaningful way.

In my opinion the disconnect that is being called out between professed Christianity and actual results derives from their adherence to white supremacist values. They defend their cross-class alliance of whiteness over their professed values of Christian love for their brother and sister, effectively. And, probably most importantly, the charges made in the video demands accountability and asserts an either/or dichotomy that attempts to erase middle ground, asserting, will you be Christian or will you hate? Will you be Christian or will you support the "mark of the beast"? This is very important because to oppose the bill in many ways contains within it the potentiality of refusing the alliance of whiteness. PCWC has spent quite a lot of effort encouraging this sort of thing and I welcome it and support it. Cheers for this revolt!

The second video is one published by Shelton at 4409. Shelton is perhaps best known amongst anarchists for his work around speed cameras. We have engaged on this front several times in the last year, encouraging their work but also being critical of pointing out what we perceive to be the unconscious white supremacist undercurrents of their strategy.

I want to be clear, this is not to say that we consider Shelton a white supremacist or anything of the sort. Even though he opposes what he calls "amnesty" for the undocumented, we believe that the racism inherent in the argument he makes is not conscious or malicious: it is the sort of white supremacy that underlies most of the assumptions that underpin white organizing in general, whether of the left or right. The flaw is not his in particular and it is important to separate it from the kind of overt racist strategy that we see being pursued by those who support the bill.

And, indeed, the arguments that Shelton has made in the past against the bill are generally pretty good although, as with the anti-SB1070 current on the left, he suffers the same problem of demanding increased policing at the border. On the left, this manifests in a demand for reform that included heightened border patrol enforcement at la linea itself. This is important for a lot of reasons, but not least of all because it sacrifices the lives of people that live on the border, specifically but not limited to the Tohono O'odham people, whose land down south is bisected by the border and who have an inherent right of travel across it. This right is currently under heavy assault by the very forces that many opponents of the bill propose to "secure" the border.

On the right the opposition to SB1070 is weakened by a similar assertion that if policing at the border were increased, then there would be less need for internal surveillance and checks on movement. Indeed, this is also the critical flaw in the libertarian/constitutionalist opposition to internal border patrol checkpoints. You can see how, ironically, these two positions, though from opposite poles of the political spectrum, suffer from the same problem. The fact is, militarization of the border must be separated from the discussion of SB1070 (and, of course, it must be opposed). If not, it remains a devil's bargain that sells some out in the name of defending others. That's not solidarity.

So, in that context, consider Shelton's interesting new video, in which he goes to the state capitol and confronts legislators on the bill and its effects. Aside from its entertaining nature, it is really informative about the kinds of opposition to this bill that could -- and sometimes does -- spread from the right. This is a tendency that I continue to believe is worth engaging with and I would be very interested in developing some sort of way of further fleshing out common ground for critical solidarity with elements of this type that are interested in challenging the bill and constraints on free movement generally (the position we defend). Of course, in the end, we will not accept any increased policing at the border because we believe in free movement for all. However, that in my opinion does not preclude the increasing investigation of points of common struggle within this milieu.


? said...

Your use of the term "white supremacy" is a bizarro euphemism for: any and all non anarcho-communist thought.

You didn't "write the book" on anarchism.

Your condescending hipster attitude is exactly what pushes people away from your message. The contradiction you are talking about here comes from a romantic attachment to the constitution that many in the "freedom movement" unfortunately have, not from any racist views.

If you really were interested in "fleshing out common ground" you would stop the dishonest smear tactics and make an honest attempt at it.

Phoenix Insurgent said...

If it pushes people away from the message, then why are you here? I can't help but notice all your links to the Faithful Word church...

As for the rest of your post, there's not a lot there that I can respond to because it's pretty vague. The only thing I think I should re-iterate is that I am saying that the activism that Pastor Anderson engages is safely within the context of the white supremacist political system that is the united states, not that he IS a white supremacist. It takes some effort for white activism to break from this context. One thing that Anderson could do is call for abolition of the checkpoints AND abolition of border controls. That would, in my opinion, resolve this contradiction. There may be other ways. Calling for the defunding of the border patrol, perhaps... etc.

Indeed, the overall system of white supremacy is precisely the context in which almost all white activism takes place. What I am pointing out is how the contradictions (i.e., no checkpoints for me, checkpoints for others) is one that is situated within solidly within this. Likewise with the cameras. Etc.

The thing is, you have to actually propose an alternate theory to explain this if you want to refute my analysis. I am open to your opinion.

? said...

Sorry, I'm still not getting how any of this has anything to do with white supremacy?

What exactly is "the white supremacist political system", and how does one act within it?

Would one be operating in this "system" if they were opposed to a food tax for example?

How much time do you spend in a day thinking about white supremacy?

Phoenix Insurgent said...

This is an interesting question. Let's think about it. These may not be your reasons for opposing the tax, but here is my reasoning.

The food tax is a bad idea because it shifts the burden disproportionately onto poor people, who likewise tend to be much more often people of color than the rest of the economic spectrum. So, there's a place to start. It would also depend probably upon whether you want get the money from somewhere else instead. Let's say you wanted to get it from jail fees, or you wanted to cut some city services to the poor instead... That would be problematic.

As an aside, I would say, if taxes are to be raised, they ought to be on rich people, since they created this crisis and are the ones who ought to pay for it.

But I say that with some trepidation because to participate in this discussion requires me to drop the revolutionary position, which would be that I'm not all that interested in taxes at all because what I really want to do is expropriate the ruling class entirely, once and for all.

Anyhow, that's just a rough sketch. I think it is very important to understand and think about how our political actions reinforce the system of white supremacy because it's precisely this system that props up the rest by taking white people and turning them against members of their own class through the extension of various privileges, like first hired/last fired, better access to schools/heathlcare, etc, less contact with the so-called "justice" system, etc.

These are concrete benefits that accrue to white people regardless of their actions for the most part and to a large degree explain the massive differences in wealth between, for instance, whites and blacks, which persists to this day.

That's what I mean when I talk about the context of white supremacy. Generally, when white people take action and do not explicitly work to understand that context and undermine or oppose it, it asserts itself.

Consider the argument of opposing the checkpoints but demanding a militarized border. To undermine whiteness, one should probably do something like oppose the checkpoint but refuse to demand to militarize the border. Militarizing the border has dramatic effects on, for instance, the O'odham people who have a right to cross and whose traditional lands extend south into Mexico. Likewise, it has dramatic effects on Mexicans and other migrants who for generations have traveled back and forth for work and family.

In that sense, demanding militarization is shifting the burden off white people and onto native people whereas merely demanding an end to the checkpoints would benefit everyone. Perhaps that helps clarify a bit.

That doesn't mean that Pastor Anderson is a racist (I don't think I say that at any time in either of these pieces), but it does mean his activism is reinforcing rather than challenging white supremacy because of this unresolved contradiction. And from my perspective, as someone who thinks that true freedom can only come through revolutionary change, and that that change must come through undermining white supremacy so that a clear path is made to attack the state and capitalism, it is the wrong way to go.

Good chatting with you. I'm looking forward to continuing this conversation if you are.