Sunday, April 18, 2010

Thoughts on our role in the emerging struggle against the racist state of Arizona

This is not meant to be a final conclusion, just an attempt to get my initial thoughts down about what we could be facing and the means I see as the best way to approach it.

As what seems like the inevitable signing of Russell Pearce's anti-immigrant law grows near, driving a nail into the coffin that is the political strategy pursued by local pro-migrant organizers, the question increasingly becomes what will be the nature of the resistance that will emerge to oppose it. Politics as a means of settling it is clearly dead. There is no political solution and there is no one left to appeal to. Friday's ICE raids proved that. We need to be thinking about the kind of resistance that will work and how we can organize it.

Likewise, we need to be thinking about what the terrain of struggle will be. Who will be our allies? What or who will we target? If we are done trying to convince, what does that mean? It seems to me that the only option left is a campaign of direct action aimed at causing real consequences for the system. We must begin to develop the organizational forms that can disrupt and shut down the functions of the state and Capital in Arizona if need be. The sort of forms that can cause havoc and can respond quickly to the ongoing crisis with a variety of creative resistance measures.

The natural form in my opinion is the affinity group and some kind of facilitating structure for coordination, perhaps a spokescouncil or an assembly. Perhaps the latter that can transform into the former when necessary. Above all, this limited organization must be anti-political, anti-bureaucratic and horizontal. Anyone who can put together an affinity group and agree to a few key points should be able to participate, but no politicians or political parties should be allowed in. For guidance in this we can look to the Zapatistas "Other Campaign". The politicians have failed us utterly, as we always knew they would. We must be done with them.

To my mind, the natural starting point for defining participation in such a group would be the DO@ statement. If someone can agree with that, then they should be able to participate in the resistance we organize. If not, they are, of course, free to do their own thing, as anyone is. Perhaps boiling them down a bit would be worthwhile to develop a clear and concise criteria for organizing. Perhaps there are other criteria that would work just as well. We need to be thinking about that. In particular we need to think of ways to keep the leftist activists out.

One thing the DO@ statement brings to the table is a broader view of the struggle beyond just the country politicos that have been the general focus of movement leadership in town. Whether that was a good way to organize or not is irrelevant now: the problem, with this new law, will be clearly and unambiguously bigger than the county. The DO@ refrain, "Free movement for all, no dislocations for anyone", likewise seems a good starting point to me.

One thing to keep our eye on is the machinations of the leftist managers of struggle. They are desperate now. Already they have tried to intervene against direct action and the will in all likelihood continue to do so. They know they have little to offer the resistance now, but that doesn't mean they won't use all manner of tricks to try to hold on to the movement. It's time for them to recognize failure when they see it. Whatever role they have now must be in bringing their counsel to support the direct action movement that must certainly begin the second that law is signed. I'm sure they have a lot to share, but they must admit that the nature of the struggle is now much changed and so naturally should our tactics and strategies. Rather than scaring people with charges, fines and jail times, they need to be organizing legal defense for what may come. Certainly they have much to offer in this regard.

We also need to be thinking about our opposition and our potential allies. At the Tempe Tea Party rally libertarians stood outside flyering against Pearce's law. This continues to be an important breach in the front of white supremacy and we must recognize it. We must continue to engage it and we must continue to push on that contradiction so that others are emboldened to break with the racist trajectory. We have to also be building connections, not necessarily finding a base of support, but finding sympathizers. We'll need each other. We are autonomous and speak for ourselves, but there are friends out there. Let's get to know and encourage each other.

Likewise, aside from direct action, we need to be producing literature, flyers and media on a scale that we heretofore have not considered in Phoenix. Thousands and thousands of copies must be distributed. We need to think about going places we haven't gone before. Sports games. Gun shows. Malls. Churches. "What side are you on?" we must demand. The priority must be in getting arguments in the hands of white people that can force them to choose one side or the other. We cannot allow the luxury of the middle ground anymore. This similarly goes for the liberal activists and party hacks who will try to negotiate on their own and others' behalves. We must make this position impossible. Our role is to push as far and as hard as we can and to refuse compromise.

These are some of the initial thoughts I have on the struggle that seems likely ahead of us. Above all, we must be creative and refuse to be pushed into the narrow paths of struggle that the state, leftist managers and the reactionary right will attempt to impose on us. Lift your eyes and look to the horizon. Take in the broader view. Look for places where we are strong, where they are weak, or where we can act vigorously and quickly. Consider our strengths versus their weaknesses. Look for contradictions that will be profitable. Fortify yourself, find your comrades and get ready. Solidarity means attack!

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