Wednesday, October 27, 2010

A Sneak Preview: The Inglourious Basterds Bloc returns this November 13!

Let's be honest, most sequels suck. With the obvious exception of a Terminator 2, or Empire Strikes Back, sequels rarely reach the creative apex of the source material, just ask anyone who sat through the follow ups to the Matrix. Still, I'd sit through another atrocious Ace Ventura before ever wanting to see one of those nazi goons from the National Socialist Movement (NSM) march in my town again.

Exactly a year ago, we at PCWC put out our first call for a demonstration, The Inglourious Basterds bloc, a tip of the hat to Tarantino's fantastic alt-history film about a group of Nazi hunters who take out Hitler and massacre the leadership of the Third Reich! We like the idea of creating our own mythology around our movement's successful struggles and actions, naturally we were quite taken by incorporating the mythology of the Basterds' victory into our anti-nazi bloc. Yeah, it was a bit meta, but it worked and it lent a good deal of enthusiasm to mobilizing a few hundred people to confront a white supremacist march, and shut it down an hour before their city march permit ended.

The NSM will be back in town to continue their "reclaim the southwest tour", a recruitment effort of theirs in which NSM activists from Texas to California amass in major cities in the southwest for NSM anti-immigrant rallies. They've been counting on their inflated numbers (fifty to seventy people) to give them the look of a growing fascist working class movement that has an actual base of support, so that when the mainstream media uncritically covers a white supremacist anti-immigrant rally, they neglect to mention that the majority of those attending the rally are racist agitators from outside of Arizona. It's in the spirit of last year's Inglourious Basterds Bloc, that we once again invite anti-racists and anti-authoritarians from across the state to converge in Phoenix in a mere two weeks to run these nazis back outta town!

Most movie sequels are just an excuse for studios to tap into the a successful concept and to milk it for every last dollar, and so in calling for a second mobilization against the NSM we were uneasy going "back to the well," to conceptualize the next manifestation of resistance to these damn racists. It got me to thinking, like any good sequel aren't there some "plot threads" left unresolved from the last year that beg for some resolution this time around?

Will the liberal and leftist organizers, who denounced the successful counter protest last year as a bunch of "crazies", come protest the NSM this time, or will they denounce us again? Can we provide the NSM a more disastrous exit this time than their car accident last year while fleeing the anti-nazi mob? Will we once again be standing alongside libertarians, constitutionalists, and veterans, who broke with the rightwing last year to oppose a fascist anti-immigrant rally? Can we bring out more people from across the state this time around and shut down this nazi shindig before it even kicks off?

There will also be a change in venue this time around, last year the NSM rallied at the state capitol, this time around they'll be rallying in support of the anti-immigrant law SB 1070 at the Sandra Day O'Connor U.S. District court building in downtown Phoenix. The exact details are below.

The anti-nazi contingent will be gathering at Noon on Saturday, November 13 at the Sandra Day O'Connor U.S. District court building located at 401 W. Washington St. in downtown Phoenix. According to their own web page, the NSM plan on marching at 1 PM, arriving at the courthouse by 2 PM for an hour of permitted speeches, before they leave at 3 PM, so plan on spending a few hours in downtown that Saturday.

Spread the word far and wide!

Against all borders, against white supremacy! See you in the streets!

And check out this trailer our comrades made!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

New PCWC downloadable pamphlet thanks to Rise Like Lions!

Thanks to the new (at least to us) publishing operation Rise Like Lions for putting together a PDF pamphlet version of my recent essay "Union of Arsonists" faster than I could get one done myself. And it looks damn good, too! Cheers to them for a job well done.

I also like RLL's mission statement:
Rise Like Lions is an anarchist project with the aim to place beautiful and dangerous anarchist writing into the hands of the multitude. Our personal history is that of the lower class, the disposable class, and the texts that we select for publication are texts we wish had been put in our hands when we were young, full of hate and contempt for our jobs and society, and had no hope that another world was possible.

The texts we choose are texts that show that another world is possible, and that in fact, another world is inevitable, for better or for worse. These texts promote and document the attack on a society that is dead to us, a society that would crush every hope and dream we have of living wild and free, a society that is fit to be destroyed.

The pamphlets we create are meant to be placed into the hands of anyone that can identify with them: the workers, the drop-outs, those who are without, the dispossessed. They are to be handed out at community potlucks, anti-police rallies, social centers, and to be given to your friends, your neighbors, and your parents. This shit right here? This is for the proles on their strolls.

Though a good portion of the texts we choose to publish can be labeled as insurrectionary, we hesitate to label this project as such. We refuse any sort of dichotomy that would attempt to split the anarchist movement into different “factions” with essential characteristics, and we will never print any text that would promote a specific milieu at the expense of another. We recognize the necessity of both the daytime and the nighttime attack, the smashing of windows, the burning of cop cars, while also seeing the empowerment felt by communities coming together and organizing under a specific identity. Effective resistance can look radically different between differing geographical locations, circumstances, and cultures, and we choose to promote a complete diversity of tactics.

No war but social war!

From occupied Coast Salish territory,
rise like lions at riseup dot net
I like and share their recognition that different struggles in different places may have different characteristics and that these don't make one superior to the other. We need to evaluate each of our specific conditions carefully in the light of other struggles, but not dictated by them. RLL's similar rejection of the elevating of specific tactics over others sits just right with me, as well. While our actions are guided by our politics in specific ways, the right anarchist tactics are the anarchist tactics that work where and when you are, not necessarily the ones that are working somewhere else or at another time.

As a general looting of the broad anarchist canon and tactical manual has always appealed to my anarcho-sensibilities, I am also quite fond of their rejection of sectarianism within our movement and their wise determination to avoid playing into the what I think is a false game of division within movements and scenes over this or that particular anarchist politics (with, of course, the obvious exceptions when it comes to so-called 'anarcho-capitalists' and 'national anarchists', of course, who deserve the full force of our wrath).

Finally, I also like their determination to inspire with their publications. When the Greek anarchists were here they made a point to tell us that they showed images of victory in their presentations, not of police brutality or of defeat. That really struck a chord with us here at PCWC, because we've always thought it was very important to create and celebrate our victories. (And along those lines, here's some other reading material that might be relevant to upcoming events.)

So, cheers, Rise Like Lions! Here's to you, and good luck! A breath of fresh air, indeed!


In related news, I'm about halfway through putting together a pamphlet version of my examination of the anti-speed camera struggles in the Valley, "When the Border is Everywhere". Look for that to be posted up soon. I've also been having some thoughts about a Phoenix anarchist book/pamphlet fair some time this winter. No solid plans, but something to think about for the future. I'm interested in feedback on such a thing were one to be organized, so let me know your thoughts if you have any on it.

You can download RLL's delightful pamphlet version of "Union of Arsonists" here.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Phoenix stands with Oscar Grant: Film showing and discussion on police brutality

Oscar Grant

Is the police meltdown in full effect? Not a day goes by, of late, without news of some scandal, brutality, or murder coming from one of the valley police agencies. It's not just here either, across the country there appears to be a rise in the reports of increasing violence and abuse coming from the authorities, much of it coming to light because the people witnessing these incidents are recording it, sharing it on the internet, and a corporate news outlet eventually catches wise and reports on it.

In no case is this more clear than the murder of Oscar Grant, an unarmed man shot and killed by Johannes Mehserle, an Oakland transit cop, on a BART platform in the early hours of new year's day 2009. A friend, and activist from the Los Angeles solidarity efforts in the Grant case, is in town and is giving a presentation and showing a video on Oscar Grant's case to commemorate the annual October 22 national day against police brutality (albeit a day late, there was a scheduling conflict with the event being hosted on the 22nd). This will also be a good opportunity for anyone interested in meeting up and networking with others who are also interested in organizing and fighting back against the police.

If there's one lesson I've learned over the years of agitating against the police and in support of community control, it's that reform is a failure. Whether in the form of a citizen review board, or sensitivity training for officers, these are superficial changes to an institution that was created to protect the rich and their property, and to keep poor people down by force, when necessary. When we say we have to abolish the police, that includes this whole stinking system, the bureaucrats, politicians, and capitalists who demand social peace maintained by the police, so that workers go to work, pay the rent and bills, and line the pockets of everyone who controls where we sleep, what goods we use, and where we travel.

As anarchists, we having nothing but contempt for the social peace of the state, achieved through coercion and violence, which is why when we demand justice for those murdered by cops, we are demanding the abolition of those who seek to control and dominate.

A sign at a recent protest against killer Phoenix cop Richard Chrisman

The statement below was written up by the organizer of Saturday's Oscar Grant event in Phoenix, if you're interested in putting armed authoritarians in their place, this event is a good start.



Showing of the Film, "Operation Small Axe"
Discussion of Police Brutality and the Oscar Grant Shooting

Moderated by Elizabeth Venable of the LA Coalition for Justice for Oscar Grant & AZ Immigrants Rights Activist

Saturday, October 23 • 3:00pm - 5:00pm
Conspire Coffee Shop and Art Gallery
901 N. 5th St., Phoenix, AZ

Oscar Grant was an unarmed 22 year old father who was shot in the back by police even though he was fully restrained by two officers and unarmed. The shooting was captured on videotape by multiple people who were on the Oakland BART train.

The officer who shot Grant, Johannes Mehserle, was the first police officer to be tried for Murder for an on-duty offense in the state of California. Immediately before the shooting, one of the officers restraining Grant, Tony Pirrone called Grant the N-word multiple times.

The videos spread throughout the internet and Oakland residents became very angry at what they viewed as the execution of an unarmed man. You can see the video on Youtube.

The Murder trial of Mehserle was moved from Oakland to Los Angeles so that the jury would not be "biased". Judge Perry-- who the case was assigned to-- was the same judge that let off 81 corrupt officers in the RAMPART scandal. There were no African American jurors. The LA
Coalition worked directly with Oscar's family and friends to raise awareness when the trial of Mehserle, the officer who shot Grant, was moved from Oakland to Los Angeles.

Mehserle was convicted of Involuntary Manslaughter--with a weapons enhancement that could get him prison time. However the family of Oscar grant fears that the weapons enhancement will be thrown out so that Mehserle does not have to face prison time.

The sentencing is coming in November and it is critical that advocates pressure the Justice Department to investigate the court proceedings and ensure that the weapons enhancement is not thrown out.


We will have postcards to sign and send to the Justice Department and Judge Perry. We need pressure from the whole US to make it happen!


Sunday, October 17, 2010

Some things of note from the last week

To the left of this article you can see our Reddit feed, which we update regularly with items, mostly articles and news, that we find interesting. That feed gets continually added to, usually several times a day, as we encounter ideas and information that we think are worth considering. If you sign up for Reddit, you can comment and discuss them.

But because of the volume of news that gets posted to the feed, sometimes things can get missed that I think deserve a closer look, so from time to time I like to highlight some of the more important things that showed up on our feed during the week.

(1) The first item I want to point out is Rowland Keshena's piece "J. Sakai and the Struggle for Onkwehonwe Liberation". I first ran into Sakai's ideas in early 2001 with his interview/pamphlet "When Race Burns Class", a deep critique of the revolutionary potentiality of the white working class (and whites generally). This essay, which takes what can only be said to be a deeply pessimistic view of whites' ability to engage in liberatory activity, led me to Sakai's book, "Settlers: The Mythology of the White Proletariat" and then on to Red Rover and Butch Lee's "Night-Vision: Illuminating War & Class on the Neo-Colonial Terrain" and "The Military Strategy of Women and Children".

These works are interesting in their almost nihilistic assertion that the white proletariat represents a bought off labor aristocracy which, even when it appears to be defending larger libertarian goals, is in fact defending its privileged status within American imperialism, a deal it enjoys at the expense of the rest of the class. This stands in stark contrast to race traitor thought, for example, which recognizes the contradictory position of whites in society without writing them off entirely. Indeed, following the Settler logic, one inevitably comes to the same conclusions that Weather did in the 70's: if the white working class is reactionary by nature -- and unredeemable -- then what else can one do but "fight the people".

This is problematic for a variety of reasons, including, as the author points out, the obscuring of class differences within whites by painting them instead with a broad brush. But it also denies the agency of whites in their own liberation and the liberation of others. I find this particularly wrong-headed not least of all because US history provides plenty of examples of whites struggling against white supremacy and the cross-class alliance that it represents. Consider the Abolitionists, to use an example that PCWC is fond of. How does Sakai explain them? To him, they are exceptions, plain and simple. Keshena does a good job of taking on Sakai's arguments and showing their weaknesses.

One thing in particular that I think is worth considering that Sakai misses entirely is the power of the negative example of whiteness. Whiteness, constructed as it from the top and at the same time from below (as Sakai probably correctly points out), while not liberatory, is still a sign of the ability of the white working class to act politically. That is, whiteness is a political relationship to power (by the way, that's a main reason why the "national anarchists" are not anarchists at all, since they defend that relationship) and as such it shows that whites are capable of thinking and acting politically, however wrongly at times.

Indeed whiteness itself is precisely constructed to limit the political imagination of whites -- to ensure that their struggles reinforce rather than challenge power -- and this is in part why some of the most imaginative and transformative periods in American history have been times when whiteness was in crisis. However, this, combined with the examples of whites acting against white supremacy gives us direction where Sakai fails: it allows us to approach the problem of whites and politics from the perspective of tacking how we can change the basic facts and assumptions that lie beneath their choices, how we can frame a politics that doesn't revert back to the short-sighted politics of white supremacy.

In PCWC's opinion, this has always meant fighting to foster the crisis in whiteness. Or, as the race traitors say, to create situations where whiteness cannot be counted on to resolve in the favor of the powers that be. When that crisis happens, dramatic change becomes possible.

(2) The second piece I want to single out is the article "Leninist front-groups and the problems of 'tail-ending' the Left", posted at PropetyIsTheft. As was pointed out at our most recent Beer & Revolution featuring Lawrence Jarach, I think a lot of us here in Phoenix have had a refresher course this summer in the failures, opportunism, obstructionism and parasitism of the left, delivered free of charge by out of town organizations like the so-called Revolutionary Communist Party and local leftists, Puente and Tonatierra.

Time and time again groups like these have proven their unfailing ability to head off militant and radical action, to collaborate with the police in attacks on anarchists, to co-opt grassroots struggle and to divert actions into useless and ineffective petition drives and inane marches. Nothing epitomizes this more than the idiotic attempt by Left party apparatchiks to divert the migrant struggle away from broadly democratic and empowering tactics like general strike and into voting and boycotts. Voting, for instance, is a silly waste of time in any movement, but in this one, composed as it is of such a high percentage of non-citizens who by definition cannot vote, reaches heights of absurdity not seen around these parts in quite some time.

This feature of anarchist history (indeed, general history) -- that tendency to be sold out and attacked by our supposed "comrades" on the Left -- remains a difficult lesson for anarchists to learn, it appears, because the tension reoccurs in every movement. In my organizing experience over the last decade and more, it has been a constant feature of the anti-globalization movement, the anti-war movement and the migrant struggles of today. Such problems have bedeviled anarchists since time immemorial, from the splits of the First International to the Spanish Civil War to the various uprisings in Eastern Europe against communist domination and on through the French May Days of 1968 into the present day. Indeed, I just read John W. F. Dulles' "Anarchists and Communists in Brazil, 1900-1935", and the same thing went on then. It turns out that anarchists and communists don't really want the same thing at all. Who knew?

This simple fact, as obvious as it may seem, still remains very hard for many anarchists to grasp. Post-leftism within anarchy, as I understand it, is an attempt to struggle to recognize this basic truth and to consider ways of relating, supporting and opposing various tendencies and organizations in society as we struggle to overthrow the state and capitalism. Primarily, what post-leftism does is bring into question these generally accepted but also undiscussed quiet alliances, maintained for a variety of reasons (habit seeming prominent among them), between anarchists and the Left that often work not just to our detriment as anarchists, but also to anyone who seeks out genuine self-organization as opposed to that imposed by bureaucratic socialists and capitalists.

"Leninist front-groups and the problems of 'tail-ending' the Left" doesn't identify as post-Left, but it is essentially grappling with the same issues, the problems that come from orienting oneself and the movement towards the Left, especially the authoritarian Left. Finding one's way through disentangling the various biases and reflexive relationships of support and opposition that come with an uncritical relationship with the Left is hard. It requires considering one's moves carefully because one doesn't want to risk, by unshackling oneself from the Left, the danger of adhering somewhere even worse, like the Right, as has obviously happened with the racist unanarchist "National Anarchists".

With PCWC, we have opted to engage critically in all directions. We have reached out to libertarians on the right, and received some criticism for it within the anarchist and Left milieu -- criticism that essentially boils down to the knee-jerk opposition to all elements on the Right that comes with the default affiliation with the Left. This even though our appeals and interactions with the libertarians have been exclusively around anti-racism, anti-fascism and the defense of free movement. And despite our deeply critical and open discussion of what we view as the flaws in the Right libertarian movement in Arizona. The Leftist is concerned primarily with contagion, as if one can engage with authoritarians on the Left without fear but that any association with libertarian elements on the Right is inherently dangerous.

Likewise, when we have stood up in solid opposition to movement hacks and outside authoritarian communist groups, we have been similarly attacked for the Leftist sin of sectarianism, as if remarking on the fact that a group wants a society that is distinctly un-anarchists is a crime against the movement. But which movement? As is pointed out in the piece, maybe it all comes down to how you look at it.

Are anarchists merely a minority wing of a movement that we concede to the more authoritarian, manipulative sections? Or, instead, are we a movement unto ourselves, tireless defenders of self-organization, and participants in a broader struggle that we refuse to allow to be dominated by authoritarian factions. A movement that overlaps various other groups and individuals, but which has its own distinct aims and objectives? Answering this question is at the heart of the way forward, I think, if anarchists are to be anything but the alternating conscience and punching bag of whatever movement happens to be in vogue at whatever time.

(3) Lastly, I want to share an excellent little film (about an hour long), entitled "The Betrayal by Technology" about French theorist and technology critic, Jacques Ellul. Despite the long description of our group in the sidebar, PCWC has always sought to remain un-ideological about our anarchy. We may have a very specific kind of anarchy, with regards to the general anarchist milieu, but we try to avoid getting ourselves too wedded to a particular set of ideas. That's why you see a wide variety of perspectives at our Beer & Revolution night: not because we are big tent anarchists, but because we want to promote ideas that we find valuable and useful, even if we don't agree with the entirety of the rest of the presenter's politics. We've tended, I think, to take what's worth taking and ditch the rest from various strains of anarchism.

And, more often than not, we've likewise tried to use anarchist ideas as critiques rather than reifying them as holy writ. For instance, PCWC is deeply critical of technology, but we approach it from a variety of angles. Our range of influences with regard to technology start first and foremost with our own lived experience, but are also informed by technology critics as varied as labor historian David F. Noble, who focuses on technology as a class war attack on workers and our ability to self-organize our own lives; by technology critics like Kirkpatrick Sale and his analysis of the early resistors to industrialism; and by primitivists like John Zerzan and his deeper questioning of the nature of technological society and the inherent alienation that derives from it.

We do not necessarily identify as primitivist explicitly, although I do think that PCWC falls within the anti-civilization current in a lot of ways, or at least we are not in opposition to it. However, what we do appreciate is the criticisms that primitivism makes possible, both of society and history, but also of movements and the often unstated goals and assumptions that frequently underlie movements, such as ideas about work, resource extraction and the faith in progress. By merely using primitivism as a tool rather than an ideology, we are free to consider the questions it raises, but at the same time to free ourselves from the burden of defending it as a part of our identity. We recognize that there are various ways of looking at technology, even from within the anti-tech current (hell, even from within the labor movement), and each offers something useful when it comes to understanding our relationship to capitalism, the state and technology.

In this film, Ellul makes a point that really resounded with me. Discussing a friend of his, a surgeon, who was confronted with a person amazed at the wonderful advances in transplants made possible by modern medicine, the doctor replies that all those wonderful transplants must be done with healthy, young organs, which means that people with those organs -- young people, naturally -- must die. And most of those young people die in auto accidents. In that sense, as the safety of car travel improves, the availability of organs and the miracles of modern science, diminishes. At the very least, there is a hidden relationship between the two which, if not interrogated, remains obscured largely because of the blind ideology of progress hides it.

At several points in the film Ellul expounds on his general thesis that, despite any sentiments to the contrary, in reality technology is at odds with freedom, a point he drives home most clearly in his analysis of the automobile, that most revered symbol of modern capitalist, industrial freedom. A car on fire at a demonstration is shocking, he says, because it is an attack on the central symbol our modern religion, a technology that purports to deliver us to freedom, but instead drives us to the surgeon's table to be parted out under the knife.

Summing up, I'd like to invite people interested in the ideas PCWC puts out there to join our Reddit feed. There discussion can be had about various issues, political and otherwise. We've considered various other ways to engage with people, including a message board, but until then hopefully the Reddit can be one more way that those of us interested in these kinds of politics can find each other and debate, and hopefully move the anarchist movement out of the activist ghettos and university classrooms, beyond the cliques and scenes and towards something approaching relevant to people and movements outside ourselves, where we can deliver an updated, meaningful anti-authoritarianism as a viable option to the boring, limited movements and ideologies of the present day.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Until all are free: Two political prisoner support events in the valley this week.

State repression is nothing new to anarchists, it has been a facet of revolutionary and liberatory movements throughout history because, let's face it, systems of power react with hostility to those who desire a reordering of relationships. We saw this earlier this year with the notorious police attack on the DO@ bloc, resulting in a large number of people near the bloc being hit by pepper spray, and five Phoenix anti-authoritarians and anarchists getting arrested and facing a number of serious charges. We also have six other comrades who locked down at the Border Patrol HQ in Tucson and are still facing charges for their act of resistance to the militarization of land and movement along the border, they too need our support.

The further we look back, the longer and longer the list gets of our anarchist and anti-authoritarian comrades who are locked up or facing trial across the country. Some of the most notable examples from the last few years are also the most outrageous examples of the lengths the state will go to disrupt our movements' activities, from the resistance to grand juries on fishing expeditions, to the criminalization of organizing protests, and the distressing pre-crime conviction of Eric McDavid.

Keeping our comrades' spirits high while locked up means that they need support from those on the outside, and I'm glad to help get the word out about two events happening this week that are supporting political prisoners.

Above is a flier for a new political prisoner support event being held tonight in Phoenix, organized by our friends at Stronghold, this event will help those attending network and share information on writing to and supporting political prisoners. This event kicks off at 6:30 at Conspire in central Phoenix.

The second event this week will be held in Tempe as the Phoenix Anarchist Coalition (PAC) is once again sponsoring a 5k Running Down the Walls event this year. PAC has maintained a longtime political prisoner support fund, and has organized a number of events to support and get the word out on our comrades locked up for nearly 10 years. For the last few years PAC has organized a solidarity run/walk/ride with other events organized by the political prisoner support organization, the Anarchist Black Cross Federation (ABCF), all funds raised at this run will be sent to the ABCF for their prisoner support Warchest. It is scheduled for Saturday Oct. 16 at Mitchell Park in Tempe, people will be gathering at 5:30pm. Organizers request that you bring your favorite (preferably vegan) covered dish as there will be a potluck picnic after getting back to the park from the 5k.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Beer and Revolution Archives: The Greek Insurrection audio is up!

With the debut of Beer and Revolution "Season Two" last night, featuring Anarchy Magazine contributor and editor Lawrence Jarach, it seemed like a good time to get off our asses and put up some more audio from last year's sudsy symposiums. A couple weeks ago I posted the audio to John Zerzan's presentation at last January's Beer & Rev and this week I finally got around to adding the presentation on the Greek insurrection by Sissy, Tasos and Peter (which was a big hit). Below I've embedded the first part of what was a wide-ranging and very entertaining discussion below.

The more I reflect on the Greek tour, especially having spent some time with them (and quaffed more than a few beers together here and in the Bay) and seeing their presentation twice, I think it is very likely that their visit will be remembered as one of the more remarkable and influential events in recent American anarchist history. Already I have heard the "Cops, pigs, murderers!" chant ring out at more than one anarchist action across the country. In a time where police murder seems more and more the norm, I expect to hear it a lot more. I certainly feel lucky to have had the chance to learn from our Greek comrades about their struggle.

Follow the link back to our youtube page for the rest of it (it's almost two hours total). As usual, to get the full experience, you really need to come to the event. Since it takes place in a very social atmosphere, the sound quality on the recording is not always the best, especially during the q and a. All the more reason to come out and join in the conversation yourself! While you're at our youtube page, check out the favorites section, because there's some interesting talks there that we think are worth checking out. We add to it periodically, so check back from time to time.

Last night's B&R with Lawrence drew a little more than forty people and was a raucous affair. I hope to have that online for your enjoyment in a few days if all goes well. As usual, if you're coming to town or if you're already here and have something that you think may fit in the Beer & Rev format, hit us up. Maybe we can work something out. These are irregular affairs, in that rather than stick to an arbitrary calendar, we do them when we think there's something worth talking about. As of right now, we do have another tentatively planned for March or April. We'd love to do another one (or more) before that, so hit us up if you're interested.

One of the things we want to do with Beer & Rev is to encourage the discussion of anarchist ideas and the development of critical anarchist thinking here in Phoenix, and to do it in a social way that breaks out of the stale lecture model that so often dominates the genre, as well as to challenge ourselves and our ideas. Suggestions, tips, criticisms and comments are always welcome.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Beer and Revolution is back this Sunday! Featuring Lawrence Jarach on Anarchism with(out) the Left

Beer and Revolution returns for the eighth installment this Sunday after taking a lengthy hiatus since we hosted our Greek comrades from the VOID Network back in March. We're pleased to have Lawrence Jarach, a long-time anarchist and a regular contributor to and co-editor of the magazine Anarchy: A Journal of Desire Armed. He'll be giving a talk on one of the more influential anarchist critiques of the left-wing, something Lawrence has described as along the lines of "What's this Post-Left Anarchy Thing I Keep Hearing About?"

Lawrence has written pretty extensively on the historical roots at the base of the modern conflict between authoritarian socialists and libertarian socialists, beginning with the split in the First International over the question of the state. This conflict is summarized in his essay Anarchists, Don't let the Left(overs) Ruin your Appetite:
The initial place where the rivalry between leftists and anarchists occurred was the First International (1864-76). Besides the well-known personal animosity between Marx and Bakunin, conflicts arose between the libertarian socialists and the authoritarian socialists over the ostensible goal of the International: how best to work for the emancipation of the working class. Using parliamentary procedures (voting for representatives) within a framework that accepted the existence of the state was the main tactic supported by the authoritarians. In the non-electoral arena, but remaining firmly within a statist agenda, was the demand of the right of workers to form legal trade unions. In contrast, direct action (any activity that takes place without the permission, aid, or support of politicians or other elected officials) was promoted by the libertarians. Strikes and workplace occupations are the best examples of this method. The leftists preferred persuasion and the petitioning of the ruling class while the anarchists, recognizing the futility of this approach, preferred to take matters into their own hands: peacefully if possible, more insistently if necessary.
The question of the state was just the beginning of a long and contentious relationship between anarchists and the Left, as there have been notable disagreements over other potential "deal breakers" for any anarchist-left unity, specifically over questions on nationalism, self-organization, or political representation. We've seen our ideological differences play out in the battlefields and barricades of a number of revolutions and civil wars in Russia, Spain, Mexico, and Cuba to name a few, as anarchists were attacked, betrayed, and murdered by our "comrades" on the left.

For valley anarchists, we've seen the Left groups dissolve and absorb the popular responses that broke out to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and more recently with the immigrant movement, into the electoral process. My buddy Phoenix Insurgent took note of this on his old blog on a few occasions, and regular readers of this blog have probably come across our criticisms of the leadership of the immigrant movement, specifically their ongoing working relationship with the Phoenix PD, who, it should come as no surprise is no friend to immigrants. As throughout history, we have seen in our own struggles and movement those anarchists who continue to defend, and even justify the actions of left-wing groups whose ideas and actions run counter productive to an anarchist or anti-authoritarian vision. So, needless to say I have great interest to see what Lawrence will have to say when it comes to the possibility of an anarchist movement sans the Left.

Come and join us this Sunday for some beer (if beer's not your thing, perhaps some iced tea or water) and politics. I believe this latest installment of B&R promises to be another challenging and engaging discussion for freedom minded people!

Beer and Revolution will be held at Boulders on Broadway, a restaurant and bar located on the NE corner of Roosevelt and Broadway in Tempe. We have the upstairs section reserved, and this is an all ages event. We'll be there at 8:30 and things will kick off soon afterward, hope to see you there!

I also want to give a shout out to our friends up north at the Taala Hooghan Infoshop in Flagstaff, the inaugural Root Beer & Revolution is happening this month, a sober take on our own night of suds and politics. Their first installment will see folks from Black Mesa Indigenous Support speaking, it all goes down at 6 pm on Tuesday, October 26. $3 gets you in the door, along with a glass of root beer, as I hear it additional root beer and root beer floats will be for sale as well.

I've always been a Groucho Marxist anyway...