against narratives of necessity


This Will Not Be Kent State: Fear, Loathing and Radical Movement: 1960s and the Present

Written in 2001 by Eugene Koveos and Nicole Solomon for ONWARD, “an anarchist newspaper published in Gainesville, Florida between Summer 2000 and Winter 2002/03.”

Carlo Giuliani was given the tragic distinction of being the first high-profile death at a demonstration against capitalist globalization. A 23-year old anarchist, he was gunned down by police and run over by their armored van. As the Group of 8 meeting he protested came to an end, and world leaders dried their crocodile tears, numerous media outlets compared Carlo’s murder and its repercussions to the killings at Kent State university.

However, for the US at least, this is not and likely will not be Kent State. It is worth the comparison to see why the brutal murder of a demonstrator, though explicitly considered a part of a global movement with many participants in the US, is devoid of the same disruption and controversy as the Kent State murders.

Over 30 years before Genoa, four students were murdered during demonstrations at Kent State University on May 4, 1970. Anti-war protests had occurred almost continually on campus in May, and on the second the mayor asked the Ohio National Guard to step in. On the fourth, the National Guard attempted to disperse an unpermitted rally with tear gas, and were met with jeers and occasional rocks by the students. Eventually the Guard fired live ammunition. Most fired into the air or the ground, but some fired directly into the now fleeing crowd. Nine people were seriously injured and 4 killed: Allison Krause, Sandra Scheuer, William Schroeder and Jeffrey Miller. The guardsman claimed they fired because they feared for their lives. This explanation was ultimately upheld in court.

Any contemporary liberatory movement with participants in the US cannot shun analyses that reference this nation’s past movements. Although Carlo Guiliani’s murder occurred in Italy, it has direct relevance to and impact on the US population of the global movement. We recognize that while the movement against capitalist globalization is an international one, US-centricity within the US segment of the movement is a problem. While US-centricty informs the distance from the Genoa tragedy for the US branch of the movement, it may also inform its co-option. We should be particularly mindful of this when discussing the US national impact of events outside the US.

Eleven days after Kent State, a college and a high school student were killed by police and state troopers at Jackson State. National and movement empathy passed over the slain at Jackson State without mass controversy or outrage. There were critical differences between these killings: the Kent State students were white and attending a predominantly white school, while the Jackson State 2 were Black and killed at a historically Black institution. The protests at Jackson State were expressions of rage against a war overseas and the war being waged against those demonstrating in the US. The focus of their anger was not primarily the shootings in Ohio (as was the case with the hundreds of other Kent-related demos that did not result in casualties) but the racist attacks occurring regularly against Black residents of their town. The most confrontational of these protests was caused by a rumor that mayor Charles Evers (brother of slain civil rights leader Medger Evers) and his wife had been murdered. These contextual differences are key: the agenda of the Jackson State students was broader and more personal, illustrating various deeply interlocked manifestations of state violence and oppression in a way that blatantly implicated local power in global imperialism. In essense these demos were both more radical and more threatening.

Confrontations escalated between students and cops. Late in the evening a stand off between students and local and state police ultimately turned fatal. After a bottle was broken (dropped or thrown, no one is sure,) police opened fire. James Earl Green, 17, and Phillip Lafayette Gibbs, 21, were both shot and killed; 12 other students were struck by the bullets, and many more were injured by broken glass as the police fired not only into the crowd outside, but through the windows of the nearby dorm.

The deaths of Green and Gibbs did not receive the justified anger, the mass student strikes, the controversy that compelled Richard Nixon to proclaim the days after Kent State among the worst of his presidential career. Silence was the voice of the racism of the mainstream media, the anti-war movement and the general public. The Jackson State shootings and public reaction illuminate the connections and tensions between the anti-war and civil rights movements of the 60s. These connections were too messy, complicated and implicating for white-dominated organizations, whether media or movement, to examine too closely. Within the pathology of white supremacy, white life is simply worth more than the lives of people of color, and white deaths are more shocking.

Indeed, white supremacy still flourishes and holds white people’s lives at more value than others, both inside and outside of social movements. On June 26, 2001, four protesters were killed and seventeen wounded during protests against the IMF in Point Moresby, Papua New Guinea, during a five-day blockade of federal buildings by approximately 3,000 students and workers. Little media attention was given to these deaths in the US and much of the US movement remains ignorant that these murders even happened. In fact, in researching these murders we were unable to even find the names of our slain comrades.

In this sense the globalization movement still carries with us, unsurprisingly, much of the anti-war movement: its US-centricity and its racism. The movement has not done enough to challenge the workings of white supremacy within and outside of our ranks. That blood was spilled in Papua New Guinea and met with near indifference gives a cold and undeniable truth to that. We will not, nor should we, gain widespread support and build mass movement for global justice until white privilege and supremacy are dismantled to the extent possible for a movement existing within a neo-imperialist, white supremacist nation. That such issues as property destruction have received so much internal attention and been subject to movement debate while attempts to attack movement racism have been generally marginalized and/or tokenized paints a dangerous picture. White-dominated movements build white power, not global resistance nor revolutionary worlds.

While Kent State was a galvanizing event in the United States, perhaps shocking many outside the anti-war movement into sympathy, Giuliani’s murder in Genoa has not elicited a similar response. This is due in part because of the lack of tangibility of the anti-globalization movement’s goals to those outside the movement. Stop the draft, and, more broadly, stop the war, are objectives easier to grasp than to stop the G8. Most people in the United States were probably not even aware such a group existed until the demonstrations occurred and resulted in a night or two of gory news coverage. While revealing that these economic puppeteers are around is one of the points of such demonstrations, what they do and why is still blurry as hell. Even those within the movement, though certain of not only the injustice of these anti-democratic institutions but also the systems from which they are born, may find themselves at a loss when attempting to explain what exactly they do. This is largely due to the secrecy under which these institutions operate, as well as how enmeshed they are within the nuances of world economic trade. The war was obviously a national issue of public concern, and everybody knew it was occurring – though perhaps not the details of exactly what was happening and why. The possibilities of alternatives to capitalism are invisibilized and whether to support this economic system is a non-issue. It is hardly a matter of public debate.

The context in which the murder in Genoa occurred was one of perceived stagnancy versus the time of perceived possibility and chaos that was the 60’s. Kent State happened not long after 1968, a year of global uprising and massive political disruption. For example, students and workers declared a general strike and paralyzed France. Within the United States, each day brought news coverage of new upheaval and unrest. In this year alone, both Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy were assassinated. These times were indicative of both potential transformation and great national fear. Today, within the U.S., we do not experience such high profile and broadly effecting political events that create situations in which anything seems possible, be it the revolution or the apocalypse. Fundamental change is felt an impossibility and demonstrators are not met with questions of what they will change, but only perhaps the unproductive violence they will “create” and how much they will inconvenience commuters. The deeply entrenched status quo seems immutable.

The fact that Genoa demonstrations occurred overseas also contributes to the lack of widespread U.S. attention. In fact, by Sunday’s weekly wrap-up, the protest and murder were nothing but an interesting footnote in U.S. media. While the current mode of mainstream news is that of an accelerated profit-driven business, exploiting then abandoning stories, the fact that this horror occurred in Italy facilitated a disconnect. Carlo’s death was explicitly contextualized by the news within recent – mostly U.S. located – demonstrations. So were the escalating tactics of demonstrators requiring police discipline. However, the murderous behavior of the Italian cops was not. The subtext of these reports was that such disorderly and problematic resolutions to social unrest occur “over there.” To make the story more exciting to U.S. viewers, the fireworks of the demonstrations were directly linked to those at demonstrations here, but without linking the deadly police response. To do so would implicate law enforcement in the United States more than was necessary. It would also implicate the citizens of this country beyond pure voyeurism.

While Carlo’s murder generated a brief flurry of U.S. media excitement, the story lacked the emotional weight for the public that the Kent State killings did. The Kent State murders were so jarring partly because they smashed both a sense of security felt by those both within and outside the academy, and the notion of the sanctity of the university. Demonstrations by students, whether one supported them or not, could be seen as on the continuum of free debate and expression that was theoretically a cornerstone of academic life. Such security was compounded by the privileged locations of academics. Students for whom police violence is not a personal reality may feel a sense of entitlement to expression of their views, and lack of fear that there could be truly dangerous results to such expression. This naiveté was characteristic of the 60s student anti-war movement, and stands in direct contrast to the sometimes over-lapping civil rights movement. The student movement enjoyed a measure of safety, not only because it was based on the safe zone of the campus but because of white, classed privilege.

The civil rights movement took to the culturally-constructed unsafe zone of the streets and was led by Black people who did not as a group benefit from the same privileges, and could not afford to enjoy the same naivete, as the students. People within the civil rights movement regularly encountered police violence, there was not the option to have a loss-of-innocence event.

These splits highlight some of the strengths and weaknesses of the current anti-capitalist globalization movement, which has much in common with both the civil rights and student anti-war movements of the 1960s. Though there are many white students involved, it is not a student movement. The locations of demonstrations are not campuses but the streets. The U.S. segment of the movement clearly suffers from white-centricity, with high-profile factions and events entrenched in white domination. With this comes the cloud of privilege that disrupts effective organization and facilitates a (sometimes false, sometimes not) sense of security amongst activists who may not occupy marginalized and oppressed locations. In general, however, factions of the movement today who engage in street activism are less wide-eyed and innocent than those in the 60s student movement, as every mass mobilization (which, problematically, have been centralized in resistance only against capitalist globalization) has been met with escalating state violence. Mass numbers of demonstrators are regularly beaten and jailed, and for longer than just overnight. It’s never a surprise when the cops show up and get rowdy.

The “good protester”/”bad protester” theme that has emerged in the media, the non-movement identified public, and the movement itself has also had explicit effects upon the impact of Genoa, deadening and differing it from Kent State. While variations on this theme thrived in the 60’s and 70’s as well, the Kent State victims were constructed as “good protesters.” They were, so the story goes, non-violent, fleeing the approaching National Guard, who were later revealed to have planned to attack all along. They were privileged students, seen as innocents, “our children” to a degree – even in the specifically fear-and-distrust-infused, generation-gapped 60s. While lying politicians initially spun the event in a manner that allowed many to see the kids as having had it coming, students nation-wide mobilized effectively in protest.

While Europe was a different story, with major, continent-wide demonstrations of sorrow and rage following the murder of Giuliani, the reaction within the U.S. was more muted. Its important to remember that the Kent State 4 as individuals may not have been as scary to those invested in the system as Giuliani – they were “good protesters.” They were white college kids, a random four students out of a massive crowd, one of whom was just heading to class and actually opposed the demonstrations. Maybe if some privileged Green party members had been taken down at a Rally 4 Ralph it would be comparable, but comrade Carlo was criminalized as an anarchist, blatantly opposing capitalism, and coming at the cops with a fire extinguisher. Never mind how much danger a fire extinguisher realistically poses to an armored police vehicle, Carlo has, in a sense, been constructed as the ultimate bad protester paying the ultimate price. And within this ideology he clearly deserved to pay it. Even leftist periodical In these Times felt the need to editorialize on Carlo’s “foolish”ness and how “terrified” the young cop was, after blasting “violent” protesters for committing property destruction that “overshadowed” the bulk of the respectable demonstrators. The author attributes the murder to these factors, as well as the mistake of arming the cops with live ammunition rather than those lovely rubber bullets. While no less a man than W. has solemnly dubbed Carlo’s death a tragedy, the mainstream remains unshocked and undisturbed. He definitely had it coming. Unfortunately, outside of certain circles, reaction internal to the U.S. movement itself has been mixed at best, sometimes straying to the right of Bush’s proclamation. In a scurry for respect, many have distanced themselves from Giuliani, condemned him, even extended sympathy to the cops. There has been no massive public outrage and sorrow. Empathetic rage has become a casualty of “good protester”/”bad protester” politics.

In his book SDS, Kirkpatrick Sale reports that the reaction to Kent State within the U.S. was massive uproar and upheaval:

“The impact is only barely suggested by the statistics, but they are impressive enough. In the next four days, from May 5 to May 8, there were major campus demonstrations at a rate of more than 100 a day, students at a total of at least 350 institutions went on strike and 536 schools were shut down completely for some period of time, 51 of them for the entire year. More than half of the colleges and universities in the country (1,350) were ultimately touched by protest demonstrations, involving nearly 60% of the student population (nearly five million students) in every kind of institution and in every state in the union.”

While there were protests in major cities across the U.S. following Giuliani’s death, they were no where near the scale of those post-Kent State in terms of numbers of people involved or impact on business running as usual. Those who do not identify as part of the new movement or listen to Pacifica radio probably were not aware that there was any angry reaction at all.

Now, shortly after the murder, we run the risk of letting the mournful energy produced by the tragedy dissipate. Without unduly romanticizing Carlo Giuliani’s life and death, without martyrizing him, we have the opportunity to honor him and all others fighting and sometimes dying in the war against what author bell hooks calls White Supremacist Capitalist Patriarchy. We can honor them by tapping into our righteous fury and funneling that emotion into action, by using this tragedy as a catalyst to expose the murder machine of global capitalism for what it is. We cannot let the public forget or gloss over the events of July 20. We are obligated as those driven by desire for a just world to fight like hell against the inevitable historical re-writing of the murder as anything other than what it was.

Kent State and Genoa were two very different chapters in histories of resistance, with very different aftermaths in the U.S. The fact that Carlo Giuliani’s murder and those of other anti-capitalist globalization activists have not generated the outcry that Kent State ushered must spur us on to vital organizing. No death can go by unnoticed. We must build the mass movement for which we yearn and others have died.

Eugene Koveos is a student at Queens City College in New York City and works with the October 22nd Coalition Against Police Brutality.

Nicole Solomon is a writer and musician living in New York City.


via Tumblr, August 2013

Jerry Koch, currently incarcerated for grand jury resistance and supported by many across the country, has contributed repeatedly to the perpetuation of rape culture, misogyny, and white supremacy within the anarchist / left radical community in New York. We are writing in solidarity with those who have been harmed directly by Jerry, those whose abusers and rapists Jerry has defended, those whose rape revenge tactics have been exposed and condemned by Jerry, those whom Jerry has publicly targeted for their feminism in ways that directly expose them to state repression and social ostracization, and those who have been harmed by comrades of Jerry’s at his direct instigation.

Our aim here is to publicly name Jerry’s violent and statist behaviors and to challenge the narrative of pristine martyrdom that has been built around his grand jury resistance. But we also wish to show that it is possible to be both in solidarity and in antagonism with people and movements. If we cannot hold this complexity, all fractions of resistance and revolt will be easily obliterated from the inside.

The state is not our only enemy: Misogyny, white supremacy, capitalism, and other forms of violence and domination replicate state structures on both broad and intimate scales, even within radical communities. Today, we see that grand juries are being used with increasing and alarming frequency to target radicals. This tactic of intimidation is not new, and neither is resistance to it. We unequivocally support all forms of non-cooperation with the state, and we recognize Jerry’s refusal to snitch as an act of solidarity. However, the solidarity he has demonstrated in resisting the grand jury does not wipe away his history of misogynist, racist, and counterrevolutionary actions.

We stand in opposition to grand juries while also denouncing rape apologists. We are in solidarity with Jerry’s grand jury resistance and we are against his disgusting, vicious, and destructive actions of the near past. We are comfortable in this contradictory position of solidarity and antagonism: It is the position in which we live every day. There are many of us here. We encourage all comrades to realize that you do not need to ignore someone’s destructive behavior just because they are under attack from an enemy. To argue that Jerry’s repression at the hands of the state trumps or mitigates his misogynist and racist actions is a grave political mistake.

In recent decades, grand juries have frequently targeted participants and leaders of Black liberation struggles. Jerry’s comrades and supporters have portrayed him as an heir to this legacy of Black resistance. This is preposterous and disturbing. Jerry has ignored race and gender entirely in his political positions and actions. He has actively oppressed people of color in radical communities and has never publicly acknowledged or taken responsibility for this, nor have his peers openly confronted him about his racist behavior. Jerry and his supporters have referenced the history of Black and Brown liberation in relation to Jerry’s incarceration without self-reflection or accountability, and in so doing they participate in a long legacy of appropriating, silencing, and watering down that history. Through their sloppy, de-politicized invocation of Black struggles, they contribute actively to the perpetuation of white supremacy – against which those struggles were and continue to be waged. They also reveal their true interest: the consolidation of a white revolution.

Supporting our comrades doesn’t just mean supporting them when they’re in a difficult situation. It also means confronting them when they are reproducing the very structures they purport to fight against. We must challenge ourselves and one another to do the work necessary to prevent ourselves from becoming unwitting allies of the state, capitalism, white supremacy, and patriarchy. We all make mistakes, but when any of us is allowed to consistently destroy and suppress true revolt, that person and their silent peers are all guilty.

Community support means standing by grand jury resistors and acting in solidarity with comrades who have experienced violence within the spaces we share. Get used to this uncomfortable position. It is the position of struggle.

For additional perspectives, check out the following resources, all available online: “Why Misogynists Make Great Informants: How Gender Violence on the Left Enables State Violence in Radical Movements”; “Betrayal: A Critical Analysis of Rape Culture in Anarchist Subcultures”; “The Revolution Starts at Home: Confronting Partner Abuse in Activist Communities”; and “Vikki Law: Resisting Gender Violence Without Cops or Prisons”.

selected retoasts








“The Pitfalls of Liberalism”, by Stokely Carmichael (Kwame Ture)

from the book Stokely Speaks: From Black Power to Pan Africanism, 1969

Whenever one writes about a problem in the United States, especially concerning the racial atmosphere, the problem written about is usually black people, that they are either extremist, irresponsible, or ideologically naive.

What we want to do here is to talk about white society, and the liberal segment of white society, because we want to prove the pitfalls of liberalism, that is, the pitfalls of liberals in their political thinking.

Whenever articles are written, whenever political speeches are given, or whenever analyses are made about a situation, it is assumed that certain people of one group, either the left or the right, the rich or the poor, the whites or the blacks, are causing polarization. The fact is that conditions cause polarization, and that certain people can act as catalysts to speed up the polarization; for example, Rap Brown or Huey Newton can be a catalyst for speeding up the polarization of blacks against whites in the United States, but the conditions are already there. George Wallace can speed up the polarization of white against blacks in America, but again, the conditions are already there.

Many people want to know why, out of the entire white segment of society, we want to criticize the liberals. We have to criticize them because they represent the liaison between other groups, between the oppressed and the oppressor. The liberal tries to become an arbitrator, but he is incapable of solving the problems. He promises the oppressor that he can keep the oppressed under control; that he will stop them from becoming illegal (in this case illegal means violent). At the same time, he promises the oppressed that he will be able to alleviate their suffering—in due time. Historically, of course, we know this is impossible, and our era will not escape history.

The most perturbing question for the liberal is the question of violence. The liberal’s initial reaction to violence is to try to convince the oppressed that violence is an incorrect tactic, that violence will not work, that violence never accomplishes anything. The Europeans took America through violence and through violence they established the most powerful country in the world. Through violence they maintain the most powerful country in the world. It is absolutely absurd for one to say that violence never accomplishes anything.

Today power is defined by the amount of violence one can bring against one’s enemy—that is how you decide how powerful a country is; power is defined not by the number of people living in a country, it is not based on the amount of resources to be found in that country, it is not based upon the good will of the leaders or the majority of that people. When one talks about a powerful country, one is talking precisely about the amount of violence that that country can heap upon its enemy. We must be clear in our minds about that. Russia is a powerful country, not because there are so many millions of Russians but because Russia has great atomic strength, great atomic power, which of course is violence. America can unleash an infinite amount of violence, and that is the only way one considers America powerful. No one considers Vietnam powerful, because Vietnam cannot unleash the same amount of violence. Yet if one wanted to define power as the ability to do, it seems to me that Vietnam is much more powerful than the United States. But because we have been conditioned by Western thoughts today to equate power with violence, we tend to do that at all times, except when the oppressed begin to equate power with violence—then it becomes an “incorrect” equation.

Most societies in the West are not opposed to violence. The oppressor is only opposed to violence when the oppressed talk about using violence against the oppressor. Then the question of violence is raised as the incorrect means to attain one’s ends. Witness, for example, that Britain, France, and the United States have time and time again armed black people to fight their enemies for them. France armed Senegalese in World War II, Britain of course armed Africa and the West Indies, and the United States always armed the Africans living in the United States. But that is only to fight against their enemy, and the question of violence is never raised. The only time the United States or England or France will become concerned about the question of violence is when the people whom they armed to kill their enemies will pick up those arms against them. For example, practically every country in the West today is giving guns either to Nigeria or to Biafra. They do not mind giving those guns to those people as long as they use them to kill each other, but they will never give them guns to kill another white man or to fight another white country.

The way the oppressor tries to stop the oppressed from using violence as a means to attain liberation is to raise ethical or moral questions about violence. I want to state emphatically here that violence in any society is neither moral nor is it ethical. It is neither right nor is it wrong. It is just simply a question of who has the power to legalize violence.

It is not a question of whether it is right to kill or it is wrong to kill; killing goes on. Let me give an example. If I were in Vietnam, if I killed thirty yellow people who were pointed out to me by white Americans as my enemy, I would be given a medal. I would become a hero. I would have killed America’s enemy—but America’s enemy is not my enemy. If I were to kill thirty white policemen in Washington, D.C. who have been brutalizing my people and who are my enemy, I would get the electric chair. It is simply a question of who has the power to legalize violence. In Vietnam our violence is legalized by white America. In Washington, D.C., my violence is not legalized, because Africans living in Washington, D.C., do not have the power to legalize their violence.

I used that example only to point out that the oppressor never really puts an ethical or moral judgment on violence, except when the oppressed picks up guns against the oppressor. For the oppressor, violence is simply the expedient thing to do.

Is it not violent for a child to go to bed hungry in the richest country in the world? I think that is violent. But that type of violence is so institutionalized that it becomes a part of our way of life. Not only do we accept poverty, we even find it normal. And that again is because the oppressor makes his violence a part of the functioning society. But the violence of the oppressed becomes disruptive. It is disruptive to the ruling circles of a given society. And because it is disruptive it is therefore very easy to recognize, and therefore it becomes the target of all those who in fact do not want to change the society. What we want to do for our people, the oppressed, is to begin to legitimize violence in their minds. So that for us violence against the oppressor will be expedient. This is very important, because we have all been brainwashed into accepting questions of moral judgment when violence is used against the oppressor.

If I kill in Vietnam I am allowed to go free; it has been legalized for me. It has not been legitimatized in my mind. I must legitimatize it in my own mind, and even though it is legal I may never legitimatize in in my own mind. There are a lot of people who came back from Vietnam, who have killed where killing was legalized, but who still have psychological problems over the fact that they have killed. We must understand, however, that to legitimatize killing in one’s mind does not make it legal. For example, I have completely legitimatized in my mind the killing of white policemen who terrorize black communities. However, if I get caught killing a white policeman, I have to go to jail, because I do not as yet have the power to legalize that type of killing. The oppressed must begin to legitimatize that type of violence in the minds of our people, even though it is illegal at this time, and we have to keep striving every chance we get to attain that end.

Now, I think the biggest problem with the white liberal in America, and perhaps the liberal around the world, is that his primary task is to stop confrontation, stop conflicts, not to redress grievances, but to stop confrontation. And this is very clear, it must become very, very clear in all our minds. Because once we see what the primary task of the liberal is, then we can see the necessity of not wasting time with him. His primary role is to stop confrontation. Because the liberal assumes a priori that a confrontation is not going to solve the problem. This of course, is an incorrect assumption. We know that.

We need not waste time showing that this assumption of the liberals is clearly ridiculous. I think that history has shown that confrontation in many cases has resolved quite a number of problems – look at the Russian revolution, the Cuban revolution, the Chinese revolution. In many cases, stopping confrontation really means prolonging suffering.

The liberal is so preoccupied with stopping confrontation that he usually finds himself defending and calling for law and order, the law and order of the oppressor. Confrontation would disrupt the smooth functioning of the society and so the politics of the liberal leads him into a position where he finds himself politically aligned with the oppressor rather than with the oppressed.

The reason the liberal seeks to stop confrontation—and this is the second pitfall of liberalism—is that his role, regardless of what he says, is really to maintain the status quo, rather than to change it. He enjoys economic stability from the status quo and if he fights for change he is risking his economic stability. What the liberal is really saying is that he hopes to bring about justice and economic stability for everyone through reform, that somehow the society will be able to keep expanding without redistributing the wealth.

This leads to the third pitfall of the liberal. The liberal is afraid to alienate anyone, and therefore he is incapable of presenting any clear alternative.

Look at the past presidential campaign in the United States between Nixon, Wallace, and Humphrey. Nixon and Humphrey, because they try to consider themselves some sort of liberals, did not offer any alternatives. But Wallace did, he offered clear alternatives. Because Wallace was not afraid to alienate, he was not afraid to point out who had caused errors in the past, and who should be punished. The liberals are afraid to alienate anyone in society. They paint such a rosy picture of society and they tell us that while things have been bad in the past, somehow they can become good in the future without restructuring society at all.

What the liberal really wants is to bring about change which will not in any way endanger his position. The liberal says, “It is a fact that you are poor, and it is a fact that some people are rich but we can make you rich without affecting those people who are rich”. I do not know how poor people are going to get economic security without affecting the rich in a given country, unless one is going to exploit other peoples. I think that if we followed the logic of the liberal to its conclusion we would find that all we can get from it is that in order for a society to become equitable we must begin to exploit other peoples.

Fourth, I do not think that liberals understand the difference between influences and power, and the liberals get confused seeking influence rather than power. The conservatives on the right wing, or the fascists, understand power, though, and they move to consolidate power while the liberal pushes for influence.

Let us examine the period before civil rights legislation in the United States. There was a coalition of the labor movement, the student movement, and the church for the passage of certain civil rights legislation; while these groups formed a broad liberal coalition, and while they were able to exert their influence to get certain legislation passed, they did not have the power to implement the legislation once it became law. After they got certain legislation passed they had to ask the people whom they were fighting to implement the very things that they had not wanted to implement in the past. The liberal fights for influence to bring about change, not for the power to implement the change. If one really wants to change a society, one does not fight to influence change and then leave the change to someone else to bring about. If the liberals are serious they must fight for power and not for influence.

These pitfalls are present in his politics because the liberal is part of the oppressor. He enjoys the status quo; while he himself may not be actively oppressing other people, he enjoys the fruits of that oppression. And he rhetorically tries to claim the he is disgusted with the system as it is.

While the liberal is part of the oppressor, he is the most powerless segment within that group. Therefore when he seeks to talk about change, he always confronts the oppressed rather than the oppressor. He does not seek to influence the oppressor, he seeks to influence the oppressed. He says to the oppressed, time and time again, “You don’t need guns, you are moving too fast, you are too radical, you are too extreme.” He never says to the oppressor, “You are too extreme in your treatment of the oppressed,” because he is powerless among the oppressors, even if he is part of that group; but he has influence, or, at least, he is more powerful than the oppressed, and he enjoys this power by always cautioning, condemning, or certainly trying to direct and lead the movements of the oppressed.

To keep the oppressed from discovering his pitfalls the liberal talks about humanism. He talks about individual freedom, about individual relationships. One cannot talk about human idealism in a society that is run by fascists. If one wants a society that is in fact humanistic, one has to ensure that the political entity, the political state, is one that will allow humanism. And so if one really wants a state where human idealism is a reality, one has to be able to control the political state. What the liberal has to do is to fight for power, to go for the political state and then, once the liberal has done this, he will be able to ensure the type of human idealism in the society that he always talks about.

Because of the above reasons, because the liberal is incapable of bringing about the human idealism which he preaches, what usually happens is that the oppressed, whom he has been talking to finally becomes totally disgusted with the liberal and begins to think that the liberal has been sent to the oppressed to misdirect their struggle, to rule them. So whether the liberal likes it or not, he finds himself being lumped, by the oppressed, with the oppressor—of course he is part of that group. The final confrontation, when it does come about, will of course include the liberal on the side of the oppressor. Therefore if the oppressed really wants a revolutionary change, he has no choice but to rid himself of those liberals in his rank.

Kwame Ture
(aka Stokely Carmichael)

Kwame Ture was born Stokely Carmichael on June 29, 1941 in Port of Spain, Trinidad, the son of Adolphus and Mabel Carmichael. He immigrated to the United States in 1952 with his family and settled in New York, New York. He graduated from the academically elite Bronx High School of Science in 1960 and made the decision to attend Howard University. Howard University conferred on him a Bachelor of Science Degree in Philosophy in 1964.

It was while in Washington that Stokely became deeply involved in the “Freedom Rides,” “Sit-Ins,” and other demonstrations to challenge segregation in American society. He participated with the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) and the Nonviolent Action Group (NAG). He later joined the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and was elected its National Chairman in June 1966. While in Greenville, Mississippi, he along with his friend and colleague Willie Ricks, rallied the cry “Black Power” which became the most popular slogan of the Civil Rights era. Consequently, he became the primary spokesman for the Black Power ideology. In 1967, he coauthored with Charles V. Hamilton, Black Power, the Politics of Liberation in America. That same year, Stokely was disassociated from SNCC and he became the Prime Minister of the Black Panthers, headquartered in Oakland, California. He soon became disenchanted with the Panthers and moved to Guinea, West Africa.

While residing in Africa, Stokely Carmichael changed his name to “Kwame Ture” to honor Kwame Nkrumah, who led Ghana to independence from Britain, and, Sekou Toure, who was President of Guinea and his mentor. For more than 30 years, Ture led the All-African People’s Revolutionary Party and devoted the rest of his life to Pan Africanism, a movement to uproot the inequities of racism for people of African descent and to develop an economic and cultural coalition among the African Diaspora.

In 1998, at the age of 57, Kwame Ture died from complications of prostate cancer. To the end he answered the telephone, “ready for the revolution.” His marriage to Miriam Makeba and Guinean physician Marlyatou Barry ended in divorce. He has one son, Bokar, who resides in the United States.


Tonight: Interest/Planning Meeting for a Direct Action Class!

Direct Action and Radical Social Theory: Interest Meeting

Bash Back! 2009: An Editor’s Note

from Queer Ultraviolence: A Bash Back! Anthology, by Fray Baroque & Tegan Eanelli

On Saturday night of the convergence, a now-infamous queer dance party on the El train turned into a spontaneous and illegal march in the streets. Hundreds of people paraded through Chicago’s assimilationist gay neighborhood, Boystown. The atmosphere was joyous, with people dancing wildly and wearing lingerie as masks. Some were completely naked except for their face coverings. The police subsequently attacked the peaceful yet illegal march. People near the back of the march began to place newspaper boxes into the street to stop the police from running queers down. At this point, shameful people in the crowd removed the boxes and screamed, “This is not polite!” With the boxes back on the sidewalk, the pigs were able to injure participants with their cars. The march ended with four people in jail, and one person hospitalized after a police cruiser intentionally drove over their foot.

The following morning, leftist-seeming elements at the convergence flung wild conspiracy theories to disrupt the original radical predisposition of Bash Back! Although there was no black bloc and not a single window was smashed, spineless “outside agitators” claimed they were tricked into participating in a black bloc, and put into harm’s way. Some thought the march was oppressive because there was no consensus to have a riot. First of all, if those people thought that march was a riot, they clearly have no idea what a riot is. Had there been a spontaneous riot, what are the rioters supposed to do? Are they supposed to sit in the middle of the street, in front of the police and vote on whether or not to fight the police?

Many white attendees who had flocked to Chicago from the coasts claimed the spontaneous Bash Back! action was racist. When queer people of color from the Midwest countered otherwise, they were met with a brief silence followed by white people proclaiming that the “black bloc” was indeed racist. These “anti-racist” whites added that the partiers on the train exposed Black people to queerness, which was also “racist.” By the logic of these white “anti-racists,” there must be no queer people of color. The whites and cisgendered people insisted the action was also transphobic, despite trans people telling them not to speak for trans people. Some men even went on to call the actions of women “manarchist.” In a tone implying his guilt, Eric Stanley, of the defunct Gay Shame San Francisco, and now a lecturer at the University of California Santa Cruz, cattily said to a Bash Back! organizer, “Just so you know, people are descending upon Bash Back! to destroy it.”

Lez-be-real here. Propaganda for the convergence said things like, “You bring the balaclavas, orgies, and riot.” There were posters with images of rifles, riots, and people brandishing assorted weapons. Had any one of the people who objected to the street march on the basis that it was oppressive or unsafe read a flier, poster, communiqué, or for that matter, anything Bash Back! produced? lt was absolutely clear what kind of people would be attending the Convergence and the tactics Bash Back! advocated were even more clear.

Liberal provocateurs used any sort of identity politics to shade their own cowardice. When the very people these leftists claimed to represent (people of color, transfolks) countered the liberal narrative, they were silenced in the name of anti-racism and trans-solidarity. Rather than admitting their fear and guilt, “anarcho-liberals” fall back on racist tactics of refusal. They ignore, isolate, and alienate people of color (minus a few tokens) to create their own Twilight Zone anti-racist narrative. The Bash Back! tendency was the antithesis of leftist identity politics. The 2009 Convergence was when these two tendencies finally came head to head.

“safe spaces”

from destroy the scene: BROS FALL BACK

Advocates for Youth have defined a “safe space” as:

“A place where anyone can relax and be fully self-expressed, without fear of being made to feel uncomfortable, unwelcome, or unsafe on account of biological sex, race/ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, cultural background, age, or physical or mental ability; a place where the rules guard each person’s self-respect and dignity and strongly encourage everyone to respect others.”

“I think many people who use this language either believe that one can create a safe space in this world, or are limited by the language they have picked up in these subcultures. The need for spaces where one can feel comfort, physical security, love, and support is real, but, outside of specific moments, this is impossible without the total destruction of this world.” –VirulentFlowers

We often delude ourselves as punks or radicals; we act as though we’ve made a complete break with our cultures, as if we’ve created a space free of domination. We seem to think that we can simply walk away and leave it all behind. If we really want to actualize the spaces we want we’ll have to do better than that; we’ll need to burn the bridges behind us.

Safe spaces don’t exist. We can attempt to protect each other, and even make moves to screen who we deal with but until we end the world there’s no way we’ll ever be safe, even amongst ourselves. We’ve all gone to similar messed up schools, grown up among creeps, liars and bullies and we can’t simply undo everything that has led us to become the people we’ve become, not without actively unlearning who we are, and without undoing what made us. This isn’t to say that we shouldn’t take care of each other, heal each other and empower each other, only that we need to understand our context. That we are surrounded by misogyny, white supremacy and every other form of domination that holds this world together. We should probably acknowledge pre-existing hostilities.

Starting from a place of hostility, what would it mean to keep each other safe, to protect each other in our spaces, to hold our ground and potentially take more?