Full Speed Ahead!

By Jake Carman

Fellow anarchists, anti-authoritarians, horizontalists, and other such rebels and dreamers: Let’s take a look at ourselves and a deep, collective breath as we prepare to plunge into what could be the most exciting year of our lives (thus far). Across the United States, conditions are ripe to galvanize popular support for an anti-state, anti-capitalist revolutionary movement. We should encourage each other to take ourselves seriously and not let this narrow window to the new world pass us by.

Our country teeters on the edge of economic collapse. As people continue to lose their homes, their jobs, and their savings, the giant middle class that has protected US capitalism is shrinking. The foundations of the capitalist system are becoming shaky. The population is increasingly aware of the pandemic environmental devastation, and it seems like everyone knows who to blame. Most excitingly, save the usual political zealots and activists for this or that candidate, it appears that many people are fed up with the two party system and candidates who don’t represent them. It is our role to bring to the table an alternative, one that is both romantic and tangibly achievable.

At least in Boston, the only city I know and love, anarchism has been rapidly attracting people to the movement. New faces constantly appear at meetings of local groups, new organizations and projects are springing up, and our coordination has vastly improved. Since last August, the Northeast Anarchist Network (NEAN) has blossomed from a dream – a twinkle in the eyes of some BAAM (Boston Anti-Authoritarian Movement) organizers – into a rapidly growing, completely horizontal network including almost 15 organizations and hundreds of participants from south of Washington, DC to the top of Maine. With seven Network assemblies under our belt, our example is an inspiration. Every city and town that hosts a NEAN event plants a seed as new people join up and new groups form. We are all part of a vibrant organization that represents and connects most of the popular trends within anarchism, and more importantly, our organization is structured in such a way to foster massive coordination and effective organizing. Even as far away as Arizona, our comrades’ eyes are on us. We have the opportunity to set a damn good example. So then, comrades, what lies ahead?

Our biggest task is to bring our ideas to the public, a public that is growing increasingly distrustful of its masters. The most effective way to make anarchism accessible is by working within existing community and labor movements and struggles as anarchists – not to shove the word “anarchist” (or our image or fashion or music) down people’s throats, but to expose our neighbors and co-workers to our wonderful ideas.

When we’re asked why we aren’t voting, “Because these candidates all serve the rich, and in fact, no working-class candidate has been or could ever be elected in this corporate two party system” is a much better answer than “Because I’m a bloody anarchist, can’t you read my patches?”

Many community struggles already have dedicated and long-time organizers who hold anti-authoritarian beliefs (though some may not even know it), and our long-term and serious participation will only help clarify these positions. Community and labor struggles, though less glamorous than affinity group-based direct action, are the vital organs that create and sustain any successful revolutionary movement. Let’s lend a hand to the groups who are already building new worlds for themselves.

We must also step up our propaganda efforts, but this should not happen instead of organizing. The Northeast Anarchist Network has a whole campaign dedicated to exposing the electoral system for the fraud that it is and promoting anarchy/direct democracy.

We have a library of ready-made fliers. Download them, photocopy them, blow them up and hang ‘em. Even better, make your own. Drop banners, write songs, make stencils, cover the city walls with our own media decrying the lie they call democracy.

Whenever the far and especially anti-authoritarian Left (that being us) organizes, there is a rapid increase in the organizing of the far and authoritarian Right, be it the State or non-State fascist groups. As we grow, so will our enemies, and we must keep our ears to the ground. The frightening thing is that the Far Right has countless well-armed and trained paramilitary groups, to go along with the US government’s armies and arsenals. That means that in the case of a revolution and civil war, we need to have massive popular support, not only to not lose and die, but to not subject our people to an even deeper fascism. This again illustrates the point that we need to become more involved with the struggles of our neighbors and co-workers. The government and the extreme right are taking us very seriously, as demonstrated by all of the arrests, surveillance, and anti-anarchist propaganda, and we need to take ourselves even more seriously if we aim to win this struggle. There is no anarchist boss or elected official to tell you to be a responsible and effective organizer; that is your job. We have a long and difficult road ahead of us. Are you up to it?

The other obstacle is ourselves. With all of the projects and campaigns popping up, and the complete lack of centralized power and direction in the anarchist movement, we need to be self aware, self disciplined, and self critical. We need to constantly analyze our tactics and strategies, move away from what isn’t working, and redouble our efforts on what is. With the Republican and Democratic National Conventions coming up, we should make sure that we aren’t putting all of our effort into these two protests.

The 2004 Democratic National Convention in Boston really helped anarchism grow in Massachusetts that summer, but we put a disproportionate amount of time and energy into it and didn’t have our eyes on the future. The result was that once the Democrats left town, our movement was in shambles. This time around, let’s make sure that we see these conventions for what they really are: a great opportunity to expose the excess and bullshit of the political parties, an opportunity to use the mainstream media to get our ideas across to a more-receptive and politically conscious public, and two week-long street battles in the ongoing struggle for revolutionary anarchism, a struggle we will continue until we win.

When the conventions are over, will we have more momentum, popularity, and strategic poise than before they started, or will we be caught up in massive state repression with no public support? With this in mind, let’s deepen our roots in our communities this spring so that when we are making headlines at the conventions this summer, the people around us know who we are and hear what we want from our own mouths, not just the propaganda of the State. Revolution is not a game; it’s a struggle of momentum. Right now, the wind is at our backs, comrades, so full speed ahead!

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