In response to my post of the article written by Spencer Garcia for Truthout which situates Stonewall in the history of anti-police action, someone commented; “It’s ridiculous to think that its possible to disband the police. There are a few police who use their power to do bad things but the majority are good citizens that we count on every day. We need to support the police.”
To this I replied; We are not going to agree on the state’s use of force and control to repress dissent and authorize identities; I see this as the origin of evil. Evil arises not from the motives and actions of individuals, but from the systemic and structural inequalities of power imposed on and between individuals by the state. We can agree on the redemptive power of love to heal the flaws of our humanity and the brokenness of the world.
Quick on the heels of this, a general question in another forum was posed on the death penalty; “What does everyone think of the death penalty? Is it ever justified?” While I was replying; I do not trust the state with the power of life and death over us, someone replied;” Off with their heads!”, a reference to the French Revolution and revolutionary struggle in general which reframes the question of the use of force by the state in a way which brings it great clarity as a general principle. Here is my reply:
By any means necessary, as a hero of my youth, Malcolm X, said. If we are speaking of revolutionary struggle and the historical context of beheading aristocrats, as an ancestor of mine called the Red Queen after the Alice in Wonderland character was during the Paris Commune for her method of assassination.
The violence used by a slavemaster cannot be compared to the violence used by a slave to break his chains, as Trotsky in Their Morals and Ours has been paraphrased. This dictum has its reverse; the state has no legitimate authority to use death, violence, force, and control in the repression of dissent, theft of citizenship or violations of our universal human rights, or authorization of identities. This got Trotsky killed by Stalin, as he rightly called out tyranny and terror as tyranny and terror regardless of what those who would enslave us call themselves.
Revolutionary struggle, protest movements, and wars of liberation use force and violence to achieve a society free of inequality when there are no other means possible, when the tyranny and terror of authority, state force and control, and elite hegemonies of wealth, power, and privilege answer dissent with repression because they are without legitimacy and have only fear to keep the slaves at their work. Those who would enslave us refuse to negotiate because they see only themselves as human, and without debate we are left only the sword.
Any who stand between the tyranny and state terror of conquest, enslavement, and death, and the lives of innocents are heroes and champions of our humanity. The particulars are irrelevant.
I say this in reference to Hamas and other defenders and champions of the powerless in the events of the Third Intifada in which I was both a participant and a witness of history, but it holds true as a general principle of action.
As written by Walter Rodney in The Groundings with my Brothers; “We were told that violence in itself is evil, and that, whatever the cause, it is unjustified morally. By what standard of morality can the violence used by a slave to break his chains be considered the same as the violence of a slave master? By what standards can we equate the violence of blacks who have been oppressed, suppressed, depressed and repressed for four centuries with the violence of white fascists? Violence aimed at the recovery of human dignity and at equality cannot be judged by the same yardstick as violence aimed at maintenance of discrimination and oppression.”
And here is the passage he references from Leon Trotsky in Their Morals and Ours: The Class Foundations of Moral Practice; “A slave-owner who through cunning and violence shackles a slave in chains, and a slave who through cunning or violence breaks the chains – let not the contemptible eunuchs tell us that they are equals before a court of morality!”
If we flip the coin over once again and look at the issue of social force not from the angle of state violence versus liberation from it, nor as the direct use of state force in the death penalty as the ultimate case of enforcement of law and order in the subjugation of others to normative ideas of virtue as authorized by elites, but in the case of staged confrontations between Fascist and Antifascist forces in the battle for the soul of America and the future of humankind which played out in the streets of Portland and throughout our nation last year as the Fourth Reich’s deniable assets and militias attempted to discredit and seize the narrative of the Black Lives Matter protests in a campaign of murder, violence, arson, and looting to provide a pretext for the federal occupation of Democratic cities, funded by fascist oligarchs including the family of Betsy DeVos and centrally planned and organized in coordination with the secret police specially formed for the purpose of abduction and torture of protesters by Chad Wolf, at the command and with the authorization of Trump and Barr, the same organizations of white supremacist terror and fascist tyranny which attempted a coup during the January 6 Insurrection of this year, we can refine our critique of the social use of force even more.
Force, Violence, and Power; the internal contradictions of breaking the law to achieve justice now faced by militias involved in the January 6 Insurrection and the murder of police officers, whose identity is centered on being auxillary forces for the police, and deniable assets of elite white supremacist hegemony and state tyranny, is parallel to that of antifascist groups which challenge them in a kind of fight club.
We must remember always in the staging of performances of guerilla theatre that such grounds of struggle are consequences of division and hierarchies of exclusionary otherness and belonging, in which the lies and illusions, narratives of victimization, weaponization of faith and identitarian nationalisms, and strategies of co-optation, assimilation, and falsification leveraged by our true enemies and hegemonic elites in service to their wealth, power, and privilege have shaped and directed those we face in the line of battle; fellow powerless and dispossessed citizens who have been turned against their own class interests.
Our duty of care toward others means that we must ever stand between such forces of repression and their intended victims; but we must also liberate them when possible from subjugation to authority and from the zombiefication of cult and fascist thought control.
Remember always Nietzsche’s warning in Beyond Good and Evil; “He who fights monsters should be careful lest he thereby become a monster. And if thou gaze long into an abyss, the abyss gazes back into thee.”
Here I speak as the founder of Lilac City Antifa, whose members and allies placed themselves between armed provocateurs, some with badges and some without, and their intended victims throughout last year’s Red Summer, in Seattle and Portland, Washington D.C., Atlanta, Minneapolis, and many other cities. By June of last year over two hundred of our cities had imposed curfews, and during the summer some fifty cities had sustained protests of over one hundred days involving between fifteen and twenty million Americans who refused to submit to racist state terror.
Identity built on force and violence characterizes both state tyranny and the revolutions which oppose them. This is why heroes become tyrants, successor states recapitulate the evils of those they replace, and utopias contain the seeds of their destruction.
The escape from this dilemma and vicious cycle of harm is to abandon the social use of force and embrace instead the heart of democracy founded in the Forum of Athens: the traditions of Socratic dialog, open debate, verifiable and objective truth, and freedom of information. In a free society of equals, there are no systemic nor structural inequalities or hierarchies of belonging, no divisions of otherness, no ethnic or sectarian conflicts, and no class struggle.
As Sigmund Freud and Josef Breuer wrote in an 1893 medical journal article; “The first human being who hurled an insult instead of a stone was the founder of civilization.” Let us trade stones for words, and force for persuasion.
As I wrote in my post of March 28 2019, in the wake of the Christchurch white supremacist terror and the direct threat of a copycat atrocity against our local mosque here in Spokane; I’ve thought about the origins of evil, of violence and power in the relationships between fear, anger, hate, and other negative emotions as illnesses, for a long time now and in many roles and contexts.
Here are some things I have learned:
First, the process by which violence operates as a system is the same for all spheres of action and levels of scale; within personal and social contexts and in intimate relationships and families as well as nations and historical civilizations.
The precondition of violence as hate crime, and of both tyranny and terror,
is overwhelming and generalized fear as shaped by submission to authority.
Structures and figures of authorized power feed on fear and hate, grow stronger by the cycle of power and violence and the negative emotions and forces of darkness to which they give form and through which they subjugate others.
We must question, expose, mock and challenge authority whenever it comes to claim us. These are the four primary duties of a citizen in a free society of equals.
Let us be unconquered, masterless, and free; let us answer tyranny with resistance, control with anarchy and civil disobedience, normality with transgression, and division with solidarity.
Let us answer hate with love and fear with our faith in each other; let us reach out across our boundaries and become better than we now are, let us join together and break the chain of lies and illusions which binds us through our most atavistic passions to enslavement by authority and addiction to power.
Let us dethrone authority and abandon power over others for an empowered self-ownership of identity; that we may reinvent how to be human as autonomous individuals, through and for one another in glorious diversity, democracy, and a free society of equals.
Let us evolve toward a nonviolent and noncoercive society together, become bearers of the Torch of Liberty together, and unite to achieve our dreams of democracy together.
Let us be bringers of chaos, joy, transformation, and revolution.