What I wish I had said September 12, 2001

Today, March 11, 2004, there was another major bombing in Madrid, Spain. The ‘facts’ in the case are still coming out (12 hours later) but it appears that the eye of accusation is envisioning the event as an Al Quaeda plot. The first 24 hours of mainstream news coverage after the September 11 attacks was an interesting glance behind the curtain. Not only were there reports (that I never heard followed up on) of there being additional attacks on government buildings in DC, but the blame for the attacks was all over the map: kind of a who’s who of America’s shit list.

The coverage then from the anarchist and left press was typically one-dimensional, as the initial response to the new Spain attack appears to be also. An example is in order. The report begins with a round or two of humanist hand-wringing, all about the children, the terror and how targeting ‘innocent’ people is no way to change the world. Then come the limp accusations about state terror. “How come we are forced to write this lament against the civilian population by a group without a state when the State does really bad things too. The State is even worse than the topic of my moralistic diatribe!” Then there is a point or two about bad policies and how, if there were anarchy, or justice, or whatever-in-the-fuck, this would never have happened. The report is wrapped up with the sober analysis about how we should change the world by changing the fundamental problem and not ‘play the same game’ as those with missile technology and a standing army.[7]

It is as if there were a central committee writing these things, press release style, making sure that no one is off script. There is no possible way that anyone could believe that there are people fighting a war against the system, people who I may not wish to win, but who am I to judge. Until the day that I take up arms against the state, resisting the enemy on the only field that it understands, I am going to keep my mouth fucking shut about the correct or incorrect ways to fight the totality…

I am not going to tell you about how my eyes are running with tears because of all the children who will not be coming home to parents tonight. My eyes are dry. They are not dry because of the greater crimes of the United States, or Spanish governments. Sure, their crimes are legend, but if I were to cry today about this one crime, what possible chance could I have to ever stop crying. This is the world I live in. If I am not going to burn myself to ash I have to deal with yet another headline about consequences as exactly what it is- people died in the course of a total war where one side has very few options at its disposal with which to attack domination.

My question is, to what extent will there ever be resolution to the Wars of Terror? Just as we know the pattern of behavior of the nonparticipant analysts of this latest action, we also know the behavior of the system itself. Of course there will be increased repression. Of course the ETA (the Basque separatists who were initially accused of the crime but may end up being off the hook for this action) will be crushed. More allies will join on to the American-lead War against Terror. More money will be spent that will result in a higher degree of examination into our personal lives and greater amount of militarization of our society. This cycle will repeat until either the entire social apparatus collapses under the weight of its own repressive infrastructure or there is total conformity under our compassionate overlords. I am betting on the former.

To defend acts of ‘terror’ would be to choose to spend an endless period of time debating points of history, philosophy, and values — to what end? I am not convinced that lashing out against the State in media savvy public displays of violence has much connection at all to dismantling it. If I knew that it did, I would use this opportunity to beg your action along this line, or at the very least to ask you to tape me up for my run at the prize. Moreover I am suspicious that what is being presented to me as reality isn’t the half of it.

I may not be a believer, and will not be a beneficiary either way, but I also do not think that the conclusion to this ‘total war’ is going to be anything like we suspect it is going to be. Revolutionaries, of every stripe, have been remarkably, consistently, wrong about the consequences of their behavior. What I do believe is that the radical action taken by a very few individuals today strike more awe in me than terror. The cognitive, spiritual, and a-humanist leap taken on a train in Madrid, much like the one taken by 15 hijackers in 2001, has more value to add to an understanding about what a revolutionary practice is going to look like in the 21st century than a 1000 black blocs or a million demonstrations against the state and for the cameras.

[1]^ The term movement is used to provide perspective here. It is a matter of scale in Western Culture to begin with the self and end with the society. While we reject this tautology, we embrace the clarity of its apparent simplicity.

[2]^ There are about as many definitions of nihilism as there are of Anarchism. The difference is that to the extent that there is a social phenomenon of nihilism it is largely regressive and insular. Anarchism has puppet shows, nihilism only has black coffee and cigarettes.

[3]^ When that explosive detonated yesterday it broke all the windows in the family’s house. I was in the process of being served tea and playing with the two small babies. I’m having a hard time right now. Just feel sick to my stomach a lot from being doted on all the time, very sweetly, by people who are facing doom. I know that from the United States, it all sounds like hyperbole. Honestly, a lot of the time the sheer kindness of the people here, coupled with the overwhelming evidence of the willful destruction of their lives, makes it seem unreal to me. I really can’t believe that something like this can happen in the world without a bigger outcry about it. It really hurts me, again, like it has hurt me in the past, to witness how awful we can allow the world to be. I felt after talking to you that maybe you didn’t completely believe me. I think it’s actually good if you don’t, because I do believe pretty much above all else in the importance of independent critical thinking. And I also realise that with you I’m much less careful than usual about trying to source every assertion that I make. A lot of the reason for that is I know that you actually do go and do your own research. But it makes me worry about the job I’m doing. All of the situation that I tried to enumerate above — and a lot of other things — constitutes a somewhat gradual — often hidden, but nevertheless massive — removal and destruction of the ability of a particular group of people to survive. Rachel Corrie (to her mother)

[4]^ “This policy was initiated in 1921 to replace the policy of War Communism, which had prevailed during the Russian civil war and led to declines in agricultural and (non-military) industrial production… a policy of substituting a tax instead of requisitions; of allowing the peasantry to dispose of their surplus within the limits of “local trade”; of allowing the development of capitalist concessions to a delimited extent, and of state capitalism. This state capitalism, in industry and agriculture, was allowed a considerable field of possibilities in which to develop, while the proletarian government retained control of the key industries, state banking; that nationalization of the land remained and that the state held a monopoly of foreign trade.” Encyclopedia of Marxism

[5]^ Chernyshevsky, Pisarev, and Herzen

[6]^ Ivan Turgenev’s 1861 novel Fathers And Sons

[7]^ These thoughts courtesy of the ‘anarchist’ writer anarcho at http://anarchism.ws/writers/anarcho.html