Wondering what we can do to strategically change things rather than hollering for other people to do it for us?
INFORM YOURSELF ON TACTICS FOR SYMBOLIC AND STRATEGIC RESISTANCE. If you’re jaded on marching, it is probably because you’re putting in a lot of effort and not seeing much result. This seems to be a typical experience, if that makes you feel any better, and there are things you can do to get better results. There are freely available books in existence that describe military and police formations when these groups are performing different sorts of tactical operations. I found a bunch at an old army surplus store once. Pickaxe is a fantastic film that demonstrated many great tactics for effective resistance. You can watch the documentary film made here in Oregon at crimethinc.com for free. You can be part of a more successful demonstration if you know these tactics because you will know what the police are about to do and you will be one step ahead and because you will have the skills needed to make your demands difficult to easily ignore. How do you measure success in a demonstration? We will in a state-capitalist society and hitting them in the pocket books will certainly do more than send a message of resistance to injustice– It’ll send a material incentive to change. Learn about how to unarrest people or consider carrying a handcuff key on the rear beltloop of your jeans. Understand why we dress the same and cover our faces– we are stronger when we stand in solidarity and when no one can single any of us out for persecution over the others. Meet with people you are demonstrating with to go over tactics beforehand, to establish legal aid and give out the legal aid number, and to inform people on how to safely resist in the presence of police. Legal aid is secured by developing relationships with local sympathetic lawyers who pledge to support the demonstration and thus needs to be developed far before any planned action. Do not be swept up by people who shame you for doing “violent” resistance. Passive resistance sometimes works, in some contexts, just as active resistance works sometimes in some contexts. People who profess the absolute good of one tactic or another are being dishonest. Gandhi worked in his place and time because of the context of that historical situation. We can all agree that a Gandhi in Stalinist Russia or Nazi Germany would not have made it very far. If you are reading this, you are probably perfectly capable of critical thinking. Do not listen to how others tell you to resist unless it makes sense. Use your own mind, independently, to think up the best tactic to get the result you want based on that particular situation. Remember that when liberals talk of “violent” resistance, they are usually talking about simple nonviolent acts such as erecting barricades or property damage. Do not be entwined by their use of pathos and emotionally charged words to dissuade you from doing everything you can to ethically create a just world. Remember, a window is infinitely less valuable than a life.
ORGANIZE TO STOP PAYING TAXES EN MASSE. The system runs on funding. Without funding, the system does not run. We pay their salaries. Most people who voted were not happy with either candidate according to exit polls. 23% of people did not vote, 18% of people voted democrat and 18% voted republican. More people are disgusted with the system than in support of it. The people who want change are in the majority and if we stop paying taxes, then we hold the system at a standstill in demand of change. This is a good middle ground that can be struck up between liberals and anarchists since it is a relatively passive method of direct action. Stop paying taxes entirely, and send your share of tax money directly to the causes you support. The only way to free yourself from tyranny is to become responsible for your own communities in an autonomous and self-determined way. If we all take action and do our part to hold ourselves accountable, we don’t need leaders telling us what to do. Whether an action like this is successful or not is secondary to exposing people to direct action, getting people used to taking risks in the name of justice, and generating interest in anarchism. It is not coincidental that most societies share basic ethical codes such as opposing murder, rape, theft and child abuse (we disagree on many ethical concerns, but that doesn’t take away form the power of the fact that we usually agree on the most basic ones). We have more in common with one another than you might think. If we act on our best sensibilities and act autonomously in the name of justice, we can change the world for the better for everyone.
BRING MOMENTUM TO THE MOVEMENT FOR A CASCADIAN AUTONOMOUS ZONE. Solidarity keeps real communities alive. Strong communities consist of people who have a large degree of affinity on a lot of issues. We all know the Pacific Northwest is home to a large community of people that are starkly ideologically different form the rest of the nation. We should band together and exploit our affinity with one another. A just society is a society in which autonomous, free individuals have a natural, uncoerced affinity for one another that causes them to organically be concerned with one another’s interests without the need for law to enforce it. Because of the affinity in the Pacific Northwest between people with diverse backgrounds, we have the perfect platform for a radical new kind of community that stands for human dignity, freedom, respect for the individual and the cultivation of a free and organic interest in the well-being of others. A secession movement will require a lot of organizing, training and planning but it’s been done before. Do not be lulled into a sense of permanency regarding this system: that feeling is caused by the comfort of relative privilege or the overwhelming realization of the power of the system. Huge empires have fallen before, and in fact they always do. That is the rule. To think this system is unchangeable, permanent and stable is absolute folly. Statistically, the absence of military action on US soil in so long ought to make us believe such an occurrence is more likely to happen in the near future. It may be true that an autonomous zone would be short-lived, but why not take the chance? Who knows what could happen and how many people nationally and globally that it could inspire and empower. And it’s no secret we are playing on the short time scale ecologically.
INFILTRATE THE GOVERNMENT. It is an old stigma among anarchists that one either opposes the government as an anarchist or joins the government as a sellout. This is a false dichotomy and thus a logical inconsistency. Edward Snowden and Chelsea Manning shattered the system from the inside. Follow their example. Infiltrate the government. Only you can change your ideals. You will not lose your ideals by being part of the government long enough to infiltrate it. As long as you have a plan for what you want to accomplish and you enact that plan, even over a period of years it is possible to sustain one’s ideals privately and make huge impacts from inside. Do not buy into posturing in the community which attempts to inform you that you are a “sell out” if you have anything to do with the government. One of the best ways to take the government down or to make radical change is to do it from the inside. Remember, change is about getting justice for the people we love, not looking really cool to punk rockers, traveling kids or armchair intellectuals.
WORK OUTSIDE THE SYSTEM. If we work outside the system, we can slowly abandon it, and in doing so we will set an example for others to follow. It is easy to forget that the system is made up of… us! It is not made up of the bogeyman or magical constitutional scrolls which keep us in line. It is made up of us! It is a dance we are all doing. If we stop dancing, then the party stops. Start finding ways to work outside the system, whether it be trading directly with your neighbors, starting community gardens, starting legitimate free schools that actually train people to be technically proficient at things they are interested in that can serve a network of people living outside of the system. We can build a more prosperous society ourselves! Many of us have industrial training, medical knowledge, or are engineers! If you are well-off, do not feel bad about yourself or that you are unworthy. If you are male and white and believe in autonomy and justice and having feelings, do not feel bad about yourself for being born the way you were. Use your privileges to help us! If you are well-off, buy a community space for dissemination of literature, holding free classes, growing food or whatever methods we can use to begin to live outside of the system. A space that wasn’t constantly being crushed under the burned of rent, equipped with experienced anarchists, could begin seriously industrious projects.
If you are male, make a stand for your female or femme-identified friends when they are being discriminated against or sexually harassed in the street. In this way you are working outside of the system of cultural norms and you will slowly add to the force that changes this culture. If you are seen by others as having white status, stand up for your friends who are not seen as white instead of simply feeling guilty. When your friends who are perceived as having a minority ethnic status are being followed in the grocery by security, consider approaching security and asking them why they are doing it if the friend is interested in such a thing. These small actions add up and are the force that will change society. Of course, we can stand up for ourselves with perfectly satisfactory results, but your solidarity will mean a lot to us emotionally because doing that shit every day gets old. Plus, it will make change happen faster. People don’t change during confrontations, but sometimes they do afterward when they think over it in their head. Remember, working outside the system is not a big fancy idea. It just means keeping as much money as possible out of markets inconsistent with anarchist ethics, and finding ways to live rich lives without having to bow to unjust and archaic social expectations. If we stop dancing, the dance will stop.
DISSEMINATE YOUR IDEAS AND TALK TO PEOPLE WHO DISAGREE WITH YOU. If talking to people who disagree with you is messing your life up and causing too much stress, take a break for as long as you need, but do not give up. In fifth grade I identified with republicans because I liked to shoot guns. There are a lot of people out there like this and we would like to make them our anarchist comrades. My mind was changed in high school when my friends and I started reading about anarchism. You can change people’s minds and it is the best way to fight when we have enough freedom to do it. When we do not have enough freedom to change minds, we fight bodily. Both tactics are important, and arguments that categorically only support ‘peaceful’ resistance or that categorically oppose open dialogue with people different from us are bad arguments. There is no need to throw out whole categories of tactics. Use your brain and use whatever tactics will produce the consequences you want at that time. Write zines– people listen more to something they can hold in their hand than something they can see on a screen, and if you handed it to them, the personal interaction will solidify your words with them. Do not pick a “sect” of anarchism and simply begin to believe all of its dogma and disseminate only the known literature. If the known ideas were perfect, we would be well on our way to a just society. We are not. We need you to be thinking about new ways to make radical change, and we need you to be writing about it so we can all hear about it without you having to tell us each personally. Most important, when ideas fail in the face of extreme violence on behalf of the state, consider breaking some of the things they are using to oppress us.
COMPLETE THIS LIST. I wrote this for this specific place and time. I want you to remember, there is always a creative option outside of false dichotomies no one has thought of. Complete this list and let us all know the new ideas you have come up with to help us all get on with living a better life, one filled with the prosperity to pursue our most vital passions, in which human connection is freed from the dogma of coercive social expectations, in which the human race thrives and improves the environment and life for nonhuman animals, where we can reach out into the stars to steward the development of life elsewhere, where we can live forever and have everything we fucking wanted. After all, we are probably the first generation with any reasonable hope at all of beating death. That’s a hope I’m willing to run with.