Documents from the Cleveland based Burning River Revolutionary Anarchist Collective, a group that existed in the early 2000s and was a part of the Federation of Revolutionary Anarchist Collectives (FRAC).
Burning River Revolutionary Anarchist Collective documents
Points of unity
We are revolutionary anarchists who believe in the elimination of all forms of oppression.
We are against capitalism because of its inherently exploitative and alienating character and its need to put profits above anything else. We want to replace it with mutual aid and a cooperative, bottom-up, and democratic form of communism where those who work control the means of production. We go by the maxim: “To each according to their need, from each according to their ability.”
We are against the nation-state because it is the main tool of the ruling class to keep power in the hands of a small elite, centralizing power away from our communities. We want to replace it with directly democratic decision making structures that allow for all involved and effected to have a meaningful say in the direction of their community and world.
We are against the oppression of women and for women’s liberation. We believe in full equality in all aspects of life, unapologetically support reproductive freedom and women’s control of their own bodies.
We encourage leadership and participation of women, and feel no one can be free when half the world is not.
We are against white supremacy and all forms of imperialism, racism, chauvinism, and reactionary nationalism. We uphold the right of oppressed people to self-determination and cultural diversity. We encourage leadership of and participation by people of color.
We are against heterosexism, homophobia, and the simplicity of the dual gender system. We are for the liberation of lesbian, transgendered, gay, bi, and all queer people.
We uphold the right all people to self-defense by any means necessary.
We believe in the creation of dual power and actively work towards building a new world in the shell of the old politically, culturally, and economically by both challenging and confronting oppressive institutions as well as creating our own.
We are skeptical of, but do not outright reject, reformist politics. We believe that reforms are a necessary, but by no means a complete, part of the revolutionary project and will continue to push for revolutionary solutions even after reformative ones win victories.
We are dedicated to the principles of criticism/self-criticism. No one is above being criticized and we view it as a healthy, productive aspect of strategizing and organizing. We do not mold the world to our politics but mold our politics to the ever changing world.
We believe in solidarity and consider all those fighting for a more just, equal, and fair world our allies in a general sense. We will defend all comrades against attack. We will support, to one degree or another, all movements working to build revolution in the world and break the chains of oppression.
Unity in strategy is key for any revolutionary organization to succeed. The essence of any strategy should be the attempted answering of three main questions: 1) What kind of world do we live in? 2) What kind of world do we want to live in? and 3) How to we get from the way the world is to the way we want it to be? The general answers to the first two questions are found in our Platform/Points of Unity. There we describe, purposefully brief and open to expansion, the way the world is and a vision of a world worth fighting for. This section is our general answer to begin getting to that point.
A. Radicalizing Local Movements
If we are to be successful in our endeavor to spread the theory and practice of revolutionary anarchism we must have a coherent strategy that can tap into popular movements, community organizing, mass demonstrations and upheavals. This strategy can only be successful if it is coordinated amongst the anarchist cadre and takes on a consistent, principled, and dedicated character.
By consistent we mean that we will have certain members who take part in certain organizations’ work on a long term basis, that members will do regular political work rather than the occasional or sporadic approach, and that the organization as a whole will constantly attend speakers, forums, protests, rallies, etc. to show support, build our popular movements, and promote revolutionary anarchism as a viable alternative to the current order.
B. Working With and Amongst Oppressed People
It is essential that we build primarily with people who are objectively oppressed in this society and who have very little reason to see capitalism and the state exist. This includes various sections of the population and is most represented in the ghettoes and barrios of northeast Ohio. We must build our support base in these areas as much as possible by following the idea of the late Kwame Nkrumah who suggested that revolutionaries live amongst the oppressed, learn from them, and build with them rather than for (charity) them.
This does not mean that we should avoid or ignore work amongst all those who are willing to work with us as revolutionary anarchists. But, as a strategy, it means that we prioritize building resistance with the most objectively oppressed groups in this society.
C. Spreading Revolutionary Anarchism
The power of knowledge should never be underestimated. While there are literally millions of people within the U.S. who have nothing but disdain for capitalism and the state, that is not enough. It is fundamental that we spread the idea and possibility of a world without oppression in concrete terms and well thought out ways. There are two primary ways this can be done:
Educational Materials. This includes flyers, newspapers, and all literature. This includes the distribution of the anarchist paper, Onward, building a revolutionary anarchist distro, and the continuance and expansion of our monthly study group sessions.
Personal Discussion. This includes informal discussions with groups and/or individuals, formal discussions at open forums and events, speaking engagements, rallies, etc.
Revolutions, especially those in imperialist nations, that truly wish to fundamentally take on exploitation and injustice must be internationalist in character. Internationalism requires us to work in solidarity with international struggles for liberation, seek out and work with international revolutionary anarchist and liberatory forces, and constantly interject the importance of a global understanding in all areas of society and struggle.
E. Building Counter-Institutions
The final facet to our strategy is attempting to create counter-institutions to meet the material needs and revolutionary desires of people in ways that emulate revolutionary anarchism. This may include food and clothing centers, housing, bookstores, community centers and more.
Statement on Afghanistan
Have the Back of the Afghan People!
Stop the War on Innocent People!
Watch Your Back!
The State’s on a Repressive Rampage!
The United States is on a rampage. While simultaneously raining cluster bombs down upon millions of innocent Afghans they are legislating police state measures of Orwellian proportions on the people at home. People are dying overseas for acts they had nothing to do with. People at home are being rounded up and interned for being Arab or Muslim, working to support their family abroad, or having a common Middle Eastern sounding name. Is this system which we are being asked to defend a real democracy? Is it worth all this madness and suffering?
Bush says he is leading a fight against terrorism by attacking Afghanistan. But to truly fight terrorism he would have to turn inward to the core of the U.S. imperialist nation-state. Throughout U.S. history the acts of this government and its military have been nothing short of terrorism. From the extermination of millions of Native Americans, to the horrific act of Black slavery, to the FBI’s war on political movements at home, to the disastrous Vietnam war, to the funding of the Contras and other Latin American death squads in the 1980s, to the bombing of Vieques island in Puerto Rico today, and to the death grip on the flow of food and medicine in Iraq that causes the death of 6000 children every month. This system, this government, needs to be exposed for its own heinous acts of mass violence and brutality.
Bush and company say they’re against the Taliban of Afghanistan. But why did they recently give them $43 million earlier this year? Why have they sat back and turned a blind eye while the basic human rights of the Afghan people were squashed under both the Taliban and the U.S. newly found allies in the equally abusive Northern Alliance?
The U.S. war machine is also claiming it is concerned about the brutalization of women under the Taliban. But when women were being excluded from education and stoned, where were they? The Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan has exposed the U.S. government’s hypocrisy of simultaneously claiming to be helping the women of Afghanistan while bombing their homes and supporting the equally oppressive Northern Alliance. For the likes of Bush, Ashcroft, and any other member of the U.S. ruling class to claim they’re for defending the rights of women is nothing less than laughable. These same politicians have sat idly by while women suffer from eating disorders and sexual assault in the U.S., insulting wages and dehumanizing working conditions in U.S. corporate factories, as the population of women prisoners in this country sky rockets, and as women’s access to reproductive freedom is narrowed. The U.S. government is simply using the oppression of women as a way to galvanize support for their murderous actions in Afghanistan.
All along Bush and the entire U.S. ruling class has said this is a war to defend freedom, to defend democracy. But there is bitter and sad irony in such a disgusting claim. Since the tragedies of September 11th the ruling circles of the U.S. government have seized on the opportunity to pass some of the most repressive laws this system can come out with right now. The recent, so-called anti-terrorist, “Patriot Act” will give the cops and courts even more leeway and power to arrest, interrogate, detain, and convict people with only the slightest bit of evidence, if any. The supposed rights granted to people under the Constitution are being completely and utterly ignored.
But there’s more. Over 1100 people have already been the victim of these police-state measures. Hundreds of Arabs, who this system even admits had nothing to do with the events of September 11th, have been detained and held without being allowed to contact their family, friends, or even a lawyer. Stories abound of Arab men not returning home only to be snatched up by the FBI or police agents in a frenzied witch-hunt. Many are still in prison as we write this. The media has been silent on this, but has been more than willing to whip up a frenzy of anti-Arab paranoia. Local Muslim Imam’s have been attacked, Somali money exchanges have been raided, and the media continues to portray Arab and Muslim people as less-than-human. All this government repression and yellow journalism is a breeding ground for more racist attacks on Arab and Muslim people. These detentions are nothing short of racist internments. The media’s role of not questioning any information given to them by those in power exposes their role as mere propaganda mills for the ruling class. Both must be exposed and opposed.
This war on the people of Afghanistan abroad and these attacks on Arab people at home are the work of the same system, the U.S. nation-state. They do not protect the people of the U.S. in any way. It was this system’s international crimes of brutality that put people in harm’s way on September 11th and all these attacks do nothing to change that. As Chilean anarchists have said: “We know that the task of stopping barbarism is not one of governments, who play with us like chess pieces, who aren’t interested in the human cost of this macabre game. This responsibility belongs to the actions of solidarity of the people in reviving a new internationalist spirit.”
What is needed in the short term is a broad-based anti-war movement. This movement must simultaneously work to stop the war while defending Arab and Muslim people here in the U.S. who are being attacked and repressed by this system. It should take up a variety of tactics while connecting everyone who opposes this war. Youth, workers, anti-racists, peace activists, people of all nationalities must resist this war together. United this force can stop the U.S. government’s war plans here and abroad.
But ultimately it is going to take something much deeper and fundamental to stop the U.S. war machine from committing atrocities like those they’re committing today in Afghanistan. It is going to take a social revolution of a profound nature to halt the destructive path of the nation-state, capitalism, and imperialism. It is going to take dumping this system and all its harmful symptoms and replacing it with one that is truly democratic, cooperative, and collectively run where we decide for ourselves what’s in our interests and what we need. The U.S. nation-state has nothing to offer the world but more misery, oppression, and exploitation. We should reject any war we are asked to fight that is not against the real enemies of freedom and for our own liberation.
No War between Nations! No Peace between Classes!
No More Internments of Arabs!
Stop the War on Afghanistan!
Statement on Iraq
STOP THE WAR, FIGHT THE SYSTEM!
The bombs over Baghdad haven’t stopped falling for over a decade. The proposed war on Iraq by the George W. Bush administration is but an extension of a war that never ended. It is also a continuation of a policy of perpetual war that has existed since World War II; a policy of racism that has existed since the inception of the United States; and a policy of imperialism that demands constant expansion to exploit needed resources. Imperialism is the policy of extending the rule or authority of an empire or nation over foreign countries, or of acquiring and holding colonies and dependencies. Imperialism allows the United States to control other countries politically, militarily and economically.
The U.S. Empire Could Not Exist Without War
The so-called War on Terrorism, this war with no end, is just an expansion of the U.S. policy of perpetual war. Imperialist war feeds the needs of capitalism and allows it to continue to expand.
Military Dominance. War is a tool the U.S. government uses to maintain its dominance over the Mid-East, a key strategic area and a source of much-needed natural resources (such as oil). In the post-September 11th environment that dominance is coming more into question around the world; therefore, the U.S. feels it must assert its military might now more than ever.
Patriotism. War also triggers an influx of blind patriotism that the U.S. Empire needs to keep its citizens loyal. In fact, the Bush family has built its legacy through the patriotism it has stirred up in times of war, first with the Gulf War (under Bush Sr.) and now with the War on Terrorism (under George W. Bush). The patriotism war ushers in attempts to pull the shutters down over our eyes and make us blind to a reality saturated with police brutality, startling gaps between rich and poor, Enron-type corporate scandals, etc.
Military Industrial Complex. War keeps the military industrial complex thriving and fills the pockets of weapon-building corporations.
Exploitation of Resources. As briefly mentioned above, war allows an empire to expand so as to exploit resources, among other things. This war is more about oil than human rights. Saddam Hussein is a threat to U.S. oil interests, therefore, according to U.S. logic, he must be destroyed.
The U.S Empire Has No Regard for Human Rights or Human Lives
No Regard for Women’s Rights. When the War on Terrorism began, the U.S. decried the human rights and women’s rights violations of the Taliban in Afghanistan. This claim, obviously, is accurate. Coming from the mouths of U.S politicians, however, it is, at best, ironic and laughable. The U.S. government has never shown any regard for the oppression of women in Afghanistan. Women’s rights organizations in the U.S. and Afghanistan pled with the U.S government for years to intervene in the situation, and the U.S. continually turned its back. Moreover, the U.S. government aided and supported those who would eventually form the Taliban in the 1980s during Afghanistan’s war with Russia. The U.S. government also gave the Taliban $43 million in the spring of 2001. It wasn’t concerned with women’s rights then; it only became an issue when it was needed as a propaganda tool.
Saddam Hussein Used to be a Friend and an Ally of the United States. The U.S government supported Saddam Hussein in the 1980s during the Iran-Iraq War. In fact, he was a friend and ally, even though he was just as tyrannical then as he is now. The U.S. government never cried “human rights violations!” until Iraq invaded Kuwait and threatened U.S. control over Kuwaiti oil and U.S. military dominance in the Middle East.
No Regard for Human Rights or Human Life Anywhere. The U.S. Empire has never had any regard for human life or human rights. The demands of profit over people, of expansion over people, of military might over people are at the forefront of capitalist expansion. From the bombings in Afghanistan that have killed over 6,000 people to the economic sanctions against Iraq that have killed millions of children to the police brutality that saturates working class neighborhoods and affects every person of color in the U.S. to the round-ups and racial profiling of Middle-Eastern people, South Asians and anyone who has brown skin…
We, from the Burning River Revolutionary Anarchist Collective of northeast Ohio, are appalled by the blatant disregard for humanity that imperialist war, imperialism and capitalism entail. We want to see a lively, militant, creative movement emerge that paves new ground on the road to liberation.
Although the typical, formulaic protest is a good way to show the U.S. government the sheer numbers of people who oppose its policies and is a needed demonstration of solidarity among progressive, radical and revolutionary forces, there are also many other forms of protest we can engage in and a plethora of tactics we can use that might be just as effective or more effective. Furthermore, using a wide and creative assortment of tactics allows us, as a movement, to not stagnate.
Some Suggestions from the Burning River Revolutionary Anarchist Collective:
Be Creative! Make a banner and hang it in a place where many people will see it! Write anti-war poetry and read it at a poetry reading! Stick anti-war stickers and put up anti-war graffiti in public bathrooms! Saturate your community with anti-war posters and flyers! The ideas for things we can do are as infinite as our imaginations.
Let Yourself Be Heard and Seen! There is a time for sitting down and listening to a speaker and there is a time to stand up and shout out. Now is the time to do the latter. We need to let the world hear and see that we are not going to allow the U.S. government to kill millions of people in our name! We need to be vocal in public about our rejection of imperialist war. We should be organizing community speak-outs, marches, and rallies where people can stand up on tables and shout out their resistance, not just listen to someone tell them why they should resist. We have to run down the street shouting out our message. Now is not the time to sit down!
The Real Work Needs to be Done in Our Communities! Protesting and organizing demonstrations is important, but the real work needs to be done in our communities. We, as anti-war activists, need to be linking up with other groups and making much needed connections. We need to work with labor unions, community organizations fighting police brutality, church groups, LGBT organizations, student groups, etc. We have to make connections between various oppressions so that we can build a broad-based movement that isn’t steeped in identity politics, but fights for the liberation of all peoples.
Anti-Imperialist Call to Action: May 4th 2002 Kent State
The government of the United States and complicit governments around the world are waging an un-ending war of retribution and imperialism. And the war is spreading. Israel is using this war as an excuse to heighten attacks on Palestinians who’ve been terrorized since Israel first colonized their homeland. The US continues to attack, threaten the Iraqi people with escalated bombings, and still backs UN sanctions that result in thousands of innocent lives lost every month. Meanwhile Bush is laying the groundwork for Nuclear War. People that refuse to take part in, or that even question this sickening slaughter are threatened and coerced into complacency so that Bush can claim to have built a powerful Coalition to wage his war. Here in the US, we’ve seen round ups, lockdowns, human rights violations and racist terrorism committed against Muslim and Arab and South Asian people across the country. This shit is way past due for some real resistance right here at home. We need to start bringing the energy and spirit of the anti-globalization movement with us into this battle. This isn’t just about a war, a corporation, or a bank; it’s ultimately about US efforts toward total economic and military domination of the world.
George Bush and the rest of his cohorts around the globe spin their propaganda campaign to paint any country they wish as “harborers of terrorists.” By this they mean any country that is generally opposed to US foreign policy of corruption and greed or that shows any desire to fight back. We are fortunate to have the opportunity to take our message and our rage into the streets on a day that history has held as a turning point in US aggression home and abroad. On May 4, 1970, 4 students at Kent State were slain by the same murderous government that now wages this so called “war on terrorism.” We know that the real global terrorists aren’t in Palestine, Columbia, Philippines, or Korea, but in Washington D.C. in the Capital, the White House and the office buildings that dot the cityscape. On this day that is so important to our heritage of resistance we choose to stand up and take another step in turning this un-ending “war on terrorism” into unending Social Revolution.
Burning River Revolutionary Anarchist Collective calls on all anti-imperialists to the campus of Kent State University May 4th 2002 to help build the movement against US economic or military imperialism and aggression.
Statement on Palestine
Palestine Must Be Free!
Everyday Palestinians recognize that the US and Israel can’t be fair arbiters of peace across the bargaining table of historical oppression. Now after Sept. 11, the entire Palestinian mass movement called the Second Intifada is being criminalized as “terrorist” by both the US and Israel. It is our wish that true friends stand now and embrace the Palestinian people’s courage. What we are seeing now is a War of National Liberation and We Must Support the Freedom Fighters!!
We reject US imperialism and its support of the colonial settler state of Israel. It is true that Israel can only be maintained by US tax dollars, that Israel has executed many human rights violations, that Ariel Sharon is a butcher and that Benjamin Netanyahu is a comedian of the modern political world for lecturing anyone on how to fight terrorism. But empire is not smashed by lobbying its ruling class, documenting immoralities, or having a charitable attitude toward Palestinians as “victims” from a place of privilege. We must take responsibility for the social relations in our own country.
In response to the character assassination of the Palestinians as terrorists, we say the following. All criticism of the political and military practices of the Palestinians should be seen within the framework of the paramount desperation of their struggle with an emphasis on what methods will bring about the autonomy of the rank and file. While we maintain and defend that all agents of the state of Israel are expendable in this war (high level politicians, military, police, and judicial officials), the policy of suicide bombings is a failure for many reasons. It trains Palestinian young people to be expendable at the call of political elites when they should be convinced of fighting to survive for a just and attainable future without them. It helps create an environment where new popular association and discussion can not flourish, including the creation of non-violent direct action civil disobedience campaigns, alliances with anti-racist Israelis and it largely contains the political participation of women, elderly and youth. We recognize that a national liberation struggle needs to be an armed liberation struggle—but this is one of many tactics which can bring the Zionist state to its knees. We are sympathetic to the jeopardy Israeli citizens face but their security will only begin to be maintained by them organizing a mass movement within Israel to oppose the Zionist state and ruling class. We are in solidarity with those which have already begun this difficult task.
Israel = White Supremacy!
We believe a free Palestine is one of a popular self-managed society where economic, military, and judicial affairs are administered through direct democracy. We believe the ultimate goal in Palestine (and elsewhere) should be a society of equal rights for all peoples and religions, without a state or ruling class. But in our view a society such as this can not be achieved by just wishing for it or by refusing to work with others struggling for their own democratic goals. We see most advocates of the two state solution as selling out the “right of return” and the commitment to smash the Zionist state and ruling class altogether—which can happen democratically through a movement for civil rights, birth rates, and mass migration. This is only extreme if one believes in long term co-existence not with Jews of good will, but with the Zionist oppressors. Advocates of two states are most often really advocates of one. They just see the Zionists and the US, not a mass direct action movement, as the best partners for granting sovereignty to a Palestinian ruling class.
We want a broad popular front in the Middle East, and in America, where secular and religious can work together, where official leadership is held accountable and if necessary discarded. With the help of the CIA and the Mossad, Arafat and the Palestinian Authority have suppressed independent political, trade union, journalistic, and (not suprisingly) militia type activity. They have killed and put folk in prison when it is politically expedient, which amounts to the whims of the Israeli and U.S. states. They attempt to use Arafat and the PA as a tool in the maintenance of Palestinian oppression—even by labeling Arafat as a terrorist and worthy of death they prop up his legitimacy.
While being touted as "the Jewish Homeland," the state of Israel actually undermines the effort for a sustainable Jewish future by sacrificing Jewish lives, ethics, culture and history in their quest for imperial domination. They sacrifice lives by creating such a desperate situation for Palestinians that extreme groups feel forced to attack public places in order to gain attention for their struggle. Ordinary Israeli civilians live in fear of random violence on a daily basis, making the supposed safe haven one of the most dangerous places in the world for a Jew to live today. Israel sacrifices Jewish ethics, which urges consideration for all members of a society including the most disenfranchised. By massacring Palestinian men, women and children, the state is rejecting millennia-old religious and legal codes of respect and survival. Israel is sacrificing Jewish history. Palestinian struggles are eerily similar to those Jewish people have faced historically in terms of displacement, imprisonment, subjection to brutal military and police forces, and of course genocide or "ethnic cleansing". It is critical for conscious Jewish people to reject the Zionist vision in favor of a just one.
Smash the U.S. and Zionist Empire
Many still think it possible to lobby the likes of Bush or Sharon in order to obtain a just peace. These so-called "leaders" discourage participation in the creation of a mass movement that demands justice in Palestine and fights the bankrupt ruling classes of the entire Middle Eastern region. We stand in solidarity with the democratic aspirations of the Arab and Muslim people who reject the notion of pleading for their freedom in favor of seizing it. It is time for a mass direct action movement that is uncompromising in defense of the Palestinians and which will bring Muslim and Arab Americans home from prison where they have been unjustly detained.
BRC Tasks and Perspectives: Spring 2004
Burning River is a member collective of the Federation of Revolutionary Anarchist Collectives--Great Lakes Region. This is a paper (edited version) we recently presented to FRAC at our bi-annual conference.
BRC Tasks and Perspectives Spring 2004
Resistance and Occupation Grow in Iraq
With the recent series of events in Iraq, BRC sees the occupation of Iraq becoming an even larger issue than when its status was dwindling last fall. Al-Sadr's coordinated uprisings have both inspired everyday Iraqis as well as the international anti-war movement, even the non-violent wing. They have also created, to some degree, solidarity between Sunni and Shia forces. It is essential that we develop a clearer understanding of the variety of resistance forces in Iraq, one that does not impose a puritanical anarchist view on both their positive and negative aspects. A victory for the amalgamation of anti-occupation forces in Iraq (i.e., forcing the U.S. to withdraw without fully succeeding in imposing a puppet regime) would be a victory for the people of the world who oppose U.S. imperialism. It also should be seen as a boost for the anti-war movement in the sense that the failure of the U.S. to crush those within Iraq resisting occupation has a direct correlation to the amount of force "The Coalition" is willing to use based on its fear of worldwide public opinion and outcry. Questions exist has how to best increase this social pressure on the U.S. to withdraw. How realistic is it to publicly support the anti-occupation forces in Iraq without falling into the "T" (terrorism/terrorists) trap being set by the current catch-all doublespeak? What do the people saying "Support our Troops, Bring Them Home Now!" have to contribute to this movement at this point? Is the time ripe to be part of the budding network of groups supporting GIs who refuse to serve? Is the possibility of a draft something we need to take seriously at this point? If so, what role will/can we play in building a draft refusal campaign and movement? How do we relate to Kurds and their struggle for a separate nation in the north? The key, from our perspective, is to give critical attention to these questions as we decide how we can continue to increase the pressure for the U.S. occupation to end, in the process exposing the systematic (not incidental) nature of this conflict and the need to confront the entire "war on terrorism's" agenda.
The Parallel Universe of Palestine
Palestine has also seen a recent upsurge in both resistance and repression. We see this as far from coincidental. Sharon's ability to attack intifada forces in Palestine is directly related to how tough the U.S. is being in Iraq. Make no mistake about it, the harsher we allow the U.S. to act in Iraq, the more intense repression, raids, and assassinations will be in Palestine. We should make a serious effort to incorporate ending the occupation of Palestine into all anti-war work.
It's the Economy, …or is it?
Capitalism's nature is to ebb and flow. At the slightest downturn many leftists chomp at the bit to claim capitalism, as an entire system, is in crisis. While for working people in the U.S. right now things are far from good, the "crisis" is not quite here. That does not mean, however, that there are not real issues to pay attention to. Currently the Bush administration is shooting to be the first presidential administration to have less jobs than when they took over the oval office. This is serious but needs a context. This fact will no doubt be ammunition for the Kerry campaign. As anarchists it's important that we admit there is a difference here between Republicans and Democrats. The difference being the approach used by the various wings of the ruling class to build a "strong American economy for the 21st century." Don't let not your local Democrat supporters forget who signed NAFTA and started talks for the FTAA. Clinton did not have job loss anywhere near what Bush did. Much of this was due to the "dot.com boom" and not Democratic trading policies, but nonetheless. What Clinton did, and Kerry no doubt plans to do, was to initiate job transformation. The shift from manufacturing to service oriented jobs was in full swing by 1995 and continues today. Bush and company are perhaps a bit more callous and disillusioning about the ordeal. American workers are generally working much more and much harder than ten years ago but getting paid less. This is a logical result of this job transformation from producing something to serving it (or typing up paper work for it, etc.). Our (the anarchist movement) understanding of economics is fairly weak at this point. This calls for us to have a much deeper and more involved understanding as to how the "new" economy works and why. In addition to understanding this "new economy," being aware of alternative economic models is essential.
Working Where it Counts
The above analysis of the economy also leads BRC to suggest the need for to engage the labor movement (not just AFL-CIO, but yes, they are a part of what we mean by that). What roll does organized labor have in this "new" economy? Why are they being attacked so fiercely by the Bush administration? Why do they continue to support the Democrats even amongst the inability of that party to do anything but occasionally place a band-aid on Republican (and Democrat, no doubt) wounds? What type of labor movement do we think is capable of building explicit working class resistance of an anti-capitalist nature? Currently in BRC we have two members who are just beginning to get active in their local unions. The two areas they work in are shipping/transportation and education. These are two areas we see as key to the development of the type of movement we wish to see, for two different reasons. What other areas we should focus in on? Would working in public utilities, such as phone, gas, and electric prove useful? How should we go about developing a set of politics that speaks to people in the areas we strategically focus on? What issues are winnable but also expose the need for eventual ruptures with the old ways? Are there aspects of the current labor movement we should get more involved in such as Jobs with Justice or other lower wage worker organizations?
Marching for Women's Lives and Fighting for Reproductive Freedom
This April 25th will be quite possibly the largest march to defend the reproductive freedom of women the U.S. has ever seen. Members have BRC have played an instrumental role in building for this march in the Ohio area. We see these types of massive, woman-based, ultra-inclusive public actions as being key in the current stage of beating back the attacks on women's access to both reproductive and basic healthcare. While the more mainstream and liberal elements to this march and overall movement have their flaws and lack revolutionary desires, this battle is one that is possible of winning serious victories in while under capitalism. One question we have is how to relate to those, even radical feminist organizations, that demand the best current option is to vote Bush out of office? Another important question is how do we unite anarchists, especially anarcha-feminists, in order to facilitate in planning for the potential reversal of Roe v. Wade? Possible points of consideration include mass mobilization and the development of alternative women's healthcare networks.
To Vote or Not to Vote, Many are Asking this Question
This summer the age old question will once again rear its ugly head. In times of argument amongst the ruling class and serious attacks in the international and national arenas, does voting serve any type of strategic purpose? Amongst BRC there are various takes on those that see the need to vote in this upcoming presidential election. They range from outright rejection of anything associated with voting to sympathy for those that vote while simultaneously working on grassroots projects. At a recent video showing/presentation, one BRC member put voting in a particularly useful context: "I don't have a problem with people voting as long as they don't see that as being at all enough, as long they continue to work in the streets, neighborhoods, and workplaces and don't focus on the ballot box as their major way of making change." We should take this position into serious consideration in BRC's opinion. Is targeting the very act of voting itself useful any longer? Was it ever? Does it ever make sense for someone to vote? If so, how does that change our take on the traditional anarchist view of being against electoral politics of all kinds?
Look Out Above
In the last year, especially because of various exposures done by anti-war activists, it has been revealed that counter intelligence programs of some degree or another are being conducted under the guise of "anti-terrorism." In Cleveland, during a trial of an anti-war activist, an "undercover" boasted of the fact that the police had been keeping tabs on most activist and community groups in Cleveland, naming several groups and people by name. The recent episode in Grand Rapids, Michigan points to a similar situation. It's safe to assume that things are the same in all cities FRAC is operating in. None of this should come as a surprise to militants in FRAC, but it should not be glossed over either. Security culture should be reviewed in all collectives and encouraged in the general milieu of folks we work with. New tactics and precautions should be considered as well. While the state is aware of quite a bit, we should never make it easy for them or assume they know every detail of our work. The use of anonymity should be heavily encouraged, whether by the use of nicknames, emails without our real names, etc.
BRC has been discussing the need for more grassroots, community oriented work to take the place of the general pandering to activists that is called "building for revolution" amongst many in our ranks. One member proposed an overly ambitious campaign calling for the creation of several neighborhood based organizations that would fight for local bread and butter issues while injecting an anti-authoritarian spirit and action. In other words, we would not hide our politics nor impose them. While it was shot down as not currently being possible, the general idea has been haunting BRC members, especially since the diminishing of the anti-war movement. We want to see more discussion in as to how we should approach the need to work more amongst working people and less amongst "activists." The question is not whether to do this but how and by what means.
Communicating without Talking
In line with the above suggestions and thoughts, we would to increase the amount of agitational propaganda and public art. This spring and summer the opportunity is ripe to encourage local artists and late night trouble makers to paint the town red and black with messages of anti-occupation (of all forms: Iraq, Palestine, bodies, police brutality, my freezer). Another idea in this area concerns the creation of a street-oriented paper.