-criticism on letterbombs and propaganda of the deed-

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Jan 13 2012 15:56
-criticism on letterbombs and propaganda of the deed-

text written by "anarchistischer Funke" (anarchist spark) from germany. reason for this text can be found here: http://libcom.org/forums/news/fai-attempts-letter-bombing-deutsche-bank-ceo-09122011
maybe you can help finding good translations for the quotations.

---

1.What is the motivation behind the attempt to hurt or kill people representing the system and what is tried to be achieved with such actions?

The goal of these actions is to show that the system can be attacked and that the resistance is able to attack and kill certain people. It is aimed to build up an atmosphere of fear under the elite.
It is more than unlikely that the elite is getting scared by such actions. These people are so well protected that the chance of a „succesful“ attack is very low. The letterbomb-attack against the chief of „Deutsche Bank“ Josef Ackermann showed that all letters addressed to such elites are getting scanned and checked before they can reach their destination. Due to fact that the motivation for the elite is profit and the conservation and expansion of power, the elite will not be intimidated and they will not overthink or change their behaviour. An example for this is the history of the „RAF“. They knew how to build up an atmosphere of fear, although the effects of their actions were always negativ and it didnt have any positiv effect on the behaviour of the elite.

Another goal is to make symbolic acts of propaganda that are meant to be spread.
It is true that especially militant actions recieve a big echo in the media. That is the reason why letterbombs are so dangerous for the movement. Letterbombs can come upon anybody and therefore create fear inside the population, not like actions that just attack institutions. For example letterbombs can come upon anybody working in the postal system. That is why we called these actions terror. Terror means spreading fear and scare. Terror not only causes people to be scared, but it also causes antipathy against the people that are responsible for such actions. The purposely coverage of the media enhances this effect. It is more than unlikely that these actions help to spread non-hierarchic ideas and that people start figthing for an emancipated society. But a specific attack against the capital of a big company, from which people know that it exploits it's workers, can evoke certain sympathies inside the population, if no worker is getting hurt by the action.

Maybe you have already seen in the last paragraphs that the motivation behind such actions like letterbombs is based on the personification of the capitalist system. Single individuals are outlined as scapegoats and blamed for all the mischief in this society. But the capitalist system is much more complex and it is not dependent on a few exchangable persons or groups. One example for this is the widespread antisemitism where a certain part of our population is blamed for having control over the entire system. But it is important to point out that every single individual has a certain responsibility, because it does not matter how strong someone is bound to this system, everybody has a personal space for making a stand against this system. The source for the daily oppression is not by one group or a few individuals but by everyone who is part of this society and who is not resisting against the status quo. The continuance of this system is not based on certain persons or groups, but on the reproduction of hierarchic behaviour and thinking in every sphere of life. This behaviour and thinking is even more enhanced by institutions.

Der Staat ist ein Verhältnis, […] ist eine Art, wie die Menschen sich
zueinander verhalten; und man zerstört ihn, indem man andere Beziehungen eingeht, indem man sich anders zueinander verhält.

-Gustav Landauer-

...aber vergessen wir nie, das wir Anarchisten weder Rächer noch Richter sein können, wir wollen Befreier sein und als solche muss unsere Aktion in Aufklärungsarbeit und beispielhaften Taten bestehen.“ -Errico Malatesta-

There is no „Good“ or „Evil“. Nobody has the right to judge over the life of another individual, even if that individual has judged over other's life in the past.

2.What are the consequences of such actions for the anarchist movement?

It is clear that letterbombs and other „propaganda of the deed“ (murder of certain human beings) will lead to even more repression. These easy to discredit actions make it an ease for the state to legitimize repression. Because of the generated fear inside of the population, the acceptance for reactionary sanctions and a totalitarian policestate grows. Besides that, the anarchist movement and their ideas are reduced to violence and brutality. Of course the state will always excecute repression on the anarchist movement, especially when we act more offensive. But we should not be surprised, when the effect of these blind and unreflected acions will be that militant actions in general get even more condemned and are made impossible. For all history the anarchist movement faced very hard repression. We are not invoking passivity or zero-tolerance pacifism, but we feel a duty to question our actions and to reinvent them again and again.

Mabye there will always be some people who are attracted by the violence of such actions, no matter what motivation behind these actions is and what goals are tried to being achieved. Violence should never be more important for the anarchist revolutionary than the goal of a society free of domination. The used methods should fulfil the conditions of the intended goal.

Hass erzeugt nicht Liebe und durch Hass wird die Welt nicht erneuert. (...)Und die Revolution des Hasses würde entweder völlig scheitern oder aber einer neuen Unterdrückung platzmachen, die sich vielleicht anarchistisch bezeichnen, aber nicht destoweniger Unterdrückung wäre und nicht versäumen würde, die Folgen zu zeitigen, die jede Unterdrückung mit sich bringt."
-Errico Malatesta-

We respect and support everyone fighting for a liberated society. Of course everybody has to find his own way, but also be open for constructive criticism from other comrades. The decades-long discussion about such ations always lined out the contradiction mentioned by us and therefore the „propaganda of the deed“ has always been massively criticized. Both militant and peaceful methods are appropriate in the fight for emancipation, because variety is an anarchist attribute. Variety which does not contradict to the anarchist basic idea.

The destruction of the old always has to have the creation of the new in itself.

Es dauerte nicht lange, bis sich bei den Libertären die Erkenntnis wieder durchgesetzt hatte, dass Terror kein Weg sein konnte und durfte. Das war im Anarchismus theoretisch auch nie anders gesehen worden. Aber die Dynamik, die jene entfesselten, die glaubten, zwischen „revolutionärer Gewalt“ und „Terror“ eine saubere Grenze ziehen zu können, setzte starke Emotionen und zeitweise auch gewisse Sympathien frei.
-Horst Stowasser-

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Jan 15 2012 04:12

Peace doesn't work anymore. It used to, before the bosses got there hands on pepper spray and a massive police force. Now all it does is get the protesters attacked by the bosses armies. If we kill, we show them that they are weak and that the system can change. Violence is the answer, especially in the capitalist police states of today.

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Jan 15 2012 06:01

Out of curiosity, in what context do you feel that this form of violence is justified? I think that it would be a mistake to engage in this level of violence, before a coherent revolutionary movement with clear objectives has been developed.

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Jan 15 2012 06:24
Ravineman wrote:
Peace doesn't work anymore. It used to, before the bosses got there hands on pepper spray and a massive police force. Now all it does is get the protesters attacked by the bosses armies. If we kill, we show them that they are weak and that the system can change. Violence is the answer, especially in the capitalist police states of today.

Surely showing the bosses that they are weak is at best irrelevant and at worst counter-productive. We've no particular interest in the bosses reshaping conditions, we care about the working class reshaping conditions. It's building working class power that we care about, not showing the bosses that their power is dependent on our complicity and/or repression (a lesson they have already learnt). The most likely outcome of attacking bosses independently of building working class power is to bring down repression on yourself and those like you and giving a rational to the boss class to enhance their repressive apparatus in general.

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Jan 15 2012 13:30
Ravineman wrote:
Peace doesn't work anymore. It used to, before the bosses got there hands on pepper spray and a massive police force. Now all it does is get the protesters attacked by the bosses armies. If we kill, we show them that they are weak and that the system can change. Violence is the answer, especially in the capitalist police states of today.

wow seems like you havent even read our text.

we did not say put down all weapons and stop all forms of militant struggle. a peaceful revolution is impossible of course. the bosses will never allow that. but letterbombs are no way to build up a new free society. they only hurt our movement.

please read the text before reffering to it.

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Jan 15 2012 18:01
afunke wrote:
Ravineman wrote:
Peace doesn't work anymore. It used to, before the bosses got there hands on pepper spray and a massive police force. Now all it does is get the protesters attacked by the bosses armies. If we kill, we show them that they are weak and that the system can change. Violence is the answer, especially in the capitalist police states of today.

wow seems like you havent even read our text.

we did not say put down all weapons and stop all forms of militant struggle. a peaceful revolution is impossible of course. the bosses will never allow that. but letterbombs are no way to build up a new free society. they only hurt our movement.

please read the text before reffering to it.

Why would it hurt the movement. It would show the people that the oppressors are not invincible. We would be proving ourselves to the bosses and driving fear into their hearts, as long as we make sure there is no pattern in the killings, so that nobody knows who is next...

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Jan 15 2012 18:37
Ravineman wrote:
afunke wrote:
Ravineman wrote:
Peace doesn't work anymore. It used to, before the bosses got there hands on pepper spray and a massive police force. Now all it does is get the protesters attacked by the bosses armies. If we kill, we show them that they are weak and that the system can change. Violence is the answer, especially in the capitalist police states of today.

wow seems like you havent even read our text.

we did not say put down all weapons and stop all forms of militant struggle. a peaceful revolution is impossible of course. the bosses will never allow that. but letterbombs are no way to build up a new free society. they only hurt our movement.

please read the text before reffering to it.

Why would it hurt the movement. It would show the people that the oppressors are not invincible. We would be proving ourselves to the bosses and driving fear into their hearts, as long as we make sure there is no pattern in the killings, so that nobody knows who is next...

It didn't work in the 1880s, it won't work now. Have you studied the historical experience of insurrectionist anarchism? From where I'm standing it was a massive failure. Anarchists tend to come a lot closer to their goals with methods which can accommodate mass participation. Also, letter bombs are immoral. Didn't the Galleanists blow up some judge's house in New Jersey, only to injure the man's maid rather than the man himself?

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Jan 15 2012 19:02

The establishment are not afraid of individual acts of violence but acts of mass insurection. We have to be aware that acts of terror are used out of impatience; only the working class can liberate themselves by their own hands and all over the world the working masses are begining to move. Its this mass action that has to be supported not individiual acts which will lead to the movement been discredited and comrades ending up in jail when they should be helping to build a mass movement.

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Jan 15 2012 19:36
Quote:
Didn't the Galleanists blow up some judge's house in New Jersey, only to injure the man's maid rather than the man himself?

Yes. I mentioned this on another thread about a recent letter bomb supposedly by anarchists.

Here is an extract about it from Sacco & Vanzetti by Bruce Watson.

Quote:
Taking the tan package from the mayor's mail, a clerk unwrapped it upside down. A slim vial of acid fell to the floor, leaving hundreds of metal slugs packed around a stick of dynamite. The package was taken to the bomb squad, who admired is ingenuity. The following day in Georgia, an ex-senator received a Gimbel's package. His wife started to put the contents in the cabinet. Tearing off the paper, the maid unscrewed the top of the enclosed tube. Two screws puctured a glass phial, pouring acid onto cotton wadding. The acid soaked through the cotton. The bomb blew off the maid's hands.

....

Kaplan read about the "infernal machine" and the "Negro servant" it had nearly killed

Dozens of bombs were sent to major US officials. The only person hurt by it was a working class black woman. Moreover, in the eyes of many Americans, working class included, it justified the massive red scare and brutal state repression of various radical, and not so radical, wings of the labour movement.

Terrorism is utterly pointless from a class struggle perspective and totally inhuman from that same perspective!

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Jan 15 2012 19:40

And anyone who might think about arguing that certain 'sacrifices' need to be made in order to advance the struggle ought to stop posting on libcom and go to a church where that kind of nonsense is taken for great wisdom.

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Jan 15 2012 20:28
Ravineman wrote:
Why would it hurt the movement. It would show the people that the oppressors are not invincible. We would be proving ourselves to the bosses and driving fear into their hearts, as long as we make sure there is no pattern in the killings, so that nobody knows who is next...

What level of significance do you think that, if by bosses you mean managers, have in the perpetuation of capitalism? There is a wide range of institutions, and ultimately social relations that must be extirpated.

While certain instances of propaganda of the deed can be somewhat admirable, it more often than not fuels a media frenzy, marginalizing ourselves from the working class. I think that the original post by afunke conveys the negative aspects of propaganda of the deed with much clarity, in addition to all other posts.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alexander_Berkman

You wouldn't happen to be a cop, would you? Vanguardism is a far cry from Libertarian-Marxism.

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Jan 15 2012 20:32
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We would be proving ourselves to the bosses and driving fear into their hearts, as long as we make sure there is no pattern in the killings

1. I call cop.

2. If you're not a cop, you're going to meet them very soon if you carry on like that with nothing but an alias to anonymise you.

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Jan 15 2012 23:35

What? I don't believe in vanguardism anymore. I was mislead by the PLP to believe in it. I am an anarcho-communist now that I read the "anarchist FAQ's" on infoshop. I have individualist leanings though, and I don't want to identify with any particular theorist's work.

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Jan 15 2012 23:01
Rob Ray wrote:
Quote:
We would be proving ourselves to the bosses and driving fear into their hearts, as long as we make sure there is no pattern in the killings

1. I call cop.

2. If you're not a cop, you're going to meet them very soon if you carry on like that with nothing but an alias to anonymise you.

Yeah, I guess I just made myself eligible to go to 20 years of prison under the smith act.

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Jan 15 2012 23:15

we are very happy to see that most posts here share our view on "the propaganda of the deed".

however it is disappointing that only a few groups world-wide have really made a stand against these letterbombs-actions and the people behind them.
the anarchist movement has to make clear that these kind of actions are against our ideas and we do NOT tolerate them.

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Jan 16 2012 01:05

Turning away fellow anarchists based on their methods is terrible. There is no right or wrong way and there is definitely more than one road to your goal.

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Jan 16 2012 01:43

Dunno about cop but Ravineman is definitely admin: no flaming, especially of new posters. Especially as you yourself have complained about people being rude on libcom!

Ambrose, I'm all for turning more of these fuckwits away. There's no right or wrong way? What a pile of wishy washy rubbish. While there may indeed be disagreements over the right way to go about things, some methods clearly undermine our movement and are just plain wrong.

Build working class resistance or maim a minion? As Sesame Street used to say, 'one of these things is not like the other...'

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Jan 16 2012 01:46
Ravineman wrote:
What? I don't believe in vanguardism anymore. I was mislead by the PLP to believe in it. I am an anarcho-communist now that I read the "anarchist FAQ's" on infoshop. I have individualist leanings though, and I don't want to identify with any particular theorist's work.

Okay.

Ambrose wrote:
Turning away fellow anarchists based on their methods is terrible. There is no right or wrong way and there is definitely more than one road to your goal.

Vanguardism or individuals bombing our way into communism?

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Jan 16 2012 02:11
Ambrose wrote:
Turning away fellow anarchists based on their methods is terrible. There is no right or wrong way and there is definitely more than one road to your goal.

this is the right way tongue

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Jan 16 2012 04:48
Ambrose wrote:
Turning away fellow anarchists based on their methods is terrible. There is no right or wrong way and there is definitely more than one road to your goal.

There was another thread on this forum recently that discussed comments made by a Romanian anarcho-syndicalist who thought that raping women with fascist views was a legitimate political tactic. Now I think those 'methods' are wrong. And disgusting. I'm all for people trying to figure out what methods work for them, but one of the basic insights of anarchism is that we should act in a way that pre-figures the society we want to live in. So we should not be fine with whatever methods people chose, only with methods we think can help build things like solidarity and equality on which we rely for the overturning of this society and the introduction of a new one.

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Jan 16 2012 10:32
Ambrose wrote:
Turning away fellow anarchists based on their methods is terrible. There is no right or wrong way and there is definitely more than one road to your goal.

While I'm inclined to agree in principal (that there is more than one way), I fathom propaganda of the deed, especially letterbombing, is not especially helpful. Counter-productive, even! So harsh criticism is not out of place.

One question this raises for example, is what's so anarchist about blowing up proletarians? I think it's been shown that those in power never actually open those letters themselves, some poor secretary usually gets the hit.

The other end of it might be RAF-style target killings. While there's a bit of a disagreement about how much violence alienates people from us, this strategy is not doing much in terms of abolishing existing conditions or making the world a better place. It just puts you in prison and gives those in power more reasons to tighten their iron grip.

I think this is a cliche example (and proves Godwin's law at the same moment), but think of the Reichstag fire. What did that help?

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Jan 16 2012 11:19

Bombs are pretty fucking appalling for anyone calling themselves a friend of The People tbh, while with assassinations, yes they're applicable tactics in a time of open war, taking out the enemy's smartest operators is a good plan if you want to win quickly, but it's not an applicable plan here for several reasons:

1. This phase of the class war is structural, not visceral atm, but if you started assassinations you can be damn sure the ruling class would do the same and with way more ferocity, resources and expertise (just look at the dirty war in Spain against ETA, which had far more public support than a bunch of anarchists could manage in today's West). Raising the stakes is something you do once you have the strength, not something you do with a non-existent support network. And if you have that strength, assassinations will be no more than a sideshow issue compared to the main event.

2. I don't think you quite understand who it is that would need targeting. The "1%" is massive, it's 60,000 people in Britain alone, let alone the support networks for the franchise which lead to around a third of all Britons identifying as Tories. Tie in the international networks which actually run the business of capital and you're talking millions of elites, maybe billions of lackeys. It's a relatively small number compared to the 7 billion-odd workers who stand to benefit from revolution but these people are not going to be scared away by the murder of a couple of front men in any single country.

3. It's a repugnant idea, which outside of wartime no-one will think is acceptable and which goes against the very core of anarchism as a creed drawing its legitmacy from mass decision-making. It's worth reading Berkman on this, he describes how his attempted killing of Henry Clay Frick turned the workers he was doing it for against him - they never asked for it, they faced vicious reprisals because of it. Fundamentally they weren't killers but Berkman tried to turn them into unwitting accomplices in his push to spark revolutionary violence through propaganda of the deed. I like Berkman as a anarchist writer, he was a smart guy but that was the stupidest decision he ever took and he acknowledged as much.

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Jan 16 2012 11:22
Rob Ray wrote:
It's worth reading Berkman on this, he describes how his attempted killing of Henry Clay Frick turned the workers he was doing it for against him - they never asked for it, they faced vicious reprisals because of it. Fundamentally they weren't killers but Berkman tried to turn them into unwitting accomplices in his push to spark revolutionary violence through propaganda of the deed. I like Berkman as a anarchist writer, he was a smart guy but that was the stupidest decision he ever took and he acknowledged as much.

It certainly is. "Prison memoirs of an anarchist" is (among many other things) the story of him coming to realise what a stupid decision it was, as well as an account of his change of attitude to the working class.

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Jan 17 2012 04:35

I'm not advocating, I'm saying it's impossible to force every anarchist to turn away such things as letter-bombing. I can understand how violence turns people away, and a peaceful resolution should be sought at all times. But there will always be those who are tired of what they have to endure, lone-wolves who take matters into their own hands.

We all remember the bombing in Oslo. I have no idea what kind of impact the Oslo bombing had in Norway, but I'm not hearing it in the news like I did with 9/11. I have the feeling most American's have forgotten it ever happened. Where as with OWS leftists are being accused of acts they aren't even doing, I've heard several times people say the OWS folks are violent and deserved the heavy-handed police response. Meanwhile I hear from people at the spot that they are hard-core pacifists to the point of abandoning their fellows, submitting to the same mindset as those I just mentioned.

If it had been leftists who had bombed Oslo, I sincerely believe it would have received much more media coverage. Our disposition is what it is and because of it the media will always portray us negatively to the public eye. Most people will be turned away by violent action, but perhaps they would have been turned away no matter what action we undertook?

Some will despise us no matter what we do, some will praise us. Revolution is a tasty way of saying civil war and there will always be those who will curse us for provoking state action, those who have faith in the state and it's rightness. There will also always be those who will say it was necessary, who would say such conditions would be suffered at some point. Father against son, brother against brother, that is revolution.

And as with every revolution or similar military campaign, the majority of people will be uninvolved, the middlemen and women, those who are simply trying to live their lives and raise their families. Some will blame us for causing them hardship, some will blame the corporations and the state for enacting their hardship, and still others will believe both at once.

But I do not condone bombings. I believe action is better than inaction. I believe the more we as a group try to control such things as letter-bombings the less control we will have and the more our principles will be forgotten. It will happen as it has happened in the past and we can't control it, we shouldn't even desire to control it for it is the only way to push society to the crisis point necessary for people to do something.

Self initiative is key, and while I may disagree with letter-bombing, I know I can do nothing to significantly change it.

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Jan 17 2012 08:04

A few of these arguments really rub me the wrong way. Edit for clarity: not necessarily the conclusions, but the support you give for them.

afunke wrote:
Maybe you have already seen in the last paragraphs that the motivation behind such actions like letterbombs is based on the personification of the capitalist system. Single individuals are outlined as scapegoats and blamed for all the mischief in this society. But the capitalist system is much more complex and it is not dependent on a few exchangable persons or groups.

You know what, maybe that's true, but it's very clear that there are people who are profiting off of death, murdering, and personally oppressing others. Seeing as how they do all of this here and now, I wouldn't exactly cry if I found out that one of them blew up. When you're being attacked you have the right to defend yourself.

Quote:
It is clear that letterbombs and other „propaganda of the deed“ (murder of certain human beings) will lead to even more repression. These easy to discredit actions make it an ease for the state to legitimize repression.

Congratulations! You've just recreated what every liberal at every protest I've ever been to has told me. "We can't walk into the state building! Then we'll justify a reaction from the cops! We can't march in the street! Then the cops will react! Stay on the sidewalk! We can't link arms! The cops will get scared and attack us! We can't do anything but stay in the pre-approved protest area and hold out signs and do everything the police tell us!"

This is a really lame sauce argument. Guess what, any widespread radical activity will lead to more repression. If everyone starts their own gardens, or community gardens, that can't be bought out while boycotting major food suppliers it would lead to more repression. If people start joining the IWW en masse it will lead to more repression.

Viewing "us" as something other than "the general public" is probably more of a statement about the speaker than the movement. I don't do things that are good for my ideology, I do things that are good for my class and my community.

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Jan 17 2012 07:12
Ambrose wrote:
And as with every revolution or similar military campaign, the majority of people will be uninvolved, the middlemen and women, those who are simply trying to live their lives and raise their families.

Not to split hairs, as I overwhelmingly agree with most of your post, but women have a long history of partaking in insurrectionist activities.

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Jan 17 2012 07:22

But letterbombs are really stupid, btw.

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Jan 17 2012 07:59

Being against letter bombing does not make you a pacifist! There is a huge difference between terrorism and the kind of violence we see used by revolutionary workers (during the Paris Commune and the Spanish Revolution or even by protestors occupying buildings and confronting police today).

Being against the murder of civilians for political gain is not the same as being non-violent. That should be obvious.

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Jan 17 2012 10:27
Birthday Pony wrote:
This is a really lame sauce argument. Guess what, any widespread radical activity will lead to more repression. If everyone starts their own gardens, or community gardens, that can't be bought out while boycotting major food suppliers it would lead to more repression. If people start joining the IWW en masse it will lead to more repression.

If the IWW retains it's radicalism as it did at it's peak in the early 20th centuary, then surely as brilliant day light leads to pitch black night, there will be state repression. The IWW was destroyed by state agencies with ruthless leaderships. The same goes for any movements or organisations that seriously challenge the state's monopoly of overwhelming violence within it's territory.

That's not to say there won't be a time for "violence". I would rather wait until there develops a substantial working class movement thats capable of formulating a clear anti-state and anti-capitalist programme. In the here and now, I think militants should be focused on helping to build such a movement and shouldn't advocate the use of "terrorist" methods. That only leads to the legitimacy of overwhelming state sponsored violence against workers movements and the isolation of militants.

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Jan 17 2012 11:40
Ambrose wrote:
I'm not advocating, I'm saying it's impossible to force every anarchist to turn away such things as letter-bombing.

nobody said anything about "forcing" other anarchists to act in a way "we" think is okay. but we can criticize them.

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Jan 17 2012 11:42
Birthday Pony wrote:
Quote:
It is clear that letterbombs and other „propaganda of the deed“ (murder of certain human beings) will lead to even more repression. These easy to discredit actions make it an ease for the state to legitimize repression.

Congratulations! You've just recreated what every liberal at every protest I've ever been to has told me. "We can't walk into the state building! Then we'll justify a reaction from the cops! We can't march in the street! Then the cops will react! Stay on the sidewalk! We can't link arms! The cops will get scared and attack us! We can't do anything but stay in the pre-approved protest area and hold out signs and do everything the police tell us!"

every action will bring us more repression of course. but letterbombs dont achieve anything. if you occupy a bank or something like that, it achieves something really big. you can create a place for freethinking and acting. there will be repression for that action but at least you have achieved something in the first place, you know?