-criticism on letterbombs and propaganda of the deed-

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Harrison
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Jan 17 2012 17:19
Awesome Dude wrote:
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.

this is a terrific post

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Jan 17 2012 18:19
afunke wrote:
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?

Cool, but that's not the argument you made, and the original idea of "we can't do X because it legitimizes state repression," is always a really lame idea.

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Jan 17 2012 21:25
Ambrose wrote:
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?

Surely a fucking letterbomb gives the capitalist media more ammunition to slander our movement than some minor direct action on the street! It is true that the capitalists will paint us as violent psychos even when we act in an almost entirely non-violent way, but this sort of act by so-called "anarchists" will provoke a state response that will make the treatment of OWS by the cops look totally reasonable and reserved in comparison.

Ambrose wrote:
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.

Doesn't the fact that some people will be against us anyway make it more, not less, important to use violence in as discriminating a manner as possible? We need to win those people over, not say "oh well they will always be against us" and then act in a manner that confirms their worst fears!

Ambrose wrote:
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.

Ridiculous. So denouncing terrorist methods is equivalent to betraying "our principles"? You think random fucking bombings are really going to push society in a better direction? Really? Seems to me that outside of a revolutionary period all they do is create an atmosphere of fear that plays into the hands of reactionaries and fascists.

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Jan 17 2012 21:48
Birthday Pony wrote:
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.

Insurrectionism isn't about workers fighting back violently against their oppressors. It's usually some "anarchist" who has absolutely nothing to do with the specific thing he or she is "retaliating" against taking action in a totally vanguardist, substitutionalist manner. Alexander Berkman, for example, had nothing to do (as far as I know) with the Homestead strike. The workers in that strike did indeed "defend themselves". Defending ourselves as a class looks nothing like this sort of clandestine, (de facto) elitist, vangaurdist, and highly immoral act. Even if one accepts violence, using a letter bomb is probably the most cowardly, pathetic method.

afunke 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!"

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.

The difference is that afunke is actually entirely correct, while the liberals are of course wrong. Indeed, serious "terrorist" acts like this will bring down a very harsh reaction (as the history of anarchism clearly demonstrates). Of course the direct action the more radical wing of #occupy has undertaken has provoked repression in the form of beatings and pepper spraying, arbitrary arrest, etc, but this sort of repression is nothing compared to what would occur following a wave of such events in, say, the United States. Basically, the two types of repression are apples and oranges.

Even if you are correct and mass movements generate an amount of repression equal to that provoked by vanguardist bombings, I would still condemn bombing as a means of struggle (outside of a revolutionary war, of course) and advocate mass movements. Why? Because even if they produce the exact same reaction from the state as insurrectionism, mass movements have far more positive, revolutionary effects. The experience of mass struggle radicalizes individuals and furthers class consciousness. What's more valuable, a revolutionary mass movement of the working class or a few dead bureaucrats?

Also, afunke is entirely correct to point out the absurdity of seeing such a bombing as an effective action (even the most die-hard insurrectionists usually don't view the acts of violence themselves as being revolutionary, but their supposed ability to galvanize a mass uprising of the workers). Destroying individual capitalists does absolutely nothing. Capitalism is a social structure that must be changed socially, not a military force analogous to an occupying army which can simply be liquidated in order to bring about communism!

Harrison
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Jan 18 2012 01:27

i'd personally like to see letter bombers get mobbed by a load of angry posties

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Jan 18 2012 02:30

Honestly. I have written a few posts for this thread and deleted them because I could not be fucked to get into the debate. But, fuck off. This is romantic bullshit 'fellow anarchists'. I don't remember SF, ALARM or AF (as I am in the UK) getting a heads up before this action (and it could have been done), so it just stinks of vanguardist bullshit. In future, don't do things in our name and expect blind 'solidarity'.

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Jan 18 2012 03:45

We all need to take a step back, breath cool our heads.

tastybrain wrote:

Surely a fucking letterbomb gives the capitalist media more ammunition to slander our movement than some minor direct action on the street! It is true that the capitalists will paint us as violent psychos even when we act in an almost entirely non-violent way, but this sort of act by so-called "anarchists" will provoke a state response that will make the treatment of OWS by the cops look totally reasonable and reserved in comparison.

As I said I do not support terrorism.

Those whom I've spoken to believe the treatment of OWS looks perfectly reasonable and even deserved. Though they are also your typical conservative, anti-liberal person so I cannot say if this is how many American's feel or not.

I am confident however that most people have little or no knowledge regarding Anarchism at all and the people who follow it; they see starry-eyed hoodlums who cause trouble, rebellious youths and little more. If they, the Federal Government, believed us a real threat they would create whatever slander they wanted against us. They may hire someone to bomb their own buildings and blame it on us. But we're not a threat, at least not a significant one, so we're fine as far as that goes.

tastybrain wrote:

Doesn't the fact that some people will be against us anyway make it more, not less, important to use violence in as discriminating a manner as possible? We need to win those people over, not say "oh well they will always be against us" and then act in a manner that confirms their worst fears!

I believe violence should be used as discriminately as possible. The Weather Underground bombed fairly frequently and yet were not on the tip of everyone's tongue. They also did not achieve much social change or reform, nor did they spur the masses or overthrow the government. Such methods do not work outside of war.

tastybrain wrote:

Ridiculous. So denouncing terrorist methods is equivalent to betraying "our principles"? You think random fucking bombings are really going to push society in a better direction? Really? Seems to me that outside of a revolutionary period all they do is create an atmosphere of fear that plays into the hands of reactionaries and fascists.

I personally believe the best way to "fight the man" is to start a commune, perhaps like Twin Oaks or other intentional communities. Most people are at the moment fairly content with their lives under capitalism, at least content enough not to fight and I see no reason to force them to.

Although it's unfortunate that such communities do not try to accommodate people who wish to move there; Twin Oaks has not grown much and not too many new homes have been built. I'd call this laziness but I do not know the circumstances so I will refrain from criticizing too heavily.

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Jan 18 2012 07:05
tastybrain wrote:
Insurrectionism isn't about workers fighting back violently against their oppressors. It's usually some "anarchist" who has absolutely nothing to do with the specific thing he or she is "retaliating" against taking action in a totally vanguardist, substitutionalist manner. Alexander Berkman, for example, had nothing to do (as far as I know) with the Homestead strike. The workers in that strike did indeed "defend themselves". Defending ourselves as a class looks nothing like this sort of clandestine, (de facto) elitist, vangaurdist, and highly immoral act. Even if one accepts violence, using a letter bomb is probably the most cowardly, pathetic method.

What I was responding to is the idea that there is no face to capitalism, which is true, but there are certainly some faces out there. There are people to blame, and they have names and addresses.

Letterbombing is really dumb. I agree. What I don't like are the arguments the OP made to get to that conclusion.

Quote:
The difference is that afunke is actually entirely correct, while the liberals are of course wrong. Indeed, serious "terrorist" acts like this will bring down a very harsh reaction (as the history of anarchism clearly demonstrates). Of course the direct action the more radical wing of #occupy has undertaken has provoked repression in the form of beatings and pepper spraying, arbitrary arrest, etc, but this sort of repression is nothing compared to what would occur following a wave of such events in, say, the United States. Basically, the two types of repression are apples and oranges.

Even if you are correct and mass movements generate an amount of repression equal to that provoked by vanguardist bombings, I would still condemn bombing as a means of struggle (outside of a revolutionary war, of course) and advocate mass movements. Why? Because even if they produce the exact same reaction from the state as insurrectionism, mass movements have far more positive, revolutionary effects. The experience of mass struggle radicalizes individuals and furthers class consciousness. What's more valuable, a revolutionary mass movement of the working class or a few dead bureaucrats?

Also, afunke is entirely correct to point out the absurdity of seeing such a bombing as an effective action (even the most die-hard insurrectionists usually don't view the acts of violence themselves as being revolutionary, but their supposed ability to galvanize a mass uprising of the workers). Destroying individual capitalists does absolutely nothing. Capitalism is a social structure that must be changed socially, not a military force analogous to an occupying army which can simply be liquidated in order to bring about communism!

What afunke failed to do was give any nuance to the difference between "we can't throw bombs because it legitimizes repression" and "we can't march off the sidewalk because it legitimizes repression." If you're going to say letterbombs are dumb, which is easy enough to do, you should have arguments that are a bit better than, "then they'll think we're all terr'ists."

Still, I'm on the same page with everyone here that letterbombs are straight up dumb.

Harrison
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Jan 18 2012 10:29
Arbeiten wrote:
Honestly. I have written a few posts for this thread and deleted them because I could not be fucked to get into the debate. But, fuck off. This is romantic bullshit 'fellow anarchists'. I don't remember SF, ALARM or AF (as I am in the UK) getting a heads up before this action (and it could have been done), so it just stinks of vanguardist bullshit. In future, don't do things in our name and expect blind 'solidarity'.

totally agree. it's laughable this topic is even being indulged in debate.

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Jan 18 2012 10:46

Can anyone tell me how bumping off the occasional capitalist or politician will mean any change in the rate of surplus value these fuckers wring out of us every day? I don't see the link meself.

In fact, this discussion is so shite that I propose we shut down Libcom for the day just to express our disgust at such wankity wank wadical posturing on here.

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Jan 18 2012 10:50

I join to those who are sick of the argument of "bad publicity" while I don't see what does such a letter bombing could achieve if anything at all. What worries me though that people racing to condemn any violent act that is allegedly committed by anarchists or similar radical groups/individuals.

First of all, as Birthday Pony says correctly IMO, that repression is constant, and focused on any activity that challenges the power. If unionized workers would gain enough momentum, its damn sure that you will see randomly arrested union leaders beaten to death on the police station (that's not something from the past). If people take land, damn sure that there will be legislation to shoot them on sight by the landowners/landlords, and you see the "ringleaders" suffering fatal accidents in their prison cells. Not to mention the constant nature of police harassment that goes with that precious fucking public opinion, like against immigrants, gypsys, "feral youth" and other parts of the society, the "underclass". Many of these are already justified in the public opinion because repression isn't reaction: it's the priory nature of authority. Funny though, that comrades are bothered with the "polls".

It's way to easy to say that "I'm advocating mass movement." Who da fuck doesn't? In our wet dreams we all envision masses taking their workplaces, the residential and utility buildings, forcing the police to disolve only by their numbers and so on. However, this isn't happening, and I'm tempted to believe that it won't happen ever. There's too much idealized element of this picture. Time to time it is needed to challenge this concept of revolution because it isn't happening.

But killings are sooo 19th century, and there's a whole world to be abolished ahead of us. Perhaps instead of trying to take out people who perhaps truly are just waste of space would not help us much. Fucking up the economy would do much better job.

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Jan 18 2012 10:53
Serge Forward wrote:
Can anyone tell me how bumping off the occasional capitalist or politician will mean any change in the rate of surplus value these fuckers wring out of us every day? I don't see the link meself.

Well said, Serge.

I know this won't be popular in some quarters here, but even Trotsky was closer to our position on the usefulness of 'terrorism' for workers, than some of the posters on this thread.

Trotsky wrote:
A strike, even of modest size, has social consequences: strengthening of the workers' self-confidence, growth of the trade union, and not infrequently even an improvement in productive technology. The murder of a factory owner produces effects of a police nature only, or a change of proprietors devoid of any social significance. Whether a terrorist attempt, even a 'successful' one, throws the ruling class into confusion depends on the concrete political circumstances. In any case, the confusion can only be short-lived; the capitalist state does not base itself on government ministers and cannot be eliminated with them. The classes it serves will always find new people; the mechanism remains intact and continues to function.

But the disarray introduced into the ranks of the working masses themselves by a terrorist attempt is much deeper. If it is enough to arm oneself with a pistol in order to achieve one's goal, why the efforts of the class struggle? If a thimbleful of gunpowder and a little chunk of lead is enough to shoot the enemy through the neck, what need is there for a class organization? If it makes sense to terrify highly placed personages with the roar of explosions, where is the need for the party? Why meetings, mass agitation and elections if one can so easily take aim at the ministerial bench from the gallery of parliament?

In our eyes, individual terror is inadmissible precisely because it belittles the role of the masses in their own consciousness, reconciles them to their powerlessness, and turns their eyes and hopes towards a great avenger and liberator who some day will come and accomplish his mission.

http://socialistalternative.org/literature/terrorism/

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Jan 18 2012 11:26

It's enough to drive yer to trotskyism, I tell yer eek

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Jan 18 2012 12:55
soc wrote:
I join to those who are sick of the argument of "bad publicity" while I don't see what does such a letter bombing could achieve if anything at all. What worries me though that people racing to condemn any violent act that is allegedly committed by anarchists or similar radical groups/individuals.

nobody said anything about condemning all violent acts. but there is a different between defending an occupied building with stones/molotovs/weapons and cowardly trying to bomb a human being.

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Jan 19 2012 05:21
soc wrote:
I join to those who are sick of the argument of "bad publicity" while I don't see what does such a letter bombing could achieve if anything at all. What worries me though that people racing to condemn any violent act that is allegedly committed by anarchists or similar radical groups/individuals.

First of all, as Birthday Pony says correctly IMO, that repression is constant, and focused on any activity that challenges the power. If unionized workers would gain enough momentum, its damn sure that you will see randomly arrested union leaders beaten to death on the police station (that's not something from the past). If people take land, damn sure that there will be legislation to shoot them on sight by the landowners/landlords, and you see the "ringleaders" suffering fatal accidents in their prison cells. Not to mention the constant nature of police harassment that goes with that precious fucking public opinion, like against immigrants, gypsys, "feral youth" and other parts of the society, the "underclass". Many of these are already justified in the public opinion because repression isn't reaction: it's the priory nature of authority. Funny though, that comrades are bothered with the "polls".

It's way to easy to say that "I'm advocating mass movement." Who da fuck doesn't? In our wet dreams we all envision masses taking their workplaces, the residential and utility buildings, forcing the police to disolve only by their numbers and so on. However, this isn't happening, and I'm tempted to believe that it won't happen ever. There's too much idealized element of this picture. Time to time it is needed to challenge this concept of revolution because it isn't happening.

But killings are sooo 19th century, and there's a whole world to be abolished ahead of us. Perhaps instead of trying to take out people who perhaps truly are just waste of space would not help us much. Fucking up the economy would do much better job.

afunke wrote:
nobody said anything about condemning all violent acts. but there is a different between defending an occupied building with stones/molotovs/weapons and cowardly trying to bomb a human being.

I agree with both of these posts. Isolated acts of violence against individuals does not work and indeed it is cowardly.

Defending occupations and protests, that's acceptable and admirably brave in my opinion.

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Jan 19 2012 10:17

What's wrong with being offensive? How about bringing down police stations and military barracks? (Of course, it isn't viable without a firm organisation and that should be forged beforehand, in occupations, strikes, or whatever it takes).

Personally, I found quite unsettling confining violence to a completely defensive manner. The strikes these days are completely reactionary, second order actions: the government does x, public sector moves. Supporting these strikes is one things, but anarchists actions are only meaningful, if they are offensive: using strike, occupations, sabotages etc. as an act for crippling capitalism, to paralyze the state. That is, giving a breath to people to organize themselves on a community basis. Violence in this toolbox is an equal partner to the others. To disarm, and shut down the police, we need to take the initiation instead of waiting for an other man to die by their hands. That would be moral in my dictionary.

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Jan 19 2012 11:24
soc wrote:
What's wrong with being offensive? How about bringing down police stations and military barracks?

Capitalism is a social relationship. The question then is how do you attack that specific social relationship? Going on the "offensive" is not about "bringing down police stations and military barracks". Collectively withdrawing our labour is the most effective "attack" workers have got. You can't blow up social relations with dinamite (though the same doen't apply to mothers in law).

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Jan 19 2012 11:25
soc wrote:
What's wrong with being offensive? How about bringing down police stations and military barracks? (Of course, it isn't viable without a firm organisation and that should be forged beforehand, in occupations, strikes, or whatever it takes).

Personally, I found quite unsettling confining violence to a completely defensive manner. The strikes these days are completely reactionary, second order actions: the government does x, public sector moves. Supporting these strikes is one things, but anarchists actions are only meaningful, if they are offensive: using strike, occupations, sabotages etc. as an act for crippling capitalism, to paralyze the state. That is, giving a breath to people to organize themselves on a community basis. Violence in this toolbox is an equal partner to the others. To disarm, and shut down the police, we need to take the initiation instead of waiting for an other man to die by their hands. That would be moral in my dictionary.

oh dont get us wrong here. attacking military barracks and destroying the war-machines is a great action, too. violence shouldnt just be good for defensive-purposes.
but letterbombs are different. like we already said a few times now^^

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Jan 19 2012 11:35
Quote:
Can anyone tell me how bumping off the occasional capitalist or politician will mean any change in the rate of surplus value these fuckers wring out of us every day?

This. And it's a completely different concept from "taking down a military barracks." If you're at the stage that the latter is a realistic possibility then you're talking a whole different ball game to the kind of atomised vanguardism which produces assassination.

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Jan 20 2012 07:35
Awesome Dude wrote:
Capitalism is a social relationship.

Yes and no.

It's not hard to see capitalism creep away in the communities it has left behind, although it usually springs back into them with hordes of rich folks to speculate on property (the basic gentrification scenario). However, this system is maintained primarily through violence. And there are people committing this violence. Even if capitalism is a social relationship, something cannot be social without people on either end.

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Jan 20 2012 09:39
Birthday Pony wrote:
Even if capitalism is a social relationship, something cannot be social without people on either end.

The point is that the 'people on either end' are not the focus of our interest. It is the 'social relationship' that is our concern.

Removing the individual 'people' does not remove the functional position. Violence alone cannot remove the 'social relationship'. Only structural change can remove that relationship, perhaps requiring violence (class-based, not heroic individuals) at some point, but not necessarily in all cases.

A 'military barracks' is only a group of buildings that are 'barracks' within a wider certain 'exploitative social relationship'. Remove that 'relationship' and the 'barracks' revert to being mere buildings.

No 'attacks' or dynamite required, just proper social analysis and class organisation.

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Jan 22 2012 05:22

I'm not sure how a social relationship can be dealt with without dealing with people, and I'm not necessarily saying with violence. In the instance of a friendship where power is skewed towards one friend, you can analyze the hell out of the relationship, but you're not really going to solve anything until you talk to your friend about it and work it out.

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Jan 23 2012 05:46
Birthday Pony wrote:
I'm not sure how a social relationship can be dealt with without dealing with people...

Well, dealing with the 'social relationship' is not dealing with the people as individuals within that relationship.

As has been said earlier:

Awesome Dude wrote:
Capitalism is a social relationship. The question then is how do you attack that specific social relationship? ... You can't blow up social relations with dinamite

I suspect that the differences being expressed here now are between two competing conceptions of 'society', one as 'a collection of individuals', within which conception the focus of analysis is upon 'the individuals comprising the relationship', which is what Birthday Pony seems to be expressing, and an alternative conception of society as being 'the relationships between individuals'. The latter provides the focus of analysis for me and Awesome Dude, amongst others on this thread, upon the shape or form of the 'relationship', and not the 'individuals at either end' of it.

I used the analogy of 'lego' to explain the differences between these two differing views on a recent thread.

http://libcom.org/forums/general/not-communist-anarchist-13122011?page=2

See especially post #62.

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Jan 23 2012 17:19

I'm not at all trying to make a case for a collective of individuals. That's just bullocks.

What I am trying to say is that social relationships need not be viewed as nebulous concepts floating around out there that we must discuss in metaphorical or obscure language.

The point is that capitalism is not just a faceless concept that happens from magic. There are people that enforce its rules and regulations every day. After patterned and regular violence on their part, capitalism seems to be something greater than it is in as much as people start acting on it out of habit and social conditioning, necessity even. However, that does not change the fact that when you're dealing with capitalism you're dealing with people. Capitalism is both something internal and external.

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Jan 23 2012 17:58
Birthday Pony wrote:
What I am trying to say is that social relationships need not be viewed as nebulous concepts floating around out there that we must discuss in metaphorical or obscure language.

No, you're right, 'social relationships' shouldn't be viewed as 'nebulous concepts floating around out there'. They are real. But merely looking at the individuals that make up those relationships doesn't get us anywhere. Can't see the wood for the trees, and all that.

Saying that there is something outside of the individuals who comprise the relationship is not 'obscure language'.

Birthday Pony wrote:
However, that does not change the fact that when you're dealing with capitalism you're dealing with people.

No, this is an incorrect formulation. Capitalism not just 'people' we're dealing with: it's 'people in a certain relationship'. It's not 'metaphorical' to insist that the 'relationship' is something different to, and greater than, the people that make up the relationship.

This insistance is at the heart of this discussion about 'terrorism'. Our task is to change 'social relationships', not to kill the individuals who fill the functional positions within those relationships.

'Social structures' are not just individuals. And just examining individuals means we actually miss the social relationships.

Birthday Pony wrote:
I'm not at all trying to make a case for a collective of individuals. That's just bullocks.

Yeah, I agree. It's a wonder any Communists mention 'individual acts', isn't it, when we need to be addressing social structures, what they are, how we change them and to what shape.

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Jan 23 2012 18:25

I'm not understanding you. I've granted that capitalism is something external and internal, but I would not argue that the totality of any potential society is simply a grid in which people fit like pegs to holes.

And, just as you, I don't believe there are solely individual acts. Still, there are people who are more to blame than others for perpetuating capitalism.

What I mostly am not getting is how capitalism is not just a relationship bigger than the individuals within it (which I would agree with), but something separate from them. Viewing capitalism as such puts us in a very awkward position if we wish to overthrow it. Either it places all the struggle on the shoulders of everyone to simply "stop thinking like a capitalist," which I think we both agree is bogus, or it renders any resistance to capitalism a side effect of some kind of existential determinism that makes it unsustainable in the first place. In which case, why are we bothering to have this discussion anyway if capitalism is destined to fall? Neither solution seems very liberating to me.

The third possibility is that it turns capitalism into something with volition on the same plane as a human, which just seems like the mother of all personifications and projections possible.

LBird
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Jan 23 2012 19:22
Birthday Pony wrote:
...I would not argue that the totality of any potential society is simply a grid in which people fit like pegs to holes.

Well, I hadn't thought of conceptualising it like that, but I'll run with your analogy!

Yeah, I would see a 'social structure' as a 'grid' into which 'individuals' fit like 'pegs'. It's the 'holes', or social roles, that need re-ordering so that the 'grid' fits our needs. Unless we realise how we are structured by society, and that we need to alter that structure, we will remain trapped in our assigned 'holes' in our given 'grid'.

Birthday Pony wrote:
Still, there are people who are more to blame than others for perpetuating capitalism.

I wouldn't use the term 'blame' myself, as it sounds too moralistic to me. I'd rather regard the people involved as playing social roles within a structure. Smash the present structure and construct a new one, and the 'blameworthy' social role disappears. That's why the 'terrorist' tactic of killing those to 'blame' doesn't work.

Birthday Pony wrote:
What I mostly am not getting is how capitalism is not just a relationship bigger than the individuals within it (which I would agree with), but something separate from them.

Yeah, by 'separate' or (my term) 'outside of', I'm trying to emphasise that structures have emergent properties and behaviours which can't simply be reduced to the constituent parts. Perhaps 'beyond' is a better term than 'outside of'. So, 'capitalism' isn't merely the conscious acts of individuals, it's an 'exploitative social relationship' that must be changed at that level. Simply killing or removing individuals won't change that structure.

This all brings us back to bricks/buildings/barracks - they are the same thing seen at different levels and in different contexts, and getting rid of the 'barracks' can be done without necessarily destroying the 'buildings'. This is what our advocates of 'terrorism' don't seem to understand.

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HorrorHiro
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Jan 23 2012 19:35

I completely agree with Ambrose, who exactly gets to dictate how fellow Anarchist try to help the movement? Simply because you disagree with it? In these modern times we have to look at means for reaching our goals from more than 1 perspective.

There's not a doubt in my mind that violence is necessary for the movement to move forward, maybe not right now but it most certainly will be. But I don't think any sort of organized violence against the state and or it's forces should happen without a concrete revolutionary force.

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Rob Ray
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Jan 23 2012 19:48
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Simply because you disagree with it?

Personally, I'd be peeved if I ended up being universally shunned and/or subjected to serious repression (jail time, torture) for expressing my political philosophy because some selfish wanker had gone on a murder spree to indulge their individual desire to "fuck shit up." Anarchism is NOT about doing whatever you feel like regardless of the consequences and then demanding solidarity when you get in trouble for it, you are part of a wider movement which is affected by your actions. Rather than whine about people being too critical, how about taking some goddamn responsibility for the views and needs of the movement you supposedly support!

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HorrorHiro
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Jan 23 2012 19:58
Rob Ray wrote:
Quote:
Simply because you disagree with it?

Personally, I'd be peeved if I ended up being universally shunned and/or subjected to serious repression (jail time, torture) for expressing my political philosophy because some selfish wanker had gone on a murder spree to indulge their individual desire to "fuck shit up." Anarchism is NOT about doing whatever the fuck you feel like regardless of the consequences and then demanding solidarity, you are part of a wider movement which is affected by your actions. Take some goddamn responsibility for the health of the movement you supposedly support!

Did you read the rest of that post? And do you not believe that people should be able to live free of laws and oppressive/repressive state's/governing bodies? Then what kind of Anarchist are you exactly? And my point still stands, wouldn't you be going against the movement yourself if you imposed yourself on said murderous individual? I'm not trying to prove you wrong or anything with that last question I'm seriously wondering if that would qualify as going against the movement, I mean I personally would do everything in my power to stop this person (depending on who he killed, like if he was gonna go on a killing spree that consisted of rapists and other killers then I'd probably encourage him.)