fredy perlman’s continuing appeal of nationalism
ARR’s The Left-Overs
post-left vs “woke” left
welp, our reading picker didn’t come through, but here are three pieces from killing king abacus, an influential zine out of santa cruz in the 90s/early aughts.
NOTES TOWARD A NEW ANALYSIS OF THE INSTITUTIONS OF DOMINATION
As recently as 65 years ago, it was common to find analyses in anarchist literature of the institutions in which the various forms of domination were manifested. If one wrote of the oppression of women, the family and marriage would be examined and exposed. If the repression of pleasure and the joy of life was the question under discussion, religion and law would be put under the gun. The institutional framework upon which this society has been built was recognized as the source of exploitation, domination and alienation. It seems that in recent times this institutional framework has been largely forgotten. Of the various institutions into which our alienated creative potential has been accumulated to our detriment, only the state and capital (and occasionally technology) seem to get mentioned to any significant extent any more and even these are frequently treated more as states of mind than as concrete social institutions. Thus, we discover that anarchists are against statism (whatever that is) rather than the state. So Bookchin can claim to be anti-statist while promoting the ancient Greek city-state as a model for his democratic version of “anarchy”. And every other form of oppression also becomes an “ism” (racism, sexism, etc.) or worse (homophobia implies a psychological disorder needing therapy, not a form of social repression calling for revolt). Of course, we do not deny the reality of the ideologies of bigotry and their penetration into the thoughts and feelings of the exploited and oppressed. But without an understanding of the institutional framework of oppression and domination, it is not possible to understand how the ruling class uses these ideologies to divide those they exploit. Even the seemingly most radical (because their rhetoric is most extreme) in the anarchist milieu do not escape this. The critique coming from primitivist and anti-civilization circles far too often aims its verbal attack at a nebulous, poorly defined civilization. Certainly, “for the destruction of civilization” sounds radical. On my own terms, I even agree with it. But on my terms, civilization is not some nebulous, largely mental, category springing from rationalism or the western mindset or whatever undesirable way of thinking; it is a network of concrete social institutions that I confront in my daily life: the state, the economy, religion, the family, technological systems, and so on, all very real entities that no mind games will eradicate. And here is where the current tendency falls short. When an analysis of the institutional framework of oppression, exploitation, domination and alienation are forgotten, therapy replaces revolution. We are forced to deal with the pathetic, whining confessions of a Chris Crass or the bad pop psychology of the writers of “Stick it to the Manarchy” (using terms like “manarchy” is a sure sign that someone is saying nothing worth hearing) as they try to work out their insipient “sexism”, “racism”, “homophobia” and “classism” which are no longer ideologies of bigotry, but low-level mental illnesses suffered by the self-proclaimed “privileged” of all classes. Any serious revolutionary anarchist has to see all of this as just another ploy by the cowardly and by those who still have some stake in the present order to put off the real decision about which side they are on in the struggle against this society. Those of us who are serious about destroying the present world in order to create our lives as our own have no time for these self-indulgent mind-games reminiscent of 12-step groups (“My name is…, and I am an addict of my own repression”). Our task is before us: to expose and attack the institutions that have stolen our lives from us and, in the process, to reappropriate our lives. Whatever small bits of oppressive mentality might survive this process can be dealt with when we’ve accomplished this task.
PARODY AND SUBVERSION: NOTES ON ROLES
Roles are the repetitive performance of a particular set of power relations. The incentive for playing a role is a shred of power; even when one plays a submissive role there must be some sort of incentive even if this is only a negative incentive, the avoidance of a worse fate. To say that roles are performances doesn’t make them unreal, roles are real acts, acts that are repeated until they harden into habit. Roles do not appear from nowhere, they are perpetuated by institutions such as the family, the workplace, businesses, bureaucracies, schools, and roles in turn perpetuate the power structures of these institutions. There are objective social structures and institutions that perpetuate roles, this does not mean that they are set in stone. There are subjective desires to subvert and destroy these roles, this doesn’t mean that this is easy or that subversion will succeed. In the tension between the structures of power and the desire to rebel, the game of subversion is played.
Ethnicity, gender and class existed before capitalism but in very different forms. Ethnicity has been changed drastically by the rise of the nation state, gender roles have been changed by the proletarianization of women, and it is quite obvious that the rise of capitalism changed class structure. Nevertheless roles based on gender, ethnicity and class were used to perpetuate power relations by the structures of power both before the rise of capitalism and after. Nationality is something that people often don’t historicize, people simply don’t realize how young the nation state is and that this has effected the very idea of cultural identity. Our present concept of ethnicity (this word comes from the Greek word for nation) is shaped by the nation state. Some imagine that nationality existed in its present form long before the rise of the nation-state and others imagine that patriarchy existed in a stronger form in the past, that it is now slowly fading away into nothingness. Patriarchy is one of the more obvious examples of a process that perpetuated roles of domination and submission long before capitalism. I would argue that some forms of patriarchy have indeed lessened but that overall patriarchy is not fading away, it has been merely reconfigured by capital into a different form, those aspects that limited the flow of capital and the proletarianization of women were changed. Patriarchy is not one global monolithic structure; it is cultural, and has varied forms. It starts in the family, spreads to other institutions and is thus reproduced throughout society. Capitalism reproduces new mutated forms of patriarchy, it uses gender difference just as it does class and ethnic/racial differences, to exploit the labor force to the greatest degree possible.
How do we use categories of identity to understand the society we live in without perpetuating the very roles that we wish to move beyond? This is tricky, if we simply throw away the categories that describe gender, race, and ethnicity we lose important tools that we need to understand how this society functions, how these categories effect and structure our relations. On the other hand, it is easy to fall into perpetuating the very roles that we wish to transcend. This is a problem that often surfaces within identity politics, which start with an identity category as a point of departure. Since such politics are based in identity categories which are fundamentally tied to roles, unless there’s a conscious attempt to subvert roles, one instead reinforces them. Recently the article “Stick it to the Manarchy” referred to women and people of color in the same lists of categories as the elderly and children as if being female or not white made a person less capable of dealing with demonstrations and riots. The argument is that people of color are prosecuted more harshly, this is true, yet I have never noticed this being a deterrent. In fact, in my experience it is those who come from more privileged backgrounds that are more scared in such situations. What their reason is for including women on this list I can’t figure out. In any case they fall into a patronizing tone in spite of any intentions to the contrary. There is a danger that discussion about gender can fall into patronizing tones that reinforce the role of the woman as victim. On the other hand, this doesn’t mean that we should avoid discussion about sexism which is very real, or that women shouldn’t complain about getting fucked over because they want to avoid perpetuating an image of the woman as victim. We can only throw away the categories of gender, race, class and so on when we are dancing on the ruins of this society and have learned to relate to each other without these roles in a classless stateless society. Until then we can’t just pretend that we are all treated equally, simply proclaiming the death of these social divisions by refusing to refer to them does nothing except forfeit a means to confront the problems that they create.
Race (or at least racism), unlike ethnicity, is based on a person’s appearance and not necessarily their culture. I do not mean to imply that race is biological, it is a social construction, but that for example a black person raised by white people, who is culturally indistinguishable from whites, still experiences racism. Gender is generally structured around biological sex (a person has to drastically change their appearance to be treated as a different gender); the traits that are described by these categories are partially biological (or based on the assumption of the presence of a certain biology) and thus it is impossible to completely break with these categories as long as the present society remains since they will effect how people treat you no matter how you act. That is, race and gender consist of more than just roles.
Roles are social because they are relations, they are performances in which there is always an interaction with the audience. They cannot simply be broken with on an individual level; by changing or breaking with a role one is necessarily changing a relation. However, this does not mean that they can only be broken with collectively, or only by society as a whole. To change roles is to change relations, such change can occur on many scales, it is not only a question of collective change. There are innumerable intermediate scales to social change that lay between the individual and the collective or the individual and the societal. Therefore we do not need to wait until some “collective break” seems imminent to move beyond the roles that shape our relations. It is precisely by not waiting and starting to subvert these relations now at whatever scale possible that a break might eventually spread throughout society as a whole. I am not referring to a collective break in the sense of a homogenous simultaneous break with roles but a multifarious rupture that spreads throughout society; the concept of roleless relations necessarily implies multiplicity for to act without a role is to act without the very power relations that create homogeneity. Of course it is not that easy, it is not just a question of everybody trying to make change in their daily lives and this change adding up to a sum total of revolution. A large-scale break with roles implies a large scale break with the power relations that roles perpetuate, in other words capital and the state must be destroyed in all of their manifestations, the multiple micro ways in which they filter into our relations, and their macro institutional forms.
To break with a role is not something that can be achieved immediately or easily, often one must first go through a process of subverting and bending roles, playing with them, making the unnaturalness of roles obvious through parody. How do we expose the unnaturalness of gender, race or nationality? Parody can expose a role as unnatural. When someone misappropriates a gender role, when a man badly copies female behavior or vice versa we may be forced to think about whether there is a “genuine” female and male behavior. Is the transvestite copying true femaleness or maleness or is s/he copying a copy? Suddenly everything gets confusing. Is she a real woman? Is there such a thing?
How do we organize ourselves in a qualitatively different manner without the constraints of roles? How would we organize ourselves if the most powerful and repressive structures which reproduce our present social roles were absent? It is important to be able to imagine such a situation and attempt to organize ourselves differently, without the roles that constrain us and perpetuate the state-capital machine, to the degree possible, here and now.
WHERE DO WE MEET FACE TO FACE
Alienation is not a psychological disorder, an inability on the part of certain individuals to adjust to a basically healthy society. Alienation is an inherent part of the present social order, objectively verifiable. The present social reality is based on a hierarchy of power that requires a system of representation through which society can reproduce itself. To maintain this social system, it is necessary that the lives of individuals be made alien to them, not self-created, but defined in terms of roles and rules of protocol for the proper relationships between these roles. The healthiest individuals in this society are precisely those who most deeply feel the anguish of their alienation, who know that real life is not here and, therefore, refuse to succumb.
Alienation is as old as civilization itself since the dawn of civilization corresponds with the origin of institutionalized power structures. But resistance to alienation is just as old. Every structure created by those in power for the purpose of controlling the interactions of individuals has met with resistance from those who do not want to be controlled. However, since this resistance has remained, for the most part, unconscious, un-willful and, thus, incoherent, social control has advanced to the point where now it often seems that there is no place left where individuals can truly meet face to face.
The main purpose of city streets and sidewalks is commercial traffic—moving goods for sale and those who buy and sell them where necessary. They are intended to create a particular form of social relationship, one centered around a market economy. But streets and sidewalks, along with city parks, became gathering places for those who simply wanted to talk and play and enjoy themselves. The so-called idle poor particularly found such settings useful for creating the interactions and pleasures that made up their lives—often to the detriment of commerce and the needs of the power structures. In recent years, streets and parks have been increasingly policed and restricted with laws against loitering, vagrancy, gathering in groups and sleeping outdoors. In addition, urban architecture and city planning, which have always reflected the interests of the ruling class, have become increasingly sterile and oppressive, creating an atmosphere in which conviviality and festivity are smothered. The most recent examples of city planning simply have no center at all. It’s becoming increasingly obvious: the reference they propose is always somewhere else. These are labyrinths in which you are only allowed to lose yourself. No games. No meetings. No living. A desert of plate-glass. A grid of roads. High-rise flats. Oppression is no longer centralized because oppression is everywhere.
Even as alienation has increased and taken on more encompassing forms, festivals and holidays such as Carnival and Halloween have acted as vehicles for the expression of genuine life, its passions and desires. Precisely because these events are separated from an everyday existence in which the separation of one’s life from oneself is the most essential quality, they have allowed people to temporarily re-appropriate their lives and passions—often protected by the anonymity of a mask, a crowd or generalized drunkenness. But these celebrations are being increasingly restricted and ordered when not completely suppressed. Concerns for public safety (conveniently forgotten when real dangers such as automobile traffic, industrial pollution or job-related accidents are at issue) are used as excuses for increased policing of such celebrations and their restriction to increasingly smaller, often enclosed spaces and highly orchestrated events. It is irrelevant that these alleged concerns for public safety are mostly based on hearsay and exaggeration. When these celebrations are restricted to small spaces and orchestrated events, commodification comes to dominate. Most of the permitted events become entertainment spectacles for which one must pay or temporary markets for the sale of junk. The genuine festivals of the exploited become increasingly illegalized by these processes, and the pallid, impoverished pseudo-festivals that are offered in their place are often too expensive for the poor—and too much like ordinary existence in this society to be attractive on any more than a superficial level anyway. The spirit of free play is being suppressed and channeled into the dispirited consumption of commodities.
The attacks on street life, both daily and festive, are essentially attacks on the exploited and marginalized of this society. The rich have long since retreated from the streets except as a means to get to or from work and the shops, preferring the imagined security of their atomized existence in which all interactions happen through the proper channels. (Even in the business districts of most cities where these managers of the economy find it necessary on occasion to walk from one building to another, they will always be walking with their cell-phone to their ear, safely regulating how and with whom they interact.) But those at the bottom of the social hierarchy have little access to these channels, and the increasingly illegal sphere of street life has been where they can meet. And here they could meet face to face.
The increased restrictions on permitted interactions on the streets and in the parks did not put an end to relatively free interactions. Taverns and cafes continued to be gathering places for discussion, the sharing of news and ideas and occasionally even for the development of subversive projects. It is true that cafes and taverns have always been places of business, places where one is expected to buy, but they have also provided space where people can meet and interact with very little mediation. Now this is changing as well. Not even considering the fact that increasingly such businesses are instituting policies of kicking individuals who don’t buy anything out, the environments themselves are being made inhospitable to real interaction. In the United States, most taverns are dominated by televisions and loud music. It is not uncommon for a tavern to have several televisions so that there is no place to turn to escape its domination. At times, the music may be fun to dance to, but when there is no way to get away from it, it becomes another attack against genuine, unmediated interaction. In a setting so unwelcoming to genuine conversation, it is easier to interact only with those you already know or to conform to the protocol of roles imposed be the social order.
Cafes remain outside of the realm of domination by the television and can still provide a setting for real interaction. But here as well there are trends which tend to move away from this. Probably the most insidious of these is the cyber-café. Along with coffee, these cafes offer computer use to their customers. Rather than talking to each other directly, people in these cafes drift into their own little cyber-world, checking out abstract and distant information or conversing electronically with people halfway across the globe. This sort of mediated interaction guarantees that ideas remain safely in the realm of opinion and makes practical projects extremely unlikely. This is not the setting from which movements such as dadaism or surrealism, or groups like the Situationist International are likely to spring.
The cyber-café is a trend that reflects the growing domination of the cybernetic over interactions of all kinds. The tedium of everyday interactions in the present world makes a virtual world very attractive to some. Certain cyber-utopians tell us that the development of computer technologies will put end to cities as we know them, as all (of the ruling and managing classes—the poor and exploited don’t count in this vision) are able to work, play and shop through their computers from suburban homesteads which they never have to leave—a more pastoral and ecological version of the luxury high-rise in which well-to-do people can live, work, play and shop without ever leaving the building. A darker, more realistic version of this vision sees the cities becoming reservations for the excluded classes and other social misfits who can’t or won’t fit into this cybertopia. The laws and restrictions limiting the use of streets and parks that are currently being put into effected are aimed precisely at these excluded ones who would be the urban dwellers of this vision. The well-to-do suburbanite is already well integrated into a system where face-to-face interaction is an anachronism to be dealt with through a protocol of surface courtesy which reinforces isolation and the atomized existence of well-oiled cogs.
This cybernetic vision, however, whether in its utopian or dystopian version, does not take the exigencies of class struggle into account. Would it, indeed, be in the interest of the ruling class to bring the exploited together in an even more concentrated manner? Could the mechanisms for creating social consensus and public opinion continue to function adequately for the maintenance of social peace in a situation of such unmitigated misery? In fact, this dystopian vision is comparable to the presently existing detention centers for undocumented aliens. These centers, which exist throughout Europe, in the United States, in Australia and so on, are places of frequent unrest and revolt (as are the urban ghettoes that presently exist). In fact the very existence of these camps are indicative of a process that is going on now that is very different from the one suggested by the dystopian perspective described above. Many cities are now being heavily gentrified with the ruling classes and their managerial lackeys moving into the center of these cities, driving out the urban exploited, leaving them with nowhere to go. In poorer countries, people who have lived on the land, taking care of their needs for themselves, are being driven off their land, proletarianized and forced into a precarious urban existence that often drives them to immigrate. In fact, rather than concentrating the exploited classes in the cities, the general trend at present seems to be for capital to force them into increasing precariousness, with no place to stay and an increasing difficulty for maintaining ongoing relationships. This could be perceived as a frontal assault by the ruling class against face-to-face interactions among the exploited, particularly those of the sort that might stimulate revolt.
Of course, this process of deconcentration is gradual and the exploited do continue to have many opportunities for face-to-face interaction. So it is presently necessary for the rulers to provide a substitute for such interactions which can act as a pacifier and can guarantee that when explosions of rage do occur those involved are not really used to talking with each other or acting together. Thus recreation must be made less interactive. Of course, this tendency toward increasingly solitary and atomized forms of recreation is not only found in the opportunities for commodified play available to the poor, but throughout society. The affluent must also be kept from real interactions of pleasure, because otherwise they might realize that the present society only offers them a larger portion of the generalized impoverishment of life that is this society’s main product. Thus, television, films, video games, computer games and virtual reality provide forms of recreation in which millions of individuals passively observe the same simulated events, maybe making the minimal response of pushing a button or flicking a switch to stimulate a programmed reaction that is the same for everyone who makes that response. Real action and interaction have no place in these recreational non-activities. Even dungeons-and-dragons type games are so thoroughly programmed that no real interaction can happen among the players who must completely transform themselves into roles determined by the rules of the game, acting in terms of these rules which often seem like the random hand of fate. In other words, these games are merely fantasies mirroring the present society. The trend toward mediated interaction and play, particularly in its cybernetic form, has caused some people to lose touch with reality, undermining their ability to distinguish actual life from simulated life. People become more gullible, open to all sorts of lies and deceptions. This is probably a major factor in the recent rise in religious and superstitious beliefs. When television, films and computer technologies can portray supposedly supernatural events in ways that appear real and when people’s experiences are increasingly mediated through these technologies, then such mystical paradigms are enforced in their minds as methods for interpreting the world, and the healthy skepticism that is so necessary for effective resistance to authority is obliterated. Strange events may very well happen, but any tale of such an event that reinforces mystical, religious, occult or superstitious belief is immediately suspect, because it fits in too well with the social insanity imposed by an increasingly mediated existence.
This society is becoming more insane every day. Involvement with actual people and actual environments is being suppressed along with any space—physical or psychological—in which individuals can create their own interactions. This alienation, which is imposed on everyone whether they are aware of it or not, can be viewed as a kind of schizophrenia, but this insanity is not that of individuals; it is society as a whole that is schizophrenic. And the methods by which it is imposing its insanity are bureaucratic and intellectual with the latter methods becoming increasingly dominant.
As I have already said, the imposition of alienation has never been without resistance. Recently, I read about various cafes and taverns opened with the intention of promoting face to face interaction by people who desired revolution. In the early twentieth century, hoboes created informal “hobo colleges” for the same purpose. People such as Emma Goldman or Ben Reitman might speak and the hoboes and others present would discuss the speech with passion and intellectual incisiveness. Such projects were not revolutionary in themselves, but they were a form of resistance to increasing alienation. In Chicago, when Bughouse Square, a park where anarchists, communists and others who opposed the present social order gathered, argued and discussed how to fight that social order, was closed down, several cafes and taverns were opened with the specific purpose of providing a space for the same sort of intense, passionate discussions of how to transform the world. But where are those cafes and taverns now? They were a form of resistance, but they were not revolution, and as businesses they couldn’t keep going forever since profit wasn’t their motive. They were a form of resistance to alienation that was still trapped in the logic of that most basic form of alienation, the economy, a logic that inevitably killed these projects.
Another form of resistance to alienation is described in a pamphlet entitled, “The Battle for Hyde Park: ruffians, radicals and ravers, 1855-1994” (available on line at www.oocities.com/CapitolHill/Senate/7672, or e-mail them at firstname.lastname@example.org to find out how to get a paper copy). This pamphlet documents the potential for festivity and free play in the context of social conflict. It describes four riot situations in Hyde Park in which free play was an essential element. In these situations, the potential for insurrection could be seen. The last of the events described happened in 1994 and was witnessed by those who put the pamphlet together. Unfortunately, in their attempt to give an overall historical view, the writers of the article describing this demonstration turned festive riot completely ignored the question of personal interactions and the role of affinity in this situation. Certainly these elements are essential for understanding this event. When these questions are ignored, events such as those of October 9,1994 in London remain, for us, events separated from life, events that happen purely by accident, having no relation to our projectuality as insurgent individuals, because we (and even most of those who participated) have not been able to develop an understanding of how such events connect to our lives and the affinities we develop. An analysis along these lines may be essential if events such as these are not to be carried along in the trajectory of alienation that I have been describing which would transform such riots into events like tornadoes, earthquakes, blizzards—something that happens to people, not something they create.
As long as the present social context exists, alienation will continue to expand, making our lives ever more distant from us and our interactions ever more controlled by the protocol of the commodity and of the institutions of power. So it is essential to destroy this society, to raze it to the ground. But what can such a vision mean on a practical level right now? It is essential to resist the progress of alienation with all our might, creating projects for ourselves which promote real interactions outside of the roles and relationships that social reproduction demands. This resistance must be willful, a conscious refusal of the imposition of alienated and impoverished interactions. This resistance needs to move beyond being merely defensive to become an offensive attack against the institutions and structures of alienation. This attack needs to take up every weapon available to it: detournement, subversion, sabotage, vandalism, irony, sarcasm, sacrilege…and, yes, physical arms where appropriate—carefully avoiding any specializations. Each would use the weapons she finds most appropriate in terms of his situation and singularity, but there is no use in judging those who choose weapons we did not choose. I know such a call frightens most anarchists. It calls them from the little world of their subculture, their micro-society with its own alienating roles and structures which parallel those of the larger society, into a realm of real risk where imagination must be used to create insurrectional projects based on actual affinity between singular individuals. All of the models and structures in which we’ve taken refuge must be fiercely examined and critically dismantled, and we must learn to depend on ourselves. If we do not wish to find ourselves in a world where no one really lives, where no one really knows anyone else, where everyone has become a mere cog in a machine meshing with other cogs but remaining truly alone, then we must have the strength to attack alienation in every way we can. Otherwise, we may just find there is no place left where we can meet face to face.
from CCF member and prisoner Gerasimos Tsakalos Individuality and the Anarchist Group
we’re leaving psychology with a bang. daniel suggests the following three articles on eco-extremism.
the site for the links has gone down in the days since i posted them.
The flower growing out of the underworld: An introduction to eco-extremism
The Flower Growing
Out of the Underworld:
An Introduction to Eco-extremism
Una salus victis nullam sperare salutem. (The one hope of the conquered is to not hope for salvation.)
–Virgil, The Aeneid
If death comes we will keep destroying things in hell; disgusting world, I will laugh as I see you falling, in this eternal confrontation…
–Eleventh Communiqué of the
Individualists Tending Toward the Wild, 2016
Eco-extremism is one of the newest schools of thought in our time, but more than a school of thought, it is a plan of action, an attitude of hostility, and a rejection of all that has come before it in techno-industrial society. Born out of various radical ideologies such as animal liberation, insurrectionary anarchism, anarcho-primitivism, and the neo-Luddism of Theodore Kaczynski, it has germinated and sprouted forth into something entirely other: into a love poem to violence and criminality; a radical ecological vision where hope and humanism are overcome by the barrel of a gun, the explosion of the incendiary device, and the knife stalking human prey in the darkness. All of its true adherents are currently unknown. It is not an ideology that was formed in the academy or even in alternative political spaces. Its writings can only be found (some would say ironically) on anonymous sites on the Internet. Eco-extremism was formed in the shadows, and will remain there, a clandestine threat until all eco-extremists are captured or killed… that is, until others take their place.
Shortly after I wrote my essay in Ritual Magazine, “Towards Savagery: Recent Developments in Eco-Extremist Thought in Mexico,” the main group described in that essay, Reacción Salvaje (Wild Reaction) disbanded (in August 2015), citing a new stage of their struggle and development. Many of the websites that I used for my research also went silent or announced their end. Nevertheless, eco-extremist rumblings could be heard in the south, echoed via the news stories on the Internet. Groups such as the Pagan Sect of the Mountain committed attacks in Mexico State and other parts of that country, using the same rhetoric against the “hyper-civilized,” and without concern for morality and mass technological society. One of the main journals of eco-extremism, Regresión, continued to be published out of Mexico.
By January of 2016, new eco-extremist websites and even an extensive video documentary on eco-extremism emerged online. By the end of the month, the First Communiqué of the re-founded Individualists Tending Toward the Wild (Individualistas Tendiendo a lo Salvaje, ITS) was issued on the main eco-extremist website, Maldición Eco-extremista, as well as on anti-authoritarian news outlets. Soon, it began to emerge that the continuation of ITS had spread to other countries, namely, Chile, Argentina, and later Brazil, along with allied Nihilist Terrorist groups in Italy. Eco-extremist texts have been translated into languages ranging from Spanish and English to Turkish, Czech, and Romanian. Eco-extremist actions in the last calendar year have ranged from arson, bomb threats, indiscriminate bombings, to the murder of a scientific worker at Mexico’s largest university. To our knowledge, no one has yet been arrested or investigated for these crimes.
Recent eco-extremist theory has emphasized action above historical study and theory. Much of the polemical energy earlier this year was consumed by a defense of “indiscriminate attack:” that is, bombing, shooting, arson, etc. that does not take into account innocent bystanders, but strikes at a target regardless of what collateral damage might result. Other issues of contention have been the relationship between nihilism (the idea that ITS and other eco-extremists do not believe in a future and fight in the here and now for no particular strategic goal) and egoism, primitivism, animism/paganism, and individualism. In what follows I will discuss essential terms and concepts that I hope will clarify eco-extremist language and rhetoric. It should be noted at the outset that eco-extremism does not aim for absolute clarity for the impartial observer, but rather seeks to stimulate affinity in those who are similarly at odds with technology, artificiality, and civilization.
Eco-extremism is a tendency that seeks to recover the wild. It exalts one’s ancestral warrior instincts and declares war on all that is civilized. Eco-extremism is embodied in individual eco-extremists hiding in plain sight who emerge with cold ferocity at the opportune time. The eco-extremist is an individualist in that he defies the prohibition of the collective or community, any community, to fight, injure, maim, or kill. No collective has the authority to tell him or her what to do, as they have all forfeited their (non-existent) authority with their continuous war against Wild Nature. Along with the renunciation of the collective is a renunciation of hope or any “future primitive.” Eco-extremists believe that this world is garbage, they understand progress as industrial slavery, and they fight like cornered wild animals since they know that there is no escape. They look death in the eye, and yell, “Hoka Hey!” (Today is a good day to die.)
Eco-extremism is violent resistance that mimics the reflexive reaction of Wild Nature itself against what seeks to alienate and enslave all living and inanimate things. It is against the artificiality of modern society, and all that subjugates human instinct to a “higher end.”
Let us, however, start to define our terms.
Wild Nature: Wild Nature is the primary agent in eco-extremist war. The philistines oppose the invocation of Wild Nature as atavism or superstition, but they do so merely out of their own domestication and idiocy. Wild Nature is all that grows and is manifested on the planet in animate and inanimate objects, from pebbles to oceans, from microorganisms to all of the flora and fauna that have developed on Earth. It also encompasses all of the stars, galaxies, moons, suns, meteors, etc. More specifically, Wild Nature is the acknowledgement that humanity is not the source and end of physical and spiritual reality, but merely a part of it, and perhaps not even a major part. Eco-extremism, insofar as it thinks about epistemology at all, is based on realism as governed by our animal senses and instincts. As Chahta-Ima stated in his essay, “What do we mean when we say, ‘nature’?”:
Nature exists because the human mind is weak and limited. It is mortal, it is made of flesh, and ultimately this is its limit, even if we can’t see it. It’s playing a game with the rest of existence, and it will lose. The existence of nature is the limit of thought. It is the fact that all things are not for us, our thoughts do not make things: the things are there for the taking, and would be there without our intervention. In other words, we are not gods, we are not spirits, precisely because those things don’t exist as we have come to understand them. Our thought does not and cannot comprehend everything, which is why it is so miserably unreliable.
Eco-extremism thus posits a pessimism concerning human endeavors and achievements, whether these are physical, spiritual, or moral. That is why it opposes civilization, especially in its techno-industrial manifestation. Modern civilization seeks to subjugate all to itself, and its hubris is its downfall. Eco-extremists seek to be instruments of that downfall, though they do not believe that they can bring it about themselves. More importantly, Wild Nature is found in us primarily in our instincts and in feeling the groan of the Earth in the face of the destruction caused by civilized life. This tendency seeks (albeit imperfectly) to recover beliefs based in the mountains, deserts, coasts, swamps, forests, animals, phases of the moon, and so on.
Many eco-extremists hear the call of their ancestors who resisted their subjugation. When Wild Nature speaks it does so in the language of their Teochichimeca ancestors, the Selk’nam, the Yahis, the Navajo, the Maoris, the European barbarians, the Waranis, the Taromenanes, the Seris, the Toba, and any other group that fought against the extinguishing of their ancient way of life. Wild Nature is thus within us, in the individuality that refuses the thought and morality of civilization and domestication.
Individualism: More than a philosophical current, individualism is an important tactical choice within mass society. It’s the decision to become a wolf in the midst of all of the sheep. It is the decision to look after one’s own interest and act accordingly. Individualists learn from solitude and look for self-realization because they have understood that one can no longer abide by the norms and customs that civilization has dictated to them. Individualists deny accepted morality, and they reject the values taught to them from birth. They don’t wait to take initiative, but rather join together with those of similar disposition to improve their theory and practice. Individualism is a weapon against the progressive collectivism imposed by the system. As one eco-extremist wrote:
‘I and afterwards I!’ I cry trying to finish off my domestication, breaking the bonds of useless relationships, launching headlong into a war against civilization and its slaves. Against its collectivism, its altruism and humanism. Death to the relationships founded on hypocrisy! Long life to sincere affinities! My allies who fight this already-lost war along with me know: For me it will always be me before them, and vice versa: their ‘I’ before my ‘I’. Thus we will continue since we are amoral and egoist individuals.
Individualist eco-extremists are cautious and spiritual, they love deeply and when they hate, they don’t forgive. They are indiscriminate when they act, as well as cold and calculating. They prowl about with guile just like the fox, and camouflage themselves in urban and rural landscapes. Eco-extremists use everything at hand to accomplish their goals, yet they try to bind themselves to the sacred past knowing that the time for peace is no more. They seek to offer their victims as a sacrifice to their ancestors and the Earth itself. As in many of the past wars against civilization, the driving force behind it is neither morality or justice, but vengeance.
Indiscriminate attack: The modern progressive mind objects to indiscriminate attack since it has not yet been able to shake off Western morality. For eco-extremists, acting indiscriminately is one of the primary methods of attack. To attack indiscriminately is to strike a target without regard for so-called innocent bystanders or collateral damage. While eco-extremist individualists usually take aim at targets that are significant to the techno-industrial society (government ministries, universities, transport vehicles), individualist terrorists do so with the intent of inflicting the maximum amount of damage, and this includes human casualties. As ITS expressed in its Fifth Communiqué of this year,
We consider as enemies all those who contribute to the systematic process of domestication and alienation: the scientists, the engineers, the investigators, the physicists, the executives, the humanists, and (why not?), affirming the principle of indiscriminate attack, society itself and all that it entails. Why society? Because it tends toward progress, technological and industrial. It contributes to the consolidation and advance of civilization. We can think of all who form part of society as being mere sheep who do what they are told and that’s it, but for us it’s not that simple. People obey because they want to. If they had a choice and, if it were up to them, they would love to live like those accursed millionaires, but they rot in their poverty as the perennially faithful servants of the system that enslaves us as domestic animals.
Eco-extremism carries out indiscriminate attacks as an echo of Wild Nature itself and to show that its hostility toward society is real. Tsunamis don’t suddenly stop when they reach poor neighborhoods, alligators don’t distinguish between the innocent and the guilty in their nocturnal hunts, and hurricanes don’t attack people according to race. Eco-extremism is part of that cycle of action and reaction. The time for revolutionary action has long passed, and eco-extremists aim to carry out a real war, with real casualties, and actions that are not merely symbolic but actually draw blood.
Nihilism: Nihilism is primarily a refusal of the future. As I described in my essay, “Primitivism Without Catastrophe,” human societies at all levels, but especially techno-industrial society, are exceedingly complex, made up of as many unwieldy parts as there are people. Thus, any aspiration to shepherd people into a collective course of action, whether it is humanism, socialism, liberalism, or even anarchism will not work, and will be opposed by those who seek to resist their own techno-industrial enslavement.
In the “Eco-Extremist Mafia” (as they like to call themselves) there are Nihilist Terrorists, particularly in Italy. These nihilists adhere to the position that true nihilism is active nihilism or it is not at all. It is no use to speak of one’s “nihilism” or “egoism” while one pays taxes and obeys traffic laws. Such a purely passive egoism or nihilism is perhaps more akin to Buddhism or the philosophical nihilism of the 19th century, which upholds all of the things that condemn one to be a cog in the great societal machine, but offers some sort of invisible integrity or purity (or a particular “emancipated space”) akin to “spiritual liberation.” Active Nihilist Terrorism, as practiced by the Memento Mori Nihilist Sect and others, seeks to attack what obviously enslaves the individual to society, and that attack must always be a physical attack against real targets such as machines, buildings, etc. and the humanoid automatons who build and run them. All other manifestations of nihilism or egoism are no better than Christian or Far Eastern asceticism.
The pure blow to life that flows at the margin of ‘living.’ I am the criminal nihilist who denies obsolete humanity, transcending the moral-mortal human, existence in an identifying and categorical representation in equal evaluations.
Paganism/animism: Eco-extremism is founded on pagan animism, and it attempts to rescue ancestral deities that have often been forgotten by Christian/secular society. For both deeply personal and strategic reasons, the eco-extremist seeks to revive the worship of the spirits of the Earth and to offer sacrifices to them. The strategic component is to renounce and oppose the philosophy of secular scientism upheld by some anarchists who cry, “No gods, no masters!” Eco-extremists acknowledge the need for spiritual authorities, even if these are poorly understood or mostly forgotten, as they still ultimately determine the course of life and death. No warrior can make war on his own: there are always greater forces at work, ones that even techno-industrial civilization cannot dominate. In the eco-extremist war, in spite of tactical individualism, a spiritual component is needed to carry out an attack against this putrid society and get away with it. It also reminds the eco-extremist that ultimately whether he or she lives or dies is not up to them, but up to forces that have been and will be, even after we are gone. As Halputta Hadjo stated in his monograph, “The Calusa: A Savage Kingdom?,”
[The eco-extremist] can lash out or he can surrender, but whatever he does, he does within the blindness and impotence of his own carnal nature. That is no reason to give up, and it is no reason to despair. It is every reason, however, to revere those forces that created things this way, and these are the ‘spirits’ or the ‘gods’ of a specific environment, whatever you want to call them. The attitude of eco-extremists is undying hostility toward technological civilization in the name of the spirits that are his lost patrimony.
Like the savage warrior of the past, the eco-extremist is reminded that, while the scalp and blood of the enemy might be his in the short term, in the long term, his fate is to decay like all flesh, with his spirit rejoining the wind and the dust. The eco-extremist does not run from his “spooks,” his “dark side,” or his ignorance, but embraces them to give him courage against the enemy. These are his gods, his own guardian spirits that are emissaries from Wild Nature. He does not require the mathematical rationality of the domesticated to act, but acts out of instinct with understanding to strike at his foe. His one solace is that he too is Wild Nature, that its lament is his lament, that its ultimate victory will be his own, even if he will not live to see it with his physical eyes. In the end, all lofty sentiments and ideas are a mere heartbeat away from being extinguished, which should give the eco-extremist a sense of urgency in the fight against domestication and artificiality.
War with an expiration date, war without end
Eco-extremism is the tragic sense of life embodied in our epoch. It is a product of the contradictions of our time, of the haziness of anthropological scholarship, of the renunciation of political action, and of the contemporary ideological impasse. This tendency knows that this impasse will not be solved by better philosophies or moral codes, but only in the destruction of all that exists, including the “hyper-civilized” (i.e. all of us). Techno-industrial society is a problem that should have never existed in the first place, and all of the defects and contradictions of eco-extremism as an ideology are the result of society’s contradictions reflected as in a distorted mirror. There is no solution. The only appropriate response is fire and bullets.
This attitude puts the eco-extremist at odds not only with the authorities of techno-industrial society, but also with other so-called radical groups. There are no “call outs” or expressions of solidarity in eco-extremism. There is no attempt by eco-extremism to morally or philosophically justify itself. Innocence or guilt never enter into the eco-extremist calculus. Indeed, this tendency eagerly absorbs the so-called worst aspects of modern society, including common criminality, without any lawyerly effort to justify itself through the logic of civilized justice. The recent introduction to the essay, “The Calusa: A Savage Kingdom?” highlights the societal actors and groups that eco-extremism seeks to imitate in our time:
‘The Calusa: A Savage Kingdom?’ teaches a valuable lesson; namely, that much can be learned from both the small nomadic groups and the great pre-Columbian civilizations. Here there is no danger of falling into a theoretical ‘contradiction,’ as eco-extremists can reference the Selk’nam as well as the Mayas. They can refer to the experiences of petty criminals as well as those of the large mafias; the Guatemalan gangs as well as the rigid organization of the Islamic State. That is to say, eco-extremists are free to refer to whatever they like, without any hint of morality, with the only condition that it gives a particular useful lesson concerning the planning and execution of their war.
Theoretical eclecticism is only countered in the eco-extremist with single-mindedness in violent attack. The eco-extremist has cast off his or her affinity with the hyper-civilized and sees virtually everyone as an enemy. These individualists have come to value attack more than their very lives, as countless other warriors and savages have done before them. They don’t ask for help from those whom they have come to see as at best useless, and at worst the hated adversary worthy of death. The eco-extremists are already on the radar of the authorities of the countries where they operate, and beyond. They are under no illusion that they will be able to evade them indefinitely.
Wild Nature corrodes civilization little by little with entropy as water diminishes a stone. Along with climate change, earthquakes, and other natural disasters, new individualists resisting their domestication will take the eco-extremists’ place, perhaps mindful of those who have come before them. We are now entering an age of extremes, an age of uncertainty, where leftist illusions and conservative platitudes can no longer prepare us for our future course. The individualist will continue to be an invisible menace, immune from the moral coercion of the herd, and working in the complete privacy of his or her own thoughts and desires. The masses may rage and the authorities lament, but there will always be pockets of destructive refusal, emerging like sparks in the dark only to go out again, until this society is ground into powder, and the spirits of all warriors go off once more to hunt in the land of the ancestors. Axkan kema, tehuatl, nehuatl! (Until your death or mine!)
Indiscriminate Attacks? What the fuck’s wrong with you?
How I dream sometimes of a world all in harmony: each tendency based in its own initiative, without clashing with another; without humiliating themselves, in order to be stronger tomorrow, when we should all run toward the great battle of the revolution! But all of that is only a dream.
Letter of Severino Di Giovanni to
Hugo Treni, May 15th, 1930
In our time, the essence of particular things often changes. The real is modified and transformed into a pantomime that matches the supposed march of progress. Modernity has altered many things, from the environment to human behavior, and even political ideologies. This age demands from citizens (dissident or not) that they vehemently oppose inhumane violence of any sort. The moral values defended by civilization as a whole have brainwashed everyone. This brainwashing drives us toward individual amnesia and collective ignorance.
Many political ideologies have been distorted in modern times, and little by little have evolved from being original and almost defensible to trite and abhorrent. This applies particularly to anarchist ideology, which over time has changed and transformed into something that it wasn’t originally.
For some time now, many anarchists have rejected the concept and practice of indiscriminate attack as defended by the eco-extremists. For modern anarchists, to speak of an act that seeks to strike a target without worrying about innocent bystanders is a sin against liberated humanity and a self-managed future, an irresponsible act that is incompatible with revolutionary morality. It’s true that in an indiscriminate attack morality doesn’t enter the equation, nor does revolution or anything of the sort. The only important thing is to strike at the target.
Still, it confuses us how modern anarchists are scandalized by this practice, since these sorts of acts were what constituted anarchist praxis in the past and, a couple of centuries ago, made anarchists TRUE enemies of the government, the clergy, the bourgeoisie, and the army. To demonstrate this and develop this theme, we have rescued from various historical sources the following actions of actual anarchists. In this effort, we hope to dig them up from individual amnesia and collective propaganda spread by this modern progressive society. Like nuns recoiling before anarchic demons spreading terror and violence in their time, modern anarchists (even so-called nihilists), will tar all of this as some sort of Black Legend.
January 14, 1858: The anarchist Felice Orsini and his comrade attack Napoleon III, utilizing three Orsini bombs. Christened in honor of their infamous creator, they were balls of hard metal full of dynamite, with the outside containing small compartments filled with mercury fulminate. The explosive is triggered when the bomb hits a hard surface. In the case of the attack on Napoleon III, the first bomb was thrown and landed on the carriage’s chofer, the second on the animals that accompanied him, and the third on the window of the carriage. In this attack, eight people died and 142 were injured.
February 17, 1880: The nihilist Stepan Khalturin, a member of the Russian secret society, Narodnaya Volya, detonated a bomb in the Winter Palace in Russia: eight soldiers died and 45 bystanders were wounded.
July 5, 1880: A powerful explosive was detonated in a warehouse of the Ramba de Santa Monica, Spain. A young worker at the scene was blown apart when the explosive was indiscriminately left there.
May 4, 1886: A meeting of anarchist organizations in Chicago against the repression of striking workers outside of the McCormick plant on May 1 was violently dispersed by police. In the melee, a homemade bomb was thrown at the police, killing one of them and wounding another. This attack was followed by a street battle where dozens were arrested, after which five protesters were condemned to death. The police raided the houses of those detained and found munitions, explosives, firearms, and hidden anarchist propaganda. Those condemned to death were thereafter known as the Chicago Martyrs.
The traditional anarchist movement has canonized the Chicago anarchists as if they were “peaceful doves,” even though they were a real threat in their time, veritable atentatores.
January 18, 1889: In Spain, a 70 year-old employee was killed when a bomb was placed on the staircase of the building where his boss lived.
February 8, 1892: In the so-called, Jerez de la Frontera Rebellion in Spain, more than 500 peasants, agitated by anarchists, attempted to take the city, resulting in the death of two residents and one peasant. The police undertook a campaign of repression against the anarchist movement of the time, arresting and later executing the anarchists who planned and carried out the rebellion. The next day, on February 9, on the eve of the executions, a bomb exploded in the Plaza Real in Barcelona. The bomb was abandoned in one of the flower pots in the garden near the place where the secret police usually gathered. Even though some historians say that the intended target was the police, the blast reached many innocent bystanders, including a junkman who was killed and a servant and her boyfriend whose legs were amputated.
Anarchist vengeance for the execution of their comrades was fierce. The Italian anarchist, Paolo Schicchi, edited many newspapers exalting the violence, including Pensiero e Dinamite, in which he wrote after the attack:
In order for the social revolution to triumph completely we have to destroy that race of thieves and murderers known as the bourgeoisie. Women, the elderly, children, all should be drowned in blood.
Some anarchists were disturbed by the attack and rejected it vehemently, saying:
We cannot believe that an anarchist detonated the bomb in the Plaza Real… [This was an act] characteristic of savages. We cannot attribute it to anyone but the enemies of the working class. That is what we stated in May. We have repeated it in public meetings and in all places, and we repeat it again here. Detonating bombs is cowardice. One can glory in heroism when one risks one’s life in a face-to-face confrontation for a generous idea. One can explain and even offer praise if one approves of what happened at Jerez. But one cannot diminish the severity of the evil of what one prepares in the shadows that is intended to inflict injury on someone you don’t know. (i.e. indiscriminate attack)
March 11, 1892: Ravachol places a bomb in the house of Judge Bulot (an anti-anarchist) in France.
March 27, 1892: Ravachol detonates a bomb in the house of Prosecutor Benot. Even if these attacks did not result in any fatalities, they were still characteristic of an age of blood and dynamite which would strike out at bitter enemies (as well as anyone in the path) of the anarchists.
March 30, 1892: Ravachol is arrested in Lhérot Restaurant for the attack on the Véry Restaurant. The next day, during the trial, anonymous terrorists detonate a bomb in Lhérot Restaurant leaving many wounded. It should be mentioned that Ravachol was considered a “common criminal” by the anarchists of his time, as his attacks were considered to be out of bounds of anarchist morality.
November 7, 1893: Santiago Salvador, a Spanish anarchist, threw an Orsini bomb into the audience of an opera at the Liceo Theater in Barcelona, Spain. Blood, corpses, and debris flew everywhere, resulting in 22 dead and 35 wounded.
December 9, 1893: Ravachol’s execution by guillotine drives many anarchists to adopt “propaganda of the deed” in revenge. The anarchist Auguste Vaillant threw a powerful bomb at the French Chamber of Deputies, wounding 50 people.
February 12, 1894: The individualist anarchist Émile Henry threw a bomb into the Café Terminus in Paris as revenge for the execution of Vaillant. One person was killed and 20 bourgeoisie were injured.
June 7, 1896: An attack took place in the middle of the Corpus Christi procession in Barcelona, Spain. An anonymous terrorist threw an Orsini bomb which was originally directed at the authorities present, but instead landed in a group of bystanders watching the return of the procession in the street. The bomb exploded, leaving 12 dead and 70 wounded. The bombing caused great indignation, leading the anarchists to claim that they weren’t responsible. The authorities blamed them anyway and made 400 arrests. Out of these only five were executed. This event has led to a decades-long controversy, with some arguing that the constant attacks in Spain by anarchists drove the authorities themselves to detonate the bomb so they could blame it on the anarchists, thus halting their activities. Others argue that the bomber was a French anarchist named Girault who fled after the massacre. Regardless, the Corpus Christi attack is either considered a historical lesson or a classic example of indiscriminate attack.
May 31, 1906: In Madrid, the anarchist Mateo Morral threw a bouquet of flowers toward the carriage of King Alfoso XIII and his wife Victoria Eugenia. Hidden in the bouquet was an Orsini bomb that hit the trolley car cable and was deflected onto the crowd where it exploded leaving 25 dead (15 of them soldiers) and 100 wounded. The king and queen were unhurt in the blast.
June 4, 1914: An anarchist hideout and warehouse for explosives was destroyed in a large explosion on Lexington Avenue in New York City. Four anarchists and one bystander were blown to pieces in the explosion, with 20 bystanders lying wounded in the street. The police blamed the anarchists members of the IWW and of the Anarchist Red Cross for the blast.
July 22, 1916: A powerful explosion occurred during the Preparedness Day Parade in San Francisco, CA. The bomb was hidden in a suitcase, activated by a timer, and filled with dynamite and shrapnel. Ten died and 40 were wounded in this attack. The police suspected the syndicalists or anarchist leaders from the Galleanist group. This latter group was given that name by the press after its leader Luigi Galleani, an Italian individualist anarchist living in the US whose intention was to unleash chaos and terrorism in the country. He was the editor of the fierce Cronica Soversiva. An example of what Galleani wrote in the paper follows:“The storm has come, and soon it will blast you away; it will blow you up and annihilate you in blood and fire… We will dynamite you!”
He wasn’t joking.
The anarchist Gustavo Rodriguez in his 2011 talk in Mexico entitled, “Anarchist Illegalism: Redundancy Matters!” indicates the following, regarding a couple of the attacks carried out by the Galleanists:
We can tell many anecdotes about this group—we can spend all day talking about them. But there are particular ones that at least merit brief mention here, such as the November 24, 1917 attack on the Police Garrison in Milwaukee, where a powerful time bomb exploded that contained many kilos of blasting powder. The device had been constructed by Mario Buda who was the group’s expert in explosives. He utilized his expertise to help Luigi Galleani come up with an explosives manual that circulated among insurrectionary anarchists and was translated into English by Emma Goldman. And while the plan was found to be ingenious—since these garrisons were well-fortified due to the tremendous amount of anarchist activity at the time—the problem was to get the bomb past the security of the well-protected police station.They did this by placing the bomb first at the base of a church and then passing the information to someone who they suspected of being a police informant. The bomb squad showed up almost immediately and moved the bomb from the church to the police station, thinking that its detonator had failed. Minutes after confirming that the device was now in the garrison, they detonated it, killing nine policemen and one civilian. And with this act, they killed two birds with one stone, since they not only hit their target but also were able to confirm the identity of the snitch.
Another attack that should be mentioned was carried out by Nestor Dondoglio in Chicago in 1916. Dondoglio was a cook of Italian origin who was known as Jean Crones. When he found out that a large banquet was to be held in honor of the Catholic Archbishop of the city, Mundelein, with a large number of Catholic clergy in attendance, Dondoglio volunteered his services and stated that he would provide exquisite dishes for the occasion. He poisoned around 200 attendees by putting arsenic in their soup. None of the victims died since, in his enthusiasm to kill them all, he added so much poison that his victims vomited it out. The only death by poisoning occurred two days afterward when a Father O’Hara died, who was the parish priest of St. Matthew’s Church in Brooklyn, New York City, and previously the chaplain at the gallows of the Raymond St. Prison. Dondoglio then moved to the East Coast where he was hidden by one of his comrades until he died in 1932.
February 27, 1919: Four Galleanists died when one of their bombs prematurely went off in a textile factory in Franklin, Massachusetts.
April 29, 1919: Galleanist anarchists send 30 package bombs to notable figures in authority throughout the US. One of the packages maimed a servant of Senator Thomas W. Hardwich of Georgia, who lost both hands, as well as the servant’s wife who was severely burned upon opening the package that had been left in front of the house.
June 2, 1919: The Galleanist Carlo Valdinoci died trying to place a bomb in the house of the lawyer Mitchell Palmer. Two bystanders also died in the explosion. The lawyer’s house as well as surrounding houses were heavily damaged by the blast. A note was found on the scattered remains of the anarchist and the debris which read: “There will be a bloodbath; we will not retreat; someone will have to die; we will kill because it is necessary; there will be much destruction.”
June 3, 1919: A night watchman died detonating a bomb abandoned by the Galleanists in a New York courthouse.
September 16, 1920: Mario Buda detonated the first car bomb (or rather a carriage bomb) in history. In a carriage parked in front of Wall Street he left a deadly bomb consisting of 45 kilos of dynamite that detonated by timer. The bomb destroyed the carriage, killing the horses, employees, messengers, bystanders, and everyone else in the vicinity of the blast. The bomb also destroyed the offices of Morgan Bank. Thirty eight people died and 400 were injured in the formidable indiscriminate attack.
March 23, 1921: A group of individualist anarchists threw a bomb inside the Diana Theater in Milan, Italy, with the intention of killing Commissioner Gasti and King Victor Emmanuel. The terrorist bomb left 20 dead and 100 wounded, most of them ordinary citizens.
November 29, 1922: The individualist anarchists Renzo Novatore and Sante Pollastro were ambushed by three policeman near Genoa in Italy. In the melee. Novatore was killed by a bullet in the forehead while Pollastro fought ferociously, shooting two policeman, disarming the last one and letting him go free.
May 16, 1926: A bomb made out of two hollowed-out cannon balls filled with blasting powder exploded in front of the US Embassy in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The blast left a man-sized hole in the embassy wall that shocked authorities. The blast also destroyed the windows of surrounding houses and businesses. Although no one was injured, this act was one of many carried out by Severino Di Giovanni and his crew. These attacks evolved into ever more deadly terrorist attacks.
July 22, 1927: A powerful bomb exploded at night in the Palermo neighborhood of Buenos Aires. The target was a monument to Washington, but, even though it was a powerful explosion, damage to the monument was minimal. At the same time, another bomb exploded in the Ford Agency that destroyed the model car and all of the windows within a four block radius.
December 24, 1927: A powerful bomb exploded in broad daylight, destroying a branch of the National City Bank in the center of Buenos Aires, Argentina. The bomb was detonated by acids but exploded prematurely, killing two bank employees and leaving 23 others wounded. The same day, another bomb in a suitcase was found in the Bank of Boston; it did not explode but it caused great terror in the populace and authorities.
Osvaldo Bayer in his book, Severino Di Giovanni: Ideologue of Violence, described the bomb in the following passage:
The explosive device was the same as the one at National City Bank (which had been placed in a suitcase). This was an iron device about a meter and a half long with covers at each end sealed in cement. The inside was filled with gelignite, dynamite, and pieces of iron. On top of this was a glass tube divided in two containing in each part different acids (potassium chloride and sulfuric acid). The divider was made of cork or cardboard through which both liquids could seep. When they came into contact, they produced an explosion [more precisely, they produce a flame that ignites a charge that goes directly to the explosive]. While the suitcase was upright, the liquids stayed separated, but when it was laid on its side, the filtration process began and it was then a question of seconds.
The explosive attacks on those days were against the economic interests of the US in the Argentine capital (the US Embassy, the monument to Washington, the American Ford dealership, and the Yankee banks described above). This was in support of an international campaign for the two jailed anarchists in the US, Sacco and Vanzetti, who were accused of belonging to a group of terrorist-anarchists and of committing robberies and expropriations.
G. Rodriguez in the talk cited above describes the following concerning the relation between the two anarchists condemned to death and the terrorist illegalism of that time:
The overwhelming actions of the [Galleanist] anarchists would lead to their becoming the most persecuted anarchist group pursued by the federal authorities of the United States. On the other hand, the ‘official’ history, even in its ‘radical’ version in anarchist circles, would condemn their memory to forgetfulness while silencing their actions and ‘disappearing’ their texts and other theoretical engagements. The only exception was that of Sacco and Vanzetti whose story ‘legalist anarchists’ altered in order to canonize them as ‘martyrs’ of the movement. The same was done with the so-called ‘Martyrs of Chicago.’ Once again, we see the same tricks to cover-up the real history. The legal argument of the defense used to try to prove their ‘innocence’ became the ‘official story’ of what actually happened. With the exception of the anarchist historian Paul Avirich, who devoted himself to developing a better picture of anarchist activity of the time and the work of Bonnano on this topic, the rest of the literature published about the Sacco and Vanzetti case firmly denied their participation in the expropriation for which they were condemned. These expropriations were carried out at regular intervals by the [Galleanist] group in which they were active. The funds that they acquired from these expropriations were used to fund the printing of anarchist literature as well as to fund attacks, calls for reprisals, and in order to support imprisoned comrades and the unemployed or in some cases their families.
After this attack, there emerged the first divisions between anarchists who sympathized with terrorist violence and those who defended “Franciscan violence” [as Di Giovanni called it (after the Catholic religious order founded by St. Francis of Assisi—translator’s note)]. This dispute was closely followed by anarchists of the time, especially by the editors of the anarchist newspaper, La Protesta. Bayer writes the following on this event in his aforementioned book:
La Protesta referred to the classic example of ‘clean’ attacks like the one carried out by Wilckens (a German anarchist who assassinated Colonel Varela on January 17, 1923) and Radowitzky (a Ukrainian anarchist who assassinated Colonel Falcon on November 14, 1909). But those examples proved faulty upon closer examination. Those attacks were ‘clean’ and ‘pure’ because they went off without a hitch. What would have happened if Wilckens’ bomb had gone off on the street car and killed three workers and the agent selling the tickets? Or if the bullets from the gun wounded a woman in the eye who was just walking her kids to school, or worse, went through the back of the head of a girl out buying bread? In the case of Radowitsky, what if the bomb, instead of falling in Colonel Falcon’s carriage, fell on the sidewalk killing the driver and two old ladies walking to church? And what if Di Giovanni’s bomb had exploded on the desk of Consul Capanni, killing the butcher of Florence and Mussolini’s ambassador, and that’s it? Was the violence the difference?
La Protesta established that Wilckens and Radowitzsky had taken their lives in their own hands. Did not Di Giovanni and Ramé do the same in building the bomb, entering the den of fascism, and trying to place it at the target? At any moment, it could have exploded and blown them to bits. There was some truth to that, yes, but not the whole truth. La Protesta’s reasoning was not entirely fair. Violence itself was the problem. Once one chooses that option, it is not possible to know for sure whether the actions will be clean or dirty. There are certainly differences. It is not the same to kill an executioner in his den than it is to indiscriminately throw a bomb in the marketplace or a cafe or in a train station full of people. But was the fascist consulate an innocent place? The victims of fascism didn’t go there. An attack on the consulate was clearer than the ones against banks in which, even if you factored in the hours when they would be empty, there was still more probability that innocent people might get killed, which did occur on occasion. The discussion was thus not whether the attack on the consulate in itself constituted an act of cowardice.
On this topic of debate among anarchists, Rodriguez wrote:
There was a polemic between those who, calling themselves anarchists, justified expropriation and the propaganda of the deed and included them in a large list of valid direct actions—the ones who believed that the ends justified the means—and those who, also considering themselves anarchists, condemned these former people as “amoral” and violent. The former which we are discussing here was labeled ‘illegalist anarchism.’ We are trying here to distinguish between these two tendencies’ approaches to direct action and how they conceived of themselves according to their own worldview.
May 7, 1928: An infernal explosion shook the Italian Consulate in Buenos Aires. A man left a suitcase that contained a bomb on the stairs of the entrance. The attack left nine dead and 34 wounded. Seven of the dead were fascists, but the majority were bystanders, including four women and a girl. An hour afterward, a suitcase bomb was found abandoned in the pharmacy of fascist Almirante Brown. A child found the suitcase and without intending to deactivated the explosive by emptying one of the acids and generating a small flare. The frightened child screamed and ran out to warn everyone around. They too saw the bomb and ran away as well. The newspaper La Nación told the story in this manner:
The top of the small tube was firmly sealed and, in opening it, its liquid contents spilled out near the suitcase but not on the suitcase itself. Thus, there was no contact with the contents inside. This was the reason that the bomb failed to go off, which would not have happened if the tube had come into contact with the explosive packet inside the suitcase. Instead, the acid fell on one of the corners of the suitcase, producing a flare. In the suitcase were 50 bars of gelinite, 32 five-inch nails, an iron bolt, two iron screws, and cotton. The bomb’s charge was formidable, of the same potency as the one at the consulate.
After these attacks, it was clear that the intention of the terrorist-anarchists (Severino and company) was to attack their target, in this case the consulate and the pharmacy of a fascist, without worrying about wounding innocent people. The attack was condemned by the majority of anarchists of the time, who called it a “work of fascism,” denying that it was even the work of anarchists. With this, a schism emerged in anarchist circles as Di Giovanni would defend to his death the acts in which he was involved. The cowards of La Protesta positioned themselves in this matter:
Anarchism is not terrorism. How is this the work of a conscious man, of a revolutionary, this act of cowardice that hurt innocent victims, which was not in line with the political motive that they set out to follow? It is moral cowardice that inspires these types of vengeance. It is these actions that lead us to put salt in the wound of the provocative terrorism that has made its appearance in the capital of the republic.
La Protesta’s declarations even appeased the police, who started a manhunt for Di Giovanni and his crew. This is evident in the interview after the attack of Subcommissioner Garibotto (Head of the Social Order) by the socialist newspaper, La Vanguardia, on May 26 of that year:
This attack was a scary thing, no? When I saw those arms and legs all over the place and those groans of agony, I went weak in the knees. This was so brutal that even the anarchists are indignant. We are very happy with La Protesta’s editorial. Have you seen it? It’s very good. And other anarchists have come to cooperate with us out of indignation for the act. They have promised to tell us everything they know. And it makes sense, since there’s much freedom here and if these things keep happening it can stir up a negative reaction by the government.
Severino responded to such infamy from the anarchist newspaper, La Diana of Paris, under a pseudonym:
It’s odd that the entire ‘revolutionary’ press attributes the attacks to fascism, while the anarchist (?) newspapers disapprove of them, repudiate them, deny and condemn. The docile friars of unionist anarchism denounce the ‘horrible tragedy’ as more characteristic of fascists and not of anarchists. They take their inspiration from from a sheepish Christianity and they gesticulate like Jesus Crucified when in reality they are so many Peters of Galilee (‘Truly I say unto you that before the cock crows thrice, Peter will deny me.’) And they betray thus. I have seen denial and condemnation on the lips of many terrified cowards. They spew sophistries like so many canons and vile Jesuits. Some of those killed in the attack: Virgilio Frangioni, fascist, and Fr. Zaninetti, director of the ‘Italia Gens,’ a den of spies; that’s enough to open up the tear ducts of crocodiles of all sorts. The anarcho-syndicalist newspapers fight among themselves to see who can be the most ignoble and vile. Thus, for example, we find the Committee for Political Prisoners, the anarcho-syndicalist La Protesta and the anarchist La Antorcha (which is always praising dynamite) have shed cowardly and vile tears. And they have even received praise from the police and the whole conservative press for their magnificent work of eunuchs. La Nación, La Razón and La Prensa have branded the current situation saying: ‘The latest attack against the Consulate has also been repudiated by the distinct tendencies of anarchism.’ Of course here they refer to the vile ones.
Finally he writes a quote from the terrible Galleani:
It is an act of supreme cowardice to repudiate an act of rebelling for which we have ourselves given the first seed.
Another text was written by Severino under a different pseudonym making clear his indiscriminate non-humanist attitude:
… the attack on the den of Avenida Quintana (The Italian Consulate) and against the eternal fathers of fascism who in the land of exile also try to found their death squads. In Argentina alone are dispersed thirty-six fascist sections. Are they innocent? In Milan as well, in the Diana Theater and in Giulio Cesare Plaza, those killed were also innocent. Innocent people who applaud the king and shore up his throne with their passivity. Those who took a day off from work to applaud the fascist aviator De Pinedo who, in the name of Il Duce and the ‘greatest fates of the Italian Throne,’ mixes fascism with the ephemeral glory of his hydroplane.
That is the rotten and moth-eaten structure on which anti-fascism, in the name of all the conveniences, launches arrows and strikes against the iconoclast who, without permission and consensus, acts, breaks, and strikes.
For anarchism—for us—there is no other way other than that which we have taken with all of our fortunes, with all of the glory, heroism, and audacity. The path of the most unprejudiced [indiscriminate] action crushes with its powerful might the right to kill reserved to fascism. For ten years we have been the only ones who have had the audacity to attack this right of theirs. From today forward, we will expand this audacity one-hundredfold….
May 26, 1928: Some weeks after the attack on the Italian Consulate, the Di Giovanni group placed a bomb that destroyed the entrance to the house of Colonel Cesar Afeltra in Argentina. The fascist officer was at home and was guarded by police. The police had left to go to a nearby bar when a terrorist took advantage of their absence to leave the bomb. Windows in a three-block radius were blown out from the blast (harming defenseless citizens). According to the press, the power of the bomb was such that it undermined the stability of the building.
May 31, 1928: The hiding place of the anarchist-terrorists was discovered by a boy who was chasing his escaped rabbit from her pen next door. The boy opened one of the doors to the small house on Lomas de Mirador and a small explosion scared him. The boy grabbed his rabbit and ran out to tell his relatives. When the police arrived, they were met with another small explosion upon opening the door. This was a storage place for the anarcho-terrorist bombs which had been rigged to explode if the police found it, and only the terrorists knew how to enter without triggering the bombs. By this they hoped to leave no evidence of the bombs and kill the police in the process. The humidity of the place, however, dampened the explosives and caused them to only let forth a small explosion instead of the intended deadly one. This turned out to be the storehouse of Severino and his crew. It should be pointed out that after this occurred, the Italian anarchist individualist Francesco Barbieri, who was the designated bomb-maker for the crew, decided to flee Argentina. He was an innocent-looking man and tremendously audacious in slipping past police. Barbieri was one of the most important anarchist dinamiteros in the country, as he had been in Spain, Geneva, Brazil, Italy, France, and other places.
June 10, 1928: A powerful explosion occurred in the house of Michele Brecero, a prominent fascist living in downtown Buenos Aires.
June 11, 1928: An explosion destroyed the house of Cavaliere R. De Micjelis, Italian Consul in Argentina.
November 10, 1928: A briefcase was found by a curious Bank of Boston employee near the Cathedral in Buenos Aires. The briefcase exploded immediately, killing the employee and leaving a police officer gravely wounded. Many windows of nearby businesses were also blown out. The press all pointed to Di Giovanni as the one responsible for the indiscriminate attack. The Catholic newspaper, El Pueblo, called Di Giovanni, “the evilest man who ever stepped foot on Argentine soil.”
November 14, 1928: An explosion characteristic of Di Giovanni’s crew occurred in the Palace of Justice of Rosario, Argentina. Other explosions shortly followed at the Bank of the Nation, at the Courthouse, and at the Santa Fe Railroad Bridge. The acts were added to the death of the bank employee from four days past.
April 25, 1929: An ex-collaborator of the newspaper Culmine, named Giulio Montagna, was shot to death by anarchist terrorists for revealing the location of Severino Di Giovanni to police.
October 22, 1929: The hated Subcommissioner Juan Velar was attacked by two men who snuck up on him and shot him in the face. Velar lost an ear, his teeth were blown out, and he lost a large portion of his nose, but he was not killed. Velar said that Paulino Scarfó and Severino were responsible.
October 25, 1929: A group of anarchist terrorists shot the Spanish anarchist Emilio López Arango three times in the chest. López Arango was responsible for La Protesta that had defamed the bandit anarchists; Arango had waged a campaign of slander against Severino’s attacks, slamming him as a “fascist agent” and defaming him before the mass anarchist workers’ movement of the time. Thus, he obtained his merited execution.
Among the many poisonous paragraphs from La Protesta was this one dated May 25th, 1928:
We have already exposed the criteria by which we anarchists judge that anonymous irresponsible terrorism: it is odious, as its victims are random and it can never carry with it a heightened spirit and clear revolutionary consciousness.
It is fascinating how those very same words are repeated in the mouths of those modern anarchists who condemn the indiscriminate attacks of the eco-extremists…
Before López Arango’s execution, he had received many warnings from comrades (which he ignored) such as the one that the Uruguayan anarchist-bandit Miguel Arcángel Rosigna had told him: “Please stop this campaign, since Severino is capable of anything.”
After the murder, a group of Arango’s anarchist friends searched for Di Giovanni among the bakery workers without finding him. This was the most radical sector of anarchist workers. The bakers didn’t say anything, and at the same time the police warned Arango’s close friend, the Spanish anarchist Diego Abad de Santillán that, “Very well, under our responsibility go ahead and arm yourself because Di Giovanni’s crew is going to kill you.”
February 12, 1930: The anarchist terrorist and member of Di Giovanni’s crew, Giuseppe Romano (Ramé), who had been arrested and sentenced to eight years in prison, was freed from the hospital to which he had been transported as a sick patient. He was sprung free by five armed bandits.
January 12, 1930: A bomb was detonated at the Italian Consulate in Córdoba, Argentina, leaving one agent wounded and causing much damage.
January 20 1931: Three powerful explosions occurred in three subway stations in Buenos Aires. The attacks left four dead and 20 injured, as well as leaving serious material damage.
February 1, 1931: Severino Di Giovanni was executed by firing squad. He killed one policeman and wounded another severely when over a dozen police went out to capture him. In the melee, one small girl was killed.
Di Giovanni died looking his killers squarely in the eyes and shouting like a wild animal with his last breath: ¡Evviva l’anarchia!
One of the witnesses, Roberto Arlt, described Severino’s execution.
Five fifty-seven. Eager faces behind bars. Five fifty-eight. The lock clinks and the iron door is opened. Men run forward as if they were running to catch the trolley. Shadows making great leaps through illuminated hallways. The sound of rifle butts. More shadows gallop.
We’re all looking for Severino Di Giovanni so that we can see him die.
The space of the blue sky. Old cobblestone. A green meadow. A comfortable dining room chair in the middle of the meadow. Troops. Mausers. Lamps whose light punishes darkness. A rectangle. It’s like a ring. A ring of death. An official: ‘according to the dispositions… for the violation of statute… law number…’
An official lowers the glazed screen. In front of him is a head. A face that appears covered with red oil. There are eyes that are terrible and fixed, varnished with fever. A black circle of heads. It is Severino Di Giovanni. A prominent jaw. A forehead fleeing toward the temples just like a panther’s. Thin and extraordinarily red lips. Red forehead. Red cheeks. Chest covered by the blue flaps of the shirt. The lips look like polished wounds. They open slowly and the tongue, redder than a pimento, licks the lips, wetting them.
The body burns up with temperature. It savors death.
The official reads: ‘article number… State law of the site… The Supreme Court… seen.. To be passed to a superior tribunal… of war, the regiment, and sub-officials…’
Di Giovanni looks at the face of the official. He projects on his face the tremendous force of his gaze and a will that maintains calm.
‘Being proven to be necessary to the lieutenant… Rizzo Patrón, vocals… the lieutenants and colonels… give a copy… sheet number…’
Di Giovanni wets his lips with his tongue. He listens with attention, he seems to analyze the clauses of the contract whose stipulations are the most important. He moves his head in assent, faced with the terms with which the sentence has been formulated.
‘The Minister of War to be notified… may he be shot… signed, the secretary…’
I would like to ask forgiveness from the lieutenant defender…
One voice: No talking.
Take him away.
The condemned duck walks. His enchained feet with a metal bar on the wrists that tie his hands. He passes the edge of the old cobblestones. Some spectators laugh. From stupidity? From nervousness? Who knows?
The convict sits resting on the bench. He supports his back and turns out his chest. He looks up. Then he bends over, and looks at his abandoned hands between his open knees. A man cares for the fire while water warms up for their yerba mate.
He stays that way for four seconds. The subordinate officer crosses his chest with a rope, so that when they shoot him, he won’t fall on the ground. Di Giovanni turns his head to the left and lets himself be tied.
The target is ready for the firing squad. The subordinate official wants to blindfold the condemned. The condemned shouts:
He looks firmly at his executioners. He emanates will. If he suffers or not, it’s in secret. He remains that way, still, proud. A difficulty emerges. A fear about ricocheting bullets leads to the regiment, perpendicular to the firing squad, to be ordered a few steps back. Di Giovanni remains erect, being supported by the chair. Above his head is the edge of a gray wall, the soldiers’ legs move. He sticks out his chest. Is it to receive the bullets?
The voice of the condemned bursts metallic, vibrant:
‘Long live anarchy!’
A sudden brilliance. The hard body has turned into a folded sheet of paper. The bullets shoot through the rope. The body falls head first and lands on the green grass with the hands touching the knees.
The burst of the coup de grace.
The bullets wrote the last word on the body of the condemned. The face remains calm. Pale. The eyes half open. The blacksmith hammers at the feet of the corpse. He takes off the handcuffs and the iron bar. A doctor observes. He confirms the death of the condemned. A man wearing a frock and dance shoes retires with his hat on his head.
It looks like he just came out of a cabaret. Another says a bad word.
I see four boys, pale and disfigured like the dead, biting their lips. They are Gauna from La Razón, Álvarez, from Última Hora, Enrique González Tuñón, from Crítica, and Gómez, from El Mundo. I am like a drunk. I think of those who laugh. I think that at the entrance of the Penitentiary there should be a sign saying:
Forbidden to enter with dancing shoes.
In summary, it should be mentioned that the events described above are the ones that we consider the most important at the time when they happened. As one can read above, we have not only described indiscriminate attacks of anarchist-terrorists, but also their abilities to commit formidable crimes, such as storing bombs, using firearms, committing murder, raiding, being complicit, falsifying documents, counterfeiting money, agitating, theiving, bombing, jailbreaking, and other important crimes. It is well known by those who know this subject that the majority of the anarchists described above had their political aspirations front and center. These aspirations were inspired by humanism and its foundations, namely “freedom” and “human dignity.” Reading their letters and writings, as well as their communiqués taking responsibility for their “terrible” acts, one can notice a language strongly in favor of “the people”, “the proletariat,” the oppressed,” “the class struggle,” terms that at the time were favored by many anarchists who also advocated the use of violence. This is because the conditions in society compelled them to proclaim themselves thus. Nevertheless, their words were one thing, and their deeds something else. We remember their deeds as irrefutable proof of the fierceness of past anarchists. They were very different from the dominant paradigm of the modern anarchist, who has turned into a caricature by his acceptance of alternative, but still civilized, moral values.
The contingent of anarchists partial to extremist violence has been also completely erased and forgotten in the official and not-so-official story. There are few who recognize true anarchists such as Severino, Buda, Bonnot, Rosigna, and others who carried out attacks against their targets without concern for bystanders; for whom the ends justified the means.
Let everyone come to their own conclusions, I have reached mine…
I say that the most important thing in your life is yourself.
The family, the state, the party, and anarchy itself can all go to Hell.
What do we mean when we say, “nature”?
this one is not in atassa…
the reading this week are two handouts, neither of which can i find online, both by james hillman. the first one is chapter 5 out of the book Inter Views. it talks about the significance of christianity in the theorizing of freud, among others, and in the culture.
the other is from Re-Visioning Psychology, excerpts from the chapter “pathologizing or falling apart”.