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”.
another baedan piece, identity in crisis.
the following, and Patriarchy, Civilization, And The Origins Of Gender
Dysphoria Means Total Destroy (2011)
The last three weeks, every stranger I have come across has misgendered me, whether I’m femming it up or not. In the mirrored elevator doors at work my face looks tired, angular in all the wrong ways. With some unease, I recognize my dad in my reflection. Both my spiro and estro pills ran out today, and I’m flipping out. They’re probably going to arrive Monday, but they might have gotten lost in untracked airmail and what the fuck am I going to do if I’ve got to spend another Benjamin and wait three weeks more? I want to scream. I’m filled with steam. I’m warding off the desire to hit myself, and so I start daydreaming in my gray cubicle. I see a hijacked airliner turn and head directly towards my desk. I’m staring it down, making ridiculous arm gestures, calling it in like some sort of kamikaze air controller. There’s a loud flash, I disappear, and everything burns.
Being so qualitative, dysphoria is difficult to pin down exactly. A decent definition would be something like “intense unease in regards to (one’s) gender,” where gender is understood to include the entirety of sex, gender, and anatomy (since none exist outside of the discourses within which they are produced and they are all intimately interrelated). There is a tension, typically formulated as a contradiction between sex and gender, or between what one is, what one desires, and what one is not. Yet, a move away from positivity might help sidestep implicitly essentialist language while potentially opening up some new lines of thought.
Despair and hopelessness marks the quality of dysphoria, burning the border between the world and impossibility deep into me, making its omnipresence unbearably visible. Many other types of despair carry with it the seed of a hope that something possible (however unlikely) could fix the situation one despairs within: the cancer might go away, this ugly breakup could always turn around and spontaneously become a deep and lasting love, I might win the lottery so I can stop being in crushing debt, Obama might bring meaning to my life. Dysphoria carries with it no such thing. While there are despairs that do not carry this hope, the intensity, duration, and scope of gender dysphoria suggests that it is worth analyzing.
This conflict between actual and impossible does not exist in a vacuum, but exists precisely because of the naming-constructing-creating that is this world. The world creates its own impossibilities by its incessant productive categorization, as nothing fits its own definition. Everything is perpetually scratching at the walls, blindly, without any purpose. The intolerability that surrounds everything is also a graininess in everything. The border reveals itself as not one but two, a pair of overlapping shadows. The impossible existing and the longed-for nonexistent intersect here. While this graininess exists everywhere, dysphoria marks where this graininess comes into conflict with gender, and by extension the world and our constitution as subjects. Beyond not fitting the category we were assigned (I am not-this), it is our continually failing to be (I am not-that). This is where the rhetoric of the liberal transfeminist fails. I wasn’t born this way, and I can’t ever be either. Not-this would imply that dysphoria has a similarity with despair, sharing the commonality of something else one could hope for. The not-that both stands in for and precludes that hope.
It is important to recognize that I am not talking about individuals, beliefs, choices, or actions here, but of a conflict that takes place between graininess and the world within gender and manifesting itself through gender. There is no revolutionary identity here, only an irreconcilable conflict against and through identity. This despair and this hatred is the result. Subsequently, identity-based attacks upon gender will not be able to collapse gender. My taking hormones or getting surgery or whatever is simply my performing the conflict by the lines of power that run through me. It does not follow that these things constitute an attack upon gender itself, although it may stimulate it to evolve in order to maintain its existence. Through and against are distinguished by where (and thus how) the conflict takes place. These overlapping circles – the impossible existing and the nonexistent – produce one another endlessly, composing the topography of the world. I’ve gone over why the existing is impossible, but the status of nonexistent might be less obvious. The nonexistent is not something that can be acquired, but exists as the shadows and holes produced by the structuring of the world. It is not a way out. Yet, in the very foundation of this world lies its weakness, by the very fact of its own creating. Not-this, not-that: negation at its heart. Nothing, the very same as the graininess that gives rise to the conflict. Nothing because it lacks categories, because it is the emptiness that overflows every name given to it. It cannot be put to work, it is always breaking down. It cannot be rendered tame, but it will explode in revolt. It exists in the spaces between the things, and in the heart of every thing. It can never be contained. This Nothing attempts to destroy everything in its path.
Looking at the negative responses dysphoria presents, I think a course of action against gender emerges. Where dysphoria drives us towards destruction and away from interacting with gender on its own terms, we see something (or rather, Nothing) that dissolves, attacks, demolishes. This might often appear as destruction of the self or directed against the self such as suicide, drug (ab)use, self-harm, but also can appear as any other outwards action where I, unstable and miserable, unravel everything around me. These all are fundamentally an undoing, action which threatens the very existence of structure. Misgendering is an instance of this structure imposing itself, spurring this conflict into even greater violence within me. The violence visited upon trans bodies is also an undoing of the conflict, although it works in attempt to stamp out this Nothing. Every action we could take that interacts with gender directly will at best be ineffective, every effort to impose gender upon us is met by increased resistance, and all that is left is destroy. Only Nothing can destroy gender.
To elaborate and clarify: this world is typified by the operations of productive power, creating two overlapping shadows. At once, there is the existing, a direct result of power’s creation. As a simultaneous corollary, the nonexistent appears as produced holes, gaps, shadows, a mirage of what could be but contradicting themselves fundamentally. Both the existent and the nonexistent are impossible, empty. Their existence is both enabled and plagued by a graininess that cannot be contained by either but which production finds itself needing. Gender exists as an aspect of the power that creates the world, and while the obvious manifestations of gender can be separated from other aspects of power, its root is this power.
Dysphoria is situated in the space where the existent and the nonexistent overlap – that is, in the world – and is typified by antagonism and fundamental negation. On the one hand, it is a negation of the existent (not-this) and desirous of the nonexistent (not-that) in the modes of which it is capable. Where dysphoria can be softened by interacting with gender and attempting to bring the existent closer to the nonexistent, this will not affect power or the reproduction of the world. Where dysphoria becomes feral and lusts for dissolution becomes the exit from this world to a place that does not yet exist. To destroy gender, we must be willing to destroy the world it exists within. After all, there’s no hope anyway… why not?
the anti-social turn from baedan 1 (i suggest reading through up to queers gone wild, if someone wants to propose more of the article, then let us know…)
please feel free to add things in the comments here.
i was just reminded that there has been some real thought by anarchists i never hear about (or rarely) on psychology.
so future readings could be otto gross
THE DEVIL UNDERNEATH THE COUCH: THE SECRET STORY OF JUNG’S TWIN BROTHER – Gottfried Heuer
“I have only mixed with anarchists and declare myself to be an anarchist,” Otto Gross said in 1913. “I am a psychoanalyst and from my experience I have gained the insight that the existing order … is a bad one. … And since I want everything changed, I am an anarchist” (Berze/Stelzer 1999, p.24)”. He was the first psychoanalyst to link analysis with radical politics and wrote: “The psychology of the unconscious is the philosophy of the revolution” (Gross 1913c). So, when Coline Covington recently wrote, “Analysis is essentially a tool for revolution (Covington 2001, p.331)”, she was just echoing something that Gross said nearly 90 years before. He was not just a psycho-analyst – he was a psycho-anarchist and thus stands for the subversive potential of analysis – which earned him the epithet of the “devil underneath the couch” (Raulff 1993).
Although Gross played a pivotal role in the birth of what today we are calling modernity, with wide-ranging influences in psychoanalysis, psychiatry, philosophy, radical politics, sociology, literature, and ethics, he has remained virtually unknown to this day. Already in 1921, less than a year after Gross’ death, the Austrian writer Anton Kuh wrote of him as, ‘a man known only to very few by name – apart from a handful of psychiatrists and secret policemen – and among those few only to those who plucked his feathers to adorn their own posteriors’ (Kuh 1921, pp.16-7). Today, still, most analysts have never heard of Otto Gross, or their knowledge is confined to, ‘Isn’t that the one who became schizophrenic?’ To a large extent this is the result of an analytic historiography which Erich Fromm has rightly called “Stalinistic” (Fromm 1957, p.133): dissidents become non-persons and vanish from the records. This practice of purging history makes the story of Otto Gross a secret one: it was hoped that we would never know.
Yet Adam Philips recently said: “There is no future for psychoanalysis if it doesn’t want to look in other places for regeneration, and particularly if it doesn’t look to the places it wants to exclude. By its own logic, that’s where the life is, that’s where the action is” (Philips 1997, p.164).
Psychoanalysis was created as a tool to create a better future by turning from the present to the past. It is a “looking backwards to the future” (Handy 2002). What was repressed, powerfully returns, and thus the past gets continually created anew. History has exactly the same function on the collective level. The historian Edmund Jacobitti calls it “composing useful pasts – history as contemporary politics” (Jacobitti 2000). Mindful of this, let me take you “where the action is” – to look at the repressed aspect of analytic history that is Otto Gross.
Of course, his story was not always a secret one. There was a time, in the first decade of the last century, when the greatest minds in psychoanalysis were full of the highest praise for Otto Gross. In 1908 Freud wrote to Jung, “You are really the only one capable of making an original contribution; except perhaps O.Gross” (Freud/Jung 1974, p.126). A few months later, after Gross had been in an analysis with Jung that at times became what we would today call a mutual analysis, Jung replied to Freud, “In Gross I discovered many aspects of my own nature, so that he often seemed like my twin brother” (ibid., p. 156). Thomas Kirsch (Kirsch 2000) in his recent study of “The Jungians” does not mention Gross, although, in view of these feelings expressed by Jung, Gross might well be called the first Jungian. The writer Emil Szittya (1886-1964) even went as far as calling Gross “a friend of Dr. Freud and the intellectual father of Professor Jung” (Szittya n.d., p.211). As late as 1986 the eminent scholar of psychoanalysis Johannes Cremerius wrote about the C.G.Jung of 1909, ‘He is still completely and entirely the pupil of Otto Gross’ (Cremerius 1986, p. 20). So we might as well call Jung an early Grossian. In 1910 Ferenczi wrote to Freud about Gross, “There is no doubt that among those who have followed you up to now he is the most significant” (Freud/Ferenczi 1993, p.154). Ernest Jones in his autobiography wrote: Gross “was my first instructor in the technique of psychoanalysis” (Jones, 1990, p.173) and he called him “the nearest approach to the romantic ideal of a genius I have ever met” (ibid.).
OVERCOMING THE CULTURAL CRISIS – Otto Gross
The psychology of the unconscious is the philosophy of revolution: i.e., this is what it is destined to become because it ferments insurrection within the psyche, and liberates individuality from the bonds of its own unconscious. It is destined to make us inwardly capable of freedom, destined to prepare the ground for the revolution.
The incomparable revaluation of all values, with which the imminent future will be filled, begins in this present time with Nietzsche’s thinking about the depths of the soul and with Freud’s discovery of the so-called psychoanalytic technique. This latter is a practical method which for the first time makes it possible to liberate the unconscious for empirical knowledge: i.e., for us it has now become possible to know ourselves. With this a new ethic is born, which will rest upon the moral imperative to seek real knowledge about oneself and one’s fellow men.
What is so overpowering in this new obligation to appreciate the truth is that until today we have known nothing of the question that matters incomparably above all others – the question of what is intrinsic, essential in our own being, our inner life, our self and that of our fellow human beings; we have never even been in position to inquire about these things. What we are learning to know is that, as we are today, each one of us possesses and recognises as his own only a fraction of the totality embraced by his psychic personality.
In every psyche without exception the unity of the functioning whole, the unity of consciousness, is torn in two, an unconscious has split itself off and maintains its existence by keeping itself apart from the guidance and control of consciousness, apart from any kind of self-observation, especially that directed at itself.
I must assume that knowledge of the Freudian method and its important results is already widespread. Since Freud we understand all that is inappropriate and inadequate in our mental life to be the results of inner experiences whose emotional content excited intense conflict in us. At the time of those experiences – especially in early childhood – the conflict seemed insoluble, and they were excluded from the continuity of the inner life as it is known to the conscious ego. Since then they have continued to motivate us from the unconscious in an uncontrollably destructive and oppositional way. I believe that what is really decisive for the occurrence of repression is to be found in the inner conflict … rather than in relation to the sexual impulse. Sexuality is the universal motive for the infinite number of internal conflicts, though not in itself but as the object of a sexual morality which stands in insoluble conflict with everything that is of value and belongs to willing and reality.
It appears that at the deepest level the real nature of these conflicts may always be traced back to one comprehensive principle, to the conflict between that which belongs to oneself and that which belongs to the other, between that which is innately individual and that which has been suggested to us, i.e., that which is educated or otherwise forced into us.
This conflict of individuality with an authority that has penetrated into our own innermost self belongs more to the period of childhood than to any other time.
The tragedy is correspondingly greater as a person’s individuality is more richly endowed, is stronger in its own particular nature. The earlier and the more intensely that the capacity to withstand suggestion and interference begins its protective function, the earlier and the more intensely will the self-divisive conflict be deepened and exacerbated. The only natures to be spared are those in whom the predisposition towards individuality is so weakly developed and is so little capable of resistance that under the pressure of suggestion from social surroundings, and the influence of education, it succumbs, in a manner of speaking, to atrophy and disappears altogether – natures whose guiding motives are at last composed entirely of alien, handed-down standards of evaluation and habits of reaction. In such second-rate characters a certain apparent health can sustain itself, i.e., a peaceful and harmonious functioning of the whole of the soul or, more accurately, of what remains of the soul. On the other hand, each individual who stands in any way higher than this normal contemporary state of things is not, in existing, conditions, in a position to escape pathogenic conflict and to attain his individual healthi.e., the full harmonious development of the highest possibilities of his innate individual character.
It is understood from all this that such characters hitherto, no matter in what outward form they manifest themselves – whether they are opposed to laws and morality, or lead us positively beyond the average, or collapse internally and become ill – have been perceived with either disgust, veneration or pity as disturbing exceptions whom people try to eliminate. It will come to be understood that, already today, there exists the demand to approve these people as the healthy, the warriors, the progressives, and to learn from and through them.
Not one of the revolutions in recorded history has succeeded in establishing freedom for individuality. They all fell flat, each time as precursors of a new bourgeoisie, they ended in a hurried desire to conform to general norms. They have collapsed because the revolutionary of yesterday carried authority within himself. Only now can it be recognized that the root of all authority lies in the family, that the combination of sexuality and authority, as it shows itself in the patriarchal family still prevailing today, claps every individuality in chains.
The times of crisis in advanced cultures have so far always been attended by complaints about the loosening of the ties of marriage and family life … but people could never hear in this “immoral tendency” the life affirming ethical crying out of humanity for redemption. Everything went to wrack and ruin, and the problem of emancipation from original sin, from the enslavement of women for the sake of their children, remained unsolved.
The revolutionary of today, who, armed with the psychology of the unconscious has a vision of a free, happy future for the relationship between the sexes, fights against the most primal form of rape, against the father and against father right. The coming revolution is the revolution for mother right.* It does not matter under what outward form and by what means it comes about.
(From Die Aktion, April 1913, reprinted in Anarchism…, vol.1 p281, Robert Graham.)
[* A NOTE ON “MOTHER-RIGHT COMMUNISM”
Otto Gross claimed that the rape that established patriarchy was the true ‘original sin’ and “that the entire structure of civilisation since the destruction of the primitive communistic mother right order is false.” He also argued that “the real liberation of woman, the dissolution of the father right family by socialising the care of motherhood, is in the vital interests of every member of society, granting him the highest freedom” (Springer in Hueur, Sexual Revolutions, p118; Peter Davies, Myth Matriarchy and Modernity, p254-6).
Gross’ poor record at parenting his own children rather discredits his opinions on childcare. But he certainly took the issue seriously at an intellectual level. Indeed, the last paragraph of his last article includes the statement: “The mission: to make individual cells of the social body an object of agitation and sabotage. To initiate a fight against the principle of the family, that is, against the prevailing family of the Father Right, on behalf of the Communist Mother Right” (P.Pietikainen, Alchemist of Human Nature, p91).
Gross derived these ideas from Johann Bachofen, the 19th century historian, who had written that: “The end of the development of the state resembles the beginning of human existence. The original equality finally returns. The maternal element opens and closes the cycle of everything human” (August Bebel, Woman under Socialism, Ch.8).
Inspired by Marx, Engels was also very interested in Bachofen’s ideas, as well as those of Lewis Henry Morgan, claiming that: “The rediscovery of the original mother-right gens as the stage preliminary to the father-right gens of the civilised peoples has the same significance for the history of primitive society as Darwin’s theory of evolution has for biology, and Marx’s theory of surplus value for political economy” (The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State, p35). Marxists such as Bloch, Benjamin and Reich continued this interest in Bachofen, and Erich Fromm wrote about the “materialist-democratic character of matriarchal societies” (The Crisis of Psychoanalysis, p149). However, as the threat of social revolution continued into the 1930s, the anthropological establishment wanted to discredit all such ideas. Bronislaw Malinowski made his thoughts clear when he said:
“A whole school of anthropologists, from Bachofen on, have maintained that the maternal clan was the primitive domestic institution. … In my opinion, as you know, this is entirely incorrect. But an idea like that, once it is taken seriously and applied to modern conditions, becomes positively dangerous. I believe that the most disruptive element in the modern revolutionary tendencies is the idea that parenthood can be made collective. If once we came to the point of doing away with the individual family as the pivotal element of our society, we should be faced with a social catastrophe compared with which the political upheaval of the French revolution and the economic changes of Bolshevism are insignificant. The question, therefore, as to whether group motherhood is an institution which ever existed, whether it is an arrangement which is compatible with human nature and social order, is of considerable practical interest” (N.Allen, Early Human Kinship, p70).
In recent years, however, anthropological and genetic studies of African hunter-gatherers indicate that early human society may well have been both matrilocal and matrilineal (Allen, p80-2, 186; Sarah Hrdy, Mothers and Others). Furthermore, in many simple hunter-gatherer communities, childcare is more collective, and women have more power, than in agricultural societies. So, perhaps, Bachofen, Morgan, Marx, Engels and Gross were more right than the anthropological establishment of the 20th century.
Of course, it still remains to be seen whether Gross’ prediction of a “revolution for mother right”, or Marx’s, not dissimilar, prediction of capitalism’s “fatal crisis [leading to] … the return of modern society to a higher form of the most archaic type”, will be fulfilled in the 21st century (MECW vol.24, p357, 350).]
other readings could be from On An(archy) and Schizoanalysis, and/or break out from the crystal palace.