Theory. Utopia. Empathy. Ephemeral arts – EST. 1990 – ATHENS LONDON NEW YORK

Travelogue: For a projectuality in times of war (and in times of peace)

in Theory

The need for compasses

Often we think of our ideas as pillars staved-in stable grounds. However, the grounds are generally stable but in appearance. It’s enough for conditions to change, for the grounds becoming muddy or for the waters rising, to see our stable grounds move and our dear pillars subsiding like castles of cards. Then panic seizes us, we run from one indigestible alliance to the next one which is even more improbable, our concepts which we thought so solid become gelatinous, shift into modelling clay, and in a short laps of time, we become what we always despised: simple pawns on a chessboard we do not understand. This happened to quite some anarchists when the First World War broke out, it happened to Spanish anarchists dragged from a revolutionary situation into a full scale war, it happened to many revolutionaries caught up in the geopolitical games of the Cold Ward, and it will happen again tomorrow.

So, rather than pillars in all but stable grounds, let’s consider our ideas as compasses which allow us to put things in perspective. As anarchists, we fight against all power, being it bloodthirsty or tolerant, democratic or dictatorial, therefore, we can never rally the side of one power against the other. There are but two sides on a barricade, and when it is not our barricade, there’s also no side of us. That’s why it is so important to have these compasses-ideas in our pockets, to deepen and strengthen them, because only in very tense situations we are truly put to the test. It is surely more easy to reject any relation with authoritarians when death or prison are not roaming (although the opportunists do not in the least deprive themselves of such alliances) than to refuse in a situation of war a military alliance with an army when people are dying all around us, bombed by a merciless air force. A situation of war would put our anarchism to a rough test, and just as many comrades (often in minority) didn’t renounce their ethics nor their ideas even in the worst conditions, we have to restart today to deepen what is our anarchism, if not, we risk to be shipwrecked… very fast.

The need for maps

If our compasses-ideas can indicate the directions to take and especially the wanderings to avoid, they do allow for discerning the outlines of the obstacles to confront. That dimension is the one of analysis. And if such a task should anyway be permanent for every enemy of authority, it becomes even more crucial if we want to be able to put up a fight in a scenario of war. This implies for example, starting from today, to carefully map the military industries and the technology companies, but also everything that is sensible for the operational functioning of dominion: communication networks, transport routes, resources and energy grids, strategic reserves of primary resources and food. And not in an approximative way, but detailed and pro-active.

The need for intelligence

Intelligence is a word which logically makes our ears bleed, because it reminds the generalised records which the states managed to put in place, but we think that it is in any case necessary, not only to dispose of as much information as possible concerning the functioning of the repressive organisms (which will show, in a situation of war, their teeth quite more ferociously than in “ordinary” times), but also to know their hierarchy. There’s a big chance that the commanding officer of today’s police will also be the one of tomorrow. On another side, one has to give himself or herself communication capacities that are hard to penetrate by the enemy, but sadly also to prepare oneself for the eventuality of surprise kidnappings, interrogations testifying of sadism, special prisons, as well as for the vast pallet of state means to wage a dirty war against subversives (snitches, infiltrators, pressure on relatives, manipulations…). To prepare oneself for this is surely a very hard task, but in times of war, being even minimally prepared will always be better than nothing at all (knowing that the importance of such state counter-measures gets taken today too little serious, or even totally neglected).

The need for instruments and knowledge

Knowing where the military antenna is located is one thing, knowing how to knock it out is another thing. Many techniques, going from how to build sabotage material to the ways how to move, are indispensable. Good will is a starting, but is not enough. It is therefore needed to develop technical capacities and precise knowledge, ans also to project them in a situation which could be quite different of the one we know today. Some means get rare in times of war, others become suddenly easy to find: to not let everything depend on chance, one has to prepare for this.

The need for coordination

Staying in the dimension of informality, coordination between individuals, affinity groups and other autonomous constellations is indispensable, as well for the gathering of information, the sharing of means, logistics and support, the spreading of news, the elaboration of means of counter-information and agitation as for projects of attack. Therefore, it is needed, starting from today, to reflect on which shapes such coordination could take, how they could be put into practice also in situations where it could be less evident to meet up with many people (or even with more than two). Such coordination should obviously be anti-authoritarian, agile, starting from the autonomy of each individual and of each group which takes part in it.

The need for perspectives

But all this for what, to do what? To what end, in what perspective? If the out-bursting of a revolutionary insurrection is the perspective, the ways that might lead there are many, and also depend of particular situations. A context which shifts to civil war following massive scarcity, a environmental disaster or because of sectarian hatreds is one thing, a state which launches a military intervention in another country is something else. Yet, basically, we think that spread sabotage against everything that makes war and control possible, everything which gives energy to the state, could be the first steps. Such a perspective would allow us not only to act immediately and with full coherence, but also to light, as small as it might be, a flame in the dark, a possible point of gathering for others, opening up paths for coordination and organisational deepening. Taking the initiative is the first step to disorganise the plans of the enemy, far less agile than ours could be.

If war is at the heart itself of any state, this “organisation of force”; if the difference forms war takes therefore follow the same and sole logic of dominion; if the massacres of military operations and repression, capitalist exploitation and dumbing operated by power therefore are but the two sides of the same medal of the order of the world, the paths and suggestions evoked in these lines should not only figure in the travelogue of those who find themselves in the midst of a bloody conflict, but could also help to anyhow develop anarchist projectualities. Even the voluntary blind cannot ignore that the instruments of repression, control and fabrication of consensus are going crescendo, at the same pace as the number of regions in prey of new wars: it is the same an sole ongoing restructuring of dominion, touching all aspects of society as we know it. This is what we have to face, and for this these scarce notes of this travelogue might maybe serve.

Translated from Avis de Tempêtes, anarchist bulletin for social war, n°4, 16th of April 2018

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