A Country of Guerrillas: If Not Armed Struggle, Then What?

Creating chaos in the mother country is no easy feat. To match the political violence of the world’s largest exporter (and many would say domestic propagation) of militarized repression for its sole sake of “protecting investments,” and in turn overpower its “full-spectrum dominance” with a more supreme antagonism is, more than likely, a lost cause if ever there were one.

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We might look backwards, at the Boston Tea Party, Shay’s Rebellion, Tecumseh’s war, the Lowell Mill Girls’ strike, Nat Turner’s uprising, Denmark Vesey’s revolt, John Brown’s attack, the Haymarket Anarchists, the hunger strikes of the Suffragettes, the writings of the anti-imperialist league and muckrakers, the Deacons for Self-defense, the Freedom Riders, Stonewall Uprising, the American Indian Movement occupations, the many whistleblowers who stole and made public the abuses of government, the anti-war bombing of the Pentagon by the Weather Underground, as necessary components of a multilateral resistance. But does any of it aid us in conceiving of a plan for tomorrow, or even for today?

Are these revolutionary times when, like the Autonomist movements struggling against a fascism doing everything to maintain its power, a philosophy of urban guerrilla warfare and armed insurgency must again be conceptualized? It may be that activist community educators are needed more than ever—but what if it is in fact insurrection that we must educate toward? That we must destroy the capacity of the “enemy” to wage war against the earth, to collapse their ethical position by burying mines under their moral high ground? Shall each citizen learn the techniques necessary to construct improvised explosive devices that detonate and explode in the minds of our children, incinerating their misconceptions while indoctrinating them to think critically?

What do we mean by political violence?

Do we mean working forty years for decreasing wages and no chance to retire?

Do we mean state bonds, robbed pension funds and stock market fraud?

Do we mean unemployment, workplace accidents, and the psychotropic pharmaceuticals that makes a 9-5 job bearable?

Do we mean dying in the street because some pig felt justified in taking a life?

Our question of whether violence is “right” is irrelevant. We wish to know rather whether such political violence is “effective” instead. It is, for all practical purposes already justified: systemic violence imposes harms on millions, if not billions, so that if the use of arms has reasonable prospects of success in ending such systemic violence when the established regime is unable and unwilling to forcefully stop its continuation, how could anyone say it is not?

Our right to rebel is sacred, and to deny ourselves this reality is to disarm ourselves in the face of fascist tyranny. The Invisible Committee knows this, the Irish Citizen Army, the Zapatista Army of National Liberation, the Black Liberation Army, and the Red Army Faction do too. Shall each child, each citizen, each educated mind take an oath, not to a piece of cloth, but to the spirit of the Constitution, against enemies of freedom, foreign and domestic, and bearing arms freely when required?

What then, when our more perfect Union, when Justice, domestic Tranquility, our common defence, general Welfare, and Blessings of Liberty are threatened by those “persons” who would have our land scorched and destroyed so they might see their stock rise another penny? What then, when our militias must turn into clandestine cells, when self-emancipation must look like insurrectionism to those without critical eyes? What then, when the missing agency of millions of would-be revolutionaries is all that stands in the way between repelling or overpowering the coercive force that the enemies of public autonomy bear against popular empowerment? What can fill this empty space but the self-liberation of autonomous publics?

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If not armed struggle, then what? Shall we riot, knowing full well that such action will never depose elites and their systems of power? Shall we embed ourselves as blocs to maneuver away from arrest? Shall we mirror the cynicism of the state, destroying the lives of people who stand for a cause we despise, asserting a moral supremacy as we destroy and damage those whom we wish to let know their transgressions come at a price? Shall we blackmail, or contest through asymmetric actions the decision-making processes, usurping markets, bureaucracies, and unresponsive systems of power? Shall our militancy disrupt oppressive systems by non-compliance and direct confrontation?

Militancy, with its commitment to attacking intransigent elites and unresponsive institutions with grievance-motivated, adversarial, confrontational collective action, is the only companion to dialogue, under the circumstances of a fascist assault on democracy. Our dialogue has been rendered unavailable, so that we can only advance our cause by blocking traffic, disrupting business, undermining irresponsible profit, and liberating ourselves from the security state that would silence our demands to redress our grievances otherwise.

What action can be taken that will not, and cannot be ignored? Shall we dissolve the political bands that connect us to such evil, malicious, unfeeling ineptitude?

Maybe. A tactical diversity is required in which the roots of our rage find expression. Surely this is emotional, but it is the epitome of logic and rationality as well: critical analysis will reveal the legitimacy of any argument that details how the cherished symbols of consumerism have all but disintegrated, where monetary loss for targeted companies is a directive that the popular anger is happy to oblige. We hare here simply to destroy a world of insolvency—to not only shine a light into the hidden annals of power but throw bombs into their headquarters that might take root and destabilize their decrepit world view.

Those who look on at the protests and see, through years of distorted reality, a chaotic madness without reason or value, may wish to escape such heartfelt passion, unaccustomed to such unmediated rage. Such is to be expected, when the rights of men, women, children, minorities, foreigners, animals, indeed the very ecosystems that give life to all these have been systematically suppressed for so long, dependent upon 50% or more of the electorate to deem them worthy of the freedom to live justly. It is the same in every age.

Shall we wait for them to learn what it means to be worthy of dignity before they allow us to assert that definition for ourselves? No! We will teach them through our actions, and let them learn of the relevance of our accomplishments after the fact. And so, we must eventually begin. Now that our conceptions are clear, they become once again irrelevant. For we wish to be effective, as we know already we are justified. Our analysis must at some point come to an end, if only so it may be tested.

The primacy of any praxis is the source of its significance and so, the urban and rural guerrilla together must lose their fear, to struggle in spite of everything, to pull the emperor from his horse and arm their propaganda with the weapon of consequence. We know what must be done—we have only to do it, and dissolve the boundary between theory and practice.

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Revolution is always illegal, for laws are made by the very rulers who classify revolution as such, yet make it a historical necessity. And so, guerrilla lawfare must be employed to connect legal and illegal struggle; to bridge national and international struggle; to join political and armed struggle; and to merge the strategic and tactical aspects of the revolution. There is nothing in between solution and problem, save that of will, intention, and agency.

Disrupting the system that effectively supports and insulates industry from the consequences of its devastating impacts is crucial, and can be achieved by identifying it in public perception as toxic—a pariah no more legitimate than slavers or vivisectors.

Relentless campaigns of negative publicity to discredit and delegitimize the enemy; sit-ins, blockades, lockdowns, and civil disobedience and direct action that disrupts day-to-day functioning; community-based, public interest infrastructure disassembly and dismantling (sabotage/ecotage) for protection; legal defiance and civil disorder that heitens public scrutiny for otherwise hidden business practices; converting specific grievances into incubators of more radical opposition to large-scale systems of exploitation; establishing alternative economic or political practices and institutions that draw people out of mainstream institutions into oppositional ones to weaken integration into existing society while bolstering counter-institutions that are oppose mainstream society—if all these tactics are implemented relentlessly, on an escalating trajectory, with an ever-broadening base of participation, such hard-targets will become increasingly vulnerable to the challenges grassroots activism will bring to bear.

Moreover, attacking public events or retail business activites; generating negative publicity and critical public scrutiny; undermining claims to legitimacy and authority; spreading localized conflicts into generalized controversy and radicalization; threatening industry with relentless and escalating pressure all anticipate largescale elite defections from a system of enablers—all these aid in the institutional disruption, delegitimation, anti-systemic escalation, and jurisdictional contestation necessary to raise the cost of participating in such a system, while decreasing the benefits of continuing that participation.

The power to bring systems that propagate privilege to a stop, to delegitimize, expose, and denounce such activity, to escalate anti-systemic opposition by raising material costs and foment popular dissatisfaction and unrest, while launching far-reaching challenges to industry, governance, and unaccountable decision making—all this can create a perception of uncertainty and unpredictability that weakens the appeal of the megaprojects to potential investors and weaken such projects’ systems of support. Only in posing a serious threat to the most vulnerable aspects—the support system of enablers in government, business, and media—will a path to stopping violent and corrupt collusion through tactical planning become feasible.

Yet if this base of participation is not broadened exponentially, applied in a relentless and escalating way, no analysis of the politico-military industrial balance of power, and no economy of force will be able to establish the necessary scale or bases of support and liberated territories it will take to actualize our own demands for ourselves.

Perhaps then, in teaching for insurgency with our very lives and tactics as lessons, generating a resistance culture while resisting counterinsurgency programs, we are grabbing back new ground in our struggle against capital. Perhaps it is a combination of insurrectionary, guerilla, even so-called “terrorist” tactics (striking terror in the heart of those who would fear the will of the people and planet) that must be employed to rid ourselves of those institutions that continue to murder and imprison us and all that we love.

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If anything, we must not forget that a “terrorists profile” may be a key element of revolutionary struggle. Not everyone will support the revolutionary project—far less who maintain their favor of fascist policy. But it cannot be forgotten that revolutionary forces have far less need to rely on terror than do the reactionary forces. Moreover, the political price to pay for “terror” (providing the enemy with a propaganda weapon) should be measured, proportionate, and kept to a strict minimum, knowing full well that failing to intimidate the little agents of counter-revolution may be the ultimate undoing of the revolution.

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