Today, November 1st 2023, when the veil is at its thinnest, the dead in Gaza speak to us.
We, the writers, are not Palestinian. We write this for fellow north american anarchists of a certain type. You’ll see yourself as you read. We also write this for the anarchy-adjacent, and for anyone who is interested.
The horror of Israel’s genocide of Palestinians is deep, inescapable, and intricate. We, anarchists and those close to anarchy, understand the history, the context of apartheid, the numbers, the hypocrisy, the exceptionalism, the cruelty, the torture. We sob. We lose sleep, and friends, and family.
We feel helpless, so we undertake the relatively and subjectively fearsome tasks available in the current repertoire of “resistance”. These tasks are fine, and understandable: marches, popular education, “movement-building”, “speaking out” at school or at work, petitions and declarations, non-violent direct action.
Are you truly satisfied with the fine and understandable? Is the moral righteousness of “taking a stand” all that you need to live in freedom with others?
We see each other on the streets, marching grimly. We see each other on the subway, or at our places of work or study, wearing keffiyehs or other talismans of who we are and where we stand. We see hundreds of thousands like us, in the glassy black mirrors of our lives, lit up with both spectacles of death, and spectacles of refusal.
It is unnecessary to repeat to each other, and possibly to anyone else, what we already understand. Anarchists, please don’t waste your time organizing webinars. Someone else will write the petitions, make the memes, write the tweets. Leave the begging of the state to the liberals. Hundreds of thousands will inevitably fill the perennial role of those who grovel for scraps, for concessions, for living death, instead of full and ecstatic life. They will film themselves dancing out these rituals.
What are these social movements that march and beg? Mass theatre. It’s fine and understandable, but don’t overestimate it.
We don’t beg. We take.
What of the students who are censored, the teachers who risk losing their jobs? Resist the seduction of individal drama raised onto the pedestal of collective action. That’s the work of radicals who have accepted they are living in non-radical times, professional revolutionaries making their personal trouble into a campaign.
It’s fine and understandable for some – but anarchists, please, don’t waste much of your breath arguing with enemies and trying to prove to the world you are right.
The speeches, the poems, the open letters, and declarations? Do these things quickly and don’t let yourself get exhausted by it, because words drift and flutter and dissolve, as will this text. Enjoy their transient effect while they last, but know that the expressions that last are of a more concrete kind.
Direct action? How direct is it? How long does it last? Is the effect just another colourful blip on the network of black mirrors, plus a fine or charge? We hear slogans chanted as you, the solidarity activist, gets dragged away. It’s good you’re doing the scary meaningful thing – whatever that may be for you, or you, or you. It is fine and understandable. But is that it? Is your end game just to shut down a small part of the infrastructure of genocide for a few hours, and inspire others and make people think?
Not all direct action gets the goods.
Whatever you do above ground, maybe it’s time to take it under. Whatever you do with the utmost care and secrecy, maybe now’s the time get even better at it.
It’s an old adage that few follow: Live as if you are already free.
We’re not going to be prescriptive except in this one regard: our entire existence should change. The horror compels us to do so. If you’ve been hesitant, the time is now to dramatically transform the self, the way we relate to it, and the way we relate to others. No matter how many stupid social rules you have already discarded, get ready to toss away even more. It’s not just a quantative effort, though: you’ll need to face the sacred cows of your subservience, your biggest fears, the most daunting obstacles.
Only in the condition of living free can we ever be able to enact our desire to live with Gazans in freedom. Together, literally or symbolically, we want to share food, tell stories, dance and sing songs, bask in the warmth of the sun, and marvel at the deep night sky.
It’s time not just for reversals, though these are fine and understandable for some: replacing inertia with action, silence with speech.
It’s time for a decisive step outside of the circle of death, the boring theatrics of refusal, repression, further protest, then more death. That circle is drawn by the nation state and his loyal pal: existing society. Within that circle, genocide and land theft will certainly persist, almost as if – it absurdly seems – fueled by our grief, our funeral marches.
If we haven’t already, it’s time for us to leave that circle, entirely. When we leave, we do not march.