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Over there; vs. under, here

By Michael J. Smith on Saturday April 14, 2007 02:52 PM

Somehow I missed this contribution from Mike Flugennock, back in March, but the point is still good:

Was just checking out some reports yesterday on the protests vs. the Chimp's Latin American visit, and some of the tape on CNN, and found myself doing a mental comparison of how dissident movements outside the Empire handle this, vs. the cargo cults -- oh, alright, "movements" -- inside the Empire: How they fight imperialism and corporate dictatorship outside the Empire:

  • General strikes
  • Molotovs
  • Smoke bombs
  • Molotovs and smoke bombs launched from improvised over-the-shoulder "bazookas"
  • Bricks
  • Barricades
  • Flipped cars
  • Improvised battering rams
  • Destruction of corporate property
  • Actually engaging the police in actual combat (imagine _that_!)
  • Generally making the place ungovernable and the Chimp's visit a living hell
How they do it inside the Empire:
  • Marching around with signs
  • Standing around with signs
  • Standing around with candles
  • Teach-ins
  • Knit-ins
  • Movie nights
  • Vegan potlucks
  • "Lobbying days"
  • Writing letters to politicians
  • Whiny press releases
  • Movie stars and politicians leading marches
  • Nonviolence training for people who are already pretty goddamn' docile as it is
  • Various other quaint old 1950s high-school civics class bullshit
  • Anti-authoritarian Bloc Action Calls which are pretty much ignored
  • "Civil Disobedience" actions pre-arranged with the police
  • Generally being meek, cowed, intimidated, and entirely useless to people around the world who were hoping for us to help bring down the Empire from the inside
This is pretty much why I don't care that I'm going to miss the M17 demonstrations, why I had to force myself to stay in the J27 march until I'd shot enough tape to cut a piece together showing how goddamn' useless and boring it was, why I don't care if I never shoot another goddamn' march as long as I live, and why I've pretty much quit giving a shit about what happens to this goddamn' country and my "fellow Americans", or the goddamn' cargo cults...uh, sorry, "movements" in this country anymore. We had our big chances at Seattle and A16, but we started drinking the nonviolence Kool-Aid, and let Global Exchange, MGJ, Code Pink and MoveOn cut our balls off.

Comments (8)


from my couch
way way way
back here in the virtual
wood work of middle amerika

bravo mike F ....

errrr F...em

sure THE MAN can take a fake frackus

a soulful sequence of solemn gestures ..

the ab rah cah dab rah
of signs costumes and symbols
OF rain dances

moral force methods
of bringing an end to
this latest imperial blood feast

but even so
no matter what
HE can't take
the real thing ....
don't just look at bagdad or beirut

ask the grenadiers over inside fort zion

think uncle
wants foreign turf ....anywhere
as much as the zionians
want the west bank????

intifada baby inti fuckin fata


Now as glorious as all of the fire and smoke confrontations are on a screen beamed to you by CNN of all orgs, flare ups is a more apt photo. I can’t necessarily attest to the numerical use value of these flare-ups but I can give you some of what I’ve seen in the vanguard of Olympia. It is indeed a frustrating time for twenty-year-old anarchists, separated from the movements we identify with by the flicker of another memory hole.

This ain’t Orwell’s hole, just the opposite. The one where instead of dumping the states excess information we get access to the world’s trimmings. Bit by bit visions of bricks and burning cars are flicked at us through the other end of the hole. The whole of the periphery and outright police repression. (A caveat, having lived in Oly long enough to have done my second year and seen instances of police repression, the heavy hands of the state clapping at gnats, this is very real even here in Empireland.)

Some of us at various points cannot resist but to scurry round our end of the whole and gnaw at these trimmings of the great global mass rising up. Some of us run round empty our pockets of local American change to trade in for a OAXACA RESISTE banner, stapling a bit of color on to our black backpacks and hoodies. Global solidarity is nice and awesome and necessary and all, but could we not have some of that shop local ethic back?

The twenty-year-old anarquistos of el norte wish for some hardcore luchando. Change, we ain’t got none, too busy declaring our ability to live outside mom and dad’s system. We can eat all the dumpstered food we want, be as vegan as we need to be, but when it comes down to some good old grassroots, we say nay, we really want the meat. We want that fire and smoke flavor. We wanna grab those guns and see our prey instantly done for. Bloody or not (depends on who you talk to), tearing it down or up or whatever takes precedence over building another in the backrooms and breakrooms of the nation.

I wish not to try and claim moral authority here, see? I struggle at this moment too. Where is the line between good useful foment and halfway ferment, old enough to foul and smell and intoxicate but too young for wine?


I hear what you're saying with your comparison of Over here vs. Over
there. I've always admired the way the french for instance get riled
up when something is being perpetrated on them. No bullshitting
around, truckers, farmers or students barricade streets and hurl
paving stones etc. and create such a stink the authorities relent a
lot of times (No wonder the U.S. media hate the french so much). As
far as the difference in reactions in the two situations you describe
though, inside and outside the empire I think they're are some
crucial differences that make them bad for comparison in that most
americans still feel they have something to lose, which makes you
less extreme and more cautious. This is not the case, of course with
a lot of people outside the empire, "over there" many of whom have
very little or nothing to lose. Indeed life is still better over here
for a significant number of people largely because we are an empire
and take a lot of the stuff in the world. Of course, our relative
prosperity is pretty precarious these days and I guess could always



not sure you intended this insight
but i love this notion
i get out of your comment:

the MSM GIVES us all
a taste of struggle
from over there

and this taste
can act as a tease
to us social changeling types
and as i take it
you're saying
successful upheavals
or anywhere
built just out of what we see
on sound bites and action clips
from over there

if we make gestures
that ape the clips from
"the real thing over there"

we won't make an inti fada here
we'll make something
straight from...
the kroptkin school
of symbolic theatre
ultimate examples of kro-pot drama :

9/11 and the blowed up czar

change the world ???

trigger the avalanche ???
not really

only if conditions are ripe
and the forces for change are prepared..enough to sieze the moment......

and who knows that moment
except to be ready for it

but specific means and specific ends
have no enduring co relation
no global application

if some one asks me

do i believe
there must be
at any given time
in any given class society
a method
for making a class revolution

i'd say nope
not here and now

class revolutions
may be man made
but they still
just seem to happen
when and where they happen
ready or not

now on the other hand
struggle is constant on going
thru thick or thin

right ???

movements are always out there

there likely comes certain junctures
where old methods are seen to fail
and its concluded are
bound to fail
and so the quest begins for
...new methods new forms new organizations
some of us say
we're right there
here now locally
inside the beast
time to start looking for new methods
new organizations new means of struggle

i 'd wager most of us in our guts feel
the next uphevel here
won't be made
easily replicated versions
of the civil rights movement for instance
mother Clio
is far more demanding of us then that


br writes:

" I think they're some
crucial differences that make them
(foreign means of struggle)
bad for comparison ...
americans still feel
they have something to lose
which makes you
less extreme and more cautious "


or as peter suggests
for the riled few
viewing their sheep like fellow countrymen
just taking it
so frustrated
they commit
rash acts of exemplary hortation

shades of the absurd
wind blowing gestures
in 69-74



Maybe the MSM gives it to us for this purpose, maybe they don't. Maybe suspended revolution or uprising is profitable (just as long as it isn't here.
My beef is also partly with global indymedia, where flare ups are fodder for whoever reads that thing.
Maybe its larger, making ties tween MSM and indymedia, that capitalism has created a market for suspended revolt (suspended, even at the edge of our seats). People eager to put out, put up with and take in, daily doses of a riot cop's fire hose or tear gas, suspended, gelled, in cyberspace.
"Radical" folks need to engage in some healthy self criticism, wondering at what we ourselves put out or pick up through above memory hole. We need to work with our fellow countrymen to undo the spell that turned them into cowed sheep, and at the very same time shed our own shackles, those goddamned quotation marks.


Did the bourgeoisie at the very start of it just up and buck the weight of the curdled kings and queens? I realize that the notion of "queue up! wait your turn, revolutions come slow with geopolitics in the seventh house lining up with jupiter and mars," may just be something slotted in our skulls by the friendly COINTELPRO neighbor nextdoor, but maybe we do have to wait.
We needn't view it as something inevitible that we can do nothing but get ready to aid, but we can create those democratic structures from below, so that when and if WE make something happen it doesn't just blow over like the sour farts of some young vegan.


"we can create those democratic structures from below"

"those democratic structures from below "
indeed indeed
as w c fields used to say

i say don't just build em in parallel

build em inside the beast too

build "liberated zones"
but not just
in the hinterville hogans
and the urban crotch rots
build em
inside the Sources...
inside corporate amerika's
dollars per head
juice farms themselves

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