A Theory of Destitution and Trolling

In the grip of modern capitalism we face destitutions both material and social. Precarious employment, debt, exorbitant rent, and a diminishing welfare safety net are complimented by ubiquitous information technology that hinders the development of real life social skills, perpetuating neurotic anxiety and self-loathing which follows perceived failures to meet expected social roles. Both destitutions can be seen as “falling through the cracks,” where people fail to meet society’s norms in achieving a middle-class income, and/or fostering relations of affection, friendship, and love. One can imagine that these destitute people see themselves as losers, and hence gravitate towards opportunities to be in power relations where they are the ones on top, or at least higher than they are now.

In revolutionary times, the collective power inherent in massive and combative struggles may be seductive enough to draw these people in to the anti-politics of liberation. But with no horizon of revolution in sight and the limits of current collective struggles, the destitute will take what they can get. The easiest and most accessible opportunity for power, especially seductive for men with lighter color skin, are the sectors of the internet where far-right trolls specialize in tormenting marginalized people through social media. As the popular adage about bullying goes, the weak become the strong by preying on others that are weak. At the moment, and conceivably in the future, the formula is:

Privilege – Power + Humiliation + the Internet = Far-Right Trolling

In the past, those who capitalist society shaped to be losers and nerds would rectify their powerlessness by becoming an authority on a commodity or spectacle of their choice. Developing encyclopedic knowledge of video games, music genres, and Star Trek episodes while being condescending to those not in the know replicates a feeling of authority, and instills a fleeting sense of confidence about something, regardless how pathetic. This way of asserting power over others is passive and somewhat harmless, adopted only because it’s within reach.

Contrast this with the typical images of racial hatred in the post-war period: southern brutes drunkenly assaulting civil rights demonstrators, or a horde of working-class whites in the urban north converging on a house newly moved into by a black family to harass and attack them. The aforementioned losers, having too little confidence in themselves and their strength, would likely not be participants in such blatantly confrontational acts.

But different opportunities arise with the internet’s anonymity and everyone being “within reach” due to social networks. Every powerless person who occupies a position of even marginal privilege now has the easy ability to go to 4chan, participate in a coordinated harassment, perhaps of a black celebrity or any visible Trans people, and feel the deranged psychological benefit of asserting power over another. Similarly, men who have been trained to see women as objects, intimidating ones they are incapable of talking to without being creepy, can use social media to lash out in their impotence by tormenting, doxing, and threatening them.

The internet has created an easy pathway for the powerless-yet-privileged to become monsters in a vain reach for power. Who would have thought that hell would be participatory and decentralized?

Good TV as a Roadblock to Becoming Ungovernable, or Anything Else Really

“Become ungovernable” is a slogan anarchists like to use these days. It sounds cool and fits the anarchist aesthetic of revolt and spectacular conflict. It doesn’t immediately mean much, but that’s the beauty of it, the meaning shifts with each person and the specificities of their lives. With no revolution and lots of environmental catastrophe, state violence, and “active shooter situations” on the horizon, rather than despairing at our no-future future, it instead contains a path forward: to refuse submission to law, duty, and passivity in daily life. Continue reading “Good TV as a Roadblock to Becoming Ungovernable, or Anything Else Really”

Support the Bloomington ABC Anarchist Prisoner War Fund

DONATE HERE

Since October 2015, Bloomington Anarchist Black Cross has been providing consistent  monthly funds to anarchist prisoners throughout the United States via our Anarchist Prisoner War Fund. We are now asking for help keeping this project going strong into the future.

We have specifically chosen comrades who were receiving very little money or support from the outside, who have no familial support, or who were otherwise in need of monetary aid. These funds have been essential when some comrades did stints in solitary due to activities surrounding the September 9th prison strike, aiding their survival in the most oppressive conditions. We also emphasize support for rebellious prisoners who have maintained the struggle behind the walls. We want to make it clear to our comrades in prison and those taking action on the outside that they can continue to struggle without fear of abandonment if they are caught.

Currently, we provide $40 each month to five anarchist prisoners:

  • Michael Kimble, a gay, Black anarchist and long-time prison rebel imprisoned for the self-defense killing of a racist homophobe.
  • Sean Swain, an anarchist prison rebel in Ohio.
  • Eric King, an anarchist doing 10 years for attempting to firebomb a Congressman’s office in solidarity with the Ferguson rebellion.
  • Jennifer Gann, an anarchist trans woman and long-time prison rebel in California.
  • Andy H., a local anarchist comrade in prison for assaulting a cop.
  • In addition, we have sent substantial amounts of money to other comrades and projects on a temporary basis: Casey Brezik, the Cleveland 4, Marius Mason, prison rebels facing repression for organizing and revolt, an anarchist social space in Malaysia in need of repairs after a fire, and imprisoned fighters of other social struggles.

Thus far, we have raised this ourselves through fundraising, exclusively through the support of local friends and comrades. This constant need for funds means our other efforts (two prison zine distros, a monthly anti-prison info night, letter writing events, a widely-distributed prison newsletter, correspondence and visits with our imprisoned comrades, sending monthly packages of zines and books to anarchist prisoners, maintaining anarchist infrastructure in Bloomington, etc) sometimes have to take a backseat. We live in a small town, and the pool of people willing to give money to anarchist prisoners isn’t large. In an effort to alleviate this, we’re asking people elsewhere to help us keep the War Fund going.

All money sent to us will go directly to imprisoned comrades:  consistently to those on our list, and periodically to others who need it.

If we can meet our goal, we will begin sending consistent funds to additional imprisoned comrades.

We thank anyone who donates, and we carry forth the promise of expanding and deepening our efforts to set our comrades free and destroy the  prison society that keeps us all confined.

Solidarity,
Bloomington ABC

Plain Words #3

[For reading and printing 8.5×11]
[For printing 11×17]

Plain Words is back with issue three, featuring news of resistance in Bloomington; reportbacks from efforts of solidarity with long-term anarchist prisoners, imprisoned anarchist comrade Eric King, and those arrested on the January 20th demonstrations against the inauguration of Donald Trump; a look back at the 2013 strike at Indiana University; and an introductory essay on self-organization via affinity groups.

CONTENTS
“Introduction to the Affinity Group”
June 11th International Day of Solidarity with Long-Term Anarchist Prisoners
Noise Demonstration Against Social Cleansing
Interview on the 2013 Indiana University Strike
Banner Drop in Solidarity with Eric King
Solidarity with the J20 Anti-Inauguration Demonstrators
A chronology of action and solidarity

Solidarity from Bloomington, IN with Grand Jury Resisters Jayden and Katie!

Grand Juries are an investigative tool often used by the state against people engaged in liberatory struggles. Towards the ultimate goal of securing indictments, they compel testimony (ie snitching), under threat of imprisonment. It is illegal to refuse to cooperate with a Grand Jury, and penalties range from empty threats to months or years in prison. In this way grand juries can be massively disruptive to organizing efforts and ongoing struggles even before a single indictment has come down. There is a long history of refusing to testify to grand juries (and an equally long history of those who don’t refuse to testify getting, at minimum, expelled from radical communities, projects, and spaces). Continue reading “Solidarity from Bloomington, IN with Grand Jury Resisters Jayden and Katie!”

Reportback: June 29 Noise Demo Against Social Cleansing

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In the last week of June, dozens of houseless people were removed from Peoples Park and numerous other public spaces by the Bloomington Police Department. After evicting people who stayed at the park, the cops began to do roll-call for their officers there, and usually had at least one of their ilk stationed there to make sure houseless people didn’t use the park. This is part of the City of Bloomington’s social cleansing campaign, the appropriately named “Safe and Civil Cities Campaign.”

Eventually multiple houseless people were thrown in jail after police removed people from a public encampment on Kirkwood near the library. In response, around thirty people gathered outside the jail on the corner of 7th and College at 11:00 p.m. on June 29th for an impromptu noise demo. The crowd consisted of many faces beyond the usual suspects at noise demos in recent years. Very few were masked, making it easy for everyone to see who was who, including the State, those watching one of multiple livestreams, and followers of participants on social media.

What set this noise demo apart from others, aside from the large crowd, was the quality of noise-making devices present. The mobile sound system hardly got use, as people banged incessantly on pots and pans, large hippie drums, and even an oil drum. About 30 minutes into the racket, people trapped inside the jail began waving from their cages and signaling by opening and closing window blinds. At this point, a small handful of older fancy types approached us to ask what the commotion was about. Turns out, they were staying in the Hilton across the street from the jail and couldn’t sleep due to all the drum beating and carrying on. (We noted this unexpected positive side effect for possible anti-gentrification efforts in the future.)

At midnight, the crowd moved into the street, blocking all three lanes of College Avenue. It was a Tuesday night in summer, when most students are away, which meant there wasn’t much traffic to block. Only one driver made a futile attempt at passing through and arguing with the demonstrators, but quickly retreated to his car and drove away through a side alley. At this point three BPD turds, including one shiny headed cop-scum with an impressively cocky strut, approached the group and told people to move out of the street. Nobody listened or engaged with these foot soldiers of indignity and ineptitude, and they used their scum mobiles to block traffic for us. Around 12:30 a.m., a few more badge bedazzled pond slime began to convene with zip-ties in tow. The demo turned south and marched towards the square, dispersing soon after that.

This demo was impressive for its size and volume, especially having been called for just a few hours before. We could have done better with messaging, as the few signs present were mostly vague and small. With just a few faces covered, it reiterated the usefulness of handouts about how and why to mask up, even during relatively chill demos. Those whose faces were exposed were also likely documented by the ample livestreamers and other photo and video documentation that was happening. What may seem obvious to many anarchists —that posting photos and videos of demonstrators online only serves to provide the State with more information that can later be used to repress movements —isn’t so for many liberals and progressives. It would be useful for anarchists and everyone else if there was a more concerted continuation of efforts in recent years to disseminate information about safety and security at the demos themselves. Overall, even if it was only symbolic, this noise demo was a surprisingly rowdy response to the city’s efforts to accelerate gentrification by targeting people experiencing homelessness.

Remembering the 2013 Indiana University Strike

After months of build-up and preparation, hundreds of students, campus employees, and city residents went on strike at Indiana University on April 11 – 12, 2013. A number of things are interesting about this struggle from an anti-authoritarian perspective, including a heightened focus on collective action as a way of building power, and a dismissal of dialogue with the administration as unimportant and distracting.

In this piece, Sasha interviews Roger and Mona, two organizers for the strike, about their experiences during that time and reflections they’ve since had. Continue reading “Remembering the 2013 Indiana University Strike”

Solidarity from Bloomington with Those Facing Felony Charges for Allegedly Disrupting Trump’s Inauguration in DC

This past week, there have been initiatives taken in Bloomington and around the world for the Week of Solidarity with J20 Defendants. The J20 Defendants are 211 people arrested in DC during Trump’s Inauguration on January 20th, who are being charged with at least 8 felonies, including “rioting,” “inciting or urging a riot,” “conspiracy to riot,” and multiple counts of “destruction of property.” If convicted, they face a maximum of 75 years in prison each. The mass arrest took place after the police surrounded the block they were in, using a likely illegal police maneuver called “kettling” to prevent anyone from escaping. In this case as well as countless others, the state casually breaks its own laws whenever they become inconvenient. Continue reading “Solidarity from Bloomington with Those Facing Felony Charges for Allegedly Disrupting Trump’s Inauguration in DC”

Banner Drop for Eric King

Reposted from It’s Going Down

In September 2014, Eric King was arrested after attempting to firebomb a congressman’s office in Kansas City, Missouri in solidarity with the Ferguson uprising. Openly defiant in court, Eric proudly stood by his action and proclaimed his commitment to the struggle against white supremacy, patriarchy, and the state. Sentenced to 10 years in prison, Eric has faced repeated threats and repression from prison administration and guards – always responding with the same rebellious spirit and mocking contempt for this world of laws and cages. Continue reading “Banner Drop for Eric King”

June 11th reportback

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In the month leading up to the June 11th International Day of Solidarity with Marius Mason & All Long-Term Anarchist Prisoners, we set up two tables at Boxcar Books with an array of free zines, stickers, and posters for June 11th and about anarchist prisoners.

On June 6th, the bi-monthly Read & Revolt anarchist reading group met at Boxcar Books to discuss “The Sun Still Rises,” a text written by imprisoned fighters of the Conspiracy Cells of Fire (CCF) urban guerrilla group in Greece. It had been nominated by regular attendees of Read & Revolt and, given that it was written by long-term anarchist prisoners, was scheduled for discussion the week before June 11th. Those in attendance for this session seemed to appreciate how concisely it was written, how clear the authors’ intentions were, and how it was written passionately yet without unnecessary flair. The conversation bounced between topics relevant to local conditions, while various ideas throughout the text acted as conduits for people to discuss ideas related to their own personal problematics.

On June 9th, we showed Sacco & Vanzetti, a 2006 documentary on the two militant anarchists. Without falling back on idolization and martyrdom, we want to affirm our history. As we continue on a path as anarchists of action, as enemies of this and all states, we carry with us the spirit of those who have, before us, carved out their own path of defiance. After the movie, folks wrote 25 cards and letters to long-term anarchist prisoners in the US.

On June 11th, we held a picnic in a public park as a celebration of anarchist action and in honor of our imprisoned fighters. Beneath black flags, people talked, wrote cards to anarchist prisoners, and shared food. Some comrades prepared a songbook and performance of classic anarchist songs. Anarchists in the early 20th century often held picnics on holidays of their own creation, and we hoped to carry on this tradition. As the world becomes increasingly dominated by the technological mediation of the internet, it is imperative that we create spaces in which we can be together, face-to-face, without the noise of alienated chatter. There is, for us, a clear connection between the walls that separate us from our imprisoned comrades and the walls that separate us all from each other. We celebrate, with joy, the crumbling of both.

Earlier that day, anonymous individuals dropped two banners in solidarity with Marius Mason and against social control:

As a small, anonymous gesture of complicity, we hung two banners to honor June 11, day of solidarity with long-term anarchist prisoners. These banners are on the main north/south roads into and out of Bloomington. No matter how long he is held at FMC Carswell or in any other cage, we will make sure Marius isn’t forgotten here, especially given the vital role he played in defending the land and building a community of resistance in our region.

On the evening of June 11th, anonymous individuals wheatpasted dozens of posters and put up stickers about imprisoned comrades.

While our efforts this year were modest, they exist within a continuum of action for our imprisoned comrades that manifests every day. We take time on June 11th to remember and act for imprisoned anarchists, but this does not stop when the clock strikes midnight. For us, solidarity is not a one-off event, an act of charity, or something removed from our daily lives – it is an inseparable part of our existence as anarchists, a tension affirmed through action. Solidarity is the word in our mouths, the rock in our hand, and the blood in our veins.. The prison walls cannot break us.