‘Tame Words from a Wild Heart’ by Jean Weir (Elephant Editions)
Words. Mere Words. The pages that follow are in part transcriptions of the spoken word—‘the wonder worker that is no more’, as Emma Goldman wrote wistfully over one hundred years ago when referring to the inadequacy of the spoken word to awaken thought and shake people out of their lethargy. Here in the twenty-first century anarchists no longer talk about spoken propaganda to awaken the masses, bemoaning the absence of orators such as Johann Most or Luigi Galleani. In rare encounters organized by comrades today ‘the masses’ are noticeably absent, they don’t even enter the equation. Organized meetings or ‘talks’ as they are dully referred to are well-attended if there are 50–100 comrades. But there is no need for panic. Now all but the most disconnected fossilized anarchists have moved beyond aims of a quantitative growth in a hypothetical anarchist movement—where discourses addressed ‘to the masses’ have degenerated into an insulting populism—to the elaboration of ideas and methods addressed towards immediate action and attack on power in all its forms. Numbers have ceased to be important for anarchists as a prerequisite for attack. The illusion of ‘Le Grand Soir’ was a wonderful dream, it kept the flame flickering and thousands of militants waiting in the wings.
No, lack of numbers is no cause for alarm. They are there, the exploited, all around us—are also ‘us’—and could take us by surprise again at any moment (as could we ourselves). In the realm of the quantitative our task is to experiment and spread an insurrectional method for the self-organization of the necessary destruction of power and subjugation. Small groups with intermediate destructive aims based on affinity that can multiply, spread horizontally and coordinate, without limit. The apparent rift between anarchist theory and practice thus disappears along with the false conflict between individual and mass, and not least the conviction that the tenets of anarchism must be espoused by the exploited before they can fight for their own freedom along with that of others. An informal practice of attack leads to freedom revealing itself qualitatively, in leaps and bounds, far from the straight line of quantity, education, progress and waiting.
We have not yet reached the total eclipse of thought, analysis and methodological experimentation. What we did depart from a long time ago is ideology (fixed postulates detached from action) and organizations of synthesis, in favour of informal anarchist insurrectionalist projectuality. This includes intermediate struggles which have been gestating in embryo for too long without being fully embraced and experimented apart from a (very) few notable exceptions. The informal adventure starts from a group of comrades approaching an area of tension with a qualitative proposal of self-organised attack, introducing a methodology such that when quantity does make its appearance it is not in the form of a malleable amorphous mass, but of a multiplicity of thinking, self-organised creative/destructive individuals. Their action is therefore not reduced to simply striking the structures of the enemy but involves elaborating an informal coordination of attack to be grasped and experimented. In order to do this we need strong ideas and a methodological proposition, where words come into their own as part of the arsenal of attack.
Looted by the peddlers of abstraction into the web of illusions or immersed in the mud of leftist mystification, our words—our ideas—need to be stolen back into the totality of the struggle, from where we can revitalise them as transitory instruments to identify the enemy, ignite passions and transform reality.
Only religions—including the secular ones—invest words with the authority of eternal truth. For us, words have the meaning that we give them after decolonising them from power at a given moment, in particular conditions of the clash. They become elucidating and propulsive, help us to elaborate and actualize our attack making it discernible and multipliable. Precisely at a time when language is being flattened by power and its technologies, anarchists are in the forefront of a reduction to slogans, fetishisation and acronyms, ACAB surely winning the prize in the race for cerebral and projectual lobotomisation. We are not interested in locking up words, ourselves with them, in fortresses of identity or defending them as our property. There is no point in arguing over words. When gone into they turn out to have completely different meanings for each of those using them. We need to find our affinities on the basis of a wider language, the language of knowing, experimenting, seeking, ‘encountering what our words betray rather than illuminate, elsewhere, in our hearts, at the cost of our lives’, not through repetition and incantation.
Discourse remains and always will be a vital part of the anarchist struggle. Elaborating and elucidating concepts as well as clearing out the garbage acquired through thoughtless alliances or mental laziness is a task to be accomplished without delay. It’s not a question of holding the ‘truth’ but of finding and living out the words we need. Not in some alternative anarchist dictionary but in the depth of meaning discovered in fulfilling our destructive longing, sabotaging the existent and expropriating life from a death-orientated society. The latter is as fragile as the choreographed brutes it employs to beat up those lured into the illusion of huge spectacular demonstrations. Its capacity to continue comes from complicity and consensus, fear, complacency and habit, all worthy targets of articulated sabotage by small groups and individuals armed with few profane words and simple actions against its temples and their management. Without for that leaving the infrastructure of the Moloch intact. ‘Anyone can take a walk in the night. And then, it is also a healthy activity. Anarchists have not waited passively for the masses to awaken, they have thought of doing something themselves’.
Self-taught concerning ideas and methods, anarchists have considered public meetings and talks among the most valuable instruments of their armoury from time immemorial. Once these would take place in the rooms or place of a specific anarchist group, where a known comrade would give a contribution to some aspect of the struggle. Today, while the internet discharges emissions almost at the speed of light, the alternative movement (which anarchists often confuse themselves with) oscillates between inviting remunerated experts and organising meetings in politically correct circles, where the chatter of opinionism imbued with moral righteousness is ‘facilitated’ in the chronological order of hands raised, thereby preventing any coherent discussion, so in no way disturbing the plans of those behind the scenes. Not to be forgotten are the great mass assemblies so much in vogue, which anarchists have begun to adhere to in certain parts of the world. These are excellent stomping grounds for those with a predilection for holding the floor, arenas where discussion becomes a spectacle of verbal gymnastics among the gladiators of political rhetoric. And by default for those who ‘can’t speak in public’ (i.e. don’t have any thoughts so impelling that they will get them out, no matter at what cost to their modesty) to have their activity mapped out for them. These lyceums of unification and conformity are not even adverse to applying their oratory skills to defamation and the criminalisation of individual acts in the delegated zone of combat.
But getting back to attack… It would be absurd to take into consideration the insurrectional anarchist concept of affinity groups—based on reciprocal knowledge—if we were not prepared to discuss ideas and methods unashamedly and create the possibility to do so, both in public and in the shadows far from listening devices of all species. And some of the most interesting discussions among anarchists have never been recorded or transcribed, for obvious reasons. Not for that should we recede into a world of whispers, succumb to the deafening roar of silence or dissolve into an endless murmuring of ‘opinions on subjects we know nothing about’. Even less should we delegate everything to the academics who have embraced anarchism as a subject to be studied always approaching it with a safe dose of detachment, taking care not to offend the hand that feeds them.
In recent years with the development of an informal movement, there has been a re-awakening of the method of public meetings or encounters, both at local, national and international level. These are often the fruit of immeasurable blood sweat and tears by comrades who consider it important to create a moment for going into theoretical questions, sometimes lasting a number of days, with all the necessary preparation: posters, leaflets, finding and defending a suitable place etc. And last but not least, finding anarchists prepared to put their head above the parapet and talk in public. The encounter ‘Informal Days: International Anarchist Symposium in Mexico’, in December 2013 was a fantastic example of such an undertaking, and the fact that the ideas of certain anarchists represent a threat for power in a given context of struggle was confirmed when Alfredo Maria Bonanno was prevented from entering the country in order to participate and Gustavo Rodríguez Romero was kidnapped, tortured and expelled from Mexico during the Symposium itself.
Such encounters are indispensable instruments for an informal movement with no fixed organisational structures and are obviously ‘more than the sum of their parts’, creating occasions for every level of discussion and confrontation between comrades, not just the official talks. These events often do not materialise due to a lack of comrades prepared to put themselves on the line and express their ideas in public. But don’t we know that the choice of freedom implies the refusal of leaders or the delegation of the struggle? Going beyond self-imposed or acquired limitations? Daring to enter the unmapped territories inside and around us? We are not professionals of any of the kinds of action that the struggle requires, no matter how complex and well-executed they might turn out to be. And plunges into the elsewhere of conscious choice can procure immense joy, be it the taking back of means in order to advance a project, striking a class enemy or their servants, sabotaging some of the workings of capital or expressing our ideas in an organised public encounter. Here a tension can come to create itself among the comrades present in the squat, amphitheatre or outside in a piazza such that an intensity of focus creates an energy capable of releasing hidden treasures, ephemeral, as most of such meetings go unrecorded.
Exceptionally, the following pieces were recorded and transcribed by comrades who, deeming the discourse worthy of wider diffusion, spent hours decoding barely comprehensible registrations. It is thanks to them that many of these pages exist at all. Not forgetting the esteemed interpreters at these events, who are invisibly present in this brochure as none of the discourses transcribed were addressed to English-speaking comrades (or judges in the case of the Revolutionary Struggle trial). Their job was aggravated by the fact that the talks were off the cuff, without a written script, except for the pronouncement to the terror court in Korydallos prison in Athens. We made these unforgettable journeys together, cheerful duos or, in the latter case, players in a murderous theatre of the absurd deep in the bowels of a vile prison that counts many of our comrades among its hostages.
Putting the following texts together has been an intense undertaking, far beyond the ‘mere words’ available to who might be reading these few pages now. It has been a reliving of passionate moments with comrades in various cities of Europe and beyond, who continue along the paths of their variegated struggles.
Of the three comrades of Revolutionary Struggle who organised an international meeting while temporarily released from jail awaiting trial, two of them, Nikos Maziotis and Kostas Gournas are again hostages in the dungeons of the State, Nikos after being wounded in a shootout while on the run with a ‘bounty’ of one million euros on his head, while the third, Pola Roupa, is engaged in the total struggle of life on the run with a similar price on her freedom. Their unwavering courage and passion continue to inspire us, like that of so many other beautiful anarchist comrades near and far, locked in the cages of wretchedness or turning the world upside down in the bittersweet adventure of life in hiding.
The pernicious activity of the terror court in Korydallos continues unabated, churning out centuries of prison.
The other inclusions in this ‘work in progress’ are notes that have appeared at various moments over the past few years. They were stimulated by events or deadlines that sparked off feelings strong enough to cross the threshold from the void to words on paper that those of us who are not writers, i.e. those who do not express their ideas regularly, compulsively and disciplinedly in the written word, require.
These pages are neither a memoir nor a sentimental journey, they are a going over and sharing of some ideas, a contribution to the ongoing multiform struggle and an exhortation to all of us, in the prison cities of capital or wherever else on this stolen planet, to find our own words, reign in our passions, seek out our comrades and act.
Let’s continue the assault on the existent with all means, undeterred by those who would silence us with weapons from the stockpile of reaction, be they the kick of the democratic jackboot, the empty chatter of opinion or the siren calls of the candy men of hope.
Read the publication here with full title contents, notes:
Tame Words from a Wild Heart
Taking Back Our Lives
Passion for Freedom
Armed Struggle and the Revolutionary movement
Athens, the Revolutionary Struggle trial: Statement to the terror court of Korydallos
UK, August 2011 — the struggle against the existent continues
London, 9 December 2010 — Thousands fight against exclusion and the death society in iconoclastic revelry
The End of anarchism?
A few words…
To the Deranged (Postscript)
Tags: Alfredo M. Bonanno, Analysis, August 2011 Revolt: Anarchy in the UK, Elephant Editions, Greece, Gustavo Rodriguez, Insurrection, Interview, Jean Weir, Korydallos Prison, Kostas Gournas, London, Mexico, Pola Roupa, Revolutionary Struggle, Riots, Social Insurrection, Tame Words from a Wild Heart, UK, Zine
This entry was posted on Wednesday, February 1st, 2017 at 9:10 pm and is filed under Library.