‘Letter to a Chilean about the current situation’ by Gustavo Rodriguez
To Joaquín García Chanks and Marcelo Villarroel Sepúlveda, comrades and co-conspirators.
“… every revolutionary opinion draws its strength from the secret conviction that nothing can be changed.”
George Orwell, The Road to Wigan Pier.
“Alicia: How long does it last, forever?
White Rabbit: Sometimes just for a moment.”
Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland.
The discontent are the new starting point of the impetuous popular protests that run through the geography of the globe. Hong Kong, France, Algeria, Iraq, Haiti, Lebanon, Catalonia, Ecuador, Bolivia and Chile, are the lavish protagonists of the wave of massive urban revolts that shakes the world.
While it is true that these profuse protests have very particular triggers that explain them (specifically Hong Kong and Catalonia, with their independentist rallies), it would be naive to think that this accumulated rage is disconnected. The increase in the costs of goods and services, coupled with austerity – with its consequent loss of jobs and unequal economic survival as global growth slows down – are the common denominator of most of these mobilizations.
However, it is undeniable that these protests also share another great backdrop that far exceeds the economic analysis and that very conveniently is not addressed in the means of mass domestication and intentionally escapes the analysis of political scientists and apologists of domination: anti-government convulsion, a tiredness against those who govern and, against all political parties, whatever their ideological color. A feature that withholds the absence of leadership and / or leaders and facilitates the ephemeral realization of Anarchy.
Undoubtedly, the specific features of this last antagonistic assembly, a priori excites many comrades and fellow anarchists, who continue to analyze events through the lens of ideology and remain stranded in uneasy nineteenth-century paradigms. Nothing more lethal to ideologies than reality itself.
Obviously, that old model of anarchist society that was shaped around a framework of values, a prototype of society, a project of change and a corresponding practice, can no longer be replicated in our day.
As comrade Alfredo Bonanno well pointed out in one of his conferences held in Athens, entitled The Destruction of Work: «The first thing we must eliminate from our minds is to think that in the future, even in the case of the revolution, there is something to inherit from State and Capital. Remember the old peer analysis of twenty, thirty years ago, when it was thought that through the revolutionary expropriation of the means of production from the hands of the capitalists and their delivery to the proletarians – duly educated in self-management -, we would create the new society? Well, this is no longer possible.»(1)
Today, it is not enough with the multiplication of spontaneous revolts or with the generalization of the strike or with the triumph of a Social Revolution or with expropriating the means of production and inverting the pyramidal structures of domination so that the self-managed and libertarian conditions of coexistence are materialized as an immediate possibility.
However, we cannot settle for pointing out that the old struggles are no longer valid today.
Again, we have the same inability to always cross the line and pass once and for all to the other side. With the inability to leave the dead end that Power induces for us, to get rid of ourselves, to unravel the road and definitely give up the circular route. We then have to thoroughly review our historical scaffolding, remove the rotten and / or eroded boards by time and replace them with solid and fresh timbers.
We will have to rethink Anarchy or, think against thinking. Invert the diagrams. Thinking – Deleuze reminds us from Hell – is “throwing an arrow every time from oneself to the target that is the other, making a ray of light shine on the words, making a scream be heard in visible things. To think is to see what reaches its limit, and to speak its own (…) it is to issue singularities, to throw the dice. The dice roll expresses that thinking always comes from outside (that outside that already sank into the interstitium or constituted the common limit). Thinking is not something innate or acquired. It is not the innate exercise of a faculty, but it is not a learning that is constituted in the outside world.” (2)
For those of us who were teenagers in that iconic year of 1968 – and for those who excel me in writing almanacs and lwho live by throwing cobblestones or in much more engaging scenarios -, the exuberant revolts that occupy us today cause us a kind of déjà vécu, that is, that feeling of have “already lived”, that history repeats itself or of having faced that same experience in the past.
Indeed, mass mobilizations are not new. The demonstrations of ‘68 were also massive and formed a devastating movement of anti-authoritarian content – never planned and much less promoted by the churches of the official anarchism of that time. They overflowed the political and economic coordinates that expressed it, giving life to a civilizing crisis that put a check on the disciplinary society and anticipated the crisis of the capitalist world of the 1970s and the collapse of the welfare state.
Then the protests – equally massive – continued against the war in Indochina (Viet Nam, Laos and Cambodia). Subsequently, the Italian May of ‘77 would come, followed by the anti-nuclear demonstrations and, to close the century, in 1999, a chain of mobilizations against so-called “globalization” were unleashed internationally (Seattle, Washington, Prague, Quebec, Genoa, Barcelona, Thessaloniki, Warsaw, Guadalajara) extending until 2004.
With a much closer date in time, we saw the massive mobilizations and camps carried out by the 15-M movement, also baptized as “movement of the Indignant” (2011-2015) in the Spanish State and, its reply, the Occupy Wall Street movement (from 2011-2012); as well as the protests in Syntagma Square in Athens and those carried out by the Nuit debout movement in Paris and, even more recently, those carried out by “The yellow vests”.
Despite the answering spirit that encouraged them and their manifest expontaneity, all these mobilizations (without exception), exhausted their strong momentum by recreating the Marxist dialectic of the constituent power and, they concluded trapped in the capture devices of the system of domination. As comrade Bonanno reminds us “The machine of ’68 produced the best officials of the new techno-bureaucratic state.” (3)
Here is the portentous capacity for co-option by the structures of domination of social movements as an inexhaustible source of restoration.
Thus, we saw the transformation of the “movement of the indignant” in the squares of the Spanish State in Podemos [Spanish leftist party] to become defenders of law and order on behalf of the humble; and to Syriza [Greek leftist party], leaving the squares of Athens and implementing the austerity policies of the European Union, becoming its faithful executor once in the government. Or, to the Nuit debout calling to institute a new Constitution and, to the Occupy Wall Street movement, swelling the ranks of Bernie Sanders in his contest for the White House.
In fact, once this tally of past protests and mobilizations is made, some uncertainty arises that invites us to question whether we are really perceiving a déjà vécu, that is; if history is really repeating itself and if we have the absolute certainty that these experiences have happened before or, we are experiencing an alteration of memory that makes us believe that we remember situations that have never happened and, truly, we are facing a phenomenon never seen, never heard and not even dreamed of before.
If in May of ‘68 the protests were inspired by utopia – as well as the entire collection of mobilizations mentioned above; The absence of a utopian perspective is evident in the current mobilizations that shake the world. Anger and despair have no utilitarian motivations, they are not political or ideological(4), – they are “irrational”, they go beyond intrapolitical denial and are driven by a dystopian tension.
Although at times the protests are intermingled and confused with the citizenist demands promoted by parties and unions – always ready to join the predominant populist reaction – the negative excess that emerges from it articulates repressed passions and the erotic force of sedition, creating volatile insurrectional subjectivities that give fleeting life to Anarchy, subverting order and causing crises in control mechanisms.
Snapshots of the Chilean revolt (first approach) (5)
Since October 18 of the current year, Chile has become the epicenter of the Latin American insurrection, giving us real street battles against militias and police minions. After fifteen days of perennial revolt, the generalized insurgent fire has managed to disrupt the unclean normality that prevailed after the rigged “transition to democracy”, after long years of fascism, taxes of blood and fire by the military-corporate dictatorship of General Augusto Pinochet.
Without a doubt, the generalized insurrection that exists in Chile today is the reliable face of despair, the nihilistic gesture of those who have abandoned waiting, the explosion of anarchic rage that we have been sensing since the beginning of the century, that of a large orbit of subversive affinities, a set of accomplices and co-conspirators with vivid presence and practical experience around the world.
Beyond the thousands of graffiti’s of a fist-in-the-air that today encourages the prolonged rebellion in the cities of Santiago, Valparaíso and Concepción, the conflict manifests itself in multiple ways throughout the Chilean region.
In Santiago, in addition to the mobilization of 1.2 million protesters who have made the news in all the news – with its performative effects and its symbolic magnitude -, the regular attack on the icons of domination has materialized, discharging all the anger contained against the capitalist multinationals, destroying the merchandise, burning dozens of public transport buses, vehicles and buildings, sabotaging and burning subway stations and carrying out numerous mass expropriations in shops and supermarkets.
Continuing with the symbolic assaults, the television channel “Mega” was attacked three times by young people, masked and with incendiary devices. A statue in honor of the police was blown to pieces in the Barnechea district, along with so many other monuments – iconic symbols of domination – that have been destroyed in countless squares in the country.
Similarly, rivers of protesters have repeatedly tried to take La Moneda, facing the fierce response of militias and police. The assault on the government house has become the main objective of the social insurrection, driving some reminiscence of the taking of the Winter Palace that should call us to reflection.
Notes for a collective reflection
Why would we have to storm La Moneda? Our purpose is not to take palaces but to demolish them. Or what is the same: subtract us from Power. That is, crush every vestige of constituted power and abort any attempt at constituent power.
In this sense, it should be very clear that the convergent efforts of the red pacos and other agents of the left of Capital, with their Social Unity Board and their insistent calls to the plebiscite, to “a new Constitution with binding citizen participation” and, to the conformation of the Constituent Assembly; like the controlling attempt of the Allendist Movement for a New Constitution (6); or the repulsive convocation of the Manuel Rodríguez Patriotic Front to “the patriotic military, to the conscious police officers” to “subordinate themselves to the people and contribute to the struggle and termination of bad governments” (7); and the screaming schizoids of the Libertarian Left and, Socialism and Freedom crying for “popular unity”; Not only are they alien to our fighting goals but they represent a new attempt to perpetuate domination and strengthen Capital “with a human face.” Tentative that we must fight with the same impetus with which we face the constitutions of power.
Even before the call of the most radical wing of armed social democracy, the so-called Manuel Rodríguez-Autónomo Patriotic Front (FPMR-A) and the Revolutionary Left Movement-Guerrilla Army of the Poor (MIR-EGP), it is not only our turn to keep a healthy distance being extremely skeptical, but also to confront by all possible means it’s offer of Popular Power.
Unfortunately, there are still companions who insist on the “social” nature of the contemporary revolt and maintain their expectations in a pretend –and unrealizable in our day– libertarian society that, as Alfredo pointed out in the aforementioned conference: “I am convinced that even if “anarchy were realized”, anarchists would be critical of that constituted anarchy. Because that anarchism would be an anarchist institution, and I am sure that the vast majority of the comrades would be against that kind of anarchism”(8)
For many lovers of social struggle from the multiple and particular interpretations of anarchism, we must “understand that the struggle against capital has several fronts and forms of action” in order to move forward “towards the future, our future.”(9)
Affirmation is not only difficult to “understand” but to digest from the contemporary anarchic perspective without succumbing to reformist positions of a clear social democratic sign. Without a doubt, the members of the editorial group of this zine – and those who reproduce it almost six years later – still have faith in “our future” and for that, they do not skimp on forming alliances with “other revolutionaries” and participating in “several fronts” and in different «forms of action».
Unquestionably, when looking for alliances, the objectives are modified by means of the political justification of the struggle: a “better future”. Without repairing that faith in the future is essential to perpetuate domination. To always live in the future is precisely the traditional method of not living here and now, moving away forever from the permanent conflict implicit in the contest of anarchic warfare. That was what our Novatore has warned us for a century!
In the background, behind this positioning, the outdated institutional aspirations are housed. Faithful to the echo of the siren songs, we intuit in them as couplets of praise for freedom – which always reverberate at the dawn of every Revolution – ignoring that they are really hymns of praise to the new constituent Power.
Then, the naive elucidations will come in search of motivations and causes of “deviations”, of “betrayals” and the old history of the “betrayed revolution” will be repeated until tired, instead of glimpsing that the Revolution has never been (nor will it be) on the side of freedom but in the service of Power because every revolution is intrinsically instituting.
The Robespierre, the Committee of Public Salvation, the Lenin, the Stalin, the Castro, the KGB, are not alterations or deformations of the so-called “revolutionary processes” but their natural consequence.
Hence, our compulsive obsession to “reinvent” Anarchy, to restore theory – but above all to practice – it’s emancipatory power. Nothing more obscene in our day than abandoning Anarchy in the name of a vulgar version of postmodern “libertarian communism” to which we are invited as an alternative. We must dismantle the fetishes that keep us stranded and give up the alternatives (all alternatives for sale).
Any alternative to Anarchy is a sign of stagnation and a cowardly exit that seeks to perpetuate domination under the insidious mask of transformations.
Unfortunately, the distorted view of ideology – strongly entrenched in our stores – still invites many to conceive of anarchism as a realization (which “lasts forever”), instead of admitting that it is a dystopian tension that provides us moments of Anarchy that we have to extend through the accurate attack, but in order to crystallize the attack, to materialize the destructive will, the prior organization of the anarchic insurrection is required; that is to say, the informal articulation of small affinity groups capable of coordinating and intervening anarchically during a spontaneous insurrectional movement is needed.
Just like that, we give life to Anarchy in those ephemeral interruptions of all “normality”, extending the illegal mood, spreading chaos to the last consequences, destroying work and all the pillars of domination.
As White Rabbit (Alice in Wonderland) reminds us: Forever sometimes only lasts for a moment and it is in that time period that we must blow up all the bridges of return, burn all the return ships and burn the merchandise, demolish the recovery machine. For this we must be prepared, even if only for a fleeting instant Anarchy is merely realized, knowing that its existence is only occasional.
The goal is not to fight to establish anarchism. The essential thing is to live Anarchy in the daily struggle with that vital passion that floods us and enhances our uncompromising action, reminding the victors of the present that they will NEVER sleep in peace again.
Planet Earth, November 2, 2019.
1) Lecture given at Pantio University, Athens. Alfredo M. Bonanno, Domination and Revolt, Second edition revised and corrected with additions, Edizioni Anarchismo, Trieste, 2015. pp. 139-176
2) Deleuze, Gilles, Foucault, Ediciones Culturales Paidós, México, 2016, pp. 151-152.
3) Bonanno, Alfredo M., Armed Joy.
4) Here, again, make the distinction of the cases of Hong Kong and Catalonia, where the motivations are political and ideological.
5) For more infos – Anarquía Info (https://anarquia.info), ContraInfo (https://es-contrainfo.espiv.net) and, ANA (https://noticiasanarquistas.noblogs.org/)
6) Proto Stalinist Alliance formed by the Communist Party-Proletarian Action (PC-AP), Christian Left (IC) and, the Revolutionary Left Movement (MIR).
7) FPMR, “A provisional government, a constituent Assembly, new constitution.” Available at: https://www.fpmr.cl/web/ (Accessed 1/11/19).
8) Op.Cit., Alfredo M. Bonanno, Domination and Revolt, pp. 139-176.
9) VP, La Peste Collective, “The organization in the social struggle: a libertarian critique”, Originally published in Peste zine, No. 11, May 2013, republished by those who insist on the same canon on January 22, 2019 in Portal Oaca, Available at: https://www.portaloaca.com/opinion/14123-la-organizacion-en-la-lucha-social-una-critica-libertaria.html (Accessed 1/11/19).
This entry was posted on Thursday, December 5th, 2019 at 3:40 pm and is filed under Autonomy.