‘Letter to a Chilean about the current situation (II)’ by Gustavo Rodriguez
—To Joaquín García Chanks and Marcelo Villarroel Sepúlveda, comrades and co-conspirators.
“For I am the sworn poet of all the intrepid rebels of the entire world,
And whoever comes with me leaves peace and routine behind,
And you play to lose your life every moment.”
Walt Whitman, To a frustrated European revolutionary (1856), Leaves of Grass.
“… where there is danger, what grows saves us.”
Friedrich Hölderlin, Patmos.
A month and six days after the insurrection began, Anarchy is still alive in the Chilean region. It is an unprecedented event in Chile and Latin America. It has been the kairos of Anarchy: the emancipatory moment that occurs in the relevant time and place, the bold incarnation of a pronounced denial of the State and of all authority.
The echo of the old anarchic slogan “Neither God nor State nor Patriarchy” rumbled throughout the southern geography and has made hearts vibrate from Cape Horn to the banks of the Sama and Camarones rivers.
It is evident that in their daily subversive work, the insurrectionary anarchism of the informalist tendency, maximized their potentialities and also explored their difficulties and their own limits, using ephemeral junctions – mutating from one place to another – that allowed them (via conflict and various contingencies) to sketch out the chromatic possibilities of their theoretical-practical background and, encourage unmanageable disobedience, concentrating specifically on individual actions and / or small affinity groups aimed at attack and expropriation.
However, dynamite was missing. Diesel and gasoline failed. The attack was spared. There was a lack of expropriations. The headquarters of ALL political parties were not demolished. No prisons or madhouses were assaulted. We lashed out at the symbols but missed the target. A gigantic bonfire is still pending for the hundreds of flags that are seen on the marches (including the red and black ones, because ALL the flags are full of blood and shit). This shortage has allowed the power of denial to divert to be “triumphant”, instead of injecting the conflict with life and going beyond the institutional songs that already threaten to impose the peace of the grave.
Today, the neutral point of the insurrection begins to reveal itself clearly. The mixture of two elements does its thing and the complete snapshot emerges, showing us the impasse in its right dimension. Understanding it will be a huge leap from the anarchist pedagogy that can contribute to the awakening of the dogmatic drowsiness in which a considerable sector of the so-called “anarchist movement” is mired.
The shock power of an insurrection is not measured by its effects or resides in the quantitative growth of the insurgents, but in what radiates ipso facto of it. It resides in the vitality of its force of negation, in its offensive mood, in the sharpness of action, which makes the insurrection a different symbolic rite.
The feracity of anarchic action resides in itself, which is why it feeds audacity, feeds destructive creativity and advocates subversive will, multiplying anti-authoritarian violence and illegalist practice.
Snapshots of the revolt (second approach) (1)
As expected from the first day of the insurrection, the repression was not long in coming. So far, according to the official figures themselves, there are more than 20 dead, 5 of them resulted from being shot by the repressive forces; 6500 people detained, of which 759 are minors; 2391 wounded (41 by shots fired from firearms, 964 by less-lethal rounds, including 222 with eye injuries – those who have lost sight in one eye or become completely blind. 909 people were injured as the result of brutal beatings) and; hundreds of women raped and sexually assaulted. It was discovered that the Policía de Investigación (PDI) installed a torture center in the Arauco Quilicura shopping centre, where hundreds of protesters arrested during the riots were tortured.
For their part, the insurgents have attacked military barracks, police stations, toll booths, churches, supermarkets and other commercial facilities with firearms and handcrafted devices; They have managed to shoot down police surveillance drones with the help of hundreds of laser pointers.
Thanks to the timely diligence of hackers and the application that revealed the residence of many uniformed men, attacks on police houses across the region have multiplied: in Viña del Mar, hooded people attacked the residence of a police commander and several houses of uniform were spraypainted with death threats and their vehicles destroyed. In San Antonio, the Tejas Verdes barracks were attacked and part of their facilities burned down. In Chiguayante, a group of insurgents broke into the homes of some policemen, destroying everything they found in their path. In Quinta Normal, a policeman was stabbed at his residence and, in the town of Lo Hermida, the police station was attacked, with an outcome of six wounded policemen.
While police officers doze in their cars, they are constantly assaulted with incendiary devices, an easy-to-replicate practice that has begun to spread to several neighborhoods. During the protests in the city of Rancagua, they threw a dynamite cartridge at a patrol of carabineros that did not explode. In the town of La Victoria, district of Pedro Aguirre Cerda, in the southern center of Santiago, a uniformed house was set on fire, as in the province of Coyhaique, where properties owned by carabineros were attacked with dozens of incendiary bombs.
In the heart of Santiago, hooded men attacked the Parish of the Assumption and used furniture and images of the Saints to make barricades; they burned the Church of the Sacramentines and, the Church of Veracruz in the Barrio Lastarria, declared a “historical monument” during the fascist dictatorship of General Augusto Pinochet. Valparaíso Cathedral was also attacked by a crowd, burning some of its doors, destroying benches, altars and the baptism font. In Puerto Montt, during the early hours of Wednesday the 20th, hooded men attacked the Graciela Bórquez pastoral house, in the heart of the city and, in the Coihuin area, burned the house of priest Luis Izquierdo who’s accused of sexual abuse.
In addition to the Catholic churches – consistent with anarchic practice and as a tribute to the famous Kropotkian phrase (“The only church that illuminates is the one that burns”) – several evangelical temples were burned and destroyed, highlighting the attack on October 28 in the city of Santiago of the recording studios and offices of the Ministry of Communications GRACIA TV, in Santa Rosa. The same day and in the same neighborhood the Church Blessed to Bless and, the Church International Ministry for the Family (MINFA), a dependency of the Mercure Hotel, in Santiago Centro, were attacked. In Valparaíso, on October 20, the International Restoration Center (CRI-Chile) was attacked by hooded men and, on October 26, the Presbyterian Church of Valparaíso. In Temuco, at the dawn of October 20, the Assemblies of God Church was attacked and; in Araucanía, in the rural sector of the Púa, the Christian and Missionary Alliance Church.
In the city of Los Andes, a hooded crowd expropriated a pharmacy to bring diapers, medications and cleaning supplies to a nursing home.
As concerns any anti-authoritarian insurrection, politicians have also been targeted by insurgent attacks regardless of the ideological color of their parties. In Talca, hooded people burned the parliamentary seat of ultra-right senator Juan Antonio Coloma of the Independent / Popular Democratic Union Party (UDI / P). In total, eight UDI offices and two National Renovation sites have already been attacked. On Friday 22, a group of demonstrators from the Assembly of Feminists of Arica, attacked the senator of the Socialist Party, José Miguel Insulza, with paint and spit, at the gates of Radio Cappísima and; In the early hours of today in Punta Arenas, an affinity group attacked the La Idea Community Space, parliamentary headquarters of Deputy Gabriel Boric of Social Convergence with incendiary bombs.
Despite the growing subversive dynamism and the leading participation of insurrectional anarchism, some communiqués from groups similar to the informal tendency point to paranoid behaviors in certain “comrades” who support conspiracy theories, in absurd theses on supposed coups and other fanciful omens, call for demobilization and begin to generate fear creating a climate of early defeat.
This psychosis managed to penetrate some sectors formed in “the ominous citizen culture of believing that each attack is a montage” and they began to accuse trusted comrades of being “undercover agents.”
At the same time, the strategies promoted by the system of domination through its means of mass domestication have been adopted by the citizen-protesters who carry out an anti-hooded paramilitary work that only benefits our enemies. This counter-insurgent atmosphere caused a group of these protesters to brutally beat a young man and hang him from the Pio Nono Bridge, accusing him of being an undercover policeman without the slightest foundation.
Unfortunately, these nefarious attitudes also still prevail with great roots in our scenes, particularly in those scenes contaminated with liberal discourse and among those who are assumed as an integral part of the so-called “left.”
The traps of peace: Coincidentia Oppositorum
As Bakunin put it: “I think I have tried, and events will soon prove better than I have been able to do”(2), that, the Chilean spring begins to move towards a certain exhaustion. The unmanageable disobedient fire is being stifled. The anarchic flame begins to languish. The oxygen that gave life to Anarchy is depleted.
In his Letters to a Frenchman about the current crisis, Bakunin recommended “the immediate non-political action of the people, for the mass uprising of the entire French people, spontaneously organizing from the bottom up, for the war of destruction, the wild war to knife”(3); but his exhortation dates from 1870 and, definitely, one hundred and forty-nine years have not passed in vain. In fact, Bakunin himself would end his days very disappointed with the “mass” and, he would bet more on the coordination of related wills, emphasizing the conspiracy of unmanageable minorities and propaganda by the deed.
In our times, we cannot give into the slightest illusion about the “masses.” We well know how voluntary servitude acts. If the generalized insurrection and “the war of destruction” were verified, “the wild war with a knife” took place, the end of the film is already known in advance. A few seconds before the title appears: The End, the Pied Piper of Hamelin emerges who guides the herd of rodents at will.
The dangerous thing about the “mass” is its malleability. Just as easily as the liberal democrats shape it, it is also modeled by religious leaders and dictators. Its enormous plasticity allows it – without distinction – to promote the most intrepid libertarian deeds or to enliven the most obscene fascism.
Participationist ideology always plays its role and ends up retaking the reins through the machinery of co-option.
It is enough to keep an eye on the blockbuster that since yesterday navigates in networks with a tendency to viralize in record time, entitled “The United People, A New Dawn”(4), to corroborate the reliable intentions of the control devices of the system domination. Right there, from a seemingly insignificant narrative, the counter-insurgency work comes alive.
This explains the requirement of a wide angle view to be able to include in the photo the parliamentarians of all the tendencies that today pose smiling for «the agreements reached». From Wall Street to Zurich, the powerful applaud the cohesion of the political class. Historical! They emphasize to the heights the covers of the printed newspapers, announcing the fall of the Pinochet Constitution. The irreducible “Plaza de la Dignidad” (formerly Plaza Baquedano or Plaza Italia) is magically covered at dawn by an immense white canvas as a symbol of peace.
The Marxist dialectic of constituent power begins to monopolize the struggle. The negotiating role of the Social Unity Board is not accidental. The way out of the “crisis” on the left is the ideal recipe to give continuity to our global capitalist paradise. The “national populism” – whether from “right” or “left” – is the solution. From Latin America to Europe they impose it on us as the only way of “restructuring”, that is, the way to sell us more capitalism (but now “with a human face”, off course).
That is why the call to “popular unity” through a mellow sononete who rescues the Quilapayún trova with the help of a new musical arrangement – with some Soviet reminiscence -, coupling a panfletary lyric that reiterates to exhaustion “the country is forging unity”(5)
Despite the brief stanzas of a couple of ‘hip hoppers’ in the service of vernacular patriotism (“We are not from the right or from the left / we are not of that shit” and, “we determine ourselves as humans without parties” (6)), the hand that rocks is unquestionable the cradle. The images of the video clip are axiomatic: a massive and varied march dressed in Chilean flags and (to a lesser extent) Mapuches, showing at the end of the countless countless banners and cardboard demands recording a wide range of citizenist demands and, closing, with a clasp of gold, a gigantic national flag with the motto:“Let’s go! Chile does not give up”(7).
By way of preliminary conclusion
Some comrades believe that it is not yet time to draw conclusions and that we must expect that “the waters take their course and the results of the insurrection are verified”(8). They assure that «the new Constitution, the new Constituent Assembly, the impending fall of Piñera»(9) and, the whole set of political changes that follow one another, are the core of the «popular triumph that will transform Chilean society forever»(10).
These “comrades” insist that they “think clearly before issuing comments”(11) so as to appreciate the outcome.
Beyond the use of common places and the abuse of cheesy images, it is clear to me that those who think so are betting on the restoration of normalcy.
On the contrary, I consider that the time of thinking is now: in the heat of the moment, reconciling the reflexive act with the excitement of the fight, with the fire in the eyes and even with the black hands for the residues of gunpowder. And, consequently, I pronounce:
In these days when some already celebrate the “popular triumph,” it is when we understand that our lack of freedom will continue to curse us with a new face, with a new Constitution and, probably, under a new government. It is then when we perceive that our goal was never the subsidy of public transport or a rise in wages or pensions or new job opportunities or the end of precarity or free education; It is when we reveal – before ourselves, those we know and strangers – that our struggle was never for a National Health Insurance or for a new Constitution or for a Constituent Assembly or against corruption or for democratic transparency or for parliamentary participation or for the sensitization of pacos or for the powerful arrive of a popular government and, much less for a new homeland.
All these sets of citizenist demands were only the pretext to exacerbate rage and unleash the libertarian passions, the sublime situation to spread chaos and give life to Anarchy. We, the anarchists, do not fight for reforms. The anarchic struggle takes place outside the sphere of legal “rights.” That’s why I think the war has to continue.
Perhaps the days on the barricades and mass expropriations ended but the time has come for the natural decantation that will potentiate the action of a reduced unmanagable hardcore that once again confirms the dynamic relationships of affinity groups and the relevance of those in solidarity. Our war is against all Authority, for the end of merchandise, for the liquidation of production and against all harmfulness, for the destruction of work, for the destruction of the enemy.
The time has come to banish from our stores the mask of political correctness and the anarcho-leftist attitudes that have been so expensive to solve. Our actions do not require the acceptance and empathy of the crowd. As a well-known Bonanno question goes, how much does it cost us to wear the mask of revolutionary respectability?(12)
“Anarchists often do not present themselves as they really are. They do not say immediately: we are anarchists, we want to destroy the enemy. They are usually softer, so as not to scare those who are listening. Because they think that quantitative growth can strengthen the anarchist movement, they believe that in this way anarchists, who today are one hundred or one thousand, tomorrow may be ten thousand, one hundred thousand, and make the revolution possible.”(13)
In a three-pole world (USA/China/Russia), where paradoxically, “opposite” ideological programs are no longer confronted but three variations of a predatory capitalist expansionism with common interests and enemies (14), it is very clear that there is no alternative, there is a no viable “triumph”. There is no possible revolution, only a world to destroy.
Given this, the question of rigor in the subject at hand as to where is Chile going? That is, what intentions really underlie the slogan “Come on! Chile does not surrender” which appears as an epigraph on the gigantic flag with which the aforementioned video clip ends.
To answer this question, perhaps there are those who recommend us to review beforehand the “predictions” of some postmodern libertarian Marxists who glimpse in “accelerationism” the collapse of capitalism through its over-development and which is a supposed sign of post-capitalism through the development of capitalism itself into a global post-industrial transition to a Collaborative Age (where the biosphere will be regenerated and “a more just, more humanized and more sustainable global economy for all human beings on Earth”)(15).
Undoubtedly, these optimistic seers who claim that after the wave of planetary insurrections the end of capitalism is envisaged, they only try to appease and distract us along the path of “social construction,” knowing that we will not compromise in our efforts to destroy everything. It oppresses us because our struggle is for total liberation.
We are aware that we are witnessing the end of an economic cycle and this entails multiple transformations that generate exclusion, frustrations and hopelessness. The “Washington consensus” has concluded, giving way to a multi-centric model of global capitalism. The United States, China, Russia, Europe and, in a certain way, Latin America(16), represent specific models of global capitalism that expand without limits to all the ends of the Earth.
Despite the “specific characteristics” of each of these countries or blocks of countries, they all leave the market economy intact, which reduces in practice the “differences” in the way to which each particular project represses the local antagonisms that emerge from the dynamics of global capitalist development.
The rapid progress of capitalism from Congo to Ecuador is irrefutable. China and Viet Nam are reliable examples of its rapid growth. Despite all the auguries, capitalism is renewed with every “crisis” and keeps getting healthier. Which leads us to conclude that whatever the outcome of this insurrection may be, Chile is moving inexorably towards more capitalism.
Thus, the “future” (17) that predicts the remix of El Pueblo Unido, is reduced to more of the same but now, probably from the hand of the left. «The light / of a red dawn» (18) announcing «the life that will come» (19) is nothing but the strange scarlet luminosity of the toxic fog of the main Chilean cities (20), the warning of the environmental catastrophe that is approaching due to the high industrial pollution , the ruthless mining and vehicular overload, all work and grace of capitalist depredation and; “Life will come”, consequently, but it will be post-apocalyptic, by then, and we will surely have to thank Monsanto for the provision of fruits and vegetables at affordable prices, at the dawn of a collaborative capitalism.
However, this certainly does not frighten us. On the contrary, it invites us to abandon all utopian typecasting and to reaffirm Anarchy in the 21st century as a permanent field of war. Recognize that there is no alternative, it is not a call to limp behind but the guttural expression that incites us to an anarchic approach with the knife held between the teeth, a proposal of daily war: all the immanent reasons to make Anarchy alive in the here and now, until that there is no trace of any institution or authority.
Planet Earth, November 24, 2019.
Unavoidable postscript: The enemy of Anarchy in Chile is no longer the repressive government of Piñera (with its murderous pacos in the street and bayonet militias at the ready) but those who sincerely celebrate the “triumph” and begin to play the card of the Constituent Assembly and sharpen their fangs for April 2020. The new enemy is that instituting force that begins to show its face. Fighting it – with the same fury with which the current powers have been confronted – is the objective. There is little time and much to destroy. No seat of the Communist Party has been set on fire, nor has deputy Boris Barrera been given his much deserved shit bath.
1) From information gathered from the communiqués of different affinity groups and/or groups housed in the related portals Anarquía Info, ContraInfo and, ANA, and through epistolary exchange with dear comrades, witnesses and protagonists of the events.
2) Bakunin, Miguel, Letters to a Frenchman about the current crisis, August 25, 1870, included in: Complete works, volume I, La Piqueta Editions, Madrid, 1977, P.55.
3) Ibídem, P.78.
4) Download https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IUOF9wxrYFI
8) Those who sign the letter in question do not deserve to be cited and require a much more forceful on-site response than I can give them in this way.
12) Conference multicited in my previous letter, given at Pantio University, Athens. Collection in: Alfredo M. Bonanno, Domination and Revolt, second edition revised and corrected with additions, Edizioni Anarchismo, Trieste, 2015. pp. 139-176
14) Or at least, they try to make us believe. The United States, China, Russia and even Iran share interests in the fight against ISIS and its international cells, although in reality they simulate fighting it with the aim of crushing their true enemies.
15) Such is the case of Jeremy Rifkin and his so-called “collaborative commons” – which has permeated so much in our stores – where he identifies a new mode of production and exchange that renounces market relations and private property, in the hands of the “Internet of things” and with the advantages of a society of almost zero marginal cost giving way to “sustainable cornucopia”. For more information, Vid., Rifkin, Jeremy, The Society of Zero Marginal Cost: The Internet of Things, the Collaborative Commons and the Eclipse of Capitalism, Paidós, Barcelona, 2014.
16) Without fear of being wrong, we can affirm that in Latin America, populist capitalism is on the rise. Cuba, Nicaragua, Venezuela and the Bolivia of deposed Evo Morales are concrete examples of State Capitalism in the 21st Century. The New Man has suffered a resounding metamorphosis and has become a Capitalist Homo-species, ready to devastate and destroy the Earth. That old Cuban joke of the late seventies makes sense: “the worms have returned transformed into butterflies.”
17) For those futile coincidences of life the letter of the remix has been suggestively hosted at: https://www.marxists.org/subject/art/music/lyrics/es/el-pueblo.htm
20) Chile has nine of the ten most polluted cities in Latin America (Padre las Casas, Osorno, Coyhaique, Valdivia, Temuco, Santiago, Linares, Rancagua and Puerto Montt). https://radio.uchile.cl/2019/03/06/ciudades-chilenas-son-las-mas-contaminadas-de-sudamerica/
This entry was posted on Sunday, December 8th, 2019 at 6:09 pm and is filed under Autonomy.