To choose to be an anarchist is to choose to create one’s life in a certain direction. It is the development of a projectuality toward freedom, self-determination, the expansion of possibilities. Such a projectuality develops itself in action, but not the action of the activist, the politician, but action that flows from one’s life and back into it. What distinguishes the anarchist revolutionary from a political activist is “ the way in which the person, the comrade who carries out these actions, succeeds in making them an expressive moment of their lives, a specific characterization, meaningfulness, quality of life, joy, desire, beauty.” What is absent from the actions of those who start and end with their own life, their own individuality, their own projectuality is calculation, the quantitative point of view, because it is a quality of life toward which the anarchist projects, a fullness of life opposed to the flattening this society imposes. If our solidarity with certain actions is critical, it is because we can see calculation creeping in. If we reject all cooperation with the media, it is because this power structure forces those who choose to participate in its activity to measure their words, draining them of substance, of energy of the force that refuses all compromise. Our actions create our lives and relations; for a life without measure, we must act without measure.
By Alfredo M. Bonanno
From Insurrection, September 1989
If anarchists have one constant characteristic it is that of not letting themselves be discouraged by the adversities of class struggle or to be enticed by the promises of power.
It will always be difficult, often impossible, to find an anarchist comrade who has given into power. This might happen as a result of torture or physical pain, never by long spells of repression or loss of heart. There is something in anarchists that prevents them from becoming discouraged, something that makes them optimistic even in the worst moments of their history. It makes them look forward to possible future outlets in the struggle, not backwards to past mistakes.
An anarchist’s revolutionary work is never exclusively aimed at mass mobilization, otherwise the use of certain methods would become subject to the conditions present within the latter in a given time. The active anarchist minority is not a mere slave to numbers but acts on reality using its own ideas and actions. There is obviously a relationship between these ideas and growth in organization, but the one does not come about as a direct result of the other.
The relationship with the mass cannot be structured as something that must endure the passage of time, i.e. be based on growth to infinity and resistance against the attack of the exploiters. It must have a more reduced specific dimension, one that is decidedly that of attack and not a rearguard relationship.
The organizational structures we can offer are limited in time and space. They are simple associative forms to be reached in the short term. In other words, their aim is not that of organizing and defending the whole of the exploited class in one vast organization to take them through the struggle from beginning to end. They should not be weighed down by ideology but contain basic elements that can be shared by all: self-management of the struggle, permanent conflictuality, attack on the class enemy.
At least two factors point to this road for the relationship between anarchist minority and mass: the class sectoralism produced by capital, and the spreading feeling of impotence that the individual gets from certain forms of collective struggle.
There exists a strong desire to struggle against exploitation, and there are still spaces where this struggle can be expressed concretely. Models of action are being worked out in practice, and there is still a lot to be done in this direction.
Small actions are always criticized for being insignificant and ridiculous against such an immense structure as that of capitalist power. But it would be a mistake to attempt to remedy this by opposing them with a relationship based on quantity rather than extending these small actions, which are easy for others to repeat. The clash is significant precisely because of the enemy’s great complexity which it modifies constantly in order to maintain consensus. This consensus depends on a fine network of social relations on all levels. The smallest disturbance damages it far beyond the limits of action itself. It damages its image, its program, the mechanisms that produce social peace and the unstable equilibrium of politics.
Each tiny action that comes from even a small number of comrades, is in fact a great act of subversion. It goes far beyond the often microscopic dimensions of what took place, becoming not so much a symbol as a point of reference.
This is the sense in which we have often spoken of insurrection. We can start building our struggle in such a way that conditions of revolt can emerge and latent conflict can develop and be brought to the fore. In this way a contact is established between the anarchist minority and the specific situation where the struggle can be developed.
We know that many comrades do not share these ideas. Some accuse us of being analytically out of date, others of not seeing that circumscribed struggle only serves the aims of power, arguing that, especially now in the electronic era, it is no longer possible to talk of revolt.
But we are stubborn. We believe it is still possible to rebel today, even in the computer era.
It is still possible to penetrate the monster with a pinprick. But we must move away from the stereotypical images of the great and mass struggles, and the concept of the infinite growth of a movement that is to dominate and control everything. We must develop a more precise and detailed way of thinking. We must consider reality for what it is, not what we imagine it to be. When faced with a situation we must have a clear idea of the reality that surrounds us, the class clash that such a reality reflects, and provide ourselves with the necessary means in order to act on it.
As anarchists we have models of intervention and ideas that are of great importance and revolutionary significance, but they do not speak for themselves. They are not immediately comprehensible, so we must put them into action, it is not enough to simply explain them.
The very effort of providing ourselves with the means required for the struggle should help to clarify our ideas, both for ourselves and for those who come into contact with us. A reduced idea of these means, one that limits itself to simply counter-information, dissent and declarations of principle, is clearly inadequate. We must go beyond that and work in three directions: contact with the mass (with clarity and circumscribed to the precise requirements of the struggle); action with the revolutionary movement (in the subjective sense already mentioned); construction of the specific organization (functional to both work with the mass and to action within the revolutionary movement).
And we need to work very hard in this direction.
We print the most recent ELF communiqués below in solidarity with the elves of the night. There has been an upsurge of ELF activity in the past two years. These actions have been a blow to the companies targeted, raising the insurance premiums of capitalist scum!! The ELF is not a group; anyone can choose to claim an action with that name. Those who claim ELF actions may not know others who do the same. But why does anyone use the ELF name at all? When an action is claimed by the ELF a rebellious action is reduced from multiple and dynamic motivations to a single cause. This reduction is partially achieved by the person who signs ELF, in doing so she reduces an action (potentially) against capital in general to an action against particularly environmentally offensive companies: the name Earth Liberation Front states its focus as explicitly on the environment. The ELF by definition specializes its rebellion. Or the action is reduced by the media, to an action perpetrated by the most monstrous of eco-terrorists: an action becomes an image. Of course the media will do this regardless in any case of sabotage, but the ELF has a specific image and a media spokesperson that unintentionally contributes to its perpetuation. So the use of the name ELF has become part of the media circus. Their spokesperson has surely explain ELF actions from his own point of view, but not surprisingly, the media insists on the images which are most useful to its aims. ELF actions are an example of sabotage accomplished with easily accessible materials and means, yet these actions have caused considerable damage! This shows us that we could so the same.
For us the individual that rebels, the individual that revolts against this world that is too petty to contain his dreams, is not interested in limiting his own potentiality, but if possible, would extend it to infinity. Thirsty for freedom, greedy for experience, he who revolts is in constant search for new affinities, for new instruments to experiment with, with which to assault the existent and subvert it from its very foundation. This is because the insurrectional struggle should find stimulus and energy in our capacity to always fill its arsenal with new arms, outside and against any reductive specialization. The gun experts are like the book experts, or squatting experts, or any others; they are boring because they always talk and only about themselves and about their favorite means. And this is why we don't give privilege to any instrument over others, we love and support innumerable actions, use the most disparate means, that daily occur against domination and its structures. Because revolt is like poetry: and should be done by everyone, not by only one person, he who is the most expert.
And therefore this clash... loses any liberatory significance, any breath of life, when all of its upsurge is reduced to the promotion of a program and an acronym that is bought in the market of politics....To he who has no commodities to sell, of what use are lit up signs?
Recent ELF Communiques:
Greetings from the Earth Liberation Front.
We are claiming responsibility for the second attack upon C S McRossan's machinery. In the early morning hours of Sun. Oct 3 (’99), the ELF entered the construction site on highway 55 in Minneapolis where the company is working. Machines that were found with accessible holes had sand poured into the oil, the draining of them. Three machines had hoses and wires cut before the elves escaped into the night. This follows an attack earlier in the week on Mon Sept 27 when a visit was paid to CS McRossan's offices in Maple Grove, where we slashed conveyor belts and damaged machinery. We see highway 55 as symbolic of the larger system that is strangling us of our air and water. The NAFTA superhighway and the roads into the forests are all a symptom of the sick capitalist system that puts profits before people or ecosysytems. As long as the trees continue to fall, so will the profits made of this project. This is just the beginning of a new level of battling against highway 55 and car culture. We urge the elves of MN and the world to unite against the profit hauling infrastructures around the globe. Target machines, offices, and equipment used to build roads. We are everywhere and we are watching. We will be back.
Boise Cascade has been very naughty. After ravaging the forests of the Pacific Northwest, Boise Cascade now looks toward the virgin forests of Chile. Early Christmas morning (‘99), elves left coal in Boise Cascade’s stocking. Four buckets of diesel and gas with kitchen timer delay destroyed their regional headquarters in Monmouth, Oregon. Let this be a lesson to all multinational corporations who don’t respect their ecosystems. The elves are watching.
In the early hours of February, 9 the Earth Liberation Front paid a visit to Green Hall at the University of Minnesota in St. Paul, MN. The target was transgenetic oat research crops. The research was being done by University professors David Sommers and Howard Rines. All the oats found in the greenhouse were destroyed, messages were spray painted, and the locks were glued on the way out. Oat research is simply one of the projects that the University is taking part in, in partnership with gross corporations that are adding to the destruction of the Earth. Let this action be a warning to the University of Minnesota and the entire biotech industry, that if you continue to destroy the biodiversity on the Earth your profits will continue to fall.
The elves are always watching. Stop genetic engineering or we will.
For Freedom and Wilderness,
Earth Liberation Front