AND SO WE CONTINUE
As anarchists, it would be useful for us to consider to what the extent events of September 11 have really changed things for us. There have certainly been some effects, and the media paints a drastic picture of the situation, but we hopefully know better than to buy into media folderol.
Since I revived Willful Disobedience at the beginning of January 2000, I have been writing about various repressive tactics of the state. One of the most significant in the area of propaganda and policing has been its increasing use of the word “terrorism” to describe certain types of direct action. This has gone hand-in-hand with attempts to label such actions as “hate crimes” and to claim that those who carry them out are members of a criminal organization. Such tactics not only serve the purpose of making those who carry out direct actions seem frightening to the public, but, more significantly, allow for drastically higher sentences for what would normally be minor misdemeanors, thus keeping potential rebels out of the way—if they are caught. “Anti-terrorist” police activities have been going on in the Northwest and other areas where sabotage and other forms of direct action are common for years. These activities involve surveillance, wiretapping, harassment, searches and so on. The attempt to quash any real rebellion before it spreads too far has led to one person being sentenced to 7 years in prison for throwing a rock at a cop during a riot and another being sentenced to 23 years for setting fire to three SUV’s in Oregon, not to mention other lengthy sentences. Then there were the shootings in Gothenburg and Genoa. The rulers of our current existence know that their power rests on violence, on perpetually assuming that we are their enemy and carrying on an unceasing social war through their armed guard-dogs, regardless of whether we are actually fighting back or not; when we show any signs of rebellion, of having a will of our own, they move to suppress it.
So in this light what have the events of September 11 actually done? First and foremost, we need to realize that they have made no qualitative changes in the methods and strategies of the state. Rather the current atmosphere of fear (reinforced by state and media propaganda) provides an opportunity for the federal government of the United States to put various policies into effect on a national level that have been experimented with on state levels for years. It can also take steps to legalize police practices it has already been using against us without regard for its own laws, increase specific types of surveillance and generally introduce more intense social control. The newly passed counter-terrorism law is certainly a draconian measure and will have significant effects on our struggle, but the change is one of the rapidity with which a process that has been going on for years is able to develop. The events of September 11 have simply allowed the government to carry this process out more quickly and openly than it could before by providing a climate in which it can gain general social approval for such repressive measures.
The attack of September 11 is itself simply an extension of the normal functioning of our current existence. It has been said before that capitalism is always survival on the brink of disaster. The reality of technological development that can never really quite be controlled guarantees that this situation will continue, and we will always be placed into the hands of experts who will find a solution to the latest catastrophe that itself inevitably creates the next one. What gives these attacks the appearance of being different is that they were so clearly carried out intentionally with the aim of causing deaths. But industrial and technological development is also carried out intentionally and it has been decades since it could be claimed that those pursuing this development are not aware of the damage and death it causes—without even considering how much technology is developed for the military with the explicit intention of causing death. And again, in this situation, the catastrophe is portrayed as something beyond us, requiring the intervention of experts—in this case, military, intelligence and police agencies. When one considers that the terror network that is most probably responsible for these attacks was largely a creation of the CIA, it doesn’t take much thought to realize that the usual cycle is in effect. The disaster of our current existence continues.
When the state shows its teeth, particularly in a time like the present one, when the state is instituting increased policing and social control with the approval of a populace that will repeat the lines they’ve heard about the necessity of such humiliating measures, it is easy for those who openly oppose the state and its policies to feel vulnerable. But if we recognize that what is happening is not a qualitative change, but simply an intensification of the normal functioning of the state, it should be clear that this is not a time for our revolutionary project to hide its head, but rather a time for it to intensify and become more focused and clear of its aims and possibilities. The only thing that has ever hindered any state from practically carrying out its repressive projects has been the uncompromising revolt of those who oppose it. If we consider that war is the normal functioning of the state, it should be clear that opposition to the war would most reasonably take the form of opposition to the state. And since the peace of the state is the ongoing social war of the ruling class against the rest of humanity and the natural world, it becomes clear that the pacifist agenda is useless against this war. It is nothing but a moral high ground from which to watch the capitalist demolition of the world—“Well at least my hands are clean,” they say as corpses pile up around them. The state, capital and the entire social order these powers create continue their project of domination, repression and perpetual disaster without a pause. We too must continue our project of total revolt aimed at the destruction of the state and of this entire stinking society, without respite and without compromise. Or accept survival on the edge of catastrophe forever.