"Between tactical dogma and strategic expectations I choose neither the one nor the other, for I would be transforming anarchism, which for me is an ethic, a way of seeing and living life, into an ideal to be realized at any cost, whereas there can be no separation between theory and practice."
"I believe that the anarchist choice cannot be subordinated to future events but that it must during its actual course bear the mark of difference, pleasure, dignity." --Massimo Passamani
Fairly frequently in anarchist circles, one will hear calls for us to be more effective, to act more strategically. Undoubtedly, there is a place for such calls, particularly when there seems to be so much confusion about a revolutionary anarchist project is and so little creative intelligence aimed at creating one. But most of the time in these calls for strategy and effectiveness the significance of choosing to be an anarchist and the meaning of an insurrectional project get lost precisely because of the lack of a clear understanding of what these would mean in our lives. Thus, such calls often end up producing an instrumental logic that parallels that of capitalism and the state and can even reach the point where some anarchists call for voting or writing letters petitioning congress people, judges and other authorities to take action for us. It is therefore necessary to clarify some basic principles of anarchist thought and practice and, thus, lay the foundation for an anarchist insurrectional project.
While the basic meaning of anarchy is the simple negation of all rule, the positive aim would be the freedom of each individual to determine how she will live directly through his own activity in relation with those with whom she chooses to interact and create the conditions of life. Such a vision demands a practice in which it already exists. Thus, before considering strategy, tactics and effectiveness, we want to develop a methodology by which to create our lives and struggles in terms of this vision. Since this vision is one of the destruction of all rule and the development of self-determined lives and relationships, the methodology of our struggle needs to reject compromise and negotiation with power as well as the delegation of our ability to act to any so-called representative, leader or organization. Thus, the basic elements of an insurrectional and anarchist methodology would include: direct action--acting directly to achieve the aim desired rather than making demands to an authority to act in one's place; autonomy--the refusal to allow any formal organization with its prescribed ideology and program of action to determine how one will struggle, but rather organizing one's activities informally with others who choose to act together to accomplish their aims; attack--the refusal of any compromise, mediation or accommodation with those in power, always recognizing them as the enemies of self-determination and their offers of negotiation as ploys to undermine revolt. This methodology offers no guarantees that large-scale insurrection will develop or succeed, but it does guarantee that any struggle carried out this way is self-determined, the activity of those in struggle and not of their self-proclaimed leaders and representatives. Those who take this as a basis for their activity in the world will be creating their lives for themselves--in struggle against the world as it is and against all odds. When this methodology is used in constant struggle against specific concrete aspects of power, it is the basis for developing a project aimed at building an anti-authoritarian, anti-capitalist insurrection.
So it is only on the basis of such a clear anarchist vision and the development of a methodology that reflects this vision, that questions of tactics, strategy and effectiveness have meaning. The various methods of petition and negotiation--letters and phone calls to representatives (of power), litigation, symbolic appeals to the conscience of the powerful, etc.--may, indeed, be effective in "freeing" a particular prisoner, stopping a particular development, protecting a particular 100 acres of forest or gaining a particular civil right, but by delegating the actual decisions to the masters of this world, these methods undermine self-determination. Our aim is the destruction of a social order in which prisons exist and spread the atmosphere of imprisonment throughout the social terrain, in which the necessity for economic expansion has precedence over the health of the planet and joy in life, in which the only options offered to us are those which enhance power and capital at our expense, in which one can only find freedom in a struggle that defies all odds against the entire order of existence that has been imposed on us. Effective action toward this aim is action that defines itself in terms of our desire to determine our existence for ourselves here and now. Anything else will only reinforce power, and from the standpoint of insurrectional anarchist practice that is not only ineffective and poor strategy, but immediately self-defeating in the strongest sense of that term.