Monday, 18 July 2011

Afraid of our roots

Fobia del principio, Machette no. 6 9/2010

Anarchism asserted itself within the First International as a movement of revolt against the centralized, authoritarian and State-centred Marxist tendencies. Later marxism specialized in electoral politics while anarchism developed a vigorous anti-parliamentarian character. In its first decades of life, militant anarchism was a revolutionary movement advocating a social system based on libertarian communism, which was to be achieved through social revolution, i.e. through the destruction of the State and of all orders and privileges, by recourse to the direct action of individuals along with the oppressed, dispossessed masses. The project was too plain to offer anything to political calculation, too radical to allow niches to the comfortable liberalism of well-heeled revolutionaries, too intransigent to make itself available to the intrigues of opportunism. In order to be carried out, this project required that one’s ideas be resolute and steady, it required determination and unselfishness, all things that were rare among the avid crowd of political adventurers. Our first comrades were good-hearted, honest intellectuals and intelligent and generous workers, always ready, the former as well as the latter, to take up arms and struggle for the triumph of anarchy. Until the first wave of revisionism came over.

Anarchy was a great and beautiful fancy. The ultimate goal of human progress, without any doubt. But its pride and sublime negations made it inaccessible to common mortals, the ascetic intransigence of its supporters besieged any chance for action through an insuperable barrier of inhibitions, thus making them impotent, making it a monastery of a new order with neither god nor future. It was necessary to reconsider one’s positions, get rid of the rigid interpretation of principles and make contact with everyday life and all the workers. Any little exception to the ‘holy scriptures’ of anarchy would be largely offset by the results.

To present oneself as a candidate in protest – the revisionists of that time insinuated – can usefully get

our best standard bearers out from jails and islands where they have been condemned to inertia; a parliamentary mandate offers an important forum to our most intelligent members, from which they can talk to the multitudes, give incalculable propaganda advantages to our groups and the possibility to keep our ‘orators’ in perpetual circulation all over the peninsula, protected by parliamentary immunity. This is what the first to be scornful of the principles were like. By preaching independence from the inflexible chain of anarchist principles, these people ended up subjugating themselves to the anti-anarchist principles of parliamentarian socialism, which was bourgeois and monarchic.

When one slides down the slope of transition and opportunism, no matter how these are concealed by allurements, one knows where one starts off from but not always where one will end up.

Then the wave of syndicalism arrived. The pressing ‘need’ was still the same: to get out of the inertia caused by rigid coherence of principles and establish contact with the exploited and oppressed masses so that the latter could be initiated to the propaganda of the anarchist ideal. Anarchism had produced martyrs and heroes. But not everybody has got it in them to be a martyr or a hero; nor are the latter sufficient to crown social revolution with triumph. And given that at a certain moment the influence of anarchists in unions had served to oppose the degenerative progression of parliamentarian socialism, it was urgent to consolidate the positions conquered, to strengthen the presence of anarchists in the unions, to become able to direct the mass of producers towards the goals of social revolution at the right moment and according to the fundamental criteria of Anarchy.

What does it matter if the authority of leaders of crowds is required to achieve such results, if an administrative bureaucracy must be imposed, and if all the organs and functions of the State must be reproduced on a smaller scale. A ‘little’ exception to principles will be greatly compensated by immense advantages.

We have seen this. The ‘revisionists’ of anarchist principles have become the priests of the anti-anarchist principles of the State and privilege; and workers unions, which were originally libertarian in France, are today the fiercest columns of the bourgeois order.

The apostasy of the war revisionists is no less patent. They erected foul altars to the homeland on the abjuration of their internationalism, they deserted the trench of social revolution to occupy that of war imposed by the State to the profit of capitalist privilege, they abandoned the cause of the exploited and oppressed masses and embraced that of their exploiters, tyrants and executioners. No desertion could ever be more complete. Whatever they say or do to save face, they have definitively moved over to the other side of the barricade. And we will find them implacable against us in any serious circumstance, armed with acrimony and hatred. From their limbs in decomposition the supporters of the ‘popular front’ at all costs came out, in which Italian antifascism in the 1920s offers outstanding examples of foolishness: Garibaldism and the Concentration, or rather the ‘anarchist’ adhesion to Garibaldism and to the Concentration, two manifestations of one and the same recklessness. The determining reasons do not change: the ‘desire to do something’ and the pretext of maintaining contact with the masses. In vain you reminded the ‘anarchist’ Garibaldinists that Anarchy despises armies, ‘revolutions’ carried out by order of generals and ‘constituent assemblies’ elected by universal suffrage. ‘Damn principles’, they replied, ‘we stand for action and we won’t be held up by the rigour of the “sacred texts”, which are good only for you who stay watching’. After garibaldinism was revealed as a filthy plot of agent provocateurs, nobody would have wanted to embrace it. But at the time, when illusion made the heads of many swell and many others dream of medals and pensions, to have a red shirt in one’s wardrobe constituted a title of glory and a harsh rebuke to the poor fanatics who were obstinate in their faith in Anarchy. There was no action in the name of the many buffooneries that were taking place, instead there were parades, processions, proclamations, scandalous rehabilitations, the ignominious vilification of the most modest anarchist pride, of the abused fetishes of the homeland and bourgeois democracy.

Once again the grim unaccommodating anarchist principles were ‘revisited’ in order to honour the anti-anarchist principles of militarism and the State.

The deluded, humiliated for having been victims of a moment of blind collective enthusiasm, of such an ignoble fraud, mended their ways. The others, the conscientious mystifiers, those who had actually consumed the ‘revisionism’ of their ‘anarchism’ with cold calculation, moved towards the Concentration, where they gave their circus jokes a final conservative stamp.

The revisionists of a not very different species are those that came out from the magnanimous limbs of triumphant Bolshevik marxism of the first great proletarian revolution. The first outcome of this revisionism, that of the first compromises during the early period of the Moscow dictatorship, soon confused itself with the party and the government ruling Russia, and no anarchist dream ever disturbed it. As any possibility of doubt had disappeared with the massacre of all genuinely revolutionary and rebel spirits crushed by totalitarian communist despotism, they took their mask off shamelessly and sided with the winners, without pointless grimaces or false modesty.

The second outcome is that of so called ‘platformists’. Fascinated by the relative ease with which the communist party had managed to obtain and keep the upper hand, they fantasised that anarchism would follow its example with the same fortune and would eventually oust it by adopting a similar system of organization. They did not abjure their principles. They made an effort to round off the hard corners through an obscure muddle of words in their organizational program. They proclaimed the inexorable superiority of the needs of the struggle, which implied the subordination of inflexibile theoretical principles; and in practise they renounced the libertarian spirit that is the necessary essence of any anarchist movement. Instead, they proposed a hierarchical pyramid of organs and functions in which the organs and the functions of the State were revived in all their splendour.

Everywhere and at any time the same pretexts, the same roles, the same consequences. The rigidity of anarchist principles is an obstacle to fertile action. Let’s make them more malleable, let’s adapt them to the needs of our time and to the backward mentality of the masses that do not understand us! Let’s go into parliament, become priests of the homeland, party leaders… let’s become shepherds of the masses. In the name of Anarchy, let’s renounce Anarchy!

Wouldn’t it be more frank, honest and loyal if these disheartened, the tired and the opportunists were to simply declare that they had made a mistake and want to correct their mistakes? Of course, it would be more frank, honest and loyal. But there are the hypocritical trimmers, the speculators in human weaknesses, who do not care about loyalty, honesty and frankness and are only interested in fishing in troubled waters and digging insurmountable abysses of anger and hatred within the movement.

Saturday, 9 July 2011


source:, translated by bs

The struggle against the TAV in the Susa valley dates back to the early 1990s and has seen construction yards occupied on a great number of occasions by the local population. In 2005, for example, villages and towns of the region staged massive protests against the TAV in Val Susa and were brutally repressed by the government (at the time Berlusconi was in charge). Actions of sabotage and attack against the structures responsible for the project have also been numerous and constant throughout all these years.
Here is the text of a leaflet distributed in 2008, when Berlusconi became prime minister again as Prodi’s centre-left government was defeated at the general election.

(Yesterday the politics, today the law, tomorrow the revolt)
‘It is a protest of an organized minority, which made up false and non existent ecological problems’. Through these scornful words pronounced on TV at the start of his electoral campaign in 2008, newly elected prime minister Silvio Berlusconi wrote off the opposition to the high speed railway project (TAV) of Val Susa. As the epoch of the carrot tactic has come to an end earlier than expected – along with that Prodi’s government you massively voted and which just made fun of you with its ‘round tables’ - the days of the stick are about to come back. In the five years of government lying ahead of him, the new prime minister will inevitably tackle the Val Susa question head-on. No need to say how he’ll do it. He who has already hurled his riot police against you and ordered the beating of your dignity in the night [in the 2005 protests], will only continue on the same path. You dared defy him, don’t forget, you can expect no mercy. If we don’t kneel to kiss the boss’ hand, if you persevere in contrasting his will, you will face the army. You know this, don’t you?
So, inhabitants of Val Susa, what are you going to do?
Yesterday you addressed the Palace of politics and presented your petitions to the government in the vain hope that you would be listened to, today you are addressing the Palace of justice. By making recourse to a sort of ‘snail’s strategy’ carried out by buying plots of the land over which the railway project will be built, you are trying to impede the State plans aimed at the devastation of your valley. Clever tactic, which demonstrates your tenacity and which will probably serve to gain time. But do you really believe that the Law will oppose the State that creates it in order to protect its interests? Do you really believe that a legal technicality can stop Berlusconi’s shameless power (or that it would have stopped Veltroni’s [a ministry in the Prodi government] hypocritical power)? If two years ago you were mistaken about a ministry’s acquiescence, now you can’t certainly be mistaken about a judge’s benevolence.
Val Susa inhabitants, you know it. Bureaucratic manoeuvres won’t save your valley, crossed out with a pen on the Progress’ book. Only you can do it. If bureaucracy will make you save precious time, don’t waste it.
Use it to get ready to defend yourselves.
Start to get ready now, spiritually and practically, for the inevitable battle looming up between your anger and others’ arrogance. Get ready to impede the invasion of your land by the occupation troops, which will be sent in against you. Get ready to mobilise the whole Val Susa so that it revolts against the invaders. Get ready to oppose State violence and the slander of its hired media.
In these years you have demonstrated with your actions that you are animated by pacific intentions, that you acted only out of love for your land. But when your land is invaded by those who want to flatten it out, drill it and devastate it, when it is wet with your blood spilled by Berlusconi’s hangmen, what will you do then? Will you push your pacifism and love to the ultimate sacrifice? Will you meet your uniformed slaughterers with your hands on your head or on the trigger of your gun? Time is running out, and you will soon discover that hatred is just the other face of love.

Sunday, 1 May 2011

The conquest of Freedom. Libya: war or insurrection?

Hors service n. 17


At a time when words seem to be losing their meaning, where the language of power tries to penetrate all our conversations, we think it is all the more indispensable to make an effort to speak clearly.
Let's stop repeating like parrots what the journalists tell us, what the televisions show, what the powerful want us to believe. The question is not to want to agree at any cost, nor to convert whoever, but at least to speak with our own mouth, with our words, with our pain and our hopes.


The start of the bombings carried out by the NATO against the forces loyal to Ghadaffi in Libya have marked a fatal passage. What was undoubtedly the beginning of an armed uprising of an important part of the population against the regime in power, is slowly transforming itself into a military war.
Apart from a few pockets of self-managed resistance, what authorities of all kinds call the 'irregulars', the uprising in Libya seems to have degenerated into a conflict between opposing armies.And it is not for nothing that the 'irregulars' down there have always been very suspicious concerning the 'official opposition' that has copied the hierarchies, the grades, the command structures of Ghadaffi's army. In fact, the militarisation of the conflict has buried the possibility of a radical upturning of Libyan society. New uniforms, new chiefs, new authorities are putting an obstacle in the way of those who want to experiment other social relations, relations of solidarity and reciprocity, self-organisation and social life among the people themselves instead of a new regime, new State structures, new leaders and new privileges.
Today, in Libya, it is a question of supporting in every way the insurgents who have fought and who will fight in the future for a profound change in society. As a Libyan anarchist comrade said, now it is a question of pushing back the blackmail of power, whether it be of Ghadaffi, the official opposition or the NATO countries, who want to bury the possibility of a social revolution by pushing for a purely military war. Let us never forget those who fell fighting for freedom, who defied a monstrous regime counting only on their own strength, putting their lives on the line.


The news of the Libyan situation that reaches us through the mainstream media only tells the story of the war. It is a story that makes us shudder: bombings, dead people, cluster bombs, wounded and refugees. Has the insurrection in Libya become a long story of horrors? Does nothing more than war remain, now that the affair is in course? Is there nothing more to say about the events full of strength, audacity and perseverance of people who took up arms to liberate themselves and everybody else from the yoke of a dictator who has repressed them for 42 years? The Western media want us to believe that there is nothing but a bloody war going on down there, and that doesn't surprise us. The West, avid for power and money, and its NATO must legitimise their role of 'saviours of the Libyan people'. So, they find themselves forced to hide the combative reality of the Libyan insurgents and make us think that these people have been thrown into confusion, and nothing more. But, let's close the newspapers of the capitalist media for a moment and try to look at the insurrection close up. Let's go in search of its story.

A lot of bad stuff is being said in our papers about what are called the 'shebabs'. The shebabs, they are the insurgents who refuse to let themselves be regimented into the new military structure that is being formed in the liberated part of Libya. They are treated like madmen, bandits, people who don't know what they are doing, that don't want to obey military orders, who are not real rebels.
But this creation of a negative image of the insurgents has its reasons. It is only in exchange for an acceptation of the military structure, in exchange for the formation of a real army, that the insurgents will receive arms from the West. If they don't accept that, then nothing. In other words, what the West is asking of the insurgents, is to stop their insurrection in exchange for a war. Because the West would like to preserve and reinforce its control over the country. A control particularly necessary to put a brake on 'clandestine immigration' (which often goes through Libya), or to guarantee oil and gas resources. They cannot keep an insurrection under control, a war yes.
A classic military structure implies colonels and generals who make strategic decisions and footmen, cannon fodder, to obey orders without thinking. A military structure implies waging a war, and in a war, it is simply a question of eliminating the enemy. In Libya something quite different seems to be happening, something far more profound. First of all these shebabs are not cannon fodder, but men in flesh and blood. Many are refusing to become an army, showing that, for them, it is not just a question of eliminating the enemy but that they are fighting for something more: for freedom. And this freedom is lost at the moment one starts to obey orders of the new Ghadaffis. These new Ghadaffis that are appearing, the new bosses that want others to obey their orders, who allow themselves the damned right to govern others. Authority can well be symbolised by an infamous personnage like the dictator, it is cleartly not only the fall of this madman that is necessary in order to conquer freedom. This conquest is what one is fighting for. It is the conquest of the here and now, the only path towards a free future. To obey the orders of the new Libyan military means the end of the insurrection, the announcement of a new era of submission and obedience. And many things are at stake.
Also the diversified composition of the insurgents shows us the traces of something deeper. It is a question there of people of different origins, and also immigrants. Knowing that in a country like Libya these immigrants have had a position of second place, that they have been subjected to gross racism, their participation in the insurrection is of great value. If the distinctions between these groups of people wane, then that means that a wall in the society is beginning to wabble.
We don't know about the women. But we cannot imagine that half the population be excluded from an insurrectional process that has been in course for weeks. In any case, the liberation of the women is only possible by continuing this process. The hierarchies between men and women cannot be overturned until there is a space open for that. This space can only open while the insurrection advances, while the refusal of militarisation remains standing.

Self-organisation and affinity

The insurrection in the town of Misrata is presented to us today above all as a great tale of horrors, impossible combat. Yet, the battles are still going on in Misrata and it seems to us in any case that what is happening there cannot be enclosed in the war vocabulary of 'defeat' or 'victory'. We don not intend to deny that there have been many dead or that the combat is hard. One could effectively say that the insurrection matters little when one is dead. And that's true. But here, our intention is to cast a light on the things that are springing up, and which there, in the midst of the combat, have the possibility of springing up. All the more that one could say that if the NATO bombardments have been to some extent a help for the combat of the insurgents,it is no less so that if the latter take the combat out of their hands, it is the insurgents that lose.
Let us look for example at the way that the insurgents organise themselves in the town of Misrata. Like everywhere else in Libya, they do not have an arsenal of weapons that, at the technological level, at the level of Ghadaffi's army. They are fighting with home-made grenades, molotov cocktails, light weapons, mixed with creativity, courage and solidarity. They form an urban guerilla that is preventing Ghadaffi from taking back the town.The insurgents know the town like the back of their hand, their battlefields are like a hostile labyrinth where the colonel's troops hardly dare to tread. Around the famous rue Tripoli, Ghadaffi's army has stationed snipers, but many die because they are cut off from the rest of the troups by the insurgents and have no more food or water; others are surrendering. That is why the army is now giving preference to bombardments and cluster bombs: Misrata cannot be taken back, unless it is terrorised by planting bombs.
Another advantage of the shebabs is that they are not an anoymous army of soldiers facing the anonymous army of Ghadaffi, but are people organising in small groups. Groups of people who know and trust each other, are organising themselves against the oppression. Individuals who have fought side by side and are continuing to fight. This is the combat of the shebabs everywhere in Libya. And there the question is not so much knowing whether that carries a military advantage, when it reveals above all a new way of relating with one another: not like soldiers, but like comrades in struggle against the oppression.
Even if the insurrection is crushed, one could still say that, in a certain way, the insurgents have won. They have tasted combat alongside their friends and those close to them ; they have tasted a struggle that leaves individuals intact, that leaves them to be persons, human beings who refuse to let themselves be destroyed by military structures trying once again to transform them into obedient robots.


Throughout the whole insurrection in Libya and the uprisings in the other countries, a red thread bursting with solidarity is being established. The rebels of Misrata rose up in solidarity with those of Benghazi. Moreover, the insurgents are refusing to make a deal with Ghadaffi, a deal that would cut the country in two. Because they know that there are still other insurgents in the country, and they refuse to abandon them to the horrors of the colonel.
Remember also the question of food. A very beautiful aspect of this insurrection is that the value of money is disappearing at the moment. Libya is a country that is largely dependent on the importation of food, and still now food is coming to them from beyond the Egyptian border. Whoever has no money doesn't pay. It's as simple as that. The same for distribution in the towns in the hands of the insurgents or at the front.

But what are they struggling for?

This is a question that many are asking, and to be honest: heave a sigh... One could fill a while library with descriptions of Ghadaffi's dictatorial regime. But let us look at one element of his system, because that shows us something very touching and beautiful.Ghadaffi governed with the aid of a large part of the population working for the secret services. An identical system to that of the Stasi in East Germany. In other words: a system where you have to suspect your own brother, neighbour... Because those who work for the secret services are everywhere, and denounce anyone who expresses themselves against the dictator. Or dissidents are taken from their beds and thrown into subterranian prisons...
And voila an insurrection breaks out in such a country. Suspicion gives way to trust. Denouncing one another is transformed into being in solidarity. That an insurrection has seen the day in a country based on the most intimate form of 'divide and rule' is of inestimable significance. Relations between people have come into play; and the transformation of these relations is much stronger than the bombs of the NATO.

And us?
The fact that one only hears talk of NATO here, diplomatic moves, the National Council, ... as though they were the protagonists, and the shebabs but a marginal phenomenon, has perhaps reasons beyond power and money. Perhaps they want to prevent us from developing bad intentions. They want to prevent the insurrection in Libya from inspiring us. That one gets it into one's head that we too, here, could start an insurrection. An insurrection that starts from the self-organisation of small groups of people who know each other well. Perhaps because the embryons of such a way of organising already exists in the West, such as for example when the young people organise themselves to attack when the police kill (just think what happened recently in Charleroi recently).
Also don't let's forget that during the riots in November 2005 in France Sarkozy proposed using military apparatus to put down this revolt. And that the NATO, has a military base somewhere in the north of Italy where soldiers specialise themselves in methods and technologies for putting down insurrections in cities. Because they know very well that these insurrections could break out. Today, they condemn the powerful of many countries because they order to shoot 'against their own population'. We must get it into our heads that the NATO countries will not hesitate to do the same as soon as power feels threatened. And they are already preparing.

It is up to us

It's easy: we too are oppressed, we too are capable of organising ourselves against the oppression. We too can rediscover ourselves and be in solidarity in a struggle for our freedom. This is the real threat for power everywhere on earth.
To end up, we send lots of courage to the insurgents who are in the act of burying obedience in the past. May Ghadaffi die, along with all the rest that like to exercise power over other than themselves.
(translated by sysiphus)

Friday, 18 March 2011


by Albert Libertad

Many think that it is a simple dispute over words that makes some declare themselves libertarians and others anarchist. I have an entirely different opinion.

I am an anarchist and I hold to the label not for the sake of a vain garnishing of words, but because it means a philosophy, a different method than that of the libertarian.

The libertarian, as the word indicates, is an adorer of liberty. For him, it is the beginning and end of all things. To become a cult of liberty, to write its name on all the walls, to erect statues illuminating the world, to talk about it in season and out, to declare oneself free of hereditary determinism when its atavistic and encompassing movements make you a slave...this is the achievement of the libertarian.

The anarchist, referring simply to etymology, is against authority. That’s exact. He doesn’t make liberty the causality but rather the finality of the evolution of his Self. He doesn’t say, even when it concerns merest of his acts. "I am free." but "I want to be free". For him, freedom is not an entity, a quality, something that one has or doesn’t have, but is a result that he obtains to the degree that he obtains power.

He doesn’t make freedom into a right that existed before him, before human beings but a science that he acquires, that humans acquire, day after day, to free themselves of ignorance, abolishing the shackles of tyranny and property.

Man is not free to act or not to act, by his will alone. He learns to do or not to do when he has exercised his judgement, enlightened his ignorance, or destroyed the obstacles that stand in his way. So if we take the position of a libertarian, without musical knowledge in the front of his piano, is he free to play? NO! He won’t have this freedom until he has learned music and to play the instrument. This is what the anarchists say. He also struggles against the authority that prevents him from developing his musical aptitudes-when he has them-or he who withholds the pianos. To have the freedom to play, he has to have the power to know and the power to have a piano at his disposition. Freedom is a force that one must know how to develop within the individual; no one can grant it.

When the Republic takes its famous slogan: "Liberte, Egalite, Fraternite." does it make us free, equal or brothers? She tells us "You are free" these are vain words since we do not have the power to be free. And why don’t we have this power? Principally because we do not know how to acquire the proper knowledge. We take the mirage for reality.

We always await the freedom of a State, of a Redeemer, of a Revolution, we never work to develop it within each individual. What is the magic wand that transforms the current generation born of centuries of servitude and resignation into a generation of human beings deserving of freedom, because they are strong enough to conquer it?

This transformation will come from the awareness that men will have of not having freedom of consciousness, that freedom is not in them, that they don’t have the right to be free, that they are not all born free and equal...and that it is nevertheless impossible to have happiness without freedom. The day that they have this consciousness they will stop at nothing to obtain freedom. This is why anarchists struggle with such strength against the libertarian current that makes one take the shadow for substance.

To obtain this power, it is necessary for us to struggle against two currents that threaten the conquest of our liberty: it is necessary to defend it against others and against oneself, against external and internal forces.

To go towards freedom, it becomes necessary to develop our individuality-When I say: to go towards freedom, I mean for each of us to go toward the most complete development of our Self-. We are not therefore free to take any which road, it is necessary to force ourselves to take the correct path. We are not free to yield to excessive and lawless desires, we are obliged to satisfy them. We are not free to put ourselves in a state of inebriation making our personality lose the use of its will, placing us at the mercy of anything; let’s say rather that we endure the tyranny of a passion that misery of luxury has given us. True freedom would consist of an act of authority upon this habit, to liberate oneself from its tyranny and its corollaries.

I said, an act of authority, because I don’t have the passion of liberty considered a priori. I am not a libertarian. If I want to acquire liberty, I don’t adore it. I don’t amuse myself refusing the act of authority that will make me overcome the adversary that attacks me, nor do I refuse the act of authority that will make me attack the adversary. I know that every act of force is an act of authority. I would like to never have to use force, authority against other men, but I live in the 20th century and I am not free of from the direction of my movements to acquire liberty.

So, I consider the Revolution as an act of authority of some against others, individual revolt as an act of authority of some against others. And therefore I find these means logical, but I want to exactly determine the intention. I find them logical and I am ready to cooperate, if these acts of temporary authority have the removing of a stable authority and giving more freedom as their goal; I find them illogical and I thwart them if their goal isn’t removing an authority. By these acts, authority gains power: she hasn’t done anything but change name, even that which one has chosen for the occasion of its modification.

Libertarians make a dogma of liberty; anarchists make it an end. Libertarians think that man is born free and that society makes him a slave. Anarchists realize that man is born into the most complete of subordinations, the greatest of servitudes and that civilization leads him to the path of liberty.

That which the anarchists reproach is the association of men-society-which is obstructing the road after having guided our first steps. Society delivers hunger, malignant fever, ferocious beasts -evidently not in all cases, but generally- but she makes humanity prey to misery, overwork, and governments. She puts humanity between a rock and a hard place. She makes the child forget the authority of nature to place him under the authority of men.

The anarchist intervenes. He does not ask for liberty as a good that one has taken from him, but as a good that one prevents him from acquiring. He observes the present society and he declares that it is a bad instrument, a bad way to call individuals to their complete development.

The anarchist sees society surround men with a lattice of laws, a net of rules, and an atmosphere of morality and prejudices without doing anything to bring them out of the night of ignorance. He doesn’t have the libertarian religion, liberal one could say but more and more he wants liberty for himself like he wants pure air for his lungs. He decides then to work by all means to tear apart the threads of the lattice, the stitches of the net and endeavors to open up free thought.

The anarchist’s desire is to be able to exercise his faculties with the greatest possible intensity. the more he improves himself, the more experience he takes in, the more he destroys obstacles, as much intellectual and moral as material, the more he takes an open field, the more he allows his individuality to expand, the more he becomes free to evolve and the more he proceeds towards the realization of his desire.

But I won't allow myself to get carried away and I’ll return more precisely to the subject.

The libertarian who doesn’t have the power to carry through an explanation, a critique which he recognizes as well founded or that he doesn’t even want to discuss, he responds "I am free to act like this." The anarchist says: " I think that I am right to act like this but come on." And if the critique made is about a passion which he doesn’t have the strength to free himself from, he will add: " I am under the slavery of this atavism and this habit." This simple declaration won’t be without cost. It will carry its own force, maybe for the individual attacked, but surely for the individual that made it, and for those who are less attacked by the passion in question.

The anarchist is not mistaken about the domain gained. He does not say "I am free to marry my daughter if that pleases me- I have the right to wear a high style hat if it suits me" because he knows that this liberty, this right are a tribute paid to the morality of the milieu, to the conventions of the world; they are imposed by the outside against all desires, against all internal determinism of the individual.

The anarchist acts thus not due to modesty, or the spirit of contradiction, but because he holds a conception which is completely different from that of the libertarian. He doesn’t believe in innate liberty, but in liberty that is acquired. And because he knows that he doesn’t possess all liberties, he has a greater will to acquire the power of liberty.

Words do not have a power in themselves. They have a meaning that one must know well, to state precisely in order to allow oneself to be taken by their magic. The great Revolution has made a fool of us with its slogan: "Liberte, Egalite, Fraternite" the liberals have sung us above all the tune of their "laisser-faire" with the refrain of the freedom of work; Libertarians delude themselves with a belief in a pre-established liberty and they make critiques in its honor...Anarchists should not want the word but the thing. They are against authority, government, economic religious and moral power, knowing the more authority is diminished the more liberty is increased.

It is a relation between the power of the group and the power of the individual. The more the first term of this relation is diminished, the more authority is diminished, the more liberty is increased.

What does the anarchist want? To reach a state in which these two powers are balanced, where the individual has real freedom of movement without ever hindering the liberty of movement of another. The anarchist does not want to reverse the relation so that his freedom is made of the slavery of others, because he knows that authority is bad in itself, as much for he who submits to it as for he who gives it.

To truly know freedom, one must develop the human being until one makes sure that no authority has the possibility of existing.

first published in English in Killing King Abacus Number One


by Penelope Nin

It is rumored that we (a "we" not well-defined whose lack of definition suits the rumor-mongers) have nothing to do with anarchism, being in reality nihilists disguised for the purpose of penetrating into the sanctuary of anarchy with bad intentions. It is noted that one who takes up the task of guarding the temple ends up seeing thieves everywhere, and maybe the hour has come to quiet "our" troubled detractors.

First of all, they must explain what they mean by nihilism. Personally, I view anyone who extols the joys of nihilism to me with suspicion because I consider nihilism, as the substantiation of nothing, to be a deception. When the incompleteness of all is cultivated with a feeling of fullness, it is difficult to resist the temptation to replace the old absolute with its most abstract moment in which nothing is immediately transformed into all and is therefore totalized. Ultimately, nihilism seems to me to be a crafty form of reasoning, that drives the whole structure of knowledge into the darkness of Nothingness only to receive, through this spectacular, radical negation, still more of the light of the All.

But probably the rumored "nihilism" consists of something much simpler, that is, of a supposed absence of proposals. In other words, one is nihilistic when one persistently refuses to promise a future earthly paradise, to foresee its functioning, to study its organization, to praise its perfection. One is nihilistic when, instead of taking and valuing all the moments of relative freedom offered by this society, one radically negates it, preferring the drastic conclusion that none of it is worth saving. Finally, one is nihilistic when, instead of proposing something constructive, one’s activity comes down to an " obsessive exultation of the destruction of this world." If this is the argument, it is, indeed a meager one.

To begin, anarchism—the Idea—is one thing, and the anarchist movement—the ensemble of men and women who support this Idea—is another. It makes no sense to me to say of the Idea what in reality only a few anarchists assert. The Idea of anarchism is the absolute incompatibility between freedom and authority. From this it follows that one can enjoy total freedom in the complete absence of Power. Because Power exists and has no intention of disappearing voluntarily, it will be necessary indeed to create a way to eliminate it. Correct me if I’m mistaken.

I don’t understand why such a premise, which no anarchist "nihilist" has ever dreamed of denying and suppressing, must lead necessarily to postulating new social regulations. I don’t understand why, in order to "be part" of the anarchist movement, one must first undergo a doctoral examination in the architecture of the new world, and why it isn’t enough to love freedom and hate every form of authority with all that entails. All this is not only absurd from the theoretical point of view, but also false from the historical point of view (and the anarchist rumor-mongers show so much fervor for History). One of the points about which Malatesta and Galleani clashed regularly was precisely the question of whether it was necessary to plan what would be created after the revolution or not. Malatesta argued that anarchists must begin immediately to develop ideas of how to organize social life because it doesn’t allow for interruption; Galleani, on the other hand, argued that the task of anarchists was the destruction of this society, and that future generations that are immune to the logic of domination will figure out how to rebuild. In spite of these differences, Malatesta did not accuse Galleani of being nihilist. To make such an accusation would have been gratuitous because their difference was only over the constructive aspect of the question; they agreed completely about the destructive aspect. Though this is omitted by many of his exegetes, Malatesta was, indeed, an insurrectionalist, a confirmed supporter of a violent insurrection capable of demolishing the state.

Today, however, one merely needs to point out that anyone who holds power does not give up their privileges voluntarily and draw the due conclusions to be accused of nihilism. Within the anarchist movement, as everywhere, times change. Whereas once the debate among anarchists dealt with the way of conceiving the revolution, today it seems that all discussion centers around the way to avoid it. What other purpose could all these disquisitions on self-government, libertarian municipalism, or the blessed utopia of good sense have? It is clear that once one rejects the insurrectional project as such, the destructive hypothesis begins to assume frightful contours. What was only an error to Malatesta—limiting oneself to the demolition of the social order—for many present-day anarchists represents a horror.

When pious souls hear the bark of a dog, they always think that a ferocious wolf is coming. For them the blowing of the wind becomes an approaching tornado. In the same way, to anyone who has entrusted the task of transforming the world to persuasion alone, the word destruction is upsetting to the mind, evoking painful and unpleasant images. These things make a bad impression on the people who, if they are to be converted and finally flock into the ranks of reason, must have a religion that promises an Eden of peace and brotherhood. Whether it deals with paradise, nirvana or anarchy is of little importance. And anyone who dares to place such a religion into question cannot be thought of as simply a non-believer. In the course of things, such a person must be presented as a dangerous blasphemer.

And this is why "we" (but who is this "we"?) are called "nihilists". But the nihilism in all this, what is the point?

first published in English in Killing King Abacus Number One

The Cult of Carrion

Albert Libertad (1925)

In a desire for eternal life, men have considered death as a passage, as a painful step, and they have bowed before its “mystery” to the point of veneration.
Even before men knew how to work with stone, marble, and iron in order to shelter the living, they knew how to fashion matter to honor the dead.
Churches and cloisters richly wrapped their tombs under their apses and choirs, while huts were huddled against their sides, miserably sheltering the living.
The cult of the dead has, from the first moments, hindered the forward march of man. It is the original sin, the dead weight, the iron ball that humanity drags along behind it.
The voice of death, the voice of the dead has always thundered against the voice of universal life, which is ever evolving.
Jehovah, who Moses’ imagination made burst forth from Sinai, still dictates his laws. Jesus of Nazareth, dead for almost twenty centuries, still preaches his morality. Buddha, Confucius, and Lao Tzu’s wisdom still reign. And how many others!
We bear the heavy responsibility of our ancestors; we have their defects and their qualities.
So in France we are the children of the Gauls, though we are French via the Francs and of the Latin race when it comes to the eternal hatred of the Germans. Each of these heredities brings with it obligations.
Our ancestors...the past...the dead...
Whole peoples have died from this triple respect.
China is exactly where it was thousands of years ago because it has guarded the first place in their homes for their dead.
Death is not only a germ of corruption due to the chemical disintegration of man’s body, poisoning the atmosphere; it is even more the case because of the consecration of the past, the immobilization of the idea at a certain stage of evolution. Living, it would have evolved, would have been more advanced. Dead, it crystallizes. Yet it is this precise moment that the living choose to admire it, in order to sanctify it, to deify it.
Usages and custom, ancestral errors are communicated from one person to another in the family. One believes in the god of his fathers, another respects the fatherland of his ancestors...Why don’t we respect their lighting system, their way of dressing?
Yes, this strange fact is produced that while the externals and the daily economy improve, change, are differentiated, that while everything dies and is transformed, man, man’s spirit, remains in the same servitude, is mummified in the same errors.
Just as in the century of the torch, in the century of electricity man still believes in tomorrow’s paradise, in the gods of vengeance and forgiveness, in hells and Valhallas as a away of respecting the ideas of his ancestors.
The dead lead us, the dead command us, the dead take the place of the living.
All our festivals, all our glorifications are the anniversaries of deaths and massacres. We celebrate All Saints Day to glorify the saints of the church, the Feast of the Dead so as not to forget a single dead man. The dead go to Olympus or paradise, to the right of Jupiter or God. They fill “immaterial” space and they encumber “material” space with their corteges, their displays, and their cemeteries. If nature didn’t take it upon itself to disintegrate their bodies and to disperse their ashes, the living wouldn’t today know where to place their feet in the vast necropolis that would be the earth.
The memory of the dead, their acts and deeds, obstruct the brains of children. We only talk to them about the dead, we should only speak to them about this. We make them live in the realm of the unreal and the past. They must know nothing of the present.
If secularism has dropped the story of Mr. Noah or that of Mr. Moses, it has replaced it with those of Mr. Charlemagne or Mr. Capet. Children know the date of death of Madame Feregonde, but don’t have the least notion about hygiene. Some young girls of fifteen know that in Spain a certain Madame Isabelle spent an entire century wearing one blouse, but are strangely upset when their first menstrual period comes.
Some women, who have the chronology of the kings of France at the tip of their fingers without a single mistake don’t know what to do with a child who cries out for the first time in its life.
While we leave a young girl next to he who is dying, who is in his final throes, we push her away from she whose belly is opening to life.
The dead obstruct cities, streets, and squares. We meet them in marble, in stone, in bronze. This inscription tells us of their birth, and that plaque tells us where they lived. Squares bear their titles or those of their exploits. Street names don’t indicate their position, form, altitude or location; they speak of Magenta or Solferino, an exploit of the dead where many were killed. They recall to you Saint Eleuthere or the Chevalier de la Barre; men, incidentally, whose only quality was that of dying.
In economic life it is also the dead who trace the lives of all. One sees his entire life darkened by his father’s “crime,” another wears the halo of the glory, the genius, the daring of his forefathers. This one is born a bumpkin with the most distinguished of spirits, that one is born noble with the most vulgar of spirits. We are nothing through ourselves; we are everything through our ancestors.
And the eyes of scientific criticism, what is death? This respect for the departed, this cult of decrepitude, by what argument can it be justified? Few have asked this, and this is why the question is not resolved.
And in the center of cities, don’t we see great spaces that the living piously maintain: these are cemeteries, the gardens of the dead.
The living find it good to bury, right next to their children’s cradles, piles of decomposing flesh, carrion, the nutritive element of all maladies, the breeding ground of all infections.
They consecrate great spaces planted with magnificent trees and depose typhoid-ridden, pestilential, anthracic bodies there, one or two meters deep. And after a few days the infectious viruses roam the city seeking other victims.
Men who have no respect for their living organism, that they wear out, that they poison, that they put at risk, are suddenly taken with a comic respect for their mortal remains when they should be rid of them as soon as possible, put them in the least cumbersome, the most usable form.
The cult of the dead is one of the most vulgar aberrations of the living. It’s a holdover from those religions that promised paradise. The dead must be prepared for the visit of the beyond: give them weapons so they can participate in the hunts of Velleda, some food for the trip, give them the high viaticum, prepare them to present themselves to God. [Religions depart, but their ridiculous formulas remain. The dead take the place of the living.]
Whole groups of workingmen and women employ their abilities and energy at maintaining the cult of the dead. Men dig up the earth, carve stone and marble, forge grilles, prepare a house for all of them in order to respectfully bury in them the syphilitic carrion that has just died.
Women weave the shroud, make artificial flowers, fashion bouquets to decorate the house where the pile in a just-ended tubercular decomposition will repose. Instead of hastening to make these loci of decomposition disappear, of using all the speed and hygiene possible to destroy these evil centers whose preservation and maintenance can only spread death around them, everything possible is done to preserve them as long as possible. These mounds of flesh are paraded around in special wagons, in hearses, through the roads and the streets. When they pass, men remove their hats. They respect the dead.
The amount of effort and matter expended by humanity in maintaining the cult of the dead is inconceivable. If all this force were used to receive children then thousands and thousands of them would be spared illness and death.
If this imbecilic respect for the dead were to disappear and make room for respect for the living, we would increase the health and happiness of human life in unimaginable proportions.
Men accept the hypocrisy of necrophages, of those who eat the dead, of those who live off the dead; from the priest, giver of sacred water, to the merchant of eternal homes; from the wreath seller to the sculptor of mortuary angels. With ridiculous boxes that lead and accompany these grotesque puppets, we proceed to the removal of this human detritus and its distribution in accordance with the state of their fortune, when a good transport service, with hermetically sealed cars and a crematory oven constructed in keeping with the latest scientific discoveries would suffice.
I will not concern myself with the use of ashes, though it would seem to me more interesting to use them as humus rather then carrying them around in little boxes. Men complain about work, yet they don’t want to simplify those gestures that overly complicate occasions of their existence, not even to do away with those for the imbecilic — as well as dangerous — preservation of their cadavers. The anarchists have too much respect for the living to respect the dead. Let us hope that some day this outdated cult will have become a road management service, and that the living will know life in all its manifestations.
As we’ve already said, it is because men are ignorant that they surround a phenomenon as simple as death with such religious mumbo jumbo. It also worth noting that this is only the case with human death: the death of other animals and vegetables doesn’t serve as the occasion for similar demonstrations. Why?
The first men, barely evolved brutes, devoid of all knowledge, buried the dead man with his living wife, his weapons, his furniture, his jewels. Others had the corpse appear before a tribunal to ask him to give an account of his life. Man has always misunderstood the true meaning of death.
And yet, in nature everything that lives dies. Every living organism falls when for one reason or another the equilibrium between its different functions is broken. The causes of death, the ravages of the illness or the accident that caused the death of the individual are scientifically determined.
From the human point of view then, there is death, disappearance of life, that is, the cessation of a certain activity in a certain form.
But from the general point of view death doesn’t exist. There is only life. After what we call death the transformative phenomena continue. Oxygen, hydrogen, gas, and minerals depart in different forms and associate in new combinations and contribute to the existence of other living organisms. There is no death; there is a circulation of bodies, modifications in the aspect of matter and energy, endless continuation in time and space of life and universal activity.
A dead man is a body returned to circulation in a triple form: sold, liquid, and gaseous. It is nothing but this, and we should consider and treat it as such.
It is obvious that these positive and scientific concepts leave no room for weepy speculations on the soul, the beyond, the void.
But we know that all those religions that preach the “future life” and the “better world” have as their goals causing resignation among those who are despoiled and exploited.
Rather than kneeling before cadavers it would be better to organize life on better foundations so as to get a maximum amount of joy and wellbeing from it.
People will be angered by our theories and our disdain: this is pure hypocrisy on their part. The cult of the dead is nothing but an insult to true pain. The fact of maintaining a small garden, of dressing in black, of wearing crepe doesn’t prove the sincerity of one’s sorrow. This latter, incidentally, must disappear. Individuals should react before the irrevocability and the inevitability of death. We should fight against suffering instead of exhibiting it, parading it in grotesque cavalcades and false congratulations.
This one, who respectfully follows a hearse, had the day before worked furiously at starving the deceased; that one laments behind a cadaver who did nothing to come to his assistance when it would have been possible to save his life. Every day capitalist society spreads death by its poor organization, by the poverty it creates, by the lack of hygiene, the deprivation and ignorance from which individuals suffer. By supporting such a society men are thus the cause of their own suffering, and instead of moaning before destiny they would do better to work at improving their conditions of existence so as to allow human life its maximum of development and intensity.
How could we know life when the dead alone lead it?
How can we live in the present under the tutelage of the past?
If man wants to live, let him no longer have any respect for the dead, let him abandon the cult of carrion. The dead block the road to progress for the living.
We must tear down the pyramids, the tumuli, the tombs. We must bring the wheelbarrows into the cemeteries so as to rid humanity of what they call respect for the dead, but which is the cult of carrion.

Translated by Mitch Abidor for Source: Libertad, Le Culte de la Charognne. Agone, Paris, 2006 and Le Culte de la charogne et autres texts. Paris, Editions Galilée, 1976

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Mark Stone/Kennedy - Looking Beyond The Grassy Knoll

Despite the huge amount of coverage given to the Mark Stone/Kennedy affair in the mainstream media, UK Indymedia are STILL desperately trying to control and censor all discussion of the story. The ‘View all posts’ section of the UK Indymedia ‘Editorial Guidelines’ section is crammed with hidden posts and comments, most of which are deleted by the same moderator under the excuse of “non-news”. Other posts have been deleted completely and effectively erased from the internet. Who are these idiots? We will not be dominated, censored, and manipulated by a handful of stupid, power-crazed geeks. The following articles are just two that have been vigorously suppressed by UK Indymedia. Anon.

Mark Stone/Kennedy - Looking Beyond The Grassy Knoll

The case of undercover cop Mark Stone/Kennedy last week saw an epic feeding frenzy by the hyenas of the corporate media, who were supplied with plenty of info and ammunition by people within the activist movement. While these people, traitors or idiots depending on your perspective, had much to say to the journalists, there was almost no original comment on the Kennedy affair within the movement. Indymedia was clogged with corporate re-posts and stupid comments, including some which were sympathetic to Kennedy and at least one seeking journalistic cash. One of the very few exceptions was a piece authored by ‘The Boys From The Grassy Knoll’ and entitled ‘The View From The Grassy Knoll’.

The Grassy Knoll piece received very positive comments from ordinary activists and appears to be the basis for a statement on the Kennedy affair by Berlin Anarchist Black Cross. Yet it caused an unprecedented censorship campaign by Indymedia moderators, which was led by those who had uncovered Kennedy and their close associates. Not only was the article ‘hidden’ (i.e. removed from the Indymedia newswire) along with comments agreeing with it, but any re-posts were vigorously pursued across the worldwide Indymedia network and removed. This was however not enough for those trying to censor the Grassy Knoll piece. When articles are ‘hidden’ on Indymedia they still remain in some form and can therefore be found when using a search engine. Indymedia received a request from ‘114defence’ for a “full hide”, a complete and absolute removal of the post from Indymedia’s internet terrain. As with every other request received from the same milieu, Indymedia were happy to accede.

The reason given for this unprecedented Indymedia censorship was that the Grassy Knoll piece supposedly contained “highly personal info”. Does it? The article names only four people – Mark Kennedy, Simon Lewis, Sophie Stevens, and (in passing) John Jordan. Kennedy’s name is obviously well known, but so are those of Lewis and Stevens, thanks to their own self-promotion (Stevens even appeared on ‘BBC Newsnight’). Jordan is another avid self-promoter, but so far as is known is not linked directly to the Kennedy affair (he will be discussed later). The piece also names Kennedy’s boat, but that has been named previously on Indymedia, as it has been since in the corporate media, and what would activists care about that anyway? Looking over the piece it is hard to see where this damaging “highly personal info” is. More than likely Indymedia were accommodating a request from someone who was not happy with the article’s critical analysis and the portrait it paints of certain sections of the ‘eco-activist’ scene.

Like the earliest corporate articles the raw information on which the Grassy Knoll piece is based could very well have been taken from earlier postings on Indymedia itself. With Mark Kennedy having now sold his story to the ‘Mail On Sunday’ there is now a massive more amount of “highly personal info” in the public arena than has ever appeared on Indymedia, and certainly far more than was contained in the censored Grassy Knoll piece.

Kennedy quite clearly lies throughout the ‘Mail’ interview, but in the light of its publication, and in light of more serious corporate journalism, the analysis given in the Grassy Knoll piece is worth re-examining.

The claims made in the Grassy Knoll article, which some clearly agree with and others find controversial, can be broken down as follows:

1) That many good quality photos of Kennedy existed, and were in the possession of his close friends, which were not posted to Indymedia.

2) That one of the Ratcliffe defendants, Simon Lewis, contacted Kennedy sometime after he was uncovered as a cop and asked for his help.

3) The founder of the so-called ‘Clown Army’ John Jordan was a “Special Branch tout”.

4) That the group who uncovered Kennedy as a cop knew his whereabouts, but would not give them out to the general movement.

5) That posters on Indymedia have accused the group who uncovered Kennedy of some form of unspoken agreement whereby he would protect them as best he could and they in return would let him walk away, leave his boat alone, not post their archive of photographs and personal information to the net, and not disclose his whereabouts or those of his family.

Looking at these claims individually, in respect of Point 1, there have been numerous claims on Indymedia that there were hundreds of photographs of Kennedy in existence, many of which were on display at a 40th birthday party he held shortly before being unmasked. Some of those photos, much better than were posted to Indymedia, have appeared in the corporate press and on ‘Newsnight’. Indeed it would be strange if during seven years those closest to Kennedy did not accumulate photos of him. There also appear to have been many photos circulating on ‘Facebook’ and on a ‘69ers’ website set up specifically to display photos taken at Kennedy’s birthday party. It seems to this writer that it is probably true that many photos of Kennedy exist and that they are held (or were held) by his closest friends.

In respect of Point 2, Simon Lewis taped himself talking to Kennedy and these tapes were given to ‘BBC Newsnight’, so we know that this contact took place, and we know the nature of that contact. As has also been said in the Grassy Knoll piece we also know that the contact with Kennedy was at best unnecessary and has led the corporate media to spin the story so as to present Kennedy as sympathetic to those he spied upon.

To long-standing activists it would be surprising if the claim that John Jordan was a “Special Branch tout” was controversial. While involved with ‘Reclaim the Streets’ Jordan admitted to having had meetings with Special Branch, which continued even after he was told to stop speaking to them by fellow activists. From this writers point of view the facts surrounding the matter are well established and we should be suspicious of anyone trying to rewrite history in Jordan’s favour.

There have been repeated claims on Indymedia that Kennedy’s whereabouts were known around the time he was exposed. People close to his exposers have argued on Indymedia that they needed to protect his family from adverse attention, implying that their whereabouts (and his) were certainly known. Kennedy’s word counts for very little, but his account claims that he was tracked down to his home address in Ireland and telephoned there. It seems ridiculous that those he betrayed would just let him walk away without having any idea where he was going. According to Kennedy’s publicist Max Clifford, the ex-cop is currently holed-up near LA, and it seems unlikely that those who exposed him know his address, but it seems probable that at some point in the past they did know where he was, certainly at the very least they knew that he was in Ireland.

Various accusations that a deal or agreement was made with Kennedy were made by posters on Indymedia rather than by the Grassy Knoll article. This accusation has clearly caused upset, yet in the form presented in the Grassy Knoll piece is it really so unreasonable or so damning? We make unspoken agreements all the time, knowing for example that if we throw a brick at a cop on a demo we’ll be beaten to the ground, arrested, and sent to prison for a long time. Having lived alongside them for so long, Kennedy clearly knows a great deal about those he was spying on and vice versa. He would know lots of personal details and perhaps have information about misdemeanours not divulged to his bosses. Is it so unreasonable to assume that his exposers might be reluctant to do him all the damage they could in the hope that he will refrain from doing the same? Apart from exposing him, for which they deserve the fullest praise, this group of friends have said very little about Kennedy. As is claimed, they certainly let him go on his way unharmed, and there is evidence they deliberately sought to hide details of his boat. They have also certainly protected his family (much more than Kennedy has done.) Kennedy does not seem to have any ill will for this group, and the reverse is true in respect of some of them, and while he was prepared to publically name other activists in his interview, the group who exposed him were afforded anonymity. An uneasy ‘pax’ does seem to exist.

In view of the revelations since its publication, it may be time to take another look at the Grassy Knoll piece, and perhaps for Indymedia to re-examine the high-handed and censorious position they took towards it. Many of us foot-soldiers of the movement, rather than the high-flying movers and shakers, consider it contains some very sound analysis.

All Power Corrupts


A View From The Grassy Knoll

In recent days the media have been fixated with the tale of Mark ‘Flash’ Stone (real name Mark Kennedy), the undercover cop who for seven years infiltrated the environmental movement, and who supposedly ended up supporting the movement he was helping to destroy. This Hollywoodesque portrait of Kennedy as some downmarket Donnie Brascoe has appealed to lazy hacks out for a juicy story and denied contact with everyone involved except for a few low-rent media whores and outright traitors. Yet the truth is very different.

The early part of the unmasking of ‘Mark Stone’ will be familiar to activists, or at least the bare bones of it will. He was infiltrated into the movement in 2003, moving to Nottingham, going to the Sumac Centre a few times, and then turning up at that year’s Earth First! Summer Gathering where he began to become known. Over the next seven years he became a main player in the UK environmental movement, going on numerous actions, attending conferences and gatherings, and generally making himself useful, primarily as a driver. He also infiltrated or attempted to infiltrate other movements, both here and abroad.

The sleeping policeman’s downfall came sometime last year when his long-term girlfriend within the movement found a passport in the name of Mark Kennedy, ‘Stone’s real name. The passport also contained the details of a child. Kennedy span an elaborate tale to account for the find, which his girlfriend appeared to accept. Eventually though she spoke to friends about it, and after an investigation traced a birth certificate for the child which gave his father’s occupation as “police officer” (as his paternal grandfather had been) a rather disparate bunch of friends, six in all, confronted their erstwhile comrade. The undercover cop had obviously been trained in how to act if his cover was blown, and after his excuses fell on deaf ears, he burst into tears, seeking the sympathy of those he had so thoroughly betrayed.

The group questioned Kennedy; primarily about themselves it seems, but also about another suspected undercover cop, formerly based in Leeds. Controversially, Kennedy confirmed that she was part of the same unit. How long the questioning went on we do not know because the fruits of it, if there are any, have not been shared with the movement. Kennedy was allowed to go on his way unharmed.

In fact, far from being harmed or intimidated, immediately following the encounter, Kennedy was still so clear-headed, that he telephoned another long-term partner, who the Group of Six had failed to warn, confessed his occupation, and drove some distance with the aim of seeing her. She is merely one of many women within the movement who Kennedy exploited and betrayed during his seven years undercover.

Within days of Kennedy’s ‘outing’, a short piece appeared on Indymedia making his true identity public. There was also a photo of him wearing a large hat which covered his forehead, hair, and ears. This was later supplemented by a second photo, though this seems to have been regarded by many Indymedia posters as little better than the first. Among the incredulity, shock, and disbelief in the 174 comments (plus many more that were ‘hidden’, or censored, by Indymedia moderators) which followed the post were numerous requests for more information and better photos, requests that were for the most part met by irritation by the cognoscenti and their allies.

While many of the close friends and comrades of Stone/Kennedy, outside of the Group of Six, were in fact offered very little forewarning, support, or protection, there was much talk, both on the net and at a well-attended Anarchist Bookfair meeting, about protecting “those closest to him” and about the need for “security” (a bit like closing the barn door after the pig has already bolted). It appears to have been understood by many however, that further information about Kennedy would be made publically available, not least to ensure that his career as an undercover cop really was well and truly over. If assurances were made, as has been claimed, those assurances were broken, no more information has been provided to the movement by the Group of Six, and information posted to Indymedia by others has been subject to censorship at their direction.

Kennedy had lived at several addresses in Nottingham (and obviously elsewhere as a cop), but at the time of his fall from grace he was living on a canal barge he had bought at the beginning of 2010. The boat, called Tamarisk (of which there are several registered narrow boats), was moored close to Nottingham, and in lieu of Kennedy himself, was an obvious target for those he had betrayed. Members of the Group of Six, or others very close to them, apparently assured other activists that the boat would be dealt with. Instead however, it was allowed to simply sail away, much like Kennedy himself. The name of the boat was only exposed as frustrated activists became more and more angry at the lack of any further information about Kennedy and one of them posted it to a heated Indymedia thread, in which the Group of Six were accused of ‘protecting’ Kennedy. That post was ‘hidden’ following a request on the Indymedia moderation list (received on 10th January 2011) from “some of the people directly involved” for any reference to Kennedy’s canal boat, even its very existence, to be expunged from Indymedia. Now why would they want to stop people finding out about Kennedy’s boat?

The only thing surprising about the recent explosion of coverage of the Stone/Kennedy affair is that it took so long to happen. The story first appeared in The Sunday Times on the 19th of December 2010, with a particularly nauseating political slant, and an even more nauseating photo of the (thankfully disbanded) Clown Army. The piece appeared to be largely culled from Indymedia, and was reasonably sympathetic to both Kennedy and to the wet-end of the environmental movement who had clearly planted the story. As with the avalanche of coverage which would come a few weeks later, one of the common themes was the utter worthlessness of the UK environmental movement in terms of infiltration, a slant on the story that appears to have come from the environmentalists themselves and that they would later shamelessly parrot endlessly for the bourgeois media. The cops it seems should have been focussing their resources on less ‘fluffy’ activists than these “hippies and tree-huggers”.

It was the second Ratcliffe-On-Soar trial, which led to the real media frenzy. The story was that a group of protestors had planned to invade and occupy a power station at Ratcliffe, and Kennedy had been a key-player, and arguably an agent provocateur, in the operation. Naturally the cops were tipped off, and swooped arresting 114 activists, and Kennedy, while they were discussing the action at a meeting in Nottingham. Charges were eventually dropped against most of those arrested, including Kennedy of course, with 26 going on to face trial. Despite their knowledge of Kennedy’s involvement, the first group of 20 chose to fight the case on the basis of climate change and an appeal to the liberal sensibilities of the jury, a principled stand which resulted in them all being convicted. Through their lawyer, the remaining six challenged the prosecution’s lack of disclosure regarding Kennedy, and were discharged before their trial could even begin. Despite the media lie that would dominate coverage for days to come, the trial was NOT halted because Kennedy had offered to give evidence for the defence.

What had actually happened was that one of the 6 defendants, Dr Simon Lewis, an inveterate careerist and wealthy academic, but someone with a background in Reclaim The Streets, Earth First!, Dissent, and the Climate Camp (as well as a friend of Special Branch tout and Clown Army founder John Jordan), was so frightened of having his lucrative career damaged by an actual conviction that he contacted the cop, Kennedy, and appealed for his help, insisting that he never intended to go on any action in the first place (which to anyone who knows Lewis is entirely believable). In taped phone conversations which were later acquired by the BBC, Kennedy whines self-pityingly about how much he hates himself, before mumbling about possibly helping. This is as far as any help went. Kennedy’s assistance was of course not required anyway, it was his activities and the fact that they had not been disclosed that was important, not any assistance he might give to a grovelling sell-out like Lewis, someone who is happy to talk to cops to save his own skin.

The false story that the media seized on was that Kennedy had “gone native” and that the trial had collapsed because of his offer of help. It was a lie they were able to run with because of the assistance of traitors who have collaborated with the press, often they have been people who barely knew Kennedy personally. Either way, they have queued up to do the media’s bidding, with Simon Lewis’s posh girlfriend Sophie Stevens, an ‘activist’ with all the pedigree of a Hush Puppy, even appearing on Newsnight. While the media frenzy has been useful in terms of Steven’s CV, and the egos (and perhaps pockets) of the other media whores, the truth about Kennedy “going native” is that it has since transpired he is now working for a private security company.

Yet, despite its nauseating slants and untruths, many activists will have learned more from reading between the lines of the bourgeois media than they ever have from the supposed comrades who conducted the investigation into Kennedy and who have been steadfast in their refusal to disclose further photographs of him or any further information, including his whereabouts. While they may not have anything more to say to the movement, at least one of their number certainly had plenty to say to The Guardian.

Despite being an undercover cop, Kennedy’s vanity meant that he was always posing for photographs, there must be hundreds in existence, yet the Group of Six and their associates have repeatedly claimed they had none. Again, it’s funny how they were available to The Guardian.

Having been allowed to escape, Kennedy now supposedly lives abroad at a location known to the Group of Six, but which they have adamantly refused to disclose on the basis that Kennedy has a wife and teenage son who must be protected. This position is not only a dereliction of duty and an abuse of both power and of trust, but it is a vicious smear against the movement who they are implying are no better than TV gangsters. Such reactionary prejudice has at its basis the innate middle-class fear of ‘the other’, of the uncontrollable ‘mob’ who (in this case) cannot be trusted to deal responsibly and intelligently with information their betters hold safely in keeping. In this they have sided with a cop and with the state.

In the UK Mark Kennedy may have primarily engaged in political activity with ineffectual liberals, and indeed spent most of his time partying in the sleazy semi-retired eco-activist scene inhabited by those now protecting him, but he travelled widely, visiting 22 countries according to The Guardian, and in most of those countries he comported himself differently and mixed with a more militant class of activist. Some of those comrades certainly have more to lose than a few months on a probation order, yet they have been hung out to dry by a tiny clique of party-heads and one-time eco warriors in Nottingham. At the very least they deserve to know that Mark Kennedy is not living on the next street to them.

German activists recently uncovered their own undercover cop, it took them seven months rather than seven years, and the subsequent international press release contained as much information as they were able to gather, as well as excellent photographs. Kennedy spent long periods infiltrating German activist groups, and they are both shocked and astonished by the way things have been handled here. With questions being asked in the German parliament, they may eventually get more answers from the authorities than from their UK comrades.

Despite heavy censorship on Indymedia frustration among some activists is beginning to turn to anger, and the Group of Six have been accused of an unspoken agreement with Kennedy – That he would protect them as best he could, and that in return they would let him walk away, leave his boat alone, not post their archive of photographs and personal information to the net, and not disclose his whereabouts or those of his family. With every day such a theory becomes more compelling.

There is no doubt that Kennedy’s former close friends must be extremely distressed and traumatised by the events of the past six months, but those in the Group of Six have to realise that Kennedy’s activities have implications way beyond themselves, and that they need to behave with a sense of responsibility to the wider movement. Divesting themselves may also help take them towards closure in the affair, instead of prolonging it (by intervening on Indymedia for example). They did a good job in tracing Kennedy’s real identity, but it might then have been better to hand the matter over to other activists who were less emotionally involved. That they did not, and let Kennedy walk away, is unfortunately symptomatic of the middle-class ‘activist’, they never imagine that anyone might be better qualified than themselves. As for Kennedy, he should certainly not have got off so lightly.

Another preoccupation both of the press and of some activists has been how bad poor old Mark Kennedy (the cop who lied to those around him for seven years and betrayed his closest friends and comrades) must be feeling now. We neither care nor are interested. Kennedy supposedly spent his working days hanging from a rope, and we can only hope that one day justice finds him at the end of one.

The Boys on the Grassy Knoll