[Hpn] Anarchist Statement on GOP and Democratic Conventions

Coalition on Homelessness, SF coh@sfo.com
Tue, 01 Aug 2000 23:46:22 -0700


http://www.phillyimc.org/article.pl?sid=00/08/02/0011224
Tuesday August 01, @08:12PM

Anarchist Statement on GOP and Democratic Conventions

By Anarchists


llustration of Carville with @ T-shirt:

"It's the STATE, stupid!"

"We make war upon the State as the chief invader of person and property,
as the cause of substantially all the crime and misery that exist, as
itself the most gigantic criminal extant. It manufactures criminals
faster than it punishes them. It exists to create and sustain the
privileges which produce economic and social chaos. It is the sole
support of the monopolies which concentrate wealth and learning in the
hands of a few and disperse poverty and ignorance among the masses to
the increase of which inequality the increase of crime is directly
proportional. It protects a minority in plundering the majority by
methods too subtle to be understood by the victims, and then punishes
such unruly members of the majority as an attempt to plunder others by
means too simple and straightforward to be recognized by the State as
legitimate, crowning its outrages by deluding scholars and philosophers
... into pleading, as an excuse for its infamous existence, the
necessity of repressing crime which it steadily creates." - Benjamin R.
Tucker, 1882

Some of you may be wondering why a bunch of anarchists would grace the
Republican and Democratic national conventions with our presence, even
as protesters. Aren't we just legitimizing these clownish coronation
ceremonies?

The short answer is that we're here to highlight the real issues - the
outrages ignored by our two-party system and the tweedle-dee,
tweedle-dum candidates it spawns. Like racism, sexism, homophobia,
neoliberalism, the prison industrial complex, "welfare reform," the war
on drugs, and the death penalty.

But to tell the whole truth, the clownishness has its attractions. Where
better than at these overexposed summit meetings of the office holders
and their corporate patrons can we spotlight our repressive political
system at its most phony and hypocritical - when "the people" choose
"their" candidates for the highest political office in the State?
Nowhere else is the myth of popular representation so clearly revealed
than at these huge, hollow exercises in "democracy."

Because the dirty secret is that NONE of the injustices mentioned above
can be solved within the framework of the State or of the present
American political system - not racism, not neoliberalism, not the death
penalty. "Reforming" the campaign finance system, passing tougher rules
against corporate greedsters, electing Ralph Nader president - none of
these changes will salvage a "democratic" system that is run
fundamentally for the benefit of a politico-corporate elite of hacks,
hucksters and the propertied few. Because this system will never be a
democracy.

We're coming to Los Angeles and Philadelphia to voice our demand for
what we understand to be the elements of a real democracy: real freedom,
real self-determination, and public decision making that involves each
and every individual and every community, not just a privileged,
self-selecting elite. Because only a cooperative society built on mutual
aid and the principle of nonhierarchical decision making, where folks
don't have to depend on elected "representatives," bought and paid for
by the powerful, to articulate their desires, can solve the problems
that Bush, Gore, and the fat cats who picked them are paid to ignore.

Six myths about American "democracy"

Myth #1: Exercising his/her right to vote gives the ordinary citizen
ultimate control over the political process. Fat chance. The propertied
elites that control our political institutions have an arsenal of
sophisticated techniques for controlling public opinion. We call it
manufacturing consent. Its tools include - but are not limited to -
advertising, corporate control of major media, and the two-party system.
When folks get suspicious and start looking for the truth behind the
curtain of obfuscation, they're derided as "conspiracy theorists."

Elections give you the power to choose between two sides of the same
coin. They DON'T empower you to change the system, to participate
directly in society's decision making process. Political candidates
serve up phony agendas for change while taking their marching orders
from corporate patrons behind the scenes. They ALL do this: black,
white, gay, straight, male, female. To place your trust in the electoral
process is to trust a symbol to become a person who identifies with you.
It won't happen.

As an alternative, we suggest direct action. Going on strike gives you a
real voice. Demonstrating in defiance of police orders gives you a real
voice. Working within your community to build cooperative alternatives
to society's megalithic political/economic structures gives you an
active role in creating a better world. That's not just politics, that's
Revolution. As Martha Ackelsberg wrote, "Direct action [means] that the
goal of any and all these activities [is] to provide ways for people to
get in touch with their opwn powers and capacities, to take back the
power of naming themselves and their lives."

Or, as Gil Scott-Heron rapped, "The Revolution will put you in the
driver's seat."

Myth #2: The state is our friend. It gives us Medicare, Social Security,
cheap housing loan - the social safety net. And didn't government give
us civil rights? These good things came about because millions of
people, pushed to the end of their rope by the Great Depression and
centuries of oppression, demanded them. The U.S. government only began
to embrace social welfare - in the form of Social Security, Aid to
Families with Dependent Children, cheap housing loans and other such
benefits - when it appeared that the alternative was revolution. The
Cold War soon followed, creating a new rivalry between the U.S. and
another political system that promised better living - and greater
equality: Soviet Communism. So the benefits kept on coming for a few
more years: the G.I. bill, Medicare, disability insurance, the civil
rights laws.

But today, the Soviet threat is no more. America is the only remaining
superpower. And our elite proclaims the "end of history," with market
capitalism" the only remaining legitimate ideology. So the same elite
that put the social safety net in place is now busy dismantling it.
Disability has been gutted; AFDC has been gutted. Social Security and
Medicare are next. Anarchists and labor leftists in the 1930s warned the
workers against depending on the state to provide benefits the workers
should be providing for themselves, because one day the state will
decide to go back on its promises.

They were right. To depend on government to nurture a more equal society
is to set yourself up for betrayal.

Myth #3: Capitalists love small government. The present system keeps
them under control. Capitalists LOVE big government! Let's put this in
perspective: Corporations, like the State, are legal entities whose
charters are written by powerful people. These people's interests are to
keep their kind in power.

Large corporations couldn't exist without large expenditures, subsidies
and tax breaks on research and development - courtesy of the State.
Corporations couldn't crack open new markets in the developing world
without the muscle supplied by the Office of the US Trade
Representative. Corporations couldn't act with impunity against their
employees and anyone else who attempts to hinder their progress without
compliant judges, bureaucrats and politicians. In fact, corporations
would never have grown into the monoliths they now are without the vast
edifice of legal protections that their cronies in Congress and the
states have built up over the last hundred years.

The State created this monster. Don't look to the State to dismantle it.

Myth #4: The state protects us against violence and vigilantism.
Wouldn't gun control and international peacekeeping be impossible
without the rule of law? The State is a hardened, compulsive, habitual
killer! The legal codes of the U.S. and the various states sanction and
institutionalize the death penalty. The U.S. military, in its various
roles, has spread death and desolation in developing countries all over
the world (think Vietnam, Iraq, Yugoslavia), and has allied itself with
tyrants and thugs who promote America's agenda through violence. Worst
of all, it was State policy that commanded the creation of nuclear
weapons - the greatest instruments of mass destruction of all time.
Whatever feeble efforts the U.S. government may make in the direction of
controlling small, personal firearms can't begin to make up for the
actual and potential damage its own policies and methods of violence
have perpetrated.

There's only one way to disarm the killers: Abolish the State.

Myth #5: The US Constitution is one of the great milestones for personal
freedom. The Bill of Rights protects us from tyranny. Tell that to death
row denizens who have had their right of habeas corpus effectively taken
away. Tell that to union members whose right to organize has been
steadily eroded. Tell that to people of color whose rights are
supposedly protected by the 13th, 14th and 15th amendments. Tell that to
women who have been trying to vain to pass an Equal Rights Amendment for
almost 100 years. Tell that to protesters in Seattle, Washington, DC,
and innumerable other places who have been gassed, clubbed, denied their
right to peaceful assembly, and held illegally in overcrowded jails.
Tell that to homosexuals who, for no legal reason, have been
consistently treated as less than full citizens by the military and
other State institutions. Shall we go on?

Bottom line: the State's so-called legal protections apply only to the
powerful. Not to you.

Myth #6: "Democracy is the worst system of government ever created -
except for all the others." - Winston Churchill Churchill got it wrong.
Folks have been organizing themselves successfully into nonhierarchical,
self-directed communities for hundreds of years. Examples include pirate
republics in the Caribbean during the 18th and 19th centuries, Ukrainian
peasants during the Russian Revolution, the peasants of Andalusia and
the working class population of Barcelona during the Spanish Civil War.
These were not just failed experiments. They were vital, functioning
societies based on principles of equality, that were attracting recruits
from other, oppressed groups and therefore had to be put down - by the
State.

Myth #7: Everything would be OK if we could just elect a socialist or
social democratic party to power. Then we could have a humanistic system
of government. The common denominator of all socialist or social
democratic parties - from New Deal Democrats in the U.S. at the most
moderate end to the European Social Democratic parties with their
cradle-to-the-grave public welfare programs - is that they pin their
hopes for creating a better society on the State. Yet every regime that
can vaguely be described as social democratic - from New Deal Democrats
in the U.S. at the most moderate end to the European Social Democratic
parties with their cradle-to-the-grave public welfare programs - has
systematically betrayed their commitments to the people over the past
decade.

They have privatized industries, cut pension benefits, and otherwise
torn up the social safety net that they themselves put in place. Why? To
stay "competitive." To attract the very corporate investors who are
promoting the destruction of State-run welfare in the U.S. To attract
donations from those investors. To put in place a neoliberal, free-trade
agenda that the people had no place in creating and no interest in
supporting.

Socialism that depends on government - on the State - is not real
socialism.

What next?

R2K/D2K are our chance to let the whole country know that the State
isn't the answer. That the State has failed the people. That it's time
for us to build a better society without the State.

The next step is for us to return to our communities and continue our
struggle against the instruments of the State - the military and prison
industrial complexes, the machinery of the death penalty, the legalized
bandits known as corporations, the secret institutions (CIA, FBI) that
exercise a hidden tyranny over us, and the unjust laws that perpetuate
poverty and inequality. Don't vote - ACT! Work within your community to
directly demand an end to these institutions, and to create cooperative
mechanisms to carry on the positive work of society.

As anarchists, we believe that only a cooperative society based on
mutual aid will allow each and every one of us to live in abundance and
harmony, to express our desires freely, and to create a community that
saves the earth rather than destroying it. We can start to achieve these
goals now, through direct action. But until we smash the State, we will
only have made a beginning.

------------ Current web version of this statement available at:
http://www.infoshop.org/conventions_statement.html



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