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Anarchist Statement on GOP and Democratic Conventions

by North American Anarchists Wednesday, Aug. 16, 2000 at 12:03 AM
chuck@tao.ca

A statement from a few anarchists about the spectacle known as the American Two Party system

Anarchist Statement on GOP and Democratic Conventions

Illustration 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.

More info at: http://www.infoshop.org/conventions_statement.html

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