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REVOLT WITHOUT MEMBERSHIP CARDS

 

It has always been a bit odd to me that anarchists in the United States so often situate themselves among political activists, those specialists in issues and demands, rather than among the outsiders – both those excluded by society and those who choose to live beyond its rules. Are we not, after all, rebels above all else, committed to revolt and not reform? In fact, many anarchists think of themselves as the most authentic manifestation of revolt. When they want to see a rebel, they simply look in a mirror. In their eyes, only those who rise up against authority with a fully developed revolutionary consciousness, moved by clear values of equality and freedom and endowed with an immaculate ethic are true rebels and only their activity can be considered revolt. Those spurred only by their daily experience of boredom, restlessness, anguish and the pain of life in this society rather than by a high ideal, may, at best, be granted condescending recognition as manifestations of the horrors imposed by this society.

But, in fact, revolt recognizes neither membership cards nor adherence to the revolutionary program – not even that of the anarchists. No doubt, there is a chasm between Durruti and John Dillinger – that is a given. But what interests me is revolt as such, not merely anarchist revolt. And this interest does not spring from a desire to co-opt these, but to free the energy of revolt from the dead weight of a univocal ideological interpretation. Thus, revolt, as I understand it, is not the prudent adherence to an ideal program (that so frequently seems to become, in practice, an excuse for distancing oneself from revolt), but rather a rupture of the order desired and imposed by those in power – the breaking of a custom, a schema, a convention, a dogma. Though the results of such a rupture may be partial when compared with thought-out anarchist revolt, this does not make such a rupture the negation of the anarchist project. It is true that the student who pisses on his school records is not the revolutionary who shoots the king, but who is to say that he couldn’t evolve in that direction? In fact, anarchists have always tended to have confidence in the generalization of the subversive virus, in its capacity to spread contagiously – how else have insurrections blossomed from the rage of the exploited? Revolt intoxicates the senses, stimulates the mind and has an unforgettable flavor; once tasted it enters into the blood forever. But even if this were not so, even if all these unknowns – who escape passivity to become the protagonists of their lives, even if only for a moment – later end up putting up with a comfortable position in a bank, why shouldn’t I give space to all the little sparks that break out, if only for a moment, illuminating the dark night to which the rulers of this order would like to condemn us all? Has resignation so thoroughly invaded our hearts that they won’t even beat for the child who disobeys?

Of course, as an anarchist, I make distinctions. I have made a conscious choice regarding my life and my struggle, my path is straight as a dagger’s blade and I will travel it to the end. But this does not mean that those who have not made this conscious decision, who have not chosen the same path, are my enemies or nonentities to be held in contempt. As an anarchist, I, in fact, feel closer to the one who rebels against the conditions of their life without any political ideology than I do to the activists whose political programs more often than not somebody’s ladder for climbing the pyramid of political power.

In response to those who worry about the credentials of those who have carried out such actions, I would remind them that only cops demand IDs. They need to know who to watch in order to protect the social order. But there are also those anarchists who think this, seeking to protect the good name of the movement by keeping an eye on those who rebel, carefully defining and monitoring their credentials. Like the state’s police, those so-called anarchists who want to protect the movement also must feel distrust and even hatred for that which they do not know. Those who have no interest in controlling anyone couldn’t care less who was beating a cop, vandalizing a church, pillaging a supermarket, attacking a military facility. When those who carry out such acts are unknown, all that matters to me is the poetry with which they resonate, the marvelous poetry of revolt. Everything else is police conjecture that strives to destroy this poetry.

(Thanks to the editors of Canenero whose writing laid the basis for this article)

 


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