Some Pissed Off Los Angeles Anti-Authoritarians

Some Pissed Off Los Angeles Anti-Authoritarians

The following is a collectively-written, anonymous statement on the fiasco with the Maoist-turn within Defend Boyle Heights and their antagonism towards las O.V.A.S.1Overthrowing Vendidos, Authority & the State, the Psyco Brigrade & the radical space La Conxa in Boyle Heights, Los Angeles.

First published here: https://mediarevolt.tumblr.com/ Here we re-publish it in solidarity with these projects. Please feel free to re-share & re-publish this statement.


As pro-revolutionists committed to cultivating revolution, many often look to coalitions to do the work of collaboration and moving with the the oppressed towards revolutionary practice. In actuality, when we work together it’s important to not only iron where we agree and have affinity, but where we disagree and where our affinity diverges, where our strategies might actually be counter to one another: i.e. antagonisms. So that we are not surprised in the future, and we don’t flatten struggles for the sake of false unity.

In Los Angeles, or more accurately, occupied Tongva land, in regards to the recent call to ban and isolate the Psyco Brigade/las O.V.A.s/La Conxa, and Defend NELA and the less recent decision to kick them out of the Defend Boyle Heights coalition:

  • There is information conveniently being left out of the conversation by DBH – namely, that the Los Angeles Red Guards and, their front-group project Serve the People, (coalition members of Defend Boyle Heights) were previously banned from the La Conxa space last year 2018 June due to predatory mactivist behavior and recruitment tactics.
  • The OVAs/Pscyo Brigade was kicked out from the Defend Boyle Heights coalition after they had started detailing “red flags,” or concerning dynamics and behaviors by coalition members: which had resulted in boundaries being set to exclude Red Guards and STP-LA from La Conxa. Just prior to making a presentation on these red flags within the Defend Boyle Heights Coalition, they were kicked out of the coalition for what they call “identity opportunism”. *Essentially, this term describes a tenet of Maoist ideology. Mainly that “identity politics” is seen as a non-politics since it does not build-up to their desired unified Maoist party line. So then, for Maoists “identity opportunists” are those who they conceive as using their identity as a way to push an agenda other than Maoism. A topsy-turvy inversion of the notion of identity as a site of varied oppressions.
  • Since the call for isolation was released one of the signees has come forward disclosing that they did not consent to signing the statement and actually contradicted the narrative of events set forth in the statement (the O.V.A.’s were not kicked out of an event for death threats). This, and other information, casts serious doubt on the alleged death threats and the credibility of the statement in its entirety.

Consequently the drafters of this statement want to offer some solidarity, counter-narrative and perspective to those being asked to sign onto the ban and enforce isolation of the Psyco Brigade/OVAS.

  • We remind ourselves of the autonomy and resilience of groups and people free to respond however they desire/need to, defensively or offensively, to predatory recruitment tactics by overt vanguardist organizations. For the purposes of this paper, vanguardist organizations refer to groups who themselves claim vanguardism as a central strategy of their intent, purpose and organizing. Those vanguardist entities which position themselves as the higher authority or specialized professionals in the liberatory movements of oppressed people- the saviors, gatekeepers, proselytizers and managers reproduced in resistance movements.
  • We support the role of self and communal determination in combating rank opportunism by left-authoritarian organizations working under the cover of coalitions. To be in coalition is to be in collaboration. Coalitions often hold space for multiple affinities with some strong clear principles and boundaries that bring people together for a shared goal or desired outcome. Some of these left orgs use coalitions as cover to recruit people to their ideology and specifically, their party or organization, and then isolate those who they view as “competition” in the ideological social war when recruitment does not go according to plan. By left-authoritarian we mean those in the broad leftwing who view hierarchy, coercion, state-power, organized authority and policing as a means to an end: sometimes known as authoritarian socialism or Communism.
  • We oppose predatory behavior and macktivism for the purposes of recruitment, gaining information and access to space and communities, resulting in collectives and spaces feeling infiltrated. Infiltration is not just an overt act from state agents, but tactics used to gain and manipulate information, access and people, by those convinced their own goals outweigh the dynamics it takes to get there (their ends justify their means). This is not the spirit of collaboration, camaraderie and liberation we seek and spark, which definitely holds within it space for disagreement and rupture. This is symptomatic of an authoritarian tendency in organizing that seeks to control and manipulate instead of empower us to engage in our own liberation. We do not embrace a false equivalence, or conception of liberal notions of equality, by presuming infiltration is weaponized against all genders the same way, toward the same end, with the same impact.
  • Ideological divisions exist and have been amplified as the OVAs/Psyco Brigade has developed their commitment to collective autonomy and revolution which leans more toward autonomy, self-organization and a flattening of hierarchies. This cannot be overlooked as a key ideological divide with some of the forces at play within Defend Boyle Heights.
  • Gender (and race, ability, sexuality, and more) is not a secondary identity to that of the exploited worker /proletariat engaged in class war. We are, of any gender, engaged in class war. We are, as women, as nonbinary folks, as trans and gender nonconforming people, as men, engaged in class war in particular ways that include all of the iterations in which class war shows up in our lives. We will not, as the below quote by Red Guards LA posits, wait until after a theoretical socialist revolution to use subsequent waves of revolution to “collectivize domestic/reproductive labor” to resolve “the contradiction between men and women”. The contradiction is truly in the daily enforcement of gender as yet another role and job under capitalism and society that is associated with treatment/mistreatment and produces (and is produced by) bosses, masters, and #theotherPig. We will not attack capitalism without also attacking this society. This is not a distraction from class war, this is an amplification of class war.
    • “After the revolution the socialist construction of the dictatorship of the proletariat with a reconstruction and collectivization of domestic/reproductive labor will initially resolve the contradiction between men and women. Subsequent cultural revolutions can also resolve the more aggressive residue patriarchal ideas that linger on as the dying old ideas of a dying old world.”.
  • As a coalition that has repeatedly and openly not only called for violence, but shamed others for not being down for “revolutionary violence” we find their response to these unsubstantiated death threats to be disingenuous and oddly opportunistic ideologically. Threats of death are serious accusations that concern trust, safety and security and should have nothing to do with DBH’s purported qualifications and judgment of the O.V.As as revolutionary or not. In fact, it is common for women in revolutionary movements to be used for their anger and furious organizing efforts until it is no longer convenient or threatens an established order of things. Bash back, which is a hxstoricaly queer, trans, lgbtq, women, femme direct response tactic, has always been a form of communal defense and revolutionary violence. For example, in 2014 Queerpocalypse descended on the Los Angeles Anarchist bookfair flipping tables and posting up outside the event, in a rejection of “inclusivity” models dealing with queer representation in anarchism and leftism. Folks were agitating the space, addressing centuries long antagonisms between default representation politics, hetnormativity in organizing spaces and the reality of struggle and oppression, especially within “anarchist” spaces. Lived experience and agitation sometimes rises to meet and challenge our theoretical revolutionary spaces- this is not identity opportunism. We insist on inviting our whole selves into our movements or they are not our movements; and we refuse for our participation to be reduced to another form in which we are treated as exploitable workers devoid of our actual selves.
  • Beware the forces you breathe life into. It is one thing to call for a boycott of local businesses or nonprofits and expect automatic compliance. It is another to apply the same tactic and strategy on more autonomously self-organized collectives and spaces. We will not fault the OVAs/Psyco Brigade for being who they have always been, women and marginalized genders self-organized toward revolution, and growing into understandings that do not fall in line with left-authoritarian ideologies.
  • “A lack of accountability to a higher power” is often weaponized against autonomous folks or anarchists in an intent to portray us as independent and unrelated to the communities we organize in. Defend Boyle Heights is not the higher power we are looking to empower to regulate self-organized community efforts that don’t align or fall in line with their ideology or strategy. Are you?
  • We have seen time and time again: even abusers and misogynists receive the benefit of the doubt of Transformative Justice processes, and it is suspicious to see no commentary or transparency detailing any attempts to resolve this issue or address the underlying root issues being dismissed as “identity opportunism”. We look to other iterations in Los Angeles in which figureheads, leaders and organizations have fallen under intense, necessary but methodical scrutiny complete with fact-finding, testimony and even tribunals. Even in such cases arising to the occasion of physical violence and abuse in the name of revolution, after evidence, proof and process that had been gathered, the entire organization was not banned or called to disband. It is one thing to dissociate, break coalition, rupture, and another entirely to call for isolation and actively campaign for isolation. Collective autonomy- collective disposability we oppose the isolation of a radical collective in its entirety due to the actions or threats of a few. This is not accountability, but collective punishment. Even as we recognize the autonomy of each person and the responsibility of our organizing efforts to hold ourselves accountable, to call for such a broad ban and isolation without due diligence and full transparency of the above details regarding coalition member organizations is negligent, amounts to gatekeeping and reminds us of carceral politics that would dispose of community members altogether with no attention to interpersonal hxstories and real-time dynamics.

Further:

  • We recognize that not all our comrades are familiar with the differences in principles, strategies and tactics between left authoritarian v. more autonomous anti authoritarian organizing within leftist and revolutionary frameworks and communities in general. We caution against dismissing these contradictions as “sectarianism” when there are real time behaviors and interpersonal dynamics in organizing practice that show up according to these lines.
  • We know these dynamics and contradictions between revolutionist ideologies are not limited to this time and place. We encourage others to detail their “red flags” and how authoritarian leftism is showing up in their communities, at the cost of their autonomous & anti-authoritarian organizing.
  • DBH takes an openly-Maoist line against identity politics which views any sort of attention to identity, other than one’s class position, as being liberal, revisionist or anti-communist. Those of us drafting this piece come from a variety of identities and understand that our lived experience goes beyond our class-belonging (but also includes it): women are harassed on the streets regardless of class; Black people are subjected to gratuitous violence by the police regardless of income; queer people are coerced into heteronormative lifestyles regardless of their job title and people with disabilities which make the sale of their labor-power difficult still are forced to pay for their own livelihood. To say these identities are inconsequential is not only offensive, it deeply misunderstands the nature of the capitalist society we live in and therefore defaults to /privileges entrenched power systems inextricably interlocked with capitalism. But DBH calls attention to all this “identity-opportunism.” As though there is any explicitly gained opportunity, and at the expense of the community or liberatory efforts, to being a woman, a Black person, queer, or a person with a disability, or facing the multiplicity of these experiences in this capitalist, hierarchical and authoritarian structured world.

Conclusion:

those of us that have drafted this statement are not locked-away in our ivory towers, writing out abstract essays for academic consumption. We’ve been involved in organizing, creating radical propaganda, putting on events, facilitating workshops, hitting the streets and other forms of radical action, solidarity & mutual aid. We write this because we know how destructive this type of Left-Authoritarian organizing is to the goals we have and we must defend each other against these types of attacks whether from the Left or the Right.

Some Pissed Off ‘Los Angeles’ Anti-Authoritarians

 


To financially support these projects see here.

 

The Rasquache Way

The Rasquache Way

By Noche

Ni de aquí, ni de allá. Neither from here, nor there. An old Chicanx saying that still rings true but tired, with a Chicano-Studies dullness…like Gloria Anzaldúa speaking to us from the other side telling us that the border is a wound, but paraphrasing Cesar Miguel we rather maintain that instead the border is the knife. We also have Corky Gonzales telling us of the great hope of José Vasconcelo‘s raza cósmica for Chicanxs: a hope that is but an inversion of Social Darwinism, infused with anti-blackness & anti-Native erasure and sold as a sort of metaphysical eugenics. It seems we’re in need of some rhetorical updating.

Continue reading “The Rasquache Way”

An experimental thread on the commune & communism

An experimental thread on the commune & communism

We originally posted this on twitter here. We learned that some of the text formatting on there made it difficult for people to read it. So we share it here de-twitter-ized.We don’t deny the necessity of organization in toto but we reject the primacy of The Mass Organization™ as an a priori necessity for class struggle. The organizational forms necessary to class struggle (proletarian self-abolition) arise from the struggle itself. As we see it, the commune is not necessarily a thing to be built in the absence of a general struggle but rather it is a communist way of life that arises from the struggle itself. Its arrival is not merely due to an ‘organizational’ preference by proles. It simply is the beginning of a way to sustain the antagonism of the struggle, to help prolong a rupture in capitalist space/time logic so that the revolt can further generalize & de-specialize.

The commune is mobile because it’s not just a thing in space/time but how people relate to each other and to the land. A re-integration into the metabolism of the world, not a domination over it (as Marx once noted) The commune is not the end goal, but it is a form (filled with communist content) likely to arise as part of the proletarian communist movement set to destroy the world we live in. Some attempts to build the commune now end up as enclaves or the work of self-selected specialists who have the capacity to independently suspend their condition as proles. Or perhaps they never were proles at all, or are intentionally déclasséd. Collective living is not itself revolutionary. The media has published instances of very wealthy white young professionals now seeking “collective housing” as a way to network or unload the burden of social reproduction: someone else washes their clothes, does the dishes or turns are taken in cooking meals. It seems even the bourgeois long for connection in our hyper-atomized society.

Now the commune is not meant to be a space for the self-selected or specialists. The commune is not intended to be the center of communal life nor is it really a place. Though it would be a recognizable node within a largely decentralized mesh network. It would be porous & allow movement in and out of it. It would not be a new Nation-state with borders.

Struggle specialists will have us think radical democracy would be a feature of the commune. We maintain democracy is what we do with those we don’t trust (or for life or death situations). Would we need to gather for a vote to decide who will be the DJ at the harvest party? Decisions would be made but no longer will decision-making be a specialized and alienated sphere from everyday life. It’s just what we do cuz life requires decisions. This immediacy means the commune is inherently anti-political.

The commune is mobile because it’s not just a thing in space/time but how people relate to each other and to the land. A re-integration into the metabolism of the world, not a domination over it (as Marx once noted). This is why communism must be anti-colonial. Those of us who have maintained a deep connection to an original human culture borne of a deep interaction with the land we are on have a knowledge more necessary to our lives than anything Western science has ascertained in the last 500 years.

The strength of the commune would not merely be its defensive measures but the the intensity of need that proles-in-abolition have for it. This is why it would have to abolish race & gender as a site of oppression, though this does not entail the abolition of difference. If anything social-communal life would deepen & enrichen because no longer would the basics of life be meted by the market based on who you are, how you choose to live and express yourself. Culture, now de-commodified, returns to its pre-capitalist richness & malleability.Communists who view life only economically have historically created a social life that is flattened and impoverished. They confuse means with ends. They view meeting “needs” as the goal of social life; rather than social life as a way of meeting our primary need: each other. Further the division of human life between needs & not-needs is an economistic way of viewing things. We are more than machines requiring fuel. Communism would necessarily overcome this economistic way of viewing ourselves & our lives.

Anti-politics…explained

Anti-politics…explained

Here is our attempt to explain what anti-politics means to us and how we link it to communization and ultimately to communism.

Anti-politics: action and theory that posits itself against the sphere of politics (and therefore also political-economy). Politics being the sphere of power, alienation, mediation and domination. In this way anti-politics questions & attacks the mediation & coercion found in democracy; the centrality & domination of the economy (whether capitalist or not) in our lives, patriarchy & its deadly logic; settler-colonialism & its persistence; questions whether the breadth of human desires could ever constitute a unitary & enumerated positive program and opens itself up to the possibility of affinities of shared antagonism with those who do not explicitly express themselves politically but nonetheless attack that which anti-politics is set against (i.e. rioters).

Continue reading “Anti-politics…explained”

But we have to so we do it real slow…

But we have to so we do it real slow…

This is an essay first written in 2015 and published in 2016 for a now-defunct project. Here is an revised version by the original author who now works on this project (which we had shared previously in zine format).

In Los Angeles to be against Capital typically presents itself in a pro-work/worker position. The problem is never work itself, the nature of work or that work is waged but instead what is desired is extending a sphere of work that is unionized and bolstered with higher wages. Take for instance the CLEAN Carwash campaign[1], where carwash workers (whom are mostly immigrant men) have been unionized under the representation of United Steelworkers Local 675.[2] Though this move one is that brings much needed betterment of working conditions and wages for these workers, what is ultimately not brought up is that the work of a car wash workers can and has already been automated. But the fading labor movement seems to be no longer concerned with the overthrow of capitalism nor the abolition of work. That dream is a dream that has been lost along with the labor movement itself.

Continue reading “But we have to so we do it real slow…”

For anarchy, not anarchism

For anarchy, not anarchism

Why for anarchy and not for anarchism? This may seem like a small point to split hairs over but it is a point which is important to us. It is important because we are interested in a vital anarchist (anti-state communist) milieu. For us anarchism points to the notion that there could be a special set of practices (forms) which can be found out to be complentary for a free life for all. We feel this is foolish and assumes human life could ever take on a singular form. Life should take on the form necessary for its free reproduction, unlike its current state which only serves those who rule/control us.

Continue reading “For anarchy, not anarchism”

Fortress L.A. in the 21st Century

Fortress L.A. in the 21st Century
This essay was first published almost two years ago in August of 2016 by a friend of the project. We re-publish it here as we feel it is more timely than ever as the struggle grows against ICE, borders and, more generally, against this whole carceral society.

“Positioned increasingly as a ‘capital of capital’ in the Pacific Basin, Los Angeles has been surging toward the ranks of the three other capitals of global capital, New York, London, and Tokyo (its Pacific Rim cohort). […] Los Angeles broadcasts its self-imagery so widely that probably more people have seen this place – or at least fragments of it – than any other on the planet. As a result, the seers of Los Angeles have become countless, even more so as the progressive globalization of its urban political economy flows along similar channels, making Los Angeles perhaps the epitomizing world-city, une ville de venue monde.

Edward Soja, Postmodern Geographies: The Reassertion of Space in Critical Social Theory1

Our Present Material Conditions in Los Angeles

“Los Angeles is barely treading water while the rest of the world is moving forward. We risk falling further behind in adapting to the realities of the 21st century and becoming a City in decline. […] Los Angeles is sinking into a future in which it no longer can provide the public services to which our people’s taxes entitle them and where the promises made to public employees about a decent and secure retirement simply cannot be kept. City revenues are in long-term stagnation and expenses are climbing. Year by year, our City – which once was a beacon of innovation and opportunity to the world – is becoming less livable”

The Los Angeles 2020 Commission (Dec. 2013)2

Continue reading “Fortress L.A. in the 21st Century”

This House Is A Fence

This House Is A Fence

The wood-slate fence has jumped from being a simple signifier of “this house has been flipped” to becoming a part of the construction of the house itself. The above is a photo of an actual house in Boyle Heights being offered for rent at $2995 for 3 bedrooms.

Whereas previously the function of this fence was to shield its new, well-heeled owners from the insufficiently gentrified neighborhood, these wood-slates now are free to signify “flipped” no matter where they are placed on the home. Continue reading “This House Is A Fence”

About Hating Art

About Hating Art

by Asmodeus

Basically the art world exists to make money for a small number of people and to make a larger number of people feel like they’re cool. The first purpose is just capitalism. The second is an effect of capitalism, because only in a world as ridiculous as ours would standing around in mostly empty white rooms be considered a valid form of community. This probably sounds cynical, and in a way it is. But if you think about it, the fact that lots of people have nothing better to do with their “free” time than to stand around in mostly empty white rooms, rooms that make a huge amount of money for other people, is a good reason to destroy pretty much everything.

Continue reading “About Hating Art”

The Broad: Class Hatred, Concentrated

The Broad: Class Hatred, Concentrated

Originally published on Ediciones Chafa on May 24th, 2016. Here we re-publish it so that it can continue to be accessible for those of us with a critical view on Art and its role under Capital.

by Asmodeus, a friend of the project.

Eli Broad is a multibillionaire. He made his fortune constructing tract homes, which is to say by pumping hot air into the pre-2007 real estate bubble. Later he moved into life insurance as well. Some of that money ended up bailing out LA’s Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) around the time the housing market was going south – the museum had been hemorrhaging funds for years. It was a maneuver that some have described as closer to a hostile takeover than an act of philanthropy. Notably, Broad’s intervention was closely tied to the arrival of a new director – the gallerist Jeffrey Deitch – who fired the museum’s widely admired chief curator, Paul Schimmel, in 2012. Other wads of cash ended up at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) – where the donor had Renzo Piano build the quasi-autonomous Broad Contemporary Art Museum – as well as the Los Angeles Opera, which promptly used the funds to stage a full production of Wagner’s Ring Cycle. These actions, among others, won Broad a reputation in the art world as LA’s resident Maecenas-cum-Evil Emperor, with Deitch, perhaps, playing the role of a bumbling Darth Vader.

Continue reading “The Broad: Class Hatred, Concentrated”