Alfredo M. Bonanno
Capital extends over whole of the planet in its many expressions at both the socio-economic level and those of repression and control. No tiny geographical corner escapes it, no action anywhere in the world can avoid putting itself in relation with situations everywhere else.
It is not only projects of repression and control that are moving beyond State-capital borders. Specific acts of resistance and attack on the class enemy and insurrectional mass movements are also springing up all over the world.
At the same time demonstrations that put themselves in the optic of revolutionary internationalism, i.e. of struggling alongside oppressed peoples at moments when capital is celebrating its great international programmes, are developing a politically correct attitude.
These struggles get wide consensus and we have also been in favour of them, but the following notes want to be a moment of reflection about the possibilities and, why-not, the limitations of the revolutionary internationalist struggle today.
In the first place, the ‘deadline’. If you think about it, this always fixed by power. The movement runs behind it like a dog after a hot sausage. That carries a whole series of risks. First, it’s not certain that the fixed deadline is really important. It might be that at certain moments the international power of capital holds meetings, conferences, congresses or other such devilry in order to conceal more important decisional processes that are taking place elsewhere. At other times they come out with humanitarian projects that leave people amazed and unable to see why there is any dissent at all, as there is such willingness to solve the problem. Meanwhile, elsewhere, safe in the rooms where occult power meets in dialogues of one or two, traumatic decisions are made that affect millions of lives and cause millions of deaths.
In the second place, the myth of the ‘mass’. It is deemed indis-pensible to draw in the greatest number of people on these grand occasions in order to give a great show of strength. Basically, this second point is closely connected to the first. If one chooses the road of demonstrating—one way or another, we are not talking about methods here—against the great celebrations of the power of international capital, one cannot do anything else. To be seen to be few would have no effect whatsoever, so we come to the question of ‘publicising’ the event through the media, that cannot keep quiet in the face of such actions. In the optic of revolutionary internationalism, the deadlines of capital, mass participation and publicity are therefore elements that need to undergo serious critical debate by the movement.
Demonstrations could just as easily be organised against the real centres of power, and turn out to be no less (if not more) effective. First these centres need to be identified, and this information is not given to us on a plate. It must be expropriated, i.e. subtracted, stolen, taken violently from the organisms that hold and defend it ferociously, precisely because they are aware of its great importance. How much easier it is just to pick up a newspaper and learn that there will be a demonstration on such and such a day, in such and such a country. It’s quicker. One rushes to the appointment, somewhere between a day in the country and a sadomasochistic exercise for muscular boys half way between boy scouts and hooligans. In some countries—here in England for example—such moments are very much sought after in order to give vent to what could be defined the most popular national sport: coming to blows with the police. This mentality is also shared by the English cops (nearly always armed with heavy rubber truncheons) who react furiously but, basically, quite correctly. They fight the attacks carried out by the English movement body to body with typically Anglo-Saxon sportsmanship.
We’re not saying that other things don’t happen, and that another mentality doesn’t also exist in England, let’s just say that the first is decidedly prevalent. However, demonstrations against the real decision-making centres of power might not turn out to be as tempting. They might be considered too dangerous (such places are protected with far more brutal and immediate systems of protection), so one might have recourse to minoritarian actions. To consider this a move away from the mass, a classic flight forward, seems excessive in our opinion. Reality is there in front of our noses, we just need to get the proper documentation. That is certainly difficult, but not impossible. After we get this documentation we can face the problem of whether or not to decide for mass involvement in the action of disturbance, attack, destruction or simply denunciation. There is always the possibility of a minoritarian action.
In the 70s the question of solidarity between the metropolitan proletariat and the poor underdeveloped countries was faced. At that time there was the idea of bringing the ‘third world’ into the metropoli. Later it was said: what was done was in fact an illusion, it didn’t work. In fact it was one of the reasons for the failure of the great closed armed organisations, such as the RAF or the Red Brigades, which mustn’t be repeated. But what alternative has been proposed? Nothing specific. The problem of struggle in the advanced capitalist countries, and the situation of poorer, underdeveloped, third world, etc., countries is still open.
Internationalism is a good thing. But what kind? That of the old ‘brigades’ that took up arms and moved to countries where there was a more advanced level of class struggle, to give their revolutionary contribution? Or platonic support based on denunciation and dissent? Boycotts, sabotage or direct attack on the periferal interests of international capital in the forms where it is most involved in the part of the world that our attention is turned to? There is no easy answer. If nothing other than at the level of the possible effects.
Let’s take the case of Palestine, Afghanistan, Iraq. International capital is involved in these situations. Or Jewish interests in the US or those of the big industrialised countries in the war on Iraq. Attack is always possible, but how can we prevent this attack from simply becoming platonic dissent, so that there ends up being no difference between the destruction of certain interests, peripheral ones, and simply manifesting an opinion of opposition? The problem is not an easy one.
Once one was under the illusion that it would be possible to move great masses of exploited along the model that they were moved by left wing parties and trades unions, but with different objectives. One believed, once upon a time, it seems a thousand years away now, that it would be enough to change the reasons in order for people to move as an ineluctable, almost deterministic fact. Today we need to be clear. It is we ourselves who must move, now, not tomorrow when the prospects of the movement have changed, and capital has also adjusted the its terms of action. And to move today means to attack. What is lacking is not the ‘masses’, but the documentation. In this sense, we believe, there is still a lot of work to be done.
“Anarchismo” n. 62, december 1988. English translation in “Deranged”, Issue 0