Anarchist purges anarchist, no news at 11 by “Lefty” Hooligan

Hooligan Header
It’s an infamous MRR cover. Number 130, March 1994. Tim Yo designed it, although I don’t remember who put it together. A slew of Marvel Comic style action figure characters surround the headline “Superheroes of the Underground??” A bald buff super skinhead labeled Hawdkaw Man, further marked with A.F. for Agnostic Front, growls: “I stomp da pussies wit an attitude as big as my 20 eyelet Docs!!” Str8 Edge Man, a caped Superman clone with Shelter on his chest, proclaims: “I convert the hostile flocks with a 1-2 punch of Religion & Republicanism!” Pop Man, aka Green Day, reveals: “I lull my opponents into complacency with dippy love songs!” And the snark continues with snide remarks from Metal Man (The Melvins), Emo Man (Still Life), Vegan Man (Profane Existence), Grunge Man (Nirvana), and Arty Farty Man (sporting an Alternative Tentacles logo).

Tim put this cover together for the issue in which he announced MRR’s Great Purge, in which Tim proclaimed that nothing but the most primitive, the most basic, the most raw rock and roll would be deemed punk. That’s how punk rock began in the mid-to-late 70s; two or at most three chords, distorted and undifferentiated, loud and fast. Ignoring the debate over whether punk first began in the UK or USA, and disregarding whether it was the Ramones or the Sex Pistols that started punk, punk did not remain primal or simple or crude for long. Musicians brought their histories and influences to the music, the music cross-pollinated and hybridized with other music, and both the music and the musicians got more sophisticated with time. By 1993, punk was a welter of styles, categories and scenes. And by the end of 1993, Tim had decided to purge punk rock down to its roots and to restrict the magazine he ran, MRR, to this limited musical content.

I’ve described when Tim Yo announced the firing of Jeff Bale at a year end General Meeting in December of 1993. I’ve called that the Great Purge when, in fact, the most contentious agenda item at that meeting for most of the shitworkers present was Tim’s decision to severely curtail the kind of music MRR considered reviewable as punk. And Tim’s Great Purge was indeed two-fold—firing Jeff Bale and purging punk music. Tim was by no means a raving Maoist when he ran MRR, but he’d had his political upbringing in the New Communist Movement of the 1970s. I remember Tim discussing afterwards his strategy going into the December 1993 meeting, and I’ll liberally paraphrase it from a previous column: “I combined an attack on the right with an attack on the left. I cut down the stuff we would review as punk, knowing that Jeff would be one hundred percent behind my decision. At the same meeting I took out Jeff. I played the right and the left against each other, just like Stalin did.”

That Tim Yo might have been involved with the RCP at one time, or admired Stalin, or even sometimes ran MRR as Mao might are such a small part of what the man was or what he did. But it does help me to segue into my broader subject. While it is hard to apologize for Tim’s overtly authoritarian tendencies, it isn’t hard to admire his appreciation for punk rock’s musical purity. The urge to purify, the impetus to purge an individual, organization, art form, culture, politics, or society of incorrectness, error, impurity, deviance, corruption, decadence, or evil; that’s what I’m talking about here. For a recent and particularly insidious example of this, lets turn to anarchist politics in the San Francisco Bay Area and the efforts of identity anarchists to purge post-left anarchists.

I have little sympathy for either of the two tendencies acting out this sordid drama. Post-left anarchism categorically rejects the Left, from the social democracy and Marxism-Leninism of the Old Left to the Maoism and Third Worldism of the New Communist Movement that devolved from the New Left, as well as any anarchism that is in the least bit influenced by the Left. This is not merely a refusal of the Left’s ideological content, but of its organizational forms as well, from meetings run by Robert’s Rules of Order to various kinds of party-building. But nothing unites post-left anarchism beyond this negation, leaving a disparate gaggle of personalities in Hakim Bey (ontological anarchy/TAZ), Bob Black (abolition of work), John Zerzan (primitivism), Wolfi Landstreicher (Stirnerite egoism), et al, to frivolously romp through post-left anarchism’s vacuous playground. In contrast, identity anarchism is all about a positive if problematic relationship with the Left, from its ideological borrowings from Marxism-Leninism (imperialism, colonialism, etc.) to its lineage on the Left (via the quasi-Maoist Black Panther Party). The lame debates within the heavily Maoist New Communist Movement regarding the staid National Question contributed to the formulation of a “white skin privilege” theory (by way of Sojourner Truth/Noel Ignatiev) which, when suitably tweaked by proponents of “male privilege,” conjugated a critique of patriarchal white supremacy fully embraced by identity anarchism. Thus, identity anarchism’s embrace of Panther anarchism (of Alston, Ervin, Balagoon, Barrow, Jackson, N’Zinga, White, Sostre, following the BPP’s demise) seems almost an afterthought, offering no serious counterweight to the Marxism, Leninism, Maoism and Third Worldism it enthusiastically embraces.

I will use post-left anarchism and identity anarchism in the remainder of this column as convenient shorthand for generic categories, which means I will also overly simplify who belongs to what camp.

Post-left anarchism has a decent presence in the East Bay through Anarchy, a Journal of Desire Armed, the annual BASTARD conference, and the Anarchist Study Group. The Study Group has been meeting weekly at the Long Haul in Berkeley for over a decade. It is structured through reading and discussing agreed-upon texts, publicly advertises locally and online, and is open to anyone to attend. At the beginning of 2013, the Study Group embarked on several months of investigation into Maoism, focusing on the New Communist Movement, reading primary documents related to the RCP, MIM, the BPP, STORM, and a plethora of alphabet soup Maoist organizations. Needless to say, these post-left anarchists were highly critical of the NCM and Maoism. Aragorn! went so far as to publish a lengthy criticism on his self-titled blog based on their studies in mid-March.

A group of identity anarchists “intervened” during a regular Tuesday night Long Haul Anarchist Study Group meeting sometime after that blog post. Hannibal Shakur, an activist in Occupy Oakland’s Decolonization tendency who is fighting vandalism charges after participation in the Trayvon Martin riots, was prominent in the newly organized Qilombo Social Center in Oakland. He and his crew attended the Study Group meeting, it seems not merely to dispute their post-left anarchist critique of Maoism, the NCM and the BPP, but also to challenge their right to pursue such independent study at all. The identity anarchists harassed and harangued the post-left anarchists, and in the heat of the argument between the two sides, post-left anarchist Lawrence Jarach made a categorical statement so typical of orthodox anarchism. To paraphrase, Jarach contended that: “All churches must be burned to the ground.” An identity anarchist demanded: “But what about the black churches?” To which Jarach responded: “The black churches must be burned … all churches must be burned.” The disagreements only got nastier from there, with open acrimony escalating into implied threat.

At some point, passionate ideological disagreement turned into calculated sectarian purge. The annual San Francisco Bay Area Anarchist Bookfair set up operations at the Crucible in Oakland on May 22, 2014. The one-day bookfair gathered a multitude of anarchist tendencies, among them the AJODA/CAL Press vendor table and the Qilombo Center table. An “attack initiated by three people (and about ten supporters) from Qilombo began around 3:40pm when I was cornered near the restroom,” reported Lawrence Jarach, “and continued after I walked back to the CAL Press/Anarchy magazine vendor table, ending at around 4 when we decided to leave.” AJODA has since issued an Open Letter to Bay Area Anarchists protesting the Qilombo assault as well as the general anarchist apathy toward this successful purge. Those associated with the attack on Jarach in turn have communicated the following: “Qilombo was not involved in the altercation you mention that took place at the Bay Area Anarchist Bookfair, and the space has no comment on the matter. Lawrence Jarach came by the Qilombo table and antagonized a few of our volunteers, so those volunteers took it upon themselves as autonomous individuals to call him out for something that occurred at an another venue, at another point in time, and requested that he leave the bookfair. If you would like more details, you will need to reach out to the actual parties involved.”

Tim Yo would have called this final evasion candy-assed.

Last column, I mentioned the feminist “intervention” at the May 9-11, 2014 Portland, Oregon Law & Disorder Conference and the increasingly acrimonious debate between Kristian Williams and the organizers of the event Patriarchy and the Movement, over the tactics of individuals and groups professing identity politics within larger leftist political circles. That the victims of patriarchal sexism and violence and their defenders are so outspoken in speech and print about the need to purge the perpetrators from The Movement only underscores the clarity of their actions. I suspect that, amongst themselves, Shakur and his identity anarchist/Qilombo brigade have summarily convicted Jarach of racism, exercising his white skin privilege, and supporting white supremacy in insisting purely on principle that all churches need to be burned down, even the black ones. Yet they won’t publicly cop to running him out of the anarchist bookfair for such reasons. That they haven’t openly taken responsibility for their thuggish behavior to, in effect, purge Jarach and AJODA from the Movement is low, even for Maoism masquerading as anarchism.

These concerted efforts to purge people from The Movement based on their ideology, or their behavior, are the self-righteous acts of those who would be judge, jury, and executioner. When Tim Yo made his futile attempt in MRR to purge punk rock back to its basics, the results were predictable. The magazines Punk Planet, Heart attaCk and Shredding Paper started publishing circa 1994 to challenge MRR’s definition of punk and hegemony over the scene, followed shortly thereafter by Hit List. However, I doubt that Qilombo’s attempt to purge Lawrence Jarach and fellow AJODA members will have similarly salutary effects.


Tribal War! by Mykel Board

Mykel Board - You're Wrong!

Mykel Board – You’re Wrong!


by Mykel Board

The leftist ideologue, like the Christian bible thumper, is entirely evangelical– she will not be satisfied until everyone who doesn’t think like she does is either converted or jailed under hate crime legislation. – Jim Goad

The trouble with being a leftist– or a rightist– is that you soon discover so many people “on your side” are complete assholes. –Mykel Board

Fuck! I’m gonna die! I sit a the computer, typing these words. My stomach is killing me. Last night… a visit to Todd’s Mill, a new bar in town. Now my body now seeks revenge… in spades. The even browner brown ale makes its way through my large intestine. I trace the path. I’m not even sure I’ll be able to finish this sen…. Hang on!

Holy shit! That was great! I needed it…. and I shat an L-shaped turd! How is that possible? A turd cannot make a sudden turn? Look at it. Squeeze a tube of toothpaste. It may not squirt in a perfectly straight line, but a right angle? It defies logic. Can’t happen! But there it is… in the toilet. A turd… from my own body… at right angles to itself. Plain as the stain on my fingertips. I flush before I think to take a picture (a selfie?). You’ll just have to believe me… but how did it happen?

Flash to the 1980s: I write a column about the Toronto Anarchist Convention. At that convention, I’m annoyed by, among other things, a workshop called: Creating Spaces: for women only. How can you have an anarchist space “for women only?” It defies logic. Can’t happen!

I scribble in a blank calendar spot: KLANARCHY: for whites only. In half an hour, my scribbling is x-ed off. In an hour, the whole calendar is down. My protest disappears like an L-shaped turd.

Flash to this year May: I’ve written elsewhere about an Oakland Anarchist bookfair. The editor of Anarchy Magazine calls for a burning of the churches. Okay, he’s an anarchist. That’s what they do.

“What about black churches?” comes a shout from the audience.

“Burn the black churches. Burn ALL the churches,” comes the response.

What happens? Volunteers for Qilombo, a black anarchist group, confront the editor and his pals. BAM! Out of the conference. LEAVE, NOW! Why?

“You said BURN THE BLACK CHURCHES! That makes you a racist.”

Two groups of anarchists. Both anti-government. At right angles, one group attacking the other– becoming the cops they hate. It’s like an L-shaped turd! Impossible.

But wait, there’s more. In an amazing YouTube video, two groups of feminists demonstrate on campus. There’s a march. Actually they’re trying to start the march. It’s not exactly clear what’s happening, but they can’t seem to get the thing started. They’re shouting at each other.

“This march is for women only! Everyone needs their own space.”

“Why does women’s space exclude trans-women? You’re defining what women are…?”

“I’m not defining! I’m….”

And this is all at high-pitched screeching volume in those girl voices that are as annoying as– and even more piercing than– frat-boy guffaws. I bet it would be fun to watch on acid…. I haven’t taken acid in 30 years.

Flash to: An anarchist conference in Portland Oregon, 2013. Not satisfied with their own space, Portland anarcha-femmes hold the whole conference hostage. In a presentation, they rise as a trained choir and shout together,


They shout it over and over again. The speaker can’t speak. She’s silenced by the spoken mob violence of the protestors. Their totalitarianism blocks any communication… Government censorship is no more effective than this bunch.

And so it goes. Each sensitive group is so concerned about ITSELF. So ME! MY TRIBE! that it no longer matters what people believe… only what they ARE. Biology is destiny!

I’m a Person of Color®. I’m a Womyn®. I’m a Trans-Woman/Man/Am®. I’m a fill-in-the-blank. You can’t know what it’s like. Jesus fuckin’ christ!

I’m a Jew. I love matzo-ball soup, bagels, and the hora. Every Passover, I go to a Seder. Every Yom Kippur, I fast. BUT, I don’t give a shit if YOU’RE NOT A JEW. You’re welcome to matzo-ball soup, bagels, my Seder, fasting… and the hora. The synagogue may be Jew-space, but you can come in and join me there.

Why do we need tribal warfare? Why do we need space ONLY FOR US? It’s a cheap version of the whites-only country clubs. Who needs it?

Enough ME, already. It’s a staple of the right. Margaret Thatcher once famously said, “There is no society” ONLY ME!

Leftist identilovers say “there is no society” ONLY MY TRIBE. Who needs it? I don’t need to be defined by the lack of foreskin on my penis. Poverty, economic inequality, the erosion of personal freedom, these are not ME issues! They are WE issues.

Flash to Punk Rock: Ratos de Porao are in New York for the first time in more than a decade. Yowsah! They’re playing at a Latino metal / punk fest in Queens. White metal, Latino metal (that is, white metal with finer asses), white punk, and RATOS! You’re too young to remember when Brazilian hardcore was king of the world. Think Ohlo Seco and Colera. Ratos was part of that.

I’m late to the show. I had to teach until 9 and it was a long subway ride. I walk from the subway to the club in Queens. Esneider lives around here, maybe he’ll be at the show. That building ahead. BLACKTHORN, it says on the awning. The whole building is black. Outside are a bunch of Hispanic guys– my size, long hair, wearing black. This must be the place.

Gilberto waits for me outside.

“Ola Mykel,” he says, “you’re three hours late. You become Mexican or something?”


I walk in, grab a beer at the bar. On stage is a bouncer. A big white guy, with a bigger belly. He’s pyramid-shapped. Not aggressive, just standing there… dull eyed. He’s got the heavy-lidded, hung-lipped look of someone whose numchucks are more numb than chucked.

Also on stage is DRIVEN MAD. It’s a metal band. I don’t like metal… The band is all long-hairs except for the singer. Shaved head, he looks a fuck of a lot like Ben Weasel. He sounds like Jello Biafra would, if someone were squeezing his balls.

And he’s all over the place. KABLU! He leaps from the stage to the bar. Pole dancing like those guys on the subway. Then SPLOW! On the floor… this way… that way… confronting… and loving… the audience at the same time. The crowd is eating it up. They should be. This guy is great. This band is great. The best thing I’ve seen in ages. This isn’t metal. It’s… It’s… Then it hits me. IT DOESN’T MATTER!

Between songs, he speaks… in Spanish. It’s school Spanish, as formal as in Spain, but he speaks to the Latino crowd IN SPANISH… becoming WE instead of ME! I’m in love!

There’s a bigger pit for the next band. The singer stays on stage, so the crowd makes the action instead. I move toward the back as the mosh pit grows. Most of the audience is Hispanics. That means they’re more my size. Who can I stand behind? A five foot four inch guy doesn’t make much of a shield for a five foot three-inch guy.

The adrenaline is rushing. A girl, skinny, wearing leather pants and a tight tank top, pushes her way through the crowd to the pit. That’s what I like to see. Girls in the pit.

But… she’s got something to prove. Not only is she smashing her fellow dancers, she’s slamming into the audience, pushing random people, throwing them down, not giving a fuck. She pushes me. I punch her in the stomach. A karate chop… kung fu actually. THWAP. Not thinking… just a split second reaction. I feel her tight abdomen against the side of my hand. She doesn’t blink an eye. I wait for the delayed reaction… a subtle hand rubbing the offended part. Nothing. I’m disappointed… or relieved.

Ah, the sound booth. Just three steps up, but those three steps give me just the boost I need. I can see… be slightly above the crowd, and in relatively safety. I climb two steps and stand next to a door that says PLEASE DON’T LEAN ON THE DOOR. I don’t lean on the door.

A prissy skinny guy with a blond beard and tight black jeans pushes past me. I step down to let him enter the booth. The band plays. It’s more heavy metal, and I’m lovin’ it. The prissy guy returns and glares at me. Doesn’t say a word. I smile.

“Move!” he says.

I step down. He enters the sound booth. I go back on the stairs. The pit looks more violent now. Some meatheads, fists swinging, looking for trouble. They’re banging into other meatheads. Those meatheads bang back. There’s gonna be a fight.. a big brawl between these guys. I can see it. One of ’em is down. Here comes the boot to the head… Nope… Another guy bends toward him… helps him up… They hug… laugh… Best pals in the world… Holy shit!

The door of the sound booth opens. Prissy boy whacks it hard against me.

“Look,” he says through gritted teeth, “you can’t stand there. Can’t you read the sign?”

He points to the DO NOT LEAN sign.

“I think so,” I tell him. He tsks loudly and goes out. He’s soon back and I jump off the stairs to accommodate him. In a few seconds, a monster white guy appears. Tree-trunk muscles, shaved head, tight black t-shirt that should,–but doesn’t– say DON’T YOU DARE FUCK WITH ME. He stands at the top of the stairs, so I can’t.

I get it. Our bearded whiteguy told SECURITY about what a trouble maker I was. So, instead of a 5’3” old Jewish guy on the stairs, there’s a 9 foot monster on the stairs. Yeah, that helps the situation… makes a clear passage. I go for another beer, return and stand right next to the staircase. The monster glares at me. I smile.

Before long, the monster leaves for the men’s room. Can I do it? I press in my stomach muscles. Push the fingers of my right hand against my tonue. YES!!! I puke on the stairs. Then I move up to the side of the stage.

I stand next to a colored bouncer, at the edge of the stage. Ratos are on now. And things are gonna get even better. The first few songs are fun, kind of speed metal punk… hardcore with a lot of mugging from Gordo, the singer, who must be almost as old as I am. The crowd is wild. The band is having a great time. I return with another beer.

Fuck, the same girl I chopped in the stomach is at it again. PLOW! She’s on stage… throwing her arms around… hip-smashing Estevan. the new guitar player. He’s only trying to remember his chords. She’s an asshole. No way around that. POW! Security is up. there. First the white guy– the nine foot tall macho booth protector. He grabs her by the hair… pulls… drags her to the side.

POW TWO! Her boyfriend, long hair… skinnier than most… leather jacket. He shoulders through the crowd and leaps over the barrier onto the stage. KABLAM! He lands one on the bouncer’s neck… a fist… not a karate chop. STABOOM! The black bouncer standing next to me is on the stage… and the retarded white guy is in the middle of it… fending off blows while the black guy punches back. Then the other white guy… the macho one… sent by the sound crew to protect them from me… gets in the action.

The band stops. Shouts of MATA LOS something-or-other rise from the crowd. PANIC. People run toward the door, t-shirts over their noses. Why? I don’t… shit… I’m dripping snot… not dripping… flowing, snot puddles down my mustache, soaking my beard like twat juice from a squirter. My eyes burn. Fuck, they maced the crowd. The bouncers sprayed everyone. Show’s over, I’m getting out of here.

Gilberto grabs my shoulder, pulling me like a dad trying to save his drowning son… into the entrance… to the front door. The door glass is smashed. The outside gate is down… over the glass… KABLOW, something smashes into that gate. It bulges but does not break. We’re frantic… looking for a way out. There is an exit… with an emergency PUSH HERE handle… one way… like at a bank ATM. We’re on it. WEEEE-EEEE-EEE WEEE-EEEE-EEE. The alarm? A police siren? No time to check. We’re outta there.

Flash to the next day: Gilberto and I are off to see R-Tronika at ABC NO RIO. Who should be at the door waiting to collect my 8 dollars? Esneider!

“What happened to you last night?” I ask. “I thought you’d be at the Ratos show. Let me tell you about it!”

“I’ve already seen it,” he says. “It was on YouTube last night.”

“Why weren’t you there?” I ask.

“That’s a heavy metal place,” he says. “Not my thing… by the way, what color were the bouncers?”

“Black and white,” I tell him.

He shakes his head. “That always happens. Black and white guys don’t get Latinos. They think there’s violence. Then they MAKE the violence.”

Yo, he’s right and wrong.

Wrong: musical correctness, making THIS kind of music okay and THAT kind of music “not my thing.” Before yesterday, I thought that way too. I learned. Maybe I knew all along. In Mexico, or Guyana, or Estonia, I saw folk music with speed metal with pop punk. Sometimes all from the same band. “I like the music,” rather than I AM A PUNK ROCKER. No one gives a fuck what you are!

Right: Sometimes race can make a difference. If those bouncers were Hispanic, the riot wudda never happened. The shithead girl would have been grabbed, lifted over the barrier, and gone back into the crowd. Maybe someone else would have punched her.

So my ME vs WE thesis has a hole, as does every generalization. Sometimes race is important. It’s certainly worth considering to preserve the peace. You wouldn’t hire a black guard to frisk under the sheets at a Klan rally. We can bend identity… use it… but we don’t need to be trapped by it. Ruled by it. So here’s my conclusion.

We need more I LIKE than I AM. We need more, LET’S WORK AS PEOPLE, than LET’S WORK AS (Blacks, Women, Transsexuals, Latinos, Jews, Muslims, Whites, blah blah blah). Narrow identity destroys HUMAN identity.

English has two kinds of WE: the INCLUSIVE– you and me– like we need to end hunger in America. There’s also the EXCLUSIVE WE– me and my group– like we need our own space. That means This is not YOUR space. We (inclusive) need more of the former and a fuck of a lot less of we (exclusive).

I’ll be in Detroit in June. It’s the Alternative Media Conference. The workshops will sewers of identitute. Some examples?

* POC-led Healing and Organizing Strategies
* Smashing Assumptions: Muslimahs in Sport
* Black Femme Blogger Meet-Up (I shit you not)

and my favorite: Creative Digestion for People of Color (I L-shaped-turd-double-shit-you -not.) That one includes this description: In this caucus we will reclaim the dirtiest parts of ourselves, and explore how cleanliness and hierarchies of fluids stem from colonialism, capitalism, and ableism. We will also discuss how the white supremacist capitalist food system affects our relationships with eating, fucking, and excretion. Come prepared to make art, share stories, and get messy. This is a POC-only space.

Uh oh, looks like I’m going to have to bring my calendar-scribbling pen: CREATIVE EXCRETION FOR WHITE JEWS. This is an OJF (Old Jewish Farts)-only space. I’ll let you know what happens.


The Left Will Eat Itself by Mykel Board

Mykel Board - Street Carnage

Mykel Board – Street Carnage

by Mykel Board

All the nobility should be hanged… strangled with the guts of the priests.” -Jean Meslier, often quoted by the anarchist left.

In addition to ass-fucking, the Greeks invented the Ouroboros: a snake eating its own tail. According to Wikipedia, the symbol meant “self-reflexivity or cyclicality.”

I disagree. That snake is not cyclical, but self-destructive. It’s eating itself… thinking that the meat is fine nourishment. A feast… until that snake disappears down its own throat.

The Ouroboros is The Left in America… in the world. They have a never-ending history of eating themselves. During the Spanish Civil war, the Communists let the Fascists win… so the anarchists wouldn’t take control. That’s Ouroboros. In Russia, the lefty Bolsheviks took power in 1917. First in front of the firing squad: the lefty Mensheviks. That’s Ouroboros. Traditionally, the libertarian left loses to the totalitarian left.– but the war continues. That’s Ouroboros.

Leftists imagine everyone on the right are hood-wearing, religious fanatics who want to outlaw condoms, invade Iran, and pull milk bottles from the hands of colored babies. You’ll see leftist accusations against the Tea Party for the sins of the Westboro Baptists.

Likewise, those on the right imagine a monolithic left– Obama, Che Guevara and Ted Kaczynski. Together planning the downfall of White America as they know it. The reality is much different.

Take anarchists… please!

What could be more anarchist that church-burning? It’s not, of course, their exclusive province. Last centruy, black southern churches were burned by the racist right. In Norway, the Heavy Metal Satanists did the burning.

Still, anarchist antipathy to THE CHURCH is as old as anarchism itself. Throughout history, anarchists have called for the destruction of religion… and the church– all churches.

The cast of characters:

Lawrence Jarach: editor of Anarchy: A Journal of Desire Armed”

Qilombo “a racial community social center”: individuals involved are not identified

The scene: [Note: I’m piecing this together from what I’ve read and heard. I wasn’t there. I’ve asked each side to comment. Only Anarchy Magazine has taken up the offer.]

It’s the Bay Area Anarchist Book Fair. Lawrence Jarach makes a speech… as anarchists are wont to do. [Note: According to Lawrence, the actual comments were made in December– MONTHS before the Book Fair. “It was not a speech,” he insists, “just comments in a discussion.”] Whatever you call it, it, unsurprisingly, advocated BURN THE CHURCHES.]

Lawrence: The churches must be burned!

Qilombo supporter: What about the black churches?

Lawrence: The black churches must be burned.. All churches must be burned!

Months later, at the book fair, according to an email from Lawrence:

the attack initiated by three people (and about ten supporters) from Qilombo began around 3:40pm when I was cornered near the restroom, and continued after I walked back to the CAL Press/Anarchy magazine vendor table, ending at around 4 when we decided to leave;

This is censorship, plain and simple. How can people excuse such tactics… especially anarchists? Well, let’s see. Lawrence posted a letter explaining what happened And how did the other side respond?

yes, “burn black churches” …this candid comment he made during a public meeting was called out at the bookfair, he (Lawrence) was told to leave. being an anarchist doesn’t give you a pass to make blatantly racist comments. especially in historically black oakland.

what people did at the bookfair is nothing compared to what could have happened if the comment was made around black people and not a room full of majority white anarchists–you’re lucky you actually haven’t actually gotten an assbeating for it. and the fact that there is no sort of apology or remorse for these words, only displays you’re white-entitlement.

Besides the awful grammar, this shows incredible politics. Groups opposed to government violence and laws enforced with that violence– threaten their own violence. Not only do they become the government, they become the cops.

Identity anarchy vs class anarchy vs lifestyle anarchy. You need a scorecard to tell the players. It would be funny if… No! It IS funny!! Hilarious. I get quotes on my facebook posts like, “racism has nothing to do with race.” How else can your respond except hahahahahahaha? I’m waiting for the TV sitcom.

The anarchists mirror the commies (Stalin vs Lenin), the feminists (Sluts vs Prudes), the liberals (hate Obama vs hate The Nation). The left is so busy in-fighting that they barely have time for anyone else.

The right, of course, has it’s own in-fighting: National Socialists vs Libertarians vs Christian Rightists vs White Powerites (Identity Politics from the other side). But that’s another column.

Right now, I’m off to HEAVY-R to jerk off to some guy getting his balls nailed to a table. Just don’t forward this to any anarchists. That next pair of balls might just be mine.


Politically correct identity thuggery

The following post is from LibCom, regarding the thuggery increasingly demonstrated by people practicing identity politics.

There was an intervention at a conference in Portland yesterday. It doesn’t quite reach the levels of the “smack a white boy” crimethinc intervention in terms of cringe-inducing inward focused leftist cultish behaviour, but it comes close.

Here’s the video of the intervention:

There was some kind of massive argument about a previous conference that led to Kristian Williams publishing this piece.

This annoyed lots of people who decided Kristian Williams shouldn’t be allowed to speak, as by questioning other people’s accounts of the fallout following a mishandled mediation process related to a sexual assault incident, he is silencing victims and via Maoist guilt by association mechanisms almost as guilty as the actual sexual assaulter.

Patriarchy and the Movement statement from 2013.

KW statement about recent incident.

All links in the original LibCom post have been converted into hyperlinks.

Essentialism and the Problem of Identity Politics

Lawrence Jarach
Essentialism and the Problem of Identity Politics

Preliminary Theses for a Longer Discussion on Essentialism and the Problem of Identity Politics

1. Essentialism is the idea that there exists some detectible and objective 
core quality of particular groups of people that is inherent, eternal, and unalterable; groupings can be categorized according to these qualities of essence, which are based on such problematic criteria as gender, race, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation, and class. These external qualities are almost always marked by visual cues, making the categories more obvious and/or easier to notice. These qualities contain social and — more importantly from an antiauthoritarian perspective — hierarchical significance to those marking the cues and those marked by the cues: sexism, in the case of gender; racism in the case of skin tone; the unwanted attention of authorities in the case of any and all different looking/acting people. Racism, sexism, classism, and most other forms of historical oppression are ideologies and policies maintained and justified by essentialism.

2. For a person or group of people on the receiving end of racism and sexism (etc.), essentialism can appear to be a powerful defensive perspective and counter-narrative. Rather than promoting categories of denigration and subordination, the counter-essentialist discourse of Identity Politics attempts to invert the historical categories of oppression into categories of celebration. This is often initiated by appropriating insults and turning them into acceptable, even honorable, labels. What had once been intended to harm the Other thereby becomes a way to show pride in the Group Self. Keeping with the inversion process, the counter-essentialist often merely turns the categories of Otherness upside-down, making visually identifiable members of the Oppressor group into enemies. A sense of belonging either to a group that has oppressed or been oppressed is immaterial — essentialism is not the exclusive domain of oppressors.

3. The discourse of counter-essentialism includes the ideologies of innocence and victimization, which can quickly transform an identity based on the history of shared oppression into a posture of superiority. Counter-essentialism supposedly proves that the victim is eternally innocent, so victims’ actions and reactions are forever beyond reproach; all good Christians know that suffering is ennobling. Oppression is never the result of anything the victim has actually done to the Oppressor, so whatever strategies of resistance the victim chooses are legitimate. Self-defense is its own justification.

4. The adherents of Identity Politics rarely — if ever — question the criteria leading to victimization. They can’t conceive of the possibility that the elevation of any particular culturally constructed marker into a significant value — laden category could lead to oppression. Unlike Oppressor essentialists, counter-essentialists ignore the complexities of relations of power (which are conditional and contingent); but like Oppressor essentialists, they revel in the smug self-assurance that their Identity is static, independent, and eternal. Essentialists create and maintain their own privileges through the institutionalization of power; counter-essentialists through the institutionalization of innocence.

5. Franz Fanon, Ernesto “Che” Guevara, Patrice Lumumba, and many other Third World national liberationists even less reputable to anarchists (like Castro, Tito, and Mao) inspired generations of self-described revolutionaries in the Imperial Metropole to fight against discrimination, racism, colonialism, and oppression. That all these Third World nationalists thought, wrote, and acted within a statist — and usually Marxist-Leninist, which is to say Stalinist — framework is also clear. Despite this, as successful anti-imperialists, they retain a certain appeal and credibility among anarchists. After all, what anarchist would be in favor of imperialism?

6. The philosophy and vision of self-determination requires an appeal to world political opinion; it is as if so-called revolutionary nationalists wanted to say: “We are mature enough to run our own governments, make treaties, engage in trade with the established states of the world, and control troublesome dissidents.” On a certain level, these soon-to-be national leaders accepted and promoted the justification for colonialism — namely that the natives were too child-like or uneducated to determine the proper exploitation of the natural resources of their lands. They wanted to show — either through the force of morality (as in the totally mythologized case of Gandhi) or the force of arms (as in the totally romanticized case of Che and others) — that they were worthy of being reckoned and negotiated with, and eventually recognized as equal partners in the realm of statecraft. National borders invented and imposed by colonial powers would be respected, trade agreements would generally (or eventually) be concluded with the former colonial power, laws drawn up by the former colonial masters against internal dissidence would continue to be used, etc. The native bourgeoisie took over all the institutions of government, deflecting — through appeals to explicitly cross-class ethno-national unity and solidarity — the more basic struggle between exploiter and exploited.

7. The gender- and ethnic-based liberation movements in Europe and the United States of the late-1960s/early-1970s took their ideological cues and justifications from these successful anti-colonialist struggles. The rhetoric of Third World national liberation was used constantly, to the point where many African-Americans, some women and other self-identified oppressed groups began to describe themselves as “internal colonies.” Minorities of all kinds had already been identified as subordinate Others by the elites of hierarchical societies; the facile identification of the colonial exploiter and his institutions as the oppressive Other is at the heart of the trouble with Identity Politics. The assigning of blame, responsibility, and guilt to everyone identified as belonging to the category of oppressive Other curtails the possibility of transcending hierarchy and domination; this process merely inverts the values placed on particular classes or groups of people, regardless of their personal complicity in historical or contemporary oppression.

8. For most women liberationists, the category of Woman — reduced to a hermetic category based only on gender — became the only category of importance. The denigration and oppression of women was clear everywhere: discrimination, rape and other forms of violence, harassment, the expectation and enforcement of motherhood and heterosexuality, and the myriad ways of keeping women dependent and subservient. Women liberationists declared Patriarchy to be the Enemy, some taking the next logical step and making Men — reduced to a hermetic category based only on gender — the Enemy. 
For most black nationalists, the category of Black — reduced to a hermetic category based on genetics and race — became the only category of importance. The denigration and oppression of blacks was clear everywhere: discrimination in the form of Jim Crow, lynching and other forms of violence, harassment (especially by law enforcement), the expectation and enforcement of servility, and the myriad ways of keeping black people dependent and subservient. Black nationalists declared White Racism to be the Enemy, some taking the next logical step and making White People — reduced to a hermetic category based on genetics and race — the Enemy.

9. Race and gender, similar to other culturally specific ideological constructs, are both real and unreal. Unreal in the biological sense; conceptions of these distinctions do not correspond to objective — that is, non-culturally based — categories. Real in the sociological sense; there are clear ways of discerning racism, sexism, and other forms of domination and exploitation regardless of any particular cultural context. They are therefore deserving of critical attention. Those who champion the discourse of gender studies have done an excellent job in analyzing and shattering the contingent nature of how gender is understood, showing that particular combinations of chromosomes and genitalia are only a part (and arguably not even the most important part) of what makes gender meaningful. Critical race theory is also an encouraging and interesting recent anti-essentialist development.

10. Colonialists and their apologists consistently promote mythico-ideological categories of domination. People opposed to hierarchical institutions already understand and expect that. The main conceptual contradiction of anti-imperialists (those who supposedly oppose colonial practices) is their own acceptance of Euro-American prejudices and stereotypes — only with the values inverted. The categories of denigrated Other (black, savage, woman) created and maintained for the exclusive benefit of Eurosupremacists and sexists are not called into question; their objectivity is self-evident, based on the common sense of the culture originally created by the racists and sexists. Everyone can tell whether someone is male or female — it’s biological. Everyone can tell whether someone is black or white — it’s scientific. Even before (but especially during) the formative years of European colonialism, Science and Biology were seen as methodologies for discerning Objective Reality. Anti-imperialists, as good Marxist-Leninists, find nothing troubling about Science; it’s what separates their particular ideology from all other forms of socialism. However, Science is an ideologically driven pursuit. Thinking of Science as some neutral examination and discernment of facts for the sake of technological progress, increasing human liberation, and knowledge about the universe should be treated as any other form of wishful thinking. Knowledge is not separate from the uses to which it has been and is currently being put.

11. Group self-definition would seem to fit in with the anarchist principles of self-organization and voluntary association. Counter-essentialist identity can even be understood as an attempt to recapture kinship-based community, destroyed by the imposition of industrial capitalism (which is based on division of labor and the resulting atomization and alienation of individuals from each other). It remains problematic, however, because it is an identity forged within the ideology of victimization; it rests on the same arbitrary and constructed categories that were previously formulated to justify oppression. Creating a supposedly liberatory counter-narrative that remains based on visual markers can never possibly question the validity of an oppressive ideology. The other problem is the promotion of an ideologically constructed identity. Such an identity demands group loyalty and solidarity over and above the actual lived experiences of the individuals involved. 
The person who is attracted to the promised sense of belonging offered by any institution (whether an oppressed group, a hierarchical organization, or any formation promoting Unity) must agree to the prior distinctions and categories created by others. Once the counter-essentialist agrees to the boundaries of inclusion/exclusion (which is step one on the road to separatism), s/he can’t identify or be identified any other way; whatever criteria already exist in the counter-essentialist narrative are the only ones that matter. This Identity Fundamentalism requires that any person interested in radical transformation relinquish the ability to define her/himself. S/he must dissolve any self-awareness into pre-existing categories of significance. Biology — no matter its ideological and cultural constraints — is Destiny; subjectivity can only be sacrificed and/or suppressed. One of the first authoritarian lies is that someone else knows better.

Essentialists, merely by casting a cursory glance at their chosen Other, already know all they need to know about that person. Separatists, nationalists, anti-imperialists — essentialists all — call that Liberation


Bob Black: Post-Left Anarchism

Bob Black: Post-Left Anarchism

By Bob Black

The latest – I dare to hope, the last — Bay Area Anarchist Bookfair (Marxist-Opportunist) took place on March 22, 2014, in Oakland, at “The Crucible.” This long-running event was previously the San Francisco Anarchist Bookfair, until high rents forced it to relocate to the East Bay. Its ostensible sponsor is the Bound Together, nominally-anarchist bookstore in Haight-Ashbury. Traditionally, Bound Together fronted for AK Press, supposedly a collective, which was founded, funded, and dominated by a foreign businessman named Ramsey Kanaan whose immigration status remains mysterious. When, after a few years, the AK Press collective came to be not in complete agreement with Kanaan about policy, he left and founded, funded, and dominated, PM Press, which, to the outside observer, is, in its publishing decisions, indistinguishable from AK Press. I don’t know which publisher now controls this Bookfair. This is one of many things which the victims of the recent outrage at the Bookfair probably know, but which they do not disclose. But it is unmistakably under the control of anarcho-leftists who are far more leftist than anarchist, and who only grudgingly allow post-left anarchists to table.

Several post-left anarchist projects are active in the East Bay: C.A.L. Press; Anarchy: A Journal of Desire Armed [AJODA]; and LBC Books/Distribution. They were at the Bookfair. Their publications and distribution have challenged AK Press and PM Press both politically and commercially. The Bookfair management (which does not identify itself) would really rather that these anarchists weren’t there, but, it can’t think of any reason to refuse their being there. It can, however, quietly encourage terrorist actions to get rid of the real anarchists.

At the end of this Bookfair (close to 6:00 PM), a mob of Politically Correct vandals – according to the tablers (John, Lisa and Lawrence), a dozen goons – launched a surprise attack on the table shared by C.A.L. Press and Anarchy Magazine. The thugs, as they screamed threats, poured water all over the table, destroying many books and magazines – including copies of at least one of my books! there will be retaliation for this! And I will send them a bill! The people at the table, surprised and heavily outnumbered, cannot be blamed for not fighting back. But the bystanders can be blamed. But, they can be blamed – as I shall go on to do – for covering up for the thugs, and for not telling what they know about the background to this story, and for not publicly identifying those involved.

I strongly protest the complete cover-up of who did this, and why. Even I, from afar, with scant help from the victims, can relate more about this incident than its victims have made public – and even more than they have privately related. I strongly object to the failure of the victims’ “Open Letter to Bay Area Anarchists” to explain the back story to this attentat. It can’t be justified, but it can be explained.

Once upon a time, in some anarchist context which (once again) I don’t know about, Lawrence Jarach got into an argument with some black anarchist about the Anarchist Persons of Colors’ practice of collaboration with reactionary black churches. He reportedly said something like, “we should burn the black churches, and the white churches too.” I hardly need to say – or do I? – that Christian churches have historically been the allies of the state and the enemies of anarchists. That is why the great classical anarchists, such as Proudhon, Stirner, Bakunin, Kropotkin, Tucker, Malatesta, Goldman, etc. have been, not only anti-clerical, but anti-religious too. That is why, in the early period of the Spanish Revolution, the anarchists burned hundreds of churches, and put the others to better uses. The APOCs’ know nothing of this, as they know nothing about anarchist history, and as they know nothing about anarchism, and as they are not anarchists. A pox on APOCs!

Something else they know nothing about is what they scream about there not being: racial equality. To advocate the burning of all churches, black and white, as Lawrence did, for them means that Lawrence is a “white supremacist.” Racial equality is racist. Only whites can be racist. All you have to do is, if you are white, ride public buses in the lower-income areas of American cities, as I have done thousands of times, to find out otherwise.

But all that the “Open Letter to Bay Area Anarchists” (signed by Lawrence, John [Henri Nolette], and Lisa [L.D. Hobson] – the members of the Anarchy Magazine editorial/production group) says about this is, basically that in ostensibly anarchist “spaces,” such intimidation, bullying, etc., should not be tolerated. Let’s be warm and fuzzy! Let’s be very California! Let’s make nice! But some people are not nice. These thugs are not nice. And, for the record, neither am I. I am very not nice to people who are not nice. And my not-niceness is not limited to verbal unpleasantries. Nor am I forgiving. Water on my books isn’t water under the bridge: not now, not ever. Certain faces will also be watered – with tears.

I’m not saying that – although I’ve sat at that table twice – I would have responded more violently. At my age (63), I probably shouldn’t have. But I think I would have got into it anyway. And if two or three other people had joined me, I’m sure that I would have, and we would have, kicked some ass. All bullies are cowards. If it that got messy, that would probably have been the end of this Bookfair, and that would be a good thing. But I appreciate that the people at the table, outnumbered and caught by surprise, understandably didn’t fight back. But why is the back story a privately circulated secret? Especially since it has been so much gossiped about?

However, the anarcho-racists’ antagonism to Lawrence, even aside from its being irrational and anti-anarchist, does have a back story. The victims have concealed this, except for saying that this was done to them by “people associated with” Qilombo. They do not publicly identify the individuals involved. But privately, one of them has identified, as the ringleader, somebody calling himself “Hannibal Shakur.” I am sure that this is not the name under which he collects his welfare checks. However, he was one of the speakers on the anarcho-racist panel at the end of the Bookfair. I had to find this out by Googling. It’s obvious that at the end of the racist panel, Hannibal and his entourage just went over and trashed the CAL Press/AJODA table, although, no CAL Press publication, and no issue of AJODA has ever said anything against black racist pseudo-anarchism – an oversight, perhaps. It’s not just a cause for complaint that the thugs “were not asked to leave the bookfair” – they were its invited guests. This was an inside job. Imagine what would have happened to me if I watered the tables of AK Press, PM Press and See Sharp Press!

The “Open Letter to Bay Area Anarchists” should be circulated more widely than to Bay Area anarchists (who are mostly feckless). It should go to every group which tabled at the Bookfair. But it needs revision. The hmuliating offer to “mediate,” which was anyway predictably ignored, should be deleted. There should be a call to boycott the Bookfair until it publicly repudiates the “Qilombo” mob (which can’t even spell correctly!), and bans their future presence and participation, and financially compensates CAL Press and AJODA for their losses. Why should they pay? Because they are liable, at least for negligence, more likely for recklessness (consciously ignoring what they should have expected to happen), or even for authorizing the attentat. They are guilty until proven innocent.

In the “Open Letter,” the victims say about the thugs that they are “not actually their enemies.” Why not? You may not be their enemies – although you should be – but they are your enemies. It’s okay to be the enemies of anybody, even Persons of Color, if they are Negro Nazis. And it’s stupid not to be. I am literally, physically nauseated by the way the victims are covering up for their oppressors. I want to know names, and addresses, and phone numbers. I want to know where they work, in the unlikely event that they do, and where they go to school. Their employers (or their professors) should be identified and informed. It might be useful to obtain, and circulate, their criminal records. And I want to know (as I have heard conflicting versions) the race of these racists because they played the race card. Why not send a demand to the “black churches” on whose behalf this all supposedly happened to repudiate the action? If they don’t, they indeed deserve to be burned. You could send the demand to the white churches too. That’s racial equality. Burn, baby, burn!

In the words of that eloquent Negro slave song (alluding to the Flood and to the Last Judgment): “No more water, the fire next time!” First water; then fire.

The back story on Qilombo itself should be told, not just hinted at in private E-mails. This was apparently originally a punk anarchist type infoshop which, once it got going, was taken over by black militants, as recently as January. Its website states: “In January of 2014, the Holdout temporarily closed its doors to do some serious cleaning.” Yes: ethnic cleansing, It is not as if what happened at the Bookfair came out of nowhere. It came out of this vipers’ nest, at 2313 San Pablo Avenue. Who’s the landlord? Are these desirable tenants? It sounds like a soft target, much easier to trash than a table at a bookfair with hundreds of people around, even though those people were sheep. Two or three people with a car could do the trick. The Black Bloc could deal with these black blockheads. Out of town activists could do the job (I can think of some people who might be interested – one guy in particular), to whom blame could be assigned (“outside agitators”). I offer to my Bay Area friends, plausible deniability. And nobody will be extradited for the crime of trashing a Negro anarchist pesthole, although the police will regret the loss of their agent provocateurs. (Isn’t this an obvious possibility?) I wonder if Qilombo is also a weapons arsenal and a crackhouse.

From hints and scraps, I suspect that what happened at the Bookfair goes back to what happened at Occupy Oakland. This was one of the largest, and clearly the most radical of the Occupy actions. I have no doubt that every effort was made to involve all activists and all communities in Oakland. The later interlopers had every opportunity to get in at the beginning and shape the development of the project. But they didn’t. They put in no effort. They took no risks. But when Occupy Oakland got going, and got a lot of publicity, then these lazy POC opportunists butted in with their irrelevant, absurd “Decolonize” demands – as if Occupy was colonizing anything. That takeover attempt failed. But the pattern of parasitism continues. Were the Qilombo louts the Decolonize Occupy louts? I’m going to assume that they were, unless I see evidence to the contrary. Heah come de judge – Judge Dredd!

And what solidarity have Bay Area anarchists provided, since the “Open Letter” was circulated? None, unless the victims are turning this into yet another secret. On Facebook, a prominent East Bay post-left anarchist chieftain has dismissed the outrage as “drama.” Instead of taking action, he plays Kriegspiel. Several years ago, I discussed, with this same notable, my having been run out of the Bay Area in 1985 by leftist thugs. He assured me that such a thing could never happen again (if I returned), because then I had no defenders, but now I had allies to defend my back. Ever since I was driven away, I wanted to return. I liked living there better than anywhere I’ve lived before or since. The first time I visited, publicly, I tabled, at the San Francisco Anarchist Bookfair, with CAL Press/Anarchy Magazine. Because there had been threats, it was made clear to the Bookfair managers that any violence offered to me would have serious consequences. I was even provided with a bodyguard! And so my enemies (white leftists of the Processed World stripe) didn’t attempt anything. They too are, like the Qilombo bullies, like all bullies, cowards.

I no longer want to live in the Bay Area. I was moving toward this decision already, but this Bookfair outrage was decisive. I’ve observed the astounding rise in rents and in the cost of living, which has already forced all of my friends out of San Francisco (where I lived for four years) to the East Bay (where I lived for three years). Now the East Bay is becoming economically impossible, except for those of my friends who are so fortunate as to own houses. I see no way I could live there without sacrificing too much of my small income to housing. I was thinking about doing that anyway. Not now. If I have some friends in the Bay Area, I still have enemies too. The friends are not as reliable as the enemies. If I am assailed, my friends will dismiss my difficulties as “drama.” Since they don’t even defend themselves, or each other, they won’t defend me. And I am less than ever able to defend myself all by myself.

This announcement will delight my enemies, and it will probably also come as a relief to most of my “friends.” I am equally indifferent to both reactions. The enemies, however, might want to consider that, if I’m not local, I can strike at them and they can’t strike back. As for the friends, my respect for them has greatly declined.

I expect that, as a result of circulating this statement as widely as possible, the result will be absolutely nothing.

Bob Black
April 28, 2014

An Open Letter to Bay Area Anarchists

Lawrence Jarach - AJODA

Lawrence Jarach – AJODA


An ugly precedent has been set by the episode of crude authoritarian behavior at the 2014 SF Bay Area Anarchist Bookfair. The screaming, the threats of harm, the physical intimidation directed at us personally, as well as the vandalizing of the books and magazines on the CAL Press/Anarchy magazine table by a dozen or so people associated with the Quilombo social center was out of line. Such bullying, harassment, and intimidation should not be tolerated at anarchist events or in anarchist spaces merely because other anarchists might have unpopular ideas and use words that may not align with a particular perspective on identity politics.

So far, this bullying has not just been tolerated, in fact it has been rewarded; by choosing the safest path and walking away, we have helped to encourage it. The biggest vindication for those who instigated these antics is that, despite their threats of inflicting physical harm on other anarchists, and despite their refusal to talk about what they found so upsetting about our presence — even with those who, despite their best efforts, were unsuccessful in de-escalating the conflict — they were not asked to leave the bookfair.

Those from Quilombo who menaced us no doubt feel justified in targeting us, but the three of us individually, our project, and our six year old son are not actually their enemies. We have spoken to several people who are their comrades, and have expressed our willingness to engage in a mediated resolution to this conflict. We urge anyone who was frightened, appalled, or annoyed by the disruption at the bookfair to stand in favor of verbal mediation and against physical intimidation.

John, Lisa, and Lawrence
CAL Press/Anarchy magazine;